Lately my editor, David Swindle, has been encouraging me to develop a series describing my own out-of-the-box Jewish faith. It’s this mish-mosh of biblical proverbs, Torah adages, stories and songs tightly woven together by my American colonial heritage and intense Zionist pride. There is no one perfect word to describe my Jewishness beyond biblical in nature. Orthodox, Conservative, even Reform I am not. Reconstructionist or Renewal? Forget it. But I find commentary from all denominations (“streams” we call them in Judaism) interesting and acceptable in a “with malice towards none, with charity towards all” kind of way that gives me the liberty to define my Judaism in a way most of my compatriots are simply afraid to do. Which is probably why David finds my approach so fascinating. It’s rare to find a Jew who isn’t somehow fettered by the chains of guilt.
So I begin at the beginning, with Thanksgiving, the quintessential Jewish and American holiday. Traditionally Jews celebrate the idea roughly 1-2 months earlier during Sukkot, a festive fall harvest holiday in which we humble ourselves before the God who brought us out of bondage, not because we are perfect, but because He loves us and wanted to dwell with us. (Sukkahs, as in “tabernacles,” as in “the Lord tabernacles with us.”) When you understand the story of God and Israel as a passionate love story, the struggles are contextualized as are the prophecies, into tough tales with happy endings. When you understand the metaphor of God and Israel as a greater metaphor of God’s love for humanity (we’re just the physical reminders) you open your heart to the immense, overwhelming love of God. And there is nothing more you can do as a human being than reflect on that truth with awe-filled gratitude.
This past week a group of scientists from the European Space Agency landed a spaceship on a comet. Contemporary feminists commented on the happening, but not for the reason you’d think. Screw science. One of the guys on the team talked about the major breakthrough in an on-the-spot interview while wearing a shirt with barely-clad, busty women brandishing guns. Social media chaos ensued. The scientist cried out an apology over the Internet. Apparently the rather clever hashtag #shirtstorm is the real reason why Obama cancelled the space program.
And you wonder why Lana Del Rey would rather spend her time talking about Space-X and Tesla instead of associating herself with the pioneering movement for women that has turned into a forum for Dunham-loving yuppie nags. Celebrities are distancing themselves from the f-word because so-called feminists think the greatest thing they can do for womankind is to complain about a scientist’s tacky shirt. I’m sure that really inspired a teenage girl out there to forego joining ISIS and join in the fight against… dudes bearing busty broads?
Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has declared his love for Lena Dunham. It hardly comes as a surprise that a New York Times writer, even one who dwells to the right of the aisle, would find the Girls prodigy appealing. What makes Douthat’s devotion disturbing is that he has managed to transform a goddess chained to a slew of liberal causes into a sacrificial lamb for conservative culture. In his struggle to do so, his misses the mark in what could have been one of the most culturally relevant critiques of Girls to date.
The critic defends Dunham’s showpiece Girls, writing,
She’s making a show for liberals that, merely by being realistic, sharp-edge, complicated, almost gives cultural conservatism its due.
It’s a seemingly ironic observation, based in the idea that Girls “often portrays young-liberal-urbanite life the way, well, many reactionaries see it…” That is, a subculture on the verge of self-destruction due to excessive amounts of what sociologist Robert Bellah dubbed, “the view that the key to the good life lies almost exclusively in self-discovery, self-actualization, the cultivation of the unique and holy You.”
In other words, as Gawker so simply put it:
He likes watching the show because it allows him to feel superior to Dunham and her fellow sluts.
By employing a rote, traditionalist perspective, Douthat argued himself into a hole, turning his love into judgement and burying his point in poorly-worded theory and equally bad theology.
Dear Adam Bellow,
I’d like to congratulate you on building and launching Liberty Island. You’ve assembled an extraordinary team of writers — 25 so far profiled at PJ Lifestyle – with several of them beginning to contribute blog posts and freelance articles here. I’ll call them out, these are some really great writers and fascinating people: many thanks to Pierre Comtois, Jamie Wilson, Roy M. “Griff” Griffis, Michael Sheldon, Clay Waters, David Churchill Barrow, and David S. Bernstein. And Karina Fabian too is about to make her debut shortly with a wonderful piece that I’m scheduling for tomorrow. Updated: don’t miss “10 Excuses For Why We Don’t Get More Done (And Why They Are Excuses).”
I can’t wait to get to know more of the Liberty Island writers and continue collaborations.
I appreciated your recent manifesto, “Let Your Right Brain Run Free,” at National Review and really only took mild issue with what seemed to me your overemphasis on the novel and pooh-poohing of film’s greater power to hypnotize viewers:
What about Hollywood? Many conservatives talk about the need to get into movie production. I agree this is very important, but it requires a massive investment of capital, and more to the point, I think people on the right are over-impressed with the power of film. To hear some conservatives talk you’d think movies were the Holy Grail, the golden passkey to the collective unconscious. This gets things precisely backwards. Sure, a successful Hollywood movie can have a major impact. But as a vehicle for political ideas and moral lessons, movies are simplistic and crude compared with the novels on which many are based.
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis both produced big-budget movies that reached millions of people with what most of us would probably agree is a subtly conservative message. Yet both of these successful movie franchises ultimately pale in comparison with the impact of the books. Even at their best, movies are essentially cartoons and their effects are superficial and fleeting. Books engage the reader much more deeply, at a level of identification with the characters and plot that can instruct the soul and edify the mind. A hundred years from now, moreover, these classic books will still be read all over the world in dozens of languages when the films on which they are based are long forgotten or superseded by new forms of entertainment.
In short, conservatives should remember that mainstream popular culture is still largely driven by books. Fiction therefore is and will remain the beating heart of the new counterculture. This is not just my bias as a publisher. It is a practical reality — and a fortunate one for us, since there are hundreds if not thousands of conservative and libertarian writers out there today producing politically themed fiction. The conservative right brain has woken up from its enchanted sleep and it is thriving. Instead of banging on Hollywood’s front door, a better approach is to go in the back by publishing popular conservative fiction and then turning those books into films.
I will write novels someday. And I still enjoy reading good ones. Recently my wife pushed on me her newest obsession, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
The vivid narrative is a fictionalization of the author’s life and tells the story of a young Nigerian woman who immigrates to America and develops a career blogging about her discoveries among races and cultures. A wise excerpt from Page 273:
The movie rights have, of course, been acquired, with Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt starring. I can’t wait to see it.
So real life inspires blogging, blogging inspires a novel — the highlights of which are the blog posts in it — which in turn inspires a movie. I wonder how they’ll depict blogging in the film. Maybe they’ll update it and make her a vlogger on YouTube instead? Part of my wife’s enthusiasm for the novel was because the character was also part of the online “natural hair community,” black and mixed race women who share YouTube tutorials about methods for giving up straightening their hair with destructive chemicals and switching to natural styles and products instead. From page 13:
My wife in her art has called them a counterculture:
My interdisciplinary work concentrates on the Ebony woman, Gen-X leaning Millennials, and our hair. Social media and video-based tutorials have influenced many Millennial women to embrace natural representations of their ethnic hair. These young women have become pioneers of the Millennial Natural Hair Movement, an expanding and informed counterculture responding to painful trends that date back to the early twentieth century.
Here’s an example of a video she made depicting the kinds of tips that circulate on YouTube amongst Natural Hair vloggers (she gave it an artsier spin):
I think this is an expression of the paradigm for today — that the various mediums of novels, film, and online media are blending back and forth together and the line between fiction and non-fiction blurs more too.
Recently when April and I made our move to South LA this summer in our packing and unpacking I had the opportunity to go through the DVD collection I’d accumulated over the last 15 years and assess the titles that still had the most value to me. As we’ve discussed and you know I’ve written about, so many of the movies and filmmakers that I once loved as a nihilistic postmodern college leftist I now regard with varying levels of disdain, disgust, and embarrassment.
But these are ones that I continue to regard with affection, that I still return to, and that I think can offer inspiration for your growing team of counterculture crusaders looking to change the world with their art. Some of them I’m a little bit more critical of than I once was, but they all still have some usefulness in some capacity or another…
(Note: this is a version 1.0 of this list, future editions will incorporate newly discovered films and suggestions from readers…)
This week Walter Hudson joined the pop culture debate and expressed his concerns about DC’s attempt to catch up with Marvel on the movie front, concluding in “DC Vs. Marvel: Why This DC Fanboy Believes Marvel Already Won“:
After Man of Steel’s 143 minute run time, I’m left with little idea of who any of these people are or why I should care. The project rarely stops for breath, has scant humor, and takes itself far too seriously. The Nolan narrative style, skipping back and forth through time, works better when utilized by Nolan himself than by the frantic and unfocused Zack Snyder.
If that’s how we’re going to get introduced to all these characters, to Batman and Wonder Woman and Cyborg, than I fear a Justice League adventure will never be as fun as The Avengers. And that’s sad. Because it easily could be. DC has a rich history to draw from with decades of stories to mine and refresh. These characters deserve the same focused, nuanced, yet lighthearted treatment that Marvel Studios has given its mightiest heroes.
Hannah Sternberg also joined the discussion, declaring her allegiances in the pop culture debate to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly as superior franchises to Star Trek and Star Wars in her post “The Bible of Buffy“:
I’m going to bounce this one back to the committee. Dave, Walter, other PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island writers, — did Joss Whedon change your life, or simply stunt it?
Perhaps this wasn’t the answer that Hannah was anticipating but Whedon’s impact on my life is very different from hers. I never “got into” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, or Serenity. While recognizing their significance to geek culture and respecting the fact that Whedon operates at a level of sophistication well above most creators in the sci-fi/fantasy world, it was another of the writer-director’s works that resonated with me.
