Thursday, June 24, 2021


Martin Amis, Koba the Dread  [Stalin]
New York: Hyperion, 2002, pp. 74-75 

But the worst prison is better than the best camp. In the camps such words (dear, human) are used facetiously or contemptuously or not at all; the future tense is never heard; and for the zek, more generally, the “natural desire to share what he has experienced dies in him” (Solzhenitsyn); “He has forgotten empathy for another’s sorrow; he simply does not understand it and does not desire to understand it” (Varlam Shalamov). Thus there was nowhere to turn but inward. Speculating on the “astounding rarity” of camp suicides, Solzhenitsyn writes:

“If those millions of helpless and pitiful vermin still did not put an end to themselves—this meant that some kind of invincible feeling was alive inside them. Some very powerful idea. This was their feeling of universal innocence.” 

Because they were all innocent, the politicals. None of them had done anything. On arrest, the invariable response was Zachto? Why? What for? When she heard that a friend had been picked up (this was in the early 1930s), Nadezhda Mandelstam said: Zachto? Anna Akhmatova lost patience. “Don’t you understand?” she said, “that they are now arresting people for nothing.” Why, what for? That was the question you asked yourself each day in the gulag archipelago. And we must imagine this word carved on the trunk of every tree in the taiga: Zachto?... 

There are no names for what happened in the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1953 (although Russians refer, totemically, to “the twenty million,” and to the Stalinschina—the time of Stalin’s rule). What should we call it? The Decimation, the Fratricide, the Mindslaughter? No. Call it the Zachto? Call it the What For?

Monday, June 21, 2021


Tyranny set in stone
Roger Kimball
The New Criterion
November 2009

...In 1948, The Soviets blockaded Berlin, a preliminary, they hoped, to annexing it entirely. The Berlin airlift, orchestrated by the American army general, Lucius Clay, provisioned the city with some 4,500 tons of food, fuel, and other necessities every day for nearly a year—at its peak, 1,500 flights a day were crowding in and out of Tempelhof airport. Finally, in May 1949, the Soviets gave up and lifted the blockade.

    The airlift was an extraordinary act of political defiance as well as an unprecedented logistical feat. But it did not overcome the contradiction that was Berlin. Increasingly, East Germans voted with their feet. By 1960, a thousand people a day were fleeing East Germany via Berlin. Walter Ulbricht, the GDR’s Communist dictator, pleaded with Nikita Kruschev to do something to staunch the flow of human capital. The following summer, Kruschev, having taken the measure of JFK and his lieutenants, decided to close the border. At a dinner on August 12, he gleefully announced to his companions: “We’re going to close Berlin. We’ll just put up serpentine barbed wire and the West will stand there, like dumb sheep.”

    Work began at midnight. The Russian soldiers had been told to withdraw if challenged. But no challenge came from JFK’s ovine entourage. In the succeeding months, the barbed wire was replaced by masonry and metal. The wall gradually encircled the whole of West Berlin. Some three-hundred guard towers punctuated the wall. A second, inner wall sprang up. The “death strip” between was mined and booby-trapped. Guard dogs accompanied the soldiers on their rounds. Erich Honecker, who replaced Ulbricht in 1971, issued a shoot-on-sight order. Somewhere between a hundred and two hundred people were killed trying to scale, or tunnel under, the wall, another 1,000 trying to flee elsewhere from East Germany. For Honecker, it was  a small price to pay. Between 1949 and 1962, some two and a half million people had fled East Germany to the West. From 1962 to 1989, his draconian measures reduced the flood to a trickle of 5,000.

Friday, June 18, 2021


 This book does not seek to rival the works of professional historians. It aims rather to present a personal view on the processes whereby English-speaking peoples throughout the world have achieved their distinctive position and character. I write about the things in our past that appear significant to me, and I do so as one not without some experience of historical and violent events in our own time. I use the term “English-speaking peoples” because there is no other that applies both to the inhabitants of the British Isles and to those independent nations who derive their beginnings, their speech, and many of their institutions from England, and who now preserve, nourish, and develop them in their own ways.

