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Quote Of The Day.

Sunday, June 30, 2002

The Literarium.

“I used to really despise Protestant, fundie Christians. Seriously. I just about hated them, because they were narrow-minded bigots and repressive killjoys.”

If you want to know why I felt that way, and how I stopped thinking that way, read the Literarium post Hollywood Part II, starting at the 3rd paragraph. I am reading a Michael Medved book, and it is making me confront some of the prejudices that I used to embrace. Ever look into your soul and shudder?

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, June 30, 2002 | link

Ars Derbica.

In the epic saga of Derb, our hero apologizes to Alaska, ponders bookish presidents, and trashes Journo-droids. He also tells the tale of the intelligent, sincere Nazi mathematician. Yes, an intelligent Nazi, acting out of heart-felt conviction. Remember that the next time someone says that a Bin Laden or an Arafat must have legitimate grievances because he’s so sincere. People can be quite sincere about evil things.

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, June 30, 2002 | link

The Journalist Class.

This cover article from the Spectator delves into the new social status of British journalists. There has been an increased level of tension between politicians and journalists there and the author is ascribing the tension to class warfare. Where the politicians were once high class and the journalists low class, the opposite is now true. The new high class journalists look down upon the politicians and this attitude is reflected in their work. Also, the more educated journalists of today are spending more time writing their opinions than providing the facts of a story. The effects of this on the British political environment are very interesting.

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, June 30, 2002 | link

Witness.

There’s a new biography out on Victor Serge, a Russian dissident. He was once a committed Bolshevik, but turned against the Commies when the reality of their rule became clear. He is now an extremely obscure figure. Yet his ability to bring forth the destructive malignancy of Stalin and the Soviet system should not be forgotten:

“Even today, we in the West, far from the ex-Communist lands, know little of the texture of Stalinism's evil, the devastating effect on human beings of a system of naked power with no accountability and no institutions from which to obtain even a modicum of justice. We know that millions were killed in the Gulag, that the voices of poets were stifled at the same time that vast numbers of ordinary peasants were deliberately starved to death. Many Western intellectuals wish us to forget these details. That is, perhaps, the real reason Victor Serge has slipped away, and we have forgotten his powerful accounting of that immense system of atrocities and the lives of its victims--as well as of the hope and conscience of the old revolutionary movements, which died with them. That Serge escaped to tell the tale, like Ishmael in the waters of the ocean after the shipwreck in ‘Moby-Dick,’ was a miracle.”

Witnesses to evil should never be stifled and this new biography gives voice to an eloquent, though forgotten, man.

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, June 30, 2002 | link

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Saturday, June 29, 2002

Sowell Patrol.

Thomas Sowell is back and blasting away at judicial tyranny. The Pledge decision has brought Constitutional law and the “separation of church and state” back into the news. The issue of political judges arrogating the privileges of the legislature is also back. Sowell saith:

“Since the people who wrote the Constitution of the United States were Englishmen, they knew exactly what they meant when they said that they wanted no establishment of religion in the United States. Wise men wrote the Constitution, but clever judges have been destroying it, bit by bit, turning it into an instrument of arbitrary judicial power, instead of a limitation on all government power.”

Judicial overreach is a big problem in a nation allegedly ruled by the people through the legislature. This kind of judicial dictatorship essentially negates the right of the people to rule themselves democratically. By allowing judges to twist the law to enforce their own private opinions is to debase the very idea of law.

One other point, the judge who authored the Pledge decision is married to the head of the local ACLU. How is that not a conflict of interest? He should have recused himself.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 29, 2002 | link

La Paglia Attacks!

Well, she writes an intelligent article anyway. Of course, Camille Paglia always writes good articles. Her latest is in Frontpage and deals with the decline of the humanities in the universities. She accurately slams the petty politics, price gouging, and feel-good pap that passes for higher education these days. From overpaid administrators more concerned with PR than PhDs to faculty pushing PC clichés to mollify their self-esteem addicted students, La Paglia diagnoses the problems and offers a way to solve them.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 29, 2002 | link

The Literarium.

There are a couple more entries in the Literarium. Food, Sumerians, Mark Fuhrman, who could ask for anything more? I appear to be on a brain candy binge.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 29, 2002 | link

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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Jed Babbin Rules.

Want to know how to protect America from the next 9/11? Jed Babbin gives 10 ways to do it. They range from hiring Sephardic Jews (i.e. Arab Jews) to translate Arabic intelligence information to citizen’s volunteer border patrols. Check out number 8:

“Fire Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, and arm the airline pilots. Would you rather have your pilot able to shoot a terrorist, or have an F-16 fire a Sidewinder up your tailpipe when the pilot is dead, and some guy wearing a black turban is trying to fly the plane into the White House?”

This is both practical and effective. Most pilots are ex-military anyway. Let them carry. The most important, and most disturbing, thing to do is number 5:

Since 1996, Mexican soldiers and police have illegally crossed into the U.S. about 120 times, escorting drug smugglers and illegal aliens into the U.S. How many terrorists and how much weaponry is among them? They have fired on Border Patrol cars approaching them. We should tell Vicente Fox that any Mexican Army or police who cross the border without our written permission will be fired on. No warning shots; all center of mass. The President needs to stop fishing for votes in the Rio Grande.”

OK, this seems to be saying that Mexico has been sending military excursions into the US and has been attacking American government agents. 100 years ago, this would have resulted in a war. We need to secure the border from Mexican government sponsored smugglers. If we don’t deploy the army, I have no objections to landmines. OK, I have a few, but I’m willing to overcome them.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 | link

Sowell Patrol.

Tonight’s Sowell Train rides into the difficult territory of tough choices, specifically the choice of interning possibly dangerous aliens. Is internment a legitimate option and if so when? Says Sowell:

“I take it as axiomatic that the right to survive trumps every other right, since none of your rights means anything if you do not survive. I also take it as axiomatic that process costs are not always negligible, and are particularly likely to be very high in a war for survival.”

What happens when a society’s right for survival comes into conflict with other rights?

“Regardless of what principles we believe in, we can only make our choices among alternatives actually available. Pretending that there are other options available, in order that we can apply the principles we usually apply, is a dangerous self-indulgence.”

I don’t like the idea of internment, neither do I support it, but the question is vital now that we are in a war where some members of an American minority group have shown themselves to be more loyal to Islamism than to America or freedom. This is an important issue, though an ugly one.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 | link

Good Work Spook!

Undercover FBI agents arrested a man wanted for 5 murders in Kansas City. One of the victims was his girlfriend’s sister, who was 7 months pregnant. This is a very inadequate summary of the arrest, but the evening news was more detailed. I thought I’d mention this for 2 reasons. One, I like it when bad guys get busted. Two, the FBI has been getting slammed recently and I thought it ought to be pointed out that their field agents are doing a pretty good job.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 | link

The Words of the Profits . . .

Here’s Walter Williams explaining why profits are not only good, but essential to a functioning economy. Profits are just the wages of entrepreneurs. No profits = no entrepreneurs. No entrepreneurs – no business. No business = poverty. Poverty = Democratic voters. Obviously, profits are good.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 | link

Heil Hilliard!

Yippee!!! Earl “Heil” Hilliard lost! Now Artur Davis will be our new congressman. I know, I know, there’s still the real election, but I doubt the Libertarian is going to win. There is no Republican in the running, as the district is majority black and there would be no point.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 | link

Pledge Nonsense.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a patently stupid decision declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. I suppose it’s now obvious why the 9th Circuit Court is also the most overturned court in the nation. A militant atheist sued because, although she was allowed to opt out of the pledge due to her beliefs, the fact the others were expressing their beliefs somehow injured her. If the little zealot thought she was unpopular before, I wonder how she feels now. Actually she’s probably quite proud of her intolerance. On the bright side, this overreach by the courts should give Bush the edge he needs to force the Democrats to allow hearings on his judicial nominations. The public will certainly be expressing their displeasure to their congressmen.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 | link

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Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Ars Derbica.

Here Derb explores the wonderful world of the Racial Privacy Initiative (yeah!) and idiot voters (boo!). I support racial privacy because there is no reason for the government to collect racial data. Such statistics are too easily manipulated and race should no longer be an issue in government. There can be no equality until everyone succeeds or fails on their merits, not their melanin.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, June 25, 2002 | link

Bama Does it Again.

Earl “Heil” Hilliard is in the news again. Our Fine Alabama Congressman is in a runoff for his seat today and NRO (that’s big time, whoo-hee!) gives plenty of reasons why everyone around here hopes he loses. There’s his illegal use of tens of thousands of campaign dollars to enrich his family, and don’t forget his failure to pay taxes. He also is a big supporter of such noble nations as Libya, Syria, and Cuba. What a treasure. To top it off, CAIR is a big Hilliard supporter. “Heil” Hilliard has distinguished himself in this race by making false accusations of date rape against his opponent and by having his supporters distribute anti-Semitic fliers. Here’s hoping this waste of human life no longer plagues our Capital.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, June 25, 2002 | link

Hi Ho Slaverino!

There’s a new slave narrative/novel out there that is getting tons of press and a little scrutiny. It seems that one Hannah Crafts wrote a novel, The Bondwoman’s Narrative, about her enslavement and escape, if the manuscript is authentic. It seems to be old, but nobody can really verify the author. The manuscript was purchased and published by Henry Louis Gates. The controversy, what little there is, swirls around the race and servitude status of the author. The book itself appears to be a typical Nineteenth Century abolitionist novel. Gates seems to be under the impression that the novel would be “inauthentic” and thus “bad” if the author were not black. I guess the idea of the Creative Imagination has never occurred to him. Joe Bob Briggs, yes the one and only, does a good job of taking down this particular po-mo stupidity. He also does an incredible detective job on the author. Briggs logic, close reading, and sharp conclusions will astound you. I’d love to quote from it, but it is too tightly packaged. Go read it.

