Showing posts with label daniel henninger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label daniel henninger. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the sudden consensus on the Confederate battle flag. For one thing, since the ball really got rolling there appears to be practically no one left on the sidelines to claim that the neo-Confederates are being oppressed. Usually these days, when someone points out outrageous beliefs -- or even just promotes non-outrageous beliefs of his own -- the counter-strategy is to claim oppression. Schoolbook writers wish to inform AP U.S. History students that antebellum slaveholders believed in white supremacy? "Orwellian," says Daniel Henninger at the Wall Street Journal. Want to see more minority writers? Then you want to "crack down on the number of Fitzgeralds or Faulkners or Cormac McCarthys," says Ian Tuttle at National Review (because literature is a zero-sum game). Don't want public money used to pay for privatized schools? You're George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, howls NR's Kevin D. Williamson! Conservatives have become the nation's biggest drama queens, yet scores of them are abandoning the Lost Cause and not even crying Boot Human Face Forever about it. That's impressive!

Well, not all of them. "Behold the Cultural Power of the Left," wails Rich Lowry at National Review:
On the Confederate battle flag, we are once again witnessing the sheer cultural power of the Left: take an irrelevancy (or at the very least a sideshow), make it the central, all-consuming issue, move the debate with astonishing speed, and then, after achieving the initial victory (in this case, removing the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol), demand yet more (now Wal-Mart and other retailers aren’t going to sell Confederate-flag paraphernalia and there will be a broader assault on anything associated with the Confederacy). This is the grinding wheel of the Left’s cultural war in action.
Sarah Palin gave him starbursts, but Nikki Haley has left Lowry limp. Now, I know Haley's just made a calculation here to sacrifice this many goobers for this much national cred. And I suspect, as the tide turned, Republicans both Southron and otherwise looked on the bright side and saw the big upside in severing the Party's connection to this symbol of Treason in Defense of Slavery. (Some of 'em are even trying to pin the flag to Hillary Clinton!) But that's politics, kids -- the scumbags who rule us won't get their asses off the stove unless someone turns on the heat. And now a significant number of citizens won't have to explain to their kids why their town tells them every day that they would put them in irons if they could, at least by that medium. Let us enjoy the moment.

UPDATE. Jonah Goldberg makes everything worse!
I agree with you, of course, about the moral horror that was slavery. I basically agree with you about the ultimate issues at the heart of the war. I may or may not agree with you about the extent to which southern soldiers saw the war for what it was, but that’s probably as much a matter of my ignorance as anything.
No comment.
...As a matter of reason alone, the United States flag stood for “white supremacy” too, at least when looked at through the eyes of African slaves and Native Americans. But I think everyone here would agree that while that may have once been one of many arguable interpretations of the Stars and Stripes, it no longer is (though I have no doubt there are plenty of professors out there who would like to argue the U.S. flag still stands for white supremacy).
I wonder if Goldberg knows what flag the Union soldiers carried into Richmond, and which flew when Lincoln came and the city's freed slaves gathered to celebrate their emancipation?

UPDATE 2. How's this for a Forced March through the Institutions? Rand Paul is agin' the battle flag now! The same Rand Paul who just five short years ago was explaining that the Civil Rights Act is anti-freedom. I've heard politics makes strange bedfellows, but this is practically Man on Dog.

UPDATE 3. Now Mollie Hemingway is comparing taking down Confederate flags and statues with the Taliban blowing up Buddahs, bless her insane little heart.

