Novelist Ian McEwan Explores The ‘Lessons’ Of Modern Morality

Celebrated novelist Ian McEwan is back with 'Lessons,' a novel that crosses a few continents, spans several decades, and catalogs even more anxieties.

Woke lesson at public high school told students they're privileged if they're Christian, straight, or male. Now district reportedly is doing damage control.

A California school district reportedly went into damage control mode after the Daily Signal called it out for lessons that told high school students they are the beneficiaries of privilege if they are Christian, male, or straight.

What are the details?

The Desert Sands Unified School District in La Quinta, which is in Riverside County, said it was taking “corrective” measures after the lessons came to light, the outlet said.

"The lesson was not in alignment with the district-adopted curriculum” and “actions are being taken to rectify the situation," the district told the Daily Signal in a statement, adding that "the teacher was operating outside the scope of [the] adopted curriculum and had potentially presented a biased position. Corrective action is underway.”

The outlet said it hasn't been able to identify which teacher used the lesson.

District parent Celeste Fiehler posted the lesson in the Facebook group Informed Parents of California after another parent told her about it, the Daily Signal said.

What do the materials say?

The outlet said pages from lessons dated Nov. 15 to 19 tell students if they “don’t have to think about it, it’s a privilege.”

“If you can use public bathrooms without stares, fear, or anxiety, you have cisgender privilege,” one graphic reads, the Daily Signal reported, adding that another graphic reads, "If, while growing up, college was an expectation of you, not a lofty dream, you have class privilege.”

Fiehler said in her Facebook post that the material was used in a ninth-grade English class in which students were told “no cellphones allowed," the outlet said.

“Wonder why,” she added in her post, according to the Daily Signal.

The outlet said neither La Quinta High School nor Desert Sands Unified School District immediately responded to its requests for comment.

Don't forget about white privilege!

The Daily Signal said the lesson plans appear to be from a 2014 University of San Francisco Intercultural Center campaign with messages such as:

  • "If you can expect time off from work to celebrate your religious holidays, you have Christian privilege;"
  • “If you’re confident that police exist to protect you, you have white male privilege;"
  • “If you cannot be legally fired from work because of your perceived sexuality, you have heterosexual privilege."

'Propaganda of these diversity, equity, and inclusion folks'

Such lesson plans and visual messages “reduce human beings and children to the lowest common denominator,” Asra Nomani, vice president for strategy and investigations with the grassroots education organization Parents Defending Education, told the outlet.

She added to the Daily Signal that "a child who happens to grow up with an expectation of college should not be shamed. A child who grows up heterosexual should not be made to feel like they are carrying some kind of privilege.”

Nomani also told the outlet "what's so ironic is that these posters negate the entire philosophy of honoring a person’s ‘lived experience,’ [which is part of] the propaganda of these diversity, equity, and inclusion folks. All it does is erase human beings and reduce them to labels."

Horowitz: Cases surging in Hawaii – with the strictest mask mandate

Based on geography, seasonality, and latitude, when it is your turn to get the virus, you will get it. You can’t place a tarp, a mask, or a lockdown in front of a virus, the same way you can’t arrest the movement of a hurricane; you must deal with it with a healthy and functioning society. That is the enduring lesson of what we are seeing throughout the world, where there is zero correlation between human input and the trend of the virus. Hawaii is the latest example of this phenomenon.

Hawaii might possibly have the strictest lockdown and mask mandates in the country. It is essentially as strict as the Philippines, though without the threat of being shot by police. However, the state has jailed people for violating lockdown orders (while releasing 38% of all its real criminals in jail!). Tourism has been nonexistent, and all remaining visitors were told to quarantine. There has been a mandate in place requiring mask-wearing indoors since April and now even outdoors for the past month – even while jogging!

The result? Cases are surging more than ever – just like in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Israel, Australia, and every southern latitude area with a strict mask mandate and lockdown.

A friend created a graphic on Twitter juxtaposing Hawaii’s COVID-19 case trend line (even adjusted for increased testing) to the lockdown and unprecedentedly low social mobility score of its population.

