The Logic of “Equality”

participation-medal

To achieve equality of outcome among all people (as opposed to equal opportunity) the government must keep us from failing.

To keep us from failing requires preventing us from making bad choices.

To keep us from making bad choices requires eliminating choice.

This is the inescapable logic of egalitarianism and the reason why all socialist projects end in totalitarianism and oppression.

 

. . . On Donald Trump

Photo Credit: Kenny Bob

Photo Credit: Kenny Bob

I’ve been itching to share a few thoughts about the Trump candidacy and today I finally find myself with an opportunity to scratch.

Trump has been atop the Republican polls and surveys for weeks now, despite the best efforts of the other candidates and Fox News* to erode his support.

Four things to keep in mind here:

  1. Polls at this point are almost completely about name recognition. Hillary and Trump are by far the most well known names for their respective parties so they poll the highest. It’s as simple as that. In fact, Trump is more than well known. He’s a bonafide Celebrity. And we live in a celebrity-worshipping culture. At this point in the election cycle eight years ago, Rudy Giuliani had a big lead over all the other Rs in the polls. Why? Name ID.
  2. The liberal media is conflicted about Trump. In one sense they hate him in the same way they hate all Republicans and conservatives. But they’re obsessed with celebrities and can’t resist providing maximum coverage of every utterance and appearance. As a result, Trump gets more mentions and and more minutes of coverage than the other 157 Republican candidates combined.
  3. Trump is a New York Republican—not a “fly-over country” Republican. Republicans in New York state sit frequently to the left of Democrats in Texas-Oklahoma on the ideological spectrum. They are typically pro-abortion, agnostic on gay marriage, and often quite comfortable with big government and nanny-statism. (See: Bloomberg, Michael) Trump fits comfortably in this mold. He’s even on record as viewing single-payer health care (a.k.a. socialized medicine) favorably. When asked about it in a recent debate, he pointed to Canada and Scotland to defend his views, saying that Single Payer “works incredibly well” in those countries. (Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.)
  4. Trump has tapped into a deep, powerful current of frustration among regular Americans about illegal immigration. All of Trump’s traction flows from his tough, unapologetic, unvarnished, refreshingly un-PC and quite accurate proclamations about how illegal immigration is killing our country. Huge segments of the tax-paying population have been desperate for a politician with the huevos to speak the unvarnished truth about this slow-motion invasion. It’s not surprising that he’s energizing a lot of people. And as long as he gets to focus solely on that one issue, he will continue to do so. It’s when he has to talk about something else, as with that debate question about health care, that Trump becomes vulnerable.

If you’re a single-issue voter and illegal immigration is that issue, then Donald Trump may very well be your guy. And I get it. Immigration may be the most important issue there is right now, it terms of the survival of our civilization.

But if you also care about a lot of the other ways the Obama presidency has weakened our nation—for example “the weaponization of the federal bureaucracy” which I wrote about in this blog post— you can probably do better than Trump among the large and largely impressive current group of Republican contenders. (I’ll share some thoughts about who I like in a later post.)

The “Big Money” Rs Want Open Borders

The divide over the illegal immigration issue doesn’t break down cleanly between Republicans and Democrats or conservatives and liberals. The fact is, a lot of “country club” Republicans are pro-illegal immigration because it drives down labor prices for  corporations.

And there are some Democrats who haven’t imbibed the multi-culti Kool-Aid so deeply that they’re blind to the fact that open borders and lax enforcement are crushing the working poor. Some labor unions also seem to be aware that importing 50 million individuals willing to work for a lot less and to accept a much lower standard of living isn’t exactly conducive to keeping wages up.

On the traditionally Republican side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal are both long-time champions of open borders and minimalist enforcement.

Here’s the conundrum for the current crop of Republican contenders . . .

Most of the fat-cat Republican donors are of this WSJ-U.S. Chamber variety—that is, they they stand to be further enriched by lots of importation of cheap labor.

