Day: October 7, 2017

Reassessing Orwell to Understand Our Times


Just two or three generations ago, most Americans understood that George Orwell’s classics Animal Farm and 1984 were written to explain how freedom is lost to totalitarianism and the intolerance that accompanies it.  “Big Brother,” a term still casually used to describe an all-knowing governing authority, comes right out of 1984. In the state that Orwell describes, all subjects are continually reminded that “Big Brother is watching you,” by way of constant surveillance through the pervasive use of “telescreens” by the ruling class. 

Orwell’s warnings about totalitarianism written in novel form in Animal Farm and 1984 came shortly after Freidrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom was published at the end of World War II.  But it took the shocking revelations from books on Nazism and Soviet Communism, by scholars like William Shirer and Robert Conquest in the 1960s, to really make Orwell relevant for teaching to the masses educated in American public schools.  And it was not just an academic exercise insofar as Stalin’s successors Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin were at that time rolling tanks into Czechoslovakia to crush all resistance — enforcing the “Iron Curtain” over eight countries in Eastern Europe — the Soviet model of totalitarian control and subservience to Moscow.     

Reading Orwell, it was thought, would help American students appreciate their freedoms and gain perspective and critical faculties so as to understand socialist totalitarianism and its defining features: 1) the institutionalization of propaganda designed to warp and destroy people’s grasp on reality, and 2) the fostering of group think, conformity and collectivism designed to eliminate critical and independent thinking.

Orwell described the scope of the totalitarian enterprise, noting in one section of 1984 that “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”   

In 1984, Orwell said, “Who controls the past controls the future.” Orwell’s coining of the concepts and terms of “newspeak, doublethink and thought police” are what we now experience as political correctness. Newspeak is the distorted reality accomplished by manipulating the meaning of language and words, while doublethink is the conditioned mental attitude to ignore reality and common sense and substitute and embrace a distorted or false narrative. The analogs of “thought police” in 1984 are now the enforcers of political correctness seen in the mainstream media and college campuses across the country.

As Orwell notes, “the whole aim of newspeak and doublethink is to narrow the range of thought.” Political correctness has the same goal and that’s why its adherents are so intolerant — seeking to shut down and silence people with whom they disagree on college campuses, clamoring for removal of historic statues and monuments so they can rewrite history and control the future, and demanding that people with opposing views on such subjects as climate change and gay marriage be silenced, fined or arrested.

Many assume that because the press is not state-controlled in the U.S. there is a long way to go before the American government has the power of Orwell’s Big Brother.

But what if the universities and the educational system and the major television and print media institutions embrace the groupthink that ingratiates them with the ruling elite?  What if the culture shapers in Hollywood and the advertising industry on Madison Avenue follow a similar path in participating in and reinforcing the same groupthink norms?

And what if the rise of social media promote a kind of groupthink conformity that effectively marginalizes and silences opposing views? Could it then be that propaganda in a free democratic nation like America might be more effective in shaping thought and attitudes of the masses than the propaganda of totalitarian regimes affects their subjects?      

Orwell’s Big Brother has become a reality in the NSA’s tracking and recording all email, text and telephone communication in the United States.  But Big Brother has a new dimension with social media and consumer giants, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, knowing almost everything about people’s preferences through their artificial intelligence peering into peoples’ “telescreen” computers and smartphones.   

Social media have great power to narrow the range of acceptable thought. On Facebook, those who openly support a politically correct view — what appears to be the popular majority view — are frequently lauded with thumbs up, while dissenters often remain silent to avoid being criticized or denounced. All of which leads to what is called “the spiral of silence,” which reinforces the groupthink of what seems to be the social and cultural majority.

What comfortable and disengaged Americans have forgotten is that there are determined enemies within and there is an internal war being waged against the values and institutions that made America a great nation.

The left is the vanguard leading this war, following a course laid out by cultural Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci and members of the Frankfurt School. Becoming influential in the 1930s and beyond, they believed the “long march through the institutions” was the best route to taking power in developed, industrialized societies such as the United States and Europe. This “march” would be a gradual process of radicalization of social and cultural institutions — “the superstructure” — of bourgeois society, which would transform the values and morals of society.  In retrospect, there is a high correlation between the softening of morals over the last two or three generations and the corruption of our family, political, legal and, economic foundation. 

There are three measures of the establishment’s venality.  First there is a high incidence of denial, manifest for instance in little to no discussion of the doubling of national debt in just 9 years to over $20 trillion, and unfunded entitlement liabilities now five times greater than that — conditions inviting financial collapse of the U.S. A second measure of corruption is the establishment’s reluctance to prosecute fellow establishment law breakers in government, which has effectively created a two-tiered justice system. A third measure of establishment corruption is its accommodation of extremist anti-American groups as though they have a legitimate role to play in reform and influence on policy-making — whether in taking down historic monuments, creating sanctuary cities and controlling the nation’s borders, establishing police protocols in law enforcement, fighting wars overseas, or restructuring the economy at home.

The hostility to the Trump Presidency by the establishment elite in both political parties, the media, the teachers’ unions, the university faculties, and Hollywood is probably a contrary indicator. It likely tells us more about the real state of corruption in government, the establishment media, and popular culture than it does about Trump and his peccadillos. 

A society committed to maintaining liberty, prosperity, and opportunity for all needs to focus on real threats, a key one of which is now the loss of freedom of speech and the assault on the First Amendment.        

One of our nation’s founders, Patrick Henry of Richmond, Virginia, was a gifted and passionate orator best known for his declaration, “Give me liberty or give me death.”  But his most important, substantive and lasting contribution to the legacy of freedom was his tenacious and ultimately successful fight to have the Bill of Rights amended to the Constitution because of his conviction that the First Amendment and nine others were absolutely necessary to protect individual liberty against the power and abuse of centralized government.

Orwell reminds us today of the critical importance of the First Amendment, noting “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Exactly the opposite of the current trajectory and what the politically correct crowd wants.

Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org  

Just two or three generations ago, most Americans understood that George Orwell’s classics Animal Farm and 1984 were written to explain how freedom is lost to totalitarianism and the intolerance that accompanies it.  “Big Brother,” a term still casually used to describe an all-knowing governing authority, comes right out of 1984. In the state that Orwell describes, all subjects are continually reminded that “Big Brother is watching you,” by way of constant surveillance through the pervasive use of “telescreens” by the ruling class. 

Orwell’s warnings about totalitarianism written in novel form in Animal Farm and 1984 came shortly after Freidrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom was published at the end of World War II.  But it took the shocking revelations from books on Nazism and Soviet Communism, by scholars like William Shirer and Robert Conquest in the 1960s, to really make Orwell relevant for teaching to the masses educated in American public schools.  And it was not just an academic exercise insofar as Stalin’s successors Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin were at that time rolling tanks into Czechoslovakia to crush all resistance — enforcing the “Iron Curtain” over eight countries in Eastern Europe — the Soviet model of totalitarian control and subservience to Moscow.     

Reading Orwell, it was thought, would help American students appreciate their freedoms and gain perspective and critical faculties so as to understand socialist totalitarianism and its defining features: 1) the institutionalization of propaganda designed to warp and destroy people’s grasp on reality, and 2) the fostering of group think, conformity and collectivism designed to eliminate critical and independent thinking.

Orwell described the scope of the totalitarian enterprise, noting in one section of 1984 that “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”   

In 1984, Orwell said, “Who controls the past controls the future.” Orwell’s coining of the concepts and terms of “newspeak, doublethink and thought police” are what we now experience as political correctness. Newspeak is the distorted reality accomplished by manipulating the meaning of language and words, while doublethink is the conditioned mental attitude to ignore reality and common sense and substitute and embrace a distorted or false narrative. The analogs of “thought police” in 1984 are now the enforcers of political correctness seen in the mainstream media and college campuses across the country.

As Orwell notes, “the whole aim of newspeak and doublethink is to narrow the range of thought.” Political correctness has the same goal and that’s why its adherents are so intolerant — seeking to shut down and silence people with whom they disagree on college campuses, clamoring for removal of historic statues and monuments so they can rewrite history and control the future, and demanding that people with opposing views on such subjects as climate change and gay marriage be silenced, fined or arrested.

Many assume that because the press is not state-controlled in the U.S. there is a long way to go before the American government has the power of Orwell’s Big Brother.

But what if the universities and the educational system and the major television and print media institutions embrace the groupthink that ingratiates them with the ruling elite?  What if the culture shapers in Hollywood and the advertising industry on Madison Avenue follow a similar path in participating in and reinforcing the same groupthink norms?

And what if the rise of social media promote a kind of groupthink conformity that effectively marginalizes and silences opposing views? Could it then be that propaganda in a free democratic nation like America might be more effective in shaping thought and attitudes of the masses than the propaganda of totalitarian regimes affects their subjects?      

Orwell’s Big Brother has become a reality in the NSA’s tracking and recording all email, text and telephone communication in the United States.  But Big Brother has a new dimension with social media and consumer giants, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, knowing almost everything about people’s preferences through their artificial intelligence peering into peoples’ “telescreen” computers and smartphones.   

