Free thought as heresy again 9

The Left has captured the culture. That’s well known and oft repeated. Education is now religiously Leftist from kindergarten to doctorate. The entertainment industry – stage, film, television –  faithfully carries the sacred messages. The media, both “mainstream” and “social”, are packed with acolytes.

Not only the guardians of the culture have converted en masse to the Church of Marx. Big panjandrums of our capitalist economy are dropping their checks for hundred of millions of dollars into the collection boxes of the Left’s terrorist curates – buying time, they foolishly hope. That would be more surprising if we didn’t have Vladimir Lenin’s (possibly apocryphal but highly plausible) prophecy that “the capitalist will sell you the rope you’ll hang him with”.

And now it is all too horrifyingly possible that the Left will re-capture the legislative and executive branches of the US government. As for the judicial branch, seven of the Supreme Court  justices – all nine of whom were formerly Jewish or Catholic which was not harmful to determinations of law – are dancing arm-in-arm leftwards through a side door into the C. of M., where doctrinal orthodoxy is strictly enforced. Could SCOTUS become the tribunal of the next Inquisition?

A dark age lies ahead. But need we despair? There is consolation to be found in the records of the fast fading era of free thought (roughly 1700-2000), that will still be available to us in books.

Or will they?

Oh, oh! It seems that books by or about the great  – mostly white – scientists, inventors, discoverers, philosophers, visionaries, economists, historians, educators whose ideas debunk the doctrines of the C. of M., are to be removed from libraries, bookshops, even probably our private rooms, and destroyed. Blotted out of human memory. They will not be published  again; or if published by some rogue publisher, not advertised;  or if advertised by some mischance, not sold; or if sold on a black market market of color, confiscated and destroyed.

On the other hand, books supporting the doctrine of the C. of M. (chiefly concerning anti-racism and the evil of being White) will abound. Vast libraries will be built to contain them. There’ll be at least one in every hotel bedside drawer. There’ll be cutely illustrated versions of some on the shelves of kindergartens; thousands to be checked out by students in all grades or else; and subterranean university bookstores will be chockfull of them.

Bruce Bawer, observing the trend, writes at Front Page:

Of America’s most powerful and prominent cultural institutions, it’s quick work naming those that aren’t entirely left-wing satrapies. TV? Fox News, although things are looking less and less encouraging there. Colleges? Hillsdale, I guess, though how many Ivy League faculty members would ever admit to having heard of it? Newspapers? The New York Post (sometimes), Wall Street Journal (kind of)and perhaps one or two others from sea to shining sea. Silicon Valley? Nothing. Hollywood? ¡Nada! Big business? Hmm: what is there, nowadays, honestly, other than that My Pillow guy?

One field in which there’s at least a soupçon of ideological diversity is the book trade. Yes, staffers at the major publishing houses are overwhelmingly on the left. Ditto bookstore employees. Plus the people who give out the major book awards. Not to mention that the heftiest advances for political books go to Democrats. Since the turn of the century, the biggest nonfiction book deal, amounting to at least $65 million, was for Michelle Obama’s Becoming (2018) and for an as-yet-unpublished opus by Barack; second – raking in $15 million – was Bill Clinton’s My Life (2004); third – at $14 million – was Hillary’s Hard Choices (2014).

One more thing about the reflexive leftism of the book scene. Thanks to today’s lethal cancel culture, even classics are at risk. Recently, in an article for the School Library Journal headlined “Little House, Big Problem: What To Do with ‘Classic’ Books That Are Also Racist”, Marva Hinton identified both Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as racist. No, she didn’t just say that they contained racist language, which would have been fair enough; she asserted that these two books – both of them key texts in the history of the American struggle against racism – are in fact racist.

Hinton quoted Julia E. Torres, a Denver school librarian, as saying that when she’s consulted by teachers who want to assign Harper Lee’s novel to their student, she often suggests replacing it with Samira Ahmed’s dystopic novel Internment, “about a teen sent to a U.S. internment camp for Muslim American people”. Alternatively, Torres “suggests they teach To Kill a Mockingbird using excerpts or through a critical consciousness lens, which would include lessons on white saviorism and the weaponization of white women’s tears”. Check, please!

