Monday, February 12, 2018

Cruising the Web

The media and liberals on Twitter had a field day celebrating North Korea at the Olympics. They're particularly excited that Kim Jun Un's sister was there and making a splash. Reuters headlined their story "North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics."
“North Korea clearly appears to be winning the gold,” said Kim Sung-han, who served as Korea’s vice foreign minister in 2012-2013 and who now teaches at Seoul’s Korea University.

“Its delegation and athletes are getting all the spotlight, and Kim Jong Un’s sister is showing elegant smiles before the South Korean public and the world. Even for a moment, it appears to be a normal state.”
CNN's story's headline is "Kim Jong Un's sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics."
If "diplomatic dance" were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un's younger sister would be favored to win gold.

With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea's presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games....

Seen by some as her brother's answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump, Kim, 30, is not only a powerful member of Kim Jong Un's kitchen cabinet but also a foil to the perception of North Korea as antiquated and militaristic.
Sure, her family has run a brutal, authoritarian dictatorship that has been killing its own citizens in prison camps for years when not organizing famines that kills them en masse. But what is that compared to how the media have determined Kim Yo Jong is stealing the show?

The WSJ is entranced
with the North Korean cheerleaders.
The first night of Olympic short-track speedskating in this skating-mad country was always going to be crazy. Then the North Korean cheerleaders showed up....

Sharing a building with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, a dozen rows of young North Korean women performed choreographed chants, sang patriotic songs and waved flags of a unified Korea. They executed seamless wardrobe changes. They led the crowd of 12,000 in rhythmic clapping. And they generally provided a kind of entertainment that no one here thought they had bought a ticket for.
Hmmm. I wonder how many of those cheerleaders would prefer to stay in South Korea. The list of fawning media articles about Kim Jon Un's sister go on and on. BBC tells us that she's "sweet but with a tomboy streak." Awww. Isn't that sweet? The Washington Post refers to her as the "Ivanka Trump of North Korea."
They marveled at her barely-there makeup and her lack of bling. They commented on her plain black outfits and simple purse. They noted the flower-shaped clip that kept her hair back in a no-nonsense style.

Here she was, a political princess, but the North Korean “first sister” had none of the hallmarks of power and wealth that Koreans south of the divide have come to expect. In looks-obsessed South Korea, many 20-something women list plastic surgery and brand-name bags as life goals.

Most of all, Kim Yo Jong was an enigma. Just like them, but nothing like them. A woman with a sphinxlike smile who gave nothing away during her three-day Olympic-related visit to South Korea as brother Kim Jong Un’s special envoy.

“I thought Kim Yo Jong was going to be so serious, but she smiled all the time, so she made a good first impression,” said Kwon Hee-sun, a 29-year-old South Korean woman attending the women’s ice hockey match at the Winter Olympics on Saturday night.

As Bre Payton points out, "Kim Yo Jong’s brother is starving his own people in order to develop nuclear weapons he’s threatening to use against the United States and other countries, but you might not know that about her based on" media headlines.

On Twitter, there were quite a few people cackling about how she stole the show from Mike Pence. Because why not look the vice president of the United States as somehow the loser in celebrity journalism when contrasted with a woman whose family is responsible for millions of people's deaths. Payton points out that the media were poised to go ga-ga over North Korea.
This favorable news coverage of the Hermit Kingdom didn’t come out of a vacuum. Last month, NBC’s Lester Holt visited a luxury ski resort in Masikryong, North Korea, where a crowd of people dressed in matching outfits milled about in the background. They were probably forced to show up and ski in order to make the regime look good, as photo ops with compulsory attendees are a frequent regime tactic to hide the country’s terrible living conditions.

As my colleague John Daniel Davidson pointed out in his critique of Holt’s coverage: “More than 40 percent of the population are malnourished and more than 70 percent rely on food-aid. There is no tourist industry to speak of. The only reason to build such a resort in such a country is to propagate a lie about the deplorable conditions there.”
But somehow, dislike of Trump is leading to favorable coverage of North Korea, perhaps because of the Trump administration's strong stance against North Korea. That is really backwards thinking. But then we've seen similar attitudes towards the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Here is a summary of report on North Korea's treatment of its own citizens from the Committee for Human Rights in NOrth Korea.
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea estimates that North Korea holds as many as 120,000 people in its system of concentration and detention camps, and that 400,000 people have died in these camps from torture, starvation, disease, and execution. These reports, in the context of estimates that North Korea has allowed between 600,000 and 2,500,000 of its people to starve to death while its government squandered the nation’s resources on weapons and luxuries for its ruling elite, suggest that North Korea’s oppression and politically targeted starvation of its people collectively constitute the world’s greatest ongoing atrocity, and almost certainly the most catastrophic anywhere on earth since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979....

