NEVER NOT EVIL:

Frederick Douglass our “Glorious Liberty Document” (David Livingstone, 2/20/24, Voegelin View)


Also ignored is the assertion by Alexander Stephens in 1861 when he became the Vice President of the Confederate States that the consensus among the American founders was that slavery was a moral wrong. Indeed, the reason the Confederacy was formed, Stephens makes clear, was to get out from under what he regarded as the Declaration’s moral error and to assert what he believed to be the contrary truth: that all men are not created equal. “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man;” This can mean only one thing. That the plain meaning of the Declaration of Independence’s equality clause is the opposite principle to the one upon which Stephens wishes to base the Confederate States upon—and so the Declaration positively affirms the equality of all men “yes white men as well as black men,” as Martin Luther King Jr. famously said in 1964. The pro-slavery position that Hannah-Jones attributes to the framers is what Stephens openly rejects. He opposes the framers’ sincere intentions as expressed in the Declaration:


The prevailing ideas entertained by him [Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. (Stephens)

As far as Stephens was concerned—and he was willing to lay his life on the line to defend his view—the founders were sincere when they said all men were created equal. This was precisely the problem as far as he was concerned; had they been insincere there would have been little reason to separate from the Union and launch a civil war.

EMBRACE THE HOBGOBLIN:

Wrestling With the Founding in the Culture Wars (Thomas W. Merrill, 1/11/24, Law & Liberty)

Thomas Jefferson was weirder and more complex than our political discourse today can easily acknowledge. Consider these two facts. On the one hand, Jefferson was, as we might say today, French Revolution adjacent. He was sympathetic to the revolution for a long time, perhaps longer than we today feel comfortable with. In a well-known letter to William Short in 1793, Jefferson praised, or at least accepted, the violence of the revolution as necessary for the cause of human freedom. On the other hand, at the end of his life, Jefferson was Southern secessionist adjacent. The whole point of the famous letter to John Holmes of 1820, sometimes called the “wolf by the ear” letter, is that if Congress tried to regulate slavery in the territories, the Southern states would break the Union. Contrary to Abraham Lincoln’s later appeals to a “founding consensus” on slavery in the territories, carefully crafted for his political audiences, Jefferson thought and argued that slavery should in fact spread throughout the territories.

This Jefferson makes us feel uncomfortable. How can you describe a figure who wrote the Declaration of Independence, sympathized with the radical parts of the French Revolution, and yet still ended up in a place close to what the proslavery South became? We don’t have a name for this. Jefferson continues to frustrate our desire for clear political categories.

What are we to make of this? Perhaps this observation might help. For most of us, the first word that comes to mind when we hear the name Jefferson is “hypocrite.” And of course, it is hard to argue with that, for all the reasons that we already know. The man wrote the Declaration, but owned slaves; he orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase against his narrow interpretation of executive power; the list goes on. At the same time, the word hypocrite doesn’t really do justice to the Jefferson phenomenon. For one thing, hypocrite leads us to think about the situation largely in terms of personal moral behavior, as though it were simply a matter of someone preaching one thing in public but acting differently in private. Now, there is a dimension of Jefferson’s actions that fits this—think of Sally Hemings.

But there’s another word that fits Jefferson better. That word is tragedy or grand self-contradiction. In tragedy, precisely at the moment when he becomes himself most fully, the hero also undermines everything he holds highest.

THE SOURCES OF THE lONG wAR:

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke vs. Thomas Paine : a review of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right by Yuval Levin (Shaun Rieley, July 2014, Imaginative Conservative)

Paine was, of course, a great champion of the American Revolution – his tract Common Sense was seminal in igniting popular opinion in favor of the Revolution – and went on to be an important supporter of the French Revolution as well. Burke, on the other hand, was a supporter of the American Revolution, but when the French Revolution began in 1789, Burke became one of its most vocal critics, penning Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790. What caused this divergence, and how did that philosophical divergence lead to the divisions in our modern political debates? That is the question that Mr. Levin explores in the book. […]

Paine’s case, Mr. Levin argues, rests on several assumptions regarding the possibility of human freedom – understood in a particular way – and the nature of knowledge. Paine follows social contract theorists Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, arguing that it is possible to know through reason what man in the state of nature was like, and thereby, the rights which he possesses in that state, and this knowledge becomes the baseline for any judgment regarding the justice of any law, and the legitimacy of any political arrangement. Thus, the individual – applying judgment through reason – becomes the basis for all social relationships. Choice becomes paramount, and obligations are only binding in so far as the individual chooses to be bound – presumably, through a rational judgment. The heart of Paine’s political philosophy, says Mr. Levin, is his understanding of rights and choice.

