Saturday, September 02, 2017

We Need More Texas Attitude and Less PC

By Sean Collins
August 31, 2017
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Volunteer rescue boats make their way into a flooded subdivision to rescue stranded residents in Spring, Texas on August 28th. (AP/David J. Phillip)

It is hard to grasp the enormity of Hurricane Harvey and its impact on the people of Houston and surrounding areas of Texas.
Unprecedented rainfall and raging winds of 130 miles per hour. Flooding of Biblical proportions: highways turned into oceans, surreal images of trucks and animals floating in newly formed rivers, and water as tall as houses. And the sad tragedy of its destructiveness: 38 deaths counted so far (with no doubt more to come), billions in economic damage, and the heartbreaking loss of home, possessions and normal life that had taken, in some cases, decades to build.
Yet, as devastating as Harvey has been, you have to be impressed by the bravery and resilience shown by the people of Houston and the area in response to this natural disaster. Texas is known for its swagger, embodied in its slogan ‘Don’t mess with Texas’. Looking at the heroic feats of rescue we have seen on our TV screens, it’s fair to say that Texans have lived up to their boasts.
The official response to Harvey appears to be very competent. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was on the ground two days before Harvey reached land. Texas governor Greg Abbott deployed the entire Texas National Guard. Houston mayor Sylvester Turner quickly activated police and firefighters, and provided calm, clear instructions to residents. This was much better than the response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana in 2005 – indeed, it seemed to show that the authorities had learned the lessons of the botched response to Katrina.
In the improved official response is a broader lesson. As our societies and economies develop, there is always a chance of disaster, natural or otherwise, which can knock back that development. But we advance by learning from setbacks, not by avoiding expansion in the first place. In fact, economic growth and the accumulated wealth of an advanced society like the US means we have more resources to cope with hurricanes or whatever else Mother Nature throws at us.
capable as the local, state and federal disaster response has been, what has been even more impressive is the great effort made by thousands of ordinary people, volunteering to help their fellow citizens. Seeing massive flooding and destruction, many would think: ‘How do I get out of here?’ But in Houston we saw lines of cars towing boats, people driving into the worst of the flooding. Like the cavalry, on came the hundreds of the ‘Texas Navy’ (joined by the ‘Cajun Navy’ of Louisiana) in fishing boats, jet skis and kayaks.
They went about their business with modest determination. CNN found two men loading up their boat, heading into the storm. ‘What are you going to do?’, the CNN reporter asked. ‘Go try to save some lives’, one of the men said, in a matter-of-fact way. Those without a boat helped, too. Five volunteer rescuers from Lufkin, Texas stopped at a gas station, and a guy handed them three $100 bills, according to a New York Times report. ‘Texas people just stick together’, said one.
While Hurricane Harvey brought out the best in many, it also brought out the worst. Across social media, certain liberals were feeling less than sympathetic to Texans, seen as Trump voters and Republican Party backers. ‘I don’t believe in instant karma, but this feels like it for Texas’, tweeted a University of Tampa professor: ‘Hopefully this will help them realise the GOP doesn’t care about them.’ (This professor was later fired for this tweet, which he shouldn’t have been.)
The heroism shown by ordinary Texans has been a great antidote to the prejudices expressed by well-off liberals towards ‘deplorable’ Americans. The politically correct view is that white folks are irredeemably racist, and the country is inescapably divided by race, yet the images from Houston told a different story: a black deputy sheriff wading through floodwaters with a white child in each arm; a white SWAT officer carrying a Vietnamese-American woman and her baby through floodwaters; three Asian and Hispanic constables moving an elderly woman in a wheelchair.
As it happens, this was not exceptional: as anyone who has travelled through Texas and the South will know, social interactions between people of different backgrounds are casually pleasant. Unlike PC liberals, most people don’t see life through a prism of racial categories. In response to Harvey, we didn’t see the ‘diversity’ of essentially different people – we saw citizens helping citizens, Texans helping Texans.
The strong, ‘let’s go’ response from the primarily male army of rescuers was also a challenge to the liberal tendency to view masculinity as ‘toxic’ and dangerous. It turns out that there are many occasions – and not just during disasters – when masculine responses are a good thing, if not life-saving. A New York Times report highlighted rescuers’ boats ‘with painted images of Texas flags and scantily clad women on the sides’; the men ‘were sleep-deprived, hungry and armed. They smoked cigarettes. They cursed.’ Today’s feminists would no doubt denounce such masculine, working-class behaviour. The people of Texas, however, see them as endearing heroes.
The people of Texas have taught us all valuable lessons. Our culture needs more Texas, and less PC. We need to build on the example of self-sufficiency and willingness to help each other that the Texas volunteers showed, and not just in response to natural disasters. We need to assume the best, not the worst, in our fellow citizens.
Houston is not over Harvey yet – there will be a lot more work to do, families to help and houses to rebuild. But Texans have already shown they have the grit and resilience to handle anything, and that should inspire us all.
Sean Collins is a writer based in New York. Visit his blog, The American Situation.

