Ben Shapiro and UC-Berkeley Stand Up for Free Speech

BEN SHAPIRO - at UC Berkeley

by Diane Rufino, September 22, 2017

Ben Shapiro and UC-Berkeley took on the enemies of Free Speech and America is grateful !!

When conservative Ben Shapiro spoke at Berkeley in 2016, there was little fanfare. What changed in one year?  Could it be that Donald Trump hadn’t been elected at that time, and in fact, even the thought of him as a serious candidate was laughable. In February, mere weeks after Trump took office (and after the inappropriately- named “Women’s March,” which was clearly a vehement anti-Trump rally, on any and all issues that folks had or have with him), 150 masked individuals, likely some from the group Antifa, descended upon the Berkeley campus ahead of a scheduled Milo Yiannopoulos appearance, causing mayhem and destruction that left six people injured and damage in the six figures. Milo had to be cancelled. At a pro-Donald Trump march in March, 7 people were injured and 10 arrested.  And just last month, about 100 black-clad and masked anarchists (Antifa) circumvented police barricades and attacked at least five people from what was a peaceful protest.

But last week, on September 14, Berkeley college Republicans were finally successful in having Shapiro speak on campus. It cost at least $600,000 for security (half paid by the university), which included over 500 police, it witnessed the usual protesters, and resulted in a few arrests. But all in all, the event was a success. Now, there was a restriction on the event…. the school would only allow the college Republicans to fill the auditorium to half capacity – unlike the restriction on other (liberal) speakers. Perhaps it was a safety precaution?  Hmmm. Anyway, we learned that Freedom isn’t free, and in fact, the cost is not cheap at all.  But no matter the cost, no matter the inconvenience, no matter the vile words and insults, no matter what the threats are, and no matter what the consequences are, Speech must remain free and  available to open ears. Freedom of thought and speech are the cornerstones of our free society and without them, all others are meaningless and without a secure foundation.

For those that don’t want to hear any views other than their own, there are options…  there is cotton for your ears, earplugs, safe-spaces, institutions, libraries (where you can read Hillary’s latest book or Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto), or even your own legs and cars. – to take you anywhere else other than where the so-called “offensive speech” is being delivered.  Deny yourself the freedoms that hundreds of years of brave activists sought to protect if you so choose, but keep away from OUR freedom.  We’ve seen what a nation would look like if we should loose our freedom to speak freely, for we’ve seen YOU, and we know that we could nor will never tolerate it.

Thank you Ben Shapiro for your voice, thank you UC-Berkeley college Republicans for not giving up on your mission to bring conservative views to your school, and thank-you UC-Berkeley for your commitment to Free Speech.

[The following is reproduced from PJmedia.com: Tyler O’Neill, “Ben Shapiro Stormed Congress and Blew the Left’s Argument Against Free Speech to Smithereens”]

On July 27, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro testified about free speech on college campuses before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In less than five minutes, he dissected and destroyed the Left’s argument against free speech.

“Free speech is under assault because of a three-step argument made by advocates and justifiers of violence,” Shapiro declared in his opening remarks. “The first step is they say that the validity or invalidity of an argument can be judged solely by the ethnic, sexual, racial, or cultural identity of the person making the argument.”

This “intersectionality” argument — that society structurally oppresses people of ethnic, sexual, racial, or cultural identities and therefore only those who have been oppressed can speak about certain issues — is the ground of the “microaggression” culture stifling speech on campuses, the Daily Wire editor argued.

“The second step is they claim that those who say otherwise are engaged in what they call verbal violence,” Sharipo added. “The final step is that they conclude that physical violence is sometimes justified in order to stop such verbal abuse.”

In order to understand how college campuses shut down speech — often but not always conservative speech — Americans must understand the philosophy of “intersectionality.” Shapiro argued that this philosophy dominates college campuses and “a large segment of today’s Democratic Party.”

Intersectionality “suggests that straight white Americans are inherently the beneficiaries of white privilege and therefore cannot speak on certain policies, since they have not experienced what it’s like to be black or hispanic or gay or transgender or a woman.”

This philosophy, Shapiro declared, “ranks the value of a view not based on the logic or merit of the view but on the level of victimization in American society experienced by the person espousing the view.” An LGBT black woman is automatically considered more correct than a straight white male, before any speech exits either of their mouths.

“The next step is obvious: If a straight white male, or anyone else who ranks lower on the victimhood scale, says something contrary to the viewpoint of the higher ranking intersectionality identity, that person has engaged in a microaggression,” the editor declared.

He quoted NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who defined microaggressions as “small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless.” Here’s the key — “You don’t actually have to say anything insulting to microaggress. Somebody merely needs to take offense.” In other words, an offended person who fits the “oppressed” identities of intersectionality has the power to dub any speech from someone “less oppressed” a “microaggression.” This word means not merely an insult. As Shapiro noted, “Microaggressions are the equivalent of physical violence.”

To watch Ben Shapiro’s remarks at UC-Berkeley, go to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae4VZTVEFC4

 

References:

Tyler O’Neill, “Ben Shapiro Stormed Congress and Blew the Left’s Argument Against Free Speech to Smithereens,” PJ Media, July 27, 2017.

