There’s a cuckoo in the nest at the New York Times, speaking slightingly of political correctness

I love Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.  I grew up watching TV repeats of the 1695 1965 version, own the DVD of the original 1957 version (with Julie Andrews), and can even sort of tolerate Whitney Houston’s 1997 version.  That show had very PC, rainbow-colored casting and — the worst sin — a bland Brandy in the lead role, but it nevertheless respected the source material.

There’s a new Cinderella on Broadway now, and it got a very interesting review from Ben Brantley at the New York Times.  I actually had to read the review twice to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.

Brantley gives the production kudos of visual eye-candy (although it seems somewhat overdone) and speaks approvingly of the performers.  The surprise is that Brantley speaks slightingly of the way in which Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote a new book for the show, and Mark Brokaw, the director, couldn’t resist turning this classic little gem into a politically correct parable:

But a lot has been added and deleted. (Extensive revisions, by the way, have been made in every version of this “Cinderella” that followed its inception.) Some lesser-known songs from the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalog have been jimmied in (including “Now Is the Time,” a rousing call for social change that was cut from “South Pacific”).

There’s been a whole lot of fiddling with the plot too to give it politically progressive substance and those mandatory messages about self-esteem and self-empowerment. The prince’s parents (played by Ginger Rogers and Walter Pidgeon in 1965) have been eliminated, replaced by a devious and manipulative regent figure, Sebastian (the droller-than-droll Peter Bartlett), who tricks the naïve prince, called Topher, into signing bills that repress and rob his people.

So when Cinderella finally gets the chance to talk to her dream date at that immortal ball, instead of whispering sweet nothings, she says, “You need to open your eyes to what’s happening in your kingdom.” (Maybe she should be renamed Che-erella.)

Like the reinvented cartoon fairy-tale heroines of the past several decades, from Disney’s “Little Mermaid” onward, this Cinderella is no passive damsel waiting for a rescuing knight. She takes charge of her destiny, so much so that she doesn’t lose that glass slipper; she hands it to the prince. It’s a conscious choice, see; she controls her narrative. And, by the way, the prince must undergo a similar process of re-education, which will allow him to conquer his self-doubts and introduce democracy to his kingdom.

Brantley acknowledges that this PC update has a bit of a knowing “wink and a nod” quality to it, but acknowledges that many in the audience seemed to miss the knowingly self-referential tone of the PC add-ons.

Cinderella is inherently a retro story, a sort of Patient Griselda for the modern era.  When I was a child, I adored the story, the Disney movie, and, as I said, the TV show but, when I look back at them now, I do wonder if they encouraged in my a passivity that always had me assuming that, if I didn’t like my life, some prince would come and rescue me.  Gail Carson Levine addressed that passive female problem rather nicely in her imaginative Ella Enchanted a delightful book that was turned into the extremely popular movie with Anne Hathaway. (The movie deviates wildly from the book, but I try to view it as a stand-alone product and enjoy the movie on those terms.)

I think we’re all inclined to sit back and enjoy variations on the Cinderella theme, and it’s okay when the new versions remind little girls that they no longer have to sit and wait. Taking a classic musical, however, written by two of Broadway’s greatest geniuses, and tacking on a whole bunch of extraneous PC stuff above and beyond a little Cinderella empowerment seems wrong, though — wrong enough, incidentally, to see a New York Times reviewer sneer at the artistic and entertainment merits of political correctness.

Is common sense reasserting itself?

Since I like to keep up with current music, when I’m in the car I often listen to Sirius XM Hits 1 (channel 2), which tracks the Top 40 songs.  Weekday mornings, Hits 1 offers the Morning MashUp, which consists of two guys and a gal chatting together about celebrity gossip and taking listener phone calls.

Today, much to my surprise, I tuned in to hear this trio talking about the case of the seven year old boy who was suspended from school for lobbing an imaginary grenade at an imaginary box of imaginary bad guys.  Even more to my surprise, the Morning MashUp gang was infuriated by the suspension.  Their attitude was that kids have to be kids, that children should be allowed to exercise their imaginations, that children have always played cops and robbers, and that the school massively overreacted.