Back in January of 2013 I published “10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers Is the Best Superhero Film.” In the piece — which I’ve decided to republish today — I argued that the movie’s success came from its ability to reinvent classic mythological themes and archetypes.
What do you think? Is The Avengers as good as I claim it is? Should it stand as a model for those aspiring to make big, bold, profitable, mainstream popular culture infused with good values? Would DC striving for a Justice League film end up just a pale imitation of what Whedon already mastered?
The hypocrisy of the intellectual elite is finally being called onto the cultural carpet. This past Tuesday, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post observed: “There has been so much political turmoil among Republicans that it is easy to lose sight of the intellectual disarray on the left.” PJM’s Ed Driscoll quoted The Daily Beast‘s Lloyd Grove speaking of modern liberals: ”…Think aesthetics as politics, and academic credentials as peerage. Think of a latter-day Americanized version of Downton Abbey—where everyone knows his or her place, and our betters look best.”
It is amazing to see how quickly the liberal/socialist/Marxist wing of the political spectrum has imploded. Only one generation ago they donned tie-dye and preached “Damn The Man.” Today, their Gen-X children (Barack and Michelle included) have embodied The Man to their own damnation and that of the middle class, the working poor, and all those for whom they claim to care so much (at least during election season).
Driscoll cited Grove’s observation that contemporary liberals are living
…a world away from job-craving America, and light years from the mid-twentieth century Democratic Party.
Indeed, this gap gives added credence to Professor Fred Siegel’s critique that “today’s liberal gentry see the untamed middle classes as the true enemy,” …It’s not that the Democrats don’t know that they have a problem with the non-government employee middle class, but it’s just that they really are not bothered by it. As the New York Times framed the issue, “many in the party pay so little attention to white working-class men that it suggests they have effectively given up on converting them.”
An event that went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media in 2012 perked up the ears of the Obama administration when it sparked a movement that ignited the hearts of 40,000 young evangelicals. Today the “End It” movement, fueled by a new generation of social conservatives, could impact the culture in ways their elders only dreamed.
Louie Giglio, a pastor in Atlanta, is the founder of the annual Passion Conference that launched “End It.” The young people behind the movement are a new brand of abolitionist. They don’t need to stand on a Bible to raise awareness that slavery is wicked. Nor do they have to convince the general public that kidnapping young girls and selling them into the sex trade is wrong. This is an opportunity for the church to shed a light into the darkest corners of the earth in a way that impacts lives.
“End It,” along with a coalition of 12 other non-profits like LOVE146, are raising awareness, and the money needed to do something about it–like wading through the darkest cavities of human depravity to rescue these girls. Reaching those lost without hope is a chance to bring everyone to the table and put right vs. left aside. That is, if both sides truly care about real justice.
However, that’s not always the case.
From a recent article over at BuzzFeed titled, ”A New Mission for the Religious Right“:
“The event received only marginal press coverage, but the White House took notice. A few weeks later, senior Obama adviser David Plouffe sat down in the White House with Joshua Dubois and Michael Wear, the president’s ambassadors to America’s believers. Plouffe had seen data that suggested young Evangelical voters were up for grabs in the upcoming election, and he wanted to know how the president could appeal to that demographic, according to someone with direct knowledge of the meeting. They discussed a range of tactics, and at the end of the meeting Plouffe asked which single issue could make the biggest difference in courting young Christians.
“Human trafficking,” Wear responded.”
Bethany Mandel’s article on the irony of permitted homophobia in the African-American rap community rightly highlighted the Left’s patronizing racism towards both African and Hispanic Americans. She smartly pointed out pop culture’s double standard when it comes to reacting to anti-gay statements from Christian whites versus blacks or Hispanics. But the argument needs to be pushed further, lest we fall into the Progressive Left’s divisive Minority trap.
The underlying racism of the Progressive Left is the kind of upper-class willful ignorance rooted in eugenic supremacist theory that’s currently being swept under the rug of “progressivism,” a fanciful term for 21st century Marxism. No one could possibly believe that the same people who promote marriage equality, affirmative action, and amnesty are subconsciously racist. Unless, of course, they looked at the philosophy underlying those seemingly righteous political beliefs.
One need look no further than the Grammys for proof. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, white boys with bad rapping skills being lathered up with awards by an audience righteously congratulating themselves for marrying gays on stage to the tune of Same Love. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the white messiahs saving rap from its inherent anti-gay nature with cornball lyrics referring to his beloved genre as “a culture founded from oppression.” What next? Rapping about the ironies of 40 acres and a mule with a prop carpetbag?
1. Imagine a country today where more than one third of the men admit to rape….
Researchers found that more than three in four men said they had perpetrated violence against women.
Nearly nine in 10 men believe that a woman should obey her husband – and almost six in 10 women also agreed with the statement.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world. Last year a survey by the Medical Research Council (MRC) found that 28% of men in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces said they had raped a woman or girl.
A new MRC study in Gauteng, the country’s wealthiest province, found that 37.4% of men admitted having committed a rape, while 25.3% of women said they had been raped.
2. Imagine a world today that celebrates when this country’s most famous leader dies at the age of 95, and the president equates him with Abraham Lincoln and America’s founding fathers….
“Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement, a movement that at its start had little prospect for success,” Obama said. “Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice.”
Obama commented that Mandela was imprisoned from the time John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were the leaders of the United States and Soviet Union until the end of the Cold War.
“Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would—like Abraham Lincoln—hold his country together when it threatened to break apart,” Obama said. “And like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations—a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.”
3. Imagine that the movement founded by William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan is somehow today led by men like Newt Gingrich who sing the same adulations, putting South Africa’s leader at the same level with George Washington:
“Everybody says they love freedom,” said an incredulous Gingrich, comparing Mandela to America’s founding fathers during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
He said the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary deserved acclaim from “everybody who is proud of the farmers at Lexington and Concord who stood up to the British army, everybody who is grateful to George Washington for eight years in the field fighting the British Empire.”
After Mandela died Thursday, Gingrich posted a statement that lauded him as “one of the greatest leaders of our lifetime.”
The death of Nelson Mandela has been the occasion for a great deal of self-righteous preening. Barack Obama cribbed from Edwin M. Stanton in his statement, declaring that Mandela “belongs to the ages,” but CNN helpfully recalled more original words from Obama about Mandela from 2010, in which he laid claim to the great man’s mantle:
Through his choices, Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is — that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be….In the most modest of ways, I was one of those people who tried to answer his call.
The tributes to Mandela all sounded similar themes: he fought oppression and injustice and prevailed, transforming South Africa and the world. But Obama’s was by no means the only accolade to contain a self-congratulatory note. Numerous leftists and Islamic supremacists hurried to remind the world that Mandela was once branded a “terrorist,” implying that modern-day terrorists would one day be hailed as new additions to the pantheon of secular saints. Al Jazeera’s Wajahat Ali tweeted:
Let’s never forget #Mandela’s courage once made him despised & feared. The long road to icon-hood is paved w/ persecution & sacrifice.
Yet these modern-day mini-Mandelas, however they may style themselves as champions of the downtrodden and oppressed, laboring mightily against the contemporary incarnations of the architects of apartheid, have a curious blind spot. Mandela fought against an unjust system built upon racial prejudice. His struggle is easy enough to support from twenty-first century armchairs, when the oppressive system is long dead and no one in his right mind would support it or call for its revival. But oppression and injustice are by no means dead on the African continent – they’re just coming from a different source.
Newsbusters does some of the best work online in finding objectionable examples of media bias. This exchange from a radio interview Kanye West gave last week is an important discovery for those wanting to understand one of the most popular entertainers today:
KANYE WEST: We don’t got it like that. When I tell you only seven black billionaires, look at marginalization, and we feel like we happy because me and Rick Ross got it made, or I got a spread outside, a couple of us, or they put a black president.
Man, let me tell you something about George Bush and oil money and Obama and no money. People want to say Obama can’t make these moves or he’s not executing. That’s because he ain’t got those connections. Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people. Black people don’t have the same connection as oil people.
You know we don’t know nobody that got a nice house. You know we don’t know nobody with paper like that we can go to when we down. You know they can just put us back or put us in a corporation. You know we ain’t in situation. Can you guarantee that your daughter can get a job at this radio station? But if you own this radio station, you could guarantee that. That’s what I’m talking about.
Given that Newsbusters is such a great resource and there are some wonderful people working there, it breaks my heart when they fall prey to my primary grievance with movement conservatism today: an inability to recognize antisemitism, call it by name, and make fighting it a primary priority.
After highlighting this exchange, what is Newsbusters’ associate editor Noel Sheppard’s response? To rebut the charges about Obama’s money connections, point out that George W. Bush’ net worth is a third of West’s and crack a joke at the end.
Perhaps there is another, more important point to emphasize?
In the 1998 survey, blacks (34%) are nearly four times as likely as whites (9%) to fall into the most anti-Semitic category.
Among those blacks without any college education, 43% fall into the most anti-Semitic group. This number drops to 27% among African-Americans with some college experience, and stands at 18% among blacks with a four-year college degree.
The abuse of language has got to stop. …We cannot condemn as bigotry everything that we don’t agree with. Words like bigotry have to go. …That’s what you do. You destroy meanings, you anesthetize people, and you turn people off. You turn the mind off. You kill the brain. We cannot have this. We cannot have this abuse of language going on.