This first volume traces the story of the English-speaking peoples from the earliest times to the eve of the European discovery of the New World. It concludes upon the field of Bosworth, the last battle of the tumultuous English Middle Ages. The year is 1485, and a new dynasty has just mounted the English throne. Seven years later Columbus landed in the Americas, and from this date, 1492, a new era in the history of mankind takes its beginnings.

Our story centres in an island, not widely sundered from the Continent, and so tilted that its mountains lie all to the west and north, while south and east is a gently undulating landscape of wooded valleys, open downs, and slow rivers. It is very accessible to the invader, whether he comes in peace or war, as pirate or merchant, conqueror or missionary. Those who dwell there are not insensitive to any shift of power, any change of faith, or even fashion, on the mainland, but they give to every practice, every doctrine that comes to it from abroad, its own peculiar turn and imprint. A province of the Roman Empire, cut off and left to sink or swim in the great convulsion of the Dark Ages; reunited to Christendom, and almost torn away from it once more by the heathen Dane; victorious, united, but exhausted, yielding, almost without resistance, to the Norman Conqueror; submerged, it might seem, within the august framework of Catholic feudalism, was yet capable of reappearing with an individuality of its own. Neither its civilisation nor speech is quite Latin nor quite Germanic. It possesses a body of custom which, whatever its ultimate sources may be—folkright brought from beyond the seas by Danes, and by Saxons before them, maxims of civil jurisprudence culled from Roman codes—is being welded into one Common Law. This is England in the thirteenth century, the century of Magna Carta, and of the first Parliament.

Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Vol. 1: The Birth of Britain. RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Monday, June 14, 2021


“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson

[West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,
319 U.S. 624 (1943)]    

Friday, June 11, 2021


Fighting critical race theory and indoctrination in our schools—Welcome to my first newsletter

Andrew Gutmann

June 11, 2021

It has been a whirlwind 7 weeks since my letter to the parents of my daughter’s New York City private school, Brearley, went viral. To me, it feels like 7 years have gone by. I had no expectation that the letter would be read by any more than the 1,300 or so parents to whom I mailed it. It has apparently been read by millions. The sole purpose of the letter was to encourage other Brearley parents to speak up to fight the school’s illiberal, racist and indoctrinating initiatives. I never expected my letter to light a match on the issue of critical race theory (CRT) across the country, nor did I expect to become a national spokesperson for these issues. But that is what has happened. I promise to continue to write, to speak out, and to help organize parents in this crucial battle over the proper education of our children, and for the soul of our country.

The first thing I want to do in this newsletter is to thank the many thousands of people who have written to me over the past several weeks. I would have liked to have responded to everyone who wrote me, but I quickly realized that was impossible. I have, however, read every single word of every single email and message that has been sent to me. And I will continue to do so and to respond to as many people as I can!

Many of the people who have written to me have shared a similar message. They feel newly emboldened to speak up for their children. This is happening. We are seeing newly formed resistance to CRT across America, increased media coverage, and we have started to witness some successful pushback, especially against public school boards. But I believe we are still at the very beginning of this fight and we face enormous obstacles ahead. The speed at which the cancer of CRT has spread across the country and infiltrated our schools is both shocking and unprecedented. We need to accelerate our resistance.

The second common thread of the emails I have received is the question of “how.” How can parents fight back against CRT in their kids’ schools? How can grandparents and other concerned citizens also join this fight? This is the topic for which I’d like to focus much of the rest of this newsletter. To be clear, I don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are others who have been fighting this fight in our education system for far longer than I, in some cases, for years. What follows are just some ideas, some suggestions, some thoughts.

As we travel this road together, some of these ideas will crystallize into actionable initiatives, others may not. But one thing that has become abundantly clear to me is that we need to fight CRT with as many resources as possible, and on many different levels. Make no mistake, this is a fight. And this is a fight we are currently losing. But we have not lost, and we have two things in our favor.

One, we are not alone! The majority of Americans, of both political parties, now understand the damage that critical race theory is doing to our children, to our education system, and to our country. True, many have been bullied into silence given the fear of being called a racist and because of the cancel culture that has enveloped our country. We must fix that so the voice of the majority is once again heard. But make no mistake, the numbers are on our side.

