Martin Luther King on the Limits of Civil Disobedience

More than most years, 2018 will be a year filled with remembrances of Martin Luther King, Jr., because in it falls the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination.

It will also be a year filled with remembrances of 1968 itself as the culminating year of the 1960s, a year in which the country seemed divided even to the breaking point.

In many such remembrances those two facts will be conjoined, and amid our present climate of political division and radicalized opposition, there will be much admiring discussion of King and the radicalism of that era, along with much lamentation that King’s late-1960s vision of an America thoroughly revolutionized in its core values passed, at least for a time, from the scene with him.

Unfortunately absent from this discussion will be any significant appreciation of King’s moderation—a virtue that he himself, in the more sober expressions of his thinking, regarded as indispensable to his and his movement’s success.

In fact, the single best representation of King’s mind during the most successful portion of his career, the famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” is in large measure a reflection on the virtue of moderation and a justification of King’s claim to it.

King felt compelled to justify his claim to moderation, because it was on precisely this ground that eight of his fellow clergymen had challenged him, in a public letter to King that appeared in Birmingham’s major newspaper.

These eight clergymen, all white, made their own claim to moderation. It was plausible enough, as they were all opponents of racial segregation and had written a public letter a few months earlier in which they called for Alabama Gov. George Wallace to abide by the Supreme Court’s anti-segregation rulings.

In their letter to King, they expressed a concern over his methods of street demonstration and civil disobedience, which they characterized as “extreme measures” likely to incite violence and sharpen divisions.

>>> Read Peter Meyers’ essay, “The Limits and Dangers of Civil Disobedience: The Case of Martin Luther King, Jr.

King began his response by noting that he seldom replied to critical letters due to the huge volume that he received. The letter from these eight clergymen was a special case, he wrote, because its authors were “men of good will”—men of faith, anti-segregationists, and moderates whose challenge to his own moderation he took very seriously.

In his response, King did not altogether reject the imputation of extremism.“Was not Jesus an extremist for love?” he asked, and were not the prophet Amos, and our own Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, extremists for justice?

Nonetheless, he indicated that the charge stung him, and he defended his own extremism by explaining how it was consistent with and governed by the virtue of moderation, rightly understood.

In his book, “Stride Toward Freedom” (1958), King recalled how he had framed his task, as he prepared his initial speech to participants in the Montgomery bus boycott. “How could I make a speech that would be militant enough to keep my people aroused to positive action and yet moderate enough to keep this fervor within controllable and Christian bounds?”

Moderation can in some circumstances require militancy, but militancy can and must be moderate. The same idea informed King’s argument in the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Within the eight clergymen’s frame of reference, the moderate position was to support gradual desegregation—in contrast to both Wallace’s extreme “segregation forever!” position and the protesters’ demand for immediate desegregation.

Within King’s frame of reference, however, the moderate position was to conduct nonviolent, direct-action protests against segregation. This approach contrasted with what King called the “two opposing forces in the Negro community”: the extremes of demoralized complacency and of the “bitterness and hatred” propagated by those advocating violence and separatism.

King believed his own frame of reference was the proper one, because he held the gradual approach, judged in historical context, was in fact not a moderate position: “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights.”

King’s commitment to moderation in the “Letter” is actually broader and deeper than this rejection of gradualism. Two general points are of primary importance.

First, King’s militancy was moderate in that it incorporated a respect for tradition. He justified his activism by appealing to principles grounded in venerable Western and American traditions of natural law and natural rights philosophy.

Second, he defended his direct-action methods—including the practice of civil disobedience—as consistent with and even, in the proper circumstances, required by the rule of law. In King’s explanation, an  appeal to higher-law principles of justice must not reflect a disdain for man-made law, but to the contrary, must preserve and exemplify “the highest respect for law.”

The “right to protest for right,” King maintained, is both a natural human right and a precious American inheritance. The spirit of righteous resistance is among the virtues of the American character—yet like other such qualities, it loses its virtuous character when it is carried into extremism.

Those in our own day who feel themselves moved by this spirit would do well to learn this lesson from King’s “Letter”: Resistance loses its righteousness when it ceases to be governed by the virtues of moderation and prudence.

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Lawsuit Claims Rank Internal Bias At Google, Sweeping Commitment To Identity Quotas

James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired after criticizing the company’s diversity policies, filed a class action lawsuit against the tech giant Tuesday.

The lawsuit describes a corporate culture in which managers and employees alike conspire to stifle conservative views and retaliate against conservative employees, while implementing race and gender based hiring and advancement criteria that may be unlawful.

