Miners in the Sierras, 1851-1852. Artists: Charles Christian Nahl and August Wenderoth. (Heritage Art via Getty Images)

The New Founders America Needs

What I told the first students at The University of Austin.

There are nearly 4,000 universities in the United States. Many of them have massive endowments and histories that stretch back to well before the country’s founding. So you’d be forgiven for thinking it a bit ridiculous to try to compete with those Goliaths. 

And yet that is exactly what the new University of Austin, or UATX, is doing.

The premise of UATX is simple. It goes like this: While the brand-name schools have the money they no longer have the mission. They have fundamentally abandoned the point of the university: the pursuit of truth. 

Anyone with eyes can see the problem. But most of those people spend their time privately complaining about the status quo—while writing yearly checks to their alma mater so their children have a chance of getting in.

The good people at UATX, where I am on the board, aren’t sitting around criticizing. They are not waiting. They are doing. 

Since the school’s founding president, Pano Kanelos, announced the project this November in these pages UATX has raised more than $100 million—with no alumni. Within the first week, the school received more than 3,500 inquiries from professors at other universities. 

And a few weeks back, it opened its doors to its first students at its inaugural summer school.

I was blown away by the students I met there, and I was honored to lecture alongside teachers like Niall Ferguson, Kathleen Stock, Deirdre McCloskey, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Rob Henderson and Thomas Chatterton-Williams. 

Today I wanted to share with all of you the talk I gave at the Old Parkland in Dallas to the first class of UATX students. 

It’s a little long, so consider printing this one out. Or, if you prefer, listening to it here.

Before I begin, I must recognize that we are currently sitting on the ancestral home of the Apache and that my pronouns are she, her and hers. Also I am a cis–gendered woman, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, generally able-bodied though my eyesight is less than 20/20 and I can’t run more than half a mile. Also, my own family was displaced by Cossacks at some point in the mid-1800s in what is now called Poland and we’re still waiting for an apology.

I’m older than you guys, so I remember a time when the sentences I just uttered would have been incomprehensible outside of a critical theory class with a couple dozen people. That was back when the idea of “staying woke” was a lyric Lead Belly sang. That was before the phrase cancel culture was a thing.

I distinctly remember the first cancellation I heard about, though we didn’t call it that then. It was 2014. The school was Brandeis–a school founded on the notion of religious freedom, a school with the motto “truth, even unto its innermost parts”—and the school had extended an honorary degree to the magnificent Ayaan Hirsi Ali only to withdraw it. It was a scandal. I remember reading dozens of stories about it.

Those were the days. Now that story would last maybe half a day. Because now, the whole country is a campus. 

Now, you can find land acknowledgments at Starbucks (seriously, a reader sent me a photo of a land acknowledgment hung in the coffee shop in Toronto) or pronouns in the email signatures of tech titans, or strange, neo-racist ideas baked into the onboarding programs of our most elite, prestigious companies. 

And nowadays, anyone who is anyone—anyone who is vaguely interesting or has something original to say—has been disinvited from somewhere. Larry Summers from the University of California. Ilya Shapiro at UC Hastings, and then Georgetown. Ben Shapiro and Jane Fonda. Also: James Watson, Michael Moore, George Will, Peter Singer, Bjorn Lomberg, Bruce Gilley, Camile Pagila, Christina Hoff Sommers, Randall Kennedy…I could just list names for the next hour. Many of them you are lucky to have here teaching this week: Dorian Abbott, Peter Boghossian, and, of course, Ayaan.

Disinvitation—now called deplatforming—has become a regular feature of American life as the politics of censoriousness, forced conformity and ideological obedience have taken hold.

Now you can get disinvited from our best newspapers, as Donald McNeil or James Bennet well know. You can get disinvited or frozen out from our fanciest magazines, which is why Andrew Sullivan and Matt Taibbi now have newsletters on Substack and Alexi McCammond, hired to be the editor of Teen Vogue, was pushed out before she started because of tweets she wrote in high school. You can be a president of a storied American company, like Levi’s, and be ushered to the door, as Jennifer Sey was, for criticizing school shutdowns. You can devote yourself to students at progressive prep schools, like Paul Rossi at Grace Church, only to be pushed out for standing up against racial essentialism. You can be canceled in medicine, like Pitt’s Norman Wang. Tech companies (like Antonio Garcia Martinez at Apple). Folk bands (Google Winston Marshall). And even high school fundraisers, as Dave Chappelle recently was. Though as he put it: “They’re canceling stuff I didn’t even want to do.”

