All posts filed under: Politics

Camille Paglia and the Battle of the Sexes

In the opening to what I consider the most important chapter in Camille Paglia’s new book, Free Women, Free Men—Chapter 17: “The Modern Battle of the Sexes”—Paglia writes the following:  As the millennium approaches, we can look back on 200 years of women’s advance in society after the Industrial Revolution. Women all over the world are moving, country by country, into positions of power in business and politics. That progress is inevitable and unstoppable. However, as we survey personal relationships, it is clear that the sexual weather is cloudy and stormy. There is an atmosphere of tension, of suspicion, of mutual recrimination between the sexes which feminism has not helped but in fact materially worsened. How did we get to this point? What prognosis is there for the future? Unlike Paglia, who’s both a Baby Boomer and a lesbian, I’m a wife and mother who hails from Generation X. I have a daughter who’s 17 and a son who’s 14, so my investment in the question Paglia asks about the future is more personal than …

How a Culture of Outrage Is Stifling Political Satire

Trump’s presidency should be a golden age for political satire. With the White House engaged in a seemingly endless trail of controversies and absurdities, late night talk show hosts, satirical writers, sketch shows, and cartoonists are being handed some of the richest material of their careers. Unfortunately satirists must also contend with a creeping culture of outrage that is desperate to find offence. While satire is often controversial, it has become increasingly common for it to be accused of bigotry where none exists. Especially worrying is that this outrage is exacerbated by news outlets and those who work for them; people who should be able to provide context and a nuanced understanding of satire rather than contributing to the hysteria. During both the election cycle and Trump’s current administration, there has been a proliferation of images reimagining Trump and Vladimir Putin as lovers. SNL had Alec Baldwin’s Trump plant a kiss on Beck Bennett’s Putin in their last show before Americans went to the polls. A recent cover of the Economist depicts Putin and Trump facing each …

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Explains How To Combat Political Islam

What happens when we let fear, muddled thinking, ignorance, and political correctness guide us in confronting a threat to our constitutional freedoms? We lose everything. In the United States, our ability to enjoy our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness rests largely on the protection the First Amendment accords to freedom of speech and its corollary, the freedom to exercise the religion of our choice – or, of course, to profess no religion at all. It follows, then, that we should both vigorously defend the First Amendment and subject to withering criticism any challenges to it. If we begin dodging or concealing the truth about a threat to free speech, whether out of fear of appearing improper or even of knowing the consequences, we place ourselves at risk of losing our freedom of speech – and everything else we cherish in a democracy. Speech consists of words. Words and how we use them matter. So, in the annals of self-defeating political inanities, the Obama administration’s term for Islamist terrorism – “violent extremism” – stands out …

When Good Men Fail to Stand Up to Danger

I spent most of last Wednesday watching the news from Westminster. Unfortunately, keeping an eye on the BBC News channel as reports of a terrorist attack in Europe filter through has taken up much of my time in recent years. Usually, the newsreaders quickly run out of verified details and resort to repeating the same headlines on repeat until new facts become available. The coverage of the Westminster attack followed the same pattern but with one change. Soon after the attack, it became clear that MP Tobias Ellwood – who served in the Royal Green Jackets during the 90s – had rushed into the danger as other fled in order to give emergency CPR to the fatally wounded PC Keith Palmer. For the best part of two days, tributes to Ellwood’s stunning bravery kept coming. Journalists, who were generally opposed to sharing images of the attack, circulated the photo of Ellwood hunched over PC Palmer. Most MPs in parliament on Thursday, the day after the attack, included some tribute to Ellwood and his heroism in …

The Troubles and The Terror

It is rather ironic that a day after the death of Martin McGuinness, terrorism was inflicted on Londoners. Once it was the Irishman’s Republican movement that was the leading cause of terrorism in Britain. From the 1970s to the 1990s dozens of bombs exploded in London alone. Outside the House of Commons, for example, in 1979, where five innocents would be killed thirty-two years later, Airey Neave MP died when an explosion blew his legs off. In the Docklands bombing, twenty-one years ago, the IRA killed two men and did a hundred and fifty million pounds worth of damage. That bombing was in revenge for Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Republicans, being excluded from peace talks. The British government accepted their demands and the IRA slowly began its decommissioning. Years on, Martin McGuinness shook hands with the Queen and was considered a statesman and not a terrorist. It is difficult to imagine the time when Republicans and loyalists were slaughtering each other. It is painful to remember. It is also impolitic. So, as …

