Uncommon Knowledge
The Case against Revolution with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The Case against Revolution with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

June 30, 2020

As the United States and the world embark on fraught conversations about race, history, law enforcement, and the underpinnings of our very civilization, Ayaan Hirsi Ali joins Peter Robinson for an enlightening conversation. A refugee from Africa, Hirsi Ali fled to Europe to escape an arranged marriage, becoming an activist, (now former) member of the Dutch Parliament, and now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. With a different set of life experiences and perspective from American-born Blacks, Hirsi Ali discusses how, as a Somalian, she views America as the best place on earth for minorities to grow up and achieve their potential. While acknowledging the hardships and miseries that American Blacks have endured and that racism still exists in many quarters of American society, Hirsi Ali emphatically believes that America is more than capable of solving racial inequalities, provided it preserves the institutions that ultimately ended slavery and empowered the protest movements of the 1960s that birthed the Civil Rights Movement. As she wrote in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal, an opinion she reiterates on this show, “There will be no resolution of America’s . . . problems if free thought and free speech are no longer upheld as sacrosanct. . . . Without them, honest deliberation, mutual learning, and the American ethic of problem-solving are dead.”

Recorded on June 25, 2020

The Doctor Is In: Scott Atlas and the Efficacy of Lockdowns, Social Distancing, and Closings

The Doctor Is In: Scott Atlas and the Efficacy of Lockdowns, Social Distancing, and Closings

June 23, 2020

Recorded on June 18, 2020

Dr. Scott Atlas is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an accomplished physician, and a scholar of public health. For several weeks, Dr. Atlas has been making the case in print and in other media that we as a society have overreacted in imposing draconian restrictions on movement, gatherings, schools, sports, and other activities. He is not a COVID-19 denier—he believes the virus is a real threat and should be managed as such. But, as Dr. Atlas argues, there are some age groups and activities that are subject to very low risk. The one-size-fits-all approach we are currently using is overly authoritarian, inefficient, and not based in science. Dr. Atlas’s prescription includes more protection for people in nursing homes, two weeks of strict self-isolation for those with mild symptoms, and most importantly, the opening of all K–12 schools. The latter recommendation is vital for restarting and maintaining the economy so that parents are not housebound trying to work and educate their children. Dr. Atlas is also adamant that an economic shutdown, and all of the attendant issues that go along with it, is a terrible solution—the cure is worse than the disease. Finally, Dr. Atlas reveals some steps he’s taken in his own life to try to get things back to normal.

Jimmy Lai: The Last, Best Hope for Saving Democracy in Hong Kong

Jimmy Lai: The Last, Best Hope for Saving Democracy in Hong Kong

June 9, 2020

Recorded on June 8, 2020

When Hong Kong democracy advocate Jimmy Lai last appeared on Uncommon Knowledge in October of 2019, the situation in Hong Kong was dire but still hopeful. Now, eight months later, the situation has gone from bad to worse, and since that interview, Lai has been arrested twice. In this conversation, Lai explains the widening crackdown the Chinese Communist Party is imposing on Hong Kong, including his interpretation of the recently proposed national security law, which Lai believes will give China the ability to control all aspects of Hong Kong’s freedoms and culture and destroy the city’s financial and media businesses. Lai also makes a plea to the United States and the rest of the world: help Hong Kong by sanctioning China, because in the wake of COVID-19, the country is at its most vulnerable moment in the last 40 years. Says Lai, “If we surrender, we will lose [our] freedom, we will lose the rule of law—we will lose everything.” Whether the world will hear Lai and the rest of the Hong Kong protestors and take action on their behalf remains to be seen. Finally, we ask Lai why he continues the fight for democracy even against seemingly unsurmountable odds. A visibly emotional Lai responds: “Now is not the time for safety, now is the time for sacrifice. . . . I can’t leave; I will fight until the last day.”

Mitch Daniels: Plain Talk from the President of Purdue

Mitch Daniels: Plain Talk from the President of Purdue

June 4, 2020

Mitch Daniels is the former governor of Indiana (2005–13), former director of the Office of Management and Budget (2001–03), and current president of Purdue University (since 2013). In this wide-ranging conversation with Peter Robinson, Daniels discusses his insistence on keeping Purdue’s tuition below $10,000 and how he does it, his vision for Purdue that includes a mix of online and onsite education, and his efforts to hire an ideologically diverse faculty and recruit students from various backgrounds and ethnicities. He also shares his thoughts on the recent civil unrest, protests, and looting across the United States, and his plans on how to open Purdue and keep it open this fall amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis.

Ross Douthat’s Decadent Society

Ross Douthat’s Decadent Society

June 2, 2020

Recorded on May 28, 2020

In his new book, The Decadent Society, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat presents a theory: “Western society stopped advancing in the second half of the 20th century, and the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of ‘sustainable decadence,’ a civilizational languor that could endure for longer than we think.” Against this backdrop, Peter Robinson and Douthat discuss movies, TV shows, the iPhone, SpaceX, and the 747, with some detours into the COVID-19 crisis and our current political situation.

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