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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Victor Davis Hanson at the Four Seasons

Once again I'll be introducing a speaker at a David Horowitz Freedom Center's Wednesday Morning Club event - this time the astute historian, agrarian, and political analyst Victor Davis Hanson, author of the new The Second World Wars, at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.

 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Was John Wayne’s Masculine Image a Lie?



There is perhaps no manlier icon in Hollywood history than John Wayne. More than 40 years after his last film, he remains the cinematic apotheosis of the rugged, principled, red-blooded, tough-as-nails, frontier-conquering, patriotic American male. Not even Steve McQueen or Clint Eastwood can measure up to The Duke. But was Wayne’s masculine image a sham, and even worse, an ideal that no man could ever live up to?
The Atlantic’s Stephen Metcalf would like you to think so. In his recent “How John Wayne Became a Hollow Masculine Icon,” Metcalf writes about Nancy Schoenberger’s book Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero, which explores the creative partnership of John Wayne and director John Ford. The dynamic duo made 23 pictures together, including Stagecoach (1939), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), which Metcalf concedes are among the best and most important Hollywood films ever made.
Schoenberger, an English professor at William & Mary, wrote that “the two men succeeded in defining an ideal of American masculinity that dominated for nearly half a century.” She argues that that masculine ideal “is still salvageable, honorable even,” writes Metcalf. “Stoic, humble, gallant, self-sufficient, loyal—put that way, who could disagree?”
Stephen Metcalf, that’s who. He claims that the oversensitive Ford, whom he implies was gay, “was terrified of his own feminine side, so he foisted a longed-for masculinity” on a supposedly reluctant Wayne, molding his hypermasculine image. Rather than be inspired by that image, Metcalf dismisses it contemptuously: “[M]asculinity (like the Western) is a by-product of nostalgia, a maudlin elegy for something that never existed—or worse, a masquerade that allows no man, not even John Wayne, to be comfortable in his own skin.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

‘Good Girls,’ Bad Boys, and Better Men



Ever since sexual harassment revelations about film producer Harvey Weinstein opened a floodgate for such scandals among the rich and powerful, some culture critics are suggesting that to eradicate such predatory behavior, we must raise boys to be more like girls.
Writing in “The Bad News on ‘Good Girls’” in last Friday’s New York Times, for example, contributor Jill Filipovic expressed frustration that, even though parents today claim they want their daughters to be strong and independent, there still exist “entrenched and often invisible gender biases” that nudge girls toward being “sweet and passive.” Meanwhile, boys are “raised to embrace risk-taking and aggression.” The result, she claims, is that women are socialized into staying home as mothers and homemakers, and men are encouraged to go out into the world and fill the roles of leaders and bosses.
Part of the reason for this, Filipovic says, is that “[g]irls are taught to protect themselves from predation, and they internalize the message that they are inherently vulnerable; boys move through the world not nearly as encumbered and certainly not seeing their own bodies as sources of weakness or objects for others’ desires.”
But the biological reality is that the weaker are inherently vulnerable to the stronger. Both girls and boys are vulnerable to predatory adults. The old are vulnerable to the young. Weaker boys are vulnerable to stronger boys. And yes, girls and women, generally speaking, are inherently vulnerable to boys or men who are, generally speaking, physically stronger and more aggressive. This is not simply a matter of how they are raised, although this certainly can be ameliorated to some extent by teaching girls from an early age how to defend themselves.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Threat Levels at Home and Abroad

I was honored recently to moderate a panel discussion on "Threat Levels Abroad" at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's annual Restoration Weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The panel featured Sultan Knish blogger Daniel Greenfield, classics historian Bruce Thornton, Henry Jackson Society director Alan Mendoza, and China expert Gordon Chang.

It was a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion. Check out the video below...


Monday, November 6, 2017

Lido Pimienta Thinks Racially Segregating Her Audiences Will Fight Racism?



