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20 of the Best Dangerous Game Rifles From the affordable to the insanely expensive, any of these guns will serve you well should you come face to face with one of the world’s aggressive game species BY RICHARD MANN

young hunter kneeling next to giant black ox
No, a dangerous game rifle does not have to cost as much as a used pickup truck. But, it does have to pack a punch and be every time, all the time, reliable. Richard Mann

Regardless of what you’ve read, and what you might hear experts advise, the number one requirement of a dangerous game rifle is reliability. It can be exquisitely beautiful with engravings of naked concubines and vicious creatures, but if it does not work every time and all the time, it is not a dangerous game rifle.

Many believe a rifle of this sort has to be expensive but that’s not the case. It only must work and deliver a hard enough hit to get the job done. Knowing those facts, if you can afford to hunt dangerous game, you can probably afford a reliable and (very) nice hard-hitting rifle. To help find one that’s right for you, here is a list of 20 of the finest dangerous game guns available, working from a beer to a champagne budget.

Mossberg Patriot Laminate Marinecote

Mossberg Patriot Laminate Marinecote • Price: $629

When most folks think of dangerous game rifles, they think of broken wallets and maxed-out credit cards. It doesn’t have to be that way. Mossberg’s Patriot Laminate is a rugged and reliable bolt-action rifle. It comes with open sights, a fantastically functional detachable magazine, and a great trigger. It’s also chambered for the .375 Ruger, which is all the gun you need for dangerous game, whether it be lions, tigers or bears.

Drilled and tapped for scope mounting, but also fitted with adjustable open sights, and chambered for the most classic of all dangerous-game cartridges—the .375 H&H—this rifle is ready for rough country and perilous encounters. The stainless steel action and barrel are fitted to an ergonomic synthetic stock with checkered grip panels. It has a 3-round magazine capacity and weighs only 6 pounds, 13 ounces, so those long treks on the track of buffalo won’t wear you out.

CZ 550 American Safari Magnum

CZ 550 American Safari Magnum • Price: $1,215

Built on CZ-USA’s famous 550 Magnum action, this rifle is intended for use with magnified optics, but back-up iron sights are there if needed. The stock has a high, flat comb to better aid eye alignment with both optics and irons, and the round forend won’t snag on brush while stalking. Many professional hunters prefer the 550’s Mauser-style extractor and fixed ejector, and the rifle is available for most of the hard-hitting big bore cartridges synonymous with dangerous game hunting.

Ruger Hawkeye African

Ruger Hawkeye African • Price: $1,279

Loaded with features like a non-rotating Mauser-style extractor, fixed ejector, three-position safety, hinged floor plate, integral scope mounts, express style open sights, and the Ruger LC6 trigger, this rifle offers a lot for your money. And, to help control the big bang that comes from cartridges like the .375 and .416 Ruger, the muzzle is capped off with the removable Ruger Muzzle Brake System. This rifle looks as attractive as it’s price tag.

Winchester Model 70 Safari Express rifle

Winchester Model 70 Safari Express

Winchester Model 70 Safari Express • Price: $1,350 Winchester


Available in .375 H&H, .416 Remington Magnum, and .458 Winchester Magnum, the Model 70 Safari Express is a fine representation of what many expect in a dangerous game rifle. The satin finished stock has cut checkering, the steel bottom metal is one-piece, and the pre-64 Winchester action is one that is revered by African professional hunters. Modernizations include the M.O.A. Trigger System, with zero take-up, zero creep, and zero over travel for outstanding accuracy.

Ruger No. 1 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger

Ruger No. 1 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger (Lipsey’s) • Price: $1,919

Though this may not be the traditional action and cartridge associated with dangerous game hunting, the Ruger No. 1 offers a level of reliability and strength that is unmatched. And, the .475 Linebaugh cartridge will push a 370-grain bullet to almost 1,600 fps. The combination isn’t great for long range shots, but will knock down anything inside spitting distance.

Marlin Custom Shop 1895 Modern Lever Hunter

Marlin Custom Shop 1895 Modern Lever Hunter • Price: $1,995

With three times the ammo capacity of a double rifle and faster follow-up shots than a bolt action, it could be argued that this fine quality .45-70 from the Marlin Custom Shop is ideal for dangerous game. Custom crafted to your color preferences, the action of this Marlin Model 1895 is smoothed to perfection, and all metal surfaces are coated with Cerakote. The XS Sights Lever Rail lets you choose between an aperture sight, a red dot, or a conventional or scout style scope.

CZ Safari Classics Magnum Express Rifle

CZ Safari Classics Magnum Express Rifle • Price: $2,271

Available in .375 H&H, .404 Jeffery, .416 Remington, .416 Rigby, .450 Rigby, .458 Winchester Magnum, .458 Lott, and a variety of other dinosaur killing cartridges, this rifle is built to your exact specifications. It features a single set trigger, matte or gloss blue finish, and a #1 Fancy American Walnut stock, with dual cross bolts and a straight comb. A muzzle brake, ebony forend, and a weather resistant coating are options, while the Mauser-style extractor and hammer-forged barrel are standard.

Remington Model 700 Custom C Grade

Remington Model 700 Custom C Grade • Price: $2,995

Don’t let anyone tell you the push-feed Model 700 action is not up to the task when it comes to dangerous game hunting. Not only is it reliable, but you can drop a cartridge in the ejection port and close the bolt for a follow-up shot if you run the rifle dry—something most controlled-round-feed actions cannot do. A gloss finished, C-grade walnut stock, with contrasting grip and forend tips makes this a luxurious safari rifle.

