A report from Syria 83

Our British associate, Chauncey Tinker, proprietor of The Participator, has drawn our attention to this video.

OAN is a conservative news channel.

The reporter, Pearson Sharp, makes a strong case that the gas attack on Douma was staged for propaganda purposes. We had believed and said that there was a gas attack, so we post the video as self-correction. (Of course, we still cannot be sure whether or not there was a gas attack, and if there was, who launched it. Sharp’s interpreter may have deceived him, for instance; or the witnesses could have been lying.)

In any case, we are glad that the sites in Syria connected with the production of chemical and biological weapons have been bombed to rubble.

Since the Russians have acquired a firm foothold in Syria, and Iran too has a dangerous presence there, was the bombing politically and strategically justified?

Bruce Thornton writes, in part, at Front Page:

Given that our economy is inseparable from the global economy, we have no choice but to be concerned about the critical straits and canals through which global commerce travels, and the airports throughout the world through which people can reach our shores in less than a day. We also can’t ignore the numerous illiberal and autocratic regimes whose beliefs and values conflict with those of the West. The global market … needs a global sheriff so that this astonishing increase in technological innovation and wealth and their global distribution is free to continue. We may not have chosen this role, we may not like or want the job, but history so far has left the U.S. as the only great power with the military capacity for keeping order, and the political beliefs and principles that ensure we will not abuse that power to oppress others.

Yet that truth does not justify the one-world idealism that believes everybody on the planet wants to live like Westerners, or to embrace Western principles and goods like political freedom, tolerance of minorities, free speech, sex equality, secularist government, an open society, and the preference for discussion, negotiation, and treaties as the way to solve conflict rather than brute force. The great diversity of ways of life and beliefs means that transnational institutions, agreements, covenants, and U.N. Security Council resolutions will always in the end be instruments of diverse and conflicting national interests. They are honored as long as they serve those interests, but abused or subverted when they don’t, especially by the more powerful nations. …

The West’s military dominance in the 20th century ensured that other nations would bandwagon with the West and sign such international agreements, with the tacit proviso that they would violate them whenever necessary, even as they paid them lip-service. The history of the last century, which is littered with violated treaties and covenants, proves this obvious truth. …

Indeed, Syria offers a perfect example … of a superficial adherence to international covenants that facilitates violations of them. After Barack Obama issued his empty “red line” threat about Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated an empty “solution” to the problem by making Russia the authority overseeing the elimination of Assad’s stockpiles, even though it was and still is not in Russia’s geostrategic interests to disarm Assad. So we got a theatrical compliance that left Assad his weapons, and even worse, gave Russia a sanctioned entrée into the Syrian civil war. The pretense of adhering to international law gave cover to Russia’s strategic aims in the region, one of which was the continuation of Assad’s murderous regime. …

What could justify the raids against Syria? Deterrence is frequently invoked, but it obviously didn’t work last year after the President destroyed some of Assad’s jets. Over the past year, Assad has continued to use chemical weapons on civilians. Indeed, within hours of our latest attack Assad was using high explosives and barrel-bombs to slaughter people who are just as dead or mangled as the victims of his chemical attack. Further consequences may follow. Russia and Iran for now may be blustering to save face, but there still may be some retaliation that we will then have to answer. For once a nation goes down the road of deterring a bad actor by force, it has to continue indefinitely in order to maintain its prestige. It can’t announce publicly that it is a “one-off”.

Americans traditionally do not like constant war or military interventions, particularly “humanitarian” ones. We prefer to intervene when necessary, kill the bad guys, then come back home … Unfortunately, in today’s interconnected world, such conflicts are not as rare as we’d like. But we must make it clear that we will not intervene when necessary just to rush home as though the work is done, nor will we engage in conflicts and occupation of the defeated enemy in order to create liberal democracy.

Rather, we need a foreign policy similar to the “butcher and bolt” policy of the British Empire, or what Israel calls “mowing the grass”. This means when an adversary or enemy challenges our power and interests, or those of our close allies, we should use force to send a message, usually by destroying some of its military assets. We should not rationalize this action by appealing to international law, the U.N., or some fantastical common vales or principles of the mythic “international community.” We should make it clear that there is no time-certain for when we stop, rather that we will return whenever we judge it necessary. And we should do it on the principle that a sovereign nation has a right to defend itself as it sees fit, and owes accountability only to its citizens.

In the near future, bombing Syria will likely still be necessary, not just to deter Assad or change the regime into a liberal democracy, but to let all the players in the region know that the greatest military power in history is watching events in a region we deem vital to our interests, and that we will use force to remind them of our unprecedented ability to project devastating power across the globe. Such a policy will strengthen our prestige, and concentrate wonderfully the minds of our adversaries.

The only remaining question is, Will we the people of the United States be willing to pay the costs and accept the risks of such a policy?

Posted under Iran, Russia, Syria, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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The march of the Left goes on … 8

… through the institutions and beyond.

Who was behind the “March For Our Lives”, into which schoolkids were launched by the tens of thousands? And even more women, according to Dana R. Fisher at the Washington Post:

Like other resistance protests, and like previous gun-control marches, the March For Our Lives was mostly women. Whereas the 2017 Women’s March was 85 percent women, the March for Our Lives was 70 percent women. … Contrary to what’s been reported in many media accounts, the D.C. March for Our Lives crowd was not primarily made up of teenagers. Only about 10 percent of the participants were under 18. The average age of the adults in the crowd was just under 49 years old, which is older than participants at the other marches I’ve surveyed but similar to the age of the average participant at the Million Moms March in 2000, which was also about gun control.

The occasion for the march was the shooting on February 14, 2018, of 14 students and three adults at a Florida high school by a 19-year-old mass murderer.

The pretext for it was to protest against the ownership of guns by citizens of the United States on the grounds that if the gun-ownership were to be made illegal such mass murders would not happen.

The real aim of it was to advance the cause of the Left – unarmed populations dependent solely on government for protection.

Who organized the march and who paid for it?

Breitbart reports:

The March for Our Lives Action Fund, for example, was registered with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs on Feb. 21, 2018 as a Deleware-based organization with a business address in Encino, California.

The agent for the fund is listed as CT Corporation System, a D.C.-based firm that handles compliance issues. Jeri Rhodes is listed as the executing officer for the filing.

Rhodes is the Associate Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is a Quaker lobbying group with the goal to “advance peace and justice.”

The Quakers, famous for being pacifists, have for some time now been aiders and abettors of tyranny and terrorism. For instance, they run collective farms in North Korea, and strongly support the BDS movement and Hamas.  

Rhodes’s LinkedIn profile states that she once worked for Greenpeace.

For the evil Greenpeace does, see our post here.

