It’s Time to End MAGA Hat Discrimination

by Christopher Paslay

(Note: A version of this article was published September 11thon the American Thinker.)

Diversity of thought is just as important as diversity of culture. 

National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai wants me to stop wearing my Phillies hat.  Not because Makkai is from Chicago and the Phillies are battling the Cubs for the wild card, but because my Phillies hat is red, and too closely resembles President Trump’s MAGA hat.   

“Is anyone else made really uncomfortable these days by anyone wearing any kind of red baseball cap?” she recently tweeted, imploring “normal people” to refrain from wearing red hats because they are “making people scared.”   

As someone who’s worn both a Phillies cap inside Wrigley Field in Chicago and a MAGA hat in Philadelphia, I can tell you Makkai has it backwards: the fear is clearly being felt by those wearing the hats, not the other way around.

Not that Makkai has probably ever worn a MAGA hat, or been threatened by a Trump supporter.  Other than in the pretend world of Jussie Smollett, Chicagoans aren’t usually confronted by angry MAGA folk.  Makkai’s request that all red hats be removed most likely stems from her own concept of diversity, and how conservatives fail to fit the bill.                  

The irony here is thick. When it comes to race, religion, gender and sexuality, cultural gatekeepers like Makkai demand uncompromising inclusion.  Yet when it comes to political affiliation, these same advocates become incredibly narrow-minded. Diversity of thought doesn’t seem to be nearly as important as diversity of culture, and as a free and democratic society, this is cause for concern.

Makkai is employing a classic form of political affiliation discrimination, a kind of bigotry that silences opposing points of view via a two-part process.  First, the party out-of-favor with cultural elites has its positions maligned or misrepresented, a technique that contorts differing beliefs into hate-filled ideals that pass as reality.  Second, every person in the out-of-favor party is judged and stereotyped by these same public distortions, enabling the rest of society to discriminate against them without being accused of intolerance or bigotry.  

For example, Trump believes in merit-based immigration over a random lottery, and feels that refuges seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry, therefore he and his supporters are “xenophobes” who hate all immigrants.  Likewise, Trump supports Israel’s right to exist, scrutinizes countries with high populations of Islamic extremists, and sanctions countries like Iran who openly support terrorism, therefore he and his supporters are “Islamophobes” who hate all Muslims.

What if you only support Trump on things like taxes, abortion, energy or trade?  Doesn’t matter; you’re still a prime candidate for harassment.

In his new book, R.I.P. G.O.P., leading Democratic pollster and political strategist Stanley Greenberg gleefully predicted “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it,” prompting New York Times Opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg to pen the article, “Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?” In her piece she called the Republican Party a “foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce,” fantasizing not just about their defeat but about their complete and total destruction.  

Those who aim to shut down debate don’t want diversity, they want orthodoxy.  As George Orwell writes in 1984: “Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”  

Which is why Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted the names and employers of dozens of San Antonians who made donations to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, and why “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing demanded the Hollywood Reporter publish the names of actors planning to attend the Republican National Committee fundraiser in Beverly Hills.

And why Reza Aslan, HBO producer and former CNN host, called Trump and his supporters terrorists, insisting that “the MAGA hat is a KKK hood,” and that “this evil, racist scourge must be eradicated from society.”

And why Zack Ford, a writer for Think Progress, stated “you can’t both wear a MAGA hat and claim to love thy neighbor,” stereotyping millions of kind, good-hearted Americans in a single sentence. 

Unfortunately, our nation’s anti-discrimination laws protect Americans based on race, religion, gender and sexuality, but not political affiliation.  In other words, you can’t throw someone out of a theater or restaurant for being black, female, gay, or Muslim, but it seems you can run them out on a rail for wearing a MAGA hat.

“And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said at a rally in Los Angeles last year.  “And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

I’m going to continue to wear all my red hats, despite the objections from people like Rebecca Makkai. And our nation’s equality laws should be expanded to protect the right to do so. 

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No, Youth Sports Aren’t Being ‘Hijacked’ by the Wealthy

President Donald Trump talks to his daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump as they watch former NFL star Herschel Walker throw a football during the White House Sports and Fitness Day event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

by Christopher Paslay

A rich array of sports programs and college grants are available to any child of any background who wants to take advantage of them.

According to Derek Thompson at The Atlantic, meritocracy is killing high school sports. Not cellphones, or video games, or father absenteeism, but wealthy families hijacking athletics at the expense of the poor. Thompson writes:

If you want to understand how income inequality and opportunity-hoarding by the rich can combine in toxic ways to hurt the less fortunate, you could look in all the usual places—elite colleges, housing policy, internships.

Or you could look at high-school sports.

There is no need to read past these opening lines, as Thompson has given you everything he wants you to take away from his article: America’s rich are so greedy that their “opportunity hoarding” has now tainted even high school sports, killing participation and further disenfranchising the poor.  The fact that participation in high school sports hasn’t declined, and that affluent families do not kill athletics doesn’t seem to concern Thompson in the slightest; he simply contorts reality to fit around his grievance-driven narrative.

“In the 2018–19 school year, the number of kids participating in high-school sports declined for the first time in three decades,” Thompson writes, drawing on information from a recent survey. What Thompson doesn’t mention, of course, is that in the 2017–18 school year, participation in high school sports was at an all-time record high, with 7,980,886 students joining at least one team.  And although the 2018–19 school year was down slightly, it was still the third-highest ever, with 7,937,491 participants.  So when Thompson says meritocracy is killing high school sports, what he means is that there was record participation in high school sports over the past two years.   

“The most obvious reason for the decline of high-school sports is that football, the Friday-night-lit mainstay of the high-school experience, is withering on the vine, likely due to fears about injuries and head trauma,” Thompson goes on to state in his article.  “Many schools cannot field a full team and have resorted to a six-on-six version, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). America’s most popular sport on television could be close to a full-blown crisis.”

