Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The EUnuchs Are At It Again



There’ll be no more “Misters” in Europe. No more “Madames” or “Mademoiselles,” “Fraus” or “Frauleins,” “Senoras” or “Senoritas” either. The European Union issued a booklet for EU Parliamentary Staff instructing them to eliminate all “gender-specific” terms from its literature. According to Lifesitenews.com: “. . . terms, such as ‘statesman,’ are to be replaced with gender-free alternatives, such as ‘political leader.’”

The article didn’t say if this resulted from a vote in the EU Parliament, but if that’s what Europeans want, fine. As long as the United States is a sovereign nation and isn’t controlled by liberal EUnuchs or the United Nations, they can do whatever they want over there.

Feminists are a strong force in the UN and many of their proposals are bizarre. At several UN Conferences on women, they suggest eliminating all references to gender in humans. They think gender a social construct with no biological basis. They would eliminate men’s rooms and ladies’ rooms and replace them with unisex rest rooms. Others would force public buildings to add a “transgendered” restroom because persons whose “gender” changes from day to day would feel uncomfortable in a men’s room or ladies’ room. I don’t care whether they feel comfortable or uncomfortable, and I certainly don’t want my tax money being used to construct special bathrooms for them, but let the EUnuchs do whatever they want with their own money.

Other feminists disagree with the unisex approach. Instead, they would expand the number of sexes from two to five. Anne Falso-Sterling wrote an article entitled "The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough." She (and she’s not alone) thinks the five are: male, female, homosexual male, homosexual female, and bisexual.

The United Nations takes this stuff seriously. I’d be happier if my country resigned from the UN and evicted them from New York City. Let them to go Europe where they can build as many bathrooms as they like.

Some of this stuff is happening here too. The New Hampshire legislature votes this week on HB-415, which would allow “transgender” people to use whatever bathroom they choose on a given day, depending on how they feel. You don’t like that? Then you’re the problem, not the cross-dresser. Etransgender.com claims: “Employers facing the restroom issue for the first time are legally inclined to apply the ‘Principle of Least Astonishment,’ which is that a person who presents as a woman will be less astonishing using the women's restroom than the men's, vice versa for a person presenting as a man. If a concern arises, from the corporate legal department or another employee, the employer must provide alternative solutions for the employee complaining - NOT the transgender individual.”

You’re astonished by the drag queen next to you? You’re homophobic and you need Sensitivity Classes.

Feminists see men like me as members of the Evil Patriarchy that oppresses women everywhere. They don’t like the Catholic Church either because it teaches that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” and it insists that only men can be priests. If women want to become priests, they can join the Episcopal Church, where they can be openly homosexual too, and even be promoted to bishop. Episcopalians are fading away, but they’ll probably hang on for a few more decades.

The Roman Catholic Church has resisted fads for thousands of years. We’re not without our feminists though, and they’re making inroads. While singing hymns at mass lately, it bugs me to notice that the lyrics have been changed on some of my favorites. One is “Be Not Afraid,” by John Foley SJ, which used to go: “. . . and if wicked men insult and hate you, all because of Me, blessed, blessed are you.” Having read and heard plenty of insults, and not a little hatred for my opinion columns over the years, I related to that line. Now, however, “wicked men” has been replaced by “wicked tongues.” Now I’m distracted by visions of disembodied tongues floating in the air and uttering nasty things about me.

Another is “Turn to Me,” also by Foley, with the lyrics “Turn to Me, oh man and be saved, says the Lord for I am God.” Now, however, it goes: “Turn to Me, oh turn and be saved,” and that bugs me. Did Foley agree to the changes? If he did, well, they’re his songs and he can do what he wants with them. But if it’s stealth feminists playing with my mind, I don’t like it. Those hymns became special when I learned them at a men’s retreat called “Cursillo” twenty-five years ago. They were written by a man; Jesus Christ was a man; but feminist Christians have a hard time with all that. Women can certainly enjoy the hymns if they want, but no one has the right to change them except John Foley.

