Fathers of Daughters

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits was originally posted on Fathers’ Day in 2005.

Fathers of Daughters

by Dymphna
June 19, 2005

Father’s Day is a pale feast compared to what we do in May for mothers. That’s understandable since mothering roles have changed less than fathering has in the last generation. The daddy template is broken, or if not broken, certainly skewed and bent by stress. As the job has become more thankless and more easily taken from them, fewer daddies are to be found at their posts.

The easiest piece to see of this sad situation is the animus that the previous generation’s feminists have for men. Their anti-male bias has taken its toll on men, but it has not served women well either. Feminist politics are those of resentment and victimization. The younger generation of women coming along behind them are not eager to trap themselves in this ghetto where men are vilified and condescended to.

The most damaging thing the feminist movement did to women was to push fathers to the periphery. “I’d-rather-do-it-myself” was a mantra whose end result was not stronger, happier children. Long-term studies of the children of divorce do not paint a pretty picture.

In contrast to this philosophy, I offer two anecdotal pieces of evidence of the importance of fathers for girls. We know they’re crucial for boys if they are to grow up able to strive and to maintain themselves in the world as productive adults, able — as Freud said — to work, to love, and to play. Without Dad, some of that will wither. What about the girls, then?

Here are two stories that show what a woman can only accomplish with the help of her father. These are fathers who had to buck the culture to give their daughters what they needed. They are brave and courageous and anonymous men who deserve our attention on Father’s Day.

The first story appeared this week in the print edition of The Wall Street Journal. Neo-neocon reports the serendipitous appearance at her front door of a copy of the Journal which contained an article entitled “Married at 11, a Teen in Niger Returns to School,” with Roger Thurow’s byline. Neo-neocon relates the sad story she read of the young Muslim girls of the Southern Sahara who face several horrific problems directly related to gender.

The first is genital mutilation. The second is premature marriage at wholly inappropriate ages to men much older than they. These early marriages result in pregnancy in little bodies that are not yet ready to bear babies to term. When the babies are ready to be born they cannot easily leave a womb which has no room to let them pass. The result is protracted labor in which long days of pressure on the walls of the uterus cause it to tear a hole between the uterus and vagina. The result is a fistula. The result is urinary incontinence and social ostracism for smelling so bad.

The girl under discussion here was sold by her father into marriage in exchange for a camel. Mr. Thurow gives us her story:

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No Need to Turn Off the Lights and Don’t Bother Closing the Door

This week’s selection from Dymphna’s Greatest Hits discusses the antics of the Church of England as put on display back in June of 2005. I wish I could say that the situation in the Anglican Church has improved since then, but as far as I know it has deteriorated even further.

Note: Only one of the embedded links in the original post is still live. I had to remove the rest.

No Need to Turn Off the Lights and Don’t Bother Closing the Door

by Dymphna
Originally published on June 27, 2005

The Pharisees are in the driver’s seat of the Mini Cooper that has become the Anglican Church in England. Following the map printed up for them by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, the C. of E. is busy driving over the cliff. How could anyone with a lick of common sense believe one word coming from a “Peace and Justice” committee? Did these people sleep through the birth and (Deo gratias) death of Communism? Do they not see the bright neon socialist signage in “Peace” or “Justice” — good Lord, never mind the double whammy PEACE and JUSTICE.

Does the Anglican Communion in England have any idea how irrelevant it is? The Incredible Shrinking Church has just shriveled another centimeter or two. It’s sooo bad it’s embarrassing. You could go read the report here (it’s a PDF. You’ll need version 7), but why bother. You can recite the p.c. lines from memory by now: poor Palestinians, bad Jews. Let’s take our money away from the bad Jews and give it to the deserving Palestinians who only want peace but the Jews are too mean to let them have it. Blah. Blah.

Well, we knew it was coming; this was just a matter of waiting for the final mainstream sheep farm to sell out. The only surprise is that it took so long. Here’s Melanie Phillips’ take on this “defining moment” —

The APJN report is full of the most inflammatory lies, libels and distortions about Israel — and the fact that the amended resolution that was finally passed only welcomed part of it (a weaselly caveat to provide deniability) does not alter the fact that it provided the ammunition for a poisonous onslaught against Israel. The document uncritically reproduced the Arab propaganda version of Israel’s history and the present circumstances of the Middle East conflict, presenting the Arab perpetrators of genocidal mass murder as victims and their real victims as oppressors merely for trying to defend themselves. But then what can one expect of a report which concludes by referring to ‘the honor of meeting the President of the Palestinian Authority, the late Yasser Arafat, who so warmly welcomed us in what turned out to be one of his last days among us’?

