Defying Supreme Court, Colleges Fight To Preserve Race-Based Admissions

Newsweek – Last week, the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, passed a resolution declaring that the prominent state school “shall not unlawfully discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status in its admissions, hiring and contracting.”

If you think UNC sounds like it just lost a high-profile lawsuit, you would be correct. In June, UNC was a losing co-defendant in the landmark Supreme Court case banning race-based college admissions. The case combined two separate lawsuits, against UNC and Harvard University, arguing that the practice violates constitutionally guaranteed equal protections. The Court agreed, but Chief Justice John Roberts added the caveat that a school could still consider “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

If compliance with the law of the land is resounding in Chapel Hill, other institutions are doubling down on their commitment to race-based “diversity.” Some were seeking ways to get around the Supreme Court’s ruling before it even came down. In April, Shannon Gundy, then the assistant vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maryland and now its director of undergraduate admissions, assured a session of the American Council on Education’s annual meeting that “our intention is to be ready to hit the ground running when the decisions are released” and to “educate” secondary students, school counselors, and teachers writing recommendation letters to emphasize race “in a holistic fashion when a student is telling you about themselves and how their race has impacted them.” In these statements, Gundy appeared to suggest that diversity bureaucrats are preparing to find new and more creative ways to solicit racial information from applicants and, possibly, to continue offering admission on that basis.

Gundy may wish to consult her university’s general counsel about the legal meaning of intent, but some observers have suggested that ideologically committed institutions may simply ignore the Supreme Court ruling in hope that the time and expense of civil litigation will dissuade critics from taking legal action. Others believe the admissions process will become more opaque, allowing institutions to avoid legal liability by hiding or disguising the use of race in their considerations.

The latter tactic seems to be on the drawing board at Massachusetts’ Mount Holyoke College. Newly installed president Danielle R. Holley, a black female legal academic described on the college’s website as “an expert on diversity in the legal profession and higher education,” told the New York Times that admissions “will have to” become more opaque. Holley even mused about a possible new application question along the lines of “One of the core values of Mount Holyoke College is diversity of all kinds. Please tell us why you value it, and what you think you bring to the Mount Holyoke community in terms of diversity.” Naturally, such a question would invite minority candidates to signal their race to Mount Holyoke admissions officials, who could then make de facto race-based decisions without leaving evidence that race was a factor.

Holley’s potential chicanery matches the approach already employed by Johns Hopkins University, where applicants for Fall 2024 are newly prompted to submit a “supplemental essay” to “tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual.” Tellingly, race is listed first, and responses are limited to a bare 300 words, suggesting that this new exercise’s true purpose is to allow minority applicants to signal their race to admissions personnel who may react sympathetically but without creating firm evidence that they used race as an admissions factor.

Harvard, UNC’s losing co-defendant in the Supreme Court case, is somewhat more circumspect, but seized directly onto Roberts’ escape clause when it announced “the Court also ruled that colleges and universities may consider in admissions decisions ‘an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.’ We will certainly comply with the Court’s decision.” An uncharitable reading of Harvard’s statement might lead one to the conclusion that the university intends to continue relying on race in admissions, albeit carefully and quietly.

Sarah Lawrence College, also quoting Roberts, invites applicants to “describe how you believe your goals for a college education might be impacted, influenced, or affected by the Court’s decision.” It is hard to imagine many black or Hispanic applicants to that far-left private college respond in a way that won’t inform its admissions officials of their race or ask them not to take it into account.

Not all elite schools are so careful, however. Last month, Columbia University Law School announced that all of its Fall 2024 applicants would be required to submit a 90-second video statement “to provide the Admissions Committee with additional insight into their personal strengths.” Many critics, including current Columbia law students, suspected that the video element was merely a way to view the physical appearance, and thus adduce the race, of applicants who could just as easily have written such a statement or taken more than a minute and a half to discuss their “personal strengths.” When the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news site, called out Columbia on the issue, the university almost immediately backed down, claiming that the video requirement was “inadvertently listed on the Law School’s website and has since been corrected.”

If the Supreme Court’s decision has not marked the categorical end of race in college admissions, the Columbia incident offers the best path forward. Bringing to light the apparent willingness to skirt the law was enough to get the school to change its practices. College administrators live in fear of adverse publicity and legal challenges. Americans concerned with fairness in college admissions should give them more of both.

Give Me Pizza, or Give Me Death!

New York City goes to war with its traditional pizzerias.

City Journal – “They just don’t want people to be happy,” said Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis over a slice of authentic New York City pizza last month. “They,” in this case, were officials in New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, who had recently proposed a regulation that could cost the city’s traditional pizzerias considerable dough.

The proposed rule requires establishments that use coal- and wood-fired ovens to install new air-filtration systems. The ostensible reason is to reduce what the department describes as “harmful pollutants” by 75 percent. The systems cost about $20,000 per unit, require a city-approved feasibility study, and need regular maintenance once installed.

Department spokesman Ted Timbers called the proposal a “common-sense rule” and noted that it was developed in consultation with “restaurant and environmental justice groups”—not exactly the people most of us would care to have dictate our dietary options. Hardship cases among the 100 or so affected pizzerias may qualify for a waiver from the city government. Failure to comply could result in the closure of offending establishments. The department claims that the proposed rule, which must receive public comment before final approval, is consistent with Local Law 38, a carbon emissions-reduction ordinance the city passed in 2015 but delayed in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some pizzeria owners have grumbled that the rule is too burdensome or worse, that the new air-filtrations systems will alter the taste of their iconic pizza. Two attorneys with an interest in the matter have formed a New York City Pizza Alliance to resist the rule, which they describe as “a concerted effort to undermine and suppress the coal and wood-fired pizza business,” while a Republican city councilman claims that he is seeking a compromise.