Sarah Milstein knows a thing or two about abuse of language. Just check out her advice to fellow white women at the Huffington Post on how to confront their inner-racist:
2. If you feel defensive when talking about race with a woman of color or reading about race in a piece written by a woman of color, assume the other person is saying something especially true. That is: use your defensiveness as a Bat Signal, alerting you to your own biases. Sure, yes, of course, the other person may have said something insensitive or unreasonable. But if you want to change the dynamics of the world (reminder: you’re a feminist, so you do), assume your discomfort is telling you something about you, not about the other person.
3. Look for ways that you are racist, rather than ways to prove you’re not.
4. Listen to people of color, even if you don’t know many. …You can also do a ton of thoughtful listening on Twitter — a medium that gives you legitimate access to the thoughts and conversations of people you may not know.
No, Ms. Milstein doesn’t write for Saturday Night Live, although her advice does play like a really bad joke penned by a socially insulated upper middle class white woman. One who probably spends her weekends trolling Hell’s Kitchen with her yuppie boyfriend going, “Look, honey, The Other – aren’t we so racially cool?!” before heading back to Williamsburg for some sustainable vegan yoga.
For every liberal feminist who hates Paglia, there’s a moronic Milstein out there proving her right. There is real racism within feminism and every other -ism that values a human being in terms of minority/majority status. However, instead of focusing on this inherent ideological discrimination, the lingo fascists of feminism have grossly abused language to suit their own politically correct agenda. In doing so, they trivialize the historic connection between modern feminism and eugenic racism, replacing it with a pastiche of ignorant expressions of pseudo-guilt. If feminism truly sought to confront racism within its ranks, they’d start by confronting the racist reality of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.
Martin Bashir, a soldier in the left’s War on Women, dropped a stink bomb on Sarah Palin at the end of his show on Friday. Bashir took Palin Derangement Syndrome to a new level of hysteria this week when he viciously attacked her for a comment she made at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition event last weekend.
During his “Clear the Air” segment, Bashir called Palin America’s “resident dunce,” accusing her of “scraping the barrel of her long-deceased mind, and using her all-time favorite analogy in an attempt to sound intelligent about the national debt.” Calling Palin a “world class idiot” Bashir went further, saying she deserved the same punishment as slaves — specifically, that someone should defecate and urinate in her mouth. Claiming she would be an “outstanding candidate” for such torture, the misogynistic Bashir said Palin is “qualified for a dose of discipline.”
Bashir described the diary of a Jamaican plantation overseer named Thomas Thistlewood, who tortured and brutalized the slaves in his care. “What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime,” Bashir said. “In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’”
“This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity.”
See the previous installments in this ongoing discussion about American values, Left vs. Right, Biblical morality, and New Media activism:
By Michael Lumish on October 13: Politics Vs Theology: Beginning A Debate With David Swindle. “Why we should not frame political issues as a matter of Good versus Evil.”
By David Swindle on October 20: Secular Political Ideology Vs. Biblical Moral Values: Continuing a Debate with Michael Lumish. “Why I don’t care much about Left vs. Right anymore. And four more points of disagreement.”
By Michael Lumish on October 27: Debating America’s Ideological Origins: Part III in Lumish Vs Swindle. “A disagreement about the founding fathers and classical liberalism.”
By David Swindle on November 3: What To Do When Progressives and Conservatives Can’t Communicate: Part IV of Lumish Vs Swindle. ”Set the straw men on fire.”
By Michael Lumish today, November 10: Why I am Disgusted and Horrified. “We have a President who embraces the Muslim Brotherhood. Part V in Lumish Vs Swindle.”
This dialogue appears to be moving in an unexpected but very welcome direction: you recognizing the errors of your positions and coming to adopt mine instead. Here you agree with me that we need to speak more broadly beyond just our own cultural communities:
My intention, you should know, was never to speak strictly to Jewish people and I very much regret giving you that impression.
And in your encouraging conclusion you state clearly your opposition to both the party and ideology to which you’ve dedicated your life:
What I want, and I hope that you will help me, is simply to alert other American liberals that we need not be enslaved to the Democratic Party and the Progressive-Left movement and that if we wish to promote social justice then we must oppose political Islam.
Where you don’t seem to go far enough yet is in acknowledging what “social justice” actually is and from where it emerged. Among the reasons why you’re so doomed in your efforts to push so-called liberals and activist Democrats to fight for “social justice” in the Muslim world is that the value you are trumpeting is not essential to either ideology or party. “Social justice” is a Jewish concept — tikkun olam, which translated from Hebrew means “to heal the world.” This is not an inherently political idea and its perversion and secularization is mostly a recent development. One can — and should — pursue the biblical concept of healing the world apart from political engagement.
But our political activism can still be motivated by our religious values and we can still use a party to do God’s work. I explained how in the previous installments of this dialogue. I believe the most important thing God wants us to do on this earth is what he called Moses to do — liberate enslaved people. And that’s been the Republican Party’s charge since its founding. Politics is just a means to an end. The ballot box is a hammer to smash chains. My favorite all-American motto, again, and its biblical depiction:
When I began researching pimp/prostitute culture in feminism I had no idea the white feminists would be trying so hard to be the pimps. To understand the race war inherent in modern feminism, look no further than the battle over Beyonce. The music icon’s self-proclaimed feminist identity has been intensely scrutinized by white feminists questioning everything from her costume choices and dance moves to the title of her latest tour, “The Mrs. Carter Show.” Comparing the feminist criticism of Beyonce with the feminist praise of Lena Dunham, Lily Bolourian rightly concludes:
“Beyoncé is a legend and Dunham a “voice of a generation,” yet Beyoncé’s sexuality is deemed as unacceptable or overbearing. Dunham’s sexuality, on the other hand, is accepted and praised. Why the distinction? Dunham has been seen naked often and even in sexual positions in much of her work. Beyoncé wears clothes that show off her legs and bust, along with half of the populace, but still she has never been seen fully naked. I’m still waiting for an explanation on how this makes her the Anti-Feminist.”
In commenting on the Beyonce contradiction, black feminists highlight the long history of grotesque stereotypes surrounding black female sexuality, stereotypes they feel have a continued impact today on the way white critics, feminists included, receive expressions of black female sexuality in pop culture. Perhaps the most insightful critique regarding the white interaction with black female sexuality is in the African American reaction to Miley Cyrus’s infamous VMA performance. While most critiques focused on Cyrus’s offensive twerking, Jacqui Germain at Racialicious took even deeper offense to “the black woman Cyrus smacked on the bottom during her VMAs performance and then casually dismissed—quite literally reduced to a faceless, body-less prop.” For Germain, black feminists “are fighting to remove the hyper-sexual assumption” from their bodies. A hyper-sexual assumption that pays off big, at least where the skinny white chick is concerned.
Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast commemorating Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael, was Tuesday. Muslims frequently give special gifts (eidi) to those they love on such festive days, but in Muhammad Aslam’s home in Faisalabad, the great day came and went and Aslam had no eidi for his wife. In fact, she recounted later, he ignored her completely for the rest of the week. But that turned out to be the least of her troubles.
The following Friday, Aslam’s wife had made plans to go shopping with some of her friends, women from the area. She accordingly approached Aslam and made bold to ask him for eidi of 5,000 Pakistani rupees – that is, $47.13.
She didn’t get it. Instead, Aslam jumped up, seized her by the hair, and began beating her. Not content with the damage he could do alone, he called his brother, Muhammad Akram (no explanation is given in the Pakistani news item for the brothers’ identical forenames and different surnames). Akram, says the news report, “caught her by the arms while Aslam threw kerosene oil at her. They then set fire to her clothes.”
The poor woman is now in critical condition, with severe burns over 55 percent of her body. Pakistani police are hunting for Akram and Aslam, who fled the scene. But even if they are caught, the underlying problem will remain: Muhammad Aslam’s wife was the victim of entrenched and religiously sanctioned culture of violence against women, which still remains, and will victimize many, many more women.
Ann Coulter is brilliant because she possesses the unique ability to eviscerate hypocrites with thorough research and quick wit. Her brilliance is further proven by the fact that the most her detractors (notably the ones commenting on my review of her latest book) can ever do is criticize her appearance — after all, why not make grossly sexist remarks about someone you just don’t like when they happen to be a woman? Needless to say, it was quite a challenge to cull my top 5 favorite columns from Never Trust a Liberal Over 3, Especially a Republican. Somehow I managed to rise to the challenge — albeit with a few notable runner-ups for good measure.
5. America Nears El Tipping Pointo (December 5, 2012)
Runner-ups: Romney Doing the Job Republican Establishment Just Won’t Do and If the GOP Is This Stupid, It Deserves to Die
In this keen look at voter statistics, Ann reveals that Romney won the majority of the vote among 18-29 year olds … who are white. “Even the Lena Dunham demographic — white women under thirty — favored Romney,” she quips. At this point, liberals would be reeling with accusations of racism and Romney’s obvious membership in the KKK. However, those bold enough to read on will not only receive a valuable comparison of voter stats from Reagan to Romney, they’ll also learn something their public education failed to teach them: the practical fiscal and electoral impact of Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act.
One of the many articles that highlight the patronizing racism of liberals, “El Tipping Pointo” details the difference between honest and manipulative immigration over the course of the last 40 years. Drawing a sharp comparison between America as “the land of opportunity” and the land of “the soulless rich who want cheap labor,” Ann illustrates exactly how liberal pundits and elite Republicans take advantage of “phony ‘family reunification’ rules” to bloat the welfare system and liberal voting rolls while presenting a stereotypical image of hardworking Hispanics (versus the “recent Hispanic immigrants who …are the poorest of the world’s poor”) to gain public support for policies that bankrupt America and keep real change from ever happening in D.C.
