The Bookworm Beat 12-1-15 — “Last month of the year” edition and open thread
We’re 11/12 of the way through a rather challenging year. I wonder what the last month will bring, not to mention the remaining 12.5 months of Obama’s presidency. Well, the future will be what it will be. Let’s use this round-up, which I compiled with a friend’s help, to focus on the present:
JFK’s assassination killed America
The 1950s had its economic ups and downs, its worries about a nuclear future, its Red scares, its Jim Crow/Civil Rights face-off, etc., but overall the 1950s was defined by its boundless optimism. People, including Democrats, believed that America was a wonderful, world-saving country, and that the future held immeasurable promise. In other words, the general outlook was a complete 180 from the dislike Progressives feel for America and the despair with which conservatives view it.
George Will says that Kennedy’s assassination did this. What Will adds to this bromide is important. It wasn’t Kennedy’s actual death that wrought the change, he says. Instead, in order to avoid admitting that a communist killed their hero, Democrats had to savage America:
Three days after the assassination, a Times editorial, “Spiral of Hate,” identified JFK’s killer as a “spirit”: The Times deplored “the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down” Kennedy. The editorialists were, presumably, immune to this spirit. The new liberalism-as-paternalism would be about correcting other people’s defects.
Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America’s social climate whose sickness required “punitive liberalism.”
The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation’s trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America. Fittingly, the narrative was most injurious to the narrators. Their recasting of the tragedy to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism.
Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president. To be a liberal would mean being a scold. Liberalism would become the doctrine of grievance groups owed redress for cumulative inherited injuries inflicted by the nation’s tawdry history, toxic present and ominous future.
That’s as scathing an indictment of the Leftist mindset as one can imagine, as well as a sad eulogy for the end of the American dream at the hands of the people who claimed most to represent that dream.
Leftist pessimism leads to imaginary enemies
The Leftist pessimism that Democrats seeded after Kennedy’s death has turned into what I call insane paranoia, and what Bret Stephens more politely calls “imaginary enemies”. After calling out such imaginary enemies as starvation in America (bogus study), the rape culture on campus (bogus study), and institutionalized racism of the type that would have made Jim Crow proud (delusional mindset), Stephens has this to say:
Dramatic crises—for which evidence tends to be anecdotal, subjective, invisible, tendentious and sometimes fabricated—are trumpeted on the basis of incompetently designed studies, poorly understood statistics, or semantic legerdemain. Food insecurity is not remotely the same as hunger. An abusive cop does not equal a bigoted police department. An unwanted kiss or touch is not the same as sexual assault, at least if the word assault is to mean anything.
Yet bogus studies and statistics survive because the cottage industries of compassion need them to be believed, and because mindless repetition has a way of making things nearly true, and because dramatic crises require drastic and all-encompassing solutions. Besides, the thinking goes, falsehood and exaggeration can serve a purpose if it induces virtuous behavior. The more afraid we are of the shadow of racism, the more conscious we might become of our own unsuspected biases.
All of this, of course, ultimately leads to the “need” for the vastly expensive, CO2 wasting, killingly costly, allegedly anti-terrorism fighting climate shindig in Paris.
Microaggressions — another imaginary Leftist woe that mandates cultural abasement
In an article on Microaggressions and Other Fictions, the author covers familiar terrain, which is that these radicals are immersed in an incredibly toxic paradigm of seeing slights and racism everywhere. This is, of course, the logical extension of the self-hatred that George Will defines as the “liberal” contribution to Kennedy’s assassination. The same article then makes the point that the self-identified victims of microaggressions are, of course, demanding a form of justice that ought not be possible in a country still owing fealty to the U.S. Constitution:
These young people are radical. They cherish extremely divisive and dangerous ideas of what justice looks like, what society owes them, and how they should be able to shut down anyone who disagrees with them. They are gaining more and more power, abetted by authorities who came out of the same educational system.
“For almost 50 years universities have adopted racialist policies in the name of equality, repressive speech codes in the name of tolerance, ideological orthodoxy in the name of intellectual freedom,” wrote Bret Stephens in his Wall Street Journalcolumn this week. “Sooner or later, Orwellian methods will lead to Orwellian outcomes. Those coddled, bullying undergrads shouting their demands for safer spaces, easier classes, and additional racial set-asides are exactly what the campus faculty and administrators deserve.
