Category: Culture

Democrats vs. men

Readers might remember that in the wake of 9/11, there was a school of thought that the Republican Party was the “daddy party” and the Democratic Party was the “mommy party.”

Alex Perez might have something like that in mind:

A year after the 2016 election, I overheard my first conversation in which two young men of color discussed the political issues of the day. I don’t remember what they were going on about, but the fact that they were going on about politics—and with such fervor! — was what struck immediately, as young men discussing politics was a rarity in my working-class Miami neighborhood, where typically it was older men who engaged in these sometimes heated discussions.

Sitting across from them at Starbucks, I noted their interaction as an entertaining anomaly and chalked it up to the current hyper-politicized cultural moment in which anyone, at any time, might surprise you with their clearly newfound interest in politics. Which is to say that I expected to encounter no more than a handful of these political squabbles between young men of color in the ensuing years of the Trump era, as the possibility of a broad political realignment driven by this traditionally disinterested demographic went against all conventional wisdom and seemed far-fetched, even to someone on the ground witnessing its inception — boy, was I wrong.

In the months and years to follow, all over Miami, in bars, coffee shops, and at the gym, I would overhear–and was sometimes pulled into — these rudimentary political conversations between young men of color. What was immediately obvious was that a majority, if not all, of these young men were brought into their nascent political awareness by issues relating to their masculinity and manhood. An archetype emerged: these were young men who never thought about politics until politics knocked on their door and made them aware of its existence. Like so many, personal grievance is what drove them into the political arena and what was driving their politics. The gist of their beef: When the hell did it stop being okay to be a regular dude?

My initial impulse was to think that these encounters were statistical outliers, the product of living in a community that sometimes suffers from overly chauvinist tendencies, but as their frequency increased, I realized that if you come up against enough anecdotal evidence, at a certain point it stops being anecdotal. There was clearly a trend, and my amateur hypothesis at the time was that this phenomenon wasn’t localized to Miami, but that young Hispanic and African-American men all over the country were politicizing, and whether they knew it yet or not, would play an important role in the next presidential election. I suspect that this trend has been obvious for some time now to anyone who lives in an urban center, but recently, New York Times columnist Charles Blow was recently caught off guard by the new reality and tweeted:

“Today my friends in Atlanta (black) saw a Facebook message from their old barber (black) imploring them all to vote for [President Donald] Trump. Don’t think that Trump’s message doesn’t resonate with a certain sector of black men. Also, barbers have a lot of sway in the black community.”

Blow’s alarm comes from the realization that this new voting bloc — a young, multicultural male coalition — might not be traditionally conservative, but on account of the progressive left’s post-2016 stance on masculinity, definitely won’t be voting democratic if they vote at all. The size of this coalition is not yet known, but if the polls showing Trump drawing support with Hispanics and slightly increasing approval among African-Americans are accurate, we might already have the answer — large enough to play a significant role in the election. The upcoming election will be won on the margins, and if this multicultural male coalition shows up and votes, there’s no doubt who they’ll be pulling the lever for—Trump.

The responses to Blow’s Twitter warning range from disbelief to outright rage, but what these hardcore progressives are really saying is, “Why? How can this be? Aren’t all minorities and people of color on our side?”

The race-essentialist line of thinking that has taken over the Democratic Party in which race determines worldview and political affiliation — and everything else for that matter — leaves one blind to other traits and beliefs that play a significant role in constituting a person’s identity. In this case, they missed what is painfully obvious to anyone who isn’t blinded by race obsession: most men, irrespective of color or creed, think of themselves as traditionally masculine. The political awakening of young men of color, then, can be traced to the media’s treatment of white Americans, and more specifically, white men, after Trump’s victory in 2016. Unable to look inward and reassess as to why they’d completely misread what was going on in the country, the media and its acolytes in the Democratic establishment needed a villainous scapegoat in order to explain the catastrophic failure of understanding that had delivered the final blow of obsolescence to the expert class. The new narrative was as quickly constructed as it was lacking in nuance: white Americans, seeped and soaked in white rage and white privilege, wanted to take the country back to its racist past.

“Toxic masculinity,” a new catchphrase that had escaped academia and taken root in the demented Internet hive-mind, was added to the mix, and the post-2016 explanation was set in stone: white men, who suffer from toxic masculinity more than other men — due to the weakness of their whiteness, of course — were specifically to blame for Trump and the rest of the country’s ills. If you were online during this time, I don’t have to remind you that for months on end, a steady stream of articles and essays and tedious explainers were published on a near-daily basis by mainstream outlets.

In short, the idea behind toxic masculinity is simple: traditional conception of masculinity, even in its most benign facets, is at the root of all civilizational rot — men must be rehabilitated, lest they continue ruining the country and the planet. The mainstreaming of this narrative cleared the way for what would become a full-on assault on masculinity and the cultural uprisings that followed. There was the rise of the well-intentioned Me Too movement and the overreach of said movement; the derangement of the Kavanaugh hearings, in which anything said by a woman, no matter how unbelievable it may sound, was to be believed.

And on top of all of this, the media landscape, academia, the corporate world, and other institutions which had been feminizing and increasingly catering to an effete woke mindset, accelerated their efforts in creating spaces devoid of men and masculinity. All of this cultural engineering was framed as a way to remove toxically masculine white men from positions of cultural and political power, but once again, the expert class was blind to a major unintended consequence of all their maneuvering: young men of color started to catch wind that this anti-white male hate would soon come for them. What had started as a project to get rid of those evil white men had transformed into a war against masculinity itself.

The Aziz Ansari case, in which the comedian/actor was pilloried and Me-Too’d for what was essentially a bad date, signaled to men of color that they weren’t going to be exempt from the anti-masculinity crusade on account of their POC status. This was a huge problem for men of color — specifically African-American men — as they’ve historically been the greatest victims of false rape accusations.

Much ink was spilled during this time by cultural critics and blue-check experts on the masculinity scourge that must be eliminated, but the “toxic masculinity” narrative was codified when, in early 2019, the American Psychological Association released a document stating that “traditional masculinity ideology” often negatively affected the mental and physical well-being of young men — the APA, shockingly, had said the quiet part out loud.

The cultural engineers declared victory, completely unaware that a multicultural male coalition had been watching and coalescing. These young men who grew up online and attended the institutions that first cultivated and disseminated this anti-masculinity ideology were the same young men I was encountering on my rambles around Miami—the very same men Blow fears might now vote for Trump.

Is this demographic of young multicultural men the new “hidden Trump voter” that might deliver him a victory? Blow, and others in his cohort, seem to think it a distinct possibility.

Even if the Me Too movement hadn’t gone off the rails and if the APA hadn’t pathologized traditional masculinity, young men of color were already drifting toward the right anyway, if at a less accelerated rate. For years now, the Democratic Party has rejected any masculine sensibility in favor of a gung-ho girl power aesthetic that caters strictly to the highly feminized, whether male or female. The Democratic National Convention was the apotheosis of this progressive feminization, a four-day event that resembled a weepy all-girl sleepover more than a political function. I was half-expecting Joe Biden to give his convention speech wearing a dress, but mercifully the old coot was allowed to wear a traditionally masculine and toxic suit.

All this to say that the Democratic Party is now the party of women and those who identify with the overly feminine sensibility. There’s nothing wrong with this being your cup of tea, of course, but Democrats shouldn’t be surprised when young men of all stripes are turned off by a party that is completely devoid of any masculine energy.

This is obvious to anyone who has ever associated with young Hispanic and African-American men, but as the Democratic Party is run by ultra-white and woke coastal elites who only ever pander to, but never actually associate with people of color—especially men—let me spell it out for them: Black and Hispanic young men, most of whom don’t reside in progressive coastal cities, are traditionally masculine and do not respond to the overly feminine posturing found in progressive circles. To most men of color, traditional masculinity isn’t a toxic ideology, or, for that matter, an ideology at all, but simply the natural order of things. They think and behave like men because it is what’s demanded of them and what it is necessary for survival in the real world. To tell a young man of color living in the inner city that his way of thinking is toxic is to place him in peril, as his survival depends not on buzzwords or the tampering down of his masculinity, but on signaling masculine strength when confronted by a world that is not beholden to the passive-aggressive femininity of elite cultural spaces.

It’s an open question as to whether young men of color will turn out for Trump, but if the Republican National Convention was any indication, the Republican Party is making a play for their vote. Much has been said of the convention’s America-is-great message, but what was played up almost as much, whether intentionally or not, was the power and virtue of traditional masculinity.

There was Sen. Tim Scott’s speech, in which he traced his family’s rise from slavery to the highest reaches of American power, delivered in the oratory style of a man who had never given up, whose familial legacy of overcoming nearly insurmountable odds would make the thought of accepting his plight inconceivable. The speech spoke to all Americans, of course, but it can’t go unnoticed that it was delivered by a man of color who had risen to the top, in large part, due to classic masculine virtues — stoicism and stick-to-itiveness.

