May 2015 Archives

As they did in Israel in March, the pollsters misread the sentiments of the British electorate leading to last Thursday's general election. What was supposed to be a dead heat between the Conservative and Labour Parties, with a likely hung parliament and a possible constitutional crisis, turned out to be a clear majority for the Tories. The consensus is that British voters -- specifically English voters -- did not want Labour leader and staunch socialist Ed Miliband as prime minister, and they turned out to vote Conservative to prevent that eventuality.

But why were the polls so far off? Janet Daley, writing in The Telegraph, thinks the "Shy Tory" phenomenon is a reaction to leftist bullies.

Somehow we have arrived at a point where the conscientiously held beliefs and values of the majority of the population have become a matter for secret shame. The desire to do as well as you can in life, to develop your potential and expect to be rewarded for it, to provide your family with the greatest possible opportunity for self-improvement and to do that on your own without being dependent on the state - these are the assumptions that seem to have become so unacceptable that identifying with them is beyond the pale, or at least so socially outrageous that it is not worth the ignominy of admitting to them.

The Left has so dominated the conversation and so noisily traduced the "petit bourgeois" values that guide the lives of what used to be called the "respectable working class" that, ironically, it is only the most socially confident who can openly embrace them. The very people whom Labour needs to attract (and which it did attract when it had re-invented itself as New Labour) are once again being bullied into hiding their true attitudes and opinions.

So they prevaricate and evade when asked how they will vote because they are intimidated by the condemnation of the Left-wing mob, or else they just are not self-assured enough to make the moral case (even in their own minds) for their choice. But when they reach the sacred solitude of the voting booth, they do what they know must be done for the sake of their own futures, and that of their families, and even of those the Left insists are being disadvantaged - because they genuinely believe that dependency is a bad thing and that self-determination is a social good.

In the end, what does the Left (and its army of media friends) accomplish by all this activist pressure on public opinion? In a circle of mutually congratulatory agreement, the liberal establishment may demonise the social attitudes of the majority until they are blue in the face. They may succeed - as indeed they obviously have - in making ordinary people afraid to utter their real views. But there is a dreadful price to be paid: if you browbeat people into withdrawing from the debate, then you will never know how robust their convictions are - until it is too late and you have catastrophically lost an election, or staked your professional credibility on unsound predictions.

This is the danger of the activist trap. As I said last week, if you are surrounded by a crowd of people whose opinions are identical to yours then together you can make a great deal of noise. But what you don't hear is the silence of those outside the crowd. If parties of the Left are ever to become electable again, they will have to stop shouting and listen.

Young Conservative Lewis Barber wondered why, given the economic success of the Conservative-led government elected in 2010, the party's supporters were shy about voicing support on social media:

So, why is there such hesitancy among Conservative voters to support this record? The simple answer is that for many, particularly students like myself, it is still seen as taboo to support the Conservative Party. F**k Tories signs dotted across university, student unions dominated by the far left - who worry more about solidarity with Peruvian revolutionaries than they do about issues for students on campus - and being called a murderer for expressing right wing opinions - all combine to make it feel as if the Left has a monopoly on university life.

Nonetheless, nowhere is being a shy Tory more encouraged than on social media, specifically Facebook, where any movement away from the "progressive line" is treated as treason. Tories are seen as inherently bad. Those who support fiscal sensibility are painted as devious or tricksters who have pulled the wool over an electorate made out to be naturally left wing. On an event created to "Stop the Tory Coup" one user claimed the election was "a fix" - and started to organise a protest against the democratic outcome.

After the election such self-righteousness continued. One Facebook user claimed that someone was simply "wrong" when a friend posted he thought Britain had made the right decision. Another Facebook user claimed the electorate were "simply not ready for someone who knew what they were doing" in reference to the poor showing by Miliband's party.

John Leisk, from Colchester, a seat that swung to Conservatives against polling, gave what he thought was the reason for him being a shy Tory: " Supporters of Labour and other left wing parties are convinced they have the moral high ground and that any disagreement is inhumane, as a result any confession of Tory support is shouted down and abused." Is it worth the effort? Not really.

I think Janet Daley is a bit too sanguine about the activist trap. The Left benefits when they succeed in shouting people down. If the silent majority remains silent, the next generation gets the impression that those views are invalid. If no one dares defend an idea, it must be indefensible. If no one else expresses an opinion I hold, am I crazy to hold it?

That's why the Left is so insistent on driving conservatives out of positions of cultural influence. Rush Limbaugh and the conservative talk radio revolution he led have been crucial to the morale of ordinary conservatives. A conservative college professor can be a lifeline to a wavering student from a conservative background. A sharp-tongued essayist like Matt Walsh may not make many converts, but he provides reassurance and encouragement to social conservatives by articulating the rationale undergirding our convictions.

The challenge for conservative organizations, activists, and citizens is to find ways to get their messages of encouragement to their fellow conservatives and to defend conservative values in the hearing of persuadable friends, while denying the lefties a venue for their demoralizing efforts. There are technologies available for those who know where to look.

Johnny_Gimble-Texas_Fiddle_Collection.jpg

Legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble died today at the age of 88.

Gimble was hired by Bob Wills for the Texas Playboys in 1949. After a few years on the road, he retired to barbering and playing music on the weekends. But in 1968 he moved to Nashville and made his mark as a well-regarded session musician. Bob Wills recommended Gimble to Merle Haggard for Haggard's tribute album to Wills, and Gimble was on Wills' final album, For the Last Time in 1973. His frequent guest spots on A Prairie Home Companion brought Western Swing fiddle to the awareness of a broader audience. His brilliance at improvisation outshone his contemporaries and stayed bright for well over a half-century. He was also accomplished on mandolin, and he can be heard playing the instrument on many of the Texas Playboys' late '40s, early '50s sides for MGM.

