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:: The Rule of Reason ::

:: Sunday, August 02, 2015 ::

The Myth of Muslim Male Superiority 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 2:33 PM

On July 29th Jihad Watch ran an interesting article by Ralph Sidway of the Facing Islam blog, “’The Nightmare’ – Europa and the Incubus.” The Gothic painting illustrating his column, by German-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli, depicts an incubus sitting atop the limp and helpless body of Europa.  The mythical Europa is more notoriously noted for having been carried off by Zeus in the guise of a bull. Sidway dwells in the metaphor that Europe is instead being conquered and ravished by an ugly ogre or incubus – or by Muslims. It has been abducted, as well, and is daily ravished by Islam. He begins:

Sometimes an image — a metaphor — is much more effective at presenting truth than even the most persuasive argument or laying out of facts.  ‘The Nightmare’ is such an image.

Europeans may still have some dim collective memory of the Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula (Spain) in the early 8th century, of Islam’s nearly successful colonization of the rest of Western Europe (Gaul, etc.), of centuries of Muslim raids on Italy, of Muslim piracy and dominance in the Mediterranean Sea, of repeated Muslim attempts to invade Europe through the Balkans, and of the eventual fall of Constantinople in 1453, and of Turkish crimes against the Greeks during the 18th and 19th centuries and the Armenian Genocide in the early 20th….

The metaphor of the demonic Incubus (Islam) preying upon the paralyzed sleeper (Europa) is hardly a stretch, as this particular demon was believed to engage in sexual activity with its victim, trying to foster a hybrid human-demon child, and if unable to do that, then to bring about madness, demon possession, sickness and ultimately death to its host.

It was the mention of the belief in the incubus’s sexual activity that caused me to wonder why no student or scholar of Islam had ever much investigated the Muslim’s preoccupation with the rape of Western and other non-Muslim women. Possibly a psychological study of the condition has been produced; I don’t claim to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the ugly and sordid facts of Islam.

The brutal treatment of the Yazidis is a case in point. The Yazidis are between dark and fair complexioned, but have blue or green eyes. It is their captive women who are valued the most in ISIS slave auctions. They are either” married” off to ISIS fighters or held prisoner in ISIS brothels, guarded by armed, burqa-clad women who are mostly fanatical Nazi-like converts to Islam and who are as cruel and callous as the ISIS fighters who rape the Yazidis. ISIS has stated that it wants to exterminate the Yazidis, to “erase their blood line.” Neither the captives nor their captors are much interested in a debate on whether or not Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio presented a true picture of Turkey and Islam, or if Muslims of both sexes were honestly and accurately portrayed in Amadeus’s Turkish finale.

It is reported that between sixty and seventy of these girls and women commit suicide every month rather than endure more savagery or have the fighters’ babies.

Defenders of Islam claim that its adherents and its doctrines are not “racist,” even though racist tenets are rife throughout Islamic texts, such as in the Koran and the Hadith (Mohammad’s sayings). The camel’s nose in the tent of those Islamic denials is the fact of the institutionalized slavery of black Africans that predated Western institutionalized slavery (which was abolished; Islam has never actually abolished it, and won't).

The next day Jihad Watch published Raymond Ibrahim’s “Why Muslim Rapists Prefer Blondes: A History.” This article first appeared on Ibrahim’s site, together with an Orientalist-style painting** of a naked Caucasian slave being ogled and sized up by three Arab sheiks. (The artist’s name was not noted on the site.)  In drawing a comparison between Byzantium and the modern West, in the context of “why Muslims prefer blondes,” Ibrahim begins:

The Muslim penchant to target “white” women for sexual exploitation—an epidemic currently plaguing Europe, especially Britain and Scandinavia—is as old as Islam itself, and even traces back to Muhammad.

