Books from 2021

Three years ago, I set a new year’s resolution to read at least 12 books a year. It is a resolution that I continue to keep. Last year, at the start of 2021, I decided to share a list of books I read and ranked them based on which book I think people should read. For 2021 I didn’t quite reach my goal of 12 — I finished the year with ten books. While not 100%, 83% completion would be a passing grade, so I will take it. So below are the books I read from 2021. I hope you’ll consider one. Here’s to more reading in 2022 — and if you’re curious, I’m currently reading “Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds” by Michael Knowles.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

The Authoritarian Moment — Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro has had a significant role in my political journey to conservatism. In this book, Ben addresses the question — “If there are authoritarians on the Right and on the Left — and if the two feed on one another, driving America ever deeper into a moral morass — where does the true risk lie?” This question is significant as there is the continued belief that those on the Right are the authoritarians and totalitarians (President Donald Trump was relentlessly called his whole term.) I believe this book accurately captures the phenomenon that has swept over our politics and describes how power is being wielded to suppress differing perspectives. This book breaks down how Leftism/Progressivism moves America to authoritarianism and lays out the steps Americans must take to push back against the tide.

White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era — Shelby Steele

Steel wrote this book in 2006. As I read his book, it reminded me Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his 1967 speech — “The Oppression.” In his speech, MLK said, “We must come to see… yes, we do need each other, the black man needs the white man to save him from his fear, and the white man needs the black man to free him from his guilt.” Shelby Steel expands on this divergent and delves into the fallout of “white guilt” for both Whites and Blacks. It was also interesting to read Steel’s own story as he was a radical college activist.

“The great power of white guilt comes from the fact that it functions by stigma, like racism itself. Whites and American institutions are stigmatized as racist until they prove otherwise… But the larger reality is that white guilt leaves no room for moral choice; it does not depend on the goodwill or the genuine decency of people. It depends on their fear of stigmatization, their fear of being called a racist.”

“Freedoms become a great problem for an emerging group because of all the illusions the group falls prey to as it buffers itself from the humiliations and burdens of freedom. Instead of taking full responsibility for our underdevelopment, we convince ourselves that we should pursue social justice, and this will agent us into competitive equality with whites. We avoid the terrifying level of responsibility that freedoms impose by arguing that whites should be responsible for our development.”

Critical Race Theory: An Introduction — Richard Delgado and Jean Stefanic

Unlike my two first books, I recommend this book not because I think the ideas are good. I fundamentally believe Critical Race Theory is a horrible theory with terrible consequences. Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been in the news for several reasons, and the debate of what the theory is or isn’t has been ongoing and a political issue. Like many, I was told that CRT isn’t a political agenda, it isn’t in schools or school curriculums, and doesn’t attribute racism to whites but to systems. With all the noise, I had to find out for myself. After reading the book, I can say with certainty that I am worried so many are willing to adopt CRT without knowing the foundational tenants of the theory. Many of the divisive elements of the broader social justice movement and what I consider racist ideas can be traced back to CRT.

There are other themes of CRT that worry me, chief among them is the premise that racism is ordinary. This fundamentally traps us into an either-or dichotomy (which is also rooted in Marxism), causes us to become tunnel versioned. It divides people into groups instead of seeing individuals as individuals. CRT is also anti-liber — that is, CRT does not believe in individual rights, doesn’t believe in neutral principles, or the classic liberal order. If CRT is anti-liberal, this begs the question, what does CRT want to replace classical liberalism with?

Discrimination and Disparities — Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is on my pantheon of intellectual heroes. This book has so much that can be applied to our political and cultural discourse. My favorite section of his book is called “The World of Words.” I think this section is most applicable to our times as it seems words that used to mean something have taken wider or completely different meanings. Despite the topics in his book being complex and layered issues, Thomas Sowell is able to distill the issues with ease and the facts. It’s hard not to find a kernel of mind-blowing facts on each page.

“Given multiple prerequisites for many human endeavors, we should not be surprised if economic or social advances are not evenly or randomly distributed among individuals, groups, institutions or nations at any given time.”

“Numbers may deceive us because of their apparent objectivity, but words can deceive more comprehensively because of their emotional appeals that numbers seldom have. There may be very legitimate reasons to react adversely to words like “war,” “racism” or “murder,” but it is the illegitimate invoking of emotionally charged words that are especially dangerous- as anything that overrides thought, or substitute for thought, can be dangerous.”

The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass — Fredrick Douglass

Douglass realized knowledge was the key to his freedom. Even though he was a slave, his pursuit of knowledge reminded me of how my parents pushed my siblings and me to learn and go to school. I remember my dad forcing us to read, something I hated at the time. Like Douglass, my parents understood how vital knowledge was and the freedom and power that came with it.

