I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying that people are sensitive these days.
Like a hypersensitive black gay snail, Vester Flanagan II left behind a slimy trail of perceived grievances, slights, and microaggressions that culminated in last Wednesday morning’s live televised murder of a white female reporter and her white cameraman.
The apparent creature of a social-media age where not only is everyone hypersensitive, they’re also a star, Flanagan filmed the killings himself, posted the video online, bragged about it on Facebook and Twitter, and faxed a 23-page manifesto to ABC News before ending his life with a bullet to the head during a high-speed police chase.
Flanagan, 41, had worked for about a year under the pseudonym Bryce Williams as a broadcaster for the Virginia TV station whose reporter and cameraman he shot dead. As I write this, ABC News has not yet released his mea culpa in its entirety but has leaked the following dribs and drabs to the press:
The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily….I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!…Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15….The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15….What sent me over the top was the church shooting….And my hollow point bullets have the victims” initials on them….As for Dylann Roof? You [deleted]! You want a race war [deleted]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[deleted]!!!…
I’m shaking my damn head. I hoped that as a nation, we’d progressed beyond the point where we still call one another “[deleted]!”
But here we have a black man using anti-white slurs and killing two white people LIVE AND ON CAMERA because he says he wants to start a race war. Surely this is equivalent to the Charleston shooting and the press would be all over the racial angle like ants on candy, right?
You’re a naÃ¯ve little lamb if you think so, dollface. This story is less than half a week old and already it’s mostly been “disappeared” from the top of the news cycle, whereas the Charleston shooting had dominated the news for much of the summer. And whereas the Charleston mass murder led to calls for snuffing out all symbolic remnants of the Confederacy because shooter Dylann Roof had posed with a little Rebel flag in a few sullen selfies, the fact that Flanagan’s apartment allegedly contained a rainbow flag has not led to similar demands to snuff out all expressions of gay pride. Nor has it led to mass rallies about saving “white bodies” from the predations of race-obsessed lunatic blacks.
No, in this case most of the ex post facto media homilies are about how we have to get rid of guns. According to John Rosenthal, chairman of a group called Stop Handgun Violence, “It is going to take a hundred or two hundred largely white people [getting killed] because Congress doesn’t care about minorities.”
You heard that correctly. In order to prevent further killings of white people, we’re going to have to kill a few more hundred of them.
And what better man for the job than a chubby gay redbone who lived alone and in squalor? Police described Flanagan’s apartment as soaked in cat urine and smeared with feline feces. A neighbor claimed that the combative gay black gunman had often tossed cat poop at fellow apartment dwellers for no apparent reason. Police also claimed to have found what were described as “unwashed sex toys” in Flanagan’s apartment that contained visible traces of “human material.”
Flanagan appeared to be a lifelong wound collector, a man so egregiously disgruntled, one wonders whether at any point in his life he had truly ever been fully gruntled.
Back in 2000 he had sued his former employers at a Florida TV station claiming that he’d been called a “monkey” and once overheard a joke about collard greens. Although the station denied his claims, the case was settled out of court.
After last Wednesday morning’s shootings, Flanagan posted on Twitter that Alison Parker, the 24-year-old blonde TV reporter he shot cold, had made “racist comments” in the workplace. Station manager Jeff Marks dismissed this allegation as “nonsense,” calling Flanagan a “deluded” man who “came here looking for grievances to happen.”
Flanagan’s endless grievances included such insane accusations as insisting that it was “racist” to claim a reporter was “out in the field,” because obviously they were referring to cotton fields and trying to trigger Flanagan’s dim genetic sense memories of slavery. He was also certain that when they referred to “swinging by” a residence to cover a story, this was an obvious allusion to lynching.
Almost from the day he started working, Flanagan developed a reputation as an inept reporter and a monstrous pain in the ass who imagined racial and anti-gay persecution in the most innocent of gestures. On the day of his dismissal, he allegedly said the following to his employers:
Call the police. I’m not leaving. I’m going to make a stink and it’s going to be in the headlines.
The Week’s Most Febrile, Infantile, and Juvenile Headlines
WILL DRESDEN BURN AGAIN?
As everyone knows, Germany is the most evil place in the history of the universe. Therefore, it follows that anyone who attempts to preserve Germany as the home of the Germans is a filthy smelly Nazi who deserves to be shoved in an oven as if he were a frozen store-bought pizza.
Sure, if you want to split hairs and be technical, the German city of Dresden was bombed so aggressively in World War II that the sidewalks were glowing in what was a literal holocaust. But the weekend before last in the nearby village of Heidenau, three days of rioting followed the government’s placement of two hundred refugees in an abandoned hardware store. Some of the rioters reportedly chanted things such as “Heil Hitler” and “foreigners out.” Thirty-one policemen were injured in the three-day fracas.
German officials were quick to make clear that such intolerance would not be tolerated. According to German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel:
These are people that have nothing to do with Germany. This is not the Germany we want.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who resembles the offspring of Hillary Clinton and a toadstool, referred to the rioters as “disgusting.” She obviously hasn’t looked in a mirror in years.
It matters not a whit that these new refugee centers blanket the entire nation. Neither does it matter that Germany already accepts more “immigrants” than any other European country. The only moral and sensible way for Germans to survive is to bend over, grab their ankles, and willingly accept their own demise.