UPDATE 4. "I’ve been getting the feeling over the past few days that the Left is trying to troll us into defending the Confederate flag, simply by way of the trivial, obnoxious, and gratuitously partisan way they’re campaigning against it." I wonder if Mollie Hemingway is miffed that Robert Tracinski apparently doesn't read her stuff. In short, Tracinski wants some of the traitor relics to come down, but because of "love," not for the eee-vil reason the Left (whoever that is) is asking for it -- that is, as part of their endless "chipping away at America’s culture and seeking to expunge the parts of its history that don’t suit their ends." For example:
I have no problem striking the name of Jefferson Davis from our roadways, but I wouldn’t entirely expunge Robert E. Lee, and here’s where I think the campaign smacks of totalitarian-style overreach, attempting to send inconvenient history down the memory hole.
Orwell! Drink!
Lee’s reputation is not as a tyrant or fanatic but as a good and honest man fighting for a bad cause. I think it’s worth honoring him here and there, just so we are reminded that this combination can in fact occur.
You can read here the testimony of one of Lee's slaves on Lee's goodness and honesty ("Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to 'lay it on well,' an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine..."). Well, we all make mistakes; Lee probably had his slaves whipped but seldom, being so busy arranging to keep them in bondage through treason.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Daniel Henninger starts his Wall Street Journal column with a description of the Memory Hole from 1984, and regular readers know what that means: Liberals are once again forcing citizens to listen to lies such as "humans cause climate change," "the Iraq War was a mistake," "homosexuals have civil rights," etc.

This time Henninger's villains are the so-called "teachers" who are doing the latest revision of the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum for the College Board. (Apparently they revise the thing every couple of years. Parson Weems and the Pledge of Allegiance aren't good enough for these tenured radicals!)

 "The people responsible for the new AP curriculum really, really hate it when anyone says what they are doing to U.S. history is tendentious and destructive," says Henninger. (And why might that be? Sounds like some little pinkos have a guilty conscience.) These pencil-necks are deaf to the "pushback" to the revise that has "emerged in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Georgia," the intellectual jewels of our nation, and to the 56 real "professors and historians" who have signed a petition against it. No, they bask instead in the approval of something called the American Historical Association, which sure sounds like a union to me. And New York magazine and "one liberal newspaper columnist" have had the audacity to make fun of these good Americans; why, that's double Orwell with a side of Alinsky!

There's more, including a quotation from a non-committal press release from the historians (to give Henninger's readers that got-'em-on-the-run feeling cultural warriors crave) and a tear for fallen comrade Lynn Cheney. But after all that, these are the examples from the actual revision plans Henninger picks to show us how Marxist is all is:
An example: “Native peoples and Africans in the Americas strove to maintain their political and cultural autonomy in the face of European challenges to their independence and core beliefs..."
This is in direct contradiction to the "dancing darkies" and "funny drunken injun" view favored by conservative historians.
Or: “Explain how arguments about market capitalism, the growth of corporate power, and government policies influenced economic policies from the late 18th century through the early 20th century..."
 Market capitalism doesn't "influence," libtards -- it heals, it soothes, it liberates!
And inevitably: “Students should be able to explain how various identities, cultures, and values have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial, and ethnic identities. Students should be able to explain how these subidentities have interacted with each other and with larger conceptions of American national identity.”
Apparently, even worse than acknowledging that slaves and conquered Native Americans had it tough is acknowledging that they had feelings and human interactions at all.

Maybe as soon he wrote these down Henninger realized he had nothin', because immediately he goes for the bullshit totem of the hour:
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld got attention this week for saying he understood why other comics such as Chris Rock have stopped performing on campuses beset by political correctness...
See, it all adds up! A pattern is emerging in all their P.C. hoo-hah: Their ideas fail, and they blame censorship rather than acknowledge that a growing number of people are figuring out they're full of shit.

UPDATE. In comments, whetstone points out that I missed Henninger's coup de horseshit:
At one point the curriculum’s authors say: “Debate and disagreement are central to the discipline of history, and thus to AP U.S. History as well.” This statement is phenomenally disingenuous.
Try and guess how Henninger will prove their disingenuity. Give up? Here:
From Key Concept 1.3: “Many Europeans developed a belief in white superiority to justify their subjugation of Africans and American Indians, using several different rationales.” Pity the high-school or college student who puts up a hand to contest that anymore. They don’t. They know the Orwellian option now is to stay down.
The history teachers are disingenuous, see, because they claim to believe in debate, yet who's going to debate their assertion that slaveowners and conquerors believed they were superior to their subjects? The only possible reason is Orwell! Perhaps Henninger and his buddies should publish a study guide to prepare students to contest this point of view; better still, a video;  even better a Vine, showing Brad Pitt being nice to Chiwetel Ejiofor, then a card that says YEARS PASS, and then a clip of Ben Carson at CPAC.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


(Here's the first installment of a year-end bottom-ten of the lowlights of 2014, culled from my archives and elsewhere. Read 'em and weep!)

