Thoughts on racism and race in America

You’ve already heard, I’m sure, about Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran who was beaten to death by two black teenagers.  The police are assuring everyone that there’s no need to get worried, because this wasn’t a race crime.  Instead, it was Delbert’s own fault.  According to the police, when the boys tried to rob Delbert, he had the temerity to fight back, leaving them with no other option than to beat an old man to death.

A friend of mine noted that, using this reasoning, if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that the race-hustlers are correct and it was Zimmerman who started the fatal encounter with Trayvon, then Trayvon was responsible for his own death because he had the temerity to fight back by climbing on top of Zimmerman, raining punches on his face, and trying to turn Zimmerman’s head into Silly Putty by smashing it repeatedly into the pavement.  My friend is right, of course.

But I’ll add something else to the mix.  The police are desperate to avoid saying that the white on black crimes that are flooding the news lately arise because blacks are — gasp! — not merely racist in Obama’s hystically race-conscious America, but aggressively so.  They don’t want to admit that the aggressive focus on race that surrounded Obama’s election didn’t destroy forever the linger vestiges of racism in America — the presumed outcome of a nation open-minded enough to elect a black man to its highest office — but, in fact, created an aggressive form of black-on-white racism.

Here’s the problem:  the new black-on-white racial motivation, although disgusting, is an intellectually recognizable reason for vile conduct.  If you deny its existence, all you have left is the admission that American blacks have become feral.  That is, they’re not killing for political reasons; they’re killing because they have an animal’s blood-lust, without a human’s self-control, morality, or reasoning skills.

And so, let’s talk about two recent local news stories that the MSM is assiduously ignoring.

In Anderson, Indiana, a 17-year-old black teenager assaulted and raped a 93-year-old woman.  This is what Iquise Taylor did to Amelia Rudolf:

Police say the youth lived within in a block of the woman’s house. Investigators say he broke into her home by kicking in the back door and then sexually assaulted her.

The 93-year-old had been sleeping at the time and awoke to find the youth in her bedroom.

Apparently elderly white women are quite the hot commodity amongst the non-racist blacks, because a similar event occurred happened in Poughkeepsie, NY.  That’s where 99-year-old Fannie Gumbinger had the misfortune to cross paths with 20-year-old Javon Tyrek Rogers, a black man who is a career burglar.  Well, Mrs. Gumbinger didn’t actually cross paths with Rogers.  It was more a case of his entering her house and killing her.  Why would one kill a frail 99-year-old lady (and believe me, because of my Mom’s retirement home I know precisely how frail 99-year-old ladies are)?  Well, it wasn’t a “hate crime,” of course, because blacks don’t commit hate crimes.  That means, as Wolf Howling put it, that it was a “feral” act.

The race hustlers have repeatedly put themselves in the position of conceding that black Americans are feral, whether it’s because they say that Damian King couldn’t help trying to beat Reginald Denny to death in the wake of the Rodney King riots, because he was “caught him the rapture” of the moment; or the two teens who couldn’t help killing an 88-year-old because he fought back; or a 17-year-old who couldn’t control his lust for an 93-year-old woman (who his lust for power over a 93-year-old woman); or a 20-year-old who had to murder a 99-year-old lady who was interfering with his burglary; or the five young blacks who tortured a random white couple to death in such a horrible way that I can’t bear to right about it.  If these young black people (and they’re all young products of America’s thirty years of institutional Progressivism) acted without a motive, no matter how disgusting that motive was, then the only thing left is to concede that they are either evil incarnate, which argues a certain moral knowledge that the actor deliberately ignores, or that they are so inhuman that they have become like animals.

Even likening them to animals, though, seems to me to be too generous.  Animals kill to eat or to control territory.  Animals do not waste their energies, nor do they put themselves at risk, simply to indulge in blood lust.  That type of act is seen only in rabid animals that have been rendered insane through infection.

So what disease has affected our black underclass to the point at which it has parted ways with humanity and entered dimensions in which, normally, only infected animals dwell?  I leave you to think up your own instance.

Incidentally, I do not write this post as an overarching indictment of blacks, God forbid.  I am not a classic racist, in that I do not believe that one race genetically inferior to another race.  I recognize differences (skin color, musculature, bell curve spread over such traits as book-oriented intellectualism or physical stamina, etc), but I consider those differences virtuous, insofar as they provide a wonderful range of human abilities, with no one quality trumping any other — although there are times, whether through natural- or human-caused events, when certain traits may help one group survive better than another group.  I consider myself a “values-ist,” meaning that I judge people by their values, not their skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc.

So if it’s not genetics, it must be culture — and black culture is Leftist culture or, rather, black culture is the victim of elitist Leftist culture.  It’s the Leftist ruling class, in government, in the media, and in education, taht thinks so little of blacks that these elites are content to accept that young blacks normally exist in a diseased, feral state, because it seems right and natural to the affluent Leftist eye.  If, Gaia forfend!, they concede that blacks are endowed with the same moral and intellectual abilities as whites, then these same elites must also concede that blacks do not need to be perpetually dependent upon the states for all their needs, a status that assumes racial inability.

Wendell Romney

Does history repeat itself? I fervently hope not.

Ok, I have grudgingly thrown my support behind Mitt Romney. It’s not that I am excited about Romney as a candidate, but I am genuinely excited about the need to get Obama out of office before he does irreversible damage to this country. But, here is where I see a problem:

In one corner, we have a radical Marxist/Progressive, with little to no understanding of human nature and economics, who is on a tear to totally transform society to fit a bankrupt utopian ideology. In the process, he destroys jobs, strips companies of investment capital, destroys human capital, demonizes success, romanticizes failure, takes command of and promptly ruins entire segments of the economy, undermines the Constitution, blatantly disregards the law and does his very best to bankrupt the country while redefining entire segments of the population as dependent wards of the state.

In the other corner, we have a square-jawed, well-coiffed, highly intelligent, erudite and successful businessman who made his mark in an industry demonized and under constant assault by the President. Formerly a Liberal, he now claims to be a Conservative, although large swaths of the Republican party refuse to accept his supposed conversion to conservatism as sincere. He is a nice, rational man who believes in using soft-spoken discourse to sway people and find common ground. Rather than go on a blistering attack in support of the capitalist, free-enterprise economy, he ends up trying to placate the population with his moderation and management credentials, while fending off internal strife within the Republican Party between those that promote strong advocacy of conservative principles and those seeking an accommodationist “middle way”. In many ways, he remains tone deaf to how others perceive him to be and how they react to his awkward choices of words.

This man of whom I speak was Wendell Willkie. He ran against FDR in 1940 and got creamed by 5 million votes. Now, I realize there are many differences between then and now, but take a look at these photos below and please tell me they don’t suggest a spooky echo of the past.

Wendell Willkie

Mitt Romney

Dissin’ Liberty

Bruce Bawer, American expat extraordinaire, posted an especially insightful post over this weekend, in which he notes that the peculiarly American assumption that all people want to be free just may be a tad naive.

He cites Jewish writer Tuvia Tenenbom’s (“I Sleep in Hitler’s Room”) observation, upon traversing the former East Germany, that most of the people Tenenbom encountered longed for the “good times” living under the East German dictatorship. In the Middle East, we see peoples offered the light of freedom only to turn further toward the darkness. As Bawer points out, we should know that not all people want to be free: after all, the masses that marched in support of the Nazis and Communists hardly marched for the cause of freedom. Read it all…Bawer makes excellent points in support of his thesis.

We, as a nation, have existed on the premise that all people (like our forefathers) want to be free. This (false?) premise has driven much of American foreign policy. It may also blind us to what is really going on in our own country with regard to the Liberal/Left, the Democrat party and the OWS movement.

I believe that I can understand the pull of serfdom for many people. Just think of all of the difficult life decisions that are taken away from the individual serf: as wards of the state, they don’t have to worry about where they will get their food (of course, they can forget about shopping at Whole Foods as well), whether they will meet their financial needs (albeit at a subsistence level), understanding politics, moral values, education, finding a job…etc. It is, in other words, regression to the mind of a child. They can simply exist for the moment of the day: no responsibilities but, also, no hope. Like vegetables, if you think about it.

So, what do you think? Is what is happening today a defining struggle between those of us that want to be free and those that seek a return to childhood? Is it as simple as this? Because, if it is, then we really are witnessing the final death struggle of the American Republic.

Are we (finally) seeing the end of the college bubble?

I’ve been having a very interesting email exchange with FP, a friend who sent me the Peter Schiff video that’s now making the rounds:

As you can see, Schiff makes logical points grounded in reality, and the protesters come back with mere protest tactics, rather than making any attempt whatsoever at argument.  Strangely enough, despite the dreariness of watching idiocy in action, both FP and I found cause for cheer in the video.

My optimistic take is twofold.  First, I have to believe that people like Schiff, and and like FP, and like those of us at the Bookworm Room, people who have knowledge, analytical abilities, and intelligence, will be the ones who eventually make intellectual contact with those who are not using tactics, but who are actually struggling to understand real issues.  Everything we write, and read, and think is another arrow in our quiver.  We are educating ourselves for real arguments, with people who actually want to listen.

Second, I’m optimistic about the fact that so much of this manifest idiocy emanates from those who have paid the most for their so-called educations.  (Here’s a great photoshop summing up that particular type of insanity.)  Perhaps these protests, which highlight higher education’s absurd costs and manifest failures, will break the stranglehold that the PC education establishment has over Americans.  Parents of teens and tweens may figure out that they are not getting their money’s worth when they ship their children off to pricey schools.  I think about this a lot, as Mr. Bookworm is invested in the Ivy Leagues, and thinks they’re worth $200,000.  My son, bless his heart, promises me that he’s going to Annapolis!