Social media have great power to narrow the range of acceptable thought. On Facebook, those who openly support a politically correct view — what appears to be the popular majority view — are frequently lauded with thumbs up, while dissenters often remain silent to avoid being criticized or denounced. All of which leads to what is called “the spiral of silence,” which reinforces the groupthink of what seems to be the social and cultural majority.

What comfortable and disengaged Americans have forgotten is that there are determined enemies within and there is an internal war being waged against the values and institutions that made America a great nation.

The left is the vanguard leading this war, following a course laid out by cultural Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci and members of the Frankfurt School. Becoming influential in the 1930s and beyond, they believed the “long march through the institutions” was the best route to taking power in developed, industrialized societies such as the United States and Europe. This “march” would be a gradual process of radicalization of social and cultural institutions — “the superstructure” — of bourgeois society, which would transform the values and morals of society.  In retrospect, there is a high correlation between the softening of morals over the last two or three generations and the corruption of our family, political, legal and, economic foundation. 

There are three measures of the establishment’s venality.  First there is a high incidence of denial, manifest for instance in little to no discussion of the doubling of national debt in just 9 years to over $20 trillion, and unfunded entitlement liabilities now five times greater than that — conditions inviting financial collapse of the U.S. A second measure of corruption is the establishment’s reluctance to prosecute fellow establishment law breakers in government, which has effectively created a two-tiered justice system. A third measure of establishment corruption is its accommodation of extremist anti-American groups as though they have a legitimate role to play in reform and influence on policy-making — whether in taking down historic monuments, creating sanctuary cities and controlling the nation’s borders, establishing police protocols in law enforcement, fighting wars overseas, or restructuring the economy at home.

The hostility to the Trump Presidency by the establishment elite in both political parties, the media, the teachers’ unions, the university faculties, and Hollywood is probably a contrary indicator. It likely tells us more about the real state of corruption in government, the establishment media, and popular culture than it does about Trump and his peccadillos. 

A society committed to maintaining liberty, prosperity, and opportunity for all needs to focus on real threats, a key one of which is now the loss of freedom of speech and the assault on the First Amendment.        

One of our nation’s founders, Patrick Henry of Richmond, Virginia, was a gifted and passionate orator best known for his declaration, “Give me liberty or give me death.”  But his most important, substantive and lasting contribution to the legacy of freedom was his tenacious and ultimately successful fight to have the Bill of Rights amended to the Constitution because of his conviction that the First Amendment and nine others were absolutely necessary to protect individual liberty against the power and abuse of centralized government.

Orwell reminds us today of the critical importance of the First Amendment, noting “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Exactly the opposite of the current trajectory and what the politically correct crowd wants.

Scott Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org  



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Coal Is Here for the Long Haul


While renewables and nuclear power are set to be the world’s fastest-growing sources of energy through 2040, it’s fossil fuels that will still account for more than 75% of world power production for decades to come. That’s according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest international outlook report, which predicts that global energy consumption will rise by a whopping 28% between 2015 and 2040, with most of the growth driven by rapidly developing Asian nations.

The global energy outlook lays bare what many politicians and energy sector specialists have long known to be true but have been wary of saying above a whisper, especially during the Obama years: coal is here to stay. The numbers – along with major power installation projects underway domestically and abroad – don’t lie. And while green activists might wring their hands, this energy outlook in fact represents a goldmine for the U.S. if we choose the right strategy: one focused on meeting the needs of developing economies hungry for more energy, and on investing in clean coal and similar technologies to maximize the efficiency of our nation’s new plants.

While the liberal media has focused myopically on the one-off shuttering of certain coal plants as a harbinger of a carbon-free future, in fact, it’s coal-fired installations that continue to provide the backbone of electricity generation across the country. In Michigan, for instance, three nuclear power plants powered 28% of the state’s net electricity generation last year, but now, up to 10-20% of that electricity is set to evaporate after the scheduled shutdown of the Palisades nuclear plant. On top of that, U.S. natural gas production has fallen for the first time since 2005, certain states have imposed rules on fracking that could further curtail production, and natural gas prices have shot up by 50% over the past 14 months. This trend, combined with Michigan’s loss of a key source of base load power, makes it abundantly clear that coal-fired plants will have to make up the shortfall. With other states across the country relying on similar energy mixes — overall, 19.7% from nuclear, 30.4% from coal, 33.8% from natural gas, and 14.9% from renewables — steady and even growing reliance on coal-fired plants is set to be replicated nationwide.

On top of domestic plans to increase investments in coal-powered installations, new schemes to supply allied nations with coal are also underway. In Longview, Washington, the Millennium terminal, the largest proposed coal export station in North America, is set to help energy-poor allies like Japan meet their power, national security, and economic growth needs. Japan has always lacked adequate energy resources and this shortfall grew even greater after Fukushima and the ensuing suspension of nuclear energy production. As a result, the government reevaluated the importance of imported coal to base load power and has emerged as a leader in the clean coal technology energy space. The government has plans to build an additional 48 high efficiency, low emissions power plants and is constructing two advanced gasification-based coal plants near Fukushima.

Fortunately, highly developed economies like Japan have enough human and financial capital to invest in advanced coal technology projects. But that’s far from the case for developing countries, which will account for the bulk in world production and use of coal for the next 20+ years. According to the EIA, Africa, the Middle East, and other non-OECD Asian states are predicted to increase coal capacity and generation through 2040, with coal consumption in those countries growing on average 2.4% per year and accounting for 20% of total energy use.

Fortunately, a number of these countries, notably India, have seen the writing on the wall and have started to push for more investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology to meet their energy needs more affordably and efficiently. Earlier this summer, the government announced a new National Mission on advanced ultra supercritical technologies for clean coal utilization at a cost of $248 million, as well as the creation of two centers of excellence on clean coal technology. The government has also been prioritizing ultra high-efficiency, low-emissions technology, with plans to develop an 800-MW power plant with ultra-supercritical boilers within the next three years.

But with New Delhi still struggling to bring electricity to the 20% of the public that is off the grid, it will need to collaborate with more advanced partners to achieve their energy goals. The head of the World Coal Association already said as much earlier this month when he called for India to ally with states like the U.S. to clinch cheaper funding from multilateral development banks to access more efficient technologies. Here, the U.S. has a golden opportunity to export more American commodities and know-how and to catch up with the likes of China and Japan, which have both been pumping colossal funding into power projects overseas and investing in clean energy technologies.

Already, a few steps have been taken towards seizing this chance, with the administration announcing that Washington will use its vote at the World Bank, where it is the biggest shareholder, to help countries use fossil fuels more efficiently and access renewable energy sources. But in other ways, the administration has been falling short. Despite positive words for clean coal, Trump still hasn’t put his money where his mouth is, threatening to cut funding for the very department that researches CCUS by 55%. With the administration’s own EIA making it clear that coal will be on the menu for years to come, the U.S. needs to invest more in exportable technology to help developing nations gain access to reliable, affordable sources of base load power — and to benefit from a market that is set to explode. 

While renewables and nuclear power are set to be the world’s fastest-growing sources of energy through 2040, it’s fossil fuels that will still account for more than 75% of world power production for decades to come. That’s according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest international outlook report, which predicts that global energy consumption will rise by a whopping 28% between 2015 and 2040, with most of the growth driven by rapidly developing Asian nations.

The global energy outlook lays bare what many politicians and energy sector specialists have long known to be true but have been wary of saying above a whisper, especially during the Obama years: coal is here to stay. The numbers – along with major power installation projects underway domestically and abroad – don’t lie. And while green activists might wring their hands, this energy outlook in fact represents a goldmine for the U.S. if we choose the right strategy: one focused on meeting the needs of developing economies hungry for more energy, and on investing in clean coal and similar technologies to maximize the efficiency of our nation’s new plants.

While the liberal media has focused myopically on the one-off shuttering of certain coal plants as a harbinger of a carbon-free future, in fact, it’s coal-fired installations that continue to provide the backbone of electricity generation across the country. In Michigan, for instance, three nuclear power plants powered 28% of the state’s net electricity generation last year, but now, up to 10-20% of that electricity is set to evaporate after the scheduled shutdown of the Palisades nuclear plant. On top of that, U.S. natural gas production has fallen for the first time since 2005, certain states have imposed rules on fracking that could further curtail production, and natural gas prices have shot up by 50% over the past 14 months. This trend, combined with Michigan’s loss of a key source of base load power, makes it abundantly clear that coal-fired plants will have to make up the shortfall. With other states across the country relying on similar energy mixes — overall, 19.7% from nuclear, 30.4% from coal, 33.8% from natural gas, and 14.9% from renewables — steady and even growing reliance on coal-fired plants is set to be replicated nationwide.

On top of domestic plans to increase investments in coal-powered installations, new schemes to supply allied nations with coal are also underway. In Longview, Washington, the Millennium terminal, the largest proposed coal export station in North America, is set to help energy-poor allies like Japan meet their power, national security, and economic growth needs. Japan has always lacked adequate energy resources and this shortfall grew even greater after Fukushima and the ensuing suspension of nuclear energy production. As a result, the government reevaluated the importance of imported coal to base load power and has emerged as a leader in the clean coal technology energy space. The government has plans to build an additional 48 high efficiency, low emissions power plants and is constructing two advanced gasification-based coal plants near Fukushima.

