Sunday, May 23, 2010
SPLC: Tolerance Mafia
Ken Silverstein is an unlikely ally for those trying to get control of the nation’s borders. A liberal journalist, he finds the Minutemen “crackpots” and Arizona’s immigration-hawk Sheriff Joe Arpaio a “kook” whose activities are “reprehensible.” Silverstein’s wife is Dominican, and he freely admits he does not know whether she originally came to America legally. Yet there he was at the National Press Club on a panel sponsored by the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
“I have different immigration views than the center,” Silverstein said in his presentation. “But I don’t believe I have a monopoly on wisdom.” What he does believe is that free speech is too important to be shouted down by ersatz civil-rights organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The SPLC squelches free speech and free debate,” Silverstein argued. And, he would add, they raise an awful lot of money from unsuspecting liberals in the process.
Silverstein was there to mark the release of a powerful CIS report entitled “Immigration and the SPLC: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Invented a Smear, Served La Raza, Manipulated the Press, and Duped its Donors.” On that last point, Silverstein is something of an expert: he wrote “The Church of Morris Dees” story for Harper’s a decade ago documenting how Dees, the SPLC’s founder, had enriched himself by posing as a defender of racial equality against a rising tide of hate.
What calling could be nobler than working against the cross-burning knuckle-draggers of the Ku Klux Klan? But the country that elected Barack Obama president is not the America of “Mississippi Burning.” Organizations like the Klan have been thoroughly marginalized, their racist ideologies soundly rejected by Americans of all colors and creeds. To raise money as if they constitute anything more than an unpleasant reminder of our Jim Crow past is to perpetuate a fraud.
That’s why Dees and his merry band of politically correct enforcers have had to branch out, endlessly expanding the list of “hate groups” to include perfectly mainstream organizations with which they disagree. Advocates of reduced immigration levels and stronger border security are high on the SPLC’s list of targets because of the obvious racial component of the immigration issue.
Locating cranks who have made ill-tempered remarks about immigrants is not terribly difficult work for highly trained members of the thought police. But Morris Dees’s marauders have not been content to stop there. In late 2007, the SPLC labeled the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a hate group. This troubling designation by extension tarred organizations like CIS and Roy Beck’s NumbersUSA—and quickly achieved its intended chilling effect on the immigration debate.
The SPLC’s smear became the centerpiece of the National Council of La Raza’s “Stop the Hate” campaign. “Hate” was loosely defined as any position that differed from La Raza’s advocacy of loose borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants. La Raza used the SPLC’s “findings” to try to silence its critics, and the mainstream media, always eager to portray conservatives as racists, cheerfully repeated the slur in its woefully biased coverage of the amnesty debate. Stop the Hate claimed its biggest scalp when Lou Dobbs stepped away from his microphone at CNN—by most accounts, a voluntary move, but one hastened by the network’s growing discomfort with the controversy surrounding Dobbs’s outspoken views on immigration.
FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA are far from hate groups. They are wonky, white-paper-generating organizations committed to nothing more controversial than cutting back immigration from its post-1965 high of 1 million new immigrants a year to the more traditional level of 300,000. They shy away from the more racially charged aspects of the debate, which reflects their roots in the wing of the immigration-restrictionist movement animated primarily by environmental and economic concerns rather than blood and soil.
But such facts cannot be allowed to get in the way of a good fundraising mailing—or a malicious attempt to drum certain viewpoints out of polite society. In its fevered writings about immigration reformers, the SPLC has concocted conspiracies so elaborate they would raise eyebrows within the John Birch Society. While the Birchers have David Rockefeller, the SPLC has Michigan environmental activist John Tanton: the “puppeteer” supposedly pulling the strings whenever leading immigration reformers Mark Kirkorian and Roy Beck speak, the all-purpose explanation for why seemingly colorblind arguments against mass immigration can be readily dismissed as thinly disguised racism.
Krikorian’s CIS decided to strike back. Senior fellow Jerry Kammer, a respected journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for helping to uncover the Congressman Duke Cunningham bribery scandal, wrote their report slashing much of the SPLC’s work to ribbons. “The SPLC’s decision to smear FAIR was the work of a kangaroo court, one convened to reach a pre-determined verdict by inventing or distorting evidence,” Kammer wrote. “The ‘Stop the Hate’ campaign would more accurately be labeled as a campaign to ‘Stop the Debate.’” The tactic is so effective that liberals have begun deploying it in debates on issues with no obvious racial connotations—healthcare reform, deficit spending, and Tea Party protests.