The American Spirit Is Alive in Texas

People are rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on an air boat in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017.  (REUTERS/Rick Wilking )
Give Texas what it needs. It has endured a disaster without precedent. Washington must move quickly, generously. There should be no “The relief bill must be offset by cuts in federal spending.” There should be no larding it up or loading it down with extraneous measures. This is an emergency.
This is no time to threaten government shutdowns. It’s no time to be dilating on debt ceilings. This is the time to know as never before that everything that holds us together as a nation must be strengthened wherever possible, and whatever sinks us in rancor avoided and shunned.
Give Texas everything it needs, and do it right quick.
Most Americans, including Texans, don’t have more than a few hundred dollars in available savings. Most live close to the edge, paycheck to paycheck. Most homeowners in Houston don’t have flood insurance. When they’re lucky enough to get out of the shelter, they’ll return to houses that are half-ruined—wet, moldy, dank, with no usable furniture—and with kids coming down with colds and stomach ailments from stress or from standing water that holds bacteria and viruses. It will be misery for months. When the trauma is over, there’ll be plenty of time for debate. Do we need to hold more in reserve for national disasters? Do local zoning laws need rethinking? All worthy questions—for later.
There is such a thing as tact. It has to do with a sense of touch—an ability to apprehend another’s position or circumstances, and doing or saying the right thing. There is, believe it or not, such a thing as political tact. It too involves knowing the positions of others, and knowing what time it is.
Politicians, don’t use this disaster to score points or rub your ideology in somebody’s face or make your donors smile by being small, not big.
Give Texas what it needs. Keep the government up and running. Don’t even consider doing otherwise.
Now another subject, which ties back to Houston. A lot of people this week were saying, “You should see that Mattis speech.” A frequent answer was: “I did. I play it over and over.”
A week or so ago, probably in Jordan, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had an impromptu meeting with what looked like a few dozen U.S. troops. Someone taped it. This is what Mr. Mattis said: “Hold the line.”
“For those of you I haven’t met, my name’s Mattis,” he began. “Thanks for being out here, OK? I know at times you wonder if any of us know . . . but believe me, I know you’re far from home every one of you, I know you could all be going to college you young people, or you could be back on the block. [We’re] just grateful. . . .
“The only way this great big experiment you and I call America is gonna survive is if we’ve got tough hombres like you. . . . We don’t frickin’ scare, that’s the bottom line.
“You’re a great example for our country right now. It’s got some problems—you know it and I know it. It’s got problems that we don’t have in the military. And you just hold the line, my fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it, of being friendly to one another. That’s what Americans owe to one another—we’re so doggone lucky to be Americans.”
He ended: “I flunked retirement, OK? Only reason I came back was to serve alongside young people like you, who are so selfless and frankly so rambunctious.”
This was the voice of true moral authority, authority earned through personal sacrifice. Speeches like that come only from love.
But it was particularly poignant that Mattis’s speech, with its refrain—“Hold the line”—spread so far and fast this week.
And so, to selfless and frankly rambunctious Texas:
If you gave just a few minutes to the news, you saw it all—the generosity and courage, the sense of community, of people who really care about each other. You saw the pontoons and air mattresses and bass boats and rowboats and pool floats in which people were rescued. No one knows how many were saved or how many saved them. Every disaster at some point becomes a jumble, and people stopped counting. But surely tens of thousands were saved.
We all saw it, often live, on television and the internet because of excellent reporters and crews:
A mother with little children was marooned, the water in her home rising dangerously. “I didn’t know who to call. I didn’t know if it was going to be too late.” Suddenly, there were men outside the house coming for her. “It was just an angel,” she said as she wept from the back of their boat.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo honored Steve Perez, the 60-year-old cop who drowned in his patrol car. When Mr. Acevedo spoke to Perez’s widow, she told him she’d begged her husband not to go in but he’d told her, “We’ve got work to do.” The chief told her: You know who he was, if he had to die, he wouldn’t want it to be home in bed, he would have wanted it to be on the job and trying to help. “Because he has that in his DNA,” said Mr. Acevedo.
On one channel they were looking for what they’d heard was a group of abandoned horses being led through the streets by a guy in a jet ski. In Columbia Lakes a local man showed a reporter the homemade barrier he’d built to protect his neighbors in case the levee broke. He wasn’t afraid: “We don’t do drama.”
On Facebook there was the story of the woman who went into labor while the waters quickly rose. Word spread through the apartment complex. Soon a huge, heavy truck made its way to her door. Neighbors formed a human chain to help her out. She got to the hospital and gave birth to a girl.
There were a lot of human chains. And often when they showed people being pulled from houses the families were all ethnicities and races, the whole American mix—black mamas, white papas, mixed kids, an Asian child. On the national level America always sounds like a constant argument over race. On the local level, meantime, everybody has been happily integrating in the most personal possible ways.
The local ABC station caught a young Catholic priest, a French Canadian assigned to a Houston parish, out in a kayak in heavy rain looking for people who could use a Mass. “I guess this is how the Americas were evangelized as well with a canoe,” he said, “and this is a kayak. I hope that can bring a smile to a few people.” Noticing the TV cameras, he said: “I guess we’re live. The Lord is alive, and the Lord is always with us as well.”
And of course there was the Cajun Navy, from Louisiana, performing its own spontaneous Dunkirk. Texas had taken them in after Katrina. Now it was “Sam Houston, we are here.”
We are a great nation. We forget. But what happened in Texas reminded us. It said: My beloved America you’re not a mirage, you’re still here.
If they’d done only that, they’d deserve whatever they need.
They held the line.

Mark Steyn: Dem IT Scandal Is Worse than Russia and Nobody's Interested in It

August 31, 2017

"Basically everything people have been looking for in the so-called Russia investigation is actually here in the more or less uncovered Imran Awan investigation," political commentator Mark Steyn argued on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight Wednesday evening.

He brought up the latest shoe to drop in the growing scandal, which was broken this week by Luke Rosiak in The Daily Caller, as a prime example.

"This guy [Imran Awan] had his access to House email withdrawn because he was a security risk, yet he still had a House email," said Steyn incredulously.

"This story is malodorous to a degree that nothing surrounding Trump's involvement in the Miss Universe Pageant in St. Petersburg ... is at all ... and nobody's interested in it!" he continued.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz in recent weeks has defended her decision to keep Awan -- a suspect in a criminal investigation --  on as an employee even after he was arrested by claiming that he is a victim of anti-Islamic bigotry.

