Category Archive 'Multiculturalism'
06 Nov 2019

Education at Yale Today

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Make-up-wearing students lie on the floor protesting outside Yale Global Affairs classroom.

The Oldest College Daily‘s latest this morning featured the following item.

Five Yale students staged a protest outside of Global Affairs professor Emma Sky’s classroom on Tuesday afternoon after University administrators forbade them from entering and distributing a pamphlet criticizing the professor.

“Open your eyes, open your ears, you are being taught by those you should fear,” chanted the protestors, disrupting Sky’s 110-minute Global Affairs class titled Middle East Politics. Protestors — Zulfiqar Mannan ’20, Casey Odesser ’20, Hazal Özgür ’20, Nika Zarazvand ’20 and Francesca Maviglia MPH ’20 — said they initially intended to enter Sky’s seminar and distribute pamphlets calling their professor a war criminal.

But a Yale Police Department officer and Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar prevented students from entering the classroom. …

In an interview after the protest, Odesser told the News that she thought the University’s response to the protest foreclosed discussion about Sky’s previous involvement in Afghanistan.

“I am incredibly disappointed with the way that the University rejected our proposal to honestly, earnestly and creatively engage with [the students in the class],” Odesser said. “I’m appalled and horrified at how no one will talk to us engage with us and instead perceive us as a threat.”

According to Mannan, who is a staff writer for the News, the project was largely inspired by “the revolutionary aspect” of Paradise Lost and draws inspiration from the Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and Shaikh Sarmad.

While Mannan and Odesser received a Creative and Performing Arts Award from Morse College for their project, the college is now “re-evaluating if they are still able” to fund the project, Mannan said. The reason for the college’s reevaluation remains unclear. The Morse Head of College Office could not be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

Odesser said that the project was not meant to be disruptive. She explained that the group had originally planned to “perform a slinky, sexy catwalk” into the classroom and silently place a pamphlet on each of the students’ desks. She said she believed that many students in Sky’s class have “not confronted the levels of hypocrisy and violence — like white feminism — that is propagated by her class.”


Zulfiqar Mannan ’20 shares (I’m not sure what possessive pronoun’s) viewpoint on the protest.

RTWT

Looking at all this, I inevitably wonder why so many exotic specimens of humanity from remote parts of the world, holding alien worldviews, with native perspectives often unfriendly to the United States, are given places in the undergraduate student body at Yale.

I cannot help but think that out there somewhere are five Christian All-American A-student American Eagle Scout heterosexuals far better qualified to provide leadership to this country. Yale was founded to supply Congregationalist ministers to the Colony of Connecticut. Extending that charter obligation to provide leaders in a variety of fields to the nation was a logical evolutionary development. Exactly why and how that mission has been extended to the provision of sexually-ambiguous pseudo-intellectual activists to the Middle East seems mysterious to me.

And, yes, I think plenty of alumni would like to know what Morse College thinks it is doing funding this kind of thing.

02 Apr 2019

Heathrow Not Very British Anymore

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Heathrow Airport Concourse.

The Zman is not a big admirer of “diversity” and “inclusion.”

The first leg of my journey was a stop in London. When booking the trip, the cheapest flight took me through Heathrow, with a half day layover. I hate having to run to make connections, as that often ends in me missing my connection, so I don’t mind a few hour gap between flights. Having almost a full day between flights was not ideal, but it beat the alternatives when I was booking the flight. My plan was to leave the airport and do a quick tour of London, but that plan got scuttled by British security.

When leaving the airport’s secure area, I was pulled aside for the rubber glove treatment by whatever they call their security forces. I was taken to a room and asked the usual questions. Then they asked to examine my phone, which got them upset, as there is nothing on it other than some classical music I loaded for the trip. I keep nothing on my phone as a rule. This one is brand new, so the browser does not even have some history on it. That lack of a information seemed to upset them.

