I wrote last week about the need for pro-lifers to be more vigilant in the politicians we elect: we can no longer be satisfied by wishy-washy men and women who are “personally opposed” to abortion but who don’t see any reason to outlaw it. Legalized abortion-on-demand being perhaps the most consequential and serious human rights violation of the last few generations, it does not do the pro-life movement (or the babies we’re trying to save) any good to go half-assed on the electoral front. It will not help us, nor the babies.
What is also needed is this: the pro-life movement must not be afraid to highlight the brutality of abortion, the simple inhumanity of the procedure itself. It is, after all, murder—and of an entirely innocent and perfectly defenseless human being, at that. This should be underscored as much as possible. Why? Because the pro-abortion Left is trying to wrap a bow around abortion:
“[ABC’s] Scandal showed the main character, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), aborting her baby to the accompaniment of the Christmas hymn “Silent Night.” In fact, the entire episode, Baby It’s Cold Outside, was a plug for abortion, including a recitation of Planned Parenthood talking points during a Wendy Davis-like filibuster. For its efforts, the show’s scenes have been lauded by lefty media – from the Huffington Post to Cosmopolitan and Bustle – as “groundbreaking” and “awesome.””
Yes: “groundbreaking.” “Awesome.” Vox claimed the abortion scene was “bold.” NPR also called it “bold.” Bustle called it “brave and unprecedented.” Slate called it a “daring leap in the right direction.” Al Jazeera claimed the show should be “lauded” for the portrayal. Bellamy Young, a star on the show, announced that the scene was “masterful” and “beautiful.” And so on.
In fact, it was none of these things. There is something both lazy and pathetic about this giddy kind of hero-worship of what is in reality an incredibly secure political tack. Making your television show a vehicle of pro-abortion sentiment is about as safe as it gets on almost any kind of station, let alone network television. Who’s going to call you out for it—Kevin Brockman? Even ABC’s resident pro-lifer Patricia Heaton has been silent about it. Why on Earth is Shonda Rhimes being praised for something that required absolutely no courage whatsoever?
As my colleague Amy Otto points out, the “brave” thing to do would have been to show, say, “empathy for the father who loses his child without a say in the matter.” But Rhimes couldn’t be bothered with something so divergent from the predictable politics of network television: she instead opted to take the “daring leap” that would only earn her passing criticism from a few conservative blogs (you can subscribe over to the right, by the way). If you portray the murder of an unborn baby on ABC these days, you’re not going to face much heat.
The pro-choice movement, emboldened by forty years of legalized infanticide, is becoming more comfortable with these types of stunts. That’s not surprising; indeed, it’s understandably calculative. If they can get away with Kerry Washington committing a relatively innocuous abortion this year, then maybe next year they’ll be able to show a little more—the messy results of a second-trimester abortion, say. Then maybe next year they’ll show something a little more “groundbreaking:” perhaps an abortion doctor’s snipping the spines of a fully-delivered and moving baby, like Kermit Gosnell was known to do. Then maybe they’ll portray a “bold” and “masterful” scene of abortionists dickering over the price of baby brains and testicles.
This is all entirely plausible; the pro-choice movement is not above it. And as the favorable portrayal of abortion becomes more common on television, the pro-life movement is at serious risk for losing ground. Which is why, as I said, the pro-life movement must not be afraid to promote the opposite, and correct, message: abortion is brutal, and it is murder, and there is nothing “beautiful” and “awesome” about it. If we cannot communicate this simple and uncomplicated truth, then there is little hope of reversing this terrible tide.
Every few months, it seems, Democrats in Congress seize upon some new idea to circumscribe American gun rights. Clearly frustrated and desperate as the Obama presidency nears an ignominious end having accomplished nothing at all on the gun control front, the Left will apparently latch onto anything to try and chip away at the Second Amendment—including, cynically, the Paris terrorist attacks:
Leading Senate Democrats are reviving a measure to expand gun control restrictions to cover foreign nationals and U.S. citizens who are on the terror watchlist following last weekend’s Paris attacks.
The leading advocate of the measure is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence panel.
She wants to prevent anyone on the terror watchlist from buying a firearm or an explosive while traveling in the United States. It’s an effort she picked up from the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), who introduced the measure multiple times while in the Senate.
“They don’t have to bring it with them, they can buy it once they get here,” Feinstein declared. “If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun.”
