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Friday, October 17, 2014

Would a Curfew for Men Curb Violence Against Women?

This week the Colombian city of Bucaramanga began experimenting with its first “women-only” night, an effort launched by the state governor’s office to stem a tide of sexual assaults against women. Is there a workable, partial solution here for dealing with violence against women in other cities, even in America?

As reported at Vice.com, bars and clubs in Bucaramanga are being encouraged to host women-only events on this evening. Men out after the curfew (it’s unclear exactly what the curfew time is) must present a safe-conduct permit issued by the mayor's office or be fined (also unclear: what’s to prevent someone with a safe-conduct permit from committing sexual assault?).

Bucaramanga – with a population of just under 600,000 – is no small village. It’s hard to imagine how such a curfew could be enforced effectively; and indeed, Juan Camilo Beltrán, president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce and a proponent of the curfew, said that it is essentially symbolic. “We can only hope men accept the challenge [to stay at home],” he said, making the curfew seem more like a plea than a law.

Its real purpose is largely as an awareness-raising tool and a means to drive discussion about the issue of sexual assaults in a city apparently plagued by them. But similar curfews have been attempted elsewhere, including the Colombian capital Bogota, and so far none has made a noticeable difference in preventing sexual violence. As Suzanne Clisby, the director of postgraduate studies at Hull University's School of Social Sciences, puts it,

The best a formal curfew could hope to do is send a message from the state that violence against women is seen as unacceptable and will be taken seriously, but unless this were followed through in a whole range of other ways, it is fairly pointless.

A men-only curfew could never, and should never, be implemented in a free society like the United States. First of all, it infringes on the freedom of half the population, the vast majority of whom are not sex criminals. Second, even if it does keep some bad men off the street at night, it also clears the street of far more good men who might be able to prevent sexual assaults by their mere presence, if not through actual intervention. And again, it would quite simply be impossible to enforce effectively.

Another down side: since sexual assaults are usually perpetrated not by strangers in nightclub alleys but at home or the workplace by men known to the victims, Clisby warns that such curfews “could perpetuate the myth that violence against women happens only at night by strangers.”

Alison Phipps, director of gender studies at the University of Sussex, argues that awareness isn’t enough – moral education is necessary: “The message we need to convey is that men need to behave differently, rather than women and men being separated—in whatever way—for women's protection.” Clisby concurs – or at least seems to, in academic, gender studies jargon:

We need to look at and challenge the ways boys can be gendered into particular forms of hegemonic masculinities that can be damaging for themselves, as well as for women and other people around them. Also, we need to look at the ways girls may learn normative constructions of femininities that can leave them vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

If these women are saying that men need to be taught not to rape, we already do that, which is one reason I insist that we don’t live in a “rape culture.” Rapists commit their crimes not because they’re unaware it’s wrong and a heinous crime, but in spite of our society’s clear condemnation of it.

If, by complaining that “normative constructions of femininities… leave [women] vulnerable to sexual exploitation,” Clisby is saying women need to learn to defend themselves (and I doubt she is), then I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly. However, suggesting self-defense gets one irrationally condemned these days as being “pro-rape” by those who think the answer is not to empower women but to “gender boys out of their hegemonic masculinities.”

A curfew is not the answer, even as a teachable moment. Sex criminals will always be with us. If you want women to be less vulnerable, teach them to fight back. If you want men to behave more honorably toward women and further marginalize the rapists, teach boys chivalry, a male code of behavior that radical feminism has driven from our culture. Don’t “gender” boys out of their masculinity – encourage them to exemplify the best of it.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 10/15/14)

Purple Penguins and the Radical Gender Agenda

Just when you think you’ve heard the most outrageous example of progressive irrationality in our public schools – usually something to do with anti-gun hysteria – along comes word that a school district in Nebraska is training teachers to abandon “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls” in favor of “gender inclusive” euphemisms like “purple penguins” instead. You read that right.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given out by a staffer on a “district equity team” to middle-school teachers at Lincoln public schools. Instead, say “hey campers” or “create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.

“When I read about this,” said a friend of mine, “I was sure it was satire.” Well, we inhabit a satirical world now, and our children inhabit an educational culture perverted and dumbed-down over the last several decades by political correctness and social justice progressives. Our schools are no longer focused on educational standards that will make us competitive in the real world; instead, they are obsessed with pushing social justice – and that includes a radical agenda to indoctrinate kids as early as kindergarten about sex. Its ultimate goal is the promotion of promiscuity and the dissolution of the very concept of gender, thereby destroying “patriarchal” culture, delegitimizing parental authority, and dismantling the family unit.

