Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced on Monday that migrants caught after crossing the border illegally will no longer be released into the interior of the country to await their immigration court date. If DHS follows through, this would effectively end the practice of catch-and-release and eliminate one of the pull factors driving the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border.
Mr. McAleenan stated:
“DHS will no longer be releasing family units from Border Patrol Stations into the interior. … This is a vital step in restoring the rule of law and integrity to our immigration system.”
More than 811,000 illegal border crossers have been apprehended at the southern border during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, overwhelming Border Patrol officers, the immigration courts and the limited resources that Congress provides. Many have been released into the interior of the United States with notices to appear before an immigration judge at a future date.
President Trump campaigned to end catch-and-release throughout the 2016 campaign. After taking office, one of his first executive orders called for the end of the practice. The executive action — titled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and signed on Jan. 25, 2017 — directed DHS to terminate the program along with other directives on detention and border security.
During the president’s first year in office, border apprehensions were low, so there wasn’t much attention on enforcement. But that all changed in 2018. Both chambers of Congress considered legislation that would have granted amnesty to DACA recipients, and talk of amnesty from Washington always leads to a surge of illegal border crossers.
The number of border apprehensions skyrocketed earlier this year, and under DHS policy, most illegal border crossers who didn’t pose a threat to public safety were released into the interior with a Notice to Appear. But with an immigration court backlog surpassing 1 million cases, it will be years before illegal border crossers appear before an immigration judge, allowing them to disappear into the interior. The administration has to take decisive action.
Ending catch-and-release is intended to complement the Migrant Protection Protocols that require asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claim is adjudicated. DHS says that approximately 10 percent of all illegal border crossers claim asylum at the border. All others would be put into expedited removal proceedings and returned to their home countries.
Expedited removal was created in 1996, when Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Illegal aliens who have been in the country for fewer than 14 days and apprehended within 100 miles of the border can be quickly removed without going before an immigration judge.
Mr. McAleenan’s announcement is a critical step in diminishing the enticements and rewards of illegally entering the United States. Should the administration follow through, and if the new policy survives the legal challenges that are likely to come, it would go a long way in finally ending the border surge and cutting off the dangerous cartels who profit from the trafficking of unauthorized migration.
But there’s more that can be done to end the border crisis and to prevent future surges. Legal loopholes continue to be exploited, leading to fraudulent asylum claims and other abuses. Until Congress makes permanent legislative changes that strengthen the credible fear standard and reform the Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, we’ll continue to see surges along the southern border.
Furthermore, while ending the catch-and-release of most illegal border crossers is a step in the right direction, the fight to fix the country’s broken immigration enforcement system is still far from over.
In addition to closing the loopholes, Congress also needs to end the jobs magnet by requiring all employers to use the E-Verify system, and the administration needs to complete the congressionally-mandated biometric entry-exit system at all ports of entry to better track visa overstays. With those reforms, the federal government can once again earn the trust of the American people and deter most illegal immigration.
• Chris Chmielenski is deputy director of NumbersUSA.
Hong Kong’s democracy protesters may be in for a nasty surprise in the coming months. The mainland Chinese have reportedly designed a sonic weapon that can selectively target individuals or groups in a crowd of demonstrators, leaving them unable to control muscle movement and render them easy pickings for riot police to round up.
The weapon is designed to be non-lethal, and the effects wear off eventually. That non-lethality makes it a perfect tool for controlling the kinds of protests that have driven the Communist hierarchy in Beijing to distraction in recent months.
Although the weapon is popularly described as sonic, it is actually based on “infrasound,” which is essentially the same type of science that surgeons use to break up kidney stones without using invasive surgery. Used on the body as a whole, it creates the same effect on the subject it is used on as a temporary case of cerebral palsy. It will have the effect of breaking up crowds in a non-lethal manner that the Chinese would have liked to have had in at Tiananmen Square three decades ago.
President Xi Jinping is probably not less bloody-minded than his predecessors in the Chinese hierarchy, but they had the home field advantage and could shield their actions from live press coverage of the lethal carnage inflicted on the demonstrators. Beijing does not enjoy that advantage in Hong Kong, where the eyes of the world are watching on a 24-7 basis.
In the mid-’90s of the last century, our Marine Corps was exploring a number of advanced non-lethal technologies as an antidote to the tactic of using women and children as human shields in combat situations that they had experienced in Somalia. The Marines examined infrasound in the the mid-’90s, but the state of the art at the time was omni-directional and animal effects testing merely upset the monkeys. Consequently, the Marine Corps’ experimental personnel put their limited money into other technologies.
After some success with using experimental non-lethal weapons (NLW) in the evacuation of Somalia in 1995, Marine Corps leaders convinced Congress to authorize a Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. That organization concentrated much of its effort on creating a directed energy weapon called the Active Denial System (ADS), which would be very effective in Somalia-like situations. V-MADS has passed extensive human-effects testing.
Humanitarian concerns over the potential misuses of non-lethal weapons by despots has prevented ADS from being employed to date, and that has prevented work on more advanced systems, which could eventually have prevented the loss of civilian lives in situations such as Mosul and towns in Afghanistan and Syria where ISIS deliberately fought among civilians.
The argument made by human rights groups against advanced the NLW was that — in the wrong hands — such weapons could be used to suppress legitimate pro-democracy movements and other forms of dissent. Those of us who argued for including advanced NLW in our military and law-enforcement tool kit pointed out that neither infrasound nor other forms of directed energy systems was rocket science, and that the bad guys would get hold of them eventually.
Our argument was that the adult supervision provided by civilian control of the military and police would allow American forces to use tools short of mass destruction in situations where such action is appropriate. We were right. Malign actors now have the technology. The question now is: Where do we go from here?
Advanced forms of both infrasound and ADS-like technology have the potential to temporarily incapacitate all of the occupants of a structure where combatants and civilians are intermixed, allowing enemy capture and mitigating much of the carnage that we saw in places like Mosul, but the Pentagon is unlikely to spend money on weapons systems that it may not be allowed to use due to political concerns.
Meanwhile, the Chinese will no doubt use what they now have to ensure that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist regime in China goes on without messy pro-democracy demonstrations.