Football is “withering on the vine”? Seriously?  

Football is by far the biggest and most popular boys high school sport in America, with 1,006,013 students participating last school year—nearly double that of boys outdoor track, which was second with 605,354 participants.  Similarly, Thompson’s claim that “many schools cannot field a full team and have resorted to a six-on-six version,” is ridiculous.  According to the NFHS, 14,247 high schools still offer 11-player football—which is an increase of 168 from last year; data from the past two years indicates that the average number of boys involved in 11-player football on a per-school basis is a whopping 70.  As for America’s most popular sport on television?  The NFL made over $16 billion in revenue in 2018, far from a “full-blown crisis.”

Although injuries and head trauma have had an impact on participation in high school sports, technology has had an ever bigger impact.  Thompson briefly considers this in his article, but quickly dismisses it, instead turning his focus back on his meritocracy theory.  “Kids from homes earning more than $100,000 are now twice as likely to play a team sport at least once a day as kids from families earning less than $25,000,” he states, citing Tom Farrey, the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program.  But a closer look at “State of Play,” Aspen Institute’s research report analyzing the trends of scholastic sports, shows that family income is only a small component of a very complex issue, and that technology does have a significant impact on sports participation.  

“We need to realize that the youth sports model is being disrupted in the same sense that the newspaper industry, cable TV, books and so many other sectors have been,” states Chris Marinak, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president, who is involved in Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program.  “What we need to do is redefine the value proposition and show that sports is a much better experience than digital entertainment for kids because it provides so many benefits from the standpoint of health, social interaction, and leadership skills development.” 

But Thompson downplays such information in the report, choosing to frame sports participation as a social justice issue:

The deeper story is that the weed of American-style meritocracy is strangling the roots of youth sports. As parents have recognized that athletic success can burnish college applications, sports have come to resemble just another pre-professional program, with rising costs, hyper-specialization, and massive opportunity-hoarding among the privileged.

Basically, Thompson argues that specialization in youth sports and obsessive competition in high school sports—where affluent parents remove their children from neighborhood teams in order to get them involved with high profile clubs as a means of gaining college admission—sucks the talent from the general population, thus decimating youth organizations and leaving the poor kids to rot.  This, of course, is nonsense.  The problem facing youth organizations is not a lack of talent produced by rich kids joining clubs, but a lack of participation in sports by communities themselves.  

The breakdown of the nuclear family has had an enormous impact on sports at all levels, especially father absenteeism. Dads don’t need to be rich to teach their sons or daughters how to catch a ball or swing a bat, and they don’t need to be privileged suburbanites to volunteer to coach or assist at practice, or to line the field or help run the scoreboard at games.  

Dads do, however, need to be there.  Tragically, especially in poor and minority communities, dads aren’t there.  Interestingly, as the percentage of African American out-of-wedlock births have drastically gone up during the past several decades (from 24% in 1965 to 77% in 2019), the number of black Major League Baseball players have drastically gone down (from 20% in 1975 to only 7% in 2019).  Which is why Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program has initiated their “Parent Engagement Campaign.”  As mentioned in “State of Play” study:

Project Play 2020 members recognize the need to empower parents as agents of change, from the grassroots up. It’s why Aspen partnered with Target to create the Project Play Check-lists—10 questions parents can ask themselves, their child and local sport providers that will help build an athlete for life. 

The study also called for community involvement, concluding that neighborhood engagement is vital for youth sports participation. Which is why, as noted in the study, President Trump nominated new members for the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, asking Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to develop a national strategy to increase youth sports participation, including developing metrics to gauge participation and physical activity.

As with technology, Thompson refuses to acknowledge the significant impact parents and the community have on high school sports, and how their lack of involvement hurts overall participation.  

To conclude his article, Thompson brings up college sports scholarships, stating: 

You might think most of that scholarship money is going to help kids from poor families who couldn’t otherwise afford college. That’s not the case. In 2010, just 28 percent of Division I basketball players were first-generation college students, meaning they likely came from low-income families. Five years later, that figure has fallen by nine percentage points.

What Thompson doesn’t mention is that rising standards at the NCAA mean many poor kids aren’t academically eligible to accept scholarship offers, and that a growing black middle class—which have the resources and enthusiasm to get their children involved in sports at a young age—put impoverished kids at a disadvantage, too.  

Still, college scholarships, which gave out $3 billion in funds, aren’t the only ticket to an education. Pell grants, which are reserved for low-income college students, serve over 7 million families, and gave nearly $30 billion in aid in 2018—ten times as much as division I & II athletic scholarships combined.          

Meritocracy is not killing high school sports.  Far from it.  A rich array of sports programs and college grants are available to any child of any background who wants to take advantage of them.  The real issue facing high school sports participation is not “opportunity hoarding” by the rich, but a lack of interest and engagement in youth sports by parents and communities.      

Not that Thompson would want to accurately present this information to his readers. That would be called journalism, which would get in the way of his wonderfully deceptive social justice advocacy.      

Meet the Deplorable Choir

by Christopher Paslay

The MAGA-loving trio praises America and encourages Trump supporters to stand proud.    

Let’s face it — it’s not easy to support President Trump in 2019 America.  Often times Trump and his supporters are bullied into silence by celebrities and the mainstream media, who regularly mischaracterize the President and his agenda in an attempt to shut down any and all debate on the issues.  Yet CJ, Val, and Linz — the three Texas moms who formed the Deplorable Choir — will have nothing of the sort.        

