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Ed Driscoll

God And Man At Dupont University

‘Your Dad is Not Hitler’

October 17th, 2014 - 1:26 pm

“To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Charles Krauthammer wrote over a decade ago. Around that time, Christopher Caldwell of in the Weekly Standard explored the lament of the small-town wannabe “Progressive:”

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

And as the great Theodore Dalrymple writes today concerning his travails in France, the original Blue State, no matter how much you may hate him for what you perceive as his moral shortcomings, “Your Dad is Not Hitler:”

A few weeks ago I noticed the following slogan painted on the walls of a supermarket in France:

Hitler, Sarko—même combat

[Hitler, Sarkosy—same battle]

* * * * * * * * * * *

My wife, who was with me when I saw the painted slogan, said immediately when she saw it that the young person who painted it (and painting slogans on walls is a young man’s game) must have been ignorant of history.

If so, it seems to me it must have been ignorance of a special kind, not just of the facts.

* * * * * * * * * * *

In other words, there is an unattractive egotism and grandiosity in the slogan. There is an envy of suffering because suffering is supposed to confer moral authority on the sufferer, which is not available to those who merely think about suffering without experience of its worst forms. The syllogism is as follows: the suffering have moral authority; I have moral authority; therefore I suffer.

* * * * * * * * * * *

There is another reason why people like to compare their current situation with the catastrophic past, however absurd or demeaning to past sufferings that comparison might be. It gives them license to behave badly within their own little compass. Why should anyone concern himself with my peccadilloes when we are in the midst of a moral catastrophe equivalent to Nazism? To do so is to display moral triviality; it is to fiddle while Rome burns. Therefore, I can behave badly and still think myself a moral man, because I concern myself with the important things, true morality being to have the right opinions about the big questions of the day and not to immerse oneself in the trivia of one’s own individual conduct.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Glenn Reynolds proffers a time and sanity-saving tip for his Insta-readers: “When students go on about social justice, the proper response is to tell them you don’t care what they think, because they don’t know enough to have an intelligent opinion yet. If universities were run on this principle, the 3% of students responsible for 98% of the idiocy would no longer have their destructive impact. Also, it’s true: They don’t know enough to have an intelligent opinion, as demonstrated by the opinions they do have.”

(H/T: 5′F)

“The End of Columbus Day is the End of America,” Daniel Greenfield writes at his the Sultan Knish blog, on the left’s annual groupthink black armband grievance freakout over yesterday’s holiday. But is the left taking a second look at the man who discovered America?

At Hot Air today, “St. Louis protesters refer to Columbus as the ‘first looter,’” Jazz Shaw writes:

One of the most interesting sentiments being expressed, however, touched on the fact that the latest protest was taking place on Columbus Day.

“This is the real definition of resistance … this thing right here that we’re doing right now is not only a symbolism of what we can do when we stick together, this is … It’s the beginning in a change in our consciousness as a people, as a human race,” Dhoruba Shakur said.

They noted the significance of it being Columbus Day, calling him “the first looter” and saying they were “reclaiming” the college campus. “I know this was a college a couple of hours ago, but as of right now this is our spot and we not going nowhere,” a protest leader said.

If Columbus is “The First Looter,” that’s good from the left’s perspective, isn’t it? After all, as a Salon columnist wrote in August at the height of the riots ginned up by Comcast-NBC-MSNBC in Ferguson:

It seems far easier to focus on the few looters who have reacted unproductively to this tragedy than to focus on the killing of Michael Brown. Perhaps looting seems like a thing we can control. I refuse. I refuse to condemn the folks engaged in these acts, because I respect black rage.

So win-win for all on Columbus Day, right? Centrist, conservative, libertarian and sensible moderate Americans can continue think of him as the man who discovered the New World and establishing a foothold that would lead to founding of the greatest nation on earth, which would go on to save Europe from socialist totalitarianism three times in a row in the 20th century. 21st century American socialist totalitarians can now consider Columbus as a man with wicked cool superfly gangsta street cred as the First Looter.

Problem solved! You’re welcome, America.

1984-not-a-users-guide

“Neo-Victorianism on Campus” is explored by Heather Mac Donald at the Weekly Standard, who asks, “Is this the end of the collegiate bacchanal?

It turns out that when you decouple the sex drive from modesty and prudence, it takes armies of elected officials, bureaucrats, and consultants to protect females from “undesirable” behavior. Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe is establishing a task force on campus sexual violence comprising up to 30 top state officials and representatives from law enforcement and higher education. Connecticut is requiring colleges to form sexual assault response teams, on the model, presumably, of active shooter response teams. California has just enacted a law mandating that colleges receiving state funds require students to be in “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” in order to engage in sexual activity, agreement that is “ongoing throughout a sexual activity and that can be revoked at any time.” Gloria Steinem and a gender studies professor from New York’s Stony Brook University explain in the New York Times: The California law “redefines that gray area” between “yes” and “no.” “Silence is not consent; it is the absence of consent. Only an explicit ‘yes’ can be considered consent.” In other words, California’s new statute, like many existing campus policies, moves the sexual default for female students back to “no.”

