Thursday, December 31, 2015

BEST OF 2015

"What a stupid time to be alive"

I posted a lot less in 2015 than previous years, but still had a few major popular articles.
The most popular WATN bit was "A Mad World Run By Fools" in which I tried to lay out what its like to be a conservative in the world today, for those who think we're just over reacting or hysterical.  That article hit home for a lot of people and to date is the one that got the most hits, the most shares, and the most links of anything I've ever written on this blog.  Thousands of people came by a day for almost a week to read the article.  It got shared a lot on Facebook too, judging by where many people came from to read it.
Another popular piece was "Just Because," wherein I tried to show how the left is honestly trying to replace the old structures and ethical foundations that they destroyed, but have nothing to work with.  In an ideology that changes daily, even hourly, and is infinitely "progressive" you cannot truly build a foundation or structure at all.
"Don't Stand So Close To Me" was very popular but I feel I can only take a small part of the credit for that.  The rest has to be given to Dave Chapelle's brilliant examination of the whore's costume and what it means.  Modesty does matter.
The very first piece I wrote for 2015 was "The Black Ban" that examined the way black culture and racism is used and understood in America, not by blacks but by whites.  You can insult someone by saying they are "very white" and compliment someone by saying how black they are, but we're still told white people are oppressive rulers and blacks are oppressed helpless, crushed, and marginalized.
Next year looks to be even more troubling and upsetting than this one, but remember.  It is too easy to be dragged down by politics and fears and grit your teeth in frustration wanting to know what you can do to fix things.  Sometimes all you can do is live your life properly, raise your children wisely, and pray to God, because He's in charge, not us, not politicians, and not the popular culture.
I'll keep posting what comes to me and I think should be heard, and I hope you all keep visiting and reading.

FAUX HATE 2015


As part of my continuing coverage of faked hate crimes, we look at just the year 2015 this time.  For 2015, the main theme of fake hate crimes were anti-Muslim attacks which turned out to often be by Muslims.  There were even more than the previous year, as the craziness ramped up.

  • February 2015, a Muslim woman at Arlington University claims she was followed on campus by an armed man and threatened at gunpoint, saying it was because of her religion.  Later she admits that the entire story was a lie.
  • February 2015, A Muslim center is given repeated bomb threats by an angry caller.  Police look into it and eventually discover that the culprit is... a Muslim man who was staying at the center. 
  • February 2015, The Spokane NAACP chapter receives a threatening and racist packet of documents in its mailbox.  They hold a rally to fight racism, and later the USPS revealed that they had never gone through the mail system and had to have been put into the mail box by someone at the NAACP office (the woman who made the complaint is the same chapter leader recently revealed to be a white girl masquerading as a black one)
  • May 2015, a Muslim woman complains that while she's on a jet, she requests a can of soda, and is denied it, with the flight attendant saying "You Moslem, you need to shut the f— up.” Since no one is given an unopened can on a plane (the stews pour it for you), this was questioned.  The rest of the passengers on the flight completely contradicted her story
  • June 2015, black churches are terrorized by signs posted, claiming black churches were identified as being "with the devil" and warning blacks that they are targets; the signs claimed to be from the KKK.  The person who posted them was a black activist who put his own phone number on some of the signs. 
  • June 2015, a homosexual man claims he was beaten, forced to drink bleach, and had "die fag" carved into his arm by angry white men in rural Utah.  However police noticed many inconsistencies in his story and eventually he admitted it was self inflicted
  • July 2015, a homosexual bar was burned and had slurs and insults written on the walls.  Later, the owner confessed that he'd done it himself
  • August 2015 this time a video juxtaposition.  Cops pull over some youths, get into a struggle, and are accused of pointless violence simply because the kids are black. A portion of edited video is shown on facebook and the outrage mob cranks up.  But then, the cops release the full body and dash cams which tell a very different story.
  • August 2015, a case is closed by the police.  It started in September 2010, when a lesbian couple's house burnt down.  The police found slurs painted on the property and the couple claimed neighbors did it as a hate crime.  Eventually however, they found that, you guessed it by now... the lesbian couple did it
  • September 2015, University of Delaware students find something hanging from a tree.  A noose, they cry!  Later investigation discovers that the "nooses" are string left over from paper lanterns hung in June.  Undaunted by the lack of nooses and ridiculous charge, students are determined to protest anyway.
  • October 2015, churches with predominantly black worshipers begin having fires set at them, usually harmless minor fires.  Police finally track down and arrest a suspect who is shown to have set at least two of the fires: a 35 year old black man.
  • October 2015, a homosexual claims he was robbed, beaten, stripped, and insulted at a University of North Dakota fraternity.  Police investigated and found no evidence of any such action despite being in public on a college campus filled with students with camera phones.
  • November 2015, Kean University black students begin receiving racially motivated threats on twitter.  Posts such as "i will kill every black male and female at kean university" were investigated by the police who discovered that, you guessed it, one of the black students part of rallies and organizations protesting the racist posts was the one who sent the tweets.
  • December 2015, a Houston mosque bursts into flame on Christmas day, burning down in a two-alarm fire.  Salon posts in a later-edited article "Muslim community members say the attack was a hate crime."  Police later see someone on security cameras with lighter fluid and charcoal light a fire in the mosque, someone who worships at the mosque several times a week and is a devout Muslim
This is part of the Faux Hate series.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

RENTING YOUR FUTURE

"Remember DivX? The idea that you would in essence rent a disposable DVD that would only play X times, and only one one player?"

