Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From the Annals of Inanities – Feminists Tackle Excessive Female Injuries on Unisex Olympic Slopes

At the winter Olympic Games, women are getting injured on the unisex ski slopes way more than men.  Apparently, usually in competitions the runs for women are easier than those for men (how sexist!), but at the Olympics they are unisex (equality!).  Once again, feminists attempt to hold two completely incompatible positions at the same time.  Heather Mac Donald reports (link):

How to properly respond to the female crash tally, however, is difficult.  Ordinarily, anything bad happening to females is a sure sign that they are being victimized by sexism.  So the default feminist reaction to the female wipe-outs is to blame the course designers.  Kim Lamarre, a Canadian bronze medalist in slope style skiing, is happy to oblige: “Most of the courses are built for the big show, for the men,” she told the Times.  “I think they could do more to make it safer for women.” [....] 

Uh-oh! Gender-studies red flag!  “Making it safer for women,” as in: recognizing female difference and adopting a chivalric attitude towards the female sex?  Big, big problem.  The Olympics’ history of “trying to protect women from the perils of some sports” by creating easier ski courses is “sexist, perhaps,” agonizes the Times’ reporter.  [....] 

The true feminist will blithely have it both ways, indifferent to the contradiction: The unisex course is sexist because it injures women and trying to protect [especially] women from injury is sexist.  ....Likewise, feminists toggle at will between [1] the position that there should be gender quotas for women in political positions, say, because females bring a special sensibility to political problems, and [2] the position that men and women are identical in every way and thus that any disparities in outcomes — whether in advanced math and physics attainment or in the predilection for public debate — must be the result of sexism.   

Here’s a key point at issue: 

As injuries build up for female combat soldiers [or if for policewomen or firewomen or female construction workers], expect to see the same confused thinking.  The Army will be blamed for not doing enough to protect females while also being pressured to pretend that females are the absolute [physical] equal of men and thus need no [special] protection. 

When are the gals going to start lifting the guys in ice dancing, and will they be able to carry wounded comrades off a battlefield under fire?

“I can do anything you can do better, I can do anything better than you” – Annie Oakley

“I can do anything you can do better, I can do anything better than you, as long as you men make it safe for me with special accommodations and separate standards” – modern American feminist

Monday, February 17, 2014

Remembering Banjo Patterson and Waltzing Matilda

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Barton "Banjo" Patterson (link), the man who in 1895 wrote the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda, a song often regarded as the unofficial national anthem of Australia.  I first heard it as a boy in the early 1960s at the Boy Scout Camp Shin-Go-Beek in central Wisconsin.  There were a few hundred of us at a time at those annual summer camps, and I think we sang this song, and a few others, every day at lunch and dinner; interestingly though, Waltzing Matilda is the only one I can specifically remember.  Of course, I had no idea then what any of the nouns meant – swagman, billabong, coolibah tree, billy, jumbuck, tucker-bag – they seemed borrowed from a foreign language.  As it turns out, they were – Australian!

Patterson was quite a fellow.  He grew up in the Australian outback and, although becoming a lawyer, is best known as a writer – he wrote lyrics, penning the words to Waltzing Matilda; poetry, including The Man from Snowy River (which was later twice made into a movie); novels; sports reports; and finally dispatches from the front, serving as a war correspondent during the Second Boer War in southern Africa and the Boxer Rebellion in China.  He also served in WWI first as an ambulance driver and later as an officer in the Australian Army, with which he was wounded in France.  He eventually settled down as a farmer in later years and died in 1941, during WWII, at age 76. 

I’ve heard many versions of Waltzing Matilda over the years, but perhaps the best (despite omitting the third verse), slowly paced with a wistful, melancholy air, is one by the late Tom Dundee, from a town far from Down Under – Chicago.  I’ll almost certainly never learn if he first heard the song deep in the Wisconsin woods, but his version is available on iTunes, where I discovered it and bought it some years ago.

