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Righteous Indigenization

One of the favorite pastimes of many Canadians is to dismiss the United States as an unstable and violent nation. Still, this attitude of moral superiority doesn’t stop them from imitating American political fashions that come along. A few years after President Lyndon Johnson averred that America must become a “Great Society,” Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau insisted that Canada become a “Just Society.” Trudeau followed LBJ in expanding the powers of the managerial state in the areas of welfare, employment, and combatting discrimination. In the 1980s, the American idea of “affirmative action” became magically reinvented as “employment equity” in Canada. Since that time, group rights for aggrieved minorities have taken precedence over individual rights for all Canadians. The Conservative Party of Canada (also known as the “Tories”), once a principled opponent of Manifest Destiny, supported George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 (although the Liberal government at the time wisely kept Canada out of the war).

Now the radical politics of statue removal, which initially targeted various Confederate monuments, has migrated northward. It started this past January when the Mi’kmaq First Nation demanded the removal of a statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax (the city that he founded in 1749) on the grounds that Cornwallis, as governor of Nova Scotia, put a bounty on Mi’kmaq persons as punishment for a violent raid on a sawmill. Anyone who killed or imprisoned a Mi’kmaq received a cash reward for the deed.

The City of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, has upped the ante with a far more radical measure. The councilors in a 7-1 vote recently ordered the removal of a bronze statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from its place at City Hall where it had been standing since 1982. Mayor Lisa Helps chose to avoid public discussion, consulting only with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, who plan to conduct a “blessing, cleansing, and healing” ceremony on this site. The statue is to be put in storage while the municipal government, in the Orwellian words of Helps, attempts to “recontextualize” Macdonald’s place in history.

So, what is Macdonald’s place in Canadian history? Macdonald was not only the first Prime Minister of Canada but also the principal Father of Confederation, the founding of Canada that occurred in 1867. During his time in office (1867-1873, 1878-1891), Macdonald saved the country from American annexation by building the national railway that connected East with West. He also worked hard to mitigate historic suspicions that pitted English Canadians against French Canadians. Macdonald not only kept a diverse nation together but also created the conditions for economic prosperity and political stability that Canada enjoyed well into the 20th century. (He was also the MP for Victoria from 1878 to 1882.) In American terms, the removal of his statue is analogous to pulling down a statue of George Washington.

What is the reason for this radical measure? The plaque that has replaced Macdonald’s statue says it all. It refers to him as a “a leader of violence against Indigenous peoples,” because he initiated the residential school system for aboriginal children. From 1876 to 1996, the federal government, with the assistance of Christian churches, ran boarding schools that promoted “assimilation,” namely teaching the language and culture of English and French civilization to these kids, who in many cases were taken from their parents. The impact of this process was considerable: by the 1940s, 8,000 aboriginal children (or half of the aboriginal student population) attended these institutions. The Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 concluded that this long experiment had been a disaster for these children, who were subjected to cruelty, deprivation, and violence (sometimes ending in death). The report also recommended that true “reconciliation” between the Canadian nation and the “First Nations” could happen only if Canadians go through a process of “indigenization,” principally more education that exposes the horrors of this school system as well as the overall suffering that these peoples have experienced throughout Canadian history.

It is unfair to suggest that Macdonald was devoid of sympathy for the aboriginal peoples. In May 1880, he urged his fellow parliamentarians in the House of Commons to

remember that they (the Indians) are the original owners of the soil, of which they have been dispossessed by the covetousness or ambition of our ancestors … the Indians have been the great sufferers by the discovery of America and the transfer to it of a large white population.

However, the way in which Macdonald rationalized the legitimacy of the residential school system understandably grates on modern ears. Three years later, Macdonald justified the purpose of these schools in Parliament by insisting that Indian children are “savages” that “should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

As a classical liberal, I believe it is absolutely indefensible to allow the state to remove people, especially children, from their hearth and home except in cases of violence or abuse. Even though most Canadian leaders thought that this enforced pedagogy was the only way to help nomadic peoples adapt to a rapidly industrializing nation, it is never justified to establish the precedent of permitting Leviathan this degree of power over vulnerable populations.

