Category: David Solway

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Toxic Feminism


The damage that radical feminism has done to our education system is incalculable.  Yet the movement continues to grow exponentially, and gender studies faculties, which promote female empowerment at the expense of what is called “toxic masculinity,” continue to multiply.

Feminism has patently skewed the syllabus in the direction of gender asymmetry.  In the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion, women have progressively come to dominate campus life regardless of aptitude and competency.  Hiring protocols are female-friendly, as are faculty postings and grant opportunities.  Qualified male candidates need to make alternative arrangements.  (As Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute muses, in the prevailing climate, Einstein might have trouble getting hired for a professorship.)  Male students, already in declining numbers, are under threat of allegations of sexual assault or harassment, ad hoc tribunals, and arbitrary expulsion.  McGill University anthropology professor emeritus Philip Carl Salzman warns parents in a comprehensive essay for Minding the Campus, “Your sons will learn they should ‘step aside’ to give more space and power to females.”

Unfortunately, too many careers have been built on gender studies and feminist theory to allow surrender.  Leftist government bureaucrats, university administrators, “diversity and inclusion” officers, and faculty across the entire academic landscape are dependent on preserving perhaps the greatest scam in the systemic apparatus we call education.  Investing in a false theory or inequitable practice never prevented its adherents, whose reputations and livelihoods are at stake, from surrendering their perquisites.  Rather, educrats and their cohorts will double down and increase their efforts to further their agenda.  They will persist in finding ways to evade the most far-sighted and ethically determined efforts to redress the parietal imbalance by refusing to implement new directives from enlightened government agencies.

One way is to pursue legal action against elected administrations bent on reform, as in the U.S., where women’s groups are suing secretary of education Betsy DeVos for rescinding Obama’s guidelines on how to manage Title IX investigations regarding (male) sexual assault.  These organizations are intent on defending a regime predicated on unsubstantiated allegations rather than due process.  Similarly, in the Canadian province of Ontario, the left-feminist teacher union is suing the recently installed Conservative government for attempting to repeal the current sex ed curriculum.  That this curriculum introduces very young students to sexual practices for which they are emotionally unprepared is of no account to these insurrectionary preceptors.  Rather, the perpetuation of what is nothing more than a pedagogical sinkhole is their purpose, as is the case with Title IX proponents. 

Another way to stymie the remedial enterprise is to stack the deck with ever more fellow-traveling faculty personnel, thus relying on critical mass to fortify a doctrinaire position.  Professor Art Hill, chair of the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, points out: “One thing that concerns me is hiring policies.  Our provost at the University of Guelph hosted a session on Academic Freedom … mostly strategizing on how to limit expression of ‘undesirable’ views without making martyrs.  There was little evidence of sincere respect for differing ideologies.  His last slide advised that Universities can limit expression of unacceptable views via selective faculty recruitment … especially in the social sciences and humanities.” Recruitment proceeds “according to ideology.”  (Personal communication.)

Not content with having ruined the humanities beyond repair, the radical sorority and its male apostles are insinuating their campaign into the STEM disciplines, now being steadily infected by the gender cathexis.  There is no doubt that the study and practice of science as we know it will be drastically weakened.  Tony Airaksinen at PJ Media cites a recent instance of this monetized ideological swindle, which is in fact representative: “The University of Tennessee-Knoxville will spend more than $700,000 in federal funds over the next four years to get more women into STEM, despite their proposed intervention having zero record of success.”  Some of the bogus issues being addressed involve, as to be expected, the so-called “culture of implicit bias,” which simply does not exist – except insofar as it privileges women – and that strange eidolon known as women’s “emotional labor.”  One does not know whether to blush or laugh.

Airakinsen pulled her punches when she should have gone for KO.  “Perhaps this program might be helpful for women in STEM, and ultimately, scientific discovery at large,” she suggests, perhaps ironically, though “considering that the NSF has poured millions of taxpayer funds into similar projects and hasn’t been able to document any results, it seems unlikely.”  It is not merely unlikely, but entirely implausible.  Just ask Sir Tim Hunt, Larry Summers, and Matt Taylor.  Science is a discipline with intrinsic standards of replication and objectivity that cannot be adulterated by peripheral concerns entailing social projects, cultural preoccupations, or the fashions of the day while remaining science.

“Emotional labor” has nothing to do with science.  Gender has nothing to do with science.  Stringent analysis, top-tier math, controlled experiment, endless testing, and honest commitment to the task of advancing human knowledge and exploring the universe are what science is about.  If a man can do it, good.  If a woman can do it, good.  If an immigrant from Mars of indeterminate sex can do it, also good.  But if hiring and staffing depend on extraneous factors, mediocrity is the inevitable consequence.  Standards must apply across the board.

The same is true, if in various ways, of any profession.  Canvass the best candidates, the most capable, the most dedicated to the field, and the most willing to work punishing hours.  These are, or should be, the invariable criteria of selection and preferment.  Such is undeniably the case – or should be – when it comes to the schools and colleges.  Wise administrators, learned and effective teachers, and real subjects are – or should be – the essentials that underpin true education.

Feminist dogma is not one of these essentials.  Departments of Gender Studies – as well as the myriad other faux “identity studies” programs like queer studies, race theory, critical theory, fat studies, sexuality studies, whiteness studies, ad vomitatum – do not constitute real subjects; they are centers of radical indoctrination or specimens of academic frivolity.  Bruce Bawer’s definitive examination of our vaudeville education network, The Victims’ Revolution, is an adversarial classic and should be consulted by skeptics.  Grouped under the rubric of “social justice,” identity studies programs largely explain why our universities are well on the way to becoming third-world institutions.  Feminism is the mother of the “social justice” obsession that is devastating the culture and destroying education.

As I have argued before, the academy cannot be reformed, despite a decent government’s best intentions.  It must be abolished or gradually phased out and replaced by schools and universities and online delivery programs founded on the traditional mandate of moral accountability, exacting scholarship, discipline-specific authority, open debate, and responsible instruction.  A redoubtable task, no doubt, but one that is absolutely necessary.  Feminism must have no part in it.  With its reliance on false assumptions, phony statistics, affective resentment, and glib verbosity, feminism is the most potent carcinogen attacking both the body social and the health of the education system.  It is toxic.  It is talk-sick.  It needs to go.

The damage that radical feminism has done to our education system is incalculable.  Yet the movement continues to grow exponentially, and gender studies faculties, which promote female empowerment at the expense of what is called “toxic masculinity,” continue to multiply.

Feminism has patently skewed the syllabus in the direction of gender asymmetry.  In the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion, women have progressively come to dominate campus life regardless of aptitude and competency.  Hiring protocols are female-friendly, as are faculty postings and grant opportunities.  Qualified male candidates need to make alternative arrangements.  (As Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute muses, in the prevailing climate, Einstein might have trouble getting hired for a professorship.)  Male students, already in declining numbers, are under threat of allegations of sexual assault or harassment, ad hoc tribunals, and arbitrary expulsion.  McGill University anthropology professor emeritus Philip Carl Salzman warns parents in a comprehensive essay for Minding the Campus, “Your sons will learn they should ‘step aside’ to give more space and power to females.”

Unfortunately, too many careers have been built on gender studies and feminist theory to allow surrender.  Leftist government bureaucrats, university administrators, “diversity and inclusion” officers, and faculty across the entire academic landscape are dependent on preserving perhaps the greatest scam in the systemic apparatus we call education.  Investing in a false theory or inequitable practice never prevented its adherents, whose reputations and livelihoods are at stake, from surrendering their perquisites.  Rather, educrats and their cohorts will double down and increase their efforts to further their agenda.  They will persist in finding ways to evade the most far-sighted and ethically determined efforts to redress the parietal imbalance by refusing to implement new directives from enlightened government agencies.

One way is to pursue legal action against elected administrations bent on reform, as in the U.S., where women’s groups are suing secretary of education Betsy DeVos for rescinding Obama’s guidelines on how to manage Title IX investigations regarding (male) sexual assault.  These organizations are intent on defending a regime predicated on unsubstantiated allegations rather than due process.  Similarly, in the Canadian province of Ontario, the left-feminist teacher union is suing the recently installed Conservative government for attempting to repeal the current sex ed curriculum.  That this curriculum introduces very young students to sexual practices for which they are emotionally unprepared is of no account to these insurrectionary preceptors.  Rather, the perpetuation of what is nothing more than a pedagogical sinkhole is their purpose, as is the case with Title IX proponents. 

Another way to stymie the remedial enterprise is to stack the deck with ever more fellow-traveling faculty personnel, thus relying on critical mass to fortify a doctrinaire position.  Professor Art Hill, chair of the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, points out: “One thing that concerns me is hiring policies.  Our provost at the University of Guelph hosted a session on Academic Freedom … mostly strategizing on how to limit expression of ‘undesirable’ views without making martyrs.  There was little evidence of sincere respect for differing ideologies.  His last slide advised that Universities can limit expression of unacceptable views via selective faculty recruitment … especially in the social sciences and humanities.” Recruitment proceeds “according to ideology.”  (Personal communication.)

Not content with having ruined the humanities beyond repair, the radical sorority and its male apostles are insinuating their campaign into the STEM disciplines, now being steadily infected by the gender cathexis.  There is no doubt that the study and practice of science as we know it will be drastically weakened.  Tony Airaksinen at PJ Media cites a recent instance of this monetized ideological swindle, which is in fact representative: “The University of Tennessee-Knoxville will spend more than $700,000 in federal funds over the next four years to get more women into STEM, despite their proposed intervention having zero record of success.”  Some of the bogus issues being addressed involve, as to be expected, the so-called “culture of implicit bias,” which simply does not exist – except insofar as it privileges women – and that strange eidolon known as women’s “emotional labor.”  One does not know whether to blush or laugh.

Airakinsen pulled her punches when she should have gone for KO.  “Perhaps this program might be helpful for women in STEM, and ultimately, scientific discovery at large,” she suggests, perhaps ironically, though “considering that the NSF has poured millions of taxpayer funds into similar projects and hasn’t been able to document any results, it seems unlikely.”  It is not merely unlikely, but entirely implausible.  Just ask Sir Tim Hunt, Larry Summers, and Matt Taylor.  Science is a discipline with intrinsic standards of replication and objectivity that cannot be adulterated by peripheral concerns entailing social projects, cultural preoccupations, or the fashions of the day while remaining science.

“Emotional labor” has nothing to do with science.  Gender has nothing to do with science.  Stringent analysis, top-tier math, controlled experiment, endless testing, and honest commitment to the task of advancing human knowledge and exploring the universe are what science is about.  If a man can do it, good.  If a woman can do it, good.  If an immigrant from Mars of indeterminate sex can do it, also good.  But if hiring and staffing depend on extraneous factors, mediocrity is the inevitable consequence.  Standards must apply across the board.

The same is true, if in various ways, of any profession.  Canvass the best candidates, the most capable, the most dedicated to the field, and the most willing to work punishing hours.  These are, or should be, the invariable criteria of selection and preferment.  Such is undeniably the case – or should be – when it comes to the schools and colleges.  Wise administrators, learned and effective teachers, and real subjects are – or should be – the essentials that underpin true education.

Feminist dogma is not one of these essentials.  Departments of Gender Studies – as well as the myriad other faux “identity studies” programs like queer studies, race theory, critical theory, fat studies, sexuality studies, whiteness studies, ad vomitatum – do not constitute real subjects; they are centers of radical indoctrination or specimens of academic frivolity.  Bruce Bawer’s definitive examination of our vaudeville education network, The Victims’ Revolution, is an adversarial classic and should be consulted by skeptics.  Grouped under the rubric of “social justice,” identity studies programs largely explain why our universities are well on the way to becoming third-world institutions.  Feminism is the mother of the “social justice” obsession that is devastating the culture and destroying education.

As I have argued before, the academy cannot be reformed, despite a decent government’s best intentions.  It must be abolished or gradually phased out and replaced by schools and universities and online delivery programs founded on the traditional mandate of moral accountability, exacting scholarship, discipline-specific authority, open debate, and responsible instruction.  A redoubtable task, no doubt, but one that is absolutely necessary.  Feminism must have no part in it.  With its reliance on false assumptions, phony statistics, affective resentment, and glib verbosity, feminism is the most potent carcinogen attacking both the body social and the health of the education system.  It is toxic.  It is talk-sick.  It needs to go.



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The Unbearable Whiteness of Being


There can be little doubt that the modern university, in its obsession with race, gender, and sexual orientation under the rubric of “social justice,” has violated its core mandate, which, in the words of Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, is to familiarize readers and students with “the best that has been thought and said.”  The Academy has turned Arnold’s maxim on its head, instructing students in the worst that has been thought and said – and done.  The curricular fetish of “social justice,” which is destroying the university as an institution of higher learning, continues to metastasize.

Indeed, the university as a social and cultural institution is a slow-motion train wreck picking up speed: equity hiring, affirmative action, anti-conservative and overt leftist politics, the “diversity and inclusion” myth on which the academy prides itself, groupthink, speech codes, snitch lines, trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, the attack on academic freedom – the list goes on.

The bogus issue that has recently acquired major prominence in the quagmire of campus politics is “whiteness,” especially the “hegemony” of straight white males and their champions, guilty, apparently, of every conceivable ill that has bedeviled the world since the first silverback descended from the trees.  This is merely a prime manifestation of the reigning hysteria on college campuses, in particular its mephitic obsession with race.  “The toxic racial climate of colleges looks to be perpetual,” warns Scott Greer in No Campus for White Men; anti-white ferocity “remains established as an unchallenged dogma.”  There is no campus for some white woman as well.  Witness the current vendetta against distinguished University of Chicago medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown.

The author of a blog post “Three Cheers for White Men,” a committed Catholic and a lover of Western civilization and its Christian foundations, as her many books confirm, Fulton Brown has been vilified as a Nazi and a hater.  For daring to defend Western Christendom as the source of many of our most cherished values of sex equality and respect for individual worth, she has been targeted by a mob of professors of literature, history, and medieval studies who are determined to destroy her professionally, writing an open letter to her university, festooned with 1,500 signatures and stating that she is a disgrace to the history department.


The University of Chicago in 2005 (credit: Ibrahim Old).

The intent of the open letter is clearly to have Fulton Brown fired or at least disciplined.  She is reviled as a white supremacist spreading hetero-patriarchal desecrations.  The profanity hurled against her on Twitter by a presumably cultivated professoriate is unprintable, fit only for the lower depths.  As Richard Mitchell aptly wrote in The Graves of Academe, “[t]he prodigious monster is down there.”

