Yesterday, Yale alumni received from Richard Levin, Yale’s smarmy and unctuous current president, the following letter connected with the Title IX Civil Rights complaint made by 16 students and alumni associated with the Yale Womens’ Center.
April 15, 2011
Dear Graduates and Friends of Yale,
As you may know, Yale was recently informed by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education that it will be investigating a complaint made by a group of current students and graduates alleging that the University is in violation of Title IX of the Higher Education Act. Title IX mandates that no one be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any federally supported education program on the basis of sex. We have not yet received a copy of the complaint, and the notification from the Office of Civil Rights does not provide details. We believe that the investigation will focus on Yale’s policies and practices concerning sexual harassment and misconduct.
It is imperative that the climate at Yale be free of sexual harassment and misconduct of any kind. The well being of our students and the entire community requires this. Should transgressions occur, they must be addressed expeditiously and appropriately.
We will cooperate fully with the Office of Civil Rights in their investigation, but the Officers, the Dean of Yale College, and I believe that we should not await the investigation before asking ourselves how we might improve the policies, practices, and procedures intended to protect members of our community. I write to describe some of the measures we are taking immediately.
I have appointed an external Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, chaired by Margaret H. Marshall ‘76JD, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and a former Fellow of the Yale Corporation [famous for contriving to have heard, and writing the infamous opinion in, Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health which produced the ruling that the Commonwealth of Massachusett’s 1780 Constitution, adopted at a time in which sodomy was a capital offense, required Massachusetts to recognize Gay Marriage—JDZ]. The other members of the Committee are Seth P. Waxman ‘77JD, former Solicitor General of the United States and a partner at WilmerHale LLP; Kimberly Goff-Crews ‘83BA, ‘86JD, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students at the University of Chicago; and Elizabeth (Libby) Smiley ’02BA, former president of the Yale College Council and a director at Barbary Coast Consulting in San Francisco.
I have asked the Committee for advice about how sexual harassment, violence or misconduct may be more effectively combated at Yale, and what additional steps the University might take to create a culture and community in which all of our students are safe and feel well supported. The Committee will spend time listening to members of our community about the situation as they live it and will make its own assessments. We have policies in place, and a number of recommendations developed during the last year are being implemented. Nevertheless, I am confident that there is more that we can do, and I am grateful to the members of the panel for contributing their time and wise counsel.
The Committee will advise me directly, and I will review its recommendations with the Yale Corporation after the report is completed early in the fall semester. After review by the Corporation, the Committee’s recommendations will be made public.
Even as the Committee does its work, I want to take advantage of the remaining weeks of this semester to ensure that student concerns are heard directly by the senior leadership of the University. I am grateful to the Women’s Center for initiating this week a series of dinners with students and administrators. Following this lead, I have asked senior administrators to join with masters and deans over a meal in every college dining hall and in Commons in Reading Period, during the days following Spring Fling when classes do not meet, and when I hope students will take the time to engage in a conversation about the campus climate and our policies governing sexual misconduct. These will be informal opportunities to engage with Deans Mary Miller and Marichal Gentry, Provost Peter Salovey, and Vice President Linda Lorimer, along with your master or dean. I have asked the Provost, Vice President, and Deans to report back to me on the suggestions for improvement that they receive and to share what they have learned with the external Committee as well.
I have also asked the Deans of the Graduate and Professional Schools to ensure that similar conversations occur in each school.
The deepest values of our institution compel us to take very seriously the issues raised by the complaint brought to the Office of Civil Rights. We welcome this opportunity to learn from our community and from best practices elsewhere to protect all who study and work here.
Those deepest values being sanctimony, cant, and conformity to fashion.
Glenn Reynolds (another Yale alumnus) observed with justifiable disgust:
[Y]ou used to be able to punish the sort of behavior complained of here on the ground that it violated general principles of decency and acceptable public behavior. But after a half-century or so of attacking even the notion of general principles of decency and acceptable public behavior — especially where sex is concerned! — that doesn’t work.
