Re-Blogged From Hillsdale College
HUGH HEWITT: Morning glory, America, from the ReliefFactor.com West Coast studio where dawn is breaking over a smoky sky and Lake Elsinore is surrounded and battling to save its homes, its parks, and its wildlife. Here on the Hillsdale Dialogues, we look at the big issues and the big things that have mattered over the course of the week, the month, the year, the century, the millennium, indeed all of known human history with one or the other from Hillsdale College. All things Hillsdale at hillsdale.edu.
Now for the last three weeks we had the law firm of Moreno, Pestritto, and Carrington here, three great professors from Hillsdale College. Because Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, was off sailing, you know, just sailing away and having a summertime of fun and frolicking. But Moreno, Pestritto, and Carrington turned out to set the bar pretty doggone high, Dr. Larry Arnn. Welcome back to the Hillsdale Dialogue. But you got to know, they actually knew stuff.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah, they do. They do. But they’re not much use for anything else.
HUGH HEWITT: They’re very good teachers of constitutional doctrine though. You could actually get out of Hillsdale College pretty much ready for law school and in fact know a lot more than many con-law professors of my acquaintance if you had those three people.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah, a college professor is a phenomenon because to have the general kind of knowledge that you need to have at Hillsdale College and then have the deep knowledge that those guys and many others at Hillsdale have. It is a very impressive thing.
HUGH HEWITT: Before we talk about the issue of Charlottesville, which is going to dominate this weekend, I want– because it’s that time of the year when moms and dads sit down with kids, it’s August, and they start thinking about going to college. And they start thinking about where to apply. Hillsdale is a pretty difficult place to get into for a reason. But let’s tell people about why they will want to go there. And by the way, I have noticed that the left has figured out that you are the enemy. And they are coming after you in ways subtle and not subtle to try and keep young people of promise away from Hillsdale.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah, alas, Hillsdale College seems to have become important. And we reach a lot of people and we’re pretty good at what we do. And that’s not supposed to happen, is it?
HUGH HEWITT: No, it’s not. And it’s a threat to people that would prefer their college students empty headed and pliable.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah. The first class I ever taught myself at Hillsdale College was in the year 2000. And one of the members of that class has just been picked to clerk on the Supreme Court for Justice Gorsuch. And he’s a very bright boy. And he’s the fourth that I’ve had in class now.
HUGH HEWITT: Oh, my gosh. That is really remarkable. And they won’t tell you anything. Right? Maybe they’ll tell you something but you won’t tell me that they told you something. Because the clerk union is kind of complete. But that’s a remarkable record. So they all took the Churchill seminar?
LARRY ARNN: Yeah. That’s right. Did they all? No. Some of them took more than one thing. But sometimes Aristotle, most of them took the Aristotle course too. This boy’s name is Michael Francisco. He’s a man now, but he’s a talent. And I didn’t get them those jobs. They did that. And they went off to top law schools and they did really great there. And that’s partly because they studied with those professors that you mentioned.
HUGH HEWITT: I do have to think that a law school that is seeking to raise its LSAT and its professional reputation must search for a Hillsdale applicant. I think you must have. I’m not shining on the audience here. I’ll bet you a Hillsdale credential is one heck of a door opener at grad schools across the world.
LARRY ARNN: All of this is only anecdotal. We do have a good record of kids going off to important places or famous places to study in professional school and graduate school. But we have some anecdotes that suggest that they admit them first as a curiosity.
And then, you know, they do well. They’re pretty smart. And it’s the young people who are about to go off to college. And this time of year we get a lot of college visits for next year. Because that’s especially bigger in September and October but even in August–
HUGH HEWITT: Well, the roads are open for one thing.
LARRY ARNN: And you know, everybody’s thinking about college. And the point is college, you shouldn’t think of it as what you want to be except what kind of person you want to be. You should think of it as what you want to know. What would you need to know to call yourself an educated person?
