Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Here are 13 things for little kids to worry about instead of college and test preparation

One general comment: the only problem I have with Matt's post below is that I do believe he is finding extreme examples and attempting to present them as the norm (or, evidence of a trend toward a new norm). Now, I could recount my own public school experience, which was not so long ago as to make it completely irrelevant (I could explain, for example, how my school projects involved costumes and art and role play, and how one of them inspired a long term interest in American folk music). However, I have more recent exposure to public education. My line of work brings me into frequent contact with public schools and students from elementary to high school age.

While I certainly do not deny that many people have negative experiences in school (though, there are arguably many reasons for this that go beyond school itself) I do not consider the examples that Matt presents as representative of the reality as I see it on a daily basis. In particular, as technology is used to provide more interactive experiences for students, especially in the context of what were once typically austere situations, I see students having fun doing things like taking a test. So, there are definite moves in the opposite direction.

I also do not believe that most elementary school students are as concerned about college as Peter is. Heck, most of the high school juniors and seniors I work with are not that concerned about college. They have no problem choosing a night of fun over SAT practice problems. If we are experiencing an epidemic of children taking school and college too seriously... .I have not witnessed it, at all. When I was a junior, I had no idea what college I wanted to go to, and that is still the case for many of the high school students I work with today. College is important, yes, but it is not dominating their life by any means. Students are thinking about many other things: dating, sports, movies, books, dating... 

On a regular basis, students of all ages tell me how much they love learning about history or psychology. They tell me about a book they just read for school that they really liked. Yes, there are subjects they don't like (usually it tends to be math), and they don't like getting up early everyday, but overall they have things to look forward to and subjects that they are inspired to learn more about.

I do not know of ANYONE of any political stripe who thinks that children should focus on college and give up interest in art, writing, and imaginative play. So, opinions about public education aside, Matt is not advocating anything controversial. But, owing to his own agenda, it is clear that he is going to focus on the examples, no matter how extreme, that paint public education in a negative light.

Matt Walsh writes:

Since I wrote about homeschooling last week, I’ve been fielding tons of email messages from people sharing their public education horror stories.

This one jumped out at me because it seems to echo the news about an elementary school that canceled its kindergarten play so that the kindergartens could focus on college preparation. I don’t know that this woman’s kid goes to that school (she didn’t mention it, so I assume he doesn’t), but she is dealing with a similar problem.

Honestly, I hesitated to share this with you because, to me, in my little bubble of innocence and naivety, this is almost too horrendous to believe. A kid in FIRST GRADE already giving up his hobbies and passions because he’s concerned about what his college application will look like?

Is it that bad out there? I guess it is. At least, this seems to be an indication:

Dear Matt,

I read your post about home schooling and decided to finally email you, even if I’m not expecting a response. My son, Peter, is in first grade in a public school. Recently, with a combination of Common Core and just bad educational strategies on the part of the school, my kiddo seems to have lost his interest and motivation. I don’t blame his teachers but I blame the system, as you pointed out. He used to love to learn and read, but now he comes home stressed out and anxious. He is reduced to tears when he’s doing his homework! The math work is INSANE! I don’t think I had the amount of tests and homework that he has even when I was in COLLEGE!

I’m writing to you because my heart was broken last week when my son, who has always been very creative, playful, and loved arts and crafts, came home and announced that he doesn’t want to draw or play with Legos anymore. I asked him why and he said that it’s a waste of time. When I asked him why it’s a waste of time, he said it won’t help him get into college! I’m not kidding! Yesterday he told me he “hates school more than anything.” I told him that school is good because it’s where you go to learn. He literally responded that he “hates learning.”

This is crazy! I feel like the school is crushing my poor kid’s spirit and now he doesn’t even want to draw or do arts and crafts with mom anymore. It’s all about testing and grades and “useful knowledge”, and I’m afraid that his childhood is being taken from him. I don’t know why I’m writing this to you. I just enjoy your opinion, and the funny thing is that my son likes you, too. He hears mom and dad talk about your blog at the dinner table, so now “Mr. Matt” has become kind of a mythological hero to him, lol. I showed him the picture of you trying to kill a spider and he laughed his head off!

What do you think about this, Matt? I just want to know your perspective.



Dear Anne,

I think you chose the right words. If I’m a hero, it’s only in a mythological sense. In the real world, I’m noticeably lacking any heroic qualities at all. Still, I appreciate that you’ve opened up to me about your issue with your son. You know that I’m a homeschool proponent, so the first thing that comes to mind is that maybe you should consider other options outside of public school.

Of course, I don’t know your situation, so I can’t make that judgment call. It isn’t my business, anyway.

I thought that I’d write an email back to you, ranting about how kids are having their creativity and zest for life sucked out of them, but I changed my mind. I’ve ranted plenty on that subject, and I’m sure I’ll rant again in the future.

Right now, I’d like to address Peter directly, if you don’t mind. I wrote him a letter, and I’m hoping you’ll read it to him, or help him read it.

Here it is:

Hi Peter,

It’s Mr. Matt. I’m really worried, because your mom tells me that you think it’s a waste of time to draw pictures and play with Legos. I’m sad that you feel that way, because I bet you could draw an awesome picture of a dinosaur or a spaceship, but now the world will never get to see it.

Here’s the question, though:

Can you draw a picture of a dinosaur IN a spaceship? Check out the doodle I sketched this morning:

photo (1)

OK, maybe that looks more like a big hat with a picture of a lizard on it, but I tried my best.
I’ll admit that a few people in the history of the world have made cooler pictures. Has your mom told you about the Sistine Chapel? Look at this:


A guy named Michelangelo painted those pictures on the ceiling 500 years ago. It took him FOUR YEARS to paint all of them. If arts and crafts are a waste of time, then Michelangelo wasted A LOT of it.

Your mom also tells me that you hate learning. That’s too bad, Peter, because I love to learn, and I bet there are tons of things you’d love to learn about, too.

Did you know that there’s a type of cat called a cheetah, and it can run as fast as a car or a motorcycle?

Did you know that the temperature on the Sun is 27 MILLION degrees?

Did you know that your brain is smarter and more powerful than every computer on the planet?

These are really exciting facts. My life is more fun and enjoyable because I know them. This is what happens when you learn. You discover more about the world and yourself. Learning is like going on a journey over an ocean, or through a jungle, except you can do it in your home or at school.

There are a bunch of things I haven’t learned yet, but I hope I will one day. For example, I’ve always wanted to know why people yawn, or why it’s impossible to tickle yourself. Maybe you can find those things out and teach me about them. Or maybe nobody knows, and you can be the first person to ever answer the question.

Also, can you figure out what this weird animal is supposed to be:

untitled (57)

I think it lives in the rainforest, but I’m not sure. I need help investigating this mystery.

See, I’m not even in school or college, but I’m always trying to feed my brain and increase my understanding of the world around me.

You should learn, and draw, and paint, and read, and play with Legos, Peter. I still play with Legos. You wouldn’t believe the huge tower I built last week. It literally touched the ceiling.


Don’t worry about college and grown up stuff right now. You’ve got more important things to do. Things like:

-Running outside
-Rolling down a grassy hill
-Using your imagination
-Jumping through a sprinkler
-Jumping in a puddle
-Jumping on the couch (don’t tell your mom)
-Deciding what you’ll say if aliens land and you’re the first person to make contact with them. (I already decided what I’ll say. I’ll probably just tell them “hello,” and then I’ll ask them if they want some iced tea.)
-Painting and drawing pictures
-Writing poems and stories
-Reading books
-Playing games
-Eating ice cream

That’s at least 13 things that you should definitely fit into your schedule, especially playing, reading, and daydreaming. And ice cream, obviously.

My kids are just babies, but I hope they’re as artistic and creative as you one day. It’s a great power — a superpower — to be able to dream things in your head and then put them on paper.

Sometimes it’s fun to dream something in your head, and just keep it there, and revisit your dream from time to time. It’s like you’re building a new world for yourself, out of nothing but your mind and your imagination.

I have a homework assignment for you: think of a story. Just make up a story. Any story at all. You don’t have to tell anyone, or write it down, or do anything with it. Just think of it. That’s all. Put yourself in your story — pretend you’re the main character. Think about it, just for the sake of thinking about it.

That’s the assignment.

When I was a kid, I liked to think that I was a time traveling ninja.

Actually, I still like to imagine that I’m a time traveling ninja.

My wife doesn’t enjoy it when I wear my ninja costume to the grocery store, or to dinner at her mother’s house, but I’m not sure why.

Anyway, I hope you continue to play, and draw, and learn, Peter. You’re a kid, and that’s your job right now.


