Category Archives: Culture

Out of the mouths of babes. . . Touching stories of Somali integration

In Lewiston, Me., of all places, the concept of free-market economics is illustrated nicely:  “Many Somalis originally came as refugees to larger cities, Atlanta in particular, but then moved to Maine after hearing that it had a wider array of subsidized housing available and also was easier to get on the welfare rolls.”

From the same article:  “‘People were thinking, to be a police officer, you have to be born in the U.S. … you have to be white,’ Libah [a recent Somali arrival] told the news agency. ‘They never thought they could be a police officer.'”

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Non sequitur of the day: lack of black Republicans elected in swing districts

Republican political junkies know that most blacks elected to the House of Representatives in majority-white or and/or swing districts are Republicans, e.g., Gary Franks (Conn.), J.C. Watts (Okla.), Allen West (Fla.), and, most recently, Mia Love (Utah).  Nearly all black Democrats come from heavily black, heavily Democratic districts.  Ann Coulter and the National Journal have discussed this recently.

This history doesn’t prevent a Washington Post article, “Texan Will Hurd defies the odds for House Republicans. Can he last?” from reverting to the usual liberal trope:  “Moreover, House Republicans have never been able to retain a black lawmaker in a true swing district for more than a couple terms, suggesting broad appeal across ideological and racial lines.”

Besides being a sloppily-formed sentence, as well as a tautology—either party would have trouble retaining a member of any race long-term in a “true swing district”—this passage’s principal implication that it is the Republicans, and not the Democrats, who don’t elect blacks from swing districts is false.

Despite the fact that black Democrats outnumber black Republicans in Congress considerably, it isn’t the case that Democrats come from swing districts.  In the current Congress, there are 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus—42 Democrats and Rep. Love.  Of these 43 Representatives, 42 c0me from districts that were rated as “safe Democrat” or “safe Republican” by a consensus of political forecasters in the 2014 elections, and one comes from a district that was not unanimously rated “safe.”  We’ll give you one guess as to the identity of the outlier.

(Rep. Hurd, the subject of the article, also comes from a swing district—which was in fact rated “Lean Democratic” by all of the forecasters cited in the linked article.)

True, the Republicans have not yet been able to “retain [Love and Hurd] for more than a couple terms”—and it’s not surprising that most of their minority members of Congress representing majority-white and/or swing districts become the top targets for defeat by Democrats and the media—but that doesn’t make the Post‘s false implications anything other than lazy and biased.

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Why does the mainstream media refer to “the Prophet Muhammud”?

Virtually every mention in the Western mainstream media of the seventh-century historical figure Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, who founded Islam toward the end of his life and whom the religion regards as the final prophet, refers to him as “Prophet Muhammad” or “the Prophet Muhammad,” complete with capital “P.”  (The name Muhammad is sometimes spelled differently due to transliteration from the Arabic; even the New York Times apparently doesn’t have a consistent spelling in its style guide.)

The uncritical assignment of the title “the Prophet” seems rather normative given the media’s neutrality on, or disdain for, religious belief.  They refer to Cardinal and Pope, but those are official titles granted by a recognized sovereign state, akin to Duke or King.

Use of “the Prophet” seems more analogous to “Jesus the Christ” (which means something like “Jesus the messiah”), which would also editorially confer a religious imprimatur to a historical figure—which the mainstream media’s news pages rarely, if ever, do when it comes to Jesus.  Mainstream newspapers rightfully discuss Jesus as a historical figure, of course in the context of his place in religion, but one doesn’t find many examples of a reporter assenting to the views of the faithful through his use of default language.

One would think that the mainstream media, committed to objectivity, would use language like “the Muslim historical figure Muhammad” or “Muhammad, the founder of Islam” or “Muhammad, whom Muslims regard as the final prophet.”  Do the editors of the New York Times think that prophets exist?

P.S.  In the Muslim world, the press always refers to him as “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)” and “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)” or “the Prophet (pbuh)” in subsequent references.  How long before the Western press feels compelled to adopt this usage as well?

