You Can Say No to Feminism

Last week I wrote at The Federalist about the intellectually- and morally-bankrupt movement that is modern feminism; we also took a look at the movement known as “Women Against Feminism,” composed of women who have understandably discarded the feminist label due to its being hijacked by the hateful and irrational post-third-wave feminist model.

Over at Daily Life, Clementine Ford claims (somewhat hopefully, it’s obvious):

I expect Women Against Feminism will flare briefly and then disappear into irrelevancy. It boasts a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism from the outset, and seems instead designed to support the conservative ideals that harm women rather than help them.

This is the knee-jerk response of many “feminists” these days: if you’re opposed to feminism’s unfortunate modern transformation into a ghoulish ideology of vitriolic parochialism, then it’s claimed that you simply “don’t understand feminism,” feminism being simply and solely about “equality between the sexes.” Jessica Valenti recently doubled down on this misleading chicanery:

This is as dishonest and pigheaded an argument as you’re apt to find—and from Jessica Valenti, who’s allegedly some sort of respected public figure or something. The ideology of “feminism” is not the sole claimant to things like gender equality, female politicians or domestic violence shelters; the notion that these things can exist only if “feminism” exists, or that you can only believe these things if you’re a feminist, is just wrong and stupid. You can subscribe to a movement’s or an ideology’s tenets or credos without being part of the movement or ideology itself: there are plenty of non-Christians who nonetheless give generously to the poor, for instance, and there are plenty of non-Orthodox Jews and non-fundamentalist Muslims who nonetheless abstain from eating pork. People are free to label themselves however they want; nobody should have to worry about having their views appropriated, especially by hateful, intolerant ideologues. Fanatics like Jessica Valenti enjoy spreading fear and mistrust by absurdly claiming that every non-feminist is anti-suffragist and pro-patriarchal; why anybody would be convinced by such bitter crankiness and illogical nonsense is beyond me.

Something Fishy is Going On Here

If you’re into the whole fast food thing (for the record, I’m not), you should probably get your jollies in while you can; assuming the ongoing fast food employee agitation campaigns hold out, the price of a Big Mac might just go up:

Comparing their campaign to the civil rights movement, fast food workers from across the country voted Saturday to escalate their efforts for $15-an-hour pay and union membership by using nonviolent civil disobedience.

More than 1,300 workers gathered in a convention in center in suburban Chicago to discuss the future of a campaign that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years. Wearing T-shirts that said “Fight for $15″ and “We Are Worth More,” the workers cheered loudly and said they would win if they stuck together.

“People are just fed up,” said Cindy Enriquez, 20, of Phoenix.

The $8.25 an hour she makes working for McDonald’s is not enough to go to college and become a police officer and barely enough to pay her rent, Enriquez said.

I’ve written before about the misguided people who demand too much altruism and too much quality from fast food restaurants, and I’d say this certainly qualifies: if you’re asking an astonishing $15 per hour minimum wage for working at McDonald’s, then you don’t really know how McDonald’s works, or indeed how any fast food restaurant works. What’s more concerning, at any rate, is the terminology they use to describe their efforts: do these fast food employees have any idea what “civil disobedience” actually means? Whatever else it may be, this latest fast food strike is a persuasive indication that we’re failing to provide our students with a strong civics education.

In other countries, it’s not the employees that are causing fast food business headaches; it’s the supply chain:

Big Mac lovers who go to McDonald’s in China are asking one question today: “Hey,where’s the beef?”

The fast food chain’s staple items—hamburgers and chicken nuggets—are displayed prominently on menus at outlets in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. But in the wake of concerns over food safety, those who attempt ordering them are asked to try out other options, instead.

“You can still buy a hamburger, but it has fish inside,” a saleswoman at a McDonald’s outlet in Beijing said Monday.

