When the Left Serves “Nazi”, the Right Volleys “Confederate”: Ping-Pong of Slurs (Part Two)

I wish ye all a… what?  A “happy” Fourth of July?  Happy, when man/boy relationships will soon be demanding the legitimacy of marriage, as we see in Europe?  When you may soon be hounded out of a restaurant because the owner finds that you have made a politically incorrect post on Facebook?  When parents are already taking their kids to the old ballpark and having to explain to them what the LBGTQ promotion is all about?  Well, enjoy the fireworks… and don’t get indigestion on your hotdog.

Speaking of things queer… what did I read in Star Parker’s columns (whose name I misspelled earlier, apparently) a week ago?  That the LBGTQ rainbow flag reminds her of the Stars and Bars in its symbolizing of suppressed speech (I think that was the analogy’s crux)? And, in a later post, that the near-fatal beating of abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner by South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks in 1856 is a precise historical analogue to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ being shamed out of a restaurant?  Did I imagine that?  Or… Ms. Parker, have you, too, lost your ever-loving mind?

Our radical Left today, tout court, is the modern incarnation of the Southern Confederacy: that’s what I seem to be picking up from more and more “conservative” commentators.

Simply on the evidence of the prisoner-of-war question (reviewed briefly in Part One), a rational, fair-minded adult would be forced to conclude (as were the Union’s own officers, in several cases) that the North’s operations were much the most cynical, statist, and ruthless thing going in 1864.  Yet twenty-first century America—or a significant part of its intelligentsia—has decided to remember the Confederacy as our own closest brush with goose-stepping Nazism.  This is precisely Glenn Beck’s argument for preserving Southern monuments: that they remind us of the diabolical infamy that once poisoned a sector of our society, and that they should therefore stand forever as a cautionary kind of scarlet latter throughout the South.  Now we can add Bolshevism to Nazism.

It is, in fact, hardly surprising that Star Parker would echo Glenn Beck.  He has served as her publicist and benefactor in recent years—a service for which I give him due praise.  Yet I find it distressing that canny observers like Parker should be lured by the Beck mystique into equating the Confederacy with the Third Reich—and now, it appears, with Antifa.  Along with deploring Southern prisons as anticipating Treblinka and Auschwitz, Beck is also the loudest contemporary magnifier of the Sumner-Brooks incident.  I have little doubt that Parker absorbed it from one of his diatribes.  Sumner’s brutal caning is supposed to have been (sayeth the prophet) a kind of dry run for a KKK lynching, with the Senator’s advocacy of abolition the sole catalyst of the homicidal South Carolinian smackdown.  To hear Beck spin the tale, you’d never know that the feud had been simmering away for some while and that scurrilous, personally insulting language had flowed from both sides.  Brooks, indeed, had originally considered dueling with his senatorial adversary, but he decided that Sumner lacked sufficient gentlemanly credentials to be so honored.

Another recent Beck “adoptee” is Dinesh D’Souza, a genuine martyr for free speech cast into prison by the Obama “Justice” Department.  The other night I saw a very brief excerpt of D’Souza’s forthcoming documentary—saw a briefer portion than the brief one aired, because my blood pressure instantly spiked and I hammered the “off” button.  Abraham Lincoln, that lion of liberty who plunged his nation into war solely to strike off the chains of Southern slaves, was juxtaposed with another irrepressible champion of the people, Donald Trump.  Fireworks, flags waving… all stand—and no knees, please.  I suppose Trump could also have been Churchill, since “Confederate” is code for “Nazi”.

I share Beck’s deep admiration for D’Souza… and for Star Parker, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz.  I am so familiar with the Beck universe, in fact, because I tried for years to tag along with his broadcasts, despite their causing me to cry foul from time to time.  The maligning of Debra Medina (Rick Perry’s quondam competitor for Texas governor) and Geert Wilders (whose name the Beck crew can’t pronounce but whose heart they have read) are but two cases that leap to mind.  Beck, alas, has repeatedly demonstrated a tendency to reach across the aisle to his ideological enemies and to join these detractors in savaging shared sacrificial victims.  Trump is only the most spectacular example of such “outreach”–and is actually fair game insofar as his conservative convictions seem very hard to locate; yet Beck’s “never Trump” opposition has already morphed into a MAGA baseball cap worn on the set (hence the green light to D’Souza’s Lincoln/Trump conceit).

