Culture of the Gun Revisited…Again

“I am saddened and horrified. What I am not is surprised.” –Don Miller

Let the war of words begin. It is sad, but by the time I share this the furor over violence will have moved on until the next act of violence against our children. It has been six whole days.

Most of the reactions will follow a familiar path, “thoughts and prayers”, media outcries for change, pro-gun rights folks debate limited-gun rights folks and anti-gun rights folks. Time passes with nothing changing except more guns are bought until the furor dies and we are again shocked with the next school shooting. The debate begins again and honestly…we don’t seem to be as shocked as we once were. It has become another day in America.

This battle of words will be different this time. While most school shooters are male, this time the LGBTQ+ community will be the center of political arguments…and conspiracy theories and “false flag” conspiracies. If you follow the “there are only two genders” logic the shooter was male, if not she was a female. Does it matter to the dead?

I’ve seen suggestions resurfacing to arm teachers, my least favorite out of myriads of least favorites, to we must “harden the targets.” That sounds like something from a war zone or a “sh!th@le” country once described by a naval orange dressed in a blue suit. All ignore the underlying issue. A culture that embraces violence over diplomacy with access to vast amounts of weapons to execute that violence.

The arming of teachers I find reprehensible. Blaming teachers for every educational ill, accusing them of “grooming” or “indoctrination”, questioning their ability to choose books and now your wish is to put them armed in a class with your juvenile delinquents? I don’t really believe they are juvenile delinquents but wanted you to know that words hurt…so does a round from a rifle or pistol.

Another suggests “evil exists, and laws will not change that.” Why do we have laws at all then? Are laws for honest people? Evil does exist but why are we not keeping weapons out of the hands of evil?

Do I believe this latest killer is evil? No. I believe she was a troubled person who committed an evil act. An evil act that she is responsible for. I also believe there were contributing factors. I blame her for pulling the trigger, but I also blame those who helped put the trigger in her hand.

Let me be fair. It is not just about school, church, or supermarket shootings. It is the drive by in LA, or gang violence in Chicago or Baltimore, or the drunken good ole boy who decides to William Tell a PBR can off his friend’s head and misses a bit low with his hunting rifle. It is about domestic murder in the South and the death of college students in the Midwest.

It’s about students wounded while walking to their prom.  It is about gunfire due to road rage and looking cross eyed at the wrong person. It’s about good old boys strapping AR-15s to their back when they get a coffee at the local coffee shop. It is about a lack of empathy and ignoring the sanctity of life in favor of an amendment to the Constitution.

I’ve shared this before but in case you missed it, in 2020, the last year for complete data, gun violence became the leading cause of youth deaths surpassing automobile accidents. Most were suicides. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (24,292), while 43% were murders (19,384). The numbers came from the CDC and were backed by other sources.

According to CNN, personal safety tops the list of reasons why American gun owners say they own a firearm, yet 63% of US gun-related deaths are self-inflicted from a gun in their home. Please check my research. You might learn something.

It is a fact that it took a finger to pull the trigger, the gun didn’t do it on its own, and these Pew and CDC statistics do not reflect accidental gun deaths or where guns were a contributing factor but not the cause of death.

An undeniable truth is that we live in a gun rich environment. Five percent of the world’s population owns 44-46% of the world’s civilian firearms depending on the study you might be reading. According to a recent CNN study, we own more guns than we have people, one hundred-twenty guns per one hundred people. In 2022, 1.65 million guns were purchased by Americans, which is a slight decline from 2020. One Point Six Five Million.

According to a Scientific American study in 2015, and from what I’ve pieced together it hasn’t changed, assaults with a firearm were 6.8 times more common in states that had the most guns, compared to the least and the data is limited since until recently the federal government was effectively barred from gathering it. Thank the NRA and the “Dicky Amendment.” More than a dozen studies have revealed that if you had a gun at home, you were twice as likely to be killed as someone who didn’t.

Research from the Harvard School of Public Health determined that states with higher gun ownership levels have higher rates of homicide. Data even tells us that where gun shops or gun dealers open for business, killings go up. There are always exceptions to the rule, but some politicians would have you ignore the overall data and quote the exceptions rather than the rule.