If mask mandates were ever going to work to stop a spread, it would have occurred in Hawaii, which is isolated from the rest of the world on all sides. In fact, the exact opposite happened.

Keep in mind the state’s testing rate is still low. They're testing 131K per million population vs. a 202K per million national average. Testing has increased somewhat, as in all states, but even when you adjust cases to test levels of April 8, today’s numbers are still 55% higher and rising fast.

Well, maybe people aren’t listening and are gathering too much? Not a chance.

As you can see, Hawaii’s mobility score of shoppers and travelers has essentially remained flat, at unprecedented low levels. There never has been a true reopening, yet cases are surging. The state’s mobility score is much lower than the U.S. average:

Like most other countries that engaged in heavy-handed police state tactics, Hawaiians have nothing to show for their lockdown but a crushed economy and lives lost. Sure, they still have a low death rate, but that has nothing to do with stopping the spread with mandates. The spread was not stopped. The low death rate is likely driven by the same theory behind the low death rates in all the Pacific Rim countries – they have a high rate of cross-immunity from persistent coronavirus colds.

The same dynamic is unfolding in New Zealand. The country has been in a perpetual state of lockdown since March at an unfathomably painful cost. Now they have discovered a new cluster of community spread. Where did it come from? The virus does what the virus does. The only question is whether you will destroy your country while it does.

Just take London and Stockholm, for example, as a tale of two diverging cities. The former had a strict lockdown to this very day, while Stockholm eschewed any mandatory lockdown and masking policies. According to research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, they both have about 17% seroprevalence among their respective populations. As the BBC observes, “experts” predicted 40% of people in Stockholm would have antibodies, but as I noted before, because of inherent T cell immunity, the virus appears to stop before that benchmark. Everyone will have to achieve herd immunity, but that threshold is much lower for this virus.

The big difference, however, is that Sweden achieved this without destroying its country, while England suffered a 20% drop in GDP this past quarter. That translates into tens of thousands of additional lives lost from despair, stress, substance abuse, and suicide.

All these countries that thought they dodged a bullet by locking down earlier than the U.K., such as the other Nordic countries, are now at risk for future waves of the virus. There is already evidence the virus is spreading in all the Nordic countries – except for Sweden.

Sweden, with its northern climate, is not known for sunshine, but life looks a lot sunnier there than anywhere else, especially in the tourist haven of Hawaii. Well, the former tourist haven. Hawaii crushed its tourism industry with mandatory quarantines backed by the threat of criminal prosecution. Now they have 22.6% unemployment, the second highest rate in the U.S., with nothing to show for it but surging cases and hundreds of criminals roaming the streets.

3 ways Russia's anti-American Iranian base move imperils the US

The revelation that Russia is using an Iranian base to launch airstrikes in Syria, representing the first foreign military to operate on the Islamic Republic’s soil since World War II, has significant ramifications for the U.S.

While Russia’s role in the 2016 election may be largely confined to hacking and similar efforts meant to destabilize our domestic politics — as Russia has been doing in Europe for decades — its moves on the world stage should merit great concern from those looking beyond this cycle and toward a world that in many ways is going Russia’s way, contrary to America’s national interest.

Below are three critical takeaways from the latest move stemming from Russia’s strategic partnership with Iran.

1. Vladimir Putin is the ultimate opportunist

Vladimir Putin has recognized that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been one of retrenchment, support for jihadist uprisings, and above all the empowerment of Iran as the region’s hegemon. This has created an opportunity for Russia to embed itself in the region, supplanting the U.S. and allowing it to project its power while embarrassingly running circles around us. Filling the vacuum the Obama administration created, and seizing upon the “flexibility” it was promised, Russia is siding most closely with the region’s hegemon in Iran, not only in its support of the Iran-backed Assad regime in Syria, but in its sale of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to the Khameinists. This is the only reason why a move skirting Iran’s constitution, like allowing another military to use Iranian bases, would ever be considered, let alone permitted. While supporting the main Shia power in the region, Russia has also sought to cultivate relations with Sunni leaders such as Turkey’s Erdogan and Egypt’s Sisi. The end result is that Russia is working to ingratiate itself with all sides on the Middle East to ensure that its economic, political, and military interests are achieved, all while flouting the wishes of the U.S.