The cloud.  I'm not real fond of the term, I think it goes back to a frustrated IT guy trying to get some middle management person to understand how internet storage worked.  "See, it goes to this, this... cloud, where it... floats until you need it, get it?"
Basically it just means something stored remotely on the internet where you can access it later.  That word is key: "access."
See, when you get all your music from Spottify and your movies from Netflix and your books from Amazon, your games from online, and your pictures are all stored on "the cloud" instead of locally or in physical format... you don't actually own any of it.  You rent it all.
Access means you can get to and use something.  Ownership means you control it and someone cannot keep you from getting to and using something.
This is a common misconception, particularly with younger people.  Its not that they do not comprehend the differerence between Access and Ownership.  Its that they don't care and even are slightly uncomfortable or contemptuous toward ownership.
See, kids know at some level they don't actually own the songs they built their playlist around on that music service online.  They just don't care, and further, they think that if you do own or buy CDs, DVDs, or whatever, you're weird, old, or stupid.
I think this is driven partly by the fact that so much of what they regularly enjoy and consume is designed to be temporary and forgotten.  Music, television, movies, images, games, pretty much everything they use is specifically designed to be enjoyed for a while, then thrown aside and never remembered. 
Quick, what was last year's number one hit?  The biggest song of 2014?  Who cares?  Its nearly 2016, that's so last year!  (the song was "Happy" by Pharell).  What was the hit song of 2013?  It doesn't matter, because that song was never meant to last.  They're all just meant to show up, be listened to a while, then thrown away like a disposable diaper.
Shows like Two Broke Girls will never get into replay cycles, they won't be big DVD rentals or ownership.  They're meant to be seen once or twice and forgotten.  Netflix isn't going to have a big viewership of that kind of television, no matter how well it rates now.  Its not re-watchable.
The big advantage for this with young people is that they can access a gigantic music collection for relatively small amounts of money - mostly paid for by their parents.  Its not like they bought that smartphone or pay for the plan, anyway.  And if the site only has a small, carefully selected array of songs from any given artist, how would they even know since all they listen to is that site anyway?
For me, one of the joys - and something I would try to play when I was a DJ at a small college station - was the other, unknown, lesser-played songs on big albums.  Sure, you know that #1 hit from Flash In The Pan, but what about this song, that's even better?  But if you don't actually buy the disc, and if the artist  just puts out studio-crafted repetitive junk, you'll never know what the rest of the songs are, and there aren't any gems to hear anyway.
This attitude of disposable entertainment suits the big companies just fine.  They'd rather you rent songs for pennies forever than buy songs for dollars once.  They'd rather control what you get rather than let you choose and explore.  They'd rather funnel your attention toward what they prefer rather than have you find your own way.
At present, the internet is huge and wild and free, you can go where you want and access what you want.  But internet service providers aren't happy with that.  If all you do is check your e-mail once a day, they love you because that is virtually zero bandwith and costs them almost nothing.  But if you watch Netflix while playing World of Warcraft and download torrents, you're using their product massively more than they are earning off you.
That's why all of them "throttle" heavy use, and heavy load times.  After school, your internet gets slower.  When you start downloading huge files or watching lots of video, your internet gets slower.  That's called "throttling" where they reduce your bandwith.  You're using too much, its stressing their existing framework to deliver content,
The tech exists, but is difficult and expensive right now, to simply cut off your access to sites on the internet.  That tech could easily and I expect very soon will be used to charge for various parts of the internet.  You want to get to Youtube?  Its just 99 cents a day!  Facebook is only a penny an hour!
Every internet provider is owned by a gigantic entertainment giant like Comcast, Time/Warner, etc.  They control entertainment and your internet access.  They want more of your money and more control over what you see and do, to "guide" you toward their products, away from competitors, and into paths that make you a better consumer.
Figure they couldn't get away with that? I remember well scoffing at the idea that anyone would pay monthly rental fees to play online games.  You could play Diablo for free, why would anyone put down ten bucks a month to play Ultima Online (particularly as awful as it was on release)?
Yet here we are, and people expect to pay 15 bucks or more a month - or pay fees to get full access to the game, buy content, and get goodies.  What will you do if all the internet providers start charging extra to go to your favorite sites?  Rebel and stop going to social media?  Refuse to shop on Amazon because of the surcharge?
Paying to access what you ought to own personally carries other costs as well.  I recently found a few minor errors in my latest novel Life Unworthy.  Do I change them in the ebook and POD versions, or leave them as is?  The purist in me says leave it, because that edition is what people have bought.  The editor and perfectionist says "fix it and get it right."  I did just that with Snowberry's Veil, uploading an entirely new version with significant editing and additional parts.
If I correct these errors, then the book you bought won't be the book you now own in your reader.  It will be changed next time you connect to fix the errors.  The book will be more perfect, but it won't be what you bought and read.
What if someone decides a book has a bad word or phrase, or concept in it?  What if some political group or another doesn't care for the content of a book?  What if an author changes their mind on a topic and wants to fix that?  You don't own ebooks.  They are subject to change by the author or even the company that published them or sells them.
What you don't own, another may change or take away.  And your online content isn't forever.  For example, the website Blip had reviews and information on thousands of shows, movies, and more.  They went out of business, and all that... disappeared.
I like to own physical, actual copies of everything.  I am deeply frustrated by Skyrim's decision to go through Steam so that I cannot play the game without online access.  I don't like downloading expansions for World of Warcraft, I like owning a box.  I don't want to "buy" films and songs online, I want to have something I can hold in my hand.
And not having that means you don't actually own it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

GET YOUR OWN OLD HABITS

The Old Habits giveaway has ended; congratulations to Debee Pfaff and Hayley Shaver!  I'll try to get the books in the mail by the end of the month.
This went so well that I'm going to be doing it with my other two books as well. 
 
Old Habits is a fantasy novel, and two winners receive a signed print copy of the book: 
A fortune in lost gems. 
A man on the run from his brothers. 
A dread secret in Castle Dornica. 
Stoce grew up alone on the tough streets of Farport to become an exceptional street thief, but nothing in his life has prepared him for this. Hired for a simple theft, Stoce is now on the run from The Brotherhood. Stalked by deadly assassins in a strange land, Stoce must face an archmage, soldiers, and a host of guards to find the gems he lost. 
But what treacherous plot is unfolding in the castle as he searches, and how does the annoyingly noble paladin Judic fit into this conspiracy? Facing impossible odds and outmatched by dark magic and deadly traps, Stoce uses his stealth and skills to search, to survive, and perhaps to find an even greater treasure.


Friday, December 04, 2015

HOW MANY SHOOTINGS?