I am interested in this because I am very familiar with the slave narrative genre. I’ve read plenty of them; both authentic narratives and novels based on narratives. Some of them were written by blacks; others by whites. I used to work at UNC libraries digitizing slave narratives. You can check them out yourself at docsouth.unc.edu.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, June 25, 2002 | link

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Monday, June 24, 2002

Ars Derbica.

Today’s installment of the continuing adventures of Derb is a very good explanation of why a Palestinian state, as currently conceived, would be a stupidity of Fat Ted-ian proportions. He makes a good case on his historical and political terms. I personally object to a Palestinian state at present (maybe later though). My reasoning is thus:

If we grant the Palestinians a state, we are ensuring the destruction of the Palestinian people. Even if we ignore (and we shouldn’t) the fact that giving the Palestinians a state right now would be nothing more than a reward for terrorism, said state would almost immediately force its own destruction. Right now, genocide bombers are merely terrorists, just run of the mill bloodthirsty animals. The bombers are indoctrinated by the Palestinian Authority, recruited by organizations funded by the PA, and armed with explosives bought with PA money. Once the Palestinians get a full state, the next genocide bombing won’t be an act of terrorism, it will be an act of war. The next al-Ghoul won’t just be a terrorist, he’ll be an agent recruited, funded, and sent to kill by a foreign government.

Of course you know, that means war. The next bombing would be the act of one sovereign state attacking another sovereign state. Once the PA declares war in this manner, they can’t exactly complain when the people they have declared war against send in a dead-serious army. This time when the IDF takes Jenin, they won’t go house to house, taking huge casualties to avoid killing civilians; they will just carpet bomb the place. Instead of a couple dozen dead terrorists, there will be tens of thousands of dead soldiers and civilians. The Israelis won’t just take key cities or strategically target terror headquarters. They will take the entire West Bank and Gaza and be fully justified in targeting anything that moved. The international community couldn’t exactly denounce “Israeli aggression” when it will be the PA starting the war. The Palestinian population will be devastated. They won’t lose dozens, they’ll lose tens or even hundreds of thousands, either on the battlefield, in bombing raids, or because the civilians ran like hell for the border. Also, under international law, if one state attacks another and loses, the victor can keep whatever belligerent territory he’s conquered. Thus after losing huge numbers through death and flight, the Palestinians will have lost their state itself. No West Bank, no Gaza, no “Palestinians.” And it will be all the Palestinians’ own fault.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 24, 2002 | link

Quiet Peons!

Yup, the radical feminists are at it again. One of their older tools of oppression, CEDAW, is making the rounds again. CEDAW is short for the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Women. CEDAW exists to ensure that you aren’t oppressed by your own free choices. The international radical bureaucrats will do this by eliminating any free choice. Want to practice your religion? Well, only if your religion doesn’t say or believe anything banned by CEDAW. Want to raise your own children? CEDAW will save you from having that choice. Don’t believe marriage is akin to slavery? CEDAW will be happy to re-educate you. How will they do this? By getting nations to sign onto the treaty (no actual vote by the people will be allowed. The people just get in the way, with their “culture,” “rights,” and “freedom” nonsense) and then “reinterpreting" the already vague wording. Their interpretation will, of course, be enforced by the ICC, whose judges are appointed by the same unelected elitists who interpret CEDAW.

“One of the CEDAW committee's techniques is to use broad language, which is then tightened and given a radical interpretation after signatories have accepted it. CEDAW did not announce that women's ‘right to free choice of profession and employment’ would turn out to mean (as the committee now says) that prostitution must be decriminalized around the world. Similarly, CEDAW'S ban on ‘any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex’ seems to make legal approval of homosexual marriage mandatory. Some analysts think CEDAW'S ban on ‘orientation’ bias will make pedophile sex legal, since some people are ‘oriented’ toward children. Linguistic sinkholes are so common that Muslim women wanted assurance that the term ‘sexual slavery’ would not be defined later as including marriage.”

You know, the more the International Elite talk about rights, the fewer we end up having. These nuts are living so far in the past that they wouldn’t know reality if it walked up and spit in their lattes. The “oppression” that these mooks are railing against went the way of the dodo over 30 years ago. This entire treaty is based on the laughable, at best, assumption that traditional roles, religion, motherhood, and family are all evil, oppressive forces that are forced upon women. Today, women only assume traditional roles when they choose to. The CEDAW people have criticized Germany because about half of married women either don’t work or only work part time. So these idiots want to politically rebuke one of the most liberal, democratic, lefty countries on earth because women have freely chosen, after considering all their options, to stay home and raise their families? Nobody in Germany is forcing women out of the workplace, these women are exercising the very equal rights the CEDAW loons are allegedly demanding. Under CEDAW, you have the right to choose only if you choose what CEDAW has decided to allow you to.

CEDAW overrides the Constitution. Thus, you would have no right to say anything that could be interpreted as violating CEDAW. Celebrating the role of motherhood? Forbidden, just ask the Armenians. Don’t even think about advocating full-time motherhood as being what’s best for children. Of course, the fact that this stricture would make most religions illegal is just ducky with the CEDAWs. You no longer have rights, you have an ever shrinking number of privileges granted by unelected UN bureaucrats. If you want a full rundown on CEDAW, check out the Concerned Women for America site.

CEDAW is nothing but repressive social engineering. It is pushed by radical leftists who, being unable to induce people to voluntarily surrender their rights through the electoral process, have chosen to enforce their Stalinist utopia by means of UN imposed treaties.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 24, 2002 | link

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Sunday, June 23, 2002

Literarium Update.

Next at the Literarium: Dashiell Hammett gets his due plus the run down on two magazines. The short story collection The Big Knockover wins the white carnation, while Vogue and Traveler are neatly summarized for my convenience.

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, June 23, 2002 | link

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Saturday, June 22, 2002

Sowell Patrol.

Thomas Sowell, intellectual diety, takes on the Supreme Court and their recent Jehovah’s Pesterers decision. Sowell thinks that the Court’s focus on Free Speech rights made it forget the Constitution’s equal concern for private property rights.

“No part of the Constitution has been more corrupted by judges than the right of free speech. The obvious intent of this right was to prevent the government from silencing its critics or censoring the content of political discussions in general. But the past two generations of judges have stretched people's right to speak their mind to the point where it is a right to override other people's right to be left alone if they don't want to be pestered.”

Sowell also decries the Court’s suppression of the Constitution’s real function as a restraint on the power of the government.

“The pretense that these judicial self-indulgences are based on the Constitution has been dressed up in words about protecting the ‘values’ of the Constitution -- as distinguished from following its plain words and the meanings that those words had when they were written. Since the whole point of a constitution is to restrain what all branches of government -- including courts -- can do, escaping from its plain words in the name of ‘a living constitution’ turns it into a dying constitution that means whatever judges happen to like.”

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 22, 2002 | link

Invidia.

I got a great email on envy from a devoted reader. Well, he says he’s read the site once or twice, and around here, that’s devotion! He’s Robert Bove and he also wrote a pretty schnazzy article on envy within the academy. It’s well worth reading. Here’s just a sample:

“It’s quite a piece of work, this journal, reeking of anachronism not quite masked by the perfume of its smug tone. Its editors, to give them credit, have created a model repository for post-modernist triumphalism thinly disguised as academic analysis.”

If you want more, you know where to come.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 22, 2002 | link

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Friday, June 21, 2002

Literarium Update.

There are a few new posts at the Literarium. A couple of magazines and the book Dark Dreams by Roy Hazelwood, a former FBI profiler. I am reposting part of the Hazelwood post here because I'd like some Spinsterian feedback on it. Early in the book, Hazelwood details the Leonard Lake case and turns out a strong section on Augustine. Yes, St. Augustine. It seems that profile-boy was trying to analyze the psychology of crime at the same time he was setting forth on a personal self-improvement jag. He was trying to bone up on the classics of Western civilization and was reading the Confessions (hey, so am I!) while working the Lake case. He found a remarkable parallel between Augustine’s analysis of the mind’s justification of sin and his own developing conclusions about the justification created in the mind of the criminal.

“Augustine wrote that sin is the product of a five-step process. First, he said, the mind conceives of an action. It then considers the action as it relates to the senses -- will I gain pleasure from this? Next, the individual considers the possible consequences of the act. If he is willing to risk those outcomes, he decides to act on the thought. Finally, once the act has taken place, his mind rationalizes the behavior.

“As I read the passage in The Confessions, it occurred to me that if I replaced the word 'sin' with the word 'crime,' Saint Augustine might have been describing many of the sexual criminals I had been studying for more than twenty-five years. Even the language of Lake’s videotape echoed Augustine’s five-step process.”

He then creates a chart comparing Augustine’s description of sin with Lake’s descriptions of his intentions. Lake, by the by, was the California man who attempted to fill a personal slave harem by kidnapping and then murdering women. I will type in the chart below with Augustine in bold and Lake in bold/italics.

“The mind conceives of an action . . . ‘It’s something I fantasize about daily’

“ . . . which is referred to the senses. ‘Lake photographed and videotaped his victims.’

“The individual considers the possible consequences. ‘What I’m talking about is highly illegal and violates human rights, blah, blah, blah.’

“He decides to commit the sin. ‘It may not work, but I want to try.’ ”

“Then he rationalizes the act. ‘For anyone interested in my rationalization and justification for what I’m about to do . . .’