Weatherby Mark V Dangerous Game Rifle

Weatherby Mark V Dangerous Game Rifle • Price: $3,600

Weatherby is a brand synonymous with the African continent and high-dollar hunts. Their Dangerous Game Rifle offers a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee, the Weatherby LXX trigger, a short 54-degree bolt lift, and the famous Weatherby Magnum 9-lug action. The action is bedded in a hand-laminated, composite stock, with a raised Monte Carlo comb, and is finished with spider web accents. It’s available in six Weatherby chamberings and .375 H&H.

Dakota Arms Model 76 Safari

Dakota Arms Model 76 Safari • Price: $8,900

Gorgeous and deadly might be the best way to describe this bolt-action rifle built for African safaris and dangerous game hunting. Constructed on the famous Dakota Model 76 action, it’s available for right or left hand shooters, with a XXX walnut stock, hand-cut checkering, ebony forend tip and barrel band in a variety of chamberings up to .458 Lott.

Dakota Arms Professional Hunter

Dakota Arms Professional Hunter • Price: $8,000

The brand new Professional Hunter from Dakota Arms features their respected Model 76 action and a custom fiberglass stock with pillar bedding. Designed for the dangerous game hunter who values ruggedness over beauty, the rifle’s 23-inch Premium Douglas barrel is Cerakoted and a quarter rib fixed sight and hooded fiber optic front sight are standard features. The cartridge options are vast and include the .450 Dakota and .450 Rigby.

Dakota Arms African Big Five

Dakota Arms African Big Five • Price: $9,700

An exquisite firearm by any measure, the Dakota Arms African Rifle is built on a stock made form XXX grade walnut, with a shadow line cheekpiece, and is detailed with hand-cut checkering. It features a straddle floorplate with an inside release and a drop-belly magazine with a four-round capacity. It’s available in a wide assortment of elephant-capable cartridges including the .450 Dakota.

Heym “Express” Magnum Bolt Action Rifle

Heym “Express” Magnum Bolt Action Rifle • Price: $13,000

Elegance abounds with this bolt-action rifle from Heym. It is reminiscent of the best-grade English sporting rifles that were built between the great wars. The actions used are sized perfectly to the cartridge, with cartridge specific magazine boxes. The barrel, along with everything else, is made in house at Heym in Germany. The action features the famous Mauser claw extractor and true controlled feed design. A single stage trigger and 4+1 capacity Oberndorf-style drop-box magazine is standard. Cartridge options include the .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, .404 Jeffery, .458 Lott, and .450 Rigby.

Krieghoff Classic Big Five Double Rifle

Krieghoff Classic Big Five Double Rifle • Price: $13,995

Combining the heritage of traditional side-by-side design and the sophistication of modern manufacturing technology, the beautiful Krieghoff Classic Double rifle is available in the most common chamberings for an African safari or dangerous game hunting. It features a manual cocking device that allows carrying while fully loaded with the hammers uncocked. With options that include additional barrels you can more than double the price, as well as your cool factor, while sitting on the back of the Land Rover.

Merkel 470 NE 140-2.1 SXS

Merkel 470 NE 140-2.1 SXS • Price: $14,275

Nothing parts the waters of a hunter’s heart like a finely crafted double rifle. The Merkel 470 NE 140-2.1 SXS is elegant, reliable, and responsive. It features a steel action, Greener-style cross bolts, double triggers, manual safety with intercepting sears, automatic ejectors, express sights, and a finely figured wood stock that looks as if it has a life of its own.

Heym Model 88B Double Rifle

Heym Model 88B Double Rifle • Price: $22,000

For more than 35 years, the Heym 88B has been the company’s flagship dangerous game rifle, and it’s likely the most common double rifle in Africa. Handcrafted for a perfect fit and with a host of customizing options available, holding this rifle can make your knees feel weak. Built with Krupp steel hammer forged barrels and a triple lockup boxlock action, automatic ejectors and dual triggers are standard. This rifle will even handle the .577 Nitro Express.

Rigby London Best Rifle

Rigby London Best Rifle • Price: $32,000 to $72,000

When you can afford the very best of everything in life, a starting price of more than $32,000 won’t cause you to blink an eye. What might make you order another drink are the options available on the Rigby London Best rifle. Grade 11 wood, H&H quick detach scope mounts, case hardening, engraving, the take-down option, and a custom case later, and you’re on the other side of $72,000. But, you might have the finest bolt-action rifle in the world. If that doesn’t impress the hippo you’re facing, show him the receipt; maybe it will scare him to death.

Rigby Rising Bite Double Rifle

Rigby Rising Bite Double Rifle • Price: $136,000

You simply cannot afford this rifle. With its custom fitted Grade 7 Turkish walnut stock, best sidelock ejector with dipped edge lock plates, Rigby ¼ rib and front slight block, and color case hardened action, before you start customizing, you’re in for more than a hundred grand. A few customizations later you have created what might be the most fabulous rifle ever. With a rifle like this, it won’t matter if you ever hunt dangerous game or not—you can just sit by the fire ring and brag about it.