Without denying either the SPLC’s good early work on civil rights or the existence of bad actors in the immigration-reform movement, Kammer shows that Dees is no nonpartisan, dispassionate observer of the immigration debate, which may explain why the SPLC only detects hate on one side of the issue despite ample evidence of racist remarks by La Raza radicals. Kammer also skillfully debunks the SPLC’s immigration conspiracy theory, conceding that Tanton has occasionally been reckless in his statements and associations but documenting that the SPLC has inflated both the charges against the early immigration reformer and his influence on the contemporary movement.
Kammer’s report also focuses on an aspect of the SPLC long denounced by liberal magazines and newspapers—the excessive fundraising that has won Morris Dees a place in the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame but no comparable honor in the civil-rights movement. The SPLC took in over $32 million in contributions in 2008, an average of $88,755 per day. At the end of the 2008 fiscal year, the SPLC had more than $174 million in the bank even after its investments lost over $48 million in the financial crisis.
The CIS report claims Dees promised to stop his profligate fundraising after the SPLC’s endowment exceeded $50 million, but continued shaking the money tree after it reached $200 million. The group’s lavish headquarters, nicknamed the “Poverty Pentagon,” have made it a laughingstock among erstwhile allies on the Left. The Nation called Dees “a millionaire huckster”; left-wing journalist Alexander Coburn dubbed him the “arch-salesman of hatemongering.” “Morris Dees does not need your financial support,” Silverstein wrote in Harper’s. “The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America. … The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the SPLC one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors.”
“Hate sells; poor people don’t, which is why readers who go to the SPLC’s website will find only a handful of cases on such non-lucrative causes as fair housing, worker safety, or healthcare, many of those from the 1970s and 1980s,” JoAnn Wypijewski wrote in The Nation in 2001. “Why the organization continues to keep ‘Poverty’ (or even ‘Law’) in its name can be ascribed only to nostalgia or a cynical understanding of the marketing possibilities in class guilt.” At the CIS event, Silverstein quoted a civil-rights attorney as calling Dees’s operation “the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker of the civil-rights movement. And I don’t mean to demean Jim and Tammy Faye.”
Even some of the SPLC’s legitimate civil-rights work was exploited for profit. In 1987, Dees won a $7 million verdict against a Klan group that had brutally murdered a young black man. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that the SPLC “used nationwide fund-raising letters to create the image of a mighty Klan that actually had $7 million” to pay the victim’s mother. In fact, the woman only received about $52,000, most of which she had to pay back to the SPLC, which had given her an interest-free loan. Meanwhile, the SPLC raised $9 million in two years from mailings highlighting her case.
The SPLC’s antics, ranging from the above outrage to the merely absurd—Dees signing fundraising letters to Jewish potential donors as “Morris Seligman Dees”—harm more than guilty liberals’ wallets. To the extent that our current immigration policy is not in the national interest, the SPLC stands in the way of a solution. And it may ultimately foster the racism it claims to oppose.
Consider the case of Carol Swain, an African-American law professor at Vanderbilt who has been sounding the alarm about “the new white nationalism.” Because she approaches the subject from a scholarly rather than a fundraising perspective, she has raised the SPLC’s hackles. “When my face was smeared across the papers in my state with accusations that I was an apologist for white supremacy, I thought it was time to get involved,” Swain said at the CIS press conference. Driving the immigration debate underground, she argued, will silence legitimate restrictionists and empower genuine racists.
Swain concluded, “If we are concerned about extremists, the best thing we can do is include their voices in the dialogue. … [The SPLC] is actually making more converts to extremist organizations than they would if they let them talk about their concerns.” For years, Morris Dees has been expanding the number of hate groups on his fundraising lists. It would be a tragic result if his tactics helped them proliferate in real life.
Palin, History and Life
When Sarah Palin speaks, liberal feminists go wild. The woman is like a stilettoed catalyst for backlash from the professional political sisterhood.
