In the lead-up to the Fahrenheit 451 reenactment planned for Milo Yiannopoulos” upcoming book Dangerous, Buzzfeed and its coterie ran pieces on the incendiary’s previous forays into publishing. Under the pseudonym Milo Andreas Wagner, Yiannopoulos didn”t just self-publish two books of poetry, but also coedited a critical anthology on Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s fifth season.
Oh no he didn”t.
Snark aside, they also allege plagiarism with a link to an article documenting how he “misquoted” Tori Amos and “blended lines” of other songs without attribution. (He thanks Amos on an acknowledgement page, but that’s not really proper MLA format, is it?)
And true to Buzzfeed’s form, it features digestible experts of a live-tweeting reacting to Milo’s Eskimo Papoose. Based on the user’s jokes at unconventional numbering, vapors from the page breaks between sections, and appeal to Shakespeare’s restless grave, it’s safe to assume that neither he nor Buzzfeed has ever read any poetry published after the invention of Times New Roman.
So in the spirit of those journalists who sought to disprove that Meryl Streep was overrated by showing she was highly rated, we might employ a bit of fact-checking of our own.
Firstly, poets haven”t used footnotes unironically since T.S. Eliot ruined them for everybody. Eliot also said that “good writers borrow, great writers steal,” but we needn”t go that far. So despite plagiarism becoming the new weighing witches against Bibles, found poetry”the unclassier the better”has lain in postmodernity’s foundation for decades.
Secondly, Milo’s self-purported tongue-in-cheekiness pales in comparison with what other bad liars have “learned” (e.g., Lena Dunham).
And fourthly (see what I did there, would-be poetry readers?), painting Milo with the failed-artist-turned-fascist brush doesn”t address the performance art he depicts off the page. Not only does this line of attack reflect the “failing pile of garbage” epithet Trump uses against these publications, but wasn”t “Daddy Trump” offensive because it embodied the left’s yearning for a president who is both a responsive lover (ibid.) and understanding father (Andrew Sullivan)? What’s more, as he holds the mirror up to liberal nature, he conforms to modern art’s mantra: If you”re not seen, you don”t exist. And lately he’s been existing a lot.
In fact, one might wonder whether this idealism of Berkeley (both the philosopher and the campus) isn”t also reflected somewhere else. Just as views and clicks translate to aesthetic success, who now contends that elections and airtime amount to successful policy?
But we can learn other lessons besides that what’s sauce for the liberal goose sucks for the conservative gander. In one of the article’s telling moments, the live-tweeter finds an allusion to Milo’s autobiographical brush with sexual violence and lets his heart bleed only momentarily enough to feel “kind of sad.” Sadder is the way too many believe saying the F-word on a crowded campus is more violent than the actual physical assault on its speaker.
Furthermore, Milo’s performance art also reveals something about our use of tokens. Whether it’s the minority Republican or the rich Democrat, both sides have employed their own versions of ecce homo: “Behold the suffering partisan, a stumbling block for the left and foolishness for the right.” Thereby they mitigate the fears of one constituency or claim the party’s tenets are so convincing that the token follows them against his best interests.
“She made a show about how single career women could still have fulfilling lives, with the help of the powerful TV executive she was married to.”
My Facebook friend Tom Forsythe, besides being one helluva Muhammad cartoonist, is also wittier than many pro scribes”including me, dammit. I wish I”d thought of that quip after Mary Tyler Moore died.
Don”t misunderstand me: Moore was an incandescent performer, and almost more impressive, she”d also endured tragedies and troubles”alcoholism, diabetes”without becoming a public nuisance.
It was that former affliction that handily allowed me to exhibit an addict’s perverse snobbery about her drug of choice:
Contrast those two rancid potheads Cheech & Chong (I never tired of pointing out) with a couple of drunks, namely Moore and Dick Van Dyke”behold: graceful, lucid, and wholesome, even in prison duds and novelty shackles.
(If Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke were alcoholics, mused Adam Carolla last week, “all that says to me is”drink more.”)
As for her fine work, most of her well-meaning obituarists are getting it wrong. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was not, in fact, the first sitcom to center on a single career girl: Marlo Thomas beat her onto the air by four years on That Girl“complete with high-energy, “skipping and twirling down big city streets” opening title sequence and “look out, world!” theme song. (Unlike MTM, Marlo’s show even had a cute logo.)
And contrary to what you might presume, Marlo’s powerful showbiz father, Danny, didn”t cook it up as a vehicle for his daughter. Through her own production company, she was That Girl‘s “de facto executive producer.” Whereas, despite its name, MTM Productions was run entirely by Moore’s husband, Grant Tinker.
But of course, way more girls wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore, and more men wanted to date her. Slender and vivacious as she was, no one can imagine Marlo Thomas wearing the “Ugly” Green Dress.
We heard from those girls last week, the women who”d been inspired to pursue broadcasting careers by watching “Mary Richards”” work as a local news producer every Saturday night.
