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Home/Rod Dreher

American Orbanism

Detail from The New Yorker cover

Well, the New Yorker‘s piece on why American conservatives are interested in Hungary is out today, and I am disappointed in it, because it’s a standard liberal media account. I thought that the Hungarians were making a mistake by keeping liberal Western journalists out of CPAC Hungary, but maybe they knew better than I did.

I didn’t expect a Western liberal media account of Hungary under Viktor Orban to be positive, but I had hoped that the New Yorker would at least try to explain to its readers why Orban remains popular, not only with his people, but increasingly with American conservatives like me. Instead, it’s the usual stuff: Orban only wins because he’s gamed the system, he’s a closet anti-Semite, he hates liberal democracy, etc.

I know that the reporter Andrew Marantz had a long dinner with Mark Bollobas, a friend of mine whose parents escaped communist Hungary, and settled in the UK. Mark was born and raised in Cambridge and in the US (when his father did academic stints in the US), but some years ago, moved to Budapest to raise a family. A few years back, Mark wrote on this blog why he left Britain for Hungary. Excerpt:

I consider London to be Chelsea, Kensington, Covent Garden. Places close to the river, areas with amazing architecture, reasonably central. But how much would I have to earn to live there? Millions. Impossible. I’d always be the guy who walks by the shop window and sees what he can’t afford. It would be a lifetime of unhappiness.

And culturally, the most important of all, the England of today is so far removed from the England of my youth that it feels like a different world. What makes England great is the nonchalant English attitude to everything. Stiff upper lip. Humor. The genuine lack-of-interest in what other people do, as long as they’re not interfering. The moral strength to play fair, be a good loser, etc.

But over the last few decades this has been eroded by non-English immigrants who have moved to the UK permanently and brought their culture with them, aggressively. Usually the children are far more aggressive than the parents who actually made the move. And the English let this happen, because that’s how they are. Now the politeness is gone.

I ran a bar in Finsbury Park. My schedule was the same. Open at noon, close at midnight. I would go to work at around 10am, and walk home around 2am. You have the same schedule, and you walk past people who share that schedule. In England, 20 years ago, if you did this for a few weeks you’d eventually strike up a conversation, or create a little bond. That couldn’t happen in Finsbury Park because it was full of Somalis, north Africans and others (Abu Hamza was a personal favorite, hawking his vitriolic sermons on CDs to anyone that passed).

They all hated me and looked at me with distrust and disgust. The women walked past in their veils, clothing that sends the message of “f-ck off, don’t dare look at me or talk to me.” I walked those streets for two years and made not one connection. Visitors have come, have brought their culture, and they stick to it (I loved whichever day it was when they say you have to slaughter a goat; blood literally ran in the streets). It is their identity. Meanwhile the beautiful, accepting element of being British is abused, its kind culture allowed Trojan horses of all sorts to settle in.

Aside from that, there was the dreaded question, “Where are you from?” that every Englishman asks. Even from me. It’s the most unpleasant question because you hear it over and over again, and it’s like a death from a thousand cuts. Because it means, you’re obviously not from here, so where are you from? I shudder at the thought of having to answer that question in Britain. Because I am from there.

So, not England. The second choice was Hungary. True, it’s not a wealthy country, and true, it suffers many of the same problems that afflict other nations. And yes, salaries here are very low. As editor-in-chief for English language news at a national TV station, and ironically the only Hungarian TV station that was on the local Memphis cable network, I made $1,200 per month, before tax. And even on that salary in Budapest I could live and do things like dine out and take advantage of all the positive things a city like this offers:  theatre, concerts, museums, sporting events, parks, nightlife, etc. Most of all, it was where I really felt at home.

Like many children of immigrants, I was raised to know that I have to work harder, and be better everywhere than those who were “local” to get ahead. And it’s all true. But I was also raised in a Hungarian household. While my parents made every effort to assimilate, I was raised in a household that took pride in being Hungarian. I didn’t support Hungary in sports or anything tribal like that, but I was proud when Hungary did well. I appreciated the poetry, the folk music, the heritage, the history, and so forth. And every time I went back to Budapest, I felt so so comfortable. No one asks “where are you from?” because although I don’t sound like I am from here (I have a British accent in Hungarian), I am from here, and people recognize that.

My decision to move back here to Hungary — I say that even though I wasn’t born here — has been reinforced by this fact: Hungary understands that holding on to its cultural identity is essential to its existence as a society we can understand.

Culture changes over time, of course, but it normally does it slowly as we creep towards a more civilized future.

England doesn’t feel more civilized — quite the opposite. It feels more feral. And the UK has just accepted its fate.

The lack of an American culture means Hungarians don’t know what’s missing, because they never had it. But there is a gaping hole in America: something is obviously broken. America is collapsing on itself.

It’s been nine years since I moved back. I can’t count the number of days I’ve thought to myself, or told others, “It’s just great to be here.” It still is.

I don’t know what Mark told the reporter, Andrew Marantz, at dinner, but it pretty clearly didn’t fit the Hungary Bad narrative. It wasn’t in the New Yorker story — even though it is crucial to understanding why Hungary matters to a lot of us. You read the piece and think that the only people who are interested positively in Hungary under Orban are bad people who hate democracy.

I talked to Marantz for the piece, and am quoted several times in it (accurately). For example:

When I was in Budapest, Dreher, seven time zones away and in the midst of a messy divorce, texted me assiduously, including before 5 a.m. his time, trying to steer my story. “I really do care about Hungary, and I want to help you do a good job,” he wrote. “God knows it’s not paradise, but it’s important to understand Hungary as it is.” That’s the sort of P.R. that money can’t buy.

I texted him at 5 am because he had sent me a text saying that he had not been able to get into CPAC, and that someone had threatened to call the police on him. I thought this was a really bad move on CPAC’s part, and wanted to help him talk to people who could give him insight into the story he was there to report. By “steer the story,” I was simply trying to help him get the quotes I thought he wanted. I wasn’t trying to get him to write a story about Hungary as Magyar Disneyland (“God knows it’s not paradise”), but it’s a complex and interesting country (“but it’s important to understand Hungary as it is”). I come across in that quote as a fanatic trying to puppet-string the journalist, when in fact I thought that the New Yorker could be counted on to go deeper than the standard liberal media gloss.

I was wrong. Useful thing to learn.

Again, no one expects a liberal magazine like the New Yorker to write a positive piece about Orban’s Hungary. But the fact that there is no nuance or insight in the piece is telling. And what does it tell? The the Left is incapable of understanding why a politician like Viktor Orban appeals to American conservatives. I’ll give you a couple of examples:

There are more than a few Americans who think the Boy Scouts marching in an LGBT Pride phalanx is horrifying. These Americans can’t find many Republican politicians who will say anything about this. Viktor Orban will. He doesn’t care what the liberal media, and the respectable establishmentarians say. He’s going to defend the family, and the Judeo-Christian social order.

In Hungary, gay people can contract civil partnerships. They can walk down the street holding hands in Budapest, and nobody cares. But you know what they can’t do?

And you know what else? You don’t see this in Hungary:

An entire city block in London, flying the banner of a conquering tribe.

You know what else they don’t have in Hungary? Women and their babies reduced to breeders and accessories for gay men:

Another thing they don’t have in Hungary:

According to a different German media report:

In Essen -Altendorf, dozens of people fought on the street on Saturday evening.

Several hundred people are said to have been there, two people were injured. The Essen police were on site with a large contingent. And also on Sunday there were clashes again.

At 7:35 p.m., the police were called to a kebab shop on Altendorfer Strasse. Dozens of people are said to have fought there. The officers arrived with a large contingent of patrol cars. In fact, a large crowd had gathered on the street.

You can watch video of the street fight between Arab clans here.

I mentioned in one of my interviews with Andrew Marantz that going to Paris last summer from Hungary, and listening to so many French people talking about how afraid they were of immigrant street violence, I realized that Viktor Orban had been right to keep the immigrants out. And I also mentioned to him that when anti-Semitic violence flared in major Western cities — including New York and Los Angeles — I was shocked to discover that there was no police presence in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest, even though Jews were walking the streets with their families. Why no violence? Because the Hungarian government doesn’t welcome Jew-hating immigrants.

None of that made it into the story. It violates the canons of liberalism to point out that if you want to keep a liberal society, you had better not let in certain peoples. Marantz doubled down on the “Orban hates Soros, therefore he must be a dog-whistling anti-Semite” canard. This, even though Soros, a non-observant Jew, advocated opening Europe’s borders to the migrant wave in 2015.

And so on. I also pointed out to Marantz that late last summer, many Fidesz people expected the party to lose the spring election. They were telling themselves that twelve years in power was great, but you can’t really expect more than that. And then came the opposition with a truly terrible candidate, Peter Marki-Zay, who kept making gaffes. I told Marantz that I heard over and over, asking people in the city who they were voting for, that they were sick and tired of Fidesz, but they couldn’t trust the opposition with power, so they were voting Orban.

European liberals were sure that after the Russia-Ukraine war broke out, Orban’s relative closeness to Putin would mean defeat for him. In fact, it was a plus. Orban condemned Russia’s invasion, but he also refused to allow Hungary to be dragged into the war many fellow NATO nations wanted. In my own experiences there, I met not one Hungarian who had anything good to say about the Russians — but I didn’t meet one who believed Hungary had any business risking war on its own territory to satisfy Brussels.

Viktor Orban was exactly where the Hungarian people were this spring, which is why his party won re-election by a landslide. Yet puzzled Western liberals, including liberal journalists, console themselves with the conviction that he must have done this by playing dirty, somehow.

You don’t learn anything from the New Yorker story that you didn’t already know from a dozen previous stories about Hungary. This is disappointing; I expected better from that magazine. Another massive, massive miss by Marantz is that American conservatives are drawn to Orban because unlike most of our own right-of-center politicians, Orban understands that the Left is no longer liberal at all, and is willing to fight them without tying one hand behind his back.