Universities have long told the larger culture that it must simply put up with whatever is said, however offensive, in the interest of free expression. Now we see more evidence that that was always a lie, a self-serving cover story that was really meant simply to protect speech that the larger culture didn’t want to hear, with no intention to protect speech that people at universities don’t want to hear. Universities, meanwhile, have become some of the most hostile environments for free speech anywhere in America.
[I]f you extract the crap music and the new-age quasi-religion, you’ve got men apologizing for manliness. But they are not apologizing for their own manliness. They are purporting to apologize for other men, whom they are demonizing. Really what you’ve got are the insufficiently manly men, who think that by insulting other men, they will get the women.
But they will not get the women, because they are insufficiently manly. And it’s a particularly pussy move to group all the manly men together for the purposes of trying to promote unmanly men. The violent, hateful, abusive men belong in a class by themselves, and to group them with all the other men who are more manly than you is self-serving and specious.
Two years ago, the walls of the Yale Women’s Center bore paintings of female genitalia.
The artwork, abstract representations board members made of their own vaginas, was meant to welcome visitors to the Women’s Center, said Isabel Polon ’11, a former political action coordinator for the center.
“What’s more inviting than a vagina?” she said.
In the New York Post, Meghan Clyne finds all the whining about off-color sexual taunts pretty thick coming from the same feminist gang that has made disseminating smut around the Yale campus its principal métier for years.
Drawing the loudest outcry are a 2006 episode in which frat pledges chanted, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” in front of the Yale Women’s Center (a refrain they reprised in 2009), and a 2008 stunt in which frat members posed for a photo in front of the center with a sign proclaiming “We love Yale sluts.”
But before you shed a tear for Yale or its feminists, consider the role that both have played in saturating the campus with vulgar sexuality. In an effort to foster “dialogue” and “acceptance” of every possible sexual choice or act, they’ve drenched students, faculty and administrators in images and vocabulary of graphic sexuality.
The Women’s Center has hosted screenings of lesbian pornography, workshops on drag and talks about “sex toys and how to get the most out of them.” In 2006, the event “Who’s on Top” was intended to address lack of “discussion about the act of penetrative sex itself” and to explore feminist Andrea Dworkin’s theory “that intercourse and patriarchy are inseparable.” The center even throws naked parties to boost Yale women’s sense of body image.
These are the shrinking violets shocked that a bunch of frat guys would gather around their front door crassly chanting about sex.
Those chants were disgusting, of course. But when every taboo around sex is systematically eradicated, aren’t cries of “We Love Yale Sluts” inevitable?
Wendy Kaminer comments on the Department of Education’s witch hunt in search of hostile atmosphere creators at Yale.
What accounts for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats? Talking is apparently beside the point. “I just want to be able to walk back to my dorm at night without hearing all this crazy stuff from these guys,” one student complains. I sympathize (I was a young woman once, too), but “hearing crazy stuff” from people in public is part of life in a free society, a society in which you enjoy equal rights to say crazy stuff.
Putatively progressive feminists might agree, if only they regarded women as equal to the task of talking back, if only they distinguished between men who “say stuff” about women and men who “do stuff” to women. In the feminist view reflected in the Yale draft complaint, the misogynist rants of some undergraduate men (perhaps a relatively small percentage of them) is not speech. It’s a series of “dangerous,” “sex-discriminatory threats” that “intimidate” and “terrorize” women, constituting a hostile environment (or “rape culture”) that causes sexual violence.
That simplistic, practically hysterical anti-libertarian approach to offensive speech appears to be shared by the Obama administration. OCR [Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights] has initiated an investigation of alleged civil-rights violations at Yale, and, coincidentally, on April 4th, it issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools, colleges, and universities nationwide, clarifying their obligations to prevent and address sexual harassment. OCR’s letter conflates harassment and rape. It defines sexual harassment as “including” sexual violence and ignores the conflicts between sexual harassment regulations and free speech, or, in public schools, the constitutional limits on regulating “offensive” speech. Given OCR’s expansive and potentially repressive approach to punishing and preventing “bullying,” it’s not surprising but still distressing to find no concern for speech in its letter on harassment.