Fortunately, highly developed economies like Japan have enough human and financial capital to invest in advanced coal technology projects. But that’s far from the case for developing countries, which will account for the bulk in world production and use of coal for the next 20+ years. According to the EIA, Africa, the Middle East, and other non-OECD Asian states are predicted to increase coal capacity and generation through 2040, with coal consumption in those countries growing on average 2.4% per year and accounting for 20% of total energy use.

Fortunately, a number of these countries, notably India, have seen the writing on the wall and have started to push for more investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology to meet their energy needs more affordably and efficiently. Earlier this summer, the government announced a new National Mission on advanced ultra supercritical technologies for clean coal utilization at a cost of $248 million, as well as the creation of two centers of excellence on clean coal technology. The government has also been prioritizing ultra high-efficiency, low-emissions technology, with plans to develop an 800-MW power plant with ultra-supercritical boilers within the next three years.

But with New Delhi still struggling to bring electricity to the 20% of the public that is off the grid, it will need to collaborate with more advanced partners to achieve their energy goals. The head of the World Coal Association already said as much earlier this month when he called for India to ally with states like the U.S. to clinch cheaper funding from multilateral development banks to access more efficient technologies. Here, the U.S. has a golden opportunity to export more American commodities and know-how and to catch up with the likes of China and Japan, which have both been pumping colossal funding into power projects overseas and investing in clean energy technologies.

Already, a few steps have been taken towards seizing this chance, with the administration announcing that Washington will use its vote at the World Bank, where it is the biggest shareholder, to help countries use fossil fuels more efficiently and access renewable energy sources. But in other ways, the administration has been falling short. Despite positive words for clean coal, Trump still hasn’t put his money where his mouth is, threatening to cut funding for the very department that researches CCUS by 55%. With the administration’s own EIA making it clear that coal will be on the menu for years to come, the U.S. needs to invest more in exportable technology to help developing nations gain access to reliable, affordable sources of base load power — and to benefit from a market that is set to explode. 



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Timeless Art


Such jokes fall flat on their face today.  One needs to be a history major to understand them.  I remember that, in my teens, I was not catching some of the jokes in the early Bugs Bunny cartoons – a classic reference being the newspaper headline in the cartoon “The Old Grey Hare” that said: Bing Crosby’s Horse Has Not Come in Yet (1:40).

At the time I watched that cartoon in the ’70s, I had to assume that the headline had originally been funny when it came out in the ’40s, but that was long before my own time, and I knew I was missing something.  It would not be until decades later that I found out what the Crosby joke referred to, thanks to the internet – namely, Crosby was infamous for investing in failed racehorses.

The classic, Arsenic and Old Lace, showed a lunatic who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, who charges up the staircase and later tells the hero (Cary Grant) that, after he retires from the presidency, the name of Roosevelt will no longer be heard in Washington anymore.  Needless to say, the movie was made during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.  A jocular reference to the Afrikaans veldt in the movie was probably obscure even in the 1940s.  One needs to be graduate student in history to catch all the humor.

Aggravating the problem is today’s politically correct tendency to edit out or censor some of these oldies because of ethnic, racial, and gender sensibilities.  This can backfire.  The once popular Speedy Gonzales is considered politically offensive and racist by our betters today.  However, it turns out that Latin-Americans still love Speedy Gonzales, who always outwitted the Americano cat.  Latin groups lobbied to have Speedy returned to TV and the media.

Of course, some ethnic groups – almost always white – are still allowed to be stereotyped and pilloried, and the reruns of these caricatures remain politically acceptable, such as the Irish cop or the dim-witted WASP.  Oddly, such white groups often embrace (go to 1:30) their own stereotypes rather than decry them.

Upon examination, we can assume that not only does such politics usually interfere with humor, but it is often poisonous. What does this tell us?

It tells us that true humor expresses the human condition rather than a political statement.  The same can be said of drama. Right now, the media are abuzz about the debut of a gay character on Star Trek.  This politically correct brouhaha will date the episode and probably ruin it for posterity.

Great humor usually reflects on timeless themes, avoiding the ups and downs of cultural fads.

This bring us to an astounding fact.  When asked to mention the two greatest comedic achievements of American TV, one would be surprised how often the answer is either I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners.  Neither of these shows was political.

“Lucy” was voted the best show of all time, beating out finalists “Seinfeld,” “M*A*S*H,” “All in the Family” and “Cheers.” All five finalists were comedies.

I have to suspect that The Honeymoooners was in the top ten contending list.  I Love Lucy‘s presence – indeed, her win – does not surprise me at all.  The Honeymooners probably suffered in consideration due to its short run.

M*A*S*H‘s and All in the Family‘s presence does surprise me.  They were highly politicized, and they certainly date. M*A*S*H, though nominally about the Korean War, was actually dealing with the counter-cultural aspects surrounding the ’60s anti-Vietnam War crises.  There is no way that a cross-dressing soldier like Max Klinger would have been treated so “gently” during the ’50s.

As a curiosity, I have found that aficionados of I Love Lucy often disdain The Honeymooners and vice versa.  It seems that each show appealed to a different segment of the audience.  While I can tolerate The Honeymooners, my preference is for I Love Lucy.  I have a dear friend who is the opposite.

I Love Lucy was not only apolitical, but a good-natured series.  There was no vicious humor.  Ethnic jokes were self-effacing and kept to a bare minimum: usually after Ricky would mangle his English to say something like “I can ‘splain,” to which Lucy would reply, “Start ‘splaining.”  The most endearing ethnic joke was when Ricky told the fable of Little Red Riding Hood to his son in Spanish.

The show was just the old eternal War of the Sexes shtick, yet it worked.  Western civilization was given such gems as the Vitameatavegamin routine and the chocolate assembly line routine.  Then there was the Tango routine, which produced the longest studio laugh in television history (start at 9:45).  The legend is that the director even had to trim the laughter down.  The audience was beside itself.

Now, I Love Lucy was long before my day.  It was long in reruns before I started watching it regularly as a teenager.  So I am not going to assert that “my generation” was the apex of American civilization.  Likewise, The Honeymooners was also made before I was born.  Though I disdained my elders at that time, I had enough sense to recognize that I Love Lucy was good – very good.

The reason these shows last is because true art latches unto to something timeless that strikes an eternal chord.  The media during the fifties tried to suppress dissent.  Controversial topics were avoided, and the prudery could reach absurd levels – such as Ricky and Lucy sleeping in different beds.  I do not defend that.  Yet the writers overcame the restrictions.

What developed afterward in subsequent decades went to the other extreme.  Those shows date poorly, like The Mod Squad, famous for its cops who dressed like hippies and whose chief cultural artifact will be Lincoln Hayes saying, “Solid.”  The ’60s were self-absorbed and pretentious.  The 1997 comedy Austin Powers captured the ephemeral conceit and idiocy of the ’60s era.  Oddly, Austin Powers will also date poorly as the memory of the sixties era it mocked fades into the fog of history.

But I Love Lucy has real potential to endure in the popular imagination for centuries.  Its humor caught a nerve in a good-natured way.  So did The Honeymooners, albeit to a different audience.  While Ralph Kramden might have been annoying to watch, who can ever forget Norton addressing a golf ball by saying, “Hello, ball”?  It is fascinating to see how many young people are attracted to this (see comments).

The overbearing control imposed by the then media censors had at least one good result.  It forced the writers to be funny.  They could not rely on shock or vulgarity to carry a mediocre script, as is so common today.  Network censors still exist, though now they cut out any mention of Jesus or morality or any perceived but often nonexistent racism or genderism, except against whites.

This is not to say the ’50s were halcyon days.  They had their problems.  Yes, the TV was a bit too repressed.  Ricky and Lucy should have been allowed to sleep in one bed, and the word “pregnant” should have been allowed when Lucy was expecting.  The networks shamelessly peddled cigarettes, and the Lucy show even peddled its own furniture line.  The South was still practicing Jim Crow segregation.  Life was not perfect.  It never is.

But for that moment in history, TV was forced to concentrate on good-natured shows about the human condition – a condition that exists apart from politics, fads, trends, and crises.  That is why these shows will last, long after more “important” shows are forgotten.

The same is true in photography, painting, and music.  What survives will be that which is good, not politically “important.”  Much of modern art will not survive the test of time.

Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What is often ignored is that Paul was appealing to pagan virtues, not merely Christian ones, in that verse.  There are eternal verities discernible to all.  Art, if it is to last, if it wants to be eternal, must appeal to those criteria, not what is politically catchy at the moment.  I Love Lucy was still generating $20 million a year in royalties for CBS in 2012.

Now, one could argue that copyright should not extend that long, but the point remains.  Paul’s advice is good for art, and for the artist who wants to be remembered.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who writes on various topics.  He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.

When I was in my very early teens, I remember watching All in the Family.  I thought it was the funniest show on TV at that time.  I watched reruns of it for a while, but by the end of the 1970s, I could not stand it.  Political humor does not date that well.  True comedy is timeless.

It was not that Carroll O’Connor wasn’t quite a talent.  In many ways, he was.  It is rather that the punch lines refer to now forgotten personalities and cultural crises.  How many today under 50 would remember that President Nixon used to be called “Tricky Dick,” and how many would catch the joke when O’Connor’s character Archie Bunker would misstate the then-president’s name as Richard E. Nixon?  (His middle name was Milhous, and the middle initial should have been M.)

