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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Husbands Are Not the Enemy



In the wake of a cascade of articles from The New York Times celebrating January’s Women’s March as a stirring symbol of feminist empowerment – as demonstrated by pussy hats, profane placards, unhinged celebrity poetry, and the rejection of pro-life women – that same paper hit a new low in the blatant bashing of American manhood. 

The Times’ Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed recently with the outrageous title “Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists” in which he compared the relative risks to Americans of “two critical issues: refugees and guns.” He concluded, predictably, that terrorists slipping in among an influx of refugees are a negligible threat, while guns are the pestilential scourge of our time.

His intention was to delegitimize President Trump’s “morally repugnant” temporary travel ban on seven Middle Eastern states linked to terrorism by arguing that statistically, “ladders kill far more Americans than Muslim terrorists do. Same with bathtubs. Ditto for stairs. And lightning.”

This is hardly a convincing argument for shrugging off the threat of terrorism. Yes of course, lots of things kill more Americans annually than terrorists do (especially if you rule out the 9/11 attacks, which those like Kristof who wish to diminish the threat always do): car accidents, cancer, crack cocaine, for example. But we have a healthy respect for all those dangers and take every possible precaution to diminish them; likewise, we should take any and every measure to stem terrorism. It’s illogical and irresponsible to say that terrorism is a manageable threat just because drunk drivers kill more of us. No one argues, for example, that we shouldn’t do everything in our power to prevent home fires just because diabetes takes more lives.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Brave New World of Publishing’s ‘Sensitivity Readers’



Nothing so surely kills artistic expression and the free spirit of the imagination as political dogma. When politics hijacks art the result is propaganda – a blunt instrument of control instead of a vehicle for transcendance.
The Chicago Tribune reports that book publishers have begun making increasing use of so-called “sensitivity readers” to examine manuscripts and to offer feedback in terms of any racist, sexist or otherwise offensive content. Such readers sometimes specialize in areas of expertise that an author might lack, such as “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities within families,” or “transgender issues.”
“The industry recognizes this is a real concern,” said Cheryl Klein, an editor at Lee & Low Books. It’s a concern because, thanks to the politically correct crime of “cultural appropriation,” novelists today are under unprecedented pressure to avoid potential stereotypes and create more “authentic” characters from “marginalized groups” – especially when the author is not a part of that group.
Last year, for example, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling was savaged by Native American readers and scholars for her story called “History of Magic in North America,” which they claim she portrayed Navajo traditions in a way that “perpetuates colonialist perspectives” and “appropriates and erases Native American culture,” as Salon put it. Similarly, young adult author Veronica Roth, author of the bestselling Divergent, caught heat for her new novel Carve the Mark, which was called not only racist but “ableist.”
Dhonielle Clayton, a New York sensitivity reader, told the Tribune,
“Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they're supposed to be escapist and fun. They're not supposed to be a place where readers encounter harmful versions and stereotypes of people like them… [U]ntil publishing is equitable and people are still writing cross-culturally, sensitivity reading is going to be another layer of what's necessary in order to make sure that representation is good.”
Stacy Whitman, an editorial director at Lee & Low, concurs: “Everyone's goal is a better book, and better representation contributes to that.”
But does it make a better book? Is this process shaping better writers or just politically straitjacketed ones?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What David Beckham Could Learn From Tim Tebow About Humility



Sports reveals character, it’s often said, but sometimes an athlete’s off-the-field actions can be even more revealing – and not always for the better.
Last weekend the Tim Tebow Foundation put on its annual Night to Shine prom experience for a whopping 75,000 people at 350 churches in 50 states and 11 countries. The event is for people ages 14 and older with special needs. “The Night to Shine movement is more than just a prom,” said Tebow. “It is a night where people with special needs shine and they are told that they matter, that they are important and that God has a plan for their life!”
In a promotional video, the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback (and now a Mets outfielder) Tebow is shown flying to Haiti to kick off this year’s celebration and dance with some of the special needs kids before jetting off to other Night to Shine locations. “I love these kids and celebrate them,” Tebow says of the Haitian children, and you believe him.
Love him or hate him – and wearing his Christianity on his sleeve has earned him many from both camps – it’s difficult to doubt Tebow’s sincerity or joyful commitment to charitable works. In fact, Tebow is better known for his unusually forthright Christianity than his on-the-field achievements. And he almost certainly would prefer it that way. One gets the impression that he is unimpressed by his own celebrity status but uses it to serve others.
Speaking of status, very few former athletes have achieved the degree of celebrity of David Beckham. One of soccer’s all-time greats (though many would consider him a better ambassador for the sport than a player), Becks nonetheless is far more widely-known as an influential style icon and Spice Girl husband with a net worth of upwards of $350 million.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Be Like Library Man



A cellphone video recently uploaded to YouTube, which has been viewed over 750,000 times as of this writing, proves that heroes don’t always wear capes. Sometimes they come in button-down shirts and nerdy eyeglasses.
The video opens on a band of University of Washington student protesters gathered in the school library, reportedly about an hour after President Donald Trump’s inauguration earlier this month. Led by a woman wielding a megaphone (as if one were necessary in the quiet space) they begin chanting, 
“Who’s got the power?” “We’ve got the power!” “What kind of power?” “Equal power!”
A little uninspired as chants go, but anyway, just as the wannabe revolutionaries are finding their groove, we hear a lone voice off-camera shouting for their attention. The camera pans to a studious-looking, young Asian gentleman in button-down shirt and glasses, glaring at them in disapproval. “Hey… hey ... HEY!” he interrupts. The protesters, probably unaccustomed to being shushed, quiet down in confusion.
“This is library!” he scolds in accented English. Then he stalks away with a stern backward glance, clearly because he has work to do and no more time to waste on this motley crew. The protesters are left in stunned silence, although one woman among them lobs a feeble comment at his back suggesting something about him going back to Beijing – not a very inclusive or multicultural comment for a college protester demanding equality.
It's unclear if the young man actually works at the library, simply wanted to study in peace and quiet, or felt compelled to reprimand the protesters on behalf of others who were there to study, but in any case he swiftly became the subject of internet memes; the funniest is a video where he is Photoshopped into the famous scene from the movie 300 in which King Leonidas roars “This… is… Sparta!” before booting a Persian enemy into the abyss.