Burke, on the other hand, builds his moral and political philosophy around “obligations not chosen but nevertheless binding” (p. 102). “An enormous portion of Burke’s (and the conservative) worldview,” says Mr. Levin, “becomes clearer in light of the importance he places on the basic facts and character of human procreation, and an enormous portion of Paine’s (and the progressive) worldview becomes clearer in light of the desire he evinces to be liberated from the implications of those facts. Almost all of what we loosely call “the social issues” have to do with the dispute about whether such liberation is possible and desirable…” (p. 103).

The Anglosphere was able to avoid the Continent’s utopian disasters precisely because we never succumbed to Reason and the denial of human nature.

A REPUBLIC, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT:

Federal Regulations: The “Administrative State” in Context (Federalism Index Project)

Federal agencies are tasked by Congress to create rules (“administrative laws”), which have the effect of law. Each year, regulatory agencies produce a significantly higher number of rules than laws passed by Congress. According to regulations scholar and historian Clyde Wayne Crews, agencies, rather than elected Congressional officials now do the vast majority of lawmaking today – raising questions not only about the economic cost of regulation, but the constitutionality of the regulatory process as it has evolved over time. Crews has monitored the number of rules passed in relation to laws, and produced a measure which he terms – somewhat playfully – “the Unconstitutionality Index.”

The Unconstitutionality Index measures the ratio of rules issued by agencies relative to laws passed by Congress and signed by the president. The following chart is based on Crews’ original research, and provides a summary view of public laws as a ratio of final rules. While Crews acknowledges that his formula is “somewhat lighthearted” and that there are “unavoidable complexities” in trying to measure the Unconstitutionality of rules, his work does provide empirical validation of the claim that there has been a significant shift in lawmaking from Congress to agencies.

In the last decade, there have been – on average – 22 final rules for every law passed by Congress and signed by the President:

How many regulations?

Measuring and tracking the real size or growth of regulatory activity over time has proved to be difficult. In part, this is because researchers lack consistent measures across time and across jurisdictions. In 2014, researchers at George Mason University published a database that attempted to quantify federal regulation, using the best available data going back to 1970. Using a novel method they termed “restrictions analysis”, the authors created a tool that helps to give a sense of the volume of regulatory restrictions. As the following chart shows, the total number of restrictions in the Code of Federal Regulations more than doubled from 1970 to 2022:

DEFERENCE IS AN ASSAULT ON THE CONSTITUTION:

Reconsidering Chevron Deference: Implications for Tech Policy (Daniel Lyons, February 01, 2024, AEIdeas)

As AEI Senior Fellow Adam White recently explained, one byproduct of a strong Chevron Doctrine is regulatory uncertainty. Every four to eight years, the White House changes hands, bringing new agency officials that often use Chevron to undo the work of their predecessors. The whipsaw effect of such changes can be economically disruptive and at some point erodes fundamental rule of law values.


Broadband regulation could be Exhibit A in support of White’s point. In 2005, the Supreme Court upheld a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision that broadband is an “information service” subject to light-touch regulation under the Telecommunications Act, rather than a “telecommunications service” subject to Title II common carrier regulation. But a decade later, the FCC changed its mind, reclassifying broadband under Title II to justify its net neutrality rules—only to reverse itself again in 2018 by a new FCC determined to repeal those rules. In each case, Chevron mandated that courts defer to the agency’s decision, even though this means endorsing the idea that the same statutory language meant the opposite of what it meant a few years ago. Unsurprisingly, after a change in administration the new FCC is poised to change its mind yet again later this year.

