Let her walk uncovered down a Saudi street and come back and tell us how about feminism in Islam. pic.twitter.com/yz57JlCX8R
— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) February 5, 2015
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.
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) February 21, 2015
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?
So I was watching Glee the other day (yes I watch Glee, okay?!), and man has that show jumped the shark. It’s frustrating, because Glee went down in flames the way a lot of good shows do: it got too busy constructing a leftist fantasyland to tell a decent story. It’s another victim of what I like to call “liberal backslide.”
Bear with me here for a second. I realize Glee was never an elegant allegory of fiscal conservatism. And no one could claim that it ever had an ironclad grip on reality. The show takes place in an underfunded Ohio public school whose auditorium looks like it was sponsored by a generous grant from the Shah of Persia. The band students instantaneously arrange and perform professional-quality backup accompaniment whenever someone so much as walks down the hallway humming a tune. This is obviously not a show about the real world.
But it used to be a show about real people. Glee got its start as a sharp send-up of teenage life in the Midwest, a bubblegum caricature of self-indulgent angst and high school politics. So it spoofed all those kids you hung out with in public school: the pristinely polished cheerleader. The wan, sensitive artist. The befuddled jock. The neat trick was that those well-worn stock characters all had a slightly edgier secret to make things a little less cut-and-dry. The cheerleader cheated on her boyfriend and got pregnant. The artist was straining hard against the closet door. The jock belted out “Can’t Fight This Feeling” in the locker room showers when he thought no one was looking. The whole picture was just a shade more complex and “real” than you expected, one degree more nuanced than a show like Saved by the Bell.
That meant the characters were allowed to have their own beliefs and opinions — more or less the ones they might have had in real life. Mercedes, the choir’s queen of soul, was also the head of the Christian club, the “God Squad.” Quinn, the cheerleader, was in the Squad too. Pretty standard for an Ohio high school: think Youth for Christ. When Quinn got pregnant, she was devastated and terrified, but determined not to abort. Also not impossible to imagine. Kurt, the artsy kid, came out to his dad, a rough-spoken mechanic who wrestled manfully with his prejudices for love of his son. Look, I’m not saying it was Shakespeare, but this was imaginative, thoughtful writing — a glitzed-up version of some distantly plausible reality. Everyone got made fun of, and for the most part everyone got a fair shake.
Fast-forward to the current season, in which the entire architecture of the show has essentially been abandoned in favor of a ceaseless stream of inchoate progressive propaganda. In one recent episode, the glee club alumni march triumphantly back onto their old stomping grounds to save their beloved show choir. To beef up the choir’s membership, all the glee clubbers from conservative backgrounds reach out to their high school’s “Tea Party Patriot Club.” Our virtuous heroes come bearing muffins, and their message is a touching one. Quinn helpfully begins with an inspiring story of personal growth: “before I joined glee club” (i.e., “when I was a conservative,”) “I only hung out with people that were exactly like me.” But it’s all better now, Quinn explains, because getting pregnant out of wedlock fixed all her problems! “Point is, nerds,” says bad boy Noah Puckerman, “you need to take the three-cornered hats out of your loser butts and join [the glee club].”
But for some incomprehensible reason, those ignorant tea partiers (or “teabaggers,” as they’re called in the show, to their faces) aren’t won over by this thoughtful outreach campaign. Their leader, a pencil-necked bigot in a starched shirt, has some kind of crazy hillbilly idea that the Obama administration has been an economic disaster. And for no discernible reason, he isn’t keen on joining a choir whose members just strode heedlessly into the middle of his meeting to openly mock and insult him and his friends. Mercedes nobly scolds the entire club for being a bunch of “ignorant, backwards, lily-white, gay-hating Obama bashing clubbers,” and all the stars march out in a huff, taking their muffins with them. Yay glee club! Diversity! Inclusion!
Glee always skewed left, but it used to have a real sense of humor about itself. Sadistic cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester was the perfect anti-PC mouthpiece, cutting deftly through the show’s self-satisfied über-sensitivity right when it got too saccharine. But season six has been a relentless, tight-lipped progressive tirade against conservatism without so much as a glimmer of mirth from the other side. Needless to say, since progressivism is predicated upon a string of complete fantasies, the show is now utterly disjointed and incomprehensible.
