Nationalist Entitlement

A headline at Breitbart this week says, “Danes Should Not Become The Minority In Denmark.” A resolution just passed in their parliament to that effect. The article contains some predictably anti-immigrant sentiment.

So I looked up the birth rate in Denmark. It’s 1.7. Remember, 2.1 is considered steady, to keep the next generation the same size as the current population. Denmark has been below 2.1 since 1968. That’s nearly half a century.

I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to preserve “their” people–though to make it an issue of “us vs. them” is needlessly odious–since the loss of any ethnicity is tragic, but it bugs me when people say they want to preserve their culture…without ever doing what’s necessary to save that culture.

Nobody has a right to automatic cultural conservation. There’s hard work involved, and history teaches us exactly what that hard work is. It starts with creating a next generation. You can’t transmit your culture to children you didn’t have.

So don’t be surprised when others come in and that culture changes. Nature abhors a vacuum. Neither Denmark nor any society in a similar situation has a right to complain.

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“Culture Trumps Politics”

Mark Steyn, as always, is way ahead of the curve here.  By the time most of my fellow conservatives figure this out, I fear, we’ll be even more of a consciously inconsequential minority, a marginal annoyance with little functional power, than we already are.

*****

Where the Action Is,” National Review, 3/10/14

You can’t have conservative government in a liberal culture, and that’s the position the Republican party is in….Liberals expend tremendous effort changing the culture. Conservatives expend tremendous effort changing elected officials every other November — and then are surprised that it doesn’t make much difference. Culture trumps politics — which is why, once the question’s been settled culturally, conservatives are reduced to playing catch-up, twisting themselves into pretzels….

Culture is the long view; politics is the here and now. Yet in America vast cultural changes occur in nothing flat, while, under our sclerotic political institutions, men elected to two-year terms of office announce ambitious plans to balance the budget a decade after their terms end. Here, again, liberals show a greater understanding of where the action is….

So, no, I’m not particularly focused on a Tuesday in November in 2016. Liberals understand that it’s in the 729 days between elections that you win all the prizes that matter, on all the ground conservatives have largely abandoned.

What Is the Future of Conservatism?Commentary, January 2013

The Democrats used their brutal Romney-gives-you-cancer/ Ryan-offs-your-granny advertising in Ohio as bad cop to the good cop of Obama’s cultural cool. The trouble for conservatives is we have no good cop. That’s to say, we have no positive presence in the broader cultural space where real people actually live. We have all the talk-radio shows and cable networks we need, and the rest of the country is happy to leave us walled up in those redoubts. But culture trumps politics, and not just in the movies and pop songs, grade schools and mainline churches, but increasingly in the boardrooms, too. Instead of giving your hard-earned dollars to help drag some finger-in-the-windy squish with an R after his name over the finish line every other November, conservatives need to start fighting on the turf that matters. We risk winding up like the Shakers–dependent on conversion while eschewing all effective means thereof.

 

Will Liberals Agree to Call These Things Crazy?

I want to ask every progressive in America, especially those now in or seeking political office, to commit to the following ten-point statement:

I will not at any time endorse or participate in any social movement or advocate any legislative change that promotes:

• Legalizing incestuous relationships
• Legalizing polygamous relationships
• Legalizing sexual relationships with, or depictions of, minors under the current age of consent
• Granting animals any new legal rights currently reserved for humans
• Granting governments any new power, outside of taxation, to arbitrarily seize money held in accounts and investments of private citizens
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Art and Societal Renewal

James F. Cooper, in the last chapter of his Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School and the Moral Landscape, says this of the role of art in renewing our society’s disoriented moral compass:

A revolution of beauty, truth, and goodness requires leadership from all parts of society–parents, educators, politicians, business people.   Solutions for the crisis in contemporary culture cannot be successfully addressed only by looking to the past.  We must use language that speaks directly to the people of today.  We must create public and private spaces that invite worship, civility, education, virtue, love, and fidelity.  

Cooper then mentions two fascinating historical precedents for what he envisions.  First,

The emperor Augustus dramatically revitalized the faltering Roman Empire, beset by internal chaos and civil strife, by embarking on an ambitious “cultural program.”  Refurbishing old temples, creating beautiful new works of civic architecture and public sculpture, he found a way to express the longing of the Romans for the virtues of the past.  