Holland Royal Double Rifle

Holland & Holland Royal Double Rifle

Holland & Holland’s Royal Double rifle might be the most iconic dangerous game rifle of all time. Built to deal with any four-legged danger while providing the instinctive handling of a finely fitted shotgun, these rifles exude luxury, craftsmanship, and history. Available in flanged, belted or rimless cartridges, from .284 to .700 caliber, this is the rifle professional hunters lust for and filthy rich safari clients dream of. It will cost more than a trophy wife, kill anything that walks, and leave your heirs in a bitter argument over who gets it after you depart this Earth. Built to your every desire, prices are available by request; which means if you have to ask, you don’t have enough money.

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We shall not see their like again, From Audie Murphy to Pajama Boy. From The Blog "Cold Fury"

Growing up with a father, uncles, and cousins who struggled to maintain our California farm during the Depression and then fought in an existential war was a constant immersion in their predominantly tragic view of life.
Most were chain smokers, ate and drank too much, drove too fast, avoided doctors, and were often impulsive—as if in their fifties and sixties, they were still prepping for another amphibious assault or day-time run over the Third Reich.
Though they viewed human nature with suspicion, they were nonetheless upbeat—their Homeric optimism empowered by an acceptance of a man’s limitations during his brief and often tragic life. Time was short; but heroism was eternal. “Of course you can” was their stock reply to any hint of uncertainty about a decision.
The World War II generation had little patience with subtlety, or even the suggestion of indecision—how could it when such things would have gotten them killed at Monte Cassino or stalking a Japanese convoy under the Pacific in a submarine?
One lesson of the war on my father’s generation was that dramatic action was always preferable to incrementalism, even if that meant that the postwar “best and brightest” would sometimes plunge into unwise policies at home or misadventures abroad.
Another lesson the World War II generation learned—a lesson now almost forgotten—was that perseverance and its twin courage were the most important of all collective virtues. What was worse than a bad war was losing it. And given their sometimes tragic view of human nature, the Old Breed believed that winning changed a lot of minds, as if the policy itself was not as important as the appreciation that it was working.
In reaction to the stubborn certainty of our fathers, we of the Baby Boomer generation prided ourselves on introspection, questioning authority, and nuance.
We certainly saw doubt and uncertainty as virtues rather than vices—but not necessarily because we saw these traits as correctives to the excesses of the GIs. Rather, as one follows the trajectory of my generation, whose members are now in their sixties and seventies, it is difficult not to conclude that we were contemplative and critical mostly because we could be—our mindset being the product of a far safer, more prosperous, and leisured society that did not face the existential challenges of those who bequeathed such bounty to us.
Had the veterans of Henry Kaiser’s shipyards been in charge of California’s high-speed rail project, they would have built on time and on budget, rather than endlessly litigating various issues as costs soared in pursuit of a mythical perfection.
The logical conclusion of our cohort’s emphasis on “finding oneself” and discovering an “inner self” is the now iconic ad of a young man in pajamas sipping hot chocolate while contemplating signing up for government health insurance.
Such, it seems, is the arrested millennial mindset. The man-child ad is just 70 years removed from the eighteen-year-olds who fought and died on Guadalcanal and above Schweinfurt, but that disconnect now seems like an abyss over centuries.
One cannot loiter one’s mornings away when there is a plane to fly or a tank to build. I am not sure that presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower were always better men than were presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, but they were certainly bigger in the challenges they faced and the spirit in which they met them.
This New Year’s Eve, let us give a toast to the millions who are no longer with us and the thousands who will soon depart this earth. They gave us a world far better than they inherited.

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Unspeakable Truths about Racial Inequality in America written by Glenn Loury

This is the text of a lecture delivered by the author as part of the Benson Center Lecture Series at the University of Colorado, Boulder, on February 8th, 2021.

I am a black American intellectual living in an age of persistent racial inequality in my country. As a black man I feel compelled to represent the interests of “my people.” (But that reference is not unambiguous!) As an intellectual, I feel that I must seek out the truth and speak such truths as I am given to know. As an American, at this critical moment of “racial reckoning,” I feel that imperative all the more urgently. But, I ask, what are my responsibilities? Do they conflict with one another? I will explore this question tonight.

My conclusion: “My responsibilities as a black man, as an American, and as an intellectual are not in conflict.” I defend this position as best I can in what follows. I also try to illustrate the threat “cancel culture” poses to a rational discourse about racial inequality in America that our country now so desperately requires. Finally, I will try to model how an intellectual who truly loves “his people” should respond. I will do this by enunciating out loud what have increasingly become some unspeakable truths. So, brace yourselves!

I begin with a provocation: Consider this story from my hometown newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, that ran on May 31st, 2016. (Things have only gotten worse since.) I ask you to bear with me here because these details matter. We must look them squarely in the face:

Six people were killed, including a 15-year-old girl, and at least 63 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago over Memorial Day weekend.

The total number of people shot during the weekend this year surpassed the 2015 holiday, when 55 people were shot, 12 fatally, over Memorial Day weekend.

The most recent homicide happened late Monday in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side.

Officers responding to a call of shots fired about 11pm found James Taylor lying on the ground near his vehicle in the 5100 block of South Calumet, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Taylor, who lived in the 6500 block of South Ellis, had been shot in the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Witnesses at the scene were not cooperating with detectives.

About the same time, a man was shot to death in the West Rogers Park neighborhood on the North Side.