Guns are big money. In an article by Fortune Magazine published by Yahoo, Gun rights groups spent $15.8 million on lobbying in 2020, compared to just $2.9 million in lobbying from gun control groups. Beyond lobbying, gun groups have contributed $50.5 million to federal candidates and party committees between 1989 and 2022, with most of those contributions going to Republicans. They spent especially heavily in the 2020 election, with $16.6 million in outside spending.

Oh, but the Second Amendment…. I’m not going to debate it except to say that one side always ignores two words, “well regulated.”

Will there be a change? If history repeats, I expect not. I don’t believe I am an overly cynical person but why would I expect change? Guns are as much a part of our culture as mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Other than exchanging duck and cover drills for active shooter drills little has changed.

Our history is rife with violence, mostly involving a gun. Our country was born from violence and expanded using violence, facts we don’t want our school children to hear. Do we have a greater propensity for violence than other countries? I believe so but if not, other countries have done a better job of curbing theirs.

We have violent games, violent movies glorifying the gun and the heroic figure welding it. I’m just as guilty. Several of my novels include violence…gun violence but the good guy with the gun always saved the day…unlike real life. 

When I read my comic books, Zane Grey, or Louis Lamoure, I knew it was fiction. James Arness or John Wayne wasn’t really gunning them down in the streets. After I became a history student, I found out their fiction was…based on fiction.  There were few gunfights in the streets and the Gunfight at the OK Corral lasted about thirty seconds. My novels are no different. They are fictional…but…real violence is real.

Other cultures have violent games, movies, and literature, but they don’t have real-life violence like we do here. Should we work to keep guns out of the hands of the violent? Should we look at the underlying issues that lead to violence and attempt to correct them?

It is mental illness. I believe someone who goes out and kills multiple children and adults is mentally ill…but that doesn’t give that person a free pass. As I said before, she pulled the trigger but if you are going to blame it on mental illness, other countries with much lower murder rates have mental illnesses too. Could it have something to do with our health system? Should we work to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill?

It is parenting, but why? Single parent homes? Parents having to work multiple jobs leaving their children to their own devices? Cycles of poverty? Again, among the states and cities in those states, statistics show that the higher the poverty rate, the higher the homicide rate…the higher the overall crime rate. This is true across all races and ethnicities and in blue, red, or purple states. Should we work to end poverty?

Criminals will always find a way…yes probably. Should we cut off access at the source? Gunmakers and smugglers? Everything is done after the murder instead of trying to prevent it. Could it be gunmakers and politicians are making too much money off the sale of legal and illegal firearms? Should we limit contributions from the gun lobby and NRA?

Maryland was one of the outliers in the Pew study. Strict gun laws but a higher number of gun deaths. Sixty-five percent of the guns used in violence in Maryland that could be traced came from other states with laxer gun laws. I don’t know the numbers but the same can be said about Chicago, I’m sure. Just something to ponder. Should we strengthen our gun laws?

Cain killed Abel with a rock. Yep, if the Bible is to be believed. I would rather confront a killer walking around with a bag of rocks than a bag of thirty round magazines and a rifle or pistol to put them in.

Along the same lines, “We’ve taken God out of … fill in the blank.” There are many countries who aren’t considered “Christian Countries” who have much lower gun homicide rates. Research Shinto Japan and while you are at it research their gun laws. Japan has a very violent history at times. How did these less Christian countries overcome the problem?

It does seem we have lost our appreciation for the sanctity of life…all life. Our hatred for others leads us to violence. Rhetoric against the Trans Community will increase due to this act, so will acts of violence toward them. Disagreement has become life threatening. We pick some “other” to spew our hateful rhetoric on.

Some Christians will say it is because we have become Godless, I will say that some Christians have driven me from organized religion because they are Jesus-less as they have replaced him with an idol in the shape of an assault-style rifle. If you can’t appreciate the Earth and the people who live on it, I want no part of you or your religion.

I don’t expect any of this will change anyone’s mind about guns…or violence…or mental illness and I don’t believe any effective change will occur. Gun violence is too engrained in our culture, and we pass it on to our children. I fear it is who we are.