These stories now whiz by us on our social media feeds daily—did you see the one about the taco truck canceled for cultural appropriation? Or the painter who made the wrong painting? Or the novelist who wrote the wrong novel? Or the museum curator? The Oberlin baker? Or the dog walker? Or the comedian? Or the Palestinian restaurateur?

For each of these examples, you all can no doubt think of dozens more in your communities and schools that have gone unreported. 

These incidents are not discreet little firestorms. They are deeply interconnected. They are the result of a zealous and profoundly illiberal ideology that has infiltrated our largest companies, our media, our universities, our medical schools, our law schools, our hospitals, our local governments, our elementary schools. Our friendships. Our families. Our language.

If you are sitting in this room you know this better than most Americans because you are living it. 

You have all sat in classrooms, posted on social media, and applied to college and felt the pressure at each stage to promote an ideology you disagree with.

Maybe instead of being taught how to read, write, and think, you’ve been taught to obsess over things like race and gender. Maybe instead of debating ideas openly and honestly, you’ve been told to toe the party line or be quiet. Maybe you’ve been asked to trade inquisitive fact-finding for acceptance of a predetermined narrative.

Maybe you have watched as a classmate was shamed for a mistake. Or a bad joke. And watched as people piled on and worried if you would be next.

Maybe instead of writing a paper with an argument you believe in, you’ve been pressured—at the risk of a low grade—to write the paper repeating the argument you know your teacher or professor wants to hear. Maybe you feel afraid to speak up in class—a privilege for which you or your parents pay many thousands of dollars—for fear of enraging the mob.

What has become obvious to anyone paying attention is that we are living through a kind of revolution. 

It is not a physical one. As my friend Abe Greenwald wrote in Commentary Magazine, it “is not being fought within the physical limits of a battlefield. It is instead happening all around us and directly to us. It is redefining our culture, our media, and giving new shape to our public and private institutions. It is remaking the nation before our eyes.”  

In other words, this is a revolution of culture. A revolution of ideas.

For far too long, it resisted description. The revolution’s proponents went from pretending it didn’t exist and insisting that those who suggested it did were wearing tinfoil hats . . . to declaring it was here, and it was excellent, and that if you didn’t get on board you were a bigot and a bad person. 

Others, meantime, have tried to deny its existence because they are scared of its implications. Or because what’s happening on the right is also scary. They point to the rise of QAnon and the spread of conspiracy theories about stolen elections and members of Congress who talk casually about Jewish space lasers and insist that any one who suggests that the problem is anywhere but the right is basically abetting the rise of fascism. As if there can’t be two bad things happening at once. 

Others pretend away ideological revolution for more craven reasons: Because to see it would be to give up too much status. Too much prestige. To really see it—and to reckon with how completely it has won—might mean giving up on Yale. Or Harvard.

But deny it as they might, it is very much here.

Indeed, this soft, cultural revolution is, I believe, the biggest untold story in America right now. It is one that is happening right under our noses and it promises to reshape the country. It already has.

This is not an abstraction to me.

What I started to witness many years ago as a student at Columbia University . . . has come to impact my friendships . . . my relationships . . . my career . . . It is the reason why I am speaking to you not as an employee of the New York Times, but as a journalist who has had to learn to become an entrepreneur, building new media for our new world. 

I didn’t want to run my own company. I didn’t want to be a founder. I don’t own a fleece vest and I don’t wear AllBirds. And despite what you may read on Twitter, I like being part of an institution. I loved telling people I worked for The Times. Part of me imagined I would work there forever. 

I also imagined I’d live in a world where I could say with confidence and clarity: I know where I want to work. I know where I want to live. I know where I want to raise my kids. Or send them to school. Or where they should apply to college.

But the truth is I don’t know any of those things anymore.

Those of us in this room–and those Americans who are truly alive to the moment we are in—don’t have the luxury of steady ground. It’s simply not the moment we are living in.

The moment we are in requires something different . . . and seemingly paradoxical.