In a field of candidates this large, it’s going to take money to break out of the pack. But any candidate that takes a hard line on illegal immigration isn’t going to attract that money. But that doesn’t matter if you happen to be a celebrity billionaire.

It seems only someone as rich as Donald Trump can afford to be vocal about these things because he doesn’t need their money.

If some other candidate does manage to break out, my hope is that he or she is paying attention to the energy Trump is generating around the illegal immigration issue. Even more, I hope he or she truly recognizes it for civilizational threat that it is and has the courage to stand against the powerful, greed-driven interests that care nothing for our culture or civilization.

 

 

* I’m ordinarily a fan and defender of Fox News but the reason the network is anti-Trump is that it is pro-immigration. You’ll almost never hear an anti-illegal immigration voice on FNC other than the occasional Ann Coulter sighting.

The One Key to Understanding Mr. Obama’s Sellout to Iran

Ramirez Iran

Here is the key to understanding recent U.S. policy in the Middle East in general; and the twisted logic behind Mr. Obama’s complete surrender on the recent “deal” over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. An agreement in which Iran got everything it wanted in terms of removal of sanctions and gave away nothing it didn’t want to give. “Such a deal,” as Jewish New Yorkers say.

It’s the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the seemingly indecipherable.

It’s vital to understand one thing. The primary driver of events, tensions and bloodshed in the Middle East is not, as most people believe, the existence of Israel or the situation of the Palestinians. Not even close. It is this . . .

The Middle East is a chess board with Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia as the opposing players. They are playing for strategic dominance in the region and, more importantly, the dominance of their preferred brands of Islam. Both have friendly allies, and surrogates or insurgencies in place everywhere.

Until the wildcard ISIS emerged in Iraq and Syria, the war in Syria is essentially a proxy war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi.

In the decades since the Iranian hostage crisis in the late ’70s (watch the movie Argo for some liberal-biased context, young people), the United States has tilted toward Saudi Arabia as the least unsavory option among a a number of ugly choices for allies in that region other than Israel.

Some U.S. administrations have tilted farther than others.

Ahem . . .

Ahem . . .

Enter President Obama. From day one he has clearly been bent on moving U.S. favor away from the Saudis and toward the Iranians. So much so that he is happily risking a nuclear arms race in the insane, volatile Middle East just to strengthen Iran economically through the lifting of sanctions. This “deal” is only a fig leaf for getting international sanctions removed.

The more interesting question is “Why?”

My guess is that Mr. Obama—as a bleeding heart, anti-colonialist liberal (see: Dreams from My Father)—has a soft spot for the Shiites, who have historically been the persecuted underdogs and the out-group in the Muslim world. This affinity for the Shia has been flagrantly on display in U.S. policy toward Egypt.

The Obama administration was robustly cheerleading when the notorious Muslim Brotherhood (Shiite) took control of Egypt at the ballot box in 2012 via the election of Mohamed Morsi. Shortly thereafter the churches of Egypt began burning, the Christians started dying, and the Obama Administration started being fresh out of craps to give.

When Egypt’s secular generals saw the country sliding rapidly into an Iranian-style fascist theocracy, they quickly stepped in, threw Morsi out, and took control. The churches stopped burning. The Christians stopped dying. And Team Obama was furious.

Ever since the “coup”  kicked out Morsi, Team Obama has treated Egypt worse than it treats Israel, and that’s obviously saying something. They’ve held up aid and delivery of military hardware. And they’ve sharply criticized the Egyptian government for cracking down on Brotherhood extremists.

So there you have it. It is beyond clear that Obama is rooting for the Shiites agains the Sunnis, which translates into helping the principal promoter and supporter of Shiism in the world—Iran.