I agree completely with the Morning MashUp gang.  I also wonder if (or, perhaps, hope that) they are the tip of the iceberg, with the iceberg being a backlash against the stifling conformity and inanity of the various liberal ukases that control more and more of our lives and of our children’s lives.

As an aside, I’m also willing to bet that there is, or easily could be, a study showing that destroying imaginary bad guys, whether by lobbing pretend grenades or having a wild game of cops and robbers, isn’t a psychologically necessary way for children to deal with fear.  Children are certainly fearful.  They have very little control over their lives and their world is peopled with danger, both real and (because they are children) imaginary.  Being able to throw a grenade at the bad guys sounds like a perfectly therapeutic imaging exercise designed to empower a fearful child.

It’s okay to be politically incorrect — if you are Muslim or like Islam

It’s hard to imagine a more politically incorrect belief system than Islam.  The seriously Muslim world stands for women without legal rights or physical freedoms, wife beating, honor killings, child brides, capital punishment for female adultery, and capital punishment for homosexuality.

Hanging gays in Iran

President Barack Obama, however, feels that Turkey’s Erdogan, a hardline Muslim, is his kindred spirit, while Bibi Netanyahu, a man who leads a country that extends full rights to women and gays, is a bad guy.  Obama also believes strongly that the Muslim Brotherhood, which practices and preaches the most extreme form of Islam, is a good peace partner.  Lastly, he wants to reach hands across the water to Iran, which has been in a state of declared war against America (and women and gays and Israel) since 1979.  Oh, and there’s Obama’s hostility to fracking, the only energy extraction process on the horizon that can de-fund the American monies that support the Islamist regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.

In other words, if you’re a Muslim, Obama and his Progressive pals are willing to forgive your sins.

It turns out that this magic sin forgiveness extends to friends of Muslims as well.  Witness Chuck Hagel.

Hagel doesn’t like gays.  He made that very clear during the 1990s, when he had this to say about President Clinton’s gay ambassadorial nominee, James Hormel:

Then-Sen. Chuck Hagel’s remark to the Omaha World-Herald in 1998 that Clinton ambassadorial nominee James Hormel was “openly aggressively gay” was only a part of what Hagel told the paper about his opposition to Hormel’s nomination.

In additional comments that appeared in the same Omaha World-Herald story on July 3, 1998, Hagel said that Hormel’s gay conduct in public goes “beyond common sense” and concluded that a gay performance group of men in drag as nuns was “anti-Catholic” upon seeing a video of Hormel at one of its events.

Hagel told the paper at the time that being gay shouldn’t disqualify a candidate from being an ambassador, but that Hormel’s conduct would diminish his effectiveness.

Hormel “very aggressively told the world of his gayness and the funding and all the things he’s been involved in,” Hagel was quoted as saying. “I think you do go beyond common sense there, and reason and a certain amount of decorum.”

“If you send an ambassador abroad with a cloud of controversy hanging over him,” he said, “then I think it’s unfair to our country, it’s unfair to the host country and it’s unfair to the ambassador because the effectiveness of that individual is going to be seriously curtailed. That’s just a fact of life. And I believe Hormel’s situation is one of those.”

To be fair, Hagel wasn’t arguing that Hormel should be beaten or executed.  Instead, he was saying that his sexual orientation disqualified him from political office, offended decorum, and was anti-Catholic.  Despite the publicity regarding Hagel’s gross political incorrectness, Obama has still selected him as his preferred Secretary of Defense.  Hmmm.

Gay teens hanged in Iran

Before you get excited and think that, to the extent you expressed negative opinions about gays back in the 1990s, you have a free pass, you need to pay attention to what happened to Rev. Louie Giglio, who also expressed dismay about homosexual conduct back in the 1990s:

The minister selected by President Obama to deliver the benediction at his inaugural this month has withdrawn from the program amid a storm of controversy over remarks he made about homosexuality in a sermon in the mid-1990s, according to an inaugural planner.

[snip]

In it, Mr. Giglio called on fellow Christians to fight the “aggressive agenda” of the gay-rights movement, and advocated “the healing power of Jesus” as “the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle” – a comment some gay-rights advocates interpreted as an endorsement of reparative, or so-called gay-to-straight conversion, therapy, as a supposed cure for homosexuality

In other words, like Hagel, Rev. Giglio in the 1990s said that sexual orientation offended decorum.  Also, much like Hagel, Giglio hasn’t said anything about gays for the past 20 years.  It’s dead.  It’s history.  But unlike Hagel, Giglio is a Christian minister and hasn’t given any indication that he thinks Islam is groovy.  Also, unlike Hagel, Giglio got the boot:

An official with Mr. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee, which operates separately from the White House, vetted Mr. Giglio. People familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn.