Much of the bitterness that gushes forth from the lefty ladies has very little to do with Palin herself. It's about many of the things she represents: She's a happy mom, surrounded by a big family and husband; she's pro-life, religious and conservative; and, lest we forget, a political powerhouse the likes of which has not been seen for decades. Depending on who you are and the nature of your gripe, you can add and subtract to this list.
A most recent source of feminist madness over Palin stemmed from a speech she delivered at a Susan B. Anthony List fundraiser in Washington, D.C. The List is a group that supports candidates who are pro-life. It does so in the tradition of the early feminists who fought for life issues. The List, like other similar groups, including the group Feminists for Life, educates and promotes the largely forgotten or otherwise suppressed history of the women who fought for the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. These suffragettes were smart, at home with their femininity and perplexed by those who would deny the very power of life within them.
In many ways, the women among the Tea Party activists of today -- whom Palin counts as part of a "mom awakening" going on -- would be quite at home with their foremothers. If polls I've seen and rallies I've attended are any indication, today's female fighters are pro-life and sensible. They've seen the pain the last few decades of social radicalism has wrought. They're a danger to the feminist establishment.
And so in her speech, Palin talked about "a new revival of that original feminism of Susan B. Anthony." She said, "Together, we're showing young women that being pro-life is in keeping with the best traditions of the women's movement."
Palin talked about "empowering women," and in her worldview that translates into making sure women know that they have options when they are pregnant in "less-than-ideal circumstances." She talked beautifully about her son Trig and the transcendent challenge of raising a son with Down syndrome.
As the former governor of Alaska tends to do, Palin rallied the people about the future and their role in it. Referring to the recent health care debate and the failure of nearly every so-called pro-life Democrat to step up to the plate, Palin talked about how a "new pro-life, pro-woman majority will actually be pro-life when it counts, when those votes are needed."
And so for days after, there was the usual anti-Palin march of derision. On the Washington Post's website, two Anthony aficionados asserted: "Sarah Palin is no Susan B. Anthony." They lamely criticized Palin for not providing enough footnotes in her speech to prove that Anthony cared all that much about abortion.
As they worked to demonstrate that Anthony was indifferent on abortion, the Palin critics managed to conveniently skip over the other suffragettes and their writings in newspapers and letters. Like the letter Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to Julia Ward Howe in 1873 in which she explained, "When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."
The Post article dismisses anonymous editorials in the newspaper Anthony was intimately involved with. But to do so is to ignore the attitudes that were a natural part of the activism for which early feminists are most well-known. Attitudes that are truly reflective of so many pro-life groups today -- including the much derided and hated Catholic Church and evangelical activists who for decades now have labored to keep the fight active
One respondent to Palin argued: "Her usual rhetoric extolling the values and importance of freedoms doesn't extend to women." In the rhetoric and reality of the liberal feminist movement from which a comment like that is born, freedom doesn't extend to the unborn child. Increasingly, Americans are not tolerating this. In the tradition of the suffragettes, women, increasingly, will have none of it.
And so I understand why women of the left react early and often to Palin. It's not about her, it's about the threat to their power she represents. They've based so much of their political activism on the tenets of the sexual revolution, which have been such a disaster for women, men, children, and families. But the jig is up. It didn't fly with the likes of Anthony and Stanton. And it's increasingly not flying now. It's not the pro-lifers who went rogue in the first place.
Melanie Phillips on a World Gone Mad
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s notable about the current “apparent mass departure from rationality”?
MELANIE PHILLIPS: What I have found so striking is that, in this supposed age of reason, there is such an implacable refusal, over a wide and disparate range of issues, to acknowledge the authority of factual evidence over opinion, or distinguish truth from propaganda and lies, or differentiate between justice and injustice, victim and victimizer. More than that, this phenomenon is confined to the supposed custodians of reason, the intelligentsia; and some of the most prominent of these often-militant “rationalists” propound assertions that are demonstrably irrational.
Even more striking is that this repudiation of reason is associated with the most fashionable and progressive causes — anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, environmentalism, moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism, scientism. Yet they promote not just irrationality but a return to primitivism, pre-modern levels of social disorder, and the persecution of dissenters.
LOPEZ: What does a self-described “agnostic” care about God?
PHILLIPS: You don’t have to be a religious believer to understand that if religion — more specifically, the Hebrew Bible and the Christianity that built upon it — underpins Western civilization and the codes of right and wrong — putting others above yourself, freedom and equality, and belief in reason — that form the bedrock of that civilization, then eroding or destroying that religion will erode or destroy those virtues and the civilization they distinguish.
