It’s official: Atheists now occupy a lower place than Muslims in the “progressive stack,” meaning that in the Sacred Church of Equality, Muslims are now considered holier than atheists.
If you doubt my assertion, riddle me this: When was the last time you heard a Muslim accused of “infidelophobia”?
Superstar atheist Richard Dawkins recently had an upcoming radio appearance canceled by a listener-funded radio station in Berkeley, CA, a city whose primary purpose these days is to ban things considered sinful to progressives. In justifying their ritualistic shunning of Dawkins, KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley cited “hurtful” comments from Dawkins such as the time he called Islam “the greatest force for evil in the world,” because apparently even atheists just can”t help themselves from believing in backwards and superstitious notions such as “evil.”
Because it is clearly evil to refer to Islam as evil, the radio station snatched the moral high ground away from Dawkins, who then defiantly snatched it back from them by insisting that rather than being evil, he was absolutely moral for condemning Islam’s litany of evils:
I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims”particularly Muslim women”are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.
That’s tremendously righteous of you, Mr. No God. But the plank in your eye is the fact that you”ve gullibly lied prostrate before pseudo-religious terms such as “misogyny” and “homophobia” and have “strongly condemned” them with all the chest-thumping fervor that religious zealots decry sodomy and faggotry. For all your posturing as a rationalist, your thinking shows a laughable gullibility toward progressive mysticism.
Dawkins is one of the primary movers “n” shakers in what he calls “militant atheism,” which is a phenomenon where people who deny the existence of God become just as evangelical and annoying as the theists whom they decry as their intellectual and ethical inferiors.
Another top dog in the “new atheist” kennel is Sam Harris, whom now-dead atheist neocon Christopher Hitchens once referred to as a “Jewish warrior against theocracy and bigotry of all stripes.” (Perhaps Hitch never pondered that “bigotry” is just a modern way of saying “sin.”)
Harris calls Islam a “motherlode of bad ideas.” Like Hitchens and Dawkins, Harris doesn”t seem to realize that without no God, there can be no evil: “There are gradations to the evil that is done in the name of God,” he says, stealing the right of religionists to define what is good and evil and claiming it for himself. Because he and his Western liberal allies know what is right and wrong, Harris has claimed that it may be an “ethical necessity” to torture terrorists. He has said that “you just can”t have too many Muslims in your culture if you want it to remain enlightened.” In other words, Muslims exist in darkness, while he has seen the light. Sounds mighty religious to me.
He singles out Islam among world religions for its propensity toward violence, so in his warped moral constellation, the only moral way to fight their immoral violence is to be violent toward them. Like Dawkins, Harris seems to believe that quantifiable “morality” can somehow exist in a universe that emerged stillborn out of a meaningless void.
But as self-righteous as Dawkins and Harris are, the strange piety of neo-atheists may prove to be no match for the earth-swallowing sanctimony of the modern progressive left.
An article in The Guardian suggests that neither Dawkins nor Harris has any moral standing vis-Ã -vis Islam since from birth, their souls were stained with the unforgivable sin of being privileged white males.
While accusing both Dawkins and Harris of committing the mortal sin of “Islamophobia,” Salon compares their anti-Islamist invectives to “the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason.”
Forget if you will, just for a moment please, that there is nothing remotely intellectual, rational, or reasonable about the term “racist.” It is merely a word used to demonize people”and thus a religious term.
So where does this leave us earthlings as our little green planet spins around in a vast swirling universe of darkness?
As far as taboos and superstitions regarding religion in 2017 in the United States of America go, here’s the current pecking order:
You can criticize Christianity AND Christians”as much as you want. In fact, you are encouraged to do so. You”re almost considered a heretic if you don”t.
You can criticize Judaism but NOT Jews. A lot of Jews are atheists, so it’s OK to criticize their religion but not them. Don”t say a bad word about Jews. I probably don”t have to tell you this, but I”m reminding you anyway. Lay. Off. The. Jews.
You cannot criticize Islam OR Muslims. If you do either, you are a bad person who must be publicly shamed as a sinner.
The Week’s Rowdiest, Dowdiest, and Cloudiest Headlines
SPERM COUNTS PLUMMET ACROSS THE WEST
It should come as no laughing matter to those who fret about the demographic decline of “The West””a place that is synonymous with “white people””that a recent meta-study finds that over the past four decades, total sperm counts have fallen by nearly 60% “among men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.”
In an academic paper published in the journal Human Reproduction Update, researchers at the (cough) Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at Mount Sinai examined over 7,500 studies from 1973-2011 and concluded that total sperm counts fell 59.3% and sperm concentration plummeted 52.4%.
Kelton Tremellon, a Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Flinders University, reviewed the study and said he was unaware of any similar patterns occurring in Asia, South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. “This suggests an environmental or lifestyle issue specific to Western society,” he told an Australian newspaper. He suggested obesity as the main culprit.
According to study co-author Shanna H. Swan:
This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing. The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend.
Naturally, this news was cause for people who hate “The West””AKA “nonwhite people””to scream with glee. Particularly noxious were the comments of one Mohamed Elmouelhy, head of Australia’s Halal Certification Authority, who posted the following delightful comments on Facebook:
According to the Hebrew University, Australian men [sic] sperm count has declined by 52 per cent over the last 40 years so your men are a dying breed, Australian women need us to fertilise them and keep them surrounded by Muslim babies while beer swilling, cigarette smoking, drug injecting can only dream of what Muslim men are capable of….If the country is left to the bigots the white race will be extinct in another 40 years. Muslims have a duty to make your women happy because you are declining, better go chose [sic] a plot for yourself at your local cemetery. If you can”t afford it, commit suicide it is a cheaper alternative for bigots.
Men of the West, if you don”t find your imminent extinction to be a particularly pleasant concept, it’s time to get off the couch, quit microwaving things in plastic containers, put down the donuts, begin pumping iron, and start fuckin”!