It’s also utterly unfunny. Indiscriminate satire is hilarious. A series-long harangue is not. Take, for example, the storyline in which an all-male a cappella group is blasted for being “sexist and discriminatory.” The debate rages for an entire episode, with barely a mention of the (entirely legitimate) musical reasons for forming a men’s choir. The issue is treated with the kind of ferocious humorlessness that only progressives can deliver with a straight face.
Liberal backslide: it’s happened before. I wrote about it when it happened to the once-brilliant Parks & Recreation. It happened to 30 Rock, too. It’s always the same process: smart, tight, observational humor, slowly abandoned in favor of preachy nonsense. American TV comedies feature some of the best writing around, when the writers just get out of their own way. More often than not, though, they can’t keep their mouths shut, and their untenable worldviews cloud their comedic vision. It shows, too — there’s a reason Glee’s ratings are lower than ever. There’s a reason it’s going off the air. The only thing less funny than politics is stupid politics.
— Jason (@Vision365) February 14, 2015
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?
— WPEC CBS 12 News (@CBS12) December 4, 2014
For a while now, my editor David Swindle has been plaguing me to start a series on Jewish identity. Like any good family we disagree with each other about practically everything, cultural and religious identification included. I can’t think of one Jewish setting in which I wasn’t directly or indirectly accused by fellow Jews of being a “bad Jew” for some mundane reason or another. One incident involved the infamous “pepperoni pizza at a Hillel event, for or against” argument. (Truly the greatest Jewish American struggle of our time.) Joseph’s brothers beat him up, threw him in a ditch, and not much has changed since, attitude-wise. Need further proof? Check out the latest argument over how Jewish Americans relate to the Holocaust.
Apparently 73% of us rank the Holocaust as our top-rated “essential” to being Jewish. This disturbs renowned academic Jacob Neusner who’s made a career out of entwining himself into the vines of the Ivy League. Neusner’s argument boils down to the concept that American Jews have no real sense of or connection to their own identity. Therefore, they need to go outside the geographical box to find themselves, either through the Holocaust or Zionism.
I supposed it was inevitable that we’d learn that Jonathan Gruber wants to tax body weight:
“Ultimately, what may be needed to address the obesity problem are direct taxes on body weight,” Gruber wrote in an essay for the National Institute for Health Care Management in April 2010, just months after helping design ObamaCare with the president in the Oval Office and during the period in which he was under contract as an Obama administration consultant.
“While it is hard to conceive of this approach being a common public policy tool in the near term, such taxation may be happening indirectly through health insurance surcharges,” he wrote. “Currently, employers may charge up to 20 percent higher health insurance premiums for employees who fail to meet certain health-related standards, such as attaining a healthy BMI.”
A couple of things.
The first is that BMI is a BS way to determine obesity, or much of anything else, really. But it’s easy to measure, especially if you just line up bunches of mostly-naked American Serfs™ for their annual IRS weigh-in. You might think I’m kidding, but if we’ve got to tax fat people, then we’ve got to weigh and measure them, and with 315 million Americans, the logistics get… busy. The Nazis used cattle cars, but I’m sure our tender IRS thugs would come up with something more humane.
The second is that if ♡bamaCare!!! saves us all this money, why do we have to keep coming up with new and ridiculous ways to finance it?
I received an email from an academic who was dismayed to learn that a female friend who is a professor believes that all men are rapists. He wrote to ask for my help in how to cope (I have abbreviated and changed some of the wording for privacy) :
I am in an online group of professors and academics and a female professor who I am friends with posted on an internet meme about “Teaching Men Not to Rape.” The gist of this document was something along the lines of :
1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.
5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.
6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
I linked to articles to try and give her information on the rape statistics and how most men are decent guys but her response was that she gets near men in public and feels that they could overcome her physically.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with this kind of stuff for fathers, fathers who are professors, and folks who would like to be able to take this stuff on at work without risking losing their job? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
My response to this reader was:
You are too kind. You are trying to engage in an intellectual discussion where there is none. These ideas are based on what makes women feel good and give the Uncle Tims of the world a chance to strut their stuff by playing along with the game in the hopes of accolades. I think the disconnect here for you is “how can you engage with such a person?” How do you deal with someone who thinks you and your son are rapists while being a “friend” to you. Whether she is a parent or not matters none. Many nasty people who hate men have sons. The goal here is to let “friends” or colleagues know that their prejudices may have consequences. How do you do that?