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UPDATE: NCAA’s treatment of Penn State was a sham

Joe Nocera of the New York Times reports that Penn State knew that it didn’t have any jurisdiction to penalize Penn State’s football program as a whole for the horrific private actions of former coach Jerry Sandusky.

We lamented the punishment at the time as an affront to the “rule of law,” so to speak, and unfair to the team.  Naturally, liberals in the media (including Nocera, as he decently admits in the current column) enjoyed lambasting the university’s “football culture” that supposedly contributed to the abuse.

It is fair to criticize the Penn State administration for enabling Sandusky, but it does not follow that the NCAA should punish the players on the field.  It’s a bit too late for the students, players, and fans, but at least we can hope that the NCAA applies more rational oversight in the future.

 

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What’s the real story behind the Bruce Levenson revelation?

Another scalp for the faux-outrage crowd.  We see nothing wrong with the e-mail that Atlanta Hawks’ owner Bruce Levenson sent to his colleagues:  he was calling for more diversity in the cheerleading team and arena music selection; citing the need to attract more affluent whites to the season ticket ranks; advancing a theory that perhaps some presumably racist white people are afraid to come to games and that the team should address their perception, while being careful to add that he didn’t personally share that perception (this second clause in his statement scurrilously left out of the Washington Post‘s coverage); and benchmarking other teams’ fan bases and marketing approaches.  Seems like normal business.

Cue the moronic template statement from the NBA commissioner:  “As Mr. Levenson acknowledged, the views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association.”  This mechanical pablum with utterly no context could have been issued at any time, in any of these phony “scandals.”  If one didn’t know better, one would doubt its sincerity.

The interesting question is how the information came out.  He sent the e-mail in August 2012 and reportedly “voluntarily reported the email to the NBA” in July 2014, triggering an “independent investigation” by the league.  One wonders the circumstances of this reporting.  Why would Levenson report it?  Did he learn that some news was about to leak, and/or the NBA’s “investigation” was about to crucify him, prompting him to try to get out in front of it?  Presumably, during the Donald Sterling fracas, Silver put the other owners on notice that a witch-hunt was coming.  (Of course, the witch-hunt would be coming from the NBA itself, even though the commissioner is supposed to actually represent the owners not sell them out.)  Did Silver offer the owners some type of amnesty, in asking them to get anything potentially damaging out there, and then renege?

(As hackneyed as it is, we can play the usual thought experiment and switch the races in Levenson’s message, and realize that, had he said that the team needs to add more black-oriented music and black cheerleaders, attract more upscale blacks, and otherwise address blacks’ perceptions of the brand to make the environment more comfortable for them, he’d probably receive an award for promoting racial harmony.)

These are all troubling questions, coming soon, no doubt, to your employer too.

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Who are more sympathetic perpetrators: Muslim men abusing young girls, or Catholic priests abusing young boys?

Walter Russell Mead points out the New York Times‘s bias, which reinforces the puzzlement we pondered yesterday.  When it’s homosexual priests abusing young boys, it’s an indictment of religion.  When it’s Muslim men abusing girls, well, that’s rape, and if you even point out the religious aspect, you’re a bigot.

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Adrift trying to navigate the false equivalencies and hierarchy of victimhood

Attractive Tacoma teacher Meredith Powell, age 24, pled guilty to having sex with a couple of male students, ages 15-16.  Everyone has played their dutiful part in the aftermath:  the mainstream media reported on the “rape”; commenters everywhere decried the “double standard,” as a male teacher certainly would (and has) received much harsher punishment for a similar offense; and the 99% that comprise of the rest of us snickered, with some subset of that group envious that they never had teachers like that in high school.

Perhaps, genders aside, one could argue that the teacher abused her power position, but, judging by the sexts the fornicators sent each other, it appears that it was the alpha-men-in-training who had the psychological power over their lonely paramour.

Some on the right have also toed the “double standard” line, including a disappointingly tame Greg Gutfeld.  Polite conservative society seems unable to point out the illogic in the false equivalency between a woman “perpetrator” and a man in such circumstances.  Our polity moves on awaiting the next spectacle.

