Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Greatest Cultural Revolution

We often compare today’s student radicals to the Red Guards who terrorized and nearly destroyed China between 1966 and 1976. When it comes to student radicals the Red Guards are the gold standard: the most violent, the most empowered, the most depraved. After all, the did not just humiliate their teachers. They murdered them and sometimes even ate their remains.

When it was happening, no one outside of China really knew what was happening during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

When Richard Nixon traveled to China in 1972 the American press was presenting a rather positive view of the Cultural Revolution. In France, radical students, more sophisticated and more hard line than their American counterparts, took up the Maoist cause and tried to foment cultural revolution in their nation.

And yet, Zha Jianying reminds us in his review of Ji Xianlin’s account of his experiences as a persecuted professor during the Cultural Revolution, we still know very little about the sufferings that were visited on Chinese teachers and intellectuals at that time. Since Ji's book is a first person account, it does not seem to address the experience of the government bureaucrats who were also targeted.

For those who wish a different take, author Jung Chang recounts the lives of three generations of Chinese women, up to and including the experience of the Cultural Revolution in her book Wild Swans.

Ji Xianlin’s book matters because it provides us with a picture of what the student revolutionaries did to their teachers, goaded by Mao and his actress wife, Jiang Qing.

We know, or ought to know, that Mao launched the Cultural Revolution in order to shift the blame for the famine that killed around 35,000,000 people in the early 1960s. After the famine, two Chinese leaders, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping tried to wrest party control from Mao. They wanted to reform the economy by bringing in capitalist reforms. 

When it seemed that they were about to succeed Mao rallied disaffected students and told them to direct their anger at the intellectual classes, teachers and party bureaucrats. Liu and Deng were declared the number 1 and number 2 capitalist roaders. As you know Liu was murdered by the Red Guards and Deng survived, largely because he was protected by senior military officers.

Mao blamed the Great Famine on counterrevolutionaries in the government and on the intellectual classes. Since he was infallible, his policy could not have been the problem. The problem lay in the way it had been implemented and in the mindset that allowed people to believe that they could exercise freedom.

They were, by his thought, too attached to Confucian thought, with its emphasis on the practice of propriety and the exercise of discretion. During the Cultural Revolution the only book that anyone was permitted to read was the little red book of the sayings of Mao. All other books were banned. It was the most ambitious effort at mass brainwashing the world has ever seen.

Mao hated Confucianism for the same reason that earlier emperors had burned the writings of the great sage. Confucius was willing to rely on people’s moral sense, their sense of shame, their sense of propriety and decency. He did not want to regulate their behavior by giving them orders. Mao wanted people to obey his dictates to the letter, roughly as earlier emperors had imposed legalistic restraints on their orders.

Mao’s Communist Party had always been interested in brainwashing or thought reform. They must have believed that if they could control minds they could control behavior. For an extensive study, see Robert Jay Lifton’s Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.

Chinese intellectuals were often happy to go along to get along.

Zha Jianying explains it in his review:

Under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), mass mobilization and political campaigns became a national way of life and no one was allowed to be a bystander, least of all the intellectuals, a favorite target in Mao’s periodic thought-reform campaigns. Feeling guilty about his previous passivity, Ji eagerly reformed himself. He joined the Party in the 1950s and actively participated in the ceaseless campaigns, which had a common trait: conformity and intolerance of dissent. In the 1957 Anti-Rightist Movement, more than half a million intellectuals were denounced and persecuted, even though most of their criticisms were very mild and nearly all were Party loyalists.

Ji was teaching at Peking University in 1966 when Mao proclaimed the Cultural Revolution.

Zha describes the scene:

In fact, he was doing just that in the first year of the Cultural Revolution. Peking University was quickly transformed into a chaotic zoo of factional battles, with frantic mobs rushing about attacking professors and school officials labeled as capitalist-roaders-in-power.

 The long, screaming rallies where Ji, already in his late fifties, and other victims were savagely beaten, spat on, and tortured. The betrayal by his former students and colleagues. An excruciating episode in the labor camp: Ji’s body collapsed under the strain of continuous struggle sessions; his testicles became so swollen he couldn’t stand up or close his legs. But the guard forced him to continue his labor, so he crawled around all day moving bricks. When he was finally allowed to visit a nearby military clinic, he had to crawl on a road for two hours to reach it, only to be refused treatment the moment the doctor learned he was a black guard. He crawled back to the labor camp.

Intellectuals and bureaucrats were subjected to public humiliation sentences and then punished by being sent to labor camps. In one sense, it was also a cultural reform. If you want to cure people of the proprieties and decorum of shame culture, if you want them to overcome the strict barrier that exists there between public and private… you can begin by subjecting them to public humiliation, to show them at their worst in public, to force them to expose themselves, to the point where they experience something roughly equivalent to a gang rape. At that point they come to believe that they have no self-respect, they have no face, they have nothing left to hide. Thus, they have no need to manifest good behavior in public or to try to behave decorously and with civility. They will then replace behaviors that contribute to social harmony with behaviors that involve them in a permanent struggle and permanent drama. 

Intellectuals are not notoriously courageous. They wilt under stress. The extreme stress caused many of the intellectuals to turn against each other, to denounce and betray each other in order to show that they were true believing Maoists:

He writes about Chinese intellectuals’ eager cooperation in ideological campaigns and how, under pressure, they frequently turned on one another.