That led them to ask to look at my laptop. I use a travel laptop, so if something happens, I’m not missing important parts of my life. This one I just setup with Linux and a new solid state drive. This only increased their anxiety, so we spent an hour or so playing Petrovich and Raskolnikov. My Russian visa did not help matters. I’ve gone through this a couple of times in American airports, but this seemed different. Maybe I’m imagining things, but I got the strong sense of being on a list. Maybe it was just the culture gap.

You see, that’s the other thing. The British Starsky and Hutch were Apu and Mustafa, two brown guys from over the rainbow. Their English was fine, but it had the hint of the exotic, suggesting they grew up speaking something other than English at home. They also had the narrowness that is typical of the South Asian. There’s always a barrier that exists between the Occidental and the Oriental, despite the degree of shared experience. There is an inscrutableness there that always leaves a degree of uncertainty between us…

After getting sprung from gaol, I was free to explore the giant shopping mall that is the Heathrow airport. The best I could tell, all of the employees were either brown people from over the horizon or Eastern Europeans. I got something to eat and all of the wait staff was not British. Given the international flavor of the passengers, you would be hard pressed to know you were in the heart of Britain. They don’t even have televisions playing the BBC or local sporting events. Heathrow is a foreign country disguised as an airport…

I’ve been in a great many airports in my life and I have a weird fascination for them. Most airports serving big cities are really just complex systems that have evolved over many years to solve evolving problems of air travel. An airport is a solution for a problem of modern life. As a result, you can learn a lot about the evolution of human organization by observing what happens at the big airports. Their design is similar everywhere, but everywhere is not the same, so the airport says something about the local culture. …

On the fight from Lagos to London, a couple of Africans were across the aisle, one row up, from where I was sitting. Both were dressed up in what Hollywood tells us is traditional African dress for African royalty. Their accents suggested Ghana to me. At some point, the male got very agitated at the person in front of him, who had reclined her chair. He started violently shaking her chair-back and hollering something. Two stewards came over and gave him a lecture about his behavior and airplane etiquette.

Watching the two of them struggle to understand how to be passengers on an airplane, I realized what it would be like to bring Stone Age people into this age. The two of them were just too dumb to navigate plane transport. They were frustrated by the food service process. They struggled to understand simple directions. When the plane landed, they got up and started walking down the aisle, while the plane was still taxiing to the gate. They are primitives incapable of existing in a modern society, without constant supervision…

Walking around Heathrow, it is easy to see why our rulers love multiculturalism. They look at the diversity you see at a big intentional airport and they think of it as the Casablanca of this age. It makes them feel worldly and sophisticated. That brown guy in their department with the perfect continental English is not just a colleague. He is a symbol of what makes them special. They are not provincials. They are worldly cosmopolitans. They never see the other side of it. They just see the good part of the transaction.

RTWT

15 Apr 2018

“Civilizations”

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The late Kenneth Clark.

The BBC has decided to attempt to rebut Kenneth Clark’s magisterial tour d’horizon of Western Art, the 13-part 1969 television series “Civilization.” This rejoinder on behalf of our contemporary Woke Multicultural Establishment begins appearing Tuesday evening in the United States on PBS.

Kenneth Clark singlehandedly took viewers from Greek Antiquity to the 20th Century, but correcting Clark’s Eurocentric emphasis on Dead White Great Men apparently requires three presenters: Classicist Mary Beard, the talented (but respectably progressive) historian Simon Schama, and (the Nigerian and therefore full-fledged representative of the viewpoint of persons and cultures of Color) David Olusoga.

Andrew Ferguson, at the Weekly Standard, has seen the series, and warns us what to expect:

[Civilizations] is kind of Clark-like —a catalogue of glorious creations followed by a vision of an art form in an advanced state of spiritual exhaustion. The difference is that the decline of an art form saddened Clark. Each of the episodes of Civilisations that I’ve seen ends with a celebratory profile of a contemporary artist. Invariably their work suffers in comparison with what’s gone before—how could it not?—but the moments serve a summary purpose.