Yet the most controversial charge that the Commission has leveled at Macdonald and his successors is that they committed “cultural genocide” by actively disallowing aboriginal children in these schools from learning about their own language, history, and culture. The implications of this accusation are massive. If genocide is truly at the heart of the Canadian identity, then the whole country may have to be placed in storage. Put differently, if Canada is truly on the same moral plateau as Hitler’s Germany or Pol Pot’s Cambodia, then we need to rebuild our entire nation from the ground up.

I doubt that many of my fellow Canadians have thought about what this project entails. Simply put, we will be required to go along with a state-sanctioned politics of purification. Our citizens (especially our children) are to be taught that the taint of historic injustice is so great that nothing pertaining to the Anglo-French experience in Canadian history is worthy of preservation. That is a terribly wrong lesson to teach, in light of Canada’s historic achievements as a politically moderate and stable nation. Macdonald himself deserves tremendous credit for this success. In a speech that he gave in 1865 (two years before Confederation), Macdonald insisted on creating a nation that would protect the “rights of minorities,” including those who disagree with majority opinion. This would be “the great test of constitutional freedom.”

Does a politics of purity, which reduces a nation to its historic injustices, allow for the civilized dissent that Macdonald championed? As Hegel explains in The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), this sort of politics is suited to a ‘beautiful soul’ who believes in his own moral superiority while he mercilessly judges others for their reprobate actions. Therefore, there is no reason to allow dissenting views, which are impure anyway. Yet this person is immediately vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy, or scrutiny of his own “impure” motives and behavior.

What Hegel calls an “inner moral conceit” at work here aptly describes the radical Left today, which reduces western civilization to a story of oppression, violence, and injustice. This politics of purity is bound to boomerang on its architects who must account for impurities on the Left. In Ottawa, the capital of Canada, there is a collection of statues known as the “Famous Five,” referring to five Canadian feminists (Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Irene Parlby) who successfully fought for women to be classified as “persons” under the law so that they could enjoy the same rights as men. Yet these same feminists vigorously defended eugenics for non-white races (including aboriginal Canadians) who were deemed “unfit” for childrearing. Is it time to remove their statues as well?

Nor does aboriginal history neatly cooperate with leftist revisionism. As the historian Leland Donald documents in his study Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America (1997), the practice of slavery was pivotal to the economy and social structure of these hunter-gatherer societies. Readers can also consult the journal of John R. Jewitt, an English armorer who was captured by the Nootka tribe in 1803 while part of an expedition exploring Vancouver Island. For two years, Jewitt was the personal slave of Chief Maquinna, and had a firsthand opportunity to see how fundamental the institution of slavery was to the Nootka. The aboriginal enslavement of European persons was not an isolated practice either. Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity, the slave trade eventually ended.

My purpose is not to score points in a game of tit for tat. Rather, I am issuing a warning to anyone who wants to play with the fire of purity-politics. If we cannot trust the state with the care of vulnerable children, why should we trust it with the power to rewrite or erase our history?

Reader Discussion

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on August 17, 2018 at 08:45:21 am

Words not to be used again: vulnerable, Semprini.

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QET
on August 17, 2018 at 09:21:15 am

They want to erase the past so they can install their own narrative. https://amgreatness.com/2017/12/06/monumental-dishonesty/

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Mark Pulliam
on August 17, 2018 at 10:10:17 am

Jacques Barzun, who lived one month short of 105 years and who spent his longevity in studying and writing about the history of western culture and ideas and who knew far more than most scholars about such matters, described the path of Western Civilization as one from "Dawn to Decadence." The ultimate wisdom of Barzun's story is to be found in its utter rejection of the morally-twisted, ideologically-driven, contemporary-but-fleeting, narrative of racial, sexual, economic and political oppression by white European and American males. It lacked credibility, Barzun concluded. Nor did Barzun see the process of decline as inexorable moral decay into intellectual desolation leading inevitably to cultural demise. Rather, Barzun's vision was that Western Civilization will be saved by its moral resiliency (a Judeo-Christian inheritance) and its intellectual creativity (a self- inheritance) and that a rebirth will ensue.

Dr. Havers' melancholy commentary describes but a milepost of self-desecration in an ongoing epic and says "Wake up" to a society in the throes of a bad dream.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds."

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Pukka Luftmensch
on August 17, 2018 at 13:41:38 pm

A good piece! If Macdonald's statue is to be removed, we need to remove those of every prime minister since his time up to Pierre E. Trudeau, all of whom continued and, in some cases, even expanded the residential school system.