Then there was Cuban-American old-timer Maximo Alvarez, a self-made businessman, and like Scott, the epitome of the American Dream, who spoke with the masculine ferocity and power of Vince Lombardi. Here was a man who other men would listen to, unlike Billy Porter, the actor who sang at the Democratic Convention and is best known for parading up and down red carpets in dresses, who is seemingly only famous among the brunch-attending career gals who make up the Democratic Party.

The greatest example of masculine strength at the Republican Convention occurred when Madison Cawthorn, the disabled young man running for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, stood up from his wheelchair after delivering a barnburner of a speech. It was an incredibly moving moment, made all the more so by the fact that he was flanked by two friends who assisted him as he stood. Here was a prime example of masculine strength, as well as brotherly kinship, being displayed for all the young men of America to see. It was not toxic or problematic, but simply good and true, and it hearkened back to times when such virtues were considered indispensable and undoubtedly American.

These three speeches — two delivered by men of color — made a case for the nobility of traditional masculinity, and I have no doubt, spoke to young men of color in a way they can understand: You are an American man. Stand up. Do what needs to be done.

I can’t imagine a better message, not only for men of color, but all men—a message that might drive them to vote in record numbers in November.

The latest depravity

The Wall Street Journal:

No one other than the shooter is re­spon­si­ble for the gun­fire am­bush Sat­ur­day of two Los An­ge­les County sher­iff’s deputies as they sat in their pa­trol car. But the same can’t be said for the pro­testers who blocked the en­trance to the hos­pi­tal where the two are be­ing treated, and chanted “we hope they die.” The lat­ter is a cul­tural poi­son nur­tured by the left-wing anti-po­lice move­ment sweep­ing the coun­try.

The two deputies were “am­bushed by a gun­man in a cow­ardly fash­ion” in the Comp­ton neigh­bor­hood, said Sher­iff Alex Vil­la­neuva at a press con­fer­ence. The deputies hadn’t been iden­ti­fied by name as we write this, but press re­ports say one is a 31-year-old mother and the other a 24-year-old man. Both have been with the de­part­ment a lit­tle more than a year.

Po­lice haven’t iden­ti­fied a sus­pect, but the ran­dom­ness of the am­bush sug­gests some­one look­ing for any avail­able po­lice tar­get. We’ve seen this be­fore when anti-po­lice fever is hot. A gun­man shot and killed two of­fi­cers in their car in New York in 2014 fol­low­ing the death of black sus­pects be­ing ar­rested in Fer­gu­son, Mo., and New York.

The protests are worse this year fol­low­ing the death of George Floyd in Min­neapolis, and the anti-po­lice vi­o­lence is more wide­spread. An of­fi­cer was stabbed in the neck in Flat­bush in New York City in an am­bush in June. The of­fi­cer sur­vived.

De­mo­c­ra­tic mayor Eric Garcetti called the chants and protests at the hos­pi­tal “un­ac­cept­able” and “ab­hor­rent,” but he and other De­moc­rats need to do more to con­demn and os­tra­cize these pro­testers. De­moc­rats may fear the wrath of Black Lives Mat­ter, but the back­lash else­where in Amer­ica will be far greater if plea­sure at cop killing be­comes com­mon on the left.

Policing reform is impossible amid a war on police. Mr. Garcetti and other mayors should abandon their cuts to law-enforcement budgets and express regular solidarity for cops on the beat. Without such a signal, police will continue to retreat from enforcing the law in crime-ridden neighborhoods, and those who suffer most will be the law-abiding in the likes of Compton and Flatbush.

Rittenhouse morality

Brandon Morse:

Kyle Rittenhouse deserves the best defense money can buy. He shot three men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, not because he wanted to but because he had to. He is, for all intents and purposes, a standup citizen with aspirations of being a great public servant. I hope he still manages to become one after all of this.

That said, the Rittenhouse situation shouldn’t be a situation at all.

I’ve gone into detail about what Rittenhouse faced that night, so I’m going to skip the details and get down to the point.

(READ: Kyle Rittenhouse Was Right to Fire His Weapon)

The fact that Rittenhouse was there in the first place isn’t a good thing. Not necessarily on Rittenhouse’s part, though. He felt he needed to be there. Looking at the teenager’s history, he’s clearly a believer in public service and holds police and firefighters in high esteem. This isn’t a bad thing, but it answers the question on both sides about why Rittenhouse felt he should be in that Kenosha warzone.

Rittenhouse’s inner voice that tells him to act for the good of his fellow Americans was likely pretty loud in his ears and, combined with the impetuousness of youth, he set out to put himself into harm’s way for the people of Kenosha. Being the person he is, he even gave medical aid to the people who were there supporting the riots.

His ideological stances and opposition to the mob eventually lead to him killing two people and injuring a third. Despite the fact that this happened, it doesn’t make Rittenhouse the bad guy in the story. Yes, two people are dead, but that’s not Rittenhouse’s fault, it’s theirs.

Arguments against that very point have arisen. Some say that Rittenhouse shouldn’t have put himself in the position to have to kill someone in the first place. He showed up with a gun and began doing things that could only upset the rioters. In a way, Rittenhouse was inviting violent conflict even if he wasn’t actively seeking it out.

Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner put it like this:

This isn’t a new story. In my family, we have a word for it: a “Plaxident.” It’s in honor of former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who in 2008 shot himself in the leg. Burress was walking up a narrow, dark stairwell with a drink in his hand when he tripped and fell. His gun came sliding out of his belt, and he tried to grab it. Then, bam.

Yes, anyone could slip on a stairwell. Trying to grab the falling gun might or might not have been rational. But showing up at a night club with a gun in your belt was the real error. So the accidental discharge wasn’t an accident: It was a Plaxident. If your kid breaks a window explaining that his grip slipped on the fastball he was throwing, the relevant question isn’t how his grip slipped but why he was throwing a baseball inside.

Rittenhouse’s error had far graver consequences.

Catholic teaching includes a concept called the “near occasion of sin.” Sometimes, the biggest mistake we make is putting ourselves in a terrible position. And in Catholic teaching, that prudential mistake is a moral error — a sin.

It’s a solid point to consider, but not one I entirely agree with. Rittenhouse definitely put himself into a position where he would have been forced to kill people. He brought a gun to a riot and began attempting to limit the damage the riot was trying to cause. That the teenager had a hand in developing what happened that night is a fact that cannot be denied.

Where I tend to diverge with arguments like the one above is a moral question. Is it wrong to go to a place where evil is flourishing and stand between it and innocent people? Is it wrong to show up to a lawless place and inject order?

There are different schools of thought on this with all sorts of variables and nuances to consider to be sure, but what I want to focus on is Rittenhouse’s situation in particular. If the kid had gone there with the intent to shoot someone and took an active part in arranging for things to happen that would facilitate homicide then yes, I believe that would have been wrong.

But that’s not what happened. Rittenhouse clearly reacted to the situation with self-defense after going there to assist people, not play the part of vigilante. Vigilante actions would mean actively seeking out “justice” against those committing injustices. All evidence so far points to Rittenhouse being there to help defend locations and assist where he can.

The rioters, who were clearly there to do wrong in the first place, could have left Rittenhouse alone. It would have been wise of them to do so given the fact that he was armed. Yet, they didn’t. They attacked Rittenhouse who was then forced to defend himself. They didn’t have to, but they did. The risk of death was their choice, not Rittenhouse’s. Rittenhouse attempted to prevent their deaths by retreating every single time. He was trying to show them mercy as he was in the position of a death dealer but the rioters rejected that and came after him.

The teen fired his weapon out of necessity, not vengeance. It was the rioter’s decisions that lead to their deaths.

The teenager is not to blame for the deaths despite the fact that he was there any more than officers who are forced to shoot attackers are to blame. Yes, it’s true that Rittenhouse could have stayed home and none of this wouldn’t have happened, but it’s also true that his being there wasn’t a moral wrong and the events that led to the shooting weren’t the kid’s fault.

Being there as a defensive measure will definitely invite retaliation from those on the offensive, but again, the option to attack is not on the defenders, it’s on the attackers.

Were the Koreans on the rooftops during the LA riots wrong to be there? We largely agree that they were perfectly in their right and their threatening posture paid off. The Korean businesses were spared the destruction the rest of the city suffered.

Rittenhouse’s situation differs slightly but not enough to be considered wrong. He was there doing what Americans do and was doing so legally.

If you ask me, the real blame for Rittenhouse’s fateful night doesn’t rest on the kid and while the protesters have the blame to take, I wouldn’t put the lion’s share of it on them.