LOPEZ: You write that progressives, Islamists, environmentalists, fascists, militant atheists, and religious fanatics are “united by a common desire to bring about through human agency the perfection of the world.” Is this becoming more apparent?
PHILLIPS: It may seem strange to lump all these ideologies together since they are all so different. But, when you look at them, it is immediately apparent that they are all at root utopian, millenarian visions of the perfection of the world through human agency — the age-old recipe for totalitarian terror. The idea that fascism is in a wholly different place from the Left is in my view quite misplaced: Although conventionally one is described as “right” and the other as “left,” this is historically and philosophically inaccurate; they share common roots in the repudiation of individual reason and liberty.
One of the mysteries of the age is the way “progressives” who fetishize sexual freedom, gay rights, female equality, and the like march shoulder to shoulder with Islamists who stone adulterers, kill gays, and subjugate women. They share a common desire to destroy the cultural traditions and normative values of the West — all in the cause of creating the perfect society, which creates in turn a totalitarian mindset, which links religious fanatics and the political tyrannies of both Communism and fascism.
To some of us, this is very apparent — but many who are in the grip of these delusions are frighteningly incapable of understanding what it is that they don’t understand.
LOPEZ: Why do you put the word “progressives” in quotation marks?
PHILLIPS: Glad you asked that! Because there’s nothing progressive about the totalitarian fanatics of the Left, even though they claim that label for themselves. One of our biggest problems is the hijacking of language by the Left, which has turned words such as “liberal,” “tolerant,” and “progressive” into their very opposites. I do believe in being progressive in the true sense — the authentic, classical-liberal goal of creating a better society by encouraging the good and discouraging the bad. But to achieve that, we have to reclaim the language of social progress for its true meaning, which is based on a proper differentiation between right and wrong, truth and lies, justice and injustice. Until we do that, we allow ourselves to be co-opted into the discourse of moral and intellectual inversion, and we allow the lunatics to run the asylum.
I do hope that this language is not politically incorrect.
LOPEZ: Are there really a hundred thousand practicing pagans in Britain today? There’s a Pagan Police Association?
PHILLIPS: Yup! It’s testimony, is it not, to the rich diversity of diversity in Britain? We all have to keep straight faces while our police officers take official leave to dance naked ’round a pile of stones.
LOPEZ: So Islam is not London’s only religion problem.
PHILLIPS: The real problem in Britain is not Islam but the vacuum in British culture which Islam is opportunistically attempting to fill. That vacuum has been caused by the retreat and surrender of the Christian church under the tide of secularism and aggressive atheism. This has opened the door not to an age of reason but to an epidemic of paganism — environmentalism, or worship of the earth, is the most conspicuous example, but there’s lots of other absurd stuff, too, such as seances, crystals, astrology, and the like. The Islamization of Britain is only taking place because the spiritual playing field has been abandoned to hyper-individualism and irrationality. The U.S. isn’t immune to this madness by the way — just look at Madonna and “Kabbalah” (not).
LOPEZ: How is “Londonistan” faring? Any better? Any worse?
PHILLIPS: Better in the narrow but obviously highly important sense that our security people have picked up on and stopped so many Islamist plots against Britain. But just as bad, or even worse, in the degree to which the political and security establishments still refuse to acknowledge that Britain and the West are the victims of a religious war, an Islamic jihad. They refuse to use the terms “Islamic extremism” or “Islamic terrorism.” Sound familiar?
Worse, they believe that the Muslim Brotherhood — who are the spiritual fathers of al-Qaeda and Hamas amongst others, and whose aim is to reestablish the medieval Islamic caliphate and conquer the world for Islam — are just a bunch of harmless religious nuts who can be used to divert impressionable young British Muslims away from terror. So they actually employ such Islamic extremists in government — as advisers against Islamic extremism. They are doing nothing to halt the advance of a parallel sharia jurisdiction and are even welcoming sharia finance. Only people who have lost touch with rationality in general can be so blind, surely.
LOPEZ: Why does Princess Diana remain an important cultural case study?