BLACK COLLEGIANS: “ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE RACIST”
At some murky point a generation or two ago when most white people were convinced by the endless bludgeoning of propaganda to stop being racist, did they ever suspect that this well-intentioned but ill-conceived decision would only amplify and multiply the accusation that they were irredeemably racist?
Preston Mitchum“who is so black that sometimes you can only see his teeth in pictures”works at Georgetown Law’s Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), which is a better gig than, say, swatting at flies and eating cow dung somewhere in the Central African Republic. He took to Twitter last week to express his bottomless gratitude for living in a First World country:
If you are black/brown and your activism and advocacy is heavily supported by white people, you”re likely doing it wrong….Yes, ALL white people are racist. Yes, ALL men are sexist. Yes, ALL cis people are transphobic. We have to unpack that. That’s the work!
(By the way, the nominal yearly per-capita GDP in the Central African Republic is $400, and the average life expectancy for a male at birth is 45 years.)
At England’s once-prestigious Cambridge University, a black male student with an aggressively unpronounceable name and who heads the school’s Black and Minority Ethnic Society said that it was “absolutely delicious” to see blacks riot on London’s East End and how he gobbled up “middle-class white despair” over the sad spectacle. He, too, insisted that all white people are bigoted demon-monsters:
ALL white people are racist. White middle class, white working class, white men, white women, white gays, white children they can ALL geddit.
Oh, we”re starting to “geddit””maybe not all of us, and maybe not in the way that you think.
TRUMP BANS THE TRANS
Only a fool would deny that Trump’s presidency is easily the most dramatic in American history, and we”re barely past the six-month mark, so grab the popcorn and oil your guns. Last week saw senile warmongering old coot John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer just in time to return to Congress and block a repeal of Obamacare. It also saw the president finally send suspected leaker Pee Wee Herman packing.
But Trump triggered the most outrage by banning dudes who think they”re chicks from the armed forces, leading a writer for salon.com to accuse him of “persecuting transgender Americans” by “shamelessly exploiting bigotry in an effort to keep himself in office.”
Whoa, hold your horses there, Nelly”we see how well it worked out when the US Army was pathologically tolerant toward Bradley Manning’s gender delusions.
Then again, one would have to be a small-fingered, tiny-brained, insane bigot to oppose sending into battle a group of chronically suicidal and unstable PTSD cases who want to slash their wrists and drink bleach at the mere thought of someone using the wrong personal pronoun.
WALMART’s ONLINE STORE DESCRIBES HAIR-CARE PRODUCT AS “NIGGER BROWN”
We always thought Nigger Brown was the name of a 1970s blaxploitation flick starring Fred Williamson and Pam Grier, but boy, were we wrong!
Instead, it’s apparently a color.
The shade of some sort of newfangled African American hair-maintenance contraption known as a “netting weave cap” was described as “nigger brown” in an ad for retail titan Walmart’s website. After the inevitable outrage erupted, Walmart censored The Most Offensive Word in the English Language and issued a statement saying it was “very sorry and appalled” that this ever happened and blamed a “third party seller” for the hilarious racial mishap.
I am surfing along the Cycladic islands on a 125-foot classic that was launched in 1929 by John Alden and has remained among the most beautiful sailing boats ever: Puritan. Everything on board is original, including the MoMC, my two grandchildren, and my son. I boarded her at Porto Heli, where the granddaughter of Aleko Goulandris was married last week in a two-night bash I shall not soon forget. It was a mixture of young and old, Marietta Chandris being in her very early 30s, the groom the same age. I was among the oldest people there, a repeat performance that is getting me down sooner rather than later. I made up for it by getting so drunk even the youngest among the crowd of 500 were embarrassed. And the crowd was a good one, the last hurrah of Athenian society, not a celebrity or Kardashian or Hilton among us. All the Greek royals were present, Greek industrialists and shipowners, plus the king and queen of Holland and German nobility. It would have been a paradise for name-droppers, the trouble being they were conspicuously absent. Michael and Loula Chandris, the parents of the bride, put on a hell of a bash, with yours truly getting off to a slow start because Loula’s father, Aleko Goulandris, was such a close friend and it was on his property that the party took place. I hadn’t been inside since his death, and it took a strong drink to lift me from sad thoughts.
There were two gate-crashers on both nights, Taki and Maria, ages 11 and 9, but apparently they were so adorable dancing and showing off, people actually applauded them. My, my, I had to have two show-offs for grandchildren, didn’t I? What I appreciated was the lack of dressing down by the guests, a horrible habit practiced by so-called power players in order to look cool. This calculated “schlubbiness” has also infected Greece, but it was absent at the parties. Relaxed does not mean looking like a slob, and relaxed was the theme on the second night. The first was dark blue and neckties. Not one black motorcycle jacket over a white T-shirt was seen, a fact I thanked the god of fashion for, whoever he might be.
I know, I know, I sound prissy, don’t I? But have you ever seen modern tycoons in skinny jeans and cargo shorts and puffed-up muscles they couldn’t use to beat their way out of a wet paper bag? Can you picture Jeff Bezos in full flow, his ugliness and bald head outshining his $87 billion? It is a horrible sight. Casual now spells disgusting, and no one looks more disgusting than power players playing down their power by dressing down their armor in very expensive rags.
One of the saddest sights I can imagine is of an old skirt-chaser sailing peacefully along with his family and with no pussy in sight. I am ashamed to admit this, but family outings can be almost as much fun. First of all, there is far less partying on board. The MoMC stopped my son and me from getting loaded the day after the night before by reminding us how much sailing we had to do that night to reach Serifos and then Paros. We followed her advice—orders would be closer to the truth—and enjoyed a great crossing.
