State of the Culture: Reviewing Trump

By Jonathon Van Maren

Finally, finally someone is addressing the perpetual nonsense about Donald Trump channelling “legitimate anger” and how we should “respect” the dumpster fire that is the Trump campaign. From the always-brilliant David French over at the National Review:

For generations, conservatives have rightly railed against deterministic progressive notions that put human choices at the mercy of race, class, history, or economics. Those factors can create additional challenges, but they do not relieve any human being of the moral obligation to do their best.  Yet millions of Americans aren’t doing their best. Indeed, they’re barely trying. As I’ve related before, my church in Kentucky made a determined attempt to reach kids and families that were falling between the cracks, and it was consistently astounding how little effort most parents and their teen children made to improve their lives. If they couldn’t find a job in a few days — or perhaps even as little as a few hours — they’d stop looking. If they got angry at teachers or coaches, they’d drop out of school. If they fought with their wife, they had sex with a neighbor. And always — always — there was a sense of entitlement.

And that’s where disability or other government programs kicked in. They were there, beckoning, giving men and women alternatives to gainful employment. You don’t have to do any work (your disability lawyer does all the heavy lifting), you make money, and you get drugs. At our local regional hospital, it’s become a bitter joke the extent to which the community is hooked on “Xanatab” — the Xanax and Lortab prescriptions that lead to drug dependence.

Of course we should have compassion even as we call on people to do better. I have compassion for kids who often see the worst behavior modeled at home. I have compassion for families facing economic uncertainty. But compassion can’t excuse or enable self-destructive moral failures.

Exactly right—but a very, very unpopular view. Kevin D. Williamson, also of the National Review, has reported from “poor white America” and wrote a face-melting column earlier this week:

It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about “globalists” and — odious, stupid term — “the Establishment,” but nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.

If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are.

It wasn’t any of that. Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.

The truth is that Donald Trump’s rise is the triumph of cheap celebrity and a symptom of our cheap, trashy pop culture. And while it might not be a popular thing to say, a lot of that pop culture is being consumed by precisely the group of people that French and Williamson are going after. Is it any wonder that Trump’s pitchfork-waving mob have been consistently impervious to those who point out that Trump is not a conservative, a Christian, or even a good person? Why should they care? After all, there is a strong likelihood that his followers aren’t, either.

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Barbara Kay is in fine form over at the National Post, dismantling the historical amnesia and general jackassery of progressive left-wing academia:

It is disgraceful that this odious name should adorn any academic award whatsoever. Students burning with righteous zeal should demand its withdrawal. But righteousness on campuses today is more likely to express itself in opposition to Western icons, especially if they are dead white males of European provenance. Wilfrid Laurier University activists, for example, worked to derail (and have apparently succeed in derailing) the Prime Minister Statue Project, a Canada 150 Sesquicentennial initiative, because some of our 22 former prime ministers (and most everyone else alive at the time) were racially insensitive.

Over many years of observing what piques progressives’ indignation and shouldn’t, as well as what should, but doesn’t, I have decided that left-wing ideologues suffer from the political equivalent of a neurological syndrome called “hemispatial neglect.” Those afflicted with hemispatial neglect lose recognition of space on one entire side of the body. It isn’t that they want to see what’s on the side that is lost to them and cannot, it is that they have lost awareness that there is another side. Give them a plate of food, and they will only eat the food on the side they can see, but they will believe they have finished their meal. Ask them to draw a line down the middle of their body and they will draw the line through the middle of their perceptive side.

So it is with radical progressives. For them, inherent evil only resides on the right. The notion of inherent evil on the left does not compute for them. (The terms “right” and “left” are, practically speaking, placeholders for white, Western civilization and just about everybody else.) Progressives will occasionally accept that there can be “excess” or “extremism” on the left, but such excesses, they believe, find their root causes in the inherent evils — imperialism, misogyny, racism — attached to the West and to white people.

And so, because of this hemispatial neglect, there will never be Hitler scholarships, but scholarships in the name of Mao, Fidel and Che are admissible. Zionism — the movement for return to Jews’ historic homeland — is inherently evil, and its proponents fair game for denunciation and exclusion, because it is associated with white Western intellectuals, but all non-white peoples have the right to their own homeland.

