Korda’s family was moviemaking royalty. His uncle, Alexander, was a renowned producer and director, married to actress Merle Oberon, and his father, Vincent, was a film art director. When war broke out, the family production company, London Films, was in the midst of one of its most ambitious projects, the Arabian fantasy movie “The Thief of Bagdad.”
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
An op-ed praising 1950s values provokes another campus meltdown— from the deans on down.
By Heather Mac Donald
September 18, 2017
Amy Wax and Larry Alexander
To the list of forbidden ideas on American college campuses, add “bourgeois norms”—hard work, self-discipline, marriage and respect for authority. Last month, two law professors published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a revival of the “cultural script” that prevailed in the 1950s and still does among affluent Americans: “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. . . . Eschew substance abuse and crime.” The weakening of these traditional norms has contributed to today’s low rates of workforce participation, lagging educational levels and widespread opioid abuse, the professors argued.
The op-ed triggered an immediate uproar at the University of Pennsylvania, where one of its authors, Amy Wax, teaches. The dean of the Penn law school, Ted Ruger, published an op-ed in the student newspaper noting the “contemporaneous occurrence” of the op-ed and a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and suggesting that Ms. Wax’s views were “divisive, even noxious.” Half of Ms. Wax’s law-faculty colleagues signed an open letter denouncing her piece and calling on students to report any “bias or stereotype” they encounter “at Penn Law ” (e.g., in Ms. Wax’s classroom). Student and alumni petitions poured forth accusing Ms. Wax of white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia and demanding that she be banned from teaching first-year law classes.
Ms. Wax’s co-author, Larry Alexander, teaches at the University of San Diego, a Catholic institution. USD seemed to be taking the piece in stride—until last week. The dean of USD’s law school, Stephen Ferruolo, issued a schoolwide memo repudiating Mr. Alexander’s article and pledging new measures to compensate “vulnerable, marginalized” students for the “racial discrimination and cultural subordination” they experience.
USD’s response is more significant than Penn’s, because it is more surprising. While USD has embraced a “social justice” mission in recent decades, the law school itself has been less politicized. It has one of the highest proportions of nonleftist professors in the country—about a quarter of the faculty. Mr. Ferruolo, a corporate lawyer with strong ties to the biotech industry, presented himself until recently as mildly conservative. If USD is willing to match Penn’s hysterical response to the Wax-Alexander op-ed, is there any educational institution remaining that will defend its faculty members against false accusations of racism should they dissent from orthodoxy?
Two aspects of the op-ed have generated the most outrage. Ms. Wax and Mr. Alexander observed that cultures are not all “equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy.” Their critics pounced on this statement as a bigoted, hate-filled violation of the multicultural ethic. In his response, Penn’s Dean Ruger proclaimed that “as a scholar and educator I reject emphatically any claim that a single cultural tradition is better than all others.” But that wasn’t the claim the authors were making. Rather, they argued that bourgeois culture is better than underclass culture—specifically, “the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks.” The authors’ criticism of white underclass behavior has been universally suppressed in the stampede to accuse them of “white supremacy.”
The op-ed’s other offense was extolling the 1950s for that decade’s embrace of bourgeois virtues. “Nostalgia for the 1950s breezes over the truth of inequality and exclusion,” five Penn faculty assert in yet anotherop-ed for the student newspaper. In fact, Mr. Alexander and Ms. Wax expressly acknowledged that era’s “racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism.”
None of the professors’ high-placed critics have engaged with any of their arguments. Mr. Ferruolo’s schoolwide letter was one of the worst examples. The dean simply announced that Mr. Alexander’s “views” were not “representative of the views of our law school community” and suggested that they were insensitive to “many students” who feel “vulnerable, marginalized or fearful that they are not welcomed.” He did not raise any specific objections to Mr. Alexander’s arguments, or even reveal what the arguments were.
Instead, he promised more classes, speakers and workshops on racism; more training on racial sensitivity; and a new committee to devise further diversity measures. Stronger racial preferences will most certainly follow. The implication of this bureaucratic outpouring is that the law-school faculty is full of bigots. In reality, Mr. Alexander and his colleagues are among the most tolerant people in human history, and every University of San Diego law student is among the most privileged—simply by virtue of being at an institution with such unfettered intellectual resources. The failure of administrators like Mr. Ferruolo to answer delusional student narcissism with obvious truth is an abdication of their responsibility to lead students toward an adult understanding of reality.
What are university administrators and faculty so afraid of? The Wax-Alexander op-ed confronted important issues responsibly and with solid grounding in social-science research. Each of these administrative capitulations sends a message to professors not to challenge the reigning ideology. The result is an ever more monolithic intellectual environment on American campuses, where behavioral analyses of social problems may not even be whispered. What happens to America if those banned ideas turn out to be true?
Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The War on Cops” (Encounter, 2016).