As Ji wrote:

Since we had been directed to oppose the rightists, we did. After more than a decade of continuous political struggle, the intellectuals knew the drill. We all took turns persecuting each other. This went on until the Socialist Education Movement, which, in my view, was a precursor to the Cultural Revolution.

In effect, they were being acculturated in guilt. In a shame culture one is duty bound to show respect for others. In a guilt culture one is duty bound to punish oneself for one’s crimes, real or imagined. In China these were invariably thought crimes.

He writes:

To Ji, this is a forgivable sin because if he and many other Chinese intellectuals have been guilty of persecuting one another, it was largely because the intellectuals as a class had been compelled to feel deeply guilty and shameful about themselves. Ji described how this was achieved through the fierce criticism and self-criticism sessions, a unique feature of the Maoist thought-reform campaigns. Ji’s own ideological conversion was accomplished through such a ritual.

As Zha describes it, the sense of guilt effectively replaced a belief that they had nothing left to hide, and had no reason to maintain their sense of shame. Thus, they were acculturated in guilt and self-punishment:

Ji describes the overwhelming sense of guilt as “almost Christian,” which led to a feeling of shame and induced a powerful urge to conform and to worship the new God—the Communist Party and its Great Leader. Afterward, like a sinner given a chance to prove his worthiness, he eagerly abandoned all his previous skepticism—the trademark of a critical faculty—and became a true believer. He embraced the new cult of personality, joining others to shout at the top of his voice “Long Live Chairman Mao!” Through this process, millions of Chinese intellectuals cast off their individuality. For Ji, the feeling of guilt became so deeply engrained that, even after he was locked up in the cowshed, he racked his brain for his own faults rather than questioning the Party or the system.

Zha’s analysis of the Cultural Revolution differs somewhat from mind. Thus, it is worth examining:

Everyone knows that Mao is the chief culprit of the Cultural Revolution. Well-known historical data points to a tangle of factors behind Mao’s motivation for launching it: subtle tension among the top leadership of the CCP since the Great Leap Forward, which led to a famine with an estimated thirty to forty million deaths; his desire to reassert supremacy and crush any perceived challenge to his personal power by reaching down directly to the masses; his radical, increasingly lunatic vision of permanent revolution; his deep anti-intellectualism and paranoid jealousy. But, from the viewpoint of the Party, allowing a full investigation and exposure of Mao’s manipulations would threaten the Party’s legitimacy. If the great helmsman gets debunked, the whole ship may go down. Mao as a symbol is therefore crucial: it is tied to the survival of the Party state.

Zha raises an important issue here. Even after the leaders of the Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four, were arrested in 1976 there was little national soul-searching and little public analysis of the events.

One reason might have been that so many people participated:

Then there is the thorny issue of the people’s participation in the Cultural Revolution. The Red Guards were only the best-known of the radical organizations. At the height of madness, millions of ordinary Chinese took part in various forms of lawless actions and rampant violence. The estimated death toll of those who committed suicide, were tortured to death, were publicly executed, or were killed in armed factional battles runs from hundreds of thousands to millions. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to bring all of the perpetrators to account.

Surely, this is a primary reason. The second reason was if you want to restore people’s sense of shame you should begin by covering up. When you get caught with your pants down, even when your pants have been pulled down against your will, the first thing you to do take a step toward having a sense of shame is to pull them up. The powers in China did not believe that anything would be gained by a protracted soul-searching into the causes of the Cultural Revolution. Nor did they seem to believe that those who were victimized by it would be served by reliving its horrors.

Zha recounts that Ji became an active supporter of the student protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989. Surely, this was an act of political courage. But, Zha does not mention an important point, namely, that whereas we in the West saw the protests as the second coming of Woodstock, the men who were leading China at the time were more likely to have seen the students as the second coming of the Red Guards.

If one does not understand what the protests looked like within the context of recent Chinese history one will never understand what happened, why it happened, and why it did not cause the people to overthrow the regime.

An Oxford College Stands Against Political Harassment

How can we stop the long march of political correctness on college campuses? How can we put an end to the nonsense about trigger warnings and microaggressions? How can we shut down the policing of thought and speech that now infects so many college campuses? ? How can we overcome the absurdity of college students being told that if they will be downgraded if they use correct English grammar?

What can be done about colleges who spend their time worrying about whether men can use women’s locker rooms? What can be done about college teachers who have no compunction about indoctrinating their students in the ideology of oppression and white privilege? And what can be done about the  advent of administrative proceedings—instigated by the Obama administration—to deprive those accused of sexual assault of due process of law?

Recently, a group of radicals at Oriel College in Oxford University decided that a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a man whose money had funded the college, had to be taken down. The movement was called Rhodes Must Fall. You see, Rhodes was a racist, and therefore his statuesque presence was preventing black students from realizing their full potential.

Well, the college just decided to reject the demands of the disaffected students, a decision that ought to shame a certain number of American college presidents, beginning with Peter Salovey at Yale. You recall that Salovey could do no better than to cave in to radical student demands.

By way of contrast, the chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Chris Patten told the protesters that if they did not like the statue they should go get their educations elsewhere.

Why did those who run Oriel College at Oxford decide to keep the statue? Why did they decide to cease their consultations with the Rhodes Must Fall group?