The instructions distributed to Lincoln teachers are part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.” All ages. The document warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests organizing them instead by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening… Always ask yourself,” the document says, “‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” Actually, what teachers should always be asking themselves is, “Are my students learning?”

Also on the list? Decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers and asking all students about their preferred pronouns – because the gender spectrum is apparently so broad now that our current set of pronouns is insufficient. If teachers absolutely have to mention that genders exist at all, the document advises that they be listed as “boy, girl, both or neither.” Both? Neither?

“Avoid using ‘normal’ to define any behaviors,” the document urges. By all means, children should be taught to tolerate others who are different; but eradicating the very notion that normal behavior even exists is not tolerance – it is a denial of reality and an irrational reorienting of children’s understanding of themselves and the natural order.

Speaking of tolerance, the training materials instruct teachers to be intolerant of anyone who references gender “in a binary manner… Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.” It’s unclear how teachers are supposed to find so much time to discuss gender with students without cutting back on their readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic.

The teachers were also given a handout created by the ironically-named Center for Gender Sanity which explains to them that “gender identity... can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual.” And they received an infographic called “The Genderbread Person” produced by Sam Killermann, who describes himself as “a social justice comedian” and is the author of The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender.

Al Riskowski, executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, said his group has supported legislation to combat bullying, but that these training materials go “way beyond trying to teach someone how to respect another individual” to a “whole new idea of boy-girl.” The idea that “your biology at birth doesn’t designate who you are” is at odds with the beliefs of “almost everyone in the community.” He said that the school district shouldn’t have to re-educate the 99% who aren’t transgender. Clearly Riskowski must be re-educated to understand that there is no such thing as normal behavior.

He noted correctly that the materials seemed geared to children younger than those in middle school. A sister organization that works on such issues nationwide told Riskowski that it’s “some of the most radical material we’ve ever seen.”

Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel noted that the training documents are not intended as hard-and-fast rules, only recommendations, and he has declared that he is “happy” and “pleased” with them. As for the controversy those documents have engendered (pun intended), he explains that “We don’t get involved with politics… We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids... and we can’t be judgmental,” he said.

But by sitting back and letting these gender radicals insert their indoctrinating materials into the classroom, Mr. Joel is caving in to people who are consumed with politics and gender preferences. That’s the problem with not being “judgmental” – moral neutrality equals moral impotence.

These are our schools now. Our educational system, in the grip of social justice missionaries, is hopelessly broken. Homeschooling is increasingly becoming the best option for raising educated, free children with actual critical thinking skills instead of progressive brainwashing. So of course, the progressives are beginning to target homeschooling – as in Connecticut, where the state intends to increase its oversight of homeschooled children, purportedly because they are considered to be potential Adam Lanzas.

The truth is that they are a threat not to other students but to the state’s authority. As National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson put it in his forceful article, “They Are Coming for Your Children”:

Home-schooling isn’t for everyone, but every home-school student, like every firearm in private hands, is a quiet little declaration of independence. It’s no accident that the people who want to seize your guns are also the ones who want to seize your children.

It’s also no accident that the people who want to indoctrinate your children about sex want them too.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 10/15/14)

Marcus Luttrell’s Rules for Dating Daughters

Afghanistan war hero and author of the harrowing memoir Lone Survivor (and portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the outstanding movie of the same name), retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell is the very definition of “tough as nails.” So when he lays down rules for dating his daughter, young suitors would be well advised to think long and hard before proceeding.

He recently posted an amusing Facebook status that went viral, listing the daunting Herculean tasks he requires of prospective dates for Addie when she grows up (she is currently only two years old, but Luttrell is getting a head start):

Yea if FB is around when it's time for her to start dating I'm gonna make him contact every father of a daughter on here, MMA fighter, boxer, police officer, fire fighter and let's not forget the toughest of all Prison guards. to get their blessing. Oh... in person by the way. Then he will have to do the same thing w/all my teammates while they show him the team armory. Paint the house, mend some fence, cut the lawn, rope a tornado, bottle up a hurricane, and put out a Forrest fire w/a squirt gun etc... He gets that done then I'll let him have my cell number so they can face time while I hold the phone. Thinking about having a chastity belt made w/a SEAL trident engraved on it and reads "Ask father for key." He's the 6'5 250lbs tattooed maniac that's chained to the wall. w/the bad temper and foaming from the mouth that's sleeps under the tarp in the back yard w/the fire ants and snakes. Nothing to difficult. Look forward to seeing the first candidate in about 16 years I'll be waiting.

