Party Crashers

By: George Coyoy

Picture yourself throwing a party. You want to throw a great party because bad parties always end up looking like an episode of ‘King of the Hill’ – a bunch of guys standing around drinking beer, spitting and talking about carburetors. Having been around the block once or twice before you’re also experienced enough to know that you don’t want to throw a complete barn burner, so an open house party is off the table. Open house parties are the prog rock of parties – they’re an incoherent mess. They only lead to broken property, sketchy weirdos, and inexplicable stains everywhere. Better to let the high school kids deal with all that, so the plan is to invite your inner circle and allow them to bring guests. The only caveat is that permission for each guest must be granted before the invitation is extended. You’re pretty liberal about whose invitation you approve, as this policy is more about keeping out certain periphery troublemakers you know will ruin the party. You know the type – the trashy guys who start fights, those who are rude, or those who are just plain weird and won’t fit in well. You know who they are and you don’t want them to ruin your party, so you implement this vetting strategy. Your guests all comply with your wishes – though with some mild protest – and run potential guests by you before extending any invitations. You approve of almost all of the requests made and continue planning.

The night of the party comes and all seems to be going well. You’re on fire as a host – people are laughing at your jokes, everyone seems to be thoroughly entertained, and the general energy of the party is positive. At some point, however, party crashers come and change the entire dynamic of the night. Those trashy guys you didn’t want showing up come in and inject themselves into the party as if they were invited guests. Even worse, some didn’t bring any beer or liquor. By the time you’ve noticed them it looks like they have been there for a while and have settled into the party. To be sure, some of these party crashers are fine, in fact, a majority of them are. One even brought two 18-packs of Modelo. You know all of these people and, generally, you would have no problem inviting some of them as one-offs to the party. The problem with inviting them to the party was always that they would bring with them a small crowd that is capable of doing big damage, a small crowd that is now a big part of your party. As you ponder your next move you realize that you will either have to confront them now and ask them to leave or allow them to stay, risking that they behave poorly, as you expect they will, or that other crashers now have an excuse to come to your party.

The politics of asking the party crashers to leave quickly dawns on you. Some of your guests actually like them and mildly protested your decision not to invite them from the beginning. Asking the crashers to leave would single them out and punish the entire group, despite the fact that some of the people in that group are decent and would have been invited had they not been so close with the more volatile crashers. Other guests are clearly annoyed by them and could decide to leave the party early should this continue, leaving you with a bunch of people you don’t like at your own party. It is obvious that your decision will prove divisive no matter what you do, meaning this situation now requires more analysis than you hoped it would – after all, you just want to party! As host, however, decisions must be made meaning consequences must be weighed.

In Hippie Utopia this would be an open house party and all would come in peace, having the night of their lives while indulging their deepest inhibitions without consequence. Unfortunately, Hippie Utopia doesn’t exist and thus whatever you decide will have consequences. Asking the crashers to leave could escalate into confrontation or worse, and would certainly upset some of your guests. Ignoring the problem tacitly declares the party to be an open house party, giving any and all who want to invite other people a legitimate argument moving forward. “They weren’t invited but they came anyway,” the argument would go. “So why can’t we invite who we want to invite?” After all, all of the guests were told that anyone they invited had to be pre-approved. Allowing the crashers to stay is signaling to all in attendance that this is no longer an invite-only event. Once that word gets out it’s likely a cascade of uninvited guests will show up and this party will descend into the chaotic mess you wanted to avoid. It is easy to see how different partygoers will take different sides, only further complicating the matter and making the decision all the more difficult over time. Despite this fact you realize that the rhetoric is rapidly escalating, meaning it is better to make a decision now than allow the decision to become more controversial later. For whatever reason, however, you go against your better judgment and do nothing.

Let us now assume that the small group of party crashers you knew were potentially problematic actually become problematic. They’re being rude and overly aggressive as you thought they would. They’re instigating stupid arguments and threatening fights. They’re disrespecting all of the rules of the house, such as going into rooms that are off limits and raiding the refrigerator. One guy is smoking cigarettes inside. Allowing them to break the initial rule of coming in uninvited emboldened them to do whatever they want and you now have to deal with it. You finally make your decision. You make what is, in your mind, a reasonable bargain and say that the group of troublemakers must leave, but the uninvited guests who are being respectable and pleasant can stay. Especially the guy who brought the Modelos. You’ve made your decision and with a show of strength you successfully kick the jerks out.