Naturally, the fact that the entire infrastructure these gutter academics take for granted – the electrical grid that lights their libraries and offices, the buildings in which they sit and type their treatises, the roads they drive on and the planes they fly in, the Twitter feeds and Facebook posts that facilitate their frenzied denunciations of those they deem beyond the pale, the medications that keep them going, the food they put on the table, the table they put under the food, the vintage wines they sip in the faculty lounge, the plumbing on which they rely, the physical and technical maintenance that enables them to survive, the accessories of any sort they assume as given – indeed, just about everything is due to the labor, ingenuity, risk, and entrepreneurial innovation of mainly straight white males of European and American provenance and to the uniformly despised capitalist enterprise.  As my wife Janice Fiamengo vividly points out in her recent Fiamengo File video on the issue, the hypocrisy is astronomical.

In focusing on the Fulton Brown fiasco, I will surely be accused by detractors of cherry-picking, but any observer willing to do the research will find that the entire cherry orchard is tainted, scarcely a healthy drupe to be found.  Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders, for example, derides such reports of university malfeasance, claiming, “To mistake a colourful anecdote for a measurable trend is a basic scholarly mistake.”  The instance I’ve cited, however, is not anomalous, but symptomatic.  Saunders should know better.  The mistake is his, either an expression of profound ignorance or a deliberate lie.

As Milo Yiannopoulos writes in a major defense of Fulton Brown, an inquisition is underway led by an army of self-proclaimed “arbiters of moral taste, determined to rid the field of infidels.”  They are intent on “burning the witch.”  Fulton Brown’s heresy is her affirmation that the study of the Middle Ages “is fundamental to understanding how the Christian West emerged, and how dramatically its character differs from other cultures,” which explains the current moral panic about white supremacy presumably associated with the period.  “But the most absurd dimension of it all,” Yiannopoulos continues, “is that nothing associates the Middle Ages with white supremacy more than journalists and academics shrieking about it.”

In his seminal volume White Guilt, black scholar Shelby Steele deplores the consequences of what he calls dissociational thinking, the academic tendency to dissociate excellence and truth from a marketable conception of social virtue and justice and to regard race and ethnicity – non-white, of course – as meritorious in themselves.  Excellence has become irrelevant as whiteness has become sinister.  Dissociation, he concludes, “is a power that always works by eroding the quality of the host institution” while creating a “vacuum of moral authority at the center of American life.”

To be white, Christian, and proud of one’s heritage is now the kiss of death.  Rachel Fulton Brown, an excellent scholar and a woman of high moral character, is the most recent victim of the dissociational bigotry that governs the university environment.  She won’t be the last.


Note: Academics wishing to sign an open letter by the National Association of Scholars defending Fulton Brown can find it here.

There can be little doubt that the modern university, in its obsession with race, gender, and sexual orientation under the rubric of “social justice,” has violated its core mandate, which, in the words of Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, is to familiarize readers and students with “the best that has been thought and said.”  The Academy has turned Arnold’s maxim on its head, instructing students in the worst that has been thought and said – and done.  The curricular fetish of “social justice,” which is destroying the university as an institution of higher learning, continues to metastasize.

Indeed, the university as a social and cultural institution is a slow-motion train wreck picking up speed: equity hiring, affirmative action, anti-conservative and overt leftist politics, the “diversity and inclusion” myth on which the academy prides itself, groupthink, speech codes, snitch lines, trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, the attack on academic freedom – the list goes on.

The bogus issue that has recently acquired major prominence in the quagmire of campus politics is “whiteness,” especially the “hegemony” of straight white males and their champions, guilty, apparently, of every conceivable ill that has bedeviled the world since the first silverback descended from the trees.  This is merely a prime manifestation of the reigning hysteria on college campuses, in particular its mephitic obsession with race.  “The toxic racial climate of colleges looks to be perpetual,” warns Scott Greer in No Campus for White Men; anti-white ferocity “remains established as an unchallenged dogma.”  There is no campus for some white woman as well.  Witness the current vendetta against distinguished University of Chicago medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown.

The author of a blog post “Three Cheers for White Men,” a committed Catholic and a lover of Western civilization and its Christian foundations, as her many books confirm, Fulton Brown has been vilified as a Nazi and a hater.  For daring to defend Western Christendom as the source of many of our most cherished values of sex equality and respect for individual worth, she has been targeted by a mob of professors of literature, history, and medieval studies who are determined to destroy her professionally, writing an open letter to her university, festooned with 1,500 signatures and stating that she is a disgrace to the history department.


The University of Chicago in 2005 (credit: Ibrahim Old).

The intent of the open letter is clearly to have Fulton Brown fired or at least disciplined.  She is reviled as a white supremacist spreading hetero-patriarchal desecrations.  The profanity hurled against her on Twitter by a presumably cultivated professoriate is unprintable, fit only for the lower depths.  As Richard Mitchell aptly wrote in The Graves of Academe, “[t]he prodigious monster is down there.”

Naturally, the fact that the entire infrastructure these gutter academics take for granted – the electrical grid that lights their libraries and offices, the buildings in which they sit and type their treatises, the roads they drive on and the planes they fly in, the Twitter feeds and Facebook posts that facilitate their frenzied denunciations of those they deem beyond the pale, the medications that keep them going, the food they put on the table, the table they put under the food, the vintage wines they sip in the faculty lounge, the plumbing on which they rely, the physical and technical maintenance that enables them to survive, the accessories of any sort they assume as given – indeed, just about everything is due to the labor, ingenuity, risk, and entrepreneurial innovation of mainly straight white males of European and American provenance and to the uniformly despised capitalist enterprise.  As my wife Janice Fiamengo vividly points out in her recent Fiamengo File video on the issue, the hypocrisy is astronomical.

In focusing on the Fulton Brown fiasco, I will surely be accused by detractors of cherry-picking, but any observer willing to do the research will find that the entire cherry orchard is tainted, scarcely a healthy drupe to be found.  Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders, for example, derides such reports of university malfeasance, claiming, “To mistake a colourful anecdote for a measurable trend is a basic scholarly mistake.”  The instance I’ve cited, however, is not anomalous, but symptomatic.  Saunders should know better.  The mistake is his, either an expression of profound ignorance or a deliberate lie.

As Milo Yiannopoulos writes in a major defense of Fulton Brown, an inquisition is underway led by an army of self-proclaimed “arbiters of moral taste, determined to rid the field of infidels.”  They are intent on “burning the witch.”  Fulton Brown’s heresy is her affirmation that the study of the Middle Ages “is fundamental to understanding how the Christian West emerged, and how dramatically its character differs from other cultures,” which explains the current moral panic about white supremacy presumably associated with the period.  “But the most absurd dimension of it all,” Yiannopoulos continues, “is that nothing associates the Middle Ages with white supremacy more than journalists and academics shrieking about it.”

In his seminal volume White Guilt, black scholar Shelby Steele deplores the consequences of what he calls dissociational thinking, the academic tendency to dissociate excellence and truth from a marketable conception of social virtue and justice and to regard race and ethnicity – non-white, of course – as meritorious in themselves.  Excellence has become irrelevant as whiteness has become sinister.  Dissociation, he concludes, “is a power that always works by eroding the quality of the host institution” while creating a “vacuum of moral authority at the center of American life.”

To be white, Christian, and proud of one’s heritage is now the kiss of death.  Rachel Fulton Brown, an excellent scholar and a woman of high moral character, is the most recent victim of the dissociational bigotry that governs the university environment.  She won’t be the last.


Note: Academics wishing to sign an open letter by the National Association of Scholars defending Fulton Brown can find it here.



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The Problem with Gay Marriage


Lately I’ve been thinking of a former close friend and colleague who happens to be one of the most brilliant and insightful political writers of our time.  I had referenced his work in my own books long before I got to know him and was honored to find after we’d met that the esteem was mutual.  I regarded his camaraderie as one of the blessings that conservative affiliations can afford, especially to those toiling in the scribbling trade.

Our relationship lasted many years.  We met often when he visited our shores, enjoyed many pleasant, conversation-rich dinners, shared the same circle of friends, continued to read one another’s works with admiration, exchanged emails several times a week, and even wrote for the same magazines.  I introduced him to my wife, with whom he developed a friendship and appreciation for her own contributions to the conservative movement.  We were like an extended family.  What could possibly go wrong?

The short answer is, a lot.  Our relationship foundered over the vexed issue of redefining marriage, for my friend was gay and expected us to affirm the legalization of gay marriage in the United States and his forthcoming betrothal, as he referred to it, to his longtime partner.  This we could not do.  He objected to a rather obscure Facebook comment in which my wife deplored how the gay lobby’s justifiable plea for tolerance, with which she was fully on board, had morphed into the triumphalist demand for the unconditional celebration of all things gay, from gay politicking to Gay Pride to so-called gay marriage.

The question of religious freedom and belief, sanctioned by the Constitution, also entered into the equation.  She supported the right of a Christian baker to refuse preparing a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  This my friend could not accept.  An email arrived accusing us of homophobia and informing us that the friendship was over.

Although I regard the reduction of identity to one’s sexual preferences, whatever these might be, as a diminishment of the complex spectrum of human personality, I have nothing against the practice of homosexuality – to each his own – and considered it a non-issue and none of my business.  I do not like to interfere in other people’s personal lives.  Then and now, however, I believed as a matter of principle that redefining marriage was another kettle entirely.  People can manage their private passions as they wish, provided they remain within the common law, but marriage has to be defended not only as a binding compact between two people and an expression of religious faith, but as a social institution whose role is twofold: the preservation of cultural life and the procreation of the species.

For these reasons, marriage can be only a contract between a man and woman.  Love, companionship, spiritual and intellectual reciprocity are desirable goods, but from the institutional perspective, such golden qualities are sufficient though not necessary conditions.  As the backbone of the social covenant and the sine qua non of reproductive duration, marriage is more than merely a ritual performance or a consumer accessory.  Romance and compatibility will sweeten and strengthen commitment and avowal, but the essential point is that the contractual heterosexual union is the driving force of human culture and the warranty of human survival.

When the institution of marriage is compromised; when single mothers proliferate and are even applauded; when children are separated or alienated from their parents; when the bonds of heterosexual intimacy are breached; when gender politics sabotages concord between the sexes; when same-sex couples receive the same rights, privileges, and rewards as child-bearing couples; and when matrimony becomes the prerogative of any group whatsoever with no relation to fecundity or cultural stability, the underpinnings of Western society will inevitably collapse.

This is why Marxism, for example, considers marriage an institution that needs to be destroyed, since procreant marriage with all its attendant responsibilities is the foundation of bourgeois society.  This is why its dissolution or misprision is a prerequisite for the revolutionary socialist state in which the pivotal loyalty of the individual belongs to the sovereign collective, not to the family.  And this is why calling two men or two women in a union “marriage” has been serially championed by the left.

Marriage in its orthodox acceptation may be in some respects a flawed institution; nevertheless, it is imperative.  It is, as I’ve argued, the basis of civilizational survival, just as the heterosexual union in whatever form it may assume guarantees the survival of the race.  Gay “marriage,” taken to its reductio ad absurdum, would terminate in the disappearance of the human race from the face of the Earth.  In weakening the institution of marriage, gay people calling themselves spouses actually endorse the logic of species annihilation.

Moreover, to contend, as same-sex couples do, that they can adopt children or rely on sperm donors merely accentuates the paradox, for they reveal themselves as dependent on precisely the sexual fertility which they forsake and the procreative function they have renounced.  There would be no gays in the absence of the bonded heterosexual couple that rears children and is socially constrained to provide for their future.  There is a debt to be paid in the only way possible: do not insult or damage the institution that gave you existence and continues to sustain it.  The fact often adduced by skeptics that not all heterosexual unions are fertile or permanent is beside the point; the ancestral purpose of marriage as an institution remains intact.

There is another paradox regarding gays who, like my former friend, are politically conservative, since they have participated in the socialist and communist paradigm of family abolition and the destruction of the very society they have taken for granted, espousing as they do a kind of archetypal sterility.  They are doing the left’s bidding – professed conservatives eroding the traditional foundation of heteronormative society, turning marriage into a mockery of its reason for being.  The cognitive dissonance is startling.

None of these considerations carried any weight with my literary colleague, who accused my wife and me of rejecting his “essential humanity” and broke off all communication, saying the issue was “non-negotiable” and all discussion would henceforth cease.  We have never heard from him again.  That his sexual proclivities were wholly inconsequential to us and that we explicitly wished the best for him and his partner were now immaterial.  That he was helping to consummate the cultural mission of the left simply did not factor.

I think of our lost friendship with regret.  We still follow his political writing devoutly, though we miss the conversations and lament the forfeiture of mutual affection.  But there’s no help for it.  My brief, as I’ve stressed, was never against him or the nature of his desire and love.  My argument was, one might say, clinical.  The received institution of marriage, whether regarded as sacrosanct or purely functional, was indispensable to both culture and race and should not be enfeebled or caricatured or rendered moot.  It has to be respected and maintained in order to serve its original purpose.

My friend would have none of it.  He demanded total assent and expected our congratulations.  But as he once wrote me about another matter, “you don’t owe a friend a lie.”  It’s a maxim worth living by.

Lately I’ve been thinking of a former close friend and colleague who happens to be one of the most brilliant and insightful political writers of our time.  I had referenced his work in my own books long before I got to know him and was honored to find after we’d met that the esteem was mutual.  I regarded his camaraderie as one of the blessings that conservative affiliations can afford, especially to those toiling in the scribbling trade.

Our relationship lasted many years.  We met often when he visited our shores, enjoyed many pleasant, conversation-rich dinners, shared the same circle of friends, continued to read one another’s works with admiration, exchanged emails several times a week, and even wrote for the same magazines.  I introduced him to my wife, with whom he developed a friendship and appreciation for her own contributions to the conservative movement.  We were like an extended family.  What could possibly go wrong?

The short answer is, a lot.  Our relationship foundered over the vexed issue of redefining marriage, for my friend was gay and expected us to affirm the legalization of gay marriage in the United States and his forthcoming betrothal, as he referred to it, to his longtime partner.  This we could not do.  He objected to a rather obscure Facebook comment in which my wife deplored how the gay lobby’s justifiable plea for tolerance, with which she was fully on board, had morphed into the triumphalist demand for the unconditional celebration of all things gay, from gay politicking to Gay Pride to so-called gay marriage.

