Replying to charge that I am anti-woman, uncivilized, unworthy of consideration, and (the most unkindest cut of all) humorless

Here is the second, and necessarily much longer, comment I’ve posted at the thread at New English Review that started when NER editor Mary Jackson emitted the elevated remark: “Perhaps Hirsi Ali is a bit too uppity for Auster.” Mark Richardson of Oz Conservative and VFR commenter mik have also contributed to the discussion.

Mary Jackson writes:

“I get worried when the people question the idea that women are just as human as men.

“A civilised society is one that treats women as equals. Islam doesn’t, therefore Islam has no place in a modern civilised society. Lawrence Auster thinks women should not have the vote. His ideas are therefore not worthy of serious consideration. He also has no sense of humour whatsoever. This is quite a feat.”

Where do I start replying to this stunning display of incomprehension, undiluted liberalism, political correctness, and cheap ad hominem attack by the senior editor of what I had thought was an intellectual conservative website?

Let’s start with the incomprehension. Mary Jackson says:

“Lawrence Auster thinks women should not have the vote.”

I suppose she is referring to a recent discussion at my website, where I raised the question whether women’s political equality is a good thing for society. In discussing women’s political rights, I made it clear this was a separate issue from human rights, civil rights, and property rights. Also, I said repeatedly in that discussion that I had no definite opinion on the matter. Thus:

“I do not have an agenda to take away women’s political rights, as my views on the subject are not completely formed, and also we obviously have much more pressing issues facing us at this time. However, among the other aspects of modern culture and politics that traditionalists freely question, we need to question whether women’s political equality is on balance a good thing for society. There are reasonable grounds for concluding that it is not.”

Now to say that there are reasonable grounds for concluding something does not mean that one concludes that thing. I frequently describe positions I disagree with as “reasonable.” It is evident to any half-sentient person reading that thread that I am exploring a topic, and making arguments that are open to examination and may be correct or incorrect, such as that the women’s vote over time tends to lead society toward the Provider State and the end of true liberty. Now, is this assertion true, or untrue? If a person thinks that it is true, does that mean he thinks women are less human than men? No, it means he thinks that women have dispositions different from men, which, when expressed in the political sphere independently of men, will over time lead society in a more leftward direction. A thinking person, not under the sway of liberal tyranny, might be interested in exploring such questions. And that’s what I was doing in that thread.

In any case, Jackson’s statement that I think women should not have the vote is simply false.

That takes care of Jackson’s incomprehension. Next comes her liberalism. She writes:

“I get worried when the people question the idea that women are just as human as men. A civilised society is one that treats women as equals.”

According to Jackson, a society that does not give women the vote, is treating women as less human than men. Moreover, such a society is not civilized. Therefore, according to her, America and Britain before women had the vote were uncivilized societies. The Britain of Victoria and Albert, and the cult of the nuclear family that they inaugurated, and Christmas trees, and the great age of Romanticism, and the great 19th century novelists and poets, and the Oxford movement, and the neo-Gothic movement, and the spread of science, and the appearance of universal manhood suffrage (which only came about in 1867—men were being treated as less than human too!), and the rise of broad middle class prosperity for the first time in the world—the Britain that did all this, according to Jackson, was an uncivilized society. This was a society in which women were seen as not fully human. Britain only became civilized and human when women got the vote around 1910.

The implication is that people must look at the entire history of their civilization BEFORE women got the vote as something dark and ugly, which makes them despise the entire past of their civilization and thus its present as well. No one who despises the entire past of his civilization can love his civilization. We see this contempt expressed most strongly on the left, for example, in a movie like The History Boys (see my discussion of it here).

Since Britain as a historic civilization is dark and inhuman, the only reason to approve of Britain is its progress toward equality. And that of course is the definition of liberalism.

What then is the difference between Mary Jackson of the New English Review and the contemporary left of Britain and America? Both Jackson and the left think the entire past of their civilization is brutish and hateful and they define moral goodness solely in terms of equality.

Jackson writes:

“A civilised society is one that treats women as equals. Islam doesn’t, therefore Islam has no place in a modern civilised society.”

According to Jackson, lack of the women’s vote alone would mean that the West is not civilized and therefore unworthy of love. The West prior to women’s political equality would not have been better than uncivilized Islam and would not have been worth defending against Islam. If Jackson had been around when Vienna was being besieged by the Ottomans in 1683, or when the Arabs and Moors were invading Gaul in 732, she would have had no basis on which to defend Christian Europe from the Islamic invaders, since for her the only reason to support the West is modern women’s equality.

Jackson doesn’t love the West as a historic people, civilization, and tradition. She only loves equality. And that is the very definition of a liberal.

Also, in her reply to mik, Jackson writes:

“If half the population are denied political rights, why not other rights too? Either women are fully human, with the same rights as men, or they are not.”

So according to Jackson, since women did not have political rights in, say, 1840, therefore men in 1840 had NO REASON not to deprive women of their human rights as well, meaning that they had NO REASON not to enslave women, rape them, torture them, and kill them. This is what Jackson thinks of her own people and civilization. She thinks there is NO MORALITY in Western civilization other than that of modern, 20th century equality. Yet in the 1830s Tocquville told about a young unmarried woman who traveled unaccompanied from one end of the United States to the other and was never once treated rudely by a man. And that was an America where women did not have the vote.

