Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

30 March 2013

'Toon of the Day: The Worm's Bad Egg

Now, that Lil Kim has declared war on the US, will Dennis "The Worm" Rodman become Pyongyang Jane?


The Death of the Family

By Mark Steyn

Gay marriage? It came up at dinner Down Under this time last year, and the prominent Aussie politician on my right said matter-of-factly, “It’s not about expanding marriage, it’s about destroying marriage.”

That would be the most obvious explanation as to why the same societal groups who assured us in the Seventies that marriage was either (a) a “meaningless piece of paper” or (b) institutionalized rape are now insisting it’s a universal human right. They’ve figured out what, say, terrorist-turned-educator Bill Ayers did — that, when it comes to destroying core civilizational institutions, trying to blow them up is less effective than hollowing them out from within. 

On the other hand, there are those who argue it’s a victory for the powerful undertow of bourgeois values over the surface ripples of sexual transgressiveness: Gays will now be as drearily suburban as the rest of us. A couple of years back, I saw a picture in the paper of two chubby old queens tying the knot at City Hall in Vancouver, and the thought occurred that Western liberalism had finally succeeded in boring all the fun out of homosexuality.

Which of these alternative scenarios — the demolition of marriage or the taming of the gay — will come to pass? Most likely, both. In the upper echelons of society, our elites practice what they don’t preach. Scrupulously nonjudgmental about everything except traditional Christian morality, they nevertheless lead lives in which, as Charles Murray documents in his book Coming Apart, marriage is still expected to be a lifelong commitment. It is easy to see moneyed gay newlyweds moving into such enclaves, and making a go of it. As the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said just before his enthronement the other day, “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.” “Stunning”: What a fabulous endorsement! But, amongst the type of gay couple that gets to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, he’s probably right.

Lower down the socioeconomic scale, the quality gets more variable. One reason why conservative appeals to protect the sacred procreative essence of marriage have gone nowhere is because Americans are rapidly joining the Scandinavians in doing most of their procreating without benefit of clergy. Seventy percent of black babies are born out of wedlock, so are 53 percent of Hispanics (the “natural conservative constituency” du jour, according to every lavishly remunerated Republican consultant), and 70 percent of the offspring of poor white women. Over half the babies born to mothers under 30 are now “illegitimate” (to use a quaintly judgmental formulation). For the first three-and-a-half centuries of American settlement the bastardy rate (to be even quainter) was a flat line in the basement of the graph, stuck at 2 or 3 percent all the way to the eve of the Sixties. Today over 40 percent of American births are “non-marital,” which is significantly higher than Canada or Germany. “Stunning” upscale gays will join what’s left of the American family holed up in a chichi Green Zone, while beyond the perimeter the vast mounds of human rubble pile up remorselessly. The conservative defense of marriage rings hollow because for millions of families across this land the American marriage is hollow.

If the Right’s case has been disfigured by delusion, the Left’s has been marked by a pitiful parochialism. At the Supreme Court this week, Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, was one of many to invoke comparisons with Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. But such laws were never more than a localized American perversion of marriage. In almost all other common-law jurisdictions, from the British West Indies to Australia, there was no such prohibition. Indeed, under the Raj, it’s estimated that one in three British men in the Indian subcontinent took a local wife. “Miscegenation” is a 19th-century American neologism. When the Supreme Court struck down laws on interracial marriage, it was not embarking on a wild unprecedented experiment but merely restoring the United States to the community of civilized nations within its own legal tradition. Ted Olson is a smart guy, but he sounded like Mary-Kate and Ashley’s third twin in his happy-face banalities last week.

Yet, beyond the Court, liberal appeals to “fairness” are always the easiest to make. Because, for too much of its history, this country was disfigured by halfwit rules about who can sit where on public transportation and at lunch counters, the default position of most Americans today is that everyone should have the right to sit anywhere: If a man self-identifies as a woman and wants to sit on the ladies’ toilet, where’s the harm? If a woman wants to be a soldier and sit in a foxhole in the Hindu Kush, sure, let her. If a mediocre high-school student wants to sit in a college class, that’s only fair. American “rights” have taken on the same vapid character as grade-school sports: Everyone must be allowed to participate, and everyone is entitled to the same participation ribbon.

Underneath all this apparent “fairness” is a lot of unfairness. Entire new categories of crime have arisen in the wake of familial collapse, like the legions of adolescent daughters abused by Mom’s latest live-in boyfriend. Millions of children are now raised in transient households that make not just economic opportunity but even elementary character-formation all but impossible. In the absence of an agreed moral language to address this brave new world, Americans retreat to comforting euphemisms like “blended families,” notwithstanding that the familial Cuisinart seems to atomize at least as often as it blends. 