The riot shouldn’t have been going in the first place, and it wouldn’t have happened if the leaders in control of these cities and states would do what they’re supposed to do and protect the citizenry. They aren’t. They’re allowing this burning, pillaging, and murdering to happen.

If there wasn’t a riot, there wouldn’t be a Rittenhouse, but if you allow your streets to be terrorized and destroyed, a Rittenhouse is bound to arrive.

As for the victims of what the black humor portions of social media call the “Kenosha hat trick,” Wisconsin Right Now has evidence that you would want none of the three as neighbors.

 

On protestball

The latest act in this week’s Protestarama was National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball players’ deciding not to play games in protest of the police shooting in Kenosha earlier this week.

Jason Whitlock said this before this week, but one assumes he still believes what he said:

Nearly 30 years ago, in a 1993 Nike commercial, professional basketball legend Charles Barkley fired the first shot at the “role model” concept popularized by Columbia University sociologist Robert K. Merton in the aftermath of the 1960s counterculture movement. “I am not a role model,” Barkley proclaimed in the half-minute spot. “I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

Barkley’s words landed with a force every bit the equal of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem knee 23 years later. Former Vice President Dan Quayle defended Barkley, while Barkley’s fellow NBA superstar Karl Malone criticized him in Sports Illustrated. Leading news magazines, including Time and Newsweek, published articles exploring the controversy. Newspaper columnists from coast to coast—on and off the sports pages—also weighed in. The topic still sparks debate today.

Of the many phrases and concepts Merton coined—including “self-fulfilling prophecy” and “unintended consequences”—“role model” has had the most impact. On the surface, the argument that young people tend to model their behavior after high-profile, successful adults is harmless. However, in retrospect, the elevation of athletes and other celebrities as primary figures in the formation of behavioral norms for young people helped create the conditions that are powering the destructive Black Lives Matter movement today.

Merton’s role model concept undercuts the importance of parents and nuclear families. That was the point of Barkley’s criticism. Feminists and other progressive critics of America’s “patriarchal” society—including the Black Lives Matter movement, whose Marxist-influenced statement of purpose opposes “the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure”—have used Merton’s concept to great effect. Muhammad Ali, Pete Rose, Farrah Fawcett, Barbara Streisand, Mick Jagger, Marvin Gaye, and Burt Reynolds infringed on territory primarily reserved for mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and teachers.

Technology has helped advance the process, diminishing the influence of traditional authority figures and strengthening the reach of celebrities. Kids shut their bedroom doors, turn on their televisions, laptops, and game consoles, plug in earbuds, open social media apps, and disappear into a world far removed from mom and dad. With a mere push of a button they tune out the worldview of their families and tune in the worldview of athlete LeBron James, actress Lena Dunham, rapper Snoop Dogg, social media race-baiter Shaun King, and others like them.

On top of all this, we now see America’s enemies, particularly China, using these modern role models to promote racial division and destabilize our country—with those on the political Left as their accomplices. Today, they have coalesced around the Black Lives Matter movement to push America toward a level of racial dysfunction and animus not experienced since the Civil War.

It’s fitting that Charles Barkley fired the first shot against this trend, because American sports have become the Gettysburg of what some have called our “cold civil war.” And if China and the Left complete their radicalization of sports, our nation may never recover.

***

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.

Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter-turned-statesman, spoke those words in an effort to heal the country he came to lead after spending a quarter century incarcerated for opposing apartheid. Mandela embraced sports’ power to bridge racial divides, looking on athletic competition as a kind of antibiotic for racial animus and discrimination. South Africa’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and Mandela’s presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to team captain Francois Pienaar stand as an iconic symbol of unity in post-apartheid South Africa. Clint Eastwood directed a movie, Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, that memorialized the importance of the moment. It bears re-watching today.

Since sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and boxer Joe Louis scored a first-round knockout over German heavyweight Max Schmeling in 1938, sports have served as a powerful racial unifier in America as well. The victories earned by Owens and Louis punctured Hitler’s Aryan superiority myth, unified black and white Americans in celebration, and established Owens and Louis as this country’s first black national heroes.

Owens and Louis laid the foundation for Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey’s partnership with Jackie Robinson to integrate our national pastime, Major League Baseball, a decade later. Robinson’s successful integration of baseball, in turn, inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s.

Indeed, Barack Obama, America’s first black president—the world’s first black leader of a predominantly white country—credited Robinson’s career for his own political rise. “There’s a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here,” Obama said in January 2017, while hosting the world champion Chicago Cubs at the White House. He continued:

There’s a direct line between people loving Ernie Banks, and then the city being able to come together and work together in one spirit. . . . Sometimes it’s just a matter of us being able to escape and relax from the difficulties of our days, but sometimes it also speaks to something better in us. And when you see this group of folks of different shades and different backgrounds, and coming from different communities and neighborhoods all across the country, and then playing as one team and playing the right way, and celebrating each other and being joyous in that, that tells us a little something about what America is and what America can be.

Yes, America is a shining example of sports’ transformative power. The games we play, the games at the center of our social behavior, combine with our founding principles to enhance the American experience. America’s enemies know this, which is why the culture war has moved to our arenas and stadiums. Sports are now in the same crosshairs as our Founding Fathers, under attack for past racial sins and unappreciated for their vital role in cultivating racial unity. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but by writing the Declaration of Independence he made the emancipation of slaves inevitable. American sports were once segregated, but no American industry can match sports’ empowerment of black men.

The black-player-dominated National Football League is the most powerful force in American popular culture. It provides the number one television show on five different networks—CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. In this era of have-it-your-way TV, where consumers record and watch shows when they want while fast-forwarding through advertisements, only live sporting events can be consistently counted on to deliver audiences that sit through commercials.

But while American sports have never been more influential, they’ve also never been more vulnerable to foreign influence. Their partnership with global brands and their desire to build global audiences have given foreign countries a pathway to manipulate American sports and culture.

Look at how China, with its 1.4 billion consumers, rules the National Basketball Association and its de facto parent company, Nike, the same way it rules Hollywood. Access to China’s consumers and Asia’s cheap labor (even sometimes slave labor) is the key to Nike’s economic growth. The Portland-based shoe and apparel manufacturer generates $40 billion a year in revenue. Its global reach, agenda, and revenue streams dictate the strategy of the $8-billion-a-year NBA. Many are unaware that Nike, and not the NBA, controls basketball. One could make a fair argument that the NBA is nothing more than the in-house marketing department of Nike.

Both Nike and the NBA kowtow to China, which explains their silence on the horrific human rights abuses inside China and the suppression of Hong Kong freedom fighters by China’s communist government. More important, Nike and the NBA’s China agenda helps explain why Nike pitchmen LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick enthusiastically smear the United States as inherently racist and evil. From Joseph Stalin to Fidel Castro to our own time, the communists’ favorite propaganda tactic has been to paint the West, and the U.S. in particular, as racist.

The militant social justice messaging of James and Kaepernick serves the interests of not only the Chinese Communist Party and globalist corporations like Nike, but also our political Left. Kaepernick’s National Anthem defiance in 2016 gave the Left an opportunity to politicize football, America’s new national pastime, and force it into the kind of “progressive” posturing already commonplace in the NBA and Hollywood. Arrogance, lack of foresight, and the advice of an inner circle that included former Clinton administration press secretary Joe Lockhart as the NFL’s vice president of communications, explain commissioner Roger Goodell’s laissez-faire approach to Kaepernick’s protest. Underestimating the determination of the Left and the power of social media to intimidate corporate America, Goodell and the NFL’s TV partners wrongly thought that the Kaepernick controversy would fade over time.

Instead, four years after Kaepernick first knelt, the Leftist mob has forced the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association to take their own knees and pay homage to the dishonest Black Lives Matter narrative on police brutality. The NFL plans to paint social justice messages across its end zones this season and to allow players to wear helmet decals with the names of alleged police victims. The San Francisco 49ers fly a BLM flag next to an American flag at Levi’s Stadium. MLB opened its COVID-shortened season with “BLM” carved into pitcher’s mounds, and the Boston Red Sox put up a 254-foot BLM billboard outside Fenway Park. NHL players are now regularly kneeling during the National Anthem. The NBA’s basketball bubble at Disney World is a virtual shrine to BLM: “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court, players wear social justice messages on the back of their jerseys, and it’s major news when a player stands during the National Anthem.

The entire American sports world—a culture that traditionally celebrates victors, meritocracy, colorblindness, and patriotism—has suddenly immersed itself in black victimization and left-wing radicalism. This immersion threatens to do permanent damage to American culture as a whole. It has certainly undermined national pride. A country that no longer believes in its founding ideals cannot prosper and survive.