It sounds like you tried to use logic but you were not satisfied with the results of her response. One way to fight back is by using their own words against them. How about this:
“I can’t believe someone with your open-mindedness would buy into this propaganda. Your open expression of such views as a professor may make male students feel uncomfortable producing a hostile learning environment for male students. I am sure that 50 years ago there were women who were afraid to be in a crowd of African Americans but we didn’t design our society to accommodate their prejudices. You need to think about whether it is fair or legal to stereotype a whole group of people based on gender.”
She will go onto deny profusely that this is not the case and maybe call you a “rape apologist.” Response? Was Atticus Finch a rape apologist?
Anyway, you get the idea. Use their own progressive ideas against them and often that will shut them down by using a bunch of Title IX rhetoric.
Dear readers, do you have some more tips for our distressed dad on how to deal with a “friend” or colleague who thinks all men are rapists?
John Lennon’s 1971 hit single “Imagine” asks us to imagine a world without “possessions,” a world in which “There’s no countries…Nothing to kill or die for.” The song urges us to “Imagine all the people/Sharing all the world,” a “brotherhood of man” committed to “living life in peace.” We may be forgiven for wondering if this vision of irenic inclusiveness would have embraced that other Brotherhood, the Muslim one, as well.
Lennon did not live long enough to witness the re-emergence of Islam as a virulent and conquering ideological force, whether via terrorist atrocities or demographic infiltration. Moreover, the Lennon who died in 1980 had travelled some distance from his peacenik persona. Dave Swindle notes, citing several informative sources, that “in his final years before his murder, the songwriter abandoned his famous progressive faith, enjoyed arguing with radicals, and supported Ronald Reagan.” According to Swindle, “Lennon was not a very serious leftist. He was just an artist too heavily influenced by some of the other dominant personalities of his age—the ones most skilled at manipulating talented people into becoming their political pawns, their useful idiots.” The lame-brained Yoko Ono might have had something to do with it as well.
One hopes Lennon would indeed have seen clearly enough not to have been badgered or indoctrinated into macro-cultural compliance by so-called “progressivist” forces, like some of his pop contemporaries. One thinks of the mushy and ill-informed views of a world-class ignoramus like Neil Young or the soft-in-the-head Cat Stevens, originally Steven Demetre Georgiou, who converted to Islam, grew a beard and again changed his name, this time to Yusuf Islam. As a convert to the faith, he wasted no time supporting the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, despite his later, evidently insincere walkback. Such figures now constitute part of our debased Golden Legend, a hagiography of musical legends who, like the majority of Hollywood actors, are also intellectual nonentities. That they have an impact on sensibility is unfortunate, but it is a fact that must be acknowledged. Though Lennon may have repudiated the message of his song, there’s no doubt that “Imagine” has survived him and become an anthem of the doctrinaire left. As Swindle writes,
It’s impossible to know the number of people over the last 40 years who jumped into lives of progressive activism because of Lennon’s music…Lennon and ‘Imagine’ are not symbols the Left will give up without a fight.
*Profanity warning for video*
Lennon, be it said, did imagine a world with “no religion too,” but would he have made allowances, as so many Christophobes do, for the “religion of peace”? Let’s give John Lennon the benefit of the doubt. But we cannot exonerate those who, mistakenly or not, regard themselves as his followers, the crowd of spineless appeasers, professional conciliators and clueless extenuators who continue to insist, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary—historical, textual, scriptural, and empirical—that Islam does not constitute a threat to our existence. From this obtuse perspective, Muslim violence is not the product of canonical Islam but of some twisted offshoot of the faith called “Islamism,” and Muslim immigration to the West is welcomed as a form of cultural endowment from which we will all benefit. Such cognitive dissonance is indeed remarkable, given the virtual destruction of neighborhoods in Western cities and the outrages perpetrated world-wide and on a daily basis by the votaries of Islam.
