When identity politics attack *UPDATED*

Noemie Emery perfectly summarizes the nightmare the Dems have created for themselves:

Sometime back in the 1990s, when the culture wars were the only ones we thought we had going, a cartoon showed three coworkers viewing each other with narrowed and questioning eyes. “Those whites don’t know how to deal with a competent black man,” the black man is thinking. “Those guys don’t know how to deal with a powerful woman,” the woman is thinking. And what could the only white male have been thinking? “They don’t like me. They know that I’m gay.”

So far as we know, there are no gays in the mixture today, but the cartoon nicely captures what the Democrats face as they try to wage a political war in the age of correctness, which is, they are finding, an impossibility. The Democrats are the party of self-conscious inclusion, of identity politics, of sensitivity training, of hate crimes, hate speech, and of rules to control them. A presidential campaign, on the other hand, is nothing but “hate speech,” as opponents dive deep into opposition research, fling charges true, half-true, and simply made up against one another in an attempt to present their rivals as slimy, dishonest, disreputable, dangerous, and possibly the worst human beings who ever drew breath.

This has been true of this country’s politics since at least 1800, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vilified roundly, and has gone on ever since–an accepted and even a much-loved tradition. Until recently, it went on without murmur, as all the main contestants for president were white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, with the exception of Michael Dukakis and three Roman Catholics, two of whom looked like WASPs. Now, however, in its campaign season from hell, the party of sensitivity has found itself in a head-banging brawl between a black man and white woman, each of them visibly loathing the other, in a situation in which anything said in opposing one of the candidates can be defined as hateful, insensitive, hurtful, demeaning, not to say bigoted, and, worst of all, mean. Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, which you can find here.

UPDATE: And here is precisely what Emery and I predicted, which is that the give and take of politics is dead, because you’re not allowed to attack Obama (just as you weren’t allowed to attack Hillary and make her cry):

The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”

The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.

As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.

Hillary will be a better opponent for the Republican candidate because she is so strident and disliked, it will be okay to attack her in the ordinary rough and tumble of an election. Obama will be a disaster for the Republican candidate, because he’ll be untouchable.

Boys will not be boys

Last month, when a Colorado school issued an edict banning tag because someone might get emotionally hurt, I did a long post about how I thought the long-term consequences of that decision were infinitely worse than the short term issue of kids having a playground conflict. In the last couple of paragraphs of that same post, I wrote about a decision in my daughter’s classroom to ban a favorite type of boy play: imaginary weapons. I would have been okay had the rules denied any wild play in the classroom, reserving it instead for the school yard. What bugged me was how targeted it was to boys’ activities.

I’m not the only one who has noticed this trend. At American Thinker, Selwyn Duke has written a wonderful piece about these same education trends, with special emphasis on the attacks against the nature of boys. I urge you to read it and then, if you still have boys in public school, think about ways politely to change the dynamic.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that elementary school education in the latter half of the 20th Century became pretty much the preserve of women, so one has to accept that there inevitably was going to be feminization in the classroom. This early feminine touch, though was aimed at soothing rough edges, teaching manners, and generally civilizing wild behavior. Nowadays, there’s a misanthropic, feminist edge to what’s going on, that is very much aimed, not at teaching manners, but at “de-boying” boys (witness the fact that, in my daughter’s class, a specific type of boy play got banned).

UPDATEAt Jeremayakova, there’s a video, a bit graphic, that illustrates Michael Savage’s theory that, for both men and women, homosexual culture has become the dominant norm — moving from fringe behavior most of us don’t espouse to cultural beliefs central to young men and women.  It’s interesting, and certainly worth thinking about, even if you don’t agree with any part of or even the entire premise.  (Hat tip:  RD — you know who you are, and thank you.)

Another one for the “where’s NOW now” file

Some Saudi women are bravely taking a stand and trying to overturn the prohibition against women drivers in that medieval theocracy:

For the first time ever, a group of women in the only country that bans female drivers have formed a committee to lobby for the right to get in the driver’s seat. They plan to petition King Abdullah in the next few days for that privilege.

Members of the Committee of Demanders of Women’s Right to Drive Cars say they want to have their petition delivered to the king by Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s national day.