Damore was fired in August 2017 for disseminating a memo critical of the ideologies that prevail among most Google employees and managers. The document attracted significant press attention.

“Portions of the memo violate our code of conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a company-wide email that attended his termination.

“We look forward to defending against Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court,” the company told Fox News by email.

Other conservative Google employees joined Damore’s lawsuit. They are represented by Harmeet Dhillon, an employment discrimination and civil rights lawyer. Dhillon was interviewed for a senior post in the U.S. Department of Justice in the early days of the Trump administration.

Google-sanctioned hostility to conservative employees

The complaint opens with an animated description of company culture, alleging that Google is an “ideological echo chamber” impatiently hostile to conservative views. It reads:

Google employees and managers strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink. When Plaintiffs challenged Google’s illegal employment practices, they were openly threatened and subjected to harassment and retaliation from Google. Google created an environment of protecting employees who harassed individuals who spoke out against Google’s view or the “Googley way,” as it is sometimes known internally. Google employees knew they could harass Plaintiffs with impunity, given the tone set by managers — and they did so.

The alleged harassment is recounted in detail.

Damore’s lawsuit elicited intense antagonism from the ranks of Google employees, who style themselves “Googlers,” in internal communications. Googlers in upper management allegedly shared this vitriol. One Google director, George Sadlier, sent a mass email Aug. 3, 2017 condemning Damore as “repulsive and intellectually dishonest.” He went on to promote posts threatening violence against Damore.

A torrent of belligerent communications followed the email. One Google engineer named Alex Hidalgo sent Damore a message the following day, promising to “hound him” until corporate leadership intervened.

“You’re a misogynist and a terrible person,” the message read. “I will keep hounding you until one of us is fired. Fuck you.”

The lawsuit includes screenshots of other Google employee messages agitating for the dismissal of conservative personnel:

A Google employee threatens to quit if conservative personnel are not fired.

A Google employee promises to silence internal conservative views.

Several employees were apparently awarded “peer bonuses” for disparaging Damore’s views. A “peer bonus” is one of Google’s peer-to-peer recognition systems, through which employees recognize one another for exemplary work with small cash bonuses.

The lawsuit cites one such bonus, in which an employee named Matthew Sachs recognized a colleague named Simone Wu for “speaking up for googley values and promoting [diversity and inclusion] in the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is [Damore’s Memo].” The Google Recognition Team approved the bonus.

A second employee who joined Damore’s suit, David Gudeman, was terminated after voicing dissent from an August 2015 memo conflating the marginalization of minorities with white privilege. Kim Burchett, a manager, wrote and circulated the memo among staff.

Gudeman openly criticized the document through company channels, occasionally using hyperbolic rhetoric that compared Burchett’s directive to slave codes. Burchett reported Gudeman to HR, which assessed a verbal warning against him in September 2015.

One year later in December 2016, Gudeman was fired after he expressed skepticism toward a colleague who claimed that the FBI profiled him on the basis of his Muslim identity. The exchange began after the colleague urged Google to “take a public stand to defend minorities and use its influence,” following Donald Trump’s election to the presidency.

A third group of unnamed employees cited as potential class members included their own allegations in the complaint. The employees requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

One employee received a final warning letter from human resources that repudiated his attempts to establish a permissive political environment at Google. The letter says the employee’s statements to fellow Googlers compromised their commitment to a respectful culture. Examples of offending statements include:

Offensive statements made by an unnamed Google employee.

A final warning letter is the last administrative penalty before termination, per company policy. The statements included in the complaint do not appear to be a comprehensive list of every sanctioned statement.

Another unnamed employee who holds socially conservative political views complained to HR about a particularly bitter manager who falsely alleged the employee was involved in a “doxxing” campaign to expose an unidentified party to harassment. The same manager later suggested that the Employee Relations department review emails sent on the “conservatives@” listserv, and apply the company speech code against employees discussing politics outside the workplace.

The “conservatives@” list is an internal email list used by conservative or libertarian employees.

The same manager further threatened that any employee supporting the Damore lawsuit would be terminated.

Google HR allegedly reviewed the manager’s conduct and agreed that he acted inappropriately, but took no serious punitive action.

Another trio of managers — Adam Fletcher, Jake McGuire and Nori Heikkinen — endorsed “blacklisting” conservative employees on an internal message board in August 2015.

“I will never, ever hire/transfer you onto my team. Ever,” Fletcher wrote with respect to conservatives. “I don’t care if you are perfect fit or technically excellent or whatever. I will actively not work with you, even to the point where your team or product is impacted by this decision. I’ll communicate why to your manager if it comes up.”