The camps do not exist merely to punish and isolate potential dissidents; they are also the foundation of the North Korean regime’s system of domestic terror. The system enforces obedience and suppresses thoughtcrime by threatening not just the life of the dissenter, but also the lives of his loved ones, according to Oh Gyeung Seob, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute:
But, by all means, let's celebrate that society because, you know, Trump.

What does that matter if we can celebrate the juxtaposition of the sweet tomboy sitting near Mike Pence?

She is a leader of a regime that enslaves its own citizens and then sends them to work in other countries. Amnesty International reports,
The government continued to dispatch through state-owned enterprises at least 50,000 people to work in some 40 countries including Angola, China, Kuwait, Qatar and Russia in various sectors including medicine, construction, forestry and catering. Workers did not receive wages directly from employers, but through the North Korean government after significant deductions. Most workers were deprived of information about international or domestic labour laws, and often lacked access in the host countries to any government agencies and other organizations monitoring compliance with or offering assistance in claiming labour rights.

These workers were frequently subjected to excessive working hours and were vulnerable to occupational accidents and diseases.
For all those on the left who oppose capital punishment, how about public Executions North Korea-style?
Some 80 people were publicly executed earlier this month in seven cities in North Korea excluding Pyongyang, the first known large-scale public executions by the Kim Jong-un regime, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The executions occurred on Sunday, Nov. 3, according to a source familiar with internal affairs in the North who recently visited the country.

The people were executed for relatively light transgressions such as watching South Korean movies or distributing pornography.

About 10 people were killed in each city, which included Wonsan in Kangwon Province, Chongjin in North Hamgyong Province, Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province and Pyongsong in South Pyongan.

In Wonsan, eight people were tied to a stakes at a local stadium, had their heads covered with white sacks and were shot with a machine gun, according to the source.

According to witnesses of the execution, the source said, Wonsan authorities gathered some 10,000 people, including children, at Shinpoong Stadium, which has a capacity of 30,000 people, and forced them to watch.

“I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards.”

The Wonsan victims were mostly charged with watching or illegally trafficking South Korean videos, being involved in prostitution or being in possession of a Bible.

Accomplices or relatives of the executed people who were implicated in their alleged crimes were sent to prison camps.
Remember, her brother's regime has threatened nuclear attack on the United States. But those cheerleaders were cute and so synchronized so forget all that.

It's moments like this when the media are truly sickening. These facts about North Korea aren't difficult to find. A few minutes on Google will turn up all the information anyone would need on how to characterize the country that Kim Yo Jong's family has been running for decades. Knowing that she and the North Korean athletes would be there, could anyone in the media prepared a bit of that information to lead off their coverage of her attendance there instead of this whitewashing celebrity lovefest?

Bethany Mandel adds this rebuke to all those losing it over Kim Jong Un's sister.
The enemy of your enemy is not your friend. Kim Yo-jong, deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of North Korea, and sister of Kim Jong-un, is no exception.

This is, apparently, news to the news media. As the Winter Olympics opened in South Korea, US reporters and analysts gave Kim the TMZ treatment, going so far as to liken her to Ivanka Trump.

That Ivanka comparison, by the way, brought to you by The Washington Post. A dispatch on Kim from Anna Fifield began, “They marveled at her barely-there makeup and her lack of bling. They commented on her plain black outfits and simple purse. They noted the flower-shaped clip that kept her hair back in a no-nonsense style.”

Strange reading a red carpet-like report about a member of a regime that has concentration camps the size of Los Angeles, where children have been secretly photographed starving in the streets and whose leader uses anti-aircraft weaponry to execute his political enemies.

Fifield’s colleague Philip Bump, a national correspondent for The Washington Post, tweeted a GIF of Kim giving Vice President Mike Pence “deadly side-eye.”

Unavailable for comment on that side-eye? Otto Warmbier, an American college student brutally tortured and killed by the North Korean regime last year. His father Fred was a guest of Pence’s at the Olympics, and was present also at the State of the Union.
But somehow, the father of an American victim is much less enticing than the sister of a murderous dictator. Go figure that one out. And the media's interest in a real victim of North Korea is fleeting at best.
Speaking of which: Recently there was a North Korean spectator worthy of our admiration at a major event — the State of the Union. The North Korean Ji Seong-ho, a defector living in South Korea.