The point of such hop-scotching along the boundary line of principle is perhaps to acquire some cred as a free thinker who works with both sides and only wants truth and goodness to prevail.  (“I’m not a partisan… you see?  I just shot one of our guys for you!”)  Yet I don’t really see such cynicism operating in Glenn Beck at a conscious level: I think his motive is a more pathological compulsion to keep heads spinning (perhaps, especially, his own: witness the frequent public confessions—“I was so wrong then! It was my fault, mea maxima culpa!”). Occasionally some minor, remote, or uninteresting figure comes available to slip into a load-bearing crevice of the cloud-climbing Beck edifice… and in that crack the figure must forever dwell.  Better that one should be squeezed beyond recognition than that The Prophetic Vision should come toppling down.

I see relative innocents like Parker and D’Souza being swept up in the rhetorical tornado of Beck and other dynamos of mass media whose impulses draw them toward tradition (and who therefore cling to words like “Christian” and “conservative”).  Ben Shapiro is probably in the group, though an Orthodox Jew.  Even Louie Gohmert played along during Beck’s exhibitionist “soccer balls and teddy bears” expedition to South Texas (a microscopically short-term and unhelpful response to the ongoing use of children as pawns in border politics).

The magnetism of this man’s charism upon younger or less dynamic figures is a shame… but probably inevitable.  I once felt that attraction myself; but the slandering of my ancestors—of people like my father’s father and my mother’s mother—as a race of irredeemably vile, degenerate human beings snapped my last tie to the microphone and the megaphone of Glenn Beck.  Those people, to be sure, had flaws, and well they knew it—and bitterly did they pay for it.  Yet we hope (do we not?) to see a Christian, especially one whose professions are so stentorian, to understand that even the footsoldiers who wore the Nazi uniform were not all utterly evil.

I leave this week’s ramble in the hope that I have raised two points worthy of consideration.  One, of course, is that the Southern Confederacy has endured well over a century of being deliberately, wickedly caricatured—and that naive thinkers have now been duped to accept the cartoon as a fixed historical constellation.  There really are a lot of analogous distortions ongoing in contemporary academe and the news media, if such things interest you!  The vast majority of these are launched by the Left, but…

But my second and final point is that we are witnessing the birth of a new “catch-all defamation” from the Right.  Conservative luminaries have for years quite justifiably protested their being labeled “Nazi” because they think that the two sexes should have separate restrooms or because they think that a nation should have a border.  Some among them, driven to distraction by the unfairness of it all, have apparently found an abundant puddle of mud to sling back: “Confederate”.  You call me a Nazi… I’ll call you a Confederate.  Take that!  “The Deep South that nurtured the KKK, you know, voted solid Democrat for decades.”  How many times have I heard this enthymeme from Beck and others—as if the party of Truman, even, were that of LBJ?  And then the same mouths, within an hour, will opine from their other side, “JFK wouldn’t recognize his party if he were alive today!”

The only constant in this shifting equation, it seems, is that Southerners have always been wicked racists… and you, Linda Sarsour, are a Confederate!  And you and you, Saul Alinsky and Margaret Sanger, are Confederates! Stars and Bars to you, Louis Farrakhan!

The irony is that Glenn Beck—or so I thought (so he said)—opposed Donald Trump precisely for exploiting this ruinous “us/them” instinct in a nervous, resentful electorate.  Now Glenn has found his own one-size-fits-all category of villain.  His example often makes me recall the classic Claude Rains line from Lawrence of Arabia: “A man who tells half-truths is worse than a liar—because a liar only conceals the truth, but a man who tells half-truths has forgotten where he put it.”

Advertisements

When the Left Serves “Nazi”, the Right Volleys “Confederate”: Ping-Pong of Slurs (Part One)

I’m facing another week of yo-yoing between states as I attempt to finalize a move, so my ideas, too, are probably somewhat wandering.  The text I’ve long wished to review, published in 1910, is also a fairly complicated document.  I think I can do no better than to offer several excerpts and then (in Part Two later this week—always assuming the presence of Internet) relate these to the current scene.

Have you ever heard about the dismal Confederate prisoner-of-war camps?  I have… all my life.  As a wee bairn, I recall (for instance) an episode of a briefly running series produced by National Geographic.  I think it was called Great Adventures.  James MacArthur was a young GI who was going deaf but died bravely charging a machine-gun nest… Lloyd Bridges was Wild Bill Hickok… and then there was an hour segment about Libby Prison.  I can still hear the warden drawling “Lubby Pri-uson” in that fanciful Hollywood imitation of a Southern accent, y’awl—and pouring a syrupy sadism over it that left Burl Ives’ character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof standing closer to Burl Ives’ rendition of “Here Comes Santa Claus”.

