September 30, 2006

My remarks to The John Adams Society of Georgetown University

Remarks by Brendan Steinhauser to The John Adams Society at Georgetown University September 29, 2006 You can listen to the audio here. I’d like to first thank you all for being here, and for deciding to become active with ISI. I’d like to talk today about the current climate on college campuses, and what that means for our civilization. I’d also like to discuss the title of your club, The John Adams Society. First, please allow me to read an excerpt from my book The Conservative Revolution: How to Win the Battle for College Campuses. “Leftists have been the loudest and most successful activists on college campuses since the 1960's. Their infamous protests of the Vietnam War were exceptional in their magnitude. The demonstrations were so successful that communist Vietnamese leaders admitted that their efforts to win the war hinged upon the success of the so-called "anti-war protestors." They knew that their only hope was a divided America. Public opinion was vital to the American leadership as well, as indicated by the political decisions that prevented a successful end to the war. The lesson from this sad history is that students do matter, and always have. Students have the time and the means to organize for their causes. More importantly, college campuses are the battlegrounds for the ideas that shape public opinion. While conservatives have introduced ideas onto college campuses for decades, they have traditionally not been as successful at getting exposure for these ideas. But, this has been changing over the course of the last few years. National movements that seek to address the problem of the biased and blatantly Leftist universities are already making progress. "For over a half-century, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) has worked against the collectivist ideas on college campuses and has countered with the mission to further in successive generations of American college youth a better understanding of the economic, political, and spiritual values that sustain a free society." As I wrote on the back of my book, “College campuses today have become bastions of Marxism and political correctness.” The former radicals of the sixties have comfortably moved themselves in to the academy, along with their ideologies. Since academia is a place where ideas are not tested against reality, this seems the perfect place for their failed Marxist economic beliefs and for the deconstruction of postmodernism. When one can insulate oneself against reality, he does not have to face the inconvenience of determining whether is ideas work. Rather, he can lecture and write about the failings of the market economy and the potentialities of socialism. Young students who challenge his views on history, economics and politics are na├»ve, conditioned by their parents and that oppressive religion, Christianity, to think a certain way. Their minds have not been opened, and they have not thought outsight the dominant paradigm, which is controlled by the dominant (ie: white, male, Christian) culture. All the so-called classics, from Homer, to Aristotle, Aquinas to Shakespeare, can be deconstructed and discarded. And they should be replaced with Foucoult and Derrida, Chomsky and Marx. The West’s culture was superior only because it violently victimized non-Western, third-world peoples of color. It’s imperialism, racism, capitalism and sexism go hand-in-hand and are the driving forces of its dominance. Not its ideas. Well, I say hogwash. In Texas there is another less polite word for it, and it starts with “bull.” The Intercollegiate Studies Institute is a non-profit educational foundation that began in the fifties when a small cadre of students gathered together to counter the collectivism that had entrenched itself in American politics and culture. From the New Deal to communist sympathizers, Frank Chodorov and his friends realized that the academy was the battleground for ideas in America, and they began a mission that continues today: to Educate for Liberty. With the post-war conservative movement beginning to flourish, they tapped into the minds of men like Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley, and began holding small meetings like this one where they simply discussed ideas and great books. Although their small enterprise has grown into a huge institution that has thousands of members, their work is unfinished. The academy is now controlled by those tenured professors like Ward Churchill, Peter Singer, Noam Chomsky and Robert Jensen that seek to destroy the Western tradition steeped in Judeo-Christian values, ordered liberty, the free market, individual responsibility and rights. I do not use this term “destroy” imprecisely. When you read their texts or discuss their ideas with them, such academics are not ashamed to say that the West, and more specifically These United States, are what is wrong with the world. They seek to replace the Western tradition with something else, something ostensibly progressive. If progress is moral relativism, collectivistic economics, abortion, the end of gender, atheism, narcotics and democratic despotism, then I want none of it. The fact that these ideas not only permeate, but dominate, the liberal arts on college campuses, is what is so frightening, and why it is so important that groups like ISI continue their work. As Russell Kirk wrote in The Roots of American Order, “Our time of troubles is like the disorder of the Roman republic in the first century before Christ, and like the catastrophic collapse of Roman civilization in the fifth century after Christ. As individuals and as a civilization we people in the twentieth century grope for