FP is also optimistic, and I’ll quote him directly, ’cause I think he’s right:

I’m going to sound a bit Hegelian here (not in the dialectical sense…for once…more in the ‘catapulted through history evolutionary’ sense) but I’m coming, more and more, to see the conservative worldview as the inevitable end to liberal ideology — once the individual has had some sort of practical interaction with the world and/or really stretches the liberal ideology to it’s inevitable conclusion. You and I (and my wife and mother) and most of the best, most vocal proponents of modern conservative thought (Mike Adams, Thomas Sowell, and even Andrew Klavan and yes, in my opinion, the very articulate and clever Sunny Berman) are all ‘converts’ to the church of conservatism. We’ve all been exposed to liberal ideology from a very early age but heard the voice on the road to Damascus and decided to stop kicking against the pricks. There are two paths that I’ve seen that lead to the road:

1. Pragmatic need — i.e: having to pay bills, working hard, and realizing that others are not but want to take what you have. This is an incredibly effective catalyst but more difficult to explain in the purely metaphysical realm of college coffee shops and poetry slams (and the like). A lot of my hardworking blue collar friends have reached conservatism through this path (I can’t help but believe that most of the blue collar union workers that voted Reagan into office the first time came to their political beliefs, at least during that election, through this path).

2. The ‘intellectual’ path — following liberal ideas to their natural conclusions

As I examine some of the basic tenets of liberalism — at least those things that the more effective sophists blather on and on about in the local coffee shops — I keep seeing places where the ideology collapses in on itself. It either leads to Marxism (which history has shown — again and again and again — does not work. Anyone with more than the most glancing view of history accepts this as axiomatic truth. The argument FOR Marxism — which usually whines that we just haven’t done it RIGHT yet — reminds me of Paul Krugman’s ‘Keynsianism-works-we-just-haven’t-put-enough-money-into-it’ b.s. It’s ridiculous. No one’s done it right because THERE’S NO WAY TO DO IT RIGHT) or folds in on itself (like a black hole). Here’s what I mean by that:

The liberal meme that calls for people to ‘coexist’ is silly — people already coexist. If they didn’t then you wouldn’t have anything to put on a bumper sticker because no one exists. The liberal meme that calls for us to ‘tolerate’ sounds great — but then you have to ‘tolerate’ the rich as well because, well, we wouldn’t want to JUDGE, now would we?The liberal meme that calls for ‘peace’ sounds great — until you experience 9/11 and realize that ‘peace’ would mean accepting that sort of treatment from those who disagree with you. The liberal meme that calls for a utopian ‘one world’ sounds great — until you realize how the rest of the world lives and what that would mean for us — the top 1% OF THE WORLD (imagine the rest of the world decided to ‘occupy America’ to go after us — after all — we ARE the 1% as far as quality of life!)

In other words, right about now, a whole lot of liberals are getting mugged by reality.

It’s in this same vein that the flyer I published in the previous post is relevant. Zombie told me that it’s been floating around in the internet since April 2010, but that fact is that it has real resonance now. In America, the difference between “us” and “them” isn’t inherited wealth or a class system, it’s that some work and some don’t.  Now that the fat of the land has vanished, it’s ants versus grasshoppers, or little red hens versus lazy animals.  In this world, with ants and hens on the one side and grasshoppers and slugs on the other side, the ants and hens, merely by virtue of energy and initiative, will prevail.

Nemesis and the elitism of the elites

Much has been written about playwright David Mamet’s coming-out as a conservative and his reasons for so doing, but there is still much gold to be mined from Mamet’s mind.

 

Today’s National Review Online revisits Mamet in this stellar piece by Matthew Shaffer that contains this one gem that perfectly encapsulates some of the alphabetized mindsets encountered and challenged on this blog:

“But liberalism, Mamet thinks, is dismantling culture. The problem is that “the Left today is essentially an elitist movement, and it has invested a lot of time and money in the idea that they know better.” Elites have been led to think “by getting the grades, and getting into good schools and think-tanks and government positions that they are fit” to reorder society more rationally. But this requires first demolishing the order produced by the organic processes of tradition, democracy, and markets — the culture. Why are some so susceptible to this fatal conceit? “They get out of elite schools being told nothing but, ‘You’re the best.’” Hubris — a dramatist’s area of expertise. (The liberalism of his own elite group, the literati, he blames on “devotion to fantasy — this sort of Manichean view.”)

 

You can read the entire article here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/270190/david-mamet-s-exodus-matthew-shaffer

 

Keep this in mind when considering the role that the Maryland school system has now openly assumed for itself as an indoctrination center for Liberal elitist belief systems, by requiring that all students must pass an “environmental literacy” test before being allowed to graduate.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-board-of-education-approves-environmental-literacy-graduation-requirement/2011/06/21/AGW53xeH_story.html

 

To reiterate what I’ve posted before, there is nothing scientific about “environmentalism” or “environmental sciences”, just as there is nothing scientific about “political science”. It is indoctrination, pure and simple, targeted toward the destruction of prevailing belief systems and culture.

 

I think that this will backfire. Eventually forced to confront reality in the age of the internet, students will eventually realize when they have been corrupted and degraded by Leftwing ideologues and I predict that their reaction will be harsh. In the end, it is this narcissistic hubris of the Leftwing elites that will destroy them. I have no doubt that the students that today provide such ready fodder for indoctrination today will eventually turn on their teachers with the retribution of nemesis. It will be a cultural revolution.

Leftwing bile

From whence does the viciousness in the Leftwing soul emanate?

I know that most if not all of us in the Bookworm circle have seen this horrific video below. I post it because we need to see this again and again. We need to look into their eyes to recognize what this is. I view this with fascination, much as I would were I an anthropologist viewing South Pacific cannibals at the village feast…with morbid horror at the depths of human depravity:

I have never, never experienced such hatred and vileness emanating from any group of conservatives that I know. Not even close. When I have observed rank racism, misogyny or homophobia, it has almost always emanated from people of the Left. It’s as if by incanting a few pat phrases of Liberal/Left orthodoxy or voting for a half-black man (speaking of race, not culture) as President, they feel they get a pass at spewing such vileness (as in, “I can’t be racist, I just voted for Obama”).

I like to use my own Leftwing /Liberal brothers-in-law as my own anthropological laboratory. A couple are happy cheerful people who don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. OK, they are clueless, but that is another story. There is one, however, who projects a portly, kindly exterior that absolutely seeths with venom underneath (his Facebook postings make my skin crawl).

Perhaps one clue is that he is also a man very much disappointed with his choices in life. I also don’t know if he is able to see himself as others see him. Similarly, we have the wife of a close family friend…outwardly, she is a very kind and considerate person. She talks the talk, anyway. But if you get her on the subject of George Bush or Sarah Palin, she transforms into a writhing, spitting demon (to her credit, she is at least aware of this and admits it as a character flaw).

Frankly, these people scare me. I feel that, should they ever be given the power to act out what they verbalize, they would unleash great evil on humanity.

What’s going on with such people? What goes on in their hearts and minds?

Does any budding psychiatrist within our discussion group have insights to share?

Asking the Right Questions

Have you ever been in a debate with a Liberal/Lefty and been so overwhelmed with either the vapidity of their arguments or the absolute volume of misstatement, sloganeering or fact-twisting that you are left open-mouthed and unable to respond. After the interchange, you kick yourself by thinking, “I should have said….”. Happens to me all the time. Instead of constructively engaging, my mind asks “where do I begin?”. Or, alternately, I may start hammering them with facts and my own positions, none of which they will retain.

Over time, in business negotiations, I have learned that the best way to buy time while digesting information is to ask questions to better flesh out the issue. I don’t mean a Socratic dialog, I mean questions meant to make the other person think about their position(s). I offer the following in the context of the very excellent comments that have been made on this blog, recently, about how to constructively engage Liberals, especially the Liberals who have no idea of why they think the way they do, not to mention having a clue regarding why conservatives and libertarians think as we do. I propose that this latter designation represents a very significant block of prospective voters and we need to work on them, not just before November but with an eye to 2012.

In my own evolution from Scoop Jackson Liberalism to a blended libertarian conservatism, I recalled how one memorable question could completely change my world view. It didn’t happen right away, but over time I would mull that question and it would have its intended effect of making me change my mind. So, I would like to ask for your help with this question: how can we use single questions to help puncture the Liberal/Left bubble-sphere?” I also propose that using “why do you think…” is a good way of appealing to the other person’s intellect.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

When a Liberal uses the race card: “why do you think that people on the Left are so utterly obsessed with peoples’ race?”

When a Liberal talks about America’s supposed insults to Islam: “Why do you think that all countries the surrounding the world of Islam are subject to Muslim attacks and terrorism?”

On Democrats being for the little guy: “Why do you think it is that the Democrat leadership is so filthy rich?”

On the Tea Party: “With what beliefs of the Tea Party do you disagree?”

On Democrats being for minorities: “Why do you think that blacks have fared so badly in Democrat-controlled inner cities since Johnson’s War on Poverty of 50 years-ago?”

One Liberal Dependency on Government: “Please share your thoughts with me on how one can be simultaneously dependent on Government programs and still be free?”

When Liberals talk about Islam’s tolerance for others: “How many Muslims do you know? Can you tell me what’s in the Koran about tolerance toward others?” (OK, that’s two questions).

Would anyone else like to either help improve upon or add to this list of  ”one, memorable questions” that can puncture Liberal/Lefties’ world views?

All About Money

One of the things that I try to understand is the Great Divide between today’s Liberals and conservatives that has left us talking past one another on policy issues. Frankly, I have concluded that discussion with Liberals is often futile because we attribute different meanings to words and concepts.

One of those concepts, I suspect, has to do with “money”.  Let me throw the following proposition on the table for discussion:

Liberal /Lefties view “money” as a fixed, tangible quantity with intrinsic value, like gold coins, for example. Thus, the value of money is intrinsic to the lucre itself, be it coins or dollar notes. Conservatives, on the other hand, see “money” more abstractly as representing “created value”…as scrip or IOU on value created or received. As economists put it, money is a “medium of exchange” for value. So, for liberals, “money” is something tangible to that must be amassed by taking from someone else’s stash. For conservatives, “money” is something more abstract that must to be created (i.e. goods or services) directly (e.g., wages) or indirectly (e.g., inheritance) through the creation of “value”.

How might this color our perceptions of one another?