Where to begin? For starters, just because you’re on the “terror watchlist” doesn’t mean you’re “too dangerous to board a plane;” the no-fly list is a distinct and separate document from the watchlist. More importantly, the “terror watchlist” is itself not a definitive indicator of one’s criminality; the list only signifies suspicion, not conviction. Dianne Feinstein, in other words, wants you to be barred from an ironclad constitutional right because you’re suspected of wrongdoing—not charged, not indicted, not convicted. If there’s a dim possibility you might be a terrorist, that’s enough for Feinstein. Bad news for the forty percent of people on the watch list who have “no affiliation with recognized terrorism groups.”
For the Left, gun control is a losing issue, and it’s been a losing issue for years and years. They lost in 2008 and 2010 with two of the best Supreme Court rulings of the last twenty-five years; they lost with the federal background check bill in 2013, and at the state level during the same time period; they lost in a particularly humiliating upset in Colorado at the time as well. In Virginia this year, a hotly-contested state senate race ended in humiliating defeat for the gun control candidate. When it comes to firearms, liberals just can’t get it right. So it is unsurprising that Feinstein is turning towards a patently ridiculous and unconstitutional method in order to reverse these embarrassing defeats. In the waning days of the Obama administration, you can likely expect to see more transparent attempts at anti-gun legislation like this.
I can’t pretend to believe that we’ll outlaw abortion in this country without a constitutional amendment; the statutory remedies enacted by the Federal government and many states do some good, but they are assuredly unable to prevent the vast majority of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of abortions that occur annually in the United States. Still, in the meantime, we might take to heart the admonition of Ian Holm’s character in the (admittedly dreadful) The Day After Tomorrow: “Save as many as you can.” Even one life is worth fighting for—and thankfully, that’s something U.S. Catholic bishops understand very well:
US bishops have issued an election-year guide stressing a moral imperative to evaluate candidates according to their position on marriage and abortion. The decision on Tuesday followed a brief debate at their national assembly over whether the document reflected the priorities of Pope Francis.
The guide, called Faithful Citizenship, addresses a broad range of issues in Catholic social teaching, including protecting immigrants and the environment, fighting racism and poverty, and opposing the death penalty. However, the bishops said they consider opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights paramount in this presidential election season and beyond.
“Some issues involve principles that can never be abandoned such as the fundamental right to life and marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” the bishops said. They said voting for a candidate specifically because the politician favors a “grave evil” such as abortion rights amounts to “formal co-operation” with that evil by the voter.
They’re right: when it comes to something like abortion, the ballot is implicative: you can’t vote for a guy because he supports baby-killing without consenting to support baby-killing yourself. The bishops’ opposition to gay marriage is both understandable and commendable, because gay marriage will almost certainly become a grave threat to American religious liberty in the next few years. But abortion—the utter negation of the “fundamental right to life”—is undoubtedly the more pressing issue; you can’t bring a baby back to life after it’s been scalded to death by a saline bath.
So abortion is a critical issue—perhaps the critical issue facing the United States body politic, and one we can’t afford to be shy about. And indeed it would be very useful if we could sweep away the moral and intellectual cowards that want to have their cake and eat it too; I mean the so-called conservatives who will ignore the pro-life cause when it’s politically expedient, as well as liberal politicians who say they’re “personally opposed” to abortion but want to keep it legal (it doesn’t seem like too much to ask these guys to decide one way or the other whether baby-killing should be outlawed). We should also be quick to excoriate and ridicule shoddy and reprehensible arguments like those made by Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree this week:
Whether to end a pregnancy can be such a personal decision, and it makes sense that a woman would make that decision in a personal way, often talking with those she loves and trusts the most. And if she’s truly going to be able to decide for herself, even about something this personal, we need to build our society in ways that support real decision-making. Is child care available and affordable if she is going to need to work? Is abortion covered by her health plan or by Medicaid if she qualifies for assistance? If not, then maybe she’s not really getting that chance to decide for real.
Notice the utter cowardice of this rhetoric: when a woman wants to keep her child alive, the concern is about “child care;” when a woman wants to kill her baby, any pretense of the child’s humanity is dispensed, and the entire life and fate of the baby is absorbed into the word “abortion,” particularly whether or not the abortion is bankrolled by taxpayer dollars. This is the magical transubstantiation of abortion politics: when it is wanted, a child is a child, and when it’s not wanted, a child is utterly dispensable, a line-item on a Medicaid bill, useful only as a political cudgel for Democratic politicians. This has to change—but we can’t expect it to start without first voting out of office the people who believe dead babies are a matter of sound public policy.