Also:

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Paintings With Purpose

 

“A nation’s leaders must be constantly reminded by artists and intellectuals not to mistake political correctness for eternal truths.  In the absence of a genuine aesthetic, spiritual, and moral culture, the vision of the people will be shaped by the prevailing political ideology….Americans who yearn for renewal must understand that real and lasting change begins within the minds and imaginations of gifted artists of all disciplines.  They in turn need a cultural milieu that welcomes subtlety and beauty of thought and form….

“The influence of even the most powerful government is dwarfed by the influence of great art, literature, architecture, music, and drama to give shape and meaning to the world we inhabit.”

–James F. Cooper, Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School and the Moral Landscape

 

Is Gun Control a Kind of Leftist Cultural Imperialism?

Questions for those on the Left who want more gun control:

This seems to be basically a blue state vs. red state issue. Doesn’t it bother you that you are trying to impose your will on a culture that is different from your own–one you don’t completely understand–in an attempt to make their culture more like yours? If not, why not? Isn’t this the kind of cultural colonialism that you have so long decried?

Aren’t your efforts for gun control rooted in an implicit ethnocentrism–a declaration that a culture different from yours is bad and that their nature can be “fixed” by becoming more like you (in this case, averse to firearms)?

Doesn’t the philosophical similarity between your desire to impose your values on those who differ from you and those of the jingoistic imperialists of the past at least give you pause?

Charlton Heston: Winning the Culture War

So the latest remake in the Planet of the Apes series seems to be a hit.  That reminds me of the original, which was really quite good (Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling  wrote the script).  That reminds me of Charlton Heston, who starred in the original, and said the famous “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” line.  That reminds me of a great speech Heston gave at Harvard Law School in 1999, where he excoriated political correctness, victim mentalities, and every other sort of social “gotcha” game that ends up facilitating a coarser, weaker world. 

I read a transcript of this my senior year in college, soon after the speech was given.  As a youth, like all good, young mass culture consumers, I was reflexively liberal, swallowing whole every bit of media indoctrination presented to me.  However, throughout my college years, a confluence of factors started to gel, and I started to see the world differently.  This speech was definitely one of those factors.  I immediately saw the wisdom in it.

Below is audio from YouTube.  This site has a transcript.  Audio is also available from Harvard Law here

David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge: My New Favorite Political Book

Though I’m a very political person, I usually don’t like political books.  I tend to find them lazy, filled with unfounded assumptions, and generally just preaching to the choir. 

My biggest complaint about political discourse in our society is that it is characterized by talking past each other; we turn each other into straw men and pat ourselves on the back when we knock the other side down.  What we desperately need are discussions that elucidate the basic priorities of political positions and attempt to explain them to those who may not connect with them easily. 

In The Secret Knowledge, Mamet offers what is by far the best introduction to the conservative worldview that I have ever read.  His collection of three dozen wide-ranging little essays on political topics brilliantly shows the reader not only what conservatives believe, but why we believe it.  Perhaps his excellent writing here is based on the fact that he has spent his life as a liberal, but only in the last several years has he examined things seriously enough to reform his beliefs.  (Read Mamet’s original essay that generated this new book here.) 

David Mamet is a born teacher.  Continue reading

The Brown Herring

I haven’t yet commented on the kerfuffle over Arizona’s illegal alien law because it was so fractious that I wanted to let the dust settle, and I wanted to collect my thoughts before writing.  Sadly, the first isn’t even close to happening yet, so neither is the second.  But especially since so many in my own community–Latter-day Saints–are voicing opposition to this online, I need to contribute.

Almost all of the argument against the Arizona law amounts to one paltry thing: they’re racist!  They’re doing it because they hate Hispanics

Haven’t we lived with political correctness long enough to see it for the desperate, transparent attempt to stifle freedom and restrict discussion that it is?  Individual racists still exist, but are few and far between, and certainly any broad social consensus on a policy issue such as this is based on the honest good intentions of the citizenry, not some sudden massive throwback to the Jim Crow era. 

I’m happy to debate the pros and cons of this law, but people who base their position on the idea that those who disagree–regardless of what they say, no matter what other information they bring to the table–are really doing it because their black evil hearts are just filled with hate, are indulging in the worst possible vices of civic discourse: lying, stereotyping, refusing to listen to others with the benefit of the doubt.  They’re changing the subject, sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting, “La la la!  I can’t hear you and I don’t have to because you’re just a dumb meanie!  La la la!”  No constructive conversation can come from such an intellectual disconnect. 