A warm welcome from the late pederast himself. How charming. Arafat was the father of terrorism, a diabolical Communist and one of the most truly evil people of his generation, so of course the Anglican Peace and Justice Network loved him. What’s not to love? Do you suppose they have a position paper on Castro, too? Another honorable sweetie-pie.

There are not words to describe the moral revulsion the name Arafat engenders. You could perhaps see why the naïve could be taken in by the man-in-the-street Palestinian: they’ve had years to work on and perfect their royal sense of resentful entitlement. And you might even decide to overlook the festering sores on a culture which produces suicide bombers who want to attack the hospital that treated them. But information on Arafat is readily available; his shameful history is there for the reading. One has to be willfully blind to refuse to acknowledge the depth and breadth of his malevolent iniquity.
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Knowing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits requires a special explanation, because the poem featured below has never previously been published. She wrote it in the summer of 1995 as part of an extended collection that we called Therapy Poems, although its official title eventually became Intense Disclosures (which itself would require a separate essay to explain, but Wallace Stevens aficionados may recognize the reference).

Dymphna liked to say that she had been in therapy longer than Woody Allen. She had seen several therapists before I met her, but after we got together we were quite poor for almost two decades, so her opportunities for professional psychotherapeutic assistance became very infrequent.

In the mid-1990s, however, she was given the opportunity to have weekly sessions with a young psychiatrist who had just entered his residency. She was to be the central case for his thesis, or whatever it is that psychiatric residents do to achieve their final release from training and be allowed to practice. She was able to see him gratis for therapy once a week over a period of a couple of years.

She was, as she herself described it, a Difficult Patient. She knew far too much about psychology, philosophy, theology, and other esoteric subjects to be easy going for a therapist. Fortunately, her doctor was (and is) a competent, kind, considerate, and humane man, and was able to navigate the stormy seas raised by Dymphna’s psychological tempest.

Their sessions were intense, needless to say. Early in their relationship she took to writing a poem after every session, which she would then deliver to him at the start of their next meeting. At the end of his residency, when he had to terminate the therapy, she collected the poems together into a volume entitled Intense Disclosures, had it printed and bound, and gave him a copy.

To create the book, she turned all the original Word documents over to me, and I did all the formatting and indexing necessary for the print version. As a result, I have the full collection — which we always called “Therapy Poems” between ourselves until she picked out an official title — in a form that is easily accessible. “There is a Midnight” (which I posted as part of my eulogy for her), was a member of that collection, as was “Lament For My Brother”, which I posted here.

The poem below may be the best in the collection. She wrote it when she was very unhappy and angry with her therapist (as patients in psychotherapy often are). He was such a WASPy guy, with his blond hair and blue eyes, so she tweaked his nose with “To Young Dr. O’Malley From the Bi-Polar on Ward A-2”.

The poem would still be worth reading if the story ended there. However, after he had read it, he confided to her a personal detail about his life: he had recently learned that his parents had adopted him, and that his biological parents were in fact Jewish. He looked so Aryan, and had been raised a Christian, but genetically speaking, he was a Jew.

Not an old one, though. Not yet.

The poem is below the jump. By the way: “O’Malley” is not his real surname, so there’s no point in searching the lists of accredited Virginia psychiatrists to try and find him.

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Thank Heaven for Little Girls

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits discusses a case in Yemen from more than fourteen years ago. However, like so many accounts of Islam in the Middle East, it could just as well be from today.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

by Dymphna
Originally published on May 1, 2005

Each new case further illuminates a degraded culture in which girls — little girls — are used as pawns and scapegoats. With a heavy heart, here is yet another.

The woman in Pakistan — remember the stoning last week? — was named Amina. So is this one: Amina Al-Tuahif. She’s from Yemen, though she has lived in a moral universe so far removed from ours she might as well be from another planet.

  • In 1984, Amina al-Tuahif was born.
  • In 1995 she was married off. Age eleven.
  • In 1996, when she reached her menarche, she was impregnated. Age 12.
  • In 1998, (January), her husband was killed. She was pregnant with her second child. Age 14.
  • In 1999, following a confession arrived at under torture, she was found guilty of the murder of her husband. She was sentenced to death. Age 16.
  • In the next few years, she went through a series of appeals but at each juncture the sentence was upheld. While girls her age in America were trying to decide which prom dress to wear, she was contemplating her death.
  • In 2002, she was raped by a prison guard and impregnated. Her third pregnancy. Age eighteen.
  • In May, 2003, her son was born. Shar’ia law, compassionate in every detail, commuted her sentence until he reached the age of two — old enough to be weaned.

You’d think they’d just take the baby and let someone else raise it, wouldn’t you? But in Yemen (and the rest of the Muslim world) no one wants the offspring of a condemned woman and a rapist… not even her family. So Amina got to keep her son with her. Consider this: what is it like to have a baby in prison? What do you do for diapers? Do you get enough food for a nursing mother? You think? In Yemen?