In spite of what they claim in their academic treatises at university Women’s Studies Departments, men and women are quite different and they always will be. Confused men and women can change their language and cross-dress every other day. They can cut off and sew on genitals and take all the hormones they want. Just don’t ask me to pay for any of it, and don’t send out the PC Thought Police to arrest me when I call attention to their foolishness in this space. This is still America, and we still have a Constitution with a First Amendment - for the time being at least.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who's the Coward?



“Hello fellow cowards,” said Ward Connerly after stepping up to the mike at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) last month. Thousands in the crowd with me laughed uproariously. He was referring to what President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, said the previous week - that we are “a nation of cowards” because we don’t talk about race enough. He wants to “foster a dialogue between the races.”

I couldn’t disagree more. I got tired of talking about race decades ago and most people I know are tired of it too. Remember 1997 when President Clinton began his second term saying we needed a “national dialogue on race”? I was thinking, “Oh boy. Not again.” We talk about race way too much, but Democrats are obsessed with it - so on and on it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows.

On two different forms this school year, government asked my students to categorize themselves by “race,” even though that same government outlaws racial discrimination. Everybody in America is forced to do this over and over again in an ordinary lifetime. Government is obsessed with race but ordinary people are moving well beyond it. It compiles statistics endlessly about how “African Americans” score on tests, are infected with HIV, own their own homes, are aborted, are imprisoned, what their average life expectancy is, and on and on. If there are discrepancies between how blacks are doing and how whites are doing on anything, it’s assumed to be the result of racial discrimination by whites against blacks. Democrats in government proclaim that “Affirmative Action” is necessary to “remedy” the situation.

That generally takes the form of racial quotas in hiring, awarding contracts, admission to universities, and, most recently - writing sub-prime mortgages, according to economist Thomas Sowell. Community organizers like President Obama’s buddies at ACORN threatened to sue banks if they didn’t lend to “minority” applicants who too often couldn’t afford the kind of house they wanted to buy. This sort of “affirmative action” is at the root of the economic debacle we’re currently facing, but such a discussion is not the kind of dialogue Attorney General Holder wants to have - and I’ll probably be accused of racism for writing about it.

Democrats think their racial discrimination is benevolent. They tell themselves and everyone else that granting jobs, contracts, and college admissions to women, blacks, and other minorities over white and Asian males isn’t discrimination at all. Such doublethink is their stock in trade. That’s why they get 95% of the black vote and 75% of the Hispanic vote.

With the exception of conservative black men such as Ward Connerly and Thomas Sowell quoted above, there’s little or no inclination among most so-called black “leaders” to scrap the racial discrimination euphemistically known as “affirmative action.” Even though much was made of Barack Obama’s election as the first black president, and his appointment of Eric Holder as the first black Attorney General, those two men are making sure they play the same old victim tune previous unsuccessful black candidates like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton make their livings on.

Speaking to a group called the “State of the Black Union” two weeks ago, President Obama said, “You know that tough times for America often mean tougher times for African Americans. This recession has been no exception.” He obviously intends to continue affirmative action, saying that he is “closing the gap between the nation we are and the nation we can be,” by including it in his “economic stimulus” bill.

About the jobs in that bill, Obama’s chief economic advisor, Robert Reich said, “I am concerned, as I’m sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals, or to white male construction workers.”

Victim mentality pervades the 95% of blacks who voted for Obama and other Democrats. They don’t tend to think of themselves as Americans first. They’re “black” first, and Americans second. Hence the now ubiquitous term “African American.” The dysfunctional numbers gathered for blacks by a race-obsessed government show a lead in nearly every negative category: illegitimate births, crime, unemployment, HIV infection, lowest life expectancy, and so forth. Black “leaders” and liberal Democrats desperately want something else to blame for all this and avoid examining their own culpability. Slavery and white racism kept blacks down for centuries, but the above-listed issues cannot be explained that way. Most flared up after the Civil Rights Act - and after Democrat “War on Poverty” subsidies nearly destroyed the black family, and after a gangster subculture began filling the vacuum created.

