Sunday, August 21, 2016

I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already, by Roger L. Simon

Why do few people change their political views “even in the face of literally earthshaking world events” like 9/11?  Roger Simon’s answer to that question is “moral narcissism.”  His book explains the nature and consequences of this malady that was largely spawned by members of the “Least Great Generation,” folks, including the author (1943), born during or shortly before World War Two -- radical-wannabes that include John Lennon (1940), Tom Hayden (1939), Abbie Hoffman (1936), and Gloria Steinem (1934).    

An illustration of moral narcissism not employed by Simon is the Seinfeld character, Elaine -- a woman whose sense of moral worth is derived from opinions that coincide with fashionable progressivism (Greenpeace activism, contempt for pro-lifers, contempt for her boyfriend’s “Jesus fish,” contempt for Christian music radio presets, contempt for women wearing fur coats).  Despite a largely self-centered, shallow, and promiscuous life, Elaine is convinced she’s a “good humanitarian” and proves it by self-consciously complimenting her waitress on “doing a great job.”  

The examples provided by Simon, unfortunately, aren’t fictional and have had disastrous, perhaps fatal, consequences for the nation -- fashionable anti-capitalist Marxism (espoused by thousands of well-compensated professors as well as Pope Francis); a nostalgia for racism that stokes racial hatred by inventing micro-aggressions that supposedly explain and thus excuse black criminality; climate-change ideologues who declare the issue settled (a ridiculously anti-scientific assertion) and who label anyone who dissents from the media-enforced consensus (even MIT’s premier climatologist, Richard Lindzen) a “denier.”   

Radical environmentalism is another arena where moral narcissism flourishes, a movement whose DDT ban, spawned in 1962 by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, led to hundreds of thousands of malaria deaths in Africa.  Then there is the non-judgmental, all-religions-are-equal view of Islam that blames Western imperialism for causing terrorism -- a pat-oneself-on-the-back brand of “tolerance” that ignores or chooses to remain ignorant of Islam’s bloody, expansionist history prior to the era of Western imperialism.

The primary goal of moral narcissism is not “to do” good, but rather “to feel” good about oneself for having “the right opinion”-- i.e. opinions promulgated by those who deem themselves superior by virtue of their “enlightened” views.  These moral mandarins consist primarily of left-wing politicians, leftist academicians, the mainstream media, and almost all the entertainment industry.  Like Seinfeld’s Elaine, it isn’t how one lives one’s life that counts; it’s the political and moral slogans one mouths.  Indeed, the moral stature gained from being politically au currant serves as absolution for what used to count as personal moral failings -- an arena where non-judgmentalism is demanded by political correctness, at least with respect to ideological soulmates.   

Sympathy for Fidel Castro boosts one’s moral standing since Castro supposedly believes in a utopian socialist state where folks contribute according to their abilities and receive according to their needs.  Never mind that the dictator lives “a lifestyle, including yachts and private islands, that would be the envy of George Soros, while his citizens suffer in penury under constant surveillance, the specter of imprisonment looming.”  Identifying with various victim groups and spouting politically correct mantras likewise “allows Hillary Clinton to go from undergraduate Alinskyite to Chappaqua plutocrat with a net worth in the tens of millions without missing a beat.”  The destructive consequences of leftist policies for minorities aren’t what matter.  What matters is that Hillary and the current narcissist-in-chief feel morally superior to Rubes in flyover country.

Just when you think Simon is becoming tiresome (as he does when repeating polling statistics about gay marriage) he provides a critical insight in chapter 24 that should have been placed near the book’s beginning: “Moral narcissism . . . is a way of explaining away evil, blaming all ills on social causes and therefore pushing back the necessity of examining the human soul or one’s own, of not seeing the possible darkness within . . . moral narcissism obscures reality and therefore threatens democracy. That not everything is perfectible, that there is evil in the world, and that evil is likely to remain forever.” In short, self-scrutiny is replaced with verbal orthodoxies promulgated by an American nomenklatura eager to secure moral status, financial perquisites, and a stream of personal indulgences by endlessly repeating politically correct slogans that are overwhelmingly destructive when applied to the real world -- slogans that promise financial and personal retribution for “bigoted” dissenters.

One major mistake in Simon’s analysis is his wrongheaded O’Reillyish attempt to appear “fair and balanced” by briefly pointing to moral narcissism on the right -- as if opposition to gay marriage or to abortion on demand were in the same league as vacuous shibboleths like refusing to acknowledge radical Islamic terrorism.  Far from being rewarded for the former views, believers are ostracized and punished by the dominant P.C. culture.  Moreover, no serious Christian or Jew would use these moral views to evade self-scrutiny.  Simon’s brief foray into narcissistic equivalence has the effect of putting serious, self-sacrificial morality in the same category as a self-deluding political ruse that rejects any morality existing outside the self -- as if principled abolitionists would be biased “moral narcissists” not much different from slaveholders who mouthed the slogan “popular sovereignty.”

This same confusion infects Simon’s final chapter, which presents his self-proclaimed “bias” as a neocon-libertarian, someone who favors intervention abroad and libertarian lassitude at home. The latter part of that equation does, indeed, represent a degree of “moral narcissism” on the author’s part, allowing him a small measure of expiation from colleagues in the fields of literature and entertainment for the grievous sin of rejecting, for the most part, the self-inflating worldview they embrace with a frantic death grip.