There's a couple of stats flying around about mass shootings I want to examine here, since I have a platform for an extended analysis.
The first is from multiple right-leaning sources and it looks like this:
The other is from the website "shooting tracker" as reported on by NBC News.  It claims that in the year of 2015 so far, there have been 355 mass shootings (as defined by 4 or more victims).
Mother Jones has a useful chart of data from the FBI, showing what they consider mass killings going back as far as 1982.  It contradicts the two tables above as well, giving us a third source with statistics.
So which is true, and what's up with all this?  How do we know what is going on? This kind of thing is very frustrating to me and it happens all too often with stats and people throw them around like grenades to destroy their political or ideological opponents.
First off, the FBI defines "mass killings" as "a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders."  They are using a very specific definition here, which some people are playing a bit fast and loose with.
As Stephen Gutowski notes at the Free Beacon:
Though the FBI does not officially count mass shootings, it has studied “active shooter incidents” that involve “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” In a report released last year, the FBI found over a thirteen year period, between 2000 and 2013, there were 160 “active shooter incidents.” Those incidents do not include gang-related shootings, but do include incidents where nobody was shot or killed.
So that's where the 160 number seems to have come from: incidents with someone with a gun in an area attempting to kill folks.  But that's over a 13 year period, which puts it back into the Bush administration. Those kind of events are, however on the rise:

What about that 355 number being thrown around?  Well, the FBI does not consider almost any of those to be "mass killings" because they were extended over a long time period, involved family member shootings, were gang- or drug- related, or otherwise involved in other criminal activity.
See, there's a difference both criminally and logically between someone going around with the intent to just shoot a lot of people... and someone who's breaking and entering, then shoots the whole family or a drug deal that goes wrong and 5 people get killed.  Its even different from a serial killer who kills groups of people as part of a personal sickness.
The "mass killer" is someone who goes into an area just looking for people to murder, usually at random, for no other cause or purpose than to kill and/or cause terror.  And most of the killings that "Shooting Tracker" lists are not that kind. So the data is very skewed.  For their purposes, 4 people in a suicide pact would be on the list, because their only criteria is "4 or more people injured or killed with a gun."
So what's the real number of mass killings, according to the FBI?
Since President Obama took office in 2009, there have been 426 casualties, 224 of them lethal in 28 mass killings. In the previous 8 years, there were just 15 shootings, with 121 lethalities and 211 total casualties. 
Of those, five were Muslim terrorist strikes, including the Boston Marathon bombing and yesterday's killings.  During the Bush administration four happened, including 9/11 and the DC Sniper.
So not 355, not even 160.  But a lot, and way too many.  This doesn't include the numbers fewer than 4, of which there were many more Muslim attacks and attempts at attacks in the USA.
But no matter which one is the best information or how you spin it... this kind of shooting is absolutely on the rise and so are terrorist attacks.  And the change is because of a shift in attitude by the leaders and top officials in law enforcement - President, attorney general, etc - as well as the press.  Their actions and rhetoric are encouraging lawless behavior and getting what they encourage.
It is painfully obvious that what the current leadership in America are doing is not working, and is making matters worse.  Its time for a change, not more of the same. Its time for a different approach.

BLAMING THE GROUP, OR NOT


"I'm sick of these white male NRA Republicans and their mass shootings beca... um, Sayeed Farook? Hey, let's not vilify an entire group."
-Jon Gabriel

Every time something awful happens, particularly some shooting or terrorist event, the same tired arguments come up.  Gun control, who's to blame, gun free zones, on and on.  Leftists tried to attack prayer and God this time around to freshen things up, but that didn't take hold.  But the one that comes up the most with the least real consideration is the "mass blame" one.
You know how it goes.  The quote at the top is a sarcastic example of how it works.  What group gets blamed or not blamed for an event has a lot to do with who they are and what the blamer's politics are.  And too often, blame will shift suddenly in the middle of coverage of an event based on what is revealed over time.
This time, pundits on cable news speculated that this could be a right-wing group or anti-government militia, for example, then had to pull back on the group blame as the names of the suspects were revealed.  "Black Lives Matter" activists (in quotes because they are very selective about which black lives seem to matter to them) blamed white people.  Bill Nye with his bowtie apparently tied too tightly blamed Global Warming for the Paris attacks.  One CNN analyst suggested that perhaps post-partum depression triggered the female terrorist's attack.
Even what the event is called changes based on the politics.  A shooting in a mini mall in Colorado Springs is instantly declared the "Planned Parenthood" shooting.  The killings in San Berardino are considered a "mass shooting" instead of a terrorist attack - a fact that would probably be different had the pipe bombs the terrorists planted gone off.
Something to consider is that this choice of naming is very selective.  The same people who insist we must not blame all Muslims for the repeated murders and terrorist attacks by Muslims will then declare NRA and gun advocates responsible for the deeds of others.  Conversely, the same people who blame Islam for the terrorist acts of some Muslims declare the NRA and gun advocates utterly blameless.
And the reasoning behind this is driven primarily by who this hurts and what effect it has on politics and desired policy.  It has almost nothing to do with the facts or how logical it is, patterns, or reason.
For example, the NRA has been completely opposed to illegal use of guns, murder, mass shootings, and criminal activity every single day of its existence.  It fights for classes on gun safety, higher penalties for the use of guns in crimes, and condemns in its writings and public statements any actions misusing guns.
Islam, on the other hand... not so much.  Even the most moderate and restrained Islamic groups believe that holy war against the unbeliever is called for in the Koran for at least some reasons, and that killing people who are not Muslims is not as significant as killing a Muslim.  Some groups make statements condemning these events, but their scriptures are often supportive of them.
And while the NRA fights to keep guns as free and easy to get as possible, at no point has anyone ever gone on a shooting rampage while yelling NRA slogans.  The NRA is hardly blameless in all of its actions, but they've done nothing to even indirectly encourage or call people to go on a murderous rampage.
But Islam is full of clerics and mullahs who do just that, specifically, directly, and repeatedly calling for the death of the unbeliever and for Muslims to rise up and destroy entire peoples.
Does this mean all Muslims are one step away from terrorism?  Absolutely not - the great majority of Muslims oppose terrorism and sympathize with the victims.  And while some are not particularly upset with these events and terrorist strikes, they personally would not ever do such a thing.
But it does mean that it is irrational and ridiculous to try so hard to not associate Muslim terrorist actions with Islam.  If we kept having worldwide horrific atrocities committed by people who claimed to be, I don't know, Amish, then we'd definitely have reason to look with suspicion, alarm, and concern upon the Amish.  I mean if every time there was a barn raising, they cut the head off 15 men then raped their wives and daughters... would it not be rational to assume there's a problem with the Amish?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CRYBULLIES: WEAPONIZED VICTIMHOOD

"The freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered."

