. . . Progressive Liberals have viciously criticized Justice Clarence Thomas for refusing to represent his racial class on the Supreme Court. He sees his duty, instead, as following the rule of law and the Constitution. When the law classifies on the basis of race or attempts to promote racial class interests, he has written many times, it undermines the rule of law by violating the crucial principal that all persons are equal before the law. Progressive Liberals despise Thomas for arguing that “benign” racial classifications to benefit racial classes or groups are morally equivalent to invidious racial classifications designed to harm or disadvantage racial or ethnic groups. Race, an arbitrary, inessential feature of the human persona, has no role to play in the rule of law. Since rights belong to individuals, Thomas correctly insists, they are not conditioned by the racial class an individual happens to occupy.
Justice Thomas is so politically incorrect that he may not even be black. (We “cannot tell every story,” says the Smithsonian Institution about Thomas’s absence from the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.) If race is as much a political fact as a biological one, then the failure or refusal to promote a group’s interests and identity nullifies membership in that group. Conversely, Bill Clinton was acclaimed America’s first black president.
The vicious insanity of contemporary liberals is truly mind-boggling. But that's nothing new. What may be worth pointing out, however, is that the bolded passage, with which I fully agree, is contested not only by leftists but also by alt-rightists and neo-reactionaries.
Both groups, while otherwise at each other's throats, jump into the same bed when it comes to the importance of 'blood.' Both groups favor an identity politics in which race is an essential determinant of one's very identity. I have a post (56 comments) in which I lament the tribal identification of so many blacks and in which I recommend getting beyond tribal identifications. But certain 'alties' or NRs would have none of it: they think that the right response to black tribalism is white tribalism.
In another post I cited the Declaration's "all men are created equal," which elicited from an NR the riposte that it is false! The response displayed a failure to grasp that the famous declaration in the Declaration is not an empirical claim about the properties and powers of human animals whether as individuals or as groups, but a normative claim about persons as rights-possessors.
Some good points are made by some on the Alternative Right. But their response to the insane extremism of the Left is -- wait for it -- a reaction that is also extreme, though not insane. Trads and the alties share some common ground, so dialogue is possible; but self-enstupidated leftists are beyond the pale of dialogue. They are enemies that have to be defeated, not fellow rational beings with whom it would make sense to have a conversation. One hopes that their defeat can be achieved politically; but extrapolitical means remain 'on the table.'
A lot rides on the concept of person when it comes to differentiating a tenable conservatism from the reactionary particularism of the Alt Right. A separate post will sketch a personalist conservatism.
TRIGGER WARNING! Clear, critical, and independent thinking up ahead. All girly-girls, pajama boys, and crybullies out of the room and to their safe spaces and sandboxes. If you play nice, Uncle Bill may serve milk and cookies.
The following is excerpted from a much longer discussion with some alt-rightists/neo-reactionaries. I am not one of them. I am more of a traditional conservative. But the alties and the trads agree in their opposition to the effete and epicene, spineless and supine, go-a-long-to-get-along, yap-and-scribble, do-nothing, milque-toast 'conservatives.'
Differences in social role as between the sexes are grounded in hard biological facts. The biological differences between men and women are not 'social constructs.' The male sex hormone testosterone is not a 'social construct' although the words 'hormone' and 'testosterone' and the theory in which which they figure are. That women are better at nurturing than men is grounded in their biological constitution, which lies deeper than the social. This is not to say that all women are good at raising and nurturing children. 'Woman are nurturers' is a generic statement, not a universal statement. It is like the statement, 'Men are taller than women.' It does not mean that every man is taller than every woman.
Does it follow from the obvious biologically-grounded difference between men and women that women should be discouraged from pursuing careers outside the home and entering the professions? Here I begin to diverge from my alt-right interlocutors. They don't like talk of equal rights though I cannot see why a woman should not have the same right to pursue a career in medicine or engineering or mathematics or philosophy as a man if she has the aptitude for it. (But of course there must be no erosion of standards.) How do our alt-rightist/NRs, who do not like talk of equality, protect women from men who would so dominate them as to prevent them from developing their talents? On the other hand, men as a group are very different from women as a group. So we should not expect equal outcomes. It should come as no surprise that women are 'under-represented' in STEM fields, or in philosophy.
Why are women 'under-represented' in philosophy? Because women as a group are not as good at it as men as a group, because women as a group are not as interested in it as men as a group, and because the feminine nature is conciliatory and averse to what they perceive as the aggressive, combative, and hostile aspects of philosophical dialectic. This is surely a large part, if not the whole, of the explanation, especially given the Affirmative Action advantage women have enjoyed over the past half a century.
The hostility often felt by women reflects something about the nature of philosophy, namely, that its very lifeblood is dialectic and argument. Argument can be conducted civilly, often is, and of course ought to be. But it still looks to the female nature as a sort of 'fighting,' a sublimated form of the physical combat that men are wont to engage in, even when dialectic at its best is no such thing. So there is something in the nature of philosophy and something about females that explains their 'under-representation.' Those are sneer quotes, by the way. Anyone with an ounce of philosophical intelligence can see that the word I am sneering at conflates the factual and the normative. Therefore it shouldn't be used without sneer quotes.
You cannot refute my point about women by citing women who like the blood-sport aspect of philosophy. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. Harriet Baber, for example, who is Jewish and exemplifies the Jewish love of dialectic, writes:
I *LIKE* the blood-sport aspect of philosophy. To me, entering my first philosophy class, freshman year (1967) and discovering that you were not only allowed to fight but that the teacher actually encouraged it was liberating. As a girl, I was constantly squeezed and suppressed into being "nice" and non-confrontational. I was under chronic stress holding back, trying to fudge, not to be too clear or direct. But, mirabile dictu: I got into the Profession and through my undergrad, and, oh with a vengeance in grad school at Johns Hopkins, everything I had been pushed throughout my childhood to suppress, and which I failed to suppress adequately to be regarded as "normal," was positively encouraged.
Anecdote. I once roomed with an analytic philosopher at a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute. I recall a remark he made about philosophical discussion: "If you are not willing to become a bit of an asshole about it, you are not taking it seriously." The guy was obnoxious, but he was right. In a serious discussion, things can get a little tense. The feminine nature shies away from contention and dispute.
If you deny that, then you have no knowledge of human nature and no experience of life. Ever wonder why women are 'over-represented' among realtors? It is because they excel men when it comes to conciliation and mediation. I don't mean this as a snarky put-down of the distaff contingent. I mean it as praise. And if females do not take it as praise are they not assuming the superiority of male virtues?
It is a non sequitur to think that if the Xs are 'under-represented' among the Ys, then the Xs must have been the victims of some unjust discrimination. Men are 'under-represented' among massage therapists, but the explanation is obvious and harmless: men like to have their naked bodies rubbed by women in dark rooms, but women feel uncomfortable having their naked bodies rubbed by men in dark rooms. It is not as if there is some sort of sexism, 'institutional' or individual, that keeps men out of massage therapy.
Blacks are 'over-represented' in the NFL and the NBA. Is that because of some racism 'institutional' or individual, that keeps whitey out? Of course not. Blacks are better than whites at football and basketball. Jews are just terrible. Chess is their athletics. Jews dominate in the chess world. Is that because the goyim have been suppressed?
Does my talk of blacks and Jews make me a racist and an anti-Semite ? To a liberal-left dumb-ass, yes. For they are incapable of distinguishing between a statement whose content is race and a racist statement.
As it seems to me, I am treading a via media between the excesses of the neo-reactionaries and the even worse excesses of the leftists. My challenge to the NRs: How can you fail to see the importance of equal treatment of men and women? One of the NRs claimed that the notion of equality of opportunity is vacuous. Why? To require that applicants for a job not be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, or creed, is not vacuous. It has a definite content. That it could use some spelling out is not to the point. What I mean is this. Some creeds are such that people who hold them must be discriminated against. Suppose you are an orthodox Muslim: you subscribe to Sharia and hold that it takes precedence over the U. S. Constitution. You ought to be discriminated against. You ought not be allowed to immigrate. The U. S. Constitution is not a suicide pact. This is a point that Dr. Ben Carson made a while back in connection with eligibility to become POTUS. But the scumbags of the Left willfully misrepresented him.
For more on this exciting topic, I send you to Rightly Considered where a brief entry by Criticus Ferox has ignited a lively discussion.
This Holtschneider (Woodcutter) must have sawdust for brains. Where is the 'bigotry' in standing up for the rights of the unborn? How can a Catholic cleric who is the president of a Catholic university grovel in such sickening and supine fashion before the forces of political correctness?
Holtschneider is an all-too-common case of administrative cowardice and abdication of authority. No sane person ought to be concerned about 'hurting the feelings' of the thugs of BLM by stating the obvious: ALL lives matter, and therefore,
So what else is new? That the sky is blue? The trouble with Trump is that he doesn't know enough about the issues to punch back effectively when Mrs. Clinton lets loose with one of her whoppers. He let her escape several times during their third and final debate. Sean Davis:
In her answer to a question about her views on gun rights, Clinton said she opposed the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which recognized the constitutional right for individuals to own and carry firearms, because it was about whether toddlers should have guns.
[. . .]
So what was the Heller case really about? It was about whether Dick Anthony Heller, a 66-year-old police officer, should be legally allowed to own and bear a personal firearm to defend himself and his family at home.
[. . .]
If Clinton opposes an individual’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms to protect his or her family, she should just come out and say so instead of blatantly lying about the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter. But it gets better: after claiming that the Heller decision was all about toddlers, Hillary then claimed that the Constitution guarantees a right to partial-birth abortion, a practice that requires an abortionist to rip an unborn baby from the womb, stab or crush her skull, and then vacuum out her brains. Because Hillary Clinton’s top priority is protecting innocent children from violence.
Hillary is a stealth ideologue who operates by deception. This is what makes her so despicable. If she were honest about her positions, her support would erode. So not only are her policies destructive; she refuses to own them. She is an Obamination both at the level of ideas and at the level of character.
Do you value religious liberty? Then you must work to defeat Hillary Clinton, which is to say: you must vote for Donald Trump.
The Left, being totalitarian, brooks no opposition and is brutal in its suppression of religion. Consider the example of Fr. Ernest Simoni:
Persecution in Albania was exceptionally harsh, even for Communist Eastern Europe. Among the living martyrs who were present and greeted Francis was Fr. Ernest Simoni. He gave a moving account of his almost three decades spent in Albanian labor camps; Francis was visibly moved.
The history behind this personal story is worth recalling. The conflict between the Catholic Church and Communist state in Albania can be divided into three stages:
1) 1944-1948 when the government terrorized and persecuted believers and clergy;
2) 1949-1967 when the government tried to “nationalize” or Albanize the country’s religions, and to establish a National Albanian Catholic Church similar to the Patriotic Church created by Albania’s then-ally, Communist China. This stage reached its culmination with Albania proclaiming itself the world’s first atheist state;
3) 1990 to the present, during which the Albanian Church awoke after decades of martyrdom and persecution.
Fr. Simoni was arrested on December 24, 1963, just after he had finished celebrating the Christmas Vigil Mass in the village of Barbullush, Shkodër. Four officers from the Albanian Secret Police (Sigurimi) showed up at his church and presented him with arrest and execution orders. “They tied my hands behind my back and began beating me, while we were walking to the car,” he recalled.
He was brought to the interrogation facility and kept in complete isolation, suffering unbearable tortures for three consecutive months. The accusation was that he had been teaching his “philosophy.” He taught his people “to die for Christ.” During three months of confinement and interrogation, the persecutors tried to force him provide evidence against the Catholic hierarchy and his brother priests, which he refused.
There is an interesting American connection to his persecution. One of the accusations against Fr. Simoni was that he had celebrated a requiem Mass for the repose of President Kennedy’s soul, exactly a month after the Catholic president’s death. A journal found in Fr. Simoni’s room featured a picture of President Kennedy and was presented to the court as material proof – of something or other.
“By God’s grace, the execution was not carried out,” Fr. Simoni recalled. After the trial, he was sentenced to twenty-eight years of forced labor, working first in the mines and then as a sanitary and sewage worker, until the fall of Communism in 1991.
We are regularly forced to endure a new left-wing manufactured, media-supercharged hysteria.
The latest is the tsunami of horror in reaction to Donald Trump's gross and juvenile comments made in private 11 years ago.
The tsunami of condemnation of his remarks is quintessential left-wing hysteria. That more than a few Republicans and conservatives have joined in is a testament to the power of mass media and hysteria to influence normally sensible people.
This is hysteria first and foremost because the comments were made in private. I would say the same thing if crass comments made by Hillary Clinton in private conversation had been recorded. In fact, I did. In 2000, in a Wall Street Journal column, I defended Hillary Clinton against charges that she was an anti-Semite. That year it was reported that Clinton had called Paul Fray, the manager of her husband's failed 1974 congressional campaign, a "f---ing Jew bastard."