This is my response — part 2 — of a debate with my friend Mike Lumish about political ideology, the Left-Right contest, Biblical values, and the battle of Good vs Evil. Read his thoughtful Part I here.
I’d like to thank you so much for accepting my challenge for us to engage on these issues in a public forum. You’re someone whose work I continue to appreciate and who has earned my respect even though we hold some strong disagreements.
That’s the realization I came to after reading your opening to this debate. It turns out that our differences are much deeper than I initially anticipated. This is all the better — hopefully by the end of our discussion we’ll have both moved closer to at, the very least, perhaps not agreeing but understanding each other better.
I think we have five substantive disagreements in my critique of your writer/blogger/activist approach. I’m going to frame each as a question, quote you, summarize our disagreement, and then explain my position.
1. Whom should pro-Israel and counter-Jihad activists try to reach?
Quoting now from your response, as each block quote will be:
I am a member of that list despite the fact that I am not a political conservative.
Not long ago David offered his criticism of my concerns. In a nutshell, David took me to task for encouraging my fellow liberals to understand that the rise of political Islam is dangerous to women and to gay people and to Jewish people and to all non-Muslims throughout the Middle East, if not the Islamic world, more generally.
[DS: the following is a quotation of me of from our listserv debate. By "old family" I mean the family I grew up in who do not share my politics but who still love and support me. My new family is the one I'm in now -- and my wife and our Siberian Husky Maura are too independent-minded to align with any political ideology.]
“It would be as if I decided that my primary goal in life was just to convert the postmodern secularist progressive pop culture polytheists of my friends and old family into conservatives.”
Just why he makes this strange claim is beyond me.
My critique of you first began as a tactical one: you have stated that your primary mission as an activist in life is to bring the messages of counter-Jihad and pro-Israel policies to your fellow liberal and progressive Jews.
Our disagreement: I believe it’s important to try and reach all human beings across the planet with the broad spectrum of arguments and ideas commonly understood as center-right, conservative-libertarian, Tea Party, classical liberal, the American/British Enlightenment, and especially Judeo-Christian and Biblical. With my new media activism I hope to influence 100% of the population, and not just the United States. According to US Demographics, in 2007 Jews made up 1.7% of the population. The percentage you are targeting — those who are politically engaged and progressive — couldn’t make up more than a fourth or a third of that.
I guess my initial critique of you was somewhat inaccurate. I thought that by now, after all these years of Obama you would have finally moved out of the hybrid, trying-to-pick-and-choose-what-you-want-from-both-sides position. I’m too familiar with this ideological middle ground, as I passed through it too. So you can better understand why I have grown disillusioned with framing activism in secular ideological terms (Left vs Right) I’ll describe my journey across the political spectrum over the last decade, which in some ways is similar to others who have shifted.
- Start leftist/progressive (generally disillusioned with the Democratic Party or sitting at the Al Sharpton/Dennis Kucinich children’s table while the quasi-grown ups run the party) and naively believing some combination of: a belief in socialim, government regulation, dovish foreign policy, the United Nations, and above all else, the malevolence of conservatives who are the primary enemy of all progress and whose ideas are responsible for both unnecessary casualties of war all over the world and the health-related deaths of hard-working Americans who can’t afford health insurance because of greedy corporations. We should primarily stop terrorism by just extending an olive branch to the Muslim world and admitting our century’s worth of American, capitalist, globalist imperialism. And we should stop supporting Israel since they’re the ones most responsible for all the problems in the Middle East since they’re just too extreme with the Palestinians. And single-payer healthcare is the Holy Grail. I had a position comparable to this from 2003, freshman year of college, through about the end of 2007. Before going to college my political views were poorly defined and just the general, squishy baby boomer Clintonian liberalism of my parents.
- Gradually drift to the nebulous territory between progressive “liberal” and centrist “liberal” who is at least sane enough to try and implement their goals through the Democratic Party. (I always put the term in quotes when used in this context because I regard it as having been hijacked in order to deceive do-gooders.) Here one recognizes that full-blown socialism couldn’t work in America and that we really do have to fight terrorists but that we have to do it better than the nuts on the Right who are “racist against Muslims.” The difference between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the more centrist, Third Way, New Democrats of the 1990s has largely disappeared now. But it still existed some back in 2008 when I attached the “centrist liberal” label. I swam in these ideological seas and ended up voting for Obama because A) Andrew Sullivan convinced me he was a genuine centrist compromiser who was boing to end the baby boomer culture war, and B) I thought Sarah Palin was an idiot and “Christianist” radical who was just picked solely because she was an attractive woman. Mike, if you’re still calling yourself a progressive it sounds like you’re in territory similar to this.
- To the naive No Labels centrists (David Frum) — those still resisting becoming conservatives and instead pursuing a utopian solution of ending political conflicts through checking the “extremists” supposedly on both sides who they ignorantly believe are morally equivalent. They especially delight in attacking Tea Partiers and all variety of “extremist” conservatives more than their Marxist Nation editor friends who praise their work. I wobbled around in this territory during 2009 (the year I started editing full time), stumbling out into the next category by the beginning of 2010. Slightly to the Right of this contingent is the wimpy Right that wants progressive friendship and approval (Joe Scarborough, David Brooks, John McCain above all others), and basically anyone that had anything substantive to do with the Bush administration and is still defending its entire agenda.
- A Libertarian-conservative Tea Partier – Usually Tea Party/libertarian in economics and hawkish and pro-Israel, but still a “social liberal” indifferent to abortion, largely secular, and not really caring how coarsened mainstream culture has become. I was inspired into a Tea Party position — as many Americans were — by the horrific push for Obamacare. I was here for about 20 months and still retain Tea Party sympathies.
- Finally onto Reaganite conservative policies across the board, including social conservatism, which usually coincides with a conversion to serious Judaism, Christianity, or in my oddball case what I’ve described as Judeo-Christian Hermeticism. With the job switch to PJM in Fall 2011 came the opportunity to hit the reset button on how I organized my life. The realization came that I needed to return to a more diligent religious practice to be better equipped in the future when there were other life challenges like necessary job changes. See my piece in response to Walter Hudson, expressing my disagreement with Evangelical Christian theology and explaining the difference between individual Bible-based theologies, and universal Judeo-Christian values that can — and should — be embraced by peoples of all faiths. As I’ve returned to religious life, gradually much of my social “liberalism” has collapsed further. I’m pro-life and support the overturn of Roe v. Wade, not that I expect that alone to make much of a difference in the number of abortions that take place each year. This is more of a cultural battle to confront the truth about how unplanned pregnancies actually happen and the myriad of better options than abortion. But the most major shift that happened to me personally as my views changed is what David P. Goldman explains in the macro-context in How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too). People who do not believe in God do not reproduce. What’s the point? The birthrates remain highest among seriously Jewish and Christian communities. Thus I’ve finally come to know for certain that I need to be a father someday and I must raise as many children as possible. It may be a dozen years or more before The Wife and I are ready but how long isn’t important — children being biologically ours is not a priority. So the war between Left and Right, Secular and Believer is thus much deeper than just economic and foreign policies. It goes to the structure and purpose of the family. (See James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0 to see the evidence that the nuclear family is the central engine that powered the triumph of the United States.) The cultural conflicts are between two different sets of morals. One that values creating nurturing families of strong individuals. The other that believes that “it takes a village.” (When Hillary said that it takes a village was she also talking about the number of other women she would permit her husband to enjoy in what’s really starting to become clear to everyone as an open marriage?) To secular liberals and even many libertarians these issues of values and character are irrelevant. (And even to so-called conservatives too who supported Newt Gingrich.) So what if the first family and the most influential couple in the Democratic Party are just in a career marriage? As long as they’re “doing their job” then their personal lives are their own. No. Are you going to be OK if that’s your daughter that Bill or Hillary picks as their next plaything?
So yes, bottom line: it doesn’t have to take long to make these various shifts. It just depends on what experiences one has, how certain political and cultural stories impact you, and which thinkers and books cross your path that inspire you to see the world in whole new ways. But I wrote an article last summer explaining why we can’t really provoke people to shift from one category to another. Trying to convert people from one stage to another is just impractical on so many levels: 7 Reasons Why The Right Should Not Seek to Convert The Left. The first item on that list basically summarizes my position: “7. There are More Than Enough Apolitical People Out There Whose Minds Remain Unconquered by the Left.”
So Mike, while I remain mystified that you still regard yourself as in any way progressive/”liberal,” we’ll address this in more substance in a moment in the context of your other arguments. There are still a number of steps along the journey that you have yet to confront. And I hope you do, though perhaps you won’t. Often times whether we do or not is largely outside our hands. Life has to give us each a kick in the ass to wake up and do the right thing.
While my quarrel with you now that I understand your position better is slightly different, the meat of it is still the same. I remain passionately engaged in Counter-Jihad and Pro-Israel new media activism — more so than when we first crossed paths in 2010. Earlier this month I argued that Robert Spencer-style Counter-Jihad should form the basis of the next evolution into a Conservatism 3.0 that overcomes the errors of the naive corporatist baby-boomer professional conservatives.
But if I sought only to try to persuade those who came from the secular, culture-obsessed “liberal” ideology as me then I would be dramatically limiting the amount of potential readers I had to just one small slice of progressives. I don’t think you got this point:
The fact of the matter is that the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East is of the foremost geo-political significance since the demise of the Soviet Union. The rise of the Brotherhood and political Islam, despite Morsi’s defeat in Egypt, is something that we must discuss and address and oppose. Much of my writings center upon the fact that my fellow liberals absolutely refuse to even discuss this issue and it is an issue that is greatly in need of discussion.
