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In Defense of Extremism

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Recall the moral clarity with which Barry Goldwater addressed the 1964 Republican National Convention:

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Goldwater understood that terms like extremism and moderation only matter in a defined context. Nowadays, the negative connotation of extremism is commonly taken for granted. No one bothers to ask: extreme in relation to what?

As candidates announce their runs for president left and right, the editorial board of the Minneapolis Star Tribune calls upon us to move “beyond ideology.”

Ideology, it seems, is reasserting itself in a world that less than a generation ago appeared headed toward pluralism, tolerance and pragmatism, all bolstered by an unprecedented flow of free information that promised to render extremism obsolete.

Why should we want to render extremism in defense of liberty obsolete? Why should we desire pragmatism in the pursuit of justice?

The Star Tribune op-ed offers its words without context, used more for rhetorical effect than for substantive communication. Its use of “ideology” seems to reference cultish political dogma, ignoring the fact that any given philosophy – even the conscientious choice to reject conscientious choice – is an ideology. There’s no escaping it. There’s nowhere “beyond ideology.” The very attempt to “render extremism obsolete” proves profoundly ideological.

Indeed, as their appeal to “pluralism, tolerance and pragmatism” develops, the editorial board’s own ideological goals emerge:

Screeds portraying government as a manifest evil are especially damaging because they taint even the most sensible government solutions. With national campaigns approaching, our fervent hope is that voters have grown weary of the threadbare recitations common to both parties and will instead demand pragmatic, creative and courageous approaches that bypass the tiresome interest groups…

We yearn for an agenda that matches the nation’s and the state’s actual problems: Creating a wider prosperity; building an infrastructure that works; forging a coherent, sophisticated foreign policy; fostering a truly effective system for education and training; reforming the corrupt financing of campaigns, and devising serious policies on climate and energy. We long for solutions based on hard evidence, not ideological correctness.

All this as if their laundry list were somehow “beyond ideology.” There’s nothing at all ideological about the green movement or education, is there?

To understand what the Star Tribune editorial board has done, we must recall Goldwater’s insight that appeals to moderation and accusations of extremism only matter in a defined context. We must first know: extreme in relation to what?

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Quit Negging America into Self-Destruction

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

NSFW: Language

In the second season premiere of HBO’s pro-guy, pro-small business, pro-capitalist genius of a counterculture conservative comedy Silicon Valley, the guys once again incorporate a sexual metaphor into their business strategy: negging. Negging is a method by which you insult someone in order to get your sexual desires fulfilled. Twisted? Yes. A functional strategy in a certain sphere of sexual culture? Absolutely.

And it works on the Internet as well.

Before you dismiss those who neg as perverts, keep in mind that negative, provocative, reactionary content drives the majority of clicks on the Internet. Case in point, my colleague Robert Wargas’s latest commentary: How Long Does America Have? His primary evidence that we’re in self-destruct? Baltimore riots, yet another media-fed frenzy that would die down if mothers like this one were more connected to their children than they are to the endless stream of panic-consciousness coming through mainstream and social media outlets.

Those riots, like the ones that turned Ferguson into Gaza, thrive off negging (what Ed Driscoll ironically refers to as “riot porn“). As does Wargas’s second piece of evidence involving Christian bakers, the gay mafia and a crowdsourcing site who my colleague Paula Boylard referred to as “jackbooted fascists” who “won’t be happy until all Christians are in ghettos.” So, a crowdfunding site cut off a fundraiser for someone you support. Whatever happened to bypassing the website and sending them a check directly? But the point of the thing isn’t to give the couple financial support, it’s the negging, feeding the idea that someone hates someone else and therefore the country is obviously going down in flames.

Why are Millennials “the poorest generation in 25 years”? Because their parents neg them, of course. According to S.E. Smith, “everyone loves to hate on millennials” and they have the Internet quotes to prove it. Millennials aren’t just despised on the Internet, they’re despised because of their attachment to the Internet. When analysts aren’t ragging on websites, parents are ragging on their Millennial kids for wasting too much time online. So much for the value of social networking.

Thanks to the relentless negging on the Internet there are entire movements devoted to disconnecting from virtual reality. Often referred to as “slow” movements (i.e. slow foodslow fashion) they’re usually dismissed as hippie garbage until they’re given more scientific twists, as in the new Positive Psychology, or spiritual ones as in the case of the mindfulness movement. Apps have been created to help you join in the social media detox craze.

Think they’re crazy? The rates of ADHD diagnoses among children ages 4-17 have gone up a steady 5% every year from 2003 to 2011. A full 20% of the US college population now has ADHD. The simple math tells you that these kids were born into the Internet age, and its more than the speed that boggles their minds. “Impulsivity” and “depression” plague them as well. Surfing the net at fiber optic speeds, it’s easy to figure out why: Even the most popular kitty is a grumpy one.