The best tribute I can manage is for you to hear Johnny Gimble playing. Here he is from 1977, with Merle Haggard, Tiny Moore, and Eldon Shamblin:

From 1981, a music-heavy documentary called Gimble's Swing, featuring Eldon Shamblin. (I'm pretty sure there's a glimpse of Tulsa trumpeter Mike Bennett in this show.)

Here's Johnny Gimble fiddling around with Mark O'Connor:

Johnny Gimble plays Bob Wills' part (as he did in the Clint Eastwood movie Honkytonk Man) on San Antonio Rose, with Asleep at the Wheel, and Texas Playboys bandmate Herb Remington on steel guitar:

Here's a 40-minute profile featuring Johnny Gimble telling his own life story:

Can't embed this one, but here's Johnny Gimble playing "Take Me Back to Tulsa" with George Jones and his band.

And finally, from his Texas Fiddle Collection, "Goodnight Waltz":

(Sadly missing from the Internet: The 1981 Austin City Limits episode featuring Johnny Gimble, Jethro Burns, and Tiny Moore, playing swing mandolin, backed by Eldon Shamblin and David Grisman. KLRU sends a takedown notice every time it's posted online.)

Yet another grim commemoration.

Stella Morabito, granddaughter of survivors, writes in The Federalist: 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered by the government of the Ottoman Empire. It was jumpstarted on April 24, 1915, when hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople, arrested, and killed.

The goal was to exterminate every Armenian Christian, whether child, woman, or man. The killings themselves often included all manner of butchery, torture, and humiliation. My grandmother lamented the crucifixion of her father, who was known in the village as a holy man.

Another part of this extermination program involved deportations that forced Armenians out of their homes and basically put them on death marches into the Syrian Desert. Many died of starvation and exhaustion on these caravans. Others succumbed to diseases like typhus in lice-infested camp conditions. Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines. My grandmother's younger sister was taken into a harem....

The starting point was April 24, 1915, with the arrests of community leaders in Constantinople. The killings continued after the war, and included destruction from the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922--which my grandparents also survived. Tens of thousands of Armenians and Greeks lost their lives in that fire and the Armenian and Greek sections of the city were utterly destroyed. By 1923, the killing relented. A chronology of the genocide is here.

Raymond Ibrahim, writing for PJ Media points out that the Ottoman purge included all Christians, not just Armenians:

Today, April 24, we remember how exactly 100 years ago the last historic Muslim caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, tried to cleanse its empire of Christian minorities -- Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks -- even as we stand by watching as the new caliphate, the Islamic State, resumes the genocide.

And in both cases, the atrocities were and are being committed in the name of Islam.

In November, 1914, during WWI, the Ottoman caliphate issued a fatwa, or Islamic decree, proclaiming it a "sacred duty" for all Muslims to "massacre" infidels -- specifically naming the "Christian men" of the Triple Entente, "the enemies of Islam" -- with promises of great rewards in the afterlife.

The same Koran verses that the Islamic State and other jihadi outfits regularly quote permeated the Ottoman fatwa, including: "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them -- seize them, besiege them, and be ready to ambush them" (9:5) and "O you who have believed! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are but friends of each other; and whoever among you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them" (5:51) -- and several other verses that form the Islamic doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity....

As happens to this very day, the Muslims of the Ottoman caliphate, not able to reach or defeat the stronger infidel -- the "Christian men" of Britain, France, and Russia -- satiated their bloodlust on their Christian subjects. And they justified the genocide by projecting the Islamic doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity onto Christians -- saying that, because Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks were Christian, they were naturally aiding the other "Christian men" of the West.

As happens to this day under the new caliphate -- the Islamic State -- the Ottoman caliphate crucified, beheaded, tortured, mutilated, raped, enslaved, and otherwise massacred countless "infidel" Christians. The official number of Armenians killed in the genocide is 1.5 million; hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Assyrians each were also systematically slaughtered (see this document for statistics).

(Although today marks the "Armenian Genocide," often forgotten is that Assyrians and Greeks were also targeted for cleansing by the Ottoman caliphate. The only thing that distinguished Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek subjects of the caliphate from Turkish subjects was that the three former were Christian. As one Armenian studies professor asks, "If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?")

Armenia was the first nation to become officially Christian, in the 3rd century AD. The regions that were later incorporated into the Ottoman Empire included the Holy Land itself, the cradle of Christianity, and the lands through which the apostle Paul journeyed and planted churches. The southwestern part of modern-day Turkey is the site of the seven cities of the Roman Province of Asia to whose churches Christ directs letters in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. It was in the same region that many of the ecumenical councils of early Christianity were held. The lands were part of the Christian Byzantine Empire until their gradual conquest by Muslims.

It's interesting to note that this religious purge began not under the dictatorial rule of the sultan, but during the "Second Constitutional Era," under a democratically elected reformist party.

Stella Morabito concludes:

If we corrupt the language so that we do not acknowledge genocide when it happens--as President Obama just did--then we feed into the expectations of all potential perpetrators that they can easily get away with murder. So we are liable to see genocide and other forms of mass slaughter repeated. No true civilization can afford to falsify the historical record or corrupt the language.

Inscribed on one of the walls of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a stark lesson in this. It is a statement by Adolph Hitler, who rationalized mass slaughter and expected people simply to avert their eyes and forget: "Who, after all, today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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