Which is how you get here . . .Ramirez Iran 2

 

 

 

 

Why Saying, “God won’t give you more than you can bear” Is Pretty Much The Worst Comfort Advice Ever

Job and Friends

Job and Comforters

A few days ago I posted a quick, scold-y note on Facebook after reading this heart-felt and transparent piece by ESPN writer/host Jason Wilde.

In it, Wilde opens up about battling darkness and depression after he and his wife lost a baby about halfway through the pregnancy. In it, without anger or bitterness, he mentions how profoundly unhelpful it was to have well-meaning Christians (he is not one) come up to him and try to help by saying things like, “God only gives you as much as you can handle.”

On Facebook, I linked to his essay and wrote:

Fellow Christians of planet earth: Stop trying to comfort the grieving by saying “God only gives you as much as you can handle.” It’s crappy theology. And it’s not comforting. Stop. It.

I meant that. And here’s why.

The advice (falsely) positions God  as the great cosmic dispenser of misery and suffering. What’s worse, it depicts Him as carefully monitoring just how much misery and suffering we each can handle without completely collapsing under the weight, to keep Himself from over-doing it.

It encourages us to imagine Him viewing our misery capacity as some sort of dashed line at the top of a measuring cup. Should our capacity to handle heartache increase a bit . . . well, then God is surely there with an eyedropper of pain ready to add more until we’re topped off, but never to the point that it rises above the line.

Prometheus, Handling Suffering

Prometheus, Handling Suffering

It’s hard to count how many ways this is wrong. But let me hit a few of the highlights.

1. It misidentifies the source of evil and suffering.

We live in a fallen creation filled with fallen humans operating with the gift/power of free will. The flooded home; the miscarried pregnancy; the child lost to the drunk driver, the housewife with the swollen black eye, the stolen iPhone, and the irritable bowel  . . . all of these and an endless list of other heartaches and headaches are a result of either the one (broken creation) or the other (broken people). And of course there’s God’s raging enemy, Satan, who is actively at work in and through both.

2. God is all about healing pain, not causing it. Restoring, not destroying.

Jesus told us that if we’ve seen Him we’ve seen the Father. (Jn. 14:9) He said that He only did the things He saw the Father doing. (Jn 5:19) Thus, it’s revealing that Jesus broke up every funeral he ever came across. Healed every person who requested it. Wherever he encountered human suffering, He relieved it.

He said the thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy. But that He had come to provide abundant life. (Jn. 10:10)

 3. It distorts the concept of God’s sovereignty.

The sad young man from ESPN really believes God took the life of his baby. And every would-be comforter who offered up, “This was part of God’s plan,” or “He won’t give you more than you can handle,” seems to agree. “God did this to you,” they’re affirming. “But cheer up. It’s all for the best!”

One of the most common and disastrous theological concepts loose in the world is the child’s cartoon view of God’s sovereignty that suggests that God is getting exactly what He wants every second of every day in every place on planet Earth. Dear friend, He isn’t.

I wish I could link to a 4-part series of blog posts I did several years ago titled, “Tragedy: The Mother of All Bad Theology” because I addressed this topic in quite a bit of detail there. (Alas, it was lost, along with seven full years of blogging output, in a web site corruption.)

I call this a cartoon view of God’s sovereignty because it’s the way God is depicted in cartoons, Hollywood movies and sitcoms. That He is exercising direct causative or allow-ative control of everything, and can therefore justifiably be blamed for everything.

God gets blamed for a ton of horrific stuff He didn’t do. As some have heard me say on numerous occasions, Romans 8:28 does not say, “God causes all things.” It says God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called . . .”

That’s a very different proposition.

A lost, hurting, dying world is understandably reluctant to run to a God whom they believe to be the author of their deepest pain. But that’s simply not an accurate picture of who He is or why they’ve been hurt.

He is good. And He has gone to extraordinary lengths, at unspeakable personal cost, to meet us at the point of our suffering and offer healing and hope.

jesus on the cross

 

Perhaps the next time an unbeliever has his or her heart shattered by loss, a more comforting  (and more theologically sound) response might be:

“I’m so sorry that happened. How painful that must be. Let me walk through this with you. And please know that you can take that pain to a God who loves you. Because He’s not your problem. He’s your only hope for healing.”