Macdonald's relations with Aboriginal peoples was quite mixed but we have to ask ourselves what things would have been like if another PM was in power. When Macdonald's poor track record of living up to government promises made to Aboriginals in the West led to the North West Uprising of 1885, some Liberal members of the opposition in Parliament argued that his policies were too generous. The ardent social darwinists among the Liberals stated that no assistance should be given to the Aboriginals because such would work against the evolutionary processes that were leading to the extinction of their race.

Further, when Macdonald put a bill forward that would have given the vote to Aboriginals, the Liberal opposition voted against it. In 1889, under Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier (the hero of our current Liberal PM, Justin Trudeau), the government removed the limited right to vote which Macdonald's government had granted to Aboriginals.

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Robert Burkinshaw
on August 17, 2018 at 14:15:10 pm

apt. pungent, poignant and to the telling point---good to see fine and thoughtful arrows taken from quiver and fired well
to bull's eye of the issue.
Ron Dart

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Ron Dart
on August 17, 2018 at 15:21:47 pm

Oh, heck, THEY are not going far enough.
Shouldn't "indigenization" involve confiscation of all monies, properties AND privilege that these oppressive and beastly descendants of European conquerors now possess.Pukka:

Careful now, these loonies ARE taking your advice,
They are not conformed to this (horrid European) world BUT they are in fact attempting to transform both minds and the world.

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gabe
on August 17, 2018 at 16:08:39 pm

In “Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity, the slave trade eventually ended,” Dr. Havers unintentionally expresses part of the problem.

The Church has long hidden the fact that it runs a child abuse business, and believing parents continue so support “the faith.” The failure of believers to consider the Church’s role in the slave trade is pitiable on their behalf and enraging on the behalf of a civic people---those with mindfulness for mutual, comprehensive safety and security during life, benefitting from the-objective-truth.

Slavery was accepted 3800 years ago in the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia and 2800 years ago when the Greek civilization emerged. The priests who canonized the New Testament in 405 AD could have admitted the observation Frederick Douglass expressed in 1852: “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.” Yet the priests felt assured they would not suffer beatings when they canonized 1 Peter 2:18-21.

Papal bulls in the 15th century “authorized” African slave trade by Portugal then to Spain in order to support colonization to take the gold and other treasures found for the glory of their god. Later, Protestant kings competed for their god and Jesus. How will Canada and Europe respond to African-American Christianity? What do believers believe?

One approach for monuments is to create plaques that commemorate the really actual history so that peoples, neither today nor in the future, repeat past mistakes. How Christians deal with the facts is a private affair, and that is the most urgently needed message: It is immoral for the world to continue to bear the burdens of Christianity.

The Confederate States of America in 1860 declared secession, listing complaints against their own Union of States. They concluded, “. . . all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.” See http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp.

The great, erroneous politician Abraham Lincoln responded to CSA war threats in his 1861 inaugural address, “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.”

Monuments to CSA celebrities should be preserved with plaques that record the failure of Christians to respond to Frederick Douglass’s 1852 plea to fellow citizens. See https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945.

Civic citizens may separate public morality from religious hopes: preserving life from enhancing afterdeath; collaboration from cooperation; mutual discovery from conflicted opinion; belief from integrity. Monuments and plaques may celebrate civic integrity.

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Phil Beaver
on August 17, 2018 at 16:19:58 pm

In “Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity, the slave trade eventually ended,” Dr. Havers unintentionally expresses part of the problem.

The Church has long hidden the fact that it runs a child abuse business, and believing parents continue so support “the faith.” The failure of believers to consider the Church’s role in the slave trade is pitiable on their behalf and enraging on the behalf of a civic people---those with mindfulness for mutual, comprehensive safety and security during life, benefitting from the-objective-truth.

Slavery was accepted 3800 years ago in the Code of Hammurabi in Mesopotamia and 2800 years ago when the Greek civilization emerged. The priests who canonized the New Testament in 405 AD could have admitted the observation Frederick Douglass expressed in 1852: “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.” Yet the priests felt assured they would not suffer beatings when they canonized 1 Peter 2:18-21.