Oprah Winfrey, being the most famous, wealthy, and powerful of them all, even indulged in a shot-by-shot re-creation of MTM‘s opening sequence, complete with hat toss. When Winfrey’s crew surprised their boss by getting Moore herself to phone in to her show, mighty Oprah crumbled to pieces. While I couldn”t find this particular clip, I distinctly remember Oprah burbling, quite touchingly, “But why would Mary want to call me?”
Girls who didn”t necessarily dream of having Mary’s job definitely fantasized about having her apartment. “Marytylermooresapartment” became one universally understood word: When I found a cheap but/therefore grotty first apartment in Toronto, my would-be roommate pulled out of our arrangement; “She expected marytylermooresapartment,” tsked my mother.
I certainly didn”t. As I”ve said here before, “Hogan’s Heroes made POW life appear so thrilling yet utterly uninjurious that, while other girls daydreamed about Mary Tyler Moore’s mod Minneapolis bachelor pad, I fantasized about the snug, comradely confines of Stalag 13.”
Long after MTM went off the air, on a business trip to Minnesota, I nevertheless accompanied my female boss on the requisite pilgrimage to marytylermooresapartment, the Victorian 2104 Kenwood Parkway home that played that “role.” (Back when the show was still a going concern, the exasperated owners tried to discourage the crew from filming fresh exterior shots every new season”which simply encouraged more neck-craning tourists”by stretching an “Impeach Nixon“ banner below “Mary’s” window.)
Which is kind of funny because Mary Tyler Moore was a lifelong Republican (except for a lapse campaigning for Carter)”a Fox News fan and “libertarian centrist.” An ancestral connection led her to help fund the renovation of Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters. Yet, I didn”t see any of these facts mentioned in the postmortem valentines.
In fact, Moore told PBS in 2013 that she”d been a reluctant symbol of women’s liberation and “did not believe in [feminist Gloria] Steinem’s view that women owe it to themselves to have a career.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo.”Last week, when I outed myself as an Angry White Man, I got some of that dreaded “nativist” fan mail. (Is it my imagination or has the word “nativist” been used more times in the past two months than in all previous recorded history?)
Let me make this clear: I”m not a nativist, I”m a redneck. There’s a difference. A nativist would be one of those snooty New Englanders in the Mayflower Society. Blue bloods in ruffled shirts. Think Adlai Stevenson…Noah Webster…William Rehnquist. Congregationalists. Pointy-nosed moralizers. Some of them could be angry”Jonathan Edwards comes to mind”but they were angry in a sort of clench-jawed Connecticut debutante way. Ewwwww, don”t talk to her, she’s such a Kappa.
The nativist idea of a rebellion is to dress up like Indians and dump tea in the ocean”the 18th-century version of frat boys pranking the archrival football team.
The redneck idea of a rebellion is to lie in wait with a shotgun for the guy who’s trying to tax your whiskey.
Rednecks are scary. Rednecks are Presbyterian.
Now. Most of you have no idea what I”m talking about when I say Presbyterian. You”re thinking it’s the plain-vanilla church on the town square run by a pasty-faced pastor named Morrison who speaks twice a week on the virtues of thrift and charity. But I”m not talking about 21st-century namby-pamby Presbyterians.
I”m talking about Cumberland Presbyterians. Hard-shells.
The ones in Tennessee and Texas and that southern part of Ohio that’s in Appalachia.
These are the original rednecks. These are not people who left their cross-timbered homes in South Yorkshire after deciding the Anglican Church was becoming “a bit too Catholic, yes, a bloody shame.” These were people who felt like most churches were a con game. These people hated all the churches. These were people who wanted to be left the hell alone. These are our Angry White Man forebears.
A little history is in order:
The first recorded use of the word “redneck” was in 1830, and it was a sneering remark by our nation’s first female reporter, Anne Royall, who was kind of a bitchy would-be aristocrat, even though she was somewhat of a redneck herself. She had been a house servant for a rich landowner in Sweet Springs, Virginia”what is now West Virginia, middle of nowhere”and she started sleeping with her boss and eventually got him to marry her. He was much older, so when he died, the family made sure she didn”t get any of his money. She then spent the rest of her life (a) trying to get his Revolutionary War pension, and (b) writing travel journals about how uncouth everyone is in the South. So in 1830 she’s in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and she wants to get across how ignorant and worthless the Presbyterians are, and so she calls “em rednecks.
Now. Why would their necks be red? And why would Presbyterian necks be redder than anyone else?
To understand why, you need to pull out your map of the British Isles in the year 1700.
Ready? I call your attention to that part of Ireland called Ulster. Not Northern Ireland. Ulster. It’s not the same thing. Notice that it looks like one of those maps of Antarctica or Saudi Arabia that used to say “Unknown Region” or “Empty Quarter.” This is the part of Ireland that was so wild it had no real boundaries for centuries. It was just “that part up north where everything is out of control.”
If you”re a white human, born and raised in the South, that’s where you”re from”but you”re not really Irish. I”ll explain that later.
So what do we know about the Ulster area of Ireland?
It’s full of pissed off people who own incendiary devices.