SCIENTISTS DEVISE METHOD TO REDUCE RACISM AMONG CHINESE INFANTS
To their shock and dismay, researchers at the University of Delaware have found that infants as young as three months old have already succumbed to the toxic poison of societal racism and thus favor women who look like their mothers over women from other races. Such bigoted youngsters clearly display “unconscious racial biases” rather than “natural racial preferences.” But a study in the journal Developmental Science claims that with enough aggressive cognitive conditioning, they can be cured.
Researchers “wanted to see whether the children’s unconscious racial biases could be disrupted,” so they placed Chinese infants under a rigorous program of cognitive reconditioning that, at least temporarily, subverted their natural affinity for people who look like themselves. It is settled science that children need to be taught to be racist, which is why three-month-old infants are forced to undergo Clockwork Orange-style mental reconditioning that teaches them not to be racist.
WOMEN’s BOOK CLUB MEMBERS CLAIM THEY WERE TARGETED FOR “LAUGHING WHILE BLACK”
A jolly group of eleven “mostly black women””meaning that there was one ethno-masochistic white woman huddled among them”from northern California’s “Sistahs on the Reading Edge” book club were forced off a Napa Valley wine-tour train for allegedly being too loud and boisterous after employees on the train received several complaints from other train passengers.
Now, it couldn’t possibly be that large groups of alcohol-swilling black women can ever get loud and rude of their own accord, nor is it true that whenever you get a group of black women together their incessant chatter inevitably gets louder than a Metallica concert, so these noble female descendants of slaves were obviously forced off the train because of their skin color. There is no other possible explanation. Only a damned fool would doubt that they were asked to leave because they were “Laughing While Black” and thus caused discomfort to a group of uptight white people who don’t embrace life with the same level of innocent gusto that black women do. We, as white people, need to learn that “laughing is not a crime” and that it’s “no accident that black women are the most likely women in the U.S. to be murdered or raped.” Just don’t dare mention exactly who is murdering and raping them, and everything should be fine.
ANOTHER BLACK BODY SENSELESSLY GUNNED DOWN IN FERGUSON
The world still writhes in pain over last summer’s brutal slaying of gentle giant Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO by a white cop who obviously was motivated by penis envy and racial hatred. This is why it’s almost certain that Ferguson will once again erupt in flames and looting over the fact that a nine-year-old black girl was shot dead in her bedroom while she did homework. A 21-year-old black male named De’Eris Marquan Brown has been arrested in connection with the shooting and has reportedly confessed. It is common knowledge that black lives matter, and even though 93% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks, only an idiot would think this isn’t due to white supremacy.
According to W. Somerset Maugham, materially one must live on the razor’s edge between poverty and minimal subsistence in order to cultivate the life of the spirit. I’ve always respected Maugham’s wisdom and understanding of human nature, and Larry Darrell, in search of a Tao, is among my favorite fictional characters. Maugham wrote The Razor’s Edge in 1944, at age 70, an extraordinary achievement and way ahead of the times. The world was at war and here was an old closeted homosexual writing beautifully about the West’s inability to promote the good life through wealth.
Twenty years later some people out west started a movement somewhat similar to what Larry was seeking in Tibet, or so they claimed, and it ended with Manson and his grotesque gang of killers massacring a pregnant Sharon Tate and friends. How cultivating the spiritual life can lead to torture and murder is beyond me, and Manson and his gang should have all been put to death. But the goody-goodies that we in the West are, we don’t do death any longer, we simply lock them up and feed them three square meals a day and give them all the sex they want with their own kind. Manson has even been interviewed and allowed to tell his side of the story, something I find outrageous, his ventriloquistic syntax taken down verbatim by hacks who should know better.
The reason I bring up The Razor’s Edge is because I’ve been doing the opposite of what Larry sought for most of his life, namely living the life of Riley among the vulgarly rich and famous. It all began innocently enough. The world I knew back then was a much more uncomplicated place; people were immaculately dressed and elegantly tailored, and doing little work was actually considered chic. It suited me perfectly. At 20 I got on the tennis tour and saw most of the world as a result. Ten years after the war had ended, Europe had recovered, and driving through it was one of the great pleasures of life. Just imagine, the old continent without many cars and even fewer migrants. Taking the train was also a pleasure. The small shops and little dwellings that one could admire from the windows are now gone, replaced by supermarkets and car parks, not to mention cement tower blocks. Just as the music changed from jazz and Gershwin to zombie noise during the ’60s, television turned to junk, art became a commodity to be traded like pork bellies, and newspapers began reporting on the comings and goings of scum like the Hiltons and the Kardashians. No wonder I now hate the modern world with such passion, and no wonder I hit the bottle the way I do.
Mind you, I am being a bit hypocritical. I used to hit the bottle back when Europe was civilized, and the Middle East a place one went for pleasure, not to witness beheadings. Now I feel like a misfit in a brutal world full of celebrity freaks and gangster rappers. Which brings me to the point I wish to make this week: I’ve just been cruising on a friend’s magnificent gin palace, something I hadn’t done in many a year, and it brought back wonderful memories. The boat belongs to Michael Chandris, one of Greece’s biggest and most respected shipowners. His crew is as good as it gets, and Michael’s generosity, unending. We cruised down by Milos, where the beautiful Aphrodite statue was discovered in a cave in 1820 and delivered sans arms to the fat Napoleonic usurper Louis XVIII, who kept her for good. Then on to Kimolos, where a gleaming white village is perched on a ridge above the windmills and under a Venetian castle. We were eight, four boys and four girls, if at age 79 and ten days I still count as a boy. Milos and Kimolos are renowned for having the clearest and cleanest waters anywhere, but I dread to think what will happen if those nice guys who smuggle people for profit discover them. I got very wrecked the first and last day of the trip. It was one of the happiest cruises I’ve ever been part of. We laughed for five days and nights and then Michael flew us back to Athens on his chopper.