Other opponents are more confrontational. The day after the regulation was announced, conservative artist and New York City native Scott LoBaido tossed 48 slices of pizza at City Hall, declaiming “Give us pizza, or give us death!” LoBaido added: “Destroying small business—that’s what this city keeps doing.”

The numbers suggest that LoBaido has a point. New York City leads the nation in business closures, with some 26,000 having disappeared between March 2020 and April 2022. Larger corporations still based in New York have instituted potentially permanent work-from-home policies or relocated personnel to places with friendlier tax, regulatory, or cost-of-living profiles. About half of New York’s commercial real estate remains vacant. But many small businesses, including pizzerias, don’t have the luxury of leaving town.

“This city was the greatest city—and the reason it’s not anymore is because the people who vote for the same garbage over and over again,” LoBaido said in a television interview. He was referring to his own dashed hopes that Mayor Eric Adams would be an improvement over his unpopular predecessor Bill de Blasio.

“We don’t want to hurt business in the city and we don’t want to hurt the environment,” Adams has said, though apparently, he expects small businesses to suffer for the sake of the environment. Virtue-signaling and the political contributions of the environmental lobby far outweigh the interests of a few dozen overburdened pizzerias. And going after pizzerias is much easier than solving the city’s more pressing problems, including rampant crime, which was up 30 percent in most categories in 2022.

Nevertheless, when food is at stake, New Yorkers are capable of rising up from their political apathy. In 2012, when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on serving sweetened drinks in volumes over 16 ounces (with the city health board’s unanimous approval), the measure was immediately taken to court. After more than a year trying to fend off legal challenges, Bloomberg lost, and New Yorkers went back to ordering their Big Gulps.

In 2019, New York sought to ban foie gras, reportedly at the insistence of a radical animal rights organization that had contributed heavily to de Blasio’s reelection campaign. The same group had previously waged a successful eight-year legal battle to ban elephants and other large animals from New York circuses. After two years of litigation, however, the foie gras foes also failed in court, having inspired a diverse opposition, including upstate farmers, downtown restaurateurs, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, and even the French consulate.

The power of the city’s meddling class is strong, but as long as New Yorkers love their pizza, no one should assume that this battle is over.

A Symposium on Legacy Admissions

Hey Hey, Ho Ho! Legacy Admissions Has Got to Go!

National Association of ScholarsEditor’s Note: The National Association of Scholars has begun a symposium on legacy admissions. Legacy admissions has become a political issue in the wake of the SFFA v. Harvard decision. It has become so in good measure due to tactical polemic by supporters of race discrimination, who wrongly seek to create a moral equivalence between race discrimination and legacy admissions, and who equally wrongly seek to use legacy admissions to substantiate their claims that America and its colleges and universities are “systemically racist.” Yet even though legacy admissions is not racially discriminatory, it is subject to a variety of other critiques and defenses—where NAS members and staff appear to be split in their judgments about the value of legacy admissions.

Precisely because of this split, we thought it would be useful to publish a symposium on the subject during the coming months.

We encourage NAS members and staff—and, indeed, any interested reader—to contribute to this symposium. Please contact David Randall (randall@nas.org) and/or Neetu Arnold (arnold@nas.org) if you would like to submit a contribution.

Our next essay is by Paul du Quenoy, president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute.

Immediately after the Supreme Court outlawed racial preferences in higher education admissions, aggrieved leftists, and more than a few conservatives, raised hackles about legacy admissions. Some 75 percent of Americans oppose the practice. Both conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, in a concurring opinion, and liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her dissent, objected to legacy admissions as an unfair advantage that may benefit whites over minorities.

Other observers maintain that scrapping legacy admissions could compensate for the loss in racial diversity that will likely result from the Supreme Court’s ruling. The nonprofit organization Lawyers for Civil Rights is currently handling a complaint filed by three Boston-area black and Hispanic organizations against Harvard University, arguing that its legacy admissions practices unfairly benefit white students and, therefore, violate federal civil rights law. The Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Civil Rights, which normally takes months to respond to such complaints, speedily announced that it will investigate Harvard’s legacy admissions for racial bias. A negative finding would likely compel Harvard, and other schools, to abandon the practice or potentially lose all federal funding.

Administrative intervention may prove unnecessary. Within days of the ED’s announcement, congressional Democrats introduced legislation to outlaw legacy admissions regardless of investigative findings.

The racial argument is sophistic and amounts to little more than leftist grievance against the Supreme Court’s ruling. Logically, it requires us to believe that the same admissions officials who used race as a criterion with which to discriminate against whites were simultaneously using legacy status as a criterion with which to discriminate in favor of whites. The numbers are also suspect. The complaint before the ED claims that 70 percent of Harvard legacy admits are white, but that proportion is not much greater than that of the country’s white population or, still less, of the white population that applies to elite institutions. On their face, the complainants’ own statistics appear to refute their discrimination claims.