"He's a civil-rights martyr," Carlson remarked sarcastically.

"He's been accused of browsing while Muslim,"  Steyn snarked in reply.

"She [Wasserman Schultz] has already attempted to intimidate and obstruct the investigation," said Steyn, referring to her threat last May that there would "be consequences" if U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa did not return her laptop.

"As you know, she demanded the return of her laptop from the policeman investigating's on camera and it's the interference with a police investigation that everyone's accusing Trump of doing with James Comey and all those guys!" Steyn exclaimed. "So everything they've been ... sniffing around Trump for with the Russia investigation ... is staring them in the face with this thing!"

"Man, if we ever get a Republican-controlled Congress, maybe they'll investigate it," Carlson piped in, sarcastically again.

Steyn ended the segment with a humorous riff on Hillary Clinton's book tour which, according to a press release, promises to be "surprisingly funny."

"I thought election night was surprisingly funny," Steyn deadpanned.

He joked that there are scores of "Saudi princes and Sudanese warlords" who are upset with Clinton only charging North Americans $2400 to meet her.

"That's bargain-basement prices for a meet and greet," he said. Speaking for the Saudis and Sudanese, he added, "I had to pay four million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and sit through a speech on diarrhea in Africa from Chelsea [Clinton] before I could get a meet and greet with Hillary Clinton."

He called both events a "hell of a steal."

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey Will Be the Turning Point of the Trump Presidency

August 30, 2017

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Rescue workers helping residents make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain following Hurricane Harvey in Houston. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Has Harvey shaken America seriously enough to diminish the cold civil war that has overtaken our country?  Has it made our divisions seem at least a tiny bit more trivial?

No doubt a hardcore of hate-filled bozos drunk on some witless ideology will always be with us.  There's still a market for Guy Fawkes masks for adjunct junior college professors to pretend they're violent anarchist revolutionaries out of some Dostoevsky novel they never finished. And the tone-deaf nitwits on the L.A. City Council did choose the occasion of an ongoing massive natural disaster to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, to include a paid vacation for all city employees (but not the myriad other taxpayers of the vast metropolis).

Nevertheless, a flood of Noah-like proportions has a way of focusing the mind, at least for some, maybe even most, of us.

And Donald Trump has clearly done well thus far in his capacity of crisis-manager-in-chief. It seems the presidential activity he was born for, the one most akin to running a large hotel construction job or renovating an historic ice-skating rink.  Moreover, reconstruction is certain to go on for quite a while and remain a focal point of our national attention for a significant period. Trump should know how to handle it as well as anybody who has held the office.

For this reason, Harvey will likely be the turning point in the Trump presidency.  His adversaries sense it too. You know the Never Trumpers of the left and right are pretty hard up when all they have to obsess about are Melania Trump's stilettos that she only wore onto a plane anyway.

Now I'm not saying that it will be clear sailing from now on.  I would have to be a moron. There may be six more wacky tweets, including three attacks on Rosie O'Donnell or some other monumentally trivial figure before you read this, causing many of his supporters to groan.  But the impact will be less.  Trump is proving himself under fire in a situation immeasurably more important than Twitter sideshows.  Nitpickers now seem more what they are -- pickers of nits.  And those accusing Trump of racismsexismhomophobiaIslamophobiayaddayaddayadda will appear to be exactly what they are as well -- dim-witted bores who wouldn't know a real racist when they saw one. (Most likely that would take a mirror.)

More importantly, by continuing to act as he has, Trump will defuse whatever eventually comes down from the Mueller investigation, unless, of course, it is proven that the Russians caused Harvey, in which case all bets are off (kidding, I hope). Moreover, he will achieve that Holy Grail of Holy Grails, the tax reform he spoke of in his speech Thursday.

In the real world of humans in which we live, however, it should be obvious that many will be disappointed, even deeply depressed, if what I wrote proves to be true -- that Harvey is the turning point of the Trump presidency.  These people have vested interests in his failure for various reasons, just as I, admittedly, since I supported him, have a vested interest in his success.  But I would ask these Never Trumpers of the right and left to take a breath and examine their motivations.  Like mine and everybody else's, they are not always pure.  Do you want me to be wrong?  If so, why?  Wouldn't you prefer, for the sake of our country and its people, that I be right?   If not, why not?

But no matter the motivations, or the scores that might or might not need settling, this country and its 325 million citizens remain.  Many of them are doing miraculous things for their fellow citizens in the flood waters of Texas and now Louisiana. They are pleased and often proud to have a president who is wholeheartedly supporting them.  You should be too.  Who knows what will happen?  But rooting for American greatness wouldn't hurt.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Amid Giancarlo Stanton’s home run tear, baseball again grapples with significance of 61