But isn’t this bureaucratic and legislative ferment, however ham-handed, being driven by an epidemic of campus rape? There is no such epidemic. There is, however, a squalid hook-up scene, the result of jettisoning all normative checks on promiscuous behavior. A recent case from Occidental College illustrates the reality behind so-called “campus rape.” Girls are drinking themselves blotto precisely in order to lower their inhibitions for casual sex, then regretting it afterwards.

* * * * * * * *

We have come very far from the mud-drenched orgies of Woodstock. Feminists in the neo-Victorian era are demanding that written material that allegedly evokes nonconsensual sex be prefaced by warnings regarding its threatening content, so that female readers can avoid fits of vapors and fainting—a phenomenon known as “trigger warnings.”

Socialism’s heyday was a century ago, when early “Progressives” such as H.G. Wells, Margaret Sanger, and Woodrow Wilson walked the otherwise puritanical America and England. Perhaps the ideology’s growing sense of nostalgia is what’s causing it to claim puritanism for itself.

Of course, given the nightmarish portrait that campus administrators are painting of their own legacy education models, it’s a good thing that more advanced rape-free educational alternatives exist in the 21st century:

Quote of the Day

October 6th, 2014 - 6:48 pm


From “Right Behind Ya,” Anthony Sacramone’s very funny review of the new Nicholas Cage remake(!) of Left Behind. (Sacramone had the recent review of the third Atlas Shrugged movie, which he dubbed “the  libertarian Left Behind,” which is loads of fun as well. (The review, not necessarily the underlying movie.))

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

October 4th, 2014 - 11:52 am

This is the satiric Photoshop I did back in April for Roger Simon’s post titled, “College: The Sixty-Five Thousand Dollar Misunderstanding,” which referenced the Obama administration and Columbia University’s fixation on “gender-neutral bathrooms,” combined with the then-recent Facebook freakout that led to them adding 56(!) gender choices for users to pick from.

As Britain’s Malcolm Muggeridge observed a half century ago, there is no way for any satirist to outpace reality.

Of course these days, reality and Harvard are on increasingly chilly terms:

The Twitter account for Harvard Divinity School published a photograph of a sign outside a campus restroom. The restroom is labeled an “all gender restroom” and the sign adds that “anyone can use this restroom, regardless of gender identity or expression.”

Here’s the tweet:


So what will arrive next at the crossroads of gender and socialism? As often is the case in these matters, Britain leads the way

Ebola: Better Dead Than Rude?

October 3rd, 2014 - 3:08 pm

“The Case for Panic,” as calculated by Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon, who notes the theorem is simple one. “Incompetent government + corrupt elite = disaster:”

Over the last few years the divergence between what the government promises and what it delivers, between what it says is happening or will happen and what actually is happening and does happen, between what it determines to be important and what the public wishes to be important—this gap has become abysmal, unavoidable, inescapable. We hear of “lone-wolf” terrorism, of “workplace violence,” that if you like your plan you can keep your plan. We are told that Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration, that al Qaeda is on the run, that the border is secure as it has ever been, that Assad must go, that I didn’t draw a red line, the world drew a red line, that the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups involved not a smidgen of corruption, that the Islamic State is not Islamic. We see the government spend billions on websites that do not function, and the VA consign patients to death by waiting list and then cover it up. We are assured that Putin won’t invade; that the Islamic State is the jayvee team of terrorism; that Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction; that there is a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

While the public remains pro-Israel, our government negotiates with Israel’s enemies. While the public wants to reduce immigration, the preeminent legislative objective of both parties is a bill that would increase it. While the public is uninterested in global warming, while costly regulations could not pass a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, while the scientific consensus behind the green agenda is, at the very least, fraying, the president says that climate change is the greatest threat to the United States. While Americans tell pollsters their economic situation has not improved, and that things are headed in the wrong direction—while even Democratic economists acknowledge the despondent state of the middle class—the president travels to Chicago to celebrate his economic recovery.

These disjunctions and confusions, these missteps, scandals, and miscalculations, have hurt Obama’s approval numbers. They endanger the Democratic Senate majority, contribute to the widespread sense of disorder and decay, shatter trust in government and in public institutions. They have put into stark relief a political class dominated by liberal partisans, captured by ideas and interests removed from those of ordinary Americans. The stories of ineptitude or malfeasance that appear in the daily newspaper are more than examples of high ideals executed poorly. They are examples of the pursuit of ideas—of equality and diversity and progress and centralization and environmentalism and globalization—to absurd and self-destructive limits.

It is precisely the intersection of Ebola and globalization that worries me. The only response to a virus this deadly is to quarantine it. Stop flights, suspend visas, and beef up customs and security. It can be done. If the FAA can cancel flights to Israel, why can’t it cancel flights to and from the West African countries whence the outbreak originated?

Because — wait for it…wait for itracism!*

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Last night Anderson Cooper 24 spoke with author David Quammen about the book Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus and How America Should Respond to It. 