Such jokes fall flat on their face today.  One needs to be a history major to understand them.  I remember that, in my teens, I was not catching some of the jokes in the early Bugs Bunny cartoons – a classic reference being the newspaper headline in the cartoon “The Old Grey Hare” that said: Bing Crosby’s Horse Has Not Come in Yet (1:40).

At the time I watched that cartoon in the ’70s, I had to assume that the headline had originally been funny when it came out in the ’40s, but that was long before my own time, and I knew I was missing something.  It would not be until decades later that I found out what the Crosby joke referred to, thanks to the internet – namely, Crosby was infamous for investing in failed racehorses.

The classic, Arsenic and Old Lace, showed a lunatic who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt, who charges up the staircase and later tells the hero (Cary Grant) that, after he retires from the presidency, the name of Roosevelt will no longer be heard in Washington anymore.  Needless to say, the movie was made during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.  A jocular reference to the Afrikaans veldt in the movie was probably obscure even in the 1940s.  One needs to be graduate student in history to catch all the humor.

Aggravating the problem is today’s politically correct tendency to edit out or censor some of these oldies because of ethnic, racial, and gender sensibilities.  This can backfire.  The once popular Speedy Gonzales is considered politically offensive and racist by our betters today.  However, it turns out that Latin-Americans still love Speedy Gonzales, who always outwitted the Americano cat.  Latin groups lobbied to have Speedy returned to TV and the media.

Of course, some ethnic groups – almost always white – are still allowed to be stereotyped and pilloried, and the reruns of these caricatures remain politically acceptable, such as the Irish cop or the dim-witted WASP.  Oddly, such white groups often embrace (go to 1:30) their own stereotypes rather than decry them.

Upon examination, we can assume that not only does such politics usually interfere with humor, but it is often poisonous. What does this tell us?

It tells us that true humor expresses the human condition rather than a political statement.  The same can be said of drama. Right now, the media are abuzz about the debut of a gay character on Star Trek.  This politically correct brouhaha will date the episode and probably ruin it for posterity.

Great humor usually reflects on timeless themes, avoiding the ups and downs of cultural fads.

This bring us to an astounding fact.  When asked to mention the two greatest comedic achievements of American TV, one would be surprised how often the answer is either I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners.  Neither of these shows was political.

“Lucy” was voted the best show of all time, beating out finalists “Seinfeld,” “M*A*S*H,” “All in the Family” and “Cheers.” All five finalists were comedies.

I have to suspect that The Honeymoooners was in the top ten contending list.  I Love Lucy‘s presence – indeed, her win – does not surprise me at all.  The Honeymooners probably suffered in consideration due to its short run.

M*A*S*H‘s and All in the Family‘s presence does surprise me.  They were highly politicized, and they certainly date. M*A*S*H, though nominally about the Korean War, was actually dealing with the counter-cultural aspects surrounding the ’60s anti-Vietnam War crises.  There is no way that a cross-dressing soldier like Max Klinger would have been treated so “gently” during the ’50s.

As a curiosity, I have found that aficionados of I Love Lucy often disdain The Honeymooners and vice versa.  It seems that each show appealed to a different segment of the audience.  While I can tolerate The Honeymooners, my preference is for I Love Lucy.  I have a dear friend who is the opposite.

I Love Lucy was not only apolitical, but a good-natured series.  There was no vicious humor.  Ethnic jokes were self-effacing and kept to a bare minimum: usually after Ricky would mangle his English to say something like “I can ‘splain,” to which Lucy would reply, “Start ‘splaining.”  The most endearing ethnic joke was when Ricky told the fable of Little Red Riding Hood to his son in Spanish.

The show was just the old eternal War of the Sexes shtick, yet it worked.  Western civilization was given such gems as the Vitameatavegamin routine and the chocolate assembly line routine.  Then there was the Tango routine, which produced the longest studio laugh in television history (start at 9:45).  The legend is that the director even had to trim the laughter down.  The audience was beside itself.

Now, I Love Lucy was long before my day.  It was long in reruns before I started watching it regularly as a teenager.  So I am not going to assert that “my generation” was the apex of American civilization.  Likewise, The Honeymooners was also made before I was born.  Though I disdained my elders at that time, I had enough sense to recognize that I Love Lucy was good – very good.

The reason these shows last is because true art latches unto to something timeless that strikes an eternal chord.  The media during the fifties tried to suppress dissent.  Controversial topics were avoided, and the prudery could reach absurd levels – such as Ricky and Lucy sleeping in different beds.  I do not defend that.  Yet the writers overcame the restrictions.

What developed afterward in subsequent decades went to the other extreme.  Those shows date poorly, like The Mod Squad, famous for its cops who dressed like hippies and whose chief cultural artifact will be Lincoln Hayes saying, “Solid.”  The ’60s were self-absorbed and pretentious.  The 1997 comedy Austin Powers captured the ephemeral conceit and idiocy of the ’60s era.  Oddly, Austin Powers will also date poorly as the memory of the sixties era it mocked fades into the fog of history.

But I Love Lucy has real potential to endure in the popular imagination for centuries.  Its humor caught a nerve in a good-natured way.  So did The Honeymooners, albeit to a different audience.  While Ralph Kramden might have been annoying to watch, who can ever forget Norton addressing a golf ball by saying, “Hello, ball”?  It is fascinating to see how many young people are attracted to this (see comments).

The overbearing control imposed by the then media censors had at least one good result.  It forced the writers to be funny.  They could not rely on shock or vulgarity to carry a mediocre script, as is so common today.  Network censors still exist, though now they cut out any mention of Jesus or morality or any perceived but often nonexistent racism or genderism, except against whites.

This is not to say the ’50s were halcyon days.  They had their problems.  Yes, the TV was a bit too repressed.  Ricky and Lucy should have been allowed to sleep in one bed, and the word “pregnant” should have been allowed when Lucy was expecting.  The networks shamelessly peddled cigarettes, and the Lucy show even peddled its own furniture line.  The South was still practicing Jim Crow segregation.  Life was not perfect.  It never is.

But for that moment in history, TV was forced to concentrate on good-natured shows about the human condition – a condition that exists apart from politics, fads, trends, and crises.  That is why these shows will last, long after more “important” shows are forgotten.

The same is true in photography, painting, and music.  What survives will be that which is good, not politically “important.”  Much of modern art will not survive the test of time.

Philippians 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

What is often ignored is that Paul was appealing to pagan virtues, not merely Christian ones, in that verse.  There are eternal verities discernible to all.  Art, if it is to last, if it wants to be eternal, must appeal to those criteria, not what is politically catchy at the moment.  I Love Lucy was still generating $20 million a year in royalties for CBS in 2012.

Now, one could argue that copyright should not extend that long, but the point remains.  Paul’s advice is good for art, and for the artist who wants to be remembered.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who writes on various topics.  He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.



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Liberal Outrage Is All about Getting Votes


The Vegas shooting has brought the topic of gun control front and center once again.  Within mere hours after the event took place, countless liberal politicians and celebrities were prattling on in their best sanctimoniously outraged voices about the evil of guns and the need for more gun control laws.  We need to do “something,” they said.  Disgraced former NBC anchorperson Tom Brokaw said, “It’s time for a national dialogue on guns,” and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel opined that the “GOP should be praying to G-d for forgiveness” (at the 4:59 mark) for basing their national policy on the wants and needs of the NRA.

There were lots of vague statements from these same liberal sources about the U.S. having more mass shootings than other countries, with the thinly veiled implication that they are all the fault of white male conservatives.  (Historical facts need not apply.  Disregard the Asian Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, or the Muslim shooters at Fort Hood [Nidal Hasan], San Bernardino [Syed Rizwan Farook], and the Orlando nightclub [Omar Mateen].  We have a political narrative to put forth here, and we’re not about to let any random facts stand in our way.)

There is also widespread liberal praise for the gun buy-back programs that have supposedly been effected in Britain and Australia.  The lower proportional numbers of mass gun violence in these countries are presented by the anti-gun lobby as an evidentiary component of the value of having an unarmed civil populace.  It’s a risibly simplistic, unprovable causality, but it’s unquestionably a convenient statistic for them, to be sure.

No one – absolutely no one – is saying or implying that any normal, rational person doesn’t and shouldn’t feel genuine sorrow and compassion for the victims of gun violence.  But as Rahm Emanuel once said in his early days in the Obama administration, “[liberals should] never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Indeed, they never do.  The entire liberal community – the liberal mainstream media, politicians and celebrities – has been quick to paint this as just the latest in a string of disastrous shootings brought about by conservatives’ unwarranted, blind, inhumane support of the NRA-led gun-owners’ lobby.  The liberal message is clear: don’t vote for them!  Conservatives support policies that kill your children.