The crew is multinational. An Italian captain, a Russian female cook, and a Russian stewardess. Both Russkies are not only pretty but very, very good at their jobs. A South African, a Kiwi, an Aussie, and an Englishman make up the rest. Puritan is easy to handle, with a flatter sheer and more freeboard amidships, longer ends, a smaller transom, and less spoon to the bow. The mainsail is quite large and she has heavy gaffs and running backstays. She was launched the day the stock market crashed back in 1929. Ouch! A Mr. Curtis rang to cancel the order, but a Mr. Brown substituted on time. Puritan served as a U.S. Navy vessel on the Pacific on the lookout for Japanese U-boats, but I am reliably told that she never managed to get any of my beloved Japanese boats sunk. In turn, Puritan was purchased by some shady Peruvian people who may have used her in shadier transportations of drugs. I have looked deep into the bilges trying to find some of that Peruvian marching powder, but have come up with nothing. She has since been rehabilitated by rich owners who have turned her into a true classic marvel of a boat, and while sailing I can relive the way she was once sailed by gentle people during the ’30s.
I plan to sail for two weeks, visit lots of old friends, and drink the minimum unless the company is good, which then becomes the maximum, and while the MoMC leaves the boat for ten days, I will look for Miss Perfect. She must be around the Greek isles. The Riviera is a shithole and the Hamptons have the lamest sailing in the history of lame sailing. Please, Miss Perfect, come and visit the poor little Greek boy aboard Puritan. You won’t regret it. Pretty please!
Mr. McDonnell, deputy leader of the British Labour Party, which for the time being is in opposition, recently objected to the presence of hereditary peers in the “upper” house of Britain’s Parliament, using the crude and vulgar language typical of populist politicians anxious to demonstrate their identity with the people or the masses. (It is strange, by the way, how rarely leftists who are in favor of confiscatory economic policies are condemned as populist, when they appeal mainly to envy, spite, and resentment, those most delightful of all human emotions.)
Speaking for myself”the only person for whom I am fully entitled to speak”I would rather be ruled (at least in the modern world) by the Duke of Northumberland than by Mr. McDonnell; and this is for perfectly rational reasons and not, as might be supposed, from any feeling of nostalgia for a world we have lost.
Unlike Mr. McDonnell, the Duke of Northumberland does not feel that he has to make the world anew, all within his lifetime”or rather within his political lifetime, a period that is even shorter. He knows that the world did not begin with him and will not end with him. As the latest scion of an ancient dynasty going back centuries, he is but the temporary guardian of what he has inherited, which he has a duty to pass on. Moreover, as someone whose privileges are inherited, he knows that his power (such as it is) is fragile in the modern world. He must exercise it with care, discretion, and consideration.
Contrast this with Mr. McDonnell, should he ever reach power. He will mistake the fact that he has come to power by legitimate means for sovereignty. For him, vox populi, vox dei. And since he, or his party, will be the recipient of the most votes, albeit far from those of a majority of the electorate, he will regard himself as entitled to do all that he promised and a great deal besides. The fact that he will be sovereign for only a few years at most will only increase the urgency, one might say the fury, with which he acts: For him, it will be now or never, and it is easy to wreck an economy in a few months. As every private landlord knows, a tenant can do more damage in a day than a year’s rent will pay to repair.
The average citizen, therefore, has much more to fear (again, I speak of the present time, not of the Middle Ages) from a politician who imagines he has attained power because of his own virtues than from an aristocrat who knows that he owes his position to an accident of birth. Of course, aristocrats can be arrogant, disdainful of the commonalty, and so forth, though in modern circumstances they are not likely to be such; however, human character is unpredictable”anything is possible and perfection not to be looked for.
But successful politicians are arrogant ex officio, almost; arrogance is a precondition of their success, at least in any large-scale polity. The promise to do nothing much, to be but a modest continuator of his country’s life, work, and tradition, is not likely to appeal to an electorate that demand the sun, the moon, and the stars from politicians, and will vote for him who bribes it best. The modern politician’s sense of entitlement and moral authority makes the average modern aristocrat seem humility itself.
Moreover, the Duke, having been brought up among beauty”both natural and man-made”is more likely to value it; a politician such as Mr. McDonnell is likely to see in it only manifestations of past injustice. That is, perhaps, one reason why social democracy, so-called, has so little valued the preservation of beauty in the past, or rather has worked so hard to destroy it: For if not everyone can live in beauty, no one shall. It is surely no coincidence that, at any rate in Europe, nothing that has been built under social democracy’s regime has any aesthetic merit whatsoever, rather the contrary. Even our architecture breathes resentment and spite.
For all the above reasons, I would prefer to take my chances with the Duke of Northumberland than with Mr. McDonnell. It does not worry me in the least that I, of humble extraction, am irredeemably low in the social hierarchy compared with the Duke, to whose great social heights I cannot aspire. It is more important to me that I should be left alone and treated with justice than that I should feel myself equal to a duke; and a system that includes the Duke is more likely to offer me what I want than one in which I have to face Mr. McDonnell completely naked, as it were.
In the first chapter of Shadows of Empire, a novel I wrote twenty years ago, an old shipbuilder and shipping magnate, in conversation with his grandson, my narrator, speaks up in 1906 for Free Trade. “Glasgow,” he says, “was built on Free Trade. So was the Empire. Protection””then being advocated by Joseph Chamberlain”is “wrong in principle and wrong in practice. We depend for our prosperity on the Free Market in goods, with no restrictions and no tariffs.” Free Trade, he says “enriches everyone.”
Free Trade did indeed work very well for Britain in the 19th century. As the first industrialized economy, Britain enjoyed a competitive advantage, especially since the removal of tariffs on imported food enabled employers to keep wages down. Nevertheless by the end of the 19th century, things were less rosy; Britain had already been overtaken by the USA and Germany, competitors who built up their industrial might behind tariff walls. Moreover while the opening of the American prairies and the development of refrigerated meat-transporting ships provided Britain with cheap food, British agriculture suffered. One-third of arable land in England went out of cultivation between 1870 and 1914. If the dreams of global Britain are realized, this might happen again.