The whole world has been focused on Paris for days now in the wake of Islam’s latest international foray; but don’t worry, farsighted elites like Paul Krugman aren’t forgetting what’s really important:
Sorry, conservatives: when President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might.
Good grief. Even if we could trust climate science as a reliable predictor of future climactic events, the likelihood of its more dire, civilization-ending predictions coming to pass is nonetheless infinitesimally small, or far enough into the future that it’s irrelevant from a civilizational standpoint, or both. It’s far more likely, anyway, that you’ll be executed by Islamist terrorists on the Promenade plantée than that you’ll die by some theoretical effect of climate change. Climate science being a particularly unreliable prognosticator of future climate events, it’s fairly safe to assume that “the worst” will probably never come to pass. Can you say the same about Islamic terrorism? Can Paris, after last week
Krugman’s uncomfortable denial of the facts raises a very important question: why are liberals so terrified to recognize that climate change isn’t that much of a threat, and so reluctant to admit that Islam’s radical terrorist wing is a serious threat? A few answers come to mind. For one, denying the demonstrable threat that radical Islam poses means the Left can continue to believe that conservative Christians are one of the principle enemies of developed civilization. It’s much easier to fight against those pesky Fundamentalist Christian business owners who would rather you pay for your own contraception than it is to fight against the imperialist death-cult that wants to saw your head off with a hunting knife while you’re still alive.
We also see that downplaying Islamist terrorism allows liberals to hype climate change as the genuine existential threat to mankind. This gratifies all types of Leftist biases: against capitalism, against oil companies they perceive as anti-environmental, against the radical individualist consumer culture that fossil-fuel-based capitalist societies have allowed to flourish. Why bother launching a merciless offensive against ISIS when you can promote socialism, public transportation and RICO lawsuits? The former makes liberals uncomfortable because it makes them feel like the caricature of George W. Bush they’ve created in their heads; the latter options make them feel like Captain Planet. Can you blame them?
I don’t have much faith that the Paris attacks will shift the conversation much one way or the other. Our Democratic presidential candidates are unable to even call the problem by its name; they’re convinced, along with President Obama, that the real problem is not ISIS but your SUV; and Republicans have had a decade-and-a-half to prove that they really don’t handle Middle Eastern affairs all that well. It is likely that the upcoming climate talks in Paris will preclude any meaningful attempt to address the issue at all. Instead of figuring out how to stop one of the most significant extant threats to Western civilization, world leaders will instead be discussing how to prevent a theoretical minuscule rise in temperatures that may theoretically produce some adverse effects at some point in the future. This is not a realistic or commendable set of priorities—something we’ll be painfully reminded of after the next attack, and the one after that.
If you were a Muslim terrorist hell-bent on the destruction of the West and the establishment of a worldwide caliphate, what would you think of the West’s reaction to the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris last week? In all likelihood you might be baffled, thinking, “Gee, my imam didn’t say it was going to be this easy.” But that’s the takeaway from the aftermath of the Paris massacre. On Saturday night (Democrats like to hold debates when nobody’s watching), Bernie Sanders managed to signal to our enemies that, no, we are not very serious about—well, much of anything:
Bernie Sanders opened Saturday night’s Democratic debate by vowing to rid the world of ISIS, the terrorist organization that claimed responsibility for killing more than 100 people in Paris Friday. In a follow-up question, moderator John Dickerson pointed out that during a debate last month, Sanders had identified “climate change” as the greatest threat to national security. “Do you still believe that?” asked Dickerson.
“Absolutely,” replied Sanders. He added that “of course international terrorism is a major issue that we have got to address today,” but argued that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” Sanders warned that global warming could cause international conflicts “over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to…grow crops.” You can watch the full exchange above.