“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural,” said Addie Whisenant, the spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

Double standard anyone?

The double standard also applies to abortion.  Republicans almost certain lost their opportunity to take control of the Senate because two candidates, Todd Aikin and Richard Mourdoch, made statements about abortion that the media turned into a hysterical war against women.  I know of two people who were leaning to Romney, but switched votes because he belonged to the same party as Aikin and Mourdoch.  Fiscal sanity and national security couldn’t compete with abortion.

Woman beheaded in Iran

Here’s what Richard Mourdock said, which I think is a defensible position, humanely stated:

The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother.  I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.

You may not agree, but it is a valid stance, one that looks at life as a gift independent from the violence that created it.  It is, in other words, a moral position.

Here’s what Todd Aikin said, which has the same moral position buried within it, but that starts from a position of complete and offensive idiocy:

It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors — that’s [pregnancy following a rape] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But, let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Aikin was cast into the wilderness by Left and Right alike for his stupidity.  Mourdock got swept up in the same witch hunt.

Interestingly, Hagel (the one who gets a pass) sounds a lot more like Aikin, who’s an idiot, than Mourdock, who is someone who made a difficult and thoughtful decision about balancing two lives.  Here’s Hagel:

When he announced his candidacy for Senate, Hagel said that he opposed abortion except to protect the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest. Hagel decided he didn’t believe that exclusion for rape were necessary after studying the issue near the end of his campaign.

“I am pro-life with one exception — the life of the mother. I oppose taxpayer funded abortions. We must promote adoption and support the strengthening of American families. I will vote with and support the pro-life movement,” Hagel said in a piece of 1996 campaign literature, according to the Omaha World Herald.

Then Senate-candidate Hagel said that he “tightened” his position on abortion after he said he discovered that abortion in the case of rape and incest are “rare” according to multiple local press reports.

“As I looked at those numbers, if I want to prevent abortions, I don’t think those two exceptions are relevant,” Hagel said, according to the Omaha paper.

To her credit, Rachel Maddow has given Hagel a hard time about both Hagel’s gay and abortion stances. For once, though, the Left doesn’t seem to be paying attention to its media darling.

Public lashing in Iran

If you look hard, you discover that there’s only one thing that distinguishes Hagel from Giglio, Aikin, and Mourdock, all three of whom became roadkill as the Politically Correct train drove by:  he supports Iran and hates Israel.  He supports an ideology that enslaves and kills women, and that makes homosexuality a capital crime.  And the only thing that gives this specific ideology a pass with Hagel, Obama, and the Left, is that this religion is neither Jewish nor Christian.

This is a sad, twisted state of affairs, and one that the American people created with eyes wide shut.  I despair of our country and the world right now.

It’s not smart for the Army to call its own troops stupid — but nobody seems smart in Obama’s America

The rule of war used to be that you hated your enemy. That made it easy to fight your enemy. Then, starting with the first Gulf War, the new rule was that you felt sorry for your enemy. By the Iraq War, the rule had become, you’ve got to like and respect your enemy.

These new rules baffled my father, a WWII vet, who kept saying “You can’t kill an enemy unless you hate him.”  I’m glad that Daddy’s not alive today to see the proposed Army Handbook coming out of the politically correct Obama Pentagon.  The proposed new rule is that, if you serve in America’s military, you must hate yourself because you’re incompetent and ill-informed (the link is behind a paywall; I’ve limited the quotation below to fair use):

The proposed Army handbook suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture, not Taliban infiltration, has helped drive the recent spike in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces.

“Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member,” according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.

There you have it: if you get killed in Afghanistan, it’s all your fault.

With that rule in mind, why don’t we just surrender now and save everyone a lot of time and money? I’m sure that the short-term benefits, in the form of national politically-correct self-respect, will more than offset the increase in targeted American killings at home and abroad.

