May We Take The High Road

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.

The Electoral College Stops The Hunger Games From Coming True

panemAs 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.

A Message For Religious Conservatives Who Still Support Donald Trump

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.

Two things:

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.

Continue reading

On The Ironic Fallacy of “Diversity” In Education

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.

 

Clinton vs. Trump: First Debate Winner

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.

A French Writer On Politics & Society Today

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

On The Use & Abuse Of Media

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.

Continue reading

Political Communication

Proposition:

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.

The Tragedy of Jack

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.

Highly Recommended Reading on Dysfunctional Leftists

Though I love Instapundit, I don’t usually go for Ed Driscoll’s posts. However, today he put up a rant that collates several other great sources into a powerful bit of observation. The essay is here. Solid, penetrating stuff.

In honor of the source…Read The Whole Thing.

Sign the Petition: President Obama Should NOT Attend Murdered Police Officers’ Memorial In Baton Rouge

Here: http://chn.ge/29GA0DL

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“)

“Western civilization has defended us for centuries. Isn’t it about time we defended it?”

This essay is correct. The primary philosophy behind our policy decisions should be preserving the principles that make us who we are as Americans. First, though, we need to understand those principles, and love them enough to defend them.

 

…The West refuses to take even the most rudimentary steps to protect itself against a known, sworn enemy. Why?

Lots of reasons: ennui, cultural Marxism, the mutation of the Left into a suicide cult that wants to take the rest of us with it. A loss of faith in organized religion (some of it brought on by the faiths themselves, or rather the imperfect men who represent and administer them). The transformation of government schools into babysitting services for subsections of the populace with severe cultural learning disabilities, no matter the skin color of the pupil. The marginalization of the very notion of excellence. And a political class that is little more than a collection of criminals, throne-sniffers, pantywaists and bum-kissers, all dedicated to their own enrichment.

…The antidote to this is a return to our cultural roots, including the pre-Christian principles of Aristotle (passed down via St. Thomas Aquinas, among others) and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Those roots are neither race- nor faith-specific and in fact the genius of Western civilization is that its principles — not “conservative” principles but civilizational principles — have proven so successful that they resulted in the United States of America, the very embodiment of those ideas.

Which is, of course, why Islam and its ally of convenience, the Left, hate America so. We and our cultural heritage are the refutation of every satanic principle they hold so vengefully dear.

Diversity in the Social Sciences

The reason America needs more political diversity in the social sciences is not because moderates and conservatives in academia need an affirmative action-style spoils system. Rather, it’s because the knowledge-creation process—the system by which scientists create knowledge and that knowledge is disseminated to the public and incorporated into political decisions—functions better if there is disagreement and debate among the scientists. Findings are more robust if they have been repeatedly challenged and refined over time.

Conservatives upset with the state of academic research have often emphasized the way non-progressives are discriminated against [and] suppressed in many fields. And that may be true. But a more productive approach may be to highlight the way that their absence undermines the integrity of science itself—and, in the long run, the quality of public policy decisions. [source]

YES! 

Three Brock Turner Thoughts

It’s too bad people online aren’t talking more about this whole Brock Turner thing. Sorry, this is a serious issue and this will be a serious post. But that remark will come up again in my 3rd point.

So much already has been said about this case, but there are a few things that aren’t being said, or aren’t being said enough.

  1. Turner has been convicted in a court of law, after a fair trial. The spotlight on him is not based on prejudices or assumptions, as in the infamous Duke Lacrosse case, for example. We know this man is guilty. It’s sad that we have to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate judgment, but we do–witch hunts are increasingly common these days–and the scorn being heaped on Turner in this case is legitimate.
  2. In stories like this, where everybody is piling on one obvious side, I try to dig around to see if there’s anything relevant being ignored or buried by the media, anything that makes reality more complicated. There usually is. Only rarely are things as simplistically good and evil as the online mob wants them to be.One such case was when an 18-year-old woman recently sued her parents for college tuition–that one really seems to be little more than an entitled youth milking her parents against their will. And now, this Brock Turner case appears to be in the same boat–I can’t find anything that creates any gray area here. Sometimes things are just simple black and white.
  3. A lot of people are using this case as a platform to pontificate about rape culture. As with most of the Left’s pet causes, the existence of this bogeyman is a given. Actually, I think the outsized rancor this case is creating is evidence of the opposite–that there is no “rape culture” in America. If there were, then this would be just another case, eliciting no more emotion than any of a number of other identical cases. But that’s not the situation here–the sudden and passionate storm of anger seems more like this is finally something that can substantiate previously unfounded feelings, hence the desperation to make this seem like a typical case, and not the exception that proves the rule. Even angry protesters have to admit that this case is more brazen and corrupt than most any other we might cite.I also find it mildly baffling how many people are oh-so-bravely standing up to Turner on their social media platforms; apparently they want to make a bold statement to all the rapists they’re friends with online? Else, who are all these rants meant for, and why? Surely, this can’t be just another opportunity for young people to parade the fashions of their own righteousness around for the world to see, right?

    None of these observations about the vanity of our culture are meant to reduce the seriousness of this case itself, though. The rapist’s attitude, his apologists’ words, and the judge who erred in sentencing must prompt a conversation that in turn will lead to real reforms.

Continue reading

When Will Future Historians Say The American Republic Fell?

tumblr_o3fs9v9VQj1qevpymo1_500Most textbooks simplify the fall of the Roman Empire by saying it was in 476, when the last emperor was deposed, though they also tend to admit that many events led up to that point, and that a shell of that civilization lingered on long afterwards.

This election year has me in a frame of mind to ask when will future historians say that the American Republic fell? Let’s say that some history textbook being written 5000 years from now has to simplify our inevitable end and pinpoint a single year for it. What year would that be?

By “fall” here I primarily mean the end of constitutional standards for government, and perhaps secondarily the standard of living–economically and morally–that those defined limits helped prosper.

Right off the bat, I might opt for 2012, the year when the Supreme Court upheld the obviously awful “Affordable Care Act” on the flimsiest of corrupt excuses, and the year in which America chose to retain a failure of a president despite having a reasonable, even a compelling, alternative, purely to advertise their own social righteousness.

You might think that saying “The year of our fall is still far in the future” is a mark of optimism, but I’m inclined to say the opposite–that’s only a feeling that things can still get much, much worse.

Still, I think most of us will agree by now that the year we tipped over past the point of no return can’t be any later than 2016.

Please leave your pick for the last good American year and your reasoning in the comments.