It’s a pitiable McDonald’s attempt at surf and turf. So, to recap: in the United States, fast food workers are demanding astronomical wages for menial entry-level jobs, and in China they’re stuffing their beef burgers with seafood. What a fractious industry. It might be better if everyone just abjured fast food and ate at home a little more often. You can even make it a fun political act: if striking at fast food restaurants qualifies as “civil disobedience,” then avoiding them altogether must count as full-blown anarchy!

You Didn’t Read That

The Halbig decision was a welcome relief, turning as it did on the uncomplicated concept that words mean what they mean. The problem, obviously, is that the miserable Affordable Care Act was passed without very many legislators having read it at all; in a remarkable dereliction of one of the core aspects of their job, our elected officials couldn’t be bothered to look over the crap they voted on. It came back to bite them in Halbig, of course, and there are few more satisfying spectacles than to see Obamacare’s imbecilic chickens coming home to roost. Still, perhaps it’s a bit much to expect legislators to do exactly what they’re supposed to do; just ask Jamelle Bouie:

Gee, I guess it would’ve been better for them if they had read it, don’t you think, Jamelle? As Mollie Hemingway pointed out,

Hey, what’s a few unread bills among friends? Obamacare’s defenders genuinely believed they could get away with a shoddy, poorly-implemented, opaque, unworkable disaster of a law, and with nobody having actually read it, no less. They couldn’t do it, the whole stupid law is being revealed for the mess it really is—and the only response they’re able to come up with is, “Hey, you didn’t think we actually read this stuff, do you?” It’s comical, really, to imagine these people in charge of our medical decisions; it’s a good thing we haven’t handed the entire American health care system over to them. Oh, wait.

Deo Gratias

I was delighted yesterday to see Meriam Ibrahim had been released from the clutches of the Sudanese Muslims (yet it was disappointing to see that, though Ms. Ibrahim is the wife of a U.S. citizen, our own government couldn’t be bothered to help her out). The whole wretched debacle has served as a sobering reminder that, as far as religious liberty goes, America has still got it pretty good. Oh, we have to contend with simple-minded left-leaning types and snarling feminist sociopaths teaming up every now and then to stamp out the last vestiges of practical application of Christian theology, but by-and-large Americans are fairly secure in freedom of religion, at least compared to many other nationalities. Meriam Ibrahim was to be put to death for being a Christian, which, though it had legitimate and serious grievances, Hobby Lobby couldn’t quite lay claim to. 

That being said, American religious dust-ups can still be remarkably fractious, and not just between Godless progressives and the Faithful: 

Jessa Duggar is currently courting Ben Seewald, a very strong Christian with very strong views on things. His views on the Catholic faith, however, recently caused a social media scandal and Seewald deleted the comments he had posted to his Facebook page.

“Where Catholics depart from Scripture, I will in no way support, but will call them out because I love them and desire that they be turned from their deadly errors,” Seewald wrote. He also noted that he disagreed with the claim that Jesus’ mother Mary was a “sinless being. I have nothing against individuals who are Catholic,” he continued. “I know a lot of Catholics who are great people. What I DO have a problem with is the teaching that man can merit God’s favor through his own works or the works of other fallen men.”

Seewald was still not through expressing his disappointment with the Catholic tradition.

“I DO have a problem with the teaching that man can come to God through Mary or any other person besides Jesus … I DO have a problem with the deification of Mary as a sinless being. Mary herself admitted her need for a Savior. If she had no sin, she would need no Savior,” he concluded.

Er…well, one supposes Ben Seewald hasn’t spent much time perusing the Catechism. Oh, well, in America there’s room for everyone, even if they utterly mangle two thousand years of well-developed and intelligible religious dogma—the First Amendment allows for it, and allows for as many religious factions as the populace can come up with. The Duggars belong to a Protestant offshoot known as “Independent Baptists,” which means…whatever they want it to mean, I guess. The one defining feature of fractured Protestantism is that it’s often hard to nail down what each little denomination’s defining features are. I’ve been to a tiny little church in the basement of a synagogue, the service of which lasted nearly three confusing hours and offered “communion” in the form of squares of white bread placed on a table near the back of the room; once I went to a funeral at some miniscule Episcopalian church way out in the middle of nowhere, a church that had split from another Episcopalian quasi-distinct denomination because the latter had decided to adopt the mainstream Episcopal practice of ordaining women. Once in high school my buddies and I went to a sort of religiously-inspired Halloween haunted house at a Baptist church in the suburbs; the church was associated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, itself separate from and yet endorsed by the Southern Baptist Conservative Executive Committee. And on and on.

