Steyn on Culture
I started the day on Bill Bennett's radio show, which is always fun. Jonah Goldberg was on before me, and advanced the proposition, after the Supreme Court's almighty constitutional bender last week, that it wasn't so bad; conservatives who just pottered around in their own world and tended to their families would still be able to lead lives largely unbattered by the forces of "progress". A few minutes later, one of Bill's listeners, Claudine, came on and said that's what Germans reckoned in the 1930s: just keep your head down and the storm will pass. How'd that work out?
Claudine had the better of the argument, I think. Most of us are not cut out to swim against the tide. For one thing, it's exhausting. Tides ebb and flow, and it's easier just to go with it. In Germany, maybe if your very best pal was Jewish, you'd say something. But, if it's just the greengrocer or the elderly couple in the second-floor flat that you nod to on the stairs, do you really want to make a fuss and have arguments with your family and friends all the time? Isn't it easier just to say nothing?
In the end, most people want to be like most people. That's why they tell you the weekend movie grosses on the Monday morning news and put the Top Ten bestsellers at the front of Barnes & Noble - so that you can like what everybody else likes.
So I find the idea that tens of millions of American "traditionalist" conservatives are going to lead their own lives immune to the broader culture somewhat unlikely. Were the same-sex marriage decision, for example, merely a judicial ruling, Barack Obama would not have lit up the White House in LGBT rainbow colors. It is after all "the people's house" and half the people aren't entirely on board with this. But he chose to see this not as a mere judge's ruling but as an ideological victory - and to celebrate it as such. And he's thereby telling you that this shift is an official one, backed by the state, and state power, and it won't stop here.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in an actual bit of jurisprudential footnoting in the midst of his Hallmark greeting card on the raptures of gay love, said that organizations would still be free to teach and promote the old form of restrictive straights-only marriage. That's awfully sporting of him, but the Boy Scouts of America provide a clue as to how it's likely to work out. In the late Nineties, the BSA said no to gay scoutmasters. I was on the floor of the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles in 2000 when they had some Eagle scouts as an honor guard - and in my section of the crowd everyone booed. And I remember thinking, "Man, these Dems are nuts. Booing boy scouts?"
But the booers won. Over the next decade, gay-friendly churches (Episcopalian, Congregational, and the other post-Christian ones) booted the scouts from church halls where they'd met for decades; Disney cut them off the list of approved charities to which their employees were permitted to donate their "Ears To You" fundraising proceeds; other corporate benefactors from the US soccer league to Lockheed Martin severed their ties ...and the number of new recruits to scouting dwindled remorselessly, and so did their finances. And in the end the boy scouts' leader caved - but too late. In the blink of an eye, the boy scouts had been, as my friend Ezra Levant likes to say, "de-normalized", and banished to the fringe, and nice soccer mommies don't want l'il Jimmy playing on the extremist fringe.
That's quite an accomplishment. After all, until Democrats figured it was safe to boo them, boy scouts were so mainstream that their very name is a synonym for someone kindly and pure and good-hearted. Take litigious lunatic and Nobel Prize appropriator Michael E Mann, who says here that the argument between the global warming crowd and us deniers has been "likened at times to a fight between a boy scout and a terrorist - and you know, we are the boy scouts". Which would make me the terrorist. When Mann calls himself a "boy scout", he doesn't mean he's a homophobic hater - although I'm certainly happy to advance that line in court if it helps. Mann is using "boy scouts" as a synonym for "the good guys".
That's how effective Big Gay is: They took "the good guys", and made 'em the bad guys, in nothing flat.
How many other groups are willing to be boy-scouted in the years ahead? How much faith is there in "faith-based institutions"? Four years ago I wrote:
These "faith-based institutions" are going to stand against the new state ideology?
Who else? When you read these accounts of apparently sane members of Wisconsin's "public service" and "law enforcement" launching thug assaults with battering rams against the suburban homes of their ideological opponents, would you really want to bet that the full force of the state won't one day SWAT a "homophobic" florist to death? In a deranged culture where the Stalinist blood lust of political correctness is so insatiable that a hit TV show has to be yanked from the airwaves because of the roof of a motor vehicle driven by the characters, how many networks will be willing to countenance anyone espousing "traditional" theology or morality?
