Wednesday, December 28, 2016

MTV’s Ridiculous New Year’s Resolutions for White Guys

For a network that has always either been, or striven to be, on the cutting edge of pop culture, MTV showed itself last week to be remarkably out-of-touch with the zeitgeist. Apparently the youth-oriented cable channel didn’t get the memo that there is a cultural backlash against political correctness in effect, and that half the country is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.
MTV released a stunningly tone-deaf PSA video Monday titled, “2017 New Years Resolutions for White Guys,” in which a gaggle of young people dispense insulting advice to “white guys” on how to “do a little bit better in 2017.” To the accompaniment of jaunty music designed to lighten the mood and make the offensive message more palatable, smug twenty-somethings lecture “white guys” about their presumed racism and sexism. 
The video goes off the rails right from the get-go when a young woman of color declares that “America was never ‘great’ for anyone who wasn't a white guy.” This is obviously a jab at President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” which resonated with those Americans who understand that this country has been a beacon of freedom and prosperity for countless millions of citizens and immigrants of all races and religions, whose lives were made immeasurably better here than wherever they left behind. This woman’s ignorance of that is a sad testament to the degree to which many young Americans have been indoctrinated over the decades to believe that their country is not history’s most successful melting pot, but rather a shameful bastion of white supremacy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mark on 'The Glazov Gang': The Left's War on Masculinity

My friend Jamie Glazov, editor of and host of The Glazov Gang, honored me with a "Tapson Moment" for the show. I took the opportunity to speak for a few minutes about the radical left's "War on Masculinity."

Please check it out and remember to subscribe to The Glazov Gang's YouTube Channel and please donate through their Pay Pal account or GoFundMe campaign to help The Glazov Gang keep going.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

No, Jerry Lewis’ Rude Interview Isn’t Funny

This week The Hollywood Reporter online posted “Creative Until You Die,” a series of interviews with ten legendary entertainers who are still going strong in their 90s. It included such beloved figures as Cloris Leachman, Don Rickles, and Dick Van Dyke. “Nine of the interviews went great,” THR stated. “One was a trainwreck.”
The trainwreck was a torturous, seven minute interview, if it can be called that, with comic icon Jerry Lewis. It consists entirely of Lewis glaring impatiently and defiantly at his off-screen interviewer Andy Lewis (no relation, hopefully) and spitting out terse non-answers as Andy struggled to get something from the man THR charitably called “the famously difficult comedian.”
Andy Lewis wrote that he had “a bad feeling” about how things would go the second he stepped into Jerry’s Las Vegas home. “He looked angry. I already knew Lewis' reputation for being difficult and acerbic with his audiences and in interviews. And he's a well-known control freak.”
“Throughout the photo shoot,” Andy continued,
Lewis complained about the amount of equipment in the house, the number of assistants and how the shots were set up. By the time we sat down for the interview about an hour later, Lewis had worked up a full head of steam, and it seemed like he was punishing THR by doing the interview but being as uncooperative as possible.
“Have you ever thought about retiring?” Andy began.
“Why?” Jerry shot back, unsmiling.
“Was there never a moment that you thought it might be time to retire or that you would –”
“Why?” Lewis interrupted forcefully. And the interview went downhill from there.

Monday, December 12, 2016

John Glenn, Rocket Man

American hero John Glenn slipped the surly bonds of Earth for the final time last Thursday in his home state of Ohio at the age of 95.
“John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio’s ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation.”
Long years and remarkable journeys indeed. Even before the native Ohioan joined NASA in 1959 and made history as the first American to orbit the earth in 1962, he was already a distinguished fighter pilot in both World War II, flying 59 missions, and the Korean War (90 missions), earning six Distinguished Flying Crosses and eighteen clusters to an Air Medal. After his historic space flight and work with NASA, he went on to serve as U.S. Senator from his home state for nearly 25 years, then once again made history by becoming the oldest human to go to space, at the age of 77.

Are We Overusing the Word ‘Hero’?

In the 1994 Robert Redford-directed Quiz Show, brilliant professor Charles Van Doren confesses in testimony before Congress that he had knowingly participated in the rigging of a TV game show which led to a shocking national scandal. The charming Van Doren, played by Ralph Fiennes, is so sincere and humble in his mea culpa that the investigative committee members are won over; one after another commends him for his “soul-searching fortitude” rather than holding him accountable for the deception he helped perpetrate against the American public.
That is, until one Congressman has the moral clarity to point out to Van Doren that “an adult of your intelligence should not be commended for simply and at long last telling the truth.”
I thought about this scene as I read a recent interview with actor Tom Hanks and director Clint Eastwood, who teamed up for Sully: Miracle On The Hudson. The movie is based on the real-life heroism of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who piloted a stricken passenger plane safely into New York's Hudson River in 2009, saving the lives of all 155 people onboard. (The film has already left theaters here in the States, but it opened in the UK this past weekend – hence the aforementioned recent interview on a British website.)
Eastwood said that Sullenberger deserves the label “hero” but that it has otherwise been devalued thanks to political correctness. “It's certainly different to when I grew up,” said Eastwood. “It's all in this sort of politically correct thing where everyone has to win a prize. All the little boys in the class have to go home with a first place trophy. The use of the word 'hero' is a little bit overdone but I don't think so in Sully's case. He went extra and beyond what was expected.”