Much literary evidence attests to this in the context of Islam’s early predations on Byzantium (for centuries, Christendom’s easternmost bulwark against the jihad).  According to Ahmad M. H. Shboul (author of “Byzantium and the Arabs: The Image of the Byzantines as Mirrored in Arabic Literature”) Christian Byzantium was the “classic example of the house of war,” or Dar al-Harb—that is, the quintessential realm that needs to be conquered by jihad.  Moreover, Byzantium was seen “as a symbol of military and political power and as a society of great abundance.”

The similarities between pre-modern Islamic views of Byzantium and modern Islamic views of the West—powerful, affluent, desirable, and the greatest of all infidels—should be evident.  But they do not end here.  To the medieval Muslim mind, Byzantium was further representative of “white people”—fair haired/eyed Christians, or, as they were known in Arabic, Banu al-Asfar, “children of yellow” (reference to blonde hair).

It’s noteworthy that in the course of investigating (or not investigating much) the Rotherham Muslim sex slavery of British girls,

A local police officer aptly illuminated the reasons for the cover-up. "They were running scared of the race issue… there is no doubt that in Rotherham, this has been a problem with Pakistani men for years and years,” the officer explained. "People were scared of being called racist.” But the Muslims targeted their victims on the basis of race.

So, they were  also afraid of calling the Muslim criminals racists, even though these dark-skinned Pakistanis were targeting white British schoolgirls? This is how political correctness can destroy men’s minds.  It can neutralize the willingness to make moral judgments.

What is one of the sources of this brand of racism? Mohammad, of course. As Ibrahim relates, quoting an Arabic writer:

Continues Shboul:

“The Byzantines as a people were considered as fine examples of physical beauty, and youthful slaves and slave-girls of Byzantine origin were highly valued….The Arab’s appreciation of the Byzantine female has a long history indeed.  For the Islamic period, the earliest literary evidence we have is a hadith (saying of the Prophet).  Muhammad is said to have addressed a newly converted [to Islam] Arab: “Would you like the girls of Banu al-Asfar?”  Not only were Byzantine slave girls sought after for caliphal and other palaces (where some became mothers of future caliphs), but they also became the epitome of physical beauty, home economy, and refined accomplishments.   The typical Byzantine maiden who captures the imagination of litterateurs and poets, had blond hair, blue or green eyes, a pure and healthy visage, lovely breasts, a delicate waist, and a body that is like camphor or a flood of dazzling light.”

While the essence of the above excerpt is true, the reader should not be duped by its overly “romantic” tone. Written for a Western academic publication by an academic of Muslim background, the essay is naturally euphemistic to the point of implying that being a sex slave was desirable—as if her Arab owners were enamored devotees who merely doted over and admired her beauty from afar.

Indeed, Muhammad asked a new convert “Would you like the girls of Banu al-Asfar?” as a way to entice him to join the jihad and reap its rewards—which, in this case, included the possibility of enslaving and raping blonde Byzantine women—not as some idealistic discussion on beauty.

Or raping and impregnating blue and green eyed Yazidi women. ISIS fighters don’t patronize the brothels to have civilized tea-and-crumpet discussions with the captives about their beauty and the question of whether or not a Muslim’s “right hand” can possess any of them. As Ibrahim notes:

Thus a more critical reading of Shboul’s aforementioned excerpt finds that European slave girls were not “highly valued” or “appreciated” as if they were precious statues—they were held out as sexual trophies to entice Muslims to the jihad.

As Pamela Geller notes in one of her Atlas Shrugs  columns,

“Prosperous are the believers who in their prayers are humble and from idle talk turn away and at almsgiving are active and guard their private parts save from their wives and what their right hands own then being not blameworthy.” (Quran 23:1-6)

Those whom their “right hands own” (Quran 4:3, 4:24, 33:50) are slaves, and inextricable from the concept of Islamic slavery as a whole is the concept of sex slavery, which is rooted in Islam’s devaluation of the lives of non-Muslims.

Ibrahim subsequently points out the fallacies and fantasies of the Islamic view of Byzantium and of Byzantium women.