Incidentally, there’s absolutely nothing wrong for an occupying force to deal intelligently with both the active enemy and the more neutral local people. It’s smart to mandate that troops behave in ways that will maximize gaining the local population’s good-will, while minimizing accidentally giving cultural offense.  A sidebar to the WSJ article that quotes the handbook’s specific rules, shows that the Army can be that smart:

Green-on-blue incidents provoke a crisis of confidence and trust among [coalition forces] working with [Afghan troops]. As a means of illuminating this insider threat, those [coalition] personnel working on Security Force Assistance Teams during 2012 that live alongside and mentor [Afghan security forces] have about 200 times the risk of being murdered by an [Afghan security force] member than a U.S. police officer has of being murdered in the line of duty by a perpetrator.

* * *

Preventive tools:

  • Understand that they may have poor conflict resolution skills and that insults cause irrational escalation of force.
  • Do not discuss religion

* * *

Cultural Awareness:

Flashpoints/Grievances Some U.S. Troops Have Reported Regarding Afghanistan National Security Forces:

To better prepare [coalition forces] for the psychologically challenging conditions in Afghanistan, familiarize yourself with the following stressors some U.S. troops have reported concerning [Afghan security forces] behavior during previous deployments. Bear in mind that not all [coalition] troops have reported such experiences or beliefs.

  • Some ANSF are profoundly dishonest and have no personal integrity
  • ANSF do not buy-into war effort; far too many are gutless in combat
  • Incompetent, ignorant and basically stupid

Bottom line: Troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with [Afghan security forces]. Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [coalition forces] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead towards green-on-blue violence.

* * *

Etiquette Violations Best Avoided by [coalition forces] Taboo conversation topics include:

  • Anything related to Islam
  • Mention of any other religion and/or spirituality
  • Debating the war
  • Making derogatory comments about the Taliban
  • Advocating women’s rights and equality
  • Directing any criticism towards Afghans
  • Mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct

Bottom line: Try to avoid highly charged and emotional issues.

What’s dumb is a handbook that, at least in its first draft, appears in its introduction (which sets the tone for the rest of the handbook) to blame American troops for problems with Afghanis.  Sad to say, that’s what the introduction to the handbook (if I understand the WSJ article correctly) appears to do:

“Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member,” according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.

There’s only one way to read that: “You Americans soldiers are crude, rude, vulgar, uninformed ugly Americans. Shape up or die.”

Every parent knows that it’s one thing to demand good, smart behavior from your child because your child is a good and smart person.  It’s another thing entirely to tell your child that he’s a stupid, incompetent failure whose every negative interaction with third parties is his own fault (whether or not that’s true).  The first approach creates responsible people who set high moral and practical standards for themselves.  The second approach creates embittered, insecure people who refuse to examine and improve their own behavior because it’s too painful to do so.  One would think that the high muckety-mucks in the Army would be savvy enough to understand this elemental human psychology.

As BlackFive says, writing from the perspective of someone who knows what it means to be on the front lines:

Cultural sensitivity is one thing.  But.  How any American soldier can avoid criticism (especially witnessing that behavior) of how they treat women and children is beyond me.  This is almost a parallel to how we began fighting communism in central America in the 70s/80s.  Look the other way.  Don’t get involved.  Don’t fight, just advise (and if they don’t listen, no big deal).  It was when we were allowed to make moral and ethical decisions/actions that we succeeded there.  It was when we stopped the avoidance nonsense that changes began to happen.

 

To a hammer, everything is a nail; and to an identity politics fanatic, everything is racism

My father, alev ha-shalom,  had forgotten more about English — his third language — than most people will ever know.  In addition to reading novels and non-fiction for pleasure, he would amuse himself reading dictionaries, grammar books, and stories about the English language.  (In that last genre, my favorite was one called Word Origins and Their Amazing Stories, a book that, sadly, is no longer in print.)

One of my father’s pet peeves, going back to the 1970s, was the way the word niggardly had been banished from most vocabularies, because people assumed that it had the same root as a vulgar and disrespectful word for black people.  In fact, niggardly, which means miserly, or stingy, has an honest Anglo-Saxon etymology:

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English nyggard,  equivalent to nig  niggard (< Scandinavian;  compare dialectal Swedish nygg;  akin to Old English hnēaw  stingy)

This honestly rooted English word even shows up in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales:

We all desiren, if it mighte be,
To han husbandes hardy, wise, and free,
And secret, and no niggard, ne no fool,
Ne him that is aghast of every tool,
Ne none avaunter, by that God above!