As the father of two girls who are around the same age as Addie, I can assure you that Luttrell is only half-joking. This Papa Bear protectiveness has been around since the beginning of time. I and every father I’ve ever known have “joked” similarly about greeting our daughter’s would-be date while pointedly cleaning a shotgun at the kitchen table, growling lines like “I’m not afraid to go back to prison” – but the subtext is very serious indeed: don’t even think about approaching my daughter with dishonorable intentions.

Many internet commenters complained that this attitude is archaic, “patriarchal,” and even damaging to the daughters and to their relationship with their dads. “Luttrell will be lucky if his daughter doesn't rebel and get pregnant just to spite that kind of control,” one said. “What this teaches his daughter is that some man is in charge of her body: her daddy,” wrote another. One commenter went so far as to say that “bigots and misogynists often hide behind humor, and this ‘dating my daughter’ bit has always reeked of patriarchal misogyny to me.”

In addition to their humorlessness, people like this seem incapable of accepting that it is a father’s natural and proper instinct to protect his daughter – yes, even with lethal force if necessary – until she is ready to leave the nest. It’s instinctual and right to protect one’s son as well, of course, but especially one’s daughter. Sons bring their own set of problems, and should be raised to be chivalrous gentlemen, but they don’t get pregnant and are highly unlikely to be sexually assaulted by their female dates.

A few months ago, a very different set of rules for dating one’s daughter went viral as well – the “Feminist Father” t-shirt which Huffington Post described as “pitch-perfect.” It reads:

Rules for Dating My Daughter
1) I don’t make the rules
2) You don’t make the rules
3) She makes the rules
4) Her body, her rules

One commenter who approved of this “feminist” take wrote that until society realizes that “we can't control a woman’s choice… we will continue to have gender issues in this country.”

To put it bluntly, this is just politically correct absurdity. A teenage girl is not yet a woman, and until a daughter (or son) is legally an adult and on her or his own, the parents make the rules. This is not patriarchy or misogyny or slavery; it is common sense – something that feminist extremism has driven into uncommonness. Teenagers are bundles of agitated hormones and sexual impulses that they barely can understand, much less override. They are normally not mature enough to rein in those impulses to protect themselves (indeed, many adults never reach that level of maturity).

It is a father’s duty (a mother’s too, but we’re focusing on dads here) to raise his daughter to respect herself and protect herself by making smart life choices (too many commenters assumed that, based on his lighthearted Facebook post, Luttrell himself doesn’t understand this obvious point).

Toward that end, to borrow from Meg Meeker’s excellent book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, a father must recognize that he is the most important man in his little girl’s life, that he is her first love and her hero, that she wants him to protect her, and that the best thing he can do for her is to be the role model for the man that he would want her to end up with someday. That is better protection for her than any shotgun – although a shotgun makes a great backup.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 10/13/14)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

'Rockin' the Wall' Screening and Panel Discussion

I'll be a panelist for this event which includes historian Larry Schweikart (A Patriot's History of the United States), my friend J.E. Dyer, and musicians Jimmy Haslip and Rudy Sarzo (all described below). Be there or be square.




Please join us for a
screening of the Award Winning Film Rockin' the Wall 


 
This November is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Join us for the fascinating story of rock music's part in bringing down the Iron Curtain with our special guest,

Dr. Larry Schweikart
Professor of History, University of Dayton and Award-winning Filmmaker 

Thursday, November 6, 2014
7:00 p.m.

Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel
11461 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Dessert Reception and Panel Discussion with Special Guests
following screening
Rudy Sarzo and Jim Haslip are among the many rock and rollers who appear in "Rockin' the Wall," offering touching insight to the fall of Communism.
Dr. Larry Schweikart, the prize-winning historian and former drummer for the opening band for Steppenwolf, brings his award winning film, Rockin' the Wall, to Los Angeles for an exclusive screening and special guests from the film.
Rockin' the Wall is both an engaging history lesson about the Berlin Wall and life behind the Iron Curtain, and an entertaining exploration of the power of rock music as a force for social change and liberation.

When the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, it became the worldwide symbol of communist oppression. While the Wall kept people in, it could not keep Western influences like rock music out. Through Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, rock music penetrated the Iron Curtain with messages of freedom and rebellion.

