Death dumps make Americans fearful

By Edward Achorn

Earlier this summer, I posted charts showing dramatic declines in deaths from COVID-19, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I hoped that people would feel less panicked if they could see the big picture — something most of the news media were not showing.

“What’s wrong with you?” asked some of my Facebook friends.

They argued that it was the Sunbelt’s turn to experience the crowded hospitals and death spikes that New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts had endured in April. They warned me that events would soon render my piece embarrassingly obsolete.

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Who elected Twitter and Facebook to censor speech?

By Edward Achorn

I have spent my professional life defending the First Amendment and the free-speech rights it enshrines. It is the bulwark of all our freedoms.

The attacks on it are proliferating alarmingly. Now, the most powerful social media platforms — which function as today’s public square — are arrogantly silencing a U.S. president.

If a president’s right to be heard in the public square may be freely assaulted, who is safe? This is extremely dangerous to self-government and the perpetuation of our civil rights.

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Canceling the debates

By Edward Achorn

Will the raging cancel culture now cancel the presidential debates? A former press secretary to Bill Clinton hopes so.

Joe Lockhart argued the other day that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden should not participate in any forum in which President Trump can express his views.

“We saw in the debates in 2016 Hillary Clinton showed a mastery of the issues, every point she made was more honest and bested Trump,” Mr. Lockhart told CNN. “But Trump came out of the debates doing better I think because he just kept repeating the same old lies: ‘we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it,’ ‘we’re going to keep all those Mexican rapists out of the country,’ and ‘we’re going to make great trade deals’ — none of these things have come to pass.”

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Americans are walking on eggshells

By Edward Achorn

Freedom of speech is the bulwark of all our liberties. Take it away — no freedom.

It is being taken away.

Strategies developed at universities to silence dissent and drive out those who support freedom have infiltrated our culture. People are being fired, doxxed, threatened, punched, smeared, and otherwise bullied for expressing views that were once at the heart of America.

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Stop destroying children’s lives

By Edward Achorn

The science is crystal clear. Children should return to school in the fall. They are remarkably safe from catching COVID-19 and from spreading it.

Cheating them of an education and social development again this fall would be incredibly cruel.

Yes, the news media have scared many people out of their wits. Polls find many parents are terrified of sending children to school. Teachers unions and other political entities hope, as always, to exploit these fears to advance their own interests.

But I pray it is still possible for parents and leaders to muster enough courage and decency to focus on children. Young Americans need thoughtful and well-informed adults on their side.

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A lament for journalism

By Edward Achorn

As a newspaperman for 41 years, I have watched with great sadness as many newspapers lost subscribers and advertisers. That decimated their ability to provide news and opinion.

Even sadder, though, was seeing newspapers abandon their core mission of holding the powerful accountable and defending America’s freedoms, especially the First Amendment.

When I started in the business in 1979, that mission served Democrats and Republicans alike.

As the years went by, people employed in the news media increasingly dropped the cloak of objectivity. They became advocates for progressive ideology. Journalists came to regard fairness and, in some cases, accuracy as impediments to their advocacy, which they believed served the public better than old-fashioned attempts at objectivity.

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COVID-19 and the panic narrative

By Edward Achorn

Many Americans remain terrified of COVID-19. The narrative of panic advanced by much of the news media fuels that feeling. In recent days, the focus has been on skyrocketing numbers of people testing positive for the coronavirus.

But there are very promising signs that the virus is burning itself out. After spiking earlier this year, death totals have fallen steadily — for 11 straight weeks, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. While every death is sad, the curve reassuringly looks like charts of flu deaths in past years. Deadly viruses tend to strike hard, claim lives, and then mutate and weaken.

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Knavery at universities

By Edward Achorn

It makes me sad, if not anguished, to see liberal values under constant assault on college campuses. Rising totalitarianism, political conformity, and bullying are taking over, with the blessings of administrators who are worried about protecting their own careers. This is occurring, sadly, at our most distinguished institutions.

Administrators and many faculty members are retreating from the thing that once made colleges great: free and fearless intellectual inquiry.

And they are retreating from something else. Common decency.

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Black lives really should matter

By Edward Achorn

Black lives matter, virtually every American believes. Unfortunately, some of the people carrying that banner seem to be advocating policies that have the opposite effect of protecting black lives.

Vast majorities of Americans, thank God, still believe in equal justice under the law, which is the American ideal. Virtually no one wants police officers to bully and kill minorities (or even whites). The outpouring of grief and outrage by Americans across the political spectrum after the death of George Floyd argued that point. They care and want things to be better.

But making the latest act of police brutality emblematic of the American people is not only a gross distortion of reality but a prescription for disaster, including for black Americans.

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China, censorship and Twitter

By Edward Achorn

There are good reasons for Americans to be concerned about the increasing efforts of social media giants to censor or curate political speech.

Along with the First Amendment implications, there is this big concern: These global companies, quite naturally, have financial interests. Those interests do not necessarily coincide with the safety and security of America and its people.

Notably, these corporations have a stake in the massive, expanding market of China. They could conceivably have powerful financial motivations to please that regime.

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