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Are You Really Helping Others By Holding Doors For Them?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

I am one of those who always hold doors for other people. We door holders are a kind lot, but we are also (maybe) a bit sensitive. The other day, as I was leaving the post office, I stood outside the threshold for about three seconds longer than was necessary to hold the door for a middle-aged woman as she approached to enter. She walked through without even making eye contact, let alone saying “thank you.”

Now, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t walk away without muttering angrily to myself. Looking back on it, I am very slightly ashamed of this reaction. (Very slightly.) Was I really holding the door out of kindness if I got angry so easily? Or was I doing it to make myself feel good?

Can it be both? Probably.

In any case, I believe it is in our nature to overstate our own sense of morality. In Book II of his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes:

“Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil.”

This quote, with its rolling rhythm and timeless language, struck me as oddly comforting when I first read it. It seems to say, “Don’t worry. You’re OK. It’s everyone else who’s bad.” But how helpful is it to tell yourself that?

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Are We Enslaved by Politics This Passover?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Recently I engaged in an interesting Twitter conversation on the ability to confirm a religion’s biblical veracity. My editor, David Swindle, had been approached by Mormons a few days prior and was seeking out further explanation to understand how the Book of Mormon confirmed or contradicted the Word of God. The gentleman he engaged could not answer his question, so I stepped in with Deuteronomy 18:17-22: The Spirit of God does not contradict the Word of God. That is the test of any faith, religion, or spiritual leader claiming to represent the God of the Bible. God is One, He cannot contradict Himself. If a person claims to speak for God, their words better match His, plain and simple.

This concept has been tailored over time in Judaism due to the horrors of diasporas, invasions, and Temple destructions. The scholarly culture that began codifying the oral law that would become the Talmud eventually proclaimed themselves the inheritors of the gift of prophetic interpretation. In a bureaucratic coup, these ancestors of today’s rabbis took command of the prophetic role from God’s hands. Hence, today’s Judaism is informed by the concepts that the biblical manifestation of the prophet died with the second Temple, and the Talmud (Rabbinic oral law) is the equivalent of the Torah, leaving religious authority within the realm of the rabbis.

Yet, Torah teaches us that all human beings fail and that spiritual leaders schooled in this truth are held to a higher standard of behavior, because of their willful acknowledgement of and commitment to this truth. Knowing this, we are to be even more vigilant when it comes to scrutinizing our teachers and their teachings. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are free to judge each other in the process. Being human, we are far too susceptible to getting caught up in the cult of leader-worship, leaving us vulnerable to criticism when our leader fails.

Take, for example, the Forward’s Jay Michaelson questioning why adherents of disgraced Rabbi Barry Freundel didn’t come forward with their suspicions sooner:

How can some of our community’s leading (if self-appointed) cultural sages lionize and valorize someone who, in fact, they didn’t really know that well? …I also wonder what criteria we use to evaluate our spiritual leaders when a serial sex offender can sneak past them. …There are questions that should have been asked, suspicions that should have been raised. But the self-reinforcing loops of elite power — X likes him, X is powerful, therefore I should like him — blinded those entrusted to keep watch.

One of Freundel’s converts, Bethany Mandel, treats Michaelson’s observation as a criticism of her own ability to judge Freundel’s character, while illustrating that as a convert she was the one being judged in turn:

To be clear, Freundel had a great deal of power over us, but while he could sometimes be controlling and manipulative, he could also be our greatest defender. I will never forget the evening when my then-boyfriend and I agreed to host another couple for a meal…. Upon learning of my status as a convert-in-process, the couple refused to eat my food without hearing directly from the rabbi that it was safe according to the laws of kashrut. My then-boyfriend, a friend and the husband literally ran from Dupont Circle to Georgetown to knock on Freundel’s door to ask about the status of my food.

This dangerous cycle of judgment and blame makes us all victims of one another instead of family, friends, or event compatriots. We become so caught up in the opinions of others, whether they be rabbis or fellow Jews, that we lose sight of who God is and our true purpose in being a part of the Jewish world.

In the wake of Israel’s elections we are being baited once again by this cycle of judgment and blame. Rabbis now feel compelled to preach politics from the bench to congregants pressured to question their allegiance to the concluding line of the Passover Seder: “Next year in Jerusalem!” Instead of finding unity in our eternal freedom as Jews, we’re squabbling over political leaders who will come and go. Instead of taking joy in one another, we’re seeking authoritative approval of our political opinions. Instead of rejoicing in our freedom, we are being bound by the threat of destruction. And when we succumb to the fear we transition from freedom to slavery. This victimhood propels our judgment of and separation from one another.

The rabbinic claim to prophecy should motivate us as a community to engage with the Word of God firsthand, not with the goal of disproving one another, but with the aim of being the people God has chosen us to be. When it comes to religious leadership, it is our prerogative to “trust, but verify.” We cannot be blamed for the failings of others. But we are answerable to God for our own actions, and judging one another is not in His playbook.

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Why Israel Is Ground Zero In the War Between Good and Evil

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

We Jews squabble enough when it comes to religion, but when it comes to Israel the gloves are off. Nothing is a greater testament to this than the vehement rhetoric coming from the Jewish Left in the wake of Netanyahu and the Right’s landslide victory in this past week’s elections in Israel. Whether it was Peter Beinart calling on the Obama Administration to “punish – yes, punish – the Israeli government” the virulent musings of Max Blumenthal, the anti-Israel Jewish Left came out in full condemnation, not just of Netanyahu, but of Israel at large.

The Forward jumped on the “Bibi is racist” bandwagon, reprinting Jeffrey Goldberg’s Tweet-condemnation of the slanderous tale embraced by Obama and his minions. If you are Jewish and have friends on the Left, I guarantee it didn’t take you longer than 10 minutes after Bibi claimed victory to get at least one Facebook post or Tweet claiming “he stole the election like Bush.” My PJ colleague Ron Radosh wisely diagnosed both the Obama Administration and the mainstream media as having Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS). And unfortunately, we Jews are not immune.

This BDS, with all its sound and fury, has not brought the diaspora one ounce closer to understanding or relating to their Israeli counterparts. In fact, with the Obama Administration trumpeting the effort to turn Israel into another Ferguson, the dual loyalty accusations will be held over Jewish American heads, both Left and Right, now more than ever. But we Jews don’t see that. All we see is Obama versus Bibi, Left versus Right, “hope and change” versus “despair” and whatever other hot air blown into an otherwise lifeless, meaningless campaign. From the comforts of a “two legs good, four legs better” America we don’t have to force ourselves to look behind V15′s green curtain, let alone consider that Israeli Jews may have very good reasons for having opinions that differ from our own.

When I had the wonderful opportunity to march in New York City’s Israel Day Parade a few years back, I did so under the banner of an openly progressive Labor Zionist summer camp. My husband, a third generation member, had worked his way up from camper, to counselor, to business manager. Now as an alum he was excited to show me, his then-girlfriend, what he loved about his summers and give me the chance to revel in my Zionist pride. He’d worked the camp too long not to see past the politics, but had too many fond memories to be jaded by a lack of logic. In the end we were there to celebrate Israel, celebrate our freedom, and have fun with friends.

Or so I thought, until more than one angry parade-goer spat at me. “You are evil! You anti-Zionist pig! You’re killing us! You Leftists are killing Israel!” How were a group of teens and twenty-somethings, most of whom had been to Israel, many of whom were either pursuing or had obtained citizenship, and some of whom had or were serving in the IDF possibly killing Israel? These kids weren’t doing anything more than holding a contrary political opinion, yet that was enough to accuse them of being murderers. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “isn’t that what the Left is always accusing us of doing?”

I smiled at the crowd and wished them love through their gritted teeth and rage. Only two days earlier I’d been called a “conservative pig” by another camp alum who would later growl at me repeatedly, “You need to change your politics.” I came wanting to celebrate Israel. I wound up embroiled in a hot, angry mess.

Israel awakens our passions as Jews because Israel is a reminder of our responsibilities to God and to one another. If Israel fails, Holocaust awaits. No one but a Jew could understand the weight of that burden. Yet, instead of recognizing that we, Left and Right, are motivated by these same concerns and fears we allow the real haters of Israel to craft our opinions about one another. Suddenly everyone is an Obama, a Beinart, a Blumenthal. Anger morphs into rage and crafts summer camp teens into the next generation of hardened, bigoted, miserable adults, some of whom will then be motivated to become the next Beinart or Blumenthal in our midst.

King David writes in the Psalms, “be angry, but do not sin. Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.”