***

If our sports stadiums and arenas have become the Gettysburg of the culture war, Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick are playing the roles of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, fighting to divide the nation even further than it is. The mainstream media is only half right in casting them as modern-day equivalents of Muhammad Ali. Ali’s religious sect, the Nation of Islam, was certainly divisive: it championed black secession. But unlike the BLM movement, it also rejected victimhood. Its founder Elijah Muhammad and its spokesman Malcolm X promoted bootstrap self-reliance and were disdainful of liberal politics. “The worst enemy that the Negro [has],” said Malcolm X,

is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros and calling himself a liberal. It is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. If the Negro wasn’t taken, tricked or deceived by the white liberal, then Negros would get together and solve our own problems. I only cite these things to show you that in America, the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to solve our problems.

Pro-BLM athletes today have moved beyond the idea of a role model that was debated in 1993—the idea of modeling behavior to be imitated, such as self-reliance, hard work, responsibility, and good parenthood. Through the power of social media, to which they are addicted, these modern role models exert influence by promoting commercial products and political causes. In the case of NBA athletes like Lebron James, this means turning their backs not only on the oppressed people of China and Hong Kong, but also on the poor and underprivileged in America among whom so many of these wealthy athletes grew up, and who they now condemn to victimhood and dependency with their political activism.

Charles Barkley was right 30 years ago. Parents, not athletes, should be role models. Today the situation is even worse, with sports further dividing an already dangerously divided nation, rather than providing the unifying and even healing force Nelson Mandela described. Predictably, there are now calls to boycott sports, and it seems inevitable that the TV ratings of the pro sports leagues will decline. This is unlikely to matter, however, to the suddenly-woke billionaire team owners and their handpicked commissioners.

As fans, we can only hope and pray that these feckless leaders will reconsider their embrace of the BLM cult—a necessary first step to returning American sports to what it has been in the past: a force for unity and a model of a diverse and colorblind meritocracy.

What you’re voting for, and against

Rod Dreher:

Maybe you read my short jeremiad about “Cuties,” the upcoming Netflix series that sexualizes 11 year old girls. Well, this morning I had to go to the grocery store, and was listening in the car to a discussion on the NPR talk show1A, in which the guests were talking about the standout pop culture moments this summer. 

The host asked them about the mega-hit “WAP” by Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion. I wrote about it here last week. Here are some of the lyrics that I posted:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, you fu*kin’ with some wet-a*s pu*sy
Bring a bucket and a mop for this wet-a*s pu*sy
Give me everything you got for this wet-a*s pu*sy

Those are among the cleanest lyrics in the entire song. Here is a link to lyrics for the whole thing. 

If you don’t want to read them — and I don’t blame you — you should at least know that the two women who sing it talk about how they want to be forced to perform oral sex until they are gagging and choking. They portray themselves as whores (their word) who have sex for money. And

I’m a freak bitch, handcuffs, leashes … You can’t hurt my feelings, but I like pain.

There’s even dirtier stuff, but you get the picture.

This song debuted at No. 1. It was streamed a record 93 million times in the US in its first week of release, and the video was seen over 60 million times within 48 hours of its release. Cardi B., who once worked as a stripper, and has spoken of how back then, she would invite men to hotel rooms to drug and rob them, instagrammed about being so grateful that “I want to hug the LORD.”

OK, so that’s “WAP”. It is the cultural mainstream. If you haven’t heard of it, then that just shows how far out of the mainstream you are in 2020. How mainstream is Cardi B.? Elle magazine, which put her on the cover, had Cardi B. do a live Zoom interview with the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

Joe Biden told her that

One of the things that I admire about you is that you keep talking about what I call equity—decency, fairness, and treating people with respect.

Right. Nothing says “respect” like rapping about how you want a man to put his genitals in your mouth until you choke.

What a sick joke this culture is. I’ve said before that I believe Donald Trump is a morally repulsive man. But I don’t want to hear anyone talk about how Joe Biden is such a moral exemplar when he is willing to embrace someone who stands for the things that Cardi B. does. This is something I do not understand about the progressive elites. On NPR this morning, the guests on 1A (here, just past the 13:00 mark) were talking about “WAP” and the reaction to it. A writer for Billboard lauds “the sexual freedom of this song,” and laments the double standard that lets male rappers get away with sexually explicit songs without criticism. He adds that — “Cardi and Megan have huge young fan bases,” the writer said. He believes that the fact that women rappers have triumphed with such a sexually explicit song is therefore “really remarkable as a cultural shift.”

What he means in context — listen to it yourself to understand — is that Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion are teaching young girls that they can be just as raunchy as boys, with no apology.

On the show, the black writer Brooke Obiepraised the song as an example of “women singing about their own bodies and what they want.” It is “empowering,” said Obie. She added:

“People are upset because whenever a woman is actually owning her own sexuality, and not being objectified, there is a kind of conservatism that goes with this.”

Yeah, read the lyrics. There’s nothing that says “empowering” and “not being objectified” like that.

I know perfectly well that this is not the first time a rap song has had filthy lyrics. What is so remarkable to me is how completely mainstream this stuff is now, to the point where a presidential nominee wants to associate himself with a singer of this filth.

Just before our first child was born, back in 1999, my wife and I watched a PBS Frontline episode called “The Lost Children of Rockdale County.” It was about a syphilis outbreak in a high school in a prosperous Atlanta suburb. As the state (and Frontline) investigated, what emerged was a destructive culture of reckless, promiscuous sexuality — orgies with high schoolers, but including some middle schoolers — and parental neglect. Read the transcript here. Excerpt:

INTERVIEWER: Did any of the girls describe the sex as pleasurable?

Prof. CLAIRE STERK: Initially, they described the sex as pleasurable, and pleasurable in terms of it being physically pleasurable, but also psychologically, like, this was a initiation into the next step of their life. It was part of their development that was taking place. Over time, however, very few of the girls talked about the sex in terms of it being pleasurable at all. It became something that was painful, that in some cases they couldn’t even remember what they did anymore. So it became very negative.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever think they might have done it because they wanted to be accepted by the boys?

D.J.: I don’t think it was a real pressure issue. I mean, it might have been for them. Subliminally, it might have been. Subconsciously, it might have been. But it really- I mean, there really wasn’t any pressure to. It was more of- they just gave in, really.

INTERVIEWER: How did the guys in general treat the girls?

AMY: They were mean to them a lot. They treated them like they were just- I don’t know, not trash, but not very, like, respectable. And the girls seemed not to care. I don’t know why. I guess they just- I think most of it was the alcohol that they were buying because the guys always bought alcohol. They just- they knew that we would like it, and so- but they didn’t treat us like we were anything real important.

INTERVIEWER: You never got angry at them?

AMY: I did a few times. But I couldn’t really do anything about it because they just- they wouldn’t care. They’d just tell me to go home or something.
INTERVIEWER: Why didn’t you?
AMY: I don’t know. I don’t know. I just- I would be alone then.
There’s a part where some of these attractive normie high school girls — remember, this is a school where 85 percent of the graduates would go on to college — are telling the interviewer about their favorite music:
NARRATOR: Katy and her friends are freshmen at one of Rockdale’s three public high schools.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the typical age for girls to lose their virginity?
KATY, BRIDGET, CHRISTINE: Thirteen. Fourteen. Thirteen or fourteen.
BRIDGET: Fourteen.
INTERVIEWER: That’s typical?
GIRLS: Uh-huh.
INTERVIEWER: What kind of music do you guys like?
GIRLS: Rap.
INTERVIEWER: Like what?
GIRLS: Like, Master P. Tupac, definitely. Oh, I love Tupac.
INTERVIEWER: What do you like about rap?

GIRLS: The beat. The beat. And the words. And it’s just, like, loud. You can really get up and dance.

CHRISTINE: And the way that it’s, like- they can talk about something that’s, like, completely stupid, like drugs and stuff. [crosstalk] But it’s the way they put it, it sounds interesting.

INTERVIEWER: Give me an example.

CHRISTINE: I can’t think of a song.

GIRLS: [singing rap] Oh, take three witches and put ’em in a [unintelligible] I take clothes off you, and I’m blowing [unintelligible] mind. Take one more before I go [unintelligible] Seven bitches get f–ked at the same time. The [unintelligible] she can suck a ding-dong all day, all night, all evening long. Bitch has never done it. She says she never tried. [unintelligible] mother-fu–ing [unintelligible] if the bitch is a good trick. Anybody can talk to a bitch and get the bitch to f–k, but how many [unintelligible] talk to a bitch and get their d–k s–ked like me? A pimp that you never saw [unintelligible]

INTERVIEWER: That’s about group sex.

GIRLS: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: Is that something anybody does around here?

GIRLS: Uh-huh!