One might think it a perk that agencies have the flexibility to shape doctrine in response to political feedback. But presidential elections are noisy signals. Is a vote for Joe Biden expressing a specific desire for strong net neutrality rules, as opposed to immigration reform, worker rights, or simply a distaste for Donald Trump? It’s hard to draw definitive conclusions about voters’ views on specific policy questions.

And the resulting instability imposes significant costs on society. Regulatory uncertainty chills investment: Shareholders are less willing to invest capital in new networks if a changing legal environment casts doubts on their expected rate of return. Wireless companies may be reluctant to explore cutting-edge innovation like network slicing if regulators could limit its usefulness going forward. And consumer protection waxes and wanes, sometimes inadvertently, as when the FCC’s Title II classification stripped the Federal Trade Commission of authority to apply privacy rules to broadband providers as it does the rest of the economy.

DECLARATIVE:

Why America Is Both Democracy and Republic: Jay Cost speaks with Ben Klutsey about America’s identity as a democratic republic and the value of building consensus (BEN KLUTSEY, JAN 26, 2024, Discourse)


KLUTSEY: Now, going back to the earlier part of this conversation: When I asked you about who this book is for, you mentioned the critics on the left. The question here is, Is the Constitution too old and anachronistic? It gets a lot of criticisms from those on the left who seek changes to advance justice from their perspective. I think we’re getting a lot of criticisms from the right as well. You have the emergence of the post-liberals, who seek to abandon some aspects of our tradition.

Ultimately, I wanted to ask you to reflect a little bit on that critique about whether the Constitution is too old and anachronistic. Basically, what do the authors of the 1619 Project get right about the critiques of the Constitution?

COST: Yes, that is a good question. I do think that when people complain about the age of the Constitution, they’re being selective in their complaints. There are lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of things that are very old that they like. A good example of this is how many critics of the Constitution are operating from within the university system. The university system is a holdover from the medieval—they have professorships. That’s a holdover from medieval guilds.

I think to say that something is bad because it’s old or outdated, in and of itself, is specious reasoning. I don’t think anybody wants to play that game because, sooner or later, there’s going to be something old that they really like. Likewise, the idea of a jury of your peers: Everybody likes a jury of your peers. Nobody’s got a problem with a jury of your peers. The phrase “a jury of your peers” traces back to Magna Carta, which is quite a bit older than the Constitution, right? So just identifying the age of the Constitution as inherently being problematic, I think, is specious reasoning.

I do think, with respect to the 1619 Project, I do think that there is a tendency among conservatives … The post-liberal right, let’s put a pin in them for a minute. I’ll get back to them in a minute. I think that there is a tendency among conservatives to turn the Constitution into a kind of American version of the Ten Commandments, issued on high from God Almighty and is fundamentally flawless and things like that.

I think it is important to acknowledge—and not just to give lip service to it, but to really acknowledge the failures of the founding generation, and in particular the failures of men of the midpoint in the Enlightenment in their definition of civil society as having been too narrow. I think that is one thing that the 1619 Project gets correct, which is that there was an exceedingly narrow definition of civil society.

Now, by the standards of the age, the United States of America had a shockingly small-d democratic civil society because land was cheap. Landowners being able to participate in politics meant a very, very broad franchise, much broader than England, which at the time was broader than anything else in Europe.

Nevertheless, the rhetoric that Jefferson lays out in the Declaration of Independence is a sweeping call for universalism. The country was fundamentally founded on universal principles of human freedom. And self-determination as well—because that’s really what the Declaration is saying, right? It’s that people, being born naturally free, have a right to self-determination. That was something they knew, and that was something they did not follow through on because it was inconvenient to their economic interests. At the end of the day, it was inconvenient to their economic interests. They just crossed their fingers and hoped that the problem would melt away.

That critique, I think, is a very fair one. I’ll give you an example of this. If you go to James Madison—there’s been complaints about the change at James Madison’s Montpelier. But if you go and see it, what they’ve really done is they’ve really brought in the story of the enslaved community on the grounds. I think that’s a very important thing for people to understand: that James Madison, who was really the architect of our system of ordered liberty, was ordering that liberty among people who were not free, and he was enjoying their labor.