Meanwhile, social mobility declines: Doctors who once married their nurses now marry their fellow doctors; lawyers who once married their secretaries now contract with fellow super-lawyers, like dynastic unions in medieval Europe. Underneath the self-insulating elite, millions of Americans are downwardly mobile: The family farmers and mill workers, the pioneers who hacked their way into the wilderness and built a township, could afford marriage and children; indeed, it was an economic benefit. For their descendants doing minimum-wage service jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology, functioning families are a tougher act, and children an economic burden. The gays looked at contemporary marriage and called the traditionalists’ bluff. 

Modern Family works well on TV, less so in the rusting double-wides of decrepit mill towns where, very quickly, the accumulated social capital of two centuries is drained, and too much is too wrecked. In Europe, where dependency, decadence, and demographic decline are extinguishing some of the oldest nations on earth, a successor population is already in place in the restive Muslim housing projects. With their vibrant multicultural attitudes to feminism and homosexuality, there might even be a great sitcom in it: Pre-Modern Family — and, ultimately, post-Modern.

“Fiscal conservatives” recoil from this kind of talk like homophobes at a bathhouse: The sooner some judge somewhere takes gay marriage off the table the sooner the right can go back to talking about debt and Obamacare without being dismissed as uptight theocratic bigots. But it doesn’t work like that. Most of the social liberalism comes with quite a price tag. The most reliable constituency for Big Government is single women, for whom the state is a girl’s best friend, the sugar daddy whose checks never bounce. A society in which a majority of births are out of wedlock cannot be other than a Big Government welfare society. Ruining a nation’s finances is one thing; debauching its human capital is far harder to fix.

SoRo:  I differ with Mr Steyn on SSM, agree with him on most other issues, but always love his writing.

29 March 2013

Gay—or Left?

So averse are these academics to finding fault in Arab, Muslim, or other nonwhite communities that they have attempted to isolate mere discussion of homophobia by decrying it as a form of racism. Indeed, according to them, the promotion of gay rights is itself an offshoot of racism. The authors of the essay “Gay Imperialism,” for instance, condemned a German-government immigration form that asked for migrants’ views about spousal abuse and homosexuality. “This reflects a transformation of ‘European’ identities, which besides ‘democracy’ now claim ‘women’s equality’ and ‘gay rights’ as symbols of their superior ‘modernity’ and ‘civilization,’” the authors wrote, their utter dependence upon critical theory apparent in the number of scare quotes. “This elevates gender and sexuality to mainstream political status. While we welcome this development, we find it vital to note that its main basis is not a progress in gender and sexual politics but a regression in racial politics.” In other words, to expect immigrants from nonwhite majority countries to reject wife-beating and tolerate gay relationships is to be a racist.

The last stripe in this rainbow flag of cynical distortion is the alleged phenomenon of “pinkwashing,” defined by City University professor Sarah Schulman in a New York Times op-ed in 2011 as the “deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.”

Though the phrase gained worldwide attention thanks to Schulman, it actually first came to prominent attention in a 2010 piece in the British Guardian by Rutgers academic Jasbir Puar, who claimed Israel was engaged in a “gay propaganda war,” using its supposed openness to homosexuality as a smokescreen to trick gay activists into thinking better of it rather than standing with those who argue Israel is an evildoer because of its conduct toward Palestinians.

The campaign against “pinkwashing” reached a paranoid height in 2011 in a determined campaign by Arab and left-wing gay activists against—a Web portal featuring news and information about gay-related issues across the Middle East. That site found itself under attack by another—, a self-proclaimed “online resource and information hub for activists working on BDS [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] within queer communities to expose and resist Israeli pinkwashing.” is run by the “British Israeli Zionist Dan Littauer” and “regularly collaborates with neocolonialist Islamophobes such as Peter Tatchell,” claimed. (Littauer, in a response to his critics, explained that the only passport he holds is a German one). And, according to its enemies, the site failed to condemn Israel and the positions of its government on issues wholly unrelated to gay rights (such as relations with the Palestinians). To add insult to injury, it had the temerity to publish “article after article of [sic] how awesome Tel Aviv’s gay life is,” rather than the “anti-apartheid statements of the various Arab LGBT groups.” A separate statement signed by a coalition of Arab gay organizations acknowledged that, while “no one has ever asked it to comment on the borders, Jerusalem, or two-states vs. one state,” could not be considered as anything other than a front for Israeli interests.

But if anyone was doing any “washing” here, it was the Arab and other assorted “anti-imperialist” gay activists, who showed themselves to be willing puppets of an old Arab nationalist narrative that seeks to downplay internal conflicts within the Arab orbit (between Arab regimes and gay activists, for example) and instead direct efforts toward attacking the Zionist entity. In so doing, they unwittingly twinned Zionism and homosexuality, which is something that both Islamists and the secular Arab regimes they claim to oppose do on a regular basis. In response to the attacks on its editorial content and origins, noted that “in some Middle Eastern countries the accusation of links with Zionism can get activists arrested, tortured, jailed, and in extreme circumstances even killed. These false accusations of Zionism are putting the freedom and lives of our courageous GME contributors in danger.”