Mr. Matt

P.S. I know what you’re thinking, but just because I’m afraid of spiders doesn’t mean I can’t be a ninja.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Here’s the post where I’m accused of defending Donald Sterling

Oh boy. The title of this post alone makes me wish I could have a swig of whiskey before reading.

Mat Walsh writes:

It’s really a fascinating thing, when you think about it.

Even a culture like ours — a culture dedicated to hedonism and relativism — has to put on a show every once in a while and pretend it has some semblance of a moral standard. It shows you that those philosophers and theologians were actually onto something when they wrote about Natural Law. And/or society/culture/people are much more complex than you understand them to be.

Deep down, in the pit of our being, there exists a need to be good and virtuous; but if being good and virtuous is too hard, then at least we need to find a halfway convincing substitute. Only demons and psychotics would stand and openly proclaim their own evil — the rest of us can act the part, but we still feel the urge to get up and play Morality Charades on occasion.  OR, people try to be good and virtuous, and being human, often fail, but, nevertheless, still hold fast to certain moral principles (say, not denying the humanity of any human beings) because they really do care about these principles. And maybe, just maybe, their list of things they get morally outraged about is different from your list, because they are viewing issues from a different perspective, with a different (more accurate, or less accurate) set of facts? For example, Matt, if you come to different conclusions than me about certain issues because you happen to lack accurate knowledge and insight into the broader dimensions of the situation, I do not assume your concern about moral issues is any less genuine than mine.

That’s what comes to mind when I see the reaction to the story about Donald Sterling. If you don’t watch the news (and these days I highly recommend that you don’t), I’ll fill you in on THE SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY:

Sterling is an old, crazy, rich, (alleged) racist who happens to own the LA Clippers. Being old, crazy, and rich, and living in California, he also has a pretty progressive love life. He left his wife a while back and started shacking up with his young west coast mistress. Now, his wife has quite unfairly accused the mistress of gold-digging, all because she just so happened to fall madly in love with a rich married man who showered her with Bentleys, diamonds, and cash.

(It happens to the best of us. Stop judging.)

The wife filed a lawsuit against the mistress, and the mistress allegedly swore to ‘get even.’ Getting even, in this case, evidently involved coaxing her lover into making some very inane and very racist comments, while secretly recording the exchange. To give you an idea of just how inane and racist:

Sterling allegedly tells his *minority* mistress that he doesn’t mind if she has sex with minorities, but he doesn’t want her to be seen in public with them.

Well, this audio tape SOMEHOW made its way to that bastion of journalistic integrity known as TMZ — although the girlfriend totally had nothing to do with that, she says.

In a normal and sane society, this sordid soap opera would never be discussed outside of gossip magazines and entertainment shows, because there’s nothing very newsworthy about it. A wealthy, morally bankrupt adulterer in Los Angeles professed some unsavory views, behind closed doors, to his manipulative morally bankrupt girlfriend.



And this man has a prominent position in an industry that plays a significant role in the African American community. And this man is one among others who have recently made blatantly racist comments, allowing us to reflect upon racial progress in American society. And this man's comments are demonstrative of the attitudes and thoughts of the strata of society that is effectively running this country. And sports are really popular in America, and sports related scandals always ALWAYS monopolize airtime in mainstream media outlets.

Remember the OJ Simpson trial?

Donald Sterling can say and think whatever he wants to say and think. Given his situation, I’m not particularly surprised that he says and thinks offensive things. In fact, his overall lifestyle is far more repugnant than his ludicrous statements about black people.  Sleeping around is far more repugnant than condemning an entire race of people? I see...

(*Note* this post originally identified his wife as his “ex-wife.” They are not divorced, I was mistaken. This man is publicly breaking his marriage vows, but still we find his discriminatory racial views to be the most offensive thing about him.  Yeah, how crazy, because it is so obvious that having an affair is such much worse, and so much more harmful to more people, than having discriminatory racial views, especially when you happen to employ racial minorities.)

We permit and even celebrate most forms of evil and debauchery in our society, so our Moral Outrage energy is stored, ready to be unleashed anytime an old white guy utters something untoward about minorities. Having removed sins like baby-killing, pornography, sex-trafficking, and infidelity from the ‘Things to Get Upset About’ column wait.. who is saying that sex trafficking is no big deal?, this seems to be among the only universally-recognized evils remaining. Removing sex trafficking from the list, the other issues all relate to sex, are largely personal decisions, and lend themselves to a variety of reasonable viewpoints in the U.S. A lot of people - even many of your ideological opponents - are not apathetic about or even supportive of (in the sense of liking) abortion, porn, or extramarital affairs. (Although they may have different views on how feasible or safe it is to try to stop these behaviors.) Adultery, promiscuity, prostitution, even abortion have all been common throughout human history. This doesn't necessarily mean they are good things or don't have negative consequences, but they are largely outgrowths of other social forces (you would have to start looking at the foundation of our economy, inequality, the status of women, the relation of family structures to other economic activity, etc. - all things Liberal People do like to discuss with passion, but unfortunately also things you hate to think about, Matt, so sorry).

Racism is a force in and of itself. That is why one's reaction to an individual's extramarital affair might reasonably be different than one's reaction to acts of racism. Racism is inherently not personal. Things are said, actions are taken, attitudes are formed because of group affiliation, not because of any personal interactions that have occurred. And more than that, personal histories and interactions are always pervaded by that impersonal context of intergroup relations.

Now, I can hear you saying, "But sometimes history and social structure and whatever just don't matter. Sometimes I, Matt (who happens to be white), am just talking to Sarah (who happens to be black) and nothing that goes on between us has anything to do with slavery or Jim Crow or racial profiling. Sometimes race does not matter at all! And how absurd it is for you to suggest that race always matters!"

Well, it is true that you can have many conversations with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and not consciously think about race or ethnicity at all (whether you are ever, truly "blind" to race, or can refrain from thinking about it at all is another, irrelevant matter that I don't even want to touch). However, it is an enduring fact of human sociality that you can never interact with another person in a social vacuum. You are always drawing upon societal resources, ordering your thoughts according to social structures, bringing social history and habits to bear in largely unconscious ways. "Is society a prison, then?" Eh, that's another irrelevant question that I don't want to discuss at the moment.

Here is the point. Race plays a very important role in the history and structure of American society. Obviously, the early American economy was founded upon the racial divisions that enabled the enslavement of a large population of people. Racial divisions continue to be important to the myriad of political, economic, and cultural forces that constitute our society. Even very particular instances of racism are noteworthy for the way they bring to bear and simultaneously reproduce broader systems of inequality.

In short: people want to talk about race, because race is very, very important in the functioning of American society. Race has always been one of the most important forces in American society. Ignoring race/racism does us no favors. Some people place racism very high on their Moral Outrage list because they do not want to live in a society that is premised on the exploitation and dehumanization of an entire group of people.  For some people, treating a large segment of the human population as sub-human is just a tad bit worse than cheating on a spouse.

In that vein, Matt, here is how some people perceive the selectivity of your list of Things to Get Outraged About. Ignore most human suffering, and in fact, vocally support damaging policies and systems that, for example, leave a quarter of American children without secure access to food. Ask, "what's the big deal?" when people complain about racism. Give no thought to the destruction of the planet. But get totally, utterly INFURIATED about people's sex lives and women who don't like it when other women are called "bossy."

I guess that explains why the media has pushed this to the front of their headlines, and the President of the United States of America took time out of his trip to Asia to bloviate about it. Oh, Matt, do you not understand how the media works? CNN has been devoting 95% of its time to a missing airplane for the last 2 months. Media are run by corporations, driven by profit motive, and consequently prize entertainment value over newsworthiness.

And, since I love nothing more than to spoil an overdone, media-hyped Outrage Party, I have a few comments of my own to make:

1) President Obama jumped onto this story immediately after the gossip merchants at TMZ broke the ‘news.’ You’d think, as the President of the United States on an important trip overseas, his remarks would be along these lines: “Yeah, that guy said some messed up stuff. Good thing he’s not an elected official, no crime was committed, nobody was hurt, and none of this has any relevance to the lives of any American who isn’t dating Donald Sterling. Next question.”

That’s how a president who respects his office might respond. But a president who never misses an opportunity to reinforce his progressive racial narrative would instead give a lengthy and thorough statement, which includes this little gem: “The United States continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination.”

Being a president is a mostly symbolic role, and the public statements of all presidents have reflected that. Presidents have commented on seemingly trivial issues (but racism is by no means a trivial issue) for symbolic reasons, and used events (of all levels of significance) to highlight certain narratives. (Look at how 9/11 got us into Iraq....) That is what presidents do.