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wednesday Morning Club: Victor Davis Hanson

I'm honored to introduce the indispensable classics historian and political analyst Victor Davis Hanson at the Horowitz Freedom Center's upcoming Wednesday Morning Club luncheon. The event takes place this Wednesday, December 7th, at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Details here.

Hanson's resume is too long to post here or anywhere without breaking the internet. Suffice it to say that if you aren't reading him regularly, you're missing out on a wise and unique perspective on politics informed by a deep understanding of history and literature.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Do Men Need Safe Spaces?

Imagine the howls of social justice outrage if a major university’s Men’s Studies Department (if that were even a thing) created a program for women to re-examine and deconstruct their toxic femininity, or if a White Studies Department (bear with me here) launched a program for blacks to rethink and dismantle their toxic blackness, or if the campus straight community hosted an event for LGBTs to reject their toxic sexuality, and so on. The architects of such offensive programs would be tarred and feathered.
A culturally acceptable version of these scenarios, however, is precisely what is beginning to spread on campuses across the country now. The Duke Men’s Project, launched this month and hosted by the Duke University Women’s Center, offers a nine-week program for “male-identified” students to address such “toxic” masculine issues as male privilege, patriarchy, the language of dominance, rape culture, pornography, and machismo.
One member of the Men’s Project leadership team said the goal is to create a safe space for male students in which to “critique and analyze their own masculinity and toxic masculinities to create healthier ones.” Another member of the leadership team said the program would help men “proactively deconstruct our masculinity.”
The Duke program is patterned after a similar one at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – co-sponsored and supported by the Carolina Women's Center – in which participants are asked to consider how masculinity plays a harmful influence in their lives. The goal of that program is “to shift the culture of masculinity toward more non-violent norms,” suggesting that violence is the norm among men.
On the other side of the country, at Claremont College last week, a group called 5Cs Thrive hosted a “Masculinity + Mental Health” event. “Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to perform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it,” say the workshop’s organizers, stating outright that masculinity is some sort of mental illness.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Palmer, Fernandez, and the American Dream

Over this tragic past weekend, the sports world lost two giant figures who, in different ways, represent extraordinary success stories of the American Dream.

The legendary Arnold Palmer passed away at 87 after an impossibly full life as one of the greatest icons in any sport, not only golf. In addition to being one of golf’s most accomplished champions, he earned a reputation as a class act, as admired and well-liked for his down-to-earth, gentlemanly demeanor as for his golfing skill. Palmer was noted, for example, for never refusing a fan his autograph nor asking to be paid for it.

I’m not a golfer but my late father was on the course nearly every weekend. He was an enormous fan of “Arnie,” as he and countless others called him – as if they were buddies, because Arnie was so personable and accessible that his millions of followers – “Arnie’s Army” – viewed him as a friend.

Two stories serve to capture Arnie’s kindness and humility, qualities too often overlooked and underappreciated in our era of oftentimes narcissistic and self-aggrandizing superstars.

In 2014 an avid, 18-year-old golfer and local tournament winner named Nate Marcoulier received a graduation gift from his older brother Adam. It was a letter from Arnold Palmer, whom Adam had written in the hope that the golfing icon would have some life advice for Nate. Both brothers were stunned when Palmer replied, congratulating Nate on his golf victories and telling him he would find life “enjoyable and fulfilling” if he followed this advice: 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stop Guilt-Tripping Boys About Their ‘Toxic Masculinity’

Last week a proud feminist single mom posted a piece in The Washington Post in which she shamed her 16- and 18-year-old sons for not taking a more proactive stand to combat rape and misogyny. For anyone who needs a guide on How Not to Turn Your Children Into the Social Justice Warriors You Desperately Want Them to Be, “My Teen Boys Are Blind to Rape Culture” is it.