Two, we are on the side of good. We stand for our children, for their mental health, and for their proper education. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the freedom for parents to hold the responsibility of teaching morality to their children. We believe that skin color, race and ethnicity should have no bearing on our laws or on individual achievement. And we believe that our country, while by no means without flaws, has been, and continues to be, the beacon of liberty and opportunity to the rest of the world.

The proponents of critical race theory stand for fear and for indoctrination. They argue against free speech and critical thinking. They aim to shut down conversation and stifle debate. They are proponents of toxic Marxism and segregating divisiveness. If we follow their path, we risk the fracturing and ultimately the ruin of America.

Fighting CRT Locally

Much of the fight against critical race theory must be accomplished locally, and through grassroots efforts. There are many things that parents can do. First, try to find other parents that are also willing to speak out. If one doesn’t exist, form a local parent group. There is always strength in numbers, and you will be surprised how many parents feel as you do. Write letters to your schools, school boards and to elected officials. Ask (or demand) meetings with school principals and school administrations to find out what is really being taught in your children’s schools, and to voice your displeasure. File freedom of information act (FOIA) requests. Run for your local school board. Speak out at city council meetings.

These are just a handful of things you can do to make your voice heard, and to begin to effectuate change. There are a number of organizations that have recently sprouted up to help parents fight critical race theory, divisive and anti-intellectual diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and indoctrination in our schools. Two that I would like to highlight are Parents Defending Education and the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR). Both have substantial resources on their websites to help parents. FAIR is also setting up local chapters all across the United States.

Fighting CRT Nationally

I believe that in addition to fighting at the school and school district level, we need to also be fighting critical race theory on the state and national level. Some organizations are already doing this through legislative efforts. Here are a number of initiatives I think we need to start in order to win the battle against CRT. I have begun to focus on several of these and will provide updates in future newsletters.

Social Network for Parents

One of the biggest problems in the fight against CRT in our schools is mobilizing parents, especially given the fear of being publicly outed on this issue. We need a new social network that will allow like-minded parents within a school, or within a school district to connect with each other privately. There must be functionality to collect signatures for letters and petitions, to organize meetings, and for parents to anonymously post documents and messages about the curriculum being taught in schools. We also need a common place to aggregate all of the small parent groups that have recently formed to fight CRT. With a single platform for parents to connect with each other locally (separate from existing social media platforms), we can harness the collective power of millions of parents.

#DefundCRT - National Donor Strike

It seems that the best (and perhaps the only) way to convey a strong message to private K-12 schools and universities is through their fundraising efforts and endowments. To that end, we need a national donor strike against every private K-12 school, college, university, arts organization and religious organization that teaches or espouses critical race theory. We must cut off the funding for these institutions. #DefundCRT.

Boycotts of companies

As most of us now know, critical race theory is not just a problem in our schools, but has become pervasive in our workplaces and in corporate boardrooms, due to the overwhelming cowardice of our business leaders. We need to start boycotting each and every company that tries to indoctrinate their employees, hires diversity and equity officers or consultants, and terminates, punishes, or cancels employees because of their political views. Write letters and use social media to get the message to these companies. Contact their investor relations and customer service departments. And for public companies, divest your stock. We must also find a way to protect and reward whistle blowers.

Coordinated State Protests

Over this summer, we need coordinated demonstrations in the state capitals of all 50 states to protest against critical race theory being adopted in public school curriculums. These protests must be non-political and must include parents as well as educators. We must get the message to governors of both political parties that they are personally responsible for the destruction of public education, for damaging our children, and for compromising the future of our country due to divisive, anti-intellectual and Marxist teachings.

Building New Private Schools

It has become devastatingly apparent that our education system has failed us. I believe we need a massive philanthropic effort to build new, affordable private schools all across this country. These schools do not have to be fancy. They just need to teach proper history, civics, science and critical thinking. Such schools should be available to any family that values the education of their children, regardless of income. We must break the public school monopoly in this country. Charter schools, which have been oases of quality for many minority and underprivileged kids, are near impossible to start in many Democratic-led states.