Officers responding to a call of shots fired about 11pm found 39-year-old Johan Jean lying in a gangway in the 6400 block of North Rockwell, authorities said.

Jean, who lived in the 100 block of North Ashland in Evanston, was shot in the neck and taken to Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he was later pronounced dead, authorities said. Police said he was 25 years old.

A source said the shooting stemmed from a dispute between two women. One of them has a child with the man and the other was his girlfriend. Both women were armed, and the man was eventually shot during the argument. No weapons were recovered from the scene.

About 5.20pm Saturday, a man was shot to death in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side.

Garvin Whitmore, 27, was sitting in the driver seat of a vehicle with a passenger, 26-year-old Ashley Harrison, in the 200 block of West Root, when someone walked up to the vehicle and shot him in the head, according to police and the medical examiner’s office.

Whitmore, of the 5800 block of West 63rd Place, was pronounced dead at the scene at 5.29pm, authorities said.

All of the victims were black people. Sixty-three shot, six dead, one weekend, one city. Here’s the thing: reports such as this could be multiplied dozens of times, effortlessly. If a black intellectual truly believes that “Black Lives Matter,” then what is he supposed to say in response to such nauseating reports—that “there is nothing to see here?” I think not.

Violence on such a scale involving blacks as both perpetrators and victims poses a dilemma to someone like myself. On the one hand, as the Harvard legal scholar Randall Kennedy has observed, we elites need to represent the decent law-abiding majority of African Americans cowering fearfully inside their homes in the face of such violence. We must do so not just to enhance our group’s reputation as in the “politics of respectability” but mainly as a precondition for our own dignity and self-respect.

On the other hand, we elites must also counter the demonization of young black men which the larger American culture has for some time now been feverishly engaged in. Even as we condemn murderers, we cannot help but view with sympathy the plight of many poor youngsters who, though not incorrigible, have nevertheless committed crimes. We must wrestle with complex historical and contemporary causes internal and external to the black experience that help to account for this pathology. (There’s no way around it. This is pathology. The behavior in question here is not okay. That one can adduce social-psychological explanations does not resolve all moral questions.)

Where is the self-respecting black intellectual to take his stand? Must he simply act as a mouthpiece for movement propaganda aiming to counteract “white supremacy”? Has he anything to say to his own people about how some of us are living? Is there space in American public discourses for nuanced, subtle, sophisticated moral engagement with these questions? Or are they mere fodder for what amount to tendentious, cynical, and overtly politically partisan arguments on behalf of something called “racial equity”? And what about those so-called “white intellectuals”? Do they have to remain mute? Or, must they limit themselves to incanting anti-racist slogans?

I don’t know all of the answers here, but I know that those victims had names. I know they had families. I know they did not deserve their fate. I know that black intellectuals must bear witness to what actually is taking place in our midst; must wrestle with complex historical and contemporary causes both within and outside the black community that bear on these tragedies; must tell truths about what is happening and must not hide from the truth with platitudes, euphemisms and lies.

I know, despite whatever causal factors may be at play, that we black intellectuals must insist each youngster is capable of choosing a moral way of life. I know that, for the sake of the dignity and self-respect of my people as well as for the future of my country, we American intellectuals of all colors must never lose sight of what a moral way of life consists in. And yet, we are in imminent danger of doing precisely that, I fear. Here’s why. 

The first unspeakable truth: Downplaying behavioral disparities by race is actually a “bluff”

Socially mediated behavioral issues lie at the root of today’s racial inequality problem. They are real and must be faced squarely if we are to grasp why racial disparities persist. This is a painful necessity. Activists on the Left of American politics claim that “white supremacy,” “implicit bias,” and old-fashioned “anti-black racism” are sufficient to account for black disadvantage. But this is a bluff that relies on “cancel culture” to be sustained. Those making such arguments are, in effect, daring you to disagree with them. They are threatening to “cancel” you if you do not accept their account: You must be a “racist”; you must believe something is intrinsically wrong with black people if you do not attribute pathological behavior among them to systemic injustice. You must think blacks are inferior, for how else could one explain the disparities? “Blaming the victim” is the offense they will convict you of, if you’re lucky.

I claim this is a dare; a debater’s trick. Because, at the end of the day, what are those folks saying when they declare that “mass incarceration” is “racism”—that the high number of blacks in jails is, self-evidently, a sign of racial antipathy? To respond, “No. It’s mainly a sign of anti-social behavior by criminals who happen to be black,” one risks being dismissed as a moral reprobate. This is so, even if the speaker is black. Just ask Justice Clarence Thomas. Nobody wants to be cancelled.

But we should all want to stay in touch with reality. Common sense and much evidence suggest that, on the whole, people are not being arrested, convicted, and sentenced because of their race. Those in prison are, in the main, those who have broken the law—who have hurt others, or stolen things, or otherwise violated the basic behavioral norms which make civil society possible. Seeing prisons as a racist conspiracy to confine black people is an absurd proposition. No serious person could believe it. Not really. Indeed, it is self-evident that those taking lives on the streets of St. Louis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Chicago are, to a man, behaving despicably. Moreover, those bearing the cost of such pathology, almost exclusively, are other blacks. An ideology that ascribes this violent behavior to racism is laughable. Of course, this is an unspeakable truth—but no writer or social critic, of whatever race, should be cancelled for saying so.