McGuire and Heikkinen expressed agreement in subsequent messages. The sequence was precipitated when a “Republican employee” complained about disparate advancement opportunities for openly conservative personnel.

During this same period, another manager, Paul Cowan, relayed his support for blacklists, announcing that he kept a mental blacklist of colleagues who hold “dunderheaded opinion[s] about religion, about politics, or about ‘social justice’” on an internal message board.

“If I had to work with people on this list, I would refuse, and try to get them removed; or I would change teams; or I would quit,” he wrote.

The complaint also speaks of pervasive but informal practices through which employees “block” colleagues with heterodox political views on company social media and communications platforms. Such “blocking” is detrimental to advancement, since employees are not placed on project teams with other Googlers who have “blocked” them.

All told, the problem was serious enough to provoke a meeting between conservative employees and Paul Manwell, chief of staff to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Sept. 8, 2017. The meeting appears to have yielded little by way of results, while other Googlers revealed that senior vice presidents sanctioned unofficial blocking and blacklisting during an October 2017 meeting, though the lawsuit is not specific as to what was said during the October meeting.

Hypersensitivity to race, gender and sexuality in company culture

The complaint also alleges that Google fosters an HR architecture obsessively attentive to race, gender, and sexuality. The suit claims the company relies on illegal racial or gender quotas in personnel decisions, and promotes a work culture deeply intertwined with identity politics.

Most seriously, Damore alleges that the company uses illegal hiring quotas to meet desired numbers of female and minority employees in every facet of the hierarchy.

Such racial and gender preferences are communicated during company-wide events. During a Google-wide meeting March 30, 2017, two senior corporate officers, CFO Ruth Porat and HR chief Eileen Naughton, allegedly berated company units where women compromise less than 50 percent of employees. They also announced the company would consider gender and ethnic demographics in awarding promotions and leadership opportunities.

At a subsequent “diversity summit” in June 2017, Google leadership reiterated its commitment to racial and gender preferences. Presenters allegedly described employment policies that place minority applicants in “high priority” queues for hiring or advancement, treat minority applicants differently during interviews, and place new hires in specific environments on the basis of gender or ethnicity.

The company also maintains diversity programs meant to improve technical proficiency for minority employees or interns. Such programs are allegedly open only to employees with specific immutable traits. One such program, “BOLD,” is an internship offered only to women and minorities. Another class, “Stretch,” is only open to women.

Such ethnic or gender specific programs may be unlawful.

The company’s interest in diversity allegedly encourages a culture of extreme identitarian commitments.

For example, Google curates email lists for employees with fringe lifestyle characteristics like polygamists, furries, and pluralists. Furries interact sexually while dressed as animals. Examples of “pluralist” Google employees include one Googler who sexually identifies as “a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin,” according to the complaint. Said employee gave a presentation at a company event called “Living as a Plural Being,” with a colleague who sexually identifies as “an expansive ornate building.”

Employee social and political views are allegedly so extreme that “a large number of Googlers” use the antifa insignia as their corporate profile picture. The complaint only produces one such example.

Google will respond to Damore’s complaint in the coming weeks.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email

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Ariz. Governor Says ‘Cut it Out’ to Ban on Unlicensed Haircuts for Homeless Vets

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants one occupational-licensing rule to get a trim after Juan Carlos Montes de Oca was ordered to stop giving haircuts to homeless veterans by the state cosmetology board.

Montes de Oca, a cosmetology student from Tucson, was inspired by a man in London who helped the homeless on his days off. It motivated him to give haircuts to homeless veterans and encourage them to use their clean-cut look and positive spirit to apply for jobs.

Montes de Oca wanted to give back to the community while still practicing his skills in cosmetology school, and volunteered at Camp Bravo, a place where homeless veterans and others gather to find comfort, food, and shelter.

Camp Bravo’s director said that Montes de Oca comes in as a friend and resembles a counselor to the people at the camp. “He’s part of the family here,” the director said of the young man in a video interview with the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples, Fla.-based think tank focused on free-market principles.  

All was well at Camp Bravo until Montes de Oca received a letter from the state cosmetology board to cease and desist, because he had not yet graduated from cosmetology school and was operating without a license. The letter requested he appear in court in Phoenix.

When the Republican governor saw the positive impact that Montes de Oca was having in Tucson, he decided to take on the cosmetology board and the required occupational-licensing laws.  

The Arizona Capitol Times reported a state law requires 1,000 hours of training at a state-licensed school in order to style hair. State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican, said that cosmetology licenses can cost up to $10,000, adding that not holding one does not pose a public health or safety issues since blow-drying hair does not require scissors or use of chemicals or dyes.