Jody Allard is a Seattle-based writer on issues related to feminism, parenting, and social justice, who describes herself as a happily single mother of seven. In previous articles she has had no compunction about sharing very personal experiences such as surviving rape, her self-loathing over a malformed hand, three failed marriages, a son’s suicidal depression, and a husband’s emotionally lacerating infidelity. She also has no compunction about publicly embarrassing her sons by declaring them “part of the problem” of rape culture and by labeling at least one of them a “rape apologist” over his reasonable belief that accused rapists should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

In her most recent WaPo confessional, Ms. Allard is disturbed and frustrated that her two teen sons aren’t more active allies with her against what she insists is our rape culture. As I’ve written elsewhere, America doesn’t have a rape culture; we have a culture in which rape is considered a heinous crime and those convicted of it – and sometimes those merely accused of it – are viewed as monsters. Does this mean that rape is uncommon or that our legal system’s handling of such cases isn’t sometimes problematic? Not at all. Does this mean that our pop culture isn’t hyper-sexualized or that it doesn’t objectify women? Not at all. But if you want to see a rape culture, travel to rural areas in Afghanistan or Iran or India. There is no such equivalent here.

Jody Allard’s sons agree. They roll their eyes when she raises issues of rape, consent, and sexism at the dinner table. “There’s no such thing as rape culture,” one tells her. “You say everything is about rape culture or sexism.” Their mother’s sense of betrayal is palpable:

Men, Your Manliness is Macro-Aggressing the Earth

Just when you think the intellectual class has run out of ways to disparage and diminish masculinity, The Washington Post sank to a new nadir this week with a blog post rather comically titled, “Your manliness could be hurting the planet.” It reports on a study which concludes that men might be avoiding environmentally beneficial behavior because they associate it with femininity, which makes them insecure about their “gender identity.” So men who are reluctant to change their macho ways and embrace their feminine side are putting humankind and the planet at greater risk.

WaPo begins by pointing out that women generally are more environmentally conscious than men. They use less fuel and energy, eat less meat, and are more concerned about climate change. In fact, a 2011 survey found that 82 percent of adults, both men and women, believe “going green” is more ladylike than manly. Now University of Notre Dame business professor James Wilkie and his team have published a study which asserts that the male resistance to being more environmentally gung-ho may stem from this widely-held impression that green consciousness is a feminine thing. “As a result of this stereotype,” Wilkie concludes, “men may be motivated to avoid or even oppose green behaviors in order to safeguard their gender identity.”

The study shows, for example, that items designed to protect the planet, like reusable bags or “green” batteries, are perceived to be less manly than the alternatives. When presented with two versions of the same “green” car, men preferred the model called “Protection” to the “Eco-friendly” one. They even responded more favorably to environmental nonprofits with “masculine” logos – i.e., with darker colors and bold fonts —than to logos that displayed brighter tones and “frilly” letters.

“Stereotypical feminine behavior and attitudes are more in parallel with taking care of the environment,” Wilkie wrote. “Male traits tend to conflict with this idea of maintaining a nice environment for other people.” He blames the stereotype of environmentalists as tree-hugging hippies, scorned by more rugged men. He also noted that men face greater peer pressure for stepping outside gender norms. “If a man at a bar were to order a girlie drink, he might get some looks,” Wilkie said. “He might get some snickers. He might even get into a fight.” (He neglects to mention that a man who orders a girlie drink is more likely to get those looks and snickers from the women at the bar) On the other hand, if a woman orders a whiskey on the rocks, “some people might even be impressed.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rape and the Internet Vigilante Mob

Controversy has forced comedienne Amy Schumer to distance herself from a writer on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer who defended a fellow comedian against allegations of sexual misconduct. The writer criticized “internet vigilantes” for condemning the accused without any evidence, and now is himself being slammed as a “rape apologist.” The whole sordid affair is emblematic of the dangers of the social media mob mentality, particularly in a time of hyper-sensitivity to the pervasive conception that we inhabit a rape culture.

The controversy began when comedian Aaron Glaser apparently was banned recently from the famed improv theater Upright Citizens Brigade after an internal UCB investigation into allegations that he had raped one or more women. He spoke out about the incident, which he referred to as a “witch hunt,” in a now-deleted Facebook post: “I know these are serious accusations, and I know they are untrue.”

Glaser went on to write that UCB banned him based solely on the word of the women without providing him any details of the accusers or accusations or any opportunity to defend himself. UCB is “asking me to prove to them that I’m not a rapist,” he complained, and said he has now been banned from other comedy clubs, “not one of which contacted me to ask whether the allegations were untrue.” “I am being deemed a sexual predator,” he wrote, “and my life is being ruined by accusations, not findings.”

Amy Schumer got dragged into the issue when, in a subsequent series of hyperbolically sarcastic and angry Facebook and Twitter rants, her writer Kurt Metzger defended Glaser’s right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. The social media mob immediately swarmed, labeling him a “rape apologist” and urging Schumer to fire him. She washed her hands of it by declaring that though she was “saddened and disappointed” by his comments, he is not her writer anymore because her show is ending and “there are no writers.”

