Greetings on Independence Day

July 5, 2012

I inaugurated this blog on July 4th four years ago, and Independence Day has been one holiday I’ve tried to mark here. I grew up with July 4th parades and fireworks, which my father explained to me were meant to express joy. I hope you enjoyed this day with your loved ones and remembered the great history of this country.

For me it has become impossible to celebrate the present state of our nation. Obamacare is just the latest of “a long train of abuses and usurpations” by our national government robbing us of our liberty. There exists no force at present that can slow the immigration-driven breaking up of our nation and the decline of traditional communities and values. We are forced to look at the personal and perhaps the very local level for positive developments.

The Declaration of Independence still can speak to the heart of traditional patriots. If we cannot restore the Republic we must look to a day when we separate ourselves from it and begin anew.

***

Kevin Knauss has responded to my last post with a follow-up. I appreciate his commitment to trying to understand where one’s political adversaries are coming from. Just as importantly I thank him for lightening up the discourse with some humor! In return, I promise to read some of his discussions of the Affordable Care Act and learn how it looks to someone in the insurance field.


The Power of Equality

June 27, 2012

Small things can tell us as much as big things. I recently bought a book of first-class postage stamps with an American flag design. Glancing at them something leapt out at me: the word “Equality.” The series actually has four different words: “Freedom,” “Liberty,” Equality,” and “Justice.” Cleverly, the words are juxtaposed with the word “forever” which indicates that the stamps will be valid for first-class postage “forever,” no matter what the rate becomes.

This insurance agent and blogger writes about being unexpectedly moved by the simple, patriotic message of the stamps. I couldn’t quite feel that way, though: the word “Equality” stuck in my craw.

“Equality,” in this day and age, generally expresses the liberal-left notions of “social justice” and equality of results. (The word “Justice” on the stamps is similarly problematic.) It conjures up a Civil Rights Era image of blacks struggling for “equal rights,” but in actuality is used to justify coercive governmental measures for empowering nonwhite groups and collectively liberalizing society. For instance, a commentator I heard on NPR defending the Obamacare birth control mandate justified it in terms of the “equality” it provided, which to her trumped objections based on religious freedom.

Though the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal” does give the word resonance for Americans, Jefferson’s “equality” was minimalist, indicating a certain basic common nature possessed by all humans that justified certain forms of equality under the law. Balint Vazsonyi, in America’s Thirty Years War (Regnery, 1998), correctly saw the more radical interpretation of “equality” – as in the “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” of the French Revolution –  as an un-American notion:

Note that I translate the French slogan ‘Égalité’ as ‘Egality,’ and not as ‘Equality.’ Webster’s Dictionary tells us that egality is ‘an extreme social and political leveling.’ Our word ‘egalitarian’ confirms that definition. The process of leveling is worlds apart from equality in the affairs of man, which was the aspiration of the Round Table….

Egality is the elimination of differences. Since people are different, only force can cover up the differences, and then only temporarily. Once force is no longer applied, the differences reappear…. (p. 37)

I note that Vazsonyi specifically referred to the black-white achievement gap in his discussion:

America’s balance sheet is exceptionally rich and positive, partly as a result of its demographic composition. Different countries harbor variable proportions of people with aspirations – from near-zero to very high. But all who undertook the journey to America from the four corners of the world had aspirations of some kind, making America’s “aspiration density” the highest in the world. It would be higher still, had all newcomers undertaken the journey of their own free will. But that was not the case. And that, more than any other single factor, created a rift that time alone will heal. (p. 38-9).

I am sorry to say that “equality” is the official driving ideal in the United States today; we traditionalist Westerners who do not accept it are the dissidents. The notion of equality drives the Obama administration’s open contempt for regular Americans, and the law, in its efforts to suppress Arizona’s efforts to deal with her illegal alien problem; and it drives the homosexualization of our society, now proceeding at an astonishing pace with almost no thoughtful opposition. But the more equality is achieved, the worse any remaining inequality is said to be, a sentiment expressed in a song I enjoyed in my college days (I won’t link it since I don’t endorse the repulsive messages of the band):

The power of equality
Is not yet what it ought to be
It fills me up like a hollow tree
The power of equality

(The performers of the song seemed to think that the U.S. was in danger of being taken over by the Ku Klux Klan, and that their hedonistic – and admittedly at times pretty good – music was the antidote….)

