Thursday, January 31, 2019

Apeshit at the Louvre

As 2018 drew to a close, The Washington Post published an arts-and-entertainment piece titled, “To understand culture in 2018, you must understand Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson.” Considering that Grande is a Grammy-winning but ultimately forgettable pop singer and Davidson is another in a decades-long line of ultimately forgettable Saturday Night Live comedians, the assertion that they are the key to understanding culture in America today says something significant about our culture, and it isn’t good.
The WaPo article argued that Grande and Davidson happened to be linked, albeit coincidentally, to certain trending topics in 2018, such as the #MeToo movement and mental health issues. But this is less insightful than the assumption of the article itself, which is that the state of our culture can be charted by Things That Happen to Celebrities. Celebrity – a shallow, transitory degree of fame – has dominated American culture for so long that we now simply conflate the two. Pop culture is American culture, and has been for over fifty years. For most people from the Baby Boomer generation on down, what used to be called – without irony or sarcasm – “high culture” has faded into irrelevance at best and oblivion at worst.
“A high culture,” writes philosopher Roger Scruton, “is the self-consciousness of a society. It contains the works of art, literature, scholarship and philosophy that establish a shared frame of reference among educated people.” As our educational system has gradually shifted from transmitting that culture to our youth, to focusing instead on boosting self-esteem and preaching about tolerance and diversity, fewer and fewer people share that frame of reference. The memes and ephemeralities of pop culture have become our shared frame of reference, and the wisdom and insight of the classics are increasingly lost.
Is this going to be just another elitist condemnation of “low” culture, you ask? To some extent, yes. Much of pop culture – not all, but arguably the vast majority – is brainless vulgarity and dispiriting ugliness, and our humanity is suffering for it. We could use a bracing dose of elitism.
I am not calling for a total rejection of pop culture. It is certainly possible to appreciate both high and low cultures. I was a child of pop culture myself, raised not on Michelangelo, Mozart, and Milton, but on The Beatles, Batman, and Bewitched. But I was lucky enough to have been educated and/or educated myself about Western civilization’s astounding intellectual and artistic heritage before our universities became full-time indoctrination mills promoting anti-Western multiculturalism and reducing the entire field of humanities to the Marxist obsession with race and gender power struggles.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Exterminating Whitey

In case anyone still needs confirmation, the rage and frenzy surrounding the supposed standoff caught on video last week between Covington Catholic High School students and an anti-Catholic, Native American activist demonstrates as nothing else has lately that the political left’s primary aim, the end game of identity politics, is the demonization of white Christian men.
Covington student Nicholas Sandmann (pictured above) was the unfortunate epicenter of this tempest-in-a-teapot concocted entirely by the activist media, in which he and his classmates were falsely portrayed as racist bullies surrounding and taunting a frail Native American “elder,” Nathan Phillips. The truth – that it was the schoolboys who were verbally assaulted by Black Hebrew Israelite activists, and that Sandmann did and said nothing but stand his ground and smile in the face of Phillips’ provocation – swiftly came to light, but not before the entire country had squared off over the lie.
It wasn’t that the news media got the story wrong, which would imply that they made a mistake, but that they didn’t care about getting it right. They didn’t care, because they saw an opportunity to dehumanize a white male wearing that triggering symbol of white supremacy, the “Make America Great Again” cap, and decided to run with a narrative that could be weaponized against President Trump and his “angry white male” supporters. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” master strategist Saul Alinsky once taught, and Catholic white boy Sandmann became the left’s target of the moment.
Some media outlets gradually and quietly backed off from their original rush to judgment as more video and context emerged, but the damage was done, the political divide between Americans was widened, and the more fervent leftists clung to their bigoted view that Sandmann represents the toxic, Christian white male underbelly of an America that bears racism in its very DNA, as Barack Obama once declared.

Gillette: The Worst a Man Can Get

So far, 2019 seems to be establishing itself as a year in which the cultural Marxists are intensifying their war on traditional masculinity. But it may turn out to be the year in which the misandrist tide begins to turn.

In just the last week, the American Psychological Association (APA) caused a stir by declaring traditional masculinity – “marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression” – to be a “harmful” mental disorder. Then People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sharing online a grotesquely suggestive video declaring that “Traditional masculinity is dead,” suggested that we “cure toxic masculinity by going vegan.” In another example, the New York Times posted a piece last Friday praising “The New Angry Young Men: Rockers Who Rail Against ‘Toxic Masculinity’” with songs that “protest old notions of manhood.” The article concludes with one singer declaring, “Toxic masculinity is real.”
It is not real. Toxicity is not an inherent feature of masculinity, just as “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression” are not inherently bad – far from it, in fact. Without those propulsive masculine qualities, which the APA deems harmful, humankind would never have elevated itself from cave to civilization. Unfortunately, the term “toxic masculinity” has become deeply embedded in our cultural consciousness now and is being conflated intentionally with traditional masculinity. That’s because the endgame of the totalitarians pushing this concept is to emasculate Western civilization in order to erect a collectivist utopia in its stead.
But the most controversial assault on masculinity in the last week was razor company Gillette’s release of a two-minute promotional video called “We Believe: the Best Men Can Be.” It immediately went viral with well over 19 million views (as of this writing) and spurred a massive backlash. Down-votes on YouTube were originally running at a 10-to-1 ratio over up-votes (that gap narrowed quickly and suspiciously to a 2-to-1 ratio). “Bullying… the Me Too movement against sexual harassment… masculinity,” the voiceover begins, clearly linking all three and depicting various examples of ugly behavior on the part of (almost exclusively Caucasian) boys and men. “We believe in the best in men,” the voiceover intones unconvincingly, after shaming men collectively for the worst in men. “To say the right thing, to act the right way. Some already are, in ways big and small. But some is not enough. Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”

Is the Right Underestimating Ocasio-Cortez?

The gaffe-prone new U.S. Representative for New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has been an easy target for rightwing mockery thanks to her tenuous grasp of economics and the self-mythologizing of her youth on the Brooklyn streets (the daughter of an architect, she actually grew up mostly in an affluent town in Westchester County, New York). Conservatives are having great fun online with internet memes ridiculing the proud “Democratic Socialist” as a brainless fraud. But if those who dismiss her aren’t careful, it will be Ocasio-Cortez who has the last laugh.
A self-declared “radical,” Ocasio-Cortez wants to tax the wealthy as high as 70% to fund her climate change plan called the "Green New Deal." She supports Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, the cancelation of all student loan debt, and housing as a federal right. Steeped in the oppressor/oppressed paradigm of identity politics, she is predictably pro-Black Lives Matter, anti-Israel, and wants to abolish ICE. She lacks both knowledge of and reverence for the U.S. Constitution. In other words, she checks off all the right boxes among a growing number of young Americans who find the idea of “democratic socialism” appealing, despite the fact that they can’t actually define it. It helps her enormously that new-Latina-on-the-block Ocasio-Cortez has a hip, youthful, multicultural appeal in a party burdened with doddering old white people like Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Hillary Clinton.
As Ocasio-Cortez was being sworn in to Congress on Thursday, a LiveLeak video featuring the rising star of the Democratic Party began going viral on Twitter after being shared by an anonymous account called, well, AnonymousQ1776. “Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is,” the tweet read. “High School video of ‘Sandy’ Ocasio-Cortez.”