2. Russia’s “terror-fighting” provides a convenient cover for its true aims

Russia claims in its use of the Iranian air base and more broadly that its efforts on the ground in Syria are essential to helping it destroy ISIS. As we know, however, the Putin regime has other aims in Syria. It seeks to keep in power the Assad regime with which it is allied, and thus has targeted various other opposition groups —many of which, like ISIS, consist of jihadists —on the ground in Syria’s civil war. Some of the groups Russia has attacked are U.S.-backed. While it is the height of folly in this author’s opinion to be backing the euphemistically identified “moderates” in Syria (read: “good jihadists”), Putin’s striking of such groups and America’s cowardly reaction is telling. More importantly, the question of what happens if and when ISIS is destroyed in Iraq and Syria has not yet been asked in America. One logical answer is that Shia jihadism, as controlled by Iran, will spread significantly. Iranian proxies are fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria, and the removal of a Sunni jihadist counter to Iranian power will enable Iran’s sphere of influence to spread further. Russia will be partially to credit for making the Shiite Crescent possible.

3. Russia feels free to act with impunity

As Bloomberg’s Eli Lake describes it, Russia’s use of an Iranian base represents the latest in a series of humiliations for the Obama administration. He writes:

For the last year, Secretary of State John Kerry has worked and worked to get Russia to help end Syria’s civil war. He has cajoled. He has sniped. He has spent countless hours in meetings and on the phone with his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. And he pretty much has nothing to show for it…

As soon as the Iran nuclear deal was concluded last July, the Russians and Iranians began plotting a surge for Syria on behalf of the dictator, Bashar al-Assad. As Kerry made plans for talks in Geneva, the Russians set up air bases in Syria. Once their campaign started, they bombed U.S.-backed Syrian rebels. In June, Russian planes bombed a U.S. and British special operations base near the Syrian border.

But the announcement of the bombing from Iran stings Kerry the most. Kerry himself, only a year ago, told the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, had told him after the completion of the nuclear deal, “I am now empowered to work with and talk to you about regional issues.”

Now the Iranians can’t stop working with the Russians about regional issues. Meanwhile, Iran keeps detaining and arresting American dual-nationals, testing missiles and threatening American allies.

Russia’s staunch support for a regime that seeks to destroy America — Kerry’s delusions notwithstanding — and America’s inability or unwillingness to check it indicate that Russia can and should continue to act freely in the region. If America has no will to stop Iran, surely it has no will to stop Iran’s close partner in Russia.

We should not be surprised to find Russia manipulating jihadist groups, further to America’s detriment, as it has developed such ties over many decades. As Michael Weiss details in a trenchant article in the Daily Beast, evidence suggests that Russia is playing a long double game in the Middle East of portraying itself as a counterterrorist regime that can work amicably with America, while also facilitating the transfer of jihadis out of Russia’s borders and into the Middle East, supplying ready fighters for groups like ISIS that Russia claims to be fighting.

In so doing, Russia rids itself of jihadist threats to itself, while creating havoc in the Middle East, which of course can be harmful for the U.S. and helpful in driving up prices for the oil which is the lifeblood of the Russian economy.

There’s an old saying befitting of the Putin regime to the effect that “all Russia is deception.” We should not deceive ourselves, however, about the fact that Russia is doing all that it can to spread its influence and infect every body politic to which it can attach itself to serve its own ends.

Nevertheless, perhaps the biggest takeaway of all is that America’s own lack of moral clarity, or worse, complicity with evil, has enabled a dictatorial, kleptocratic KGB regime to ascend in the early years of the 21st century. As with the Islamic supremacists, Russia knows what it wants. The same cannot be said for the America that must serve as a bulwark against its tyranny.

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