Back in September of 1970 I found myself in the charming ancient city of Damascus. The natives were friendly and helpful, especially as I was suffering from food poisoning thanks to a Lebanese kebab I”d eaten two days previously. My stay in the city was interrupted by the sudden death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian strongman who had been twice defeated by the Israelis yet remained a great hero to the Egyptian public. The Syrians provided a plane for the press corps and flew the lot of us to Cairo for the funeral. When I approached the press attachÃ© in the airport and thanked him for the gesture, I remember the bittersweet smile he gave and his words: “Try and remember that not all of us Syrians are what Israel says we are.”
Forty-two years later, Syria continues to be the whipping boy of the unholy triple alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but it’s not so strange when you think of it. All three are experts in oppression, religious zealotry, and paying zillions to Washington lobbies. Israel has captured Palestinian lands through force of (American) arms and continues to oppress millions of Palestinians under its occupation. The various bombardments of Gaza have killed thousands of innocents, yet the great American comedian Elie Wiesel recently asked Obama, “How is it that Assad is still in power?”
Saudi Arabia, a country whose human-rights record makes Syria look like Switzerland, is the godfather of international terror in exchange for peace at home. The Saudis have funded terror from the start, but because of their powerful DC connections and their ability to bribe everyone involved, Uncle Sam and his poodle the EU are turning a blind eye as Saudi-financed jihadis and al-Qaeda fighters pour into Syria.
The third great democrat/humanist leading the propaganda fight against Syria is Al Thani, the Qatari thief whose family has lorded over the tiny Gulf strip since the early 19th century. Qatar recently bribed FIFA to assign the 2022 World Cup to that crappy little pseudo-country. Al Thani and his gang of thieves have now set their hooded eyes on bigger projects such as establishing a Sunni corridor that isolates Iran and Iraq.
While la Clinton rails against Russia for arming the Syrian regime, she forgets that Uncle Sam arms the Saudis, the Israelis, the Qataris, and now even the Libyans. The Arab Spring is a far more complex event than credulous Western journalists imagine. It is not about the weak rising against the strong. It’s about a transfer of power to rival clans and religious groups. The Saudis want Assad out because he’s a man who, like his father before him, kept Sunni Islamists at bay.
When libertarians, paleocons, neocons, and Republicans are confronted with a shrieking liberal they usually shoo it away. That’s easy if you don”t live in New York City, Berkeley, LA, or Madison, but those of us mired here in the jungles of hysteria have to come up with other solutions.
It takes a certain type of masochist to live this Sisyphean lifestyle. We can”t bitch about Obama’s ridiculous spending because Bill Maher told them Obama has spent less than any other president. We can”t rail against Fast and Furious because Chris Hayes told them Obama is pro-gun. Whenever you criticize the president, their trained response is that you can”t handle his blackness”oy vey!
I”ve found the only way to calm this yelping beast is to speak to it in its own language.
Let your liberal antagonist bask in their decision to elect Obama. Tell them Obama is cool and smart and articulate. Agree that it is much less embarrassing to hear Obama speak than it was to hear George Jr.’s malapropisms. Once they feel calm and safe, say something soothing like, “Fascism is bad.” Then say how surprised you were when you looked up the word on Wikipedia and discovered it wasn”t a dictatorship where the state runs the entire economy. In fascist economies, the government chooses CEOs to run various monopolies and then leaves them to their own devices. Wait, that sounds like Obama choosing GE to run the Council of Jobs and Competitiveness and Monsanto‘s ex-attorney to run the FDA. The liberal will find this as perplexing as you do. This is where both of you shrug and then make some joke about how inaccurate Wikipedia can be.