Moreover, the idea that some sex slaves became mothers to future caliphs is meaningless since in Islam’s patriarchal culture, mothers—Muslim or non-Muslim—were irrelevant in lineage and had no political status.   And talk of “litterateurs and poets” and “a body that is like camphor or a flood of dazzling light” is further anachronistic and does a great disservice to reality:  These women were—as they still are—sex slaves, treated no differently from the many slaves of the Islamic State today.

For example, during a recent sex slave auction held by the Islamic State, blue and green eyed Yazidi girls were much coveted and fetched the highest price.  Even so, these concubines are being cruelly tortured.  In one instance, a Muslim savagely beat his Yazidi slave’s one year old child until she agreed to meet all his sexual demands.

Islam proclaims that the rape of infidel women is not the fault of Muslim men – who are portrayed as morally and even racially superior to everyone else – but that of the infidel women who shamelessly flaunt their beauty, thereby advertising their alleged promiscuity and immorality, and become “exposed meat” that causes Muslims to lose their self-control.  For the infidel women, there is no forgiveness; for the Muslim male, there is plenty of dispensation to be found in Islamic texts, because he’s superior and privileged by virtue of being Muslim, so his raping an infidel woman is no more a crime or a lapse in his morality  than his raping a ewe.

Ibrahim’s article is broad in scope and extremely informative. After having read it, I left a comment on both his site and on Jihad Watch, and this comment comes closer to the subject of my own column:

About the subject of Muslims preferring to rape/own/enslave white women, whether they're captives of ISIS or in Europe and Britain, especially blondes (remember Lara Logan's experience in Cairo?): The ostensible motive for it is to destroy the good for being the good. To despoil beauty. The second aspect of these crimes hasn't been dwelt on much, which is the fact that these Muslim men consider themselves as unclean and unworthy as a fundamental tenet of Islamic metaphysics, and regard the act of rape as a means to consciously befoul beauty with their own persons. This is another reason why Islam is evil.

To qualify the contention that “these Muslim men consider themselves as unclean and unworthy” is the much-noised Islamic assertion and contradiction that Muslims are superior to all others of other faiths and races (even though Islam is not a race). But, superior in which respect? The Muslim male initially regards himself as foul and decrepit. This is a notion (or incubus) of Original Sin shared by Islam and Christianity; Islam  doubtless cadged it from Christianity, which predated Islam by about 500 years, just as Islam cadged elements of other religions from the 7th century onward, including, significantly, the pagan moon god, Allah. Being an imperfect plaything of Islam’s Allah necessitates a Muslim male’s needing to observe a strict moral code that will keep him on the “straight and narrow” path to Islamic virtue and “perfection” and “purity” with the expectation of Allah’s praise.

And, it’s okay to wander from the “straight and narrow” to rape infidel women, especially blondes. They deserve the treatment. It’s Allah’s will. Nay, his command.

I mentioned Lara Logan in my comment.  In an ABC interview about her rape and experiences in 2011 in Tahrir Square, Cairo, she reveals that it wasn’t just the rape that was dooming her to death. It was Muslim men trying to kill her in the most tortuous way possible:

Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who was sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo's Tahrir Square the night that longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, opened up about the brutal attack in an emotional interview on "60 Minutes" Sunday. The reporter said she decided to go public to call attention to sexual violence against female journalists, offering a tearful recollection of the horrific night she thought would be her last.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," Logan told CBS News' Scott Pelley. "I thought, 'Not only am I going to die, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever.'"

Logan said her clothes were torn off and her muscles were agonizingly stretched as she was separated from her crew and swallowed into the 200-to-300-strong mob. She recalled the flashes of cell phone cameras taking pictures of her naked body as her merciless attackers raped her with their hands.

"I didn't even know that they were beating me with flagpoles and sticks and things because I couldn't even feel that because I think the sexual assault was all I could feel, was their hands raping me over and over and over again," Logan said in the interview….