It requires us to both build totally new things . . . and to conserve very old ones.

It requires us to look for new allies . . . and to strengthen old loyalties.

It requires us to listen to new voices . . . and to heed ancient wisdom that is being lost.

In many ways, what is required of us—especially of you here in this room—is what was required of the people whose images hang on these walls. The founding generation, who married the old and the radically new when they came here to found a New Jerusalem. 

So this afternoon, I want to offer you the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the un-American revolution we are currently living through, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon. Then I want to tell you what I think we—liberals, conservatives, independents, trads, whigs, normies, the coalition of the sane—can do to stop it in order to preserve the precious virtues that have made this country the last, best hope on Earth and that have made every single one of our lives possible. 

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A lot of people want to convince you that you need a PhD or a law degree or dozens of hours of free time to read dense texts about critical theory to understand the revolution that’s transforming America. You do not. You simply need to believe your own eyes and ears. 

The ideology that is trying to unseat liberalism in America begins by stipulating that the forces of justice and progress are in a war against backwardness and tyranny. And in a war, the normal rules of the game must be suspended. Indeed, this ideology would argue that those rules are not just obstacles to justice, but tools of oppression. They are the master’s tools. And the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house.

So the tools themselves are not just replaced but repudiated. 

Persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings. The rule of law is replaced with mob rule.

Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with disinvitation and de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion with exclusion. Excellence with equity.

In this ideology, disagreement is recast as trauma. So speech is violence. But violence, when carried out by the right people in pursuit of a just cause, is not violence at all—but in fact justice.

In this ideology, bullying is wrong, unless you are bullying the right people, in which case it’s very, very good. In this ideology, information that does comport with The Narrative is recast as disinformation, its proponents as conspiracy theorists. In this ideology, education is not about teaching people how to think, it’s about re-educating them in what to think. In this ideology the need to feel safe trumps the need to speak truthfully. 

In this ideology, if you do not tweet the right tweet or share the right slogan, your whole life can be ruined. Just ask Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal who was fired—fired—because she said she supports black lives but not the organization Black Lives Matter.

In this ideology, the past cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be judged through the morals and mores of the present. It is why statues of Grant, Lincoln and Washington were torn down. It is why William Peris, a UCLA lecturer and an Air Force veteran, was investigated because he read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” out loud in class. 

In this ideology, intentions don’t matter. That is why Emmanuel Cafferty, a Hispanic utility worker at San Diego Gas and Electric, was fired for making what someone said they thought was a white-supremacist hand gesture. In fact, he was fidgeting with his fingers out of his car window. 

In this ideology, you are guilty for the sins of your fathers. In other words: you are not you. You are only a mere avatar of your race or your religion or your class. That is why third graders in Cupertino, California, were asked to rate themselves in terms of their power and privilege. It is why an elementary school in Washington, D.C. gave kindergarteners a “fistbook” asking them to identify racist family members.

In this system, we are all placed neatly on a spectrum of “privileged” to “oppressed.” We are ranked somewhere on this spectrum in different categories: race, gender, sexual orientation and class. Then we are given an overall score, based on the sum of these rankings. Having privilege means that your character and your ideas are tainted. This is why, one high schooler in New York tells me, students in his school are told “if you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power.

Victimhood, in this ideology, confers morality. “I think therefore I am” is replaced with: “I am therefore I know.” Or: “I know therefore I am right.”

This ideology says there is no such thing as neutrality, not even in the law, which is why the very notion of colorblindness—the Kingian dream of judging people not based on the color of their skin but by the content of their character—must itself be deemed racist. 

In this ideology, the equality of opportunity is replaced with equality of outcome as a measure of fairness. Racism is no longer about individual discrimination. It is about systems that allow for disparate outcomes among racial groups. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled.

Thus the efforts to do away with the SAT, or the admissions test for elite public schools like Stuyvesant and Lowell—for decades, the engines of opportunity that allowed children of poor and working-class families to advance on their merit, regardless of race. Or the argument made by The New York Times’ classical music critic to do away with blind auditions for orchestras.

In fact, any feature of human existence that creates disparity of outcomes must be eradicated: The nuclear family, politeness, even rationality itself can be defined as inherently racist or evidence of white supremacy. The KIPP charter schools recently eliminated the phrase “work hard” from its famous motto “Work Hard. Be Nice.” Why? Because the idea of working hard “supports the illusion of meritocracy.” 

