Monday, October 15, 2018

GOSNELL: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer

Fake news!  The words bring to mind epic distortions and outsized emphasis on trivial events like Melania’s wardrobe or Presidential statements about crowd size.  The most devastating aspect of “fake news,” however, is the media’s ability to make a story completely disappear.  Exhibit one is the “untold story” of Kermit Gosnell, described by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer as “America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.” 
The movie, largely extracted from their 2017 book, premiered to nationwide audiences on Friday -- but only after overcoming huge legal and industry hurdles.  Funding for the project was accomplished via nearly thirty-thousand individuals who contributed over 2.3 million dollars to a fund-raising site.  Advertising, however, was difficult, as many outlets, including Facebook and NPR, to say nothing of the film industry, created obstacles that reduced public exposure to the project.   
The film itself is riveting with a plot that moves along briskly and focuses primarily (a la Law and Order) on the trial of Dr. Gosnell.  Shock and awe isn’t the method used to communicate this appalling, many-tiered story.  Direct exposure to gore is rejected while still presenting indirectly the horror of Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion clinic and illegal drug dispensary.
The reluctance to hold this and presumably any abortion clinic responsible for violations of the law (including obvious health code violations) is made clear by the grand jury testimony of a stodgy health inspectress who ignored a stack of complaints about Gosnell’s facility on Governor Tom Ridge’s politically-motivated orders.  Both the Philadelphia D.A. (portrayed capably by Michael Beach) and a preliminary judge were also adamant that Gosnell’s case not be about abortion per se.
The trial, however, inevitably confronted the jury with the reality of abortion -- a reality ironically presented by Gosnell’s defense attorney in his questioning of a respected doctor from a prestigious hospital who said, somewhat reluctantly, that the institution had performed about 30,000 abortions. Thanks to the media’s virtual blackout on this topic, most Americans don’t know that for decades more than a million abortions were performed annually in the U.S., and today the honest figure (not the CDC reported figure) stands near 900,000.   
Beyond the number of abortions performed, Gosnell’s attorney (played with villainous verisimilitude by Nick Searcy) skillfully led the stylishly clad physician through the D&E (dilation and extraction) procedure, brandishing huge forceps, scissors, and the long, poison-containing needle routinely employed in a legal abortion.  Counsel methodically pointed each instrument at the designated “targets” via a black and white representation of a baby in the womb.  His point was that there’s precious little difference between what Gosnell usually did in his ramshackle clinic and what well-equipped abortion-providers do.  The climax of his cross examination occurred when he asked the physician what would happen if, despite all their efforts, the baby came out alive.  Her chilling answer was that the baby would be given “comfort care” -- i.e. placed in a tray and kept warm till it died.  Gosnell’s attorney commented that snipping the spinal cord (something Gosnell did several and probably hundreds of times) seemed like a more humane procedure -- “withdrawn.”
The jury also saw, as the movie audience didn’t, a picture of “Baby A” whose spine was snipped by Gosnell, one of the three babies judged to have been born alive and murdered by the doctor.  The way the jury members recoiled and averted their eyes provided a dramatic representation of the way media and the public in general wishes to avoid looking at the reality of this “procedure” that is mendaciously placed under the benign rubric of “reproductive health.”  
Kudos should be given to Earl Billings for his deft portrayal of Gosnell, a man who calmly greeted police and FBI agents at his home, played Chopin on the piano while agents searched the premises, and expressed concern for the turtles in his filthy clinic while he was being held over for trial.   As I noted in my review of McElhinney and McAleer’s book, “Not since Hannah Arendt’s portrait of Adolf Eichmann has there been a more provocative analysis of evil.” Gosnell’s “greed and macabre callousness” existed alongside a “cheerful disposition that accompanied various acts of charity.”  In his overly self-confidant mind, he was simply taking a legally protected procedure a few steps further.  Gosnell justified his criminal acts with a dubious claim of good intentions.  
The heroic protagonists of the film are Assistant District Attorney Christine Wechsler and Detective James “Woody” Wood (portrayed by Sarah Jane Morris and Dean Cain) two persons who are appalled by Gosnell’s macabre collection of infant’s feet, aborted babies, and refrigerated milk carton containers filled with fetal remains.  Their clearly communicated shock and disbelief allows the audience to see second hand what isn’t and probably shouldn’t be shown on screen.  The institutional obstacles these two individuals must overcome to convict a mass murderer of three homicides is indicative of the willful blindness that’s baked into contemporary American society.
Nowhere is that blindness more apparent than in a media that refuses to publicize atrocities that might actually open eyes to the reality of abortion-on-demand.  The Philadelphia D.A. is convinced that the Gosnell case will become a circus with journalists portraying the prosecution as anti-choice, anti-woman, and racist.  What happens instead is an empty courtroom and media silence.  Toward the end of the trial, thanks to the efforts of a blogger-journalist, the film shows a packed courtroom.  That image, however, is misleading, since trial coverage was largely confined to Philadelphia.  Today, the gruesome story of Kermit Gosnell is still largely untold. 
Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Sunday, October 07, 2018

