Heed the Ides of March

Today is the Ides of March. In the old Roman calendar, days were defined by their relationship to the phases of the moon. The ides were the days in each month when the moon was exactly halfway between full and new. This particular ides is remembered for being the day Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Curia.

Julius Caesar was the great man of his day. The Republic of the 1st century BC was crumbling. Under the leadership of Sulla, Marius, and the Gracchi Brothers, the power of the Senate was faltering while ambitious men learned to use the mobs to get what they wanted. Mob violence and assassination became commonplace. It was this chaotic society that gave birth to Caesar. He was elected consul in 59 BC at the young age of 41 and together with his contemporaries Pompey and Crassus he established an authoritarian rule that the Republic had never before seen.

After his consulship ended, Caesar was given the office of proconsul, a job that was designed to keep powerful ex-consuls away from Rome. In his Caesar’s case, he was sent to the wild lands of Gaul, or modern day France and Belgium. Caesar’s enemies and allies alike must have breathed easier, now that the ambitious and clever man was out of the picture. Pompey used this time to pursue his own ends, but even while absent Caesar was not forgotten. Like a modern media star, Caesar published harrowing tales of his exploits in Gaul, making sure that his fame grew even while away.

Caesar served two terms as proconsul, and his fame grew ever higher. Despite his popularity, the establishment powers in Rome – the Senate, Pompey, Cato, Cicero, and others – plotted his downfall. Today they might try a viral campaign, or perhaps use a hashtag such as #CeaseCaesar. They ordered Caesar to surrender his command and return to Rome to face prosecution. This forced Caesar’s hand. Rather than giving himself to his enemies, he took his army to Rome and a civil war began.

In the end, Caesar was victorious while his former allies Crassus and Pompey were dead. Julius Caesar stood alone as the undisputed master of Rome. Romans, of course, despised the idea of monarchy. Their hatred for the old Tarquin kings ran deep in their cultural memory, even though they had been gone for five centuries. When Brutus and Cassius conspired to assassinate Caesar, they thought they would be greeted as heroes for destroying the tyrant. If Hitler had lived before then, they would have said that Caesar was the new Hitler and needed to be taken out. They were wrong, however.

Caesar’s death on March 15, 44 BC did not end tyranny. It did not restore Rome to the grand old days of the Republic. No new Cincinattus arose to guide Romans back to their cherished traditions and then give up his power. Caesar’s death brought about yet another bloody civil war, one that ended with his nephew Octavian Augustus on the throne of the new Roman Empire.

Heed the Ides of March. The enemy you focus all your energies on defeating today might simply be a harbinger for something even more terrifying.



Problem Solving

To a modern-day progressive, the problems in our culture are things like racism, sexism, wealth inequality, and the continued existence of conservative culture. Two of the key progressive beliefs are 1) man is inherently good, until corrupted by an unjust society, and 2) society can be perfected if only the right policies are enacted. Whenever progressives achieve something, though, they always move on to something new, something that suddenly becomes the most important cause ever. Thus the focus on microaggressions these days – activists have to be outraged about something, and we have reached the bottom of the barrel.

There are other problems in the world that are not so important, mostly because they are failures of a progressive Democrat president, and thus to be ignored. China hacking the personal records of over twenty million Americans does not seem to warrant concern. Nearly a hundred million American adults out of the workforce does not seem to be a problem. Tens of millions of immigrants entering our country illegally is seen as good, not worrying. Russia’s military expansion is only problematic to the progressives because they censor gays. The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East and the tangible threat of a new caliphate is seen as less important than making sure we all understand that Bruce Jenner really, truly, is a woman now, and probably always has been.

I am sure that if we ignore the second group of problems and focus on solving the first group, then everything will be ok.

Sacred Cows

“Sacred cows make the best hamburger.” — Mark Twain

Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

A. That’s not funny!

Many humorists will point out that the object of comedy is to shock the audience; to take people out of their comfort zone by making them laugh. The comedians of the 70s and 80s certainly did that; George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” was considered groundbreaking precisely because he deliberately set out to offend his audience. Today’s comedians still claim that mantle, using the most offensive language possible to skewer the traditions and political figures… but only those on the right side of the aisle, oddly enough. It seems to me that the so-called cutting-edge comedians are still living in the world of the 1950s, where conservative and Christian traditions are still the established culture of America. Where the humorists of the 1970s were mocking the establishment, their modern equivalents are simply taking cheap shots at easy targets.

Vox Day diagnoses the problem:

Actually, it’s not quite true to say that progressives are completely humorless. They do enjoy one single joke that they repeat over and over again, in a myriad of variants.

“That X, he sure is stupid, isn’t he!”

What passes for progressive humor isn’t actually humor per se, it is merely group reinforcement behavior.

This is why most modern comedians will never attack the sacred cows of the left – abortion, gay marriage, diversity, etc. By mocking the right, they are identifying themselves as members of the correct group of people, who think, speak, and believe in the correct manner. This is why anyone can joke about white men (rednecks, Nascar, etc) but nonwhites, gays, and women are off-limits. (Except for conservative women, of course – see Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann.) This is why conservative Christian culture can be mocked all day long, but we are not allowed to joke about Muslim culture, African culture, Hispanic culture, or anything else that is non-Western.

Me? I am just against double standards, and in favor of equal treatment. If it was ok to portray President George W. Bush as a chimp, then we should have no problem doing the same for President Obama. If it was ok to call a dung-smeared portrait of the Virgin Mary “art,” then we should have no problem doing the same for the Prophet Mohammad. Go for it, you fearless cutting-edge comedians! Make it happen!

A Double Standard for Murder

John Hinderaker reports on the man who tried to shoot his way into a Family Research Council office:

Will Floyd Corkins become the poster boy for gun control? He certainly deserves the honor. Corkins pled guilty today to firearms, terrorism and assault charges in Washington, D.C. Corkins shot and wounded one man in a terrorist attack last August, but he admitted in court that he had intended to kill as many as possible. He was carrying a loaded 9 mm handgun and had in his possession two additional loaded magazines and 50 loose rounds of ammunition. So the Democrats and their media outlets should be talking up Floyd Corkins, right?

Wrong. Because he carried out his attack on the Family Research Council’s Washington headquarters. Corkins is a left-winger who set out to murder FRC’s employees because he “didn’t like [their] politics,” specifically the fact that they oppose gay marriage.

Remember when an insane man killed several people in Arizona and seriously wounded Congresswoman Gabi Giffords? The left and the media (but I repeat myself) said that private citizen Sarah Palin had blood on her hands because she used a target icon to identify Giffords’ district as one to focus GOP efforts on. What do those same people have to say about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate map,” which the shooter was using as a blueprint for murder?

As always, with the left it is “who, whom.” The SLPC is good and blameless always, while conservatives such as Palin are evil and always to blame. We know this, so let us stop taking the left and the media seriously.