Now why I’m quoting this at such length is because this passage struck me very deeply and I’m trying to get a handle on why. I mean, I know why, but I can’t separate out why and really put it into words. Part of it is the depth of knowledge about human nature possessed by the Early Church Fathers and other ancient minds. It seems that Hazelwood spent 25 years reinventing the wheel, so to speak. Maybe part of the lessening of Hazelwood’s prior arrogance was the realization that much of what he was looking for was “already there.” Western Civ will do that to you. Another reason it strikes me is that it highlights the real presence of sin and the indivisability of intention and action. As for sin, we like to gloss over it, preferring to talk about “psychology” or “illness.” But it seems that all that talk about sin was more accurate than we thought. While not all sins are crimes, almost all crimes are sins. It would make sense, therefore, for criminologists to pay more attention to the wisdom about human nature contained in the writings of saints and theologians. They seem to be the people who were studying then what the criminologists are studying now.

As for the link between intention and action, oh how we love to deny its existence. We like to pretend that anything somebody does wrong is the result of sickness or mental illness. We like to pretend that wrongdoing is beyond our conscious control, especially if we ourselves are the wrongdoers. It’s never our fault, it’s a “sickness,” a “disorder,” anything to shift responsibility off ourselves. It’s always “the glass broke,” never “I broke the glass.” We need to be reminded that people do things because they intend to do them. Criminals intend to commit crime. Hazelwood points out that almost no sexual offenders are mentally ill. They are mentally competent, responsible people who like and choose to do evil things. People are responsible for their actions, even the bad or disturbing actions. Both Augustine and Hazelwood point out that evil deeds stem from intentions that are voluntarily carried out and then rationalized. They are not “accidental” or “beyond control.”

I am putting this on both Spinsters and Literarium because I would honestly like some feedback on this. What are your thoughts on the sin/crime, intention/action links? Am I the only one who is impressed with this passage?

posted by Lee Ann on Friday, June 21, 2002 | link

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Thursday, June 20, 2002

Green, Like Nature.

Green with envy that is. This is a great article from Reason that explores recent research that envy may be a big part of the human psyche. It seems that in experiments people would willingly cause themselves a lot of harm in order to cause a more successful person a little harm. While it comes as no surprise that envy is so widespread, I am a bit shocked that people indulge in it with so little guilt. There seems to be a big part of the human mind that refuses to accept that someone may have more than you without having “wronged” you. People prefer to believe that if someone is wealthier or more successful, that those people have “stolen” what they have in fact earned. That attitude is pretty malignant. Unfortunately it is also easy to harness into political power.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, June 20, 2002 | link

Not Only Mano . . .

There’s also this great story on manure tea. Apparently there is quite a market for the stuff. The maker even gets endorsements from state senators. This is a great news day for the Southern Promised Land, politics and, well, the results of politics.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, June 20, 2002 | link

We’s Big Time Now!

Did you see the tag on Special Report with Brit Hume today? They always end with something funny, and today the joke was on The One True State. Here are the details courtesy of the Birmingham News. Two Republicans in a primary run-off to stand for election for Secretary of State squared off on APT. One, challenger Dean Young, accused the other, current state Representative Dave Thomas, of being a liar and the Representative offered to “take it outside” and settle it “mano y mano.” Whoo-buddy! You got to be a man to run in this state. Not only that, but Young claimed Thomas only got elected because voters confused him with the founder of Wendy's. That why I don’t vote Democratic, they don’t have fun like this.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, June 20, 2002 | link

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Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Thank You Chuck!

There is a wonderful article in the Weekly Standard on Prince Charles and his architects. While many people have mocked old Charlie for his support of traditional architecture, it has now become apparent that not only was Charles right about the hideousness of modern architecture, but that his views are gaining ground. It’s no secret that I hate “modern” architecture. It is ugly, styleless, cheap-looking, and soul-destroying. Not only that, but “modern” architecture (and design) is extremely dated. Prince Charles was one of the few public figures willing to denounce the modernist emperor’s lack of clothes. He once famously remarked that at least the Luftwaffe left London with nothing uglier than rubble, the architects did the rest. Now it seems that traditional architecture is experiencing a resurgence. I hope it lasts. Modern skyscrapers look like nothing other than big glass coffins.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 19, 2002 | link

Great Minds?

Well, while both Paul Hollander and I used the term “banality of evil” in our arguments, we used it to convey different meanings. I used it as a way of expressing how blasé we have become to slaughter, while he uses it to debunk the mindset behind the phrase, which is based on Hannah Arendt’s works on the Nazis. Arendt’s “banality of evil” is how she believed the world’s most evil atrocities could be carried out by such seemingly normal people. The Holocaust, embodied by Eichmann, was not carried out by passionate fanatics, but by dispassionate, bureaucratic, just-like-you-and-me cogs in a social machine. Thus “Anybody could have performed the task; no political passion or ideological conviction was involved or required. It was implied that this type of violence was emblematic of modernity and mass society and their key characteristics: anonymity, standardization, homogenization, impersonality as well as increasing specialization and reliance on technology.” According to Hollander, this belief, embraced by the intelligentsia, severed the links between belief and behavior in the popular psyche.

Hollander believes that the violent explosion of Islamic terrorism of recent years effectively debunks the Arendtian ideas that have ruled the public debate on terrorism and evil. I think he makes a great case. Where other terror groups manage to hide their evil intents behind fancy political doctrines, the Islamists present the world with a clear, honest motive of violence motivated by hatred. FARC, for example, justifies its bloody rampages with a lot of blather about Marx, liberation, and a host of other trendy Third Worldist rhetoric which is greatly romantic to First World intellectuals far removed from the bloodshed. The Islamists, however, present no such illusions. They hate anything that is not “real Islam.” They want to destroy anything that is not “real Islam.” They, of course, decide what is “real Islam.” Thus,

“The recent waves of political violence committed by Islamic groups and individuals have dealt a heavy blow to the theories and ideas Arendt popularized. A greatly neglected factor of political conflict and violence suddenly and dramatically reemerged, namely, fanatical hatred and the religious-political beliefs generating it. It was these beliefs that legitimated the ruthless violence the hatred inspired. Rarely in history has the relationship between belief and behavior been so clear as in the actions of the Islamic suicide pilots and bombers fortified and reassured as they had been by conceptions and personifications of evil defined with great clarity and held unhesitatingly. There was nothing banal, impersonal, dispassionate or detached about their behavior.”

This presents a problem for those who prefer not to confront the fact that people often believe very strongly in evil. There is in man the very strong desire to deny the reality of evil. It is much more comforting to think that if someone is so passionate about his cause that he is willing to kill, then there must be some truth in his cause. It makes us think that we have some control over the violence, that if we just fix what’s “wrong” the killing will stop. But what happens if the “grievances” of the fanatic have no justification? What if his problems are self-induced and his cause merely an attempt to shift blame for his failures onto others?

“Whatever the ingredients or sources of such hatred--material deprivation, lack of education, frustration, resentment, sense of inferiority, the scapegoating impulse -- it has become the dominant force fuelling political conflict and violence. Its ‘root cause’ is not poverty but relative deprivation or frustrated expectations and the overpowering but comforting belief that others are responsible for one's misfortune.”

What if his acts are motivated by an irrational hatred? I believe that Hollander is right in asserting that we have allowed the comforting idea of “banality of evil” to cloud our view of terror societies. The idea that evil is something we could all do and do without malice is strangely comforting. It makes evil seem as if it isn’t really so bad. It’s just human nature, you see. Not even really evil. Just a maladapted instinct. It sort of negates Evil and replaces it with a need for psychotherapy. That “therapeutic” view of evil fails when confronted with the passionate fanatic who hates you and wants to kill you.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 19, 2002 | link

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Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The Banality of Evil.

Well, the monotony of evil anyway. I realize that this post may destroy the fragile Moratorium on Israel/Palestine, but it is worth it. It is worth it for two reasons: one, the reporting from Reuters is a perfect example of bias and, second, the bomber himself manages to perfectly encapsulate the whole “homicide bomber” culture. Yes, another bombing. The Palestinians are back to bravely slaughtering unarmed civilians, this time those fearsome schoolchildren and vicious office workers. 19 are dead and 34 or so wounded.

First, media bias. Check out this sentence: “It was the deadliest bombing since a suicide attack killed 29 people at a seaside hotel on March 27, . . ." You remember the seaside hotel, right? You don’t? Sure you do, it’s just that everyone else calls it the Seder (or Passover) Massacre. That’s right, Reuters just kinda omits the whole point of the massacre. The victims in Netanya were targeted because they were celebrating a Passover Seder, one of the central rituals of Judaism. The murderer targeted the Seder in order to symbolically destroy Judaism itself, one of the stated goals of the Palestinian terror groups. Saying the bombing was nothing more than “at a seaside hotel” covers up the significance of the atrocity. The Passover Seder touches the very essence of what it means to be Jewish. That is why the Seder was targeted, to attack Judaism itself. It was after this bombing that people have started referring to the bombers as “genocide bombers.” Even in an amoral, journalistic sense, the fact that the bombing happened at a Seder is central to the story. The sentence above is an example of bad, biased journalism.

Second, the homicide bomber himself. Now stay with me Gena, this one’s worth it. You can go on all day about the kind of culture that sends out homicide bombers. You can ruminate on the kind of culture that deliberately targets women and children for death. You can marvel that any culture would wire their own children with explosives and send them out to kill. But nothing you come up with can explain it as well as this latest monster’s name says it. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up:

Mohammed al-Ghoul

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 | link

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Monday, June 17, 2002

Vintage Blass.

I wrote earlier to commemorate the passing of the great American designer, Bill Blass. I made mention of his service in WWII, but did not elaborate. That was because I really didn’t know much about his service. He apparently didn’t discuss it much. However, the ever vigilant Occam has written to enlighten me on Blass’s record:

“Bill Blass was in fact not just a soldier. He was part of a unique unit called the ‘Ghost Army’, made up of dress designers, radio actors, stagehands, carpenters, magicians, and a small contingent of actual soldiers to protect the others.