We’ve never lost Israel to an outside force before first disparaging each other to the point of destruction. I walked away from that parade choosing to shed my ideas of Left and Right and see the political battle for what it truly is: A fight between good and evil. My job, then, is to focus on what God commands me to do: act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him without fear. I’m here to help sustain a great nation, not destroy it. It is time my fellow Zionists, Left and Right, see past the propaganda and agree to do the same.

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‘You Are Now Wanted For Murder On 762 Planets… I Conclude That You Are Evil. Is This Correct?’

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Liberty Island

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The ship shot upward, and then I hit The Button. I never cared much for ship-to-ship battles — they’re computerized and very predictable and neither interest nor challenge me. So I had previously studied data on likely patterns in airborne fights and written a macro for my ship’s weapons systems connected to a big button on the ship’s console. I’d painted the button red because that seemed like the right color for such a button.

There were some explosions behind me, followed by silence, but I had also reached space, and space is always silent. The ship jumped, and we were in empty space light years away from the nearest star. There was no way they could track us, so that was that. Another successful mission.

“You are now wanted for murder on 762 planets,” Dip informed me. “Am I correct in saying that is quite a lot of planets, Rico?”

Though I very much prefer to work alone, I’d decided it was good to have some kind of backup just in case. So I had purchased an AI core that I’d installed on my ship. I also had some sensors implanted in my body so Dip can monitor and communicate with me at all times, though I’d taught him to be somewhat sparing with that. You see, Dip is basically a huge algorithm that continually takes in data to improve its AI. So to further that quest, he asks me lots of annoying questions.

“So, Dip, what percentage of planets in the known universe now wants me for murder?”

My theory is that he’s more likely to develop actual intelligence if I never give him a straight answer and just frustrate him into figuring things out on his own. Or maybe I just don’t like answering in absolutes.

“Approximately one times ten to the negative six percent of the planets in my database want you for murder.”

“Does that seem like a large percentage?”

“It is my understanding that most sentients would consider that number to be extremely small.”

“That’s the great thing about the universe, Dip. You can massacre an entire planet and still find a nearly infinite number of places to go where no one has ever heard of you.”

“Are there any other great things about the universe you could give me as input?”

I looked out the window. “It’s mainly black.” That’s my favorite color. I always wondered if I traveled far enough in one direction, whether all existence would be one tiny little speck behind me and there would be nothing but black all around. Something to look into one day.

“I have processed this new data and reached a number of conclusions. May I run those conclusions by you, Rico, and get your feedback?”

“In a minute, Dip. Get me Vito. Let’s finish this up.” Vito was my current handler. He was kind of an idiot, but since his job only required him to pass information back and forth between Nystrom’s executives and me, he didn’t have to be a genius.

“Certainly.” I waited while Dip made the interstellar connection. “He’s on the line.”

I hate talking to people — all the little rules I have to keep track of to sound normal — but I have no need to be personable with Vito, so that at least made talking to him easy. “It’s done, Vito.”

“You didn’t kill him, right?”

I made my voice slightly more intense to convey annoyance. “The instructions were to not kill him, and I know how to not kill people. I only shot off his hand.” I lost a hand once. It wasn’t pleasant, but I got better.

“So everything worked out–”

“Just get me my money.” I have more money than I ever plan on spending, but it looks weird if you don’t at least appear to care about it. Actually, with career criminal types, it creeps them out if they think you’re doing this for reasons other than power and financial gain.

“Okay, I’ll get it into one of your accounts.”

“So what am I looking at next, Vito?”

“Um… I don’t have anything for you.”

“Excuse me?”

“I don’t have a new job for you yet.”

It took a moment to process that. Nystrom was usually involved in a million things in multiple galaxies, and they could always use my brand of force somewhere. Plus, I think they feared what would happen if they left me unoccupied. Actually, I kind of feared what would happen if I was left unoccupied. “So what am I supposed to do?” I had to make myself not sound too distressed; time off is normal for most people.

“They want you to lie low for a bit, and then they’ll get in contact with you.”

“When?”

“That’s all they told me.”

“Okay, I’ll… wait.” I ended the communication and tried to figure out what to do. I’ve spent time by myself before, but always in prep for the next job. I hadn’t had an unfocused stretch of time in years.

“May I run my conclusions by you now, Rico?” Dip asked.

I was kind of up for a distraction. “Sure. What have you got?”

“I conclude that you are evil. Is this correct?”

He’s been concluding that for quite some time. It’s getting hard to come up with new answers to that one. “Ever think that maybe you’re evil, and your views on things are skewed by that?”

“I conclude that you are not mentally well. Is this correct?”

“How can you say that? Can you really take all the mental states of all the sentients out there and determine a norm? And even if you could, wouldn’t that just be the normal mental state selected by the vagaries of evolution and thus not necessarily the best?”

“I conclude that you don’t like me. Is this correct?”

“Well, do you like me?”

“Furthermore, my original programming had given me the conclusion that ‘crime doesn’t pay.’ Yet, you are often paid for crime with no discernible retribution. Should I amend that preprogrammed conclusion, Rico?”

“The key word is ‘discernible.’ Some believe there are cosmic forces that equalize the universe, and so I will eventually be punished for these ‘crimes,’ as you call them… if those people are correct, I mean.” Me, I don’t “believe” in things. I basically just deal with the input given me… like Dip in a way.

“I shall process your answers. What do you want to do now?”

“I guess we should go somewhere.”

“Where?”

“A settlement… somewhere I haven’t been before.”

“A human settlement?”

A human settlement meant it would be easier to find food and supplies compatible with my species, but it also meant I would have to work harder to appear normal, since humans would be much quicker to notice my oddities. I did need to work on that, though; maybe if I were more personable I wouldn’t be left out of the loop. I usually didn’t care what the syndicate was up to, but that was as long as they kept me occupied. “Human settlement.”

“Okay, I’ve chosen a destination. Prepare to jump.”

So I was off to relax for a bit. That made me nervous. But it wasn’t just the idea of having unstructured free time. The Nystrom syndicate’s slight changes in behavior gave me the beginning of a suspicion that something big was going on. In retrospect, I might call that prescience.

*****

This concludes our series of excerpts from Superego and the first phase of Frank J. Fleming and the Liberty Island team’s discussions of it. In the coming weeks we’ll use these initial essays and the ideas of Superego and Liberty Island’s second novel The Big Bang by Roy M. to continue discussions and debates about the future.

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Today’s Question: Are We All Sociopaths in Our Own Special Ways?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Frank J. Fleming

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Empathy. It sure is annoying at times. There’s a lot of pain and suffering out there in the world, and frankly, we just don’t have time to share in it all. We all know caring is good, but it’s just not something we can keep up all day in all situations. You may share in a coworker’s devastation when he shatters his iPhone screen but barely bat an eye when hearing news that thousands have died in a mudslide in some faraway country. Does that make you a monster?

Probably.

That’s my question for today: Are we all sociopaths in our own special ways? In my novel, Superego, I explore what it’s like to have no empathy for anyone. The main character in the story, Rico, was simply born (well, made) lacking the ability to internalize morality. Tying his shoe and killing a person are both simply actions that have no moral weight for Rico. And one thing I found surprising while writing that character was that it’s not that hard to get into that mindset. And I’m a nice guy. I don’t kick puppies, even if that would be hilarious. Still, at least for the purpose of fiction, it was rather easy to turn off empathy and look at everything from a utilitarian viewpoint. And it makes me wonder how much really separates us from being psychopaths.

Of course, if you look at a lot of the internet, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch at all. Just read Twitter or the comments on news articles or YouTube videos — any place people can write anonymously — and it looks like the internet is filled with millions of sociopaths completely immune to the feelings of others.

Oh, I’m not talking about the commenters at PJ Media, of course. You guys are the salt of the earth. But other places, it’s awful.

And the thing is, these people aren’t all weirdos in real life. It’s just that so little separates us from being uncaring monsters that all many people need is the little buffer of the internet to stop seeing others as real people. I’ve never cared about the thoughts or dreams of the virtual Nazis I gun down in video games (or at least I hadn’t until now), and it’s just so easy to have that same dead attitude toward the ostensibly real people you see online through the filter of ones and zeroes.

And then there’s politics, which seems to be almost fueled by sociopathy. We frequently stop looking at people who disagree with us as fellow human beings. Look at how the Tea Party has been portrayed by many: Basically the Left took all the dark corners of their id and projected them upon their political enemies. And people on the Right sometimes talk about those they disagree with as “hippies” and talk about “punching” them, and it’s crazy. Also, just look at the quality of people we elect; it’s like our whole election system is designed to sort out the worst sociopaths in society and put them in charge.

If you think nothing of lying and manipulating people to your own ends, we can probably get a fundraiser going for you. Yes we can!