And we have this big core curriculum. And it’s very difficult. And it’s very wonderful. Those three guys that you had while I was off playing—they teach one of the core courses. Of course, many other things too. But there are– I can’t remember how many there are. But there are 20-some core courses that everybody has to take. And that means we’ve got a faculty big enough to teach those subjects to everybody.
And that means the faculty work around a bunch of people who also know deeply what they’re teaching. You know, those three people that you had on your show, they’ve been around each other for years now. And they learn from each other. So you get this activity of learning going on. And that’s what college is about.
HUGH HEWITT: And I love the fact that whether it’s your NFL linemen, and you have a few, or your Supreme Court clerks, and you have a few, and all the Hillsdale College graduates who are populating Washington, DC, and there are many, have all pretty much taken the same thing. They’ve taken half at least the same thing. That’s why when I tell people Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, was number one at West Point, it means something because they all take the same thing.
So it’s a real number one. It isn’t number one in whatever the film studies course was. Right? It’s the real deal.
LARRY ARNN: That’s right. You know, if you get a valedictorian at Hillsdale out of the same department twice in a row, then the rest all start poking them that they’re getting too easy. But the truth is, they all took the core. And that’s right. That’s exactly right.
HUGH HEWITT: Now do you know Arthur Herman?
LARRY ARNN: I do. Yeah.
HUGH HEWITT: Arthur has gotten his new book out, 1917. Yesterday he posted a tweet with a picture of Lincoln, a quote from Lincoln.
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new we must think anew and anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.”
He had no comment on that. He just quoted Lincoln, put up his picture. What do you think he was intending to say, and what do you think is the applicability of Abe’s comment there to now?
LARRY ARNN: Well, I haven’t read Arthur’s book. But I’ve heard him lecture on it twice now. And it’s going to be riveting. Everyone should buy it. And of course, he’s dealing with this human thing, a bunch of revolutionaries inserted into the Soviet Union, into Russia, as a war measure by German intelligence. That’s how they got in there. Churchill writes, injected like a poison bacillus from a sealed train.
And of course, they were all– everything was awkward and terrible. And they couldn’t take the Winter Palace forever in Petersburg. And they finally took it by announcing to the country as best they could that they had taken it. And that caused the people inside to despair. So by narrow margins, a movement got hold of a major country that eventually killed something like 100 million people.
And so– and that was, you know, Tsarist Russia fell of its own weight. And they almost instituted a parliamentary democracy. And they didn’t because of the violence of these guys who would eventually all murder each other except Stalin, the last man standing. So he may be thinking about that. I’m speculating.
But big revolutions, right? We live in a time right now when it’s settled doctrine in the academic world beginning 100 years ago that the country was badly founded and its government badly organized. And a new idea has to be implemented toward a new goal for the nation and a new way of living for its people.
HUGH HEWITT: And I think it’s actually bigger than the nation this time. I think Brexit combined with the rise of Trump combined with a great deal of dislocation everywhere– both very, very bad dislocation in Venezuela and very, very good dislocation in places like Australia– and in between dislocations. It’s just a time of massive disruption. It’s new. And so to get the new period right, you need some really old ideas.
LARRY ARNN: That’s it. Lincoln’s life– I have this quote that I’ve decided to make the watchword of my service at Hillsdale College. Lincoln decided to learn what the word “demonstrate” meant. And a journalist interviewed him after he gave one of his very greatest speeches and asked, “How do you think that?”
And he said, “Well, I ran into this word ‘demonstrate.’ I decided I’d try to learn what it meant. And I read lots of Blackstone. I didn’t get it. So then I went home, and I didn’t come back until I could repeat from memory all of the propositions of both books of Euclid.”
HUGH HEWITT: Welcome back, America, to Hewitt. It is time for the Hillsdale Dialogue to continue with Dr. Larry Arnn. All things Hillsdale are collected at hillsdale.edu as surely as all of these Dialogues dating back to 2013 are collected at hughforhillsdale.com.
