by John Kirke 7/6/15
Friday, June 12th, already seems to be relegated to the distant past, overshadowed in the following fortnight by the mass shooting in Charleston, the unhinged reaction of the popular culture, and a set of Supreme Court rulings that were nothing less than tyrannical.
After years of being told that we must not rush to judgment and indict an entire group for the murderous madness of an individual, “right-wing” white Americans were told to take responsibility for this particular mass murder. This was despite that fact that the murderer had previously posted a picture of himself torching an American flag, an act that is unthinkable at a Tea Party event but not inappropriate at Occupy protests. It was an act that was reproduced, ironically enough, at a Charleston protest of the shooting.
When the murderer’s choice of weapons made a push for gun control less feasible, the Two Minutes Hate crowd turned its attention to a barely related flag, just days before another controversial flag became ubiquitous on social media and even government property – a flag that is, at least arguably, less about pride for gays and more about prejudice against Christians and other traditionalists, a flag now being waved in the celebration of increasingly explicit threats to free speech, free assembly, religious freedom, and the right to self-government.
With three separate rulings over a two-day period, the Supreme Court let the mask slip and made it impossible to argue that we’re still a constitutional republic: they rewrote law from the bench, declared that mere statistical disparity is proof of “unconscious discrimination,” and claimed that a Civil War amendment somehow requires an androgynous definition of marriage at every level of government.
Mark Steyn began the paperback version of After America with a line about how bankruptcy hits: “Gradually, then suddenly.”
The last few weeks, things have been moving very suddenly indeed, but that Friday in mid-June still stands out for me, for two events that had me nearly delirious from laughter.
First was Mark Steyn’s keynote address at the tenth International Conference on Climate Change. I saw the live stream and shared the video with my wife, who found it hilarious as well. For a man facing a ridiculous civil suit for defamation, Steyn was simply ballsy.
He didn’t just make fun of Michael Mann’s lawyer, who tried to sneak into the conference without paying, he also turned his attention to a legal system that evidently never heard that justice delayed is justice denied.
Reading from prepared notes, Steyn turned to his own attorney and confirmed that he was advised to take out his “mocking and sneering at the incompetent DC courts,” so he turned the page without reading it.
Then he turned another page. And another. And another.
Like a master comedian at a Friar’s Club roast, he turned five pages without saying a word and communicated exactly how he feels about the judges presiding over his case.
(The contrast between Steyn and his codefendants National Review is striking. Just a few weeks ago, Mark Steyn highlighted the fact that, in their latest brief, NR claims to be only an “interactive computer service provider” and not Mark Steyn’s publisher. This might explain why he has been omitted from any brief history lessons in NRO’s fundraising pitches, and why his author page isn’t listed among “All Authors.” Steyn hasn’t been published there since 2013, but Mark Levin and James Bowman have evidently been absent since 2010, as has Dinesh D’Souza since 2009, and they’re still listed.)
The second laugh riot was the Rachel Dolezal story: the news broke the previous night, but the story broke the Internet that Friday morning, and I don’t think Ben Shapiro was too presumptuous in tweeting that the story is proof of God’s love for us and a literally divine act of trolling the left in light of their embracing Bruce Jenner’s claim to identify as a woman.
Like the end to the 2013 Iron Bowl, the Dolezal story is almost too good to be true. A lily-white woman transformed herself to pretend to be black, becoming a college teacher in black studies and the president of a local chapter of the NAACP – in an area with very few blacks – and complaining that a white woman benefitted from the black struggle in writing the book on which the movie The Help was based. She evidently sued Howard University for discriminating against her as a white woman, and it appears she later fabricated evidence of being the victim of racial intimidation through hate mail.
(Apart from postal workers, she was apparently the only person with a key to the mailbox, and the supposed hate mail had no postal marks indicating that it was actually processed and delivered by the USPS. There’s a fine line between genius and madness, but that doesn’t mean that every loony is especially bright.)
The following week, Dolezal doubled down and identified as black in a live interview on NBC’s Today Show. Whether she believes it or not, it was the only smart play and the only possible way to save face (if you’ll pardon the expression). She resigned from the NAACP and is evidently no longer working for Eastern Washington University, but it’s hard to imagine that she’ll never make the news again.
Look behind the hilarity, and you can see the tragedy of a very disturbed woman, alienated from her biological family and marrying someone who more authentically belongs to the group with which she is so eager to identify. (About the latter, I can’t help but see parallels to Barack Obama and Jeb Bush.) But the story is still amusing for the pretzel-twisting effects it has had on the leftists who have insisted that being black is never a position of privilege – and who now claim that sex is socially constructed while race is biologically determined.
Mark Steyn commented on the Dolezal affair, first on the Michael Graham radio show out of Atlanta, and then on his own site, noting that no one apparently wants to be a white heterosexual male, but an even more interesting feature of society is how few want to be like Mark Steyn.
That’s the profundity behind the comedy, highlighted by the contrast of the nearly simultaneous speech and viral news story.
On the one hand, a man was being deliberately funny about the very serious subject of political speech, and we conservatives were laughing with him.
On the other hand, a woman was being quite serious about her transparently ridiculous claims; she wasn’t laughing at all, and so we were laughing at her.
Mark Steyn is the satirist standing up for the truth, and Rachel Dolezal is a real-world satire living out a lie.
While few of us are as delusional as Dolezal, far too many indulge and even celebrate the delusions of political correctness. And while hardly anyone else could credibly rival Mark Steyn’s laser wit, far too few of us emulate his courage in expressing very inconvenient truths.
There’s a line from the title track of David Gray’s first album, A Century Ends.
Be careful what you say
Because reality offends
Just sit back and let your soul decay
As a century ends
Mark Steyn takes the opposite approach, living a public life of almost reckless integrity.
His example is literally inspiring.
I’ve recently clarified my beliefs about God’s particular purpose for me, that I find fulfillment most when I’m meeting needs in truth, and I’ve also realized that I’ve been skittish about writing online under my real name.
And yet, my writing for Stubborn Things seems disconnected from my life because I publish anonymously, and I’m less inclined to share my writing with friends on social media, when I could permanently document my thoughts here and point people to them later.
I understand that there’s safety in numbers, that the PC mobs wouldn’t have power over the culture if more people fought back, but a social movement begins with individual initiative.
But even if I walk alone – or nearly alone, with my supportive wife and the excellent writers here – I can walk with greater integrity. I can be more bold in my defense of what is true, what is noble, and what is simply sane.
That begins with my putting my own name to this essay, and I hope I follow through with more regular writing here: an otherwise somber Independence Day weekend can be celebrated with this simple act of defiance.
I like the pseudonym “John Kirke.” It has a ring to it, and I’ll keep using it when I’m inspired to do so, but I’ll no longer hide behind it.
I’ll stand up for myself, writing as myself – Lawrence Bubba Beasley – and I rededicate myself to this new notion, conceived in comedy, that a risky life defending the truth is the only life worth living and is the only state of being that deserves to be called “alive.”
John R.W. Kirke is a pseudonym of a Christian husband, father, and engineer who has written elsewhere under other names, including “Lawrence” in the comments at National Review Online. He remains deeply moved by the unpublished memoirs of Professor D. Kirke (1888-1949). • (694 views)