Liberals hate big business and the white men who run it because the whole thing reminds them of their father. Dad was disappointed in them for spending tens of thousands of his dollars at NYU taking Japanese Animation & New Media. Therefore, massage their own daddy complexes by pretending to hate the rich white male father figure as much as they do. As Fran Lebowitz pointed out, “No one earns $100 million. You steal $100 million.” Agree with Fran. Say, “These guys aren”t entrepreneurs. They”re slave drivers.” Then you can add, “That’s the saddest part about illegal immigration. It only benefits rich whites in both countries. Poor Mexicans on both sides of the border are worse off for it, and black workers in California are the first ones to lose jobs to illegal”sorry”undocumented workers.” Don”t say, “Multiculturalism is a weakness,” because the liberal hears, “Having a variety of restaurants scares me because I”m racist.” Instead say, “High schools in California have metal detectors and the tension between blacks and Hispanics is getting so bad, it’s bordering on a race war. Why? So rich whites can “steal” another $100 million.”
Once you get into this Trojan Horse method of placating the left, you get to say whatever you want. “I love gays. They”re wonderful. This is why I find it so hurtful when people keep describing the Catholic Church as a place where boys get raped. They know full well it’s not toddlers getting molested but adolescent boys. It’s very clear the ones doing the touching are frustrated homosexuals at war with their own libidos. Catholic-bashing is tantamount to fag-bashing, and we need to have an open discussion about the inner struggle that gays face.”
“Speaking of rape, the statistics we have are probably a fraction of the actual instances of sexual assault.” Calm the militant feminist by agreeing on the social stigma of being attacked and how shame has prevented probably millions of rape victims from speaking. “And it’s always men, never women,” you quietly add while shaking your head. Hopefully, around this time, she”ll say, “Yeah, it’s not like men get raped.” This part gets tricky because it’s such a jump, the liberal brain can get whiplash. Then mumble to yourself, “What about jail?” Look it up on your phone and let your phone take the blame for saying that when you include prison, men get raped far more often than women do.
ONBOARD S/Y BUSHIDO OFF CORSICA—For the last three days I’ve been watching people 110 years old prancing around bareheaded under a sun so fierce that no Taliban warrior would emerge from under his camel to face it. I tried to speak to the captain of one of these mega-ships, but he mistook me for a reporter and looked nervous until I pointed toward Bushido and told him I was the owner. He remained suspicious, as I had no bling on me and my clothes were not Dolce & Gabbana. He told me that these “ships” are so perfect that they no longer pitch or roll in heavy seas, and the folk onboard can dance to their heart’s delight even if there is a storm raging that’s a 10 on the Beaufort scale. The captain is obviously a loyal employee because to my gimlet eye, these tubs look like death traps if they ever roll over.
“Travel is like adultery: one is always tempted to be unfaithful to one’s own country,” wrote the elegant American academic Anatole Broyard. He added, “To have imagination is inevitably to be dissatisfied with where you live.” Mind you, travel nowadays does not comprise adultery because people never arrive at any new place. Those really big white tourist ships that look like horizontal apartment houses provide all the comforts of home to leisure-suited, blue-rinsed folk with fluorescent sunglasses that sometimes even venture out of the ships to shop. They are nice folk: Germans, Americans, Brits, Japanese, and South Americans. They have liver spots, warts, potbellies, varicose veins, bad dye jobs, and they creak when they walk. Many have walking sticks. Some even jog in place. These mega-ships disgorge their cargo at times when only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, yet very few of those brave souls ever collapse from sunstroke.
I sailed from the crowded Côte d’Azur and its polluted waters through the Gulf de Lyon to Corsica, rolling as we’ve never rolled before. Commodore Hoare had ordered all boats to Porto-Vecchio for the Pugs Club’s annual regatta, although defending champion Bob Miller could not compete due to a bad back. Then the commodore’s boat caught an electrical fire on her way from Spain, and suddenly it looked as if Bushido would finally emerge a winner. But it’s all up in the air, literally. Tiger Lily, Roger Taylor’s swift schooner, is leading me on the upwind leg by her bowsprit as I write, but if I can ever finish this damn column I will relieve the commodore and start a tacking duel that will confuse and discombobulate the Queen drummer and lead me to my first victory in five tries.