Or, consider the educational achievement gap. Anti-racism advocates, in effect, are daring you to notice that some groups send their children to elite colleges and universities in outsized numbers compared to other groups due to the fact that their academic preparation is magnitudes higher and better and finer. They are daring you to declare such excellence to be an admirable achievement. One isn’t born knowing these things. One acquires such intellectual mastery through effort. Why are some youngsters acquiring these skills and others not? That is a very deep and interesting question, one which I am quite prepared to entertain. But the simple retort, “racism”, is laughable—as if such disparities have nothing to do with behavior, with cultural patterns, with what peer groups value, with how people spend their time, with what they identify as being critical to their own self-respect. Anyone actually believing such nonsense is a fool, I maintain.

Asians are said, sardonically, according to the politically correct script, to be a “model minority.” Well, as a matter of fact, a pretty compelling case can be made that “culture” is critical to their success. Read Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou’s book, The Asian American Achievement Paradox. They have interviewed Asian families in Southern California, trying to learn how these kids get into Dartmouth and Columbia and Cornell with such high rates. They find that these families exhibit cultural patterns, embrace values, adopt practices, engage in behavior, and follow disciplines that orient them in such a way as to facilitate the achievements of their children. It defies common sense, as well as the evidence, to assert that they do not or, conversely, to assert that the paucity of African Americans performing near the top of the intellectual spectrum—I am talking here about academic excellence, and about the low relative numbers of blacks who exhibit it—has nothing to do with the behavior of black people; that this outcome is due to institutional forces alone. That, quite frankly, is an absurdity. No serious person could believe it.

Nor does anybody actually believe that 70 percent of African American babies being born to a woman without a husband is (1) a good thing or (2) due to anti-black racism. People say this, but they don’t believe it. They are bluffing—daring you to observe that the 21st-century failures of African Americans to take full advantage of the opportunities created by the 20th century’s revolution of civil rights are palpable and damning. These failures are being denied at every turn, and these denials are sustained by a threat to “cancel” dissenters for being “racists.” This position is simply not tenable. The end of Jim Crow segregation and the advent of the era of equal rights was transformative for blacks. And now—a half-century down the line—we still have these disparities. This is a shameful blight on our society, I agree. But the plain fact of the matter is that some considerable responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lies with black people ourselves. Dare we Americans acknowledge this?

Leftist critics tout the racial wealth gap. They act as if pointing to the absence of wealth in the African American community is, ipso facto, an indictment of the system—even as black Caribbean and African immigrants are starting businesses, penetrating the professions, presenting themselves at Ivy League institutions in outsize numbers, and so forth. In doing so, they behave like other immigrant groups in our nation’s past. Yes, they are immigrants, not natives. And yes, immigration can be positively selective. I acknowledge that. Still, something is dreadfully wrong when adverse patterns of behavior readily visible in the native-born black American population go without being adequately discussed—to the point that anybody daring to mention them risks being cancelled as a racist. This bluff can’t be sustained indefinitely. Despite the outcome of the recent election, I believe we are already beginning to see the collapse of this house of cards.

A second unspeakable truth: “Structural racism” isn’t an explanation, it’s an empty category

The invocation of “structural racism” in political argument is both a bluff and a bludgeon. It is a bluff in the sense that it offers an “explanation” that is not an explanation at all and, in effect, dares the listener to come back. So, for example, if someone says, “There are too many blacks in prison in the US and that’s due to structural racism,” what you’re being dared to say is, “No. Blacks are so many among criminals, and that’s why there are so many in prison. It’s their fault, not the system’s fault.” And it is a bludgeon in the sense that use of the phrase is mainly a rhetorical move. Users don’t even pretend to offer evidence-based arguments beyond citing the fact of the racial disparity itself. The “structural racism” argument seldom goes into cause and effect. Rather, it asserts shadowy causes that are never fully specified, let alone demonstrated. We are all just supposed to know that it’s the fault of something called “structural racism,” abetted by an environment of “white privilege,” furthered by an ideology of “white supremacy” that purportedly characterizes our society. It explains everything. Confronted with any racial disparity, the cause is, “structural racism.”

History, I would argue, is rather more complicated than such “just so” stories would suggest. These racial disparities have multiple interwoven and interacting causes, from culture to politics to economics, to historical accident to environmental influence and, yes, also to the nefarious doings of particular actors who may or may not be “racists,” as well as systems of law and policy that disadvantage some groups without having been so intended. I want to know what they are talking about when they say “structural racism.” In effect, use of the term expresses a disposition. It calls me to solidarity. It asks for my fealty, for my affirmation of a system of belief. It’s a very mischievous way of talking, especially in a university, although I can certainly understand why it might work well on Twitter.

Another unspeakable truth: We must put the police killings of black Americans into perspective

There are about 1,200 fatal shootings of people by the police in the US each year, according to the carefully documented database kept by the Washington Post which enumerates, as best it can determine, every single instance of a fatal police shooting. Roughly 300 of those killed are African Americans, about one-fourth, while blacks are about 13 percent of the population. So that’s an over-representation, though still far less than a majority of the people who are killed. More whites than blacks are killed by police in the country every year. You wouldn’t know that from the activists’ rhetoric.

