Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Charles Manson’s Radical Chic



By Kevin D. Williamson
Monday, November 20, 2017

The history of the postwar period is the history of the struggle against Communism. What’s sometimes forgotten — conveniently forgotten — is that our victory in that struggle was far from assured, and that a substantial swath of the Western intelligentsia and much of its celebrity culture was on the other side. It wasn’t just Jane Fonda and Noam Chomsky, Walter Duranty and Lincoln Steffens. (“I have been to the future,” Steffens wrote after a visit to the Soviet Union, “and it works.”) Eventually, 100 million people would die under Communism as part of the longest and widest campaign of mass murder in recorded human history. As a phenomenon of specifically nuclear terror, the Cold War lasted from 1949, when the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb thanks to the help of the American leftists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, until 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down.

Precisely in the middle of that period came the strange career of Charles Milles Manson, who has just died in a California hospital at the age of 83.

Manson’s death, like his life, was wrapped up in the radical politics of the 1960s. He died of natural causes, his execution having been set aside as part of the temporarily successful progressive campaign against the death penalty in the 1970s.

Just as it is easy to forget how pro-Soviet the American Left was at times, it is easy to forget how pro-Manson American radicals were. “First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach. Wild!” That was the assessment of Bernardine Dohrn, the champagne radical who, with her husband, Bill Ayers, participated in a campaign of domestic terrorism, including bombings, and later became cozy with Barack Obama, hosting events for the aspiring politician in her home. The “pigs” she referred to included Sharon Tate, an actress who was eight months pregnant at the time. She was murdered and mutilated. The word “PIG” was scrawled on the wall in her blood, and the father of her child, filmmaker Roman Polanski (to this day still on the run for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl), posed in front of that scene for a Life magazine photographer. Dohrn would later join a very prestigious Chicago law firm, Sidley Austin, and later worked as a professor of law at Northwestern University — remarkable accomplishments for a woman without a law license. She passed the bar, and Illinois was willing to overlook her criminal conviction, but she refused to apologize for her role in the terrorist campaign that resulted in several deaths. She and her husband became legal guardians of the child of two of their colleagues, who went to prison on murder charges for their role in a homicidal armored-car robbery carried out by the May the 19th Communist Organization, a clique of New York leftists who named their organization in honor of Ho Chi Minh’s birthday.

Dohrn wasn’t the only Manson admirer of her time. Other Weathermen hoisted a “Manson Power” banner in 1969 when they issued their declaration of war on the United States, and Rolling Stone’s coverage of the man and his crimes — it dedicated a special issue to him — was at times fawning. The magazine depicted him on its cover as the thing he’d always wanted to be: a rock star. A radical newspaper named him “Man of the Year.” Jerry Rubin, the celebrated anti-war activist, said: “I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV.” That cherub face later had a swastika carved into it. “His words and courage inspired us,” Rubin said.

Manson believed he was sent to inspire an apocalyptic race war. The radicals of the period wanted a race war, too, and they sometimes got a little bit of one: There were 159 race riots in 1967. In Detroit alone, 43 people died in those riots. Lyndon Johnson was so spooked he sent in the 82nd Airborne to put a lid on it.

Riots and snipers. Assassinations. Lyndon Johnson. Dohrn and Ayers and “Days of Rage.” Rubin and his anti-Vietnam marches. Rolling Stone’s batty insistence that Charles Manson was a principled social critic. Manson’s cult-messiah shtick. It was all of a piece: The 1960s were an almost entirely joyless period. Go back and look at those Woodstock pictures: Nobody was having any fun. What you see in those pictures is the desperation of people trying to convince themselves they are having a good time. Even the music was joyless, Jimi Hendrix letting his virtuosity go to rot while plonking out a honking flatted fifth, the ugliest chord in music (“diabolus in musica,” they call it) to open “Purple Haze,” the great anthem of the era, a song about confusion. “Nowadays people don’t want you to sing good,” Hendrix wrote in a letter to his father. “They want you to sing sloppy and have a good beat to your songs. That’s what angle I’m going to shoot for. That’s where the money is. So just in case about three or four months from now you might hear a record by me which sounds terrible, don’t feel ashamed, just wait until the money rolls in because every day people are singing worse and worse on purpose and the public buys more and more records.” The Sex Pistols were right about rock ’n’ roll being a swindle.

