If I sound just a wee bit annoyed this morning, Gentle Reader, it's only because I am. My development computer has gone belly-up, my garage door opener isn't working, I just got gasoline all over my trousers, and the weather here on beautiful scenic Long Island has turned very, very cold. Mind you, I'm not taking my bile out on you; I'm just setting a few thoughts down in pixels, lest they move me to grab my sniper rifle and a fresh package of Oreo Double-Stufs and head for the nearest clock tower.
Have a gander at this atrocity from the New York Times:
My 4-year-old son, Emmett, swallows a spoonful of cereal and asks me if I know what a gentleman is. Surprised, I tell him I have some idea; then I ask what the word means to him.
“A gentleman lets girls go first,” he says, explaining that every day at naptime all the girls go to the bathroom before the boys.
His explanation, along with the quiet solemnity with which he delivers it, is completely endearing and yet it makes my heart ache. This adorable little boy, who is only beginning to learn the ways of the world, just got his first lesson in sexism — and from a teacher who, I don’t doubt, believes she’s doing something wonderful for womankind.
Please read the whole thing, if your stomach is up to the stress.
It isn't often I find a paean to pseudo-equality quite this vile in a major media organ...even one as badly decayed as the Times.
Gentlemanliness was once the code of conduct to which all civilized men were expected to aspire. It had its underpinnings in a concept of justice and rules of decency and fair play that no intelligent creature would dream of dismissing. It recognized that we are not "equals" -- that there are differences not merely between the sexes, but between any and every two individuals on Earth, that militate toward certain preferences of treatment.
It began with a constraint against flaunting or crassly exploiting one's advantages:
- The stronger must not abuse the weaker;
- The brighter must not demean the duller;
- The richer must not mock or degrade the poorer;
...and so forth. From there, it continued into prescriptions for positive action:
- The stronger shall assist the weaker;
- The brighter shall guide the duller;
- The richer shall give alms to the poorer
...when appropriate, and never when resisted or resented. We might summarize these as a "principle of courtesy in superiority:"
The seventh nostrum of gentlemanly behavior was one principally intended to guide conduct between gentlemen, and so was the least important of the bunch -- yet it's the one most people remember today:
(If that puts you in mind of men in ruffled shirts and pistols at dawn, you're not alone.)
For a gentleman to hold the door for a woman is merely the expression of a degree of advantage: he got there first. Indeed, were "she" a "he," the rule would apply equally well.
Sexism? Not at all; take it from a thoroughgoing sexist. It's an aspiration toward gentleness, a repudiation of "Nature red in tooth and claw."
Miss Messina either cannot understand this or has willfully rejected it. Either way, her column is beneath contempt.
2. Tautologies, Anyone?
Charles Krauthammer, normally one of the best and most lucid political analysts around, fires a snowbird with this prescription:
Want to save the Republic? Win the next election.
Which, if I may borrow from Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, is a bit like telling a PGA golfer that if he'd just slam those ninety-foot putts home, he'd win the tournament easily.
Winning elections is what political parties are all about. But the GOP is sinking into the me-tooist mire -- the condition in which the voters are asked to choose between two visions, one of which is merely a weaker version of the other -- that characterized it before the ascent of Reagan Republicanism. They won very few elections at any level when they last suffered from this malady; they're unlikely to win many during this relapse.
3. But What About Naomi?
Mark Levin is a bright fellow. He's written some good books and is generally worth listening to, but he, too, can become vapid of exhortation:
"Even though we lost the last two elections, and Obama's reelection was by no means a blowout despite a fairly weak Republican nominee, so many people keep talking about the Constitution. I view this as a very positive thing. Are there more of us than there are the others -- that is, those who reject our heritage and are conquered by or have surrendered to the Leviathan? History will tell us one day. The choice is in our hands right now."
"History" is already telling us, Mark: by the loss of "winnable" elections; by the swelling of the welfare and food stamp rolls; and by the crescendo of demands for special treatment from an ever growing population of special-interest pleaders.
But time is not static. "History" is what has already happened, not what is happening nor what will happen. Matters might yet change, despite the ominous state of things today. Just now we are outnumbered, at least in the tallies alluded to above. People "talking about the Constitution" might be a harbinger of positive change, or it might not.
Conservatives' needs are strategic and tactical, far more than inspirational. We're all familiar with the old saw:
They Might Want To Cut It Out...
And They'd Rather Avoid A Lengthy Search.
And with that, it's back to trying to fix my dead development computer.