August 28, 2017
Giancarlo Stanton hits his 50th home run of the season. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)
Giancarlo Stanton climbed the visiting dugout stairs at Nationals Park and joined his Miami Marlins teammates in stretching lines, a mundane act turned extraordinary by the man performing it. Stanton’s physique would make him look like a comic book hero if he was sorting the mail, and his recent feats have separated him from the planet’s other 7 billion occupants. Stanton stands out, and so as he emerged into view Monday evening, a murmur spread in the seats behind the dugout.
“Giancarlo!” one fan hollered. “I’m rooting for you! Sixty-two! Sixty-two, man! You got it!”
In baseball, certain numbers evoke certain feelings. Sixty-two is one of those, which is complicated. Major League Baseball’s single-season home run record is not the 61 Roger Maris blasted in 1961. It is the 73 home runs Barry Bonds hit in 2001, one of those seasons when Bonds, through superhuman skill and inhuman chemistry, rearranged the game’s limits.
Stanton has forced the sport, for perhaps the first time in the current era, to grapple with the difference in those numbers. Stanton entered Monday night having launched an are-you-sure-that’s-not-a-typo? 17 homers in 25 August games, pushing his season total 50 with more than a month remaining.
The tear has positioned Stanton as the first slugger to potentially challenge Maris’s total since 2006, when Ryan Howard had 56 with 21 games remaining but petered out to finish with 58. Stanton, then, may have the best chance to slam 62 homers since baseball’s wholesale attempts to rid the sport of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. He is starting to understand what that means, and the glare that comes with it.
“I’m not going through that B.S. runaround again, like I had to last time,” Stanton said Monday, when asked about the record.
In mid-August, a SportsCenter anchor asked him on live television what number he viewed as a milestone for the season, and he said 62. The next day, reporters approached him and asked him to clarify. He said he believed 73 home runs was tainted as a record “considering some things” and that 61 had “been the printed number” for years.
Monday afternoon, after his initial reticence, Stanton elaborated.
“They both had an advantage either way,” Stanton said. “Sixty-one was against one race. Seventy-three, 70, there could be controversy around that. They both had different advantages, in my view. So the record is the record. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.”
Stanton’s history is off — Babe Ruth hit 60 homers at a time when only whites were permitted, but Maris set his record after integration. His larger point remains valid. The game changes through eras, and comparing accomplishments will always be fraught. Maris didn’t face Asian pitchers or specialized relievers or the volume of great Latin players in the game today.
The stain of steroid use heightens the noise, particularly because steroid use is a choice that separated some players from others. But performance-enhancing drugs permeated the era — how many home runs did Bonds hit against pitchers who had gained their own advantage?
Sixteen years from now, those in the sport may look upon Stanton’s 2017 home run total and look askance at the allegedly juiced baseballs he walloped. That would be a different kind of asterisk than cheating peers by using performance-enhancing drugs, but it may be an asterisk all the same.
In a sign of how complex the whole matter is, Stanton at once admits the blemish on Bonds’s record while receiving counsel from him. Bonds served as Miami’s hitting coach last season, and Stanton still exchanges text messages with him. Recently, Bonds has offered tips about to remain prepared as opponents pitch around him.
“Barry’s been huge for me,” Stanton said. “We talk all the time. He’s guided me along this year as well, helping me with questions [about the home run record], but on the field, too. He’s telling me, ‘Stay the course. Get ready to go every day.’ ”
A few lockers down, Ichiro, considered the question with the wisdom of a 43-year-old with 17 years in the majors, many of them during the so-called Selig Era. The topic sparks endless discussion, but no definitive answer.
“A lot of people have different opinions,” Ichiro said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be able to say, ‘This is it,’ because there are so many opinions out there. This is how it’s going to be. That’s the reality of the situation.”
Jayson Werth’s grandfather, Dick Schofield, played with Maris. As a small child, Werth recalled, Werth once attended Thanksgiving dinner at Maris’s home. He understands how the nature of the record perpetuates the pull of 62, no matter how 73 may be viewed. Bonds has held the record, amid controversy, for 16 years. Mark McGwire held it with 70 for three years. Maris’s 61 stood for 37 years. The majority of fans, and even a large portion of today’s players, grew up with 61 homers ingrained as the standard.
“When you look over the course of baseball history, 61 was the number for a long time,” Werth said. “Until those guys did what they did, it wasn’t even fathomable, really. I kind of came up in that era. I played against Barry Bonds. I played against Sammy Sosa. I’ve seen what these guys can do, and I’ll tell you: They’re some of the most special, talented athletes that have ever played this game. I would not take anything away from those guys. But I do think that number — 61 — is significant and is quite a feat, regardless of what anyone else has done.”
Nationals Manager Dusty Baker managed Bonds in 2001, and he maintains the proper record is 73. Those on Baker’s side hold the debate’s simplest and most powerful cudgel: It happened. Seventh-three times in 2001, Bonds hit a pitched ball over a fence, and whatever discomfort some feel about it now cannot reverse the past.
“Isn’t 73 the record?” Baker said. “I was there when he hit 73. So that’s the record to me. Boy, that was a lot of home runs.”
Baker, at least, took a side. Don Mattingly, Stanton’s manager and a player of significance himself, declined to offer an opinion.
“Then we’re into guessing and confusing,” Mattingly said. “The record is — I don’t even know what the record is. Whatever the record is, the record is. Everyone else can figure out which one they think is legit or not.”
Consider, for a moment, a borderline Hall of Famer, one of the great hitters of the 1980s, professing with a straight face ignorance of the record for homers in a season. Bonds may hold the official record, but 73 does not resonate like 61.
In this way, the reckoning of the Selig Era continues to haunt the sport. No matter how effective testing becomes, no matter how close the league comes to eradicating PEDs, once-hallowed numbers will engender debate and uncertainty. Until a presumably clean slugger challenges 73, something not even Stanton will approach this season, homer totals into the 60s will spark both awe and a measure of awkwardness.
There is still plenty of room for awe. Stanton is a player like few others, venturing into territory few have been, no matter the number where he lands.
“I remember when I was in elementary school,” Ichrio said. “When Nintendo came out, there was a baseball game. At first, there was only Japanese teams. But then the new edition came out with the major league team. And they would only hit home runs. That’s what we’re witnessing now, is that game. He’s like a Nintendo game.”

Scandal Erupts over the Promotion of ‘Bourgeois’ Behavior

Two law professors face racism, sexism, and homophobia charges for urging Americans to act responsibly.

By Heather Mac Donald — August 29, 2017
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Professor Amy Wax and Professor Larry Alexander

Were you planning to instruct your child about the value of hard work and civility? Not so fast! According to a current uproar at the University of Pennsylvania, advocacy of such bourgeois virtues is “hate speech.” The controversy, sparked by an op-ed written by two law professors, illustrates the rapidly shrinking boundaries of acceptable thought on college campuses and the use of racial victimology to police those boundaries.

