Thursday, August 20, 2015
America's Culture War Starts Claiming Victims
To hear the professional left’s “culture commandos” tell it, revered conservative author, commentator, and documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza is a criminal – and stark, raving mad. A search for D’Souza online, and will quickly show that he’s a “convicted felon.” His Wikipedia page, for instance, references him as an “Indian American political commentator, convicted felon and author” (emphasis added) – making sure his brush with the law is listed ahead of his status as a best-selling writer, and well ahead of his status as the most successful conservative documentary filmmaker of all time.
If one searches for recent news about D’Souza, one will find that a federal judge recently ordered him to undergo ongoing psychiatric treatment as a condition of his probation.
“Mr. D’Souza has weaknesses in controlling his own impulses and … is prone to anger in reaction to criticism,” the judge stated.
Really? Or was he too successful in criticizing Barack Obama?
Navigating the fine print, one eventually learns that D’Souza’s “crime” involved relatively minor campaign finance infractions committed on behalf of his friend Wendy Long during her 2012 U.S. Senate race. Dig deeper, and it becomes readily apparent that D’Souza isn’t mentally ill – far from it.
Rather, he's the latest victim of America’s “culture war” – an attempt to radically remake this nation in the image of Soviet Russia.
The tarring and feathering of D’Souza is but one high-profile example of a pervasive, anti-American assault on core conservative, constitutional values – and those who dare to advance them. It is no longer merely “government overreach,” “liberal bias in the media,” or “political correctness run amok.” It is something more sinister: an increasingly brazen totalitarian effort to remake American democracy in the image of statist, conformist, command-economy orthodoxy.
This “vast left-wing conspiracy” leverages regulatory edicts, PC “teachable moments,” and crony capitalist financial pressures to suppress the ideals and ideologies that once made our nation the envy of the civilized world. Its objectives? Compulsory tolerance, selective justice, the perpetual subsidization of our dependency culture, open borders, a disarmed populace, vaporized property rights, warrantless mass surveillance, the ceding of popular authority to the state (and American sovereignty to the world), the deification of progressive leaders, mass youth indoctrination via government-subsidized revisionist history, the debasing of religious freedom, the erosion of the U.S. Constitution, and the relegation of our nation’s two founding pillars – freedom and free markets – to the dustbin of history.
Think that’s hyperbolic? Consider retired liberal general Wesley Clark – the former supreme NATO commander in Europe – who last month said American citizens who disagreed with their government should be sent to internment camps. Then consider U.S. senator and 2016 presidential candidate Lindsey Graham – who said he’d consider using military force on the U.S. Congress if it didn’t fund the Department of Defense to his liking.
Where are the charges against these traitors? And which federal judge is ordering them to be subjected to mental evaluations?
Let’s compare D’Souza’s “crime” to the conduct of former U.S. senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, who was indicted for allegedly funneling $1 million in campaign contributions to his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Edwards’s campaign finance scandal took place as he was running for president – and as he was conspiring to place the blame for his and Hunter’s love child on one of his staffers. Finally, the scandal took place as his wife was dying of cancer.
Edwards got off scot-free. Not one of the charges against him stuck. And no one accused him of being crazy.
D’Souza? He was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house and five years’ probation and ordered to pay $30,000 in fines. He was also required to undergo eight months of court-mandated “therapeutic counseling” by liberal U.S. district court judge Richard Berman – best known for his 2008 ruling forcing U.S. taxpayers to subsidize “halal” meals for Islamic criminals.
Yet to hear the vast left-wing conspirators tell it, D’Souza is the crazy one.
Speaking of crazy, consider how the vast left-wing conspiracy treated the “gender evolution” of the athlete formerly known as Bruce Jenner. Obviously American citizens – as their means permit – are free to pursue their idealized selves. That’s what individual liberty and market freedom are all about. Jenner is free to call himself Caitlyn – and pay for multiple procedures to surgically transform himself from a man into a woman.
No one’s stopping him – or her – from doing that. In fact, no one did. Nor did any credible voice at any stage of the process argue that Jenner didn’t have the right to undergo such a transformation.
But acceptance wasn’t the left’s objective – force-fed tolerance was. It wasn’t enough for those of us who disagreed with (or were repulsed by) Jenner’s transformation to hold our tongues. According to the vast left-wing conspirators, we had to affirmatively applaud it.
For future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, even that wasn’t enough. Last month, The New York Post rebuked Favre for failing to clap with sufficient enthusiasm as Jenner took the stage at the 2015 ESPY Awards.
“As the audience erupts with applause, the camera pans over to Favre as he claps slowly before rubbing his hands together,” the Post reported, arguing that Favre’s failure to sufficiently gush over Jenner made the ceremony “uncomfortable for everyone.”
This is eerily reminiscent of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, in which the director of a Moscow paper factory received a ten-year sentence for sitting down at the eleven-minute mark of a standing ovation to Joseph Stalin. For his crime of insufficient enthusiasm, he was arrested later that night on a trumped up charge and bluntly told by his interrogator, “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.”