National Civil Rights Movement

We need a new non-partisan civil rights movement focused on returning our country to the color-blind and race-blind ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We are not black or brown or white in this country. We are humans and we are Americans. We must stop the divisive hyper-focus on race that will inevitably lead to ethnic strife and quite possibly will result in a fracturing of our country.

NYC Homeschooling Pods / Co-ops

I have spoken with many parents desperate to pull their kids out of private or public schools in New York City but feel there is nowhere else to go. There is somewhere else to go: homeschooling pods/co-ops. I have been in contact with a number of parents who have set up such co-ops and I would like to help connect New York City parents interested in having their children joining such a group for the 2021-2022 school year. If you are interested, please use the contact form on this page.

Funding and Donations

A large number of you who have contacted me have offered me financial support in the fight against critical race theory. For that, I am incredibly grateful. However, I have been reluctant to take donations until I have a clear idea of how the money will be used. I am still in the process of figuring out what existing organizations with which to get involved and what efforts to start from scratch. But I am getting closer to those answers. I will almost certainly start taking donations soon through a 501(c)(3) that I will start. I will provide more information soon.

Getting in touch

My plan is to write a newsletter at least once per month, or more often if I have news to share. If you are interested, this link lists some of my media appearances and articles that I have written. You can always contact me through my website: or email me at I look forward to hearing your comments, suggestions and thoughts on how to win this fight for education and against CRT.

Please also tell your friends!

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Thursday, June 10, 2021


An Interview with Robert Nasson: The National History Club

June 9, 2021 by

Michael F Shaughnessy

  1. Robert, can you first tell our readers a bit about your education and experiences?

I majored in political science at Wesleyan University and have always had a deep passion for history, especially United States history. I think a big part of this is that I grew up in Lexington, MA, so I can remember going to the re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington early in the morning with my family. 

  1. How did the National History Club come about? 

The National History Club was formed in March 2002 to promote the reading, writing, discussion, and enjoyment of history at the secondary school level. It was created under the banner of The Concord Review, and was the idea of Will Fitzhugh, Founder and Editor.

  1. Currently how many members or chapters do you have? 

We have had over 600 chapters join the NHC and there are currently around 18,000 student members.

  1. Is there one in each of the 50 states? 

We wish! We are still missing Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, and South Dakota.

  1. Now, currently what kinds of projects are these clubs involved with at this time? 

Since we don’t limit the types of activities clubs can participate in it creates for a really wide-range of activities. Some of these include visiting local historical sites and museums, inviting in guest speakers, oral history projects recording veterans in their community, and much more. This year due to COVID, we even launched a monthly speakers series, where we had various figures who shared their experiences with our members through Zoom. They included a Medal of Honor winner and one of the Freedom Riders from the Civil Rights Movement.

  1. As a former history teacher- I know how hard it is to decide what should be taught, who should be taught and what was involved with various historical events. What is your position on this? 

That’s the toughest question these days! I would say this: a history teacher’s responsibility isn’t just to teach their students the material in their class, but rather get them passionate about history to continue learning about it even once they leave that class. There is just too much history to teach it in a one-year class.

For example, my AP US History teacher instilled in me a love of history my junior year of high school. There was so much that I learned—and also didn’t learn—because it’s impossible to go from colonial America to modern day U.S. in just a one year class. But she taught history in such an easy-to-digest manner, that I was hooked and have been interested in it ever since.

  1. Now, I was not living in 1776—but I know that people were born into that time frame- when slavery did exist—can we hold some new-born baby born on the 4th of July 1776—for the fact that their family owned slaves? 

Sorry, trying to fully understand this question. Are you saying hold that newborn baby responsible for the fact that his family owned slaves?

If so, I don’t think we can hold that person responsible seeing how she was just born at that time and his/her family owned slaves. However, I find it intellectually lazy if people don’t want to acknowledge the inherited advantage that slave owners had over slaves, which repercussions are still felt to this day. So, while I don’t believe in blaming these people, I also don’t want to dismiss their inherited advantage. I know I’m generalizing here but I think you’ll understand my point. 

  1. In your mind, what are some of the most contentious issues facing historians today?   

I’d say stretching the truth to make history seem more exciting. I think we often see this in movies and sometimes books (especially biographies), where people take liberties to spruce up a story. History should be the most accurate representation of an event as possible, whether you like the outcome or not. 