PHILLIPS: The hysteria over Princess Diana was a spectacular example of the tendency towards psychological projection, in which the public projects its deepest fears and fantasies onto a public figure who is held to transcend disadvantage. At its worst, this process makes the celebrity into a kind of sainted figure. A similar kind of pathological projection took Barack Obama into the White House.
LOPEZ: Tell me about “kitsch emotion,” what it is, and why it’s important to recognize.
PHILLIPS: Kitsch emotion replaces real feelings, such as love or grief, with a sentimentalized pastiche that is, at root, all about making the person feel good about himself. Thus, as with the death of Diana, people advertise their moral worth with open displays of grief over someone they only knew as a media construct; emotional restraint is seen not as an admirable stoicism but as evidence of callousness.
These are emotions for a narcissistic age; they are all about the self, not about looking out for other people. It’s important to recognize this so that we can distinguish them from the real thing — which otherwise will become confused and may be lost altogether, along with our concern for others and our whole understanding of the difference between what is true and what is false.
LOPEZ: How can Britain be “post-religious” when religion seems to be an issue there?
PHILLIPS: It’s post-Christian, to be more precise; in other words, the indigenous population has turned away from faith in and adherence to the doctrines and moral precepts of the religion that underpins British society. By comparison with the U.S., Britain is pretty godless.
LOPEZ: “People didn’t want to hear about the anti-white, anti-Western church to which he had belonged for twenty years, nor about his questionable associations with people in Chicago’s corrupt political machine, nor about his friendships with and tutelage by anti-Western radicals.” Is this at the heart of so many problems? People simply don’t want to know?
PHILLIPS: Yes, it’s human nature, unfortunately, to hide heads in sand and hope unpleasant things will just go away. But what’s so alarming now is the extent to which people are allowing emotionalism and wishful fantasies to delude them, especially at such a dangerous juncture for the world. The way in which the American public refused to acknowledge the evidence of Obama’s radical background and thus elected an anti-Western radical to the White House was indeed a conspicuous example of this flight from reality.
LOPEZ: Has the public fully appreciated the significance of the Climate Research Unit fraud?
PHILLIPS: One of the striking aspects of mass ideological delusion is a refusal to acknowledge even the clearest evidence of the intellectual and moral corruption at its core. The gerrymandering of scientific evidence by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, in order to uphold the theory of anthropogenic global warming in the face of evidence that the earth was not warming at all, has been pushed aside as either an artificially created uproar or, at worst, an error of judgment by one hard-pressed scientist.
It was far worse than that, of course, because the various scientists involved had been for years absolutely central to the promulgation of AGW theory; and what the leaked emails revealed was their instinctive impulse to wrench the facts to fit their prior assumptions. Most chilling of all was their unshakeable certainty that they had a duty thus to wrench that evidence — in order to demonstrate the truth of the theory, because it was simply impossible that there could be evidence to the contrary.
What was also glossed over or missed altogether in the uproar over East Anglia was that AGW theory has been sustained on the back of one scientific fraud or sloppy and flawed research exercise after another. Yet astonishingly, it is still being promoted quite shamelessly by those for whom there can simply be no contradiction to the theory, and who thus project in turn all the falsehoods and frauds onto the skeptic side of the argument. It is surely the biggest exercise in totalitarian thought-reversal and reality-denial since Stalinism.
LOPEZ: If it is “demonstrably untrue” that “Bush lied, people died,” how has it taken root so deeply?
PHILLIPS: Through the refusal of a highly ideological media — composed of visceral Bush-haters, Israel-bashers, and transnational “progressives” — to report what was actually out there in terms of evidence or even follow the elementary rules of logic on the related topics of the Iraq war they had overwhelmingly opposed and the Islamic jihad they blamed on Israel. As a result, simple facts, such as the reasons Bush or Blair actually gave for the war or what the Iraq Survey Group actually found, were airbrushed out of the debate, and history was effectively rewritten — with virtually no dissent allowed.
LOPEZ: What is scientific triumphalism? Does harping on it make you anti-science?
PHILLIPS: Scientific triumphalism is the belief that scientific materialism alone has the answers to all the questions in the universe. This causes science to overreach beyond its proper realm, seeking to explain what is explicable, into claiming to explain what is inexplicable, which is properly the realm of religion. The attempt to use materialism to explain what it cannot explain causes promoters of scientism to become irrational. So pointing this out is certainly not anti-science. It is against the perversion of science.
