Sunday, May 30, 2004
Suffering among the nouveau-peasant class of North Carolina tossed out on their ear by the "global economy." From the Raleigh News-Observer:
They were beliefs held by most North Carolinians: Your life would be better than your parents', your children's lives better than yours.
No more. For the first time, North Carolina's workers face the future knowing that supporting a family will be harder, not easier.
Manufacturing and technology jobs are going overseas. Workers without a college degree or the ability to retrain are settling for jobs cutting grass, serving food and selling for discount stores.
State residents -- many mired in low-skill, low-wage service jobs -- are earning less than just a few years ago. Since 1998, personal and business foreclosures are up threefold.
Thus follows the usual litany of former factory workers taking orders at fast-food joints, lost health insurance, and so on. But inadvertently, a prophetic nugget falls from the lips of a local Democrat pol, which should give pause to my fellow conservatives who see nothing but objects for ridicule in the suffering people mentioned in these articles. Why should we care about these economic "basket case" regions and their impoverished lower classes?
State Sen. John Kerr, a Goldsboro Democrat, says families are pressed to pay their basic bills.
"Both spouses already are working in most families. The only other thing I know to do is give them another spouse," Kerr said. "You've got to have hope that you can do better than your parents, and we've always done that -- up to now."
Spookily prophetic words. Hillare Belloc wrote a book about 80 years ago called Great Heresies.
These words have a spooky air of prophecy about them. In Chapter 11 in Hillaire Belloc's book, "The Great Heresies," he describes the rise of Islam in the 7th-8th century. Why did it blast across the known world like a whirlwind, especially through the corrupt and bloated Eastern half of the remnants of the Roman Empire?
Islam promised *economic liberation* to the peasants, most of whom were in debt way beyond their ability to pay in their lifetime, to nobles, landowners, etc. When the Arabs came tearing in on horseback, they offered the peasants the option of converting. Those who converted *had their debts wiped out.* Those who didn't convert had their property confiscated and distributed among the Muslim conquerers. Some were killed; others were allowed to live on as "dhimmi" (2nd-class citizens, disarmed, barred from owning a sword or riding a horse, etc.)
So many of the peasant classes were more than happy to throw off their lifetime of indebtedness and take up arms against prince, noble, and king who had never done anything, as they saw it, for them, in favor of not only the religious "simplicity," but the economic "simplicity" of this new faith.
Another economic factor not considered by Belloc was the permission to practice polygamy. Adding another woman's labor to the household, as well as the labor of her children (remember, back in these days, children's labor actually counted for something) made the man in the polygamous household more materially successful.
There were, then, powerful economic and social motivations to accept Islam. Are we setting ourselves up for something similar, as we ignore the effects of the "global economy" on large segments of our own people? The larger a "peasant class" we perpetuate, whether through isolation, poverty, educational ignorance, illegal immigration, or just "falling through the cracks," the greater the probability that an invading Muslim force would find a substantial fifth column among our own people, with powerful motivations of their own to see the present "new world order" overturned.
Anne 3:31 PM
Friday, May 28, 2004
Mark Steyn, continental treasure: Mark Steyn casts his truth-telling word magic again in this article bemoaning the pathetic Canadian fertility rate of only 1.5 children per woman. (Replacement fertility rates in first world countries is generally thought to be 2.1 children per woman.)
Keep in mind that this abysmal fertility rate *includes* Canada's roughly 20% immigrant population, so the "native" fertility rate is probably actually somewhat lower.
The design flaw of the radically secularist welfare state is that it depends on a religious-society birth rate to sustain it. The tax revenues that support its ever growing numbers of the elderly and retired have to be paid by equally growing numbers of the young and working. So, if Canadians can no longer be bothered having children, where’s that workforce going to come from?
Easy, say the complaceniks. “Talented people” from “overcrowded parts of the world” ...
Yet the complaceniks cling to the long-held Canadian policy of using the Third World as a farm team and denuding developing societies of their best and brightest. Even if one accepts this as enlightened and progressive, rather than lazy and selfish, it’s unlikely to be much comfort for much longer.
Birth rates in the so-called “overcrowded” parts of the world are already falling. India has a fast-growing middle-class and declining fertility. In 2010 or 2020 “talented people” will be much sought after by all countries within the developed-but-depopulating world: how confident should we be that an educated Indian will prefer our high-tax, low-temperature jurisdiction to Britain, Australia, the Continent? Or, come to that, his own country.
Anne 4:57 PM
Christian secessionists throw down the gauntlet: Christian Exodus wants 50,000 "Commitment Level 1" souls to move to South Carolina if the United States categorically gets gay marriage. Then they plan to vote to revoke that state's ratification of the Constitution and secede.
WorldNetDaily has this to say about Christian Exodus:
[Cory] Burnell, a math teacher and cell-phone dealer, stresses he's not looking for bloody battles that took place in the American Revolution and the Civil War, but is rather seeking a "political divorce."
"It's got to be different today," he says. "It has to be peaceful, brokered."
But he admits if the federal government decides to use military force to stop the effort, "Then it can't happen."
Already a dozen people are actively working on the project, and some 1,500 e-mails of support have been received.
If all goes according to plan, Burnell is hoping to have a constitutional convention by 2014, with a president of the new nation – still to be known as South Carolina – elected in 2016, which is also a presidential election year in the U.S.
He says the nation would be founded on Christian principles, and the people writing its constitution would have to hash out details to safeguard it as a Christian republic.
For now, Burnell prefers to shy away from specifics on the precise laws governing the country.
"Independence first, details later," he says.
They also have a Yahoo! group which you can peruse if you want to join.
Sounds to me like the plot of a remake of The Mouse that Roared. I guess it is a good way to get federal funds for "reconstruction," if they don't all find themselves in some Guantanomo-like concentration camp for treason.
As I read the Yahoo! group posts, it strikes me that these Christian utopians are seriously deficient in recognizing the nature of the world we live in today. They're agonizing over whether they should actually "fight" the US government should it attempt to bring them back to the fold. This is ridiculous enough - but so far no one seems to have expended a single brain cell on the possibility that there are far worse governments and political ideologies in the world for Christians, and no clue as to how to confront them as an isolated utopian community.
Anne 8:56 AM
American Prohibitionism continues apace as a New Hampshire police department pays pizza deliverers and hotel clerks for "tips" about underage drinking, especially at parties.
It's stupid that Americans can enlist in the military at age 18, can kill Iraqis, wahoobis, terrorists in general (and be killed by them for our common defense), but they can't buy a beer.
That's an idea to boost military recruitment without a draft: keep the drinking age at 21 for everyone not in the military. But if you're in the military or have completed military service, then the drinking age is 18. It would beat a draft.