order.” I assure you the radical professors in the academy aim at disorder, moral anarchy and throwing the ideas of St. Augustine, of Plato, of the founding fathers, into the dustbin of discredited ideas. Because these ideas are the foundation upon which the West and ultimately the American Republic was founded, they must be destroyed. Ergo, we see curricula filled with the ideas that run counter to the West. Only by replacing Western culture with postmodern culture can the radical innovators bring about the zenith of their counter cultural utopian vision of man’s paradise on Earth. For, if one does not believe in God or his heavenly rewards, nor humanity’s fallen nature, then surely this Earthly existence can and must progress toward perfection. That, my friends, is the difference between us, and them. Hopefully I have clarified the struggle of ideas that we are facing every day in our culture. John Adams and Ordered Liberty Now I want to turn to one of the greatest founding fathers, whom you have chosen to honor by naming your club after him. Kirk has called John Adams “the founder of true conservatism in America.” Kirk writes in The Conservative Mind, “the American Revolution was not an innovative upheaval, but a conservative restoration of colonial prerogatives…Thus, men essentially conservative found themselves triumphant rebels.” It was Kirk’s thought that inspired me to write an essay called “Is there such a thing as a conservative revolution?” In this essay, I wrote, “Who could argue that this was a revolution whereby the colonists rebelled precisely to preserve their rights as British citizens? When listing the grievances in the Declaration of Independence that brought forth the revolution, Thomas Jefferson mentioned policies that the King and Parliament had instituted that had violated the colonists’ rights. Most of these policies were recently enacted, after the French and Indian War. It was the King and the Parliament, and not the colonists, who were changing things. Therefore, the revolution that ensued sought to restore things as they were before the innovations of the British government. This was a conservative revolution.” John Adams was indeed a conservative revolutionary. Adams knew the importance of religion in the polity. He wrote, “Is there a possibility that the government of nations may fall into the hands of men who teach the most disconsolate of all creeds, that men are but fireflies, and that this all is without a father?” “Give us again the gods of the Greeks.” It seems today that the academy is filled with people who would replace belief in a higher power with belief in the supremecy of consumption, self-gratification and secular humanism. Adams’ views of man’s equality might be pertinent for those today who worship at the alter of “equality.” He wrote, “That all men are born to equal rights is clear. Every being has a right to his own, as moral, as sacred, as any other has. But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence in society, to equal property and advantages through life, is as gross a fraud, as glaring an imposition on the credulity of the people as ever was practiced by monks, by Druids, by Brahmins, by priests of the immortal Lama, or by the self-styled philosophers of the French Revolution. For honor’s sake, for truth and virtue’s sake, let American philosophers and politicians despise it.” This indictment of equality should ring true in light of today’s push for social leveling and redistribution of wealth and status. Adams preserved the Western tradition and its search for the truth. He reflected Aristotle’s Ethics when he wrote, “All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue.” What were these virtues that good men should seek to cultivate? Certainly not the virtues espoused by our intellectual elites today. What were his views on power in light of his understanding of human nature? “My opinion” he writes “is, and always has been, that absolute power intoxicates alike despots, monarchs, aristocrats, and democrats, and Jacobins, and sans culottes.” It was the political genius of Adams and other founders that led Kirk to call our Constitution “the most successful conservative device in the history of the world.” Others can and have said much more about John Adams and his contributions to American liberty than I can. I highly recommend The Conservative Mind and The Roots of American Order, both by Russell Kirk, and both which describe the intellectual and moral tradition of what he called “The American Cause.” The point I’d like to leave you with is that you should immerse yourselves in the ideas and stories of the Western tradition stretching from the plains of Homer’s Troy, to Dante’s journey to hell, to Hamlet’s struggle with the grief of his father’s murder. These ideas and stories are worth reading, and re-reading, and telling and preserving. The literature, art, architecture and political philosophy of the West is the story of who we are today. I fear that if we do not defend our culture, both from radicals in the academy and barbarians at our gates, we could lose it. And despite what some intellectuals might have you believe, the world would most certainly not be better off if the West were to fall. You are the remnant that has the ability to preserve the ideas that influenced our founders at the creation of the Republic. Take it as a personal responsibility to speak out in class, to meet and discuss the great books, to introduce other students to these ideas and to continue the mission that ISI has been pursuing for over fifty years. Keep the torch of liberty lit, and carry on the traditions of the West, and of our country, what has been called “the last best hope for mankind.” Thank you for your attention.