Now, 1,200 may be too many. I am prepared to entertain that idea. I’d be happy to discuss the training of police, the recruitment of them, the rules of engagement that they have with citizens, the accountability that they should face in the event they overstep their authority. These are all legitimate questions. And there is a racial disparity although, as I have noted, there is also a disparity in blacks’ rate of participation in criminal activity that must be reckoned with as well. I am making no claims here, one way or the other, about the existence of discrimination against blacks in the police use of force. This is a debate about which evidence could be brought to bear. There may well be some racial discrimination in police use of force, especially non-lethal force.

But, in terms of police killings, we are talking about 300 victims per year who are black. Not all of them are unarmed innocents. Some are engaged in violent conflict with police officers that leads to them being killed. Some are instances like George Floyd—problematic in the extreme, without question—that deserve the scrutiny of concerned persons. Still, we need to bear in mind that this is a country of more than 300 million people with scores of concentrated urban areas where police interact with citizens. Tens of thousands of arrests occur daily in the United States. So, these events—which are extremely regrettable and often do not reflect well on the police—are, nevertheless, quite rare.

To put it in perspective, there are about 17,000 homicides in the United States every year, nearly half of which involve black perpetrators. The vast majority of those have other blacks as victims. For every black killed by the police, more than 25 other black people meet their end because of homicides committed by other blacks. This is not to ignore the significance of holding police accountable for how they exercise their power vis-à-vis citizens. It is merely to notice how very easy it is to overstate the significance and the extent of this phenomenon, precisely as the Black Lives Matter activists have done.

Thus, the narrative that something called “white supremacy” and “systemic racism” have put a metaphorical “knee on the neck” of black America is simply false. The idea that as a black person I dare not step from my door for fear that the police would round me up or gun me down or bludgeon me to death because of my race is simply ridiculous. That is like not going outdoors for fear of being struck by lightning. The tendentious interpretation of every one of these incidents where violent conflict emerges between police and an African American, such that the incident is read as if it were the latter-day instantiation of the lynching of Emmett Till—that posture, I am obliged to report, is simply preposterous. Fear of being “cancelled” is the only thing that keeps many white people outside of the alt-Right from saying so out loud. “White silence” about anti-racism is not “violence.” Nor is it tacit agreement. But it should worry us.

I also want to stress the dangers of seeing police killings primarily through a racial lens. These events are regrettable regardless of the race of the people involved. Invoking race—emphasizing that the officer is white, and the victim is black—tacitly presumes that the reason the officer acted as he did was because the dead young man was black, and we do not necessarily know that. Moreover, once we get into the habit of racializing these events, we may not be able to contain that racialization merely to instances of white police officers killing black citizens. We may find ourselves soon enough in a world where we talk about black criminals who kill unarmed white victims—a world no thoughtful person should welcome, since there are a great many such instances of black criminals harming white people. Framing them in racial terms is obviously counter-productive.

These are criminals harming people, who should be dealt with accordingly. They do not stand in for their race when they act badly. White victims of crimes committed by blacks oughtn’t to see themselves mainly in racial terms if their automobile is stolen, or if someone beats them up and takes their wallet or breaks into their home and abuses them. Such things are happening on a daily basis in this country. We shouldn’t want to live in a world where such events are interpreted primarily through a racial lens. People are playing with fire, I think, when they gratuitously bring that sensibility to police-citizen interaction. That will not be the end of the story.

Yet another unspeakable truth: There is a dark side to the “white fragility” blame game

Likewise, I suspect that what we are hearing from the progressives in the academy and the media is but one side of the “whiteness” card. That is, I wonder if the “white-guilt” and “white-apologia” and “white-privilege” view of the world cannot exist except also to give birth to a “white-pride” backlash, even if the latter is seldom expressed overtly—it being politically incorrect to do so.

Confronted by someone who is constantly bludgeoning me about the evils of colonialism, urging me to tear down the statues of “dead white men,” insisting that I apologize for what my white forebears did to the “peoples of color” in years past, demanding that I settle my historical indebtedness via reparations, and so forth—I well might begin to ask myself, were I one of these “white oppressors,” on exactly what foundations does human civilization in the 21st century stand? I might begin to enumerate the great works of philosophy, mathematics, and science that ushered in the “Age of Enlightenment,” that allowed modern medicine to exist, that gave rise to the core of human knowledge about the origins of the species or of the universe. I might begin to tick-off the great artistic achievements of European culture, the architectural innovations, the paintings, the symphonies, etc. And then, were I in a particularly agitated mood, I might even ask these “people of color,” who think that they can simply bully me into a state of guilt-ridden self-loathing, where is “their” civilization?

Now, everything I just said exemplifies “racist” and “white supremacist” rhetoric. I wish to stipulate that I would never actually say something like that myself. I am not here attempting to justify that position. I am simply noticing that, if I were a white person, it might tempt me, and I cannot help but think that it is tempting a great many white people. We can wag our fingers at them all we want but they are a part of the racism-monger’s package. If one is going to go down this route, one has got to expect this. How can we make “whiteness” into a site of unrelenting moral indictment without also occasioning it to become the basis of pride, of identity and, ultimately, of self-affirmation?

One risks cancellation for saying this, but the right idea is the idea of Gandhi and Martin Luther King: to transcend our racial particularism while stressing the universality of our humanity. That is, the right idea—if only fitfully and by degrees—is to carry on with our march toward the goal of “race-blindness,” to move toward a world where no person’s worth is seen to be contingent upon racial inheritance. This is the only way to address a legacy of historical racism effectively without running into a reactionary chauvinism. Promoting anti-whiteness (and Black Lives Matter often seems to flirt with this) may cause one to reap what one sows in a backlash of pro-whiteness. Here we have yet another unspeakable truth which, as a responsible black intellectual, it is my duty to apprise you of.