LOPEZ: Is there a secular inquisition?
PHILLIPS: Yes. By that, I mean that secular ideologies such as environmentalism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, scientism, moral relativism, multiculturalism, and so forth have a quasi-religious belief that they embody a revealed truth that cannot permit any challenge. And yet all these ideologies, which are militantly secular and which hold that religion is a source of irrationality and oppression, resemble to an uncanny degree the millenarian beliefs of Christianity in the Middle Ages and Islam through the ages; their dogmatic belief in a revealed truth of sin, guilt, and redemption caused heretics to be persecuted. Today, we have secular inquisitions in which heretics are also persecuted for expressing forbidden ideas that challenge the received assumption of “virtue”; thus we have the demonization of dissenters.
LOPEZ: What is the “Middle East Witch-Hunt”?
PHILLIPS: Medieval witch-hunts involved singling out certain women as scapegoats and then killing them for crimes of which they were innocent but of which they found themselves incapable of proving their innocence because the case against them was rigged. In Britain in particular, but also in parts of Europe and on American campuses (see the Mearsheimer/Walt calumny), there is an obsessive malice toward Israel which goes far beyond reasoned debate and has become a pathological scapegoating of a nation.
The treatment of Israel by the left-wing Western intelligentsia is unique in its irrationality and moral and historical inversion. It takes a nation that is the historic victim of aggression and blames it for jeopardizing peace in the region and causing Islamic extremism worldwide — despite demonstrable evidence that this is simply untrue. It accuses Israel, wholly falsely, of “apartheid” and ethnic cleansing when Israeli Arabs have full civil rights and the Palestinian population has increased many times over — and when Jews are excluded from parts of the Arab world (including the putative state of Palestine).
It takes a nation that has been under exterminatory attack for six decades (nine, if you include the Palestine Mandate) and insists that it make compromises with its attackers, even as they continue to attack it. And if any Jew dares protest at the manifest injustice, lies, and bigotry in this unique delegitimization, they find themselves accused of “dual loyalty” or being part of a covert global conspiracy to put the world at risk.
LOPEZ: With polls suggesting President Obama is hurting with Jewish voters, are there signs that Jewish voters may divorce themselves from the Left?
PHILLIPS: No; the world would surely stop turning on its axis were this to happen. More seriously, of course some may do so; and Orthodox Jews are already more inclined to vote Republican. But among liberal Jews, the most I would expect is a turning away from Obama — if even that — rather than a divorce from the Democratic party.
LOPEZ: Does the BBC hate Jews?
PHILLIPS: No, not Jews per se. The BBC simply embodies the world-view of the Left, which demonizes Israel and holds America responsible for Israel’s behavior. Of course, you might say that is itself a form of Jew-hatred, but that is an argument that needs to be unpacked.
LOPEZ: What can be done about anti-Semitism in the West? Elsewhere?
PHILLIPS: Jew-hatred, as I prefer to call it, can surely never be eradicated. But the lies that currently fuel it — lies about Israel’s behavior, the history of the Middle East, and so on — should be publicly confronted and exploded. Similarly, the ways in which the blood libels about the Jews pouring out of the Arab and Muslim worlds are poisoning minds not just in that world but in the West should also be prominently discussed, along with the continuity between the Arab/Palestinian agenda and that of the Nazis, whose allies they once were.
One of the main problems is the silence of Israel on this mass derangement in the West, and its failure to challenge it forensically and systematically. This has left an intellectual vacuum into which bigotry flows. While the irrationality of Jew-hatred cannot be defeated by reason, there are many in Britain and the West who are not natural bigots but are actually people of high-minded conscience, who have merely been indoctrinated with falsehoods about Israel that are never publicly challenged. Some of those people, at least, can certainly be reached by addressing their ignorance.
LOPEZ: Is relativism the problem? How do you combat it?
PHILLIPS: Relativism, or the belief that there is no hierarchy of values, not even truth over lies, is at the root of these problems. In my view, it is a product of aggressive secularism, and thus can only be addressed by a return to Judeo-Christian values and beliefs.
LOPEZ: What’s so special about Britain? Why and how is it at the forefront?
