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Monday, October 12, 2015


"You shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn either.”
-President Barack Hussein Obama

Recently, Santa Clara University announced that it would not go back on its invitation for columnist George Will to speak at their campus.  This is remarkable because it had to be said - that a college would have to state officially that they wouldn't go back on their invitation of a speaker because of their political viewpoints.
It happens a lot these days; George Will's last speaking engagement at Scrips College was yanked because he wrote a column pointing out that college "rape culture" rhetoric is based on lies and distortions.
How did we get to a place where institutions of higher learning have to announce that they will not disinvite speakers based on their ideology and politics?
There's a principle at the heart of leftist thought - hence, most colleges and universities - that multicultuarlism is a virtue, perhaps a highest virtue.  Multiculturalism as you likely know is the idea that all cultures are noble and have great features, and that none can be truly described as superior to another, only different.  The principle is that we should celebrate alternate cultures, to understand them and esteem them.
Like most ideas today, the roots of the concept are reasonable and proper.  Long ago, a hundred years or earlier, most cultures were quite isolated and distinct from their neighbors.  Even neighborhoods, counties, and states could be very distinct culturally.  Accents arose from this tendency toward isolation, where a people could be so separate from their neighbors that they began speaking with a different dialect.
Peoples from other cultures and nations were distrusted, unknown, and even disliked.  Often, this even would take the form of distaste and condescension.  They are only foreigners, after all, you can't expect better from them.
This is the source of a great deal of what was once common bigotry and even racism.  Blacks are all thieving and lazy.  Mexicans are all lazy and ignorant.  White people can't dance and don't know how to enjoy themselves.  Chinese are inscrutable and untrustworthy.  Belgians are even worse than the Burmese.  On and on it goes, each time some entire group of people is maligned or characterized based on a presumption of shared character.
And in each case, the statements and presumptions were based on only a very cursory or slight interaction.  People who didn't spend much time with Native Americans presumed certain tendencies (dirty, drunken, etc).  People who spend little time with French presume certain behavior (smelly, cowardly, etc).
Something happened in the 40s that changed that to a remarkable degree.  In World War 2, drafts and conscriptions forced people from all sorts of ethnic walks together.  Jews, served by Italians, who served by African Americans, who served by Scots, and so on.
As a result, those men fighting a common enemy, suffering common miseries, banded together and those racial and national distinctions evaporated.  That corporal MacGregor you thought was stingy and miserly turned out to be just like you.  That private Abramowitz fellow you thought was greedy and dominated by his mother turned out to be just like you.
And the seeds of multiculturalism were set.  People came to realize that folks are folks, and that what differences they have can be great.  Italians have great food and strong family ties.  English have terrific fortitude and education.  Jews have an amazing sense of humor are often quite intelligent, and on and on.  Instead of presuming the bad or weird, people learned the good and noble.
Naturally, some of this still exists and is part of all cultures.  Not every nation has grown this open and understanding, and some bigotries still persist.  But the general trend has been away from this, in most areas.
This blending of cultural identities and learning the good and familiar among different groups was very healthy for the United States, and helped build the country we now enjoy.  Now we can go to the store and buy kim chi next to refried beans and matzo balls.  Now we can buy a serape while we head to the Greek restaurant listening to soul music in our Japanese import.  This blend of nationalities and cultures is uniquely American.
And it came about because people interacted with the ones they disliked, didn't understand, and even feared.  The breakdown of stupid prejudice, silly bigotry, and bizarre stereotypes occurred because of the way people worked and got to know each other.  Familiarity and experience tore down the barriers and blended people more completely.
Now, where multiculturalism goes astray is where it assumes nothing is better than anything else, that we're all equal, so that the cannibalistic tribe of constantly warring stone-age culture in some far flung island is the cultural equal of Hellenistic Greece or Modern New York City.  And that's abjectly ridiculous.
Further, it assumes that having many cultures together - distinct and unmixed - is superior to having one culture, blended and combined, so that it fights against any assimilation or coming together to be unum rather than pluribus.
And, naturally, there are exceptions.  Its always okay to bash men, particularly white men.  Its always okay to mock American culture.  Its always acceptable to make fun of Christians and especially conservatives.
Which brings us to an area where those barriers still exist, and contrary to ethnic ones, are growing stronger and more culturally enforced.  Where as a people we've learned to not be so prejudiced and presumptuous about other cultures, multiculturalism draws a broad, spiked, mine-laden line between ideologies.
You can see this in the college disinvites.  It happens again and again and again, and even when conservative speakers aren't refused access to colleges, they're shouted down and overwhelmed by screaming, angry protesters who cannot bear the thought of someone having an idea that varies in any way with their rigid ideology.
