Weekly Roundup: For Me But Not For Thee Edition

As Steve Sailer notes, it’s not “cultural appropriation” if the “good” people are doing it. Take Normal Rockwell paintings, turn them into posed photographs, remove all the white people. Presto, you got some “culturally relevant” art.

I’m not as upset by this as Steve is. In a way, this project promotes cultural literacy, which is sorely lacking in America. Some percentage of the people who look at these photographs will no doubt be inspired to seek out Rockwell’s originals, the same way that Steve Harris launched thousands of stoners in the direction of Coleridge and Wordsworth with Iron Maiden’s take on ancient mariners. Furthermore, the freedom to make reference to existing art and/or to re-imagine it is the very foundation of culture as a whole. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about John Milton “remixing” the Bible to create Paradise Lost or The Notorious B.I.G. sampling Herb Alpert’s “Rise”. The notion that art can exist outside of context has been rightly torpedoed in even the most moronic of universities. Even your humble author stands on the shoulders of giants when he writes, often relying on phrases from Updike, Bellow, Roth, and others to get the point across.

All that aside, I have a particular gripe with the new take on Rockwell’s “Freedom Of Speech” painting. Allow me to explain.

The original Rockwell image depicts a town meeting of the type common in America before our employers all gave us ninety days to abandon your family and move to your choice of the country’s eight most expensive real estate markets. The man standing has rough clothes and rough hands — the social signals are easy for today’s young people to miss, but there was a time when only the working poor dressed like this. He could be a machinist, or a mechanic, or a plumber. He is speaking his mind to his fellow citizens, and whatever he’s saying is raising a few eyebrows, literally. But he has the right to say it.

It is a quintessentially American image, because prior to our grand experiment this ability to backtalk the local government simply didn’t exist. You could lose your land, your family, or your head for presuming to correct your betters. Yet here we are, in a country where this sort of behavior is taken for granted.

“Wait just a minute, Hitler,” I can hear you saying, “that ability existed only for white men. People of color, womyn, and yellow-winged dragonkin couldn’t do it.” To which I reply: no, that freedom was not universal, but it existed nonetheless, and in greater quantity than our modern racism-obsessed society likes to admit. Women and minorities had active voices in public discourse well before the Twentieth Century, and certainly when this portrait was painted. It could just as easily have been a black man or a white woman, but Rockwell painted the most common example of the time.

Alright, let’s shift to the new version. The everyman is gone, replaced by actress Rosario Dawson, net worth $16 million. The working-class clothes and the dirt have been replaced by a smart silk-ish top and a kicky print skirt. The defiance and bravery in the original man’s posture have yielded to Ms. Dawson’s arrogant self-assurance; she is lecturing, not speaking, and she hasn’t the slightest bit of self-doubt on the topic. The frankly surprised or doubting looks on the surrounding faces have been replaced by submissive adoration. This isn’t a machinist complaining that the township shouldn’t be going into debt on a new water-treatment facility; this is a Woman Of Color(tm) letting some racist Hitlers know exactly how racist and Hitler-esque they are.

The choice of Ms. Dawson is fairly appropriate here; when a longtime Latina labor activist dared to disagree with Bernie Sanders, Dawson dressed her down for doing so. Why did Dawson feel entitled to issue this correction? Apparently, it was because she portrayed that woman in a biopic and was therefore perfectly qualified to tell her how to behave.

If Nicholas Cage tries that shit with me after he gets hired to play Forty-Something Jack in my biopic, there will be hell to pay, I’m warning you.

As for the “Freedom Of Speech” caption? It’s gone, and rightly so. Neither Ms. Dawson nor the artists who created these Diversity-Improved Rockwells believe in free speech the way that the man in the original painting did. They see it as a privilege that goes hand in hand with certain racial, sexual, and political identities. They make jokes about “freeze peach” and while they won’t come right out and say that people with the wrong opinions should be hanged or shot they’ll certainly clap hands in approbation while those would-be free-speakers lose their jobs, their homes, and the ability to feed their children.

If today’s social-justice junta had been running things when Norman Rockwell did his painting, that working man would have never stood up in the town meeting. Because standing up would have cost him his livelihood. He would have been “no-platformed” in the most extreme manner possible, denied access to food, raw materials, or the tools of his trade. Then the “freeze peach” crowd would have patiently explained to him that well, you have the right to say what you want, but the power company is a private company and if they want to turn off your welders they have the right to do it, and the grocer is a private company and if he won’t sell your children food that’s his right, you know! Hope you starve, racist Hitler!

