sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

April 23, 2013

Ill-Mannered Women Seldom Make History

Filed under: feminism, politics, Soviet Union — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:34 am

I came out of my parenting funk last week to learn that Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest champions of freedom in our era, had passed away. Chihuahuas were barking mad, of course, but as Mark Steyn tells us, Lady Thatcher was the kind who’d savor the fury:

Mrs. Thatcher would have enjoyed all this. Her former speechwriter John O’Sullivan recalls how, some years after leaving office, she arrived to address a small group at an English seaside resort to be greeted by enraged lefties chanting “Thatcher Thatcher Thatcher! Fascist fascist fascist!” She turned to her aide and cooed, “Oh, doesn’t it make you feel nostalgic?” She was said to be delighted to hear that a concession stand at last year’s Trades Union Congress was doing a brisk business in “Thatcher Death Party Packs,” almost a quarter-century after her departure from office.

The finger!  The finger!

The whiniest of all chihuahuas Morrissey opposes Thatcher on animal welfare grounds or some such. He certainly aged… but the good news is that he’s still alive. Who knew?  Morrissey was one of those entertainers who were big in the West, but gained virtually no traction in the Soviet Union.  We preferred classic rock and heavy metal.

And here is another quote from the infinitely quotable late Prime Minister:

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding,” she once said, “Because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

“They” certainly lost a lot of arguments.  Steyn summed up the legacy of Lady Thatcher’s domestic policies:

Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles — although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was. She was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.

Mrs. Thatcher saved her country — and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off — as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable? [Emphasis mine, — ed.]

My grade school years coincided with Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister and Ronald Reagan’s Presidency.  The Soviet media vilified both of them ferociously, but to our family they were friends.  We had family members who were trying to leave the Soviet Union, and we appreciated the unwavering support both Thatcher and Reagan expressed for Soviet dissidents and refusniks.

Regardless of family background, my generation loved action flicks and coveted blue jeans and bootleg rock music.  But it was up to the political leaders to explain the value of freedom.  Back in the 80s, Western leaderships projected optimism and confidence.  They showed us why capitalism was successful, and why it was worth imitating.  Maggie, Ronny and rock-n-roll were the picture of the West that I grew up with.

Maggie’s opinion was valued.  My grandma, who always got her news from the Russian Services of the BBC and the Voice of America, was heartened when the BBC broadcasted the Iron Lady’s opinion of Gorbachev: he was the man she can do business with.  That was the seal of approval Eastern Europe craved.

The Iron Lady is greeted by Moscowites in 1987 at the beginning of Gorbachev’s short tenure

Here is Oleg Atbashian — who is a couple of years older than me and has a more mature recollection of that period — on listening to Maggie on shortwave radio (click on the link for a cool poster).  He tuned in for rock-n-roll and stayed for politics:

 One night — it had to be late 1982, when Margaret Thatcher was running for her first re-election — my shortwave radio caught a BBC broadcast of the Iron Lady’s campaign speech.

[…]
Listening to Thatcher speak confirmed everything the Soviet media was reporting about her, and more. In a deep, powerful voice, she accused her socialist opponents of destroying the British economy through nationalization and presented the proof of how privatizing it again was bringing the economy back to life. The free markets worked as expected, making Britain strong again. The diseased socialist welfare state had to go, to be replaced by a healthy competitive society.

To the average consumer of the Soviet state-run media, that didn’t make any sense. When exactly had Britain become a socialist welfare state? That part never passed the Soviet media filter.

[…]

The next logical question would be this: if Great Britain wasn’t yet as socialist as the Soviet Union, then didn’t it mean that whatever freedom, prosperity, and working economy it had left were directly related to having less socialism? And if less socialism meant a freer, more productive, and more prosperous nation, then wouldn’t it be beneficial to have as little socialism as possible? Or perhaps — here’s a scary thought — to just get rid of socialism altogether? [Emphasis mine, –ed.]

My readers are welcome to dispute me, but I prefer Maggie to Ronny.  For one, the Iron Lady’s task of privatization was infinitely greater than anything Ronald Reagan had to face.  For another, I’m absolutely in awe of her speaking style.  Reagan was a great orator, full of passion, insights and spontaneity.  But Thatcher, ooow, her zingers were deadly.