Please, I’m asking you, watch or read the transcript of “The Lost Children of Rockdale County”. This was 21 years ago, but it is also completely contemporary. After we watched it back in 1999, my very pregnant wife and I talked about how we would have to be a lot more vigilant about pop culture and our children than we thought. And we have tried to be. One of the great lies that parents tell themselves about pop culture is, “Oh, they thought Elvis was outrageous back in the day.” This is an argument from relativism that serves the interest of parents who honestly don’t want to be bothered patrolling the line to protect their kids. The filth of rap music was part of a wider toxic brew that those children of affluent people in suburban Atlanta stewed in. You watch that show, and it becomes crystal clear that these kids were abandoned by their parents and the adults in their lives.

Look, with reference to the lyrics in that passage above, people aren’t wrong to say that male rappers have been getting away with filth for a long time. But come on, is that really the argument worth having, the one about the double standard? I don’t want my sons to think that this is the way to treat women, or to think about sex and sexuality, or to regard their own manhood. Nor do I want my daughter to think this way, or to consider men who do to be suitable partners. Period. The observations that the NPR commenters were making today is typically trite, self-degradation-as-empowerment garbage that we hear from the left. Unsurprisingly, one of the female commenters went on to say how much she has been enjoying a cable show about strippers in Mississippi, and the empowering messages it has been sending about the dignity of sex work.

Who are these people — the ones who make these shows and who advocate for them in the media — and why do we let them into our lives?

Behold, here is Yale-educated Washington Post columnist Alyssa Rosenberg, explaining why “WAP” is “completely filthy, and we could use a lot more pop culture like it.” Excerpts:

To get the obvious out of the way, the lyrics for “WAP” and the music video for the track are among the filthiest things I’ve ever seen in mainstream American popular culture. But at a moment when movies, music and even some TV are increasingly younged-down, and when changes in the law and an unprecedented economic environment could accelerate the homogenization of entertainment, there’s something bracing about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s vulgarity. “WAP” is decidedly not for kids, nor for all adults.

And honestly, we could use more culture that isn’t appropriate for everyone.

She writes that

The mistake conservatives who attack raunchy or violent pop culture always make is to argue that culture should be smaller rather than more expansive.

And:

I sympathize with parents who feel exasperated or frightened by the way the Internet has torn down the walls that once separated “Dora the Explorer” from the enterprising strippers of Starz’s “P-Valley,” not to mention QAnon conspiracy theories, Islamic State execution videos and actual pornography. But the fact that modern parenthood is a constant race to keep parental control settings current and to stay ahead of the almighty algorithms isn’t an argument for making pop culture itself more tame and generic.

What odd criticism — as if the only reason, or the main reason, conservatives object to “WAP” is because kids are listening to it, or might listen to it.

Not that that’s a bad reason! As the late, left-wing media critic Neil Postman argued way back in 1994, in his great little book The Disappearance of Childhood, childhood as we know it ends when, thanks to technology (in his era’s case, cable television), children can have direct access to material that was once considered something that only adults had the maturity to handle.

The broader objection is that what was once considered smutty, or at least something not fit for the public square, is now completely mainstream. The fact that Joe Biden believes (probably correctly) that his campaign will benefit from being associated with the singer who has created one of “the filthiest things [a cheerleading Washington Post columnist has] ever seen in mainstream popular culture” is a remarkable sign of our decadence and decline.

You don’t have to listen to Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion, of course, but you do have to share a public square with tens of millions of people who do, and who have made their raunch mainstream entertainment. Look at that high school in Rockdale County for an idea of what becomes of a community that marinates itself in these ideas and concepts.

Back when The Benedict Option was new, I would hear arguments from some Evangelicals saying that they believed that their kids needed to stay in public school to be “salt and light” to unchurched kids. Leaving aside the fact that a lot of kids who go to Christian school are probably listening to Cardi B. too, I would still say: how are your kids going to be salt and light to a community that embraces the moral code of Cardi B.? Be honest with yourself. We are in late Rome. We are in Babylon. We are in Weimar. The people in positions of culture-making (the entertainment industry) and culture-moderating (the news media) are destroying us. Don’t be complicit. Don’t be their target. Refuse, resist, and rebel!

Tarzan of the Apes, whose ex is from Wisconsin

Michael Dirda of the Washington Post:

Back in 2012, the Library of America published special facsimile editions of two Edgar Rice Burroughs’s novels: “Tarzan of the Apes,” introduced by Thomas Mallon, and the nearly as famous planetary romance, “A Princess of Mars,” introduced by Junot Diaz. This year, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. has begun to issue a uniform authorized edition of the entire Tarzan series, each volume featuring action-filled cover art by Joe Jusko. The company has also continued the “Carson of Venus” saga with a newly commissioned exploit by Matt Betts titled “The Edge of All Possible Worlds.” While Burroughs (1875-1950) churned out every kind of pulp adventure, including several books set in the hollow-earth realm of Pellucidar and a fast-moving lost-world trilogy assembled as “The Land That Time Forgot,” the first Tarzan novels, in particular, show how deeply his mythic storytelling can captivate the imagination.

The books do this, moreover, despite Burroughs’s sometimes stilted language, period stereotypes (dotty professor, “humorous” Black maid, cartoon Russian anarchist) and myriad improbabilities in their plotting. Racial attitudes and beliefs are typical of the time yet more nuanced than you might expect: Tarzan judges people, regardless of their skin color or ethnicity, solely by their character. Courage, fortitude and compassion — these are the qualities that matter.

Burroughs opens “Tarzan of the Apes” (1914) with an irresistible hook: “I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.” The pages that follow describe how the infant son of the dead Lord and Lady Greystoke is reared by an anthropoid ape named Kala and learns to survive and flourish in the African jungle. One day, the grown Tarzan swings out of the trees to rescue a party of shipwrecked Westerners, thereby encountering Baltimorean Jane Porter and her suitor, the English aristocrat William Clayton, heir-apparent to the Greystoke title and estates. Many adventures follow but, with a daring that most writers would shrink from, Burroughs brings the novel to a climax in, of all places, Wisconsin.

There, Jane and Tarzan finally acknowledge their love for each other, even though Jane feels ­honor-bound to keep her promise to wed Clayton. Shortly after a tearful farewell, the brokenhearted ape-man learns that he is, in fact, the rightful Lord Greystoke. Just then, Clayton enters and cheekily asks, “How the devil did you ever get into that bally jungle?” The answer provides the novel’s throat-catching final lines:

“ ‘I was born there,’ said Tarzan, quietly. ‘My mother was an Ape, and of course she couldn’t tell me much about it. I never knew who my father was.’ ”

This act of renunciation drives home one of Burroughs’s main themes: That despite a brutish, not British, upbringing, Kala’s son possesses unassailable nobility and fineness of character. Note that this isn’t because of aristocratic blood, family background or race. Rather the novel presents Tarzan as Rousseau’s unspoiled child of nature, a literally noble savage free from the vices and corruption associated with advanced industrial society. However, the encounter with Jane Porter has seriously shaken his equanimity.

As “The Return of Tarzan” (1915) opens, the ape-man feels psychologically divided between the claims of “civilization” and the call of the wild. (This is a common literary theme of the era — think of Jack London’s sled dog Buck, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray.) What should a lord of the jungle do with his life?

First, Monsieur Jean C. Tarzan tries to adapt to Parisian high society — at least until a dastardly Russian named Nikolas Rokoff contrives to make it appear that Tarzan’s friendship with the Countess de Coude masks a full-fledged love affair. To save the lady’s honor, Tarzan again chooses self-sacrifice, resolving to die in a duel with her husband, the finest pistol shot in France. Miraculously, he survives and, for good measure, proves the countess’s innocence.

Next, the ape-man travels to Algeria to expose a traitor in the French Foreign Legion. By freeing a young Arab woman from slavery, he earns the undying gratitude of her father, a powerful desert sheikh. “All that is Kadour ben Saden’s is thine, my friend, even to his life.” Tarzan rapidly comes to admire the sheikh and his stern, dignified warriors, but resists the temptation to settle among them permanently.

After thwarting several murder attempts by Rokoff, our hero finally returns to his beloved African homeland. “Who would go back to the stifling, wicked cities of civilized man when the mighty reaches of the great jungle offered peace and liberty? Not he.” Before long Tarzan, by now a specialist in rescuing people from certain death, saves an African named Busuli, then joins his new friend’s people, the Waziri, among whom he finds contentment — for a while.

Even the most casual reader of “The Return of Tarzan” will notice its neatly orchestrated shifts, as its displaced protagonist “tries out” life among White Europeans, sunburnt Arabs and Black Waziri. But Tarzan’s journey of self-discovery isn’t over yet. While exploring the mysterious, half-ruined city of Opar, he is captured by its savage inhabitants, most of whom are virtually indistinguishable from H.G. Wells’s bestial Morlocks. Only Opar’s high priestess La preserves a fully human beauty and Tarzan the Irresistible naturally catches her eye.