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
by Douglas Murray
September 19, 2017
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a town hall with high school students in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 3, 2016. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
September 19, 2017
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a town hall with high school students in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 3, 2016. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Bombings and other terrorist attacks are now a common feature of life in modern Europe. On just one day (September 15, 2017), an improvised explosive device was placed on a London Underground train, a man wielding a knife and shouting "Allah" attacked a soldier in Paris, and a man with a hammer shouting "Allahu Akbar" badly wounded two women in Lyon. As the former Prime Minister of France and the present Mayor of London have put it, perhaps this is all just a price we have to pay for living in big cities in Europe in the 21st century: we have traffic congestion, great restaurants and terrorist attacks.
Of course, the public are all the time worrying about other things -- not just whether all this is just a taste of something worse to come, but whether anything might be done to stop it. While our political leaders continue to view this as a narrow security-related question, the public can see that it is also a border-security and mass-immigration issue. Across the continent, poll after poll shows the European public continuously calling for migration into Europe to be slowed down. This plea is not due to some atavistic urge or distasteful racist instinct, but something that the public seems to intuit better than their politicians -- which is that if you do not have control of your borders, with a meaningful set of immigration laws and the right to keep people out of your country then you do not really have a country.
Since the upsurge in Europe's migration crisis in 2015, when Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel unilaterally decided to suspend normal border checks and turn an already existing flow of migrants into a tidal wave, politicians and the public have divided from each other over this issue. While the public want their representatives to control their borders, politicians seem to see only political capital in running the other way. In part this is because there appears to be some kind of "bonus" to be achieved by looking welcoming and kindly in contrast to the unwelcoming and mean things that borders now appear to represent.
Politicians such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada have used the opportunity of Europe's migration catastrophe to grandstand and present themselves as offering a different way. In the wake of Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric on building a wall along the US-Mexican border, Trudeau in particular has presented himself as the yin to Donald Trump's yang. In January, when President Trump was sworn into office, Trudeau sent out a Tweet reading, "To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength." To which he added the hashtag, #WelcomeToCanada. In March of this year, in another clear response to the US President, Trudeau tweeted, "Regardless of who you are or where you come from, there's always a place for you in Canada" -- a tall order, given the existence of 7.5 billion people on this earth, many of whom are not already Canadian.
The movement which the Canadian Prime Minister appears to be auditioning to lead is one which seeks (as protestors often put it) to "build bridges not walls". It is an attractive slogan, although anyone who utters it cannot have been to London recently where (after attacks on Westminster and London Bridge within just a few weeks) the city's bridges are covered in security walls and barricades. Which might suggest that the "walls and bridges issue" is not, after all, an either/or business, or even the central issue at all.
Yet, given this considerable grandstanding in the early part of the year, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh now at the situation in which Prime Minister Trudeau finds himself. In recent months, thousands of migrants, most of them from Haiti, have crossed the border -- illegally -- from the US into Canada. This influx -- tiny by European standards -- has already started to buckle the Canadian immigration system. Hundreds of migrants have had to be housed in emergency tent villages set up by the Canadian army and many have been temporarily housed at the old Olympic stadium in Montreal.
Unlike many of the migrants still daily moving into Europe, the migrants arriving in Canada are not fleeing war, persecution or poverty. They are simply people who are not keen to end up on the wrong side of America's immigration laws now that there is a president who may (though may just as likely not) enforce those laws. As a Washington Post report has put it, "Though they've been lazily framed as 'fleeing Trump,' most of the Haitians appear motivated by a desire to dodge American laws they don't care to obey."
By the end of August, it was estimated that almost 12,000 people had arrived in Canada through this route so far this year. It is a number that constitutes little more than an averagely busy week in Italy at any time over recent years. But even this comparatively tiny movement across an entire year has proven too much for Canada. At the end of last month Trudeau told reporters:
"For someone to successfully seek asylum it's not about economic migration. It's about vulnerability, exposure to torture or death, or being stateless people. If they are seeking asylum we'll evaluate them on the basis of what it is to be a refugee or asylum seeker. You will not be at an advantage if you choose to enter Canada irregularly. You must follow the rules and there are many."
Of course, this is a very different tune to the one he had been advantageously -- perhaps even opportunistically -- playing to date. When he was trying to present a clear alternative to European and American leaders at the start of 2017, there was no talk of "irregular" or "regular" entry, or of the "many" rules. Before he experienced his own tiny trickle of migration, Trudeau spoke only of there always being a "place" for everyone in the world who wanted to come to Canada. How things can change when even the tiniest dose of reality hits.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
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Saturday, September 16, 2017
Manifestations of Evil Illuminate the Supernatural
Things We Can’t Explain Or Ward Off
If the Devil Did Exist
Testifying to the Existence of God
The same thought is expressed at the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s screenplay for “Devil”: “If the Devil is real, then God must be real too.” Great minds think alike.
Easy for Clooney to say, the skeptic replies. He had the benefit of being attacked by stripper-vampires who rose up from a buried Aztec Temple. Who among us is likely to receive such direct evidence of the supernatural? But isn’t that why Friedkin made his documentary? The evidence is there for those who will look for it—not to satisfy lurid curiosity, but to deepen faith.