The answer is: college alumni began to withdraw their financial donations. The college depends on these donations to balance its books. How about that? With money goes power. For all the spirited debate that takes place in the marketplace of ideas, what really matters in venerable Oxford University is alumni donations. Call it the power of the purse.

Many years ago Irving Kristol suggested that the people who have the power to tamp down on political correctness and other forms of leftist radicalism are the alumni who shower these places with money. And, let’s not forget the state legislatures who fund many of the state run institutions.

Since an alumni donation is freely given, it can be freely withdrawn. It’s very easy to change one’s will to write out one’s favorite college.

You might call it a return to rationality, but you might better follow Glenn Reynolds and say that it’s a return to “adult supervision.”

In any event, the Daily Telegraph reported on the price Oriel College paid for even considering removing the Rhodes statue:

The governing body of Oriel College, which owns the statue, has ruled out its removal after being warned that £1.5m worth of donations have already been cancelled, and that it faces dire financial consequences if it bows to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign.

A leaked copy of a report prepared for the governors and seen by this newspaper discloses that wealthy alumni angered by the “shame and embarrassment” brought on the 690-year-old college by its own actions have now written it out of their wills.

The college now fears a proposed £100m gift - to be left in the will of one donor - is now in jeopardy following the row.

The donors were astonished by a proposal to remove a plaque marking where Rhodes lived, and to launch a six-month consultation over whether the statue of the college’s biggest benefactor should be taken down.

But Oriel College confirmed in a statement to the Telegraph: “Following careful consideration, the College’s governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place.”

And also,

At a meeting on Wednesday the governing body was told that because of its ambiguous position on the removal of the statue, “at least one major donation of £500,000” that was expected this year has been cancelled.

In addition, a “potential £750,000 donor” has stopped responding to messages from the college, and several alumni have written to Oriel to say “they are disinheriting the college from their wills”.


One of those who has already cancelled their legacy was going to leave a “seven figure sum” and the college is aware that “another major donor is furious with the College… whose legacy could be in excess of £100m”.

The report warns that there will now "almost certainly" be "one or two redundancies" in its Development Office team because of the collapse in donations. And it has cancelled an annual fundraising drive that should have taken place in April. The report also warns that Oriel's development office could now make an operating loss of around £200,000 this year.

So, if you want to assign blame for the lunacy that is currently infecting so many of America’s best college campuses, don’t forget to point a finger at the alumni whose generous donations are funding it. The power lies with the purse.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Do Feminists Prefer Rapists?

Just when you think that the radical left can’t get any dumber, you run across this. Apparently, it is intended to be a serious thought. It was posted on the Facebook page of a German leftist organization, Rote Antifa. For the record, the German Rote means Red, while Antifa, is short for Antifascist—a shorthand used by German Communists and the New Left.

It is supposed to represent advanced radical feminist thought.

Read it and weep.

Image via Facebook
The caption reads:

Prefer sexually active fugitive to German racists.

Can you imagine the uproar if someone of the male persuasion described rapists as “sexually active?”

[Correction: I am reliably informed that this picture was photoshopped. The original was:

Who's Really Afraid of Megyn Kelly?

Now that the Trumpless debate has come and gone, everyone is still agonizing over whether the Donald made a bold strategic move or made himself look weak. The answer, I would underscore, will be found in the outcome of the primaries and the general election. If you think you know the answer before the fact, you don’t. No one does. If you think that Trump is always right and can do no wrong, you are an idolater. 

Aside from that excessively salient point, there is another question that no one is asking. Why are the Democratic candidates afraid to do a debate on Fox? Are they terrified at the prospect of facing the fearsome Megyn Kelly or does Bret Baier cause them to quiver in their boots or booties?

 It's about time that someone asked them that question.

The Great European Unraveling

Writing in The Australian Douglas Murray outlines the crisis that is currently destroying the European Union. For another angle, see this story by Barbie Latza Nadeau in the Daily Beast.

Murray explains that it all began with a spasm of motherly compassion accompanied by deep feelings of guilt.

When the body of a young Syrian boy was found washed up on a beach in Turkey last year, many Europeans were strangely bounced into thinking that this was both Europe’s fault and its responsibility.

Leftist Europeans thought they were being presented with a great moral opportunity, that is, a chance to show the world their moral superiority. It tells us to be wary of people who ostentatiously claim the moral high ground:

For parts of Europe the human tidal wave appeared to present a kind of moral opportunity. The Swedish government boasted of becoming a “humanitarian superpower”. “Mutti” (mother) Merkel — to give her the name Germans often used to accord her — presented the desire of ­refugees to actually come into Germany, rather than flee from it, as something of a historical atonement.

Those who were in the throes of this moral spasm came up with some seemingly cogent arguments in favor of immigration. These new immigrants, they argued, would be Germany’s future workforce:

Her government also disingenuously and short-sightedly echoed some free-marketeers who suggested that this tsunami of mainly young people could assist the “greying” German population by providing the labour force for the next generation. Never mind that this “labour force” had no jobs to go to or that they were moving through southern European countries such as Italy and Greece, which themselves had between 25 per cent and 50 per cent youth unemployment rates.

Being great humanitarians and believing that all cultures are the same these German politicians followed the appalling example of their Swedish neighbors and ignored the possibility that Muslim immigrants might not be able to assimilate and might not possess the skills that would make them valuable workers:

This argument also criminally foresaw no problems from importing a new working class from a different continent with a different creed and different values. Cologne helped reverse that lack of foresight. But there is some unravelling to do yet.