1) When people like Bill Gates amass a large quantity of money by creating products that many people wish to purchase, conservatives view Gates’ money as a reflection of the value that he created and contributed others. No hard feelings there – it’s a fair exchange. A Liberal/Lefty, however, sees only Gate’s amassed pot of lucre that appears disproportionately high compared to the lucre stored in other peoples’ pots. They see this imbalance as patently unfair, especially since this lucre was transferred from other peoples’ modest stashes into Bill Gates’ already whopping big stash: Bill has more, all of his customers have less.

2) When money is needed to achieve a desirable social or governmental goal, a conservative recognizes that such money needs to be generated somewhere to pay for this goal. This can only be done by either drawing down existing value (confiscating peoples’ lucre) or by creating new  ‘value” that can be taxed (i.e., growing the economy). A Liberal/Lefty doesn’t make this connection – they see the process simply as one of either redistributing the existing lucre from other peoples’ pots or creating new lucre by printing more money. The problem of printing new lucre, of course, is that it is still underwritten by a fixed quantity of value – expanding money supply representing a fixed value means that each dollar is worth less. We call that inflation.

I can’t tell you how many times Liberals have looked at me with puzzlement when I have asked where they expect to get the money for their favored social programs.

3) De-linking “money” from the process of wealth creation makes it easy for Liberal/Lefties to confuse using tax money to pay for unemployment checks, dance troupes or road repair as “economic stimulus”. You are, after all, taking lucre sitting idle in some peoples’ pots and putting that lucre into other peoples’ pockets to spend on purchases. Unfortunately, the fact is that such activities do not in themselves create new value. This cannot therefore “grow” the economy.

What do you think? Am I onto something? And, if so, what other aspects of the Great Divide does this help to explain? Does this help or hinder us in discussing our differences with the Liberal /Left?

The “patriotism” they’re teaching our school children — or, let’s talk about shallow thinking

I was at my child’s school the other day, and happened to glance at the daily handout the children receive.  It had the usual special announcements and ended with “Today’s Patriotic Quotation.”  I was rather pleased to see that there was a patriotic quotation included (on a daily basis, yet).  Reading the quotation, though, just depressed me.  As far as I could tell, it had nothing whatsoever to do with patriotism.

Patriotism means support of or pride in ones country.  A patriotic quotation, therefore, would laud something distinctly American.  I’ve been happily awash in patriotic quotations lately, since I signed up for daily emails from The Patriot Post.  Every day, as part of the material this organization sends to me, I get a quotation from the Founders reminding me of America’s exceptionalism.  Here are just a few examples:

“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803

“No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.” –George Washington, letter to James Madison, 1786

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 57

“I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative government and republican government; and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society.” –Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

I admit that many of the Founder’s quotations are more intellectually sophisticated than the average 11 year old can comprehend, but there are other truly patriotic quotations floating around, highlighting the wonders of the American system and the fundamental goodness of the American people.  (And I would be delighted if you would send your favorite patriotic quotations to the comments section in my blog.)

The day I visited the school, though, the “Patriotic Quotation” had nothing whatsoever to do with America.  Instead, it was this, from Eleanor Roosevelt:

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

Am I missing something when I read that, or am I correct that it is entirely unrelated to America?  Instead, it’s the standard pabulum of the Left, waffling on about the wonders of peace.

Believe it or not, despite the fact that I’m a conservative, I’m all for peace.  But peace is only worthwhile if it stands for something.  As my regular readers know, I’m extremely fond of quoting Tacitus, who spoke of Roman military victories thusly:  “They make a desert and call it peace.”

Totalitarian countries are very peaceful.  There are no barroom brawls, no street protests, no euphoric rock concerts, no wacky TV shows, and no political debates.  All is quiet.  If citizens follow the myriad rules, if they keep their heads down and worship at the government’s shrine, all is peaceful.  The residents in such countries work at peace daily in their continual efforts to stay alive.

You’ll pardon me for being condescending here, but I cannot escape the feeling that the liberal approach to war and peace is extraordinarily shallow.  They attach labels to appearances, and then try to derive deep meanings from those labels.  (Hardly surprising, I guess, from a political orientation that rotates around the hardcore labeling that is identity politics.)

Here are the familiar liberal tropes, the behavior labels, if you will:  “War is bad.”  “Peace is good.”  “Small armed groups rising up against a large military are good.”

But what if the War is the Civil War, which broke the back of the institution of slavery?  (It also severely damaged states’ rights, which I understand, but I’m focusing on slavery here, a genuine evil that Progressives surely would want to see destroyed.)  Or how about if the War is World War II, which defeated Nazi Germany?

I don’t need to re-hash my peace shtick, set out above.  Peace is good only when it’s allied with freedom.  Peace alone can easily be the quiet of the grave.

As for the “small armed uprisings,” you know that I’m thinking of all the Progressives who compare Al Qaeda or Hamas to the American Revolution.  At the shallow strata that constitutes Progressive thinking, if you’re big, you must be the oppressor, and if you’re small, you must be the oppressed.

I actually wrote about this precise point some years ago in an American Thinker article regarding Leftist — or, as I called it, Marxist — morality, a post triggered by my watching an acclaimed movie called Maria Full of Grace, which was a sympathetic portrait of a drug smuggling illegal alien.  Marxist morality is a distinct creature from our more traditional Biblical morality.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, let me quote myself:

This ethical paradigm [i.e., Marxist morality] isn’t premised on right and wrong.  It is, instead, concerned with oppressor and oppressed. We all know, of course, that Marxism orders the world by oppressors and oppressed.  I always saw this hierarchical standard, however, as ex post facto retrofitting explaining, not why someone was right to do as he did, but why he shouldn’t be punished.  This Marxist approach was an explanation for things that had already happened (a la the Officer Krupke song), not a moral justification for determining future conduct.

[snip]

If you haven’t seen the movie, the plot precis is that a poor, unemployed, pregnant Columbian girl gets herself a job as a mule, running cocaine into America.  The San Francisco Chronicle, in its review, introduced the movie as follows:

A “Bonnie and Clyde” moment — when you find yourself rooting for the outlaw over the authorities — comes a third of the way into “Maria Full of Grace,” a revelatory independent film whose moments of incredible sadness are offset by the same state of grace that blesses its astonishing title character.

Given that the lead character is an unwed pregnant woman engaged in illegal conduct, I naively assumed that the “state of grace” to which the review refers was the moment in which Maria suddenly realizes that she is engaged in evil, immoral conduct; repents; and works to undo the wrongs in which she was involved.  Had I begun by reading the Roger Ebert review, I never would have made this silly mistake.  Thus, Ebert has this to say, in relevant part:

Long—stemmed roses must come from somewhere, but I never gave the matter much thought until I saw “Maria Full of Grace,” which opens with Maria working an assembly line in Colombia, preparing the roses for shipment overseas. I guess I thought the florist picked them early every morning, while mockingbirds trilled. Maria is young and pretty and filled with fire, and when she finds she’s pregnant, she isn’t much impressed by the attitude of Juan, her loser boyfriend. She dumps her job and gets a ride to Bogota with a man who tells her she could make some nice money as a mule — a courier flying to New York with dozens of little Baggies of cocaine in her stomach. [....]

Maria is a victim of economic pressures, but she doesn’t think like a victim. She has spunk and intelligence and can think on her feet, and the movie wisely avoids the usual cliches about the drug cartel and instead shows us a fairly shabby importing operation, run by people more slack—jawed than evil. Here is a drug movie with no machineguns and no chases. It focuses on its human story, and in Catalina Sandino Moreno, finds a bright—eyed, charismatic actress who engages our sympathy.

By writing the above, Ebert unwittingly defines the second part of Leftist morals, the part that states that, if you are on the bottom of the Marxist hierarchy, your status preemptively sanctifies any conduct in which you engage, provided that it is directed against oppression (however you define that oppression, or whoever creates that oppression).  In other words, morals aren’t just about feelings, anymore.  Instead, they can be determined relative to a person’s status on the economic ladder. “Maria is a victim of economic pressures.”  Given her situation, she cannot make immoral choices.  All of her choices are virtuous responses to her degraded situation.

[snip]

I might have spent several days brooding over the movie’s complete immorality, and the critics’ swoons over that same movie, if I hadn’t heard the next day a laudatory review on NPR  about the new Battlestar Galactica series. In that science fiction show, cyborgs have conquered humans living on a distant colony, and the humans are struggling to deal with the situation and to overthrow the cyborgs.  The critic interviewed in the NPR spot said that, to him, the show worked to make the viewer understand the insurgents in Iraq by showing us that they have an “oppressed minority fighting against conquering majority” viewpoint. In other words, it makes the Iraqi insurgents sympathetic.

Frankly, I have a hard time being sympathetic to people who back regimes that murder millions of its own people; who enjoy beheading innocents; and who would like to impose a relentlessly grim religious rule that requires death sentences for eating ice cream, singing, playing tennis, or putting on a clown show for children. These are not good people whether they’re in power or are seeking power.

In the Leftist moral view, however, just as all workers are exploited and should be praised for taking the initiative by engaging in utterly immoral, illegal activity, so too are all underdogs virtuous. If you’re in charge, you’re bad; if you’re struggling to overthrow those in charge, you’re good. It doesn’t seem to occur to Leftist moralists to examine the motives of those involved in any given struggle.

There’s more of the same in the rest of my article, here, but I think you get the point.

And so I’m right back at the quotation they served at my child’s school as an example of patriotism.  It had nothing to do with America, and everything to do with a conviction that some abstract peace is the highest goal.  Having read that, I sincerely wonder what yesterday’s patriotic quotation was, and what tomorrow’s will be.  Does the school ever praise our country, or does it just use famous Democrats and Leftists as mouthpieces for shallow and abstract ruminations about facile and meaningless goals?  I hope that the day I was there was just a one-off, since our children our vulnerable, and their schools’ indoctrination affects them strongly.

San Francisco: America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

A quick, and personal, history of San Francisco’s decline from the 1960s to the present

I was born and grew up in San Francisco.  My very earliest memories of the City just predate the advent of the hippies.  At that time, the City was a solid amalgam of working class people, middle class people, and a nice handful of the very, very rich.  Barring the inevitable slums (and all cities have them), San Francisco was a well-maintained, fairly safe place.  Trips downtown (usually triggered by a visit to the doctor in the medical building at 450 Sutter) always ended with a visit to the beautiful City of Paris department store to admire the rotunda (which you can still see in the new Nieman Marcus on the same site), a stop at the marble bathrooms in I. Magnin’s (where Macy’s stands now), and treats at Blum’s Restaurant.  Women and men still wore hats in public places, and the women usually wore gloves too.  The sidewalks were clean, and there were no beggars.