Yes, he really did paint the LA Clipper owner’s ridiculous, private comments to his girlfriend as some kind of symptom of a larger national issue.  Gasp! Noooo!!!  But that's soo unfair, because we clearly do not have any larger national issue related to race. We live in a wonderful post-racial utopia. Donald Sterling’s stupid opinions about minorities couldn’t just be Donald Sterling’s stupid opinions about minorities – it has to be an indication that the legacy of slavery still thrives nationwide.   It exists in Donald Sterling’s heart, so therefore it exists in America as a whole; lingering in the air we breathe, infecting our souls, and turning us into Republicans.  Sigh.... see all of my comments above; learn a little bit more about race.

Besides, when it comes to commenting on domestic scandals, President Obama will never live down his cowardly refusal to speak out against Kermit Gosnell. Here was a man who, for thirty years, murdered black infants in his Philadelphia abortion clinic, while his activities were allowed to continue because of the complacency and tacit approval of local, state, and federal agencies. Here was a man who segregated his waiting room by race, and gave better, safer treatment to white patients. Here was a man involved in a murderous scandal that implicated — and still implicates — every level of political authority, and resulted in hundreds of born infants being decapitated, stabbed, and drowned in toilets.

What did Obama say about it?

“I can’t comment.” Abortions should be “safe, legal and rare,” he said, but he “can’t comment.”

“I can’t comment.”

The ONE time his comments would be needed, warranted, and appropriate, and he declined

He declined to take a really strong stance on gay rights, too. And then he switched up his strategy a little bit because the timing was convenient.

That's because, that's how all presidents operate. There are certain constraints that they have to work within, and other people have some control over their speech. Yeah, politics is theater...

Forget everything else the man has done. Forget everything else he’s said. All you need to know about Barack Obama the man, and Barack Obama the President, can be summed up by the fact that he immediately and forcefully commented when a black Harvard professor was arrested by a white cop; he immediately and forcefully commented when a black teenager was killed by a Hispanic neighborhood watchman; and he immediately and forcefully commented when a white NBA owner allegedly made some insulting comments about black people — but when an abortionist was allowed to murder black infants for thirty years in the middle of an American city, he said nothing.

He's commented about lots of things, often immediately. See above comments. Also, if you are trying to argue that Obama is somehow privileging the concerns of African Americans, I need only point you to his actual policies, which are pretty detrimental to people of color.  Even his response to recent action surrounding the racial biases pervading the criminal justice system have been very weak. If he is helping out any race more than others, it is white people. Rich white people. Like all presidents. Ever.

In all three of the cases where he did comment, the facts weren’t yet fully known, and the incident had no relevance outside of the area where it occurred. In Gosnell’s case, the facts were established, and the incident encompassed a wide range of local, state, and federal authorities. Yet on the first three he pounced, while on the last case he ran for the hills.

That’s all you need to know about Barack Obama.  When you're a fan of ignorance, it most certainly is.

2. The LA City Council is drafting a resolution calling for the NBA to sanction Sterling, and labeling his comments as, somehow, a violation of ‘human rights.’ Because we all have a human right to… not be insulted by people in the privacy of their homes…?

Really?  The "human rights" discourse emerged in the wake of WW2, and concerns about racial prejudice have always been part of the discourse.

The NBA can do whatever it wants here. I don’t care. However, no government authority has any business getting involved in any capacity whatsoever, unless there are laws in Los Angeles against telling your girlfriend not to go to basketball games with Magic Johnson. I don’t think any such law exists, but I know that a California law against secretly recording private conversations does exist.

Who's talking about getting government authority involved? Another Matt Walsh fabrication....

By the way, I find it interesting that you are a big defender of freedom for private businesses to make whatever decisions they want.... unless the decisions have to do with firing people who are racist or support homophobic causes.

Therefore, interestingly, if the government steps in at all, the law requires them to step in on behalf of Donald Sterling.

But they probably won’t, because we’ve given up on the law, and we’ve given up on free speech.

We’ve given up on it so completely that I will be accused of racism simply for making that statement (see: the comments under this post). Doesn't calling you a racist fall under the umbrella of free speech? Or is it only free speech when people are saying things you like?

3. Al Sharpton is threatening a boycott. I’m still waiting for Al Sharpton to boycott himself for his anti-Jewish comments, anti-gay comments, and anti-Mormon comments. Not to mention the time when he helped stir up racial hysteria over a rape hoax, or the other time he helped stir up racial hysteria over a rape hoax, or the time when he incited black mobs to attack Jews in Crown Heights, or the time when he got involved in drug deals before turning snitch for the FBI. I’m waiting for Sharpton to boycott himself for the crime of being Sharpton — i.e. just an overall lying, shameless, despicable, crook.  Yeah, you better check your sources, Matt. And I would recommend trying something other than the Daily Mail or NY Times for once.

4. Various rappers have come out of the wordwork to express their dismay over Sterling’s remarks. It’s impossible to ignore the irony when we get this kind of faux-indignation from the precise people responsible for hurting more black kids in more ways than a thousand Donald Sterlings ever could.

Riiiight. Because:  1) All hip hop is exactly the same with the same types of lyrics and rappers never write lyrics of that uplift people of color or incite them to positive action. and 2) The rappers who write the sort of stuff you eagerly reproduce below are not the pawns of rich, white recording industry execs trying to sell an exaggerated, distorted version of African American culture to mainstream audiences.

But you always prefer to believe that black people are more to blame for the social condition of black people than rich white people with lots of power. (It's almost like you have a bias against black people or something)

Racist NBA owners might result in hurt feelings, but the self-destructive culture peddled by these record industry predators results in funerals and prison time for black inner city children. I’m happy to know that Snoop Dogg — writer of such poetic lyrics as “b*tches ain’t sh*t but hoes and tricks” — thinks that Sterling should be ashamed of his repulsive rhetoric. Now that we know how sensitive Snoop Dogg is, let’s just hope he never listens to a Snoop Dogg song.

Lil Wayne also came forward to register his disapproval. This is the same guy who recently wrote lyrics where he called Emmett Till — the 14 year old black kid murdered for flirting with a white woman in the 50′s — a ‘p*ssy.’

But Mr. Wayne is, you know, super sensitive to the historical plight of black Americans. Says Mr. Sensitive to Black Americans.

5. If anything should come of this ordeal, it ought to finally be the complete dismantling of the NAACP. The organization was scheduled to give Sterling a ‘lifetime achievement award’ in a few weeks. They’ve since rescinded, but their backtrack doesn’t get them off the hook. If Sterling really has a LIFETIME of ACHIEVING things in the name of civil rights and racial tolerance, wouldn’t they perhaps be a little hesitant to throw the guy under the bus? They sure seem to have cut Sharpton a ton of slack. But if he was only going to be given the honor because he’s a wealthy guy and the NAACP is nothing but a political arm of the Democrat Party, then the move makes sense.  Unless, some of your information is incorrect (see correction at the bottom). So which is it, NAACP? Are you betraying this man who, as you formerly claimed, has dedicated an entire lifetime to achieving racial unity, or are you a bunch of Democrat shills doling out political favors?

Hmmm, this is quite the perplexing riddle, isn’t it?

6. Finally, it’s no skin off my nose if Donald Sterling gets cast out into the shadows with Mel Gibson and Kramer, but, for the sake of minor little things like integrity and accuracy, I do feel the need to wonder aloud about whether or not these tapes should be automatically trusted, without any sort of due diligence done ahead of time.

You are so concerned about people rushing to conclusions about Donald Sterling. Yet, you have no problem jumping to conclusions about the actions and motivations of his girlfriend (who is obviously a conniving bitch... or in yours words, a "manipulative morally bankrupt girlfriend").

(You also have a tendency to blame women for things... coincidence?)

These are illegal recordings given to a gossip site by a gold-digging mistress with a grudge. It seems at least possible that they could be doctored or manipulated in some way. It also seems quite possible that they weren’t. I don’t know. But isn’t it the job of the news media to verify these things BEFORE they put it all over the front page? And wouldn’t it behoove the President of the United States of America to wait until the tape is confirmed before he registers an opinion about it?

‘No comment’ — remember, that’s what he said about Gosnell.

Maybe that’s what he should have said about this.

Maybe that’s what we should all say about this.

Too late.


There’s been much discussion over Sterling’s political affiliation. From what I can tell, he’s a registered Republican who’s donated to Democrats. His (previous) affiliation with the NAACP also seems to indicate that the dude isn’t exactly Pat Buchanan. Still, it doesn’t matter. His politics are irrelevant. Donald Sterling is in the Party of Donald Sterling.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Behold: the two absolutely worst arguments against homeschooling

I just want to focus on one of the two arguments that Matt Walsh addresses (see below).'