It might be a good time for responsible human rights groups such as the International Committee of the Red Cross to declare a truce with the Pentagon and the defense ministries of other democracies and develop guidelines and protocols for the development and employment of the NLW. This would make the misuse of such weapons by the Chinese and other despots out of bounds of civilized conduct. The non-lethal genie is out of the bottle, but there is still time to set some responsible boundaries.
• Gary Anderson was the chief of staff of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and the first director of the Marine Corps Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities.
Among the ideas that have been floated to address the District’s affordable housing shortage is turning vacant office space into subsidized apartments. Last year, the D.C. Council passed legislation establishing an official task force to examine the issue. After all, the thinking went, at least a tenth of the city’s office footprint—some 13 million square feet—was not being used.
But a new report from the task force finds that “office-to-residential conversions are not the most efficient way to address the city’s pressing housing needs.” While the report says there are some cases where “such conversions are financially responsible, most likely to be Class C and lower-grade office buildings located outside the central employment area,” generally the city’s time and money would be “better spent on other affordable housing … programs.” Class C buildings are considered the poorest-quality, command less rent, and often need upgrades.
D.C. Office of Planning director Andrew Trueblood chaired the 12-member task force, which included a mix of public and private members. He writes the following in the group’s report:
The Task Force found that there are numerous barriers to office-to-residential conversions, which has limited the number of conversions in the District. These include the higher profitability of office space compared to residential use and the spread of office vacancies across buildings resulting in very few completely or nearly-completely vacant office buildings. The Task Force found that in most circumstances, office-to-residential conversions are not the most effective method of addressing the District’s most pressing housing needs. However, lower-grade and Class C office buildings along or near commercial corridors outside of the central employment area may provide for feasible opportunities for conversion to affordable housing. Such conversions could also support the District’s fair housing goals by increasing affordable housing supply in higher opportunity areas. The Task Force found that one of the most impactful policy changes would be to adjust zoning to provide additional density and mixed-use zones in these areas.
The group met monthly from October 2018 through January 2019 and prepared its report in partnership with the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, a District-based organization that frequently provides services for the city, including a recent study that found D.C. lacks family-sized affordable housing. By the end of last year, the District had an 11 percent vacancy rate for privately owned office space—totaling between 13.4 million and 16.9 million square feet—according to the task force. This was lower than the overall rate for the region, 15.4 percent. Two-thirds of D.C.’s vacancies were situated in or near downtown.
Citing research by the Downtown Business Improvement District, the task force also found that only 2 percent of the 1,371 new residential units completed in conversions from 2002 to 2018, or 23 units, were considered affordable. When accounting for under-construction and planned apartments, the group explained, “the District will have only created 393 affordable housing units through office-to-residential conversions out of over 3,800 total housing units, or 10 [percent] — primarily through Inclusionary Zoning,” a city affordable housing program.
The barriers that developers face in office-to-residential conversions, per the report, include economic ones: In most parts of D.C., developers expect to make more income from offices than from multifamily apartments. Furthermore, “there are very few completely or mostly empty office buildings that are not already being repositioned for other purposes, which makes it difficult for a building to move quickly into an office-to-housing conversion,” the report says. Under the current housing code, office buildings present physical challenges to being converted, and owners are also wary of taking on risky projects with little precedent.
“As such, the District government would need to make a policy decision that it is in the public interest to increase the frequency of conversions to produce affordable housing,” concludes the task force. “If the District government decides to pursue such a policy, it would need to directly subsidize office-to-affordable housing conversions to make the projects economically feasible. Th[is] analysis shows that without such subsidies, the District may continue to see small numbers of office-to-residential conversion with very few affordable units.” Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration transmitted the report to the D.C. Council late last week.
Editor’s note: This is the last of a four-part series exploring the need for America to transform from a culture of brokenness to a culture of life.
Our Founding Fathers knew that without the Creator, the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would not be absolute.
As American society moves ever further from God, our culture is increasingly marked by the human brokenness that results from the disintegration of these sacred rights.
Without the Creator, the value of a life depends on its usefulness to those who are stronger, and liberty is curtailed in a thousand ways, including how we spend our money, time and talents — severely limiting our ability to pursue what makes us happy.
As radical leftists continue their attempt to expunge God from our culture, liberty is diminishing with it, including the unalienable right to pursue happiness. Oppressive leftist policies even pervert what it means to “pursue happiness,” replacing the hard work required to realize personal dreams with an empty promise of happiness through instant gratification.
The “pursuit of happiness” involves effort. No one can hand happiness to us: It is something we must work toward.
God created us in His image, with each of us reflecting glimpses of His magnificence. Some are created to be musicians, others writers or teachers. Some have abilities to excel in business, to champion a cause, or are imbued with the gift of hospitality. It is in discovering our own talents, and then developing and using them, that brings deep personal fulfillment.
In other words, we find our greatest happiness when we spend our time pursuing what we were created to do.
Discovering our purpose and doing our best to achieve it is a God-ordained right, and entire nations thrive or vanish depending on if they infringe upon this sacred prerogative.
Any accomplished dancer, welder, chef or nurse will tell you it takes hard work and long hours to develop innate talents in order to exercise them to their fullest potential.
Tragically, that right is infringed when oppressive governments seek to foster a sense of dependency. Far too many Americans have fallen for the allure of the siren song of instant gratification. It’s just so much easier to take the cash and avoid the work required to overcome adversity in order to achieve our dreams. Falling into this trance robs people of much happiness.
It also destroys liberties as the takers gradually become ensnared by the strings that are always attached to easy money.
When governments erect unnecessary barriers that inhibit innovation and creativity, they also rob people of the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Both the fulfillment that comes with personal achievement and the deep satisfaction that comes with trying your best, but failing and having the ability and the guts to try again, are essential to human happiness. Government has a duty to stay out of the way of those who wish to relentlessly pursue their dreams.
When governments play God and restrict the pursuit of happiness through endless regulations and bureaucratic paperwork, they shatter dreams and set people up for failure.
Spirits are crushed, and society suffers from stagnation. Hearts begin to fill with hopelessness, despair and a feeling of “why even bother?” Such negative attitudes affect the fabric of the nation and result in malaise. There is no happiness in that.
Just as policies designed to oppress freedom and limit our potential lead to human misery, so do the policies of those who foolishly believe in liberty absent moral standards established by an omniscient God.