Its not only on college campuses, they're just the most obvious and easily identifiable ones.  You see this across our culture: you said something conservative?  UNFRIEND.  You think that way?  BLOCK.  You're a 'progressive?'  I can't be friends with you any longer.  You linked that?  I don't want to be with you any longer.  I've lost acquaintances over nothing worse than disagreeing with them on a topic such as public employee unions or women's pay.
And the result of this dividing line is the same kind of slanderous bigotry as with races and nationalities. You know what those conservatives are all like.  They want to bring back slavery, they want to chain women to a sink, they are all this way and think that way, and want those things.  You know what leftists are like, they want to kill all babies and destroy America.  Communist, satanic, evil.
Ann Coulter has made a career out of this kind of bomb-flinging generalization.  See what this leftist said/did?  All of them are like that.  Its exactly the same nonsense as people saying "all Southerners are fat bigots who want slaves" or "all Northerners are wimpy leftist twits"  Its the same type of bigotry, and its not limited to one group or another.
This is true on all sides.  Christians presuming non-Christians are corrupt, sinful, and immoral.  Atheists presuming Christians are retarded inbred losers.  Conservatives thinking all leftists are America-hating communist subversives who want to take away their guns while requiring them to be homosexual.  Leftists thinking Conservatives are all anti science Bible-worshiping morons who want to oppress women and minorities while taking away all their rights.
And it all boils down to one thing:
I don't know this group so they must be worse than me in every way.
Deliberately isolating yourself from people you disagree with, deliberately blocking off all difference of opinion will tend to result in you becoming not just ignorant of your political and ideological foes and rivals, but human nature will tend to lead to you dehumanizing them as well.  We will go from "they're wrong" to "they're bad people" in a hurry.  And worse, we'll tend to assume  the worst could be and even must be true about these bad people.
Read an article that confirms your biases against some group and We're much less likely to scrutinize or doubt it than one that contradicts it.  Our first reaction will tend to be "that's probaby true" rather than "that doesn't sound likely."  And why check if your enemy is as bad as you thought or not?  Its more fun to scream at the picture of Emmanuel Goldstein with all your friends.
This has always been a tendency of people, but modern technology makes it so easy.  Its very simple to find only friends and online connections that think like you.  Its easy to block off and avoid different ideas.  The process is self-rewarding and self-enforcing.  Kick your enemy in the teeth and your side yells "yay!" while the opposition hits the block and unfriend button.  Sooner or later, everyone agrees with you!
With the modern division becoming stronger and stronger, its easy to find "conservative" or "progressive" versions of all kinds of things.  Watch Boondocks and Daily Show, not Fox News!  Listen to Rush Limbaugh, not Stephen Colbert!  Fund your project with this site, not that one.  Get your fried chicken at this fast food joint, not that one!
So we are able to isolate ourselves faster and easier than ever.  We learn a list of people that are bad (always a moving target, but easy to list from the top of yourself) and good (again variable but easy to think of) and avoid the one while leaning toward the other.  Bad actor, good actor.  Bad singer, good singer.  We define morality and wisdom in terms of what appeals to or agrees with our ideology, rather than seeking and learning from a variety of sources.
And the result is that our culture is becoming increasingly divided and separate.  We're a people who are less and less united and connected.  There is no longer a common, shared US culture at large, its becoming two almost warring cultures.  And a nation cannot continue this way.
The place that this should least happen and be most avoided is the university and college campus, but that is the very location that this movement is being led from.  Absolutely no conservative ideas, not from faculty, not from students, not from guests, not from materials or curriculum ever.  That's the slogan of far too many of these bodies.
And they're producing students who agree with and embrace this concept far too readily.  Bombarded constantly with one viewpoint from peers, entertainment, teachers, and culture at large, young people are utterly unable and unprepared to even muster a defense in all but exceptionally rare cases.
And whereas once, when you left college, the real world would tend to shape, temper, and even reverse that trend, today it is too easy to just keep things going as they are comfortable to young people.  So you don't get the tendency of young people to become less radicalized and leftist as they enter the workplace, particularly as "triggering" and "microagression" fears move into the working world.
What's needed is a meeting of minds, not separation.  What's needed is an openness to other ideas and influences, not a hate-packed condemnation and shunning of it.  Because it turns out almost all people have pretty good reasons and bases for what they think and believe.  Its too easy to presume people are idiots for disagreeing with you, but that's not very often the case.  Its too easy to assign evil to the motives of those who think differently but that's almost never what happens.
And until we move away from this tendency - one I feel strongly and surrender to, far too often - to isolate ourselves from different ideas, things are only going to get more heated, more divided, and more angry.
If history has taught us anything, its that this never ends in amity and friendship, but almost always in blood and misery.