Where’s the outrage at the outrage?  Channeling Whoopi Goldberg and Todd Akin, this was not rape in any rational sense.  This was not forcible rape.  This was not coercive or even manipulative rape.  This was not date rape because-I-was-drunk-no-I-mean-drugged-actually-I-changed-my-mind-the-next-morning.  The “victims” were postpubescent males who gladly consented and certainly high-fived all their friends afterward.  As would any teenager after bonking a 24-year-old teacher who looks like that.

Meanwhile, following the release on the internet of private naked pictures of 100 starlets (and one dude) allegedly stolen from the iCloud, Time myopically asks, “Where Are All the Hacked Pics of Men?”  The article doesn’t really attempt to answer, which is more indicative of the author’s worldview than would be any attempt to analyze this profound question.  It’s self-evident sexism, of course—make that rape culture.  And, by the way, woman have a hard time working in technology.   And female video-game developers are routinely harassed.  Etc.

The Time author’s title is a rhetorical question, but not for the reason that most people assume.  Sure, one explanation is that there is little demand for such content.  Still, in the era of abundant internet niches to fulfill every imaginable prurient interest (and many that we can’t imagine), we can assume that there is someone out there purveying photos of naked famous men, presumably for the homosexual audience (Google “male celebrities naked pictures” and you’ll find plenty of on-point hits).  The main constraint is on the supply side:  because the “selfie” is largely a feminine phenomenon.  Facebook, Instagram, the “selfie stick,” the dual-camera iPhone, and the other culture-rotting diversions of our time exist because of female narcissism.  You won’t find many men taking pictures of their naked bodies in the bathroom mirror, much less feeling compelled to upload them to the internet.

None of this excuses the hackers’ invasion of privacy, but it is telling that Ricky Gervais was met with nearly universal opprobrium for repeating the obvious advice that we have all received at some point:  don’t publish something that you wouldn’t want to see broadcast across the internet.  Seasoned male pick-up artists (as well as anyone with any common sense) know that when you send an illicit pic to a chick, you make sure that it doesn’t contain any personally identifiable body parts.  But today’s women can’t seem to help themselves.

So, on the one hand, our intellectual elites tell us, there is no biological basis to our quaint notions of gender, so it would follow that there should be no difference between how society reacts to Meredith Powell versus a man similarly situated, and, by the same token, that we should be dumbfounded and outraged (dumraged?) why hackers sought out a nude Jennifer Lawrence but not a nude Joey Lawrence.  (OK, a bad example perhaps.)

On the other hand, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a war on women, not to mention a “deadly epidemic of violence against women.”  In fact, society cares more about endangered ex-pets than about battered women.  So we should come down hard on the patriarchy.  It’s unclear where violence against men is deemed to fall in this hierarchy of worry:  no one seems to care about prison rape, because, well, it’s men who are victimized, plus it’s part of the scourge of American exceptionalism and hence concern about it would place one on the wrong side of the social-justice-enlightenment see-saw.

Since the most noble status one can have in our society is that of victim, and the most righteous pursuit of our intelligentsia is to identify those hapless martyrs and their wrongdoers, it is becoming increasingly complicated to figure out which causes we are supposed to prioritize.  Approaching this puzzle with a basic understanding of the differences between males and females would be a good place to start, but, alas, that ship has sailed—when it suits the narrative.

It gets even harder to decipher the zeitgeist when you add sexual orientation as a dimension.  Civilized society (not to include the authorities in Rotherham) seems to be reacting with appropriate horror at abuse perpetrated by Muslims against young girls in England, as well as that against young boys by Catholic priests worldwide—though the politically-correct media has reduced the sociological sting of the latter crisis by almost universally obscuring its homosexual nature.  One suspects that the secular-progressives’ interest in the case is due mostly to their hatred of religion and their love of lawsuits (with the tort bar chomping at the legs of the table to get its supper).  It becomes complicated trying to patch together our perturbation across so many overlapping grievance groups and boogeymen.

We’ve been trying to come up with a formula to predict the level of contemporary outrage at sexually-based offenses controlling for the gender and sexual orientation of the putative victims and those of the perpetrators.  It’s only getting harder as the number of permutations grows exponentially with all of these new sexual identities.  We give up.

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