Anne 8:46 AM
Eyes that don't see and ears that don't hear: That's what Linda Chavez has in her comments about Shrek 2, which in my opinion is the best movie so far of 2004. Chavez, already whipped into a PMS-level frenzy after sitting through Roger Moore's Farenheit 911 and Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, blasts away:
And it's not just political agendas Hollywood pushes. Even ostensibly innocuous films like the blockbuster cartoon "Shrek 2" sneak in a message here and there. When I took my granddaughter to see the film over the weekend, I was amazed to see a foppish Prince Charming go off into the sunset with a transvestite "ugly sister" when Princess Fiona chose the ogre Shrek over him at the conclusion of the film.
Do reviewers even *watch* the movies they comment about, or do they spend most of their time in the lobby buying popcorn?
Larry King's unmistakable gravelly baritone made the character's cross-dressing obvious to the adults in the audience. Sure the gag went over the heads of most of the kids in the theater, but it wasn't particularly funny and seemed aimed only at adding a "gay" theme to a children's film.
If Linda Chavez would have been *awake*, she would have noticed that Prince Metrosexual is the *bad guy.* In decent children's fairy-tale films (even fractured ones), the Bad Guy Gets It in the End. At least when I saw Shrek 2, the audience of children knew exactly when to laugh and why at that point.
Prince Queer Eye doesn't "go into the sunset" with the Ugly Stepsister; he's *chased* and *tackled* by her on the dance floor, generating much audience mirth. The Queen of Ugliness is his *punishment* for being such a hair-flipping, lip-gel-wearing nancypants throughout the whole film.
Did Chavez just not get it, that Fiona and Shrek were *married,* that Prince Metro was a *home-wrecker,* and that of course Fiona would have preferred Shrek as an ogre?
Chavez complains about "the Hollywood agenda":
Samuel Goldwyn, one of the giants of the movie industry, is reported to have said, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." But too many producers, directors and actors these days fail to heed his advice.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. How about not bashing one of the few pro-*heterosexual,* pro-*masculine,* and pro-*family* films out there, just to make a few cheap agitprop points?
Hollywood will start filling theaters once again when it stops churning out agitprop and starts producing entertainment.
Anne 8:31 AM
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Finally, some limits on homework: Edinburgh, IN "gets it." Too bad other districts don't.
I remember barely any homework from grade school. Occasionally we had a report to write, but the pace was leisurely. (I remember writing away to the consulate of the province of Nova Scotia for travelogue information and pictures - no Internet! That we had time to correspond proves how leisurely it was.)
New York City had one of the best school systems in the country then (before the devastating 1968 strike that ended tracking of K-8 students by ability.) But when afternoon came, it was time to go to the candy store for marzipan, or window-shopping on Broadway, or off to the park for sledding in the winter.
The key difference was that while we were in school, we worked our tails off from morning till afternoon. We didn't have drug abuse education, or community service projects, or Special Olympics "volunteering," (i.e. mandatory participation as "helpers") or all these other time wasting socially-conscious fritterings that schools public and private inflict on kids.
I did know students who were heavily scheduled: the girl who went to ballet every day of the week after school; the boy who was studying violin from a world-renowned master at age 13. But that pressure came from the home and the children's particular circumstances, not the schools.
Heavy doses of homework usually mean that time isn't being used productively in school, and that robs children of time at home to work on their own projects and their own social lives.
Anne 9:38 PM
Get your daily recommended dose of irony in Fallujah, Iraq, where Muslim fanatics rule over the emergence of a jihadi "mini-state." Does anyone else find it interesting that we are fighting in Iraq to "institute democracy" so that the mullahs can strip men to their underwear and give them 80 lashes in public for selling alcohol? We're under criticism for stripping prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but when the wackos do it, it's "their culture," for which our men are dying. As Annette Funicello sings in "Babes and Toyland," "This is much too hard for us / We can't do the sum."
Anne 9:22 PM
How realistic do we want the "Model UN" to be? May is the month for the annual "Model UN" favored by many high schools, where students learn to imitate bloodthirsty dictators who routinely lie about their human rights record. Oops - what I meant to say was that they simulated saving the world by pretending to act like UN officials. I bet they leave this part out of their simulations, though.
Anne 9:04 PM
Smacking metrosexuals for fun and profit: That's the predominant theme of Dreamworks' newly-released Shrek 2, and such a wickedly amusing theme it is. Yes, it really is better than the first, especially in its tender rendition of the ups and downs of newly-married love.
Anne 9:50 AM
As Europe morphs into Europistan, keep up by reading The Eurabian Times. Excellent blogroll, too.
Anne 9:42 AM
We fought the first Gulf War for this? Kuwait bans women entertainers:
Forbidden practices include “women singing to men not related to them, mixing between the sexes when women are revealing part of their body, and the use of vulgar words and dancing"...Perhaps they would have liked living under Saddam Hussein better.
Anne 9:03 AM
A reader writes:
Thank you for your column about France's resistance to Islamic headcoverings. On this subject conservatives are as squeamish as my son about his measles vaccine. The headcoverings are of course just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Islam's foul treatment of women, but that is the point, if you see a tip that must mean there's an iceberg ahead; don't steer the ship straight into it.
I live across the street from a mosque. Most of the women we see walk by to worship are only wearing headcoverings, but we do see women completely veiled from head to toe. How am I supposed to not shudder when I see that? How possibly can the idea of tolerance of religion mean that I must turn a blind-eye to such blatant oppression?
I have a four year old son. I want to treat him to respect women. So what do I say when he starts to ask me about the women who look like tents? "Well dear you must respect women and treat them like equals, but you must also sit idly by and say nothing while your neighbors treat women like something shameful and disgusting that must not show their face to the light of day." In the name of religious tolerance I must teach my son to allow the mistreatment of women? It boggles the mind the strange backflips that PC has taken.
I have solved this dilemma the only way I can, I am moving.
Keep up the good, and oh so necessary work.
Anne 8:56 AM
Monday, May 17, 2004
101 great books list from the College Board seems to me heavy on the feminism, containing garbage like Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Alice Walker's The Color Purple, and lightweight fluff like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby,.