The whole Protestant thing is often exhausting in this way. Say what you want about Catholics—Ben Seewald certainly did—but at least we’ve got the whole streamlined thing down pat; the Church’s only noteworthy modern spinoff is the whole Reformed Catholic Church thing, and I’ve only ever seen a few of those around. Still, it’s wonderful that, in America, people can choose the religion they want, free will being the lynchpin upon which the acceptance of the Christian faith rests. Meriam Ibrahim did not have that luxury in Sudan, but now she’s free, and coming to America, where she’ll be safe to worship as she pleases. Thank God for that—in whatever religious fashion you choose.

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In case you missed it, yesterday I was on Coffee and Markets, and talked with host Brad Jackson about the flagrant incompetence and petty tyranny of the Transportation Security Administration, which I wrote about at The Federalist last week.

What’s Paused is Prologue

If you were under the impression that the near-twenty-year “pause” in global warming raised, I don’t know, a few questions about the validity of climate change predictions—well, Lindsay Abrams wants you to stop it right away:

The so-called 15-year “pause” in global warming is a climate denier myth that refuses to die, and it’s received a fresh take-down courtesy of a study published by McGill Univeristy physics professor Shaun Lovejoy…

Lovejoy’s new study concludes that there has been a natural cooling fluctuation of about 0.28 to 0.37 degrees Celsius since 1998 — a pattern that is in line with variations that occur historically every 20 to 50 years, according to the analysis. “We find many examples of these variations in pre-industrial temperature reconstructions” based on proxies such as tree rings, ice cores, and lake sediment, Lovejoy says. “Being based on climate records, this approach avoids any biases that might affect the sophisticated computer models that are commonly used for understanding global warming.”

Oh, good—the study avoids the standard bias-laden crackpot predictions under which climate science normally labors. Anyway, Abrams appears to be desperately looking for a zinger, so someone should let her down easy: the salient feature of the global warming “pause” is not what caused it, but that it was entirely unforeseen. That is to say, the pause eluded the legions of super-smart climate scientists in which we are placing all of our environmental policy hopes: for all its sneering pronouncements regarding “SCIENCE,” the global warming crowd utterly failed to anticipate almost two decades of interruption in, you know, global warming. There’s nothing really wrong with making an inaccurate scientific model, of course—such things happen in science all the time—but if climate scientists were unable to predict something as significant as nearly twenty warming-free years, it’s probably a sign that we should take everything else they say with at least a grain of salt, and we should regard the rest of their furious doom-mongering predictions with a healthy skepticism.

A Jagged Little Pill (With No Co-Pay!)

After the bombshell Halbig v. Burwell ruling this morning, Brian Beutler at the New Republic declared:

This Shamefully Dishonest Obamacare Ruling Could Blow Up in the GOP’s Face

Hey, good to know. Mr. Beutler is betting on the idea that conservatives may leverage the Halbig ruling to “leave something as deeply rooted as Obamacare permanently hobbled” (deeply rooted for all of four years, yes), which would allegedly result in inferior health care for the citizens of red states. He very well could be right—Republicans are nothing if not terrible at seizing an opportune moment to actually do some good, and it’s not impossible to imagine the GOP successfully “hobbling” Obamacare without really making anything better for uninsured Americans.