In his State of the State address Tuesday, Ducey noted that a cosmetology license requires “25 weeks [of training], more than an EMT, certified nursing assistant or truck driver.”

Ducey views the cosmetology board as “bullies” and is urging passage of Ugenti-Rita’s bill that would make it easier to obtain a license.

Arguably, the most memorable moment of Ducey’s speech came when he looked at the young man at the center of the controversy and said, “Juan Carlos, you go ahead and keep cutting hair and keep doing the right thing.”

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I Was Denied Service Because of the Company’s Values, and I’m OK With That

This week, I was denied a service because the company’s values are at odds with the values that Alliance Defending Freedom stands for—values I personally hold.

And guess what? I’m okay with that. Allow me to explain.

As a writer, I’m always looking to improve my skills. And working for a no-debt legal service like Alliance Defending Freedom, which can only take on cases and clients as the funds are provided through our generous ministry friends, fundraising is an important part of what we do.

Using my work information, I signed up for an online course created by Moceanic, a team of talented fundraisers who have created a coaching and training business to help writers better connect with donors.

I’ve read blog posts and books that the team has produced, and I truly admire their talents. They have a gift for connecting with people.

What I didn’t know when I signed up for the course, however, is that Moceanic does a lot of work with organizations such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and LGBT activist organizations.

If you know anything about Alliance Defending Freedom or have read my blog posts before, you know that Alliance Defending Freedom and these organizations don’t exactly share the same values.

I received login information from the course and was excited to get started. But last weekend I received an email notifying me that they had refunded the cost of the course with no explanation as to why.

I was a little perplexed by the email and when I logged into their website on Monday morning, the course was no longer available to me.

That’s when I starting digging deeper into the brains behind Moceanic, and it didn’t take long for me to discover the values statement on their website. Here are a few key excerpts:

We work with progressive charities and movements. … This includes LBGT+ rights, Planned Parenthood, ACLU… . We won’t work with organizations that oppose these movements.

This is important to us, and we reserve the right to choose not to train people working directly for, or on behalf of, organizations whose missions or values do not align with ours.

My first thought was, “I get it—no further explanation needed.” I mean, why would they want to train someone who is going to work to raise money for their opposition?

My second thought was, “We actually have more in common than they think!” This is somewhat like the kind of freedom that Jack Phillips and numerous other Alliance Defending Freedom clients are fighting for.

Alliance Defending Freedom recently argued on behalf of Jack at the Supreme Court.

Jack was sued because he politely declined to design a custom cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. He believes that marriage is sacred—between a man and woman—and designing a cake that celebrated a very different message than his religious beliefs was not something he could do.

It’s not that Jack had any problems serving the couple requesting the cake. In fact, he offered to design them cakes for other occasions or sell them any of the premade goods he had available.

But Jack’s faith is important to him, and as an artist, he has the right not to create art that contradicts that faith.

And it’s not just the cake artist or Barronelle Stutzman, the florist, whose case we have appealed to the Supreme Court.

Alliance Defending Freedom is defending website designers, promotional printers, photographers, film production companies, and other small business owners who are fighting for the same freedom in court—the freedom not to betray their most deeply held beliefs and values.

Our clients serve everyone, they just can’t custom design material that sends messages that violate their faith.

But Moceanic has taken it a step further. They denied me not just their coaching program involving customized material—they declined to serve me entirely, even refusing to allow me access to a pre-existing course.

Of course, Moceanic shouldn’t be forced to coach me on how to speak in a way that generates excitement and engagement for a cause that they disagree with any more than Jack should have to create a cake celebrating a marriage that conflicts with his beliefs.

But they also want to decline me pre-existing courses lacking any custom designed coaching or content.

Although Moceanic’s actions go further than protecting against compelled speech, I understand why they wouldn’t want to advance the mission of their opposition. We live in a diverse nation where people hold differing views about a lot of different things.

The freedom to disagree is what makes America so unique. If we’re all forced by the government to adhere to the same ideology, then we are no longer the land of the free.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy stated during oral arguments in Jack’s case, “[T]olerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual.”

If the government can take away Jack’s freedom to speak and create consistently with his conscience, then freedom for all of us—including Moceanic—is at risk.

Whether they realize it or not, it appears the Moceanic team agrees with that sentiment. And although they might have taken it further than our arguments in Jack’s case, I wish them all the best.

Originally published by Alliance Defending Freedom.

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To the Citizens of Iran: We Stand With You

Nothing is as powerful as the truth.