But before I do, I should just remind everyone: Matt has a vested interest in publicly supporting homeschooling. He likely gets paid when he speaks at homeschool conventions. Not to say that he doesn't believe what he writes... just want to point out that financial incentives also drive his writing.

Back to the argument. So this guy, Dan, emails Matt and says he doesn't like Matt's attitude about public education and homeschooling. One of Dan's arguments against homeschooling is that it undermines public education.

Before getting to Matt's response, let me elaborate Dan's point a bit. Not everyone can homeschool their children. You have to have some amount of privilege to be able to do that - families with single parents, or two working parents, cannot homeschool their children. Consequently, one would expect homeschooled children to have respectable educational outcomes:  children of privilege always do. (And I can already hear Matt protesting that he's not rich; but you don't have to be rich, you don't have to be a doctor or a CEO, to be privileged.)

Now, there IS evidence that, for disadvantaged children, there is nothing better for them than public schools. (If you want to read more about it, I suggest starting with Diane Ravitch - an authority in the field of education who did a complete 180 after years of examining evidence.) If you undermine public education, then you most assuredly are damaging one of the only means that disadvantaged children have to improve their lives.

But Matt Walsh says: so what? I don't care about anyone other than my own children. Let's jump into his post.

Matt Walsh writes:

1) You say we should keep our kids in public school in order to help ‘the system.’

Dan, listen, I have to be real with you: this isn’t just a bad argument — it’s disturbing.

‘Help the system.’

Is this really a priority for parents? When my wife and I make a decision for our family, should we stop first and ask, “wait, but will this help the system?”

Would you REALLY put the welfare of ‘the system’ over that of your own children? Well, let's replace "the system" with the word "society." Do you really want to put the welfare of society over that of your own children? One could, of course, create all sorts of extreme dystopian scenarios where no one would hesitate to answer, "No! I care about my children!" But generally, what helps society helps your children. If the things that seem to help your child in the short terms are damaging to society in the long run... your child's future is not going to be too bright.

I’d hope that you wouldn’t, and I’d hope that this line of logic is unique to you, but I know that it isn’t. I’ve heard it before. I’ve heard it so often, in fact, that I’m starting to think I’m the strange one for having absolutely no desire to make my children martyrs for some bureaucratic machine. We're talking about real people here. You don't have to make them martyrs to do what is in the best interest of the community. There is no reason to suppose that the needs of the community are always in contact with the needs of your children. (Anthropologically, this assumption is utterly false.)

You know what my kids need me to be? A parent. Their dad. Not a cog in the system, not a member of the community, not a loyal townsperson in the village, not a ‘team player.’  Yup, no better way to set a good example for your children than to be a selfish asshole.

Sure, I’ll tell them not to litter and I’ll make sure they play nice with the other kids in the neighborhood, but when it comes to making choices about something as serious as their education, I don’t frankly care how our decision effects the community. Does that make me callous? I don’t know. I think it just makes me a man with priorities. Yup, nothing more important than whether Suzie learns multiplication in the building down the street or at the kitchen table . A quarter of all children in the U.S. live in a food-insecure household? Eh, don't care, I have other priorities. 

In order to argue, convincingly, that sending your child to a public school would be soooo life-changingly detrimental to her well-being that it is worth undermining an important community resource, you would need to marshal a lot of evidence. I don't believe any such evidence exists. Yes, college students drink a lot and public school students text a lot (things you bring up later). But guess what? Humans have been getting drunk, like, for forever. Sometimes you seem to overestimate the respectability of the behavior of human beings in times past. People graduating from public schools today are not harmed by it. They might not have like school; but there are many things kids don't like, including church.

Would the school system be helped if my family ‘participated’ in it? Maybe, and I’m sure the circus would be helped if you went on stage and stuck your head in a lion’s mouth. But you won’t sacrifice your scalp to the Ringling Brothers, and I won’t sacrifice my kids’ brains to public school. I guess we’re even.

Once again, Matt, you operate under the fiction that families could function apart from a community. They can't. Anthropological fact. Human beings need community to survive. There is nothing more absurd than saying, "I am putting my children's needs above those of the community." Your children's needs are intertwined with the needs of the community, and in general, you help your children when you help the community as a whole. Showing such utter disregard for community is not healthy, and not the right way to raise children. It also seems quite oppositional to the principles of your professed religion.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Aborted babies are being incinerated to provide electricity in the United States

Matt Walsh writes:

After reports a few weeks ago that aborted babies are burned to heat hospitals in the UK, today we get this: going to the most trusted sources of news, once again

The remains of aborted humans are being shipped to a US power facility, in order to provide electricity to Oregon residents.

The British Colombia Health Ministry has confirmed that ‘medical waste’ is sent to our country to be converted to electricity in waste-to-power plants. ‘Medical waste,’ in this brave new world of ours, includes amputated limbs, cancerous tissue, and the bodies of murdered children.

I don’t have any long tirade for you. I just need you to understand what’s happening here in your one nation under God. We are incinerating slaughtered babies so that we can charge our iPhones and power our televisions.  You got from "medical waste is being converted to electricity" to "abortion occurs for the express purpose of providing electricity"?  You are the agile master of logical leaps!

If we displace a few caribou to build a pipeline, or disadvantage a couple of dolphins to drill for oil, the public outrage cannot be contained. The deaths of these adults and fetuses are not caused by the process of obtaining electricity. In fact, their actual deaths have nothing to do with what happens afterward. Therefore, these are not analogous scenarios. The cries of injustice and eco-treason can be heard across the land. But using the corpses of dead kids like firewood? Well, that’s just a practical cost-saving measure, now isn’t it?

While we are putting things in perspective, I will pose something for you, Matt. If someone burns a body that is already dead, your outrage cannot be contained. But removing social safety nets from poor children who have no other means of getting food? Well, that's just a practical cost-saving measure, now isn't it?  (You have no problem supporting policies that are harmful to a majority of the world's population, but spend most of your time in a tizzy about fetuses and dead bodies.)

God help us. And God help the sick, perverted, psychopaths who can’t recognize this for the atrocity that it is. We kill these human beings, can’t we at least treat their bodies with dignity? Apparently you have never heard of cremation? Something else for you to be OUTRAGED about! Right?

Another note. My mom had a miscarriage. She cared very much for the life that was inside of her and even named the fetus. She still refers to it by name. However, she did not bury the fetus. No one buries their fetus. At least, I have never heard of it. People who get abortions are not inclined to bury their fetuses either. This is something that people do not do. It's not like this process is preventing the fetuses from getting a proper burial. They would be incinerated anyway because that is what people do with fetuses, whether you like it or not.

This touches on another point: there are a LOT of miscarriages, and it is not unreasonable to presume that much of the fetal material is from miscarriages. Fetal material does not equal abortion.

Finally, is contributing something (say, energy) to humanity really less dignified than decomposing in a hole in the ground, or being scattered in the ocean? You might be shocked - SHOCKED - to realize that microorganisms eat away your body and convert it into energy. So I guess it is more dignified to be used as energy for bacteria than for humans.

I read these stories and I remember the accounts of ancient pagans burning their children alive as a sacrifice to the god Moloch.  Yes, good example. Because burning dead bodies is exactly the same as burning live bodies.


These are terrifying times. Don’t let yourself be too buried in piles of Tweets and selfies and Netflix binges to notice that the ship is sinking straight to hell.

In our comfort and our apathy, we scoff and say, ‘ah, it can’t be that bad.’

But it is that bad.

And it will only get worse from here if we don’t wake up.


Update: LifeSiteNews reports that the Marion County Board of Commissioners have announced that the practice of burning aborted babies for power will be stopped immediately. They claim that they were unaware of the practice, but will not put it to an end.
This is a positive development, but it does not make this story any less outrageous.


A response to the dismissive “what’s the big deal?” comments:

Look, if you don’t believe in God, and you reject the sanctity of life, and you believe that we are all nothing but a collection of random molecules, then I suppose I can’t really explain why the body of a deceased human ought to be treated with dignity. Particularly if you accept and promote abortion, I can’t tell you why dead bodies should be treated with respect, when you don’t even think living bodies should be treated with respect.

All I can do, in your case, is appeal to that natural instinct, that voice inside your head — “conscience,” it’s called — that tells you cannibalism is depraved, even if the person is already dead. What we have here is a form of Industrial Age cannibalism: using dead bodies for fuel.

All I can do is remind you that, God forbid, if your child died, or your mother, or you sister, you would be outraged in the very pit of your being if someone spit on their corpse, or defiled it in someway. By your professed logic, the act shouldn’t bother you. After all, you say, that body isn’t them. They’re gone. They are nothingness now. They don’t exist. What does it matter?

