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Friday, January 17, 2020

Wanderings in Place

“Nostalgia,” writes scholar Tony Esolen, is not mere “misty-eyed adulation of an imagined time that never existed,” nor “reactionary sentimentalism.” It is “the ache to turn back home,” a mirror of the soul’s yearning for our eternal home, heaven. It is the longing to break free of our postmodern alienation and set our steps back on the journey to meaning and belonging. And it is the theme that courses through Wanderings in Place, the latest collection of poetry from David Horowitz Freedom Center president Michael Finch.
I reviewed Finding Home, Finch’s first collection of poems, for FrontPage Mag here in 2015. Like that book, Wanderings in Place is a very personal volume, with poems anchored in Finch’s vivid memories of loves and landscapes and longing. But when art is personal and true and heartfelt, it rises above the personal and resonates with our common humanity, and that is the case here. Also like Finding Home, the new book has a very American character, grounded as it is in our unique spirit of freedom and in
the lands, forests, fields, rivers,
from Great Lakes to widening expanse, a land blessed
of waves of amber grain and purple hues, rising up
against the great Rockies across desert to the mighty sea.
“I have spent my life searching for America,” Finch wrote in the introduction to Finding Home, “for what we have lost. And always searching for home. We are a rootless people, a rootless nation, it is a great strength as we always strive and push out and go beyond all limits. But who can deny the void that it leaves?” In more than three dozen short poems in his new book, Finch helps lead us out of that void into the welcoming panoramas of an American home we are in danger of losing.
What is it we are losing, exactly, and why? In poems with titles such as “American Man in Final,” “Thoughts of Freedom Dying,” “Oh, America,” and “Statues Fall,” Finch laments:
Our might,
our freedom, our strength, our land our culture
faded into memory, traveled faraway, gone forever.
And:
This moment of a nation, a people who lived free,
lived in liberty so unique, so true, so brief.
Praise be to God for all of it – even if fleeting, fading, and gone.
It was, in our time, glorious.
He lays the blame for our decline on the false “love of our own created gods” and our failure to stand firm against an internal enemy:
We didn’t hold fast, lost faith, and now,
slipped and vanishing before our eyes,
in a generation’s blink taken, given, freedom
whisking past like whispers of ghosts.
A progressive rise, revolt of elites, opened borders
sovereignty spent, all for profit and power, and nothing left.
Land of gutted factories, torn families, wasted lives
shattered dreams, vacant, blown-through memories.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

There is No Fun in Progressivism


“There is no fun in Islam,” once declared the Ayatollah Khomenei, whose stern visage glowered down from posters plastered all over Iran after the 1979 revolution, as if daring anyone to crack a joke. The same could be said for Progressivism which, like Islamic fundamentalism, is a totalitarian ideology, and today’s Democrats, like the Iranian mullahs, simply can’t take a joke.
They can’t afford to, since successful totalitarianism depends on the complete control of every aspect of the population’s lives, especially thought control. The totalitarian state maintains that control through fear and division, and people who feel comfortable enough to ridicule the regime clearly are not sufficiently afraid or divided. The greatest enemy of authority, the philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter. Humor unapproved by the state – particularly humor aimed at the state – is an ominous sign that the regime’s death grip on the populace is slipping.
There is a scene from the brilliant 2007 German movie The Lives of Others (if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this now and go watch it), set in East Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin wall, which captures not only the existential terror of life in a totalitarian society, but the state’s vulnerability to mockery. In one chilling scene from the film, a Party official overhears an oblivious young soldier beginning to tell friends a joke at the expense of the Party Chairman. When he realizes a Party superior is eavesdropping, the soldier blanches in fear, but the official feigns amusement and encourages him to finish the joke. The punch line ridicules not only the Chairman but the rigid oppression of the system itself. The official then sternly demands to know the soldier’s name and department, warning him, “I don’t have to tell you what this means for your career. You were deriding the Party. That’s incitement, and likely just the tip of the iceberg. I will report this to the Minister.” Mockery endangered the Party as surely as armed insurrection – perhaps even more so, because a revolution can be crushed by military might, but ridicule is a more insidious and elusive threat.
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon,” states Rule #5 of community organizer Saul Alinsky’s infamous, ingenious Rules for Radicals, which the Machiavellian strategist dedicated to Lucifer, the ultimate radical. “There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating.” The left has mastered the implementation of Alinsky’s rules for decades, and have taken control of the entertainment industry in which they wield derision of their political enemies like a broadsword. The entire late-night talk show scene, to cite just one arena, has been commandeered by so-called comedians devoted to progressive propaganda and attacks on conservatives. But the left is unaccustomed to having the tables turned. They’re utterly unprepared to be the butt of jokes.