I remember, too, when the hippies came along.  Initially, at least from a child’s point of view, it was kind of fun.  During the Summer of Love in 1967, colorfully dressed young people would be dancing in Golden Gate Park, waving banners, blowing bubbles and handing out flowers to all who passed by.  Of course, when they left the Park at the end of these pretty love-ins, the grass was torn to shreds, the flower beds were destroyed, and a few overdosed teens always lay scattered in the detritus left behind.  Soon, though, the magic (such as it was) vanished, and all that was left behind was the miserable slum that was the Haight Ashbury.

Because San Francisco was notorious for her hippies, whenever out-of-town friends came to visit, they’d insist on a tour of the Haight.  As a child, therefore, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I often found myself in that blighted neighborhood.  The streets were filthy, covered with a disgusting mixture of garbage, urine and feces.  Collapsed on the sidewalks, holding up the walls, were the drug addicts — stringy-haired, bleary eyed and smelly.  Because sidewalks are hard and cold, a lot of the druggies would migrate to the green strip of the Panhandle or into Golden Gate Park itself.  While the Panhandle quickly became off limits for us children, we still went to the Park quite often — but were always carefully warned about needles in the grass and bums in the bushes.

The hippies weren’t just an aberration.  They were the beginning of a deep rot that set into the City.  Some of them remained as anchors for the homeless who still pepper San Francisco’s streets, making those streets unsafe or just very, very unpleasant for ordinary people.  Others reformed their lifestyles, but kept their Leftist, SDS influenced politics.  They grew up, got jobs, bought homes, and became people of influence in the City.  Their influence wasn’t immediately obvious.  During the 1970s, the City just drifted along.  Self-realization and self-actualization and general self-involvement hit the middle class with a bang, with the result that everyone was running around seeking his bliss, pausing only periodically to do some navel gazing.

The City’s gays, contrary to the film Milk, weren’t in a perpetual state of political activism during the 1970s.  Instead, they were glorying in the hedonism that was part-and-parcel of escaping the dark closet in which they’d lived for so many years.  I can’t say that I blame them — it was a giddy feeling to be free to express a long-hidden sexuality — but the results were deleterious.  It’s not healthy for a City to have a neighborhood that’s dedicated to sex, a rather obvious principle that is entirely separate from the fact that the Castro and its myriad bathhouses proved to be perfect Petri dishes for a burgeoning fatal disease that would soon sweep the world.

I was gone from San Francisco during much of the early and mid-1980s, returning to the City only in the late 1980s.  Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was living a wonderfully self-absorbed yuppie lifestyle, but I still managed to figure out that several things had changed since I’d last lived in San Francisco.  The most obvious change was the presence of homeless people, not just in the Haight and in Golden Gate Park, but everywhere.  The City was no longer making any effort whatsoever to control the homeless problem.

A walk down Montgomery Street, the main artery in San Francisco’s business district, meant one was perpetually under siege from panhandlers, most of them odoriferous and many of them crawling with lice and fleas.  Many, if not all, were obviously mentally ill or deeply in thrall to drugs or alcohol.  I couldn’t blame them for being where they were.  The City’s temperate climate and unenforced vagrancy laws made San Francisco a natural environment for such people.

As for me, I’ve always thought it’s the hallmark of a civilized society that it doesn’t leave its sick and deranged people begging on sidewalks and sleeping in doorways.  The ACLU, however, begs to differ.  And yes, I know that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the idea first came to de-institutionalize the inebriate homes and insane asylums that were once part of the American landscape, it was an unholy alliance of both the Left and the Right that led the charge.  In the years since, however, as the damage to urban areas from de-institutionalization has become clear, the ACLU has come to own the issue, and has routinely insisted that America must allow the helpless insane to live in the street and grub in the garbage.  Apparently Leftist civil rights include ensuring that those least able to care for themselves get no help from the rest of us.

The City had also lost what limited control it once had over the worst neighborhoods in town.  Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in the area surrounding the venerable Cow Palace.  Admittedly, that area was never a very nice one, but I remember as a child going frequently to events at the Cow Palace, going to gymnastic meets at the neighborhood schools, dining on delicious Middle Eastern food at a family-owned restaurant, and visiting people’s houses in the area.  Although I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, looking back I would characterize the neighborhood as lower working class.  By the late 1980s, it was just plain scary, with the housing projects dominating and blighting the area.  (The worst of those housing projects, incidentally, became so unsustainable that the City eventually destroyed them in an effort at urban renewal.  Those that remain are still appalling.)

By the late 1990s, I had left San Francisco for the Marin suburbs, and I’ve never looked back.  Marin is ridiculously overpriced, but it’s also beautiful, exquisitely well-maintained and very safe. Although separated from the City by only 12 miles and one bridge, it is another world.  The people here may be politically liberal (voting overwhelmingly Democratic), but they’re hardheaded, NIMBY-esque pragmatists when it comes to preserving their own expensive lifestyles.

For the first decade of my Marin life, my visits to the City were very targeted because of the children:  I pretty much went only to Golden Gate Park and the Marina District.  The Marina District has always been lovely, remaining peculiarly untouched by the City’s ongoing turmoil (perhaps because large parts of it have been under Federal control).  There are few things nicer than walking from the Marina waterfront to Fort Point.  Also during those years, Golden Gate Park, while unpleasant around the fringes, underwent a renaissance at its center that begin with a completely rebuilt De Young Museum, and ended with a completely rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  At times, the City, as Herb Caen would say, still knows how.

San Francisco establishes itself as the cutting edge city of America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, I find myself in the City more and more often.  I don’t visit the well-maintained spots that still charm tourists, though.  Instead, my children’s activities take me to parts of town other than the little Potemkin neighborhoods, neatly preserved for the tourists or the affluent liberals concerned with preserving lovely enclaves for themselves.  On these journeys, consistently, I am appalled by what I see.  The City has morphed into a crazy combination of anarchy and Leftist totalitarianism, all neatly wrapped into a package called “political correctness.”  This matters, not just because we’re witnessing the death of what used to be one of the most beautiful, desirable cities in the world, but because it perfectly represents the American Leftist paradigm.  In other words, San Francisco is the future of American Leftism, and it’s a very scary future indeed.

Before I go further, it’s useful to define some of the terms I’ll use here, particularly as they apply to San Francisco.  San Francisco would characterize itself as a “liberal” city.  “Liberal,” of course, is a misnomer.  Modern liberalism completely rejects the notion of individual freedom that is inherent in the linguistic root of the term (from the Latin līberālis, from līber, free).  Instead, today’s liberalism is a socialist movement that is predicated on placing all power in government.  And when all power resides in the government, you end up with totalitarianism or, as some people call it, fascism.

People who aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the U.S. today think of totalitarianism solely in terms of Nazi Europe, Fascist Italy or, if they’re being honest, Soviet Eastern Europe.   If you play a word association game with most Americans, especially American liberals, and feed them the words totalitarian or fascist, they’ll come back with references to concentration camps, gulags, Gestapo and KGB agents.

Jonah Goldberg, however, in his splendid book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, figured out that modern western totalitarianism, of the kind practiced by Western European and American progressives/liberals has a more maternal cast than that practiced in Germany, the Soviet Union, China, or other non-Western countries cursed by all-powerful governments.

Unlike their Asian, Latin American or Eastern European counterparts, modern Western socialist governments aren’t going to round us up and shoot us.  Instead, they’re going to love us to death.  They’ll control what we buy, what we eat, how we get our health care, how we educate our children, what we watch on TV, what light bulbs we screw in, what cars we drive, what phones we use, what shopping bags we use, etc., all with the most beneficent of intentions.  We won’t be murdered by gun toting government-funded thugs in concentration camps.  Instead, we’ll just be infantilized to the point where we’re incapable of functioning without a Nanny state at our backs — and our fronts and our sides, and wherever else the State can insert itself into a citizen’s life.  (By the way, if you want to know what that will look like, just cast your mind back to images of Hurricane Katrina.  The self-reliant middle class sat on their porches with shotguns, protecting their families and homes.  The welfare classes, destroyed not by their race but by their decades-long dependence on government handouts, were incapable of even moving off the side of the road.)

The one thing that Jonah Goldberg’s book misses is the fact that the New Age, crystal-gazing American socialist utopia does not allow itself to control all people within its political borders.  Instead, in the name of political correctness, American socialist cities have a two-tiered system:  law-abiding citizens are on the receiving end of heavy-handed government control, while politically correct protected victim classes are removed from any controls whatsoever.  The result is the worst of all possible worlds, with law abiding citizens beaten down both by their own government and by those whom the government allows to roam free.  San Francisco provides a perfect example of this Western socialist dynamic.

San Francisco’s intense hostility to capitalism

Some of the contrasts between intense government control versus anarchy are very obvious in San Francisco.  On the control side, the City’s mandates pry into every area of business and even personal life.  At a macro level, the City is very, very hostile to business.  It has its own minimum wage law (SF Admin. Code, Secs. 12P, 12R, & Appx. 68), which controls anyone doing business in or with the City of San Francisco.  The City apparently feels it’s not a big enough burden on businesses to have the feds set wages too.  The minimum wage laws are great for those who can get jobs; but lousy for those who discover that, as a result of the hostile environment, there are fewer businesses around to provide jobs.

San Francisco has long had stringent rent control laws (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 37.1).  This is one of those things that benefits renters in the short term, by forcing below market rates for rental property, but that is a disaster in the long term.  Because it means that landlords cannot make reasonable money on property, cannot alienate property, and cannot evict tenants, there is no incentive to be a landlord or, if one is a landlord, to maintain the property beyond the bare minimum.  By interfering in the marketplace, San Francisco has ensured that there are fewer properties available, and that those available are minimally maintained.  It’s therefore lousy to be either a landlord or a tenant in the City.