So, yes, I grew up simply accepting that the South operated death camps.  At the near end of my life’s spectrum, I could recount hearing Glenn Beck discuss the death of some great-great uncle or other in one of these detention centers with a more seething fury in his voice than I’ve ever witnessed any Auschwitz survivor to evoke.  (Glenn and that uncle would obviously have been very close if the latter hadn’t died young and been born almost a century and a half before his illustrious descendant.)  I’ll have much more to say about the conservative commentary-class (most of whom hail from comfortably north of the Mason-Dixon Line) in Part Two.

For now… well, would it shock you to learn that the “Confederate death camp” chapter in our history books is a canard?

From The Confederate Cause and Conduct of the War Between the States, Item 1:

“‘It is hard on our men to be held in Southern prisons,’ said Grant, in an official communication, ‘not to exchange them; but it is humane to those left in the ranks to fight our battles.  If we commence a system of exchanges which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated.  If we hold those [Southerners] caught they are no more than dead men.’

Let’s be clear about what U.S. Grant is saying here: the North is consistently refusing to effect exchanges of prisoners with the South (as was the custom at that time) because his side has far easier access to replacement troops than does the other side.  If prisoners on both sides rot in jail, then the North wins.

Item 2:

“This evidence (says Dana) [Charles A. Dana, U.S. Assistant Secretary of War] must be taken as conclusive.  It proves that it was not the Confederate authorities who insisted on keeping our prisoners in distress, want and disease, but the commander of our own armies.”

Dana’s comment alludes to Grant’s decision, described just above.

Item 3:

Union internment camps contained approximately 220,000 prisoners of war in contrast to the 270,000 interned in Southern camps, yet 4,000 more men died in Northern detention centers.

I cast this item in my own words.  The figures here are perhaps lowballing the truth, for earlier in the book I recall the approximate numbers 60,000 (for how many more Federals than Confederates were in detention) and 6,000 (for how many more Southerners died in detention). By any measure, the prospects of surviving as a prisoner-of-war were about fifty percent worse if you were in a Northern prison.

Item 5:

“I said,” says General Butler [in conferring with General Grant], “I doubted whether, if we stopped exchanging man for man, simply on the ground that our soldiers were more useful to us in Rebel prisons than they would be in our lines, however true that might be, or speciously stated to the country, the proposition could not be sustained against the clamor that would at once arise against the [Lincoln] administration.”

This ornately convoluted statement represents Butler’s tactful observation to Grant that President Lincoln would be excoriated in the court of public opinion if it became known that the North was deliberately keeping Southern jails crammed with captives.

Item 6:

“Thus it will be seen that 260 out of the 3,800 prisoners had died in twenty-one days, a rate of mortality which, if continued, would secure their total extermination in about 320 days.” Report of Dr. Van Buren’s Sanitary Commission from Albany, New York, about the state of a federal prison camp

The verdict rendered here issues from a distinguished health official of the Union.  His dry observation (probably not intended to be taken fully at face value) is that every one of the Southern captives in the prison he surveyed would be dead within a year, given prevailing conditions.

Item 7:

After Mr. Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation went into effect, as we have said, on January 1st, the Federals enrolled a large number of slaves in their armies.

This seemingly neutral observation has far greater significance in the light of the decision—reached covertly in the upper echelons of the Union hierarchy—to decline exchanges.  Union leadership wished to glut Southern prisons with inmates that couldn’t be fed or cared for.  Who better to use in this glutting than the slaves freed by Sherman during his plundering expedition into the Southern heartland?  Often thrust into the front lines, the freedmen were the ultimate pawns—and indeed, have remained so in many ways.

The authors of the study do not make the point explicitly—but a freeing and arming of slaves (many of whom knew little to nothing about handling firearms, by the way) would also throw Confederate enlistees into extreme anxiety about the security of their families back home, given the recent memories of John Brown’s sanguinary insurrection. This would be true even of the ninety-five percent of soldiers whose household included no slaves. As a means of undermining Southern morale, one might call the tactic brilliant. It’s something on the order of praying Allahu Akbar loudly on a crowded airplane in order to distract the passengers.