Heroes of 2019, Left and Right


The end of one year and the beginning of another is a natural time for reflection, both personally and culturally, and one way to examine ourselves as a culture is to think upon the figures we held up as the most admired persons in the past year. The people we define as heroes and role models also define us and what virtues and values we consider important. Unsurprisingly, as polarized as Americans are politically, left and right have sharply contrasting heroic ideals.
Of course, there are many examples of heroic and/or admirable behavior that we can all agree on: a man who pulled a driver from a burning vehicle; a high school coach who defused a possible school shooting with compassion; a cancer-stricken teen who founded a movement to help sick, homeless, and foster children. But beyond those, there is a stark difference between heroes embraced solely by the leftist media and those only the right would claim.
Let’s begin with Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” selection. Because the news media lean almost exclusively left, teen climate Cassandra and globe-trotting anti-capitalist scold Greta Thunberg predictably was chosen for 2019. Of course she was – did anyone imagine that token Republican Rudy Giuliani, who was among the final ten candidates, would win? In all fairness, Time did select Giuliani in 2001, amid the patriotic spirit that swelled across the country in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But these are different times; now the spirit swelling across the country is a wave of sheer panic about the environmental apocalypse that the left assures us is coming within the next twelve years if we do not jettison our exploitative capitalist system and embrace Green New Deal socialism.
In the Time cover photo, Ms. Thunberg poses fearlessly and humorlessly in the face of breaking waves of the oceans that Barack Obama promised to heal. Like the heroic proletariat of Soviet agitprop posters, she gazes toward a glorious collectivist future in which the government bestows equality upon all and the planet flourishes once again as humans revert to a pre-industrial economy.

Stupid White Man


Documentary propagandist and anti-white racist Michael Moore is a one-man hate group, the kind that would be relentlessly targeted by the Southern Poverty Law Center if only his hatred didn’t align so closely with theirs. Instead, the leftist smear organization is ardently devoted to demonizing pro-American standard bearers of freedom like the David Horowitz Freedom Center, FrontPage Mag writer Daniel Greenfield, and Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer. Meanwhile Moore is given a pass not only by the SPLC, but by the Democrat Party at large which also happens to be aligned with his divisive views.
You may remember that Moore rose to prominence and wealth as a leftist activist thanks primarily to his enormously successful documentaries Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, both wildly popular among the America-hating film snobs at the Cannes Film Festival, and both riddled with falsehoods and distortions. The late iconoclast Christopher Hitchens, for example, excoriated Fahrenheit 9/11 at Slate in his inimitable style: “To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental.”
Speaking of excremental, Moore also authored a handful of books of leftist disinformation, including the bestselling Dude, Where’s My Country? and Stupid White Men. The latter predictably laid the blame for all of the world’s ills at the feet of Moore’s titular targets. He has since gone on to turn flogging white men into a career revival now that his more recent documentaries have flopped, Donald Trump has supplanted Barack Obama in the Oval Office, and anti-white racism has become culturally acceptable, if not celebrated.
In his most recent incitement of hatred against white men, Moore stated in a video interview with Rolling Stone magazine published last Tuesday that white men who voted for President Trump are “not good people” and that others “should be afraid of them.”

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Totalitarian Legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution


