All of this was made possible by money from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who in the 1930's and 1940's invested millions in the resuscitation of what was once a sleepy, down on its luck college town. Less emphasis was put on the explication of the political principles that animated many of the town's more famous residents and visiting burgesses, and more on "life as it was." Which is not to say that visitors did not go away without a better knowledge of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and the rival Randolph and Lee families, to mention a few of the men who once were familiar with Duke of Gloucester Street, the mile-long thoroughfare between the College of William and Mary and the colonial Capitol.
Today, however, in 2007, visitors go away with less of a knowledge of those men, their causes, and their time, and a skewed one, as well - a politically correct one. The rot began to set in and spread late in the last century. What has helped to accelerate the decomposition, among other cultural and political influences, is that Colonial Williamsburg now receives federal money.
When it was a purely private, "not for profit" foundation, depending on donations, endowments, bequests and tourist revenue, it did not need to abide by the Civil Rights Act, or the Equal Opportunity Act, or any other egalitarian legislation intended to usurp and regulate private dealings between individuals and organizations, between employers and employees.
For example, now visitors leave with the impression that there were indeed female footmen and coach drivers, women coopers and carpenters, women fifers and drummers, female "militia persons," and so on, without any attempt by the Foundation or its employees to correct that impression or to even hint at the true, male-defined character of the period.
This is one consequence of taking federal bread - and having to sing the federal song. And it illustrates just one way in which the policymakers of Colonial Williamsburg contradict and ultimately betray the Foundation's decades-old mission and watchword: "That the future may learn from the past." To be willing to falsify the past is to be willing to falsify the present. George Orwell dramatized the motive behind and the consequences of that policy in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Perhaps worse than falsifying the character of the period, Colonial Williamsburg has hosted several international conferences. Presidents, queens, princes, sheiks, and demagogues have all visited the place in one capacity or another. The latest event was the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 1607. President and Laura Bush, Queen Elizabeth of England, and other dignitaries all descended on Williamsburg and Jamestown to participate in an orgy of multicultural "diversity" - designed by its organizers to underplay (and in many instances, to diminish or denigrate) the European settlement and overplay or inflate alleged Indian and African cultural contributions.
The climax of the celebration of the beginning of what the Founders more than 150 years later would deem a republic, however, will not be a recognition of that unprecedented political feat, but the "World Forum on the Future of Democracy," to take place between September 16 and 18.
According to the August 14th Colonial Williamsburg Newsletter, an employee in-house publication, "The World Forum will bring together noted international and national scholars on democracy, as well as leading government officials, political practitioners, advocates and commentators who have played a role in democracy's advance.
"The signature event of America's 400th anniversary is sponsored jointly by the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission, the College of William and Mary, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia's 'Jamestown 2007' organization.
"The Williamsburg Lodge and the College of William and Mary...will both host World Forum events. Invited guests to the World Forum Conference will be given the rare opportunity to hear a distinguished group of international speakers...
"The first full conference day will focus on [the] 'Architecture of Liberty' and will address the American framers' development of a structure for deliberative democracy, the evolution of the American system over the ensuing centuries, and the contemporary relevance of democracy in a global age." (Italics mine.)
I have news for the invited guests, the participants, the chairs, and the panelists of the Forum: the framers did no such thing. What they "structured" was a political system intended to preserve a republic, that is, a nation whose government was charged with defending and preserving individual rights against foes foreign and domestic - especially against democratically-inclined domestic ones. The Founders abhorred the idea of a democracy, which in history meant mob rule. They knew that democracy, "deliberative" or not, in most cases was an overture to tyranny by mobs or tyranny by dictators. Their papers, correspondence, and speeches bear out that abhorrence. When the Constitution was drawn up for ratification, someone asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government he and his fellow delegates had created. He answered: "A republic, if you can keep it."
But Americans haven't been able to keep it. They have lost sight of it, or surrendered it in exchange for the messy and expensive pottage of the welfare state. Most do not know the vitally defining differences between a democracy and a republic; to most of them, the terms are synonymous. We have to thank for that appalling and debilitating ignorance a federally dominated public education system dominated by bureaucrats and "educators" one of whose pernicious goals is to convert the study of ideas and the history of ideas into mere "social studies."
Lexicographers have had trouble defining the term republic. The common definition of this form of representative government (compiled here from the Oxford, Webster's, and American Heritage dictionaries) usually includes the absence of a monarch as head of state, substituting an elected president or executive, and the right of citizens to elect representatives who are responsible and answerable to the citizens.