When I look at the two pictures next to each other, I want to ask myself how we got from the first to the second. But I know how we got there. The society depicted in the first painting truly believed in the American experiment. Those people really felt that you should be free to express unpopular or controversial opinion. Most critically, they upheld the idea of an American civic identity that was stronger than party affiliation, tribal identity, or racial politics. Their stubborn adherence to that idea, an adherence you can see even today in the public utterances of people like Jeb Bush or Ben Shapiro, is what allowed today’s social-justice commissars to march through the institutions and take control of the American conversation. Those commissars didn’t see American civic identity as principled. They saw it as weakness, and they saw it as opportunity, and they saw it as a mistake made by the people who held the upper hand at the time.

It’s not a mistake they’ll be making. You still have freedom of speech in this country. At work, among friends, in public. You are absolutely free to repeat whatever was said last night by John Oliver, or Stephen Colbert, or Rachel Maddow. If you think you’re free to say something else… well, this ain’t Norman Rockwell’s America any more, my friend.

* * *

For R&T, I wrote about characterless drivers and characterful sport compacts.

44 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: For Me But Not For Thee Edition”

  1. AvatarJustPassinThru

    There’s little to add to this. The founding concept, of people of widely-differing economic and educational strata having an equal opportunity to participate in matters of the commonweal, has been replaced by sinecured Political Elites, un-dislodgeable from their lifetime chairs in the legislature, who mock and look down at people who actually do grubby work. Witness the spectre this week, of a CNN nooze-babe telling her sycophants in the e-audience, that it was time to “take the country back” from those deplorable Deplorables in Hicksville, with their guns and Bibles and Constitutions.

    And, in Florida and California, the lower bureaucrats and petty electeds, are doing just that, with miraculously-appearing boxes full of ballots.

    No, we are no longer a nation where Joe the Plumber and JustPassinThru the Train Driver, can discuss matters of SUBSTANCE. We and our preferences, and our choices in elections, are smeared, called ugly names, accused of crimes, mostly falsely – and are threatened in our employment, threatened to have any Internet presence, no matter how slight, pulled away.

    As the Climate Hysterics say…this is unsustainable. As Jack Baruth said, weeks back…a Hard Reset is coming.

    Reply
  2. AvatarJeff Zekas

    Spot on, Jack. I made the mistake, years ago, of expressing a conservative opinion in our local, liberal newspaper. The paper posted my letter online, and I received threats from total strangers, had to change my phone number, delete my social accounts and basically start over. Evidently, “freedom of speech” means “freedom of LEFTIST speech” here in Eugene, Oregon.

    Reply
  3. Avatararbuckle

    I’m not saying this is the most destructive media created in modern American, but it’s in a points-earning position:

    xkcd.com/1357/

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I agree… to my sorrow, xkcd is basically cuck fantasy 90% of the time but in this case it’s doing actual harm.

      Reply
    • Avatardanio3834

      If this cartoon is true, then why is it those cake bakers had so much trouble?

      “Something, something Protected Class.”
      “Isn’t there something about Equal Protection in the 14th amendment?”
      “The Constitution is just a piece of paper not relevant today.”

      Reply
  4. AvatarJohn C.

    I don’t think the two pictures are has different as Jack thinks. At the time of the Rockwell painting, the Bolshevik left had co-opted the image of the industrial worker as who they represented, when their leaders in reality were an urban intelligencia. The style of the image makes clear he is speaking from the left. Rosario is also clearly speaking from the left, and those around her a modern take on the coalition of the ascendant. Since the Bolshevik always thought of themselves as on the way up they perceive their opponents as rightist reactionaries. I wouldn’t read too much into the clothes, remember New Communist Man was to easily surpass the material success of the capitalist, once cleansed of his corruption.

    Reply
    • Avatargtem

      I only WISH there were still such a thing as a strong labor movement centered around the disaffected working class in increasingly de-industrialized zones, one not tied to racial identity politics or sexual deviance.

      Reply
      • Avatarsafe as milk

        this bothers me, too. the modern so called leftists don’t have any respect for working people. their support of open borders proves their indifference. cesar chavez was against mass uncontrolled migration for the same reason i am: it’s primary purpose is to lower wages.

        Reply
  5. Avatarhank chinaski

    Rosario Dawson is lecturing us? The one whose film debut, the near pedophilic ‘Kids’ depicted AIDS positive date rape? OK.

    “People of color, womyn, and yellow-winged dragonkin couldn’t do it”. Because they haven’t, anywhere or anytime. Quite often the reverse, actually.

    BTW, that links to your older article on vanilla corporate race car drivers.