But we both know that it does matter. The only difference is that you don’t understand WHY it matters, or else you pretend not to, whereas I, and many other commenters on here, do.

I know it’s awfully cool and terribly trendy to carry on like materialistic utilitarians who scoff at totally outdated and completely old fashioned concepts like dignity and decency. I know we have this habit nowadays of thinking a thing is pointless if it can’t be ‘used’ in some manner. And, if a thing can be used, then we tend to say that it should be used, just on the principle that useless things have no right to take up space on this planet. But, again, deep in my heart, I know that deep in your heart you see this attitude for the vacant, hollow, lie that it is.

Yes, the body of a deceased human is useless. Yes, it can, apparently, be converted into electricity and, yes, electricity is useful. Yes, and so what? The Mona Lisa is useless, should we chop it up for firewood? Your grandmother isn’t nearly as useful as she once was, should we send her the farm to be put down? Music is useless, should we throw all the guitars and pianos into the inferno also?

No? Then maybe, just maybe, you really DO understand that sometimes the value of a thing has no relation to its usefulness.

What I’m saying is this: the body of a deceased child is useless, yes. But it has value. It has dignity. It deserves to be treated with respect.

Now, to those who call themselves Christians but still make excuses for this practice: you should be ashamed. Truly, you should be ashamed. Our bodies and our souls are not two separate entities. Your exterior is not some fleshy shell. Your body and your soul are in harmony with one another, and the two, together, make you you. What makes me me is not confined to my body - it is much more than my body. In fact, the "body" does not exist as some discrete, unchanging whole. The organic material that made up my body when I was born belongs to the earth, or other organisms, today. Organic material is constantly being incorporated into and eliminated from my body. Even though materially my body is completely different today than it was when I was four, I am still the same person. Also, my body happens to be composed of more cells belonging to other organisms than cells that are just me. So, Matt, you clearly seem to be working with a concept of "body" that is much, much too simplistic.

Jesus Christ became man, and this act forever puts to rest the debate about whether or not the human body, in and of itself, deserves to be respected and treated with dignity. God Himself took its form, forever elevating that form to something sacred. End of discussion. The argument is settled.

You are a Christian, are you not?

In any case, Christian or Jew or Muslim or Atheist, we should all be, at the very least, civilized people.

Civilized people don’t burn dead babies for fuel. They just don’t. Heh, you should see the things civilized people do to each other...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Affirmative action: defeating perceived discrimination with actual bigotry!

I read that the Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s voter-approved initiative banning affirmative action in college admissions.

They didn’t rule on affirmative action itself except for, you know, saying it's constitutional to pass a law banning affirmative action, but merely affirmed the voters’ right to have a say in our democratic system. Predictably, a mob of left-wingers (liberal people expressing opinions on the internet = mob; conservative people expressing opinions on the internet = escaping liberal oppression!!!) immediately took to the internet to advocate for racial tolerance by saying a bunch of racist things about Clarence Thomas. Saying that Clarence Thomas' decision was ironic and hypocritical is accurate, not racist.

In the mind of Liberal Whitey, not only should we have a paternalistic mechanism in place to treat minorities like children who need special treatment, but we should even disallow the citizens of individual states from getting to decide for themselves whether their education system will be based on racial quotas and institutionalized discrimination. So.. having the demographics of the college population match the actual population is "special treatment" but allowing white people to continue to use unjustly gained advantages to the detriment of others is not?

And how does affirmative action treat minorities like children? By telling them that they can have a future in something other than food service?

Notice: I didn’t call it ‘institutionalized reverse discrimination.’That's because reverse discrimination is not a thing. I called it discrimination. Affirmative action is discrimination by definition. Literally, by definition.

Discrimination: treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.

Nope. discrimination has the connotation of being unjust. Affirmative action is not unjust. In fact, affirmative action is an attempt to level the playing field, so that individual merit actually means something.

To call it ‘reverse’ discrimination is to insinuate that ‘real discrimination’ is an innately white phenomenon. It also assumes that discrimination has nothing to do with a historical and social context of institutionalized inequalities and prejudices, which is a grave error.  I know that such a view is actually held by many Americans, and actually taught in our schools, but it is a patently idiotic notion. Discrimination rears its ugly head in every corner of the globe, whether the white man is present there or not. If you want to blame white people for something, blame us for ironic bumper stickers and Aaron Sorkin TV shows. Neither of those would exist in a world without honkies. But discrimination? Find me a race not guilty of it, and I’ll show you a race not of this Earth.  Matt, I know this is difficult for you to understand, but can you at least try to comprehend that it makes a difference, when one's actions toward a person are based on group affiliation, whether or not one is enslaving that group, lynching that group, preventing that group from buying homes and feeding themselves? Do you really have no comprehension of how that matters? 

Affirmative action is discrimination. It’s also bigotry, and strangely enough, the people mostly victimized by the bigotry are precisely the ones supposedly helped by the discrimination. That’s what angers me the most about the whole ludicrous affair. Can you think of anything more belittling than the white folks in charge of universities counting their students like faceless statistics, measuring them based on their skin color, and then decreeing that they need a few more blacks to fill the quota?

I don't know. Maybe you should talk to actual people of color. From what I hear, they quite like the opportunity to get a college education and not spend the rest of their lives in poverty. Most don't, for some crazy reason, find it "belittling" to be accepted into college.

This is equality? This is progress? Bureaucratic calculations predetermining the exact allotment of skin pigmentations — this is the sort of diversity we want in America?  Yeah, that sounds so much worse than a never-ending cycle of racialized poverty. Progress would definitely be allowing oppressed minorities to continue to languish in urban decay and never envision any better future for themselves.

I’m repulsed by it, as any American ought to be. I struggle to even write a few paragraphs criticizing affirmative action, because the entire thing is so nakedly degrading and blatantly self-defeating. Or, because you don't really understand the history of race in America and you are not employing any social, historical, educational, or economic evidence to support your ideas. That must make it really hard to write even a few paragraphs about this issue. (But you'll continue.)

It depresses me that discussions about affirmative action always devolve into arguments over whether it ‘works’ or not.  Really? My discussions center on whether it is just or not. (It is.) It doesn’t work evidence?, and the fact that we’ve had affirmative action policies in place for decades, yet much of black America still struggles so mightily, proves that point. What about the fact that minority enrollment in colleges has plummeted in states that have banned affirmative action? Is that not evidence of a benefit?  How long do you think major social change occurs? Is 20 years enough time to reverse the damage of 200 years of American history, especially in the face of many other continuing forces of institutionalized racism? Many black people are still struggling because many institutions - particularly the legal system - still work against them. No, affirmative action isn't going to immediately, drastically change the situation of African Americans. But giving more of them more opportunities is a start. The fact that affirmative action has, in fact, increased enrollment of oppressed minority groups is certainly a success, even if it didn't immediately rewrite 200 years of American society. Even liberals are starting to understand the strategic disaster that affirmative has proven to be. From one person you extrapolate? But, really, what kind of question is that? Does it work? We’re talking about people here, not cows. Not robots. Not numbers on a spreadsheet. Even if discrimination works, it still doesn’t work. Even if the end is desirable, it can’t justify the means if the means include elevating a certain group through the targeted utilization of systematic racism. Matt, you really don't understand the meaning of the word racism. There have been plenty of admissions factors that advantage white students (e.g. the legacy factor). What's wrong with giving disadvantaged people a leg up?

When we criticize segregation, do we criticize it because it didn’t work? Or do we criticize it because the forced, government-imposed segregation of people based on race is a moral evil? Affirmative action is not "segregation" - in fact, it is the opposite. American society is extremely segregated, and affirmative action helps to increase integration in higher education and beyond. By the way, your argument about "government-imposed segregation of people based on race" (your misuse of the word "segregation" aside) is sounding eerily similar to complaints about forced integration of public schools.

Affirmative action is designed to ignore a person’s merits, their achievements, their character, their ambition, their efforts, and instead rank and categorize them according to the color of their skin. Or, it takes a very large pool of qualified applicants, a good number of whom will not be accepted due to space limitations, and ensures that final result is representative of the general population. This is wrong. It doesn’t matter who it’s supposed to benefit. It benefits no one, but it doesn’t matter if it does benefit someone. It’s wrong. It’s wrong to discriminate against someone or for someone simply because of their ethnicity.  No, it takes into account many factors, and then makes sure they are being racially representative before they start making random cut-offs. This is basic stuff, my liberal friends. These are basic, fundamental ethical concepts. It doesn’t matter if the discrimination is supposed to combat discrimination. That’s like cheating on your wife and telling her you only did it to address her infidelity. No, this makes no sense. It's not about tit-for-tat. It's about trying to prevent injustices in the educational system from exacerbating cycles of poverty and oppression.