The Civil Rights Act was intended to outlaw discrimination and equalize public and private treatment of people regardless of race. Liberal Democrats, however, used it to substitute one form of discrimination for another, then masked it by calling it Affirmative Action. Hence the title of Ward Connerly’s latest book, “Creating Equal,” in which he argues for an end to it. He wants bookstores to take it out of their “African American Department” and include with all their other books.

If Eric Holder wants to talk about these issues, fine. But we know they’d be off the table because cowards like him are afraid to address them.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Roof Perchers and Retirement



Roof-perchers. That’s what Laura Ingraham calls them, and their numbers are rising. They’re people who depend on government for everything. If there’s a flood coming, they don’t heed evacuation orders. They don’t head for higher ground. They certainly don’t keep an inflatable raft on hand. They climb on their rooves and wait for government to rescue them. If there’s any delay, they whine to the media who amplify their complaints. Why don’t they take common-sense precautions? They don’t have to, they don’t want to, and they’ll never learn to until government cuts them loose.

That’ll never happen, you say. Oh yeah? As the roof-perchers increase, the number of rescuers declines. More are climbing on the wagon to ride between floods while wagon-pullers are getting tired and getting scarce too. To sustain their ever-increasing numbers, President Obama will increase taxes on the rich, right? Trouble is, the rich are already paying most of the taxes. The top 1% pay more income tax than the bottom 90%. How much more does the president think he can squeeze out of them until they collapse? How long before the goose that laid the golden egg lays down and dies? It’s unsustainable. The socialist programs he’s pushing haven’t worked anywhere they’ve been tried and they won’t work here either.

Last June, Iowa flooded. Did you see people on rooves waiting for government to rescue them? I didn’t. Why were there so many in New Orleans? Because people there are descended from generations who have depended on government. Soon, with all President Obama’s bailout programs and pork-barrel, “economic stimulus” programs, most of the country will become roof-perchers and wagon riders just like them. They’ll reach a critical mass even in places like Iowa and there won’t be enough rescuers or wagon-pullers to keep things running. Eventually, someone is going to call 911 and nobody will be there to answer the phone.

It’s tough watching it all unravel around us. I knew it was was going to get worse when left-wing Democrats consolidated their control over Washington DC, but I didn’t think it would start collapsing so quickly. Meanwhile, it seems every other person I bump into lately asks me, “When are you going to retire?”

Heh. What a quaint notion. Retirement doesn’t seem sustainable either.

I’ve been teaching in the same community for a long time and I have children of former students in class regularly. “You must have enough years in by now,” people say. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop working until I’m either dead or drooling in a rocking chair, but I’m more fortunate than many. I have three jobs and I like them all. The work is interesting, rewarding, and I enjoy most of the people I work with. It gets a little hectic, but my schedule is flexible enough where I can get away from time to time. I’ve been eligible to retire for a while. Theoretically, I can depend on pension checks for life.

Theoretically.

However, I’m hearing horror stories from friends in the private sector about their retirement funds disappearing as stock markets nosedive. Some envy my public-sector retirement “guarantees,” but should they? Is my pension secure? It says so on paper in the state capitol, but I don’t believe it. The Maine State Retirement System is a pension fund like others. It’s invested. Market declines hit MSRS as hard as they hit someone’s 401K and it’s down 28% for 2008 - the biggest decline ever. I hate to even look at what’s happened to it in the six weeks since Obama was inaugurated. But it’s is backed up by the taxpayers according to statute, right? Uh-huh. This poverty-stricken state is one of the highest-taxed states in the country already. Do I want to depend on the prudence of Maine State Government for my support? I’d rather depend on myself, but I’ve been forced to give them my money for three decades. I had no choice.