About two months ago I mentioned my disappointment that Raleigh, NC lacked Southern culture, only to be informed in the comment section that true sweet-tea-drinking Southerners don”t even consider the city to be part of the South. The longer I stay in this godforsaken place the better I understand why real Southerners share the sentiment.
Last week I couldn”t take a single step without hearing a television pundit cry about rampant racism in North Carolina. One would almost assume the Black Panthers and Aryan Brotherhood were fighting in the streets immediately outside the UNC campus. Turns out the only thing that happened is that businessman Todd Chriscoe didn”t let a black guy eat at his sports bar, a phenomenon I refer to as “private property, get over it.”
The guy who was kicked out of the bar is Jonathan Wall, a 21-year-old student with plans to attend graduate school next fall at Harvard University, the esteemed institution that hosts an “Understanding Obama“ reading group. Among Wall’s other accomplishments is a stint at the NAACP‘s Atlanta branch.
Wall insisted after sparking the initial stir, “I”m not trying to cause trouble….But I can”t just sit back.” He continued not trying to cause trouble by giving numerous interviews to popular news outlets and plastering his story all over the Internet. Then came a press conference followed with other people claiming to have been kicked out of the bar for racial reasons. One man described his experience as “not physical,” but he somehow knew the owner was racist due to “the way they treated me.” Another man spoke out about how the establishment treats blacks like “second-hand patrons” even though “it’s subtle.”
If I were to hear these nonspecific explanations alone, I”d say the discomfort they felt had more to do with race-centric paranoia than anything else, but the evidence piling up suggests that the bar owner really doesn”t like black people. Local news station WRAL did one of their hyperbolic investigations eleven years ago at another one of his businesses which frequently turned away black couples and allowed white ones to enter.
Let’s assume that Chriscoe openly discriminates on a racial basis.
Raleigh’s residents seem perplexed about how someone can voluntarily discriminate and still maintain a successful business.
If Wall’s account is true, Chriscoe does sound like a jackass. Wall says that he was forced into a headlock as he waited for friends so they could leave together, which would be a ridiculous way for a bar owner to act (with or without racist intentions). Then again, these stories are verified by the Internet only, and it will be interesting to see whether Chriscoe releases security footage from the night in question.
Yet why is no one critiquing comments made by Wall’s supporters? A quick peek at Wall’s Facebook page and you”ll see a smug commenter who wrote, “[It’s] good I wasn”t with you that night or I would”ve gotten locked up for showing them the nigga they wanted to see….” Wall joyously “liked“ the comment.
I am just recovering from a splendid weekend in Seattle, a conference organized by my good friend Guy Wolf, editor of an alternative-right blog.
(You never know how people will react to having their names publicized in this context. To be on the very safe side, I have substituted pseudonyms of my own devising for all the actual persons at the conference, except for one I have identified by her blog.)
So there we were at a hotel in Seattle, thirty-odd adherents of the politically incorrect, race-realist, diversity-skeptical, alternative right: some academics, some blog proprietors, and some interested citizens.
It was a very warming and encouraging experience. I tend to think of the alternative right as an impotent splinter group, like those of the Trotskyites I used to hang out with in my London college days. Some individual Trots ended up in senior political positions, but Britain never had a Trotskyist government.
The Seattle crowd’s vigor, conviction, and sheer intelligence had me rethinking that. There were no dopey Trot-type ideologues here chewing over arcane points of political philosophy or the minutiae of old Politburo debates. (I mean the alternative-right equivalents thereof, which would be…oh, I don’t know: what Giovanni Gentile said to vex Benedetto Croce in 1925, perhaps.) These were thoughtful, very smart people, but they were practical-minded, by no means pettily ideological, and well up to date on US political developments. I came away thinking that the alternative right is a real thing, with real prospects for broader influence.