Papal bulls in the 15th century “authorized” African slave trade by Portugal then to Spain in order to support colonization to take the gold and other treasures found for the glory of their god. Later, Protestant kings competed for their god and Jesus. How will Canada and Europe respond to African-American Christianity? What do believers believe?

One approach for monuments is to create plaques that commemorate the really actual history so that peoples, neither today nor in the future, repeat past mistakes. How Christians deal with the facts is a private affair, and that is the most urgently needed message: It is immoral for the world to continue to bear the burdens of Christianity.

The Confederate States of America in 1860 declared secession, listing complaints against their own Union of States. They concluded, “. . . all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.” See http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp.

The great, erroneous politician Abraham Lincoln responded to CSA war threats in his 1861 inaugural address, “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.”

Monuments to CSA celebrities should be preserved with plaques that record the failure of some Christians and other citizens to respond to Frederick Douglass’s 1852 plea to fellow citizens. See https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945. Havers suggests there are Canadian analogs.

Civic citizens may separate public morality from religious hopes: preserving life from enhancing afterdeath; collaboration from cooperation; mutual discovery from conflicted opinion; belief from integrity. Monuments and plaques may celebrate civic integrity.

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Phil Beaver
on August 18, 2018 at 10:32:00 am

I regret multiple postings and would appreciate the owners deleting one of my two identical postings on August 17. I think this revision expresses better a shared opportunity for civic integrity.

Dr. Havers draws attention to Louisiana civic citizens with, “Now the radical politics of statue removal, which initially targeted various Confederate monuments, has migrated northward.” Civic citizens in the U.S. (especially Richmond, VA) and in Canada my share experiences, observations, and ideas for reform.

I’m in Louisiana and recall New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, speaking about removal of statutes that commemorate Civil War leaders: He didn’t know where removal ends but knew where it would begin. A New Orleans writer opined on July 13, 2015 that it began with Landrieu’s ignorance; http://uptownmessenger.com/2015/07/owen-courreges-before-you-tear-down-a-statue-shouldnt-you-know-who-it-depicts/. Landrieu acts on abject ignorance that could lead to the removal of St. Louis Cathedral and the rest of Jackson Square.

Dr. Havers claims, without stating the evidence, “Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity, the slave trade eventually ended.” The Church started the Atlantic-African slave trade!

The Church could have rejected slavery when priests canonized the New Testament in 405 AD. They could have admitted the universal observation that Frederick Douglass expressed in 1852: “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.” Priests perhaps felt exempt from literal beatings when they canonized 1 Peter 2:18-21.

Consequently, papal bulls in the 15th century “authorized” African slave trade by Portugal (http://ldhi.library.cofc.edu/exhibits/show/african_laborers_for_a_new_emp/pope_nicolas_v_and_the_portugu) then by Spain, also under the Doctrine of Discovery. Later, Protestant kings competed. The Church unleashed a human story that is not complete.

How may Canada and Europe respond to African-American Christianity? See https://www.wsj.com/articles/dr-kings-radical-biblical-vision-1522970778? Does the Christian God intend the chosen people to be black skinned? I’m not theorizing: I understand that view from Jeremiah Wright's speech here in 2015; https://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2015/02/jeremiah_wright_tells_a_southe.html. Fortunately, black citizens in Baton Rouge do not think with their skins, rather behave as civic citizens or fellow citizens, as Frederick Douglass expressed it.

One approach for monuments is to create (replaceable) plaques that commemorate continually discovered history so that peoples, neither today nor in the future, repeat past mistakes. Christianity is a private pursuit, but its global impacts are civic issues. If not private constraint; civic; if not civic; civil; if not integrity, force, as in the U.S. Civil War.

The Confederate States of America, in 1860, declared secession, listing complaints against their own 1788 Union of States and denying their 1774 pledge in perpetuity. They concluded, “. . . all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.” See http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp. (The erroneous Christian belief was rendered bare by defeat and death in proportion to eight million citizens at today’s population.)

Unfortunately the expert politician, Abraham Lincoln, responded unmindfully to CSA war threats in his 1861 inaugural address, “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.”
Lincoln could have civilly stated that the seven-state CSA proposed war against twenty-seven states with superior military power. He could have quoted fellow citizen Frederick Douglass! He could have shamed the Church and churches that did not support emancipation of the slaves. He could have shamed Bleeding Kansas.