I’m not familiar with the novel Internment – just out in paperback from Little, Brown – but it’s part of a full-court press by the book business to normalize Islam and demonize “Islamophobia”.  Also in on this effort are the major pre-pub reviewing outlets, all of which gave Internment starred reviews that were short on praise for aesthetic values and long on PC drivel. (“Taking on Islamophobia and racism in a Trump-like America…” – Kirkus.  “A very real, very frank picture of hatred and ignorance…” – Booklist. “An unsettling and important book for our times.” – Publishers Weekly.)

In 2006 I published a highly critical book about Islam. Even then, it was savaged by bien pensant book-world types. But criticizing Islam has become so verboten on the left that I doubt any major publisher today would touch a book like While Europe Slept – even though the problems described therein have grown far, far worse.

Meanwhile, to peruse the latest catalogues from those same publishers is to discover a blizzard of dreary-sounding new or forthcoming novels that, judging from the plot summaries, are drenched in identity politics. (Two quick examples from Knopf, perhaps the most respected of literary publishers: Burning by Megha Majumdar, about an Indian girl who’s falsely accused of terrorism and turns for help to a trans woman; My Mother’s House by Francesca Momplaisir, a novel that takes on “the legacy of colonialism” and “the abuse of male power”. …

Amazon’s current list of top ten bestsellers includes several far-left books on racism: Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning, Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk about Race, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. You might think there’s a market for at least one book criticizing these authors’ views; but I’ve been assured by industry insiders that no major New York house would even consider publishing such a book.

Even in book publishing, then, the left is way ahead. But this isn’t good enough for Alex Shephard, a young staff writer at the New Republic, who in a recent article maintained that the book industry is “overdue” for a major “reckoning”. Here’s his article’s subhead (italics mine):

The industry is facing demands to live up to its stated values. That might mean ditching writers like Donald Trump Jr.

And later there’s this (italics again mine):

…these publishing houses are, like many corporations in the country, being asked by their employees and customers to live up to a set of values. And that would seem to be impossible while also publishing the likes of Tucker Carlson…

What does Shephard mean by “stated values”? Simple: left-wing ideological purity. In his view, conservative books are, with exceedingly few exceptions, “valueless”. (Shephard implies that “quality control” alone would eliminate most conservative titles.) Also by definition, they’re awash in “factual inaccuracies”. Because of course you can’t possibly mount a convincing non-leftist argument for anything without radically distorting the truth. (As Shephard puts it: “Being forced to tell the truth is not an existential issue for most of publishing; it is for conservative imprints.”)

Hence, if book publishers began to be serious about fact-checking, it would, argues Shephard, “make it impossible to publish a great many conservative books”. Indeed, even the “more ‘respectable’ side of conservative publishing”, as represented for Shephard by Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 bestseller Liberal Fascism (note, however, those scare quotes around the word respectable), would be challenged by a responsible fact-checking apparatus.

According to Shephard, another attribute of many conservative books is that their authors aren’t serious. He quotes Kimberly Burns, a book publicist: “I’m OK with books being published from different political viewpoints – in fact, it’s necessary for debate and being able to see a whole picture … The problem is when authors write things only to get themselves attention or to make news, instead of to enhance a dialogue…” Apparently this isn’t a problem with left-wing books.

Bottom line: Shephard really likes censorship of his ideological opponents. And he really admires his fellow “woke” types who put pressure on publishers to cancel books. He notes with obvious satisfaction that Henry Holt, the publishing house, “drew fire for its decision to continue publishing Bill O’Reilly after multiple accusations of sexual harassment were made against him”. (There’s no indication that Shephard believes multiple accusations of sexual harassment should affect Bill Clinton’s publishing career.)

Shephard approvingly mentions Simon & Schuster’s 2016 decision to drop the book Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos, whom he identifies as “a troll known for shallow publicity stunts”. And he tells us that he’s spoken to employees at another publishing house, Hachette, who “expressed discomfort about the company’s conservative imprint, Center Street, which publishes Donald Trump Jr., among others”.

Boy, I’ll bet they did. Since Shephard’s article appeared, Hachette staffers – largely lower-level Gen-Z brats – have said that they won’t work on J.K. Rowling’s forthcoming book because she’s criticized transgender ideology. Hachette is the same house that, in response to workers outraged over unproven quarter-century-old sex-abuse allegations, canceled Woody Allen’s about-to-be-published memoirs in March. Allen was never charged with any crime, let alone found guilty of one; years later he was permitted to adopt two children. Yet thanks to those junior Jacobins – every one of whom should’ve been fired – Allen was unceremoniously cut adrift.

