December 27, 2020
The Week’s Most Trending, Offending, and Year-Ending Headlines
BLACK SWAN LAKE
The ballet dancers weren’t really very good—no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. —Kurt Vonnegut, “Harrison Bergeron”
If ballet is one of the few examples of Western art and culture that has, so far, escaped the diversity abattoir, it’s likely due to the fact that not enough people of color patronize the damn thing for any of them to be offended by its “whiteness.” But that might be changing, thanks to the moneyed white leftists who run many of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies.
Last month, the San Francisco Ballet, America’s oldest professional ballet company, promised its benefactors that it would hire more black dancers in honor of George Floyd, a well-known patron of the arts (indeed, Floyd’s 2020 interpretation of Ninette de Valois’ classic ballet Checkmate, retitled Badcheckmate, had black folks grand-battementing in the streets). Unfortunately, the company could find no qualified black dancers, leading one employee to admit that the “diversity” problem is baked into the art form itself, ’cuz #BalletSoWhite: “With a white classical form such as ballet, there’s a racist history that is fundamentally ingrained.”
Still and all, it turns out that finding qualified black ballet dancers doesn’t solve the problem. Last week The New York Times featured a page-one exposé of the cruel racist treatment meted out to the only black company member of Germany’s Staatsballett Berlin. Chloé Lopes Gomes, a black Frenchwoman, was damn near genocided by the fact that the troupe expected her to apply the same makeup that the other dancers wear for Swan Lake. As the Times reported, “Until fairly recently, it has been common practice in ballet companies for the female dancers in ballets like ‘Swan Lake,’ ‘Giselle’ and ‘La Bayadère’ to apply a whitening makeup in order to look like beings from another world, be they swans, sylphides, spirits or Shades.”
When Lopes Gomes was asked to apply the traditional makeup, she balked, calling it “whiteface.” And the Times agreed, claiming that “defenders of these traditions always said that the dancer was simply playing a character. But it was not a valid argument in a context in which one race had oppressed another.”
So apparently because black people were once enslaved in America a French black woman must not wear makeup in a German production of a ballet composed by a Russian.
Lopes Gomes has since been dismissed from Staatsballett Berlin, which seems odd considering her team spirit. She told the Times that she has vowed to persevere until there are no more all-white productions of Swan Lake.
Good luck with that. Ballet dancing plus classical music plus a body of water equals arguably the last thing in the world that most black people want to be involved with.
PHASE 1: COLLECT UNDERPANTS. PHASE 2: ? PHASE 3: DIVERSITY!
And on the subject of “thee-ate-er,” last week The Seattle Times, in a glossy Sunday arts supplement, devoted 3,200 words to the exciting, amazing, game-changing, earth-shaking plan crafted by “Seattle theater leaders” to erase racism from the performing arts and usher in a new golden age of diversity. As the Times reports it, “The Seattle theater leaders were starting something different, something much more ambitious, though they didn’t fully realize it yet. They were beginning a process to overhaul the entire ecology of their field, at every level.”
Sounds amazing! And, as the Times points out, the actions of these “Seattle theater leaders” have attracted national attention:
Slowly, others around the country are starting to hear about the Seattle effort, now officially calling itself Seattle Theatre Leaders (STL), and watch its progress. If STL succeeds, if this broad coalition of theater makers effectively transforms one part of the arts world in one city, it might just set a standard that can be exported—not simply to other arts disciplines, but to other sectors in America that are struggling with the deep, pervasive and seemingly intractable problem of institutional racism.
Holy cow, that’s impressive. Now, at this point, Seattle Times readers were probably curious to learn the details of this revolutionary “effort.” What, exactly, is this thing that STL is doing that’s so “transformative”? What’s the “plan”?
But the Times wasn’t finished hyping it yet.
“It’s really exciting what’s coming out of and through Seattle—I don’t think there’s another city doing this,” said Nicole Brewer, a faculty member at Yale School of Drama who is in very high demand these days as an anti-racist consultant across the English-speaking world, including a recent job at Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London. “It’s really exciting what’s coming out of and through Seattle as a model not just for others around the country, but around the world.”
Incredible! Okay, Seattle Times…this is where you should explain the details of “what’s coming out of and through Seattle.”
Nope, more hype:
The fact that STL has kept its momentum—and that the bosses keep showing up instead of sending their assistants—is one of its superpowers.
“Superpowers,” great. But what exactly is it that STL is doing?
“Having a brave moment,” states the Times.