According to Urban Dictionary, negging consists of “low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” In other words, work hard enough to make someone feel worthless and eventually they’ll not only believe you, they’ll become dependent upon you for emotional support. Key word being “dependent,” a.k.a. everything a Constitution-loving, Declaration of Independence-touting American should work at great lengths to avoid. The “distended orgy” of which Wargas writes does exist …on the Internet. And gleefully so! The question is, if we stop feeding the beast will it cease to be a threat to our civilization? That would require the opposite of disconnect. It would mean connecting for a cause greater than negging one another on. And perhaps that is our greatest challenge of all.

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What Has Made Adulthood So Damned Scary?

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

First it was adult preschool. Now it’s adult summer camp:

Now you’re an adult and your life is all work and emails and commuting. And booze, which is a good addition. But Camp No Counselors wants to get that summer camp feeling back in your life. You and your friends can take a long weekend to the woods of Albany to travel back in time, with water sports, color wars, a talent show and other favorite parts of your childhood camp memories—but with the added benefits of dance parties with live DJs, co-ed cabins and alcohol at every turn. It’s gonna get weird.

Millennials may be poor overall, but the ones who can afford a vacation are mocking the accusation of immaturity by embracing the rejuvenile ethos to the hilt. Camp No Counselors isn’t the only business capitalizing on the summer camp for millennials trend. Time Out New York lists six camps in the region specializing in everything from glamping to zombie survival preparation. Could summer camp be for millennials what Caribbean beach resorts were for Gen-X? Granted, Sandals was all about growing up and getting laid. Summer camp, on the other hand, could easily be seen as a twenty-something’s attempt to grab onto the last vestiges of youth, which leads to the question: What has made adulthood so damned scary?

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HBO’s Silicon Valley Mocks Sexism in the Tech World

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Season 2 of the already-renewed HBO series finds the Pied Piper start up funded and ready to hire. Two of the employees, Dinesh and Gilfoyle, recommend a coder they met through a local tech network: Carla Walton. Jared, the business nerd, immediately jumps at the chance for Pied Piper to “diversify” by hiring a woman. The rest of the guys balk: “We’re all in agreement that we should hire the most qualified candidate.” Mike Judge-patented hilarity ensues.

“It’s like now we’re the Beatles and we just need Yoko,” Jared brightens.

“Dude, that is like the worst metaphor ever.”

But it’s the perfect one for affirmative action hiring. Jared goes about creating a harassment policy and forcing embarrassed company head Richard to review it in a “group meeting”. Adding yet another layer of humor to the plotline, new (female) hire Carla uses the affirmative action game to crack a few jokes of her own. “I have a friend named Kunti,” she details, “If I can’t call Kunti “Kunti” then I’m not going to want to have Kunti over at all, which I feel like kind of violates my rights… as a woman.”

Are the critics dubbing Carla’s actions “subverting the male-dominated system” missing the point? Was Carla mocking hi-tech’s lack of female employees, or the affirmative action demands to hire based on gender? Will the tech world, let alone HR at large, actually get Judge’s point when it comes to hiring based on qualifications, not demographics? How long will it take before the GamerGate chicks are up in arms?

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If Only Al Sharpton’s Mother Gave Him a Good Smack Upside the Head

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

My colleagues Paula Boylard and Michael Walsh have declared Baltimore’s Mother of the Year, Toya Graham, a “bad parent” for slapping her rioting teenager upside the head. The essence of their argument: had she raised him better from the beginning, with good, solid biblical values, he wouldn’t have been there in the first place. That’s taking Bible-thumping to a new, bizarre level.

Scripture instructs, “Raise a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.” Notice the stage missing in the middle: young adulthood. At some point the child takes the values you raised them with and tests them against what the rest of the world is saying. Some do it the way the young man in Baltimore did, by throwing on a mask, joining a violent mob and wreaking havoc on a city, threatening lives in the process. Others, perhaps raised in a more religious environment, develop covert addictions to Internet pornography or drugs. Most just paint their nails black for a semester and go goth. In any case, these young adults are all in the same boat of questioning and testing the values they were raised with in order to determine if they are true. Hence, the Bible instructs they will return to the truth “when they are old”er and wiser, thanks to all the mistakes they’ve made.

The Mother of the Year’s son was in the process of committing violent acts that could have caused bodily harm to innocent people. Why doesn’t that justify a slap to the head? Experts from a wide range of fields have concluded that what this mother did potentially spared her son from a life of crime.

This is especially ironic given Paula’s opinion regarding the unfair prosecution of free-range parents by social services. Most of the teens participating in the Baltimore riots are the product of free-range parenting. So if we’re going to argue over 10 year olds being unsupervised in parks, this situation leads to the question: Should this mother not have allowed her 16 year old to ever leave her sight? Or is the difference simply that the 10 year old is growing up in a white suburb, far away from the threatening influence of ghetto culture?

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Once Free Speech Gets Linked to ‘Identity,’ We’re Doomed

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

First, a pitch-perfect quote from Oliver Kamm, writing recently in The Times of London about the puerile opposition to honoring Charlie Hebdo:

Once you claim that free speech must be balanced against other values, such as “respect,” you limit the search for knowledge. Beliefs earn respect to the extent that they can withstand scrutiny.