The presentations were very good. One of the academics, anthropologist Tom Clout, gave us a brilliant overview of current controversies about kinship recognition and its origins in natural selection, embellished with colorful anecdotes from his field work in Africa.
Another academic, who prefers complete, non-pseudonymous anonymity, brought us up to date on the latest researches in psychometry. S/he displayed complete mastery of the subject matter, firing right back at questions with comprehensive answers after no pause for thought at all. This always impresses the heck out of me. I like my lecturers to show the iceberg effect: to give me the impression that the matter in their presentation is the merest visible fraction of what they know.
Blogger Rob Przybykov broadened the scope with an excellent talk”I see he’s posted it on his blog”on parallels between obesity and addiction to pornography, with side trips into evolutionary biology, brain metabolism, and the “manosphere.”
A learned political scientist spoke on the uses and abuses of the term “fascism,” the subject of his next book.
Historian (mainly of science) Doug Fosnow called for the USA’s “red” counties to secede from the “blue” ones, forming a new federation. This was greeted with much skepticism by the audience, who noted that the “red” federation would get practically no seacoast. Did Doug really think such a secession was likely to happen? No, he admitted cheerfully, but anything would be better than the race war he does think is likely to happen, and it is intellectuals” duty to come up with less horrific possibilities.
And so we went on: informative and thought-provoking presentations, hearty debate in the Q&As afterwards, hotel food no worse than the average, and lively gossip around the dinner tables and bars.
I made the opening presentation myself, speaking on the history of, and prospects for, thinking about human biodiversity (HBD). Zack Duncan, who runs a prominent immigration-restrictionist website, said he would post my talk as an article if I could de-PowerPoint it down to ordinary text, which I have tried to do. (It’s harder than you”d think: There’s a mighty quantity of words in a 40-minute talk, way too many for a normal Web posting.)
When the Obama administration decided that it had no interest in preventing the movement of undocumented aliens from Mexico into the southwest United States, the State of Arizona decided to take matters into its own hands. Based on a novel theory of constitutional law, namely, that if a state is unhappy with the manner in which federal law is being enforced or not being enforced, it can step into the shoes of the feds and enforce federal law as it wishes the feds would, it enacted legislation to accomplish that.
The legislation created two conflicts that rose to the national stage. The first is whether any government may morally and legally interfere with freedom of association based on the birthplace of the person with whom one chooses to associate. The second is whether the states can enforce federal law in a manner different from that of the feds.
Regrettably, in addressing all of this earlier in the week, the Supreme Court overlooked the natural and fundamental freedom to associate. It is a natural right because it stems from the better nature of our humanity, and it is a fundamental right because it is protected from governmental interference by the Constitution itself. Freedom of association means that without force or fraud you may freely choose to be in the presence of whomever you please, and the government cannot force you to associate with someone with whom you have chosen not to associate, and the government cannot bar anyone with whom you wish to associate from associating with you.
Without even addressing the now-taken-for-granted federal curtailment of the right to associate with someone born in a foreign country and whose presence is inconsistent with arbitrary federal document requirements and quotas, the Supreme Court earlier this week struck down three of the four challenged parts of the Arizona statute, which attempted to supplant the federal regulation of freedom of association with its own version. It did so because the Constitution specifically gives to Congress the authority to regulate immigration, and Congress, by excluding all other law-writing bodies in the U.S. from enacting laws on immigration, has pre-empted the field.
The court specifically invalidated the heart and soul of this misguided Arizona law by ruling definitively that in the area of immigration, the states cannot stand in the shoes of the feds just because they disapprove of the manner in which the feds are or are not enforcing federal law. The remedy for one’s disapproval of the manner of federal law enforcement is to elect a different president or Congress; it is not to tinker with the Constitution.
Federal law cannot have a different meaning in different states, the court held. And just as the feds must respect state sovereignty in matters retained by the states under the Constitution (though they rarely do), so, too, the states must respect federal sovereignty in matters that the Constitution has unambiguously delegated to the feds.
