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Solzhenitsyn's Line in Dallas

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

With the great Russian’s famous sentences before him, a Dallas native and long-time friend of this blog, John Zmirak, has produced the best thing yet written about Friday’s treason against the men in blue.

Last night, someone tore out a piece of America. Five hard-working, brave policemen of the City of Dallas are dead. Seven others lie wounded, as do two civilians. Racial resentments, not wholly groundless, have been needlessly inflamed. All this in Dallas, a vibrant, economically thriving city where before the shooting, cops were posing for photos with the Black Lives Matter protestors whom they were there protecting; where misconduct by members of our highly diverse police force has plummeted thanks to higher quality training; where the black citizen carrying the AR-15 whom someone misidentified as a suspect was in fact a law-abiding gun owner exercising his Second Amendment rights, who handed his rifle to the cops in case they needed it.

As Dallas Police Chief David Brown said at the prayer rally I just left in downtown Dallas’ Thanksgiving Square, “We will not let that person steal this democracy from us.” The mood here isn’t sour. At that rally, evangelical preachers black and white, a rabbi, an imam, and the city’s Catholic bishop led a multiracial crowd of more than 1,000 in prayers for the police and for racial healing. We held hands and prayed, and the Salvation Army band sweltered for our benefit, playing “God Bless America.”

Nationally, things are bleaker. Social media bubble with charges and counter-charges. Each of the major presidential candidates is so divisive that it’s a blessing neither of them chose to visit. It’s also very sad: presidential election opponents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, even George W. Bush and Al Gore, could have (and probably would have) changed their plans and made an appearance in Dallas, after the worst strike against law enforcement in more than 100 years. This year, neither of the candidates has any place preaching healing or unity.

Just before adducing Solzhenitsyn’s line, Zmirak articulates some fundamental truths, relating to very sensitive matters, which are forever wanting articulate repetition.

Last night brought me back to New York City in the 1970s. If you’ve never seen it, Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam is a powerful document of memory. It immerses you in the moment when a rampant serial killer (Son of Sam), a record heat wave, an electrical blackout and massive street looting brought our nation’s greatest city to the brink of civic collapse. The film depicts the powerful role that racial division plays in making order harder to keep and justice tougher to find.

But ultimately, it isn’t the conflict between one group and another that causes chaos. In a lily-white society like 1930s Germany, or an all-black republic like 1990s Rwanda, we will still find sufficient divisions to make us hate each other, if that’s where our hearts incline. And incline there they will, if we don’t push back continually against the powerful currents that otherwise sweep us along — the world, the flesh and the devil.

Read the whole thing.

I will add that there is hope, even in the midst of treachery, slaughter, manic recriminations and ancient bitterness.

Zmirak mentions briefly that his city of Dallas, under the emollient influence of sagacious reform, has improved both its crime rate and its relations between police and free citizens. The First and the Second Amendment to our Constitution are respected in Dallas: which statement, alas, cannot be said of some cities in this nation.

The more tenuous hope lies in this. A path is open to the cities and towns of America to emulate Dallas’s sagacious reforms, through that deliberative process of self-government by consensus, which is our birthright as Americans. Read Leon Wolf, an old friend and now Editor of Redstate, if you suppose that there is no sentiment on the Right for reform of policing. Read Matt Lewis or Rachel Lu if you think American eyes are blind to the tyranny of cruel or corrupt cops, which has been the particular burden of blacks to endure, even decades after the fetters of official tyranny were broken.

These are law and order conservatives, hard on the heels of a traitorous ambush of police officers, stating frankly that policing in America needs judicious reform. (I would add that prosecutors need judicious reform as well; the cavalcade of prosecutorial misconduct, alongside appalling incompetence, over the past few years, has likewise opened a lot of eyes.)

It remains to be seen if the Left will take yes for an answer. Already the instant resort to the sweet heroin of Gun Control has consumed many liberals from the President on down. But unless our liberals recommend disarming cops, that liberal narcotic needs to be emphatically set aside: at least long enough for consensus policing reforms — self-government by deliberation and choice — to commence in cities around the country.

The bad news is that we face the home stretch of a National Election featuring two candidates who, as Zmirak rightly asseverates, have no business preaching healing or unity. None. The best thing of all, sub specie aeternitatis, would be for both of them to shut the hell up.