However, the political system in the U.S. today meets only half that definition. What elected official is truly held responsible for his actions? Even if he is voted out of office or forced to resign, he can still collect a taxpayer-paid pension and avail himself of taxpayer-paid fringe benefits. He is not answerable for endorsing policies that result in the destruction of individual rights or the seizure of private property or the mortgaging of the lives of the living and the not-yet-born by voting for programs that depend on theft and deficit spending.
The typical politician is privileged to legislate, and indemnified from any ruinous consequences of his actions and policies.
Also, the meaning of the term republic has not so much been lost, as ignored. Dictatorships and theocracies have incorporated the term in the names of their slave states, e.g., the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the German Democratic Republic, and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
So, in modern practice, the term republic has become meaningless. Democracy, on the other hand, is what most collectivists and statists prefer to impose in theory and in practice. It means majority rule, or mob rule, even though in many instances the majority may be a fantasy or an illusion of its advocates or of those who believe they are in the majority.
Some notorious instances of democracy in action are: the death of Socrates, the French Revolution, and the election of the Nazi Party to power in Germany. Or, more recently, the democratically elected government of Iraq, which adopted a theocratic constitution, a democracy bought with the lives of thousands of American soldiers. (President Bush's attitude? "So be it, if that's what they want, it was democratically done.") All of these instances of democracy were "deliberated," as well.
Like the defenders of Communism in the past, advocates of democracy contend that the system has been given a bad reputation by artless practitioners or just plain bad luck, that it would be an ideal form of government if only the "right" individuals oversaw its implementation. Its poor and often criminal record is blamed on inconducive circumstances, corruption, and other incidental or irrelevant factors - never on its fundamental nature.
Majority rule, moreover, recognizes no absolute principles necessary to ensure the freedom and legitimate rights of individuals. This was a major concern of the Founders, who, within the limit of their knowledge (which was demonstrably wider and deeper than that of modern politicians), labored to ban democracy from the Constitution. Under democracy, absolute principles, founded on the nature of man, are the enemy of the advocates of "social progress" and "political evolution." The rights of minorities, or even the minorities themselves, can be sacrificed for the good of the whole. Or, a minority with political pull can subjugate a majority through the influence of a bloc of ambitious, venal legislators (e.g., the 18th Amendment, or the Volstead Act).
What is deliberative democracy, that is, what the Founders did not "structure"? One can only guess that it means that instead of instant mob rule, the mob and its leaders stop to talk about it first, to devise the best means of imposing their wishes with the least amount of debate or conflict, before putting individual rights on the tumbrel of legislation for a trip to the guillotine.
The roll call of organizations and individuals participating in the World Forum on the Future of Democracy is largely answered by doe-eyed altruists and professional and career do-gooders. It is complemented by a cohort of political has-beens (such as Charles Robb, former U.S senator from Virginia and its former governor, William P. Barr, 77th Attorney General and now executive vice president and general counsel of Verizon, and retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor), scholars of the people management and one-worlder globalization stripes, and a few odd couples. Leftist news editor and anchor James C. Lehrer of PBS will moderate some of the panels and two historians, Gordon Wood of Brown University and Joseph Ellis of Mount Holyoke College, both Pulitzer Prize authors, are also scheduled to appear as speakers and panelists.
The World Forum's list of panel topics is a litany of collectivist causes and statist concerns: "Developing a Structure for Deliberative Democracy - The Framers' Debate" - "Has America Kept the Faith? Is it Working?" - "Are America's Founding Principles Relevant in a Global Age?" - "Terrorism and Security" - "Protecting Religious Freedom and Minority Rights" - "World Markets" - "Sustainable Development."
Among the organizations represented at the Forum are:
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government entity established in 2004, charged with reducing global poverty through the promotion of sustainable growth. It receives an annual Congressional appropriation. "Reducing global poverty" was not what the Founders had in mind when they were "structuring" our alleged democracy. "Sustainable" growth or development, moreover, means the transfer of wealth, private or taxpayer extorted, from a free, prosperous country to an unfree, poor one, as long as the free, prosperous one can sustain its productivity under the twin burdens of regulation and taxation.
- The Aspen Institute, which, according to its website, "is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue...The Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation of timeless values." The rest of its mission statement is just as woozily worded and is a pæan to cultural relativism and sensitivity training. One may suppose that political freedom is a "timeless value" appreciated by the principals of the Institute, but is not much defended by them. To defend it as a non-negotiable value would be "close-minded."
- CIVICUS, or the "World Alliance for Citizen Participation," dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. Its "vision" is "a worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity." This is also woozy. Perhaps the U.S.-Iranian talks are an example of "civil engagement."
- First Peoples Worldwide, "a project of the Tides Center...the only international organization led by Indigenous Peoples and dedicated to the mission of promoting Indigenous economic determination and strengthening Indigenous communities through asset control and the dissemination of knowledge." Which means: keeping the "indigenous" down on the farm and dependent on aid. If these people weren't kept poor, would the do-gooders have anything else to do?