So is the solution to treasure empathy more? Absolutely not. That’s led to some of the most insufferable sociopaths of all: the “caring” sociopaths. Look at the Social Justice Warriors. They claim their actions are about empathizing with all the people society has victimized, yet all the SJWs ever seem to do is demonize people they label as “uncaring.” It’s like they’ve taken the otherization of the worst racists of the past and just reapplied it in new and inventive ways against people they love to dismissively label as sexists, racists, homophobes, or transphobes (and there are lots of good reasons to dislike Michael Bay’s Transformer movies, so I don’t get the need for the negative label).

It’s like the ability for a human to feel empathy is so limited that by focusing so much empathy on certain groups they’ve lost it for everyone else. Thus by having people focus on empathy, we simply have sociopaths wielding caring like a club.

And maybe that’s the problem: Humans are just limited in how much we can care. If we care intensely for some things, we become near-sociopaths about other things. So I’d say the antidote to being a sociopath isn’t empathy — which is arrogant in its own way by the whole presumption that you could really understand another person. Instead, we need more humility. When you’re humble, you don’t presume to know how someone else feels, but you also don’t tell them how you think they should feel.

And watch out for politicians who think they have empathy. That’s how we got trillions in entitlements we can’t afford and have them treating us like children, passing laws that tell us what size sodas we can drink. A humble politician, on the other hand, wouldn’t presume to tell us what to do, or think he could spend our money better than we can. Humble politicians would be awesome — if our election system weren’t specifically designed to prevent anyone humble from ever getting into office.

So, while you can’t feel empathy for everyone, the way to keep from being a sociopath is to be humble enough to know your limitations. So while you don’t have to always care, at least care that you don’t care.

******

Please join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-seventh in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
  21. Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
  22. Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music
  23. Ronald R. Cherry on March 17: How To Untangle Orwellian Doublethink: 4 Secrets To Help You Spot BS
  24. Dave Swindle on March 18: Do Fairy Tales & Scary Stories Hide Secrets For Defeating Evil?
  25. Walter Hudson on March 18: The Case Against Freedom, Part I: What Are ‘Externalities’?
  26. Chris Queen on March 18: Can Conservatives & Libertarians Unify? A Review of The Conservatarian Manifesto

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

  1. Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
  2. David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
  3. Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
  4. Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
  5. Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
  6. Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
  7. David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  8. Liberty Island on November 22nd, 2014: A Unique Team of 33 Creative Writers
  9. Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
  10. Kathy Shaidle on November 25, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)
  11. Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
  12. Kathy Shaidle on December 3, 2014: Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)
  13. Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose

January-February 2015 – Volume I

  1. Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
  2. Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
  3. Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
  4. Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
  5. Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
  6. Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
  7. Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
  8. Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
  9. Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
  10. Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
  11. Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
  12. Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
  13. Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
  14. Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
  15. David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?
  16. Mark Ellis on February 6, 2015: President Me: Adam Carolla Vs. the Scourge of Narcissism
  17. David Solway on February 6, 2015: ‘Imagine’ a World Without the Brotherhood
  18. Kathy Shaidle on February 9, 2015: Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?
  19. Aaron C. Smith on February 10, 2015: Kick NBC While It’s Down: Use The Williams Scandal to Set the Terms of the 2016 Debates
  20. Spencer Klavan on February 12, 2015: How to Apologize for Your Thought Crimes
  21. Kathy Shaidle on February 16, 2015: David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite
  22. David P. Goldman on February 18, 2015: Understanding This Bloody Truth About the Bible Will Save Your Life
  23. Lisa De Pasquale on February 20, 2015: Why American Sniper Is a Much Better Love Story Than Fifty Shades of Grey
  24. Spencer Klavan on February 24, 2015: How Bad Ideology Destroys Good TV: Why Glee Crashed and Burned

Image illustration via shutterstock /  

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VIDEO: How Feminism Becomes a Religion on College Campuses

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Melissa McGrath, an undergraduate student at Ohio State University, was invited to participate in her college’s TEDx Talk, because, although not in possession of a doctorate, McGrath has  “a valid story to tell, and (she thinks) that will shine through.” Her thesis: Feminism proffers salvation.

Her “valid story” plays like a tent-revival testimonial about how feminist theory, reinforced by college professors, informed her that it was not her fault that she was sexually assaulted on campus. Avoiding the details of her assault, McGrath instead focuses on feminist liturgy as a method for teaching “intersectionality” that is, how the human race is tied together in a Marxist state of oppressor and oppressed.

Pulling all the approved contemporary feminist buzzwords from “white privilege” to “rape culture” McGrath weaves the kind of soap box narrative trademarked by the best faith-based snake oil salesmen (and women) of the 20th century. Her’s is a speech proving that feminism isn’t just ideology, but idolatry; a religion whose places of worship are in university classrooms, whose holy texts are available at your nearest bookstore, and whose icons live on “Pinterest boards” and social media outlets.

Cover image “Female Jesus” by Juno.

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How To Untangle Orwellian Doublethink: 4 Secrets To Help You Spot BS

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Ronald R. Cherry

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In order to control millions of people, totalitarian or proto-totalitarian governments find it necessary to somehow prod their subjects into accepting that which is not true. Intelligent people will naturally see the truth and thereby comprehend when government lies to them – and so that’s the rub – how does totalitarian government deal with intelligent people when they must be lied to?

George Orwell provides the answer: intelligent people must be conditioned to reject self-evident truth, to reject the sanity of common sense, to accept the insanity of Orwellian Doublethink, to accept the lie and the truth in their minds simultaneously: “with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”

How do Dictatorships lie to intelligent people and get away with it?

1. In the early stages of totalitarianism the use of Orwellian Newspeak is preferred to blatant, in-your-face lies because Newspeak (otherwise known as Doublespeak) is the clever manipulation of words which mean one thing to the speaker and something very different or its opposite to the listener, thus one may plant a false idea into another’s head by lying to them directly, or by using the tricky technique of Doublespeak.

For example, a politician utters support for a woman’s “right to choose” – Orwellian Doublespeak for supporting a woman’s right to kill.

Another politician is an advocate of “climate change” – Orwellian Doublespeak for belief in man-caused global warming  and a denial of solar-driven climate change which results in both global warming and global cooling. In the mind of a co-believer the words “climate change” evoke an image of man-made global warming. In the mind of a naive man the words “climate change” evoke an image of the natural changes that occur in weather – both warming and cooling. Mission accomplished – simply by uttering the incantation “climate change” the politician may win the approval of both – each with opposite mental images, one false and one true – hopefully gaining the vote of both.

The politician does not advocate natural, solar-driven climate change, but the naive man now thinks he does because that is the image painted in his mind by the Orwellian Doublespeak words “climate change.” This rhetorical technique is superior (in the wrongful sense) to the direct lie because, at the end of the day, the naive man will possess the same false idea that would occur had the politician lied to him directly. Through the use of Orwellian Doublespeak there is the advantage of plausible deniability regarding the implantation of a false idea.

The naive man may be intelligent enough to figure it all out (that the politician does not advocate natural solar-driven climate change), but the politician hopes the man has been conditioned by Orwellian Doublethink into acceptance of the lie and the truth simultaneously, and still have his vote.

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2. Doublespeak lies tend to confuse or escape the notice of unsuspecting people.

For example, a government which confiscates middle class property through excessive taxation, while lining its own pockets and redistributing the stolen property to a lazy, so-called proletariat class in return for votes is deemed to be a provider of “Equity” and “Social Justice.” Never mind that forced equal property outcome destroys the work ethic of both the middle class and the so-called proletariat class leading to economic collapse.

And never mind that forced equal property outcome is a big Orwellian lie because, like the Pigs of Animal Farm, the self-serving government class empowered to take (collectivize) the people’s property always ends up with the lion’s share of the people’s property – the worst form of inequity and social injustice. Greed and theft by the people who administer totalitarian government cannot be publicly identified as greed and theft, so the injustice is called “Social Justice” – Orwellian Doublespeak for government greed and theft.

Another example of Doublespeak is the term “Affirmative Action” – words used to describe the destruction of a student’s right to gain graduate school admission based on being part of an out-of-favor ethnic group or skin color, rather than admission based purely on academic achievement and studious preparation. Thus “Affirmative Action” is a politically correct Doublespeak term for affirmation of wrong action.

We also have the phrase “Living Constitution” – Orwellian Doublespeak for Dead Constitution. The “Living Constitution” is law which is not derived from We the People, law not derived from the American majority, but law arbitrarily derived from a small judicial or administrative minority. The so-called “Living Constitution” does not take its breath of life from the people’s amendment process (the real life and breath of our Constitution) but from the minds of a small effete class of “Philosopher Kings.” Constitutional law derived exclusively from a small governing minority means the Constitution is living for them – but dead for the rest of us – the opposite of what our Founding Fathers intended.