The episode called “How Do We Look?” closes with Kehinde Wiley, the artist who recently completed the official presidential portrait of Barack Obama. The narrator describes Wiley as a practitioner of “the modern art of the body,” which “draws its power” from “challenging the tradition of classical art.” Of course he lives in Brooklyn but “he has traveled all over the world to explore the legacy of colonialism and the different ways we see.” Suddenly we see him in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, moving from masterpiece to masterpiece. A tinny ensemble plays Vivaldi—a fusty reminder of the distant past. “I love the history of art,” he tells the camera. “I love looking at these beautiful images. But I also recognize that there’s something quite sinister about their past.”

“Sinister” sounds judgmental, doesn’t it? So judgmental indeed that I don’t think even Clark used it at all in his Civilisation. But it nicely summarizes the attitude toward the West that viewers of the new Civilisations will find unavoidable, even if they’re confident enough to find it unpersuasive.

Next to life-enhancing, the most important word in Clark’s account of civilization was confidence. Several things came together to make a civilization, Clark said: a measure of material prosperity, a sense of history, a range of vision, and a feeling of permanence, of being situated in a particular moment between past and future, that makes it worthwhile to construct things meant to last.

“But far more,” he said, “it requires confidence—confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, confidence in one’s own mental powers.” His program was an effort to persuade his audience that confidence in their inherited civilization was well-earned.

In the closing moments of the final episode of Civilisation, Clark intended to strike a note of optimism. “When I look at the world about me in the light of these programs, I don’t at all feel as though we are entering on a new period of barbarism,” he said. He shows us the campus of the then-new University of East Anglia. Apple-cheeked college students pop in and out of classrooms, labor over books—the baby boomers as Clark hoped they were in 1969. “These inheritors of all our catastrophes look cheerful enough. . . . In fact, I should doubt if so many people have ever been as well-fed, as well-read, as bright-minded, as curious, and as critical as the young are today.”

Watching at home, we can assume, was the 14-year-old Mary Beard, all a-tingle and raring to go to college herself, where she could use her curiosity and reading and bright-mindedness to prove the great man and his theory wrong.

RTWT

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A recent biography of Kenneth Clark and his “Civilization” series was recently discussed here.

15 Jan 2018

The Progressives Are Coming For the Alamo!

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Clash America is warning us:

The plan to ‘reimagine’ the Alamo is well underway… and it’s a giant load of crap.

A plan to restore and ‘reimagine’ the Alamo been in the works for some years, and it’s not just a sprucing up of the place.

It’s a whole new ‘reimagined’ Alamo that won’t focus on the battle that the site is known for.

The Master Planner of the project, George Skarmeas, said, ‘We cannot single out one moment in time.’ …

The Master Plan includes items that cover 300 years of history but will focus on the diversity of cultures of the area. The plan includes being ‘inclusive’ by ‘telling all sides of the military story’.

People in Texas need to stop this.

08 Oct 2017

Colonialism vs. Multiculturalism

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“The settlement of other continents by Europeans is called colonialism. The settlement of Europe by people from other continents is called multiculturalism and emergence of a global society.” –Anonymous.

HT: Instapundit.

15 Sep 2017

Ikea Humans

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Samuel Biagetti finds an important parallel between the youthful middle-class community of fashion’s preference in furniture and its inner life.

Suppose for the moment that our young couple of today… Jennifer and Jason, are members of the upper middle class, living off their smarts and social connections rather than manual work. They live in the Sun Belt, in some newly gentrifying neighborhood of Queens, or in its equivalent in Montreal or Melbourne. They have college degrees and, even more importantly, college friends, which help to pull them up the slippery slope of middle-class employment. They are part of a scrambled white-collar workforce, drawn from all parts of the country and abroad, a lumpenbourgeoisie squeezing itself into selected wards of a few expensive cities. They follow trends in food, and music, and long-form television. Their politics are probably (but not definitely) liberal.