Toxic liberalism will eventually destroy itself, although it may destroy everything else first.
PJM points out that the student protests are, in a weird way, not just the continuation of, but the result of all of Obama’s chief initiatives. The millennials are just playing out the final act of toxic progressivism. After all, all Left wing movements seem to have their struggles between the Boshevicks and the Menshevicks. And as always, the first generation is appalled at what its teachings have wrought.
Still, despite the ingratitude of the up-and-coming Leftist generation, the old guard is still working hard to maintain its fictions. Note, for example, the juxtaposition of two stories regarding “hate speech” and violent rhetoric. One is the Left’s “all hands in” effort to tie the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting to the Right, and claiming it to be a clear case of cause and effect. The Left does this all of the time.
The urgency here, though, may have to do with the reality of those Center for Medical Progress videos. As James Taranto points out, the videos didn’t have a single inflammatory word from pro-Lifers. All that they did was expose how Planned Parenthood operates, and the videos did so solely by filming current and past Planned Parenthood employees, and the results of their work. In other words, Planned Parenthood indicted itself of terrible crimes.
Meanwhile, there is real cause and effect on the Left, with the black teen who advertised his intent to kill 16 white people for each bullet that entered the body of the Chicago teen killed by the police.
John Hawkins supports Ted Cruz
I know and like John Hawkins, and think he’s one of the smartest political observers out there. It’s therefore no surprise to me that he supports Ted Cruz. He analyzes the candidates and comes to the same conclusion that I have:
You want someone who would build a wall? Cruz would do it. You want someone who would shrink the size of government? Cruz would do it. You want someone who would be guaranteed to pick conservative Supreme Court Justices like Thomas and Scalia? Cruz would do it. In fact, Cruz might be the ONLY candidate left standing who’d be willing to do whatever it takes to repeal and replace Obamacare.
If you want an electable candidate who will help the GOP with Hispanics, kill Obamacare, handle illegal immigration, move the country to the Right and fight for the principles conservatives stand for, you cannot do any better than Ted Cruz.
Again, I’m not going to badmouth any of the other candidates, all of whom bring something to the (Republican) party. I’m just going to say that Cruz is my favorite, because I think he’s the most consistent small government conservative, and his intelligence, courage, and understanding of the system mean that he’s most likely to implement a true conservative administration.
No, Parisians don’t and won’t have more sympathy now for Jews
An interesting post at Seraphic Secret on the EU Israel relationship in the wake of the Paris attacks. Robert posts an article from a Jew in Brussels who thinks that the Paris attack has driven home the point to the Euro-trash that the Islamists aren’t just coming for the Jews and they aren’t being bought off. Robert is a tad more pessimistic.
Pope Francis is every bit the Leftist I feared
Not long after his ascension to the papacy, I spelled out what Pope Francis is: a hard-core Leftist who came out of the Left’s long march through the Latin American Catholic Church. Nothing he’s done since then has changed my mind. As a friend said, for God’s sake, bring back the Borgias. They would do less damage to the faithful and the world than our current padre.
The U.N. climate conference in Paris is most likely humanity’s last chance to thwart global environmental disaster, Pope Francis said on Monday, warning the world was “at the limits of suicide”.
The pope, who wrote a major document on the environment last June, made the comment in an hour-long news conference aboard the plane returning him to Rome at the end of a six-day trip to Africa.
The freewheeling conversations have become a trademark of his papacy and the few times he takes direct questions from journalists.
Francis, who visited Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, also said the continent was “a martyr of exploitation” by wealthy countries who lust after its natural resources and try to impose Western values instead of concentrating on development.
Is the Left trying to make ISIS fighters their next “victim du jour”?
A charge was recently leveled that ISIS fighters turned over to or captured by the Kurds are being tortured. This is another first world problem of the Left, who now want to make victims of ISIS versus our allies, who are the true victims reacting to ISIS predation, but whom the Left busily paints as being too evil. This really is tied into the whole mindset of microaggressions and everything else being pushed out by the Left. They would hold us to standards that they do not hold our enemies to.