Meanwhile, what about her other children? She’s not allowed to see them. Anyway, the younger daughter died in a car crash last year.

It is now May, 2005. Time to die. Tomorrow, her lawyer will arrive at the jail to take Amina’s son away. No one wants him. Amina must travel alone with her guards back to the village where they will kill her. Her parents are not permitted to see her. Age? Twenty-one.

So we have her story now. All the usual compassionate agencies and governments are making the usual attempts at intervention on her behalf. Perhaps they will succeed. Perhaps not.

Such a short, sad life.

Do you think it might be possible to save these little girls? If they’re going to be sold off anyway, why can’t we buy them? So many people want children. All these big, empty houses over here. All those sad little girls in the desert.

There is something very wrong with this picture.

The Past is a Foreign Country…

…They do things differently there.*

In this particular province of the past, Dymphna smokes a cigarette. Indoors. And in an art gallery, no less.

Those were different times. The poets studied rules of verse, and all the ladies rolled their eyes.

Our Russian commenter Elena requested that I post a photo of Dymphna when she was young. This is among the best from those early years. It was taken in 1982, when she was in her early forties, at the opening for one of my art shows in Washington D.C.

The photo of Dymphna holding the puppy (posted here) remains my overall favorite, but this one is a close second.

* L. P. Hartley, from The Go-Between

How Political Correctness Lowers IQ

This week’s installment of Dymphna’s greatest hits is from May of 2005. Like last week’s, it’s fairly timeless. Unfortunately, the website she originally linked to seems to no longer exist, so the link has been removed.

How Political Correctness Lowers IQ

by Dymphna
Originally published on May 5, 2005

Walter Williams doesn’t fly commercial airplanes much anymore. He used to, traveling to speaking engagements several times a month. But then along came 9/11. Or rather, along came Norman Mineta with his truly bizarre idea of “security”:

“While the security procedures are not based on the race, ethnicity, religion or gender of passengers, we also want to assure that in practice, the system does not disproportionately select members of any particular minority group.”

Never mind that the sentence itself is strange bureaucratese. We’ve become inured to the debasement of the language. Here’s what’s appalling: we may not speak about the reality that a particularly gendered ethnic group created the hell of 9/11. The elephant in the airport is the disproportionate self-selection of Muslim males on the “Most-Wanted” terrorist Lists.

The only group we avoid criticizing more than Muslim males are gay Episcopalian bishops.

This demand for political correctness has gone beyond the ridiculous into the regions of banal evil. There is an ugly strain of utopian idealism in our country, a virulent insistence on ‘fairness’ that undermines intelligence, merit and achievement. Not to mention virtue, the refuge of the uncool.

The malignant organism that rips the social fabric of American life, leveling differences while it pretends to celebrate them, PC everywhere insinuates itself into the crevices, using a cover of well-meaning to create vacuous, bizarre realities like “zero-tolerance” and unattended college sports programs for women (while men’s programs are eliminated).

It demands — and gets — bathrooms for the transgendered who cannot decide which restroom to use.

Pornography is our constitutional right but we shouldn’t be looking at images of the Twin Towers falling.

“Give Peace A Chance” means no dodgeball at recess.

“No Child Left Behind” means all will be mired in ignorance together. Even fewer will be able to point to Europe on the map, or know a quadratic equation from an interrogative sentence. A what??

No, ignorance is not the perceived problem. Unfairness is. The smallest infraction is insufficiently negligible to escape its notice. Yet PC has so blinded formerly normal people that children wander the school halls bent on murder and no one sees them until bodies are lying on the floor. “But he was such a nice boy.” More calls for gun control and therapy for bullies.

Political correctness has made us so stupid that some of us demand conversation with vaginas.

If we don’t rise up and call a halt to this social rot, terrorism will be irrelevant. We’ll be protozoa.

Orwell had no idea, absolutely none.

Read all of Walter Williams’ “The Sad, Stupid State of Airport Security.” It’s a three-parter at Human Events, beginning with the above link.

A Letter to the Editor of Newsweek

The latest installment of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits was first posted in the spring of 2005. The specific abomination purveyed by the Lügenpresse is no longer obvious, as it was when she posted it, but that makes it essentially timeless, since the sentiment could just as easily apply today to virtually any MSM story about Islam. If anything, the taqiyya of the press has gotten even worse in the interim.