One story I told Marantz that didn’t make it into the piece was about the encounter I had (which I related here many times, so I won’t go into it again) with the liberal Budapest academic and Orban critic. When he said that he could say whatever he wanted in his classroom, and nobody from the government would bother him, I told him that is also true in the US — but the persecution would come from students and activists who, for whatever reason, are offended by what you say. For example, I told him, if you fail to affirm transgender ideology, you could find yourself the target of mob action on campus, and may even be out of a job. Joshua Katz lost his job at Princeton on trumped-up sexual harassment charges, when everybody who didn’t fall off the organic turnip truck yesterday knows that it’s because he spoke out against extremely illiberal racial proposals. 

Here’s what Viktor Orban knows: that “liberalism” has produced a society and a culture that despises itself, and is committing suicide. It hates the traditional family. It hates Judeo-Christian religion and moral norms. It hates the history and traditions of the countries where it governs. It hates certain people because of the color of their skin, and loves others because of the color of their skin — in both cases, irrespective of the content of their character. It has no respect for free speech, freedom of religion, and other traditional liberties. It believes that it has the right and responsibility to spread its beliefs globally. It has conquered every institution in the West — most importantly, Big Business — and is using soft power to silence and marginalize the “deplorable” people who disagree. The news media lie by commission and omission in order to prop up the Narrative.

This is not liberalism. This is illiberal leftism, which wears liberalism like a skin suit.

Orban understands that if conservative people don’t understand what’s actually being done to them by the illiberal-Left ruling class, and use the only institution within which they have a fighting chance — the State — then they will be totally demoralized and defeated. He would rather not go gently into that Brave New World.

An increasing number of us American conservatives think he’s onto something, and want to know what his vision of faith, family, tradition, and sovereignty — and his political strategy for implementing it over and against the Goliaths of illiberal leftism — has to teach us.

One more bit from Marantz’s piece:

In 2018, Patrick Deneen’s book “Why Liberalism Failed” was admired by David Brooks and Barack Obama. Last year, Deneen founded a hard-right Substack called the Postliberal Order, on which he argued that right-wing populists had not gone nearly far enough—that American conservatism should abandon its “defensive crouch.” One of his co-authors wrote a post from Budapest, offering an example of how this could work in practice: “It’s clear that Hungarian conservatism is not defensive.” J. D. Vance has voiced admiration for Orbán’s pro-natalist family policies, adding, “Why can’t we do that here?” Rod Dreher told me, “Seeing what Vance is saying, and what Ron DeSantis is actually doing in Florida, the concept of American Orbánism starts to make sense. I don’t want to overstate what they’ll be able to accomplish, given the constitutional impediments and all, but DeSantis is already using the power of the state to push back against woke capitalism, against the crazy gender stuff.” According to Dreher, what the Republican Party needs is “a leader with Orbán’s vision—someone who can build on what Trumpism accomplished, without the egomania and the inattention to policy, and who is not afraid to step on the liberals’ toes.”

In common parlance, the opposite of “liberal” is “conservative.” In political-science terms, illiberalism means something more radical: a challenge to the very rules of the game. There are many valid critiques of liberalism, from the left and the right, but Orbán’s admirers have trouble articulating how they could install a post-liberal American state without breaking a few eggs (civil rights, fair elections, possibly the democratic experiment itself). “The central insight of twentieth-century conservatism is that you work within the liberal order—limited government, free movement of capital, all of that—even when it’s frustrating,” Andrew Sullivan said.“If you just give away the game and try to seize as much power as possible, then what you’re doing is no longer conservative, and, in my view, you’re making a grave, historic mistake.” Lauren Stokes, the Northwestern historian, is a leftist with her own radical critiques of liberalism; nonetheless, she, too, thinks that the right-wing post-liberals are playing with fire. “By hitching themselves to someone who has put himself forward as a post-liberal intellectual, I think American conservatives are starting to give themselves permission to discard liberal norms,” Stokes told me. “When a Hungarian court does something Orbán doesn’t like—something too pro-queer, too pro-immigrant—he can just say, ‘This court is an enemy of the people, I don’t have to listen to it.’ I think Republicans are setting themselves up to adopt a similar logic: if the system gives me a result I don’t like, I don’t have to abide by it.”

Conservative readers are shaking their heads at that and laughing. This is what American liberals do all the damn time! For example, the State of California declared itself to be a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants, defying federal immigration law. How many examples like this do you want? We’ve got ’em. In 2015, when the State of Indiana passed a state version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a coalition of Very Big Businesses came down like a ton of bricks on the state, and forced shocked and spineless GOP lawmakers (and Gov. Mike Pence) to repeal the legislation. Seven years later, having learned a thing or two about woke capitalism, and when the Walt Disney Company tried to bully the State of Florida into doing the same thing over LGBT primary school propaganda, Gov. Ron DeSantis punched back hard.

That’s an Orban move. More, please.

Liberals, and liberal journalists, are blind as bats to how insanely illiberal they have become. They change the rules all the time, and denounce anyone who objects as bigots, illiberals, authoritarians, and so forth. Meanwhile, ordinary people are starting to wake up. Just yesterday, I received an email from a friend, who said [I’ve slightly redacted this for privacy]:

A good friend just called to lament that her two middle and early teenage daughters—who have both had crushes on boys—have announced they are lesbians. She is in a secular household.

A very Christian man I know is gob smacked that his young adult son just left the Church and announced he is a woman. Changed name and taking hormones. He was home schooled. Of the 10-12 home schoolers he associated with—all from conservative Christian families of differing denominations—at least 8 have announced they are on the LGBT spectrum.

A family member’s daughter told her she is “pansexual.” Conservative Catholic family, parochial school. It took 9 months of family disputation and removing her smart phone to get back to her admitting she is a girl. Family relations still wounded.

This is civilization destroying stuff.

It is. Viktor Orban knows that he’s fighting to save what’s left of our civilization from the postliberal liberals who are tearing it apart. If you don’t want an American Orban, you had better be prepared to pay your respects to the Brave New World. The truth that is hard for most of us — certainly for me — to accept is that liberalism is all but dead. The future will either be between illiberal left-wing democracy, or illiberal right-wing democracy. Don’t accept the media Left’s framing of the problem. Even the honest journalists among them can’t see what’s happening.

Read the New Yorker story, not to see Hungary as it is, both good and bad, but to see a classic American liberal journalist’s account of the place. My friend Andrew Sullivan is quoted in the piece twice, critical of Hungary. I challenge him to ring up his old friend John O’Sullivan at the Danube Institute, and arrange to go over for a month, to see for himself what it’s like. He will be surprised. I told Andrew Marantz how shocking it is for American and Western European intellectuals to meet Orban, spend time with him, and learn how intelligent he is, and how willing he is to engage in debate and critical discourse with visitors. I’ve been present twice when it happened. I gave Marantz the names of some American journalists and intellectuals who were there this spring when it happened. I don’t know if he reached out to them or not, but they weren’t in the story.

A lesson I have learned from this: don’t make big efforts to open doors to Western journalists to Hungarians who won’t confirm the Narrative.

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Religious Materialism

W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden — gay, Christian, and one of the greatest poets of the 20th century — from an essay about Christianity and art:

As soon, however, as materialism comes to be regarded as sacred truth, the distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar is reabolished. … [U]nder religious materialism, everything in life is, ultimately, serious, and therefore subject to moral policing. It will not tolerate what it knows to be evil with a heartless shrug — that is how life is, always has been and always will be — but it will do something which the pagan world never did; it will do what it knows to be evil for a moral purpose, do it deliberately now so that good may come in the future.

Under religious materialism, the artist loses his personal artistic liberty again, but he does not recover his sacred importance, for now it is not artists who collectively decide what is sacred truth, but scientists, or the scientific politicians, who are responsible for forming mankind in the true faith. Under them, an artist becomes a mere technician, an expert in effective expression, and who is hired to express effectively what the scientist-politician requires to be said.

By “religious materialism,” the poet means materialism taken as a kind of religion. He anticipates wokeness. There can be no frivolity in the Kingdom of Wokeness. Everything is deadly serious. I’m in London this weekend, and had a conversation with a lawyer who was telling me shocking things going on here in Great Britain, compelled by the government and all the captured institutions. The conversation was on background, but the things he told me startled even someone like me, who is not easily shockable about this stuff anymore.

The lawyer told me about one of his friends who lived under Soviet communism, and who said that she is watching a version of that take form here. He brought up a prominent UK university that requires all applicants for academic jobs to file a parallel application listing their commitment to Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity. The emigre from Eastern Europe told the lawyer, “This is exactly what the Party used to do. You had to proclaim your political loyalty before you could be considered for a job anywhere.”

Our institutions have been captured by soft totalitarians. Later today, I have to give a Live Not By Lies talk to a group of young Christians about how to live in these times, under these conditions. Last night, I talked to a different figure active in public life in Britain, a Catholic who explained to me how he sees some form of the Benedict Option as the only possibility for those who want to pass the faith on to their kids. He told me that he and his wife are part of a group “of about fifteen Catholic families, maybe only one of whom have read The Benedict Option, but all of whom are now trying to move to live closer together, to form a community, because we know that’s the only way we are going to be able to raise our kids in moral sanity.”

I get this more and more, a version of, we thought you were alarmist when your book came out, but now we’re having to live the Benedict Option. Christians (and Jews, and Muslims) had better understand that we are all in the middle of a religious war with zealots who don’t recognize that their materialism is religious. They believe they are neutral, and hide their own zealotry and bigotry from themselves. The artists politicize their art, because politics are sacred to them.

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Roe-pocalypse Now

Whoopi Goldberg, one of many Post-Dobbs Raging Celebrities™ (Entertainment Tonight)

This. So much this:

I understand — or think I do — people who favor abortion rights. I think they are wrong, but I understand why they are upset over this Supreme Court ruling. But Kangmin Lee is right: the hysterical freakout over a ruling that overturns a badly-reasoned decision, and returns abortion law to the democratic political process, is so very telling.

Look at this:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. companies including Walt Disney Co and Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc said on Friday they will cover employees’ expenses if they have to travel for abortion services after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

Not only does the Walt Disney Company — formerly the gold standard of American family-friendly wholesomeness — fully favor grooming children into genderqueerness, but now it will pay its female employees to go to pro-abortion states and terminate the lives of their unborn children.