Major players and organizations — including Everytown, Giffords, Move On, and Women’s March LA — told BuzzFeed News they are helping with logistics, strategy, and planning for next month’s March for Our Lives rally and beyond. Much of the specific resources the groups are providing to the Parkland students remains unclear — as is the full list of supporting organizations — but there are broad outlines.

Giffords,  an organization started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) that fights gun violence, is working with Everytown and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to plan the main march on Washington — as well as sister rallies across the country. A spokesperson for Giffords told BuzzFeed News that it is “lending support in any way the students need, especially helping to operationalize these marches from logistics to programming”. …

Planned Parenthood and the George Soros-funded Move On are also in the mix of left-wing groups behind the march.

BuzzFeed News reported, “MoveOn said it will encourage its millions of members to follow and promote the March for Our Lives movement on social media and attend the rally” and would help with security and other logistics.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood said it is “teaching and hosting trainings” for teens “to keep momentum going so they don’t get burned out,” BuzzFeed News reported.

The NPS [National Park Service] permit reveals “persons in charge” of the D.C. event, including Deena Katz, the co-executive producer of Dancing with the Stars who helped organized the Los Angeles Women’s March. …

March for Our Lives also started a GoFundMe page that has raised $3.3 million. The text on the page states:

The funds will be spent on the incredibly difficult and expensive process that is organizing a march like this. We have people making more specific plans, but for now, know that this is for the march and everything left over will be going to the victims’ funds.

… The NPS permit reveals more about the event, including the “event overview”, which states:

Approximately (500,000) student participants and adults from across the country, will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut shot in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns. March for Our Lives believes the time is now.

The permit also says that the organizers have to spend millions on insurance for the event.

Procure public and employee liability insurance from responsible companies with a minimum limitation of $2,000,000 per person for any one claim and an aggregate limit of $5,000,000 for any number of claims arising from any one incident. The United States of America shall be named as an additional insured on all such policies. The permit number will be included on said policy. …

Nonetheless, the Florida students who are credited with organizing the march insist it is teens, not adults, who are in charge, while admitting adults are involved.

Cameron Kasky, 17, acknowledged that the anti-Trump group Indivisible is helping and said that their assistance is necessary because of the role race allegedly plays in school shootings.

Kasky said in an interview on Friday with National Public Radio:

You know our story was told because we are an affluent white community and we have to shine the spotlight that was given on us on everybody in the world that has to deal with this on a daily basis. So people like Indivisible, who represent students who are in lower-income communities and don’t get to speak out the way we do because people don’t listen — we have to connect with these students.

The March for Our Lives Twitter account also features a video with students stating the anti-gun talking points used by left-wing groups regularly, including blaming the National Rifle Association [NRA] for school shootings.

The March for Our Lives website states that 840 marches are planned in the U.S. and around the world.

Not planned by schoolkids, we may be sure.

Bruce Thornton writes at Front Page:

Last Saturday hundreds of thousands of high schoolers gathered across the country in a “March for Our Lives” rally. Organized and financed by anti-gun nuts and other left-wing outfits, and ornamented with Hollywood celebrities like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey, the spectacle was filled with the emotional exhibitionism and juvenile policy recommendations one would expect from the most pampered and worst-educated cohort of young people in American history – the perfect shock troops for progressive propaganda. …

The author carries on a bit about the kids having no “faith”, meaning that he thinks being Christian would keep them from this sort of thing. He might note that the Quakers, who are intensely Christian, supported the march. And as to faith – the organizers and paymasters, and all too many of the indoctrinated students themselves, have faith in “progressivism” (aka communism). We do not agree with him about that, but what we like of what he says, we quote:

We have been witnessing for some time [a] combination of adolescent immaturity and therapeutic leftism in the college “snowflake” and “safe-space” phenomenon, and in the intolerance of dissent and willingness to use tantrums to shut up anybody challenging the self-importance of pampered, privileged college students. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that now high school students are being recruited by the left to “march” against the wicked NRA, which stands in the way of the longtime leftist goal of gutting the Second Amendment.The progressive goal of centralized and concentrated power, and the transfer of all authority and autonomy from the citizens and states to the federal Leviathan, is challenged by the right of citizens to own a means of self-protection that guards against the monopoly of force, historically the foundation of tyrannical power. And what better occasion for chipping away at the citizens’ right to keep and bear arms than the telegenic sentimentalism of a school shooting? And what better cat’s paw for achieving change than innocent high school kids and their trauma – carefully selected, of course, to bring the right message? The drama and pathos of victims, particularly when they’re young, is a great vehicle for peddling incoherent and useless policies – and for camouflaging the truth that those recommendations are basically misdirection from the progressives’ political goals.

Take David Hogg, who was present during the attack last month on the high school in Parkland. The seventeen-year-old appears with four other Stoneman Douglas students on the cover of Time, and has become a darling of the anti-gun crowd for his profanity-laced tantrums that demonstrate perfectly the portrait sketched above: “The pathetic f***ers that want to keep killing our children, they could have blood from children splattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action because they all still see those dollar signs,” he said of the NRA and other lawmakers defending the Second Amendment.

Notice how this callow youth simply regurgitates the stale clichés of the gun-control fundamentalists. He obviously has no clue that the NRA has political clout not because of the pittance it gives politicians compared to, say, public-employee unions, but because millions of Americans support its mission to defend a Constitutional right they hold dear. … He has no clue that the demonized, perfectly legal AR-15 was already banned from 1994-2004, without lowering gun-deaths even as the number of guns increased. Like his equally addled elders, he can’t fathom that more regulations of guns do nothing to keep them out of the hands of thugs and psychopaths, but do complicate and limit the rights of law-abiding citizens.

No thought, no empirical evidence, no respect for facts, no reasoned arguments, just the potty-mouth, hysterical emotion, bathetic drama, and attention-getting antics of an immature child who thinks his feelings are the world’s highest priority. …

But we can’t blame the young. The progressive transformation of our culture has been directed at creating just such students, whose natural inclinations to self-drama and emotion rather than thinking make them perfect constituents for an ideology that flourishes among those who obsess over their feelings  

And whatever is said of the youths applies equally to the women.

But there are youths of another sort.

Of course, there are millions of young people who somehow have managed to avoid this progressive siren song. … But they are demonized and scorned by the progressive pundits and politicians who distrust anyone who challenges their narrative. This silent cohort of the young is the true resistance against an ideology that prefers them to be robotic shock troops.

Here is a student, Kyle Kashuv, from the  school that was attacked, who feels the horror of the mass shooting and the sadness of the loss of lives as much as any other, but has thought about the event intelligently, and puts forward common-sense and practical ideas that could really work to  keep schools safe from such an attack. He points out that government – in particular the “cowards of Broward” meaning the progressive Sheriff and his cowardly underlings – failed in its duty, yet the protesters want to put more power in government hands. Because his ideas, including a refusal to blame gun-ownership, do not fit with the ideological aims of the organizers, they would not allow him to speak to the marchers from the platform.

