Stupidité! 2

It seems to us that the (unlikely but actual) president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has a crush (decidedly not reciprocated) on President Trump. We do not think that is stupid, just more emotional than is necessary.

Macron came to Washington, D.C., made some speeches, either completely empty – just loose strings of grandiose phrases – or plain nonsensical, and got away unharmed.

Bruce Bawer writes what needs to be said about Macron’s stupidities at Front Page:

Last week, Emmanuel Micron, I mean Macron, visited Washington, had dinner at the White House, and gave a speech on Capitol Hill in which he referred to Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast as a novel, identified the French architect of Washington, D.C., whom Americans know as Pierre L’Enfant, by his middle name, Charles, and attributed a famous line by Ronald Reagan to Teddy Roosevelt. The line in question was the one about how freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.

There was, in fact, a good deal of rhetoric in his speech about freedom – and the threats thereto. Given what’s going on in France these days, that would only make sense. But his approach to his country’s – and the West’s – current travails was, to say the least, curious. On 9/11, asserted Macron, “many Americans had an unexpected rendezvous with death.” How poetic! How French! And how inappropriate a way to refer to thousands of people being evaporated one fine Tuesday morning. He made it sound as if death by jihad had been their divinely ordained destiny – as if the hijackers of those planes had been instruments of some cosmic will.

Macron went on to mention the “terrible terrorist attacks” that have struck his own country in recent years. “It is a horrific price,” he pronounced, “to pay for freedom, for democracy.” Meaning what? In what sense are such attacks the “price” we “pay for freedom”? Did Macron mean something like what London mayor Sadiq Khan meant when he said that living with terrorism is “part and parcel of living in a big city”? I’d say the people who died on 9/11 were paying for American leaders’ blithe indifference to the existential danger of Islam – and that those who’ve died in more recent terror attacks in Europe were paying for their own leaders’ cowardly irresolution (or outright defeatism) on the subject.

Macron might have said something gutsy about his fellow politicians’ culpability in the violent deaths of terrorist victims. But no. Like every other European-establishment political hack, he posed as a hero of freedom. Some hero: he didn’t dare breathe the word Islam or Muslim or even jihad. But what else to expect from a man who … has called for Arabic to be taught in every French high school, for “cathedral mosques” to be built in every major French city, and for enhanced measures to be taken against critics of Islam?

In any event, Macron’s grandiose Gallic gush about freedom – and about the cherished centuries-long friendship between the American and French people (yeah, tell that to the cab drivers in Paris) – was really just throat-clearing before he got around to the Paris climate-change accords, the Iran deal, and trade.

Yes, there was this, somewhat later in his oration: “Both in the United States and in Europe, we are living in a time of anger and fear because of these current global threats, but these feelings do not build anything….Closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens.” Qu’est-ce que c’est? The French claim to love logic. But where’s the logic here? By “current global threats”, Macron presumably meant jihadist violence and Islamization. But what was Macron telling us to do about them? Nothing. Fear is bad. Anger is wrong. And stronger border controls? They won’t work, because they won’t stop the world’s “evolution”. Is evolution his euphemism for Islamization?

Macron proceeded to denounce “extreme nationalism”. Clearly, he wasn’t talking about actual far-right fascists. No, he meant “America first”. He meant Brexit. “Personally, if you ask me,” he said, “I do not share the fascination for new, strong powers, the abandonment of freedom, and the illusion of nationalism.” In short, he was equating “freedom” with rule by the EU and UN (for which he worked in a plug) and indicting ordinary folks who actually think their countries belong to them. During his rant about climate change, Macron proclaimed that we need to save the Earth because, as he put it, “there is no planet B!” Well, I couldn’t help thinking, there’s no France B, either. And the fact is that his own country is going down the tubes – and fast. But if you believed his speech, the only threat to liberté, égalité, et fraternité in the West isn’t Islam but “fake news”. 

Yes, he actually used those words. Unlike Trump, however, he wasn’t referencing the left-wing distortions of CNN, the New York Times, and their European equivalents. Here’s what he said: “To protect our democracies, we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risks.” Irrational fear? Imaginary risks? Plainly, here was yet another craven European pol who, even as Rome is burning, insists that the problem isn’t the arsonists or the fire but the firefighters. How many of the House and Senate members applauding him on Capitol Hill knew that Macron recently called for a law in France that would summarily close down online sources of “fake news” – by which (he’s made clear) he means news sources critical of Islam?

Macron’s Washington speech, as it happened, came only days after the release of the most comprehensive study yet of Islam in France. Co-sponsored by the Sorbonne, it concluded that the country’s second- and third-generation Muslims, who make up seven or eight percent of its population, are increasingly Islamized. Most have no respect for French law and culture; most approve of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Researcher Olivier Galland said his results were, “to put it mildly, harrowing” – reflective of community values in stark contrast with those of la belle Republique.

France’s mainstream news media reacted to the study with outrage. Galland and his team, charged Le Monde, were “stigmatizing Muslims”. But for those not interested in whitewashing Islam, the study only affirmed a grim reality that has been reported worldwide for years in what Macron would call “fake news” media – a reality of no-go zones, mass car burnings, large-scale gang riots, police who are scared to arrest Muslims, firefighters who hesitate to enter Muslim neighborhoods, anti-Semitic attacks that are driving Jews from France, historians who feel compelled to write “Islamically correct” textbooks, and high-school teachers who (as Millière puts it) “go to work with a Qur’an in their hands, to make sure that what they say in class does not contradict the sacred book of Islam.” Oh, and a tiny cohort of brave fools who are put on trial for daring to speak the truth about all this.