We have been through a few Supreme Court Justice nominations in those years, including that of Justice Gorsuch. And we are in the middle of one now with Brett Kavanaugh, D.C. circuit judge whom I do not know. And I have yet to ascertain whether or not Dr. Arnn has ever met judge Kavanaugh. Have you?
LARRY ARNN: No.
HUGH HEWITT: So he is a stranger to us except by his 300-plus opinions. My first takeaway, Dr. Arnn, is that the Democrats are not arguing about one of those opinions. We know from the Neil Gorsuch’s hearing, there was the famous trucker on the road case. From Chief Justice Roberts’ hearing there was the four alone. My case, actually, that we brought up with John Eastman. So when they find a case to tee up, they go after it. They can’t find anything with him. What’s that tell you?
LARRY ARNN: He’s a very artful man. Here’s what I mean by artful. I think it’s like this. If you become an attorney, if you become an officer of the court, you take up a certain kind of life. And that kind of life is under much more demanding scrutiny if you’re involved in high law like judging at a big level. And he’s been doing that.
And so the best of these people sort of form their whole character around reasoning about the law. And it’s more than just their intellect. Their character is like that. I met Justice Gorsuch one time. And I told him, I said, “You’ve written the most rhetorically beautiful page in an opinion in modern times.” And he said, “Hogwash.” And I said, “I’ll prove it to you.” And I held up the page.
It’s the one where he diagrams an English sentence to find out what a statute means. And I said, “This is famous at Hillsdale College.” And he said, “Oh, my gosh. Is it accurate?” I said, “Yes.” Anyway, you see, what’s he like? What kind of man is he? And so it’s not that he’s reserved. I don’t think anybody has the foresight to live his entire life from the time he’s 22 hoping he’ll get nominated to the Supreme Court and never say anything controversial. I think that Kavanaugh has formed his life around service to the law and the freedom it guarantees.
HUGH HEWITT: And that, as a result, a lengthy record lived according to first principles is going to reveal first principles.
LARRY ARNN: That’s it. That’s it. These guys– here’s the thing I’ve noticed. I know a few judges and a few of them pretty well. And I noticed that there’s that– they sort of have the separation of powers built into them. The few important judges I know, they have high principles. Right? They’re very strongly committed to lots of things in the same way I am. But they always stop, you know, because they carry around a little governor in them. Judges don’t make laws. The law says this. Precedents say that. And that’s a restraint in them that is very becoming because that’s what that institution is all about.
HUGH HEWITT: And I believe we can expect that from Brett Kavanaugh. And I believe the American people expect that of judges. And I also believe– and I just need your concurrence or dissent– we get this. Voters understand what courts do and where the court has been. They remember the Warren Court. They remember the difference between Republican judges. They know that Souter screwed us. They know that O’Connor abandoned us. They know that Justice Kennedy was unreliable. They know these things. And they like what the president is doing in response to that record of overreach.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah, if you mean by they a substantial active minority on both sides of the political spectrum, yeah, very much. Lots and lots of people know all that. And that’s why when there’s a Supreme Court nominee, people who know things know, by the way, this is not just about Roe v. Wade. It’s about the law and how the law works. And all of the things that the law does to protect our human rights, which is the purpose of the law. And so the political debate will narrow it to one thing or two. But that’s not really what it’s about.
HUGH HEWITT: And the people that know, on both left and right and in the center, know that this choice of senators and president also is a choice of the bench and the principles by which they will be governed from the bench. I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn. We talk about race in America when we return to the Hugh Hewitt show.
Welcome back, America, to Hewitt. The Hillsdale Dialogues are underway here in the ReliefFactor.com West coast edition of the Hugh Hewitt show. My guest Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, scholar extraordinaire, good friend, and a vacationer. He’s been off with Penny, the wonderful Penny. I hope you had a good trip. I hope you enjoyed your time off. The law firm of Moreno, Pestritto, and Carrington did well in your absence on the Hillsdale Dialogues, all of which are collected at hughforhillsdale.com. And all matters Hillsdale are at hillsdale.edu, including the opportunity to sign up for Imprimis. Dr. Arnn, if someone wishes to visit the college, can they make that arrangement via hillsdale.edu?