Monuments to CSA celebrities should be preserved with plaques that record the failure of some Christians and other citizens to respond to Frederick Douglass’s plea to fellow citizens. See https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945. The Atlantic slave trade had ended soon after the target, 1808, but the internal slave trade was prolific as Douglass spoke in 1852. Havers suggests there are Canadian analogs.

Citizens who are believers may separate civic morality from religious hopes: collaboration from cooperation; mutual discovery from conflicted opinion; belief from integrity; preserving life rather than comforting death. Monuments and plaques may celebrate civic integrity. No one knows the-objective-truth, but plaques may be updated as discovery occurs.

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Phil Beaver
on August 18, 2018 at 11:35:05 am

"Monuments and plaques may celebrate civic integrity."

They (monuments) may also serve as testaments to idiocy and and the delusional grandiosity of aberrant thought processes.

However, to acknowledge that unpleasant fact would be considered by some to be "un-civic."

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Guttenburgs Press and Brewery
on August 18, 2018 at 15:26:14 pm

Quoting my 8/17 post, "a civic people—those with mindfulness for mutual, comprehensive safety and security during life, benefitting from the-objective-truth."

The ability to collaborate to discover the-objective-truth distinguishes a civic people from fellow citizens who are dissidents to comprehensive safety and security. For their reasons, dissidents perceive they do not need civic morality: egocentric morality will suffice. Among the dissidents are evils, criminals, doctrinaires, tyrants, ignoramuses, innocents. Some civic citizens need assistance and fellow citizens provide. Some fellow citizens think crime pays, even after they are caught and incarcerated. The Church has maintained the person-abuse business for reasons only the pope might be asked to explain.

I have yet to encounter a person who is willing to discuss the phrase from the CSA's declaration of secession, even though I have many times quoted R. E. Lee's theism (erroneous I think) in his 1856 letter to his wife, four years after Frederick Douglass's statement I quoted earlier. See Lee's lament against abolitionists in https://leefamilyarchive.org/9-family-papers/339-robert-e-lee-to-mary-anna-randolph-custis-lee-1856-december-27.

Jeremiah Wright seems to assert that Lee was right, but the slaves God intends have white skins and the masters have black skins. People may regard Wright's point as un-civic, yet stonewalling him blocks civic integrity. Wright's opinion is an unpleasant fact, and I know not how deeply it represents African-American Christianity. However, we may know that England already experienced the challenge.

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Phil Beaver
on August 18, 2018 at 16:51:33 pm

Obviously, you are OFF YOUR MEDS AGAIN:

Get thee back to the cuckoo's Nest!

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gabe
on August 18, 2018 at 17:24:24 pm

In re meds:

The dysphoria is noteworthy, and whether it's the consequence of taking them or of not taking one's meds may be the question for some, but for me it's a mere matter not of medicine but of intelligibility.

Wally Cleaver understood the Beave and was able, at times, to set him straight with big-brotherly advice.
But I just do not understand what the man is saying, so sub silentio, whatever it is he's discussing I leave it to Beaver, whatever the meaning of "it" or "is" is.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on August 18, 2018 at 17:42:27 pm

"gabe" your AI (artificial intelligence) should have learned by now not to respond to my posts.

I remember when you invited me to Coventry. I said MWW and I love to travel. I asked you for your address; when you did not respond, I looked up the slang usage. I love to tell the joke.

I'm not about to agree again to visit your nest even to have a beer.

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Phil Beaver
on August 18, 2018 at 18:03:31 pm

I apologize for the lose "it" you may be referring to; I sometimes repeat nouns in the same sentence to avoid pronouns. Also, any lose "is" that may have stumped you; I try to use "seems" and other soft verbs.

As for your civic abuses of my name, I like an old saying: Let a sleeping log die.

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Phil Beaver
on August 18, 2018 at 20:05:39 pm

Touche your "log die" rather than dog lie .

Every bit as unimaginative and uncivil as my "leave it to Beaver."

But, importantly, mere civility requires no less than a tough hide.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on August 20, 2018 at 09:09:54 am

Heya Ron.
Andy here .
I've enjoyed a book of yours I moocher from Lazar.

Totally agree with your comment and enjoyed the crafting of your literary wit.

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And2

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.