The question of religious freedom and belief, sanctioned by the Constitution, also entered into the equation.  She supported the right of a Christian baker to refuse preparing a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  This my friend could not accept.  An email arrived accusing us of homophobia and informing us that the friendship was over.

Although I regard the reduction of identity to one’s sexual preferences, whatever these might be, as a diminishment of the complex spectrum of human personality, I have nothing against the practice of homosexuality – to each his own – and considered it a non-issue and none of my business.  I do not like to interfere in other people’s personal lives.  Then and now, however, I believed as a matter of principle that redefining marriage was another kettle entirely.  People can manage their private passions as they wish, provided they remain within the common law, but marriage has to be defended not only as a binding compact between two people and an expression of religious faith, but as a social institution whose role is twofold: the preservation of cultural life and the procreation of the species.

For these reasons, marriage can be only a contract between a man and woman.  Love, companionship, spiritual and intellectual reciprocity are desirable goods, but from the institutional perspective, such golden qualities are sufficient though not necessary conditions.  As the backbone of the social covenant and the sine qua non of reproductive duration, marriage is more than merely a ritual performance or a consumer accessory.  Romance and compatibility will sweeten and strengthen commitment and avowal, but the essential point is that the contractual heterosexual union is the driving force of human culture and the warranty of human survival.

When the institution of marriage is compromised; when single mothers proliferate and are even applauded; when children are separated or alienated from their parents; when the bonds of heterosexual intimacy are breached; when gender politics sabotages concord between the sexes; when same-sex couples receive the same rights, privileges, and rewards as child-bearing couples; and when matrimony becomes the prerogative of any group whatsoever with no relation to fecundity or cultural stability, the underpinnings of Western society will inevitably collapse.

This is why Marxism, for example, considers marriage an institution that needs to be destroyed, since procreant marriage with all its attendant responsibilities is the foundation of bourgeois society.  This is why its dissolution or misprision is a prerequisite for the revolutionary socialist state in which the pivotal loyalty of the individual belongs to the sovereign collective, not to the family.  And this is why calling two men or two women in a union “marriage” has been serially championed by the left.

Marriage in its orthodox acceptation may be in some respects a flawed institution; nevertheless, it is imperative.  It is, as I’ve argued, the basis of civilizational survival, just as the heterosexual union in whatever form it may assume guarantees the survival of the race.  Gay “marriage,” taken to its reductio ad absurdum, would terminate in the disappearance of the human race from the face of the Earth.  In weakening the institution of marriage, gay people calling themselves spouses actually endorse the logic of species annihilation.

Moreover, to contend, as same-sex couples do, that they can adopt children or rely on sperm donors merely accentuates the paradox, for they reveal themselves as dependent on precisely the sexual fertility which they forsake and the procreative function they have renounced.  There would be no gays in the absence of the bonded heterosexual couple that rears children and is socially constrained to provide for their future.  There is a debt to be paid in the only way possible: do not insult or damage the institution that gave you existence and continues to sustain it.  The fact often adduced by skeptics that not all heterosexual unions are fertile or permanent is beside the point; the ancestral purpose of marriage as an institution remains intact.

There is another paradox regarding gays who, like my former friend, are politically conservative, since they have participated in the socialist and communist paradigm of family abolition and the destruction of the very society they have taken for granted, espousing as they do a kind of archetypal sterility.  They are doing the left’s bidding – professed conservatives eroding the traditional foundation of heteronormative society, turning marriage into a mockery of its reason for being.  The cognitive dissonance is startling.

None of these considerations carried any weight with my literary colleague, who accused my wife and me of rejecting his “essential humanity” and broke off all communication, saying the issue was “non-negotiable” and all discussion would henceforth cease.  We have never heard from him again.  That his sexual proclivities were wholly inconsequential to us and that we explicitly wished the best for him and his partner were now immaterial.  That he was helping to consummate the cultural mission of the left simply did not factor.

I think of our lost friendship with regret.  We still follow his political writing devoutly, though we miss the conversations and lament the forfeiture of mutual affection.  But there’s no help for it.  My brief, as I’ve stressed, was never against him or the nature of his desire and love.  My argument was, one might say, clinical.  The received institution of marriage, whether regarded as sacrosanct or purely functional, was indispensable to both culture and race and should not be enfeebled or caricatured or rendered moot.  It has to be respected and maintained in order to serve its original purpose.

My friend would have none of it.  He demanded total assent and expected our congratulations.  But as he once wrote me about another matter, “you don’t owe a friend a lie.”  It’s a maxim worth living by.



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The Divine Frenzy of Feminism


If the spirit of the classical Greek playwright Euripides could be summoned from the grave and observe our feminist age, he would not be surprised. In The Bacchae (premiered circa 405 B.C.), he told the story of Pentheus, the unfortunate ruler of Thebes, who resisted the ritual incursion of Dionysus, the androgynous god of wine, ecstasy, passionate delirium, and the oracular Mysteries.

In the play, Dionysus returns to Thebes, the city of his birth, accompanied by a retinue of bacchants, or drunken revellers. Finding himself mocked, he infects the women of the royal household with an access of divine frenzy, whereupon they flee into the forest to perform paroxysms of fevered worship. Pentheus wishes to preserve the functioning of the state and recognizes that the upsurge of visionary dementia and phobic irrationality exemplified by the maenads or “raving ones” — the RadFem hordes of the day — would lead to the disruption of the political order and the destabilization of civil society.

Pentheus intends to put an end to the insanity but, influenced by Dionysus, falls prey to curiosity and is persuaded to disguise himself in women’s clothing, enter the forest and witness the maenadic revels from a perch in a tall fir tree. He is spotted by the tribe of hysterics, brought to the ground and ripped to shreds, the mordancy of the scene enhanced by the fact that it is his own mother, Agave, who tears off his head and carries the trophy back to Thebes.

Of course, the play is far more complex than this short synopsis would indicate. Euripides treats the perennial conflict between the Olympian gods and the maternal Furies, between man and woman, between social order and individual enthusiasm, between Apollo, the god of reason and light, and Dionysus representing the darker forces of emotion and rapture — or as we would say today, of libido.

This theme was famously addressed by Euripides’ great predecessor Aeschylus in the Oresteian Trilogy, where the female goddesses the Eumenides (or Furies) are pitted against the male Olympians. Both forces, Aeschylus felt, the visceral and the rational, were necessary to the proper conduct of the state and in the life of the individual, but must be contained in a condition of approximate balance to avoid a descent into anarchy. The message of The Bacchae, however, is ambiguous insofar as the conclusion of the play suggests the desired victory of the Dionysian infatuation, yet the disintegration of public order and Apollonian statecraft would have been obvious to Euripides’ audience. We recall that Plato’s Republic, in which music, art, and trance-like phenomena were to be the prohibited by law, appeared circa 380 B.C., only 25 years after the initial performance of The Bacchae. Both sides of the dynamic had their dedicated votaries.

Perhaps it was ever thus as one or another of these indispensable forces inevitably comes to predominate. Indeed, the Greek tragedians seemed to understand that the battle between male structure and female sentiment was an eternal fact of human life. For Aeschylus, to privilege one over the other ends in disaster — “Either way, ruin,” as Agamemnon laments in the first play of the Trilogy, a phrase adopted by the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel in his Lectures on Aesthetics as a capsule definition of tragedy. For Euripides, the labile spirit of the feminine must be released into the world, whatever the cost. Yet, despite the priority given to Dionysus and his “agenda,” there are, as it were, strong premonitory elements in The Bacchae that apply to our contemporary dilemma in which carceral feminism has come to cultural prominence.

In the current historical moment, the trance afflicting our radical feminists is not imposed from without, as in the play, but is self-induced, leading to a nationwide vendetta against so-called “toxic masculinity.” The belief that the “patriarchy” is responsible for all of society’s ills has produced destructive consequences: the ubiquitous allegations targeting men for sexual misconduct on the flimsiest of pretexts, the reduction of normative sexuality to the status of an aberration or a crime, the shunting of jurisprudence away from the English Common Law principle of “burden of proof” toward the dodgy concept of “preponderance of evidence” (i.e., whatever the adjudicator feels is likely or credible, almost always in favor of the female plaintiff), the campaign to Ritalin young male students into a state of narcolepsy, the precipitous decline of male university graduates, and the accelerating collapse of the institution of marriage. Contemporary feminists are Euripidean maenads in modern form, metaphorically and, in social effect, tearing men limb from limb in a fury of pathogenic derangement.

What is also interesting is that Pentheus allows himself to be persuaded to wear female attire in order to carry out his reconnaissance unobserved. Mutatis mutandis, a version of his regrettable decision is currently flourishing among us as men come increasingly to side with the feminist prepossession — judges, teachers, political leaders, university administrators, intellectuals, talking heads supporting the feminist dogma that women are society’s innocent victims and men violent oppressors and ruthless demagogues who must be denounced, punished, brought low like Pentheus from his tree, and ultimately feminized.

Men now find themselves in a binary Penthean condition: on the one hand, the profusion of beta males sporting their inner maenadic vestments — aka manginas and “white knights,” emanations of the god whose epithets include Dionysos Dimorphos (dual-formed), gunnis (womanish man), and pseudanor (counterfeit man); and on the other, men who wish to remain men being culturally dismembered and socially castrated. The balance between the sexes, both biological and cultural, is now communally distorted beyond recognition as Dionysus celebrates his triumph over Apollo and the Furies swarm Mount Olympus.

“It is precisely Dionysus’ identification with the feminine,” writes classical scholar Froma Zeitlin in Sexuality and Gender in the Classical World, that allows the god to introduce “confusions, conflicts, tensions and ambiguities” into the hierarchical masculine world, thus disrupting “the normal social categories” and impairing male confidence and authority to the detriment of the whole. This is where we have arrived in our era of Dionysian madness.

As Agave laments at the end of The Bacchae, “It was Dionysus who proved our ruin; now I see it all.” In demanding obeisance to temperamental fury at the expense of the principle of order, feminists and their allies have unleashed a storm of discontent, resentment, misrule, and social turmoil whose consequences will be catastrophic. Without the reassertion of proud and inherent masculinity to restore the equilibrium between the sexes, the road to political suicide and cultural decay is wide open and we will all, women as well as men, suffer for it.

If the spirit of the classical Greek playwright Euripides could be summoned from the grave and observe our feminist age, he would not be surprised. In The Bacchae (premiered circa 405 B.C.), he told the story of Pentheus, the unfortunate ruler of Thebes, who resisted the ritual incursion of Dionysus, the androgynous god of wine, ecstasy, passionate delirium, and the oracular Mysteries.

In the play, Dionysus returns to Thebes, the city of his birth, accompanied by a retinue of bacchants, or drunken revellers. Finding himself mocked, he infects the women of the royal household with an access of divine frenzy, whereupon they flee into the forest to perform paroxysms of fevered worship. Pentheus wishes to preserve the functioning of the state and recognizes that the upsurge of visionary dementia and phobic irrationality exemplified by the maenads or “raving ones” — the RadFem hordes of the day — would lead to the disruption of the political order and the destabilization of civil society.

Pentheus intends to put an end to the insanity but, influenced by Dionysus, falls prey to curiosity and is persuaded to disguise himself in women’s clothing, enter the forest and witness the maenadic revels from a perch in a tall fir tree. He is spotted by the tribe of hysterics, brought to the ground and ripped to shreds, the mordancy of the scene enhanced by the fact that it is his own mother, Agave, who tears off his head and carries the trophy back to Thebes.

Of course, the play is far more complex than this short synopsis would indicate. Euripides treats the perennial conflict between the Olympian gods and the maternal Furies, between man and woman, between social order and individual enthusiasm, between Apollo, the god of reason and light, and Dionysus representing the darker forces of emotion and rapture — or as we would say today, of libido.

This theme was famously addressed by Euripides’ great predecessor Aeschylus in the Oresteian Trilogy, where the female goddesses the Eumenides (or Furies) are pitted against the male Olympians. Both forces, Aeschylus felt, the visceral and the rational, were necessary to the proper conduct of the state and in the life of the individual, but must be contained in a condition of approximate balance to avoid a descent into anarchy. The message of The Bacchae, however, is ambiguous insofar as the conclusion of the play suggests the desired victory of the Dionysian infatuation, yet the disintegration of public order and Apollonian statecraft would have been obvious to Euripides’ audience. We recall that Plato’s Republic, in which music, art, and trance-like phenomena were to be the prohibited by law, appeared circa 380 B.C., only 25 years after the initial performance of The Bacchae. Both sides of the dynamic had their dedicated votaries.

Perhaps it was ever thus as one or another of these indispensable forces inevitably comes to predominate. Indeed, the Greek tragedians seemed to understand that the battle between male structure and female sentiment was an eternal fact of human life. For Aeschylus, to privilege one over the other ends in disaster — “Either way, ruin,” as Agamemnon laments in the first play of the Trilogy, a phrase adopted by the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel in his Lectures on Aesthetics as a capsule definition of tragedy. For Euripides, the labile spirit of the feminine must be released into the world, whatever the cost. Yet, despite the priority given to Dionysus and his “agenda,” there are, as it were, strong premonitory elements in The Bacchae that apply to our contemporary dilemma in which carceral feminism has come to cultural prominence.

In the current historical moment, the trance afflicting our radical feminists is not imposed from without, as in the play, but is self-induced, leading to a nationwide vendetta against so-called “toxic masculinity.” The belief that the “patriarchy” is responsible for all of society’s ills has produced destructive consequences: the ubiquitous allegations targeting men for sexual misconduct on the flimsiest of pretexts, the reduction of normative sexuality to the status of an aberration or a crime, the shunting of jurisprudence away from the English Common Law principle of “burden of proof” toward the dodgy concept of “preponderance of evidence” (i.e., whatever the adjudicator feels is likely or credible, almost always in favor of the female plaintiff), the campaign to Ritalin young male students into a state of narcolepsy, the precipitous decline of male university graduates, and the accelerating collapse of the institution of marriage. Contemporary feminists are Euripidean maenads in modern form, metaphorically and, in social effect, tearing men limb from limb in a fury of pathogenic derangement.

