Sunday, January 26, 2020

Make Western Civilization Great Again

Universities have been ceding ground to anti-Western activists for decades now (remember Jesse Jackson leading chants of “Hey ho, hey ho, Western civ has got to go” at Stanford back in the ‘80s?). So it should come as no surprise that Yale recently announced it would grant yet another concession to multiculturalist students who demand that diversity of skin color replace the oppressiveness and irrelevance of Dead White Males: this spring will see the end of one of the school’s previously most popular classes, a survey course called “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present."
According to the Yale Daily News blog, in its final iteration the course will shift from transmitting to students a greater appreciation of their cultural heritage, to a more “woke” focus on subverting the canon of Western art itself. The course’s instructor, art history department chair Tim Barringer, has stated that the class will still cover Western art chronologically from 1300 to the present, but he intends to emphasize that other regions, genres and traditions are as “equally deserving of study” as Western art, because according it any special reverence is “problematic.”

As we are all reminded daily now in every cultural arena from academia to Hollywood, anything Western is “problematic” (to put it politely) because multiculturalist doctrine deems that all cultures must be revered equally – except for Western culture which, because of its association with the toxic privilege of “whiteness,” must be denigrated, deconstructed, and dismantled to heal the nonwhite victims of its oppression and exploitation. Thus, we must be careful not to elevate the great works of the greatest artists in world history over other, “equally deserving” genres and traditions.

In a syllabus note to potential students, Barringer wrote that the emphasis would be on the relationship between European art and other world traditions. That is a fair topic for study, considering that Western artists have occasionally been influenced by other traditions: Picasso and African masks, for example (although such influence now would be devalued as “cultural appropriation,” another racist concept concocted by the postmodern and/or Marxist left). But the class also, according to Barringer, will consider art in relation to – wait for it – “questions of gender, class and ‘race’” and will discuss its relationship to Western capitalism. In other words, immersing ourselves in the transcendence and beauty that literally define great art and touch our common humanity must take a back seat to imposing our earthbound interpretations of how art divides us. Climate change also will be a “key theme.” Of course it will, because all intellectual streams now must feed into the river of today’s acceptable groupthink.

Yes I Con

Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who rose to president of an NAACP chapter by pretending to be black. Jussie Smollett, the black actor who blamed a fake hate crime on MAGA hat-wearing, white rednecks. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who parlayed a false claim of Native American heritage into acceptance at Harvard Law School.  These are just a few of the most controversial recent examples of Democrats attempting to dupe the public in order to further their careers and/or their radical agendas.
That’s the theme of the new book Yes I Con: United Fakes of America by FrontPage Mag contributor Lloyd Billingsley, author of Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s, Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield, and more. In Yes I Con, Billingsley presents several exhibits of evidence of the left’s habitual fraudulence and self-deception, including Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Barack Hussein Obama, Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and stolen valor perpetrator Sen. Richard Blumenthal, purported gay rights icon Harvey Milk and the aforementioned Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren, and more. He also indicts the left-leaning media’s complicity in covering up or turning a blind eye to these duplicities.
I asked Billingsley some questions about his new short book for FrontPage Mag.
Mark Tapson:           Lloyd, you open with a quote from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire about the conscience going silent in the “middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud.” Do you think the leftist deception you recount in the book stems more from self-delusion, outright fraud, or a combination? In other words, have leftists simply normalized and justified their deceit in their own minds?
Lloyd Billingsley:    It’s a combination and a process. Self-delusion can remain a personal problem until the person deploys it to deceive others. That requires the deluded party to silence the conscience in the progression to outright fraud. For example, no harm if Elizabeth Warren fancies herself a Cherokee, but it takes some doing to make that claim the basis of a career, more so to maintain it after the fraud has been exposed beyond any doubt. That’s what Gibbon was on about.
MT:     The foreword to your book is titled, “The Syndrome Beyond Satire.” What is the syndrome beyond satire?
LB:      It’s all about subjunctive mood, which used to give me trouble until a French professor nailed it as the sense of irréalité. Under today’s dictatorship of the subjunctive mood, unreality prevails. The world will end in twelve years, Green New Dealers warn. Hillary Clinton proclaims Army veteran Tulsi Gabbard a “Russian asset.” MAGA-hatted rednecks attempt to lynch Jussie Smollett in Chicago. And so on. It’s all “unreal,” as we used to say in the sixties.
MT:     One of your chapters addresses murdered – some would say “martyred” – San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, who has been lionized by the left and immortalized on film as a gay rights champion. What’s the truth about Milk?

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.
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.”