Even the left-wing newspaper, the Guardian, reported that three people -- two witnesses and Fray -- confirmed the report.
Nevertheless, I wrote in the Journal, "I wish to defend Mrs. Clinton. I do so as a practicing Jew and a Republican. ... We must cease this moral idiocy of judging people by stray private comments."
What we really need is an Association of Conservative Philosophers. (The resonance of the initials ACP will not be lost on my astute readers.) The contributors to Rightly Considered may want to take this ball and run with it.
We've known all along that Trump is crude and Clintonian in his sexual appetite, although not as bad as Bill in terms of deeds; but the Wikileaks data dump brought something new and objectively far more important to our attention. It is another revelation of Hillary's greed, mendacity, secretiveness, and lust for power. We get a whiff of her doctrine of 'two truths' one for the insiders, the other for public consumption. There is her assault on national sovereignty with her call for a borderless world. This supercilious stealth ideologue who has enriched herself in government 'service' absolutely must be stopped, and there is only one man who can do it. Jeb! never was up to the job.
What's worse, a P-grabber or a gun grabber? The former operates on occasion and in private in the 'noble' tradition of Jack Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. The latter would violate sacred American rights for all and forever. Don't believe Hillary's lies about supporting the Second Amendment. She lies whenever it is useful for advancing herself and her destructive agenda. In that order.
And then there is the utter hypocrisy of liberals who, having presided over when not promoting the injection of moral toxins into our culture, moralize about Trump's admittedly disgusting and puerile locker-room talk. Heather MacDonald gets it right in Trumped-Up Outrage. As does Margot Anderson who points out that Dems have no problem with the objectification of females if they are small enough. Rebecca Tetti offers this important insight:
These people who celebrate porn and abortion and make heroic figures out of small-souled, sex-deluded creatures such as Bill Maher and Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke and lionize sick predator men like the Kennedys and Bill Clinton are not merely being hypocrites or playing politics when they denounce Trump. They are deliberately engaging in The Lie: the corruption of meaning itself. They aren’t outraged because they’re decent. They’re using our decency as a pawn in their quest for political power.
The insight is that the Left uses our decency, which they don't believe in, against us, mendaciously feigning moral outrage at what doesn't outrage them at all. (Cf. Saul Alinsky's RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”)
And then there are the milquetoast pseudo-conservatives who have withdrawn their support from Trump out of fear of losing their position, power, perquisites, and pelf. That other 'P-word,' to use Megyn Kelly's demure expression, seems rightly applicable to them. The motivations of Senator McCain and the boys are transparent enough.
Thomas Sowell on the sad state of our elite universities. Excerpt:
There is no barbed wire around our campuses, nor armed guards keeping unwelcome ideas out. So there is no "iron curtain." But there is a curtain, and it has its effect.
One effect is that many of the rising generation can go from elementary school through postgraduate education at our leading colleges and universities without ever hearing a coherent presentation of a vision of the world that is fundamentally different from that of the political left.
There are world class scholars who are unlikely to become professors at either elite or non-elite academic institutions because they do not march in the lockstep of the left. Some have been shouted down or even physically assaulted when they tried to give a speech that challenged the prevailing political correctness.
Harvard is just one of the prestigious institutions where such things have happened -- and where preemptive surrender to mob rule has been justified by a dean saying that it was too costly to provide security for many outside speakers who would set off campus turmoil.
Despite the fervor with which demographic "diversity" is proclaimed as a prime virtue -- without a speck of evidence as to its supposed benefits -- diversity of ideas gets no such respect.
What follows, from Victor Davis Hanson, is the correct view on illegal immigration. But you will never get a destructive, hate-America leftist to accept it:
Illegal Immigration. No country can exist without borders. Hillary and Obama have all but destroyed them; Trump must remind us how he will restore them. Walls throughout history have been part of the solution, from Hadrian’s Wall to Israel’s fence with the Palestinians. “Making Mexico pay for the wall” is not empty rhetoric, when $26 billion in remittances go back to Mexico without taxes or fees, largely sent from those here illegally, and it could serve as a source of funding revenue Trump can supersede “comprehensive immigration” with a simple program: Secure and fortify the borders first; begin deporting those with a criminal record, and without a work history. Fine employers who hire illegal aliens. Any illegal aliens who choose to stay, must be working, crime-free, and have two years of residence. They can pay a fine for having entered the U.S. illegally, learn English, and stay while applying for a green card — that effort, like all individual applications, may or may not be approved. He should point out that illegal immigrants have cut in line in front of legal applicants, delaying for years any consideration of entry. That is not an act of love. Sanctuary cities are a neo-Confederate idea, and should have their federal funds cut off for undermining U.S. law. The time-tried melting pot of assimilation and integration, not the bankrupt salad bowl of identity politics, hyphenated nomenclature, and newly accented names should be our model of teaching new legal immigrants how to become citizens.
Indeed, in the debate Monday night, Clinton framed her discussion of “implicit bias” as a malady we all suffer from, telling Lester Holt:
“I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other.”
Well, yes, too many people do jump to conclusions. So, what’s the solution, Hillary? When it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers. Wait. What? If we’re all biased, who’s training whom? Let’s be very clear: When it moves from abstract to concrete, all this talk about “implicit bias” gets very sinister, very quickly. It allows radicals to indict entire communities as bigoted, it relieves them of the obligation of actually proving their case, and it allows them to use virtually any negative event as a pretext for enforcing their ideological agenda.
What bothers me about David French is that, while he writes outstanding columns in support of the conservative cause, he is, last time I checked, a NeverTrumper.
Would it be fair to label him a yap-and-scribble milquetoast 'conservative'? He talks and talks, writes and writes, but refuses to support the one man who has any chance of impeding Hillary and the Left's destructive 'long march' (Mao) through the institutions of our society. That is so strange and so absurd that one may be justified in a bit of psychologizing. Perhaps the explanation of his behavior and that of others in his elite club is revealed in this column by F. H. Buckley:
I gave a talk to a conservative group not so long ago, when the NeverTrumper still lived in his fantasy wor[l]d. They believed that the voters and delegates would finally come to their senses and nominate the amiable Ted Cruz, or that somehow they’d jigger the Convention rules, or that the absurd Great White Hope, David French, would do the trick.
It was four months ago, and I gave my usual anti-Pollyanna talk of gloom and doom. When I finished people lined up to ask questions, and one of them was a senior executive at a prominent DC think tank. “It’s true we’re going to Hell in a hand-basket,” he said, “but this time we’ve got a lot of great think tanks on our side.” Right you are, I thought. Bad as it might be, you can say “I’ve got mine.”
I thought of that when I talked to a friend yesterday. He spoke of dinner parties ruined when NeverTrumpers start abusing Trump supporters. Then he told me of one dinner party at which two of the most prominent NeverTrumpers confessed why they want Hillary to win. They know they’ll have no access to the Trump White House if he wins. Nor would they have any access to a Hillary White House. The difference, however, is that their donor base would desert them in the event of a Trump victory, whereas they can raise money from donors in the event of a Hillary win.
We had figured this out. We’re just surprised to hear them admit it.
Apparently, Richard Swinburne, perhaps the most distinguished of contemporary philosophers of religion, had the chutzpah to defend a traditional Christian view of homosexuality at a meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers. This provoked the outrage of certain cultural Marxists.
If only a 'trigger warning' had been issued prior to Swinburne's address! Then the whole controversy might have been avoided. The girly girls and pajama boys could have padded off to their sandbox to play with their dolls until the start of the next session.
Required reading for a sense of the depth of the rot in contemporary academe. Here is the conclusion of Dreher's article:
The fact that a Yale philosophy professor not only holds such vicious opinions towards another professor who apparently only stated a historically standard Christian philosophical view of homosexuality, but who also did not hesitate to publicly denounce that professor in the most vulgar possible terms, is a striking sign of the revolutionary times. To give you a sense of the ideas that are considered so vile as to be unutterable, even in a Christian philosophers’ conference, I searched in Swinburne’s 2007 book Revelation to see what his view on homosexuality is. To my knowledge, there has been no transcript provided of his SCP talk, but numerous online comments by philosophers who were there said that there was nothing in it that Swinburne had not already said in Revelation (which was published by Oxford University Press, not known for being a purveyor of National Socialist tracts) It’s possible to search on Amazon and find the relevant pages in the Swinburne book. It starts on p. 304. As best I can tell, here is his argument:
Children need two parents. The inability to beget children is a “disability.”
Homosexuality, by this definition, is a disability.
Disabilities need to be prevented and cured.
What causes homosexuality? We don’t know, but it’s likely some combination of genetics and environment.
We can change the environmental conditions by discouraging people from homosexual acts, and embracing a homosexual identity.
There is always a possibility that the disability called homosexuality might be cured, so therapy should be considered. But as of now, we have no reason to think that it will be successful, except in a slight number of cases.
In any case, homosexuals should be encouraged to be chaste, just as heterosexuals should be encouraged to be chaste in the face of their own disordered sexual impulses.
We must show love and compassion to homosexuals (and others with disordered impulses), but real love and compassion implies wanting not what they want, but what is best for them.
Therefore, to love gays (and everybody else) is to desire that all who live outside the bounds of normative heterosexual marriage live in chastity.
This is a very common Christian argument from Scripture and the natural law. For a more detailed version of this argument, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the meaning of sex and sexuality. The Catholic Church teaches that all sexual acts and all sexual desire outside of heterosexual marriage (including masturbation, and use of pornography) are disordered, because they disrupt the purpose of sex (= the unity of the couple, open to the possibility of the conception of new life). This is why the Church condemns contraception as a deformation of the right use of sex. The Catechism calls homosexuality “intrinsically disordered” because it is a state of sexual desire that can in no way be rightly ordered.
One can easily see why contemporary philosophers would object to this, and theyshould object to it, philosophically, if it violates their principles. But the idea that what Swinburne said is some sort of crazy right-wing blast from the bowels of Hitleriana, not fit to be stated in philosophical company, is insane.
But I don’t think Stanley and his academic confreres are insane, not in the least. I think they are radical progressive ideologues. I think they deliberately want to demonize any philosophers who hold to the traditional Christian teaching on the meaning of sexuality, particularly homosexuality. One of the most prominent contemporary philosophers is Princeton’s Peter Singer, who has advocated bestiality (under certain conditions) and the extermination of handicapped newborns. Singer is welcome within contemporary philosophical circles … but Richard Swinburne is now to be anathematized?
Anybody with eyes can see what’s going on here. There is a cleansing underway. The fact that the Society of Christian Philosophers is allowing itself to be bullied by these people is deeply depressing. Christian philosophers ought to be defending Swinburne’s right to state his opinion, even if they disagree with that opinion.
(I should add here that one of the handful of reasons I would even consider voting for Trump is the certain knowledge that a Hillary Clinton administration would only further the cultural hegemony of cutthroat revolutionaries like Stanley and his fellow travelers.)
The Left is dangerous for a number of reasons with its disregard for truth being high on the list. For the Left it is the 'narrative' that counts, the 'script,' the 'story,' whether true of false, that supports their agenda. An agenda is a list of things to do, and for an activist, Lenin's question, What is to be done? trumps the question, What is the case? Paraphrasing Karl Marx's 11th Thesis on Feuerbach, the point for a leftist is to change the world, not understand it. See here: "Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert, es kömmt drauf an, sie zu verändern." "The philosophers have only variously interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it." (my trans.)
The leftist's aim is the realization of 'progressive' ideals, and if the truth stands in the way, then so much the worse for it. Inconvenient truths are not confronted and subjected to examination; their messengers are attacked and denounced.
So when Larry Summers, then the president of Harvard University, speculated in 2005 that women might be naturally less gifted in math and science, the intense backlash contributed to his ouster.
Two years later, when famed scientist James Watson noted the low average IQ scores of sub-Saharan Africans, he was forced to resign from his lab, taking his Nobel Prize with him.
When a Harvard law student was discovered in 2010 to have suggestedin a private email that the black-white IQ gap might have a genetic component, the dean publicly condemned her amid a campus-wide outcry. Only profuse apologies seem to have saved her career.
When a leftist looks at the world, he does not see it as it is, but as he wants it to be. He sees it through the distorting lenses of his ideals. A central ideal for leftists is equality. And not in any such merely formal sense as equality under the law or equality of opportunity. The leftist aims at material equality: equality of outcome both socially and economically, equality in point of power and pelf. But the leftist goes beyond even this. He thinks that no inequalities are natural, and therefore that any inequalities that manifest themselves must be due to some form of oppression or 'racism.' But because this is demonstrably false, the leftist must demonize the messengers of such politically incorrect messages or even suggestions as that the black-white IQ gap might have a genetic component.