Monday, October 05, 2015

ROOM 101 BY R.C. Sproul, jr

"I love you, Big Brother"

This is an article from the magazine Tabletalk which Ligonier ministries puts out every month.  The article is from an issue on persecution and looking into the future at the church in the west, and R.C. Sproul jr's article was so powerful and important that I wanted to post it here, although you can read it at Ligonier as well.
There is a simple enough test to see if someone has actually read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. All you have to do is utter the words “Room 101” and look to see if the person shudders. Those who have merely heard of the book, or of that particular allusion may recognize it, but will not react viscerally to it. If you read through the account of Winston’s fateful trip to Room 101, its mere mention hits you in the gut.
Throughout Orwell’s novel, we are given a picture of a brutal future, ruled by the virtually omnipresent Big Brother. Every step is prescribed, every action watched, even every thought monitored. Our “hero,” however, out of an inchoate love for the fair Julia, becomes a rebel with a cause—to serve with his beloved against Big Brother in hopes of bringing him down. The two are caught in their revelries and placed under arrest. It turns out their purported contact with the underground was just another agent of Big Brother.
Orwell doesn’t dive right into Room 101. Rather, he leads us there slowly. Winston’s anguish begins first with hunger as he is jailed and given nothing to eat. What follows next is days, perhaps weeks, of interrogation and extreme torture. Over time, Winston confesses to all he has done and not done. He even confesses that the Party is the arbiter of all truth, indeed that 2+2=5. He is broken, beaten, a shell of his former self. All that he has left is peace in knowing that in all his confessing, in all his repenting, he never turned on Julia. There was still a hidden corner of his heart that Big Brother could not penetrate and make his own.
Which is just why Winston was brought to Room 101. There is nothing particularly unique in this room. Rather, each prisoner brought to Room 101 faces his own deepest fear. For Winston, it is rats. There are just two rats, and they are safely caged. The cage, however, has an odd design. It is a special apparatus that could be, indeed would be, strapped around Winston’s head with the door to each cage opening right at his eyes. The rats, having been starved, would escape through Winston. As the cage is brought closer, he does not merely scream in fright and beg for safety but pleads that someone else be given the cage, anyone else—even Julia. “Do it to Julia!” he screams, now fully and finally broken.
Which brings me to my deepest fear—my Room 101 betrayal. Persecution comes in as many sizes and shapes as there are Rooms 101. Some experience the comparatively petty persecution of mild social ostracism, others face death, and still others torture. What history teaches us, however, is that whatever form persecution takes, it is often our brothers who lead us there. That is, those believers who crave acceptance and safety are the first ones to throw their brothers under the bus. By doing so, they prove their loyalty to the regime and their distance from the family.
Consider two examples, one ancient, the other current. The Roman Empire did not have a careful and sophisticated taxonomy of the people they conquered. To them, the Jews were the Jews. The key reason the Pharisees hated Jesus so much was less that He was popular while they were not, less that He exposed their folly, and more that He was a danger. As the people looked to Jesus to throw off the yoke of Rome, the Pharisees understood that Roman reprisals for such a rebellion wouldn’t be nuanced. They would all be killed. So, they handed Jesus over to Pilate, insisting, “He’s not one of us.”
In our day, the danger is social ostracism, especially regarding the issue of sexual morality. With each passing day, the biblical sexual ethic is looked upon more and more as not merely quaint and old fashioned but oppressive, bigoted, and immoral. Which is why certain wings of the church have been, and will be, so quick to jump on the bandwagon. Which is why every week or so we read about another megachurch pastor coming out in favor of homosexual marriage. Which is why adultery and fornication and the fruit thereof—abortion—are dead issues in our pulpits. “We’re not like them. Hate those bigots down the street from us. We’re loving and accepting. Turn your bile on them, but give us a pass.”
What then do we do? Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It is, remember, in the same sermon that Jesus calls us to seek His kingdom that He tells us we are blessed when we are persecuted for His name’s sake. The question is, will we believe it? Will we accept His shame as our honor, or will we honor them to our shame? Will we remember that love toward the world is hatred toward God (James 4:4)? Will we be the betrayers, or will we have the blessing of being the betrayed?