Do tell. Out of curiosity: which part of the Paris massacre was tied to “limited amounts of water?” When Islamic terrorists were slaughtering innocent people in the Bataclan one-by-one, were they yelling about “land” and “crops?” Huh, I can’t recall for sure, but it seems unlikely. Maybe it’s because—I don’t know—Islamic terrorism isn’t dependent upon crops, or water, or any of the other eco-doom catastrophe fantasies clunking around in Bernie Sanders’s head. If privation and desperation contribute to terrorism’s growth and spread, then you would expect the opposite—plenty and comfort—to have a counteracting effect, but it really doesn’t work that way: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went to school in North Carolina, Mohamed Atta did graduate studies in Germany, Osama bin Laden was the playboy son of a billionaire…just three examples of terrorists either growing up—or else immersing themselves—in material comfort and security. Yet they still want you dead, and they still ascribe to an ideology in which violence is the defining characteristic and to a religion that has a big problem with violence. Perhaps the principle factor in Islam’s smashing success in the terrorism industry doesn’t have to do with soil friability and the depletion of aquifers in the Fertile Crescent; maybe it’s something more elemental, and much more pressing. Just a thought; call me crazy.
For her part, Hillary Clinton offered a brief primer on the right kind of language to use in the wake of these semi-frequent Islamic attacks:
“If they hear people running for president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam, that was one of the real contributions despite all the other problems that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, ‘We are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We’re at war with violent extremism and we’re at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression,’ ” Clinton said. “And yes we’re at war with those people. But I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.”
I think she may be referring to Bush’s speech at a mosque less than a week after 9/11, in which he declared that “Islam is peace.” That sounded great then, a delightfully counterintuitive and provocative to say when the rubble in New York was still smoking from the suicide attack carried out by Islamic terrorists. But that was almost a decade-and-a-half ago. And we’ve been saying this for almost a decade-and-a-half: “Islam is peace.” “These attacks are just violent extremism.” “Terrorists have hijacked Islam for their own goals.” This sounds good on stage, and it definitely makes you look thoughtful and super-tolerant and all of that good stuff. But after the next massacre, or the next suicide bombing, or the next university shooting, or the next round of crucifixions and homosexual executions—well, will it be worth it to keep repeating, monotonously, that this is “a religion of peace?” Or is it possible that there are certain ingrained elements to Islam that make it much more susceptible to violence than, say, the local Catholic parish or Buddhist temple?
But maybe it’s too late for that kind of thoughtful reflection. Earlier this year, gunmen stormed the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, executed eleven of its staff members, and left shouting “Allahu Akbar!” They did this because the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo had had the temerity to draw caricatures of “the Prophet Muhammad.” Months later they were back in France, again shooting, again yelling “Allahu Akbar,” blowing themselves to pieces in order to once again get their message across. But thankfully Charlie Hebdo wasn’t the target this time: they’ve already affirmed that they won’t be drawing Muhammad anymore, and indeed one Hebdo cartoonist responded to the attacks with an innocuous, inoffensive cartoon demanding that people stop praying for Paris: “We don’t need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and joy!”
A year ago, Charlie Hebdo‘s response to Islamic imperialism was to draw a biting caricature of one of its most sacred religious figures in a fearless and beautiful stand for free expression and freedom of speech. Now? “Eh, we’re not really into that anymore. But we do like kisses and life!”
Hey, that sounds great! Let us know how it works out during the next massacre, won’t you?
Something terrifying and incredible has taken place across large swaths of the American college system this week: a generation of progressive ideology has boiled over and coalesced into a genuinely destructive zeitgeist. Is it hard to describe. At Yale, students formed a furious lynch mob and demanded that the university fire a professor and her husband because the professor said some things that hurt some peoples’ feelings. At the University of Missouri, weeks of students demonstrating against alleged racist activity on campus culminated with both the president and the chancellor resigning. (Think about that for a minute: those two guys probably worked their entire lives to get to those positions, and they simply surrendered them in the face of coddled, infantile idiots.)
Earlier this week I predicted that we would definitely be seeing more resignations as this whole debacle rolled on, and sure enough I was unfortunately right: a Mizzou professor resigned after a furious student backlash. His crime? He refused to cancel a test because some students felt “unsafe” on campus. For that, he had to go.
At Ithaca College, the group “People of Color at Ithaca College,” no doubt emboldened by the stunning coup at Mizzou, demanded that Ithaca’s president resign. At Claremont McKenna, the junior class president resigned in disgrace after committing the unpardonable sin of appearing in a photograph with “two white girls dressed up like Mexican stereotypes with sombreros and maracas.” Later, the dean of students at CMC resigned after student backlash over an awkwardly-worded e-mail A nationwide walkout was planned for Thursday so that students could “protest ballooning student loan debt for higher education and rally for tuition-free public colleges and a minimum wage hike for campus workers;” at Hunter College in New York, some students blamed the “Zionist administration” for their troubles.