The good news is that America’s people still, even at this late and dire date, have the manifest capacity to govern themselves, as free men and free citizens, who deeply desire to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Comments (21)

No offense, but enamored I'm not. The saccharine and fashionable racial and religious pandering stick in my craw.

"...resentments, not wholly groundless..."

Wholly groundless actually, have been for decades, and we're entirely sick of them.

Why didn't we enslave the Irish instead? Once we freed them that would have been the end of it - problem solved.

"...our highly diverse police force..."

Hooray. Our strength.

"...an imam..."

Oh spare me.

"As I sat peacefully eating Mexican food served me by third-generation Latinos, near a tired-looking black guy who’d just come from work..."

Please kill me now.

"...Spike Lee..."

A cinematographic immortal.

"...single mom..."

Cutesy bilge. MOTHER, damnit, MOTHER. And that's too generous.

"...the assembly line of soulless and godless public schools — some of them as grim and mediocre as the worst East German shoe factory."

'Soulless and godless' certainly, but 'grim and mediocre' isn't the schools, but rather the spritely vandals, huns, and ostrogoths who populate them.

Here the lefty educators are hoisted on their own petards - stuck with the fallacies that they themselves helped generate.

"...mom grew up malnourished with alcoholic parents..."

Now "mom" here is okay. After all, she's his mother.

"...our absolute need for Grace, which only comes in one color — the deep, rich red that flowed from the Cross."

I, an evil Joo, nevertheless have no quarrel with the pronouncement per se. But is Come to Jesus really an effective means of addressing the predators at issue?

Roger G,

That you choose to criticize Zmirak's rhetoric is fair game -- I happen to think some of your critiques miss the mark. I'm always happy to see a writer stick up for the power of Christ's Grace -- let's not forget that the Left in this country want to silence public voices calling for such Grace. As for whether or not Jesus can save us from the predators who roam our most dangerous streets, I agree it will take tough (but fair) policing to first lock these thugs up and then, maybe after years in prison, can Christ work on their hearts.


I remain torn on the issue of Police reform -- obviously both common-sense reform to hold bad apples accountable (which is a big issue here in Chicago) and efforts to de-escalate routine encounters with bad actors would be welcome. But when I read a piece like the one you linked to from Rachael Lu (a writer I normally like) I find myself frustrated with her emotional rhetoric. I watched the Alton Sterling videos (both that are available) and was not horrified or angry at the Police -- I was confused and unsure if they acted appropriately or were indeed worried that Mr. Sterling was going to reach for his gun and try and shoot them. I thought Derbyshire's take was better on these events:


I do think that he's too dismissive of actual abusive and criminal behavior by individual police; again I support certain reforms. But I want those reforms implemented in the context of an acknowledgement of the dangers police face in high-crime neighborhoods, the importance of policing in poor communities, the amazing work police have done in places like New York over the past 25+ years, etc. If we ignore this context I worry we get more dead cops:



First off, thanks for being so easy on me.

"That you choose to criticize Zmirak's rhetoric is fair game."

Rather, I was trying to criticize the ideas expressed by the rhetoric.

"I happen to think some of your critiques miss the mark."

Sorry, that's just not possible.

"I'm always happy to see a writer stick up for the power of Christ's Grace."

Me too. I'm no Alexander Portnoy, alienated by and resentful of the mainstream Christian culture. But I don't think plaintive appeals for repentance are going to work with these marauders. And anyway, that was just a minor, final aside to my prior main points.

"...then, maybe after years in prison, can Christ work on their hearts."

Now that's a virtual certainty. After all, they are called correctional institutions.

Oops. I should have been addressing Jeffrey S.

Now I have to be terrified of what Paul's going to do to me. Not to mention Mr. Zmirak, if he even notices or cares.

I'm embarrassed that, only with assistance from Paul and Jeffrey S., it's finally starting to sink in.




God forbid, occasionally a cop gets murdered.

But outside of Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, and The Night Chicago Died, who the hell guns down five of them?!!

What is this, the 20th Maine at Little Round Top?

More and more, bad fiction is taking over.

Good post, Paul.