One of the biggest changes of my lifetime has been the decline in the speed of social change. Today it’s easy to agree with Ecclesiastes that “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
Yet that was once heresy. In high school, we were assigned Alvin Toffler’s 1970 bestseller Future Shock about how the late 1960s” tumult was a harbinger of the ever accelerating waves of change that would soon be overwhelming us. It seemed convincing at the time (and Newt Gingrich may still be a true believer), yet it didn”t really happen.
Instead, mass society fragmented and thereby stabilized. My cousin, for example, remains a hippie, and he’s recently talked his mother into wanting to go to Burning Man. Today, nobody much cares: Burning Man seems less shocking than funny.
Yet when I was a small boy, virtually every male in America, except perhaps violin soloists, had short hair.
It’s difficult to make clear just how big a deal hair length was in the 1960s. When I was six in 1965, my family went to England. We were sitting around at Heathrow waiting for our flight back to the US when a young man with collar-length hair walked into the waiting room. “It’s a Beatle!” screamed a girl. The excited crowd surged toward John, Paul, George, or, possibly, Ringo. I dispatched my mother to get the Beatle’s autograph. She returned bearing the signature “Peter Noone,” the lead singer of Herman’s Hermits.
The point of this anecdote is that in 1965 so few males had hair covering two-thirds of their ears that transatlantic travelers assumed that anybody who did must be a rock star. (And we were right.)
I can pin down when rock fans started to let their hair grow. Buffalo Springfield’s remarkable single “For What It’s Worth” (”Stop, children, what’s that sound?”) is usually thought of as an early Vietnam War protest song, but it was actually inspired by the Sunset Strip curfew riots over the planned demolition of the Pandora’s Box nightclub. Even in November 1966, however, a mob of protesting Los Angeles rock fans looked clean-cut.
That must have been the last time they got their hair cut. In the summer of 1967, some visitors wanted to “go see the hippies,” so my parents drove us over Laurel Canyon to Sunset. The Strip was jammed with us tourists agog over the longhairs.
After a while, though, you got used to odd new social phenomena like this sweeping the world. In fact, soon everybody expected it. A decade after 1967’s Summer of Love, for instance, the media were all primed for punks to take over. After all, an entire ten years had gone by! (That was 35 years ago.) In 1979, everybody was told to dress in 2 Tone black-and-white clothes and listen to ska, but diminishing returns were visibly encroaching.
Yet where did hippies come from? Were they a totally novel development, as they were portrayed at the time?
In 1948, jazz crooner Nat King Cole was on Top of the Pops for eight straight weeks with the single “Nature Boy.” The song became a standard and was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Peggy Lee. (Much later, director Baz Luhrmann had a haggard Ewan McGregor type out the chorus at the end of his 2001 film Moulin Rouge.)
I”ve just had the worst time in my life rubbing shoulders”actually masts”with ghastly ex-Soviet Union gangsters, now called “oligarchs” by the gutter press and the New York Times/Washington Post Camorra. There are also towel-wearing Ay-rabs with obscene boats further polluting the French Riviera, but it’s the oligarchs playing Commodore Vanderbilt who make the fabled south of France stink of necrosis. Never have I seen such vile people: arrogant, ill-mannered, covered in bling, and surrounded by hookers, all showing off their horribly ugly superyachts. Once upon a time boats were built for beauty and elegance; now they”re built to show that mine is bigger than yours and that’s because I”ve stolen more money than you have. Look around you and weep, at least if you”re on a boat in the Mediterranean.
But let’s go back to the good old days for a moment. When my first wife left me for being too uxorious, I reacted as most Greeks would: I threatened to kill myself, although the thought never even crossed my mind. But my mother fell for it and soon my wishes came true with a telephone call from my father: “Your mother is worried about you, but I know you”re faking. Nevertheless, go out and buy yourself a boat.” That was 1968. My only regret after accepting my father’s generous offer was that I had not thought of threatening suicide before. Ever since the late fifties I had hitched rides on my father’s magnificent sailboat the Aries, or on other elegant sailers such as Gianni Agnelli’s Agneta, or a fellow Greek’s one and only three-masted schooner Creole. Now it was my turn.
