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Klavan On The Culture

Leftism’s Wonderful Absurdity

July 13th, 2014 - 10:04 am
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With all the actual human suffering this leftist administration has caused on our borders, with all the left’s attacks on our constitutional rights and the oppressive corruption of our leftist bureaucracy from the IRS on down, it’s sometimes difficult to remember just how wonderfully funny leftists actually are. When harmlessly confined to a secluded space where only a select few will hear them — like a show on CNN — their ideas really are a delightfully absurd parody of a delightfully absurd leftist being delightfully absurd. It’s like an infinite regress of comedy.

To wit:  here’s CNN’s Don Lemon — who once wondered aloud whether a black hole might have swallowed that missing Malaysian jetliner — moderating a debate between University of Mississippi senior Sierra Mannie and writer and comedian H. Alan Scott. Miss Mannie wrote an article for Time demanding that white gay people “stop stealing black female culture.”

I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you…

The difference is that the black women with whom you think you align so well, whose language you use and stereotypical mannerisms you adopt, cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them.

Mr. Scott responded on his Thought Catalog blog with a post called “Don’t Listen to Time Magazine”:

Recognizing the things that she thinks belongs only to black women is the very thing that causes the separation and hate in our society. There’s a reason why this country is called a “melting pot,” because eventually, once you lose the bxxxsxxx separation and start appreciating what makes us all amazing, you start realizing that, “Wow, we’re not all that different after all.”

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Don’t Miss FX’s TV-Version of Fargo

July 11th, 2014 - 12:31 pm


I’ve had so much to say about so many things that I haven’t had a chance to put up a quick review of the TV version of Fargo recently on FX.  I’m afraid a lot of people who would have loved this show might have missed it on the first go-round. The problem was, the first episode was delightfully complex and murderous, a really good imitation of the tone and content of the original (great) Coen Brothers movie of the same name. But there was so much in the pilot that, almost by necessity, the second and third episodes felt as if they fell off a little. I know a few people who stopped watching at this point. A mistake, it turns out. The show climbed right back to the level of the first episode and then continued to get better and better until it was absolutely spectacular.

The show really managed to capture the Fargo tone of foul crime in the good-natured heartland. Great plotting, great dialogue, great characters played by great actors. Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton were absolutely wonderful — their characters both so villainous in such different ways that their interaction became kind of a running meditation on the nature of evil. Not as much flash and dazzle as True Detective but far, far better on the crime story fundamentals. A really gripping ride. 

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Is Obama Just a Hapless Putz?

July 9th, 2014 - 1:24 pm

In an interview the other day, I was asked what the president might’ve been thinking when he instigated the chaos on our borders with his talk of pen-and-phone amnesty. Half a dozen things went through my mind. Maybe he’s trying some sort of Cloward-Piven maneuver: an attempt to overwhelm our welfare state to the point where we replace it with “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.” Or maybe he’s just trying to flood the population with Democrat voters. Or maybe he feels America stole its southland from Hispanic people anyway and it’s up to him to give it back.

The president’s not an idiot so obviously he intended to accomplish something by bringing this humanitarian disaster down upon the heads of ourselves and the children of Central America. What exactly was it?

Then, after the interview, it suddenly occurred to me:  What difference, at this point, does it make what the president is thinking? What difference does it make what he intends? Intentions, as every conservative knows, don’t dictate results. While, in the moment, he has put the lives of thousands of children, the health of Americans and the nation’s security at risk, the end game is out of his control and may — almost assuredly will — be entirely different from what he expects.

Cloward-Piven, for instance, has always struck me as an idiot strategy. The idea that you can cause chaos and then predict what will come out of that chaos makes absolutely no sense. If our welfare state were overwhelmed, who knows what would come out of it? Hell, maybe it would be the end of the welfare state. I can dream, can’t I?

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Progressing Back to Hatred

July 7th, 2014 - 2:45 pm
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The thing you have to love about progressives is that they’re ceaselessly progressing into the past. Bigotries and hatreds that should have been left behind long ago continually resurface among them.

Jew hatred went out of fashion for a while after the Holocaust, but leftists are struggling hard to bring it back again.  Note the leftist use of terms like apartheid and genocide in describing Israel – a nation that never commits anything even remotely resembling apartheid or genocide even while it is surrounded by nations that routinely practice religious and sexual apartheid and openly long for the chance to commit genocide. When left-leaning organizations like the Presbyterian Church USA divest in Israel — Israel alone — they are resurrecting an age-old foulness under the cloak of piety, its age-old disguise.

And take a look at this, via our Breitbart friends. The New York Times allowed the Freedom From Religion organization to run a full page anti-Catholic hate ad essentially demanding fewer Catholics be allowed on the Supreme Court. A religious test for government service! One would have thought we’d seen the last of such stuff a century ago. But thanks to the progressive Times, a century ago is right where we’re headed.

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What I Learned on the Trail

July 4th, 2014 - 6:02 am


I am a skilled hiker, but a week or so ago, I made a perilous error. Carelessly neglecting my clear and accurate guide, I mistook a side path for the main trail down the mountain. As I descended along the narrow track, the way became steeper and steeper until, abruptly, it ended at a sheer cliff above a long fall. Short on water, out of breath, weakened by the blistering heat, I looked up and saw my only other option was a dauntingly vertical climb back to the main trail above. My heart misgave me.

Then three words came into my mind unbidden:  Don’t be afraid.

I know who speaks those words to me. I said a quick prayer to him for courage and felt myself promptly flooded with the stuff. I began the climb, and though the way was very difficult, and even dangerous once or twice, I was surprised how quickly I found myself back on the main trail, the way home.