"They were tearing my body in every direction at this point, tearing my muscles. And they were trying to tear off chunks of my scalp, they had my head in different directions."  Logan said she hoped her screams would stop her assailants, but they only provoked them. "Because the more I screamed, it turned them into a frenzy," she said. [Italics mine]

These details are important. For it isn’t just a matter of sexual gratification that a Muslim will rape an infidel woman. It is an issue of destroying the good for being the good, and a Muslim male in a sexual predator mode will want to accomplish the obliteration of his victim in as painful a way as possible. The screams of Lara Logan – and those of any other infidel woman in Britain, Scandinavia, and the Mideast – are integral to the Muslim rapist’s sense of nihilist efficacy.

There is a scene in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged that illustrates this point dramatically. John Galt, the scientist hero, is being tortured by a government-built machine with electrical shocks calculated not to kill him but to send pulses of agony through his body. One of the torturers isn’t satisfied with Galt’s response to the pain:

“Go ahead!” cried Taggart. “What are you waiting for? Can’t you make the current stronger? He hasn’t even screamed yet!”… Taggart was staring at {Galt’s body] intently, yet his eyes seemed glazed and dead, but around that inanimate stare the muscles of his face were pulled into an obscene caricature of enjoyment.*

Muslim men – and especially Muslim rapists – are not virile in the usual sense.  A virile man is someone like Sean Connery’s James Bond, and is seen as such by men and women alike. Rand’s heroes Francisco d’Anconia and Howard Roark, as well as John Galt, are virile. In the sex act, they celebrate their lives, their values, their selves as living, rational beings who love life. The women they “conquer” are their equals in spirit who also view sex as a celebration.

Muslim men, however (and this observation applies equally to non-Muslim rapists), are maquettes. They are half-formed creatures trapped inside the physical bodies of men. They have no values or selves to celebrate. Their notion of manhood and virility is one of nihilistic conquest, of force, of proving the efficacy of their capacity to destroy or cause pain.

Their only sense of “enjoyment” is in the act of killing. ISIS has sent us numerous beheading and gun barrel to the head videos that demonstrate that aspect of compliance with Koranic imperatives.

For the ISIS rapists, for the British and European Muslim rapists, the sex act is not a means to celebrate life, but to celebrate death, and the potency of their evil.

*Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton, 35th anniversary edition, 1992.  pp. 1142-1143

**Orientalist paintings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, while exquisitely executed and accurate in many details, romanticized the Islamic and Mideast worlds, overlooking the harsh realities of especially the Muslim slave markets. See, for example, Kristian Davies’s Orientalists: Western Artists in Arabia, the Sahara, Persia and India, or The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, by Nicholas Tromans.

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:: Friday, July 31, 2015 ::

A Matriarchy of Feminist Writers 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 7:18 PM

Powell’s Books is an Oregon bookstore chain with an affiliated store in Chicago. Its main store is in Portland. It is New York City’s Strand Bookstore of the West. Each of these stores boasts miles and floors of new and used books. It is easy to spend a whole day in one of these stores, once lured inside. I visited the Portland store once, but spent many happy hours in The Strand.

Powell’s recently posted a promotional ad on its site, “25 Women to read before you die.” The list was prefaced with:

Below you'll find our list — compiled following lively debate by Powell's staff — of 25 women you absolutely must read in your lifetime.

In one sense, singling out a small group of female writers as eminently worthy of attention feels like an injustice to a gender who has published an immeasurable amount of profound, enduring literature. At the same time, recognizing great female authors is an exercise we here at Powell's are dedicated to undertaking again and again — emphatically, enthusiastically, unapologetically.

And so we present to you 25 female writers we admire for their vision, their fearlessness, their originality, and their impact on the literary world and beyond. To get you started, we've included a book recommendation for each author. -

Frankly, with few exceptions, I had never heard of most of these writers until now. I’ve heard of Adrienne Rich because her name keeps popping up in the strangest places. She was a lesbian poet (poetess?). Donna Tartt’s name was recently prominent because she was a signatory of a petition protesting PEN’s award to the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. She resembles a near twin of actress Diane Keaton. I read one or two of George Eliot’s novels long, long ago, but can't remember which ones. I was familiar with Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, but can't recall if I agreed with her or not.