Nevertheless, it is telling that Beutler believes the miserable failure of Obamacare is somehow the Right’s fault. It’s the feet of the Left at which the disasters of Obamacare are to be laid; it’s the Left that has championed this deleterious and obnoxious law in spite of its repeated indignities and catastrophes: from the shameful, shameless way in which it the bill was passed, to Congress’s disgraceful abdication of lawmaking in handing the specifics of the law to the regulatory state, to the embarrassing Supreme Court ruling that simultaneously upheld and struck down the law (while eliminating one of its most coercive provisions), to the millions upon millions of people who lost their health insurance—people who were openly and brazenly lied to by President Obama, over and over again—to the catastrophic website rollout that fully exemplified the chronic failures of technocratic liberalism, to the humiliating abortifacient mandate strikedown, and now this latest court ruling—all of these things have been prime examples of the Left’s terminal inability to do much of anything right, and have been a wonderful bellweather of how fundamentally dense progressives truly are: they passed an impossibly complex law governing an impossibly complicated sector of an insanely complex economy—and they are befuddled and apoplectic when the law turns out to be an unpopular and unworkable disaster. Obamacare could blow up in the GOP’s face? Oh, boy.

As pleasant as it is to see progressives openly weeping over the unforeseen (yet plainly foreseeable) consequences of their actions, it is worth remembering that the Halbig ruling, if it sticks, will almost certainly have dire consequences for the people that the ruling affects: if an ameliorating policy cannot be put into place to help them, it will be disastrous for the people who will lose health insurance subsidies through the now-powerless Federal exchanges. But that, too, is unquestionably the Left’s fault; instead of going along with sensible, market-based, deregulatory solutions to the health care crisis, liberals went with Obamacare, and this is what happened.  They did this—and whether they like it or not, they now must own up to it. Let Brian Beutler whine all he wants about how the GOP’s going to take a hit over this; for most people, it is plainly obvious which political faction is at fault here.

Just Yell Sexism!

Over at The Federalist today, you can find my latest piece: “The Many Fabricated Enemies of Feminists.” Anyone familiar with modern feminism will know that it subsists primarily on fabricated enemies; a chat with a diehard feminist will often reveal a genuine inability to identify real, actual sexism or sexist problems, as well as a striking hostility towards reasonable debate and rational discourse—so much so that there is a growing movement best exemplified by the Facebook group “Women Against Feminism,” composed of women looking to distance themselves from the petty grievances and shallow navel-gazing of the modern feminist movement.

Pamela Smith, an “unapologetic feminist since 1970,” is having none of it:

A quick read through a Facebook group like “Women Against Feminism” (5,000+ members) where women are encouraged to hold up signs stating why they are against feminism show how woefully misunderstood and sadly demonized the F word has become. Feminism is the new “F*ck,” and it’s up to any person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes (ie. everyone) to reclaim it.

This would make sense if not for the fact that “feminism” had not already been reclaimed by the lunatic feminists that make up the modern-day movement: the word simply does not mean what it used to mean. “Women Against Feminism” is a perfectly reasonable response to an irrational, largely hateful and ugly corruption of a once-noble ideology.

Of course, sexism does still exist in the world today—anyone would be crazy to deny that—and it’s not strictly a Western problem:

Extra-wide parking spaces outside a mall in China designed for women have sparked a debate on social media in the country over allegations of sexism.

The mall, located in the northern Chinese port city of Dalian, has 10 spaces with an extra 30 centimeters marked in pink outside the main entrance that were provided after women had trouble parking in the standard basement slots, managers said.

“We just wanted to make things easier for women, who make up most of our customers,” said manager Yang Hongjun, a woman herself.

Wait a second, this isn’t a matter of sexism: the mall managers made the parking lot more accessible for their female customers, not less. Sexism is supposed to disadvantage women, not make their lives better. That’s not to say that all women are bad parkers—plainly they are not—but evidently enough women had enough difficulty parking at this particular mall to warrant a gender-centric reaction by the staff. “We just wanted to make things easier for…most of our customers,” said Yang Hongjun. So the larger parking spaces were an economic decision, as well. It’s just another example of the genius of capitalism, which increases the standards of living for everyone involved.

