This must be that famous liberal tolerance I’ve heard so much about!

A month ago, I posted this simple announcement to a public Facebook group for teachers in my county: “There is a new private Facebook group for CCSD teachers on the right of the political spectrum. Message me if you’re interested.”

Among the comments I got were these:

  • “I’m just curious…what do teachers on the right of the political spectrum support? Unequal access to quality education? Removing free breakfast and lunch from schools, so that students can worry about being hungry instead of learning?”
  • “Maybe a different profession????”
  • “Is this where you guys rally to vote yourselves out of a job or figure out ways to turn in your students or their parents?”
  • “The request…is a slap in the face.”
  • “There are teachers there? Really?”
  • “You guys need your own page!!! I agree!”

In addition, one woman tracked down my salary information as listed elsewhere online, screenshot it, and posted it, with a threat that I was being watched.

I never replied to any of those comments, but I wonder if any of these people realize how ironic their complaints are–their hostility illustrates exactly why I wanted to make a place where conservative teachers could talk without being insulted.

Or maybe I should have just said, “Do you want more Trump? Because this is how you get more Trump.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Annotated Steyn

Reading a minor missive from Mark Steyn at National Review earlier today, I was struck for the umpteenth time by just how breezily loquacious he is.  It’s just a blog post, really; by no means a full-fledged article–and yet it carries the confident charm of the most polished master’s thesis.  I’m sure he merely dashed this off, yet is would stand as a major triumph for most authors.

The teacher in me suddenly wanted to footnote his work.  The world needs to see this as I do, I thought.  Those notes are below.  My humble apologies to National Review for reproducing the entire text here, but I think they’ll understand.  It’s necessary to make the point: Steyn’s writing is densely allusive and whimsically clever, and all in the succinct service of a solid point.

Looking at this after I’d marked it up, I found immense satisfaction in being a fan of Steyn’s.  He’s truly a treasure.  I’m a conservative because the ideas are solid and true, but it doesn’t hurt that men like Steyn can also make them so appealing.  One looks in vain for such a scribe on the left.

I mean, could you even imagine a similarly footnoted post called The Annotated Frank Rich?

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“The Last Phobia,” Mark Steyn, posted at NationalReview.com, 9/17/2013

I see David Brooks has attracted a bit of pushback for describing Ted Cruz as “the Senator from Canada,” perhaps snidely hinting at divided loyalties. The Times’s man has jumped the moose[1] with this one. As it turns out, Brooks, like yours truly, was born in Toronto. I think we can all agree that the only thing worse than a Canadian is a self-loathing Canadian[2]: It’s bad enough that the first Canadian president of America has to run around pretending he’ll be the first Hispanic president[3], but it’s outrageous that the New York Times’s only Canuck[4] columnist should be the Roy Cohn [5]of Canadians.

Anyway, as NR readers know, my position, as the presumptive senator from New Hampshire, is that, given the mess you Americans have made of the GOP, I’m in favor (actually, I’m in favour[6]) of an all-Canadian ticket next time round. But in the meantime I don’t see why we Canadians have to skulk around in a state of shame to the point where effete[7] maple-scented[8] Timesmen are forced to be more good-ol’-boy-than-thou[9] and jump the first Canuck in the Senate parking lot. Nuts to this. This is sick. What next? Elizabeth Warren forced to admit she’s one-thirty-second Manitoban?[10]

It doesn’t have to be this way. I have a dream that one day my children will live in an America where they’re judged not on the color of their skin but on whether they’ve got an aunt in Saskatoon.[11]


[1] A play on the idiom “jump the shark.” Moose are often associated with Canada

[2] A play on the phrase “self-loathing Jews,” meaning Jews who oppose things like pro-Israel policies

[3] Perhaps a cheeky reference to Toni Morrison’s label of Bill Clinton as “the first black president”

[4] A slang term for Canadians

[5] Attorney who prosecuted the Rosenbergs and worked with Senator Joeseph McCarthy; Steyn humorously implies that Brooks is persecuting his own people.

[6] A British spelling

[7] Effeminate; Steyn often derides liberals as insufficiently masculine.

[8] Maple syrup is often associated with Canada

[9] A play on the idiom “holier-than-thou.” Steyn is accusing Brooks of populist pandering.