There's a new sort of protest in town, and its name is "Crybullying."  The first place I saw that name was in The Spectator, where they described its use across America:
This is the age of the Cry-Bully, a hideous hybrid of victim and victor, weeper and walloper. They are everywhere, these duplicit Pushmi-Pullyus of the personal and the political, from Celebrity Big Brother to the frontline of Islamism. Jeremy Clarkson is a prime cry bully, punching a producer and then whining in The Sunday Times about ‘losing my baby’ (The baby being Top Gear). Perez Hilton, recently of the CBB house, is a good example too, screaming abuse at his wretched room-mates until they snapped and hit back, at which point he would dissolve in floods of tears and flee to the Diary Room to claim that he felt ‘unsafe’. Stephen Fry is one, forever banging on about his own mental fragility yet mocking Stephen Hawking’s voice at a recent awards ceremony.
Crymobs will “safebait” by yelling and pushing and then whining that the people they’re shoving make them feel unsafe. One crybully safebaiting tactic is to yell loudly, forcing anyone talking back to them to raise their voice. That’s when other crybullies begin shouting, “Don’t yell at her.” Crybullies will push into you and cry that you’re making them feel unsafe. They will hit you and when you raise your hands in self-defense, they will scream that you’re putting your hands on them.
The article goes on about Social Media calling for enemies to be attacked and their homes publicized, then whining when people respond negatively, or Muslims hacking heads off then whining about Islamophobia.  
But there is a new and particularly virulent sort displayed by the modern college student protester, as shown in several very recent incidents.  One such example is Dartmouth, where "Black Lives Matter" activists went into athe Baker-Berry Library and began verbally assaulting, mocking, and swearing at white students trying to study there.
“F*** you, you filthy white f***s!”
“F*** you, you filthy white f***s!”
“F*** you and your comfort!”
“F*** you, you racist s***!”
What supposedly had been a protest about changing a display in the student center turned into an all out assault, complete with racism.
Another example is University of Missouri ("Mizzou"), where students shoved, hit, and yelled at astudent journalist trying to document their "protest" then cried "don't yell at me" when he raised his voice to be heard -- almost exactly what Julie Burchill noted in the Spectator piece above.  They were supposedly there to protest, but turned violent and angry at someone like mobs tend to do.
Or at University of Texas-Austin where "protesters" disrupted an Israeli Studies event, shouting slogans including "long live the intafada" (in which palestinans are called to stab and kill Israelis).  The university took swift action to... apologize to the ones who disrupted the event and start an investigation into civil rights violations by the filthy Joo lovers Israeli Studies students and profs.
Crybullies are not protesting anything so much as just trying to intimidate and attack people they disagree with and do not like.  They try to frame it in terms of safe spaces and being oppressed, but in the end, all this is about is silencing and destroying what you do not like.  Or, as Mizzou vice president of the Missouri Students Association, Brenda Smith-Lezama puts it "I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here."
The rash of faux hate crimes wherein people stage a "hate crime" and then call attention to it, demanding action taken against their enemies, is reaching epidemic state.  Its a useful tool in a college environment where the administration is as leftist and radical as the students and always willing to take strong actions against the politically incorrect, sometimes in the face of all evidence and facts.
Instead of standing against some perceived injustice, students are now starting to do injustice, against their enemies, then cry foul when someone disagrees or protests.  The entire dynamic has shifted from Martin Luther King-era peaceful protests to late 60's violent riots.  As I wrote about in the Common Knowledge series, the Kent State shootings were in response to over a week of arson, violence, destruction of property, and chaos on campus, spilling into town.  There's even audio evidence of someone shooting at the national guardsmen before they open fire.
Apparently knowing that coverage of these antics will harm their cause, these crybullies try to ban journalists from being present at their events, such as at Mizzou above and Loyola University.  "Black Lives Matter" activists at Mizzou later decided that only journalists who'd report on them supportively and positively should be allowed.
Its the same approach as people who actively try to destroy businesses that will now bow to their demands and cry victimhood in the process.  Its the kind of madness in which a person claims their civil rights are being violated because a business they want to destroy won't sell them what they insist upon.
But increasingly, the radical left is moving from peaceful hippie types to violent, angry types who want to destroy and break rather than create and unite.  They claim racism, but the only racism on display is by them.  They claim oppression, but they're the only ones that demonstrate it.  And in the end, they are everything they supposedly stand against - every tactic, every evil - in the name of being better and more right than their opponents.
Because, after all, the ends justify the means, right?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

FOR THE RECORD

"Its time for a Social Justice XMas!"

Christmas time is closing in on us again.  Some stores had decorations and supplies up before Halloween, and some businesses were running vaguely Christmas holiday-themed ads before Halloween as well.
The most recent information I read shows that Halloween is actually a more popular holiday than Christmas today, with kids wishing Halloween would come sooner, last longer, and be more often through the year than Christmas.  I guess if you get gifts and goodies all year long, one day where you get some more doesn't mean much.  At least on Halloween you get to dress up.
As usual this time of year, people try to bend the events celebrated on Christmas to their political and social ends.  Even some churches are guilty of this, posting about how a homeless refugee immigrant palestinian teen mother was turned away by cruel, heartless, and greedy businessmen.
Others, who routinely mock Jesus, disregard the Bible, and hurl contempt upon Christianity still try to use this same narrative about Christmas.
So, to clarify matters, I'd like to make a statement here so that we can all understand the events better.
  • Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem were not homeless, they had a home in Nazareth.
  • They were not refugees, they were not fleeing a war-torn land. They were traveling to register for the census for tax purposes.
  • They were not immigrants, once they had done what the government required, they were planning to go home.
  • They were not turned away from the Inn by greedy or selfish rich people, the inn was jam packed with other people traveling to the area for the same reason - census, taxes.
The lesson of that day was not how cruel people are and how we should take people in, but how humble the origins and birth of the King of Kings was. The story of Christmas is about Jesus Christ, not some political agenda anyone wants to shoehorn into the text or stamp upon it to prove their point.
Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and sin-nature, to live a perfect life we could not live, and to purchase our salvation at the dearest price possible.  That's the message of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NOT REALLY MUSLIM

"There is no true Scotsman"