  1. What exactly are you trying to accomplish with these history clubs?  

Simply getting middle and high school students further interested in history outside the classroom. Again, I don’t think it’s possible to become extremely knowledgeable about history based on one U.S. or World history class. It’s a constant reading of books, visiting sites, watching documentaries that makes one competent. Students that know history are better citizens as well, and are able to sift through the latest news with a more keen eye. That’s especially important these days in the age of 24-7 news coverage and such a polarized society.

  1. What have I neglected to ask? 

Nothing more on my end—thanks so much!


Wednesday, June 2, 2021


Dictatorship of Virtue
Richard Bernstein
New York: Vantage, 1994
Excerpts from the Prologue

I remember a scholar of China talking years ago about the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which raged in that country in the late 1960s and 1970s. Certainly, he said, the term referred to something momentous happening in China, but whatever it was was not Great, it was not Proletarian, it had nothing to do with Culture, and it was certainly not a Revolution. Similarly with multiculturalism. It does not have the kind of consistent or coherent set of ideas behind it to make it an ism exactly. That prefix “multi” is, yes, applicable in theory, but in practice it is often a mask for what would more accurately be called “mono.” Most important, multiculturalism has no more to do with with culture than the Cultural Revolution did…

There are clues to these questions among the self-proclaimed multiculturalists themselves. They rarely, at least as I have gotten to know them, know much about culture at all and even more rarely about anyone else’s culture. There are interesting and worthy and certainly very well-intentioned people within the ranks of what I will call the ideological multiculturalists. And yet their lack of curiosity about the real cultural richness of the world, or their reduction of that richness to a few rhapsodic clich├ęs, seems to confirm that culture is not really what is at issue in multiculturalism. 
At best, the ideological multiculturalists reiterate a few obsessively sincere phrases about the holistic spirit of Native American culture or about how things are done in what they call Asian culture or in the African-American culture.

The Asian culture, as it happens, is something I know a bit about
having spend five years at Harvard striving for a Ph.D. in a joint program called History and East Asian Languages and, after that, living either as a student (for one year) or a journalist (for six years) in China and Southeast Asia. At least I know enough to know that there is no such thing as the “Asian culture.” There are dozens of cultures that exist in that vast geographical domain called Asian. When the multiculturalists speak, tremulous with respect, of the “Asian culture,” it is out of goodness of heart, but not much actual knowledge.

My experience leads me to believe that insofar as culture is involved in multiculturalism, it is not so much for me to be required to learn about other cultures as for me to be able to celebrate myself and for you to be required to celebrate me, and, along the way, to support my demand for more respect, more pride of place, more jobs, more foundation support, more money, more programs, more books, more prizes, more people like me in high places, a higher degree of attention.

The paradox is that the power of culture is utterly contrary to the most fervently held beliefs and values of the advocates of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a movement of the left, emerging from the counterculture of the 1960s. But culture is powerfully conservative. Culture is what enforces obedience to authority, the authority of parents, of history, of customs, of superstition. Deep attachment fo culture is one of the things that prevents different people form understanding one another. It is what pushes groups into compliance with practices that can be good or bad, depending on one’s point of view. Suttee (the practice, eradicated by British colonialism, in which Indian widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands) and female circumcision, as well as the spirit of rational inquiry and a belief in the sanctity of each human life, are products of cultural attachments of different kinds. Those who practiced suttee, or who believe that women who commit adultery should be stoned to death, do not believe that there is anything bad about those practices, any more than those who practice rational inquiry under conditions of freedom that there is anything wrong with that.

The reality of culture is something that the ideological multiculturalists would despise, if they knew what it was. The power of culture, especially the culture rooted in ancient traditions, is anathema to the actual goal and ideology of multiculturalism, which does not seek an appreciation of other cultures but operates out of the wishful assumption that the unknown, obscure, neglected, subaltern cultures of the world are actually manifestations of a leftist ideology born out of the particular culture of American and European universities and existing practically no place else.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


from the HSSSE website at Indiana University
Published Online: September 13, 2007

Absent From Class
By Will Fitzhugh

There are many important variables to consider in evaluating the causes for academic failure or success in the high school classroom. The training of the teacher, the quality of the curriculum, school safety, the availability of books, and so on are factors studied extensively, and all of them play a part. But I would argue that the most important variable is the student’s actual level of academic work. Why do so many of our high school students do so little of that? The short answer is because they can get away with it.