Ben Shapiro Speaks at UC-Berkeley (Full Speech), September 14, 2017:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae4VZTVEFC4

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JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Obstruction of Construction

JEFFERSON - versus Hamilton

by  Diane Rufino, September 21, 2017

In Honor of the 230th Anniversary of the US Constitution, and also to help promote Brion McClanahan’s latest book, HOW ALEXANDER HAMILTON SCREWED UP AMERICA, I wanted to post this important History Lesson —

The history surrounding the first Bank Bill (to charter a national bank), proposed to President Washington by his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton shows us exactly why the Federal Judiciary has become the greatest usurper of powers belonging to the States and to the People. It is an important lesson on constitutional interpretation.

Why is it important that we pay close attention to constitutional interpretation?  Because when the courts don’t bother to consult the proper original documents and commentary as authority on the meaning and intent of the provisions of the Constitution, and/or when they make the decision to disregard that history and that critical information (any student of contract laws knows the strict laws of construction that guide a contract’s interpretation), then any opinion in contradiction to that history and such commentary necessarily means that the judiciary has assumed power for the federal government that it was not intended to have. And where do those additional powers come from?  From the original depositories of government power, the People and then the States.

HISTORY –

In 1788, the US Constitution was adopted by the requisite number of states and hence, the government it created would go into effect. Later that year, elections were held, George Washington was elected our first president (and men like James Madison elected to the first US Congress), and the following year, 1789, the Union’s new government was assembled and inaugurated. One of the first decisions of the first Congress was to fund the debts that the individual states incurred in fighting the Revolutionary War. The question, of course, was how would it do that. Washington’s Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, long holding true to a belief that a large, powerful national government of centralized functions is the proper form of government for the new Union (although he conceded to the federal form that the majority of delegates at the Philadelphia Convention voted for), urged that Congress should charter a National Bank, after the British model. He took his suggestion to Washington and agreeing with Hamilton, a Bank Bill was introduced in Congress. But powerful state and government leaders, including Thomas Jefferson, Washington’s Secretary of State, James Madison, Congressman from Virginia, and several state leaders, particularly from Virginia, objected, characterizing such a bank as being “repugnant to the Constitution,” and assuming powers not expressly delegated to Congress in Article I. Washington then asked both Hamilton and Jefferson to provide him with memoranda outlining their arguments regarding the creation of such a National Bank.

(The Following section, as noted, is taken, in its entirety, from Kevin Gutzman’s book THOMAS JEFFERSON – REVOLUTIONARY (St. Martin’s Press, NY, 2017):

Jefferson began by describing the Bank Bill’s provisions, saying that he understood the underlying principle of the Constitution to be that “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.” (here is quoted the Tenth Amendment, which at the time lay before the state legislatures for their ratification).  Power to pass the bill had not been delegated to the United States, he insisted. It did not fall under the power to tax for the purpose of paying debts because the bill neither paid debts nor taxed. It did not fall under the power to borrow money because the bill neither borrowed nor ensured that there would be borrowing. It did not fall under the Commerce Clause for it did not regulate commerce. Jefferson understood ‘regulating commerce’ to mean “prescribing regulations for buying and selling,” which the Bank Bill did not do. If it did that, he continued, the bill “would be void” due to its equal effects on internal and external commerce of the states. “For the power given to Congress by the Constitution,” Jefferson continues, “does not extend to the internal regulation of the commerce of a State (that is to say of the commerce between citizen and citizen), which remain exclusively with its own legislature, but to its external commerce only; that is to say, its commerce with another State or with foreign nations or with the Indian tribes.”  No other enumerated power (Article I, Section 8) gave Congress ground for passing this bill either, he concluded.

Besides the enumerated powers, the General Welfare Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause had also been invoked by the bill’s proponents. Jefferson disposed of those clauses deftly as well. First, the General Welfare Clause said that Congress had power “to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the General Welfare (emphasis Jefferson’s). The reference to the general welfare, he insisted, was bound to the power to tax. It did not create a separate power “to do any act they please which might be for the good of the Union, which Jefferson thought the preceding and following enumerations of powers rendered entirely obvious. To read the General Welfare Clause any other way would make the enumerations “completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress to do whatever would be good for the United States, and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would also be a power to do whatever evil they please.”

Jefferson, the skilled lawyer that he was, noted that one of the most basic rules of construction (contract law) cut strongly in favor of his argument. That rule states that “where a phrase will bear either of two meanings, to give it that which will allow some meaning to the other parts of the instrument, and not that which would render all the others useless.” Besides that, the Philadelphia Convention had considered and expressly rejected a proposal to empower Congress to create corporations. The rejection, he noted, was based partly on the fact that with such a power, Congress would be able to create a bank.

As for the Necessary and Proper Clause, Jefferson noted that it said that the Congress could “make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the enumerated powers. But they can all be carried into execution without a bank. A bank therefore is not necessary and consequently, not authorized by this phrase (emphasis Jefferson’s).”  The Bank Bill’s proponents had argued for the great convenience of having a bank, which might aid in exercising powers enumerated in the Constitution, but Jefferson would have none of the idea that “necessary” could be twisted to mean “convenient.”