When it comes to workforce participation the reality looks quite different. Today in Germany, the newspaper Die Welt reports, the unemployment rate is around 7%. The unemployment rate for Syrian immigrants is 64%; that of Lebanese, 49%; that of Iraqis, 43%; that of Afghanis, 31%. The jobs that the new immigrants do get tend to be unskilled. Immigrants who have been in the country for a long time do not do very much better.

And no one should have been surprised that the rampant misogyny should be accompanied by a rising tide of anti-Semitism.

Crucially, for the first time, Merkel looks weak and on the defensive. It was only after allowing a million more migrants into the country — and as reports of anti-Semitic incidents began to seep in — that the Chancellor said Germany did not want any anti-Semites to come to Germany.

And it was only after the horrors of New Year’s Eve that Merkel and her ministers began to say that anyone who thought women were rape fodder was not welcome in Germany.

Today 40% of Germans believe that Merkel should quit. For now we have no reason to think that this is going to end well.

Sweden Descends into Turmoil

The headlines tell the story. The Daily Mail chronicles Sweden’s descent into turmoil. They need no commentary.

Yesterday we read:

Swedish police reveal they have dealt with 5,000 incidents involving migrants since October - and say the problem is increasing 
  • Officers have been called out to nearly 600 assaults in last three months
  • Two bomb threats and 450 fights also linked to migrants or asylum seekers
  • Police chief warned an ever-increasing number of officers was needed
And this, also from yesterday:

EXCLUSIVE -The city destroyed by migration: Inside the Swedish town where armed gangs patrol the streets, crime has exploded and a beautiful social worker's murder has shocked Europe
  • Social worker Alexandra Mezher, 22, was murdered in Mölndal on Monday
  • Gothenburg suburb last year took in more unaccompanied refugee children than anywhere else in the country – 4,041 added to a population of 63,000 
  • Received £22.6million to provide housing for unaccompanied minors – the most state funding per capita than any town or city in Sweden  
  • Crime figures reveal there were 222 criminal complaints linked to migrant centres – between 20 October 2015 and 8 January this year 
  • MailOnline went inside lawless town where eyes of Europe have been watching since the senseless stabbing 
A few days earlier the Daily Mail reported on the situation in Stockholm’s central train station:

Swedish police warn Stockholm's main train station is now overrun by migrant teen gangs 'stealing and groping girls'
  • Hundreds of Moroccan children living on the streets in Stockholm
  • Accused of stealing and assaulting security guards at the main station 
  • Police say they grope girls and 'slap them in the face when they protest'
  • One in five Moroccan migrant children run away from housing since 2012
And, this morning we read this:

Hundreds-strong' mob of masked men rampage through Stockholm station beating up refugee children in revenge attack for female asylum centre worker killed by Somali 'boy' 
  • Black-clad masked men targeted refugees at Stockholm train station
  • The mob, linked to football hooligans, targeted unaccompanied minors 
  • Before attack they handed out racist leaflets with message 'Enough now'
  • They also refer to alleged murder of Swedish aid worker Alexandra Mezher
  • She was stabbed to death breaking up fight between two migrant boys 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Why Not Marry Yourself?

I first wrote about this in 2012. You would think that that would have been enough time for the nation and its psycho professionals to get it out of their minds. But, alas, it is continuing, and it is even becoming something of a trend.

I am talking about self-marriage. Yes, indeed. If you are having trouble finding a suitable mate, if dating has not been going very well, if you are tired of the bar scene, the club scene and the hookup scene… well, you can solve your problems by marrying yourself. Invite all your friends and family and plight your troth to yourself.

How come no one thought of that before? Why haven’t people been willing to declare to the world how much they love themselves? I do not need to explain how you consummate your self-marriage, but you can guess.

According to self-marriage is a way of boosting or affirming your self-love. As though it needs boosting or affirming. No one else might like you, but you like you. No one else might love you, but you love you. No one else might want to sleep with you, but you are happy to shoulder the burden, night after night… you never fail to be there for you.

Think of the advantages. You do not need to worry about changing your name. Some of self-marriage’s proponents argue that you do not have to have sex with the same person all the time. Pardon me for raising the question, but if you have sex with yourself—Woody Allen once called it sex with someone you love—aren’t you having sex with the same body every time? If you hook up with someone at a club, aren’t you therefore cheating on yourself? Console yourself with the thought that once you marry yourself you will not be arguing about who is doing which chores.

Of course, when check in to a hotel should you say that you are one or two? Do you file your taxes as single or married? What if you want to go out but your self wants to stay home?

Proponents of self-marriage say that it’s better than being alone. To make it seem slightly less ridiculous, they say that when you marry yourself you are telling the world that you like your own company. Perfectly independent and autonomous—isn’t that what everyone wants?-- you will not be desperate to find someone to fill the gap in your life.

Proponents also say that it relieves the pressure to find the One, because you are the One. Now when you don’t have a date for Saturday night you really do have a date with yourself. You can pig out on chicken wings and chips and no one will be the wiser. Perfect self-indulgence one might call it.

Then again, what happens when you start talking to yourself? Is it a real conversation or an ersatz psychotic breakdown? We know that in psychiatry talking to yourself is not a very good sign.

But, when you marry yourself, can you still date? Proponents of self-marriage will say that they do not cheat on themselves when they have sex with someone else because they have an open relationship. They have agreed with themselves that extramarital affairs will be fine. Some might call it polygamy.