The only nod to civil liberty in OCR’s letter is a reminder that students accused of sexual harassment (including sexual violence) should be accorded due process. Indeed, “(p)ublic and state-supported schools must provide due process to the alleged perpetrator”—but not too much due process, it seems: “However, schools should ensure that steps taken to accord due process rights to the alleged perpetrator do not restrict or unnecessarily delay the Title IX protections for the complainant.” This suggests, oddly and ominously, that the statutory rights of the accuser trump the constitutional due-process rights of the accused.
Generally, the OCR letter displays much more concern for the sensitivities of accusers over the rights of the accused. Schools should, for example, separate complainants and alleged perpetrators while investigations are pending, and in doing so, they should “minimize the burden on the complainant.” Why not also minimize the burden on the alleged perpetrator? The Obama administration, like the administrations of so many colleges and universities, implicitly approaches sexual harassment and sexual violence cases with a presumption of guilt.
Campus investigations and hearings involving harassment or rape charges are notoriously devoid of concern for the rights of students accused; “kangaroo courts” are common, and OCR ’s letter seems unlikely to remedy them. Students accused of harassment should not be allowed to confront (or directly question) their accusers, according to OCR, because cross-examination of a complainant “may be traumatic or intimidating.” (Again, elevating the feelings of a complainant over the rights of an alleged perpetrator, who may have been falsely accused, reflects a presumption of guilt.) Students may be represented by counsel in disciplinary proceedings, at the discretion of the school, but counsel is not required, even when students risk being found guilty of sexual assaults (felonies pursuant to state penal laws) under permissive standards of proof used in civil cases, standards mandated by OCR.
I don’t know the ages of Obama’s OCR appointees, but they seem to be operating under the influence of the repressive disregard for civil liberty that began taking over American campuses nearly 20 years ago. As FIRE President Greg Lukianoff remarks, students have been “unlearning liberty.” Concern about social equality and the unexamined belief that it requires legal protections for the feelings of presumptively vulnerable or disadvantaged students who are considered incapable of protecting themselves has generated not just obliviousness to liberty but a palpable hostility to it.
The Left simply invokes a simplistic kind of sophistry to re-define speech it doesn’t like as an aggressive act and to transform disapproval and displeasure at oppositional mocking speech into victimization.
“Those DEKE and Zeta Psi initiations dared to ridicule our self-important ideology of victimization, and that created ‘a hostile atmosphere’ preventing us from feeling equal, and that should be a federal offense.”
The claim being made here is arrant nonsense, which any rational adult should recognize immediately, but American society has not been headed by rational adults since at least the 1960s.
A bunch of pathetic sissies spout really amazing PC drivel in what seems to be a desperate and ill-advised effort to get laid via sucking up to women. People, especially non-moron females, are laughing at them everywhere.
Naomi Wolf is a member of Yale’s Class of 1984, who in 2004 published a spectacularly self-important, much-ado-about-nothing article in New York magazine claiming that one of Yale’s most illustrious English professors had once placed his hand above her knee. The university’s failure to avenge appropriately an alleged unwanted advance on her say-so alone, Wolf wrote, shook her confidence in Yale as an institution. She has been wanting to get even, apparently since 1983, and now’s her chance.
ABC News has a short segment on the sexual harassment complaint against Yale.
The ABC reporters fail to remark that 12 complaining feminists (including alumnae), seconded by a small supportive chorus of 4 poofters, do not represent a terribly significant portion of a student population of roughly 12,000 or of an alumni community of a few hundred thousand.
Both the (October, 2010) misogynistic chants so vulgar that prim ABC could not replay them (which went “No means yes. Yes means anal.”) and the (January 2008) “derogatory signs” outside the Yale Women’s Center which were the alleged tipping point that prevented Hannah Zeavin from having “Bright College Years” were fraternity initiation ordeals, inflicted respectively by Delta Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Psi.
Ms. Zeavin clearly tips very slowly, over a period of years, and her Yale education has clearly done little for her skills at hermeneutics. If Ms. Zeavin were a better interpreter of meanings, she would grasp the fact that fraternity initiations are ordeals intended to demonstrate the pledge’s worthiness for admission to membership by his voluntary undergoing humiliation and suffering. The misogynistic chants and sign were, obviously, intended to embarrass and inflict discomfort on the initiates, so one must be awfully dense to interpret them as authentic representations of the political views and moral sentiments of those pledges. If DEKE sent them out chanting, “I’m a conventional, politically correct Ivy League undergraduate who supports Barack Obama,” there would have been no ordeal to it at all.