A Letter to the Editor of Newsweek

by Dymphna
Originally published on May 16, 2005

Newsweek
251 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019-1894

Dear Sir,

If it bleeds it leads, right? So there you are, Newsweek. You have a great story to pursue. Don’t let the fact that you also have the blood of many lives on your hands get in your way. In your moral universe, that’s a small price to pay for the story. Especially if it’s a story that makes your country look bad. Just make sure you spell the names correctly:

NEWSWEEK’S IRRESPONSIBLE REPORTING USES
ISLAMIC TACTICS TO ATTRACT READERS

The ‘Islamic tactic’ you used in this case is called taqiyya. More than a millennium old, taqiyya is lying for the sake of your cause. It’s a useful tool in the quest for making America look bad, one that has been employed successfully by your fellow “journalists” Eason Jordan and Dan Rather. Not to mention the declarations of the “Afghan quagmire” crowd, or the endless lamentations of the New York Times over Abu Ghraib. You are in esteemed company. And how many people died as a result of all these machinations? Do you care?

Vietnam is over. Unfortunately, you and your ilk don’t appear to grasp this. You are stuck in a time-warp quagmire of your own making, the one you helped create back then to turn the hearts and minds of your fellow citizens against your own soldiers. But your fellow citizens aren’t virgins anymore. Having been lied to, led on, fed half-truths and canned dissembling, having been assured that gossip and rumor are fact-checked truth with a big “T”, we no longer believe anything you have to say.

And for that, for your slanted, morally obtuse search for muck and for what-might-be-so-let’s-pretend-it-is, you have made us all into fact-checkers. After all the lies and misleading, if you claimed it was raining outside, we’d still go to the window to check.

New motto for dealing with the MSM: distrust and then dig for the truth. It might not be in your version of the story; it’s surely in the steaming pile you made nearby.

Sincerely yours,
Gates of Vienna

Sheepdogs Driving the Bus

For the context of this essay by Dymphna, cast your mind back fourteen years to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit new Orleans during the last week of August, 2005.

Note: The domain where Bill Whittle’s “Tribes” essay was originally posted is no longer extant, so the link has been replaced with one to a mirror of the original.

Sheepdogs Driving the Bus

by Dymphna
Originally published on September 6, 2005

The blogosphere is reverberating with the drums echoing from Bill Whittle’s fine essay about the divisions of people into tribes. What follows is not exactly a summary; it’s closer to a synthesis of his ideas written for those of us with the attention span of your average Cub Scout. That being said (“that” meaning you should go read the real thing here), let’s look at Mr. Whittle’s fine images, beginning with the Pink People.

Whittle’s PPs are typified by Hollywood types, though Pink is not confined just to Hollywood — it’s simply that there are more Pink People per square inch in Hollywood and its environs than there are anywhere else, except perhaps in Washington, D.C., a place for which Pink People also have an affinity…

When you Think Pink, consider Sean Penn in his rescue boat — a four-person “rescue” boat which Mr. Penn fills with four people, one of whom is his personal photographer. A boat in which the plug had not been fastened so that there are many hilarious (or hideous, depending on your sensibilities) pictures of Mr. Penn bailing the boat with a red plastic cup. Mr. Penn, Pink Person extraordinaire, was not out to rescue anyone. This was merely his trip to Iran translated to American. He was in New Orleans to appear to be rescuing someone. No doubt he left money there also, to show he was acting in good faith (since he does not act particularly well, acting in good faith may be all he has left in his small bag of tricks). Mr. Penn may even have left some of his good-faith money with the mayor, who is definitely a Pink Person — a Pink Person appearing as a mayor. This pink-to-pink transfer allows all the Pinks to feel good, and to a Pink, feeling good is the summum bonum.

Pink people wear rose-colored glasses. They prepare for the future by grabbing as much material wealth as possible and then looking down on others, whose actions in life may originate from different motivations. Pink people do well until they are called upon to act decisively for others in situations where they themselves may be at risk. This situation does not cause a change in color. They simply scream in place until a grey person eats them or rescues them.

The grey people? Here is where I synthesize Mr. Whittle’s comments. He describes this grey as the color of concrete. Where Pink People are soft, Grey People are hard, like the graphite in mechanical pencils. They are that way on purpose because they act purposefully, wherever they are.

Some of the Grey Guys are Good Guys and some aren’t. The first group of GGs are the wolves, either those who are loners or those who run in packs. Some of the Grey Guys appear to be Good until push comes to shove and then they turn their coats and what you thought was a sheepdog, herding the rest of us, becomes a wolf, eating the rest of us. The sad misfortune of the Sheepdogs-turned-wolves in New Orleans — the police officers ‘captured’ on videotape breaking open display cases and looting stores — is that they cannot turn their coats back again. Once exposed, the wolf skin sticks tighter than mendacity does to Michael Moore. None of them may go home again because they helped demolish the place where they live and move and have their being. As the farmer says, not even an animal defecates where it eats. But those people did, ergo, they slipped below the level of animal to some subroutine in the reptilian brain we all possess.