A Man for all Seasons and Brett Kavanaugh

A Man for all Seasons is a classic film that’s especially relevant in an atmosphere where law and truth have been discarded for the sake of political objectives--where an honorable man had his good name dragged through the mud to prevent a Constitutional tilt in the Supreme Court.

The protagonist in A Man for all Seasons is playwright Robert Bolt’s Thomas More, doubtless a more reasonable and saintly version of the actual historical figure who authored the book Utopia. Though both men are eventually executed by Henry VIII, Bolt’s More is more eloquent when it comes to matters currently facing the U.S. Senate and our country.

Early in the movie lawyer More is summoned to Cardinal Wolsey’s office to discuss King Henry’s pending divorce from Catherine who, in the then-Chancellor’s words, is “barren as a brick.” When More refuses to put political expediency over his religiously-informed conscience, Wolsey observes, “You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat-on, without that horrible moral squint; with a little common sense you could have made a statesman.” More replies, “Well, I believe when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”

More’s warning calls to mind contemporary politicians who don’t apply their “personal” ethical beliefs to political decisions. This comment should lead one to ask on what moral basis, if any, these politicians make policy choices. Judging by convenient reversals on the crucial issue of abortion (cf. Jesse Jackson and Al Gore) it’s reasonable to conclude that personal and political advantage is the primary consideration. (Note that only twenty-five years ago former Nevada Senator Harry Reid was railing against illegal immigration and citizenship for anchor babies. I doubt that a moral epiphany changed his tune.) 

Later in the film More confronts his daughter’s suitor, Roper, who wants to arrest the ambitious, recently-graduated Richard Rich who seeks a career-advancing position in court. More vigorously declines to pursue the suspicious Rich because he hasn’t broken any law. Roper, himself a good-hearted hothead, exclaims, “So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!” The soon to become Chancellor of England, responds, “Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?” Roper retorts, “I’d cut down every law in England to do that!” Then comes More’s eloquent conclusion: “Oh?  And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws not God’s, and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

As honest observers should concede, most Constitutional limitations have long since been “cut down” by clever judicial machinations (“penumbras formed by emanations”), but in the Judicial Committee and among leftists nationwide the very “presumption of innocence” has come under attack, ditched for the politically motivated requirement that a man with a spotless adult resume disprove an alleged assault at an unknown location 35, -6, or -7 years ago. Even the rational  assessment of evidence is being exchanged, at least for the politically convenient moment, for the “believability” of an accuser whose claims are weighed on a tilted scale of sympathetic emotion—as if sworn testimony about an alleged crime were akin to a Broadway audition. 

Forget rigorous cross-examination. That’s now called “blaming the victim”—a phrase that presupposes the allegation’s veracity. In this brave new lawless world the benefit of the doubt goes to a witness with no corroborating evidence whose charge is the product of a recovered memory decades after the event—someone whose credibility is further diminished by numerous contradictory and false statements. To rephrase More’s challenge to Roper: Who will be able to stand upright with legal standards that are as capricious as the political winds? 

Robert Bolt’s drama ends with a trial in which More seems to be getting the better of his legal adversary when the ambitious Richard Rich appears in court and provides perjured testimony that seals the prisoner’s fate.  As the witness is exiting, More notes a chain of office around his neck and is informed that Rich had been appointed Attorney General of Wales.  More comments, “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world—but  for Wales?”

It may be that Blasey-Ford’s testimony was, as Joe DiGenova believes, pure fiction and thus equivalent in mendacity to Richard Rich’s perjury. Instead of Wales she hopes to receive, at the least, Anita Hill sainthood status among the left, and if her accusation had prevailed, Joan of Arc veneration as the brave woman who took down an evil Constitutionalist. Even if she actually believes what she says is true, it’s clear to anyone with an objective mind that her testimony wasn’t sufficient to prove anything. As prosecutor Rachel Mitchell concluded after calmly interviewing (not cross-examining) Dr. Ford, no "reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee."