Inexplicably, just a few weeks after the president told Seong-ho’s story, which included having his limbs run over by a train while scavenging for coal to try to feed his family, the same media who reported on his triumph are whitewashing the regime that tortured Ji’s father to death when he was caught trying to defect.

The picture of North Korean triumph is not a member of the Kim family giving our vice president “side-eye,” nor is it singing cheerleaders in the stands of the Olympics. It’s that of Ji Seong-ho holding the wooden crutches he used to escape over thousands of miles, across China and southeast Asia over his head in the US Capitol, after being honored by the president of the United States for his courage.
But that was Trump's State of the Union so the media are quick to push that image down a memory hole while fawning over Kim Yo Jong.

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Andrew Sullivan has a poignant essay in New York Magazine arguing that "We All Live on Campus Now." He argues against some of the nonchalance people have had to the trend on college campuses to limit freedom of speech in case someone might feel triggered.
Over the last year, the most common rebuttal to my intermittent coverage of campus culture has been: Why does it matter? These are students, after all. They’ll grow up once they leave their cloistered, neo-Marxist safe spaces. The real world isn’t like that. You’re exaggerating anyway. And so on.
However, Sullivan argues that the same culture of shutting down controversial opinions that we've seen on college campuses has now spread to the workplace and the culture at large. He makes the depressing observation that our culture is rejecting having a meritocratic system.
The idea of individual merit — as opposed to various forms of unearned “privilege” — is increasingly suspect. The Enlightenment principles that formed the bedrock of the American experiment — untrammeled free speech, due process, individual (rather than group) rights — are now routinely understood as mere masks for “white male” power, code words for the oppression of women and nonwhites. Any differences in outcome for various groups must always be a function of “hate,” rather than a function of nature or choice or freedom or individual agency. And anyone who questions these assertions is obviously a white supremacist himself.
I think we saw the roots of this when society embraced affirmative action in order to bring about diversity instead of the previous idea that affirmative action is about redressing historic discrimination. Once we made that switch, merit took second place to some sort of mythical diversity based on race that would be possible to achieve.

Sullivan goes on to say that polarization has made this rejection of meritocracy more intense.
The idea of individual merit — as opposed to various forms of unearned “privilege” — is increasingly suspect. The Enlightenment principles that formed the bedrock of the American experiment — untrammeled free speech, due process, individual (rather than group) rights — are now routinely understood as mere masks for “white male” power, code words for the oppression of women and nonwhites. Any differences in outcome for various groups must always be a function of “hate,” rather than a function of nature or choice or freedom or individual agency. And anyone who questions these assertions is obviously a white supremacist himself.
As Sullivan points out, Trump has played a role in the partisanship of identity politics, but it was happening before Trump came down that escalator. Remember how every expression of dislike for Obama was taken by the left as revealing deep racism.

The same efforts to shut down any sort of departure from leftist thought has now spread into general society. He gives the example of the campaign against Katie Roiphe for perhaps, maybe publishing an articles in Harper's that would, as rumor had it, out the author of the "Sh***y Men list." If someone objected to an anonymous online list including accusations against men that might destroy their careers and reputations with no attempt to separate out what is true or not true then that person objecting must be destroyed and the magazine daring to publish her essay must censor her work.
And the impulse to intimidate, vilify, ruin, and abuse a writer for her opinions chills open debate. This is a real-world echo of the campus habit of disrupting speakers, no-platforming conservatives, and shouting people down. But now this reflexive hostility to speech is actually endorsed by writers and editors. Journalism itself has become a means of intimidating journalists.
Journalists will fear being labeled a racist or sexist and so they just silence themselves.
If voicing an “incorrect” opinion can end your career, or mark you for instant social ostracism, you tend to keep quiet. This silence on any controversial social issue is endemic on college campuses, but it’s now everywhere. Think of the wonderful SNL sketch recently, when three couples at a restaurant stumble onto the subject of Aziz Ansari. No one feels capable of saying anything in public.
We have now become a society in which only certain people may make any comment about certain subjects. All the rest of us should just shut up.
This is compounded by the idea that only a member of a minority group can speak about racism or homophobia, or that only women can discuss sexual harassment. The only reason this should be the case is if we think someone’s identity is more important than the argument they might want to make. And that campus orthodoxy is now the culture’s as a whole.
That's a very dismaying idea. And remember, only those blacks or women who toe the leftist line are allowed to speak. Remember how Clarence Thomas is often called an Uncle Tom for being a conservative or how Gloria Steinem called Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison a "female impersonator"? So you have to be a member of the right minority group and have the correct ideology to be allowed to speak.

