Friday, August 17, 2012

Culture Makes a Difference

My friend Byron passes along an article from The Clapham Institute's blog Peer Review which is worth sharing. I can find no links to the original so I'll just copy it in toto:
Mitt Romney caused a firestorm two weeks ago in Jerusalem by commenting on the cultural dimensions of Israeli economic growth with an implied criticism of Palestinian culture. The reaction in the press was swift. Mr. Romney was called a "racist." But in fact, Romney was basing his claims on two excellent books that illustrate the primacy of culture as both necessary and sufficient for economic development: "Guns, Germs and Steel," by geographer Jared Diamond, and "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," by economist David Landes.

Israel's economic success is based in a biblical view of work - that productive work is respected and prized, criticism is encouraged, intellectual capital is treasured, risk-taking is promoted, and innovation is fostered. The Wall Street Journal noted: "With institutions built on such values - with a culture dedicated to making, not taking, money - a society can make use of whatever primary products a land offers."

The favored mode of Palestinian culture on the other hand is not voluntary but coerced and zero-sum relations, where the principle of "rule or be ruled" dominates political and economic life. The elites in such cultures hold hard work in contempt, and they distrust intellectual openness and uncontrolled innovation as subversive. They emphasize rote learning and unquestioning respect for those in authority. Protection rackets rather than law enforcement assure the public order and bleed the economy. Public criticism brings sharp retaliation. Powerful actors acquire wealth by taking, rather than making.

[A] 2002 United Nations report written by Arab intellectuals...points out how Arab culture intensifies these problems with its attitude of hyper-jealousy and misogyny toward women, which turns out entitled sons and cloistered daughters. [D]ifferences make a difference, the making of flourishing culture matters, and all faiths do not lead to healthy cultures and economies.
Well put. The multicultural fantasy that all cultures are equally "valid," equally good, and equally to be celebrated is demonstrably false. Some ways of living are simply better than others, and the fact that Romney was called a racist by the liberal media for asserting that culture matters shows how blinded some people are by their ideological myths and illusions.

Is Mr. Obama Losing the Youth Vote?

Lots can change between now and November but this seems significant:
For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America's youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters.

Pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics told Secrets Tuesday that Romney received 41 percent in his weekend poll of 1,117 likely voters, for the first time crossing the 40 percent mark. "This is the first time I am seeing Romney's numbers this high among 18-29 year olds," said Zogby. "This could be trouble for Obama who needs every young voter he can get."
Young people are mercurial, but even so it's going to be a lot harder this time around for the President to cast the same Hope and Change spell over the young that he managed to conjure in '08. Even if they don't turn out for Romney, perhaps a lot of these disenchanted younger voters will just stay home on election day.
In 2008, 66 percent chose Obama over Sen. John McCain, the highest percentage for a Democrat in three decades. But their desire for hope and change has turned to disillusionment and unemployment. Zogby calls them "CENGAs" for "college-educated, not going anywhere."

In his latest poll, Obama receives just 49 percent of the youth vote when pitted against Romney, who received 41 percent.
I wonder, too, how many blacks will vote for Mr. Obama this election. I'm sure the President will get an overwhelmingly high percentage of the votes of those who go to the polls, although probably not as high a percentage as in 2008, but how many African-Americans will be as excited to actually turn out this time? After three and a half years large numbers of African-Americans still have very little hope and have seen very little change.

What If He Was a Conservative?

Imagine that Floyd Corkins, the man who walked into the offices of the pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Family Research Council and shot a guard, had walked instead into, say, an abortion clinic. Imagine further that he'd been a member of a pro-life group, or the NRA, or the Tea Party, or a fan of conservative talk radio, or just a Republican. What do you suppose the media reaction to this near-tragedy would be?

But Corkins, as it happens, is none of those things, nor did he attack an abortion clinic. He himself is a volunteer for a gay and lesbian community center, and he entered the offices of a conservative group which opposes both gay marriage and abortion with the intent, apparently, of doing harm because of the stance the FRC takes on these issues.

Consequently, the media has been relatively mute. Mr. Corkins doesn't fit their template of the angry, white (he's African-American), right-winger. So there are no Google searches to ascertain the extent of his left-wing associations, there are no accusations that the inflammatory rhetoric of left-wing talk radio or tv inspired his act, no national introspection to biopsy the cancer that festers in our collective soul that periodically erupts in malignancies like Mr. Corkins.

To the extent that Mr. Corkins is political he seems to be liberal and thus his deed is not nearly as newsworthy as it would've been had he been conservative.