We need to keep that close in mind when we’re thinking about these men and to appreciate that they made mistakes. However, just because they made mistakes, this is not the fruit of the poison tree. That’s not how these things work. They’re men. Like all human beings, they have flaws, and they were men of their age, and their age had flaws. But they still had good ideas.

I think ultimately what we need to do is, we need to evaluate their ideas. We need to take what they say at face value and then consider the wisdom of what they say. We don’t accept what they say dogmatically because they’re the Founders. Likewise, we don’t reject what they say because they came from an age where human bondage was still an acceptable thing.

Instead, the spirit in which I think that we should take them is the one that I tried to take them in the book: is that these are Enlightenment men, very well educated, with a thorough grounding in the history of Western civilization, and were faced in it with a very big problem and put together a very brilliant system of government that, in my opinion, has held the test of time.

I would argue we don’t follow the Constitution because James Madison told us to. It’s that we follow the Constitution because James Madison and the other Founders put together a series of arguments that make sense, that it’s a sensible system and it’s a defensible system. The genius of the system is not that it’s old. The genius of the system is that it’s genius. It’s just brilliant.

And it really is. If you were to think about it as somebody who’s not an American, even as a critic of the Constitution, just as a historical—even if we were to decide like, “OK, well, we’re done with the Constitution”—it’s remarkable. The United States of America was the first country in the world to figure out a sustainable way in which a broad population could govern itself without an external monarch or nobility or something like that, and they actually pulled it off. It’s remarkable.

The French tried the same thing a decade later: turned into a disaster. It really wasn’t repeated in a meaningful way until really the 20th century in many respects. You just have to hand it to them for that, if for nothing else: that clearly, they were onto something.

Properly understood, the universal application of laws is the republican guarantor of rights. So long as you and I are bound equally our rights are realized.

Why 14th Amendment bars Trump from office: A constitutional law scholar explains principle behind Colorado Supreme Court ruling (Mark A. Graber, 12/19/23, The Conversation)

The text of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states, in full:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

To me as a scholar of constitutional law, each sentence and sentence fragment captures the commitment made by the nation in the wake of the Civil War to govern by constitutional politics. People seeking political and constitutional changes must play by the rules set out in the Constitution. In a democracy, people cannot substitute force, violence or intimidation for persuasion, coalition building and voting.


The first words of Section 3 describe various offices that people can only hold if they satisfy the constitutional rules for election or appointment. The Republicans who wrote the amendment repeatedly declared that Section 3 covered all offices established by the Constitution. That included the presidency, a point many participants in framing, ratifying and implementation debates over constitutional disqualification made explicitly, as documented in the records of debate in the 39th Congress, which wrote and passed the amendment.

Senators, representatives and presidential electors are spelled out because some doubt existed when the amendment was debated in 1866 as to whether they were officers of the United States, although they were frequently referred to as such in the course of congressional debates. […]

Shay’s Rebellion, the Whiskey Insurrection, Burr’s Rebellion, John Brown’s Raid and other events were insurrections, even when the goal was not overturning the government.

What these events had in common was that people were trying to prevent the enforcement of laws that were consequences of persuasion, coalition building and voting. Or they were trying to create new laws by force, violence and intimidation.

These words in the amendment declare that those who turn to bullets when ballots fail to provide their desired result cannot be trusted as democratic officials. When applied specifically to the events on Jan. 6, 2021, the amendment declares that those who turn to violence when voting goes against them cannot hold office in a democratic nation.

NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION (AND VICE VERSA)

PODCAST: The Boston Tea Party (Dan Snow’s History Hit)

On December 16th, 1773, a band of American patriots quietly boarded three ships in Boston Harbour, under the cover of night. Armed with axes and hatchets, they pried open the crates on board and poured their contents into the ocean. The crates contained tea; black-leaved Bohea and green tea from China. Some 92,000 pounds of it cascaded over the side in protest of British taxation in the American colonies.

These men were known as the Sons of Liberty, and they had just lit a powder keg that would lead to the explosive American revolution, and shake the British Empire to its core. In this Explainer episode, Dan takes us through the twists and turns of this foundational event in American and world history.

Produced by James Hickmann and edited by Dougal Patmore.