Here's my own "100+ best books to have read by the end of high school" list. I've read the ones emboldened:
?? - Beowulf
?? - Epic of Gilgamesh
?? - Song of Roland
(assorted) - The Federalist Papers
(assorted) - The Anti-Federalist Papers
Aristotle - Poetics
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Bulfinch, Thomas - Mythology
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Crowley, John - Little, Big
Dante - Inferno
Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens, Charles - A Christmas Carol
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Euripedes - The Bacchae
Euripedes - Medea
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Gibbon, Edward - Decline of the Roman Empire
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Hersey, John - Hiroshima
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Lao Tze - Tao Te Ching
Lawrence, D.H. - Women in Love
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Malory, Sir Thomas - Morte D'Arthur
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Mann, Thomas - Death in Venice & Other Stories
Marlowe, Thomas - The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Milton, John - Paradise Lost
Murasaki, Shikibu - Tale of Genji
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Connor, Flannery - Collected Stories
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Orwell, George - 1984
Ovid - Metamorphoses
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Percy, Walker - Love in the Ruins
Percy, Walker - The Thanatos Syndrome
Plato - The Republic
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Polybius - Rise of the Roman Republic
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Singer, Isaac Bashevis - Collected Stories
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Sun Tzu - The Art of War
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Swift, Jonathan - A Modest Proposal
Tennyson, Lord Alfred - Idylls of the King
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - On Walden Pond
Tolkien, JRR (tr.) - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Virgil - The Aeneid
Voltaire - Candide
Von Eschenbach, Wolfram - Parsifal
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wright, Richard - Native Son
Anne 4:36 PM
The deadliest of the species: The competing tribes of adolescent women in Mark Waters' film Mean Girls scratch, claw, and generally duke it out in the Serengeti Plains of high school - but not overtly, since aggression in "girl world" is indirect, involving slow and painful stabs in the back.
I don't know why girls do that to each other. (That they do is well documented in Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls and Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.) It's got to be evolutionary - maybe the independent girls who strayed from "the herd" convening at the water hole or fishing spot were more likely to get picked off by the leopards.
This film also does something rarely seen - it ruthlessly satirizes modern life and preoccupations while at the same time appealing to teens.
Anne 4:18 PM
Major karma smackage was delivered in India recently with the defeat of Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists; the ascension of the Congress Party (i.e. socialist liberals) under Sonia Gandhi; the Communists nab of over 10% of the House seats; populist uprisings in the rural sector; and the virtual meltdown of the Indian stock markets.
Investing in Bangalore just got a whole lot less attractive. The Indians lost 22 billion dollars of wealth this weekend, and now have a taste of what it's felt like in Silicon Valley for some time.
The Wall Street Journal tries to put a good spin on it this morning by claiming that John Kerry might lose, now that he doesn't have India to kick around anymore.
Personally, I think Vaypajee & Co. cut their own throats. Apparently one reason the commies and socialists won was because the lefties supported heavy subsidies for rural electrification, and the "saffrons" opposed it. Even in the US we subsidize rural electrification and telephone service, because it's just one of those things you *do* if you don't want rural people to live like medieval peasants.
Anne 4:09 PM
Metrosexuals of the Mediterranean is the best way to describe Wolfgang Peterson's film Troy. Do not go see this film as it commits major suckage. Read the SparksNotes instead.
Anne 4:06 PM
Thursday, May 13, 2004
"Don't let the door hit you on the way out" Dept: Today's Wall Street Journal reviews A Day Without a Mexican, a fantasy gedankenexperiment on how much the US would suffer if twelve million Californian Mexican immigrants vanished overnight.
Don't worry - no Mexican illegals were harmed in the making of this film, which is pro-immigration.
The film sounds like it's filled with demeaning images of white Americans.
In one scene, the protagonists, a white senator and his wife, are forced to make do without fresh-squeezed orange juice and clean clothes, and they struggle to locate peanut butter for their daughter's lunch. The housekeeper, Cata, is gone. ...The film's marketing campaign also depicts white Californians as inept and clueless, showing
... a white couple, clutching a leaf-blower, rake, and household cleaning supplies. The slogan: "There Goes the Neighborhood."The truth is, the United States does not even *need* the millions of illegal Mexican immigrants that have streamed into the country over the last decade. Take the image of the inept white householder. The need for Mexican household labor is a product of social degeneration, not a healthy economy. People who have more than 1.5 children per woman don't need housecleaners or gardeners. People who value a mother who stays at home and raises her children know where their peanut butter is. People who value and respect their elders can go cut the grass for their aging parents, rather than hiring a Mexican to do it.
Reliance on Mexican household labor represents selfishness and sloth. The excuse that "I work 75 hours a week, so I have to have all this done for me" is just another kind of sloth - the sloth that refuses to set proper priorities for the family and the country.
There is no excuse in modern society to have servants. It weakens a nation to be dependent on a lower caste of peasant labor.
What are some alternatives?
Have more children and raise them properly. If every family tried for four or five children (if nature allows, that is), there would be no need for a peasant caste. The children in a neighborhood could be hired to do many yard and babysitting chores, especially for the older people who no longer have children at home. Properly raised children will help their parents.
Move somewhere where you don't have to work eighty hours a week. Live in a small house, like a bungalow or simple four-square. Forget interest rates: low rates are just a lure to suck people into excessive debt, and besides, they're going up anyway. Minimize your debt by buying a smaller, cheaper house.
If you're obsessed with having fresh vegetables (my Germanic heritage says they just take up space in the stomach better occupied by meat), put in a garden. If you insist on having a lawn, rather than a wildflower or rock garden, take care of your own yard. One of the biggest absurdities of modern life is when healthy people who spend hundreds of dollars and hours yearly on health club memberships refuse to touch a lawn mower or put in a tomato plant.
A lot of this dependency on servants comes from households where the woman is always absent. It's not a matter of having children or not: even households with no children still need a woman at home. Someone has to check on the neighbors, sit on the front porch, socialize with the local merchants. If a critical mass of women actually did it, neighborhoods would be transformed.
Women at home does not mean non-working women. There's nothing wrong with women working part-time in their community; it's good for both. But the noble calling of housewife - whether or not there are young children at home - needs to be resurrected. We have a demand for cheap Mexican servant labor because women have abandoned that position.
Then there's the issue of businesses claiming that they "have to have" cheap Mexican labor. For what? So we can have twelve kinds of specialty lettuce in January? You want lettuce that much, build a little greenhouse and grow your own all year long. Or develop a taste for sauerkraut (which is what our German ancestors ate for roughage and Vitamin C during Midwestern winters.)
The invention of refrigerated rail cars carrying vegetables from California to the rest of the country at the turn of the twentieth century has been a decidedly mixed blessing. Why do we want to keep subsidizing a produce industry that is enormously greedy for water, for petroleum (for trucking), and for cheap serf labor? Let California return to the desert as God made it.
According to the 2000 census, 57% of California's construction workers, 58% of its cooks and 53% of its janitors are Hispanic.So why do we need Mexican illegals to do these jobs? When I was at university, I worked as a janitor. Ironically, it was the second-highest paying job on campus. (The highest-paying was nude art model. No thanks.) Friends of mine during college worked as cooks, janitors, maids, roofers, painters - all for college tuition and to support themselves. No doubt American youth are cut out of all those jobs.
Businesses complain, "But Americans won't *do* those jobs." Well, of course they won't, not for slave labor rates. It goes without saying: illegal immigrants bring down the whole wage structure, and rob Americans of jobs that they *would* do were the wages just and the conditions proper.