This proves to be controversial amongst some of your guests. “Don’t you know that they have nowhere to go?” they claim. “It wasn’t their fault they were acting that way, it’s yours for upsetting them in the first place by not inviting them!” When you point out that only the troublemakers were kicked out and not those who crashed but did not cause any trouble, the Party Crasher Activists double down. “You’re separating them from their friends and dividing people! That’s so messed up!” The idea that these party crashers wouldn’t have been separated had they 1) not come in the first place and 2) not behaved like total jerks once here doesn’t click with these few guests, for whatever reason. Most guests agree with your decision to throw out the party crasher jerks and would probably agree with kicking out those who crashed but are being decent. They, however, stay silent as they would rather not be berated by the obnoxious, sanctimonious Party Crasher Activists. The few who take issue with your decision are being dramatic, staining the party with their incessant screeching and whining. You do your best to ignore it and, eventually, you and your other sane guests are able to separate from the drama and enjoy yourselves again. Even better, you’re able to do so drinking Modelo.

Shortly thereafter the jerks come back. They re-enter the party, now with loud defenders applauding their decision to boldly enter the party from which they were just expelled. “They have a right to be here!” claim the Party Crasher Activists. “Excluding people like this is wrong! Why should you have the right to decide who gets to party and who doesn’t?” Sovereignty over who can and cannot enter your own property is apparently a foreign concept to the Party Crasher Activists. As such, the situation has escalated to the point where your party is ruined. It is pure madness. “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?!” one guy screams. Bless his stupid little heart. This sentiment is, of course, pure pablum but it doesn’t matter. Empty vessels love pablum and, as such, he is rewarded with applauds and praise. The Party Crasher Activists don’t understand why we can’t all just get along, never realizing that everyone was getting along just fine before the party crashers crashed your party. The guests who agree with you look at you and you just shrug. There is nothing left to do but end the party. The inmates are now running the asylum.

So your party failed. Miserably. The only positive is that you have some Modelos left. The party was still a failure though. You had a plan as to who you would let in and who you would keep out but, like flies and mosquitos, those you wanted to keep out found a way in. Not only did they crash your party but the volatile few ruined everything for everyone, just as you thought they would. Moreover, despite the majority of party crashers being decent party guests, the decent majority was ultimately irrelevant. The effect of the volatile few proved to be too much to overcome; they had driven too much of a wedge between the entire party to keep a decent party sustainable. They ignored the invite-only status of your party, they ignored the rules of the house after ignoring your party’s invite-only status, and then they came in and ruined everyone’s experience. The crashers were all-around disrespectful from the beginning and, thanks to your inaction and the inexplicable support they garnered from some of your guests, continued to disrespect you, your house, and your guests. So, again, the decent majority was completely irrelevant. All things considered my question to you is this: how would you have handled this situation?

If this is my party? I don’t hesitate in telling them to leave. Not asking. Not hinting. Telling. As soon as I see them they’re all gone. Except Modelo guy, of course. If the situation escalates, it escalates. If my guests are upset, then they’re upset. If they’re truly upset then they’re also are free to leave. A line must be drawn, however, and if one is to draw a line it should be the line that communicates that one will not be disrespected and that breaking one’s rules has consequences. Every single party crasher disrespected me by crashing my party. Every single crasher was essentially flipping the invite-only status of my party the bird by entering my party. The presence of each and every single party crasher was a massive, aggressively flipped bird pointed directly at me for every second they spent at my party. I don’t know about you, but I don’t take disrespect well.

Perhaps what I can ultimately take away from the experience is that I can afford to be a little more lax in my party invitation policies moving forward. Perhaps they were a bit too rigid and unfairly kept people who were good party guests out of the party. Especially Modelo guy. All of this is debatable. But my rules are my rules and this was my damn party. Those who knowingly broke my rules disrespected me, my guests, and the very concept of rules in itself, so why should I feel bad about kicking a guest who was never invited to my party out of my invite-only party? I shouldn’t.