That’s our heritage.
Okay, don”t put away the map yet.
Now draw a straight line from Belfast, across the Irish Sea, north of the Isle of Man, to that deep indentation in the British mainland where it looks like some snaggletoothed monster took a giant bite out of the coastline.
That’s where the border between Scotland and England is, and we Angry White Men are also from here. Some of us are Scottish, some of us are English, but all of us are what is known as Lowlanders or border people.
What do we know about Lowlanders? Well, we know that they lived on the border of two countries that hated each other for most of their history, so what does that tell us?
They”re also pissed off, they own firearms, and they like to fight.
And they play fiddles and clog-dance.
But the main thing we know about people from both these areas, Ulster and the Lowland Borders, is that their skin is white.
Their skin is very white.
Their skin is so white they can go to a beach in northern Sweden and they”ll sunburn.
And so when people from these areas work in the sun, their necks don”t tan, they just break out in red rashes like somebody threw measles cooties all over “em.
But that still doesn”t explain why the word “redneck” was considered a putdown.
And that’s all about being Presbyterian.
The first redneck in history is John Knox.
Founder of the Presbyterian Church. Hell-raiser.
Such a badass that, every time he would talk to Mary Queen of Scots, he would make her cry.
I won”t go into his whole history, but just a few of the redneck bona fides of John Knox:
From a small town. (Haddington, in Scotland.)
Always hiding out from the law.
Constantly in and out of jail.
Kicked out of the country twice.
Full of wild ideas that made sense only to him, but he would wallop your ass if you challenged him.
Talked too much.
Thought the Pope was ridiculous.
Thought the English and Scottish monarchs were ridiculous.
Thought the Archbishop of Canterbury was beyond ridiculous.
Believed in the death penalty for all felonies.
Believed in the Second Amendment before there even was a Second Amendment.
Fought in a war on the rebel side.
Involved in at least one riot.
Always pissed off.
Had a Duck Dynasty beard.
And if there’s any doubt he was a redneck…
Took a 17-year-old bride when he was 50 and got her pregnant five times.
He would feel totally at home today in Bogalusa.
Who thought John Knox was cool? The Lowlanders. People who were tired of getting pushed around. People who never got any respect. People who didn”t go to school. Farmers. Brawlers. People who had eight children and wished they could have a bigger family. People who were always refusing to do what the king said. They liked John Knox because he said you didn”t have to read and write to know what God was saying. Besides, if the kings and queens and archbishops all hated him, he automatically qualified as a cool dude.
Now, pay attention, this part is complicated, and I don”t want any letters from aggrieved kilt-wearing gangstas:
John Knox is over in Edinburgh being a troublemaker. The English don”t like him. The Pope doesn”t like him. The Archbishop of Canterbury hates him so much he’s trying to bring him up on charges. The Scottish queen thinks he’s horrid because he refuses to bless her marriage.
But he has all these uneducated scum-of-the-earth followers in the Lowlands, and they”re even harder to control after Knox’s death in 1572 because now you can”t summon the ringleader to the palace and threaten him with prison.
Meanwhile, at the end of the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth is enforcing her presence in Ireland, trying to get rid of the Irish chieftains. She’s constantly fighting with them. And she gets rid of almost all of them.
But the last holdout of the Irish badasses is the Catholic land barons in”of course”Ulster.
These are the equivalent of Catholic serial killers.
She never does conquer Ulster. It takes England till 1607 to finally get rid of all the Irish chieftains in the north, and the ones who are still alive flee to France so they can be Catholic and plot their comeback.
Elizabeth has died by then, and so we have King James managing this mess. You know he doesn”t like Catholics because he translated that Bible that the Catholics hate to this day.
So King James says, “You know what? Let’s kill two birds with one stone. Take all these John Knox followers in the borders and send “em over to Ulster to take over the land we just seized from the Irish chieftains.”
So he basically rounds up the Presbyterians”the farmers, the Lowlanders”and he ships “em over to Ulster, gives “em all the Catholic land, and creates what we now know as…
Some people say Scotch-Irish, but it’s really Scots-Irish. Scotch is a whiskey.
Scots-Irish is a term that is unknown in England or Scotland. My grandmother used it all the time, saying that was our heritage, we were Scots-Irish, and I would say, “Grandma, it’s two different places, it’s either one or the other, Scots or Irish.”
It was years later that I learned why it’s called that. It was Scottish people living in Ireland. Some of them did intermarry with the Irish Catholics, thereby creating some hybrid DNA, but for the most part we”re talking about Lowland Scots surrounded by angry Irish who hate their guts. Plus a few English from the area right there on the west coast of Britain”don”t put up the map yet”called Cumberland. The Cumberland people were fiercely independent, and it was not a good time to be fiercely independent, so they were lumped in with the dyspeptic Scots.
By the way, when Southerners go over to Scotland to return to their roots and buy sweaters, they always go to the wrong place. They go up to the Highlands and watch the bagpipe parades and look for the Loch Ness Monster, when they should be going down to picturesque Carlisle, in the Lowlands, largest city in Cumberland. Carlisle is about as exciting as downtown Akron on a rainy Tuesday morning. Carlisle is actually not even in Scotland. It’s in northern England.