How the Social Justice Movement Fuels Corporate Capitalism

Before diving into a topic I’m sure will prove controversial, I want to start by clarifying that, as my other articles or my book Modern Sexuality can attest, I am very much pro-social justice. This piece is about how social justice has gone off the rails and been co-opted by capitalist or, dare I say, corporatist influences. Secondly, I am not anti-capitalist, in the sense of individuals having free rights to produce whatever product or service the market demands and receiving a fair price in return. Rather, I am opposed to unfettered, corporatist capitalism in which corporations create monopolies and influence politics and culture mainly to serve their business interests. With that out of the way, let’s go back to the fall of 2008 to examine how the social justice movement lost its way. On September 24, then-President George Bush made a special appearance on TV to warn the American public that the economy was on the verge of collapse. Several weeks prior, investment bank Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy, producing a domino effect and taking the …

Platitudes About Terrorism Are Not Helping

Yesterday afternoon, a terrorist drove a 4×4 car onto the footpath of Westminster Bridge, mowing down pedestrians, maiming dozens and killing four people. Among the dead was a British police officer, Keith Palmer, a husband and a father. The British Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack “sick and depraved”. Yet it did not take long for others to put forward defensive statements: To an alien newly arrived from Jupiter it would appear that we humans on Earth merely have to say what we are and we magically become that thing. Witness all the debates about on campus about gender and racial and disabled identity. But terrorists who memorise the Quran, shout Allahu Akbar as they plough into pedestrians and—most importantly—self-identify as Muslim, are told by the liberal left “Nope, sorry. Not a Muslim”. When someone says “terrorism has no religion” they need to start by defining religion. Is Scientology religion? Is Scientology pure and virtuous and the people who do evil things in its name simply not real Scientologists? Were the Crusaders not real …

Using Social Media Scientifically

It is often said that we need more science in our public debate. By this, it is usually meant that people should base their views on scientific facts, which have more authority than mere opinion. It is said that political leaders and public commentators should be both scientifically literate, and base their views on scientific findings where it is relevant to do so. While this is a noble goal, it is not what I’m proposing here. Instead, I’d like to argue that we should attempt, on a day-to-day basis, to approach social media and news consumption scientifically. What do I mean by ‘scientifically’? Social media, and the internet more broadly, have afforded us tremendous potential to access information, and to interact with people beyond our immediate social circles. Interacting with others helps us to develop our knowledge of the world by digesting information, disseminating it, or engaging in dialogue about it. We can test our views about the world—however informal or loosely formed they are—against the views of others. However, social media debates can often …

On Betrayal by the Left – Talking with Ex-Muslim Sarah Haider

In twenty-first-century America, what happens to a young woman who has wised up and quit a faith-based ideology that ordains the second-class status of women, the submissiveness of wives to husbands (even violent husbands), the partial disinheritance of female heirs in favor of their male counterparts, the stoning of adulterers (and especially adulteresses, given the misogynistic vagaries of evidentiary law associated with said ideology), the taking of captive women as sex slaves, the adherence to a cumbersome dress code, and that also sanctions the savagery of female genital mutilation? Does she win plaudits for standing up her for rights as a woman? Do progressives recite panegyrics that sing her courage and praise her clear-sightedness? Is she inundated with offers of support? Does she feel, perhaps for the first time in her life, that the United States, her adopted country – the only country on Earth established, at least according to its foundational documents, on the rights to free speech, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – wholly and unreservedly welcomes her as one of its …

A Conservative Defence of Refugee Rights

Recently, conservative governments on both sides of the Atlantic have been working hard to make refugee migration more difficult. In the United States, Donald Trump signed an executive order shortly after his inauguration blocking refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. In the United Kingdom, the government has announced that the Dubs programme, a scheme to resettle unaccompanied child refugees, will be closed down. When the ‘Dubs amendment’ to the Immigration Act passed last year, its supporters thought that Britain had committed to taking in 3000 child refugees. By the time the scheme is discontinued this month, Britain will have resettled only 350. Both moves now face legal action, with some significant progress already made in the American courts. But even as we let the lawyers work to protect civil liberties, it is imperative that conservatives make amends for their recent failure to stand up for refugee rights. Conservatives are supposed to be the political stewards of life, liberty, responsibility, and inheritance. But on the issue of refugee rights, we are failing our characteristically staunch commitment to these values. Conservatives’ concern for human life leads many …