Indeed. Commit that to memory.

Now consider more broadly what Kamm is writing about. It’s the idea, rapidly gaining influence outside university campus-cesspools, that certain speech is “oppressive” to certain groups. It’s a crucial step in the identity-politics gleichschaltung: the attempt to link all liberty, including free speech, to “white maleness” so that it can be delegitimized and eventually banned.

It’s why advertisements in London featuring a fit, bikini-clad woman have been attacked by self-proclaimed feminists and banned by authorities.

The trick is to say that free speech is not “really” free, since it’s just an extension of certain people’s “privilege”; the exercise of it is therefore the “oppression” of the non-privileged groups, who don’t have the “power” to speak freely. We will only be “really” free when there is no “privilege.” Until that time, we have to balance the scales by gagging this “privileged” speech.

How do we fight this?

 

 

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Dear Black Facebook Friends: Let’s Rethink How We Pursue Change

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Dear Black America,

After reading this open letter to white people published at Salon and authored by middle school teacher Julia Blount, I feel compelled to offer an alternative perspective from a similar background. Like Blount, I too was born of mixed heritage. My father is black. My mother is white. Like Blount, I too have grown up in relative safety and affluence, but have nonetheless experienced disparities in treatment on account of my brown skin.

As I read Blount’s admonition to white America, I largely understand the motive behind it. That said, if we really want white people to understand and respond to the points Blount and others have made, we need to rethink how we pursue change.

First, let’s consider this notion of “white privilege.” What do we really mean by that? One offered definition is “the benefits that white people get from society that people of color don’t.” What are some examples of these benefits? The above clip provides a few, most of which can be summed up as not being judged negatively on account of skin color.

If our goal as people of color is to pursue a society wherein skin color elicits no judgment, our first task must be not judging other people on account of their skin color. Right? We can’t be hypocrites. We can’t on the one hand bemoan the prejudicial judgments of others, while offering prejudicial judgments of our own. We’re asking to be judged as individuals. Yet too many of us are judging others as members of a privileged whole. It’s a cognitive dissonance that creates an intellectual log jam preventing meaningful discourse and stymieing real social progress.

What we call “white privilege” is not something that white America does to us. It’s something that particular individuals do to us. If you’re being watched by a store clerk who thinks you might steal something because you’re black, you’re not being judged by white America. You’re being judged by that clerk. Does it really matter whether that clerk is white or Asian or Hispanic or even another black person? If they’re making assumptions about you based solely on race, isn’t that the problem rather than the color of their skin?

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Smacking Your Kids Around in Public Does Not Make You a Hero

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

I agree with Paula on this one. And, oddly enough, with Joan Walsh at Salon as well. As Paula wrote here:

When children are consistently disciplined in a compassionate, controlled manner and given consistent boundaries and appropriate consequences, those qualities spill over into their lives and as adults, they’ll find they’ve been given the tools to be self-disciplined, self-controlled, and compassionate to their own children and others around them.

The instant resort to violence is a hallmark of the underclass, both black and white, and alas one sees it constantly on the streets of America’s major cities. But those of who were raised by responsible parents, and who try to be responsible parents ourselves, understand that it should be the appearance of the parent alone — a parent imbued with moral authority — that puts a stop to bad behavior, not whupping some kid upside the head.

Joan Walsh (no relation) naturally racializes the argument but, still, she’s on to something when she says:

Baltimore’s “Hero Mom” has a name. It’s Toya Graham. And the woman lionized nationwide for beating her 16-year-old son on camera, and dragging him away from Monday night’s riots, doesn’t feel at all like a hero.

“I don’t. I don’t,” Graham told CBS “This Morning” on Wednesday. “My intention was just to get my son and have him be safe.” Later in the interview, Graham confesses, “I just lost it.”  Her moment of losing it made her a hero to much of white America – and not just to the right. Coast to coast, the media is hyping Graham as “Hero Mom” and her on-camera beating as “Tough Love.” It’s not just Fox News or the “New York Post,” whose tabloid “Send in the Moms” front page this time reflects rather than rebukes the mainstream media. And that’s heartbreaking.

The debate over the moment Graham says she “lost it” is complex. There’s a parallel black debate going on that, as always when it comes to racial issues, is richer and more nuanced. But anyone white who’s applauding Graham’s moment of desperation, along with the white media figures who are hyping her “heroism,” is essentially justifying police brutality, and saying the only way to control black kids is to beat the shit out of them.

I’m aware that a lot of African Americans are lauding Graham, too. This piece isn’t directed at them. Whether they applaud or critique Graham’s corporal punishment, most black people debating the issue acknowledge that the desperate public beating came from centuries of black parents knowing they have to discipline their children harshly, or else white society will do it for them – and they may not survive it.

The hypocrisy of the white mainstream applauding Graham is sickening. Let’s be honest: many white folks are reflexive critics of the greater frequency of corporal punishment in the black community. Witness the media horror at Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson beating his young son. If Graham beat her child like that in the aisles of CVS, you can be sure somebody would call CPS.