But, won’t your auxiliary spouses be jealous of your extraordinary love for yourself. And if you are completely self-sufficient and do not need anyone for anything, what is their role? Are they just extra baggage, to be used for subsidiary needs and then tossed aside in favor of the one true love that will never leave you: your Self.

But then again, how can you want yourself, how can you yearn for yourself, how can you desire yourself when there is no way of putting any distance between you and yourself? If absence makes the heart grow fonder, or some such thing, and if absence is the basis for desire—you cannot desire something you already have—it makes no sense to say that you desire yourself, that you will need to seduce yourself, that you will need to charm yourself.

If you are a woman and can figure out parthenogenesis, you can even have children. As for divorce, some believe that the only way you can dissolve this marriage by yourself is by committing suicide.

If you read some of the articles on this strange custom you will discover that its leading practitioners seem all to be women. It’s hard to believe that women are more full of themselves than men, but such seems to be the case. Perhaps, it comes from feminist ideology and the therapy culture. The self-married few see self-marriage as a way to escape patriarchal oppression and commitments to other people.

If we had read this in The Onion, it would be good for a few laughs. Just because we read it on does not make it less satirical. Some people seem to want to make themselves a living, breathing reductio ad absurdum of one of the main trends in philosophy and psychology: the glorification of the Self, the obsession with Self, the adoration of Self, the veneration of the Self. How much psychotherapy is devoted to healing the Self, to repairing the Self? Wouldn’t self-marriage be the logical goal of this process?

Of course, the mini-minds of the therapy world will tell you that once you commit yourself to self-love and find a good, clean, healthy self-love you will project your inner radiance and self-confidence. Others will immediately be attracted to you, because nothing is quite so attractive as someone who is full of hiimself. Thus self-love by the theory will naturally lead to fulfilling love with another person.

For those who like their theories pure and who refuse to adulterate their serious thinking with any objective facts or realities, self-marriage is clearly the way to go. For my part I liked it better when pride was a sin.

Do Feminists Love Islamists?

Oxford biologist and world-renowned atheist Richard Dawkins just stepped in it again. His crime: retweeting a YouTube video that feminists found to be especially repugnant and offensive.

The Independent has the story:

Professor Richard Dawkins has had an invitation to speak at a science event withdrawn by organisers for sharing a "highly offensive" video mocking feminists on Twitter. 

Dawkins was scheduled to speak at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism which will take place in New York City in May, but on Thursday organisers issued a statement concerning his participation.

“The NECSS has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.

“We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organisations.”

One cheers the organization’s ringing affirmation of free speech. And yet, one is obliged to note that it is a completely meaningless… when it is censoring Dawkins for retweeting—not quite the same as expressing—views it finds offensive.

One notes with chagrin, as one has often noted, that the feminist paradise of Sweden is among the most tolerant of sex crimes committed by Muslim men against Swedish women and that girl power reigns in Germany and Norway, places where Muslim men who rape women are more likely to be greeted with multicultural sensitivity than with prison time or expulsion.

If the NECSS were half as upset over the way women are routinely treated in the woman-run feminist paradises in Europe we would find their umbrage easier to swallow.

In truth, the group can invite or disinvite anyone it wants. But it is also clear that many forces in the culture will be more than happy to shut up and to shut down Dawkins and his ilk.

Finally, Dawkins summarized his view of the incident:

Dawkins later responded to his “de-platforming” of the NECSS conference: “De-platformed for tweeting an irrelevant joke song? Ah well, ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ Incidentally, would Monty Python have been de-platformed for that? No, don’t be silly, Life of Brian was only satirising Christianity.”

Apparently, Dawkins, who has made a second career out of defaming religion, has just discovered that contemporary ideology is far worse than Christianity. Ideologues cannot even take a joke.

Naturally, I always try to avoid posting offending and offensive videos, but this time, in order to allow everyone to draw their own conclusions, I will post it. (Thanks to S.M. for sending it along.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

France Rejects Cultural Submission

With everyone bowing and scraping to the newly legitimized Iranian regime, and with the Vatican covering up slightly immodest art work out of respect the delicate sensibilities of the Iranian prime minister, it’s good to see one nation stand tall for civilized values.

That nation would be: France!

France’s president refused to submit to Iranian cultural imperatives. Faced with a choice between wine or Islam and France chose wine. Lunch between the presidents of France and Iran was cancelled... over wine.

This from the Daily Mail, via Katie Pavlich:

A lunch between the French and Iranian presidents in Paris was scrapped today because France refused to remove wine from the menu.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has been on a tour of Europe, signing billions of pounds worth of business deals with different nations, after economic sanctions against the country were lifted.

He was due to dine with President Francois Hollande at an upmarket restaurant in the French capital.

The French insisted on serving local food and wine but the Iranians demanded a halal menu in keeping with their Muslim faith.

Hollande's officials said preparing the meal to be 'Iran friendly' went against France's republican values. 

The Elysee Palace suggested a breakfast with Rouhani instead, but this was said to be snubbed by the Iranian leader for being 'too cheap'.

A diplomatic source told the RTL radio station: 'The leaders have missed out on a great opportunity to meet in the relaxed environment of a meal.'

In contrast, the Italians made sure the Iranian visit went smoothly by keeping alcohol off the menu for state dinners and covering up its nude statues.