That’s why repressive regimes actively suppress free speech and assembly of their citizens. It’s also why America’s Founding Fathers enshrined these basic rights into our nation’s founding documents.

On Dec. 28, 2017, protesters in Iran’s second largest city, Mashhad, took to the streets to voice their concerns over their country’s economic distress and rising food prices. These protests quickly grew, spreading to dozens of cities across Iran.

Iran’s leaders cannot dismiss concerns about the rising price of goods and increasing unemployment in their country. The Iranian regime received a generous influx of cash in 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal. Iran’s citizens believed these payments would give their economy a much-needed boost.

The truth is that Iran’s government would rather fund terrorist groups, like Hezbollah and Hamas, than meet the basic domestic needs of its people.

Now, as citizens push back and call for change, the regime’s brutality is on display. In attempt to squash the protests, the government has restricted use of internet applications commonly used to communicate and share news.

The government has even at times resorted to using gunfire to disperse crowds. To date, more than 20 protesters have died and more than 450 have been arrested. Additionally, there are news reports of brutal treatment of protesters who have been imprisoned.

Given the regime’s crackdown, the future of these protests is uncertain. While it is unlikely the deep concerns of the Iranian people will be resolved quickly, we do know they will not easily be silenced. The average age of the protesters is 25, meaning the next generation of Iranians long for change.

We’ve seen anti-government protests in Iran before. In 2009, Iranians questioned then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. The regime took the same actions, which led to thousands imprisoned and hundreds dead.

As the world watched this violence break out, the Iranian people looked to America for support, but our government largely stayed silent.

Thankfully, this administration has chosen a different approach. President Donald Trump has already taken vital first steps, vocalizing support from the executive branch and even implementing new sanctions on five entities who are subsidiaries to the regime’s defense ministry. More sanctions could follow as a direct result of the treatment of these protesters.

I believe the people of Iran deserve bipartisan American support in their pursuit of reforms and a democratic government.

I recently introduced a House resolution that formally stands with the citizens of Iran and calls for a peaceful outcome to the demonstrations. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a Senate version of this resolution that has bipartisan support.

The House is expected to pass legislation this week that supports the rights of Iranians to free expression.

At this critical time, it is vital to lend our support to the Iranian people and their pursuit of freedom. As protests continue, we, as Americans, need to join together and say one thing to the brave citizens of Iran: We stand with you.

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8 Freedom Fighters You Should Know About From 2017

There are talkers and doers, sowers of dissatisfaction seeds and agents of lasting change.

Much of my column work over the year is dedicated to exposing the worst in politics, pop culture, media, and the policy arena.

But to ring out 2017, I’m raising a toast to some of my favorite bulldogs—vigilant citizens, independent journalists and bloggers, and dedicated activists who work tirelessly to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Angel Moms and Dads

These brave parents of victims of illegal immigrant crime keep the legacies of their lost loved ones alive by fighting for secure borders and immigration enforcement to prevent more needless suffering.

After President Donald Trump spotlighted several members on the campaign trail in 2016, liberal journalists attacked them as a “hate group”—never mind the fact that many are legal immigrants and naturalized citizens themselves.

As open-borders lobbyists fight hard this coming year for amnesty, sanctuary cities, and border wall sabotage, look for the Angel Moms and Dads to step up and speak for the voiceless.

Terri LaPoint

An Alabama-based writer and investigative reporter, Terri runs for Health Impact News. She exposes the dangerous alliance between child welfare bureaucrats and elite medical institutions that undermine parental rights and separate sick kids from their families in the name of saving them.

While the Justina Pelletier and Charlie Gard cases prompted international outrage, most medical kidnappings go unnoticed and unreported on a chillingly routine basis. LaPoint is the go-to resource for families under siege for defending their medical autonomy.

Luke Rosiak

This prolific investigative reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation has broken dozens of stories on the Democrats’ information technology scandal involving what Rosiak calls a “massive cyber breach on Congress and cover-up.”

For the past year, he has hammered away at House Democrats who employed IT aide Imran Awan and his family members to the tune of at least $4 million in taxpayer funds between 2009 and 2017.

Thanks to Rosiak’s work, we learned that Awan and his brothers were under investigation for equipment theft and accessing congressional computer networks while working for several Democrats who served on committees that handle highly sensitive national security information.

Awan was wiring gobs of cash to Pakistan; his brother Abid ran a used-car lot with no inventory, a fake sales staff, and funding from a “Hezbollah-linked fugitive.” While Rosiak collects and connects the shady dots, the rest of the media is still snoozing.

Kimberly Corban

This Colorado mom is a passionate Second Amendment defender who directly challenged President Barack Obama’s support of gun control by sharing her experience as a rape survivor in 2006.

