Archive for the ‘culture wars’ Category

The Book

Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” is a stunningly beautiful example of prose at its very best. An absolute pleasure to read and to immerse oneself in the writer’s delicately crafted imagery, Lolita, as seen through the eyes of Humbert Humbert is the epitome of one who “walks in beauty like the night.”

 “Oh, what a dreamy pet! She walked up to the open suitcase as if stalking it from afar, at a kind of slow-motion walk, peering at that distant treasure box on the luggage support. (Was there something wrong, I wondered, with those great gray eyes of hers, or were we both plunged in the same enchanted mist?) 

The deftness of the prose is incredible. In your mind’s eye you can “see” exactly what the writer wants you to see moving at the exact pace that he intends for you to move at.

“She stepped up to it, lifting her rather high-heeled feet rather high and bending her beautiful boy-knees while she walked through dilating space with the lentor of one walking under water or in a flight dream. Then she raised by the armlets a  copper-colored, charming and quite expensive vest, very slowly stretching it between her silent hands as if she were a bemused bird-hunter holding his breath over the incredible bird he spreads out by the tips of its flaming wings.”

Just then, you feel a tinge of something wrong.

You begin to sense the vulgar aesthetic of it all, and you come to grips with the realization that you’re enjoying beauty through the eyes of a pedophile, and the book is never the same again. You struggle with Humbert’s morally repugnant behavior even as you recognize the greatness of the writing.

Lolita herself is nothing like what Humbert describes her as being. She is a rather ordinary twelve year-old, and her exotic beauty resides solely in Humbert’s mind. The nymphet described in the book exists because he exists.

That’s classic solipsism.

The theory or view that the self is the only reality. An extreme form of skepticism which denies the possibility of any knowledge other than of one’s own existence. Applied to political ideology, it is the belief that one specific set of beliefs is the only acceptable set of beliefs which defines that political ideology, to the exclusion of all others.

The modern day Social Conservative movement is Humbert Humbert to the Taxed Enough Already coalition’s Lolita.

Humbert Humbert

The origins of today’s Social Conservatives can be traced directly to Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority”.  Formed in 1976, Falwell’s decision to forego traditional Baptist principles separating religion and politics soon blossomed into a Southern Baptist political machine that was arguably instrumental in Ronald Reagan’s victories in the 80’s.

Falwell’s vision was to create a Southern Christian Right coalition to push back against the nation’s moral decay by bringing together conservative Christian PAC’s under one umbrella, with the goal of promoting candidates who campaigned on the “right side” of issues they perceived were central to maintaining their Christian conception of society at large.

The Moral Majority’s primary goals were basic, yet wide ranged in nature:

  • Censorship of media outlets that promoted an “anti-family” agenda
  • Enforcement of a traditional vision of family life
  • Opposition to state recognition and acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual acts.
  • Outlawing abortion.

In effect, Falwell injected religion into American politics to a greater degree than it had ever been done.

By the end of Reagan’s tenure, Falwell’s group was coming apart at the seams, as was the case for other Christian Right groups. Falwell resigned his position as the head of the Moral Majority in 1987, with the coalition formally disbanding in 1989.

Announcing the disbandment of the Moral Majority in 1989 in Las Vegas, Falwell declared, “Our goal has been achieved…The religious right is solidly in place and…religious conservatives in America are now in for the duration.” (*)

That ends Humbert Humbert’s portion.

Having lost his beloved Annabel Leigh, Humbert is left to mourn his love and seek a new one to fill the empty space in his life.

Lolita

What was the T.E.A. Party?

As one can surmise from the expanded acronym (Taxed Enough Already), the T.E.A. Party was (originally) a grass-roots movement protesting excessive taxation and Federal fiscal irresponsibility.

Some sources credit the simultaneous yet independent actions of two individuals for the birth of the movement:

  • Keli Carender – A Seattle at-home mom, Carender (using the online identity “Liberty Belle”) was using her blog to organize and promote the “Porkulus Protest” a populist rally organized to protest President Obama’s proposed $750 billion stimulus package. About 100 people attended her mid-February event.
  • Rick Santelli – On February 19, 2009 while broadcasting live from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Santelli delivered a spontaneous rant, harshly critical of the Obama administration’s proposal to allow homeowners facing foreclosure to refinance their homes. The video went viral, and Santelli’s idea of organizing a “Tea Party” where “capitalists” would dump derivative securities into Lake Michigan in July that year resonated a chord with people of all walks of life and all political affiliations across the nation.