The sentence against More is handed down by a jury that needn’t heed the bench’s charge to “retire and consider the evidence.”  Henry’s legal hatchet-man, Cromwell, contravenes the judges’ instructions: “Considering the evidence, it shouldn’t be necessary for them to retire.” Cromwell then asks the jury foreman ominously, “Is it necessary?” The group settles back in their seats, huddles briefly, then renders the politically required verdict: “Guilty, my lord.”

In the Kavanaugh hearing Democrats on the Judical Committee assumed the roles of both prosecutors and jury—prosecutors without moral scruples and a jury for which no deliberation is necessary, only achieving their anti-Constitutionalist political objective. These senators—one of whom lied about his Vietnam service (Blumenthal) and another (Booker) fabricated a street-hustling Socrates pal named T-Bone who never really existed—pose as serious moral guardians while engaging in the most flagrant character assassination in the sordid recent history of the Judiciary Committee. The irony and duplicity is hard to overstate. 

At film’s end, accepting the unjust verdict against him with dignity and grace, More’s head is chopped off. It was refreshing this time to see a just (even if narrow) verdict, a verdict that did not reward rapacious mendacity but rather upheld legal precedent. It would be even more  gratifying if upcoming political and legal verdicts punish those who willfully provided false testimony under oath. In the meantime we may take courage from the words More speaks to his daughter while confined in prison: “If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that abhorrence, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little, even at the risk of being heroes.”    

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Resistance is Futile! How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind, by Ann Coulter