A close study of the academic demands on students in the vast majority of our high school classrooms would disclose, I feel certain, that one of the principal reasons for students’ boredom is that they really have nothing to do but sit still and wait for the bell. In most classrooms, the chances of a student being called on are slight, and of being called on twice are almost non-existent. If a student is called on and has not done the required reading or other class preparation, most probably the teacher will just call on someone else. There are no real consequences for being unprepared. As a result, many, if not most, students are not capable of contributing in class—or even understanding class discussions—and that can only deepen their boredom.

By contrast, on the football or soccer field, every player is called on in every practice and in nearly every game. Even for players on the bench, there is a constant possibility that they will be asked to perform at any time. If they don’t know what to do then, the embarrassment and disapproval will be swift and obvious. The same also could be said for high school theater productions, performances of the band or chorus, participation in the model United Nations, or almost any other activity they pursue.

In extracurricular activities, the student faces a kind of peer pressure to do well that is usually lacking in the classroom. There, peers may even think it cool for another student to get away with having done no preparation. This may offer insight into findings from the 2005 Indiana University High School Survey of Student Engagement. Of the 80,000 students questioned, 49 percent indicated that they did only three to four hours a week of homework, and yet they still reported getting A’s and B’s. I cannot think of a single high school sport that asks for only three or four hours a week of practice. So little time spent preparing would easily lead to an athletic failure to match the academic failure of so many of our students.

The absence of serious academic demands on the attention and effort of students in our high school classrooms results not only in boredom and daydreaming, but also in the high levels of unproductive media time reported in a 2005 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That report found that young people spend an average of 6.3 hours a day (44.5 hours a week) with various electronic entertainment media; they’re not doing homework on the computer, merely entertaining themselves.

High school students also, for the most part, find time for an active social life, perhaps a job, and often athletics and other time-consuming hobbies and activities. But not, apparently, for academics.

While we have lots of research studies on test results, teachers’ training, per-pupil expenditures, new curricula, professional workshops, and a host of other educational topics, there is a striking need for close study of what students actually are being asked to do while they are in class. The remarkable fact to me is not that our high school dropout rate is so high, but that so little is being asked of those who do not drop out.

Some claim that if only the teacher were more brilliant or entertaining, boredom could be banished, or that the problem of student engagement could be solved if we just showed enough movies in class, gave enough PowerPoint presentations, or had enough DVDs on “relevant” subject matter on hand. But imagine how absurd it would be to expect students to stay committed to a sport in which they spent their time sitting in the stands while the coach told wonderful stories, showed great movies, or talked amusingly about his or her personal athletic history. The student-athletes come to play, as they should, and their motivation is rewarded by the chance to participate, often with sweat, strain, and even tears.

When we make so few classroom demands on students, we should not wonder why so many of them check out, or are essentially absent from class, whether sitting there or not. If nothing is asked of them, if they are not being challenged academically, then they might as well be turning their attention to other pursuits that could offer rewards greater than passivity and boredom.

The education research community should consider undertaking studies that compare the academic demands on students in the typical high school classroom with those that students face in the other activities in which they take part. Let’s try, moreover, to discover high school classrooms that resemble those in law schools or business schools, where students are expected to be prepared each day and are at risk of being called on to demonstrate that readiness at a moment’s notice. And then let’s find out how these schools motivate their students to pour the same energy and commitment they devote to games or matches into their pursuit of learning.

If we want our high school students to do more academic work, let’s try to figure out how to stop boring and ignoring them in our classes. Let’s give them better reasons not to be “absent from class.”

Will Fitzhugh is the founder and president of The Concord Review, a journal of academic writing by high school students, and the National Writing Board, both located in Sudbury, Mass. []

Vol. 27
High School Survey of Student Engagement
Indiana University