Both Carender’s “Porkulus Project” and Santelli’s “Tea Party” inspired similar events across the nation. Rallies protesting the idea of out-of-control tax and spend government were quickly organized in places like Denver, Mesa (AZ), and Tampa (FL). The first coordinated national T.E.A. Party event took place on February 27 that same year, with rallies of various sizes occurring in 40 US cities.

The impetus created by the “Porkulus Protest”, the Chicago “Tea Party” and the myriad of organized rallies across the nation culminated in the Tax Day event of 2009.

Depending on who you ask, there were somewhere between 200 and 750 rallies that took place across the country on that day, with between 250,000 and 500,000 people in attendance. Several thousands gathered in Atlanta (GA), and the protest outside the White House was broken up by police when a protester threw a box of tea over the fence.Throughout that summer, people claiming to be members of the T.E.A. Party disrupted hometown meetings held by members of Congress with demands of fiscal accountability, charging elected politicians with malfeasance and even treason.

So there’s the Lolita part of this analogy.

A young, boy-kneed political movement, alone and unattended (Lolita was an orphan) needs direction and leadership, and politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum.

Solipsism

Falwell’s exit from the political stage and the dissolution of his Moral Majority left a membership in disarray, and the troops figuratively wandering the political desert.

The vacuum created by Falwell’s and the Christian Right’s loss of cohesiveness began to be quickly filled by activism in an emerging medium. Electronic bulletin boards and Usenet groups sprang up and Falwell’s troops assembled once again, this time in in virtual communities. The homeless, orphaned children of Falwell’s former political machine pseudo coalesced into a gelatinous, unmolded voting block of vaguely like-minded individuals that, for lack of a better name, became known as Social Conservatives (SoCons).

Somewhere along the way, and as a direct result of Falwell’s influence in the 80’s, the definition of what constitutes conservatism began to change dramatically. Where conservative icons such as Russell Kirk and Edmund Burke had understood that morality was a a deeply-held personal set of values necessary for a free society’s survival, Social Conservatives worked toward implementing moral values via support of candidates who would outwardly pledge to enact legislation that would secure in place those things that (reminiscent of Falwell’s Moral Majority) they perceived as being central to maintaining their Christian conception of society at large.

Thomas Jefferson’s warning on the dangers of mixing religion and public service were forgotten:

“… (O)ur civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it.” – The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786)

As were Madison’s warnings ignored.

Nothwithstanding the general progress made within the two last centuries in favour of this branch of liberty, & the full establishment of it, in some parts of our Country, there remains in others a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Gov’ & Religion neither can be duly supported: Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both the parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded agst.. And in a Gov’ of opinion, like ours, the only effectual guard must be found in the soundness and stability of the general opinion on the subject. Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Gov will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together; [James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt]

Eventually, conservatism was defined as ONLY that ideology which supported social policies reminiscent of Falwell’s Moral Majority, and any other right-wing set of values which did not adhere to a Christian Right ideological base was not considered to be “true” conservatism.

Fiscal conservatives with liberal social values became libertarians, and moderate right wingers became liberals in the eyes of the SoCons. Conservatism had been successfully co-opted.

When the T.E.A. Party emerged as a cohesive national coalition, SoCons claimed title to the movement, and a grass roots uprising against taxation and Federal fiscal irresponsibility which included Democrats and persons of various (or no) religious affiliations, was literally hijacked.

SoCons have recreated the movement into their own image of what should constitute a grass roots movement, and what is today called the Tea Party not only barely resembles that original movement, but sounds exactly like every single other SoCon/Christian Right PAC that’s ever existed.

From the Tea Party (notice that the acronym has been dropped) website’s “About Us” page:

The Tea Party includes those who possess a strong belief in the foundational Judeo-Christian values embedded in our great founding documents. We believe the responsibility of our beloved nation is etched upon the hearts of true American Patriots from every race, religion, national origin, and walk of life sharing a common belief in the values which made and keep our beloved nation great. This belief led to the creation of the modern-day Tea Party.