- Winrock International, "a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to increase economic opportunity, sustain natural resources, and protect the environment...By linking local individuals and communities with new ideas and technology, Winrock is increasing long-term productivity, equity, and responsible resource management to benefit the poor and disadvantaged of the world." And all those new ideas and the technology come from individuals who fortunately didn't merit Winrock's compassionate attention.
- Mortara Center for International Studies (Georgetown University), which apparently specializes in "conflict management" and resolving disputes without passing moral judgment on the conflicting parties. Its mission is "to advance scholarship and inform policy by combining the expertise of scholars and the experiences of international affairs practitioners." The Mortara Center is a creature of Georgetown's School of Foreign Service. Well, look at the sorry record of U.S. diplomacy over the last half-century.
- The Cohen Group, a Washington "business" lobby headed by former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, and staffed chiefly by high-ranking retired military men. "Our Principals," says its website, "bring centuries of experience [that expression, "centuries of experience," is absolutely meaningless] at the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department, and Congress....The Cohen Group's reach extends internationally where our Principals have developed great expertise and relationships with key political, economic and business leaders and acquired valuable experience with the individuals and institutions that affect our clients' success abroad." One couldn't understate it better. The shorthand and more honest term for all that expertise and experience is "political pull." On TCG's website also are several "success stories," which are nonpareil examples of résumé padding, puffery, and circumlocution.
Several of the individuals who will appear as speakers or panelists deserve particular attention.
Carol J. Lancaster, director of the Mortara Center, and currently teaching courses on political leadership, the politics and economics of development and ethics, and global development at Georgetown, has made a career of rationalizing in a scholarly manner the disastrous policy of U.S. foreign aid.
Jessica P. Einhorn, dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, took that position after retiring from public careers with the World Bank, the U.S. State and Treasury Departments, and the U.S. International Development Corporation Agency. Nominally an "economist," she had stints with the International Monetary Fund and the Brookings Institute. She is a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and a director of the Institute for International Economics, the Center for Global Development, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. This is a "brainy" Hillary Clinton.
Martha Crenshaw is the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor of Global Issues and Democratic Thought, and also Professor of Government at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. (Colin Campbell is president of Colonial Williamsburg.) She is a kind of scholarly "peacenik." She has made a career of analyzing and writing about terrorism, but in terms that treat the subject as a kind of jigsaw puzzle or computer program, sans any moral judgment of terrorists or of states that sponsor terrorism.
She contributed a chapter, "Coercive Diplomacy and the Response to Terrorism" to a book published by the U.S. Institute of Peace Press, The United States and Coercive Diplomacy and several other papers to similarly titled works and the quarterly Foreign Affairs. Among her many, many liberal credits are her memberships on the Committee on Law and Justice and the Committee on (wait for it!) Determining Basic Research Needs to Interrupt the Improvised Explosive Device Delivery Chain of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science.
Here is a sample of her writing from her article, "Thoughts on Relating Terrorism to Historical Contexts," in a book she edited, Terrorism in Context:
In answer to the question of the consequences of terrorism, she wrote:
"The impact of terrorism is often lost in a tide of sensational exaggerations. Furthermore, terrorism shapes interactions among political actors over long periods of time through a dynamic process in which violence alters the conditions under which it initially occurs. Many consequences are unintended, but it is rare that terrorism (or, more frequently, the government's reaction to terrorism) does not alter political institutions, values, and behavior as well as the functioning of society."That is her "disinterested" style and perspective, to view terrorism and reactions to it as no better than competing nests of ants that raid each other. One supposes that she regards the reporting of the murder of 3,000 people, mostly Americans, on 9/11, as an instance of sensational exaggeration. Among other things, according to the Wesleyan website, Crenshaw is a former President and Councilor of the International Society of Political Psychology. "Political psychology"? Not political principles, or political ideas?
Which brings me to what initially startled me when I read the list of World Forum participants. Two of the panel topics, mentioned above, are "Terrorism and Security" and "Protecting Religious Freedom and Minority Rights."
Not coincidentally, two individuals who won't be at odds either are retired Coast Guard Admiral James M. Loy, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005 (and now senior counselor for The Cohen Group), and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, and formerly a director of the Islamic Circle of North America.
Loy, who also served as chief operating officer for the Transportation Security Administration, will probably chair or moderate the panel on terrorism and security. He got masters degrees in history/government and public administration from Wesleyan in Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island, and was an intern at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. So one can be certain that he will not be saying that President Bush has made a mess of things, that we are losing the so-called "war on terror," and that the solution is to eradicate states that sponsor terrorism - Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria.