This truth-indifferent and reality-denying attitude of the leftist leaves the conservative dumbfounded. For he stands on the terra firma of a reality logically and ontologically and epistemologically antecedent to anyone's wishes and hopes and dreams. For the conservative, it is self-evident that first we have to get the world right, understand it, before any truly ameliorative praxis can commence. It is not that the conservative lacks ideals; it is rather that he believes, rightly, that they must be grounded in what is possible, where the really possible, in turn, is grounded in what is actual. (See Can What is Impossible for Us to Achieve be an Ideal for Us?) And so the conservative might reply to the activist, parodying Marx, as follows:
You lefties have only variously screwed up the world; the point, however, is to understand it so that you don't screw it up any further.
There is a paradox at the heart of the radically egalitarian position of the leftist. He wants equality, and will do anything to enforce it, including denying the truth (and in consequence reality) and violating the liberties of individuals. But to enforce equality he must possess and retain power vastly unequal to the power of those he would 'equalize.' He must go totalitarian. But then the quest for liberation ends in enslavement. This paradox is explained in Money, Power, and Equality.
Hillary is a supine defeatist in the face of Islamic terror and ought to be held in contempt for that and other reasons, as witness her recent remark that Trump is a recruiter for ISIS.
It's a good thing Hillary wasn't around when the Axis Powers were the main threat to civilization. She would have argued that we cannot name and condemn the ideology driving the Wehrmacht lest we antagonize Germans and cause more Nazis to rise up against us.
A tip of the hat to London Karl for bringing the following to my attention. Karl writes, "I love your country, but it gets more absurd by the day."
It does indeed. Contemporary liberals are engaged in a project of "willful enstupidation," to borrow a fine phrase from John Derbyshire. Every day there are multiple new examples, a tsunami of folderol most deserving of a Critique of POOR Reason.
Here is a little consideration that would of course escape the shallow pate of your typical emotion-driven liberal: If Kant's great works can be denigrated as products of their time, and as expressive of values different from present-day values, then of course the same can be said a fortiori of the drivel and dreck that oozes from the mephitic orifices of contemporary liberals.
A YouTube video by William S. Lind with footage of Martin Jay, David Horowitz and Roger Kimball. Traces the origin of cultural Marxism from the breakdown of economic Marxism and the role of the Frankfurt School including discussion of the '60s New Left guru, Herbert Marcuse.
By the time I began as a freshman at Loyola University of Los Angeles in 1968, the old Thomism that had been taught out of scholastic manuals was long gone to be replaced by a hodge-podge of existentialism, phenomenology, and critical theory. The only analytic fellow in the department at the time was an adjunct with an M. A. from Glasgow. I pay tribute to him in In Praise of a Lowly Adjunct. The scholasticism taught by sleepy Jesuits before the ferment of the '60s was in many ways moribund, but at least it was systematic and presented a coherent worldview. The manuals, besides being systematic, also introduced the greats: Plato, Aristotle, Thomas, et al. By contrast, we were assigned stuff like Marcuse's Eros and Civilization. The abdication of authority on the part of Catholic universities has been going on for a long time.
Wrangling over terminology and nomenclature is a good part of what goes on in the culture wars. For he who controls the terms of the debate controls the debate. What I call semantic rehabilitation is one side of this.
'Gaffe,' for example, has a negative connotation. It refers to to a social or political blunder or misstep, a faux pas, a noticeable and usually embarrassing mistake. A recent example is Gary Johnson's query, "What's Aleppo?" which betrayed his ignorance of the fact that Aleppo is a city in Syria as opposed to, say, one of the Marx brothers. (Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, Chico . . . Aleppo!)It is perhaps not all that surprising that a Libertarian who favors marijuana legalization and a non-interventionist foreign policy would not know about Aleppo.
Semantic rehabilitation involves taking a word or phrase with a negative connotation and giving it a positive one. This morning I noticed at a couple of lefty sites the following definition of 'gaffe': "a statement that's politically damaging precisely because it's true." The authors were referring to Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" smear.
But of course that is not what 'gaffe' means. Meaning, however, is fluid, tied as it is to use. So if our lefty pals can make their mischief stick, they will have (a) narrowed the meaning of 'gaffe' and (b) given it a positive connotation.
What is the opposite of semantic rehabilitation? Whatever we call it, it is illustrated by the fate of 'checkered past,' which has come to possess a negative connotation as I demonstrate in A Checkered Past.
Martin Castro, an Obama appointee, is chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Here’s Mr. Castro: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”
Mr. Castro’s is the prevailing view among progressives. Barack Obama alluded to it when he derided small-town Americans bitterly clinging to guns or religion (i.e., the Second and First Amendments). Ditto for Mrs. Clinton, who in a remark about reproductive rights declared that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” (William McGurn, WSJ, 12 September 2016)
We should thank Mr. Castro for giving us such a clear and concise insight into the mind of the Left.
Note first the liberal-left obsession with hypocrisy. Why does it so exercise them if not because of their hatred of religion with its difficult-to-achieve moral demands? ("He who so much as looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." I quote this hard saying from memory. Too hard, a lefty might say: it drives people to hypocrisy.) They hate the stringent moral demands religion makes and so they attack as hypocrites those who preach them.
To a leftist, preaching can only be 'moralizing' and 'being judgmental.' It can only be the phony posturing of someone who judges others only to elevate himself. The very fact of preaching shows one to be a hypocrite. Of course, leftists have no problem with being judgmental and moralizing about the evil of hypocrisy. When they make moral judgments, however, it is, magically, not hypocritical.
And therein lies the contradiction. They would morally condemn all moral condemnation as hypocritical. But in so doing they condemn themselves as hypocrites.
Coded Speech and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion
To understand the Left you must understand that central to their worldview is the hermeneutics of suspicion which is essentially a diluted amalgam of themes from Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.
Thus nothing has the plain meaning that it has; every meaning must be deconstructed so as to lay bare its 'real meaning.'
Suppose a conservative says, sincerely, "The most qualified person should get the job." Applying the hermeneutics of suspicion, the leftist takes the conservative to be speaking 'in code': what he is really saying is something like: "People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race."
Or suppose a conservative refers to a black malefactor as a thug. What he has actually said, according to the hermeneutics of suspicion, is that the malefactor is a nigger. But 'thug' does not mean 'nigger.' 'Thug' means thug. There are thugs of all races.
Leftists often call for 'conversations' about this or that. Thus Eric Holder famously called for a 'conversation' about race. But how can one have a conversation -- no sneer quotes -- about anything with people who refuse to take what one sincerely says at face value?
One of Trump's signature sayings is "Make America great again!"
To a leftist, this is a 'racist dog whistle.' It doesn't mean what it manifestly means; there is a latent sinister meaning that we can thank Bill Clinton for exposing. It means -- wait for it -- “That message…America great again is if you’re a white Southerner, you know exactly what it means, don’t you. What it means is I’ll give you an economy you had 50 years ago and I’ll move you back up on the social totem and other people down.”
The irony is that Slick Willy used the same sentence himself!
Here we come to the nub of the matter. The liberal is a piece of moral scum who refuses to treat his political opponents as rational beings, as persons. He dehumanizes them and treats them as if they are nothing but big balls of such affects as fear and hate bereft of rational justification for the views they hold.
Good commentary from Roger Kimball on the Flight 93 piece by Publius Decius Mus.
Kimball now has a more positive view of Trump:
As recently as a few weeks back, I was a lesser-of-two-evils, reluctant Trump supporter: classic Russian roulette vs. the loaded semi-automatic that is a Hillary Clinton victory.
But then Trump embarked on a series of high-profile speeches and rallies. I liked what he said about taxes and economic policy. I liked his list of possible SCOTUS nominees. I liked what he said about supporting the police and the plight of blacks in the inner cities. I liked what he said about combatting Islamic terrorism (what Barack Obama calls “workplace violence”). I even liked most of what he said in hisimmigration speech in Arizona. I thought it was courageous and “presidential” for him to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. I thought he did the right thing in going to lend moral, and even a bit of material, support to the victims of the floods in Louisiana. I was grateful when he released a video commemoratingthe canonization of Mother Teresa. I was happy to see him supporting school choice, standing up for religious freedom, and criticizing those who mock Christians and people of faith.
I know there will be some who object, “But how do you know he will do all things things.” The answer is, I don’t.
But I do know what Hillary would do: Obama on steroids. She’s a known-known. She would, as Publius warns, complete the “fundamental transformation” of this country into a third-world, politically correct socialist redoubt.
There is a fair amount of hysteria among NeverTrumpers about “The Flight 93 Election,” which I guess underscores just how potent its argument is. (The fact that Rush Limbaugh read it aloud on his radio show redoubled that potency.) As I say, I’ve come around to thinking that there are plenty of good reasons for someone of conservative principles to support Trump. I know, and have repeatedly rehearsed, the standard litany of criticisms about Trump. But they fade if not into insignificance then at least into near irrelevance in the face of his actual program (see above) and, most of all, in the face of the horror that is his opponent. I’ll give the last word to Publius: “The election of 2016 is a test . . . of whether there is anyvirtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.”
The great James Burnham once remarked that where there is no alternative there is no problem. Fortunately, we do have an alternative, and, my, we do have a problem. I was wrong when I predicted that Donald Trump would not be the candidate. I hope I will be proved wrong about my prediction that, were he the candidate, he would not win. The trends are promising, I think, but it would be foolish to deny that there are madmen in the cockpit or that many of the passengers are scared, apathetic, deluded, or just plain cowardly. We need a real-life Decius Mus who is willing to say “Let’s roll” and make a concerted charge. It may be the last chance we have.
Hillary Clinton we now know to be a liar beyond any shadow of a reasonable doubt. A liar is one who habitually makes false statements with the intention of deceiving her audience. This definition, however, presupposes the distinction between true and false statements. Aphoristically: no truth, no lies. Hillary cannot be a liar unless there is truth. But maybe there is no truth, only narratives. Here, perhaps, is a way to defend Hillary. Perhaps the outrageous things she says are merely parts of her narrative. So consider:
N. There is no truth; there are only narratives.
It follows that (N) itself is only a narrative, or part of one. For if there is no truth, then (N) cannot be true. Is this a problem? I should think so. Suppose you want to persuade me to accept (N). How will you proceed? You can't say I ought to accept (N) because it is true. Will you say that I ought to accept (N) because it is 'empowering'? But it cannot BE empowering unless it is TRUE that it is empowering. You cannot, however, invoke truth on pain of falling into inconsistency. No matter which predicate you substitute for 'empowering,' you will face the same difficulty. If you recommend (N) on the ground that it is F, then you must say that (N) IS F, which leads right back to truth.
Being and truth are systematically connected. The truth is the truth about what IS, and what IS is at least possibly such as to be the subject matter of truths. (A classical theist can go whole hog here and say: necessarily, whatever IS is the subject matter of truths, and every truth is about something that IS. But I am not assuming classical theism in this entry.)
So you can't say that (N) is empowering or conducive to winning the election or whatever; all you can say is that it is part of your narrative that (N) is empowering, or conducive . . . . In this way you box yourself in: there is nothing you say that can BE the case; everything is a narrative or part of a narrative. But you cannot even say that. You cannot say that everything you say IS a narrative, only that it is part of your narrative that everything you say is a narrative. You are sinking into some seriously deep crapola in your attempt to defend the indefensible, Hillary.
It follows from this that you cannot budge your sane opponent who holds that there is truth and that some narratives are true and others are false. I am one of these sane people. You cannot budge me because, according to MY narrative, there is truth and not all narratives are true. According to my narrative, my narrative is not just a narrative. It answers to a higher power, Truth. The only way you could budge me from my position is by appealing to truth transcendent of narrative. And that you cannot do.
So what is a poor leftist to do? Fall into inconsistency, which is in fact what they do. Everything is a mere narrative except when it suits them to appeal to what is the case.
It is of the essence of the contemporary Left to attempt the replacement of truth by narrative, a replacement they cannot pull off without inconsistency.
What if the lefty embraces inconsistency? Then, while resisting the temptation to release the safety on your 1911, you walk away, as from a block of wood. You can't argue with a block of wood or a shithead. While shit has form, it lacks form supportive of rational discourse.
Things are coming to a head. We cannot tolerate as a 'new normal' another Islamist slaughter of innocents every six months or so. So what is to be done? What prophylactic measures do we need to take to protect the USA and the rest of the West from the Islamist virus?