A wooden box was placed around several pieces, including a Venus dating back to the Second Century BC, at Rome's Capitoline Museum, before the Italian and Iranian premiers spoke there.

The Winter of Europe's Discontent

Usually it takes a little time before the curse of being Time Magazine Person of the Year takes hold. Amazingly, Angela Merkel’s downfall began on New Year’s Eve in Cologne. Then the demons she had unleashed by her open-hearted welcoming of refugees rose up to attack young German women who were out for the evening to celebrate the New Year.

Merkel believed that she was being kind-hearted and welcoming. She even adopted a variant on the Obama administration policy of “Yes, we can.” Now she looks to go down in history as the Chancellor who destroyed Germany.

Apparently, Merkel and her supporters believed that welcoming Muslim refugees was their Christian duty. They were willing to turn the other cheek to the predations of the young males they allowed to molest their daughters, but now they seem to have run out of cheeks.

One notes that Merkel is a conservative politician. The more liberal and social elements in Germany have been cheering her on, but the policy is hers.

Now, the situation is so bad that the highly sober Economist is beginning to be alarmed. It is beginning to see that Europe’s future is anything but bright. Because, the continent has just woken up to the fact that what happened in Cologne has been happening in other European countries, especially in those that are run by left-leaning and feminist politicians.

It writes:

The new-year horrors of Cologne, when hundreds of women were sexually assaulted by marauding groups of men, many of them Muslim asylum-seekers, focused minds on cultural differences. But bringing refugees into the workforce, the main engine of integration, represents at least as big a challenge. The assumption that Germany’s tight labour market was tailor-made for job-hungry migrants has given way to the grim realisation that most are an ill fit for an economy mainly seeking highly skilled workers. The head of one business group reckons almost 80% of refugees have next to no skills at all.

The Economist nicely calls it a challenge, but the more important point is that these migrants are anything but “job-hungry.” Having “next to no skills at all,” being dysfunctional and ineffectual males, they cover up their inadequacy by preying on German women. With no skills they seem to have only one way to proclaim their machismo. The word manhood would be a distortion.

Evidently, Merkel did not consider the consequences of her actions. And she might still not have considered them fully. She was occupying the moral high ground and must have been surprised to see the fallout from her policy.

Her legacy is collapsing:

Such schemes show how far Germany has travelled since its “welcome culture” lifted European liberals’ hearts last summer. Back then Mrs Merkel’s model presented an inspiring alternative to the small-minded xenophobia of leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban. Now, after the chaos and trauma of the past six months, Mr Orban feels vindicated and the chancellor looks increasingly isolated. Germany has tried to lead in Europe, but others will not follow. To Mrs Merkel’s immense frustration, other EU countries agree to policies like relocation and then ignore them. While German officials try to knit together the geopolitics of the crisis, from Iraq to Turkey and Russia, most other countries would prefer it simply to go away. As for the European Commission, which sometimes looks like the chancellor’s last ally, it has gamely advanced common policies but is too weak to enforce them. “The European dream is vanishing,” sighs one of its senior officials.

As it happens, the woman-friendly policies of places like Germany, Sweden and Denmark have deprived women of their basic liberties. Anyone who disagrees is denounced as racist and told to shut up. Now, in Cologne, with Carnival approaching, authorities have set up safe zones where young women might feel safe from depraved Muslim refugees.

The Telegraph has the story:

Authorities in the German city of Cologne are to set up a “safe zone” for women during the annual carnival which begins next week, to avoid a repeat of the New Year sex attacks on women.

The move comes after it emerged two asylum-seekers from Algeria are being held as suspects in the sex assaults.

The Cologne carnival is one of the largest street festivals in Europe, and attracts more than 1m people to its main parade each year.

There are concerns the large crowds could leave women vulnerable to the sort of attacks seen on New Year’s Eve, when police were havily outnumbered.

The authorities plan to provide extra street lighting and set up a “safe zone” for women in the city centre, staffed with social workers.

A safe zone staffed by social workers—what could be more festive; what could make women feel safer on the streets.

Amazingly, in what must be some kind of a joke, Germany was just named the best country in the world. Some people, dare we say, have no sense of reality.

Now Europeans have also discovered the risks of allowing asylum seekers, as they are called, share swimming pools with Europeans. The only way to protect women in the best country in the world is to ban Muslim men from public swimming pools.

Powerline reports:

The German town of Bornheim, 19 miles south of Cologne, temporarily banned male asylum seekers from its pool this month after receiving complaints of sexual harassment.

Last week, the historic baths Johannisbad baths in Zwickau, Saxony banned all migrants after male asylum seekers had been caught masturbating in a hot tub and sexually assaulting women.

The news from Sweden is no different:

Eriksdalsbadet, which is the biggest aquatics centre in Stockholm, has previously reported a spike in sexual assaults – mainly incidents involving boys and young men groping women. As a result, Stockholm police will now have uniformed police regularly patrolling the swimming centre, and the pool’s hot tubs are now segregated by sex.

And from Belgium:

It comes as a Belgian mayor announced that he would propose banning male refugees from a swimming pool for a month on Monday after complaints from female bathers.

Denmark, for example, is beginning to try to crack down on refugees, but recently a Danish girl who defended herself with pepper spray was fined for using an illegal weapon:

The teenager told police that she was attacked in central Sønderborg on Wednesday at around 10pm by a dark-skinned English-speaking man. She said the man knocked her to the ground and then unbuttoned her pants and attempted to undress her. 