David suggests that, in contrast to my work, his “writing and editing activism is aimed at EVERYONE, not just one small group.”
I fail to see how the progressive-left, as a political movement, represents “one small group.” It doesn’t. David is a good man, but he is simply wrong. The progressive-left is a huge political movement that dominates politics and political discourse throughout Europe and the United States and I, in fact, am a member of that political inclination.
I suppose if you decided to focus on ALL progressives and leftists, that would be somewhat of an improvement over what you’re doing now, though for the 7 reasons listed in that previous piece, I wouldn’t condone it. My point was that you direct your activism at members of the group that you previously identified with, a smaller, particular niche of the Left — center-Left Jews. How many people are there actually in the country who identify that way? Sure, the Democratic Party and so-called “liberalism” are more dominant among many people who identify as Jewish. But that doesn’t mean that most of such Jews really care about either their politics or their religion all that much.
The activist core of engaged progressive/left Jews who you seek to reach with your writings are actually small in number — just as, in the sentence you quoted, I emphasized that me choosing to exclusively focus on the postmodern, pop culture-obsessed community I came out of would similarly be a waste of time, if only on the numbers alone. To build a large enough political/cultural coalition to actually elect effective leaders to make things happen in the real world we have to reach out much more broadly than just our own neighborhoods.
The girl’s Muslim parents forced her into the marriage when she was fourteen. Her mother tried to put a good face on a bad situation, enticing the girl with a picture of marriage as a never-ending party: her husband, she said, would treat the girl to ice cream and lollipops and take her to movies and amusement parks. Reality turned out to be a bit different: her husband imprisoned her inside their home and forced her to watch violent videos featuring jihad attacks against soldiers from Western countries. He also raped her and beat her frequently.
The girl went to her father for help. But her father, as she recounted later, was completely unsympathetic, telling her: “So what if he raped you? So what if he bashed you? The only way you can come back to me is in a coffin.”
This didn’t happen in Pakistan, or Egypt, or Indonesia. This girl suffered in comfortable suburban Australia, where Western society failed her as thoroughly as did Islamic society: she went to a teacher and explained what was happening, but despite laws requiring teachers to report such incidents, nothing was done.
Perhaps the teacher was afraid that if she reported the girl’s husband, she’d be accused of “bigotry” and “hate.” The forces promoting multiculturalism are as strong and deeply entrenched in Australia as they are in Europe and the United States. But inevitably, the multiculturalist acceptance of all things Islamic and stigmatization of any and all opposition to Islamic law as “racist” and “bigoted” are going to come into conflict with core Western principles of human rights and human dignity. This Muslim teenager’s teacher apparently accepted child marriage and spousal abuse as the price of eschewing “Islamophobia.”
Last week I wrote that Western countries were soon “going to have to make a choice as to whether they’re going to affirm the human dignity of women and maintain the illegality of polygamy, or whether they’re going to allow them to become mere possessions and playthings, denizens of de facto harems.” The same choice is coming regarding child marriage. Australian society, along with European and American society as well, is before too long going to have to choose between protecting the rights of women and thus fighting against child marriage, or allowing it in the interests of marching together with Sharia adherents into the brave new multicultural future.
This is Week 1 of Season 3 in my new 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading Series. Every week day I try to blog about compelling writers, their ideas, and how to use them to better understand the news cycle’s most interesting headlines.
It will take several posts to explain why I nominate Ion Mihai Pacepa’s and Professor Ronald Rychlak’s Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Attacking Religion, Undermining Freedom, and Promoting Terrorism as a substantial book for the fight to win the cultural and political battles of the coming decades. It’s a manual for learning how to recognize Soviet Disinformation in both history and today’s media. I enthusiastically agree with former CIA director R. James Woolsey’s introduction:
This remarkable book will change the way you look at intelligence, foreign affairs, the press, and much else besides. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking defector we have ever had from a hostile intelligence service. As chief of Romanian intelligence he was for many years in the key meetings with heads of state and a participant in some of the most sensitive discussions by our enemies during the Cold War.
The insights of the book can provide key corrections to the previous generation’s conservatism, and have some major implications for what I described earlier this week as Conservatism 3.0–the movement’s evolution over the next 20 years to both defeat our Jihadist enemies and undo FDR’s New Deal Nightmare.
I think conservatives of the previous decades fighting the Cold War misdiagnosed the nature of the Soviet Union. Pacepa and Rychlak convincingly argue that with the death of Stalin and the rise of Khruschev, Marxism was no longer really what animated the USSR’s leaders. Khruschev was not an intellectual or a Marxist true believer. He was a thug who only really cared about his own power. The USSR was communist, but more important it was criminal and committed to global mayhem on a mass scale. And the actor and driver of these crimes was the KGB.
Pacepa and Rychlak argue that Soviet crime was concealed through massively financed disinformation campaigns to transform the image of both great men like Pope Pius XII — described by Winston Churchill in 1944 as “the greatest man of our time”– and evil men like the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Disinformation was primarily image-based and targeted at those who are the least educated and literate — antisemitic cartoons depicting images of Jewish conspirators was a favorite technique in the Middle East, as it remains today. This picture-based worldview opposes what the Jewish tradition teaches, Western Civilization’s method for sorting truth from falsehood, good from evil. Among the foundational stories of the Torah is Jacob wrestling with the angel, afterwards earning the name Israel.
This archetype of man trying to reach upward, continually challenging himself, doubting, and questioning doesn’t just apply to God. As media theorist Douglas Rushkoff demonstrates in Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism It becomes an all-encompassing approach to life. In the study and endless debate of the Torah — the beginning of book-based religion — the children of Israel learn how to wrestle with a world dead set against their continued existence. In Rabbi Joseph P. Soloveitchik’s The Lonely Man of Faith this shifting between ideas is explained further as deriving from the fact that there are two creation narratives at the beginning of Genesis, each positioning man in a different kind of relationship to God. Soloveitchik argues that it’s in understanding and shifting between these two orientations that man transforms in according with God’s plan.
Thus KGB disinformation has limited utility for the non-image based, the book people who know how to dig deeper than the surface to find Truth. Those who only see the KGB-developed propaganda play The Deputy may come to believe Pope Pius was a pro-Nazi antisemite who ignored the Holocaust. And those inundated with images of dictators as sophisticated and cultured may buy into them. They don’t know how to read! Well, maybe these images will help.
There’s a reason why KGB head Yuri Andropov called his enemies “American Zionists.” We are book-based, word-based, law-based and thus an individual-empowering people — or at least we once were…
This understanding of antisemitic, image-worshipping criminals Vs a Bible-based, literate people is more accurate and bigger than the proxy ideological wars that so many people have dedicated their lives to perpetuating for fun, glory, and profit. Left vs Right, Liberals vs Conservatives, Democrats vs Republicans, Secular radicals vs Fundamentalist believer radicals — these baby boomer-dominated paradigms are oblivious to how the KGB has been a behind-the-scenes arsonist the whole time pouring gasoline to stoke hate all over the world. The Soviets didn’t need to defeat us militarily, they duped us into fighting each other. And our real enemies maintained power. The Soviet Union is no more but what difference does it make when KGB thug-billionaire Vladimir Putin is running a state that still murders and oppresses? (Yes, something Pacepa highlights that many people don’t know: Putin is the wealthiest man in Europe — he’s got $40 billion dollars. Is he the wealthiest murderer in the world?)
As I write more about Pacepa and Rychlak’s book (and its accompanying documentary) there will be more revelations realigning thinking so we can win the wars for America 3.0. And for more titles next in line for this series check out my shelves of recommendations at the new Freedom Academy Book Club.
PJ Media Story Round Up, Wednesday-Friday
Lead PJM Stories
Rodrigo Sermeño: Can Entitlement Reform Squeeze Its Way into the Grand Bargain?
Tom Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr: Decision-Based Evidence-Making: More Disgrace From UN Panel on Climate Change
Charlie Martin: Why the Newspaper Business Is Doomed
As a business, newspapers do one thing: they sell advertising. All the content in the newspaper that isn’t advertising is just there because, the company hopes, it will attract people who will then see the advertising. All of the journalism-school preening about how Journalism Is A Profession is a self-important fantasy. So if we want to understand what’s happening to newspapers, it’s the advertising business we want to understand.
The tradeoff for newspapers, though, was that it actually cost a lot of money to print each paper — both a big fixed cost for the presses, and a pretty significant cost. Working very roughly from the New York Times 10K statement , we see they print on average a little more than a million copies a day, so 365 million copies a year at a total operating cost of about $2.1 billion. Which is about $5.75 a copy. The newsstand price is $2; per copy subscription price is much less. They need to bring in around $4 per copy per day in advertising if they hope to break even.
Of course, the Times has a lot of pages; according to a recent rate card, advertising in the “regional general” sections of the paper costs around $35,000 for a full page at the basic rate. With a million copies going out per day, that’s around 3.5 cents per copy for a full page ad. (Of course, there’s a discount for a big ad.)
And now we run into the traditional problem of advertising: as the saying goes, 90 percent of advertising is wasted. If you’re lucky, one person in ten sees your ad. Of those, only a few will respond to it, and of those only a few will actually buy something.
In junior high, high school and college I wrote and edited school newspapers. The blogosphere arrived as serious player when I was in college and with it internet comments and online debates. I recall suggesting the then-radical notion for the op/ed page columnists — of which I was among — start posting links to their sources in the online versions of their columns.
That’s one of the big transformations over print too — online if something in a story smells fishy you can check the links cited and quickly google to see if someone has already fisked the piece.