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Dymphna, Patron Saint of the Insane

I just returned from my mini-vacation; everything went well. I got to see a play (a Neil Simon comedy) performed by a local amateur troupe, had dinner with friends and relatives, and drank adult beverages at a honky-tonk while listening to live music.

It wasn’t the same without my wife — those were Dymphna’s friends and relatives, too, and it was a place we had visited together numerous times in the past. Still, it made for a break from rattling around by myself in this empty house.

Below is this week’s installment of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits. As far as I know, this is the first time she told the story of St. Dymphna. It was originally published at The Neighborhood of God, and not at Gates of Vienna.

Dymphna, Patron Saint of the Insane

by Dymphna
First published October 25, 2005

This essay is dedicated to Erico.

The saints’ stories were among my favorites growing up. I don’t mean the anemic virgins-and-martyrs-eaten-by-lions books, illustrated with men and women lifting their eyes heavenwards as the lions stalked them in the background, waiting for the blessing of the food before they ate it. Nor did St. Sebastian, his body full of arrows, hold my attention, other than a brief look — “yikes” — and turn the page, please.

There were lots of men and women who were canonized for more mundane reasons than dying for their faith and it was their stories which attracted me. In my house, being full as it was of expatriate Dubliners, St. Patrick had pride of place. My mother never quite got over the fact that while New York City and Savannah had large parades on his feast day, the rest of the country used it as an excuse to drink green beer. In Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day, in serious honor to his name, the bars were all closed and the churches were open.

Alongside St. Patrick there was St. Bridgid. Early on, the Catholic Church had a rough gender equality; frequently a male saint had a companion female saint. They usually knew one another. To my mind, some of them probably got up to a little hanky-panky: the intensity of the holy can do that. One thinks of Heloise and Abelard, those star-crossed lovers who veered from the paths of holiness, dropping off into the ravines of fleshly distractions. In Spain, St. Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross were friends. He was the more mystic of the two; she was the reformer.

The thing is, the desire for union with God and the desire for union with another human being arise from the same root — the urge for transcendence, for flight from our solitary experience, for immortality. Given our differing temperaments, predilections, and experiences we can diverge in many ways from the usual paths of what the Church used to term “vocation.” The idea was not that we chose what we would do with our lives; instead we were to listen to that small inner voice in order to be given our marching orders. Within evangelical circles, I believe the term “calling” refers particularly to some kind of ministry. Back in the old pre-Vatican II days, it meant that you were supposed to have divine assistance in trying to figure out what you were going to do with this, your one and only life. Some of those choices were limited; now there are almost no limits at all and young people freeze in the quandary of too much choice and too little direction. Saint Dymphna’s situation was familiar: her “vocation” was not what she chose but rather what was forced upon her by circumstance.

But before we consider her story, let’s discuss its veracity. The oral tradition surrounding Saint Dymphna probably points to a real person, given some of the artifacts. In Roman Catholic terms, the relics of Dymphna are considered “first class” relics. But that’s hardly important here since we are talking about a mythos which likely formed around an all-too-familiar story, a situation which repeated itself through the generations in many areas of Europe (the story is too old to call these “countries” in the modern sense). There are similarly named women with comparable stories in Ireland and in Germany.

Since we can’t know for sure, and since there seem to be physical remnants of someone in a final resting place, I choose to envision Dymphna as real. For lack of a better term, call her my transitional object. But that’s my meaning: you can read her story and decide its significance for yourself. I am merely the teller of the tale. Since there are variations in the stories, I have chosen to present the dominant narrative while appropriating elements from various accounts.

Dymphna was born in the 7th century (a contemporary of Mohammed, though as far from Allah’s servant as one can be and still exist on the same planet). She was the daughter of an Irish chieftain father, Damon, and an unnamed Christian mother. At least this is how most stories present her parentage. Since Patrick knew intimately the clan system in Ireland his strategy was to convert all the chieftains first, knowing the rest would follow (a good strategy. It worked with Constantinople). Thus, it’s likely Damon was in fact a Christian, though this takes some of the luster off the shamrock. To get around the problem of his obviously murderous tendencies, he is often portrayed as a pagan rather than a Christian. Hagiography is not history.

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It’s All for Show

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits is a follow-up to last week’s, which discussed Annie Jacobsen’s encounter with the Syrian trombonists. This one is a review of Ms. Jacobsen’s book.

It’s All for Show

by Dymphna
Originally published on Sept. 27, 2005

Does the accumulation of four years without further terrorist attacks make you feel safer when you fly? It shouldn’t. The Bureaucratic Bunglers are out in full force and with them in charge you don’t have a prayer. Or rather, all you do have is prayer.