The Fuse Is Lit

On August 9, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego law professor Larry Alexander published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a revival of the bourgeois values that characterized mid-century American life, including child-rearing within marriage, hard work, self-discipline on and off the job, and respect for authority. The late 1960s took aim at the bourgeois ethic, they say, encouraging an “antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal [of] sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society.”

Today, the consequences of that cultural revolution are all around us: lagging education levels, the lowest male work-force participation rate since the Great Depression, opioid abuse, and high illegitimacy rates. Wax and Alexander catalogue the self-defeating behaviors that leave too many Americans idle, addicted, or in prison: “the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.”

Throwing caution to the winds, they challenge the core tenet of multiculturalism: “All cultures are not equal,” they write. “Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy.” Unless America’s elites again promote personal responsibility and other bourgeois virtues, the country’s economic and social problems will only worsen, they conclude.
The University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, spotted a scandal in the making. The day after the op-ed was published, it came out with a story headlined “‘Not All Cultures Are Equal’ Says Penn Law Professor in Op-Ed.” Naturally, the paper placed Wax and Alexander’s op-ed in the context of Wax’s other affronts to left-wing dogma. It quoted a Middlebury College sociology professor who claimed that Middlebury’s “students of color were being attacked and felt attacked” by a lecture Wax gave at Middlebury College in 2013 on black-family breakdown. It noted that Penn’s Black Law Students Association had criticized her for a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2005 on black self-help.

But the centerpiece of the Daily Pennsylvanian story was its interview with Wax. Wax (whom I consider a friend) is the most courageous truth-teller on American colleges today. Initially trained as a neurologist at Harvard Medical School, she possesses fearsome intelligence and debating skills. True to form, she stuck by her thesis. “I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior’” with regard to Anglo-Protestant cultural norms, she told the paper. “Everyone wants to come to the countries that exemplify” these values. “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.” Western governments have undoubtedly committed crimes, she said, but it would be a mistake to reject what is good in those countries because of their historical flaws.

The fuse was lit. The rules of the game were the following: Ignore what Wax and Alexander had actually said; avoid providing any counterevidence; and play the race card to the hilt as a substitute for engaging with their arguments.

Enter the ‘Isms’

First out of the gate was the Penn graduate students’ union, GET-UP. On August 11, a day after the Daily Pennsylvanian article, GET-UP issued a “Statement about Wax Op-Ed,” condemning the “presence of toxic racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes on campus.” The “superiority of one race over others is not an academic debate we have in the 21st century,” GET-UP wrote. “It is racism masquerading as science.”

But the Wax-Alexander op-ed and the Wax interview said nothing about racial superiority (much less about sex or homosexuality). It argued for a set of behavioral norms that are available to all peoples but that had found their strongest expression over the course of a particular culture. As the Daily Pennsylvanian itself acknowledged, Wax had emphasized to them that she was not implying the superiority of whites. “Bourgeois values aren’t just for white people,” she had said. “The irony is: Bourgeois values can help minorities get ahead.”

No matter. Time to roll out the racial victimology. “The kind of hate Wax espouses is an everyday part of many students’ lives at Penn, and we can and must fight against it,” GET-UP thundered in its peroration. “For every incident like this that gains press and publicity, we must recognize that there are countless [others that] go unmarked and unchecked.”

The idea that privileged graduate students at Penn, one of the most tolerant, racially sensitive environments in human history, experience everyday “hate” is delusional. The adults on campus so fervently seek the presence of underrepresented minority undergraduates and graduate students that they use racial preferences to admit many of them.

GET-UP bravely announced that it “stands with the students attacked by Professor Wax, and against racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia in all their forms.” Fact check: Wax had attacked no students. Her argument was against the 1960s countercultural revolution that had undermined the legitimacy of bourgeois values.

Unanswered question: Were Wax and Alexander wrong that the virtues of self-restraint, deferred gratification, and future orientation are key for economic and personal progress, and that an anti-achievement, anti-authority culture of drug use and a detachment from the work force is inimical to advancement? GET-UP had nothing to say about those key matters.

The Daily Pennsylvanian followed up with another article on August 13, titled “Campus Is Abuzz over Penn Law Professor Amy Wax’s Controversial Op-Ed, Which Called for a Return of ‘Bourgeois’ Cultural Values.” The August 13 article quoted liberally from the GET-UP statement and added some sarcastic tweets by an assistant professor of educational linguistics at the education school. The professor, Nelson Flores, also implied that Wax was nostalgic for Jim Crow. The student paper noted that a Philadelphia councilwoman had tweeted that Wax’s comments were “miserable.” University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann would not comment on the matter because she was traveling, a university spokesman told the paper. 
Nothing prevented the university, however, from issuing a strong statement supporting its professors’ good-faith participation in public debate.

Feisty as ever, Wax e-mailed the paper: “If this is the best Penn professors and grad students can do, our culture really is in trouble.”

More Booty, More Bureaucracy

Missing so far from the reaction was a call for speech restrictions and more diversity infrastructure. The IDEAL Council, “representing marginalized graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania through the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly,” corrected the omission with its August 17 “Open Letter to the University of Pennsylvania Regarding Hate Speech in Our Community.”

Wax and Alexander’s Inquirer op-ed “pivoted on the denigration of a number of racial and socioeconomic groups,” which “will not be surprising to many students of color, especially those in the law school who have had to take a course with Wax,” IDEAL claimed. “Her racist and homophobic statements are well-documented both on and off campus.”