The result is anarchy at worst, and cultural chaos at best. True liberty is only possible when it is ordered by God’s natural law.
It was John Adams who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
This is not to say that every American must be a person of faith in order for our nation to be marked by a culture of life and liberty.
It does mean that if America bans God and his guidance from our institutions, if we prohibit believers to freely practice their faith, if we fail to seek His guidance and protection, then we will suffer the natural consequences of the choices that we have made.
The cure to our cultural ills does not reside in government. America will never conquer the growing cancers of heartbreak, anger and violence with mindless feel-good legislation.
Cultural healing will only come when the people can fully enjoy their rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that is only possible when America is “one nation under God.”
⦁ Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]
A prominent Pakistani activist, whose campaigns to empower girls have won her international awards and recognition, has defied a travel ban and fled to the US.
Gulalai Ismail said she feared for her life after speaking out against sexual violence and disappearances allegedly carried out by the army in north-western Pakistan.
After four months on the run, she succeeded in eluding a vast hunt and has turned up in the US, where she is seeking asylum.
Ismail said she never sought to become an overseas dissident but believes there has been a closing of the political space in Pakistan, where the army has remained the dominant power-broker for most of the country’s history.
“I never wanted to leave Pakistan,” she said in Washington. “I believe that I can better work towards democracy and civil supremacy and peace in Pakistan.”
But she concluded she would be more effective abroad. “If I had ended up in prison and tortured for many years, my voice would have been silenced.”
Ismail said she posed a special threat as a vocal woman. “When a man stands up, he is mostly against the state oppression,” she said. “But when a woman stands up, she is fighting oppression on many levels – fighting cultural norms, fighting the patriarchy and the state oppression.”
Ismail was a teenager when she co-founded Aware Girls in 2002, which promotes gender equality in the deeply conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district.
In 2017, she won the prestigious Anna Politkovskaya award for human rights advocacy. A year earlier, she was honoured for conflict prevention by the Chirac Foundation in France and has been welcomed by Michelle Obama.
But Ismail came under greater scrutiny last year when she spoke in support of the Pashtun Protection Movement, which defends the rights of the Pashtun tribe in the north-west.
Quoting witnesses, Ismail said the army crackdown on Pashtun militants near the border with Afghanistan had led to frequent disappearances and sexual assaults.
Most women were silent on such issues due to stigma, she said, but when a boy told her security forces were barging into his home and harassing his mother, she went to investigate.
Ismail said: “Dozens of women had come to tell us that the incident of sexual harassment was not unique. It is systematic. It had been happening for years.”
She was detained briefly in 2018, but her fears mounted in February when she was taken into custody for two days after attempting to hold a news conference.
Ismail said she was held in a cold, dirty room with a urine-soaked sheet on the ground. She said she was denied food and water, and other female inmates warned against talking to the “high-profile terrorist”.
In May, police filed a complaint against Ismail under an anti-terrorism law after she spoke out about the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.
Ismail declined to discuss how she escaped Pakistan, saying she did not want to put others at risk. Her name was widely circulated to seek her arrest and airport authorities were told not to let her leave.
“There were videos created online by military trolls which were clearly saying that the moment I’m in custody they will teach me a lesson,” she said. “I spoke about the issue of rape – now they will ‘teach me’ what rape is.”
She said security forces attacked her driver and a friend who was handcuffed, beaten and administered electric shocks for 14 hours in an attempt to extract information on her whereabouts.
For now, Ismail is living with her sister in New York. She said her initial fears of being sent back to Pakistan, a historical ally of the US, were eased after she held meetings in Washington at the state department and with staff of US lawmakers.
But she remains worried about her parents in Pakistan. Ismail said they had become isolated with security forces interrogating anyone who dares to even text them.
“I wanted to speak freely and that’s why I’m here,” Ismail said. “However, when it comes to the future of Pakistan, I do not see a prosperous Pakistan until the military establishment decides it needs to go back to its barracks.”
Scott Morrison has used a visit to Nasa on Saturday local time to unveil a $150m investment in Australian businesses and new technology to support the American space agency launch expeditions to the moon and to Mars.
The Australian prime minister on his second day in the American capital visited Nasa, and also laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. Morrison visited the graves of Australian military personnel and visit the tomb of The Unknown Soldier.
Later in the day, the prime minister visited Bunker Labs and met entrepreneurs working with war veterans before attending a tree planting ceremony at the official residence of the Australian ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey.
In a statement ahead of Saturday’s program, Morrison said the $150m commitment over five years would see the Australian Space Agency “foster the new ideas and hi-tech skilled jobs that will make Australian businesses a partner of choice to fit out Nasa missions”.
“The government’s support means Australian businesses and researchers will have the opportunity to showcase their immense knowledge and capabilities in projects that can support Nasa’s Moon to Mars mission, such as Project Artemis and the Lunar Gateway”.
“The Australian Space Agency will work closely with Nasa to identify how they can best support their missions after the signing of a joint statement of intent on expanding cooperation”.
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Asked on Friday in the Oval Office to outline how America and Australia could work together to develop the space program, Donald Trump claimed credit for reviving the sector. “We’re doing a great program,” the president said.
“We have a tremendous space program. If you look at our facilities, they were virtually closed up. There was crabgrass growing on the runways and now they’re vital.
“And you know, we’re … going to Mars. We’re stopping at the moon. The moon is actually a launching pad. That’s why we’re stopping at the moon.
“I said, ‘Hey, we’ve done the moon. That’s not so exciting.’ They said, ‘No, sir. It’s a launching pad for Mars.’ So we’ll be doing the moon. But we’ll really be doing Mars. And we’ll be – we’re making tremendous progress”.
Morrison has been feted and challenged in equal measure during his opening stint in the American capital.
During his program at the White House on Friday, Trump declared China was a threat to the world “in a sense” and raised the spectre of Australia joining a coalition of military action against Iran, before characterising Morrison as a “man of titanium”.
The Australian prime minister dined with his American host in the Rose Garden at a state dinner on Friday night.
Morrison will leave Washington DC for Ohio on Sunday local time. Trump will accompany him on a side visit to a new Australian-owned paper recycling mill in Ohio owned by the billionaire box maker Anthony Pratt, and later fly to Chicago before heading to the United Nations in New York next week.