After graduating I wrote a few — very boring – freelance pieces for the Indianapolis Star but other than that it’s been all new media for 7 years.
Bridget Johnson: Lawmakers Strike at Obamacare’s Early Weaknesses
Patrick Richardson: Shutdown Follies: Guard and Reserve Families Hard Hit, Concerned About Readiness
Bridget Johnson: Pentagon Shake-up: Hagel’s No. 2 Hands in Resignation
Barry Rubin: If Libya’s U.S.-Backed Prime Minister Can Be Kidnapped, Why Should Anyone Trust America?
Roger L. Simon: ObamaCare: They Don’t Call ‘Em ‘The Stupid Party’ for Nothing
What would have been a winning strategy?
Well, here’s just one. Instead of voting not to fund ObamaCare or filibustering till the cows come home and closing everything down, don’t vote at all. Let the Democrats do all the new budget voting — CR, debt limit, etc. — in the House and the Senate.
Like the Barack Obama of old, the Republicans should just vote “present” — or simply not at all.
Let the Democrats own it all. Let them be entirely responsible for what happens between now and the 2014 election — ObamaCare, entitlements, deficit, the whole nine yards. The Republicans didn’t obstruct anything, didn’t close anything down or cost any government workers any jobs. They just didn’t approve it.
Trust me — the public will notice. And the Democrats, quite a number of them anyway, will be scared out of their wits.
Bryan Preston: Is the House About to Give In on Obamacare?
J. Christian Adams: Kirkland and Ellis Represents Shirley Sherrod Against Breitbart’s Widow … for Free
Absolutely horrific. This should make every decent person very angry. Disagree with a man’s politics? After he’s dead sue his wife and try and sabotage his children’s lives and their future education.
Claudia Rosett: Meanwhile, North Korea Fires Up Its Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor
Andrew C. McCarthy: Extortion—The Brotherhood’s M-O
Egypt is a long way from anything resembling a real democracy, a culture rooted in liberty, equality, and a respect for minority rights. But those currently governing Egypt have figured out that you cannot have both a real democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood. Would that those governing the United States could figure that out.
PJ Lifestyle Stories on the Home Page
John Boot: 4 Reasons Why Captain Phillips Is One of the Year’s Best Thrillers… and one reason why it’s leftist propaganda
1. When Phillips tries to suss out the motives behind the pirate attack, his captors tell him that it’s people like Phillips who forced them into armed robbery and extortion on the high seas.
One pirate explains that big commercial fishing operations have drained the seas near Somalia of all the fish, which frames the story as a kind of watery Occupy Wall Street. Should we be rooting for the pirates then? No. As Phillips explains, the ship is carrying, in addition to its commercial cargo, tons of aid for Africa.
The movie is just about perfect without this bit of Third World grandstanding, which appears to have been thrown in so thatCaptain Phillips can be positioned as not just a rousing yarn but as an Oscar-bait story of globalization’s unintended victims.
Here’s the Truth courtesy of Robert Spencer:
But while we praise their skill, let’s not lose sight of who Phillips’ captors were. His Somali pirate captors are Islamic jihadists, dedicated to the same goals as Osama bin Laden and other jihadists around the world.
In August 2008, when the pirates became especially active off the Horn of Africa, Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, declared that Al-Shabaab, a group of jihadists in Somalia, use piracy to fund their jihad: “According to our information, the money they make from piracy and ransoms goes to support al-Shabaab activities onshore.”
With ransoms for ships each bringing in at least $10,000 and some in multiple millions of dollars, and the pirates seizing ships at a furious rate (taking four in one forty-eight hour period last summer), piracy is a lucrative source of funding for the jihad. Journalist Stephen Brown noted in November 2008 that “security experts fear the ransom money the pirates are receiving will allow them to buy better equipment and weapons for larger operations.” And with astounding short-sightedness, European governments — with the notable exception of the French last week — have been paying these ransoms. In that light, the American refusal to do so, and the rescue of Phillips, is a welcome step in the right direction.
Becky Graebner: 11 Tips for Job-seeking Millennials
Stephen Kruiser, via The Tatler: Frum Rhymes with… You Get It
Sarah Hoyt: Bring Back an Appreciation of Nude Females
Kathy Shaidle: Canada’s ‘Gay Batman and Robin’ Freed from Egyptian Prison
Robert Spencer: Canada (and the U.S.) Welcome Polygamy
New at PJ Lifestyle
Stephen Green: Civil War Photographs, Colorized
Roger L. Simon: The Importance of Being Ibn
Being an apostate – someone who leaves a religion, ideology, political party, etc. – is rarely easy. You can lose friends and family, often a job. But for those who abjure Islam the problems are on a whole other level. You can lose your life. That is why Islamic apostates are some of the most courageous people on Earth.
One of the bravest of the brave whom I have met is a man who goes under the name “Ibn Warraq.” He is the author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, first published in 1995, that demonstrates how Islam is incompatible with “individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state.”
Warraq has just published a new book Sir Walter Scott’s Crusades and Other Fantasies, largely a collection of Internet essays previously published on Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and other sites. I highly recommend it. But be warned: Warraq is a true intellectual. These essays are serious and detailed, not the breezy stuff you’re used to reading online.
Coming to understand the Crusades better has been one of my preoccupations of late. I’ll be reading this one — and Warraq is a Counter-Jihad activist/writer/intellectual who I need to get caught up on.
Charlie Martin: Clown Car Web Design
Stephen Green: Paint Those Blues Away
Becky Graebner: The 8 Worst Commutes in the World
Builder Bob: How to Build a Picture Frame in 9 Easy Steps
This is the first in a series of pieces from Bob Jones, a man who’s been the hardware business for almost a decade and who I can report first hand is indeed very handy around the house (we were roommates for a year after college.)
Theodore Dalrymple: When Doctors Decide Your Disease Doesn’t Actually Exist
Richard Fernandez: The Death of the Phone Call
Rhonda Robinson:Recovering The Lost Art of Biblical Medicine
Barry Rubin: ‘The Evil that Men Do Is Remembered After Their Deaths, But the Good Is Often Buried with Them.’ – Shakespeare
New at PJ Tatler
Matt Vespa: So, Is Default A Paper Tiger?
Nevertheless, we do have government workers heavily sampled, by more than twice the actual percentage of Americans who work for the government. Then let’s factor in the poll’s partisan sample, which was 43-32 Democrat, the percent that admits voting for Obama, which was 44 versus just 35 for Romney, and this looks like a left-heavy sample.
If you’re of a mind that the president wants this shutdown, and has engineered this shutdown, to achieve the goal of killing the GOP ahead of the mid-terms to win himself total power for his last two years in office, that poll suggests strongly that he is winning. It also suggests that he feels no pressure now to make any deal at all, other than one that grants him the equivalent of full and unconditional surrender. It puts megatons of pressure on the Republicans to find some way out of the current fight so they can regroup and start another fight on more favorable ground. Ahead of today’s meeting, Obama’s position was that he would only negotiate once he’d gotten what he wanted. That position doesn’t seem to have changed after the meeting. Obama “didn’t say yes, and didn’t say no” to GOP proposals to end the standoff. He may be just letting them twist to see if another poll confirms the NBC/WSJ. If that doesn’t happen he’ll be back at the table to not negotiate while he actually caves; if that doesn’t happen, well, let’s all hold hands and sing while the default deadline comes and goes.
The dynamics of all this are disturbing for the long-term health of the nation. All the dust from this exasperating cycle of name-calling obscures a hard truth: Obama and the Democrats were elected by their voters to do certain things, and Ted Cruz, Mike Lee et all were elected by their voters to do the exact opposite things. I stand on the Cruz side of things. Obamacare is a job-killing menace, but beyond that, it forces the blue state worldview down the throats of us red-staters who voted Cruz in to stop him. We repeatedly vote against that world view where I live. But that doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot. Democrats live to impose themselves on others, all in the name of fairness! and justice! and brotherly love! and all that crap they don’t really believe in. If they did, they would just leave people who disagree with them alone, rather than aiming the IRS and the NPS et al at us to force us to do what they want.
Treasury Secretary Lew Refuses to Assure the Markets on Debt Ceiling; Punts Decision to the President
Jay Carney Knows When President Obama Knew About the Military Death Benefits Fiasco, But He Isn’t Telling
“When we were debating the healthcare bill three and a half years ago here, I had stood up and helped to demand, and we got in the House originally, the Stupak Amendment. The language we have on abortion clearly is very different from what the Stupak Amendment said. And today we see that not only do we have the funding of abortion, but we really want to focus on, especially today, is the lack of transparency,” he said at a press conference.
“One of the biggest issues I remember in the whole healthcare debate was Americans deserve to have a clear, transparent understanding of what insurance companies are providing for them in their healthcare plans. That was one of the biggest priorities all along in talking about healthcare reform, health insurance reform. But we wound up with Obamacare.”
15 Interesting Stories Around the Web This Week
At News Aggregators:
Washington Examiner: New Ann Coulter book rages at GOP with ‘change or die’ theme
While she is most noted for skewering liberals in her weekly columns and nine previous New York Times best sellers, “Never Trust” puts her on a path for a head-on collision with the establishment Republican Party and even a favored 2016 presidential candidate as she urges the GOP to purge itself of failed tactics, lazy consultants, and gripless potential candidates.
The fashionable pundit pummels the party for wooing untested politicians for president. “Why are any congressmen or businessmen showing up in our presidential primaries? They are never going to get the nomination,” she says.
The solution is a governor, just like four of the last six presidents. “I don’t care if it makes you feel good, conservatives: Do not ever, ever considering running a presidential candidate who has not been a senator or preferably a governor. No, not even our beloved Ben Carson. What are we concentrating on? That’s right: winning.”