10. Dunhamania! Culture war, as we call the unpleasant ruckus that ensues when political obsessives blunder among the muses, had another big year, with conservatives shaking their fists at everything from opera to comic books. Rather than survey all these cases, let’s focus on the instructive example of the one cultural artifact that seems most reliably to excite them: That marketing phenomenon known as Lena Dunham.

Conservatives first developed a hard-on for the Girls auteur during the 2012 Presidential campaign, when she made a pro-Obama ad, and they have yet to detumesce. The brethren hate other entertainment professionals, of course, but Dunham pulls so many of their triggers — she’s liberal, she’s a tattooed hipster, she has the nerve to act sexy despite not having a nice build like Ann Coulter — that she has remained their #1 groovy hate fuck, the Jane Fonda of the Obama age, at whom they rage for her sexuality as well as her politics.

This reached critical mass late in the year when Dunham released a celebrity memoir containing (as tell-all tradition demands) salacious details, including the news that, when Dunham was seven, she looked inside her one-year-old sister Grace’s vagina and found she had stuffed pebbles in there. Truth Revolt reported that Dunham was seventeen years old at the time (later correcting this “typo”) under the headline “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.”

National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson dug in -- “Grace’s satisfaction with her prank suggest that Grace was expecting her older sister to go poking around in her genitals and inserted the pebbles in expectation of it… There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode” -- even though he found the story “especially suspicious” — which just made it worse; imagine, lying in a celebrity memoir! When Dunham complained of this rough treatment — ensuring more press — the investigators of her celebrity memoir high-fived each other. “Lena Dunham is learning the power of the right,” gurgled Don Surber while strangling a pillow.

Then investigated another Dunham story about a college Republican named Barry who took advantage of her, and found that -- get this! -- some details were not verifiable (“A longtime employee at the Oberlin library could not recall working with any student with a flamboyant mustache”). A guy from Dunham’s college claimed the memoir defamed him because his name is Barry, too. “Sue the bastards,” cried professional scold Rod Dreher. “That’s the only way they will learn. Make the publisher withdraw the whole damn book…” The publisher instead agreed to add “a disclaimer that explains that the Barry described by Dunham was not really named Barry” and pay court costs, per Fox News.

There followed much popping of rightwing corks. "LENA DUNHAM WALKS BACK FABRICATED RAPE CLAIM" unh-unh-unhed John Hinderaker at Power Line. RedState called Dunham part of a “Rape Accusation-Industrial Complex” of women who habitually lie about sexual assault in order to advance a “victimization narrative.” The American Spectator’s Ross Kaminsky went further, tying the case to what he called the “lie” that Michael Brown didn’t deserve to be gunned down, and declaring that the “true motivation” of “too many” feminists is “hatred of men.” Ann Coulter added that Dunham, like all women who disclosed sexual assault after an interval, was just “trying to get attention.”

Despite their best efforts, or perhaps partly due to them, Dunham remains on the best seller list — without resorting to bulk sales to think tanks, imagine that! — and in the celebrity pantheon. Conservatives, for their part, maintain their place at the wrong side of a peephole, banging on the fence with one hand and doing God knows what with the other. Between the sexual rage, the rolling-out of big guns to prosecute a flimsy piece of pop-art crap, and the ultimate, flaccid ineffectuality of their efforts, could there be a more perfect example of culture war?

9. The right comes out for income inequality. The term is relatively new to common discourse, and in years past was mainly engaged by wingnut think-tankers to explain why such a thing didn’t exist. But Piketty’s big book and Obama’s mention of income inequality in his 2014 State of the Union led lumpen conservatives to modify their argument to: income inequality doesn’t exist, and so what if it does.

When rich guys complained the poor were giving them stink-eye, conservatives rushed to comfort them the best way they knew how: By associating their opponents with Nazis. At the Wall Street Journal, venture capitalist Tom Peters compared resentment of the rich to Kristallnacht; in the same venue, Ruth R. Wisse asked, “Two phenomena: anti-Semitism and American class conflict. Is there any connection between them?” and answered yes, because anti-Semites often complain about wealthy Jews, which makes any complaint against American oligarchs, despite the impressive number of goyim among them, a veritable Blood Libel.