Rockin' the Wall presents the history of the Berlin Wall through the experiences of well-know rock musicians and those who lived behind the wall. Among the rock musicians featured are Robby Krieger (The Doors), Mark Stein and Vinny Martell (Vanilla Fudge), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot), David Paich (Toto), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), and the group Mother's Finest who played in East Berlin just weeks before the Wall fell.

People who lived behind the Iron Curtain in several countries describe what their lives were like and how rock music provided them an important lifeline and inspiration -- giving them hope and exposing the short-comings of the communist system.

The film includes historical footage of the famous speeches at the Berlin Wall by Presidents Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy, as well as interviews with former government officials and with European rocker Leslie Mandoki who recalls being visited by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss the power of music.

Features original music written for the film, as well as live music from several of the groups in the film.
Panel discussion will follow the screening with special guests:

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary's Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture. 
Join Our Mailing List
$25 per person - cash or check at the door
Film Screening, Dessert Reception, Panel Discussion
$5 valet parking

DVDs and Soundtrack CDs will be available for purchase

This is Rockin' The Wall exclusive screening in Southern California with special guests, Larry Schweikart, award winning filmmaker, and rockers,Rudy Sarzo and Jimmy Haslip.


Remembering the Battle of Tours

The month of October marks the anniversary of an epic event that unfortunately is no longer widely known but which nonetheless shaped the future of the Western world, and which may still hold inspiration for the West today.

After the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in 632, Islam spread like a bloody tide throughout the Arabian peninsula, north to the Caspian Sea and east through Persia and beyond, westward through Egypt and across North Africa all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. From there it crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and consumed all of the Iberian peninsula, or al-Andalus as the Saracens called it. In a mere one hundred years, Muhammad’s aggressive legacy was an empire larger than Rome’s had ever been.

By 732 that fallen Roman empire had devolved into a patchwork of warring barbarian tribes. When Abd-ar-Rahman, the governor of al-Andalus, crossed the Pyrenees with the world’s most successful fighting force and began sweeping through the south of what would become France toward Paris, there was no nation, no central power, no professional army capable of stopping them.

No army except one – led by the Frankish duke Charles, the eventual grandfather of Charlemagne. His infantrymen, as Victor Davis Hanson puts it in a fascinating chapter of Carnage and Culture, were “hardened veterans of nearly twenty years of constant combat against a variety of Frankish, German, and Islamic enemies.” Hanson writes that the Roman legions had crumbled “because of the dearth of free citizens who were willing to fight for their own freedom and the values of their civilization.” But Charles had spirited, free warriors under his command who were willing.

Sometime in October (the exact date is disputed), on the road between Poitiers and Tours (and so it is sometimes called the Battle of Poitiers) less than 175 miles from Paris, Abd-ar-Rahman arrayed his cavalry against Charles’ solid block of Frankish footsoldiers, which at 30,000 was by some estimates half the size of the Arab and Berber army (Hanson speculates that the armies were more evenly matched).

The opposing forces sized each other up for a full week. And then on Saturday morning Abd-ar-Rahman ordered the charge. But his cavalry, which counted on speed, mobility, and terror to defeat dying empires and undisciplined tribes, could not splinter the better-trained and better-armed Frankish phalanx. At the end of the day’s carnage, both sides regrouped for the next day’s assault.

But at dawn, Charles and his men discovered that the Muslim army had vanished, leaving the booty stolen from ransacked churches behind, as well as 10,000 of their dead – including Abd-ar-Rahman himself. It was not the last Muslim incursion into Europe, but it was the beginning of the end.

Some contemporary historians downplay the magnitude of the Muslim threat, claiming that Abd-ar-Rahman’s force was only a raiding party. They minimize the significance of the battle’s outcome, too; at least one historian even claims that Europe would have been better off if Islam had conquered it. But Hanson notes that “most of the renowned historians of the 18th and 19th centuries… saw Poitiers as a landmark battle that signaled the high-water mark of Islamic advance into Europe.” Edward Creasey included it among his The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. Many believe that if Charles – whom the Pope afterward dubbed Martel, or “the Hammer” – had not stopped Abd-ar-Rahman at Tours, there would have been nothing to prevent Europe from ultimately becoming Islamic. Edward Gibbon called Charles “the savior of Christendom” and wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776 that if not for Charles’ victory, “perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford.”

If only Gibbon could see Oxford now. Not only is the interpretation of the Koran taught there, but Islam thrives in Oxford, thanks partly to the patronage of dhimmi Prince Charles. In his essay “Islam in Oxford,” faux moderate Muslim scholar Muqtadar Khan writes smugly that “Gibbon would have been surprised to learn the lesson that military defeats do not stop the advance of civilizations and the globalization of Islam is unimpeded by the material and military weaknesses of the Muslim world.”