“Without Obama on the ticket, it won’t be magic again. The only people fainting at Hillary’s speeches will be chubby gals from NOW,” writes Coulter.
Great. An anti-white racist and an anti-American antisemite want to tell the story of the civil rights hero whose legacy today they both work hard to destroy.
Is this the first caffeine overdose death ever?
Daily Mail: Boy, 15, kills himself after ‘facing expulsion and being put on sex offender registry’ for streaking prank at high school football game
I also saw this at the Daily Mail today:
Coach, 24, at elite boarding school jumps to his death from George Washington Bridge as police ‘investigated him for underage sex with a student’
This seems to be such a common story. One of my high school math teachers — a charismatic, friendly man in his late ’20s or early ’30s — shot himself the summer before my senior year for the same reason.
‘There are two kinds of people in the world; ones that brighten the room when they walk in and those that don’t,’ he said.
‘He was one that brightened the room when he walked in. That’s what I’ll always remember about Christian.’
His mother, Angela, thanked her son’s friends and said they could learn from his life, AL.com reported.
‘Remember to smile, don’t be afraid to do something goofy and remember the consequences of those actions, ask for help when you need it, ask for help if you think your friends need it if you don’t know what to do, be quirky, be happy, be smart,’ she said.
I’ve always enjoyed the revolutionary anarchist cult film Fight Club — even though I now recognize its ideology as destructive and a call to counter-Enlightenment primitivism. But I really do wonder how many people’s lives have been irreparably harmed or even lost in imitation of it.
Andrew Kirell: Fox’s Andrea Tantaros Suing Her Talk Radio Employer
Rush Limbaugh: Cruz and Lee Have Already Succeeded
I just saw a piece by Victor Davis Hanson that he published on his website. He normally writes at National Review Online, and maybe it’ll get posted there, probably so. But he makes the point that it’s Obama who’s looking incoherent, it’s Obama who’s looking small, it’s Obama who’s looking petty. And his point is that Obama will make a deal, sooner rather than later, if you just keep the pressure on. We’re in the process.
People would say I’m abandoning my post here at reality if I were to say something like we are winning. Maybe that’s not the case. But we’re at a place where we haven’t been in five years. We’re winning the public perception on Obamacare, but that’s not even a public perception battle. That’s reality. People are signing up and they’re finding it’s a disaster. People are finding out that none of what they were told about it is true. It isn’t cheaper. It isn’t easier. It isn’t anything that they were told.
The 26-year-old college student at the University of Michigan wrote she has been raped by this law. Twenty-six, and she found out she’s now not covered by her parents policy. It’s gonna take every disposable dollar she earns to pay for this. Every disposable dollar. That means… Well, what does that mean? That means no streaming video from iTunes or whatever disposable income is spent on these days by 26-year-olds. She made it clear.
She’s got two degrees, and she can’t get a job that’s longer than 32 hours a week because of Obamacare. The jobs that she has pay $8 to $10 an hour because of Obamacare. She’s got two degrees. She’s working in a gymnasium. Now, I don’t want to extrapolate and say this is happening all over the place, but it doesn’t have to be happening all over. It is going to at some point, as people sign up. In Hawaii, they had to shut down and reset.
Nobody signed up.
Nobody could figure out how to do it.
In California, they’re talking greatly about signing up 16,000 people. “Whoa, what a success rate: 16,000 people,” or some such thing. This economy is in the tank. It’s an absolute joke. There is no growth taking place. There’s nothing that’s anywhere reminiscent of a growing economy where careers are being created and opportunity is abundant. It isn’t. That’s reality. People are living it. They know it. They don’t have to be persuaded of any of that.
Left of Center News and Opinion Sources:
At the Atlantic:
The wife and I had an annual pass for Universal Studios Hollywood for a year. This sounds like a less advanced version of the 3-D King Kong experience on the Studio Tour — which never gets boring doing again.
At The Nation:
Oh what a surprise, the Marxists at the Nation, a publication that supported the Soviet Union for its entire existence, stand in support of Obama…
Right of Center News and Opinion Sources:
A longtime Democratic operative, Karen Finney, explained the Democrats’ intransigence on MSNBC to a delighted Joan Walsh (aka the most easily fooled person on TV) by comparing House Republicans to a teenager trying to borrow his mother’s car. “No, I’m not negotiating!” Mother says. “It’s MY CAR!”
This wasn’t a stupid slip of the tongue that other Democrats quickly rejected. Finney had used the exact same metaphor to a panel of highly agreeable MSNBC guests the day before. (MSNBC books no other kind of guest.)
The left thinks the government is their car and the people’s representatives are obstreperous teenagers trying to borrow the government. Which belongs to Democrats.
That’s not how the Constitution views the House of Representatives. To the contrary, the House is considered most reflective of the people’s will because its members are elected every two years.
As a matter of fact, the Republicans who mistakenly assume they have something to do with running the government represent most of the people who pay taxes to run it. So it’s more like a teenager who is making the car payments, maintaining the car insurance and taking responsibility for registering the car being told: “It’s not your car.”
Steven Pagones: EXCLUSIVE OPINION: Man Falsely Accused of Rape by Sharpton: Advertisers Must Drop Support -”How can any type of commercial advertiser be comfortable with having Al Sharpton as a spokesperson?”
I remember very clearly the day I was first accused of being involved in the kidnaping and rape of Tawana Brawley. I was preparing to attend a Christening on a Sunday when my phone rang. I picked up the phone, and the person asked if I was Steve Pagones; it was a media member inquiring about team Brawley’s allegations about me. I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he dropped the bombshell: the Brawley team had said I was responsible for raping Brawley. I stammered, disbelieving, “That’s absurd. There’s not a shred of truth to it.” For the next 24 hours, my phone didn’t stop ringing. I was on the front page of every major newspaper in the state, and many across the country. It was simply unbelievable that the allegations had been made – and that the Brawley team made them without any evidence or support whatsoever. As soon as his charges hit the media, I had to hire around-the-clock security. I received death threats on the phone, in the mail. I had to hire armed guards for my family, for my property. My whole life was turned upside down.
Worse, because of the atmosphere and the race-baiting going on, I had to prove my innocence, as opposed to anyone having to prove my guilt. It was draining, emotionally and physically. Eventually, a grand jury found not only that I hadn’t had anything to do with whatever happened to Brawley, but that the entire story was a hoax.
I don’t think very highly of MSNBC to begin with. But in spite of that, I was dumbfounded over their decision to hire Sharpton. Look at his history, his rhetoric, the damage to race relations that he caused — not only in my case but in other matters he was responsible for escalating – and now they’ve given him a platform anyway, a platform from which he can push his hatred. It may be disguised hatred, but it’s hatred nonetheless. I can’t help but question the philosophy and honesty of any network or advertiser that can give him access to such a huge audience.
At Fox News:
Dr. Keith Ablow: Is Obama locked in a victim mentality?
President Obama’s rhetoric is finally coming closer to what appears to be his psychological truth: Because America victimized him and countless millions of others, any person or party or movement that opposes his views and does not yield to him is not just his adversary, but abusive, predatory and even threatening.
Again and again, President Obama has described members of Congress who insist on fiscal responsibility as having taken “hostages,” “demanding a ransom,” using “extortion,” and threatening to “blow up” the government.
On Tuesday, in fact, the president used these exact words when speaking to the press, “What you haven’t seen before, I think from the vantage point of a lot of world leaders, is the notion that one party in Congress might blow the whole thing up if they don’t get their way,” he said. Later he added, “you do not hold peoplehostage or engage in ransom taking to get 100 percent of your way.”
It is exceedingly difficult to come to terms with a person who sees you as his oppressor, his kidnapper, and someone terrorizing him who might well destroy him. You aren’t likely to consider whether your assailant and jailer and would-be killer has a few good ideas, after all.
As a young boy, Obama was, indeed, helpless.
He was helpless to stop his father from abandoning him.
He was helpless to stop his mother from leaving him with his grandparents.
He was helpless to stop his white grandmother and caretaker from communicating to him her fears of black people.
I’m not sure the president ever got over it.
The president’s victim mentality could contribute to dissolving the will of countless Americans who might otherwise see themselves as capable of summoning internal resolve and creativity to surge out of poverty.
An excellent analysis.
From Page 102 of The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill
Get to Know Everyone on the #ReadEverythingTheyWrite List!
15 of My Favorite Writers And Most Important Intellectual Influences:
On Foreign Policy:
- Monday, August 5: ‘War, and Preparation for War, Are the Normal Conditions of Mankind, While Peace Is Extremely Rare.’ – Michael Ledeen
- Tuesday, August 6 on Andrew C. McCarthy: Muslim Brotherhood Operatives Have Infiltrated America’s Political and Cultural Institutions to Conquer Us from Within
- Wednesday, August 7 on Barry Rubin: First We Define Anti-Americanism, Then We Crush It Again Even Harder
- Thursday, August 8 on Claudia Rosett: The United Nations is a Corrupt Failure That Does Not Unite Nations
- Friday, August 9 on David P. Goldman: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
- Tuesday, August 13 on Victor Davis Hanson: The Price We Pay for Our Ignorance of Military History Is Dead Americans
- Wednesday, August 14: 3 Weapons to Win the Culture War Courtesy of Roger Kimball
- Monday, August 19: How to End the Fake Fight Between Social Conservatives and Libertarians WithAndrew Klavan’s Wonderful Writing
- Wednesday, August 21: Michael Walsh Names the Founder of the Criminal Organization Destroying America for Two Centuries…
- Sunday, August 24: The Most Valuable Writing Advice Roger L. Simon Gave Me…
- Tuesday, August 27: Ron Radosh: The Most Valuable Historian Exposing Marxism’s Long War Against America
- Thursday, September 5 on Ion Mihai Pacepa: How the Soviets Seeded Antisemitism Around the World and the Price We Pay with Syria Today
- Wednesday, September 11 on James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus and their essential book America 3.0: On 9/11 and Benghazi’s Anniversary, We End Conservative Pessimism and Right-Wing Apocalypticism
- Tuesday, October 9 on Robert Spencer’s Vital Role in Creating Conservatism 3.0
More authors and books coming soon as the 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading series continues…
Reading Charles Lane’s important column in The Washington Post about a new indie film, Una Noche,(One Night), I promptly rented it “On Demand” on my cable system. It is also available as an iTunes download.