Let Me Shop in Peace

If you were waiting around for a reason to get excited, maybe you can use the USDA’s latest press release:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3 through 9, 2014, “National Farmers Market Week”. Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate our nation’s thousands of farmers markets, farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

The declaration was made via an official proclamation signed by Secretary Vilsack. This year marks the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week recognizing the important role that farmers markets play in the agricultural and food economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture began declaring National Farmers Market Week in 2000.

“National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support family farms, and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms that support them and provide Americans across the country with fresh, healthy food.”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: what did we do during the dark days before 2000, prior to such “proclamations,” when the USDA remained silent on the crucial matter of National Farmers Market Week? I remember it as a time of great chaos and strife amongst the farmers, grocery shoppers and market managers—but then, my memory is a bit hazy: I took a compost-grown summer squash to the head in 1998 during the Second Battle of the Markets, and I’ve never been the same after that.

I wrote last week about the problems in mixing big government and local food, and how the perception of local food as a haven for heavy-handed progressive government probably scares away a lot of right-leaning or conservative folks from shopping at farmers markets and buying local. It doesn’t help when the USDA, perhaps the dumbest federal bureau in existence, comes out with stupid press releases like this. It would be delightful if they could simply shut up and stay the hell out of our business—and if they could fold up shop and deep-six the entire agricultural bureaucracy while they’re at it, that would be even better.

To be fair, for reasons I can’t explain, local food tends to bring out an authoritarian impulse in many people—and it’s not just American “liberals” who feel the need to combine localism and petty despotism. In Uganda’s New Vision today, columnist Enoth Mbeine has an essay offering a number of terrific and accurate reasons for buying local; he ends on a dismaying note, however, declaring:

So let us go out there and support our local farmers by buying their produce. The government should also come out to put restrictive policies on some market outlets so that they can reduce on the importation of foreign foodstuffs into the country.

Sorry, Bwana Mbeine, but no. Buying local food is, on the whole, better than buying “industrial” food at the supermarket—but people nevertheless have reasons for buying supermarket produce, and it is not the government’s job to decide if those reasons are legitimate or not. A person’s shopping decisions should be persuaded and dissuaded by words and ideas, not a moralizing busybody government that makes your choices for you. You can keep your restrictive policies, Tom Vilsak can keep his “National Farmers Market Week,” and we’ll all be better off.

Soccer vs. Liberty

I’m no big fan of Ann Coulter, but I must confess I found her comments about soccer to be both delightful and hilarious. Part of it was simply because I can’t stand soccer—it’s a terminally boring sport in which nothing ever happens and in which you’re guaranteed to stare dumbly at a screen for fifty-eight minutes before witnessing the score change. I’m with Bernard Goldberg, who termed soccer “a dull sport for dull people;” surely there are exceptions to the latter half of that formulation, but not, in my experience, very many.

Another reason I liked Coulter’s comments, and another reason I find soccer so tiresome, is because people often wax on about soccer in the vein of a slack-jawed Marxist college freshman: for every right-wing Ann Coulter denouncing soccer as anti-American, there are two left-wing bozos celebrating it for the very same purpose. Here’s Lev Mendes in (where else?) Salon, in an article with one of the most Salon-esque headlines I’ve ever read: “Ann Coulter’s real soccer nightmare: How the World Cup awakened our love of a collective:”

We live in an age of social media self-inflation and widespread financial deregulation; a disconnected age that prizes individual autonomy over traditional social ties. But if the record-breaking ratings for the Team U.S.A. games were any indication, many of us still yearn to identify with a group. Suddenly, an event like the World Cup comes along that feels exciting and alive and that reminds people just how meaningful it can be to fully commit to something as part of a collective.

Gee, if only I’d known, I would have sat down with the rest of those chumps and stared at a monotonous non-sport for ninety minutes at a time. Honestly, the progressive love of “groups” and “collectives” never fails to be tiresome and boring, kind of like soccer itself. For starters, most of us are part of “collectives” already, but it’s often the kind of “collective” that the Left openly despises: most of us work for a living, after all, but you never hear liberals celebrating the “collective” of a well-run Wal Mart or franchise restaurant. Many of us go to church, as well, which is usually more group-like and “collective” than even a stupid soccer match—what St. Paul called being “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”—but given that progressives expend much of their energy attempting to stamp out religious belief, it’s wholly unsurprising that religious life would fail to qualify as part of a “group.”