Two years ago, on the centennial anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia that ushered in a century of mass murder and misery, the Trump administration declared a National Day for the Victims of Communism. The New York Times, meanwhile, predictably celebrated the blood-soaked milestone with a series of opinion pieces touting the many upsides of Communism, such as better orgasms for women. The series was titled, with stunning tone-deafness, “Red Century.”
Also on that anniversary in 2017, Bucknell University, a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, held a symposium titled “Legacies of the October Revolution,” organized by Bucknell professor of sociology Alexander Riley and associate professor of English Alfred Kentigern Siewers. That symposium spawned an important new book titled The Totalitarian Legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution, edited by Riley and Siewers and featuring essays from three participating scholars. Contrary to the New York Times’ whitewashing, the book’s evaluation of the October Revolution is unequivocally damning.
“Now, a century later, the historical evidence on the nature and legacy of the Bolsheviks and the regime they established is indisputable,” writes editor Riley in the foreword, “Challenging Bolshevik Myth and the Poetry of Totalitarianism”:
None of the utopian goals to which they purported to aspire – the end of inequality and want, an efflorescence of humane cultural values, a more just and democratic social order – were realized. Instead of these noble ends, the Bolsheviks produced the world’s first totalitarian state, a one-party dictatorship whose political power rested almost entirely on the threat and frequent implementation of mass violence.
It gets harsher from there. The book’s essays by a trio of scholars offer “a summary analysis of the historical record books on the Bolshevik reign of terror, a working hypothesis on what produced the distorted and malevolent ideologies and practices that sustained Bolshevism, and an effort at understanding how considerable numbers of intelligent and conscientious individuals could have come to believe such intrinsically unbelievable things” about it, Riley writes.
In the first of three brilliant essays, “Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution: The Invention of Totalitarianism,” French historian and former Maoist militant St├ęphane Courtois, author of more than 30 books on communism and totalitarianism (including lead authorship of the essential work on global communism, The Black Book of Communism), undertakes to explain how Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, aka Lenin, became the founder of totalitarianism. Courtois demonstrates that Lenin shared with his successor Stalin “the same merciless, amoral, dehumanizing view of political opponents.” It is a strategy familiar to anyone who has been demonized by today’s Democrat Party.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Explaining Identity and Prejudice


The left is fond of accusing President Donald Trump of dividing America, but in fact America was already divided before his presidency – by the left’s obsessive promotion of the inherently divisive “identity politics,” which erases our individuality and boxes us all into categories based on gender and skin color, and then arranges those categories according to a hierarchy of power and oppression.
Farrell Bloch, a former Princeton economics professor and an expert witness in hundreds of matters assessing discrimination, has written a book that couldn’t be more timely and vital to our understanding of identity politics: Identity and Prejudice, from the Canada-based Mantua Books.
In Identity and Prejudice, Prof. Bloch offers a theory explaining why individuals are biased against some race and ethnic groups but in favor of others. He addresses diversity, intersectionality, white privilege, political correctness, and identity politics, and applies his theory to contemporary issues including European and American reaction to Muslim immigration, anti-Israel sentiment, and the elections of Presidents Obama and Trump.
I asked Professor Bloch a few questions about his book via email.
Mark Tapson:           To what extent are identity, prejudice, and discrimination driving political conflicts and decisions today, and have they always done so, or would you say they are more prominent factors in the political scene now than in the past?
Farrell Bloch:           Identity politics, which emphasizes ethnicities as either victims or preferred groups, is pervasive today.  Data that compare demographic groups’ employment, income, and other social and economic measures were not so widely available in the past. These statistics, reports of racist comments and hate crimes, tabulations of the presence or absence of members of race and ethnic groups in various venues, and discussions of related policy issues such as immigration and affirmative action are now ubiquitous.
MT:     You say that the most important contemporary political divide may be the one between those who embrace the Elitist Paradigm and those who reject it. You note that the election of Donald Trump, for example, was likely an expression of antagonism toward it. What is the Elitist Paradigm?

