A Phobiaist’s Complaint

 I am so confused. Perhaps the progressives are correct and we right-wingers are inadequately subtle and nuanced in our thinking. I know that liberals speak out against labeling and stereotyping, but that confuses me too because they have built up so many tiny little contradictory pigeon-holes to stuff people into and for the life of me I can’t figure out who goes where.  

If I am afraid that Islamists might kill me, and I want to stop them, I’m Islamiphobic, but a “phobia” is an unreasonable fear – like arachibutyrophobia– an irrational, intense fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. PB is a little gluey, but that’s what the J is for, so there’s no reason for fear. No one has ever died from peanut butter stickiness. But millions have died horrifying deaths at the hands of Islamists, so it seems reasonable to have some serious concerns about their intentions. Even if only 1% are dangerous, that still makes a million of them running around with bombs and machetes. Pardon my Islamophobia, but yikes.
If, however, I’m afraid of offending said Muslims, and kowtow to their every ridiculous demand, I’m not Islamophobic, I am compassionate and multicultural and diverse. Muddle, muddle. This same principle appears when dealing with issues surrounding gay rights.

If I am against gay marriage and wish that homosexuals would keep their clothes on in public, then I’m homophobic, somehow afraid of these sequined and painted people who mostly just want to force me to say that what they do is just fine with God, who, according to them, doesn’t exist (Large question mark appears over my head).

For quite a long time I laughed at the term homophobic because it was so over-reactive, but given recent developments and the gay rights folk being willing to ruin, bankrupt, and dispossess Christians who are unwilling to countermand God’s instructions on marriage, perhaps it’s reasonable to be afraid of same-sex couples. But then if the fear is rational it isn’t a phobia.

Speaking of gay issues, what do we call the liberal gay male who is pro-Palestinian? Do these guys not know that Muslims in their own countries throw gay men off roofs?  And what do we call liberal women who seem comfortable with the prospect of Sharia? There’s no term for them? Allow me: Christophobic nincompoops.

Speaking of nincompoopness, let’s look at the issue of sexism, which I’ve always found perplexing. After all everyone has a sex – in fact, it appears now that we all have several.

So are you sexist if you’re homosexual and want nothing to do with the opposite sex? Doesn’t seem like it. Are you sexist if you don’t like the sex you are and want to change it? Nope – don’t think so. If you change from a man to a woman, do you then become pro-men, or were you always? If so, then are you now straight? I don’t know. Perhaps a person is sexist only if he, or she (:-)), still believes in the original man/woman sexual arrangement, though that seems the only reasonable attitude given the fact that a mere 2% of the population is oriented otherwise. But “reasonable” is not part of this picture.

Now, if one is both pro-Islamic and anti-sexist (anti-sexist= anti-male, which is, in some mysterious way, not sexist) then how can you accept the anti-female dictates of Sharia Law? Are you afraid you would be labeled mutilaphobic if you took a stand against such practices? I should also point out that Muslim men are given permission by the Koran to marry four wives, simultaneously, and to beat them whenever they wish. But we would be mistaken if we think this behavior is sexist. To think so would be provincial and naïve, completely lacking in the suavity of multiculturalism. And any woman, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Brigitte Gabriel, who speaks out against Islamic barbarism toward women is a hateful bigot – we must somehow digest that, confounding as it may be.  

So, are you sexist if you dislike or distrust a given woman? It depends on the woman. If she has a liberal vagina, she is good, right? If she doesn’t, then she’s bad. No. Well, sort of; if she hasn’t a vagina then she is a he, and that would be bad.  But what about a transgendered person – is a manufactured vagina enough? And why isn’t a uterus necessary? Oh, that’s right, that’s the troublesome part of the female anatomy, so there will be no bragging about it. We only talk about the fun part.

Then there’s racism; what makes a person racist? Evidently, distrusting Barack Obama and Eric Holder. But, you have to understand that their being black is not the issue. After all, it’s ok to hate Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Allen West, etc. The issue is conservative vs. progressive, not black versus white. They say that’s the point, but it isn’t. It has something to do with authenticity – whatever that means. Obama is not of slave blood, is not poor, never has been. But he is an authentic socialist, so I assume that is the issue in racism; one must have X amount of melanin in the skin and vote Democrat – such a person can have nothing critical said about them. I have no idea why.

