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Elsewhere (131)

Robert Stacy McCain on feminism’s mainstreaming of extremists: 

Any honest person who undertakes an in-depth study of modern feminism, from its inception inside the 1960s New Left to its institutionalisation within Women’s Studies departments at universities, will understand that without the influence of radicals — militant haters of capitalism and Christianity, angry lesbians who view all males as a sort of malignant disease, deranged women who can’t distinguish between political grievances and their own mental illnesses — there probably never would have been a feminist movement at all…

Once we go beyond simplistic sloganeering about “equality” and “choice” to examine feminism as political philosophy — the theoretical understanding to which Ph.Ds devote their academic careers — we discover a worldview in which men and women are assumed to be implacable antagonists, where males are oppressors and women are their victims, and where heterosexuality is specifically condemned as the means by which this male-dominated system operates.

As noted previously, when it comes to identity politics, the boundaries between mainstream and delusional aren’t as clear as one might wish

And Thomas Sowell on cultural inequalities: 

While cultural leadership has changed hands many times, that leadership has been real at given times, and much of what was achieved in the process has contributed enormously to our well-being and opportunities today. Cultural competition is not a zero-sum game. It is what advances the human race. Cultures are living, changing ways of doing all the things that have to be done in life. Every culture discards over time the things which no longer do the job or which don’t do the job as well as things borrowed from other cultures… Spanish as spoken in Spain includes words taken from Arabic, and Spanish as spoken in Argentina has Italian words taken from the large Italian immigrant population there. People eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in Singapore and stay in Hilton hotels in Cairo.

This is not what some of the advocates of “diversity” have in mind. They seem to want to preserve cultures in their purity, almost like butterflies preserved in amber. Decisions about change, if any, seem to be regarded as collective decisions, political decisions. But that is not how any cultures have arrived where they are… No culture has grown great in isolation -- but a number of cultures have made historic and even astonishing advances when their isolation was ended, usually by events beyond their control.

At which point readers may recall the Guardian’s Emer O’Toole, a “postcolonial theorist” and assistant professor of Irish Performance Studies, for whom all cultures past and present are equally vibrant and noble, except of course the culture in which she currently flourishes, on which opprobrium must be heaped ostentatiously and often. Ms O’Toole famously bemoaned the colonial propagation of Shakespeare, whose works she denounced as “full of classism, sexism, racism and defunct social mores.” And worse, “a powerful tool of empire, transported to foreign climes along with the doctrine of European cultural superiority.” The possibility that at any given time one set of values and insights might be preferable to another, even objectively better, bothers her quite a bit.

Her article was accompanied by a photograph of New Zealand’s Ngakau Toa theatre company performing Troilus and Cressida in a distinctively Maori style. To me, it looked fun and worth the price of a ticket. But this cross-cultural fusion saddened Ms O’Toole, who dismissed notions of the Bard’s universality as “uncomfortably colonial.” She then presumed to take umbrage on behalf of all past colonial subjects, whose own views on Shakespeare and literature she chose not to relate. She did, however, get quite upset about “our sense of cultural superiority” – a sense of superiority that, she insisted, has long been “disavowed by all but the crazies.”

It may be a tad indelicate, even improper, but I can’t help wondering how Ms O’Toole might have felt had she been among the 19th century English colonists who encountered a Maori culture that was all but prehistoric, with no discernable literature or science, in which the average lifespan was about thirty years or so, and where cannibalism was not unknown. Faced with such things, I’m sure Ms O’Toole would have resisted the wicked urge to think herself a little more culturally advanced.

When not romanticising the cultural purity of others from a safe distance, Ms O’Toole prides herself on denouncing those more primitive than herself – say, women who choose to shave their armpits. In Ms O’Toole’s moral universe, cultivating armpit hair is “the necessary and important work of challenging stupid, arbitrary, gendered bullshit.” And our right-thinking Guardianista tells us, several times, that her boyfriends have thought her “brave” for daring not to shave.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.