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Research cited


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-is-clear-gun-control-saves-lives/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/26/world/us-gun-culture-world-comparison-intl-cmd/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2vEhlMbsPbVhwBEXTyXtC6iUkx2VAkGf37uCdLzyMABlHEDSPSANOacV0

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/lobbying-gun-rights-

https://www.fortune.com/

Harvard School of Public Health

Related: https://cigarman501.com/2018/02/15/thoughts-and-prayers/

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Don Miller’s violent fiction may be purchased through Amazon. So can his less than violent non-fiction. The link is https://www.amazon.com/stores/Don-Miller/author/B018IT38GM?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Black History…American History….

“Black history is indeed American history, but it is also world history.”
― Angela Y. Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

In the early days of the Obama years, I first got the dreaded “When are you going to teach white history?” question as soon as Black History Month began, and I discussed what I might be teaching.  We are in the second year of the second administration since and the same people are making the same asinine statements or asking the same asinine questions. 

I will be disgusted because many asinine statements will come from former students, teaching peers, and friends I want to respect but find that I can’t.  We can agree to disagree but not on racism, covert or overt. White is the default, a preselected option. When it is not, we can move on from Black History Month.

I question the motives of folk who comment negatively about Black History Month and wonder if the ghost of George Wallace or Strom Thurmond haunts them. I have seen social memes and comments that have included “When is White America going to have a Month?” “Black History Month is Racist!” “Why do we have to have a Black History Month?”

An answer to the last question, in a perfect world, YOU WOULDN’T have Black History Month. Nor would you have Women’s History Month, in March, a Native American Heritage Month, in November, a Hispanic Heritage Month beginning in the middle September or any of the others that you can take the time to look up. Unfortunately, we are not, nor have we been, living in a perfect world. To quote a former student, “We celebrate white history in all months that don’t begin with F.” I agree with my student and believe any child should be made to feel included.

Examples of it not being a perfect world include protest, verbal and physical, over CRT, kneeling football players, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and The 1619 Project, a book I am presently reading. Parents are outraged over naked mice in Maus and language that they themselves use when yelling down school board members. Examples of an imperfect world date to when “We hold these to be self-evident, all men are created equal” was written. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were both an ideal and a lie and evidence of an imperfect world when they were first penned.

As a retired, high school history teacher I know history books are written from a decidedly European-American point of view…well…at least where I taught, a deeply red, conservative state. A state that almost required D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” as required viewing, along with Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” and Walter Raleigh’s “Ivanhoe” as required reading. I find little has changed in the time since I retired as it relates to most non-European-American history.

During a year, Asian-Americans are mentioned a few times.  Transcontinental Railroad, the Chinese Exclusion Act and Gentleman’s Agreement, the Japanese involvement in World War Two and China goes communist, Korea and Vietnam.

Hispanic contributions, a bit more. Spanish colonization, the Mexican-American War, Imperialism, Pancho Villa, and then a jump to NAFTA and the question “Why are they taking our jobs?” Wait, we fixed that one, didn’t we? Since I’ve retired, I’m sure illegal immigration is a topic. Notice, these are all mostly decidedly negative when viewed from a white European point of view and not a celebration at all.

Native Americans are prominent but disappear after Wounded Knee unless you happen to bring them back up in the Sixties with the many social movements. Again, until recently, Custer’s Last Stand was viewed as a glorious massacre, brave men falling to war painted heathens. Damn Redskins stepping on our Manifest Destiny and the only good Indian…! I digress.  The Washington Football Team, formally Redskins and now Commanders, cured all those ills. (Said with sarcasm)

I rarely taught Black history exclusively during Black History Month. I was wrong. I deluded myself into thinking that I taught EVERYONE’S HISTORY ALL YEAR LONG and didn’t need to focus on a Black History Month. It wasn’t until late in my career that I began to assess what I had taught. I’m not happy.

Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Harriett Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, W.E.B Dubois versus Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King and maybe Malcomb X. There were others but most were only related to certain peculiar aspects of African American lives and American history. A decidedly important aspect but besides George Washington Carver and Langston Hughes, there was nothing about other contributions.