He speaks here:

 

Red October 1

It is a hundred years today since the October Revolution (October 24-25, 1917) plunged Russia into Communism.

Bruce Thornton writes at Front Page:

To mark the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution The New York Times has been running a series called Red Century. In the spirit of its Pulitzer-Prize winning Moscow correspondent and fellow-traveler in the thirties, Walter Duranty, the articles in the main are an exercise in rehabilitation rather than historical evaluation. Given communism’s historically unprecedented and copiously documented record of slaughter, torture, mass imprisonment, brutal occupation, and utter failure to achieve its workers’ paradise of justice and equality, the question why the Times would attempt to mitigate the evil of a totalitarian ideology that led to 100 million dead cries out for an answer.

Communism … was taken not as a political philosophy, but as a scientific discovery that only the irrational, the evil, or those blinded by bourgeois “false consciousness” would reject. … Communism was about progress, optimism for the future, and the liberation of humans from social and political bondage by improving the economic and social conditions of human life. It had “an inherent optimism for the future”, as one Times article gushed. This notion that humans can be shaped and improved by rational technique still remains a dominant sensibility in the West, which explains the continuing hold of leftist ideology. From Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan “Forward”, a traditional leftist motto, to the fads of “behavioral science” like “implicit bias,” our world is still enthralled to this superstition that “human sciences” can improve life …

Of course, this optimism is predicated on a category error. Humans, each a unique individual endowed with a mind and free will, lie beyond the “complexity horizon”,  and so cannot be reduced to mere matter determined by the laws of physics or economic development, as Marx believed. Communism fails because it must diminish this human complexity so that people can be shoe-horned into the theory. It is reductive and simplistic, and necessarily dehumanizing. And dehumanization has ever been the precursor to mass murder and totalitarian tyranny. In the case of communism, its followers’ fanatical certainty that their beliefs were the fruit of objective “science” and the vehicle of universal human improvement, made it easier to ignore their own destructive passions and flaws, particularly their lust for power and domination; and to remove “by any means necessary” the stiff-necked opponents of humanity’s glorious future––the “eggs” that must be broken to make the communist “omelet,” as Walter Duranty reported in the Times in 1933.

But as the history of communism has shown, its road to utopia runs over mountains of corpses.

So far, fairly good. But the writer goes on to mourn the passing of the old-time religion. He calls the increasing secularism of the Christianized countries “radical”. Radical secularism? Can there be a “moderate secularism”?

The second cultural transformation that has kept a failed and murderous ideology alive is the radical secularism of the last two centuries. The decline in faith created a vacuum of disbelief intolerable to human beings.

We are largely human, and do not find disbelief intolerable.

To us disbelief is freedom, and essential. To us, belief is a prison; doubt is freedom.

However, coming back to ideas on which we can agree with the writer, he goes on to point out the similarities between Communism and Christianity. As we ourselves have written about Communism being secular Christianity, we stay with him for a while.

Substitutes had to be found to explain existence and human nature, provide a meaningful narrative that identifies the good and the evil, and describe the destiny awaiting those who accepted the new revelation. Political religions, whether fascism, “blood and soil” nationalism, or communism, filled the spiritual emptiness of a secularizing age. But communism was more attractive and powerful than fascism, for it was the bedfellow of scientism, the other pseudo-religion of modernity that promised salvation, only in this world rather than the mythic “heaven” of oppressive and irrational religious belief.

It is true that sociology and Marxism are “pseudo sciences”. He uses the term “scientism” for the belief that they are sciences. And Marxism did indeed offer “salvation” – heaven on earth. His “inevitable” revolution – which for all its inevitability would need to be fought for – was the equivalent of the Christian apocalypse; an earthly eschaton, immanent in this world for this world, after which everything would be changed and the earthly heaven would dawn and last forever and ever.

Here is a nice cartoon that jokes about the idea:

 

The similarities between communism and Christianity are numerous …: “consciousness” is the soul, which when enlightened brings salvation; “capitalists” are sinners, “comrades” are the faithful, the “counter-revolutionary” is the devil, the “proletariat” is the chosen people; the “new man” is the born-again Christian, the “classless society” is paradise, and the “proletariat revolution” is the Last Judgement. The God who was once the power behind the providential order of salvation history, is replaced by the new god “History”, which inexorably unfolds according to the Marxist libretto, until history ends in the “worker’s paradise”. Finally, communism promoted the elitist superiority … that comes from possessing the real meaning of events and behavior, a gnosis lacking in the dullard bourgeois and irrational people of faith.

The religious power of communism is apparent from the memoirs of ex-communists who wrote about their experience in the classic The God That Failed. French novelist André Gide said of becoming a communist, “My conversion is like a faith”, and the Soviet Union seems “to point to salvation”. Arthur Koestler, whose novel Darkness at Noon, published in 1940, told the truth about the Show Trials that fellow-travelers denied were even happening, explicitly linked secularization to communism. He wrote that he “converted” because he “lived in a disintegrating society thirsting for faith”.  Like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, Koestler writes, “The new light seems to pour from all directions across the skull, the whole universe falls into pattern,” now there is “an answer to every question”,  and “nothing henceforth can disturb the convert’s inner peace and serenity.”

The intensity of this conversion in part explains the legions of Westerners who refused to credit the concrete evidence of communist tyranny that began under Lenin. In 1908, Lenin threatened “real, nation-wide terror which reinvigorates the country”,  and fulfilled that threat a few years after the revolution in the “merciless war”,  as he put it, against the Kulaks, the more prosperous peasants. When someone protested, Lenin answered, “Do you think we can be victors without the most severe revolutionary terror?” The horrors of Stalin were just expansions of Lenin’s brutal practices already well documented before Stalin came into power. As French historian François Furet has written, “Those who wanted to know, could have known. The problem was that few people really wanted to.” Only a cult-like blind faith can explain such a resistance to facts, one obvious in the comment of Europe’s most famous Marxist, Georg Lukács, who said, “Even if every empirical prediction of Marxism were invalidated, I would still hold Marxism to be true.”

Sounds very like a belief in Christianity or any other religion. Yet Bruce Thornton, who sees the similarity so clearly, wishes religious faith back upon those who have emerged from it.

The horrors of the Communist faith and its capacity to survive despite its proving to be, after all, a recipe for earthly hell, he describes vividly. Did not Christianity create its hells on earth too? Did not believing Christians go on believing despite its centuries of totalitarian terror?

