Sunday, 27 September 2009

Liberal McCarthyism

"Liberal McCarthyism" is a phrase I've seen popping up every now and again, especially recently in the context of the healthcare debate in America. If it means nothing to you, Senator Joseph McCarthy was heavily involved in what is known as the "Second Red Scare" in America in the 1940's and 50's, becoming the figurehead in rooting out Communist espionage in America. While the goal was certainly a true and noble one, McCarthy became more and more aggressive, putting accused through intensive hearings, and it encouraged an atmosphere of fear where unsubstantiated accusations were rife, and taken seriously. McCarthyism is therefore known as the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence (thanks Wiki!) "Liberal McCarthyism" is simply the modern equivalent, used by liberals in recent years.

The most common form of Liberal McCarthyism is usually aimed at tarring people with some form of bias or discrimination. So for instance, if you are against gay marriage, that isn't because you have strong beliefs in the role and institution of marriage, but simply because you are 'homophobic.' However, the common beating stick of Liberal McCarthyism is the issue of race and racism.

In England we have seen this ugly side of politics rear its head on a number of occasions, the most famous example being the Stephen Lawrence case and the resulting MacPherson report. It would take too long to go into the exact details and it has been summed up better than I ever could by Theodore Dalrymple in his article and critique in the City Journal this year.
He shows excellently exactly how the death of an innocent young black man was used in the most shocking manner by agenda driven liberals to attack the police, and accuse them of 'institutional racism.' This accusation made fifteen years ago, still taints the police and affects its performance and the morale of its officers each and every day. The Report's recommendation that a racist incident be defined as "any incident which is perceived as racist by the victim or any other person” has damaged race relations, both by increasing suspicion amongst minorities that there are a significant number of people (including the police force as a whole) out to get them, and by encouraging a 'cry-wolf' attitude to racism so that when a real case of racism occurs, it is sometimes met with skepticism by a defensive and weary population living in fear of someone pointing the race finger at them. While I agree with Dalrymple on most points, I disagree with him that the history of the MacPherson report can be written at the present time. I believe that the effects of this brand of Liberal McCarthyism will reach far into the future, and it will be left to historians in the distant future to assess the seismic damage it has caused to British society.

Now we turn to the present situation in America. Obama was supposed to bring a new era of post-racial America, yet the temptation for liberals to turn into present day McCarthyites was just too much. We have seen it in the President himself, he made a handful of pops at the Republican party during his campaign ("They'll tell you that I don't look like them, and that I have a funny name.") and Obama's McCarthyite streak was revealed in July when he called police stupid and threw the race card at them for having the audacity to arrest an old Prof friend of his, even though he had no idea what had actually happened (it turns out the officer in question had acted impeccably.) Poll numbers dropped and beers were drank in front of cameras to get the numbers up, but the damage was done, America was shown to have a President not scared to play the race card when it suits him.

Then came the town hall debates over healthcare, and since they have started, the racism accusations have come thick and fast, and are getting louder. Even Obama cuddling up to Letterman and making a forced joke that he was black before the election can't stop this hurricane of McCarthyism that has been unleashed by Obama's drop in popularity and the defeat of the summer healthcare push by the Dem's. With Obama's poll numbers dropping faster than the charges against Skip Gates, liberals are in panic, and after their first weapon - cries of 'incivility' and 'nastiness' - were brushed off, they have chosen to well and truly hit the panic button, which is to instigate an all-out war against free speech. Now liberal media pundits are talking of 'unsettling atmospheres' of race, saying that race 'is definitely a factor' despite not being able to provide any evidence for it. Talk of 'undeniable trends' or 'racist tones' crops up more and more, the goal being either the dismissal of people with legitimate grievances, or the quashing of opposition, or both. Even ex-pres Jimmy Carter popped his head up to tell us that all this opposition to the President was definitely because of racism. Joe Wilson calling Obama a liar was again put down to racism (as opposed to the fact that Obama was lying about healthcare of course), after all Wilson comes from the South so it must be racism! Signs portraying Obama as the joker were labelled as 'disturbingly reminiscent of minstrels and other such racist imagery', despite the fact that images of Bush as the Joker had been in abundance when he was President as well. The examples are endless, and only within a few months.

It is tempting to laugh off these attempts to create a McCarthyite atmosphere, but its important to take them seriously. It can work in creating pockets of fear amongst people who don't want to be labelled racist in their environments, and as we have seen in England, even something as poorly argued as the MacPherson report, can have devastating effects of society at large. Just as the McCarthyite period in the 1950's caused an atmosphere of fear in which people became scared of criticising American foreign policy for fear of being called a communist, Americans need to guard against a second McCarthyite period in which people would be scared of criticising any area of Obama's policies for fear of being labelled a racist. The movement to put such a period into action is already well under way.