My wife and I had four children and they’re all working, but most of my generation had smaller families, in Maine and elsewhere. Our population would be declining if not for immigrants pouring in, many of them illegal, and with a higher percentage of them riding on the wagon than the native population. Making matters worse, Maine is a sanctuary state with better-than-average welfare benefits for illegals and all other kinds of roof-perchers and wagon-riders who move here.

But I’ll still have Social Security to help in my declining years, right? Hah! That’s funny. Retirement? People used to do that in the good old days. Roof perchers and wagon riders retire early, but retirement of for the middle class is history. That’s the kind of change President Obama has brought us.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Profile in Courage



Courage is rare. That’s why we prize it. The high point of my trip to Washington, DC last week was meeting Geert Wilders - a profile in courage for our times. He has lived for years under 24-7 guard after radical Muslims put out a fatwa on him, just as they did with Salman Rushdie twenty years ago this week. Wilders, a Dutch Member of Parliament, had the temerity to make a film called “Fitna,” which quotes incendiary lines from the Koran and depicts sermons by radical imams preaching hatred of Jews and other infidels. Interspersed with these are scenes where those quotes and preachings are put into practice, including clips of the September 11th attacks in the USA, bus bombings in London, train bombings in Madrid, and beheadings in the Middle East.

Wilders knew he would incur a death sentence when he released Fitna, but he did so anyway. He took up the mantle of courage from fellow Hollanders like Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam after making a film depicting Muslim mistreatment of women, and fellow Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was driven out the Netherlands after the Dutch government declined to protect her following the fatwa issued against her.

CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) organizers were asked to give Wilders and opportunity to speak during their event at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, but they declined, claiming their schedule was full and they couldn’t fit him in. I hope that was the reason. I hope it wasn’t because they were too afraid. A separate reception for Wilders was thrown together elsewhere in the hotel at the last minute and word went around among CPAC attendees about when and where.

Although I showed up an hour early, I barely got into the small function room where it was standing-room-only. I’d been warned that no bags or jackets would be allowed inside, so I put those in my room and showed up in shirtsleeves with a camera and digital recorder. Uniformed security guys ran metal detectors over me and asked for my press pass. I hadn’t applied for one, so I had to talk my way past that. Inside were large, burly guys with folded arms, shaved heads, and stern looks surrounding the tall, smiling, blonde-haired Dutchman. The reception was sponsored by conservative activists including David Horowitz of Frontpagemagazine, Pam Geller of Atlasshrugs, as well as authors Robert Spencer and Dr. Andrew Bostom. After each made their introductions, Wilders came to the podium to thunderous applause. Speaking in mildly-accented English, he thanked the audience and thanked US immigration authorities saying, “It’s always a pleasure to cross a border without being sent back on the first flight.” He was referring to what happened to him the previous week, when he’d been invited to London to show “Fitna” in the House of Lords, but was deported immediately after landing at Heathrow Airport by a UK multicultural police squad who were afraid his presence on British soil would stir a riot by radical British members of the “Religion of Peace.”

It’s bad enough that Wilders must live out his life in safe houses, but his own government, the most politically-correct in Europe if not the whole world, issued criminal charges against him for “inciting hatred and discrimination” and “insulting Muslim worshippers.” Only under multiculturalism can someone “insult” Muslims by quoting them when they incite hatred and discrimination. The Dutch courts do not dispute what Wilders depicted in his film. They know it’s true. Wilders’ crime is publicizing the truth liberal Europe would prefer to ignore.

Genuine courage is indeed rare. Wilders’ display of it in the Netherlands sharply contrasts - and shines light on - Dutch government cowardice. That’s why they’re trying to shut him up. As Wilders himself put it last Friday night:

“In Europe freedom of speech should be extended, instead of restricted . . . As George Orwell once said: ‘If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’”

Labels: , ,