Stereotypes versus political correctness

My husband and I discussed the concept of stereotypes with the kids.  What we were trying to get through to them is that it’s wrong to take ideas about a group, even if those ideas are complimentary or accurate, and to assume that they apply to an individual.  The mere fact that Jews tend to have higher IQs doesn’t automatically mean that Joe Schmostein is smart.  On the other side of the balance, merely because blondes are the butt of myriad dumb blonde jokes still means it’s a huge mistake to assume that a given blonde is dumb.  (And, Z, because you’re very literal, let me say here that I realize that dumb blonde jokes are just that — jokes — but they’re still a useful rhetorical tool for discussing stereotyping.)

What both my husband and my children had a problem with was that, while it’s wrong to apply stereotypes to individuals, and while it’s wrong to perpetuate lies about an entire group to satisfy ones biases (e.g., those dumb blondes), that doesn’t make it at all invalid to look at group behavior and draw conclusions about the group.  If the numbers show that Chinese people consume more rice more capita than other people (I’m guessing here, but it sounds reasonable), the existence of this data means that this statement isn’t a stereotype, it’s a fact.  That fact’s existence doesn’t mean that any individual Chinese person should be assumed to like rice (ask first before serving), but it does mean that there is an operating truism about the group.

Mr. Bookworm’s confusion about stereotypes versus factual data about a defined group became apparent when the conversation in the car turned to war atrocities (my children are at the ghoulish phase), and my son raised the subject of genital mutilation.  In a previous ghoulish conversation, I’d told him that the Japanese, during the Rape of Nanking, subjected women to genital mutilation as part of their torture and murder.  I then mentioned that Arabs are well-known for castrating their enemies.

My husband was outraged:  “That’s a stereotype!”  “No,” I said, “in terms of the cultural norms of warfare, that’s a fact.  I’m not saying that all Arabs slice off their enemies’ penises.  I’m just saying that it is a typical and traditional Arab approach to war.”  He subsided, unconvinced.

I doubt even this horrific story will cut through his PC, multi-culti world view to convince him:

Devotedly washed and sprinkled with rose petals, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb lies prepared for burial.

But the rituals of death cannot wipe away the horrific injuries that have mutilated his body almost beyond recognition.

Nor do they blot out that Hamza – riddled with bullets, kneecapped and with neck broken and penis hacked off – has the rounded cheeks and gentle face of a child.

[snip]

The teenager’s family were told not to speak of his terrible fate. But in a pitiful act of defiance, they posted the footage of his corpse online.

[snip]

An unseen attendant tenderly shifts the scarred limbs and head so that the viewer can see each injury, including two bullets which were fired through each arm and then entered his chest.

‘Look at the evidence of his torture,’ the narrator urges. ‘Take a look at the bruises on his face and his neck that was broken. Take a look at the bruises on his right legs

‘In addition there is worse. They did not satisfy themselves with all the torturing so they cut off his genitals.’

Savage cultures do savage things, and all the multi-culti pieties in the world won’t erase the fact that the savage Muslim/Arab culture is committed to male genital attacks as a sign of power.

About those Obama popularity polls (and the media’s role)

CNN just released its latest poll, showing climbing support for Obama.  Ed Morrissey is suspicious, since it’s hard to reconcile the low poll numbers on specifics (economy, national security, etc.) with the high numbers for Obama himself.  Suspicions, though, are all Ed’s got, because CNN has withheld demographic data.  This matters a lot because, lately, polls have been oversampling self-identified Democrats, which is going to skew a given poll’s outcome.

I’m actually less surprised than Ed is.  I think it’s entirely possible for the public to hold simultaneously two entirely conflicting ideas.  In this case, those incompatible ideas are “(1) I dislike Obama’s policies and his effectiveness and (2) I think he’s a good president.”  The answer lies in the media.

The facts on the ground say that Obama is either a worse president than Bush (terrible economy; overt hostility to Israel, a country that Americans like; creator of the much-disliked ObamaCare; etc.) or or the same president as Bush (war, war, war).  As to that last — the war, war, war bit — Obama has even overtaken Bush, as he’s presiding over three wars, not just two, one of which happens to be illegal for anyone believing there’s virtue to obliging a president to comply with little ol’ American laws, such as the War Powers Act.

So why do people like Obama?  Because the media tells them to.  The media tells them he’s handsome, charming, brilliant and efficient.  The same media told people Bush was ugly, stupid, and evil.  The media drum beat, whether extolling Obama or excoriating Bush has been relentless.

Here’s a teeny example:  Obama horribly botched his toast to Queen Elizabeth.  Had Bush done that, it would have become a running joke on Jay Leno, not just for days, but for years.  (Leno is still coming back to “Bush is dumb” jokes.)  As it is, Leno hasn’t touched it or, if he did, he did so with such delicacy I missed it entirely.  A public that doesn’t pay much attention to details, primarily because those details are being withheld, isn’t having drummed into it the fact that Obama is inept.

