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Friday, August 18, 2017

Charlottesville, Selective Outrage, And A Way to Defeat Hate



Charlottesville, Selective Outrage, and Demonization of White, American Men
Let's Overcome Hate with Empathy and Respect

One of the lessons I've learned from spending so much time on Facebook: not everyone reacts the same way at the same time. Certainly I, and no doubt others, have had that eerie experience of coming from the hospital room of an ailing loved one and finding nothing but happy vacation images, cute kitten videos, and smiling newlyweds on Facebook. Because I'm a news junkie, I experience this disorienting disconnect in the wake of what, to me, feel like world-shattering news events. I think, especially, of the San Bernardino jihad attack.

On December 2, 2015, food inspector Syed Rizwan Farook, the Chicago-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and his new bride, Tashfeen Malik, a recent immigrant from Pakistan and a new mother, murdered fourteen innocent people and injured twenty-two others. The victims were at an office Christmas party. Police would later say that Malik objected to her Muslim husband attending the Christmas party and that that objection may have triggered the shooting.

One of the dead that day was 45-year-old Shannon Johnson. Press accounts identify him as a Christian. Survivor Denise Peraza, then 27, reported that Johnson shielded her body from the rain of bullets. Peraza said, "I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him … amidst all the chaos, I’ll always remember him saying these three words, 'I got you.' I believe I am still here today because of this amazing man. This amazing, selfless man who always brought a smile to everyone’s face."

After the San Bernardino shooting, I was glued to news accounts. How could I not be? An apparently assimilated, American-born Muslim killed his co-workers, possibly because of an office Christmas party. How could he do such a thing? How could his wife abandon the greatest gift God can give to a woman – her newborn? What would be the fate of the baby? Why did immigration allow Malik to enter the country? Would immigration laws change? Would anything change?

I didn't want to focus, solely, on the killers. I made it a point to look at the photos of every victim, and to read as many of their stories as I could, before I became overcome by tears. Similarly, after the 9-11 attack, the New York Times published "Portraits in Grief," over 2,500 thumbnail obituaries. I made it a point to read those sketches, as well.

I noticed that a subset of my Facebook friends seemed to exist in a universe where the San Bernardino jihad attack never took place. They never posted about it. Never responded to any of my posts about it.

This was not an isolated incident. After a jihadi murdered little girls at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, after Linda Sarsour called for jihad "here in the United States of America," after two different California imams, on camera, in July, 2017, called for Muslims to kill all Jews, after, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, police officers were murdered in New York and Dallas, after a mentally disabled white teenager was tortured by four black assailants, who streamed video of their torture live on Facebook, these same Facebook friends who appeared to live in a bubble untouched by the San Bernardino shooting were similarly untouched.

Mind you, I'm not talking about small events. I'm talking about sadistic and murderous acts of hatred, or calls for murder, backed by ideologies that denigrate to complete insignificance the lives of all those identified as race criminals and enemies of the one true faith. I'm talking about events of historic proportions, that received international news coverage, news coverage that lasted for days. I'm talking, not about events isolated on any timeline, but events that were part of waves of warfare, in the case of jihad, stretching back 1,400 years. I'm talking about events that could list my name, or your name, or my Facebook friends' names, in any future news account. Nothing, no strategy, no politician's ameliorist or hardline rhetoric, no concrete barricade, protects any of us from a terror attack. We all wear targets. We all could be next. News accounts of terror attacks are news accounts about us.

And these Facebook friends posted happily away, living on some planet where these events simply never occurred. I thought about this. A lot. These are my friends. I've known some of them for decades. I think of them as people with consciences, awareness and compassion.

I invented excuses. Maybe they just don't look at the news, I told myself, though I knew that not to be true. Maybe they just want to post about happy things on Facebook. I knew this to be fiction, as well.

Everything changed in the third week of August, 2017. Suddenly my Facebook feed was a flood of outrage. It was bubbling, burning, insistent, internet lava.

On August 11 and 12, 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia, hosted the so-called "Unite the Right" rally. The announced purpose of the rally was to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from the park where the rally was held. Participants included those sporting Nazi and KKK insignia. Estimates of the number of protesters vary. The highest number I found was five hundred; the lowest, several dozen. At many points in the weekend, counter-protesters outnumbered protesters.

Conflict between protesters and counter-protesters reached its nadir when, it is alleged, James Fields, a twenty-year-old who had been living with his wheelchair-bound mother, whom he had repeatedly threatened or beaten, drove his car into counter-protesters, killing one and injuring many. Fields' own father, according to an uncle, had been killed by a drunk driver before Fields was born. These bare facts of Fields' biography suggest that he was a lost and troubled person. One hesitates to use the term "man," but twenty is a bit old for "boy." He is now an accused murderer. His life may have ended before he was able to begin it; in a heartbreaking online video, his mother says she had just recently helped him to move into his own apartment.

It goes without saying that the vast majority of Americans have little in common with the ragtag protesters at this rally. Again, counter protesters usually outnumbered so-called "white nationalists." America in 2017 is not Mississippi in 1965. America has twice elected an African American president, and warmly embraced his first family. Michelle Obama is one of the most admired women in America, according to polls. One of America's most prominent couples, Kim and Kanye, is a mixed marriage. African Americans occupy leadership positions throughout the political spectrum, from Clarence Thomas to Keith Ellison. Affirmative Action, numerous scholarships dedicated to African Americans, Black History Month, and too many special initiatives to mention signal that Jim Crow is dead and buried and not coming back.

To call the "Unite the Right" protesters "Nazis" is like calling those who attend Star Trek conventions "spacemen." The attendees at this rally cannot accurately be labeled "Nazis." To do so cheapens the word. As a descendent of loved ones who suffered under the Nazis, I am ill-equipped to serve as the Nazis' defense attorney, but even the Nazis had standards. The attendees are misguided, fringe, losers playing dress up.

Nor can they accurately be labeled Klan members. One online listing of protest leaders included one man with a Slavic last name, one man with an Italian last name, and one man who has or had a Jewish wife. The Ku Klux Klan reached its highest membership and greatest power, not after the Civil War, and not as a group of disgruntled former slave owners, but when millions of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe were entering the US one hundred years ago. That powerful Klan was anti-Catholic. That Klan lynched Jews and Italians. That men today with Italian or Slavic ancestry or Jewish associations call themselves Klan members, or that Slavs call themselves Nazis, is an important historical point that alarmists would like to erase and that those seeking the truth should not miss. Today's so-called Klansmen and Nazis are not a continuation of past power. They are often people whose ancestors would have been attacked by the Klan or the Nazis who are so unhappy with current conditions that they are reviving the brands "Klan" and "Nazi" to express their grievances.

I'm not dismissing the Charlottesville protesters because I've never been targeted by murderous extremists. I have been targeted by murderous extremists, at least tangentially. Years ago, I lived in Bloomington, Indiana. A hate group member was very active. One day I found his calling card in my driveway. I phoned the police. They asked why this man would have singled me or my housemates out. I explained that I published and broadcast in local media, and that my output could be characterized as "liberal." My housemate was a locally prominent Civil Rights attorney. They told me to be careful and I was, but I did not live in fear. I assumed that my chances of being harmed by this man were comparable to my chances of winning the lottery. On July 4, 1999, I walked, unaware, to the scene of a shooting. This man had murdered Won-Joon Yoon, one of my fellow IU grad students, as he was entering a Christian Church. I had missed the shooting by moments. I still regard such persons as a minority, and the chances of being harmed by such persons as small.

Why, then, did my Facebook feed erupt with urgent expressions of outrage against the Charlottesville rally? Against a relative handful of marginal losers and lost souls who completely lack clout or support in mainstream American life? Why did this rally so inflame my Facebook friends in a way that the multiple murders at San Bernardino, Orlando, Dallas or Boston did not?

I don't know. I can report the following. The demographics of the outrage struck me as skewed. Those expressing the most outrage were all white, economically comfortable, living lives far from real, live black people. One woman who adamantly insisted that she understands "white privilege" and could explain it to others lives in a state where black people constitute three percent of the population. Another woman who loudly insisted that she loves diversity lives in a state where black people make up 2.6 percent of the population. One man lives in a town that is 1.27 percent black. One lives in a largely rural county that is 0.3 percent black.

I look at these folks' photos as they come through my feed. I don't see black people. I'm not insisting on any conclusions here. I'm merely mentioning this demographic reality. Economically comfortable white people with no visible black friends, living in geographic regions without significant black populations, regions they choose as adults, adamantly insisted in a public space that they had deep knowledge of and commitment to race relations and were in a position to instruct others morally and factually.