Apart from his dubious suggestion that Islam has anything to do with the advance of civilization, Khan is right. Today the Islamic invasion of Europe and the rest of the West is of the demographic, not military, sort. The continent faces an immigration crisis from at least one generation of young Muslims, many of whom not only are willfully unassimilated, but who are waging cultural and physical aggression against their hosts, establishing parallel communities ruled by sharia and “no-go” zones of violence toward infidels. “Nothing can stop the spread of Islam,” insists Islamic apologist Reza Aslan. “There are those who would try, but it simply will not happen. Absolutely nothing can stop the spread of Islam.”

But Charles Martel begged to differ in 732. The tide was turned back then, and if necessary it can be turned back again, by new Martels. The conflict is different now – it’s far from being as straightforward and elemental as two armies facing off – and so those new Martels won’t necessarily be soldiers. They will also be culture warriors and activists and ordinary citizens willing to put themselves on the front lines against this new incursion. We need “free citizens willing to fight for their own freedom and the values of their civilization” – as Charles Martel and his warriors once were.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 10/10/14)

Poster Project Benefits Returning Vets

“Our culture has descended into one of ignoring the best and celebrating the least,” reads the website for GallantFew, a support network for military veterans. That means that too many of America’s best, home from war, are suffering in silence, with the result that we are losing nearly two dozen a day to suicide. GallantFew is working to change that.

Michael Broderick is a Marine Corps vet and an actor in Los Angeles [and – full disclosure – a friend of mine], with appearances on shows such as Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, The Unit, 24, and Justified, among others. He also does voiceover work on national commercials and in video games like Medal of Honor: Warfighter. He and his wife Dana Commandatore are the founders of RethinkingAutism.com, devoted to improving the quality of life of autistic people. Michael is also involved with GallantFew, and I asked him a few questions about that.

Mark Tapson:    Michael, what is Gallant Few and what’s the Poster Project all about?

Michael Broderick:           GallantFew is a veteran mentoring organization founded by retired Army Ranger Karl Monger. Their mission is to help reduce veteran unemployment and homelessness and to eliminate veteran suicide. The way they do this is to provide one-on-one peer mentoring to veterans. In other words, GallantFew will match a transitioning veteran (someone recently separated from active duty) with a veteran from their community who has already made the transition to civilian life successfully. The Poster Project is a way to raise awareness and funds for the organization.

The first time I did the Project, I purchased a collectible poster for Band of Brothers [the HBO series about the U.S. Army’s Easy Company] that had the signatures of six WWII veterans of Easy Company. I spent the next 15 months getting the signatures of 30 members of the cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Damien Lewis and many others. I was also able to get the signatures of two more Easy Company veterans. The Poster went to auction in 2013 and raised over $4,600.00 for GallantFew. This year, I am doing it again with a movie poster for Black Hawk Down [based on the true story of U.S. Army Rangers’ fierce 1993 firefight in Mogadishu].

MT:    And how is that going so far?

MB:    It’s going well! I’ve got three signatures so far. The first was Matthew Marsden who played “Sizemore” in the film, second was Tom Sizemore who played “McKnight” and the most current signature I got was, for me, the most exciting. First Sergeant Matt Eversmann was in Los Angeles recently and he signed the poster. As you remember, 1SG Eversmann was portrayed by Josh Hartnett and his story was at the center of Black Hawk Down. Matt also recorded a special message for the actors and members of Task Force Ranger and Delta, encouraging them to get involved in The Poster Project.

MT:    Can you talk about your own military background and how and why you became involved with Gallant Few and the Poster Project?

MB:    I served in the Marine Corps with HML/A-167 in a support role completing a four year enlistment and was honorably discharged in 1990. After 9/11 happened and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq got longer, I felt a real desire to do something to support my fellow veterans. I met and befriended Army Ranger Michael Schlitz and, like he does on so many, he had a powerful impact on me. I learned about the work that Mike and Karl Monger were doing with GallantFew and I wanted to support their mission. That brought about the idea for The Poster Project.

MT:    What kinds of issues do returning veterans face when they leave combat duty and come back home, issues that civilians can’t really grasp?

MB:    The big three issues are the ones I mentioned before: unemployment, homelessness and suicide. GallantFew attacks these by getting at the root causes. Oftentimes a big factor in these situations is a feeling of “otherness” – veterans in general, and combat veterans in particular, often have difficulty relating to their civilian peers and vice versa. This can cause feelings of separation, which lead to isolation. In speaking to my combat veteran friends, it is this feeling of isolation that can have the most detrimental effects.