London Ed writes,
What kind of public policy, if any, would you advocate to improve the currently dire relations between the Islamic communities in the West, and their neighbours? All Muslims I know (not many, however) are horrified by extremism, and do not see it as Islamic. ‘They are just thugs’, said one of them. Most immigrant communities have ended up assimilating in some way. My first encounter with Islam was in Turkey, where a nice ex-policeman showed us round some mosques and explained Islam. He told me a moving story about a Turkish earthquake where a badly injured man, crushed under some concrete, begged him to shoot him. The policeman refused, saying it was for God to make those kind of decisions about life and death. The man died an hour later. Here we are talking about ‘ordinary Muslims’. It is a fact that all religions have extremists, and that such extremists tend to hold disproportionate power. Is there any way of redressing the balance? I.e. if you were home secretary or the US equivalent, what measures would you be taking?
Let me first take issue, not with the truth, but with the import, of the claim that all religions have extremists. The claim is true, but it is misleading unless various other truths are brought into proximity with it. It is not enough to tell the truth; you must tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There is a mode of mendacity whereby one tells truths with the intention of deceiving one's audience. See How to Tell the Truth without being Truthful .
Here is a second truth: the raw number of Islamic extremists (terrorists and those who foment terrorism) is vastly greater than the number of Buddhist extremists. So one cannot use the truth that all religions have extremists to downplay the threat of Islam, or to suggest that there is a moral equivalence between Buddhism and Islam.
So when a leftist says, "There are Buddhist terrorists too!" force him to name one that that was involved in a terror attack in London or Madrid or Paris or New York or Orlando or San Bernardino or . . . . Not only are there very few Buddhist terrorists, they are not a threat to us, meaning chiefly: the USA, the UK, and Europe.
There is another important point that Ed the philosopher will appreciate, namely, the distinction between being accidentally and essentially a terrorist. Suppose there is a Buddhist monk who is a terrorist. Qua Buddhist monk, he cannot be a terrorist because there is nothing in Buddhism that supports or enjoins terrorism. What makes him a Buddhist does not make him a terrorist or predispose him toward terrorism. Our Buddhist monk is therefore accidentally a terrorist. His committing terrorist acts is accidental to his being a Buddhist. He is a Buddhist monk and a terrorist; but he is not a terrorist because he is a Buddhist. Muslim terrorists, however, commit terrorist acts because their religion supports or enjoins terrorism. Their terrorism flows from their doctrine. This is not the case for Buddhism or Christianity. No Christian qua Christian is a terrorist.
Of course, not every Muslim is a terrorist; but every Muslim has at the ready a religious doctrine that enjoins and justifies terrorism should our Muslim decide to go that route. There are many more potential Muslim terrorists than actual Muslim terrorists.
Note also that a Muslim does not have to commit terrorist acts himself to aid and abet terrorists. He can support them monetarily and in other ways including by refusing to condemn terrorist acts.
While not every Muslim is a terrorist, almost every terrorist at the present time is a Muslim. We ought to demand that leftists admit the truth of both halves of the foregoing statement. But they won't, which fact demonstrates (a) their lack of intellectual honesty, (b) their destructive, anti-Western agenda, and (c) their ignorance of their own long-term best interest. As for (c), liberals and leftists have a pronounced 'libertine wobble' as I like to call it. They are into 'alternative sexual lifestyles' and the defense of pornography as 'free speech,' and such. They would be the first to be slaughtered under Shari'a. Or have they forgotten Orlando already?
London Ed tells us that in Turkey he met "ordinary Muslims" who were fine people. Well, I lived in Turkey for a solid year, 1995-1996, and met many Muslims, almost all of them very decent people. These "ordinary Muslims," some of them secularists, and others of them innocuously religious, are not the problem. The jihadis are the problem, and there are a lot of them, not percentage-wise, but in terms of raw numbers. It is irrelevant to point out that there are good Muslims. Of course there are. We all know that. But they are not the problem.
So what measures should we in the West take?
I will mention just the most obvious and most important one: severely curtail Muslim immigration. There is no right to immigrate, and correspondingly, we are under no obligation to let in subversive elements. We have a culture and a way of life to protect, and their culture and way of life is inimical to ours. Muslims who enter the USA should be forced to sign a statement in which they renounce Shari'a, and then they must be monitored for compliance.
This is not a religious test but a cultural-political test: do you share our values or not? Chief among these values is toleration. If not, stay home, in the lands whose inanition and misery demonstrate the inferiority of your culture and your values. The main reason for carefully vetting Muslims who aim to immigrate into the USA is political rather than religious, as I explain in the following companion post:
Here is perhaps the deepest connection, the subterranean link, between the decidedly strange bedfellows, Leftism and Islamism: both deny the absoluteness of truth and both make it subservient to power and arbitrary will.
But how is it that Islamists attack objective truth? Aren't they theists? Don't they believe in an absolute source and ground of being and truth? Yes indeed. But their God is unlimited Power. Their God is all-powerful to the max: there are no truths of logic, nor any necessary truths, that limit his power. The Muslim God is pure, omnipotent will. (See Pope Benedict's Regensurg Speech and Muslim Oversensitivity.)
So we who form the Coalition of the Sane and Decent have our work cut out for us. It is a war on two fronts: against radical Islam and against their leftist enablers such as Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary 'Milhous' Clinton.
If you refuse to vote for Donald Trump because he is in several ways a loathsome individual, then I pronounce you a fool in point of the political. You don't understand that politics is a practical struggle, not a gentlemanly conversation. It is not about perfection or ideological purity or choosing the Good over the Bad. It's about better or worse in the ugly concrete circumstances in which we presently find ourselves.
The argument of George Will and others of the 'bow-tie brigade' is patently lame, as lame as can be. They will do what they can to stop Trump the vulgarian know-nothing. In so doing they support Hillary. When this is pointed out, the response is that after four years of Hillary, we will elect a 'true' conservative to the White House.
This ignores the fact that after four years of Hillary it may be too late. Four more years of illegal immigration from the south; four more years of largely unvetted Muslim immigration, including Syrian refugees; four more years of erosion of First and Second Amendment rights; four years in which Hillary can make 2-5 Supreme Court appointments; four more years of attacks on civil society, the buffer space between the individual and the state apparatus; four more years of sanctuary cities and the flouting of the rule of law; four more years of assaults on the likes of the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who stand in the way of the pro-abortion agenda; and more.
Here is another question for George and Bill Kristol and the rest of the bow-tie boys: who will be your candidate? David French? Lindsey Graham? Jeb!?
You boys live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. You are expecting the resurrection of Ronald Reagan. It ain't gonna happen.
Given the preternatural crapaciousness of the bow-tie arguments, I am permitted to psychologize.
What Will and the boys fear is the loss of their Ps: their power, position, perquisites, and pelf. They want the status quo in which they can continue to yap and scribble as before and enjoy the high life. They understand that a third term of Obama in the guise of Hillary is a better bet for them than a populist coup.
Perhaps you think I go too far when I liken politics to warfare. Well then, will you admit that it is adversarial?
The defense attorney in a court of law fails to do his job if he strives for objectivity: he is paid to argue on behalf of his client. He is paid to be one-sided. This is why he is called in many languages an advocate, in Turkish, for example, Avokat. His sole task is to make the strongest case he can for his client while, of course, observing all the appropriate protocols and ethical guidelines. Advocacy is his duty, not ajudication. Ajudication is in the hands of judge and jury. If your attorney were to say, "You know, the prosecution does make some good points," you would fire him on the spot.
Paul Ryan and other Republicans fail to understand the adversarial nature of politics. Instead of defending the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, the people's choice, who alone can defeat Hillary, they attack him, as if their job is to arrive at an objective assessment of his strengths and weaknesses. In so doing, they aid and abet Hillary.
Now that is stupid.
But it is worse than stupid. Sometimes Republicans attack Trump in utterly mindless ways, as when Paul Ryan came out with the nonsensical phrase "textbook definition of racism." There is no textbook definition, or any definition, as I have been arguing for years. The word is used as a semantic bludgeon in different ways depending on context. For example, you may be called a racist for urging that Muslims entering the country be properly vetted, even though everyone knows that Islam is not a race but a religion, or rather a religious-political ideology. You can be called a racist for simply citing a fact about race. Or for pointing out that 'nigger' is disyllabic, or often applied by blacks to one another. You are a racist if you serve watermelon at a party at which blacks are in attendance. You are a racist if you try to get beyond race, and also if you don't. If you enjoy 'soul food' then you are a racist for 'culturally appropriating' the vittles of the 'oppressed.' And also a racist if you don't like the stuff. Black pride is not racist, but white pride is.
Ryan's playing of the race card against Trump is exactly what one expects from a leftist. So what's going on? Is Ryan stupid or a quisling, or what? Doesn't he understand that behavior like his is what gave Trump traction in the first place? If Republicans were conservatives, and also knew how to fight, there would be no need for Trump. He says what they are afraid to say.
Gonzalo Curiel of La Raza
Trump had questioned whether federal judge Gonzalo Curiel would be able to give his Trump University case a fair hearing. A reasonable question given that, according to Wikipedia, "Curiel is a member of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association, a nonprofit professional association of Latino lawyers that is affiliated with a statewide organization, the La Raza Lawyers of California." 'La Raza' means The Race, which ought to raise eyebrows of not chill one to the bone. One suspects that this Curiel fellow identifies as Hispanic first and as American second. So it is a reasonable surmise that Curiel will not be able to be objective in hearing a case in which the defendant advocates building a wall to keep illegal aliens, who are mostly Mexican, from entering the United States.
Victor Davis Hanson is on target re: the Trump-Curiel affair (empasis added):
Trump dismissively characterized Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a “Mexican” (the absence of hyphenation could be charitably interpreted as following the slang convention in which Americans are routinely called “Irish,” “Swedish,” “Greek,” or “Portuguese,” with these words used simply as abbreviated identifiers rather than as pejoratives). Trump’s point was that Curiel could not grant Trump a fair trial, given Trump’s well-publicized closed-borders advocacy.
Most of America was understandably outraged: Trump had belittled a sitting federal judge. Trump had impugned his Mexican ancestry. Trump had offered a dangerous vision of jurisprudence in which ethnic ancestry necessarily manifests itself in chauvinism and prejudice against the Other.
Trump was certainly crude, but on closer analysis of his disparagements he had blundered into at least a few legitimate issues. Was it not the Left that had always made Trump’s point about ethnicity being inseparable from ideology (most infamously Justice Sotomayor in her ruminations about how a “wise Latina” would reach better conclusions than intrinsically less capable white males, and how ethnic heritage necessarily must affect the vantage point of jurists — racialist themes Sotomayor returned to this week in her Utah v. Strieff dissent, which has been characterized as a “Black Lives Matter” manifesto)? Had not Barack Obama himself apologized (“Yeah, he’s a white guy . . . sorry.”) for nominating a white male judge to the Supreme Court, as if Merrick Garland’s appearance were something logically inseparable from his thought?
What exactly was the otherwise apparently sober and judicious Judge Curiel doing in publicizing his membership in a group known as the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association? Raza — a term that will likely soon disappear from American parlance once belated public attention focuses on its 1960s separatist origins and its deeper racist Francoist and Mussolinian roots — is by intent racially charged. Certainly, an illegal-immigration advocate could not expect a fair trial from any federal judge who belonged to a group commensurately designated “the San Diego Race Lawyers Association.” From this tawdry incident, we will remember Trump, the racial incendiary — but perhaps in the aftermath we will also question why any organization with Raza in its name should earn a pass from charges of polarizing racial chauvinism. The present tribalism is unsustainable in a pluralistic society. I wish the antidote for “typical white person,” “punish our enemies,” “my people,” (only) Black Lives Matter, and “la Raza” were not Donald Trump, but let us be clear on the fact that his is a crude reaction to a smooth and unquestioned racialism that, in bankrupt fashion, has been tolerated by the establishments of both parties.
Everybody profiles. Liberals are no exception. Liberals reveal their prejudices by where they live, shop, send their kids to school, and with whom they associate.
The word 'prejudice' needs analysis.
It could refer to blind prejudice: unreasoning, reflexive (as opposed to reflective) aversion to what is other just because it is other, or to an unreasoning pro-attitude toward the familiar just because it is familiar. We should all condemn blind prejudice. It is execrable to hate a person just because he is of a different color, for example. No doubt, but how many people do that? How many people who are averse to blacks are averse because of their skin color as opposed to their behavior patterns? Racial prejudice is not, in the main, prejudice based on skin color, but on behavior.
'Prejudice' could also mean 'prejudgment.' Although blind prejudice is bad, prejudgment is generally good. We cannot begin our cognitive lives anew at every instant. We rely upon the 'sedimentation' of past experience. Changing the metaphor, we can think of prejudgments as distillations from experience. The first time I 'serve' my cats whisky they are curious. After that, they cannot be tempted to come near a shot glass of Jim Beam. They distill from their unpleasant olfactory experiences a well-grounded prejudice against the products of the distillery.