One potential conclusion from this data. Those posting the most visibly are not, themselves, in their day-to-day lives, terribly committed to black-white relations. It's kind of hard to see how they could be; such commitment, it would seem, would require actual black people. It is reasonable to hypothesize that these folks were posting as they were posting not as a sign of commitment to any struggle, but as virtue signaling. Virtue signaling is a practice whereby the virtue signaler enhances his social status by voicing positions popularly understood as badges and seals of virtue. This possibility emphasizes how very dead Jim Crow is. If there were a shred of a chance that any reader harbored any support for Jim Crow, Facebook virtue signaling by denouncing the Charlottesville protesters would not be as popular as it is.

I asked those among my Facebook friends who were denouncing the rally with such vehemence why they did not devote any Facebook space to denunciations of black-on-black or black-on-poor-white violence. I mentioned that in black urban areas in the week of the Charlottesville rally, multiple innocent black people had been killed in black-on-black violence. I said that such violence is not exceptional; it proceeds, with numbing persistence, day after day, week after week, and year after year.

I mentioned, also, Jimmy Maldonado, a 74-year-old man in Paterson, NJ. He suffers from dementia. He attempted to take out his garbage on Pearl Street in Paterson in early August. A young black male, passing by, began to beat Maldonado viciously. The beating was caught on camera and broadcast via media. Such deaths and assaults are not uncommon. They are part of everyday life for blacks and poor whites. If one is really "down with the struggle," wouldn't one care about the victims of such pervasive and inescapable crime? Crime that is much more of a threat to the average African American than the Charlottesville protesters?

Only one of my liberal friends cared enough to attempt to answer that question. "Bob" said, "We don't want to judge black people because we have treated them horribly. It's much easier to judge white people." His response reminds me of an old joke. The punchline: "Did you lose your car keys here?" "No, but I'll look here, because the light is much better here."

What's wrong with that, you may be asking. Why not, on one's Facebook feed, theatrically denounce the Charlottesville protesters? There are a few things potentially wrong with that.

First, the Facebook denunciations that I saw of the Charlottesville rally conflated hate per se with American identity in general and with white, male identity in particular. One poster said that Virginia had become the "epicenter of hate." Another said, and this is a quote, that the rally was "Just like the Holocaust." Another poster introduced his posts with the words "My America." We need to rise above identity politics and call evil and virtue by their true names. Jimmy Maldonado is not black, but his life matters. His assailant is not white, but he is clearly a hater. Hate is bad. I don't care about the ethnicity of the hater.

I don't think I need to expand on why it is an error to conflate hate with white, male, American identity. I will just mention one example. Read the news accounts leading up to, during, and just after the Rwandan genocide of 1994, called the fastest genocide in history. You will read apparently intelligent people insisting that whatever was about to happen, or was happening, or had happened in Rwanda could not be that bad, because, Africans are not white Europeans and nothing like genocide could ever happen there. Genocide was a white people's problem.

This effort to conflate hate and violence with white, male, American identity was used, in several posts, as an overt absolution of any association of hate and violence with jihad. I don't know if anyone at the Charlottesville rally mentioned Islam, but Facebook posts condemning the rally rushed to associate the two. The overall message was "Christian, white, American men are terrorists. Muslims are not terrorists." That theme was pumped out in memes that sprang up like mushrooms after a rain.

The Facebook page Occupy Democrats circulated a meme showing white male James Fields with the caption "America, this is what a terrorist looks like." In September, 2014, ISIS issued a call for Muslims to run over kuffar with their cars. Since then, several jihadis have answered the call and murdered non-Muslims in vehicular jihad. Occupy Democrats has never issued a meme with the face of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the caption, "America, this is what a terrorist looks like." NPR has never broadcast a weepy segment commemorating the life of a victim of vehicular jihad, as they have focused on the life lost in Charlottesville. Occupy Democrats is in the business of airbrushing history and thought control. The politically correct exploited Charlottesville, an event that had little to do with Islam, into a propaganda tool to shield jihad from much needed critique and to needlessly and unhelpfully demonize white, American men.

There's another potential problem, and that problem is spelled out by Shelby Steele in White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. Bob acknowledged that he holds blacks to a lesser standard, because he is white and "we have treated blacks horribly." It would reflect badly on Bob if Bob spoke frankly about the young man who beat Jimmy Maldonado. Bob's protection of his own reputation as a not-racist white man is not helping that young man who beat Maldonado. Someone needs to say to that young man, "What you did is wrong. That whites have treated blacks horribly in the past is no excuse for your beating a defenseless and ill senior citizen. You will pay a price for this and you must learn to change before you can be returned to respectable society." I can't imagine Bob speaking those words. Someone needs to speak them.

Further, well off whites living far from black people suffer no consequences by announcing, without any real life experience, that the greatest problem blacks face is white supremacy. As Shelby Steele and other "black conservatives" point out, that message is poison to black people. It dampens, if not kills, personal responsibility and personal initiative, the engines of personal advancement. If you believe that society is out to get you, to thwart you at every turn, and that you have no chance of moving forward through your own efforts, that belief can stunt your life. I really wish my rich, white liberal friends would commit to the black people not through Facebook posts, but by moving to Newark or Camden and working with black people. If they were more familiar with day-to-day realities, I am confident that their Facebook posts would change.

There's a final problem with the virtue signaling that elevates the speaker above the Charlottesville protesters. That is the emphasis on dramatic denunciations, combined with a refusal to understand.

I teach young people. I have seen this develop over decades. Many young men have confided in me that they feel demonized by their professors and the courses they are required to take. They recognize that professors express disrespect for Christianity. They recognize that the dominant morality in our culture today is a morality of selective outrage and double standards. They see that the words "white," "American," and "man" are treated as pejoratives.

There is a backlash. In unguarded environments, such as unmonitored internet discussion groups, many young American males today are rebelling against political correctness. They tell Holocaust jokes. They say shocking things about black-white relations. In their shocking comments, I do not see a carryover from Jim Crow or Nazism. I see the photographic negative of political correctness. Whatever statement political correctness outlaws, these males are eager to pronounce. Case in point: the Charlottesville rally's slogan was "White lives matter." It's impossible not to see this as the photographic negative of the woefully selective phrase, "Black lives matter."

Writer Brendan O'Neill produced a brilliant Facebook post that I wish I had written. He began, "The events in Charlottesville are the logical consequence of the politics of identity. One of the nastiest trends in Western politics in recent years has been the relentless racialisation of public life and political debate. Everyone has been forced, often against their will, into a racial box." I urge you to read the whole thing.

Another problem. The competition to be the most publicly huffy about white supremacists, and to dehumanize them the most severely with one's insults, makes things worse, not better. Rather, we should work to understand and empathize with them. Are you, as my Facebook friends were, shocked, shocked that I say that? Please remember that Hillary Clinton recommending something close to that when discussing Muslim terrorists. If my stance is not macho enough for you, please remember that no one understands white-tailed deer better than a wolf.

At least one hate group expert, Christian Picciolini (please note Italian last name) agrees with me. Picciolini was a hate group member himself. He reformed himself and now is a spokesperson against hate groups. He says that hate group members seek identity, community, and purpose, and that to reform them, they must be offered respect and empathy when they least deserve it, from those they hate the most. So, those on Facebook and elsewhere referring to hate group members as "pigs" and "scum" probably only strengthened the haters' resolve. I would have loved to have seen Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe invite the hate group members in for a chat, where he disabused them of their misconceptions in a rational, respectful manner.

Danusha Goska is the author of Save Send Delete


 This article first appeared at FrontPageMag here

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Question for People who Pray

Yuri Kugach. His work is great. See more here
People who pray, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this one.

I have cancer surgery scheduled for today. On the sliding scale, it's not super scary surgery. My last biopsy results were neither "benign" nor "malignant" but rather "cannot rule out cancer" so more stuff will be removed today and studied. Everything is predicted to be brief and not-too-traumatic.

Even so I'm worried. I grew up with horrifying tales of my maternal grandmother dying young, slowly, and painfully of cancer. My mother would tell stories of how her mother cried out in pain, and they wouldn't give her more pain killers, because she might become addicted, and my mother shouting at them, "She's dying! So what if she becomes addicted?"

When I heard those tales, I almost inhabited the white, sterile, cold American hospital room where this woman of the poppy-strewn fields and mammal-rich mountains of Slovakia slowly and painfully breathed her last. I would become so outraged at the American doctors who tortured her to death and so terrified that that would be my own fate, because "it runs in the family."

The "it" of the above sentence is, I think, not cancer, but some banshee curse. Oh, stop, D, look on the bright side. Okay.

I was by my own mother's bed as she died of cancer, holding her hand, wiping her tears, feeling her life escape from her body like a wild bird that had been in a cage far too long.

And by the bed of my brother Mike, and my sister Antoinette.

So, yeah, scared, but today's surgery is low-risk and everyone has high hopes that the new biopsy results will not be ultra-scary.

Yesterday I was standing in the kitchen. I had just eaten breakfast and finished washing the dishes. I suddenly realized, with some horror, that one of my bodily organs was malfunctioning. I turned to everyone's favorite doctor, google, and discovered that I needed to get to a doctor, pronto. I did. The news I received was not horrible, but not great, either. I need to be watched and this rather beloved bodily organ may never function as well again.

