Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ted Cruz and “New York Values.” By Kevin D. Williamson.

“New York Values.” By Kevin D. Williamson. National Review Online, January 17, 2016.


Eighty percent of voters live in cities, and Ted Cruz needs them.

What to make of Senator Ted Cruz? He is a very, very smart man who apparently believes that the median Republican presidential primary voter is very, very dumb. There’s some evidence for that proposition — Donald Trump still leads in the national polls — but Cruz’s strategy rests on the proposition that these voters will enjoy being condescended to. He may very well have chosen the most effective strategy.

Senator Cruz is very much hardwired into the current us-and-them mood of the electorate, Right and Left, and though he is a creature of Princeton and Harvard Law whose household long has been sustained by a Goldman Sachs paycheck, Cruz is keenly interested in giving the impression that there exists a vast cultural chasm between himself, the champion of what some populists like to call “the Real America” — as though Ronald Reagan of Hollywood, J. P. Morgan of Wall Street, and Bill Gates of Harvard weren’t real Americans — and the wicked Washington-based elite. Cruz is an outsider to the extent that a member of an Ivy League eating club (have someone explain it to you) who went on to be a member of the nation’s most prestigious lunch club, the Senate, can be an outsider. He is a Texan, albeit a Texan from the anodyne suburbs of Houston, which could be the suburbs of anywhere. He didn’t grow up baling hay in Muleshoe.

Courting the boob vote, Cruz is campaigning as a boob, a project complicated by the fact that there is a much bigger boob in the race: Donald Trump. Cruz, an affluent Ivy Leaguer, needed to distinguish himself from Trump, a very rich Ivy Leaguer, and what he came up with was: “New York values.” A Republican presidential candidate need not trouble himself too much about New York’s votes in the Electoral College, and Trump himself had used the phrase to characterize his many departures from the traditional conservatism of the Republican party, of which he is a freshly minted member. Cruz, canny politician that he is, never bothered to go into much detail about what is meant by “New York values.” Sneering at them was enough.

But sneering at New York values isn’t very smart for conservatives. Not in the long run.

It has been said that you cannot understand America without understanding New York City, and the first thing to understand about New York is that it isn’t very much like the rest of America. That is true, unquestionably. But New York’s traditional virtues — its brashness, its hustle and enterprise, its anything-is-possible attitude — are the traditional American virtues, just as the city’s vices — its materialism, its self-importance, its fascination with the transitory and the impermanent — are the American vices, too. Conservatives, of all people, should be more attuned to the virtues of the nation’s commercial center; let the nation’s art-school dropouts sneer at that great collision of money and culture. The city has been the incubator of our best minds — Buckley, Friedman, Podhoretz, Kristol — and is home to great conservative institutions from The New Criterion and the Manhattan Institute to this magazine. Ayn Rand, who didn’t understand people but had a great and admirable capacity to be arrested by the beauty of human achievements, loved New York as only an immigrant can.

To the extent that “New York values” is another way of saying “urban values” — and it is, to a great extent — conservatives would do well to develop a keener appreciation of them. (Never mind, for the moment, the notion that Donald Trump’s values are identical to the values of New York, in which he is a figure of fun rather than a figure of respect.) From a matter of pure self-interest, Republicans would be in much better shape if their presidential candidates did not start in an electoral hole, with California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois wrapped up in a bow for the Democrats. It isn’t California ranchers and Illinois farmers who have handed those states to the Left, but city-dwelling people who believe with some reason — Ted Cruz has just given them another — that Republicans hate them.

Our cities are disproportionately black, but they are not disproportionately Martian. Our cities have many immigrants, but not immigrants from the Land of People Who Don’t Care About Their Kids and Really Like Paying High Taxes. Ask a black Democrat in the Bronx working to support a family whether he’d prefer to make more money or less, to keep more of his money or less, to have more economic security or less, for his children to have more educational opportunities or fewer, and he will give the same answers as any plaid-panted Brooks Brothers specimen haunting the Merion Cricket Club — or any white oilman running a fracking rig in the Eagle Ford shale. His values are New York values, too.

When Ronald Reagan was elected, 74 percent of the U.S. population lived in cities; today it is 82 percent. From 2000 to 2010, the nation’s population grew by 9.7 percent — but the city population grew by 12.1 percent. And those urbanites are not entirely pleased with the Democratic monopolies that govern most of them: In Flint, the Democrats are literally poisoning the children; in Atlanta, the schools are so corrupt that teachers and administrators had to be sent to prison; elsewhere, urban Americans are literally up in arms (Molotov cocktails, at least) over their treatment at the hands of the city powers they interact with most often: the police. New York City is sliding back into pre-Giuliani chaos.

And what are Republicans doing? Sneering at “New York values,” when they should be seeking to satisfy the best of those values, such as the entrepreneurial spirit and the hunger for advancement — which are, after all, the best of American values, too.

Europe Looks the Other Way on Mass Sexual Assault. By Emily Dyer.

Europe Looks the Other Way on Mass Sexual Assault. By Emily Dyer. National Review Online, January 16, 2016.


The chickens are coming home to roost on Europe’s unwillingness to offend.