What is also interesting is that Pentheus allows himself to be persuaded to wear female attire in order to carry out his reconnaissance unobserved. Mutatis mutandis, a version of his regrettable decision is currently flourishing among us as men come increasingly to side with the feminist prepossession — judges, teachers, political leaders, university administrators, intellectuals, talking heads supporting the feminist dogma that women are society’s innocent victims and men violent oppressors and ruthless demagogues who must be denounced, punished, brought low like Pentheus from his tree, and ultimately feminized.

Men now find themselves in a binary Penthean condition: on the one hand, the profusion of beta males sporting their inner maenadic vestments — aka manginas and “white knights,” emanations of the god whose epithets include Dionysos Dimorphos (dual-formed), gunnis (womanish man), and pseudanor (counterfeit man); and on the other, men who wish to remain men being culturally dismembered and socially castrated. The balance between the sexes, both biological and cultural, is now communally distorted beyond recognition as Dionysus celebrates his triumph over Apollo and the Furies swarm Mount Olympus.

“It is precisely Dionysus’ identification with the feminine,” writes classical scholar Froma Zeitlin in Sexuality and Gender in the Classical World, that allows the god to introduce “confusions, conflicts, tensions and ambiguities” into the hierarchical masculine world, thus disrupting “the normal social categories” and impairing male confidence and authority to the detriment of the whole. This is where we have arrived in our era of Dionysian madness.

As Agave laments at the end of The Bacchae, “It was Dionysus who proved our ruin; now I see it all.” In demanding obeisance to temperamental fury at the expense of the principle of order, feminists and their allies have unleashed a storm of discontent, resentment, misrule, and social turmoil whose consequences will be catastrophic. Without the reassertion of proud and inherent masculinity to restore the equilibrium between the sexes, the road to political suicide and cultural decay is wide open and we will all, women as well as men, suffer for it.



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'Believe All Women' at Your Peril


We’ve heard it all before: “start by believing.”  “Believe  survivors.”  At a recent panel discussion at the Ottawa City Hall, where my wife, Janice Fiamengo, was one of three featured participants, the subject of #MeToo and “Believe All Women” came up during the Q&A.  (See 1:35:34 to 1:38:27 of the embedded YouTube video below.)  An audience member claimed that it behooved us in most cases to give credence to women bringing forth their stories of sexual abuse.  The young woman was skeptical of the court process as a way of resolving issues of sexual violence in women’s favor and contended that we need “non-criminal” forms of restorative justice, some form of “healing or accountability.”

Janice and her co-panelists, authors Paul Nathanson and David Shackleton, quickly put paid to that notion.  Non-legal judgments via social media and public shaming could be as onerous and punitive as legal sentencing, turning men who had not been proven guilty into social lepers and bankrupts.  The legal system may be flawed, but, as Shackleton remarked, it is the best we have and is theoretically capable of improvement.

In fact, an argument against #MeToo and the concomitant pursuit of non-legal incrimination is often put forward by the subtler variety of feminists, such as Josephine Mathias in the National Post and Bari Weiss in the New York Times, but for a completely different reason.  They maintain that false allegations in the public sphere, such as the Duke Lacrosse and Rolling Stone moments, may discredit the “Believe All Women” movement; in the words of Weiss, such fictions “will tear down all accusers as false prophets.”  It is not the harm to innocent men that concerns Weiss, but the damage to female credibility.  The movement must be maintained.

Here I would indicate that, contrary to the young questioner who distrusted the cumbersome apparatus of the courts, which lead only to “re-victimization,” as well as Shackleton’s faith in a self-corrective justice system, court judgments in our SJW era tend to favor women – and when they don’t, the cry goes up for a quasi-legal system based on the “preponderance of evidence” rather than the “presumption of innocence” model – that is, on whatever narrative the judge or adjudicator tends to believe as more persuasive, evidence be damned.  After all, women who lie or collude are only victims too troubled to get their stories straight.

In any event, whether utterly oblivious of the need for reasonable assessment and sober judgment before taking action, as in the example of the young woman in the Q&A session, or arguing against public dissemination of false reports, as the more sophisticated feminists hold, the problem remains. A deep emotional commitment to a cause, scanting the imperative to seek evidence before judgment or refusing to recognize that abuse comes in many forms, including women who trivialize their complaints or are complicit in unsavory acts in order to further their careers, is, to put it bluntly, immoral.  What we are observing is an ideological compulsion that militates against reason and fairness.

A case in point: Andrea Dworkin, one of the stoutest pillars of radical feminist theory, claimed in her autobiographical writings that she had been abused and raped from the age of nine and continuing for decades.  As Dworkin assured us in her book Intercourse, “[v]iolation is a synonym for intercourse”; again, in Our Blood, that “[u]nder patriarchy, every woman’s son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman.”  It’s a bridge too far for most sensible people.  Even feminist former columnist for The Globe and Mail Leah McLaren dismisses her stories as “full of inconsistencies and logical gaps.”  No wonder Dworkin, who said, “There is always one problem for a woman: being believed,” is herself unbelievable.  Her voluminous deposition is a form of abusing her readers with mainly self-indulgent fables.

Of course, belief in such matters should depend on the search for credible evidence and the objective assessment of facts, but such an approach has been blithely discarded by another radical feminist and collaborator, Catherine MacKinnon.  In Feminism Unmodified, she wrote: “Our critique of the objective standpoint as male is a critique of science as a specifically male approach to knowledge.  With it, we reject male criteria for verification” (emphasis mine).  It follows that truth deriving from objective analysis is a male conspiracy meant to subjugate women.  Ergo, women must be believed regardless of evidence, the rule of law, and objective verification, since these are merely patriarchal strategies to enforce the masculine will.

The nonsense brachiates with every passing day, wherever we might look.  In a recent profile for Canada’s elite left-wing rag The Walrus, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs Chrystia Freeland declared: “I’m a woman.  I’m a wife.  I’m a mother.  One hundred years ago, I would’ve been beaten by my husband.  That’s what happened to pretty much all women.”  Judging from her photo, I suspect that Freeland is not 100 years old, but then, I suppose we must give her the benefit of the doubt.  She is a high-ranking government apparatchik who must know what she is talking about.

Naturally, feminists will point to statistics showing that men predominate in cases of domestic violence.  The category of domestic violence has been a boon for feminists, who argue that IPV (intimate partner violence) is almost entirely one-sided, with women the vast majority of victims.  But I know of many innocent men falsely accused by their partners, who have lost everything, including the right to visit their children, and of others who decide to plea-bargain rather than spend years in court.  Plea-bargaining obviously swells the number of ostensibly violent men, a welcome datum for the feminist thesis.  I have an acquaintance who, insisting on his integrity, refused the plea offer, resulting in a five-year ongoing trauma that has rendered him penniless and now, with a criminal record, effectively unemployable.  His life is ruined.

Additionally, many studies have argued that “gender symmetry” in instances of domestic violence actually exists and that “battered husband syndrome” is a fact of life.  Erin Pizzey, founder of the first women’s shelter in the U.K., discovered to her surprise that over 60%of the women admitted to the center were no less violence-prone than their male partners.  The issue is clearly vexed.

As David Horowitz writes in RealClear Politics, “In the hysterical atmosphere created by the #MeToo movement – a by-product of the Women’s March and the ‘movement’ that produced it – mere accusations become tantamount to guilt with chilling results, and ominous implications for a country built on due process, and the defense of individual rights.”  If, he continues, “elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large.”  And the culture will suffer for it.

The “Believe All Women” meme is now rooted in our manifold hierarchies of oppression.  It will continue to do untold harm to both men and women unless we can return to the approximate sanity of the past, before the absurdly named “Twitter” feeds, the duplicitous and unaccountable intimacy of Facebook, and the Fake News Media came to substitute for investigative justice.

We’ve heard it all before: “start by believing.”  “Believe  survivors.”  At a recent panel discussion at the Ottawa City Hall, where my wife, Janice Fiamengo, was one of three featured participants, the subject of #MeToo and “Believe All Women” came up during the Q&A.  (See 1:35:34 to 1:38:27 of the embedded YouTube video below.)  An audience member claimed that it behooved us in most cases to give credence to women bringing forth their stories of sexual abuse.  The young woman was skeptical of the court process as a way of resolving issues of sexual violence in women’s favor and contended that we need “non-criminal” forms of restorative justice, some form of “healing or accountability.”

Janice and her co-panelists, authors Paul Nathanson and David Shackleton, quickly put paid to that notion.  Non-legal judgments via social media and public shaming could be as onerous and punitive as legal sentencing, turning men who had not been proven guilty into social lepers and bankrupts.  The legal system may be flawed, but, as Shackleton remarked, it is the best we have and is theoretically capable of improvement.

In fact, an argument against #MeToo and the concomitant pursuit of non-legal incrimination is often put forward by the subtler variety of feminists, such as Josephine Mathias in the National Post and Bari Weiss in the New York Times, but for a completely different reason.  They maintain that false allegations in the public sphere, such as the Duke Lacrosse and Rolling Stone moments, may discredit the “Believe All Women” movement; in the words of Weiss, such fictions “will tear down all accusers as false prophets.”  It is not the harm to innocent men that concerns Weiss, but the damage to female credibility.  The movement must be maintained.

Here I would indicate that, contrary to the young questioner who distrusted the cumbersome apparatus of the courts, which lead only to “re-victimization,” as well as Shackleton’s faith in a self-corrective justice system, court judgments in our SJW era tend to favor women – and when they don’t, the cry goes up for a quasi-legal system based on the “preponderance of evidence” rather than the “presumption of innocence” model – that is, on whatever narrative the judge or adjudicator tends to believe as more persuasive, evidence be damned.  After all, women who lie or collude are only victims too troubled to get their stories straight.

In any event, whether utterly oblivious of the need for reasonable assessment and sober judgment before taking action, as in the example of the young woman in the Q&A session, or arguing against public dissemination of false reports, as the more sophisticated feminists hold, the problem remains. A deep emotional commitment to a cause, scanting the imperative to seek evidence before judgment or refusing to recognize that abuse comes in many forms, including women who trivialize their complaints or are complicit in unsavory acts in order to further their careers, is, to put it bluntly, immoral.  What we are observing is an ideological compulsion that militates against reason and fairness.

A case in point: Andrea Dworkin, one of the stoutest pillars of radical feminist theory, claimed in her autobiographical writings that she had been abused and raped from the age of nine and continuing for decades.  As Dworkin assured us in her book Intercourse, “[v]iolation is a synonym for intercourse”; again, in Our Blood, that “[u]nder patriarchy, every woman’s son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman.”  It’s a bridge too far for most sensible people.  Even feminist former columnist for The Globe and Mail Leah McLaren dismisses her stories as “full of inconsistencies and logical gaps.”  No wonder Dworkin, who said, “There is always one problem for a woman: being believed,” is herself unbelievable.  Her voluminous deposition is a form of abusing her readers with mainly self-indulgent fables.

Of course, belief in such matters should depend on the search for credible evidence and the objective assessment of facts, but such an approach has been blithely discarded by another radical feminist and collaborator, Catherine MacKinnon.  In Feminism Unmodified, she wrote: “Our critique of the objective standpoint as male is a critique of science as a specifically male approach to knowledge.  With it, we reject male criteria for verification” (emphasis mine).  It follows that truth deriving from objective analysis is a male conspiracy meant to subjugate women.  Ergo, women must be believed regardless of evidence, the rule of law, and objective verification, since these are merely patriarchal strategies to enforce the masculine will.

The nonsense brachiates with every passing day, wherever we might look.  In a recent profile for Canada’s elite left-wing rag The Walrus, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs Chrystia Freeland declared: “I’m a woman.  I’m a wife.  I’m a mother.  One hundred years ago, I would’ve been beaten by my husband.  That’s what happened to pretty much all women.”  Judging from her photo, I suspect that Freeland is not 100 years old, but then, I suppose we must give her the benefit of the doubt.  She is a high-ranking government apparatchik who must know what she is talking about.

Naturally, feminists will point to statistics showing that men predominate in cases of domestic violence.  The category of domestic violence has been a boon for feminists, who argue that IPV (intimate partner violence) is almost entirely one-sided, with women the vast majority of victims.  But I know of many innocent men falsely accused by their partners, who have lost everything, including the right to visit their children, and of others who decide to plea-bargain rather than spend years in court.  Plea-bargaining obviously swells the number of ostensibly violent men, a welcome datum for the feminist thesis.  I have an acquaintance who, insisting on his integrity, refused the plea offer, resulting in a five-year ongoing trauma that has rendered him penniless and now, with a criminal record, effectively unemployable.  His life is ruined.

Additionally, many studies have argued that “gender symmetry” in instances of domestic violence actually exists and that “battered husband syndrome” is a fact of life.  Erin Pizzey, founder of the first women’s shelter in the U.K., discovered to her surprise that over 60%of the women admitted to the center were no less violence-prone than their male partners.  The issue is clearly vexed.

As David Horowitz writes in RealClear Politics, “In the hysterical atmosphere created by the #MeToo movement – a by-product of the Women’s March and the ‘movement’ that produced it – mere accusations become tantamount to guilt with chilling results, and ominous implications for a country built on due process, and the defense of individual rights.”  If, he continues, “elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large.”  And the culture will suffer for it.

The “Believe All Women” meme is now rooted in our manifold hierarchies of oppression.  It will continue to do untold harm to both men and women unless we can return to the approximate sanity of the past, before the absurdly named “Twitter” feeds, the duplicitous and unaccountable intimacy of Facebook, and the Fake News Media came to substitute for investigative justice.



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Joe McCarthy and Lillian Hellman: The Hated Patriot vs. the Beloved Commie


Over half a century after the “Red Scare,” playwright and memoirist Lillian Hellman, whose name is often coupled with her adversary Senator Joe McCarthy, seems to have emerged relatively unscathed in the court of elite progressivist opinion despite the exposure of her manifold fabrications and deceptions.  The liar, it appears, is the incarnation of a higher truth.  Such is the power of the press and the cultural salience of left-wing attitudes in America.

Hellman, a passionate supporter of the Soviet Union even when Stalin’s crimes had been widely publicized, was subpoenaed before the House Un-American Activities Committee by McCarthy and was subsequently lionized by the media, the commentariat, and the entertainment industry from the 1950s to the present for refusing to name names.  She was elevated to the plinth of truth and courage while McCarthy was effectively consigned to the Eighth Circle of the Inferno as an evil counselor and a sower of discord.