Hannah Zeavin and her fellows, who chose to make a federal case out of nothing, are either viciously irresponsible and malicious or as dumb as a bag full of hammers. Which is it, womynists?
Zeavin seems uncertain about whether her years at Yale are the “the shortest, gladdest years of life.” She doesn’t feel that she “necessarily” thinks hers are, and that has to be Yale’s fault. If an academical auto-da-fé burned sexist males on the Old Campus once a week every Tuesday, clearly Ms. Zeavin would have a spring in her step as she went off to classes.
It is the absence of such public manifestations of protective authority which bother her, it seems. “No one has ever been expelled for rape and there have been 41 years of coeducation.” Zeavin observes. It is, I think, generally known that some authentic rapes have occurred at Yale. Several were committed by intruders from the nearby inner city underclass community. A major explosion of new security measures, locked gates, cameras everywhere, buses to Science Hill, followed. I think I can recall hearing, many years ago, of an authentic rape by one undergraduate of another, but rather than expulsion, I would expect that such an incident would have led to arrest and incarceration. The removal of that kind of offender from society would tend to render his expulsion from Yale beside the point.
The university naturally avoids publicizing attacks and assaults on students, so reliable statistics and detailed factual accounts are unlikely to be readily available to the leaders of Yale feminism.
The final evidence of an intolerably hostile atmosphere for women at Yale was another trivial politically incorrect scandal from 2009, an anonymous email ranking 53 freshmen women in order of attractiveness. Obviously, a federal injunction needs to be issued commanding Yale men to stop making comparative judgments about female Yale undergraduates’ sexual attractiveness, and if Yale men persist and ignore that federal order, Barack Obama can federalize the Connecticut National Guard and send soldiers with rifles and bayonets to stop male students from checking out the available female talent.
[Yale] University is under investigation by the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights stemming from an alleged mishandling of several instances of sexual misconduct in recent years.
The Office for Civil Rights will open an investigation into the University “for its failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus, in violation of Title IX” — which prohibits discrimination or exclusion from education programs — according to a press release by the complainants sent to the News Thursday afternoon. Yale administrators said they have not yet received a copy of the complaint and cannot comment.
The measure comes after 16 Yale students and alumni filed a formal complaint March 15 informing the Office for Civil Rights about Yale’s breach of Title IX by citing a slew of “inadequate response[s]” to public episodes of sexual misconduct on campus, such as the controversial Delta Kappa Epsilon chanting incident on Old Campus last fall.
“We have tried so many avenues,” complainant Hannah Zeavin ’12 told the News Thursday. “We exhausted every internal process [available at Yale].”
Alumna Presca Ahn (Branford ‘10) details the unspeakable outrages that drove sixteen of Yale’s daughters to turn Mother Yale in.
On March 15, 16 students and recent alumnae of Yale filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights; I was one of them. The signatories were a diverse group, representing men and women, current students and recent graduates, those who have been involved in campus feminism and those who have not. The complaint itself was a detailed and heavily sourced 26-page document that outlined incidents of sex-based harassment and intimidation that have occurred at Yale every year for the past seven years, and argued that these incidents — and the University’s inadequate response to them — have resulted in a hostile educational environment for women at Yale. ...
For the past seven years, Yale has demonstrated… tolerance towards harassment of women: in 2004, when fraternity members stole (and photographed themselves wearing) four t-shirts from the annual Take Back the Night Clothesline Project, in which past victims of rape record their testimonies on t-shirts and display them; in 2005, when a new class of fraternity pledges stole 20 more of the t-shirts; in 2006, when yet another class of pledges gathered by the Yale Women’s Center and chanted, “No means yes! Yes means anal!”; in 2007, when over 150 Medical School students wrote a letter of protest about the conditions of sexual harassment on campus in which eight specific instances of sexual assault were cited; in 2008, when Zeta Psi pledges posed in front of the Yale Women’s Center with a poster reading, “We Love Yale Sluts,” photographed themselves in the pose, and disseminated the photo on Facebook; in 2009, when anonymous male students at Yale authored and circulated a “Preseason Scouting Report” e-mail that rated incoming freshman women according to how many beers it would take to have sex with them, and listing their names, hometowns and residential colleges; and this past October, when DKE pledges congregated on Old Campus chanting, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I f—- dead women and fill them with my semen.”