Legacies also account for only about ten to fifteen percent of students at elite schools, whereas minorities are often overrepresented due to now unlawful racial preferences. Notably, the Democrats’ draft legislation to outlaw legacy admissions exempts historically black colleges and universities, indicating that its sponsors consider the issue a matter of race rather than fairness.

As recent studies have shown, the major factor that lends an advantage in elite admissions is family wealth, regardless of race. Supporters of legacy admissions implicitly admit this by arguing that the legacy system allows schools to foster a sense of loyalty—defined, above all else, by raising money—among families with historic ties to them. Naturally, the legacy families who participate in any serious way are rich legacy families, not poor or middle-class ones. Similarly, defenders of legacy admissions argue that legacy applicants are well prepared for elite schools and generally rise to academic expectations once enrolled. But if that’s true—and we do know that intelligence is largely hereditary and that talent often runs in families—the resounding counterargument holds that legacy applicants should be able to win admission on their own, without benefiting from de facto affirmative action.

Nevertheless, legacy admissions offers one uniquely unfair advantage—to elite institutions themselves. For alumni, the prospect of their children or other young relatives “getting in” motivates the most impressive range of kowtowing in what we otherwise imagine to be a democratic society. This sycophancy can take all manner of forms: humiliating and often disingenuous professions of “school spirit,” exaggerated but highly marketable rituals of thanksgiving, uncompensated time and effort in outreach and other alumni “service” programs, immense but often unwarranted personal flattery of university administrators, generous donations to support ever-expanding budgets and endowments, and even bribery facilitated by crooked admissions professionals or those with access to them. In 2019, an FBI investigation of just one individual’s fraudulent admissions network resulted in felony guilty pleas from 51 defendants implicated in over $25 million that illegally changed hands on behalf of 33 applicants.

Even in the bizarre universe of millennial dating, it is not unknown for aspiring partners to advertise the college they attended, not merely for its own sake but as a signal of what opportunities the potential couple’s children might expect. A comely Southern belle who once informed me that she had three close family connections to Vanderbilt thus drew a certain conclusion when I told her my mother went there. We will likely never know how many unvarnished quid pro quo admissions deals happen behind closed doors, but no one seriously disputes that they do happen, often to the benefit of legacy applicants.

Perhaps best of all for elite schools, legacy admissions induces paralyzing fear among alumni who will resist saying anything that might appear critical of their alma maters. If, to take a recent example from the University of Chicago, a school offers a class whose title describes being white as a “problem,” alumni with kids in the admissions pipeline can be counted on to say nothing outside the proverbial smoky kitchen, and, indeed, none have. A number of Ivy League alumni with legacy sons have confided cocktail-party misgivings to me about abuses of Title IX, the enforcement of which explicitly denies due process. But never in a million years would they publicly object, even over the suppression of basic constitutional rights that could affect their boys in truly horrible and unjust ways. To their everlasting shame, the promise of passing down a piece of paper with a prestigious school’s name on it outweighs liberty itself.

In recent years, a spate of controversial firings, well-publicized campus free speech violations, polls documenting pervasive on-campus fear of expressing disfavored opinions, and illiberal outrages against free inquiry have failed to result in even one significant alumni-based movement challenging the status quo. Even conservative alumni will keep their mouths shut if it spares Little Katelyn from having to settle for a lesser school than Stanford, where her parents’ hefty tuition payments may be welcome while their values are reviled. Again, the elite school’s diploma is simply too valuable to risk over something as paltry as our basic freedoms.

Not even serious fiduciary responsibility can persuade these alumni. Paul S. Levy, a University of Pennsylvania alumnus who, in 2018, resigned from Penn’s board of trustees over the school’s controversial treatment of law professor Amy Wax, remains the only elite university trustee ever to have spoken out. “Several Penn Trustees called me to say how much they admired my principled stand in defense of Amy Wax,” Levy told me recently, “but when asked if they could help fight for her basic right to free speech, they demurred saying ‘I’d love to, but my kids (or grandkids) will be applying, and I don’t want to rock the boat.’ … Such is the way of the spineless in failing in their fiduciary duties.”

Elite university administrators are well aware of the immense power they wield through legacy admissions, even, as Levy’s experience suggests, over the very people charged with governing them and their institutions. Despite the legacy “advantage,” it helps their malign cause that the admissions process remains fundamentally uncertain. Legacy status might be “a factor” in the admission of alumni children to highly selective universities, but there is no guarantee that it alone will secure a place. Stories abound of multigenerational Ivy League families whose kids are rejected despite generous gifts and faultless performative gestures, usually with little or no explanation offered or sought. Like a Pavlovian experiment in behavioral psychology, the possibility of great reward, complicated by an element of randomness, guarantees slavish alumni compliance and near-absolute immunity from alumni criticism, no matter how poorly run, ideologically extreme, educationally impoverished, or absurdly expensive many elite institutions really are.

As the father of a “double-legacy” eight-year-old who could expect legacy admission to Georgetown University (and other institutions as an ordinary legacy candidate) if the current system lasts another decade, this pressure is palpable and has caused much reflection. I do not, however, believe that remaining silent is the right course, either for my son or for American higher education. In recent years, I have publicly criticized Georgetown in major media outlets and in direct communications when I believed its behavior was unethical or immoral. There may now be a big red “X” next to my unusual family name in some admissions office database, but I would be happier if my son were admitted to the school of his choice on his own merits in a free and open society rather than to a deeply flawed institution because his parents happened to attend long before and compliantly turned a blind eye to error and injustice. I would also hope he is wise enough to identify and enroll at the institution that best matches his interests and talents rather than fall victim to the crushing anxiety that has tortured generations of promising teenagers and aspirational parents who allow the whims of slimy admissions middlemen to determine their self-worth.