Let us further entertain the idea that in our time as in Dickens’, life imitates furniture, and that we will learn something about our young couple if we consider where they house their underwear. If we picture Jennifer and Jason’s bedroom, it is not hard to guess what we would see there: a good deal of IKEA. Their IKEA dressers are probably black or white, or maybe covered in a veneer — something light but earthy, such as birch. Beneath the veneer, however, is not a cheaper wood like local poplar, but particle board — a material that would befuddle Dickens and his contemporaries.

Consider more closely where this IKEA dresser and its underlying substance came from. That story begins at a logging camp somewhere in the world — quite possibly in an illegally harvested old-growth forest in Russia or China. (It is impossible to say exactly, since IKEA has torpedoed laws that would require them to disclose their sources.) The loggers in this mystery forest fell trees of various sorts and pass them on to a logging company that might manage scores of camps. The logging company then sells the trees to a sawmill which gathers material from several dozen logging companies and cuts them into boards. Several sawmills in a region then supply the lumber to a larger board-mill that cuts the wood into even smaller pieces. Small suppliers buy the board from several board-mills and transport a portion of it to large suppliers, which in turn gather and pulverize the various materials in a chemical soup and press it into lighter, cheaper chunks. IKEA then buys this “composite material” to cut into the components of a Malm or Hemnes, sorts it into boxes, and distributes it to over 300 stores around the world, leaving the final assembly to the customers. Even a simple desk or dresser contains, by IKEA’s own admission, at least 26 different species of wood from at least 18 different countries — and usually far more. The result is a sleek but crumbly piece of furniture, sure to camouflage into any new apartment. Jennifer and Jason use their dressers every day without a thought as to the work or the materials that made them.

We must not sneer at Jennifer and Jason, many readers are sure to point out, for choosing IKEA. Their incomes, though high in the global scale, are likely to be lower than their parents’ were, and they often have to move in order to climb the employment ladder. It is only reasonable for them to buy something inexpensive, transportable, and replaceable. IKEA fulfills an important niche in the middle-class market — for cheap furniture that still retains a semblance of respectability. The company has exploited this market to become the global empire that Sweden never had, a kind of Viking revenge on the modern age.

Still, there is a good chance that Jennifer and Jason actually like their IKEA dressers, and prefer them to the old oak chest that their grandparents tried to foist on them. Indeed, the extraordinary popularity of IKEA testifies not only to its convenience but to its ability to appeal to the middle-class self-image. Jennifer and Jason are drawn to IKEA because it reflects who they are: they too are modern, movable, and interchangeable, their wants satisfiable in any neighborhood with a food co-op and a coffee shop. More fundamentally, Jennifer and Jason are untraceable, a “composite material” made from numberless scraps and pieces. They have a long catalog of home towns, and their accents are NPR neutral. They can probably rattle off the various nationalities in their family trees — Dutch, Norwegian, Greek, and Jewish, maybe some Venezuelan or Honduran for a little color. From these backgrounds they retain no more than a humorous word or phrase, a recipe, or an Ellis Island anecdote, if that. They grew up amidst a scramble of white-collar professionals and went to college with a scramble of white-collar professionals’ kids. Their values are defined mainly by mass media, their tastes adorably quirky but never straying too far from their peers’, and like the IKEA furniture that they buy in boxes, they too cut themselves into manageable, packaged pieces and market themselves online. They are probably “spiritual but not religious.” They have no pattern or model of life that bears any relation to the past before the internet. For all intents and purposes, they sprang up de novo in the modern city. Whereas the Veneerings’ high fashion covered over an essential vulgarity, Jennifer’s and Jason’s urbane style masks a hollowness.

