Friday evening, 8/25/17

  1. Morris Dees is a Morris Dees impersonator
  2. The South ain’t rising again
  3. Bringing people together
  4. Subverting the museum-visitor pact
  5. Ad occidentum now de fides?
  6. When you’re deep in the hole …
  7. Nancy, you incredibly ignorant …
  8. The symbolic importance of The Wall

1

Like every other decent American, I was outraged that the president of the United States equivocated in condemning neo-Nazi activity in this country. Nazism — not to mention white supremacy and racial bigotry — has no place in a civilized society.

But is donating money to the S.P.L.C. the best way to combat this poison? I think not. If Tim Cook and Jamie Dimon had done their due diligence, they would know that the S.P.L.C. is an organization that has lost its way, smearing people who are fighting for liberty and turning a blind eye to an ideology and political movement that has much in common with Nazism.

I am a black woman, a feminist and a former Muslim who has consistently opposed political violence. The price for expressing my beliefs has been high: I must travel with armed security at all times. My friend and collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight.

Yet the S.P.L.C. has the audacity to label me an “extremist,” including my name in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” that it published on its website last October.

… I have dedicated much of my adult life to calling out the true extremists: organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Yet you will look in vain for the S.P.L.C.’s “Field Guide to Muslim Extremists.” No such list exists.

It is not surprising that, when I point out such facts, I am viciously attacked and threatened by those who are dedicated to Islamic extremism. But it has always struck me as odd that so many supposed liberals in the West take their side rather than mine, as happened three years ago, when Brandeis University rescinded their offer to me of an honorary degree. I would have expected a civil-rights organization supposedly committed to justice to speak out against those who would oppress women, gays and people of other faiths. But the S.P.L.C. has nothing to say about Islamic extremists; only about their opponents.

Cui bono? That question is nearly always the right one to ask of organizations like the S.P.L.C. Who really benefits from their activities? Repeatedly, and for more than a decade, journalists at publications ranging from Harper’s to Politico to The Nation to The Weekly Standard have pointed out that the center’s founders seem more interested in profiting off the anxieties and white guilt of Northern liberals than in upholding the civil rights of poor Southerners, or anyone else.

(Ayaan Hirsi Ali)

Corporate America will do almost anything to stay on the safe side of public opinion—at least as it’s defined by the media. CEOs will apologize, grovel, resign, settle. They will even, as of this month, legitimize and fund an outfit that exists to smear conservatives.

… The SPLC alone decides who goes on the list, but its criteria are purposely vague. Since the SPLC is a far-left activist group, the map comes down to this: If the SPLC doesn’t agree with your views, it tags you as a hater.

The SPLC has tarred the respected social scientist Charles Murray, author of the well-regarded book “Losing Ground,” as a “white nationalist.” Mr. Murray has been physically assaulted on campus as a result. He happens to be married to an Asian woman and has Asian daughters, so the slur is ludicrous. But what’s a little smearing and career destruction if J.P. Morgan Chase gets some good headlines?

Had the companies done a bit of homework, they’d have discovered the SPLC isn’t even considered a sound charity. Karl Zinsmeister excoriated the outfit in a recent article for Philanthropy Roundtable: “Its two largest expenses are propaganda operations: creating its annual list of ‘haters’ and ‘extremists,’ and running a big effort that pushes ‘tolerance education’ through more than 400,000 public-school teachers. And the single biggest effort undertaken by the SPLC? Fundraising. On the organization’s 2015 IRS 990 form it declared $10 million of direct fundraising expenses, far more than it has ever spent on legal services.”

(Kimberly Strassel, on the donations of J.P. Morgan Chase and others to SPLC)

Morris Dees has become a Morris Dees impersonator, trading on fading glory. And it has been quite a lucrative racket.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Once SPLC is disinfected, though, will there be anything left besides a few wistful memories of good work done decades ago?

Oh: and the offshore bank accounts.

2

The South has distinct cultural tendencies, and not necessarily what you’re thinking.

[T]he idea that most Southern white people want to preserve Confederate monuments because they are Lost Cause racists is way off base. Nobody down South takes the “South Shall Rise Again” types seriously, and certainly not as seriously as jittery Northerners do. This is just my intuition, but it seems to me far more likely that the Southern sentiment comes out of an instinct that says, By attacking these statues you are attacking our ancestors, which is to say, you’re attacking us. …

Point is, I believe it’s a mistake to assume that white support for leaving the monuments is about defending white supremacy. It probably has more to do with fear of dispossession. As I wrote in my Samuel Huntington post on iconoclasm, citing the political scientist Carol Swain — an African-American who has written on white nativism — a variety of powerful forces are coalescing now to raise and to concentrate white racial consciousness. Among them is a sense among a certain class of whites that they have no roots — a conviction that leads them to find identity in victimization.

The real tragedy in all this, it seems to me, is that you can’t really be dispossessed of the things you’ve already thrown away ….

(Rod Dreher) I was also gratified to see what Dwight Eisenhower said in response to a challenge to him having a portrait of Robert E. Lee in the Oval Office:

Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.

Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.

(Dreher’s source, emphasis added)

So much for facile condemnations of Lee as a “traitor who tried to destroy the Union.” From where he stood, he was a patriot defending the right to secede (even if the cause of secession was bad) against those who were trying to change the constitutional rules.