So what do we mean when we say that Yale is a hostile environment for women? What we don’t mean is that every female student at Yale has experienced sexual harassment or assault. What we mean is that the University has consistently demonstrated an attitude of tolerance for highly public acts of misogyny and sexual aggression. Female undergraduates see their peers call them “Yale sluts” and hear still other peers chant that “no means yes.” They live with the knowledge that the University has failed to punish those peers for sexual harassment. It takes little imagination to understand the effect of this kind of atmosphere on female students’ ability to engage in campus life on a basis of safety and equality.
Oh me! oh my! Stolen t-shirts! Frat members displaying “Yale Sluts” posters… and on Facebook, too! DKE pledge chanting slogans which were crude!
And no one was expelled or conspicuously punished and ostracized for politically incorrect expressions in mocking and parodistic contexts. It is easy to understand how the failure of President Levin personally to horsewhip those rowdy and insensitive fraternity men inevitably drove Yale’s womynist leaders to drop a dime on their alma mater.
After all, as a lot of Old Blues warned back when Kingman Brewster started talking about coeducating the place in the 1960s, many womyn are just to emotionally frail, too politically refined and sensitive, to bear uncouth, oppositional speech or mocking expressions of political incorrectness.
Such females may suffer untoward intellectual confusion, ideological indignation, and hyper-emotional distress. They may suffer from feelings of persecution and harassment. Thus, a real sector of the female community cannot possible function at an equal level in a university environment which naturally and inevitably features high-spirited young men, and in which ideas and perspectives are intended to be challenged, ridiculed, and vigorously contested. Some of these poor lambs are simply too delicate, too frail, too easily upset for all that.
Females of this kind need protection. As we see, some 16 unhappy Yale womynists felt vulnerable and persecuted, simply because their preferred ideological positions had been mocked or derided on several occasions in the course of a period of years, and no masculine protector had come forward to avenge them. In the end, they had to turn to the ultimate alternative masculine surrogate, Big Brother himself.
I was talking about all this with one of my pre-coeducation friends from Bones and DKE, just this afternoon.
“I warned you that this kind of thing was bound to happen.” Tripp observed, taking another sip of his gin-and-tonic. “Political ideas and higher education just mess up some female heads. They become fanatical and they egg one another on. Sexual frustration, of course, is endemic among politicized females. And the combination of sexual frustration and their hormonal cycle leads directly to delusions of victimization, paranoia, and vicious and destructive behavior. Imagine complaining about Yale to the Federal Government! It’s the behavior of a cad and a bounder, but for a politicized feminist it’s par for the course. That radical Brewster sowed the seeds, and Levin is reaping the harvest.”
Last Wednesday, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity annual pledge hazing ritual took the form of open defiance of political correctness. Pledges were required to march across the Old Campus, blindfolded, hands on each other’s shoulders in a human chain, chanting deliberately outrageous expressions of anti-feminist machismo.
Some of the slogans used included: “No means yes, yes means anal” and “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I f—- dead women.”
Persons of normal intelligence would realize, of course, that the purpose of such an activity would be to test the courage and commitment of those aspiring to join the fraternity by subjecting them to an ordeal exposing them to personal humiliation and to a certain amount of genuine risk.
Since America and Yale are both presided over today by prigs and nincompoops with less than normal intelligence and overdeveloped faculties of indignation, the risk was clearly a bit greater than the officers of Yale’s DKE chapter had expected.
Deep thinkers in the national media and the Academe, people like Tracy Clark-Flury at Salon, the management of Yale’s Women’s Center, Yale College Dean Mary Miller , and Feminist and Queer Studies Prof Melanie Boyd who doubles as Special Advisor to the Dean of Yale College on Gender Issues, all got their knickers in a twist and began blathering about “hate speech,” “sexism,” and “verbal assault.”
