Category Archive 'Culture Wars'
06 Apr 2013
Nicholas Poussin, The Victory of Joshua Over the Amalekites, 1624-1625, Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Eratosthenes notices that the culture wars are being waged relentlessly and with unlimited persistence, by one side which is absolutely and unequivocally determined to win everything it wants every time and which, whenever it wins, will then proceed to move the goal posts even further.
Somehow, somewhere, it has been decided that this one culture should reign supreme. It must ALWAYS win; there can be no exceptions. What do we call this culture, now. We should try to define it, if it always has to win! That’s a lot of influence. We know it by the offenses it takes. Bullying, homophobic remarks, guns. It isn’t “politically correct,” for the politically-correct culture, while also defined according to the offenses it takes, is confined to offenses taken against verbal or written statements. Guns aren’t statements. Ass-kickings are not statements either, although I suppose that may be debatable. But this is not political-correctness, and it isn’t “women over men” since it takes just as vicious umbrage against a woman brandishing a firearm in self-defense, as against any man doing likewise.
It isn’t modern liberalism, either. It doesn’t have an opinion about labor-versus-management, or minimum wage, or affirmative action, or school vouchers. It holds a lot of appeal for people who do not self-identify as liberals. And its field of interest is very narrow. I can summarize it with a phrasing almost bumper-sticker-sized:
“When we make everything safe enough, nothing bad will happen, to anyone, ever again.”
Just outside a school on a 55 mph county highway, it isn’t good enough to take the limit down to 25. My recent experiences here in upstate New York show it has to be 15. I guess twenty-five wouldn’t show how much we care. This culture cares about children arriving at adulthood with all their limbs and with their hearts still beating, but with not too much else.
Can we call it “the nanny state” and be done with it? There is certainly some overlap. The Mayor of New York City trying to ban soda sales fits into the object of my inspection here, and it is certainly part of the nanny state. Pondering it some more, though, I find this doesn’t quite work. There are differences, and the differences matter. The nanny state is an organization, and it is a sale. It is narcissists in office who have power, trying to accumulate some more. ...
This culture — which always must win — is endangering our very society… As the nanny-state seeks to everlastingly grow by way of creating more and more rules, this culture seeks to everlastingly grow by altering the definition of “bad things happening.” It has progressed so far now, without anyone consciously noticing it evidently, that bad-feeling evidently qualifies. If nothing bad really happens, but someone feels slighted, then action is required. This, of course, has to be a selective thing. It’s okay to make a guy “feel bad” when he approaches the State Fair with a Leatherman on his belt, by commanding him to walk a mile and a half back to his car, and back again, to stow the threatening-looking device. And a twelve-year-old girl who wins a pistol shooting contest might feel good with a little bit of extra applause, but this feel-good-all-the-time culture will refrain from that, and command everyone else to refrain as well.
The Leatherman is not dangerous and the pistol is not dangerous. In some situations, they both have the potential to make someone safe.
So this culture is not concerned with safety or danger. It has definite ideas about individuals and what, or how, the individuals should be.
He’s perfectly right. It goes way beyond politics. It is a religious crusade and “the side which must always win” is determined to forcibly convert everyone else to its own entire worldview, values, and perspective.
Read the whole thing.
18 Mar 2013
The headlines were filled recently with gleeful liberal accounts of spaghetti-spined members of the GOP, Charles Murray and Rob Portman, advocating surrender to the left on culture issues like Same Sex Marriage.
What we are obviously seeing is the herd mentality of the community of fashion in operation.
The Left controls most engines of opinion-formation in this country. First, revolutionary proposals originate in the left’s radical fringe, then little by little, they are “bravely” embraced by one pillar of the establishment after another. When it becomes apparent that the looney tunes running American education have successfully brainwashed the lumpenstudenten mob of impressionable, emotionally volatile, and fashion-conscious young, what we experience next is the unbecoming spectacle of older non-rugged-individualists scurrying to catch up with the departing bus of fashionable opinion which they perceive as about to motor through the endpoint of success, leaving behind History’s losers.
The truth of the matter is that you do not win culture war contests with the revolutionary Left by surrendering on point after point as soon as the Left appears to be gaining the upper hand. Even when they are going to win this particular battle today, it behooves Republicans and conservatives to recognize that revolutionary victories do not necessarily last forever. People living in France are not counting how many days of Ventôse remain before the arrival of Germinal.
Absurd leftist overreach may temporarily gain ascendancy and make entire societies dance to its tune, but the worst and the silliest of the Left’s ideas will always be doomed to fall in the end of their own weight of stupidity and falsehood.