According to Annie Jacobsen, we’d better do our homework on this one because there is no one watching out for us. Back in April, Gates of Vienna posted on Ms. Jacobsen’s tenacity and her willingness to follow this story wherever it led. That post, “Silence of the Sheep,” proved that the author is a sheepdog indeed. Her interviews with other passengers, with government agencies, with the House Judiciary Committee, with airline personnel, and with individual people who bear the day-to-day hazard of working in this field, have made her case. The tale of her experiences is documented well in Terror in the Skies.

This is a top-down problem. The guys in harm’s way — the pilots and flight attendants — know the problems but they have no more power to address them than you do. Less than two percent of pilots are armed. Want to know why? Because in order to actually carry a firearm on board, the firearms training must be done on the pilot’s own time and it has to be done in a place far from home, squeezed into his holiday time or vacation.

And flight attendants? Again, they have to arrange self-defense training on their own time, at their own expense and without the cooperation of the airlines themselves. Think of it this way: what if Brink’s hired drivers and gave them no training in handling attempted robberies? What if they expected their employees to get training — if any — on their own time and their own dime? How long do you think Brink’s would be in business?

That’s the situation we have in the friendly skies of America. When you add to that the cruel joke of the Federal Air Marshals, the lackadaisical behavior of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the farce we all know as the Department of Homeland Insecurity, it’s enough to make you want to stay home and do your business by long-distance and email.

Let’s take just one: FAMS. This is bureaucratese for the Federal Air Marshal program. You know the old joke that goes “you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”? Well, for this program, the first part may or may not be the case, but for the second premise — being dressed funny — you can count on FAMS. Due to the boneheaded policies of those in charge, Federal Air Marshals are required to wear sport coats and collared shirts. Yes, that’s right: they must look like Federal Air Marshals at all times because they are a reflection of FAMS and dressing in a slovenly disguise would somehow bring disgrace to the organization. Comments about being a lovely corpse would be appropriate here.

Then there’s what they do after they’re up and dressed. Remember, they’re carrying guns, right? So obviously they can’t go through security. However, there’s a second obvious thing they can do — they can fight the current and walk through the exit lanes for deplaning passengers. How’s that for subterfuge?

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Silence of the Sheep

After taking a week off for the fundraiser, it’s Monday again: time for the latest installment in Dymphna’s Greatest Hits. This is the first of two parts; she wrote a follow-up several months later.

When I read this post earlier today, all the controversy about Annie Jacobsen and her airborne encounter with Syrian trombonists came flooding back into my mind. It was so long ago, and so much has happened since, that I had completely forgotten about it. It’s worth noting that the infamous “flying imams” incident hadn’t occurred yet — that was eighteen months after this post.

Silence of the Sheep

by Dymphna
Originally published April 25, 2005

Back when it happened, there was a big furor. Annie Jacobsen’s original account in July, 2004, of her trip to LA in which there were fifteen Arab men among the passengers on board the flight — men who seemed to her to be acting suspiciously — was fisked fifteen ways to Sunday. In the end, her story suffocated under the weight of condescending dismissal; many of her detractors used ad hominem attacks to discredit her story, accusing her of being publicity-hungry and worse. Even Snopes chimed in, labeling it a false urban legend.

Now the story resurfaces, this time with a four-and-half-hour interview of Jacobsen by the FBI. Again, she relies on her intuition, linking things the FBI agents tell her to make a story that fits her original concern.

The agents who sat with me all morning going over the events of flight 327 seemed sincerely committed to getting to the bottom of what happened on that flight. It seemed obvious that they believe something happened. Was it a probe? A dry run? A training exercise or an intelligence gathering mission? My sense is that the jury’s still out on a hard and fast answer. But flight 327 was far from a situation involving 13 hapless Syrian musicians and a case of bad behavior. [emphasis added]

Jacobsen’s recounting of the incident brings further information to light:

The first thing I clarified for the agents was that, prior to my experience on flight 327, I had never heard of a “probe” or a “dry run.” For the record, I explained, I had never heard of the James Woods incident either. (In case you’re not aware, the actor James Woods flew on an American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles one month prior to 9/11. Alarmed by the behavior of a group of four Middle Eastern men, Woods summoned the pilot and told him that he was “concerned the men were going to hijack the plane.” A report was filed with the FAA on Woods’ behalf but, tragically, no one followed up with Woods or the men. A few days after 9/11, several federal agents showed up in Woods’ kitchen…)

And when they showed up in Jacobsen’s kitchen, they told her that Mohammed Atta had been one of the four men on Woods’ plane in the month before 9/11.

Jacobsen’s original story seemed compelling. It had enough alarms to wake the nearest firehouse. Faced with the fact that there were fifteen men of Middle Eastern origin on the same flight as she was, and given their behavior, she relied on her intuition.