Scott Morrison has made his first visit to the United States as prime minister. It was a trip that included a close encounter with the unpredictability of the Trump White House, a foreign policy pivot, and a backlash about a lack of climate policy action. Guardian Australia’s political editor, Katharine Murphy, travelled, with the prime minister. Here is what she witnessed:
We’ve been positioned at the White House since 5am, watching the sun creep over the American capital. Security is as laborious as you’d expect. Dogs sniff bags, then the secret service guys have a good look, passports are collected, checked and returned, White House passes and pins are distributed, and then at last we clear the metal detectors. Eventually we make it to the press briefing room, the small blue one, famous through several presidential administrations but now abandoned by Donald Trump. The modest proportions don’t fit his presidency. Now it’s just a transit zone.
We are greeted by a blond woman in a broad-brimmed hat. June, a self-described southern belle, is receiving visitors in the briefing room, although it’s not clear why. She identifies herself as a fellow scribe working for Christian radio and television in Nashville. When she’s not reporting on the Trump White House, she’s rallying Christians for the president. This seems something of a line cross for a reporter with White House press accreditation – but we’ve been on the premises for about 10 minutes and it’s clear that we’re not in Kansas any more.
On the other side of the building, visitors are streaming across the South Lawn to grab prime positions to witness The Donald receiving The Scott at the official welcome. Flags, American and Australian, are held aloft on a glorious summery day. Eventually we are permitted to wander down to the lawn as well.
The Donald’s grass is lush and slightly dewy, making me regret my choice of footwear. The daylight is now dazzling but the bucolic scene is disturbed by Austin rebuking Steve in the media pen. The confrontation happens just before the splendidly peppy pipe band strides across the lawn for the ceremonial welcome.
I’ve never met Austin before this moment but he looks about 30, buttoned down and watchful as a raptor – a White House wrangler who looks as though he hasn’t sat down, eaten anything apart from a protein bar, or slept more than four hours straight a night since early infancy. Steve has transgressed and Austin convenes a short, sharp show trial in front of me. I’ve nabbed a prime position on the fence in the media pen right in front of the entrance, and I don’t intend to move unless the secret service guy standing beside me gets feisty.
“You left the media area to make a call,” Austin says, voice appropriately low so as not to disdain the Wonderful Occasion swelling around us. Steve is older than his accuser and possesses the rumpled look of a longtime print or news wire reporter. I’ve never seen Steve before either, but he’s clearly part of the White House press pool and looks like a man disinclined to small talk. My guess, from my quick scan of the body language, the suppressed inner sigh, is that Steve has seen a number of Austins in his reporting lifetime, perhaps a small production line of them, and is not much gripped by this power play.
Steve says nothing. Austin persists. In a minute we are going to go full Veep. “The secret service told me you left the media area to make a call – is this correct?” Steve, at the end of his tolerance for J’Accuse now, delivers his mic drop. “Yah,” he says. “One of the secret service guys held back the rope so I could get out to make the call. I needed to take the call.” I suspect Austin doesn’t really know where to take this from here. The aide returns to the front of the fence, shoulders back, eyes front. It’s showtime.
Trump strides out of the White House with Melania. From my vantage point they look like a pair of Easter Island statues. This is my first encounter with the current leader of the free world and my curiosity is intense. How will Trump look uncut?
Will he look how he does on television, with that weird affect – the pursed lips, narrowed eyes and nose and chin set to an upward inflection, indicative of defiance and displeasure? Or is this a posture he adopts only after he pulls on the presidential onesie every day and heads for Fox News, purring “ready for my close-up Mr DeMille”?
I discover this is how Trump looks all the time, or at least all the time he is in open space. He’s striding to the podium with exactly that look, with Melania, who is a dignified presence yet strangely devoid of life force. Perhaps she laughs and sings and dances in her track pants like no one is watching in her private domain but, in public, Mrs Trump looks like a perfectly proportioned doll in a doll’s house.
Over the next little while, Trump will lavish praise on Melania for her crack presidential spouse skills. The first lady, Trump reports over and over during the course of Friday, “worked so hard” on the table settings for the state dinner, pondering every detail. The flowers, the centrepieces, so wonderful, so beautiful. The best table decorations anyone has ever seen.
It’s hard for me to imagine the reality of the first lady’s life, what it must be like to agonise over centrepieces for state dinners amid the sound and fury of her husband’s bitterly contested presidency. Given her reserved public presence, it feels like an impertinence to wonder.
There’s no time for whimsy in any case, because the Morrisons are now on the premises, ready for their induction into the Trumpiverse. In comparison with the Trumps, Scott and Jenny Morrison, from the Sutherland shire, Australia – more latterly of Kirribilli House – look like a well-to-do couple from the suburbs. They are earthed in this big moment, respectful of the tradition they are now associated with, the tradition of Washington’s special friends being drawn to the nation’s bosom.
Presumably they are buzzing with anticipation and anxiety, given that the unofficial White House weather forecast for Friday is clear skies, a light breeze and a high probability of catastrophic cyclone once their delegation reaches the Oval Office. Looking normal in this environment takes some doing, but the Morrisons manage.
The troops march, and are duly inspected; the visitors clutch their flags, which flutter gaily in the breeze. The anthems are played. The two couples appear content with each other and the scripted remarks they share with each other and the crowd. Just before the conclusion of the formalities, Austin is back working the fence line to move us, lickety split, to the holding pen outside the Oval Office. Fortunately, the war with Steve seems to have subsided.
I wash up near Steve and the other White House wire reporters. One of the group explains to me that Steve is the man if they want to get a question to the president. Trump will answer Steve. It’s unclear why that’s the case, and I don’t ask.
She also gives us tremendously helpful advice: Trump will be on for a rave when we get in there. We are surprised by this. Our assumption was we’d be in and out in a matter of minutes. Our river guide shakes her head. Trump, she says, is in an expansive frame of mind. Best we prepare some questions. She also predicts that Trump will struggle to understand our accents. If he doesn’t understand, the president will say: “Say it.” This means ask the question again, she says.
I assume this is some sort of weird in-joke until I hear Trump do just that. “Say it,” Trump says, narrowing his eyes and curling his lip. It’s utterly peculiar, but it’s an earworm. Once you hear it, it’s hard to get the locution out of your brain. Say it.