So. I came back and all these wonderful people on Facebook said they had been praying for me. I knew that they had. They knew about surgery today. And, in the midst of all that prayer, God smote a totally unrelated bodily organ.

I'm not asking the big questions. I know about what's going on in Syria, Iraq, North Korea. I'm asking about me, a woman awash in prayer, who just lost the full functioning of one of her favorite bodily organs.

I don't know the answer.

I do know that after I left the doctor's office, I did pray my daily rosary. It's a discipline. No matter how pissed off, confused, or devastated I am, I pray those same prayers.

God, I showed up.


Gotta go. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Riding Piggyback on Jesus


Jesus is famous. Jesus is loved. Jesus receives a lot of attention. 

Sometimes internet posters ride piggyback on Jesus' fame and love and attention. 

Joe Internet wants to say something that will receive a lot of attention.

If Joe Internet says, "I support Obamacare," who will care? 

Joe Internet could say, "Jesus supports Obamacare," and suddenly he gets five hundred replies to his post. 

Joe is riding piggyback on Jesus. He's using Jesus' high profile to enhance his own. 

I don't begrudge Joe's need for attention. I want attention, too. 

Often people who don't like Christ, Christians, or Christianity ride piggyback on Jesus. They attempt to tear Christianity down by attributing false quotes to Jesus. They insist that Jesus said things he never said, and did things he never did. 

I ran across such a post the other day. It was followed by many other posts by people who don't like Christ, Christians, or Christianity insisting that they know everything there is to know about Jesus. 

We've all heard the claims: Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had ten kids and their descendants are living in France today. Except that Jesus never actually existed. (That a man who never actually existed managed to have ten kids whose descendants are living in France today is in itself pretty miraculous.) 

Jesus never wanted to form a religion. Jesus would hate modern Christians. There's a secret Gospel, known only to the elite, that, if word got out, would smash Christianity to smithereens. Jesus this Jesus that. 

Again, if you say, "I think that ... " maybe your mother will listen. 

If you say, "Jesus thought that ... " suddenly you get a lot of attention. 

It's riding piggyback on Jesus to raise your own height. 

Funny thing. One of the folks in this internet discussion admires the late rock star, David Bowie. 

I said, "David Bowie once advised his fans to snort coke till their septums melted." This Bowie fan, who was embracing misquoting Jesus, was *very offended* at my misquoting of David Bowie. And she never saw the relationship between the two. 

Misquoting Jesus is okay. Misquoting David Bowie? A crime against humanity. 

Beware of folks riding piggyback on Jesus. If you want to know what Jesus said, read the Bible. He's there. Waiting for you. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Judge Tim Black: It's Danusha Goska not Danielle Goshuck. And Thank You.

Polish girl by Jozef Chelmonski
I learned through email that Judge Tim Black appeared on a podcast called "Pod Save America" and mentioned my work. 

I listened to the show yesterday. Judge Black quotes me in the very final minute of the broadcast. He has a great voice and when he quotes me it's very nice to hear my words in his great voice. 

He identifies the author of the quote as "Danielle Goshuck." I don't think Judge Black will probably ever read this, but I have to say: Danusha Goska. It's a Polish name. 

And thank you for mentioning my work, "Political Paralysis," and quoting from it.

You can hear the podcast below. Judge Black mentions "Political Paralysis" in the very final minute of the broadcast. 



Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray: A Review


After you turn the final page of Douglas Murray's 2017 The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, you may find yourself staring off into the distance, sipping absent-mindedly at your absinthe, planning your escape to New Zealand or better yet, Mars. You may enter a monastery or a gun store. You may immediately plan to have twelve children, or you may get sterilized.

The basic facts are few: after the mass slaughter of World Wars I and II, Europe faced a labor shortage. Europe voted in socialists, and promised cradle-to-grave benefits. To solve both problems, Europe imported large numbers of often Muslim laborers.

Again, the World Wars' horrors, documented in excruciating detail, followed by the collapse of European imperialism, caused many elites to feel ashamed of their own identity, and to promote cultural relativism and multiculturalism. Europe abandoned its Judeo-Christian roots and the concept of the nation-state. Europe's most theatrically "moral" and "enlightened" elites promoted "diversity," open borders and a denigration of European culture as the height of virtue.

At the same time, non-European cultures were assessed as superior. These trends reached their climax in recent years, when massive numbers of mostly young, male, Muslim migrants made their way toward Europe in rickety boats and fragile rafts, and Europe, led by Angela Merkel, announced, "Come on in. Our social safety net will hand you cash, food, housing, and healthcare. Our multiculturalism will elevate you above any critique."

Among the migrants were some who indeed assessed their own culture not only as superior to European culture, but as the culture that should, through violence and terror, dominate the world. The inescapable boogeyman of this tale is simple mathematics. Muslims have more children; Europeans have fewer. "By the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive, Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home," as Murray puts it.

Other books have covered similar territory: Oriana Fallaci's 2002 The Rage and the Pride, Bat Yeor's 2005 Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Bruce Bawer's 2006 While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within, Melanie Philips' 2006 Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within, Claire Berlinski's 2007 Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis Is America’s, Too, and Mark Steyn's 2008 America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It.

Even if you have read one of the previous books, you will want to read Murray's. Murray addresses what has often been referred to as "the migrant crisis," dated from 2015, and he covers events as recent as December, 2016. Murray brings his own late-night, brooding, depth. This is a book that dares to relate life's big questions to current headlines.

The Strange Death of Europe's 320 densely-packed pages open with four irrefutable words: "Europe is committing suicide." There are ample shocks to be had when reading this book. Here is one: Murray tells the truth. Truth has been so demonized that we are used to speakers avoiding truth, the way a wagon train might avoid quicksand. I found myself, more than once, turning to the copyright page to confirm that this was not a self-published book.

Let's with a few bullet points that will stay with me for a long time.
·         In December, 2014, Africans took a smugglers' boat from Morocco to Spain. A Christian prayed. The captain and crew systematically identified, beat, and threw overboard all Christian passengers. This is not an isolated incident. Christian passengers on other boats have been drowned. Not just Christophobia but also racism dominates on the boats. Economically better off Tunisians and Syrians look down on, and outrank, darker skinned and poorer sub-Saharan Africans. Middle Eastern Muslims occupy the best seats on the boat and are most likely to survive any accidents.

·         On September 27, 2016, a 27-year-old Pakistani migrant in Germany was arrested while publicly raping an Iraqi girl. The girl's father approached with a knife. The police shot him dead, presumably right in front of the little migrant who had just been raped. She was now orphaned, as well as being a six-year-old, stateless rape survivor. She is not alone. Women are regularly raped and pimped by their fellow migrants, who are majority young men.

·         The November, 2015 terror attacks in Paris killed or injured over five hundred people. Seven of the nine terrorists had posed as Syrian refugees.

·         An eleven-year-old British girl's buttocks was branded with hot metal with the letter "M" for "Mohammed." The Mohammed in question "owned" her, beat, raped, and tortured her, and pimped her to numerous other sexual sadists, all Muslims. When victims like her – there are uncounted thousands – sought justice in England, they were accused of being "racists." When MP Ann Cryer took up rape of underage English girls by Muslim men, she was accused of being an "Islamophobe." She required police protection. A Muslim man spoke up; he received death threats from his fellow Muslims. English authorities hushed up, and enabled similar grooming gangs for "more than a decade."

·         In 2004, in Marseille, France, Ghofrane Haddaoui, a 23-year-old Muslima, was stoned to death for rejecting a Muslim man's advances. This is not an isolated incident. "UK police admitted that they had failed to investigate scores of suspicious deaths of young Muslim women because they had thought these potential honor killings were community matters."

These events begin to strip the veneer off "multiculturalism" and Europe's approach to the "migrant crisis" as a warm and cozy humanitarian triumph.

And here's one more anecdote. Visiting a migrant camp, Murray met a 31-year-old husband and father. Back home in Afghanistan, this man had been a school administrator. The Taliban ordered him to help them poison the water supply for hundreds of schoolchildren. Poisoning Muslim schoolchildren would advance their goal of eliminating education, which they see as un-Islamic. To urge him to comply with their plan, they tortured the man in unspeakable ways, including repeatedly raping him while telling him, "You have no god; we are your god; you must do whatever we say." "If anyone tries to send me back to Afghanistan," this migrant promised Murray, "I will kill myself."

Murray makes clear: he understands that many migrants are escaping hellish lives. But Murray has the courage to ask whether it is Europe's duty – or even within Europe's ability – to take in every person on earth living a hellish life. The Afghan made most of his trip overland. He could have stopped in any number of relatively peaceful and comfortable Muslim countries he passed through on the way. He didn't. He, like the other migrants, insists on Europe, and, indeed, Western Europe.