September 25, 2006

Busy Week

This week I travelled to Iowa and Massachusetts. I joined FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey in Iowa for an event hosted by Iowans for Discounted Taxes. Armey talked about the need for Presidential candidates to discuss big issues like a flat tax, government spending restraint and personal retirement accounts for young workers. I then flew to Massachusetts to teach a grassroots seminar for The Leadership Institute. We travelled to Smith College in Northampton, MA to teach students from that school and others in the area about how to be effective in youth politics. Next week I head to California to take on the Leftists in LA about FCC media ownership rules. We will be testifying at a hearing and also handing out literature promoting free speech and free enterprise.

September 15, 2006

Teacher Tears Down '911 Never Forget' Flyer at San Francisco Catholic School.. Says it Offends Muslims: Developing...

I was informed that a high school teacher at St. Ignatius College Prepatory in San Francisco tore down a flyer that students put up that said, "911: Never Forget." The teacher allegedly told the students that the flyer was "offensive to Muslims." This was a Jesuit Catholic school, mind you. I am working to find out the name of the teacher, and to gather more details. I will make this information available as soon as I can. It is unfortunate that these types of things keep happening, but with your help we can make sure these students are allowed to put up the flyers. Developing...

September 11, 2006

Is there such a thing as a conservative revolution?

Now that the title of my book has become part of the lexicon when discussing the situation on college campuses, I feel compelled to explain my purpose in using the term “the conservative revolution.” For some, this phrase flies in the face of traditional conservatism like that expressed by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Conservatives, we are told, reject revolutions as radical and bloody innovations. While this may be the case in a political context such as the French Revolution, revolutions are not all the same. In this essay I hope to provide three examples where revolutions were in fact conservative, and one scenario where a future revolution could be conservative. First, let us look at the American Revolution. Who could argue that this was a revolution whereby the colonists rebelled precisely to preserve their rights as British citizens? When listing the grievances in the Declaration of Independence that brought forth the revolution, Thomas Jefferson mentioned policies that the King and Parliament had instituted that had violated the colonists’ rights. Most of these policies were recently enacted, after the French and Indian War. It was the King and the Parliament, and not the colonists, who were changing things. Therefore, the revolution that ensued sought to restore things as they were before the innovations of the British government. This was a conservative revolution. The Texas Revolution that began in 1835 was also a conservative revolution. The Texian rebels led by cult heroes like Davy Crockett, William B. Travis and Sam Houston were fighting to restore their rights that had been trampled by the Mexican dictator Santa Anna. In fact, the flag that flew over the Alamo was the flag of 1824, which represented the Mexican Constitution of 1824 abolished by Santa Anna. It was Santa Anna, and not the Texians, that was the radical innovator. The Texians did seek their independence, but only because the government that they had consented to had become tyrannical. They sought to restore their rights that had existed prior to Santa Anna, but in doing so, launched a new nation, the Republic of Texas. Suppose that years from now our own government grew in power and began to dismantle our Constitution. Many on the left and right believe that this is already happening today, although I think we are far from it. If our government declared martial law, forced a national identification card, instituted a draft, jailed dissidents and launched wars of conquest around the globe, would Americans continue to want to “conserve” that government? Those on the left and the right might actually join forces to overthrow the government through revolution and restore it to its constitutional foundations. Would this revolution be a conservative revolution? It seems to me that if the effect of the revolution was not bloodshed and anarchy, but ordered liberty and a return to constitutionalism, one could call this revolution “conservative.” Let us hope we never come to such a scenario. But I think the example is helpful in understanding the term “conservative revolution.” How does the use of the phrase “conservative revolution” apply to college campuses today? When free speech is violated, conservative newspapers are destroyed and Western Civilization is torn down every day why should conservatives “conserve” the campus culture? Conservative students are facing an intellectual battle daily in lecture halls, dormitories and administration buildings. Conservative students are fighting on campuses to restore the campus to a culture of free inquiry, intellectual pluralism and academic freedom. Since the takeover of the campuses by the sixties radicals, the academy has become a bastion of Marxism, multiculturalism and political correctness. Again, the radical innovators are the professors and administrators, and not the conservative students. When choosing to describe the battle for college campuses a “conservative revolution” I deliberately chose this phrase. Conservative students who revere Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk should be comfortable with this term. And those students who read Locke, Hayek and Rand should be equally comfortable in this description of our goal. When I called for the launching of a “conservative revolution” to take back our campuses from the grip of the far Left, I was not calling for the use of bullets, bombs nor the guillotine. Rather, I was calling for an intellectual battle that holds no punches, that seeks to tear down multiculturalism, political correctness and Marxism. In their place, I urge my fellow conservative “revolutionaries” to promote the ideas of Western Civilization, the great books, Judeo-Christian values, the free market and ordered liberty. Students should be organizing on campuses, starting clubs and newspapers, and hosting debates. The end game is not to destroy the institutions of higher education themselves. Rather, it is to destroy with the power of truth the failed ideologies of Marxism and collectivism, and return the campuses to an environment that upholds the ideas that have preserved Western Civilization. Nothing short of an intellectual and political revolution against entrenched Leftists on campuses will suffice. Therefore, I declare that the conservative revolution should continue to be the battle cry for conservative students everywhere. Brendan Steinhauser is the author of The Conservative Revolution: How to Win the Battle of College Campuses.