This faculty is crucial in battle; it can be the deciding factor and should never be ignored. What you can access of your own feelings in the midst of the situation may keep you inside the other guy’s OODA loop. Intuition is part of observing the territory — “territory” being you and your adversary. Intuition is a vital component in that map. Remember the old saying about “flying by the seat of your pants”? Colonel Boyd’s OODA loop broke that old chestnut open and showed how the pieces fit together not only to make a skilled pilot, but to bring him home more often than not.

That’s why Donald Sensing’s final analysis on this story was so disappointing. Here was a retired artillery officer, a man of discernment and integrity, who, instead of relying on his vast experience in field conditions, used his academic studies in textual exegesis, for heaven’s sake, to decide that her story failed on the merits:

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More Than One Way to Spell Stupid

This week’s installment of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits chronicles the shenanigans in our neighbor to the Frozen North, where cultural dementia — possibly cryogenically induced — perpetually reigns.

It makes me want to quote Shel Silverstein again:

Margo says that Rudy Felsh is a nasty vulgar kid.
Someday he’ll go to Hell or jail or Canada.

Once again, most of the links in this post seem to be dead. However, the links to Sissy Willis’ site still work.

More Than One Way to Spell Stupid

by Dymphna
Originally published on August 28, 2005

Remember how Adam was given the power — the permission — to name things? It’s in the story because we deeply understand that naming things bestows a kind of authority on the one passing out the labels. At least this is so if the label sticks, and this one ought to have glue all over it.

By now, we’re familiar with the Islamic idea of dhimmitude. It’s repugnant to the Western ideal of equality and brotherhood. Bat Ye’or has described only too well the dhimmitude of Eurabia. One prays that her predictions are too dysphorically tuned to be correct. Meanwhile…

…in Canada, they have dummitude, a neologism coined to meet the need to address the diminishing wits of our neighbors to the North. Sisu points out the latest hilarity (it’s hilarious if you don’t live in Toronto. If you are one of its benighted denizens, you might consider moving. If there is any safe place left. Ottawa has got another lock on the rapidly shrinking cultural IQ):

You’ve heard of dhimmitude — the denial of equal rights and dignity to infidels under Sharia law. Now there’s dummitude, the denial of human nature under Canadian law.

At issue is the presence in Canada of Natalie Glebova, this year’s Miss Universe. A nice coup, no? She’s gorgeous. She’s Canadian. What’s the problem?

Here’s the problem. In the place where feminists and Islamicists meet — and it’s obviously not any place you, dear reader, would want to visit — beauty pageants are bad. Awarding beauty for its own sake is so politically incorrect it makes the peecee meter melt. Thus, while Miss Universe does not yet have to wear the hijab, it is against the law for her to show up at any public function in Toronto wearing her tiara and sash:

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“Bless Her Heart”

This “greatest hit” from Dymphna did not actually appear at Gates of Vienna, but at Dymphna’s other blog, “The Neighborhood of God”. She set up TNoG not long after we started Gates of Vienna because she needed a place to post things that weren’t about the Counterjihad or politics. She sometimes jocularly referred to it as “my real blog”.

The future Baron suggested this selection for the Greatest Hits. It’s one of his favorites.

“Bless Her Heart”

by Dymphna

Originally published on September 6, 2012

Over at the other place I’d been discussing the latest liberal meme, one more artificial — but no less hateful — than usual. I’d mentioned Michelle Malkin’s recent essay at Townhall, “The Condensed Liberal Handbook of Racial Codewords”.

As often happens, my thoughts diverged from the main subject; in this case, the subject being quite ugly accusations against candidate Mitt Romney, claiming he used coded messages in speeches to tell purported insiders — i.e., white people — what was really going on.

I began with a great video from Bob Parks and went on to talk about Ms. Malkin’s essay and those “SEEKRIT” words.

Every single group or culture, or sub-culture within a larger one, has code words. It’s simply human nature. What makes the process poisonous is when one group is falsely accused of publicly using code to say vicious things about another group as though the second group were too stupid to catch on.

The tipping point of paper-thin-skinned black grievance neurosis may have finally been reached. I certainly hope so. By now the accusations of — as Ms. Malkin puts it so well — RAAAAAACISM!- have been done to death. For the most part, average people find the whole rage and pity-pot victimhood simply tedious. It has become like trying to reassure a child who stubbornly hangs on to his giant refusal of reassurance because he needs his anger more than he needs justice or harmony.

At any rate, that essay led me far afield, into pondering the kinds of social dog-whistle talk that exists among all groups. I often found myself in social hot water in New England because I didn’t know the rules — rules that others had long learned by heart.

However, being raised in the South, I knew most of the Byzantine rules and moves of Southern social intercourse — without even knowing I knew them until I moved back here and found myself moving within in a more familiar milieu. A fish back in her own lily-padded pond once more.