The patent failure of Marx’s theoretical “predictions”, the proven record of mass murder and imprisonment, the pollution of social and family life by an infrastructure of surveillance and lies, the 1939 pact with Hitler that laid bare the true aims of an amoral gangster regime – none has been able to shake the faith of Western communists and fellow-travelers, who today still practice such willful blindness, whether it’s Bernie Sanders honeymooning in the old Soviet Union, Sean Penn shilling for a brutal thug in Venezuela, or Barack Obama cavorting with the Castro brothers in Cuba.

Today this affection does not seem to have the religious intensity of the early communist converts. But the persistence of communist apologetics has turned such unseemly admiration for the greatest killer in history into a mark of status and fashion for the caviar communist, the parlor pink, and the radical chic. These “useful idiots” 2.0 exist because admiration for communism has burrowed deep into high culture, popular culture, and the universities. So it is no surprise that large numbers of millennials prefer socialism – communism’s half-way house – to capitalism, and one-third think George W. Bush killed more people than Stalin did. Obviously, the thrill of being “subversive”, sheer historical ignorance, and moral flabbiness also account for this mysterious attraction to an ideology of murder and tyranny on the part of those who fancy themselves sophisticated intellectuals.

One hundred years after communism burst onto the world stage, it has survived the collapse of its most lethal state sponsor, the Soviet Union, and in modified form lives on in totalitarian regimes like China, and in political parties across Europe. The series in the Times reminds us that the discredited theories and allure of freedom’s greatest enemy must still be attacked and ridiculed.

Indeed yes, Christianity and Communism are similar religions. With their “proven record of mass murder and imprisonment, the pollution of social and family life by an infrastructure of surveillance and lies” – and their horrific tortures – the only significant difference between them is that Christianity offers you happiness in an imaginary There, Communism in an imaginary Here.

Both demand that you make sacrifices for future imaginary gains.

But neither will deliver the promised “salvation”- ever.

Fools! Your reward is neither here nor there!‘ wrote Omar Khayyam, an atheist Persian poet.  

Better far: America, capitalism, rule of law, freedom.

Urgent: defeat and destroy the SJW 10

The Social Justice Warriors – now apparently so established as to be commonly alluded to as the SJW – are an enemy army. The enemy of justice. They are a worse threat to our civilization than Islam (with which they are tacitly allied).

The feminists are the worst of the army’s regiments.

The SJW – aka the Left, or “progressives” – must be constantly engaged in battle until totally defeated.

Some rational thinkers have been fighting them for years. May they be heard above the weeping and gnashing of teeth of the self-pitying enemy!

The academies are major battlefields. There the young, quiveringly sensitive warriors are falling spitefully on their “progressive” elders who launched the war in their own student days.

In a splendidly stinging article atFront Page, Bruce Thornton fights the good fight. He does not name the SJW, but his attack hits the warriors – especially the feminists – hard. Here is most of it:

Recently several progressive professors have publicly complained that their students are hounding them for failing to consider their tender sensibilities by straying beyond the p.c. orthodoxy on sexual assault, sex identity, linguistic correctness, and a whole host of other progressive shibboleths. Northwestern “feminist” professor Laura Kipnis found herself in a Title IX star chamber for an article she wrote decrying the immaturity of her legally adult students. … Another progressive confessed (anonymously, reminding us that academics are an invertebrate species) he was so “scared” and “terrified” of his “liberal” students that he self-censors his comments in class and has changed his reading list.

These incidents follow the complaints of other progressives like Kirsten Powers and Jonathan Chait that the intolerant ideology at the heart of progressivism is now getting out of hand – something that many of us have been writing about for nearly 3 decades. That these progressives should now be shocked at such intolerance and persecution after decades of speech codes, disruptions of conservative speakers, campus inquisitions which ignore Constitutional rights, cancellations of commencement speakers, and ideological litmus tests imposed on new hires and curricula, bespeaks not principle, but rather indignation that now they are on the receiving end of the bullying and harassment long inflicted on conservatives …

Indeed, the campus intolerance progressives are now whining about is the child of the progressive ideology many of the complainers still embrace. Modern progressivism is at heart grievance politics, the core of which is not universal principle, but identity predicated on being a victim of historical crimes like sexism and racism, and on suffering from wounding slights defined as such by the subjective criteria of the now privileged victim who is beyond judgment or criticism. Once acknowledged by the state, victim status can then be leveraged into greater political, institutional, and social power. The mechanism of this leverage is the state and federal laws that empower students whose feelings have been hurt by their teachers’ challenging or provocative questions and ideas.

Sexual harassment law, for example, with its “intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment” language, guarantees that subjective, irrational, or even lunatic standards of what constitutes an “offense” will be used to justify limits on academic freedom and expression, and to punish transgressors. The overbroad and elastic language of Title IX, the law used to haul Kipnis before a campus tribunal, likewise has invited subjective and fuzzy charges from anybody who feels that “on the basis of sex” she has been “excluded from participation in” or “denied the benefits of” or “subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”.  Finally, the Department of Education’s 2011 “dear colleague” letter, which instructed schools investigating sexual assault complaints to use the “more likely than not” or “preponderance of the evidence” standard of evidence rather than the “clear and convincing” one, ensures that any complaint no matter how preposterous or irrational will have to be investigated, and the “guilty” punished.

Yet the obsession with the victim and his suffering, and the need for everybody else to cater to his sensitivity, reflects wider cultural trends. … In this therapeutic vision, the cultural ideal now is Sensitive Man, who revels in his superiority to others based on his sensitivity to suffering, and his public displays of what Alan Bloom called “conspicuous compassion” for state-anointed victims.

Consequently, as Charles Sykes writes in A Nation of Victims – which in 1992 detailed the cultural shifts that have led to today’s hyper-sensitive and litigious students: “One must be attuned to the feelings of others and adapt oneself to the kaleidoscopic shades of grievance, injury, and ego that make up the subjective sensibilities of the ‘victim’. Everyone must now accommodate themselves to the sensitivity of the self, whose power is based not on force or even shared ideology but on changeable and perhaps arbitrary and exaggerated ‘feelings’.”

In my 1999 book Plagues of the Mind, I drew out the implications for higher education of this cult of sensitivity, which has made “infants of people, particularly college students, who are led to believe that the world should be a place where they will never feel bad or suffer disappointment, where they will be coddled and indulged and mothered, and where their already overinflated estimation of themselves will be continually reinforced . . . No one seems concerned about what will happen to these adults when they have to enter the real world and discover that it can be a cold, uncaring place where their anxieties and psychic fears are not the prime order of business”.  Sixteen years later Kipnis made a similar point in her article when she observed, “The myths and fantasies about power perpetuated in these new codes [of sexual behavior] are leaving our students disabled when it comes to the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life.”