[10] Warren, a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts, famously claimed Native American heritage as a part of her “family folklore,” despite the only known Native American in her family tree being her great, great, great grandmother.

[11] Obviously, a coy reference to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech.

How Good Are Democrats at Helping Cities?

Consider the chart below:

 

 City

Has had only Democratic mayors since

Last time a Republican was mayor

Detroit

1962

1962

Washington, D.C.

1961

1883

New Orleans

1936

1872

 

Of course these examples are cherry picked, but they certainly do demonstrate some dangerous myopia.  One could argue that there are plenty of cities historically run by Democrats that have always had stable success, and I would agree.  Colorado and New England, for example, are full of such places.

But that’s not my point.  It’s not enough to show that strong populations can be primarily liberal.  Since the Democratic platform–and definitely the popular appeal it tries to campaign on–is that their policies are good for the poor, the “disenfranchised,” the lower class, isn’t it fair to check that track record?  Shouldn’t places run exclusively by Democrats be able to maintain prior success, or turn around problems those cities have had?  If things have gotten bad–awful–after 50-100 years of solid rule, shouldn’t this say something critical of liberal ideas?

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The Psychology of Politics

Fascinating article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about a renegade psychologist whose work illuminates the hidden mental, social, and moral motives behind our political values.  It’s all enlightening, but some of it goes against the grain.  He’s a self-described moderate, atheist, Obama supporter, but his findings suggest that it’s American liberals who have the most soul-searching…and brain-racking….to do.  Some quotes:

  • “Conservatives believe in equality before the law,” he tells the young activists, who are here in the “canyons of wealth” to talk people power over vegan stew. “They just don’t care about equality of outcome.”
  • A partisan liberal, the University of Virginia professor hoped a better grasp of moral psychology could help Democrats sharpen their knives. But a funny thing happened. Haidt, now a visiting professor at New York University, emerged as a centrist who believes that “conservatives have a more accurate understanding of human nature than do liberals.”
  • “Liberals need to be shaken,” Haidt tells me. They “simply misunderstand conservatives far more than the other way around.”
  • Researchers have found that conservatives tend to be more sensitive to threats and liberals more open to new experiences.
  • Another example Haidt uses to underscore the tribal psychology of political sacredness is the 1960s research of the liberal sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Harvard professor and public-policy expert. In a famous report to President Johnson, Moynihan used the phrase “tangle of pathology” to describe the black family, arguing that some of its problems stemmed from high rates of out-of-wedlock birth, not just from racism. That made Moynihan a pariah; other Harvard professors wouldn’t let their kids play with his. As Haidt tells the story, Moynihan committed “the cardinal sin”: “blaming the victim, where the victim is one of your sacralized victim groups.” He points out that sociologists are now gingerly saying, “He was right.”

It’s Time For Politically Conservative Mormons To Follow Their Church On Illegal Immigration

I’ve written about this once in each of the last three years (here, here, and here), and as the Church’s position keeps getting clearer, the reactions of many of my fellow political conservatives keeps getting more hostile.  A posting on the Church’s official web site last week makes it clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors some kind of amnesty–including guest worker programs, at the very least–for illegal aliens. 

Conservatives in general may blanche at this, and they’re welcome to–their suspicions about the Church’s motives in this don’t hold water, anyway.  (Pandering to Hispanic populations?  If the Church wanted to pander to politically sensitive groups, we wouldn’t have recently offended everyone who supports gay marriage.  Between that issue and this one, now we’ve alienated everybody!)

But for those of us who accept the divinity of the LDS Church’s claims and the authority of its leadership, there should be no argument.  In too many comments on other blogs and quotes in other news articles, conservatives are bristling about this to the point of rebellion.  Continue reading

Fascism of the Left and Right

I just checked out Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism from the library again–every now and then I’ll pick it up and read whatever chapter or two grab my interest at the time. 

One theme in the introduction is that “fascism” is difficult to define, and a simple, universally recognized definition doesn’t exist.  He puts together a usable understanding, but I noticed something about each of the eras and events he discussed that might lead us to see a clear sign of fascism: it always implies force. 

Although this is not a complete picture of fascism, I think the presence of coercion is a major trait that must be recognized to spot and prevent it.  Fascism, then, is not necessarily a political ideology (although, as in the case of Italy’s Mussolini, especially, it can be) so much as it is a means of promoting an ideology. 