And it’s the traditional capital of Cumberland. Cumberland is known for…nothing. They don”t make movies about Cumberland. The only thing Cumberland is famous for is having the highest mountain in England. Scafell Pike. 3,209 feet. Saying you have the highest mountain in England is sort of like saying you have the warmest climate in Iceland, but they need something for the tourist brochure.
So, if there’s such a thing as an English hillbilly, all of “em are in Cumberland.
Hillbilly, by the way, is a term that wasn”t coined until 1891. All hillbillies are rednecks, but not all rednecks are hillbillies.
There’s gonna be a test on this later, I hope you”re taking notes.
Okay, here’s my point. All these Presbyterian farmers are sent over to Ulster to colonize it”and they don”t like it there any better than they liked it in the Lowlands. For a simple reason: The Catholics are always trying to kill “em. They”re fighting over the land all the time.
So where do they go?
Welcome to Appalachia. America was the first place in the world that could appreciate a redneck.
What is the difference between a “people’s uprising” and “dangerous populism”?
As far as I can tell from trawling the media’s usage of these terms, a “people’s uprising” is often violent, but it never seems to worry the media nor the powers that be.
“Populism,” on the other hand, is framed as a dangerous metastasizing of a rancid, stupid peasantry’s baser instincts. These rubes are so dumb, they are easily manipulated by oligarchs that are only lying to them and don”t really care about them at all. Although it hardly ever manifests in violence, well, you know, many considered Hitler to be a populist, and we all know how that ended, right?
That seems to be why a “people’s uprising” such as Occupy Wall Street”with all the rapes and property destruction and rampant shitting in public places“was largely treated with kid gloves. On the other hand, the Tea Party”which didn”t disrupt traffic or attack people and tended to clean up after itself rather than wipe its ass on the world”was depicted as a violent, resurgent neo-Klan.
Sorry, but the Tea Party was not nearly that exciting.
It would appear that the Powers That Be are much more frightened of populism than they are of people’s uprisings, or they wouldn”t be resorting to such desperate and counterfactual hyperbole.
Most dictionary and encyclopedia definitions of “populism” note that it is a politically indistinct phenomenon and not necessarily left or right. They claim the common theme is one that pits a morally righteous “people” against a hostile and self-serving “elite.”
A writer for The Guardian distinguishes populism’s leftist from rightist strains in that the former depicts “the elite” against everyone (i.e., the 1% v. the 99%), whereas right-wing populism accuses the elite of pitting “the people” against a third group, usually embodied by immigrants and racial or religious minorities.
In my experience, I think the latter model is more realistic. I also think it’s why Donald Trump frightens the establishment to its core. As I”ve noted before, Trump hardly ever mentions race, and I”ve never, no never not once, heard him use the phrase “white people.” If he has, I highly doubt he did so in a direct racial/political appeal to them like modern politicians do to nonwhites all the time. But in merely refusing to bow to progressive pieties”and in daring to state the exasperatingly simple fact that countries have borders”he threatens globalist multiculturalism’s whole scheme of maintaining power by Balkanizing the underlings.
I attended the inauguration on the National Mall, and only a maroon would deny that Trump’s speech featured the populist notion of an elite class that was hostile to the interests of “the people”:
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country….
January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
Almost as if the DNC had blasted the same electronic message to all their microchip brain implants at once, reporters referred to these eminently sensible and hopeful words as “dark,” just as they”d done with Trump’s acceptance speech at the RNC last summer.
France’s socialist president Francois Hollande brought his 4% approval rating with him to warn that Trump represented an ominous wave of “populism and even extremism“ for vowing to return government to the people.
Pope Francis, who apparently expects to meet Karl Marx in heaven, ratcheted up the hyperbole by likening Trump and other European neo-populists to Hitler:
Some of them…take advantage of the fear of the citizenship of an uncertain future to construct a message of xenophobia, of hatred toward the foreigner. The case of Trump is the most striking….It’s what they call the populism.
Jacobin magazine”which takes its name from the wealthy and cloistered intellectuals who helped overthrow the French monarchy and is written by wealthy Marxist True Believers who pose as the vanguard of the modern poor and disenfranchised”chides Trump for his “Faux-Populism,” because only smug smacked asses like these coastal neo-communists understand what’s in the best interests of the degraded racist Rust Belt yahoos who put Trump over the top, and how dare those subhuman hillbillies not listen to their wisdom?
Market Watch sneers at Trump’s “fake populism,” The Atlantic proclaims that “Trump’s Populism Is a Fiction,” and The Washington Post flat-out states that “populism is a lie.”
The Week’s Most Benign, Anodyne, and Asinine Headlines
NEW PRESIDENT SPROUTS WINGS AND SOARS
In his first week as President of These Here United States, Our Glorious Leader Donald J. Trump swept down from Valhalla and accomplished more than most presidents do in a lifetime.