Our minds are complicated things.  We all know that people can cling to biases even as they acknowledge the facts that put the lie to their own prejudices.  One can easily imagine someone saying “I know the economy sucks and that I don’t like Obama’s policies but, I don’t know why, I still like the guy.”  Well, I do know why:  it’s because the guy is being propped up, while the other guy (that would be Bush) was the subject of unrelenting, vicious, overt and covert attacks for eight solid years.

Reflections on Iraq…and Syria

Yes, we won the war in Iraq and, as the inimitable Walter Russell Mead points out, we may have changed the course of history. Sure, it’s still early and there are many events that still have to play themselves out, but Iraq today is a country at relative peace surrounded by dangerous turbulence.

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/05/29/memorial-day-the-war-in-iraq/

The remaining question, though, is what happens to the rest of the Middle East? In the name of “human rights”, the U.S. administration attacks Libya, the only Arab regime that had negotiated a working relationship with the U.S post-Iraq, while playing nice with a Syrian regime that slaughters demonstrators does this to children (WARNING: Graphic Description):

http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/05/syrian-regime-burns-tortures-bloodies-13-year-old-protester-then-kill-him-video/

Meanwhile, talks are underway to give $20 billion in aid borrowed from China to a soon-to-be Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt, one dedicated to the persecution of its large Christian minority, while all efforts are made to undermine a normal, pluralistic and civilized country’s ability to defend itself.

There may be a larger strategic calculus at work here, but it certainly is hard to discern.

The Council has spoken, 5/27/11 edition

I really agonized over my votes, since there was so much good stuff.  I was therefore extremely honored that my fellow Council members chose my post, although credit really goes to the Life Magazine staff in 1967:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

New addictions, old problems

I’m definitely an internet addict, but since I’ve got an addictive personality, I’m not surprised. I’ve never been one for drugs, which are anathema to someone who is as much a self-control freak as I am. My addiction has always run to words. It was no surprise to me that I slid from being an old-fashioned bookworm, who compulsively read cereal boxes if there was nothing else available, to being a new-fashioned internet worm. I need that word fix.

I’m too prolix, though, ever to worry about being tweeted and twittered into completely thoughtlessness. When I die, it will be with a thesaurus in one hand and a dictionary in the other — even if they are in e-book form.

Others, though, are less sanguine about the price they pay for their internet addictions.  Rick, at Brutally Honest, has written a very thoughtful and thought-provoking post about the way in which the speed that information comes at us, and the minimalist way in which we seek to convey our own thoughts through Twitter, is flattening out both our intellectual and spiritual prowess.  Read it and do one of two things:  Never turn on the internet again, if you are so inspired, or come back and tell me what you thought.

Because ObamaCare cares!

Because, we know, people in government really, really care about you, special you, and want to take care of you. Because, just like your cat, they truly, truly love you, no matter what Republicans say.

That’s why it makes sense to have Father Government take care of us, so that we won’t ever have to worry about our medical needs anymore. Never, ever! We simply go to Father Government and ask in order to receive. And why not, every modern country except the United States has a national health-care system, why don’t we? Like the U.K., for example. Why can we have the same? It’s so cruel to deny us this! Why, oh why oh why?
Because, well, er….because:

http://www.heartland.org/healthpolicy-news.org/article/29864/UKs_NHS_Seeks_to_Limit_Care_for_Smokers_Obese.html

Death Panels? Pshaw!

Special hat-tip to QandO.net

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope that you have a lovely Memorial Day in the company of your family and friends.  Spare a moment, though, to think of and thank those who currently serve, and those who gave their all for the freedom we (still) enjoy today.

Wind energy model blows cold

Here is an intriguing article about a dilemma faced by the United Kingdom: its wind power farms are running out of wind. Climate change? The article offers plenty of ideas as to why this may be.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/8545306/Wind-farms-Britain-is-running-out-of-wind.html

The U.K., along with a few other EUropean countries like Denmark and Spain, has banked heavily on wind power as their alternate energy source of choice.

Does anyone else catch the subtext in this article?

 

 

The great Winston Churchill

I came across the following story about Winston Churchill when I was reading The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes:

In the summer of 1941 Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington bomber, 13,000 feet above the Zuider Zee, to extinguish a fire in the starboard engine.  Secured only by a rope around his waist, he managed not only to smother the fire but also to return along the wing to the aircraft’s cabin.  Churchill, an admirer as well as a performer of swashbuckling exploits, summoned the shy New Zealander to 10 Downing Street.  Ward, struck dumb with awe in Churchill’s presence, was unable to answer the prime minister’s questions.  Churchill surveyed the unhappy hero with some compassion.  “You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” managed Ward.

“Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours.”

Now, as a thought exercise, try to imagine any politician today having that kind of grace.

(If you’re curious about Ward, here’s a bit more info about his short and honorable life.)

UPDATE:  Welcome, Ace readers.  I can fairly promise you that neither my writing nor my thinking are as good as Churchill’s.  On the other hand, I’m here now, blogging away, and I offer two things at my blog:  A broad array of fairly well-written posts on a variety of conservative topics and some of the most intelligent commenters in the blogosphere.  Since I know Andrew Breitbart thinks Ace has the best commenters, you might feel very much at home here.  All of which is is to say that I think you should spend a minute looking around and deciding whether you think this is a site worth visiting again.