And Shephard fully approves. He actually calls Allen a “pariah”. The ease with which this smug punk swats away the legendary writer-director is chilling. No matter what you may think of Allen or his films, the whole ugly spectacle is just too reminiscent of the way things worked under Stalin and Mao. And it’s all too representative, alas, of the atrocious attitudes of the rising generation of lockstep cancel-culture creeps who, like it or not, are well on their way to becoming our nation’s official cultural gatekeepers.

Liberty 6

Rick Roderick expounds John Stuart Mill:

Further to stress the supreme importance of liberty and reason, here is our summary of excellent points made in an article by Jeffrey Tayler, a contributing editor at the Atlantic.

Astonishingly, the article was published by the far-left periodical Salon. It is quite long, but it is good, and may be read in its entirety here.

Last week’s assault on the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest that Pamela Geller hosted in Texas proves the jihad against freedom of expression has opened a front in the United States. She and those with her came close to being murdered, yet some in the media blamed her for the gunmen’s attack.

Acceptance of the fraudulent term “Islamophobia” contributes to the generalized befuddlement on the left about the faith in question and whether negative talk about it constitutes some sort of racism. It patently does not. Unlike skin color, faith is not inherited and is susceptible to change. As with any other ideology, it should be subject to unfettered discussion, which may include satire, ridicule and even derision. The First Amendment protects our right to practice the religion of our choosing or no religion at all, and our right to speak freely, even offensively, about it. From a rationalist’s perspective, any ideology that mandates belief without evidence is a priori dangerous and liable to abuse.

The “Prophet” Muhammad transformed the Despot on High into an even more menacing, wrathful ogre, whose gory punishments meted out to hapless souls after death fill many a Koranic verse. Muhammad was a triumphant warlord leading military campaigns that spread Islam throughout Arabia. He preceded his invasions by demands that populations either convert or face the sword. Verses sanctifying violence against “infidels” abound in the Koran, and warn that Hellfire awaits those worshipping anything besides Allah. The real meaning of the word “Islam” is surrender — to Allah. Surrendering denotes groveling and humiliation.

We should proudly espouse, as alternatives to blind obedience to ancient texts, reason, progress, and the wonderful panoply of other Enlightenment ideals underpinning our Constitution and the liberties characterizing Western countries. We cannot wimp out and blame the victims for drawing cartoons, writing novels, or making movies. The media need to begin showing Muhammad cartoons. We must stop traducing reason by branding people “Islamophobes”, and start celebrating our secularism, remembering that only it offers true freedom for the religious and non-religious alike. And we should reaffirm our humanistic values, in our conviction that we have only one life, and need to make the most of it. There is nothing else.

This is not a battle we have chosen; the battle has chosen us. It’s time to fight back, and hard.

Our only quibble would be with this in the original article: “…some in the media on the right and the center-right have essentially blamed [Pamela Geller] for the gunmen’s attacks … ”

While it is true that Greta van Susteren of Fox News did that, and Bill O’Reilly did it too (only to be forcefully and brilliantly contradicted by Megyn Kelly), most of the “blame Geller” opinion is to be found in the left-slanted Islam-supporting media, notably the New York Times. Which is why it is astonishing that Jeffrey Tayler’s article – defending Geller, free speech, and the secular values of the Enlightenment – appeared in Salon.

Who remembers freedom? 5

Yesterday (March 9, 2015), on Fox TV, Charles Krauthammer pointed out to Bill O’Reilly that the Left now has control of almost all the institutions that shape our culture. He is right.

The chief disseminators of ideas – the universities, the entertainment industry, and almost all the press and TV news media – accept and propound Leftist values and aims almost as naturally and unquestioningly as we breathe air. The only exceptions, as Krauthammer pointed out, are Fox News, “three pages of the Wall Street Journal”, and talk radio. Of course the intolerant dictatorship of the Left wants to silence them. The Left brooks no dissent.

Generation after generation is growing up and becoming the workers and welfare-dependents, the rulers and bureaucrats, the parents and teachers, the writers and preachers of what used to be the free world, convinced to a man and woman – and every one of the other 70-plus genders now compulsorily recognized by the Left – that there is such a thing as “social justice”, that it is supremely desirable, and that it can be attained by government controlling the economy, pretending to control the climate, and tightly regulating how and where and for how long people live their lives.