Anderson Cooper said, “There are those who say that there should not be flights allowed from Liberia to US, even flights that have connected through Europe.  That’s not even really possible.  First of all, I don’t think there are many flights that directly connect from Monrovia to the US.  Most of them are connection flights, so it’s virtual impossible in real time like that to track somebody, I would think.”

QUAMMEN:  You can’t isolate neighborhoods; you can’t isolate nations.  It doesn’t work.  And people talk about, “Well, we shouldn’t allow any flights from Liberia.”  I mean, we in America, how dare we turn our backs on Liberia? Given the fact that this is a country that was founded in the 1820s, 1830s because of American slavery, we have a responsibility to stay connected with them and help them see this through.

RUSH:  There. Have you doubted anything about this that I have been attributing to political correctness all week? There you have it.  How dare we turn our backs on Liberia? How dare we ban flights!  How dare we?  Liberia only exists because of American slavery.  We owe them by sharing the burden.

A few months after 9/11, John Derbyshire summed up the existential threat of political correctness as “Better Dead Than Rude.” Even more so than how PC diminished the War on Terror (which owes its very name to political correctness, of course), we may see that theorem out tested out far too literally in the coming weeks and months.

* And its tony friend in academia, Black Armband History.

Flashback: “Senator Obama rips Bush for being unprepared for avian flu epidemic.”

‘California Sends in the Sex Police’

October 3rd, 2014 - 2:33 pm

As Ramesh Ponnuru asks in Bloomberg View, “Would a college really expel a student for not getting an explicit verbal ‘yes’ before kissing someone?”

Maybe not. Administrators might think that would be overkill, or not want the bad publicity or lawsuits that would follow. On the other hand, they might not want to deal with the consequences of letting someone they’ve labeled a perpetrator of sexual assault stay on campus, either.

One defense of the law is that it doesn’t seek to micromanage sexual activity on campus, since it applies only to cases where assault is alleged. But that’s hardly a defense at all, since it could apply to a range of overbroad laws. A vague statute that appears to criminalize some ordinary activity won’t be applied against everyone who does it; it will come into force only when authorities bring a case, a complaint is filed and so on. What the critics of the California law are worried about is the possibility that regrets or misunderstandings will lead to such allegations.

The law seeks to reduce one sort of injustice: the kind that happens when a victim of assault has to keep going to classes with her assailant. But supporters seem utterly dismissive of the idea that another type of injustice — the false or misguided accusation that results in a student’s expulsion — matters at all.

“Early ’70s California was, not to put too fine a point on it, a great place to get laid. I can vouch the same was true in the late ’80s and early ’90s, too,” Steve Green quipped last week. “But no longer. Not today. Not with the Junior Anti-Sex League running the joint.”

Sacramento really needs to stop looking at 1984 as a how-to guide for government. In the meantime though, there’s a simple solution available to the prospective student or his parent looking for a safer educational environment:

In his take on the latest dissemblings by Neil deGrasse Tyson after being caught promulgating a quote never uttered by President Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (when Bush was in full-on PC “Islam is peace” mode), Samuel James of the Patheos Website writes:

It’s difficult to understand why Tyson didn’t simply diffuse the situation via retraction and apology. I agree with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Adler that Tyson’s behavior puts his integrity on the line.

It’s frustrating to note the shortage of real public pressure on Tyson. [Left-leaning journalist--Ed] John Aziz, for example, grants that Tyson should correct the record, but then suspects that close attention on Tyson’s discrepancies is motivated by global warming denial. “[I]t should be said that none of Tyson’s errors amount to methodological or factual errors in published scientific papers,” Aziz writes. This may be true but it’s also completely irrelevant. Sean Davis’s investigation suggests that Tyson may have a considerable history of public fabulisms. Saying false things–and then doubling down on  your own brilliance when evidence of your mistake is raised–is an issue that affects the credibility of any person, scientist or no.

Aziz exemplifies here a troubling attitude that some, particularly on the Left, have towards scientific research. The notion that a fudged quotation here or a false statistic there don’t add up to a credibility problem for an accomplished scientist is valid only if one believes that scientific work is a completely closed realm of self-referential authority. That is, unfortunately, how some scientists have postured their discipline (consider Tyson’s extreme dismissiveness towards those studying philosophy). In a recent cover story for National Review, Charles Cooke noted that scientists seem of all professionals most encouraged to dispense authoritative knowledge on issues well outside their academic training. This bespeaks a change in the way society perceives what “scientist” means. Rather than a fallible observer who utilizes the scientific method to test hypotheses, the word now drums up images of a priest of culture dispensing quasi-religious wisdom to the ignorant masses. “It’s science” has become the new “it’s Gospel.”

“Dispensing authoritative knowledge on issues well outside their academic training,” you say? As Tom Wolfe has noted on numerous occasions, such as this interview 2006 interview with Bruce Cole of the National Endowment for the Humanities, that’s the very definition of being an intellectual:

Wolfe: I make a distinction between intellectuals and people of intellectual achievement.

Cole: Who are intellectuals?