Several times on this blog in the past I've pointed out that President Barack Husein Obama is not a Christian despite claiming to be so.  I do so because his claim to be Christian is absolutely not backed up with any actual Christian beliefs or doctrine.  In fact, he defines sin, God, truth, and basically every other fundamental Christian doctrine differently than Christianity does.  I doubt he has any religion at all, other than Obamaism, where he is the supreme being.
However, on the whole, I do not like to pontificate on other people's religion.  KKK members claim to be Chistian, and while their racist, idiotic behavior defies that, they may otherwise be quite faithful.  The Westboro Baptist members claim to be Christian, and perhaps at least some of them are - I do not know their hearts or the rest of their beliefs or actions.  Only God does.  In the end, if someone claims to be of a faith, and their beliefs and statements of faith do not conflict with their confession, I think we have to take them at their word.
Which brings us to Islam, wherein the President of the United States and many perhaps (more on this later) well-meaning leftists insist that terrorists cannot be Muslim.  Every time a Muslim does something horrific, they instantly declare this to not be terrorism, or if it is, not really the act of a Muslim, no matter what they say.  Yes, technically they may have been screaming "Allahu Akbar" and be a regular Mosque attendee who owns and reveres a Koran, but they're a false Muslim.  That's the line, always.
And to me it seems incredibly arrogant and condescending.  IS -- Islamic States -- has ISLAMIC in the name, yet somehow they're not real Muslims, according to the left.  Recently a fellow named Faisal Saeed Al Mutar wrote about this phenomenon and I want to quote the facebook post in its entirety:
It must be incredibly frustrating as an Islamic terrorist not to have your views and motives taken seriously by the societies you terrorize, even after you have explicitly and repeatedly stated them. Even worse, those on the regressive left, in their endless capacity for masochism and self-loathing, have attempted to shift blame inwardly on themselves, denying the terrorists even the satisfaction of claiming responsibility.
It's like a bad Monty Python sketch:

"We did this because our holy texts exhort us to to do it."
"No you didn't."
"Wait, what? Yes we did..."
"No, this has nothing to do with religion. You guys are just using religion as a front for social and geopolitical reasons."
"WHAT!? Did you even read our official statement? We give explicit Quranic justification. This is jihad, a holy crusade against pagans, blasphemers, and disbelievers."
"No, this is definitely not a Muslim thing. You guys are not true Muslims, and you defame a great religion by saying so."
"Huh!? Who are you to tell us we're not true Muslims!? Islam is literally at the core of everything we do, and we have implemented the truest most literal and honest interpretation of its founding texts. It is our very reason for being."
"Nope. We created you. We installed a social and economic system that alienates and disenfranchises you, and that's why you did this. We're sorry."
"What? Why are you apologizing? We just slaughtered you mercilessly in the streets. We targeted unwitting civilians - disenfranchisement doesn't even enter into it!"
"Listen, it's our fault. We don't blame you for feeling unwelcome and lashing out."
"Seriously, stop taking credit for this! We worked really hard to pull this off, and we're not going to let you take it away from us."
"No, we nourished your extremism. We accept full blame."

"OMG, how many people do we have to kill around here to finally get our message across?"
Its insulting and idiotic.  They claim some Muslim clerics condemn these actions and people, but then some cheer, support, and encourage it (more than the few that condemn it, from what I've seen).  They claim that the Koran condemns this kind of behavior, and it does.  But the Koran also supports and encourages it.  
And what's more, the Hadith and the later teachings of Muslim scholars support and encourage these evil acts.  And unlike Protestant Christianity, Islam teaches that the Koran is not the exclusive and complete word of God, but that later teachings add to and expand Islam.  Those statements by Sharia Court clerics aren't just legal statements, they become part of official Muslim doctrine, they are Islamic religion now.

So why do the left insist on this idiotic, vapid, and unsupportable nonsense?  Why repeat this lie?  Well, I believe there's a variety of reasons
First, they are more afraid and concerned about backlash and reprisals against Muslims than they are the actual terrorist attacks.  They're so afraid that stupid knuckle-dragging right wingers are going to start lynching Muslims that they feel the need to make this defenseless lie about their true state of faith.
Second, they are afraid of being racist, or seeming racist, which in their somewhat lunatic mindset, opposing Islam becomes.  For them, Islam is another race, or at least represents people of another race, so that opposition to it becomes racism.  And that's the ultimate sin to a leftist, who wants to be seen as the good guy in the room as opposed to all of you people.
Third, they are worried that admitting and condemning Muslim radicalism means support for war, and they are using the Drum Principle in which you recognize evil but do not condemn it because that might be used for support of something you don't like.  So they condemn terrorism but make sure its in a way that can't be used to take any actual tangible action (other than something absurd like gun control - given that Paris has heavy gun control and all the weapons used were already illegal).
Fourth, they tend to view Muslims as an oppressed "other" minority, who only do bad things because they are cruelly abused by the oppressor (white male Europeans), and must be defended against this cruelty.  By declaring the bad guys un-Muslim, then they are not part of the group that must be protected.
Fifth, they're playing for the team.  They step back, see who is cheering for what, and go with that.  The right condemns Muslim radicalism?  Well then that must be incorrect, because everything the other team does and says is necessarily wrong.
Sixth, the left feels that if they deny bad guys are Muslim, they are supporting who they view as "moderate" Muslims that claim the same thing, and think this lends legitimacy to the claim as well as moral support and encouragement to the good guys.
Finally, the left relies on Muslim immigration for votes and support for their plans to undermine and destroy capitalism, the given culture, traditions, and past of a nation, to clear the way for their golden utopian schemes.  So they need to pander to Muslims and protect them for the votes.
So you get this stupid, insane line about Muslims not being actual Muslims.  After all, they're only brown people and we on the left know better than they do what they think.
*UPDATE: A brief video showing how idiotically silly all this is:

Monday, November 09, 2015

SCREWTAPE PROPOSES A TOAST

C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, published in 1942 is a fictitious series of letters between a young demon attempting to tempt a target, and an older, more experienced demon.  The letters are written from the perspective of the bad guys, referring to God as "the enemy" and the device was very effective at getting subtle and powerful concepts across in a creative way.

At the end of the book is this extended segment, which is a speech given by the now-skilled Screwtape, to all of the assembled graduating demons.  And it is chillingly appropriate to our day and culture.
It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation I awaited my own first appointment. I hope, and believe, that each one of you has the same uneasiness tonight. Your career is before you. Hell expects and demands that it should be — as mine was — one of unbroken success. If it is not, you know what awaits you.

I have no wish to reduce the wholesome and realistic element of terror, the unremitting anxiety, which must act as the lash and spur to your endeavours. How often you will envy the humans their faculty of sleep! Yet at the same time I would wish to put before you a moderately encouraging view of the strategical situation as a whole.