That gets us to the issue of thugism. He who is prone to tearing up private property, setting fire to family businesses, shooting cops and expecting to be paid for his trouble may mistakenly be called a thug. This is deceptive because if said thug is also black then he can’t be a thug, because thug is the new incarnation of the word n----r, which can only be used by racists (unless the speaker is authentically black). And don’t forget that racists can only be white and can only vote Republican – in spite of the fact that slavery and racism are Democrat constructs. It was Republicans who pushed to rid our society of both. Do you see why I’m puzzled?

We also have to remember that it’s ok for a black person to be a copist, to be policephobic -- regardless of whether or not the cop in question is black. Nor is copism influenced by the fact that blacks arrested by cops (black or white) are actually committing crimes. If I point out that more blacks are arrested than whites because blacks commit more crimes, that makes me a racist. Facts have no bearing on the issue, which is always bewildering.

It’s also baffling that the aborting of black babies is not racist.  That blacks appear, if the statistics are accurate, to be more babyophobic than other races mystifies me. They are dooming their own race to perpetual minority status, but it’s still racist -- and sexist -- to be against that practice. Sexist also, evidently because we only honor the vagina, the playground, and not the reproductive part of feminine power. Perplexing in the extreme.

I am beginning to understand the left’s fascination with drugs. Anyone this realityphobic has got to be heavily medicated to make it from one day to the next. In fact, I may need medicating if I have to listen to much more of this drivel. I don’t hate blacks, gays, or Muslims, but I do hate it when people use the smoke and mirrors of iillogic and linguistic trickery to hide the fact that they have no idea what they are talking about. Call me a phobiaist, if you must call me something, and try talking sense. We’d all be happier.



The Haunting at Heceta Head

Some places just ooze history. Some strange kink in the space-time continuum links us back to events, to people, to ways of life foreign and almost impossible to understand, to lives lived with ferocious intensity and dogged determination. In some way those qualities still resonate into our insensitive 21st century lives.

Recently my husband and I stayed overnight at the Heceta Head Lighthouse keepers’ home on the central Oregon coast. This lighthouse is still operating – we woke in the middle of the night to watch the searchlight beam slicing across the mountainsides and the full moon turning the waves in the cove to sterling silver. A guide told us that the light is visible for 21 nautical miles out across the Pacific.

The lighthouse, which sits on a 250 foot promontory, was completed in 1894 in spite of the fact that Highway 101, which now spans the chasm between two mountains and runs past the base of the lighthouse peninsula, had yet to be constructed. In fact, all that connected the spot to Florence, 13 miles to the south was an old Indian trail, which they widened to make a wagon road. But that became impassible when it rained, and in the Pacific Northwest it always rained. The builders often had to either have bricks and stone shipped in by tugboat or fetch supplies via the irregular and treacherous beach that runs past the sea lion caves as it winds southward.  This could only be done at low tide and once they’d gathered the necessary provisions, they had to wait 24 hours for the next low tide so they could return.

That’s how everything – from building materials to flour and coffee – arrived out at the point during the two years of building. In fact, that’s how everything three families needed to survive out there for the next 35 years. Once the men arrived at the base of the cliff, they had to lug everything up the long, steep slope to the promontory called Heceta Head.

Because the light, the only one for 50 miles both up and down a very rugged and dangerous coastline, needed to be rotated and fueled by hand, the law required that two keepers be in the lighthouse during the dark hours. When not cranking the pulley that turned the light – which had to be done every 39 minutes – they sat together in the little room at the base of the tower reading and stoking the fire in the wood stove. This consistency and diligence required the presence of a third keeper to spell the other two and to tend to the other chores around the property. The keepers and their families raised most of their own food, chopped their own fuel, and did all of the maintenance work.

Three residences provided housing for these faithful men and their families. The head keeper’s house was a single-family dwelling closest to the lighthouse (but still at the base of a steep hill). This house was torn down in 1940, its timbers sold and used to build a book store which still stands today. The assistants lived in a two-story duplex next door. The house, with its stark white siding, its dormered windows and Queen Anne frills, its red roof and wide, sweeping porch appears as important and imposing as the lighthouse itself. The white picket fence around it, and the Adirondack chairs on the porch gives it a welcoming, homey look and brings up holographic, mental images of young boys in knickerbockers rattling sticks down the fence and pinafored girls jumping rope in the yard.

The structure sports a mirror image symmetry; the two sides are identical except for one detail: the side that housed the 2nd in command had a dining room chandelier designed for five light bulbs. The side that housed the low guy on the totem pole, however, had an inferior light fixture, identical but dangling only four light sockets. They say the main house had six. Rank, after all, has its privileges. It is this duplex that is now a charming, and reportedly haunted, bed and breakfast.