Civilians, on the other hand, often buy into the “damaged PTSD veteran” narrative and are uncomfortable engaging with a man or woman who has served in combat. This can unintentionally exacerbate the problem.

Currently, we are losing 22 veterans a day to suicide. That’s simply unacceptable.

MT:    What about the recent VA scandal, the revelations of neglect and backlog?

MB:    As more and more things come out about the way the Veterans Administration has handled things, it’s clear to me that there must be major housecleaning there from the bottom to the top. This has been a long time coming. We’ve been at war for a decade and the fact that the VA is so ill-prepared leaves me dumbfounded. Even worse is the apparent dishonesty about what’s been going on there. In my opinion, it’s not simply a funding issue but an absolute systemic failure. A lack of accountability will always lead to disaster.

This is another reason that veterans are stepping up to help other veterans. At this point, there’s no more effective tactic than attacking these issues on a peer-to-peer level.

MT:    What can civilians do to better show our appreciation and understanding for any vets we might know, or even don’t know but might encounter in the course of our day? How can we help Gallant Few?

MB:    Anyone can help GallantFew at any time. Whether you're a veteran who would like to volunteer as a mentor or you would just like to support the mission with a donation, you can do that at GallantFew.org and their partners RaiderProject.org.

Your readers can support The Poster Project by visiting us on Facebook or on Twitter and helping me spread the word. Likes, shares and retweets are always appreciated.

Finally, if you know a veteran, you can simply reach out and check in with them. It really is that simple. Whether it's someone you know well, an online acquaintance or someone you don't know well at all, you can ask how they're doing. Every so often, just ask how they're doing. That's how anyone in your life knows you care, military or civilian. The key, though, is being ready to listen if and when they are ready to talk. Don't worry about having answers or solutions. Just listen. Because that's what friends do. Hell, when you're done reading this, why not check in with a veteran you know?

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 10/9/14)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Campus Minefield of Consensual Sex

Thanks to the increasing hysteria about a “rape culture” we don’t have and irrational definitions of what constitutes sexual assault, sex on American campuses is becoming so fraught with bureaucratic oversight and legal landmines that students – especially males – may end up settling for celibacy.

Panicking about how to manage a rumored tsunami of on-campus sexual assault allegations, college administrators are constructing ever more layered legal protections. But cultural critic and intellectual provocateur Camille Paglia recently asserted that the “majority of campus incidents being carelessly described as sexual assault” these days are not “rape rape,” as Whoopi Goldberg put it, but merely “oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.”

One app developer hopes to make those mixed signals a thing of the past. The New York Post reports that Good2Go, free for both iPhones and Androids, “aims to solve the problem of date rape and sexual assault by making consent as easy as pressing a button.” Well, perhaps not quite that easy. Check out the awkward, sitcom-worthy, passion-killing process a couple using Good2Go must go through to ensure a bout of litigation-free lovemaking:

Picture yourself as a student in an intimate moment with a partner. You both sense that sexual congress, an archaic euphemism that does not refer to political sex scandals, is imminent. But first, you must break the spell to explain to him or her that you have to participate in a phone approval process to protect you both legally. Hand them your phone, on which the Good2Go app poses the question, “Are we Good2Go?” They choose a response and hand the phone back. “No thanks” is the answer you likely will get once your partner realizes you actually have an app on your phone to clear the way for sex.

The response “I’m Good2Go” is the green light – but only after your partner inputs a self-assessment of how drunk he or she is. If “Pretty wasted” is selected (although it’s not clear how a pretty wasted person can even find that button), the answer automatically switches to “No thanks,” and again, you’re out of luck. However, if “Sober,” “Mildly intoxicated” or “Intoxicated but Good2Go” are entered, then the app will ask for a phone number to confirm their identity. Then and only then can you both rest easy and get busy.

Unless you live in California, that is, where a new law, the first in the nation, states that “affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” So the green light to get started is only the beginning. The law will lay down stiff penalties for colleges that don’t deal swiftly and seriously with accusations of sexual assault, so any misinterpretation during your frisky business could suddenly become very risky business.

Rape culture anxiety on campus doesn’t end there. The University of Michigan has expanded its definition of “sexual violence” to include such non-violence as “withholding sex and affection” and “discounting the partner’s feelings regarding sex.” Expect other overreacting colleges to follow suit.