It’s not too difficult”in theory, anyway”to get rid of tariffs, but that’s only a first step toward Free Trade, though one that will always be bitterly resented by those sectors of an economy that benefit from tariff Protection, and there are always some. In any case tariff-free trade isn”t necessarily fair trade. It may indeed be decidedly unfair, if it permits and enables countries with an undervalued currency to dump production in excess of their own domestic needs on other markets. Hence, for example, the resentment provoked, and the damage done to native producers, by China’s cheap export-steel policy. Here you have to weigh the balance between the benefit of cheap steel to the American or British construction industry against the severe damage done to home producers, some of whom, unable to compete on price, are hounded into bankruptcy. Free Trade may overall enrich a country, as my veteran Glasgow shipbuilder asserted, but there are always losers. There are enough losers in the USA from NAFTA to make that deal very unpopular in some quarters.
Tariffs, however, are only one part of any Free Trade deal, and these days on account of the low tariffs ordained by the World Trade Organization not the most important part, though probably the easiest to negotiate. There are other, more difficult aspects: questions of intellectual property, of ensuring standards of production and acceptable labor practices, fair pricing, competition rules, the permissible level of Government support for sectors of the economy. All these are matters”and there are other ones”that require some degree of regulation and the creation of an acceptable judicial authority powerful enough to outlaw certain practices and punish those who transgress them. Much progress has been made in these areas within the Single Market of the European Union, in which the European Court of Justice acts as an effective protection against breaches of the rules. When Brexit has become a reality”as it surely will”the United Kingdom will find itself for years engaged in making bilateral deals with other countries and trading blocs, deals requiring the settlement of such matters in a manner agreeable to both parties in the negotiation.
Most of us here agree that PC has taken over, but it’s worth doing a random sampling to see how true that is. What I learned will surprise you. It might not be as ubiquitous as you think.
Political correctness has been around since the 1990s, but as Jim Goad points out, back then it was only on the fringes. We had “separatist lesbians” who were working on creating a society without men. I remember them. They wouldn”t shake your hand because it was bad for the movement. They were also freaks nobody had heard of.
Today it seems like they could run for office. They certainly wouldn”t look unusual in Europe. Everywhere you look, far-left politics has infiltrated the mainstream, especially in pop culture. You can”t turn on the TV without a black neurosurgeon talking to a female Secret Service agent who’s a single mother of two. When they cut to a #cuckmercial it’s some bumbling dad trying to figure out how to open a can while his long-suffering wife rolls her eyes. The racial ambiguity is getting ridiculous too. Aren”t there any white people on TV anymore? The last couple I saw in a commercial was a white woman with a half-Asian husband. They had four kids who all looked racially accurate, which must have been a casting nightmare. I worked in advertising. Getting kids who can act is a hassle. Finding quarter Asians who can act is usually cost-prohibitive.
I decided to try to quantify this. It’s easy to say “PC is ubiquitous,” without any metrics. Ubiquitous means “all things at all times” so, unless you”re God, you”re left with no choice but to choose a random sample of American culture to prove your point.
I decided to watch America’s Got Talent and focus on the commercials. What I learned was, I am completely wrong about PC taking over absolutely everything. I was letting one #cuckmercial stick in my craw and then ignoring everything that came before and after it. It’s like those guys who think they”re good at blackjack. They let selective memory push out all the failures and focus on the few times they”ve won. I was stunned to discover, commercials still seem to understand the free market and that pitching to nasty women who resent men isn”t good for business.
I”m not saying PC isn”t completely out of control. It has completely subsumed most mainstream media and all of Hollywood. I”m just saying that within this tiny litmus test, I was very surprised to notice I had completely exaggerated the problem in my own mind.
There were 42 commercials during the July 25 episode of America’s Got Talent on NBC from 9 to 10 p.m. It was only 15 minutes of advertising, but most of the commercials were 15 seconds long. Diversity was not rammed down our throats. Amazon’s Alexa had a black dad goofing around with his daughter and then asking her what action movies are playing. The odds of that dad sticking around are one in four, but that’s the guy you want to advertise to.
The rest of the people cast in the commercials were totally indicative of America’s racial demographics. In a Pringles ad, we saw an ethnically ambiguous chick bite a chip and there may have been some Hispanics running into a chip tube in the background, but the three faces we saw most clearly were all white. Mazda had a couple test-drive two cars and they were both white. A white guy learned from a clone of himself that his Discover card was going to start sending him alerts if his card was being charged by a weird website. Neither of himselves were idiots and they handled this news well. There was a mathlete chick in a Staples ad who was sort of Asian but could also have been Hispanic or a very light-skinned black. This wasn”t your typical competitive math kid. These groups are usually male and mostly Asian, but they always seem to have one chick. Staples chose her. That’s fine. We also saw a slightly confused man who had trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that everything at Lowe’s was 5 percent off. A female East Indian employee had to explain it to him, but he was kind of charming about it and she didn”t demean him.
There were plenty of commercials that enforced traditional stereotypes. A Samsung Galaxy ad featured two pretty girls (ethnically ambiguous with a slight white bent) staring at shoes. They wanted to find out where to buy them and the Samsung girl was able to look it up quicker. These girls then went dancing and took selfies and then jumped in the pool (for a selfie). It was a world most college feminists would be disgusted by. A Secret antiperspirant ad featured women in bell-bottoms showing off their armpits in a way that seemed to lampoon first-wave feminism. One girl showed off her armpits and added, “I have another one right here,” like an attack on all these unkempt feminists who think their hirsute underarms mean anything.
In a T-Mobile ad, a snarky babysitter overcharges a couple. She added $10 because she had to order a pizza and she taught the kids to groom the dog. The son is asleep on the pizza and the daughter is cutting huge clumps off her dog. This incompetent slut is wearing the mom’s shoes. She mentions that she’s her size, then looks at the woman’s figure and adds, “In shoes.” This isn”t the Lisa Simpson archetype where girls can do no wrong and most of what they do is endure the stupidity of the men around them. This is a stupid bitch who can”t even handle one of the easiest jobs in the world. Another Alexa ad had a woman reminding herself to clean under the couch, and a third had some gluttonous cow canceling a reminder to take the cookies out of the oven because she had eaten them all raw. It sounds almost sexist to lay out these different scenarios, but that’s because we”ve been brainwashed to see reality as sexist. Ask a doctor how his patients react when he tells them they”re going to have a lot of trouble having babies in their late 30s. They act like he just told them they need to lose a few pounds (which he’s also allowed to do, by the way).