Among his innumerable wonderful and admirable achievements:
“¢ He signed an Executive Order to “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall.”
“¢ He threatened to cut federal funding to “sanctuary cities” that harbor illegal aliens who clean toilets, sell drugs, and rape women.
“¢ He stabbed the Trans Pacific Partnership to death.
“¢ He enacted an immediate federal hiring freeze.
“¢ He called for a “major investigation” into voter fraud during the last election.
“¢ He advanced plans for the Keystone and Dakota pipelines.
“¢ He temporarily blocked all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days. He blocked Syrian refugees indefinitely and barred visa applicants from Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan, thus sparing American citizens from a tremendous influx of body odor.
“¢ He won high holy hosannas from American labor-union chiefs.
“¢ He met with British Prime Minister Theresa May, whereupon they winked at each other and whispered that they would make the Anglosphere great again.
It ain”t vainglorious if it’s great again!
Despite all these monumental achievements, the press attempted to deflect attention by focusing on the size of his inauguration crowd and showing pictures of crying Muslims.
INSANE ACTOR LAUNCHES FOUR-YEAR ANTI-TRUMP “INSTALLATION,” QUICKLY GETS ARRESTED
Shia Laboeuf is a mentally ill thespian who just happens to be Jewish, which you don”t often see in the entertainment industry.
As part of his rapidly escalating and very public mental decline, Labeouf does performance-art pieces where he sits in a tent, wears a paper bag over his head that reads “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE,” and winds up accidentally getting raped by a female attendee.
His most recent art installation is called “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US,” and it consists of a video camera placed outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens that is intended to livestream young progressive zombies blankly chanting the phrase “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” for at least the first four years of the Trump Administration. Some idiot writer for The Week dubbed the whole dumb mess “the first great art of the Trump era.”
On Thursday Labeouf was arrested for physically assaulting a Trump supporter during the installation, whom he of course referred to as a “Nazi,” because as we all know, EVERY Trump supporter is a Nazi. Upon his release from jail, Labeouf went back to his installation and chanted “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” in front of the camera for about another half-hour before running away from reporters into his hotel.
But there’s an even happier ending: Truly the first great art of the Trump era occurred late the other night when a gaggle of fat, middle-aged Trump supporters from Queens hijacked Labeouf’s installation with a hilarious, expletive-laced attack on Labeouf and his entire stupid project.
On 30 March, 1933, the great German recorder of daily life under the Third Reich, Victor Klemperer, noticed a balloon in a toy shop inscribed with a swastika. In my newspaper on 14 January, 2017, I noticed a photograph of a girl aged 8 years old (I should estimate) holding up a banner at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., with the words I am kind, smart and important inscribed on it.
Analogies are never exact, of course, and are easily exaggerated or otherwise misused. The differences between a toy shop in Nazi Germany and a women’s march in Washington are so numerous, obvious, and striking that it is hardly necessary for me to enumerate them. Suffice it to say that I am allergic (metaphorically) to the use of children for the dissemination of political messages, even when the message is one with which I agree. I think it is a form of child abuse, an example of children as a means and not as an end. Poor old Kant would turn in his grave.
The first thing to say about Mr. Trump”against whom the women voluntarily (and children involuntarily) were demonstrating”is that he seems to be doing what is unforgivable in a democratic politician, for it will make life difficult for all the others who come after him: He is keeping, or trying to keep, his election promises. Could anything better prove his complete lack of probity?
Now, of course, this does not in the least prove that what he is doing is right, prudent, wise, or moral: One can, after all, make a bad promise and keep it. The fact that you are keeping a promise does not establish that what you are doing is right. If I promise to punch you on the nose and do punch you on the nose, I cannot use my promise as a moral or legal justification for my action.
But let us return to the abused child in the newspaper photograph. I am sure it was intended to warm the cockles of what pass for the newspaper readers” hearts. She was a pretty little girl well wrapped up against the cold”a little angel, in fact. And how could such an innocent as she hold aloft anything that was other than sweet and generous and, above all, correct?
However, the words inscribed on her banner were such as Uriah Heep himself might have blushed to pronounce: I am kind, smart and important. They are thoroughly odious for a number of reasons, and the parent who devised them for her child to display to the world should be at the very least ashamed of herself (for the words seem to me more likely to have been those of the mother than of the father). These days we teach self-congratulation early; and far from learning that self-praise is no praise at all, children are now taught that self-praise is the highest form possible.
The object of this new teaching is, I suppose, to prevent that most frightful and supposedly damaging of all modern psychological conditions, that of a lack of self-esteem. From being insufficiently puffed-up about oneself all kinds of dire consequences are supposed to flow, from repeatedly choosing the wrong mate to failure to progress in one’s career.
Self-esteem, however, is self-evidently an unpleasant quality, akin if not identical to conceit. Some of the most unpleasant people I have ever known were full of it, and in my experience it is perfectly possible for people to behave like monsters and still have a very high conception of themselves. Indeed, self-esteem is dangerous as a positive invitation to appalling behavior, insofar as it is not derived from any effort, achievement, or good conduct, but is self-awarded as an inalienable right like that to a fair trial.