Jefferson concluded his memorandum with a brief statement on the president’s veto power, which he called “the shield provided by the Constitution to protect against the invasions of the legislature: (1) The right of the Executive. (2) Of the Judiciary. (3) Of the States and State legislatures.”  To his mind, the Bank Bill presented “the case of a right remaining exclusively with the States” – that of chartering a corporation. Congress’ attempt to take this right to itself violated the Constitution and Washington should veto the bill.

Washington did not agree. Instead, perhaps on the basis of Hamilton’s argument that Congress could adopt whatever kind of legislation it judged helpful in supervising the national economy, he signed the Bank Bill.   [Gutzman, Thomas Jefferson – Revolutionary, pp. 40-42]

THE IMPACT –

When a subsequent Bank Bill was challenged by the state of Maryland, in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Chief Justice John Marshall would revisit the arguments submitted to President Washington and as expected, he would side with Hamilton. Hamilton’s position, after all, would give the federal government a broad pen with which to write legislation, in contrast to the limits imposed on it by the very wording of the Constitution and the listing of the only powers that the States had delegated to the federal government. McCulloch was another in a series of cases written by Marshall usurping powers from other depositories and concentrating them in the federal government. The Supreme Court, a branch of the very federal government that it presides over, has consistently used its powers not to interpret the Constitution and offer opinions to other branches, but rather to secure a monopoly over the scope and intent of the government’s powers.

Marshall’s opinion in McCulloch gave Congress power that the States intentionally tried to prevent; he read a meaning and intent in the Constitution, in Article I, that was expressly rejected by the States when they debated and then signed the document on September 17, 1787. Marshall’s reading of Article I, in particular the “Necessary and Proper” Clause, gave Congress power “to which no practical limit can be assigned,” as James Madison put it.

With McCulloch, the Supreme Court committed a grave injustice to the system established by our founding fathers and our founding states. Marshall’s opinion directly contradicted an essential element of the states’ understating of the Constitution when they ratified it, and that understanding was that the Constitution created a federal government of express and limited powers so that the residuary of government power would remain reserved to the states and hence the sovereignty they long cherished would not be overly diminished by organizing into a Union.

And the history of judicial activism continued and still does ….

 

Reference:  Kevin Gutzman, Thomas Jefferson – Revolutionary, St. Martin’s Press, NY (2017).

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A Government of the People, By the People, For the People…. How It Really Works, According to Thomas Jefferson

THOMAS JEFFERSON - Time magazine cover

by Diane Rufino, September 20, 2017

Thomas Jefferson articulated the absolute right of a state to secede from the Union. He did so in 1798, in 1799, in 1816, and up until his death in 1826 (July 4, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence). The right of self-determination was proclaimed in the Declaration as a founding principle and was never surrendered in the Constitution. In fact, Jefferson and Madison (1798 and 1800, in his written documents explaining the nature of the agreement known as the US Constitution) both agreed that such an inherent right can never be contracted away, although it should be reserved for extreme cases.

For Jefferson in 1816, the States had a clear right to leave the union. Government power, he reasoned, should never be concentrated at the top but rather at the bottom, closest to the people. If such were the case, there should never arise the level of tyranny that would warrant the drastic remedy of secession. The key, therefore, is to keep government closest to the people. Jefferson explained that the way to do this is to vest government only with those responsibilities that are absolutely necessary and those which people, in their individual capacity, cannot do or cannot be trusted to do and then to divide those responsibilities accordingly – with the governmental bodies closest to the people (localities) being responsible for the interests and affairs that touch on their lives most directly – their property, their livelihoods, their customs and communities, their education concerns, etc – and the government farthest away from them (Washington, DC) being responsible for the matters that are most external to their everyday lives, such as national security, international affairs and diplomacy, inter-state commerce, etc.

From Kevin Gutzman’s exceptional book, THOMAS JEFFERSON, REVOLUTIONARY:

Explaining the subdivision of government power, into “ward republics,” Jefferson wrote: “The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but rather to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the National government be entrusted with the defense of the nation and its foreign and federal relations, the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the state generally, and the Counties with the local concerns of the counties; each Ward directs the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great National one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm and affairs by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best…. I do believe that if the Almighty has not decreed that Man shall never be free (and it is blasphemy to believe it) that the secret will be found to be in the making of himself the depository of the powers respecting himself, so far as he is competent to them, and delegating only what is beyond his competence by a synthetic process, to higher and higher orders of functionaries, so as to trust fewer and fewer powers, in proportion as the trustees become more and more oligarchical. The elementary republics of the Wards – the county republics, the State republics, and the republic of the Union – would form a gradation of authorities, standing each on the basis of law, holding every one of its delegated share of powers, and constituting truly a system of fundamental checks and balances for the government. Where every man is a sharer in the direction of his ward-republic, or of some of the higher ones, and feels that he is a participator in the government of affairs not merely at an election, one day in the year, but every day; when there shall not be a man in the state who will not be a member of one of its councils, great or small, he will let the heart be torn out of his body sooner than his power he wrenched from him by a Caesar or a Bonaparte.”

The Roman Empire fell when its ruling authority in Rome presided over too large and diverse of a group to represent them and their interests properly in a concentrated government body. And the same is happening here in the United States. If we hope to make this country the one that it was originally destined to be, the country that Thomas Jefferson dreamed of and worked his life to guide, then we need to push for solutions that return power back to the people…  In my favorite movie, GLADIATOR, Emperor Marcus Aurelius confides in his loyal general, Maximus, and conveys his dying wish: “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter…….. There is one more duty that I ask of you before you go home. I want you to become the protector of Rome after I die. I will empower you to one end alone, to give power back to the people of Rome and end the corruption that has crippled it. It must be you. it must be you. You have not been corrupted by her politics.”