Your dreaded Principal has included in a speech full of points something like an apology for the banquet which he has set before us. Well, gentledevils, no one blames him. But it would be in vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid.

Oh, to get one’s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your inwards when you’d got it down.

Instead of this, what have we had tonight? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistakably a Little Man — a creature of the petty rake-off pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stalest platitudes in his public utterances — a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realizing that he was corrupt, and chiefly because everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn’t. They all tasted to me like undersexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their “normalcy,” or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Cassanova, they were nauseating. The Trade Unionist stuffed with sedition was perhaps a shade better. He had done some real harm. He had, not quite unknowingly, worked for bloodshed, famine, and the extinction of liberty. Yes, in a way. But what a way! He thought of those ultimate objectives so little. Toeing the party line, self-importance, and above all mere routine, were what really dominated his life.

But now comes the point. Gastronomically, all this is deplorable. But I hope none of us puts gastronomy first. Is it not, in another and far more serious way, full of hope and promise?

Consider, first, the mere quantity. The quality may be wretched; but we never had souls (of a sort) in more abundance.

And then the triumph. We are tempted to say that such souls — or such residual puddles of what once was soul — are hardly worth damning. Yes, but the Enemy (for whatever inscrutable and perverse reason) thought them worth trying to save. Believe me, He did. You youngsters who have not yet been on active duty have no idea with what labour, with what delicate skill, each of these miserable creatures was finally captured.

The difficulty lay in their very smallness and flabbiness. Here were vermin so muddled in mind, so passively responsive to environment, that it was very hard to raise them to that level of clarity and deliberateness at which mortal sin becomes possible. To raise them just enough; but not that fatal millimetre of “too much.” For then, of course, all would possibly have been lost. They might have seen; they might have repented. On the other hand, if they had been raised too little, they would very possibly have qualified for Limbo, as creatures suitable neither for Heaven nor for Hell; things that, having failed to make the grade, are allowed to sink into a more or less contented subhumanity forever.

In each individual choice of what the Enemy would call the “wrong” turning, such creatures are at first hardly, if at all, in a state of full spiritual responsibility. They do not understand either the source or the real character of the prohibitions they are breaking. Their consciousness hardly exists apart from the social atmosphere that surrounds them. And of course we have contrived that their very language should be all smudge and blur; what would be a bribe in someone else’s profession is a tip or a present in theirs. The job of their Tempters was first, or course, to harden these choices of the Hellward roads into a habit by steady repetition. But then (and this was all-important) to turn the habit into a principle — a principle the creature is prepared to defend. After that, all will go well. Conformity to the social environment, at first merely instinctive or even mechanical — how should a jelly not conform? — now becomes an unacknowledged creed or ideal of Togetherness or Being Like Folks. Mere ignorance of the law they break now turns into a vague theory about it — remember, they know no history — a theory expressed by calling it conventional or Puritan or bourgeois “morality.” Thus gradually there comes to exist at the center of the creature a hard, tight, settled core of resolution to go on being what it is, and even to resist moods that might tend to alter it. It is a very small core; not at all reflective (they are too ignorant) nor defiant (their emotional and imaginative poverty excludes that); almost, in its own way, prim and demure; like a pebble, or a very young cancer. But it will serve our turn. Here at last is a real and deliberate, though not fully articulate, rejection of what the Enemy calls Grace.

These, then, are two welcome phenomena. First, the abundance of our captures: however tasteless our fare, we are in no danger of famine. And secondly, the triumph: the skill of our Tempters has never stood higher. But the third moral, which I have not yet drawn, is the most important of all.

The sort of souls on whose despair and ruin we have — well, I won’t say feasted, but at any rate subsisted — tonight are increasing in numbers and will continue to increase. Our advices from Lower Command assure us that this is so; our directives warn us to orient all our tactics in view of this situation. The “great” sinners, those in whom vivid and genial passions have been pushed beyond the bounds and in whom an immense concentration of will has been devoted to objects which the Enemy abhors, will not disappear. But they will grow rarer. Our catches will be ever more numerous; but they will consist increasingly of trash — trash which we should once have thrown to Cerberus and the hellhounds as unfit for diabolical consumption. And there are two things I want you to understand about this: First, that however depressing it might seem, it is really a change for the better. And secondly, I would draw your attention to the means by which it has been brought about.

It is a change for the better. The great (and toothsome) sinners are made out of the very same material as those horrible phenomena the great Saints. The virtual disappearance of such material may mean insipid meals for us. But is it not utter frustration and famine for the Enemy? He did not create the humans — He did not become one of them and die among them by torture — in order to produce candidates for Limbo, “failed” humans. He wanted to make them Saints; gods; things like Himself. Is the dullness of your present fare not a very small price to pay for the delicious knowledge that His whole great experiment is petering out? But not only that. As the great sinners grow fewer, and the majority lose all individuality, the great sinners become far more effective agents for us. Every dictator or even demagogue — almost every film star or [rock star] — can now draw tens of thousands of the human sheep with him. They give themselves (what there is of them) to him; in him, to us. There may come a time when we shall have no need to bother about individual temptation at all, except for the few. Catch the bellwether, and his whole flock comes after him.

Friday, October 30, 2015

THE BOY IN THE BUBBLE GROWS UP

"I was tired of going to the sports field and seeing moms say, 'Great job at going up to bat.' It hit me early on that kids could see through inane compliments."