Wolfe: An intellectual feeds on indignation and really can’t get by without it. The perfect example is Noam Chomsky. When Chomsky was merely the most exciting and most looked-to and in many ways, the most profound linguist in this country if not the world, he was never spoken of as an American intellectual. Here was a man of intellectual achievement. He was not considered an intellectual until he denounced the war in Vietnam, which he knew nothing about. Then he became one of America’s leading intellectuals. He remains one until this day, which finally has led to my definition of an intellectual: An intellectual is a person who is knowledgeable in one field but speaks out only in others.

This whole business was started unintentionally by my great idol, Émile Zola, in the Dreyfus case. Zola was an extremely popular novelist. A popular writer writing fiction had never been considered a person of any intellectual importance before, but in the Dreyfus case he and Anatole France and others who were trying to defend Dreyfus were singled out by Clemenceau as “the intellectuals.” The term had never been used that way before-meaning people who live by intellectual labor. That was Clemenceau’s term.

When Zola wrote his great manifesto, J’accuse . . .!, it appeared on the front page of a daily newspaper. All 300,000 copies of the newspaper were sold out by afternoon. Suddenly the world of writers and teachers and all of these intellectual laborers realized that it was possible for a mere scrivener to be called an intellectual and be considered an important person.

Zola, incidentally, was very knowledgeable about the Dreyfus case. He knew it as well as anybody, as well as any law clerk did. That part was lost later on; it was considered not necessary to go that deeply into anything. All that was required was indignation.

Marshall McLuhan once said that moral indignation is a standard strategy for endowing the idiot with dignity. I think that’s quite true these days.

It also meant–the Zola example–that the intellectual is really above the government. It doesn’t mean he hates his country or even hates his government. It just means he looks down upon it from a great height, and he’s been raised to this height by indignation. Without it, it’s impossible to be an intellectual or to be taken seriously.

It caught hold here in the twenties and thirties, this idea of the intellectual who is above all the dim bulbs who actually govern.

Back off man, I’m an intellectual.

Update: Richard Feynman on “Cargo Cult Science.”

More: “I like Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’m sure he’s a nice, smart, interesting guy. His most ardent followers, however, are not. And, if his behavior over the past month is any indication, he’s been captured by them.”

“Gov. Brown Signs Bill Telling College Kids Where, When to Have Sex,” Robby Soave writes at Reason:

California Gov. Jerry Brown affixed his signature to SB 967—the “Yes Means Yes” affirmative consent bill—which will require colleges to police their students’ sex lives.

Some congrats are in order, I suppose? To collectivist feminists, doomsayers of the “rape is an ever-worsening epidemic” variety, and other puritans: Your so-called progressivism has restored Victorian Era prudishness to its former place as a guiding moral compass. Well done, liberals.

As “liberalism” has moved further and further to the left, I thought they preferred to be called “Progressives” — at least, that’s what Hillary and Barry were telling us all around 2007 and 2008. If you’re going to dust-off a century-old Victorian-era political ideology as your namesake worldview, might as well go all the way.

Meanwhile, as Ricochet contributor “Misthiocracy” asks, linking to Soave’s post at Reason, “‘Hmm,’ I sez to myself. ‘Isn’t Victorial Era prudishness precisely the thing that social conservatives seem to want?’”

Misthiocracy links to Dan Calabrese on Herman Cain’s Weblog, who issues a modest proposal of sorts:

I would like to offer a suggestion to the college dudes of America that would protect them from legal jeopardy in the area of sexual assault, if it’s OK with the rest of you that I cite as a source for my thinking the Word of God. Here’s you guys need to play it:

Meet a girl. Do not have sex with her yet. I’ll tell you when. Get to know the girl. Let her get to know you. Do not move in with her at this point! I’ll tell you when. And no sex yet either. OK. Now, determine whether this might a girl you could commit to for the rest of your life. If so, ask her if she would be interested in such an arrangement. Not yet! Wait for it. OK, now, if she is agreeable, marry her. Spend a year planning a big wedding or elope this weekend, I don’t really care, as long as you make your commitment before God.

OK. You ready? Now . . . move in together and have all the sex you want. Follow this plan and you will not be accused of sexual assault.

Don’t want to follow this plan? Good luck.

Heh. By the way, congrats Blue Staters and Millenials in your zeal to find a war on women and a rape culture under every rock for going back to the future — way back, bypassing the groovy free love 1960s to the Victorian 1890s:

Related: “Brown Vetoes Bill Limiting Drone Surveillance.”

More: “Early ’70s California was, not to put too fine a point on it, a great place to get laid. I can vouch the same was true in the late ’80s and early ’90s, too,” Steve Green writes. “But no longer. Not today. Not with the Junior Anti-Sex League running the joint.”

The higher education bubble and the low state of the MSM combine in a facepalm-worthy twofer spotted by John Nolte at Big Journalism:

Racially-obsessed Daisy Hernández published an 8,000-word excerpt of her racially-obsessed memoir in the racially-obsessed Salon. In the excerpt, Hernández admits that at age 25, while taking graduate-level journalism classes at no less than New York University, she had absolutely no idea what a newspaper editorial was.