We are Rome. We are a republic in name only, and have been for a very long time now.  We must acknowledge that. Each congressman represents too large and diverse of a group of people (at least 700,000 individuals per congressional district) to act as a meaningful advocate in government, and each senator, representing each person in his or her state, has the same problem. And so, our elected representatives no longer work for us or our interests;  they become agents for the interests and preservation of the federal government – a government that becomes more interested in “the common good” with each year of its existence. Republics are only successful when they are relatively small, when the ratio of elected representatives to the constituency remains workable. The solution to returning power to the people is to subdivide our one great republic into smaller republics (as Jefferson called them, “ward republics”) – to subdivide government power with the greatest control over the individual and his or her everyday life vested in those government bodies most local and closest to the people.

A big government is not our friend, although it likes to portray itself as such. We’ve seen its violations against us over the years, including collecting our personal information, lying to the American people, refusing to punish those in office who have broken criminal laws (and have even skirted on treason), taxing us excessively (including to support terrorist regimes such as Iran and Pakistan), forcing people to purchase health insurance not because they need it but because others need it, opening our borders to leave our communities and jobs vulnerable, judicial activism from the courts, obstruction in our attempts to legitimize the election process, and most recently, wiretapping political a presidential candidate to undermine the success of a threatening political movement. Ask yourself one question: What power do We the People think really have over the governing of our states and our country?  The key to the security of freedom is the control the people have in their government. James Madison once wrote: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

The era of King George III is here. Americans have a history of how to respond to such tyranny…. Unless, of course, we have truly become Rome.

Edward Snowden, labeled both a patriot by many and a traitor by some, said: “Being a patriot doesn’t mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen, from the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries.”

 

Reference:  Kevin Gutzman, Thomas Jefferson – Revolutionary, St. Martin’s Press, NY (2017).

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On This Anniversary of 9/11

9-11 - veteran crying

by Diane Rufino, September 11, 2017

We look back sixteen years ago and remember the horrific attacks on our buildings, on our fellow Americans, on our country, and on our way of life. The nature of those attacks pushed the bounds of our comprehension of evil, horror, hatred, and ambition. As President Bush remarked, “on that day we saw the very worst of human nature and we saw the very best.” We remember the valor of those we lost – those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them. The pictures of victims jumping from our tallest buildings because that was their best option for death, Father Mychal Judge slumped over where he died, being struck by debris as he was administering last rites to a firefighter who died after being struck by a falling body, bloody, soot-covered Americans being rescued from the burning buildings, policemen and firefighters rushing into the towers, never once pausing to reconsider that decision, collapsing skyscrapers, twisted steel, papers and items, evidencing a life, a fireman’s hat lying on the ground, and countless persons carrying photographs, frantically trying to find out if their loved ones were able to make it out alive…. they are all seared permanently into our memory. 2996 perished that morning. The number is astounding. The number killed on 9/11 was 593 more than the number killed on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, which was a calculated, strategic wartime attack on our naval base, targeting only naval personnel and facilities. Those targeted on 9/11 were ordinary, innocent civilians, a cherished skyline, and our seat of government. None targeted had access to weapons of instruments to defend themselves. When we think of that day, we try not to imagine the fear and despair that the victims felt because if we dare, we find ourselves reduced to tears and incredible anger. Yet we know that what they endured was certainly worse than what we could ever imagine. And so, we celebrate their lives, their memories, their legacies. We embrace their families because we know that they will continue somehow to live on in them. We also were reminded of the selflessness and courage of our community’s responders. If we ever had any doubt about the metal these men are made of, the carnage of 9/11 erased it. The suffering and peril of others motivate their service and fear and danger are no obstacles for their response. 412 of the victims claimed that morning were emergency workers in New York City who willingly, eagerly, quickly responded to the World Trade Center attacks. That number included 344 firefighters (including a chaplain and two paramedics) of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), 23 police officers of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), 37 police officers of the New York Port Authority and the New Jersey Police Department (PAPD), and 8 emergency medical technicians and paramedics from private emergency medical services. We will never know how many lives – all strangers to them – they saved. I’ve visited Ground Zero and look forward to visiting the Pentagon memorial and the memorial at Shanksville. I’m glad the name of each victim is memorialized, not only to honor their senseless death, but for our constant remembrance. “To live in others is not to be forgotten.”

We also remember – we MUST remember – the ideology of hatred that gave rise to this horrific slaughter and utter disregard for humanity, and the celebrations that took place across the ocean, in mosques, in caves, and even out in the streets. There was no threat of war and no provocation by the US for war, and so the attacks represented for us the dichotomy between Good and Evil, God and Satan, the teachings of the Bible and radical Islam.