American schools are to blame in this regard, too. It's considered demeaning to do construction work. We lack a tradition of the educated, aesthetic craftsman - the "worker-philosopher" in the tradition of Eric Hoffer. It's considered completely incompatible in the US to be both a writer and a dock worker, or a theologian and a carpenter at the same time. Instead, we're all supposed to go to college and become lawyers and doctors, while our great mass of peasant serfs squeezes our oranges and takes out our trash.
Another thought left untouched is, what happens when the descendants of Mexican illegals decide they no longer want to be serfs? Which teeming masses do we import then? Do we think that a small educated cadre of lawyers, doctors, and Wall Street moguls can maintain a stratified caste society indefinitely?
So no, we really don't need Mexican illegals in the US - if we get off our own high horses and realize that the labor itself does not convey dignity - it's rather the human being who does the labor who makes it dignified. Americans need to rediscover the dignity of labor, especially the domestic labor that serves as the anchor for real communities: not just a string of McMansions on a cul-de-sac. As a nation, our first priority is to rediscover and develop our own native labor force, which can and will be used on the day "Twelve Million Californians Vanished."
Anne 8:05 AM
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
The French socialists are *right* when they work to enact regulations that limit ideological Islam's expression in French society, especially in the public schools.
Conservatives in the US have either not informed themselves, or haven't been informed through their writers/columnists etc. on what is going on *behind the scenes* with the headscarf issue.
Take a look at the April 2004 Vanity Fair (it's not online.) It has an indepth article about Muslim women and girls in les cities, the warrenlike Muslim-only fortresses outside the major cities.
It was the Communists and socialists, many of them teachers & principals in the all-Muslim public schools, who started the fight against the headscarf. I know this is difficult to wrap one's mind around, but bear with me.
Teachers and principals were getting death threats. One Communist local politician had his car blown up. These people were and are *in the trenches* - they watch these Muslim girls, especially, get sucked into forced marriages at 14. They watch girls completely imprisoned in les cities, unable to leave the house except for school (and that only because the government makes them go.) They see the more "moderate" Muslim girls who are following *their own Moroccan and Algerian traditions* by not veiling, or only lightly veiling (i.e a gauze scarf over the top of the head) get brutalized by wahhabist Muslims in the schools.
I can't emphasize enough - conservatives *cannot* let their disgust at public schools, fights over "freedom of religion" etc. cloud our view to what is happening in France. We can't be prejudiced by the fact that it's largely French communists who have blown the lid off this roiling pot.
The communists are perhaps the only ones who see this situation very clearly. (Perhaps it's because their collective memory of fighting Nazism is a little fresher than ours.) They see that Islam in France is *wahhabist*, *jihadist,* very radical, and intent on snuffing out any opposition. It is a *political ideology.* (The commies should know one when they see it, right?)
I know it's fun to make remarks about France, and I've made my share. I'm upset they've let us down in so many ways, after we saved their rears from speaking German. But their points are *valid* and we should support them both in their attempts to assimilate Muslims through their public school system, and in their fight against the hijab.
Anne 9:40 AM
"The womb is Islam's winning weapon." So said a poster on Free Republic, probably the most significant comment I've read on FR all day.
The article in question was a Christian Science Monitor piece on Islamic "enclaves" in Europe, and how one powerful factor preventing assimilation is the forced marriage of young Muslim girls.
Such is the conclusion drawn by "Female Integration," an explosive new book making headlines and the talk-show circuit here. It's based on a recent report to the Norwegian parliament by the Oslo-based Human Rights Service (HRS) and is being viewed as a window on larger Muslim immigration patterns in the rest of Europe.
Not mentioned in the article (although perhaps "Female Integration" goes into it) is the genetic disasters that result from first-cousin marriages in already-inbred populations.
The book's comprehensive statistical analysis of immigrant marriage patterns in Norway shows that members of most non-Western immigrant groups are, in overwhelming numbers, not only marrying within their own ethnic groups, but marrying partners - often their own cousins - from their countries of origin.
These marriages - which are invariably arranged, and often forced - have two chief motivations. One is to provide the foreign spouse with Norwegian residency rights under the "family reunification" provision of immigration law. The other is to resist integration by injecting into the European branch of the family "traditional values" - among them a hostility to pluralism,tolerance, democracy, and sexual equality.
Muslim birth rates in Europe are phenomenally high. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest birth rates in the world (about 7 or so children per woman.) Both Europeans and Americans have basically forgotten what it is like to have a large family - but there's one critical difference.
When Americans have a big family, it's because they *want* one. When Muslim women have a large family, it's often because they have *no choice whatever.* They are married off in Saudi Arabia often as soon as they have their first period. Polygamy is legal, and thus a man can have dozens of children.
Islam is *fundamentally rooted* on keeping women locked up. If they weren't locked up, forced into marriages at puberty, forced into multiple marriages, my view is that these birth rates would be far lower.
So it's not the birth rate per se that's disturbing, but that it's kept up by one of the biggest *slavery* systems the world has known. If you want to stop Islamic jihad in its tracks, free their women. God is forgiving, but demography isn't.
Anne 9:18 AM
Jerry Springer, live from Iraq: The "Photogate" scandal sounds more and more like an episode of Jerry Springer, thanks to the good old-fashioned muckracking journalism of the New York Post.
Sunday's Post ran a story on "The Ghoul Next Door," Spc. Sabrina Harmon. She's the poster girl who posed next to the pile of naked Iraqi men.
Harman, along with several others charged with abuse in the scandal, said the inhumane treatment was a direct order from Army intelligence officers, CIA operatives and civilian contractors who all conducted interrogations.
Harman's father was apparently a homicide detective, and used to show her grisly pictures of crime scenes when she was a child.
"They would bring in one to several prisoners at a time already hooded and cuffed," Harman told the paper in an e-mail from Iraq. "The job of the MP was to keep them awake, make it hell so they would talk." ...
Sabrina, who joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks, has been charged with conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, making a false statement and assault.
Meanwhile, Iraq abuse photo whistleblower Joseph Darby apparently has a complicated personal life, according to today's NY Post.
Bernadette Darby has been telling the press he is her husband. Joseph Darby now says he's divorced. Julie Eckert says she's his girlfriend, and didn't know he had a wife. Oops.
Eckert ... said the mess raises questions about Darby's whistleblowing.
"If he's been lying to me, God only knows if he's lying now," she said. "How come he is the only one who came forward and how did he get this information?"
Eckert said that after reading the story, she e-mailed Darby, saying, "Oh, you're married," but he hasn't replied.
"If in fact he is married, I do think he is a two-timing rat," she said. ...
A Post reporter could find no record of their divorce in the files of the Allegheny County, Md., circuit court, where Corrigansville is located. Court clerks in Fairfax and Arlington County, Va., circuit courts, where the couple had previous addresses, said there are no divorce records on file.