And that’s how I view illegal immigration.

5 Country Songs for Father’s Day

Fathers Day

By Daniel Hong

The family is the building block of society and tomorrow is a day of honor for the head of the household, our fathers. Growing up in my late teenage years country music had a special way of portraying father-son relationships and fatherhood. It has really shaped the way I think and act, specifically it helps me to honor my father just as it did with my mother (my previous Mothers Day blog should be evidence of that).

Music is a powerful medium and it should be no wonder why culture is shaped so heavily by it in both good and bad ways. It is why country music is my favorite genre, yes banjos, fiddles, steel guitars and the sounds they produce are a big part, but its the powerful imagery, relatability and narratives that captured my heart during my late teenage years. These 7 songs were instrumental to me and I believe it captures the mood, experiences and the heart of fathers day. I hope whether one is a father or a child that these songs can touch their hearts and minds as it did mine.

 

Walking in my Fathers Shoes – Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan is a successful country music artist and an US Army Veteran, this song clearly speaks of his fathers role in shaping him. The “That’s what I love about Sunday” singer co-wrote this song and with a soothing ballad composition, he tells the story of his father being there for him, being a responsible man, and teaching him those same values setting the standard for him to do the same. The powerful rising chorus speaks for itself:

I’m walking in my father’s shoes
He’s never let me down
That’s a lot to live up to
Stumbling falling
Tryin’ to stand tall in
Walking in my father’s shoes

Walk a Little Straighter Daddy – Billy Currington

Billy Currington has had an interesting career after this successful hit song with a traditional country ballad composition that really put him on the map, his music has evolved to say the least for the better or for the worst. Regardless, though the singer portrayed in this song has gone through drastic changes he unlike Craig Morgan has had a more quiet but albeit still a somewhat successful career. Also in contrast with Craig Morgan who had a father that showed him the ropes, this tear jerking ballad written by Currington himself talks of his father constantly falling short, not being there for him, being an alcoholic, and one can just feel the heartbreak in this song. However, in a tremendous display of character instead of holding bitterness the singer encourages his father in this manner through this heart grabbing chorus:

Walk a little straighter daddy 
You’re swaying side to side 
You’re footsteps make me dizzy 
And no matter how I try 
I keep tripping and stumbling 
If you’d look down here you’d see 
Walk a little straighter daddy 
You’re leading me 

In a country where the family model is breaking down with fathers being a big part, this is a song that will sympathize with many sons and daughters in America on fathers day.

Watching You – Rodney Atkins 

Changing the tempo going from two slow ballads we come to a moderate uptempo song co-written and sung by Rodney Atkins. If you notice a pattern here and what makes country music so special to many fans is that these artists not only write these songs themselves (not that other genre singers don’t do these things but it is a very common tradition within country music for artists to write most of their songs), but specifically write their personal experiences in a relatable manner . It brings an air of authenticity into their craft and helps the listener really connect with the artist.  Speaking of which authentic and honest are good words to describe this song as Atkins was motivated by his son singing his first hit song (in the same album as this single) “If your going through hell (Even the Devil knows)” in front of his teacher school. He saw the special father-son relationship, especially the imitating nature of the child as the old adage says like father like son. He is not scared to share his shortcomings in verse 1 that his child picks up, while sharing the good in verse 2, all of that as he builds up to this catchy chorus:

He said, “I’ve been watching you, dad, ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food, and grow as tall as you are
We like fixing things and holding mama’s hand
Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we, dad?
I wanna do everything you do
So I’ve been watching you.”

Its a very fun and lighthearted song that propelled Rodney Adkins to number 1 on the Billboard Country Music Chart and gave him some traction on the Top 100 chart reaching the peak at 36 (pretty good for a country song). It was definitely a successful 2nd Album released in 2006, but unfortunately due to the climate of Country Music at the turn of the decade with Pop “Country” infiltrating the genre led by the rise of Taylor Swift and company, along with the rise of the repugnant and detestable Bro-Country and his own personal shortcomings Adkins has gone irrelevant to say the least. However, this song is definitely a good one on father’s day to reminisce on ones own experiences either from the fathers point of view as Atkins does in this song or from the child’s.