My prejudgments about rattlesnakes are in place and have been for a long time. I don't need to learn about them afresh at each new encounter with one. I do not treat each new one encountered as a 'unique individual,' whatever that might mean. Prejudgments are not blind, but experience-based, and they are mostly true. The adult mind is not a tabula rasa. What experience has written, she retains, and that's all to the good.
So there is good prejudice and there is bad prejudice. The teenager thinks his father prejudiced in the bad sense when he warns the son not to go into certain parts of town after dark. Later the son learns that the old man was not such a bigot after all: the father's prejudice was not blind but had a fundamentum in re. The old man was justified in his prejudgment.
But if you stay away from certain parts of town are you not 'discriminating' against them? Well of course, but not all discrimination is bad. Everybody discriminates. Liberals are especially discriminating. The typical Scottsdale liberal would not be caught dead supping in some of the Apache Junction dives I have been found in. Liberals discriminate in all sorts of ways. That's why Scottsdale is Scottsdale and not Apache Junction.
Is the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' as marriage discriminatory? Of course! But not all discrimination is bad. Indeed, some is morally obligatory. We discriminate against felons when we disallow their possession of firearms. Will you argue against that on the ground that it is discriminatory? If not, then you cannot cogently argue against the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' on the ground that it is discriminatory. You need a better argument. And what would that be?
'Profiling,' like 'prejudice' and 'discrimination,' has come to acquire a wholly negative connotation. Unjustly. What's wrong with profiling? We all do it, and we are justified in doing it. Consider criminal profiling.
It is obvious that only certain kinds of people commit certain kinds of crimes. Suppose a rape has occurred at the corner of Fifth and Vermouth. Two males are moving away from the crime scene. One, the slower moving of the two, is a Jewish gentleman, 80 years of age, with a chess set under one arm and a copy of Maimonides'Guide for the Perplexed under the other. The other fellow, a vigorous twenty-year-old, is running from the scene.
Who is more likely to have committed the rape? If you can't answer this question, then you lack common sense. But just to spell it out for you liberals: octogenarians are not known for their sexual prowess: the geezer is lucky if he can get it up for a two-minute romp with a very cooperative partner. Add chess playing and an interest in Maimonides and you have one harmless dude.
Or let's say you are walking down a street in Mesa, Arizona. On one side of the street you spy some fresh-faced Mormon youths, dressed in their 1950s attire, looking like little Romneys, exiting a Bible studies class. On the other side of the street, Hells (no apostrophe!) Angels are coming out of their club house. Which side of the street would you feel safer on? On which side will your concealed semi-auto .45 be more likely to see some use?
The problem is not so much that liberals are stupid, as that they have allowed themselves to be stupefied by that cognitive aberration known as political correctness.
Their brains are addled by the equality fetish: everybody is equal, they think, in every way. So the vigorous 20-year-old is not more likely than the old man to have committed the rape. The Mormon and the Hells Angel are equally law-abiding. And the twenty-something Egyptian Muslim is no more likely to be a terrorist than the Mormon matron from Salt Lake City.
Clearly, what we need are more profiling, more prejudgment, and more discrimination (in the good sense). And fewer liberals.
A note on the above image. Suppose all you know about the two individuals is what you see. The point is that the likelihood of the old white lady's being a terrorist is much, much less than the likelihood of the man's being a terrorist. This is what justifies profiling and why it is insane to subject both individuals to the same level of scrutiny. For that would be to assume something obviously false, namely, that both individuals are equally likely to be terrorists.
Again we face the question why liberals are so preternaturally stupid. And again, the answer is that they have enstupidated themselves with their political correctness and their fetishization of equality.
Briefly stated, moral narcissism is this: What you say you believe or claim you believe — not how you actually behave — defines who you are and makes you “virtuous” in your own eyes and the eyes of others. Almost always, this is without regard to the consequences of those beliefs, because actual real-world results are immaterial and often ignored.
If you have the right opinions and say the right things, people will remember your pronouncements, not your actions or what happened because of them.
That is moral narcissism.
We see this in the campaign of Bernie Sanders, a moral narcissist par excellence who, rarely revising a half-century-old worldview, trumpets the virtues of socialism with scant reference to the cost of its programs or to its often-totalitarian outcome.
I would add that moral narcissism fits nicely with the denial of objective truth, one of the features of contemporary liberalism. If there is no objective way things are, then all that matters is how one postures and what one says. If you say the 'right' things, the politically correct things, the 'sensitive,' 'nonjudgmental,' 'inclusive,' things, then you are good person whether or not any of it can be expected to work out in reality.
For example, it sounds really good and 'caring' to say that the state should provide free college educations at public institutions for all and to call for an expansion of social services generally. And its sounds 'racist' and 'xenophobic' and 'mean-spirited' to insist on the stoppage of illegal immigration. But put the two together, freebies and open borders,and you get an objective absurdity that cannot work out in reality.
Not to confront this contradiction shows a lack of concern for truth.
Obviously, a sustainable welfare state requires strict immigration control. Or, if you prefer open borders, then you need a libertarian clamp-down on entitilements and social services. One or the other. Reality places us before this exclusive 'or.'
Sanders the socialist thinks he can have it both ways: a massive welfare state with open borders. That is objectively unworkable. Reality will not allow it. But if there is no reality and no objective truth, then no problem! One can say all the right things and posture as virtuous.
And when disaster occurs, you can always plead your good intentions.
The three defining features of modern liberalism are an intense aversion to the Constitution, a denial of objective truth, and a penchant for intentionally abusing the English language with an aim to mislead the public. No issue exemplifies these three features better than the “debate” about the AR-15 and “assault weapons.”
Well said, my man, well said, with pith and punch.
This is a repost, slightly redacted, from 2012 to help stem the tsunami of folderol sure to wash over us from the orifices of the mindless gun-grabbing Left in the wake of the Islamist Orlando rampage.
Without wanting to deny that there is a 'gun culture' in the USA, especially in the so-called red states, I would insist that the real problem is our liberal culture. Here are four characteristics of liberal culture that contribute to violence of all kinds, including gun violence.
1. Liberals tend to have a casual attitude toward crime.
It is interesting to note that Connecticut, the state in which the Newtown massacre occurred, has recently repealed the death penalty, and this after the unspeakably brutal Hayes-Komisarjevsky home invasion in the same state.
One of the strongest voices against repealing the death penalty has been Dr. William Petit Jr., the lone survivor of a 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the murders of his wife and two daughters.
The wife was raped and strangled, one of the daughters was molested and both girls were left tied to their beds as the house was set on fire.
The two men convicted of the crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are currently on death row.
Anyone who cannot appreciate that a crime like this deserves the death penalty is morally obtuse. But not only are liberals morally obtuse, they are contemptibly stupid in failing to understand that one of the main reasons people buy guns is to protect themselves from the criminal element, the criminal element that liberals coddle. If liberals were serious about wanting to reduce the numbers of guns in civilian hands, they would insist on swift and sure punishment in accordance with the self-evident moral principle, "The punishment must fit the crime," which is of course not to be confused with lex talionis, "an eye for an eye." Many guns are purchased not for hunting or sport shooting but for protection against criminals. Keeping and bearing arms carries with it a grave responsibility and many if not most gun owners would rather not be so burdened. Gun ownership among women is on the upswing, and it is a safe bet that they don't want guns to shoot Bambi.
2. Liberals tend to undermine morality with their opposition to religion.
Many of us internalized the ethical norms that guide our lives via our childhood religious training. We were taught the Ten Commandments, for example. We were not just taught about them, we were taught them. We learned them by heart, and we took them to heart. This early training, far from being the child abuse that A. C. Grayling and other militant atheists think it is, had a very positive effect on us in forming our consciences and making us the basically decent human beings we are. I am not saying that moral formation is possible only within a religion; I am saying that some religions do an excellent job of transmitting and inculcating life-guiding and life-enhancing ethical standards, that moral formation outside of a religion is unlikely for the average person, and that it is nearly impossible if children are simply handed over to the pernicious influences of secular society as these influences are transmitted through television, Internet, video games, and other media. Anyone with moral sense can see that the mass media have become an open sewer in which every manner of cultural polluter is not only tolerated but promoted. Those of use who were properly educated way back when can dip into this cesspool without too much moral damage. But to deliver our children over to it is the real child abuse, pace the benighted Professor Grayling.
The shysters of the American Civil Liberties Union, to take one particularly egregious bunch of destructive leftists, seek to remove every vestige of our Judeo-Christian ethical traditiion from the public square. I can't begin to catalog all of their antics. But recently there was the Mojave Memorial Cross incident. It is absurd that there has been any fight at all over it. The ACLU, whose radical lawyers brought the original law suit, deserve contempt and resolute opposition. Of course, I wholeheartedly endorse the initial clause of the First Amendment, to wit, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ." But it is hate-America leftist extremism on stilts to think that the presence of that very old memorial cross on a hill in the middle of nowhere does anything to establish Christianity as the state religion. I consider anyone who believes that to be intellectually obtuse and morally repellent. One has to be highly unbalanced in his thinking to torture such extremist nonsense out of the First Amendment, while missing the plain sense of the Second Amendment, one that even SCOTUS eventually got right, namely, the the right to keep and bear arms is an individual, not a collective, right.
And then there was the business of the tiny cross on the city seal of Los Angeles, a symbol that the ACLU agitated to have removed. I could continue with the examples, and you hope I won't.
3. Liberals tend to have low standards, glorify the worthless, and fail to present exemplary human types.
Our contemporary media dreckmeisters apparently think that the purpose of art is to degrade sensibility, impede critical thinking, glorify scumbags, and rub our noses ever deeper into sex and violence. It seems obvious that the liberal fetishization of freedom of expression without constraint or sense of responsibility is part of the problem. But I can't let a certain sort of libertarian or economic conservative off the hook. Their lust for profit is also involved.
What is is that characterizes contemporary media dreck? Among other things, the incessant presentation of defective human beings as if there are more of them than there are, and as if there is nothing at all wrong with their way of life. Deviant behavior is presented as if it is mainstream and acceptable, if not desirable. And then lame justifications are provided for the presentation: 'this is what life is like now; we are simply telling it like it is.' It doesn't occur to the dreckmeisters that art might have an ennobling function.
The tendency of liberals and leftists is to think that any presentation of choice-worthy goals or admirable styles of life could only be hypocritical preaching. And to libs and lefties, nothing is worse than hypocrisy. Indeed, a good indicator of whether someone belongs to this class of the terminally benighted is whether the person obsesses over hypocrisy and thinks it the very worst thing in the world. See my category Hypocrisy for elaboration of this theme.
4. Liberals tend to deny or downplay free will, individual responsibility, and the reality of evil.
This is connected with point (2) above, leftist hostility to religion. Key to our Judeo-Christian tradition is the belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Central to this image is that mysterious power in us called free will. The secular extremist assault on religion is at the same time an assault on this mysterious power, through which evil comes into the world.
This is a large topic. Suffice it to say for now that one clear indication of this denial is the bizarre liberal displacement of responsibility for crime onto inanimate objects, guns, as if the weapon, not the wielder, is the source of the evil for which the weapon can be only the instrument.
A very rich and perceptive essay by Charles Kesler.
The following passage illustrates what Keith Burgess-Jackson calls 'academentia':
It’s no coincidence that the two loudest, most consequential socio-political forces in America right now are Political Correctness and Donald Trump. One is at home on college campuses, the other in the world of working people. Yet they are already beginning to collide. At Emory University recently, someone scrawled “Trump 2016” in chalk on steps and sidewalks around the campus. About 50 students swiftly assembled to protest the outrage, shouting, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” Aghast at “the chalkings,” the university president complied.
At Scripps College, just a few weeks ago, a Mexican-American student awoke to find “#trump2016” written on the whiteboard on her door. The student body president, in a mass email, quickly condemned the “racist incident” and denounced Trump’s hashtag as a symbol of violence and a “testament that racism continues to be an undeniable problem and alarming threat on our campuses.” The student body’s response, apparently, was underwhelming. Shortly the dean of students weighed in with an email of her own, upbraiding students who thought the student body president’s email had been, oh, an overreaction. The dean noted that although Scripps of course respects its students’ First Amendment rights, in this case the “circumstances here are unique.” Note to dean: the circumstances are always unique.
I say: death to political correctness. We need more free speech, and more denunciations of liberal-left evil-doers, not only the termites undermining our institutions, but also the thugs on the streets. Not to mention more of that which backs up free speech.
The formidable Tammy Bruce exposes the organizational underpinnings of the supposedly 'spontaneous' violence directed against Trump and his supporters:
Make no mistake — these supposed anti-Trump riots are not organic nor are they natural; they are the result of leftist organizing using paid stooges. Fox News reported in March a Craigslist ad posted by Bernie Sanders supporters offering $15 an hour to protest at a Trump rally in Wisconsin. They would also provide shuttle bus transport, parking if you needed it and ready-made signs.