Does anyone who is kind and clever hold up a banner to the effect that he is kind and clever? To give a child lessons in moral narcissism is a dismal thing to do, as the Oysters said to the Walrus and the Carpenter who were just about to eat them. True, the child did not frame the words on her banner herself, but she was quite old enough to know that something complimentary had been written about her for the whole world to see.
GSTAAD—The snows came tumbling down just as the camel drivers headed back to the Gulf. In fact, they never saw the white outdoor stuff. And a good thing it was, too. The outdoor stuff makes everything look so pretty, the glitzy types might be tempted to return. God forbid. And let them stick to the white indoor stuff.
The problem with Gstaad is the local council. They remind me of the EU: They’re intransigent and shortsighted, and they stick to a losing game. In Brussels they keep passing more and more laws and regulations. In Gstaad they keep putting up their prices and building more and more apartments. As a gentleman with a close association to The Spectator told me, “My son doesn’t come here because there are no young women around.” His son is absolutely right. Unless you’re a hooker or have a very large fortune of your own, Gstaad can be prohibitively expensive. For some of us who prefer girls not for sale, and are weary of women with large fortunes who are used to pushing people around, this can be a problem. Like my South African friends Arnold and Penelope Taylor, with young sons, they head for Wengen, which is as traditional as Gstaad used to be and with a much lower profile.
Never mind. Now that the Donald is president, everything will change in a jiffy. The local council will tear down all the new apartment buildings that remain empty, prices will be slashed by 90 percent, and beautiful debs will be imported from Paris, London, and New York to service some of our young bucks cutting lonely christianias in the virgin snows. Yes, and the interiors of Dubai hotels will soon look like St. James’s clubs.
Otherwise, everything’s hunky-dory. There is a multibillionaires’ club planned on the Eggli mountain, one that will save its ski lift from being shut down. The mauvaise langues insist that the billionaires are all Jewish gents who no longer wish to wait for membership in the Eagle Club. Personally, I don’t agree with the naysayers. Yes, the billionaires are mostly Jewish, but the reason their membership applications have been delayed is that the club is full, and that they’re old and don’t ski. (Nor do they look so good.) It has as much to do with being Jewish as I have to do with the Ecclestone family. Absolutely zero. (Incidentally, I don’t think that Bernie is involved in the project, but I dropped his name just in case.)
Mind you, speaking of being old, I went skiing for the first time this year and it was a bit like Sylvester Stallone doing a Nutcracker ballet solo: embarrassing and comical. A bad fall brought down the final curtain, but I’m going right back up this week to try it again. If I miss next week’s deadline, you can contact me at Saanen hospital, the one they shut down after we had all given thousands to keep it open. Such are the joys of the idle rich. And speaking of them, they were all in Davos last week, men and a few women who have a refreshing lack of interest in appearing to be good people. Well, that is not technically correct. They make all the right noises, but deep down inside they’re all George Soroses: greedy, self-important transnationalists who see national loyalty as an obstacle to their financial ambitions to control everything and everybody.
Theresa May is clearly delighted to be the first foreign leader to meet President Trump and has been trotting out the ritual “Special Relationship” phrase, one that makes many of us cringe with embarrassment. It’s like that other cant boast”that the United Kingdom “punches above its weight”; a preference for illusion rather than the acceptance of reality. Of course, Mrs. May and Mr. Trump have the English language in common, and this makes conversation easier than Mr. Trump will find it with his other “best friend,” President Putin.
They have other things in common also. Mr. Trump has proclaimed his approval of Brexit, and Mrs. May, as a recent convert to the cause, has become an enthusiastic Brexiteer. Indeed, like many converts, she seems to have become “more Catholic than the Pope,” and those who suggest that she embraced Brexit only in order to become prime minister are probably world-weary cynics. Admittedly it’s only seven months ago that she was campaigning on the Remain side in the E.U. referendum, but since she is an honest churchgoing woman, we must assume that, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, she has indeed experienced a life-changing conversion.
Another thing they have in common is that a year ago few would have expected either to be where they are now. Last January the odds were against Mr. Trump entering the White House except as a guest, while nobody then imagined that Mrs. May would be the next leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister. Indeed many thought she was very lucky to have kept the job of Home Secretary when David Cameron formed his new government after the general election in May 2015. But there you are: The dice have fallen, and Mr. Trump and Mrs. May are evidently favorites of Fortune. So they have a good deal to congratulate each other on.
Nevertheless, once the pleasantries have passed, things may become a tad more awkward. Mr. Trump has declared himself to be a protectionist and a critic, if not an open enemy, of globalization. Almost his first act as president has been to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mrs. May, on the other hand, appears to have embraced the Brexiteers” vision of Britain as a global free-trading state, and done so with all the zeal of the convert.