Following a lucky escape from Opar, the weary-hearted lord of the jungle finally decides, in Walt Whitman’s phrase, to “turn and live with the animals. They are so placid and self-contained.” He rejoins the apes he grew up with and gradually begins to forget the heartache and complexity of being human. At which point Jane reappears – along with Clayton and Rokoff.

As this précis indicates, the Tarzan novels repeatedly extol glad animal spirits and natural instinct over western culture’s soul-deadening constraints and artificiality. This is a simplistic dichotomy, albeit useful for highly melodramatic storytelling. In his many, many adventures to come, the ape-man will sometimes appear as the urbane and proper Lord Greystoke, but whenever serious danger threatens, he will, in approved superhero fashion, quickly doff his bespoke suit and take to the trees as Tarzan the untamed, Tarzan the invincible.

I admit to not having read much of Tarzan; my exposure (that’s a pun that will become obvious in a bit) is from movies and TV:

Tarzan the TV series, reruns of which were on WGN-TV in Chicago before church (which means I may have never seen a complete episode), were brought to you by:

Recall I previously used the word “exposure.”

I had no idea of the Wisconsin connection, reported by the Wisconsin Historical Society:

“…she had been carried off her feet by the strength of the young giant when his great arms were about her in the distant African forest, and again today, in the Wisconsin woods…”

Who hasn’t seen the classic Tarzan movies? We all know that he was an orphaned English nobleman raised by jungle apes. But who knew that the original story ended in Wisconsin?

Tarzan of the Apes was published in New York in 1914. Near the end of the book, we learn that the heroine, Jane, had spent her earliest years on a farm in northern Wisconsin before venturing to Africa with her scientist father.

After Tarzan rescues her in the African jungle, Jane returns to America and receives marriage proposals from two suitors. In chapter 27 she goes to her childhood home in northern Wisconsin to ponder her dilemma.

While Jane is walking in the woods, a massive forest fire approaches. Just as she is about to be consumed by the flames, Tarzan miraculously appears, swinging limb to limb through Nicolet National Forest, to pluck her from the jaws of death.

It seems that he has spent the intervening months learning English and acquiring civilized habits. Obsessed by his love, Tarzan followed Jane across the Atlantic and tracked her to the Badger State. After saving her life, he learns that she has agreed to marry another, so he bows out to guarantee her happiness.

Author Edgar Rice Burroughs apparently never explained why he chose to set the novel’s climax in Wisconsin.

I found all this quite interesting even as a non-reader. The Weissmuller movies didn’t discard Jane as the books did. Jane was not part of the ’60s movies (that I remember) or the TV series; it took John Derek to bring back Jane in order to film his wife. The reviewer’s analysis would have gone right over the head of a young reader, though perhaps those themes would have stuck in their heads. Young readers probably need “unassailable nobility and fineness of character” in what they read today.

 

A story based on a lie

Christopher Bedford:

“We called 911 for almost everything except snitching” reads the first line of an Atlantic article, “How I Became a Police Abolitionist,” by social justice activist and lawyer Derecka Purnell. Her deeply personal essay, first published July 6 in the Ideas section, tells of her childhood in a polluted neighborhood surrounded by violence and beset by fear, using one particularly disturbing memory of a police officer shooting their cousin, just a “boy,” in the arm for skipping the basketball sign-in sheet in front of Purnell and her sister, who had been playing basketball but were forced to hide “in the locker room for hours afterward.”

“When people dismiss abolitionists for not caring about victims or safety,” she writes, “they tend to forget that we are those victims, those survivors of violence.”

“This story means everything to me,” Purnell wrote on Facebook later that day. “I cried a lot while writing it.”

An investigation by The Federalist encompassing newspaper archives, police department records, questions to The Atlantic, the police union, and the office of the mayor, however, called the story — including facts about the neighborhood, the timeline of the incident, and if the incident described even happened at all — into question.

Four days, six comment requests, and one follow-up story later, The Atlantic issued a series of major corrections that confirmed The Federalist’s investigation — and gutted the Purnell’s story of the police violence that made her “a police abolitionist,” rendering it a story about a private security guard shooting his adult cousin. Although the updated story no longer involves personally motivated and barely punished police violence against children, it now includes mention of a police investigation. Additionally, a contemporary news article uncovered by The Federalist using the updated timeline details pending police charges against the shooter.

Someone in the neighborhood, it appears, called 911.

A Very Different Story

“The first shooting I witnessed was by a cop,” the story read from 7 a.m. on July 6 until 1:37 p.m. on July 20. It detailed a police officer shooting a “boy” on city property in front of children over a personal feud, then seemingly suffering only a short suspension from duty at that rec center:

I was 12. He was angry that his cousin skipped a sign-in sheet at my neighborhood recreation center. I was teaching my sister how to shoot free throws when the officer stormed in alongside the court, drew his weapon, and shot the boy in the arm. My sister and I hid in the locker room for hours afterward. The officer was back at work the following week.

If her prescribed abolition of police departments were followed sooner, she wrote, “I wouldn’t have hid in the locker room for hours because of a police shooting, and maybe my sister would have a better jump shot.”

The article was widely shared among top journalists and activists, including an Atlantic editor, whose praise remained online Monday night.

On Monday afternoon, The Atlantic updated the above paragraphs (material changes bolded) to read:

The first shooting I witnessed was by a uniformed security guardI was 13. I remember that the guard was angry that his cousin skipped a sign-in sheet at my neighborhood recreation center; the victim told police it had started as an argument over ‘something stupid.’ I was teaching my sister how to shoot free throws when the guard stormed in alongside the court, drew his weapon, and shot the boy in the arm. My sister and I hid in the locker room for hours afterward. The guard was back at work the following week.

“An earlier version of this article described the shooter as ‘a cop,’” the more-material of the two Monday corrections reads. “In fact, he was an armed, uniformed security guard working at the municipal recreation center, employed by a security company under contract with the city of St. Louis. In addition, the author was 13, not 12, at the time of the incident.”

The Atlantic still refuses to share any corroborating evidence or if they did a fact-check on the original story before publication, although a search of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s archives encompassing the now-broadened timeline reveals an early-2004 shooting at Buder Recreation Center, less than three blocks from Purnell’s old address.

That article, published March 9, 2004, is titled “Security Guard Is Charged With Assault,” and reports that, “The security guard, 23, and his cousin, 18, were quarreling at the center about 4:50 p.m. [March 8] when the shooting occurred, according to Richard Wilkes, a Police Department spokesman. The victim was shot in the arm.”

“Wilkes,” the 2004 article concludes, “said there were no other injuries and no children were involved in the incident.”

When asked if The Atlantic spoke to the victim, spoke to the guard, or acquired a police report, Anna Bross, a vice president of communications at the magazine, replied, “To start, you can find coverage of the incident in local newspapers in 2004.”

The article’s title and call for police abolition remain unchanged, although the story justifying her activism is no longer about (1) a police officer shooting (2) a child (3) without serious consequences, and is about now (1) a private security guard shooting (2) an adult (3) and being charged with assault. The magazine decided police bringing charges within one day, however, was not worth mentioning — and the 18-year-old victim is still simply described as just a “boy.”

“I’ve reshared this essay with corrections about the shooting I witnessed,” Purnell tweeted more than five hours after the correction went live. “I was not 12. I was 13. The shooter was a uniformed private guard with a badge and gun. When we say abolish the police, that includes private police, too. thank you for reading <3.”

Purnell has led a prolific career, including writing for The New York Times and a stint at the helm of The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy.

Monday afternoon Sunshine Law requests to the St. Louis Police Department and city hall on police responses to the Buder Recreation Center in March 2004, and on park employees or contractors facing discipline, had not yet been returned, although the police quickly replied that they would send records over. Missouri law gives government three days to respond to requests, and in every request the previous week, the city beat that timeline.

While still declining to say if the article was fact-checked before it was posted on July 6, and if so by who, Bross emailed that she “will keep an eye out for the significant corrections or updates to your piece(s),” referencing The Federalist investigation that fact-checked the article for them.

Them don wanna be learned good

George Mason University Prof. David Bernstein:

Via College Fix, the Rutgers English Department purports to challenge “the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage.” So far so good. Helping students who struggle with standard English is exactly what an English Department that wants to helps disadvantaged students should do.

Instead, though, Rutgers goes even woker. Rather than merely deemphasizing standard grammar, the English Department declares that standard grammar is “biased,” and endorses “critical grammar,” which “encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them w/ regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents.”