TCR on Front Page Magazine

You can see Julia Seymour's article on my book over at Front Page Magazine. David Horowitz's group, Students for Academic Freedom, has been having a lot of success the past year. I encourage all new SAF chapters to get a copy of The Conservative Revolution and use it to organize on their campus.

September 10, 2006

Update: Accusations of bigotry

"Nevertheless, we have decided to disinvite Dr. Jensen. We do not want to jeopardize this conference which has always been such a wonderful opportunity for people to grow and learn. Have you ever attended one of the 18 conferences we have held? Perhaps we missed a great opportunity to evangelize Dr. Jensen. I hope he doesn’t think that Catholics are closed minded and bigots."

Apparently some in the Diocese office are not too fond of me now.

September 8, 2006

Update: Dr. Jensen CANCELLED

I just received word from the Victoria Diocese that Professor Jensen will not be speaking at the conference. They did not seem to pleased about the incident. They received dozens of calls and emails about this, and decided not to let Jensen speak to over 600 Catholics in the Diocese. Thanks to everyone for your support and ideas concerning this matter. Only by standing up to speak truth to power can we win in the battle for our culture. The discussion continues over at Free Republic. --- Some of you have written and asked about Dr. Jensen's specific comments on religion, abortion and homosexuality. Professor Jensen’s article “Why I am a Christian, sort of” begins with the following statements:
“I don't believe in God. I don't believe Jesus Christ was the son of a God that I don't believe in, nor do I believe Jesus rose from the dead to ascend to a heaven that I don't believe exists… My decision to join a church was more a political than a theological act.”

Accuracy in Academia on TCR

Thanks to Julia Seymour over at AIA who wrote a nice piece about The Conservative Revolution: How to Win the Battle for College Campuses.

September 7, 2006

Update: Catholic Church will Host Bob Jensen

Here is the email I received from someone who has invited Professor Jensen to speak: Dear Mr. Steinhauser, Yes, Bishop Fellhauer has been consulted concerning Professor Jensen. We appreciate your concern, and we do not want to make an issue of this. I will attend his presentation and expect him to stick to the topic of media. This is incredible to me. This is an officially sanctioned Church event. Sad, indeed.

Catholic Church invites atheist, pro-abortion professor to speak

It is sad to report, but a local parish in the Victoria, Tx Diocese invited UT professor Robert Jensen to speak to the faithful at the end of the month. I have contacted the church office and informed them of Jensen's views on abortion and homosexuality, but they have not decided to cancel his appearance. I have initiated an email campaign to urge Catholics to call the parish and the diocese and ask why someone with his views would be invited to speak. I have not determined yet whether he will receive payment, nor whether the Bishop knows about his views. I will post updates as I get them.