A Love Without End, Amen – George Strait

Often dubbed by fans as “The King of Country” few have reached the legendary status of George Strait (regardless of the music genre) and is debated by some to be the greatest country artist of all time. One of the leaders in bringing about what many call a golden age of country music in the 1990’s by bringing it back to its traditional roots (labeled as Neo-Traditional now) and coming to prominence with hits like “Amarillo by Morning” in the 1980’s, George Strait in 1990 (ironically) released a number 1 hit song on the Billboard Country Chart with this midtempo country ballad and really captured the heart of what it means to be a father. This song takes the listener on a journey from the point of view of the singer who starts as a child in verse 1 and learning what his fathers love is all about, then in verse 2 transitions into a father himself learning to give that same love and finally verse 3 uses religious christian imagery to bring the singer before the ultimate “father” at heaven’s gate before finally receiving the greatest love from God. Each accompanied by this short but crucial chorus talking about the father’s love:

Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then
It’s a love without end, amen
It’s a love without end, amen

Whats unique about George Strait from the other artists thus far is that he did not write this song and is one of the few successful country artists who rarely wrote his own songs. Regardless, Strait has shown a knack for picking hit songs and singing them like his own like no other which is also a talent for any musician in any genre, but the more important thing is the story behind this song written by Aaron Barker. The beauty and artistic nature of this song is how he’s able to work towards the core and workings of fatherhood throughout the song and it is a good contemplative song for father’s day. As a Christian myself, the religious imagery is an added bonus as human fatherhood’s foundation is the ultimate fatherhood of God, the father.

Drive (For Daddy Gene) – Alan Jackson

Other than George Strait, probably no one but Alan Jackson comes as close to the king of country in terms of popularity and leading the 1990’s wave of traditional country back into the mainstream. Jackson is your classic underdog story coming from small town rural roots and making it big debuting at a somewhat late age of 31. While George Strait was a phenom, he was cleaning tables at restaurants while trying to find an opportunity which he depicts in one of his earlier hits “Chasin that Neon Rainbow“. A true country artist down to the core, and a man with genuine authenticity and a big heart is someone you want to root for. A tall man standing around 6,4-6,5 the man is very gentle and unlike Strait has penned many of his own hits, often bringing his Christian faith, love for his fellow man and good meaning into his songs. Even many non country fans will know this man due to his heartfelt and inspiring song bringing a nation together with his well deserved hit “Where were you (when the world stopped turning)” after the tragic events of 9/11. However, a unique talent that Alan Jackson has is that he can bring in his small town roots in his songs in a simple manner, while drawing deep meaning from them using metaphors and imagery. He does this masterfully in this song which was penned as a tribute to his father who passed away by simply reminiscing on that time he learned to drive from his dad. An uptempo and exciting song he takes the listener on a journey from that time he learned to drive, to when he taught his own daughters to drive while deriving joy from that experience, which is depicted from the chorus:

It was just an old hand-me-down Ford
With three-speed on the column and a dent in the door
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can’t replace the way it made me feel
And I would press that clutch
And I would keep it right
And he’d say, a little slower son you’re doing just fine
Just a dirt road with trash on each side
But I was Mario Andretti
When Daddy let me drive

Though not quite as exciting my driving experience despite the bickering back and forth between me and my father, it is one of those unique experiences that this song helps me reminisce on as I honor my father tomorrow. It’s unique in the sense that it symbolizes growing up and taking more responsibility as a man while still learning from a son’s first teacher in life the father. Alan Jackson like George Strait in the previous song starts as a child and becomes the father in this song and portrays that unique experience between father and son (or daughter). A simple but unique experience that one can harp on tomorrow as they celebrate father’s day.

