- Read The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
- Find a principle that is simple, obvious, and universal.
- Rest assured that the next big wave of social activism will argue that the opposite is true.
- Repeat every 10 years or so.
Whatever its merits and mistakes, climate change science has certainly created a cult of bandwagon fangirls, eager to advertise their righteousness and stigmatize any heretic. There is now an alchemy of magical thinking online, existing to distinguish the superiority of those who prize moral rectitude over the actual scientific method. I saw a tweet from one such zealous disciple this week whose smugness prompted me to respond. I think the exchange speaks for itself.
She didn’t answer after that, and I didn’t think pressing the point would have been productive.
Tweets are pretty ephemeral little things, but this one from a few weeks ago has stayed with me. What a perfect illustration of the ridiculous insanity today. Three screen shots will demonstrate some highlights (or lowlights), though the whole thread has many more of both. Go read the whole thing if you want to be sad.
Despite the hope implied in the masthead of this blog–“The rebel of the 21st century will be old fashioned”–I don’t know if there’s really a resurgence of conservative culture on the rise, especially since so little of what is coming into power now is actually conservative.
However, if the Right is about to enjoy a cultural moment of influence, some seem keen to abuse it…or at least are enamored of the fear that it might be abused:
Back in 2009 when Nancy Pelosi and the proggies were ramming ObamaCare down our throats someone opined that they were acting like they’d never lose another election. Since then they’ve spent eight years weaponizing the federal government. Now they’ve handed all that power over to The Donald and the Republicans and they’re terrified that we’ll do to them what they wanted Hillary to do to us. They’re looking under their beds and in their closets, terrified they might find the monsters of their own creation. The monsters they thought they’d control.
But monsters, once created, are notoriously difficult to control. You’d think all those English Lit majors would have remembered that, and we should remember it too…
This will be a chance to prove ourselves to posterity. Now we will see if we truly live by values, or if we will succumb to the growing temptation to be populist fascists. For example, I agree entirely with this:
Conservatives have understandably felt for decades that the higher education establishment is indifferent or hostile to their interests. The number of right-of-center faculty has dwindled to the point of disappearance; Republican speakers are regularly shouted down; campus speech codes and harassment policies seem designed to disfavor conservative points of view. Now that the cultural wind is at their backs as never before, some on the Right may be tempted to be vindictive, and to do to college liberals what college liberals have done to them. Ben Carson, currently being considered for a Trump Administration cabinet position, suggested during the primaries that the government should police colleges for liberal bias.
Needless to say, such efforts would be deeply destructive. If Orwellian left-wing speech codes are wrong, then McCarthyist speech codes are wrong as well. If the principle of academic freedom requires the protection of conservative scholarship, it requires the protection of liberal scholarship, too. The aim of genuine defenders of the liberal tradition must be to promote tolerance and open-mindedness, not to replace left-wing academic hegemony with a right-wing version.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, and two wrongs don’t make the Right.
As usual, we’re hearing about how unfair it is that the popular vote doesn’t always win. *sigh* No, that’s what does keep the system fair.
The Founders cared about making sure everyone’s rights were protected; that’s reflected, for example, in the division of Congress into two houses, chosen in different ways and balancing priorities–the Senate to represent states equally, and the House to represent people based on population.
The Electoral College does the same job. It gives everyone, everywhere, a fighting chance of having their voice heard. Without it–if our elections were purely popular–we would have merely mob rule. Really.
The few dozen largest cities in America have large enough populations that the rest of the country would be completely disenfranchised by their ideologically monotonous monopoly. The Electoral College ensures that nobody is simply a serf serving the giant cultural centers. Look at the red and blue election map in this post, breaking down the country by county. See all those red areas? With no electoral college, they would be forever locked out of public life. Is that what you want?
Compare this to the Hunger Games trilogy. The books never give exact populations for the districts, but clearly the Capitol has far more people–and money–than any other location. In fact, with districts spread out in area and population, the Capitol might have more people than the districts put together.
So the districts serve the Capitol, which keeps them in check by force. Might makes right.
Trying to ban the electoral college is akin to trying to chain up all but those who live in a coastal metropolis, so those redneck rural rubes can forever enable the wealth of the elites. The Electoral College does exactly what the Founders wanted it to do, something liberals should love–it protects the dignity of minority populations.
Nobody has championed Donald Trump based on his character. The argument I keep hearing is, “This is our last chance to save conservative values…We need to shake up the system…We need to make our voice heard…Trump will fight back…” etc.
First, if that scenario is true–if we’re in a position where we need some desperate last ditch effort of a president to save us–then it’s already too late. We are completely and utterly doomed.