And as for terror itself, it has, as we have been lessoned by our betters, nothing to do with Islam in any conceivable way; the terrorists are either unhinged or casualties of Western colonialism or victims of grinding poverty taking revenge against their oppressors. They are almost never seen for what they chiefly are: devout believers, many of them highly educated and scions of prosperous families, observing the dictates their revered prophet laid down in a holy book that must be obeyed to the letter. As Mark Durie writes,
In reality, the will to “go forth” for jihad is not a manifestation of craziness—many of its actors are entirely sane. It is not a manifestation of stupidity—many of its actors are quite intelligent. It is not a manifestation of social dysfunction or poverty—many of its actors come from stable and wealthy homes. It is not a manifestation of weirdness—many of its actors are quite ordinary.…Jihadi terror is a manifestation of Islamic theology.
And indeed, one need no longer “imagine” what the “elitist” Western response to the scourge of 9/11 and all that followed in its wake might look like; it is everywhere around us, predictable as the setting sun, a scrolling panorama of ignorance, delusion and cowardice—in a word, surrender. 9/11 should have been a watershed moment, a historical game-changer provoking us out of our ideological torpor. Instead, it was a collapsing dike, as America and the Western world as a whole were flooded with self-doubt, cultural guilt, waves of political correctness and rampant Islamophilia.
And so we continue to deny that the terrorists have weakened our resolve or even altered our way of life. But as Mark Tapson points out,
they have changed our way of life and who we are as a culture. Look at what has become of air travel in the wake of 9/11 and the bungling Shoe Bomber: passengers shuffling along like cattle in long security lines, removing our shoes and laptops, submitting to invasive scans by the useless TSA, etc. This is but one example of our “new normal,” and as incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Jerusalem synagogue butchering and the Sydney hostage-taking become more and more common, they too will become our new normal.
His conclusion is as chastening as it is accurate. “To accept living under the cloud of terrorism while declaring stubbornly that it won’t change us is a terrible self-delusion.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking in the wake of the Sydney hostage crisis, is proof positive of Tapson’s thesis: “Australia is a peaceful, open, and generous society,” Abbott said. “Nothing should ever change that and that’s why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual.”
Business as usual? Mark Durie points out that the first jihadi attack in Australia occurred in 1915, when two Muslim immigrants shot and killed four picnickers at Broken Hill. And as Charles Bybelezer reports, September 2014 provided a rich harvest of terrorist events and arrests Down Under: a certain Numan Haider stabbed two police officers before being killed; shortly afterward,
Australian police conducted major anti-terrorism raids in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney [in which at least] fifteen people were detained, including Omarjan Azari—an alleged associate of Mohammed Ali Baryalei, leader of the Islamic State in Australia—who was planning to behead random civilians in broad daylight; then, not long after the Sydney hostage episode, two more Muslims were arrested, including a budding young terrorist by the name of Sulayman Khalid, found with notes outlining plans to blow up a police building and organize terrorist activities at large.
Business as usual!—it can only be the imaginary construct of a political cartel suffering from advanced intellectual glaucoma. The hecatomb at Charlie Hebdo, in which twelve people were murdered, was foreordained, a disaster—or rather, an instance of Islamic “justice”—waiting to happen in the wake of deflationary references to Muhammad. The expression of official horror over the tragedy and sanctimonious empathy for its victims will soon dissipate and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will creep in its petty pace from day to day, as per usual.
I finally watched The Interview the other night — the picture all the Sony Hacking fuss was about, now available on Netflix. A couple of laughs, mostly from self-mocking celebrities like Eminem, Rob Lowe and Katy Perry. Other than that, a big disappointment after the delightful This Is The End by the same gang. (But then This Is The End was all self-mocking celebrities, so maybe that tells us something!)
I couldn’t help but notice that this might be the first Hollywood movie in which the character of Barack Obama makes a veiled appearance. Remember how during the Bill Clinton years, the Hollywood left was always rewriting Clinton into the man they wished he was? Instead of the draft dodger of real life, Clinton became the former fighter pilot of Independence Day. Instead of a cheap and abusive adulterer, he was the misunderstood lover of American President. And so on. It was as if Hollywood was trying to auto-correct reality.
Well, this is sort of like that. James Franco plays Dave Skylark, a shallow and self-absorbed man who strikes a lot of pseudo-intellectual poses and, for some unknown reason, has a large public following. He is more interested in movie stars than real life, lives a life of luxury on other people’s dime and has no understanding whatsoever of the world situation he is tasked to deal with. Whenever he gets in trouble, he suggests that his friends sacrifice themselves in various ways to save him.