If you had predicted this fifty years ago, people would have thought you insane. As Kangmin Lee said, abortion was widely seen as a necessary evil. Now it is considered by the class of people who run most of America as a sacred rite.

There is an obvious Luciferian connection between the twin sacred rites of abortion and sex change. Both assert human will over life and the generative order. Both refuse the givenness of Creation. Both insist that the autonomous choosing individual has ultimate power over life and death, male and female. Both rites are necessary to upholding the Sexual Revolution, which is the event that gives meaning to the lives of the American ruling class.

We are now seeing how much that ruling class hates those it rules.

A reader writes that he doesn’t expect mass violence over Dobbs — not an abortion-related repeat of the George Floyd riots. Those riots were carried out by black people and white antifa. The kind of demographic most upset over the fall of Roe — educated middle class women — will never risk their professional status to commit acts of criminal violence, he predicts.

Rather:

We’re going to see that overturning Dobbs and restoring Roe is going to become the next litmus test for middle-class respectability. BLM/CRT, LGBT, and now this. Every major corporation is going to have to announce a policy to pay the freight of women employees who go out of state to have abortions. Every major authority figure is going to have to be onside on this issue, or face the kind of hysterical ostracism that we’ve seen around other issues.

Interestingly, they don’t seem to think that abortion hysteria is enough. Now we’re seeing them go crazy on gay marriage, interracial marriage, and contraception. They’ll believe anything, no matter what the realities are on the ground (which is that if any of those issues were returned to the political process, they would all be voted into law almost instantly, everywhere). No, the abortion hysterics will simply call this, one more time, the Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time, replay the old script, and wait for the Republican Party to crack — something the business and donor class of the GOP is already prepared to do.

It is really something to think about how the Left today, post-Dobbs, is left to feel the same things that many of us on the Right have felt over and over again: defeat on an issue that is dear to us. They are not used to losing — not our ruling class. They are used to getting their way, and expecting the rest of us to fall in line and know our places.

What if people don’t want to do that anymore?

What if they don’t want the unlimited right to exterminate unborn children?

What if they don’t want groomers to colonize the minds of their children in schools and in children’s entertainment?

What if they don’t want women to have to share toilets with men who think they are women? What if they don’t want their daughters to lose athletic competitions to men masquerading as women?

What if they’re sick and tired of all the propaganda from media and woke capitalism?

What if they are fed up with unaccountable corporations dictating public policy to state legislatures?

What if they just want to be left the hell alone?

The thing is, the Left will not leave any of us the hell alone. You would think that they would have the sense to realize that if we’re going to keep America together, we are going to have to lean heavily into federalism. Let Alabama be Alabama, and let California be California.

That’s the only way we can share a country with those people, and that they can share a country with us people.

This is not about abortion, but Dave Mastio’s Twitter thread about how the loony left at Gannett has seized the means of McPaper production tells you a lot about where we are as a decadent society. Mastio was formerly deputy editorial page editor at USA Today. Keep in mind these are the same kind of people who are screaming bloody murder about Handmaid’s Tale America:

More:


I’ve embedded this one so you can click through to the insane op-ed:

Read the whole Mastio thread, start to finish.This is the ruling class gatekeeping media that only the ruling class believes. They don’t want to be fair to their fellow Americans. They don’t want to understand their fellow Americans. They want to demonize and marginalize them.

The Roe-pocalypse is going to further unveil this reality. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. This is what I talk about in Live Not By Lies: the ruling class is not going to accept dissent lying down. We have got to be ready to resist, anchored in truth, and the courage of our convictions.

By the way, don’t let yourself be gaslighted by people like Emmanuel Macron:

UPDATE:Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic writes that we are continuing to split apart as a nation. Excerpts:

It may be time to stop talking about “red” and “blue” America. That’s the provocative conclusion of Michael Podhorzer, a longtime political strategist for labor unions and the chair of the Analyst Institute, a collaborative of progressive groups that studies elections. In a private newsletter that he writes for a small group of activists, Podhorzer recently laid out a detailed case for thinking of the two blocs as fundamentally different nations uneasily sharing the same geographic space.

“When we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of Red and Blue people,” Podhorzer writes. “But in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federated republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”

OK, nothing new here. More:

Podhorzer isn’t predicting another civil war, exactly. But he’s warning that the pressure on the country’s fundamental cohesion is likely to continue ratcheting up in the 2020s. Like other analysts who study democracy, he views the Trump faction that now dominates the Republican Party—what he terms the “MAGA movement”—as the U.S. equivalent to the authoritarian parties in places such as Hungary and Venezuela. It is a multipronged, fundamentally antidemocratic movement that has built a solidifying base of institutional support through conservative media networks, evangelical churches, wealthy Republican donors, GOP elected officials, paramilitary white-nationalist groups, and a mass public following. And it is determined to impose its policy and social vision on the entire country—with or without majority support. “The structural attacks on our institutions that paved the way for Trump’s candidacy will continue to progress,” Podhorzer argues, “with or without him at the helm.”

Read it all. 

Though honestly, you don’t have to. You know what it’s going to say: that whenever politics results in outcomes liberals don’t like, Democracy Is At Risk™. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party was returned to power in a landslide election this spring — but see, that’s not democratic. Do you remember all the liberals like Ron Brownstein fretting over the fact that the US Supreme Court, in the Obergefell decision, overrode binding marriage referendums at the state level? Neither do I, because it didn’t happen.

Similarly, do you see the Ron Brownsteins of the world complaining about how antidemocratic it is for major corporations — who are accountable to no voters — to threaten punishment to state legislatures if they don’t pass social legislation (e.g., pro-LGBT, pro-CRT) that the companies like? Gosh no.

Do they complain about illiberal, anti-democratic policies within institutions and in government that explicitly privilege certain demographics on the basis of race? Of course they don’t! Because they see that as normal, and democracy as working as it should.

Remember:

1) if the system does not produce liberal policy outcomes, the system is undemocratic;

2) if voters elect candidates that do not endorse liberal policy outcomes, democracy as we know it is in danger;

3) politicians of the Right who aren’t supine before their institutional woke betters are Authoritarian, but politicians of the Left who favor the non-democratic imposition of progressive policies (e.g., Biden’s recent LGBT executive order) are normal

Earlier this week I wrote about a US Government-sponsored panel that debated the “moral and strategic imperative” of working to “decolonize” Russia, a sovereign nation. We are supposed to be fine with that, because Russia Is Bad. Did no one think about how the Russians might respond? Did no one think about how this insane thinking, if not stopped dead in its tracks, will end up getting somebody else’s kids serving in the military killed? And this:

That Putin! He’s not playing fair! says the liberal, who doesn’t yet know how to keep European peoples from freezing in the dark this winter. It’s only natural that the West would make war on him, but it’s not cricket for him to strike back.

 

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Hallelujah, Roe Has Fallen

Thank you, Donald Trump, for making this day possible!

I never thought I would live to see the day:

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

Chief Justice Roberts voted with the majority to uphold the Mississippi law, but said that he would not have overturned Roe. More:

Two years ago, in June 2020, the Supreme Court struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law by a 5-to-4 margin, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. providing the decisive vote. His concurring opinion, which expressed respect for precedent but proposed a relatively relaxed standard for evaluating restrictions, signaled an incremental approach to cutting back on abortion rights.

But that was before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died that September. Her replacement by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative who has spoken out against “abortion on demand,” changed the dynamic at the court, diminishing the chief justice’s power to guide the pace of change.

I got the news on a train to London. When I arrived, I went to the Westminster Cathedral (Catholic) to pray a Te Deum in thanksgiving for this ruling. And to pray for the safety of the justices who chose life, and justice, over death.

What a day! Of course this only means that abortion policy is now up to each state to regulate as it sees fit. There’s lots of work left to be done for the unborn.

Let us be thankful for all the faithful men and women and even children who marched, who prayed, who donated, and who sacrificed over the past 49 years to make this day a reality. Let us be thankful for the courage of Justices Alito, Barrett, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and even Roberts, despite his waffling.

Let us be thankful for Donald Trump; I didn’t vote for him in part because I didn’t think he would do anything on abortion in the courts; I have scarcely been happier to admit I was wrong. This would not have happened without his presidency. And thank you, Federalist Society!

I am not a Catholic, but I want to give special thanks to the Catholic Church in the United States, for never once failing to fight for life. Thanks to to all the churches and church leaders who stood publicly for life. In America, the Catholics were always there, without fail. Thank you, National Right To Life and all other pro-life lobbyists. I also want to give thanks to the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, which has been taking an especially courageous stand for over three decades.

On this day, I remember with fondness the late Nat Hentoff, a Jewish atheist who nevertheless believed in the right to life of the unborn, and said so in a time and place where that cost him something. Here is a column Hentoff wrote after he hosted pro-life liberal Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Bob Casey at Cooper Union in downtown Manhattan. Hentoff wanted the governor to  be able to give the speech he had been denied the chance to give at the Democratic National Convention: Excerpt:

As moderator, I started what would have been the discussion by pointing out that this was an evening about free speech — not only that of the governor of Pennsylvania but also that of anyone in the audience who wanted to challenge him.

The hooting, screaming, pounding and whistle blowing began. Strategically located at both sides of the hall — disruption by stereo — a preening array of hooligans made all speech except their own inaudible. They reminded me of the domestic brown shirts breaking up Jewish meetings in my youth, but these were howling soldiers of the left. (There is no difference, of course, between right and left when it comes to silencing the bearers of uncomfortable ideas.)

Among the opponents of any free exchange of ideas were ACT UP and various pro-choice (sic) cadres, among them: WHAM (Women’s Health Action Mobilization); and NYU Students for Pro-Choice.

At least 80 percent of the audience wanted to hear Casey and said so, as best they could, by applauding his attempts to get started. But they were no match for the speech muggers.

After several tries, Gov. Casey yielded. “The Democratic Convention suspended the First Amendment,” he tried to say, “and tonight you did the same thing.” Casey walked off the stage as the shouters congratulated each other.

Read it all.