And other markings of college culture have migrated to the culture at large.
Microaggressions? How else do you explain how the glorious defenestration of horrific perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment so quickly turned into a focus on an unwanted hug or an off-color remark? The whole cultural Marxist idea of a microaggression, after all, is that it’s on a spectrum with macro-aggression. Patriarchy and white supremacy — which define our world — come in micro, mini and macro forms — but it’s all connected. A bad date is just one end of a patriarchal curve that ends with rape. And that’s why left-feminists are not just interested in exposing workplace abuse or punishing sex crimes, but in policing even consensual sex for any hint of patriarchy’s omnipresent threat.

Privacy? Forget about it. Traditionally, liberals have wanted to see politics debated without regard for the private lives of those in the fray — because personal details can distract from the cogency of the argument. But cultural Marxists see no such distinction. In the struggle against patriarchy, a distinction between the public and private makes no sense. In fact, policing private life — the personal is political, remember — is integral to advancing social justice. Ansari is a test case. I have yet to read an article that accounts for the violation of his dignity. There’s a reason that totalitarian states will strip prisoners of their clothing. Left-feminists delight in doing this metaphorically to targeted men — effectively exposing them naked to public ridicule and examination because it both traumatizes the object and more importantly sits out there as a warning to others.

Due process? Real life is beginning to mimic college tribunals. When the perpetrator of an anonymous list accusing dozens of men of a whole range of sexual misdeeds is actually celebrated by much of mainstream media (see this fawning NYT profile), you realize that we are living in another age of the Scarlet Letter. Moira Donegan has yet to express misgivings about possibly smearing the innocent — because the cause is far more important than individual fairness. Besides, if they’re innocent, they’ll be fine! Ezra Klein has openly endorsed campus rules that could frame some innocent men. One of the tweets in response to some of my recent writing on this has stuck in my mind ever since: “can anyone justify why the POSSIBLE innocence of men is so much more important than the DEFINITE safety and comfort of women?” And yet this principle of preferring ten guilty people to go free rather than one innocent person to be found guilty was not so long ago a definition of Western civilization.

Treating people as individuals rather than representatives of designated groups? Almost every corporation now has affirmative action for every victim-group in hiring and promotion. Workplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago. Voice dissent from this worldview and you’ll be designated a bigot and fired (see James Damore at Google). The media is out front on this too. Just as campuses have diversity tsars, roaming through every department to make sure they are in line, we now have a “gender editor” at the New York Times, Jessica Bennett. Her job is to “curate, elevate and expand gender reporting” throughout the newsroom. Among her previous work are forums on male abuse of power.
It's all very depressing and true. Everything seems to revolve around identity. Everyone's identity determines whether they are allowed to speak or must be silenced.
Many media organizations now have various private, invitation-only Slack groups among their staffers — and they are often self-segregated into various gender and racial categories along classic campus “safe space” lines. No men are allowed in women’s slack; no non-p.o.c.s in the people-of-color slack; and so on. And, of course, there are no such venues for men — in this Orwellian world, some groups are more equal than others. At The Atlantic, the identity obsession even requires exhaustive analyses of the identity of sources quoted in stories....

Objective truth? Ha! The culture is now saturated with the concept of “your own truth” — based usually on your experience of race and gender. In the culture, it is now highly controversial for individuals in one racial/gender group to write about or portray anyone outside it — because there is no art that isn’t rooted in identity. Movies are constantly pummeled by critics not for being bad movies but for being “problematic” on social justice. Books are censored in advance by sensitivity readers to conform with “social justice” protocols. As for objective reality, I was at an event earlier this week — not on a campus — when I made what I thought was the commonplace observation that Jim Crow laws no longer exist. Uncomprehending stares came back at me. What planet was I on? Not only does Jim Crow still exist, but slavery itself never went away! When I questioned this assertion by an African-American woman, I was told it was “not my place” to question her reality. After all, I’m white.
So being a gay liberal doesn't save Sullivan because he's also white and that means he must keep silent. No wonder he's depressed. But kudos to him for not allowing himself to be silenced and being willing to speak out on this truly dismaying trend in our society.