    Reply
    • Avatarhank chinaski

      On one hand, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Stalin’s photo editing.

      On the other, if I was intent on ticking off ‘You won’t replace us’ tiki-torchers, I’d go right ahead and ‘replace them’ in the iconic imagery of an idealized past that ironically, I deny ever existed in the first place.

      Reply
  6. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Rockwell’s politics are hard to pin down. He voted for Norman Thomas, a socialist, and he voted for Dwight Eisenhauer. The Four Freedoms series was based on an FDR speech about his postwar vision. Rockwell said “I positively know who I’m voting for, but if anyone can guess, I’ve failed as an old political art pro.”

    The left is appropriative by nature.

    The people who produced that image don’t really believe in the Four Freedoms, not the way Americans have understood them.

    Freedom of Speech vs Marcuse’s Repressive Tolerance
    Freedom of Want vs Free everything for everybody
    Freedom of Worship vs You Christers are Islamophobes
    Freedom from Fear vs You Better not Wrongspeak

    Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      “Freedom of Speech vs Marcuse’s Repressive Tolerance
      Freedom of Want vs Free everything for everybody
      Freedom of Worship vs You Christers are Islamophobes
      Freedom from Fear vs You Better not Wrongspeak”

      _THIS_ .

      Thanx for the link to freeze peach, it’s bang spot on .

      I’d be deliriously happy if Cage depicted me in anything, even the stupid looser comedy it’d have to be , I bet you would too Jack .

      -Nate

      Reply
    • Avatardejal

      Rockwell had no problem painting the swells for wads of cash.

      He lived across the street from the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge Mass.
      His studio was in his backyard.
      Literally a couple of hundred foot walk from the Inn to the studio.
      I have no doubt he strategically picked that house for its closeness to the Inn.

      At the end of the day he knew what side of the bread is buttered on.

      I hate that f’ing town with a passion. Pass through the town in the spring or fall and it looks
      like a J. Crewe ad. Biff and Buffy, sweater tied around the neck in a bow.

      Which Rockwell was a part of.

      The Rockwell museum a few miles away contains the 4 Freedoms.
      Really something to see in person.

      Reply
  7. AvatarScottS

    “this ain’t Norman Rockwell’s America any more, my friend.”

    Does this mean the tyrannical patriarchy is dead?

    Reply
  8. AvatarDisinterested-Observer

    I love the “I should be unemployable but in 2018 I can get a public service job anywhere” neck and hand tattoos on the worshiper in the foreground. The pinky ring vs. wedding ring is a nice touch.

    Reply
      • Avatarhank chinaski

        I’d not be surprised if in the future the substances in the inks are found to be toxic to one organ or another, alone or in combination.
        In any case, that generation of elderly will look utterly ridiculous.

        Reply
        • Avatarsgeffe

          In the past ten years or so, I’ve said I should have gone into dermatology—in another decade, when the earliest tatts start sagging in ways unforeseen, I could’ written my own ticket!

          Reply
          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            There’s a large billboard on Eight Mile Rd. advertisting “Invisible Ink”, a laser based tattoo removal company. Investing in companies that make such lasers might make more sense than trying to ride the legal cannabis train.

  9. Avatar-Nate

    As is so often the case, the devil is in the details .

    Visible tattoos, along with your smelly bum hanging out of your droopy drawers is free speech, no one *has* to hire your stupid ass if you choose to tell the world ” I HAVE ZERO SELF RESPECT ! ” .

    Now, get the fuck off my god damned lawn you punks .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Avatarrwb

      In fairness, the same is true of those who don’t know how to express an idea respectfully or politely, without leaning on broad insults, slogans, assumptions, or strawmen; nor how to avoid indulging compulsions which are petty, bitter, or motivated by simple anger; and who are then ignorant enough to wonder why people aren’t willing to engage with them in earnest.

      This isn’t you, Nate, by the way.

      Reply
      • Avatar-Nate

        Thank you RWB ;

        I have my ugly moments from time to time, I really hate liars .

        One of my favorite N.R. pictures is a big truck trying to come out of an alley with a little kitten blocking the way….

        I too resonate with the man standing on the picture here, I’m a Blue Collar guy and proudly Conservative, not the alt right whacko B.S. typ, one who actually believes in fairness, equality for everyone (including those nasty types i don’t like much) fiscal responsibility, so on and so forth .

        Everyone one in America should spend some time working down and dirty and live in a shithole with no escape, it’s teaches one what’s important in life .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • AvatarScottS

          ” I too resonate with the man standing on the picture here, . . . .”