Monday, September 28, 2015


"Pedophilia isn't a moral wrong."
-Ben Kuchera, Senior editor Polygon

Every time the topic of pedophilia and related sickness comes up, at least some of the people there get this jaded look on their face like you're talking about the earth being flat or moon landings being faked.   There he goes again, warning about the slippery slope and predicting horrors just because we're nice to homosexuals.
Its long been a chorus over the years that cultural conservatives have heard.  No-fault divorce will not cause a breakdown in marriage and family, you heartless jerk!  Relaxing sexual mores will not result in increased teen pregnancy and social decline, you cold-hearted monster!  The responses are remarkably consistent from the same groups of people: any resistance to moving away from proven and trustworthy social morals is a terrible, restrictive, and even fascist thing.
Repeatedly over the years I've noted that the trend is toward normalizing pedophilia and related evils in western culture.  Each step has predictable and unpredictable results, and leads naturally and logically to the next slouch toward Gomorrah.  The problem is that the sophist, emotionally-driven arguments for these changes always appeal not to the good of society and reason, but to feelings and how nice people are.  And, of course, personal attacks, accusations of terrible motives, and insults.
For a few decades now, film, literature, and portions of art and other communities have been leaning toward normalizing underage sexuality.  Since the 70s, Roman Polanski's rape of a drug addled girl of 13 years has been defended by those who think his art transcends morality and propriety.  But its getting more pervasive and common these days.  Take this little piece at Salon by an admitted pedophile defending his behavior:
Many gays begin to recognize their sexual preferences sometime around puberty, if not before.  For me it was the same.  I was about 12 when the first inklings of a sexual preference bubbled up in me, though at the time I thought little of it.  As I turned 13 it occurred to me that what I initially took as a phase had begun to solidify into something more troubling.  Even so, at this point I could still convince myself that I was within the realm of normalcy.  Then something happened that all but removed my ability to continue this self-denial: my Eureka Moment.