And then the article finally gets to the matter of specifics:
STL is after concrete action and is currently drawing up a list of action items and commitments written by and for local theater makers. The list is still being written and STL as a group declined to share a current draft.
So…nothing at all. Just a bunch of “brave” Seattle leftists fellating a bunch of fawning Seattle journalists about an amazing plan that doesn’t exist, and those journalists conning readers into wading through 3,200 words just to learn that the tease has no release.
No substance; just empty words, masturbatory smugness, and wasted time.
“Diversity” at its essence!
QU’EST-CE QUE LA CAUSE ET L’EFFET?
For a nation that prides itself on producing generations of philosophers and intellectuals, France is strikingly ignorant when it comes to the rather basic concept of cause and effect.
Seriously, Descartes? You couldn’t take five minutes to explain this notion to your countrymen?
Last week, French authorities were left scratching their heads following the crowning of a new Miss France. It seems that the first runner-up, April Benayoum, is Jewish. And for some odd reason, when Benayoum, who holds the title of Miss Provence, mentioned during the telecast that her father is Israeli, French Twitter exploded with “hate tweets” directed at the 21-year-old beauty.
A few choice examples (translated into English):
“Uncle Hitler, you forgot to exterminate Miss Provence.”
“She should not be Miss Provence; SHE’S A JEW!”
“Hitler forgot one.”
“Into the ovens with her!”
“Death to Miss Provence! Death to Israel!”
This story has been widely covered by the French media, with everyone from the interior minister to the pageant winner speaking out to condemn the hateful tweets. Oddly missing from every news report is a tiny little detail regarding the offending Twitter accounts. Indeed, whereas some French politicians have tried to blame the anti-Jewish onslaught on the “far right,” one canny Twitterer made the following observation after reviewing the profiles of the “haters”:
“French far right tweeters do not have Arabic handles or North African surnames.”
Yep, almost 100% of the abuse is coming from people who are “French” only to the extent that they drove their murder lorries and flew their suicide planes to France from their Muslim nation of origin. The “haters” are Muslim immigrants, and this should come as no surprise to anyone. In a 2015 survey, a whopping 74% of Muslims in France were found to hold strongly anti-Jewish attitudes.
France’s decision to import a replacement population of Islamic Third Worlders has resulted in hostility toward a Jewish beauty pageant contestant with an Israeli father.
The French, being French, have of course responded to the hostile tweets like imbeciles, by limiting speech rather than immigration. According to The Sunday Times:
French police were ordered yesterday to track down people who posted a torrent of antisemitic abuse against the runner-up in this year’s Miss France beauty contest. Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, said that he had “mobilised the police and the gendarmerie.”… The offence of publishing antisemitic remarks carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a €45,000 fine.
French authorities have assured the nation’s Jews that the strategy of continually importing bloodthirsty jihadists but making sure they don’t express their views on Twitter will totally keep the population safe.
Liberté, Egalité, Stupidité.
“DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY” (SCRATCH THE “HONOR” PART)
With President Biden very likely to give the green light to a whole bunch more pointless foreign military engagements, it’s never been more important for our armed forces to be in tip-top fighting shape. And that doesn’t just mean physically. Mentally, our service members need to be at their peak. After all, the neocons are going to need at least some people with the brainpower to defuse IEDs, fly drones, and monitor Dick Cheney’s blood pressure as he masturbates furiously to the notion of war with Iran (too much exertion could kill him).
So this probably isn’t the best time for the revelation that members of the current crop of West Point cadets have traded their white shirts for Black Sox. One of the worst academic scandals in the history of that prestigious institution has recently been uncovered, with more than seventy cadets caught cheating on a math exam. West Point officials blamed the scandal on the fact that, due to COVID, all exams have been given remotely since spring. And apparently, the “cream of the crop” future military elites saw this as an opportunity to cheat their asses off whenever possible in order to secure passing grades.
When asked for comment, John Bolton, wiping away tears of pride, said that “these are exactly the kinds of sneaky little bastards who, if called upon, can totally deceive and sabotage a sitting president who isn’t sufficiently hawkish. God bless these young patriots!”
Surprisingly, the academy has decided to go easy on the cheaters, enrolling almost all of them in “rehabilitation” programs so they can continue their training. This led West Point law professor Tim Bakken to accuse military higher-ups of “downplaying” the scandal. After all, he argued, it becomes a “national security issue” when graduating cadets don’t have the smarts to “become senior leaders the nation depends on.”