The exhausting controversies have also revealed some of the deeply illiberal tendencies that run through much of the journalist class. On Monday, University of Missouri student-journalist Tim Tai was bullied and shrieked at by a paranoid student mob simply because he wanted to document the weird tent city they’d set up on campus. The mob was bullying Tai because the highly visible tent city on public property was meant to be—of course!—a “safe space” for blacks on campus. Apparently Mizzou’s black population is so threatened at school that the only place they can find “safety” is in the middle of the quad.
A wall of nearly-blubbering students (and a faculty member or two) blocked Tai from taking the photographs he had been commissioned to take. The student activist group Concerned Student 1950 tweeted that the “white media” was to blame for not “respecting black spaces;” that tweet was later deleted, perhaps because one of the bright bulbs running the show over there realized that Tim Tai is in fact Asian.
You would think that basically every member of the press would respond negatively to this kind of thuggish behavior, but you’d be wrong. In the Washington Post, “journalist” Terrell Jermaine Starr defended the mob of angry students bullying Tai, claiming that the campus environment is “unbearable” for black students, and that they need a “safe space” where “their blackness could not be violated.” Hey, that’s totally coherent. In the New Yorker—the New Yorker, for God’s sake—Jelani Cobb said that the totalitarian student mindsets at Yale and Mizzou are justified because “the freedom to offend the powerful is not equivalent to the freedom to bully the relatively disempowered.” Actually, it is very much equivalent, at least legally: the Supreme Court makes no distinction between empowerment and disempowerment where free speech is concerned. Perhaps Cobb’s argument is a normative one, or at least a moral one—but that’s still just breathtakingly obtuse: college students in America are transforming into little censoring tyrants because—well, because this one lady made a mildly complex argument about Halloween costumes, and oh also this little Asian photographer was trying to take our picture.
This is what has happened. Perhaps it would be remiss of me or any of us to make any predictions as to what will happen next. One is tempted to believe that these students, tired of behaving like psychotic tantrummy third-graders, will eventually grow weary of sleeping in tents and screaming at innocent people, and everyone will just go back to their dorms and move on. It happened with Occupy Wall Street, a movement that was supposed to change the world but only succeeded in pooping all over itself for a few weeks before being broken up by municipal police forces. Perhaps this soi-disant campus revolution will suffer the same fate. Then again, there is a noteworthy difference: while the Occupy protests were composed of functionally useless, powerless layabouts, these campus protests have demonstrable power: they toppled two of the highest functionaries at the University of Missouri, and they will surely want to collect more scalps before this is all over. One sympathizes with university employees around the country, whose jobs are suddenly looking a lot more fraught. If you don’t work on a college campus, be very grateful. If you do work on a college campus—be very afraid.
What is the purpose of college? Earlier this week I wrote about the totalitarian anti-free-speech student movement at Yale: students on that campus were demanding that a professor and her husband be fired after the former told the student body to stop freaking out over peoples’ Halloween costumes. We have become somewhat inured to this infantile hysteria, I think, to the point where many people aren’t as astounded by this as they should be: a teacher wrote an e-mail telling her studentry to relax, and this is how they respond. Have we forgotten how to be shocked by such a jaw-dropping display of childish idiocy?
But that’s nothing. On Monday, student activists at the University of Missouri successfully forced both the president and the chancellor of the university to resign. The high crime of these two disgraced administrators was this: allegedly, President Wolfe and Chancellor Loftin were both insufficiently attentive to a few claims of racist behavior on campus. For this, they had to go: they could not stay. Never mind that Chancellor Loftin is on record condemning the alleged racist acts. Never mind that President Wolfe met with the students a few weeks ago in good faith. That was not enough. Liberal campus activism is not merely a ravenous beast; it’s an unquenchable one. Do we think that Mizzou’s screeching student mob will be satisfied with this? Are we really under the impression that there won’t be another Wolfe, and another Loftin?