Thanks to movies like “The Exorcist,” “The Omen,” and even less overtly religious films like “It,” evil remains the most shocking and eye-catching advertisement for good. Evil is like Wile E. Coyote pursuing the Roadrunner: the coyote’s attempts to be clever lead to his inevitable failure while demonstrating the roadrunner’s speed and grace. That is the universe’s greatest irony, after all. No matter how hard evil tries, it merely ends up testifying to the existence of good. It must be frustrating.
Sam Buntz is a writer based in Connecticut. His work has appeared in The Federalist, The Washington Monthly, and Pop Matters. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, his writing often focuses on the intersection of religion, politics, and pop culture.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Voters found her unappealing, and they rejected Bernie’s ideology too.
By Kimberly A. Strassel
September 14, 2017
Republicans have issues, but Democrats have them too. Witness the two individuals who dominated this week’s news—and who conveniently represent the left’s most crippling problems.
Hillary Clinton is again everywhere, touting her new memoir and adding to the list of who and what are to blame for her loss: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, James Comey, Jill Stein, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Anthony Weiner, sexism, misogyny, the New York Times , lazy women, liberal activists and the “godforsaken Electoral College.” All she’s missing is climate change.
Hillary’s take on “What Happened” has unsurprisingly unleashed another round of analysis about her mistakes—Wisconsin, deplorables, email. These sorts of detailed postmortems of failed campaigns are popular, but they tend to obscure the bigger reasons for failure. In this case: The Democratic Party saddled itself with an ethically compromised and joyless candidate, because it had nobody else.
Hillary spent eight years planning her first presidential bid, and the next eight warning Democrats not to get in the way of her second. The Clinton Foundation was erected to serve as bank and Rolodex, and to enable the Clintons to retain their grip over the party. And that party was committed to a Clinton coronation, right up to Mr. Sanders’s cheeky assault.
Mr. Obama aided Mrs. Clinton’s ambitions by decimating his party. By the time Barack Obama finished his eight years in office, his party held 65 fewer House seats, 14 fewer governorships and controlled 30 fewer state legislatures. It had turned a once-filibuster-proof Senate majority into minority status. The big-tent Democratic coalition shriveled to a coastal, progressive minority, wiping out a generation of Democratic politicians and most of the party’s political diversity.
And so the party nominated perhaps the only Democrat in the country who could rival Donald Trump in unpopularity—and beat him in untrustworthiness. Mr. Sanders refused to go after Mrs. Clinton on her ethical baggage, even though it was her biggest weakness and despite how glaringly obvious was the risk that her foundation and server scandals would hobble a general-election campaign. The parties gave the country a choice between two unpopular people, and the country disliked her more. The real question is how Democrats rebuild a party whose senior leaders in the House boast an average age of 72 and which has almost no young, experienced up-and-comers.
Which brings us to Mr. Sanders, the symbol of Democrats’ other big problem. This week the senator, flanked by about one-third of Senate Democrats, released his “Medicare for All” proposal to nationalize health care. These are the ascendant voices in the party. Yet there are few of them, because their agenda is highly unpopular.
Mr. Sanders was an unexpected force in the primary, though mostly because he wasn’t Hillary. Sanders supporters resent this argument, and claim the only reason his agenda didn’t triumph is because the DNC robbed him of the election. If so, why did Bernie’s people and ideas fail spectacularly everywhere else on the ballot?
In Wisconsin Mr. Sanders campaigned for Russ Feingold, who promised a $15 federal minimum wage, an end to trade deals and free college. Mr. Feingold lost to Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. In upstate New York, in a white, working-class district, Mr. Sanders endorsed Zephyr Teachout, who railed against bankers and lobbyists, fought fracking and Citizens United, and opposed trade. Republican John Faso beat her for the open seat by eight percentage points, on a promise to kill Dodd-Frank. Democrats wouldn’t even vote for Tim Canova, the man who primaried Mr. Sanders’s archenemy, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
An extraordinary 79% of Colorado voters said no to a ballot initiative for ColoradoCare, the state version of Mr. Sanders’s universal health-care proposal. This in a state that Hillary Clinton won. Liberal Vermont pulled its own single-payer plug in 2014. In California, Mr. Sanders endorsed and campaigned for Proposition 61, which was designed to impose prescription drug price controls. It went down to substantial defeat in a state Mrs. Clinton won by 30 points.
Progressives will argue that all they need to elect a Bernie or an Elizabeth is the right way of pitching their “populist” policies of free health care or price-controlled drugs to the white working class and independents. But so far they’ve been unable to sell them even to bright blue states. And this wishful thinking ignores that even if voters supported some of those provisions, they’d also have to swallow a progressive agenda that includes an energy crackdown, a retreat from the terror fight, and the culture of identity politics.
Republicans have failed to unite or govern or pass their biggest priorities. But the political analysts are setting themselves up for another surprise if they ignore the big reasons Democrats lost this election, and what comes next.
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