I bring this up because Michael is a blast from the past, although much, much younger than yours truly. Which means one doesn’t need to be a killer to succeed nowadays, as some fool pundits tell us. I don’t know how to thank him except I will never write anything horrid about a gin palace again, except for those disgusting ones owned by Saudis, Qataris, and Russians. And it was good training to boot. After a fortnight on a sailing boat built in 1921, a 180-footer cruising at 18 knots and capable of speeding at 24 was good practice for my next move, that of the Spectator cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Victoria. I am going without the mother of my children, hoping to get lucky and do a Cary Grant to Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember, a shipboard romance. In that 1957 picture, Cary was a small-time painter but a big-time lothario. I am a small-time writer, shorter and uglier than Grant. So I will settle for someone who looks like Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. Wish me luck and see you on board.
Robert Mugabe, sempiternal president of Zimbabwe, was recently booed and jeered in parliament, suggesting that, after more than a third of a century in power and at the age of 91, he still has a thing or two to learn about being an absolute dictator. Of course, he might also be a believer in the hydraulic theory of human relations, according to which it is better to let people blow off a little emotional steam than wait for them to really explode in anger and (in this case) try seriously to overthrow him. It is, after all, more difficult to plot in earnest against a man whom you have just jeered.
It is also difficult not to admire Robert Mugabe in a way. He is remarkable for his age, and to accuse him of having ruined his country (it is claimed that a sixth of the population will go hungry if emergency assistance is not soon provided) is somehow beside the point. I used to think when I was living in Tanzania that Julius Nyerere was incompetent, having maintained his country quite unnecessarily in the direst poverty (to the hosannas of most development economists, especially Scandinavian), until I remembered that he had remained in power for 25 years. No politician who remains in power for that long can be called incompetent, at least not if you accept the Machiavellian view that the end of politics is power. In that sense, then, Robert Mugabe is supremely competent.
He is certainly a natty dresser, much smarter in appearance than any prominent Western politician. If you consider the Zimbabwean climate, you know what sacrifices he must have made to appear so immaculate on all occasions, what iron self-discipline it took and continues to take to do so, even if it is all at the expense of others. Most Westerners can”t be bothered anymore to dress even for a funeral, even in the most clement weather.
Now, some might say that the matter of President Mugabe’s mode of dress is unimportant, of interest only to the frivolous, but I hold with Polonius that the apparel oft proclaims the man. What, then, does Mugabe’s dress proclaim? What confusion of sentiments? Where one man wields so much power, such questions are important.
As everyone knows, Mr. Mugabe devoted the first part of his life, and his considerable talents and intelligence, to overthrowing the white settler regime of Southern Rhodesia. This was done in the name of freedom, but as we can now see (and has more usually been the case, in fact), it was done really in the pursuit of power. Only, if it is better”irrespective of all other considerations“to be ruled by people closely resembling the bulk of the population than to be ruled by a small minority alien to the rest of the population, can it really be said that Mr. Mugabe’s regime is better than the one it overthrew? In fact, I do suspect most of us would rather be misruled by our own people (however we define our own people) than well governed by strangers: a truth, if it is one, that has uncomfortable consequences for political philosophy.
Be that as it may, Mr. Mugabe’s attitude to the settler regime was not one of total rejection. There were many things about it that he admired. And in truth it was a remarkable regime, one with a very small elite who produced and ran a functioning, though not of course a just, state. It was not only the efficiency but the style that Mr. Mugabe admired, and since outward show is easier to imitate than inner substance, Mr. Mugabe adopted that style as his own, and the dress of what he thought was the British gentleman. The uniformed men around him still wear the uniforms of the British hierarchy.
If my surmise is correct, Mr. Mugabe longed”though he would never admit it, perhaps not even to himself”to be accepted into the colonial elite, as he felt his education and ability entitled him to be. In my opinion, the greatest harm inflicted by colonial regimes, certainly in their later phases, was to the pride of the colonized. It was not the larger injustices that moved them (it seldom is), but the disdain and contempt in which they were so obviously held by the colonizers. Unrequited admiration is bad enough, but to admire those who regard you as beneath consideration, and as congenitally stupid and lacking in capacity, is painful indeed.
Remember Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic,” where Michael Palin is trying to procure an argument from John Cleese? Palin is frustrated that Cleese won”t move past contradictions. He insists a true argument is “A collective series of statements to establish a definite proposition,” and Cleese responds with “No, it isn”t.” As a kid, I saw it as a bunch of funny British guys doing something with the language I didn”t understand. Today, I see it as a tombstone”a stark reminder that the art of discussion is dead.
Every time I try to engage someone in a debate or even present a challenging idea, the response is “I can”t even.” Young people are especially unable to deal and will add, “I literally can”t,” “I don”t know where to start,” and of course, “Is this satire?” The few times you can get them into the ring it’s startling to see how many logical fallacies pop up. We learned about dozens of formal and informal fallacies in high school, but the same five refuse to die.