[. . .]
When confronted with the fact that the organizers of these melees are Bernie Sanders supporters, and representatives from Democrat-allied groups, like La Raza and MoveOn.org, the Democratic party establishment denies, denies, denies. They then condemn the violence with one hand, while their allies perpetuate it.
By the way La Raza means 'the race.' So who are the real racists?
This is one of the best articles on political correctness I have read. Study it. It will be on the final. (Italics in original; bolding added; a comment of mine in blue.)
Political correctness is the biggest issue facing America today. Even Trump has just barely faced up to it. The ironic name disguises the real nature of this force, which ought to be called invasive leftism or thought-police liberalism or metastasized progressivism. The old-time American mainstream, working- and middle-class white males and their families, is mad as hell about political correctness and the havoc it has wreaked for 40 years — havoc made worse by the flat refusal of most serious Republicans to confront it. Republicans rarely even acknowledge its existence as the open wound it really is; a wound that will fester forever until someone has the nerve to heal it — or the patient succumbs. To watch young minorities protest their maltreatment on fancy campuses when your own working life has seen, from the very start, relentless discrimination in favor of minorities—such events can make people a little testy.
We are fighting Islamic terrorism, but the president won't even say "Islamic terrorism." It sounds like a joke — but it isn't funny. It connects straight to other problems that terrify America's non-elites, people who do not belong (or whose spouses or children don't belong) to the races or groups that are revered and protected under p.c. law and theology.
[Please don't misuse the word 'theology'; you're talking like a liberal now and foolishly buying into the assumption that theism and theology are buncombe, which of course is not what you intend to do.]
Political correctness means that when the Marines discover that combat units are less effective if they include women, a hack overrules them. What's more important, guys, combat effectiveness or leftist dogma? No contest! Nor is it hard to notice that putting women in combat is not exactly the kind of issue that most American women are losing sleep over. It matters only to a small, powerful clique of delusional ideologues. (The insinuation that our p.c. military is upholding the rights of women everywhere, that your average American woman values feminist dogma over the strongest-possible fighting force—as if women were just too ditzy to care about boring things like winning battles—is rage-making.)
The mainstream press largely ignored the Marines story. Mainstream reporters can't see the crucial importance of political correctness because they are wholly immersed in it, can't conceive of questioning it; it is the very stuff of their thinking, their heart's blood. Most have been raised in this faith and have no other. Can you blame them if they take it for granted?
Why did the EPA try to issue a diktat designed to destroy the American coal industry in exchange for decreases in carbon emissions that were purely symbolic? Political correctness required this decree. It is not just a matter of infantile posing, like pretending to be offended by the name Washington Redskins. Bureaucrats have been ordered by those on high to put their p.c. principles into practice, and the character of American government is changing.
The IRS attacks conservative groups — and not one IRS worker has the integrity or guts to resign on principle, not one. Political correctness is a creed, and the creed holds that American conservatives are ignorant, stupid, and evil. This has been the creed for a generation, but people are angry now because we see, for the first time, political correctness powering an administration and a federal bureaucracy the way a big V-8 powers a sports car. The Department of Justice contributes its opinion that the IRS was guilty of no crime — and has made other politically slanted decisions too; and those decisions all express the credo of thought-police liberalism, as captured by the motto soon to be mounted (we hear) above the main door at the White House, the IRS, and the DOJ: We know what's best; you shut up.
[. . .]
The State Department, naturally, is installing the same motto above its door — together with a flag emblazoned with a presidential phone and a presidential pen, the sacred instruments of invasive leftism. Christians are persecuted, enslaved, murdered in the Middle East, but the Obama regime is not interested. In a distant but related twist, Obama orders Christian organizations to dispense contraceptives whether they want to or not. This is political correctness in action — invasive leftism. Political correctness holds that Christians are a bygone force, reactionary, naïve, and irrelevant. If you don't believe it, go to the universities that trained Obama, Columbia and Harvard, and listen. We live in the Biblical Republic, founded by devout Christians with a Creed (liberty, equality, democracy) supported directly — each separate principle — by ancient Hebrew verses. Christianity created this nation. But p.c. people don't know history. Don't even know that there is any. Stalin forced the old Bolsheviks to confess to crimes they never committed, then had them shot. Today, boring-vanilla Americans are forced to atone for crimes committed before they were born. Radically different levels of violence; same underlying class-warfare principle.
And we still haven't come to the main point. Many white male job-seekers have faced aggressive state-enforced bigotry their whole lives. It doesn't matter much to a Washington wiseguy, left or right, if firemen in New Haven (whites and Hispanics) pass a test for promotion that is peremptorily thrown in the trash after the fact because no blacks scored high enough. Who cares? It hardly matters if a white child and a black child of equal intelligence study equally hard, get equally good grades and recommendations—and the black kid gets into college X but the white kid doesn't. Who would vote for a president based on that kind of trivia? This sort of corruption never bothers rich or well-educated families. There's always room at the top. But such things do matter to many citizens of this country, who are in the bad habit of expecting honesty and fairness from the institutions that define our society, and who don't have quite as many fancy, exciting opportunities as the elect families of the p.c. true believers. In analyzing Trump, Washington misses the point, is staggeringly wide of the point. Only Trump has the common sense to mention the elephant in the room. Naturally he is winning.
Why, by the way, was Trump alone honored by a proposal in the British Parliament that he be banned from the country? Something about Trump drives Europeans crazy. Not the things that drive me crazy: his slandering John McCain, mocking a disabled reporter, revealing no concept of American foreign policy, repeating that ugly lie about George W. Bush supposedly tricking us into war with Iraq. The British don't care about such things one way or the other — they are used to American vulgarians. But a man who attacks political correctness is attacking the holy of holies, the whole basis of governance in Europe, where galloping p.c. is the established religion—and has been effective for half a century at keeping the masses quiet so their rulers can arrange everybody's life properly. Europe never has been comfortable with democracy.
The day Obama was inaugurated, he might have done a noble thing. He might have delivered an inaugural address in which he said: This nation used to be guilty of race prejudice, but today I can tell you that there is no speck of race prejudice in any corner of the government or the laws of this country, and that is an amazing achievement of which every American ought to be deeply proud. An individual American here or there is racist; but that's his right in a free country; if he commits no crime, let him think and say what he likes. But I know and you know, and the whole world knows, that the overwhelming majority of Americans has thoroughly, from the heart, renounced race prejudice forever. So let's have three cheers for our uniquely noble nation—and let's move on tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.
But he didn't.
Worst of all its crimes is what invasive leftism has done to our schools. Trump's unprivileged, unclassy supporters understand that their children are filled full of leftist bile every day at school and college. These parents don't always have the time or energy to set their children straight. But they are not stupid. They know what is going on.
Cruz, Rubio, Bush, and Carson — even Kasich — could slam thought-police liberalism in every speech. They'd concede that Trump was right to bring the issue forward. Their own records are perfectly consistent with despising political correctness. It's just that they lacked the wisdom or maybe the courage to acknowledge how deep this corruption reaches into America's soul. It's not too late for them to join him in exposing this cancer afflicting America's spirit, the malign and ferocious arrogance of p.c.
David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.
Let me see if I understand this. Every vestige of Christianity is to be removed from the public square, while Muslims are allowed to impose their anti-Enlightenment and un-American values and practices in said square at taxpayer expense?
Some liberal-left idiot is arguing that 'again' in Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again' is a racist 'dog whistle.' The suggestion is that Trump wants to bring back slavery and Jim Crow. Yet another proof that there is nothing so vile and contemptible and fundamentally stupid that some liberal won't embrace it. If you think I go too far when I refer to contemporary liberals as moral scum, it is incidents like this that are part of my justification.
Mark Steyn supplies some other 'dog whistles' for your delectation:
On MSNBC, Chris Matthews declared this week that Republicans use "Chicago" as a racist code word. Not to be outdone, his colleague Lawrence O'Donnell pronounced "golf" a racist code word. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell observed that Obama was "working to earn a spot on the PGA tour," O'Donnell brilliantly perceived that subliminally associating Obama with golf is racist, because the word "golf" is subliminally associated with "Tiger Woods," and the word "Tiger" is not-so-subliminally associated with cocktail waitress Jamie Grubbs, nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel, lingerie model Jamie Jungers, former porn star Holly Sampson, etc, etc. So by using the word "golf" you're sending a racist dog whistle that Obama is a sex addict who reverses over fire hydrants.
I must reiterate my principle of the Political Burden of Proof:
As contemporary 'liberals' become ever more extreme, they increasingly assume what I will call the political burden of proof. The onus is now on them to defeat the presumption that they are so morally and intellectually obtuse as not to be worth talking to.
In graduate school I was friends for a time with a New York Jew who for the purposes of this memoir I will refer to as 'Saul Peckstein.' A red diaper baby, he was brought up on Communism the way I was brought up on Roman Catholicism. Invited up to his room one day, I was taken aback by three huge posters on his wall, of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.
There is a distinctive quality of personal warmth that many Jews display, the quality conveyed when we say of so-and-so that he or she is a mensch. It is a sort of humanity, hard to describe, in my experience not as prevalent among goyim. Peckstein had it. But he was nonetheless able to live comfortably under the gaze of a mass murderer and their philosophical progenitors.
One day we were walking across campus when he said to me, "Don't you think we could run this place?" He was venting the utopian dream of a classless society, a locus classicus of which is a famous passage from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (ed. C. J. Arthur, New York: International Publishers, 1970, p. 53):
. . . as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.
The silly utopianism seeps out of "each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes." Could Saul Kripke have become a diplomat or a chauffeur or an auto mechanic if he wished? Pee Wee Herman a furniture mover or Pope? Woody Allen a bronco buster? Evel Knievel a neurosurgeon? And if Marx has actually done any 'cattle rearing,' he would have soon discovered that he couldn't be successful at it if he did it once in a while when he wasn't in the mood for hunting, fishing, or writing Das Kapital.
On another occasion Peckstein asked, "After the Revolution, what will we do with all the churches?" Like so many other commies he cherished the naive expectation that 'the revolution is right around the corner' in a phrase much bandied-about in CPUSA circles. And in tandem with that naivete, the foolish notion that religion would just wither away when material wants were satisfied and social oppression eliminated, a notion that betrays the deep superficiality of the materialist vision of man and his world.
One night we ate at an expensive restaurant, Anthony's Pier Four at the Boston harbor. Peckstein paid with a bad check. After all, it was an 'exploitative' capitalist enterprise and the owners deserved to be stiffed. But he left a substantial tip in cash for the servers. As I said, he was a mensch.
A few of us graduate students had been meeting to discuss Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. One day I announced that the topic for the next meeting would be the Table of Categories. Peckstein quipped, "Is that table you can eat on?" The materialist crudity of the remark annoyed me.
And then there was the time he wondered why people thank God before a meal rather than the farmers.
We were friends for a time, but friendship is fragile among those for whom ideas matter. Unlike the ordinary non-intellectual person, the intellectual lives for and sometimes from ideas. They are his oxygen and sometimes his bread and butter. He takes them very seriously indeed and with them differences in ideas. So the tendency is for one intellectual to view an ideologically divergent other intellectual as not merely holding incorrect views but as being morally defective in so doing.
Why? Because ideas matter to the intellectual. They matter in the way doctrines and dogmas mattered to old-time religionists. If one's eternal happiness is at stake, it matters infinitely whether one 'gets it right' doctrinally. If there is no salvation outside the church, you'd better belong to the right church. It matters so much that one may feel entirely justified in forcing the heterodox to recant 'for their own good.'
The typical intellectual nowadays is a secularist who believes in nothing that transcends the human horizon. But he takes into his secularism that old-time fervor, that old-time zeal to suppress dissent and punish apostates. It is called political correctness.
And as you have heard me say more than once: P.C. comes from the C. P.
Apparently, nine out of ten American Indians are not offended by the Redskins name, thereby demonstrating that they have more sense than the typical liberal. This calls for a reposting of an entry from August 2013. Enjoy!
'Redskin' Offensive? What About 'Guinea Pig'?
Apparently, the online magazine Slate will no longer be referring to the Washington Redskins under that name lest some Indians take offense. By the way, I take offense at 'native American.' I am a native Californian, which fact makes me a native American, and I'm not now and never have been an Indian.
But what about 'guinea pig'? Surely this phrase too is a racial/ethnic slur inasmuch as it suggests that all people of Italian extraction are pigs, either literally or in their eating habits. Bill Loney takes this (meat) ball and runs with it.