On the unspeakable infantilization of “black fragility”

I would add that there is an assumption of “black fragility,” or at least of black lack of resilience lurking behind these anti-racism arguments. Blacks are being treated like infants whom one dares not to touch. One dares not say the wrong word in front of us; to ask any question that might offend us; to demand anything from us, for fear that we will be so adversely impacted by that. The presumption is that black people cannot be disagreed with, criticized, called to account, or asked for anything. No one asks black people, “What do you owe America?” How about not just what does America owe us—reparations for slavery, for example? What do we owe America? How about duty? How about honor?

When you take agency away from people, you remove the possibility of holding them to account and the capacity to maintain judgment and standards so that you can evaluate what they do. If a youngster who happens to be black has no choice about whether or not to join a gang, pick up a gun, and become a criminal, since society has failed him by not providing adequate housing, healthcare, income support, job opportunities, etc., then it becomes impossible to effectively discriminate between the black youngsters who do and do not pick up guns and become members of a gang in those conditions, and to maintain within African American society a judgment of our fellows’ behavior, and to affirm expectations of right-living. Since, don’t you know, we are all the victims of anti-black racism. The end result of all of this is that we are leveled down morally by a presumed lack of control over our lives and lack of accountability for what we do.

What is more, there is a deep irony in first declaring white America to be systemically racist, but then mounting a campaign to demand that whites recognize their own racism and deliver blacks from its consequences. I want to say to such advocates: “If, indeed, you are right that your oppressors are racists, why would you expect them to respond to your moral appeal? You are, in effect, putting yourself on the mercy of the court, while simultaneously decrying that the court is unrelentingly biased.” The logic of such advocacy escapes me.

On achieving “true equality” for black Americans

I am reminded, amidst the contemporary turmoil, of the period after the Emancipation, more than 150 years ago. There was a brief moment of pro-freedmen sentiment during Reconstruction, in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, but it was washed away and the long, dark night of Jim Crow emerged. Blacks were set back. But, in the wake of this setback emerged some of the greatest achievements of African American history. The freedmen who had been liberated from slavery in 1863 were almost universally illiterate. Within a half-century, their increased literacy rate rivals anything that has been seen, in terms of a mass population acquiring the capacity to read. Now, that was really very significant, for it helped bring them into the modern world.

We now look at the black family lamenting, perhaps, the high rate of births to mothers who are not married and so forth—but that is a modern, post-1960 phenomenon. In fact, the health of the African American social fiber coming out of slavery was remarkable. Books have been written about this. Businesses were built. People acquired land. People educated their children. People acquired skills. They constantly faced opposition at every step along the way, “no blacks need apply,” “white only,” this and that and the other, and nevertheless they built a foundation from which could be launched a Civil Rights Movement in the mid-20th century, that would change the politics of the country. As my friend Robert Woodson is fond of saying, “When whites were at their worst, we blacks were at our best.” Such potentiality seems now to have been, in a way, forgotten as we throw ourselves, as I say, on the mercy of the court. “There’s nothing we can do.” “We’re prostrate here.” “Our kids are not doing as well, our communities are troubled, but here we are, and we demand that you save us.”

This is the very same population about which such a noble history of extraordinary accomplishment under unimaginably adverse conditions can be told. So, pull yourself up by the bootstraps is a kind of cliché, and people will laugh when you say it, and they’ll roll their eyes and whatnot. Take responsibility for your life. No one’s coming to save you. It’s not anybody else’s job to raise your children. It’s not anybody else’s job to pick the trash up from in front of your home, etc. Take responsibility for your life. It’s not fair, and this is another, I think, delusion. People think there is some benevolent being up in the sky who will make sure everything works out fairly, but it is not so. Life is full of tragedy and atrocity and barbarity and so on. This is not fair. It is not right. But such is the way of the world.

Here, then, is my final unspeakable truth, which I utter now in defiance of “cancel culture”: If we blacks want to walk with dignity—if we want to be truly equal—then we must realize that white people cannot give us equality. We actually have to actually earn equal status. Please don’t cancel me just yet, because I am on the side of black people here. But I feel obliged to report that equality of dignity, equality of standing, equality of honor, of security in one’s position in society, equality of being able to command the respect of others—this is not something that can be simply handed over. Rather, it is something that one has to wrest from a cruel and indifferent world with hard work, with our bare hands, inspired by the example of our enslaved and newly freed ancestors. We have to make ourselves equal. No one can do it for us.


Glenn Loury is a professor of economics and faculty fellow at the Watson Institute at Brown University and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @GlennLoury.

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Fort de la Cité d’Alet, St Malo – Roman to WW2 German fortifications

A really interesting historical site in Saint Malo (Saint Servan), France dating from the Roman period, although the most obvious relics of its past are the extensive WW2 German fortifications making it one of the most significant elements in Festung St Malo.