As reported by the Daily Dot:

On social media, the Deplorable Choir has become a minor-league celebrity with songs that include choruses like “it’s a real tough life if you say you are a liberal” and “we stand with our General Flynn.” But even if you don’t agree with their conservative messaging, it can be tough to get their music out of your head.

Their tunes are chipper but also confrontational. In their song about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, they sang “Mother Zucker, let’s have a word/come meet me out back/with my can of whoop ass,” set to a twanging banjo. Their songs are always political, and they have a knack for grabbing the attention of some of the celebrities in the pro-Trump circles of the internet.

It’s not every day that the right makes fun of the left, as this sort of thing is deemed off limits by our liberal entertainment industry; most comedians and late night hosts save their ammo for conservatives only.    

But who is this trio?  As reported by the Daily Dot:

In a conversation with The Daily Dot, C.J. LeRose . . . painted the group as just a couple of mothers looking to have some whole-hearted Christian fun.  LeRose is a stage name and she declined to give out her real name, citing concerns for her safety from what she calls “the keyboard warriors.” She says that the Choir are “sisters and friends who all live by each other,” but showed some humility, saying “we’re not a music group … we’re not a real band. We just started doing this because we love Trump.”

The group began in March 2018 following the Oscars when LeRose says she was annoyed “after being lectured by celebrities.”  She claims that the first song came to her while she was on the way to her child’s baseball game. And that first piece blew up. She recalls that it had 130,000 views overnight. . . . Their name of the band, obviously, is a direct dig at Clinton’s mocking of Trump supporters as “deplorable.”

The Deplorable Choir now has over 90K followers on both Twitter and Facebook, and a YouTube channel with 30K subscribers and over 20 songs.

Consumer Confidence Still High As Trump’s Economy Remains Stable

by Christopher Paslay

Despite recession hysteria from the left, Trump’s economy continues to chug along. 

The left’s attempt to push the three R’s – Russia, racism, and recession – has some financial talking heads wondering if Trump’s strong economy may be showing signs of weakness.  But the Consumer Confidence Index tells a different story.  According to the Conservative Treehouse:

The efforts of the Wall Street pundits and financial class to talk the American consumer into creating a recession is failing. The Consumer Confidence Index remains at historic highs as U.S. workers/consumers are confident in their economic position. Yes, Main Street USA is optimistic about current and future expectations.

The Consumer Assessment Index, a measure of the percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good”, increased from 39.9 percent to 42.0; and the Present Situation Index is now at its highest level in nearly 19 years (Nov. 2000, 179.7).

These are all key indicators because the U.S. consumer is the engine of our economy.  The U.S. consumer generates over two-thirds of our GDP activity through purchases.  One of the strengths of the U.S. economy is our internal self-sufficiency; approximately 80 percent of all consumer goods created in the U.S. are purchased in the U.S. by U.S. consumers [we are not reliant on exports to sustain growth].

A strong jobs market means higher wages and benefits; those higher wages lead to more purchasing…. the purchasing demand leads to more manufacturing, competition and innovative product creation… which leads to more job openings, which creates upward pressure on wages.

The U.S. economic growth is a strongly self-sustaining process so long as the consumer is optimistic about the future.

In short, Americans should remain positive about the economy, which is stronger than the left wants you to believe.  

Letter to Sharif El-Mekki, Principal of Mastery Charter School — Shoemaker Campus

Dear Sharif El-Mekki,

I recently came across your blog post headlined, “Philly Principals, Stop Supporting Trump,” where you publicly called out my father (Dr. Charles Paslay) and me (Christopher Paslay), for being racists and supporting “anti-Blackness.”  Before I respond to your writing, please allow me to correct some misinformation in your original post.  You state that my father, Dr. Charles Paslay, is somehow associated with “Philly Teachers For Trump,” a Facebook page and blog that I founded in July of 2018 and currently host.  For the record, Dr. Paslay has nothing to do with either, and the “familiar name and picture” you refer to in your post are both me; although I am over 20 years younger than my father, I do look a lot like him, so I’ll forgive you for mistaking me for a 69-year-old man when I’m only 47.  Still, you really should go back to your original post and correct the record, assuming you are an honest writer and journalist who cares about getting the facts straight.     

Because we have ties to the same neighborhood (my father was born and raised in Southwest Philadelphia, and I grew up in Southwest Philly and Yeadon), and we teach and mentor the same kids (my father taught and coached at Bartram for 36 years, and I’ve been teaching and coaching in the Philadelphia School District for over 22 years), and because ultimately, we are good, caring people who’ve dedicated our lives to helping our students succeed, I won’t take it as an insult that you suggested my father and I are racists, and that we support “anti-Blackness,” whatever that term is supposed to mean; I understand you are an activist in addition to being a principal, and that you are only trying to protect the people you care about.

But truth be told — and I say this respectfully — you don’t know anything about either one of us, so how could you possibly call us racists?  You’ve never observed any of the classes we’ve taught, and don’t know our passion for teaching, or how we’ve worked our butts off to raise scores on the PSSA and Keystone exams.  You’ve never seen us coach, or witnessed our athletes proudly bring home Penn Relays medals or PIAA State Championships in track, or watched either of us counsel our students in times of crisis, sometimes acting as a surrogate parent when these kids had nowhere else to turn.  

And speaking of parents, you’ve probably never spoken to the mothers and fathers of our students and athletes, who’ve consistently thanked us for doing all we can to help their children go to college or learn a trade, or to become responsible young men and women ready to enter the world as critical thinkers.  I’d bet you’ve never spoken to administrators, or coaches, or PFT leaders who’ve thanked us for our dedication (Jerry Jordan wrote me a personal endorsement when I published my first book on education reform in 2011, titled, The Village Proposal: Education as a Shared Responsibility).  I bet you haven’t read the dozens of Inquirer commentaries I’ve written over the past 15 years, articles fighting for the rights of Philadelphia teachers and students, especially ones from neighborhoods like Southwest Philly.      