Inevitably, a forum on “Yale’s Sexual Climate” (which I would have guessed would be intensely favorable) was held, allegedly representing “the first step in a long process of dialogue and systemic change.”
An apology was extorted from the fraternity’s president, the international DKE organization suspended the Yale chapter’s pledge activities, and the virago enforcer of political correctness indulged in a few threats.
I wouldn’t say the question of disciplinary action has disappeared from the conversation,” [Melanie] Boyd said.
One Yale Daily News commenter found it ironic that DKE was being so thoroughly pilloried for tongue-in-cheek outrageous expressions, while the Yale Women’s Center in complete earnestness has taken the following positions:
Women who choose to act as stay-at-home moms are traitors to their gender
Capitalism is anti-feminist
The United States is the most anti-woman nation in the world
All hierarchies are by definition patriarchal since hierarchy and structure are masculine constructs
Post-birth abortion should be legalized (see: Peter Singer)
There is no biological difference between men and women – it is entirely a social construct
The overwhelming majority of men at Yale actively and knowingly attempt to oppress women in their everyday lives
Gendered pronouns (ie: he or she) are relics of a bigoted society.
Marriage is sexual slavery
Letting the man pay on a date is tantamount to prostitution
Directed Studies is an attempt to defend the patriarchy
Women who vote Republican are brainwashed
Religion was designed to oppress women
Condoms are patriarchal since they put men in control of safe sex
Condoms are feminist since they let women avoid pregnancy
Men should be required to submit their DNA to a database upon entering college, since 1 in 4 women is raped in college.
Women on college campuses are being paid $500 each to hand out coupons while wearing fitted sweatpants with “Double Down” in large letters across their rear ends.
The promo comes as KFC is in the doldrums domestically. The world’s largest chicken chain’s U.S. same-store sales fell 7% in the second quarter. Nearly all its growth now is in international expansion.
Last week, the chain confessed that more than six in 10 Americans ages 18 to 25 — the chain’s key demographic — couldn’t identify who Colonel Sanders was in the KFC logo.
Now, it’s turning to cute women parading around campus with “Double Down” emblazoned across their fannies.
The nation’s largest women’s group doesn’t like it one bit. “It’s so obnoxious to once again be using women’s bodies to sell fundamentally unhealthy products,” says Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. What’s more, she says, KFC has forgotten something important: Women make more than half the decisions about what to eat for dinner.
But KFC marketing chief John Cywinski says it’s an effective way to catch the attention of young men — KFC’s key customers and the biggest fans of Double Down.
As of Tuesday afternoon, KFC had received no complaints about the campaign, KFC spokesman Rick Maynard says. “We’ve taken a page out of the book of some apparel companies and sororities who have promoted in this way for years,” Maynard says.
The program began last week at Spalding University in downtown Louisville. The chain plans to expand it to at least three more campuses. The additional schools and the women there will be picked via a Facebook promotion.
Over at Michelle Malkin, Doug Powers reflected on the controversy.
Naturally, the people whose only offers to use their butts as billboards come from Goodyear are taking offense.
Mark Steyn tries to make sense of the left’s defense of fundamentalism Islam against the criticism of a female Somali intellectual.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s great cause is women’s liberation. Unfortunately for her, the women she wants to liberate are Muslim, so she gets minimal support and indeed a ton of hostility from Western feminists who have reconciled themselves, consciously or otherwise, to the two-tier sisterhood: when it comes to clitoridectomies, forced marriages, honour killings, etc., multiculturalism trumps feminism. Liberal men are, if anything, even more opposed. She long ago got used to the hectoring TV interviewer, from Avi Lewis on the CBC a while back to Tavis Smiley on PBS just the other day, insisting that say what you like about Islam but everyone knows that Christians are just as backward and violent, if not more so. The media left spends endless hours and most of its interminable awards ceremonies congratulating itself on its courage, on “speaking truth to power,” the bravery of dissent and all the rest, but faced with a pro-gay secular black feminist who actually lives it they frost up in nothing flat.