But why, why is the idea so powerful? It is obviously nonsense to believe that all people have equal abilities and equal aspirations. Even if “equality of results” were desirable, it’s clear that the growing “diversity” of our society is leading to growing inequality and stratification at every level. Yet the movement demanding equality barrels ahead, and few dare challenge it.

Update: I notice that the blogger I linked to, who sells health and life insurance, is in favor of the contraceptive mandate. Since it’s possible he’ll read my post, I’ll just mention that my objection to the mandate has to do with the morality of collectively-provided birth control presented as a “health” issue. I realize that supporters of the mandate argue in a technical way that a purchaser of insurance, individual or corporate, isn’t directly “paying” for contraception and of course is not required to use contraception himself or herself. I think this is a morally obtuse view, but don’t have time to compose a detailed objection. Maybe another time.


Sleepers, Awake!

June 19, 2012

Sometimes I daydream about becoming a proper “conservative pundit.” I could fill in the gaps in my knowledge about politics, economics, and law so that I could properly debate liberals on all manner of subjects, producing unanswerable rebuttals to their false claims. With the help of an editor, I could produce a polished-up column each week on a timely topic and get it published at some conservative venue. Eventually I might be able to produce something worthy of the National Review or some other prestigious journal. It could be the beginning of a new career.

Then I remember how far gone the conservative establishment is. One doesn’t need to search hard for demonstrations of this. As far as conservative punditry goes, National Review’s “firing” of John Derbyshire for writing some realistic advice on how to stay safe from black violence tells you all you need to know. And the Grand Old Party of the Republic, though continuing to provide affiliation for a fair number of honorable, patriotic officeholders, is no more capable than any other institution today of standing against the suicidal liberal movements now sweeping over our society. They are embracing Hispanicization, same-sex “marriage,” the works – just a little more slowly than the liberals. Consider this Wall Street Journal article describing how they are preparing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory if the Supreme Court finds Obamacare unconstitutional. (And what if it is found constitutional?)

But to blame the “establishment conservatives” is to miss the larger point that our entire society has become incapable of free discourse on the very subjects of which an understanding is needed for our survival. We are no longer “a free country.” The greatest taboo is against the discussion of group racial differences in intelligence and other abilities; gender, sexuality, and religion are similarly off-limits. I see this clearly on a daily basis in my private life (family and work) as well as in the public discourse. Stifled by the restrictions on speech and thought, people become ready to accept all sorts of outrageous ideas.

It is the sheer sticky entrenched-ness of “political correctness” that makes me doubt that our nation will wake up, collectively, in time to save itself. Most Americans are rather politically unserious, but challenges to the established order are suppressed viciously. (This may help explain the preference for unseriousness.) Individuals and one-issue organizations (Numbers USA, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy) fight bravely on – and of course we should support them! – but the forces of destruction barrel ahead. Consider Obama’s “administrative amnesty,” or the military’s creation of a “Gay Rights Month.” Where is the outrage? Where is the backlash? There is a bit of public grumbling, that’s all.

For me, the bottom line is that an effective “conservative” or traditionalist movement will have to embrace traditional morality and race realism (and a variety of other realisms). This is the issue I continue to revisit and explore on this blog. Despite the dark tenor of some of the discussions here, I have no doubt that ultimately the various Western peoples will survive and thrive again. There will be an American Renaissance, though we can’t yet know what form it will take. I’ve probably said this before, but the one point I think we can be safely optimistic about is that number of people being won over to a traditionalist, realist position is actually increasing rapidly. Right now the absolute numbers are too small to make a visible impact on larger events, but this will change.

***

Just for fun….