“We would like to remind officials that this is, as many have said, a social and not religious or political issue,” said Fowziyyah al-Oyouni, a founding member of the committee. “And since it’s a social issue, we have the right to lobby for it.”

The government is not likely to respond to the plea because the issue is so sensitive and divisive. But al-Oyouni said the petition will at least highlight what many Saudi men and women consider as a “stolen right.”

The driving ban applies to all women, Saudi and foreign, and forces families to hire live-in drivers. Women whose families cannot afford $300-400 a month for a driver rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor’s.

The last time the question of women drivers was raised was two years ago, when Mohammed al-Zulfa, a member of the unelected Consultative Council, asked his colleagues to just think about studying the possibility of allowing women over age 35 or 40 to be allowed to drive — unchaperoned on city streets but accompanied by a male guardian on highways.

His suggestion touched off a fierce controversy that included calls for his removal from the council and stripping him of Saudi citizenship as well as accusations he was encouraging women to commit the double sins of discarding their veils and mixing with men.

The uproar underscored the divisions in Saudi society between the guardians of its super-strict Islamic codes of behavior and those who want to usher in more liberal attitudes.

Conservatives, who believe women should be shielded from strange men, say women in the driver’s seat will be free to leave home alone and go when and where they please. They also will be able to unduly expose their eyes while driving and interact with strange men such as traffic police and mechanics.

But supporters of female drivers say the prohibition exists neither in law nor Islam, but is based on fatwas, or edicts, by senior clerics who say women at the wheel create situations for sinful temptation.

Interestingly, I don’t see at the NOW website any reference to this fight for women to have access to what has become a basic right around the world.  Instead, NOW is simply agitating for the US Senate to ratify a non-binding UN treaty aimed at rescuing women in those countries that bother to sign on to the treaty in the first place (or, as NOW artfully phrases it, “CEDAW prohibits all forms of discrimination against women by legally binding those countries that ratify it to the following measures.”). I’m not surprised that the Senate is unwilling to sign on to this waste-of-time treaty.  (And please note that this is a Democratic controlled Senate that’s not even bothering with this one.)

I’m so ashamed

Why am I ashamed?  I’m ashamed because I didn’t even know that there was a radio talk show network directed at women.  How in the world could I have missed that!  And yet today I suddenly discover that, while I was blithely listening to Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved, poor Jane Fonda (along with former Bunny Gloria Steinem) was struggling to make sure women’s voices were heard about such timeless issues as . . . as . . . well, whatever.  Wait, wait.  I know.  About timeless issues that matter to vapid, overage Hollywood stars who have for years dabbled, in humiliating, foolish and dangerous ways, in Left wing politics.  Sad to say, these timeless issues don’t seem to have mattered to the majority of American women.  Otherwise, how could this have happened?

The “feminist” radio company whose founders include Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem failed to attract an audience and it signed off the air for good on Friday.

When the talk-radio network, called GreenStone, officially launched in September 2006, NewsMax reported that it was a “new left-wing radio network that plans to appeal to women listeners and counter the dominance of conservative talk radio.”

GreenStone claimed it would deliver “de-politicized, de-polarized talk radio by women hosts for female listeners,” and Steinem said it would offer an alternative to current radio talk, which she described as “very argumentative, quite hostile, and very much male-dominated.”

She also said radio was “overbalanced toward the ultra-right.” But “Greenstone Media’s brand of tepid liberalism didn’t appeal to women,” Carrie Lukas, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism,” writes in the New York Post.

Tut, tut, tut.

“Someone to watch over me….”

I’m quite heterosexual, but I’ve dreamed for years of having a wife. Turns out I’m not the only one:

Now that women have solidly earned their place in the work force, many find themselves still yearning for something men often have: wives.

“The thing I most want in life is a wife. I’m not kidding,” said Joyce Lustbader, a research scientist at Columbia University, who has been married for 29 years. “I work all day, sometimes seven days a week, and still have to go home and make dinner and have all those things to do around the house.”

It is not just the extra shift at home that is a common complaint. Working women, whether married or single, also see their lack of devoted spousal support as an impediment to getting ahead in their careers, especially when they are competing against men who have wives behind them, whether those wives are working or staying at home. And research supports their argument: it appears that marriage, at least marriage with children, bolsters a man’s career but hinders a woman’s.