There are difficulties here. By no means did all who voted to leave the E.U. see the future in those terms. Many, especially in the north of England, felt themselves to be victims of globalism, which had destroyed industries and forced unwelcome social change on their towns and cities. They have indeed more in common with Mr. Trump and many who supported him than they have with Mrs. May and the free-market Brexiteers.
Now, there is of course a good case to be made against globalization and in favor of protection. Globalization may indeed make the world richer; it may indeed be helping countries in what we used to call the Third World to emerge from poverty and enjoy rapid economic growth. Few would deny this. There are lots of winners from globalization, and not only in poor or once-poor countries. It’s been good for corporations, it’s been good for banks and corporate lawyers, and it’s been especially good for the profits of manufacturers who have been able to switch production to low-cost economies. Brilliantly successful companies like Apple may design their products in the U.S., but they don”t make them there.
If you”re baffled by a women’s march that excluded thousands of women and was run by an extremist Muslim, well then you “literally just can”t even,” which is basically, like, WHATEVER! This was not a women’s march with any kind of logic behind it. It was an anti-women march, and women participated because they fell for a steaming-hot pile of platitudes. These useful idiots were duped by Islamist Linda Sarsour, who is determined to normalize her extremist culture. It was one of the stupidest marches in the history of modern politics, and it says a lot about where we are as a country. In short, we are a bunch of spoiled ingrates who are so desperate to complain, we will demand rights we already have.
I spent hours on Monday going through signs and trying to find just one salient point. If you take a step back, the only real thing all women have in common is this magical ability to create life. If they were carrying signs that said “We created everyone on earth,” I would say touchÃ© and wish them nothing but the best. They didn”t say that. In fact, to most of the women there, it was about the opposite of making babies. Abortion seemed to consume their agenda, which is baffling because women are evenly split on the abortion issue. A pro-choice society is denying the rights of the other half of women who want to live in a society that recognizes the procedure as murder. Even Sarsour, whose religion forbids abortion, forbade pro-lifers from coming to the event. This is a classic example of taqiya. It is in the best interests of jihad for her to temporarily betray her religion and pretend to be pro-choice.
These contradictions were actually the most rational the march got. The signs got way crazier. “My pussy grabs back” was a common theme. This is based on the fact that Trump thinks you can just grab a woman’s pussy now (he doesn”t) and that a vagina has fingers (equally absurd). Aren”t these women embarrassed by the fact that their entire political ethos is based on a throwaway conversation that took place on a bus eleven years ago? What was basically as relevant as a fart joke is what brings women to Washington to scream, “No, you may not grab my pussy!” Uh, I know. That’s why we made it illegal. I even saw young girls draped in pussy signs. What kind of parent adorns their daughter with a sign that says “This pussy bites back”? Other favorites included “When will you shithead men finally die?!!,” “Fuck you orange Hitler,” “Women are perfect,” “I hate Trump as much as I hate my bra,” and the presumptuous “He thinks I”m sexy and that I can be grabbed. Not my president.” This was a new form of protest I”m going to call “blind activism.” It’s when you go to a march based on nothing but feelz and have no idea why you”re there.
There was also a strange anti-white undertone to the whole thing. I saw a black woman with a sign that said “Don”t forget, white women voted for Trump” (above link). I also saw a white woman with that sign. She was recognizing the damage her fellow white women had done to the country and she was making a public apology. This is how it works with Islam. You start with white guilt, throw on a layer of diversity, and the next thing you know, a Muslim woman is a feminist icon and liberals have been hijacked by “Alt-ISIS.”
Women at the march adorned one another with hijabs. They even put one on a man. Shepard Fairey created the poster for the event, which featured a Muslim woman in an American-flag hijab (yeah, right). The woman in the graphic is tarted up like a whore, which is yet another Islamic contradiction. As Michael Malice recently said, “You can tell that the Koran does not advise you to wear the LancÃ´me counter on your face.” What the hell has all this Muslim propaganda got to do with women’s rights? Are they marching for the girl in Pakistan who was recently burned alive by her mother for shaming the family? Are they marching for this new trend of Muslim women in Nigeria using babies as bombs? Did they express concern about Muslim women being banned from looking up while crossing the road? How about the Yazidi girls sold as sex slaves while these women were marching? No, they were marching because they support all women, especially Muslim women, but not those who are pro-life, which is all Muslim women. What a shitshow.
When it comes to how the right should deal with Hollywood leftism, Andrew Breitbart, much as he did on the night of his passing, took the long way home. He advocated a complex battle-plan to deal with a problem that, it turns out, has a deceptively simple solution. During his life, he worked tirelessly to popularize the phrase “Politics is downstream from culture,” and he never wasted an opportunity to pound that message into the heads of conservatives. As goes the entertainment industry, he would argue, so goes the political landscape. The entertainment biz creates our shared narrative and, as a result, influences how we vote. If the right ever wants to regain the White House, we need to get out there and make movies, TV shows, and popular music. It’s the only way!