One day, as I was sketching in my grandparents’ living room, a neighbor of theirs came to visit with his seven-year-old daughter in tow.
He goes on to talk about how he was born that way and its just how he is and how awful people are who "out" someone of his kind.  He frames this in terms of "help us not do this" but the tone of the article is one of wanting acceptance, not help to be better.  The comparison to homosexuality is repeated, as it has been by people defending the man and his proclivities online.  He describes his yearnings as "alternative sexuality" the exact term that was and still is used for homosexuality.
The "born that way" argument is one of the most effective the homosexual activists has deployed in the past.  They use it because they compare it to race, then say "you can't discriminate against race, its not fair, they can't stop being who they are!"
The problem here, of course, is one of morality.  There is no moral character to one's ethnic background any more than being left handed, blue-eyed, or short.  Its just a physical description.  Moral character comes from what we do with what we are.  Some behaviors are evil and awful and should be oppose, period, no matter how much someone is born that way.  
Being born lusting toward someone you ought not is bad for you, and a struggle - we all have those struggles in some way or another whether it be jealousy about wealth, gluttonly, gossipping, excessive rebellion, and so on... or something sexual in nature.  Fighting that evil inside us is a noble cause.  But at no point does it become justification or permission for behavior.  Being born a certain way is simply a statement of fact, not allowance to act upon it.
But that argument has a certain emotional appeal: this is how I am, how can you be so cruel as to say I must not be how I was born?  Its unfair, its unjust, its unreasonable to expect me to fight against my nature!
After all, if you believe the purpose of humanity is to fulfill its desires, to be happy, healthy, comfortable, and enjoy themselves - as the bulk of modern culture agrees to - then how can you say that someone must fight their natures?  That would make them... unhappy!
At present, the concept of "age of consent" bars certain actions, but this is a legal fiction, an arbitrary statement agreed to by society and codified into law.  It could be just as easily disagreed upon and re-codified, or removed from law.  After all, children have a right to be happy too, and sex is great, how can we prevent them from enjoying that pleasure?  And the 14th amendment after all, states clearly that one may not treat someone differently without due process.
Let me repeat that.  The 14th amendment of the US Constitution says that all must be treated equally under law unless a court process and legal decision allows them to be treated differently.  Not a law, but a case decision: being convicted of a crime, for example.  So technically, kids cannot be denied certain things simply by age - that is not permitted in the way the 14th amendment is worded.
So there we have it: cultural pressure, legal structure in place, identical arguments of human fulfillment and nature, and we're seeing more and more of the push for acceptance show up in the news, entertainment, cultural institutions, etc.
But by all means. Tell me I'm crazy.  Tell me no way would society go that far.  Pretend your daughter is safe.  Hey, she might be - the shift might take 10 years, and by then she'd be of legal age.  Tough luck for her kids, though.
*UPDATE: the author of that Slate article posted a followup all about how the real monsters are right wingers on social media who are so mean to him for being a child molester.