Hence the important and implacable question above: what is the purpose of college? Is it a place for educators to educate and students to learn? A decent percentage of Yale’s student body has apparently rejected this idea outright: faced with intellectual diversity and dissenting opinion, the response has been thus: “FIRE THEM.” Is the point of college to turn students into competent, mature adults who can handle some of the world’s ugliness without collapsing into shrieking, babbling babies? Presented with this opportunity, the University of Missouri’s student body responded: “FIRE THEM.” Given any opinion even mildly confusing or distressing or disagreeable, students from New England on down have only one solution: fire, fire, fire.
This is real, not some weird fictional dystopian wasteland: the future of American colleges is looking less and less like a London debating society and more and more like a neverending NKVD troika. No intellectualism, no inquiry, no tolerance of any kind: just hate, anger, fear and the endless demands of self-abasement and sacrifice.
Perhaps it’s not as bad as it seems, and this nonsense will work itself out and disappear with a whimper. This is, unfortunately, doubtful: as Heather Mac Donald points out, now that college students know how easy it is to bring down top-tier university administrators, the problem will likely only get worse. This is, of course, something that universities and colleges have helped create: a student body that is both incredibly delicate, intellectually shallow and very angry. Now they must deal with the consequences, and for many embattled university employees, the consequences will consist of the same four words: “I’m resigning, effective immediately.”
Having been out of college for years now, it is sometimes difficult for me to remember just how bad things have gotten on the modern college campus—how narrow the environment has become, and how easily so many students have adopted a frankly totalitarian worldview. At Yale last week, a genuinely astonishing student response followed a couple of racial controversies. One fraternity allegedly turned away some partygoers because they were black; meanwhile, a Yale professor and wife of the master of Silliman College voiced her opinion that, hey, maybe we shouldn’t be freaking out about “offensive” Halloween costumes, let alone dictating what kinds of costumes people should wear.
Well. The alleged fraternity incident may not have happened at all; its veracity, in any event, is seriously in question. As for Erika Christakis’s letter, it is wholly—almost annoyingly—academic. If you’ve only heard about this letter from the media, then you probably think it’s some reactionary foot-stamping white girl screed, but it’s honestly not: Christakis voices sincere concern about “cultural and personal representation” and the “challenges to our lived experience in a plural community;” she explains that it is perfectly fine to talk about “complex issues of identify [sic], free speech, cultural appropriation and virtue ‘signalling.'” She just thinks it’s taking it a bit too far to be offended by a white girl’s dressing up like Mulan for Halloween. “What,” she asks, “does this debate about Halloween costumes say about our view of young adults, of their strength and judgment?”
Boy, she got her answer. The student response—which included a “chalking event,” an angry mob demanding action from the Dean, and an hysterical public denunciation of Erika Christakis’s husband—was nothing short of outlandish: all of this over a harmless e-mail and some alleged scummy fraternity racism that may or may not have actually happened. The students demanded of Dean Holloway “additional black faculty, racial sensitivity training for freshmen and the dismissal of administrators viewed as racially inattentive.” Assuredly this will not be enough; it is never enough, and if Yale’s studentry is demanding this response simply because of the events of the past week, you can be virtually certain that they will want more. One junior—that is to say, a person who is presumably twenty-one years old if not older—said of Erika Christakis’s message: “There was so much coded language in that e-mail that is just disrespectful.” Got it. The Washington Post reported: “Several students in Silliman said they cannot bear to live in the college anymore.” And: “Thursday evening, students were drafting a formal letter calling for the removal of Christakis and his wife from their roles in Silliman.” Okay.
We have got a problem on our college campuses, one that is almost exclusively the fault of the Left: college students—grown men and women—are incapable of living in the real world. College is becoming—and in some places already is—a place not to learn but to utterly and completely banish even the pretext of learning anything at all. The fraternity incident, of course, should be investigated, and if true then the fraternity itself should be shut down; in the meantime it is incredible that the student body has become so exercised over something so unsubstantiated. And as for the plight of the Christakises: it is difficult to imagine a more overblown and histrionic response over something so plainly unremarkable. If you were wondering about the “strength and judgment” of Yale’s student body, here it is: they have little of the latter and none of the former.
How is Yale to respond to something like the Silliman College debacle? I would propose something along the lines of zero-tolerance: the administration should be publicly and absolutely opposed to the kind of illiberal hysterics currently on display at Yale. Dean Holloway could release a quick, succinct statement along these lines: “We have reviewed the evidence and concluded that Erika Christakis has done nothing wrong. We will be firing neither her nor her husband. This matter is closed. In the future, please refrain from having emotional meltdowns over inoffensive comments from our dedicated and competent faculty.”