You want evidence of justice department and media corruption?  Coulter’s got the goods -- in spades, and served with her signature rapier wit.  Resistance is Futile doesn’t simply rehash talking points about Hillary’s serial lawbreaking, Mueller’s partisan probe, or Deep State subversion of an opposition President, though all those matters are treated with lawyerly and comedic deftness.  (Think My Cousin Vinny.)  First and foremost Coulter’s book is about collusion -- the democracy-demolishing collusion between Democrats and the mainstream media that has existed for decades but which a white-hot hatred for the “vulgarian” Trump has made unmistakably clear to most Americans.  On the bright side, this exposure is actually destroying journalism, which the author says must perish and be rebuilt on an ethical foundation for democracy to survive.  Coulter provides a veritable avalanche of media inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and lost-their-mind absurdities to support her conclusion. 
For example, Democrats and their media lackeys who only yesterday decried federal surveillance of possible terrorists (and who nearly defrocked John Brennan for lying to Sen. Diane Feinstein about the CIA’s enhanced spying activity) now view that same man as a paragon of rectitude.  Indeed, they regularly denounce as unpatriotic anyone who questions the validity of warrants obtained from a secret court to spy on Americans associated with the Trump campaign -- even during the campaign!  The same coterie of co-conspirators who were eager to vindicate Alger Hiss and praise cooperation with the Soviet Union, now portray Putin’s Russia as the gravest threat to America since 9/11 or Pearl Harbor.  According to these partisans, Putin must be publicly vilified and his country harshly punished for interfering with an American election via a few thousand Facebook ads -- many supporting Trump, some supporting Bernie, others touting Ted Cruz, Jill Stein, Black Lives Matter, United Muslims of America, and even Hillary.
This breakdown comes from Muller’s own indictment of the 13 villainous Russians he is clearly not anxious to see in court, having backed away from an expedited trial when one of the Russian ham sandwiches actually sent a legal team to the U.S. to have the charges against him adjudicated.  One possibly exculpatory element of that defense would be the fact that most of the Facebook ads were placed after the election and even jumped on the Resistance bandwagon.  Mueller, by the way, has the distinction of being FBI director during two of the bureau’s most famous screw-ups.  First, Republican Senator Ted Stevens was falsely accused of lying to investigators (sound familiar?) eight days before an election that he lost by less than 2 percent.  When the trial judge discovered prosecutors had withheld vital exculpatory evidence, he threw out the case and demanded an investigation of the investigators.
Then there was the anthrax case where Mueller worked “in lockstep” with his hand-chosen investigator, Richard Palmer.  Together these vigilantes all but destroyed the life of Steven Hatfill, an innocent U.S. Army biodefense researcher whom the FBI hounded relentlessly for six years because he fit the Bureau’s profile: “a ‘flag-waving’ patriot.”  Even after a federal judge said the investigators hadn’t found “a scintilla of evidence” against Hatfill and the government later settled with Hatfill for almost six million dollars, Mueller said, “I do not apologize for any aspect of this investigation.”  There you have the “honorable” Robert Mueller.
When it comes to immigration, the media’s “heads I win, tails you lose” reportage depends on who resides in the White House.  While Obama lived there, federal law and even federal policy that ignored those laws, ruled supreme.  That’s what CNN’s law expert informed us after Arizona vainly attempted to enforce federal immigration laws in 2010. But now that Trump’s address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s perfectly ok for blue states to ignore federal immigration law.  Indeed, thanks to a few lower court rulings cheered by mainstream media pundits, the President is now unable to exercise his “clear constitutional and federal authority” to “exclude immigrants in the best interests of the United States.”   
NBC’s release of the embarrassing 2005 Access Hollywood tape just weeks before the November election provides yet another example of media partisanship.  This electoral kill-shot, according to Coulter, “breached all professional norms and probably the law.”  By contrast, NBC’s current President, Andy Lack, when heading NBC News in 1999, “held the network’s interview with Juanita Broaddrick” in which she accused Bill Clinton of rape until after the President’s impeachment trial.  In this case timing says everything you need to know about Lack, NBC, partisanship, and a willingness to place more importance on a braggadocious utterance about consensual groping within a celebrity culture (“They let you do it,” Trump added.) than multiple accusations of actual predatory behavior by a Democrat.      
Other matters diligently dissected by Coulter include Trump’s wildly mischaracterized Charlottesville statement, George Soros’s plundering of Russia and manipulation of foreign elections, the false claim that Trump asked Russia to “hack” Hillary’s private email server, the media’s misreporting about changes to the 2016 GOP Platform in order to suggest Russian influence, and an honest comparison of Watergate with the Mueller probe.  Concerning the latter, Coulter comments, “Imagine what G. Gordon Liddy could have done working from the inside of the FBI, with FISA warrants and government-paid spies!”
Coulter offers these two summary judgments about the current special prosecutor’s investigation:  “The very nature of Mueller’s probe is Soviet justice.  He has an open-ended commission to look for any crimes committed by anyone connected to the Trump campaign…. If the Russians were trying to sow discord and undermine confidence in our democracy, then the guy they probably colluded with was Robert Mueller.” 
Closing arguments directed at the media include the following observations:  “Fake news means reporting, for example, that Trump colluded with Russia to sway the election when it was the Democratic Party and the FBI that colluded with Russia to sway the election.”  Put otherwise, Russia “is accused of doing to the Democrats what the media do to Republicans every election cycle.”
Despite her full-throated defense of the President against leftist and media insanity, Resistance is Futile isn’t a Trump hagiography.  Coulter even describes the President as “utterly undisciplined” and “the crudest kind of braggart.”  In Coulter’s estimation, however, these flaws pale when compared with Trump’s failure to achieve his primary campaign promise, stopping illegal immigration.  Coulter ends her case with the less-than-sanguine hope that Trump may yet keep that promise but also with the consolation that if he accomplishes nothing else, “at least the media will be totally discredited.”
In sum, if you seek a detailed eye- and ear-catching review of news stories that have been misreported, distorted, or conveniently ignored due to Trump Derangement Syndrome, Resistance is Futile is the book for you.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dinesh D'Souza Versus Critics of DEATH OF A NATION

Rule of thumb: If Rotten Tomatoes and most movie critics hate a political flick, it must be good!  One of those critics who hangs out at the website deemed Dinesh D'Souza's latest film, Death of a Nation, so "shabbily constructed and artistically bankrupt" that it hardly "qualifies as a movie in the first place."  Peter Sobczynski doesn't deal seriously with the film's core assertions, which he cavalierly dismisses as "cherry-picked facts" garnished by "overt omissions." 

Those two terms do serve well, alongside "blatant distortions," as descriptions of Sobczynski's review.  D'Souza's movie, for example, compares Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln only in certain respects, primarily as an American president who faces tremendous political hostility that once again threatens to divide the Union.  P.S. repeats a canard that D'Souza has repeatedly demolished, including in this film, that the parties "switched positions" with respect to civil rights in the 1960s.  This widely accepted misrepresentation ignores the fact that a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the '64 Civil Rights bill (which was filibustered in the Senate by Southern Democrats) and that all but two of the hundreds of segregationist Dixiecrat legislators remained Democrats throughout their long careers, including former Klansman Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.  D'Souza also notes that the Democrat George Wallace carried the Deep South in 1968, not Richard Nixon, whose Civil Rights initiatives are rigorously ignored by leftist historians and movie critics who incessantly push the "Southern strategy" narrative.