We can agree that McCarthy cast too wide a net, and many will argue that he was responsible for a climate of national hysteria, but we cannot deny, after the release of the Venona transcripts, that he was mainly right.  There was indeed a concerted and largely successful attempt to infiltrate the White House by Soviet agents during the 1940s and 1950s.  This was McCarthy’s truth.  Hellman, however, was a notorious liar, of whom novelist Mary McCarthy (no relation to Joseph) said, “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”  Historian Alice Kessler-Harris in her hagiographic 2012 volume A Difficult Woman attempted to justify Hellman as a literary fabulist with a poor memory who believed that truth is larger than fact.  Dorothy Gallagher in her 2014 biography Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life is having none of it, turning a postmodern extenuation into a historical indictment.  “She dissembles … hedges, misleads,” Gallagher writes, and proves it.  Even the pro-socialist Joan Mellen in Hellman and Hammett concurs. 

In her acclaimed memoir Pentimento, Hellman told of her revolutionary generosity and grave personal risk in smuggling money to a certain Julia, a member of the anti-fascist underground in Austria just prior to the war – a blatant lie, perpetuated by Jane Fonda playing Hellman in the film Julia.  There was no Julia.  Hellman’s reported adventures in to Berlin and her cloak-and-dagger activities were the stuff of pure fiction, like something out of The Maltese Falcon.  (Ironically, the word “pentimento” refers to a scumbling technique in visual art – i.e., something painted over.)  The real-life risk-taker, Muriel Gardiner, stated that she had never met Hellman, and when Gardiner wrote a letter to Hellman about her anti-fascist exploits, Hellman affected never to have received it.  Gardiner’s book Code Name “Mary” (1983) and her subsequent television documentary The “Real” Julia (1987)are as definitive as you can get, the latter suggesting that Hellman may have learned about the specific details of Gardiner’s activities from their mutual friend and lawyer, Wolf Schwawbacher.

According to Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway’s wife at the time and a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, Hellman grossly misrepresented the details in her account of her visit to Spain, sending after-the-fact reports from the safety of distance from the front.  Hellman implausibly claimed she was unaware of the Stalinist purge when she was in Moscow.  She asserted she was never a member of the Communist Party – a flat-out lie.  She said that during the blacklist, she was forced to earn her living as a store clerk, papering over her investment wealth and her extensive property holdings in New York and Martha’s Vineyard.  The photo of Hellman posing in a mink coat in a Blackglama ad with the caption “What Becomes a Legend Most” does not consort with the legend of hardship she promoted.  According to historian Samuel McCracken in Commentary, in which he listed a veritable skein of lies and contradictions, “The real issue posed by Miss Hellman is that she has manipulated millions of readers and moviegoers into admiring her as an ethical exemplar and a ruthlessly honest writer.” 

Facts have little bearing on the cultural afterlife of Hellman and McCarthy.  The mendacious communist sympathizer is still extravagantly eulogized in some quarters – the Huffington Post attributes creative licence to Hellman, “when it’s less than a lie and more than the truth.”  Meanwhile, the persistent anti-communist is routinely denounced.  Arthur Miller’s celebrated “The Crucible” draws parallels between the Salem witch trials and the “Red Scare,” dividing McCarthy between two characters, the Reverend Parris and his niece, Abigail Williams, accusers of innocent people.  One recalls, too, the auto da fé scene in the Leonard Bernstein operetta Candide, to which Hellman contributed some of the lyrics, suggesting McCarthy at his incendiary trade.  Eric Bentley’s stagey piece of theatrical bathos, “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?,” with the lovely Liza Minnelli briefly playing the role of Hellman – who, to put it gently, was not renowned for her beauty – similarly burnished Hellman’s reputation.  Parroting Hellman’s famous May 19, 1952 letter to HUAC, Minnelli proclaimed with stilted and contrived dignity that she was taught “to tell the truth, not to bear false witness” – an episode that, knowing Hellman, comes across like unintentional farce.  (One thinks of Lincoln’s likely apocryphal remark regarding John Booth’s acting as being so wooden he could have built a second cabin from it.)

For the leftist intelligentsia and Star Machine, Hellman could do no wrong.  It was no surprise that Little, Brown canceled the publication of Diana Trilling’s essay collection owing to several passages critical of Hellman.  “Hate her if you must but don’t reduce her,” writes Mark Oppenheimer in Forward of the woman who “refused the blandishments of neo-conservatism.”

It is now almost impossible to dislodge McCarthy from the almanac of American villainy or evict Hellman, at least among the left, from the pantheon of American celebrity.  As anthropologist Dan Sperber writes in Explaining Culture, “the epidemiology of mental representations” – images and ideas which, subject to a species of inertia, persist in the collective psychology of a people or a nation – bind with cultural memory and become difficult to uproot.

The upshot is this: McCarthy, whatever his flaws, was an American patriot.  Hellman, whatever her virtues, was a communist loyalist.  If McCarthy was guilty of exaggeration, Hellman was guilty of outright lying.  In her 1977 address to the Academy Awards, in which she received a prolonged standing ovation, Hellman spoke of McCarthy’s “poisoned ax,” but the instrument that did the most long-term harm was her poison pen, running ink to blot out truth.  The left’s literary revenge against McCarthy triggered the across-the-culture political assassination of the senator from Wisconsin, thanks to people like Hellman and her ilk.  Even conservative thinkers regard McCarthy as the third rail of American politics.

The larger story is that left always lies, as the current campaign by the media, progressivists, and Tinseltown brigades against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton abundantly confirms.  Indeed, Trump figures as the Inquisitor in a recent performance of Candide.  MAGA Trump is regarded by the liberal left as a McCarthy figure who cuts a broad destructive swath and lying Hillary as a courageous and much sinned against Hellman redevivus.  The attempt to defend a constitutional republic is anathema in the eyes of the left.  The attempt to replace it with a socialist oligarchy is the embodiment of the highest necessity.  Literary and celebrity glamor is the golden cloth that decorates the Marxist project.

The anti-anti-communists relentlessly pushing their doctrines, as Diana West writes in American Betrayal, of “political correctness … sensitivity training” and the “top-down transformation of the human condition” have turned the past into a strategy against the future and social and political history into a kind of fumetti caricature of actual events.  Ultimately, the left needs its McCarthy as much as it needs its Hellman – the one to vilify for seeking to defend his country, the other to rehabilitate for seeking to subvert it.

Over half a century after the “Red Scare,” playwright and memoirist Lillian Hellman, whose name is often coupled with her adversary Senator Joe McCarthy, seems to have emerged relatively unscathed in the court of elite progressivist opinion despite the exposure of her manifold fabrications and deceptions.  The liar, it appears, is the incarnation of a higher truth.  Such is the power of the press and the cultural salience of left-wing attitudes in America.

Hellman, a passionate supporter of the Soviet Union even when Stalin’s crimes had been widely publicized, was subpoenaed before the House Un-American Activities Committee by McCarthy and was subsequently lionized by the media, the commentariat, and the entertainment industry from the 1950s to the present for refusing to name names.  She was elevated to the plinth of truth and courage while McCarthy was effectively consigned to the Eighth Circle of the Inferno as an evil counselor and a sower of discord.

We can agree that McCarthy cast too wide a net, and many will argue that he was responsible for a climate of national hysteria, but we cannot deny, after the release of the Venona transcripts, that he was mainly right.  There was indeed a concerted and largely successful attempt to infiltrate the White House by Soviet agents during the 1940s and 1950s.  This was McCarthy’s truth.  Hellman, however, was a notorious liar, of whom novelist Mary McCarthy (no relation to Joseph) said, “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”  Historian Alice Kessler-Harris in her hagiographic 2012 volume A Difficult Woman attempted to justify Hellman as a literary fabulist with a poor memory who believed that truth is larger than fact.  Dorothy Gallagher in her 2014 biography Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life is having none of it, turning a postmodern extenuation into a historical indictment.  “She dissembles … hedges, misleads,” Gallagher writes, and proves it.  Even the pro-socialist Joan Mellen in Hellman and Hammett concurs. 

In her acclaimed memoir Pentimento, Hellman told of her revolutionary generosity and grave personal risk in smuggling money to a certain Julia, a member of the anti-fascist underground in Austria just prior to the war – a blatant lie, perpetuated by Jane Fonda playing Hellman in the film Julia.  There was no Julia.  Hellman’s reported adventures in to Berlin and her cloak-and-dagger activities were the stuff of pure fiction, like something out of The Maltese Falcon.  (Ironically, the word “pentimento” refers to a scumbling technique in visual art – i.e., something painted over.)  The real-life risk-taker, Muriel Gardiner, stated that she had never met Hellman, and when Gardiner wrote a letter to Hellman about her anti-fascist exploits, Hellman affected never to have received it.  Gardiner’s book Code Name “Mary” (1983) and her subsequent television documentary The “Real” Julia (1987)are as definitive as you can get, the latter suggesting that Hellman may have learned about the specific details of Gardiner’s activities from their mutual friend and lawyer, Wolf Schwawbacher.

According to Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway’s wife at the time and a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, Hellman grossly misrepresented the details in her account of her visit to Spain, sending after-the-fact reports from the safety of distance from the front.  Hellman implausibly claimed she was unaware of the Stalinist purge when she was in Moscow.  She asserted she was never a member of the Communist Party – a flat-out lie.  She said that during the blacklist, she was forced to earn her living as a store clerk, papering over her investment wealth and her extensive property holdings in New York and Martha’s Vineyard.  The photo of Hellman posing in a mink coat in a Blackglama ad with the caption “What Becomes a Legend Most” does not consort with the legend of hardship she promoted.  According to historian Samuel McCracken in Commentary, in which he listed a veritable skein of lies and contradictions, “The real issue posed by Miss Hellman is that she has manipulated millions of readers and moviegoers into admiring her as an ethical exemplar and a ruthlessly honest writer.” 

Facts have little bearing on the cultural afterlife of Hellman and McCarthy.  The mendacious communist sympathizer is still extravagantly eulogized in some quarters – the Huffington Post attributes creative licence to Hellman, “when it’s less than a lie and more than the truth.”  Meanwhile, the persistent anti-communist is routinely denounced.  Arthur Miller’s celebrated “The Crucible” draws parallels between the Salem witch trials and the “Red Scare,” dividing McCarthy between two characters, the Reverend Parris and his niece, Abigail Williams, accusers of innocent people.  One recalls, too, the auto da fé scene in the Leonard Bernstein operetta Candide, to which Hellman contributed some of the lyrics, suggesting McCarthy at his incendiary trade.  Eric Bentley’s stagey piece of theatrical bathos, “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?,” with the lovely Liza Minnelli briefly playing the role of Hellman – who, to put it gently, was not renowned for her beauty – similarly burnished Hellman’s reputation.  Parroting Hellman’s famous May 19, 1952 letter to HUAC, Minnelli proclaimed with stilted and contrived dignity that she was taught “to tell the truth, not to bear false witness” – an episode that, knowing Hellman, comes across like unintentional farce.  (One thinks of Lincoln’s likely apocryphal remark regarding John Booth’s acting as being so wooden he could have built a second cabin from it.)

For the leftist intelligentsia and Star Machine, Hellman could do no wrong.  It was no surprise that Little, Brown canceled the publication of Diana Trilling’s essay collection owing to several passages critical of Hellman.  “Hate her if you must but don’t reduce her,” writes Mark Oppenheimer in Forward of the woman who “refused the blandishments of neo-conservatism.”

It is now almost impossible to dislodge McCarthy from the almanac of American villainy or evict Hellman, at least among the left, from the pantheon of American celebrity.  As anthropologist Dan Sperber writes in Explaining Culture, “the epidemiology of mental representations” – images and ideas which, subject to a species of inertia, persist in the collective psychology of a people or a nation – bind with cultural memory and become difficult to uproot.

The upshot is this: McCarthy, whatever his flaws, was an American patriot.  Hellman, whatever her virtues, was a communist loyalist.  If McCarthy was guilty of exaggeration, Hellman was guilty of outright lying.  In her 1977 address to the Academy Awards, in which she received a prolonged standing ovation, Hellman spoke of McCarthy’s “poisoned ax,” but the instrument that did the most long-term harm was her poison pen, running ink to blot out truth.  The left’s literary revenge against McCarthy triggered the across-the-culture political assassination of the senator from Wisconsin, thanks to people like Hellman and her ilk.  Even conservative thinkers regard McCarthy as the third rail of American politics.

The larger story is that left always lies, as the current campaign by the media, progressivists, and Tinseltown brigades against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton abundantly confirms.  Indeed, Trump figures as the Inquisitor in a recent performance of Candide.  MAGA Trump is regarded by the liberal left as a McCarthy figure who cuts a broad destructive swath and lying Hillary as a courageous and much sinned against Hellman redevivus.  The attempt to defend a constitutional republic is anathema in the eyes of the left.  The attempt to replace it with a socialist oligarchy is the embodiment of the highest necessity.  Literary and celebrity glamor is the golden cloth that decorates the Marxist project.

The anti-anti-communists relentlessly pushing their doctrines, as Diana West writes in American Betrayal, of “political correctness … sensitivity training” and the “top-down transformation of the human condition” have turned the past into a strategy against the future and social and political history into a kind of fumetti caricature of actual events.  Ultimately, the left needs its McCarthy as much as it needs its Hellman – the one to vilify for seeking to defend his country, the other to rehabilitate for seeking to subvert it.



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A Brief History of the Fake News Media


For far too long, I was convinced that the media were, on the whole, reliable purveyors of the news. For nearly three years I freelanced happily at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Music and Public Affairs, never suspecting that the Mothercorp was a hive of Liberal propaganda and an artesian fount of scandalously disingenuous broadcasting. It took 9/11 and the generally extenuating media reports over time, faulting the U.S. and exempting Islam, to shake up my thinking and turn me into a sceptical fact-finder.

The media are especially adept at creating villains out of whole cloth for public consumption to advance a particular and often dubious purpose. How else explain the transformation of significant political figures into synonyms for perfidy and opprobrium. I’m thinking in particular of Joe McCarthy, Barry Goldwater and Enoch Powell, all of whom considered themselves patriots and enunciated unpopular or anti-establishment truths, costing them their reputations both in their lifetimes and for posterity.