Tonight across America, we may see churches and pro-life crisis pregnancy centers burning. Pro-abortion radicals have promised it. I know that federal law enforcement officials have warned judges, clerics, and others to be vigilant. I hope that faithful Christians, especially Catholics, will keep vigil tonight around their churches to prevent hateful activists from defacing or burning them. This has already been happening lately:

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the message was more explicit: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either,” read the words scrawled in red paint across another center, which also had its windows broken.

The same message was found on the walls of “pregnancy crisis centers” in Texas and Wisconsin in May, and another attack took place on a similar institution in Washington, also in May. The attacks on these centers – which try to dissuade women from seeking abortions – are believed to be linked to Jane’s Revenge, an extremist, militant pro-choice group.

No one has been injured during these attacks, but the methods have been extreme: vandals have thrown molotov cocktails, committed arson, damaged property and made threats. At a time of rapidly increasing abortion restrictions in the US – and an upcoming supreme court decision this summer that is expected to result in total abortion bans in as many as 26 states – can more violence be expected?

After the attack in Wisconsin, a letter signed by “Jane’s Revenge” was sent to a Bellingcat journalist laying out a kind of mission statement, and threatening further action. “This is not a mere ‘difference of opinion’ as some have framed it,” the letter said. “We are literally fighting for our lives. We will not sit still while we are killed and forced into servitude.”

The letter also demanded that “anti-choice establishments” – institutions that have a reputation for trying to lure women into unwanted pregnancies and spreading misinformation about the impacts of abortion – to disband within 30 days, or else face more violence.

“Wisconsin is the first flashpoint,” the letter said. “But we are all over the US, and we will issue no further warnings … We will not stop until … the inalienable right to manage our own health is returned to us.”

The spiritual war is about to make itself manifest in a violent way. Abortion is the keystone of the Sexual Revolution. It’s going to get very ugly. Pray, fast, keep vigil. And consider giving to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center, to help women who choose to have their babies.

UPDATE: Woke Capitalism, showing itself to be the enemy:

UPDATE.2: The dean of Yale Divinity School sent this out today on the alumni listserv. Notice the assumption that all graduates surely support exterminating unborn human life in the womb:

June 24, 2022
Dear Colleagues,

Today the Supreme Court overturned five decades of federal protection for abortion that sprang from the Roe v. Wade decision. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision returns the issue to states, which undoubtedly will come to reflect the political divide of our country.

The decision culminates a decades-long effort by those who identify as pro-life. But is this decision pro-life or pro a particular ideology? Will those who lobbied for it now lobby for expanded medical support for the women who carry babies to term? Will they lobby for benefits for the unwanted children who are born? Will they lobby for the support of poor people who will not be able to care for additional children? To be pro-life means far more than to oppose abortion.

There are millions of American women who feel violated by today’s decision. They understand that this is not only a decision about abortion, but about women’s rights. The decision is a step backward for human rights. Does it portend the reversal of other rights—as some have already suggested? Is the elimination or suppression of individual freedoms pro-life?

The pro-life stance is often linked to Christianity and there are many people who are genuine in their faith who will support the Supreme Court’s decision, including members of the YDS community. It is, however, a more complex issue than some acknowledge. There is no biblical basis for the ban on abortion. The only text that deals directly with a fetus is Exodus 21:22–25, and it makes a distinction between the penalty levied on someone who causes a pregnant woman to miscarry versus an injury to the woman herself. The former results in a fine; the latter in the lex talionis (an eye for an eye etc.). In other words, it distinguishes between a fetus and a human being. Simplistic appeals to the biblical traditions are just that, simplistic. Christianity is supportive of human life, but we must work through our traditions with care. It is not at all clear that today’s decision reflects a text like Exodus 21:22–25.

This decision will not heal our country. It will only exacerbate the divide that already exists. May we find ways to promote life, not political agendas. May we find ways to discuss our differences, not build higher walls.

Best wishes,

Greg

——-

Gregory E. Sterling
The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean
Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament
Yale Divinity School
409 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
203-432-5306 (O)

Useful knowledge to have. Our country is run by a rotten elite.

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Lying Liars Of The Ruling Class

Pinocchio has a great future in elite Western institutions (Source)

Another day in the life of Felicia Sonmez’s former employer:

These people live in a bubble. Joe Concha writes:

To say there’s a disconnect between many journalists and the public they serve is a gross understatement, according to a new in-depth survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Per Pew, 65 percent of the nearly 12,000 journalists surveyed say the media do a solid job of “covering the most important stories of the day” and reporting news accurately. But a solid majority of the American public at large has the opposite view, with just 35 percent feeling the same way. That’s a 30-point perception gap.

When asked if journalists perform well when “serving as a watchdog over elected leaders,” 52 percent of journalists agreed. But the number dropped precipitously again when the general public was asked, with less than 3 in 10 agreeing with the assessment.

When asked if journalists manage and correct misinformation consistently, 43 percent of those in the industry said yes, while just 25 percent of the general public agreed.

Almost half (46 percent) of journalists said they felt connected to their readers and viewers, while just one-quarter of the public says they feel connected to the media outlets from which they get their news.

So why the disconnect? Perhaps it’s like the old saying about the key to good real estate: Location, location location. Most of the national media are located in two places: New York City and Washington, D.C.

In the 2020 election, just 9 percent of Manhattan voters voted for Donald Trump. In D.C., the Trump support was just 5.4 percent, underscoring that those who live in or near these cities exist in overwhelmingly liberal silos. It’s only human nature that a journalist’s perception of issues will generally conform to the places and people with whom he works and lives.

Concha goes on to say that the loss of local newspapers in the media consolidation wave of the Internet era is to blame. I think he’s overstating it. I’ve worked at several mainstream papers, and two papers — the Washington Times and the New York Post — that were self-consciously conservative (though the NYPost‘s conservatism was different from the Washington Times‘s). The newsrooms were all fairly liberal. In fact, one of the rare newsroom conservatives at The Dallas Morning News used to joke with me that if the entire newspaper building were to magically relocate itself to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., the newsroom wouldn’t notice. With the exception of the bureaus, nearly everybody who worked in that newsroom when I was there (2003-09) lived in the DFW area, and the views of the staff were heavily liberal. And it showed in the coverage.

Look at this graphic from the Pew survey of journalists:

In 2005, I got into a friendly debate with a Dallas Morning News colleague, who agreed with me that the paper did not cover the same-sex marriage debate fairly, but thought that was a good thing. He said, “If we were covering the civil rights movement [for black people], would you think that we deserved to give the KKK equal time?” He was serious. He thought people who opposed same-sex marriage were the equivalent of Klan members. This was 2005. In Texas.

Once, in a meeting of DMN section editors that I attended, someone presented new internal survey data showing that most of a particular targeted demographic of readers reported having little to no trust in our newspaper. That didn’t surprise me at all. As an out conservative columnist at the paper, I was accustomed to meeting strangers at social events, and having to listen to them tell me what liberal outrage had finally been the last straw for them, and compelled them to cancel their subscription. I knew too that my liberal colleagues were good people for the most part, but suffered from some combination of ignorance (of how far their views were from the average north Texan’s) or contempt for the conservatives who stunk up their neighborhood. When whoever it was delivered the bad news at that meeting — that is, the news about how most of this target demographic didn’t trust the paper — one of the section editors present said, “Isn’t it sad when people will only believe what they want to believe?”

Not, Gosh, that’s awful — what are we doing wrong to have alienated so many readers? Not, How can we do better? Rather: What a bunch of idiots, not believing what we tell them. Is there any other industry besides journalism in which the manufacturers despise their own customers for disliking the product?

(Don’t get mad at the DMN now; that particular section editor is no longer with the paper, which has gone through a number of downsizes since then.)

In my time here in England this past week, I have gotten to be friends with an Oxbridge academic who grew up working class in a poor and violent part of a major city. We were talking this morning about what idiots people in our professional milieus can be — thinking of themselves as worldly and knowledgeable, but actually shockingly ignorant of the world outside their bubbles, and more damnably, utterly without curiosity about it. They mistake managing a narrative to skew it towards left-wing conclusions for actually doing journalism or scholarship.

In Oxford, I ran into a retired journalist of the old-school, a leftie who was rightly furious over the collapse of journalistic standards in the younger generation. He said something close to, “They think journalism is simply shifting information from one screen to another. They don’t want to go out and meet actual people, and see what’s going on in the real world.”

(Reader Jonah R. has said the same thing to me, about my own work. Though I’m an opinion writer, not a reporter, he’s got something of a point. After the divorce, and depending on where I end up living, I hope to be doing more of that.)

Anyway, I think the public is right not to have a lot of trust in journalism in general, though I know particular journalists working in mainstream media who really do work hard to get the story right. Next week The New Yorker is set to publish a big piece about US conservatives and Hungary. I cooperated with the reporter because the two previous pieces that different reporters for that liberal magazine did on me, they treated me fairly. Still, I would say that the faults of our media have far more to do with crusading idealism and a lack of curiosity about the world outside their bubble than they do with the concentration of media in fewer hands, and in left-wing locales. I live most of the time in Baton Rouge, which is deep Trumplandia. I’d wager that very few conservatives there would describe our local paper as conservative-friendly. If you’ve ever been to Tennessee, you know how conservative that state is, but how liberal its newspapers are. Besides, when I was in the newspaper business, lots of local papers looked to The New York Times, and to a lesser extent the Washington Post, as models for what to do next. It doesn’t do you much good to have a newspaper in Phoenix or Milwaukee if the newsrooms are taking their cues from Manhattan and DC.

The point is that these people who run our media are increasingly only talking to themselves. Remember how, for five minutes after Donald Trump’s win, the ruling class decided that it was going to think really hard about how it missed him coming. That was fun, wasn’t it? This echo chamber is a disease of our elites. I don’t know if you can read N.S. Lyons’s invaluable Substack without a subscription, but here’s a clip from his latest, in which he interprets a US State Department communiqué:

In this case my main goal will be to provide at little light instruction on how to understand – and even enjoy! – the fine and subtle flavors of trans-Atlantic internationalist bureaucratese, a heady brew by which the most powerful countries in the world not named China can openly outline policies intended to help dismantle popular democracy while talking about strengthening democracy.