Anne 8:18 AM
Monday, May 10, 2004
"Rich school, poor school" is the justification for this Tennessean article, which seems to specially plead for statewide inequities in school funding.
Two Tennessee schools are contrasted: the large suburban Centennial High School in the Williamson County district, and Hancock Community High School in the Hancock County district. But wait - under the idea of statewide funding equity, shouldn't the poor Hancock Community High *go down* to Centennial's funding level?
That's the rub: "poor" Hancock gets almost $3000 per year *more* per student than does the "rich" district - $9874 versus $6975.
Excuses include "economy of scale" and the fact that many Hancock students have to be bussed great distances.
One major complaint surrounds college-prep classes. Hancock, which is required by law to provide, for instance, at least one foreign language, complains that "not enough" students sign up for them. This leads one to question whether Hancock students would even take Honors and AP classes, were they even offered, or if they even would have the background to attempt them.
This raises another question. Suppose Hancock received twice the money it currently gets: would the two schools achieve parity? No - because if Centennial is like many large suburban districts in middle- or upper-middle-class areas, the parents have privately put in enormous resources both to the school and to their own individual students, and Centennial would probably still prepare its students more thoroughly for college.
Why? Because it's not about money, it's about *culture,* and the value a particular culture places on education. If a high school is *offering* a foreign language but not enough students sign up for it, that's a clear indication that those students have already "turned off" to college preparation.
Nor is there any reason why college preparation uber alles should be the focus of every school in every community, or why students in terribly depressed areas should be encouraged beyond reason to continue to live there.
Anne 1:57 PM
Who's really "failing" here? The Chicago Tribune whines today about "Latinos Often Trapped in Lagging Schools," but I don't see the schools particularly lagging.
The article informs us that most of the students, illiterate in both English and Spanish, "arrived from the pueblas" of Mexico, but fails to point out that the vast majority are illegal. So we are supposed to ooze sympathy for lawbreakers.
Then we discover that the Chicago public schools are expected to adapt, no matter what.
"No teacher could be found to take their class:" What's the surprise? How many teachers would want to, or could competently teach a class of illiterate fourth graders who spoke no English?
Then the article complains that Chicago schools with large Hispanic populations are "segregated." No mention is made of the fact that the *neighborhoods* where these students live are largely Hispanic-only neighborhoods. Of course the schools will be majority-Hispanic. If the Tribune hasn't looked lately, forcing children to go to other schools for the purpose of "integration" is a thing of the past.
Other factors out of the schools' control:
Students rapidly move from one school to another, with an average turnover rate in one school of 64% in one year.
Students lose school and study time "while baby-sitting siblings and cousins, working part-time jobs, translating for family members or cooking dinner."
One principal complained about "low expectations," but there's no indication that those lowered standards were coming from the schools.
Instead, "these kids don't have the support at home and nobody tells them how important it is to study," one teacher said.
Meanwhile, Chicago-area schools with overwhelmingly Hispanic populations are classed as "failing" because their students do poorly.
What our current administration and federal Education Department fail to realize is that American schools will not "improve" as long as illegal immigrants stream into American cities.
Anne 11:13 AM
"Who now doubts that radical Islam might win?" So asks Spengler in his latest Asia Times column.
Both the mission and the soldiers assigned to execute it are wrong to begin with. Many Iraqis would rather be dead than Americanized, far more than the Americans hoped...
Meanwhile, what is supposed to become of our soldiers during this "low profile" period? Do they stand around as targets while the Sunni and Shi'ite factions kill each other? After the Shi'ites eventually triumph and establish Iranian-style thugocracy?
What will happen next? America will not fold its tents and silently steal away, and those who expect a few photographs from Abu Ghraib to undermine America's resolve underestimate American stubbornness. An open repudiation of past errors is most unlikely during an American presidential election year, but some adjustment is inevitable.
Ultimately, I expect failure to establish order in Iraq will lead Washington to jettison the goal of Iraqi democracy, as George Will suggests in the May 4 Washington Post. It is likely to embrace the next best thing, namely Iraqi chaos ...
Rather than make itself the common enemy of all Iraqi factions by raising its profile, the coalition will allow the Iraqis to settle their differences by the usual means by lowering its profile. The "usual means" bespeak unpleasantness unimaginably worse than anything that occurred at Abu Ghraib but, like the Sudanese civil war, barely will disturb the slumber of Americans.
Anne 8:17 AM
"The worst thing you can do is to treat us like a woman." That was the complaint last week from an Iraqi prisoner complaining about being forced to undress, or something, in Abu Ghraib prison. When you consider how women are treated under traditionalist Islam, it isn't surprising.
British physician Theodore Dalrymple lives in London and has treated many Muslim women patients. In the most recent City Journal he describes it thus:
This pattern of betrothal causes suffering as intense as any I know of. It has terrible consequences. One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one—the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination—he was violent toward her.
She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.
I’ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties—feminism and multiculturalism—come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.
As far as women are concerned, every day is like a day in Abu Ghraib.
Anne 8:13 AM
Saturday, May 08, 2004
USDA tells Minnesota not to "stigmatize" food stamp users: The state of MN had requested permission from the USDA to ban MN food stamp users from buying candy, soda, and other junk foods with food stamps. The USDA slapped them down:
In a strongly worded response sent Tuesday and received by state officials Friday, the USDA turned back the request. Regional administrator Ollice Holden wrote that the agency had determined the change sought was based on ``questionable merits'' and would violate the Food Stamp Act's definition of what is food.
Excuse me? Since when do the sensitive feelings of welfare recipients take precedence over wise use of tax dollars, and the health of the recipients themselves?
The agency also determined that a ban could help stigmatize food stamp recipients and lead to ``confusion and embarrassment'' in the checkout aisle.
``Moreover, implementation of this waiver would perpetuate the myth that (program) participants do not make wise food purchasing decisions,'' when research has shown they are ``smart shoppers'' who buy mostly the same foods as higher income buyers.
What's also hypocritical is that the USDA also manages the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, which offers food vouchers to mothers and young children. WIC highly restricts what kinds of food can be purchased, limiting it to milk, eggs, bread, *real* cheese (not Velveeta) and other clearly healthful items. No one complains about WIC recipients being "stigmatized" because they have to buy milk instead of soda.
Sometimes I allow myself to fantasize about what a truly *conservative* administration would be like. This sure isn't one.
Anne 2:56 PM
Greek pagans proclaim "Hail Zeus!" and demand the right to worship at traditional temple sites. The government isn't amused, and neither are most Greeks (who are 98% Greek Orthodox.)
Watch out, girls, for weird animals with unhealthy intentions coming your way...
Anne 2:42 PM
Women soldiers told they will be made "slaves" by someone who should know about keeping women in slavery, Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Abdul-Sattar al Bahadli, according to Sky News.