Sent to get rid of the tyrannical head of the North Korean slave state, Skylark abandons his mission when the tyrant easily cons him with fake shows of friendship. When Skylark attempts to confront the murderous thug with his crimes against humanity, the Dear Leader wrong-foots him by pointing out that America has a lot of people in prison. Hearing that, Skylark gets a frowny face because he’s shallow and stupid enough to think there’s some moral equivalence between the U.S. imprisoning its criminals and North Korea enslaving its entire citizenry!
It doesn’t take any great insight to see that Dave Skylark is based very closely on President Obama. The fantasy element comes in when Skylark rallies himself and saves the day.
But then, like Independence Day and American President, The Interview is only a movie. The left can dream, can’t it?
— Project Pat Sajak (@ParisBurned) January 25, 2015
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.
— Nora (@nora_da_xplora) November 1, 2014
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.
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.
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.
“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.
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 7, 2014
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.
See Chapter 1 in this new series here: How to Outwit a Radical Feminist
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, let’s talk about cultural relativism. Can we do that, for a second? Because it seems relevant.
If you’re new to the tortured logic of modern progressivism, you might be surprised to see college campuses and media outlets across America trembling with doe-eyed concern for the safety of Muslims in Paris. After yet more innocent civilians were gunned down in cold blood by Islamist extremists, it might seem more natural to you to worry about, oh, I don’t know, the safety of innocent civilians being gunned down in cold blood by Islamist extremists. Perhaps, in your naïve opinion, it seemed odd to watch well-coiffed intellectuals wringing their manicured hands over the West’s virulent islamophobia.These things might appear strange to you. Well then, my tender little sugar muffin, it’s time to talk about cultural relativism.
And how to destroy it.
Why the disconnect between conservative electoral wins these last thirty-five years, and how leftward American culture and law has slithered? How did it come to this?
Thought being the father of action, ineffective efforts spring from flawed worldviews. Our ballot box wins having proven at best delaying actions against the Left’s Borg-like assimilation of the United States, it is time for conservatives to take a hard look at how conservatism views itself and the Left.
Ultimately, much of the problem results from certain conceptual metaphors inherent in modern conservatism. Change those metaphors, and different, more effective actions will result.
The Importance of Conceptual Metaphor
A conceptual metaphor means understanding one idea in terms of another—for instance, argument is war or life is a journey. What metaphor we use affects how we act on or towards the idea.
As George Lakoff and Mark Johnson discuss in their groundbreaking work on the subject, Metaphors We Live By, we see markers of conceptual metaphors scattered throughout our language. Because our culture views argument as war, we seek to win debates, attack our opponent’s position, claim their position is indefensible, and probe for weak points in the other side’s argument. With such a metaphor, it is not surprising that arguments are often very charged in our culture.
To demonstrate how profoundly different conceptual metaphors can affect views and actions towards the same subject, Lakoff and Johnson mused on how a society that likened argument not to war but to a dance might approach debate:
[T]he participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently [than in a culture where argument is war]. But we would probably not view them as arguing at all: they would simply be doing something different. It would seem strange even to call what they were doing “arguing.”
A more individual example of how conceptual metaphors can affect thought and so action is to imagine two men. One thinks of life as a gift. The other thinks of life as struggle. Who’s more likely to have a happier life?
I lit Shabbat candles this past Friday night for the first in a very long time. I made the decision somewhere between learning that the Grand Synagogue of Paris had closed its doors on Shabbat for the first time since the end of World War 2 and the starling fact that 15 Jewish patrons of the kosher supermarket in Paris huddled in a storage freezer to avoid being executed by terrorists.
Roger L. Simon wrote a compelling piece in the wake of last week’s barbaric attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists in Paris. Reading his article I observed with irony that he writes about America’s need for a Churchill. Perhaps, pray to God in His mercy we have one, as we are now surely England with a Neville Chamberlain at the helm. Europe, on the other hand, does not have a Churchill in sight. Europe’s Churchills and their children have fled and are fleeing, some at a breakneck pace. The only Churchill I see on the world horizon is Bibi Netanyahu, which is why he will no doubt be elected to another term as prime minister in Israel, regardless of the deals he may or may not cut with the ultra-religious. Internal politics have to be placed on the back burner when international enemies are this bloodthirsty.