When pressed for details to define the “something” that must be done, liberal pundits and politicians come up heavy on clichéd platitudes but very short on specifics.  Private ownership of fully automatic weapons is extremely difficult and expensive to effect, as is the conversion of a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic version.  And a new law would not have prevented Stephen Paddock’s action.  He was not on any federal, state, or local watch list or database.  He had no history of mental illness or any noteworthy criminal background or prior convictions.  He had no known association with terror groups, nor any documented travel to terror hotspots.  Paddock didn’t espouse allegiance or belong to any extremist organizations.  There were no missed red flags.  His inner thoughts are apparently to blame, and it doesn’t appear that there is a specific law or pre-emptive action that is opposed by conservatives that could have prevented the attack.

So what, specifically, should be done?  Liberals usually say only “something,” but then they cover up their lack of specific proposals by implying that conservatives are fine with occasional mass shootings, because they (conservatives) consider such shootings to be the “price of freedom.”  Yet when asked to recommend actual new laws and policies that would have prevented this – or any other – mass shooting and to specify how the new law would have done so, liberals get often just get mad at the questioner and resort to the “something” line.  Or is it the “now’s the time” line?  Or the “we’ve had enough” line?

Nonetheless, while the entire country mourns the senseless loss of life and is justifiably angered by the heinous actions of a madman, half the country – the liberal half – is concurrently scheming and strategizing to co-opt a national tragedy and turn it into political advantage by explicitly blaming conservatives for creating the circumstances and conditions that enabled the event to take place.

Brokaw, Kimmel, Chuck Todd, Hillary, Bernie, Chris Matthews, Chris Cuomo, Whoopie, Ellen – all the usual liberal talking heads are seemingly more concerned with pinning fault on conservatives, thus rendering them unworthy of election by any intelligent, lucid, humane individual, than they are understanding the motives and reasons for the crime itself.

This is yet another example of liberals’ mastery of media manipulation when it comes to influencing public opinion.  It may be distasteful to attempt to ply a domestic tragedy into tactical political leverage, but the liberal side knows its strengths.  Liberals know they’ll be afforded cover by the mainstream media when they use a grievous national heartbreak and attempt to court naked political advantage.

It may not work.  Many people will be repulsed by liberals taking blatant advantage of an appalling occurrence.  But in some instances, with some people, it will work.  Liberals are gambling they’ll win more supporters by blaming conservatives than they’ll lose from appearing crass and distasteful.  For liberals, it’s always about the votes.

The Vegas shooting has brought the topic of gun control front and center once again.  Within mere hours after the event took place, countless liberal politicians and celebrities were prattling on in their best sanctimoniously outraged voices about the evil of guns and the need for more gun control laws.  We need to do “something,” they said.  Disgraced former NBC anchorperson Tom Brokaw said, “It’s time for a national dialogue on guns,” and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel opined that the “GOP should be praying to G-d for forgiveness” (at the 4:59 mark) for basing their national policy on the wants and needs of the NRA.

There were lots of vague statements from these same liberal sources about the U.S. having more mass shootings than other countries, with the thinly veiled implication that they are all the fault of white male conservatives.  (Historical facts need not apply.  Disregard the Asian Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, or the Muslim shooters at Fort Hood [Nidal Hasan], San Bernardino [Syed Rizwan Farook], and the Orlando nightclub [Omar Mateen].  We have a political narrative to put forth here, and we’re not about to let any random facts stand in our way.)

There is also widespread liberal praise for the gun buy-back programs that have supposedly been effected in Britain and Australia.  The lower proportional numbers of mass gun violence in these countries are presented by the anti-gun lobby as an evidentiary component of the value of having an unarmed civil populace.  It’s a risibly simplistic, unprovable causality, but it’s unquestionably a convenient statistic for them, to be sure.

No one – absolutely no one – is saying or implying that any normal, rational person doesn’t and shouldn’t feel genuine sorrow and compassion for the victims of gun violence.  But as Rahm Emanuel once said in his early days in the Obama administration, “[liberals should] never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Indeed, they never do.  The entire liberal community – the liberal mainstream media, politicians and celebrities – has been quick to paint this as just the latest in a string of disastrous shootings brought about by conservatives’ unwarranted, blind, inhumane support of the NRA-led gun-owners’ lobby.  The liberal message is clear: don’t vote for them!  Conservatives support policies that kill your children.

When pressed for details to define the “something” that must be done, liberal pundits and politicians come up heavy on clichéd platitudes but very short on specifics.  Private ownership of fully automatic weapons is extremely difficult and expensive to effect, as is the conversion of a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic version.  And a new law would not have prevented Stephen Paddock’s action.  He was not on any federal, state, or local watch list or database.  He had no history of mental illness or any noteworthy criminal background or prior convictions.  He had no known association with terror groups, nor any documented travel to terror hotspots.  Paddock didn’t espouse allegiance or belong to any extremist organizations.  There were no missed red flags.  His inner thoughts are apparently to blame, and it doesn’t appear that there is a specific law or pre-emptive action that is opposed by conservatives that could have prevented the attack.

So what, specifically, should be done?  Liberals usually say only “something,” but then they cover up their lack of specific proposals by implying that conservatives are fine with occasional mass shootings, because they (conservatives) consider such shootings to be the “price of freedom.”  Yet when asked to recommend actual new laws and policies that would have prevented this – or any other – mass shooting and to specify how the new law would have done so, liberals get often just get mad at the questioner and resort to the “something” line.  Or is it the “now’s the time” line?  Or the “we’ve had enough” line?

Nonetheless, while the entire country mourns the senseless loss of life and is justifiably angered by the heinous actions of a madman, half the country – the liberal half – is concurrently scheming and strategizing to co-opt a national tragedy and turn it into political advantage by explicitly blaming conservatives for creating the circumstances and conditions that enabled the event to take place.

Brokaw, Kimmel, Chuck Todd, Hillary, Bernie, Chris Matthews, Chris Cuomo, Whoopie, Ellen – all the usual liberal talking heads are seemingly more concerned with pinning fault on conservatives, thus rendering them unworthy of election by any intelligent, lucid, humane individual, than they are understanding the motives and reasons for the crime itself.

This is yet another example of liberals’ mastery of media manipulation when it comes to influencing public opinion.  It may be distasteful to attempt to ply a domestic tragedy into tactical political leverage, but the liberal side knows its strengths.  Liberals know they’ll be afforded cover by the mainstream media when they use a grievous national heartbreak and attempt to court naked political advantage.

It may not work.  Many people will be repulsed by liberals taking blatant advantage of an appalling occurrence.  But in some instances, with some people, it will work.  Liberals are gambling they’ll win more supporters by blaming conservatives than they’ll lose from appearing crass and distasteful.  For liberals, it’s always about the votes.



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The Zionists are Coming! Panic at San Francisco State U.


In the fevered imagination of the academic left, these are dark days at San Francisco State University (SFSU).  Speakers at a two-day conference, “Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference at San Francisco State University,” described a campus where a “corporatist” administration is at war with its faculty; Arab-American professors are afraid to walk alone on campus; ethnic student organizations are consigned to the dank student center basement; “Zionists” lie in wait to pounce on innocent, beleaguered proponents of “Palestine”; and “white supremacy” rules.  All at one of the most radical universities in the nation.

Leading these lamentations was the director of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED), Rabab Abdulhadi, whose anti-Israel activism is coming back to haunt her.  In addition to being named in a Lawfare Project (L.P.) lawsuit against SFSU alleging “anti-Semitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students,” she is at the heart of a Middle East Forum and Campus Watch campaign to end the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) she brokered between SFSU and An-Najah University, a hotbed of anti-Semitism and radicalism in the West Bank.

The conference was held on the top floor of the bustling Cesar Chávez Student Center – adorned with murals of Malcolm X and Edward Said – in spacious, light-filled Jack Adams Hall.  A bulletin board near the entrance displayed a flyer calling for the removal of San Francisco’s Pioneer Monument, which it dubbed a “monument to white supremacy!”  Conference programs featured a graphic of President Donald Trump’s silhouette balanced with a white fist on a scale of justice.   

The audience of mostly students and small clusters of faculty ranged from a sparse fifty to sixty for the panel “Academic Freedom for Whom? Islamophobia, Palestine, and Campus Politics” to around 250 – many sitting on the floor after the seats quickly filled up – for “Muslims, Mexicans, and the Politics of Exclusion.”

Abdulhadi chaired both panels, while Hatem Bazian, director of U.C. Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project, participated in the second.  Both, she noted, hail from Nablus in the West Bank.  The co-panelists were graduate student instructors (one nicknamed “Che”), local leftist activists, and “veterans” of SFSU’s 1968 Third World Liberation Front strike.

Abdulhadi – who assured the audience she is a woman, lest anyone fear that a man heads AMED – was persistently on the defensive.  Harried and angry, her rapid-fire speech rendered many words unintelligible.  She complained about Campus Watch tweets “attacking her” and marveled at the “four articles” (two pieces, in fact) about the MOU-facilitated “Prisoner, Labor, and Academic Delegation,” which sent Americans who served prison time for Weather Underground-affiliated domestic terrorism to meet fellow self-described “political prisoners” at Najah.

She blamed these concerns – and the well documented history of terrorism and anti-Semitism at Najah – on her opponents’ “muddying the waters” with spurious claims of anti-Semitism and falsely conflating Arabs and Muslims with terrorism.  In Abdulhadi’s world, evidently, Palestinian terrorism and the cultural indoctrination underpinning it simply do not exist.  