Here, I’ll provide translations of a few lines from this fine example of a Communiqué to assist in this lesson:

6. A society in which individuals can freely exercise the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas of all kinds, is of foundational importance for democracy and liberty. Free and plural media are an indispensable component for this: by providing accurate information and diverse viewpoints, they enable the public to participate in societal debates, make informed choices, and hold their governments to account.

Translation: We’re all liberals who support free speech around here, because we are the good guys. In theory we even believe in the public being able to hold governments to account. You can stop reading here.

7. Information manipulation, including disinformation, and hate speech can undermine and hinder open, democratic dialogue and debate, and can promote division and polarization. As a result of targeted harassment and abuse, some parts of society, especially groups subject to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination such as women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, and members of marginalized racial and ethnic communities, censor themselves, avoid specific topics, and even refrain from participating in public debates online[.] Online harassment and abuse not only impedes individual ability to exercise their right to freedom of expression, but the suppression of diverse voices results in an opportunity cost in terms of the free exchange of ideas and ultimately lost innovation. This can result in the dominance of one-sided, false or manipulative content in public discourse online.

Translation: But actually too much speech is bad; we agree with the new theory that, because of intersectionality, equal free speech requires selective censorship, therefore censorship is good for free speech.

8. To counter these threats, we will work together to protect and advance freedom of opinion and expression as laid down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and further enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The G7 will take measures to preserve and promote free, independent and pluralistic media landscapes and improve economic, social, legal and actual conditions for those who shape those media landscapes to serve our democracies.

Translation: Since upholding human rights requires censorship, some top-down guidance needs to be provided to those who “shape” media and tech in order to “serve our democracies.”

It goes on like that. Read the whole thing — and if you don’t subscribe, please do. What Lyons — the pseudonym of a spy in the swamp — really does show how these elites are trying to impose anti-democratic, illiberal-left policies on populations that are unaware of what’s being done to them. This is one of the things I discovered about the Orban/Hungary situation: that nearly everything that Western ruling class people accuse the Orban government of, they do too! They lie to themselves about what they are doing — and then they lie to the rest of us, confidently.

Did you know that some leading members of our ruling class are actually planning to “decolonize Russia”? No kidding. I found this via Niccolo Soldo’s Substack:

Soldo writes:

A common thread in postwar histories of WW2 was one that liked to paint Adolf Hitler as increasingly unhinged and detached from reality towards the end of the Third Reich. We were told stories of how he liked to indulge himself in flights of fancy, surveying architectural models of a new Berlin, one that was to be built after Germany won the war, despite the Allies already closing in on both sides. Delusions of future grandeur, while everything was collapsing all around him. A case of “cope”?

The feel of omnipotence after a string of great successes can often lead one to think of themselves as permanent victors, incapable of defeat. This enters the realm of delusion when the facts on the ground run counter to the perception of victory. This is the real estate currently occupied by a large segment of the US foreign policy community.

Decolonize Russia. These idiots actually believe they are going to decolonize Russia. More:

Who is the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, you ask?

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent commission of the U.S. Federal Government. For over 45 years, the Commission has monitored compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advanced comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental, and military cooperation in the 57-nation OSCE region.

In short: it’s another of the zillions of committees run and financed by the US Government. The US Government held a panel earlier today on the “need” to partition Russia. Let that sink in for a bit.

One more bit from Soldo’s piece:

Tomorrow’s panel is a further step forward in that it tells ordinary Russians that even regime change and democracy is not good enough for them. They require the partition of their country into smaller (more easily controlled) polities, so that they can be free. Needless to say, this is a propaganda coup for Putin and the Kremlin as it allows them to paint the conflict in Ukraine as an existential fight.

I am fond of saying that the genius of the United States of America is its ability to absorb, co-opt, and then monetize any trend that comes its way. “Decolonizing Russia” is simply woke terminology for its partition. This symbolizes how the USA has managed to co-opt “Wokeness” for its own foreign policy objectives.

Read it all, if you can.If you need a subscription, it’s worth it — Soldo’s Substack is consistently interesting and provocative.

Maybe I’m naive, but I bet that every one of the CSCE panelists really do believe their own propaganda. Just like American journalists believe the very best about themselves. Only bad people — Putin apologists, Trumptards, fundagelicals, bigots of all sorts — could possibly doubt the justice of their cause. Therefore, why listen to these people? Queer the Donbass! It’s a moral imperative! Like Soldo says, twenty years ago, we were told we had to wage war on the Bad People Who Hated Us For Our Freedom, in the name of democracy. Now we are told we have to do it for woke reasons. Same old idiotic imperialism. Same old risking other people’s children.

But there are other dire consequences to the man in the Western street to prolonging this war. This week in England, I spoke to a well-informed man who told me that last month, the governor of the Bank of England warned about “apocalyptic” food and energy price rises coming later this year. I had not heard that. Here’s what the BBC reported at the time:

The possibility of more rises in food prices is a “major worry” for the UK and other countries, the Bank of England governor has warned.

Apologising for sounding “apocalyptic”, Andrew Bailey said the war in Ukraine was affecting food supplies.

Mr Bailey also defended the Bank’s performance following criticism it has not done enough to try to rein in rising prices.

Inflation – the rate at which prices rise – is at a 30-year high.

Mr Bailey warned that a “very big income shock” from the increase in global goods prices would hit demand in the economy and push up unemployment.

He also said that difficulties shipping out food supplies from Ukraine could hit world supplies of wheat and cooking oil.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around this situation,” Mr Bailey said.

“And that is a major, major worry and it’s not just I have to tell you a major worry for this country. There’s a major worry for the developing world as well. And so if I had to sort of, sorry for being apocalyptic for a moment, but that is a major concern.”

This is not just any banker. This is the equivalent of the head of the US Federal Reserve. My source told me about a friend of his, a member of Parliament, who spent last weekend laying in stores of rice and pasta for the fall and winter.

Yet the ruling class (in the US, at least) is eager to “decolonize Russia” — it’s “a moral and strategic imperative” — while our own people starve and freeze in the dark, and government officials cooperate with compliant media to lie to the people about what the ruling class is doing to them. We’ll all have Drag Queen Story Hour — “nothing inherently sexual” about it, you bigot! — by candlelight, I guess.

This is not going to end well. Prepare — read Live Not By Lies, for one.

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Queer To Infinity — And Beyond!

Buzz Lightyear

Look how proud the police in Columbus, Ohio — which is about as Middle America as you can get — are over their Big Gay Police (ahem) Cruiser:

Pink Police State, for sure!

Meanwhile, Alyssa Rosenberg, a Washington Post columnist, is panicking that somebody, somewhere, is failing to Celebrate Diversity. Excerpts:

“Lightyear,” Pixar’s latest attempt to frack its “Toy Story” franchise for profit, is not a very good movie. But it is a useful barometer of the current conservative backlash against LGBTQ rights. If people are truly angered by the lesbian relationship depicted in “Lightyear,” then maybe what seemed like a huge leap into a more tolerant future was just a moment of calm in an ongoing, and intensifying, culture war.

If people don’t want to go see this crappy propaganda, then we are just one tic away from Gilead! More:

It once seemed possible that the LGBTQ movement was powerful enough to reach infinity, and beyond. The response to “Lightyear,” and the ugly uprising it’s a part of, are a sobering reminder of how much work remains to be done on the ground.

Read it all. 

Can you believe these liberals? They have won everything, and are now just bouncing the culture-war rubble. And yet, any objection at all to the constant propagandizing strikes terror into their hearts. “How much work remains to be done on the ground” — this means they’re going to start waking us up in the middle of the night to scream, “GAAAAAAAAY!” at us. Or something. They cannot bear any dissent, ever.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, every month is Pride Month! Here is a link to the school system’s plan to “queer all school year”:

Alyssa Rosenberg’s grief over the failure of many people to embrace “Lightyear” reminds me of this story Solzhenitsyn tells in The Gulag Archipelago:

At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). … For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the stormy applause, rising to an ovation, continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin.

However, who would dare to be the first to stop? … After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who would quit first! And in the obscure, small hall, unknown to the leader, the applause went on – six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly – but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them?

The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter…

Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved!

The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel. That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:

“Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.”

Coming soon from the soft totalitarians: don’t ever be the one to fail to take your kids to see a crappy movie because your sick and tired of having LGBT shoved down your throat.

Rusty Reno calls this the “Rainbow Reich”. Excerpt:

In my years as an Episcopalian, I had a front-row seat during that church’s rush to embrace gay rights. I came to see that well-to-do heterosexual Americans envied homosexuals. They were true to their desires. They had shed the burdens of guilt and shame, giving themselves absolution in activism and campaigns against “backward” and “medieval” notions. Eager to take off the starched collar of respectability and lay down the burdens of maintaining standards for the rest of society, the remnant of WASP elites in the Episcopal Church unsurprisingly rushed to embrace the rainbow flag.

I wish for everyone a path toward a decent and honorable life. I certainly know homosexual persons who have worked hard to make their ways toward that goal. But we must be honest about the Rainbow Reich. It has deregulated society to serve the interests of the abnormal. In doing so, it has demolished the norms, disciplines, and institutions that are the best hope for the vast majority of people.

Read it all.

Political scientist Darel E. Paul’s comment on the Pink Police State’s Big Gay SUV:

Tsk, tsk. Prof. Paul’s tweet is yet one more “sobering reminder of how much work remains to be done on the ground.” I suspect they’ll haul him off to a torture chamber, pry his eyes open like Malcolm McDowell’s in “A Clockwork Orange,” and force him to watch “Lightyear” until he vomits rainbows.

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Moloch For Moderns

Drag Queen Story Hour 'playfully reading kids into filth' (CBN Screenshot)

At what point are we going to wake up, see what the Left is doing to our children, and fight back hard? From City Journal:

Patricia (a pseudonym) is the mother of a teenage girl who in recent years has come to identify as transgender. She lives in California, considers herself progressive, votes Democrat, and leads a group for parents of children with rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)—that is, youth who suddenly experience distress with their bodies and believe that undergoing medical “transition” will make them whole again. When I spoke to her recently, she recounted how her daughter’s at-first-lesbian and then trans identity emerged in response to feelings of shame about being white.