— Magnificent (@Ironyisfunny8) January 8, 2015
Ahmed Merabet, the police officer who first responded to the terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices only to get shot to death at point-blank range by the attackers, will inevitably become the poster boy for both sides of the Muslim debate. His truth was that of a Muslim who integrated into French society and professionally defended Western values resulting in his untimely murder at the hands of Islamic radicals. That truth is already being manipulated by multiculturalist news outlets bent on defending universalism despite its deathly consequences.
The Atlantic is using Merabet’s story to drum up what they believe to be obvious anti-Muslim sentiment in France, obvious only because news agencies scrambling to cover the Charlie Hebdo story didn’t jump on Merabet’s paragraph to defend Islam against radical Islamic terrorists. (Priorities, people.) Joining with The Atlantic crowd, Max Fisher opines at Vox:
Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: “As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form.”
This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by a Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion.
The 1984 speech at the Democratic Convention.
Amongst those commemorating former New York governor Mario Cuomo, who passed away this weekend, nothing receives as much praise as that speech, a piece of oratory that many thought would sweep him towards the presidency.
In the passing of a man, analysis often naturally turns into hagiography. However, something that has not been praised is Cuomo’s honesty.
Cuomo sought to make a counterpoint to Ronald Reagan’s soaring rhetoric of America as a shining city on the hill.
Where Reagan’s word harkened back to John Winthrop and America’s hopeful founding, Cuomo told a tale of two cities. One was that shining city but another was darker, squalid. Cuomo focused on the second city, a focus brought about by a strikingly flawed premise: one man’s success comes at the expense of others.
Some optimists like to say that Left and Right focus on the same goal, simply seeking to accomplish it in different ways. These Pollyannas argue that common vision paves the way to compromise. Of course, in our mainstream political culture, this compromise means conservatives ceding ever more ground to the Left.
However, in his honest passion, Cuomo committed what could only be called a Kinsley gaffe. That is, he honestly defined the premise of modern liberalism: a terribly flawed America must be transformed.
I have no interest in seeing Ridley Scott’s epic IMAX 3-D meisterwerk Exodus: Gods and Kings. Why would I want to spend money on a “gloriously junky” movie that turns my history into a collection of high-tech special effects laced together by a biased, biblically-inaccurate script? Yet, for however lousy the movie itself might be, it has inspired some interesting commentary on Jewish peoplehood from Emma Green over at the Atlantic. For Green, the film inspired a polemic that highlights the seemingly eternal struggle Jews have with the idea of being called out, that is to say “chosen” by God.
I’ve always found this to be rather asinine as far as ideological burdens go. Most people struggle to find their purpose in life. Jews are born into it. We are here to bring God’s teachings into the world in order to make this earth a better place. This chosen status, this calling doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. It simply gives us a job to do, a role that manifests itself through every aspect of existence, every academic discipline, every profession we’ve ever encountered. Whether we’re religious or not, or politically Left or Right, we (for the most part) are bent on doing our part to make the world a better place. Which is probably why those who hate us the most love to rub our chosenness in our face, intimidating the Emma Greens among us into second guessing our God-given responsibility.
Here was the list from last year:
10. Ross Douthat
9. Frank Gaffney
8. Daniel Pipes
7. Rich Lowry
6. Jonah Goldberg
5. Mark Steyn
4. Dennis Prager
3. Ben Shapiro
2. Thomas Sowell
1. Ann Coulter
And here’s where I explained why Charles Krauthammer wasn’t on it (and why he won’t be on this year’s either, so don’t even bother asking): “3 Basic Differences Between Conservatism and Neoconservatism.” Also remember: I’m strict about this list being A) a list of regular columnists who write articles — not bloggers, tweeters, journalists, radio hosts, or TV pundits. B) not including anyone that I currently edit here at PJM, and C) a way to define the values, principles, and stylistic techniques of Conservatism 3.0.