Having now proven the word’s bona fides, let me step down from the soap box.  Given the two words’ auditory and spelling similarity, despite one being an Olde English word calling someone stingy, and the other a rude bastardization of a Latin word for the color “black,” I’m more forgiving than my father was when people express discomfort upon hearing the word niggardly.  It just looks and sounds wrong.

The question remains, though, how far a culture should go to challenge honorable traditions that coincidentally run afoul of modern sensitivities.  In Sweden, for example, modern sensibilities are chipping away at the traditional Santa Lucia celebration, which has seen children, since forever, parade around dressed up as stars, gnomes, Santa Lucia, or gingerbread men.  The politically correct brigade is now worried about those gingerbread men.  You and I think of them as tasty, spicy cookies that all sensible people love; the PC crowd knows that they have a darker symbolism (pun intended):

Schoolchildren in Sweden have been banned from dressing up as gingerbread men for a Christmas parade because their teachers fear the costumes could be considered racist.

[snip]

[H]eartbroken 10-year-old Mio Simiv was told he could not wear his gingerbread man costume to the celebration because it might be seen as ‘offensive’.

Angry mum Jenny Simic told local media: ‘I thought he had to have got it wrong so I called the school and they said people might find a brown gingerbread character offensive.

Mrs. Simic also went on to make a larger point, which is that the other costumes, when taken out of context, can be forced into equally ugly interpretations.  You see, those gnome costumes really don’t stand up to close scrutiny ….

‘I said, well then my son won’t participate. He won’t support some Ku Klux Klan procession – because that’s what the little Lucias look like when they all come in with white hoods and white dresses.’

Also, I’ve heard that gnomes are vertically challenged, so it won’t be long before the Little People start voicing their objections.  (I feel I have a say in this one, as I just learned that my statuesque 5 feet tall is a mere two inches above official Little People status.  Funnily enough, I’ve never felt short, and most people who know my are surprised to learn what my actual height is.  As one man told me, to my great delight, “You have the most beautiful posture I’ve ever seen.  You carry yourself like a queen.”  But back to my post….)

The Swedish school tried to backtrack by claiming the absence of gingerbread came down to student allergies, but I’ve yet to hear of someone being allergic to a gingerbread man costume:

In my experience, one of the best ways to get past differences between people is to stop focusing on them so obsessively — or at the very least, to stop focusing on the marginal things that irritate petty people, so that you have energy and credibility to deal with the things that really matter. Aesop knew that crying wolf is counterproductive.  After decades of backing down in the face of the Leftist war cry of “racist,” more and more people are looking in their hearts, recognizing that they’re not racists, and fighting back.  That’s the good thing.  The bad thing is that, in this swirling sea of “racist” caterwauls, the real racists will suddenly find themselves able to blend in with the crowd so that they can spread their poison.

Mark Steyn on d

Mark Steyn takes on the Democrat political machine’s outrage over Chick-fil-A, starting with certain mayors trying to run the company out of their cities because the company’s owner believes in traditional marriage (including no divorces), and then moves on from there:

Mayor Menino [Boston's mayor] subsequently backed down and claimed the severed rooster’s head left in Mr. Cathy’s bed was all just a misunderstanding. Yet, when it comes to fighting homophobia on Boston’s Freedom Trail, His Honor is highly selective. As the Boston Herald’s Michael Graham pointed out, Menino is happy to hand out municipal licenses to groups whose most prominent figures call for gays to be put to death. The mayor couldn’t have been more accommodating (including giving them $1.8 million of municipal land) of the new mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston, whose IRS returns listed as one of their seven trustees Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Like President Obama, Imam Qaradawi’s position on gays is in a state of “evolution”: He can’t decide whether to burn them or toss ’em off a cliff. “Some say we should throw them from a high place,” he told Al Jazeera. “Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement. . . . The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.” Unlike the deplorable Mr. Cathy, Imam Qaradawi is admirably open-minded: There are so many ways to kill homosexuals, why restrict yourself to just one? In Mayor Menino’s Boston, if you take the same view of marriage as President Obama did from 2009 to 2012, he’ll run your homophobic ass out of town. But, if you want to toss those godless sodomites off the John Hancock Tower, he’ll officiate at your ribbon-cutting ceremony.