Research has shown that refugees do best when they are taken in by countries and cultures closer to their own. There are over fifty Muslim-majority countries in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central and East Asia. Most are at peace and many are very wealthy. Migrants walk through these countries to get to Europe. Why? Aylan Kurdi, whose death photo was exploited as a passport for uncountable refuges, was not escaping war; his employed father, living as an Iraqi refugee in peacetime Turkey, wanted the better welfare benefits to be had in Europe.

Murray points out that the ummah, or international community of Muslims, has not responded to the "migrant crisis" with much urgency, generosity, or compassion. Fahad al-Shalami, a Kuwaiti official, explained that his country is unsuitable for migrants because it is expensive and suitable for workers, not migrants. Further, al-Shalami unabashedly stated, migrants posed a threat to his nation. "You cannot accept people who come from a different atmosphere, from a different place. These are people who suffer from psychological problems, from trauma." Saudi Arabia has 100,000 empty air conditioned tents it refuses to a single migrant. But Saudi Arabia offered to build 200 mosques in Germany to accommodate new migrant arrivals.

Murray, using facts and figures, shoots down the claim that current immigration policy benefits Europe economically. He argues that that policy is in fact a drain on national wealth, as significant numbers of current immigrants are more likely to take more out of the government coffers than they put in. He also argues that housing, schools and other social services are suffering. Greens and other leftists who had previously argued for the benefits of zero population growth are suddenly arguing for the benefits of huge and sudden increases in population. In short, Islamophiles are willing to say anything as long as it serves their agenda. In any case, "immigrants get old as well," Murray observes, in response to the argument that Europe is "graying" and needs fresh blood. Expecting immigration to keep up welfare benefits for an aging population is "a pyramid scheme." Regarding the alleged cultural benefits of current immigration policies, Murray remarks, "If there is a bit more beheading and sexual assault than there used to be in Europe, then at lest we also benefit from a much wider range of cuisines."

In contrast to the Muslim world, Western Europe is dominated by elites who are, in a word, suicidal. Open borders is "a deliberate policy of societal transformation: a culture war waged against the British people using immigrants as a battering ram." Multiculturalism is a lie. "Amid the endless celebrations of diversity, the greatest irony remains that the one thing people cannot bring themselves to celebrate is the culture that encouraged such diversity in the first place." Murray quotes Samuel Huntington, "Multiculturalism is in its essence anti-European civilization. It is basically an anti-Western ideology." Rather, multiculturalism is "self-annihilating."

Murray quotes opinion-leaders who insist that European cultures have no identity, or at least no identity worth saving. A Swedish Minister of Integration told new arrivals that Swedes envy them because they have a culture, whereas Sweden has no culture worthy of mention. If one challenges this, the response is that white, Christian Europeans are the most evil people in history, who have done nothing but invade, colonize, and enslave. In 2006, the Swedish Prime Minster, Fredrik Reinfeldt, said, "Only barbarism is genuinely Swedish. All further development has been brought from the outside." "Destruction is exactly what our societies deserve," Murray writes, paraphrasing the pro-migrant mindset. Europe "must be uniquely punished for the deeds of history."

Masochism is the hip European's most potent drug. Murray cites Norwegian politician Karsten Nordal Hauken who was raped by a male Somali migrant. Hauken expressed his own "guilt." "I had a strong feeling of guilt … I was the reason that he would …be sent to a dark and uncertain future in Somalia."

In 2015 a "No Borders" activist was gang-raped. Her comrades urged her not to report the rape. At first, she did not. When she finally did, her comrades accused her of "spite."

In January, 2016, a 24-year-old woman was raped by three migrants in Mannheim. She published an open letter to her attackers. She wrote, "I am so incredibly sorry … you aren't safe here, because we live in a sexist society … you are beset by increasing and more aggressive racism …  I will not allow it … I will not stand idly by and watch as racists call you a problem. You are not the problem. You are not a problem at all."

A German intellectual told Murray that "the German people were anti-Semitic and prejudiced and deserved to be replaced." "Only modern Europeans," Murray writes "are happy to be self-loathing in an international marketplace of sadists."

Islam, on the other hand, must be celebrated as a font of all good things, as in the 1001 Islamic Inventions exhibit in the London Science Museum. When medieval scholar Sylvain Gouguenheim published an essay arguing that the texts from Ancient Greece said to have been saved by Muslims were in fact preserved by Syriac Christians, Gouguenheim was condemned for "Islamophobia." Scholars publishing on questions so simple as the origins of the Koran must publish under pseudonyms and live in hiding. Western Europeans, no less than terrorists, adhere to this speech and thought suppression. "The one thing our societies really do hold sacred and impervious to ridicule or criticism are the claims and teachings of Mohammed."

To facilitate their war on the West, pro-migrant activists hammer away at mind-numbingly repetitious Nazi analogies. It is 1939, and Muslim migrants are just like Jews in Nazi Germany, and open borders activists are just like the saviors of Anne Frank. This scenario is not just false, it is fantastical, self-flattering and tantamount to Holocaust denial.  

Murray asks why Eastern Europe is so different. I can only hope he might read my own 2015 article, "Western European v Eastern European Responses to Mass, Unvetted, Muslim Migration."

Groups paying the highest price for Europe's approach to "multiculturalism" include, of course, women, homosexuals, and Jews. One Parisian said in 2015, after the November attacks of that year, "Before, it was just the Jews, the writers, or the cartoonists." Tommy Robinson, not a member of the elite, was rendered a non-person by the UK for his resistance. Murray comments on the double standard here. "It is infinitely easier to criticize generally white-skinned people, especially if they are working class, than it is to criticize generally darker-skinned people whatever their background." "In 2003 a report into anti-Semitism by the European Monitoring Center was quietly shelved when it found that the upsurge in anti-Semitic activity in Europe was caused by a rise in attacks on Jews by young Muslims." In Paris in 2006 Jew Ilan Halimi was tortured for three weeks, and killed, at the hands of Muslims. On Bastille Day in 2014, "worshipers at a synagogue in Paris were barricaded inside by immigrant protesters chanting, 'Death to the Jews.'"

Murray, like many other commentators on the "migrant crisis" doesn't dwell on the fact that the crisis is a crisis for the sending countries, as well as the receiving ones. The migrants are not those most likely to suffer in war. They are not the poorest of the poor, the elderly, women, and children. The migrants are overwhelmingly healthy, young men with enough cash to pay considerable smugglers' fees and enough sophistication to navigate any obstacles using iPhones and instructions sent to them by "open borders" activists. As young, healthy, resourceful men who are able to achieve their goals, they are, in short, the raw material for an army. They could be in their home countries fighting to defeat ISIS. They could be working to build a better future for their wives and children.

What happens to a poor, unstable country when its most energetic population rises up, en masse, and leaves for Europe? At least one scholarly study, focused on Pakistan, argues that male migration has profound negative impacts. Ambitious young men are a unique resource, and they should be using their drive to improve their homelands, not to outwit border patrols and the disbursers of welfare checks, not to compete to prove that they are more pathetic and more worthy of Europeans' pity than the next "refugee," not to join with other migrants in mass sexual assaults on the women, girls and boys of naïve hosts offering them refuge.

Murray repeatedly cites opinion polls that show that a majority of Europeans don't want mass Muslim immigration into their countries. He mentions Enoch Powell, a conservative politician who gave a 1968 speech, later known as the "Rivers of Blood" speech, that voiced many of the concerns that Murray outlines in his book. Powell was removed from the political scene. And yet, Murray says, about 75% of the public agreed with him. Ray Honeyford, a headmaster, wrote a 1984 article critical of the effect of multiculturalism on education. Honeyford's carrier was ruined.

Given these overwhelming pressures, one must ask: what made early counter-jihadis so much more insightful and courageous than their peers? The answer, I think, is comparable to the characteristics that typify Holocaust rescuers. Rescuers, according to scholar Nechama Tec, are independent outsiders with universalistic values that transcend race and ethnicity. Just so with counter-jihadis. Not a few counter-jihadis were and are gay: Pim Fortuyn, Bruce Bawer, Tommy English, and Murray himself.

Murray remarks, "If a concern is felt by a majority of the public for many years and nothing is done to address it, then trouble and resentment are certainly stored up. If the response is not just to ignore the concern but to argue that it is actually impossible to do anything about it, then radical alternatives being to brew … at worst they will surface on the streets."

Murray does not address one possibility that seems all too plausible: war. Ayaan Hirsi Ali warned of war in June, 2017. Political scientist and Arabist Professor Gilles Kepel discussed the possibility in September, 2016, as did Daniel Pipes in 2007. Tommy Robinson, in a June, 2017 interview, expressed the despair he feels "as a father of three." "There's no light at the end of the tunnel … When people get desperate – it's like they're forcing people down that path" to war.