On the left, fascism, seen in this way, classically manifests itself in communist governments: the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, North Korea, etc.  The use of (indeed, reverence for) centralized, collectivized, government control is a key danger of a leftist government run amok. 

The biggest myth about fascism (and Goldberg spends a great deal of time analyzing this one) is that it’s also a feature of an extreme, hard right government.  Actually, the logical warping of conservatism wouldn’t be fascism, it would be anarchy; fascism of the right would be less common, particularly in the west, not because it is inherently more virtuous, but because an emphasis on limited government would naturally have the effect of decreasing the opportunities for and acceptance of fascist tactics.  However, that is not to say that it doesn’t exist.  The best examples of conservative fascism that I can think of are all theocracies: Iran, ancient Egypt, Puritan New England, etc.  The reverence for tradition and order can be so elevated that it becomes primary even over freedom itself. 

So what’s the warning here for America?  Are we in danger of socialist-dictator fascism or theocratic fascism?  I suppose the potential for both exists, though one silver lining of a country so polarized down the middle is that neither half would let the other get that out of control. 

One observation, though, about a hybrid danger we might term “liberal theocratic fascism:” Continue reading

Conservative Media’s Ironic Misunderstanding of “School Indoctrination”

A perceptive colleague alerted me to this story out of Chicago, where the mother of a boy investigated in that awful student beating recently told reporters that schools should be responsible for monitoring students outside of school hours. 

This perfectly illustrates something I’ve seen constantly in my years of teaching.  We conservatives worry that schools are brainwashing our kids with government propaganda, just as the mainstream media does, and though there are certainly programs and policies that clearly emanate from the left, this concern is essentially baseless. 

If the government’s effectively indoctrinating our kids, then where are the hordes of glassy-eyed teenage zombies chanting, “I love Big Brother?” 

No, our children are strongly resistant to any attempt to exert authority over them or persuade them to accept ideas in school…to a fault!

The irony here is that while conservative media gets itself into a tizzy about schools usurping too much authority over American children…that’s precisely what too many parents want us to do!

I’ve written plenty of stories on here about clueless parents who expect teachers to raise their kids.  It’s an epidemic.  These lazy, incompetent losers make teachers’ lives miserable.  Teachers spend a large percentage of their parent conferences trying to convince parents to do the work that a lot of conservatives are afraid we’re actively trying to steal away from them!

Schools taking over the job of parents?  Trust me, not a legitimate concern.  Now, the fuzzy teaching methods employed in too many classrooms–that’s a real problem to keep your eye on.

The Left Needs To Make Up Its Mind About Conservative Leadership

Once again, the political and cultural left in this country has been haranguing us with two contradictory mantras this year:

On one hand, conservatives have no official, strong, unifying leadership.

On the other, the massive protests by conservatives are the work of carefully orchestrated planning by scary conservative leaders.

You can’t have it both ways, media!  Either American conservatives have nobody in power representing them effectively, or they not only do have leaders, but leaders who are masterminding an impressive series of unified protests. 

Make up your mind and get back to us.

An Open Letter To Senator John McCain

Dear Senator McCain:

First of all, thank you for your long service to your country.  Your heroism in war and your career as a leader distinguish you in the hearts of your fellow citizens. 

However, none of those things guarantee that anything done in the present will automatically be the right choice.  Surely you must be aware that many, if not most, American conservatives have strong reservations about much of your political record, especially some of your most recent legislation and the manner in which you campaigned for president last year.

Your failed presidential campaign resulted in the election of Barack Obama, who in just over half a year has drastically altered the shape and scope of our government, by already spending more than every other president combined, by nominating a host of radicals to positions without real accountability, and by seizing the reigns of such fundamental areas of private life as commerce and health care. 

Despite such scary changes, you have continued in “town hall” appearances over the summer to compliment and even cheer this president, just as you often did–to the consternation of your party’s base–during last year’s campaign.  That irresponsibly inappropriate friendliness was just one of many, many things so critically wrong with your campaign that it was a foregone conclusion long before November that you would lose.  And yet you continued on in this manner, ignoring the chorus of voices urging you to fight, to represent the desperate cries for help you heard along the campaign trail.

In short, your stubborn cluelessness as a presidential candidate enabled Barack Obama to win. 

That’s why, Senator McCain, I am asking you to apologize to the American people for running for president.

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