He's apparently a henchman of lead insurgent Motaquah Al Sadr, who has promised to lead his troops "into martydrom." Let's oblige him, please.
Anne 2:39 PM
The best idea I've heard yet for cracking down on illegal immigration. Human Events Online reports that
Rep. John Culberson (R.-Tex.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, will propose legislation to stop the pay of federal bureaucrats who refuse to enforce immigration laws.
That gets to the core of the whole rotten apple: the INS and other federal officials simply won't enforce the immigration laws we have.
"I, as an appropriator, will do everything in my power to change federal law so that any federal official who doesn't enforce immigration law doesn't get paid," Culberson told HUMAN EVENTS. "That's just for starters."
Culberson also said:
"I know that the only way to get a bureaucrat's attention is through their money..."Go for it.
Anne 2:21 PM
Curious thing just happened: In the story below, I linked to an MSNBC website that featured the article from which I took the quote about the unreleased photo images of serious prisoner abuse. When I linked back to it a few hours later, the original article was gone, and some other article on "No Plans to Close Abu Ghraib Prison" appeared. I have no clue what happened to the original article, and unfortunately I didn't capture it.
This probably sounds more Orwellian than it really is. However, citing an online news service isn't like citing a newspaper. Winston Smith might have occupied his days reprinting newspapers in the archives, but it's no joke with something online. What's an online citation anyway, but simply a URL? Anything can get stuck there.
So I don't know where the original article went. Drudge's link goes to the same changed link as well. He also links to another article from Yahoo News/Reuters that mentions compromising videotapes but fails to give the details that I read on the original MSNBC article. This article says:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, at a Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) hearing, said there were many more photos and videotapes that had not been published showing cruel and sadistic acts by U.S. personnel.
"I've said today that there are a lot more photographs and videos that exist. If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse. That's just a fact," Rumsfeld said.
"I mean I looked at them last night and they're hard to believe," he said. "And if they're sent to some news organization and taken out of the criminal prosecution channels that they're in, that's where we'll be. And it's not a pretty picture."
Today's New York Times also featured an article by Tom Shanker and Eric Schmitt which said:
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told reporters outside the hearing room of the unseen photos, "We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience — we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."
I know it interferes with the breezy conversational style of blogging, but I will probably start citing more references in my blogtext, so that people who want to follow up on information can trace it more effectively.
Anne 1:37 PM
"The worst is yet to come:" warns Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, in possession of additional photos and videos of Iraqi prisoners in Al Ghraib prison.
Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.Great. Now we *do* have something serious to apologize for. If true, this is sickening, immoral, and has to be rooted out and severely punished. No intelligence-gathering is worth this.
Again, my point from yesterday still stands. If we can't tolerate collateral damage, and we can't obtain intelligence through morally correct means, then what precisely are we to do?
Anne 9:59 AM
Friday, May 07, 2004
Time to stop saying "I'm sorry:" Wesley Pruden says it all in today's Washington Times.
I'm just waiting out the tide of breast-beating and sobbing over the photos of Iraqi prisoners' "abuse" at the hands of their MP guards. Not only that, everyone with a cultural-revolution axe to grind is making this story the "poster child" for "everything that's wrong with America," and those are the *conservative* ones.
Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps the use of nakedness and sexual humiliation was a way to "soften up" the Iraqi prisoners for interrogation *without* resorting to the nastier sorts of physical torture that Amnesty International is always complaining about?
We are fighting an *asymmetric* war. That means guerillas and terrorists blend in with the general population, coming out only to lob an RPG or lay a roadside mine. Asymmetric war onlyworks when a good portion of the civilians support it, as well.
So what is a modern army to do in the face of asymmetric warfare? There are two approaches. The first is the one adopted by General Ewing in the Civil War, called General Order Eleven. Because of the persistence and effectiveness of Confederate guerilla fighters, the northwestern counties of Missouri were forcibly evacuated, and any remaining not in uniform were shot.
We aren't prepared to re-enact this in Iraq.
So that leaves gathering information. How precisely do the purists expect military intelligence to do this? Stick Iraqi prisoners in a cell for a few years, feeding them halal bologna sandwiches and fruit loops, and hope they'll talk?
But if we aren't willing to accept civilian deaths as collateral damage, and we aren't able to interrogate prisoners, what exactly *are* we supposed to do with them? For that matter, why do we even have prisoners at all? Would it be better for us to simply shoot them before they surrender? Is that more "humane?"
Psychological operations are not pretty. It's not wrong to play on the fears and insecurities of captured terrorists, especially when those fears are really stupid. It's been clearly shown that the worst thing you can do to these guys is "treat them like a woman." Their guilt over their own foul treatment of women under jihadi Islam is probably getting to them, no doubt.
If embarrassment, humiliation, and "making them feel like women" (especially at the hands of women soldiers) produces useful intelligence, especially when these men are not physically harmed, then I don't see the problem.
If we don't have the guts to fight - and psychological warfare is part of it - then we don't belong there.
Anne 10:50 AM
We always knew liberalism was racist and Chicago just reinforced the notion.
I don't know what's funnier - the insistence that Asians, while a minority, aren't "deserving" of special treatment in government contracts, or the whining on the part of the Chinese association that Asians aren't really a "model minority" and "suffer hardships too." Not only that, the Asian-run companies wanting government contracts are equally teary-eyed at the prospect that all this tax-funded largesse might go away.
A pox on both their houses. Affirmative action in all its forms - college admissions; special scholarships; preferences for minority contractors - they all have to go.
Anne 10:31 AM
Potential Fifth Columnist nabbed in Oregon. Brandon Mayfield of Aloha, OR was arrested as a "material witness" in the Madrid, Spain Al-Qaeda bombings. Supposedly his fingerprints had been found on some documents belonging to the Madrid bombers. (Wonder why his fingerprints were on file in the first place?)
Mayfield converted to Islam in the late 1980s and had represented one of the "Portland Seven" terrorist defendants in a custody battle.
When is the Justice Department going to wake up to the 1999 warning given by Sufi Muslim leader Hisram Kabbani, when he emphatically told the US government that 80% of the mosques in the US were infiltrated by pro-terrorist wahhabists?
Kabbani's Islamic organization in 1999 roundly condemned the hijacking of US mosques:
Government and other agencies have documented that some U.S.-based Islamic organizations are quietly funneling money collected here to support terrorist groups around the world. In fact, this is so well known that the Muslim community cannot escape its fallout unscathed. We say, leaders of the Muslim community who " launder" money for extremist organizations abroad must bear the burden of their wrongdoing.
Seems like they both get the Cassandra Award - condemned with the gift of prophecy laced with the curse that no one will believe them.
Some of these organizations claim, " We are helping schools, refugees and those ravaged by war," to which we reply: " OK, but also condemn the extremists, so that all Muslims here are safe. As Muslims, we don't want to be held accountable for your actions while you grow rich off of our community."