Despite these lapses, Simon’s book is well worth the time taken to understand the head-snapping moral contradictions that permeate the worlds of George Soros (chapter 21!), Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.         

Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary and Obama Blamed for Benghazi, by Kenneth Timmerman

This book by Ken Timmerman contains several blockbuster claims that match Wag the Dog deception in their audacity -- claims backed with evidence ranging from extremely solid to highly plausible.  In the former category is the assertion that neither the Cairo riots on September 11, 2012, nor the Benghazi attacks that began later that night were inspired by the infamous YouTube video produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the shady Coptic Egyptian living in Southern California.   

By now informed observers concede the latter point, but most are unaware of the evidence demonstrating that the earlier Cairo riot had long been focused on demanding release of the Blind Sheikh.  As Timmerman puts it, the one-minute, thirty second “Arabic language trailer, which virtually nobody had actually seen, was only tacked on at the last minute to attract additional bodies to a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that had long been in the works.  It did not drive the crowds, or the organizers.  It was simply an afterthought.”  Indeed, on September 10, in an interview with the Blind Sheikh’s son and the brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, CNN reporter Nic Robertson explained, “This is the protest calling for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman” -- an interview that all but disappeared from CNN’s website after the media eagerly adopted Obama and Clinton’s YouTube spin on both Cairo and Benghazi. 

In Deception, Timmerman provides an Afterword that focuses on the Iranian Quds Force commanders who were actually behind the well-organized and long-planned Benghazi raid.  Anyone desiring more details on that attack, however, should consult Timmerman’s previous work, Dark Forces: The Truth About Benghazi (2014).  Even when it became obvious (after the Presidential election) that the White House YouTube explanation was  deceptive, little information was provided about the terrorists actually involved -- and none was disseminated about the central role played by an Iranian regime the Administration was eager to portray as a reasonable treaty partner.      

Perhaps the most damning assertion in Deception is the claim, backed by substantial evidence, that the Obama Administration intentionally promoted the YouTube video so that, in the aftermath of Benghazi, it actually became a cause celebre in the Muslim world.  Obviously the “promotion” of the video was accomplished via denunciation, but the $70,000 spent for air time on seven Pakistani television channels “only served to further inflame Muslims and to spark more violent protests: 83 in all, by the time it died down a month later.” Journalists facilitated this audacious project by gullibly repeating the blame-the-video narrative that was “pre-cooked and spoon-fed” to them “by anonymous sources at the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”     

The shadowy internet vehicle for widespread dissemination of the video was NewsPoliticsNow, whose NPN3 channel not only removed the video after it went viral but also went off the air and “erased all trace of its existence -- at least to ordinary users.”  NewsPoliticsNow appears to be related to a company called Stanley, Inc. which, according to its website “provides services to the U.S. federal, civilian, defense and intelligence agencies.”  Stanley, Inc., in turn, has as its corporate parent, CGI, the group that “won the initial $678 million contract to build the Obamacare website” and whose Senior Vice-President, Toni Townes-Whitley has “long-standing ties to First Lady Michelle Obama.”  Moreover, other top Stanley and CGI execs “are big Democrat party donors” and CGI Federal president, Donna A. Ryan “enjoyed high-level access to top Obama administration officials.” 

In short, Timmerman provides readers with numerous indicators that the Obama administration helped the video go viral while creating the impression that they had “absolutely nothing to do with it.”  The immediate goal of this deception was to deflect responsibility from the administration for the disaster in Benghazi, but another benefit was to create public pressure for what became (via Nakoula’s dubious imprisonment) backdoor enforcement of blasphemy laws in the U.S.  After all, Secretary Clinton not only promised grieving relatives that the maker of the video would be punished, she also “embraced news laws banning blasphemy as Secretary of State and instructed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations to vote in favor of them, reversing years of U.S. opposition.”  UN Resolution 16/18, which includes serious restrictions on free speech, was apparently being utilized by DOJ official, Tom Perez, when, instead of assuring Congressman Trent Franks that the Department of Justice would “never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against a religion” instead responded by criticizing “hate speech” and “racist speech” -- a detour consistent with Perez’s past support for the idea that criticism of Islam constitutes racial discrimination.

Unfortunately, the preceding topics constitute less than half of Timmerman’s book.  The rest of the work is largely devoted to the legal and personal woes of Cindy Lee Garcia, the actress who, unwittingly, portrayed the mother of the young pre-pubescent girl (Aisha) given to Muhammad as one of his many brides.  While Cindy’s story merits inclusion on a summary basis (especially in light of Google’s unusual unwillingness to remove the offensive video promptly and that corporate giant’s close White House ties) many readers will be distracted by the space devoted to Cindy’s thoughts and travails.  Yes, Google and probably the White House were putting Cindy through a legal and personal hell, but at the same time dozens of folks were being killed abroad because of the Administration’s strategy of deception.  Meanwhile, the American public was being bamboozled in the midst of a Presidential election.  Finally, the video-maker wound up in prison for several months, for what was, de facto if not de jure, a blasphemy charge.  Anyone wishing to focus primarily on the major issues outlined in the review above might want to employ other Timmerman materials -- or read this book selectively.