“The Ghost Army's job was to create illusions. With canvas, plywood, and fake radio transmissions, they could make it seem that a certain division was in Marseilles and moving north, while the real division was in Africa somewhere. They could create a convincing industrial district or harbor 5 miles away from the actual one, so that the Germans would bomb an open field. Their activities were completely secret until 1998 when Clinton declassified the info. None of those unlikely soldiers ever talked or published anything. (A very readable book on the subject was published just after the declassification.)

“One more thing, in case you want the reference: the book is ‘Ghost Army’, author Jack Kneece. Amazon has it.”

I am very happy to know this. Recently, there have been a lot of documentaries on the D-Day invasions and the subterfuges used to keep the plans a secret. Yet none of the programs elaborated much on the units who did the subterfuging. Thanks Occam. Now put down the razor.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 17, 2002 | link

Jehovah’s Pesterers.

The Supreme Court ruled that religious groups and other wackos have a Constitutional right to bang on your door and annoy you. I suppose they are right, considering that “Free Exercise” clause. Be warned however, my right to keep and bear arms is also protected. So be sure to consider the whole Constitution before knocking on my door.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 17, 2002 | link

Yet Another Reason to Shop Lowe’s.

I have come back and deleted the post that used to be here for the simple reason that I was wrong. Home Depot has stopped doing business with the government, but for very good reasons. According to the Notorious G.U.P. the government is a perfect rat-fink of a business partner. They insist that anything they buy from you has to be at the lowest price you have ever sold it for, and if they find that you have ever sold it for less (even for innocent reasons, like production improvements lowering costs) they will come back, demand a rebate and investigate/ fine you. It's not worth the hassles. Serves me right. I ought to know by now that when government and business clash, government is usually wrong.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 17, 2002 | link

Watergate, Schmatergate.

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the Watergate break-in and quite frankly, my dear Gena, I don’t give a damn. Yes, it was a good old-fashioned investigation and exposure of government abuse of power, but this self-adulation sweeping the media is a bit much. They still can’t agree on what Watergate was about, though most agree Nixon’s cronies were after dirt on political enemies. The Watergate investigation itself isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of our media.

First, Watergate makes it clear that the media was a johnny-come-lately to the whole “government watchdog” business. It has since become clear that Nixon did nothing that JFK or LBJ (or many other presidents) hadn’t done before him. Where the heck was the media during the previous administrations? Covering up for presidential abuse of power, that’s where. How come the FBI and CIA suddenly needed changes under Nixon, but it was a-OK for the feds to persecute the political enemies of JFK? Watergate simply proved that the media hadn’t been doing its job.

Second, the government reforms initiated to counteract the abuses of the FBI, CIA, et al, were pretty superficial at best, and destructive to our national security at worst. The 9/11 attack showed how pointless those “reforms” were. The FBI and CIA have been criticized for not communicating and sharing vital information pre-9/11. Well, the post-Watergate reforms greatly hindered their ability to do just that. Also, post-Watergate, the FBI was banned from going to public places to gather information without evidence of wrongdoing. So the FBI had to do an investigation to gather enough evidence to support a warrant to do the investigation in the first place. Also, the loony-roast at Waco doesn’t exactly bespeak an agency that has had its abuses curtailed. I do want to emphasize that major reforms were needed in the federal government after Watergate, but the ones that happened were not the ones needed.

Third, the media has become the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Since Watergate, the media has specialized in Gotcha journalism, not serious investigations. They try to build every story into a Watergate. They don’t want to do the intensive footwork that the Watergate investigation required, but they want the big pay-off. So they rely on “confidential sources” who basically feed them spin. They search desperately for corruption even where it is painfully obvious that no corruption is present. What this ends up doing is eroding public trust in the media. Also, when the media do find a big story, the public figures they’re scandal-mongering again and the story gets ignored. Too much Fluff-gate destroys one’s credibility.

One last thing, the most interesting thing about Watergate was how pointless it was. Why did Nixon have to have people break in anywhere? If he wanted the dirt on the opposition, why didn’t he just get their raw FBI files? He’d have gotten what he wanted and never had any problems. Just ask Hillary! Can we say Filegate? That’s another thing, after the Clintons, Watergate seems pretty tame.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 17, 2002 | link

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Friday, June 14, 2002

Remain Calm!

Attention Mississippi: We are not invading. Repeat, Alabama is not invading. Remain Calm.

That big military caravan heading ‘Sippi way is not an invasionary force, they are merely headed for training camp. Thus the Delta Entente needn’t bother surrendering to the Axis of Weevil. We aren’t out to conquer you. Yet.

posted by Lee Ann on Friday, June 14, 2002 | link

Waffen PC.

I wish I had invented the term “Waffen PC” but I didn’t. Despite its lack of origin in myself, it perfectly encapsulates the censorious mindset that revealed itself in the NY Regents Exam. Any phrase that might possibly cause distress to any hypothetical student was bowlderized. You remember bowlderizing right? It was where the Victorians took out all the naughty words from books. It was born of the same squeamishness that had them put bloomers on piano legs and eat bosom of chicken. Well, the intellectual heirs of those much-maligned prudes are the liberals of the Waffen PC.

Well, the Regents Exam flap brought out the usual suspects. The literary community was frothing at the mouth over the horrors of censorship. I’m sure they think of themselves as quite brave, but they are about as courageous as the fireman who shows up after the fire is out. Where were these johnny-come-latelies during the great cultural battles that have been fought against the Waffen PC for almost 20 years? Ask Daniel Henninger:

“I know where you were. You were holding the door open for them.”

That’s right. Our fierce defenders of Free Expression were nowhere to be found when us benighted conservatives were protesting the evisceration of our cultural heritage in the name of PC. Our language and libraries were gutted in the name of sensitivity, while those fools (like Lynne Cheney) who dared to stand up for cultural excellence, intellectual rigor, and free expression were denounced as insensitive troglodytes. Why are these Literary Defenders attacking the Board of Regents now? As for the Regents Exam people,

“They weren't the ones who created the arguments that led to the banning of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ from high-school reading lists and libraries across America, making Mark Twain a literary nonperson for generations hence. They weren't the ones who ordered their employees to attend mandatory corporate counseling sessions on offensive office speech. They weren't the editors who agreed that their newspapers would henceforth write about ‘people of color’ because some people demanded it. And they weren't the ones who hauled college professors before administrative kangaroo courts because some 19-year-old objected to the content of the teacher's class. The New York education bureaucrats learned cultural cleansing from their betters--as did the religious fundamentalists who divined the new rules and started seeing witches and pagans in textbooks.”

In fact the mentality that gave rise to the Regents’ bowlderizing of literature is the same one that has infected much of modern life. Our national discourse and entire cultural lives are at the mercy of the most sensitive, spineless, self-righteous, chip-on the shoulder milquetoasts among us. This is not a good way to live.

“The Regents' goofy censorship is such a flyspeck compared to the larger ruin this movement has brought. Substituting ‘thin’ for ‘skinny’ and ‘heavy’ for ‘fat’ is merely the work of people whose minds work like almost everyone else's now; we all carry in our heads an informal list of imagined verbal offenses. They don't want teen testers to feel uncomfortable; we don't want our dinner partners to feel uncomfortable. We don't need censors; we do it to ourselves. Welcome to the East Germany of the soul.”

posted by Lee Ann on Friday, June 14, 2002 | link

Squashed Beatles.

I don’t like the Beatles. The only time in my life when I did was in seventh grade and even then I only liked them for about 2 months and only because everyone else did. I don’t hate them any more, though I used to. I just think their music if fluffy, self-important, and not really all that good. Crooners sang better, country artists played better, and even the Monkees were more fun. Beatlemania always seemed so self-conscious and constructed. The Beatles are boring. I am glad to find out that I am not the only one who feels this way. Here’s Greg Crosby explaining why he doesn’t like them either.

posted by Lee Ann on Friday, June 14, 2002 | link

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Thursday, June 13, 2002

Bill Blass, R.I.P.

Bill Blass, one of America’s greatest fashion designers, has died at 79. The report lists cancer as the cause of death. Actually, there is some confusion as the write-up contains this gem of a sentence:

“The cause of death was attributed to Helen O'Hagan, a friend of the designer's.”

Remember the name and avoid her at all costs. Obit fun aside, Blass was the creator of the distinctive American “sportswear” style. He succeeded in breaking the monopoly of French houses over the world of couture. He brought American design to the forefront of fashion. He proved that American designs had the artistry and excellence needed to dominate the world fashion stage. Blass was also a WWII veteran who fought at the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine, which is not something you'd expect from a fashion designer.

posted by Lee Ann on Thursday, June 13, 2002 | link

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Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Check Him Out!!!

Veteran Spinsterian Alex Whitlock has a blog! His blog is good! Today’s RAW Musings post on “Choose Life” license plates is especially good, as are a series of posts on the multiparty system. He also expands upon my Father’s Rights post by elaborating more on the rights of fathers during adoptions. All in all, a blog well worth bookmarking.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 | link

Sowell Patrol.

Here Thomas Sowell, Intellectual Diety, takes on the troublesome issue of how to try terrorists, the ultimate in non-national criminals, under a national law. Thus:

“Neither the criminal law nor the rules of the Geneva Convention are suited to terrorism. International terrorism is an act of war without a formal declaration of war by the sovereign nation that is sponsoring the terrorists. Terrorism is not simply a domestic crime, even when it occurs within our borders. Nor are the terrorists soldiers, as defined in the Geneva Convention.”

Are terrorists, who operate outside the laws of war (and thus the Geneva Conventions), entitled to the full rights accorded American citizens? Is an open court too dangerous a place for a terror trial?

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 | link

Good Idea!