The Confederate Cause and Conduct of the War Between the States, as I say, was a century-old document authored by men of letters that protested how the Civil War was being presented to Southern schoolchildren.  The excerpts above, drawn only from the chapter about prisons, should suffice to suggest how the history books were—and still are—playing a propagandistic game with the miserable conditions prevalent in Confederate prisoner-of-war camps.  I have cited only a few items.  I have insufficient time, for instance, to provide details of the persistent cold shoulder that Lincoln’s Union turned to ambassadors from Richmond who tried to arrange humane exchanges—and even, later in the war, to offer Northern doctors unencumbered access to their captive soldiers.  (More deaths in Southern prisons meant more fuel for firing up public sentiment against the South.)  There were also incidents involving the execution of Southern prisoners, and sometimes of non-combatants.  Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee considered retaliating in kind, but decided that trading off barbaric acts would not ameliorate the situation.

Yet the statues we must tear down because they commemorate American Nazism represent, not Lincoln or Grant (or General Pope, who declared open season on non-combatant civilians), but… Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.  As we approach July 4 and contemplate nation-haters who parade our flag around upside-down, maybe we should consider whether we ourselves—or our most trusted standard-bearers—have not in the past foolishly or cynically inverted the most precious values represented by that flag.

Another Slaughter of Children—Another Round of Staged Whining

I wanted my next post to pursue the reactions that I registered during my Denver trip, and I have something all ready to go for tomorrow.  Another high school shooting has intruded into our shared world, however—we who share nothing any more but some real estate on a certain planet—and I need to clear my mind.

More “ban the guns” chanting from the Left, which is too dishonest (among its elite architects) or too stupid (among its tail-wagging minions) to admit that the endgame here is an irresistible centralized authority with an Obama-style “national police force”… more “paid shills of the Nazi NRA” baiting of anyone who proposes a serious analysis of the problem… more staged “how many of our children have to die?” whining from the crowd whose favorite comics and sitcoms joke about slaughtering babies in the womb…

I’m so sick of this.

Here are my questions.  Primo: how does a kid wearing a trench coat on a humid 90-degree Houston morning walk into a high school unchecked in 2018?  How in hell could that ever happen?

Secundo: why do idiot legislators in places like California and Boulder, Colorado, continue to brandish the mean-nothing phrase “assault rifle” in cases like this, where the murders were apparently perpetrated with a shotgun and a pistol (snitched from their legal owner)?  May we not at least converge upon sufficient coherence in this “debate” to admit that the gun designation du jour is arbitrary, and that the real target is every gun in private possession?  This sorry little prick also planned to ignite a number of bombs—but that atrocity, if successful, would likewise not have shifted the tone of whining on the Left in any way whatsoever.

Tertio: is it not clear by now that the bad-boy infamy heaped upon these pathetic ghosts of the social-media Limbo actually draws more of them to atrocious action?  The press dedicated to the Parkland, Florida, butchery has not yet subsided, though the same press corps utterly ignored a machete massacre (with killed and wounded numbers around 30 and 100) about a month ago in China’s contested Xinjiang province.  If you were a sociopathic punk who wanted to post a selfie that no one would ever forget, would you drive over twenty cheerleaders in your dad’s pickup, or would you shoot five of them with your dad’s Glock?

Quarto et ultimo: why is “entertainment” a dead issue in these discussions?  I’ve virtually given up on network TV and movies because of the gratuitous violence.  It sickens me beyond my endurance-threshold.  All of my son’s generation, at least among the males, consider Breaking Bad to be a classic.  I’m appalled.  How does a normal human being sit comfortably in his armchair and watch a young woman get executed with a bullet through the back of the head as her gagged lover is forced to look on from a van, on one side, and as her toddler stands in the front doorway, on the other?  This is entertainment?  The weaning of an entire generation on such nihilistic vomit of perverse creativity—on such hard-core pornography of the inner soul—cannot be free of consequences, especially when such “cool” diversions have become the stuff of contemporary tee-shirts and trivia games.

But Brian Cranston, the dark star of this bituminous epic poem, is an outspoken, even virulent anti-gun advocate.  Oh.  I guess all is well, then.

I can’t write any more, unless I am to lapse into a long string of four-letter words.

Misplacing Bigfoot: Turning a Great Quest into a Brainless Shouting Match

Todd Standing recently released a documentary on Netflix titled—informatively if not creatively—Bigfoot.  Taking these ninety minutes in conjunction with yet another season of Finding Bigfoot leads me irresistibly into a few reflections.