As Diana West writes of McCarthy, “after more than 60 years of ‘McCarthyism’—the perpetual slander of Joseph McCarthy as a ‘witch-hunter,’ as opposed to an honest accounting of this fearless investigator of deep and widespread infiltration of the US government by Stalin’s secret agents…Americans have been conditioned to…hate, loathe and revile McCarthy…The slander of ‘McCarthyism,’…has had the dire effect of bludgeoning our abilities to detect or even acknowledge the existence of any constitutional enemies, especially ‘domestic.’ ”

Favorable commentators will admit that McCarthy may have been guilty of exaggerations and errors, but as the Venona transcripts have verified, he was right overall. He may have manifested as vindictive, yet he was remorseless in his campaign to isolate Communist sympathizers in government circles who worked to subvert the country. This, of course, made him anathema to a treasonous press and a political establishment that had much to hide, whether their complicity or their negligence.

Barry Goldwater has fared no better. When asked in a July 9, 1964 interview in Der Spiegel about his advocating the use of nuclear weapons to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam, Goldwater replied “About a month‐and‐a­ half ago on a television show I was asked a technical ques­tion, how could you get at the trails through the rain forests of North Vietnam. Well, I served in the rain forests of Burma and I know that the only practical way to get at them is defoliation so an answer to a technical question like this—one pos­sible way of doing it even though I made clear this would never be done, would be the use of low‐yield nu­clear devices” (emphasis mine). As the Daily Mail History section pointed out, “Democrats painted Goldwater as a warmonger who was overly eager to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam.” And, of course, with few exceptions like the Daily Mail, the MSM was all over it, painting Goldwater as a nuclear warhawk, a kind of Dr. Strangelove. (The film appeared on January 29, 1964, 10 months before the Johnson-Goldwater election. The writing was already on the wall.)

I was young and shallow at the time and a knee-jerk leftist, so I took it as media gospel that Goldwater was about to launch a nuclear firestorm. Shortly afterward, I was all for LBJ’s Great Society—a socialist term coined by Fabian Society stalwart Graham Wallas—since the press assured me it was a good thing. How could a “War on Poverty” go wrong?  

It was only much later, when I developed some common sense, shook off the political amblyopia which afflicted me, and actually studied the issue, that I realized the Great Society was at best and only in part a qualified success, but ultimately and in many respects a dismal failure: grossly unaffordable, unleashing a pro-Third World immigration nightmare from which we are suffering today, and furnishing an incentive to welfare parasitism. As Ronald Reagan famously remarked, “In the 60s we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.” But Johnson was elected by a landslide and Goldwater, who in my estimation would have made a much better president, relegated to the halls of infamy.

Then there was the infamous newspaper-generated case of Enoch Powell. As I wrote in a previous article, Powell warned in his 1968, so-called “rivers of blood” speech of the imminent and future perils of unchecked immigration. Powell was worried mainly about immigration from the West Indies, which was transforming traditional neighborhoods into violent ghettoes, whose first and second generation inhabitants were not interested in cultural integration.

Powell’s “river of blood” was an allusion to a passage from Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid in which the Sibyl prophesizes that the “Tiber would flow with blood” as a metaphor for civil discord. As we observe the relentless Islamization of the U.K., can we say he was wrong? Naturally, Powell would today have received the same or worse misuse from the media, which would have tattooed him as a white supremacist, a bigot and an Islamophobe.

Indeed, similar, if somewhat less virulent, treatment has been meted out to London barrister Gavin Boby of “mosque buster” fame. Boby has been the target of media calumny for assisting British homeowners in preparing and filing legal actions to preserve their neighborhoods from the erection of mosques, which collapse property values and render local life increasingly distressing and in many case untenable. Boby has told me stories about severed cables and wires, broken windows, commandeered driveways, residential streets clogged with traffic, harassment of dog owners, pedestrian bullying, forced sales of depressed properties and more, which have driven longtime residents to despair. Boby works pro bono and is strikingly successful, a fact which makes him non grata to the media and the power elites.

Thus, when I think back, I’m appalled at my own naiveté. McCarthy was the devil’s spawn. Goldwater would initiate a nuclear firestorm. Powell  was an irremediable racist. And Islam, of course, is a noble and magnanimous faith. 9/11 changed everything for me and compelled me to embark on a scrupulous five-year program of what I call the indispensable three Rs, Reading, Research and Reflection, which cured me of my media fantasy and culminated in the publication of The Big Lie in 2007/8 and The Boxthorn Tree in 2012. 

The media lie has now acquired epic dimensions. Gary Demar puts it succinctly in an article for Godfather Politics: Obviously, much if not most of what we read in articles and screeds written by liberals “is designed to distort the truth. Some are willing to lie for what they perceive to be their idea of the greater good. Others just put the worst spin on out-of-context statements to elevate the blood pressure of their targeted ultra-liberal audience.”

The Fake News Syndrome, as I’ve stressed, is nothing new. It’s been approximately the case for as long as we can remember. The only discrimination between the MSM and the FNM is that the latter has become effectively coterminous with the former. Previously there were a few, if not many, reasonably impartial news venues; today these are practically non-existent.

Eventually, I realized that the Western media were even more insidious than the Soviet controlled news outfits. Many Russians knew that Pravda and Izvestia were propaganda arms of the Politburo and discounted their stories as rubbish; many Westerners, on the other hand, are readily deceived, believing the press is free from bias and generally principled and reliable. I know now, however belatedly, that our media constitute one of the gravest threats to our democratic traditions and wonder how I could ever have been so gullible.

For far too long, I was convinced that the media were, on the whole, reliable purveyors of the news. For nearly three years I freelanced happily at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Music and Public Affairs, never suspecting that the Mothercorp was a hive of Liberal propaganda and an artesian fount of scandalously disingenuous broadcasting. It took 9/11 and the generally extenuating media reports over time, faulting the U.S. and exempting Islam, to shake up my thinking and turn me into a sceptical fact-finder.

The media are especially adept at creating villains out of whole cloth for public consumption to advance a particular and often dubious purpose. How else explain the transformation of significant political figures into synonyms for perfidy and opprobrium. I’m thinking in particular of Joe McCarthy, Barry Goldwater and Enoch Powell, all of whom considered themselves patriots and enunciated unpopular or anti-establishment truths, costing them their reputations both in their lifetimes and for posterity.

As Diana West writes of McCarthy, “after more than 60 years of ‘McCarthyism’—the perpetual slander of Joseph McCarthy as a ‘witch-hunter,’ as opposed to an honest accounting of this fearless investigator of deep and widespread infiltration of the US government by Stalin’s secret agents…Americans have been conditioned to…hate, loathe and revile McCarthy…The slander of ‘McCarthyism,’…has had the dire effect of bludgeoning our abilities to detect or even acknowledge the existence of any constitutional enemies, especially ‘domestic.’ ”

Favorable commentators will admit that McCarthy may have been guilty of exaggerations and errors, but as the Venona transcripts have verified, he was right overall. He may have manifested as vindictive, yet he was remorseless in his campaign to isolate Communist sympathizers in government circles who worked to subvert the country. This, of course, made him anathema to a treasonous press and a political establishment that had much to hide, whether their complicity or their negligence.

Barry Goldwater has fared no better. When asked in a July 9, 1964 interview in Der Spiegel about his advocating the use of nuclear weapons to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam, Goldwater replied “About a month‐and‐a­ half ago on a television show I was asked a technical ques­tion, how could you get at the trails through the rain forests of North Vietnam. Well, I served in the rain forests of Burma and I know that the only practical way to get at them is defoliation so an answer to a technical question like this—one pos­sible way of doing it even though I made clear this would never be done, would be the use of low‐yield nu­clear devices” (emphasis mine). As the Daily Mail History section pointed out, “Democrats painted Goldwater as a warmonger who was overly eager to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam.” And, of course, with few exceptions like the Daily Mail, the MSM was all over it, painting Goldwater as a nuclear warhawk, a kind of Dr. Strangelove. (The film appeared on January 29, 1964, 10 months before the Johnson-Goldwater election. The writing was already on the wall.)

I was young and shallow at the time and a knee-jerk leftist, so I took it as media gospel that Goldwater was about to launch a nuclear firestorm. Shortly afterward, I was all for LBJ’s Great Society—a socialist term coined by Fabian Society stalwart Graham Wallas—since the press assured me it was a good thing. How could a “War on Poverty” go wrong?  

It was only much later, when I developed some common sense, shook off the political amblyopia which afflicted me, and actually studied the issue, that I realized the Great Society was at best and only in part a qualified success, but ultimately and in many respects a dismal failure: grossly unaffordable, unleashing a pro-Third World immigration nightmare from which we are suffering today, and furnishing an incentive to welfare parasitism. As Ronald Reagan famously remarked, “In the 60s we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.” But Johnson was elected by a landslide and Goldwater, who in my estimation would have made a much better president, relegated to the halls of infamy.

Then there was the infamous newspaper-generated case of Enoch Powell. As I wrote in a previous article, Powell warned in his 1968, so-called “rivers of blood” speech of the imminent and future perils of unchecked immigration. Powell was worried mainly about immigration from the West Indies, which was transforming traditional neighborhoods into violent ghettoes, whose first and second generation inhabitants were not interested in cultural integration.

Powell’s “river of blood” was an allusion to a passage from Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid in which the Sibyl prophesizes that the “Tiber would flow with blood” as a metaphor for civil discord. As we observe the relentless Islamization of the U.K., can we say he was wrong? Naturally, Powell would today have received the same or worse misuse from the media, which would have tattooed him as a white supremacist, a bigot and an Islamophobe.

Indeed, similar, if somewhat less virulent, treatment has been meted out to London barrister Gavin Boby of “mosque buster” fame. Boby has been the target of media calumny for assisting British homeowners in preparing and filing legal actions to preserve their neighborhoods from the erection of mosques, which collapse property values and render local life increasingly distressing and in many case untenable. Boby has told me stories about severed cables and wires, broken windows, commandeered driveways, residential streets clogged with traffic, harassment of dog owners, pedestrian bullying, forced sales of depressed properties and more, which have driven longtime residents to despair. Boby works pro bono and is strikingly successful, a fact which makes him non grata to the media and the power elites.

Thus, when I think back, I’m appalled at my own naiveté. McCarthy was the devil’s spawn. Goldwater would initiate a nuclear firestorm. Powell  was an irremediable racist. And Islam, of course, is a noble and magnanimous faith. 9/11 changed everything for me and compelled me to embark on a scrupulous five-year program of what I call the indispensable three Rs, Reading, Research and Reflection, which cured me of my media fantasy and culminated in the publication of The Big Lie in 2007/8 and The Boxthorn Tree in 2012. 

The media lie has now acquired epic dimensions. Gary Demar puts it succinctly in an article for Godfather Politics: Obviously, much if not most of what we read in articles and screeds written by liberals “is designed to distort the truth. Some are willing to lie for what they perceive to be their idea of the greater good. Others just put the worst spin on out-of-context statements to elevate the blood pressure of their targeted ultra-liberal audience.”

The Fake News Syndrome, as I’ve stressed, is nothing new. It’s been approximately the case for as long as we can remember. The only discrimination between the MSM and the FNM is that the latter has become effectively coterminous with the former. Previously there were a few, if not many, reasonably impartial news venues; today these are practically non-existent.

Eventually, I realized that the Western media were even more insidious than the Soviet controlled news outfits. Many Russians knew that Pravda and Izvestia were propaganda arms of the Politburo and discounted their stories as rubbish; many Westerners, on the other hand, are readily deceived, believing the press is free from bias and generally principled and reliable. I know now, however belatedly, that our media constitute one of the gravest threats to our democratic traditions and wonder how I could ever have been so gullible.



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The Left Will Always Be with Us


In a January 3, 2018 article for American Thinker, “The Left’s 1942,” J.R. Dunn argues that leftism may be approaching its last days, at least in the U.S.  Its losses, failures, and absurdities have ensured its gradual demise.  “While certainly not as dramatic as the events of WWII,” Dunn writes, “the political defeat of leftism may well be just as decisive.”

“Never in my memory,” Dunn concludes, “has leftism been so disarrayed and subdued.  For the first time in many decades, we can turn our eyes toward the bright sunlit uplands, where liberty reigns, and where each may abide by his vine and fig tree and be not afraid.”

Dunn’s assessment deserves to be taken seriously.  The author of a major political work, Death by Liberalism, he has considerable authority to pronounce on the present condition of the liberal-left project. In that book, Dunn expresses his conviction that any government that denies the social “compact” or “bargain” between government and governed will ultimately collapse, “as surely as the British went in 1781, as the imperial states after WWI, as the [USSR] went in 1991.”  We may add that the latest instance of total socialist miscarriage is the oil-rich state of Venezuela, now officially out of gas.

This domino effect is certainly the case in individual historical episodes.  But hybristic liberalism – aka utopianism, leftism, communism, fascism, or any of the sobriquets by which it is known – is a Hydra-headed phenomenon that, after every defeat, inevitably regenerates.  As Jean-François Revel wrote in The Totalitarian Temptation (1976), “[t]he only way to reform [c]ommunism is to get rid of it,” yet even he, in Last Exit to Utopia (2000) admitted “[c]ommunism’s ongoing capacity for ideological terror.”

It seems to me that what we now call “leftism” or any of its nominal substitutes will always be with us.  It is an indelible part of human nature, going back to time immemorial and probably rooted in the necessary sharing arrangements of primitive or subsistence societies.  Socialism also has a message that it relentlessly disseminates.  As Dunn himself points out in Death by Liberalism, dictatorial liberalism – that is, leftism – has profited and spread by virtue of an ideological component abetted by modern technology and communication systems.  “Ideology provided the dictators,” he explains, “with a means of mobilizing support and instilling revolutionary zeal.”  It was – and is – no longer merely a question of jackboots and tanks; the ideological message and missionary zeal guarantee the longevity of the doctrine being propagated.

Further, the doctrine is interpreted and promulgated by the left in a quasi-divine manner as the secular word of God, which is why it is inimical to counter-argument and will not tolerate dissent.  It has proliferated in various forms and guises, theories and practices, right up to the present moment.  Once a ruthless necessity for survival in raw man-vs.-nature circumstances and, also, in its purest form, an expression of human nobility – i.e., caritas – the egalitarian ethos has been warped, deformed, and made monstrous, owing to the human tendency toward envy, resentment, betrayal, and sheer greed.  One thinks of Immanuel Kant’s dictum in The Idea of Universal History: “[o]ut of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

This is particularly true of the socialist dogmatic.  Different manifestations of political “leftism” will succeed for a time and inevitably fail, only to re-emerge from the detritus in some other embodiment.  It is here to stay – and must be constantly fought.  This war will never cease, any more than the devil will ever relent.  And despite occasional victories, it is a war that conservatives cannot decisively win – not only because the utopian passion is perennial, but because genuine conservatives, unlike their leftist antagonists, tend to be decent people who have rarely minded spirited and lucid debate with adversaries.