In order to truly understand it so that it’s part of your being, you have to have lived immersed in a local culture from before you could think. Being a first-generation American, I missed some of the finer points. On the other hand, being a not-quite-outsider makes one a kind of participant observer; thus you notice more than the born-and-bred folks, the people who ask, “Bless your heart, you’re not from around here, are you?”. When I studied Anthropological Methods in college, I was surprised to discover I’d been living those methods all my life. I called what I did “standing in the doorway”… less academic, perhaps, yet more evocative for born outsiders.

But I want to relate it back to the so-called dog-whistle political talk of that earlier essay, and to make the broader point that group talk always partakes of some dog-whistle undertow. Those currents are meant to carry the stuff at the bottom swiftly along without every little detail having to be brought to the surface for discussion.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Here’s an example from my own experience.

American Southern women (black and white) have a number of expressions that sound for all the world like innocuous fluff. To insiders, though, these phrases convey volumes without ever having to say anything that smells bad. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but since one in particular has been exposed of late, let use it for the purposes of demonstrating social dog-whistle.

This one was perhaps my favorite of all until some Miz Big Lips had to go blab it to the world just to get a laugh. Some folk are desperate for attention, as I’m sure you’ve noticed: anything for a laugh, including betrayal of your own. Now it has become harder to employ this useful filler while maintaining a straight face or, more importantly, a polite fiction.

I’m talking about this all-purpose expression, used for generations by Southern women to cover a multitude of social emergencies: “bless her heart”.

I’ll give you a hypothetical situation, sans much context. The setting is a kitchen table around which three women are seated. Two of them are talking, the third is simply observing. There is a fourth woman, not present, who is the focus of this snippet of conversation:

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The Thing With Feathers

This is the latest installment in the series “Dymphna’s Greatest Hits”. It was originally published on March 11, 2005. As previously, some of the embedded links no longer work.

The Saga of Mukhtar Mai, Continued

This week, the Canadian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Ms. Margaret Huber, has given Rs2.1 million to Mukhtar Mai for the continuation of her educational work in Punjab.

This follows the public outcry, going on for three years now, against the brutal gang rape of this village woman who was set up to take the retribution required for her young brother’s alleged dishonorable behavior. The whole ugly story was a set piece, a frame-up to distract attention from the fact that her brother was the first victim in this story: he was kidnapped and taken to a field to be sodomized by a group of men from a powerful family in his village

On June 22, 2002, three Mastoi men kidnapped Abdul Shakur, a tall boy 11 or 12 years of age. They took him to a sugar cane field. Then they took turns sodomizing him. “They asked me if I would tell my family,” Abdul recalled. “When I said yes, they beat me up. Then they locked me up in a room.”

Subsequently, Abdul was joined in the room by a young woman, Salma Naseen, from the Mastoi family. Then the police were summoned and the boy was accused by his sodomizers of having an affair with Salma. He was arrested and jailed.

It is at this point that Mukhtar Mai becomes the next victim. When the powerful Mastoi clan convened the village council to address their grievance, the outcome was never in doubt. The sentence in the case could have been the forced marriage of Abdul and Salma, but the Mastoi were hardly likely to agree to the union of one of their clan with a member of a poorer and less prominent family. Instead, Mukhtar was dragged from the village to the field where the tribal council had convened. In retribution for her brother’s ‘crime’ she was ordered to be raped by four men.

For an hour and a half, as other Mastoi people “danced in jubilation,” Abdul Khaliq and three other men raped her. Then Mukhtaran Mai was forced, before perhaps 300 people, to walk home naked.

Her father covered her with a shawl and took her in.

Usually, a woman thus humiliated simply commits suicide. There is no life left for her in her village after such an experience. Mai considered doing just that, and then…and then, in some mysterious transformation that can occur in the midst of devastation, Mai decided instead to fight back. She brought charges against the men. She stood firm against the death threats. The ostracism? What had she to lose after her long, naked walk home?

The higher court in Lahore overturned the convictions of the men who raped her, a legal decision which threatens her safety. But three years into this battle, Mai is too strong to kill. And the Islamofascists know it. Money has poured in from all over the world. She has used it to start schools, have them wired for electricity, buy textbooks and supplies, and begin to look for ways to make her projects self-sustaining.

Stories of courageous transcendence are universally compelling. Ms. Mai embodies the magic of transformation: a small woman in a remote village in Punjab is gang-raped. Just like so many before her, she is used and disposed of. Phoenix-like, she rises from the ashes of her humiliation and sets out to tell the world. Her story is proof that there is more to the news than simply bad news; there is also a desperate and overwhelming need for stories of personal redemption.

This case will go on to the Supreme Court. Given the outcry in all of Pakistan, the rapists may yet be sentenced. This excerpt from The Daily Times (Pakistan) illuminates the changing of the guard:

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