I have since spoken to more than a dozen ROGD parents and parent-group leaders who tell a similar story. Their schools compulsively tell their children how awful it is to be white, how white people enjoy unearned “privilege,” how they benefit from “systems” put in place by and for white people for the sole purpose of oppressing “people of color.” Plagued by guilt, the children—almost all of them girls—rush to the sanctuary of “LGBTQ+” identity. Once there, they are catapulted into hero status. According to Patricia, some teachers at her daughter’s school are more forgiving toward “queer” and “trans” kids who hand in their homework late.

The students, especially the girls, absorb this messaging. They are acutely sensitive to how identity affects their social status and academic fortunes. They want the warmth that comes with queer/trans identity, but above all they don’t want to be thought of as vicious oppressors. Lacking maturity and self-confidence, they fail to put “anti-racist” indoctrination in its proper context. They do not appreciate its ahistorical, anti-intellectual, and anti-humanist foundations, nor are they aware of the incentives leading teachers and administrators to foist it on them. Being white is not something these teenagers can escape, but they can mitigate its social costs by declaring themselves part of an oppressed group.

You can’t become a BIPOC, but you can become queer. More:

The information asymmetry between parents and school personnel, I learned from speaking to parent-group leaders, is one of the main reasons concerned parents don’t speak up.

Once a child embraces a new “LGBTQ+” identity, her parents will find themselves powerless to stop what can easily become a swift decline in her mental and physical health. Her school, in addition to fueling her desire to escape “white cis” status, is almost guaranteed to have “affirming” and “inclusive” policies, meaning that it will unquestioningly use her preferred name and pronouns and, in many cases, hide that information from her “unsupportive” parents. An adult at Josie’s school encouraged her son to leave home and take up shelter at an LGBT center. Examples of teachers actively coaching students on how to “socially transition” without arousing suspicion at home, even providing them with chest binders, are not unheard-of. While this may not have the pedophilic connotations of “grooming,” it comes close in its deep antipathy for parental authority and its unilateral usurpation of parental responsibility for sexual education.

In April, parents at GUSD intercepted a private email exchange between top-level administrators after a teacher asked for guidance on how to teach LGBT content to third-graders. Craig Lewis, then in charge of the district’s “Restorative Practices & Positive Behavior Intervention and Support,” wrote that the district must “teach that LGBTQ+ is everybody” and that “we are all probably best described as queer.” According to Jo (a pseudonym), who is fighting for school transparency in the district, parents protested against critical pedagogy indoctrination at a school board meeting, but teachers’ union representatives went around the room videotaping those who spoke out, plainly hoping to intimidate them into silence. A number of parents filed Public Records Act requests to see what was being taught and said to their children at school. To the extent school authorities responded at all, they did so with evasion and gaslighting.

Read it all. Leor Sapir is the author. The attack on children’s psyches is satanic. What kind of country are we going to be living in when these wounded children become adults?

Remember this?

The progressives really are groomers, you know:

More from that academic paper, discovered by James Lindsay:

They want to teach little children to “live queerly.” In this passage, the emphasis is from James Lindsay:

They want to groom children into “queer ways of knowing and being,” and to “[read] each other to filth”. (“Read for filth” is a slang term meaning to gravely insult someone.) There it is. Plain as day. Read Lindsay’s entire thread for more.

Unfortunately, we have to deal with an administration that is totally onside with the Groomer-Industrial Complex. Here’s some good news from Republicans, though:

Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and the Republican Study Committee, a House caucus led by Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.), announced on Wednesday that they would be introducing the Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act in both chambers of Congress this session.

The bill responds to growing concerns over the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures to alter minors’ physiology and outward appearance. Once signed into law, the bill would allow victims and legal guardians to sue surgeons who perform gender-transition surgeries on minors — or doctors who prescribe them hormone treatments — up to 30 years after the subjects reach the age of majority.

Other provisions would clarify “that federal law cannot be construed to force medical practitioners to offer such procedures” and prevent “federal health funds from going to states that force medical practitioners to perform gender-transition procedures.”

UPDATE:

Follow Libs Of TikTok to get real world news that the media don’t want you to see. For example:

Lots of good reader response to this post. A reader I’ll call “A” responds:

It’s probably the case that a lot of parents are going to be faced with losing a child to some version of this. You’ve seen the statistics with the Zoomers? Propaganda works! It especially works when the entire social order supports it, and anybody who opposes it is treated as a neo-Nazi Klansman. That Hungarian media law you wrote about last year — it was trying to prevent kids being propagandized into hating their bodies and thinking that they need to cut off their breasts or their balls to be whole. This is what the Florida education law was meant to fight. What did we see? The entire media, business, legal, medical and liberal political order come down hard on them as the absolute antithesis of freedom and democracy.

This is true. A second reader — B —  sent me these highlighted screenshots from a Politico piece about the right-of-center Italian politician Giorgia Meloni:

And:

B observes, “A very revealing choice of words: what was mainstream yesterday is ‘radical’ today.”

Yes! This is how the propaganda works! Meloni believes in things that were perfectly mainstream until five minutes ago, but now she’s a problematic radical in the eyes of Politico.

Back to reader “A”:

The woke left is like a missionary religion. It believes all white people should be forced to convert to the successor ideology, and that professing the True Faith should be required to enter into the middle and upper classes in our society. When the right lost the culture war in 2015 [I’m guessing he means Obergefell — RD], the left was free to reshape the culture as it wanted to, and is no longer required to debate the opposition. It is free to crush them.

It’s worth noting how far removed these people are from the traditional concerns of the left. The woke left is totally at peace with globalization, unrestrained capitalism, powerful multinational corporations, the security state, and the oligarch class. Any leftist prior to 1980 would have screamed bloody murder about all of these things. But the woke left treats it like the Ring of Power: they are happy to welcome domination by these powerful elites, as long as the elites guarantee that they never have to worry about some white heterosexual Christian saying something that scares them. James Poulos got it right when he prophesied the coming of the Pink Police State. This is why the modern urban professional classes in Western countries can console themselves for being good leftists even while they embrace a level of inequality, exploitation, marginalization, and warmongering that they would have recoiled from in their youth.

Make no mistake: the woke left literally is coming for our children, and if we don’t hand our kids over, we will be denounced as a bigot covered in the blood of the sacred victim classes, as we had killed them ourselves. I remember when you published The Benedict Option five years ago. Everybody thought is was overly alarmist. Today, we are getting to the point where if you don’t have a Benedict Option community, you are at serious risk of losing your kid to the madness.

This reader, with whom I’ve corresponded before, and who is a military veteran, writes:

When we went to war after 9/11, the government told us that we had to do it to protect our way of life from those who hated us, and wanted to destroy that way of life. Now we have lost two wars, and have lost that way of life. The terrorists didn’t take it from us. It was stolen from us from within.

Even further, all the time, effort, and energy that the right put into “shoring up the imperium” (MacIntyre) and supporting our foreign adventurism would have been far better spent conserving a semblance of our traditional culture at home. Your friend Douthat got it right when he said that the collapse of the Bush administration directly foreshadowed the emergence of Obama as a liberal Reagan, and the subsequent defeat of the right on every social issue in question for the last ten to twenty years. If Republican establishment types (the kind that have learned nothing and forgotten nothing, but is prepared to launch another war, this time in Ukraine) want to know why they are so hated, there you go.

Shame on Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine! That said, I’m not sending my son to fight and die to queer the Donbass and to make Ukraine safe for woke capitalism. Who from abroad can look to what we in the US and the UK (where I am staying temporarily, and boy, wokeness reigns) are doing to ourselves, and see our decadence as a model? The evil of Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin does not make us morally sane, you know.

 

 

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The Cathedral Vs. Yeshiva

Beth Weiss, LGBT student activist at Yeshiva University (Fox 5 New York screenshot)
An academic reader who is religious, but not Christian, writes about this lawsuit that Yeshiva University lost, and plans to appeal, but which will now require it to recognize and financially support an LQBTQ club on campus.
A New York judge ruled that Yeshiva is not a religious institution. Can you imagine? From the NYT:

Yeshiva was represented in the lawsuit by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a high-profile public-interest legal and education firm based in Washington, D.C.

Eric Baxter, the vice president of the Becket Fund and the lead attorney on the case, said the judge’s semantic analysis had led to an “obviously mistaken” ruling that missed the forest for the trees.

“Courts don’t get to quibble over whether you said enough in your article of incorporation about your religious character,” Mr. Baxter said. “That is contrary to clearly established case law that says courts don’t get to second-guess a religious institution’s religious activities when its religious characteristics are plain and obvious.”

He added: “There are few religious institutions of higher education that are more religious than Yeshiva.”

Mr. Baxter shared documents in court that illustrated how religion shapes Yeshiva’s operations, including a policy that encourages students to undertake intensive religious studies in Israel, with 80 percent doing so; a requirement that male students spend between one and six hours a day studying the Torah; and another policy stipulating that every door on campus must show a mezuza, a traditional religious item.

Yeshiva also said that student government officers are instructed to help the administration “maintain the religious atmosphere on campus” and that student clubs and other activities are reviewed for “religious compliance.”

“Nobody goes to Yeshiva University thinking they are getting a strictly secular education, and courts cannot get into the business of saying, ‘Well this isn’t religious education, this is secular education,’” Mr. Baxter said.

This is a completely bizarre ruling. How willfully blind do you have to be to say that Yeshiva is not a religious institution? Something tells me that the judge had her mind made up before the first arguments were heard. Another thing that ticks me off is that LGBT rights are widely accepted and celebrated in nearly every college and university in this land. Yeshiva is one of a relative handful of institutions of higher education where people who choose to attend do not have to violate their religious consciences by burning a pinch of incense to the LGBT Caesar. But the Grand Inquisitors of the new religion will not tolerate any dissent. Their god is a jealous god. LGBT has been baptized by capitalism and is now one of the Blessings Of Liberty™ that the United States must establish firmly here, and export like cultural imperialists missionaries the world over. The consequences of this activism are completely and totally irrelevant. The loss of traditional liberties, and the crushing of religious believers who do not submit, don’t matter, as long as the Narrative is locked in. We should have learned this long ago with the general indifference towards inner-city violence that would be national news if it happened in the suburbs.