Leftism, however, is a closed intellectual world.  It survives in large measure because it is immune to facts.  Rousseau laid down the socialist ground plan in his 1754 Discourse on Inequality, when he wrote: “Let us begin … by laying aside facts, for they do not affect the question[.]”  Its canons are regarded as sacrosanct, and those who would open that world to dialogue or dispute are pro forma denounced and pilloried as heretics – or simply annihilated.  After all, it is hard to give up the socialist dream, even among the most reflective.

To take a resonant example, a brilliant mind and wise soul like the socialist thinker Sidney Hook can acknowledge in his autobiography Out of Step what Daniel Bell “called the ‘failure of socialism’ as one of the outstanding developments of the twentieth century.”  Hook recognizes the decline in productivity and the “erosion in the skills of craftsmanship and in the work ethic” as features of socialist dispensations and fully understands “the instability of [s]ocialist welfare states, unable to control inflation [and] eliminate mass unemployment.”  Yet he cannot surrender the socialist dream, confessing that “I still have faith that the democratic welfare societies of the West can be reformed of their waywardness, to function efficiently without creating a permanent welfare class and its evils.”

The book was published in 1986.  A generation later, one need merely cast a cursory glance at Europe and much of the Anglosphere to realize how wrong Hook was: enormous debt and unfunded liabilities, rising unemployment, defective medical provisions, a vast parasitical bureaucracy, sub-replacement fertility ratios, social unrest, and a mega-welfare class.  Yet we can also see how powerful and seductive the socialist fantasy can be.  It speaks to the best in us and infallibly produces the worst in us.

So, pace J.R. Dunn, I don’t know about the sunny uplands.  I suspect we will always be entangled in the dark vales of a utopian ideology that needs fighting.

In a January 3, 2018 article for American Thinker, “The Left’s 1942,” J.R. Dunn argues that leftism may be approaching its last days, at least in the U.S.  Its losses, failures, and absurdities have ensured its gradual demise.  “While certainly not as dramatic as the events of WWII,” Dunn writes, “the political defeat of leftism may well be just as decisive.”

“Never in my memory,” Dunn concludes, “has leftism been so disarrayed and subdued.  For the first time in many decades, we can turn our eyes toward the bright sunlit uplands, where liberty reigns, and where each may abide by his vine and fig tree and be not afraid.”

Dunn’s assessment deserves to be taken seriously.  The author of a major political work, Death by Liberalism, he has considerable authority to pronounce on the present condition of the liberal-left project. In that book, Dunn expresses his conviction that any government that denies the social “compact” or “bargain” between government and governed will ultimately collapse, “as surely as the British went in 1781, as the imperial states after WWI, as the [USSR] went in 1991.”  We may add that the latest instance of total socialist miscarriage is the oil-rich state of Venezuela, now officially out of gas.

This domino effect is certainly the case in individual historical episodes.  But hybristic liberalism – aka utopianism, leftism, communism, fascism, or any of the sobriquets by which it is known – is a Hydra-headed phenomenon that, after every defeat, inevitably regenerates.  As Jean-François Revel wrote in The Totalitarian Temptation (1976), “[t]he only way to reform [c]ommunism is to get rid of it,” yet even he, in Last Exit to Utopia (2000) admitted “[c]ommunism’s ongoing capacity for ideological terror.”

It seems to me that what we now call “leftism” or any of its nominal substitutes will always be with us.  It is an indelible part of human nature, going back to time immemorial and probably rooted in the necessary sharing arrangements of primitive or subsistence societies.  Socialism also has a message that it relentlessly disseminates.  As Dunn himself points out in Death by Liberalism, dictatorial liberalism – that is, leftism – has profited and spread by virtue of an ideological component abetted by modern technology and communication systems.  “Ideology provided the dictators,” he explains, “with a means of mobilizing support and instilling revolutionary zeal.”  It was – and is – no longer merely a question of jackboots and tanks; the ideological message and missionary zeal guarantee the longevity of the doctrine being propagated.

Further, the doctrine is interpreted and promulgated by the left in a quasi-divine manner as the secular word of God, which is why it is inimical to counter-argument and will not tolerate dissent.  It has proliferated in various forms and guises, theories and practices, right up to the present moment.  Once a ruthless necessity for survival in raw man-vs.-nature circumstances and, also, in its purest form, an expression of human nobility – i.e., caritas – the egalitarian ethos has been warped, deformed, and made monstrous, owing to the human tendency toward envy, resentment, betrayal, and sheer greed.  One thinks of Immanuel Kant’s dictum in The Idea of Universal History: “[o]ut of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

This is particularly true of the socialist dogmatic.  Different manifestations of political “leftism” will succeed for a time and inevitably fail, only to re-emerge from the detritus in some other embodiment.  It is here to stay – and must be constantly fought.  This war will never cease, any more than the devil will ever relent.  And despite occasional victories, it is a war that conservatives cannot decisively win – not only because the utopian passion is perennial, but because genuine conservatives, unlike their leftist antagonists, tend to be decent people who have rarely minded spirited and lucid debate with adversaries.

Leftism, however, is a closed intellectual world.  It survives in large measure because it is immune to facts.  Rousseau laid down the socialist ground plan in his 1754 Discourse on Inequality, when he wrote: “Let us begin … by laying aside facts, for they do not affect the question[.]”  Its canons are regarded as sacrosanct, and those who would open that world to dialogue or dispute are pro forma denounced and pilloried as heretics – or simply annihilated.  After all, it is hard to give up the socialist dream, even among the most reflective.

To take a resonant example, a brilliant mind and wise soul like the socialist thinker Sidney Hook can acknowledge in his autobiography Out of Step what Daniel Bell “called the ‘failure of socialism’ as one of the outstanding developments of the twentieth century.”  Hook recognizes the decline in productivity and the “erosion in the skills of craftsmanship and in the work ethic” as features of socialist dispensations and fully understands “the instability of [s]ocialist welfare states, unable to control inflation [and] eliminate mass unemployment.”  Yet he cannot surrender the socialist dream, confessing that “I still have faith that the democratic welfare societies of the West can be reformed of their waywardness, to function efficiently without creating a permanent welfare class and its evils.”

The book was published in 1986.  A generation later, one need merely cast a cursory glance at Europe and much of the Anglosphere to realize how wrong Hook was: enormous debt and unfunded liabilities, rising unemployment, defective medical provisions, a vast parasitical bureaucracy, sub-replacement fertility ratios, social unrest, and a mega-welfare class.  Yet we can also see how powerful and seductive the socialist fantasy can be.  It speaks to the best in us and infallibly produces the worst in us.

So, pace J.R. Dunn, I don’t know about the sunny uplands.  I suspect we will always be entangled in the dark vales of a utopian ideology that needs fighting.



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The Death of Academic Rigor


The notion of academic rigor has fallen on evil times.  In a typical instance of continuing epistemic degradation, Donna Riley, of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, insists that rigor must be eliminated since rigor is a “dirty deed” fraught with “exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”  It matters little, apparently, if our bridges collapse so long as “men of color and women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, first-generation and low-income students” are welcomed into the new holistic community defined by “other ways of knowing” – whatever these may be.  Similarly, Rochelle Gutierrez, of the University of Illinois, fears that algebra, geometry, and math perpetuate white male privilege and discriminate against minorities.  Indeed, minority under-performance is often disguised as a form of “mismatching” – that is, the fault lies with the institution for being beyond the student’s intellectual means.  Clearly, the dire situation we are in can only deteriorate as the concept of excellence bites the dust and students are deliberately coaxed into pre-planned intellectual darkness.

The precipitous decline in educational quality in North American schools, colleges, and universities has been amply documented in a plethora of articles and books over the last 20 or so years, including my own efforts in such volumes as Education Lost, Lying about the Wolf, and The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods.  One of the places where we can find real “climate change” is the educational establishment, from kindergarten to graduate school, a mind-sphere where heated rhetoric and frozen accomplishment go hand in hand.  The pedagogical and scholarly climate has become almost unlivable.  Like far too many teachers, I have witnessed the debacle from the trenches – as a supply teacher in the high schools, an ESL instructor, a college professor, a visiting lecturer, a guest professor on the international circuit, and a university writer-in-residence.  The scenario never changed.

Here I am especially concerned with university education.  Wherever we may decide to lay the blame for the disaster of abysmal academic achievement – helicopter parents, substandard public school teachers, the self-esteem movement, a culture of entitlement – the dilemma is compounded by the drumming indoctrination of the political left upon the untutored minds of an increasingly lost generation.  As Jack Kerwick correctly states, “[most of] today’s academics, far from being deep, curious thinkers, are in reality joint-members of a thought-collective.”

The current syllabus in the arts, humanities, and social sciences is dedicated not to a consideration of the Western library, traditional subjects, and “the best that has been thought and said,” to quote Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, but to the grand social struggles that claim the allegiance of radical ideologues who have come to dominate the classroom.  Rigor, of course, is anathema to them.  Their mandate is not to “educate” in the traditional sense of the term, but to conscript and train an army of immature grievance-mongers (snowflakes), shock troops (Antifa), and future leaders of the social Comintern.  They resemble the “reformers” whom the great Greek poet Constantine Cavafy depicts in a wry little poem, “In a Famous Greek Colony, 200 B.C.” (translation mine, some lines conflated):

Whatever the hindrance and the difficulty

these Reformers immediately suggest radical reforms,

demanding that they be implemented without delay.

And when, finally, they finish their work

it will be a miracle if anything survives at all.

As Janice Fiamengo of the University of Ottawa explains in an article for PJ Media, traditional course content is often replaced by non-academic material dealing with race, class, and gender, “specifically a devotion to ‘social justice’ that masquerades as critical analysis[.] … Many professors devote themselves less to teaching their particular disciplines than to decrying the presumed crimes of the United States, sympathizing with Islamic terrorists and other violent dissidents, calling for the overthrow of the capitalist world order, and condoning plans for the destruction of Israel.”  They teach students to sympathize with the “victims” of the day in the noble cause of social equity and to feel “appropriately empowered in grievance or guilty by association.”  And, of course, to conform to their instructor’s causes, prejudices, and partisanship.

Students have also been afflicted with the sanctimonious foolishness of presentism, in which current social and cultural fads, beliefs, and ideologies are superimposed upon the past.  The actions of our predecessors are judged in the light of our own dogmatic assumptions, as if these were perennial – the end point of history – and not merely transitory.  Thus, Shakespeare is regarded as a straight white male patriarch asserting his cultural authority, to be replaced in portrait and curriculum by black radical lesbian Audre Lorde, by any criterion surely one of the worst poets ever to put pen to paper.

To take an example closer to my home, a student-writer denounces Susanna Moodie’s 1852 Roughing It in the Bush for the crime of “othering” – that is, for having “unduly corrupted reader’s [sic] perceptions” of Ontario’s indigenous tribes in the 1830s as “other” rather than equal or superior, as unlettered hunters and gatherers rather than victims of hegemonic white settler oppression.  In the same way, Confederation poet Duncan Campbell Scott, who worked in the federal Department of Indian Affairs and lobbied for the assimilation of the native populations into the social mainstream in order to improve their social and economic prospects, is bitterly condemned as a white supremacist, a racist and an enemy of “social justice.”

To believe that cultures without writing or the wheel or antibiotics or technology or science are equal or superior to a culture that gave us the Magna Carta; developed cures for smallpox and polio; discovered electricity; put a man on the moon; invented the computer; and produced a Homer, Dante, Dostoevsky, Bach, Michelangelo, Newton, and Einstein is, not to put too fine a point on it, the very depths of fatuous imbecility.  But this is the agenda of the academic left: to create a dumbed down, alliterate and illiterate, and politically indoctrinated generation, which had already arrived at the ivory gates incapacitated for disciplined study, intellectual rigor, and scholarly accomplishment.

I suspect that the decline wrought by a deficient home life, substandard public school teachers, and the lamentable denizens of the university thought-collective – expressions of a rapidly plummeting culture – has gone too far to be reversed and must be allowed to complete its journey into rubble and scree.  Only then may some degree of restitution and rebuilding become possible and the concept of academic rigor return to its rightful place in the cognitive milieu.

The notion of academic rigor has fallen on evil times.  In a typical instance of continuing epistemic degradation, Donna Riley, of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, insists that rigor must be eliminated since rigor is a “dirty deed” fraught with “exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”  It matters little, apparently, if our bridges collapse so long as “men of color and women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, first-generation and low-income students” are welcomed into the new holistic community defined by “other ways of knowing” – whatever these may be.  Similarly, Rochelle Gutierrez, of the University of Illinois, fears that algebra, geometry, and math perpetuate white male privilege and discriminate against minorities.  Indeed, minority under-performance is often disguised as a form of “mismatching” – that is, the fault lies with the institution for being beyond the student’s intellectual means.  Clearly, the dire situation we are in can only deteriorate as the concept of excellence bites the dust and students are deliberately coaxed into pre-planned intellectual darkness.

The precipitous decline in educational quality in North American schools, colleges, and universities has been amply documented in a plethora of articles and books over the last 20 or so years, including my own efforts in such volumes as Education Lost, Lying about the Wolf, and The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods.  One of the places where we can find real “climate change” is the educational establishment, from kindergarten to graduate school, a mind-sphere where heated rhetoric and frozen accomplishment go hand in hand.  The pedagogical and scholarly climate has become almost unlivable.  Like far too many teachers, I have witnessed the debacle from the trenches – as a supply teacher in the high schools, an ESL instructor, a college professor, a visiting lecturer, a guest professor on the international circuit, and a university writer-in-residence.  The scenario never changed.

Here I am especially concerned with university education.  Wherever we may decide to lay the blame for the disaster of abysmal academic achievement – helicopter parents, substandard public school teachers, the self-esteem movement, a culture of entitlement – the dilemma is compounded by the drumming indoctrination of the political left upon the untutored minds of an increasingly lost generation.  As Jack Kerwick correctly states, “[most of] today’s academics, far from being deep, curious thinkers, are in reality joint-members of a thought-collective.”