In the meantime, we ought not to be like the French Army, offering the future surplus sale of MAS rifles described as “never fired, and only dropped once.” We ought to face the Left on every culture wars issue the way the doomed Spartans faced the Persians at Thermopylae. We should not cut and run, like Godric at the Battle of Maldon, but should, like Brythold, resist every time on every point to the bitter end.
“Hige sceal þe heardra,
heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare,
þe ure mægen lytlað.
“Mind must be the harder,
heart the keener
Spirit shall be greater – as our strength lessens.”
Young people grow up. The Left’s domination of the Dummer Junger student and recent graduate crowd does not in most cases last forever.
Molly Hemingway, at Ricochet, pointed out just how worthwhile Rob Portman’s analysis really is.
Leaving apart the question of whether marriage law should be changed, this strikes me as a problematic approach. I mean, marriage law should be changed or it shouldn’t be changed—but it shouldn’t hinge on the sexual attractions of one senator’s son, should it?
What if a conservative senator said, “I’m reversing my views on whether abortion should be legal because my daughter got pregnant and wished she weren’t.”
One of the fascinating things about society today is that personal experience trumps everything else in argumentation. Very few people seem to care about fundamental truths and principles while everyone seems to care about personal experience and emotion. It’s the Oprahfication of political philosophy.
Should a conservative determine good policy this way?
25 Feb 2013
Tom Tomorrow, Summer 1993
Jim Geraghty, in his emailed Morning Jolt, was today in a mood to fight back against the community of fashion’s blame game.
One of my nuttier ideas was taking a Twitter conversation between Cam Edwards and Kurt Schlicter envisioning a rightward sitcom answer to HBO’s “Girls” entitled “Dudes” and trying to turn it into an actual script.
At one point, I had a character in that script rant:
I’m a married middle-aged guy with a house in the suburbs who goes to work, pays his taxes and takes care of his kids. When the hell did I turn into the villain in society? Chris Brown still walks the streets! In the time it’s taken me to finish this sentence, “Shawty Lo” has impregnated three more women and Kim Kardashian’s been on four more magazine covers! I think one of ‘em’s a fishing magazine!
Yet somehow Madison Avenue considers me to be their go-to stereotype as a doofus, I’m the butt of every joke, sneered at for unsophisticated tastes, dismissed as a relic of a fading past, accused of not paying my fair share in taxes and insufficiently globally conscious because I’m only taking care of what’s directly in front of me instead of glaciers or the Gaza Strip. How am I the problem in the world today? What the hell did I ever do?
I remember a comment from Mark Steyn a few NR cruises ago, and I’m going to paraphrase it now: “Americans are first citizens of a global superpower with no interest in conquest. We don’t want other territory, we don’t seek to subjugate other nations, we’re not trying to wipe out any culture we deem inferior. And yet through the rhetoric and of the environmental movement, you, driving your SUV and drinking your Big Gulp and eating your Big Mac, are accused of literally destroying the planet! Not even history’s most brutal dictators faced an accusation on that scale!”
Our political culture and our popular culture are the one-two punch contending that you, ordinary American, going to work or looking for work or looking for better work and just taking care of your families, have somehow become the root of the biggest problems facing the country. It’s your fault.
03 Feb 2013
The latest Dan Greenfield rant is out.
The latest wave of laws on abortion and gay marriage are meant to make it impossible to hold beliefs, religious or otherwise, in contradiction to those of the state. That’s a somewhat new phenomenon in the United States, but a familiar one in Europe. And the consequence of these Orwellian measures is the stratification of these societies into three categories.
The Party – This is the group whose dogma is legislated into law in a thousand formal and informal ways. Its members may belong to the government or non-profits that act as a collective political movement pushing to enact and implement even the most radical elements of that dogma. Or they may still work actual jobs. But it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Members of the Party are a minority, but they are the vanguard, the ideologically committed core that acts as the ruling class and the force for political conformity. Party Members report thought-crimes to the government, swarm as morality mobs to shame and denounce dissenters and campaign and vote for tighter restrictions and harsher penalties.
The Party is inflexibly liberal. It hasn’t formed into a single group yet, but in its scattered pieces, it is the nexus of the American version of the Bolsheviks. In some European countries it already is a party with its own attached youth movements.
And one of the benefits of Party membership is virtual immunity from its own laws. Being a Party member allows you to have the racial sensitivity of Harry Reid, the sexual harassment cred of Bill Clinton and the environmental correctness of Al Gore’s mansion, jets and Al Jazeera sale.
The law is enforced by Party members on the People. It is infrequently enforced by Party members against fellow Party members.
Read the whole thing.
31 Jan 2013
The principal characters of Girls: Allison Williams (Marnie Michaels), Jemima Kirke (Jessa Johansson), Lena Dunham (Hannah Horvath), Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna Shapiro)
Kurt Schlichter, at Breitbart, issued a manifesto yesterday, demanding that conservatives take Lena Dunham’s appalling and bizarre HB0-comedy-series seriously.