The only thing that created the modern-day T.E.A. Party was anger at out-of-control government taxation and spending. There was nothing fundationally Judeo-Christian about Keli Carender’s and Rick Santelli’s rallies.

Listed on that “About Page” of TeaParty.org (next to the pictures of Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul) are the organization’s “15 Non-negotiable core beliefs” which include things like #1. Illegal aliens are here illegally, #2. Pro domestic employment is indispensable. #5. Gun ownership is sacred. #12. Political offices must be available to average citizens (What exactly does THAT mean? When haven’t they been?) #14. English as our core value is required and #15. Traditional family values are encouraged.

Great values all to be sure, but values that have nothing to do with the original purpose of those rallies back in 2009.

Balancing the budget, ending bailouts and reducing income taxes are #s 7, 8, and 10 respectively. Quite a demotion. Almost an afterthought.

Here’s something to ponder.

Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are members of the establishment. You don’t get to be a vice -presidential candidate, or a Senator and avoid being part of the establishment, so it’s hard to perceive a group that counts such luminaries among its leadership as being anti-establishment.

Social Conservatives have now successfully solipsized the T.E.A. Party. The movement has lost any semblance of its own identity, existing only as a creation of the minds of SoCons. The boy-kneed, wild child that disrupted Congressmen at town hall meetings and threw boxes of tea over the White House fence, has been replaced by the SoCons image of a nymphet in politics, but it’s not the same. It was never what people like TeaParty.org claim that it was.

Today’s Tea Party is a fabricated image of what SoCons want a grass roots movement to look like, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify grass roots activism with star-studded celebrities like Palin and Cruz as the face of the movement.

Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere in that “About Us” page will you find Keli Carender’s or Rick Santelli’s name.

“Lolita has been safely solipsized.”

And that’s the last wire for Tuesday, May 20th 2014.

What was news before this moment, is now history.

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I am an intolerant man.

Ask anyone who has ever exchanged anything beyond social pleasantries with me, and they’ll confirm it.

I am an intolerant man, and this is my manifesto.

Once, caught up in the “liberal at 20” portion of the well-known (wrongly attributed) quote about the impact of aging on one’s political ideology, I would have agreed with the generally-accepted opinion which painted intolerance as a bad thing. All you have to do is to Google “quotes about intolerance” and you can see what I mean.

“Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” – Mahatma Ghandi

“When you discriminate against anyone, you discriminate against everyone. It’s a display of terrible intolerance.” – Alan Dershowitz

“Intolerance is evidence of impotence.” – Alistair Crowley

Intolerance is violence.

Intolerance is discrimination.

Intolerance is impotence.

One would have to assume then that if intolerance means all of those things, then the opposite of intolerance must mean… well, the exact opposite, and that a world totally devoid of intolerance would be a world where peace, inclusiveness and potency abounded.

Think again

I am here to tell you right now that intolerance is the only hope for our survival as a nation, and most importantly, as a civilization.

The late Austrian-British philosopher Karl Raimund Popper addressed the idea and possible effects of a world governed by boundless tolerance in his 1954 masterpiece “The Open Society and it’s Enemies”.

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. 

Today, we’re so Hell-bent on being politically correct that we force ourselves to suppress the mind’s natural inclination toward intolerance.

You see, people are naturally intolerant so tolerance is an unnatural state to live in, and it causes conflict in a person’s mind. Yet we embrace tolerance in the name of social coexistence at every level of social unit that we are a part of, from family, to neighborhood, to community, to work, to nation and beyond.

We constantly see things that we would not naturally tolerate, but we suppress that intolerance by reminding ourselves (sometime consciously, other times unconsciously) that everyone has a right to their own opinion, and that not everything is our business.

All that hold ups until something like this comes along.

From the Farsi Christian News Network.

A Syrian nun revealed to the Vatican radio that extremist Islamists in Syria crucified Christians for refusing to convert to Islam or pay a ransom.

Nun Raghed was managing the Catholic Patriarchate School in Damascus and is currently living in France. According to her, the armed groups, jihadists and radical Islamic organizations, which occupied the cities or villages, asked the Christians to convert to Islam or die, and sometimes they asked them to pay a ransom.