There were exceptions, of course. As the cities burned and the war raged and the trains to Siberia were packed full of dissidents, the Beach Boys released 20/20, an album in which they attempted to recapture some of their early magic. But it was hard going: Brian Wilson, the genius behind the group, was in a psychiatric hospital at the time. The first single was “Do It Again,” a surf-y revisitation of their early sound, followed by “Bluebirds Over the Mountain,” a pop song from the 1950s recorded by, among others, Ritchie Valens.

The B-side to that single was “Never Learn Not to Love,” written by Charles Manson. He’d wormed his way into Brian Wilson’s social circle by organizing orgies for him. He wasn’t much of a songwriter, but his songs are still occasionally performed and recorded. The impeccably progressive Henry Rollins produced an album of songs performed by Manson, though it never was released. The two were pen pals for a while. Neil Young had pitched Manson’s music to Warner Bros. John Lennon, who ought to have known a cynical operator when he saw one, described Manson as a man who “took children in when nobody else would.” Not that he was a fan of publicity-stunt mass murders: “I just think a lot of the things he says are true.”

Of course they fell for it. The idealist con is one of the oldest and most lucrative hustles going. The idiot children of the 1960s talked up Charles Manson for the same reason Langston Hughes wrote paeans to Joseph Stalin, for the same reason American progressives still take the side of the Rosenbergs and still think Alger Hiss was framed. Langston Hughes wasn’t a “liberal in a hurry” — he signed a letter of support for Stalin’s purges. Noam Chomsky spent years denying the holocaust in Cambodia, insisting it was the invention of American propagandists. After Fidel Castro was done murdering and pillaging his way through Cuban history, Barack Obama could only find it in his heart to say: “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

Pass the crumpets, Bernardine.

Bernardine Dohrn recently gave a speech in Chicago in which she proposed turning the Cook County jail into a park as part of “a city — a world — without jails.” It didn’t quite have the poetry of her earlier work: “Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson.” Of what possible use could a jail be in the world imagined by such a mind?

Pigs, she called the dead woman and her dead baby. The Weathermen dig it, and what’s another skeleton or two, or another 100 million, beneath the foundations of Utopia? Lenin had a few thoughts on how to go about making an omelet.

“These children that come at you with knives — you taught them,” Manson said. “I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up.”

Men, Stop Virtue-Signaling and Return to Rules



By Ben Shapiro
Monday, November 21, 2017

‘My gender is terrible,” Politico Chief Economic Correspondent Ben White wrote earlier this week. Time Politics Editor Ryan League Beckwith tweeted, “Not tweeting tomorrow. Just retweeting women. Men: Join me.”

This is the trendy new habit on Twitter when another prominent man is outed for sexual harassment and sexual assault: Virtue-signaling men rush to the medium to repent on behalf of their sex. Men, they say, are disgusting creatures — but they know that, since they’re men. So leave them alone, ladies. They’re on your side.

All of this is galling. That’s because it ignores a fundamental fact about human life: All human beings are capable of sin. And that means that the antidote to human frailty and brutality isn’t issuing broad-based mea culpas in behalf of groups, but working to instill virtue in individuals through prophylactic rules. But the leftist rubric forbids such inculcation, because that would be culturally oppressive and judgmental.

Take a look, for example, at the reaction to the sexual-misconduct media wave. Conservatives have long proclaimed that men, left unchecked, will act like pigs with regard to women. We have recognized that men tend to see women as potential sex objects and, without social boundaries, will treat women that way.

In order to combat piggish behavior, conservatives have advocated for certain rules and a certain educational framework, built up over the course of centuries. Some of those rules include: social expectation that sex would be connected with marriage, thus cementing the connection between sexual activity and commitment; encouragement of marriage prior to sexual activity, thereby providing objective evidence for positive consent from the woman before an entire community of witnesses; carefully cultivated rules of conduct between men and women, including, in many religions, proscribed physical contact; expectation that men would protect women in chivalrous fashion.

All of these rules have fallen under heavy attack — and sometimes the attacks have been justified by the over-restrictiveness of certain rules. But the basis for the rules was simple: Men could not be universally trusted not to sin against women. Call it male control, complete with background checks, mandatory training, and a well-developed male enforcement structure.