It is doubtful that Metzger’s profane ranting won any converts to his side; neither did his apparent history of misogynistic social media volleys, which The Daily Beast detailed. In a Facebook post, he later apologized for using inflammatory language and stressed that he was not being dismissive of actual victims of sexual assault. “I was talking to the perennial social media mob who, without knowing victim or accused, GLEEFULLY want to be part of social mob justice.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Donald Trump and American Masculinity

Love him or hate him – and he refuses to give us any other option – presidential candidate Donald Trump has become the embodiment of whatever extreme we feel we need to impose on him: deliverance or damnation, freedom or fascism, truth or, well, trumpery. The media, confounded by his political popularity, are obsessed with coming to grips with The Meaning of Trump. He is the culmination of reality TV culture, goes one interpretation, or the harbinger of the end of democracy, or the apotheosis of America’s supposedly racist underbelly. In the latest unflattering analysis, The Atlantic’s James Hamblin declares that what The Donald really represents is the apex of American masculinity – only not in a good way.

“Trump is both a product of a masculine culture and a beneficiary of its musky tenets,” states Hamblin. He doesn’t feel the need to define the notion of a “masculine culture” (or a “musky tenet,” for that matter); he simply considers it a given that we live in one, that it is a problem, that Donald Trump is the “climax” of it, and that we need to “stop valuing it, stop accepting it.”

Hamblin continues:

Masculine culture is both a reason that Trump does what he does and a reason that people accept and trust it. His classical brand of masculinity becomes toxic and feeds tribalism and violence and entitlement among his followers—those who prefer fighting to talking, walls to bridges, grimaces to smiles.

Of course, it is anti-Trump protesters – not his supporters – who are guilty of a disturbing degree of tribalism, violence, and entitlement at Trump rallies throughout the country. But that is an inconvenient truth for Hamblin, who displays a racist, sexist, elitist contempt for the “white men without a degree” whose “classical brand of masculinity” he declares “toxic.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

Are Male Superheroes on the Way Out?

Screenrant recently declared that this year “is shaping up to be a breakout year for female heroes (and villains) of every sort.” The online magazine profiled “15 Characters Who Will Make 2016 the Year of the Female Superhero,” including such popular figures from the comics as Harley Quinn, Scarlet Witch, and Supergirl. That’s fifteen this year alone – superheroines who are taking the cinematic wheel and forcing the male Old Guard like Batman and Superman to take a back seat. What does such a role reversal mean? Is it just a temporary trend or are we witnessing a cultural shift in our perception of heroism? And why does it matter? 

In recent decades Hollywood has increasingly presented strong female characters who can hold their own in action flicks, thrillers, and sci-fi epics. The dramatic difference now, though, is that Hollywood feels the time is right to give such characters their own movies, bucking the traditional wisdom that female leads can’t put enough people in cinema seats. Whether that risk will pay off financially remains to be seen, but in any case, the sense is that the culture is ripe for women to step into butt-kicking heroic movie roles that once belonged entirely to men.

It’s not that male superheroes are in danger of becoming extinct. There is no shortage of them already, and Marvel seems to pluck more out of its bottomless magician’s hat at will. But their female counterparts are now poised for world domination. Oscar winner Brie Larson, for example, will play Captain Marvel, the first superheroine to headline a Marvel Studios film, in a flick that may actually be directed by the first woman to direct a superhero movie. Wonder Woman is finally set to break out on her own next year in a highly-anticipated film. The President of Marvel Studios has revealed that, of all the previously minor Marvel characters who are likely to get their own films in the coming decade, the studio is “most emotionally and creatively committed” to one starring Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. And although The Rocketeer was not technically a superhero, Disney is planning a sequel to the 1991 film which starred Billy Campbell; but in the follow-up, to be called The Rocketeers, the jet pack-wearing pilot this time will be an African-American female.

Meanwhile the more traditional superheroes don’t seem to know what to do with themselves anymore. They’ve been reduced to battling each other, as in Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as often as they fight their evil nemeses. Many consider Wonder Woman’s debut in that latter film to be the movie’s high point. And in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth’s Norse god has even shorn his long locks; is it too much of a stretch to suggest that this is symbolic of how the rise of superheroines is draining him and his cohorts of their power, a là Samson at the hands of Delilah?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Where is the Civility in Political Journalism?