It may be tempting to call Jennifer and Jason, and the the group of people whom they represent, “cosmopolitans.” ( And indeed, IKEA, with its vaguely exotic Swedish names, provides a dash of cosmopolitanism on the cheap.) However, Jennifer and Jason are something newer and more bizarre than cosmopolitans: as Ross Douthat aptly pointed out in the wake of the Trump election, the increasingly insulated college-educated classes of the coastal cities do not grapple with real, substantive differences in beliefs and values, associating instead with cliques of like-minded classmates. …

Conversely, we must also avoid cheap epithets. The word “cosmopolitan” is a double-edged sword – long a shibboleth for worldly sophistication, it has lately turned upon its makers, serving as a political weapon against urban liberals; it is not surprising that a Trump spokesman recently attacked the “cosmopolitan bias” of a journalist who questioned the White House’s immigration policies. There is nothing particularly new or insightful about attacking urbanites tainted by association with the foreign, like the Judean exiles railing against the silken whores of Babylon. Still, as shallow and hackneyed as this rhetorical strategy might be, it packs a populist punch because the very concept of “cosmopolitan” is purely relative: since no one, legally speaking, is a citizen of the world, one can be “cosmopolitan” only in contrast to someone else – a “provincial” in the Victorian terminology, or a “xenophobe” in contemporary talk. In other words, the idea of cosmopolitanism carries an unavoidable subtext of class superiority.

Therefore, to be precise, the class of people of whom I am speaking are “cosmopolitan” neither in the idealized nor in the demonized sense of the word. They neither bridge deep social differences in search of the best in human experience, nor debase themselves with exotic foreign pleasures. Rather, they have no concept of foreignness at all, because they have no native traditions against which to compare. Indeed, the very idea of a life shaped by inherited custom is alien to our young couple. When Jennifer and Jason try to choose a restaurant for dinner, one of them invariably complains, “I don’t want Italian, because I had Italian last night.” It does not occur to them that in Italy, most people have Italian every night. For Jennifer and Jason, cuisines, musical styles, meditative practices, and other long-developed customs are not threads in a comprehensive or enduring way of life, but accessories like cheap sunglasses, to be casually picked up and discarded from day to day. Unmoored, undefined, and unaware of any other way of being, Jennifer and Jason are no one. They are the living equivalents of the particle board that makes up the IKEA dressers and IKEA nightstands next to their IKEA beds. In short, they are IKEA humans.

RTWT

HT: Vanderleun.

12 Oct 2016

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day

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indigenouspeoplesday

06 Aug 2015

How History is Taught Today

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13 Jan 2015

The Multicultural Neurosis

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multicultural-cartoon

Victor Davis Hanson explores the contradictions of the multiculturalist ideology.

For the useful idiot, multiculturalism is supposedly aimed at ecumenicalism and hopes to diminish difference by inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism. But mostly it is a narcissistic fit, in which the multiculturalist offers a cheap rationalization of non-Western pathologies, and thereby anoints himself both the moral superior to his own less critical Western peers and, in condescending fashion, the self-appointed advocate of the mostly incapable non-Westerner. …

[M]ulticulturalism is the twin of appeasement. Once Americans and Europeans declare all cultures as equal, those hostile to the West should logically desist from their aggression, in gratitude to the good will and introspection of liberal Westerners. Apologizing for the Bush war on terror, promising to close down Guantanamo, deriding the war in Iraq, reminding the world of the president’s Islamic family roots — all that is supposed to persuade the Hasans, Tsarnaevs, and Kouachis in the West that we see no differences between their cultural pedigrees and the Western paradigm they have chosen to emigrate to and at least superficially embrace. Thus the violence should cease.

At its worst, multiculturalism becomes a cheap tool in careerist fashion to both bash the West and simultaneously offer oneself as a necessary intermediary to rectify Western sins, whether as a -studies professor in the university, an activist journalist or politician, or some sort of community or social organizer.

It is always helpful to turn to Al Sharpton for an illustration of the bastardized form of almost any contemporary fad, and thus here is what he once formulated as the multicultural critique of the West: “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires. … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” Note that Sharpton was not calling for new mathematics academies in the inner city to reclaim lost African arts of superior computation. Note also that Sharpton himself did not dream up these supposed non-Western superior African achievements.

Read the whole thing.