San Francisco doesn’t just stick its liberal nose into the real estate market.  In the name of political correctness, it also makes doing business in and with the City very, very expensive.  For example, in its endless effort to promote business that are owned by women and minorities, the City mandates that women and minority owned businesses, when bidding for City work, get the benefit of a special discount in the bidding process (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 12D.A.)  While this might have made sense as a short term incentive to allow new businesses to break into a field that had become limited to a few permanent, old-time contractors, it’s now become a permanent and costly boondoggle, funding politically protected businesses on the San Francisco taxpayers’ collective backs.

San Francisco’s need to control its law-abiding citizens

The City also likes to make sure that its residents are environmentally pure.  In 2007, the City banned plastic shopping bags, a sop to environmentalists, but a burden to ordinary people:

“We need to get rid of a hell of a lot of this stuff,” Ora Gosey, 56, said outside an Albertsons in the Western Addition. As the retiree spoke, she inched away from a case of grape soda she had placed on the ground as if it didn’t belong to her. It was double-bagged in plastic.

“I needed something,” she admitted, “because it’s so heavy.”

Plastic checkout bags are pretty convenient, Gosey and others said. You can carry them easily down the sidewalk or on a bus, and they’re less prone to ripping than paper. At home, they come in handy for packing trash. And in the park, they’re good to have when you walk the dog.

According to the Film and Bag Federation, a plastics industry group, the bags can also be used to keep things dry in a canoe, make Christmas wreaths and kites, and assist in the nearly impossible task of putting on a wetsuit.

I know that I, personally, never, never throw away those plastic bags.  They have more uses in my household than I can count.  If I stop getting them free from stores, I’ll just have to go out and buy heavier, less environmentally-friendly plastic bags to use for the same purpose.  And sadly, that may be my future too, since Marin is planning on banning both plastic and paper bags.  I’ll soon have to become one of those crazy Marin bag ladies who marches into a grocery store carrying an armful of mismatched, costly, inconvenient bags of my own, all of which I have to remember to return to my car once I unload my groceries.  Feh!  I don’t mind it when serious-minded conservationists, whether liberal or conservative, do this because they want to.  I just don’t want to be forced to do so.

The City reserves special animus for smokers.  Now, I have to confess here that I loath the smell of cigarette smoke.  I don’t have a problem with a person making the decision to smoke, although I think it’s a foolish decision, both in terms of expense and health, but I’m still enough of a libertarian to allow people to make their own bad decisions.  The problem with cigarettes, though, is that the smoke doesn’t stay near the smoker.  If I’m in a room with you, and you’re smoking, I suddenly find myself enveloped in that foul smelling stuff, which makes me crazy.  Even when you leave the room, I can’t get rid of the smell, which has permeated my clothes, my hair and my skin.  I therefore don’t have a problem with San Francisco’s original smoking ban, which banned smoking in the workplace.  (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 8.)  The problem is that the Nanny City, not content with protecting me from your smoke (which I find reasonable), is now intent on protecting you from your smoke, which I find unreasonably intrusive.  Thus, a proposed new law would shut down smoking in the great outdoors too (among other venues within the City’s borders):

San Franciscans would see a bevy of more “no smoking” signs in The City if legislation introduced Tuesday is approved.

As The Examiner reported in November, Supervisor Eric Mar reignited the stalled legislation that would forbid smoking in a slew of new settings, adding to existing bans in bars, restaurants, parks, transit stops and taxis.

The bill would expand no-smoking zones to include farmers’ markets, outdoor seating areas of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and common areas of multiunit housing complexes.

Smokers would have to light up farther away from entrances, exits, windows and vents of all buildings. And smoking would only be allowed at the curb of sidewalks, streets and alleys. If there is no curb, smoking would be prohibited within 15 feet of entrances or exits, according to the bill.

Smokers also would have to be at least 20 feet from transit shelters, boarding areas and ticket lines, including those for cable cars.

The legislation would ban smoking while waiting in lines at ATMs, theaters, athletic events, concert venues and cab stands.

Another way in which the City makes life difficult for the law abiding is parking.  It costs two dollars an hour to park at a downtown meter, which means carrying around a lot of quarters.  The high cost is necessitated, in part, by the fact that the City has handed out so many handicapped parking waivers, many meters make no money at all.

As it happens, the insanely expensive meters are the least of the parking problem.  The City is also hell on wheels for parking because of all the signs.  I’ve driven down blocks that have six or seven different parking control signs per block.  Clipping along at 25 or 30 miles per hour, trying to read all the signs, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re going to be barred from parking by the sign limiting parking to residents, the sign limiting parking to businesses, the sign limiting parking to certain hours of the day or night, or the sign limiting parking to certain days of the week because of street cleaning.  Decoding the signs might eventually tell you that it’s okay to park on the northern end of the block, but woe betide you if, at the wrong hour of the day, you park at the southern end.  And all this doesn’t even count the signs hidden in untrimmed trees, so that you have to guess as to what they say.

As part of its relentless drive to purify itself into a “liberal” paradise, the City also keeps trying to outlaw guns (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 73), ban the Blue Angels, bar the military from San Francisco schools (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 74), shut down JROTC (although a few stalwarts have managed to hold the line), impeach Republican administrations (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 76), and generally work to shut down avenues of protection or expression for any but the most liberal residents.

San Francisco extends special protections to law-breakers

While piling law after law after law onto the already law-abiding, San Francisco goes out of its way to protect the law breaking.  It refuses to enforce laws against marijuana (SF Admin. Code sec. 12X), a bit of civil disobedience by the city that ensures that every drug dealer within miles views San Francisco as a sort of commercial Mecca.  Whether one believes anti-drug laws are a good thing or a bad thing, I think all reasonable people recognize that, when a single city carves itself out as a dealer’s paradise, it’s setting itself up for drug usage problems of a more serious kind.  The same guy who comes here peddling pot isn’t going to leave his harder drugs far behind, since he knows that the wise police officer will ignore everything rather than get into a politically correct wrangle.

More seriously, San Francisco refuses to enforce federal immigration laws.  It has classed itself as an official “City and County of Refuge.”  (SF Admin. Code, sec. 12H.)  The practical effect of this is that, in the City’s own words,

No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision.  (Sec. 12H.2.)

The City has effectively announced to the world that anyone whose first act upon entering America is to break American law is welcome in San Francisco.  As with the City’s refusal to enforce drug laws, people whose crimes go beyond “merely” entering the country illegally know that they are also welcome in San Francisco.  Anyone with half a brain (meaning no one on the SF Board of Stupidvisors) could have figured out that this sanctuary policy would end in tragedy.  The latest, and most horrible example, of the inevitable tragedy occurred when Edwin Ramos, who came to San Francisco illegally from El Salvador, committed a gangland murder against a father and his two sons, Anthony Bologna, 48, Michael Bologna, 20, and Matthew Bologna, 16, all three of whom were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at Ramos’ time.  The real horror wasn’t even Ramos’ illegal status.  It was that the City knew about his illegal status and his criminal propensities, but did nothing because of the Sanctuary Law:

The case prompted public outcry after it emerged that Ramos was convicted of two gang-related felonies when he was 17, but local officials did not contact federal agencies to determine his immigration status.

The Bologna family — or, I should say, what’s left of it after Ramos’ massacre — is suing.  I wish them luck, but even a lawsuit won’t change the City’s progressive mindset, one that, as a matter of political ideology, elevates lawbreakers over the law-abiding.

When San Francisco does have laws aimed at making life better for the ordinary citizen, it ignores them.  Although it has an official ban against aggressive solicitation (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 25, 69, which the voters forced on the City), that ban is seldom enforced, and the failure to enforce occurs entirely for PC reasons.  For example, on an annual basis the local paper reports about the Hell that is Haight Ashbury, a miserable situation that results, in large part, because of the aggressive homeless:

Haight-Ashbury may be its own worst enemy. The neighborhood that hosted the Summer of Love 40 years ago has developed a nasty edge. Sleepy stoner panhandlers have given way to aggressive street punks who stand in the path of pedestrians and demand payment. Park Station police Capt. Teresa Barrett suggests watching “Haight Street” on YouTube to see the mind-set. One kid says if you have the money to shop on Haight, you’d damn well better kick in $20.

The problem with the Haight isn’t lack of funds, or lack of laws.  Instead, the neighborhood is besieged because of the “liberals” who have bought into the whole root cause ideology when it comes to crime.  These anarchic nanny staters are certain that the bad behaviors that distress the Haight’s residents and visitors alike are a result of the malefactors’ victim status, and have nothing to do with the fact that the City puts no brakes on crime and brutality:

But the city – particularly Haight-Ashbury – has clung to its image as understanding and tolerant. Attempts to install a sit/lie law that would prohibit camping on the sidewalk for hours at a time have gone nowhere. Too mean, too restrictive, critics say.

This kind of urban horror story isn’t limited to the Haight.  Golden Gate Park, which also never recovered from the Summer of Love, is periodically in the papers too, again because the Liberals in the City, unable to break away from the theory that the homeless are all victims who just need to be left alone,  just can’t bear to get tough on vagrancy, begging, and out-and-out crime.  Sure, there are the periodic crackdowns when things become too terrible to contemplate, but then the liberal cycle of letting “victim classes” run the show begins all over again.

Because the City relentlessly defines the drug addicts, alcoholics, and crazy people as victims who can’t be touched, these people live on the streets in filth, eating out of garbage cans, terrorizing ordinary citizens.  Whether riding BART, walking down Montgomery Street, trying to catch a show at the Orpheum on Market Street, visiting the public library, going to City Hall, or going to Costco, the law-abiding, taxpaying Average Joe is assaulted by smells, disease, aggressive begging and, sometimes, actual assaults.  Still, in liberal eyes, it’s the perpetrators, not the solid citizens, who are defined as victim.

San Francisco ignores existing decency laws to protect sexual “victim classes”

The last thing in my litany of complaints about San Francisco’s reverence for law breakers and burdens on law abiders is the special status it accords licentious behavior.  In theory, the City has an obligation to enforce laws supporting public decency.  These are the laws that ban public nudity and public sex acts.  In fact, because the violations of these laws are routinely committed by gay men, the City turns a blind eye to them.  In the City, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals are a protected class, and that means that they get to break laws with impunity.  Incidentally, what follows is not meant to be a tirade against homosexuality.  The fact is that most of San Francisco’s gays are not running around naked, peeing in the streets (and on each other), or having sex in public.  Only a small percentage are doing so — but the kicker is that they do so because the City lets them!  This is, therefore, a tirade against a City that refuses to enforce public decency laws because of political correctness.