Joan Didion’s name also kept appearing in reviews of other writers’ works, especially when it had something to do with the “New Journalism.”  Margaret Atwood wrote The  Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel the movie version of which I also saw. Mary Shelley is noted for Frankenstein. I tried to read Patricia 8 HIghsmith’s Strangers on a Train, but it was so darkly introspective of the characters that I couldn’t finish it. Alfred Hitchcock stripped away all its darkness to produce a first class suspense movie. Susan Sontag? Her name keeps turning up like a bad penny in a variety of literary venues.

Well, that’s eight women writers I’ve heard of. No, nine. I’ve heard of Virginia Wolfe, too, but was never tempted to read anything she ever wrote. She looked morose and probably wrote that way, too. That leaves sixteen writers I’d not heard of until now. Excuse my hubris, but I think it’s a measure of the distance between the American public and the “serious” literary establishment that these sixteen names are alien to me and to many others, as well.

The reviews of these writers’ books were penned as Powell Books “staff picks.” The reviews are as good as anything one could read in the Washington Post Review of Books, the New York Times, or the New York Review of Books. While they are as flowery and adulatory as those publications’ reviews, they have the dubious virtue of brevity.

Many of these “ladies” are members of PEN, another contemporary, left-leaning, “non-governmental” cultural bulwark, which has hundreds of author members, most of whom one has never heard of. PEN International, however, is affiliated with the United Nations. Enough said. And every one of them has received either a foundation or government grant, or both. Don’t get me started on “25 men to read before you die.”

The late Adrienne Rich wrote lots of rubbish, but, as staffer Jill notes, her lesbian love poetry is what she was noted for. “Adrienne Rich is a feminist giant, and these poems, written in 1974, map and delineate the territory of women's love for women (sexual and otherwise) and the struggle of selfhood, consciousness, history, and art with strength, creativity, and fierce empathy.” The struggle for consciousness must have been especially difficult. After all, if one isn’t conscious, how can one struggle?

Alison Bechdel is a very masculine-looking but also geeky-looking lesbian cartoonist, a kind of distorted distaff Berkeley Breathed, creator of the Bloom County cartoons. She/It/Whatever is probably delighted to be called a “fellow,” and was recently bestowed a “Genius” award by the very loopy MacArthur Foundation, (which I parody in a doppelganger in Honors Due). Her/HIs/Its five-year “fellowship” of $625,000 will be paid in five installments of $125,000 each. All these grants come tax-free.  Bechdel is noted for His/Her/Its cartoon strip, “Dykes to Watch Out For.

Here is a note about the MacArthur Foundation (a.k.a., the George L. Sismond Foundation for Social Concerns and Problems in Honors Due):

There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.
I can’t speak for the recipients of the grants who are in science, but the MacArthur Fellows selection committee seems to seek out the ones in the arts, social work, and journalism who are altruistic frauds, charlatans, and about as creative as a chimpanzee fishing for maggots. The twenty-five women on Powell’s list also tend to win National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and other prestigious literary emoluments, are given alleged Medals of Freedom, and are often interviewed by Charlie Rose and other talking heads as though they were the best thing to come along since sliced bread.

Staffer Jill was also wild about Rebecca Solnit.

“Solnit is one of the most eloquent, urgent, and intelligent voices writing nonfiction today; from Men Explain Things to Me to Storming the Gates of Paradise, anything she's written is well worth reading. But her marvelous book of essays A Field Guide to Getting Lost might be her most poetic, ecstatic work. Field Guide is about the spaces between stability and risk, solitude, and the occasional claustrophobia of ordinary life. With dreamlike transitions, Solnit considers a variety of examples which contrast created wildness with natural wilderness, including Passover, punk music, and suburban youth, the early death of a friend from an overdose, movie-making in the ruins of a mental hospital, and her affair with a hermit in the Southwestern desert. She explores the mysterious without puncturing the mystery, and that is a remarkable achievement indeed.” 

