Tom McCaffrey

Most Recent Articles by Tom McCaffrey:

The Bulwark of Free Speech

Mar 6, 2018 — Tom McCaffrey

The Bulwark of Free Speech
Without secure rights of private property, no other rights are possible. Consider: I may erect a Christmas creche in my own front yard, but not in the town square. I may carry a concealed gun on my own land, but not on the public streets of most American cities. I may smoke in my own home, but not in a “public” restaurant in most states.

Free speech, at first glance, seems to belie this principle. On our public sidewalks and town squares freedom of speech is as secure as it has ever been. But in a country of 320 million souls, a speech given in a town square is insignificant unless its contents can be transmitted to a wider audience. And that is where private property comes in.


White Supremacy and “White” Culture

Jan 18, 2018 — Tom McCaffrey

White Supremacy and White Culture

“Rigor [in engineering education] accomplishes dirty deeds… disciplining, demarcating boundaries, and demonstrating white male heterosexual privilege,” says Donna Riley, head of engineering education at Purdue University. “Scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing.” (Engineering Studies, Dec, 2017)

To make any sense of this, one must visit the fever swamps of “white supremacy” scholarship. In the good old days, “white supremacy” referred to the ideology of groups like the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan. No more.


Unlearning Freedom

Nov 7, 2017 — Tom McCaffrey

Index of Economic Freedom
“We know that the desire for freedom is not confined to, or owned by, any culture; it is the inborn hope of our humanity.” (NPR, Oct. 19, 2017) So said former president George W. Bush in his recent criticism of fellow Republican, President Trump. The idea that, by their very nature, all human beings desire freedom is an unquestioned premise of modern liberalism. It underlay Mr. Bush’s efforts at nation-building in Iraq, and it has underlain a century and a half of U.S. immigration policy. And it is false.

According to Freedom House, 40 per cent of the world’s population today is free, while 60 per cent is only partly free or unfree. The Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, shows a map of the world in which economic freedom is confined to a just handful of countries, mostly in the English-speaking world and northern Europe. Freedom is the exception in the world today, as it has been throughout human history.


Moral Equivalence in Charlottesvile

Sep 18, 2017 — Tom McCaffrey

Violence is one of the “messy implications of fighting for liberation.” So say the Reverend Traci Blackmon and three other authors in a remarkable op-ed piece in the New York Times that ran in the wake of the recent events in Charlottesville. (NY Times, Sept 1, 2017)

The attitude of Reverend Blackmon and her fellow authors, all Christian ministers, can be summed up as follows: Violence comes with the territory. We don’t condone it, but we understand that it is unavoidable. If our efforts inspire some to commit violence, this will not prevent us from continuing our efforts, and it should not prevent others from joining us. At least our violence is committed in the service of a just cause, which is more than can be said for the right’s violence. (Reverend Blackmon is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, whose efforts contributed, among other things, to the murder of five police officers in Dallas in July of 2016.)


Deconstructing a Culture

Aug 22, 2017 — Tom McCaffrey

The tearing down of Confederate monuments was sure to be a divisive issue. Why raise it now, when the people of the United States are as divided as they have been at any time since—the Civil War? The question answers itself. It was raised now precisely because it would be divisive. But to say this is to call into question the motives of those who have raised the issue. Indeed.

Those who advocate tearing down the monuments accuse their opponents of racism. It’s an easy accusation to make, and not an easy one to refute. It places the moral onus on those who would defend the monuments to justify their actions, while deflecting moral scrutiny from their accusers.


Resurrecting an Essential Right

Jul 26, 2017 — Tom McCaffrey

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of the Colorado baker who was forced, in violation of his Christian beliefs, to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. The baker will argue that the state’s public accommodations law violates his freedom of religion and his right to “free expression.” The State of Colorado will argue that the baker’s refusal to accommodate the couple because of their homosexuality constitutes a violation of the couples’ rights.

If someone went about hitting people over the head for religious reasons, he would certainly be violating their rights. But anything less than the use of physical force infringes no one’s rights. A baker’s refusal to make a wedding cake for a couple, whatever his reason, is no more a violation of their rights than if he refused to attend their wedding.