No, he will probably advocate that to frustrate "radical militants" bent on launching another attack on U.S. soil, the U.S. be turned into a more thorough police state than the DHS and TSA already has, and that we extend a hand of friendship to Islam. Islam, after all, is a "peaceful" religion. Loy would not be a part of the World Forum if he were not soft (or soft-headed) on Islamism, Islamofascism, or whatever other name Islamic jihad goes by.
The Islamic Society of North America claims over two million members. Its affiliated organization, the Islamic Circle of North America, claims near two million members, and Dr. Mattson was also a director of it, as well. These organizations, like CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations), MPAC (the Muslim Public Affairs Council), and others that pass as "moderate" or "mainstream" Muslim organizations, practice what can be called "stealth" jihad. (Steve Emerson, an authority on Islamism and jihad, calls this policy "cultural jihad.")
Instead of resorting to violence to punish infidels or send them running into a state of siege (as President Bush has done), American Islamists apply "reverse" assimilation, that is, coaxing or beguiling a host country into accepting Islam on its own terms, terms that are defined by the Koran and Sharia law. To question those terms - indeed, to criticize any facet of Islam - is to risk accusations of "hate speech," racism, bigotry, or religious discrimination or intolerance.
The ISNA, however, is a Saudi-funded Islamic group and preaches the Wahhabist version of Islam. That makes it as bad and as dangerous as CAIR, which in 1993 began as and remains the American branch of Hamas. Neither the Circle nor the Society has hidden its agenda, which is to turn the U.S. into an Islamic nation. For example, the goal of the Circle, stated on its website, is:
"...the establishment of Islam in all spheres of life. ICNA has many projects, programs, and activities which are designed to help in the process of molding the individual and reforming society at large."The Society's vision, stated on its website, is:
"To be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America that contributes to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large.""Society at large" means all non-Muslims. "All spheres of life" means their conversion to Islam, or their acceptance of the status of dhimmi-hood in a Muslim society.
Mattson, like her colleagues at CAIR and MPAC, presents the "soft face" of militant Islam. Last year she objected to President Bush's use of the term "Islamic fascism." In an Associated Press report of September 1, 2006, she "acknowledged that terrorist groups 'do misuse and use Islamic concepts and terms to justify their violence. But I think that when we then bestow that term upon them we only make the situation worse and somehow give validity to their claims which we need to deny and reject.'"
She probably added, sotto voce, "But only for the time being, while we talk these fools into giving us the rope with which we will subjugate or hang them." Mattson got her Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the University of Chicago, which meant, among other things, mastering the art of verisimilitude. The Islamic term for it is taqiya, sanctioned by Mohammed as a means of conquest.
Last year her ICNA also declared itself as being against suicide bombings, except if they are directed against Jews. Mattson doubtless will participate on the "Religious Freedom and Minority Rights" panel.
For an eye-opening panel discussion on the duplicitous means and ends of American Islamic organizations, including those mentioned above, and of the culpability of many of its officials - not to mention the delusions of most of our elected officials and the news media - the reader is directed to a FrontPageMagazine article of February 24, 2006, "Victory over Terror?" The chief panelists are Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, and Phyllis Chesler, all authorities on Islamism and its jihadists, foreign and domestic.
I have not dwelt here on the role of the College of William and Mary as a host for the Forum here, for it is a state university and as guilty as virtually any other school of indoctrinating its students with an anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-reason ideas. Its faculty is largely staffed with teachers of the same philosophical and political ilk of the Forum's participants.
As a measure of how ubiquitous and uncontroversial is the notion in the news media that the U.S. was founded as and intended to be a "democracy," the Newport News Daily Press, on September 1, under the headline "The 400th's Last Hurrah," simply wondered if former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and former British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, all designated honorary co-chairs of the Forum, will actually attend.
That is the composition and character of the upcoming World Forum on the Future of Democracy. Given that composition and character, one might have expected the principals of Colonial Williamsburg to view the theme of "democracy" of such a "summit" with opprobrium, and resolve to vigorously discredit its thematic link to Jamestown.
In conclusion, if Colonial Williamsburg is willing to falsify the past, and water down its presentation of the political ideas of the Founders, or filter them through the strainer of political correctness, and see nothing wrong in it - it's just a matter of subjective interpretation, don't you know - it should not be surprising that it would lend its venue to a forum that will promulgate a false state of the world, together with false solutions to perceived or imaginary crises and issues - and see nothing wrong in that, either.
The powers of Colonial Williamsburg do not know the difference between democracy and republicanism - between mob rule and individual rights-based liberty, between a leviathan state and limited government - or do not care to know the difference, as long as Colonial Williamsburg is in the public relations limelight.