I still need to finish my review of all their columns, but I’m not aware yet of anything that any of the previous year’s 10 columnists would have done or written to warrant an exclusion from this year’s list. Are you? There might be a little shuffling of the rankings, though, and it’s entirely possible that someone could jump into the top 10 or even top 5…
image illustration via shutterstock / moneymaker11
I’ve been writing on political subjects since 9/11—three polemical books and 400 articles worth. But I’ve done my utmost to keep my poetry free of political themes and pleading, generally the poet’s kiss of death. The classical world made room for politically oriented poetry (cf. the invectives of Archilochus and Alcaeus among the Greeks, Horace and Juvenal among the Romans) but this sprang from a completely different cultural context, and lapsed with time into obscurity. Samuel Butler’s 17th century book-length satiric extravaganza Hudibras dealt with both religious and political subjects—clever and funny, but hardly great poetry. The 18th century loved political/satirical squibs, though with apologies to Dryden, Pope and Swift (and even Peter Pindar), these are scarcely remembered today.
Of course, the political category can be stretched indefinitely—is Yevtushenko’s scathingly tender elegy Babi Yar, for example, “political” or not? I would maintain that it is more a bitter denunciation of human savagery and a memorial to the suffering Jewish people than a political statement. The war poems of Wilfred Owen have an acrid political edge to them, but Owen writes as a humanist under fire, not as a political observer or critic. Admittedly, from time to time some modern poets have managed to align political subjects and poetic excellence (e.g., William Butler Yeats, W.H. Auden); however, a successful conflation of this nature is exceedingly rare and prudently to be avoided.
Editor’s Note: see the previous reflection in this series on country music and American values: “3 Reasons Why I Like Country Music“
Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” (“on that September day”) is a loving and poignant tribute to the victims of the 9/11 atrocity. Debuting at the CMA Awards festival two months after the terrorist attack, it is country’s version of Billy Collins’s poetic memorial “The Names.” Like Collins (“Yesterday I lay awake in the palm of the night”), Jackson is modest and understated (“I’m just a singer of simple songs/I’m not a real political man”), but the political and communal messages are powerful. Listing the reactions of ordinary Americans, Jackson charts a range of caring responses to the terror attack. These include patriotism, gratitude to heroes, the turn to God for answers, and a reassessment of what matters most in life:
Did you burst out with pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin’ what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?
“I didn’t want to write a patriotic song,” Jackson told his interviewer Linda Owen at Today’s Christian. “And I didn’t want it to be vengeful, either,” he explained, “but I didn’t want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day.”
Whether he intended to or not, Jackson did end up writing a patriotic song filled with solicitude for his country and its people. There is one potentially vengeful, or realistically self-protective, response mentioned (“Did you go out and buy you a gun?”), but most of the emphasis is on holding loved ones close and affirming membership in community: phoning one’s mother with a message of love, standing in line to give blood, speaking to a stranger on the street. Nowhere, of course, does Jackson imagine that ordinary Americans might have felt satisfaction at the thought of America being so wounded, or that their first impulse would have been to blame America and glorify the terrorists.
For many if not most Americans, the assumption of inviolability and non-involvement had crumbled with the Towers. The feeling of immunity or even apathy toward the possible irruption of terror on American soil had been replaced in the minds and hearts of decent people by an unexpected conviction of responsibility, coupled with a deep sense of anger, sorrow and resilience. “No man is an island, entire of itself,” John Donne wrote in the 17th Devotion, “every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Wherever many of us were on that September day, we were also in New York. I was marooned (no boats, no planes) on the tiny Greek island of Tilos, but rapidly understood that Tilos was a part of the North American continent.
Lately my editor, David Swindle, has been encouraging me to develop a series describing my own out-of-the-box Jewish faith. It’s this mish-mosh of biblical proverbs, Torah adages, stories and songs tightly woven together by my American colonial heritage and intense Zionist pride. There is no one perfect word to describe my Jewishness beyond biblical in nature. Orthodox, Conservative, even Reform I am not. Reconstructionist or Renewal? Forget it. But I find commentary from all denominations (“streams” we call them in Judaism) interesting and acceptable in a “with malice towards none, with charity towards all” kind of way that gives me the liberty to define my Judaism in a way most of my compatriots are simply afraid to do. Which is probably why David finds my approach so fascinating. It’s rare to find a Jew who isn’t somehow fettered by the chains of guilt.
So I begin at the beginning, with Thanksgiving, the quintessential Jewish and American holiday. Traditionally Jews celebrate the idea roughly 1-2 months earlier during Sukkot, a festive fall harvest holiday in which we humble ourselves before the God who brought us out of bondage, not because we are perfect, but because He loves us and wanted to dwell with us. (Sukkahs, as in “tabernacles,” as in “the Lord tabernacles with us.”) When you understand the story of God and Israel as a passionate love story, the struggles are contextualized as are the prophecies, into tough tales with happy endings. When you understand the metaphor of God and Israel as a greater metaphor of God’s love for humanity (we’re just the physical reminders) you open your heart to the immense, overwhelming love of God. And there is nothing more you can do as a human being than reflect on that truth with awe-filled gratitude.