Consider that every innocent child, woman or elder who is maimed, orphaned or killed will testify on the Day of Judgment against those who financially supported such organizations--whose money was used to buy arms and munitions, rocket launchers and bombs to inflict harm upon the innocent. It is no longer an option to keep quiet about this situation.
It is not too much to call all organizations to honestly account for every penny they collect. Legitimate organizations keep books as they must report their income to the IRS. They can easily and swiftly be called to account. Muslims have a right to know where their " sadaqa," " zakat," " charity" and " relief donations" are going. Legitimate organizations will thus be absolved.
What such inquiries will do, however, is make the dubious organizations close their doors. It suffices to point out that the leaders of such organizations are the same ones who have given fatwas permitting the cultivation, harvesting and processing of opium, sale of opiates and other kinds of drugs; even killing other Muslims to steal their opium, all in the name of supporting a hallucinatory " Jihad" against the West.
Through the " Salafi" /Wahabi sect, the extremist elements have indoctrinated countless Muslim youth: condemning all who differ to unbelief and apostasy from Islam. Thus they justify the wholesale killing of Muslims, and attacking Muslim governments--even their own nations--for they consider whoever does not support them as the worst of enemies, among those who left the fold of Islam.
We appeal to U.S.-based Muslim organizations to openly disclose their ties to foreign groups and movements.
Anne 10:07 AM
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
"Fighting the wrong enemy" is how the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby describes the recent pro-abortion Washington DC march (aka the March for Unborn Women's Deaths.) He comments that women have far more to fear from jihadi Islam, especially in supposedly "civilized" places like England and France.
On the subject of jihadi oppression of women, the April 2004 Vanity Fair (sorry, not online) featured a piercing look at life for French Muslim women living in "les cities" - the huge Bauhaus worker-housing hellholes outside Paris.
The girls go to public schools (which are 90% Muslim, as that's who lives in the neighborhoods.) Curiously, their teachers are largely Communists and socialists who despair of how the girls are treated, but have very little recourse to help them. In fact, it was apparently a communist school principal fifteen years ago who got the ball rolling on the Islamic headgear ban in French public schools.
The girls are allowed out of the house for school, but are otherwise forbidden to speak or interact with "anyone French." When they are in their early teens they are often married off against their will to men in Algeria, Morocco, or Turkey. If they refuse, their parents take them "on a vacation" so that they may be forcibly married off in the Muslim country.
There are few volunteers willing to go into these warrens and help these girls escape. There are no battered women's shelters; no feminists putting together an "underground railroad;" no reformers like the 19th century British reformer Josephine Butler to separate them from their dreadful lives.
One reason no such reform and rescue movement has cropped up is because French "intellectuals" are largely indifferent. They're too busy worrying about Americans and Jews. Another is simply fear - the Muslim men will try to kill anyone messing with "the family honor."
When I see Muslim women on the street here, swathed from head to toe, walking behind their husbands, it occurs to me that I rarely see them alone. I wonder how isolated they are here in the US, and what recourse they would have if they indeed tried to escape, or engineer an escape for a daughter.
Anne 2:15 PM
Nattering nannies in Milwaukee in a group-therapy type program called "Concerned Others" interrogate third graders as to whether their parents smoke or drink. I'm surprised they didn't force the little tykes to cough up whether their parents owned guns, either.
Yes, parents can opt their kids out of these programs, but it would be so much more fun to take around a questionnaire and ask each teacher, administrator, and each school board member if he or she smokes, drinks, and how much.
I had a similar thought awhile back when some schools were talking about issuing "weight report cards" to fat children. Those schools should also send "fat reports" out on portly teachers and administrators as well.
Anne 1:43 PM
Added The American Thinker to the roster: They outdo themselves this month with an essay on the college tuition scam. Here in Missouri, state university tuitions have gone up almost 50% in the past three years, and have doubled in the past decade. Thomas Lifson says, in essence, that American universities are overpriced, bloated with unspent cash, intensely discriminatory, and based on over-inflated prestige.
They also are a significant factor in driving middle-class and upper-middle class Americans into virtual bankruptcy. Because of hype (you "must" have a Harvard education "to succeed,") parents are spending upwards of $200,000 *per child* for a product that's increasingly returning fewer benefits.
Lifson also points out that as colleges receive increasing amounts of federal money, and as their students get ever more financial aid, tuitions keep climbing. No kidding - you get more of what you subsidize. (Too bad voucher proponents don't realize that the same thing will happen to currently-cheap parochial school tuitions under vouchers.)
In the long run, the halls of academia will pay a price for their arrogant exploitation of their own prestige. In tandem with the increasing cost of college, a yawning gap has opened between the concerns of ordinary Americans and the motivations of higher education insiders. While academia blithely imposes an agenda of “multiculturalism,” “queer studies,” and PoMo (post-modern, post-colonialist) studies, the rest of the country realizes that we live in brutally-competitive world, where Chinese, Indian, or Korean producers will happily under-price and outperform us in global markets, if we allow ourselves the unaffordable luxury of an increasingly irrelevant and overly expensive system of higher education.
Anne 11:20 AM
Another girl kicks one in the nuts: Something is going right these days in the education of our youth, especially girls. One spunky 13-year old fought off an abductor by kicking him in the groin and running away. Her father later found the man from her description, leading to the perp's arrest.
Anne 11:07 AM
You heard it here first: As much as the administration wants to deny it, the machinery seems to be humming on instituting a draft. The latest in the draft follies: conscripting women.
In a study obtained by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer under the Freedom of Information Act, the Selective Service in February of 2003 floated the idea of making women subject to compulsory registration.
The plan also called for extending the age of compulsory registration for both men and women to age 34. In addition, the plan advocated collecting "skills information" on registrants, presumably so that those in the data base could be "cherry picked" depending upon their technical training, foreign language abilities, etc.
In some macabre way, this might actually be the linchpin that swings the door of gender chaos shut, after it's been open for so many decades.
Unless the military is planning on mandating forced birth control or abortion (which conceivably could come out of a Democratic regime, but most likely not a Republican administration), women would have to be exempt for pregnancy and nursing. (I suppose an extreme possibility is forcing young women into the military with nursing babies in tow, to be cared for in government creches.)
If women were exempt for bearing children, then it seems that for some, at least, getting married and having babies would be preferable to a draft.
It would also be interesting to see if college attendance were made an exemption (as it was during the Vietnam War.) More girls than boys go to college these days. Perhaps we'll see a swing back to women marrying after high school and having babies, instead of going to college. I can hear the feminazis fulminating now.
Don't get me wrong - I think women are in some ways fiercer than men, and will fight like tigers to protect their offspring. My problem with this whole draft idea, and with drafting women in particular, is that to me it seems like a ploy to extend "empire," rather than defending our own soil and our own interests.