The theme of dreaming reminded me of an old song. I was actually fond of a few hip-hop groups back in high school, including this group. It was before the whole genre went “gangster.” (Please skip if it’s not your cup of tea.) They weren’t Mozart, but they were clever and positive. The liberal Utopia they imagined hasn’t come to be, but we have reached the point where the President of the United States is likely to be found “chillin’ ” at a hip-hop show. That’s not actually such a great thing.


Irish-American Railroad Songs

June 12, 2012

When I was a kid we had an album called Songs of the Railroad. It’s available as an MP3 download on Amazon. It is amazing that record companies used to churn out product after product like this, and presumably make a profit with them. Who the heck were the Merrill Jay Singers? But they did a fine job. Pick a popular song or a folk song from before 1965, and go on YouTube – you will almost always find multiple versions.

Songs like this mean a lot to me, and I want to pass down as many of them as I can to my child.

Here are a couple of the songs from that album, done by other artists.

The Tarrier Song

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, “What for?” came this reply
“You were docked for the time you were up in the sky.”

Paddy on the Railway

The version I was familiar with had the lyrics:

In eighteen hundred and forty three, ’twas then I met sweet Biddy McGee
An elegant wife she’s been to me, while workin’ on the railway.
……
In eighteen hundred and forty seven, sweet Biddy McGee she went to heaven
She left one child, she left eleven to work upon the railway.

I notice sometimes on YouTube that a commenter on a song I was looking for will say something like “I’m only 15 and I love this music!” The commenter then says that kids his own age all listen to Justin Bieber, whom he despises. I see this exact comment often enough that I wonder if it’s fake, but I hope there are actually 15-year-olds discovering the older music. Surely they are starved for something better than what they’re being served?

Laying rails across America. What was it all for?


Board Books

March 9, 2012

I grew up with Mother Goose and other songs, stories, and rhymes traditionally learned by American children. I think most of us basically forget about these things until we have children of our own. At that point we realize that it’s important our children know them too.

I had never heard the term board book until we had our first child last year. Board books are books for very small babies, with bright pictures, simple texts, and glossily-coated cardboard pages, suitable for chewing. They have been around a long time – I believe when I was a baby my mother read Pat the Bunny to me, which featured a rabbit with an actual fuzzy patch that the baby could touch.

Well, one day I was in the local public library, pushing our baby in a stroller, and obsessively scouring the shelves for material to use in this blog (just kidding). A nice librarian praised the baby – always a way to get on my good side – and then asked if we had signed up for the Little Readers program. I was a bit surprised at this, since the baby was only a few months old, but it turned out that the program starts at birth. The way it works is that the baby gets his own library card, and every month is eligible to receive a free book, selected based on his age, along with materials instructing the parents on developmental milestones for that age and ways to cultivate cognitive skills that will ultimately lead to literacy.

We are not ones to turn down free books, and we thought it was cute for the baby to have a library card, so we signed up. However, I couldn’t help noticing that even this most innocuous of activities is noticeably affected by the usual racial and ethnic issues that so dominate our social discourse.

The goal of the program is to make children into “readers” – and it’s perfectly appropriate for a public library to be interested in helping to create its future clients, and maybe help them to be better citizens.But do people really need an outside authority to tell them that reading and singing to and playing with their children is important for their cognitive development? Sadly, some probably do, although I doubt the sort of parent who is going to use a TV as a babysitter is likely to sign up for library literacy events. And why the need to justify these basic activities with rationales derived from academic or scientific studies? For instance, “Nursery rhymes are essential for developing multiple early literacy skills, since they include rhyme for developing phonologic awareness and are essentially very short stories, which develop narrative skills.” Or: “Activities…with cross-body movements (touching the baby’s right hand to left foot) help make left and right brain connections, which will enhance eye tracking and physical coordination….”

One suspects that a strong motivation behind programs like this – and certainly the rationale that is most likely to win them grants – is the hope that very early “reading” activities (you have to use the term loosely for small babies), by creating all these brain connections, will help to reduce the cognitive skills gap between whites and Asians, on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics, on the other. Ironically, though, when we attended a storytelling session, the great majority of families present were middle-class whites, with a sprinkling of East Asians and Indians. So, the people who are already doing what is needed, and already are more than willing to buy their own books, take advantage of the program. It serves a valid function, but it’s not really doing anything for the “at-risk” groups.