On the Manifold Joys And Occasional Anguish of Being a Father

Dad Hands

About twenty years ago I saw a fascinating item in the magazine Scientific American.

It was a little blurb about a detailed study of the facial features of infants. According to the study, most babies go through a phase of looking like their fathers early in their development. This is the case even if they grow up to look nothing like their fathers, but rather become, say, the spitting image of their mothers.

Of course the researchers viewed this as a trick of evolution. The thought was that nature was giving a father extra assurance that the child is “his” early in the life of his offspring—to increase the chances that he will choose to take an active role in the protection and nurture of the child.

fatherlessYou don’t have to be a scientist to grasp the truth that children tend do a lot better in life with a Dad in the picture. (The studies showing the disastrous effects of fatherlessness in our culture are legion.) But what the scientists viewed as a clever artifact of evolution, seems to me to be evidence of design by a wise, benevolent Creator.

In other words, God created parenting to be a team sport—a team comprised of one man and one woman. You see, (spoiler alert), men and women are different, and are hard-wired to play different roles in the child-rearing process. We bring different strengths and skill sets to the table.

I once heard Pastor Robert Morris put it this way: A mother’s role is to nurture kids. A father’s role is to call them to their destinies. When a child scrapes her knee, Mom might say, “Oh sweetie, so sorry. Let’s get that cleaned up and bandaged.” Dad, on the other hand, says, “Aw, it’s a long way from your heart. You’re going to be okay. Get back out there and play.” (Football pat on the bottom optional.)

Both are good. Both are right. Both are necessary.

Other studies have observed that the way fathers tend to play with their kids differs markedly from play initiated by their mothers. It is the three-year-old’s father who is likely to be down on all fours pretending to be a bear; saying, “Rarrr, I’m going to eat you up!”; with the child at once laughing and screaming in giddy fear.

Both good. Right. Necessary.

However, psychologists are increasingly convinced that the rough, scary, father-kind of play serves a vital role in the development of children into future adults who can handle the stresses and pressures of life.

You’ve probably seen this graphical meme on Facebook:

child toss

This makes us laugh because it rings true to our experience as parents. Which brings me back to that study about fathers connecting to their infant children’s faces . . .

The Father-Heart Moment

It has been my privilege and responsibility in life to raise three daughters. With one married and all in their twenties, that blessed task is almost finished. On countless occasions I have said the words, “I love being a father to daughters.” And I have.

And early on with each one of my girls there was a . . . moment . . .

She is maybe five or six months old, which means she has stopped looking like a tiny alien, as all newborns do (let’s be honest), and now looks like a beautiful miniature human. She’s alert and responsive to you. She interacts. Best of all, you’ve figured out how to make her laugh.

Oh, how you love to make her laugh. (It’s like crack cocaine, that bubbling, baby belly laugh.)

So one day you’re hovering over the helpless little thing. And she’s looking at you. She makes a certain face. And suddenly you see yourself to a degree you’ve never perceived before. And maybe you also see your mother; or your brother; or that ancient, sepia-toned picture of your grandfather when he was a baby.

Then, without warning, your heart stops. Then it melts in your chest.

And in that moment you know that you must not ever let anything bad happen to her. That you would crawl naked across broken glass every day to provide for her. And that from this day forward it is your God-given mission to steward this wriggling, giggling lump of raw potential and help her become the best possible version of who He created her to be.

So you embrace that mission as if lives depended on it (and you know that, in fact, they do.) But soon three sobering realities confront you.

The first is that this world is a horribly twisted, fallen place. Depravity and violence seem to ooze from every crack in the crumbling edifice of our culture. This is the world you need to prepare her for. God in heaven, how is that even possible?