In a chapter entitled "Tiredness," Murray says that maybe Europe is dying, as per Oswald Spengler in Decline of the West. Murray recognizes that the West is founded on "Judeo-Christian culture, the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and the discoveries of the Enlightenment."

"For centuries in Europe one of the great – if not the greatest – sources of energy came from the spirit of the continent's religion … it drove Europe to the greatest heights of human creativity." Murray says that a couple of forces destroyed Christianity. One was nineteenth-century German biblical criticism, that desacralized previously sacred texts. The other was Darwin.

In place of Christianity, no substitute has arisen except for nihilism and hedonism. "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," Murray quotes an atheist bus campaign slogan.

Scholarship cannot fill in the gap left by retreating Christianity. There's a lapidary set piece in the book where Murray skewers an academic conference. "A group of academics and others had gathered to discuss the history of Europe's relations with the Middle East. It soon became clear that nothing would be learned because nothing could be said … the aim of this game – for game it was – was to maintain the pretense of academic inquiry while making fruitful discussion impossible."

Art, too, cannot replace religion. It is contemptuous of its audiences. It has journeyed from creating works that cause the viewer to say, "I wish I could do that," to works that cause the viewer to say, "Even a child could do that." "The art of our time seems to have given up any effort to kindle something else in us."

Nature abhors a vacuum. People have always asked, and will always ask, "What am I doing here?" Western Europeans no longer have answers to such questions. Islam is sure of itself. Islamists and their Islamophile allies guarantee that Islam is above reproach. Young Europeans seeking meaning will convert to Islam.

In spite of all this, Murray recognizes that, as atheist author Don Culpitt wrote in 2008, "Nobody in the West can be wholly non-Christian. You may call youself non-Christian, but the dreams you dream are still Christian dreams … the modern, secular world is itself a Christian creation." Murray writes, "The culture of human rights, for instance, owes more to the creed preached by Jesus of Nazareth than it does, say, to that of Mohammed … Europe is a collection of towns and villages. Leave a village and you will eventually stumble upon another. And in any low-built area the first thing you will see is the church, placed at the heart of the community. Today, where these hearts of the community are not wholly dead and converted into housing they are dying … I cannot help feeling that much of the future of Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the church buildings and other great cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst … A society that says we are defined exclusively by the bar and the nightclub, by self-indulgence and our sense of entitlement, cannot be said to have deep roots or much likelihood of survival. But a society which holds that our culture consists of the cathedral, the playhouse and the playing field, the shopping mall and Shakespeare, has a chance."

Murray, who had previously self-identified as a practicing Anglican, but now identifies as an atheist, insists that any real return to Christianity is impossible. One gets the sense that Murray believes that only the Amish and pockets of Hasids still take the Bible seriously. Murray sounds so genuinely sad in these passages, so deeply elegiac, that I wished I could hand him a copy of my own book, Save Send Delete, in which I argue for Biblical faith as a reasonable choice for a modern, educated, thinking person. I can only hope that he might stumble across this review and email me. I will send him a free copy.

Murray's book, as well as all discourse on Europe's overwhelming and rapid Islamization, could benefit from mention of the scholarship of Robert Putnam. Marxist social engineers act on the belief that existence precedes essence – there is no such thing as an essential human being. Human beings can be manipulated to be whatever those in power want them to be. If the elite decides that rapid Islamization is a good idea, people can be made to accept that through proper training from their betters.

Such training kicks in immediately after every terror attack. We know exactly that Sadiq Khan is going to say that the latest attack "Has nothing to do with Islam. We cherish our diversity. We are going to go about our daily lives." Those statements, repeated robotically ad nauseum, masquerade as avuncular reassurances. In fact, they are more sinister. They are 1984-style dictatorial scripts, brainwashing the masses and red-lining the limits of acceptable speech. This is what we are required to say. We may not ask, "What can we do differently to avoid such terror attacks?" We may not ask, "Isn't it time we refuted the teachings that inspired the murderers?" or, "Who is minding the border?"

Social engineers are wrong. There are essential aspects to a human being. Normal people inescapably do better when they have a sense of community and heritage. When the support of community and heritage is ripped from them, they react negatively. As John Leo wrote in 2007, summing up Robert Putnam's then-recent research, "immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities."

Indeed, if the very anti-Western, pro-Islamization forces were to learn that, say, Mali, a majority Muslim country in Africa, were to become, through immigration, majority atheist Chinese in this century, those very activists would be on fire with concern for "indigenous" Malians. Funny how being an "indigenous" person is highly valued by anti-Western forces when one is talking about a country like Mali, and that very status becomes an insult when one is talking about white Europeans.

Murray's book reminds us of an important fact. Believe it or not, right-wing counter-jihadis and Islamophiles like NPR, The Southern Poverty Law Center, the ludicrously self-identified "anti-fa" or "anti-fascists" all have something significant in common. Both claim that counter-jihad is an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. Left-wingers want to discredit and marginalize counter-jihad by labeling it "hard right." Right-wing counter-jihadis want to monopolize credit.

Murray reminds us that the early counter-jihadis in Europe were not right-wingers at all. As a child, Oriana Fallaci had engaged in real anti-fascist activity in Nazi-occupied Italy. Retired sex bomb, animal rights activist, and vegetarian Brigitte Bardot is no right-winger. Pim Fortuyn, Theo Van Gogh, Bruce Bawer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the staff of Charlie Hebdo, Tommy English, leader of Gays Against Shariah UK: none of these are right-wingers. In this country, neither are Sam Harris, Bill Maher, and Eric Allen Bell. On the other hand, Republican President George Bush went to the Islamic Center of Washington, DC, six days after 9/11, to say, in the company of CAIR's Nihad Awad, that "Islam is Peace." I had a schizophrenic experience with a Catholic priest. When it comes to abortion, women or married priests, he is an arch-conservative. When I tried to talk to him about jihad, that same arch-conservative priest suddenly sounded like an "open borders" advocate. You can read our exchange here.


Opposing FGM, child marriage, and the murder of people with whom you disagree are not inherently right-wing stances. In a 2009 Gallup Poll, zero percent of surveyed Muslims thought homosexuality morally acceptable. Opposing the murder of homosexuals is not an exclusively "'right-wing" position. Counter-jihad is too important to risk alienating any potential allies by labeling counter-jihad as a purely "right-wing" concern. Counter-jihad is a universal, human concern.

You can read this piece at FrontPageMagazine here

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Book of Henry: A Live Girl is Less Verbal than a Dead Boy



"The Book of Henry" has the potential to become a cult classic. There's a subset of people for whom the shambolic plot of this film will scratch their itch. Underneath all the autumn leaf clutter and heartwarming kitchen scenes, there's an unfortunate message about girls and about sexual assault victims.  

Warning: this review will reveal the ending of "The Book of Henry."

TBOH starts out in one of those idyllic towns you only see in middlebrow American films. No one has a regional accent. There are wooded hillsides all around, and scenic waterfalls, and quilts on couches. You can tell that characters are meant to be coded "poor" or "working class" because they are wearing Goodwill clothing, but they manage to live in big Victorians on lots of wooded property. If this were a real town in contemporary America, I'm afraid it would be one of those places with a high opiate abuse rate.

Susan (Naomi Watts) is a single mom of two adorable boys, Henry and Peter. Susan is a waitress, she drinks too much, and she is addicted to video games. Susan's best friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman) is a sharp-tongued lush with a heart of gold and cleavage so low we can see her heart beating.

Henry is a genius and has the personality, not just of a mature man, but actually of a saint or a Bodhisattva or Cary Grant, the angel character in "The Bishop's Wife." Henry spends his time hanging out in a treehouse designed by Norman Rockwell on acid, creating Rube Goldberg machines, and amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars – and he talks to his broker on a pay phone. Where are there still pay phones? Wouldn't a boy genius have a cell phone?

At first you think, okay, this is going to be like a Steven Spielberg boy's true adventure film. An "ET" crossed with a tad of homebound Thelma and Louise. But no.

Henry looks out his window and concludes, from what he sees, that the next-door neighbor, Glenn, is sexually molesting his step-daughter, Christina. Uh, oh. This has just turned into an educational film about the horrors of child abuse and incest. Or maybe a Eugene O'Neill style family horror story. Well, there's a fleeting few seconds of that, but then Henry is hiding in a gun store, learning how to buy illegal weapons. Okay, this is quite the roller coaster ride. You don't even have time to make sure you have fastened the safety latch when Henry suddenly develops a bad headache and worse vision.

Henry goes into seizures. It's a disease of the week movie! No, wait! A handsome surgeon steps in to operate, and to make eyes at Naomi Watts who, yes, is still in the movie. Is this going to be a romance film? Where does this train stop?

Henry dies. Just like that. The titular character is dead, halfway into this PG family story / unsuitable for children incest story / true crime story. His death is so quick and so subtle I didn't realize he was dead until Susan is shown mourning by obsessively baking brownies while wearing a chocolate-stained apron.