The Inquirer op-ed, however, is about behavior, not about racial groups per se. (IDEAL and GET-UP both ignore the fact that Wax and Alexander criticize white underclass behavior, a silence necessary to clear the deck for full-throated racial victimology.) Far from mistreating “students of color,” Wax has received a law-school teaching award from Penn’s law students and a second university-wide teaching award, conferred by faculty committee. If she oppressed “students of color,” the faculty presumably would have heard about it.

A glad cry must have gone out among IDEAL manifesto writers when they discovered that Wax had taught at the University of Virginia law school until 2001. Voilà! Irrefutable proof of bigotry! “Prior to teaching at Penn, Wax was a professor at the University of Virginia Law School,” the manifesto gloats. “On August 12th, White supremacists marched through the University of Virginia carrying torches, chanting ‘You will not replace us,’ and yelling racial and anti-Semitic slurs.” The causality speaks for itself, but in case the reader needs help, IDEAL explains that the white supremacy “can find its intellectual home in the kind of falsely ‘objective’ rhetoric in Amy Wax’s statement, which positions (white) bourgeois culture as not only objectively superior, but also under incursion from lesser cultures and races.”

“Falsely ‘objective’” presumably means: “based on facts that one is unable to rebut.” Nothing in the Wax-Alexander op-ed claimed that white culture was under incursion from lesser races. The 1960s attack on bourgeois culture came most forcefully from American “academics, writers, artists, actors, and journalists,” they write, “who relished liberation from conventional constraints.” That is not a racial critique, it is an ideological one. For good measure, IDEAL also links Wax to “eugenicist ideas and practices.”

Having established Wax’s connection to the “metastasizing KKK chapters of Pennsylvania,” IDEAL gets down to brass tacks: demands for a “formal policy for censuring hate speech and a schedule of community-based consequences for discriminatory acts against marginalized groups.” Typical of the associational chain used by campus leftists, the IDEAL Open Letter equates rational argumentation with “hate speech,” and “hate speech” with “discriminatory acts.” Without consequences for these “discriminatory acts,” U. Penn.’s “vulnerable students” will continue to be “harmed,” “dehumanized,” and “compromised” in their ability to get an education. If a student’s ability to pursue his education can be “compromised” by a single op-ed, perhaps he is not ready for advanced studies.

Finally, of course, comes the demand for booty and bureaucracy: a “formal, centralized Diversity & Inclusion office with staff that are charged directly with . . . providing resources for students experiencing marginalized [sic] or discrimination at Penn.” Never mind that Penn has been cranking out “Action Plans for Faculty Diversity and Excellence,” “Faculty Inclusion Reports,” “Gender Equity Reports,” and “Minority Equity Progress Reports” for two decades.
The unanswered question remains: Were Wax and Alexander wrong that the virtues of self-restraint, deferred gratification, and future orientation are key for economic and personal success? Like GET-UP, IDEAL had not one word to say about the Wax-Alexander thesis, confining itself instead to accusations of racism.

Well, perhaps Wax’s fellow professors at the University of Pennsylvania law school will do better? No such luck. On August 20, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Sophia Z. Lee, Serena Mayeri, Dorothy E. Roberts, and Tobias Barrington Wolff, all U. Penn. law professors, published their own op-ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian, “Notions of ‘Bourgeois’ Cultural Superiority Are Based on Bad History.” The Roberts et al. op-ed employed two strategies: linking Wax to white supremacists and focusing on 1950s race and sex discrimination to the exclusion of anything else.

The group column likens the Wax-Alexander celebration of bourgeois virtues to the “defense of Confederate statues that ignores their promotion of white supremacy.” Like the statue defenders, Wax is making a “thinly veiled argument for . . . Anglo-Protestant superiority.” But Wax and Alexander were arguing for the superiority of a set of cultural norms. Anyone can adopt those norms; they are not limited to a particular race, though historically, they developed most fully in the West.

The rest of the Roberts et al. column details the very real civil-rights violations of pre-1960s America, as well as some not so real ones. But Wax and Alexander readily acknowledged, in their words, the “racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism” of the period. They argued, however, that banishing discrimination need not entail banishing the cultural norms that allow individuals from every social stratum to lead productive lives. Roberts and her co-authors recycle the lie that white conservatives used the criminal law to reinstate de facto segregation. To the contrary, it was the millions of law-abiding blacks in high-crime neighborhoods who demanded a crackdown on drug dealing and violent crime in the 1960s onward (see Michael Fortner’s Black Silent Majority and James Forman’s Locking Up Own Own). 

The column ends by taking another jab at Wax and Alexander’s supposed racism: “If the history of the twentieth century, and now the twenty-first, teaches us anything, it is that assertions of white cultural superiority have devastating consequences.”

Unanswered Questions

The same questions remain unanswered, however: Are bourgeois virtues a solution to today’s economic and social ills? Should the country’s so-called thought leaders affirm the value of temperance and thrift? Is the rising illegitimacy rate a good thing for children? These are the core matters raised by the Wax-Alexander op-ed, but the piece by Roberts and her colleagues, like the manifestos that preceded it, is silent about them. As for Wax’s observation that migration overwhelmingly flows to countries that have historically embraced bourgeois values, not one of the critics has provided any counter-examples.

Classes at the Penn law school begin after Labor Day; we will see whether the attempt to silence Wax continues when more students arrive on campus. The law school to date has tried to distance itself from the controversy: “The views expressed in the article are those of the individual authors,” a spokesman told the Daily Pennsylvanian via e-mail. “They are not a statement of Penn Law’s values or institutional policies.” That is either an anodyne truism or an underhanded dig at the op-ed as contrary to the school’s “values.” The administration should make it crystal clear that reasoned argumentation is not “hate speech” or a “discriminatory act.”