Secondly, you know all-too-painfully well how flawed and broken you are as a human being. You’re intimately acquainted with your every character flaw. With how very many mistakes and poor choices you’ve made up to that point in your life—and how many more you’re certain to make going forward. But now it’s not just your sorry rear on the line. Lord, she’s counting on me so I’m counting on you!

Thirdly, and this is the most startling revelation . . . you discover that she is broken too. That she was born neither a perfect angel nor a proverbial “blank slate” awaiting your brilliant writing. That she came out of the womb just as fallen and in need of divine redemption and restoration as you and every other son and daughter of Adam—only cuter. Dear Jesus, help me point her to you.

So in the face of these three bracing headwinds, you take a deep breath, lean in, and do the best you can.

3 girls

 

Oh, and you do all of this times three when God blesses you thricely. That’s when you discover that all three are utterly different in personality, temperament, gifting and heavenly calling. And therefore each needs different things from you. Each responds best to a different style of training, correction and love.

So you and your wife pray.

You pray to love them well; and discipline them wisely. You pray you’re striking the right balance between firm and soft—rigid and flexible.

You pray to know what’s a big deal and what’s a triviality you can let slide. When to say “yes” and be the hero; or say “no” and be the villain. When to embarrass them, and when to be cool.

Photobombing Dad

And most important of all . . . when to photo-bomb them.

You don’t always get it right.

But you pray for grace, And God supplies it.

You pray that His mercies will cover your mistakes. And you find those mercies new every morning.

Discovering What is Next

Those three are wonderful young adults now. As a living testament to the above-mentioned grace and mercy, they’ve avoided hard prison time and are productive, Jesus-loving members of society. The world is a better place because they’re in it.

Frankly, they’ve made it easy to be their father. They’ve made their mother and me look better and wiser than we really are. (I know many really great Christian couples who, for whatever reasons, have walked through much more arduous, heart-breaking parenting journeys than we ever faced.)

As I said, although I will always be a father, my season of father-ing is gradually coming to an end in a way. It seems a season of mentoring is ahead. God has already put several young men in my life who inexplicably want to know what I know about life and living. (Mentoring boys is an interesting counterpoint to 25 years of living in girl-world.)

Satisfied

Here on Father’s Day 2015, one thing is absolutely clear and true in my heart.

It’s said that every man’s greatest need is for honor. That respect is like oxygen to us. That the deepest thirst of the manly soul is for the clear water of admiration—particularly from his wife and children.

These blessings I have enjoyed in embarrassing abundance. Those three girls have always and only offered me these most precious of gifts—their honor, respect and admiration.

Move over George Bailey. It is me, David A. Holland, who is the richest man in town.

Us

 

 

 

On “A Confident Expectancy of Grace”

Comments Off on On “A Confident Expectancy of Grace”
Loch Fyne, Scotland (c) David A. Holland

Loch Fyne, Scotland
(c) David A. Holland

Yes it is blessed when a waiting soul and a waiting God meet each other. And if His waiting be nothing but goodness and graciousness, let ours be nothing but a rejoicing in that goodness, and a confident expectancy of that grace.—Andrew Murray

One Final Mad Men Peeve

meditation

Before I just let it go and move on, I thought I’d point out one additional annoying, yea, even galling aspect of the way the writers of Mad Men chose to rescue Don Draper from his eight-year-long free-fall of drink, deception, and debauchery.  That is, to have him stagger into a touchy-feely retreat center built around a blend of Eastern mysticism and hippie humanism.

Here’s why that cheeses me off.

As I mentioned in the previous dissertation post, the overarching premise of the entire Mad Men series is that women were treated horribly by Neanderthal men in the years before the feminist movement. But here’s the thing.

The cultures built wholly on Eastern Mysticism—Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist religion—are some of the worst places on Earth to be a woman.