Friday, 11 September 2009

9-11 and the uncomfortable liberals (Warning: Long Post)

It goes without saying that today is the 8th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the United States, and rightly there has been a lot of coverage of it in the media, the theme in most places being one of remembrance. What became instantly noticeable to me was that on the Guardian's comment page, there were two articles on the subject of 9-11, both disparaging the U.S.A in some way, and generally trying to draw the focus away from 9-11.

The first article is by Andy Worthington, who looks not at the tragedy of the 3,000+ people who died on 9-11, but on the 225 people detained at Gitmo. The article itself is standard fare for a liberal rag like the Guardian, nothing particularly extreme, moans about those oppressed by America in Gitmo, how the War on Terror was bad, all mixed in with a nice dollop of Anti-Americanism - its nothing unusual. Yet what is noteworthy is that it has appeared in the Guardian today of all days. Why on Earth, when today is the anniversary of the most horrific attack on American soil, would you completely ignore the people who died, and focus instead on a handful of prisoners? It's the equivalent of commemorating the anniversary of the death of Grandma by remembering that Mittens the cat wasn't fed the day she died. Of course the author painfully tries to present this article as what the victims 'would have wanted' by inserting into the middle of his rant about 'justice' the spine curling line, "The relatives of those who lost their lives on 9/11 deserve nothing less" but I don't think he convinces anyone. Guantanamo is Worthington's hobby horse, and he has written a lot on it so fair enough if he wants to write some more, but to put a U.S.A-bashing article like this out on 9-11 with only a minor nod of the head to the victims is the equivalent of standing at the back of a funeral during a eulogy and screaming, "WHY DON'T YOU MENTION HOW HE DRANK LIKE A FISH?"

The second article is very odd. Lila Nordstrom writes an article I was reading fairly casually until she somehow made a comparison between 9-11 and the healthcare debate. It starts off as a normal recollection of the fateful day. She recalls how she was working in a school when the planes hit, and states that they were let back into the building too early in October when it could have still been a toxic area, and that she is angry at this. Fair enough. But then out of nowhere she turns it around, blames Bush and Giuliani for creating an atmosphere of fear in which she was forced to think the 'absurd' idea that her school could be hit by a terrorist attack (proved apparently by the fact that her school was not hit by a terrorist attack), an atmosphere of fear which prevails to this day, and this is why healthcare is being opposed. Thats right, 9-11 fear is why Obamacare if failing. So, here, the second '9-11' themed article totally ignores the 3000+ killed, and instead declares the real evil to be the 'fear' created by Bush that also means we can't pass healthcare. Nordstrom fails to play with the idea that maybe the fear that her and many others (including myself, living miles and miles away in a small village outside of Manchester, England) felt wasn't because of evil, horrible Bush, but more due to the fact that 4 planes had been used in terrorist attacks on buildings, thousands of people had died, and we didn't know if/when/where another one was going to follow! So people were rightfully fearful!

So, when we look at these two articles in the context of left wing commentary on 9-11, what does it tell us? Why is it just unthinkable for lefty rags like the Guardian to produce some commentary that simply says "We will never forget the tragedy of 9-11"? It doesn't need to be "Yay Bush" or "More troops in Afghanistan", but just a statement of compassion and remembrance that doesn't have a "BUT" at the end of it.

I think the answer to this comes from the left-wing vision of history and its current world view. Some on the right have accused those on the far left of seeing 9-11 as something 'deserved' but I don't think this is fair. Granted, I've met a handful of leftists who have read a bit of Chomsky and Moore and sit back, skimmed latte in hand and 'make poverty history' on wrist and smugly inform me how they think that "it will do America good to get a taste of their own medicine" but I think this only is the view of either the stupid or the extremely hard left.

The real problem for the left, and the reason these two Guardian writers have ignored the elephant in the room, is because 9-11 was an example of how far from reality their world view is. In the world-view of the left, America is the big bad evil empire, and spends all its time crushing and oppressing innocent groups and countries. America is bad, and the small countries are good. If there is a war of any sort, it isn't a real war, it's just America bullying people for oil or land or power or money. It is also linked in with the liberal view of religion. Christianity is bad, evil, outdated and backward, Jesus was a nice man (like...Ghandi or John Lennon) who has had his legacy taken over by bigoted, racist, sexist, white homophobes who hate science and gay people. Yet every other type of religion is excellent and diverse and open and tolerant. They must be, as these are the religions of those lovely minorities that America keeps oppressing. Don't believe me on this one? Fine, go to a party full of liberals and declare that you are either a Seikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Zoroastrian or whatever. Instantly the liberals will gather and tell you how much they respect your faith, and how fascinating it is and how they have even flirted with it themselves (crossing legs and humming counts as Buddhism in many Western liberal's heads.) Now go to another party of liberals and declare that you are a Christian, preferably a Catholic. You will very quickly hear disapproving snorts, have your head bitten off, your faith disrespected, and your views on issues such as abortion attacked into the ground.