Honorable Mentions

Though, I would love to continue and go through the whole canon of country music with the theme of fatherhood, these were chosen from what I believe consists of strong lyrical presence, good musical composition and familiarity with the songs as my guide. If one is a country music fan like myself, or if this blog has helped one understand and really appreciate country music more then on a beautiful Saturday evening relaxing to some of these honorable mentions in preparation for tomorrow is not a bad idea. Though, I always try to be as objective in setting standards, these songs did have some preferential taste as I stated that familiarity was a guideline. Therefore, some of these honorable mentions may be better and some may prefer these more than the ones I have on this blog. That is fine, however, my only encouragement is whatever ones preference is that the main focus will be on really honoring their fathers. The sacrifice and love that fathers do on a daily basis should always be celebrated and remembered. Here’s to more memories and deeper ties, may these songs inspire and encourage them:

I’ll Be There – Josh Turner

The unique baritone singer, famously known for “Long Black Train” and “Your Man” depicts the father’s point of view and speaks to their child bringing up many scenarios but simply telling them no matter what I’ll be there for you.

There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney

NFL legend Peyton Manning’s favorite country artist and probably the next most famous singer after Garth Brooks known for making the stadium rock trend within country music in the 1990’s famous has a heartfelt song about the unexpected journey into fatherhood from a circumstance that was unintended. An important note is that the chorus lyrics does not change but has a different perspective as the beginning of the song is portraying a young man who just became a father and the end where he is coming to its last legs with his daughter leaving. One sees the daughter as a burden to his life, the other sees the daughter as his life.

Daddy Dance With Me – Krystal Keith

Daughter of the famous country artist Toby Keith, depicts a daughter speaking to her father asking him to always be her daddy even when she grows up and that she will always be his baby girl.

The Greatest Man I Never Knew – Reba McEntire

One of the most famous female country artists in the modern era sings about a father who was distant from his daughter and is not the type to show physical affection with hugs and kisses but deep inside truly loves her. The daughter realizes that after he passes away.

The Big Lie, pt. 1

By George Coyoy

For as long as I can remember I was force fed the notion that Republicans are racists-sexists-bigots-homophobic-Islamophobic-right-wing Christian fundamentalists who hate the poor and believe the earth is flat. I was told Republicans are science denying, unsophisticated mouth breathers who think that rock ’n’ roll and the hippity-hop are the devil’s music and that women who use birth control are harlots. They also believe those harlots shouldn’t even be out of the kitchen to begin with, so if you’re a woman reading this get back in there! To be a Republican or, even worse, a conservative Republican, was the social kiss of death. It was unimaginable that any reasonably intelligent and moral person would fit such a description. Or, at least, that’s what the culture surrounding me claimed. You can imagine my surprise when I finally did my own research into politics and found that all of this was pure, raw, uncut nonsense.

I’m a millennial who grew up a half hour outside of New York City, liberal HQ. As such I was highly influenced by MTV, Comedy Central, and other bastions of left-wing intellectual thought. Though I was never particularly interested in politics, looking back I was a default liberal like most others who grew up the way I did. This is to say that what I gathered from school, entertainment, and media in general was that the liberals were the good guys and the conservatives were the bad guys. Republicans were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom. Conservatives were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom while smacking me in the face with a bible. In short, I found myself viewing the political landscape through a Manichaean lens despite not knowing a single thing about politics.

Eventually I made the decision that I was going to get informed. Politics had infused everything surrounding me and I had the sense that there were lies being thrown at me from every direction. The outright lies surrounding the tragic Trayvon Martin case, among others over the preceding years, had sent me into a fury and made me determined that I would learn about politics. I decided that I would learn “both sides” as best I could, that I would hear them out without cynicism and with an open mind, eager to learn so that I could come as close to knowing the truth as humanly possible.

I began, I learned, and I was shocked to find out that all of my previously held assumptions were based on lies. No, Republicans weren’t racists who hate the poor and don’t believe in global warming. Not even close. The positions held by the conservatives I listened to were extremely nuanced and, surprisingly, strongly supported by history, evidence, and reason. But why would so many people lie about these arguments? Did they simply not understand the nuance in the arguments or were they purposely misrepresenting them in order to gain a political edge? I didn’t understand why this was the case, or why it should be the case and so many people seemed to simply not care. For whatever reason, I thought others would be genuinely interested in fair, honest debate about complex issues in a civil manner. In short, I didn’t understand politics.