Now we come to Jackson’s political correctness. She writes:

“Lawrence Auster thinks women should not have the vote. His ideas are therefore not worthy of serious consideration.”

The topic that began this discussion had nothing to do with the women’s vote but with Hirsi Ali’s positions on Islam. The question was whether Hirsi Ali is helping the West against Islam or weakening it. I have argued at length, based on Ali’s own statements and positions, that she is not pro-Western and is not really an ally of the West against Islam. People can agree or disagree with my argument. But Jackson doesn’t merely disagree with my argument. She says that the fact that I have written about some of the negative effects of women’s political equality means that my ideas on Islam and how to defend the West from Islam are not worthy of consideration. Because my ideas on women’s rights are not acceptable to Mary Jackson, my ideas on ALL topics are off the charts. My views on all topics should be ignored. I am to be expelled from political discussion.

Also, for a man to be told that he “doesn’t like women” that he’s “anti-woman” is a very intimidating thing to say in today’s world. Most men will not put themselves in a situation where this might be said about them, so they remain silent on women’s issues. The crack of the whip of women’s tyranny today is not a negligible force. Look at what happened to Lawrence Summers. He suggested that women may not be equal to men in the highest reaches of science and math, and for this he was hounded from his job. When a woman says a man is anti-woman, that is the sheerest exercise of feminist PC, aimed at silencing discussion and removing reasonable positions and persons from the public square.

Finally, there’s the cheap ad hominem. Jackson writes:

“He also has no sense of humour whatsoever. This is quite a feat.”

Jackson began this exchange with a cheap, mindless smear against me: “Perhaps Hirsi Ali is a bit too uppity for Auster.” In my initial response I politely explained my position on Ali and my reasons for criticizing her. It takes a particular type of PC audacity to smear a person, and then when he reasonably explains his position, to sneer that he “has no sense of humor.” As though, when a person in today’s world is told that he’s “anti-woman,” he’s supposed to see that as a joke. In fact, this is a common device of the campus left. They will call people racist or sexist, and when they’re called on it, they’ll say they were just “joking, can’t people take a joke?” Thus they have it both ways. They crack the whip of PC tyranny, and when their targets defend themselves, mock them for their lack of humor.

That’s all I have to say about Jackson.

As for NER contributor and editor Rebecca Bynum, I must say I am disappointed that she has given Jackson her unqualified endorsement in this discussion.

I sent a follow-up comment:

Also, Jackson wrote:

“Lawrence Auster thinks women should not have the vote. His ideas are therefore not worthy of serious consideration. He also has no sense of humour whatsoever. This is quite a feat.”

In one sentence, Jackson writes that because of my views on women, my ideas—on any subject—“are not worthy of serious consideration.” In the next sentence, she says I have no sense of humor. For the editor of a supposedly respectable website to seek to marginalize a person, and in the next breath attack him for his lack of humor—that indeed is quite a feat, worthy of a Stalinist mentality.

- end of initial entry -

James W. writes:

I do not have the heart to follow NER displaying how easy it is to behave like liberals. This must be our innate default behavior. I realize you must answer attacks, Lawrence, even when they will not respond to reason. But I won’t watch them lower the bar and wiggle under it. I know what you are, and therefore I know what they are, so I will afford myself the luxury of moving on to other things.

Ali Hirsi. Because we admire what she has done—refusing to be a victim (a recent subject on your pages)—so we are too often inclined to give her a pass in judging her many other opinions. Yet in not providing her the same challenge and debate we would supply to others, we have done her no favors. She proudly carries the message of aggressive atheistic liberalism along with the those other ideas and accomplishments that have gained her freedom and fame.

I can’t resist—the women’s vote. It is quite possible to say women’s suffrage would change the political culture for the worse, and still support it for other reasons, or even campaign for it were it not already established. To say it did not change the culture is a claim not quite made, yet still managing the sly inference that it could not have been changed for the worse, and only for the better.

James P. writes:

“In saying that women should not be allowed to vote, Auster is saying that they are not fully human.”

The right to vote defines full humanity now? Minors, felons, the insane, and foreigners are not—and should not be—allowed to vote, but nobody denies that they are “fully human.”

Of course, no doubt the liberals would retort that all those groups should be enfranchised (not least because they’d all vote for the Democrats).

Gintas writes:

That was a well-argued answer to hysterical charges. The moral reasoning about our past “uncivilized” state was impressive, as was the yeoman help from Richardson, et al.

An iconoclast is (according to ” a breaker or destroyer of images, esp. those set up for religious veneration” or “a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.” Certainly “Iconoclast” is not a label conservatives are drawn to wear. It seems to match a transgressive longing liberals have.

LA replies:

Iconoclast is certainly an odd name for a website (the blog section of New English Review) whose editor is as PC as Mary Jackson.

Pandora’s Box writes:

What a baby! This is her way of engaging the subject: to declare she doesn’t like the way you sort things out?