P.S. also ignores the boatload of historical cherries that clearly put Mussolini's fascism on the "left" or socialist side of the political spectrum and has nothing to say about its curious "right-wing" repositioning after World War II.  Hitler, like Mussolini, was a national socialist.  D'Souza provides in this film several additional "cherries" that illuminate the mutual admiration that existed for years between Mussolini and FDR, as well as a few nuggets that show embarrassing links between Germany's early Nazi years and Roosevelt's New Deal.  If P.S. has any intellectual curiosity about such things, it isn't communicated in his epithet-laden review.  For those individuals who might be interested, D'Souza provides reams of additional evidence about the leftist origins of fascism in his book The Big Lie.

Other "cherries" P.S. "overtly omits" from his review include the re-segregation of the White House by President Woodrow Wilson, that same Progressive Democrat's White House screening of D.W. Griffith's Klan-boosting The Birth of a Nation, and the blatantly racist aspects of Margaret Sanger's progressive eugenics-based organization, Planned Parenthood.  Needless to say, P.S. has nothing positive to say about Trump and adds for his mindless readers that D'Souza never mentions "the countless [unspecified] scandals surrounding the administration."   

From my own perspective, Death of a Nation does cover much of the material that was dealt with in D'Souza's prior films, but this "repetitious" objection doesn't seem to count against the hundreds of Watergate or McCarthy-era retellings that continue to titillate Democrats and the mainstream media.  Moreover, it certainly takes more than a few reiterations to drive home points that counter well established lies like "the parties switched in the '60s" and "fascism is on the right."  Another important point the film makes is that northern Democrats opposed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution that outlawed slavery and granted citizenship and voting rights to blacks.  Consequently, the Civil War was not just a war of North versus South, but, in some respects, a war of anti-slavery Republicans against pro-slavery (or anti-abolition) Democrats who resided in both the North and the South.  

A completely new component of D'Souza's recent film is his interview with a white supremacist leader, Richard Spencer, whose favorite presidents include the founder of the Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson, and expansionist Democrat slave-owner James Polk.  Far from being a conservative, Spencer sees rights being bestowed on us by "the state" and not "by God or nature."  P.S. writes in his review that D'Souza "twists things around" to get Spencer to say "I guess I'm a Progressive," but what D'Souza actually does is point out how Spencer's political beliefs coincide with the state-centered philosophy of Progressivism.  The mainstream media portray Spencer as a leader of the "Alt-Right" animated by President Trump, who, despite media claims, has actually pursued a non-state-centered agenda. 

For those of us who have seen D'Souza's prior films, Death of a Nation may seem like more of the same, even if "the same" is stuff that's essential to the nation's survival.  For those who aren't familiar with D'Souza's work, Death of a Nation could be a revelatory moment that turns their political world upside-down.  At the very least, for those folks whose minds are at all open, it can be an invitation to explore whether ideas that most folks take for granted are actually true – and if they aren't true, how and by whom those lies came to be propagated.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is available on Kindle.

Monday, August 06, 2018

We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People, by Jason Hill

We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People, by Jason Hill, Bombardier Books, New York, July 10, 2018 (192 pages, $19.07 Hardcover, $9.99 Kindle)

One can scarcely imagine the ideological venom generated among leftists by a well-spoken black professor with a doctorate in philosophy who has the temerity to make public statements like these: “Americans as a group of people are good people.  But hatred of the good for being good … has become a fashionable emotion among certain elitist groups who resent America and her people for such virtues.”  “America in the 21st century is one essentially free of racial, ethnical, and religious clashes and violence among all her varied peoples.”  “America is a place of universal belonging. It is the prototype of what a benevolent universe looks like … It celebrates civic nationalism as the political principle that would forge a common identity among strangers and foreigners from disparate parts of the globe.”  “[A]n insidious cottage-industry of victimology [is] often predicated on black suffering and white guilt, guilt for past transgressions that whites have long atoned for as a group.”

If even a third of America’s black citizens shared the views of Jason Hill, a 1985 Jamaican immigrant to this country, the Democrat Party as currently constituted would not exist.   Consequently, Hill and black Americans with similar views are despised and vilified by “compassionate” Dems and by blacks who’ve embraced the “victim” status assigned to them by “alt-left” politicians and academicians like Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is how Professor Hill puts it: “Hell...hath no greater fury like a far-left-winger rejected for his or her redemptive gestures….  Because if the moral meaning and purpose of your existence as a far-left liberal rests on my suffering and victimization as a black person, then you will need me to suffer indefinitely in order to continue to cull some meaning and purpose from your life.” 