One problem with these situations is that they always seem to favor the lumpers rather than the splitters. As a die-hard splitter, I find that my sense of logic (if nothing else) is offended when two "incidents" of police shooting happen within a few days of each other, and the left assumes that they fall into a Natural Kind just because both of the people shot happen to be black! The Castile incident seems to me to be far more dubious for the police on its face than the Sterling case. It's pure _chance_ that the two happened near in _time_ to each other. This is a huge country. Lots of things happen near in time to each other.

Moreover, the reflexive racial narrative is another impediment to cool-headed thinking. I'm far more concerned about the way that the Castile incident reflects gun-o-phobia on the part of the police, even for legal carriers, and the way that the reflexive defense of the policeman in that case (among Facebook friends-of-friends, for example) reflects an apparent willingness to treat the police as wild animals liable to "go off" at any moment and kill innocent people and to take this as Business As Usual. Because, after all, they're nervous, they have to deal with bad guys every day, etc. Which is a terrifying attitude for a free people to take and would _probably_ not be what the person would say if it were his own innocent relative who got killed at a traffic stop for carrying, informing the officer that he was carrying, and then not knowing how to walk through some precise, delicate, scripted dialogue and set of hand movements while interacting with the policeman.

Meanwhile, police are murdered by what are, without exaggeration, racist domestic terrorists.

So what we have here is a Godawful royal mess. And the race baiters and demagogues of all kinds will try their best to take advantage of it.

Wow, Roger, I didn't react at all that way to Zmirak's post. Is it plausible, on the basis of this article by Zmirak, that he and I would disagree on some things related to race? I suppose it's somewhat plausible. Maybe, for example, he thinks blacks *as a group* have more to resent towards whites (or police) *as a group* than I do--hence, the phrase "not wholly groundless." I can get more conjectural and guess that he would disagree with me about Islam, hence his unaffected listing of the imam. Heck, I can get more conjectural still and conclude that maybe he admires Martin Luther King, Jr., while I have severe reservations about him. But at this point we're going well beyond the article itself to conjectures about the person's other beliefs about other things he doesn't even discuss.

In short, I think what you're reacting to is the fact that Zmirak shows a concern, often visible in mainstream conservative circles, for racial harmony and unity *as such*, and that bugs you, because it sounds vaguely "lefty" to you for him to mention things like racial variety in the restaurant and so forth.

May I suggest, gently, that such a strong reaction may well reflect your hanging out a good deal on-line with conservatives of such a different stripe that they have become embittered and that they don't see the _objective_ value in racial harmony and hence reflexively sneer at all of Zmirak's rhetoric and terminology? After all, Zmirak isn't wrong to say that we have a very sobering problem of racial division in our country and that it's flaring up right now. That almost seems like a truism. Zmirak knows as well as anyone that it's the left that is fueling this division--both in policy and in rhetoric. But that context certainly explains his repeated allusions to the fact that Dallas, and his neighborhood in particular, was actually having some success at overcoming those divisions and hatreds. It's not a good idea to be so "reactionary" that we are sickened by such comments or by such values. Americans of a variety of races are going to have to learn to live with each other if they aren't going to kill each other. That's just a practical fact, whatever disagreements are possible about history and "root causes."

And it's not some wimpy, despicable, badly written, lefty tract or even some conservative writer who wants to be approved of by the left, but rather Scripture itself, that teaches us to yearn for the day when the redeemed will stand together, unified in praise of the Lamb, from every tribe and every nation.


Thank you also for going easy on me.

I just don't see the issue the way (I think) Mr. Zmirak does. Instead I see it the way (I know) Paul Kersey (SBPDL) does and Larry Auster (VFR) did.

"In short, I think what you're reacting to is the fact that Zmirak shows a concern, often visible in mainstream conservative circles, for racial harmony and unity *as such*, and that bugs you, because it sounds vaguely 'lefty' to you for him to mention things like racial variety in the restaurant and so forth."

I disagree. I think I'm expressing disapproval of what I see as virtue signaling. If I'm wrong and/or being too harsh, then this certainly isn't the first time for either, and I apologize.