If you haven’t yet read it, you must.

The Chariots of Fire mentality is dead and gone

I was living in England back in 1981 when Chariots of Fire was first released.  It’s been a while since it came out, but you probably remember that it was a movie based upon the true story of two actual British runners (and their fictional friends) preparing for the 1924 Olympics.  I loved that movie.  I loved the British-ness of it.  I loved the beautiful recreation of 1920s England.  I loved the contrast between Harold Abrahams, the driven Anglo-Jew, and Eric Liddell, the committed Scottish Evangelist.  And of course, I loved Nigel Havers.  There’s just something about him….*

Anyhoo, I got the opportunity to watch the movie again the other night and was struck by something very different from today’s world.  [SPOILER ALERT]  A pivotal plot point in the movie occurs when Liddell learns that the race he is most likely to win — the 100 meter sprint — will be held on a Sunday.  He announces that he cannot and will not run on the Lord’s Day, and holds to this position despite having a great deal of pressure brought to bear on him by the powers that be, including some peers of the realm and the Prince of Wales himself.  In the movie, the deux ex machina who breaks this stalemate is Nigel Havers’ character, who, having already won a medal, graciously offers Liddell his place in the 400 meter race.  (In real life, Liddell knew about the Sunday conflict some months in advance, and trained for the 400 meter race.)  Liddell not only runs the 400 meter race, he does so at a sprinter’s clip, and wins.

The movie shows tremendous reverence for Liddell’s principled stand.  After Liddell sticks to his guns and Nigel Havers saves the day, Lord Birkenhead, who is the head of the British team, and the Duke of Sutherland, who was one of those who tried to convince Liddell to run, have a few words:

Duke of Sutherland: A sticky moment, George.
Lord Birkenhead: Thank God for Lindsay. I thought the lad had us beaten.
Duke of Sutherland: He did have us beaten, and thank God he did.
Lord Birkenhead: I don’t quite follow you.
Duke of Sutherland: The “lad”, as you call him, is a true man of principles and a true athlete. His speed is a mere extension of his life, its force. We sought to sever his running from himself.
Lord Birkenhead: For his country’s sake, yes.
Duke of Sutherland: No sake is worth that, least of all a guilty national pride.

I was thinking how differently things would have played out if 1924 had been like 2012.  Rather than simply refusing to run, Eric Liddell would have sued the Olympic committee, claiming that they were violating his right to religious freedom.  Of course, he would have lost, because he was asserting a Christian religious right.  Had he practiced a more politically correct religion, he might have had a different outcome.

Nowadays, if private institutions don’t bend to an individual’s will, the individual doesn’t walk away, as Liddell did.  Nor does the individual create a competing society, as Jewish lawyers did when they were barred from white shoe law firms.  Instead, the individual insists that a private organization accommodate him, even if to do so is completely inconsistent with the ethos of that organization.  For example, last year, a Muslim woman sued Abercrombie & Fitch (a store I despise) claiming that her boss fired her for wearing a hijab.  This wasn’t a first for the company:

It’s the latest employment discrimination charge against the company’s so-called “look policy,” which critics say means images of mostly white, young, athletic-looking people. The New Albany, Ohio-based company has said it does not tolerate discrimination.

Still, Abercrombie has been the target of numerous discrimination lawsuits, including a federal class action brought by black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants that was settled for $40 million in 2004. The company admitted no wrongdoing, though it was forced to implement new programs and policies to increase diversity.

Why not let the company do business its way?  Why sue that skanky organization?  Isn’t it better to stick to your principles (e.g., “Muslim woman quits Abercrombie rather than comply with sleazy, white trash dress code”), and then to fight Abercrombie in the market place (e.g., “Muslim woman, after being fired by Abercrombie, creates modest clothes fashion dynasty”)?  Why should Abercrombie, which is marketing a “look,” have to accommodate those who don’t meet the look?