The Constitutional History of the Boston Tea Party: The significance of the Tea Party as the ignition spark that exploded the powder keg of the American Revolution cannot be overemphasized. (Hans Eicholz, 12/15/23, Law & Liberty)

Among the main points in the Patriot case, a point that none deny, was the irritation caused by Governor Hutchinson when he quietly chose to take his salary and the salaries of judicial officers, directly from this last remaining duty on tea. That decision threatened to place royal officials beyond the power of the assembly’s ability to control the government’s budget. But there was another aspect to the issue that linked the colonist’s constitutional arguments to the fear of monopoly, and this helped to prepare the way for Boston’s radical response.

Writing at the height of the controversy over the Townshend Duties, John Dickinson of Pennsylvania authored a series of widely influential pamphlets styled, Letters from a Farmer between 1767 and 1768 in which he took up the question raised earlier by Franklin in his deposition before Parliament: The distinction between internal and external taxation. This was not really the issue, Dickinson argued, but rather, internal versus external impositions.

Duties to prohibit a trade were one thing, he noted, but duties imposed on articles of trade that could only be acquired from a single source, namely Great Britain, were quite another. The former were meant to restrict trade in articles thought to be detrimental to the needs of the whole empire. The latter, however, were clearly and unquestionably meant to raise money and establish Parliament’s authority to do so.

Here, monopoly played the central part of the constitutional argument of the Patriot cause: “If you ONCE admit, that Great-Britain may lay duties upon her exportations to us, for the purpose of levying money on us only, she then will have nothing to do, but to lay those duties on the articles which she prohibits us to manufacture—and the tragedy of American liberty is complete.” Dickinson had specifically referenced such articles as “paper, etc.” but the application of the principle was the same with respect to tea. By levying a tax on a product supplied only by an official monopoly, no matter how small the rate or quantum charged, the precedent would be finally established of Parliament’s right to raise any degree of revenue thereafter.

The Tea Act did far more than simply lower the company’s operating costs in the distribution of its products. By opening trade directly with the colonies, it also made enforcement of its monopoly position more secure through exposing clearly who was operating as a consignee of the company and who was not. With the powerful presence of the British fleet, such enforcement was not to be doubted. But there was still more reason for the particularly radical turn taken by Bostonians.

Governor Hutchinson had himself directly influenced the appointment of the agents for the company, and these included his own sons.

The Many Myths of the Boston Tea Party (Meilan Solly, 12/15/23, Smithsonian)


The Tea Act of 1773 wasn’t the first tax-related legislation to attract the colonists’ ire. In 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which taxed paper goods like newspapers, deeds and playing cards. The first internal tax levied on the colonies by the British, the Stamp Act garnered criticism from colonists who saw it as “extremely burdensome and grievous,” especially when they had no representation in the legislative body across the Atlantic. Widespread opposition to the tax, including protests by the Sons of Liberty, a grassroots group that would later play a key role in the Tea Party, led Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act in 1766.


But other taxes followed, most prominently the 1767 Townshend Acts, which imposed duties on imported glass, china, lead, paint, paper and tea. Once again, the colonists objected to the measures, with the city of Boston emerging as a particular locus of resistance. Rising tensions between Bostonians and British troops brought in to quell the unrest culminated in the 1770 Boston Massacre, which left five colonists dead.

The events that preceded the Tea Party spoke to the larger “question of how the colonies were represented in the empire,” says Sheidley, “the imperial reforms that tried to concentrate decision-making and ensure that there were more uniform systems for governance across all the colonies.” In addition to covering the costs of the French and Indian War, the taxes paid for the administration of the American colonies.

Though the British government repealed the Townshend Acts shortly after the Boston Massacre, the tax on tea remained in place, and the underlying issue angering the colonists—their lack of parliamentary representation—came no closer to being resolved. At the time, Parliament was dominated by wealthy landowners who won their seats with support from powerful, often aristocratic patrons. The corrupt system meant that some sparsely populated British towns (known as rotten boroughs) had multiple members of Parliament, while bustling industrial centers like Birmingham and Manchester had none. “There was this slippery-slope argument,” economist Gustavo Torrens, co-author of a 2019 paper on the topic, told the Washington Post in 2016. “How could [Britain’s landed gentry] give representation to the Americans while many common people in London did not have proper representation?”