I think it’s instructive that while the left talks incessantly about female empowerment, the actual great female leaders are conservative.  In part it’s because feminism is a false idol.  A non-Y-chromosomed Western politician too attached to the sisterhood is limiting herself.  The work of female emancipation now entails such all-important projects like providing already cheap birth control for free.  A woman with a vision, like Margaret Thatcher, has to have greater goals in mind.  Plus, if the story of Sarah Palin teaches us anything about the women’s movement, it’s that we, women, can be nasty and envious.

Since the second wave feminists taught women that personal is political, which really means that nothing is personal.  One’s choice of occupation, of clothing, of, notoriously, coital position, belongs to the sisterhood.  Feminism is a way of life, and as far as lifestyle advise goes, this one is highly questionable.  Per feminist bumper sticker wisdom, “Well-behaved women seldom make history”.  A now middle-aged death rocker we know has that one on her car.  There are plenty of obediently ridiculous women in the feminist movement, from raging grannies in pink to slut walks.  Is it worth it?

I’m sure it’s all very convenient in short term given how young ladies have all the rationale to party, but I pity the “girls” who will not, in a matter of year or two, grow to regret their participation.  The Ukrainian group Femen is selective high-end international version of slut walks.  I have to give it to them, they know how to get their egos massaged.  Occasionally, their protests have a kind of logic to it.  If one has to remove her bra for a cause, flash islamists.  Ultimately, though, they are dead-enders (via Leslie Lofties) destined to be a footnote to history.  If they get an honorable mention in history books, students struggling to figure out the narrative will wonder if they really need to know about partially naked women who once grabbed headlines.

Margaret Thatcher will get an entire chapter. I’m not sure she was “well-behaved”, certainly not by the standards of the socialist Left, but she was a lady, and as such she commanded attention and respect.  When the Meryl Streep film came out in 2011, Margaret Thatcher’s personal style became a popular topic of discussion, which is a bit silly.  It’s the women’s movement that’s about style, and the more outrageous, the better.  Morrissey is about style.  The Iron Lady was about substance.

Iconic Maggie, cheerful on the day she was elected, 4 May 1979.  Power, optimism, substance

A side note:  Margaret Thatcher had her twins when she was 28 — early by today’s standards.  She slowly developed her career and went on to be the most powerful woman in the world.  Had she waited another ten years to start her family, she’d spent her 40s carrying for young children, not moving up the Tory political ladder.  There is a lesson there.

And, oh, look how slender this mother of twins was — because she gave birth in her 20s?

April 19, 2013

Strangers

The night before the Boston bombing me and DH finished watching Zero Dark Thirty.  In one particularly over the top scene, Maya, the agent perusing UBL, is being told by her boss to follow home-grown terror threats because Bin Ladin is now isolated.  I’m glad Bin Ladin sleeps with fishes now, but Maya’s boss was right.

I hear people are impressed by patriotism of the uncle of the alleged bombers Ruslan Tsarni, but here is what he actually said:

He starts of by asserting that neither Islam nor his brother, the bombers’ dad, are in any way responsible for the atrocity.  Then he quickly distances himself from his brother — lovely family dynamic there.  After running all sorts of of interferences, Tsarni starts talking about shame (granted, the word appears to be given to him by the media).  The idea of shame is pretty foreign to us, Americans, these days.  Do my readers know any parents who shame their children?  Tsarni’s fiery defense of his adopted country might be heart-felt, but I find the man more than a little frightening.

Suspects’ dad is another frightening character.  Tsarni told us that Anzor Tsarnaev applied for [political] asylum in the US about ten years ago (probably after 9/11).  A few years ago he went back to Russia, the country where supposedly feared for his life and safety in the 90s.  The time-frame makes me suspect that Tsarnaev waited to become naturalized and quickly went back. I worked with immigrants, and I’ve heard of plenty of scams.  But there is a world of difference between getting American citizenship, returning to Russia, starting a software company and paying taxes in the United States and Anzor Tsarnaev.

From Russia Tsarnaev appealed to his surviving son, whom he believes to be innocent:

Give up. Give up. You have a bright future ahead of you. Come home to Russia[.]

So now this refugee identifies Russia as his home.   I want to see the soap story he fed the immigration services to get his green card. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan’s mom, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, believes the brothers were set up by the FBI:

Oh, so maybe they should ask for asylum in Russia.  Cue in the aunt, a Toronto resident:

“I’m a lawyer back home. Give me evidence. I participated in court sessions, where I had to prove the guilt of others,” said Maret Tsarnaev from outside her Etobicoke apartment. “Do the same here, show me evidence, give me more than a photo. But to be convinced that my nephews committed to these atrocities, convince me. Then come back and get my reaction and ask me how I feel.”