If we have special dispensation to strip Nazi war criminals of their American citizenship and deport them, why can’t we do the same with terrorists? As we are now finding out that Al Qaeda has successfully recruited Americans into their web of evil, why shouldn’t we deprive them of the American passports they prize? Al Qaeda sought American passports to facilitate their crimes. American Al Qaeda are counting on being able to use the rights and freedoms of American citizenship to get them off the hook for their service to evil. Make losing that coveted citizenship part and parcel of joining Al Qaeda, or any other known terror group for that matter. Thanks to Michelle Malkin for coming up with this brilliant idea.

posted by Lee Ann on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 | link

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Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Ars Derbica.

This installment of the continuing adventures of Derb revolves around guilt and the force of will necessary to sustain democracy. Don’t let that description turn you off the article, it’s really good.

posted by Lee Ann on Tuesday, June 11, 2002 | link

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Monday, June 10, 2002

Father’s Rights Now.

As Father’s Day approaches, it is high time to address the issue of Father’s Rights and the unconscionable bias displayed by our family court system. The family courts in this country are operating with a mentality that combines the worst of 1950’s stereotypes with the worst of manhating feminism. Wendy McElroy has a good article on Father’s Rights and what to do about them. Here are the reforms she wants:

“Joint custody of children upon divorce with sole custody being awarded only with a compelling reason.

“Child support orders based upon the actual cost of raising a child, with the custodial parent being accountable for how the support is spent.

“Vigorous enforcement of visitation rights.

“No support orders against those proven not to be the biological father.

“The option for an unmarried father to raise his child if the unmarried mother chooses to put it up for adoption.”

These items are so obvious and common-sensical that you wonder why this stuff isn’t required by law anyway. Fathers with joint custody see their children more often (mother’s can’t screw around with visitation), feel more connected to their kids, and pay their support more regularly. Most “deadbeat dads” do pay some child support, but don’t have the money to pay the full amount, which is almost never adjusted if the father’s income decreases due to lay-offs and such. My sister has to deal with her husband’s ex’s “visitation games,” as well as the ex’s refusal to spend the child support money on the children. The Ex has designer clothes, while the children wear rags and have head lice. According to the courts, there’s nothing my brother-in-law can do but pay up and watch his children be neglected.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 10, 2002 | link

Ding Dong the Don is Dead.

This is shaping up to be a morbid day. The Dapper Don, John Gotti, has died in prison. I won’t even pretend to be upset. Sure I feel bad for his family, who are certainly grieving, but I feel worse for the families of those he brutalized in his career. I despise mobsters and gangsters of all kinds. I don’t see why I’m supposed to sympathize with them. I can’t even watch the Godfather. First, the movie is boring, but mostly I am completely uninterested in the thugs, murderers, thieves, rapists, and general all around animals portrayed in the movie. I don’t want to watch a murderer and his slimy family. Not unless there’s a scene at the end where the FBI and the police break down the door, guns a-blazing, and haul the whole lot of them off to prison, where they can die like Gotti did.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 10, 2002 | link

Attack of the Killer Eighties!

Blast from the past here folks. The guitarist from Ratt has died of AIDS. The fact that I remember Ratt is a wonder in and of itself. They were one of the pioneering hair-bands. Lord knows what we’ll do if somebody from Winger kicks off. I don’t mean to be flippant over this poor man’s death, but this brings back so many tacky memories.

posted by Lee Ann on Monday, June 10, 2002 | link

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Sunday, June 09, 2002

Now Here's an Excellent Blog

One I shall read often. Somebody needs to be watching the Cant, and it turns out somebody is (click here).


posted by Gena on Sunday, June 09, 2002 | link

The String Bikini

There was an interesting discussion yesterday about a post by Steven den Beste on girls in string bikinis. Eric Olsen of Tres Producers - who incidentally wrote an insightful response to my American Times post - jumped on den Beste, Instapunditjumped on Eric, and here I am arriving late to the party as usual, just in time to see the last guests filing through the door. On the other hand, both Instapundit and Eric said things which I think need responding to, so here goes.

First up, Instapundit:

I usually agree with Glenn's opinions on sex, and I agree with most of the things he says here, which is why I really have to say: Dude, what is up with this????

Which goes to the other part: men are genetically programmed to find young women appealing, just as women are genetically programmed to like men of higher status. It's perfectly natural for men to feel that way. It may or may not lead to successful relationships, but hell, most relationships are unsuccessful. I find women in their teens and early 20s to be (usually) rather immature for my taste; I felt that way when I was in my teens and early 20s myself, and my opinion hasn't changed with age.

So men are genetically programmed to find young women appealing, but these same young women don't appeal to Instapundit. Is it that Instapundit doesn't fit into the category men? If so then the statement about Instapundit's preference is wholly irrelevant to the statement about older men liking younger women. Or is it that only some people who fall into the category men also fall into the category liking younger women. If that's the case then the claim is contentless and doesn't support anything. I, for instance, have a thing for guys with glasses. Almost all the guys I've liked/ gone out with have worn glasses. I may well be genetically
programed to like guys with glasses. If so, then some women are genetically programmed to like guys with glasses, which doesn't amount to a whole hell of a lot, since, guess what, some women hate guys with glasses.

Maybe I'm missing something, but to me all this shows is that whether they get their preferences from genes, God, or life itself, people are individuals, and it is therefore impossible to lump all men or women together into one set of attitudes or preferences. I think Glenn is basically in agreement with that point, which is why it really beats the heck out of me why he thought he had to bring in biological determinism. Or maybe the biological determinism was simply to show that the liking of older men for younger women is entirely natural, and that there is, thus, nothing wrong with it. If so, then double ouch.

Ouch 1. Your hemlock might be entirely organic, but if you brew it up into tea and drink it, bad things will happen. This is why the equation natural=good is a fallacy.

And

Ouch 2. Some people might be genetically programmed to be serial killers. It might therefore be "natural" for them to be serial killers, but to me, at least, this does not make serial killers good, or make serial killing any less wrong.

None of this is to say that I think guys looking at girls in string bikinis is wrong. Which leads me to Eric Olsen:

Eric makes some good points, but this one is just flat out dumb:

Which brings up the next point: women are people. Everyone wants to be thought attractive; there is nothing wrong with responding to another person's attractiveness, but it is degrading in both directions to interact with real people only on this level. "Girlwatching," like the entire spectrum of pornography, drains the humanity from all involved. It's a second-person activity, one which precludes any actual interaction.

The point is dumb because it ignores the fact that there are different kinds of interaction. Not every type of interaction has to be personal to be satisfying. If you're reading this weblog, you're interacting with me, and I with you, but neither of us is interacting personally with the other. If you read a book, you're interacting with the author, who may well be dead, and with whom you will never have the possibility of "actual interaction." Listen to Beethoven's 9th, and you're certainly interacting with a dead guy. In fact, I would wager that a significant part of your life is spent interacting with people with whom you have no contact and certainly no personal relationship. If the only meaningful interaction is one which involves "actual interaction," then you can give up your Kant, your Beethoven, and your Spinsters.com. Maybe I'm just weird, but I don't think reading books, listening to music, or looking at girls in skimpy swim wear are any of them life draining activities, nor do I find them meaningless. I'm writing this so that you'll read it. If you do read it, then that's my pay off for writing it. If you enjoy it, then that's your pay off for reading it. And although I've never worn one, I'd imagine it's the same with string bikinis.

I have to admit that I don't consider my ass my best feature, and thus have never felt the need to prominently display it to the world. On the other hand, if I were to wear a string bikini, it would be because I was proud of my ass, thought it looked good and desirable, and wanted to show it off to other people. It would give me pleasure, if men found it and consequently me, attractive and, yes, sexually desirable. There is pleasure to be found in one's body and its beauty. Like any other compliment, praise of one's physical appearance is gratifying. And this isn't selfish or egotistical, because the pleasure others give you in their admiration is recompensed in the pleasure you give them.

Towards the end of my stay in Germany a friend of mine was going to Croatia for a vacation. She had been assured by the girl who invited her that every Croatian man was a ten, and that all the beautiful guys would be sunning themselves on the beach, tanned, oiled, and scantily clad. I could not have been more jealous. I wouldn't have wanted to sleep my way around that beach, and she didn't either. It was just the prospect of the view that was entrancing.

I would imagine it is the same with men and string bikinis. The pleasure afforded a man by a string bikini is both aesthetic and erotic. It's the pleasure of seeing, the pleasure of apprehending beauty, and of the desire awakened by that beauty. Granted you need relationships with people too, and if your entire sex life involves looking at scantily clad women, then you should honestly consider the personal ads. Yet, there is pleasure too in looking, just as there is pleasure in being looked at. Neither of these pleasures is inferior or degrading because it involves no actual contact or relationship. Like so many of the things which make life meaningful and joyous, both are a silent exchange of value, which does not lose its importance by the fact that it is silent.


posted by Gena on Sunday, June 09, 2002 | link

Al Queda on the Web?

According to the Spiegel, bin Laden's spokesman, Abu Gaith, turned up on this website, threatening more attacks on the US - this time with chemical and biological weapons. Why? Because al Queda has the right to kill four million Americans, including one million children, due to the actions of America in among other places Bosnia.

Excuse me. Bosnia???? I don't believe in killing people, but if the penalty for outright blatant stupidity were death, Mr. Abu Gaith would already be in the ground. The whole thing is a stupid argument, but saying that al Queda has the right to kill Americans, because Americans committed the crime of saving Muslims, really just blows my mind. I suggest everyone go over to www.alneda.org and post really, really nasty things on their board. At least on the internet you have the power of instant response.


posted by Gena on Sunday, June 09, 2002 | link

The Bible and Theory.