Abolishing legacy admissions would be a strong step forward in ending our national psychodrama over higher education. Alumni parents would be free to criticize their alma maters and those who run them without the fear, guilt, and shame of jeopardizing the advantage of legacy status. They and their alumni children would have greater freedom to explore options across schools, without the anxiety-inducing expectation that the right school for their great-grandfathers must be the right school for them. Best of all, abolishing legacy admissions would force elite colleges and universities to rely less on emotion, loyalty, and money extorted from eager alumni and their children and attract top students responsibly and respectably. Otherwise, whether the applicant is a tenth-generation Boston Brahmin with a family history inseparable from Harvard or a second-generation legacy who hopes to benefit from a parent’s personal success, it is the same rigged game. And as in any rigged game, the best way to win is not to play.

Jason Aldean’s Values are American Values

Newsweek – “For me,” tweeted conservative country singer Jason Aldean last week, his hit song “Try That in a Small Town” “refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief.” Aldean’s song, which was released as a single in May, came under attack earlier this month when its music video dropped.

Leftist critics have assailed Aldean’s song as racist because the video uses violent images from the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, events that the Left falsely hailed as a “mostly peaceful” continuation of the proud legacy of the civil rights movement. The video also shows images of the American flag in flames over the backdrop of a Tennessee courthouse that is frequently used as a generic small-town background for film and television productions, but that also happened to be the site of a lynching nearly a century ago.

As the song’s title suggests, its lyrics include repeated assurances that people who commit acts of violence against fellow citizens and police officers in America’s small towns will not get away with it. Although neither the video nor the text make any reference to any race, the Left has assailed these assurances as racist, revealing that for all its preachy rhetoric about diversity, equity, and inclusion it at least subliminally equates minorities with criminality.

Other critics have castigated Aldean’s song as “pro-violence” because it includes a line questioning the government’s ability to confiscate a gun that the song’s narrator inherited from his grandfather. From these talking points, other commentators have built the shaky argument that Aldean is not merely a racist, but a “fascist” indulging in fantasies of “white retribution” and “vigilante justice” to rile up his fans. The American Right, in response, now champions the song and Aldean himself as patriotic and praiseworthy for defending law and order.

True to form, the Left has employed all means at its disposal to try to “cancel” the song and its creator. Within hours of the first complaints, Country Music Television removed the music video from its programming. Music services iTunes and YouTube Music, however, reported it as their number-one and number-two song, respectively, within a matter of days, with Spotify recording access by millions of users.

Regardless of how one interprets “Try That in a Small Town,” its messages overwhelmingly align with American attitudes toward crime, guns, and patriotism. Like the small-town residents Aldean sings about, most Americans cite crime as a major concern. A March 2023 Gallup poll found more than 80 percent of respondents worry “a great deal” or “fair amount” about crime, up from 70 percent in 2014. Those who worry a “great deal” now comprise a majority of 54 percent.

Perhaps ironically, concern about crime is less prevalent in small towns—likely because of the values Aldean’s song expresses. Nationally, 58 percent of urban residents were in Gallup’s “great deal” category last year, compared to 51 percent of those who live in rural areas. According to a Siena College Research Institute poll released this month, some 61 percent of New York state residents fear they will be a crime victim in the near future. That figure rises to 70 percent when the polled sample is limited to New York City. The same poll found that nearly one in six New York City residents has been a victim of physical assault or robbery in the past year, while 46 percent have witnessed violent or threatening behavior toward others during the same period. Some 41 percent of New Yorkers say they have “never been this worried about their personal safety.”

These fears are justified. Since 2020, crime has skyrocketed nationwide as a result of anti-police measures and refusals to prosecute a wide range of offenses in the name of social or racial justice. In the first half of 2023, most major Democrat-controlled cities experienced rising crime rates. Earlier this month, Washington DC’s city council passed emergency legislation to reduce major crimes, which have increased by 30 percent this year, including a 117 percent increase in carjackings. San Francisco’s homicide rate surged 83 percent in the first quarter of 2023. In Chicago, major crimes were up 61 percent in the first three months of the year.

Aldean’s song also reflects American views of gun ownership. While most Americans say they favor some gun control measures, albeit by smaller margins than in recent years, the number who favor outright bans of basic firearms—such as the grandfather’s gun in Aldean’s song—are vanishingly small and getting smaller. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, only 14 percent of independents favor an outright ban on handguns, down from 30 percent in 2019. Just six percent of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats agree. Even in New York City, which boasts some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country and votes more than 85 percent Democratic, the Siena poll found that 17 percent of residents reported purchasing a firearm for self-defense in the past year.

The flag, too, continues to command American loyalties. A 2022 YouGov poll reported that 70 percent of Americans consider flying the national flag to be patriotic, while 76 percent consider themselves to be “very” or “somewhat” patriotic, with the “verys” at 45 percent.