There’s plenty about Girls to annoy conservatives, yet this often creepy, usually skeevy, critically-acclaimed HBO series is also a test for conservatives.
Will we finally heed Andrew Breitbart’s warnings about the importance of taking pop culture seriously or just keep fiddling as the culture burns?
If conservatives are going to be in the popular culture – and act to change it – they can’t simply ignore shows like Girls that capture the zeitgeist, even if the zeitgeist makes their skin crawl. Season two is well under way, and conservatives need to participate in the discussion.
Girls is about four young, aimless college grads living in New York. Think of Sex and the City, except Sarah Jessica Parker has doubled her weight, dresses like a potato sack and fancies herself the voice of some undefined generation. There’s sex and nudity – just not hot Homeland sex and nudity. This is the first show in the history of cable television where male viewers actively root for the heroine to keep her clothes on. ...
So, why should conservatives want any part of this?
The answer, if the fact that the show can be pretty amusing isn’t reason enough for you, is that conservatives need to be a part of big cultural events if they want to be a part of culture at large. But that begs the questions of why we conservatives would even want to be part of the culture at large. It’s a cesspool. And there’s an answer for that too – so we can participate in changing it.
I’m not sure what exactly Mr. Schlichter believes conservatives ought to do. Purchase half-an-hour of weekly air time after each Girls episode broadcasts to have some white male conservative of mature years offer a lecture on sexual morality?
Develop an alternative series, to be titled Good Girls, to be broadcast weekly on the Hallmark Network, depicting four religiously observant, socially conservative, and rationally behaving young ladies conventionally employed in Omaha, Nebraska or Salt Lake City?
Myself, I do undertake the effort (and it takes a bit of an effort) to watch the series. It certainly does have some moments of effective humor and amusement, but the life-style and perspective of the millennials depicted is actively embarrassing to watch. Lena Dunham’s frequent nude scenes and the regular depictions of inept, unsatisfying, and sometimes aspirationally perverse sex persistently gross one out. The viewer is left rather baffled at Dunham’s self-deprecatory exhibitionism, and winds up shaking his head and wondering: Do people of her generation routinely view themselves as that stupid and incompetent? And, if they do, why would they make a television program and tell everyone? There are no answers.
I suppose all we can do is write these sorts of editorials, marveling aloud, and wondering what the success and popularity of a television series like that tells us about just how far the Abendslands have Unterganged.
One correction: Oberlin is not, definitely not, an Ivy League school.
11 Dec 2012
George Will, on ABC News recently, did everything but sing Hallelujah to the river gods as civilization appeared ready to slide another long mile downstream, with the Supreme Court announcing its intention to intervene in the culture wars conflict over Same Sex Marriage in the grim immediate aftermath of the 2012 election.
While Supreme Court watchers ponder how justices will come down in the debate over gay marriage, ABC’s George Will said Sunday on ABC News “This Week” it’s clear where public opinion is headed.
“There is something like an emerging consensus,” Will said, noting voters in three states recently endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives. [emphasis added] “Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people.”
Why, I wonder, is George Will apparently surprised that young people are so commonly successfully-brainwashed subscribers to establishment community of fashion articles of faith, like the principle that no mere theory should ever be allowed to stand in the way of immediate individual personal gratification, or the even more important principle that Equality is the utmost supreme value transcending all other values?
It always looks exactly this way in every culture wars battle. Young people care nothing for theories and tradition and everything for fashionable opinion and being nice.
But Mr. Will overlooks a couple of important considerations.
Young people inevitably grow older and gain experience and most of them recover from the illusions with which they were indoctrinated during their school years. Time is not really on the side of the progressive left. Conservatives and sane rational people do not just grow old, die off, and become extinct, leaving behind a Saturnalia of progressive fantasy. What really happens is that each generation of dummer jungen gradually matures, turning from radicals and fashionistas into sober and responsible burgesses, tax payers, and adults. The gleeful supporters of free love and transgressive sex turn into censorious grey-haired married couples with children of their own.
In the end, you simply wind up with the repetition of the comedy of a society always divided nearly evenly between the party of the young, the radical, and the stupid and the party of the adults.
We have a serious problem in America in having allowed too many important institutions to fall into the hands of an unworthy and only-superficially-intelligent intelligentsia. But we do not need to despair.
George Will obviously spends too much of his time in the fantasy cocoon of media culture. He has succumbed to believing in the left’s narrative of the grand march of Progress, of the inevitable and irreversible movement of society in the direction of coercive egalitarianism, materialism, and statism.