The door of the Oval Office swings open and we are thrust into pure madness. The media scrum feeds off the static electricity in the room. It heaves like a wave. Our questions crash on the shore. Thud, thud, thud. Mr President. The Americans in the pool want to know about Joe Biden and the Ukraine controversy – a story that will spiral towards impeachment during the week of our visit.
No American journalist gives a crap about Australia, and Morrison, and the second state visit to Washington of this febrile presidency. Fun fact: Emmanuel Macron, back when he imagined he had a talent for Trump whispering, was the first to be afforded the honour. But who cares? Conventions are devalued in the coarseness of politics in 2019. No one pretends to care. Everyone just has to emerge with what they need.
Once we realise this is going to be nuts – a small blazing blitzkrieg at the seat of American power with no rules of engagement – Australian reporters also start hurling questions across a range of topics. Trump looks delighted by the disorder. It’s where he thrives. Morrison shifts in his seat.
The president lays into the media. We are hopeless, finished, friendless. But Mr President, what about the call? Did you speak to Ukraine’s new president? It was a beautiful call. Next question. Say it.
The Morrisons sit tight as the stiff westerly blows. The prime minister isn’t visibly alarmed but he’s hyper alert. Jenny Morrison composes her face into a placid mask – until Trump suddenly raises the spectre of nuclear weapons and Iran. I catch her eye at that moment and she startles, ever so slightly. Her eyes, to me, say “help me”. I catch Morrison’s eye a couple of times and the corners of his mouth crinkle.
I am a spectator at this circus but the prime minister isn’t permitted the luxury of distancing. Morrison is a peer of the president, a leader of a respectable middle power who has chosen, as the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd puts it with just the right squeeze of lemon during our visit, “to play ball with the Mad King” – to give friendless Donald a friend.
The prime minister, unlike us, enjoys the benefit of knowing what Trump really thinks on a range of fronts; he has that baseline to keep him tethered through the rhetorical turbulence. But back in the nosebleed seats we lack those insights. During our 33 minutes in the Oval Office, Australian journalists are on a rollercoaster, hanging upside down, while the president indulges a dialogue with himself about whether to launch a military strike against Iran, or whether restraint is the better course. He lands eventually at restraint but the disorientation is so profound it takes me a while to process that’s where we’ve landed.
Eventually Trump stops feeling all the feelings and we are herded out. I ask one of my fellow travelling reporters whether the president just raised the prospect of nuclear attack, because I fear the sleep deprivation might be messing with my cognition. He’s as knocked around as I am. Yes, he thinks so, but he needs to listen to the recording. TV reporters are wondering out loud how on earth they are going to distil what just happened into a package. How do you do this in a minute and a half?
At the height of my disorientation, I spot Paul Murray from Sky’s Fox News lite after-dark crew at the back of the room. As we are guided out, Morrison beckons Murray forward and introduces him to the president. This introduction yields an exclusive interview with Trump which includes the simpering question: “What do you want to say to your many Australian supporters who wish you nothing but the best in November 2020?” I suppose it could have been what was his favourite colour.
Paul Murray gets his exclusive with @realDonaldTrump but talk about not asking the hard questions. pic.twitter.com/5QnxMW5cHh
September 20, 2019
The madness persists. The day ends with wranglers trying to facilitate some access to the state dinner, which is al fresco, in the Rose Garden. As we are herded through the South Lawn accompanied by the lilt of violins serenading guests and the murmur of clinking glassware and small talk, a secret service guy in night goggles, with foliage in his helmet, suddenly materialises from the bushes and sprints across in front of us.
Shortly after this our White House wrangler declares this walk off the record, which generates considerable confusion among the scribes. How can a walk to a pool position be off the record? Which bit is off the record? This walk never happened? How do we explain our capacity to bear witness to events at the state dinner? Did we parachute in?
We resolve not to overthink this and press on, and eventually get close enough to see the guests drifting around the Rose Garden: the Australian billionaire box maker Anthony Pratt is hard to miss with his shock of orange hair; the younger Murdochs are there, Lachlan and Sarah, I reckon I’ve spotted the mining magnates Twiggy Forrest and the generally reclusive Gina Rinehart, who appears to be floating. I rub my eyes, fearing a fancy. Perhaps Rinehart is not floating, more likely I’m swaying, peering through a large shrub, sleep deprived and smacking the mosquitos that threaten my ankles, questioning my life choices.
I see Rinehart again the next day, floating (she is definitely wafting like a cloud, because I know I’m no longer swaying) into a soiree at the Australian ambassador Joe Hockey’s residence, in a white dress with sequins and what appear to be pom poms trailing at the back. Morrison’s old chief of staff and new department head, Phil Gaetjens, by contrast, is wandering around in a Wallabies rugby jersey with cut-off sleeves.
While the grandees mingle, Rinehart sets up court with her entourage in a shaded corner of the garden on what looks like a sedan chair, but is actually just a garden settee. The visual cue is Ms Rinehart is receiving guests, as long as they are not journalists. The media mogul Kerry Stokes is also said to be mingling but I don’t clap eyes on him.
In Hockey’s garden I strike up a conversation with an expatriate pub owner who is now the mayor of Annapolis and is campaigning to tighten gun control. Gavin Buckley, formerly from Western Australia, is an avuncular Democrat at a Republican knees-up, a fish out of water who can’t quite believe his luck. Buckley tells me he hugged Hockey for the great honour bestowed upon him.
The whole scene is F Scott Fitzgerald meets the pre-woke capitalism of the 1980s, and the humidity is sending us all bonkers. Servers hand out party pies and sausages with disturbing names like cheese and Vegemite, and bald men in linen sports jackets compete for shade. One of our travelling media pack then proceeds to conduct a mock interview of a new magnolia tree which has just been planted to celebrate the Morrison state visit. With the Magnolia, this is Brett Mason, SBS News. It’s a joke, hijinks to help us stay alert when we are hitting that hour of the day when jetlag threatens to take your legs out. But we’ve crossed the sense barrier and we haven’t even hit the Trump rally. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s a voyage with billionaires, this American excursion with Morrison. I confess that this is new territory for me. The cashed-up and politically connected drifted past us during the pomp and circumstance in Washington, and now we are closing in on Anthony Pratt as we speed to Wapakoneta, first airborne and then jammed in Morrison’s motorcade with police cars racing past, sirens blaring, to stop traffic on the freeway.
