Thursday, April 9, 2020

Progressive Insanity: The Pandemic is the Perfect Time to Abolish the Family

Amid lockdowns and “shelter-in-place” orders and social distancing from strangers and even friends, the coronavirus pandemic has been a time, for many of us, of reaffirming the centrality of family in our lives. For utopians of the radical left, though, the pandemic is an opportunity to deconstruct flawed, traditional familial bonds and remake the world along the lines of new-and-improved, collectivist possibilities. As author Sophie Lewis (pictured above) puts it bluntly in a recent opinion piece at Open Democracy: “We deserve better than the family. And the time of corona is an excellent time to practice abolishing it.
The author of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, Sophie Lewis’ academic work focuses on eugenic, bioconservative and imperial feminism, queer and trans social reproduction, Black feminist family abolitionism, hydrofeminism, postgenomics, and Marxist-feminist accounts of care,” which seems like a lot to fit on a business card.
Writing in her article titled, “The coronavirus crisis shows it's time to abolish the family,” Lewis addresses what she calls “the unspoken and mostly unquestioned crux of the prescribed response to the pandemic: private homes.” She criticizes the assumption that we should all “stay at home” to contain the spread of the virus, arguing that 1) not everybody has a home, and 2) private property is already a “fundamentally unsafe space.”
“How can a zone defined by the power asymmetries of housework (reproductive labor being so gendered), of renting and mortgage debt, land and deed ownership, of patriarchal parenting and (often) the institution of marriage, benefit health?” she asks. “Such standard homes are where, after all, everyone secretly knows the majority of earthly violence goes down… A quarantine is, in effect, an abuser’s dream – a situation that hands near-infinite power to those with the upper hand over a home.
Lewis approvingly quotes feminist Madeline Lane-McKinley, who had this to say in a tweet about the shelter-in-place imperative: “Households are capitalism’s pressure cookers. This crisis will see a surge in housework – cleaning, cooking, caretaking, but also child abuse, molestation, intimate partner rape, psychological torture, and more.”

‘Caliphate’ - The Series Every Western Feminist Needs to See

As an act of #Resistance! to the misogynistic dystopia America would surely be plunged into by the election of Donald Trump, the leftist media hyped the 2017 Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, in which women are subjugated and dehumanized under a totalitarian patriarchy. “Relevant!” and “Timely!” were the marketing buzzwords used to sell the show to liberal females as an allegory of the horrors they would experience under a Mike Pence-led theocracy. The Handmaid’s Tale became a cultural touchstone for unfulfilled Western feminists whose lives were suddenly given meaning by costuming themselves as handmaids from the show and milling about in protest of their oppression – for example, outside the chambers where Brett Kavanaugh was smeared as a rapist during his Supreme Court confirmation.
The internet series and the original 1985 novel were both set in America, of course, because everyone who has been processed through our Progressive propaganda – er, education system knows that the United States is the historic epicenter of religious intolerance and sexual oppression. Precisely because of this indoctrination, the same feminists who were so inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale are either oblivious to, or intentionally silent about, the real-world suffering of girls and women who are oppressed under an actual totalitarian theocracy outside the West – territories ruled beneath the iron fist of sharia law.
Forget The Handmaid’s Tale – a new Netflix series called Caliphate (Kaliphat in the original) debuted last month which every feminist in the Western world needs to see, not because it will confirm their cultural self-loathing but because it may just open a few eyes to the misogynistic oppression That Must Not Be Named. Produced in Sweden (yes, the same feminist-run Sweden that has all but officially become a Muslim state; how did this show get made?), Caliphate’s storyline centers on Parvin, a Syrian woman desperate to get herself and her baby out of a marriage to a member of the Islamic State. Her only hope for rescue is to spy on her husband and his fellow jihadists, and surreptitiously pass along details of their terrorist plot against a Swedish target to an intelligence agent there named Fatima. Fatima is trying to pull off a balancing act between trusting Parvin, who could just be peddling misinformation, and battling her skeptical superiors, who seem suspiciously resistant to pursuing the lead.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