Indeed. There’s another unappetizing invitation to read another unappetizing “women writer.” Rebecca is a “human rights” activist, an environmental activist, and an anti-war activist, and is likely an activist in other realms she disapproves of, such as microwavable meals and the exploitation of silkworms.  In fact, most of Powell’s twenty-five darlings are also anti-something or other, in addition to being goose-stepping feminists.

Solnit has received two NEA fellowships for Literature, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan literary fellowship, and a 2004 Wired Rave Award for writing on the effects of technology on the arts and humanities. In 2010 Utne Reader magazine named Solnit as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World".” Her The Faraway Nearby (2013) was nominated for a National Book Award, and shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.

There’s nothing like a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to keep body and soul together while one is having visions about changing the world.  I wouldn’t know the pleasure.

And, oh, yes, let’s not forget another private contributor to the decline of our culture: the Guggenheim Foundation, also a cultural establishment racketeer. Years ago, when I was living in New York City and struggling to write my second novel (it and the first were never published, I don’t even have copies of them in my “trunk”), I twice applied for a grant from this outfit, unsuccessfully. After my second and final attempt, I obtained a list of the then-current winners, and saw that I was as likely to be awarded a grant by Guggenheim as I’d inherit a million dollars from a long lost aunt.

The performing arts are excluded, although composers, film directors, and choreographers are eligible. The fellowships are not open to students, only to "advanced professionals in mid-career" such as published authors. The fellows may spend the money as they see fit, as the purpose is to give fellows "blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible", but they should also be "substantially free of their regular duties". Applicants are required to submit references as well as a CV and portfolio.

The Foundation receives between 3,500 and 4,000 applications every year. Approximately 220 Fellowships are awarded each year. The size of grant varies and will be adjusted to the needs of Fellows, considering their other resources and the purpose and scope of their plans. The average grant in the 2008 Canada and United States competition was approximately US$43,200.

Not as big a stipend as the MacArthur’s, but these grants, too, come tax-free.

As with the MacArthur Foundation, when it comes to sustaining artists and writers and other denizens of the humanities, the Guggenheim selection committee seems hunt for the fringe candidates, the nominally or least commercially successful, and the most disturbed, or not all there. Many of them have also been MacArthur Fellows.

I have never been anyone’s “Fellow.” Not even an Ayn Rand Institute Fellow. A correspondent objected to the fact that Ayn Rand was left out of that list of women to read before anyone dies, wrote Powell’s, and got this brush-off reply from Jennifer Cotner:

“Thank you for writing to Powell’s Books. We considered many important and influential women writers for the 25 Women to Read list and it was extremely hard to narrow the list down to just 25, but we created the list based on our staff’s votes. We realize there are far more than 25 important female writers of our time and that our list is by no means exhaustive. We appreciate your thoughts and I will be sure to share them with our team…. We started with a list of roughly 100 women authors, and both Ayn Rand and Agatha Christie were on there. Thank you for your interest in Powell’s 25 Women to Read promotion.”

Balderdash! Given the puffed up tripe that the staffers adored and drooled over, Ayn Rand was never debated or on the long list of women writers likely to influence the world. Powell’s staffers probably use Rand’s name to put a hex or a voodoo curse on people they don’t like.

I’m sure they would never like me. I’m not Establishment-worthy. Thank heaven. No Pulitzers or
Man Booker prizes for me. I like to be able to choose the company I keep.