The broadly-labeled “world music” or “world beat” musical genre was enormously popular from the late ‘80s through the late ‘90s and, for me as a musician, exciting and inspirational. Musicians from Mali to Croatia to Brazil found themselves collaborating with the biggest First World pop stars of the day to produce uniquely multicultural sounds. Peter Gabriel powered whole albums with African drumming and duets with singer Youssou N’Dour, a superstar in Africa and Europe. Paul Simon recorded a South African-influenced album with musicians from that country, and he and Michael Jackson also recorded separately with the Brazilian samba-reggae group Olodum (which I drummed with myself in Carnaval in the mid-90s). Sting, having soared to fame with a group that fused rock and reggae, toured with percussionists of African and Caribbean roots and scored a hit with Algerian singer Cheb Mami in “Desert Rose.” Audiences ate it up.
None of that would be possible today, or at least popular, because an ugly current of racial totalitarianism has taken hold among many young people who would condemn the Western artists for cultural appropriation. The opportunities for such musical blends to knit disparate audiences together are disappearing, replaced by a militant tribal defensiveness.
When musical artists mix genres and collaborate in a way that promotes unity rather than division, there is no faster way to break down barriers of race, nationality, and gender and move people beyond the barricades of politics. The exciting energy such a creative partnership can generate brings people together more quickly, harmoniously, and organically than any other artistic or activist endeavor.
Conversely, nothing is more certain to wedge people further apart than using a musical performance to sow division and perpetuate resentment in an audience that otherwise is primed to seek common ground.

Why I Am Not Raising My Daughters to be Feminists



Huffpost reported recently on a project created by photographers and partners Sham Hinchey and Marzia Messina called “Dear Daughters,” in which 22 men posed for artsy portraits with their daughters, ages 8 to 11, and chatted informally but a little awkwardly with them about feminism. As you might expect from Huffpost, a half-hour video of the process depicts mostly “woke” grade-schoolers and hipster dads showing off their feminist consciousness for the camera without a trace of a diverse viewpoint.
In the video, fathers and daughters play a board game Hinchey and Messina invented to encourage discussion. The game featured such questions as “What worries you about bringing up girls in a male chauvinist world?” and “Name a woman you admire” (almost all the girls named Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama) and “Name all the stereotypes you can think of about boys and girls.”
“[C]hildren of this age start asking questions regarding social issues and it is interesting to watch them process news, trying to rationalize and decipher events which in their minds are absurd or unjust,” Messina told HuffPost. Yes, but a ten-year-old isn’t likely to have the wisest or most informed perspective on what is absurd or unjust – many adults don’t have it, for that matter. At that age, children are largely parroting what they have heard from parents and other adult influences such as teachers, particularly on complex political issues such as wages and the environment.
When one parent in the video tries to explain the concept of abortion to his daughter, for example, he glosses over the ugly reality of it and declares that what the issue boils down to is, “There’s a bunch of men in a room trying to tell women, ‘If you get pregnant, you have to have that baby.’” His daughter responds, “That’s messed up.” What’s messed up is the way he steered her toward the Progressive lie instead of guiding her toward the truth.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

In Defense of Sending Thoughts and Prayers After a Tragedy



The world was horrified earlier this week by the nation’s deadliest mass shooting ever, in which 59 people were killed and over 500 wounded by a shooter who rained thousands of rounds down from his Las Vegas hotel room onto the defenseless audience of an open-air country music festival.
As with all such acts of mass murder or terrorism, social media teemed afterward with politicians, celebrities, and “ordinary” folk worldwide sending out the all-too-familiar chorus of “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. Many others dismissed such condolences as an empty gesture, declaring angrily that “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” that the government needs to take concrete actions to prevent further such atrocities. Political commentator Kirsten Powers even wrote in the Washington Post that “Politicians have managed to make a once benign, if not comforting, phrase sound almost profane.”
So, has this “once benign” offer of thoughts and prayers become overdone? Are we burnt out on this predictable, kneejerk response after every tragedy? Has sending thoughts and prayers become just a way for people, especially public figures, to signal their momentary concern and move on without having to actually do something?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Standing Tall for the National Anthem



