Commentary: The Movement of Black Lives Matter

If Black Lives Matter were a civil rights organization, one would reasonably expect its patron figure to be Martin Luther King, Jr., and its aspiration to be King’s vision of a race-free America where individuals are judged on their merits and not by their skin color. Instead, the revered figure and inspirational icon for Black Lives Matter activists is a designated terrorist and convicted cop killer: Assata Shakur. 

In the 1970s Shakur was a member of the Black Liberation Army, a group that robbed banks and murdered police officers to achieve a Marxist revolution. Shakur is still wanted for the 1973 murder of Werner Foerster, a New Jersey state trooper who stopped her for a broken taillight on her car, whereupon she pulled out a gun and shot him. The 34-year-old officer and Vietnam vet was lying wounded on the pavement pleading for his life when Shakur walked over and finished him off, execution-style. Foerster left behind a wife and two young children. Shakur was convicted of the murder but escaped from prison in 1979 with the help of left-wing terrorists, including Susan Rosenberg. With the help of Rosenberg and others, Shakur fled to Communist Cuba, where she has lived as a fugitive for nearly 40 years. After being pardoned by Bill Clinton, Rosenberg went on to become board vice chair of Thousand Currents, the left-wing nonprofit organization that served as Black Lives Matter’s fiscal sponsor from 2016 to 2020. 

The dedication page of Patrisse Cullors’s memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist, contains these lines written by Shakur, which allude to the most famous incitement from Marx’s Communist Manifesto:

It is our duty to fight for our freedom. 

It is our duty to win. 

We must love each other and support each other. 

We have nothing to lose but our chains.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: General Lee and the Importance of Preserving American History

Earlier this month, a 21-foot-tall bronze statue of Robert E. Lee — perhaps the most famous monument to the Confederate general — was removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. Supporters of the statue’s removal, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), hailed the event as a triumph for racial justice.

The left has decided that Lee, the most recognized and celebrated figure of the Confederacy, is intolerable, a man who should be erased from American history. This maelstrom surrounding Lee has reached a fever pitch in recent years, as the woke movement has grown.

In short, anyone who dares mention Lee at all better demonize him as pure evil or else face the wrath of the progressive mob. This is retroactively imposing cancel culture on the past, while silencing free speech today.
In this context, Allen Guelzo’s newly released biography on the Confederate general, Robert E. Lee: A Life, is especially welcome and important.

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Commentary: Historians Selling Out for Leftist Star, Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones

The University of North Carolina’s decision on June 30 to offer tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones came about through a torrent of threats (often tweeted), profanities, doxxings, and assaults—tactics that have become increasingly commonplace among professional activists and racial grievance-mongers.

Hannah-Jones, of course, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer and architect of the New York Times’ notorious “1619 Project,” which claims that America’s true founding was not in 1776 but rather in 1619, when 20 or so African slaves arrived in Virginia. Hannah-Jones contends, moreover, that the American War of Independence was fought solely to preserve slavery. 

More than two-dozen credible historians, many of them political liberals and leftists, have debunked Hannah-Jones’ claims. Though, as we’ll see, some are less firm in their convictions than others. What’s clear, however, is that peer review is passé in the era of “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Forget a stellar record of scholarly accomplishment—that’s a relic of “Eurocentrism.” Far more important these days is a candidate’s enthusiasm for social justice. It was Hannah-Jones’ celebrity activism and her “journalism,” not her scholarship, that formed the basis for the university’s initial offer of tenure earlier in the spring.

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University of North Carolina Revokes Tenure Offer for ‘1619’ Founder Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones

The University of North Carolina, after briefly considering the possibility of offering a full-time tenured position to Nikole Hannah-Jones, has ultimately reneged and turned down the offer due to mounting pressure, the New York Post reports.

Jones, the founder of the controversial “1619 Project” and an alumnus of the university, is now reportedly being considered for a mere five-year contract where she would instead serve as a “professor of practice.” The decision was ultimately made by UNC’s board of trustees, even though the left-wing faculty of the university overwhelmingly supported hiring her full-time.

Susan King, dean of UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, called the decision “disappointing” and “chilling,” before baselessly claiming that Jones “represents the best of our alumni and the best of our business.”

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Commentary: Too Much of a Unity

“The city comes in to being for the sake of life, but it continues for the sake of the good life. ” — Aristotle, Politics

“[The Declaration of Independence] was the word, “fitly spoken” which has proved an “apple of gold” to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture.”—Abraham Lincoln, “Fragment on the Constitution and Union”

The crisis of our time requires clear thinking about political means and ends, and the ways they are connected. The two epigraphs above address this central question of practical wisdom—the first from the general perspective of theory, the second as relates to the particular nation of the United States. Both quotations may be familiar to educated conservatives, and particularly to those students of political philosophy broadly associated with the Claremont school of thought. Yet there is a danger that such familiarity may breed, if not contempt, then the forgetfulness that settles on “sonorous phrases” which lapse into clichés. I would like to reconsider these arguments made by Aristotle and Lincoln—along with some related observations by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson—not as hackneyed commonplaces but as genuine insights that remain relevant and even urgent. Circumstances in the coming years may require new or unusual means to secure the ends of liberty and justice. Our thinking must be appropriately radical.

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Commentary: Reflections on the Bill of Rights

The deep divisions plaguing our country may find a remedy in the most unlikely of places: the Bill of Rights. Ratified 229 years ago on December 15, 1791, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. There is little public commemoration of December 15, in contrast to the tradition of celebrating two famous dates in the history of the United States—the Fourth of July, the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, and September 17, the day that the members of the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. Yet, of the three documents, the Bill of Rights is perhaps the one most invoked by citizens and advocates in everyday life.

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