Wax will not be silenced by this fierce deployment of the racism card. But most academics are not so brave. The op-ed’s primary sin was to talk about behavior. The founding idea of contemporary progressivism is that structural and individual racism lies behind socioeconomic inequalities. Discussing bad behavioral choices and maladaptive culture is out of bounds and will be punished mercilessly by slinging at the offender the usual fusillade of “isms” (to be supplemented, post-Charlottesville, with frequent mentions of “white supremacy”). The fact that underclass behaviors are increasingly common among lower-class whites, and not at all limited to poor blacks and Hispanics, might have made it possible to address personal responsibility. That does not appear to be the case.

What if the progressive analysis of inequality is wrong, however, and a cultural analysis is closest to the truth? If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable “hate speech,” then it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.

 Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The War on Cops.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Mood Music of Mohammed

By Mark Steyn
August 28, 2017

Image result for Abdelbaki es Satty barcelona

Imamen Abdelbaki es Satty has probably been radicalized by one of the terrorists who was behind the attack in Madrid in 2004. Photo: AP / JOSEP LAGO

It's what? ten? no, eleven days since the attacks in Spain that left 14 people dead in Barcelona plus one woman in the nearby seaside town of Cambrils. For once there wasn't even the pretense that this was a "lone wolf" terrorist. It was an extremely large cell, organized by an imam called Abdelbaki es Satty, who prematurely self-detonated the night before when he and his conspirators accidentally blew up the house they'd filled with TATP.
I thought these novel aspects might hold the attention of the media. The imam/cell leader would seem to belie the view of the US National Security Advisor H R McMaster that Muslim terrorists who commit terror in the name of Islam do so out of "ignorance" of their faith - a view so fiercely held by Mr McMaster that it has resulted in the systematic cleansing from the White House of all those who dissent therefrom. And had Imam es Satty managed to get the TATP into the back of the van the death toll would have been many times higher.

But he didn't, so it wasn't. And fifteen dead on a glamorous and glittering European boulevard at the height of the tourist season now barely rates a #JeSuisWhatever hashtag, never mind an all-star pop concert with an audience of sorrowful, tilty-headed locals promising that no matter how often you blow us up we won't change - by, say, adopting a less tilty-headed and sorrowful expression. The imam's plan - to destroy the spectacular landmark church of the Sagrada Família - is oddly similar to the plot of Brad Thor's new thriller, Use of Force, where the equivalent Spanish target is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Indeed, the imam's van driver has the same name as Mr Thor's key plotter: Younes. But what's thrilling in a thriller in now just the humdrum background music of real life in the new Europe.

So Barcelona came and went before I had a chance to write about it. So did Finland. You don't remember that one? No imams, no TATP. Just a lone stabber going full Allahu Akbar in a shopping mall in Turku. Two women dead, eight injured. As it happens, I was in Turku last year, driving up the west coast of Finland all the way to Kemi, a somewhat unprepossessing burg at the top of the Bay of Bothnia, where I'd had an extensive conversation, in the pedestrian shopping arcade, with an elderly "refugee" in a dingy dishdash. And I'd intended to write something about how absurd it was that clothing designed for the deserts of Araby was now a not unfamiliar sight in southern Lapland, in a town that's more or less the last stop before Santa's Grotto.

But ten stabbing victims in Finland barely makes the papers at all: Foot-of-page-27 "News in Brief" stuff. Just the umpteenth confused fellow acting out of "ignorance" of his religion. If only H R McMaster had become a bigshot ayatollah and opened a seminary in Qom or Cairo, all this "ignorance" could have been avoided.

There was more "ignorance" afoot in Europe last night. On the boulevard Émile Jacqmain in the heart of Brussels a Somali was shot dead after yelling "Allahu Akbar" and taking his machete to a bunch of soldiers, and Buckingham Palace was reported to be in "lockdown" after another guy with another machete and another cry of "Allahu Akbar" took on another security detail. As A A Milne put it:
They're stabbing the guard at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Mahmoud went down to kill Alice...
Lest you detect a pattern of behavior here, the Palace perp is reported to be "a 26-year-old man from Luton". The Brussels stabber is not from Luton. So no general conclusions can be drawn: It's not like Charlottesville, where one Caucasian in an automobile is an indictment of the entirety of American history necessitating the demolition of Stone Mountain and Mount Rushmore.

The Queen is older than almost all those around her, certainly older than her guards and the 26-year-old Lutonians lunging at them with machetes. And she must occasionally reflect that not so long ago one didn't hear words like "machete" and "lockdown" in connection with Buckingham Palace: "baldachin", "porte-cochère" certainly; but not "lockdown". Yet, if such thoughts should rise unbidden in one's mind, it is prudent to suppress them. Consider the cautionary tale of Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham and spokesperson for "Women and Equalities" in Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet. Ms Champion penned a column for The Sun earlier this month:
Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.
There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?
Whether or not it makes her a racist, it makes her ineligible to be "Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities" in Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. Jeremy Corbyn fired Ms Champion. If you wish to prosper on Mr Corbyn's front bench, be less like Sarah Champion and more like her fellow northern MP Naz Shah. In the wake of Ms Champion's sacking, Ms Shah failed to spot that the following Tweet was intended satirically, and so clicked "Like" and reTweeted it:
Those abused girls in Rotherham and elsewhere just need to shut their mouths. For the good of diversity.
Poor Ms Shah. As the late Ayatollah Khomeini sternly instructed, "There are no jokes in Islam." Why should she be expected to recognize the mordant wit for which the English were once famed? The sentiment obviously struck her has eminently sounded. Queen Victoria is said apocryphally to have advised her daughter on her wedding night: "Lie back and think of England." Her great-great-granddaughter's subjects are enjoined by Naz Shah to lie back and think of the vibrant diversity of the new England.