In this revolution, skeptics are recast as heretics. Those who do not abide by every single aspect of its creed are tarnished as bigots, subjected to boycotts and their work to political litmus tests. The enlightenment, as the critic Edward Rothstein has put it, has been replaced by the exorcism. 

What we call “cancel culture” is really the justice system of this revolution. And the goal of the cancellations is not merely to punish the person being canceled. The goal is to send a message to everyone else: Step out of line and you are next. 

It has worked.

A recent CATO study found that 62 percent of Americans are afraid to voice their true views. Nearly a quarter of American academics endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration. And nearly 70 percent of students favor reporting professors if the professor says something that students find offensive, according to a Challey Institute for Global Innovation survey. Think about that. A majority of students in America think it is a virtue to inform on their wrong-thinking professors. 

How did that become normal? And why have so many, especially so many young people, perhaps your best friends, been drawn to this ideology? 

I do not think it is because they are stupid.

All of this has taken place on the backdrop of major changes in American life—the tearing apart of our social fabric; the loss of religion and the decline of civic organizations; the opioid crisis; the collapse of American industries; the rise of big tech; successive financial crises; a toxic public discourse; crushing student debt. An epidemic of loneliness. A crisis of meaning. A pandemic of distrust. It has taken place against the backdrop in which the American dream has felt like a punchline, the inequalities of our supposedly fair, liberal meritocracy clearly rigged in favor of some people and against others. And so on.

“I became converted because I was ripe for it and lived in a disintegrating society thrusting for faith.” That was Arthur Koestler writing in 1949 about his love affair with Communism. But the same might be said of this new revolutionary faith. And like other religions at their inception, this one has lit the souls of true believers on fire, eager to burn down anything that stands in their way.

So what are we to do?

The answer is not liberalism, if liberalism means defending the Ministry of Truth as necessary to fight disinformation or protesting outside the homes of Supreme Court Justices in the name of justice. Nor is it conservatism if conservatism means defending the rights of Big Tech to shut down the public square to conservatives, or fawning over European autocrats and theocracies and calling for a similar model of government to dawn on our shores. That’s why the founders left there for here.

No, we have to get more fundamental, more foundational. We have to get beyond the tired and rotted out ideas about left and right and ask: What are the virtues and values that have made America and the West the best, freest, most enlightened, most tolerant of minorities, most open to new ideas, most innovative places in the history of the world? 

The Founders that granted us independence from an older tyranny bequeathed to us a world-transforming set of ideas that, nearly 250 years later, still feel radical, especially in the last decade. 

I believe that after the un-American revolution we are still living through, a new generation of founders will lead us out by looking to those same bedrock principles.

And I believe that you in this room can and should be among those founders. I believe being here at UATX is a sign that you know something has gone terribly wrong—and you know that only risk-takers are going to right it.

So given that we aren’t literally settling a new frontier or setting up a colony on Mars—at least not yet—what does that look like?

While the original Declaration of Independence had one call to action, I have ten. And none of them requires you to enlist in a local militia.

1. To be a founder in 21st-century America means to reject the politics of resentment and to recognize our privilege. 

My dad lost a younger sister to cancer. My dad also has MS. So why does he constantly say he is the most privileged man in the world? Because he grew up in a stable, loving home with two parents. Because he has meaningful work. Because he has Judaism and the community that comes with it. Because he married the love of his life. 

And, above all else, because he had the great, good fortune to be born in America.

Even with all our flaws and failings, even with inflation and polarization and tribalization, anyone who is honest will admit that there is nowhere better to build a life. 

Saying that right now feels radical, because grievance and resentment define the current cultural moment. It’s a dead end. We must get back to gratitude. 

2. To be a founder means to defend the rule of law. 

It is just and right that those who participated in the orgy of violence on the Capitol on January 6 are being punished. That’s called the rule of law. It was an attempt to physically intimidate our elected officials. It’s wrong when it’s smashing through windows in Congressional offices and it is wrong when it is outside a Supreme Court Justice’s home.