Poor Chris Hughes. Poor, poor, insanely rich Chris Hughes.
The Facebook cofounder is the Bertie Wooster of digital philanthropy. Ever of good heart and dumbfounded by his moneyed position, Hughes is always looking to give the world a helping hand through whatever harebrained schemes pop out of the blond mop on his head.
The problem is, his would-be Jeeves is just as hapless as him.
Back in 2014, Hughes” husband, Sean Eldridge, attempted a run at Congress from New York’s 19th congressional district. Having picked up sticks and moved miles north of NYC for the purposes of running, the liberal Eldridge, whose only political experience was as an ambitious activist for gay marriage, got creamed by his Republican opponent by 30 points despite outspending him by a ratio of 3″1.
And this was in a district former president Obama won in 2012.
This ignominious loss couldn”t have come at a worse time. When Eldridge was getting his dapper ass handed to him, Hughes was busy squandering the reputation of one of America’s oldest and most venerable weeklies, The New Republic. Hughes purchased the liberal magazine back in 2012, but it wasn”t until two years later that he forced out (basically fired) respected editor Franklin Foer and illustrious literary editor Leon Wieseltier, inciting an exodus of writers and contributors.
Foer and Wieseltier played the part of Moses and Aaron to Hughes” pharaoh. With the masthead largely cleared and its reputation shot, Hughes sold the magazine last year.
All this gets to Hughes” latest endeavor. A stack of humiliations isn”t enough to keep a Silicon Valley giant down. He still wants to give back to a country that has given him so much. So, with his own unique knack for self-embarrassment, Hughes authored a book on his own failings, tentatively titled We Should All Be So Lucky: Notes on Fortune, Hard Work, and the Basic Income.
Part autobiography, part liberal policy prescription, the gist of the tract is that Hughes doesn”t deserve the obscene amount of money bursting out of his bank account, and thus, poor Americans deserve a bigger handout from the government.
The book opens with Hughes deciding how much stock to sell in front of Wall Street investors not long after Facebook went public. “Despite all that, it’s hard not to feel like a bit of a fraud sitting here stressing about how many shares to sell and how many to keep,” he writes. “I worked hard, but three years of work does not justify the hundreds of millions of dollars I”m about to receive.”
You can say that again, Hughey.
I”ll be the first to admit that millennials who make their fortune in tech don”t deserve the gobs of dough showered upon them. That goes double for Hughes. By all accounts, he’s the luckiest man alive. The Washingtonian compares him to Ringo Starr, jumping onto the Beatles train just as Pete Best got off. I don”t find the comparison accurate: Ringo wrote “Octopus’s Garden,” as fine a song as any within the Fab Four’s oeuvre.
Hughes” blessed status comes from him being in the right place at the perfectly right time, namely the same dorm room as Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz as they laid the coding groundwork for what’s become America’s most connected community.
Hughes lacked the technical know-how to create Facebook. He just so happened to be the least Aspie-ish of the original crew, which required less than zero talent. For fielding reporter questions and performing general PR tasks, Hughes took a $700 million cut when all was said and done.
So, yes, the scrawny, pale Harvard student with no technical skills becoming a Facebook multimillionaire does translate into being the luckiest man in all history.
The psychic burden of making bank off nothing understandably got to Hughes. Instead of retiring at 25 and kicking back with mai tais on the Caribbean coast, he went into liberal activism. His stint helping digitally organize the Obama “08 campaign was, contrary to a glowing Fast Company profile, not nearly as laborious as it’s made out to be.
Back in 2014, I ended my Taki’s review of Christopher Nolan’s ambitious but imperfect Interstellar by suggesting that his blockbuster-every-two-years schedule was too rapid even for a writer-director of Nolan’s talents. (Likewise, Nolan’s 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises had also suffered fit-and-finish problems.) But, I concluded:
If the next Nolan movie takes until 2017 or 2018 to perfect, I”ll be there the day it comes out.
So I was there on opening day for 2017’s most anticipated film, Dunkirk, Nolan’s account of the British Army’s narrow escape from the beaches of northern France in the spring of 1940.
Not only has Dunkirk benefited from Nolan taking a few more months than he did on his last several movies, but he has also solved most of my other complaints about his films. Even his impressive 2010 hit Inception suffered from Nolan’s tendencies toward excessive length, overintellectualized complication, and claustrophobia.
If Nolan’s features did only as well at the box office as, say, the Coen brothers” movies, I”d be inclined to downplay his flaws and instead offer eloquent defenses of Nolan’s artful airlessness and propensity to ramp up the cognitive demands of even a Batman movie.
But his films have been so successful, with four grossing over $675 million worldwide, that Nolan’s virtues hardly need my articulation. Moreover, the director does well with critics, too. In a recent Guardian poll of reviewers to anoint the best films of the new century, Nolan tied for first place among directors with three top 100 movies (Memento, Dark Knight, and Inception).
As a non-fantasy and non-sequel film with zero American actors, Dunkirk won”t do Dark Knight-level box office. But Dunkirk may eventually surpass Get Out‘s $175 million and become the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee of this year. A film that is both popular and superb is exactly what audiences need in the midst of a dismal year at the movies.
It’s rare for an extremely successful director like Nolan to fix his own foibles when he’s not under economic duress. (Nolan is alleged to be the current highest-paid director, with a $20 million salary plus 20 percent of the gross for Dunkirk.)
But Dunkirk repairs most of Nolan’s stereotypical failings, with the exception of his trademark inaudible dialogue. In this case, Nolan has several excuses for why his lines are hard to hear:
First, World War II was extremely loud.
Second, most of the British enlisted men had regional accents that are baffling to American ears. (Fortunately, Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh pops up occasionally as the Royal Navy’s pier-master to explain what’s going on in his high-class, high-bandwidth, once-more-unto-the-breach tones.)
And, best of all, Nolan does such a good job of showing that he barely needs to tell.