In summary, you know nothing about my father and me.  Yet you publicly call us racists, and claim we support “anti-Blackness.”  Incredibly, you state the following: 

This situation is not new to us. We have police, teachers, and other public anti-servants who earn a living on the backs of Black kids despite hating them and their roots.

Wow, that’s a pretty serious thing to say about two teachers and coaches who’ve dedicated their lives to helping their students, many of whom are African American.  With all due respect, Sharif, you don’t know us well enough to publicly insinuate that my father and I “earn a living on the backs of Black kids despite hating them and their roots.”  

But I think we both know why you’ve drawn these very serious and very slanderous conclusions: because I’ve dared to publicly support President Trump, and host a platform for others to do the same.  That’s my crime: supporting the President of the United States.  This is intolerable to people like you, who demand diversity of race, gender, and sexuality, but not diversity of thought.  This is exactly why I started Philly Teachers For Trump: to serve as a refuge for those who support our president.  This is America, not a one-party system like North Korea or the old Soviet Union.  People should be free to support the candidate of their choice, not be bullied into silence or called names.  If you go back to the Philly Teachers For Trump Facebook page and blog and read my posts, you’ll see examples of all the positives Trump has done for America (or at least you’ll see a perspective on things you might not be familiar with). Trump is not a racist or a bigot or a white supremacist, and neither are his supporters.  If you take the time to look past the daily misrepresentation and mischaracterization of the man for five minutes, you’ll see he cares about ALL people.  

Trump believes in merit-based immigration over a random lottery, and feels that refuges seeking asylum should come through legal ports of entry, therefore he’s labeled a “xenophobe” who hates all Latinos; Trump supports Israel’s right to exist, scrutinizes countries with high populations of Islamic extremists, and sanctions countries like Iran who openly support terrorism, therefore he’s an Islamophobe who hates all Muslims; Trump cut taxes which stimulated the economy, energized the stock market and created jobs for all Americans, yet somehow he’s a greedy one-percenter who cares only about the rich; Trump reformed the criminal justice system via his “First Step Act,” giving many incarcerated minorities a second chance at life, yet he’s a racist white supremacist who doesn’t care about black lives; Trump deregulated the energy sector and is fighting to implement clean fossil fuels — bringing back the coal industry and saving small American towns — yet he’s an evil climate destroyer; Trump believes in restricting late term abortions, so that when a baby is born alive doctors should be required to save its life rather than end it, therefore he doesn’t respect women’s bodies or their right to choose; Trump was the first Republican president to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month (and is currently fighting to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of countries in Africa and the Middle East), yet he’s a homophobe who hates gays; Trump loves America and all it stands for, putting the interests of its people first, yet he’s a “Russian agent” who’s in bed with Putin.  

I’m not going to debate Trump’s policies, or try to correct all the misinformation about him, but at least know this: he’s done more for African Americans in two years than Obama did in eight.  Just ask Candice Owens, or watch the video The Young Black Conservatives of Trump’s America.  Or better yet, ask BET’s founder Robert Johnson about Trump (he supports him).  Or Isaac Newton Farris Jr. and Alveda King, Dr. King’s nephew and niece, about Trump (they both support him).  Or Rev. Bill Owens, president of the coalition of African-American pastors (they all support Trump).  Or Dr. Ben Carson, or Kanye West, or Tim Scott, or Herman Cain.  Or Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, Stacey Dash, or Thomas Sowell.  Or Clarence Thomas, Col. Allen West, David Webb, or Ward Connerly.  Or Roy Innis, Niger Innis, Shelby Steele, or Sheriff David Clarke.  Are all these proud Trump-supporting African Americans “anti-Black”?  If Trump is such a toxic, bigoted, white supremacist, why do all these successful, exemplary, and God-loving Blacks support the man? Perhaps there’s another side to Trump all his critics refuse to see?

Again, I’m not here to sell you on Trump.  However, I do believe that in America, people should be free to support the president without fear of reprisal or threats of having their reputations destroyed.  If you don’t agree with Trump or his policies, fine.  But this movement to stereotype all Trump supporters as racist and bully us into silence is wrong, and educators of your experience and stature should understand this, Sharif. Over 108,000 people voted for Trump in Philadelphia in 2016, and they can’t all be bigots.  Neither can the parents and students in Philadelphia who back the president. Shouldn’t their voices be heard? Trump’s style is brash, and some of the things he says are insensitive, but he’s hardly the monster everyone makes him out to be.  Most Trump supporters are good, caring people.  And we want the same things you do: freedom, equality, and a decent quality of life for all people of all backgrounds.  If you really want to make a difference and grow as a person, try this exercise: shake hands with a Trump supporter and actually get to know him or her.  You might be surprised by what happens.  

God bless you, Sharif. May you find peace in the world and may your life go well.

Respectfully,

Christopher Paslay

Teaching Students the Truth About Police

by Christopher Paslay

Spreading propaganda about law enforcement is no way to improve relations between communities and cops.

Recently, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors introduced new language for criminals, changing “convicted felon” to “justice-involved person,” and juvenile “delinquent” to a “young person with justice system involvement,” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.”

“We don’t want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done,” Supervisor Matt Haney told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We want them ultimately to become contributing citizens, and referring to them as felons is like a scarlet letter that they can never get away from.”

Haney’s reasoning makes some sense.  From both a psychological and sociological standpoint, using words with positive connotations — or, by contrast, refraining from using words with negative connotations — does affect perception, and can have an impact on behavior.  