We lost too much on 9/11 to ever soften or downplay the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. We lost our precious sense of security. Never again will we feel the sense of comfort and safety that living in the United States of America once blessed us with. Never again can we trust that when we travel on airplanes, travel up elevators to the tallest of buildings, travel on subways, visit the nation’s capital, celebrate a national holiday with fellow Americans, gather to enjoy events such as a marathon race, go out to a crowded nightclub, go shopping at one of our malls, send our children to school, participate in public Christmas celebrations, or engage in a whole host of ordinary American activities we or our loved ones won’t be harmed by the actions of an Islamic radical extremist. Sad to say, given the once-trusting nature of a typical American citizen, that never again will we be able to look at certain individuals in this country and feel a sense of ease in their presence or in their inclusion. All the constant indoctrination regarding diversity can never erase the memory of the planes flying into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, or into the field at Shanksville, the attacks on the USS Cole, the bombing of our embassies, the bombing of our overseas US barracks, the killing of our men in the downed Black Hawk helicopter, the shootings at Fort Hood, in San Bernadino, at the nightclub in Orlando, or the bombing in Boston, and common sense teaches us that self-preservation is more of a natural reaction than blindly opening up our communities. We also lost our innocence. We lost that childlike, and even Christian, tendency to embrace others, no matter what they look like or where they came from… We lost that innate inclination to embrace them, love them, to welcome them into our country, our communities, our homes. We no longer enjoy that luxury. Innocence has given way to skepticism. Innocence used to be admirable. But now it represents naivete. As 9/11 and the many subsequent attacks in the US have taught us, being naïve is reckless and dangerous. As a result of 9/11, we lost something more concrete – our traditional, time honored freedoms. The freedoms enjoyed for over 200 years are now limited. Our personal privacy rights and civil rights are now surrendered for the greater good – for public safety against radicalized extremists. We are interrogated, probed, and delayed at airports. Our suitcases, purses, pockets, and even our bodies are no longer private. The civil rights of ordinary citizens – of grandmothers, children, beauty queens – are violated in order that there is no profiling of the ones who pose actual threats to us. The Patriot Act enables government officials to scrutinize our movement and communications; to question our motives. The National Defense Authorization Act enables government to detain us, to confiscate our things, and to potentially suspend our Bill of Rights, even indefinitely. Homeland Security has collected a copy of all our communications (and has them stored at a government-controlled facility)… for what reason?

Please let us never think to cover up, dismantle, or destroy our 9/11 monuments and memorials because it may “offend” some new additions to our country. What we have lost that day, in the collective as American citizens, requires constant remembrance of the totality of its planning, execution, devastation, and mortality.

On this sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, remember the lives and the plights of all those we lost that day and pause for a moment or so for them. Think of those thousands of husbands, wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, friends and neighbors who called their loved ones to say “I love you” before their plane crashed or building crumbled, or who never even had that chance.

CONTINUE TO REMEMBER. CONTINUE TO TEACH TO YOUR CHILDREN.

Once this day of remembrance is over and the tears have fallen, ask yourselves: What is the proper response to the attacks that day? What should our country do or what should it have done? Have we done enough? And should we do more? What policies should be put in place to preserve our traditional, time-honored essential and civil rights on account of the threat posed by a single group of people? For those who think that 9/11 was an isolated event, please go back and look at the decade or so preceding that date and take note of all the terrorist attacks that were perpetrated on the US, US personnel, and US property. Perhaps it was the failure of our nation to respond adequately to each of these that led to the audaciousness of the 9/11 attacks. Maybe it was the weakness of prior administrations that emboldened the planners to think on a greater scale.

(Photo was not taken by  me; I would give credit to its owner but I do not who it belongs to. It speaks a thousand words)

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Rethinking the Southern Secession Movement of 1861

SECESSION - Union is Dissolved

by Diane Rufino, July 23, 2017

The question is: Was the Civil War fought over the issue of Slavery?  I won’t deny that slavery was an issue that inflamed the passions of both sections of the country and put each at odds with one another, but it was NOT the cause of the conflict that I will refer to as the War of Northern Aggression, a war which claimed the lives of over 650,000 young Americans.

At the end of 1860, with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, the Union was on the verge of dissolution. By the time Lincoln was inaugurated on April 4, seven states had already seceded and a new nation had been formed, the Confederate States of America (complete with a new constitution).  Following South Carolina’s lead (December 1860), Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and then Texas formally severed political ties with the Union. On April 4, Virginia held a state convention to consider secession but voted it down, 89-45. (North Carolina would do the same). Lincoln could not allow the Union to be split; he could not lose the tariff revenue supplied by the agrarian South which, in 1859, not only supplied approximately 80% of the federal revenue, but was used to enrich the industrialized North. And so, something had to be done to give Lincoln a “pretext” to restore the Southern states to the Union.

On April 12, 1861, Lincoln tricked South Carolina militia forces into firing on the federal garrison at Fort Sumter, even after South Carolina had demanded, and even tried negotiating for, the transfer of the fort to the Confederacy. The attack on Fort Sumter would provide the pretext he needed. He used the incident to characterize the southern states as being in a state of active rebellion and thus ordering troops to subdue them. On April 15, President Lincoln declared a state of insurrection and called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion and to defend the capital.  With that proclamation, four more Southern states left the Union. The first was Virginia.

Virginia did not leave the Union because of slavery; same with North Carolina. We should take particular note of this piece of history.

Virginia looked at President’s Lincoln’s Proclamation and demand for troops, and just as her leaders did when President John Adams passed the Sedition Act, she saw serious constitutional violations and contemplated how she needed to respond.