          As do I. “He” is my family that brought me into the world and taught me most of what I know that is useful. I am the first member of my family to graduate college but I learned plenty about hard, dirty work along the way. From my dad, uncle, and grandfather I learned to weld, to make things of wood and metal, about right and wrong, fair play, how to solve problems. By today’s standards, I would say we were borderline poor but I never harbored a moment’s self-pity or any notion that I couldn’t get myself up and ahead with the application of hard work and playing by the rules. In fact, self-pity was not tolerated. We respected everyone including the well to do and the Cuban refugees that went to our church. Disrespect was not tolerated either. My “white privalege” being raised by an intact family, something increasingly scarce in the modern era.

          Reply
          • Avatar-Nate

            Yeah ;

            I was lucky in that many others (mostly strangers and Veterans, _lots_ of Veterans) stepped up to teach me those useful things, my ‘rents certainly didn’t bother, I was gone by 8YO, no point in staying anywhere you’re not wanted .

            I’m amazed I’m still alive most of the time .

            -Nate

  10. Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

    The Four Freedoms is one of my favorite series of paintings by Norman Rockwell. When I have an office worthy of hanging decorations, I always display all four. The say a lot about America’s values and I think it is important that they be on display where people can see them – especially when I am overseas.

    Of them all, Freedom of Speech is my hands-down favorite. Looking at it always makes me a little misty eyed because I know deep down in my heart that the many shown could be my own father and that when I speak I am, by extension, speaking for these people as well. Coming from the working class, I hold their interests close to my heart and do my best to represent them and their values wherever I go. It’s an honor of which I am always cognizant.

    What makes many of Rockwell’s paintings great is the fact that they capture an entire story in a single image. We’ll never know what the man is talking about, the issue could be big or small and the statement either shocking or profound, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. He has come to say his part and while the people around him may or may not agree, they are respectful and he can take his seat after he is finished knowing that he has influenced the discussion. The scene is a a masterpiece, IMO, an eloquent statement of who we are as a people.

    I suppose the great hope is that, when the harsh rhetoric of politics subsides, that we will once again learn see one another as human beings and go back to listening to one another in respectful silence. On some level, there has always been a lot of rage in our country and though fighting one another makes us strong. But maybe the message in both these images should be that we should, when called upon, put down our politics long enough to listen.

    Reply
  11. AvatarCarmine

    I’m still trying to figure out the he-she on the left that lost a fight with a pair of hair clippers…..ah, fuck this whole thing……..

    Reply
    • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

      I was wondering more about the rather lascivious look she was giving the speaker…

      But my favorite is the woman in the back left corner. Just by looking at her eyes I can tell she is thinking, “What the hell did she just say?”

      Reply
  12. AvatarSexCpotatoes

    You know, I really can’t properly rebut this absolute nonsense in just a comment. I’d like to submit a number of blog posts (perhaps of equal length?) to thoroughly explain why free speech ‘calling for the extermination of human beings’ IS NOT on par with ‘everybody should have healthcare’ in the “Marketplace of Ideas.” Give me a word limit and you can edit how you’d like within reason (i.e. it doesn’t post unless we both approve of it with any changes, with reasons given for why something needs to be removed/changed). Actually, free speech would just be one of a number of posts, the migrant children still in detention which you claim literally don’t exist, those children stolen and auctioned off to the highest bidder. The fact that you demonize immigrants and this administration censored a report showing a net financial gain from immigration. McCain’s funeral and fawning eulogizing by the press. Let me know, thanks.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      So everything is justifiable as long as it is possible to demonstrate a net financial gain in a report?

      Reply
      • AvatarSexCpotatoes

        Well, I went with the ‘net financial gain’ aspect because appealing to “classical liberals’ ” (or whatever you’re calling yourself this week) sense of humanity, right & wrong, sense of shame, or logic, never seem to work.

        You can’t even cite any studies or evidence for your claims that ‘immigrants are violent criminals and rapists.’ The ONE story/article you linked/posted a long time ago about Germany when you asserted as much, they actually debunked your assertions in the article itself. You literally tried to use an article about refugees (and pretty much all the data and rigorous scientific studies we have point to this->) who are generally more law abiding, less criminal, less violent than citizens, and are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators (thank you, President Hate Crime), to claim the exact opposite was *always* happening everywhere!