I don't believe we have any sort of mandate to "nation build" or be the "peacekeepers" of the world. We have to take care of our country and our people. You want to add to the national defense - get rid of most gun laws. Allow citizens to own machine guns, with permits. Train people in proper gun use and safety in schools.
Then, if we ever are invaded, then let Americans buy machine guns - or issue them if necessary - and get out of the way.
Further, we are most in danger of attack from Islamic jihadists who are fighting an *asymmetric* war. Draftees are not going to help defend us against guerillas and terrorists. Draftees may be nice kanonenfutter for standing around trying to guard a hospital or school in some Muslim dreckhole in Central Asia. But why are we guarding the oubliettes of Central Asia or the Mideast anyway?
Anne 11:04 AM
Sunday, May 02, 2004
Horror films as subversion: While you can catch Godsend on video without missing much in the way of cinematics or atmosphere, it's a nice little morality tale based on the old "demonic child" theme.
Filmmakers have been preoccupied with evil children ever since Mervyn Leroy's 1956 film version of Shirley Jackson's The Bad Seed. We moved on to devil children (Rosemary's Baby), possessed children (The Exorcist), more devil children (Damien, The Omen) and undead children (Poltergeist.)
As Americans turned birth control and small families into a social duty, and abortion into a virtual sacrament, the "demon child" penetrated our popular unconscious, the well from which science fiction and horror draw.
Godsend plays on the horror of human cloning (and artificial reproduction in general) gone dreadfully wrong. The directing is clunky and the symbolism heavy-handed, but you can't miss the point when bad-guy doctor Richard Wells (Robert deNiro) gets into a struggle with the bereaved and betrayed father of cloned devil boy Adam, and burns down the church. Literally.
Anne 11:43 AM
Science fiction as subversion: Sci-Fi Channel aired Aldous Huxley's Brave New World in November 2003, originally telecast on NBC in 1998. While they radically altered the story, most changes were actually an improvement on Huxley's bleak and despairing dystopia.
Conservatives are always talking about how "valueless" the media are in conveying values, but once again, sci-fi proves to be a nest of subversion.
One major subversive change was how Huxley's John the Savage, who kills himself in despair at the end of the book, is turned into a "redemptive" figure. Not a Christ figure per se, although the film uses some Christ imagery, but because his life - and accidental instead of intentional death - serve as the catalyst for a fundamental social revolution within "civilization" (as the BNW denizens call their dissipated urban life.)
One notable image: after he's become disenchanted with "civilization," the Savage goes into a soma distribution center, where the Gammas and Deltas are lining up for their doses. He tries to warn them, then ends up overturning the tables (like Christ overturning the moneychangers' tables in the Temple.) Unlike most sanitized Bible movies, however, these Gammas and Deltas behave exactly as you'd expect: they ignore the Savage and immediately scramble for every soma tab that hits the floor.
Another significant theme emphasized in the movie but not the original story centers on love and marriage. For the Echo Boomers (those born between 1978 and 1996), the most radical thing you can do is to fall in love, get married and have a baby. While Huxley shocked by presenting his readers with a world where babies are artificially bred, intentionally stunted and deformed to produce the inferior classes, and then "decanted", the true "shocker" in this modern film version is how the heroine performs the "supreme" act of rebellion in the BNW universe - she throws away her birth control after her epiphany upon the Savage's death.
Pregnant, she flees, and at first it appears that her baby's father isn't going to follow, but eventually he does. That had a particularly "biblical" feel to it as well - some people are like Mary Magdalene, but others are like Nicodemus.
Unlike in the novel, where Lenina is a brainless slut who on the job stunts "normal" embryos so they develop into lower-class Deltas and Epsilons, in this version Lenina is a teacher. In one memorable scene she's trying to convey the idea of heroism to her smart alecky, blank, conformist little horrors of Alphas (the "honor students" of that world.) When she describes ideas such as self-sacrifice, nobility, courage, etc., they look at her blankly and snipe at her about "how this isn't in the book." Of course there's one boy who *is* drinking in every word, and in the last shot of the film, we see him thwarting his nightly sleep-conditioning by stuffing some purloined cotton into his ears, and laying awake, the wheels obviously turning in his 12-year old brain.
It was a very effective "reversal" - instead of the stupid adult trying to suppress the "freedom" of the young; in this case the adult was the one beginning to understand freedom, and the kids just wanted to stay "on the right page in the book."
The other interesting reversal was that instead of "He who has ears, let him hear," the young rebel had to *block* his ears to avoid the constant stream of conditioning to which he was subjected.
So I think for Echo boomer the messages were loud and clear: the media barrage is a trap; messages like "promiscuity is everyone's duty" a lie, and the supreme act of rebellion for that generation is to fall in love, bond, and beget a child.
I love sci-fi because it's often so much more "subversive" than the pious proselytizing so often found in more conservative attempts to "engage the culture."
Anne 11:30 AM
The thin envelopes of doom have been delivered to large numbers of college students, and everyone places their hope, security, and peace of mind on whether they get into "the right college" or not. This is what I've observed.
I think a lot of "honor students" don't have an original thought in their heads. They're simply grinding through the motions to get grades; at least that's what I see locally.
Many extremely creative people did their work outside the "traditional" academic system; in fact, the academic system often worked very hard to bury their work or was entirely indifferent. The Impressionist painters, for instance, set up the "Salon du Refuses" because no one in "traditional" painting wanted anything to do with them. Most advances in anatomy and medicine resulted in the innovators' severe persecution. Gregor Mendel was never accepted or recognized by the scientific community, being a humble German monk and prep school teacher. Most of the Scottish inventors were businessmen or engineers working for businessmen who had very practical problems to solve. Einstein was considered a "failure" at school; had handwriting so atrocious that he paid people to take notes for him; was so bad at mathematical computation that he paid people to calculate for him, and was working a relatively humble job as a patent evaluator, completely out of touch with the academic world, when he did his Nobel-prize-winning work on the photoelectric effect.
The Asian nations may be "productive" but I don't see a lot of real creativity coming out of their "mainstream" academic routes (i.e. in Japan, where you jump out of a window if you don't get into one of the 3-4 colleges deemed "good enough.") Some of Japan's biggest products - their cultural ones - come from people who are totally on the margins of Japanese life. Most of their wild fashions are sewn by junior-high & high school girls, who spend their Friday & Saturday nights parading their creations for each other in the Tokyo train stations. Apparently designers from all over the world go there to hang out and photograph them. Satoshi Tajiri barely graduated from high school and went on to launch the Pokemon craze instead. Most of the manga and anime artists are considered extremely fringe. The martial-arts movies that inspired the whole Matrix industry aren't the most "refined" Japanese entertainment.
So relax, kids; don't feel compelled to drink the Kool-Aid because you get some thin envelopes.
Anne 11:02 AM