The best way to discipline your children is to love them and show them the ropes — not punch them around the ring.

 

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‘Don’t Tell Me What’s Oppressive. I Tell You, You Shut Up and Listen’

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

I’m tempted to present the following tweet without comment:

And this one too:

But I can’t help but add a few things. What do we as a society do when communication continues to break down to this level? What do you say to somebody who genuinely believes that he is being oppressed by you for speaking? It’s easy to be glib and respond, “Well, you just tell him to get lost.” But this, er, gentleman’s opinions are not uncommon among university students. And in case you haven’t noticed, the politics of the university have been spreading steadily outward over the past few years. What happens when this kind of thing begins popping up in the private-sector workforce? Do you seriously believe that it won’t reach further into our society, given the general direction we’re going, and given how common this is among huge swaths of younger people?

I can’t be the only one who’s not smiling anymore.

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How Long Can You Shelter Your Children from LGBT?

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In the above clip, Fox News’ Todd Starnes laments an incident in Maine where a primary school teacher taught five-year-olds about transgenderism. The kids were read a book called I Am Jazz about a boy who believes himself to be a girl.

Starnes properly rails against the school district’s disregard for parental rights. The nature of most public education is such that parents retain little control over offensive curriculum, certainly relative to a private model where business could be taken elsewhere.

That said, let’s take the public/private debate out of it and just consider the question of transgenderism itself. Surely, children are going to learn about such things at some point. We may prefer they be exposed at a point later than five-years-old, and that’s fair. But is it possible in this day and age to shelter our children completely from topics like homosexuality and transgenderism?

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Christian Persecution Is a Resurrected Form of Antisemitism

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Paula,

I found your piece to be very timely based on the thoughts coming from my Christian friends regarding the growing persecution of the Christian church abroad and at home. One comment I received regarding a recent Tatler post acknowledges what many of my friends have already expressed:

Ms. Goldberg,
I have heard the expression “Sunday comes after Saturday,” which as I understand is the answer in the Muslim Middle East to why they persecute Jews so much and persecute Christians less. This is confirmed by your article. Once all the Jews have left, they will come after the Christians.
–Andrew W.

When we Jews hear your shock we respond with all-too familiar nods, as you are beginning to understand what we have experienced for thousands of years. I would like to reach out to you to highlight an essential concept you and my Christian friends have missed in the important discussion of how to fight back against persecution, so that you may be better equipped to handle what is already coming your way.

You cite Peter (Hebrew name Kefa) who was a Jew who wrote to a primarily Jewish audience (1:1 “exiles of the Dispersion” – i.e. the Diaspora of 70 A.D. that followed the destruction of the second Temple, or even the descendants of the first diaspora — Jews lived everywhere in that area in ancient times) who, joined with gentile counterparts, believed in a Jewish Messiah. These were outcasts because they were adherents to Jewish culture in a Roman (pagan) world. From that perspective I’d encourage all Christians to think along the lines of understanding the Biblical persecution which they reference as a contemporary form of antisemitism.

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The Best New York Cinema is Indie Cinema

Friday, April 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In terms of New York while Mr. Wargas named many good box office hits, he left out the entire genre of independent, low-budget cinema that screams New York in ways big directors and big dollars cannot. Case in point: Crossing Delancey, my soul’s addiction that requires yearly viewing.

The almost Yiddishkeit story of a Jewish girl who shook off her Lower East Side roots for the promises of the elite literati, only to find herself falling in love with a Pickle Man from the old side of the tracks, Crossing Delancey is like the city itself. It is spiritually rooted in the past, firmly grounded in the present, ever-questioning the future. It is both literal and visceral, practical and mystical. It is the pursuit of love in person, place, and idea altogether inseparable.

Joan Micklin Silver directed the film produced by its star, Amy Irving. The shout-out to the Guerilla Girls was a snide flip of the finger at the grotesque bias against women in the film industry. Jennifer Westfeldt owes her career in part to these trailblazers of Working Girl-era film feminism.

Infused with the neshama, the spiritual nature inherent to the female sex, Crossing Delancey asks of its protagonist and its audience, “Who are you?” That is the question every immigrant, visitor and newborn has and will hear when arriving on her stinking golden shores. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” It is brutal, incisive and promises the gift of Divine truth if answered honestly. Crossing Delancey captures the idea of New York, the gateway to the goldena medina, the promised land where anyone, immigrant and indie filmmaker alike, can make their dreams come true.

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Is YouTube a ‘Garbage Can,’ as Jerry Seinfeld Says?

Friday, April 17th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

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Jerry Seinfeld recently called YouTube “a giant garbage can [...] for user-generated content.”

I can’t fault him for saying this. In this narcissistic age, YouTube is just one of the many receptacles of vanity available to the demos.