As this grand narrative began to unravel, so did many other little ones. No, the world isn’t going to be overcome by a flood in five years if we don’t all start driving electric cars by yesterday. No, the war on drugs isn’t a racist conspiracy cooked up by white politicians for the purpose of oppressing young black men. No, the gender pay gap isn’t due to some evil white heterosexual Christian men seeking to dominate women. My first exposure to the conservative counter-arguments left me in a state of shock. Why had I never heard these positions before? Why have these arguments always been misrepresented? And how in the world is Thomas Sowell not a household name? This was all very confusing to me, but onward I marched.

The more I understood, the more cynical I became about politics. I’m not a cynical person in general, and I generally can’t stand those who are, but there are few areas as full of willfully obtuse or ignorant people as the world of politics. Given the unique ability of politics to enflame the soul, it only follows that opportunists ready to fan those flames rise to the top. Perhaps they’re carried there by all the smoke they’ve created.

Hence the forthcoming “Big Lie” series. Given my experience in seeing these big lies dismantled, I look forward to dismantling them for all of you. This will not be a series where I act as a special pleader for the Republican party or conservatives. This will be a space where I debunk some of the popular myths told about right-leaning people in general, be they Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, etc., for the purpose of bringing more clarity to your mind and the public conversation. To be sure, the pathetic inability of most Republicans and conservatives to effectively communicate their positions is partly to blame for The Big Lie. I won’t pull my punches here – the “right” generally sucks at this, whether it be writing, story telling, or speaking with anything resembling charisma. This is largely due to both cowardice and a glaring lack of talent, but that’s a conversation for another day. This is simply an attempt to communicate these ideas in a more effective manner, hopefully persuading many in the process and having clear disagreements with those who still buy into The Big Lie.

20 Country Songs for Mothers Day

By Daniel Hong

As Mother’s day approaches music can help us to reflect on our relationships. Country music is my favorite genre and songs like these are the reasons why. Even though mother’s day is still a few days away, and yes you should do something special for that day but let’s not let that one day be the only time where we appreciate them and truly love them for all the sacrifice and the love they have shown us. Have a Happy Mother’s Day and I hope these songs of love help you to have a satisfying one with your mother. Enjoy!!

Mama’s Song – Carrie Underwood

Mama Tried – Merle Haggard

She didn’t have Time – Terri Clark

So Much Like My Dad – George Strait

In my Daughters Eyes – Martina McBride

Mom – Garth Brooks

 

I Wonder – Kellie Pickler

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – Glen Campbell, Steve Wariner

The Best Day – Taylor Swift

Angels – Randy Travis

Mother Like Mine – The Band Perry

Mama’s Hands – George Jones

Like My Mother Does – Lauren Alaina

I want to Stroll over Heaven with you – Alan Jackson

Don’t Forget To Remember Me – Carrie Underwood

Tough – Craig Morgan

Coat Of Many Colors – Dolly Parton

Somebody’s Hero – Jamie O Neal

She Loved A lot during her time – George Jones

I’ll Be – Reba McEntire

The Yellow Plague, Chapter 1

By George Coyoy

 

You may have noticed that we’re living in a time of hyper-polarization. You may have noticed that your conversations with friends and family members seem a bit more hostile, more bitter, more frantic. And you may have noticed that everywhere you turn you’re bombarded with alarmist rhetoric. What you’ve noticed has been noticed by many. What you’ve noticed are the symptoms of the plague infecting our culture at large, and it’s time we let those spreading the disease that we won’t just passively take notice.

This is a moment of mass hysteria. From print to prime time, panicked headlines and ledes have become the norm in the partisan storm that is the 24-hour news cycle. Editorializing and alarmism are the defining characteristics of today’s journalism, whereas plain-spoken facts are becoming rarer by the day. The Superhero movie-fication of our national conversation – where every debate is had on adversarial, all-or-nothing terms – is in full swing, complete with bad actors, abusive directors and lethargic audiences all too eager for mindless consumption. In short, a plague of yellow journalism has infected American culture and the results have been socially devastating.