At the beginning of the Republican National Convention last week, NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer confronted presidential nominee Donald Trump about dialing down the intensity of the passions percolating at the event. “Would you be willing to make a pledge to speak to everyone involved in this convention and say, ‘Please tone down the rhetoric’?” Lauer urged. “Can you say to the people who are going to take to that podium this week, ‘No personal attacks, no vitriol, keep it civil’?”

The irony there is that political journalists themselves, Lauer included, have become as inflammatory as the politicians they lecture about incivility. In the aftermath of last month’s Orlando terrorist massacre at a gay nightclub, for example, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper badgered the increasingly offended Attorney General of Florida interminably about her stance on gay marriage. More recently, Fox News’ Shepherd Smith berated Gov. Bobby Jindal for using the “divisive” phrase “All lives matter.” CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who wears her biases as openly as her keffiyeh, hammered away contentiously at British MP Daniel Hannan for nine minutes over the recent Brexit vote.

Then there are the battles royal among the ubiquitous panels of TV pundits. Geraldo Rivera, who is as responsible for creating this toxic atmosphere as anyone, nearly came to blows on-camera last year with The Five co-host Eric Bolling. Don’t forget the mean-spirited partisan commentary from purported political comedians like Joy Behar, Jon Stewart, and Bill Maher. Some of it may entertain, but none of it enlightens and all of it divides.

This is not a new development. Already by 1996, twenty years ago, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin pointed out in a keynote address that across America and the world, “no one questions the premise that political debate has become too extreme, too confrontational, too coarse.” In 1999 law professor Stephen Carter complained in his book Civility that Americans were losing the ability to debate respectfully.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Superheroes and the ‘Cult of American Hyper-Masculinity’

Exactly 28 years ago last Friday, Die Hard premiered in theaters and set the standard for action films thereafter. Part of its success derived from Bruce Willis’ brash, wise-cracking, quintessentially American character – the perfect foil to the late Alan Rickman’s suave Eurovillain – and partly for that reason, Die Hard is still my favorite action film. That’s why I was so disappointed to read that its director John McTiernan recently spewed some anti-American nonsense about another quintessentially American film hero in an interview for the French film magazine Premiere.

In response to a question about the recent decline in quality of “action cinema,” McTiernan derided Hollywood comic book adaptations like the Marvel and DC Comics franchises as mere “corporate products… made by fascists.” They’re populated by cartoon characters, not real people, he complained. “There is action but not of human beings,” he said dismissively (in translation). “Comic book heroes are for businesses.”

“You find that the big studios poison action cinema with ideology?” the interviewer asked, and McTiernan went off. “I hate most movies for political reasons,” he responded. “I cannot really see them. I'm pissed off the minute it starts.” He cannot watch a movie like Captain America, he says, “without laughing,” because

the cult of American hyper-masculinity is one of the worst things that has happened in the world during the last fifty years. Hundreds of thousands of people died because of this stupid illusion. So how is it possible to watch a movie called Captain America?

“I’m incapable of watching [such movies] calmly,” he concluded, and the politically like-minded interviewer reluctantly moved on.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

Is There a Right Way to be a Boy?

The Huffington Post recently posted a photo series from a project called #ABoyCanToo, portraits of boys who pursue interests traditionally associated with girls. The article, titled, “13 Empowering Photos Show There’s No Right Way to Be a Boy,” praises the project for “shining a light on kids who don’t let gender norms prevent them from following their dreams.”
The photographer behind the collection, Canadian mom Kirsten McGoey, told HuffPost that she drew inspiration from her own three sons, especially the 8-year-old middle child, whose favorite activities are singing, acting, ballet and tap-dancing. “He loves sparkles, pink, rainbows, reading, and has never been concerned if something was ‘boy’ or ‘girl,’” she gushes.
McGoey has photographed 17 boys, her own among them, whose passions range from baking to reading books to dancing onstage to wearing hoop skirts. “Our little boy loves to do his hair with all sorts of hair accessories,” reads a proud parent’s caption under one of the photos. “He was born to dance and take flight,” reads another. “Our stage loving boy… simply lights up when the lights go down and the spotlights turn on,” says a third. The lesson McGoey has learned from her photo subjects, the message she wants to convey, is that their interests may be unconventional but they enable the boys to feel they are talented at something and are valued.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, and there is no need for traditionally-minded parents like myself to freak out. Young children are curious and should be encouraged to explore what interests them – that’s how they learn best – even if that interest ultimately fizzles out, as it often does. Sometimes what seems to be a kid’s passion ends up simply being a phase. When I was six I wanted to grow up to be, simultaneously, an astronomer and an archaeologist; needless to say, neither pursuit went anywhere, for which I’m relieved. My 6-year-old daughter used to be a tomboy and wanted to be the first female winner of American Ninja Warrior, and I encouraged that interest. Now she’s very feminine and wants to be, simultaneously, an architect and a doctor, and I’m encouraging those passions as well; but that doesn’t mean she is destined to become either one (although perhaps she is; time will tell).