        Reply
  13. AvatarCliffG

    Ah, ” to thoroughly explain why free speech ‘calling for the extermination of human beings’ IS NOT on par with ‘everybody should have healthcare’ in the “Marketplace of Ideas.” So, who gets to determine which is which? My suspicion is that writer is pretty sure sure he/she/it is the one, while, I am pretty sure I am not. I could make a pretty good argument that free healthcare for everyone is closer to the extermination of human beings than many think it is. Check out how free healthcare is working in Venezuela for example. But I digress. The conceit on the left is that they will always be the arbiters, but a quick perusal of history shows that to be incorrect. Free speech is either free or the government gets to decide what is It is truly that binary. Pick one. On a side note, I notice that Vietnam just announced that we actually won that war. F1 is coming to Hanoi. If the single most flagrant example of capitalism is welcome, well, poor Ho.

    Reply
    • AvatarSexCpotatoes

      Calling for the extermination of human beings is hateful and disgusting, and you, like the author, don’t seem to understand why *maybe* your employer doesn’t want to be associated with that sort of bile. It’s a fast track to a massive, almost universal boycott by informed, empowered consumers, who are allowed to vote with their wallet. Freedom of association, or did you forget that? Conservatives have tried boycotts many, many times, like Nike, & the rental car companies who end special discounts for NRA Members, or some such nonsense. I’m sorry but if you’re sooo persecuted, and so fragile that having to pay full, regular price for your rental car makes you scream DISCRIMINATION, you’re a snowflake. But hey, if you live in a Right-To-Work-For-Less State, Republicans fought hard to bust unions and make it so that your employer can fire you at any time for any reason, so you really have no legs to stand on. You can’t expect any pity from me when you help create an employment climate where private employers can fire you for exercising your right to free speech they don’t agree with, and then complain when/if it happens to you.

      Venezuela is it’s own country, and in context, there are plenty of reasons for it’s slide, until you can prove Venezuela was the last remaining world superpower, one of the richest countries in the world with one of the highest standards of living in the world, and then degenerated into chaos because they gave their people “too much free stuff” I’m going to have to call bullshit. It’s a simplistic ‘hurr-hurr how’s that Communism twerkin out fer them?’ This link literally took me 3 seconds to google, maybe reading comprehension isn’t your thing, but hey, look Nationalism! No economic diversification! Over-reliance on imports (okay that’s similar), Russia & China (that’s similar too) https://www.dw.com/en/5-things-to-understand-about-oil-rich-cash-poor-venezuela/a-38478166

      This doesn’t even address the FACT that a universal healthcare program for everyone in this country (citizens, & legal or “illegal” immigrants) would literally be like 14 Billion cheaper than the utter mess we have now. That’s free doctor visits, free prescriptions, free surgery, 0 co-pay for anything. Medicare’s administration costs are phenomenally cost-effective, especially when compared to for-profit health insurance companies. Insurance companies can’t compete, they all make their money by denying care/not paying out, auto/health/life, they all work that way. And a Medicare for all plan would not put all private health insurance companies out of business, look at Canada, you can buy private insurance on top of the free government stuff if you are so inclined. So yeah, I could write a whole ‘nother blog post about how wrong Republicans are on health insurance, especially since Obamacare is literally full of the only ideas conservatives have had in the past 30 years for ‘improving’ healthcare. Oh, except now the new healthcare bill Republicans touted during the midterms, the one they all bragged about that THEY were the only ones who would protect your preexisting condition coverage: LIES. You could still buy healthcare if you had “preexisting conditions” under the bill they were bragging about, but Insurance Co’s wouldn’t have to cover anything related to them. That and the idea selling skimpy plans on the Obamacare Exchange that were cheap, but literally didn’t cover any hospitalization, birth control, mental health services, and a host of other things. If it doesn’t provide healthcare, does it have the right to be called health insurance?

      I could go on and on, and I could condense it down, and edit it, and provide links to proof for most of my major points, but I think Jack is scared to give me a platform.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I give you a lot more of a platform than any left-leaning website would give to a conservative voice, so calm down.

        The simple fact is that you personally despise and fear immigrants. Otherwise you wouldn’t live in a 95% white environment that is totally immigrant-free. If you’d like, I can arrange for you to spend the winter at my pal Rodney’s place in the Somali sector of Columbus. You’ll love it. There was only one shooting last week.

        Reply
  14. Avatarsabotenfighter

    [quote]…while they won’t come right out and say that people with the wrong opinions should be hanged or shot they’ll certainly [B]jazz hands[/B] in approbation…[/quote]

    FTFY

    Reply
  15. AvatarDirt Roads

    I think Verstappen might come around like you’re looking for Jack, the way he handled Ocon. Although he was vilified for it, I don’t see him apologizing for it. 🙂

    Reply

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