Another recent document is of interest here. On March 19, Le Figaro published a statement signed by about one hundred French intellectuals, among them Alain Besançon, Pascal Bruckner, Alain Finkielkraut, Bernard Kouchner, Robert Redeker, Pierre-André Taguieff, and Ibn Warraq. “Islamist totalitarianism,” they warned, is gaining ground in France by, among other things, representing itself “as a victim of intolerance.” It has demanded – and received – “a special place” in French society, resulting in an “apartheid” that “seeks to appear benign but is in reality a weapon of political and cultural conquest”. The signatories declared their opposition to this silent subjugation and their wish “to live in a world where women are not deemed to be naturally inferior….a world where people can live side by side without fearing each other … a world where no religion lays down the law.”

On the one hand, it was a powerful manifesto – nothing less than a j’accuse for the twenty-first century – whose power lay in its courageous candor about the real threat facing the Republic of France. On the other hand, my response upon reading it was: Well, good luck with that. Some of these intellectuals have been saying these things for a long time; others have joined the chorus more recently. All praise to every last one of them. But nothing will change in France until public proclamations by intellectuals give way to meaningful nationwide action by ordinary citizens – who, alas, in the second and deciding round of last year’s presidential election, gave Macron, this would-be Marshal Pétain, twice as many votes as the woman who, whatever her imperfections and her unfortunate parentage, is the closest their poor broken country has to a potential Saint Joan.

We are not fans of Saint Joan. But we do think Marine Le Pen would have been the better choice for the presidency of France in this late hour when the Islamic jihad needs urgently to be engaged and defeated and the EU disbanded – as she advocates.

Neo … what? 19

We had supposed that Neoconservatives were persons who had been on the Left, seen the light, and so become conservatives.

We thought they charmingly but mistakenly considered it possible to spread democracy, love of liberty and Austrian School economics round the world.

But it seems we were largely wrong.

Jack Kerwick explains, at Townhall, what Neoconservatism is all about:

In spite of the ease with which the word “conservatism” is thrown about these days, most people who associate with the “conservative” movement are not really conservative at all. In reality, the so-called “conservative” movement is a predominantly (though not exclusively) neoconservative movement.

Contrary to what some neoconservatives would have us think, “neoconservatism” is not an insult, much less an “anti-Semitic” slur. The word, rather, refers to a distinct intellectual tradition — a point for which some neoconservatives, like its famed “godfather”, Irving Kristol, have argued at length.

To start with then, neoconservatism is not entirely neo; it refers to a tradition. Though not a conservative tradition –

In The Neoconservative Persuasion, Kristol argues for another claim: neoconservatism and traditional or classical conservatism are very different from one another. “Neocons,” he states, “feel at home in today’s America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not.” Unlike conservatism, neoconservatism is “in the American grain”.  And this is because it is “hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic”.

Furthermore: “Its twentieth-century heroes tend to be TR [Teddy Roosevelt], FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt], and Ronald Reagan,” while “Republican and conservative worthies” like “Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked.”

FDR a hero of American conservatism! Coolidge and Goldwater overlooked!

Neocons view the United States as “a creedal nation” with a “‘civilizing mission’” to promote “American values” throughout the world, to see to it “that other governments respect our conception of individual rights as the foundation of a just regime and a good society”.

But what creed would that be? What American values? And what individual rights did FDR nurture, protect, and promote?

Kristol is unambiguous in his profession of the American faith: the United States, given its status as a “great power” and its “ideological” nature, does indeed have a responsibility “in those places and at those times where conditions permit it to flourish”, to “‘make the world safe for democracy”.

Democracy, eh? In its “civilizing mission”. So there we go. We weren’t wrong in all our suppositions.

Here, Kristol articulates the foreign policy vision — “Democratic Realism” is what Charles Krauthammer calls it — for which neoconservatism is known. Yet to Kristol’s great credit, he readily concedes what most neoconservatives readily deny: Big Government abroad is, ultimately, inseparable from Big Government right here at home.

Kristol is refreshingly, almost shockingly honest: Neoconservatism, he informs us, endorses “the welfare state”. Its adherents support “social security, unemployment insurance, some form of national health insurance, some kind of family assistance plan, etc.” and will not hesitate “to interfere with the market for overriding social purposes” — even if this requires “‘rigging’” it instead of imposing upon it “direct bureaucratic controls”.

And this is “really conservatism”, and it “predominates in the conservative movement”?

As Kristol says, neoconservatives are “always interested in proposing alternate reforms, alternate legislation (to the Great Society), that would achieve the desired aims”—the eradication of poverty — “more securely, and without the downside effects”.  Neoconservatives don’t want to “destroy the welfare state, but … rather reconstruct it along more economical and humane lines”.

In vain will we search the air waves of “conservative” talk radio, Fox News,National Review, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, or any other number of mainstream “conservative” publications for a negative syllable regarding Irving Kristol. Though Kristol, like his son, Bill, is commonly referred to as a “conservative”,  he himself not only explicitly embraced neoconservatism as his “persuasion” of choice; Kristol happily embraced the distinction of being “the godfather” of this persuasion.

In other words, if anyone can be said to be the intellectual standard bearer of neoconservatism, it is Irving Kristol.

And yet here he is unabashedly conceding what some of us have long noted and for which we’ve been ridiculed: neoconservatism is every bit as wedded to Big Government as other species of leftism — even if its proponents want to use it in other ways and for other purposes.

Because Obamacare is woefully unpopular, neoconservative Republicans, both in politics and the “conservative” media, have nothing to lose and everything to gain from trashing it. But at this time leading up to the midterm elections, more traditional conservatives would be well served to bear in mind that, in principle, neoconservatives do not object to “some form of national health insurance”, as Kristol tells us.

So now we know. Neocons are socialists.