As Kipnis’s troubles show, today this obsession with the feelings of students and their demands that they be protected from anything unpleasant or “hurtful” has manifested itself in the hysteria over an alleged epidemic of sexual assault of female college students. (Professor Kipnis got into trouble for calling this phenomenon “sexual paranoia”.) Yet this is nothing new either. In the late 90s commentators were warning of the “New Puritanism”, and the “New Victorianism” – the title of Rene Denfeld’s 1995 analysis of this corruption of feminism.

In our view, feminism is a rotten ideology to start with. It can only go from bad to worse.

… The proliferation of “codes” governing courtship and sexual encounters in order to protect fragile women, the ever expanding list of prohibited words that might traumatize the “oppressed”,  the establishment of tribunals judging the accused without the benefit of Constitutional protections, and the noisy protests, shaming, and invective like those aimed at Professor Kipnis, are all in order to enforce orthodoxy through fear and self-censorship a la the poltroonish professor mentioned earlier.

Worst of all, the spread of this intolerance throughout universities makes impossible the very purpose of higher education: to broaden students’ minds by allowing what Matthew Arnold called “the free play of the mind on all subjects” and by familiarizing them with the “best which has been thought and said in the world”.  That ideal has now become scarce on our campuses. As Sykes wrote over 20 years ago, “Once feelings are established as the barometer of acceptable behavior, speech (and, by extension, thought) becomes only as free as the most sensitive group will permit.” This is precisely the state of affairs in American universities today, where the old notions that truth is a liberating force and that suffering teaches, and the great classics that embodied these and other verities of the human condition, have been sacrificed on the altar of victim politics and its aggrandizement of institutional power. So our universities now produce “snowflakes”, as some have called them, students with fragile psyches and empty minds. …

Now the progressives’ children are devouring their creators, the inevitable outcome of revolutionary passions and utopian goals that lack coherent principle and intellectual rigor. That’s why progressives suffering the wages of their ideology deserve no sympathy.

The harm that feminism has done 7

When a whole whimper of western women sex-changed into feminists – starting in the 1960s – they did not give up dependency, they simply switched from being dependent on a husband to being dependent on the state.

It was a bad move. It is generally far easier to negotiate for your wants with a single person whose life and comfort is bound up with your own, than with an indifferent bureaucracy.

Feminism is a Leftist movement – the ideology or faith of the Left being the belief that government, like a god who commands all the resources of the world and can forever pluck more out of the infinite, must and will supply your every need: cradle you, coddle you, teach you, care for you, shelter and protect you, and so give you joy.

The model American “woomin” in this dreary long age of Obama, is a fictitious feminist named Julia. Julia Government is her married name. Her channel of communication with her remote, powerful, immaterial spouse is gov dot com. She signals her needs to him, and he responds with grants and services throughout her life.

She has a child with his indirect assistance. She does not have to stay at home to care for it as women used to do. Government raises and educates it in the Faith. And to keep her occupied and in pocket, Government grants her a little business of her own – not too lucrative, nothing that would make an obscene private-sector type profit!

Generations of children have now grown up nurtured in the cold bosom of the state. Each generation is smaller than the last. “Wimmin” don’t see the point of having them, actually. And Government provides almost free contraception. And Planned Parenthood provides cheap abortions. So let the human species dwindle. It’s bad for the planet anyway.

And besides – life, the feminists say, is not all it’s cracked up to be.

So why don’t you try going back to the old ways, wimmin? Share a marriage bed with a person? Bear more children, raise them, teach them, enjoy making them happy and letting them make you happy?

No, no!, the feminists reply, we would be housebound. We would have to give the best years of our lives to changing diapers, and cooking, and putting clothes in washing machines!

Instead of?

Instead of what we’re doing now.

Which is?

Copulating with anyone we want when we want; accusing men of rape whether they’ve done it or not; having the occasional abortion; running a little business on a grant; or working for our master, the Government. You know – all that.

No downside to all that?

Well, (the wimmin tell us, deeply resenting our hostile questioning), even if being married to the state has its drawbacks, at least (they say, singing in their chains like the sea) – at least we’re free!

*

It profits me but little, after all, that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquility of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Bruce Thornton quotes that wise saying in an article at Front Page, from which we extract these points:

California recently passed a law requiring that sexual encounters between students in universities and colleges can proceed only on the basis of “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement”. Failure to resist or to ask the partner to stop the encounter can no longer be taken as consent. Institutions that wish to receive state funds or financial aid must adhere to this standard when investigating charges of “sexual assault”, a phrase redefined to include behaviors once considered boorish or insensitive, but not legally actionable. The California law follows on the 2011 Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’s “dear colleague” letter that instructed schools investigating sexual assault complaints to use the “more likely than not” or “preponderance of the evidence” standard of evidence rather than the “clear and convincing” one.

The dangers to individual privacy and accountability that follow such regulatory intrusions into sexual intimacy between legal adults have been well documented, not the least being the violation of the rights of the accused, who now enter a hearing with a presumption of guilt rather than of innocence. Also problematic is the double standard inherent in such rules, particularly when both accuser and accused are drunk or otherwise incapacitated. …

The feminists’ championing of sexual autonomy for women reached a head in the 1960s. Before the modern age, sex was seen as a necessary but dangerous force that, if left uncontrolled, not just impaired the mind, but also destroyed whole civilizations. It was the illicit sexual passion of Paris and Helen that “burnt the topless towers” of Troy, as Christopher Marlow wrote. As such, sex had to be contained and channeled by social practices and cultural institutions. Virtues, taboos, and especially marriage all attempted to direct sexual energy to its most socially important goal, procreation and the family. …

By the late nineteenth century, many social and cultural developments had undermined this traditional sexual realism. Over the following decades, in the work of Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, Alfred Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, Norman O. Brown, Herbert Marcuse, and numerous others, sex was [regarded as] a natural phenomenon that science could understand and hence make more enjoyable and less damaging. The destructive effects of sex, in this view, were not inherent, but the consequence of repressive social institutions …

In the sixties, Cultural Marxism interpreted traditional limits on sexual behavior as the instruments of oppression and conformity, reinforcing the “false consciousness” that perpetuated the ruling class and its power.

Breaking sexual taboos and experiencing sexual pleasure thus became acts of liberation, leading to self-fulfillment and personal freedom.

Feminism embraced this notion of sexual liberation. The autonomy of women depended on their casting off the shackles of patriarchal misogyny most evident in male control of women’s sexuality – “our bodies, ourselves” became the battle cry. Women should have the equal power to choose sexual experiences and pleasure, and the unjust double standards that gave men but not women sexual autonomy should be discarded. The biological differences between men and women, especially nature’s subjection of women’s bodies to the relentless imperatives of procreation, were now discarded as arbitrary, unjust impediments to women’s freedom and autonomy. This process was moved along by the new technologies of reliable birth control and accessible and safe abortion.