Standing is the real deal.  On his own weekly serial called Survivorman, Canadian naturalist and hiker-extraordinaire Les Stroud tramped through British Columbia with Standing for a couple of episodes two or three years back and was probably more than half persuaded by his host of the gigantic crypto-hominid’s existence.  Standing spends days and weeks at a time quietly fusing with some of the wildest terrain in the Northern Hemisphere.  He is the source of what must surely be the best close-up photos ever taken of a Sasquatch (on the assumption, of course, that the photos are genuine).  Yet he is no black belt when it comes to producing entertainment for the broadcast media.  Stroud, having logged years of experience filming his own series, integrated Standing into two riveting episodes.  Their well-edited pace preserved a flow sadly lacking in Todd’s just-released documentary.

Nevertheless, both Bigfoot and Survivorman share a potentially lethal liability, from the mainstream marketer’s perspective: they have no bells and whistles, no fireworks and hoopla.  Investigators of this caliber (and there aren’t many) examine unnaturally bent or snapped trees in highly artificial formations, they scrutinize indentations in the moss that might be enormous footprints, and they assess the tidy disappearance of apples and other goodies placed high on spindly branches that wouldn’t support a squirrel and would require a mangling assault from a bird.  All very CSI, very professional… just not likely to induce the consumer of reality shows to dribble potato chips and pizza from his dropped jaw.

Now, the FB Four Stooges, as I’ve grown fond of calling them, have their shtick down pat.  Entry scene in van cruising along an interstate, initial night exploration with hoots and hollers, “townhall” meeting, interviews of individual witnesses as one of the party camps out in a “likely spot”, then reunion for the final night’s grand finale of more hoots and hollers… which of course turn up nothing—“but we’ll be coming back here.”  No kidding.  As long as the cow gives milk, keep pulling on her udders.

I’m afraid I’ve taken a positive dislike to the Stooges.  They’ve milked their cash cow for too long.  Unless they are themselves representative of some less evolved primate species, they’re bound to realize that the routine isn’t going to produce close contact after… what is it?  Six or seven years?  A Sasquatch just might respond from a very great distance—if the moon is blue—to one of their yodels with a howl that no audio equipment can capture.  As soon as they repeat the cry in the wrong pitch or cadence, however, or fail to repeat it after the proper interval, the critter and his whole clan know for the remnant of this infrared media blitz to stay under cover.  Bigfoot doesn’t want to be seen, idiots—and you don’t know his language!

A good case could be made, I know, that we’re the idiots for watching.  I, for one, am watching no more—or perhaps fast-forwarding to the eye-witness accounts, which are much the most relevant information gathered by the series.  On the other hand, I think the hubris of this lot is very genuine.  The presumption that Bigfoot is a lumbering mega-gorilla without enough sense to invent clothes or leave trash in the open infuses the entire hour, year after year.  The high-handed digital imposition of a young King Kong in the bushes to animate every witness’s testimony is especially annoying.  These mock-ups look nothing like Standing’s photographs.  Have you noticed that the witnesses themselves are never invited to comment upon the accuracy of the cartoonish reconstructions?

The Stooges are now in full celebrity mode, trotting out family members, devoting episodes to their favorite reminiscences, traveling the country to do live gigs on campuses… laughing all the way to the bank, and posing all the way to Hollywood-class stardom.  Meanwhile, poor grunts like Todd Standing try to keep pace by piping in Heavy Metal from some old Rambo flick to cover transitions from one scene to another as an ATV crashes through the underbrush.  Todd, please take a tip from Les Stroud.  Just stay simple.  People who are receptive to this possibility are few and thoughtful, if popularly represented as weirdo wackos.  The multitude who mock and rail are tuning into Animal Planet because the prospect of several adults screaming wildly into the night turns them on.  Let the wheat and the chaff separate.

Snotty Ideologues of Film Industry Again Rape American Frontier

If I’m any sort of a critic, I’ll claim to be one of culture rather than film.  The two are not widely separated—yet perhaps too widely, for all that, when irredeemable garbage like the “Danish Western” (you read that right) inscrutably titled The Salvation can be released upon the world.  As has become my wont on Netflix, I fast-forwarded through huge sections after witnessing the sick beginning, pausing only to take in two minutes here and there.  I had to see just where the thing was going, you know: I simply couldn’t believe that the only direction was down.  Boy, was I ever wrong!

Here’s a Wikipedia summation of about two-thirds of this sagebrush saloperie.