To quote another country anthem embraced by the American Right, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” a July 2023 study found that 89 percent of Americans are “extremely,” “very,” or “moderately” “proud to be an American,” with the “extremelys” making up the largest group at 39 percent. Jason Aldean is one of them, and declared so to raucous cheers at a concert performance in Ohio last Friday. He should ignore the small minority of loud but bitter malcontents who disagree and keep singing his song.

San Francisco Harbinger of Democratic Horrors to Come

Newsweek – Earlier this month, President Joe Biden held a reelection campaign rally in San Francisco.

For a campaign that has already suffered numerous gaffes and scandals, and will likely suffer more, the choice of locale sent a powerful message.

As a recent visit revealed to me, the City by the Bay is absolutely as bad as everyone says.

The downtown area, stretching down historic Market Street from the City Hall to bayside Embarcadero, is gutted, with 47% of businesses in the city having closed their doors since 2020.

There and in the surrounding neighborhoods, commercial storefronts are almost all empty except for the occasional liquor store.

After nightfall, the sidewalks were crowded by groups of homeless people living in makeshift encampments. Most looked like they were on drugs and/or severely mentally ill.

A 26-year old tech executive friend who tolerates the city but, like many young people, is looking to move, calls his fellow residents in this category “zombie people.”

The number of people in his age group living in the city has fallen 21% since April 2020, while the number of San Franciscans in their 30s fell by 13% in the same period.

Office attendance is hovering at about 45% of capacity.

The only people walking with purpose appeared to be selling drugs or women.

The ground was covered with all manner of filth. Being around it felt less safe than in any American city before urban governments adopted policies advocated by Black Lives Matter, which are now the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and anyone who aspires to leadership in it.

On the night I arrived, nine people were shot in a gang incident despite strict gun control laws that almost totally outlaw private gun ownership.

In the first quarter of 2023, the city’s murder rate was up a staggering 83% over the same period last year.

This year’s victims included prominent tech CEO Bob Lee, who was stabbed to death in the once-posh Mission district.

Entrepreneur Elon Musk, whose Twitter headquarters sits precariously on Market Street, has publicly stated that many people he personally knows have been violently assaulted.

Mind you, this is nearly one year after the radical progressive city district attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled by a majority vote in arguably the most leftist municipality in America.

Last month, however, Boudin was appointed executive director of the University of California Berkeley Law School’s new Criminal Law and Justice Center, suggesting that patterns of law enforcement and prosecution are unlikely to change anytime soon.

The massive downtown Hilton — one of the largest hotels in the world and a convention mecca for decades — was “abandoned” in early June, after Hilton’s parent company declared itself unable to make any more mortgage payments due to the severe urban decline.

AT&T has announced that it will withdraw from its city flagship store in the nearby Union Square area.

The Westfield shopping mall, Cinemark Holdings, Nordstrom, T-Mobile, Old Navy and numerous other retailers are also joining the exodus this year, building on the departure of 22 well known retail brands in 2022. In Westfield’s case, it is abandoning $558 million in financing.

The Four Seasons Residences property that opened in the formerly fashionable South of Market area two years ago has reportedly sold only 13 out of 146 units because nobody of means wants to live anywhere near there.

At the same time, every major public building, Grace Cathedral, the remaining big league hotels, and other surviving businesses are all flying multiple versions of the LGBTQ flag, huge posters with BLM slogans, and other propaganda talking about diversity, inclusion, belonging, and, ironically, “safety.”

The steps leading up to Grace Cathedral are painted in rainbow colors, suggesting not merely the de rigueur “inclusivity,” but a symbolic message that salvation may be through DEI alone.

“We saw people defecating on the street. We saw people using heroin, we saw people smoking crack cocaine,” said Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis on a recent visit, “the wreckage is really sad to see.”

Indeed it is, but San Francisco’s atomizing and impoverishing anarcho-tyranny is unfortunately how the president of the United States and almost anyone of importance in his political party would prefer for you to live.

Florida is doing just fine, thank you.

Florida Politics – Miami has displaced New York and San Francisco as the nation’s priciest real estate market.

On July 14, just three days after Washington, D.C.’s City Council passed emergency legislation to address a worrisome 33% spike in major crimes in the nation’s capital, The Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin vented her frustration in a scathing attack on Florida.

Calling our state the place where “empathy, decency and kindness go to die,” she warned that a supposed “MAGA war on diversity and tolerance might be impacting the state in other ways.”

Specifically, she singled out Florida’s recent population figures, which she incredibly claimed showed more people moving out of our state than moving in.

In a landmark case of bad journalism, Rubin appears to have reached that conclusion by reversing the actual data to match her biased viewpoint. Over the weekend, The Post revised her piece and issued a correction notice, but not until after Rubin’s misinformation reached millions of readers, received thousands of comments, and was reported as Gospel truth by multiple other news outlets.

Rubin has yet to issue any apology or explanation, either in The Post or on her Twitter account, where her article was flagged for inaccuracy and supplemented with multiple links to more reliable sources containing the correct data. Among them is the U.S. Census Bureau, which indisputably shows Florida enjoying the greatest net population increase of any U.S. state from July 2021 to July 2022. Even before new multitudes arrived in those 12 months — sometimes at a rate of a thousand people per day and usually with a blue state horror story to tell — the 2020 Census had already recorded a significant population increase to win Florida a new Congressional seat.

