Terror in Paris and the Presidential Campaign

I disagree with analysts who say Hillary wasn’t being clear about her platform in the second debate. Hillary was being very clear about what kind of president she’ll be.

She was reminded that as Secretary of State she underestimated the threat of ISIS:

So you’ve got prescriptions for the future, but how do we even [know] those prescriptions are any good if you missed it in the past?

Clinton’s answer was that the United States doesn’t bear the bulk of the responsibility for the problems in Iraq. They are the fault of the Iraqis and the region itself, which was a mess before Iraq. And the problem with Syria is Assad’s determination to hang on to power with the support of Russia and Iran.

She does admit that her vote on the Iraq War was ‘a mistake’ but provides no assurance she will do it differently in the future. And when asked why they had no post-Gaddafi plan for Libya after seeing what happened in Iraq, she said they did have a plan. Then rather than explaining what that plan was, she defended the decision to take Gaddafi out.

How could anyone say she’s not being clear about what her approach will be as president?  As for how she came to this approach, that’s another question. Her own words may provide a clue.

CLINTON: I think with this kind of barbarism and nihilism, it’s very hard to understand, other than the lust for power, the rejection of modernity, the total disregard for human rights, freedom, or any other value that we know and respect.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the word ‘modernity’ used in ways that don’t make sense to me, usually by people who would like us to believe that Enlightenment reason is a trouble-free concept.  Surely she knows that Muslim extremists are not the first people to object to aspects of modernity, and that the visible manifestations of it are not the worst of it.  Historians have observed that modernity itself exerts a subliminal effect on people, causing them to exhibit patterns of thinking and behavior that lead to disaster.

Now compare Hillary’s use of the word modernity with a phrase Bernie used later in the debate, ‘modern society’.

Dickerson was trying to get the candidates to say whether they use the term ‘radical Islam’.

SANDERS: I don’t think the term is what’s important. What is important to understand is we have organizations, whether it is ISIS or Al Qaida, who do believe we should go back several thousand years. We should make women third-class citizens, that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted, that they are a danger to modern society.

And that this world, with American leadership, can and must come together to destroy them. We can do that. And it requires an entire world to come together, including in a very active way, the Muslim nations.

My interpretation of his use of the term modern society is that Bernie isn’t thinking about this crisis in ideological terms. He’s grounded in reality.

My point?  The Paris attacks should not be seen as justification for putting an ideological hawk like Hillary Clinton in office.  Quite the opposite.

Same Sex Marriage and the Struggle for Perspective

 

Germaine Greer is now being criticized for saying that trans women are not women. ((Germaine Greer: Transgender women are not women, BBC News, Oct. 24, 2015. Available: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34625512)) I think this story brings up some points that should be discussed but unfortunately it’s a difficult subject to talk about. You don’t want to encourage resentment of trans people but how do you deal with the fact that some of them seem completely unconcerned about how their behavior affects women? I’ll start by saying that this post is not an excuse for prejudice against homosexuals or transgender people.

There are many other sources of confusion here, not least of all the terms.  I’ll list the ones that are important to this article.  A transgender individual who has transitioned, whether or not surgery was involved, doesn’t want to be called a transwoman because this would indicate that he or she hasn’t transitioned. The term ‘trans woman’ would be preferable to transwoman because trans is being used in this case as an adjective describing a specific kind of woman. However some prefer to be called women. I was surprised to learn that none of these terms refers to sexual orientation. Also that transgender people are not necessarily interested in same-sex marriage.

It seems that everyone who thinks trans women should not be called women, including Greer, ends up talking about the difficulties of being female as opposed to the privileges. Apparently discrimination and humiliation are the only proof that we have of a unique right to call ourselves women. This is not Greer’s fault but it’s pretty sad. Worse, it doesn’t stop the intrusion. Trans women answer that they’ve experienced all the same trials, and therefore they are women. But the most annoying part in my opinion would be conservative bloggers who scream that feminists have brought this on themselves.

Even though same-sex marriage is different from the transgender issue, I find that I run into a similar problem when trying to analyze the effects on women of same-sex marriage. My positions soon begin to seem vague. However, my first piece of evidence is pretty straight forward—same-sex marriage was legalized at a time when female reproductive rights were under attack and it continues to compete with reproductive rights for attention. But after that the evidence is purely theoretical.

Theoretically, women bring more value to a marriage relationship than men. This was once recognized in the custom of bride wealth, but because bride wealth has never been practiced in the United States it’s hard to argue that it’s threatened by same-sex marriage. It would be, if it still existed.  But regardless of the fact that most people have never heard of it, it’s still a necessary part of my argument. Clearly, we’re talking principle.  The one problem that might get worse for women because of same-sex marriage however, is child custody. The irony here is that women’s ability to bear children once made them more valuable than men in real economic terms. It was only the payment of bride wealth that made men equal to women in marriage. Now even custody is in question.

We may not like to hear that the childbearing role is our only claim to superiority, probably because this idea is now used against us. Conservative men insist that women are privileged, usually with the purpose of increasing the birthrate. But this is an anachronistic claim–the value remains, and we have no memory of the privilege. Obviously, conservative bloggers haven’t thought this through.

When I approach this subject from the ideological perspective I think I’m on more solid ground.  However, I recall that after I wrote [intlink id=”24″ type=”post”]Hermes in India[/intlink] I tried for quite some time to discuss my concerns about Hermetic influence in the United States. I found that people aren’t really concerned that Hermes can morph into, say, Jesus Christ, or that he has taken over our medical system. So I worry that the LGBTQ issue has a similar position in our culture.

I was interested to discover that same-sex couples may be unaware of the ideological meaning behind transgender manifestations. Ellen Degeneres for example is baffled by the fact that Caitlyn Jenner is Republican and not particularly supportive of same-sex marriage.

I don’t know whether Jenner is affiliated with a movement that I found while researching this article, the North American New Right, but her opinions are in line with it. And the New Right has taken an interest in Jenner. She’s been interviewed on their website. ((O’Meara, James J. Accommodate This: Bruce Jenner and the Hermetic Rebis, Counter Currents Publishing. Available: http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/06/accommodate-this/))

To their way of thinking the only true homosexuality is the type practiced by those mythical bands of men who roamed the earth before the birth of human culture. A modern example would be the Nazi männerbund. This movement thinks same-sex marriage is irrelevant if not silly, and it mocks what it calls the ‘Fake Left’ for insisting that homosexuals are just like everyone else in their desire to be married and raise children. Homosexuality should be an escape from marriage, they say, rather than a reason for it.

The vogue of using a mythical past in pursuit of political aims was hot in Europe before and during the world wars. Rene Guenon represented this type of Traditionalism (denoted with a capital ’T’). Thanks to Guenon’s influence, so did Albert Gleizes. The North American New right acknowledges Guenon’s influence, and, surprisingly, it also acknowledges the Traditionalism of Baron Julius Evola.  Evola was a Traditionalist of another sort.  His ideas are more closely associated with Nazism than those of Guenon.

In the United States same-sex marriage is water under the bridge, and compared to the ideological aspects discussed above it may prove to be relatively harmless.  When you consider the casual nature of marriage and the fact that the only real criteria for it is ‘true love’, it’s clear that denying same-sex partners the right to marry would have been discriminatory.  So in the American context I suppose legalizing same-sex marriage is progressive.

For a helpful article on Traditionalism from the Catholic point of view see: Stoker, Elizabeth, Francis Agonistes. New Republic, March 1, 2015. Available: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121168/pope-francis-conservatives-battle-us-catholic-churchs-future