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March 2018

Passing the Torch to China? By Lawrence J. Haas

UNFOLDING EVENTS IN Washington and Beijing raise the disturbing specter of a global passing of the torch from the United States to China, one with frightening implications for freedom and democracy.

First, President Donald Trump seemed to applaud from afar as China’s leader consolidates his power over a more authoritarian government at home, while the regime promotes its model of governance in increasingly aggressive terms abroad. Second, Trump announced that he will slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum and welcome a trade war that most of the world, and most of his own Republican Party, dreads.

These events may seem unrelated, but they’re really sides of the same coin, for they both signal a U.S. retreat from defending the Western liberal order of free-market capitalism and democratic government that it did so much to nourish in the decades since World War II.

Let’s take these one at a time.

In Beijing, the Communist Party is amending China’s constitution to end presidential term limits, enabling Xi Jinping to remain as party chief and Chinese president for as long as he likes and, thus, become China’s most powerful leader since Mao.

Palestinians: The Arabs Do Not Care about Us by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinians appear to be the only ones in the Arab world who are coming out on a daily basis against a plan no one has seen.

This Arab apathy towards the Palestinians is the result of a long-standing belief in the Arab world that the Palestinians are an ungrateful people who do not hesitate to bite the hand that feeds them.

When Trump finally does announce his Middle East peace plan, the Palestinians will discover that they are alone in threatening to thwart it.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been working hard to persuade the Arab countries to support its position in the standoff with the US administration.

The PA leadership in Ramallah fears that without the backing of the Arab countries, the US administration will “impose” President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” — the yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.

The Arab countries, however, appear to be preoccupied with other matters. For now, the Palestinians are getting much lip service from their Arab brothers, including promises to put pressure on the Trump administration possibly to “modify” its plan to make it less “harmful” to Palestinian demands and aspirations.

What is actually happening is that the PA leadership is terrified that many of the Arab countries will support the Trump plan, thus abandoning their Palestinian brothers and leaving them exposed to international pressure to accept the “deal of the century.” This fear does not seem to be unjustified.

Peter Smith ‘Gender’ Warriors Drop the Ball

Heinz gets by with a mere 57 varieties, while the latest fashion in human sexuality purports to discern 112 strains of gender. What academics and activists won’t acknowledge is the injustice of conventional women being bulldozed by a 6’6″ ruckperson formerly known as Bruce.

These days you can find ‘educated people’ correcting you if you use the word ‘sex’ to refer to either of the two categories which divide humans (and most other beings) according to their reproductive function. Do you mean “gender” they will say. Hmm? The fairer gender?

You will read John Stuart Mill’s essay on The Subjection of Women without once coming across the word gender. Plenty of “sex” no “gender.” Gender is a modern construction when applied biologically to distinguish men from women. It has caught on because it lends itself to fragmentation. Sex is binary. Gender, apparently, can be a continuum of finely divided sexual orientations.

Those in the know claim there are many complex gender variations among folk on the planet. As I am not one of those in the know I Googled. Prominently, on the first page of search results, was a site, apath.org. It listed 63 genders broken down by physicality, personality, preference and descriptor. For example, number 57 was an “Androgyne, female-attracted hermaphromale.” Mindboggling.

Another site lifehacker.com.au was less ambitious in referring to a Queensland University survey which listed in less exotic terms 33 different genders. Even so, the meaning of descriptors such as neutrois, genderqueer, demigender, and trigender, are not immediately obvious (to me). I re-Googled with a slightly different query. Up popped Tumblr, wherein ambition knows no prosaic bounds. Tumblr is a social-network blogging site; which, I concede, heretofore, has escaped my attention. On my count, it lists 112 different gender types. Maybe it’s a spoof? I would like to think so. Take the first one on the list.

“Abimegender: a gender that is profound, deep, and infinite; meant to resemble when one mirror is reflecting into another mirror creating an infinite paradox.”

This and most other of their gender types are even more mysterious to me than are cryptocurrencies and blockchains. I am out of my depth and must move on.