I’m not going to pollute this post with pictures of the truly appalling orgies that routinely take place in San Francisco’s streets.  Zombie has created long photo essays showing the Folsom Street Fair, and the Dore Up Your Alley Fair, both of which involve, not just nudity, but some perverse sexual practices I bet some of you haven’t even heard of — and all of them take place out in the open, on public streets.  The police are present (Zombie documents them), but it is obvious that they are under orders not to interfere.

It is possible (although difficult) to argue that two street fairs, which take place in a limited number of blocks in a carefully defined neighborhood should be ignored.  It’s much more difficult to ignore public licentiousness that takes over a long-standing San Francisco tradition, and that drags nudity and bizarre sexual practices right into Golden Gate Park.  Last year, my family went to see the crowd at the San Francisco Bay to Breakers race — a race that was started 96 years ago to commemorate the San Francisco Earthquake and that, for many years, was a fairly straightforward race, starting at the Bay, traversing the City (including Golden Gate Park), and ending at the Pacific.  About a decade ago, it became an occasion at which San Franciscans celebrate their joie de vivre, with many of them turning the event into a giant costume party.  Having heard about the fun costumes, my husband and I thought it would be fun to take the kids.  Boy, were we wrong!

What’s interesting about San Franciscans is that, when they get into costume, so many of them opt, not for charm or cleverness, but for perversion. Of course that doesn’t go for 100% of the race’s participants. It probably applies to only about 3% of them — but 3% of 100,000 is still about 3,000 people parading through San Francisco’s streets and parks celebrating their peculiar sexual fantasies.

That’s why, within seconds of entering Golden Gate Park, my children were confronted with the fascinating spectacle of an aged gentleman who had wrapped rings around himself, hugely inflating his scrotum, which he then proceeded to shake at the crowd. In a normal environment, he would have been arrested. Here, he was just part of the scenery.

This man wasn’t the only naked one. There were lots of naked people. Probably 90% of them had embarrassingly ugly bodies. Why is it always those with the most avoirdupois, the most pendulous breasts, the most bizarrely tufted body hair, the most mottled skin, and the smallest penises who feel this peculiar compulsion to parade around well-attended public spots in the altogether?

Was it any surprise then, that it was these exhibitionists, despite the vast array of porta-potties, who also felt the irresistible compulsion to pee in the bushes?

There was also a lot of drinking, lots and lots.

So, in the space of a few very painful minutes, we were confronted with public nudity, public urination, and public drunkenness — and the cops did nothing.

I don’t blame the San Francisco police officers for doing nothing.  Most of them, I know, are family people who probably find the spectacle of public nakedness, drunkenness and urination as off-putting as you and I do.  The fact is that they do nothing because they are instructed to stand aside and let politically correct classes — in this case, people who get a kick out of deviant exhibitionism — do their own thing without fear of civil retribution.  The fact that ordinary people are assaulted by the sights and the filth is irrelevant because, in the New Age, crystal gazing, politically correct Progressive world of American Leftism, ordinary people count for nothing.  They exist to be taxed and controlled, so that the others can live free.

Conclusion

This has been a really long post — the longest, I think, that I have ever written.  I write it as a tocsin, warning Americans that there is nothing benign about American Leftism, and that it is even more dangerous than the nanny state some people seem willing to accept as the price of living in the modern world.  Because American leftists are as committed to elevating the rights of the criminals, the crazies and the perverts as they are to taxing, quashing and directing the middle and working classes, we can anticipate the worst of all possible worlds:  an America in which ordinary people live under totalitarian control and socialist taxation, while the worst elements in every society are allowed to run rampant.

Keep this in mind as you head to the polling place in 2010.

Watch the Democratic dominoes fall *UPDATED*

There is a lot of talk about whether, looking ahead to the 2010 elections, we’re looking at 1980, or 1994, or 1932 or some other American political year that I can’t even think of right now.  I actually think we’re looking at a different year altogether:  1989.  As you may recall, 1989 was a big year.  While Obama can’t be bothered to get his sorry self over to Berlin, that was the year the Berlin Wall fell.  That was the year the former Soviet Union imploded.  That was the end of the 70+ year long European Communist experiment.  It was a big deal.

What made 1989 a really big deal was that nobody in the establishment saw it coming.  As far as the realpolitik types were concerned (and the liberals, and the media), Communism was a rock solid, all-powerful entity.  In their world view, we were going to be in a perpetual stalemate with our Cold War enemy, because we were all equally weak and equally strong.  On college campuses we were also told that the European Communists really weren’t all that bad and, Rodney King-like, we should just all learn to get along.

Except that this controlling paradigm was anything but true.  European Communism was rotten to the core.  Its people were prisoners, but the prison walls were beginning to collapse under their own weight.  The government managed economies were completely unsustainable.  This internal rot mean that the external pressure the Ronald Reagan placed on those inefficient, dysfunctional economies, coupled with his relentless cheerleading for freedom, brought the whole festering edifice crumbling down.

What was so amazing about the crumble was the speed with which it happened.  If any of us had thought about it, we would have said that European Communism would slowly diminish over the years and the decades.  None of us envisioned the almost instantaneous collapse that occurred.  We oldsters remember that magic moment when the Berlin Wall, an overwhelming physical symbol of the Cold War, simply vanished.  Gone.

Up until about August 2009, conventional wisdom was that the liberal juggernaut was unstoppable.  Under the guidance of the God-like Obama, progressive liberalism was a rock solid, all-powerful entity.  Charles Krauthammer argues that Tuesday put the lie to that fairy tale:

In the aftermath of last year’s Obama sweep, we heard endlessly about its fundamental, revolutionary, transformational nature. How it was ushering in an FDR-like realignment for the 21st century in which new demographics — most prominently, rising minorities and the young — would bury the GOP far into the future. One book proclaimed “The Death of Conservatism,” while the more modest merely predicted the terminal decline of the Republican Party into a regional party of the Deep South or a rump party of marginalized angry white men.

This was all ridiculous from the beginning. 2008 was a historical anomaly. A uniquely charismatic candidate was running at a time of deep war weariness, with an intensely unpopular Republican president, against a politically incompetent opponent, amid the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. And still he won by only seven points.

Exactly a year later comes the empirical validation of that skepticism. Virginia — presumed harbinger of the new realignment, having gone Democratic in ’08 for the first time in 44 years — went red again. With a vengeance. Barack Obama had carried it by six points. The Republican gubernatorial candidate won by 17 — a 23-point swing. New Jersey went from plus 15 Democratic in 2008 to minus 4 in 2009. A 19-point swing.

Ah,” say the skeptics (and Nancy Pelosi).   “You’re just looking at two elections.  That means nothing.”  Well, that may be true.  Except that Riehl World notes that Democratic politicians in more conservative communities are abandoning the sinking liberal ship.  And they’re not slowly abandoning it but, instead, are swiftly heading for the life boats in en masse departures:

Seven Simpson County officials have switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

District Attorney Eddie Bowen, Sheriff Kenneth Lewis, Supervisor Mickey Berry, Justice Court Judge Eugene Knight, Constable Dan Easterling and D’Lo Alderman Michael Shoemaker made the announcement at the Republican Party headquarters in Jackson today.

“I’m just more of a conservative person,” Berry said.

I don’t track elections the way more savvy political observers do.  But I know a trend and can recognize a historic pattern when I see one — and I’m betting that 2009 is going to be the Democratic equivalent of 1989 for the European Communists.  Not only is the Party over, but it’s going to crater with mind-boggling speed.

That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, of course.  Even a damaged party, and a badly damaged party at that, can inflict plenty of wounds on the American economy.  Worse, with Obama in the driver’s seat for at least another three years, we can expect our foreign policy and our national security to continue to swing wildly into danger zones.  With or without Congress and the American people at his back, a hubristic Barack Obama is going to continue his bizarre foreign policy of bowing to dictators, offending friends, and turning his back on the hard work of keeping safe both Americans at home and American troops abroad.

UPDATE:  I’m not the only one who sees lessons in 1989.  Bruce Kesler also thinks it’s an important year for us to look back upon and learn from, with the Berlin Wall as the lesson’s centerpiece.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Confirmation that liberalism is a religion — and Obama is the God *UPDATED*

The Breitbarth site headlines the following video as follows:

SHOCK DISCOVERY:  COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS PRAY TO PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA

With my pre-Obama mindset, I promptly inverted the language and read it as a normal sentence:

SHOCK DISCOVERY:  COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS PRAY TO ELECT PRESIDENT OBAMA

How naive I was.  This political activism group, in a Church, led by people in vestments, prays TO Obama.  Obama is their God.

UPDATE:  Ed Morrissey notes the possibility that the crowd is saying “hear our cry, Oh God!”  Or that some are saying “Oh, God!” and some are saying “Obama.”  He’s got a poll for those of you who want to chime in.  As for me, given that it looks as if a minister is giving an impassioned invocation about health care to a political group, I’m just wondering about that church’s tax exempt status.

Fascism/corporatism/Obamism

In an interview timed to coincide with his book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, having come out in paperback, Jonah Goldberg makes this very interesting point about modern fascism and Obama’s world view:

You know, when I first started pondering the book, I thought it might be all about economics. About ten years ago I went on a junket to Switzerland and attended a talk with the CEO of Nestlé. Listening to him, it became very clear to me that he had little to no interest in free markets or capitalism properly understood. He saw his corporation as a “partner” with governments, NGOs, the U.N., and other massive multinationals. The profit motive was good for efficiency and rewarding talent, but beyond that, he wanted order and predictability and as much planning as he could get. I think that mindset informs the entire class of transnational progressives, the shock troops of what H. G. Wells hoped would lead to his liberal-fascist “world brain.”