The family [a rancher reunited after years with his wife and young son from Denmark] boards a stagecoach bound for their small residence while Peter [the rancher’s sidekick or foreman or… who cares?] stays behind. Their coach is also boarded by two recently released criminals, Paul and Lester. Following a tense struggle, the two criminals throw Jon out of the moving coach after which they rape and kill Jon’s wife. They also kill his son and the stagecoach drivers.

With great effort, Jon catches up to the coach to find his family murdered. Enraged, he kills the two convicts.

Unbeknownst to Jon, Paul is the brother of Henry Delarue, a notorious gang leader and land baron. Upon hearing the news, Delarue kills three innocent citizens of Black Creek, the town that reports the deaths to him. He also forces the townspeople to cooperate and find his brother’s killer.

After burying his wife and son, Jon decides to leave the town with Peter and sells his land to Keane, Black Creek’s mayor and undertaker. Before they can leave, Jon and Peter are captured by the town Sheriff, Mallick. As Jon sits in his cell, Mallick tells him that his death will buy the town more time while he tries to alert higher authorities of Delarue’s actions. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Delarue is working with the Standard Atlantic Oil Company and with the help of Mayor Keane, had been acquiring Black Creek and its surrounding land, which was close to an untapped oil reserve. Delarue’s now widowed sister-in-law, Madelaine, acts as his accountant and suffers sexual and physical abuse from him.

I won’t torment you any longer.  Frankly, what little I could make out of the remaining “plot” was merely more of the same ghoulish blood-fantasy.  I’d utterly missed all the crapola about Standard Oil.  Stagecoaches, long-barreled revolvers… and Standard Oil?  Was the CIA also involved, perchance?

This all pisses me off highly, for several reasons.  First, don’t pretend that you’re making a Western if you can’t play by the chronological rules.  Colts are not AK-47’s.  Stagecoach drivers don’t rumble along obliviously while their passengers rape and murder just under the floorboards.  Frontier towns whose every occupant is equipped with a Winchester do not quake in fear as a half-dozen psychopaths put bullets through the skulls of old women; and as for that, the number of criminals who raped men’s wives, slit their children’s throats, and executed their grandmothers was pretty close to zero in my considerable reading of Western history and first-hand accounts.  Precisely because practically everybody carried a gun, a Charles Manson who sought forcible entry into your house would be sure to meet with a dozen bullets from a dozen directions. I only wish the Manson-in-becoming sixth-grader who composed this script had met with an analogous reception from parents with switches and yardsticks.

Hollywood, of course, doesn’t “get” the fine points of gun ownership.  Europeans, a fortiori, can’t begin to understand the concept of effective self-defense (which is why they’re waiting for us, perhaps, to chase Putin out of Ukraine).  If this moronic video screed were only aimed at the firearm… but my discovering the role of Standard Oil in the sadistic fantasy is a scintillating example of something I’ve written about very recently.  The European intelligentsia, like other cultists of the political Left, knows no bounds—neither those of shame nor of common sense—in the matter of projecting every perversion and atrocity a deranged or over-medicated mind can imagine onto their ideological adversaries.  “Americans?” mulls Danish Filmmaker. “Think big business.  Think brutal, wanton murder.  Think rape and infanticide.”  And the only white hat in the satanic comic strip is a quiet émigré from Denmark!

Jeez, why did we bother helping you guys in 1941?  (Oooh, that’s right–I forgot you were Hitler’s ally.)  And you won’t raise a peep against radical Islam! Who is it nowadays, by the way, that’s requiring young children in public school to finger their pudenda and play sex games before their voices change?  Remind me again… who is the pervert here? On that basis, at least, Islamic fundamentalists and American Christians could agree to throw the EU off the stagecoach.

Yet the “critical response”, according to Wikipedia, was quite positive in general.  Referring to a Web nexus of professional critics, the oracle informs us,

The site’s critical consensus reads, “It’s all but impossible to add anything new or fresh to the traditional Western, but – thanks in no small part to Mads Mikkelson’s [sic] performance – The Salvation comes close.”  On Metacritic the film has a score of 64 out of a 100 based on 19 critics, signifying “generally favorable” reviews.

Look, I get t that historical films are always ultimately about the here and now.  Yet at the same time, you accept certain realistic limitations in selecting a historical period as your context.  Arthurian knights must not greet each other with a hearty, “What up, dawg?”  Al Capone shouldn’t be storing the bodies of victims in a freezer for his dinner.  Nelson’s Victory didn’t fire torpedoes.