Gena, the FACT is that you interpreted the Bible wrong. Most of your points were contradicted in the text itself, while others were self-contradictory. While Atheism is no barrier to reading or understanding the Bible, it can make it more difficult as Atheists are more likely to misunderstand the terms used or not know the full context of the text. Genesis is one of the most quoted and misquoted books of the Bible and you should have read over the Creation story before theorizing upon it. I don’t keep a Bible handy either, but most of your assertions are contradicted by well-known stories, chapters, and traditions. You forget that the Bible is the original hypertext. By the way, theory often distorts what a text says. A theorizer with an agenda picks and chooses amongst the available evidence to find only things that support his theory, and if no support is in the text, well, the text can be distorted until it says what the theorizer wants. You went to grad school; you should have picked that up by now.

posted by Lee Ann on Sunday, June 09, 2002 | link

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Saturday, June 08, 2002

The One Advantage of Having A Lot To Say

Is that you're always perfectly willing to say it all again. Fundamentally laconic/ lazy people like yours truly, however, tend to avoid overly long responses to things bearing the title "Introduction" in the hopes that their objections will be answered later on in the actual argument. That and they see no reason to say the same things twice; so if the objections aren't answered in the argument itself, they - the lazy people - will only have to raise them once. Fortunately, however, Lee Ann is neither lazy nor laconic, so we have the very long treatise below, which being the big, fat lazy swine I am, I'm not going to respond to - redundancy costing too much in time and words.

I am, however, going to respond to the theology part, because I don't at this stage plan to say a lot more about the Garden of Eden. I don't have a Bible handy, however, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow. Contrary to what Lee Ann may believe, sometimes atheism is an advantage when interpreting the Bible; freedom from theory imparting the freedom to see the text as it is.


posted by Gena on Saturday, June 08, 2002 | link

Don't Mess With Me

If I were a torture device, I'd be the...


A person was tied to you, then weighted down onto the impaling spikes or beaten with sticks. Yeesh. Go overboard much when you're upset?

What torture would you be?

posted by Gena on Saturday, June 08, 2002 | link

So I'm Not Stupid And I Knew

That it was theoretically possible for someone to tap into your hard drive while you were on the Internet, and see the contents of your computer. Yet, it somehow seemed incredible and far-fetched to me, and thus entirely outside the realm of real possibility. Yes, like falling asteroids and terroist attacks, having my computer rumaged through remained comfortably "theoretical;" then I surfed over to Michael Kielsky's site, Uncommon Sense, and saw the contents of my computer displayed on his side bar.


posted by Gena on Saturday, June 08, 2002 | link

Gena, Back on the Crack Pipe Again.

Gena has once again embarked upon a heady wave of paranoia and transference. I apologize for the length of this post, but Gena went so far off the deep end that I actually had to go into Biblical apologetics to get to the end of this one.

“In other words, if you're 22 and don't have a husband and twelve kids, you're doomed; paradise is lost, and you're condemned . . .” Actually, nobody is suggesting this but you. The actual debate is over a re-evaluation and re-appreciation of the domestic role and of women who make their career inside the home. It is out to counter the demonization of traditional women and support the life choices of those women who choose to be mothers and housewives. By the way, the new medical research into women’s fertility is of vital concern to those women who want to have families. It is important information that they need to consider when making choices about when and if to have children. We Conservatives call it making an Informed Decision.

“I'm not saying marriage, even young marriage, precludes the Socratic life, but that the result of a good life is not happiness; or if it is happiness, it is happiness of a much more complex order, than the kind yielded by safety, the satisfaction of desires, and tranquillity.” Nice piece of DoubleSpeak there Gena. You are “not saying” that marriage is bad while at the same time negating the possibility of its goodness. Maybe the women who choose marriage find that marriage is the more complex route. If you think marriage is “safe, tranquil, and the satisfaction of all desires” you have gone off your medication and should see your therapist immediately. Marriage is hard work and is an exercise in constant self-discovery. You can hide your flaws from yourself in isolation much easier than you can when you are constantly in contact with an equally complex and “self-searching” person. What’s with this “desert and Garden” crap anyway? The nonmarital life is a barren wasteland (desert) while marriage is fertile and life-giving (garden)? Weird analogy if you are trying to dog marriage. As for the issue of a trade-off, why would marriage preclude the examined life? Wouldn’t the constant give-and-take of life with another person make you examine yourself more?

“God creates man because He wants an image, and yet an image should not be and is not the original. . . .For God this means that although Adam physically resembles God, he is not God; for Adam lacks the properties which make one 'like us,' that is like God, namely immortality and knowledge of good and evil. Adam is meant to exist in terms of God's will, and the only condition of life in that condition of bliss is that Adam not question his existence.” Lord Almighty, you are way off the Atheist Reservation here. Gena, you are so blatantly, so dead wrong that I am sincerely stunned by your ignorance. I would chalk it up to your atheism, but this goes beyond being merely uninformed. You have deliberately distorted the Creation and the Bible. You did it deliberately and that is not only cheap and deceptive, it is flat out stupid.

The idea that God “wants” an image is shaky theology at best. You appear to think that God created Adam in his physical image, which is totally false. God has no “physical” being, except during a brief 33 year tenure about 2000 years ago. Even at that time He took on the form of man, not the other way around. Man being in the “image” of God means that man is in the spiritual or philosophical sense, not that Adam had YHVH’s nose. In Eden, Adam and Eve did have immortality, which they forfeited when they ate of the Forbidden Fruit. That fruit was not Knowledge, as you would know if you read Genesis, it is the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That Fruit did not give Adam knowledge (which you would assume he already had as he named all the animals and things of the earth) but instead granted the eater Free Will. Eating the Fruit gave Adam the ability to know the difference between Good and Evil and to thus choose Evil. Prior to this Adam and Eve existed in a state of pure Goodness. Man only became subject to death when he was cast out of the Garden.

As for man existing in terms of God’s Will, that is correct, in the sense that God created man by force of His Will. Man’s ultimate purpose is to serve God, but he has, thanks to Free Will, the ability to reject that purpose and serve his own will. Adam (and Eve) was given the opportunity to eat the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though he was not supposed to. A proto-Free Will, as it were. God “allows” the eating of the Fruit because, even in the Garden, God wants the worship of men, not slaves. Adam, and thus man, has never been considered to be the appendage of YHVH that you assume. Adam, and all men, are individual beings in and of themselves. They are called to serve God’s Will, but they are not puppets of that will. Further, your statement that: “Life is autonomous and exists outside the will of even he who created it.” is false, but more importantly, completely out of left field. God created all life and is the sustaining “lifeforce.” God’s Will is an intentional act, but Life is the Is-ness of God.

“Lies, all of it, completely false, and yet, paradisical.” Your particular statements are lies, but the Bible, which you distort, is Truth. Your disbelief is an article of your Atheist faith, not gospel truth, if you’ll pardon the expression.

“God sees this and creates Eve, which is, of course, a big mistake. Adam is supposed to identify with Eve that he identify more closely with God. It doesn't work that way, however, because the more he identifies with Eve, the less Adam identifies with God. Where Adam was created as an image of God, and his primary identification is with God, Eve was created from Adam, and is identified primarily toward Adam, and only secondarily, if at all, toward God.” This would be amusing if you had any idea how wrong it is. To be fair though, you likely got this idea through Fundie Bible distortions. First of all, nowhere in the Bible is Eve described as a mistake. In fact, all of God’s creation, Eve included, is repeatedly called good by God Himself. There are, in fact, two Creation stories, one earlier than the other. The original creation has God creating man and woman at the same time. Let me quote: “So God created man in His own likeness, in the likeness of God he created them, male and female he created them. Gen. 2:27.” Man is created both male and female, with no difference between the two, theologically speaking. The second creation story has God form Adam out of red clay and then Eve out of Adam’s rib. Adam is thus formed of the earth (as opposed to the heavens) and Eve from a rib. This is reflected in their names, Adam from “adamah” (red clay) and Eve, or Havvah (sp?, meaning rib, which is also a word for “life”). Eve is Adam’s “helpmeet.” She is portrayed as vital to Adam’s full humanity. She completes him. Eve is a direct creation of God (He fashions the rib) and is formed from a creature who is filled with lifeforce, as opposed to being formed from the dead earth. Neither Adam nor Eve “identify” themselves with God, in the sense of seeing themselves as being one with Him. They do not pull away from God until tempted by the Serpent into trying to become like God and thus to usurp His place.

“When the serpent shows up and reveals the big lie, . . .” Actually, the Serpent doesn’t reveal the Big Lie, he PREACHES the Big Lie. He promises them divinity and delivers the loss of the divine paradise they until then enjoyed. Adam and Eve were tossed from the Garden because they had betrayed God. They had rejected all he gave them in an attempt to usurp Him. Adam and Eve chose to take the hard road and to reject the easy route to God. God is the True and the Good, and Paradise is the companionship of God and the contemplation, adoration, and love of Him. There was no submission before the Fall, because rebellion did not yet exist. There was no reason to “serve” the Good and the True (God) because man, in his nature, was good and true. Adam and Eve’s lack of faith and their subsequent disobedience were a rejection of this Truth and Goodness and condemned man to trying to reclaim this divine heritage on the long, hard road of trials, struggle, pain, and tough choices. How you are relating this bastardization of the Bible with your anti-housewife rant is beyond me. Homemaking as the contemplation of the Divine Presence? How is that bad?

As for your next paragraph, which I think is a failed transitional paragraph, women’s rights are God given and innate. Women have equal rights as men because they were created by the same Will, for the same purpose, and exist with the same divine Love to sustain them. Women and men do have different roles, but what those roles are is determined by the individual, not by their sexual organs. Very few vocations are off limits to women in the Christian worldview. Some roles within the Church are off limits, but that is because God specifically made them that way. Virtually all secular roles are up for grabs. The only thing women can’t be, secularly, are fathers, and that is for the same reason men can’t be mothers. Biology and grammar rule that roost. See the story of Christ’s visit to Mary and Martha for the basis of that one.