Then, there is the aggressive ethnic diversity presented in the board books. Some avoid the problem of ethnicity by featuring animals – but look at this not very subtle example of animals who belong to races just like humans do:

Which one is Muslim?

At any rate, children’s books featuring human children are perhaps the most aggressive of all media in affirming racial diversity. Here are a few examples of covers of books we have seen:

Good Morning, Baby!

Tickle, Tickle

On cover her race is ambiguous, but inside the book we see she is intended to be black

Now, I have the feeling that the average white consumer of books like this (and I’m sure the average consumer is white) doesn’t find anything wrong with them. To the contrary, they represent an ideal of diversity and inclusiveness that is accepted by the great majority of people in this country. Nor do I here want to criticize the producers of the books. In this day and age they could hardly get away with featuring a homogeneous cast of whites in their books, even if they wanted to – and it is a fact that more than half the children born in the United States today are nonwhite.

Still, am I the only one who feels like I am being targeted or manipulated when I am presented with book after book with a black child on the cover, to take home and read to my white baby?

But like so many features of our culture today, the new norms for children’s books were established with no honest public debate and no understanding of what was being given up. There is an opportunity cost to every choice made; energy expended on making children’s books “diverse” is then not used for some other creative purpose. And these products, in my mind, are very unsatisfactory.

(1) The narrative and flow of the story are disjointed. There is an unnaturalness to the whole thing. For instance, “Good Morning, Baby!” narrates a baby’s typical morning. He wakes up, eats, takes a bath, and goes out to play. But each page of the “story” shows a different baby of a different color and gender. There is no unity, no flow. It’s the “collage” technique that we often see in TV advertisements: the scene shows a white couple using the product, then quickly cuts to a black couple using the product, then to a Hispanic couple using the product. It’s supposed to convey the idea that everyone of every ethnic group has the same, positive experience, but it’s disorienting and disturbing.

(2) The family, and especially fathers, disappear from the scene. Put together the black boy and the Asian boy in a schoolyard and they might play together happily. (That’s the ideal; in reality, there are lots of problems in schools that mix large black and Asian populations.) Put in their fathers and mothers and you begin to see that their differences go far beyond skin color. The Asian comes from somewhere: is it China? Japan? Laos? Almost certainly (if it is America) his father is working in some technical field: science, engineering, or medicine. Where is the black boy’s father? He may well not be around the home at all. He’s very likely not a scientist.

(3) The stories and rhymes must be stripped of any content that suggests violence, sounds too Christian, or otherwise potentially offends anyone.  One nurse we met seemed to have a problem with “This little piggy had roast beef” – she added the phrase, “…or tofu.” One book has changed it to “roast meat” – does beef offend Hindus? In any case, isn’t it odd to that the representative child for “This Little Piggy” looks like a Mexican mestizo? Even if you are Hispanic, doesn’t this seem a little forced?

This one can't be Muslim!

For my part, I say that if children of all ethnic groups have the right to read books with images of children who look like them, my child does too; and no sensible people would deliberately subject their children and grandchildren to a future existence as a racial minority in their own country. On the other hand, if our diverse citizenry really wants to make our traditional songs, stories, and rhymes their own, they have my best wishes; but I’m not convinced they’re that interested.

Though I consider myself a literary sort of guy, I have to admit that some of the items in these books were not familiar to me. For instance, the following rhyme:

Two little eyes to look around,
Two little ears to hear each sound,
One little nose to smell what’s sweet,
One little mouth that likes to eat,
And eat and eat and eat!

Never having heard that one before, I looked it up, and discovered that it was actually taken from the following little hymn (I think better known in Britain than in the U.S.):

Two little eyes to look to God,
Two little ears to hear his word,
Two little feet to walk his ways,
Two little lips to sing his praise,
Two little hands to do his will,
And one little heart to love him still.