One specialist in women’s studies dismissed wife envy as something women “are usually joking about” and another called it “a need for a second set of hands, regardless of gender.” But therapists who work with couples on equality issues say it is no joke.

“I hear it all the time,” said Robin Stern, a psychotherapist in Manhattan and author of “The Gaslight Effect.” “It’s a real concern. Things that used to be routinely taken care of during the week are not anymore.”

With two-income families now the norm, and both men and women working a record-breaking number of hours, the question has become how to accomplish what used to be a wife’s job, even as old-fashioned standards of household management and entertaining have been relaxed. Many men are sharing the work of chores and child care with their wives, and some do it all as single parents, but women still generally shoulder a greater burden of household business (or fretting over how to do what is not getting done).

Frankly, I don’t see this as entirely a matter of male chauvinism, although most people who know Mr. Bookworm and me would be the first to agree that, by any standards, Mr. Bookworm is a 1950s kind of guy who does absolutely nothing around the house.

Mr. Bookworm’s antediluvian tendencies aside, while there are many wonderful and devoted house husbands (I know a few), in 95% of the marriages I see around me, the husbands and wives have simply fallen, without thought, into the traditional role of the women taking on the primary childcare obligations. (I think it has something to do with the precedent set vis a vis the children with pregnancy and nursing.)

The fallout from that almost thoughtless devolution into traditional roles is that the women with paying jobs outside of the house inevitably decrease their hours, flex their hours, or give up paying work altogether. And the fallout from that change in paying work status is that, as their income declines and their hours at home increase, the women take on more of the domestic tasks. As every working mother knows, domestic tasks can be a full time job. These working women therefore

  1. rise at dawn,
  2. get everyone ready for work or school,
  3. get the children out the door,
  4. toss a load of laundry in the machine,
  5. get themselves ready for,
  6. go to work,
  7. pack a full day of work into part-time,
  8. race home to meet the kids,
  9. stuff snacks into the kids,
  10. drive the kids to their after school programs,
  11. race through the grocery stores while the kids play soccer,
  12. get the kids home from the after school activities, cooking dinner,
  13. supervise homework,
  14. tidy the house,
  15. finish the laundry,
  16. wrestle the kids into bed,
  17. complete the work that didn’t get down during the rest of the and
  18. collapse (often with that infamous headache).

Their husbands, meanwhile,

  1. get up in the morning,
  2. shave,
  3. shower,
  4. go to work,
  5. come home,
  6. eat dinner,
  7. kiss the kids and
  8. watch TV.

That’s why we modern women want wives — we want someone to take care of us and give us a break.

The politics of movie reviews

I’ve been reading the New York Times’ movie reviews for decades now. I don’t know if they were always so politicized and laden with PC instruction, and I just didn’t notice, or if they’ve gotten more and more liberally pedantic with the passage of time. I do know, though, that today’s set of reviews was as much about the reviewers’ political beliefs as it was about the movies themselves.

Take the review for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a silly sounding Adam Sandler movie that has as its premise the fact that two heterosexual fire fighters marry to ensure a stable home for one man’s children. The review, rather than really being about the movie, is about how the movie is wrong about PC issues, despite the GLAAD seal of approval (and I did you not about the latter):

Fear of a gay planet fuels plenty of American movies; it’s as de rigueur in comedy as in macho action. But what’s mildly different about “Chuck & Larry” is how sincerely it tries to have its rainbow cake and eat it too. In structural terms, the movie resembles a game of Mother May I, in that for every tiny step it takes forward in the name of enlightenment (gay people can be as boring as heterosexuals), it takes three giant steps back, often by piling on more jokes about gay sex (some involving a priceless Ving Rhames). Into this mix add the stunningly unfunny Rob Schneider, who pops up brandishing buckteeth, glasses and an odious accent in apparent homage to Mickey Rooney’s painful, misguided turn as the Japanese neighbor in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” has been deemed safe for conscientious viewing by a representative of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a media watchdog group. Given the movie’s contempt for women, who mainly just smile, sigh and wiggle their backdoors at the camera, it’s too bad that some lesbian (and Asian) Glaad members didn’t toss in their two cents about the movie. If Mr. Sandler dares speak in favor of gay love in “Chuck & Larry” — at least when it’s legally sanctioned, tucked behind closed doors and not remotely feminine — it’s only because homosexuality represents one type of love among men. Here, boys can be boys, together in bed and not, but heaven forbid that any of them look or behave like women.