Leftists really do believe that their dogma is “the truth”, and the only good. Just like religions. Which is why we say that the creed of Leftism, though it does without a traditional divinity, is a religion. It has a god of sorts in History, which it holds to be the uber-director of our destiny, warning us, like the Borg in Star Trek: “Resistance is futile.”

Those of us who still cling to the quaint old-fashioned notion that individuals should be free to live and think and act as they choose, and that their freedom should be protected by the rule of objective law, are a fast diminishing minority. Our own descendants will consider us cranks.

America was founded on the idea of individual freedom protected by the rule of law. Because its people were safe and free, they made the United States the mightiest and the most prosperous country of all time.

It was good while it lasted.

As Christmas looms … 5

Bill O’Reilly insists that Christianity is not a religion!

David Silverman gets heavy over Christmas.

Readers’ comments on this clash of opinions are invited.

 

(Hat-tip, our reader and commenter Paresh)

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Commentary, United States, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Friday, November 30, 2012

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Oh really, O’Reilly? 0

We find it hard to believe that Charles Krauthammer or Brit Hume would obey instructions as to what they may say or not say on Fox News.

Yet it does seem that Fox has sold its soul to the devil.

This is from Family Security Matters:

Former prominent guests on Fox News, including Walid Shoebat, contend that the News Corporation has surrendered its “fair and balanced” coverage of Islam and events in the Middle East for a fistful of Saudi cash.

Their contention is based on a series of recent developments within the media giant.

The first development was the news that Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, invested $70 million in the Rotana Group, an enterprise owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah. The Rotana Group operates a host of TV channels throughout the Middle East and is a leading producer of Arabic movies.

Next came Mr. Murdoch’s decision to make Abu Dhabi, the headquarters of the News Corporation’s global media operations in the Middle East.

On Monday, the Fox Business Network announced that it will dispatch a full-time correspondent to the Middle East in order to inform Americans of the unique business opportunities in such places as Syria, a country that provides shelter for Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah and support the insurgents in Iraq.

In the wake of this announcement, Fox news commentators – including Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, A.B. Stoddard and Bill Kristol – condemned Geert Wilders, a well-respected Dutch dignitary and critic of radical Islam, as a “fascist” and a “demagogue.” …

In the past, the former member of the Dutch National Parliament was a frequent guest on Fox News. Last February, Bill O’Reilly welcomed Mr. Wilders to America, while condemning a scared Britain for banning him entrance to the country.

Other news about the parent company of Fox News began to surface, including reports that Kingdom Holding owns at least 7 percent of the News Corporation and has become the second largest shareholder in the Murdoch conglomerate. Some speculate that the actual shares controlled by Kingdom Holding through a hedge fund may exceed 25 percent.

Kingdom Holding is owned by Prince Talal …

Listed by Forbes as the world’s 22nd richest person, Prince Talal also owns substantial shares of Time Warner, Apple, eBay, Disney, and Citibank.

As for charity, he gives millions to Hamas and other pro-Palestinian organizations.

Critics say that Prince Talal’s sizeable investment in the News Corporation accounts for Fox News programs critical of Israel, including a series of special reports in which Carl Cameron and Brit Hume [even he? – JB] alleged that Israel gathered information about the attacks of 9/11 and failed to warn the American people.

Walid Shoebat, a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who converted to Christianity, charges that Fox News now prohibits critics of Islam and Islamic terror from appearing on its broadcasts.

“He himself (Prince bin Talal) said, ‘I just had to make a phone call to [tell them to] stop using the word Muslim’ regarding the rioting in France,” Mr. Shoebat notes. “Bill O’Reilly says to Ibrahim Hooper, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), that he is an upstanding citizen. Since when was the head of CAIR an upstanding citizen?”

Mr. Shoebat adds that viewers will no longer be seeing any so-called “Islamophobes” on Fox.

“Today, I’m not invited at Fox News. Neither is Robert Spencer or Brigitte Gabriel,” he laments. “But Ibrahim Hooper is invited to speak at Fox News. It used to be that experts on terrorism who are critical of the Islamic views [were] able to get a voice on Fox News. Those days are gone.”

Mr. Shoebat says that instead of airing those critical views of Islam, Fox News now legitimizes Hooper, the spokesman for CAIR, a group which he maintains is a front for Islamic terrorists.