Dear Lord, affirmative action proponents, please never become marriage counselors. I can only imagine what sort of advice you’d dole out.

“Hmmm, Mrs. Johnson, you say your husband is deceitful and abusive? Well, I recommend that you employ a policy of reverse deceit and abuse against your husband. Problem solved. That’ll be 600 dollars.”

It’s wrong. I shouldn’t need to spell it out. I shouldn’t need to give reasons why affirmative action in higher education (or anywhere else) makes no sense, when we’ve already established that it’s a moral and ethical travesty.

But, if I wanted to give a few reasons, I’d point out that the term ‘affirmative action’ first appeared in a Kennedy executive order, which called for people to be given opportunities “without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” This is notable because the current iteration of affirmative action is exactly designed to ensure opportunities by taking special regard for a person’s race, color, and national origin. When the person has not had equal access to those opportunities specifically as a result of their race, color, or national origin.

And if I wanted to give more reasons, I’d bring up the Jews and Asians, who are both ethnic minorities, and have both experienced enormous hardship and prejudice, yet they both are, in fact, disproportionately represented in ‘higher education,’ not to mention fields like medicine and engineering. If the university system is stacked in favor of white males, why have we wielders of white privilege made such a glaring exception in their cases? Actually, they’re such an exception, that now affirmative action policies require institutions to discriminate against them in order to stop them from being too successful. Well, I guess if you insist on being blind to social/historical context, then that situation is quite puzzling. If you understand how the histories of Jews and Asians are different from Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, it makes a lot more sense. (This history of how Jews found a niche in higher education is very long to recount, but interesting; for Asians, suffice it to say: they were not brought here in slave ships, they were not ethnically cleansed and forced onto reservations, and their lives were not shaped by European colonization in the same way as the people of Latin America. The U.S. has had a special economic relationship with many Southeast Asian countries, and China has always been outside the orbit of U.S./Western dominance. Yes, Asians have been subject to a lot of discrimination, but they have also brought more resources, social and economic, with them. They are subject to different power relationships and occupy a different position in the economic division of labor.)

And if I wanted to give still additional reasons, I’d say that it’s absurd to think that universities are run by white supremacists whose inherent racism needs to be regulated through affirmative action policies, when it’s the universities that peddle white guilt more passionately than any other institution in America. Many colleges go so far as to teach that all white people are racist, no matter what, without exception. Until recently, the University of Delaware, for instance, required that all residents be indoctrinated (this is not a valid source - in fact, it there appears to be nothing trustworthy on that website) to radical left-wing racial theories, even if they weren’t taking any classes on the subject. And you’re telling me these places that convince white people to hate themselves and their heritage are actually bastions of white privilege? I think we must be working with drastically different understandings of the word ‘privilege.’ Yup, you must be working with a different definition of the word "privilege" - and "racism" for that matter. Here is the key point: these things do not lie in people's heads. They are material, institutional facts. They exist in policies, traditions, and court rulings.

Here's an example. New SAT questions are always tested in a experimental section before appearing on the actual SAT. However, in order to be deemed legitimate, they must perform identically to already-existing questions. The idea is to keep the tests statistically comparable. In practice, this means that all new questions must have disparate racial performance. If black people are able to answer the question as well as, or better than, white people, it is thrown out.

It's about this type of inertia that prevents the status quo from changing.

Now, many people do hold very racist beliefs. Anyone who tries to argue that this overt, ideological racism is "dead" should take a gander at the internet sometime. I would start with YouTube comment chains.

But racism and privilege are more than beliefs, and it is possible for people and institutions to exacerbate racism and perpetuate privilege without intending to do so. That's what makes "color blind" rhetoric (e.g. "Factoring race into the admissions process is sooo terrible!") so insidious. It prevents us from identifying and resisting this institutional racism.

And if I wanted to continue giving reasons, I’d observe that if anti-minority sensibilities are still such a prevalent problem as to warrant affirmative action the sensibilities exist (once again, look at YouTube) but that is not what warrants affirmative action; enduring material, institutionalized racism warrants affirmative action, then clearly affirmative action has not succeeded in achieving the thing which it was supposedly designed to achieve. Either our academic institutions are run by white bigots, and affirmative action has failed to change that dynamic, or they aren’t run by white bigots, and affirmative action only succeeds in creating a problem that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Or racism is much more complex than you understand. Either way, affirmative action loses. You are left with nothing that could lead any rational person to the conclusion that affirmative action policies must continue.  Matt Walsh favorite argument: you don't have any rational reasons for your beliefs. Because I say so.

And if I wanted to give even more reasons, I’d mention that you’re putting a minority student at an extreme disadvantage when you throw him into an academic environment because he fills your skin tone quota, but isn’t otherwise prepared to handle the workload.

Your assumption, Matt Walsh:  the people of color who are accepted into college, in the presence of affirmative action programs, do not otherwise deserve to be there. Their merits and achievements do not qualify them. The only reason they are in college is because of their skin color, and they are not able to handle college work. (By the way, this assumption is what I would call classic racism.) Because the pool of qualified applicants exactly matches the number of spots available, and people who are turned down are very clearly, measurably less qualified. Because the admissions process is otherwise objective and relies upon unassailable measures of intelligence and achievement. Because nothing else about the admissions process disadvantages people of certain skin colors.

And if I wanted to offer yet another reason, I’d say something about the fact that affirmative action makes wild assumption contingent solely on race, while taking no account of other factors that might put someone at a greater disadvantage. You do not understand how affirmative action programs work. We’re left with a ridiculous dichotomy where a black male from a wealthy upper class family is given the benefits of affirmative action, over the son of an impoverished white single mother, or the daughter of a poor Japanese fisherman.  The dichotomy exists in your mind. There are many aspects of the admissions process that disadvantage people of lower economic statuses (and I certainly believe more could be done to address it), but affirmative action, if anything, ameliorates rather than exacerbates this situation. Do you have evidence that affirmative action only helps wealthy minorities? Or are you just trying to create divisions - to nurse the insecurities of poor people who are not Black or Latino?

And if I wanted to keep tossing out reasons, I’d probably tell you that the very term ‘ethnic minority’ is virtually impossible to quantify. Elizabeth Warren claimed she’s a Native American. Sure, she’s a shameless, lying, Socialist, but who’s to say she doesn’t have some minority blood? Who’s to say I don’t count as a minority? My ancestors came from Ireland, and weren’t exactly greeted with open arms when they arrived on our shores. At what point in the lineage does a family lose its minority status? Is it all based on skin color? Is the child of a Polish immigrant less an ethnic minority than Barack Obama, the wealthy biracial man raised by his white mother? What if Obama’s skin complexion more closely resembled his maternal side? Would that make him less a minority? Who is the arbiter of these things? Who decides? Does any of this make even the slightest bit of sense? Have all our brains simply turned to mush?  Yes, yes, race and ethnicity are complex social constructions. It is, in fact, possible to contemplate and even use that fact without your brain turning to mush. I know it is difficult to live in a world devoid of any social/historical context. If you lived in my world where such context is paramount, you might see that it is precisely particular types of systematic discrimination and oppression that define concepts like "race" and "minority, " and therefore, it is possible to be aware of, and use, the concepts as residues of complex social processes in order to amend or halt said processes.

If I wanted to give a bunch of reasons why racial discrimination is a bad idea — aside from the fact that it’s just a generally repugnant practice — I’d probably say all of those things.

But I won’t, because it shouldn’t be necessary.

Affirmative action is an atrocity.

Also, college is often a terrible waste of money, so this whole conversation should be a moot point.  Yup, waste of money. It is much better to sit around, basking in ignorance, making arguments that are detrimental to other human beings.

Christian women: feminism is not your friend

Matt Walsh writes:

Christian women (and men): please, let feminism go.

Better yet, let yourself go from it.

Release yourself from its shackles.

Everyday I hear from people who tell me they are ‘pro-life feminist’ or ‘Christian feminist.’ Yet millions of modern feminists would respond that such a thing is not possible. Feminism, they say, exists largely to combat the patriarchal evils of pro-life Christianity. They claim that calling yourself a pro-life feminist is like calling yourself a carnivorous vegan, or an environmentalist Humvee enthusiast. The concepts are contradictory, they argue, and I agree — though I’d say the term ‘pro-life feminist’ could be more aptly compared to ‘abolitionist slave trader’ or ‘free market communist.’ Exactly which feminists are you talking to about this, and what evidence can you provide for your assertions? As it turns out, there is a large body of feminists of color who challenge the white, middle class feminist preoccupation with abortion. There are different kinds of feminism, and it is not for you to say which are legitimate.