That would be the ideal response. But how have the faculty responded thus far?
“We failed you,” Peter Salovey, a psychologist, told more than 40 students gathered in the ornate room where the Yale Corporation meets, on the top floor of the president’s office.
Yes. You did.
Over at the Atlantic and in response to this week’s elections, Molly Ball declares that “liberals are losing the culture wars.” Admittedly this is the headline of the piece, and writers do not generally author their own headlines; Ball’s conclusions are not nearly as triumphalist. Just the same, she finds Tuesday’s liberal failures—Houston’s transgender bill, the ousting of San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the rejected Ohio marijuana legalization bill, and Matt Bevin’s impressive trouncing of Jack Conway in the Kentucky gubernatorial race—as indications that the culture wars are turning in favor of the Right.
I’m afraid I do not quite share Ball’s enthusiasm or optimism. For starters, I think that, regarded properly, the failure of the Ohio marijuana bill is actually a failure for the Right; I think drug legalization is more naturally a conservative position and drug criminalization is more at home in the progressive camp, the latter of which is often happy to throw people in jail for just about everything apart from getting gay married. As for the other victories, they are very welcome, and Matt Bevin (who is strongly pro-life) may actually get some good done in Kentucky. But I do not find them to be harbingers of conservative glory. There is still so much work to be done, and so very little of it has to do with simply winning elections.
That being said, Ball mentions one other Republican success from this past Tuesday that was both immensely satisfying and also indicative of an ongoing conservative victory: in Virginia’s 10th Senate District, Republican Glen Sturtevant trounced his Democratic opponent Dan Gecker, leaving the General Assembly in control of Republicans for the remainder of Terry McAuliffe’s mercifully term-limited time in office. Gecker unsurprisingly carried the city, but Sturtevant clinched three Chesterfield precincts, one of which had been Gecker’s while he served on the Board of Supervisors. Three Chesterfield locations showed turnout increase of more than 100% from the last election; similar increases were found at locations which Gecker clinched—but Sturtevant’s favorable turnout in Chesterfield was the pivotal part of the race, with the Republican carrying the county by 3,500 votes.
So what’s the big deal? The 10th District, after all, has voted Republican for nearly two decades (though to be fair, three of those elections were uncontested). The big deal is this: the clincher turnout in Chesterfield was assuredly motivated in no small part by the gun control ad blitz that Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety ran near the end of the race. Bloomberg’s group dropped $700,000 on a series of ads supporting Gecker claiming that Sturtevant’s refusal to “close” the “gun show loophole” was going to “make Virginia families less safe.” Those are outlandish, propagandistic lies, of course—but such things can be useful for scaring people and ginning up frightened votes. That’s what Everytown for Gun Safety was banking on. And Everytown lost: nearly three-quarters of a million dollars and bupkis to show for it.
This is evidence not of a turning point in the culture wars but rather the re-affirmation of one of the United States’s timeless political facts: we Americans love our guns, and we are very jealous of our Second Amendment rights. We do not like it when people threaten to take our Second Amendment rights away—and that is precisely was Everytown for Gun Safety would love to do. Gun control is consistently unpopular with great swaths of the American public; politicians who run on this issue risk political failure, and politicians who pass such legislation while in office risk getting fired. There have been successful efforts to pass gun control legislation over the past few years, but they are few and far between, and they are often toothless, and in any event the most recent gun control blitz a couple of years ago was itself eclipsed by a concurrent rise in successful gun-rights legislation at the state level. That’s right: when gun controllers really get going, their effort is more likely to liberalize guns rather than restrict them.
There is, assuredly, work to be done on this front: we need a better mental health system (and a better cultural understanding of and approach to mental health disorders); we also need to ruthlessly prosecute the straw buyers, corrupt firearm dealers and other criminals that traffic and profit in the illegal gun trade. But as Virginia’s 10th Senate District race shows us, the one thing most Americans are not willing to do is be bullied by a dishonest fearmongering gun control group that can only spread its message by peddling falsehoods. The Left may have the upper hand on the culture wars—but they continually fail when it comes to guns, and they will likely continue to do so. Thank goodness.