The War on Cops

There is no more important book to read right now than Heather Mac Donald’s clear-eyed, riveting new work The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. You cannot fully get to the core of the truth about the current anti-cop sentiment in the country, or be armed with the facts to shoot down Black Lives Matter lies without reading it. If you can get a copy, that is – demand is so great that there is currently a one-to-two month wait for it on Don’t wait – get the ebook.
In case you haven’t already been following everything Mac Donald writes, she is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Her writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, The New Republic, Partisan Review, The New Criterion, and elsewhere.
She is the recipient of the New Jersey State Law Enforcement Officers Association’s 2004 Civilian Valor Award, the 2008 Integrity in Journalism award from the New York State Shields, the 2008 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration from the Center for Immigration Studies, and the 2012 Quill & Badge Award for Excellence in Communication from the International Union of Police Associations. In other words, unlike the legion of talking heads in the news media pontificating about the racism in American law enforcement, Heather Mac Donald has actually done the journalistic legwork, is qualified to discuss the subject, and is bold enough to speak the truth about it.
The War on Cops begins by noting that crime is skyrocketing in cities across the United States as “the most anti-law-enforcement administration in memory draws to a close.” This isn’t, however, “the greatest danger in today’s war on cops. The greatest danger lies, rather, in the delegitimization of law and order itself.” If we don’t begin to counter the present lies about law enforcement propagated by the Black Lives Matter movement and facilitated by a complicit media and by the “academic victimology industry,” Mac Donald concludes, civilized urban life will break down – which we are already beginning to witness.
Ms. Mac Donald took time out to answer a few questions about crime, terrorism, and the recent Dallas cop shooting for FrontPage Mag.

Tim McGraw’s ‘Humble and Kind’ Movement

I’m not especially a fan of country music, although I do respect the genre for being song-oriented, for telling stories about real human emotions, and for featuring performers who can actually play, sing, and write – all of which is too often absent from the sampled beats and profane braggadocio that pass for music and lyrics in contemporary Top 40. So it took a friend to introduce me to a touching song performed by superstar Tim McGraw that not only was a number one hit this year, but that is inspiring a groundswell of unusual activism among its fans.

The single “Humble and Kind,” written by singer/songwriter Lori McKenna, was released on January 20 off McGraw's album Damn Country Music and went on to reach number one on the country music charts in both the United States and Canada. The song’s video, featuring affecting imagery from Oprah Winfrey’s documentary Belief, won “Video of the Year” at the 2016 CMT Music Awards.

In the lyrics, McGraw offers some parental life advice to a child departing for college – and in fact, his own daughter Gracie, who recently journeyed off to school herself, was in the forefront of his mind when he recorded the song. The sentiment was genuine. “I cried through every take,” he admitted. “It certainly is a letter to your kids in a lot of ways.” McKenna, too, said she had her own five children in mind when she wrote it.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Wednesday Morning Club: Heather Mac Donald

On Wednesday, July 20, the David Horowitz Freedom Center will be hosting a Wednesday Morning Club event featuring Heather Mac Donald, author of the indispensable new book The War on Cops: How the New War on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. There couldn't be a timelier book or a more clear-eyed truth-teller on the topic.

I'm honored to introduce Ms. Mac Donald at the event, which will be held at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. For more information, click here.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Does Character Matter Anymore in Politics?

The 2016 presidential election seems headed toward a showdown between the two least-liked presidential candidates since American voters have been polled on the question – and with good reason. One is a vindictive, politically ruthless, unrepentant liar; the other is an egomaniacal, boorish, bullying braggart. Neither one even bothers to pay lip service to the values of honesty, integrity, humility, and moral courage, and yet somehow this distasteful duo has emerged from the campaign battle royal as the presumptive party nominees.
What does this say about personal character in American politics today? Does character in politics matter any longer, or are principles now just hindrances to winning elections? After Nixon and Watergate, and certainly after the scandals of Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill in the 1990s, are we cynically resigned to a political culture that dismisses moral exemplars as suckers and losers instead of role models and leaders?
This isn’t an entirely new development. History is littered with examples of leaders of dubious character or worse. Many people enter the political arena with a genuine commitment to civil service or a passion to change the world, but politics has always attracted a disproportionate share of scoundrels with a bottomless lust for power and self-aggrandizement. The difference is that now we seem to be accepting, if not actually embracing, the latter.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Antidote to Toxic Masculinity

The recent slaughter of nearly 50 people in an Orlando gay bar is now the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and as such it has ratcheted up our national conversation about guns and terrorism into a frenzied crosstalk about whom and what to blame: Islam? The NRA? Homophobia? Salon’s Amanda Marcotte believes it can all be explained by “toxic masculinity.”