The bulk of her ire was directed at SFSU’s administration and her onetime ally, President Leslie Wong, with whom she had collaborated to create the MOU.  She noted repeatedly that she had left a superior position as director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn at SFSU’s invitation, only to find herself relegated to a “token,” subjected to “new McCarthyism,” with AMED starved of funds and slated for termination.

Abdulhadi blamed Wong’s supposed abandonment of her on “Zionist pressure,” while accusing the administration of “Islamophobia”; “anti-Palestinian racism”; and the bigotry du jour, “white supremacy.”  She and her supporters fault Wong for not reacting quickly or stridently enough to the ongoing David Horowitz Freedom Center poster campaign at SFSU, U.C. Berkeley, and elsewhere, despite evidence to the contrary.  As with the grievances she reportedly filed earlier this year against the university “for the hostile and unsafe work and study environment for Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs on campus,” there is little proof to back up her assertions.   

Paranoia may better explain her worries, for she then declared, “I do not walk by myself on campus anymore. I am actually very afraid for my life.”  Because, you see, “the very people who are intimidating and harassing us, including people who have served in the Israeli military – and I grew up under Israeli occupation – are walking around on campus.”  Who knew that IDF soldiers are menacing SFSU’s faculty?!  

Abdulhadi’s co-panelists, in turn, praised her not only as a “Palestinian scholar” and a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, but as a pillar of the community.  Diana Block, a participant in the Prisoner, Labor, and Academic Delegation, solicited funds on Abdulhadi’s behalf and encouraged audience members to attend a hearing in San Francisco on November 8 for motions to dismiss and strike the L.P. lawsuit filed by both Abdulhadi and the California State University system (CSU), of which SFSU is a part.  This proves that the university is indeed defending her, including deploying her tactic (in CSU’s motion to strike) of accusing her opponents of racism against “brown, black, and Muslim people.”

Yet Abdulhadi is her own worst enemy.  After spewing anti-Semitism in a rant written in response to the suit, she again exhibited the very bigotry she denies exists: she railed against the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) for condemning the General Union of Palestinian Students’ (for which she serves as faculty adviser) disruption of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat’s 2016 SFSU talk.  Then, despite the university’s conclusion that Jewish student group Hillel was “improperly excluded” from a February campus civil rights information fair, she thundered, “People who are … oppressors have no place in spaces where people need to be protected. So the Know Your Rights Fair was right to not have a table for Hillel!”

Bazian piled on by repeating his contention that “[m]any of those who are engaged in the Islamophobia industry have been engaged in it to protect Israel’s interests in the U.S.”  They believe, he maintained, that “stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia is the way to protect Israel.”  

Conspiracy-mongering co-panelist Sara Kershnar of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) claimed that an IJAN report to which Abdulhadi and AMED had contributed exposed several “Zionist backlash” organizations, including the Middle East Forum, whose president, Daniel Pipes, she dubbed “one of the fathers of the Islamophobia industry” and an “intermediary” for “millions and millions of dollars” that he doles out to his minions.  Pipes, Horowitz, L.P., the AMCHA Initiative, the Zionist Organization of America, and JCRC are, she warned, “at the center of the attack on SFSU.”

Abdulhadi and her anti-Israel cohorts may feel besieged, but they’re hardly victims.  What they label a nefarious plot is simply a justified lawful reaction to their dominance at SFSU and universities across teh nation.  The MOU with terror-promoting An-Najah is among the most blatant examples of this overreach, and the Middle East Forum remains committed to its demise.  No longer will activists posing as academics in order to push an illiberal agenda go unopposed.

Cinnamon Stillwell, a graduate of San Francisco State University, is the West Coast representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org.

In the fevered imagination of the academic left, these are dark days at San Francisco State University (SFSU).  Speakers at a two-day conference, “Rights and Wrongs: A Constitution and Citizenship Day Conference at San Francisco State University,” described a campus where a “corporatist” administration is at war with its faculty; Arab-American professors are afraid to walk alone on campus; ethnic student organizations are consigned to the dank student center basement; “Zionists” lie in wait to pounce on innocent, beleaguered proponents of “Palestine”; and “white supremacy” rules.  All at one of the most radical universities in the nation.

Leading these lamentations was the director of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED), Rabab Abdulhadi, whose anti-Israel activism is coming back to haunt her.  In addition to being named in a Lawfare Project (L.P.) lawsuit against SFSU alleging “anti-Semitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students,” she is at the heart of a Middle East Forum and Campus Watch campaign to end the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) she brokered between SFSU and An-Najah University, a hotbed of anti-Semitism and radicalism in the West Bank.

The conference was held on the top floor of the bustling Cesar Chávez Student Center – adorned with murals of Malcolm X and Edward Said – in spacious, light-filled Jack Adams Hall.  A bulletin board near the entrance displayed a flyer calling for the removal of San Francisco’s Pioneer Monument, which it dubbed a “monument to white supremacy!”  Conference programs featured a graphic of President Donald Trump’s silhouette balanced with a white fist on a scale of justice.   

The audience of mostly students and small clusters of faculty ranged from a sparse fifty to sixty for the panel “Academic Freedom for Whom? Islamophobia, Palestine, and Campus Politics” to around 250 – many sitting on the floor after the seats quickly filled up – for “Muslims, Mexicans, and the Politics of Exclusion.”

Abdulhadi chaired both panels, while Hatem Bazian, director of U.C. Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project, participated in the second.  Both, she noted, hail from Nablus in the West Bank.  The co-panelists were graduate student instructors (one nicknamed “Che”), local leftist activists, and “veterans” of SFSU’s 1968 Third World Liberation Front strike.

Abdulhadi – who assured the audience she is a woman, lest anyone fear that a man heads AMED – was persistently on the defensive.  Harried and angry, her rapid-fire speech rendered many words unintelligible.  She complained about Campus Watch tweets “attacking her” and marveled at the “four articles” (two pieces, in fact) about the MOU-facilitated “Prisoner, Labor, and Academic Delegation,” which sent Americans who served prison time for Weather Underground-affiliated domestic terrorism to meet fellow self-described “political prisoners” at Najah.

She blamed these concerns – and the well documented history of terrorism and anti-Semitism at Najah – on her opponents’ “muddying the waters” with spurious claims of anti-Semitism and falsely conflating Arabs and Muslims with terrorism.  In Abdulhadi’s world, evidently, Palestinian terrorism and the cultural indoctrination underpinning it simply do not exist.  

The bulk of her ire was directed at SFSU’s administration and her onetime ally, President Leslie Wong, with whom she had collaborated to create the MOU.  She noted repeatedly that she had left a superior position as director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan, Dearborn at SFSU’s invitation, only to find herself relegated to a “token,” subjected to “new McCarthyism,” with AMED starved of funds and slated for termination.

Abdulhadi blamed Wong’s supposed abandonment of her on “Zionist pressure,” while accusing the administration of “Islamophobia”; “anti-Palestinian racism”; and the bigotry du jour, “white supremacy.”  She and her supporters fault Wong for not reacting quickly or stridently enough to the ongoing David Horowitz Freedom Center poster campaign at SFSU, U.C. Berkeley, and elsewhere, despite evidence to the contrary.  As with the grievances she reportedly filed earlier this year against the university “for the hostile and unsafe work and study environment for Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs on campus,” there is little proof to back up her assertions.   

Paranoia may better explain her worries, for she then declared, “I do not walk by myself on campus anymore. I am actually very afraid for my life.”  Because, you see, “the very people who are intimidating and harassing us, including people who have served in the Israeli military – and I grew up under Israeli occupation – are walking around on campus.”  Who knew that IDF soldiers are menacing SFSU’s faculty?!  

Abdulhadi’s co-panelists, in turn, praised her not only as a “Palestinian scholar” and a founding member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, but as a pillar of the community.  Diana Block, a participant in the Prisoner, Labor, and Academic Delegation, solicited funds on Abdulhadi’s behalf and encouraged audience members to attend a hearing in San Francisco on November 8 for motions to dismiss and strike the L.P. lawsuit filed by both Abdulhadi and the California State University system (CSU), of which SFSU is a part.  This proves that the university is indeed defending her, including deploying her tactic (in CSU’s motion to strike) of accusing her opponents of racism against “brown, black, and Muslim people.”

Yet Abdulhadi is her own worst enemy.  After spewing anti-Semitism in a rant written in response to the suit, she again exhibited the very bigotry she denies exists: she railed against the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) for condemning the General Union of Palestinian Students’ (for which she serves as faculty adviser) disruption of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat’s 2016 SFSU talk.  Then, despite the university’s conclusion that Jewish student group Hillel was “improperly excluded” from a February campus civil rights information fair, she thundered, “People who are … oppressors have no place in spaces where people need to be protected. So the Know Your Rights Fair was right to not have a table for Hillel!”

Bazian piled on by repeating his contention that “[m]any of those who are engaged in the Islamophobia industry have been engaged in it to protect Israel’s interests in the U.S.”  They believe, he maintained, that “stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia is the way to protect Israel.”  