“That was how they discovered who the independent people were,” Solzhenitsyn wrote. “And that was how they went about eliminating them.”
Make no mistake: this is where America is headed.
Consider what’s happening in Chappaqua, New York – hometown of presumed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. As part of its Orwellian “neighborhood engineering” efforts, the administration of Barack Obama wants to force this Empire State hamlet to nullify its zoning ordinances to erect a low-income housing development.
Replete with racist assumptions of inferiority and intolerance, Obama’s compulsory integration permits government meddling in one of our most basic freedoms – where we choose to live.
Everywhere we turn, American freedoms and free markets are under attack – from Obamacare’s insidious individual mandate to the IRS persecution of conservative groups to the NSA’s warrantless mass surveillance of all Americans.
All the while, the national debt is soaring, our entitlements are on the verge of being exhausted, labor participation is at four-decade lows, wages are stagnant, and America’s status as the world’s only superpower is crumbling every bit as fast as the rule of law is eroding here at home.
In the documentary that made him a household name, Dinesh D’Souza criticized the Obama administration for eroding America from within – which is exactly what’s happening to our country. As D’Souza pays the price for his prescience, the vast left-wing conspiracy is sending a simple message to anyone who dares to follow in his footsteps: “Fall in line now.”
Oh, and as the interrogator in Solzhenitsyn’s book warned, “don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.”
GOP Endorses National Religious Liberty Bill
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the Republican National Committee supported a piece of legislation that would affirm the Liberty enumerated in the First Amendment, despite the discrimination witch hunts run by the Rainbow Mafia. “Resolved, The Republican National Committee urges Congress to pass and the President to sign The First Amendment Defense Act to protect the rights of believers to equal treatment by the government of The United States of America,” the RNC resolution concluded.
This strong stance for the right to conscience comes after the RNC rejected two resolutions, one that dealt with how same-sex unions should be taught in schools, and another that encouraged states to pass resolutions undermining the SCOTUS ruling. It’s a politically wise move. While upholding the sanctity of marriage is more difficult than ever in the current culture, the GOP is trying to ensure every American can live at peace in a pluralistic society.
Are Republicans Happier in Their Marriages Than Democrats?
They're nicer people so they should be
Republicans are happier and more stable in their marriages than Democrats, according to a study released Monday.
W. Bradford Wilcox, a prominent sociologist at the University of Virginia, released the analysis finding that Republicans are more often married, less likely to be divorced, and happier in their marriages than Democrats.
Forty percent of Democrats between the ages of 20 and 60 are currently married versus 57 percent of Republicans in the same age range, according to evaluation of the national General Social Survey.
Among Democrats who have previously married, 47 percent have been divorced compared to 41 percent of Republicans who have previously married.
Wilcox said this is potentially because Republicans are more likely to embrace a “marriage-mindset,” which views marriage as the best way to “anchor” a relationship and a family. He said this mindset also emphasizes marriage as a binding commitment, which makes people more likely to invest themselves into the institution.
“If you value an institution and if you value a relationship, you’re more likely to give that person and institution the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Wilcox and his co-author Nicholas Wolfinger also explored marital quality, finding that among those who are married, 67 percent of Republicans say they are “very happy” in their marriages. Sixty percent of Democrats say the same, marking a seven-point gap.
This disparity shrank to 3 percent when the researchers controlled for demographic and cultural differences between each party.
White and religious Americans, who are more likely to identify as Republicans, were also more likely to report they are “very happy” in their marriages. Education did not play a significant role.
Wilcox and Wolfinger wrote in their report for the Institute for Family Studies that while race and religiosity account for more than half of the “Republican advantage” in marital quality, the remainder may be explained through attitudes.
“Perhaps Republicans are more optimistic, more charitable, or more inclined to look at their marriages through rose-colored glasses,” they wrote.
Wilcox said this blend of optimism and charity along with the tendency of conservatives to view marriage more favorably could explain why Republicans perceive their marriages more positively.
Wilcox said he began investigating the link between partisanship and marriage following the rise of the 2010 book “Red Families v. Blue Families,” which argued that blue regions cultivate stronger and more stable families because of liberal emphasis on education and the tendency to delay marriage and parenthood, all of which are linked to lower divorce rates.
Wilcox said his study shows that the “presumption” that blue families are stronger and more stable “doesn’t hold water in many important respects” and, in fact, “suggests the contrary.”
We must be free to hurt Muslims’ feelings
Why we must stand with Bangladesh’s vilified secularist bloggers
Following the hacking to death of yet another Bangladeshi secularist blogger, a Bangladeshi police chief has come up with an idea for how these gruesome murders might be halted: secularists should stop criticising religion. Yes, according to Shahidul Haque, the problem is not the machetes being wielded by the intolerant Islamists who can handle no questioning of their beliefs; no, it’s the blasphemous words being published on the blogs of secularists, atheists and free thinkers. If only these people would stop expressing their beliefs, or their lack of belief, then they wouldn’t run the risk of being slaughtered. They ‘crossed the line’, said Haque. If they would just stop ‘hurting religious sentiment’, then they’d be okay.