Anyway, my correspondent writes, about the Yeshiva verdict, “I don’t need to tell you how catastrophic this ruling could be for religious higher educational institutions.” More:
This particular ruling seems to have hinged on a technicality — in 1967, Yeshiva amended its charter to call itself an educational institution. Of course, it has never stopped being religious, and presumably its administration and trustees took for granted that this was widely accepted and uncontroversial; after all, their name is Yeshiva. Since I am a higher education administrator, I know how decisions are made inside universities —  most likely, back in 1967, the amendment to the charter allowed Yeshiva to apply for federal grants and funding that might not have been available to it otherwise. Somewhere in a filing cabinet the minutes of the meeting where that decision was made may exist. Or they may not. Now, here they are.
This ruling terrifies me more than anything that’s happened in this space recently. If religious people are to ever follow the Benedict Option and make a strategic retreat from secular institutions, we will need religious higher educational institutions, and not just Christian ones. We need Yeshiva, we need a Muslim equivalent, we need a broad array.
I’m actually not opposed to LGBTQ+ clubs on public university campuses like mine. We are state-funded and we need to treat RUF, Hillel, the atheist clubs, the Muslim Students Association, the LGBTQ clubs, and every other one, equally. We are bound by the First Amendment.
But this Yeshiva ruling is an unprecedented assault on religious freedom. I despise Donald Trump, I voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, but today I hope this case gets to the Supreme Court quickly, and thank God for Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. (I’m still a little queasy about Kavanaugh….)
I say this knowing that resting my hope in politicians or judges is a form of defeat. I’m a professor, I know that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Fighting the lawsuit may be a bulwark — or may just be buying time.
Yes, I was never a Trump fan, though I did not vote for either Democrat. But I have been come to be grateful to Trump for those SCOTUS picks, and have recognized that if not for Trump, religious liberty would be in much worse trouble today.
We have to do the best we can. There is ultimately no political solution to this cultural and civilizational crisis. But politics can keep the space open for us to create and spread the cultural and religious solutions. Politics are not sufficient to address the crisis, but they are necessary. What the LGBT plaintiffs are doing to Yeshiva is bullying, and I’m sick and tired of it. If and when the backlash comes, they will deserve it. Circa 2005, the naïfs used to say, “How does my neighbors’ gay marriage hurt me?” People like me tried to explain, but they didn’t want to hear it. Now gay marriage is popular, and it’s not going away — but people who don’t accept this ought to be able to have their own spaces and institutions where they can be faithful to their religious beliefs. Many LGBTs and their fellow travelers won’t have it.
Here in Britain, where I’m staying for the moment, there is a bill in Parliament that would ban “conversion therapy” — the attempt to treat someone who is LGBT to help them deny or get rid of those desires. The Tory government wants to ban LGB conversion therapy — including religious prayers! — but leave transgenders out of it. Others, including some Tory MPs, insist on including trans people. One amazing thing about this is that a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam who prayed with a believer who did not want to have L, G. B, or T desires would, if this thing passes into law, be a criminal.
Put another way, it’s perfectly legal now to practice therapy to convince someone to accept and to act on same-sex attraction, or the feeling that they are of the opposite sex, but one would not be able to do the opposite. Conversion therapy for me (against moral and religious tradition), but not for thee.

The Culture War is really a War of Religion. We are fighting Moldbug’s Cathedral, which, if you don’t know the concept, read this:

I notice more people using this label, which I coined a long long time ago, and have always had ambivalent aesthetic feelings about. I used a capital C, but I see more of the miniscule and I think it’s better.

“The cathedral” is just a short way to say “journalism plus academia”—in other words, the intellectual institutions at the center of modern society, just as the Church was the intellectual institution at the center of medieval society.

But the label is making a point. The Catholic Church is one institution—the cathedral is many institutions. Yet the label is singular. This transformation from many to one—literally, e pluribus unum—is the heart of the mystery at the heart of the modern world.

The mystery of the cathedral is that all the modern world’s legitimate and prestigious intellectual institutions, even though they have no central organizational connection, behave in many ways as if they were a single organizational structure.

Most notably, this pseudo-structure is synoptic: it has one clear doctrine or perspective. It always agrees with itself. Still more puzzlingly, its doctrine is not static; it evolves; this doctrine has a predictable direction of evolution, and the whole structure moves together.

The Cathedral is now every institution in modern Western life. Mostly what’s left to us devotees of rival religions is guerrilla warfare and subversion. Let’s get on with it. In the meantime, understand that we are fighting for our right to exist, and that if that means voting for political candidates we find distasteful, but who will stand up for us when the more respectable ones will not, then we have no choice to be vote for our allies.

UPDATE: A religious liberty lawyer writes:

For years, lawyers at Alliance Defending Freedom, Becket, and First Liberty Institute advised religious universities to expressly define their Religious Beliefs on sexuality — in Articles of Incorporation, Statements of Faith, Employment Handbooks, etc. Time and again, lawyers like us were thwarted by (1) the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and (2) General Counsel educated at elite law schools. These risk-averse Establishment attorneys instead recommended that Christian colleges “hide” their beliefs to evade detection, to avoid “painting a target” on their back.
Yeshiva lost, in part, because the university failed to expressly define and consistently enforce their Sexual Ethics. Another Live Not By Lives lesson: Ignore risk-averse elite counsel who are addicted to mainstream prestige and desperate to remain in the commanding heights. They will rationalize and advise assimilation when “set apart” distinctiveness and faithful practice is the better course.

This is smart. I remember over a decade ago being told, in explicit terms, by an ADF lawyer that Christian schools had better be VERY explicit about their beliefs on sexual orientation and gender identity, and enforce those beliefs. A court is not competent to sort out theological views on sex and sexuality, but it will look to see if the institution has explicitly stated its views, and enforced them in practice.

So, for example, if Heritage Home Christian School (a made-up name) has not explicitly written down in its charter, and in the statement that it makes parents sign before enrolling their kids, that the school believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, exclusively, and that it believes homosexuality is sin, and so forth, it is leaving itself wide open to a lawsuit — and it’s likely to lose.

If Heritage Home Christian School puts all that in its documents, but doesn’t enforce it when challenged, it will lose. I know of a real-life case in which a Protestant Christian school headmaster and his board were struggling over how to handle a situation like that. They wanted to tolerate the daughter of an out lesbian couple who enrolled her there, because they wanted the child to be exposed to the Gospel, but they also worried that by doing so, they were setting themselves up for a lawsuit down the road.

In a different case, I talked with a Catholic lawyer who was critical of the then-bishop of his diocese dismissing out gay students and faculty from Catholic school. I told the lawyer that if the bishop didn’t do that, courts would eventually force the schools to violate Catholic teaching, because the bishop didn’t enforce it. This lawyer agrees with Catholic teaching, but thought it was better to err on the side of compassion. That is exactly the kind of thing that the woke left will use to destroy any opposition to SOGI.

UPDATE.2: Reader Nachum1 comments:

If I may contribute a few points, as a proud Yeshiva alum:

1. The change was made in 1970. There was a *huge* debate within the university over it. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the leading light of the institution, gave a famous speech (“I see ghosts”) condemning it, and most of the rabbinic instructors did as well. My father (also an alum, and an ordinee of Yeshiva’s seminary) remembers people warning that the Ivies also started as religious institutions and look what happened.

Various assurances were given, various aspects worked into the system, and things calmed down. (The date “1970” actually appeared on the seal of one of the schools for a while, but it was eventually removed, because it meant nothing.) I don’t think any of those protesters in 1970 had any tiniest inkling that this is what would happen. Their concerns were more about what would happen to the school- which, as it happened, changed not one bit- than what it would be *forced* to do. (Incidentally, the school, if anything, became far more *committed* religiously, for reasons that didn’t have to do with the change in status.)

2. You understate the extent to which YU (as it’s called) is a religious institution. No one takes one hour of religious studies a day. Most students take about six or seven, and spend the rest of the day earning a regular BA in their field of choice. I spent four years on campus and finished with 180 credits (a typical BA in other institutions is 128), of which about 90 were in Jewish studies- and I was in a program that was on the low end of that scale. I would estimate that for many students the total would be 100 or more out of 200. Evening Talmudic study is optional and yet the study halls are packed with students participating. Over ten percent of the male undergrads go on to be ordained. The school is completely non-co-ed- the men’s and women’s campuses are on opposite ends of Manhattan, about ten miles apart. (There was even a revolt of the rabbis when a proposal was made that the women’s campus be moved a few blocks away.) YU doesn’t have any religious test for admission, but the undergraduate student body is 100% Jewish and close to that percentage Orthodox. (This is mostly a practical result: Anyone who can get into YU, which is a pretty good school, can get into an equally good- and probably cheaper- school without all these requirements. See below.) Even the graduate schools- whose student bodies are a large majority non-Orthodox and non-Jewish- serve, by rule, only kosher food at all events and are completely closed on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Etc. etc.

3. What really needs to be stressed here is the absolutely totalitarian character of all this. Take a look at the plaintiffs in the case. One guy is a completely straight “ally”, no longer in the school. (When I dared make some point against this, the guy actually went rummaging in the paper archives of the school newspaper and found a letter I wrote *thirty* years ago in an attempt to cancel me.) One is anonymous. And one is “queer”- which of course can mean anything, and nothing- and is also no longer in the school. And…that’s it. Any sensible court following long-standing Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence would have thrown this thing out immediately for lack of standing.

As you point out, Rod, there are thousands of institutions of higher learning in the US. These kids could have gone to *any* of them. They knew *exactly* what they were getting when they applied to YU. And if they didn’t, they were free to transfer somewhere else in the middle of their schooling. (The vast majority of even Modern Orthodox kids in the US don’t go to YU but to various state schools like CUNY or SUNY or Rutgers or Maryland.) And even if they didn’t…so they didn’t get funding (this is, of course, all about official recognition and funding: The kids can make whatever club they want, YU is a pretty free place) for a club representing their perversions. So what? Would that be their worst tragedy? The gayest parts of the United States are a short subway ride from YU’s campuses. And there are of course rules at YU about numbers of people needed per club, and I doubt they’d meet them. But no, the totalitarian impulse here means that every knee must bow, as Jews say in their prayers three times a day in a very different context.