It’s a little late for those concerns. A 2016 report published in Joint Force Quarterly (National Defense University Press) titled “Officers Are Less Intelligent” found that today’s officers are, well, less intelligent:
Two-thirds of the new officers commissioned in 2014 would be in the bottom one-third of the class of 1980; 41 percent of new officers in 2014 would not have qualified to be officers by the standards held at the time of World War II. Similarly, at the top of the distribution, there are fewer of the very intelligent officers who will eventually become senior leaders.
By every measure—SATs, GPAs, and “critical thinking skills”—our officers are getting dumber and dumber. The report blames everything but the most likely reason for the decline.
In 2003, when the Supreme Court narrowly saved affirmative action from extinction by a 5–4 vote, the court, in its majority decision, cited as proof of the beneficence and necessity of race-based admissions an amicus brief signed by 29 former high-ranking officers and civilian leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. In the brief, the military leaders argued that only by choosing cadets by race and not ability can institutions like West Point produce a “highly qualified officer corps.”
SCOTUS enthusiastically cited that brief as a primary reason for keeping affirmative action alive, essentially saying, “It’s going so well for the military, let’s keep doing it everywhere.”
Well, that worked out great, didn’t it?
Arguably the most unfortunate irony in this story is that the exact type of cadets who could elevate West Point’s academic ranking are also the ones most likely to side with China in any future conflict.
Ah, the Chinese. Is there anything they can’t do? First they give the world a disease that’s killed millions globally and wrecked the economy of pretty much every nation on earth with a name that doesn’t end in “hina,” and now in their grand benevolence they’ve provided a masterful solution to the problem of government officials who order their citizens into lockdown only to disobey their own regulations by eating in fancy restaurants when restaurant dining is banned or traveling home for a big holiday dinner when none of the commoners have that right.
See, the problem is, a lot of pro-lockdown Democrats have been caught violating their own economy-killing rules. A lot. Like, so many that lists are rendered outdated almost as quickly as they’re compiled. Now, one possible response to public outrage over Democrats who order lockdowns they don’t follow is for Democrats to stop ordering lockdowns they don’t follow, or at least for them to start following the lockdowns they order.
But that would be too simple.
Instead, why not entrust the media—a.k.a. the DNC’s public relations flacks—with the task of coming up with a rationalization for why the bad guys are not the hypocritical Democrat lockdowners but the ordinary Americans who criticize the hypocritical Democrat lockdowners?
Last week the AP, running interference for the chow-downing “you must not chow down in restaurants” Democrats, ran a piece that asked whether “it’s even reasonable to believe politicians should live up to standards many people haven’t been able to follow as the pandemic drags on.”
In other words, if you’re having difficulty following the Democrats’ lockdown directives, that gives the Democrat politicians who instituted them the right to not follow the directives they instituted. Get it? Your disobedience of laws you didn’t pass means that the people who passed those laws get to disobey them too because if ordinary folks can’t abide by them then why should the people who forced the ordinary folks to abide by them have to abide by them?
To support its thesis, the AP interviewed Daniel Effron, associate professor at London Business School. Effron explained that the only reason Americans view lockdown-breaking Democrats as “hypocrites” is because in an “individualistic culture,” people are selfishly unforgiving of “inconsistency.”
“In a collectivist culture (like China), people may forgive the inconsistency if there are explanations for it,” Effron told the AP. “It’s not that people in Asia are OK with hypocrisy. It’s that saying one thing and doing another does not always count as hypocrisy; it’s about trying to do what’s right in different situations.”
Yes, in Asian “collectivist culture,” saying one thing and doing another just means that you’re “trying to do what’s right.”
Effron is the coauthor of a 2017 study about how cultures that stress the importance of “interdependence,” specifically China, understand that political leaders who appear hypocritical are merely “other-oriented and generous.” On the other hand, “individualistic” Western cultures cruelly expect political leaders to follow the rules they set for others.
So we all just need to be a little more Chinese in our approach to seemingly hypocritical—but actually “other-oriented and generous”—politicians.
The next time you find yourself angered by the fact that you’re banned from eating out, having visitors, or comforting elderly relatives by Democrats who eat out, have visitors, and comfort elderly relatives, just know that your objection to their double standards is nothing more than the result of your infernal Western “individualism.”
How fortunate Americans are to have a wire service like the AP to clear that up.
And how fortunate the world is to have an ascendant nation like China, where pandemics are born, as are the rationalizations for why those who make the pandemic rules needn’t follow them.