Having a couple of hours to spare in St Malo before catching the ferry or the train, the Fort de la Cité d’Alet, St Malo is well worth a visit. For those who have an interest in the international boundary and front line which existed in the area around the Channel Islands between warring England / Britain and France over the seven and a half centuries, it’s a reminder of the defences the French put up to repel frequent English raids.
For those with an interest in twentieth century history, it’s a massive German fortified position to defend St Malo, the Germans’ main gateway from occupied France to the occupied Channel Islands, from Allied attack.
The area of la Cité d’Alet dates back to the Roman period when the promontory was topped by a fortified town, of which little remains except a few small sections of “Roman” walls. By the end of the seventeenth century, it was known as “la Cité d’Alet” and was fortified by a gun battery to protect the entrance to the Rance river.

Cité d’Alet, Roman walls

Vaubin, the well-known French Inspecteur Général of Fortifications from 1678, was, however, not satisfied by the defences of la Cité d’Alet, and he advised that additional mortars to be mounted. Apparently, this advice was not followed.
It was not until the next century when in 1759, during the Seven Years War, after numerous English incursions into the bay of St Malo, the decision was taken to build a very large artillery fort at the Cité d’Alet, capable of defending not only the bay, but also the town, the port, the Rance estuary as well as the area to the rear. That fort built by Mazin, the Chief Engineer of St Malo is still very much in evidence today, albeit that it now has some significant twentieth century additions.

Cité d’Alet, 18th century fort

Those additions, built by the Germans after June 1940 and the fall of France, dwarf the original fort in scale. St Malo, quickly appropriated by the Kriegsmarine as the primary port for the supply of the occupied British Channel Islands, saw extensive fortification from 1941 onwards as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall to become “Forteresse St Malo” or “Festung St Malo”.

Cite D'Alet with WW2 German additions

Cité d’Alet with WW2 German additions

By that time, the German occupied Channel Islands had become an obsession of Hitler, with him vowing that they were never to be returned to Britain when final German victory came, and destined to become part of the German Thousand Year Reich forever.  As a result of that obsession, a staggering one twelfth of all the cost and materials expended in building the whole of the Atlantic Wall (i.e. from the Artic in Norway all the way down to the French/Spanish border) was ploughed in the Islands! It is therefore hardly surprising that the French port which served those islands was also destined to have more than its fair share of fortifications.
Around St Malo, La Varde, Saint-Ideuc, la Montagne Saint-Joseph, la Garde Guérin were all fortified, as were the islands of Grand-Bé and Cézembre (more of the latter later). But probably the most important element of the fortress was the Cité d’Alet.
From 1942 to 1944, the promontory became a huge building site into which tonnes of reinforced concrete were poured. Incorporated into la Cité was an artillery battery with a range-finding position, a fortress PC, extensive defensive positions, 1350 metres of underground tunnels and shelters for about 200 men.
All in all, there were a total of 32 bunkers built and 8 heavy machine gun turrets (Sechsschartentürms) installed. The latter 50-ton 6 port armoured steel cupolas, mounted with MG 34s, were reserved for those places deemed by the Germans to be at most risk from Allied group attack.
The Cité d’Alet saw severe bombardment in August 1944 at the hands of the American forces who had entered Brittany from Normandy on 31 July. By the 4th August, the Americans headed by the 83rd Infantry Division had reached St Malo and by the 9th August, the city and the Germans in it, were encircled. It took two murderous infantry assaults by the Americans, as well as blanket bombing which left the fabulous old walled city of St Malo in ruins, before the German defenders surrendered on 17th August. The last remaining Germans of the Fortresse St Malo, held out on the island of Cézembre until early September, partially supplied from Jersey, until ground and aerial bombardment, including the first use of Napalm, forced their surrender.

Cité d’Alet, St Malo. The heavy machine gun turrets are peppered with shell hits.

The most striking things that you will see at the Cité d’Alet are the armoured steel turrets along what is a very picturesque walk around the promontory. They are literally peppered by shell fire. But the vast majority of the shell fire is not as a result of the battle which raged around St Malo for nearly two weeks.

Cité d’Alet- German heavy machine gun turret after US attempt (post battle) to destroy them

No it’s a demonstration of the strength of these turrets, as after the battle, the Americans brought up various tanks and other anti-tank weapons into range and fired at them to see how much punishment they would take. It is incredible to see that virtually all the hits show shells bouncing off or merely embedding themselves into the armoured steel without penetrating it. I found only one shell hole which had penetrated the cupola straight through, whilst one other shell appears to have found a way in at the point where the moveable gun port shield slots into the turret.
An interesting thing also seems apparent when you compare the direction from which the US shots have been fired at the first two turrets as you come to along the path at la Cité d’Alet . Whoever was firing at each of these two turrets was doing so from different positions – my guess is one was below the old city walls and the other, several hundred metres away, was on the beach at St Servan, the adjacent area next to St Malo. Were the two different sets of gunners having a competition perhaps? I don’t know but perhaps somebody else does know?

One of the likely firing positions of US forces below old city walls of St Malo


Second of the likely firing positions of US forces on the beach at St Servan


Memorial 39-45 Museum, la Cité d’Alet, St Malo

Finally, in the interior of the old fort of la Cité d’Alet, you can clamber around different battle-scarred bunkers and gun positions, as well as visiting the “Memorial 39-45” housed in the bunkers which have been built into the ancient walls. Unfortunately, on the day of my “spare time” visit, the museum was only open in the afternoon. Open regularly everyday only in July and August, it’s generally afternoons only in the shoulder months of April, May and October (closed Mondays) and the same afternoons and Sunday mornings in June and September. November to March, it is closed.
For further information, contact Jersey Military Tours

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