Vietnam protesters denounced “Amerika,” but the Khmer Rouge disappeared into the black hole of hemispatial neglect. Left-wing artists wouldn’t perform in Franco’s Spain, but they had no problem playing in Communist-occupied Hungary. Ditto for celebrities today — boycott Israel, sing for Hamas. Mau Mau and Black Panther violence was a by-product of imperialism and slavery; white on black brutality is the inherent evil of racism. The security fence between Israel and the West Bank is an “apartheid wall;” the security wall between Egypt and Gaza is in the black hole. Misogyny is an inherent evil of men in the West; gender apartheid in Islamic countries is a non-issue.

Worst of all, because they consider their partial vision on issues like the patriarchy, colonialism and racism to be whole, it seems to progressives both logical and ethical to deny what they consider to be phantom dissenting opinions any voice in the forums they control.

The neurological version of hemispatial neglect is not curable, but it can be mitigated by “rewards” for good performance on visual attention tasks. But for the campus variety of hemispatial neglect, where, with so many patients and so few therapists, would one even begin?

I’m sure that those who need to read Kay’s column will not. At the moment, they’re far too busy distributing petitions to get rid of Sir John A. McDonald statues on Canadian university campuses.

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Just in case you wanted to have nightmares, there’s also this story over at World Magazine:

Christian and family groups in Scotland are making a last ditch effort to stop implementation of a new law that would assign a state guardian to every child in Scotland. While supporters claim the comprehensive legislation will streamline child welfare agency processes, opponents argue the plan to appoint a government-employed “named person” for every child violates human rights and infringes on privacy.

“[The law is] an insult to the fundamental human rights of mums and dads to bring up their children the way they see fit,” said Colin Hart, director of The Christian Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the case. He added that there is no way for parents to opt-out or be the named person for their own child.

The law, approved in 2014 and set to go into effect in August, assigns a guardian—a teacher, nurse, midwife, social worker, or other government-employed person—to monitor the “wellbeing” of every Scottish child from birth to age 18. The named person would have access to school, medical, and legal documents and be able to intervene if necessary. For example, doctors prescribing birth control to teenage girls would be required to tell the girl’s named person, but not her parents, according to Aidan O’Neill, the attorney representing the law’s opponents before the U.K. Supreme Court.

As part of the new requirements, administrators will ask children questions in school designed to flag situations needing intervention, reporting the results to their named person. Younger children will be asked questions using prompt cards, songs, and activities to assess their home life, according toreporting by the Scottish Mail. Older children will be asked questions on topics ranging from sexual health to their relationship with their parents. Answers will be stored on local databases.

Opponents argue normal, caring Scottish parents should not have to fear unwanted investigations into their family life because of doctor’s appointments or school questionnaires.

“A major problem with the named person professionals is that they appear to have lost any sense of the family as an important private institution for society,” said Stuart Waiton, a doctor and senior sociology lecturer at Abertay University in Dundee. “Once we see every child as vulnerable and every family as potentially toxic, the result is that professionals see less of a problem with interfering in the private lives of children and parents.”

But supporters argue the law is a safety net for children and families, and a way for families to access support when they need it. They also claim the named person will be a single point of contact, able to streamline information sharing between various agencies.

“The named person isn’t someone new or unknown,” said a Scottish government spokesperson, according to the Herald Scotland. “It is a person who is already working with the child and family, and simply strengthens that strong relationship.”

Four pro-family organizations, The Christian Institute, CARE, TYMES Trust, and the Family Education Trust, appealed to the U.K. Supreme Court after three judges from the Inner House of the Court of Session ruled in favor of the law last year. Five judges on the Supreme Court in London heard the case last week and will rule in the next few months. 

poll commissioned by The Times newspaper found almost half of Scots are opposed to the law and fewer than a third support it. The Supreme Court has halted implementation of the law until it rules. 

Governments never stop growing until people stop them from growing. They will increase their influence and power, extending it into the home of each and every citizen, until there is no practical difference between what we have and what the Soviets did. Be vigilant.

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2 thoughts on “State of the Culture: Reviewing Trump

  1. Sean O'Brien says:

    The paltry social welfare and the lack of health care for the poor, paid out in America Is a dreadful stain on the reputation of the richest country in the world, and blaming the poor for being poor instead of the rich for being greedy is a shameful cop out I used to look forward to your articles but not any more.

    • Jonathon Van Maren says:

      The commentators are not blaming the poor for being poor. They are pointing out that regardless of economic opportunity, no one is making those inhabiting some of these communities cheat on their wives, do drugs, and behave in ways that deepen poverty rather than alleviate it. They are pointing out every person bears moral responsibility for his or herself, and those from low-income areas are no different. So while I might agree with you on healthcare, I don’t see your criticism as relevant to the writers I’ve quoted here.

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