"May I suggest, gently, that such a strong reaction may well reflect your hanging out a good deal on-line with conservatives of such a different stripe that they have become embittered and that they don't see the _objective_ value in racial harmony and hence reflexively sneer at all of Zmirak's rhetoric and terminology?"

I'd prefer to think that I'm not a good boy corrupted by bad company, but rather a bad boy who agrees with the other bad boys. However, if I've been a dupe under their spell rather than thinking for myself and reaching my own conclusions, then more shame on me.

No, I don't view the problem as a "racial harmony" moral equivalence situation, involving two sides who must learn to live together, any more than I see a mugger and his victim as both being at fault and needing to resolve their differences.

The mighty Shrewsbury on Martin Luther King, Jr.:



Amen a thousand times to this:

"Americans of a variety of races are going to have to learn to live with each other if they aren't going to kill each other. That's just a practical fact, whatever disagreements are possible about history and "root causes."

And as you say, this is ultimately a Gospel message.

The way some so-called reactionary Christians write about this topic, you would think the only 'solution' to our racial divisions is mass expulsion of our black population, civil war, de-jure segregation, etc. Madness.

Meanwhile, some folks are quietly ignoring Left-wing crazies (and racists) and trying to build real communities at a local level that promote racial harmony (like Zmirak describes his own community, or like you find at many inner-city evangelical churches.) Sure, it is a small step toward 'fixing' the problems we have in this country, but it is certainly one to applaud and defend.

Anyway, these are a few examples of others' observations over the past 100-150 years. Everyone can decide their value, or lack thereof, for himself. Maybe they're at least of interest as curiosities. To avoid moderation, I'm providing two per comment. Here are the first two:


Regarding Jeffrey S.'s and Lydia's repeated allusions to biblical principles, maybe there's an issue here that also has been addressed at VFR:


Then again, maybe not. I myself am hardly certain, and I only present the matter for consideration

I think that'll be enough of the types of links represented in your 9:49 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. comments, Roger. It's Paul's thread, but I heartily doubt that he will be likely to think otherwise.

Roger, this is going to seem a bit off topic, so bear with me.

Back on July 17, 2010, I was *personally* "chased," stopped, and held at gunpoint (by no fewer than 10 (ten) local police officers) under the auspices of (police invented) "child abduction." In order to "cover their own asses," these same police (otherwise good husbands, fathers, citizens, I'm sure), concocted a series of charges against me that were altogether false - "evading police," "resisting arrest," "carrying an open container of liquor in my vehicle," etc.

Now, I "get" where you're coming from on black violence and all of that, but one reason some of us have come more to "understand" the black perspective is because of incidences like my own in McAlester, 2010. I can go into more detail (and I have, in a series of comments at this site) but the larger point is that police have lost their senses in many cases of late, and not just involving blacks.


Indeed I do remember reading a full description of your incident - maybe at View from the Right, but probably at Diary of a Mad Housewife.

The police themselves were the criminals in that encounter. You could even have been killed, and the truth never would have surfaced.

By the way, of the four works linked at my July 10 9:49 p.m. and 9:50 p.m comments in this thread, the first is a book by a black (well, colored anyway) Union army veteran. The fourth is a famous 1963 Commentary magazine article by Norman Podhoretz; a pdf of the complete piece is available online. It caused a sensation when first published, and is still discussed today.

And now I'll hijack the thread altogether, but I don't think anyone will care, and hopefully this is interesting. And it's (an admittedly inconsequential) slice of actual American history that I myself witnessed.

No doubt you know the movie Remember the Titans, about the 1971 football team of T.C. Williams high school, in Alexandria, Virginia. The film itself is fictionalized blather. By 1971, Alexandria was totally subsumed within the metastasizing DC metro area, and no longer part of the South. Race was totally irrelevant in the merger of George Washington and Hammond into the already existing T.C. Williams; Parker Gray, the colored high school, had closed in 1965, with it's students being dispensed among the remaining three. Nor was race an issue for the storied football team. Now all this stinking consolidation did keep putting athletes, yearbook staffs, and so forth out of work (when even in the smaller schools, there hadn't been enough places for all who wanted to participate), but the jackass bureaucrats didn't care.