That said, Seinfeld’s comment is ultimately inaccurate. I think it’s useful to think of YouTube not as a garbage can but as a flea market. Flea markets are full of junk whose owners think it worthwhile enough to attempt to sell to the general public. Most of the stuff is worth only a quick glance and a shrug or a scoff. But there are also little treasures to be found—things that are available quite literally nowhere else on the planet.

Consider all the things you’ve searched for, and found, on YouTube. Now consider where else you would have been able to find them absent YouTube. Nowhere. Well, perhaps somewhere, but not without onerous searching, waiting, and probably paying.

Old debates? Documentaries? Tutorials on fly fishing? Old episodes of Miami Vice? That boxing match from 1992? That cartoon you watched as a kid? Winston Churchill speeches? Phil Collins singing at Live Aid? You found it all on YouTube.

Now play the same game, but with the Internet in general. I’ll wait….

*****

image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Why Do All Men’s Colognes Smell the Same?

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

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I used to be a cologne fanatic — I bought a lot of them — until a few years ago when I suddenly admitted to myself, after perhaps a few years’ worth of denial, that all men’s colognes were starting to smell the same. I got bored and stopped buying them.

Has anyone noticed this? There is no genuine variety. Somewhere around the Acqua Di Gio era, all manufacturers began top-loading their fragrances with overpowering citrus and other potent “fresh” scents. We’ve reached the point where there’s very little to distinguish between what a teenager douses himself with when he wants to pick up girls at Mike the quarterback’s keg party and what an adult wears to a wedding or romantic date. Must we all smell like we’re in the middle of Abercrombie & Fitch?

****

image illustration via shutterstock /  

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A&E’s Neighbors With Benefits Pulled After 2 Episodes: Has Our Morality Grown Back?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

In case you missed it, A&E launched a new series titled Neighbors With Benefits on March 22. The reality show about a neighborhood of spouse-swapping couples only aired two of its scheduled nine seasons before getting the ax.

Maybe A&E is starting to get it. The reason for the success of the hit Duck Dynasty is not that it is a counterculture freak show. The family’s appeal lies as much in their wholesome family-centered lifestyle as it does in their non-conforming looks and disregard for a politically correct culture.

Neighbors With Benefits presented a totally opposite lifestyle. It suggested that living by a canine code of sexual conduct is actually good for a marriage.

Could this cancelation be an indicator that America’s taste for perversion has finally induced nausea?

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Why the Government Nannies May Be Right When It Comes to Eating Meat

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Like my PJ colleague Liz Shield, I dislike government nannies of any kind. Yet, I can’t help but be pleased with the latest recommendation from the Feds: “A dietary pattern that is higher in plant(s) … and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact.” And it has nothing to do with the quantity of methane in cow farts.

The reality is that a plant-based diet is better for your health. Note, I did not say vegan, nor vegetarian. “Plant-based” is a style of diet that puts plants before meat and any other processed product you’d put into your body. Mediterranean diets proffering fish, poultry and other lean meats are highly plant based and continue to prove to be one of the best diets for optimal health. And we aren’t just talking physical health, either. Mental health is hugely impacted by the quantity and quality of vitamins and minerals we take in on a daily basis. Both psychological studies and personal experience testify to the fact that kids and adults who eat veggies are happier, healthier, and less likely to be drugged on behavioral medications. What’s going to be a richer, diverse source of nutrients, a dinner that is 75% greens or 75% processed cow parts?

Yet, we cringe at the idea of public school kids being fed salad for lunch. Salad isn’t a bad thing, having the government tell us what we can and can’t eat is a bad thing. In our resistance to government interference, we risk missing the greater point: What we eat matters. Studies come and go and the factors that go into these studies, especially from a funding and lobbying point of view, are never adequately addressed. Surely this latest line is a political one meant to motivate environmentalist legislation above all else. But that doesn’t turn the grain of truth, the reality that a plant-based diet is good for you, into a lie. If anything, it abuses the truth for a political point. That abuse, not the recommendation to eat plants, is the sin in the conversation.

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Is a Sick Child an Asset to a Bankrupt State?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

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When I try to grasp what Michelle and Isaiah Rider’s life has become over the past year I think of nightmares so horrible you make a conscious effort to wake yourself up. Tragically, there is no waking up from this. On March 11, an Illinois judge plunged this small family of two deeper into the dark world of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Riders

Michelle and Isaiah Rider. Photo curtesty of Michelle Rider

Michelle and Isaiah are now living in what seems like a strange, alternate world where the freedoms they once believed they had don’t exist. Now they are captive to a system that tears apart families and devours children. The two entered this real-life Twilight Zone when they traveled to Illinois for Isaiah’s much-needed surgery.

Due to a rare neurological condition, painful tumors developed along Isaiah’s nerves. Although Michelle and Isaiah are both residents of Missouri, it was decided, together with their doctor, to travel to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for the surgery. When complications set in, as they often did for Isaiah, the hospital was ill-equipped to diagnose or relieve his suffering. Michelle, a registered nurse by profession, believed it was her right and responsibility as his mother to have her son transferred to a hospital that had successfully treated him in the past.