Yet this religion loving is tough for the liberal as these religions aren't always fuzzy love-fests, but serious faiths with strong principles, some principles that are difficult for us to agree with. Nowhere do liberals have to bend facts around quite so much as with Islam, and so they have to become the defenders and experts of their imaginary brand of Islam, with everyone else being branded as 'not real Muslims.' How many times have you heard a liberal tell you that Islam means peace, and just how peaceful and huggy and warm and great Islam is? Now, I'm not saying Islam is some evil religion in and of itself, but just as I don't get my facts on 'true' Christianity from an atheist, I don't get my facts of 'true' Islam from a Western liberal.

So, then 9-11 comes along, an unprovoked attack aimed not just at the military and the government, but at regular citizens. The attack is from radical fundamentalists, who while being on the extreme side of Islam, are no 'tiny minority' but have a lot of support in varying degrees from Muslims in the middle East and all over the world. The attack is not small, like some poor one man knife attack on an official, but a well-orchestrated, technological, heavily-funded attack on America that consisted of years of training, and demonstrated a huge, worldwide network of terror eager to strike big and to strike often. Their aim? Not the end of a war, or a demand, or freeing of a hostage, but the total destruction of Western society, not just America. Can't blame that one on Bush then!

The Shaw doctrine of the difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives see reality and develop an ideology from that experience of reality, while liberals go the other way round and try and see reality using the lens of their pre-formed ideology, meaning when a huge, undeniable dose of reality comes in the horrific form of 9-11, it contradicts everything about the way liberals see the world. It is for this reason that liberals are desperate to move away from the cold facts of 9-11 and so try to twist it into a morally relative issue about Guantanamo or healthcare or whatever. This is why almost a third of democrats, as well as the now infamous Van Jones, believe that 9-11 was an inside job of some sort, because the idea that Muslim radicals, supported by a large amount of Muslims, attacked innocent civilians, and therefore were the bad guys, doesn't compute. Therefore it must be Bush, or Cheney, or anyone, there must be some explanation other than the norm.

But there isn't. 9-11 is the inconvenient truth for liberals, and that is why, in the face of everyone else spending this day remembering what happened on that fateful day in 01, many liberals are desperately trying to make this day about something else. It is up to us to make sure they do not succeed.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

That evil, nasty, horrible Sarah Palin! (yawn)

I am a huge fan of Sarah Palin, and thought that she was the only bright light the McCain ticket had. She was eventually punished by a well-strung media campaign both pro-Obama and anti-Palin and her slight lack of experience, which wouldn't have been an issue had she not been under such an intense spotlight. Consider for a second the intensity of the coverage on Joe Biden, the Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate (and now of course the VP), and see how little intensity he was examined with compared to Palin. This of course wasn't really media bias (the hysterical cries of her being dumb and crazy came later), but simply the media covering what was interesting. McCain and Biden were not particularly interesting, while Palin and Obama were. So it quickly turned into Palin v Obama, and it was not a fight that Palin was ready for, especially considering the momentum Obama had, both with the independents and with the media.

The venom that was aimed at Palin has continued since Obama won the election, and has proved to be an interesting phenomenon. It has shown that, despite the constant criticism that she is useless, stupid, a bimbo, a failure, inexperienced etc etc etc, she is actually a grave threat to the Obama administration, and she will definitely be a factor in one way or another at the 2012 election. The criticism itself supports this. After all, why would you continue to go after, and try to silence, someone who is not a threat? If there were someone who matched this description on the Democrat side, conservatives would not attack and hate such a person, but would instead delight in the open goal he or she would give to the conservative movement. For instance, I have a soft spot for Joe Biden, who stumbles about saying things such as "Oh yeh, we guessed wrong on the economy." Brilliant!! Have a beer on me Mr Vice-President! As Palin looks more and more likely to run for 2012, surely liberals would be delighted if it was really the case that she was terrible? Liberals might be wrong, but they aren't stupid. They loved McCain and left him alone, because they knew he wasn't a real threat, and if Palin wasn't a threat, they would leave her alone as well.