This is where the "Book of Henry" of the title comes in. Note that "Book of Henry" sounds like a Biblical book. That's because Henry is now dead and doing good deeds from the afterlife. Susan discovers that Henry left a notebook with a detailed plan for her to murder her next-door neighbor, Glenn. So now we are back to this being a Hitchcockian story. But it never goes there. It never does what suspense or true crime or horror films do. It continues to play as if it were a wholesome, small town Americana comedy. The sight of Naomi Watts going from chocolate-stained apron to staring down the sights of an illegal automatic weapon with a silencer in a PG movie chilled my blood.

Susan comes within seconds of following her dead son's macabre / wholesome plan to its final, murderous / humanitarian end, but then she can't bring herself to pull – or as Henry would have it – squeeze the trigger. She merely informs Glenn that she is on his tail, and Glenn kills himself.

Susan then adopts Christina and puts Christina in the same bedroom that Henry had previously occupied – with her other son, Peter. No doubt there will be a sequel on how one of these two needs to be killed for a subsequent incest flare-up.

And the whole thing is meant to be heartwarming and kind of funny.

Sheesh.


It's hard to talk about this train wreck of a film in any serious way, but. Christina, the incest victim, says almost nothing in the movie. She is silent. The obvious thing for Susan to do, even before buying a high-powered rifle, would be to get Christina alone, away from her stepfather, with an authority figure and encourage her to tell her own story. In this Hollywood movie, a dead boy is the master puppeteer for his adult mother, who is merely a marionette, and that dead boy is more verbal than a live girl. And that's a disgusting and dangerous message. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life: Prayers and Reflections for Getting Closer by Julie Davis. Review.


Julie Davis' 2017 Niggle Press book Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life: Prayers and Reflections for Getting Closer is one of the weightiest little books I've ever read. There are just 209 pages of main text, and each page has few words. I open randomly to page one hundred and I find a three-sentence quote from the Gospel of Luke, a brief, one-paragraph quote from Saint Augustine, and ten sentences of reflection from Davis. The few words that appear on each page, though, like the words in a rich poem, are dense with meaning. They are the kind of words that cause the reader to pause and ponder.

The quote from Luke: "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those that love them … But, rather, love your enemies and do good to them." The quote by St. Augustine tackles this challenging commandment in practical terms: we must remember that even hateful people are "God's work" and capable of change for the better. Davis acknowledges, "I can't control the emotions that flood over me when I'm mad at someone." Davis concludes the page with a prayer: "Lord, have mercy on me and bless my enemy. I am not strong enough to love him by myself. Help me to see with your eyes."

Each pair of pages, left and right, has a theme. The themes are subdivisions of the book's twelve chapters. The opening chapter is "Beginning to Pray" and the closing chapter is "Continuing to Seek." In the chapter entitled "Finding Jesus in the Cross, the Resurrection, the Eucharist," themes include "Spending Time with God," Jesus as a courageous hero, and "Death Shall Be No More: Death, Thou Shalt Die." Each quote on the page relates to the theme.

There are quotes from the Old and New Testaments on almost every page. Otherwise, Davis' sources range broadly. There is a prayer, that originated from the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, contemplating Jesus as he developed in Mary's womb. There are several quotes from CS Lewis, Thomas Merton, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Popes Benedict and Francis, and the writings of saints including Patrick, Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, and Augustine. There are also quotes from Hermann Cohen, a nineteenth-century Jewish convert to Catholicism, Andrew Klavan, a twenty-first-century secular Jewish convert to Christianity, media theorist Marshall McLuhan, and Father James Yamauchi, who, I take it, is Davis' home church pastor.

These Biblical quotes, quotes from literature, and Davis' reflections are elegantly laid out on the page. Formatting is important in all books, but especially in a book like this. Davis is a visual artist as well as a verbal one, and her careful choices in fonts and spacing guide the reader through a flowing experience.

Davis' own reflections are general, and mostly free of particular biographical detail. You won't learn much about her from her personal comments, except that she is a wife and mother. For example, about suffering, she writes, "I want to avoid suffering … I know that great good can come to me through the Cross. That is different from the present moment when I'm suffering. Then I have to fight self-pity. Sometimes suffering is inflicted by others. Sometimes I inflict it on myself as a natural consequence of my own actions."

One doesn't know what is causing Davis this suffering, who is hurting her, or how she hurts herself. By using general language, I conclude, she is trying to produce a document that can be significant to many readers, no matter whether the reader shares biographical details with Davis or not. Every now and then Davis lets slip a very personal detail. For example, she sometimes uses a kitchen timer in her prayer life. Her description of this method is priceless and very true.

Davis wants this book to be an aide to other Christians in their prayer life. Online reviews attest to its value and success at just that. One reviewer reported, "I immediately ordered copies for the six people in our RCIA class who will be baptized or confirmed at Easter this year." Another said, "Exactly what I needed at this point in my life!" Another reviewer wrote, "Are you ready to hit the reset button on your practice of the faith? Here it is." This book is helping people.


I think Seeking Jesus has another use. I think this would be a great gift to an open-minded Christophobe. There are a lot of people these days who insist that all Christians are violent bigots. Jesus is certainly the main character of this book, but Davis is a very appealing sidekick. She is humble, eager to learn, thoughtful, and patient. I think giving this book as a gift to someone trying to understand a modern American Christian's interior life would be a very charitable act. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wonder Woman: Crypto-Misogyny, Revisionist Paganism, and Cultural Appropriation of the Central Christian Narrative

Image from Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack


Patty Jenkins' 2017 film Wonder Woman achieved the highest opening box office for any female director, and the best box office for a female-lead comic book film. Wonder Woman is the sixth highest grossing 2017 film and it may well rise higher. After opening on June 2, Wonder Woman was number one for two weeks; in week three, Forbes reported, it continued to set box office records. Wonder Woman bested the Tom Cruise film The Mummy. Some theaters scheduled all-female viewings. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas announced, "Apologies, gentlemen, but we're embracing our girl power and saying 'No Guys Allowed' for one special night at the Alamo Ritz … When we say 'People Who Identify As Women Only,' we mean it. Everyone working at this screening – venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team – will be female."

On June 11, 2017, director Patty Jenkins tweeted what purports to be a note from a schoolteacher. Wonder Woman, this note claims, completely transformed a kindergarten class into a Utopian seedbed of future feminists. One of the note's bullet points: "A boy threw his candy wrapping [on] the floor and a 5-year-old girl screamed, 'DON'T POLLUTE YOU IDIOT, THAT IS WHY THERE ARE NO MEN IN TEMYSCIRA.'" Upworthy says that Wonder Woman will "lead viewers to develop empathy" for "members of groups unlike themselves." "The Legion of Women Writers launched a fundraising campaign to send 70 high school-age girls to see the film."

In 2015, actor-director Rose McGowan argued on Instagram that movies were simple-minded because movies are controlled by men, and if more women were in charge, movies would be rich, complex, and thoughtful. She was sick, she said, of "green goblins in tight outfits." Superhero movies are "the same formula over and over." Why? "If men direct 98% of all film, the fault of banality rests squarely on their shoulders … They are killing film … Superhero movies lack complexity, story development, character development, freedom of thought. It's lazy male filmmaking … Where are the human stories? … I want intelligence, daring work that drives society forward. I want a mirror, not every cliché regurgitated ad nauseum … Let's bring complexity back … Think of all the stories not on screen because women are blocked by the status quo … Add women … It brings such instant depth to make a character female."

I agree with McGowan's critique of superhero movies. Her insistence that everything would become instantly richer and deeper if male actors, directors, and characters were replaced by females has been proven wrong by Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman opens on Themyscira, originally known, in the comic books, as Paradise Island. Any man who sets foot on the island is condemned to death. Themyscira is populated by perfectly proportioned, healthy, high-breasted, small-waisted, long-legged, flat-bellied, glossy-haired, tight-butted, pert-nosed, wide-eyed females in skimpy, skin-tight costumes who spend all day wrestling with each other. Themyscira is clearly a teen boy's fantasy. No land where women can't risk pre-menstrual tummy bloat, or can't remove the metal bras that keep their breasts well-defined, is any female paradise.

Do male superheroes come from islands populated by legions of model-perfect boy-toy eye candy? Heck no. Men don't invite competition over their looks with other, spectacular looking men. Male superheroes are the only guy in the room who flies faster than a speeding bullet. Themyscira isn't a feminist daydream; it's a harem.

The women of Themyscira spend their time in physical fighting. Yes, I am a feminist. I am this kind of feminist – I recognize that men and women are different. I value women's qualities. In general, men respond to threat with fight or flight behavior. Women respond with tend-and-befriend behavior. I do not think I can solve my problems by beating someone up – not even in my fantasies. In conflict situations, I attempt to understand my opponent. I attempt to "tend" to that person's needs if I can and work together for non-violent, win-win solutions. I can fight or run if necessary, but, again, like a lot of women, my evolutionarily programmed primary urge is to nurture life and community, not destroy to destroy them. Wonder Woman is no realization of any of my feminist or even merely female fantasies.

