Monday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFamily took precedence this weekend. I was able to read stuff while I waited here and there for various family members, but I never got to my computer to post anything. I therefore have a huge backlog of articles and posts that I found interesting and would like to share with you:

One of the most toxic parts of the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the United Nation’s insistence that Palestinians should be unlike all other refugees.  Ordinarily, refugee status is given only to the actual refugee.  For Palestinians, however, the UN extends refugee status to descendants too. A Jewish lawyers and judges group would like to change this. I doubt the UN will change anything (it’s too controlled infested with antisemites), but if we promote this cause, we might be able to educate the public about this travesty.

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One of the worst things that’s been happening this spring is the rise of the heckler’s veto at college campuses across America. In each case — with the most famous being Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a black woman who speaks out against toxic aspects of Islam, and Condoleeza Rice, a black woman who was Secretary of State during the Iraq War — only a very small cadre of protesters (sometimes numbering in the two digits, just like their IQs) was sufficient to cause college administrators to rescind invitations to commencement speakers. One of the replacement speakers used his time at the podium to lash out at “immature” and “arrogant” protesters, words that got him a standing ovation.

I have a couple of comments to make. First, I would do away with commencement speakers altogether. Graduation ceremonies are long and boring enough without larding them with yet another speaker. Of course, I skipped my Berkeley graduation, so I’m not terribly invested in those ceremonies.

Second, this is one of those rare occasions where I think it’s important for conservatives to behave as badly as Leftists. Writing at DartBlog, Joseph Asch (class of ’79) says that conservatives should politely let Angela Davis speak. For the youngsters reading this blog, during the 1960s, Davis was a hard Left radical. Among other things, she arranged to get a gun into a Marin County court room, resulting in a judge and three other men being murdered. Davis, like Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, has since become an establishment figure. She has never backed off from her hard Left views, nor has she shown any remorse for her active complicity in the murder of four people.

In theory, Asch is right that we should demonstrate tolerance to the hard Left and let Davis speak. The problem, though, is what flows from that tolerance. The Left demonstrates intolerance, and no one gets to listen to an accomplished conservative. Conservatives demonstrate tolerance, and hundreds of malleable students get to listen to a murderous Lefty. We have to shut off the Leftie spigot — if students don’t get access to conservative speakers, they shouldn’t get access to Leftist speakers either.

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The Anne Frank Museum has a gift shop. There, one can buy copies of her diary in various languages, books about her life, and other limited written materials about tolerance. I’ve noted that I think the Anne Frank Museum suffers too much from moral relativism and says too little about the Holocaust, but it’s classy. The newly opened 9/11 museum in New York is unhindered by classiness. In a store directly on top of the display about a murderous attack on American soil, as well as over the last remains of hundreds who died there, there is a cheesy gift shop, complete with myriad stupid, disrespectful tschotkes. What were they thinking?

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Every day, it becomes more clear that bureaucracy is the last refuge of the stupid, the cowardly, and the morally infirm. In Germany, bureaucrats are insisting that a house that a German Jewish woman built in 1939 as a refuge (it failed her), and that a German woman recently remodeled, must be torn down entirely because, back in 1939, the Jewish woman didn’t fill out the proper paperwork. I don’t ascribe this rank bureaucratic stupidity to antisemitism. As far as I can tell, it is what it seems: rank bureaucratic stupidity. (Hat tip: Earl.)

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A group called the Explorers, which is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, is teaching teenagers what the Explorers thinks will be a useful skill in the coming decades: armed warfare against terrorists, illegal immigrants, and increasing border violence. Looking at today’s headlines, who can argue with that?

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When it comes to the Boy Scouts, that organization daily is forced to move further and further away from its origins. Having successfully forced the group to admit gay scouts, the same agitators are now pressing for gay scout masters. In a masterful example of logic, Selwyn Duke explains why, if we allow that, there’s nothing stopping us from having men in charge of Girl Scouts, or boys in Girl Scout tents.  In other words, pretty soon the Boy and Girl Scouts of America will resemble college dorms, with no distinction between the sexes (including in the shower room), and all of the resulting licentiousness that flows from that — except this time, it will involve children and young adolescents, not young “adults.”

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Michael Oren uses facts to excoriate and destroy those who claim that Israel is an apartheid nation.

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This is what happens when you read only the New York Times: The incoming FBI director is surprised to learn that terrorism against America and Americans is still an issue. I guess he believed it when Hillary and Barack tried to define Islamic terrorism away by claiming that all sorts of self-proclaimed Islamic terrorist groups weren’t actually Islamic and that they weren’t really terrorists at all, but were, instead, misunderstood people suffering from the root cause problem of 1st-world-induced poverty.

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The meme is building when it comes to the Obama administration: With Obama’s second term nearing the halfway mark, more people are realizing what you and I already figured out, which is that this is a shockingly immature, narcissistic administration, supported by a Democrat party that’s just as bad. Kevin Williamson puts it beautifully:

Imagine, if you can, the abjectly juvenile state of mind necessary to contemplate the hundreds of Nigerian girls taken into slavery by a fanatical Muslim anti-education militia — whose characteristic activity beyond slave-taking is setting fire to children — and, in the face of all that horror, concluding: “You know what this situation really calls for? A cutesy picture of . . . me!”

Keep in mind, please, that we’re not talking about selfies from people in quiet suburban homes or walking down city streets. We are talking about selfies from people at the heart of power, everyone from the First Lady to the State Department.

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The Democrat party is grooming a new Vice Presidential candidate for 2016.   By that time, he will have had two jobs:  a stint as the mayor of San Antonio (a ceremonial position) and two years heading HUD (if his nomination to that post is successful). Remember when they said that Sarah Palin was too inexperienced to be vice president? Back in 2008, a few of us also pointed out that, if Palin was too inexperienced for vice president, then Obama was certainly too inexperienced to be president. Leftists are untroubled by hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance, though.

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The push for raising the minimum wage isn’t limited to the U.S. The Swiss recently were smart enough to vote down a $25/hour minimum wage. Teenagers in Switzerland should be very, very grateful — at least if those teenagers are looking for a job.

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I’ve been saying these things forever (about books and studies and education generally being boring for boys), but they sound better when Christina Hoff Sommers says them, especially because she’s got the data to back herself up:

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?

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*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”.