LARRY ARNN: They can. Or they can call our contact center. If you just call the college main number, you’ll get it and any of our 800 numbers are– and they’ll book you in right now. And they’ll set up an admissions tour and a hotel room if you need it and an interview if you’re a prospective student. And those are full all the time. And so sometimes people call me. And sometimes I intervene. And they make extra room. But it’s tight.
HUGH HEWITT: I got to tell people that having done this three times with three children– it’s been six or seven years since– actually it’s been 10 since I had to go out and do college tours, the tour is everything to a prospective student. And I imagine Hillsdale being as careful as it is with the education of the student is careful about their introduction to the campus as well.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah. We want them to know some things. Because we need to know some things about them. And most of those things we need to know have to do with their will. What do they want to do? And if they understand what we do, and we just try to explain that really clearly, then they have to do it. The college will fail if the students do not study. And study is hard. It actually takes courage because you feel overwhelmed sometimes, and you have to keep going. And it takes discipline. And it’s a joy. And, you know, when it ignites and everybody’s doing it, everybody’s talking about it, it’s a great activity. It’s the greatest activity.
But we want students who want to do that. And so the purpose of the tour is, you know, the tour will wow you. The College is pretty cool and good looking and happy. You know, most people at Hillsdale College are really happy to be there.
HUGH HEWITT: You cannot counterfeit joy.
LARRY ARNN: No, you can’t.
HUGH HEWITT: And so it’s either there or it’s not. And you’ll be surprised how many colleges are barren of it now. And I think that is because of the increasing politicization of years that ought to be if not apolitical at least political in the round, if you understand what I mean.
LARRY ARNN: Yeah. College means partnership. And so everybody has to feel at home and feel like they belong and feel like they can say whatever they want to say. And you can only achieve that, in my little opinion, by focusing in everything you do– recruitment and everything else– on the mission and purpose of the college. And that means we don’t ask 18-year-olds what their political opinions are, and we don’t care much. Sometimes kids will, you want to get into Hillsdale College, you can always say, I want to come to Hillsdale College. I’m a conservative. And I always say, what’s that? And then they are, right?
And I say, you know, one thing you’ll learn is when you get to college you’re supposed to know the meaning of words that you use. And find out what a conservative is, because it’s a little complicated, conservatism. It’s a derivative term. It refers to other things. And then to make the list of the things you want to conserve, we talked about one of them, the rule of law. What is that? Why is that right? What are the conditions of it? Took a long time to figure that out.
HUGH HEWITT: I am reminded, if you see Dr. Arnn on a college trip, John D. Rockefeller advised his children, “show as little surface as possible.” I’ve always loved that bit of advice. There are oceans of experience in that little bit of “show as little surface as possible.”
LARRY ARNN: And see on the other hand, oh, you prospective students, if you want to get in, we’re just looking for two things– willing and able. And we’ll usually be able to tell about able. And you’ll usually be able to tell about it too. Can you do this work?
But do you really want to do this work? And that should be an honest discussion. Lots of people come and visit Hillsdale College because their grandmother and their mother wants them to do that, probably that’s true in every college. But it’s certainly true in ours. And when we sense that, we always try to find out, OK, but what do you want to do. Because they’re not going to sit here in the library and study till midnight, you are. Or else you’re not going to do very well.
HUGH HEWITT: It’s a smart– it’s a process that I’ve sent people in to who have both thrived in it and who have turned away from it. But they’ve done so fully aware of the choice they were making. And that’s why I like it, unlike a lot of colleges that simply want your rear end in a chair because they have to make a quota. They have to get to a certain thing.
Dr. Arnn, I don’t know– I’m off topic here. I have chided Margaret Brennan of Face the Nationthis morning for talking about race in Charlottesville this weekend. I think the country is obsessed with the actions of a very, very few people. So now I’m going to do the same thing and talk to you about race. Harvard is caught in a terrible scandal. They have been discriminating wrongly against Americans of Asian descent. And it’s not even debatable that they’ve been doing this. Do you find yourself having to do that at Hillsdale, which would of course be inimical to the founding documents of the place?