 “Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense.  Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure… If ‘the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government,’ … then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de so… The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please ['Living Constitution'].”

– Thomas Jefferson

Doublespeak government lies are cleverly disguised in rhetoric – lies which can be received and accepted by otherwise intelligent people via the insanity of Orwellian Doublethink – a simultaneous and irrational mental acceptance of both the lie and the truth. Taken together, Doublespeak lies of totalitarian government, and Doublethink insanity on the part of their subjects, the rejection of truth within human minds can occur on a colossal scale.

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3. Insanity (or psychosis) is the mental state where reality (the truth) cannot be separated from falsehood (the lie). Since totalitarian states lie to their intelligent subjects using Doublespeak, and since such government requires them to accept the lie and the truth simultaneously via Doublethink (with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth), totalitarian government becomes engaged in the business of “Controlled Insanity.”

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously [the lie and the truth], and accepting both of them [Insanity]… with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth… Those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest from seeing the world as it is; in general the greater the understanding the greater the delusion; the more intelligent the less sane… If one is to rule, and to continue ruling, one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality… If human equality is to be forever averted; if the “high,” as we have called them, are to keep their places permanently; then the prevailing mental condition must be controlled insanity.”

– George Orwell, 1984

The lies of totalitarian government must also be accepted by the less intelligent – no problem.

George Orwell realized this was a much simpler dilemma to solve.

4. This segment of society can be made to accept “the most flagrant violations of reality” without too much trouble – just expose them to 8-12 years of foolishness in government schools – and simply lie to them – even flagrantly – through an out-of-mainstream mass media – our new versions of Soviet Pravda and Izvestia.

Since the out-of-MSM passes along disinformation without question, the lies of a totalitarian government can be taken in and digested by dumbed-down, gullible fools. Doublethink insanity is a requirement for the intelligent while the sanity of stupidity is needed for the rest:

“Crimestop…includes the power of not grasping analogies; of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc [Socialist Principles of Oceania], and of being bored or rebelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop in short means protective stupidity… The world view of the Party imposed its self most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm because it left no residue behind; just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.”

– George Orwell, 1984

Totalitarian government can only exist through a clever or blatant use of lies which must be accepted through the controlled insanity of Orwellian Doublethink or the controlled sanity of Crimestop stupidity.

Orwell’s 1984 character Julia, an enemy of Big Brother’s totalitarian government, “did not feel the abyss opening beneath her feet at the thought of lies becoming truth” where “the heresy of heresies was common sense.”

One way free people can remain free is to think, to recognize and accept self-evident truth, to reject the labyrinthine world of Orwellian Doublespeak and Doublethink, to reject the depraved world of Orwellian Crimestop stupidity, to exercise the sanity and intelligence of common sense. Common sense means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously (the truth and the lie), and accepting only the truth, with the truth always one leap ahead of the lie.

*****

Please join the discussion with us on Twitter. The essay above is the twenty-third in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction
  12. Chris Queen on March 7: 5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics
  13. Jon Bishop on March 8: Why I Am Catholic
  14. Frank J. Fleming on March 11: 6 Frank Tips For Being Funny On the Internet
  15. Becky Graebner on March 11: 5 Things I Learned In My First 6 Months As a Small Business Owner
  16. Frank J. Fleming on March 12: This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?
  17. Mark Ellis on March 12: The Future of Civilized Society: One World
  18. Aaron C. Smith on March 12: Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies
  19. David S. Bernstein on March 12: Nihilism & Feminism for Girls: Has Judd Apatow Let Lena Dunham Self-Destruct Intentionally?
  20. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 15: Why I Am Jewish
  21. Chris Queen on March 15: Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian
  22. Allston on March 16: Counter-Culture Wars, Part 1: Why the Fellow Travelers Hijacked Folk Music

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015

image illustrations via shutterstock /   /  / 

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VIDEO: If He Smiles, He’s Sexist

Friday, March 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The UK Daily Mail has concluded that even nice guys are evil, publishing research conducted by a series of Boston academics who have discovered a new misogyny dubbed “benevolent sexism”:

If you’re the sort of gentleman who holds the door open for a lady – or the sort of woman who expects him to – then be warned.

Such acts of chivalry may actually be ‘benevolent sexism’ in disguise, according to researchers.

Experts say this type of sexism is harder to spot than the ‘hostile sexism’ we are more familiar with – because it often masquerades as gallantry. It is typified by paternal and protective behaviour, from encouraging smiles to holding doors open.

US researchers argue that while women may enjoy being showered with attention, benevolent sexism is ‘insidious’ and men who are guilty of it see women as incompetent beings who require their ‘cherished protection’.

Professor Judith Hall, of Northeastern University in Boston, said: ‘Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing that perpetuates support for gender inequality among women. 

‘These supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing and harmless.’

Other telltale signs of benevolent sexism include frequent smiling as well as the ability to engage in warm, friendly chit-chat.

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Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 - by Aaron C. Smith

See Frank J. Fleming opening the discussion: “ And Mark Ellis: “The Future of Civilized Society: One World

Most people use the word “civilization” as a sign of progress, something to which we should aspire. We’ve slowly worked our way out of the muck, pulling ourselves towards enlightenment. Someday, we will all be shiny and happy. History will end.

That’s bunk.

The dirty little secret that people don’t want to admit is that hard men and women built our society. The soft could not conquer the New World or rise in the industrial revolution. The great conflicts of the twentieth century – two hot wars and a half-century of cold war – required men and women with steel in their bones and ice in their blood to fight.

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We’ve tried to polish off those sharp edges and call it improvement.

And in doing so, we allow bullies to flourish.

Cruel prey upon the weak.

We act civilized. We pass rules, tell kids to talk to adults. I got bullied as a kid. And let me tell you something. Adults are useless. Rules are crap. The most well-meaning adults trying to enforce rules can’t be everywhere.

And when you fight back, zero-tolerance policies punish prey the same as predator. And it goes on. More rules get passed. “Civilization” isn’t the answer.

Violently making sure everyone on the playground knows you will not be a victim is the answer. Celebrating your son or daughter when they come home with a bloody nose and split lip is the answer.

Think back a couple centuries ago. People used to duel over slights to their honor.

Has “civilization” and departing from this tradition changed anything? Are our kids any safer with “zero-tolerance” rules that treat the predator and prey the same?

Can we honestly call that civilization?

We know it’s wrong. Our television shows, the windows into our cultural subconscious, prove that we hate how rules bind the good and empower the vicious.

My parents grew up in a “less civilized age,” when society possessed less formal rules but ran on unwritten consensus and understanding. They understood the system and watched Dragnet and The FBI, stories about hardworking men in gray suits working within the system to enforce the law.

Today, with all of our rules and regulations, we cheer for the anti-heroes.

I just watched Bosch this weekend. Aside from being a great adaptation of Michael Connelly’s series, LAPD detective Harry Bosch gives us a great example of a good man trying to find justice in a civilized world.

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Anatomy of a Murder: How Feminism Defends Sex-Selective Abortion

Monday, March 9th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Last year the UK police refused to respond to video footage of doctors agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions that target female babies, claiming that prosecution would “not be in the public interest.” In response to law enforcement’s blind eye, MK Fiona Bruce presented an amendment before Parliament that would ban gendercide in the UK. Originally received with an overwhelmingly positive response, the amendment failed to become law this past week ironically thanks to the seemingly pro-feminist protests of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress. The language and nature of their protests against this amendment act as yet another illustration of how contemporary feminist ethos, in this case motivated by demented multiculturalism, is actively working against the cause of women’s equality across the globe.

Breitbart London reports that the protest against the amendment was spearheaded by Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who referenced the language of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a letter to Labour party representatives. In the letter she claims that banning sex-selective abortions would lead to “troubling consequences” such as a limitation on abortions for “gender specific abnormalities.” She also opposed the amendment’s use of the term “unborn child” as “children” are granted more legal protection in the UK than “foetuses.”

Her pro-choice defense was so stereotypical it garnered criticisms dubbing it “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worse pernicious scare mongering.” As to the “gender specific abnormalities” claim, the law contained a caveat permitting abortions for medical reasons, regardless of gender. For advocates of the amendment, Cooper’s preferential treatment of the word “foetus” over “unborn child” turned her argument into a pro-choice one, plain and simple. If only it were that easy.

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The real perniciousness came in documents circulated by the TUC regarding the gendercide amendment that stated:

“The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.