In the ensuing decades, however, the malign consequences of sexual liberation became increasingly manifest – the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases, the wider access to demeaning pornography, and the explosion of out-of-wedlock childbirth and the attendant social dysfunctions that follow from children being raised without fathers.

Even for more privileged women, there were psychological costs to be paid for contending with male sexual predators and absolving them of responsibility for their behavior, given that now men and women were equally in control of their sexual choices, and that the traditional mores once enshrining male responsibility, such as chivalry, had been dismissed as patronizing and sexist.

But as the years passed, many women began to discover that there are indeed differences between men and women and their experiences of sex. Liberation did not lead to the sexual utopia of carefree and cost-free pleasure, but to the guilt, regret, and humiliation that follow being used as an object for somebody else’s transient enjoyment.

The response to these ill effects was to create rules and codes designed to eliminate the negative consequences of sexual freedom. But contrary to the assumptions of lawmakers who want to regulate sexual behavior, sex is not a game like tennis that can be pleasurable for the players provided the rules are followed. As Camille Paglia has pointed out, when it comes to sex, the more appropriate metaphor is to the old Roman arena, where there was no law. An act that is so physically and psychologically complicated, and that exposes our most intimate longings and hidden selves, cannot be rationalized and made cost-free, or its unpleasant effects neutralized, by reducing it to a “voluntary agreement” in which the terms and conditions are spelled out and followed as in a contract. …

Faced with the costs of sexual liberation, [feminists chose] to demand that the state use its coercive power to protect women not just from insensitive men, but from the consequences of their own choices. Sexual harassment law is the most widespread expression of this impulse to use the tutelary state to defend women from a “hostile and intimidating” environment. The vulgar joke or boorish innuendo is now not just a violation of social decorum, but a crime subject to law and punishment.

But nothing infantilizes women more than the sexual codes promulgated by numerous universities. Obviously, sexual assault properly defined is a crime that should be investigated and the guilty punished. But getting drunk and then sleeping with an equally intoxicated partner is not a crime. It’s a learning experience about taking responsibility for one’s actions, and practicing the virtues of prudence and self-control. …

At the same time that feminists still call for unlimited sexual freedom, they treat women as Victorian maidens who lack agency and resources of character, and thus must be defended against sexual cads and bounders. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald puts it, this “new order is a bizarre hybrid of liberationist and traditionalist values. It carefully preserves the prerogative of no-strings-attached sex while cabining it with legalistic caveats that allow females to revert at will to a stance of offended virtue.”

This strange demand for absolute freedom without responsibility for one’s choices is not just a symptom of feminism. It reaches into our broader culture. It has become the enabler of the entitlement state, which justifies its growing size and regulatory power over people’s lives by promising to protect them not just from the vicissitudes of life, but from the consequences of their own choices … Thus the feminist demand for government-subsidized birth control and abortion is of a piece with government bailouts for homeowners who over-borrowed on the equity of their homes or lied on their mortgage applications.

The demand for personal freedom without accountability contradicts the foundational philosophy of our republic. The right to liberty is not the right be absolved from the consequences of one’s actions. Taking that responsibility is what makes one worthy of freedom and equal to others who likewise must be accountable for their actions.

The taking down of America 18

President Obama believes that America is arrogant.* If his foreign policy can be explained by anything, it would be his intention to bring America down a peg or ten. Looked at like that, the disasters we see happening in many parts of the world are testimony not to  Obama’s failure, but to his success.

Not that President Obama can have any objection to arrogance as such. He is an arrogant man. He just doesn’t want America to be proud of its superiority. He hates the very idea that it is superior. But while he would not even acknowledge its political-moral superiority as a republic constituted for liberty, he cannot deny that it is economically and militarily stronger than any other country. So he’s been working to change that for the last six years.

The whole world is the worse for his efforts.

This is from Front Page, by Bruce Thornton:

The 6 years of Barack Obama’s foreign policy have seen American influence and power decline across the globe. Traditional rivals like China and Russia are emboldened and on the march in the South China Sea and Ukraine. Iran, branded as the world’s deadliest state sponsor of terrorism, is arrogantly negotiating its way to a nuclear bomb. Bloody autocrats and jihadist gangs in the Middle East scorn our president’s threats and behead our citizens. Countries in which Americans have shed their blood in service to our interests and ideals are in the process of being abandoned to our enemies. And allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia are bullied or ignored. All over the world, a vacuum of power has been created by a foreign policy sacrificed to domestic partisan advantage, and characterized by criminal incompetence.

Incompetence is what it looks like. But if failure is the aim, then either the incompetence is only an appearance, or it is a means to the end.

How we have arrived at this point, the dangers to our security and interests if we don’t change course, and what must be done to recover our international prestige and effectiveness are the themes of Bret Stephens’ America in Retreat. The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder. …

A clear sign of American retreat is the precipitous decline in military spending. “In the name of budgetary savings,” Stephens writes, “the Army is returning to its June 1940 size,” and “the Navy put fewer ships at sea at any time since 1916.” The Air Force is scheduled to retire 25,000 airmen and mothball 550 planes. Our nuclear forces are being cut to meet the terms of the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, even as its nuclear arsenal has been increasing. Meanwhile Obama … issues empty threats, blustering diktats, and sheer lies that convince world leaders he is a “self-infatuated weakling”.

Unfortunately, 52% of the American people agree that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally”,  and 65% want to “reduce overseas military commitments”, including a majority of Republicans. This broad consensus that America should retreat from global affairs reflects our age’s bipartisan isolationism, the centerpiece of Stephens’ analysis. This national mood is not a sign of decline, according to Stephens, who documents the enormous advantages America still enjoys globally, from its superiority in research and entrepreneurial vigor, to its healthy demographics and spirit of innovation. But it does bespeak a dangerous withdrawal from the policies that created the postwar Pax Americana – even though this global order policed by the U.S. defeated the murderous, nuclear-armed ideology of Soviet communism, and made possible the astonishing economic expansion that has lifted millions from poverty all over the world. …

For Stephens, isolationism has not been the only danger to American foreign policy success. What he calls “the overdose of ideals”, specifically the “freedom agenda” of the sort George W. Bush tried in Iraq and Afghanistan, has misdirected our efforts and squandered our resources in the pursuit of impossible goals. The success of the Cold War and the subsequent spread of democracy and free-market economies suggested that the world could be not just protected from an evil ideology, but “redeemed” by actively fostering liberal democracy even in countries and regions lacking the necessary network of social mores and political virtues upon which genuine liberal democracy rests. But in attempting to redeem the world, Stephens notes, policy makers “neglected a more prosaic responsibility: to police it”.