My biggest takeaway from Douglass is that he fought to think, to be free in his mind because that is where actual permanent slavery was. And as it applies to today, the echo chambers that we live in, the tweets that drive our society, the political correctness of our times remind us of what Candace Owens writes in Blackout (see #7).

“Indeed, he (slaveowner) advised me to complete thoughtlessness of the future and taught me to depend solely upon him for happiness. He seemed to see fully the pressing necessity of setting aside my intellectual nature, in order to contentment in slavery. But in spite of him, and even in spite of myself, I continued to think, and to think about the injustice of my enslavement, and the means to escape.”

Man’s Search for Meaning — Viktor E. Frankl

The opening pages of this book is a gut punch. Victor Frankl was a survivor of the Holocaust and survivor of one of the most infamous concentration camps — Auschwitz. His number was 119,104. Read his account was sobering. It put real weight behind the word Nazi, a word too loosely today. His observations from the camp give insight into the importance of hope and the cost of hopelessness.

What Frankl writes in the latter parts of his book can be applied to our society today, especially those searching for meaning and worth. His writing reminded me of my mom’s experience when my parents arrived in America. As new refugees with many challenges and unknowns, my mom found her why in those suffering and challenging times — raising my siblings and me to be the best and succeed in this new land.

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather, we must recognize that is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life, he can only respond by being responsible.”

Blackout — Candace Owens

Let’s be honest; you either love or hate Candace. I first discovered Candace for red pill video on YouTube. This was before she became a stalwart in the conservative movement. And her video, like many other voices I discovered from 2015–2016, spurred me on my journey towards conservatism. I love Candace’s candor, courage, convince, and steadfast defense of America. My favorite part of her book was her use of Plato’s “The Cave” to describe the journey of Black America. It is a fun read and takes on current social issues with hard-hitting facts and candid attitude.

“In my opening my chapter, I asked what it meant to be black American. The answer? Exactly the same as white, Latino, Asian or Jewish American. All groups have their own stories to tell, and ours is one marked with suffering and tragedy, yet triumph through strength. In modern America, we are all afforded the same opportunities, the same chances to make something of ourselves, the same potential to turn our lives, no matter how humble the beginnings, into ones of significance in what form that may be. That is the vision of the Constitution, that was the vision of the Founding Fathers, and that must be the aspirational peak of young Americans, no matter what creed or color.”

The Parasitic Mind — Gad Saad

Dr. Gad Saad is a witty author. His book addresses the root of bad ideas of today. The book explores the patterns, belief systems, attitudes and mindsets — all which “parasitize one’s ability to think properly and accurately.” Dr. Gad Saad goes on to elaborate how to address these ideas and encouraging readers to speak up (and how to do so).

“While each mind virus constitutes a different strain of lunacy, they are all bound by the full rejection of reality and common sense (post modernism rejects the existence of objective truths; radical feminism scoffs at the idea of innate biologically-based sex differences; and social constructivism posits that the human mind starts off as an empty slate largely void of biological blueprints… these mind viruses all reject truth in the defense of the pet ideology.”

“Most people are too afraid to be accused of being racist or misogynist, and so they cower in silence. Keep your mouth shut and nod in agreement or else prepared to be tarred and feathered. Don’t fall prey to this silencing strategy. Be assured in your principles and stand ready to defend them with the ferocity of a honey badger.”

Fortitude — Rep. Dan. Crenshaw

I really enjoyed reading this book by Rep. Dan Crenshaw. Like the books prior, it speaks to what is happening in our culture today — a distortion of perspective. The distortion of perspective has taken form in outrage culture, a culture of “safetyism”, and victimhood. Rep. Crenshaw does a great job of weaving his own trials, experience as a Navy SEAL and some age tested wisdom and perspective. This book also spoke me as a second generation Hmong American in that Hmong American’s seemed to hate America and neglect to realize the fortune they have to live in America.

“This is the simple reality: Others have had it harder than me. Many, many others. From the darkness comes realism. From the realism comes gratitude. From gratitude comes perspective.”

Woke Supremacy — An Anti-Socialist Manifesto — Even Sayet

Socialist and Marxism. The meaning of these words were often elusive and were difficult pin down. They often times were used to describe something that it wasn’t and then used other times used in such a way to camouflage what the words mean (ex. Democratic Socialist). Quickly and concisely, Even Sayet breaks down the history, the ins, and outs, the patterns of Socialism. I found this book informative in looking for red flags in the political discourse and a quick reference book. It’s a packed and quick read.

“One of the great truisms of the past hundred years is that the only people who support Socialism are people who have never lived under it. Those who have endured its torments will risk everything to escape it and swear the oath, “Never Again.”

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Hmong American. Proud American. My thoughts on politics, culture, social issues and the Hmong Community. 🇺🇸

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Kasia Heurh

Kasia Heurh

Hmong American. Proud American. My thoughts on politics, culture, social issues and the Hmong Community. 🇺🇸

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