What I am moving onto is men’s and women’s sports, which I do understand. Or I did. Now I have a deep sense of unease about the whole business of sex-segregated sports. Even mixed doubles in tennis is open to interpretation as to how mixed it is or has to be.

Steve Kates The Future is a Judgmental Father- A Review of Jordan Peterson’s Book

Jordan Peterson, Canadian academic and scourge of the politically correct, begins his Australian tour this month. Here, liberated from the paywall of our latest issue, is Steve Kates’ review of his book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”. Please subscribe and make sure there are more.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
by Jordan B. Peterson
Allen Lane, 2018, 448 pages, $35

Jordan Peterson may well be the deepest, clearest voice of conservative thought in the world today. In the space of less than a year he has risen from being a relatively obscure professor of psychology at the University of Toronto to becoming perhaps the most articulate defender of the values of the West to have arisen in the last fifty years. I can think of no one in recent times who has been able to reach such depths of understanding, but with such an extraordinary ability to make plain his meaning to such large numbers of people. You should, of course, read his 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, but you should also watch as many of his online presentations as you can if you are interested in understanding, and preserving, the values of our Western civilisation.
This review appears in the latest Quadrant.
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He came to my attention in three stages. The first was through a battle he fought with the government of Canada over amendments to its Human Rights Act. What drew my attention were only in part the issues themselves, but probably more important for me was that he is a professor at my own alma mater in the city where I was born and grew up. The issue that made him newsworthy was that the Canadian government had made it illegal not to use the specific pronouns an individual wished to have applied to them in conversation. As Peterson put it as part of his testimony to the Canadian Parliament, the issue was that “refusing to refer to a person by their self-identified name and proper personal pronoun” constitutes gender-based harassment which could get you fined, and if you refused to pay the fine, could land you in jail. This is from his testimony:

I don’t think the people who initiated this legislation ever expected that there would be an absolute explosion of identities, first of all, and also of so-called personal pronouns, as there has been. I think Facebook now recognizes something like 71 separate gender identity categories, each of which in principle is associated with its own set of pronouns. So linguistically, it has become a parody. It has become linguistically unmanageable. Words can’t be introduced into the language by fiat. I can’t think of a time when that actually worked. We are not sure how words enter the common parlance, but it’s certainly not that way. So the legislation devolves into a kind of absurdity.

He then goes beyond the issue of personal pronouns into a full-scale attack on the cultural Marxism that is now standard in universities across the globe:

I’ve been following the battle of ideologies on campus for a long period of time. I suppose I have some expertise in that. There is an ideological war that is ripping the campuses apart. It’s essentially between an ideological variant that is rooted in what has come to be known as post-modernism, with a neo-Marxist base, and modernism, I would say. That’s accounting for all the turmoil on the campuses. I see this as an extension of this campus turmoil into the broader world …

I said that I believe that this is a vanguard issue in a kind of ideological war and that I’m not going to participate on the side of the people whose ideological stance I find unforgivable and reprehensible, especially the Marxist element of it. I announced that I wasn’t going to use these words because I don’t believe they are instantiated to protect anyone’s rights. I believe the ideologues who are pushing this movement are using unsuspecting and sometimes complicit members of the so-called transgender community to push their ideological vanguard forward.

Why Christians Support Israel By Dennis Prager

They believe in supporting American allies and supporting countries that share their moral values.

In speeches to fellow Jews around America, I often point out that many American Jews are experiencing cognitive dissonance. The institution Jews most admire — the university — turns out to be the most significant source of Israel hatred in America and the rest of the West. At the same time, the people many Jews most distrust — Christians (especially Evangelical and other conservative Christians) — turn out to be the Jews’ and Israel’s best friends.

Given that these two facts are undeniable, how do many American Jews deal with this dissonance? They largely ignore the Israel hatred on campuses, and they dismiss the authenticity of the Christian support. They dismiss it by denying it is genuine. Christians who support Israel, they (and non-Jews on the left) argue, do so for two deceptive reasons.

One is they seek to convert Jews.