Oh, please no! 0

Diana West raises a troubling question:

Should Fox News register with the State Department as a foreign agent — an agent of Saudi Arabia?

First off, is that a farfetched question? Not when a leading member of the ruling family of the Sharia-totalitarian “kingdom” of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has made himself the second-largest shareholder of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Fox News’ parent company.

Just as Steven Emerson believes that American universities using Saudi mega-millions (many from Alwaleed) to set up Islamic studies departments should register as Saudi agents, I believe an American news channel part-owned and part-influenced by the Saudi prince should, too.

Alwaleed’s long march through U.S. institutions is a mainly post-9/11 progression greased by his purchase of about a 5.5 percent stake in News Corp. in 2005, and his purchases, I mean, gifts, of $20 million apiece to Georgetown and Harvard Universities, also in 2005.

There have been other eye-catching displays of Alwaleed’s largesse — $500,000 in 2002 to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas- and Muslim-Brotherhood-linked entity, and a whopping $27 million, also in 2002, to the families of Palestinian “martyrs,” aka suicide bombers. These, along with Alwaleed’s self-described “very close relationship” with Murdoch son and apparent heir-apparent James, a left-wing global-warmist with virulently anti-Israel views, should only deepen Americans’ concerns about Fox’s ties to “the prince.” Recently, Murdoch and Alwaleed have discussed expanding their business relationship through the Murdoch purchase of a substantial stake in Rotana, Alwaleed’s huge Arab media company.

Before entering his Murdoch association, Alwaleed gave a remarkably candid interview in 2002 about what Arab News described as his belief that “Arabs should focus more on penetrating U.S. public opinion as a means to influencing decision-making” rather than boycotting U.S. products, an idea of the moment.

The Arab News reported: “Arab countries can influence U.S. decision-making ‘if they unite through economic interests, not political,’ (Alwaleed) stressed. ‘We have to be logical and understand that the U.S. administration is subject to U.S. public opinion. We (Arabs) are not so active in this sphere (public opinion). And to bring the decision-maker on your side, you not only have to be active inside the U.S. Congress or the administration but also inside U.S. society.'”

And active inside U.S. society living rooms — even better. Alwaleed would seem to have hit on a Fox strategy some time after Rudy Giuliani refused to accept, on behalf of a 9/11-shattered New York City, his $10 million check-cum-lecture that essentially justified the al-Qaida attacks as having been a response to U.S. foreign policy. This was “such an egregious, outrageous, unfair offense that I would have nothing to do with his money either,” Sean Hannity said at the time on Fox News‘ “Hannity & Colmes,” his remarks (and those of other Fox personalities) recently re-examined by the left-wing group Media Matters. “This is a bad guy,” Hannity said. “Rudy was right to decline the money.” Bill Sammon called Alwaleed’s check “blood money,” adding, “we’re better off without it.”

How terribly ironic that this same “bad guy” is now a News Corp. blood-money bags, a boss who must be handled with care as, for example, Fox host Neil Cavuto did in a deferential interview with Alwaleed last month.

How does this influence Fox News coverage? It’s impossible to say. Alwaleed has bragged that it only took a phone call to ensure that Fox coverage of Muslim rioting in France not be described as “Muslim” rioting in France, a boast News Corp. has never denied….

Meanwhile, spokesmen for terrorism-linked and Alwaleed-endowed CAIR still appear on Fox shows, for example, while Dave Gaubatz and Paul Sperry, likely Fox guests as conservative authors of the sleeper-hit book “Muslim Mafia” (an expose of CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood), get zero airtime. The more important question becomes: How does Alwaleed’s stake in News Corp. affect what Fox News doesn’t cover?

If they don’t report, we can’t decide. This, for a Sharia prince, could be worth millions.

This is very disturbing.

For TV news we watch Fox almost exclusively. We are hugely entertained by Glenn Beck who’s doing a great job exposing the bad policies and bad policy-makers in the Obama administration. We regularly watch Bret Baier’s ‘Special Report’, eager to hear the opinions of Charles Krauthammer, Brit Hume, and Stephen Hayes. We quite often watch Sean Hannity. We bear with Bill O’Reilly because he brings us conservatives like Michelle Malkin who inform and interest us. We need Fox News.  If it is to become a propaganda instrument of the soft jihad we will be losing a highly valuable resource, irreplaceable as far as we can see.

Rupert Murdoch, what are you doing to us?