Conspiracy-mongering co-panelist Sara Kershnar of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) claimed that an IJAN report to which Abdulhadi and AMED had contributed exposed several “Zionist backlash” organizations, including the Middle East Forum, whose president, Daniel Pipes, she dubbed “one of the fathers of the Islamophobia industry” and an “intermediary” for “millions and millions of dollars” that he doles out to his minions.  Pipes, Horowitz, L.P., the AMCHA Initiative, the Zionist Organization of America, and JCRC are, she warned, “at the center of the attack on SFSU.”

Abdulhadi and her anti-Israel cohorts may feel besieged, but they’re hardly victims.  What they label a nefarious plot is simply a justified lawful reaction to their dominance at SFSU and universities across teh nation.  The MOU with terror-promoting An-Najah is among the most blatant examples of this overreach, and the Middle East Forum remains committed to its demise.  No longer will activists posing as academics in order to push an illiberal agenda go unopposed.

Cinnamon Stillwell, a graduate of San Francisco State University, is the West Coast representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org.



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The Great Hurricane Absence


You will see story after story in the news about how hurricanes are stronger and more frequent. They will tell you that Harvey and Irma are the worst-ever storms and are unprecedented. They will scare up the looming threat of “Global Warming” as if it were a proven fact. They will say that Al Gore predicted this a decade ago in his movie An Inconvenient Truth (2006).

Do not be fooled. That is all a lie. While Harvey and Irma were devastating, they were far from “the worst”. Global Warming has proven to be a myth. Al Gore was dead wrong then and now. What Gore predicted was the exact opposite of what happened. Hurricanes are right now less frequent and milder on average than they were when Vice President Al Gore made that movie.

The data on hurricanes is widely and freely available. So, there is no excuse for the panic-mongering regarding this subject.

The “Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)” index is calculated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Accumulated Cyclone Energy — An index that combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became. It is calculated by squaring the maximum sustained surface wind in the system every six hours that the cyclone is a Named Storm and summing it up for the season. It is expressed in 104 kt2.

This is basically a measure of seasonal hurricane strength as it varies from year to year and should definitively answer the question of whether hurricanes are stronger and more frequent, or not.

The chart below shows the data for 1985 to 2016:

Accumulated Cyclone Energy 1985 to 2016

While there was indeed a peak in 2005, the index has been substantially less – not only in the actual year of Al Gore’s movie debut, but also in every year since then.

To address the frequency of hurricanes, let us examine another NOAA dataset.

The graph below shows the number of days between major hurricane landfalls in the United States. Major Hurricanes are defined as category 3,4 or 5. 

Days Between Landfall of Major Hurricanes in the U.S. Credit NOAA

You see that the dates of the original graph (produced by Roger Pielke Jr.) were from 1900 to June 15, 2017. A new record gap between storms had occurred at that time. This author has added (the orange parts) the intervening time to show the end of the Great Hurricane Absence. You see that this gap (nearly twelve years) is almost twice as long as the previous record in 1900. The “trend” (red line) is now toward slightly longer gaps between storms. i.e., Strong hurricanes are less frequent now.

The IPCC’s website defines their purpose:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change… The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is the Fifth Assessment Report which was finalized in November 2014.

With that in mind, here is the IPCC’s statement on hurricane frequency:

IPCC AR5 (2013) Working Group I, Chapter 2

Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.

The deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas. Speaking from my own family’s oral history:

My great-grandfather Ben was visiting his brother in Galveston when all were trapped by a rising storm surge that reached the attic of the two-story house before it broke apart. Ben was washed across Galveston Bay to Hitchcock, Texas in the midst of that devastating tempest. By then, Ben had lost his brother and all his brother’s family, who died along with six to ten thousand others on the island and the mainland (Galveston had less than 38,000 inhabitants at the time). Ben barely survived by clinging to a wooden bedstead while being torn by building debris with lots of exposed nails.

Ben told his tale and showed his horrible scars to his little granddaughter who later told her son – that’s me. This makes the 1900 storm very real to this author.  

Now that you have the real story, read and watch as the alarmists try to tell you that Harvey or Irma is the worst storm ever and these hundred-year storms are happening every year.

You can tell them of the “Great Hurricane Absence” and show them these graphs. You can quote the IPCC, a group founded to study (allegedly objectively) the idea of manmade climate change. You can tell them that the deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas.

When you tell the alarmists, they will not believe you because it does not fit their narrative of “Global Warming.” To them, nothing that happened before they were born was real. And nothing since then that does not fit their myth, is fact.

Steve Campbell is a geophysicist idled by the Shale Revolution. Read his blog and contact him at Goingwalkabout.blog. Please include job leads.

 

You will see story after story in the news about how hurricanes are stronger and more frequent. They will tell you that Harvey and Irma are the worst-ever storms and are unprecedented. They will scare up the looming threat of “Global Warming” as if it were a proven fact. They will say that Al Gore predicted this a decade ago in his movie An Inconvenient Truth (2006).

Do not be fooled. That is all a lie. While Harvey and Irma were devastating, they were far from “the worst”. Global Warming has proven to be a myth. Al Gore was dead wrong then and now. What Gore predicted was the exact opposite of what happened. Hurricanes are right now less frequent and milder on average than they were when Vice President Al Gore made that movie.

The data on hurricanes is widely and freely available. So, there is no excuse for the panic-mongering regarding this subject.

The “Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)” index is calculated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Accumulated Cyclone Energy — An index that combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became. It is calculated by squaring the maximum sustained surface wind in the system every six hours that the cyclone is a Named Storm and summing it up for the season. It is expressed in 104 kt2.

This is basically a measure of seasonal hurricane strength as it varies from year to year and should definitively answer the question of whether hurricanes are stronger and more frequent, or not.

The chart below shows the data for 1985 to 2016:

Accumulated Cyclone Energy 1985 to 2016

While there was indeed a peak in 2005, the index has been substantially less – not only in the actual year of Al Gore’s movie debut, but also in every year since then.

To address the frequency of hurricanes, let us examine another NOAA dataset.

The graph below shows the number of days between major hurricane landfalls in the United States. Major Hurricanes are defined as category 3,4 or 5. 

Days Between Landfall of Major Hurricanes in the U.S. Credit NOAA

You see that the dates of the original graph (produced by Roger Pielke Jr.) were from 1900 to June 15, 2017. A new record gap between storms had occurred at that time. This author has added (the orange parts) the intervening time to show the end of the Great Hurricane Absence. You see that this gap (nearly twelve years) is almost twice as long as the previous record in 1900. The “trend” (red line) is now toward slightly longer gaps between storms. i.e., Strong hurricanes are less frequent now.

The IPCC’s website defines their purpose:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change… The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is the Fifth Assessment Report which was finalized in November 2014.

With that in mind, here is the IPCC’s statement on hurricane frequency:

IPCC AR5 (2013) Working Group I, Chapter 2

Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.

The deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas. Speaking from my own family’s oral history:

My great-grandfather Ben was visiting his brother in Galveston when all were trapped by a rising storm surge that reached the attic of the two-story house before it broke apart. Ben was washed across Galveston Bay to Hitchcock, Texas in the midst of that devastating tempest. By then, Ben had lost his brother and all his brother’s family, who died along with six to ten thousand others on the island and the mainland (Galveston had less than 38,000 inhabitants at the time). Ben barely survived by clinging to a wooden bedstead while being torn by building debris with lots of exposed nails.

Ben told his tale and showed his horrible scars to his little granddaughter who later told her son – that’s me. This makes the 1900 storm very real to this author.  

Now that you have the real story, read and watch as the alarmists try to tell you that Harvey or Irma is the worst storm ever and these hundred-year storms are happening every year.

You can tell them of the “Great Hurricane Absence” and show them these graphs. You can quote the IPCC, a group founded to study (allegedly objectively) the idea of manmade climate change. You can tell them that the deadliest hurricane in American history was the 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas.

When you tell the alarmists, they will not believe you because it does not fit their narrative of “Global Warming.” To them, nothing that happened before they were born was real. And nothing since then that does not fit their myth, is fact.

Steve Campbell is a geophysicist idled by the Shale Revolution. Read his blog and contact him at Goingwalkabout.blog. Please include job leads.

 



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Courageous American Feminist: Phyllis Chesler


Anything men can do women can do as well, maybe better was the declaration of the British writer Mary Wollstonecraft, whose “Vindication of the Rights of Women” was published in 1792.  She denied the prevailing attitude that women are naturally inferior to men and insisted that women and men should be equally educated and that equality of men and women should exist in political, social, and economic life.  It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the effort to establish the struggle for the emancipation of women emerged in the United States and Britain.

Since what is called the First Wave of Feminism in the U.S., the feminist movement has articulated a variety of arguments concerning the nature of female emancipation, equal rights for women, gender discrimination, the identity of women, equal pay, the social construction of gender roles, and the political and cultural role of women throughout the societies in which they live. 

Like all other social and political movements, the feminist movement has been divided , full of factions and strong personalities presenting a different and changing focus on the issues of women.  Among American feminists, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Kate Millett, Barbara Seaman, Gloria Steinem, and others played prominent competing, sometimes rival roles concerning those issues.

Some issues such as whether gender roles are due to social conditioning remain relevant and controversial.  Others, once thought central to feminist theory and the subject of heated debate such as the question of “essentialism,” whether biology determines women’s capacities, and what this entails, have been largely dismissed.

