Lord of the Racists?

Logic Monkey pointed me to an article written last year after the Two Towers was released. Apparently, some British critics feel that Tolkein’s creation has racial undertones:

Perhaps I’d better come right out and say it. The Lord of the Rings is racist. It is soaked in the logic that race determines behaviour. Orcs are bred to be bad, they have no choice. The evil wizard Saruman even tells us that they are screwed-up elves. Elves made bad by a kind of devilish genetic modification programme. They deserve no mercy.

To cap it all, the races that Tolkien has put on the side of evil are then given a rag-bag of non-white characteristics that could have been copied straight from a BNP leaflet. Dark, slant-eyed, swarthy, broad-faced – it’s amazing he doesn’t go the whole hog and give them a natural sense of rhythm.

Maybe I’m a bit slow, but it appears that Yatt is saying that Orcs remind him of black people. That’s a connection I never would have made and I doubt most people who saw the movie drew that conclusion either. But apparently Yatt finds some sort of connection between a species who is vicious, bred to be bad, and “eaters of man flesh” and humans with dark skin.
Guess who is really showing his true colors?

“Imagine” If Conservatives Took Pop Music Seriously

Think about a political speech that was delivered in 1971. That should be an easy task. After all, it was the year of the Watergate break-in and the ratification of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. Can you recite any of the words?
What’s that? No particular oration from that year comes to mind?
What about the lyrics to John Lennon’s Imagine? How many of these can you remember? I was three years old in ’71 and have no great regard for the Beatles. Yet I can recite almost every line.
John Cole of Balloon Juice is one of my favorite bloggers. He’s smart, funny, prolific, and almost always right on the mark. But his dismissal of the Weekly Standard’s article on Lennon’s “Imagine” is misguided:

If you ever wanted to know why Democrats make a lot of headway by labeling Republicans as foolish and spiteful, check out this idiotic ‘fisking’ of a John Lennon song that appeared in the Weekly Standard. Not some third rate blog, not the local indie rag, but a so called serious magazine.

Yes, Imagine was idiotic. But so was the Macarena. Your point, Mr. Engel?

Engel’s point is that the sentiments behind the song are still presented as a viable political philosophy by a significant number of our fellow citizens. Plato understood the power of music and believed that it should be controlled by the Republic. Scottish patriot Andrew Fletcher was even more bold in his claims, “If one were permitted to make all the ballads one need not care who should make the laws of a nation.”
Imagine a world where Republicans take pop music as seriously as did the conservatives of the past. Imagine how effective we might be. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I hope I’m not the only one…
Update: Apparently, I’m not. While James from Outside the Beltway agrees with Cole’s criticism, at least he understands that pop music can be used to further a political viewpoint.
Update 2: As usual, the Elder from Fraters Libertas was one step ahead of me:

I’ve always hated the John Lennon song ‘Imagine’. My hatred stems not from its insipid lyrics, but rather how the song has become a rallying cry for those “concerned” with the state of the world. I have often wondered if these people actually ever sat down for a moment and pondered what kind of world it really would be if Lennon’s dreams came true. In high school I recall hearing the song at a memorial service. At a CATHOLIC high school. What part of “no religion” don’t you people understand?

Thanksgiving? Thank Texas — We Invented the Holiday

Forget what you learned in elementary school about the first Thanksgiving being held at Plymouth Rock. That’s just typical Yankee propaganda. The first Turkey Day was held near El Paso, Texas in 1598 — twenty-three years before the Pilgrims’ festival.
Thanksgiving is a Lone Star state invention so when you sit down to say grace, be sure to thank the good Lord for allowing you to live in a country that has Texas in it.
By the way, for those of you who lack the benefit of a Texas Public School education, there are a few other myths about Thanksgiving that you might want to check out at the History News Network.
(Hat tip: Certus Veritas)

Dividing the Spoils of the Culture War

In today’s column, Jonah Golberg confesses to a nepotistic desire to aid his conservative family:
Think about it: If we’d really won a culture war — with all of the aggrandizement of territory implied by such a term — wouldn’t our troops be raising our flags in a few more enemy forts? …. Meanwhile, I don’t see Harvard, Yale, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Hollywood, the Episcopal Church, or the Courts, getting demonstrably more conservative.
He goes on to add a detailed list of other positions he would like to see filled (I’ve trimmed it down to its essentials):
–The keys to the executive bathrooms at ABC, CBS and NBC.
–The cast of Fox and Friends to take over The Today Show’s studios.
–Ramesh Ponnuru as the editor of the New York Times.
–Rich Lowry can have his choice between Time and Newsweek.
–Matt Labash will get Esquire.
–Rick Brookhiser at Rolling Stone.
–Andrew Sullivan can have The New York Times Magazine.
–Robert Bork will be the dean of the Yale Law School.
–The faculty of Hillsdale and Harvard will simply switch places.

I love Jonah’s column but I’m beginning to recognize a demographic myopia in his perspective. Notice how all of these positions are located in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Yet the culture wars are often fought by footsoldiers in the “fly-over states.”
Notice also how Goldberg mentions “The New Yorker” and the Episcopal Church rather than Texas Monthly and the Southern Baptist Convention. He appears to have overlooked any cultural insitution that is significant in the Red States. Honestly, how many people do you know that read the New Yorker after attending Episcopal services?

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Dividing the Spoils of the Culture War

The Self-help Lessons of a Snake Handler

There have been times when I’ve heard wisdom come from the mouths of babes. Until recently, though, I’ve never heard wisdom come from the mouth of a man who just had his lips wrapped around nine rattlesnakes.

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Since I run screaming like a little girl at the sight of a garter snake, I never would have found that there are lessons to be learned from wrapping one’s mouth around reptiles. Apparently I’ve been missing out. Jackie Bibby and his crew of snake handling buddies have learned lessons that we can all learn from:
On motivation: He has performed snake stunts for TV shows and at other events where he gets paid, but this time it wasn’t for money. “I’m doing it for the prestige, the glory and the attention,” he said.
On knowing one’s limitations: “I think I could do 12 or 13, but probably no more. My mouth is only so big.”
On perspective: “There’s nothing to it,” said Bibby, who admits to being bitten six times in 34 years of snake handling.
On perspective (part II): The only difficult part is leaning forward. “I’ve got about 15 pounds of snake in my mouth, and it hurts my lower back to lean forward,” he said.
On not sweating the small stuff: Bibby was to be assisted by four fellow rattlesnake handlers. But by showtime, one of the assistants, Britt Stevens of Brownwood, was en route to the hospital for antivenin. “He’ll be OK. He’s not going to die,” said snake handler Doug Dugger of Waco. “He’s just a little accident-prone.”

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The Self-help Lessons of a Snake Handler