Second–and this is specifically for my fellow believers out there–it is wrong to put our trust in the arm of flesh. And yes, that’s exactly what Trump’s religious supporters are doing.
“But we have to be involved citizens and vote,” you say, and I agree, but that does not mean going along with the options presented by a corrupt mainstream. A third party vote or (as I’m doing) a vote for “none of the above” is also a moral choice. I suspect that our efforts as citizens will be most useful on the names and issues at the local levels of our ballots now, anyway.
Yes, issues and policies are important, but none of them–or all of them put together–are as powerful as God. The “wrong” person winning an election or the “wrong” law being passed will not break our country.
I just posted a review of Anthony Esolen’s translation of Dante’s Inferno, which I was inspired to read by coming across this excellent essay of his over the summer. I can’t speak highly enough of his translation or of his essay; I feel compelled to share with you at least a three-paragraph excerpt from the essay here. Professor Esolen gives a powerful critique of one modern fad in education, and of its proponents, who would erase the classics and enshrine the contemporary, all in the name of “diversity.”
The material I teach in the first year of DWC spans four millennia, from ancient Babylon to the end of the Renaissance. This year’s entries were originally written in Babylonian, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, old French, Italian, German, Spanish, and English. We are in Jerusalem with David, on the coast of half-Christian England with the poet of Beowulf, in Rome with Cicero, in Madrid with Calderón, in exile with the Florentine Dante, and in London with Shakespeare. We have studied the Parthenon and Saint Peter’s, Giotto and the stained glass windows of Chartres, Arthurian romance and the poetic philosophizing of Lucretius. It is utterly preposterous to say that we are anything but multicultural. We study cultures, and there are a lot of them, and they diverge far from ours and from one another. A Viking chieftain is not a Roman senator or a Christian friar. Xerxes is not Francis Xavier.
But I know that none of that really counts. One of the student protesters, abashed, has written in our newspaper that even though a Viking is admittedly “diverse” from anybody we may meet on the street now, studying the Vikings does not serve “the larger purpose” of diversity. And thus has he unwittingly given up the ballgame.
He and the students are not really interested in studying cultures other than ours. What counts for them as “diversity” is governed entirely by a monotonous and predictable list of current political concerns. If you read a short story written in English by a Latina author living up the road in Worcester, that counts as “diverse,” but if you read a romance written in Spanish by a Spanish author living in Spain four hundred years ago, that does not count as “diverse.” It probably does not even count as Hispanic. If you pore over the verb system of Old Icelandic so that you can stumble around in the sagas of Snorri Sturluson, that does not count, despite the fact that the sagas are utterly different from any form of literature now written. But if you collect a few editorials written by Toni Morrison, that does count, despite the fact that they are written in English and that you have read hundreds of such.
It wasn’t even close. I don’t like either of them and I’m not voting for either of them, but this fight was a total K.O.
Demeanor: Trump was dour and grouchy most of the time, while Clinton was smiling, calm, confident, and even friendly most of the time. She was never rattled; he frequently fell into traps that she baited.
Names: Clinton called Trump by his first name all night, and he never mentioned it, while he always deferred to her as “Secretary Clinton,” going so far as to make a point of pleasing her with the title. If he thought he was being subtly classy, it was so subtle that it got lost. She won that aspect by default.
Content: Trump actually had plenty of solid content, but his scattershot delivery and constant repetition undercut any power his points had. His content was consistently better than hers, but she also had an impressive roster of facts, and his points got lost in the noise of his painfully bad delivery.
Pivots and pandering: Both candidates pivoted unceasingly, but Clinton’s tended to be smooth and clean. Trump’s pivots were ghastly–bald, clumsy, and as obvious as the rookie he is. Clinton’s worst moment was her pathetic pandering to African Americans on the race relations issue, but Trump was bad there, too. He always sounded like he was regurgitating the talking points some intern made him memorize backstage. Of course, Clinton was doing the same, but she didn’t *sound* like she was.
Rhetoric: Trump actually did score a couple of solid one-liner shots at Clinton, but she had more, and her quotes will be more memorable. Where she always came back strong after he landed a good argument against her, he usually meekly acquiesced and then went off on another weird tangent.
Bottom line: Trump’s campaign has shown the far better fight for months, but tonight Clinton appeared completely presidential. It was a giant victory for her.
From Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 novel, Submission:
“The Muslim Brotherhood is an unusual party, you know. Many of the usual political issues simply don’t matter to them. To start with, the economy is not their main concern. What they care about is birthrate and education. To them it’s simple–whichever segment of the population has the highest birthrate, and does the best job of transmitting its values, wins. If you control the children, you control the future.” pg. 64
“My only goal in life was to do a little reading and get in bed at four in the afternoon with a carton of cigarettes and a bottle; and yet, at the same time, I had to admit, I was going to die if I kept that up–I was going to die fast, unhappy and alone. And did I really want to die fast, unhappy and alone? In the end, only kind of.” pg. 203
“The fact is, most people live their lives without worrying too much about these supposedly philosophical questions. They think about them only when they’re facing some kind of tragedy–a serious illness, the death of a loved one. At least, that’s how it is in the West; in the rest of the world people die and kill in the name of these very questions, they wage bloody wars over them, and they have since the dawn of time. These metaphysical questions are exactly what men fight over, not market shares or who gets to hunt where. Even in the West, atheism has no solid basis.” pg. 204
After all that’s been written for and against gay marriage, there’s one major aspect of the issue that has received almost no attention at all. And it may be the most important part.
In the early 2000’s, 31 U.S. states passed constitutional amendments that specifically reiterated the definition of marriage as being one-man-one-woman. By 2015, when the Supreme Court struck those down, a majority of Americans in surveys said they no longer disapproved of gay marriage.
Aside from any feeling about the issue itself, that change should be fascinating. Has there ever been a faster shift of so large a portion of the population on so major an issue? In only about a decade, millions of people just changed their mind.
And nobody seems to be asking why or how.
I think the answer is obvious, if we do bother to ask. Those millions of people didn’t all just spontaneously have random changes of heart, in history’s biggest coincidence.
No. The media worked on us. What else could it have been?
There’s no need here to rehash the many, many positive portrayals of gay people and their relationships on TV over the last few decades (a short summary, though, is here); I don’t think anyone would deny that such portrayals were very common, that they became more common over time, and that the amount of characters involved was disproportionate to the general population in real life. Again, no value judgment about gay marriage either way is needed in order to simply see that TV’s tendency to preach the virtue of gays was widespread. One might say that this trend was meant to combat ignorance–fair enough. My point here is that the trend exists.
Liberals are excellent communicators, but they focus more on ethos and pathos than logos. Thus, their messages come across as manipulative propaganda.
Conservatives focus on logos more than ethos or pathos, but they’re terrible at articulating their worldview. Thus, their messages come across as narrow and cold babbling.
Feel free to discuss.
I just read a scary social criticism essay that discussed, among many other things, the self-destruction of feminism, and included this great bit:
But when that ends, and reality comes crashing down, it’s sad how quickly they scramble to validate the feminist lives they’ve led by simply telling themselves more lies. 40 is the new 20! Test-tube babies! MILF’s and Cougars! When, frankly, it just means nobody’s visiting you in a nursing home in the end.
And when I read that, I remembered Jack. That’s not his real name; I forgot his real name.
My dad died last July, and in the two months leading up to it, he made the rounds of a few hospital rooms and convalescent homes. In one, his bed was in a room with Jack, their areas separated by a curtain. Whenever I went to visit Dad, Jack would invariably interject himself into the visit, speaking up through the curtain, or even wheeling himself around it if he could get into his wheelchair.
He wasn’t a bad guy, but his desperate loneliness made him aggressive. Sometimes my dad would yell at him for horning in on his time with his family. He openly longed for attention. I tried to talk to him for a bit on each visit, though he clearly wanted more.
Once, when he’d asked if I had kids, he seemed joyously surprised at the total. I asked the same of him, and he scowled.
“No, never wanted them. Never liked them.”
The irony was sickening. Here was an old man who had chosen not to have any descendants, and now he was desperately lonely as he died.
As birth rates continue to drop, as our civilizational death spiral swings on, this scenario will become more common. In fact, it will explode exponentially. Soon, our nursing homes will be a bursting industry filled will dying invalids who never wanted to make a family, and who may bemoan their loneliness and dependence on strangers.
Contrast this with my wife’s grandfather, who had an army of three generations ready to care for him after a stroke.
If you’re a young person looking for a stable career, look into elder care. The 21st century will give you fantastic job security.
Mr. President, the murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge is clearly related to and inspired by the racist rhetoric that many have used recently to advance a cause called “Black Lives Matter.”
You have helped create that climate of violent hate towards the police, most recently and especially by your disgraceful hijacking of the memorial for five fallen officers in Dallas so you could lecture people about slavery and race. As president, “the buck stops here.” When atrocities are committed for an ideology that you actively espouse, you must share in the blame.
Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for you to attend the upcoming memorial for the slain officers in Baton Rouge. America does not need you to again disrespect the brave people being honored, just so you can take American to school about your own pet prejudices.
Please, Mr. President, do not attend the memorial for the murdered police officers in Baton Rouge. Instead, spend that time in some private soul searching about the innocent heroes who have been killed because of your poor leadership.
(Please see also, Heather MacDonald’s “The Fire Spreads“)