LARRY ARNN: Well, we try to get the best ones. And we try to be need-blind. That means if you’re poor, you can still get in, and we’ll find some money. We have special scholarships now called the Frederick Douglass scholarships– because he was a great visitor to our campus twice– that’s targeted not by race but by economic factors. You know, really poor, we favor the ones who have serious poverty. And we hope to get more and more of those. And we have some and get more.
But we don’t pay any attention to race at all. And we don’t ask about it. We tend to meet all the kids now. So if they’re of a race where you can see what the race is, we know that. But we don’t write that down. And we try very hard to do the same thing with every one of them. And you know, the admissions counselors– that’s a phenomenon and it’s cool– those tend to be recent graduates who are very good students and very competent people and attractive people. And they love the college.
So one thing they’re doing is recruiting. They’re telling them how great it is. And that’s one reason why we have the Honor Code. Because I decided I would never get those kids to tell them consistently how hard it is. So we’re going to make them sign something. That was actually how the Honor Code was thought up.
HUGH HEWITT: Truth in advertising. So now we’re talking about race. It is not used at Hillsdale. Now listen carefully because the President of the United States has tweeted.
Two tweets, in fact. Number one, “The NFL players are at it again,” writes the president this morning. “Taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the national anthem. Numerous players from different teams wanted to show their outrage at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love.”
Second tweet, “Be happy, be cool. A football game the fans are paying so much money to watch and enjoy is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your national anthem or be suspended without pay.”
Now, Larry Arnn, people are going to attribute racial animus to this although race is not mentioned in it. Because the players, I think all of them last night, but perhaps just most of them, were African-American. What say you?
LARRY ARNN: Well, yeah, if you can’t stand up for the flag, the flag is the thing that protects your right to make a stink if you want to. And it’s rare. It’s a more common thing than it used to be that countries do that. But it’s still the exception. And, you know, I mean, try to do that in China, for example. What will happen? Your social score will go down. And you’ll find you can’t get a ticket on a bus or whatever it is they regulate.
So they should be proud of that. And the President didn’t say anything except he’s the president of the United States. He didn’t say anything except you ought to stand up for the flag. Good.
HUGH HEWITT: And so this obsession with race, the Charlottesville tragedy, the death that came about because of the collision of the racist right and the opposition to the racist right is going to be omnipresent on television this weekend. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
LARRY ARNN: Well, the goal– so just remember, this is a very hard thing where we are animals with human reason. And the defining thing about us is the combination of those two things. And so our reason is imperfect. And that means that we look differently upon people who look differently. And our principles in America require us not to do that. So the goal should be– requires us not to do that anywhere the law is concerned.
The goal should be– and I’ll insert here that the Christian doctrine is you’re supposed to love everybody. And, you know, especially the ones you might not like. So the goal should be the colorblind society. And if you just read the greatest speeches on race given, including one of the greatest, Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial, that is the goal. But isn’t that goal lost in all this commentary right now? Because it’s just an engine and a machinery to sort and categorize and count by race. And very seldom is it mentioned that we should not do that. We should, in fact, work toward a time where the goal is everybody who is a citizen of the United States is entitled to all of the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States.
HUGH HEWITT: I think that probably is as complete– I was thinking about trying to play Laura’s speech now. I have to wait until after the break. That, we’ll leave it there for after the break when we come back with Dr. Arnn. I don’t have time to play Laura’s monologue from two nights ago. I will when we return.
Welcome back, America, to Hugh at the Hillsdale Dialogues underway with Dr. Larry Arnn. All things Hillsdale are found at hillsdale.edu, including Dr. Arnn’s must-watch courses on Churchill and on the Constitution. The most talked about media moment of the week is Laura Ingraham’s monologue on FOX NewsThursday night, Dr. Arnn. So I’m going to play it for the audience and then get your commentary. Here is Laura.