When it comes to social justice, the influence of perception on individual behavior is taken very seriously. This may explain why unfavorable facts and data about minority groups — such as father absenteeism and out-of-wedlock births — are regularly ignored by liberals and the mainstream media.  Putting forward mainly positive images of African Americans, the thinking goes, will limit negative stereotypes, thus creating a strictly positive social perception of the black community which in turn will influence behavior and help bring about equality and justice.          

Curiously, this same approach isn’t used when dealing with the challenges facing America’s police departments.  When it comes to cops, liberals and their media allies prefer using words with negative connotations, and surprisingly, do much to portray police in a negative light.  Apparently, trying to stay positive in order to prevent negative stereotypes and inflammatory misconceptions now takes a back seat to highlighting negligence and transgressions.  But the campaign to disparage America’s cops goes beyond simply pointing out their mistakes: liberals go the extra mile, using propaganda and flat out falsehoods to systematically smear our country’s law enforcement officers.       

On August 9th, the fifth anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris tweeted, “Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement.”  Elizabeth Warren did the same thing, tweeting: “5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times.”

The fact that two high profile women such as Harris and Warren would so irresponsibly misrepresent the facts of Brown’s death is cause for concern.  Brown wasn’t murdered by a police officer.  After a thorough investigation by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Justice Department, it was determined that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot Brown in self-defense; the DOJ didn’t prosecute and Wilson wasn’t indicted.  As cited in the DOJ’s official report, when Wilson tried to stop the six-foot-four, 290-pound Michael Brown (who was walking down the middle of the street after stealing a box of cigarillos and assaulting a store owner), Brown shoved Officer Wilson back into his patrol car, punched him in the face, and tried to take his gun.  The gun went off, hitting Brown in the hand, and Brown ran.  When Officer Wilson got out of his car and ordered Brown to stop, the 290-pound man turned around, charged at Wilson, and was ultimately shot and killed. 

Incredibly, the website PolitiFact, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for fact checking, refused to issue a ruling on whether Harris and Brown made a false claim when they used the word murdered.  “Because the significance of Harris’ and Warrens’ use of the word is open to some dispute, we won’t be rating their tweets on the Truth-O-Meter,” the fact check website wrote.

On August 16, the Los Angeles Times published an article with much of the same divisive anti-police undertones.  Headlined, “Getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America,” the article proceeded to cherry pick data and misrepresent information to portray cops in the worst light possible.  As PJ Media writer Jack Dunphy pointed out:

Most readers of course will not delve beyond the headline, but even those who do will not encounter anything resembling journalism as it was once practiced. Rather, they’ll find more than 1,400 words devoted to the racial-grievance agenda that drives so much of what appears in the Los Angeles Times.  And worse, not only is journalism itself perverted with the story, but so is science, for the story is presented as such on the page and was written by Amina Khan, who is billed on the paper’s website as a “science writer.”

But there is little that is scientific about Khan’s article.  Although she provides a plethora of information to suggest that police are disproportionally violent toward minorities — and that such violence is a public health problem that has toxic effects on the physical and mental health of minority communities — Khan conveniently fails to fully explore the root causes of such violence, relying on the logical fallacy correlation implies causation, which is a favorite of liberals when trying to slander law enforcement and conjure up resentment against cops.     

But correlation doesn’t imply causation, and when taking all available information into consideration, the truth becomes clear: police aren’t racist. In fact, a police officer is 18 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.  Amina Khan, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren would be wise to watch the PragerU video “Are the Police Racist?”, which, unlike the half-truths put out by dishonest liberals, gives the full picture of the issues facing cops and minority communities.  Amazingly, this video is currently on YouTube’s “restricted” list, which means it will be filtered from being watched in schools and libraries.  When Dennis Prager filed a formal complaint and demanded to know why, YouTube stated that this video wasn’t “appropriate for the younger audiences.”  Prager’s lawyers have in turn sued YouTube and Google.  (Click here to watch this 5 minute video.)    

Here are some factual excerpts from the video not mentioned by the mainstream media:

A recent “deadly force” study by Washington State University researcher Lois James found that police officers were less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white or Hispanic ones in simulated threat scenarios. Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer analyzed more than 1,000 officer-involved shootings across the country. He concluded that there is zero evidence of racial bias in police shootings. In Houston, he found that blacks were 24 percent less likely than whites to be shot by officers even though the suspects were armed or violent.

Or this eye-popping statistic:

An analysis of the Washington Post’s Police Shooting Database and of Federal Crime Statistics reveals that fully 12 percent of all whites and Hispanics who die of homicide are killed by cops. By contrast, only four percent of black homicide victims are killed by cops.

Or these statistics, which explain why minorities are disproportionally targeted by cops: 

According to the most recent study by the Department of Justice, although blacks were only about 15 percent of the population in the 75 largest counties in the US, they were charged with 62 percent of all robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults. In New York City, blacks commit over three-quarters of all shootings, though they are only 23 percent of the city’s population. Whites, by contrast, commit under two percent of all shootings in the city, though they are 34 percent of the population. New York’s crime disparities are repeated in virtually every racially diverse city in America. The real problem facing inner-city black communities today is not the police but criminals.

Of course, Los Angeles Times “science” writer Amina Khan didn’t mention these statistics.  Social justice warriors like Khan never do. Why?  Because just like in San Francisco, labeling someone a “felon” is like “a scarlet letter that they can never get away from,” and may lead to negative stereotypes.  Better to silence those who bring up the other side of the argument.  Just ask Kathy Zhu, who was stripped of her 2019 Miss Michigan crown because she had the nerve to tweet this about black murder rates: “Did you know that the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks?  Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.”