India, for example, is the headwaters of the river of hippie New Age gobbledy-goop that started flowing into our culture like the nasty Ganges in the late ’60s. Thanks Beatles.

Maharishi Beatles

Look at John—hanging on every word of the Maharishi. George has already chugged the Kool-Aid. Paul knows it’s B.S. but he’s here for the weed. Ringo wishes he was somewhere else. Anywhere else.

I currently work with or support about a half-dozen ministries that are working in India—striving mightily to make it a little less of a hellish place to be a female. Same goes for Nepal and Tibet. And China? . . .

Can you point to a single solitary woman in China with any meaningful power or authority? In government or business? Just one?

Women in DangerThe only places on the planet in which it is worse for women than societies built upon Eastern mysticism are Islamic cultures. The animistic societies of Africa aren’t a picnic for females either.

In fact, across the globe, life is best for women where Christianity has had the largest impact on the culture. The least Christian places are the most oppressive for girls and women.

The clear and indisputable testimony of History is that wherever the Gospel of Jesus Christ has taken root and become a pervasive influence in the creation of the culture, the lot of women has radically improved. In societies built upon Christian presuppositions—such as those in Europe, North America, and Latin America—women enjoy the most equality and highest status. This is the case even when the vast majority of the population has reverted to paganism (Hi there, Europe!)

This is no accident or coincidence.

One of the many effects of the radical, transformative revolution Jesus unleashed; and that has been spreading from East to West across the planet; is the elevation of women to a place of equality with men. And it does so without destroying the God-given distinctives and differences between the sexes.

As I mentioned, in any given month I do work for about a half-dozen organizations that are working to ameliorate a little of the suffering experienced by women and girls in India and the Far East. The needs are overwhelming precisely because Eastern religions spawn cultures that view women as livestock.

Which brings us back to the Mad Men finale . . . This is what makes free-falling Don Draper’s rescue in the arms of Eastern mysticism so . . . well, maddening.

As I noted in my previous post, the series was essentially about the oppression of women. Clearly, the writers, like most post-Christian Americans, have no understanding that if America were built upon the presuppositions of Eastern mysticism rather than those of Christianity, the country would be just another third-world hell-hole for women and girls.

In one of the final few episodes of Mad Men, an angry, unpleasant character shouts at Don that he needs to turn to Jesus.

Of course, that was actually good advice. In fact, it’s good advice for any society that cares about the rights and well-being of women and girls.

Jesus, Mary & Martha

Jesus, Mary & Martha

 

Bad Men: The End of Mad Men

mad-men-2

The series Mad Men ended the other night after a celebrated eight-year, seven-season run. The show was consistently brilliant in many respects. Amazingly executed, written and performed. But I was a little slow on the uptake where the series  was concerned—in more ways than one.

For one thing, I didn’t start watching until midway through the second season. I was hearing lots of buzz so I checked it out, and was immediately drawn in on two fronts. The first was the show’s meticulous . . . make that maniacal . . . recreation of the early ’60s in every detail. I was born in 1959, so my earliest memories are of that era.

Long-time readers will know that I have a soft spot for Mid-Century ephemera and design. (A glance at all the headers from my old blog will confirm this.) (As will the vintage 1964 Omega Seamaster watch I’m wearing as I type these words.)

So at first I enjoyed watching just to bathe in details of each set. For me, and many other loyal viewers, nostalgia was a big attraction. Behold . . . Mid-Century Modern awesomness . . .

Mad Men Reception Area

I want to go to there.

The second attraction for me was the window the show offered into the inner workings of a NYC ad agency. As a child, my favorite episodes of Bewitched were the ones that showed Darren Stevens in his role as an ad man at the firm of McMann & Tate. Anytime an episode featured Darren working on a new campaign or trying to come up with a new slogan, I was fascinated.

In fact, I recall thinking that Darren Stevens’ job was precisely what I wanted to do when I grew up. And in a strange way, that’s what happened.