Contrary to Rubin’s misleading claims, the mass migration is not confined to older retirees but includes every age demographic except Generation Z, 18-to-24-year-olds whose slight net out-migration of about 8,000 individuals is easily explained by nationwide college attendance, which directly overlaps with their age group.

Even so, the same study Rubin cites shows net increases in Zoomers migrating to some Florida cities, where opportunity, safety, and prosperity successfully compete with whatever blue states now offer, emergency crime bills notwithstanding.

Direct migration from New York, the largest supplier of new Florida residents, increased by 4.6% in 2022 over 2021, even as the COVID-19 pandemic receded. As New York City Mayor Eric Adams has lamented, a disproportionately large number of new Floridians are fed up former New Yorkers whose energy, spending and taxes no longer support his fading metropolis. If we Floridians lack “empathy, decency, and kindness,” it’s definitely not keeping people away.

Rubin’s article also cautioned about the possible effect of conservative policies on our state’s business environment. Her paltry evidence is a recent report that six conventions canceled reservations in Democrat-controlled Broward County due to Florida’s purportedly “divisive political climate.”

For a more accurate picture, Rubin may wish to consult the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which shows Florida’s GDP growing at 3.5% from the last quarter of 2022 through the first quarter of 2023, nearly twice the national average and about three times that of New York, California and the District of Columbia. The economies of Florida and just five other mostly red states — Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas — now exceed the value of all New England and mid-Atlantic states combined.

The IRS backs up this data, reporting the movement of $100 billion in adjusted gross income to the right-leaning Sunbelt, opposite a $60 billion loss in AGI for the almost uniformly blue Northeast. Florida alone now enjoys a budget surplus of $21.8 billion, enough to pay off state debt, reduce taxes and fees, maintain the nation’s most generous college savings plan and, as of July 1, provide about $8,600 in school vouchers to every child residing in our state, regardless of parental income.

Florida’s Chamber of Commerce estimates that the state has added some 487,000 jobs over pre-pandemic levels and will add another 250,000 in 2023.

Tourism vaulted 6.7% in the first three months of this year, translating into 37.9 million visitors — the largest quarterly number Florida has ever received.

Suppose there is a “MAGA war on diversity and tolerance” in our state. In that case, it sure isn’t stopping it from attracting unprecedented amounts of revenue from people all over the world or from investing it in our increasingly diverse population.

Ironically, the major complaint of the small number of people who choose to leave Florida is that overcrowding, high demand for real estate and localized inflation — symptoms of our state’s runaway prosperity — have made it more expensive and difficult to navigate.

Miami has displaced New York and San Francisco as the nation’s priciest real estate market. Our once under-enrolled private schools now rival Manhattan’s for exclusivity.

Our public institutions are now free from the illiberal scourge of DEI.

Even our worsening traffic jams are full of cars that used to have New York and California license plates, and often still do as more refugees from those failing states arrive to find better lives.

Quite simply, far more people want to be here than not, and the basic laws of economics reflect that desire. If this displeases Rubin, no one is forcing her to visit. However, many of her media colleagues have been spotted enjoying our sunshine even while criticizing our superior way of life.

She might, however, take responsibility for spreading what even her own paper regards as misinformation and stop writing fake news.

 

Charticle on Palm Beach Freedom Institute

ChartCharityArt.com / Chart – Palm Beach Freedom Institute, founded by PBFI President Paul du Quenoy and lawyer Robert Allen in 2021, is standing up for civil rights and the principles of the American Founding. Like-minded supporters have found the grass-roots organization and its power and influence has grown exponentially in a few short years. This innovative dynamic group of passionate freedom-lovers is continuously supporting efforts to maintain Constitutional freedoms for citizens in Palm Beach, the United States and internationally. PBFI creatively ties into local organizations such as the Palm Beach Symphony by sponsoring a composer of a freedom-themed symphonic overture to be performed at the opening night of the symphony’s 50th Anniversary season on Nov. 19, 2023.

Stop Defending Yourselves, New Yorkers!

The city prosecutes another case of subway self-defense.

City Journal – You may have heard of the latest installment in New York City’s new fad—arresting people for defending themselves and others against violent criminals on the city’s decrepit subway system.

Last week, while riding a northbound J train through once-posh Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 20-year-old Jordan Williams and his girlfriend were accosted by Devictor Ouedraogo, a 36-year-old ex-con who had served three and a half years in prison for an attempted robbery. After completing his term, Ouedraogo was released to the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), suggesting that he is or was an illegal immigrant.

According to eyewitnesses, Ouedraogo was verbally and physically harassing other passengers in the subway car before approaching Williams and his girlfriend, who remains unnamed and has not commented on the incident. After Ouedraogo propositioned his girlfriend, Williams verbally warned him to back off. Ouedraogo allegedly responded by punching both Williams and his girlfriend in the face.

In what sounds like a legal exercise of the right to self-defense under New York law, Williams then reportedly rose to protect himself, his girlfriend, and others from Ouedraogo, who fought back. During the altercation, Williams pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed Ouedraogo, who stumbled out of the subway at the next stop. He received medical attention but later died at a hospital. As with Jordan Neely, the homeless drug addict with a criminal record who died after being restrained in a chokehold by Daniel Penny last month, no autopsy of Ouedraogo has been released, fanning speculation that the results could indicate serious drug abuse.