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:: Thursday, July 30, 2015 ::

Where Have All the Action Heroes Gone? 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 10:22 AM

They aren’t much allowed anymore, neither on the pages of contemporary fiction nor in modern movies or on TV, not unless they’re latent homosexuals, confused about gender, tolerant of gays, lesbians and Muslims,  anti-gun, anti-violence, and worried about global warming.  Also, they don’t much smoke, don’t drink, aren’t “sexist,” try to keep their “microaggressions” to a minimum, know they must be non-patriarchal and non-patronizing to women and minorities, and they drive fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars. They have become, as Chess Hanrahan calls them in Honors Due, “social workers with guns,” armed also with a clown’s trick flower to squirt into your face.  They’re little else but a corrupt, nihilistic culture’s court jesters.

Give them a serious moment or two, but always follow it up with laughter and humor at the hero’s expense, or at the expense of the story. Don’t let the public walk out of a theatre feeling uplifted and invincible, or let them turn off a TV without the uneasy feeling that they’re fools and that they shouldn’t take it seriously.

The action or thriller heroes of yesterday – yestercentury? – are persona non grata. They’re not politically correct by any stretch of the definition, because they pre-date the term and the mentality that has succumbed to the practice.

Novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand had more than a few words on the subject of thrillers. She was an avid fan of them on TV. I think her favorite series were Perry Mason (with Raymond Burr, a kind of courtroom thriller) and Charlie’s Angels. She wrote in her essay, “Bootleg Romanticism,” in January 1965:   

“Thrillers” are detective, spy or adventure stories. Their basic characteristic is conflict, which means: a clash of goals, which means: purposeful action in pursuit of values. Thrillers are the product, the popular offshoot, of the Romantic school of art that sees man, not as a helpless pawn of fate, but as a being who possesses volition, whose life is directed by his own value-choices. Romanticism is a value-oriented, morality-centered movement: its material is not journalistic minutiae, but the abstract, the essential, the universal principles of man’s nature—and its basic literary commandment is to portray man “as he might be and ought to be.”

Thrillers are a simplified, elementary version of Romantic literature. They are not concerned with a delineation of values, but, taking certain fundamental values for granted, they are concerned with only one aspect of a moral being’s existence: the battle of good against evil in terms of purposeful action—a dramatized abstraction of the basic pattern of: choice, goal, conflict, danger, struggle, victory.

Thrillers are the kindergarten arithmetic, of which the higher mathematics is the greatest novels of world literature. Thrillers deal only with the skeleton—the plot structure—to which serious Romantic literature adds the flesh, the blood, the mind. The plots in the novels of Victor Hugo or Dostoevsky are pure thriller-plots, unequaled and unsurpassed by the writers of thrillers. . . .
Thrillers are the last refuge of the qualities that have vanished from modern literature: life, color, imagination; they are like a mirror still holding a distant reflection of man.

In that same essay, she had no kind words for the producers and directors who spit in the public’s face by turning popular thriller TV series and movies into vehicles for their hatred of heroic values. Each of the series discussed here suffered that same fate.

While Dr. No, when it debuted in 1962, knocked the movie-going public flat, there was a lot in it that didn’t quite resonate with me. I had read Ian Flemiing’s novel, and while I concede that the film of it was a spectacular event even by the standards of the time, I didn’t particularly care for certain elements in it, such as how Bond disposed of Dr. No, the villain. In the novel, he is buried in a pile of guano dust. In the movie, he’s boiled alive in a bubbling nuclear bath.

All the Fleming Bond novels are producible as they were written, even the short stories. It is an indication of the producers’ and directors’ malign view of the public that while they based their productions on Fleming’s novels and even just took a title (A Quantum of Solace, a short story) and made “Bond” movie of it,  they made all the subsequent Bond movies gimmick-and-gadgetry laden jokes.

The actors who played Bond, aside from Connery, are Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Daniel Craig, and George Lazenby (once, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969). None of them held a candle to Connery. They lacked the confident panache that was exclusively Connery’s. The unfortunate thing is that after Dr. No, the Connery Bond movies grew imbecilic and less enthralling. The tongue-in-cheek undertone in Dr. No became more and more apparent as the producers and directors stuck out their tongues at the public.  “Let’s give the fools some heroics with lots of sex and pointless action, that’ll keep them happy and we’ll make lots of money.”