An island populated solely by women is no paradise for me. I love men. My ideal fantasy world would include men – and family. I'd have a husband, and kids – not just daughters, but sons, too. I'd have a cozy home, with a kitchen I'd spend about a hundred years accessorizing. I'd have a nook for reading, in a bay window, in a large library, with velvet curtains, looking out on a garden. A woman's movie, for me, is not a man's movie that slips a female simulacrum into the spandex leotard of a male lead. A heroine is not a male superhero with a pair of breasts slapped on him. A woman's movie is a movie that respects and honors what women really are.

Who created this so-called feminist superhero, anyway? Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston. Marston was a polyamorist, living with at least three women as his de facto wives. Two of his long-term partners typed his manuscripts and supported him financially. Marston was part of "a 'sex cult' … Participants celebrated female sexual power, dominance, submission and love by forming 'Love Units' … including Love Girls who "do not … practice … concealment of the love organs."

Olive Byrne was Marston's graduate student. She became one of her married professor's mistresses. Byrne wore heavy silver bracelets that inspired Wonder Woman's superpower jewelry. Byrne was the niece of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. "Wonder Woman sprang from an intellectual milieu that included both New Age free love and a radical commitment to reproductive rights," writes Noah Berlatsky in The Atlantic. "Marston – and Sanger too … believed that women were purer and better than men." Marston's legal wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and Olive Byrne continued to live together after Marston died. There is speculation that Elizabeth and Olive became lovers.

Comic book historian Tim Hanley documents that 25% of images in the original Wonder Woman "included images of bondage." His 2014 Chicago Review Press book Wonder Woman Unbound reports that Wonder Woman's "creator filled the comics with titillating bondage imagery … In the 1950s, Wonder Woman begrudgingly continued her superheroic mission, wishing she could settle down with her boyfriend instead, all while continually hinting at hidden lesbian leanings. While other female characters stepped forward as women's lib took off in the late 1960s, Wonder Woman fell backwards, losing her superpowers and flitting from man to man."

Marston had a religious devotion to bondage as salvific. "The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep … to enjoy being bound ... Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society ... being controlled by [and] submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element," Marston wrote. Note that Wonder Woman wields a rope – a LASS-o – as one of her superpowers.

Marston's concept of feminism dominates the movie version of his work. He wrote, "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman ... Give [men] an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves."

Mr. Marston, you just don't get me at all. You think that because I don't go around punching people in the face as male superheroes do that I "lack force, strength and power." No. I exercise my strength, force, and power every day. For me, a battle is waged primarily through my keyboard, or through after-class conversations with troubled students. For me, victory doesn't mean that I am surrounded by the prostrate bodies of my enemies. For me, victory comes when a failing student tries harder and gets an A. I don't win by punching noses. I win by understanding, supporting, communicating, and connecting. Further, I desire no slave, certainly not a male partner who is a slave. I love the men I admire, men who are not beneath me or above me but are my equals. And, yes, that is the woman in me talking. Men aren't worse than I because they win through zero sum conquest. They are just different. Demanding that women must become masculine before they can be respected is not feminism.

"But, but, but!" some will scream. "Wonder Woman sold lots of tickets!" Indeed it has. I'm a teacher. I see young women consume media that tells them that they need to be sexually loose to find happiness. I see them consume lectures that demonize any awareness that girls experience sexual rejection differently than boys do, lectures that deny that women's need for committed relationships is hard-wired and evolutionarily sound. And I see these same girls become anorexic, self-harming, depressed, prescription-drug-dependent, and suicidal. Yes, they willingly buy the media and the academic lectures that tell them that gender is a social construct and that they should be something that they are not – that is, boys. They try to be promiscuous, to brag of sexual "conquests," and to punish themselves for any "clinging," for any sentimentality. Now they are buying a media product that tells them that girls, no less than boys, can save the world with their punches and their kicks. It terrifies and depresses me to think that girls, who are, in general, less physically powerful and also less aggressive than males, may discover their physical limitations the hard way – in the middle of a physical confrontation that they could have, had they listened to their feminine instincts, avoided.

The women in the audience applauding the onscreen women of Themyscira are applauding the very norms that, in other settings, they protest. Women rage against the lookism that demands that women be attractive before they can be anything else. Wonder Woman's fans applaud it for being "diverse." After all, some of the babes on Themyscira are black. None of them has anything like what is normal body fat for an American woman. None is aging as a normal woman does. There are no remarkably tall, flat-chested, or broad-beamed women on Themyscira. Themyscira's so-called "warriors" all have the pinched profiles of pin-ups. Not a single one could pass as a female Olympic weightlifter or shot putter. They don't have the sturdy bodies of women peasants who spend all day in agricultural labor. There are no handicapped women. None of them wears glasses. Featuring a pouty black runway model next to a pouty white runway model is not "diversity." It's pandering.

Let's finally admit that women discriminate in favor of pretty women just as surely as men do. Women reject big-boned, dowdy, nerdy females, as high school friends, as potential hires, when buying dolls, as heroines of novels and main characters of films every bit as much as men do. So-called feminists castigate and lecture men for participating in evolution's inevitable preference for the pretty and the powerful, but women do it themselves, to themselves and each other. I remember a "feminist" friend practically ululating about what a thrill it was to see Gloria Steinem speak in person. I drilled this feminist about what Steinem actually said in her talk that was so inspirational. All she could say was that Steinem was over sixty and still could "rock" tight, black leather pants. We women forge our own chains.

Proponents will argue that Wonder Woman herself, Diana, (Gal Gadot) is the film's hero, its center. Sorry, no. In significant ways, Diana departs from male superheroes. Male superheroes are clever and smart as well as strong. Diana is often a clueless and comical fish-out-of-water. She has lived her entire life on an island. She doesn't know how to navigate the twentieth-century, mixed-gender Europe she enters to fulfill her mission. In a couple of scenes, Diana is the butt of the audience's laughter.

Chris Pine, in the Star Trek reboot, stars as something like a superhero, Captain James T. Kirk. In Wonder Woman, Pine is Captain Steve Trevor, the shadow superhero. He chaperones Diana around the modern world, protecting her from her naivete and communicating for her when she cannot make herself understood. Male superheroes are much more independent than is Diana. They shine alone on stage. They don't share the spotlight. Their companions, when they have them, are coded as lesser. Robin is a child; Batman is an adult. Jimmy Olson is the squeaky-voiced mortal who admires Superman. Watson is tutored by Holmes. Steve, though mortal, is equal to the divine Diana.

Male superheroes don't require this kind of babysitting from female sidekicks. Hidden underneath the flashy poster art that depicts a hard-charging female as the center of action is a different plot: Diana is cared for by a protective and powerful male. Evolution has fashioned women to seek such men. Normal women want to share their lives with men as competent as they are. Women value husbands who can fix cars and be home handymen. Steve "fixes" things for Diana, recruiting a crew to advance her mission. Yes, Diana is powerful herself. But unlike Hugh Jackman's superhero Wolverine, for example, Diana is no lone wolf. She is in a relationship with a man, Steve, who could easily assume the superhero mantle himself. Again, behind the film's overt message of a lone female superhero is a more traditional truth: women value relationship. It is disingenuous to pretend that Wonder Woman is about something it is not.

Feminists say that to assess whether or not a narrative is female-centered, don't just look at the main character. Look at those with whom the main character interacts. If a female character is not shown having significant relationships with other women, but only with men, it is not a women-centered story. On Themyscira, Diana wrestles with her fellow Amazons. Once the film leaves the island, though, Diana is the lone, token female in a male-bonding buddy movie. Steve recruits a ragtag crew of his colorful friends – an ugly Scot, an Arab who wanted to be an actor but who was victimized by anti-Arab prejudice, and a Native American smuggler. Diana is adrift with this cast of characters from a boy's true adventure tale. They know and value each other. She's a pretty girl in a bathing suit plunked down in their treehouse. She might as well be a wall calendar. How about Diana plunging into a cat-fight with the female villain in some interesting, female-centric way? Never happens. For Diana to function, she must interact with men, in an all-male world.

Diana and Steve's mission is – wait for it – to find and defeat an evil genius who wants to destroy the world. I bet you didn't see that coming. Diana is only partially correct in her understanding of the mission. She thinks she is seeking Ares, the Greek god of war. She assumes that General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) is Ares. She chases and kills Ludendorff. The problem is that she's mistaken. Ludendorff is not Ares. It is Steve who has recognized the real threat: a planeload of German poison gas. While Diana is off on her wild goose chase, Steve has a different trajectory. He is focused on the concrete, immediate threat of poison gas. He sacrifices his own life by destroying the plane and its deadly cargo.