I have no idea what goes on with the business of ghosts – I’ve never personally laid eyes on one, but something happens, something we don’t understand. Some concentrated intensity lingers, some hyper-awareness of the past. The ghost that appears there has been “seen” so often that she’s been named and a story about a dead child and her need to protect his grave has grown up around her the way the brambles and wind-bent pines have hidden that burial ground – if it ever existed. They call her Rue – and I have no doubt that there were many days that she rued coming to Heceta Head.

Our stay was idyllic. Sun, breeze, nice people, a friendly black cat that sat with us on the west side of porch in the late afternoon. We climbed to the top of the lighthouse, petted dogs and partook of the seven-course, two-hour, gourmet breakfast. This meal features foods from the Northwest – marionberries coated in elderflower syrup, fresh crab cakes, potato sausages, tomato coriander sweet bread, fruit frappe’s—we ate and ate and chatted with the other guests, while the old grandfather clock chimed out the passing hours just as it had a hundred years ago. Two places sat empty at the table and I wondered if they’d been intended to represent the families who had once dined there. The wall between the separate dining rooms had long ago given way to an archway so we dined under the mismatched light fixtures and watched the cooks pick garnish flowers from the raised garden beds behind the house.

This whole event was made even sweeter because it was a gift from an amazing daughter and her husband to mark our 50th wedding anniversary and we did some romantic reminiscing, but the past of those lighthouse keepers and their isolated families kept grabbing our attention. We’d had that experience before. Once standing in Paul Revere’s bedroom on the 4th of July feeling thoroughly uncomfortable, as if we were intruding on his privacy, as if he might suddenly rush up the stairs and discover us there at the foot of his bed; and once on the battlefield at Gettysburg which felt so heavily haunted that I had to leave; I couldn’t bear breathing that heavy, humid air and the agony it still carried.

Did we see ghosts? No. But those people, in some way, still inhabit those places and it is good to remember that they were once there, enmeshed in a life-or-death struggle so intense that their experience was permanently seared into the walls and floors, the grass and trees, the air that flows through them.  



The Four Horsemen of the Education Apocalypse

America watches in horror as ravaging mobs of young, mostly black, people tear through American towns burning cars and businesses, looting and vandalizing, screaming obscenities and mindless chants. Our president blames slavery – gone now for over 150 years, blacks blame the cops, journalists blame poverty, but so far no one has blamed the educational system. So I will.

If you spend between 12 and 16 years telling kids:
o    that they are victims of gross unfairness,
o    that they have no hope unless somebody else fixes things for them,
o    that the system is rigged against them,
then you shouldn’t be astounded when they blow up. This is a fuse that’s been burning for a long time and for the last few decades the left has been vigorously fanning that flame, so KABOOM!

Just as the blacks have been fed a diet of self-defeating victimization, so the white youth of this country have been served up a dozen years of unrelenting guilt that has withered their souls into apologetic, neurotic automatons. We fuss about the Michelle lunches, but let’s look at what they’re being served in the classroom. It’s no more appetizing and nutritious than the limp, beige fare in the cafeteria. Much of what’s gone wrong in American education can be organized into 4 main categories, 4 horsemen that have caused this social apocalypse.

This first Horseman is called Neutrality. He isn’t neutral; educators just use that term because the schools are supposed to be impartial in regard to both politics and religion. This so-called fairness is closely associated with and bolstered by the misunderstood and mythological “separation of church and state.” True, we don’t want the public schools teaching church doctrine, but what happens to a child’s view of the world if he attends a school (where he’s supposed to be learning really important things) that never mentions God and even actively teaches against His existence? Look at science or health curricula today to see what I mean. Those classes are not neutral.

If a child is lucky enough to have parents who teach him about the Creator and have done a good job of it, the child can come out of public education without a lot of obvious damage, but those parents are rare and research done by the Barna Group shows that 70% of students raised in Christian homes come away from their education years seriously doubting what they learned in their churches and homes. That alone is a clear demonstration that schools are anything but neutral on religious issues.

Nor are they neutral on political issues. The last survey I read showed that over 80% of the members of the teachers’ unions were registered Democrats. Nothing shocked my students more than to discover that I was a conservative. I had the reputation of being one of the truly intellectual teachers on campus and I also taught modern dance, so how in the world could I be a registered Republican? They all knew those people were stuffy and stupid and racist. The biases they’d been taught in other classrooms was obvious.