In the current issue of the Mark Steyn Club newsletter, The Clubbable Steyn, I recount my visit to Rotherham to meet some of those "raped and exploited white girls". Actually, I'm not sure the general term "raped and exploited" quite covers the particular horrors inflicted on them - urinated on by groups of Muslim men, dangled over balconies, doused in petrol as their tormentors danced around them with cigarette lighters, etc. As Steyn Club members will know, Sarah Champion was the politician who accompanied the girls I spoke to on a blackly comic visit to Downing Street to meet with David Cameron. I'm gratified by the response to the piece from readers. Kevin Smith:
Just finished The Clubbable Steyn. "Asia Minor" is stunning.
Nestled amongst the good stuff in my first issue of The Clubbable Steyn is the masterpiece "Asia Minor". Brilliant and sad.
Messrs Smith and Ross are too kind. Tracking down the victims of Rotherham required a bit of elementary detective work on my part, but it's not that difficult. What struck me, as my time in town proceeded, was how few members of the British media had been sufficiently interested to make the effort: The young ladies were unstoppably garrulous in part because, with a few honorable exceptions, so few of their countrymen have ever sought them out to hear their stories. To damn with the faintest of praise, the victims had a more favorable view of Ms Champion than they did of the rest of officialdom - council, police, social workers, etc - who colluded with the Muslim gangs in covering up the town-wide "grooming" and blaming it on the girls. That parody Tweet above about the "need to shut their mouths. For the good of diversity" is, in fact, the unspoken belief of almost everyone who matters in Britain. Which is one reason why Ms Shah fell for it. And also why, as I explained in my report, the sexual exploitation of children is still going on in Rotherham. In broad daylight.

No matter. Ms Shah is the future of the Labour Party, and Ms Champion, a telegenic modern woman and formerly a rising Labour star, has been taught a hard lesson in the hierarchy of identity politics. Amid all this Mohammedan mood music - Barcelona, Turku, Brussels, Buckingham Palace, Rotherham - you'll be glad to hear a real news story occasionally breaks through. Rod Liddle writes in The Spectator of a thwarted airline passenger called Mohammad Khan:
I wonder how Mohammad Khan is getting on in his legal action against Virgin Atlantic. Mo — a Muslim, the clue's in the name — was waiting to board a flight when he started 'harmlessly' talking about 9/11. There is no reason to believe he has any connections with extremists, but he was kicked off the flight because of security concerns and had to fly out of the UK with another airline. Although he was later offered a refund, he is now suing, claiming he was 'racially and religiously profiled' by the Virgin staff. 'I know this wouldn't have happened if I'd been a white man in his sixties,' Mo complained. No, probably not. But if the world were comprised entirely of white men in their sixties, then 9/11 might not have happened. The world might also be a nicer place to live, although there might be too many bridge tournaments for my own taste.
It's entirely reasonable to be less suspicious of a white man in his sixties than a younger man called Mohammad burbling about 9/11. Indeed, it's so reasonable that it's now verboten. In the comments section below another Spectator column, readers speculate on what it will take for anything to change. But all the scenarios have already happened: mass murder at pop concerts, national holidays, Christmas markets; the industrial-scale sex slavery of young girls in Rotherham; the deliberate targeting for death of young girls in Manchester...
And still the most obvious mitigation of future slaughter - an end to mass Muslim immigration - cannot even be raised in public by Europe's establishment.

So on we go: Rotherham, Paris, Nice, Berlin, Manchester, London, Barcelona... Because these mysterious unconnected events keep happening, officialdom now thinks it advisable to give the citizenry a head's up. Rod Liddle notes the latest genius innovation:
Has your child read Moggy's Coming yet? That's a book being distributed to infant school children in order to prepare them for the next Muslim attack. It features a school of mice being menaced by a large cat and includes some words — to be sung to the tune of 'Campfire's Burning' — about what to do: 'Moggy's coming, Moggy's coming, we're in danger, we're in danger, run hide and tell! Treat the hurt mice, treat the hurt mice!' 
There is also a poem which advises the toddlers on how to deal with wounds inflicted by this 'cat'. 'You can pack a wound and press/to stop the bleeding for success!' The cat just looks like a cartoon cat; it isn't screaming 'Allahu Akbar' or anything. The cat is simply a random hazard, nobody and nothing to blame for its murderous existence just beyond the school gates. It's just what cats do. They kill mice. Part and parcel of living in a big city, isn't it, Sadiq?
Moggy's Coming? My own foray into this territory, Feline Groovy, has done pretty well for me, but, if we ever do a sequel, it's clear the big bucks are in Feline Jihad. One final comment on my trip to Rotherham:
I am really enjoying my 1st edition of The Clubbable Steyn. That Rotherham story shows us pure evil exists!
No, sir. It shows us how easily a once civilized people get used to pure evil - at first declining to notice it, to let it catch your eye, and then accommodating it and incubating it. You'll be surprised how quickly such an attitude becomes universally understood, so that the few who insist on noticing, on not accommodating it become the real problem. See no evil, hear no cries of the victims, speak no forbidden thought of the motivations behind today's terror attack, and tomorrow's, and the day after...

So female shoppers in Finland get stabbed by murderous Muslims, and Buckingham Palace is in lockdown because of a man from Luton. Lie back and think of a lost England - and a lost Europe.

~Mark's trip to Rotherham is recounted in the first issue of The Clubbable Steyn, which comes free with membership in The Mark Steyn Club: You can sign up for a full year, or, lest you suspect a dubious scam by a fly-by-night shyster, merely a quarter. And don't forget our new gift membership for a friend or loved one. Among the other benefits of membership is our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time. A brand new serialization starts this Friday. And feel free to disagree with Steyn on any of the above by logging-in and commenting below. For more on The Mark Steyn Club, please see here.