Frankly, I think the movie seems dreadful, but I’m not a teenager. My sense, though, is that the reviewer is offended, not by the movie itself, but by the movie might actually not be as fond of gays as its premise implies. That’s a valid position, but it’s not the stuff of movie reviews.

But that’s just an “N” of one. How about the review for No Reservations, which is praised, not for its qualities as a movie or the virtues of its acting, but for striking the politically correct tone about working mothers:

What’s unexpected and gratifying, though, is the film’s enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie’s publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though it’s the story’s driving force.

***

Modern Hollywood movies often genuflect toward feminism while implying that a woman isn’t truly a woman until she has gratefully surrendered to motherhood. While watching “No Reservations” you keep waiting for the other high-heeled shoe to drop, but it never really does. The director, Scott Hicks (“Shine”), and the screenwriter, Carol Fuchs, respect Kate’s ambition, skill and drive. Throughout, they imply that Kate’s biggest hurdle isn’t a lack of aptitude for motherhood but her credulous acceptance of society’s one-size-fits-all definition of good parents.

***

It isn’t easy for Kate to process her sister’s death — she returns to work too quickly, and won’t take time off until her boss (Patricia Clarkson) orders it — and the challenge of mothering Zoe is even more daunting. Yet the film dares to present Kate’s stumblebum early efforts — subcontracting child care to a chain-smoking goth babysitter, then to a flirty single-dad neighbor (a charming and woefully underused Brian F. O’Byrne) — as proof not that she needs to quit her job, but that she’s fallen for the false dichotomy of work versus parenting.

I haven’t seen this movie, but I have seen Mostly Martha, the German movie that it copies. Maybe I read it wrong, but the German movie was about a horribly uptight woman who was humanized by having a child — which is quite a traditional message. I wonder if No Reservations has actually changed that message, or if this reviewer is just seeing things through the PC lens.

By the way, I don’t recall any movie advocating that a single Mom should just quit her job. However, anything with even a tidge of reality says that a woman (or man) suddenly responsible for a child must make changes and, possibly, sacrifices, for that child’s well-being. Only people in thrall to the ugliest feminism would say a helpless child has to be completely subordinate to a single woman’s desires.

There would be more, but I’ve gotta run….

UPDATE: I know that, sooner or later, someone is going to point out the obvious, which is that such sites as National Review Online or American Spectator also make political points in their reviews. That’s true. But the overt purpose of those reviews is to tell how they fit into the conservative world view. “If you are offended by movies encouraging out-of-wedlock babies, you won’t like this one” kind of stuff. Just as movie sites warn parents off of movies inappropriate for kids, these sites serve the function of warning conservatives off of movies that will make them heave.

The Times, however, holds itself out as an objective reviewer of movie quality, into which it then sneaks lectures telling its readers “If you are an evil person (i.e., not liberal), you’ll think these jokes are funny” or “all decent movie goers will recognize the political wisdom of this movie.” As always, for me, it’s not the agenda, it’s the hidden agenda.

UPDATE II: Just today, Jonah Goldberg, writing about the Simpsons, has something to say about politicizing reviews:

But, as I’ve often tried to point out, scrutinizing everything on a political calculus is often pointless and, worse, it sucks the marrow of joy out of the bone of life (Hmmmm bone-sucked joy-marrow). The Simpsons is funny because it’s funny. The politics of the show are a very small part of the equation, because politics are — and should be — a very small part of life, in Springfield and everywhere else.

UPDATE III:  I read movie reviews, but seldom go to movies.  I don’t read book reviews; I just read lots of books.  It turns out that, if I’d been reading the latter reviews and not just the former, I would have discovered that this same bias may well permeate the book review industry too.  Why am I not surprised?  I recall a year or so ago someone leaving a comment here saying that all books published by Regnery were bad, across the board.  There’s an  open mind.