Why didn’t I teach other aspects of Black culture and history? Because I hadn’t been taught Black culture and history. During my college days, Black culture and history were after thoughts…not even after thoughts. I grew up in a segregated society that had just begun to transition as I entered college. I did run across an African Studies course as I finished my specialist’s degree thirty years later, but I did not enroll.

Black History Month should be viewed as an opportunity to spotlight contributions by African Americans. It should focus on the less obvious, not just slavery, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights.

Musicians, artists, writers, poets, inventors, explorers, scientists, businesspeople, soldiers, etc. should be spotlighted. It should be an opportunity for us all to learn. As I have learned, Black History is American History and a rich, patriotic history at that.

Three years before my second retirement were teaching “cultural” geography. I loved it. One, I had no end of school testing pressure and could go off on any tangent I desired to go off on. I could be creative and allow creativity from my students. It became about cultural diversity, really teaching everyone’s history and culture, all year long. I would like to think my best efforts as a teacher came during those three years.

A paragraph I wrote in one of my many musings sums up my feelings, “Today I look toward diversity as a smorgasbord of delights. I believe we should just focus on how diversely different people party. How can you be distrustful of people who produce such wonderful food? Or music, or art, or etc….. My life without Latin, Soul, Asian, and Cajun foods would not be life-ending, but life would not be as joyous, especially without a Belgian, Mexican, Jamaican, or German beer, a Mojito, or some Tennessee whiskey to go with it and a Cuban cigar for afterward. We should play some Blues, Reggae, Blue Grass, or a little Zydeco to help the atmosphere along. It is just as easy to focus on the positives about diversity as it is the negatives and again with knowledge comes understanding.”

I am a social liberal swimming in a red sea of conservatism and make no excuses for my beliefs. I don’t believe books should be banned or that CRT is being forced down our children’s throats by liberal teachers who hate America.

I believe that the rights that someone else is given do not take my rights away from me including the right to celebrate Black History Month…or Cinco De Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day for that matter. In fact, I have joined in and by doing so believe I am not only a better American but a better human.

I know my quote by Angela Y. Davis will rankle some folk. Yes, she is a Communist and yes, she was arrested for the crime of murder…and acquitted by an all-white jury I might add. She is also a lesbian and a liberal university professor. Many will discount anything I said because I used her quote. In this case it is about the message not the messenger. Black history is world history.

Don Miller’s Author’s Page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0mzivK_bmnTjG4D9RL1KGMQ4TurZ8y7hrFca8ExoRa_XmkEUStmSylMCc

Thoughts and Prayers….

PESSIMISM WARNING! I hate to pee in your Cheerios, but nothing will change. Another mass shooting, another school shooting.  It is just who we are. We are a toxic brew of violent nature, toxic masculinity, with a gun and target rich environment.

We are first in mass shootings, first in gun deaths, nearly half in suicides, and domestic abuse. More than any county of the “civilized” world, not at war. But nothing will change. We make it about anything other than intelligent gun control or an in-depth study of our violent culture and how we perpetuate it.

We don’t want to spend money on education to lift people, we would rather spend it on prisons or shift school money to private schools. We would rather erect a wall than take a serious look at our own culture and its motivations and the dangers from within.

It must be about mental illness, and it is, even though we’ve made it easier for the mentally ill to possess guns. We put the killer under a microscope, scrutinize and debate race, or religion or immigration. If we can’t hang the murderer on one of those excuses, we make it about politics or gun free zones or sanctuary cities or Mars ascending into Venus…when it should be about our culture…the culture of the gun. We offer our thoughts and prayers.

I consider myself a spiritual man, if not, a religious one, but our thoughts and prayers are wearing thin especially when it involves the same kind of kids and schools, I taught and coached in for forty-four years. The thinness is because I believe nothing will change. It is too much a part of our culture. We are a violent group, some with Bibles in one hand, rifles in the other. “Thou Shalt not Kill” should have an addendum. Thou Shalt not Kill unless it abridges my right to purchase and use an AR-15 or any other gun.