Back when I was an undergrad, there was an attempt to open a branch of AEPi, the national Jewish fraternity, at YU. YU, by policy, has no Greek life, and so they opened it in an off-campus apartment. One of the rabbis gave a speech to the student body (something like half the undergrads chose to attend) decrying the very nature, not to mention the practical realities, of Greek life. (Because YU is some place, he- one of the more conservative of the rabbinical faculty- delivered part of the speech in Latin, a language he’d majored in when he himself had gone to YU.) I remember well a point he made: In the afternoon service of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, the reading from the Bible is the portion of Leviticus dealing with incest and other forbidden sexual relations. “Why?” he asked. “Wouldn’t you think that no one is actually thinking of forbidden sex at that moment and in that place? But no: Satan isn’t happy tempting us in any random place on any random day. He *has* to do it on the holiest moment in the Holy of Holies itself!” So too, he said, debaucheries can’t just take place in the other 5,999 universities in the US. They have to be imported into Yeshiva itself.

(His fears proved exactly right, by the way. There was a rape scandal, and the AEPi chapter was closed. A few years later, a chapter was opened again, and promptly suffered the same exact fate. The current iteration pretends none of that happened. The school has never recognized any of them.)

Jews are supposed to be a “light unto the nations.” I hope my alma mater fights this thing all the way to the top and, you never know, maybe starts a revolution against all the Woke horribleness.

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View From Your Table

Paris, France

 

I haven’t done one of these in ages, but this one — well, it’s one for the ages! The reader writes:

For years I had considered myself a foodie (I no longer prefer the moniker not because I don’t love good food and drink but because I don’t wish to make idols of such things).  Even so there were some foods I eschewed… such as oysters.  Meanwhile my favorite author (our working boy) wouldn’t shut up about them.  One fateful day on the Gulf Coast I tasted and saw that they were good!

Eight years later I finally had the chance to visit Rod’s mecca: Huitrerie Régis.  Be advised, dear Reader, that reservations are in fact required these days.  But thankfully we could still order a few dozen to go.  We carried our precious cargo to the banks of the Seine and voila!  I must admit after a long walk I had begun to doubt if it would prove worth the effort.  But these were indeed the best oysters I’ve ever tasted.  Deliciously briny up front with mind bogglingly sweet flesh.  Thank you Rod for leading me down the path!

The reader, a Californian, sent me a short iPhone video of the meal, taken on the banks of the Seine, with lilting jazz music. I know my work here on this planet must be done, because I died and went to heaven, and am posting this from the great beyond.

Régis retired, and passed on the shop to new owners, but the quality is undiminished. Unless they have a new policy, you can’t make reservations; you just have to show up and wait. Readers, it’s worth it — but also a delight to take the oysters to go, and walk over to the Seine. Make sure to have a bottle of cold, dry white wine.

What are YOU eating this summer?

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DeSantis Vs. Hated GOP Establishment

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Source

This part of the New Yorker‘s profile of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is saying the quiet part out loud:

For decades, the Democratic Party had commanded a majority of Florida’s registered voters. But the state was changing, as Trump’s election helped energize a shift in political affinities. The Republican Party’s rank and file became increasingly radical, and G.O.P. leaders appeared only too happy to follow them. “There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy,” Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff to Governor Bob Martinez, a moderate Republican, told me. “They had lots of different names—they were John Birchers, they were ‘movement conservatives,’ they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised—and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited.

“So what happened?” Stipanovich continued. “Trump opened Pandora’s box and let them out. And all the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics got a voice. What was thirty-five per cent of the Republican Party is now eighty-five per cent. And it’s too late to turn back.”

Read it all. 

Jeremy Carl is right about the GOP establishment, though I think the NYer piece, though clearly hostile to DeSantis, is worth reading:

Last night I got this text stream from a sophisticated conservative friend back in the US (I changed it slightly to hide his identifying details]:

Having spent a week hiking and rafting in the highways, byways, and towns along or near the Appalachian Trails and river ways, I have a greater appreciation for the Great Disintegration underway in these (Dis)United States:

1. The Blue Collar tradesmen who once formed the backbone of the Democratic Party distrust and HATE the “symbol manipulators” in the coastal Commanding Heights of NYC, Boston, LA, and Palo Alto.

And it is more cultural than political: Republican Romney is despised as much as Democrat Hillary.

The Deplorables are in the verge of revolt — and many are Hispanic business owners who hold to the Old Ways, which explains the Red Wave in South Texas.

2. JD Vance accurately described the disintegration of Hillbilly families wrought by globalization, cohabitation, pornography, and drugs.

I mentally assented to the concept, but was largely insulated from the physical consequences while living in [a major metropolitan area].

Our elites have callously destroyed Middle America and most of these unmarried men will never become computer coders.

Andrew Yang is correct: we better have a game plan for working class Middle Americans who once worked in factories, drove trucks, or served in the military / law enforcement.

No unequal civilization can survive this many “lost boys” addicted to booze, meth, and porn.

3. Racism explains much of the Past, but not much of the Present and probably nothing of the Future.

Hillbillies are still predominantly white, but intermarried, integrated, and organized by regionality and culture — not race.

Main Street [of one town where I vacationed] features Filipino shopkeepers selling NASCAR paraphernalia to whites married to Korean women wearing Harley Davidson leathers and MAGA hats.

CRT does not resonate here because everyone has relatives of every color.

The Great Realignment is underway.

Not since the 1890s have the parties endured such a tectonic shift in constituent loyalties.

David French is laughably wrong: champagne and caviar Think Tank classical liberalism is dead.

Dead, dead, dead.

If Republicans do not jettison The Donald AND the C-Suite Donor Class, we are headed for a Bull Moose moment.

DeSantis 2024

Interesting, the comment about Trump and the GOP donor establishment, linking them both as drags on the Right. I get the point: that the situation is becoming desperate for the kind of people Trump claimed to speak for, and they can’t tolerate another leader who says what they want to hear, but who does not, or who cannot (because of his own personal limitations), do anything substantive to help them. This is why I keep saying we don’t need the Return of Trump; we need an American Viktor Orban: a cunning politician who understands the nature of the fight in front of us, and who knows how to use power to advance the interests of his voters, against institutions captured by the Left.

I sense that the political and cultural moment is more radical than standard Republican politicians think. The other day here in England, I was in a supermarket, and saw a young guy, maybe late twenties or early thirties — stocking shelves there who looked like a plumber — an ordinary working class dude. But then I took a second look, and saw he had breasts, and his ponytail was tied off with a ribbon, and he had done his nails. An English friend who shops there said that’s a male-to-female transgender, a veteran of the British Army.

Obviously I don’t know a thing about that man and his history, and his problems, but it seemed so unbelievably sad. He doesn’t remotely look like a woman; he looks like a plumber with acne scars and boobs. He will never look like a woman, and never learn to move like a woman. What happened to this poor Englishman, a military veteran, to turn him into that? What turned him against his own body, against his own manhood? What kind of society have they created here (and we have done in the US) that celebrates this poor man’s self-destruction as liberation? What happens when ordinary men and women see the sons and daughters of their neighbors turned into that, and are told that they had better approve of it, or else?

That poor shelf-stocker is a condensed symbol for what has happened to the West. The elites who control our institutions in the West are all down with this civilizational suicide. Watch this idiocy from the US Navy. This is why I thank God that my strapping, weightlifting, big-hearted son chose to go to trade school and learn auto mechanics instead of entering the military, as he used to want to do:

Get me a presidential candidate who will end this bullsh*t and fire every damn general and admiral who brought this corruption into the Armed Services, and I’ll vote for him with no hesitation. Whatever else might be said about Ron DeSantis, he stood up to Woke Capitalism and the media, for the sake of protecting the children of Florida, at a time when most national GOP politicians kept their mouths shut. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in Republicans whose point in life is to make the poison pill go down easier. Mac Stipanovich and I are on the opposite side of this issue, but he’s right about this: “It’s too late to turn back.”

UPDATE:Like I said:

New documents exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital reveal that the U.S. Army is teaching West Point cadets critical race theory (CRT), including addressing “whiteness.”

Fox News Digital exclusively obtained the documents from government watchdog group Judicial Watch, whichhad to sue the military twice under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get the information.

“Our military is under attack – from within,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in the press release. “These documents show racist, anti-American CRT propaganda is being used to try to radicalize our rising generation of Army leadership at West Point.”

Here’s one of the West Point slides:

 

UPDATE.2:Michael Brendan Dougherty on Stipanovich, the slimy GOP operative quoted in the piece. Excerpt:

Stipanovich is speaking for a type in American politics that we’ve seen over and over again at the very top: the cynical consultant who just wants to get his secretly or not-so-secretly moderate Republican over the line so we can cut taxes, bomb Islamic nations, and get a few good rounds of golf in — damn the hippies and the snake-handlers. This is the type of person that ran the McCain campaign and the Romney campaign into the ground. The only success this type ever had in politics was George H. W. Bush, and only because he was riding in after Ronald Reagan and running against Michael Dukakis. Nixon and George W. Bush had these types on staff, but they also had “movement conservatives” around. Because each of them understood that a party needs a lot of invites.

This type thinks they got the best of the religious Right and “movement conservatives.” They made their money, won a few elections, and get to go home, and now the New Yorker calls them up to get them to trash people they believed were marks and mooks.

I think the exploitation works both ways in politics. Stipanovich wanted the votes and to do nothing. But by forcing his candidates to “talk about abortion,” by forcing them to “promise and do nothing,” we used them to normalize the idea that Republicans should talk about abortion and should do something about it. Over time, that pays dividends. In fact, we used them so well that we forced Donald Trump, a guy who did cameos in pornography, to put three anti-Roe justices on the Supreme Court.

Thank you for your service to the cause, Stipanovich. Enjoy your golden years, and go to hell grateful that we found something you could be used to do.

Amen. I’ve had it with these rotten people.

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