And then there is 'coonskin cap.' 'Coon' is in the semantic vicinity of such words as: spade, blood, spear chucker, spook, and nigger. These are derogatory words used to refer to Eric Holder's people. In the '60s, southern racists expressed their contempt for Martin Luther King, Jr. by referring to him as Martin Luther Coon. Since a coonskin cap is a cap made of the skin of a coon, 'coonskin cap' is a code phrase used by creepy-assed crackers to signal that black folk ought to be, all of them, on the wrong end of a coon hunt.
'Coonskin cap' must therefore be struck from our vocabulary lest some black person take offense.
But then consistency demands that we get rid of 'southern racist.' The phrase suggests that all southerners are racists. And we must not cause offense to the half-dozen southerners who are not racists.
But why stop here? 'Doo wop' is so-called because many of its major exponents were wops such as Dion DiMucci who was apparently quite proud to be a wop inasmuch as he uses the term five times in succession starting at :58 of this version of 'I Wonder Why' (1958). The old greaseball still looks very good in this 2004 performance. Must be all that pasta he consumes.
'Wop' is from the sound pasta makes when thrown against a wall, something excitable greaseballs often do when tanked up on dago red. Either that, or it means With Out Papers.
I could go on -- this is fun -- but you get the drift, and the serious politically incorrect point of this exercise -- unless you are a stupid liberal.
Article here. I reproduce it in toto so that you can read it in peace without being assaulted by advertising. Bolding added.
The problem with Johnson's article is that he does not define 'political correctness' and seems dangerously close to conflating politically incorrect speech with "vigorous, outspoken, raw and raucous speech" and politically incorrect behavior with "vulgar, abusive, nasty, rude, boorish and outrageous" behavior. See below. But this would be to ignore the important point I made the other day, namely, that to be politically incorrect is not to engage in offensive speech or behavior but to oppose the Left.
THE MENTAL INFECTION known as “political correctness” is one of the most dangerous intellectual afflictions ever to attack mankind. The fact that we began by laughing at it–and to some extent, still do–doesn’t diminish its venom one bit.
PC has an enormous appeal to the semieducated, one reason that it’s struck roots among overseas students at minor colleges. But it also appeals to pseudo-intellectuals everywhere, since it evokes the strong streak of cowardice notable among those wielding academic authority nowadays. Any empty-headed student with a powerful voice can claim someone (never specified) will be “hurt” by a hitherto harmless term, object or activity and be reasonably assured that the dons and professors in charge will show a white feather and do as the student demands. Thus, there isn’t a university campus on either side of the Atlantic that’s not in danger of censorship. The brutal young don’t even need to impose it themselves; their trembling elders will do it for them.
The insidious thing about PC is that it wasn’t–and isn’t–the creation of anyone in particular. It’s usually the anonymous work of such Kafkaesque figures as civil servants, municipal librarians, post office sorters and employees at similar levels. It penetrates the interstices of society, especially those where the hierarchies of privilege and property are growing. To a great extent PC is the revenge of the resentful underdog.
Nowhere has PC been more triumphant than in the U.S. This is remarkable, because America has traditionally been the home of vigorous, outspoken, raw and raucous speech. From the early 17th century, when the clerical discipline the Pilgrim Fathers sought to impose broke down and those who had things to say struck out westward or southward for the freedom to say them, America has been a land of unrestricted comment on anything–until recently. Now the U.S. has been inundated with PC inquisitors, and PC poison is spreading worldwide in the Anglo zone.
For these reasons it’s good news that Donald Trump is doing so well in the American political primaries. He is vulgar, abusive, nasty, rude, boorish and outrageous. He is also saying what he thinks and, more important, teaching Americans how to think for themselves again.
No one could be a bigger contrast to the spineless, pusillanimous and underdeserving Barack Obama, who has never done a thing for himself and is entirely the creation of reverse discrimination. The fact that he was elected President–not once, but twice–shows how deep-set the rot is and how far along the road to national impotence the country has traveled.
Under Obama the U.S.–by far the richest and most productive nation on earth–has been outsmarted, outmaneuvered and made to appear a second-class power by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. America has presented itself as a victim of political and economic Alzheimer’s disease, a case of national debility and geopolitical collapse.
TIME FOR A SCARE
None of the Republican candidates trailing Trump has the character to reverse this deplorable declension. The Democratic nomination seems likely to go to the relic of the Clinton era, herself a patiently assembled model of political correctness, who is carefully instructing America’s most powerful pressure groups in what they want to hear and whose strongest card is the simplistic notion that the U.S. has never had a woman President and ought to have one now, merit being a secondary consideration.
The world is disorderly and needs its leading nation to take charge and scare it back into decency. Donald Trump fits the bill. Other formidable figures, including Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, have performed a similar service in the past. But each President is unique and cast in his own mold. Trump is a man of excess–and today a man of excess is what’s needed.
We'll stop appropriating your food when you stop appropriating our mathematics, science, technology, and high culture generally including our superior political arrangements, not to mention our superior methods of cooking food.
One often reads the following definition of political correctness. "Someone who is politically correct believes that language and actions that could be offensive to others, especially those relating to sex and race, should be avoided." Here. Merriam-Webster, Wikipedia, and other sources offer similar definitions.
This is not at all what 'political correctness' means when used by people in the know. The above definition conflates being politically correct with being polite, civil, and respectful of others and it conflates being politically incorrect with being rude, offensive, and disrespectful of others. For example, Donald Trump was not being politically incorrect when he made his vile comments about Megan Kelly and Carly Fiorina. He was being rude and offensive in a politically foolish display of misogyny.
It is worth noting that in some cases rude and offensive speech is justified as a response to same. Justified or not, the politically incorrect and the rude/offensive/disrespectful are separate categories. A Venn diagram may help where the A region below contains politically incorrect statements and behaviors, the B region contains rude/offensive/disrespectful statements and behaviors, and the intersection of the two classes contains statements and behaviors that are both. For example, suppose someone says, 'Broads do not belong in the Navy SEALs or the Army Rangers.' This statement is both rude/offensive/disrespectful and politically incorrect while 'Women do not belong in Navy SEALs or the Army Rangers' is politically incorrect but not (objectively) offensive. Of course, one might take inappropriate offense at the second statement, but that is his or her problem. People, cry bullies and liberals especially, take offense at the damndest things!
One way to define a term is extensionally by giving a list of the items to which it applies. These are the items that fall within the extension of the term. I will now provide a list of some politically incorrect statements and then ask what they have in common. This will allow us to pin down the intension of the term 'politically incorrect,' and from there the intension of 'politically correct.' Here then are some politically incorrect statements:
Blacks are incarcerated in proportionally greater numbers than whites because they commit proportionally more crimes.
Not only do black lives matter; all lives matter including the lives of law enforcement agents and the lives of the unborn.
While Muslims qua Muslims ought not be barred from political office, Sharia-supporting Muslims ought to be.
The killing of innocent human beings is a grave moral evil, and this includes the killing of pre-natal human beings.
At the present time, the majority of terrorists in the world derive their ideological support from one religion, Islam.
The Crusades were defensive wars.
The purpose of taxation is to raise monies to cover the costs of governance, not to redistribute wealth.
Free market economies under the rule of law are more likely to lead to human flourishing than socialist economies.
There was no moral equivalence between the USA and the USSR.
Women are 'underrepresented' in philosophy, not because of 'sexism' or a male conspiracy to exclude them, but because of the following factors: women as a group are not as interested in philosophy as men are; the feminine nature is averse to the argumentative and occasionally 'blood sport' aspect of philosophy; women as a group are just not as good at philosophy as men, where exceptions such as Elizabeth Anscombe prove the rule.
Apart from the STEM disciplines, the universities of the land have become leftist seminaries, hotbeds of leftist indoctrination. They have lost touch with their noble ideals and traditions.
Equality of opportunity is no guarantee of equality of outcome, and it is fallacious to argue from inequality of outcome to sexism or racism as the cause.
Political correctness is a major threat to the values of the West including the West's commitment to open debate, toleration, and free inquiry.
So there you have a baker's dozen of politically incorrect statements. There are plenty more where those came from. I would say that each is true, though I will grant that some are rationally debatable. But whether true or false, rationally defensible or indefensible, they are all clear examples of politically incorrect statements.
Now what do they have in common in virtue of which they are all instances of political incorrectness? The most important common feature is that each opposes the contemporary liberal or leftist or 'progressive' worldview. To be politically correct, then, is to support the leftist worldview and the leftist agenda. It follows that a conservative cannot be politically correct. P.C. comes from the C.P. The P. C. mentality is a successor form of the Communist mentality. To be politically correct is to toe the party line. It is to support leftist positions and tactics, including the suppression of the free speech rights of opponents. Essential to leftism is the double standard. So while the politically correct insist on their own free speech rights, they deny them to their opponents, which is why they routinely shout them down.
There was a dust-up back in 2012 over Chick-Fil-A. But now the company is back in the news because of an attack by the leftist mayor of NYC, Bozo de Blasio. Story here.
You can do your bit in countering these totalitarian bastards by observing my maxim, 'No day without political incorrectness.' Each day you must engage in one or more politically incorrect acts. Some suggestions:
Smoke a cigar
Use standard English
Practice with a firearm
Read the Bible
Enunciate uncomfortable truths inconsistent with the liberal Weltanschauung
Read Maverick Philosopher
Think for yourself
Use the Left's Alinskyite tactics against them
If your alma mater coddles cry bullies, refuse to lend financial support
Give your baby baby formula
Get your kids out of the public schools
Read the Constitution
Cancel your subscription to The New York Times
Use the mens' room if you were born with the primary male characteristic
Find more examples of politically incorrect things to do
For a long time now, leftist termites, aided and abetted by cowardly administrators and go-along-to-get-along faculty members, have been busy undermining the foundations of the West, including the universities. Here Jason Riley reports on an outrage that affected him personally. Excerpts:
Nor is it merely classroom instruction that leftists tend to control. Liberal faculty and college administrators also closely monitor outside speakers invited to campus. The message conveyed to students is that people who challenge liberal dogma are not very welcome. A 2010 report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that only 40% of college freshman “strongly agreed that it is safe to hold unpopular positions on campus” and that by senior year it’s down to 30%.
In more recent years the intimidation has not only continued but intensified. A lecture on crime prevention by former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was canceled after Brown University students booed him off the stage. Scripps College in California invited and then disinvited Washington Post columnist George Will for criticizing ever-expanding definitions of criminal assault.
Planned commencement addresses by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice(Rutgers University), human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Brandeis University) and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde (Smith College) were scuttled by faculty and student protesters, who cited Ms. Rice’s role in the Iraq war, Ms. Ali’s criticism of radical Islam and the IMF’s rules for lending countries money.
Yet you don’t have to be in such distinguished company to earn the ire of the campus left. Last month I was invited by a professor to speak at Virginia Tech in the fall. Last week, the same professor reluctantly rescinded the invitation, citing concerns from his department head and other faculty members that my writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests. Profiles in campus courage.
We need some serious fumigation of the universities. Who will you call for pest control? Donald or Hillary?
Chris Hedges well illustrates the leftist obsession with moral equivalentism in his piece, "We are All Islamic State."
I will quote some portions, then comment. The piece begins:
Revenge is the psychological engine of war. Victims are the blood currency. Their corpses are used to sanctify acts of indiscriminate murder. Those defined as the enemy and targeted for slaughter are rendered inhuman. They are not worthy of empathy or justice. Pity and grief are felt exclusively for our own. We vow to eradicate a dehumanized mass that embodies absolute evil. The maimed and dead in Brussels or Paris and the maimed and dead in Raqqa or Sirte perpetuate the same dark lusts. We all are Islamic State.
Hedges opens with a curious mixture of insight and illusion.
Granted, war opens the flood gates to revenge, and much of what takes place in a war is revenge. There was plenty of revenge in the fire bombing of Dresden by the Allies in WWII. The Brits wanted revenge for the Blitz. Perhaps you know where the V-1 and V-2 nomenclature comes from: they were Vergeltungswaffen, weapons of revenge. But there is nothing in the nature of warfare to require that in every case war be revenge. Revenge is not the same as retributive justice and there are or at least can be just wars. If the state can justly punish a wrongdoer for his wrongdoing, then one state can justly punish another for its wrongdoing, even if this happens only rarely and partially. There are rogue states. German philosopher Karl Jaspers referred to the Nazi regime as a Verbrecherstaat, a criminal state. Surely he was right. A bunch of thugs seized power and unleashed hell on earth. Or will Hedges and his comrades say that Churchhill's England and Hitler's Germany were morally equivalent?
Hedges' moral equivalentism is false and offensive. On September 1, 1939, Hitler's Wehrmacht invaded Poland. Does Hedges really think that the defensive operations undertaken by the Poles were motivated by revenge? Or that the Poles engaged in indiscriminate murder? And how exactly is killing in self-defense murder? Can Hedges think in moral categories? Does he think that self-defense is never morally justified?
