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Idea laundering


After a staff revolt, Newsweek has apologized for publishing an op-ed arguing that Kamala Harris may not actually be a US citizen:

Newsweek has apologized for an op-ed that questioned Sen. Kamala Harris’ U.S. citizenship and her eligibility to be Joe Biden’s running mate, a false and racist conspiracy theory which President Donald Trump has not dismissed.

“This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia. We apologize,” read Newsweek’s editor’s note on Friday, which replaced the magazine’s earlier detailed defense of the op-ed.

“We entirely failed to anticipate the ways in which the essay would be interpreted, distorted and weaponized,” read the apology, signed by Josh Hammer, opinion editor, and Nancy Cooper, global editor in chief. But they ended the note by saying that the op-ed would remain on the site, with their note attached.

This is of course false. Josh Hammer is a Republican hatchet man, who published the op-ed precisely because it would be used in those ways.

I don’t think there’s been enough focus on the fact that John Eastman’s article claims that Kamala Harris may not be a citizen of the United States at all. The claim that it’s about an argument that she may not be eligible to be president really understates matters.

According to Eastman, if Harris’s parents weren’t naturalized before her 16th birthday — and of course according to him there are “questions” about whether they were or not — then she isn’t a U.S. citizen herself, and isn’t even eligible to vote, let alone serve in the Senate, or become vice president or president.

She could, according to Eastman, simply be deported as a foreigner illegally present in the United States today. (Note that there’s no logical limitation on his argument either. If your immigrant grandparents were never naturalized, then you’re not a citizen either, even if both you and your parents were born in Des Moines, Iowa).

He doesn’t explicitly say all these things, but they all follow inexorably from his argument:

Interestingly, this recitation of the original meaning of the 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause might also call into question Harris’ eligibility for her current position as a United States senator. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution specifies that to be eligible for the office of senator, one must have been “nine Years a Citizen of the United States.” If Harris was not a citizen at birth, we would need to know when (if ever) she became a citizen. Her father’s biographical page at Stanford University identifies his citizenship status as follows: “Jamaica (by birth); U.S. (by naturalization).” But there is some dispute over whether he was in fact ever naturalized, and it is also unclear whether Harris’ mother ever became a naturalized citizen. If neither was ever naturalized, or at least not naturalized before Harris’ 16th birthday (which would have allowed her to obtain citizenship derived from their naturalization under the immigration law, at the time), then she would have had to become naturalized herself in order to be a citizen. That does not appear to have ever happened, yet without it, she could not have been “nine Years a Citizen of the United States” before her election to the U.S. Senate.

This guy and his wife are each being paid large sums of money this academic year to bring high level “conservative thought and policy” to our little Maoist enclave here at the foot of the Rocky Mountains:

Each year, the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy launches a national search for our Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy position. 

The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder now invites applications for the position of Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy for academic year 2020-21. 

We seek a highly visible individual who is deeply engaged in either the analytical scholarship or practice of conservative thinking and policymaking, or both. Thus, applications are welcome from the academic, policy, military and media communities, among others. The Visiting Scholar will continue a tradition of fostering intellectual diversity on the Boulder campus through the Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy. 

Although I have way too many other things to do at the moment, I’m going to spend some time digging up answers to questions such as:

How much are Eastman and his wife getting paid to bring high quality “conservative thought” of this type to the youth of Boulder?

Where exactly is that money coming from? (The Center for Western Civilization etc. is privately funded, although of course it gets to use CU’s facilities, name etc).

Who exactly decided that John Eastman was the kind of cutting edge leader in conservative thought that needed to preach his evangel in Boulder?

And so forth.

All this is about idea laundering. It’s about using right wing money to hijack American research universities, so their academic reputations can be exploited to put a cultural stamp of approval on the most extreme forms of cultural and political reaction.

In other words, it’s about making the kind of thing Eastman is paid to disseminate academically respectable enough so that it has to be taken seriously as part of academic and cultural discourse — because refusing to do so would then just be an example of how PC Cancel Culture is inimical to the free and open exchange of ideas.

This is how the sausage gets made, and it needs to be exposed, over and over again.

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