More than 10 years later, Corban speaks regularly to young women on college campuses and defies the left-wing feminist orthodoxy of rape survivors as perpetual victims. She has weathered death threats and hate attacks online, but remains undeterred in her quest to help empower women through armed self-defense.

Obianuju Ekeocha

This Nigerian-born pro-life speaker and organizer is president of Culture of Life Africa.

With her megawatt smile and razor-sharp tongue, Ekeocha takes on the abortion ghouls in Hollywood, the BBC, and at the United Nations armed with data and backed by African women who uphold the sanctity of life in word and deed.

Ekeocha uses Twitter and social media masterfully to unmask left-wing cultural imperialism and build a global culture of life.

Brian Bates

An Oklahoma private investigator, Bates’ website on the case of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw’s wrongful convictions ( is a rare challenge to prosecutorial misconduct and crime lab incompetence in the Sooner State.

If not for his work, I would not have embarked on my own continuing investigative journey into a case that represents the worst miscarriage of justice in the criminal justice system that I’ve covered in 25 years.

Stay tuned as many more independent experts and advocates weigh in on the case in 2018 while Holtzclaw fights for his exoneration.

Judicial Watch

The D.C. watchdog foundation is simply the best muckraking giant on the right—shining bright light on the sleazeballs and scam artists in the Beltway swamp.

Tom Fitton and his crew have spent decades fighting against government corruption and misconduct by using the Freedom of Information Act and challenging evaders in court.

Michael Morisy & Mitchell Kotler

These transparency advocates founded MuckRock in 2010 to assist journalists filing public records requests across a complicated landscape of local, state, and federal agencies.

MuckRock tracks the process from start to finish, sends follow-up messages to foot-draggers, and helps crowdsource the results.

I’m not just a fan of their passion project. I’m a regular user of the site, and you can see my Freedom of Information Act requests on MuckRock.

Check out all of my Bulldog Award winners at CRTV’s Michelle Malkin Investigates, and here’s to more effective exposure and hell-raising in 2018. Cheers!

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Invasive New Airport Screenings May Put Privacy at Risk

It’s a Christmas motif almost as ubiquitous as Christmas trees or sleigh bells—families and individuals hastily making their way through airports, balancing presents, bags, and children, excited to make their way home to spend Christmas with their loved ones.

They’re concerned with their flight status, the weather in their destination, their luggage making it to the destination, or the likelihood they will get selected for a random TSA pat-down and any other number of travel-related factors.

But in 2018, there may be another worry to add to that already long list of travel woes.

At some point next year, the Department Homeland Security is hoping to implement mandatory facial scans for all people—American citizens included—who are flying internationally. In fact, they’ve already rolled out this invasive practice in a handful of airports this holiday season.

This new invasion of Americans’ privacy caught the attention of Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., whose own Logan International Airport was one of the airports selected for the rollout. We wrote a letter together to get more information from Homeland Security about this program.

There are a number of issues with this program, including that Homeland Security hasn’t instituted a way to let travelers know that they will be subjected to this scan before they fly.

But more importantly there is no evidence to show that this facial scan actually works. Homeland Security is hoping to use this technology accurately 96 percent of the time. But even at that rate, 1 of 25 travelers would still be misidentified and improperly flagged by Homeland Security.

Additional evidence shows gender and ethnicity increase the likelihood of being improperly flagged.

But perhaps the biggest concern is how the government will use this accumulated data and whether or not Homeland Security is even allowed to collect it in the first place.

As of now, the information is supposedly only shared with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to check for fraud, and then deleted from the Homeland Security database after 14 days.

But in our examination of the program, we have not seen satisfactory safeguards that protect this information from being accessed by third-party groups or that show these protocols are actually being followed.

The Department of Homeland Security is ushering in this program in an attempt to fulfill a congressional mandate that says a biometric exit program needs to be in place for international travelers. However, they have gone beyond this directive as the mandate passed by Congress did not allow for facial scans to be used on American citizens.

For the Department of Homeland Security to do this stands in direct conflict with the Constitution and its Fourth Amendment protection of privacy.

Until the Department of Homeland Security is willing to address these problems and provide myself, Markey, and Congress sufficient evidence to prove the program falls within the constraints of its congressional mandate, Homeland Security should provide American citizens with a timely Christmas present—protecting their rights by not only stopping this program’s expansion, but stopping it’s use entirely.

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Free People Can Take Pride in Churchill’s ‘Darkest Hour’

Can great individuals affect the affairs of man?