Eager to boycott any taxed British goods, colonists started drinking tea smuggled in by Dutch traders. Colonial merchants like John Hancock and Samuel Adams, both leaders of the Sons of Liberty, facilitated this illicit exchange, reaping profits at the expense of the British East India Company (EIC), which held the monopoly on the legal tea trade. By May 1773, the EIC was in such dire financial straits that Parliament stepped in to save it with the Tea Act, which allowed the trading corporation to ship tea directly to North America instead of routing it through England, where it was subject to additional taxes. This streamlined process lowered the price of legally imported tea but posed a whole new set of difficulties for colonists, who feared that “hand-picked middlemen” appointed by the EIC would undercut homegrown traders, says Carp, also a historian at Brooklyn College. By buying cheaper EIC tea, colonists would implicitly agree to taxation without representation, as they still had to pay the import duty introduced by the Townshend Acts.

As the EIC prepared to send its first shipments of tea to North America in the fall of 1773, anti-British colonists targeted the consignees chosen to receive and sell the goods, hoping to intimidate the agents into resigning from their posts. Patriots attacked consignees’ homes, published death threats against them and held public meetings to discuss how to respond to the tea ships’ arrival. “They are very much using the threat of violence” to make their point, says Sheidley.

In Philadelphia and New York, locals succeeded in stopping the vessels from landing. Worried their New England counterparts would fail to follow suit, a Philadelphia resident wrote an anonymous letter to a Boston newspaper, declaring, “Our tea consignees have all resigned, and you need not fear; the tea will not be landed here or at New York. All that we fear is that you will shrink at Boston.” The author closed by writing, “May God give you virtue enough to save the liberties of your country, and depend on it, it shall not betray them here.”

Remembering the Boston Tea Party (Gary Scott Smith, 12/15/23, Institute for Faith & Freedom)

John Adams asked Mercy Otis Warren, a poet, playwright, and satirist who had supported the boycott of British imports and the destruction of the tea, to write a poem about the incident.

Her February 1774 poem declared:

To aid the Bright Salacias [the female goddess of the sea] Gen’rous Care,

Poure’d a profusion of Delicious teas,

Which Wafte’d by a soft Favonian [relating to the west wind] Breeze,

Supplied the Wa’try Deities in spight,

Of all the Rage, of jealous Amphitrite [another goddess of the sea].

The Fair Salacia Victory, Victry sings

In spite of Heroes, demi Gods, And kings.

She bids Defiance: to the servile train,

The pimps, and sycophants, of George [the III’s] Reign.

Irate about the flagrant destruction of tea, members of Parliament enacted the Coercive Acts between March 25 and June 2, 1774 that closed Boston harbor to commercial traffic, established military rule in Massachusetts, prevented British officials from being criminally prosecuted in America, and forced colonists to house British troops.

Opposition to these actions increased the growing friction between the colonists and the British government. The Virginia House of Burgesses proclaimed that “an attack, made on one of our sister colonies, to compel submission to arbitrary taxes, is an attack made on all British America, and threatens ruin to the rights of all.” Delegates to the First Continental Congress issued The Declaration and Resolves in October 1774. They demanded the repeal of the Coercive Acts, called for a boycott of British products, argued that the colonies had a right to self-governance, and created and trained a colonial militia, preparing the way for the American Revolution.

The Boston Tea Party was a crime (Jeff Jacoby, 12/14/23, The Boston Globe)

I revere the founders of the American republic and rejoice in the independence they ultimately wrested from Great Britain. I have only disdain for the “woke” view of history that regards the United States, in the words of a 2017 essay in The New Yorker, as “a mistake from the start.” I am profoundly grateful that I had the good fortune to be born an American. But that doesn’t change the fact that destroying other people’s property to advance a political cause is wrong. It is wrong whether the cause is right-wing or left-wing. It is wrong whether the cause is racial equity, climate change, opposing a war, overturning an election, or denouncing Wall Street. It is wrong in 2023 and it was wrong in 1773.