From what I’m seeing lately, the film industry throughout the decadent West (and I mean Europe and the U.S.) has developed an obsession with thrusting psychotic attributes onto exotically sick villains said to belong to the past and then having sensitive cosmopolitan types who sport “I’m with her” stickers on their chariot’s bumper or horse’s butt barge in like avenging angels.  This kind of scenario abuses the past in ways that I consider unforgivable and despicable.  At the same time, it sheds no light whatever on the human condition in any age, because its Manichaean moral polarities are childish—“pre-school” childish.  What sickens me most is that I can’t even picture myself, as a creator, imposing some of these obscene, twisted behaviors on history’s true villains.  If I were making a film about Stalin’s unleashing his troops like ravening wolves upon a fallen Berlin now inhabited by no one but women and children, I would still paint some of my lupine characters with a tortured conscience.  After all, in the depths of their depravity, something stubbornly human must have sparked within at least a few of these butchers.

Nope—that’s not how our political adversaries see us.  If we’re not slavering hellhounds, then we’re wimpy pseudo-pious hypocrites. (Did you catch the irony of the mayor-preacher’s being a pimp for Standard Oil?) And they use a grotesque caricature of the American West to give a location to their Hell.  My God, what snotty, overweening arrogance!

American-Made Claptrap Butchers History and Entertainment at One Blow

Hollywood is right: we inhabit a sick nation. One irrefutable proof of this is the non-stop claptrap churned out by Hollywood.

I don’t write movie reviews—and I did not, in any case, make it halfway through this sixth-grade collision of a camera with a boilerplate script. One does find oneself, however, retreating to the Tube over holidays and other occasions that bring relatives together who’d rather not listen to each other talk any longer than necessary.

Not being a film critic (the last great war movie I saw may have been Breaker Morant), I admittedly have little to fall back on by way of reference and context. I’ll simply content myself with saying this much about American Made: it appears to me to extend upon an incomprehensible style than even I can identify as a template (thanks to earlier holidays and similarly forcible exposure to “what’s hot”). Why would you combine a comedy with an opus claiming to be about history? Or to put it another way, what would cause anyone to view history as a stock of cliché jokes hatched at the expense of clueless two-dimensional cartoon characters? Was The Honeymooners the story of D-Day? Was Barney Fife at Thermopylae?

This idiot flick purports to tell the truth of the Iran-Contra scandal through the eyes of a pilot who graduated from taking reconnaissance photos to smuggling drugs to smuggling arms to… well, as I confessed, I made my excuses and left the room about halfway through. The pilot very annoyingly projects an almost utter incompetency in world geography, basic English diction (I told you a band of sixth-graders produced the script), and “buenos dias” level Spanish… yet, curiously, he’s meant to be cool. I suppose the subtext is that only an imbecile (and all Southerners are imbeciles to Hollywood) would get into bed with the CIA, and that our foreign operations are all run exclusively by such imbeciles. Or not quite exclusively: the recruiter of imbeciles is himself something like a combination of Mafia thug, Machiavellian cynic, and Gestapo fanatic. And lest that description mislead anyone into suspecting depth of characterization… no: I’m trying to portray a train wreck of stereotypes, not a coherent human psyche.

The blonde wife was the one source of relief, being extraordinarily cute—but that remark, of course, is no longer permissible thanks to its noxious degree of “objectifying” (even though her object-value is the “actress’s” sole reason for being in the film, and even though, as noted, all parts are thoroughly stereotypical).

Somehow, in Hollywood, you can project all the moral trespasses you claim most to deplore—bigotry, sexism, greed, corruption, exploitation, hypocrisy, gross abuse of power—onto representatives of the political ideology you most despise… and emerge satisfied that you have recreated history. This is a game that I observed to be played last year during another holiday “bonding” ordeal whose first hour I failed to endure: an infantilized rendition of a gun-running scandal called War Dogs. Still waiting for Hollywood’s take on Operation Fast and Furious, which actually possessed many of the qualities found in the undertakings of Middle School drop-outs.

Is this kind of thing, I wonder, just the utopian-brat class’s cathartic urination on adult events too complex and uncooperative to leave its hallucinogenic worldview unembarrassed? I mean, does the general public really pay money to sit through such pseudo-artistic excrement? Even worse… do young people in the audience, perhaps, really believe that history is a cartoon produced by bungling villains with cliché-filled balloons trailing out of their mouths?