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Here are some other examples of how PC we have become. In England, there was an almost successful attempt to keep an art gallery from exhibiting a 19th century painting by the pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse because it is supposedly sexist.

Mary Katharine Ham explains what the objection was.
It’s certainly sexual in nature, probably a PG-13 or even R scene if one had to subject it to the ratings of the Motion Pictures Association. But it wasn’t religious groups, armies of homeschooling moms, or puritanical conservative activists who wanted the painting removed.

No, it was the new puritan — the woke activist.

The painting, which hung in a room entitled “In Pursuit of Beauty,” was removed “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.” The gallery’s curator felt a “sense of embarrassment” that the 19th century art displayed in the room depicted women as passive objects and femme fatale figures without proper modern #TimesUp and #MeToo context....

Here’s how the removal of the piece went down — in the most eye-rollingly woke, modern art professor way possible. A professor and five members of a “drag collective” walk into an art gallery to talk about viewing art in a non-binary way....

“The reason why I [Sonia Boyce, an artist and professor who organized the removal] invited five performance artists to Manchester Art Gallery last month — Lasana Shabazz, and the drag collective Family Gorgeous: Anna Phylactic, Venus Vienna, Liquorice Black and Cheddar Gorgeous — was to ask them to respond artistically to various works in these historical galleries with an audience of gallery-goers. This was to help us consider these artworks in a non-binary way. The takedown of Hylas and the Nypmhs happened at the end of this event. I think people who weren’t there imagine a rather raucous, militant action, but in truth the taking down was sedate and quite low-key. Once the painting was off the wall, people continued mingling.”
Apparently, taking down art that has been deemed impermissible is now some sort of"art in action." Censorship is now art, get it?

This led to a lot of ridicule online and in the British press. So eventually, a week later the gallery put the painting back up and the gallery is thrilled with the "discussion" that the art removal generated.

And the censorship rolls on as Duluth public schools pulled To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer from the school curriculum. The fear is that some students might be offended by being exposed to literature depicting our country's racial history.
District officials in Duluth, Minnesota, schools have removed "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" from the required reading list because of racial slurs in the books, CBS Minnesota reports. Michael Cary, the district's director of curriculum and instruction, told The Duluth News Tribune the books will still be optional reading and available in the school libraries, but they'll be replaced next year by other books that touch the same topics without language that makes students uncomfortable.

"We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn't require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs," Cary said.

While administrators said that no single incident prompted the reading list change, there have been complaints about the books' use of a racial slur in the past.
Of course, teachers can't be expected nowadays to provide the context to teach students what the authors were doing in using the racial slurs. The fact that these are two of the greatest works of American literature in denouncing racism is irrelevant.

A lot of literature makes readers uncomfortable because they deal with uncomfortable themes. In fact, I'd argue that most works that are generally considered great literature revolve around themes and characters that will make readers uncomfortable. The students in Duluth schools are the real losers in this whole story.

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Oh, geez! Do we now have to worry about gender equality in dog shows? Apparently, female show dogs have to cope with a glass ceiling.
After the German shepherd Rumor won the top prize at last year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York, she had her first litter of puppies and retired from competition, like many female show dogs.

By contrast, most top male show dogs can keep competing for years, and it is no coincidence that they also win “Best in Show” in the prestigious annual competition far more often than females, breeders and handlers said as they prepared for this year’s show, which opens Monday, Feb. 12 in New York.

“Now she won’t show again, she’s done,” said Gail Miller Bisher, a spokeswoman for the Westminster Kennel Club, referring to Rumor. “But males can keep going. They can be used as stud and continue showing and keep their coat and keep their shape of body and all that.”

Female dogs, known in pure-bred circles as “bitches,” have snared Best in Show at Westminster 39 times since the award was first given in 1907. Males, known simply as “dogs,” have been victorious 71 times, almost twice as often.

A dog’s peak age for competition is 3 to 5 years old, which also happens to be prime breeding age for females, said Kimberly Calvacca, a professional handler and breeder from Westbury, New York.
It's just the male keeping the female down. And that's not all. Just like women everywhere, biology is also working against the female dogs.
A female competitor’s “heat” cycle brings changes in temperament and hormones that can also hurt its chances of winning the world-renowned show for pure-bred canines.

Many handlers and owners will not show a female during its cycle, which comes about every six months, because “they’re moody,” said Wendy Kellerman, a handler and breeder from Hauppauge, New York.
Why is this even an article? Do you think that the dogs are worried about it and are ready to march with pussy hats?