Among the most courageous of modern America feminists is Phyllis Chesler, whose voluminous writings are infused with her singular and colorful personal life.  Her story is unusual in that , starting as an unsophisticated young Jewish girl in New York, she ran away from home and religion to marry a Western-educated Afghani and went with him to Kabul, where she discovered he was not a knight in shining armor.  She suffered abuse as his Muslim family enforced the cruel traditional gender rules of Afghanistan and the Islamic faith.  She was a virtual prisoner in the family home.  She was fortunate to escape from Afghanistan, from where she returned to the United States and eventually became a well known professor of psychology, a psychologist, and a public intellectual.

Chesler’s dominant quality is courage – the willingness to speak the truth to fellow feminists, even if it opposes conventional feminist principles, as well as to the world in general.  She is no shrinking violet; she does not express herself in a still, small voice.  She holds definite opinions but is not an imperious dogmatist.  There is no mistaking her point of view, expressed in a loud, commanding, direct way, about political and social affairs.  If her views are striking and controversial, she is eager to debate them.  But she is forthright about the way that women may hurt each other and even more about what she sees as the wrong direction of contemporary feminists, especially those she sees as “left-wing post-colonial” writers whose main target is white Western men.

Her new book, Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing the Veiled War against Women, is made up of articles written over a 14-year period, from 2003 to 2016.  Some of them are the outcome of speeches at conferences and government hearings.  Many are related to specific issues.  During her career, Chesler has dealt with most of the problems familiar to other feminists: sexual objectification of women, economic parity, abortion rights, pornography, prostitution, and violence such as rape and sexual harassment.

Here, her main thrust, as the title indicates, is Islamic gender apartheid, which she regards as a violation of women’s and human rights, including child marriage, polygamy, girls being forced to marry against their will, girls being forced to wear the veil, female genital mutilations, honor violence, and murder by their own families.

Chesler, in sorrow and in anger, points out that these are subjects many other feminist scholars have ignored or refused to discuss until recently.  These feminists ground their refusal in multicultural relativism and perhaps redress of past racism.  As a result of the tragic silence and lack of concern of feminists on this issue, as one concerned with the subordination and humiliation of Muslim women in their own countries and those who have escaped to the U.S., as well as for her support of the State of Israel, Chesler has experienced censorship; been marginalized; and been sent, as she puts it, to the American Gulag.  Chesler is in the same league as other courageous writers, among them Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who herself survived female genital mutilation in Somalia; Nonie Darwish; and Asra Nomani, all concerned with promoting women’s rights in Islamic countries.

Chesler alerts her fellow feminists: American women must oppose the gender apartheid of Muslim women, or they will lose their freedom, too.  American women must stand up for the rights of all women, including Muslim, tribal, and immigrant women.

Chesler believes in a universal standard of human rights and values, such as separation of religion and state and the right to dissent, and she is critical of Islamic behavior that contradicts these values.  Again and again, she censures aspects of that behavior.  The Islamic veil or burqa cannot be praised; it is what she calls a sensory deprivation chamber, violating a woman’s dignity and restricting her mobility.

Chesler defines herself not only as a feminist , American patriot, and internationalist, but also as a religious Jew.  As such, she makes another important point: she is unhappy with feminists, influenced by post-colonialism and postmodernism, who concentrate on a purportedly anti-colonial feminism, which is primarily an attack on the State of Israel, and a call for the “decolonization of Palestine.”

Such feminists see Israel as a country practicing apartheid, ignoring two fundamental factors: Israel has active feminist and gay rights movements, and the reality is that Islam is the largest practitioner of both gender and religious apartheid.  These feminists say nothing about the atrocities perpetrated by Muslims, slavery, anti-black racism, conversion by the sword, persecution of non-Muslim religious minorities, and the most barbaric abuse of women.  They are more concerned with the so-called occupation of Palestine than with the occupation of women’s bodies. 

Chesler’s message is important for U.S. policymakers as well as for fellow feminists.  It is disgraceful that what she calls “faux feminism” is more interested in alleged Israeli “occupation” than the Muslim honor killings in the same region.

Anything men can do women can do as well, maybe better was the declaration of the British writer Mary Wollstonecraft, whose “Vindication of the Rights of Women” was published in 1792.  She denied the prevailing attitude that women are naturally inferior to men and insisted that women and men should be equally educated and that equality of men and women should exist in political, social, and economic life.  It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the effort to establish the struggle for the emancipation of women emerged in the United States and Britain.

Since what is called the First Wave of Feminism in the U.S., the feminist movement has articulated a variety of arguments concerning the nature of female emancipation, equal rights for women, gender discrimination, the identity of women, equal pay, the social construction of gender roles, and the political and cultural role of women throughout the societies in which they live. 

Like all other social and political movements, the feminist movement has been divided , full of factions and strong personalities presenting a different and changing focus on the issues of women.  Among American feminists, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Kate Millett, Barbara Seaman, Gloria Steinem, and others played prominent competing, sometimes rival roles concerning those issues.

Some issues such as whether gender roles are due to social conditioning remain relevant and controversial.  Others, once thought central to feminist theory and the subject of heated debate such as the question of “essentialism,” whether biology determines women’s capacities, and what this entails, have been largely dismissed.

Among the most courageous of modern America feminists is Phyllis Chesler, whose voluminous writings are infused with her singular and colorful personal life.  Her story is unusual in that , starting as an unsophisticated young Jewish girl in New York, she ran away from home and religion to marry a Western-educated Afghani and went with him to Kabul, where she discovered he was not a knight in shining armor.  She suffered abuse as his Muslim family enforced the cruel traditional gender rules of Afghanistan and the Islamic faith.  She was a virtual prisoner in the family home.  She was fortunate to escape from Afghanistan, from where she returned to the United States and eventually became a well known professor of psychology, a psychologist, and a public intellectual.

Chesler’s dominant quality is courage – the willingness to speak the truth to fellow feminists, even if it opposes conventional feminist principles, as well as to the world in general.  She is no shrinking violet; she does not express herself in a still, small voice.  She holds definite opinions but is not an imperious dogmatist.  There is no mistaking her point of view, expressed in a loud, commanding, direct way, about political and social affairs.  If her views are striking and controversial, she is eager to debate them.  But she is forthright about the way that women may hurt each other and even more about what she sees as the wrong direction of contemporary feminists, especially those she sees as “left-wing post-colonial” writers whose main target is white Western men.

Her new book, Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing the Veiled War against Women, is made up of articles written over a 14-year period, from 2003 to 2016.  Some of them are the outcome of speeches at conferences and government hearings.  Many are related to specific issues.  During her career, Chesler has dealt with most of the problems familiar to other feminists: sexual objectification of women, economic parity, abortion rights, pornography, prostitution, and violence such as rape and sexual harassment.

Here, her main thrust, as the title indicates, is Islamic gender apartheid, which she regards as a violation of women’s and human rights, including child marriage, polygamy, girls being forced to marry against their will, girls being forced to wear the veil, female genital mutilations, honor violence, and murder by their own families.

Chesler, in sorrow and in anger, points out that these are subjects many other feminist scholars have ignored or refused to discuss until recently.  These feminists ground their refusal in multicultural relativism and perhaps redress of past racism.  As a result of the tragic silence and lack of concern of feminists on this issue, as one concerned with the subordination and humiliation of Muslim women in their own countries and those who have escaped to the U.S., as well as for her support of the State of Israel, Chesler has experienced censorship; been marginalized; and been sent, as she puts it, to the American Gulag.  Chesler is in the same league as other courageous writers, among them Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who herself survived female genital mutilation in Somalia; Nonie Darwish; and Asra Nomani, all concerned with promoting women’s rights in Islamic countries.

Chesler alerts her fellow feminists: American women must oppose the gender apartheid of Muslim women, or they will lose their freedom, too.  American women must stand up for the rights of all women, including Muslim, tribal, and immigrant women.

Chesler believes in a universal standard of human rights and values, such as separation of religion and state and the right to dissent, and she is critical of Islamic behavior that contradicts these values.  Again and again, she censures aspects of that behavior.  The Islamic veil or burqa cannot be praised; it is what she calls a sensory deprivation chamber, violating a woman’s dignity and restricting her mobility.

Chesler defines herself not only as a feminist , American patriot, and internationalist, but also as a religious Jew.  As such, she makes another important point: she is unhappy with feminists, influenced by post-colonialism and postmodernism, who concentrate on a purportedly anti-colonial feminism, which is primarily an attack on the State of Israel, and a call for the “decolonization of Palestine.”

Such feminists see Israel as a country practicing apartheid, ignoring two fundamental factors: Israel has active feminist and gay rights movements, and the reality is that Islam is the largest practitioner of both gender and religious apartheid.  These feminists say nothing about the atrocities perpetrated by Muslims, slavery, anti-black racism, conversion by the sword, persecution of non-Muslim religious minorities, and the most barbaric abuse of women.  They are more concerned with the so-called occupation of Palestine than with the occupation of women’s bodies. 

Chesler’s message is important for U.S. policymakers as well as for fellow feminists.  It is disgraceful that what she calls “faux feminism” is more interested in alleged Israeli “occupation” than the Muslim honor killings in the same region.



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