It was only after watching Mad Men for a few seasons and then going back to watch the series from the very first episode that the worldview and agenda of the show—created and guided by Michael Weiner—became abundantly clear to me. (As I mentioned, I was a little slow to catch on.)

A simplified summation of the show’s theme and message is this:

“Men are pigs.”

Or to be more precise, “Straight, white men are pigs—at least they all were back in the day . . . before the noble cultural revolutions of the ’60 overturned the oppressive order and put us on the path to cultural enlightenment.”

That’s the pervasive, overarching, unfolding narrative of Mad Men. And all one really has to do to see this is the case is merely watch the very first and last episodes of the series back to back.

The pilot is set in in March of 1960. The events of the final episode occur in November of 1970. They bookend a decade of extraordinary cultural, moral and technological change.

Drinking DonIn the pilot episode, Don Draper is introduced to us as a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, philandering, anti-Semitic, arrogant cad.

Roger Sterling: Hey have we hired any Jews here?

Don Draper: Not on my watch.

But we soon discover Don is actually one of the more sympathetic men in Weiner’s caricature world. Indeed, every other male we encounter in this fictional universe (with two significant exceptions) are the most horrible and horrifying human beings you’ve ever observed.

Every single scene of the first episode is a freak show of misogyny, racism, entitlement, crudity, rude-ity, and  cringe-inducing frat-boy boorishness.

Every woman in the pilot is always and only running a harrowing gauntlet of sexual harassment punctuated by insulting condescension. Some, like the va-va-voomy head secretary Joan, have learned to enjoy the attention. But most just try to put on a brave face and periodically retreat to the bathroom to sob.

Mad Men ElevatorI mentioned there were two exceptions to the “men are monsters” theme of the first episode (and indeed the entire series.) They were the closeted, repressed homosexual art director, Salvatore; and the frustrated novelist copywriter, Paul—a marxist intellectual (who in the first few episodes seems to be the only white person on earth who can actually see the black elevator operator.)

Other than these, there are no male characters with even a shred of decency—much less nobility. None. It’s bad husbands, bad fathers and bad bosses as far as the eye can see.

In other words, Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men was viciously, relentlessly anti-male.

Validating Liberal Mythology: Redeeming the Sick ’60s

hippiesConservatives tend to believe that our nation lost it’s way in the 1960s. That the drug culture; the sexual revolution; the rejection of traditional sex roles; the abandonment of marriage and family as the organizing paradigm of society; and the embrace of Marxist-Socialist premises about how the world works economically; set our nation on a disastrous course.

One from which we’ve never recovered.

Liberals like to believe the opposite–but point almost exclusively to the Civil Rights Movement to make their case. The argument over the 60s usually goes something like this:

Conservative: “Fatherless-ness in this country is a heartbreaking tragedy—creating widespread poverty, crime and imprisonment rates. Back in the 50s most kids got to grow up on a two-parent family and our society was much better for it.”

Liberal: “Oh, so you want to go back to the ‘good old days’ of separate water fountains for blacks and whites, eh, Hitler? You probably have a Klan hood hidden in your sock drawer.”

Conservative: “Um, no. It’s just that a lot of the key supports under-girding our civilization were deliberately knocked out in the 60s.”

Liberal: “You mean like the Jim Crow laws? Why do you hate black people?”

Conservative: “That’s not at all what I’m . . . oh, nevermind.”

It’s true that conservatives were largely wrong about the civil rights movement, mainly because they couldn’t find a way to separate it from the larger cultural battle taking place over traditional values; or from the Cold War paradigm (the threat of the Soviet driven spread of global Marxist-socialism) that permeated every other aspect of life in the ’60s.

In other words, the civil rights movement was presented to most Americans as only one element in a Protestlarger bundle of societal changes being relentlessly pushed by Progressives. That bundle included rejection of capitalism in favor of Marxist redistribution of wealth and the rejection of the notion of private property.