George Will has forgotten the first thing any conservative ought to remember. Magna est veritas et prævalebit. (“The truth is mighty and it shall prevail.” The Revolutionary Convention may renumber the calendar and change the name of the months to “the windy one” and “the rainy one,” an infatuated majority of supreme court justices may decide that the intention of the framers guarantees the sacramental equality of sexual perversion, but History will go on, and absurdities, grotesqueries, and the wild excesses of human folly and obsession over time typically fall of their own weight. Later generations laugh at the Victorian sexual pudeur that once installed skirts on piano legs, and succeeding generations will similarly marvel at the extravagantly bizarre positions so many in our own era were driven to by the current dementia founded upon egalitarianism.
There has never, in the entire history of the human race, been any society or culture that regarded homosexual attraction as a basis for lifelong monogamous relations or which looked upon the sterile couplings of members of the same sex as worthy of the dignity of recognition as equivalent to normal marriage.
Today’s moral breakdown and intellectual disorder may possibly lead to the official proclamation of such absolute nonsense as the new law of the land, but the left’s fools and demoniacs can never possibly in the long run succeed in establishing permanently so preposterously-based an institution as Same Sex Marriage.
04 Dec 2012
The Thinking Housewife comments on another of those dramatic symbolic moments in the left’s forcible conversion of America.
I read yesterday the news stories about the first same-sex wedding ceremony at West Point’s chapel and was completely uninterested. This “wedding” between two elderly lesbians, whose enormous smiles belie an immense disdain for our heritage and for civilization itself, was news around the country but it is not news. It’s just another all-too-predictable ceremony of the liberal state. These two women, and homosexuality itself, are convenient characters in the drama. These uplifted swords, with their evocation of America’s martial past, and this Gothic chapel, with its reference to the fortress of Christianity, are magnificent props. They serve in the most theatrical way to affirm the power of the liberal state and to proclaim its victory. It has conquered our most treasured institutions. It has stolen right up to the foot of the altar. Liberalism has defeated the greatest competing authorities to itself: traditional morality, masculine initiative and the family. It has defeated God himself. This wedding is an assertion of power. There have been many like it for years and there must be more and more ceremonies of its kind. For the forces liberalism has conquered are the forces of life itself.
Don’t miss the comments.
29 Oct 2012
A lot of people have been puzzled by the Obama Campaign’s reliance on trivia and refusal to move toward the center. How can a president presiding over this economy hope to win, especially with a polarizing campaign calculated to turn off centrists?
Stanley Kurtz seems to have found the blueprint for Obama’s strategy (and its raison d’être) in an article in last June’s New York Magazine by John Heileman.
Obama’s strategy, says Heileman, is built around the idea that he can win with a coalition of the “demographically ascendent,” African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young people. To a degree, the bad economy has pushed Obama toward this approach. The obvious hope is that economic weakness can be countered by appeals to socially liberal women and young people on cultural issues. But don’t underestimate the extent to which this strategy is a deliberate decision that could have gone otherwise, as the behind-the-scenes opposition of some Democrats indicates. Obama is clearly willing to abandon centrist voters and place his own likeability at risk for the sake of creating a socially and economically liberal Democratic coalition that would allow him
to govern securely from the left. ...
The president is going for broke. He wants to govern from the left and ignore the center. His top strategists promised a campaign that would permit this, and that’s the campaign Obama has delivered. Noticed that Obama has actually doubled down on this strategy when he still might have tried a last-minute pivot to the middle. That’s how badly Obama wants to abandon the center and take this country to the left.
The central Heileman thesis:
In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.
Hat tip to Bird Dog.
10 Sep 2012
Oklahoma Legislator Rebecca Hamilton remembers being corrected by her working-class red state father.
I had been caught red-handed, abusing my horse. I had no idea what Daddy was going to do, but I expected something massive. What he did instead was much more effective.
“Becky Ann, you know better than that.” he said. That was all. He didn’t yell or threaten. He didn’t even ground me from riding; just, “you know better than that.” But it was enough. I have never abused an animal again.
Years before that, when I was a pre-schooler, I stole a pack of chewing gum from a store and got caught. Daddy didn’t yell at me. He took me back to the store and made me hand the gum to the clerk and say “I stole this.” That was a long time ago, but I can still feel the humiliation of that moment. Then, to add insult to injury, he bought the gum and gave it to me.
Another lesson learned. The temptation to steal left me that day and has never returned.
Daddy was teaching more than how to ride and care for a horse, more even than not to steal. He was teaching me a whole set of values. He was also, though neither of us was aware of it, teaching me about men. There wasn’t a plan in this. I feel confident that my daddy never read a single book on how to raise kids. He didn’t make dates to “have a talk” with me or attempt to manipulate me. He just talked to me as part of our daily interactions. Like I was a person. He spent time with me. That’s how he caught me with the stolen gum, how he saw me shoot water into Shorty’s ear; he was there.