(1) GUILT BY ASSOCIATION
When I”m told my beliefs overlap those of Timothy McVeigh or even David Duke, I can hear my high school teacher say, “All dogs are mammals. All cats are mammals. All dogs are not cats.” The far right is considered so toxic by liberals that being remotely associated with anyone deemed racist totally discredits you as a human being. This is why speakers such as Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and even Condoleezza Rice are prevented from speaking at colleges. Having these people on the same campus as you will turn you into a neo-Nazi by association. The irony is, these kids are at a learning institution and the only thing they”d be guilty of when associating with someone who contradicts their beliefs is curiosity.
(2) ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE
Every time you notice a pattern, people assume you think what’s generally true must be universally true. Now all they have to do is come up with one example that contradicts this and your whole point blows away like dust in the wind. This comes up virtually every time I debate Jesse Ventura. He met an Indian who’s offended by the Washington Redskins; ergo, all Indians hate the name.
This ridiculously obvious fallacy has killed millions of people or, more specifically, prevented millions of people from being born in the first place. Someone’s fortysomething aunt has twins after her seventh session of in vitro (total cost: $84,000) and all of a sudden all women can have kids forever. This anecdotal evidence has led women to wait way past their 30s for kids who aren”t ever going to arrive. Those nonexistent kids won”t be having kids either. And so on.
This fallacy dominates feminist discourse. You tell them women can”t ride dirt bikes and they dredge up some pro who’s been doing it for years (almost always a lesbian). Ladies, we obviously don”t mean it is completely impossible for any woman to ride a dirt bike.
This fallacy is so prevalent, I”ve even seen it in an insurance commercial. A young woman asks her boyfriend, “Remember when you said men are superior drivers?” He says, “Yeah,” and she responds, “Then how”d I get this Allstate safe-driving bonus check?” Because you”re one person, you stupid bitch!
(3) CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION
President Obama is the king of logical fallacies. He sees that Harvard graduates do better than Bloods and Crips so all we have to do to make America equal is send gangsters to Ivy League schools. He changes test scores and builds projects in the suburbs based on the assumption that repeating the behavior of the successful will magically create successful people.
Correlation equals causation is powered by the myth of equality. We can”t stomach that some people are simply better at stuff than others so we put all our eggs in the nurture basket. Yeah, that’s why babies grow up to be Einsteins. You played classical music in their crib. It couldn”t possibly have anything to do with genetics.
Rains finally came. The dog days came to a pause for two days, but Bucharest was still hot. We drove to Tulcea”the quiet of a small town in a poor province on a summer afternoon”and took the speedboat to Chilia, which gives its name to one of the three branches of the Danube Delta. The Danube, which is a polite city river when it runs through Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade, finally polyfurcates before it reaches the Black Sea. The little-visited delta is the place where Europe reaches an end. It’s possibly the last truly wild part of the continent.
Green and cool.
Pelicans and storks. Wild horses. Wild boars. Even wild cats that catch fish.
Chilia is separated from New Chilia, which is in Ukraine. Its factories are seen across the river, but the ferry crossing was discontinued after the 1989 revolution. Many of the 4,000 inhabitants of Chilia have relatives in Ukraine but do not see them. Anca Plesca tells me that to do so would not only involve going to Tulcea to get one’s passport stamped but paying $200 to have the customs opened up by Ukraine in order to receive them.
Mirel and Anca Plesca have opened a hotel in Chilia called Limanul Resort, which has been recommended to us by our Saatchi & Saatchi friends in Bucharest. Anca Plesca, like most Romanians I know, was reared by her grandmother in a country village, and this was her village.
We brought Claudio Magris” astonishingly good Danube and several guidebooks. They recount the history of Chilia, but it has very little history. One monk left a record that slaves were embarked there in the 11th century. A reminder that slavery was universal in Europe at that time. It existed in what is now Romania until the time of the American Civil War, by which time gypsies were slaves. Ethnic Romanians were serfs until the same time.
That’s almost it until the War of Independence of 1877″78, so-called, in which the Romanians were inveigled by the czar to fight for Russia and Bulgaria. Romania’s reward was to gain its nominal independence (it already had home rule from the Sublime Porte), to lose Bessarabia (approximately what is now the Moldovan republic) to Russia, and to be given in exchange a stretch of scantily populated coast called the Northern Dobrudgea, which included most of the Danube Delta. The Dobrudgea had little connection with the Romanians, but its Muslims, Greeks, and Jews have mostly left by now and it has been Romanian-ized.
The Danube Delta has 20,000 inhabitants, making it the most sparsely populated area in Europe below the frozen north. It was and remains populated in large part by Lipoveni, Russians who had fled to the delta to escape religious persecution in the time of Peter the Great. Lipoveni are renowned for the beauty of their women and their almost limitless ability to drink vodka, tuica, beer, and industrial alcohol. They can even drink the turbid waters of the Danube itself. They talk an archaic form of Russian and listen to Ukrainian pop music on transistor radios in the village bar.
But the delta is a place innocent of history and long in natural history. The delta is the third-most important biosphere reserve, a term I don”t fully understand but which I think means home for flora and fauna. The Great Barrier Reef is first.
The joy of traveling in Romania is staying with peasants. Limanul Resort is not that, but it is something surprising”it is cool. Cool, until about five years ago, was unknown in Romania. I do not entirely approve, but it makes a nice change from most Romanian hotels, which are in the most terrible taste imaginable, unless built before Communism. The resort has been beautifully designed by a good architect, and design means a lot. It’s comfortable, and though peasants charge only ten euros, the 50 euros the hotel charges is not exorbitant. One of our group was shocked it was so cheap. He is used, he said, to comfortable hotels in Transylvania that charge twice as much. Poshness, to my regret, has come to Romania.