Another one in the where’s NOW now file?

Enter “honor killing” in the search window at the website for the National Organization of Women and you’ll get 3 — count ’em — 3 hits that address that most feminine of problems. In chronological order, the results are as follows:

A press release type report from summer 2000, in which “the National Organization for Women joined Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for the introduction of H.R.362, a resolution to condemn “honor crimes,” the practice of burning, maiming or killing women who have been accused of bringing shame to their families.”

NOW’s 2001 annual report, which mentions that speakers affiliated with a World March of Women mentioned some of the horrors visited upon women, including genital mutilation and honor killings. Interestingly enough, the report writer, while mentioning how bad the Taliban were, shied away entirely from tying Islam together with these assaults on women.  (And yes I know that honor killing is more of a cultural practice, than a religious one, but it’s a hard distinction to make when one considers that those cultures that practice it are Islamic.  In otherwise, while all Muslims don’t commit honor killings, the majority of honor killings are committed by Muslims.)

NOW’s 2002 annual report, a 39 page document that, on page 17, uses precisely the same language used in the 2001 annual report to say that, at the World March of Women, speakers reported on how badly women are treated. It’s standard block and copy stuff.

If NOW wishes to be considered a reputable, or even a meaningful, organization protecting women, it might actually want to take a stand against the ever increasing number of honor killings world wide, because I have a little secret for NOW: Those being killed to preserve family honor are . . . shhhh, don’t say it too loudly . . . women. Another one took place in Britain, with a resultant conviction. As you read this, keep in mind the reference to the ever increasing numbers of these murders and to the tortures inflicted on these young women before their ultimate deaths:

A father who ordered his daughter brutally slain for falling in love with the wrong man in a so-called “honor killing” was found guilty of murder on Monday.

Banaz Mahmod, 20, was strangled with a boot lace, stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a back garden.

Her death is the latest in an increasing trend of such killings in Britain, home to some 1.8 million Muslims. More than 100 homicides are under investigation as potential “honor killings.”

Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and his brother Ari Mahmod, 51, planned the killing during a family meeting, prosecutors told the court. Two others have pleaded guilty in the case. Two more suspects have fled the country. Sentencing is expected later this month.

The men accused the young woman of shaming her family by ending an abusive arranged marriage, becoming too Westernized and falling in love with a man who didn’t come from their Iraqi village. The Kurdish family came to Britain in 1998 when Banaz Mahmod was 11.

“She was my present, my future, my hope,” said Rahmat Suleimani, 29, Banaz Mahmod’s boyfriend.

During the three-month trial, prosecutors said Mahmod’s father beat his daughter for using hairspray and adopting other Western ways. Her uncle once told her she would have been “turned to ashes” if she were his daughter and had shamed the family by becoming involved with the Iranian Kurd, her sister 22-year-old Bekhal Mahmod testified.

Banaz Mahmod ran away from home when she was a teenager but returned when her father sent her an audio tape in which he warned he would kill her sisters, her mother and himself if she did not come home, her sister said.

She was later hospitalized after her brother attacked her, the sister told the court. The brother said he had been paid by their father to finish her off but in the end was unable to do it, said the sister, who testified in a full black burqa. She said she still feared for her own life.

***

Britain has seen more than 25 women killed by their Muslim relatives in the past decade for offenses they believed brought shame on the family. More than 100 other homicides are under investigation as potential honor killings.

Some Muslim communities in Britain practice Sharia, or strict Islamic law.

“We’re seeing an increase around the world, due in part to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism,” said Diana Nammi with the London-based Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization.

The parts of the story that I omitted involve the way in which the British police repeatedly dismissed her fears, despite the increasingly savage punishment visited against her. I’m hard pressed to figure out their cavalier attitude. Is it the old-fashioned police attitude towards domestic violence? A fear of reprisal from Islamic fundamentalists? An unconcern for women? Who knows? Poor Banaz is dead in any event, and the ones who should care most, the organizations that are positively shrill in their concern that women get paid the precise number of pennies as men despite their different career choices, and who have elevated abortion to the ridiculous heights of a feminist sacrament, are silent.

Hat tip:  Don Quixote