So we have soccer—the sport which, Mendes claims, allows Americans to “fully commit to something as part of a collective.” Part of the progressive attraction towards soccer is undoubtedly in its subsumption of individual autonomy; Mendes gushes that the U.S. soccer team “was conspicuously lacking in individual aggrandizement,” which is precisely how the Left wishes society worked, and precisely the kind of civic life the most hard-line progressive societies have attempted to build: Soviet Russia and Communist China, for instance, both rested upon the philosophy of what George Orwell passingly referred to as “Obliteration of the Self.” Consequently, soccer is viewed as one of the consummate anti-American sports; as Mendes puts it, one of soccer’s chief functions is in “opening [Americans] up to foreign influence.” Given that said “foreign influence” consists of a boring, predictable, anti-individualist game that embodies the worst qualities of the rest of the world and dispenses with the best qualities of American culture, you can understand why the Left is in thrall to soccer, a sport which typifies and exalts their loathsome political tendencies. Meaningful, indeed.

Cisgendered Resistance is Futile

It was great to witness the (albeit moderate) victory for religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case, if only because it re-affirmed America’s dwindling yet still extant protection of religious belief against the sociopathic excesses of American progressivism: there’s still a few reasons to celebrate the United States’s longstanding commitment to religious freedom, at least until Harry Reid and the rest of the thugs on Capitol Hill enact whatever bitter anti-religious indignities they’re currently cooking up. Let us not, however, think all is rosy on the continent; our neighbors to the north, after all, are daily subject to the ignominy of lefty-centric “human rights” tribunals:

Catholic schools in Vancouver have adopted a policy that could allow transgender students to use the pronouns, uniforms and washrooms that match their gender identity after a human rights complaint forced the local archdiocese to balance its religious teachings with the rights of transgender children.

The lawyer for the 11-year-old transgender girl behind the complaint says Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese appears to be the first Catholic school board in North America to implement such a policy.

Tracey Wilson’s doctors determined she had gender dysphoria, but the Catholic school she attended indicated it could not accommodate her request to be treated as a girl.

Well, it “indicated” otherwise quite quickly when a “human rights complaint” was brought before it; like the decapitated horse head left under an enemy’s bedsheets, a Canadian human rights inquisitorial brigade can make anyone change his tune: now the archdiocese must “balance its religious teachings with the rights of transgender children.” Three guesses as to how that will play out: if there’s one thing a new-age activist government utterly and completely despises, it’s a protected sphere of private action in which individuals may live out their beliefs free from state interference. That’s actually the point of private schools, especially religious ones. Bad luck for the Vancouver Archdiocese for assuming the notion still held up.

The Catholic superintendent’s affirmation of independence is almost quaint in its optimism:

“We are people of the Catholic faith. Our schools will be as inclusive as we can while still retaining our Catholic identity.”

Uh, sorry, no—you won’t be able to “retain” much of anything after these people are done with you, especially now that they have their gender dysphoric foot in your catechetical door: the Vancouver Archdiocese’s “Catholic identity” will doubtlessly be subsumed by whatever’s the next “gender identity” a la mode. Whatever else lays ahead, the Vancouver Catholic school system must now call a boy a girl in direct contravention of its own religious teachings; moreover, instead of contributing to a social and political environment where a severely confused and distressed young boy might get the help he needs, the Vancouver human rights goon squad has simply added to the problem and steamrolled over religious liberty in the process. “We are people of the Catholic faith,” says the superintendent. If I were him, I wouldn’t broadcast one’s “faith” too loudly; in the eyes of the fevered progressive “human rights” coterie, that’s precisely the problem, and they’ll snuff it out wherever they can find it.