05 Feb 2014

I Did Not Like That Coke Superbowl Ad

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I was sitting, reading a book on my eReader, yesterday over at Hunter’s Garage in Warriors Mark, waiting for new lights to be installed on the plow on my Ford pickup, so that the old truck could get its Pennsylvania inspection sticker, and my eye fell on a large box sitting on the office floor, which was labeled “horno de microonda”* and “sobre la gama.”** It also had a manufacturer’s name, but the identity of its contents was indicated to Americans in Central Pennsylvania entirely in Spanish.

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* “horno de microonda” = microwave oven — ** “sobre la gama” = over the range

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These days, you can’t purchase pretty much any product or appliance which doesn’t come with labeling and directions provided in Spanish and French with English looking like an afterthought alternative.

When I used the ATM machine in the local supermarket in Purcellville, Virginia, I used to find it mildly irritating that I had to specifically choose English as the language the transaction was going to be conducted in, ruling out choices like Vietnamese and Russian.

I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing that George Babbitt is making an effort to accommodate the needs of immigrants and visiting foreigners in American commerce, but I do think that the convenience and natural expectation of native-born citizens that our own national language would represent the default position ought to be respected.

There has been a good deal of discussion the last couple of days about language and legitimate expectation in connection with the Superbowl ad aired by Coca Cola, in which “America the Beautiful” was sung in nine different languages (Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Senegalese-French, Keres (a spectacularly obscure Amerindian language spoken in some of the Pueblos of New Mexico)… and English, which additionally featured (take that, reactionaries!) an interracial homosexual couple complete with adopted child.

Sanctimonious libs loved the ad for its alleged celebration of “diversity.” But their definition of diversity obviously excludes all normal, native-born Americans of European descent (except for about 4 seconds of a token cowboy). The America they find beautiful is the future brown-skinned majority, sexually-perverse, hijab-wearing, Third World-descended America which they are constantly predicting will shortly be replacing that objectionable earlier white, male-dominated, cis-gendered, European-descended oppressive America.

Coke’s America the Beautiful presented a 30-second vision of the American left’s multicuturalist wet dream fantasy, a brave new America composed of newly-arrived immigrants and minorities, dancing in our streets and eating our lunch, while taking self-congratulatory bows for replacing every last iota of pre-1960s American identity with their own, except –of course– for the 4-second-present cowboy at the beginning, who may really be just riding off into the sunset.

How could anyone possibly object? Aren’t we a nation of immigrants after all?

I’d say that the reason some people object is that immigrants today are commonly not what they used to be. When my own grandparents came here, around the turn of the last century, they came to escape the tyranny of the Russian Tsar and were willing to settle for a deal offering them the opportunity to take the most dangerous and unattractive kind of employment, working in the Anthracite coal mines, in return for citizenship and a New World of freedom and opportunity for their posterity.

My grandparents built their own schools and churches, read their own newspapers in their own language, and lived quietly in their own neighborhood. Today’s immigrants commonly expect special linguistic accommodation, special recognition and privileges, a welfare state, and immediate promotion into the American ruling class.

My grandparents wanted only the opportunity to make a living, the prospect of a better life for their children, and to be left alone. The American left seems to think that today’s immigrants deserve to star in Super bowl commercials. They believe the rest of us have an obligation to accommodate, recognize, and celebrate everybody else’s languages and cultures, everybody’s except, of course, for our own, the language and culture of normal native-born Americans of European descent.

Hurrah for Tagalog-speaking Filippinos, for the Senegalese and the Keres-speakers from the Pueblo, three cheers for sodomy, and to hell with the Mayflower descendants, the offspring of the pioneers who cleared the Wilderness and won the West, and screw all the Catholic European ethnics who built the modern industrial America and won the great World Wars.

15 May 2013

“Childish, Self-Aggrandizing Displays of ‘Sensitivity’ ”

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Bruce Bawer responds to the arrested development that results in liberalism.