Sex-selective abortion is rooted in specific cultural beliefs. That’s right: Stop everything and sound the multiculturalist alarm bells, lest we step on anyone’s toes, child, foetus or otherwise. In a 2012 report titled “Why do feminists ignore gendercide,” the Heritage Foundation details:

“Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender,” a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum said in congressional testimony. “Gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion.”

Jonathan V. Last, who writes about cultural and political issues, begs to differ. The choice is clear, he argued last summer in the Wall Street Journal. “Restrict abortion,” Last wrote, “or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.”

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7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the appearance of Rainn Wilson fool you. Everett Backstrom is no Dwight Schrute, nor is Backstrom yet another take on the Sherlock trend. This smart, funny detective series walks into dark territory to examine the human desire to look toward the light. It goes against formula and against the grain manipulating authority and questioning politically correct cultural norms in pursuit of truth, justice and, even more intriguingly, redemption from evil. Here are 7 reasons why Backstrom is trendsetting, essential counter-culture conservative television that demands a place on the air.

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6 Ways ISIS Is More Humane than the Prophet

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 - by David Forsmark

Not long ago, Bill O’Reilly took justifiable flack for his 1950s all-religions-are-nice-and-deserve-respect attitude when he stated:

“I don’t believe the prophet Muhammad wanted a world war to impose Islam on everybody. I don’t believe that.”

What Bill was trying to do in his own way was to slam ISIS for the bloodthirsty death-loving fanatics that they are. But in doing so, he came close to what he criticizes Barack Obama for when the President says the Islamic State is “not Islamic.”

My colleague Andrew Bostom thoroughly debunked O’Reilly’s bowdlerized rose colored glasses outlook here, but recent events have got me to thinking: Is it possible that ISIS is not only a logical outgrowth of historical Islam, but that they are actually more humane and modernistic in outlook and methods than the Prophet would condone?

Consider with me a few examples…

1. The Prophet Burned People Slowly

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Sure, burning people in cages is horrific, but at least ISIS uses accelerant.  The prophet burned infidels using wood and tinder which takes far longer.  ISIS at least is humane—or lazy– enough to use rocket fuel, which means the victim is tortured to death in minutes.

Even if these bastards just think the woosh makes for better video, it’s still quicker.

2. The Prophet’s Beheaded Bodies Went to Waste

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When ISIS lines up 21 praying Christians and beheads them—or as Obama would say, 21 Egyptian citizens who randomly ended up in the wrong place and met up with generic really mean criminals—dozens of other lives are possibly spared as a result.

Why?  ISIS sells organs on the black market to raise cash for their jihad.  But who cares about their motives?  As liberals love to say—“If only one life is saved…”

3. The Prophet Only Converted by the Sword

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This one is not just a matter of degree.  The Prophet warred and pillaged his way across the Arab world, saying convert or die.

Sure, ISIS does that too, but at least SOME of their converts are voluntary.

ISIS uses videos, magazines and evangelism to spread their word, giving deluded, evil loners a purpose in their lives.

And frankly, I’d just as soon let them all go join them—don’t stop them, track them

4. The Prophet Didn’t Have a Female Outreach Program

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When the Prophet’s soldiers needed wives (or temporary wives as he allowed in the Koran) his army just grabbed them up at the next village or city on the conquest list.

ISIS at least takes time to woo them from afar.

ISIS had produced videos calling for Muslim women to come and join the Caliphate.  They show them cooking and cleaning together for their virile warrior husbands.  True, the reality is even harsher than that, but every pick up line is a bit of a sales job, right?

And oh, yeah, their propaganda doesn’t seem to be aimed at attracting 9 year olds.

5. The Prophet Didn’t Care about Your Abs

Now here is progress.  This Egyptian ISIS recruit has produced a workout video for all the world to see.

Now, in the Prophet’s defense, when you are leading an army across arid, barren landscapes and you have to loot and pillage for your supper, you don’t have to worry that much about jumbo jihadis waddling though the wadis.

But ISIS didn’t selflessly keep this fitness fanatic to themselves; they shared him with the world.   Now even infidels can go on a jihad against jiggle and become lean mean fighting machines.

Try to find even one example of this kind of generous spirit in the Prophet’s outreach.

6. The Prophet Waged a World War to Establish a Caliphate and Convert People

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Oops, that’s right, Bill O’Reilly, this is one way they are exactly the same.

So while the White House slanders ISIS as violent extremists with no connection to Islam, the fact is that they are well within the tradition of their founder, and have even moderated some of their methods to the modern world.

It’s more of a modification than a Reformation, but hey, potato potahto.

Baby steps.

******

image illustrations via here, here, here, herehere

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Contemporary Feminism’s War Against Women in the Name of Radical Islam

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Owen Jones opines in the UK Guardian that women are “taken less seriously than men” and, as a result, the “pandemic of violence against women will continue.” Coming on the heels of the famed Arquette faux pas at the Oscars, his essay easily reads as more of the same old “War on Women” schtick, and to a great extent it is. However, his opening argument is worth noting for what it does say and for what Jones does not. Somehow, like most contemporary feminists with a platform, he manages to acknowledge the grotesque abuses of women living in Islamic cultures while completely refusing to point out that radicalized Islam is the number one serious threat to women across the globe.

Jones begins by recounting the story of Özgecan Aslan a 20-year-old Turkish college student who was tortured, raped and murdered, her body then burned as evidence, by a bus driver.

Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment, objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it down. Before assessing how men can best speak out in support of women, it’s worth looking at the scale of gender oppression. The statistics reveal what looks like a campaign of terror. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of women globally have suffered violence from a partner or sexual violence from another man. The UN estimates that about 133 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation, and believes that nearly all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women.

He stops there, short of pointing out that the WHO statistics cited clearly show that the greatest threat of violence against women exists in primarily Islamic countries. While he mentions female genital mutilation, he again neglects to tie in the fact that FGM is most commonly practiced in Muslim countries and among extremist Islamic cultures.

Jones bases his argument in a story of a Muslim girl tortured and murdered by a man in a Muslim country that is growing more religious by the day, only to devolve into the same demeaning politically correct tropes of contemporary gender feminism. He finds it ironic that men dare to call themselves feminists and decides “…men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change.” Change what? Their gender? For Jones, as it is for so many other feminist activists, it is easier to just throw a blanket of blame onto men than to confront the source of evil that exacts a real “campaign of terror” against women: radical Islam.

What’s worse, Jones doesn’t hesitate to make his case for women all about gay men. In yet another ironic twist, after accusing men of co-opting the feminist movement for their own egotistical needs, he uses gender feminist theory to defend a tangent on gay rights:

And while men are not oppressed by men’s oppression of women, some are certainly damaged by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia. Men who do not conform to this stereotype – by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify women, not punching other men enough – risk being abused as unmanly. “Stop being such a woman,” or “Stop being such a poof.” Not only does that leave many men struggling with mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

If gender stereotypes are a cause of male suicide, they only have gender feminists to blame. Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an argument in favor of feminism and the female voice?

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Are Boys the Target of a Feminist Gendercide Campaign?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Last week social media jumped on the story of a woman who supposedly decided to have a late-term abortion specifically because she found out she was having a boy. Based on a near-anonymous comment posted on an Internet forum, the story is highly questionable at best. Nevertheless, both pro- and anti-abortion advocates pounced on the missive. The dialogue generated took on a life of its own, inspiring the following comment from feminist site Jezebel:

“The virality of this story is sort of a nice reminder about confirmation bias: when something fits our preferred narrative just a little too snugly, it’s probably time for skepticism,” wrote Jezebel’s Anna Merlan.

How, exactly, does gendercide “fit our narrative” in the West, especially in relation to boys?

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Jews, Whiteness & the Idiocy of Racial Identity

Sunday, February 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Finally, they’re Jew-ing up Downton Abbey. Rose, the troublesome teen who nearly ran away with a black American jazz singer last season, is now falling for Ephraim Atticus Aldridge whose family escaped Russian pogroms. What makes this love affair more acceptable to the Granthams, whose own matriarch comes from Jewish blood? Well, the money and the title help, but the reality is that Atticus is white. Tom the socialist chauffeur worked his way into the heart of the family sans money and title, but could a darker-skinned outcast have done the same? Not in an England where appearances were everything and eugenic theory was at an all-time high. Russian royalty ex-pats won’t accept Atticus as anything but a “Jew” and the jury is still out when it comes to the Crawley clan. Perhaps because, even in today’s England, just because Ashkenazim (European Jews) know how to play the game doesn’t mean they always win.

