Categories
Commentary

A Shameful Day in America

The parallels between what I saw in Baghdad in 2016 and what happened in Washington, DC Wednesday afternoon are chilling.

I was stationed in Baghdad at the end of April 2016, when Iraqi Shia protestors breached the Green Zone for the first time since it was established after our invasion of Iraq in 2003. I was at the gym when the U.S. Embassy was locked down and everyone was ordered to shelter in nearby buildings. For several hours, no one knew whether the protestors would attempt to storm the embassy. Would this turn into Tehran in 1979

A short time earlier, Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al Sadr held a fiery press conference in the city of Najaf. He gave no orders to his supporters to riot, and in fact he condemned the violence during and after, but on the crowd came, pulling down sections of the concrete walls surrounding the Green Zone and breaking into the Iraqi parliament building. Their grievance was with the Iraqi government and not with us, thankfully, but Iraqi officers with whom I worked repeatedly compared Al Sadr to then candidate Donald Trump. They were downright prophetic.

Listening to President Trump address the crowd in Washington, DC yesterday, then seeing video and photos of protestors breaking into the U.S. Capitol Building and taking selfies in the House chamber brought back strong feelings of déjà vu. In 2016 in Baghdad, panicked lawmakers fled as the crowd rushed in, then Iraqi authorities declared a state of emergency and fired teargas to clear the building. It was nearly beat-for-beat what we witnessed in our own capitol Wednesday afternoon. 

Categories
Commentary

Predictions for 2021

A new year is finally here and most of us can breathe easier knowing we survived 2020. It was a wild ride, with unforeseen events occurring almost every week. Last year I thought impeachment would be the biggest story. Oh, how wrong I was!

I thought it would be fun and interesting to write down some predictions for 2021, then, at the end of the year, go back and see if I was right. Some of these are based on what I actually think will happen, and some are just wild predictions.

I prefer to see 2021 as a winding down period for 2020, meaning that a lot of the crises that arose last year will be resolved this year.

COVID-19 – The vaccines that came out in December will become wildly available and Coronavirus will cease to be a major issue. Infections might still happen, but not nearly in the numbers they have been. In March, I thought predictions for COVID deaths in the hundreds of thousands was wildly pessimistic, but now I’m predicting a final U.S. death toll of at least 500,000. I hope I’m wrong.

Categories
Commentary Video

Tales of Coles County – Why Hidden History?

Referring to events like the Charleston Riot of 1864 and two lynchings, William Henry Perrin, author of The History of Coles County (1879), wrote “Such incidents are better forgotten than perpetuated upon the pages of history.” Do you agree?

My book Tales of Coles County, Illinois, to be released in October 2020, tells the story of the “hidden side” of Coles County history, a side some people feel is better left buried. We might not always be proud of our history, but it’s important to learn about it, and to learn from it. I chose to write about these particular events and places because they’re so little mentioned in history books. It’s that history that needs the most sunlight.

I’m no longer accepting pre-orders because the book has officially been released! Order it today on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and GooglePlay.

Categories
Reviews

No Safe Spaces: Powerful but Incomplete

Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager deliver a powerful rebuke to radical campus activism, but fail to explore its root causes.

I watched Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager’s new documentary No Safe Spaces (2019) in a nearly-sold out theater in Alexandria last night. While it was a decent summery of the latest threats to freedom of speech and expression, and the audience loved it, there were some glaring omissions that left the film feeling incomplete.

If you’ve been paying attention over the past several years, you’ve noticed the rise in political activism on both the right and left has led to some alarming developments, including riots, street clashes, and an effort to “de-platform” opposing views on the Internet. No public space has been at the forefront of this conflict more than college campuses.

No Safe Spaces highlights two of the most dramatic episodes of campus activism and political correctness run amok: Bret Weinstein and the 2017 Evergreen State College riots, and the 2016 riots at California State University that targeted conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro.

Categories
Historic America

American Cornucopia

Food, abundance, and religion have been integral to American culture since the first colonists arrived over 400 years ago.

The intersection of food and religion has long been integral to American culture. It is so ingrained in American life, we publicly celebrate abundance every November on Thanksgiving Day. The image of colonists and indigenous peoples sharing a bountiful harvest reminiscent of the Last Supper is a powerful metaphor for how we view food as a unifying force in society.

When the first colonists arrived they encountered a land of plenty teeming with wildlife. At Plymouth colony in 1621, a storm left the beach covered with piles of lobsters two feet high.  “They were so plentiful and so easily gathered that they were considered fit only for the poor,” Waverley Root and Richard de Rochemont explained in Eating in America. The storm left pools of crabs all along the shores of Virginia.

Commenting on the abundance of fish at Jamestown, Captain John Smith wrote, “we tooke more in owne hour than we could eate in a day.”  The colonists wondered at the size of the salmon, strawberries, and lobsters in the New World, and the Pilgrims, finding the luxury of clams and mussels tempered by their abundance, fed them to their hogs.[1]

With origins in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the act of breaking bread with friends and neighbors had long been ingrained in religious ritual.  So it was a feast the Pilgrims shared with the Wampanoags after their first arduous winter in New England, which eventually inspired the creation of a national holiday, Thanksgiving, centered around the consumption of large quantities of food. 

Categories
Commentary

Trump Support Led to Show’s Cancellation: Roseanne

ABC execs fired Roseanne and canceled her comeback because they were afraid she would humanize Trump voters, she recently told Joe Rogan.

A few days ago, actress and comedian Roseanne Barr appeared on episode #1359 of The Joe Rogan Experience. Amidst an often incoherent and meandering interview, Roseanne and Rogan had an insightful exchange regarding the canceling of the popular continuation of her sitcom Roseanne in March of last year.

Roseanne, in which she played the titular character, Roseanne Conner, originally aired on ABC from 1988 to 1997. Roseanne was a sharp, take-no-prisoners working class mother who appealed to a wide audience in Middle America. The show’s realistic portrayal of blue collar life won a legion of fans, and when it returned to TV in 2018, its two-part premier drew over 25 million viewers. There was only one problem, Roseanne Barr was an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, and so was her character on the show.

Roseanne, who has publicly struggled with mental illness and substance abuse her entire adult life, is no conservative. She grew up with gay siblings, and was one of the first television personalities to feature openly gay characters on her show. She was a member of the Green Party, and in 2012 ran for President as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. Founded in 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party is dedicated to “feminism, socialism, democracy, ecology, and racial equality.”

Categories
Commentary

The Real Cost of Campus Hysteria

Ohio jury awards local business over $33 million after false targeting by outraged college students.

In the 1994 satirical comedy PCU, mobs of angry students run down and protest anyone who offends their cause célèbre at the fictional Port Chester University. Way ahead of its time, the film starring Jeremy Piven and David Spade lampooned the burgeoning movement of “political correctness” on college campuses. Today, we might call these PC warriors “Social Justice Warriors”, or SJWs.

While it’s funny to watch angry mobs of college students chase a hapless pre-frosh through campus in a movie, it’s not so hilarious for the real victims of campus activism. Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio recently learned this lesson the hard way after a jury awarded $44 million to  Gibson’s Food Market and Bakery after students and faculty wrongly targeted them for a protest campaign.

In 2016, the store owner’s son, Allyn Gibson, confronted a student he believed was trying to purchase one bottle of wine with a fake ID and steal two bottles stuffed under his shirt. The student ran from the store and Gibson chased after him. Outside, the report alleged, several more students joined the confrontation and physically assaulted Gibson before fleeing the scene. Three students eventually plead guilty to misdemeanors of aggravated trespassing and attempted theft.