And stamp her little foot.

She’s not talking to you anymore, PiTA. So, there, poopyhead.


LA replies:

Hah hah. I’m laughing out loud.

Remind me, what does the TO preceding PiTA stand for?

Pandora’s Box replies:

The Other.

Mary Jackson is not ready for prime-time.

Glad you got a laugh.

LA replies:

Hah hah, right, now I remember.

[Note: the reference is to when David Horowitz, on the occasion of kindly telling me to “Go away Lawrence,” called me a “big pain in the ass,” and Pandora said in solidarity that she was one too.]

Lady Lexington writes:

She is using a form of Argumentum ad Hominem called “poisoning the well.” This seems to be the Argument of choice for liberals these days. It is like asking “have you stopped beating your wife?”

This is a logical trap in an effort to tempt audience into committing an Ad Hominem fallacy. Arguments must stand or fall on its own, regardless of who makes it.

As a female I’ve also had some serious doubts about the wisdom of allowing women to vote. I find the feminization of our institutions such as the military alarming. When I went to Amsterdam I was disconcerted by how feminine the men seemed.

Van Wijk writes:

Notice the response at the New English Review by the Undercover Black Man who is neither:

7 Aug 2007
Undercover Black Man:

Lawrence Auster is a piece of work. He responds to a cheeky barb from Ms. Jackson by calling her words “ignorant and stupid.” (Quite unchivalrous, from a man who exalts Victorian England.)

He takes grievous offense at Ms. Jackson’s attempt to “marginalize” him, when it was he who put forth the profoundly self-marginalizing notion that we consider disfranchising women.

He proclaims himself victimized by a “crack of the whip of women’s tyranny,” even as he seeks to legitimize a discussion of reducing women to a second-class citizenship.

Mr. Auster is a walking stewpot of extremist political ideas: banning the Muslim religion; advocating “mass removals” of Mexicans (including legal resident aliens) from America; even pondering the possible need for a “peaceful separation between the races.” And now, a reconsideration of women’s voting rights.

The man has quite thoroughly marginalized himself.

Have you gotten the feeling that this fellow is sort of following you around? It’s hard to say where his fascination with you comes from (unless he’s another Conservative Swede that you’ve let down in some minuscule and bizarre way).

LA replies:

He’s truly a second-hand type individual, living parasitically off another person, namely me. Not pleasant. Remember it was through his publication of his correspondence with David Horowitz about me and Horowitz’s subsequent expulsion of me that he got his biggest notice on the Web, and I suppose he’ll want to keep repeating the experience. He’s made exposing my bad-ness, or rather my strangeness, his personal crusade. I wish he would, to quote what David Horowitz said to me, just go away, but I guess there’s little chance of that.

Van Wijk replies:

A “second-hander.” I’ve not read that for many years.

But far better it is to be the host than the parasite itself.

LA writes:


I’ve just scanned the discussion at NER and see that Mary Jackson still thinks I’m calling for the end of the women’s vote, and that for her this whole debate is about protecting her vote from me and my desire to take it away from her, even after I clearly explained that that wasn’t the case. Her cluelessness and inability to conduct a debate are evident.

Also I notice that she calls herself a feminist. A person cannot be a feminist and be any kind of conservative at the same time. As Nicholas Davidson wrote in his introduction to his translation of Louis de Bonald’s On Divorce, the very idea of feminism is that we divide society up into “women’s interests,” “men’s interests,” and “children’s interests,” and seek to advance the women’s interests as a separate thing. This is inherently destructive of the well-being of society as a whole. It also means making equality and freedom our supreme ends, which of course is the definition of liberalism. Conservatives are not against equality and freedom in specified contexts, but they do not make them the ruling principles of society.

Mark Richardson writes:

I enjoyed reading your reply to Jackson. You set out the arguments with your usual clarity. I was impressed too by some of the other contributions, especially the one by J Maxwell (who I’ve never heard of previously).

Despite UBM’s attempt to blacklist you (no pun intended), I don’t think the discussion thread would have led, overall, in that direction. I think it was Jackson who was becoming a bit more defensive in the end (denying that she was totally PC).

LA replies:

Thank you. The point was not whether there was an attempt literally to blacklist me, but that Jackson was using my discussion about the negative aspects of the women’s vote to delegitimize anything I had to say about any subject, in this case, about Hirsi Ali and Islam, even though the two subjects had nothing to do with each other. And that had to be exposed. When liberals are called on something like this, they deny what they were up to, and act as if their target is being excessively defensive.

What also had to be exposed was general knee-jerk liberalism which makes the women’s franchise the test of civilization, canceling out all civilization prior to the 20th century. Everything prior to us was darkness. Which leaves Westerners with nothing to defend. The West itself becomes a void, its only possible direction toward ever more equality and inclusion of others.

Also, here is a previous exchange at New English Review, where both Robert Bove and Mary Jackson made intellectually lazy, dismissive comments about something I had said about the condition of Britain, and I replied.

Spencer Warren writes:

Mary Jackson here actually fits the stereotype of women as emotional, not rational.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 06, 2007 09:29 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):