If you look at how most liberals think about economics, they want big corporations and big government working in tandem with labor, universities (think industrial policy), and progressive organizations to come up with “inclusive” policies set at the national or international level. That’s not necessarily socialism — it’s corporatism. When you listen to how Obama is making economic policy with “everyone at the table,” he’s describing corporatism, the economic philosophy of fascism. Government is the senior partner, but all of the other institutions are on board — so long as they agree with the government’s agenda. The people left out of this coordinated effort — the Nazis called it the Gleichschaltung — are the small businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the ideological, social, or economic mavericks who don’t want to play along. When you listen to Obama demonize Chrysler’s bondholders simply because they want their contracts enforced and the rule of law sustained, you get a sense of what I’m talking about.

I don’t think Obama wants a brutal tyranny any more than Hillary Clinton does (which is to say I don’t think he wants anything of the sort). But I do think they honestly believe that progress is best served if everyone falls in line with a national agenda, a unifying purpose, a “village” mentality expanded to include all of society. That sentiment drips from almost every liberal exhortation about everything from global warming to national service. But to point it out earns you the label of crank. As I said a minute ago about that “We’re All Fascists Now” chapter, I think people fail to understand that tyrannies — including soft, Huxleyan tyrannies — aren’t born from criminal conspiracies by evil men; they’re born by progressive groupthink. I have an abiding faith in the liberty-loving nature of the American people. But I think we are laying down the foundation for a challenge to that nature the likes of which we haven’t seen since Wilson was in office.

Life in liberal-land *UPDATED*

Thanks to Deanna for bringing my attention to a story about a young girl’s experiment with the diversity and tolerance that is so touted in America’s liberal elite communities.   In Oak Park, Illinois, a wealth “liberal” community much like my own, a 14 year old public school child, noting how her peers were vocal in their support for Obama, decided to conduct a little experiment:  she wore a McCain shirt to school.  The response she got had absolutely nothing to do with diversity of opinion, and a marketplace of ideas, and everything to do with sheer hatred:

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain‘s name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

“People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn’t be wearing it,” Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

“One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed,” Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren’t the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

“In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain,” Catherine said.

[snip]

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

“He said, ‘You should be crucifixed.’ It was kind of funny because, I was like, don’t you mean ‘crucified?’ ” Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be “burned with her shirt on” for “being a filthy-rich Republican.”

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn’t want to jeopardize her experiment.

“I couldn’t show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing,” she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, “I really like your shirt.”

Please read the rest here.

There is nothing “liberal” about liberals.  The old British concept (from which the word sprang) of a loosening of the tight hold a monarchy and aristocracy had on the kingdom, allowing for a freer expression of ideas, is gone.  “Liberal” is now an oxymoronic phrase stuck onto a totalitarian mindset that is filled with hatred of the other.

And it’s no excuse that Catherine received these responses from children.  First, as noted, she got a similar, although less heated, response from a teacher as well.  And second, children learn these responses from the adults in their lives:  from the dinner table conversations in their homes, from the TV they watch, and from the interviews their favorite stars give.

The above is a very frightening story, because it so perfectly illustrates that gaping chasm between the PC, inclusive, tolerant mantra daily chanted on the Left, and the reality of the Left’s approach to American politics.   Those on the Left have armored themselves against, not criticism, but self-reflection, by attaching laudatory words to themselves, and allowing the most foul conduct to exist underneath that loving carapace.

UPDATEAnd here’s an example of a similar kind of “tolerance” at an institution of “higher” education.  Gary Larson has more details, as well as a look at what Annie Grossman’s beating means.

A scathing indictment of modern liberalism

Writing at the American Thinker, J.R. Dunn has a scathing indictment of modern liberalism, starting with the 1968 Democratic convention. I think the whole article is worth reading, especially the bit about the Clinton-esque corruption of Governors Spitzer, McCreevy and Paterson, but I was especially taken with this run-down, which describes the liberalism in which I grew up believing, until even I figured out it was an elaborate shell game:

The Democrats’ 1968 Chicago convention marked the end of classical liberalism. Media coverage revealed American liberals as incapable of controlling their own constituency, much less directing a country. As delegates cowered within the convention center, Movement rioters ran wild throughout the downtown area, fighting knock-down, drag-out battles with the police. Not a single liberal figure made any serious attempt to confront, control, or even communicate with the rioters. Little more than a decade after declaring itself the “American civic creed”, liberalism was on the ropes.
Instead of joining the Whigs and Know-Nothings in historical oblivion, liberalism surrendered to its internal rebels, the Democratic Party’s left wing, indistinguishable in beliefs and intent from any hardcore socialist party on the international scene. In 1972, they ran one of their own, George McGovern who in 1948 had served as delegate for communist front-man Henry Wallace) for the presidency.

McGovern’s defeat at the hands of Richard M. Nixon represented no real setback for the new ideology. American leftists commenced their “Long march through the institutions” using techniques developed by Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci to take over the media, academia, and much of the bureaucracy. Political liberalism, due in large part to its control over massive urban machines, many of then going back to the days of Tammany, continued as a kind of husk animated by the new leftist persona. But liberalism in the classic sense existed only in the minds of the naive, the ill-informed, and terminally nostalgic.
Followers of the mutant ideology were in no way open with their agenda. Instead they operated under the cover of two pretenses — superior governance and high morality. Liberals presented themselves as technocrats with a clearer understanding of policy and governance than the opposition. Pragmatism was their creed, results their only criteria. Utilizing the old gimmicks of constituent services and favors and the new ones of planning and centralization, liberalism was able to maintain its dominance in backward and desperate areas of the country such as the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
The claim to higher morality was more inchoate, a kind of luminous abstraction beyond the grasp of money-grubbing Republicans, clearly understandable only by liberals themselves. Liberals claimed a monopoly on compassion, decency, and social justice (as defined by themselves), posing as the sole defenders of civic virtue against a horde of backwoodsmen, racists, and religious fanatics.
This elaborate double imposture served to keep liberalism alive for over three decades in the absence of ideas, doctrine, and serious accomplishments. But 2008 has brought the charade to an end. Events this year have exposed, once and for all, in a way that cannot be denied, elided, or spun, Democratic liberals as the party of abject incompetence and institutionalized corruption.

To me, the above is a good example of good writing and good thinking.  You can read the rest here and see how neatly Obama and Clinton fit into the modern liberal package.

Judge not lest you be judged

A few days ago, I posted about the rise in antisemitism around the world. One of my readers, who I know is a good and kind woman, decried this trend, but then said something interesting: “And now many Jews insist that we hate Muslims to support them. [snip.] [E]very anti-Islamic article posted makes it that much harder to side with the Jews. No one should be forced to side with one ethnicity over another.” In other words, if I understand her correctly, by bad-mouthing Muslims, Jews are making themselves look bad and are therefore less sympathetic.

(This statement is not unique to this reader, and I don’t want any of you to pick on her. She’s part of a larger trend, and this trend definitely deserves consideration. Indeed, I am grateful to her for being honest so that we can discuss this matter. Any personal attacks against her are strictly off limits and I will delete them as soon as I can.)

The view my reader expressed seems to be a variation on two Biblical principles: “Judge not lest you be judged” and “turn the other cheek.” I’ve always understood these doctrines to apply to the individual, not to the state, and to mean that, within a civilized society, people have to avoid the sins of hypocrisy and should strive to get along with their neighbors. Multiculturalism, however, elevates these Biblical precepts to national policies that insist that victims of threats or aggression may not defend themselves. As one commentator said, in many circles, it is now worse to judge evil than to do evil. (I’d like to give attribution to that speaker, but I can’t find his name anywhere. He’s a British lecturer, if that helps any of you come up with his name.)

I’m actually happy to judge evil — because I know, with certainty, that I am not evil. That is, I don’t have to worry that, in judging others as evil, I might in turn be judged. I can cast rhetorical stones because, while I have my petty sins (I’m lazy, a bit hot-tempered, and I’m greedy when it comes to chocolate), I am not evil. The same holds true for Jews. As a group, they have the same foibles as the average run of citizens, but they are not, collectively, evil. They do not aim their guns intentionally at children, they do not use children to hide their own guns, and they do not revel in the deaths of children. Jews can judge those Muslims who got what they asked for (Gaza) and then launched more than 5,000 rockets into Israel, with the intent to kill civilians. Jews can judge those Muslims who have as their religious doctrine the requirement that the desired end of days be triggered, in part, by the slaughter of Jews. We are allowed to judge when we see evil.

I actually attribute this naive belief that all people are innately good — a belief that, in the modern era alone, should have given way in the face of the Nazi death camps, in Pol Pots killing fields, in Mao’s Great Leap Forward, in the Soviet Union’s lengthy auto-genocide — to a surprising source: Anne Frank. Since the 1950s, every single reasonably educated American has read Anne Frank’s luminous diary. And most American teachers — certainly mine, when I was in junior high school — spent an inordinate amount of time reiterating to us Anne’s most famous words, written on July 15, 1944, exactly two years after she and her family went into hiding to escape the Nazis:

It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. [Emphasis mine.]

Thanks to those words, just about every Western school child learns that “people are truly good at heart.” I think it was that sweet sentiment that my reader had in the back of her mind when she left her comment. In that world view, if everyone is good, it does indeed lessen the virtue of one group of people if they imply that another group of people may not, in fact, be “truly good at heart.” The problem is that Anne Frank was completely and totally wrong.

Before I get into the global wrongness of Anne’s position, it’s useful to understand the context in which Anne wrote those words, as well as to remember what happened to Anne within days of writing them. As Anne freely admited in the next sentence following her famous thought, she wrote those words because she needed to give meaning to a life spent in hiding and a world that had devolved into sadistic chaos.