In reading the responses by Virginia’s Governor John Letcher below, you will see that he exercised all the remedies implied in the concept of State Sovereignty, Tenth Amendment, and even the Declaration of Independence:  First, he refused to comply with Lincoln’s decree – Virginia would not supply troops. That is Nullification and Interposition. And then, because the proclamation evidenced the will of a maniac, a tyrant, and an enemy of the Constitution, and evidenced the transformation of the federal government into something Virginia could no longer trust her sovereignty with and no longer wanted to be associated with, her people decided to sever the bonds which held her in allegiance. Virginia seceded.

On April 16, Virginia’s Governor John Letcher made the following dispatch to Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Simon Cameron:

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT.RICHMOND, Va., April 16, 1861.

HON. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War:

SIR: I received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time (have received your communication, mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia “the quota designated in a table,” which you append, “to serve as infantry or riflemen for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.”

In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object — an object, in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution or the act of 1795 — will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited towards the South. Respectfully,

JOHN LETCHER.

The following day, Governor Letcher issued the following proclamation, which was published for the people of Virginia to read:

Whereas, Seven of the States formerly composing a part of the United States have, by authority of their people, solemnly resumed the powers granted by them to the United States, and have framed a Constitution and organized a Government for themselves, to which the people of those States are yielding willing obedience, and have so notified the President of the United States by all the formalities incident to such action, and thereby become to the United States a separate, independent and foreign power; and whereas, the Constitution of the United States has invested Congress with the sole power “to declare war,” and until such declaration is made, the President has no authority to call for an extraordinary force to wage offensive war against any foreign Power: and whereas, on the 15th inst., the President of the United States, in plain violation of the Constitution, issued a proclamation calling for a force of seventy-five thousand men, to cause the laws of the United states to be duly executed over a people who are no longer a part of the Union, and in said proclamation threatens to exert this unusual force to compel obedience to his mandates; and whereas, the General Assembly of Virginia, by a majority approaching to entire unanimity, declared at its last session that the State of Virginia would consider such an exertion of force as a virtual declaration of war, to be resisted by all the power at the command of Virginia; and subsequently the Convention now in session, representing the sovereignty of this State, has reaffirmed in substance the same policy, with almost equal unanimity; and whereas, the State of Virginia deeply sympathizes with the Southern States in the wrongs they have suffered, and in the position they have assumed; and having made earnest efforts peaceably to compose the differences which have severed the Union, and having failed in that attempt, through this unwarranted act on the part of the President; and it is believed that the influences which operate to produce this proclamation against the seceded States will be brought to bear upon this commonwealth, if she should exercise her undoubted right to resume the powers granted by her people, and it is due to the honor of Virginia that an improper exercise of force against her people should be repelled.

Therefore I, JOHN LETCHER, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, have thought proper to order all armed volunteer regiments or companies within this State forthwith to hold themselves in readiness for immediate orders, and upon the reception of this proclamation to report to the Adjutant-General of the State their organization and numbers, and prepare themselves for efficient service. Such companies as are not armed and equipped will report that fact, that they may be properly supplied.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Commonwealth to be affixed, this 17th day of April, 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth.

JOHN LETCHER.

On April 17, in a newly-called convention, Virginia, the traditional leader of the South, made the decision to secede – 88 to 55, on the condition of ratification by a statewide referendum. Neither Virginia nor any of the other later-seceding states understood the federal government to authorize violence against member states.

Virginia’s ordinance of secession was ratified in a referendum by a vote of 132,201 to 37,451 on May 23.

On April 4, Virginia decided to remain in the Union. How did that decision preserve or extend slavery?  Virginians had been willing to endure a crushing protective tariff under President Lincoln, the likes of the Tariff of Abominations (1828). And they understood that remaining in the Union would mean that slavery would continue to be under attack by his administration. Virginia was loyal to the Union even when the government was antagonistic to her.  No, slavery wasn’t the reason the Southern states of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina (and probably others), left the Union. It would be Lincoln’s demand for troops that would change their minds. To these states, remaining in the Union was to abandon every principle of confederation that they valued. Continued loyalty to a Union that would attack member states and being forced to take up arms against her neighbors was inconceivable and intolerable.

Slavery was the issue that caused the North to become aggressively hostile to the states of the South and to cause the South to question whether the two regions could ever have enough of a common interest to remain joined together with a government that was to serve each equally and fairly. But the independent ambitions of the federal government and the schemes and twisted ideology of its president were the direct cause of its violent course the division would take.

 

Reference:

“Governor Letcher’s Proclamation: His Reply to Secretary Cameron – State of Affairs Norfolk,” New York Times, April 22, 1861.  Referenced at:  http://www.nytimes.com/1861/04/22/news/gov-letcher-s-proclamation-his-reply-secretary-cameron-state-affairs-norfolk.html

 

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If Satan Can Defeat Us in Our Homes, He Can Defeat Us as a Nation

- absolute best smile (July 25, 2017)  by Diane Rufino, July 23, 2017

“If Satan can defeat us in our homes, then he can easily defeat us as a nation.” — Paul Aynes, Bible Study, People’s Baptist Church, Greenville, NC

Today was another excellent Sunday in Bible Study and at church. I am always grateful to learn about the Bible and its lessons. Folks, if you are not always learning about your faith, learning about what the Bible teaches, applying those lessons to your life, and associating yourself with people who are doing the same, then you need to think hard about how you spend your time and energies. Always invest in yourself and your family; that is your best investment and that’s where you will get the best pay-off. Stay away from hypocrites. Find the church that serves you best. We all know those who go to church on Sunday but ignore its teachings during the week and in their treatment of others. I’ve learned that the hard way this year.