Williams and his girlfriend continued their subway ride, but NYPD officers apprehended them at a station down the line shortly afterward. Williams was arrested and charged with manslaughter and “criminal possession of a weapon.” (Knives are forbidden on city transit, though this has not stopped knife incidents from increasing 126 percent over last year.)

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office wanted Williams held at Riker’s Island on $100,000 bail, an impossible sum for him and his family to pay, but last Thursday a judge released him from custody without bail, in part because his employment record at FedEx suggested that he was neither a career criminal nor a flight risk. Unfortunately, FedEx fired Williams the next day, showing little interest in the facts of the case or in now-quaint notions about the presumption of innocence.

While Williams faced potential pretrial detention, his mother April created an appeal on the donor-funded Christian website GiveSendGo for his legal expenses. This appeal was similar to one created for Penny, who was required to pay bail and faces prosecution for manslaughter as well as a civil wrongful-death lawsuit from Neely’s relatives. The appeal has raised more than $100,000, mostly in small donations from people around the country outraged by Williams’s arrest.

You won’t hear much about Williams’s case in the mainstream media. Why? While Penny’s case was a rare occurrence of a white man accused of killing a black man, the confrontation between Williams and Ouedraogo, both black, was just one of innumerable cases of black-on-black violence. As such, it could not be of less interest to the liberals who appear to care only about crime reports that implicate “oppressors” victimizing the “oppressed.”

Unlike with the Neely case, no outcry ensued from leading politicians and media personalities denouncing Ouedraogo’s killing as a “murder.” Social media didn’t celebrate Ouedraogo as a warm character or lionize him as a martyr to racial justice. No protests have marked his death. No one has come forward to claim monetary damages stemming from his loss. No suggestion has been made that he be buried in a casket of ivory and gold, as Neely was. No op-eds have mused on the incident as damning evidence of “toxic masculinity,” a quality only ascribed to white males, despite disastrous minority crime rates that none dare mention.

Williams’s family has suggested that the only commonality between the two cases is that they both happened on the subway. Yet both appear by all available evidence to be straightforward cases of self-defense by brave young men now being prosecuted by left-wing district attorneys. New Yorkers should vote out every public official who thinks so little of their rights and dignity.

Prosecuting Donald Trump Only Makes Him More Popular

Newsweek – “The only good thing about it is that it’s driving my poll numbers way up,” said former president Donald J. Trump in a speech last Saturday to the Georgia Republican Party convention. There, and in a similar speech to the North Carolina GOP a few hours later, Trump was rapturously greeted as he framed his federal indictment as the latest installment in a political witch hunt that’s been underway since he declared his first presidential candidacy in 2015.

Even as liberal and Never Trumper Republican pundits gleefully calculated the number of years the former president could spend behind bars if convicted, the second indictment has merely done what all Trump’s previous legal woes have: make him stronger. Over the weekend, a straw poll conducted by the Western Conservative Summit, an annual gathering in Colorado, gave Trump a five-point lead over his closest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who had led Trump in the same contest in each of the two previous years. According to a CBS/YouGov poll taken after the indictment and released on Sunday, Trump commands the support of 61 percent of likely Republican primary voters, enjoying a crushing 38-point lead over DeSantis. No other candidate for the GOP nomination held the support of more than four percent of likely GOP voters.

Earlier this year, Trump’s lead over DeSantis, who only declared his candidacy in May, averaged around 17 points in a collection of polls published at RealClearPolitics. After the former president’s indictment on weak charges by New York County district attorney Alvin L. Bragg in March, his lead rose to around 30 points, while a finding of civil liability for sexual battery and defamation in a lawsuit secretly funded by a major Democratic donor made no dent in his ratings.

Trump’s improved ratings are consistent with the pattern set by past impeachments, which implicated the president in far more serious possible crimes than storing documents from his administration at his private residence and discussing with counsel what to do with them. After his first impeachment, for “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress,” his approval rose by six points. Similarly, when Trump’s predecessor Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, Clinton’s approval ratings rose 10 percent.

The same CBS/YouGov poll found that 76 percent of likely Republican voters believe the indictment was politically motivated. A similar percentage said their level of support for the former president stayed the same or increased after the indictment, while only seven percent reported a negative effect. Eighty percent agree that Trump should be able to serve as president even if convicted. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, the day before Trump surrendered himself for arraignment in federal court in Miami, found that 81 percent of Republicans believe the charges are politically motivated. These figures are not unanimous, but they go far beyond the 30 to 35 percent of Republicans who, analysts estimate, constitute Trump’s base.

Strikingly, with the exception of long-shot candidates like Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie, Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination have publicly supported him and denounced the new indictment as a political act. One of them, entrepreneur and media personality Vivek Ramaswamy, has pledged to pardon Trump as the first act of his presidency should Trump be convicted and Ramaswamy elected. DeSantis, who took a “no comment” position on Trump’s first indictment, has pledged a thorough house cleaning of the Justice Department to correct what the Florida governor now characterizes as an uneven application of the law with regard to Trump. According to the CBS/YouGov poll, 74 percent of likely Republican voters want a candidate who is “similar to Trump” if Trump is not the GOP’s nominee.

Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ill-fated invasion of Ukraine had the unintended consequence of strengthening NATO, persistent attempts to hobble Donald Trump through legal jeopardy have proved a powerful external force to unite the Republican Party behind the former president, whom many wrote off as politically dead after the disappointing 2022 midterm elections and a series of faux pas that followed.