Morrison, who will be thriving on all this hard work and energised by the thought that he might be called upon to pull things back from the brink, is upbeat during a quick amble down the back of the plane. He wonders what we have made of the Oval Office. “Two words,” I shoot back. “How good?”
The gaggle of Morrison staff tumbling in and out of black vans in the motorcades, and standing glassy eyed at midnight in hotel foyers, clutching their phones and wondering what day it is, look in reasonable shape despite the fact that most of them won’t have slept much. Team Morrison and senior bureaucrats drift in and out of our orbit, leaving us mostly in the hands of a crack team of departmental minders. These officials, particularly the logistics people, are always the unsung heroes of these trips. The wranglers on this trip are outstanding. The pace is punishing – at times it feels like early in the Kevin Rudd era. The transitions are down to the second and there are no screw-ups, at least none that are visible to us.
One of Morrison’s press secretaries, Nick Creevey, has joined us for the sprint to Wapakoneta on the commandeered Dayton school bus. We’re all practising the pronunciation of Wapakoneta. Wah-pa, Christ, how do you spell this bloody place again? Katina Curtis, the meticulously prepared Australian Associated Press reporter, is patient with the spelling drills. Hey Katina. How do you spell …
There are few female journalists on this trip, and overseas voyages, in my experience, tend to take on an Aussie barbecue dimension. This is a generalisation but, as generalisations go, not an unfair one. Male correspondents largely herd together, socialise together, crack jokes together, reinforce one another’s insights, and women run on a parallel track. It’s a strange dynamic at times; stranger because the blokes who engage in the behaviour would be entirely unconscious that’s what’s happening. It’s just custom, or muscle memory. Hashtag road trip. Hashtag dudes.
Dayton to Wapakoneta is flat and rural. The billboards we pass are a combination of fast food temptations and Jesus Christ, saving the born and unborn. I’m both fascinated to learn what we are driving into and mildly apprehensive, given that Trump rallies can be hostile to the media covering them, and hackles in the base must be raised by the latest mainstream media pursuit over Trump and Ukraine. The president loves a persecution narrative with him at the centre of it – it fuels the righteous rage of his supporters. Everyone can be aggrieved together.
Nobody in the PM’s entourage expresses any apprehension at all about Ohio, not even a hint of it. But my instinct suggests they are also worried about the unknown. There are risks in the look of this thing. Should Morrison really be at a Trump rally (even though the Ohio event is more complicated than a 2020 campaign whistle stop with Morrison attached). Apart from the possibility of any bizarre, indefensible off-piste business, there is also the risk of Trump banging on and on and on. It is entirely possible scheduled remarks at the opening of a box factory could stretch into a Castroesque monologue that kills our logistics stone dead. Morrison’s crew had expected the Oval Office encounter to last for a few minutes and instead it stretched, putting them behind for the remainder of the day.
I filed a column describing our arrival into Wapakoneta and the rapturous welcome the locals gave Trump, but there were some other memorable moments behind the scenes. When Trump and his entourage finally blow in to town in a blaze of police sirens and secret service agents, we are reunited with the same White House press pool we met on Friday outside the Oval, grinding through another event. I clock Steve in the distance, kicking on.
Trump engages Pratt the minute he’s in the factory. The two billionaires exchange lavish compliments as they amble towards the gaggle of reporters. Presumably the box maker is explaining recycling to Trump as they go. Rubbish in, box out, cash in.
The president then tracks towards where the journalists are corralled behind the fence, straining to get an iPhone snap for Twitter. He’s looking for Steve, the Trump whisperer, because he’s got exciting information to share. “So that’s 100% recycled paper into a really, fine finished product,” the president enthuses on the fence line. “It’s really amazing, Steve. They start off with …” Trump pauses delicately … “can I use the word ‘garbage’?”
Pratt is entirely comfortable with the word. Pratt Industries, Ohio, is proudly euphemism-free. Trump picks up the story: “They start off with waste, garbage, and they end up building it into a – making it into really great cardboard and paper.”
“A hundred per cent of the plant”. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never seen Steve before these couple of brief encounters, he is a complete stranger to me, and what follows is pure speculation, but I’m going to hazard a guess that he knows what recycling is. I reckon Steve does know about it.
Trump is another story. Possibly this impromptu recycling-for-dummies tutorial is just the president being performatively didactic, or perhaps he is inoculating himself from cable TV hysterics who might associate reuse with One World Government. Or perhaps this is the first time in his life he’s encountered recycling.
Trump continues to roll this newfangled Pratt magic around in his mind, and engage journalists enthusiastically along the fence line. “That’s really some equipment. The finest equipment in the world. And more and more people are going this way.
“Normally, you take down trees and you make the paper. In this case, Anthony does 90, 95% out of waste, out of garbage, and they make incredible final product through a very – through really a very – a really costly but efficient process.” He could be describing the interface between tycoons and politicians but let’s not be caustic or labour the metaphor. We need to continue with our story.
Emboldened by this level of engagement from the president, one of the Australian journalists calls out: “Do you want more businessmen like Mr Pratt, Mr President?”. Trump is confused. Say it. (Implied, not stated: louder visiting freak, take two.) Say it.
“Do you want more businessmen like Mr Pratt to invest in America like he has?” Trump narrows his eyes. “Yeah, well, we have some good ones. But this man is number one in Australia, they say.” Number one of course, being the highest Trump accolade. That and apex predator.
Pratt returns the favour before we leave America. He tells the Australian newspaper Trump is going to win in the 2020 election. Lest this just appear guesswork, or another shovel load of obsequiousness, history shows that Pratt has a sharp eye. In the last presidential contest the billionaire box maker bet $100,000 on Trump to win against Hillary Clinton.
Asked whether he’d make the same bet again, Pratt reports that he’s raised the stakes. There is now $2bn on the table – investments in new paper operations in the US. “I told the president we want to continue to invest and fulfil our pledge,” Pratt tells the paper. “It was very gracious of him to come to our Ohio plant opening. I was fortunate to spend some time with him. He was as gracious as ever.”
Gracious indeed. As another wealthy entrepreneur, Malcolm Turnbull, was once fond of saying. What. A. Time. To. Be. Alive.