In reality, there is no neutral. One may be able to hold onto pure objectivity for the short duration of a jury trial, but for an entire career? No human being can do that. It quickly becomes unnatural and some of us teach in areas where it’s just impossible: history, science, health, all the soft sciences, economics, and my discipline, language arts. How do you teach any classic literature and not find biblical references everywhere? How do you avoid the traditional classics and still give students an accurate idea of their culture? How do you allow them to discuss their own perceptions and maintain that pure, don’t-talk-about-God mandate? Can’t be done.

Another main problem with neutrality is that it belies the concept of absolute truth. If we teach kids, and believe me, we do, that there is no such thing as absolute truth then we’ve undermined the main point of education. A truly well educated person is one who has spent his life trying to find that truth. An educated person is not just a human being who has been trained to do a job – though that is the view of the state.

How can we expect kids to work hard learning if nothing we teach them is true? And – to get back to our riots – how can we then expect that they’ll care about the facts, the truth of an event. They’ve been taught and taught and taught again that they have a right to their own truth, that there are no objective facts, that everyone is biased. If they want to believe in “hands up; don’t shoot” then they can, regardless of the truth.

2. The next Horseman is called Political Correctness and is also known as Multi-culturalism.  This idea is very tempting to a school. It’s a shortcut to teaching true human decency and respect. Merely insist, mindlessly, on the eradication of certain taboo words and that will create the illusion of mutual admiration and esteem. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card. Go past go and collect your $200. You get your Girl Scout Kindness badge just for abstaining from derogatory terms, intentional or unintentional. I was once castigated by the director of the school’s Second Language program for referring to her students as “Hispanic.” I hadn’t read the latest PC dictum – they were to be called “Latino” – or “Latina.” Somewhere along the line “Hispanic” had become a pejorative term.

This rider, too, chips away at the concept of truth. We’ve recently seen that on the news. We are no longer to refer to the roving gangs of marauders as “thugs.” No mention of the term’s Hindu origins, to its original reference to the murdering gangs of India know as the “Thugs” (pronounced “toogs”). Now it’s taken its place in the halls of negative ways to refer to people of color. And this was done by fiat from the all-powerful media, so be sure the schools will enforce it.

3. Our third Horseman is closely related to the second and is known as Tolerance. This horseman also masquerades as a loving, accepting, lenient, warm and fuzzy person. But here again, truth takes a beating and so does Christianity. This guy demands tolerance even of things and behaviors that should not in any polite society be tolerated. The Baltimore mayor applied tolerance to the behavior of the rioters in her city – at the expense of over 200 businesses that were in no way responsible for the outrage of the demonstrators. “Allow them room to destroy,” she said. Tolerate this behavior. It’s easier than judging that behavior, easier than calling them on their adult tantrums. Just shut down thought and put up with whatever.

This attitude also undermines education. Half the fun of reaching outside of your self to learn is the discovery of behaviors and events and occurrences that are outrageous. How horrible it is that Eskimo tribes would set their unwanted babies and their elderly on ice flows and leave them to drift off into their cold and lonely destiny. But today that would be presented to students as entirely acceptable behavior because we are being tolerant. (And it’s not that much different than a late term abortion or a convenient euthanasia.) That tolerance renders a great deal of education boring. If we don’t have to guard against negative behavior, or try to fix it, why know about it? What’s the point?

The last horseman we call Self-Esteem. We call him Self for short. Because that is what we’ve done – made the student the center of the curriculum and made his feelings about himself of paramount importance. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating returning to the Dickensian approach of numbering students and humiliating them whenever possible. But does all the literature they read have to be set in this century and sport main characters no older than the students? Do we have to give out awards for everything? Long ago I quit attending awards night at our school; it was such a farce.

We’ve given our children the idea that they can do nothing wrong. After all, nothing is really right or wrong – see Horseman #1 – and we’re to be tolerant, aren’t we – see Horseman #3 – and it wouldn’t be PC to call the students out for being lazy, good for little, nincompoops even if they are, in fact, behaving that way. And look at what that’s given us – towns full of people who think the world should bow before them just because they are there. And we have been rendered powerless because we cannot #1, demand truth, or #2 call it as we see it, or #3 let it be known that we will not tolerate this disrespect, or #4 in any way demean their poor sensitivities.

Can we not just snap our fingers the way a hypnotist does and yank our young out of the trance we’ve put them in? Do we really have to live with this? And worse yet, double down on what we’ve done? We could make quite a noise if we all snapped our fingers together.  Or are we just going to send our children off to keep riding the four Horsemen?