Yellow journalism is nothing new. Media outlets have abused their unique position of power from their inception and have no incentive to stop. Such business practices have proven to be highly, highly profitable, making the sensationalization of news somewhat understandable. What is new is the simultaneous rise of the 24-hour news cycle and technology which allows breaking news to be consumed in multiple mediums from a device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Media has thus become inescapable. The amount of media consumed by the average person has increased and with that increased consumption comes increased business opportunities, which implicitly means an increase in the spread of salacious, frenetic news consumed by an increased number of people. With this in mind it’s no wonder polarization has, yes, increased. Given everything considered the more shocking state affairs would be if it had not.

The understandable chasing of profits, however, does not absolve legacy media of any responsibility. Those behind the dissemination of information – the journalists, editors, and even entire outlets – are the infectious agents spreading this plague. To suggest otherwise is to assert that the default position of the media is to be purposely misleading, partisan actors. It is to assert that common people with bills, families, and innumerable other worries should watch the media like hawks, dedicating a considerable chunk of their time to fact checking the news and going to primary sources to get their information. Such a task takes the kind of time that most people simply do not have. Such a task is also what the legacy media purports to do professionally. The legacy media has taken as its job the distillation of all of the day’s information into what is most relevant and the presentation of it in an honest way. This is not to say news outlets must be perfectly objective and down the middle. It isn’t clear if that is even possible. As such, partisan leanings are acceptable so long as the outlet is honest about those leanings. This is why claims of neutrality from obviously partisan outlets such as CNN are such an insult to our collective intelligence and a slap in the face. Such outlets are premised on a lie – some would say they sit on a throne of lies. It also means that the outlet is either dumb enough to think the public is dumb enough to buy their lie, or that they’re so lacking in self-awareness that they don’t realize what they are doing. Having watched CNN over the past few years, it is easy to see the cause being a lot of both.

In this regard the legacy media has not only failed, it has largely behaved in a morally bankrupt, corrupt manner. Lying, distorting, concealing, misleading, cheating; editorializing and falsely moralizing… but enough about CNN. Enough complaining and enough analyzing the paralyzing, sickening effects of the legacy media on the culture at large. I’ve gotten enough off of my chest, plus those effects are widely understood, even if only implicitly. And yes, I realize the irony of accusing the legacy media of being responsible for a cultural “plague” while simultaneously chastising them for their alarmism. But such is life – sometimes ironic, often paradoxical, and always complicated.

The broader, more relevant point here is that our legacy media is decidedly not holding up their end of the bargain and it is having a disastrous effect on American culture. To put it plainly: I am absolutely asserting a strong cause and effect relationship between the irresponsible way in which our media reports the news and the way our conversations have become so toxic. The good news is that we common folk are not powerless. As such it is up to us as engaged citizens to hold their feet to the fire. It is up to us to aggressively call the legacy media out when we catch them spreading their lies and smears, to stigmatize lying journalists and unethical reporters. It is up to us to hold them accountable with our eyes and dollars – to change the channel and turn to alternative sources as often as we can. Look, I get it – the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. are virtually unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we have to use them as our primary sources, or that we can’t criticize them when necessary while using them as sources. What it means is that we have to consciously support alternative outlets, with our eyes and our wallets, so that we can build them up and help introduce more competition into the media marketplace. Think of new media outlets as experimental, disease-fighting drugs that can help us cure this plague. The alternative is passively sitting by while we watch our republic rot away from within.

Welcome

By Daniel Hong

 

I welcome you to our website. My colleague (George Coyoy) and I are grateful for this opportunity to engage our culture and society with this blog. We are a couple of Americans who care deeply about our nation and the tumultuous times we live in. Our desire is to simply be a part of the improvement instead of just passively watching the continuous decay and degeneration. Who we are and what we believe can be seen more in our about us section. In this column I would like to briefly introduce myself and explain my worldview. I also give you the utmost gratitude in choosing to spend some of your precious time on our website. I hope to be able to serve you to the best of my ability.