The girl was able to save herself from further assault by using pepper spray on the attacker, but now she may be the one who ends up in legal trouble. 

“It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten told TV Syd. 

The case has sparked a backlash among some Danes who point to increasing reports of sexual harassment in Sønderborg and other Danish cities at the same time that police say they are stretched too thin to properly carry out their duties

Numerous readers wrote in the comments section on TV Syd’s story about the incident that they would be willing to pay the girl’s fine, which will most likely be 500 kroner. 

In Denmark the right to self-defense has been trumped by the right to molest Danish women.  Or, should we say, cultural diversity. The incident was not atypical:

Sexual assaults have been in the news in Sønderborg recently after several women in the town reported earlier this month that they sometimes feel harassed by the aggressive behaviour of some male asylum seekers and refugees at the local asylum centre. 

The Danish paper also notes that the local police have been covering up the number of rapes:

Denmark recorded an average of 395 rape cases every year up to 2014. But an investigation by the Ministry of Justice has revealed the actual number to be closer to 1,100 annually, Metroxpress reported on Thursday.

The majority of the ‘missing’ reports were hidden in police statistics by giving them investigation numbers that did not classify them as rape cases. A number of police departments confirmed to Metroxpress that this was standard practice in cases where there was doubt as to whether a rape had actually occurred.

Recently, Denmark decided that it needed to get a bit tough on asylum seekers. It passed a law that allowed officials to confiscate the jewelry and other valuables of asylum seekers. Naturally, defenders of human rights were in an uproar about these racist policies. One notes with chagrin that these defenders of human rights do not care about the victims of the sexual predators who are flooding these countries.

In Sweden, the central train station of Stockholm has been taken over by marauding bands of Moroccan youths who prey on Swedish women. Keep in mind that Sweden is a feminist paradise where men take parental leave and where boys are taught that they must pee sitting down.

Swedish police warns that Stockholm's main train station has become unsafe after being ‘taken over’ by dozens of Moroccan street children. 

The all-male migrant teen gangs are spreading terror in the centre of the Swedish capital, stealing, groping girls and assaulting security guards, according to Stockholm police.

Members of the gangs, some as young as nine, roam central Stockholm day and night, refusing help provided by the Swedish authorities. 

'These guys are a huge problem for us. They steal stuff everywhere and assault security guards at the central station,' one police officer told SVT.

'They grope girls between their legs, and slap them in the face when they protest. All police officers are aware of this. 

'I would never let my children go to the central station. No officer would.' 

Apparently, Sweden, like Denmark is beginning to come to its senses. The Daily Mail reports this morning:

Sweden intends to kick out up to 80,000 migrants who arrived last year and have had their asylum application rejected, the country announced yesterday.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said the Swedish government had asked the police and authorities in charge of migrants to organise their removal.

The proposed measure was revealed as Europe struggles to deal with a crisis that has seen tens of thousands of migrants arrive on Greek beaches, mostly fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Is this too little, too late? One suspects that it is. It is not at all easy to expel that many people, especially when no one will take them. By all indications this is not going to end well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Trump vs. Ailes: Clash of the Titans

Before the first ballot has been cast Donald Trump has declared himself the victor. He is the man in charge. As he sees it, being the man in charge means telling other people what to do, how to run their businesses.

Now, he has taken on the man who created Fox News, Roger Ailes. One suspects that Trump was just getting tired of kicking around politicians. It was just too easy to pound Jeb Bush. In the world of reality television, Trump is a master. No candidate compares when it comes to occupying space on television. Trump has barely spent any money advertising, but all the television networks report his every word. They fall all over themselves to give him air time. After all, Trump means high ratings, and who doesn’t want higher ratings?

If Trump was tired of squabbles and “squirmishes” with mere politicians, why not go after the king of television news, the impresario who made Fox News into a titan. If you want to be the king, you must replace the king, and when it comes to reality television qua news the king is Roger Ailes.

Better yet, when a Republican attacks Fox news it looks like a Sister Souljah moment. Any Republican can trash MSNBC, with impunity. It fires up the base, as they say. But, for a Republican or a would-be Republican to attack Fox News, that takes courage. It takes fortitude and it appeals to those who think that Fox News is the Inferno and that Roger Ailes is Lucifer.

Of course, people who hold to New York values hate Fox News. They consider it to be the root of all evil… or at least the evil that has not been caused by the Tea Party and George W. Bush.

By dissing Fox News, and refusing, for now, to show up for the Thursday debate, Trump is dominating the news cycle and showing off his New York values.

One must point out that the general opinion, from commentators on the left and the right was that the Fox journalists did an excellent job, took a fair and balanced approach, in the first debate. Obviously, DT did not think so. He took serious exception to the process and especially to one Megyn Kelly.

Go back to the beginning. People forget the opening salvo of the first debate. The moderators asked the assembled candidates to raise their hands to show that they would support the Republican nominee, no matter who. All but one did.

It was serious television drama. Was Ailes behind it? I suspect that he was. Was he trying to humiliate Donald Trump? I suspect that he was.

Truth be told, Trump still came out on top. His supporters loved him more than they had before, if that is possible, and his detractors softened their attitude. It looked like he could handle tough questions and retain his composure under fire. Future debates seemed to prove the point. Trump may not be a professional debater, but he did better than hold his own.