“ . . . feminists and conservatives are really one and the same. Both see women as a group, and both apportion women rights and obligations according to the rational of happiness.” This is half true and half false. While feminist and Conservatives (not to mention Liberals, Libertoids, and everyone else) do both refer to “women” as a monolithic group with a group mind and will, Conservatives do so mainly as a political shorthand and not as an article of ideological dogma. “Women” is a convenient grouping for use in political debate but it does not sum up the Conservative position on women. Conservatives have no intention of forcing women to stay home if they don’t want to. Conservatives support a woman’s right to choose her own career, in or out of the home, although their vocal support to the in-home women makes it easy to ignore their support for women outside the home. Conservatives do hold that that the ideal for mothers is to stay home with their children. However, this is just that, an ideal. Conservatives are fully aware of the fact that this ideal is not always practicable or desirable. It certainly would have been ideal if Mama Lewis could have stayed home 24/7 and devoted all her time to you, but the fact that she was divorced and you had the pesky habit of wanting to eat made that impossible. The ideal was neither possible nor desirable in your situation, as in many others. Conservatives know this and are all in favor of your mother’s life choices. Feminists on the other hand, would never want your mother (or mine) to even have the choice of how to raise their children. Feminists regard women as a monolithic group because they need to in order to consolidate their political power over otherwise rebellious women. As for Jonah Goldberg, his wife is a speechwriter for John Ashcroft, earns way more than he does, has way more political clout than he has, and just wrote a very well-received book on the abuse of Title IX. Her career is outside the home, as is Goldberg’s mother’s, Lucianne’s, who was one of the most influential literary agents in the country. Again, for Conservatives, ideals and reality are often different. This is called life.

“Freedom is hard, the moral responsibility for one's own life grueling and endless, often debilitating, sometimes sad, and almost always lonely.” Freedom is hard, just ask any woman who chose to exercise her freedom to make her career inside the home. You are still making the idiotic equation of the free, informed embrace of the domestic life with moral cowardice, oppression, and alienation. Many women, perhaps the “too many” you complain of, have weighed all the arguments you made and have found them to be wrong. They made their life choice not with the slave mentality of Soviet Russia, but with the hot-blooded courage of a Soviet dissident. They accepted the grueling, endless task of moral responsibility and faced it head-on in the manner they saw fit. You are beginning to sound like Simone de Beauvoir, who said that women should not be allowed to make their own choices as to whether or not to work in or out of the home, because too many would choose what Beuavoir rejected. Freedom to choose your own path in life includes the freedom to choose paths that Gena Lewis does not want to take.

Despite all the idiocy above, Gena does make a very brilliant observation here. She says, “I believe that feminism itself has become fundamentally oppressive of women, that in the name of happiness, it has taken away their freedom, and that in the name of freedom, it has taken away their dignity and their rights.” You are quite right. Second and Third wave Feminism have become as repressive, if not more so, as the patriarchy it railed against. Feminism has become a Soviet style Nomenklatura whose elite believe that they, and they alone, have the wisdom and right to control the choices and lives of women, and by extension, men. Feminism has become a self-perpetuating autocracy dedicated to growing its own power through the enforced submission of others.

“Contemporary feminists have embraced the idea of women over the reality of individual women, and having done so, they have defined safety and happiness as the goal, and taken steps to ensure them.” This sentence, and this whole paragraph in fact, just rock. This paragraph commences a full tilt boogie to dispense some much needed whup-ass to the Feminist establishment. Just thought I’d point that out.

“If you want women to be happy and safe, the solution is to remove them from life. Create a place where they will be sheltered, protected, affirmed, and loved. Only you don't have to create it; it already exists. The solution to the woman problem is to send women home.” Despite the momentary outburst of brilliance above, Gena once again descends into silliness. In fact, she goes right back to disparaging the one life choice that stands in full defiance of feminism and modern social convention. Home is once again described as the home of the lobotomized. Women who make their careers inside the home are not rejecting life, they are embracing it. How many career women throw themselves into their jobs in order to escape the struggles, disappointments, and emotional drains of a real, full life? A lot more than Gena realizes.

“Put simply it is bad, because women are individuals, because as individuals they should be free to determine their own lives, because the promise of a Garden is inevitably a lie, its conditions unfulfillable, and because even if a Garden were possible, it would still be impossible to fully live a life within it.” Here again is Gena’s willful refusal to face reality. The domestic life is not oppressive! Why are you automatically equating housewifery with failure, cowardice, and misery? Women, as free individuals, often FREELY CHOOSE to embrace their families as their careers. They are not forced; they are not hiding; they are not second-class citizens. They have made their free individual choice! Why can’t you accept that choice as valid and good? The home is no Garden of Eden and never has been. No housewife ever thought it was. Your biblical analogy is wrong and stupid, and your disrespect to the choices women freely make in their own lives is an echo of the repressive feminism you claim to hate. All I (and Conservatives in general) am trying to do is to give homemakers the respect they have earned. Their choice is no more a hiding from the world that a career is.

If you really believe that women should have the right to choose their own lives, then you should respect the choices those women make. Even the choices you would not make for yourself. If you can’t give homemakers the respect they are due, you are no better than the worst male chauvanist pigs who refused to accept women’s choices when they lead outside the home.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 08, 2002 | link

The Gena Mystique.

I guess I can now respond to your last feminism post, not the ignorant monstrosity you posted last night. I wanted to post this earlier but refrained until Gena's current "Bimbo Situation" resolved itself. As for Gallagher talking directly to you, she seemed to nail your equation of the domestic life with weakness and failure. As your concluding paragraph demonstrates. Let me be frank (yes, you can be Sammy), your “defense” of a woman’s family life is a perfect example of a backhanded compliment. Where you get your bizarre notions of family life, I will never know.

“Sending women to the kitchen deprives them of an identity outside the family, while simultaneously reducing the husband's identity within it.” A woman’s identity is what she chooses it to be, not what your personal preferences are. I can tell you from experience that this statement is a crock. Women who choose traditional domesticity hold that the titles “wife” and “mother” are important and vital aspects of their identities. Has it occurred to you that an “identity outside the home” is not a magic talisman that confers value or worth to one who holds it? Have you considered the fact that this mythic “identity” has been considered and rejected by women who feel that an “identity within the home” is equally or more important? By the way, nobody “sends” women to the kitchen. Nobody is exiling men from the home. You are operating on a very outdated stereotype of family life, one that was unlikely to ever have been true. Transference, anyone?

Also, what gives you the idea that fathers’ identities within the family are reduced because they work? Sure they’re tired when they get home, but no more so than their hard-working wives. Being tired doesn’t preclude active interest or participation in your children’s lives. If a father who works outside the home becomes irrelevant to his family, why wouldn’t a mother who works outside the home be equally irrelevant? Wouldn’t a working mother be just as wiped out after a day at work? I can tell you from experience that I am just as close, and sometimes closer, to the Notorious G.U.P. as I am to La Bella Mama. Your view of family is very confusing. A parent who stays home loses their identity and becomes valueless, while a parent who works outside the home loses relevance to the family. Which is it?

“I don't think such a situation is fair to either gender, and I certainly don't think it's good for the children, if for no other reason than children grow up, and twelve years of less than complete parental presence is better than seventy of preordained roles and circumscribed opportunities.” Too bad science proves you wrong. Children of intact, two-parent, traditional families are 2 to 3 times less likely to have trouble in school, commit a crime, get pregnant out of wedlock, have abusive relationships, or have broken families of their own. There have been several major studies on this topic. You must have deliberately ignored them. Why on earth would you think that the traditional family is bad for children? Because it has worked better than any other arrangement for thousands of years? What is so unfair about choosing the role you will play in your own family? Why is it bad for children to know that their parents are willing to sacrifice their own convenience or egos for the good of their families?

Besides how can having a loving, devoted mother and father be bad for the children? Because the children have at least one parent who is always there for them? How is that bad? Exactly what roles in today’s families are preordained? A growing number of fathers are the ones who stay home 24/7. Your opinion of family life is very truncated one, apparently derived from some incomplete myth from the Fifties, not from reality. If a woman (or man) has chosen traditional domesticity, how are their choices circumscribed? Domesticity IS their choice. They looked at the others and decided against them. How is displaying all the choices available to women, in the home and out, bad for children? Because they might grow up to make choices you don’t approve of?

You forget that I was raised in a traditional family. My mother had a career outside the home, but chose to trade it in for a more fulfilling career inside it. I always knew that we had someone who was there for me when I needed her, not when she could squeeze me into her schedule. She taught me everything from good books to good food to good behavior. Those lessons were taught when I needed them, not during some rigidly scheduled “quality time.” Daddy did come home tired after work, but that never stopped him from being an active, hands on parent. He taught me sports, politics, tools, and never to mess around with my mother. Together they taught me more about God, country, family, and the ways of the world than any school or career ever could. Oh yeah, they taught about careers too. My mother’s career prior to staying home was no secret. Did you know that when she left her precious “identity” she earned more than my father did? I also heard all about the women at Daddy’s work too. Their careers were no secret, from his female secretary to his female boss. I knew about ALL my options and learned to respect women who made their careers inside as well as outside the home. Somehow I don’t see how this has damaged me. In fact, it seems to have put me ahead of the game. It's YOUR options that seem to be circumscribed.

In the end, your argument suffers from the same logical flaw it always has: you are approaching the issue of domesticity as if it were inherently repressive. This is completely false. You seem to view life, love, and family as a zero-sum game. Any devotion to one parent must diminish devotion to the other. The goodness of the domestic life does not render the non-domestic life valueless. If one parental role is valuable, the other must be valueless. Domesticity is not oppressive. It is a legitimate life choice. It is perhaps the most arduous and noble undertaking anyone can assume. The measure of the value of a woman’s life is not “what Gena enjoys.” It is what that woman decides is the best way to live her life and love her family.