Tsarnaeva said she believes her nephews are being set up and that the photos of the young men at the site of the Boston Marathon bombing may have been set up, though she stopped short of saying who could be framing them.

I gather Russian criminal justice system, in which auntie is an expert, is flawless.  And, mmm, how hard it is to ask for political asylum in Canada?

Meanwhile, the younger bombing suspects’ friends don’t understand how come he doesn’t fit the profile of a mental white gunman:

Steven Owens told ABC News, “I met him when I was in seventh grade and he was just a great kid. He was fun to be around. Very studious, very smart. I don’t remember a time when he was ever having trouble in school. He was a great athlete. Great to be around.”

Owens said Tsarnaev “always had a positive attitude,” but had expressed some political opinions in school.

Really?

“He always thought the war [Iraq, Afghanistan] was stupid[.]”

Another former classmate:

“He never seemed out of the ordinary at all,” high school classmate Sierra Schwartz told “Good Morning America” today. “This is not someone who seemed troubled in high school or shy. He was just one of us. It’s very weird.”

Prejudice against shy people is absolutely PC.

Meanwhile Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechen “President”, a former terrorist turned Kremlin puppet, opined:

Tragic events have taken place in Boston. As a result of the blast people were killed. Previously, we expressed out condolences to the people of the city, and the people of America. Today, as reported by the media, during his arrest attempt, a Tsarnaev was killed. It would be logical, for him to be detained and investigated, and all the circumstances and degrees of his guilt uncovered. Apparently, the special services needed a result at any cost to calm down society. Any attempts to make a connection between Chechnya and Tsarnaevs, even if they are guilty, are in vain. They grew up in the United States, their attitudes and beliefs were formed there. It is necessary to seek the roots of their evil inside America. The whole world should fight terrorism. We know this better than anyone else. We wish a recovery to all the victims and share the Americans’ sense of sorrow.

There is a bit of truth there.  How does a man manage to grow up in the United States without becoming American?  If you need root causes, that’s your root causes.  And why do we think that Chechen terrorism, which showed itself to be so deadly in Russia, will not manifest itself here?

The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was described as an outgoing person who was a champion boxer, a “decent” pianist, drove a Mercedes and liked the movie “Borat.” But in captions on an undated boxing photo album operated by photographer Johannes Hirn, Tamerlan Tsarnaev said, “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”

That sentiment appears to be mutual.

UPDATE: Turns out, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was married to an American woman whose family issued a statement.  Here is an excerpt:

We cannot begin to comprehend how this horrible tragedy occurred. In the aftermath of the Patriot’s Day horror, we know that we never really knew Tamerlane Tsarnaev. (via Legal Insurrection).

UPDARE 2: Welcome Legal Insurrection readers!

April 17, 2013

Why This Blogger Doesn’t Believe Boston Bombing Was The Work of #Occupy

Filed under: parenting, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 1:28 pm

Not that anyone is suggesting otherwise.  A certain guy from Barack Obama’s old Chicago neighborhood might have built bombs filled with shrapnel, and I’m not sure what the Anarchist Cookbook advises on this matter.  But that was baby boomer radicalism.

Bill Ayers might have been a rich brat, but the brats of his era grew up playing cowboys and Indians with gangs of friends and siblings.  Around the time of puberty they got jobs at fast food joints and bought cars. They were the risk takers.  I’m not saying they were good at making bombs; they weren’t.  They were mostly blowing up each other.

The parents of #Occupy alumni glued corner guards to coffee tables once babies started to crawl and shuttled their progeny from one activity to another in [improperly installed] car seats. Instead of mowing neighbors’ lawns future occupiers spent their adolescence on social media.  The only thing they thought of doing once college diplomas were placed into their hands is to demand cancellation of student loans.  And sure, they’d like to be dangerous, and from time to time #Occupy grads do get caught with explosives, one occupier was sentenced just a few days ago.  But that’s the thing: they get caught.

Radicals of the crawling helmet generation. Unlikely to be capable of much, including much evil

Whoever planted the bomb at Boston marathon (and like all normal people I suspect Islamists) was a deliberate sadist. The bombs were created to inflict maximum damage, and were placed at a location where relief effort would be difficult.  The Left today is incapable of such forethought.  They thought of targeting an iconic event that has little symbolic importance to the left.  The right, for that matter, is also not interested in the Boston marathon, but, nasty fantasies of progressives aside, most of the political violence in this country comes from the left.

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