Our country has made a similar error, and equally perilous. We have carelessly neglected our clear and accurate guide to the governance of a free people. We have gone by another way into a steeper and steeper decline. Soon, we will reach a point where the only choice is between a catastrophic fall and a long, hard, upward journey. Our hearts may tell us the climb is impossible.

Don’t be afraid.

Klavan on the Culture wishes all PJ Media readers a wonderful Fourth of July.

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Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama 2012 documentary 2016: Obama’s America was a surprise smash hit, earning 33 million dollars to make it one of the most successful American documentaries ever. The film put forward D’Souza’s thesis that Obama’s need to feel himself worthy of an absent radical father caused him to view America as a guilty colonialist power that had to be taken down a peg. It predicted that America’s enemies would grow stronger and its friends weaker as Obama progressed toward the end of his term. Much of what it predicted has come true.

You could tell D’Souza had hit a nerve when Obama toadies like Maureen Dowd went on the attack, accusing the Indian immigrant of racism! (What an original way for a leftist to counter an argument she doesn’t like. Funny no leftist has ever thought of it before.) But if we needed any further proof that D’Souza had in fact tapped into a rich mine of truth, it came when the federal government, now an oppressive arm of a corrupt Chicago-style Democrat machine, caught the author and filmmaker in a minor transgression of campaign finance laws and threatened to throw him in prison for over a decade. (This, after all, is the way this administration deals with inconvenient filmmakers, as we know. It’s quicker than the whole illegally-misuse-the-IRS-then-lose-the-evidence thing.)

D’Souza pled guilty; says he made a mistake; admits he’s not above the law. What he hasn’t done is fall silent in fear. Instead, he’s courageously produced a follow-up to the movie that got beneath this corrupt president’s thin skin and I’m delighted to report it’s a very good one.

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A Young Klavan on Ancient Culture

June 30th, 2014 - 12:09 pm

If you’re a fan of ancient Greece and Rome, you should check out The Forum. My son Spencer, a classics scholar lately out of Yale, is doing his own fresh translations of brief passages from the ancients and then providing a meditation on what these might mean to him personally and thus to a new generation. Perhaps I’m not the most objective observer, but it does seem an incredibly cool idea to me and amazingly well done.

The first translation is a passage from Theophrastus:

Tactlessness is hitting on just the right moment to annoy everyone you meet. A tactless person is the kind of guy who comes to talk to you right when you’re trying to get some work done. He tries to mess around with his girlfriend when she’s under the weather. . . . He shows up in court to give evidence — after a verdict has already been made. . . . When everyone has already heard and understood a story, he stands up and explains it from the beginning.

Read the whole thing here.

Are We Not Men?

June 27th, 2014 - 8:35 am

A character in my novel Man And Wife points out that it’s difficult to talk about manhood because an essential part of manhood is not talking about it. But that didn’t stop me from joining a panel with my friends at BOND during their annual Father’s Day Conference on Fatherhood and Men. With the fearless and humorous preacher Jesse Lee Peterson leading the discussion, the 45-minutes or so absolutely zipped by. Here it is for your delectation and delight:

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By the way, if you click on the Jesse Lee Peterson link, you’ll find my City Journal profile of him, the anti-Jesse Jackson. If you click on Man And Wife, you’ll have something absolutely great to read for the weekend! Is this blog a resource or what?

Pre-Pub Praise for “MindWar”

June 25th, 2014 - 9:37 am


A nice pre-publication review has come in from the trade journal Booklist for the first volume in my new YA trilogy, MindWar - which is officially published July 8:

“Edgar Award–winning Klavan’s well-orchestrated fantasy thriller features brisk but compelling character development, a touch of wry humor, Christian sensitivity that doesn’t proselytize, and an imaginative mix of gaming action with real-life stakes. With just the right cliff-hanger ending, this trilogy opener shows promise. “

On top of which, unlike so many reviewers, Francisca Goldsmith gives a concise and accurate description of the plot:

“After recent high-school grad Rick is so seriously injured in a car accident that he will likely never again be a football star, he’s consumed with so much bitterness, particularly about his absent father, that his life has spiraled into days and nights spent playing video games alone in his room and snapping at his adoring younger brother and caring mother. As he drifts ever closer to permanent, alienating self-centeredness, he’s kidnapped by a team of secret agents who find him through his prowess in his favorite video game… They offer him an opportunity to use his athletic prowess again, this time in a virtual environment, to combat a foreign threat. ”

You can pre-order the book here. And should!

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Being a professional writer is not a heroic job, but it does have at least one moral requirement:  you mustn’t lie.  If you make your living by writing, it stands to reason there are people who read what you write; you therefore have at least some power to inform, influence, enlighten or persuade. You can be wrong — we’re all wrong sometimes; you can err — everyone does. But to use whatever amount of power you have to deceive intentionally by commission or omission or distortion is wicked; it’s a sin.

So if Katie McDonough, an assistant editor at Salon, finds herself feeling angry all the time, as I very much suspect she does, it’s not because conservative columnist George Will pretended “rape never happens,” because that never happened; it’s not because Will claimed that being a rape victim is a “coveted status,” because Will never did; it’s not because Will feels uncomfortable discussing sexual assault, because he very obviously does not; it’s because she’s ashamed of herself for deceiving her audience by distorting Will’s words, thoughts and intentions, as she very well should be. Shame and self-disgust sometimes make you lash out at other people to keep you from facing what you’ve done yourself.

Will wrote a June 6 column for the Washington Post, expressing a bit of schadenfreude at the fact that universities, hotbeds of leftism, are now being hoist by their own leftist petard through government interference. Colleges, Will wrote, “are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (‘micro-aggressions,’ often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.” There is no way this can be taken to mean that actual victims of rape have a coveted status and it’s disgusting to say so.

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