How about the forty-seven officially declared Republican presidential candidates? Marco Rubio, deferring to America's black-robed regents, says that it's now "the law of the land". So pretty pretty please, can we move on? Why prolong the agony of this latest concession when there are so many exciting concessions still to come we should be talking about?
Most people want to be like most people. Even Anthony Kennedy's just going with the flow, wouldn't you say? It doesn't have to start out as a numerical majority. It can be quite a small group of people, as long as they're the people who make the running, who frame the issues, who book the panel guests on NPR, and write all those nice domesticated characters on "Modern Family", and are marching marching marching 24/7 on that long march through the institutions. Which turned out to be not that long after all. If it's too much to expect a Supreme Court justice to stand against "Modern Family", why should anybody else?
Which folks are happy to be contrarian and swim against the tide? Gays, obviously, and the hard left, which is one reason things tend to go their way. But also Muslims. Look at that woman in the ice-cream van at the top of the page. That's a British "ice-cream lady" of the 21st century. At a certain level, it's ridiculous serving 99s and raspberry ripples in a burqa. But at another, far more important level, it's not in the least bit ridiculous: it's telling you that these guys mean it - and they've figured out that you don't.
That ice-cream lady knows she's a minority now, and part of a larger minority tomorrow, and then one day a majority. As I wrote in National Review over six years ago:
Four years later, just to underline the point, Arnoud van Doorn, the producer of Wilders's anti-Islamic film Fitna, converted to Islam.
Swimming against the tide is grueling - but tides ebb and flow. Kate McMillan doesn't think the civilizational clash between the dar al Islam and the dar al Gay is much of a showdown:
She's right on that. I don't want to wind up with a choice between the twin totalitarianisms of soulless state-regulated hyper-sexualized semi-tyranny and sharia - because, if that's what it comes down to, I know who'll win. But conservatives have spent the supposed "end of history" winning a zillion elections, and losing everything that matters. To most of the so-called millennials, conservatism is entirely invisible except as a Jon Stewart punchline - and that invisibility was largely our choice. Instead of launching another radio show or news aggregator or think-tank, never mind obsessing over whether Jeb or Jindal or Christie will play better in Iowa, we need to make like the Islamic mullahs and the sex mullahs and start competing for the space where people actually live.
from Steyn on Culture, July 2, 2015
Two resignations, and very different reactions
This is not your father's sex change
In my book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, way up front, a couple of pages into the introduction, I write of the political choice in most western societies - where the left supports various causes, and so does the right, but a couple of decades late to the party. And I wonder what else "conservatives" will be playing catch-up to in another 20 years...
As we announced earlier, SteynOnline is marking the official launch of Hillary 2016! by rerunning some favorites of mine since I first started writing about Mrs Clinton back in the Nineties. So, as we pitch base camp on the Hill to die on, here's my review of her memoirs, Living History, from Britain's Sunday Telegraph of June 16th 2003.
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The murder of Matthew Shepard 17 years ago - is the clearest example of what happens when a favored lobby group inserts itself between the news coverage and reality
So, just as President Obama is giving a big speech on cyber-security, the jihackists of the Islamic State manage to take over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the Pentagon's Central Command...
America's federal-motorcade hooker-culture is depraved
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The courage of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the cowardice of Brandeis University
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He who controls the language shapes the debate: In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as "illegal immigrants," the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. "I am worried," wrote Maureen Dowd, "about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don't even seem to realize that most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual'..."
To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but aldermanic power corrupts all der more manically. Proco "Joe" Moreno is Alderman of the First Ward of Chicago, and last week, in a city with an Aurora-size body count every weekend, his priority was to take the municipal tire-iron to the owners of a chain of fast-food restaurants. "Because of this man's ignorance," said Alderman Moreno, "I will now be denying Chick-fil-A's permit to open a restaurant in the First Ward." "This man's ignorance"? You mean, of the City of Chicago permit process? Zoning regulations? Health and safety ordinances? No, Alderman Moreno means "this man's ignorance" of the approved position on same-sex marriage.