“As it is impossible to abandon their faith, they became Martyrs in a atrocious and violent way,” the nun stressed.She also noted that two men were crucified in Maloula because they refused to convert to Islam, and the jihadists shouted: “Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like your master (Jesus).”

One more Karl Popper quote to mull over as that story sinks in.

Not only do I hate violence, but I firmly believe that the fight against it is not hopeless. I realize that the task is difficult. I realize that, only too often in the course of history, it has happened that what appeared at first to be a great success in the fight against violence was followed by a defeat. I do not overlook the fact that the new age of violence which was opened by the two World wars is by no means at an end. Nazism and Fascism are thoroughly beaten, but I must admit that their defeat does not mean that barbarism and brutality have been defeated.

Barbarism and brutality are on the march in our world, and tolerance is their ally.

That is certainly the fact in Europe, and even as Europe tries to turn back the tide of Islam, the U.S. encourages more tolerance from the European government:

From McClatchy DC

 — From pork rinds sprinkled on Muslim graves in France to a Christian pastor’s death sentence for apostasy in Iran, religious minorities were targeted across the globe in 2011, according to a U.S. government report Monday on the state of religious freedom.

The State Department’s annual compilation highlighted a few narrow openings in unlikely places – transitional Libya and closed-off Myanmar, for example – but it also criticized some traditional U.S. allies for backsliding when it came to protecting the freedom to worship.

Europe in particular was chided for failing to keep pace with its growing ethnic and religious diversity, with the report saying that the demographic change is sometimes accompanied by “growing xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and intolerance toward people considered ‘the other.’”

Belgium and France passed laws restricting dress that “adversely affected Muslims,” while Hungary introduced changes making it so difficult to register religious organizations that the number of recognized religious groups plummeted from more than 300 to fewer than 32.

“Members of faith communities that have long been under pressure report that the pressure is rising,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Washington. “Even some countries that are making progress on expanding political freedom are frozen in place when it comes to religious freedom. So when it comes to this human right, this key feature of stable, secure, peaceful societies, the world is sliding backwards.”

There is no room in the United States for Islam, and while many people will point to the tolerant attitude toward religious freedom embedded in our Constitution, I will argue that permitting Islam to thrive on our soil will mean the end of all religious freedom, as Islam is as much a declaration of war on all religions outside of itself as much as it is a religion. The freedom of religion enshrined in our Bill of Rights will be the weapon used by Islamists to establish Islam in the United States, and with it the end of all religious freedom.

Muslims in the United States will abide by Islam no matter what just as they do now in Islamic nations where Islamofascism rains horrors down. Muslims in those nations whether out of fear or lack of interest, rarely (if ever) challenge or condemn the actions of fanatics, lunatics and jihadists, and they will do the same here.

Muslims will advance every aspect of their religion in as many places as possible on our soil. Specially in our universities, where the “liberal at 20” group is so busy trying to show the world the wonders of coexistence and tolerance by engaging in intolerance.

From The Blaze:

The administration at the University of California, Los Angeles is taking no sides regarding recent moves by its campus branch of Students for Justice in Palestine to try to exclude students who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish-affiliated groups from voting in the undergraduate student government.

Jewish organizations this week decried the effort to thwart travel to Israel on trips organized by pro-Israel groups – while giving a pass to pro-Palestinian, mosque- or church-sponsored travel – as “McCarthyism” and “repugnant.”

UCLA is taking a “neutral” stance on the issue?

This cannot be tolerated, not here.

There is no “neutral” stance on this issue. Neutrality is submisison.

Muslims in America support terrorism via their passive-aggressive stance on what Islam is doing in our world. They try and argue that the people doing the bombings and the beheading and the crucifixions are not true representatives of Islam, but the problem is then that the “true” representatives are NOT stopping them. For whatever reason, they tolerate them.

They will tolerate them here as well.

Peace and clarity of mind come when one stops suppressing the mind’s natural instincts to be intolerant in the face of dangerous intolerance.

We need to all be intolerant men and women and stand ready to defend our tolerant society from the onslaught of Islamic intolerance, and their tolerance-pushing enablers.

We must clear our minds from the artificially-imposed clouds of politically correct tolerance obstructing our thinking.