How to Educate an American

Like a growing number of American families, my wife and I homeschool our young children. Why? A number of reasons, primarily the fact that studies show homeschooled kids are better-educated, better-socialized, and better-behaved than public schoolchildren. But our initial motivation was the conviction that the current American educational system is hopelessly broken, from pre-K all the way through college graduation. As every conservative knows, the leftist death grip on our schools has largely replaced education with indoctrination.
But we are fortunate; not every concerned family is in a position to homeschool, and simply abandoning our public schools to their ugly, Progressive fate is a surrender, not a solution. How then, do we reclaim American education so that all our children can be put back on track to a more prosperous, civically literate, empowered future? That is the theme of an important new book from Templeton Press titled, How to Educate an American: The Conservative Vision For Tomorrow’s Schools, a collection of essays from over twenty stellar contributors ranging from William J. Bennett and Mona Charen to Heather Mac Donald and Arthur C. Brooks, edited by Michael J. Petrilli and Chester E. Finn, Jr.
Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Education Commission of the States. Finn is Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus of the Fordham Institute and a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. In other words, they know this field, and for this volume they sought out, not fellow policy wonks, but “big thinkers – public intellectuals and scholars whose work includes education but doesn’t focus on policy prescriptions.” This makes for a highly readable and more wide-ranging collection of creative answers to the questions of where America is headed and the role education should play in getting us there.
In their conclusion, Petrilli and Finn argue that three aspects of education should be emphasized in the years to come: preparing young people for informed citizenship; restoring character, virtue, and morality at the head of the education table; and fashioning an education system that confers dignity, respect, and opportunity upon every youngster, including those who don’t go to college: “Supplying knowledge. Forging citizens. Forming strong character. Bestowing dignity.”
These aims inform the structure of How to Educate an American, the essays of which are grouped into four sections of overarching themes: Part 1 is “History, Civics, and Citizenship”; Part 2 covers “Character, Purpose, and Striving”; Part 3 focuses on “Schools, Families, and Society”; and Part 4 finishes with “Renewing the Conservative Education Agenda.” Below are some, but not all, of the highlights of each section.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The End of Hollywood

One week ago, the Dolby Theater in Hollywood hosted the 92nd annual Academy Awards show. If you are like most Americans, you didn’t even know it happened and you don’t care, because Hollywood has renounced its central position in American culture. It has imploded under the weight of its own virtue-signaling, America-loathing self-righteousness.
Many decades ago, the Oscars was a noteworthy pop culture event because the show featured captivating, adult screen idols Americans loved who knew how to exude glamour and keep their politics to themselves. This year, the ceremony’s ratings plunged to an all-time record low, down twenty percent from last year’s already-low viewership. The New York Times couldn’t figure out why; it put forth different theories – too many commercials, a crowded TV season, the lack of a host – and ignored the most obvious explanation: American viewers, sick of forgettable left-coast elites lecturing them about what climate-denying, meat-eating, white nationalist rubes they are, have turned their backs on the entertainment industry in massive numbers.
For the same reason, the Oscars ratings-fail mirrored last month’s epic crash-and-burn at the Grammys. This year’s music industry freak show was the lowest-rated in Grammy history. The Golden Globes ratings fell too, hitting an eight-year low. The audiences of all showbiz awards events (and there are far too many) have been trending downward, largely because the shows are dominated now by foul-mouthed children (of all ages), who think they’re being morally courageous by slamming President Trump, crying about climate extinction, or “shouting their abortions” in acceptance speeches. Sane Americans have had enough of this relentless politicization of the culture and trashing of their values.
The snowballing apathy toward the entertainment industry’s biggest nights of the year should be a wakeup call to celebrities that The End is Near – the end of Hollywood, at least in America – but it won’t be. They will go down with the ship, clinging to their political self-righteousness to the last breath because they would rather die than humble themselves before the “flyover” Americans between the coasts whom they have so openly despised for decades.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

West Point Tackles 'Toxic Masculinity'

If you are a good, committed cultural Marxist and your mission is to help dismantle the cultural, economic, and power structures in the capitalist West from within, how do you undertake such a grand task? How do you subvert an entire civilization? You undermine its foundations, and the most basic building block of all is the nuclear family. To deconstruct the family successfully, you must subvert masculinity, because masculinity is the warrior spirit of that nuclear family. To emasculate a civilization, you indoctrinate its youth to believe that the natural traits typically associated with masculinity – such as aggression, competitiveness, and emotional self-control – are poisonous to society and even to boys and men themselves. You convince men – especially society’s warriors – to reject their very nature altogether.
This January, cadets at West Point, the United States Military Academy, were required to attend educational events for “Honorable Living Day,” the academy’s third such day hosted during the short tenure of Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams. The first was held last February and focused on eliminating sexual assault and harassment at the academy, which has been co-ed since 1976. The second, held last semester, called upon cadets, staff and faculty to improve the culture in order to combat sexual assault further.
At this most recent Honorable Living Day, the goal was to “expand the discussion beyond sexual assault and talk about how all aspects of the community can come together and promote an atmosphere of honorable living to include diversity, inclusion and acceptance of people from differing backgrounds, races and genders.” Lt. Gen. Williams described the curriculum as being “connected” to improving combat readiness.
Eradicating any sexual assaults or harassment at West Point is a worthy goal. They shouldn’t be tolerated in any work or study environment. Encouraging cadets to live with personal integrity and to treat others according to the content of their character and not the color of their skin are also vital aims. But if reports from several male West Point cadets are true, there appears to be more going on in this past Honorable Living Day than meets the eye. Breitbart News reported that it received comments from some cadets, on condition of anonymity, complaining that the program went beyond merely discouraging sexual harassment. As one cadet put it: “I’m being taught how not to be a man.”

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.