If I’m curious about the psychology of [members of the commentariat of the left who, after events like the Benghazi Embassy attack or the Boston bombing, hurry to defend Islam]. it’s reflexive. It’s mainstream. Among urban types who view themselves as liberal-minded and sophisticated, it’s considered de rigueur to think this way about things like this. Certainly you’re obliged to think this way if you want to count on getting published in major establishment newspapers and at websites like Salon.

It’s necessary to fight jihad. But it’s equally necessary to fight this weed that has grown up among us – this decadent, despicable readiness to deny the reality of jihad, to relativize it, to make excuses for it, to blame it on us, on America.

These decadent characters take these positions, of course, because they’ve been marinated in multiculturalism and, in particular, have absorbed the all-important lesson that the great danger of our time is not Islam but the criticism thereof. Yet what made multiculturalism attractive to these people in the first place is that it’s tailor-made for spoiled, narcissistic grown children who don’t want to have adult enemies – that is, the kind of enemies who represent a real danger to them or that they might ever really have to fight. It’s tailor-made for people who cherish the notion of themselves as sensitive and understanding toward “The Other,” and whose enemies of choice are, basically, parental substitutes – people who draw clear moral distinctions, who talk about the need for security, and who make unequivocal assertions about the superiority of American freedom to Islamic tyranny.

Fighting the mental affliction – the terminal puerility – of the O’Hehirs may be even harder than fighting jihad itself. How do you repair a culture in which mature moral judgment and adult civic responsibility have systematically been replaced by childish, self-aggrandizing displays of “sensitivity”? How do you install a moral compass in a fully grown adult?

For that’s the problem, in essence: these people are missing certain working parts that are essential components of the civilized adult. First of all, they lack the imaginative capacity, and the sense of identification with their own country, to understand that the bombing in Boston wasn’t just an attack on the three people who died and the dozens others who were wounded, but was, in fact, an attack on them – and on their families and friends, their very lives, their children’s future. For all their mockery of America’s idea of itself as a “protected zone,” their supposed empathy for the jihadists is a luxury in which they’re able to indulge precisely because they think of themselves, consciously or not, as living in a “protected zone.” Like any baby in a crib, they feel safe, cocooned, impregnable – yet they don’t realize that the reason for this feeling of safety is that they’ve spent their lives in a country where the cops and the military have protected them from, well, people like the Tsarnaev brothers.

Like any child, they accept this protection as their due, their right. They take it for granted. But they don’t think of themselves as having any responsibility that accompanies this right – for example, a responsibility as citizens to the safety and well-being of the American people as a whole. No, as far as they can see, their only responsibility is to themselves. Indeed, if they can’t wrap their minds around the reality of the murderers’ dedication to the idea of jihad, and thus (in many cases) reject the possibility that it was indeed jihad that drove the Tsarnaevs to commit their heinous acts, it’s because they themselves don’t know what it means to be dedicated to anything outside of themselves – and to the preservation of their own self-image as sensitive, caring people who are too evolved to hate.

Yes, evolved. Yet of course, in reality, they’re the ones who are unevolved. Their relationship to adult moral responsibility is, again, that of small children.

Read the whole thing.

20 Feb 2013

Dalrymple (Harumph!) Reviews Zadie Smith

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Theodore Dalrymple/Zadie Smith

Old fogey, white male Theodore Dalrymple reviewing hip, young black chick Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW (as in North West London, specifically, apparently, NW6, Kilburn, once a working-class Irish neighborhood, now a lower-class varied multicultural district) promises an entertaining clash of values and perspectives.