The Left, in its refusal to acknowledge the inherent flaws in humanity, decided to do away with the rules. Instead, men were bad because men had been poisoned by the social structure, or because they were screwed up by their parents. Rules were artificial barriers to progress. In fact, it was the rules themselves that were to blame for male misbehavior. Marriage had taught men that women were property; thus, kill marriage, kill that pernicious view. Sexual taboos had taught men that women were dangerous seductresses; kill that taboo, kill that pernicious view. Chivalry had taught men that women were weak, and could therefore be exploited; kill chivalry, kill that pernicious view.

It seemed nice in theory. It has failed dramatically in practice.

It turns out that men are built with a certain capacity for sin. Tearing down fences only lets those sins break out of their confines. Male misbehavior has been championed as rogueish and delightful for decades; marriage has been mocked and derided; “prudish” notions have been rejected. Have women been freed of the male gaze? Are they safer now? Are they more comfortable in the workplace? Or, as we’re now finding out, are the wages of destroying boundaries on human behavior not freedom, but anarchy — and, for too many women, oppression by voracious men?

Apologizing for your gender won’t help. Suggesting that a bit more education will teach men not to rape won’t help, either. Only a proactive reinstitution of checks and balances in society will help. And that will require recognizing that human nature isn’t entirely malleable and that protecting women means requiring positive manhood, not wishful thinking.

Beware of Running with the Al Franken Story — Consider Where That Leads



By Douglas Murray
Monday, November 20, 2017

‘And thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.” Who could suppress at least a smirk of pleasure at the news of Senator Al Franken’s being caught up in the sexual-harassment scandals that have been breaking ever since Harvey Weinstein crashed the world? The fact that Franken’s molestation was caught on camera — that there is a picture that can accompany every single news story and Twitter meme for years to come — makes it even better. All that is now needed for instant Internet gratification is to take that photo of Franken mugging as he grabs the breasts of his sleeping co-star and stick it alongside a screen-grab of any of his earlier denunciations of poor sexual etiquette.

Because Franken is a high-handed moralizer of the Left, some Republicans and conservatives are happy to run with this, condemning Franken for it and another incident in which he attempted to kiss his co-star. There are even calls for an Ethics Committee investigation into the Minnesota senator.

Yet conservatives, like everyone else, should pause before playing this game. As with other cases in which enemies of the Right have been floored by this flood — a journalist from Vice and much of Hollywood spring to mind — we should be careful about embedding the new etiquette that such campaigns push us toward.

Of course the Left have been at it for years. We all know of people who think that rape is not rape if it is committed by a leftist, whereas even mild flirting is rape when it is committed by a conservative. We all know people who didn’t want to condemn Bill Clinton’s relationship with an intern who are now willing to talk eagerly about a “serial abuser” in the Oval Office. All of us can list plenty of examples of this. And we all know why they do it, too: because they want to win, and they are willing to seize any opportunity to get closer to that goal.

But conservatives should be careful about joining this. Every time the definition of rape, abuse, or molestation is brought down another notch and this new low-water mark is agreed on across the political spectrum, the prospect for a different type of harm increases. If we agree for short-term political pleasure that Franken is guilty of serious sexual molestation for an unfunny photograph taken years ago and for a sloppy and unwanted pass at a woman, then two things are certain to happen.

The first is that the difference between bad manners and rape will become blurred yet further. We live in an era when already a knee-touch can cause resignations. Are we sure that unwanted advances must now always be deemed a resigning matter? It was the late British Conservative MP Alan Clark who once, when taken to task for making allegedly unwanted approaches toward women, replied, “How do I know they’re unwanted until I make them?” Of course Senator Franken is a married man, and plenty of us may agree to look down on a married man who does such a thing. But are we absolutely certain that we want to make it into something that requires an ethics investigation and total career destruction?

Second, this opportunistic process risks embedding the now-prevailing narrative of third-wave feminism, which is that men are all rapists or proto-rapists and that women in our society tread a constant and violent minefield their entire lives when dealing with the male sex. This narrative — which for many young men and women is making relationships too complex to be worth having — needs to be pushed back against, not enforced. And certainly this is how new rules become enforced: by people of every imaginable background agreeing, out of different motivations, that something that few of them actually believe is in fact abhorrent is a matter for the law.

There are many reasons to be mad at Al Franken. But it doesn’t seem wise to allow irritation at him to help fuel a movement intent on making our society madder still. As he must himself by now have realized, it is rarely worth pursuing a short-term pleasure when it is likely to lead to so much long-term pain.