R Balsamo

Friday, February 14, 2014

Islam Intimidates the West – the Rushdie Murder Contract 25 Years Ago Today

Award-winning "Piss Christ" "artwork"
Twenty five years ago today Islamic Iran’s top religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini ordered (link) Muslims to kill Muslim author Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, a recently-published novel that Khomeini and many other Muslims felt insulted Islam.  This murder order, a type of “fatwa”, sent Rushdie into hiding and split the Western world into those who condemned the murder order outright and those who, while not explicitly endorsing it, criticized Rushdie for hurting the sensitive feelings of Muslims.  Muslims all over the world took notice of the response in the West, in the Judeo-Christian world.  This public, world-wide murder contract served to put the Western world on notice that death, any place at any time, might be the penalty for any perceived insult to Islam, and served as a very successful preemptive gag order on public Western thought.

Those moderns apologetic about Western culture, known as liberals in America, generally give Muslims a pass on behaviors they, the liberals, claim to care deeply about, such as women’s rights (but wearing a full body bag is liberating, and it’s not really genital mutilation but rather a ritual, symbolic “nick”), freedom of speech (but we need to be especially sensitive when we talk about religion, except for Christianity of course), freedom of religion (but we need to be culturally sensitive when Muslims kill Muslims who want to leave Islam for another religion), freedom of sexual expression (but we really need to be culturally sensitive when Muslims kill homosexuals), and freedom to not be blown up (but we must look inward to understand why we have made them so angry at us, and then change ourselves).  These practices not uncommon in the Muslim world are not really problems, and to the extent they might be it’s really all our fault, but damn those troglodyte, medieval American Christians who want to ban third trimester abortions!   

Liberals working in movies, TV, theater, on stage, and in the arts make fun of Christianity and Christian religious figures all the time.  Christianity is fair game for attacks by haters – the award-winning piece of "art" called “Piss Christ” (link) is a perfect case in point, consisting of a crucifix, a representation of the crucified Jesus Christ, placed in a jar of the “artist’s” urine, funded by American taxpayers and defended and celebrated by liberals everywhere (freedom of speech!).  Academics also love to whack Christianity  – remember the "Stomp on Jesus" college class exercise (link)?; I'm still waiting for the "Stomp on Muhammad", but not holding my breath.  But in a rare, unplanned candid moment, an entertainer or artist may admit that Islam is off limits because, after all, who wants to be killed for a novel or a joke or a movie or a picture of Muhammad in a jar of urine; and anyways, Christians are such soft targets since they turn the other cheek, but those Muslims, well, better not mess with them.          

Even Jimmy Carter, a Democrat American president, urged a show of sensitivity to the hurt feelings of Muslims over Rushdie’s book and held Rushdie partially responsible (in a variation of the long-recognized "Blame America First" mind-set).  Per Wikipedia (link): 

Former United States president Jimmy Carter, while condemning the threats and fatwā against Rushdie, stated, "we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated and are suffering in restrained silence the added embarrassment of the Ayatollah's irresponsibility".  He also held that Rushdie must have been aware of the response his book would evoke: "The author, a well-versed analyst of Moslem beliefs, must have anticipated a horrified reaction throughout the Islamic world".  He saw a need to be "sensitive to the concern and anger" of Muslims....

"Sensitive to the anger of Muslims" – an endorsement of the heckler's veto (link; incidentally, a term coined by a UChicago professor).  Well, I'm offended by "Piss Christ" and its funding by the American government, but so far I haven't heard Jimmy Carter express concern about my feelings and chastise the "artist".  Carter’s public spinelessness, and that of so many others in the West, communicated a lot to the Muslim world (to wit, Osama bin Laden’s obliquely calling America and the West a “weak horse” [link]) and encouraged many true believers in it to continue to test limits against Western values.  Such testing continues today, and although it arguably started with the Suez crisis it gathered steam with the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran and long mistreatment of the Americans captured there, two events which then-President Carter was too weak and too conflicted to handle.  As wags have suggested somewhat tongue-in-cheek, perhaps if Christians took a cue from their Muslim fellow humans and occasionally set off a bomb or lopped off a head, they would be accorded some of the respect and deference Western liberals have long given Muslims.  Can Popes issue murder fatwas?