This kind of violence has become normalized. The other day in the city where I live a man attempted to stab Dave Chappelle in front of tens of thousands of people at the Hollywood Bowl. Thankfully, Chappelle was unhurt, but the Los Angeles District Attorney decided not to charge him with a felony. And don’t even get me started on San Francisco. 

Why, in the summer of 2020, could an organized political faction in Seattle take over a police precinct and a whole neighborhood? Or in Portland try to burn down a courthouse? Or in Kenosha burn to the ground the entire business district—shops largely owned by minorities? Why have we come to accept the suddenly rising murder rate as part of anti-racism when most of the people dying are black? 

To be a founder, to be a builder, is to absolutely reject such violence as normal and to defend the rule of law.

3. To be a founder means to defend freedom of speech. 

“Free speech” is not just a slogan. It is a tool that is essential for the free exercise of the mind, for the ability to search for truth. The only way to get to the truth is to have the freedom to think freely and to speak clearly. Without free speech, there is no truth. No innovation. No ability to persuade or take risks or to make new things. Free speech—allowing horrible things or shocking things to be argued—is a radical value and one that has been the foundation for American success.  

Free speech also means refusing compelled speech. It means refusing to speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. 

So do not genially accept the lies told to you. 

For example: that Abraham Lincoln’s name on a public school or his likeness on a statue is white supremacy. (It is not; he is a hero.) Or that looting has no victims (untrue) and that small-business owners can cope anyway because they have insurance (nonsense). Or that America is evil. (No, it is the last hope on Earth.)

If possible, be public and vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. 

Cowardice is contagious—but so is courage. And your singular example may serve as a means of transmission.

4. To be a founder means to break your addiction to prestige. 

In other words: Worship God more than Yale.

Yale right now is a school where law students scrawl things like “the law is violence” and “we are the law.” It’s where, at the School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, someone gave a talk called “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind” and got softballs during the Q and A.

So why, again, do so many venereate it? Why do so many get their sense of status and self-worth through it? Why do we accept that our children will be taught at schools that cost $80,000 to hate themselves and the West, think of themselves as perma-victim or oppressor, and get docile at the idea of pushing back? 

Because we are unable to let go of the status it confers. That is why.

Even if your goal is reform instead of building anew, fighting this ideology means becoming unpopular within the Good Old Places and getting very clear on what is essential right now. Being popular is not essential. Doing the right thing is essential. Telling the truth is essential. 

So worship God more than Yale, and look for Common Sense outside of the Ivy League.

5. To be a founder means to reject moral relativism. 

Some cultures are more just than others and it is right to say so. Ibram Kendi says this: “In order to be an antiracist, we have to stop standardizing our own culture and judging other cultures from our standards because whoever creates the standard becomes the top of the hierarchy.” And: “We need to figure out a way to recognize that when we see cultural difference, all we are seeing is cultural difference.”

I say that’s nonsense. You can absolutely judge other cultures. Cultures that force women into burqas. Or practice female genital mutilation. Or hang gay people from cranes. To be a founder means saying: What we are building is harder to do, but, yes, it is better.

6. To be a founder means to defend witches. 

Good people right now are being scapegoated. They are being burned as witches, judged based on their worst moment and hung out to dry because of a mistake or a bad joke or a bad thought or a lapse in judgment. 

David Sabatani, one of the most important scientists in the country, is now collecting unemployment because of unverified claims of sexual misconduct. Feminist philosophy professor Kathleen Stock was pushed out of the University of Sussex because her research on sex and gender offended some students. Joshua Katz was smeared as a racist by Princeton for speaking out against radical “anti-racist” measures such as institutionalized struggle sessions and race-based compensation for professors—until he was finally fired. I could go on and on and on.

It is appalling, illiberal, and morally wrong. And yet too often too many of us stay silent. 

Including me.

Here’s what I mean: The issue of gender ideology is one I did not want to touch. I was scared, sure. But also I didn’t think it was worth it. I didn’t think it was even my issue. Let other people handle it.  

And so I watched from the sidelines as women like Abigail Shrier and J.K. Rowling said wild things like: Hey, biological men and biological women probably shouldn’t share a prison cell. Or maybe a 15-year-old is too young to decide on her own sterilization. These women weren’t thrown on a pyre but they were humiliated. They were threatened and slandered. It’s easy to see this happen and say: I am not touching that with a ten-foot pole. 