The hospital administration did not see it that way.

Instead of complying, two social workers and the director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) led Michelle into a small room. There she was stripped of her hospital band and parental rights. After informing the distraught mother they were charging her with “medical child abuse” (also known as Munchausen by proxy), they waited for her to stop sobbing and escorted her out of the hospital.

While in the ICU, Isaiah was forcibly separated from his mother far beyond the customary 48 hours. He was not allowed to see or hear from his mother for 24 days. He was then dumped in a foster home.

That was over a year ago. You can catch up on their story in more detail herehere and at The Blaze.

Since then a lot has happened. While Isaiah was recovering from his ordeal in foster care, his mother told PJ Lifestyle that her son was raped at gunpoint. Although Isaiah reported the assault, the crime was not fully investigated. Instead, his case is showing all the earmarks of a coverup.

Isaiah has continued to suffer from the same complications of his condition. Most recently, his mother told PJ Lifestyle that Isaiah was diagnosed with a lesion on his brain. For the last three months, his family has tried in vain to get medical help. However, the state of Illinois must approve every aspect of his care — and they are neglectfully slow.

Isaiah’s condition has not changed but has instead worsened outside of his mother’s care.

This is significant because according to CriticalCareNurse Vol 30, No. 6, DECEMBER 2010

Both the diagnosis and the cure for the victim of MSbP [Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy] is complete separation from the perpetrator, a total parentectomy.

Is there more to this story? That is a distinct possibility.

“There must be more to the story,” is the first and natural response to a story like this. It’s a defense mechanism. There is a tendency to think that the government and the agencies we give authority to are just. We need to believe that a “service” intended to protect children does just that.

The problem with this false sense of security lies in the idea that government institutions are inherently good. Since these are made up of human beings, we also assume that people are trustworthy and moral by nature.

On what do we base this assumption?

This is not a biblical principle, nor is it one the Founding Fathers believed. They saw the vices of government and men and attempted to put checks and balances in place. Although they knew and understood corrupted power, it’s doubtful they could fathom our republic so infected with cultural Marxism that it would become incapable of recognizing rudimentary parental rights.

What if the system is not good? What if men and women steeped in their selfish desires use their power for their gain? Then there certainly would be more to this story.

The state of Illinois has refused to loosen its grip on this boy.

Consider this: Isaiah reported he was raped at gunpoint while in foster care. His pleas for help have gone virtually ignored. He has pleaded to go home. He was not allowed into a courtroom where his fate was being decided.

What does a bankrupt state, riddled with corruption, have to gain by holding on to a young man with chronic medical needs?

Let’s look at the roots of all evil. When looking for a motive, follow the money trail. A child is a valuable commodity in a morally bankrupt culture. Michelle Rider said she noticed a notation on Isaiah’s transfer papers, which stated he is Title IV-E eligible:

“Funding is awarded by formula as an open-ended entitlement grant and is contingent upon an approved title IV-E plan to administer or supervise the administration of the program… Funds are available for monthly maintenance payments for the daily care and supervision of eligible children; administrative costs to manage the program; training of staff and foster care providers; recruitment of foster parents and costs related to the design, implementation and operation of a state-wide data collection system.” Children’s Bureau

The incentive and motive are surely there for the agency. What about the individuals involved? What could they possibly have to gain that would justify robbing this or any other family of their most elementary human needs — their parental rights?

Stay on that money trail. It leads deeper and deeper into the lowest bowels of a very sick culture.

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Photo Credit Shutterstock: LeviQ

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Does a Podcast Have to be About Sex to be Feminist?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Salon’s resident feminist Jenny Kutner chronicled her top 7 feminist podcasts that are “way sexier than Serial“. A spin-off of This American LifeSerial is a non-fiction podcast that harkens back to the golden era of radio, sourcing material from old headlines to generate serial tales of true life criminal investigations. It’s as remarkable as any other product of the entertainment industry in that it’s managed to put a slight twist on a tried and true endeavor. But feminist? Not particularly. And neither are Kutner’s alternatives.

Sexy, yes. Six out of the seven essentially discuss only sex. The seventh, Crybabies, is a podcast hosted by two women who get weepy. A lot. As in “let’s listen to this Adele song and cry”. It’s strange that a contemporary feminist would cite a crying female podcast as a feminist totem given all that angry bra-burning for which they’re supposedly famous. Isn’t crying contradictory to their anti-biology trend?

In any case, why does a podcast have to be about sex in order to be considered feminist? Are buzz words like “frank and funny” or “deep and interesting” enough to justify discussions about orgasms, phone sex and drag queens as being feminist? What’s the alternative for women looking to embrace their empowerment outside the bedroom?

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The Latest 20-Something Feminist Fashion Trend: Fifty Shades of Gray…Hair?

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

It really is as strange as it sounds.