The beginning of 2016 in Europe saw the collision of two problems that have long been left to run their course undisturbed. Making allowances for human-rights abusers in order to avoid causing offense is, after all, nothing new here in Europe. Neither is our often well-meaning refusal to question the potential impact of welcoming record levels of migrants to our societies.

On New Year’s Eve, more than 500 women out celebrating in Germany felt the impact of this collision: They were raped, sexually assaulted, and robbed by gangs of largely migrant men and then blamed for it by the authorities. Mayor Henriette Reker, of Cologne, released a “code of conduct” for women’s behavior in public, which included keeping strangers “an arm’s length away” and staying away from groups of people. Her words could have easily been mistaken for that of the U.K.’s Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a pressure group with a long history of campaigning on behalf of convicted terrorists that published “precautionary advice” to prevent Muslims from “becoming targets of harassment,” stating that women “have to take personal precautions when they go outside.”

Mayor Reker’s comments have rightly sparked an outcry from many activists and women’s-rights groups. But her words form part of a much darker picture, one that ends with women off the streets.

Now, I am sure that Mayor Reker does not actually want women banished from public places. But her “guidelines” mirrored those of Islamists and many totalitarian regimes around the world that do want women banished. From violent groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda to the ostensibly nonviolent Hizb ut-Tahrir and Muslim Brotherhood, those who want the establishment of an Islamic caliphate governed by sharia law want every woman to remain inside the house as wife and mother, unless she is accompanied by a male guardian, or mahram. Islamist ideology teaches that men should be shielded from women in public spaces in order to protect both sexes from what is seen to be inevitable: uncontrollable sexual desire and social disorder. Enforced wearing of the hijab, gender segregation, and prescribed gender roles are therefore used to help avoid chaos and vice.

Those who challenge these codes are often held responsible for what ensues. Women who take to the streets in protest among men, for example, are blamed if this should lead to sexual violence. In Egypt, victims of sexual harassment have been repeatedly denounced and blamed for the actions of their attackers. During the Muslim Brotherhood’s time in power in 2013, one of its ministers, Reda al-Hefnawy, told me that there were “so many reasons” why the victim is at fault, including her attire and the time of the attack. According to al-Hefnawy, as reported in Daily News Egypt, “women should not mingle with men during protests,” and he asked how the Ministry of the Interior could be expected to protect “a lady who stands among a group of men.” Salah Abdel Salam, a member of one of the most prominent Salafist parties, al-Nour, echoed this mindset, declaring that “the woman bears the offence when she chooses to protest in places filled with thugs.” A prominent member of another Salafist party, al-Asala, said something similar, claiming that women “sometimes cause rape upon themselves through putting themselves in a position which makes them subject to rape.”

In fact, women around the world face brutal punishment — often sexualized — for having been victims of sexual violence. In Saudi Arabia, victims of gang rape face hundreds of lashes. In India, gang rape has been used to punish women for the crimes of men.

All of this fits a pattern, whereby those in power use sexual violence as a political tool to control the movements of those whom they see as the true source of chaos in society: women. Blaming victims of sexual assault sends a clear message to women that they do not have a place in the public sphere and creates a culture of acceptability around the abusers’ actions by implying that the responsibility lies with the victim rather than the attacker.

Europe has fallen into this trap, not out of hatred for the victim, but out of fear of confronting the perpetrator, particularly when the latter belongs to a minority religion or culture. It took days for police to confront the mass attacks in Germany, and weeks for the left-wing media to do so. The Guardian, for example, a British newspaper that is often vocal about “rape culture” in Western institutions such as university campuses, took almost two weeks to publish any opinion pieces on the matter. The Swedish media were even worse, accusing those who pointed out that the majority of attackers had described by victims as Arab or North African of racism. In doing so, the European left-wing media has abandoned its usual take on sexual violence and its duty to report the facts in favor of manufacturing public opinion.

In the U.K., turning a blind eye to — and in some cases actively covering up — crimes against women, all in the name of protecting supposed cultural sensitivities, is completely normal. One of the most devastating cases was in Rotherham, where public officials deliberately covered up thousands of cases of brutal sexual violence and abuse against young girls because most of the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin, according to a subsequent independent inquiry in 2014.

It is not only women and girls who suffer victim-blaming in the name of not causing offense. Just over a year ago, large swathes of European media blamed the murder of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists on their drawings, not on those who pulled the triggers. In the months that followed, the surviving top publisher and editor, Laurent Sourisseau, said that the publication would no longer draw cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

Denying the facts about Cologne does a huge disservice to cultural and ethnic minorities in Europe. It implies that all migrants and refugees are part of one homogeneous group — a gross generalization that has been jumped on by the far right. In fact, the far Right has benefited greatly from the confusion following the Cologne attacks, using it to stoke up fears about asylum seekers in general. Protests by groups such as HoGeSa and Pegida have taken center stage in Germany over the last month, and angry mobs have taken to the streets threatening to “clean up” Cologne.

In going to any lengths to avoid offending minorities, we become complicit in the broader, deliberate attacks on individual rights. The result is a genuine threat to hard-won freedoms in the West. Unless the sensible among us are honest about the issues facing Europe, we will leave a large void within the debate to be filled inevitably by those who want to strengthen rather than break down the divides among us.