That Christians seek to convert non-Christians is, of course, true. The primary aim of Christianity, after all, is to spread belief in Christ. But why would anyone think supporting Israel will convert Jews? Does anyone think that Christians who support Israel’s enemies are making Muslims convert to Christianity? The fact is there isn’t a shred of evidence that Jews have converted to Christianity because of Christian support for Israel. Indeed, the Jews who most support Israel are either the most religious or the most strongly identifying secular Jews. Neither is a candidate for conversion.

The Left’s Farrakhan Problem By Rich Lowry

“Time’s up,” the slogan of the Hollywood anti-harassment movement, has a very different meaning for Louis Farrakhan.

At his annual Saviours’ Day conference in Chicago last weekend, the Nation of Islam leader boasted, “And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”

Farrakhan is as immodest as he is anti-Semitic. He may seem like yesterday’s Jew-hater, since he could never gather the kind of crowds he did for the so-called Million Man March in Washington, D.C., 20 years ago. Yet he still has a following. Thousands showed up to hear him spew his usual garbage during his Saviours’ Day speech, including one of the organizers of the Women’s March.

The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, calls Farrakhan “quite possibly, the most popular anti-Semite in America today.” Certainly, the haters of the alt-right don’t measure up. The white nationalist Richard Spencer would surely love to get Farrakhan’s crowds and have such a relatively robust institutional presence and publishing operation, let alone manage to maintain influence with more mainstream figures.

Tamika Mallory, the Women’s March organizer, wasn’t abashed about her attendance at the rally. She posted a video on Instagram of herself at the event, and showed no sign of distress at Farrakhan’s greatest hits (“the powerful Jews are my enemy”; Jews are “the mother and father of apartheid”; “when you want something in this world, the Jew holds the door”; the Jews control Mexico, and a swath of Europe; and any number of other vicious lies).

An Obama Photo Worth a Thousand Lies The photos the media reports on… and those it doesn’t. Daniel Greenfield

This week, a major news story broke. A 2-year-old girl was photographed looking at a really terrible painting of Michelle Obama.

“‘A moment of awe’: Photo of little girl captivated by Michelle Obama portrait goes viral,” the Washington Post cheered. “Little girl awestruck by Michelle Obama’s portrait believes she’s a queen,” urgently reported CNN. The sum total of this story is that a little girl looked at a portrait of Michelle.

Eat your heart out, North Korea. Our fake news propaganda is even tackier than yours.

Recently, a photo was released of Barack Obama meeting with Louis Farrakhan. The photo had been suppressed all these years to protect Obama’s career. Farrakhan was the racist leader of a hate group who had praised Hitler and described Jews as “satanic”. And yet he had met with the future president at a Congressional Black Caucus event. A CBC member, Rep. Danny Davis, had even praised Farrakhan.

You might think there’s a story in all that. And you would be wrong.

There isn’t a single Washington Post story on the photo. Not one. The same paper that believed its readers needed to be informed that a little girl had been photographed looking at a bad painting of Michelle Obama hasn’t found the time to report on the cover up of a meeting between top Democrats, including a future president, and the leader of a racist hate group that had once allied with the KKK.

It’s not that the Washington Post can’t report on Farrakhan. Or use Farrakhan to attack a president.

In ’15, the Post ran, “The bigotry of Trump and Farrakhan” and in ’16, “Why the Nation of Islam is praising Donald Trump”. Its stories about Obama and Farrakhan insist that the two men hate each other. A ’15 piece even attempted to link Farrakhan to Clarence Thomas, instead of Obama.

More Never-Trump Moral Preening Smug self-congratulation and groveling delight in being praised by progressives. Bruce Thornton

President Trump in his first year has succeeded at realizing many long-time conservative goals like tax reform and deregulation, to name a few. But for NeverTrump grumps, these achievements seem to intensify their bitter-ender anger at a political parvenu. Puffed up with self-regard about the purity of their “principles,” many have doubled-down on their criticisms of Trump’s brash, vulgar demeanor, coming off like the pompous Judge Smails sputtering over Al Czervik’s trashing of the Bushwood Country Club.