While pop artists like Katy Perry and Selena Gomez tween themselves down to look like hypersexual pre-pubescents, models in their twenties are dying their locks gray in an embrace of the “granny hair” trend sweeping the runway. Being inspired by older models strutting the catwalk with natural gray hair is admirable, but are these bright young things searching for a relevance lacking in their own generation? Actress Carole Lombard once commented:

With age there comes a richness that’s divine. Age takes on a beauty everyone can’t see, perhaps. But I see it … I don’t know of anything in the world more beautiful, more fascinating than a woman ripe with years, rich and lush as velvet with experience, her humor as tangy and flavorous as sunriped fruit. If women wouldn’t get so self-conscious about getting old, they wouldn’t get old mentally, and then they wouldn’t be old at all, only wise and simply divine. I LOVE the idea of getting old.

Or is this just another sad pop attempt to sexualize the previously tame image of a woman’s senior years? Is it still “defiant feminism” when you’re simply playing sexy masquerade? Even creepier still, is this another sign of feminism’s narcissistic embrace of a nihilistic mentality?

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Is It Time Women Start Apologizing for Being Feminists?

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With her song “Sorry Babe, You’re a Feminist” comedian and songwriter Katie Goodman reacts to the onslaught of millennial celebrities who refuse to take on the title of “feminist” with reasons ranging from the practical (“like voting, like driving?”) to the politically stereotypical rants about online conservatives (perhaps she has yet to encounter Christina “Factual Feminist” Hoff Sommers via AEI?) and obnoxious commentary about math being “hard.”

Where’s her line about being sexually subservient like Queen Bey, going on a local Slut Walk, or falsely accusing a male college student of rape? What about the needs of women in the Islamic and third worlds? She mentions education, but never bothers to acknowledge the anti-feminist mentalities that lead to generations of women growing up ignorant, sexually mutilated, or forced into marriages or sex slavery.

After hearing her rhyming rant of a tune, would you want to call yourself a feminist, or is Goodman merely personifying the many reasons why women are turning away from the feminist movement today?

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Rich Woman Sentenced to 20 Years for Cheap Abortion

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Pervi Patel, an Indiana woman, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for not having a proper abortion.

According to the Chicago Tribune Patel opted for the convenience of abortifacient drugs from China, rather than seeking the assistance of a doctor. When the infant was born premature and still alive, the new mother left him on the floor to die, and then threw the baby in a trash can.

Judge Elizabeth Hurley took a moment to scold Patel for her actions at sentencing.

“You, Miss Patel, are an educated woman of considerable means. If you wished to terminate your pregnancy safely and legally, you could have done so,” Hurley said. “You planned a course of action and took matters into your hands and chose not to go to a doctor.”

Apparently, Miss Patel will be serving time in prison, not for killing her baby–but for doing it on the cheap.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock, Gunter Nezhoda

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Woman Trades Baby Wishes for Open Marriage

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Robin Rinaldi wanted children more than anything. Instead of pursuing the journey of motherhood, she wound up experiencing what is being dubbed “feminist enlightenment” through sexual exploration, chronicled in her new book The Wild Oats Project:

When she was in her mid-30s and engaged to be married to a man several years older, Rinaldi, the author of a new book called “The Wild Oats Project,” entered premarital counseling with a quack named George. Rinaldi wanted kids, and her future husband did not.

…In fact, he had a vasectomy. And so Rinaldi decided that if she couldn’t have children, at least she should get to have a lot of sex with a lot of different men and women — and men and women together.

Yes, the logic escapes me, too — and I read the whole book. It seems to have something to do with the fact that both having children and having promiscuous sex are expressions of her “femininity.” Regardless, her husband apparently felt so guilty (or spineless) that he agreed to “open” their marriage for a year.

…Trying to suppress maternal desires in an effort to seem enlightened has the potential for disaster — as Rinaldi quickly learned.

Rinaldi’s conclusion: “I learned I didn’t need a man or a child in order to experience true womanhood.” Apparently she needed several men … and other women, for that matter. Which leads to the question, why did she “seethe” when she learned of friends’ pregnancies and dedicate her book to Ruby, the daughter she never had?

Is feminism still a movement focused on women’s equality, or has it become a narcissistic cult proffering temporal ego-satisfying sex in exchange for the eternal fulfillment of motherhood?

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Fooled Again: Why Do So Many American Converts to Islam Learn to Hate Their Home?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Robert Spencer

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Spc. Hasan Edmonds, a Muslim member of the U.S. Army National Guard, was arrested last Wednesday at Chicago’s Midway Airport. He had been planning to join the Islamic State. His cousin, Jonas “Yunus” Edmonds, was arrested as well. They had allegedly been plotting a jihad attack against a U.S. military facility – making Hasan Edmonds the latest in a long line of people who convert to Islam and then turn traitor.

Is it just a coincidence that so many converts to Islam come to regard the country in which they were born and raised, the land of the families and forefathers, as an enemy? Or is there some connection?

Hasan Edmonds clearly believed that his new religion required a shift of his allegiance. “I am already in the American kafir [infidel] army,” he told an informant in January, “and now I wish only to serve in the army of Allah alongside my true brothers.”