Religious or not, I hope my readers would see how much lovelier the second one is. It is the difference between night and day. In its own way it’s a perfect illustration of how much of the beautiful and good is stripped from our liberal, “diverse” culture. I will take it to mean that there is at least something still living in our culture, if we can only rake away all the mud and debris that has covered it.


Non-Discrimination, Private and Public

February 28, 2012

In The House of the Seven Gables (1851), Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that “the wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones, and, divesting itself of every temporary advantage, becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief.” Are we Americans paying for the crimes of our ancestors with the decline and imminent ruin of our beloved country? Maybe, but if so, what exactly was the crime? Taking the land from the Indians? Slavery? These are the obvious answers, but I cannot think that the evils we suffer today represent any kind of just punishment or karmic retribution for those events. We have long since done what we could to remedy the inequalities that they supposedly caused.

Perhaps the true answer is the opposite of what we conventionally think: our crime – or, at least, our profound error – is not discrimination, but non-discrimination. We started out feeling that it was not decent, or moral, to “discriminate” against minorities, meaning, mainly, black people; and the principle of non-discrimination gradually took over every functional institution of our society, until these institutions became actively harmful to the interests of the very people they were supposed to serve.

I certainly believed in non-discrimination for most of my life. For a personal example, which is almost amusing to me now, I once went on some dates through the classified ads (this was back when they were commonly printed in the free “alternative” weekly city papers, something I imagine has been supplanted by eHarmony). The ads would often specify the race of the person desired, e.g., SWF seeking SWM. I am a white man, but it offended me that so many white women were specifically seeking white men. I didn’t want to go out with someone who would say that! Also in the spirit of non-discrimination, I went out with a black woman or two. One lady was quite nice – clearly interested in white men (she was a lover of books and culture, and apparently couldn’t find many black men with compatible interests), but the instant I saw her I knew that I could not be attracted to her. It didn’t occur to me that preferring one’s own race might be a natural and healthy thing, or that, at least, people have the right to discriminate in the most personal of relationships, even if they believe in equal treatment in the public sphere. (It didn’t occur to me, either, that a white woman with an interest in black men might not be the best potential partner for me!) To give another example, I remember commenting to a female friend about a certain female acquaintance, that I didn’t think I could date her because she belonged to the Baha’i religion. The friend told me that she knew lots of wonderful Baha’i followers and that my comment made her “angry.” Here, at least, I stuck to my guns, insisting that religious differences were real, not something that could be overcome by niceness and kindness.

Non-discrimination is thought by its practitioners to be a virtue – perhaps the highest and most essential one of all. Yet it seems to be the code of non-discrimination that allows the worst evils to enter and flourish in our society, especially as a foundation for legal processes and decisions. The most egregious examples are probably immigration-related. (In a way, this entire blog is a reaction to mass non-Western immigration, though I usually approach the issue indirectly, by thinking about who we – the non-immigrants – are.) Outrage after outrage takes place, and nothing ever changes. Genetic testing reveals that the vast majority of Somalis brought here for family unification are actually not related to the people bringing them in. Investigations show that the vast majority of Chinese students in the United States faked their transcripts and essays. Vast numbers of Hispanics use stolen Social Security numbers. Is a commonsense decision ever made to put an end to the fraud by simply stopping taking in so many people from the particular countries involved? No, it is not. (The Somali reunification was halted, but apparently is slated to be resumed.) Somehow, the system itself cannot accept a sensible act of discrimination in that most personal – and most publicly important! – of choices, that of who to admit into one’s national family. We end up with a sick perversion of the American Dream, where lying and greed are rewarded and become the foundation of new citizenship. Is this moral? Is this virtue?

Ayn Rand, whose works I admire only very selectively, said that one must never fail to pronounce moral judgment. Laura Wood says that we must not fail to discriminate – in this article, she is referring to “economic discrimination in favor of men” in the workplace, but the statement applies to every aspect of society. Failure to judge and discriminate unleashes evil and mayhem. Even worse is the aggressive, coercive enforcement of non-discrimination through grievances and lawsuits. The great challenge for traditionalists and conservatives is to find a way to rebuild a society that judges and discriminates as it should.


Aid or Comfort?