According to Dalrymple, the celebration of the glorious diversity of it all —

Sweet stink of the hookah, couscous, kebab, exhaust fumes of a bus deadlock. . . . Polish paper, Turkish paper, Arabic, Irish, French, Russian, Spanish, News of the World. Unlock your (stolen) phone, buy a battery pack, a lighter pack, a perfume pack, sunglasses, three for a fiver, a life-size porcelain tiger, gold taps. . . . TV cable, computer cable, audiovisual cables, I give you good price, good price. Leaflets, call abroad 4 less, learn English, eyebrow wax, Falun Gong, have you accepted Jesus as your personal call plan? . . . A hundred and one ways to take cover: the complete black tent, the facial grid, back of the head, Louis Vuitton–stamped, Gucci-stamped, yellow lace, attached to sunglasses, hardly on at all, striped, candy pink; paired with tracksuits, skin-tight jeans, summer dresses, blouses, vests, gypsy skirts, flares. . . . Security lights, security gates, security walls, security trees, Tudor, Modernist, postwar, prewar, stone pineapples, stone lions, stone eagles. Face east and dream of Regent’s Park, of St. John’s Wood. The Arabs, the Israelis, the Russians, the Americans: here united by the furnished penthouse, the private clinic. If we pay enough, if we squint, Kilburn need not exist. Free meals. English as a second language. Here is the school where they stabbed the headmaster. Here is the Islamic Center of England opposite the Queen’s Arms. Walk down the middle of this, you referee, you!

— is tempered by the story of two black sisters, Keisha and Cheryl Blake. The former studies hard and becomes a wealthy and successful lawyer, the latter becomes an unwed mother living on the dole.

Keisha (who’s changed her name to Natalie) is unhappy, finding she has traded her life for a career and living only to work, while worrying about having relinquished her identity, her “authenticity.” Her sister Cheryl rejects her offers of assistance (and implicitly her familial connection and authority) preferring “independence” based upon state support.

All of which understandably lights Dalrymple’s fuse.

Natalie may not feel authentic, but this [fictional situation] certainly does. It illustrates how completely the state has smashed up family solidarity. Cheryl and the rest of Natalie’s impoverished family neither look for nor need Natalie’s help, though she is becoming a wealthy woman; they look to the state to provide. At one point, when Natalie criticizes the public housing where Cheryl lives, her sister responds, “If I wanted to get out of here I’d get another place off the council before I come to you.” For Cheryl, independence means being independent of people close to her and dependent on a bureaucratic apparatus. Nothing could be more socially atomizing, more promotional of the raging egotism exemplified in the [1995 murder of a Roman Catholic headmaster who tried to stop an interracial gang beating].

Dalrymple also has a few harsh words to say about Natalie’s class neuroses.

Natalie’s unease about her authenticity, with its undertow of guilt about her success, seems to me plausibly and truly delineated. The fact that she should feel this guilt means that she has thoroughly absorbed an egalitarian ideology, for there can be only one reason why to rise in a meritocratic society by your own efforts should occasion guilt. That reason is that one feels that everyone ought to be equal—equal in outcome—whatever one does or does not do. Though she has risen by her own merits, though what sixties radicals called “the system” has put no formal obstacles in her path, though her sister’s manacles are all mind-forg’d, Natalie cannot believe that she deserves her good fortune or that her newfound wealth is evidence of social justice rather than its opposite.

Dalrymple considers the kind of multiculturalism that Zadie Smith reflexively tries to celebrate as a social and cultural disaster featuring little mutual benefit, but rather the addle-pated surrender of Western civilization to barbarism on the basis of left-wing sentimentality and bad ideas. According to Dalrymple, Zadie Smith’s NW really offers

a bleak assessment of multicultural society, which ends not in cross-fertilization, as in fusion cooking, but in paranoia as a way of life, mutual incomprehension, egotism, and solipsism. A day-to-day tolerance of one another’s existence is an insufficient basis for an attractive or even a productive society. Something more is needed.

Interestingly, Dalrymple compares Smith’s community of fashion perspective to that of Catholic, anti-modernist French author Richard Millet, who recently published Éloge littéraire d’Anders Breivik [A Literary Elegy on Anders Breivik], who killed 77 promising young leftists at a Labor summer camp, as a kind of personal protest against the multicultural remodeling of Norway. Millet said that, though he did not approve of Breivik’s crimes, his opinion was that “Norway got what it deserved.”

I am quite interested in reading that essay, which is available, I find, only in French (via Amazon UK) in a collection of three essays titled Langue Fantôme. I have ordered a copy.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

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