I encourage anyone who supports Arizona to engage in discussions with those who disagree with us, but to present this understanding to them up front: if you’re going to insult millions of people and boil our principles down to ugly slurs, this conversation is over and I will walk away. 

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Absolute Girl Power Corrupts Absolutely

As I watched a cartoon with my kids on Saturday morning, I saw a commercial for Huffy bikes where two little girls on new “princess” bikes decide to go rescue a prince. They jet off on their shiny Disney machines and successfully retrieve a teddy bear that had apparently been held hostage by nefarious forces.

Now, I have no problem with girl power, and there’s nothing wrong with the ad itself, but it does make me think about just how totally society has not equalized, but rather reversed, gender roles, to the exclusion of what comes naturally to boys. Would anyone be willing to make an ad that showed two little boys riding to the rescue of a girl? Would anyone support a product that did? Such a simple show of chivalry may well be met with protests and discrimination lawsuits.

I think the first real wave of “girl power” media hit when I was growing up in the 80s, when more TV shows had girls being assertive and competing with boys (thank you, Punky Brewster and She-Ra). By the late 90’s it had actually become a cliché, when Lisa Simpson dared to try out for a boys’ football team, only to find a warm welcome and three other girls already playing. So, by today, the Huffy princess bike ad is literal, devoid of any irony and of any especially empowering message it may have once had. It’s par for the course.

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UNLV Sponsors Youth Sexuality Activism Conference For CCSD Educators

A disturbing email went out to my school’s electronic bulletin board today.  Presumably it went out to every school in the district.  The message included two attachments giving details about an alternative sexuality conference on the UNLV campus on November 14 which will feature a series of workshops.  Are these workshops meant to help educators with their personal lives?  No, nothing like that.  Is it to assist them in avoiding the creation of a classroom environment where teasing and bullying of homosexual students might occur?  Partly. 

But the most unnerving thing about this conference is the inclusion of sessions meant to instruct teachers in training students “to get involved with the LGTBQ community in order to effect positive change. We will look at already established youth LGBTQ community groups, recent movements and types of youth activism.”  Is this serious?  Is UNLV actually promoting, and CCSD tacitly allowing, public teachers preparing to indoctrinate young people in alternative sexual lifestyles, to the point where these children will be encouraged to go out into the community and advocate for them? 

This is beyond political.  Continue reading

The Underdog in the Culture War

I had a letter printed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal this morning.  In response to local citizens’ and the media’s universal lambasting of parents who are protesting a high school’s performances of Rent and The Laramie Project, I wrote:

As soon as news broke of a parental protest to Green Valley High School’s productions of two socially progressive plays, a chorus of indignation started singing the praises of the brave teachers and actors and decrying the “obvious” hatred and ignorance of the parents. What actually bothers me far more than the political agenda at work in the play selections or the reflexive mob sanctimony of the aggrieved is the monolithic, vitriolic reaction of the community — including the Review-Journal — to the parents’ opposition.

What lessons will the children who likewise oppose the performances learn from this controversy? If your opinion is different from the majority, be quiet. If you question the assumptions of the majority, they will have free rein to slander you. If you think something is deeply wrong but it’s popular, you have no right to oppose it.

If these aren’t the true lessons to take from this matter, then we have to ask why the media isn’t also sympathetically profiling the students who oppose the biased selection of plays, or why local commentators aren’t applauding the courage of a handful of people for standing up to a smug establishment.

This treatment appears to be just another example of the mainstream’s one-way tolerance.

 

UPDATE: The comments section at the end of the page on the newspaper’s web site where my letter was printed has some very interesting debate, which largely illustrates my point–only those with officially sanctioned views should participate in cultural discussions.  All others should stay home, and will be stigmatized as knuckle-draggers if they dare speak up.  The democratic process is moot–the decisions about culture have been made for us. 

Also, apparently, someone in those comments thought to “expose” me by googling my name and listing the results.  How strange and sad. 

 

Guest Post: Teenage Philosophy

After seeing this amazingly inane drivel about teenagers with trendy, extreme body decorations defending their honor in yesterday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, I thought I’d try to understand the teenage mindset better by letting one of them take this space and explain their fascinating insights into the egalitarian tradition and their innovative adaptations thereof.  Our anonymous adolescent offers the following:

 

Dont be hatin on me!  It dont matter if I be getting earrings or tattoos or mohawks or implants or wearin bikinis to school or bitin my toenails in class or stuff like that.  Thats just who I am!  You cant judge me!  Stop hatin!