But there is something more than just the fear of legal action going on here. Robert Stacy McCain believes that feminist academics are behind what he calls an “Orwellian project” of not only modifying student sexual behavior, but controlling the way students talk and even think about sex. Janet Bloomfield of A Voice For Men claims that men are the real targets of this misandrist agenda, as “normal relationship behaviors are pathologized and framed as abuse when MEN do them.” Meanwhile, women are trained “to interpret normal sexual and relationship behaviors as abuse and encouraged to have the young men they are partnering with sanctioned by the college.”

Whatever is fueling the rape culture mania, I agree with Camille Paglia that “colleges should stick to academics” and “real crimes should be reported to the police, not to haphazard and ill-trained campus grievance committees.” A more serious campus problem, Paglia warns, is that naïve young women no longer “understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage natures,” and thus are easier targets for seriously violent predators. Her solution? “The price of women’s modern freedoms is personal responsibility for vigilance and self-defense.”

Unfortunately, any call for personal responsibility these days is usually met with charges of “rape apologist” and “blaming the victim,” which solve nothing and perpetuate the victimization of women. Nevertheless – and this is not to absolve men of their responsibility – both “oafish hookup melodramas” and actual sex crimes could be more effectively reduced if female students avoid behaviors that put them at risk for sexual assault. That includes: not letting alcohol make you vulnerable; maintaining clear, open dialogue with their male sex partner from beginning to end; and being mentally and physically prepared to confront the “savage nature” of predators. To echo Paglia, that is the price for women’s sexual freedom in today’s hookup culture.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 10/7/14)

Maher & Harris Educate Affleck on Islam

I don’t usually stand with comedian Bill Maher, but last week on his Real Time program the provocateur once again was a voice of reason addressing the Islam Problem. His guests were atheist author Sam Harris, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and actor/director Ben Affleck of the Oscar-winning Iranian hostage crisis flick Argo. As you might expect from such a lineup, the discussion swiftly degenerated into the usual stalemate between facts and politically correct defensiveness.

“Liberals need to stand up for liberal principles,” opened Maher, “freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals.” When this earned applause, he continued, “these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.”

Sam Harris, an atheist who, like Maher, at least understands that not all religions are the same, replied,

Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy, they’ll criticize Christians, they’ll still get upset over the abortion clinic bombings that happened in 1984… The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of Islam is conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people, and that is intellectually ridiculous.

This brought whoops of approval from the audience, and a highly agitated Affleck took the opportunity to jump in and challenge Harris on his credentials for discussing Islam. Of course, Affleck, who had nothing knowledgeable to say about the religion himself, immediately proved Harris’ point by calling his statement “gross” and “racist” – buying into the standard progressive misconception that Islam is somehow a race. Maintaining his composure, Harris responded, again to applause, that we have to be able to criticize ideas. This was a point with which Affleck hastened to agree – until Harris dropped some truth that “Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.”

“Jesus,” a frustrated Affleck exclaimed. He practically came out of his chair a moment later exclaiming, “How about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and don’t do any of the things you say all Muslims do?” This too brought applause, even though once again he was proving Harris’ point that criticizing Islam gets unfairly conflated with a broad-brush attack on all Muslims.

“All these billion people don’t hold these pernicious beliefs?” Maher asked. “That’s just not true, Ben.” When Harris “unpacked” the concept for an impatient Affleck, explaining about concentric circles of fundamentalism, Affleck shut down listening and simply interjected, “Let him [Kristof] talk.” Nicholas Kristof defended moderate Muslims who speak out, and Michael Steele raised the point that opposition Muslim voices don’t get media coverage, to which Maher, trying to bring the discussion back to the ideology of Islam, responded that a big reason Muslims don’t speak out is fear. “It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia,” Maher said. “They will f**king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book. That’s why Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards 24/7.”

Affleck, unable to restrain his righteous anger, suddenly gesticulated at Harris as he began to rant irrationally. “What is your solution, to just condemn Islam? We’ve killed more Muslims than they have us, by an awful lot, and yet somehow we’re exempted from things because they’re not reeeally a reflection of what we believe in…”

When he couldn’t be reined in from this tangent, Harris condescended, “Let me just give you what you want,” and proceeded to say that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t agree with ISIS and that reformers of Islam should be supported. That didn’t pacify Affleck or Kristof, who said that Harris’ point still smacked of “the way white racists talked about African-Americans and defined blacks” – proving yet again Harris’ point that criticizing Islamic ideology always raises the specter of Islamophobia.