* * * * * * *

Incredibly, despite the fact that she had no idea what an editorial was, Hernández got the job:

Oye, and just like that I send my resume, which now includes research on indigenous maxi pads, to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.

I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.

How any American can make it to age 25 without knowing what an newspaper editorial is, is shocking enough. In the case of Hernández, journalism was her chosen profession, and she was taking graduate-level classes on the subject at one of the world’s elite journalism schools.

As John writes, “Hernández’ breathtaking ignorance says as much about NYU and the New York Times as it does her.” Perhaps she can collaborate on columns with fellow Timespeople Kate Zernike, Michael Barbaro, and Bill Keller, as they discover who Friedrich Hayek and Shylock were, and that Catholicism and Lutheranism aren’t “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity.”

In 2001, Howell Raines, then editor of the New York Times, admitted, in a classic Freudian slip, that sex and skin color trumped the quality of the Times’ product:

In a speech before the National Association of Black Journalists in 2001, Raines specifically cited [Jayson] Blair as his star example of a hiring campaign that “has made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse.”

Somewhere though just offstage, Mencken is alternately weeping with tears and gushing gales of laughter over the current standard of the MSM, and the gray lady in particular.

Or perhaps he’s simply given up on the newspaper world entirely and raising his hands in protest of Ferguson.

“Christians, and those rejecting the me-generation liberal dogma of ‘if it feels good do it,’ are no longer tolerable by the intellectual and cultural elite,” Robert P. George of Princeton notes, as quoted by Ginni Thomas of the Daily Caller:

“Christians, and those rejecting the me-generation liberal dogma of ‘if it feels good do it,’ are no longer tolerable by the intellectual and cultural elite,” says George, 59, director of the James Madison program at Princeton University. Citing the political witch hunt that forced Brendan Eich’s departure as CEO of Mozilla for a small contribution to a conservative political cause, George said politically correct mobs “threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil, good. They command us to confirm our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.”

Yet instead of accepting this liberal cultural dominance, George offers a call to arms with practical advice for the embattled faithful. Encouraging conservatives to model themselves off the early civil rights leaders who clung to noble bedrock free speech principles liberals claim to embrace today, George says “our first and most effective move is to hold these elites to their principles.”

As the late Kenneth Minogue wrote in the New Criterion in the summer of 2010:

My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.

And so are those we employ to educate America’s children as well, alas.

Meanwhile, whenever I get a twinge of guilt that I’m getting too out there when quoting articles that compare the quotes of radical Islamists with radical leftists (such as “Mohamed Atta, Socialist Critic of Capitalism,” linking to a 2011 article at the American Spectator), radical Islamists are unfortunately all too quick to reinforce that notion: “Anjem Choudary: ‘Muslims must reject the unIslamic ideas of democracy/freedom.’”

Thomas Friedman, Donna Brazile, Harry Reid, and RFK Jr. couldn’t have said it better themselves.

Related:

nyt_shylock_tweet_9-17-14

I’m not sure which is worse, if New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro is lying that he doesn’t know what a Shylock is to protect Joe Biden — or if he really didn’t know what the term meant when he wrote above tweet. In any case, as this unsigned article at the Washington Free Beacon notes:

New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confusion over a recent controversy in which Vice President Joe Biden employed the anti-Semitic term “shylock” in a speech.

“Raise your hand if you were not familiar with the word ‘Shylock’ before it became a controversy in past 24 hours?” Barbaro tweeted to his followers, prompting much ridicule.

Biden employed the historically offensive and anti-Semitic word in a speech Tuesday. He was forced to apologize early Wednesday after he came under criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others.

Barbaro, purportedly a trained journalist and political expert, had apparently never heard the word before or come across it in literature. Twitter users immediately ridiculed the reporter for his ignorance. “And you admit that?” tweeted author Ben Cohen.

The Beacon claims their paper mailed Barbaro a hard copy edition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice “for his further edification.”

Assuming that Barbaro was telling the truth (which is less and less the default position with the MSM, as they are self-admitting with increasing frequency), his admission dovetails remarkably well with another recent article at his place of employment. When I wrote my post on Monday on the Times’ culpability in regards to what Barbaro’s fellow Timesman Roger Cohen dubbed America and the world’s “Great Unraveling,” I wondered if Cohen’s reference to Kipling at the end of his article would go past many New York Times readers, given how PC modern education has become. Did Barbaro, age 34 or 35, who graduated from Connecticut’s Hamden Hall Country Day School in 1998 and Yale in 2002, miss the classes on Shakespeare, or was he no longer taught in high school by the mid-1990s?

We know the Bard is being taught less and less in the 21st century, as Andrew Klavan noted at the start of the year:

City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald is one of the best reporters in the country, one of our most courageous writers and a consistently moral voice. Last year, she gave the Manhattan Institute’s prestigious Wriston Lecture and last Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published an adaptation of that lecture under the headline “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity.” A fuller version of this brilliant piece will be in CJ’s Winter number. Get your hands on it. Read it.