As for my goat, you need to take a better census of my livestock. Your elitist condescension towards a woman’s right to direct her own life isn’t as “progressive” or “liberated” as you think it is. Also, don’t toss out a ripe pinata like Catharine Millet if you don’t want me to swing at her. As you wanted to see the reaction she gets, don’t whine when I post a reaction to her.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 08, 2002 | link

Ring Out Wild Cheers.

The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will finally be getting their Super Bowl rings. After making due with the 1997 AFC Championship rings (they lost to the Packers in the big game), they will now be able to sport the gaudy, overdone Rings of Champions. Too bad there isn’t any ring for the loyal, long suffering (very long-suffering) fans.

posted by Lee Ann on Saturday, June 08, 2002 | link

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Friday, June 07, 2002

Announcing the Anti-Feminist Manifesto

Where, oh, where has my response to Lee Ann gone? Remember I promised to respond to Lee Ann and to demolish feminism. You've probably forgotten, and if you haven't, you probably think I've given up on it. But you're wrong. It's just that responding to both feminism and conservatism, requires a much more complex, in-depth and integrated argument then you can bang out in thirty minutes at 2 o'clock in the morning. So I'm going to serialize this thing. I've done the introduction, and posted it below. When I write the first piece of the actual essay, I'll post it too, and so on. I've also made a separate page for the whole thing, where you'll be able to read the text in its entirety. You can find it by clicking here, or by clicking on it under my links section. Let the assault begin.


posted by Gena on Friday, June 07, 2002 | link

The Anti-Feminist Manifesto

Introduction


Well, the monsters have come out, and as Lee Ann says, some people in America are having an "intelligent" debate about whether a woman's place is in the home, the pièce de résistance of which is a salad of statistics saying women's fertility falls at age 25 - or was it 27 - and that they are correspondingly happier getting married as young as possible. In other words, if you're 22 and don't have a husband and twelve kids, you're doomed; paradise is lost, and you're condemned - to what? Wander through the desert? Wrestle with the angel? Find your own meaning to life; make your own mistakes, compromises, and find that the person staring back at you in the mirror is capable of things you would rather not confess to, and the world she lives in is - appearances to the contrary - not a shiny, happy or safe place. The most cliched phrase in all of philosophy is that the unexamined life is not worth living, and yet an examined life is by definition not a happy one; for it is an endless confrontation with oneself and the world, a confrontation which doesn't allow for a separate peace. I'm not saying marriage, even young marriage, precludes the Socratic life, but that the result of a good life is not happiness; or if it is happiness, it is happiness of a much more complex order, than the kind yielded by saftey, the satisfaction of desires, and tranquility. If young women are happier getting married earlier, it is because they have traded the desert for the Garden, and that is not a good trade.

Drop all the doctrine and take the Bible as it is, and it is a fascinating book. What does it mean to create life and what is life, particularly, in relation to its creator? Those are the central questions of the Old Testament, and they begin with the Garden of Eden. God creates man because He wants an image, and yet an image should not be and is not the original. That last part sounds like a tautology, and yet it is precisely the problem. Adam is not God. Adam is Adam. For God this means that although Adam physically resembles God, he is not God; for Adam lacks the properties which make one "like us," that is like God, namely immortality and knowledge of good and evil. Adam is meant to exist in terms of God's will, and the only condition of life in that condition of bliss is that Adam not question his existence. He will live in the Garden, and he will die there, not knowing that he will die. The Garden is portrayed as a Paradise, and rightly so; for all is provided to Adam, and though Adam will die, he will live unencumbered by that knowledge.

Lies, all of it, completely false, and yet, paradisical. This is how it should be: Adam as Adam, like God, but not God, and the problem is that this does not and indeed cannot mean what God wants it to. If Adam is Adam, then Adam is Adam, in the full complexity of what that means, and Adam cannot exist in terms of God's will, for his existence is defined in terms of himself. Life is autonomous and exists outside the will of even he who created it. Adam doesn't understand this, and yet, somehow he is incomplete. God sees this and creates Eve, which is, of course, a big mistake. Adam is supposed to identify with Eve that he identify more closely with God. It doesn't work that way, however, because the more he identifies with Eve, the less Adam identifies with God. Where Adam was created as an image of God, and his primary identification is with God, Eve was created from Adam, and is identified primarily toward Adam, and only secondarily, if at all, toward God. When the serpent shows up and reveals the big lie, Eve has no trouble reaching for the fruit, and Adam takes the fruit from Eve. God realizes what has happened, and throws Adam and Eve out of the Garden, as punishment for their transgression, but also because the Tree of Life is still there, and God will be damned if they're going to get their grubby hands on it, and live forever. Knowing good and evil, Adam and Eve have already "become like us" and should Adam and Eve become immortal, they would be us. Consequently, the last thing Adam and Eve see of the garden is a great big flaming sword revolving around the Tree of Life and a company of cherubim guarding it. What follow are pages and centuries of God trying to impose his will on man and man trying to fulfill it, and both of them failing miserably. And there is the ever present yearning for the Garden, the longing of those out hacking away at the hard soil of the earth, and the memory, the memory of a paradise where all was provided and the bad things were hidden away, and all that was asked was submission and existence in terms of another's will.

Everyone agrees that women should have rights, but what rights should they have and why should they have them? Do they have them because they're women? Or because they're individuals? Do they have the right to happiness, safety, and peace, or to determine their lives for better or for worse according to their own talents, inclinations, and abilities? Do they have the right to the Garden or to the Desert? Is it in Eden or east of it? Where is the good life, and how should we live it?

Feminists and traditional values conservatives rail at each other, but it is a yelling match orchestrated to the beat of boulders clashing in Hell; for sworn diabolical enemies that they are, feminists and conservatives are really one and the same. Both see women as a group, and both apportion women rights and obligations according to the rational of happiness. The only requirement is that women submit: to the family, the husband, the children, the institution, the law code, the academic, and the literary theorist. To James Tooley and Helene Cixous, Andrea Dworkin, and Jonah Goldberg, to ten thousand other promisers of paradise out to make sure women get it. If you are a woman you can be happy, so long as you don't deviate from the twelve step plan, so long as you not assert that your life is your own to live as you will for better of for worse.

And the result of all of this is that women are martyred on the altar of theory or of virtue; the terms change, the meaning's the same. And women accept, so many of them, too many of them. They accept, and cast their freedom aside, for the same reason people have said yes and bowed their heads to tyrants from the Soviet Union to the Empire, throughout history and forever. Freedom is hard, the moral responsibility for one's own life grueling and endless, often debilitating, sometimes sad, and almost always lonely. The Garden is quieter, and it is so much easier to lay it all down, to not think anymore, to not suffer repudiation and blame, to be loved and to live and to die in peace. Who would not want Eden or the dream that you can live there. Even if it is a dream, is it not one we should strive for?

No, it is not. Explaining why it is not shall be the subject of this essay, which I've called the Anti-Feminist Manifesto, because I believe that feminism itself has become fundamentally oppressive of women, that in the name of happiness, it has taken away their freedom, and that in the name of freedom, it has taken away their dignity and their rights. I don't believe that feminists are against women's rights, although I do question whether all of them, especially the academic ones, really care about the cause of women as it exists outside the cause of the feminists' own careers. Most feminists are for women, but that is precisely the problem.

Contemporary feminists have embraced the idea of women over the reality of individual women, and having done so, they have defined safety and happiness as the goal, and taken steps to ensure them. Since many of these steps are at least policy oriented, when not downright legal, women have come to live in a protective prison of other people's expectations. In doing so, feminists have not only become oppressors themselves, they have threatened almost every gain women have made toward social equality since the 19th century; for once you define women as a group, assign them characteristics on the basis of that group, and decide that what would really be good for them is to be happy and safe, you necessarily remove them from the social, the political, and the intellectual sphere. Life in the real world is harsh. Other people are often mean, and they are often rude. They will oftentimes challenge your insights, your intelligence, and even your character. And sometimes, they will be right, and that is the worst thing of all for the ego and your sense of self. Learning you're wrong is crushing; it leads to self-doubt, and a diminishment of your own sense of worth. Sometimes, however, the world may rail at you because you are right, because you are seeing and saying things others are perfectly content to live without acknowledging. If that is the case, you must endure criticism, attacks, even ostracism, and sometimes imprisonment or even death. And then there are those who will attack you for no reason at all; who simply do not like you; who may be even prejudiced against you, and who may really be out to get you. Life isn't a garden, and reality bites.

The approach of feminists and of contemporary feminism has been to stage a grand and not entirely quixotic campaign against life's danger and harshness. Feminists have sought to make life safe, and yet they can never escape the simple fact that life is not safe, and that people actively living it are often in pain. That is where the James Tooleys of the world come sliding through the door, and what they have to say is, "Duh." If you want women to be happy and safe, the solution is to remove them from life. Create a place where they will be sheltered, protected, affirmed, and loved. Only you don't have to create it; it already exists. The solution to the woman problem is to send women home.

And that is bad, bad, bad; and it's the reason I'm writing this in the first place, because thanks to contemporary feminism, we've lost the vocabulary for why it's bad, and far worse and more importantly almost no one is making the argument. The summary for why it's bad is simple; the argument itself is more complex, and shall no doubt occupy many a post, and encounter many an objection. Put simply it is bad, because women are individuals, because as individuals they should be free to determine their own lives, because the promise of a Garden is inevitably a lie, its conditions unfulfillable, and because even if a Garden were possible, it would still be impossible to fully live a life within it. There's a final reason this is called the Anti-Feminist Manifesto, and that is that feminist thinking has led to the vilification, slander, and out and out legal oppression of men. Yes, men: stupid, inarticulate, brutish, sex-obsessed, oppressive men. Feminism was supposed to liberate both men and women, because it was supposed to free them once and for all from the ideology of the group. I intend to carry out that promise, or at the very least to try.


posted by Gena on Friday, June 07, 2002 | link

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Contact Spinster Lee Ann at calhounista_at_hotmail

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