What the relativists ultimately cannot stomach are moral arguments coming from the mouths of Westerners, directed at non-Westerners. Writing in the Nation, Richard Kim assails “assumptions about the ‘clash of civilizations’ that supposedly pits enlightened, secular, humane Western society against backward, theocratic, oppressive Islamic society.” In the mind of the “anti-imperialist,” morality derives from oppression, and as it is the citizens of the “global south” who have always been the oppressed, it is they who have the right to figure these things out on their own terms, free from the hectoring of Americans, Europeans, or Zionist Israelis. “Absolute demands replace dialogues,” Long complains. “And the demands neglect disparities of power.” Gays in the UK, he writes, “have accumulated cultural capital and political influence” while “British Muslim communities…feel steadily more besieged, not only by daily prejudice but also by anti-immigrant hysteria and a security state,” as if the bigotry that exists in Britain toward Muslims excuses Muslim bigotry towards gays (and others).

These ideas will get an airing in April at the City University of New York, at a conference entitled “Homonationalism and Pinkwashing,” in which the United States will also be accused of using its supposed open-mindedness toward homosexuality as a propaganda tool. To the proponents of the “pinkwashing” meme, the hard-fought, tangible victories won by gay people over the past five decades are illusory, because America remains a capitalist, oppressive, and imperialist hegemon. “In the United States, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have been invited into an equality defined, not by rights, but by the ability to participate openly in immoral wars,” Sarah Schulman writes in the conference description, reducing over half a century of gay-rights activism to enjoying, as an acknowledged homosexual, the right to kill innocent, dark-skinned people. By failing to engage in a more radical, Marxist critique of society, gay activists have sold out: They advocate for “assimilationist” goals like marriage and military service, when what they should really be doing is undermining the patriarchy and advocating pacifism. They have become handmaidens to “homonationalism,” or the “collusion between LGBT people and identification with the nation state, re-enforcement of racial and national boundary, and systems of supremacy ideology no longer interrupted by homophobia."

As gay people overseas become increasingly emboldened by the gains seen in the West, they are taking on a new visibility, which can be seen in the proliferation of gay associations around the world and through public demonstrations in places ranging from Moscow to Colombo. This has resulted in a backlash from illiberal regimes and other hostile forces, often religious but sometimes also secular nationalist. And so the positive development of gay people asserting their place in society and demanding legal equality has been met with reactionary counterattack.

In determining a way to respond to this backlash, gay activists in the West already have a successful template from which they can learn: the campaign to free Soviet Jewry. Here was a cause that, no matter the statements of concern from various presidential administrations, had always remained an afterthought in American foreign policy. It took a grassroots movement, composed not only of American Jews, to bring the plight of Soviet Jewry to the forefront. Gay activists concerned with the oppression of gays overseas ought to find their own champion, as American Jews did in Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who fought for the passage of a 1974 provision penalizing countries that did not allow for the free emigration of their citizens. The campaign culminated in a massive, 250,000-person rally on the Mall during Ronald Reagan’s 1987 summit with Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev. According to Gal Beckerman, author of a recent history of the campaign to free Soviet Jewry, “Every time Gorbachev would walk into a meeting with Reagan by the mid-80s, the first thing Reagan would do—and we see this in memoirs and oral histories—is Reagan would pull out a piece of paper with names of Soviet Jews who had been refused visas or had been somehow sent to prison for their activism and he said, ‘Well if you want to talk, first we have to discuss these names.’” Gay activists should aspire to the day when they can get an American president to reenact this scene every time a Russian leader or Ugandan president or Gulf sheik visits the Oval Office.

But a necessary prerequisite of such a campaign is recognition of the cultural and political virtues of the West, a belief that the West does indeed have something to teach the world when it comes to the question of how gay citizens should be treated. This is something that too many gay activists and intellectuals refuse to do. Rather than expect Muslims to adopt more progressive and liberal attitudes, “LGBT activists” should “cooperate with embattled Muslims against police misconduct and policies of repression,” Scott Long wrote in that now discredited 2009 essay, because “a dress code that can be used against a woman in niqab can target a drag queen next.” Lamenting their “failure to be political,” Long wrote that Western gay activists “could profit a great deal from advocates in the Middle East—in Egypt, say, where secularists, including the very few ‘gay’ activists, have cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood on the shared ground of opposing the state’s control over the body, and a regime torture.” Such a prescription was laughable when it was made nearly four years ago; it’s a frightening recipe for disaster today. Following the advice of the “queer anti-imperialists” does not just pervert the cause of gay rights. It is quite literally a road to suicide.