Heather Mac begins by noting that the leftist academic buffoons at UCLA no longer require that the university’s English majors read Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton. They do, however, require these students take courses in leftist theories on gender, race, ethnicity and other meaningless subjects whose names I slept through.

In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

In still other words, the people tasked with teaching our young about the past have drowned out the voices of the past with their own voices. Their own whiny, unwise, small-minded and bitter voices.

Read on for how today’s low state of American elite culture was anticipated by England’s similar cultural collapse under socialist rule after World War II. In his 1999 book The Abolition of Britain Peter Hitchens wrote, “Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, [novelist Kingsley Amis] suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse:”

A real occupation would almost certainly have produced a resistance, the circulation of banned texts and the holding of secret religious services. But a country which ploughs under its own culture, without violence or open suppression, has no such resistance. The objects of the attack are unaware that they are under attack, and there are no martyrs, no persecution to bring resistance into being.

Incidentally, I like the black sunglasses that Barbaro wears in his Twitter profile — they project the requisite “I’m in the media, screw you” vibe, and simultaneously illustrate how much information is blocked before it reaches yet another exquisitely-cocooned Timesman.

Update: Scott Johnson of Power Line asks, “Hath not a Timesman cultural literacy?” Heh.™

Tin Soldiers and Urban Outfitters’ Coming

September 15th, 2014 - 8:00 pm

Shot:

 

Chaser:

altamont_small

Not surprisingly, when it comes to epatering les bourgeois — and not issuing a mealy-mouthed apology afterwards — Kathy Shaidle did it better and first, five years ago.

But then, the collective pop culture history of both events is very, very wrong:

“Of Kent State’s Brick-Throwing Pacifists.”

“Altamont: When the Hippies Were Expelled From the Garden”

Exit tweet:

Exit question: Still think the early 1970s were fun, kids?

Update (9/16/14): “Alas, I can’t take credit for that brilliant ‘ALTAMONT’ t-shirt,” Kathy writes today; noting that it was created by the artists at the Hollywood Loser T-shirt Website. I think she certainly helped to popularize it, though.

“In which our brave and compassionate host, Andrew Klavan, takes a look at some real-life examples of microaggression and the deep harm such assaults can really do.”

Watching the above video, I was reminded of two quotes, one from several decades ago, and one slightly more recent, which explores how entrenched and vexing the problem of campus microagressions truly are. Back in the mid-’70s, after they shared a symposium together, Tom Wolfe quoted German intellectual Günter Grass in his Purple Decades anthology:

“For the past hour I have my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, “You really don’t have so much to worry about.” He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: “You American intellectuals—you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!”

And as Christopher Caldwell wrote in the Weekly Standard a decade ago:

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

Or to paraphrase, those who pound the table the loudest voicing complaints about micro-”aggressions” are fighting off the nagging thought: If the person who committed them isn’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

And for the majority of 21st century students, college is nothing if not a four-year all-out 24-7 all-encompassing effort to repress that thought.

“Newly released video calls NFL action on Ray Rice into question … again; Update: NFL says they never saw it,” Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:

Earlier this year, we took a look at the oddly mild two-game suspension given to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic violence, while at the same time the NFL handed out much longer suspensions for substance abuse and PEDs. One player got threatened with an indefinite suspension just for tweeting derogatory comments about Michael Sam during the draft, but Rice just got two weeks off with no pay for what he and his now-wife described as a mutually violent episode. At the time, the only video publicly available showed the aftermath, with Rice dragging his unconscious girlfriend out of the elevator.  — video that Roger Goodell’s office saw before handing down the much-criticized punishment:

As Ed notes, “TMZ has now published the video from the elevator camera.” It’s ugly stuff, but click over to Hot Air to see it to get an up close look at the nature of the 21st century NFL in action. And purely coincidentally, the timing of the video, released as the Ravens unveil a statue to Ray Lewis, whose role in a 2001 murder is still being debated adds yet another reminder of the increasingly thuggish nature of pro football, along with the all-too-obvious inability of higher education to install character and impulse control in the men it’s training for the future. (Rice downed a couple of cups of coffee at Rugers before deciding to enter the NFL draft rather than graduating college.)

No wonder the sports media is obsessing over the name of the Washington Redskins, despite polling indicating that a majority of fans don’t care. (At yesterday’s game against the Titans, a whopping six protestors turned out in front of the stadium in Houston.) Far better to waste ink and pixels on that topic, than write about an increasingly out of control professional sports league.

QED:

ravens_janay_rice_tweet_9-9-14

By the way, it was already gone before I hit publish on this post, but when I went into Wikipedia to check Rice’s college record, this was at the top of his profile:

ray_rice_wikipedia_9-8-14-1

 

This is far from the first time someone has edited Wikipedia to share with the world his low personal opinion of a pop culture figure; ahh, the “fun” of open-sourced media.

Update: You stay classy ESPN: “Ray Lewis will discuss the Ray Rice video tonight on Monday Night Countdown. The show airs at 5:00 pm ET leading into the MNF opener.” Ahh, the wonderful corporate world of Disney.