Nolan overcomes his usual tendency toward inducing a feeling of confinement in his viewers by filming on location at Dunkirk’s immense flat beach where the northwest edge of the European continent meets the Atlantic Ocean. (Claustrophobia remains a theme of Nolan’s, however: A couple of soldiers plucked from ships sunk by the Luftwaffe refuse to go below decks on their rescuers for fear of being trapped when the new vessel goes down.)
Dunkirk is only 106 minutes long, while Nolan’s previous four movies averaged 158 minutes. Heck, Dunkirk is 34 minutes quicker than the current War for the Planet of the Apes.
To do this, Nolan has stripped out traditional ingredients such as character backstory, motivation, and development. The central character, a very young soldier named Tommy (presumably for Tommy Atkins, the British equivalent of G.I. Joe), is merely trying to get home to survive.
Once again Nolan, a fan of philosophical fiction author Jorge Luis Borges, employs paradoxes about time. But this time, Nolan’s obsessions make his movie simpler to enjoy.
Dunkirk consists of three interwoven stories running at different velocities:
On the land, the tale of the defeated soldiers lining up to await a sealift home plays out over one week;
On the sea, a civilian yachtsman (Mark Rylance at his understated there”ll-always-be-an-England best) sails to the rescue over the course of one day;
And in the air, the RAF fighter pilots (led by Tom Hardy wearing an oxygen mask rather like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) try to provide air cover with only enough fuel for one hour.
The three stories come together in a giant set-piece encounter in the English Channel. Nolan has lowered the cognitive demands of his film by adding huge amounts of redundancy, with the same events replayed again and again from different angles until you finally understand what happened in all its cruel magnificence.
This isn”t the usual Rashomon-style retelling of a plot from conflicting perspectives. Instead, it’s more like sports broadcasting, such as showing multiple replays of that Tom Brady”to”Julian Edelman completion in this year’s Super Bowl.
Dunkirk represents redundancy lifted to an art form.
Critics have tried to position Dunkirk as anti-Brexit or anti-Trump. For example, Stephanie Zacharek in Time can”t be restrained from preaching that of course the director shares her enthusiasm for today’s increasingly Third World England, and it’s only the cruelties of England’s shamefully nondiverse history that prevented Nolan from filling Dunkirk with Rotherham Pakistanis:
The casting of “Dunkirk” is near perfect…. The picture is filled with great English faces. But to call them characteristically English faces is wrong. Remember, they”re supposed to be the faces of men who lived more than 75 years ago. Today, the face of England”like that of France or any other European country”is much more racially mixed. Love of country comes with no color or birthplace attached. Nolan doesn”t address that idea directly”the story of Dunkirk is almost exclusively about white men, something that can”t be changed after the fact.
In the future, of course, white men can be dealt with.
In reality, Dunkirk is a nationalist masterpiece. The Anglo-American Nolan (his father is English, his mother American) is an English nationalist, a reactionary elitist slightly to the left of Viscount Castlereagh and slightly to the right of the Duke of Wellington. (Interestingly, Nolan’s younger brother and sometimes collaborator Jonathan Nolan of Westworld fame is more of an American nationalist.)
I hate Hollywood. To me, the entertainment industry ranks right up there with rectal cancer on the list of the worst things in the world. And no, not because the biz is a CIA MKUltra Illuminati front (or however that theory goes), but rather because Hollywood attracts truly horrible people. The worst people I know are in the business (sadly, so are the most attractive women), so nothing makes me happier than watching Hollywood leftists browbeat each other bloody.
Last week, mediocre filmmaker and nepotism poster child Sofia Coppola found herself the target of a band of angry SJWs (yes, I realize “angry SJW” is redundant) with way too much time on their hands (again, redundant). Coppola is currently promoting her newest film, an adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s 1966 novel The Beguiled. In Coppola’s version, the book’s two black characters, a slave girl and a mixed-race woman passing as white to avoid slavery, have been excised. The race hustlers claim that by eliminating the book’s only two black characters, Coppola has committed the sin of “whitewashing.” In an essay published by IndieWire, Coppola explained that she”d never been comfortable with the fact that Cullinan, a white author, had “given voice” to black slaves, so she heroically removed the characters to right a racial wrong. See what she did there? “I removed the black characters because whites shouldn”t write about blacks, so in a way, I”m the hero.” Clever, clever move; play one SJW fetish (“Hollywood needs more black characters”) against another (“whites cannot be entrusted to tell “our” stories”). I haven”t seen a wop so effectively bamboozle an adversary since Michael Corleone took on Senator Geary.
As if on cue, another group of diversity vultures began attacking Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss because their next project for HBO will apparently involve black characters that are slaves. “How dare white men write dialogue for black slaves,” the SJWs cried (for the record, some of these are the same activists who just a week earlier protested Coppola for not retaining slave characters written by a white man). Official Certified Luckiest Man Alive John Boyega, the dull-featured black hero of the new Star Wars films, threw gasoline on the fire by attacking Game of Thrones for not having any characters of color (except that it, like, totally does). Responding to the outrage, HBO assured a nervous world that there would indeed be black producers on Benioff and Weiss” upcoming show (whew!).
These two consecutive controversies shared the same basic theme: In the world of creative writing, can a person of one race write characters of another? And if they can, should they? It’s not a new debate…in fact, it reaches back to long before people were using terms like “SJW” or “white privilege.” The recent controversies took me back to 1994, and my introduction to Hollywood’s favorite “white” black writer.
It was September 1994, and I was a featured speaker at the Institute for Historical Review’s international Holocaust revisionist conference. My speech was scheduled to close out the festivities on the final day. The night before, while holding court at the bar of the hotel where the event was taking place (which in retrospect strikes me as odd, as I never drank back then), I was approached by a portly young gentleman who introduced himself as David Mills of The Washington Post. I was quite familiar with his work, and a huge fan. His 1989 interview with anti-Jewish “rapper” Professor Griff briefly caused the group Public Enemy to disband, his 1992 interview with “Sister Souljah” led to one of Bill Clinton’s defining campaign moments, and his thorough and meticulous piece about Jews and slavery had angered both the Nation of Islam and the ADL. I told Mills that it was a pleasure to meet him. Then I began stammering, “But…I thought…I thought you were…” He took pity on me and finished my sentence. “You thought I was black. Well, I am.”