Im just expressin myself!  If I want to cover myself in egg yolk and run screaming through the parking lot, it dont make no difference to you.  I was born that way.  Its a free country.  Dont give me your bad looks.  And quit hatin up on me!

You think smearing pig slop on my feet and dancin in front you wherever you go is like bad or somethin?  You dont know, you just hatin.  You wrong.  Thats just the way we is now.  We likes to go out in public and fill our mouths with raw fish guts and spit em at each other an yell out catch phrases from this weeks popular movie and thats cool.  That dont make us bad. 

Its a fact that some of us who likes digging up graves and dragging bodies behind their cars is all goin to Harvard and stuff now.  Yeah!  Take that!  Tons of folks who go around wearing baggy clothes overflowin with maggots is like doctors and lawyers and stuff now.  So dont be stereotypin!  It dont matter to you–its a free country.  You just dont understand, so dont be hatin!

Everything that everybody does is cool now.  Aint nothin bad no more.  Except the stuff that you old folks like that I dont like.  That stuff sucks. 

 

Etc. Etc.  Ad nauseum.

The Left Needs To Make Up Its Mind About Marriage

It’s ironic that America is now embroiled in an all out cultural war over whether or not gay couples should be able to get married.  It’s ironic because for the last several decades the cultural left has been waging a war against marriage itself.  The mantra with which we’ve all been bombarded is that marriage is “just a piece of paper.” 

So on one hand, a huge segment of the cultural left in America clings to its established dogma that marriage is outdated, oppressive, or irrelevant, while a growing faction of the same population battles to convince us that marriage is a crucial necessity worth fighting over.  Thousands of flexible, hip, cohabitating straight couples all blithely ignore the foundational covenant of civilization, while at the same time thousands of aggrieved, angry, entitled gay couples take to the streets to campaign for what seems to be a life-or-death need.

Perhaps it’s just traditional marriage that’s bad.  Alternative marriages–surprise!–are great.

This contradiction makes the convenient, experimental wishes of the left ever more difficult to take seriously.  Will America’s counter culture please make up its mind?  Either marriage is important or it isn’t.  Either it’s a vital ceremony with real value, or it’s just an optional piece of paper.  It can’t be both.

When you come to a consensus, let us know.  Then we can talk.

The Use and Abuse of Barack Obama

Which argument is better?

A) The world is round because, you know, it just like totally is and everybody knows it.

B) The world is flat because, if perception is reality, then we must acknowledge that most aspects of our lives are based on an understanding of the world being flat: we don’t see the curvature of the Earth with any regularity, so we are comfortable with two dimensional maps and measure the fastest travel routes over land, not through the ground. 

While the premise of argument A is true, argument B is superior.  Ideally, we want arguments that are both true and intelligently defended, but that is neither here nor there.  My point is that too many people today are comfortable with the first kind of thinking, and such logical sloppiness can only lead to trouble. 

Sadly, this is the case with the election of Barack Obama. 

I don’t have anything against President Obama personally, nor do I wish ill for him or his administration.  I hope he turns out to be the greatest president we’ve ever had, because that would be good for the country.  This is not a criticism of him, but it is absolutely a criticism of many who voted for him.  I don’t fault anyone for voting their conscience, and anyone who voted for him because they considered and prefered his politics has my respect, but just as I cannot respect someone who says the Earth is round because “it just like totally is,” I cannot respect the vote of someone who elected a man for the wrong reason.

Barack Obama became president of the United States not because of his experience, policies, or vision, nor even his character.  Barack Obama won the election because he’s black.  Besides the fact that fully 96% of black voters opted for Obama, the race factor is baldly advertised with such blatantly racist posturing as Tom Brokaw trumpeting Obama’s election as a slap in the face to “bigots and rednecks,” Joseph Lowery’s scathing indictment of white people during a prayer at the inauguration when he yearned for a time “when white will embrace the right,” and even hinted at when Obama himself pronounced in his inauguration speech that his election was a victory of “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”  (Does this mean that a vote for McCain was a vote for fear?  How so?  And how tactless is that to say?)

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