The same is true for the constant effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to allow gays.  Instead of trying to remake the Boy Scouts, why don’t gays take a principled stand of walking away from the Boy Scouts and — here’s an idea! — creating their own alternative to the Boy Scouts, when that is more friendly to the GLBT community?  I suspect, actually, that one of the reasons they don’t is because their membership might lag.  The Boy Scouts announced recently that they are reaffirming their “no gays” policy partly because parents like the policy.

More than that, why have we created a country where there is no high road but, instead, only a litigious road?

_____________________

*Maybe what I like about Havers his is antipathy to bicyclists.  There’s nothing wrong with bicycles or bicycling, but I can tell you that, in the San Francisco Bay Area, they have a dangerous arrogance based upon their “green-ness.”  They ignore traffic rules, often drive in mobs, and can be scarily aggressive towards cars.  I live near a road that is a popular sunny day destination for weekend bike wariors, and I have to say that it can be terrifying to round a curve and find two of them lolling down the middle of the road.  Havers is open about his contempt for this attitude:

Comments on cyclists

Havers wrote an article in 2004 the Daily Mail, criticising cyclists:

“Today’s pedal-pushers… appear to think they are above the law… [and are a] new army of Lycra-clad maniacs… I am heartily sick of the lot of them.”

He added in 2006:

“I was asked what annoys me most. I said cyclists, because they are all bastards, and since then it just hasn’t stopped”.

Rich Southern California University Teaches Nascent Social Workers Class Warfare and Law-Breaking

I’ve got a new post up at PJ Tatler:

The University of Southern California (“USC”), an expensive private university in Los Angeles, used to rejoice in the nickname “University of Spoiled Children.”  I’m happy to report (my tone is dryly sarcastic as I write this) that the University is doing its best to ensure that the spoiled rich kids who walk through its luxuriously appointed halls don’t forget that they are, in fact, predators who must be taught to relate to poor people on Marxist terms.  At least, that’s the case with the kids who are attending USC’s graduate School of Social Work.

It turns out that being a social worker no longer involves simply ensuring that children in the most unstable communities or homes are safe; working to make sure that those same children can do well in school, so as to break free of the snare of poverty; and generally ensuring that poverty in America does not mean starvation, chronic homelessness, or physically abusive situations.  (And yes, I know that this is a very abbreviated description of what social workers do, but it does provide a baseline.)

Nowadays, being a social worker means, among other things, learning how to protect illegal immigrants from facing the consequences of the laws they’ve broken.  It also means being able to recognize the gradations of social, sexual, economic, genetic, gender, race, nationality, legal status, etc., differences amongst those don’t rank amongst the evil, white, rich members of the 1%.

I’m not kidding.

Read the rest here.

Our diversity minded administration marks the end of the Iraq war in its own peculiar fashion

One of the most iconic British World War I recruiting posters had as its goal shaming slackers into enlisting by reminding them that, at some future time, their children would want to look up to them for their war service:

The Obama administration has just added a whole new twist to the concept of what constitutes memorable, boast-worthy service during war time.  The administration is putting together a special dinner party to mark the war’s end.  Since it obviously can’t invite every one of the men and women who have served over the past nine years, it’s put together a checklist for qualities the putative dinner guests should meet.

Now, if I were putting together this checklist, I might look at such things as bravery in battle, contributions to moral, dedication, etc.  Apparently, though, I’m stuck in the wrong war, in the wrong century.  Blackfive sets me right:

The military was always the place for people to succeed in ways that they may not have had the chance to in civilian society.  Whether grunt, medic or quartermaster, the military was a place where you succeeded based on the merits of your ability, your hard work.

That’s why I get really really pissed at the Obama Administration when I see things like this – this posting at the Daily Beast POLITICO via This Ain’t Hell about the guest list of enlisted military members for a dinner party to mark the end of the Iraq war (OIF):

The list is being assembled by the senior enlisted representative for the five service chiefs, and the goal is a mix that is racially diverse, old and young, gay and straight.

What the hell?!

Hey, congrations Master Chief, you’ve been selected to dine with the President because you’re the oldest Sailor in DC area who served in Iraq?!

Hey, Gunney, because you’re gay and worked at Balad, you get to meet the President?!

(Read the rest here, both ’cause it’s really good and because it suggests a much more appropriate guest list.)