But, making lots of money has never been the secret desire of such esthetic saboteurs. Rather, It has been to kill Romanticism and to kill the best in men.

Post-Connery, perhaps the only memorable facets of the movies are many of the theme songs.

The low point in the whole series was when the pipe-smoking “M,” of the Royal Navy, Bond’s boss at MI6 or the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service), was replaced by a bitchy Judi Dench. But I had long stopped watching the Bond films.

Patrick McGoohan as John Drake in Secret Agent/Danger Man was arguably brighter than Connery’s Bond, but no less ruthless, lethal and indefatigable in his pursuit of villains. Urbane, articulate, a good dresser without being ostentatious or bogusly showy (as most of the post-Connery Bonds were), and possessed of an intelligence one can see at work in his expressions, John Drake was my favorite TV man of action.

That persona was automatically carried over into McGoohan’s subsequent hit series, The Prisoner, when a nameless British secret agent resigns, is kidnapped and taken to “The Village,” where he is given a name, “No. 6.,” although McGoohan and the show’s producers deny that it was supposed to be John Drake. The series was intriguing and ingenious in many respects as one watched No. 6 outwit his captors and his attempts to escape. It was only in the last few of the seventeen episodes that the story began to fall apart and ended bizarrely and  inconclusively.

The opening credits of The Prisoner by Ron Grainer however, married to their story-telling visuals, are fabulous, as they serve to suggest how every hero ought to be introduced, as he ought to be introduced.

My next favorite TV action series was The Avengers, with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. This was the second and best version of the series; the first version with MacNee and Honor Blackman was never aired in the U.S. not to my knowledge. It was witty, often humorous without being self-deprecatory, and I developed a lasting crush on Diana Rigg, the svelte and swift Mrs. Emma Peel.  The badinage between Macnee as John Steed, the nattily dressed secret agent armed with a bowler and an umbrella that wasn’t much used to deflect rain, and Mrs. Peel was entertaining as they foiled the plots of various wacky and deranged villains.

The production in the U.S. of such series was largely disappointing. The filming of several of Donald Hamilton’s engrossing Matt Helm novels did not even bother introducing the hero straight up; it starred Dean Martin and was a farce from first film to the last. Gimmicks and gadgetry and snorts full of laughter.

There are a few other TV series and movies that I could discuss here – and I may make them a subject in a future column – but I think I’ve made my point.

Today’s “heroes” aren’t heroes at all. They’re creatures of neurosis and victimhood or they’re so bland that one wonders why their creators thought they deserved to have any serious conflicts.
They’ve been emasculated of any integrity moral certainty or certitude. Their values are commonplace if not bizarre. They are basically helpless existential eunuchs, incapable of idealism, powerless to pursue values, or corrupted by institutionalized pragmatism. They are what the killers of man’s spirit wish their victims to become.  

It’s that, or they’re “super heroes” with mystical or extraordinary powers based on comic book characters, often burdened with the same internal doubts and ethical conflicts as the more “realistic,” Naturalistic ones.

Now, when I was very young I was a devotee of the Mighty Mouse cartoons on TV, and also of Superman with George Reeves. But as I grew into adolescence and adulthood, my stock of knowledge also grew, as did my need for more “realistic” heroes and heroines. This is not to say that Superman and Mighty Mouse declined as values; they were replaced with heroes who were fundamentally linked to my struggles and existence in the real world.

So I discovered Cyrano de Bergerac, and Howard Roark, and John Galt. And a handful of others.

The extraordinary powers of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman et al. cannot help anyone pass moral judgments on Barack Obama or even understand how one has been abused by the esthetic pedophiles in today’s cultural establishment.  

My own philosophy of literature from the first novel I ever wrote – in case anyone familiar with my work has had any doubts about its purpose – can be paraphrased in Bond’s words to Professor Dent in Dr. No:

“That’s Bootleg Romanticism and grungy Naturalism, and you’ve had your six.”

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