Beyond being labeled a traitor to his race, Hill suffered professionally for his non-racial, self-reliant, capitalist beliefs in the corrupt halls of academia.  In that setting Hill struggled mightily for admission to numerous graduate schools (despite having excellent qualifications) and was ultimately denied tenure by his “far-left, postmodern, Marxist-infected” colleagues (despite possessing a sterling teaching and publication record). Fortunately, this essentially “racist” decision for the “uppity” black professor was overturned by the university’s president who was, uncharacteristically, “a huge fan” of Hill’s work.

Adding fuel to the fire of leftist hatred is this hard-to-refute argument: “I adduce my own life as evidence of the utter nonsense of this [minorities-as-victims] narrative.”  That life included interactions with countless whites in and around Stone Mountain, Georgia -- an area once considered (and by leftists still considered) Klan country.  Here in the late-80s Caribbean families bought homes and conversed with neighbors “in utter fearlessness.”   “None of us ever missed a night’s sleep,” Hill notes.  Indeed, his grandmother went to an all-white church, “and soon she was its most beloved parishioner.”

In addition to his own experience, Hill relates with sympathy the stories of many non-white immigrant friends.  Dinesh, for example, was an “untouchable” in his native India but was “embraced as an equal” by Hill’s friends, a group that included “foreigners from all over the world” as well as white Southerners.  Hill provides the most detail when discussing the success story of Thai, a young Vietnamese man who couldn’t speak English but who, with the help of his friends, was able to learn enough of the language to gain admission to Georgia State University and later to open his own restaurant.  Thai, who ultimately graduated magna cum laude, accomplished all this with no help from his family in Vietnam -- “illiterate peasants too poor even to visit.”

Countless stories like Thai’s refute the assertion by black academicians like Ta-Nehisi Coates that the American Dream is an illusion -- that it is not only unattainable for blacks and immigrants but also a denial of their true cultural selves.  In a touching episode near the book’s end, Hill contacts Thai by phone twenty years later and is “shocked to hear the American twang in his accent.”  Thai, who made additional money in the stock market and real estate, had sold his “three restaurants” and moved to Los Angeles to be closer to his grandchildren.  All this success occurred after his first restaurant failed. When asked by Hill what he now thought about America, Thai replied, “America has brought me where I am.  I can’t imagine a world without, you know, this place.”  So much for Ta-Nehisi Coates and his America-hating cohorts.  

Hill’s love for America has as its logical corollary a passionate hatred for America’s corrupt universities.  “The biggest breach in this country,” Hill declares, “is not between blacks and whites.  It is between the intellectuals and the people.”  Put more succinctly, “The American professoriat hates America!”  Consequently, the author boldly declares a remedy that would do wonders were it actually implemented: “The solution is not just to defund the American humanities and social science departments in current universities, but to also shut them down entirely and rebuild them from scratch.”  Beyond seeking the unlikely defunding of these institutions by the government and alumni, Hill’s “rebuild from scratch” prescription appears to be, for all its rhetorical merit, a Dream too far. 

Overall, Hill’s book is marvelous for its use of personal details to bolster profound psycho-political insights. On occasions, however, the author’s academic language detracts from his mostly engrossing narrative.  This “scholarly” tilt often produces needlessly complex and extended formulations.  (The term “metaphysical,” for example, appears as a qualifier dozens of times.)  This problem unfortunately characterizes much of Hill’s introduction.  I would advise readers to skip all but the first few pages of that section and to read the intro in full after finishing the book.  One other problem I had was the insertion of material where Hill describes, with poetic sensitivity to be sure, his own battle with suicide -- a struggle that was not linked clearly to any professional or political issues and had a familial precedent.

That said, Hill’s book is well worth reading for its glowing tribute to America, its penetrating insight into the essentially racist mentality of the left, and its concrete examples of these two conclusions.     

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?"  is also available on Kindle 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Golf's Latest Sacrificial Victim

Brittany Lincicome is the latest sacrificial lamb to be offered on the altar of gender equality.  This talented and successful professional golfer on the LPGA tour was thrown last week into the lion's den of men's professional golf.  The result at the Barbasol Open near Lexington, Kentucky was predictable but will doubtless be spun in the direction gender ideologues insist on.