September 5, 2006

Armey going to Iowa

I already posted the story about Armey's trip to Iowa here. Here is the entry on ABC's The Note. Dick Armey goes to Iowa You may have to get out your 2008 GOP scorecards and add another name to the mix. . . Well, maybe not just yet. But, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) is clearly displeased with the lack of attention being paid but the current crop of '08ers to fiscal issues such as Social Security solvency and a fundamental overhaul of America's tax policy. So, Dick Armey is heading to Iowa to "set the stage for what I think is a much needed, more serious real debate on the issues," said Armey in an exclusive interview with The Note. "I have absolutely no interest in Dick Armey as President, but the ideas are very important. . . And I don't see anybody out there right now who has taken on the big ideas," Armey said. "You never say never in politics," he added. Armey is the chairman of FreedomWorks, a grassroots issue-based organization, and it is in that role he will address "Iowans for Discounted Taxes" on September 19 in Des Moines, IA. Trips to New Hampshire and South Carolina are likely as well. On President Bush's Social Security effort, Armey said "He's so bogged down in the war, he did not give it the leadership attention he should have. I don't think you can mark that as a failure just because it didn't get done. . . It didn't get done because the President was so wrapped up with the war in Iraq that he didn't get the chance to spend the time on it and assert the leadership."

September 1, 2006

Response to Professor Henson's comments

First, I appreciate Professor Henson's sense of humour. Here is my original article about the Professor who labeled SMU YCT the "KKK." Here is my response to his article in the SMU student newspaper: Look, we are engaged in a battle on college campuses for the hearts and souls of young people who vote, work for candidates, and eventually will make policy, influence public opinion and raise families. It is imperative that the ideas that made this nation great are defended. College campuses tend to be hotbeds of political discussions and activity, and are where the great books are not read, but should be. I fight hard to introduce students to the works of Ayn Rand, Russell Kirk, Frederic Bastiat and Milton Friedman because their professors refuse to do so. I teach students how to organize an "army" to do intellectual and political battle with Leftists because it's important that our ideas reach both the leaders and the masses. As for terrorist-sympathizing professors, David Horowitz has written extensively about their support for Hezbollah, Hamas and even al Qaeda. Finally, to the question of supporting the war against Islamic fascism and secular terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Professor Henson should be glad, as a Leftist, that military decision-making and policy debates are not closed to civilians, but open to them. What about being a civilian disqualifies someone from commenting on foreign policy? We have a volunteer army, navy, coast guard and air force that operate with great skill and courage. I applaud them and support them at home precisely because I support their mission and am not overseas fighting alongside them in Iraq or Afghanistan. The war of public opinion at home is just as important as the war of bullets and bombs overseas. I think that most military commanders would agree with me on that point. I hope that my use of martial metaphors and my sense of urgency are now clearer to Professor Henson. I'd be happy to elaborate further on these and other points if he so desires.

SMU Professor Calls me a Parvenu...

I admit that I learned a new word today. A professor at SMU said that I was perhaps a "parvenu," one who is up-and-coming. It doesn't surprise me that a leftist professor used a word that is French in origin. Just kidding, professor Henson. The piece is here. Of course, having financial and organizational assistance from The Collegiate Network has to make things easier. Not to mention the invaluable input from a conservative warrior like Brendan Steinhauser, who penned the feature article in the debut issue. Conservative phenom (or parvenu), Steinhauser is a graduate of the University of Texas, former executive director of Young Conservatives of Texas and author of “The Conservative Revolution: How to Win the Battle for College Campuses.” Mr. Steinhauser, it seems, has a penchant for using militaristic metaphors, not to mention hyperbole. Everything is a battle or a war. Everything is epic or revolutionary. Everything is a casus belli. To Mr. Steinhauser Democrats are not merely liberals; they are ‘leftists’ waging war on the American way of life, which Mr. Steinhauser and his fellow ‘protest warriors’ are more than happy to let other men and women, mostly college-aged, die in Iraq to protect. Meanwhile, Steinhauser and his band of merry men fight make-believe battles raging on college campuses against would-be terrorist sympathizers disguised as mild-mannered college professors. But enough about Mr. Steinhauser. I’m here to talk about conservatives--true conservatives.