If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part Two)

Despite such moments of sublime insight as concluded my previous post, I was an emotional wreck by the time I was awarded a Ph.D.  Once again, I sought refuge among “salt of the earth” types who professed strong religious principles—specifically, in the singles class of a mammoth Baptist church feeding off the small East Texas city where I found work.  I ended up trying to court another strawberry blonde (damn it!), this one as statuesque and serene as the other had been tomboyish and lively.  We had many private conversations which I mistook for intimate, but which, in retrospect, were ice-cold with all that box-checking and “image maintenance” to which young women pay such attention.  When I dared at last to bring my Olympian beauty a lavish bouquet of flowers, the temperature hit Absolute Zero, and I realized that the soles of my shoes again needed cleaning.

Here I will observe (as I begin to aim this long ramble at a destination) that either one of my strawberry blondes—either Baptist Preacher’s Cowgirl Daughter or Celestial Ice Queen—could have charged me with stalking, as the word is now rather carelessly understood.  Yet in both cases, I was only believing the claptrap that I was told and trying to show myself patient and respectful.  One girl was competing with a roommate and a soap opera to stage Cattle Country’s Most Roller-Coaster Romance, the other playing some Duchess of Lonely Hearts game until a dentist finally swept her up in his gilded coach.  I could have done without the “I’m so innocent” act, in the former case, and the “My past has mysteriously wounded me” act, in the other… but I was given no cues outside the context of games that I didn’t know how to play.

If I were running for public office, could an incident of this sort not be dredged up out of my past to prove me a creepy pervert?  Or what about the woman (no longer a girl, by any measure) who threatened to accuse me to my new bosses of being a predator?

I had met her through a book club, of all things (this was a bit before the Internet and Match.com).  I was well into my thirties now myself; and as disgusted and embarrassed as I was by my own lack of progress in these matters, I had acquired greater powers of observation.  I knew very early that Cynthia was a seriously damaged subject.  She spoke to me once of her father (with whom—and her mother—she still lived) knocking her cold with a fire poker as if it were the kind of thing every child goes through; and her fondness for alcohol and cigarettes was hard to hide.  Yet there was a sensitive, genuine person on the flip side of her fiercely sarcastic and vindictive alter ego.  I could add that she was an attractive blonde… but that would explain nothing at this point, for our initial acquaintance had smoothly advanced though the mail.

When I severed this always prim and proper relationship, I knew well that I might be accused of rape, kidnapping, child-cannibalism, and burning candles at an altar to Adolph Hitler if Cynthia were having one of her bad days.  I haven’t forgotten that lesson.  The claim made currently in the press and other highly politicized circles that women never lie about such matters isn’t laughably wrong: it’s dangerously, criminally wrong.  It’s the equivalent of a loaded gun placed in the hands of a drunken psychotic. Does no one remember Potiphar’s queen, or the tragic Phaedra?

I met my wife shortly thereafter: a brunette, who was visiting the singles class in a Baptist church!

The ancients, having survived a disaster at sea, would take their tattered clothing and their salty oar and nail it all to a post in Poseidon’s temple.  I offer my past miseries up to God for anyone to see who’s of a mind to learn.  The Seventies and Eighties did not liberate women.  Those times left them abused, confused, resentful, eager to fight, and quick to run for cover.  We cannot undo the damage by burning a few—or many—males at the cross.  If the typical male has now become predatory and if gentlemen are in very short supply these days, it is because yesteryear’s feminists trashed all lady-like qualities and attempted to be predators themselves. The result was as predictable as a foolish wildebeest’s charge into a lion’s den.

Our culture remains, in sexual matters, a smoking Chernobyl, and a garden hose won’t accomplish the necessary detoxification.  Just this past week, I found a series on Netflix titled Godless—brilliantly produced and even very poignant at times, but heavily embedded in the notion that women could be gunslingers in the Old West or, as prostitutes, could make out as well as a Wall Street tycoon.  I could name at least half a dozen other serials, movies, or Netflix gems that sell the same Kool-aid—and I’ve only seen the trailers and teases, for the most part. Women “whuppin’ ass” in a world where whimpy men can’t pry themselves loose from their coffee mugs… really?  So that kind of Never Never Land fantasy is going to help us get everyone’s head straight? Including the male’s?

The old Virginia Slims ad propaganda needs revision: “You’ve got a long way to go, baby…” except that—pardon me, progressive marketers—a gentleman doesn’t address a lady as “baby”.