Lincicome failed to make the cut, finishing five over par after two rounds.  The cut (consisting of the top seventy players and ties) was at two under par.  ESPN's stable of P.C. clowns (which now includes the "worst person in the world," Keith Olbermann) will doubtless note that her second round was under par and that she did better than a dozen male golfers.  Omitted from their reportage will be the fact that the leading score after two rounds was fifteen under par (twenty strokes better than Lincicome) and that some of the guys she "beat" actually had lower scores but withdrew from the competition when it was obvious they wouldn't be around the following rain-delayed day.  Two other males she bested (while the top PGA players struggled overseas) were fifty-three and fifty-seven years of age.

No one should doubt that Lincicome is a good golfer and a superb female golfer.  I am sure she would beat me by a dozen strokes on almost any course, but then so would almost any good high school golfer.  The issue here isn't whether some female athletes can beat many or even most men.  It's why folks in elite media and corporate ivory towers keep putting female golfers in positions where they are certain to fail – at least by the standards applied to male golfers. 

That last clause is critical.  No male golfer would be touted for failing to make a cut and finishing near the bottom of his fellow competitors.  But whenever a female "accomplishes" this feat, P.C. prima donnas with microphones hail another "shattering of the glass ceiling."  Ignored in all this virtue-signaling is the glass-shattering damage that might be done by throwing good athletes into competition that's above their heads – an unintended consequence that also applies to many affirmative action placements.  More importantly, elites ignore the profound social damage that's done by pretending males and females are equal in every respect. 

Poor Michelle Wie was almost destroyed by the P.C. rush to prove she was as good as any male golfer, an ideologically fueled imperative that led to a string of eight missed cuts (with increasingly poor scores) that started in 2004 when Michelle was a mere fourteen years old and ended four years later.  Fortunately, the great Annika Sorenstam had already established her Hall of Fame credentials with dozens of LPGA and European wins when she missed the cut at Fort Worth's Colonial tournament in 2003 – a result that didn't deter P.C. enthusiasts from insisting on their nature-be-damned beliefs with young Miss Wie.

The fundamental mendacity that permeates "gender equality" lunacy is illustrated by the taglines that accompany Babe Zaharias's forays into men's golf.  A tremendous multi-sport Olympic medalist, Mrs. Zaharias (née Didrikson) made the 36-hole cut at the L.A. Open but failed to make the 54-hole cut.  She is nevertheless hailed as "the only woman to make the cut in a PGA Tour event."  Never mind that in January of 1945, there was this thing called World War II going on and that Zaharias's score of twenty-three over par after three rounds was hardly stellar.  Moreover, at that time, the L.A. Open, according to the Golf Historical Society, "was not a regular tour event, and was played for War Bonds by both professionals and a sprinkling of amateurs."   

A PGA website, "The history of women playing in men's PGA Tour events," further misleads folks by observing that Zaharias also "made the cut" in 1945 at Phoenix and Tucson.  In fact, though Zaharias "qualified" for these War Bond tournaments, the Arizona Daily Star's 2006 historical retrospective of the Tucson event noted, "The Babe finished 39 shots off the lead, but ahead of five men in the 47-player field."  Joining in the mendacity, an online Phoenix magazine observed that Zaharias "made the cut" in the Phoenix Open and finished thirty-third, failing to add that "thirty-third" (in a field of unknown size) amounted to being thirty strokes behind the eventual winner, Byron Nelson.

We are all supposed to nod our heads and pretend, along with our progressive betters, that these "accomplishments" prove that women can do anything men can do – and do it just as well.  So if a 29-year-old Billie Jean King beats a 55-year-old has-been, Bobby Riggs, this result presumably indicates some kind of equality of the sexes.  (I had forgotten that Riggs had just demolished Margaret Court, who, as even a P.C. "Battle of the Sexes" website puts it, "was in the midst of a career that produced more Grand Slam singles titles than any other player – man or woman.")  This "man or woman" coda is now ubiquitous among sport commentators, implicitly declaring that any accomplishment in women's sports is equal to any accomplishment in men's sports – an assumption that works as long as fans are dutifully aware of their P.C. obligations and the sport in question doesn't involve stopwatches, weightlifting, or specific distances like shot-putting.

Just once I would like to see a female officer on "Cops" take down a large male suspect like Lt. Benson regularly does on "Law and Order."  Unfortunately, in the military and various other occupations for which upper body strength is crucial, Hollywood fantasy doesn't reflect the real world.  Perhaps when some girl gets severely injured playing football with the guys, folks may wake up to the obvious truth, but I doubt it.  Instead, they'll focus on football's violence while sticking their P.C. heads in the "gender equality" sand and dreaming of a future in which male-female distinctions are a thing of the past. 