LAURA INGRAHAM: Now this is a sure way, over time, to remake in 2017, this is another completely absurd scenario. Everyone is gaming the system. Now this is a sure way, over time, to remake and reshape America. This is exactly what socialists like Ocasio-Cortez want, eventually diluting and overwhelming your vote with the votes of others who aren’t, let’s face it, too big on Adam Smith and the Federalist Papers. And as for those minivan driving women from the 1990s, well, newsflash, Alexandria. Most of them are still alive, and they vote. And I bet most of them don’t like the lawlessness at the border and the crime it brings into our country.
I have to believe that most American women are smarter than to fall into the socialism open borders trap. It’s clear that we need a reset on the entire issue of immigration, illegal and legal. It’s time that the president gives a formal address to the nation, preferably one from the Oval Office. He should lay out his agenda and the cost to the nation of not pursuing it. As he said before, merit-based legal immigration is fantastic. But what we have now is a complete farce. And we’re all paying for it. Some, as you saw with those examples, more than others.
The president can be so persuasive. So give us the whole truth, Mr. President– the good, the bad, and yes, the uncomfortable. This is a national emergency. And he must demand that Congress act now.
There is something slipping away in this country, and it’s not about race or ethnicity. It’s what was once a common understanding by both parties, that American citizenship is a privilege and one that at a minimum requires respect for the rule of law and loyalty to our Constitution. And that’s the angle.
HUGH HEWITT: So Larry Arnn, she said it’s not about race or ethnicity. And yet all of the American mainstream media says it’s about race and ethnicity. Is it possible to overcome the judo move on any of these conversations?
LARRY ARNN: Yeah. Sure. You just have to mind your words and keep explaining. But I don’t think most people agree that that would be a racist statement. She mentioned, apparently– see, you only told me about this this morning. Because I’m blissfully ignorant of stuff like this, mostly. But she said something about demographics. And I looked up the etymology of that word. In fact, I already knew it.
Demos means the people. Interesting, some time we’ll explain how demos, which is cognate with dime, 10. How did 10 come to mean the people? But there’s a reason for that. And graphos means to write. So demography is just writing about the people. And that discipline in the academy is studying up the people. What is it about the people?
And when she says demographic changes, then, that could mean lots of things. And she gives a clue as far as I can parse out her words as to what she means. She says– she points to a merit-based system. And, you know, I favor and you have favorably, we have favored together on your show, a point system after the fashion of Canada such as is proposed by our friend Tom Cotton, which I think would make all this not controversial.
And the points would not be assigned in any way according to race. As Tom Cotton likes say to me, “The first criteria would be age. That means you won’t get in, Arnn.”
HUGH HEWITT: I will. You can lie on the radio. You can’t lie on TV. You can lie on the radio.
LARRY ARNN: That’s right. So you know, and why? Because we want people who will be productive citizens. And there are ways to figure that out. Can you make a living? That’s a crucial question. What skills do you have? What work history do you have? Have you committed crimes? You know, in other words, just– and that’s not even too hard. And many of the criteria– and I think all of them could be and should be– are not very hard to find out. And if you’ve got two or three of them, it’s probably fine. And I personally favor lots of immigration according to a points system not based on race.
HUGH HEWITT: Amen. And it’s so much– but here’s the problem. You can say it like you just said it. Or you can say it in a torch lit parade, in which case you’re not really saying what you just said. You’ve got to make an argument about it. You have to persuade people. And that’s what Tom Cotton is doing. It’s what you and I are doing. You cannot be part of emotional outburst and expect to persuade anyone to change things in a way that will help everyone.
Dr. Larry Arnn, always a pleasure to have you back. Though, we did like the law firm. And I look forward to having those guys back. They were fun. They didn’t make fun of me. They were nice to me. It was really quite a change for the Hillsdale Dialogues.
LARRY ARNN: No wonder you liked them.
HUGH HEWITT: I got soft during August. Have a great weekend, America. Go to hillsdale.edu and get smarter. Go to hillsdale.edu and get better.