So I urge you: unbind yourself from the bondage of this term that’s become inexorably tied to a demonic dogma that obliterates the unity of the family, drives a wedge between a wife and her husband, and digs a giant chasm between a mother and her child. Actually some of the worst marital relationships I have observed are male-dominant/female-subservient, and some of the best are marriages between feminists (male and female alike). Same goes for parent-child relationships.

Why put yourself on a spectrum that includes, to a large degree, somewhere – whether on one end or in the middle or in between or strewn throughout — a passionate belief in the inalienable right to murder the baby in your womb?

Why? What is accomplished? What truth did feminism reveal that will now be lost, or forgotten, should you stop ascribing to the label? Maybe the broad unity necessary to challenge material realities and attitudes that place women at a social, economic, and political disadvantage?

What truth did feminism reveal at all, actually?  See above.

That women are equal to men in human dignity and intrinsic value? No, feminism did not reveal this. Christianity revealed it. This is very debatable. Or really... not accurate at all. Christ revealed it. Christian thinkers throughout the ages have affirmed it and taught it and also fought it and denied it; notably Thomas Aquinas, who said that women are meant to rule alongside men. That was 800 years ago, or 600 years before the term ‘feminist’ existed.  And also, before most of the modern terminology for social phenomena that we use today existed. And also, before modern English existed, and before theologians wrote in any form of English.

Here’s the part where I’m accused of being ignorant of feminist history.  I think there is more than one part where you're ignorant of history and feminism.

I will admit that I haven’t taken any feminist studies courses  nooo! Shocking!, nor have I ever used the word ‘gendered,’ nor have I had any occasion to whip out femi-jargon like ‘phallogocentrism’ and ‘gynocriticism,’ but I have read a more comprehensive account of world history what book - I mean "comprehensive account" - was that? sources?, so I do know this:

‘Feminism’ is derived from the French word ‘feminisme,’ and it was, from what I understand, first used by a French philosopher in the early-mid 19th Century. Adopted by ‘first wave feminists’ during the suffrage movement, the ‘reclaim feminism’ conservative Christian crowd now insists that it was coopted by radical man-haters in the 60′s.  What relevance does this have to anything? Words are used by different people for different purposes throughout time and space. Fact of linguistics.

They’re correct that the ‘tone’ of feminism has grown more — shall we say – unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean it was necessarily hijacked by ideological pirates. The point here is that feminists initially fought for goals like voting rights and property rights (among other things, which we’ll get to later). How does this support your previous point at all? Now, no woman is barred from voting or owning property based on her gender. So the mission has evolved, and evolved into something far less noble. Well, actually, I don't think you truly understand the "mission." In fact, even within a particular historical moment the goals of feminists have been varied and contested. However, the concerns of feminists have generally been more broad than a simple checklist composed of a couple of items (voting, property rights). For example, you miss an important part of the mainstream (white, middle-class) first-wave feminist platform: the ability to have some control over their sex lives and reproduction. They did not like that they were expected to have sex whenever their husbands wanted to, even if they didn't feel like it. They didn't like that they could not abstain from sex if they wanted to be more deliberate about the timing of when they had children (this was before birth control). This concern with control over sex and reproduction would certainly be considered an ongoing issue. (Now, I know this is where you will come in and say  - Ah ha! Abortion! See! - but the point is, it was always broader than any particular issue, like abortion). There are other concerns that you omit as well.

Yes, feminism has evolved. But it is not simply because feminists met all the objectives on their checklists and had to find something else to worry about. The evolution had to do with the changes in the social particulars through which their broader, enduring goals were manifested, as well as the fact that the goals were, as I said before, heterogeneous from the beginning.

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with the point you are trying to make? I believe you started this tangent by way of saying you had some knowledge of the history of feminism (a claim that you just handily undermined). But what does this have to do with whether there are any merits to being a feminist today?

And we arrive at the real problem:

Feminism is no longer a matter of fighting for equal rights. Feminism has turned in on itself and become an effort to redefine what constitutes a ‘right’ and what constitutes ‘equality.’
We live in a society where unborn humans are the only group consistently and seriously deprived of basic legal protections. Incidentally, feminists — liberal feminists, modern feminists, feminist feminists, whatever you want to call them — are the ones primarily responsible for codifying this injustice into law. The only true ‘equal rights’ movement left in America seriously?? is the pro-life movement, and guess who the pro-lifers are fighting against? Okay, so after all those paragraphs blathering on about history and whatever else (I've already forgotten) we come back to your first (and so far only) point: feminism is not worthwhile today because of abortion.  Which still does nothing to address the counter-argument that feminism is a lot broader than abortion, and that certain prominent strands of feminism have never concerned themselves with abortion in that way.

Feminists. They might be ‘new wave feminist’ or ‘third wave feminists’ or ’12th ripple of the third wave redesigned neo-feminists 2.0,’ but they’re feminists, one way or another. What's the point of this paragraph?

This is a pretty convincing indication that feminism has, at the very least, outlived its good. There is nothing surprising about that, because feminism, unlike Christianity, is a human construct. Well that is another thing that is very debatable, for a number of reasons, even among Christians themselves. It’s an ideology. It’s a political theory. It’s a label. It is not eternal, it is not perfect (there’s the understatement of the decade), and it is not indispensable.

Feminism, like ‘liberalism,’ like ‘conservativism,’ like the Republican Party, like the Democrat Party, is a finite thing that exists and serves a certain purpose in a certain set of circumstances. When the times change, and the circumstances change, it will either die or its purpose will change.

Congratulations. You have just described the nature of almost all social reality and the essence of all language, for all of human existence. What's your point?

Think of political labels like seatbelts. A seatbelt is a good thing, assuming you’re in a car and the car is moving. But if you’re underwater, or the car is on fire, suddenly the seatbelt is less a safety mechanism and more a deathtrap. So it’s not enough to say that ‘seatbelts are good.’ What you mean is ‘safety is good, and seatbelts sometimes make us safer.’ Similarly, equal legal protections are good, and feminism, at one point many years ago, helped ensure those legal protections. Times have changes, and feminism no longer serves that purpose. Women don't even have equal legal protections today. But anyway, since you refuse to understand what feminists are trying to accomplish, and apparently feminism is whatever you say feminism is, then you can declare that feminism equates to abortion (something you are against) and proclaim that it is useless. No need to understand someone else's point of view.

This car is our culture, and feminism is the seatbelt that melted and trapped you inside this blazing inferno.

It should also be noted that the problems with feminism stretch far beyond abortion. It seems, for instance, that even many conservative feminists subscribe to the notion that women were subjugated and oppressed for the entirety of human civilization, until the emergence of the feminist movement. Do you have evidence that this is not true?

They tie female liberation to the Industrial Age, equating the liberty of womanhood with her ability and opportunity to work a job and participate in the American democratic system.  I guess I have to say this a million times:  feminism is heterogeneous. There are many feminists who reject this attitude entirely. Female liberation is in no way tied to success in the industrial capitalist system. Try again, Matt.  Lost in this theory is the fact that Christian civilization — before the United States, before industrialization, even before Gloria Steinem — afforded many rights to women. How often do you hear anyone mention that females were members in equal standing to men in the vast majority of the English Guilds in the Middle Ages? I thought you just said it was problematic to judge the position of women by ability to work a job? Self contradict, much?

Yes, thanks to Christianity, there were women in many occupations and practicing many trades, long before we were all seduced by the siren song of the assembly line.

You are partly correct. In many ways, and primarily in its early days, Christianity was a religion of the oppressed and marginalized. The "good news" was that social distinctions - Jew and gentile, man and woman, slave and master, etc. - would have no place in the Kingdom of God (I am paraphrasing Galatians 3:28 here). So, according to that message (which is totally compatible with feminism), in many Christian communities women did enjoy an uncommon status of equality. (Although that was more common in fringe, communal religious groups in general.) However, at the same time, other Christian leaders insisted that women must be subjugated to men and that they had no right to speak or lead.

So yes, some early Christians were champions of women's rights. But others most assuredly were not. Over time, the attitudes of the latter prevailed and characterized most of the Church's history. (As a Catholic, Matt, you should be acutely aware of this.)

Also... just curious... why would you start arguing about how Christianity supported women's equality when the point of this post is to demonstrate that there is some conflict between being Christian and feminist? How does this serve your purpose?


Feminism, at its roots, has also struggled to differentiate between equality of rights and equality of being I thought the whole notion of "rights" was premised on the notion of an "essence" of a human being (i.e. "equality of being"). We all deserve equality under the law, but that doesn’t mean we are all equal. Well, we're not all equal, but that's because there is no force to ensure that equality under the law becomes equality in reality.

Equality: sameness.  Incorrect.