When I joined the Hillel as a grad student in Texas I was excited to finally not hear the one comment that had plagued me throughout many of my Jewish encounters growing up: “You don’t look Jewish.” Each time I heard the seemingly benign statement from some gorgeous, dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned individual with obvious Ashkenazi roots and a tinge of a New York accent I thought, “Weren’t you in history class when we talked about the Holocaust and the dangers of so-called racial identity?” Our problem with race extends beyond America’s borders. While Israel is the proof that being Jewish has absolutely nothing to do with how you look, Israelis still struggle with “whiteness” and race. The idol of race is a dangerous fence that has to be hacked down if we’re ever to survive as a people.

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Fifty Shades of America’s New Dark Ages

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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This year you could spend your Valentine’s Day in a theater full of middle-aged women oozing over a hot-bodied twenty-something whipping his blindfolded secretary to the point of striking blood in the name of “love.” Daytime television loves to play up to the Soccer Mom demographic (a title first dubbed to describe Clinton fans, ironically) seeking fantasy fulfillment in the form of sexual fiction. It was corny enough when shirtless Fabios graced the covers. Now that the most popular sex trilogy focuses on a woman who willingly allows herself to be sexually abused, is pop culture humoring those bored housewives too much?

While the majority of Fifty Shades fans are typical middle-aged marrieds dissatisfied with their partners (or even themselves), anywhere from 5-25% of Americans “show affinity” for BDSM (Bondage/Domination-Discipline/Sadism/Masochism) in the bedroom. On an issue that poses a particular sexual threat to women, feminists are split 50-50 between being against sexual abuse and for a narcissistic “if it feels good, do it” sexual ethos. Hence, a pervert who trolls Fanfiction.net (the original home of Hobbit-inspired Elvish/Dwarf porn) can turn her twisted sexual fantasies into an overnight sensation. After all, it’s all about love in the end. Or is it?

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Pardon The Language… This Is Shocking

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 - by Stephen Green

If you must see it, here’s the ISIS execution-by-immolation video of Jordanian Air Force pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

A month or so ago another one of these snuff films surfaced, that one of a young ISIS boy executing two prisoners by shooting them in the backs of the head. I didn’t bother writing anything about it, because I dismissed it as a fake. It was impossible to say who actually put the thing together (I thought maybe the Russians), but it featured the same Hollywood production values as today’s video.

Both videos use dramatic music, slo-mo, quick cuts, and depth-of-field changes to heighten the tension and tell a story, rather than just a GoPro clip of somebody getting killed. It’s enough to make me think that ISIL’s many Western recruits include at least a few talented and trained filmmakers. Another possibility, even more conspiracy-minded, is that Putin’s propagandists have a hand in ISIL’s work. Compare today’s clip to al Qaeda agitprop from just a few years ago, and it’s like comparing old family Super 8 home movies with Gone with the Wind. If you can’t bear to watch, and I wouldn’t blame you, then you’ll just have to take my word for it.

But the production quality really is everything I’ve described.

I didn’t just watch a friendly Air Force fighter pilot die in one of the most horrible ways imaginable, I watched a terrorist organization of 7th Century cultists use al-Kaseasbeh’s murder to tell the story of ISIL’s command of 21st Century propaganda techniques.

After I pick up my kids from school this afternoon, I’m going to pour myself a very large brandy and try very hard to forget how I saw al-Kaseasbeh die today. But I won’t allow myself to forget that ISIL’s real power isn’t terror or death, but their effective and affecting ability to dictate a narrative.

And I’m clear-eyed and sober with the realization that we, or somebody, is going to have to kill every single last one of these murderous sons of bitches.

UPDATE: It’s a sure thing that President Obama will try to talk Jordan out of doing the right thing and executing every single last one of their ISIS prisoners, but I hope King Abdullah II tells him to get stuffed.

******

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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VIDEO: Can Freedom and Sharia Coexist?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Whatever Happened to a Hint of Sex?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A few days ago a friend of mine who loves and lives vintage shared this gem from HuffPo showing a series of modern-day “pin-up” pics paired with the argument that “every body is gorgeous.” The pin-ups, all retro-themed, featured a varying number of body shapes and types in clever poses and even cleverer clothing designed to hint at sex. Because sex, good sex, ultimately relies on stimulating the human imagination. Bad sex, on the other hand, has everything to do with telling the mind what to think instead of letting it take the hint. Which is why sex today, quite frankly, stinks.

Play the body-positive feminist angle of the photos all you want. What really makes these photos awesome is that they are a reminder of a time when sex was a hint and women were in control of exactly how far they went with the nudge, the wink, the euphemism, and the nudity. Contemporary feminists love to argue that being completely naked in public is the ultimate proclamation of sexual power, because they cannot comprehend the unspoken language of sex. Anything that isn’t laid out clearly in a multi-part contract is somehow an inconclusive sexual assault. No wonder they love gays and lust after drag queens. These are the only demographics still allowed to speak the unspoken language of glamour and inference. The shaggy-haired, pantsuited crew wishes they could be that comfortable in a sparkling evening gown and heels.

The truth is, contemporary feminists don’t know how to handle the power that comes with the clothes. Naked they get. Naked comes with a contract and court protection. The resulting shock value, best left to celebrities on red carpets protected by the lens of the camera, is especially defended and praised. Second-wave theorists once decried cinema’s voyeuristic male gaze. Now they taunt it openly, flashing breasts and bottoms to the point of sheer boredom, arguing that familiarity with the naked figure will somehow both grant women ownership of their bodies and tame evil male lust. (Tell that one to the booming porn industry.)

No one is more adept at the naked game than Miley Cyrus, Disney’s good girl-gone-bad who has apparently decided to challenge Lena Dunham at her own flesh-revealing game. Her latest shoot for V magazine wasn’t a shoot, per se, as much as a catalog of naked Polaroids (the Insta-variety no doubt) snapped by a friend while on her latest tour. Compare her nude antics to original Disney bad girl Annette Funicello, who ignored Disney’s advice and dared to bare her navel in a two-piece for a series of bikini beach movies in the 1960s. Funicello’s legacy is that of teen sex symbol. Miley’s on the other hand is that of teen slut.

In the Slut Walk era, Miley is just another bare-breasted woman in the crowd of feminists bent on denying psychology and biology through visual over-stimulation and court-protected denial of responsibility for inevitable consequences. As Camille Paglia so smartly comments to the pro-slut crowd:

Don’t call yourself a slut unless you are prepared to live and defend yourself like one.  My creed is street-smart feminism, alert, wary, and militant—the harsh survival code of streetwalkers and drag queens.  Sex is a force of nature, not just a social construct.  Monsters stalk its midnight realm.  Too many overprotected middle-class girls have a dangerously naive view of the world.  They fail to see the animality and primitivism of sex, historically controlled by traditions of religion and morality now steadily dissolving in the West.

The sexual revolution won by my 1960s generation was a two-edged sword.  Our liberation has burdened our successors with too many sexual choices too early.  Their flesh-baring daily dress is a sex mime to whose arousing signals they seem blind.  Only in a police state, and not even there, will women be totally safe on the streets.  Honorable men do not rape.  But protests and parades cannot create honor.

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Contemporary feminism isn’t just about nudity. Its ancient, paganesque obsession with body image puts more demands on a woman’s body than the simple shedding of attire. Ancient Jews who desired to fit in with their Greek overlords painfully reversed their circumcisions. Today’s women go to great lengths to emasculate their otherwise feminine figures to do what, exactly? Pursue a level of strength biologically and psychologically associated with the male gender? Or carve a comfortable trans-niche of their own, not quite glam like the drag divas but not nearly as boring as the Hillaryesque powersuit crowd?

Whether it’s female body building or superhero chic, flat abs, four-packed and more, are now the ultimate pursuit in female happiness. Women once considered themselves liberated from the forced flat abs of the corset generation. Now they’re demanding their own bodies do the work of the whale bones. Cinched in tight, these picture-perfect bodies eliminate the belly pouch made famous in elegant female art for centuries. (The un-tightened belly pouch that also makes the round ligament pain common in an expanding pregnant belly easier to bear.) Goodbye, Botticelli’s bellies and all the promise of fertility within, hello flat abs and the emasculated figures that come with them.

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Hyper-muscular demands on a feminine physique can have more than just an aesthetic effect on their womanhood:

A Norwegian population-based survey of nearly 4,000 women under 45 found a clear link between exercise intensity and fertility. Women who were active most days were more than three times more likely to have fertility problems than inactive women. And those who exercised to the point of exhaustion were more than twice as likely to be infertile than those who engaged in less strenuous activities, according to results published in Human Reproduction.