When we do, there will be nothing but eternal sunshine and a clear path on how to sustain our tolerant society.

I am an intolerant man, and this is my manifesto.

And that’s the last wire for Sunday, May 18th 2014.

What was news before this moment, is now history.

Good night.

 

Speaking to 1.200 graduating High School seniors in Topeka Kansas on the 60th anniversary of the groundbreaking Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, Michelle Obama spoke of the growing segregation in post-MLK America.

TOPEKA, Kan. — Sixty years after the Supreme Court outlawed “separate but equal” schools for blacks and whites, civil rights advocates say American schools are becoming increasingly segregated, while the first lady, Michelle Obama, lamented that “many young people are going to schools with kids who look just like them.”

“Today, by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech,” Mrs. Obama told 1,200 graduating high school seniors Friday here in the city that gave rise to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

In a speech that was part commencement address, part policy pronouncement and part journey into her own past, Mrs. Obama said that Brown’s advances were being reversed. “Many districts in this country have actually pulled back on efforts to integrate their schools, and many communities have become less diverse,” she said, leading to schools that are less diverse.

“And too often,” Mrs. Obama said, “those schools aren’t equal, especially ones attended by students of color which too often lag behind.”

~~~

“I think about my mother, who, as a little girl, went to segregated schools in Chicago and felt the sting of discrimination,” she said. “I think about my husband’s grandparents, white folks born and raised right here in Kansas — products themselves of segregation,” who helped raise a biracial grandson.

“And then,” Mrs. Obama said, “I think about how that child grew up to be the president of the United States, and how today, that little girl from Chicago is helping to raise her granddaughters in the White House.”

You can read the entire article here, and if you do, you may notice the absence of a few words very pertinent to a dialogue centered around the growing segregation in a post-MLK America.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mrs. Obama, but we may not see eye-to-eye on the reason for this growing segregation.

Michelle Obama and others of her mindset wish to paint a picture of an America slowly skulking back to segregation, but that is not the case at all, and all one has to do to understand that is to look around. Once you do that, you may realize what those missing words in the article are.

The first missing word is “disintegration”.

The black America that walked with Dr. King, that fought at his side, and that bled with him looked NOTHING like the black America of today. The black family in America is in a rapid state of disintegration

Thomas Sowell sums up the issue as only he can:

“The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

That  black family is disintegrating.

The next word that’s missing from that article is “disassimilation”.

The black America that walked with Dr. King looked like this:

110 CivilRightcoalition1981 14' wide

The beneficiaries of their struggle and their sacrifice look nothing of the sort.

gangstas

Black America is engaged in mass disassimilation away from the mainstream American culture.

Bill Cosby says it best:

They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: Why you ain’t, Where you is, What he drive, Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be… And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk.

Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.

People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what? And they won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol? And where is the father? Or who is his father?

People putting their clothes on backward: Isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong? People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something? Or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?

What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don’t know a thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different ‘husbands’ — or men or whatever you call them now. We have millionaire football players who cannot read. We have million-dollar basketball players who can’t write two paragraphs. We as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.

We cannot blame the white people any longer.”

The last word that’s missing in that New York Times article is “choice”.

Having been handed the right to make free choices, black America has chosen to walk away from American culture.

They are disintegrating by choice, they are disassimilating by choice, and they are segregating themselves by choice.

I want no part of a culture that promotes violence, disrespect for women and lawlessness. Listen to some rap if you can… it’s all there.

That behavior is not conducive to integration and assimilation into a culture. It’s not even a culture.

That’s an assault on a culture.

Those that chose to NOT disassimilate themselves from the mainstream culture have the same fighting chance everyone else in America has at that American dream, and I welcome them with open arms.

I disagree with Mr.Cosby on one thing however.

They can certainly blame white people.

Or at least Lyndon B. Johnson and every other Democrat that’s held office since him, as well as every white person who has voted to put them in office.

It was LBJ who declared the “War on Poverty” that gave birth to our current entitlement system.

It was LBJ who gloated over the expected effects of his idea as he chatted with two State Governors high above the US on Air Force One:

“I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

And that’s the last wire for Saturday, May 17th 2014.

What was news before this moment, is now history.

Good night.