“Robin Hustle,” in the course of a Jezebel feature titled “How to Tell Your Parents You’re a Prostitute,” describes her blue state parenting experiences.
I was a typical pink-diaper baby: I sat in on my mom’s feminist book clubs, we had family outings to protest U.S. imperialism in El Salvador, and I was into Joan Armatrading while my classmates were obsessed with New Kids on the Block. Fortunately, my crushing unpopularity was alleviated by a wonderful home life. All told, I can safely say I am a product of good parenting. I was encouraged, not coddled. I learned to be responsible at an early age by being given, within limits, a great deal of independence. My appreciation for my family goes well beyond their parenting skills. They aren’t guilty liberals who stir into action when an election or a war rolls around; they have always been fully engaged in living and working in radical ways. They never imposed their politics on me — my own politics mirror theirs because they taught me to think critically and set a powerful example of how to live. I’d be embarrassed by my uncanny similarity to my parents if I didn’t think they’re, well, totally amazing.
We rarely talked about sex, and lord knows I didn’t mind. When my kindergarten teacher called home in a huff to report that Marco Torres and I were having a horizontal make-out session in gym class, my parents sat me down and told me I could do whatever I wanted with kids my own age, so long as I didn’t do it at school. When I came out as queer in junior high, it was a blip on the family radar, though a few years later my parents felt obligated to ask if I was having safe sex, and then ask me to educate them on how lesbians have safe sex. While discussing non-monogamy a few years ago, my mom casually said “Well, I’ve never really cared about sex anyway,” which raised a host of disquieting questions that will forever go unasked. To each her own, I guess.
So, tell me, which culture do you think ought to win the culture war?
Hat tips (1) and (2) to Glenn Reynolds.
02 Aug 2012
The New York Times’ idea of a conservative, Harvard-man Ross Douthat warmly defends the practice of the establishment community of fashion elite “using every means at its disposal short of banning speech outright” to coercively change American culture and the private views and opinions of Americans generally in directions it deems more enlightened.
Douthat is nowhere nearly as offended as such liberals as Kevin Drum, Andrew Sullivan, and Glenn Greenwald by quasi-legal harassment of heretics by politicians on the fashionable side.
[Glenn] Greenwald wrote:
As always, the solution to noxious ideas like the ones from this chicken CEO are to rebut them, not use state power to suppress them. The virtue of gay equality has become increasingly recognized in the U.S. because people have been persuaded of its merits, not because state officials, acting like Inquisitors, forced people to accept it by punishing them for their refusal.
Greenwald and I have been over this ground a bit before, so I’ll say again what I said then: This is an idealized view of how cultures change, and it doesn’t acknowledge the link between law and culture, and the crucial role that [emphasis added -jdz] stigma, harassment and legal sanctions can play in changing attitudes and behavior. The cause of gay marriage has indeed advanced because many millions of people have been persuaded of its merits: No cause could move so swiftly from the margins to the mainstream if it didn’t have appealing arguments supporting it and powerful winds at its back. But it has also advanced, and will probably continue to advance, through social pressure, ideological enforcement, and legal restriction. Indeed, the very language of the movement is explicitly designed to exert this kind of pressure: By redefining yesterday’s consensus view of marriage as “bigotry,” and expanding the term “homophobia” to cover support for that older consensus as well as personal discomfort with/animus toward gays, the gay marriage movement isn’t just arguing with its opponents; it’s pathologizing them, raising the personal and professional costs of being associated with traditional views on marriage, and creating the space for exactly the kind of legal sanctions that figures like Thomas Menino and Rahm Emanuel spent last week flirting with.
This reality is not a judgment on the cause of gay marriage itself. Many admirable causes, including the cause of civil rights for African-Americans, have advanced through a similar legal and social redefinition of what constitutes acceptable opinion, and obviously gay people have historically been the victims, rather than the victimizers, where the human tendency to use law and custom to pathologize difference and marginalize dissent from respectable opinion is concerned. But it’s naive to think that gay marriage is only winning because of the power of sweet reason, and that the climate created by the bluster of figures like Menino and Emanuel isn’t a big part of the story as well. When David Blankenhorn, heretofore one of the leading critics of same-sex marriage, wrote last month that he was “bending the knee” on the issue, it was an explicit nod to this reality: Causes advance by persuading people to change their minds, but they win their final, sweeping victories by inducing people who haven’t really changed their mind to simply give up the fight. And there’s no surer way to gain that kind of victory than by adding legal hassles — or even just the threat of legal hassles — to the list of reasons why the fight isn’t worth having anymore.
