Attention readers: Neil Patel is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by David Harsanyi.

This week, the Supreme Court struck down a Montana constitutional provision barring religious schools from benefiting from the state's tax dollars. There are similar now-unconstitutional laws on the books across the nation -- many of them borne of anti-Catholic bigotry -- that subvert religious liberty and further empower government, rather than parents, to make educational choices for their kids. In most cases, those laws are now dead.

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There is a fanatical and increasingly violent form of fascism growing on the streets of our country. Civil debate and free speech are out. Power on the streets is in. If that scares you, the fact that our country's political, corporate and media leaders seem to be OK with this mob violence should scare you even more.

The spark that ignited our current unrest was the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, all caught on video. President Donald Trump, for all his skills, is unable to effectively lead at a time like this, especially on a sensitive issue like race. His talks have veered from awkward to unhelpful.

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s2smodern

Attention readers: Neil Patel is off this week. Please enjoy the following column by David Harsanyi.

We're in the dawn of a high-tech, bloodless Cultural Revolution, one that relies on intimidation, public shaming and economic ruin to dictate what words and ideas are permissible in the public square.

"Words are violence" has always been an illiberal notion meant to stifle speech and open discourse. Popularized by a generation of coddled and brittle college students, it now guides policy on editorial pages at newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times and most major news outlets.

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s2smodern

We just had riots from coast to coast. Downtown Seattle is currently a lawless zone under the control of anarchists. It may be time to start asking what's going on in our country. People are not happy. The national unrest started with the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, but it is not solely about police brutality or race. People on the left and on the right are unhappy about a host of issues. Maybe now that it has become this bad, we can stop pretending otherwise.

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Our country is hurting. Culturally, as a society and how we relate to each other, we are in the midst of a steep drop, almost a free fall. Race is just one aspect; we are talking past one another, and we are less of a community than I ever recall. If you love this country, the question is how did this happen, and how can we turn it around.

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We have now had time to digest the news of senior Obama political appointees -- including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden -- spying on President Donald Trump's 2017 incoming national security advisor, Michael Flynn. It has been weeks since the news broke, but we have few answers as to what actually happened -- and very few questions have even been asked.

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s2smodern

The big coronavirus debate is between blaming President Donald Trump and blaming China for the pandemic. The usual suspects are lined up on each side. To anybody who pauses to think for a second, it's clear the two options are not mutually exclusive. But that's still how the debate is playing out in the press.

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Michael Flynn did not seem to be the best choice President-elect Donald Trump could have made for his first national security advisor. My own publication, The Daily Caller, broke the story of Flynn writing an op-ed praising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just before Trump's election. The op-ed was a clear break from Flynn's past comments criticizing Turkey for their policies toward the ISIS terrorist group. The most troubling part was Flynn's failure to disclose the fact that his private-sector intelligence consulting firm had just signed a lucrative contract with a company closely aligned with Erdogan before the op-ed was published. The whole thing looked a lot like a paid foreign influence campaign.

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s2smodern

As our fellow Americans lose jobs and lives due to this pandemic, it's helpful to pause and think about whether any positives can come out of this tragedy. With challenges this big, there are always important lessons.

First, we are learning a lot about our top leaders. We live in a politically fractured time. By the time we have a vaccine or herd immunity and can put this pandemic fully in our rearview mirror -- which may be quite a while away, unfortunately -- we will be better able to assess how each national, state and local leader steps up -- or shrinks -- when it counts.

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We live in a time when many people are so partisan that their views are easy to predict based solely on their political persuasion. If you're a hardcore Republican, you're pretty sure hydroxychloroquine is a solid treatment for COVID-19, and if you're a big-time Democrat, you know hydroxychloroquine is ineffective and even dangerous. Our system is so partisan that nothing is beyond politics -- even our choice of medicines.

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s2smodern

John Jacob Astor, the richest man on board the Titanic, famously gave up a seat in the final lifeboat when he saw two young children still on the ship's deck. "Women and children first" was the order from the ship's captain, and the final numbers show just how much the men on board -- even the rich and powerful -- adhered to that call. Women on the Titanic had a 75% survival rate, compared with just 17% for men. Besides some crazed radical feminists, most of us view the chivalry displayed on that sinking ship with a sense of awe and admiration. Hard to imagine many California tech billionaires behaving today the way Astor did the night he died.

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For the business community and those at the very top of America's economic ladder, China has been a godsend. They've made and saved billions and billions of dollars by outsourcing American manufacturing to China and offering goods and services to China's booming consumer market. For many top American companies, growth in China has been seen as essential for success. This is why so many American companies and upper-income American citizens are so thoroughly uninterested in hearing about Chinese atrocities. Remember last year when an NBA general manager made the mistake of tweeting something sympathetic to the freedom (and pro-American) protestors in Hong Kong? He was absolutely crushed by his league and the players, who all knew that China was where their future riches were to be made.

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s2smodern

The amazing thing about COVID-19 is how much we still don't know. Even the experts don't quite understand the nature of the virus or how we should respond. Due to their evolving understanding, we have seen quite a bit of change in the guidance they give to the public -- which is fine, as long as they remain transparent. More than anything else, we need more explanation and more honesty from our authorities.

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s2smodern

Things are getting real. We are at over 47,000 deaths worldwide and over 5,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Our top experts are modeling between 100,000 and 240,000 American deaths by the end of this crisis. Those are massive numbers. We lost nearly 3,000 on 9/11; we suffered 7,000 (so far) U.S. military deaths in the "war on terror" and 58,000 after 20 years in Vietnam. Early hopes that COVID-19 could be overblown have more than dwindled. If anything, we are learning more every day about how China has understated the deaths they have seen -- drastically understated, according to some reports.

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s2smodern

This week's dumb national debate has been about when to reopen our economy. To date, our strategy on the coronavirus has been to shut down pretty much everything and stay home. President Donald Trump said he hopes to reopen our economy by Easter. Those who oppose anything the president says are therefore adamantly opposed to reopening our economy. What about the 80% of Americans who are tired of the battles dominating our politics between those who defend Trump at all costs and those who attack Trump at all costs?

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s2smodern

As members of Congress debate the terms of the trillion-dollar-plus coronavirus relief package for businesses and individuals, they would do well to remember our recent history.

Most people in professional Washington hate the populist era we are going through. The populist period exists because Americans already feel like their elected officials are more responsive to large corporate interests than to the individuals who elected them. This played out big-time after the Wall Street bailouts fueled the tea party on the right and Occupy Wall Street on the left.

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