Filmmaker Lucy Mulloy is new to the business. This is her first film, and it is now available after premiering at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival in 2012, as well as the Berlin Film Festival that same year. Unless you live in New York City where some theaters are showing it, you have to watch it at home.
What Mulloy has done is to reveal the truth about daily life in Communist Cuba, which few Western visitors to Cuba have little understanding of. Indeed, the very week that Mulloy’s film has been made available for viewing, The New York Times Travel section featured two different articles extolling tourism to Cuba, and in effect encouraging its readers to avail themselves of the opportunity to engage in well-managed Potemkin Village tours, in which representatives of Cuba’s tourism industry — controlled by Cuba’s state-security apparatus — guide the gullible Americans to show them how joyous and happy the people are, and how wonderful the regime is that gives its people such a good life. They come back extolling the virtues of the Cuban government, joining in calls to lift the embargo on Cuba, and reporting on how well off things are for the people.
The first Times article informs readers that “those eager to get to Cuba just have to pay, and agree to take part in a busy, highly organized tour with very little free time.” Sure, if you had time on your own, you might wander off and see the parts of Havana that Mulloy shows us, and see how people really live and learn what they really think. When I went there in the mid-1970s, I did just that, and ended up getting arrested and thrown into a local holding cell in a police station for six hours because I took a photo of a giant line in front of a nationalized Woolworth store that had just received a rare shipment of plastic shoes from Eastern Europe.
The second Times article notes that “nearly every major tour company is now jockeying for the hearts and wallets of American tourists.” Why not? The tours cost a great deal of money, the food is reportedly mediocre (perhaps better than when I was there, and it was close to inedible) and you are given little time for any R and R — continually shuttled to one orchestrated activity after another. As they put it, “you can’t simply show up and luxuriate at the beach.”
For season 2 of the 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen each afternoon I juxtapose book excerpts with a collection of PJ Media’s headlines and links to the 10 most interesting stories I find each morning from other sites around the web. The goal is to make fresh connections between the events of the day and the bigger picture of humanity’s place in the universe. This series’ current focus also begins each day through highlighting the contributions of an important writer.
My original plan for today’s 9/11 reflection had been to write something very mean about Barack Obama and the Shadow President who actually makes his decisions, Valerie Jarrett.
I was angry at the president over Syria and particularly the way he had knocked off the radar his other scandals: the IRS targeting of his political opponents, his NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance of all internet traffic, the myriad of corruptions in Eric Holder’s racialist Justice Department, and, finally, what I still believe and pray will someday emerge in full clarity for all Americans as what it is, Obama’s Worse-Than-Watergate for which he should be impeached. His abandonment of four American heroes to die as they called for help, the still mysterious circumstances of just why Ambassador Chris Stevens was there on the anniversary of 9/11, and then the administration’s denial of a terrorist attack, asserting against all evidence that the attack was the result of “spontaneous uprisings” provoked by a YouTube video whose filmmaker was promptly arrested. (Think any Muslim in the Middle East has any idea he technically sat in jail for a parole violation, instead of for blaspheming the Prophet?)
But enough of all that. Or it’s “goodbye to all that” that’s the cliché of choice for previous generations, right?
Throughout Obama’s presidency I’ve called him just about every name in the book short of the Birthers’ “Kenyan.” But what’s the point any more? There’s no longer an election to win. There is no one left to try to convince of Obama’s stealth-socialist, Alinskyite strategy for “fundamentally transforming America.” Now all that’s necessary is to stand back and quietly mutter “I told you so” as our Democrat, progressive, and leftist friends watch in horror as Obama’s agenda collapses across the board. What will be left to brag about at the end of eight years? A healthcare law that doesn’t work and that Obama himself has delayed implementing?
We started school in my house on Thursday, and, as usual, the freedom homeschooling offers still takes me by surprise. I’ve been at it for 3 years now (well, 7 if you count all the pre-pre-school that happens before school age.) We have a new grammar curriculum, Shurley English, which I think I’m going to love but when I started teaching the first lesson I realized my daughter already knows this information and I don’t want to waste her time re-teaching it. So I set her up with writing exercises while I perused the book and found the first 5 chapters are a waste for her. So guess what? We’re skipping them! If she were in class with 25 other kids, some of whom don’t know the same information she does, she would have to sit through 5 whole chapters which would take up several weeks of re-learning redundant information. What a waste of her time and talents! Instead, we can just skip ahead and get to the new stuff right now.
Many kids hate school and just get through it as quickly and as mediocrely as they can. Perhaps it’s because their specific likes and dislikes or personal learning styles aren’t taken into account. How can they in a system that has to cater to such a large group of children? Recently, a controversial article was written entitled, “If You Send Your Kids to Private School, You are a Bad Person” by Allison Benedikt that laments parents who want, and can pay for the best education their kids can get. Benedikt supposes all children should be in the public system even at their own detriment:
“Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.”
This is the ultimate child sacrifice, next to abortion, that calls for the educational execution of your children for some unidentifiable future children you should care more about than your own “spawn”, as Benedikt calls them. This is a classic argument from progressives, that those of us who choose not to use the public schools are the reason they are failing. How anyone can come to this conclusion when the state still gets the money allocated for my child even though I bear the entirety of her educational expenses is beyond me. I am actually paying double. I pay for a student (or maybe more, who knows?) in public school with my property taxes and I pay for a privately-educated child from my personal expenses. How the public school’s failure to produce readers is my fault is a head-scratcher.
Benedikt thinks all that is needed is parents like me to enroll my children and then engage in the fight to make the public school better. Yeah, okay. I would be every principal’s worst nightmare. Believe me, I am doing the public school a favor by not insisting that they not show movies during class time, that they not read books about sexuality to minors and that science not include dubious global warming “scientific” tall tales. Trust me, the public school has no use for me or my children and I feel the same. Luckily, we still live in a moderately free society where a person like Benedikt (who also admits to being ignorant thanks to her public school education) has no authority over my personal choices about educating my daughters. For people who presume to be so non-judgmental over other lifestyle choices like homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion-as-birth-control and other favorite progressive sacraments, they’re awfully judgy about private-schoolers and people who want their children to have better than the “lame education” that Benedikt suffered.
The phenomenon occurs among activists on the Left and the Right. Regardless of their ideological perspective or particular cause, amateur activists sabotage their own effort at every turn. Whether due to ignorance of processes or – more likely – stubborn defiance of reality, citizen activists focus too much on grinding their axe and not enough on achieving a goal.
Three recent examples warrant consideration. First, in Maine, a group of libertarian Republicans including a National Committeeman authored an open letter to the state party secretary tendering their resignation from the GOP following a rules fight which didn’t go their way at a meeting of the RNC. Dave Nalle, former national chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus, an organization working within the party to steer it toward greater advocacy of individual rights, called the mass exodus a “betrayal” in a public Facebook post:
After years of working to gain those positions of influence and as a key component of a liberty coalition which controls the state party, they have thrown everything away because of losing one battle over the rules with the RNC leadership.
Did they go into this thinking it was going to be easy to change the Republican Party? I respect their efforts and commitment up to this point, but what they have done puts liberty movement control of their state party in jeopardy and hands additional victories to the malefactors who run the national party. It weakens the movement nationwide and sets a terrible example for others.
In Minnesota, the Occupy movement has splintered as Occupy MN announced that it was cutting ties with a spin-off organization called Occupy Homes MN on account of the latter becoming “commercialized” and “profitable.” City Pages reports on the schism, citing a public statement from Occupy MN:
Many of us helped create, volunteered with and were arrested with Occupy Homes, until unethical tactics serving the goal of evolution into a profitable Non-Governmental Organization achieved dominance.
Last but not least, activists made a stink following an incident at the Republican Party booth at the Minnesota State Fair. Volunteers arrived to work a shift at the booth wearing campaign t-shirts supporting a libertarian challenger to Congressman John Kline. The state party chair, fulfilling his fiduciary responsibility to protect the party brand, required the volunteers to turn their shirts inside-out while representing the party in an official capacity. The move sparked a firestorm of protest from liberty activists within the party. A former candidate for the state chair position rallied support on Facebook by noting:
Neither Kline nor Mr. [David] Gerson [the challenger] is endorsed for the 2014 race to keep MN CD 2 in GOP hands.
Apparently, political parties have no vested interest in promoting their elected officials or protecting their brand by not associating it with non-endorsed challengers. So goes the protesters’ argument.
Each of these examples and many more which could be cited indicate an activist mindset which I refer to as anti-activism. Like a gerbil running on its wheel, anti-activists expend tremendous energy toward getting nowhere. That becomes problematic for more thoughtful activists who focus on affecting public policy rather than protest for its own sake. Let’s consider 6 ways activists sabotage their cause.