In short, the Rutgers English Department wants to make sure that students who come to Rutgers with a poor grasp of standard written English not only remain in that state, but come to believe that learning standard English is a concession to racism. I remember when keeping “people of color” ignorant was considered part of white supremacy.

(Insert backup alarm sound here)

One week ago I wrote about the ridiculous new National Museum of African American Culture exhibit that claims that these attributes demonstrate “whiteness.”

Chacour Koop follows up:

A Smithsonian museum apologized for a chart listing hard work and rational thought as traits of white culture.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture said in a statement Friday that it was wrong to include the graphic in an online portal about race and racism in America.

“It is important for us as a country to talk about race. We thank those who shared concerns about our ‘Talking About Race” online portal. We need these types of frank and respectful interchanges as we as a country grapple with how we talk about race and its impact on our lives,” the statement said. “We erred in including the chart. We have removed it, and we apologize.”

The educational resource released by the Washington D.C. museum is intended to serve as a guideline for discussing race.

It includes a section about “whiteness.”

A chart included in the section titled “Aspects and Assumptions of Whiteness in the United States” included the culture traits, which included “hard work is the key to success” and “objective, rational linear thinking,” Newsweek reported.

“White dominant culture, or whiteness, refers to the ways white people and their traditions, attitudes, and ways of life have been normalized over time and are now considered standard practices in the United States,” the graphic says. “And since white people still hold most of the institutional power in America, we have all internalized some aspects of white culture — including people of color.”

According to the chart, those aspects included self-reliance, a nuclear family where the husband is the “breadwinner” and the wife is a “homemaker,” “no tolerance for deviation from single god concept,” respecting authority, planning for the future and “bland is best” in aesthetics.

The museum says it is reviewing policies to ensure quality of digital materials.

“Education is core to our mission,” the statement said. “We thank you for helping us to be better.”

The museum’s apology comes at a time when people across the United States are calling for better race relations in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody on Memorial Day. His death has sparked protests nationwide that led to the removal of statues tied to slavery and racial stereotypes in the business and sports worlds.

None of which have actually improved race relations. It also seems doubtful that “talk about race” is going to improve race relations given that that “talk” (based on personal observation) has devolved into a set of demands by Black Lives Matter supporters, one of which is that non-whites talk and whites only listen. Dialogue is not one-way.

 

And now the party on the left is now the party on the right

Matt Taibbi channels (misheard lyrics of) The Who:

In August, 2005, Rolling Stone sent me to cover a freak show. In a small Pennsylvania town called Dover, residents contrived to insert a sentence about teaching “intelligent design” into the curriculum, and fought for its right to do so in an extravagantly-covered trial in the “big city” capital of Harrisburg.

Dover’s school board president, Alan Bonsell, was a fundamentalist who believed God shaped man from dust. It was said Bonsell would stand at his window at night, wondering, as he gazed at the stars, at the intervening hand of God. “If you can’t see that, you’re just not thinking clearly,” he said. His wife supposedly told him he looked like Chuck Norris.

The bureaucratic atmosphere Bonsell presided over was not kind to the eggheads trying to teach. When the head of the district’s science department, Bertha Spahr, begged the board not to promote “intelligent design,” listing past Supreme Court decisions about religion in classrooms, another fundamentalist board member named Bill Buckingham – an ex-cop who wore a lapel pin in the shape of both a Christian cross and an American flag – shouted her down. “Where did you get your law degree?” he snapped. Author Laurie Lebo in the book The Devil in Dover described what happened next:

Neither Nilsen nor Bonsell spoke up to address Buckingham’s rudeness to the thirty-year veteran teacher. Spahr pulled back, shocked, and then sat down without saying a word.

It was after this meeting in October, 2004 that a passage about teaching “gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory” was inserted into the curriculum. The science geeks fought back, however, and roughly a year later I sat in a packed courtroom with overeducated reporters from all over the world who came to gape at the spectacle of rural ignorance showing its rump in an American courtroom.

When a Christian attorney named Robert J. Muise tried to cross-examine the smooth-talking Superstars of Science who’d flown in from places like Brown and Harvard to denounce “intelligent design,” journos murdered their thesauruses looking for new words for “hayseed.” The chuckling press section felt like front row of a comedy club.

Dover’s failed school board rebellion inspired multiple books, law review articles, and films, including a Nova doc that won a Peabody award. For decades, whether in Arkansas or Texas or Louisiana, every time even a small group of fundamentalists tried bullying teachers via this stacking-the-school-bureaucracy trick, northern press heathens would descend in mammoth numbers. Especially in 2005, which felt like the dawn of a new thousand-year reign of Bushian conservatism, liberal audiences jumped at any opportunity to re-create the magic of one of their foundational knowledge-over-superstition parables, the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Fifteen years later, America is a thousand Dovers, and the press response is silence. This time it’s not a few Podunk school boards under assault by junk science and crackpot theologies, but Princeton University, the New York Times, the Smithsonian, and a hundred other institutions.

When the absurdity factor rocketed past Dover levels this week, the nation’s leading press organs barely commented, much less laughed. Doing so would have meant opening the floodgates on a story most everyone in media sees but no one is allowed to comment upon: that the political right and left in America have traded villainous cultural pathologies. Things we once despised about the right have been amplified a thousand-fold on the flip.

Conservatives once tried to legislate what went on in your bedroom; now it’s the left that obsesses over sexual codicils, not just for the bedroom but everywhere. Right-wingers from time to time made headlines campaigning against everything from The Last Temptation of Christ to “Fuck the Police,” though we laughed at the idea that Ice Cube made cops literally unsafe, and it was understood an artist had to do something fairly ambitious, like piss on a crucifix in public, to get conservative protesters off their couches.

Today Matt Yglesias signing a group letter with Noam Chomsky is considered threatening. Moreover a lot less than booking a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibitcan get you in the soup – a headline, a retweet, even likes are costing people jobs. Imagine how many movies Milos Forman would have had to make if Jerry Falwell had been able to get people fired this easily.

This is separate from the Democratic Party “moving right,” or in the case of issues like war, financial deregulation, and surveillance, having always been in lockstep with the right. This is about a change in the personality profile of the party’s most animated, engaged followers.

Many who marched against Dick Cheney’s spy state in the early 2000s lost interest once Donald Trump became a target, then became full converts to the possibilities of centralized speech control after Russiagate, Charlottesville, and the de-platforming of Alex Jones, with even the ACLU wobbling. (Some of the only left media figures to be consistent on this issue work at the World Socialist Web Site, which has gone after woke icons like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Internet censorship). Support for the “radical transparency” concept that made Wikileaks famous receded in favor of a referendum on the political and sexual iniquity of Julian Assange: many activists today are more concerned with who than what and find nuance, contradiction, and double-meaning repulsive. Bad person = bad idea!

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it was the exact profile of Bush-era conservatives, who were so famously impervious to irony that corporate America could not develop for them one functioning comedy concept. Just five years ago, the Atlantic ran one of many investigations into the issue, quoting University of Delaware professor Dannagal Young:

Stephen Colbert, for example, may say that he’s looking forward to the sunny weather that global warming will bring, and the audience members know this isn’t what he really means. But they have to wonder: Is he making fun of the kind of conservative who would say something so egregious? Or is he making fun of arrogant liberals who think that conservatives hold such extreme views?

As Young noticed, this is a kind of ambiguity that liberals tend to find more satisfying and culturally familiar than conservatives do… In contrast, conservative talk radio humor tends to rely less on irony than straightforward indignation and hyperbole.

The old Republican right’s idea of “humor” was its usual diatribes against Bad People, only with puns thrown in (are you ready for “OxyClinton”?). As a result the Fox effort at countering the Daily Show, the 1/2 Hour News Hour — a string of agonizing “burns” on Bush-haters and Hillary — remains the worst-rated show in the history of television, according to Metacritic. The irony gap eventually spelled doom for that group of Republicans, as Trump drove a truck through it in 2016. However, it’s possible they just weren’t as committed to the concept as current counterparts.

Take the Smithsonian story. The museum became the latest institution to attempt to combat racism by pledging itself to “antiracism,” a quack sub-theology that in a self-clowning trick straight out of Catch-22 seeks to raise awareness about ignorant race stereotypes by reviving and amplifying them.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture created a graphic on “Aspects and Assumptions of White Culture” that declared the following white values: “the scientific method,” “rational, linear thinking,” “the nuclear family,” “children should have their own rooms,” “hard work is the key to success,” “be polite,” “written tradition,” and “self-reliance.” White food is “steak and potatoes; bland is best,” and in white justice, “intent counts.”