Friday, September 18, 2015


"It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance."
-Thomas Sowell

Its time for another roundup of misconceptions, factoids (in the truest sense - things people beleive are facts but are not), and mistaken common knowledge.  There are so many of these that I don't suppose I'll ever run out.
First up, Martin Luther King jr. and his politics.  This one gets thrown around by both parties and people opposing each party quite a bit.  MLK jr. was a Republican!  No, he was a Democrat!  See, your side must be wrong because this mascot is on our side!  The truth is, nobody knows what party MLK was a member of, if any.  There isn't any record, and nobody seems to recall.  Its possible he was never registered as a member of a party.  If any its likely he was Republican because most blacks in the 50s and early 60s were - Democrats at the time being the party of Jim Crow and opposing ending slavery in years past.  But there's no way of knowing.
Islam, I've written about it in the past, and probably should do an entry in this series based on the misconceptions and confusion about the religion.  But there's a very odd one among the black community in America that claims Islam is the black man's religion, as opposed to Christianity.  This probably arose because so many black prisoners have taken up Islam and some prominent black celebrities ("leaders") are Muslim such as Louis Farrakhan.  And there is a large portion of Africa which is Muslim.  But that's a fairly recent development in African history - roughly 600 AD was the first introduction of Islam to the continent - and only covers the northern part.  
Islam is an Arabic religion (Arabs being ethnically Caucasian) and indeed borrowed heavily from previous Arabic religions and cultural patterns, blending them with Judaism and Christianity.  If any religion can be said to be from Africa, it would be something like Voodoo or Sangria, although those have been heavily influenced by other religions.
Nowhere in the Koran is there a mention of 72 virgins for martyrs in heaven.  The descriptions of heaven in the Koran do note hot women awaiting the dead, but that's for anyone who goes, not just martyrs.  The 72 virgin line comes from a Hadith (traditional sayings of Muhammad and stories of his life) written after the Koran.
The Wright Brothers did not build the first flyable aircraft.  They did build the first actual airplane, but lighter than air devices were being experimented with and functioning as far back as the late 1700s.  As early as the 1200s, the Chinese have stories of men being strapped to kites and flown, although that's not exactly an aircraft.  However, it was in 1848 that Sir George Cayley built and tested a glider, with a small boy flying it.  In 1853, he tested a full sized aircraft with controls and an adult pilot, although it was still a glider.  His efforts to build an engine using rubber (presumably like a rubber band) did not see any success.
What the Wright Brothers did was invent the powered airplane, something that proved and demonstrated that you could fly on your own, instead of gliding, using the internal combustion engine.  Thus, they invented the first true modern airplane rather than a glider.
Columbus did not prove the world was round.  Few scientists believed that to be the case, and indeed over a thousand years before Columbus was born, Eratosthenes measured the world and proved that it was round.  What Columbus was trying to do was use the round world to find a quicker, cheaper trade route to Southeast Asia by going west rather than east and around Africa.  He had a hard time getting funding because people though the trip was too far, not because they thought he'd sail off the edge of the planet.
Rosa Parks was not just some tired old woman who finally just decided to not give up her seat.  After a long day at work she probably was tired, and she did refuse to give up her seat, its true, but she did so as a deliberate act of civil disobedience and was an activist working with Martin Luther King jr.  That doesn't detract from her significance or the effect on the Civil Rights movement, but this wasn't just some coincidence or some poor old woman being misused (she was only 42 at the time) at random.  She deliberately set about to spark a legal case and draw attention to the ridiculous and oppressive laws of the time.
Marie Antoinette probably never said “let them eat cake.”  In fact, there's no evidence anyone ever said it at the time, and she was smarter than generally portrayed.  The only source for this quote is Jean Jacque Rousseau's biography in which he mentions "a great princess" saying "let them eat brioche" but the work is generally thought to be without historical merit and largely invented to begin with.
Henry Ford did not invent the automobile.  I'm not sure how this one comes up but the automobile's invention is a bit clouded in mystery, but happened in the 19th century before he was born.  There was a guy that claimed to have invented the device and the story of the battle between him and Ford is a fascinating one.  Ford didn't even invent the assembly line, although he did pretty well perfect it to build automobiles.  Ransom E. Olds (the guy behind the Oldsmobile) actually was the first to use it and he probably got the idea from someone else.
Sharks are not immune to cancer.  They tend to get skin cancer more than anything else.
Fatwas are not Islamic death sentences.  They are non-binding legal decisions by Muslim judges.  They do not compel action, and can be about anything, not just calling for death.
Cooking with wine will not remove the alcohol completely.  Even if it is baked for two hours, 10% of the alcohol will remain in the food.
Edelweiss is not the national anthem of Austria.  In fact, it was an original composition written for the film The Sound of Music.  Beautiful song, though.
Mary Magdalene in the Bible is never identified as a prostitute.  The only connection is the mention of a woman with a reputation of sinning mentioned not long before Mary is introduced, but there's no reason to assume that the two women are the same, or even evidence that the "sin" involved was prostitution.
Black soldiers were not segregated in the US military until after WW2.  Blacks served along side whites long before that (even as far back as the Revolutionary war), but the training was generally segregated, and during the first half of the 20th century, blacks were generally put into their own, separate units rather than with whites.  Truman's executive order 9981 in 1948 required desegregation of training and units, blending all servicemen together.  
 The thing is, in practical war fighting, the structures of units were so fluid and in the battlefield so often of little meaning that these separations often disappeared.  There's good reason to believe that the presence of black soldiers next to whites in the battle line seeing each other in action and being bonded by fear, death, and warfare is what lead more to the civil rights changes in later years than anything else.  
Basically, fighting next to a guy bonds you closer than some stupid ideas of race and appearance, and for a lot of these soldiers, this was their first exposure to blacks up close, which changed theory into reality pretty fast.  Coming home after war, they couldn't see any point in the separation and mistreatment of people they'd fought by and knew were just folks.
And that's it for now
*This is part of the Common Knowledge series: things we know that ain't so.