I am first and foremost a Christian who believes in the Bible as the very Word of God and its central message the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the very foundation of what I believe, what I do and in which I center my identity on. The gospel message that is so fundamental to my life states that God is the Supreme Being who created this world and humanity to reflect his image and glory. Humanity fell into sin which as a consequence brought the wrath of God as a holy and righteous judge. Catastrophe and brokenness in the world are also a result of this fallen nature. However, the good news of great joy is that Jesus Christ the Son of God, in his deity and humanity died on the cross for the sins of the world taking upon himself the just punishment of God. Through, repentance and faith in that savior anyone no matter who they are can receive the gift of salvation. Repentance also leads to restoration and reformation. It starts with the individual then to society and the world. Therefore, my mission of utmost importance is to fulfill the great commission from the Lord himself to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20) sharing this very same gospel message, but also to do good works along with that central mission for I am his workmanship (Eph. 2:10). This very message is why during these times I can hold on to hope. Hope one day that I will be reunited with my Lord and Savior in heaven, and hope in this world not for a utopia but a better future.

This message is not all there is to Christianity (a column for another day) but it is the very starting point and the foundation. As a Christian I started to realize that I held on to principles from the Bible that guided my life. I also realized it was instrumental in building many great societies in the West throughout history (Note to the critics: yes there are many controversies that have come about as well that should not be ignored but again it will be an article for another day). I soon began to realize that I was labeled a Conservative. I was at first dismayed and confused as to why. The term Conservative as I understood it at the time was solely a political one. One that is equated with one of the two major parties in America, the Republican party. After much research and study throughout my life in the archives of past Republicans like former president Ronald Reagan, former Senator Barry Goldwater, and popular political and cultural commentator William F. Buckley I began to understand what Conservatism stood for. Events such as the rise of the Christian Right under Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also shed more light. However, it is not until I read the book The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk that gave me a profound understanding of Conservatism. In it I discovered a figure whom many call the father and the first Conservative Edmund Burke.

A book review is in order someday but the main point that Kirk drove home with Burke as an example is that Conservatism was not an ideology or systematic set of ideas like religion but a way of life a habit of mind in which time tested truths, traditions, ideas and principles were upheld and incorporated into personal lives and the broader society. Therefore, the importance of Conservatism was not so much liberty (both on the individual and societal level) but an order and discipline that made liberty possible in the first place. It really took the enlightenment principles that I grew up with in the public schools in this country and turned it upside down.

As I took all of that in, I realized why my Christian faith was so compatible with Conservatism because so much of the origin seeking and upholding nature of it is what a Christian does. The Bible has withstood the test of time, a Christian seeks to conserve that. It also clarified to me that though Conservatism has its importance in politics, it is also a cultural term. In fact it can be argued that it places a deeper importance in culture and community than politics. After all, the goal in starting this website was not to be another website that focuses on political commentary (We have a recommendations page if you are interested in that arena), but to engage in the realm of ideas since ideas have consequences. Consequences in our personal lives, culture, and society at large. Right ideas bring about the right actions and vice versa. Though, the main focus is not on politics it is nonetheless an arena that reflects the many problems in our culture today and it is honestly how I have gained many insights into today’s culture. I believe the disintegration we see today from politics, to entertainment, to media and the overall culture is the reason why some are drawn into and believe that the answer lies in having the right politicians elected and the right policies enacted which is not necessarily wrong but it will never happen unless hearts and minds change within the nation and that is the fundamental change that needs to occur. The challenge is not to strive to engage the culture and change hearts and minds for the right political consequences to occur, as a means to an end. Instead the goal is to seek to change hearts and minds as an end itself, because of a true love and respect for our neighbor. The logic is that the right policies and politicians will arise naturally from a more virtuous nation overall.

That is our goal and the reason my colleague and I decided to start this new endeavor.  I personally hope to always strive for excellence and virtue in my own life lest I fall into hypocrisy and I also hope that it will foster the same in all of you as well. Once again no matter where you come from and whatever your background is I genuinely and humbly welcome you and appreciate any support you give our website.