The Jesuits used to say: if the ends are lawful, so are the means lawful. Obviously many prominent representatives of our elite establishment agree, and consider themselves empowered on the basis of their own allegedly superior moral insight to forcibly cram any change in morals, culture, faith, or opinion that they believe to be desirable right down the throats of their less powerful and influential fellow citizens, because they can and because it makes them feel so righteous and so powerful.
22 May 2012
Early American Culture War: Rep. Matthew Lyon (Republican-VT) versus Rep. Roger Griswold (Federalist-CT)
Fair-minded liberal David Sessions admits that his side customarily denies its role as aggressor in the culture wars.
[I]n both the media and among hip, moderate-to-liberal evangelicals, only the right fights the culture war. Conservatives are culture warriors, but gay marriage activists are not. Thus when the topic turns to “getting beyond the culture wars,” what is really meant is conservatives giving up or at least shutting up. We will get beyond the culture wars when the conservatives at least admit they’ve lost and decide to stop talking about this stuff so much.
And then, he turns right around and argues that cultural aggression is really just a perfectly natural and entirely legitimate expression of deeply held views in the political realm.
06 Mar 2012
Cathy Ruse, Georgetown Law ‘89, identifies what Sandra Fluke’s congressional testimony and the Georgetown contraception national brouhaha are really all about.
Last week Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown University Law Center, went to Congress looking for a handout. She wants free birth-control pills, and she wants the federal government to make her Catholic school give them to her.
I’m a graduate of Georgetown Law and former chief counsel of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution. Based on her testimony, I wonder how much Ms. Fluke really knows about the university or the Constitution.
As a law student 20 years ago, I wasn’t confronted by crucifixes in the classroom or, in truth, by any religious imagery anywhere. In that respect the law school has a different “feel” than the university. The law school chapel was an unadorned, multipurpose room in the basement used for Mass when it wasn’t used for Gilbert and Sullivan Society rehearsals and club meetings. Among the clubs while I was there, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance was particularly vigorous.
I was not Catholic when I attended Georgetown Law, but I certainly knew the university was. So did Ms. Fluke. She told the Washington Post that she chose Georgetown knowing specifically that the school did not cover drugs that run contrary to Catholic teaching in its student health plans. During her law school years she was a president of “Students for Reproductive Justice” and made it her mission to get the school to give up one of the last remnants of its Catholicism. Ms. Fluke is not the “everywoman” portrayed in the media. ...
When congressional committee counsels plan hearings, they look for two kinds of witnesses: “experts” and “victims.” The experts are typically lawyers or law professors who can explain the constitutional authority for the new law and its legal impact, and the victims illustrate why the law is needed.
At the hearing of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee chaired by Nancy Pelosi, Sandra Fluke testified as a victim. Having to buy your own contraception is a burden, she said. She testified that all around her at Georgetown she could see the faces of students who were suffering because of Georgetown’s refusal to abandon its Catholic principles.
Exactly what does the face of a law student who must buy her own birth-control pills look like? Did I see them all around me and just not know it? Do male law students who must buy their own condoms have the same look? Perhaps Ms. Fluke should have brought photos to Congress to illustrate her point.
In her testimony, Ms. Fluke claimed that, “Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school.” That’s $1,000 per year. But an employee at a Target pharmacy near the university told the Weekly Standard last week that one month’s worth of generic oral contraceptives is $9 per month. “That’s the price without insurance,” the employee said. (It’s also $9 per month at Wal-Mart.)
Ms. Fluke’s crusade for reproductive justice is simply a demand that a Catholic institution pay for drugs that make it possible for her to have sex without getting pregnant. It’s nothing grander or nobler than that. Georgetown’s refusal to do so does not mean she has to have less sex, only that she has to take financial responsibility for it herself.
Should Ms. Fluke give up a cup or two of coffee at Starbucks each month to pay for her birth control, or should Georgetown give up its religion? Even a first-year law student should know where the Constitution comes down on that.
03 Mar 2012
Sandra Fluke testifying to Congress that society needs to pay for her contraceptives
The organized left has mounted a petition drive to persuade Rush Limbaugh’s radio program’s sponsors to drop advertising on the most popular program on AM radio. Their pretext is the claim that El Rushbo crossed a line by using words like “slut” and “prostitute” in connection with a sweet young thing like Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, but what all this really amounts to is the left taking the most pejorative terms in Rush Limbaugh’s lengthy and profoundly sarcastic response to Ms. Fluke’s Congressional testimony and attempting to personalize them in order to feign outrage and indignation.
All the “What he said!” games are just another hypocritical liberal exercise in dramaturgy, playing for the sympathy of the independent and ill-informed.