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Serpent and the Red Thread


Several days ago, pro-sharia Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour appeared at the annual conference of American Muslims for Palestine in Chicago and demanded that the audience ask “those who call themselves progressive Zionists” how they can claim to oppose white supremacy in America, but then “support a state like Israel that is based on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else.”
The notion that Israel was built on purported Jewish supremacism is pretty rich coming from Islamic supremacist Sarsour, particularly in light of the fact that the alarming spike in Jew-hatred throughout the West today stems largely not from a politically impotent and socially marginalized minority of white supremacists (as the mainstream media would have us believe), but from mass migration from Muslim countries, from the anti-Israel BDS movement driven by Muslim student organizations on university campuses, from the willful blindness toward Islam of multicultural elitists like Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and from the American left’s increasing embrace of Muslim politicians such as Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and activists like Sarsour. Seventy-five years or so after Allied forces liberated the survivors of Nazi concentration camps, Jew-hatred is back with a vengeance.
Of course, it never went away in the first place. It is always with us. Anti-Semitism is the world’s “oldest, most irrational evil,” as Canadian author and blogger Diane Bederman puts it, and in a powerful new book from Mantua Books titled The Serpent and the Red Thread, she tells its story in a stunning, affecting mix of fiction, history and myth. The book is peopled with characters ranging from Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul to Elie Wiesel and Adolph Hitler (whom she refers to as “hitler” – diminishing him by refusing to capitalize his last name).
Ms. Bederman, who also wrote Back to the Ethic: Reclaiming Western Values, which I previously reviewed for FrontPage Mag here, took time out to answer some questions about her new book for FrontPage Mag.
Mark Tapson:           Tell us about “the red thread” and why you chose to use it as the central motif in your book.
Diane Bederman:   While I was writing the book I heard about the red thread, a Chinese literary device that connects people through time. The thread can bend and twist, but never breaks.  I was writing about Jew haters through time. In Judaism, Amalek represents evil for he was the leader of a tribe who attacked the weakest of the Jews as they fled Egypt. Who can be more evil than one who attacks the weakest of all?  Sadly, there seems to be a pattern of Amaleks, a new one every generation; all connected to the first, through that red thread, that has never been broken. The serpent and his thread take us through 3000 years of Jewish prosecutions, persecutions, pogroms, inquisitions, expulsions ghettos and forced conversions leading to the Holocaust.
MT:     Hitler unsurprisingly plays a prominent role in the book. But other characters also serve as guides through your biography of evil, including biblical figures such as Jesus, Paul, Abraham and Sarah, and a young Elie Wiesel. Why did you decide on these characters?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Truth is No Defense


As the totalitarian left advances ever more successfully toward amending or abolishing freedom of speech, it is crucial to keep in mind that hand-in-hand with curtailing the speech of those who hold “incorrect” opinions comes the enforcement of Islamic blasphemy laws, the ulterior motive of which is to shield Islam from any criticism whatsoever. This has been the longstanding goal of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world’s largest Muslim collective, which has worked closely with leftist allies such as Hillary Clinton to promote and implement such censorship. This already has been largely embraced among the multiculturalist elites in Europe; think, for example, of today’s England, where jihadist stabbings are rampant but complaining about them in a tweet will earn you a visit and stern lecture from the police, if not actual arrest.
To grasp just how unacceptable it is to speak the truth about Islam in a multiculturalist society, read Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s jaw-dropping account of her legal ordeal in Austria, titled The Truth is No Defense, recently published by New English Review Press. Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff is an Austrian human rights and anti-sharia activist who, as the daughter of a diplomat and then later as an ambassador’s assistant, had extensive experience living and working in Muslim countries (she was even held hostage during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait). She came to the unfortunate conclusion that sharia and Western values aren’t compatible.
In 2009 she found herself charged with “hate speech” in Austria over factual statements she made during a seminar she gave on Islam. Thus began a Kafkaesque legal odyssey resulting in her conviction for “denigrating the teachings of a legally recognized religion” – i.e. Islam, of course, because can anyone imagine that someone would ever be convicted of denigrating Christianity? Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff subsequently took her appeal before the European Court for Human Rights, but Europe tragically has no First Amendment and therefore, “the truth is no defense” when it comes to critiquing Islam. “This is what totalitarianism looks like,” the Freedom Center’s own Robert Spencer has said of her miscarriage of justice (Spencer is one of more than half a dozen notable experts who present insightful analyses of her case at the book’s conclusion).
Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff was recently in Los Angeles promoting her book, and graciously made the time to answer some questions.
Mark Tapson:           You preface the book by juxtaposing the lives of two 9-year-old girls, “Emma” and “Aisha,” who might be very much alike except for the contrasting cultures in which they live: Western and Islamic. Why did you choose to begin the book this way?
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff:        I chose these two girls and their stories for one reason only: there are millions of Aishas in the Islamic world and millions of Emmas in the Western, non-Islamic world. We still have a choice: do we want the Emmas to turn into Aishas? Or do we protect the Emmas from a life as Aishas? My choice is clear. What is yours?
MT:     When did you first realize that, for the multiculturalist European elites who are determined to shield Islam from criticism, the truth is truly no defense?