In recent years, leftists have gone on and on about cultural appropriation. An example: Elvis Presley. His songs, dress, and performance style have been assessed as the cultural property of African Americans. According to theorists of cultural appropriation, Elvis' entire career was a form of theft.

Pagans might love Wonder Woman. The film presents itself as based on Greek mythology. Diana is called an "Amazon." Zeus is her father. Zeus created his child to fight Ares, the Greek god of war. Diana is a savior figure. While Steve is sacrificing his own life to save others, Diana is facing off with Ares. Ares is depicted as a dark, horned entity walking through red flames. Ares tempts humanity to its own doom. This is all hogwash. And it is cultural appropriation.

The mythical Amazons were eager warriors. They worshipped Ares, the god of war. The idea that an Amazon would want to defeat Ares and end war is absurd. Neo-Pagans insist that societies where female goddesses are worshipped are better societies for women. One look at modern India, where female infanticide and gruesome rape headlines are epidemic, where female infanticide actually has worsened as India has prospered, proves false the assertion that goddess worship = good conditions for women. Hindus worship many powerful goddesses: Laxmi, Durga, Saraswati. An ad agency created a campaign of images of those goddesses – featuring bruises from domestic violence.

Ancient, Pagan Greece was often a lousy place for women. Well-born Athenian women were married off young to men they might not have chosen for themselves. They were expected to stay at home and produce legal heirs. Lowborn women had it even worse. Prostitutes, when not entertaining clients, had to spin wool to earn money for their pimps.

In Wonder Woman, Zeus is a loving father god who wants to help people. A loving father god who creates humanity and sends a promised savior has nothing to do with Ancient Greece. It is ripped off from Judaism. It's more than a little ironic that "feminists" celebrate a movie awash in ersatz Greek mythology. In authentic Greek mythology, Zeus is a serial rapist. Zeus assumes the form of a swan to rape Leda, a bull to rape Europa, and a shower of coins to rape Danae. Males were not safe; Zeus assumes the form of an eagle to rape Ganymede, a boy.

Classicist Eva C. Keuls, in her University of California Press book, The Reign of the Phallus, shows that "The phallus was pictured everywhere in ancient Athens: painted on vases, sculpted in marble, held aloft in gigantic form in public processions, and shown in stage comedies. This obsession with the phallus dominated almost every aspect of public life, influencing law, myth, and customs, affecting family life, the status of women, even foreign policy." Athenian men made a "blatant claim to general dominance" supported by "the myths of rape and conquest of women, and the reduction of sex to a game of dominance and submission, both of women by men and of men by men."

"The master rapist, of course, was Zeus … A foreigner once came to Athens and asked why the Athenians so often used the exclamation 'by Zeus'; the answer: 'Because so many of us are.'" That is, Zeus was such a successful rapist that Athenians can assume themselves to be descended from him. The Brygos Painter kantharos is a two-handled wine-drinking cup from Ancient Greece. Kreuls describes this cup. It depicts "two scenes of rape, one homosexual and one heterosexual, carefully balanced in composition, with that typically Greek bisexual promiscuity." A collection of Attic Art "contains 395 items, and includes rape by all the major male divinities on Olympus … Zeus [wields] his scepter or his thunderbolt (or both); Poseidon, his trident; and Hermes, his caduceus."

In addition to misrepresenting what Ancient, Pagan Greece really was for women – bad – Wonder Woman appropriates another people's myth. That people would be the ancient, monotheistic, moralistic Jews, and their offspring faith, Christians. In Judaism, not in Paganism, one loving God created humanity. That loving God recognized that the temptation to do evil was a problem for humanity. That temptation is personified by Satan, who, at least since Revelation 13, has been depicted as having horns – as Ares does in Wonder Woman. God promised a savior, a Messiah. Christians believe that Jesus is that Messiah, that Jesus is the son of God, and that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was salvific. Diana does not sacrifice her life in Wonder Woman, but in the final scenes she is shown suspended in air, arms stretched wide, legs together: a cross pose. While she is struggling with the horned Ares / Satan, shown walking through hellish flames, Steve is saving humanity by flying into heavenly clouds and sacrificing his own life.

Neo-Pagans are constant cultural appropriators; they combine denial about what Ancient Paganism entailed with outright pillaging of Christian values. A Neo-Pagan meme recently wormed its slimy way through my Facebook feed: "The Kingdom of God is within you." Educated people will recognize this as a quote from Jesus. The meme identified this quote, though, as coming from an Ancient Egyptian temple at Karnak. I wrote to Betsy M. Bryan, the Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University, and asked her if there is any truth to this New Age claim. No, it is not, she said. That's cultural appropriation.

Wonder Woman gives us a Pagan, Ancient Greece that offered a Paradise Island for women. There was a force in the Ancient World that offered women hope for respect for their full humanity. That force was Christianity. "In Christ there is no male and there is no female." Celsus, an Ancient, Pagan Greek, condemned Christianity as a religion of "women, children, and slaves" – that is "the foolish, the dishonorable, and the stupid."

Yes, Western Civilization owes the Ancient Greeks a great debt. The Greeks gave us democracy and the intellectual foundations of our scholarship. But the Ancient Pagan world valued power, wealth and beauty. Good looking and wealthy people were good; slaves and women had negligible value. Human sacrifice, including the sacrifice of children, was a constant. Recent archaeological discoveries support ancient accounts of the sacrifice and cannibalism of young boys dedicated to Zeus. Deformed Spartan babies, of course, were tossed into the Apothetae, the deposits. In order to be considered men, eighteen-year-old Spartan boys had to participate in a rite-of-passage called "helot killing." They were given a knife and sent out into the countryside with the job of stealthily murdering as many random and unsuspecting slaves as they could, without being detected. No doubt these slaves lived in a constant state of terror. So much for Utopia, for "Paradise Island." Without our Judeo-Christian ethical inheritance, our Greek inheritance is incomplete.

Starting in the early 1930s, and ending around the same time as the onset of the Sexual Revolution, under pressure from the Catholic Legion of Decency, Hollywood movies had to adhere to strict guidelines re: sex and violence. One might conclude that films made during this era were a wasteland for women. The opposite is true. Scholars acknowledge that Hollywood under the code was a Golden Age for women's movies. Since films could not emphasize sex and violence, they had to emphasize something else, and they did. Women could be smart, fast-talking, and compelling. Since whole families went to the movies, films had to please women of every age and station in life. Older women like Marie Dressler, Edna May Oliver, Ethel Barrymore, Jane Darwell, and Marjorie Main, as well as young girls, like Shirley Temple and Judy Garland, managed to be box office stars.

During Hollywood's Golden Age, Katharine Hepburn sank a German warship. Barbara Stanwyck outwitted Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper and Fred MacMurray. Vivien Leigh shot a Yankee soldier and paid Tara's taxes. An old and frail Lilian Gish protected children from the homicidal Robert Mitchum. Jennifer Jones saw the Virgin Mary, Ingrid Bergman heard the voices of saints, Greer Garson won two Nobel Prizes, and Audrey Hepburn tended to lepers in the Belgian Congo. Greta Garbo ruled Sweden, saved Poland, and managed to laugh. Without punching anyone. Without taking off their clothes. When young women come to me for film recommendations, I try to introduce them to Gold Age Hollywood movies.

There are films today that focus on real, heroic women. Maudie celebrates Canadian artist Maud Lewis. Lewis was poor, chronically ill, physically handicapped, not particularly sexy looking, and beautifully talented. She doesn't beat anyone up. She doesn't blow anything up. She loved her very difficult husband, kept house, and created art.

Megan Leavey is about a confused, difficult working class girl who joins the Marines, finds herself in patriotic discipline and service, and risks her life to serve her country in Iraq. She bonds with her "aggressive" bomb sniffing dog, Sergeant Rex. Leavey and Rex are injured when a terrorist IED explodes beneath them. Leavey works hard to readjust to civilian life and adopt her former canine fellow veteran.

Letters from Baghdad is about Gertrude Bell. As the film's website says, the film "tells the extraordinary and dramatic story of the most powerful woman in the British Empire … She shaped the modern Middle East after World War I in ways that still reverberate today. More influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, Bell helped draw the borders of Iraq and established the Iraq Museum."

All three films, all in theaters now, have high scores at Rotten Tomatoes. All three films are bringing in a tiny fraction of the box office that Wonder Woman is bringing in. Ladies, stop blaming guys. If you want big-screen movies about real life heroines, get out there and buy tickets for the movies that depict them. And give up on finding Utopia in the fantasies of modern social engineers, Ancient Paganism, or the pages of comic books. Utopia is not to be found there. Forget all you've been taught about Western Civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition being hopelessly corrupt and fit only for the garbage heap of history. Have another look at your heritage: at Sarah, Judith, Esther, Mary Magdalene, Thecla, Teresa of Avila and so many more. You'll be glad you did.

This piece first appeared in FrontPageMag here