This was the dream behind Friends of Abe (which I was a member of for five years), the organization of Hollywood Republicans that Andrew was instrumental in guiding: conservatives making their own entertainment, not so much FUBU (“For Us By Us”), but FYBU (“For You By Us”). Copy the Hollywood model of dishing up entertainment for the masses sprinkled with political propaganda. This was the theory behind not only Friends of Abe but also the Kelsey Grammer-fronted RightNetwork, Glenn Beck’s GBTV, Bill Whittle’s Declaration Entertainment, David Zucker’s An American Carol, and Aubrey Chernick’s PJTV.
Notice a common trait among the entities I just listed? Yep”they all failed miserably. Friends of Abe? Folded last year. GBTV? DOA. PJTV? R.I.P. Grammer’s RightNetwork? Aborted in utero. Declaration Entertainment? Website shuttered. American Carol? Seen by fewer people than Bigfoot. And as each attempt at creating a right-of-center entertainment outlet folded, Hollywood cranked up the volume on its leftist bias to eleven and beyond, inundating the public with an ever-rising flood of left-leaning messages in movies, TV shows, and pop music.
But wait…even with all that Hollywood “interference,” didn”t we just win the last presidential election? Don”t we have the House and Senate, too? Haven”t we also won an unprecedented number of statewide legislative seats and governorships?
I hate to say it, I hate to even suggest it, but what if Andrew was wrong? What if our fight against Hollywood has been nothing more than an obsession with a chimera of our own making? Maybe Hollywood doesn”t have that much influence after all; maybe the public isn”t that impressionable; maybe it turns out politics really isn”t “downstream from culture.” If I live another hundred years, I doubt I”ll ever see the entertainment industry wage the kind of war against a presidential candidate that it waged against Trump. Every stop was pulled out, every heartstring was tugged, every manipulation technique was used, and it didn”t work. Breitbart, Beck, Chernick, Zucker, Whittle, etc., had exerted a great deal of effort trying to create an entertainment infrastructure to counter the Hollywood narrative…and what if it was all a complete waste of time? What if the entertainment industry never had the awesome powers we ascribed to it? What if it turns out that the menace we worked so tirelessly to counter is easily defeated by the cheapest and least time-consuming trick in the book”ignoring it?
I realize that I wrote about Hollywood in last week’s column, and I don”t want to repeat myself, but the issue has remained on my mind, due in no small part to the angry emails I received from some of my few remaining pals in the biz, one of whom lamented the fact that the “nice Jewish boy” she”d known as a child had grown up to become a “skinhead” (okay, I gotta admit, that slur offended me. Not because it’s false”it’s too laughably over-the-top false to be taken seriously”but because, well, “skinhead”? I”m a 48-year-old man with a full, thick head of hair. It’s, like, the only thing about me that’s aged well. Don”t you dare rob me of that!). The main reason I want to revisit the topic is because I think it’s beneficial for conservatives to examine the possibility that some of their most cherished assumptions about entertainment and politics may have been proven false by last year’s election.
It’s easy for conservatives to fall victim to “magical thinking” about celebrities, that they can sway voters with their “star power,” that they can influence ordinary Americans by subtly implanting ideas in their heads, that they can use their money, fame, and charm to encourage average folks to mimic their politics and ideology. I”ve never quite bought that premise. Indeed, I”ve always thought that this belief has its roots in the presence of evangelicalism and Catholicism on the right. If a political ideology has a decent number of adherents who buy into concepts like demon possession and supernatural dark forces that can seep into your mind or soul and force you to do stuff that you otherwise wouldn”t do, it becomes fairly easy to apply that belief elsewhere, like in the notion that Hollywood’s leftism can flow over the nation like a black-magic spell and influence how people vote. If you read any of ultrareligious conservative (and Friend of Abe) Ted Baehr’s “family movie guides,” you”ll find that the books contain not so much reviews as warnings regarding the risk of “soul corruption” posed by the dark supernatural forces released by certain movies. But one needn”t be religious to adhere to the belief that Hollywood influences politics; one need only have an unrealistic concept of Hollywood’s influence and the public’s suggestibility.
Personally, I don”t think people are that impressionable, at least not where movies, TV shows, songs, and celebrities are concerned. A common clichÃ© spouted by the “downstream from culture” crowd goes something like, “If Hollywood doesn”t influence us, why does it spend billions on advertising and publicity for movies?” The argument is, Hollywood execs wouldn”t spend the money if they weren”t certain they”d get results. But anyone who actually knows the business would laugh at that suggestion. Hollywood wastes billions of dollars per year on projects that flop and concepts that never catch on. It’s very much a crapshoot. You can focus-group and test-preview a movie or TV show as much as you want, you can have a P&A budget equal to the holdings of a Swiss bank, and there’s still no guarantee of success. Entertainment-industry leaders have enough difficulty selling the projects from which they earn their living; if they possessed the ability to influence elections at the flip of a switch, if they could control human behavior with that level of assuredness, they”d certainly use that power first and foremost to enrich themselves by never again losing money on another big-budget disaster. The existence of films like John Carter, Pluto Nash, 47 Ronin, and Mars Needs Moms is all the proof one needs that the biz isn”t run by magical wizards.