But Palin is a threat, a huge one. This was shown recently in the healthcare debate. One innocuous, yet well-researched, post on facebook on what she labelled 'death panels' triggered DEFCOM 1 at the White House, hasty but unconvincing denials from Obama, and an increase in awareness amongst the public as to what was in the Bill. Out of the many, many town hall meetings on this subject, I doubt that there has been one where Palin's phrase 'death-panels' has not been mentioned, and it will remain in public consciousness for a long time. Eventually, the section was removed from the Bill, which caused even more problems as it came on the heels of almost every single Democrat screaming at the top of their lungs that such a section did not actually exist. At time of writing, the administration has not recovered from this blow, and it may have killed the healthcare bill in its current form, and if passed at all, will come with huge compromises, and a significant chip off Obama's approval ratings. All this with a facebook 'note.' As James Taranto asks in his excellent WSJ article on the subject, "If she's dim and Obama is brilliant, how did he lose the argument to her?"

The media has realised this, and like clockwork, a bizarre, barrel-scraping interview with Levi Johnston (the father of Bristol Palin's child) has appeared in Vanity Fair, slagging her off as a bad parent. Yet the 'previews' VF give us aren't exactly groundbreaking or interesting and makes one wonder why VF spent such a huge amount of time and coverage on what really is a non-news story, amounting to nothing but the irresponsible bitching of a whiny teenager about his child's grandmother. Lets take a look at some of these excellent 'exclusives' that Johnston gives to Vanity Fair shall we??

My emphasis in bold and comments in red.

"There wasn’t much parenting in that house. Sarah doesn’t cook, Todd doesn’t cook—the kids would do it all themselves: cook, clean, do the laundry, and get ready for school. [Actually, this sounds like excellent parenting. If such a thing is true (they did EVERYTHING themselves?) then it proves not that the Palin's are lazy, but that they have brought their children up to be extremely independent. Levi is saying that the children, all under 18, are able to cook, clean, do their own laundry, and follow timetables. Not bad skills for young people to learn!]

Most of the time Bristol would help her youngest sister with her homework,[Surely this is a good thing, and shows a strong relationship between the siblings.]and I’d barbecue chicken or steak on the grill...[Oh my God Levi, you actually had to cook for the mother of your child!?! Such horrors! Siblings assisting each other with homework? Adult members of the family cooking for one another? Quick, someone call child services!]

Sarah told me she had a great idea: we would keep it a secret—nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant.[Considering Palin was lambasted by the liberal media for supposedly using her daughter as a political tool (and hence that's why it was 'ok' for comedians like Letterman to make jokes about Bristol, but not about Obama's kids), this seems a little rich. Also, wanting to shield your daughter and future grandchild away from the media spotlight sounds like responsible parenting to me!].....I think Sarah wanted to make Bristol look good, and she didn’t want people to know that her 17-year-old daughter was going to have a kid.[Yeah, why would she be wary of letting the media know that her daughter was having a kid? Looking at it a year on in light of the Letterman rape jokes, as well as the countless cheap gags made at Bristol's expense in the media, Palin's instinct to shield her daughter from that sounds bang on!]

Sarah was sad for a while[after the election].[A VP candidate was a bit down after losing an way! Remember, this is the preview from Vanity Fair I'm using. I wonder if ALL the article will be this thrilling!] She walked around the house pouting. [SUCH insight! Next week in Vanity Fair "Obama smiled after he won the election"] I had assumed she was going to go back to her job as governor,[which she did...] but a week or two after she got back she started talking about how nice it would be to quit and write a book or do a show and make “triple the money.” It was, to her, “not as hard.”[I don't think I know anyone who in a time of stress at work hasn't gone 'Wow, I should just quit and do x.' Again, how is this news? Palin continued getting beaten about by false lawsuits as governor, surely one would expect her to go 'Is this worth it? Should I do something else for less stress and more money] She would blatantly say, “I want to just take this money and quit being governor.” She started to say it frequently, but she didn’t know how to do it. When she came home from work, it seemed like she was more and more stressed out. [So, the woman who has gone from a little known governor, to an international celebrity, and pretty much the only serious candidate for leadership that the Republicans have, became 'more and more stressed out?' How dare she!]

How this counts as a serious scoop is beyond me. The news here isn't what Vanity Fair have found, which shows pretty much what you would expect in a family facing intense media speculation and an unexpected pregnancy, but why they have chosen to make a big deal of it. Again, it goes back to the left's determination to throw as much crap at Palin as they can, in the hope that some of it will stick. However, while it worked to an extent in the election, I think as more and more people hear Palin speak and read what she writes, and see this increasingly desperate smear campaign by the left for what it is, then Palin's standing will only increase. It has been show than she is a threat to the Obama adminstration now, imagine what she could become by 2012!