By the time we roll out of Chicago – a whistle stop characterised by a serious foreign policy pivot from Morrison, and an unfortunate photo opportunity in front of a McDonald’s smart board that built a visual bridge to Engadine for people familiar with the infamous internet meme (let’s just leave it at that) – and on to New York, the drumbeat is cacophonous, literally and figuratively.
It is leader’s week at the UN general assembly, and the area around the headquarters is locked down. The streets teem with protesters and delegates, and groups of Africans gather on Forty-fourth Street to drum and sing. The UNgeneral assembly circus drives New Yorkers bonkers, the streets are gridlocked and the eateries overflow, but the vibrancy of it is quite wonderful: the convivial murmur of languages on the east side of Midtown, the colour and style of the clothing, the downing of late-night whiskey amid animated conversation.
Trump declares theatrically, with Nancy Pelosi closing in, during his address to the UN national assembly, that this is the time for patriots, not globalists. It’s a soundbite crafted for Breitbart or Fox News, potent with his rusted-ons, but a hollow slogan in the world of facts and evidence. Did I miss the bit of history where globalisation became optional? For what it’s worth, New York categorically ignores him. On the streets, in the stores, in the financial district, globalisation prevails. It’s not even a contest.
Beyond the literal, the figurative drumbeat is for Trump. Impeachment is closing in on the president. Some commentators say he looked subdued at the UN, which would be a rare lapse in self-confidence. The mood at the start of the week in Washington was come and get me suckers. But I’m out of the presidential orbit now so I have no first-hand observation to report.
Morrison, comprehensively overshadowed by movements in the tectonic plates of the major powers, ploughs on diligently with his UN program and seems unperturbed by the misfortune of his two mates, Boris Johnson and Trump, hitting some serious turbulence. If the prime minister had any regrets about taking hospitality from Trump and aligning Australia’s diplomatic language precisely with the president on some thorny geopolitical issues, he certainly didn’t show it.
A certain defensiveness did creep in on climate change, though. Morrison wasn’t cranky but there were persistent pesky questions from the travelling media about Australia’s lack of policy ambition, and about his decision not to attend the UN climate summit on Monday. Even Trump called by. Why didn’t Morrison? There was the sound of prime ministerial teeth being gritted.
Interestingly, Morrison’s speech to the UN general assembly, which was billed initially as being an address about practical environmentalism, not climate change, drifted back into climate. There was a significant chunk defending his government’s policies, and some umbrage at the media for feeding false narratives – not fake news, mind you, but stoking prejudicial sentiment.
In New York we meet our final billionaire, Mike Cannon-Brookes. The final piece of my triptych, the next gen mover and shaker, moves in different circles to Pratt and Rinehart. MCB didn’t make the cut for the state dinner at the White House, evidently, but he made a bit of a splash at the UN.
The Atlassian founder went to the climate summit to commit his company to a target of net zero emissions by no later than 2050. Cannon-Brookes nudged Morrison on Twitter: “Please give us a future we can believe in tomorrow. Inspire us. Lead us. Don’t bullshit us. I’m happy to help, as are millions of Aussies.”
I meet Cannon-Brookes at the Flower Shop, a hipster bar on the Lower East Side. His minders invited us down for a beverage. Most of my colleagues are punctual but I’m late, because the traffic is terrible, and the bearded tech entrepreneur lobs late as well. There is an overwhelming smell of weed that eddies through the bar as we settle in, which I stress is not connected to anyone in our group or Atlassian’s.
I don’t know who is responsible for this licentiousness and don’t intend to investigate, frankly – but it’s surreal, meeting a thirty-something billionaire in a bar as the bookend of this bonkers week, and having the bar reek of marijuana – that I find it hard to stop laughing at the unlikeliness of it all. It caps off the Through the Looking Glass sensation of the US odyssey.
The evening is convivial and, unsurprisingly, there is much impassioned talk about climate change and energy policy and a fair sprinkling of acronyms – a bunch of Aussies jousting good naturedly about the future of the planet in a bar in Manhattan. I leave Cannon-Brookes downstairs shooting pool with a few stayers, settling in to welcome the dawn, and head uptown, clearing my head by walking up Forty-fifth Street as the dumpster trucks and the street sweepers move into high gear for the pre-dawn cleanse.
I engage a cop at a checkpoint just to make sure I haven’t veered wildly off course in a desperate bid for oxygen. “The Roosevelt is just up here,” I inquire, “right?” The cop smiles and sips his coffee. “I’m from Brooklyn, m’am.”
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Marchers at “The Million Moe March,” in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 19, who came to rally around the sustainability of District of Columbia culture, particularly celebrating GoGo music.
Marchers at “The Million Moe March,” in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 19, who came to rally around the sustainability of District of Columbia culture, particularly celebrating GoGo music. (Courtesy Photo by Darnell Smith, @Viva_Ventura)
The “climate change” movement is full of hypocrites:
• Politicians who fly in private jets but tell the rest of us to consider a world without planes.
• Movie stars advocating that we ditch our vehicles when their idea of mass transit is a stretch limo.
• Activists preaching that America has to cripple our economy while posting on their iPhones made in China.
• Candidates telling us we have to give up meat while helping grill 10,500 steaks in Iowa.
There is plenty of hypocrisy to go with all of their hype. But what about the hype?
As Aaron Rodgers would say, “R-E-L-A-X.” The world is not going to end in 12 years.
Remember all of the times former Vice President Al Gore predicted doom and gloom? “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr. [Wieslaw] Maslowski that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years,” said Mr. Gore on Dec. 14, 2009. But it did not happen. In 2014 and 2015, there was more arctic sea ice than in the previous years. Mr. Gore was as wrong as he is a hypocrite.
Around the time Mr. Gore won an Oscar for the best documentary feature, the Associated Press reported that Mr. Gore’s mansion in Nashville used more than 12 times the average amount of energy for a home in that area. That was his own inconvenient truth.
A decade later and Mr. Gore was still a hypocrite. He told Jake Tapper on CNN, “I live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible.”
An analysis by the National Center for Public Policy Research at the time found that Mr. Gore’s mansion used more electricity in one month than the average family uses in 34 months. It noted that just the electricity used to heat the pool could power six homes for a year.