The real tragedy here is not that America’s police are being unfairly labeled racist, or that the divide between cops and communities may be widening as a result (or that people like Dennis Prager and Kathy Zhu are being silenced for speaking the truth), but that good, law abiding folks living in many minority communities are being harmed by the irresponsible rhetoric of the Los Angeles Times, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.  As stated in the PragerU video about supposed racist cops:

Police officers are backing off of proactive policing in black neighborhoods thanks to the false narrative that police officers are infected with homicidal bias. As a result, violent crime is going up, in cities with large black populations, homicides in 2015 rose anywhere from 54 percent in Washington DC to 90 percent in Cleveland. Overall, in the nation’s 56 largest cities, homicides in 2015 rose 17 percent, a nearly unprecedented one-year spike.

If we truly want to save lives and improve relations between communities and police, it’s time to end the double standard and start holding both sides accountable in a fair, proactive manner. 

The ‘Anti-Hate’ Group That Is a Hate Group

Click to watch video.

by Karl Zinsmeister

The masterminds behind the Southern Poverty Law Center aren’t eliminating hate. They are fueling it.

Shutting down people you don’t agree with is about as un-American as you can get. Rigorous debate, honest discussion, open exchange of ideas—that’s the American way. But free thinking and speech are threatened today by a group with a sweet-sounding name that conceals a nefarious purpose. This group is called the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC.

Originally founded as a civil-rights law firm in 1971, the SPLC reinvented itself in the mid-‘80s as a political attack group. Every year now it produces a new list of people and charities it claims are “extremists” and “haters.”  Aided by glowing coverage from the establishment media, the SPLC’s hate list has become a weapon for taking individuals and groups they disagree with and tarring them with ugly associations.

The SPLC employs a two-pronged strategy: First,  find a handful of crazies with barely any followers, no address, and no staff, and blow them up into a dangerous movement— proof that there are neo-Nazis lurking everywhere. On their notorious “Hate Map,” the SPLC lists 917 separate hate groups in the U.S.! No one has even heard of more than a handful of them. The second strategy of the SPLC is to undermine legitimate political voices that they oppose by associating them with extremists like the KKK.

Take the charity known as the Alliance Defending Freedom. The SPLC lists them as a “hate group.” Is that fair? Well, the ADF has a network of 3,000 attorneys from all across the U.S. who’ve donated more than a million volunteer hours in defense of religious liberty. They’ve had a role in 49 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court. Putting the Alliance Defending Freedom on a list with 130 Ku Klux Klan chapters is not only wrong, it’s malicious.

According to the SPLC, one of the most influential social scientists in the U.S.— Charles Murray—is a, quote, “white nationalist.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson for the rights of Muslim women, is, to the SPLC, a “toxic… anti-Muslim extremist.”

Scores of other individuals and charities active in mainstream conservative or religious causes have likewise been branded by the Southern Poverty Law Center as threats to society. Mind you, it is entirely fair to disagree with any of those folks. But it is utterly unfair to call them haters or extremists. The largest category listed by the SPLC as extremists—with 623 entries—covers groups like the Tea Party organizations that are wary of centralized government. Last time we checked, favoring smaller government was a mainstream and perfectly honorable American tradition.

What is not honorable is the course prescribed by a leader of the SPLC, Mark Potok, who was caught on video proclaiming the organization’s true intentions. He told a group of supporters, quote, “the press will describe us as ‘monitoring hate groups’…. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.” Portraying someone with political views different from your own as a public menace is bullying. And it’s a dangerous game. Instead of reducing hate and violence, the SPLC’s name-calling directly incites it.

In March 2017, Charles Murray was trying to discuss his acclaimed book Coming Apart at Middlebury College when he was violently attacked by protesters inflamed by the SPLC’s labeling of him as a racist. A professor escorting Murray ended up in the hospital.  In 2012, a gunman attempted mass murder at the Family Research Council, and failed only because the first man he shot managed to disarm him. The attacker told the police he acted because the SPLC had listed the Family Research Council as a hate group. It’s a vicious irony: while promoting itself as a monitor of “hate groups,” the SPLC has, in practice, become a fomenter of hate.

Yet the group rolls on, bigger than ever. What keeps them going? For one thing, the establishment media constantly quote them. Scare stories about right-wing storm-troopers are a sure way to attract eyeballs, and fit nicely with the media’s own preconceptions of the “dangerous reactionaries” lurking out there in middle America.

Second, alarmism is a great fundraising technique. Convincing people there are fascists everywhere has turned the SPLC into a cash machine. Last year, the group hustled $50 million dollars out of frightened liberal donors, adding to the $368 million dollars of assets they were already sitting on.

So, the next time you see the Southern Poverty Law Center quoted in the news, just remember: the masterminds behind the SPLC aren’t eliminating hate. They are fueling it.

Karl Zinsmeister is an author, journalist, and served in the West Wing as President George W. Bush’s chief domestic policy adviser. The above transcript was reprinted from Prager University.

Will El Paso Shooter Patrick Crusius Make The Cover Of Rolling Stone?

by Christopher Paslay

In 2013, Rolling Stone glorified Boston Bomber Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev with a Jim Morrison-like cover shot.  Will the magazine do the same with El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius?  

All mass murdering terrorists aren’t created equal, especially in the eyes of the radical left.  As recent history shows, even a sociopath’s actions are subject to identity politics.  

Take, for example, the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  You’d think the mass killings of nearly 3,000 Americans orchestrated by Osama bin Laden would be universally condemned by Americans, but this wasn’t the case.  Amazingly, there were many apologists who publicly demanded that America rethink its foreign policy, suggesting the United States government not only brought the tragedy on itself, but that America may have even deserved what it got.

Celebrated civil rights activist and former Poet Laureate of New Jersey Amiri Baraka wrote the poem “Somebody Blew Up America,” which not only suggested 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy (Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed / Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers / To stay home that day / Why did Sharon stay away?), but also argued the real terrorists weren’t “some barbaric A-Rab in Afghanistan,” but racist Americans who’ve terrorized people all over the globe.  NPR called Baraka’s poem “controversial and achingly beautiful,” and venerated him as an activist and literary figure.   