PHILLIPS: Britain is particularly godless, as discussed above. It is thus furthest advanced in social, cultural, and moral breakdown, hugely exacerbated by the loss of its belief in itself as a nation and the demoralization — in every sense — that has followed from that. But as the parent of the English-speaking world, it still punches culturally far above its weight. Where it leads today, others will surely follow. And since Britain was first into the Enlightenment and is now first out, America and the rest of the West should be concerned.
LOPEZ: How close behind — or ahead — is the U.S.?
PHILLIPS: The U.S. is relatively well protected through Middle America, which is still overwhelmingly God-fearing and committed to the American nation and its particular values. But all the things I’ve been talking about are nevertheless steadily encroaching. The culture wars have been raging in the U.S. for decades now, and the universities are particularly porous to these noxious ideologies. And then there’s Obama . . .
LOPEZ: Is the existence of the EU part of the problem?
PHILLIPS: The EU is the embodiment of the doctrine to which the Left now subscribes: “transnational progressivism,” or the belief that the nation is illegitimate and is trumped by supranational institutions and laws promoting the Brotherhood of Man through “universal” values. This is deeply anti-democratic and secularizing, standing against the particulars of creed or culture. So yes, the EU is both symptom and, partly, cause of this problem.
LOPEZ: What was the most alarming fact you learned during the course of writing your book?
PHILLIPS: The full extent of the persecution of dissidents from all these ideologies within the academy.
LOPEZ: What was the most consoling fact you learned during the course of writing The World Turned Upside Down?
PHILLIPS: That so many, many people throughout the West think as I do.
LOPEZ: If every reader took one action item from your book, what would you want it to be?
PHILLIPS: To make known the truth about the monstrous misrepresentation of Israel, the key and normative issue of our time from which so much else follows.
The Stars & Stripes: Always 'Two Thumbs Up'
AOL News reports that film critic Roger Ebert criticized the five California teens who wore clothing bearing the American flag to school on May 5th — Cinco de Mayo. He announced on his Twitter page that the five should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on July 4th. Brilliant. And this guy actually won a Pulitzer.
The five students, of course, were sent home, but the school’s principal has since apologized. Now, if only Ebert and Juan Williams (appearing on The O’Reilly Factor) would follow suit.
Ebert, probably America’s premier film critic, should stick to penning the praises of his cinematic favorites, such as Booty Call. He once wrote a column — now how’s this for originality? — questioning Sarah Palin’s intellectual curiosity. How about a nationally-known conservative film critic — now that would be original. Ebert, who has lost his voice and suffered disfigurement due to thyroid cancer, reportedly received angry retorts from bloggers making fun of his physical state. Naturally, AOL focused as much on that aspect as on the disrespect of America’s flag on her native soil, the same flag for which thousands of Americans are dead and just as severely disfigured as Ebert.
Note to Ebert and others: the American flag is never out of place or inappropriate in the United States. Not on any day of the year. To the 40 percent (noted by Ebert) of the school who are Hispanic, Old Glory stands proudly as an inspiration, a symbol of values such as freedom and opportunity that either your immediate family or your ancestors obviously valued. Why else would you be in the USA?
To anyone who is offended at any time by the American flag — don’t let the door hit you on the way out! We don’t keep people in — that’s the domain of Hollywood’s favorite political pop star, Fidel Castro. And would the face of Hugo Chavez (beloved by critical fave Sean Penn) emblazoned on a T-shirt bear moral equivalence to the Stars and Stripes? Therein lays the stifling confines of political correctness: The edicts of right and wrong are built on the quicksands, not of mob rule, but of the equally short-sighted fashions of elite opinion makers.
Speaking of which, commentator Juan Williams opined that a potentially volatile situation merited quick attention, thus the students being forced to change their shirts or go home. Williams wrote off the tension to the testosterone of teenage boys — with Mexican and American flags little more than gang symbols. An American flag was snatched from a student, but, hey, boys will be boys, and who are we to judge?
These young men are patriots, Juan. We see patriots on the streets and on the battlefields but not often enough in the comfort zones of political roundtables and certainly not in the entertainment sections of Chicago newspapers. Who in the media have the guts of these fellows, but more importantly, who is on their side? Certainly no one on FOX News at that moment.
Once we lose sight of our symbols and shared values, freedoms will surely topple one by one. But then, of course, that is the very aim of liberalism, which is why liberty begs for saving not merely from masses of illegal immigrants unwilling to assimilate but from liberals within our own borders.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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