Two weeks after writing her homage to human kind’s innate goodness, because of a tip from an informer, the Annex’s residents were rounded up by the Nazis and shipped off. Here’s what happened to them: Mr. Van Daan was gassed immediately on his arrival in Auschwitz. Mrs. Van Daan was shuffled from Auschwitz, to Bergen-Belsen, to Buchenwald, to Theresienstadt, and finally to another unknown camp where she apparently died shortly before war’s end. Peter van Daan survived a death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, only to die three days before the camp was liberated. Mr. Dussel, after having spent time in either Buchenwald or Sachenhausen, died in Neuengamme a few months after being arrested. Mrs. Frank died in Auschwitz from starvation and exhaustion. As for Anne and Margot:

Margot and Anne Frank were transported from Auschwitz at the end of October and brought to Bergen-Belsen concentrationton camp near Hanover (Germany). The typhus epidemic that broke out in the winter of 1944-1945, as a result of the horrendous hygienic conditions, killed thousands of prisoners, including Margot and, a few days later, Anne. She must have died in late February or early March. The bodies of both girls were probably dumped in Bergen-Belsen’s mass graves. (From the Afterward to The Diary of a Young Girl : The Definitive Edition, published by Anchor Books Doubleday in 1996)

Anne Frank did not die peacefully or gracefully. Instead, her last days on earth were a nightmare of cold, hunger, loneliness and fear:

Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar (named “Lies” in the diary) and Nanette Blitz, who both survived the war. They said that Anne, naked but for a piece of blanket, explained she was infested with lice and had thrown her clothes away. They described her as bald, emaciated and shivering but although ill herself, she told them that she was more concerned about Margot, whose illness seemed to be more severe. Goslar and Blitz did not see Margot who remained in her bunk, too weak to walk. Anne said they were alone as both of their parents were dead.

Why am I emphasizing all this? Because I want to make it clear that Anne Frank was wrong. People are not innately good. Her words were whistling in the dark, written to give herself faith and courage under terrible circumstances. They cannot and should not be used as a yardstick for measuring human being’s natural state. And for Liberals to cling to this “ideology” moves beyond optimism into self-destruction.

Anyone who has children knows that, while they have a tremendous capacity for love, and have within them the seeds for reason and kindness, their innate state is more Lord of the Flies than anything else. Children are naturally violent, greedy and jealous. What tempers children is a society’s externally imposed value system. And these value systems don’t spring out of whole cloth. They are the results of centuries of give and take, violence, refining, and thought.

In a chauvinistic way that I’m not even going to bother to defend, I think our modern Judeo-Christian value system is one of the best ever created — and it’s not innate, it’s learned. I’ll go even further here: I don’t like the current fundamentalist Islamic value system, with its denigration of women, Jews, and non-Muslims, and its obsession with visiting extreme physical violence (and I include beheading and other slaughters) on those so denigrated.

I don’t think we in the West are innately good, or that those in the fundamentalist Islamic Middle East are inherently bad. I do think, however, that we have the better value system, and that it’s terribly dangerous for people to put their faith in Anne Frank’s touching but misguided words about humans’ innate goodness. Worse, this is not merely the misguided approach of a single good and kind person. Instead, a vast portion of the American population has bought into a teenage girls’ “whistling in the dark” musings and now tries to impose this naive view on American (and Israeli) foreign policy, hampering those countries’ ability to protect themselves against those whose value system calls for its enemies subjugation and death.

When a huge liberal tree falls out of the forest, will anyone listen?

David Mamet is a famous American writer, who has distinguished himself in every area of endeavor: plays, screen plays, film director, essayist, and author. You name it and he’s done it, and done it well. By his own admission (see below), he was also just as liberal as you’d assume an older, intellectual Jewish man in the Broadway and Hollywood world would be. But no longer. Mamet has stepped out of the closet and done so loudly and articulately in The Village Voice:

John Maynard Keynes was twitted with changing his mind. He replied, “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?”

[snip]

I wrote a play about politics (November, Barrymore Theater, Broadway, some seats still available). And as part of the “writing process,” as I believe it’s called, I started thinking about politics. This comment is not actually as jejune as it might seem. Porgy and Bess is a buncha good songs but has nothing to do with race relations, which is the flag of convenience under which it sailed.

But my play, it turned out, was actually about politics, which is to say, about the polemic between persons of two opposing views. The argument in my play is between a president who is self-interested, corrupt, suborned, and realistic, and his leftish, lesbian, utopian-socialist speechwriter.

The play, while being a laugh a minute, is, when it’s at home, a disputation between reason and faith, or perhaps between the conservative (or tragic) view and the liberal (or perfectionist) view. The conservative president in the piece holds that people are each out to make a living, and the best way for government to facilitate that is to stay out of the way, as the inevitable abuses and failures of this system (free-market economics) are less than those of government intervention.

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the ’60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. “?” she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as “a brain-dead liberal,” and to NPR as “National Palestinian Radio.”

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

Please read the rest here. Every word is worth taking in.

I was particularly charmed by the NPR story, because I so completely understand it. When I started listening to NPR in the mid-1980s, it shaped me as a liberal. I unthinkingly accepted the world view it offered. However, as the years rolled by, whether because it got more strident and biased, or because I got more knowledgeable and discriminating, I started getting angry at the stories.

I got angry at the Israel stories, which I found were offensively biased (I love Mamet’s “National Palestinian Radio” quip). I got angry at the stories that advocated euthanasia in America, even though I’ve always understood that America is not like Holland, with its cradle to grave care, so that there would be an economic incentive for American families to press a loved one to end it all before using up the money. I now know that the situation is even worse in socialized states because, while familial love will be a strong pushback against urging suicide, states looking at the bottom line will not have any emotional problems with hastening their expensively sick citizens to their deaths. I hated the stories that positively presented “ethics” classes at high school, classes that didn’t actually teach any morality, but just devolved into discussion groups about people’s feelings. (Stealing is bad, except if it feels good to steal.) I hated the unwavering and increasingly irrational anti-George Bush stories, stories that had an emotional content completely inconsistent with the underlying facts.

I found myself driving in the car screaming at the radio (very uncharacteristic behavior for me, I assure you) and, news junkie that I am, I started searching for alternatives. These alternatives turned out to be Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt. I thought that I’d be screaming at them (radio-wise), but couldn’t have been more wrong. Sometimes, listening to their shows, I felt like one of those bobbleheaded dogs people have in the back of their cars, because I was nodding so much in agreement. Nor did I feel that I’d just converted mindlessly from one true belief to another. On NPR, shows were presented as tight little stories that pushed one inevitably towards the reporter’s conclusion — all without the reporter ever admitting to a bias. On talk radio, the host freely admitted to his bias — and then defended it. He used the facts to make his case. He took on calls hostile to his position. He invited guests with whom he disagreed. It was a revelation to me.

I don’t always agree with what my talk radio hosts say, but I always agree with the intellectual honesty they show, with their openness about their bias, and with their willingness to defend their position and, if necessary, to concede any errors, factual or theoretical, that they have made.

And that’s just one point in Mamet’s essay with which I agree. He describes so precisely the intellectual journey I made, one in which I learned to examine the liberal shibboleths with which I’d been raised and to recognize that they don’t apply to the real world. Instead, they posit exactly the same world Marx and Engels believed existed in mid-19th Century Europe, and act as if nothing has changed. As if no World Wars have come along, as if modern technology didn’t exist, as if economics are still Keynesian, and as if Communism, rather than proving to be an abysmal totalitarian failure, is still the last, best hope of mankind.

Mamet has beautifully articulated Progressivism’s failure to align political theory with the world in which we actually live. He’s chosen to do so in the Village Voice, a well known liberal publication. (And kudos to the Voice for publishing his essay.) I wonder if his thoughts will affect any of his readers, by helping them to reexamine their own unthinking beliefs. Given the defensive narcissism that characterizes Progressive thinking, though, I rather doubt that will happen. He’ll be reviled as a traitor, chastized as someone whose mind is going, or simply ignored.

In this regard, it’s worthwhile checking out the comments to his essay. Some congratulate him on making the journey they made themselves, as I do; some riff in their own little wonderland; and some are incredibly angry and abusive that someone would leave the true faith. I’m reprinting a small handful of those that fall into the last category, since I think they illustrate my point about the defensive narcissism of the Progressive true believer:

Michael on Wed Mar 12, 2008, 12:01, says:

I had no idea a talent like David Mamet could be so shallow. I love his plays but if he thinks Thomas Sowell is even a mediocre mind then I have to conclude Mamet is in serious mental trouble.

This article seems to say “we’re all

troubled humans muddling through so let’s forget about advancing ourselves:. To hell with that mantra for the weaklings. And equating a punk mind such as Bush’s with Kennedy in any way, much less sophistic minor comparisons suited to the purpose, is not a substitute for real thought.

All in all this is a pitiful article and I am sorry to see this talent abuse himself.

[snip]

tom on Wed Mar 12, 2008, 11:57, says:

If government can’t run things just let the free market do it? That’s worked out just great the past 7 years.

Mr. Mamet, I’m afraid you’ve become a lazy citizen. Our government isn’t something you just vote for every 2-4 years and then send off to do it’s job. You need to stay engaged. Our form of government isn’t a wind-up toy, it’s a child and it takes constant supervision and guidance from We the People.

Put simply: Get involved.

[snip]

Deadhead on Tue Mar 11, 2008, 21:18, says:

We’re not braid-dead [sic], David. We just don’t like pulling the wool over our eyes.

Does this mean that you’ve given up on democracy and thrown in with the authoritarians? Aligning yourself with Milton Friedman suggests tacit support of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Just asking.

On Bush and JFK: The former’s crimes in Iraq and the latter’s crimes in Cuba prove both men were following the same flawed logic of global hegemony. Saying they’re the flip side of the same coin illustrates nothing but the stranglehold Wall Street has on our political process.

The view that government shouldn’t interfere in the lives of the citizenry is the view of anarchists, not conservatives. On the contrary, conservatives believe that government should intrude again and again, in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and bail-outs for “the corporations.”

Happy election season, indeed.

P.S.

Your reference to National Palestinian Radio is borderline racist. If you want to send me a link to the last NPR report that was sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, then I’ll be happy to eat crow.

[snip]

Tony on Wed Mar 12, 2008, 03:15, says:

The idiocy of this piece is evident right away from the author’s gross over generalization that government has never done anything right or leads ONLY to “sorrow.”

Then, he continues to talk about “magnificent” schools and the jury system, both of which are products of government.

The government builds roads, schools, employs police officers, firefighters and manages that military you are so proud of.

Stick to making mediocre movies, moron.

Hat tip: The Anchoress