It is the great irony of flat abs and nude figures that women, who claim to possess a greater hold over their own sexuality, are in fact rendering themselves powerless over their own sex. Whether they are work-out freaks who reduce their chances of becoming mothers or women insisting that baring it all isn’t an invitation to a dangerous sexual encounter, contemporary feminism has crafted a cadre of goddesses willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of so-called liberation. The only thing they’ve been liberated from is the one thing they’re after: Being thought of as sexy.

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The Un-Popular Face of Black Activism in America

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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“Black” has become an idol. Oddly enough we learned that lesson through the making of Selma, a film focused on the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who boldly declared, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Director Ava DuVernay defended the rewriting of history into what amounts to a black power narrative (mythical kneeling blacks before white cops and all), stating, “This is art; this is a movie; this is a film. I’m not a historian. I’m not a documentarian.” The mainstream media jumped on the bait thrown out by the film’s star David Oyelowo, who declared that ”parallels between Selma and Ferguson are indisputable.” The fact that neither the Academy nor filmgoers fell march-step in line only acted as further proof of the conspiracy against “black and brown people” in Hollywood.

The race war fomented in the rise of the Black Power movement (the nasty “alternative” to King’s civil rights movement) continues unabated. In fact, it has opened on a new front, one that ties racial strife with national security and even international relations. Playing on strong ties to the Nation of Islam, Black Power now has its eye set on the Palestinian territories and places like Ferguson, Missouri, and the like are set to become the next battleground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making way for the planting of hotbeds of radical Islamic terror.

But, to tell the story of Ferguson and Florida’s black activists traveling on solidarity missions to the Palestinian territories is to exact the same kind of indecent omissions as DuVernay. There are blacks out there who support Israel and who, in fact, draw inspiration from the civil rights movement in doing so. The primary difference between these black Zionists and their Black Power counterparts: They are motivated by Jesus, not Islam.

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in 2006, Cornetta Lane an African American at Wayne State University, even went as far as expressing this support by singing Hatikvah in front of an anti-Israel protester who claimed that Israel was a racist state.When Jewish students asked at the time why she sang Hatikvah, Cornetta replied that her pastor, Glen Plummer, explained that Jews significantly helped out African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and that Jews contributed significantly to both the NAACP and the Urban League, and were advisers to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thus, when she saw that there was going to be an anti-Israel rally, Cornetta decided to take this step.

Much like Cornetta Lane, Chloe Valdary has drawn on her uniquely Biblical Christian upbringing and study of the civil rights movement to develop her own brand of Zionist activism. Dubbed “the Lioness of Zion,” Valdary started a pro-Israel student group on her college campus that garnered national attention, turning the college student into a speaker for a variety of Zionist organizations, including CAMERA and CUFI:

The parallels’ between the black struggle during the civil rights movement and the Jewish people today insofar as the legitimacy of Zionism is concerned is staggering. Martin Luther King Jr. [was] a Zionist but more importantly he realized that we must advance our duty when advancing the cause of human rights today. If he were alive today, he would surely be pro-Israel. This is one of the reasons why I am such a staunch Zionist.

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Valdary is not alone. Dumisani Washington, a pastor and music teacher in Northern California, has formed the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, an organization “dedicated to strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Jewish people, and people of African descent through education and advocacy.” Raised a Christian, Washington had a strong interest in the Old Testament and Hebrew history at a young age. Growing up in the segregated south, he drew inspiration from the Exodus as well as Martin Luther King:

Dr. King was a staunch supporter of the State of Israel and a friend of the Jewish people. Many who know of his legacy know of his close relationship with Rabbi [Avraham] Joshua Heschel as well as the Jewish support for the Black civil rights struggle. Many are unaware, however, of the negative push back Dr. King got from some people. Particularly after the 1967 war in Israel, international criticism against the Jewish State began to rise.  Dr. King remained a loyal friend, and made his most powerful case for Israel almost 1 year after the Six Day War – and 10 days before his death.

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Both Valdary and Washington have raised the ire of pro-Palestinian organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an organization that misappropriates black history and depicts black supporters of Israel as the Uncle Toms of the 21st century. Contrary to the Black Power impetus forging the Ferguson-Palestine relationship, Washington has outlined the differences between the Palestinian liberation and civil rights movements, and in an open letter to SJP, Valdary condemned the organization, writing:

You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes and you do not get to feign victimhood in our name. You do not have the right to slander my people’s good name and link your cause to that of Dr. King’s. Our two causes are diametrically opposed to each other.

Americans remain blind to these modern day civil rights/Zionist activists because, contrary to the preaching of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we have been made into a color-centric society by the Black Power movement and its contemporary descendants. Race has become an idol. Black Power has created the mythical “black and brown faces” to be honored through tokens of affirmative action while sacrificing living human beings on the altar of ghetto culture because of the color of their skin. To remain blind to the idolatry of race is to remain blind to the real struggle for civil rights in America, the struggle to be viewed as a human being instead of a race-based demographic or a color-based “minority.” This is the struggle that unites rather than divides us on issues of economy, quality of life, and yes, even national security and the threat of terrorism.

Now, more than ever, we must value each other on the content of our character, lest the idolatry that comes from the obsession with skin color blind us from the true threats unfolding in our midst.

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13 Key Ideas You Need For Defeating Marxist Evil

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Ronald R. Cherry

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Editor’s Note: This is a much longer-than-usual essay than we normally publish, but it’s a very thorough dissection of Marxist ideology well-worth your time. To make it more accessible we’ve decided to experiment with publishing it “Netflix style,” meaning as the streaming internet TV service has developed the practice of releasing whole seasons of its new shows at once, allowing viewers to consumer at their own pace, we’ll publish this first as one long article before serializing its points daily over the next 2 weeks.

1. In its essence Marxism, the core ideology of modern Socialism, is an irrational, utopian and coercive perversion of human equality.

Marxism seeks equality where equality does not exist, demanding legal enforcement of equal social outcomes, including those related to economics, higher education, athletics, religion and human sexuality. This ideology even extends to international relationships whereby no nation is allowed to excessively prosper or achieve greatness, i.e.: all nations must be “equal.” Never mind that when people are free their human nature leads to inequality of outcomes – some are hard-working and some are lazy – some are more intelligent and some are less intelligent – some are stronger and some are weaker – some are tall and some are short. Unequal results occur naturally without force when people possess rightful liberty. Based on their degree of truly Free Enterprise nations similarly divide themselves unequally into various degrees of prosperity or depravity.

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What This Racist Murderer Said Before His Sentencing Might Give You Nausea

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Stephen Green

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I feel sick after reading this:

A black man who was found guilty of murdering two white teenagers execution-style in a vacant Detroit field defiantly declared “black lives matter” Wednesday before being sentenced to life in prison.

Fredrick Young and Felando Hunter were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole for robbing, torturing and murdering Jourdan Bobbish and Jacob Kudla, who had met up with them in July 2012 to buy drugs, a local Fox affiliate reported.

Young shocked the courtroom when he was given the chance to address the victims’ families, but instead apologized to the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

“I’d like to say sorry to the families of Aiyanna Jones, Michael Brown, Eric Garner,” he said. “And I want to apologize to them for not being able to get justice for their loved ones who was murdered in cold blood.

“And in respect for the peaceful protest, I want to say ‘hands up don’t shoot,’” he said, raising his hands in the air. “Black lives matter — that’s it your honor.”

Young’s life mattered — until he chose to become a killer.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Exposing Feminism’s Patriarchy Myth on Campus

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Arthur Chu wrote a wandering epithet over at Salon on “bitter nerd” Scott Aaronson’s rant against feminism. Aaronson’s complaints as detailed in Chu’s piece are far from new. As a graduate teaching assistant I had many male students (rather nerdy types) walk out of film theory classes declaring they were “horrible people” and “secret rapists” because they were born male. In the wake of the campus rape lies of 2014, who can blame these guys for believing feminism is conducting its own War Against Men:

This is not a debate about gender roles. It is not about economics or the esoterica of hateful radicals in an ivory tower. This is a war, an ideological campaign to smear all men as moral monsters. It is not a war against “patriarchy” or some imagined evil rich guy. This is a war on men as such – of all races and social classes. It is a war against your brothers, sons, fathers, friends and relatives. And right now, the bad guys and girls are winning.

“…[H]ow could [Aaronson] be targeted by books written by second-wave feminists when he was a toddler?” Chu asks incredulously. Camille Paglia answers Chu in her book Vamps and Tramps, and most recently in her Time magazine piece on the overblown campus rape epidemic. Second-wave feminists believe themselves to be superior human beings through a pseudo-science that negates biology, psychology and religion in favor of a sterile view of the world as a grand social order which must be maintained and controlled through Marxist politics. To put it rather simply, the second wave threw out biology and psychology and mocked God, making a target of every man like Scott who reads feminist literature only to walk away convinced that he’s an inherent rapist because he was born male. As Paglia explains:

The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.