The movie threw me for a loop, because in a strange way it does recount something that not only really did happen, but even in Alexandria itself, though at this point I don't know anyone but I and my brother who remember the truth. It has always seemed impossible to me that Disney could have picked this school and city without cognizance of the actual events. I guess they did, but it sure seems a bizarre coincidence.

You could even say that I'm in the movie. I'm the little white girl. And Rickie Napper was the little black girl.

To explain.

As I said, something vaguely of the sort really did occur. And in Alexandria. But it wasn't 1971, but 1962; at that time, Alexandria was still part of the South. And it wasn't fall, but summer. And it wasn't high school football, but American Legion (age 16-18) baseball.

Posts 24 and 129 were, respectively, the Alexandria white and colored Legion posts. My father's friend Herbert Napper, a prominent Alexandria businessman, was commander of Post 129. For the summer of 1962, Post 129 wanted to field its first team, and they wanted it to be integrated. My brother, though only 13 and short for his age at that (he's 5'4" now, and I'm 5'6" - we're all short) was a prodigious ballplayer (eventually a first string D1 college catcher, and prominent on some very very high level amateur summer teams). Mr. Napper put my brother on the team. The manager and assistant coach were Post 129 members, and of course black. There were black and white players. Mr. Napper's son Rickie and I, both aged eight (and in fact, fellow outfielders on our own youth squad), were batboys.

Oy what a summer! The clamor! The tumult! But never ever anything with the players themselves. Not the SLIGHTEST racial issue among the Post 129 boys. And absolutely NOTHING with the other teams. It was all from adults in the stands. "NIGGERS!!" "BABOONS!!" And OH the umpires! We got but nothing. At one point the guys were so disgusted they proposed substituting Rickie and me into the outfield. At the suggestion we bounced like hysterical little spawning salmon; we'd been fielding batting practice for quite awhile, and had begun getting a handle on the big field distances and trajectories. But of course nothing came of it.

In my mind's eye I still see my diminutive brother crouched at the plate, full sized pitchers storming down off the mound at him with blistering fastballs, he calmly hanging in and poking bloopers over the infield. He'll always be my hero.

And someone did scrawl "NIGGER LOVERS" on our Mercury Meteor. But nothing about Joos; he was even nice enough to use soap, not paint.

The only evidence I can show you, if you google "Louis Harris," you'll see he lasted a year with the Steelers, in 1968. He was a star at Parker Gray, and played for Post 129 with my brother. He worked for my father as an office boy, and became a lawyer himself; with the power company, I believe.

Many years later, my brother was attending an ophthalmologists' conference with a fantasy baseball camp as part of the package. All of the spastic doctors were issued uniforms for the big league teams where they hailed from. My brother wasn't having any of that affectation, but wore his old Federal Storage togs (if you're cognizant of amateur baseball culture from back when, you've heard of Federal Storage). Two former major leaguers in charge, John Roseboro and Vida Blue, did take notice. At the start, my brother approached them and asked that they go full bore on him, because he wanted to see what he could still do. At the end of the first day, Vida Blue came up to him and said, "Little man, who the ---- are you?" I wish to G_d I'd been there.

Hello again Terry,

My curiosity kept nagging me, so I located what I think is that comment of yours I remembered:


Did you ever find out what the hell prompted these crack peace officers to pick you, of all people, out of the blue for this outrageous and potentially murderous assault? Like, did someone call 911 to report a yellow Pinto, and you happened to be in a yellow Pinto, so they rousted you? Unbelievable! I'm the least litigious person you can imagine, but I can't believe you didn't sue.

Roger, I threatened to sue, which is why they dropped most of the intial charges. In pursuit of this, I acquired (to their great dismay) an audio copy of the original 911 call, and all police activity related to it. Immediately, thereupon, several charges against me were dropped. At the end of the day, Roger, I simply decided it "wasn't worth it" to pursue this any further. I may have been wrong to make that decision, but felt it the right decision foe me/my family at the time.

Also, Roger, I looked at that TTH thread. Yes, that is a very correct recital of what happened in my incident. Thanks for taking the time to look for it! There is, fyi, a more detailed recitation here at W-4, but the problem is that (1) I simply do not remember the exact topic of the O.P., and, (2), I don't have anymore the desire to look it up. At this point, Roger, I'm kind of "beat down" if you will. ...

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