I probably shouldn’t be focused on the AR-15…although there is a good reason. From Aurora to Stoneman Douglas High and beyond, it seems to be the weapon of choice, whether due to popularity or ease of use, I don’t know. I don’t know what was used in our latest murder de jour, but I know we’ve weaponized ourselves with all sorts of arms. I have two handguns and a shotgun myself…and a rock, car, butter knife and a fork.

There seems to be something about our manhood that goes hand in hand with a handgun or rifle…and the violent tendencies we hold dear. Do they make a perfume “Ode de Gunpowder?” I’ll write about women just as soon as there is a female mass shooter. Why are our males more violent than females? They are not, women just like to inflict pain over a longer period…. Sorry.

Our country was forged on violence…from the very beginning and we glorify it. From an “Eye for an Eye,” to the cult of the warrior in the many wars we have fought, to the dubious history of the Western gunfighter. Our video games, television programs, and movies glorify violence, and they have an effect. It is still about the Alpha male with the gun in one hand and the adoring, scantily clad female secured with the other. At least we’ve added movies with scantily clad, female superheroes. Hum…sex, and gunpowder….

So, as pessimistic as it sounds, I don’t think we will ever change. I believe we will continue to lead in categories we say we don’t want to lead in and continue to offer our thoughts and prayers instead of taking a meaningful look at our culture and what our culture breeds. Because we won’t take a meaningful look, I expect the violence to increase…but I’m not sending any more thoughts and prayers.

Steak Chips….

 

I never know what will trigger a memory.  They just occur…a benefit from age?  Great, I’m glad there is one benefit from age…wisdom certainly isn’t.

Recently it was an unlikely trigger…Dr. Oz of daytime tv fame.  I walked in to find him prancing from my tv screen discussing how to make hamburgers moist despite overcooking…as in cooking to well done.  Well done and then some…something my grandmother would have done to hamburger or steak.  The young man being interviewed was using a “panade.”  Being as country as a fresh cow patty I looked the word up. Suddenly I was back in a small kitchen watching her making her most special, well done, yet moist hamburgers.

My grandmother grew up in a time when meat was slaughtered and processed on the farm…in not the most sterile conditions.  There was a disease, trichinosis, caused by a roundworm that could be transferred from undercooked meat to humans.  This led me to believe that all steaks were…well…cracker like…dry and tending to make snapping sounds when cut…like a potato chip.

Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.  We weren’t eating premium cuts of meat either.  We were the ones who made “eating high on the hog” or in this case, cow, possible.  Generally, we ate variations of round steak, cubed and then turned into a cracker, may be covered in a milk gravy or covered in a beading and then turned into a cracker before being covered in a milk gravy.  Yes, she overcooked them and taught my mother to overcook them as well.

I didn’t know any better until I went off to college.  I didn’t know steak came anyway other than chip like…and cubed.  A young lady I was dating suggested that I might want to try my filet mignon cooked less than well done.  During those days if a young lady I was dating had suggested I might try a dead cow’s hoof raw, I probably would have eaten it with a smile on my face.  The things you might do for love I guess…or lust.  Despite thinking it was just heated past raw, I found it to be moist, tender, quite tasty and not the least bit cracker-like.  I also didn’t pronounce it correctly either, “fill-it-mig-non.”

As bad as Nannie’s steaks were, her hamburgers were heavenly…despite having every bit of pink cooked right out of them.  They were moist because she added her own version of a “panade.”  A French word, it is a paste made from stale bread and milk or a word that means, “A state or experience of misery or poverty.”  I know my grandmother and grandfather experienced poverty, even before the Great Depression.  Just not sure about the misery but I doubt it.  Gee, the things you learn if you just pay attention.

She didn’t use bread as I remember, she used oatmeal or crushed up crackers.  Nannie also added sautéed onions and used a spice list I’ve never been able to recreate.  I’ve tried, repeatedly with different variations, and have only created my own version of a fried meatloaf…not bad, but not the same at all.  Boo, hoo, hoo.

My grandmother was a good cook, but it usually involved chicken, fried or in a pot pie.  Maybe wildlife like cooter soup or squirrel dumplings and for clarification, in those days a cooter was a turtle.  I know today’s word usage might cast some shade on that dish, but turtle soup was quite tasty…much tastier than her steak chips.