The issue was “settled” by bloodshed, and the victors wrote the histories. Most of my countrymen have swallowed that history hook, line and sinker.

I’m glad slavery was abolished, but on the right to secede, viewed in isolation from the abomination of human slavery, the principle of indissoluble union has never been established to my satisfaction. Someday, the United Counties of California may be glad a handful of die-hards kept reminding them of the right to secede.

3

A Scottish conservative discovers pseudo-diverse American campus life. After learning to bite her tongue about anything sane, she sought soul-mates:

During class discussions, I’ve learned to discreetly scan my classmates’ faces for signs that they might be fellow free-thinkers. A slight head tilt at the mention of Islamophobia, a gentle questioning of what exactly is meant by ‘toxic masculinity’. I was thrilled to see a scribbled note — ‘This is utter shit’ — on someone’s copy of one of the reading requirements, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (an introduction to queer theory). In this way, I found the members of my secret non-conformist book club.

We met in a disused convent in Hell’s Kitchen and discussed campus-censored ideas. We read Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe, Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus and Walter Benn Michaels’s The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality. We were a diverse group: a Catholic woman, a black conservative man, an anti-theist neoconservative, a Protestant libertarian, and a quick-witted Spanish contrarian. We were united in agreeing that we should be free to disagree. We made our own unsafe space, and at the end of each meeting, we were invigorated and parted on good terms.

At the end of the year I hosted a party in my grungy sixth-floor apartment in Washington Heights, where my classmates finally came face-to-face with some real-life conservatives. I had naively hoped people wouldn’t talk about politics. But my hopes were soon dashed. A friend’s boyfriend came wearing a Reagan and Bush T-shirt. When confronted about his choice of outfit, he shrugged confusedly: ‘It’s laundry day.’ Another friend, an African-American conservative, who was wearing a US military cap, was furiously berated from across the room by a liberal of colour, ‘How can you be a conservative and black?’

When two classmates pointed in horror to the (admittedly large) crucifix on my wall — my own identity signifier — I climbed out of the window and on to the fire escape. The game was up. An image of the dying Jesus had scuppered my intellectual, perhaps even moral, credibility. I would be returning to NYU in the autumn, the flag of ‘cultural fascism’ forever nailed to my mast. A highly intoxicated friend, who had been enthralled by the whole experience, soon joined me. Handing me a cigarette, he congratulated me on ‘bringing people together’.

(Madeleine Kearns)

Speaking of American “education,” John Michael Greer, interviewed on KunstlerCast 293, had some very pointed observations:

We need to talk about the academic industry. It’s not about ideas. The academic industry in America today is a system for using deceptive marketing to sell predatory loans to the clueless and the desperate. That’s all it is. It’s all about pushing predatory loans. The content is irrelevant — except for the fact that it needs to follow fashions … The bad ideas we’ve been talking about, this is the current ideology of the privileged. It is not coming from the bottom end of society; it’s coming from the well-to-do, from the comfortable, from the people who make salaries and whose healthcare is paid for by their employers.

(6:43 ff) The whole podcast crackles with impolitic truth.

4

Smart phones have changed the museum experience, Carolyn Stewart argues over at The American Interest, and not for the better: “A selfie can be more than just a selfie. In the gallery setting, selfie-taking subverts a pact that has existed between museums and visitors since the Enlightenment Era. Museums offer a transformational experience and communion with creative genius in exchange for the focused attention of its visitors. But when we walk through a gallery today, we are accompanied by our invisible audience and the lure of self-presentation in the digital era. The average museum visitor spends seven seconds in front of an artwork—how you choose to spend each second counts.”

(Micah Mattix, Prufrock, a daily emailing of Books, Arts, Ideas. I think you might subscribe by emailing the author)

5

Anyone anticipating healing of Rome’s schism from the rest of the Church can dial down their expectations now. Pope Francis on Thursday doubled down, and doubled down hard, on one of the non-dogmatic differences that vex relations between Orthodoxy and Rome: liturgical innovations: “We can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

Not everything about Vatican II was anathema (in the loose sense) to Orthodox sensibilities, but Mass ad occidentum is and is likely to remain a very big deal. That’s how I read it, anyway.

6

There’s a story about a guy who was caught killing a northern spotted owl, arrested and hauled off to jail. The Conservation Officer’s curiosity got the better of him in transit.

“Why’d you shoot it?,” he asked.

“For food,” came the reply.

“What does it taste like?,” asked the officer.

“Oh, about like bald eagle.”

Somehow, that came to mind when I read this story.

7

It’s scandalous that Nancy Pelosi is so ignorant of the First Amendment. It’s comforting that David French has video of her rambling and is here to set the record straight:

[S]peakers can advocate violence even in front of an armed crowd unless their speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action” (emphasis added).

Remember the early Saturday Night Live, when Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin did a Jack Kilpatrick/Shana Alexander point-counterpoint satire?

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

8

* * * * *

Gosh! Did you see what President Donald Trump is up to today? How utterly fascinating he is! I weep with envy when I look upon Melania. He fills my every thought! He surely doesn’t need to start any more stupid wars to get my undivided attention! No siree!

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.