Trump is resilient. Every day, he luxuriates in free publicity generously provided by all major media outlets across the political spectrum. He is defended by virtually everyone who counts in his party, almost all of whose rank-and-files members viscerally identify with his claims of persecution and believe that a capricious administrative-managerial caste is or will be targeting them with equal malevolence. Partisan insistence that the indictment is not political is falling on deaf ears as, increasingly, will other Democrat-led keystone cop attempts to “Get Trump,” regardless of how grounded they are in law. In advance of the former president’s arraignment, Trump pledged to continue his campaign even if convicted.

If the Democrats want to prevail over Trump in 2024, they will have to find far better strategies than convincing half the country that they are weaponizing law enforcement to remove the de facto leader of the opposition in the manner of a threatened banana republic supremo. Otherwise, as Trump announced on his Truth Social platform, it is they who could be a political opposition facing an unfriendly Justice Department.

Communal Apartments?

City JournalNew York City mayor Eric Adams proposes compensating homeowners to house new migrants.

“The proletarian state has to forcibly move a very poor family into a rich man’s flat,” wrote Vladimir Lenin in October 1917, just days before his Bolshevik Party violently seized the reins of Russia’s government. Lenin’s musing set the tone for Soviet housing policy for the next 40 years. During that time, the urban population was largely compelled to reside in “communal apartments,” subdivisions of prerevolutionary housing stock that the Soviet government had expropriated from its rightful owners.

New York City mayor Eric Adams seems to be advocating a similar arrangement following a sharp uptick in the number of illegal immigrants seeking asylum in his distressed city after the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed U.S. authorities swiftly to turn back migrants at the border. After months of pleading that the 45,900 migrants currently housed by New York municipal authorities were straining city resources and finances to the breaking point, Adams floated the idea that compensating private homeowners who house migrants might be the answer. “They have spare rooms. They have locales,” Adams suggested of Gotham homeowners, declaring “we should take this crisis and go to opportunities” that involve “private residences.”

Adams has refrained from criticizing the Biden administration for losing control of the southern border, but he had a number of ideas on how to handle New York’s predicament. Last October, he declared a “state of emergency” and asked the federal government for $1 billion to meet the costs of arriving migrants. (Last month, New York governor Kathy Hochul also declared a state of emergency and requested federal funds.) More recently, Adams has housed migrants in elementary school gymnasiums (while classes were in session), made a deal with religious leaders to lodge male migrants at 50 places of worship around the city, bussed migrants at city expense to upstate New York and Canada, and called on small towns and cities across the country to help ease New York’s migrant burden. In his latest fiasco, Adams spent millions of dollars in public funds to rent upscale hotel rooms for migrants, only to be scandalized by the behavior of some, who have allegedly trashed their pricey accommodations.

Manhattan residence and tenancy laws limit what the mayor can do about private accommodations, but Adams says he is looking for ways to use his “power” to get around any adverse “rules.” He’s not the first mayor to try to do this. In his 2019 State of the City address, Adams’s predecessor Bill de Blasio threatened landlords, saying that he would “seize their buildings” and “put them in the hands of a community nonprofit” if his administration decided that they were negligent. He pledged to create a new authority within the mayor’s office for that purpose and announced his intention to transform at least 40 multiple-dwelling buildings per year into what he described as “responsible, mission driven ownership.” The website of New York City’s public advocate office maintains a list of the city’s “100 worst landlords”—a ranking that has even included the city’s own housing authority—likely as a pretext for future seizures. New York State eminent-domain law, which provides for compulsory sales of property marked by the government for conversion to “public use,” is among the country’s most hostile to property owners, and state courts have enforced notoriously low standards for its application. Even without such extreme measures, stories of New Yorkers threatened with property seizures over even minor unpaid city bills have circulated for years.

In this environment, leftist activist groups such as Open New York have called for the redistribution of unoccupied apartments to low-income groups. This would likely suit New York Democrats like de Blasio, who was enamored of Nicaragua’s Communist Sandinista government in the 1980s, married a feminist collectivist, and secretly honeymooned with her in Communist Cuba. In a frank interview with New York in 2016, de Blasio stated that “if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land” and “determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.” Welcome to Moscow.

Communal apartments in the bad old USSR weren’t a lot of fun. Soviet Communism developed the concept out of Marxism’s doctrinal hostility to private property. If private property was ideologically objectionable, then housing and its distribution were matters of public policy to be determined by government officials. The general rule apportioned any qualified Soviet individual nine square meters of space, with larger allotments for families based on size. In thousands of mini-revolutions, former owners found themselves confined to one or two rooms of their once-sprawling homes, with the rest of the living space given over to the urban poor, low-level functionaries of the new Communist state, Red Army soldiers, and others thought to be deserving of what was officially called “resettlement.” Bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, entrances, chores, and other common phenomena were shared. Privacy was nil. Petty grudges and antagonisms were facts of everyday life.

By the 1960s, even Lenin’s eventual successors considered it better to build new single-family housing in outlying sections of Soviet cities than to follow the old communal policy. Millions of Soviet citizens took advantage of private accommodations as quickly as construction and party red tape allowed, but the older revolutionary concept never completely died out. More than a century after the Bolshevik Revolution, it has been estimated that as much as 10 percent of Russia’s urban residents still live in communal arrangements. Retrograde as their lives are, they could represent New York’s future if the far Left ever gets its way.