Thank you, Dr. Oz.  You have reinvigorated my efforts and brought back memories of the sound of beef patties landing in a greased, hot cast iron pan, moist and tasty hamburgers on white bread, a small kitchen and the woman who toiled there.  Ummmm, ummmm…wait, you mean I’ll probably use ground turkey instead of beef?  Roasted not fried?  No lard?  Oh well, thanks for the memories anyway.

Don Miller’s writer’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

NATE

We served over a hundred and fifty souls, the homeless and poor along with the people who ran the soup kitchen every week and their families. There were smiles, laughs, and expressions of true thankfulness. I believe the smiles made it all worthwhile. As the line trickled to a stop we joined the diners, “breaking bread” and sharing their stories and their experiences.
Aja was unusually quiet. We sat across the table from a thin black man named Nate. A Vietnam War veteran, Nate never got his life together despite the war being over for nearly forty-five years. He had been an eighteen-year-old tunnel rat and by his own admission, “hadn’t amounted to much.” After returning home, Nate had worked at low paying jobs to support his alcoholism until he “had just worn out.” Despite being surrounded by friends this Thanksgiving morning, his glances were furtive, as if someone or life might be sneaking up on him.
“Holy John,” the Methodist minister, disclosed to me Nate lived on family land in a fifty-year-old Airstream resting on flat tires and cement blocks. A cast iron stove “liberated” from someone’s trash heap and vented through a window, both warmed the old travel trailer and provided enough heat to prepare whatever food Nate had available. Like many troubled vets, he sometimes forgot to eat or chose instead to drink his way through the day.
Nate augmented his monthly social security checks with odd jobs done for understanding church members or by selling, for scrap, the aluminum cans he collected walking the country roads around the Airstream. Local folks dropped off bags of aluminum cans under a hand-painted sign whose down-pointing arrow instructed them to “drop cans here.” With no running water or indoor plumbing, he filled recycled milk jugs from a neighbor’s outdoor spigot and took his weekly shower and washed his clothes in the facilities provided in the church’s fellowship hall. Despite his plight, he seemed almost happy with his existence and was more open than many Vietnam veterans I had met.
A gaunt, mahogany face peered out from under an old Detroit Tigers’ baseball cap. Wisps of wiry, gray hair peeked out from under it. He had an ancient face, made older by his predicament. It was cut by deep crevasses that became deeper when he smiled. Nate seemed anything but sad with his self-imposed hardships. In a soft voice, he said, “I do okay. I don’t need much and since I’m drawin’ my social I live like a king.” Pausing to look back somewhere in the past he quoted, “I try to keep my heart open to dreams. As long as there’s a dream I have a life.” With our present military involvements, I wondered how many more of these damaged souls we would produce.
Nate paused, his rheumy eyes gazing intently at Aja before asking, “Little girl…somethin’ is troublin’ you?” Before she could answer he went on, “You young and beautiful. Out here on a Thanksgiving mornin’, you got to have a good heart. People gonna tell you this is the best time of your life. It ain’t. Wonder mo young folk don’t commit suicide hearing that shit. Life always gonna be hard but gets better if you let it. I didn’t and now my time be growin’ short. Nothin’ I can do about it, but you can if you wants to. ‘scuse my language but you need to take life by the balls and twist ‘em if you need to.”
Aja smiled her heart melting smile and said, “Thank you, Nate. I’ll try to remember to twist them just for you.”

This is a fictional composite of many former Vietnam Vets I have known…too many that I have known.  It is also written for Steve, my brother, and Hawk, my friend, who saw a need and acted on it.

Don Miller is a multi-genre writer who, in addition to maintaining a blog, has self-published six books.   His most recent release is the romantic adventure OLIVIA.  Don’s author’s page may be accessed at  http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501.

Thank you for stopping by.

Thought Provoking Piece from Ryan McMaken

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute, Patrick Buchanan is an informative and interesting writer. On foreign policy, especially, he’s long been one of the most reasonable voices among high-level American pundits. When it comes to cultural matters, however, Buchanan has long held to a peculiar and empirically questionable version of American history in […]

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