One drawback, though: It is not on the water but a five-minute walk away, close to Chilia’s extraordinary church, which is the highest Orthodox church in Romania. Why so small a place has so imposing a church I don”t know, but I imagine that it was a statement that the Turks were no longer masters here. The Turks forbade high churches, which is the reason other churches in the Dobrudgea were built half underground.
The food at the resort is very good. We ate a wonderful fish dish where the outside of the fish had been emptied and filled with minced fish meat. We had some good fish borsches. We drank very much local tuica”plum brandy”but was it local? I saw no plum trees. It was at least weak and I drank several, usually a very unwise course of action. The others complained, but I was thankful.
This is, however, not the right way to see the delta. The right way is camping by the shore of the water with mosquito repellent. We saw many people doing this as our speedboat took us through the delta. Solitary men who looked like hermits, visionaries, or men on the run from the police. In fact, in a country that is very conformist, here is where the nonconformists go. They are the Romanian equivalent of hippies, but a great improvement over hippies.
This is my sixth expedition to the delta. Once, the delta was crisscrossed by natural water channels, but more and more canals have been built. They are straight and at times they become dull. At other times, I was reminded of sailing a dhow in a mangrove swamp in the islands of northern Mozambique. But all this is so close to Europe, is in Europe.
The rivulets are studded by fishermen’s cottages, which fishermen use only occasionally, and where benches are available in the shade. I read; my companions paddled; one of us, who was a professional photographer, took pictures.
The beautiful moments are the storks, pelicans, all manner of birds, which suddenly fly up from the reeds. The lakes are where the birds suddenly fly up en masse, driven by a divine impulse to find happiness.
Outside the delta, empires rose and fell. The Turks came and after many centuries left. The Communists did the same much more rapidly, but in the delta very little has changed. Florin, our boatman, regrets the passing of Communism. He is a Lipovan in his 50s. Many or most people of his age and education in Romania feel the same, and he is probably right, from his point of view. The Lipoveni always had plenty to eat, even in the 1980s.
Florin takes us to the little wooden monastery of St. Athanasius, which I first visited years ago. It was founded by some monks in the early 1990s who, looking for a site, got talking to a local fisherman who donated his land for the monastery. Living there now are six monks and a charming man called Emil, who dedicates half his year to helping the monks and the other half to working in Italy to make enough money to keep himself. Monasteries appeal to Romanians, and lots of people come and go. I”d like to stay there, but one can only stay by permission and the monk I spoke to didn”t seem keen on extending an invitation to me, even though Emil told him that my companion had made a substantial donation to a monastery in Bucharest.
Last night, while perusing the periodicals, I read that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally inside a sweaty gymnasium somewhere in Conway, New Hampshire (which is a country, I think). Now, I”m not certain whether Bernie actually spoke or simply played a recording, since his message was stuffed with the by-now-stereotypical mantras railing against “fat cat billionaires,” corporate greed, and the D.C. machine. The thunderous applause at the end of his speech tells me that every single minion in attendance failed to detect the irony in Bern-stumper Ben Cohen delivering opening remarks and dishing out “free” ice cream.
There is simply so much hypocrisy festering and oozing out of this one single moment that it absolutely must be a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor, which is why I am now promoting “Bern & Geriatrics: Hypocrisy-Flavored Socialism.” It looks and smells like plain vanilla, but it actually tastes like crap.
Stay with me, people.
Bernie, who is a self-avowed democratic socialist, recently posted on his Facebook page, and I quote:
Let me be as blunt as I can and tell you that as a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, the American political system has been totally corrupted and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined. I wish I did not have to tell you that but that is the simple truth. That’s why I believe that we need to create a political revolution in this country.
I am actually inclined to agree, which is why I am moderately amused by Ben Cohen’s presence and the free ice cream at the rally.
I get it”Ben Cohen does a lot of work in activism and charitable efforts. He’s probably even a fairly swell guy and uses his own body to shield baby fur seals from being clubbed to death by Wall Street investors. But he is not exactly Mother Teresa. The man has a net worth of over $150 million. Holy hell, folks”he is not just rich, he’s one-percenter rich! In the last election cycle, Mr. Cohen blew $66,874 on campaign contributions“that’s $14,874 more than the median annual household income in America.
It must be nice to make it rain on politicians like that.
Oh, and Cohen’s diabetes mill, Ben & Jerry’s, isn”t off the hook either.
In 2000, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield sold Ben & Jerry’s to Unilever. Unilever is worth $129.1 billion, is ranked 113th in the Global 2000, is ranked 80th worldwide in profitability, and is ranked 56th in market value”globally. Unilever has accrued more wealth than the 50 poorest undeveloped countries combined. And on top of all of that, the fat cats at Unilever spent $2,422,132 in campaign contributions last election cycle”$1.7 million of which backed Democratic candidates.
Moreover, Ben & Jerry’s isn”t exactly a jobs program for the poor. You have to have a net worth of at least $350,000 to even be considered for owning a franchise”that excludes the majority of the American middle class. Additionally, you must pay up to a $35,000 franchise fee, pay annual revenues, and commit to a ten-year contract, and if you fudge out of the contract early, you owe the parent company money based on forecasted revenues. Do you think this is something that your average American can afford to casually walk into? Hell, no.