Daniel Henninger (also at WSJ — these guys know their audience!) suggested that Putin was getting belligerent because he “surely noticed” that “the nations of the civilized world have decided their most pressing concern is income inequality,” and were too busy coddling paupers to trouble with the Ukraine. Ace of Spades protested the real problem was “social inequality” — that is, the alleged contempt of Democrats for rich people who are rightwing and folksy, such as the Palins or the Duck Dynasty guys.

And forget about trying to level the field with a higher minimum wage — that’s socialism. If you asked why the current minimum wage isn't already socialism, the brighter bulbs would tell you, you’re right, it is — let’s get rid of it altogether! Libertarian Virginia Postrel wept over all the folks out there with multiple jobs — not because they had the work multiple jobs, but because “employers can’t offer, and workers can’t take, lower wages in exchange for better hours. The minimum wage sets a legal floor.” The injustice of it! In fact, if you complained about getting your tiny wages ripped off by your boss, that too was socialism, or at least rather petty of you.

The simplest pro-inequality argument was advanced by Ben Domenech, who attributed any concerns over the ginormous 99%-1% gap to “jealousy… in real life, the money doesn’t stay in Scrooge McDuck’s vault, it goes into investments which pay more people to do more things.” Scrooge McDuck may someday build a condo, and you may get to clean its hallways, which along with your others job(s) may permit you to rent a hovel. Now stop complaining, anti-Richite!

8. Conservatives fall in love with Vladimir Putin. When Putin muscled Ukraine in March, very few conservatives called for the U.S. to intervene militarily. Nonetheless they blamed the Commander in Chief because, in the words of Rand Paul, he “hasn't projected enough strength and hasn't shown a priority to the national defense” — that is, he hadn’t rattled a saber that no one expected or wanted him to unsheathe.

But never mind those details -- the real issue for conservatives was less geopolitical than psychographic — rightwing pundits, however pencil-necked, worship butchness and reflexively attribute it to their heroes, such as former cheerleader George “he’s got two of ‘em” W. Bush, while portraying their opponents as sissies.

Judging from conservatives’ previous investigations of Obama’s wearing of mom jeans while pretend-shooting and bike-riding, not mention his unwillingness to punch down on the poor, clearly the President fits their definition of a sissy. But it’s hard to identify a domestic conservative with whose roughness they can creditably contrast Obama’s affect. Mike Huckabee? Newt Gingrich? Chris Christie, being a bully, might do, but he betrayed the brethren by accepting Federal help on Hurricane Sandy.

With such a weak bench, it was perhaps inevitable that conservatives would find a foreign dictator to embrace. Putin is ruthless, rugged, and hates homosexuals — really, their dream candidate if they could get the citizenship thing sorted. They’d been contrasting bare-chested manly man Putin with metrosexual Obama on flimsy pretexts for years (“IT LOOKS LIKE OBAMA IS PUTIN'S BITCH,” etc), but Ukraine really brought it out of them. They were especially fond of funny pictures, but employed wordcraft, too, e.g. “Putin Treating Obama Like Half a Fag.”

Putin received perhaps his most eminent conservative blessing from Sarah Palin, who sneered at Obama as “as one who wears Mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates” and sighed over Putin as “one who wrestles bears and drills for oil.” But the most grandiloquent paean may have been that of National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson, who found “value for us” — meaning for the American People, I guess — in “Putin’s confidence in his unabashedly thuggish means, the brutal fashion in which a modern state so unapologetically embraces the premodern mind to go after its critics… Putin speaks power to truth — an unpredictable, unapologetic brute force of nature.” Hanson did put in some mild admissions that Putin was not really a role model, in much the same way that the Shangri-Las told us their guy was good-bad, but he's not evil.

Months later, with the ruble crashing, Putin’s cowboy diplomacy doesn’t look like such a winner, and Obama’s restraint looks rather better. Since Kim Jong Un doesn’t look so hot with his shirt off, conservatives may have to wait for a coup to rekindle their dictator-love.

(More later.)