The latest is Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Reviewing Ayaan’s new book Nomad, he begins:
“She has managed to outrage more people—in some cases to the point that they want to assassinate her—in more languages in more countries on more continents than almost any writer in the world today. Now Hirsi Ali is working on antagonizing even more people in yet another memoir.”
That’s his opening pitch: if there are those who wish to kill her, it’s her fault because she’s a provocateuse who’s found a lucrative shtick in “working on antagonizing” people. The Times headlines Kristof’s review “The Gadfly,” as if she’s a less raddled and corpulent Gore Vidal. In fact, she wrote a screenplay for a film; Muslim belligerents threatened to kill her and her director; they made good on one half of that threat. This isn’t shtick.
But Kristof decides to up the condescension. Of the author’s estrangement from her Somali relatives, he writes: “I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps Hirsi Ali’s family is dysfunctional simply because its members never learned to bite their tongues and just say to one another: ‘I love you.’ ”
Awwwww. Group hug! Works every time.
But maybe not so much in Somalia. This isn’t a family where they bite their tongues but where they puncture their clitorises. At the age of five, Ayaan was forced to undergo “FGM” (female genital mutilation), or, in the new non-judgmental PC euphemism, “cutting.” When she had her first period, her mother beat her. When she was 22, her father arranged for her to marry a cousin in Canada. While in Germany awaiting the visa for her wedded bliss in Her Majesty’s multicultural utopia, she decided to skip out, and fled to the Netherlands.
All she wanted was a chance to do what Nicholas Kristof takes for granted—to live her own life. What difference would saying “I love you” in a Lifestyle Channel soft-focus blur accompanied by saccharine strings make? As they see it, the perpetrators of “honour killings” love their daughters: that’s why they kill ’em. Would Kristof wish to swap his options for the set menu served up to Muslim women? How would he like it if, just as he was getting ready to head to Oxford on his Rhodes Scholarship, his dad had announced that he’d arranged for him to marry a cousin? Oh, and in Canada.
Which brings me to my big philosophical difference with Ms. Hirsi Ali: in 2006, she was one of a dozen intellectuals to publish a manifesto against radical Islam and in defence of “secular values for all.” Often in her speeches, she’ll do a heartwarming pitch to all of us—“black, white, gay, straight”—to stand firm for secular humanism. My problem with this is that, in Europe and elsewhere, liberal secularism is not the solution to the problem but the vacuum in which a resurgent globalized Islam has incubated. ...
In a way, the Western left’s hostility to Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes my point for me. In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman wrote that suicide bombings “produced a philosophical crisis, among everyone around the world who wanted to believe that a rational logic governs the world.” In other words, it has to be about “poverty” or “social justice” because the alternative—that they want to kill us merely because we are the other—undermines the hyper-rationalist’s entire world view. Thus, every pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-black Western liberal’s determination to blame Ayaan Hirsi Ali for the fact that a large number of benighted thuggish halfwits want to kill her. Deploring what he regards as her simplistic view of Islam, Nicholas Kristof rhapsodizes about its many fine qualities—“There is also the warm hospitality toward guests, including Christians and Jews.” ...
As Paul Mirengoff of the Power Line blog observes, traditionally when useful idiots shill for illiberal ideologies it requires at least “the illusion of progressivism” to bring them on board. Islam can’t provide that, but that’s no obstacle to getting the bien pensants to sign up. As much as anyone, secular leftists want meaning in their lives. But Communism went belly up; the postwar welfare state is bankrupt; environmentalism has taken a hit in recent months; and Christianity gives them the vapours. Nicholas Kristof will not be the first great thinker to talk himself into a view of Islam as this season’s version of Richard Gere Buddhism.
At a superficial level, the Islamo-leftist alliance makes no sense: gay feminist secular hedonists making common cause with homophobic misogynist proscriptive theocrats. From Islam’s point of view, it’s an alliance of convenience. But I would bet that more than a few lefties will wind up embracing Islam to one degree or another before we’re done.
Mark Steyn omits consideration of the irresistible leftwing impulse toward treason and the embrace of the cause of the Other, which becomes increasingly passionate and compelling in direct proportion to the evil and/or inferiority of the particular hostile Other. The leftist, in the case of Islam, manages to enjoy the piquant pleasure of combining the sensations of pleasure attendant upon fulfilling the role of society dowager defending the minority footpad from the police with taking another whack at Western Civilization.