February 13, 2012

Nearly four years ago now, I started experimenting with creating my own blog, which I inaugurated on July 4, 2008, after a couple of earlier “test” postings. I did so after a long period of reading and commenting at others’ blogs, some of which have since become defunct, others of which you see on the blogroll on the right. During the past year, my output has been low, mainly due to personal commitments which took away my time to write, but also, I suppose, because I ran into a certain feeling that it was getting harder to say something new, and hard to meet my assignment to myself to produce high-quality weekly essays backed by reading and research. Still, the Heritage American lives! As one of my blogging colleagues wrote quite some time ago, “I Will Never Stop Blogging.” (He appears not to have posted anything since then – but I hope he keeps his promise to return!) Or as I once put it: if I ever stop blogging, it will be because I’ve found a better gig than this space here – and I don’t intend to leave my readers uninformed of the fact.

This blog (I still hate the word, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that what I have here is, indeed, a blog) was based on a fairly specific, clear concept: rather than writing about current events and politics directly, I would delve into the American past through literature and history, and try to apply something I found (or imagined I found) to some aspect of the current situation. On one level, I take a stance of traditional, pre-1960s American patriotism, and I often try to read works published before our 1960s Cultural Revolution for my research, since they narrate our past so much more clearly and with a goodwill absent in many contemporary sources. You might glance at my subjects and conclude I’m just an old-fashioned “history buff.” It’s almost the opposite, in fact; I’m relatively ignorant of American history, and my writings represent an effort to learn the basics. What I do have more than most younger Americans (and I myself am well into middle age) is a sense of traditional patriotism, which I picked up in childhood through family and other influences.

But this blog was never really about going back to the past – the past America gave birth to the present America, so merely going back would mean repeating our terrible errors. Nor, in fact, was it meant to be exclusively about America or for Americans, much less to trumpet American superiority or exceptionalism. In the larger sense, what must be defended is the West as a whole, and though America represents in some ways the high point of Western civilization, in other ways we never quite reached European levels of cultural achievement, and our greatest achievement – in spreading and promoting liberalism throughout the world – may turn out to be our greatest sin. No, the main reason I visit America’s past is to find better answers to the question of who we are. The nation is not the totality of personal identity; we belong to families and smaller communities first, and at the highest level answer to God, not to country. Still, the nation is indispensible; where can we ever be at home if we have no nation? I’m convinced that most of us have truly lost that instinctive sense of identity that separates us from other nationalities. And in the end, isn’t it this loss that makes it possible for us to accept the catastrophic non-Western mass immigration that threatens now to destroy everything we have and are?

One area of tension in writing these pieces has been between two possible purposes: that of changing someone’s mind, and that of speaking to those who already share my core beliefs. If I could reach people like my liberal relatives and colleagues, and convince them that their belief in equality, tolerance, and diversity is exactly what’s leading to the destruction of our society, that would be a wonderful thing. (Not that I pretend to have the wisdom or eloquence to do this, when so many truly great writers and thinkers have been able to.) On the other hand, the reality might be that most of my readers are already convinced of the same general truths that motivate my writing. In this case, blogging becomes more a form of comfort and inspiration – sharing ideas with like-minded people, offering thoughts that might be of small but real value, and receiving the same.

I’ve come to think that for the most part blogs like this one are really doing the second thing most of the time. The cultural divide is truly enormous, and no one in our society turns easily to traditionalism, race realism, or other anti-liberal positions. In this case, it follows that conservative or traditionalist blogging is done primarily for friendship, comfort, and personal satisfaction, rather than to argue with and win over others to one’s cause. And I suppose that’s fine. These are precious things in themselves.

I can say that in the past few months I’ve received a handful of hostile comments by people claiming to be offended by things I’ve said about “Davy” Crockett or George Armstrong Custer. How these individuals came upon this blog I have no idea, but I am flattered by their responses, in a way. They make me feel I’ve reached the mainstream. To friends of this blog, old and new, I encourage you to visit (or resume visiting) once a week or so. The normal date of posting will be Mondays. And comments are most welcome!