Toxic masculinity is a concept from the men’s movement that feminists like Marcotte have pounced on to explain the root cause of all violent male misbehavior from gay-bashing to domestic violence to terrorism. “It is a specific model of manhood,” she writes, “geared towards dominance and control. It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world.”

I don’t dispute that the notion of toxic masculinity applies to many men. But Marcotte, heavy on sneering and light on facts, uses the concept to rope such losers together with her favorite target – Republican male gun owners, whom she dismisses as posturing and insecure bullies – and to make them responsible for mass shootings with such varied motives as mental illness, workplace violence, and Islamic terrorism: “[T]his persistent pressure to constantly be proving manhood and warding off anything considered feminine or emasculating is the main reason why we have so many damn shootings in the United States.”

Marcotte goes on in that vein – and on and on: “Being able to stockpile weapons and have ever bigger and scarier-looking guns is straightforward and undeniable overcompensation [sic] insecure men, trying to prove what manly men they are.” We need a society, she says, “with more dancing and less waving guns around while talking about what a manly man you imagine yourself to be.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Evening Reception and Talk with Daniel Greenfield

I'm proud to introduce my friend Daniel Greenfield of the Sultan Knish blog at this event tonight in L.A.

Honor and the Brock Turner Rape Case

The internet has been afire lately with the shocking story of the rape of a young woman by a Stanford University athlete, and the subsequent slap on the wrist he received from the judge in the case. Apart from the pain and injustice suffered by the victim, at the heart of this story is a failure of male honor.

In January 2015 two passing students spotted Brock Turner, 20, behind a dumpster outside a Stanford frat house, raping a young woman passed out from drinking. He tried to flee but the students tackled him and held him for the police. Brock eventually was given a six-month sentence and probation, a lightweight punishment that sparked an explosion of online protest, particularly after the victim herself posted online a devastating statement that went viral about the rape and its effect on her.

Prior to the sentencing, Brock’s father wrote a letter to Judge Aaron Persky attesting to his son’s character and sincere remorse. The father referred to the rape as “the events” of that night, and does not mention Brock’s victim at all. He begs the judge not to ruin the boy’s promising future over what he called, in stunningly tone-deaf phrasing, “20 minutes of action.” He apparently did not consider how those 20 minutes irrevocably altered the victim’s future as well.

Brock’s mother also wrote a plea for mercy to the judge. Not one of her nearly 3500 words refers to the crime or Brock’s victim. It’s as if Brock’s family was simply struck one day with undeserved misfortune that affected no one else. In fact, to read both these letters, one would think that Brock himself was the victim – the victim of a guilty verdict. His parents seem wholly detached from any sympathy for the actual victim of their son’s assault. I understand that the intent of their letters was to shift the focus from the crime to their son’s positive qualities, but they gave no indication that they believe Brock should bear any responsibility for such an ugly act.

Even more disturbing is the reaction of Brock himself, who tried in his own desperate statement to the judge to place the blame on peer pressure and Stanford’s “party culture,” which he promised to devote himself to spreading awareness about. “I want to take what I can from who I was before this situation happened,” he said [emphasis added]. “I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Platitudes and Hashtags Won’t Stop Terrorism