Sarah Palin with husband Todd attending the Belmont Stakes
And some anonymous hatchet-wielder at Wonkette accuses Sarah Palin of surgical enhancement. That’s the left for you. Their mind is always in the gutter and they judge everyone by their own standards.
Watch Andrew Sullivan climb all over this one.
Lori Ziganto notes how the left, as usual, missed the real story while focusing on trivia and spite.
Rachel Larimore, at Slate’s Double X, asked about the primary wins [Tuesday] night, “Where is the rah-rah sisterhood?”
The overriding theme of Tuesday night’s primary coverage was that it was a big night for female politicians. But there is a noticeable dearth of rah-rah sisterhood going on (though the National Review is pretty excited).
She further noted that the only talk amongst the Left, and feminists in particular, regarding this big night for conservative women was rather nasty comments about said women and lamenting that they were conservatives. Icky businesswomen, to boot! One even asked, “Do you still cheer if the ceiling is crashed by two conservative businesswomen?” ...
[A] big part of [the story of ] last night’s primary wins was that Sarah Palin had endorsed most of the winners, indicating that she does, in fact, wield quite a bit of power and has great pull with large segments of the population. Not everyone has to like Sarah Palin, but even those who don’t, should respect her, if only for the fact that she’s changed the national debate at least twice sheerly through her own Facebook postings. She is one of the best spokespeople we have right now. She pulls no punches and talks straight.
So, what is the story circulating among the lefty blogs and now worming its way into traditional media regarding Sarah Palin today? Not the success of the candidates she endorsed, but, rather, her breasts. That’s right. The big question of the day, first promulgated by the always inane Wonkette, is whether or not Sarah Palin had breast implants. I suppose we should just be grateful that it’s not incessant investigation of her uterus again, although I’m sure Andrew “I’ve finally lost my already weak grasp on sanity” Sullivan will work that in somehow.
UPDATE and CORRECTION:
She looks pretty similar to me in this August 2008 issue cover picture
Hmmm. Commenter Funkyphd informs me that the Vogue cover picture I referred to, which is all over the web, is a Photoshop fake. Thanks to Funkyphd.
I fell for it, I expect, because I knew that there really had been a Vogue feature on Palin published about that time.
So what can we find in its place? How about this 1984 Beauty Pageant picture
and the 0:37 video of her apearance in the swimsuit competition?
Years ago, when I was living in Washington (D.C.), I was in a bookstore — Kramer Books. (I think they do “KramerBooks” or something — can’t remember. Names are all smashed up like that now, for some reason.) Two youngish men, a clerk and a customer, were discussing a mutual friend — a woman. The clerk said, “Did you hear [So-and-So] had a baby?” The customer said, “No, that’s great. Boy or girl?” The clerk gulped and replied, somewhat rebukefully, “She had a woman.”
You know that Spring is really here when young activist women march topless in Portland, Maine to protest discriminatory laws about exposing the upper body in public.
Tactically, the use of the sight of nubile female breasts with the object of punishing the phallocratic enemy might seem a bit ill-conceived and fundamentally ineffective, but the more sophisticated of us realize that demonstrations always have multiple and diverse goals and that, particularly in the Spring, some young women just enjoy flaunting their assets.
Some people’s jaws hit the ground, plenty of men showed up with cameras, and others – including parents with their children – were just plain offended, as almost two dozen topless women marched in Maine’s largest city.
The women drew a crowd of over 500 onlookers when they shed their shirts and marched in downtown Portland on Saturday to promote what they call “equal-opportunity public toplessness.”
Organizer Ty MacDowell said the point of the march was that a topless woman out in public shouldn’t attract any more attention than a man who walks around without a shirt.
Good luck with that.
According to The Portland Press Herald, by the end of the march more than 500 people had amassed – a mix of marchers, young men snapping photos, oglers and people just out enjoying a warm sunny day.
“We should be able to walk down the street and not have this many men taking pictures of us,” a participant shouted.