While all his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates hid in the locker room rather than be put in the position of taking a stand on the protests currently sweeping the National Football League, one player stood apart and stood tall on Sunday for the playing of the national anthem.
The controversy, as everyone in the known universe is painfully aware now, was kicked off last year by former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began sitting or kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” at game time to protest the “oppression of people of color” in America. A slow trickle of other players gradually followed suit.
Last Friday, President Trump added fuel to the fire when he suggested at a rally in Alabama that any “son of a bitch” who “disrespects our flag” should be fired. This virtually guaranteed that many players who otherwise might not get involved would feel compelled to push back, and indeed, there was a surge of protests during last weekend’s games.
Members of both the Ravens and Jaguars, for example, took a knee while the national anthem was played ahead of their game in London. More than a dozen Cleveland Browns and at least ten Indianapolis Colts knelt before their contest. The Dallas Cowboys and their owners did likewise just before the anthem at their Monday night game. Thousands of spectators booed in each instance, and the hills were alive with the sound of countless fans at home collectively switching off their TVs in disgust.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Our Free Speech Crisis



The Land of the Free is facing a crisis of freedom. A new study from the University of California at Los Angeles polled 1,500 students at four-year universities about their views on free speech. The results are disheartening, to say the least.
Forty-four percent of the student respondents believe that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech.” Sixteen percent answered “don't know,” and only 39 percent answered correctly. Disturbingly, not even conservative students seemed to understand First Amendment protections: only 44 percent said that hate speech is protected, compared to 39 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Independents.
A stunning 51 percent of students thought that “shouting so that the audience cannot hear” was a valid tactic for opposing a controversial speaker. Violence as a means of shutting down a speaker was acceptable to 19 percent, or one out of five, of respondents.
“The majority of students appear to prefer an environment in which their institution is expected to create an environment that shelters them from offensive views,” the study concludes.
This is concerning for many reasons, but the most urgent one is that our culture has reached the point of hysteria about an imaginary tide of neo-Nazis threatening to turn America into the Fourth Reich. White supremacists – a discredited fringe of politically impotent, openly despised losers – suddenly loom large in our collective consciousness thanks to a relentless propaganda campaign, aided and abetted by the left-leaning press, to demonize President Donald Trump and right-wingers in general as literal Nazis.

Kate Millett’s Destructive Feminist Legacy



Feminist icon Kate Millett passed away recently in Paris at the age of 82. Obituary portraits and reminiscences of the author of Sexual Politics and other books ranged from respectful to reverential to “tongue-tied fangirldom.” But what has the legacy of her brand of feminism truly been?
Sexual Politics, Millett’s first book, traced the insidious ways she claimed that the “patriarchy” was institutionalized throughout the culture and kept women repressed, often unconsciously so. The “fundamental instrument” of patriarchy, she declared, was the family unit, which encouraged women to embrace their own conformity to the system. Real liberation was only possible by casting off the chains of a woman’s traditional role of wife and mother. Critic Irving Howe observed that the book displayed such little interest in children that it was as if it had been written by a female impersonator.
Called “the Bible of Women’s Liberation” by the New York Times, the 1970 book had a seismic effect on feminist thought and launched her as what the Times called “a defining architect of second-wave feminism.” In a cover story that same year, TIME magazine crowned her “the Mao Tse-tung of Women’s Liberation.” Fellow feminist Andrea Dworkin said that Millett woke up a sleeping world.
I am friends with Kate’s sister Mallory, whose perspective on her sibling gives some necessary insight into the true nature of the feminist vision. In a riveting article from a few years back bluntly titled, “Marxist Feminism’s Ruined Lives,” she shared what she saw of the subversive undercurrent of her sister’s passionate radicalism.