To be equal is to be the same.  Nope, equality relates to correspondence (e.g. status) while sameness relates to identity. Anyway, this is one case where language hinders more than it clarifies. What does it mean to say that any person is "the same" as any other person? We are all different. Women are not equal to men because they are not the same as men. Couldn't one say, "Black people are not equal to white people because they are not the same as white people."? You can clearly see the absurdity when you make race the subject of this proposition. It is just as absurd to make this claim about gender. Therefore, a woman’s freedom is really slavery if it forces her to abandon all of the unique feminine abilities and characteristics that make her a woman.  I've gone through this before, but in brief:  you have no evidence, no proof of the existence of any "unique feminine abilities and characteristics." You *wanting* something to be true doesn't make it true.  The same could be said for men, if his freedom requires him to shirk that which sets him apart from women and makes him a man.

From my reading of the history of feminist theory  hahaha... I still want to know what book you read, it would seem that feminism has always embraced a sort of Platonic idea that our bodies are mere shells for our souls, and so our gender differences are just mechanical.

Christianity, on the other hand, has from the beginning taught that our bodies are in union with our souls, and our physiological differences run much deeper than flesh and bone.

Alright, so you've finally gotten to a Point #2. Namely, that Christianity has always taught the existence of distinct, binary male and female essences. (Based on the early church writings I have read, I do not believe this is true, and to the contrary, it is my understanding that early Christian perspectives on the relationship between the body and soul were not completely uniform.) Now, in order to strengthen your argument, you will need to expand upon and make more explicit a necessary assumption:  that, according to the early Christians, the union of body and soul was necessarily a gendered union of body and soul (yup, I used the word "gendered"; deal with it) - that there were two distinct types of body/soul - and that, furthermore, this idea was somehow foundational to or embedded in core Christian principles (such that a rejection of that idea would be, ipso facto, a rejection of Christianity as a whole). I guess your next paragraph will contain some evidence to back up your assumptions, especially since this point is crucial to your overarching argument.

I’m venturing way off into the weeds here, and I don’t want the point to get lost in an academic discussion don't worry, you weren't getting anywhere close to academic discussion. Whatever feminism was, we have to deal with what it is.

And what is it?

First, it’s the single loudest voice in favor of slaughtering innocent children.

Okay, let's keep track of where we are right now. You start by stating Point # 1, a point easily shown to be invalid, then go off on a completely irrelevant tangent, only to return to Point #1, without lending it any evidence or logical support. Next, you introduce Point #2, a point on which your entire case rests.... then, before elaborating that point at all, you decide that supporting it with any evidence whatsoever would be getting "into the weeds" and go back to restating Point #1.

Do I need to proceed to a second point?  You do, and you already did, but then you decided you didn't need to defend your point. (See above comment.)

Go ahead and tell me that the pro-abortion feminists are but members of a ‘spectrum.’ The question is whether you want to include yourself on a spectrum that ends, on one side, in the blood of infants.

Good point. And if you decide to be a member of the spectrum of Christianity, then you are including yourself in spectrum that ends, on one side, with the funeral-picketing practices of the Westboro Baptist Church and the bombing of abortion clinics. So you shouldn't be a Christian at all if you don't want to associate yourself with those people, right? Ironclad argument, Matt.  

Here’s an interesting question: if, in order to erase abortion, we had to erase all of the other things that feminism accomplished, would you erase it? Would you flip that switch? In this outlandish hypothetical, would you obliterate feminism to end abortion, if it meant obliterating whatever else feminism has achieved? Absolutely! Because the lives of fetuses are much, much, much more valuable than the lives of all adult women.

I hope that you would. I would if I was you. If all the works of feminism had to be turned back just to undo what it’s done in the last 40 years, I’d do it.  If allowing women to be raped and abused with impunity, to be treated like property and children,  could get rid of abortion, well sign me up!! We'd only be sacrificing half of the human race!

This is all a long way of asking: does the good of feminism outweigh the evil of it?  As well all know, abortion would not exist if it were not for feminism. Abortion did not exist before feminism. Except for... alllll the abortion that existed before feminism.

I say no. An emphatic, unflinching no.

It’s not even close, in fact.

And, beyond that, what does it say about feminism that it so quickly turned into this monstrosity? It might be time for pro-life feminists to confront the possibility that pro-abortion feminism is not some kind of extreme perversion of first wave feminism. It might be time to consider the chance that, though many of the pioneer feminists did not advocate abortion, and may have even stridently opposed it, they still developed the theories and ideas that would later be used (and used logically) to fuel the pro-choice movement. 

Feminism, from the very beginning, at its earliest stages, had a habit of presenting the family and religion as enemies to female equality. Elizabeth Stanton, friend of Susan B. Anthony, and one of the godmothers of feminism, said that “the bible and the church have been the greatest stumbling block in the way of women’s liberation.” This was a woman of the first wave — not the second, not the third. This is Scripture made out to be an obstacle, a ‘stumbling block,’ way down at the very foundation of feminist theory.

Meanwhile, Susan B. Anthony’s newsletter “The Revolution” had this motto: “The True Republic – Men, their rights and nothing more; Women, their rights and nothing less.”

Well, maybe, just maybe, it is possible to identify with the feminist movement because you are concerned about violence against women, and stereotypical portrayals of women as superficial airheads, and prescriptions about what kinds of careers women should have. Maybe those issues are really important to you, and labeling yourself a "feminist" seems to be the most effective means of aligning yourself with that cause, and maybe you don't think the fact that other feminists are pro-choice in any way delegitimizes or undermines the cause. And maybe you don't care what Matt Walsh thinks about it.

From the very beginning, at its earliest stages, feminism was a movement designed to find equality with men — and then dominance over them what evidence do you have that feminism was ever concerned with finding dominance over men?. Christianity has always taught harmony and love between the sexes so has feminism, while feminism preaches competition and exclusion evidence?. There is simply no way to reconcile feminism with Biblical notions of marriage, and even the early feminists knew it. Oh yes, those wonderful Biblical notions of marriage... where a widow is forced to marry her brother-in-law, and a rape victim is forced to marry her rapist. Well you got me. I wouldn't want to sacrifice that dignified version of marriage for some sort of respect for women.

I’m no Susan B. Anthony biographer no!, but even I recognize this famous quote from the first lady of feminism:

“There is not the woman born who desires to eat the bread of dependence, no matter whether it be from the hand of father, husband, or brother; for any one who does so eat her bread places herself in the power of the person from whom she takes it.”

Casting ‘dependence’ as the ultimate evil, characterizing the family and marriage as a power struggle — this goes to the very heart of feminist thought. To deny that is to deny reality. And, Matt, please tell me, what type of healthy relationship is based on dependence? If you think dependence is beneficial, then maybe you should stop complaining about social welfare programs, which you claim foster dependence.

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But why argue over this? If you believe that women should have equal protection under the law — good. I agree with you.   But you would get rid of that equality in a second if that could stop abortion.  Almost everybody agrees with you. That belief just makes you a constitutionalist.

If you believe that women possess an equal inherent worth and dignity — great. I agree with you. But you also say they are weaker and inherently different and should always be subservient to men. That belief either makes you Christian, or brings you closer to becoming one.

All of the ground is covered, there is no need for feminism. Everything you have said in this post proves that there is a huge need for feminism to combat the still-prevalent ignorance and disrespect for women.  Whatever good could be found, it’s now covered in piles of death and hatred, and no matter what anyone wants to believe, the roots of ‘bad feminism’ can be traced back to ‘good feminism.’ Saying that you need to cling to feminism just because you believe in equal protection under the law is like saying you have to be a Klan member just to be a states rights proponent (the KKK has had its own ‘waves,’ and its earliest members were essentially guerillas fighting against northern occupation of southern states). The Klan has always been racist (and opposition to the north, as well as states' rights arguments, were the most effective vehicles of racism at that time... even still to this day). There is no prominent strand of the Klan that is not racist. If you are a Klan member, you are racist. The whole point of the Klan is racism. There is no heterogeneity in the Klan. There is, however, heterogeneity in feminism. There are prominent, legitimate strands of feminism that include Christians, and that are prominent, legitimate strands of feminism that are not pro-choice or do not include abortion in their platform. There is a difference between these scenarios. Also, nice job throwing feminists on the same side of the equation as the KKK.

So there is no need for it, unless you wish to tinker with the definitions of ‘equal protection’ and ‘inherent worth and dignity,’ (definitions of "equal protection" and "inherent worth and dignity" = whatever Matt Walsh wants them to mean) so as to justify things like abortion-on-demand and taxpayer subsidized birth control.

For that, you need feminism, and for that, you don’t need Christianity.

I think it’s time to choose between the two.