Speaking of Islamic terrorists, Hedges claims that "Their tactics are cruder, but morally they are the same as us."This is beneath refutation. So beheading and crucifixion are merely "cruder" than waterboarding, but otherwise morally equivalent? It is already quite a stretch to speak as leftists do of waterboarding as torture. Would C. Hitchens and other journalists have delivered themselves up for torture? Would they have submitted to to the insertion of red hot pokers into their anal cavities?
The Christian religion embraces the concept of “holy war” as fanatically as Islam does. Our Crusades are matched by the concept of jihad. Once religion is used to sanctify murder there are no rules. It is a battle between light and dark, good and evil, Satan and God. Rational discourse is banished. And “the sleep of reason,” as Goya said, “brings forth monsters.”
Hedges is certainly warming to this theme, isn't he? The present tense of 'embraces' renders the first sentence manifestly false. Hedges needs to give some examples of holy wars prosecuted by Christian denominations in recent centuries. He won't be able to do this, which is why he brings up the Crusades. Hedges is making at least three mistakes.
First, he refuses to admit that it is obviously unfair to compare present atrocities by Muslim fanatics to long past atrocities -- if atrocities they were -- by Christians. Islam was and remains a violent religion. Christianity has long reformed itself.
Second, Hedges cannot or will not understand that the same sorts of war-like activities that are morally wrong when deployed offensively can be morally acceptable when deployed defensively.
Third, Hedges is unaware or will not admit that the Crusades were defensive wars and ipso facto morally justified. Thomas F. Madden:
For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Back to Hedges' tirade:
How can we rise up in indignation over Islamic State’s destruction of cultural monuments such as Palmyra when we have left so many in ruins? As Frederick Taylor points out in his book “Dresden,” during the World War II bombing of Germany we destroyed countless “churches, palaces, historic buildings, libraries, museums,” including “Goethe’s house in Frankfurt” and “the bones of Charlemagne from Aechen cathedral” along with “the irreplaceable contents of the four-hundred-year-old State Library in Munich.” Does anyone remember that in a single week of bombing during the Vietnam War we obliterated most of that country’s historic My Son temple complex? Have we forgotten that our invasion of Iraq led to the burning of the National Library, the looting of the National Museum and the construction of a military base on the site of the ancient city of Babylon? Thousands of archeological sites have been destroyed because of the wars we spawned in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.
Amazingly, Hedges thinks he can simply ignore the crucial difference between the unintended destruction of cultural artrifacts that comes about as collateral damage and the willfull, intended destruction by Nazi and Islamist savages of cultural goods. Could this idiot actually think that Churchill's England and Hitler's Germany were morally equivalent? To defeat the Third Reich drastic measures were required, and time was running out: the Nazis would soon have have had nuclear weapons had they not been brought to their knees.
It goes without saying that my opposition to the moral equivalentism of the lunatic Left is no endorsement of moral Manicheanism. No man is without sin, and no state either.
Perhaps you have noticed that radicals are rather less interested in speaking truth to power after they get power than before. Their transgressive speech and behavior becomes curiously 'conservative.' Giving umbrage gives way to taking umbrage.
What happened to shrugging at an opinion with which you disagree and leaving it at that? That notion is history, as communications executives seem to have convinced themselves that they are not censoring dissenting opinions but rather protecting the innocent from crude speech.
Twitter took that phony stance, too, when it announced a "Trust and Safety Council" in February. "Twitter stands for freedom of expression, speaking truth to power, and empowering dialogue. That starts with safety," CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted.
This is a good example of the sort of Orwellian mendacity we have come to expect from contemporary 'liberals.' War is peace. Slavery is freedom. A defense of religious liberty is a violation of religious liberty. Those who protest being forced by the government to violate their consciences and religious beliefs are imposing their religious beliefs. Curtailment of speech is free speech. 'Inclusion' is the exclusion of dissent.
The Orwellian template: X, which is not Y, is Y.
The open forum is a 'safe space' in which no one's feelings are hurt.
Freedom of speech is freedom from 'micro-aggressions.'
And notice that at bottom it's about money. Twitter and ESPN toe the party line because it is profitable to do so. A curious development: significant numbers of once anti-capitalist leftists are now driven by the profit motive to spread Pee Cee drivel.
If religion is the opium of the masses, then OPM is the opium of the redistributionist.
Bernie Sanders, the superannuated socialist, "and his wife, Jane, paid an effective tax rate of 13.5 percent, or $27,653 in federal taxes on an adjusted gross income of $205,271." This is for 2014. That is less than Mitt Romney paid, percentage-wise, in 2011. But Romney paid more dollars and thus did more good than Bernie, if you assume that Federal taxes do good for 'the people' and not just for state apparatchiki.
For Sanders, a legitimate function of government is wealth redistribution so that the government can do good with other people's money (OPM). So why did Bernie take so many (legal) deductions? Why didn't he pay his 'fair share,' say, 28% of his AGI? Why didn't he fork over 50%? Surely an old man and his wife can live on 100K a year! Why doesn't Bernie practice what he preaches?
Because he smokes the opium of OPM: it is the other guy's money that is to be confiscated, not his. By any reasonable standard, Sanders is a 'fat cat.' But he doesn't see himself as one. And no doubt he thinks he earned his high senatorial salary when he produced nothing, but merely spouted a lot of socialist nonsense while acting the pied piper to foolish and impressionable youth.
There are two characteristics common to popular uses of the term “white”: It is almost always used pejoratively, and it is mostly voiced by elites of all backgrounds — and usually as a slur against the white working and “clinger” classes. So “the Latino vote” reflects shared aspirations; “the white vote” merely crude resentment. Those who benefit from affirmative action are not privileged, but those who do not certainly are. Whites cling in Neanderthal fashion to their legal rifles; inner-city youth hardly at all to their illegal handguns. Buying a jet-ski on credit is typical redneck stupidity; borrowing $200,000 to send a kid to a tony private university from which he will graduate more ignorant and arrogant than when he enrolled is wise. White “evangelicals” are puzzling for their crude hypocrisies; not so the refined paradoxes of Congregationalists and Episcopalians. Smoking is self-destruction, while injecting a strain of botulism toxin into your face is not self-mutilation.
A reader doesn't get the point of my earlier entry:
Dennis Miller: "Melissa Harris-Perry is a waste of a good hyphen."
So let me explain it. Miller is a brilliant conservative comedian who appears regularly on The O'Reilly Factor. If you catch every one of Miller's allusions and can follow his rap you are very sharp indeed. He has contempt for flaming leftists like Harris-Perry. Realizing that the Left's Alinskyite tactics need to be turned against them, and that mockery and derision can be very effective political weapons, he took a nasty but brilliant jab at her in the above-quoted line.
What makes the jab comical is Miller's willful confusion of the use and mention of expressions, one class of which is the proper name. One USES the name 'Melissa Harris-Perry' to refer to the person in question. This person, the bearer of the name, is not a name or any type of expression. The person in question eats and drinks and fulminates; no name eats and drinks and fulminates. But if I point out that 'Melissa Harris-Perry' is a hyphenated expression, I MENTION the expression; I am talking about it, not about its referent or bearer. When I say that the name is hyphenated I say something obviously true; if I say or imply that the woman in question is hyphenated, then I say or imply something that is either necessarily false or else incoherent (because involving a Rylean category mistake) and thus lacking a truth value. Either way I am not saying anything true let alone obviously true.
But what makes Miller's jab funny? What in general makes a joke funny? This question belongs to the philosophy of humor, and I can tell you that it is no joke. (That itself is a joke, a meta-joke.) There are three or four going theories of humor. One of them, the Incongruity Theory, fits many instances of humor. Suppose you ask me what time it is and I reply: You mean now? If I say this in the right way you will laugh. (If you don't, then, like Achmed the Terrorist, I kill you!) Now what make the joke funny? It is an instance of incongruity, but I will leave the details for you to work out. And the same goes for the joke in parentheses.
It is the same with the Miller joke. Everybody understands implicitly that a name is not the same as its bearer, that some names are hyphenated, and that no human being is hyphenated. Normal people understand facts like these even if they have never explicitly formulated them. What Miller does to achieve his comic effect is to violate this implicit understanding. It is the incongruity of Miller's jab with our normal implicit understanding that generates the humorousness of the situation.
But WHY should it have this effect? Why should incongruity be perceived by us as funny? Perhaps I can get away with saying that this is just the way things are. Explanations must end somewhere.
Am I a pedant or what?
But I am not done.
There is also a moral question. Isn't there something morally shabby about mocking a person's name and making jokes at his expense? Some years back I was taken aback when Michael Reagan referred to George Stephanopolous on the air as George Step-on-all-of-us. A gratuitous cheap-shot, I thought.
But given how willfully stupid and destructive Harris-Perry is, and given that politics is war by another name, is there not a case for using the Left's Alinksyite tactics against them? (Is this a rhetorical question or am I really asking? I'm not sure myself.)
Here is a bit of evidence that Harris-Perry really is a a willfully stupid, destructive race-baiter. There is another in the first entry referenced below.
Does it do any good to keep pointing out the obvious, namely, that liberal-left scum have taken over the country and are destroying it? We can't seem to do anything about it. Who will stop the rot? Not establishment Republicans who go along to get along.
Trump? Are you serious? There was a point at which I thought Trump might be the man, despite all his glaring defects. But no longer. He had a shot at the presidency. But he's blown it: his judgment is so bad, or his ego is so huge, that he cannot control his tongue. He possesses an excess of groundless self-confidence, just like Obama. (And like Obama, he is a liar and a bullshitter.) Trump thinks he can just 'wing it' without doing any real work or learning anything about the issues. Thus he thinks he can enter the snake pit with a slimy leftist like Chris Matthews and escape unharmed without having done any real preparation.
As for the existence of leftist rot, here (HT: Bill Keezer) is a taste of The Diplomad:
I have had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Jasser speak twice, a few days ago right in my own neighborhood. He is an outstanding American and a Muslim, one who demonstrates that it is possible to be a moderate Muslim who accepts American values including the separation of church/mosque and state. I have reproduced, below the fold, a recent statement of his so that you may read it without the distraction of advertisements and 'eye candy.'
Jasser tells us that monitoring Muslims is not "Islamophobic." I agree heartily with what he is saying but not with how he says it. It is absolutely essential not to acquiesce in the Left's linguistic obfuscation. 'Islamophobic' and cognates are coinages designed by liberals and leftists to discredit conservatives and their views. By definition, a phobia is an irrational fear. But fear of radical Muslims and the carnage they spread is not irrational: it it is entirely reasonable and prudent. To label a person an 'Islamophobe' is therefore to imply that the person is mentally deranged or otherwise beneath consideration. It is to display a profound disrespect for one's interlocutor and his right to be addressed as a rational being. Here you have the explanation of why radical Muslims and their liberal-left enablers engage in this linguistic distortion. They aim to win at all costs and by all means, including the fabrication of question-begging and self-serving epithets.
A conservative must never talk like a liberal. To do so is thoughtless and foolish. For he who controls the terms of the debate controls the debate. When a conservative uses words like 'Islamophobic' and 'homophobic' he willy-nilly legitimizes verbal constructions meant to denigrate conservatives. Now how stupid is that?
What should Jasser have said? He could have said something like, "The monitoring of Muslims is reasonable and prudent in current circumstances and in no way wrongly discriminatory." Why is this preferrable? Because such monitoring obviouslydoes not express a phobia, an irrational fear of Muslims.
To understand liberals you must understand that theirs is a mind-set according to which a conservative is a bigot, one who reflexively and irrationally hates anyone different than he is. This is why conservatives who insist on securing the borders are routinely labelled 'xenophobes' by liberals and by some stupid 'conservatives' as well, an example being that foolish RINO Lindsey Graham who applied the epithet to Donald Trump when the latter quite reasonably proposed a moratorium on Muslim immigration into the U.S. Whatever you think of the proposal, and there are some reasonable arguments against it, it is not xenophobic.
There is also nothing xenophobic about border control since there are excellent reasons for it having to do with drug trafficking, public health, to mention just two. This is not to say that there aren't some xenophobes. It is true: there are a lot of bigots in the world and some of the worst call themselves 'liberals.'
Dr. Jasser is a man of great civil courage and an inspiration to me and plenty of others. If everyone were like him there would be no Muslim problem at all. One hopes and prays that no harm comes to him. Unfortunately, he is a member of a tiny minority, the minority of peaceful Muslims who respect Western values and denounce sharia, but also have the civil courage to stand up against the radicals.
To inform yourself further, see Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, A Battle for the Soul of Islam, Simon & Shuster, 2012.