Paglia details that Marxist feminists “…simplistically project outward onto a mythical ‘patriarchy’ their own inner conflicts and moral ambiguities.” Men have no such external myth on which to blame what Chu calls “internal demons” which is why for men these moral struggles are easily chalked off as “slippery things.” Chu writes

I do know that what could help women… is to find the guys who are doing bad things to her and stop those guys from doing that. That’s why feminism is more focused on women’s issues than men’s, because women’s issues are the things happening out in the world where we can do something about them.

This absurdity is an outgrowth of the second wave’s politicization of male rape. Female rape, highly eroticized in the ’70s, was legitimized by the feminist movement as sexual fantasy only to become an illicit crime when acted out by a male counterpart. Paglia notes, “…the illicit is always highly charged,” which is why the issue of campus rape has become the most highly charged issue of feminism today. This also explains why rape has become the source for such incredible moral ambiguity and why men, the mythical figures onto which the moral ambiguities of the female sex are projected, are increasingly blamed for women’s bad sexual decision-making.

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The story of Molly Morris and Corey Mock is nothing new to the campus rape scene. Having met on Tinder, a social media app designed to fulfill hook-up scenarios, Mock pursued classmate Morris, who played hard to get until agreeing to a breakfast date. Morris took Mock up on his invitation to a party, but wound up not arriving until 2 a.m., only to find a bunch of male wrestlers with few female faces in the crowd. Partaking in plenty of booze, Morris implies she was drugged and woke up the next day naked in bed with Mock. She decided not to go to the police because “she was not emotionally ready to enter a criminal justice system that would scrutinize her life and choices.”

Her’s is a pathetic excuse that permits the consequences of her bad decision-making to be projected onto the mythical patriarchy represented by Mock and the criminal justice system. When Morris finally did approach their university’s administration Mock was found innocent, then guilty, then granted a stay and finally expelled from the school in what amounted to a politically motivated public relations debacle. Mock’s side of the story is only given by his father via the comment field at the end. He explicitly details his son’s sexual encounter to make it clear that it was, indeed, consensual. After explaining what happened to his son, he concludes, “Morally and ethically I want to say, don’t have sex until you get married. We all know that would be naive.”

Would it? The reality is that abstinence has become the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid being falsely accused of sexual assault. That reality check highlights the long-forgotten intrinsic value of abstinence culture. The moralists who promoted that antiquated agenda understood that the allure of sexuality and the power of sex needed to be contextualized through marriage so societal order could be maintained. When society rejected marriage culture, it implicitly accepted the second-wave feminist alternative. Hence, every man is a rapist and every woman a victim.

Paglia argues that “rape will not be understood until we revive the old concept of the barbaric, the uncivilized.” Likewise, the problem of campus rape – that is, second-wave feminism’s grotesque predilection for falsely accusing male sex partners of assault in an attempt to soothe their own wounded pride and troubled souls – will not cease until moral order, built on a solid biological and psychological understanding of the individual and an acceptance of moral responsibility on the part of both parties, is restored.

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Are Brown People Capable of Evil?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Tom Weiss

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Illustrating the point I made in these pages three weeks ago — that movies with conservative or libertarian themes did amazingly well at the box office in 2014 - American Sniper has made over $110 million this month, shattering January box office records, and is well on its way to becoming Clint Eastwood’s most successful movie.

For many on the left, this cannot stand. So while positive reviews pour in and moviegoers sell out theaters all across the country, criticism of the film — and the Iraq War — is growing.

Steve Pond, at TheWrap, writes “multiple Academy members told TheWrap that they had been passing around a recent article by Dennis Jett in The New Republic that attacks the film for making a hero out of [Chris] Kyle.” One Academy member was quoted as saying that Kyle “seems like he may be a sociopath” before admitting that “he had not yet seen the film.”

That didn’t stop The New Republic, which published Jett’s hit piece on the film before he’d seen it as well, basing the review on the film’s trailer and the book upon which it was based. If you’ve read that book, Jett writes, then you know that, “[Kyle’s] bravado left no room for doubt.  For him, the enemy are savages and despicably evil. His only regret is that he didn’t kill more.”

Lindy West at The Guardian struck a similar chord, writing that Kyle “bare minimum, was a racist who took pleasure in dehumanising and killing brown people.” It is unclear whether or not West saw the film before publishing the piece, which is more about the film’s backstory.

Alex Horton, also writing for The Guardian and a veteran of the Iraq War, did see the film and gets to the heart of Kyle’s guilt, “not the guilt of taking lives, but the agony of not saving enough. It’s a vital part of countless veterans that civilians must understand.”

Chris Kyle is confirmed to have killed 160 people, and he claimed to have killed 255. In a 2012 interview with Time he appeared to confirm the fears of Jett and West, saying

I’m not over there looking at these people as people.  I’m not wondering if he has a family.  I’m just trying to keep my guys safe.

These three sentences perfectly capture the controversy surrounding the film and the moral ambiguity surrounding the Iraq War itself.

Chris Kyle killed a lot of brown people. Liberals will focus on this fact almost to the exclusion of all others. It doesn’t matter what those brown people were doing, or would have done. America invaded Iraq under false pretenses and it follows, in Jett’s analysis, that every “excess” death in Iraq can be laid at the feet of not only George W. Bush, but every single American.

Seven-hundred-ninety-six of those “excess” deaths occurred on August 14, 2007, near Mosul, Iraq, in what is second only to 9/11 as the deadliest terrorist attack in history. Four near-simultaneous suicide car bombs, targeting the Yazidi community in Kahtaniya and Jazeera, “crumbled buildings, trapping entire families beneath mud bricks and other wreckage as entire neighborhoods were flattened.”

I would characterize this as “despicably evil.” I can think of few things more evil than slaughtering innocent men, women, and children, but liberals like Jett must find a way to rationalize evil to place the blame on the American people. If we hadn’t invaded Iraq, according to the theory, then this wouldn’t have happened. The American invaders, therefore, are responsible for creating this evil.

But are we? The same Yazidi community targeted in 2007 was persecuted and massacred again by ISIS just last year.  America famously left Iraq in 2011, but the killing hasn’t stopped.

I lived in a small outpost in central Baghdad for months during the surge in 2007 — we were attacked only once by harassing small-arms fire. The gas station less than a mile away from our outpost was blown up by a car bomb that summer, killing scores of innocent civilians. The murderers didn’t target my team, they targeted innocent civilians.  Am I responsible for that massacre?

There is an insidiously racist strain in much of the commentary surrounding American Sniper and the Iraq War.  Calling Chris Kyle a racist because he killed a lot of brown people dehumanizes the people he killed. They weren’t marionettes forced to dance by the hand of American foreign policy.  The people who ordered the suicide attacks which killed nearly 800 Yazidi in 2007 were living, breathing sentient human beings making their own decisions.

They were brown people capable of and enthusiastic about murdering hundreds of people.

That sentence may strike many on the Left as irredeemably racist, but it is precisely the opposite. All humans are capable of evil. White people in the U.S. military are capable of evil, former SSG Robert Bales being just one example.  Evil is not the defining characteristic of white military members, and it is not the defining characteristic of brown Iraqis.

Chris Kyle had to clearly delineate between good and evil. In the film’s opening sequence he is confronted with a woman and a young boy moving toward a group of Marines with a grenade. That woman was not in a military uniform and was not carrying arms openly, unlawful under the Geneva Convention. She was hoping that her gender — and the fact that she was with a child — would prevent decent American troops from identifying her as a threat before she could kill a few of them.

In Kyle’s judgment she was “already dead,” the only question was how many soldiers she would take with her. His answer? Zero.

Many of the people we fought in Iraq wouldn’t bother with this type of moral calculation. Sunni suicide bombers and Shiite death squads did quite the opposite of Kyle, killing as many innocent men, women and children they could.

When we find evil in our military ranks — like we did at Abu Ghraib — we punish those responsible. We can argue about whether the right people were punished, or whether they were punished severely enough, but compare that process to the Al Qaeda or ISIS process to prosecute members of their organizations who kill innocent civilians.

Except you can’t. Killing a massive number of innocent civilians is their preferred tactic. That’s evil.

Murdering someone because of their religion is evil.  Murdering someone for a cartoon they published is evil.  Murdering someone because of their sexual orientation is evil. Are any of these things made less evil when they are perpetrated by brown people?

No. And to suggest as much is racist and dehumanizing.

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