In 2014, professor Emmit Evans at California Polytechnic State University assigned his political science students a text he co-wrote that called bin Laden a “freedom fighter” and the United States a “neocolonial power.”  The book, The Other World: Issues and Politics of the Developing World, noted that “the al Qaeda movement of Osama bin Laden is one example of an attempt to free a country (in this case, Saudi Arabia) from a corrupt and repressive regime propped up by a neocolonial power (in this case, the United States).”

To put this in perspective, imagine contemporary poet laureates and university professors analyzing the ideological beliefs of Patrick Crusius, and in turn, writing books and publishing poems both praising and apologizing for his terrorist attack.  Imagine a poem called “Somebody Shot Up El Paso,” which suggested the tragedy was a conspiracy by the radical left to forward the false narrative of white supremacy, and to lobby for stricter gun laws.  Likewise, what if a professor co-authored a book analyzing Crusius’ “manifesto,” theorizing that the white supremacy movement is one example of an attempt to free a group of people (marginalized rural whites) from a corrupt and repressive anti-white American culture, propped up by social justice propaganda?  

This would never happen, of course.  Apologizing for white nationalism isn’t as hip as making intellectual arguments in support of Islamic extremism, nor is it cool to look the other way when it comes to neo-Nazis.  When it came to labeling Muslim terrorism “Islamic extremism” for the better part of a decade, the left conveniently made excuses; Obama wanted to lower the political temperature and keep peaceful Muslims from being stereotyped and attacked.  The same philosophies don’t apply to so-called “white supremacy,” however.  Labeling all Trump supporters “white nationalists” is now the name of the game, and keeping the term and its apparent ideology in the public is the ultimate aim.  Does anyone seem to care that peaceful white people will be wrongly accused of being a part of a relatively small hate group?  Not at all.  Does anyone seem to care that continuing to fan the flames of supposed “white nationalism” will raise the political temperature and provoke more violence against both immigrants and Trump supporters?  Again, not at all.      

It’s not hip to make excuses for people like Patrick Crusius, or to try and understand his background or manifesto.  Unlike Boston Bomber Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev, Crusius won’t get his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone.  Tsarnaev was a self-radicalized Islamic extremist, which allowed the magazine to call him “a charming kid with a bright future.”  Sure, he used two pressure cooker bombs to blow up the Boston Marathon with his brother, killing two cops, three civilians, and injuring an estimated 264 others, 14 of whom required amputations. 

But Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev was a “charming kid,” if not for him becoming radicalized.  Rolling Stone wrote in their 2013 cover story: 

People in Cambridge thought of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – “Jahar” to his friends – as a beautiful, tousle-haired boy with a gentle demeanor, soulful brown eyes and the kind of shy, laid-back manner that “made him that dude you could always just vibe with,” one friend says. He had been a captain of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin wrestling team for two years and a promising student. He was also “just a normal American kid,” as his friends described him, who liked soccer, hip-hop, girls; obsessed over The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones; and smoked a copious amount of weed.

Such a nice young boy “Jahar” was, with such great potential.  He was only a radicalized Muslim after all, not a white nationalist, so it was cool for America to see his human side.  As for Patrick Crusius, he’s too politically valuable not to trash and publicly demonize, and the left and the mainstream media will surely milk his sickness for all it’s worth.  The disturbed young man is a monster, make no mistake about it. But he’s a white nationalist monster, which won’t get him on the cover of Rolling Stone any time soon.  

Ironically, Trump’s ‘Opportunity Zones’ Are Helping Save Baltimore

by Christopher Paslay

A recent study ranks Baltimore a “Top Opportunity Zone for Smart Growth Potential.”

In December of 2018, George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis helped publish a study titled, “National Opportunity Zones Ranking Report.”  It’s executive summary began by stating:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a new powerful economic development tax incentive — Opportunity Zones — designed to encourage long-term private capital investment in America’s low-income communities. With over 8,700 Opportunity Zones — spanning the entire continental US, the District of Columbia and US territories — now eligible to tap into over $6 trillion dollars of unrealized capital gains to support redevelopment projects and new businesses, there’s enormous excitement amongst investors and local policymakers. Equally, there’s enormous concern among local policymakers and community groups who are afraid that this tax incentive will crowdsource unmanaged gentrification and displacement or accelerate climate change. 

To weigh the good against the bad, the report calculated which Opportunity Zones in which areas not only had the greatest potential for success, but also which areas had the most social equity — the highest access for the poor to participate and benefit. 

Ironically, Baltimore was listed #5 in the nation for Smart Growth Potential, behind only Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland.  This not only means the city is a wise choice for investors, but also that this investment has the best opportunity to directly benefit local residents who are struggling with quality of life issues.  

These findings are important, especially when critics of “opportunity zones” say gentrification is harmful to residents, and that the poor get displaced while wealthy investors get tax breaks and enjoy the benefits.  But this is not necessarily the case.  In fact, a recent working paper from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve sheds new light on the issue.  As reported by the City Journal:

Several previous studies have already cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that gentrification causes widespread displacement of poor, longtime residents. “The Effects of Gentrification on Well Being and Opportunity of Original Resident Adults and Their Children” goes further by recasting gentrification as a potential force for income integration and social mobility.

The first thing noted in the study is that gentrification displaces very few people. “An influx of college-educated residents into formerly lower-income neighborhoods—the accepted definition of gentrification—increases the probability that vulnerable, less-educated renters move to another neighborhood by about 3 percentage points,” the City Journal reports.