It is no coincidence that Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his “War on Poverty” legislation were presented  simultaneously and as two halves of a whole.

The former was noble and necessary. The latter was arguably the worst thing to happen to black people since the first Portuguese slave ships showed up off the west coast of Africa.

In retrospect, conservatives were wrong to oppose the first and absolutely correct in opposing the second. Unfortunately, the two were inseparable.

If you read conservative essays from the ’60s you’ll find lots of hand-wringing about whether or not civil rights leaders were being influenced or financed by Soviet front groups. These fears may seem comical now, but the concerns were very real at the time. And, as we learned after the collapse of the Soviet Union made lots of Kremlin records available to researchers—the Soviets were indeed actively encouraging, not to mention financing, a lot of Progressive groups and campus rabble rousers—and had been for decades.

Many of these ended up running the country in the ’90s and beyond . . .

God help us.

God help us.

So the dispassionate verdict of history is that conservatives were wrong about the Civil Rights Movement and right about everything else. But liberals don’t like that verdict. So, on to . . .

Validating Liberal Mythology: Redeeming the Dreadful ’60s

mad-men-header

In response, Matthew Weiner seems to have written Mad Men as an attempt to redeem the cultural upheavals of late ’60s by painting the world of the early ’60s in the darkest possible shades.

  • He refutes critiques of the sexual revolution by depicting virtually every person in the Mad Men world as being sexually amoral and in constant violation of their marriage vows.
  • He negates condemnation of the drug culture by making every character a high-functioning alcoholic and chain smoker.
  • He attacks negative perceptions of the feminist movement, as I mentioned above, by creating a world in which every straight white man is insulting, selfish, abusive, harassing, and belittling to women.

In other words, it’s the typical Progressive argument. That is, the ’60s didn’t really represent a change in behaviors. It just made all the depravity less hypocritical by moving it out in the open.

By Eastern New Age Group Therapy Are Ye Saved

Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

I’m crushing this meditating thing.

The most disappointing (but given everything I’ve already cited, not all that surprising) aspect of the way the series ended (spoiler alert) is having Don Draper—hitting rock bottom— find peace and enlightenment at a New Age-y group therapy retreat camp on the California coast.

Observers have noted that the place Don lands is surely modeled on a place called the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. The place was ground zero for something in the sixties called the “Human Potential Movement.”

In the final episode Don stumbles into the place and ends up in a series of group therapy sessions in which the participants are incessantly asked about their feelings. “How does that make you feel?” has become a jokey cliche associated with quack psychiatry, but in these groups this is taken to absurd levels.

How does my shirt make you feel?

“Carl, how does that make you feel?”

“And John, how do you feel about how that makes him feel?”

And so on.

That’s right. Mad Men ends with America’s most iconic selfish rogue being transformed into a touchy-feely new age sensitive guy through the power of meditation, hugging and hippie love.

Ask my wife . . . As this became clear the first time I viewed the finale, I started yelling at the television:

“Are you serious?! You’ve got to be kidding me!”

I haven’t been as let down by a series finale since LOST wrapped up.

But there was one aspect of the transformations that occurred in the sixties that Weiner & Co. couldn’t conceal—not and still remain true to their fanatical devotion to recreating the period’s look and feel. I’m talking about how hideously ugly everything got as the decade of the sixties progressed.

Plaid Men

Plaid MenWhat this series makes massively clear is that in one short decade this culture lost its collective mind where design and aesthetics are concerned. Everything—architecture, clothing, art, typography—went to hell.

We started with the clean, classy Mid-Century furnishings that are so prized today. Here’s Roger Sterling’s office in 1960:

Roger's Office 1960

Roger’s Office 1960

Here’s Roger’s office nine years later . . .

Roger's Office 1969


This is now the enhanced interrogation suite at Guantanamo.

In which space would you rather spend your days?

Those two pictures pretty much tell you everything you need to know about the the sixties—the decade the wheels came off.