Several times in the past, this blog has covered the phenomenon of how modern young people are protected from reality, failure, and challenge.  Efforts to stop competition, trophies for merely taking part in an event, "graduating" from 5th to 6th grade, on and on the list goes.  Girls are to be protected from anything that could make them feel less than omnipotent.  Boys are to be kept from feeling poorly about themselves.
In the 90s the movement was all about self esteem and making sure young people felt good about themselves.  Every effort was made to ensure that no child ever felt less than wonderful about their abilties and selves in all situations, no matter how poorly they did.  Yes, technically that's not how you spell horse, but its their spelling and correcting them will damage their inner child.
Time has passed and now even the Huffington Post is noting that this whole movement was actually a really bad idea.  In The Atlantic, a writer noted that the self esteem movement has been destructive, and articles have been showing up lately all across the political, ideological, and social spectrum.  This was exactly the terrible idea and failure that people warned it would be and were mocked and attacked for saying so at the time.
But while the term "self esteem" and the rest of the psychobabble garbage like "inner child" has been jettisoned and now rightly criticized, the bubble is still there around the children.  Children, not allowed to fail, are still being praised for failure, protected from negative consequence, and awarded for mediocrity and merely being present.
For years, many including myself have been saying "wait til you grow up" because reality is not so coddling, protective, and flexible.  They'll grow up, people said, when they are forced to.  I've said that.
Except its not happening.
These kids are growing up, entering an increasing hostile real world environment and instead of growing up, they're throwing increasingly bigger tantrums.  During the Occupy movement, this was noted on by myself and others quite often.  These weren't adults frustrated with the abuse of power and the way the super wealthy were being bailed out, they were perpetual adolescents screaming that they had to pay back their loans.
People are stunned and repulsed by the way college campuses have become lately.  Every boy is considered a rapist, every girl a fragile princess.  Every statement that is not exactly according to the approved (ever-changing) party line is declared a "microaggression."  Every person that dares to question the top-down imposed dogma is considered a monster, drummed out of the public arena, their papers torn down, clubs closed or denied application, speeches canceled.
EMOTIONALLY UNPREPARED
One incredibly egregious example springs to mind.  Recently, Williams College held a speaking series on "Uncomfortable Learning."  One of the speakers invited was Suzanne Venker, a woman very critical of what passes for modern feminism and its extremes.  The students revolted.  This was an uncomfort too far:
it was the students who host the Uncomfortable Learning series—an unofficial, unregistered campus club—who ultimately made the decision.

“They were feeling very uncomfortable about the amount of protest and the tenor of the protest that was going on,” said Dettloff. “Students were being very vocal about not wanting her to come here. I think it was just getting a lit bit over the top.”
Yeah, you read that right.  The club became uncomfortable with this Uncomfortable Learning speaker, so they canceled her.  I doubt a single one of them even recognized the hypocrisy and irony.  I wonder if they even could define the term "irony," where the apparent is the opposite of the actual.
In a recent First Year College Experience survey of over 1500 students, they found that 60% of incoming Freshmen felt "emotionally unprepared" for college.  These students complained that they felt stressed "most or all of the time."  Now, the difference here is not that students in the past never felt this way.  College is very stressful, at least at a good one.  The studies are challenging, the writing is difficult, and there is a very increased load of required study each day for each class as compared to previous schooling.  Students are often away from home for the first extended period in their lives, and have to learn to transition into more of a real world setting, where they do not get things for free and have to work to attain their goals.  Its always been stressful that first year, and is the following years as well, although students learn skills and habits that assist them in dealing with it.
The difference today is that students are being blocked from ever learning any skills that would remotely assist them in dealing with change, stress, and hardship.  At Psychology Today, Stanton Peel writes
...helicoptering is de rigueur for today's parents. Meanwhile, Bips indicates, "The number of students who arrive at college already medicated for unwanted emotions has increased dramatically in the past 10 years. We, as a society, don't want to feel anything unpleasant and we certainly don't want our children to suffer." And what professional is going to suggest weaning kids from [this]?
Dr Peel mentions suicides on college campuses (which are on the increase) and points out
according to the experts, coddling contributes to such horrific outcomes. As Bips puts it, "Many of today's students lack resilience and at the first sign of difficulty are unable to summon strategies to cope."
Dr Diane Dreher also at Psychology Today, agrees:
Overcontrolling parents love their children and want to protect them from what they see as an increasingly dangerous world. So they frantically package them for success, protecting their children from failure while pressuring them to excel, doing their homework, making their decisions, and micromanaging their lives. Yet these parents may be depriving their children of essential brain development, sabotaging their ability to think for themselves and develop the very cognitive skills they need to succeed in life.
...
Students raised by overcontrolling parents have difficulty dealing with the challenges of college life because they’ve been denied the opportunity to develop age-appropriate cognitive function. Insecure, confused, and emotionally fragile, they experience high anxiety and chronic stress, which further weakens their cognitive ability. As research in my lab has shown, they are deficient in optimism and hope—the ability to set goals, make plans, and follow through.
Boomers were raised by parents determined that their kids would not face the awful fears and lacks that they grew up with - the depression, WW2, and so on.  So their kids ended up too fat, comfortable, protected, and often spoiled - and they threw a tantrum that ripped the nation to pieces.  But the children of today are getting the same treatment.  My baby will never feel bad about being called fat!  My baby will not deal with the horror of not having every new toy they demanded like I was!  And whereas wanting your children not to starve and face the horrors of the depression, these parents have absolutely no rational basis for their expectations.
But its not just parents.  Teachers are in on it too, and they have more waking hours with each student per day than the parents get through their learning years.  Teachers avoid competitive efforts, reward simply showing up, are very reluctant to correct and criticize, and do their best to protect and coddle children as well.
THE CONSEQUENCES
As a result of being utterly unprepared to face real life, of being protected, controlled, and coddled, these kids are never allowed to begin to learn the skills of dealing with frustration, stress, difficulty, competition, and failure.  The result is that colleges are filled increasingly with emotionally immature students that cannot actually face any real learning or challenge.
Dr Peter Gray, also at Psychology Today writes:
  • Less resilient and needy students have shaped the landscape for faculty in that they are expected to do more handholding, lower their academic standards, and not challenge students too much.
  • There is a sense of helplessness among the faculty. Many faculty members expressed their frustration with the current situation. There were few ideas about what we could do as an institution to address the issue.
  • Students are afraid to fail; they do not take risks; they need to be certain about things. For many of them, failure is seen as catastrophic and unacceptable. External measures of success are more important than learning and autonomous development.
  • Faculty, particularly young faculty members, feel pressured to accede to student wishes lest they get low teacher ratings from their students. Students email about trivial things and expect prompt replies.
And the real problems are only beginning here.  Stewed in a nearly unchallenged monolithic worldview and political perspective, students are also raised with radical chic to be protesters, rejecting tradition and authority, doubting anything their parents believe and that they were raised on, praised for being habitually offended and finding fault in treatment, and ultimately end up unstable and unbalanced.
As Ace put it recently in an article about Social Justice Warriors and their infantile nonsense:
All juveniles do this -- they're literally trying to figure out who they are, and what makes them "special," and very into contrived self-definitions. All that crap about being so into this band or that one, or this music genre or that, or this type of fashion -- all that crap is people who have never done anything interesting or remarkable attempting to contrive some Medal, some Decoration they can put upon their chest to make them stand out (if only in their imaginations).