Didn”t Bernie say that we don”t need 23 different deodorant sprays while children are going hungry? I am pretty sure he did. So what about Ben & Jerry’s 66 flavors of ice cream and froyo? Why do we need that many choices? Aren”t chocolate and vanilla enough? Shouldn”t the choices be regulated by a government panel?
And besides, do you think that poor people can afford Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? The truly poor are worried about buying bread”they don”t have the money to buy friggin” ice cream!
You know who buys Ben & Jerry’s outrageously overpriced ice cream? Sunny-day socialist college brats and rich old liberals who want to “feel good” about buying their fat pills from an “ethical” diabetes mill rather than from a “corporate fat cat” diabetes mill like Coca-Cola.
And speaking of diabetes mills, why is Berndawg cozying up to ice cream companies in the first place? Doesn”t he know that America is ranked first in the number of citizens with diabetes per capita, first in the number of citizens with heart disease per capita, and second worldwide in percentage of the population that is obese? If he cares so damn much about health-care costs, shouldn”t he be discouraging ice cream consumption? If we all stopped eating garbage like ice cream, we could divert money away from lifestyle-related diseases and invest it toward treating and curing infectious diseases. I mean, health-care costs account for 17.9% of our GDP (more than any other country in the world)”don”t we need to eat less ice cream?
The Bern is either hopelessly naive and oblivious to all of this hypocrisy, or he is willfully complicit and part and parcel to it. Or he’s senile. One of the three. And we already have plenty of idiocy, lies, and senility in Washington”we don”t need more.
South Park loves taking shots at Hollywood leftists, and never was that done with more skill than in the episode “Smug Alert,” in which liberal self-satisfaction, personified by George Clooney and his 2006 Oscar acceptance speech, forms a giant cloud of “Smug,” a deadly combination of smog and smugness, that threatens to blanket the entire West Coast.
Well, noxious “Smug” is hardly unique to left-wing celebrities. In fact, if you happen to live in the North Hollywood/Burbank section of L.A., I”d recommend not venturing outside without a gas mask on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 29, because a stage 1 Smug alert has been issued, courtesy of Hollywood conservatives. Now, I”ll say this up front”my column this week is colored by my own experiences and motivated by personal anger. No need to call me out on that; I”m copping to it willingly. But I do hope to make a larger point, beyond my own specific beefs.
This Saturday night at the Hilton Universal City Hotel, Friends of Abe, the “underground” group of Hollywood Republicans, is honoring author and columnist Mark Steyn at its annual summer bash (with an opening act by 1990s country has-been Deana Carter, because apparently Lee Greenwood has wash to do that night). I”m certain that Mark Steyn needs no introduction to most Taki’s readers. He’s the brash Canadian expat who’s not too keen on Muslims and Mexicans but quite supportive of white women “breeding” in great numbers. A skilled writer, Steyn gets away with saying a lot of things that would get a lesser intellect in trouble. And having been hardened by skirmishes with Canada’s draconian “human rights” commissions and tribunals, he’s completely unafraid of censors. And good for him. I probably agree with him about 85% of the time, and 100% in any fight that involves opposing censorship, governmental or otherwise.
But the ominous Smug cloud of which I warn will come not from him, but rather from the Hollywood conservatives and local GOP functionaries who will be honoring him. I can assure you that the echo chamber of this closed-door event will be throbbing with the deafening cacophony of back-patting and arrogant, self-satisfied, “aren”t we brave?” rhetoric from the assembled members and VIPs. A month after hosting Donald Trump, Friends of Abe is honoring a man whose rhetoric might be too rich for even The Donald. “America has more Mexicans than anybody needs, and then some” is a recent Steyn bon mot. “Why do immigrants rape out of all proportion to their numbers?” is another. Oh, and it should be pointed out that, according to the Ontario Human Rights Committee, Steyn’s fans (no, not Steyn himself, but people who applaud his work) “called for the mass killing, deportation or conversion of Muslim Canadians.”
What bravery the Hollywood conservatives and L.A. GOP will be displaying in honoring Steyn! What a stand they shall be taking against political correctness! Against “minority” pressure groups! Against censorship! And against holding an author responsible for the ravings of strangers who consider themselves fans.
Except…the very people who are honoring Steyn are the ones who banned me because of work I did 25 years ago that raised questions about whether or not Auschwitz was an extermination camp. After five years as a member, I was banned for life from Friends of Abe without being given the opportunity to explain my views, and I was banned solely on the grounds that certain other members were offended. The people who expelled and disowned me were my friends. These were people I”d worked with on a daily basis. They celebrated my political writings, they collaborated with me, they attended my events. Indeed, I was considered a liquor-affected voice of reason in their circle. But it all came to an end when my past as a Holocaust revisionist was “outed” on April 20, 2013, by National Review‘s Michael Walsh (also an FOA member). From that point on, I was worse than persona non grata. I wasn”t just to be ignored, but fought. To this day, over two years later, mainstream sites that hire me are hit with trolling and threats from my former colleagues.
And those who couldn”t find fault with my work faulted me for what people I never knew, “fans” I”d never met, thought of my work. “You might not be a white supremacist, but racists like your work, which makes you just as bad.”