The real outrage, as Bryan Preston observed earlier this week, is the attempt by leftists like Barack Obama and Sarah Fluke to attempt to promote a personal choice into a right and an entitlement capable of trumping the barrier between state and church. Obama and Fluke proposing turning the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom into a dead letter essentially over what people used to call a French letter.
It costs a female student $3,000 to have protected sex over the course of her three-year stint in law school, according to her calculations.
“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school,” Fluke told the hearing.
Georgetown University Law School is not cheap. It costs more than $70,000 per year without scholarships or other financial aid. Miss Fluke would have us believe that someone who can afford to attend Georgetown can not afford to pay for his or her own lifestyle.
Fluke claims they can’t afford to pay to, as the president so eloquently phrased it, avoid being punished with a baby before they graduate into extremely lucrative careers, in Fluke’s case most likely in a future Democratic administration.
The math derived from Fluke’s $3,000 price tag suggests that Georgetown is one swingin’ Catholic campus.
At a dollar a condom if she shops at CVS pharmacy’s website, that $3,000 would buy her 3,000 condoms – or, 1,000 a year. (By the way, why does CVS.com list the weight of its condom products in terms of pounds?)
Assuming it’s not a leap year, that’s 1,000 divided by 365 – or having sex 2.74 times a day, every day, for three straight years. And, I thought Georgetown was a Catholic university where women might be prone to shun casual, unmarried sex. At least its health insurance doesn’t cover contraception (that which you subsidize, you get more of, you know).
And, that’s not even considering that there are Planned Parenthood clinics in her neighborhood that give condoms away and sell them at a discount, which could help make her sexual zeal more economical.
With all due respect, Miss Fluke, your evidently very active amorous life is your business and should remain that way. It isn’t worth wrecking the Constitution.
Rush Limbaugh only, in his typical witty and eloquent fashion, proceeded to respond to Ms. Fluke’s testimony with highly effective mockery and analysis, contemplating aloud the various moral implications of society being required to fund the where-with-all ingredients of Ms. Fluke’s sex life. “If we’re paying for your sex life, Ms. Fluke and other subscribers to her point of view, what does that make you?” Rush wondered out loud.
We saw this week just how much delicacy, decorum, and decency the left subscribes to, when Andrew Breitbart suddenly passed away, and lefties loudly exchanged public self-congratulations and heaped abuse on the fallen rightist blogger.
The left wanted to shut Limbaugh up long before Sandra Fluke and the current contraception-as-entitlement religious freedom issue ever came along. All the noise you hear is just more left-wing opportunism.
Sandra Fluke, btw, is not some tender ingenue, now lying in tears upon a fainting couch after being spoken of so harshly by that beast of a Rush Limbaugh. She’s actually a hard-core 30-year-old reproductive rights professional activist.
Update, later the same day:
El Rushbo apologized (the wuss!).
You know what the Marine Corps says: “Never apologize; never explain.”
19 Feb 2012
In the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto discusses Jeffrey Bell’s new book, which argues that the politics of the culture wars inevitably fuels Republican electoral victories.
Social issues have come to the fore on the GOP side in two of the past six presidential elections—in 1988 (prison furloughs, the Pledge of Allegiance, the ACLU) and 2004 (same-sex marriage). “Those are the only two elections since Reagan where the Republican Party has won a popular majority,” Mr. Bell says. “It isn’t coincidental.”
Mr. Bell, 68, is an unlikely tribune for social conservatism. His main interest has always been economics. He was “an early supply-sider” who worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns of 1976 and 1980 and Jack Kemp’s in 1988. In 1978 he ran an anti-tax campaign for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, defeating Republican incumbent Clifford Case in the primary but losing to Democrat Bill Bradley.
Even now his day job is to advocate for the gold standard at the American Principles Project. But he’s been interested in social issues since the 1980s, when “it became increasingly clear to me . . . that social issues were beginning to be very important in comparison to economic issues,” in part because “Reaganomics worked so well that the Democrats . . . kind of retired the economic issues.”
In Mr. Bell’s telling, social conservatism is both relatively new and uniquely American, and it is a response to aggression, not an initiation of it. The left has had “its center of gravity in social issues” since the French Revolution, he says. “Yes, the left at that time, with people like Robespierre, was interested in overthrowing the monarchy and the French aristocracy. But they were even more vehemently in favor of bringing down institutions like the family and organized religion. In that regard, the left has never changed. . . . I think we’ve had a good illustration of it in the last month or so.”