This silly crap about "graysexuals" and "aromantics" is just the latest, most rancidly stupid variation of this unfortunate tendency -- the radiant narcissism of the unfashionably plain and heroically unaccomplished.
Its part of growing up, its part of developing a distinct, self-sufficient identity.  Each of us strives to understand what sets us apart and who we are as separate from all those around us and who we've grown up with.But the culture we're in now results in people never getting past this stage.

This combination results in ridiculous nonsense such as the students of the "Uncomfortable Learning" lecture series rejecting discomfort.  They see nooses in trees, rapists in every date, and oh yes, microaggressions.  These children raised by people shielding them from any slightest discomfort or disagreement are so totally unprepared for when they take place that they throw a tantrum when it happens.
Now, when your children do this, you're supposed to teach them to learn to deal with the problem and guide their outrage to more constructive, productive directions.  They learn to handle it just like learning to handle their first physical pain.  Things that drive a child into screaming tears an adult grumbles at and goes on with their life - we're used to it, we know what it is, where it goes, how long it lasts, and have developed the ability to cope.  Children haven't gotten that yet, all they know is that it hurts in a way they've never even conceived of before.  So we teach them and help them through it, we don't protect them from ever letting it happen because we know they have to learn.
Yet when it comes to emotional challenges and upsets, this has never taken place with far too many children.  And to make matters far, far worse, colleges encourage this outraged screaming tantrum.  They find it exhilarating and wonderful.  They're rebelling against the cruelties of society, man.  Its so groovy.  Spurred on by social media support and legacy media coverage, these young people are not actually learning to deal with emotional troubles.  They're being cheered on as they throw a tantrum.
Jonathan Hait points out that this is creating a culture of victimhood, where being treated as one demands is presumed, not earned - and every lack of exact treatment is an outrage that must be punished. Its not enough to simply insist, today those who will not comply must be destroyed.
But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim.
These people are so wholly unable to face reality and so totally encouraged to not do so that they're turning into a generation of vengeful, conquering litigants and tantrum-throwers that cry "witch!" at the slightest cause.
The key idea is that the new moral culture of victimhood fosters “moral dependence” and an atrophying of the ability to handle small interpersonal matters on one’s own. At the same time that it weakens individuals, it creates a society of constant and intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.
These young people are weak, very weak, and unable to face the world which confronts them with a frustratingly common tendency to reject their demands.  And when reality will not give way to their immature insistence, they demand punishment of those they hold responsible.
These young people are not learning to deal with life as we expected.  They're learning tools to continue avoiding dealing with life, and being given every assistance to do so by radicals and leftists in our culture.  Why, college costs so much, lets force everyone else to pay for it instead.  Why, you owe a lot of money from the loans you signed up for in good faith?   Lets just forgive those loans so you don't have to pay.  That guy believes something now considered heretical?  Destroy them.  Force them out of their job.  Ruin their lives.  Drive them away from society.
THE FUTURE
And there is no reason to believe this ends at graduation.  Businesses are increasingly pressured to permit this to go on rather than require employees to grow up.  Not only are fewer and fewer truly mature, adult employees available on the market, but lawsuits, social media attacks, legacy media hit pieces, and political pressure is being laid to bear on companies.
  • Your business needs a safe space where people can go to when they feel too triggered or have faced too many microaggressions.
  • Your business must have trans-friendly bathroom policies where you pretend a mangled man is now a woman and can go into the lady's room.
  • Your business must not only not spend anything on any condemned ideas such as psychological assistance for homosexual youths, but most actively and publicly support the opposite.
  • Your business cannot promote, hire, or fire on the basis of competency and excellence, but treat employees equally and with similar positive treatment.
  • Your business must accept this person who may even refuse to do part of the work they are paid for, or are physically or mentally incapable of doing, because to do so will make them feel undignified and unhappy.
We used to ask, what will happen to these young people when they face the cruel hard world?  Well now we know.  They'll sue and pressure everyone to pretend the world isn't cruel and hard.  They'll demand and get regulations and laws to keep them from facing the hardships and challenges of life.  They will require everyone else to suffer and do extra so they will not have to.
This is our future, unless we grow up as a people.  It will happen, eventually.  Either it will occur due to a seismic shift in culture, or due to a catastrophic force compelling us to.  But either way, it will happen.  And the people who'll suffer the most are the children we're raising now to be the least able to face it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

THE MAN FROM SKIBBEREEN

Louis L'Amour is one of my favorite authors.  He had no pretensions to literature or fine writing.  He did not try to craft a "significant" book or write the "Great American Novel."  He was a storyteller and every book was like sitting around a campfire listening to an old man tell a tale of the past.  Each book reaches readers immediately and pulls them through the story that is at the same time familiar yet fascinatingly new.
That's the kind of author I want to be.  I don't want to win awards and be lauded by all the "right people," I want to be read.  Here's a portion from L'Amour's book The Man from Skibbereen that struck me very powerfully:
Far off, a few lights appeared.
Fort Laramie, a few nearby ranches.  How warm and welcoming a house light looks to a lonely night-riding man!  Someday with luck he would walk into such a house, strike a match, lift the chimney and touch the flame to the wick of his own lamp, sit down in his own house.  He would smell the fire smells, the warm cooking smells, and he would stretch out his legs under his table with a faint sigh.  He would rest then... he would dream, and he would rise from time to time to add a log or to stir the coals of his own fire.
For a time now he had been passing lighted windows, but always in the solitary houses of other men.  He slowed his horse.  He was near a house and a man was leaving the stable carrying a lantern and a milk pail.  He was walking slowly to the house with a small halo of light about his feet, a homely halo, not of heaven this, but of peace, of home.
His door would creak open, it would close behind him, and the night would be dark again, but a resting dark.  The man would sit down, relax tired muscles, and reach for a newspaper or book, or he would talk in low tones to his wife.
"Let us not lose this," Cris muttered aloud, "let us not lose this God, for there is no greater beauty, no better hour."
Just a simple scene in the middle of the action, but so evocative.  Its the kind of powerful scene someone who has always known comfort and ease couldn't even imagine, but begins to understand through L'Amour's words.
That's how to tell a story.

Monday, October 12, 2015

MULTICULTURALISM OF IDEAS

"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?
MULTICULTI
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.
THE SOUP
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.
MULTI-IDEOLOGY
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.