Update (11:53 AM PDT): “Breaking: Ravens terminate Ray Rice’s contract after elevator video emerges,” Allahpundit writes:

I wonder what the waiting period here is before the media “redemption” narrative begins building and other NFL teams start looking at him. Over/under is six months.

Sadly, in today’s NFL, that’s a remarkably prescient observation.

More: Greg Aiello, the NFL’s longtime spokesman tweets, “Roger Goodell has announced that based on new video evidence that became available today he has indefinitely suspended Ray Rice.”

I’m sure an hour on Oprah’s couch can get that waved, right? Just ask Michael Vick.

Meanwhile, back in academia:

Update: The Allahpundit-inspired obligatory exit quote: “I won’t call myself a failure. Failure is not getting knocked down. It’s not getting up.”

Britain’s Summer of Hate

September 7th, 2014 - 6:44 pm

“The UK recorded more anti-Semitic incidents in July than any month in the last 30 years,” Yair Rosenberg of Tablet magazine tweets. “This video helps explain why:”

Don’t worry; the historical ignorance that fuels such hatred and idiocy can’t happen in America, right? Well, so much for that idea:

“The paths of political correctness and conformity lead to terrible places in culture,” Erick Erickson of Red State wrote this past week:

 Francis Schaeffer, the theologian, wrote a remarkable book called The God Who is There in 1968. In the book, Schaeffer posits that the United States lags Europe by about thirty years in cultural shifts and he predicted a thirty year or so lag in growing secularism and conformity in the United States.

Just imagine the culture of both nations in the coming years. Or as Mark Steyn wrote in After America, “Look around you. From now on, it gets worse:”

In ten years’ time, there will be no American Dream, any more than there’s a Greek or Portuguese Dream. In twenty, you’ll be living the American Nightmare, with large tracts of the country reduced to the favelas of Latin America, the rich fleeing for Bermuda or New Zealand or wherever on the planet they can buy a little time, and the rest trapped in the impoverished, violent, diseased ruins of utopian vanity.

Surrounded by people with no sense of history, who think that Israel is the second coming of the Third Reich.

Or as Victor Davis Hanson asks today, “Are the Orcs Winning?”

Has Man Reached His Intellectual Peak?

August 22nd, 2014 - 3:38 pm

Well considering it’s Friday afternoon, for this week, probably. But as the London Daily Mail recently asked, “Are we becoming more STUPID? IQ scores are decreasing — and some experts argue it’s because humans have reached their intellectual peak:”

Evidence suggests that the IQs of people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have declined in the last decade.

Opinion is divided as to whether the trend is long-term, but some researchers believe that humans have already reached intellectual peak.

An IQ test used to determine whether Danish men are fit to serve in the military has revealed scores have fallen by 1.5 points since 1998.

And standard tests issued in the UK and Australia echo the results, according to journalist Bob Holmes, writing in New Scientist.

The most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak.

Between the 1930s and 1980s, the average IQ score in the US rose by three points and in post-war Japan and Denmark, test scores also increased significantly — a trend known as the ‘Flynn effect’.

This increase in intelligence was due to improved nutrition and living conditions – as well as better education — says James Flynn of the University of Otago, after whom the effect is named.

Now some experts believe we are starting to see the end of the Flynn effect in developed countries – and that IQ scores are not just levelling out, but declining.

Scientists including Dr Flynn think better education can reverse the trend and point out the perceived decline could just be a blip. However, other scientists are not so optimistic.

Better education? Well, there’s certainly lots of room for improvement there, considering how political correctness has transformed history education into a grievance industry and dramatically dumbed-down textbooks in general, as Bill Whittle recently noted, comparing a century-old sixth-grade reader with today’s equivalents:

But the dumbing down and related coarsening of the culture is a trend that dates back to at least the 1960s, particularly in England, as Peter Hitchens noted in his bracing 1999 book, The Abolition of Britain. In his chapter on the collapse of Britain’s culture — both its highbrow and pop divisions — Hitchens wrote:

The novelist Kingsley Amis, deeply depressed by the collapse of knowledge and good judgement in the literary and  political worlds, wrote a withering satire on the decay of national culture at the end of the 1970s (Russian Hide and Seek, 1980). Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, Amis suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse. [See also: collapse of American education system -- Ed] His book is a portrait of a nation without a memory, its ancient buildings demolished, its trees hacked down, its people barely educated and bottomlessly ignorant of their origins and past, living on stewed beets, pork bellies and windfall apples. A small and dwindling group of ‘pre-wars’ maintain the memories of what has been lost, but those memories are fading, and so all trace of them will die with this elderly generation. Amis describes an attempt to revive enthusiasm for Shakespeare after half a century of Soviet occupation, during which British history, literature and religion have been ruthlessly suppressed. A group of Soviet ‘liberals’ are trying to give the people their culture back, and are staging a performance of Romeo and Juliet in along-closed provincial theatre.