Remember that Jesus not only died for our sins but he spent his time on Earth teaching. The disciples called him “teacher.” He called himself “The Son of Man.” He came to serve man, by giving us the greatest gift of all – keeping the channel open to our Heavenly Father and offering us the hope of eternal fellowship with Him. He taught so that we could live good and decent lives, serving one another, raising strong families, and therefore providing the foundation of loving, productive communities – always, of course, honoring God. By following his teachings, we can become the best versions of ourselves and thereby establish, as best as possible, the kingdom of heaven here on Earth.

But we can’t live the lessons if we aren’t taught and if we aren’t even seeking out the lessons. We shouldn’t be reading the Bible for its isolated verses; We can’t hope for a strong, healthy nation if we allow essential foundations to crumble. We can’t hope to enjoy the protection of the Divine Creator when we fail to reflect His values.

Going back to the idea that Jesus taught us the lessons that could help establish, as best as possible, a Godly kingdom on Earth, I can’t help but wonder if that was the inspiration for settling the colonies in America. I know that the Pilgrims and the Puritans left England because of religious persecution (that did not adhere to the Anglican Church, or Church of England); they focused particularly intently in the books of the Old Testament and believed that they had to live strictly to the divine law in every aspect of their lives. To that end, compacts and covenants were important in their lives. They were central to their establishments of social, political, and religious organizations. As they understood (from the Old Testament), God promised his people many things, through covenants, such as eternal life, wisdom, liberation from bondage, a new land, a prosperous nation, etc provided they obeyed His law… provided that they obeyed divine and moral law. They lived their lives and established their communities intending to be as close to God’s chosen people as possible.

We may recall from school: The Pilgrims came to America in 1620, aboard the Mayflower, and settled Plymouth Colony. The Puritans reached the new world in 1629 and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony (and they would establish other colonies, such as the Connecticut colony, later on).  The term “Puritan” first began as a taunt or insult applied by traditional Anglicans to those who criticized or wished to “purify” the Church of England. Although the word is often applied loosely, “Puritan” refers to two distinct groups: “separating” Puritans, such as the Plymouth colonists, who believed that the Church of England was corrupt and that true Christians must separate themselves from it; and non-separating Puritans, such as the colonists who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed in reform but not separation. Most Massachusetts colonists were non-separating Puritans who wished to reform the established church.  (Donna Campbell, “Puritanism in New England”).

This reliance on covenants, on promises, on adherence to God’s law, perhaps the reason our founders often referred to our nation as being “guided by Divine Providence.” Samuel Adams once wrote: “Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up.”  Our nation’s victories in the Revolution and subsequent wars, our prosperity, and even the inspired words in our founding documents have been attributed to the “benevolence” or the “providence of Almighty God.”  (“Providence” meaning “wisdom”). Otto von Bismarck, ruler of Prussia and then all of Germany (he formed the German empire, 1862-1890) commented: “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”

If our country indeed was founded, in large part, by groups of people who lived according to covenants, including with God and with one another – to follow His laws and to do so for the benefit of one another – then I understand why our early generations believed, and perhaps expected, that God would extend His blessings to the new nation.  Early governments were structured this way. There was firm reliance on the Almighty.  A person who can govern himself properly is an excellent member of society. A society comprised of such individuals needs very little government. A society comprised of such individuals requires very little laws.  When less government is required, more freedom is enjoyed.  Robert Winthrop, former Speaker of the US House (1838-1840) explained it well: “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

When less government is required, communities are happier and healthier because everyone is doing right by others; they are exercising their God-given liberties without burdening those of others and they are providing the help and support of others that otherwise government would need to do. In other words, they are getting along because the precepts of the Bible have taught them how to handle the evils that arise in society – vice, greed, ambition, crime, coveting, injustice, oppression, infidelity, immorality, and abuse of civic duty, and they are conscientiously committed to following such precepts.

Matthew 22:36-40 says:  36. “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”  37-39. Jesus answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”  40. All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.

The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams took note: “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.”

And his father, John Adams, had delivered this famous message: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

We hear it over-and-over again – that religion and morality are essential to the existence of men in society; that our government system, as established and limited by the Constitution, cannot be maintained unless the people are religious and moral; and that religion and morality are indispensable if we hope to secure the freedoms that we have. And yet we see a trend in the very opposite direction.  The people of the United States are becoming more distant from God, they are becoming shockingly immoral, they spend more and more time in the pleasures and distractions of this world than in education and spiritual renewal, and they work tirelessly to violate the laws of nature that have guided the world from its beginning and have successfully sustained its progression and survival. Satan has been deceiving us in our priorities and in the way we view our lives; rather than living a life of discipline and purpose, today’s individuals live for pure pleasure and self-gratification. It’s a “me, me, me” generation.  Satan has been destroying our homes. In schools, teachers and administrators no longer assume that their student’s parents have the same name, are married, or are even the opposite sex.