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy: "Who's to Say?" is available on Kindle.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

12 RULES FOR LIFE: AN ANTIDOTE TO CHAOS by Jordan Peterson Touchstone Book Review

Dr. Jordan Peterson has recently been all over TV and the Internet making a number of
courageous, politically incorrect observations. The comment that has most driven the PC crowd
to distraction is the now heretical claim that boys and girls are actually different both physically
and psychologically—an assertion that the self-proclaimed party of science doubts in spite of
evidence that has been “settled” for at least half a century.
Now comes Peterson’s new book, 12 Rules for Life—a work that not only provides extensive
evidence of how the sexes differ but also gives “progressives” even more reasons for conducting
hate sessions against the Canadian psychologist. Among the author’s PC transgressions is his
trenchant protest against know-it-all ideologues who ought to put their own houses in order
before criticizing the world. Peterson notes that beneath a pose of limitless compassion these
self-styled savants typically exhibit personal psychological aberrations detectable in their
adherence to utopian belief systems that subject existing reality to constant criticism.
Part and parcel of this ideologically fed self-deception is a hatred of tradition, a lack of gratitude
to one’s forebears, and an unwillingness to listen to anyone who doesn’t reflect one’s own views. To
the great chagrin of leftists, Peterson repeatedly cites the disastrous and murderous failures of
communism to illustrate these points. His comments about the destructive unwillingness to
tolerate dissent would have been even more cogent, however, if he had aimed them directly at
academic dogmatists and college snowflakes who fail to acknowledge that “the person you are
listening to might know something you don’t.” Another obvious but neglected target of this
principle would be the “climate change” ideologues.

Wisdom from the Lion’s Den
Here is a sampling of the many worthwhile observations proffered by Peterson in his book:
(1) The “insistence that all gender differences are socially constructed” is “insane.” (2) Ideas that
are “new and radical” are “almost always wrong.” (3) “To think about culture only as oppressive
is ignorant and ungrateful, as well as dangerous.” Furthermore, “there isn’t a shred of hard
evidence . . . that Western society is pathologically patriarchal” or “that the prime lesson of
history is that men, rather than nature, were the primary source of the oppression of women.”
(Five-minute PC hate session to follow!) (4) “It took untold generations to get you where you are.
A little gratitude might be in order.” (5) “Parents should come in pairs” because it is incredibly
difficult to raise children alone. (6) “Children in father-absent homes are four times as likely to
be poor” and “twice as likely to commit suicide” as children whose fathers are present and active
in the home. (7) Hierarchies are pervasive in nature. Thus, human hierarchies are inevitable and
not necessarily oppressive since “the collective pursuit of any valued goal produces a hierarchy.”
(8) Evil is real. Some actions are “intrinsically terrible” and “run counter to the proper nature of
human Being.” (9) Columbine murderer Eric Harris simply took to its practical conclusion David
Attenborough’s spectacularly egotistical ecological judgment that humans are a “plague” on the
planet and the Club of Rome’s view that humanity is a “cancer” within nature.
These observations, which have made Peterson a folk hero in some quarters and a reactionary
villain in others, aren’t among the specific “rules” that comprise the book’s twelve chapters, but
are comments made within those chapters. The rules themselves, which form the chapter titles,
Peterson drew largely from problems he confronted in his clinical work. Here are the first three:
Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are
responsible for helping. Rule 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you. As these
examples show, 12 Rules for Life contains many poignant observations—backed by scientific
evidence, as well as the author’s professional interactions and personal experience—that run
counter to the politically correct nostrums that permeate our culture.

A Few Caveats
Readers should be aware, however, of the verbal terrain they often must traverse to arrive at
these gems. Chapter one, for example, begins with a lengthy description of lobster and wren
territoriality, only one of a number of socio-biological detours the reader will be sent on throughout
the book. Moreover, Peterson often gives extended Jungian interpretations to biblical stories and
religious symbols—a fact that might lead a reader to wonder whether, for the author, God has been
reduced to little more than a psychological abstraction.
Nevertheless, if readers are able to overlook a lack of conciseness and to embrace the much-
neglected “rule” of actually listening to someone who isn’t an intellectual clone of themselves, they
will find Dr. Peterson’s book well worth perusing. After all, a good man is often recognized by the
enemies he makes.

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California whose book Moral Illiteracy:
“Who’s to Say?” is also available on Kindle.