You see, a lot of people are letting other people fight the fight on the logic that it’s not the right hill for them to die on. But at some point one runs out of hills. 

Principles are not like money. You do not need to be judicious and stingy about how you spend the capital of integrity. And who you spend it on. No. The more hills you die on the more valuable you become. So find more hills to die on and more witches to defend. Even, and maybe especially, if those witches are flawed.

7. To be a founder means to use your own eyes and ears. 

To quote John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things.” Use your own sensibilities to decipher fact from fiction. The mainstream narrative can be addictive and easy to digest, but reality is far too stubborn to fit so neatly into boxes.

Do your own research. Be independent-minded. And seek out the truth—don’t just rely on others to tell you how things are..

You don’t have to become an “expert” to form your own opinion from the facts, and, if the pandemic has taught us anything, you should certainly be skeptical of anyone claiming to be one. 

8. Being a founder means refusing to submit your relationships and friendships to political litmus tests. 

The other day my wife got an email from an old friend of hers. The friend’s note was like a missive from the Soviet Union in that it demanded that my wife prove her purity of politics by disavowing . . . me. This is not the first time she or I has been asked to do something of this nature. 

A politics that forces its adherents to put their most intimate relationships to a litmus test is a politics of totalitarianism. 

The beauty of America was that it insisted that there are whole realms of human life located outside the province of politics, like friendships, art, music, family and love. And those are the most important parts of life. And anyone that says otherwise is forgetting what it means to be American and really a human being.

9. Being a founder means resisting nihilism. 

That means both the nihilism of the left that says abolish the police because safety is impossible. And it means resisting the new nihilism of the right that says decline is inevitable, we’re in the last gasps of empire. The nihilism that roots for Putin because “in Russia they don’t ask your pronouns.” The nihilism of saying: The Bronze Age was better because men were really men then. But also the historical revisionism of wishing we were still peasants in the Middle Ages because capitalism is so awful. The nihilism that wants to go back fifty years or five hundred years based on some fetishized vision of a better time. The nihilism of losing perspective. 

To quote the brilliant Grimes, being a founder doesn’t mean killing what you hate, it means saving what you love. 

10. Above all, to be a founder is to build new things. 

I began this list with gratitude. But gratitude does not mean settling for the status quo. It means fighting for a more perfect union. It means fighting to make the kind of country and culture you want to live in. And eventually raise kids in. Gratitude means understanding that the reason we have what we have is because lots of people before us lived hard lives and made tremendous sacrifices. And the least we can do is, I dunno, maybe try to start a new university.

Every day I hear from those with means with children at private schools who are being brainwashed; people who run companies where they are scared of their own employees; people who donate to their alma mater even though it betrays their principles; people who are applying to schools or jobs that they know will compromise their integrity but are doing it anyway.

Enough. You have the ability to change the untenable status quo. You have the ability to build new things. If you don’t have the financial capital, you have the social or political capital. Or the ability to sweat. You have the ability to build.

As my friend Katherine Boyle recently wrote in Common Sense: “Building is a political philosophy. It is neither red nor blue, progressive nor conservative. It is averse to the political short-termism and zero-sum thinking that permeates our aging institutions that won’t protect us in this era. There is no fixed pie when it comes to building. Building is an action, a choice, a decision to create and move. It is shovels in the dirt with a motley crew of doers who get the job done because no one else will. Building is the only certainty. The only thing we can control. When the projects we believed were Teflon strong are fraying like the history they toppled, the only thing to do is to make something new again.”

We all wanted certainty. We all wanted to coast on what we knew: that the world we were born into would remain as it was, that the institutions would remain strong and trustworthy and the political parties would remain consistent and fixed. None of us expected this.

But then again, neither did those who decided to leave the Old World and build the New.

Don’t forget: More than a dozen of the actual founders were 18th century millennials—under the age of 35. So don’t tell me that small groups of young people cannot transform the world when they made ours.

If you are in this room there is a very good chance that you are one of our new founders. I can’t wait to see what you build.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece said that the Los Angeles District Attorney decided not to charge Dave Chappelle’s attacker. In fact, Isaiah Lee was not charged with a felony. He was charged with misdemeanors.