Media types like to talk about "the narrative": News is just another form of storytelling, and certain plot lines grab you more than others. The easiest narrative of all is anything involving young people. "I believe that children are our future," as the late Whitney Houston once asserted. And, even if Whitney hadn't believed it, it would still, as a point of fact, be true. Any media narrative involving young people presupposes that they are the forces of progress, wresting the world from the grasping clutches of mean, vengeful old men and making it a better place...
Unlike the government of the United States, I can't claim any hands-on experience with Colombian hookers. But I was impressed by the rates charged by Miss Dania Suarez, and even more impressed by the U.S. Secret Service's response to them...
(VIDEO) "'Celebrate diversity' â€” the great bumper sticker â€” actually means 'celebrate stultifying homogeneity,'" Canadian best-selling author and columnist Mark Steyn told The Daily Caller. In an exclusive interview this week with TheDC's Ginni Thomas, Steyn railed against liberal "diversity"-speak and the lack of tolerance for traditional values...
Our lesson for today comes from George and Ira Gershwin: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus When he said the world was round They all laughed when Edison recorded sound They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother When they said that man could fly They told Marconi wireless was a phony..." Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang it in the film "Shall We Dance?" (1937) Seventy-five years on, the president revived it to tap-dance around his rising gas prices and falling approval numbers. Delivering his big speech on energy at Prince George's Community College, he insisted the American economy will be going gangbusters again just as soon as we start running it on algae and windmills. He noted that, as with Wilbur and his brother, there were those inclined to titter...
I'm writing this from Australia, so, if I'm not quite up to speed on recent events in the United States, bear with me – the telegraph updates are a bit slow here in the bush. As I understand it, Sandra Fluke is a young coed who attends Georgetown Law and recently testified before Congress. Oh, wait, no. Update: It wasn't a congressional hearing; the Democrats just got it up to look like one, like summer stock, with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid doing the show right here in the barn and providing a cardboard set for the world premiere of "Miss Fluke Goes To Washington," with full supporting cast led by Chuck Schumer strolling in through the French windows in tennis whites and drawling, "Anyone for bull****?"
Have you seen the official White House version of what the New York Times headline writers call "A Responsible Budget"? My favorite bit is Chart 5-1 on Page 58 of their 500-page appendix on "Analytical Perspectives." This is entitled "Publicly Held Debt Under 2013 Budget Policy Projections." It's a straight line going straight up before disappearing off the top right hand corner of the graph in the year 2084 and continuing northeast straight through your eye socket, out the back of your skull and zooming up to rendezvous with Newt's space colony on the moon circa 2100...
Announcing his support for Commissar Sebelius' edicts on contraception, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion, that noted theologian the Most Reverend Al Sharpton explained: "If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we're going to have a separation of church and state." Thanks for clarifying that. The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you're a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims "the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England." That's to say, the sovereign is "the only supreme head on earth of the Church" and he shall enjoy "all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity," not to mention His Majesty "shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be." Welcome to Obamacare.
This has less to do with any utilitarian benefit a condomless janitor at a Catholic school might derive from Obamacare, and more to do with the liberal muscle of Big Tolerance enforcing one-size-fits-all diversity. The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else...
For our Dutch readers...
VIDEO: Italy's Costa Concordia disaster has Mark Steyn mulling the "women and children first!" idea with Michael Coren on The Arena.
Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: "Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won't use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?" Oh, dear. You've got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that.
When Christians take the Christ out of Christmas
Christmas in America is a season of time-honored traditions â€“ the sacred performance of the annual ACLU lawsuit over the presence of an insufficiently secular "holiday" tree; the ritual provocations of the atheist displays licensed by pitifully appeasing municipalities to sit between the menorah and the giant Frosty the Snowman; the familiar strains of every hack columnist's "war on Christmas" column rolling off the keyboard as easily as Richard Clayderman playing "Winter Wonderland"... This ...
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