The failures to create stability, let alone true democracy, in Iraq and Afghanistan have enabled what Stephens calls the “retreat doctrine”, one to be found in both political parties. Barack Obama is the master of this species of foreign policy, incoherently combining idealistic democracy-promoting rhetoric with actions that further withdraw the U.S. from its responsibility to ensure global order. Under the guise of “nation-building at home,” and in service to traditional leftist doubt about America’s goodness, Obama has retreated in the face of aggression, and encouraged cuts in military spending in order to fund an ever-expanding entitlement state.

But also, equally, in order to make America weaker.

Meanwhile, “Republicans are busy writing their own retreat doctrine in the name of small government, civil liberties, fiscal restraint, ‘realism’,  a creeping sense of Obama-induced national decline, and a deep pessimism about America’s ability to make itself, much less the rest of the world, better.”

The “retreat doctrine” is dangerous because global disorder is a constant contingency. The remainder of Stephens’ book approaches this topic first from the perspective of theory and history, and then from today’s practice. History teaches us that all the substitutes for a liberal dominant global power have failed to prevent the descent into conflict and mass violence. The ideas of a balance of power, collective security, or the presumed peaceful dividend and “harmony of interests” created by global trade did not prevent World War I or its even more devastating sequel. Nor are they any more useful in our own times.

As for today, Stephens identifies several challenges to a global order fragilely held together by the commitment to liberal democracy, open economies, and the free circulation of ideas and trade. The “revisionists” attack this model from various perspectives. Iran sees it as a fomenter of godlessness and hedonism, Russia is moved to oppose it by “revanchism and resentment”,  and China believes that it “is a recipe for bankruptcy and laziness”,  lacking a “sense of purpose, organization, and direction”.  All three see evidence for their various critiques in the failure of the U.S. to exercise its massive power in the face of challenges, and in the willingness of American elites to revel in guilt and self-doubt. These perceptions of national decline invite rivals and enemies to behave as if the U.S. is in fact declining.

The other international players that could worsen disorder are “freelancers” and “free radicals”.  The former include those countries like Israel or Japan who, convinced that America will not act in its own or its allies’ interests, will understandably take action that necessarily entails unforeseen disastrous consequences. Much more dangerous are the “free radicals”, the jihadist gangs rampaging across 3 continents, and the nuclear proliferators like Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, whose collaboration with each other and rogue regimes like Venezuela endangers the world through provoking even further proliferation on the part of rivals, or by handing off nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. And then there are “free radicals” like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, who have undermined global order by publicizing the necessarily covert tools, practices, and institutions that undergird and protect it.

Finally, there are the structural weaknesses of the globalized economy and its continuing decline in growth, which may create “breaks” in national economic systems that “will be profoundly disruptive, potentially violent, and inherently unpredictable”. Add America’s retreat from world affairs and reductions in military spending, and in the “nearer term”, Stephens warns, “terrorists, insurgents, pirates, hackers, ‘whistleblowers’,  arms smugglers, and second-rate powers armed with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles will be able to hold the United States inexpensively at risk”,  provoking further American retreat from world affairs and the inevitable increased aggression by our enemies and rivals.

 So what can be done? In his conclusion Stephens applies to foreign affairs the “broken windows” tactics of urban policing that caused rates of violent crimes to plummet over the last few decades. Thus “the immediate goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to arrest the continued slide into a broken-windows world of international disorder”.

This foreign policy would require increasing U.S. military spending to 5% of GDP, with a focus on increasing numbers of troops, planes, and ships rather than on overly sophisticated and expensive new weapons. It would mean stationing U.S. forces near global hotspots to serve as a deterrent and rapid-reaction force to snuff out incipient crises. It would require reciprocity from allies in military spending, who for too long have taken for granted the American defense umbrella. It would focus attention on regions and threats that really matter, particularly the borderlands of free states, in order to protect global good citizens from predators. It means acting quickly and decisively when conflict does arise, rather than wasting time in useless debates and diplomatic gabfests. Finally, it would require that Americans accept that their unprecedented global economic, cultural, and military power confers on us both vulnerability to those who envy and hate us, and responsibility for the global order on which our own security and interests depend.

No matter how understandable our traditional aversion to military and political entanglements abroad, history has made us the global policeman, one committed to human rights, accountability, and political freedom. If we abdicate that position, there is no country powerful, or worthy enough, to take our place.

We agree with that.

And Thornton tantalizes us with this:

Stephens ends with an imagined “scenario” of how a serious global disruption could occur, one grounded in current trends and thus frighteningly believable.

When we’ve found out what that scenario is, which is to say when we’ve read the book, we’ll return to this important subject.

 

*  “In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy.” – Mitt Romney, quoted by PolitiFact.com

What too-good America did wrong 3

The U.S. armed the Afghans and helped them drive out the Soviets, rescued Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the psychopathic sadist Saddam Hussein, bombed Christian Serbs to rescue Muslim Kosovars and Bosnians, liberated Shiite Iraqis from Hussein, liberated Afghans from the brutal Taliban, poured billions of dollars of aid to terrorist Palestinian regimes, used our jets to help the Muslims in Libya free themselves from the psychotic Gaddafi, and supported in word and coin the jihadist, America-hating, anti-Semitic Muslim Brothers in Egypt so that Muslims can enjoy “freedom and democracy.” And that’s not all. We have incessantly protested our respect for the wonderful Islamic faith, censored our official communications and training programs to remove any references to jihadism or the Islamic theology that justifies holy war, euphemized jihadist attacks like the Fort Hood murders as “workplace violence,” invited imams to pray in the White House, filled our schools with curricula praising Islam and its contributions to civilization, scolded and prosecuted writers or cartoonists who exercise their First Amendment right to criticize Islam, abandoned “profiling” as a technique for identifying possible terrorists trying to board a plane or enter the country, hired as advisors to the FBI, the Pentagon, and the CIA Muslim apologists who recycle blatant lies and distortions – we have done all this liberating of Muslims and flattering of them and their faith, and they still don’t like us, and they still want to kill us.

We’ve taken this list of What America Has Done For Muslims from an article  by Bruce Thornton. He compiled it to refute the oft-repeated fallacy that Muslim violence is an understandable (even condonable) reaction to “Western bad behavior”, such as – in Muslim eyes – “colonialism, imperialism, greed for oil, support for Israel, disrespect of Islam and Mohammed, the War on Terror that has demonized Muslims”. He doesn’t indicate approval of any of the actions he lists, but refers to them only to show that accusations of American ill-treatment of Muslims are untrue; that in fact America has treated Muslims tremendously well.

Far too well. That is the point we want to stress. More than that, we say America should not have done any of those things. (With the exception of destroying Saddam Hussein; a worthwhile achievement not because Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were “rescued” from him, but because the destruction of a monstrous tyrant is not a thing to be regretted.)