We can’t protect our families and strengthen our nation if we don’t secure the one pillar that props us up most strongly – religion. Religion provides the foundation for morality and the two of these together help us make the decisions that keep our nation in good health. To fight Satan, we must spend more time learning what God and Jesus expect from us. We must learn what God’s law means and how we are meant to apply it. Too many people treat the Bible like the progressives treat Constitution – as if it were a “living, breathing document, to be re-interpreted according to the social dictates of the time. In other words, they are willing to perverting it. But here’s the thing:  God’s Law has divine and natural elements to it, and as such, it is unchangeable, infallible, and universal.  Laws made by humans are imperfect, just as humans are. They are subject to change, to be molded and to evolve with time just as people and societies do. But laws that come from God, who, by definition, is the epitome of universality and infallibility, must be perfect, unchanging, and universal. They transcend all time and all cultures. As Marcus Tullius Cicero (of Rome) wrote: “There will be but one eternal and unchangeable law that will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all…”

Again, we are helpless and ill-equipped to meet today’s evil challenges when we don’t study the Bible.

If going to church on Sunday is about feeling good because you’ve made a donation or because you’ve put in an appearance, then all you have, my friends, is a hobby. It’s a waste of your time. If you’re reading a Bible verse here and there in church, then all you’re doing is reading the Bible to know the Bible. You should be in a church that is Bible-centered, where you read the Bible to know God and to study Christ’s teachings. You should be investing in your lives and in your families, and by extension, investing in your communities. The future of our society here in the United States, and therefore the future of our very republic and our ideals depends upon moral accountability.

“We ought to muse upon the things of God, because then we get the real nutriment out of them…… Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life?  It’s because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord…… ”― Charles H. Spurgeon

 

References:

Diane Rufino, “Self-Governing Individuals are Necessary for a Self-Governing Society,” www.forloveofgodandcountry.com, April 14, 2013.   Referenced at:  https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2013/04/14/self-governing-individuals-are-necessary-for-a-self-governing-society/

Donna M. Campbell, “Puritanism in the New England,” Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. .Referenced at:  https://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/purdef.htmby

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Those Who Are Tearing Down Confederate Monuments are Forcing Selective Amnesia on Americans

ROBERT E. LEE - in front of door

by Diane Rufino, July 27, 2017

In this era when Southern (Confederate) leaders, symbols, generals, buildings, etc are being erased from our memory and history, and vilified in our conversations because of their connection to slavery, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind folks that they should really do some homework before jumping on this politically-correct bandwagon.  A history lesson is an opportunity for speech, for dialogue, for debate, for learning.  Erase history and you erase much more than the mere reminder than an event happened. Erase the memory of the Confederacy and you erase a time when states had the backbone to stand up for the principles in the Declaration of Independence (“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness..”). Erase the memory of the Confederacy and you erase a time when states were willing to exert their natural rights of self-determination (aka, secession) rather than allow the federal government to subjugated them completely to its ambitious designs. Erase the memory of the Confederacy and you erase the last time in our nation’s history when states actually believed themselves to be the powerful sovereigns that they thought they would be under the US Constitution.

Be careful how you treat history.

Now many, it seems, are calling for the destruction of the monuments erected to Confederate leaders and Confederate generals, such as the great General Robert E. Lee.  There is no finer gentleman, no finer American, no finer human being than General Lee.  When President Lincoln tricked the South Carolina militia to fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1860, therefore giving him the reason he needed to raise troops to invade the South and force it back into the Union, he had some soul-searching to do. He was summoned to serve Lincoln and command the Northern Army, but then he would have to take up arms against the state he loved so much. Back in the day, one’s citizenship and one’s loyalties were first and foremost with one’s state (except, of course if you were a member of Congress). It was Lincoln’s Proclamation of April 15 that made Lee’s decision to fight for Virginia an easy one. Lincoln sent a dispatch to states such as Virginia and North Carolina, demanding that they send 75,000 troops to the Northern Army in order to invade the “rebelling states.”  Taking up arms, killing fellow Southerners, and imposing government force on his neighbors were things his conscience would not allow.  And so, he resigned the standing position he had with the government and joined the Confederate cause (Virginia voted to secede on April 17).

Lincoln had a tortured understanding of the Constitution and the South was right to resist.  Robert E. Lee, like so many other Southerns, was not a supporter of slavery and was looking forward to the day when the institution would either die a natural death (which it was on its way to doing) or would be abolished. He thought it an evil institution.  But slavery was not the cause of the hostilities that brought the War. It was government ambition, the disregard for States’ Rights, and the use of government force against member states (the ones who created the government in the first place) that initiated the violence that would claim more than 650,000 young American lives.  General Lee made the right choice. It may not have been the choice that best served our collective conscience regarding the enslavement of an entire race, but that’s not what the war was about. He made the right choice because only when states have the power to make their rightful decisions, including the decision to separate from an abusive government, can they effectively carry out the essential role that they play in our government system – to check the federal government when it oversteps its constitutional authority.

So, those who clamor to take down the statues of men like General Lee, or to erase his name from buildings and streets, take a moment to read what he had to say about slavery when the war was over: “I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained.”

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