The Google Archipelago


Back in January, 2018, I interviewed New York University professor Michael Rectenwald for FrontPage Mag (here) about his experience being outed as “the Deplorable Prof,” the man behind an anonymous Twitter account which he used to criticize the “anti-education and anti-intellectual” social justice ideology of his fellow leftist academics. The subsequent shunning and harassment he endured from his colleagues and the NYU administration drove Rectenwald to declare himself done with the Left, and he later published a book about it titled Springtime for Snowflakes: Social Justice and its Postmodern Parentage (which I reviewed for FrontPage Mag here). The book is a must-read for understanding the intellectual collapse of the American university under the weight of a totalitarian ideology.
Now the prolific Rectenwald has published another short but vital work, Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom from New English Review Press. In it he argues that what he calls the “Big Digital” technologies and their principals like Google represent a new form of corporate state power and leftist authoritarianism. The once-and-future Deplorable Prof agreed to answer a few questions about this dangerous development.
Mark Tapson:           Michael, thanks for taking time out for another interview. In Springtime for Snowflakes you exposed and combatted social justice totalitarians. How does your new book Google Archipelago follow from and expand upon the former one? What insights and/or experiences took you in that direction?
Michael Rectenwald:         Hi Mark. Thanks very much for conducting this interview. I’m particularly grateful that you’ve asked me, again, to write out my answers, because I believe that I’m a much better writer than speaker. 
Google Archipelago (hereafter GA) traces the metastasis of social ideology into the digital realm. It may be regarded as the second in a series of installments on social justice, a series that I began in Springtime for Snowflakes, and which I may continue in a third book, thus completing a trilogy.
The book represents a study of the vastly extended and magnified manifestation of the leftist authoritarian-totalitarian ideology as it expands into cyberspace, extends throughout the cyber-social body, and penetrates the deepest recesses of social and political life. In GA, I connect Big Digital's politics with its technologies. I argue and demonstrate that the technologies are intrinsically leftist and authoritarian. 
For reasons I give in the book, the only way to make sense of the politics of such organizations as Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al and how this politics is reflected in its technologies is to see Big Digital as the leading edge of an economic and governmental conglomeration that aims to monopolize human life on a global scale. Big Digital’s political ambition is to establish a two-tiered system consisting of global corporate-cum-state monopolies on top, with “actually-existing socialism” for everyone else. I call this two-tiered system “corporate socialism,” which I choose over the term “techno-feudalism,” used by others. I have very good reasons for adopting the name corporate socialism rather than techno-feudalism, not the least of which is the penchant of the monopolists for using socialist rhetoric and ideology in their attempts to bring the two-tiered system into existence. Corporate socialism aims to arrive at a singular, one-world state, with vast globalist monopolies controlling production. These monopolies would be paralleled by a socialism or equality of reduced expectations for everyone else. Unwary dupes like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez serve corporate socialists by habituating the masses to this state of affairs. The objectives of corporate socialism are ushered in under the guise of an economic and social equality, an equality of reduced expectations for the vast majority. The corporate socialists don't need equality; equality pertains strictly to the majority deemed destined to live under the reduced expectations of “actually-existing socialism” on the ground.
Ultimately, Big Digital attempts to replace reality with a digital simulation or simulations, simulacra posing as substitutes for reality—to introduce simulated and faux realities or simulacra that displace and replace the real. Forget fake news. Try fake reality. 
MT:     The title of your book obviously echoes Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. How are the social media of today, what you call Big Digital, imprisoning us in a sort of gulag of simulated realities?

Peter Collier, 1939-2019


Peter Collier – publisher, editor, bestselling author, and co-founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center – passed away on November 1, 2019 All Soul's Day – at the age of 80.
Peter Anthony Dale Collier was born June 2, 1939 in Los Angeles, California. Like his close friend and longtime writing partner David Horowitz, whom he met while both attended UC Berkeley, Collier began his intellectual life as a New Left radical. In 1966 he became an editor at Ramparts magazine, the Left’s most influential publication at the time, as did Horowitz two years later. Collier and Horowitz took over the magazine in 1969 and edited it until 1973, when they left to write a best-selling biography of the Rockefeller dynasty.
Called by the New York Times Book Review “the premier biographers of American dynastic tragedy,” Collier and Horowitz went on to write The Kennedys: An American Drama (1984), which was a number one New York Times bestseller. This was followed by The Fords: An American Epic (1987) and The Roosevelts: An American Saga (1994). On his own, Collier went on to write The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty, as well as a notable biography of Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, titled Political Woman.
In the mid-seventies, Collier and Horowitz both became disillusioned with the Left, an intellectually courageous, slow-motion odyssey the pair recorded in their 1989 bestseller Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties, which made them enemies of their former comrades. While Horowitz became the more public face of their apostasy, the more private Collier pursued an astonishingly prolific career as an author, publishing numerous bestsellers in genres ranging from politics to biographies to novels and screenplays, even short fiction.