“But mixed, right?”
He pulled out his wallet and showed me a photo of a dark-skinned black couple. “These are my parents…and I”m not adopted.”
“Well, bugger me like an Arab’s goat,” I replied. “Ain”t that something.” I mean, the guy looked perhaps Mediterranean or faintly Hispanic. But full-on black? It was hard to believe.
We talked for several hours. He”d been sent by the Post to find something incriminating, something “Nazi,” at the conference. Instead, he found me. The next day, he showed up for my speech. As the conference adjourned, he told me that he”d soon be relocating to L.A. to write for TV. We exchanged numbers and shook hands. Once he left, I broke down laughing. I told my girlfriend that the guy was out of his mind. TV writing is an almost impossible business to break into. If he thinks he can effortlessly transition from journalism to network television in a matter of months, he’s out of his mind.
Another legendary Cole miscalculation. See, there were doings afoot. Just a few weeks after the conference, iconic TV producer and writer David Milch, of Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue (and later, Deadwood) fame, had told students at a writing seminar that he didn”t think black writers have the same range as their white counterparts. Blacks, he asserted, are not very good at writing about anything other than the “black experience.”
Needless to say, this became a news story. And ABC, which had no desire to see the creative force behind one of its biggest hits banned from TV, told Milch in no uncertain terms, Hire a black writer immediately so we can make this shitstorm go away! The network PR department crafted a “meet cute” story about how Mills wrote Milch a long letter asking for the opportunity to prove him wrong about black writers, and Milch, remorseful over his bigoted comments, decided to give the kid a chance. But Mills, who by now had become a close friend of mine, confided in me that the real story was that ABC forced Milch’s hand. And Milch”arguably one of the finest creative minds in the business”enjoyed a wicked in-joke, so he hired the whitest black man he could find (and one whose name was practically the same as his own). David Milch mentored David Mills, and soon he began entrusting every racially themed episode of NYPD Blue to his new protÃ©gÃ© (most notably the infamous 1996 “nigger” episode).
Mills soon became the black writer with whom everyone in the biz wanted to work. NBC hired him away from ABC because the network wanted a writer with a “black sensibility” to contribute to its hit series ER (Mills” ER scripts overflowed with stereotypical black characters, like a magical black street preacher and a ghetto kid who’s a secret genius). Mills also became executive producer of The Corner, the all-black HBO miniseries about the West Baltimore drug trade. Mills knew he was being pigeonholed as the “nigger episode” guy, but the money was just too good. Not that he totally lost his love of nonfiction. In summer “95, he accompanied me to a dinner with Jared Taylor and the IHR’s Mark Weber. Mills, much like Taylor, was still most at home when discussing, and debating, issues of race, and the two gents had a back-and-forth of biblical proportions that night.
NEW YORK”Stop saying dystopian.
The next person who uses this word gets a Billy Jack leg whop to the right side of his face.
Donald Trump is not dystopian. There’s nothing dystopian happening.
Who started this?
Dystopian would require a mastermind. There’s no mastermind.
Dystopian would require, at the very least, a plan. There’s no plan.
Stop saying The Handmaid’s Tale is “a dystopian parable for the Trump era.” The Handmaid’s Tale is about a totalitarian theocracy. Donald Trump is (a) too lazy to be a dictator, and (b) too fond of golf to go to church. You would have to recruit somebody much more fiery-eyed and committed to that particular nightmare”Warren Jeffs, maybe, or that Scientology guy. In The Handmaid’s Tale traditional marriage is compulsory”tell that to Marla Maples.
And while we”re on the subject, who picks up the paper in the morning and turns to the family over breakfast and says, “Well, obviously he’s moving this nation toward the same sort of glassy-eyed obedience that led to HITLER!“
Hitler? Mussolini? Big Brother?
REALLY? If Leni Riefenstahl were hired to film the Trump brownshirts”the Trumpstaffel?“she would have to constantly yell at the Waffen Grenadiers to remain in formation and not wander across the South Lawn playing mumblety-peg. If you look up the word “motley” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of the people surrounding Trump.
I”ve been living here in the capital of East Coast hysteria for quite a few years now, but I”ve never seen anything quite like this. They used to say wild things about George Bush, too, many of them framed in aspersions toward my native Texas. Well, people, what state did Donald Trump come from?
Recently all the indie movie theaters, including three in New York, had a “national screening day” for 1984, the rather uninspired Michael Radford adaptation of George Orwell’s novel that came out in 1984. All the proceeds were donated to the American Civil Liberties Union because, you know, they”ll need the money when the jackbooted thugs come to kill the babies. Meanwhile, a stage version of 1984 opened on Broadway, featuring a climactic torture scene so bloody and vivid that it caused audiences to throw up.
In other words, some ham-handed points were being made by actual hams.
The first of which is that Trump is Orwellian.
I”m not sure whether Orwellian is better or worse than dystopian, but the idea is that the totalitarian state of Oceania with its Thought Police is George Orwell’s uncanny premonition of a world run by Donald Trump. It involves a world of official deception and secret surveillance and”let’s not forget Sean Spicer”the Ministry of Truth.
And then there are the concentration camps. Concentration camps are in our future, all of the artistes are telling us. There are concentration camps in The Handmaid’s Tale and concentration camps in 1984, and there’s even a brand-new play that’s all about concentration camps: Building the Wall, by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan. In this, yes, dystopian scenario, a commandant is being interviewed in prison in the year 2019 after being sentenced for atrocities committed against immigrants rounded up by Trump and placed in his facility. Building the Wall is so on the nose that it would embarrass the director of High School Musical, but apparently that doesn”t matter to New York audiences who believe that, yeah, Donald Trump might seem harmless, but haven”t you read Hannah Arendt?
The banality of evil.