This extraordinary act of victim-blaming — which can be summarised as ‘Shut the hell up if you want to live’ — came in response to the hacking to death of Niloy Neel in Dhaka. He’s the fourth secularist blogger to be killed this year. Ananta Bijoy Das was stabbed to death on his way to work in June, for daring to contribute to a blog devoted to the promotion of ‘science, rationalism, humanism and freethinking’. The founder of that blog, Avijit Roy, was murdered in February. And Washiqur Rahman was killed with meat cleavers in March. All had been on radical Islamists’ death lists. All were killed for the ‘crime’ of disrespecting, or in Haque’s words ‘hurting’, the dominant belief system in Bangladesh: Islam. What is happening there is like a drawn-out version of what happened at Charlie Hebdo in January: the killing of people for having the supposedly wrong worldview.
Yet even though the police chief’s response to Neel’s killing sounds callous and censorious, doesn’t it also sound familiar? If you want to stay safe, don’t cross the line… where have we heard this before? We heard it after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. And again following the shooting at a free-speech event in Copenhgan in February. But then, it wasn’t a foreign police boss who was basically saying ‘Silence yourself if you want to live’ — it was liberals, Europe’s chattering classes, even the literary set, all of whom expressed the idea that murdered critics of Islam are responsible for their deaths long before Haque’s hamfisted response to the murder of Neel.
After the Copenhagen shooting, a Guardian writer said: ‘Free speech as legal and moral pre-requisites in a free society must be defended. But…’ Ah, the inevitable ‘but’ that follows every unconvincing declaration of support for free speech these days. ‘But’, he said, ‘we must guard against the understandable temptation to be provocative in the publication of [anti-Islamic] cartoons if the sole objective is to establish that we can do so. With rights to free speech come responsibilities.’ In short, ‘don’t cross the line’ — exactly what the Bangladeshi police chief said to godless bloggers.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a writer for the New Statesman said we cannot have ‘the right to offend’ with ‘no corresponding responsibility’. ‘[T]here are always going to be lines that… cannot be crossed’, he said. Perhaps it was this slippery apology for the massacre at Charlie Hebdo which inspired the Bangladeshi police chief to say: ‘None should cross the limit.’ Who’d have thought it: a writer for the house magazine of the British left and a head of police in a less-than-liberal state sharing the same view — that when it comes to freedom of expression, there are lines / limits. Don’t want to be shot at your desk? Then don’t mock Muhammad. Don’t want to be hacked to pieces on your way to work? Then don’t be a secularist. Respect the lines, respect the limits.
And of course, in April numerous authors, including Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje and Joyce Carol Oates, publicly balked at American PEN’s decision to give a freedom of expression award to Charlie Hebdo. Their reasoning for getting all sniffy over celebrating the commitment to free speech of a magazine that lost 10 members of staff for defending free speech — infinitely more than any of them has ever done — was striking. Given that France has a large number of ‘devout Muslims’, many of them with experiences of ‘France’s various colonial enterprises’, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons ‘must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering’. In short, they hurt people’s feelings, and that is bad. Same thing Shahidul Haque is now saying to Bangladesh’s threatened secularist bloggers: ‘Don’t hurt religious sentiment.’
That there can be so much in common between supposed liberals in the West and a police chief in Dhaka is alarming. What they fundamentally agree on is that people’s feelings are more important than freedom of speech. Yeah, yeah, you can have free speech, but… but don’t use it to make any religious people or minority groups feel bad. There is a disturbing unholy marriage between these influential people who are cagey about free speech and the Islamist hotheads who carry out attacks on speakers who offend them. The more that Western liberals or Bangladeshi coppers send the message that it’s really bad to use speech to criticise or ridicule the religious, the more some of the more extreme elements within a religion will think: ‘Yeah, it is. I’m taking action.’ The sanctification of hurt feelings gives extremists a licence to seek vengeance for their own hurt feelings. Mainstream society demonises the hurting of religious feelings; non-mainstream violent individuals act on this demonisation and punish the ‘hurters’. Political and literary cowardice in relation to free speech inflames physical assaults on free speech.
Across the West, people’s feelings are being elevated over freedom. Whether it’s plays being shut down because they might offend Muslims, billboards being withdrawn because they rattled feminists, or adverts on buses being taken down because they might ‘hurt’ gay people’s self-esteem, we now seem to value the protection of feelings more than freedom of speech. No, we don’t use machetes to silence those who hurt us, preferring instead petitions and Twitterstorms. But the difference is one of gravity and bloodiness, not moral intent: in all these cases, from Western Europe to the blood-stained streets of Bangladesh, the arrogant aim is the same — to silence those who ‘hurt’ us. Enough. We cannot abandon the Bangladeshi bloggers, or act as if they brought these attacks on themselves. Their freedom of speech is infinitely more important than the feelings of one or even one billion Muslims. Just as our freedom of speech is more important than the sensitivities of any community group or political campaign over here. You feel hurt? Tough shit. Grow up. Deal with it. We will carry on saying what we want to say.
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.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.