He also expressed the desire to carry out a jihad attack in the U.S. – something on the scale of January’s jihad murders in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket: “Honestly,” said Edmonds, “we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did” – that is, commit mass murder among people he had once considered his countrymen, and whom he had, as a National Guard member, sworn to protect

Edmonds thus joins other American converts to Islam who have turned traitor, including Sgt. Hasan Akbar, an American engineer from the 101st Airborne Division, who murdered Captain Christopher Scott Seifert, Major Gregory Stone, and wounded fifteen others in a grenade and small-arms attack in northern Kuwait on March 22, 2003. As he committed his murders, he yelled:

You guys are coming into our countries, and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children.

Yet Akbar was not Iraqi or Kuwaiti. He was an American from Los Angeles. But when he became a Muslim, any allegiance he may have had to America was gone. Likewise al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn and the Marin County Mujahid, John Walker Lindh, both of whom converted to Islam and ended up waging war against the country of their birth, on behalf of its enemies.

It isn’t just converts, either. A Muslim woman named Aqsa Mahmood is suspected of recruiting young women to join her in the Islamic State as “jihadi brides.” The BBC identified her in a February report as a “Scottish woman,” which means that she made her way from the land of her birth to join up with a group that has declared war upon Great Britain and the rest of the non-Muslim world.

Despite the BBC’s ready identifier of her nationality, however, it is extremely unlikely that Aqsa Mahmood considers herself a Scot in any way other than geographically. She almost certainly grew up in a Muslim area and was taught Islamic values, including the idea that one’s allegiance to Islam transcends all other allegiances, and that one is a member of the international Muslim community, the umma, before being anything else. Those ideas go along with distaste that the “best of people” (Qur’an 3:110) should have for the jahiliyya, the society of the “most vile of created beings” (Qur’an 98:6) — unbelievers.

Simply by going to the Islamic State, Aqsa Mahmood showed that she clearly rejects a great deal of what most Scots would consider essential to what it means to be a Scot.

Yet for the BBC, she is as Scottish as William Wallace and Mary Queen of Scots — reflecting a key dogma of the Left: that sociocultural values are the same everywhere, and thus it is only geography that makes for nationality. Move a Russian to Poland, and presto, his children will be Polish.

The Western intelligentsia believes that if Aqsa Mahmood’s parents move to Scotland, and Aqsa is born there, Aqsa will grow up Scottish, with Scottish values — and that if she doesn’t, it is the fault of Scottish authorities, who declined to allow him to assimilate because of their racism. The idea that Aqsa’s parents (despite their protestations in reports about her activity) and other Muslims in Scotland might have had no interest in assimilating is not allowed to be discussed.

Meanwhile, if a group of Scots moved to Syria and established a small enclave, a Little Scotland within Syria, and had children born in Syria, would their children be considered Syrians, open and shut, without question? Would the BBC refer to them as Syrians, as in “a Syrian man, Alexander Burns”?

And will there be an honest discussion in the mainstream media about the relationship between Muslims’ allegiance to Islam and loyalty to the non-Muslim states in which they reside? Inconceivable – and that means that Aqsa Mahmood and Hasan Edmonds will not be the last Muslims to turn against their country, any more than they were the first.

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image illustrations via shutterstock / 

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Are Stay-at-Home Moms Making a Difference in Their Kids’ Lives? New Study Says No

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

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 ”Does the amount of time children spend with their mothers matter for children’s developmental outcome?” The answer, according to researchers, is an emphatic no.

Under the microscope of this new study is what the researchers termed “intensive mothering” and its impact primarily on children ages 3-11:

Indeed, this ideology of intensive mothering –the belief that the proper development of children requires mothers lavishing large amounts of time and energy on offspring (Hays, 1996)— is pervasive in American culture, is central to the spirited debates over whether maternal employment harms children (Bianchi, 2000), and is embodied in the “Mommy Wars,” an alleged dispute between homemaker and employed mothers in which the former are said to accuse the latter of being selfish and harming children by being away from home too often (Hays, 1996). Journal of Marriage and Family

The study measured the quantity of time mothers spent with their children and compared that with the desired outcomes of academic achievement, behavior, and emotional well-being. The study concluded that “ideology of intensive mothering” (defined as lavishing large quantities of time on one’s offspring) not only had no bearing on the stated desired outcome, but in some cases was considered detrimental.

Researchers told the Washington Post their findings should relieve a lot of guilt for working parents. The study states cases deemed harmful were with children spending their time with emotionally drained mothers. It’s important to note that these were not just stay-at-home moms, but women who felt stressed, guilt-ridden and sleep-deprived.

Imagine that.

It wouldn’t surprise me if many, if not most of the mothers in the study are “helicopter” parents.

Mothering young children is intensive. It evolves over time. The desired outcome can’t be measured by academic success or the mental stability of an adolescent.

The deposit slips invested in a child’s life by a good mother are most accurately tallied when life is done.

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Photo credit, Shutterstock, Frank Fennema

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