So here’s the bigger point I”m trying to make. My example proves the emptiness of the braggadocio you hear from many conservative pundits about how fearless they are in the face of political correctness: “Mexican immigrants are rapists. Palestinians are a death cult. Black Americans owe whites a “debt” for being enslaved and then freed” (a gem from David Horowitz, an original FOA member). “Women in higher education will lead to the “abolition of man.” White women need to breed more to overcome an invasion of uncivilized darkies. “Sodomites“ are waging “gayhad” against straight people. Offended? Get over it, Mr. Sensitive. We”re being brave and audacious and in-your-face! Oh, but just don”t say anything that might be offensive to Jews. That’s crossing the line. Hey, look how quickly we found our sensitivity!”
When it comes to comments or positions that are viewed as offensive by large segments of the black, Latino, Muslim, female, or gay communities, the conservative line is “Let’s be fearless, impudent little outlaws, and let’s not be cowed by those who cry “hatred” or “racism.”” And indeed that would be a brave stance, if it extended to material considered offensive to Jews. And this applies to issues more current than the Holocaust. Strutting, self-congratulatory conservatives become waiflike Southern belles fainting from the vapors at the mere mention of any criticism of Israel (and I”m saying this as a Jew and a die-hard Israel supporter who, in 26 years as a published writer, has never written a negative word about the Jewish state). The easiest way to take down a pesky “antiwar” libertarian in GOP circles is to find something in that person’s record that’s critical of Israel. All of a sudden the bold, brassy, “I don”t care who I offend” conservative pundits bring out their parasols and lace fans: “Oh, I do declare, I am evah so offended by such distasteful churlishness.”
Two of the better movies of 2015 are weirdly similar musical biopics about bands from Los Angeles” south suburbs. Last June’s Love & Mercy profiled Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, who came from Hawthorne, Calif., while gangsta rappers N.W.A, who helped spread the South Central L.A. crack-dealer lifestyle nationally in the late 1980s, are lauded in the overly long but still entertaining Straight Outta Compton. Paul Giamatti even plays virtually identical roles in each movie as the crooked Jewish manager.
While the exquisite Love & Mercy topped out at $12 million in box office, Straight Outta Compton is already up to $111 million and will surpass the Johnny Cash movie I Walk the Line to become the highest-grossing musical biopic ever.
The Academy had better hope that some other Oscar candidates emerge in the fall to divert attention away from what so far looks like a battle for Best Picture between the superb white rock movie and the not-bad black rap movie.
Granted, comparing Straight Outta Compton to Love & Mercy on aesthetics is like contrasting “F*** tha Police“ and “No Vaseline“ to “God Only Knows“ and “Wouldn”t It Be Nice.” But the hip-hop film, directed by veteran black hired gun F. Gary Gray (who also helmed Ice Cube’s Friday and Mark Wahlberg’s The Italian Job), is competent enough to trigger feelings of entitlement. As last year’s black complaints about Selma being handed one only Oscar suggested, when the Academy gave the Best Picture award a couple of years ago to 12 Years a Slave, it didn”t succeed in assuaging black demands for a few years as hoped. Instead, 12 Years“ Oscar seemed to convince racial spokespersons that blacks deserve to win Best Picture every year.
The expertise of both the Beach Boys and N.W.A at mythologizing extended to their suburban hometowns, which lie southeast of Los Angeles International Airport. The Wilson brothers grew up five miles inland from LAX in Hawthorne, while Compton, birthplace of Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, is eight miles farther east.
In the Beach Boys” songs, their nondescript hometown seemed a paradise, while N.W.A glamorized the physically similar Compton as the capital of mindless black-on-black violence. In 1988, Ice Cube (a recent graduate of Taft H.S. in Woodland Hills) boasted:
When I”m called off, I got a sawed-off
Squeeze the trigger, and bodies are hauled off….
I”m coming straight outta Compton
In truth, both Hawthorne and Compton were modest but pleasant postwar developments of compact single-family homes. Although Brian Wilson’s “In My Room“ is an eerily prophetic ode to the luxury of privacy, the three Wilson brothers had to share a bedroom. Compton was once a nice enough place that George and Barbara Bush chose to live there with little George W. in 1949.
Of course, the big difference was that in the 1960 Census, Hawthorne was only one percent nonwhite, while Compton was already 40 percent nonwhite. (Compton has had a black mayor since 1969.) Today, though, the two legendary suburbs are similar: Both have Hispanic majorities under the thumbs of scandal-plagued black politicians.
With its middle-class housing, sea-tempered climate (the average high on Aug. 26 is 84°F, humidity is mild, and there are no mosquitoes), and proximity to good factory jobs during the 1950″90 Cold War aerospace boom, Compton should have continued to be what it had been in the early 1950s: an idyllic suburb for upwardly mobile black homeowners.
But through sheer knuckleheadedness, local youths managed to make Compton world-famous for blacks killing blacks in moronic disputes. The fate of Compton illustrates my old saying that the chief problem with being poor in modern America is that you can”t afford to get away from other poor people”even, as in Compton, when they weren”t all that poor.
N.W.A’s malignant influence on American social history shouldn”t be forgotten. The national black youth homicide rate had dropped to a moderate level in the mid-1980s, before surging to apocalyptic heights during the 1990″94 crack wars. A 2011 Obama administration report showed that homicide offending rates for blacks 14 to 24 roughly tripled from 1984 to 1993 (see Figure 22b), while murder rates steadily declined for blacks 25 and older, who, perhaps not coincidentally, were too old to care much about new rappers like N.W.A.