The astute observer will notice this graphic could equally have been written by white supremacist Richard Spencer or History of White People parodist Martin Mull. It seems impossible that no one at one of the country’s leading educational institutions noticed this messaging is ludicrously racist, not just to white people but to everyone (what is any person of color supposed to think when he or she reads that self-reliance, politeness, and “linear thinking” are white values?).

The exhibit was inspired by white corporate consultants with Education degrees like Judith Katz and White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo, who themselves echo the work of more consultants with Ed degrees like Glenn Singleton of Courageous Conversations. Per the New York Times, Courageous Conversations even teaches that “written communication over other forms” and “mechanical time” (i.e. clock time) are tools by which “whiteness undercuts Black kids.”

The notion that such bugbears as as time, data, and the written word are racist has caught fire across the United States in the last few weeks, igniting calls for an end to virtually every form of quantitative evaluation in hiring and admissions, including many that were designed specifically to combat racism. Few tears will be shed for the SAT and ACT exams, even though they were once infamous for causing Harvard to be overpopulated with high-scoring “undesirables” like Jews and Catholics, forcing the school to add letters of reference and personal essays to help restore the WASP balance.

The outcry against the tests as “longstanding forces of institutional racism” by the National Association of Basketball Coaches is particularly hilarious, given that the real problem most of those coaches are combating is the minimal fake academic entry requirement imposed by the NCAA to help maintain a crooked billion-dollar business scheme based on free (and largely Black) labor. But let’s stipulate, as Neon Bodeaux put it, that “them tests are culturally biased.” What to make of the campaign to end blind auditions for musical positions, which the New York Philharmonic began holding in the early seventies in response to complaints of discrimination?

Before blind auditions, women made up less than 6 percent of orchestras; today they’re half of the New York Philharmonic. But because the change did not achieve similar results with Black and Hispanic musicians, the blind audition must now be “altered to take into fuller account artists’ backgrounds and experiences.” This completes a decades-long circle where the left/liberal project went from working feverishly to expunge racial stereotypes in an effort to level the playing field, to denouncing itself for ever having done so.

This would be less absurd if the effort were not being led in an extraordinary number of cases by extravagantly-paid white consultants like DiAngelo and Howard Ross, a “social justice advocate” whose company billed the federal government $5 million since 2006 to teach basically the same course on “whiteness” to agencies like NASA, the Treasury, the FDIC, and others.

It’s unsurprising that in the mouths of such people, the definitions of “whiteness” sound suspiciously like lazy suburban white stereotypes about Black America, only in reverse. They read like a peer-reviewed version of Bill de Blasio’s infamous joke about “CP Time.”

It’s perfect cultural satire, like a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode showing what ensues when Larry David is put in charge of creating a racial sensitivity exhibit for charity. The Smithsonian story is essentially the same tale of bubble-thinking run amok as the infamous “Museum of Creation” exhibit showing Adam and Eve partying with dinosaurs, only featuring opposite politics.

Those creation exhibits inspired multiple loving treatments from some of our best press humorists. In a predictable pattern, however, major media mostly did not go near the Smithsonian story until it became the focus of attention from chortling conservatives. Only at that point did headlines like the following appear in the Washington Post:

African-American Museum site removes ‘Whiteness’ chart after criticism from Trump Jr. and conservative media

Once, the right couldn’t see or comment upon its own absurdities, and instead spent most of its time whining about being frozen out of the media at the exact moment its messaging was becoming hegemonic, e.g. when we weren’t even able to watch a football game without someone trying to shove Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller onscreen. Now the left has adopted the same traits (the NBA restart played on a “Black Lives Matter”-emblazonedcourt is going to make those old Monday Night Football broadcasts seem chill), with a major difference: it has the bureaucratic juice to shut down mass media efforts to ridicule its thinking. These are the same pontificating, stereotyping busybodies Republicans used to be, only this time, they’re winning the culture war.

“Diversity through segregation” sounds like another idea clipped from poor over-invoked George Orwell, but it surged in recent weeks as the Smithsonian-style conception of “antiracism” caught fire.

In the media context, diversity consultants recently invited Intercept employees to a “Safe Space Conversation” that would feature “two breakout groups – one for those who identify as people of color and one for those who identify as white.”

The same strategy is used in DiAngelo’s version of antiracist training. A theater employee forced to go through her program described the shock of being separated into “affinity groups” in this episode of the Blocked and Reported podcast. If you’re wondering what employees who “identify as white” can learn from being put in a room without minority co-workers and urged to “express themselves sincerely and honestly,” you’re not alone. Is “learning to speak in the absence of Black people” a muscle any sane person believes needs development?

At Princeton, the situation was even more bizarre. On July 4th, hundreds of faculty members and staff at Princeton University signed a group lettercalling for radical changes.

Some demands seem reasonable, like requests to remedy University-wide underrepresentation among faculty members of color. Much of the rest of the letter read like someone drunk-tweeting their way through a Critical Theory seminar. Signatories asked the University to establish differing compensation levels according to race, demanding “course relief,” “summer salary,” “one additional semester of sabbatical,” and “additional human resources” for “faculty of color,” a term left undefined. That this would be grossly illegal didn’t seem to bother the 300-plus signatories of one of America’s most prestigious learning institutions.

The Princeton letter didn’t make much news until a Classics professor named Joshua Katz wrote a public “Declaration of Independence” from the letter. Playing the same role as the Dover science teacher who feebly warned that teaching Intelligent Design would put the district at odds with a long list of Supreme Court decisions, Katz said it boggled his mind that anyone could ask for compensation “perks” based on race, especially for “extraordinarily privileged people already, let me point out: Princeton professors.”

Katz also complained about the letter’s support for a group called the Black Justice League, which he described as a “local terrorist organization” that had recently engaged in an Instagram Live version of a kind of struggle session involving two students accused of an ancient racist conversation. Katz called it “one of the most evil things I have ever witnessed.” The video appears to have been deleted, though I spoke with another Princeton faculty member who described seeing the same event in roughly the same terms.

In response, University President Christopher Eisengruber “personally” denounced Katz for using the word “terrorist.” Katz was also denounced by his Classics department, which in a statement on the department web pageinsisted his act had “heedlessly put our Black colleagues, students, and alums at serious risk,” while hastening to add “we gratefully acknowledge all the forms of anti-racist work that members of our community have done.”

That statement was only signed by four people, though there are twenty faculty members in the Classics department, but the signees all had titles: department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, Director of Undergraduate Studies, head of the Diversity and Equity Committee. The pattern of administrative leaders not only not rejecting but adopting the preposterous infantilizing language of new activism – I am physically threatened by your mild disagreement – held once again. Not one institutional leader in America, it seems, has summoned the courage to laugh in this argument’s face.

The saving grace of the right used to be that it was too stupid to rule. Politically defeated liberals secretly believed that in a moment of crisis, the country would have to be turned over to people who didn’t think hurricanes were punishment for gay sex and weren’t frightened to enter a room with a topless statue. In an effort to console such readers, reporters like me were sent to mock every Dover-style cultural stooge-fest and assigned strings of features about dunces like Michelle Bachmann, who believed energy-saving light bulbs were a “very real threat to children, disabled people, pets, senior citizens.”

The right still has more than its share of wing-nuts, the president being the most famous, and we’re allowed to laugh about them (in fact, it’s practically mandatory). Unfortunately, a growing quantity of opposite-number lunacies – from a chess site temporarily shut down by YouTube because of its “white against black” rhetoric, to an art gallery director forced to resign for saying he would still “collect white artists” – is mostly off-limits. If we can’t laugh at time is a white supremacist construct, what can we laugh at?

Republicans were once despised because they were anti-intellectuals and hopeless neurotics. Trained to disbelieve in peaceful coexistence with the liberal enemy, the average Rush Limbaugh fan couldn’t make it through a dinner without interrogating you about your political inclinations.

If you tried to laugh it off, that didn’t work; if you tried to engage, what came back was a list of talking points. When all else failed and you offered what you thought would be an olive branch of blunt truth, i.e. “Honestly, I just don’t give that much of a shit,” that was the worst insult of all, because they thought you were being condescending. (You were, but that’s beside the point). The defining quality of this personality was the inability to let things go. Families broke apart over these situations. It was a serious and tragic thing.

Now that same inconsolable paranoiac comes at you with left politics, and isn’t content with ruining the odd holiday dinner, blind date, or shared cab. He or she does this infuriating interrogating at the office, in school, and in government agencies, in places where you can’t fake a headache and quietly leave the table.

This is all taking place at a time when the only organized opposition to such thinking also supports federal troops rounding up protesters for open-ended detention, going maskless to own the libs, and other equivalent madnesses. If you’re not a Trump fan and can’t reason with the other thing either, what’s left?

Ambrose Bierce once wrote there were “two instruments worse than a clarinet — two clarinets.” What would he say about authoritarian movements?

 

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