Still, Trump was seriously piqued. But, he did not go after Ailes directly. Why attack the king when you can attack someone he cares about, his franchise, his greatest creation, Megyn Kelly. Increasingly, Kelly looks like the face of Fox News and the future of Fox News.

As it happens, Kelly has become a media darling. She has received fawning cover profiles in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and Vanity Fair. For people with New York values, it doesn’t get much better than that. Megyn Kelly is becoming what is called in another context, a crossover talent. She is working on a conservative channel, but has become a darling of the liberal media. Not because she is a liberal—she is far more conservative than liberal—but because she is just as adept at confronting and debating conservatives. She is always fair and balanced….

Anyway, Trump was sorely offended at the questions that Kelly asked him at the first debate. He responded her in personal and vulgar terms. Since Kelly asked Trump about the way he speaks about women, his attacks on her have simply proved her right.

In the meantime, Trump’s fan base does not care. It seems to believe that speaking ill of women is the antidote to feminism. It isn’t, but who cares?

So, Trump has been riding high in the polls. Debates in which he participates have spiked television ratings and brought in considerable advertising dollars. So, why not use his power to abuse Megyn Kelly and to push around Roger Ailes. Clearly, that would make him the king of all reality media… don’t you think?

Trump might have been thinking this way. He might not have been. He has been running a campaign on his instincts, and, for now, his instincts have been much better than some of us imagined.

One suspects that Trump felt humiliated in the first Fox debate. And he must have felt that Ailes did it on purpose. Now, he is looking for payback. If it feels thin-skinned, that’s because it is. If it feels like throwing one’s weight around, trying to look strong when you are feeling weakened, that’s because it is. It might not be the most civilized way to save face, but many people would do the same. They hurt his feelings; now he is going to make them pay... in the most literal sense.

Anyway, the Washington Post has reprinted Kelly’s remarks. I quote them for your edification:

Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don't use a politician's filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals.' ...

Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a a pretty picture to see her on her knees.

Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?"

One notes that Trump interrupted the question to point out that he had only said those things about Rosie O’Donnell. His fans cheered heartily. To that Kelly pointed out that he was wrong. The Washington Post checked the facts and said that Kelly was correct. To Trump supporters, it did not matter.

And Kelly asked this, which echoes the point that Trump first made in 1999 about New York values:

Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, 'very pro-choice.' Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like 'clowns' and 'puppets.' When did you actually become a Republican?

It’s a fair question, because Trump has been touting his conversion to Republicanism. He has made it sound like he converted when he was struck by lightning on the road to Damascus. This seems sufficient for many evangelical voters, who are now flocking to Trump because of a text they found in 2 Corinthians.

The Post adds that the other candidates also received pointed and tough questions, questions designed to address their weaknesses.

Anyway, Donald has been feuding with Kelly ever since. It does not seem very dignified to me, but it does seem to have been working.

So well that Trump recently decided to up the game with his true opponent, Ailes, by demanding that Megyn Kelly be excluded from the upcoming Fox debate. He accused her of being unfair and biased against him and he said that if she was there, he would absent himself. He knew that his presence would mean big ratings and more advertising revenue. Why not leverage his power to kick around Roger Ailes?

To be clear, there is no way on earth that any news organization can possibly accede to such a demand. To do so would discredit it immediately. It would become, if I may use this harsh language, Trump’s bitch.

Perhaps Trump was just playing chicken with Fox News. Perhaps he had intended to make his point and then to show up. After all, the debates have been a boon to him. But then, Ailes fired back at him yesterday afternoon, through a spokesman, in distinctly unflattering language:

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president—a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

Apparently, this was one insult too many. No one could be allowed to ridicule the Donald and to get away with it. Trump folded his cards and walked away from the debate. For now, at least.

Obviously, he is opening himself up to charges of chickening out. He is opening himself to charges that he is afraid to face a woman. But he believes that he is looking tough and his supporters might very well be contented with that. Clearly, Ailes or Kelly or both have gotten under his skin. How will it work out in the end? We do not know. Underestimating Donald Trump has not been a very winning strategy lately.

Obviously, Trump’s opponents are trying to seize the initiative by suggesting that Trump is not man enough to deal with Megyn Kelly. Ted Cruz invited Trump to a one-on-one, mano-a-mano debate, moderated by whomever he wishes. And someone created a new hashtag: #DonaldDuck.

When Trump withdrew from the debate, a Fox spokesperson issued this statement:

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Now, Gabriel Sherman reports in New York Magazine that the powers at Fox are very upset and that the conflict with Trump is exposing divisions within the organization… especially between those who support Megyn Kelly and those who resent her being the new face of the network.

For now, Sherman writes, Trump wants to appeal to a higher power: Rupert Murdoch himself:

Trump advisers are privately telling people that he will only deal with Rupert Murdoch to resolve the dispute. Having Murdoch dragged into the mess could be a serious problem for Ailes. The CEO earned Murdoch's trust because Fox generates $1 billion in profit, but also because he was always in control. But in recent months Murdoch has been attending news meetings at Fox in the wake of a health scare that forced Ailes to take an extended leave of absence. Succession planning at Fox is very much on Murdoch's agenda. If Ailes loses his grip on the Trump situation — and right now it looks like he is — Murdoch will have another reason to worry about the stability of his most valuable asset.

Stay tuned.