After I acquired a 1939 Swedish cutter of rare lineage, beauty, and lines, my first wife hinted that perhaps we could get back together again. For once I acted smart. Who needs a wife when he has a boat? Or as my old man always said, “He who has a yacht has a different wife every night.” My first boat had a flush deck, was all mahogany and teak, and I thought of her being the Ava Gardner of sailing vessels: difficult and exotic, but with looks that drove other sailors wild. I renamed her Bushido after the Samurai warrior code.
“Bushi,” as my friends called her, lasted a good twenty years, then was sold off to some con man who turned her into a rental. That’s a bit like pimping out Ava”not the kind of thing a gent would do. After my father’s death in 1989, I inherited a triple-screw speedster of more than 100 feet (for you landlubbers, “triple screw” means she had three engines and three propellers, not what you first thought), but that particular Bushido almost broke me after I took her from Greece to the south of France on bunkers alone (more than 50,000 greenbacks). She cruised at 35 knots. Then some gangsters in Athens blew her up and demanded the insurance money from me, something I refused to do. A very long war of nerves and threats only ended once I finally imported some muscle from America who photographed themselves next to the leading hood’s daughter, forcing him to surrender.
Facebook’s disastrous IPO was less an “initial public offering” than an injurious public ordeal.
Is it possible that the investors snapping up shares were the only folks on Earth who”d never actually visited the site and were therefore oblivious about how literally worthless Facebook can be?
I”m not just talking about the corny cartoons we”re begged to “Like” or the admittedly adorable photos of kittens or kids.
I mean the seemingly arbitrary decisions Facebook makes about what you don”t get to post there and what you do.
Now, I”m not one of those “information wants to be free” parasites who thinks the likes of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter (conceived, constructed, and maintained thanks to somebody else’s genius, hard work, and capital) are de facto public utilities I should be able to use and abuse at whim. If I can”t spray-paint expletives on my rental apartment walls with presumed impunity, then social media’s “landlords” shouldn”t have to condone its virtual equivalent.
What I find confusing are Facebook’s decisions about what gets to stay up and what gets pulled down.
Take Michael Brown. He wrote a book called A Queer Thing Happened to America, which he calls a “meticulously researched” history of gay activism’s negative impact on society.
Like many authors, he created a Facebook page to promote his book. According to Brown, the page had been up for about a year, attracting some comments and helping sell a few copies.
Then last week, his “Web guy’s” Facebook account was locked because Brown’s page “violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”
Among other things, that “Statement” forbids “bullying, intimidation, and harassment” and bans content that qualifies as “hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”
Brown insists his book’s Facebook page wasn”t in violation. None of us can judge for ourselves because it no longer exists.>
However, Brown easily found other Facebook pages that some might say violated Facebook’s vague standards.
For example, “Hitler Fetus is Our Jesus” offended Brown as a Christian, but again, I can”t describe it, because the page disappeared after he wrote about it in his online column.
Brown also points to the sizable number of anti-Israel pages on Facebook which arguably contain “hate speech” and “incite violence.” Or how about “I Hate Christianity”?
Brown complained to Facebook about his page’s deletion and received an apology. The company explained that the page was “taken down accidentally” and promised it would never happen again.
Except it did.
Brown’s still extant personal Facebook page is “popular” with commenters who regularly accuse him of “hate” and “homophobia.” They also hold him personally responsible for the (exaggerated) epidemic of suicides by “bullied” gay kids. One could be forgiven for viewing these venomous comments as “harassment” and “intimidation.”
These commenters are seemingly oblivious to how effectively they”re proving Brown’s thesis for him. And Facebook hasn”t censored them.