Can you imagine the hysterical laughter and disbelief in the British War Office during WWI if the correct answer to the child’s question (“Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?”) was “I was gay” or “I was the oldest person in my unit” or “I had a Hispanic surname.”  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with being gay or old or Hispanic, but they are not the primary indicia of noble service to ones country — except, of course, in Obamaland.

I’m sorry to say this, but our Commander in Chief is a joke — a very bad joke.  I’m pretty sure, though, that this is one joke that would not make Martin Luther King laugh.  I believe it was he who thought the best criterion for judging a person wasn’t by looking at the color of his skin (or his sexual preferences or his age), but by examining the content of his character.  That sure goes double and triple for those who have served and who, unlike most of us, have been given the rare opportunity to learn about and put to use the best part of their characters.

Leno sued for libeling the Sikhs

Golden Temple of Amritsar

The other day, I blogged about the fact that innocuous, bland, silly Jay Leno had come under fire in India for making a joke that saw Romney vacationing in a golden palace — with the palace his staff selected just happening to be a famous Sikh temple in India.  The fact that the joke had nothing to do with Sikhs and everything to do with Romney was irrelevant.  The Sikhs suddenly added themselves to the roster of “Religions of Perpetual Outrage.”

To date, this newest entrant to the Religion of Perpetual Outrage roster hasn’t resulted in actual bloodshed, but it has triggered a lawsuit:

Dr. Randeep Dhillon of Bakersfield filed the suit today in Los Angeles Superior Court. On behalf of himself and what Dhillon called Bol Punjabi All Regions Community Organization, the suit charges that the broadcast was libelous on its face and exposed Sikhs and their religion to hatred, contempt and ridicule because it portrayed the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh. The suit charges that Leno’s use of the photo of the temple was intentional, deliberately false and “hurt the sentiments of all Sikh people in addition to those of the plaintiff.” The suit seeks general, special and punitive damages as well as court costs.

Jay Leno (Image by Michael Albov)

They say that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.  Perhaps being thrown into the deep end of the political correctness swamp will force Jay Leno to revisit some of the liberal perceptions that color his life and humor.

(Hat tip:  A friend.)

Bad Manners

At Rhymes with Right, Greg has written a moving post about the way in which he and his wife, both of whom deviate from politically correct norms, are often on the receiving end of rude and brutish behavior.  He ends by asking:

And they have lead me to wonder — where are the manners? Where is the respect? Heck, forget social graces– where is the basic human decency? Why do people think that they can abuse or mistreat people based upon their weight or their disabilities? And why are such things apparently still socially acceptable in a way that such abuse towards minority groups are not?

My instinctive answer to his questions is a simple one:  Political correctness has substituted for manners.  The difference is that manners governed how the actor behaved, controlling the actor in all circumstances.  Political correctness, however, focuses on the recipient, not on the actor.  It therefore establishes a class of people who are accorded special deference, freeing the actor to reveal his baser self to anyone outside of the sacred politically correct classes.

Orwell, of course, got there first:  “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The Navy SEALS and Charlie Sheen — brothers under the celluloid skin

Both the SEALS and Charlie Sheen have been in the news lately, the SEALS for an extraordinarily well-planned, brave and effective operation, and Charlie Sheen because he’s a drugged-out piece of human detritus.  Did you know, though, that the two — that is, the SEALS and Sheen — have something in common?  Yup, they do:  A movie!

Back in 1990, Charlie Sheen starred in a movie called Navy SEALS, with Sheen playing (cough, cough, giggle) the second in command of a SEAL platoon.  You can read the silly, turgid and formulaic plot here.

The one interesting thing about the movie, aside from Sheen’s role as a (cough, cough, giggle) SEAL commander, is that the movie has a Muslim as the terrorist bad guy.  The seeds for PC are already in place, because the terrorist gets to explain that his terrorism was inspired, not by his religion and culture, but as revenge for the fact that the U.S. Navy bombed his home.  Nevertheless, the mere fact that Hollywood could even contemplate a Muslim bad guy just 21 years ago reminds us how far our country has traveled down the dhimmi, politically correct road to its own destruction.

If you need a good laugh tonight, here’s the original trailer:

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land, available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon, Smashwords or through your iBook app.