If they can, then Winston Churchill is certainly one of the greatest among them.

In many ways, the new movie “Darkest Hour” is the perfect prelude to this summer’s much acclaimed “Dunkirk,” and not just in a literal sense, since “Darkest Hour” takes place just before that desperate battle and cuts off right before it.

The film is a precursor because, in many ways, it gives the audience a much better grasp of the stakes involved in the British army’s desperate fight for survival on a French beach.

Instead of merely showing events unfold at the ground level, “Darkest Hour” focuses on Churchill, the man who led Great Britain to eventual victory in World War II.

It’s about how this man of relentless resolve, almost a caricature of British stubbornness, desperately kept his country in a fight he knew it must win at any cost. This in the face of the collapse of his country’s strongest allies, utter defeat on the battlefields, and defeatism among the ruling class at home.

Actor Gary Oldman does a fantastic job portraying Churchill, and clearly put enormous effort into getting the cadence and rhythm of that great orator’s speeches as perfectly as can be expected.

The movie takes a few liberties with history, including a wholly fake yet moving scene in which Churchill takes the subway and asks the people what he should do about making war or peace with the Nazis.

Yet, overall, “Darkest Hour” does a good job of accurately portraying those heady days of 1940 and giving the audience an appreciation of exactly what the British people and their, yes, heroic leader faced.

This was apparently too much for left-wing sophisticates who must find a reason to grumble about anything resembling flag-waving or an appreciation for the accomplishments of our past.

The New York Times’ chief film reviewer, A.O. Scott, wins the prize for the most obnoxious take on the movie. His conclusion really needs to be quoted at length:

Churchill’s resolve, like the bravery of the soldiers, airmen, and ordinary Britons in ‘Dunkirk,’ is offered not as a rebuke to the current generation, but rather as a sop, an easy and complacent fantasy of Imperial gumption and national unity. Standing up to the Nazis, an undeniably brave and good thing to have done, is treated like a moral check that can be cashed in perpetuity. ‘Darkest Hour’ is proud of its hero, proud of itself and proud to have come down on the right side of history nearly 80 years after the fact. It wants you to share that pride, and to claim a share of it. But we have nothing to be proud of.

There is a lot to unpack in this inane series of utterances, which are perfect examples of the state of the modern left.

For one, the defeat of Nazi Germany and the effort required to annihilate that ghastly regime is treated by the Times’ critic as a kind of mundane inevitability.

You would think it would be good to give a little more credit to those who went far beyond waging a hashtag campaign against “fascists,” and expended real blood, tears, toil, and sweat to defeat one of the most relentless and deadly enemies to freedom in human history.

Progressives are obsessed with pointing out the flaws of Western civilization to the point that many are willing to literally erase politically incorrect figures of the past for even the smallest transgression against the ever-evolving standards of the time. But these same progressives are apparently aghast to think the modern heirs to this Western tradition would pay tribute to and celebrate the clearest example of its strengths and goodness in contrast to obvious evil.

The message is: You British and Americans who live in the freest, most prosperous nations that ever have existed shall feel only shame for your country’s existence and its past. Repent!

Of course, according to these same progressives, you must always, without exception, feel only the deepest pride in whatever sexual or social choice you make if it makes you feel good.

While the film’s director, Joe Wright, appears to be liberal, it’s difficult to turn Churchill into anything but a conservative in the rawest sense. His life is certainly an example of two problematic strains for the modern liberal mind.

First is the very notion that great individuals and leaders can direct the course of men in profound ways.

As the modern academy focuses historical interpretation on societal forces rather than leaders or ideas, it is hard to accept that Churchill may have almost single-handedly changed the direction of human civilization.

In the gloomy days of 1940, as France and the rest of Western Europe teetered on the edge of collapse, the real prospect of the continent staying in the hands of Nazi Germany seemed like an inevitability.

With the Soviet Union still working with Adolf Hitler to carve up free nations, the United States cautiously waiting on the sidelines, and the comparatively small Great Britain appearing to be the only country with the power to resist, it was certainly hard to see a path to victory.

Churchill was one of the few who maintained the belief that that future reality could be changed, and perhaps the only leader who had the skill and imagination to open up a path to victory for the free world.

The left’s second big problem with Churchill is that he was an unabashed defender of the British Empire and what he called “Christian civilization.”

He maintained his Victorian-era sensibility to defend what he saw as the superiority of his people’s way of life over savagery—most notably, in the end, the savagery of Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Churchill’s belief that Hitler was nothing but a brute and a barbarian who couldn’t be reasoned with is what ultimately allowed him to see the menace of what Germany had been becoming long before anyone else. He warned his people and anyone else who would listen that they needed to prepare for war and destroy the Nazis before they became too powerful.