When N.W.A released their first blockbuster gangsta-rap album, Straight Outta Compton, in August 1988, crack was still more common on the periphery of the country than in the heartland. For example, in Chicago in October 1988, I let three undercover cops peer out my apartment window to spy on Eddie the cocaine dealer across the street as he hit the pipe with his customers. When I asked the cops if Eddie was smoking this new drug that was in the news, crack, they replied, “He’s freebasing. There’s no crack in Chicago.”
Or at least there wasn”t all that much crack yet.
Crack dealing and gangsta rap enjoyed a symbiotic relationship as groups like N.W.A egged on black youths to murder one another in turf wars. West Coast hip-hop functioned as a mind virus infecting impressionable young brains across the land with virulent memes about how a real man reacts to life’s frustrations: with homicidal savagery.
Today, Ice Cube stars in family comedy movies, and Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine sold their Beats by Dre headphone company to Apple for $3 billion.
N.W.A wasn”t the first time the American media promoted criminality. In 1882, Oscar Wilde was lecturing in St. Joseph, Mo., two weeks after the assassination of the much-publicized Jesse James. Wilde mused after observing tourists dismantling the train robber’s house for relics, “Americans are certainly great hero-worshippers, and always take heroes from the criminal classes.”
Speaking of the criminal classes, Compton’s own Suge Knight, Dr. Dre’s business partner from 1991 to “96, was scheduled to film a cameo in Straight Outta Compton. But Knight got into an argument on the movie set with two guys and ran them over with his truck. The 50-year-old entrepreneur is currently in jail awaiting trial for murder.
Maybe the world is waiting for another Clinton to move back into the White House, but whatever the reason, the “90s revival is stalled.
Since the end of the Second World War, North American”and, especially, English”kids have compulsively salvaged the clothing and music of the teenagers they literally looked up to when they themselves were toddlers.
These revivals typically blossom 15 years after the onset of the previous decade, as soon as those babies are teens themselves. So when I was in high school, the “60s revival”nudged along by Animal House (1978) and Quadrophenia (1979)”saw me wearing a parka year-round and going to “toga party” school dances.
But the generational fashion clock apparently isn”t atomic. Girls still aren”t stomping around in baby-doll dresses and Docs except on Pinterest. The Guardian, rechecking its British watch, wonders wearily if the “90s even had “anything worth reviving.”
John Oliver certainly thinks so. His HBO program, Last Week Tonight“i.e., “Like The Daily Show but with that English guy””is getting lots of attention thanks to its latest investigation.
“Into what?” you ask. “Belligerent sermons in American mosques? Why Mexicans are so prone to drunk driving and animal cruelty? Maybe Oliver uncovered what was on Hillary’s server?”
No, Oliver’s show aired an in-depth, shocked-and-appalled expose on…greedy televangelists!
(Hang on while I turn this Violent Femmes record over…)
Oliver’s twist on this mummified topic? He’s registered a fake church called “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” with the IRS to prove that, in America, “anybody can call themselves a church.”
But doesn”t every semi-sentient being already know that? If Flannery O”Connor weren”t 50 years dead, she”d be throwing copies of Elmer Gantry and Night of the Hunter“hardcovers both”at Oliver’s skull.
Watching Oliver’s “groundbreaking” investigation will induce dÃ©jÃ vu flashbacks in viewers over 40. Twenty years ago, these “shocking” exposÃ©s of televangelists were as ubiquitous as boy bands and Beanie Babies.
But most people could avoid them if they wanted to. (Although few did; they were ratings blockbusters.) Not me. In those days, my writing “beat” was religion, not politics.
Among other things, I wrote a religion column for the Toronto Star(!) and contributed, very occasionally, to The Door.
Formerly The Wittenberg Door, the beloved entre nous periodical”picture, if you can, an evangelical National Lampoon“had by then been purchased by the Trinity Foundation, making the resulting collectivity “the world’s only Christian satire magazine/homeless shelter/private detective agency.”
“Detective agency” because, if you caught one of those Clinton-era reports on money-grubbing preachers, the Trinity Foundation was part of it. Trinity staffers would, for instance, carry out midnight Dumpster dives outside the targeted televangelist’s office, looking for incriminating paperwork, such as heartrending prayer requests cruelly tossed in the trash.
After hitting the big time in 1991 helping Diane Sawyer and Primetime Live take down Robert Tilton, Trinity became the go-to group hired by ambitious reporters and producers eager for a career-boosting kick at the evangelical can. On every such show, you”d see Trinity’s leader and real-life Javert, Ole Anthony, a Lee Marvin clone who exuded the air of a calm, world-weary ex”CIA agent with a stratospheric IQ”the perfect foil to all those sweaty, stuttering TV preachers.
The whole package made for great TV: an hour of infuriating, entertaining schadenfreude. The public’s hunger for these exposÃ©s was insatiable, and the material, plentiful.
So much so that The Door duly produced and sold VHS compilations of crazy televangelist high jinks. One three-hour extravaganza, called The Many Faces of Benny Hinn, “starred” the Jon Lovitz look-alike faith healer, who claimed, for instance, that the biblical Adam had once traveled to the moon. At one of his services, Hinn insisted, a man turned into a snake. At another, one rose from the dead.
The Door sent me a review copy so I could write about it in the Star. The trouble is, I spotted something I don”t think I was supposed to.