An even bigger surprise is what happens to low-income residents who stay put compared with those who do move out. “The stayers remain at the same poverty levels as before gentrification, but they see less poverty in their midst,” reports the City Journal.  “Homeowners enjoy a big increase in their home values, enough to offset the inevitable rise in taxes.”

Curiously, gentrification has a positive effect on children.  “Kids living in gentrified neighborhoods see less poverty and more educated neighbors, and they develop more advantageous networks,” writes the City Journal.  “Most strikingly, gentrification increases the probability that children of less educated homeowners will attend and graduate college.”

In short, Trump’s Opportunity Zones are having an impact on urban poor.  In a July 16th cabinet meeting, H.U.D. Secretary Dr. Ben Carson reported additional positives to President Trump.  Here are some highlights Carson mentioned:     

  • Opportunity Zones are home to approximately 35 million Americans — about 10 percent of our population.
  • Over the past year, property sale prices in Opportunity Zones have increased by 20 percent, which is about double the appreciation rate for eligible non-selected areas.
  • The National Council of State Housing Agencies announced that its Opportunity Zone Fund Directory has expanded to nearly $29 billion in anticipated investment.
  • In Salt Lake City, a big multi-family dwelling is being built with a center for helping autistic people enter the workforce. 
  • The Governor of Maryland is spending $56.6 million for training programs to supercharge Opportunity Zones in his state. 
  • In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant has approved a special Opportunity Zones cycle as part of the low-income housing tax credit program offered through the Mississippi Home Corporation. 
  • In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive directive that focuses state procurement practices on businesses located within Opportunity Zones.

“Opportunity has no color, but it colors everything,” Dr. Carson told President Trump. “Opportunity has no creed, but it gives people strength to believe. Opportunity has no religion, yet it gives us each faith. And I want to thank you for the faith that you’ve shown to the Revitalization Council as we have championed this incredible initiative across the country. This is a game changer. Major game changer in this country. And we look forward to building on this exciting momentum.”

“What’s happened with Opportunity Zones is somewhat of a miracle,” Trump said. “Nobody in their wildest imagination thought this could happen.”

America Wants Legal Immigrants

Click to watch video.

by Reihan Salam

By prioritizing immigrants with strong skills, we’d make the safety net much easier to sustain for those with low skills.

I am the proud son of immigrants from Bangladesh. I was raised in New York City, which has benefited enormously from the energy and ambition of the millions of people born abroad who’ve chosen to make it their home. But I also believe that America’s immigration system needs to work for America, and right now, that is simply not the case.

We need a new immigration system. So what should it be? We’re often presented with two stark choices: Severe restrictions or open borders. I think there’s a better way. But before I offer a solution, let’s look at the usual suspects. The case for open borders is, on the surface, pretty attractive. Tens of millions of people around the world would be grateful to come to America for the chance to live in peace and earn a decent living. The vast majority of them mean us no harm. 

Why not give them a chance to share in the blessings of liberty? The simple answer is that our country is more than just a marketplace. We’re a democracy based on a social contract. Americans pay taxes so that, among other things, the poorest, most unlucky among us can still lead decent and dignified lives. If you can’t work, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits or disability. If you do work but your paycheck doesn’t go far enough for you to afford medical care or food for your kids, we have a safety net designed to help you stay afloat.

Liberals and conservatives disagree on how extensive this safety net ought to be, but they all agree it needs to be there. The question is, how we far are willing to stretch it?

A century ago, immigrants who found they couldn’t make it in America had little choice but to go back home. That is no longer the case. These days, immigrants who can’t earn enough to support their families have access to many government benefits. That doesn’t make them bad people. In an age of offshoring and automation, wages for menial jobs don’t go very far. If we only admitted a modest number of low-skill immigrants—say, as political refugees—we could easily handle it. But over the past forty years, we have allowed millions of low-skill immigrants into the country, both legally and illegally. While highly-educated immigrants pay far more in taxes than they consume in benefits, the opposite is true of immigrants with less than a high school diploma

Immigrant engineers working for Google, Amazon and Apple do just fine without government help. The immigrant janitors and busboys who serve them struggle to afford housing and to give their kids a decent start in life. Without government aid, many would go hungry. If we were to open our borders, the number of low-skilled immigrants would skyrocket, and so too would the cost of meeting their needs. Ironically, this would only exacerbate the wealth disparity that so animates the open borders crowd.

Maybe the rich could wall themselves off in gated communities. But the growing ranks of the poor and even the middle class would have to deal with ever more strained social services. That could provoke resentment strong enough to set off real class warfare.

If open borders are a bad idea, so too is severely restricting immigration. For one, immigration has always been part of the American story. And it continues to be an essential source of talent, from Silicon Valley to medicine to pro sports. Why shut ourselves off from the dynamism and energy that immigrants can bring?

Thankfully, there isa way to fix this problem. We can modernize the system to give priority to those who have strong skills and job offers—people, in other words, who will pay more in taxes than they need in benefits. Today, we admit about two-thirds of immigrants on the basis of family ties and only 15 percent on the basis of skills. We need a course correction. We should limit family immigration to immediate family members—such as spouses and minor children—while greatly expanding the number of skills-based visas.

A skills-based points system would be a huge boon for people around the world looking to live the American Dream. It would give them a predictable, step-by-step guide for how to better their chances at a green card. Just as importantly, by prioritizing immigrants with strong skills, we’d make the safety net much easier to sustain for those with low skills—whom we’d still admit, albeit at a more modest level.

Let’s announce to the world that if you’re ambitious, if you have skills we prize, the golden door is open. If you can support yourself and your family, and add to our economy, we want you. If we aspire to an immigration system that works, this the most realistic—and idealistic—choice.

Reihan Salam is the executive editor of National Review. The above transcript was reprinted from Prager University.