Once again, international landmarks are lit up brightly in solidarity with victims of Islamic barbarism, and social media are festooned with hashtags of sympathy for the butchered. Enough. Such safe and easy displays are well-meaning but they serve little purpose beyond making us feel good about our compassion; then we settle back into being comfortably numb (pace Pink Floyd) about the ongoing threat until the next time dozens are killed. It’s long past time we broke the cycle of mourning our dead and started taking concrete actions to prevent more fatalities.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the social media slogan “Je Suis Charlie” went viral. After the ghastly Paris attacks last November, Facebook supporters swathed their profile pics in the French flag. The victims of the San Bernardino jihadist assault in December got short shrift because the city unfortunately doesn’t have a flag to make virtue-signaling convenient. But after the Brussels slaughter in March, the French tricoleur was swapped out for Belgium’s black, yellow, and red. Now that fifty Orlando gay clubgoers are dead and another fifty+ wounded, rainbows abound.
These are the touching but ultimately empty gestures of a culture that is already resigned to losing the clash of civilizations. They will do nothing to save lives the next time around – and there will continue to be many more “next times” throughout the West until we say no more, until we refuse to accept that suffering terrorist savagery is our new normal. We must reverse our mindset, think like conquerors instead of the conquered, and deal aggressively with the source of all this misery: Islam.
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the calls to fight this relentless evil with love were legion. Shark Tank co-host Robert Herjavec’s tweet exemplifies their sincere but impotent heartache: “There are just no words,” he wrote. “Nothing seems appropriate enough. Just choose Love. Love Wins #PrayersForOrlando” With all due respect to Herjavec, my favorite TV entrepreneur, choosing love isn’t enough when someone else has chosen to kill you. In the face of such a merciless enemy, it is not love we must choose but life, and we do that by choosing not to be a victim, by choosing to fight back, by choosing to kill if necessary. Choosing life by taking another’s may seem like a contradiction or hypocrisy to the morally confused, but that is often the choice we are given in the eternal clash of good and evil. And if we are unwilling and unprepared to make that choice, the enemy will make it for us.
Big Government harpy Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted a similarly high-minded message. “That’s the message of Pride,” she wrote. “That’s who we are. That’s how we’ll defeat hate, & how we protect America.” She closed with the meaningless hashtag “#loveislove,” a bland sentiment that is sure to soften the stony hearts of ISIS killers, if only they would take a break from videotaping gruesome snuff films long enough to read Warren’s Twitter feed. Sorry, Fauxcahontas, we will not defeat “hate” and protect America through pride; it’s going to take going to war with fundamentalist Islam, and that’s a bridge too far for leftists who are already locked into what David Horowitz calls an unholy alliance with radical Islam.
For some reason Nashville Mayor Megan Barry felt compelled to issue a similar statement about the Orlando massacre. She momentarily hit the right note, calling the killings “pure evil”; but then she kicked the legs out from under that assertion with this vomit-inducing solution: “We must meet that evil with an overwhelming show of love.” No, we must meet evil with an overwhelming show of righteous force.
The cast of the Tony-winning historical musical Hamilton symbolically acknowledged the Orlando terrorism by performing that Sunday evening without muskets – a pathetic misfire of a gesture which did not target jihad at all but rather steered the issue toward the left’s foremost obsession (well, second only to transgender bathrooms): gun confiscation.
Speaking of Tonys, host James Corden opened Sunday night’s Tony Awards in New York City with a somber announcement about “the horrific events” in Orlando (Islam was never mentioned, of course, nor was the word “terrorism”). “Your tragedy is our tragedy,” he intoned, referring to the audience behind him who apparently were so traumatized by the Orlando atrocity that they could find healing only by attending a black tie event of Broadway theater entertainment. “Hate will never win,” Corden promised, to an explosion of applause.
I have news for Mr. Corden and everyone on Twitter who feels that an abundance of #LoveWins hashtags will somehow crush ISIS: jihadist hate most certainly will win if we, all of us, don’t drop the mushy platitudes and begin fighting in a very literal sense for our lives, our families, our country, and our civilization.
The very first step is for all of us, from our leadership on down, to acknowledge that the root cause of all this butchery is Islam – not the AR-15, not the NRA, not “easy access to guns,” not colonialism, not “Islamophobia,” not the alienation of Muslims from society, not global warming, not poverty, not the Tea Party, not “a tiny minority of extremists,” not the Israeli “occupation” of “Palestine,” not some amorphous “hate,” but the racist, violent, theocratic, supremacist ideology of Islam. Our leaders from the White House on down must be unafraid to state that the world has a jihad problem, and to express a determination of Churchillian magnitude to defeat it.
Beyond that, there are some glaringly obvious concrete steps we must take. In no particular order, here are a few for a good start: vote the radical left and RINOs out of office; fight to your last breath for your 1st and 2nd Amendment rights; marginalize or better yet shut down all the Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups, whose mission is to destroy us from within – from CAIR to the Islamic Society of North America to the Muslim Students Association and all the rest; shut down imams who foster radicalism; get serious about our borders and our immigration policies; make a thorough housecleaning of every security-sensitive position from Homeland Security to airport baggage handling; lay merciless waste to ISIS.
Don’t get me wrong. Gestures of solidarity can be psychologically empowering, though it’s doubtful they will demoralize the fanatical enemy we are facing. Hashtags, as silly as they often are, can spread awareness. The power of love is unquestionably transformative. But love can change only one willing soul at a time; it cannot in one fell swoop erase the cruelty and hatred from the hearts of ISIS or from generations of fundamentalist Muslims brainwashed to love death more than life and to despise infidels with a murderous fury. Changing the enemy through love sounds beautiful but in reality is an incremental – sometimes even generational – process and not a strategy to reverse the tide of evil now
Mourning the victims of violent jihad brings us all together as Americans. Enough. Now it’s time that we are just as united by our resolve to eradicate this scourge.
From FrontPage Magazine, 6/14/16