He means the ObamaCare mandate that religious institutions must provide employee insurance for contraceptive services, including abortifacient drugs and sterilization procedures, even if doing so would violate their moral teachings. “You would think that once the economy started looking a little better, Obama would want to take a bow . . . but instead all of a sudden you have this contraception flap. From what I can find out about it, it wasn’t a miscalculation. They knew that the Catholic Church and other believers were going to push back against this thing. . . . They were determined to push it through, because it’s their irreplaceable ideological core. . . . The left keeps putting these issues into the mix, and they do it very deliberately, and I think they do it as a matter of principle.”
Another example: “In the lame-duck session of the last Congress, when the Democrats had their last [House] majority . . . what was their biggest priority? Well, they let the Bush tax cuts be renewed for another couple of years, but what they did get through was gays in the military. . . . It keeps coming back because it’s the agenda of the left. They’re not going to leave these issues alone.”
American social conservatism, Mr. Bell says, began in response to the sexual revolution, which since the 1960s has been “the biggest agenda item and the biggest success story of the left.” That was true in Western Europe and Japan too, but only in America did a socially conservative opposition arise.
Read the whole thing.
I thought this review was dead on accurate.
I’m an irreligious, libertine, libertarian conservative, personally completely and totally in favor of contraception and legal abortion, and I found myself recently defending the rights of Roman Catholic institutions, and even arguing with my Yale classmates that the perspective of Right-to-Lifers is morally serious and worthy of respect.
Liberal arrogance and intolerance is so great that I think it is true that a surprisingly large number of economic conservatives who have no close personal relationship whatsoever to Religion and Family Values can see themselves supporting Rick Santorum against Barack Obama very easily. The Left is the aggressor in the culture wars, and most Americans are basically decent people who reflexively side with the victim against the bully.
13 Feb 2012
George Weigel, at National Review, predicts that the culture wars conflict over the left’s determination to breach the wall of separation between church and state is actually going to replace the economy as the central focus of the 2012 election. He could be right.
[A] Senior Vatican Official [reports that at a diplomatic meeting held in preparation for the 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development], a somewhat scruffy Dutch activist got up and announced to all and sundry, “Let’s stop fooling around here. What we’re talking about is our right to f*** whoever we want, however we want, whenever we want.”
The Dutchman’s formulation may have lacked elegance, but it certainly didn’t lack precision. For that was precisely what was at issue 18 years ago, and it is precisely what is at issue today: Will the sexual revolution, which reduced sex to a recreational activity of no moral consequence, be protected, advanced, and indeed mandated by the coercive powers of the modern state?
There is irony in the fire here, of course. What began as a movement to liberate sexuality from the constraints of moral reason, custom, and law has become a movement determined to use the instruments of law to impose its deconstruction of human sexuality and its moral relativism on all of society. That is what drives those who urged the Obama administration to issue its “contraceptive” mandate, which is of course an abortifacient and sterilization mandate. That is what drives those who loosed the furies (including such viragos as Senator Barbara Boxer) on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which had had the temerity to suggest that Planned Parenthood actually provide the mammograms Komen’s grants were paying for. It’s all about Leviathan as enforcer of the sexual revolution.
Anyone who doesn’t understand that — from Catholic bishops to upper-class foundation executives with previously immaculate reputations — is going to get rolled over by Leviathan. For Leviathan cannot be met at some mythical 50-yard line of “accommodation.” Leviathan can only be beaten.
This fierce determination to use Leviathan to make sure that that Dutch INGO delegate’s libidinous desires are requited might be tolerable if its effects were confined to those who want to, well, you know: whoever, whenever, however. But they are not. The sexual revolution distorts everything that gets in its way; and in due course, it will persecute anything that gets in its way. ...
The invention of the oral contraceptive was, with the splitting of the atom and the unraveling of the DNA double helix, one of the three world-historical scientific developments of the last century — scientific accomplishments that have within themselves the capacity to change culture and history in fundamental ways. By effectively sundering sexual expression from procreation, modern contraceptives have done something their less-effective predecessors were unable to do for millennia: They have created a contraceptive culture that identifies fertility with disease and willful infertility with “health.” Those who celebrate that culture are not interested in compromise: They are interested in having everyone pay for what they want, and in levying serious penalties on those who won’t truckle to their will. ...
At the beginning, the 2012 election was about jobs, jobs, and jobs. The culture wars have now reshaped the race, and the stakes, as Iran may eventually do in another sphere of policy. But what the Komen/Planned Parenthood and HHS-mandate battles ought to have made clear is that 2012 is, domestically, an election about the survival of civil society. Will Leviathan continue to trample the institutions of civil society at the behest of the champions of lifestyle libertinism? Will such institutions as marriage, the family, and the Church be permitted to exist only insofar as they become wards of the state, or simulacra of the state?
That, and nothing less than that, is the question the past several weeks have put before the American people.
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