The current syllabus in the arts, humanities, and social sciences is dedicated not to a consideration of the Western library, traditional subjects, and “the best that has been thought and said,” to quote Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, but to the grand social struggles that claim the allegiance of radical ideologues who have come to dominate the classroom.  Rigor, of course, is anathema to them.  Their mandate is not to “educate” in the traditional sense of the term, but to conscript and train an army of immature grievance-mongers (snowflakes), shock troops (Antifa), and future leaders of the social Comintern.  They resemble the “reformers” whom the great Greek poet Constantine Cavafy depicts in a wry little poem, “In a Famous Greek Colony, 200 B.C.” (translation mine, some lines conflated):

Whatever the hindrance and the difficulty

these Reformers immediately suggest radical reforms,

demanding that they be implemented without delay.

And when, finally, they finish their work

it will be a miracle if anything survives at all.

As Janice Fiamengo of the University of Ottawa explains in an article for PJ Media, traditional course content is often replaced by non-academic material dealing with race, class, and gender, “specifically a devotion to ‘social justice’ that masquerades as critical analysis[.] … Many professors devote themselves less to teaching their particular disciplines than to decrying the presumed crimes of the United States, sympathizing with Islamic terrorists and other violent dissidents, calling for the overthrow of the capitalist world order, and condoning plans for the destruction of Israel.”  They teach students to sympathize with the “victims” of the day in the noble cause of social equity and to feel “appropriately empowered in grievance or guilty by association.”  And, of course, to conform to their instructor’s causes, prejudices, and partisanship.

Students have also been afflicted with the sanctimonious foolishness of presentism, in which current social and cultural fads, beliefs, and ideologies are superimposed upon the past.  The actions of our predecessors are judged in the light of our own dogmatic assumptions, as if these were perennial – the end point of history – and not merely transitory.  Thus, Shakespeare is regarded as a straight white male patriarch asserting his cultural authority, to be replaced in portrait and curriculum by black radical lesbian Audre Lorde, by any criterion surely one of the worst poets ever to put pen to paper.

To take an example closer to my home, a student-writer denounces Susanna Moodie’s 1852 Roughing It in the Bush for the crime of “othering” – that is, for having “unduly corrupted reader’s [sic] perceptions” of Ontario’s indigenous tribes in the 1830s as “other” rather than equal or superior, as unlettered hunters and gatherers rather than victims of hegemonic white settler oppression.  In the same way, Confederation poet Duncan Campbell Scott, who worked in the federal Department of Indian Affairs and lobbied for the assimilation of the native populations into the social mainstream in order to improve their social and economic prospects, is bitterly condemned as a white supremacist, a racist and an enemy of “social justice.”

To believe that cultures without writing or the wheel or antibiotics or technology or science are equal or superior to a culture that gave us the Magna Carta; developed cures for smallpox and polio; discovered electricity; put a man on the moon; invented the computer; and produced a Homer, Dante, Dostoevsky, Bach, Michelangelo, Newton, and Einstein is, not to put too fine a point on it, the very depths of fatuous imbecility.  But this is the agenda of the academic left: to create a dumbed down, alliterate and illiterate, and politically indoctrinated generation, which had already arrived at the ivory gates incapacitated for disciplined study, intellectual rigor, and scholarly accomplishment.

I suspect that the decline wrought by a deficient home life, substandard public school teachers, and the lamentable denizens of the university thought-collective – expressions of a rapidly plummeting culture – has gone too far to be reversed and must be allowed to complete its journey into rubble and scree.  Only then may some degree of restitution and rebuilding become possible and the concept of academic rigor return to its rightful place in the cognitive milieu.



Source link

Why I Quit Teaching


Some years back, I decided I had to quit the teaching profession to which I had dedicated half my life.  The modern academy, I felt, was so far gone that restoration was no longer possible.  Indeed, I now believe that complete collapse is the only hope for the future, but as Woody Allen said about death, I’d rather not be there when it happens.

Three reasons determined my course of action.  For one thing, administration had come to deal less with academic issues and more with rules of conduct and punitive codes of behavior, as if it were a policing body rather than an arm of the teaching profession.  Woe betide the (male) student accused of sexual assault or misconduct; the administration will convene an extra-judicial tribunal to punish or expel the accused, often with a low burden of proof.  It will find ways to shut down conservative speakers.  It will browbeat faculty and students to attend sensitivity training sessions on matters of race and gender.  It will strike task forces to deal with imaginary issues like campus rape culture and propose draconian measures to contain a raging fantasy.  The administration is now beset by two basic compulsions: to expand its reach at the expense of the academic community and to ensure compliance with the puritanical norms of the day.  I thought it prudent to take early retirement rather than wait for the guillotine to descend.

For another, colleagues were increasingly buying into the politically correct mantras circulating in the cultural climate.  The dubious axioms of “social justice” and equality of outcome, the postmodern campaign against the Western tradition of learning, and the Marxist critique of capitalism now superseded the original purpose of the university to seek out truth, to pursue the impartial study of historical events and movements, and to remain faithful to the rigors of disciplined scholarship.  Most of my colleagues were rote members of the left-liberal orthodoxy: pro-Islam, pro-unfettered immigration, pro-abortion, pro-feminist, anti-conservative, anti-Zionist, and anti-white.  Departmental committees were now basing their hiring protocols not on demonstrated merit, but on minority and gender identities, leading to marked pedagogical decline.  Professional hypocrisy could be glaring.  Case in point: The most recent hire speaking at a department meeting was a white woman advocating for more brown and black faces on staff – though, as a recent hire, she had never thought of stepping aside in favor of minority candidates vying for her position.  In any event, faculties were and are progressively defined by firebrands on the one hand and soyboys on the other – partisans rather than pedagogues, plaster saints all.  I found I could no longer respect the majority of people I had to work with.

But the primary incentive for flight had to do with the caliber of students I was required to instruct.  The quality of what we called the student “clientele” had deteriorated so dramatically over the years that the classroom struck me as a barn full of ruminants and the curriculum as a stack of winter ensilage.  I knew I could not teach James Joyce’s Ulysses or Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain since they were plainly beyond the capacity of our catechumens – mind you, all old enough to vote and be drafted.  The level of interest in and attention to the subjects was about as flat as a fallen arch.  The ability to write a coherent English sentence was practically nonexistent; ordinary grammar was a traumatic ordeal.  In fact, many native English-speakers could not produce a lucid verbal analysis of a text, let alone carry on an intelligible conversation, and some were even unable to properly pronounce common English words.  I could not help thinking of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in which the children of the planet are all translated into some otherworldly dimension.  I titled one of my books about our educational debacle The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods, based on an initially mysterious phrase in a student’s essay by which, as I discovered after long consultation, he meant to say “the total epidemic of psychopaths.”  (This is a true story.)

Of course, many of my former colleagues insisted that their students were “just great,” that they constituted a “savvy generation,” that they were “a privilege to teach.”  The degree of self-delusion is off the charts, though I suspect that one motive for such professional vagrancy is the half-conscious awareness of a guilty complicity in the advancement of decadence.  The desire to vindicate their roles as teachers and to justify obscenely fat salaries takes precedence over simple honesty.

The problem is chiefly in the humanities and social sciences – English literature, cultural studies, gender programs, sociology, communications – where it must be frankly admitted that very few of the students enrolled have the intellectual equipment to meet traditional standards of achievement and performance.  These faculties have become a holding pen for incompetents, now known as “snowflakes.”  For a variety of reasons – defective early schooling, poor parenting, widespread permissiveness – these students are in desperate need of “safe spaces,” where they can hide from the real world and shirk the demands of mental maturity.  They are taught not to think independently, evaluate competing doctrines, or master the tools of cognitive proficiency, but to feel good about themselves.  Self-esteem subs for self-improvement.  Moreover, they are materia prima for anti-Western indoctrination by their politicized professors, mentors, and departments.

To put it bluntly, the administration is venal and unscrupulous.  Faculty is compromised and reprobate.  The student body is a haven for ineptitude.  Regrettably, the exceptions – for they do exist – cannot redress the balance.  What is perhaps most troubling is that the more reputable faculties and disciplines – math, physics, engineering, astronomy, medicine, law – are gradually but inexorably being eroded by the “social justice” meme and subject to extraneous cultural forces that are political in nature.  Even here, gender and race rather than scholarly accomplishment and talent are starting to predominate in hiring protocols.  These departments are slowly coming to be governed not by the principles of classical propriety, but by agendas alien to their mandates – agendas whose function is to promote the collectivity over the individual; so-called “human rights” over human excellence; and equality, however unearned, over freedom, however precious.  As a result, even among the purer disciplines, meritocracy will surrender to mediocrity.

For myself, those days are over.  I’m committed to writing in the study rather than teaching in the classroom.  The pressures that impinge are my own, and I don’t have to deal with the incompetent and corrupt, at the cost of my integrity, such as it is, and of my well-being.  True, writing may turn out to be as ineffective as teaching.  But one thing is for sure.  I can no longer be part of the decrepit circus that now passes for established education. 

Some years back, I decided I had to quit the teaching profession to which I had dedicated half my life.  The modern academy, I felt, was so far gone that restoration was no longer possible.  Indeed, I now believe that complete collapse is the only hope for the future, but as Woody Allen said about death, I’d rather not be there when it happens.

Three reasons determined my course of action.  For one thing, administration had come to deal less with academic issues and more with rules of conduct and punitive codes of behavior, as if it were a policing body rather than an arm of the teaching profession.  Woe betide the (male) student accused of sexual assault or misconduct; the administration will convene an extra-judicial tribunal to punish or expel the accused, often with a low burden of proof.  It will find ways to shut down conservative speakers.  It will browbeat faculty and students to attend sensitivity training sessions on matters of race and gender.  It will strike task forces to deal with imaginary issues like campus rape culture and propose draconian measures to contain a raging fantasy.  The administration is now beset by two basic compulsions: to expand its reach at the expense of the academic community and to ensure compliance with the puritanical norms of the day.  I thought it prudent to take early retirement rather than wait for the guillotine to descend.

For another, colleagues were increasingly buying into the politically correct mantras circulating in the cultural climate.  The dubious axioms of “social justice” and equality of outcome, the postmodern campaign against the Western tradition of learning, and the Marxist critique of capitalism now superseded the original purpose of the university to seek out truth, to pursue the impartial study of historical events and movements, and to remain faithful to the rigors of disciplined scholarship.  Most of my colleagues were rote members of the left-liberal orthodoxy: pro-Islam, pro-unfettered immigration, pro-abortion, pro-feminist, anti-conservative, anti-Zionist, and anti-white.  Departmental committees were now basing their hiring protocols not on demonstrated merit, but on minority and gender identities, leading to marked pedagogical decline.  Professional hypocrisy could be glaring.  Case in point: The most recent hire speaking at a department meeting was a white woman advocating for more brown and black faces on staff – though, as a recent hire, she had never thought of stepping aside in favor of minority candidates vying for her position.  In any event, faculties were and are progressively defined by firebrands on the one hand and soyboys on the other – partisans rather than pedagogues, plaster saints all.  I found I could no longer respect the majority of people I had to work with.

But the primary incentive for flight had to do with the caliber of students I was required to instruct.  The quality of what we called the student “clientele” had deteriorated so dramatically over the years that the classroom struck me as a barn full of ruminants and the curriculum as a stack of winter ensilage.  I knew I could not teach James Joyce’s Ulysses or Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain since they were plainly beyond the capacity of our catechumens – mind you, all old enough to vote and be drafted.  The level of interest in and attention to the subjects was about as flat as a fallen arch.  The ability to write a coherent English sentence was practically nonexistent; ordinary grammar was a traumatic ordeal.  In fact, many native English-speakers could not produce a lucid verbal analysis of a text, let alone carry on an intelligible conversation, and some were even unable to properly pronounce common English words.  I could not help thinking of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in which the children of the planet are all translated into some otherworldly dimension.  I titled one of my books about our educational debacle The Turtle Hypodermic of Sickenpods, based on an initially mysterious phrase in a student’s essay by which, as I discovered after long consultation, he meant to say “the total epidemic of psychopaths.”  (This is a true story.)

Of course, many of my former colleagues insisted that their students were “just great,” that they constituted a “savvy generation,” that they were “a privilege to teach.”  The degree of self-delusion is off the charts, though I suspect that one motive for such professional vagrancy is the half-conscious awareness of a guilty complicity in the advancement of decadence.  The desire to vindicate their roles as teachers and to justify obscenely fat salaries takes precedence over simple honesty.

The problem is chiefly in the humanities and social sciences – English literature, cultural studies, gender programs, sociology, communications – where it must be frankly admitted that very few of the students enrolled have the intellectual equipment to meet traditional standards of achievement and performance.  These faculties have become a holding pen for incompetents, now known as “snowflakes.”  For a variety of reasons – defective early schooling, poor parenting, widespread permissiveness – these students are in desperate need of “safe spaces,” where they can hide from the real world and shirk the demands of mental maturity.  They are taught not to think independently, evaluate competing doctrines, or master the tools of cognitive proficiency, but to feel good about themselves.  Self-esteem subs for self-improvement.  Moreover, they are materia prima for anti-Western indoctrination by their politicized professors, mentors, and departments.

To put it bluntly, the administration is venal and unscrupulous.  Faculty is compromised and reprobate.  The student body is a haven for ineptitude.  Regrettably, the exceptions – for they do exist – cannot redress the balance.  What is perhaps most troubling is that the more reputable faculties and disciplines – math, physics, engineering, astronomy, medicine, law – are gradually but inexorably being eroded by the “social justice” meme and subject to extraneous cultural forces that are political in nature.  Even here, gender and race rather than scholarly accomplishment and talent are starting to predominate in hiring protocols.  These departments are slowly coming to be governed not by the principles of classical propriety, but by agendas alien to their mandates – agendas whose function is to promote the collectivity over the individual; so-called “human rights” over human excellence; and equality, however unearned, over freedom, however precious.  As a result, even among the purer disciplines, meritocracy will surrender to mediocrity.

For myself, those days are over.  I’m committed to writing in the study rather than teaching in the classroom.  The pressures that impinge are my own, and I don’t have to deal with the incompetent and corrupt, at the cost of my integrity, such as it is, and of my well-being.  True, writing may turn out to be as ineffective as teaching.  But one thing is for sure.  I can no longer be part of the decrepit circus that now passes for established education. 



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