By going to the aid of the Kosovar terrorists against the Serbs, and the Afghans against the Soviets and the Taliban; by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist Palestinian regimes; by inviting Muslims to give policy advice in government departments; by defending them against criticism and praising them in the schools, America has not only flattered Muslims, but boosted their arrogance, endorsed their claim that they are owed much by the West in general and America in particular. Worse, America’s willingness to expend blood and treasure in their causes has positively encouraged them to carry on with their own “bad behavior” since that is what has brought them such rewards. If they are intensifying their jihad against the non-Muslim world – and they are – it is very largely because the are finding it profitable to do so. Some jihadists might be jailed; a few might even be executed; but for the most part Islam is being treated like the maiden needing to be rescued by the brave knight who will slay any dragon threatening her.

Islam is the self-declared enemy of the West, of America and what America stands for: liberty, tolerance, equality before the law.

Until Islam is treated as the enemy and not as a victim needing rescue and largesse, it will continue to kill and maim Americans, disrupt their lives, deprive them of their nearest and dearest, and constitute an ever intensifying menace.

But will  America stop playing Lady Bountiful and St. George to its mortal enemy, and act like the great power it is? Will the present Islam-loving administration be got rid of and sane pro-American leadership take over? Will America win this war?

“The left has beaten us” 7

Rush Limbaugh weighed in recently on the Republicans’ on-going debate about what went wrong in November. Elaborating on his earlier comment that he was “[for the first time in my life] ashamed of America,” Limbaugh said, “The Left has beaten us. They have created far more low-information, unaware, uneducated people than we’ve been able to keep up with . . . He added that the Democrats “control the education system . . . pop culture, movies, TV and books” and use that control to create “dependency” among voters.

These are extracts from an article by Bruce Thornton at Front Page. He endorses Rush Limbaugh’s lament. Both of them seem to think that not only has the Left “beaten us” in the present (“us” being Republicans, conservatives, anti-socialists generally), but that the Left’s victory is probably irreversible:

Some may think this is a dog-bites-man observation, but it’s worth looking more closely at the most important item in Limbaugh’s list – the educational system. Everything else Limbaugh mentions is made possible because of the deep corruption in public education from kindergarten to university.

We often focus on the ideological biases of the university, where the more lunatic examples of political correctness get the most attention. But in education as in economics, there is a trickle-down effect. The grandees at the elite universities train the PhD’s who go on to second and third tier institutions, where they in turn train the students who get high school and grade school teaching credentials. They also write most of the textbooks that end up in K-12 classrooms. Thus the progressive ideology metastasizes throughout the educational system, determining the curriculum, the textbooks, and the point of view of the teachers. At that level the ideas may be garbled, half-baked, incoherent, and a collection of clichés and slogans. But they are still toxic and effective at transmitting a world-view to impressionable minds.

When my kids were in public school I witnessed this process over and over. Questionable leftist ideas I had to sit through in graduate seminars turned up regularly in my kids’ English and history courses and textbooks. In the Marxist interpretation of history, for example, traditional historical narratives reflect the “false consciousness” of capitalism’s academic publicists justifying and “mystifying” a history marked by oppression and atrocities in service to a dehumanizing capitalist ideology.

The founding of the United States, then, was not about things like freedom and inalienable rights, but instead reflected the economic interests and power of wealthy white property-owners. The civil war wasn’t about freeing the slaves or preserving the union, but about economic competition between the industrial north and the plantation south. The settling of the West was not an epic saga of hardships endured to create a civilization in a wilderness, but genocide of the Indians whose lands and resources were stolen to serve capitalist exploitation. Inherent in this sort of history were the assumptions of Marxist economic determinism and the primacy of material causes over the camouflage of ideals and principles.

In the 60’s this narrative was married to identity politics: the defining of ethnic minorities and Third World peoples on the basis of their status as victims of this capitalist hegemony and it imperialist and colonialist mechanisms, which justified the plundering, oppression, and exploitation of the non-white “others” with racist notions of their natural inferiority. Various strains of postmodernism added a cultural relativism that put out of bounds any judgments of a culture’s values, since all such standards reflect the economic needs of the dominant power. Soon feminism added women to the list of victims sacrificed to the white-male power structure. …

Generations of credential students have sat in these courses and then gone on to teach in high schools and grade schools, and to write the textbooks and curricula that propagate this ideology. The result is a student population ignorant of the basic facts of history, the vacuum filled with melodramas of victimization, racism, oppression, and violence that cast the United States as a global villain guilty of crimes against humanity. …

So too with the movies, books, television shows, and popular music Limbaugh identifies as vectors of this disease. They merely reflect what their creators absorbed in school and what their audiences have been programmed to uncritically accept as true. Having been schooled in the evil designs of oppressive, greedy corporations that abuse workers and rape the planet, these cultural consumers are natural audiences for the plots of movies and television shows that recycle these dull clichés. Having been taught the evils of free-market capitalism that enriches the few at the expense of the many, they are natural constituents of a class-envy politics demanding the rich “pay their fair share,” which is nothing more than property redistribution useful for creating a class of political clients dependent on the federal government. Having spent years being indoctrinated with romantic environmentalism and Disneyfied visions of nature, they are susceptible to an anti-carbon politics that retards development of American oil resources in the name of “protecting the planet” from an apocalyptic rise in global temperatures caused by human and corporate misbehavior, a notion that barely qualifies as a hypothesis, let alone a scientific fact. But how could most products of our dysfunctional educational system tell the difference?

No surprise, then, that last year Obama won the 18-44 demographic––46% of the electorate––by about 15 points. This is the age group that has spent its whole educational career in schools that fail at teaching fundamental skills and basic information, but succeed at transmitting the progressive ideology perfect for creating conformist dependents …

Thornton acknowledges that some children “escape this warping influence “, which, he says, “is a testimony to parents and independent-minded teachers who are careful to counter this ideology”.

He concludes with a reminder of  the Jesuit educational maxim: “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.  And he observes, “Today’s progressives get children until they are 18 and sometimes 21. That kind of influence is hard to match.”

And now the Obama gang want to start the indoctrination even earlier, with free pre-school education for all children.

Have Republican policy-makers thought about how to cure the Left’s corruption of the school and university curricula? Is any Republican leader or conservative organization likely to think about it? Is there a solution short of abolishing all state-financed and state-aided education (which Republicans are extremely unlikely ever to think of doing)?

If the answer to all those questions is no, then is Rush Limbaugh right that “we are beaten”?

Our hopes lie with the invincible liberating selfishness of human nature; with the “natural order of liberty” – which was Adam Smith’s phrase for what Marx called “capitalism”; and with the knowledge derived form both thinking and noting the history of the last hundred years that socialism cannot work so it will not work.

The Left’s victory – like the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia – may last as much as a few decades, to the extreme detriment of America, but it will fail eventually because its teachings are untrue, as all religious doctrines always are.