The latest outburst came from columnist Mona Charen after she lectured the CPAC attendees about their hypocrisy over the recent sexual harassment disclosures. Writing for The New York Times––the premier gate-keeper of “correct” opinion –– Charen reprised her scolding of Trump supporters that signaled to progressive monitors she is free from the Trump pox. But all she achieved beyond a pat on the head from progressives was to remind Trump voters why they rejected over a dozen establishment Republicans and then the deplorable Hillary Clinton in favor of an insurgent bulldozing his way through the stale received wisdom of those Republican politicians and pundits who’d rather be liked than win.

Most of Charen’s column comprises her self-congratulation about her “bravery,” and her claim that she and other NeverTrumpers “built and organized this party,” but now have been turned into “interlopers.” She criticizes as cowards Republicans who don’t trash Trump, and who have let “bad actors take control of the direction of our movement.” It’s interesting how Charen let slip the NeverTrumpers’ anger at the “Trumpified” common people who have crashed the elite’s private soirée, as though a political party is a swanky country club rather than a mechanism for mobilizing support for policies that serve all party members rather than a narrow political class.

This is the same thinly veiled snobbery, by the way, regularly indulged by arch-NeverTrumper Bret Stephens, who has joined David Brooks as another Times house-conservative. Stephens was delighted with Charen’s performance, and in his own column delivered perhaps the most useful explanation for why millions of Americans turned against the establishment and its mouthpieces:

Liberals tend to admire NeverTrumpers, because they see them as conservatives with a moral sense and, perhaps, a brain. By contrast, MAGA Republicans — whether of the fully or merely semi-Trumpified varieties — detest NeverTrumpers with an animus they can scarcely extend to liberals or progressives.

Police Probes Against Netanyahu: There is No There There Why the case that spells the Israeli Prime Minister’s doom is no case at all.

One of the distressing aspects of the police probes against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is that police seem to be attributing criminality to normal policy-making.

To date, the Bezeq-Walla investigation, dubbed Case 4000 by the police, is being presented as the mother lode – the probe that will sink Netanyahu.

Case 4000 exploded last week with pre-dawn arrests of some of the most powerful people in Israel. Telecommunications giant Bezeq’s owner Shaul Elovitch, his wife, Iris, and their son Or were nabbed in their beds. So was Netanyahu’s former communications chief Nir Hefetz and former director-general of the Communications Ministry and Netanyahu confidante Shlomo Filber.

The headlines screamed “Bribery!” And the reports were no calmer.

The media reported that the police have hard evidence Netanyahu and Filber colluded to give Netanyahu’s crony Elovitch hundreds of millions of shekels in tax and regulatory breaks for Bezeq. In exchange, Elovitch, who also owns the popular Walla Internet site, agreed to give positive coverage of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on Walla’s news site.

Before we could consider the evidence, Netanyahu’s fate was sealed. He was a goner.

But when the smoke cleared, it became apparent that there isn’t anything there.

Kim Jong-un’s Peace Gambit Why any dialogue with the North Korean regime must be pursued with caution. Joseph Klein

It appears that the outreach to South Korea by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, which began in the lead-up to and during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, did not end with the Olympics closing ceremony. Kim Jong-un has just hosted talks with a high-level delegation from South Korea, led by its national security director Chung Eui-yong. The South Korean delegation came away believing that these talks have borne some fruit. A possible summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in was discussed, which could occur in late April at the so-called Peace House, which is located on the South Korean side of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone. In the meantime, the two Koreas have reportedly agreed to set up a telephone hotline between the leaders of both countries.

The South Koreans also indicated that North Korea would agree to halt tests of its nuclear weapons and missiles in conjunction with opening talks with the United States on the denuclearization issue. According to Chung Eui-yong, the North Koreans are looking for a credible security guarantee and the end to military threats against it, in which case they believed they would not need to keep their nuclear arsenal. He claimed that North Korea was interested “in an open-ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearization and to normalize relations with North Korea.” Notably, Kim Jong-un is said to have withdrawn, at least for now, his insistence that the United States and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises as a precondition to any negotiations. “Kim Jong-un simply said he could understand why the joint exercises must resume in April on the same scale as before,” Mr. Chung declared. “But he said he expected them to be readjusted if the situation on the Korean Peninsula stabilizes in the future.”