All of this after he installed new “green” updates. Ironically, the report says that Mr. Gore’s home used more electricity in 2016 than it did in 2007.
Mr. Gore claims to “live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible,” really come from purchasing “carbon offsets” for the carbon dioxide related to the home. The report says that he pays $432 a month into a Green Power Switch program that helps fund renewable energy projects.
Carbon offsets are really a way for rich liberals to claim that they are helping fight climate change without changing their lifestyle. It is the modern-day selling of indulgences. The elites can pay the “high church of climate change activism” for the benefit of being forgiven for their sins of having a large carbon footprint while the masses have to change their lifestyles — all while still getting stuck with the bill.
Worst of all, there are many politicians who want to do things that will cripple our economy when the biggest threat actually comes from countries like China. A report in Power Engineering claims that China would add “290 GW of new coal-fired capacity this year — that is more than 10 percent higher than the entire U.S. existing coal-fired generation fleet of about 261 GW.”
There are many better solutions to preserving our natural resources that do not put America at a competitive disadvantage for little or no global impact:
Plant more trees. A 25 percent increase in the forested areas throughout the world has the potential to cut the atmospheric carbon pool by about 25 percent, according to a study released earlier this year.
Use more nuclear energy. Unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants, nuclear reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating. Plus, nuclear power plants already generate nearly 20 percent of the electricity in the United States and they operate over 90 percent of the time versus hydroelectric systems (under 40 percent), wind turbines (less than 35 percent) or solar (about 25 percent).
Conserve energy. One of the best ways to be green is to make green or save green. In other words, if you can make money or save money, it is truly sustainable – both economically as well as environmentally.
These ideas could be part of a Green Real Deal instead of the so-called Green New Deal. As reported, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff exposed the fraud saying that “the interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.”
Saikat Chakrabarti went on to say to the governor of Washington, “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” In a weird sort of way, Ms. Chakrabarti did more to expose the hypocrisy of the Green New Deal than anyone on the right.
Think about that the next time you see a climate change protest on the news.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.
If you had asked an everyday American 50 years ago to describe what they thought when hearing the word “censorship,” you might have gotten a description of an overzealous bureaucrat grinning as he prepared to erase the next political opponent from the morning newspaper. Today, you’ll hear about college administrators working from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices, using intimidation, tricks and managerial red tape to silence students.
While the latter is a painful and accurate description of what countless college students face every day, the truth is that the consequences of higher education’s fatal romance with censorship runs far deeper than left vs. right — and beyond graduation day.
An example of this is Jones County Junior College, located in the deeply conservative small town of Ellisville, Mississippi. Earlier this month, former student Mike Brown (an activist with Young Americans for Liberty’s National Fight for Free Speech campaign) sued the college after being dragged into the office of the campus police chief, who told Mr. Brown that he “should have been smarter” than to express his First Amendment rights without following the school’s procedures.
The “Assemblies Regulations” section of the school’s student handbook requires that students obtain “administrative approval” and wait for a minimum of three days before “gathering for any purpose” on campus.
The act that prompted the administration to take action against Mr. Brown was that of simply gathering and talking with other students about criminal justice reform — an issue of wide-reaching importance to the world outside of academia. “Some people get in trouble for smoking weed, but at Jones College, I got in trouble just for trying to talk about it,” Mr. Brown said following the incident. “College is for cultivating thought and learning and encouraging civil discourse … That’s not what’s happening at Jones College.”
With more than a half a million Americans incarcerated for drug-related offenses and more than $47 billion being spent every year in the war on drugs, issues like this are exactly what we should be encouraging young people to talk about. The students we educate today will be the ones tackling these issues tomorrow, but stripping them of the opportunity to have these conversations only robs society of the solutions that might one day come from them.
Unfortunately, abuses like this are far too common. In September 2016, at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich., three activists were arrested by campus police and thrown in jail for handing out pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitutions on a public walkway. Drew Hutchinson, the school’s manager of student life, justified the action against the students by asserting that he simply wanted to “protect” them.
Setting aside the clearly dubious line of reasoning from Mr. Hutchinson, more than enough reason remains for outrage at how these students were treated. The Constitution is the very document that guarantees the right of every American (regardless of personal background or political affiliation) to gather, speak and worship publicly and peacefully; the Founding Fathers never said a word about “permission slips,” “waiting periods” or “free speech zones.”
Nevertheless, it simply isn’t possible to discuss the long-term impact of censorship in higher education without addressing its influence on the political identity of America’s youth. On nearly any given day, one can easily find a new outpouring of impassioned students decrying the Orwellianization of American academia.
With self-described “liberal” professors outnumbering their conservative colleagues by a margin of 12 to one, the idea that post-secondary education has become a mint for the mass conversion of apathetic college students into ardent leftists seems considerably less far-fetched.
According to a Harris poll from March 2019, 73.6 percent of millennials and Generation Z want government-provided “universal health care,” 67.1 percent believe “the government should provide tuition-free college” and 49.6 percent would “prefer to live in a socialist country.” Compare this with a 2018 study conducted at Smith College (a private women’s liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts) that found that 81 percent of students now believe that “words can be a form of violence,” and the picture gets even gloomier for supporters of free speech.
Like most tough questions, however, answers may be found in history. With regard to freedom of speech, the civil rights movement of the 1960s is no exception. On April 3, 1968, in the last speech he would ever give, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a vigorous defense of the First Amendment, declaring that “the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”
But imagine if the people of Memphis, Tennessee — and the entire world — had been kept from hearing what King had to say. Imagine if the Jim Crow racists had been able to simply silence him and the other leaders of the civil rights movement by throwing them in jail (as they did many times) or fighting to keep their ideas out of the minds of college students. Is it even possible to imagine how different the world would be today?
While history will look upon King with gratitude, admiration and respect, the failures of higher education to uphold the First Amendment will be recognized as cowardly and misguided. Every opportunity we take from a young person to explore a new idea (or even consider an old one differently) is not only an offense against the student themselves, but an injustice to the very society that they will soon inherit.
Only by fostering a culture of open, civil discourse will we bridge the divide splitting our nation. The first step to every form of social progress is, and always will be, freedom of speech.
• Cliff Maloney is the president of Young Americans for Liberty.