Appeasement of a monster invites attack, and that’s exactly what the British, French, and the rest of Europe got after a decade of trying to do anything to preserve the peace.

“You can’t reason with a tiger when your head is in his mouth,” Oldman’s Churchill belts out as his Cabinet urges him to negotiate peace with Hitler.

For statements like this, Churchill was called a warmonger. Yet it was ultimately pacifism, not bellicosity, that brought on the calamity of war. This is a lesson we must never forget.

The genius of Churchill’s statesmanship is that at the end of the day, he understood the hearts of his foes and his allies. He grasped that unreasonable people can’t be reasoned with. He also had faith and deep patience for those he knew were his nation’s real friends: France and the United States.

Churchill did everything in his power to ensure that the good would stay strong and that evil would be kept at bay; that a single day of liberty would be more worth living than a thousand years of tyranny.

Strength, forbearance, and faith—that is what pulled us through.

This defiance, and the ultimate triumph against a most heinous regime, in the deadliest war in human history, is something we all have a right to be proud of, and cherish, as long as free nations exist.

It’s certainly a good reason to go out and see “Darkest Hour.”

The post Free People Can Take Pride in Churchill’s ‘Darkest Hour’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The Reason the Left Gives Communism a Pass

Before the question, how about a few statistics? The 20th century was mankind’s most brutal century. Roughly 16 million people lost their lives during World War I; about 60 million died during World War II. Wars during the 20th century cost an estimated 71 million to 116 million lives.

The number of war dead pales in comparison with the number of people who lost their lives at the hands of their own governments. The late professor Rudolph J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii documented this tragedy in his book “Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900.” Some of the statistics found in the book have been updated.

The People’s Republic of China tops the list, with 76 million lives lost at the hands of the government from 1949 to 1987. The Soviet Union follows, with 62 million lives lost from 1917 to 1987. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi German government killed 21 million people between 1933 and 1945. Then there are lesser murdering regimes, such as Nationalist China, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, and Mexico.

According to Rummel’s research, the 20th century saw 262 million people’s lives lost at the hands of their own governments.

Hitler’s atrocities are widely recognized, publicized, and condemned. World War II’s conquering nations’ condemnation included denazification and bringing Holocaust perpetrators to trial and punishing them through lengthy sentences and execution. Similar measures were taken to punish Japan’s murderers.

But what about the greatest murderers in mankind’s history—the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong? Some leftists saw these communists as heroes.

W.E.B. Du Bois, writing in the National Guardian in 1953, said, “Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. … The highest proof of his greatness [was that] he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.” Walter Duranty called Stalin “the greatest living statesman” and “a quiet, unobtrusive man.”

There was even leftist admiration for Hitler and fellow fascist Benito Mussolini.

When Hitler came to power in January 1933, George Bernard Shaw described him as “a very remarkable man, a very able man.” President Franklin Roosevelt called the fascist Mussolini “admirable,” and said he was “deeply impressed by what he [had] accomplished.”

In 1972, John Kenneth Galbraith visited Communist China and praised Mao and the Chinese economic system. Michel Oksenberg, President Jimmy Carter’s China expert, complained, “America [is] doomed to decay until radical, even revolutionary, change fundamentally alters the institutions and values.” He urged us to “borrow ideas and solutions” from China.

Harvard University professor John K. Fairbank believed that America could learn much from the Cultural Revolution, saying, “Americans may find in China’s collective life today an ingredient of personal moral concern for one’s neighbor that has a lesson for us all.” By the way, an estimated 2 million people died during China’s Cultural Revolution.

More recent praise for murdering tyrants came from Anita Dunn, President Barack Obama’s acting communications director in 2009, who said, “Two of my favorite political philosophers [are] Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa.”

Recall the campus demonstrations of the 1960s, in which campus radicals, often accompanied by their professors, marched around singing the praises of Mao and waving Mao’s “Little Red Book.” That may explain some of the campus mess today. Some of those campus radicals are now tenured professors and administrators at today’s universities and colleges and K-12 schoolteachers and principals indoctrinating our youth.

Now the question: Why are leftists soft on communism? The reason leftists give communists, the world’s most horrible murderers, a pass is that they sympathize with the chief goal of communism: restricting personal liberty.

In the U.S., the call is for government control over our lives through regulations and taxation. Unfortunately, it matters little whether the Democrats or Republicans have the political power. The march toward greater government control is unabated. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge.

The post The Reason the Left Gives Communism a Pass appeared first on The Daily Signal.