You may remember my experience last week where I received the strange basket of apples with a cryptic note from Valerie. I ate one of the apples and fell into a deep sleep, after which I received the strangest ideas for how to improve Walt Disney World. So I wrote them down, and my editor posted them here.
Well, I decided to try a second apple from the basket. One bite of this next apple, and I passed out again. I woke up with the inspiration to rank some of Disney’s best cartoons. Get ready, because I guarantee you that you’ve never seen Disney’s films in this light…
8. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Just picture it: a large, virile character roams the world, and though people see him as a bad guy, he’s really good inside, and in the end, he saves the day!
Am I talking about Wreck-It Ralph? Of course I am, but in reality I’m talking about the man whose life I’m convinced the movie is a metaphor for: our wonderful ally Vladimir Putin. Just think about it.
The basket of apples appeared on my door step. At first I wasn’t sure where they came from until I saw the note card that read VJ’s Organic Co-Op, Washington, DC. The note inside the envelope read:
Try these apples. I guarantee you’ve never tasted anything like them.
Valerie? I wasn’t sure who this Valerie was, but I figured organic apples couldn’t be all that bad. I made sure to wash one of them thoroughly, and I took a bite.
Whoever Valerie was, she was right. It didn’t taste like any apple I’d ever eaten, and soon after the first bite, I fell asleep, right there on the kitchen floor!
When I woke, I had all these ideas in my head on how to improve my favorite place on the planet — Walt Disney World. So I wrote them down, and here they are:
7. An Updated CircleVision 360 Film For China At Epcot
Epcot’s China pavilion does a wonderful job celebrating the rich history of its home country, but there’s very little mention of the successes of the last sixty or so years. Wonderful triumphs like the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and defeating those pesky students in Tiananmen Square don’t get the mention they deserve at Epcot.
To remedy that problem, I propose that Disney replace the current Reflections of China film with an informative and interesting documentary I’ll call Forward: China from Mao to Now. The film will look back at the great history of the People’s Republic of China from the earliest days of the revolution to China’s bright future.
Of course, such a short film would not have time to delve too deeply into certain aspects of the nation, so concepts like human rights and economic freedom would probably have to go by the wayside. But I think a CircleVision 360 movie dispelling the myths about the People’s Republic would be worth seeing, don’t you?
On November 9, 2006, as the free world celebrated the seventeenth anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise, an 83-year-old man died in a peaceful slumber at his home in the German capital city. The man was Markus Wolf, who during the Cold War led the foreign-intelligence section of East Germany’s secret-police apparatus: the Ministry for State Security (Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit), known colloquially as “the Stasi.” The Stasi’s most renowned spymaster, he controlled thousands of agents, whose purpose was to infiltrate important Western institutions and government positions. Often mistaken as the inspiration for John le Carre’s shadowy Karla character, Wolf for years remained a mystery to Western intelligence services, who didn’t even have a picture of him until the late 1970s—several decades into his career. Historians have marveled at his success in leading the Stasi’s foreign wing, known as the HVA, or Hauptverwaltung Aufklaerung. Perhaps his most well known accomplishment is having one of his agents, Gunter Guillaume, become a trusted aide to Willy Brandt, the West German chancellor.
Seven years after Wolf’s death and twenty-five years after the Wall’s, the West still doesn’t appreciate the breadth and depth of the Stasi’s brutality. (The KGB still reigns in the popular imagination as the ultimate secret-police force.) Formed after the Second World War in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, the Stasi grew to become the most potently effective Eastern bloc intelligence organization. They possessed a more impressive informant network than even the KGB. When East Germany crumbled, the Stasi employed upwards of 190,000 unofficial informants. By 1989, approximately one out of every 90 East German citizens was a Stasi informant. Referred to as inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (“unofficial collaborators”), most were simply ordinary German citizens, tasked with reporting everything they could about possible (real or imagined) anti-regime activity, as well as details about family and friends. Even children were involved in spying on their parents.