The actress playing Juliet, an English girl brought up long after the occupation, attempts to speak some lines from the play. She does not understand the rhythm of the verse, the classical allusions to Phoebus and Phaeton mean nothing to her, in fact she hasn’t a clue what she is saying. But nobody notices. [See also: MSM's lack of reaction to President Obama's weird ignorance of much of American history and culture -- Ed]

At this point, Hitchens quotes from a character in Amis’ novel, the “Armenian cultural commissar” who’s overseeing the play’s production, despite having absolutely no sense of the subjects of any of Shakespeare’s plays. He describes Romeo and Juliet as a play in which “a young man meets a girl at a party and feels her up in public, in front of her parents, in fact,” along with noting that “it’s so hard to understand these characters and to make out what’s one meant to think about them.” Still though, he thinks that the play’s violence will help sell it, “and the costumes and sets are going to be spectacular.” See also: mindset behind recent Hollywood comic book-style adaptation of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

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It’s Probably a Coincidence

August 21st, 2014 - 10:51 am

“Jewish Student ‘Punched’ by Pro-Palestinian Student at Temple University” in Philadelphia, Paul Miller writes at Breitbart.com’s Big Peace:

First reported by Franklin Center for Government & Integrity contributor Daniel Mael on Truthrevolt.org, Daniel Vessal was “punched in the face by a violent member of the anti-Israel organization SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine). “

Vessal claims he approached the SJP table to “see what angle they were coming from,” and began a dialogue. He told his fellow students working the booth, “You shouldn’t be protesting Israel; if anything, protest the terrorists.”

“This one girl sitting at the end of the table was just laughing and laughing at me,” Vessal explained,  “and people at the table were calling me a ‘baby killer.’” He responded that when they were done laughing, “maybe we could have a genuinely peaceful conversation.”

He continued, “And then this kid just rocks me in the face as hard as he can. My glasses flew off. After a two-second blur I had no clue what had happened. I couldn’t believe this kid actually hit me.”

Eyewitnesses Josh Josephs and Alex Winokur told Mael:

“Daniel went up to talk with them and have an educated conversation and try to rationalize their opinions,” said Josephs. “The conversation shortly escalated to the Palestine group being very arrogant and irrational. The people behind the table starting attacking Daniel, calling him a ‘Zionist, racist, baby killer.’”

When Temple University security appeared on the scene, Vessal began explaining what occurred. According to multiple witnesses, the SJP students were shouting at him, “Zionist pig!” Witnesses also told Mael they heard the SJP students yelling “Kike” at Vessal as he lay on the ground.

Temple University, you say? Go figure:

Or as Roger L. Simon recently noted, “Welcome to the 1930s.”

“SHOCK: Jewish students shown ‘photos of ovens and told to get in’ by classmates in Chicago:”

CHICAGO – A school principal has been reassigned after a series of shocking bullying incidents that targeted Jewish students.

DNAinfo Chicago reports Ogden International School of Chicago principal Joshua VanderJagt asked to be reassigned because “challenges” arose after two students – one 14 years old and one 8 years old – suffered repeated threats by classmates.

The challenges surrounded allegations from Ogden parent Lisa Wolf Clemente that her 14-year-old and 8-year-old sons were bullied at both campuses by classmates for their Jewish heritage.

The Gold Coast resident said her teen son was shown photos of ovens and told to get in during lunch periods, intended as a reference to the Holocaust.

At the Streeterville campus, Wolf Clemente said her 8-year-old was invited to join a team called “Jew Incinerator” on the popular game app Clash of Clans. The team was allegedly created by Ogden eighth-graders.

In a screenshot provided by parents, the team description reads: “We are a friendly group of racists with one goal — put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of. Sieg! Heil!”

After the incidents, the bullies were suspended for two days – one in school and one out of school. They were also barred from “eighth grade graduation ceremonies,” according to the news service.

As I’ve written before, I shudder to think of how we’ll collectively remember World War II by the time this decade is out. If at all:

Oh, and speaking of Chicago, “Rahm Emanuel: Illegal Aliens are Fleeing Violent Conditions, So Let’s Move Them to Chicago.” Or as JWF quips, faced with the ongoing violence of Chicago, “perhaps the ‘migrants’ might fare better at home.”

“It’s not pretty, even if your credentials are impeccable,” Neo-Neocon writes:

John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says he remembers the morning he spotted a well-known colleague at a gathering of climate experts.

“I walked over and held out my hand to greet him,” Dr. Christy recalled. “He looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Come on, shake hands with me.’ And he said, ‘No.’ ”

Neo adds, “It’s fortunate for Dr. Christy that burning at the stake has gone out of style.” But paradoxically amongst carbon-obsessed warmists, book-burning is making a rapid comeback, at least at San Jose State:

At speaking of the academic left believing that books have evil talismanic powers, Aaron Clarey spots a hilariously overblown reaction from a librarian who came across my February interview with Aaron on his then-new book Bachelor Pad Economics.

A hundred years ago, a central tenet of the left was “epater la bourgeoisie” — or shock the middle class. Apparently, they didn’t consider that their ideology would become so sclerotic and brittle that it would eventually transform them into a remarkably vapour-prone class of the bourgeois in constant search of the fainting couch. But then, as original Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts once said, you can only be avant-garde for so long before you come garde.