This is another bromide that I”m calling a moratorium on. Anybody starting out a sentence with “As Hannah Arendt once said about the banality of evil…” will be immediately sentenced to the Joe Bob Briggs Concentration Camp for Felonious Punditry, where we require you to read H.L. Mencken until you”re rehabilitated.
First of all, there’s already a concentration camp, and it’s called Guantanamo. Trump inherited it from two prior presidents, one of whom vowed to close it and then decided he kind of liked concentration camps. The only other president who opened concentration camps was the author of the New Deal. George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek, is writing a book about the one he grew up in. It was in Arkansas.
There aren”t gonna be any concentration camps. And if you wanna talk about dystopian miniseries, the most popular one is The Walking Dead, which came out in 2010, one year after Barack Obama’s self-imposed deadline for closing our concentration camp. So the whole dystopian/Orwellian/zombie-apocalypse thing predates anything going on here.
I have trouble imagining Donald Trump presiding over anything more complicated than the breakfast menu at Dunkin” Donuts, so “Big Brother” doesn”t make as much sense to me as “Scary Uncle.” “Big Brother,” in fact, sounds much more like one of the nineteen titles used by Kim Jong-un, a list that includes Dear Leader, Supreme Leader, Bright Sun of Juche, Peerless Leader, Fate of the Nation, and Shining Star of Paektu Mountain. Now, that is some serious dystopian nomenclature. Likewise, all the censorship and surveillance stuff in 1984 sounds like Putin’s Russia and Central Asian countries like Turkmenistan where the secret police are likely to walk into the internet cafÃ© and start handcuffing people. All the puritanical authoritarianism in The Handmaid’s Tale sounds a lot more like Iran, where women aren”t allowed to divorce their husbands, and Saudi Arabia, where you can get a prison sentence for wearing a miniskirt. There are several dozen countries where they should be staging 1984 and watching The Handmaid’s Tale, but this is not one of them. (Clitoridectomies, anyone? Wrong continent!)
Meanwhile, we have Trump turning up in every art show, dance festival, and rock concert of the summer, usually out of context and framed so as to make no particular political point beyond”as they used to say in threepenny melodramas””he’s dastardly”:
* Opera Saratoga, in upstate New York, revives the obscure Marc Blitzstein opera The Cradle Will Rock, best known for being censored by the Works Progress Administration in 1937 as union propaganda. The Donald Trump figure is the evil steel baron who runs the company town. (They could at least change it to “evil golf-course architect.”)
* Dozens of self-published books appear, with titles like The Murder of Donald Trump and The Amazing Story of Steve Bannon: A Positive and Fun Book for Kids! and Clovenhoof and the Trump of Doom and Donald Trump, P.I.: The Case of the Missing Mexican Wall and”yes, it’s dystopian”Day of the Donald.
* The Washington Post puts a new motto on its masthead””Democracy Dies in Darkness””because, of course, the advent of Trump has brought us so close to the madness of Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.
* Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian, tells us to get ready for the show trials that Trump will use to consolidate power after a terrorist attack, leading to a one-party state, and he advises us to scrub our computers, make sure everyone in our families has a valid passport, and “be prepared to die for freedom.” Oh wait, I forgot, that’s not a novel or a play, that’s just a Yale professor.
* Bookstores start promoting It Can”t Happen Here, the Sinclair Lewis novel intended to prevent the presidency of Huey Long during the 1936 campaign season. Buzz Windrip, the protagonist, is a populist American Hitler who wins the presidency and then eliminates statehood, sends people to”of course”concentration camps, and ends up exiled to France, but only after America has been damaged beyond repair.
* Holland Cotter, New York Times art critic, pronounces this year’s Venice Biennale irrelevant because “it feels almost perversely out of sync with the political moment.” (In other words, there were no Trump voodoo dolls on display. Where’s Kathy Griffin when you need her?)
* Hartford Stage revives Shaw’s Heartbreak House and dresses the actor playing Boss Mangan (once again, evil businessman) in a bright yellow comb-over.
* Anthony Tommasini, writing about the Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville in the Times, tells us that Don Basilio is “eerily contemporary” in his use of fake news to ruin the reputations of rivals. (In other words, the villainous Bartolo is Trump and Don Basilio is Steve Bannon.)
* Most famously, the director of Julius Caesar in this year’s Central Park production turns Caesar into a blond businessman in a blue suit and loud tie who owns a golden bathtub and has a Slavic wife. Like all the other attempts at artistic relevance, it creates a “What did we just see?” moment that reveals nothing about Caesar, Brutus, Shakespeare, or Trump. Despite praise from critics and outrage from pundits, I”m still not sure what point was being made other than “I guess we can”t kill him, because look what happens.”
The assumption behind all these dystopian/Orwellian/Hitlerian scenarios is that Trump’s secret purpose is to build an oppressive superstate. Fortunately, anyone with a fourth-grade education who lives in the Midwest”unlike the cultural Brahmins at Lincoln Center”can see that he’s doing the opposite. He’s tearing stuff up. He’s castrating the EPA, hollowing out the Department of Education, carving up HUD, firing people for disloyalty to him personally, deciding that we don”t need foreign ambassadors anymore. If you”re looking for entertainment-related metaphors, you don”t need Shakespeare. Use any Monster Truck Show.
But if you absolutely can”t live without a Trumpian theater experience, the play they should all be reviving is Ionesco’s Exit the King.
At the beginning of Exit the King, the king is told by his first wife (because this king has two queens, the original one and a younger, more beautiful one) that he’s going to die.
Of course I”m going to die, he says, we”re all going to die.
No, she tells him, “you”re going to die in an hour and a half, you”re going to die at the end of the show.”
And then the king spends an hour and a half trying not to die.
Remember on the first day of the Trump presidency when everybody told him, “Nobody showed up for the inauguration except protesters””and then he spent the next two weeks saying it was the greatest crowd in inauguration history?
Trying not to die. On the first day.
There are only five other characters in the play”the two wives, a nurse/housekeeper, a doctor, and a guard with a halberd whose job is to stand by the door and proclaim the greatness of the king.