When Affleck began another stupid rant, equating a factual discussion of Islam with racism against blacks, Maher cut him off. “It’s based on facts. I can show you a Pew poll of Egyptians – they are not outliers in the Muslim world – that say like 90% of them believe death is the appropriate response to leaving the religion. If 90% of Brazilians thought that death was the appropriate response to leaving Catholicism, you would think it was a bigger deal.”

“I would think it was a big deal no matter what,” Affleck lied, trying to sound fair and balanced. People like Affleck will defend the rights of jihadists all the way up until the blade severs their heads from their bodies, but think nothing of publicly smearing all Christians as theocratic bigots.

“I’m simply telling you,” Affleck told Harris, “I disagree with you.” Harris calmly countered correctly with, “You don’t understand my argument.”

That’s because Ben Affleck is typical of uninformed but holier-than-thou, media-empowered Hollywood actors, who substitute passion for thought and utopian ideals for reality, who reject facts for ad hominem slurs of racism, and who wear the blinders of moral equivalence because their false god is multiculturalism. Unfortunately, we can’t dismiss the influence of such smug, ignorant loudmouths on the smug, militantly ignorant sheep who constitute their audience.

“We’re obviously not convincing anybody,” Bill Maher conceded. Maybe, maybe not, but unlike nearly all of his cohorts in the media, at least Maher’s willing to try.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 10/5/14)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fashion’s Faux Feminism

Chanel’s iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld staged a mock feminist protest Tuesday at the close of his Spring/Summer 2015 ready-to-wear collection runway show in Paris. He had an entire Parisian neighborhood constructed inside the Grand Palais, with the audience lining a “Boulevard Chanel No.5” complete with pedestrian crossing and shimmering rain puddles beneath towering 19th century apartment façades. Celebrity guests included The Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann, who said, “His shows are great opera.” Indeed. But in addition to the fake boulevard and fake apartments, the feminism felt fake as well.

At the end of the show, all the models marched down the boulevard alongside budding supermodel Cara Delevingne and ultramodel Gisele Bundchen leading a protest chant with  quilted, Chanel-monogrammed megaphones (because fashion). Some models carried placards with bland slogans in French and English like “Be different,” “Make Fashion Not War,” and the perplexing “Free Freedom.” A few signs bore a feminist theme: “Ladies Rights Are More Than Alright” [sic] and “Ladies First,” for example. A couple of them took equality to a rather dubious extreme: “Boys should get pregnant, too” and “Divorce for all.”

But even the self-absorbed glamour crowd was put off by the shallowness of the faux protest. In a review entitled “Chanel’s ‘Feminist’ Protest Wasn’t All That Great for Women,” the fashion website Refinery 29 declared that “This season’s show presents protest as pure product, the irony of which we suspect Karl is both aware, and presides over with a provocative, Warholian glee.” That site also called the “empty” event “an oddly jovial fashion circus more than a statement,” and reported that the “attendees didn’t seem to know how to interpret it.” Jezebel.com was less forgiving, describing the finale as “cynical, money-grabbing” “tokenism” and “empty marketing.”

How feminist can an industry be that hinges upon a never-ending parade of very young women serving as largely anonymous, voiceless, walking clothes hangers? The French word for model, after all, is “mannequin.” Sure, those models are well-compensated, but for every Gisele Bundchen, who is on track to become a billionaire, modeling eats up and spits out innumerable eager-to-please young girls who don’t end up so much with a lucrative career as an eating disorder and a smoking addiction. Women aren’t even the most successful fashion designers. This is not to say that fashion can’t put forth a feminist vision, but fashion is not the real world.

Fashion isn’t serious. It’s fantasy, fun and style. Certainly clothes can be empowering for both men and women, but fashion fails when it takes itself too seriously, or attempts inevitably heavy-handed social statements, or waxes pretentious with artsy creations that cannot possibly be worn. Lagerfeld may have intended to set his colorful collection to the beat of the times – like the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the climate change march in New York – but his playfulness was out of sync with the real world.

It’s hard to blame Karl Lagerfeld, he of the trademark dark glasses, snowy ponytail and starched collar, for a lack of perspective. The concerns of real women protesting real issues are not his. He is the highest-paid fashion designer in the world, having earned $58 million in the last twelve months. He inhabits a fantasy universe far removed from mere mortals like the women protesting government violence in Venezuela, or sexual violence in India, or a law permitting men to marry nine-year-olds in Iraq – and they are doing so without a quilted, monogrammed megaphone in sight.

(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 10/3/14)