I saw Chris Hedges on C-SPAN the other night. Four years ago I heard him in the same venue and was much impressed by what he had to say about pornography. Oxymoronic as it may sound, I'd say Hedges is a decent leftist. Decent but delusional, as witness this opening paragraph of The Creeping Villainy of American Politics:
The threefold rise in hate crimes against Muslims since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks and the acceptance of hate speech as a legitimate form of political discourse signal the morbidity of our civil society. The body politic is coughing up blood. The daily amplification of this hate speech by a commercial media whose sole concern is ratings and advertising dollars rather than serving as a bulwark to protect society presages a descent into the protofascist nightmare of racism, indiscriminate violence against the marginalized, and a blind celebration of American chauvinism, militarism and bigotry.
Who accepts hate speech as a legitimate form of political discourse? And, more importantly, what do leftists mean by 'hate speech'? Suppose I call for a moratorium on immigration from Muslim lands, or, more precisely, a moratorium on the immigration of Muslims from any land. Is my call 'hate speech'? Not to any rational person. You may disagree with this proposal but it is reasonable and prudent given the state of the world, and numerous reasons can be given in support of it. It reflects no hatred of Muslims, but a sober recognition of the threat they pose to our culture and values, a culture that we of course have a right to defend.
This suggests that leftists use 'hate speech' in such a broad way that it includes any speech with which they disagree. Should we conclude that leftists are opposed to free speech and open debate and free inquiry? I am afraid so. In this respect they are just like the orthodox Muslims they quite strangely defend. They think they own dissent. And surely it is passing strange for so many of them to defend Islam given the pronounced 'libertine wobble' of so many leftists. Don't these people defend homosexual practices and alternative sexual lifestyles generally? They would be the first to lose their heads under Sharia. Do our lefty pals perhaps have a death wish?
"Here is Rhodes, jump here" (through the hoops of political correctness). A graduate of Oriel College, Oxford University, sent me this statement concerning the Rhodes Must Fall petition. A memorial to Cecil Rhodes, that is. Can you say Der Untergang des Abendlandes?
"Here is Rhodes, jump here." From Aesop's Fables #209, "The Boastful Athlete." A man who had been off in foreign lands returns home. He brags of his exploits. He claims that in Rhodes he made a long jump the likes of which had never been seen before. A skeptical bystander calls him on his boast: Here's your Rhodes, jump here!
The moral? Put your money where your mouth is. Don't talk about it, do it!
Perhaps an erudite classicist such as Mike Gilleland could say more on this topic. He would have to do at least the following: dig up all the ancient sources in Greek and Latin; trace the saying in Erasmus and Goethe; comment on Hegel's variation on the saying in the Vorrede zur Philosophie des Rechts, explaining why he has saltus for salta; find and comment on Marx's comment on Hegel's employment of the saying.
Finally, if Alan Rhoda were to rename his cleverly titled, but now defunct, weblog Alanyzer -- and I'm not saying he should -- he might consider Hic Rhoda, Hic Salta. He is a very tall man; I'm 6' 1'' and had to look up to see his face when I met him in Las Vegas some years back. To jump over him would be quite a feat.
UPDATE 12/19: Dave Lull, argonaut nonpareil of cyberspace and friend and facilitator of bloggers, informs me that Dr. Gilleland has taken note of my call for an erudite classicist. This bibliomaniac, antediluvian, and curmudgeon does not, however, consider himself "truly erudite." If his self-deprecatory consideration is just, then he had me fooled.
Students at Lebanon Valley College (LVC) in Pennsylvania are demanding Lynch Memorial Hall on campus be renamed, due to the potential traces of racism associated with the word “lynch.”
[. . .]
Michael Schroeder, an associate professor of history, said about LVC, “We’re not an island but sometimes it feels like an island because it’s such a rural and bucolic setting. But we’re clearly caught up in the same currents that the rest of the country is.”
Schroeder added he supports the goals of the students making the demands.
“Students here tend to be relatively quiescent, but this year there’s a disproportionately large number of students of color and they’re feeling marginalized and silenced,” he said.
The stupidity of the students making this ridiculous demand, though deplorable, is perhaps excusable, but not the abdication of authority on the part of the history professor. The man is a despicable fool and probably a coward. You don't acquiesce in a demand like this, you point out the obvious. The name 'Lynch' is precisely a name and not a verb, and has nothing to do with lynching.
You point out that critical thinking, which is part of what should be taught in college, is not the association of ideas.
Does this fool think that Loretta Lynch, the present Attorney General of the U. S. should change her name? Does he think she is a 'traitor to her race' for bearing this name?
And then there is the utter incoherence of his final remark. If there is a disproportionately large number of "students of color," how is it that they "feel marginalized and silenced"?
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.
Fourteen people were murdered in San Bernardino, and almost two dozen were injured, several critically. That is perfectly awful. Since September 11, 2001, I believe almost three score people have been killed in the United States in similar terrorist attacks, or so one television commentator asserted. The number sounds about right. During those same fourteen years, 120,000 Americans have been killed by guns (including those who killed themselves, just to be clear .) I cannot imagine any rational mode of discourse that treats the former number as somehow more important than the latter number. And yet, people who would pass most tests for sanity, if not intelligence, are eager to take dramatic steps to prevent another San Bernardino although they would not even consider equally vigorous steps to diminish, say by half, the number of deaths from firearms in the next fourteen years. [Emphasis added.]
Let us first note that Wolff conveniently begins his count after 9/11. The Islamic terrorism of that day resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people and the injuries of 6,000 + others. That adds up to around 9,000 casualties. As for the numbers Wolff cites, I will assume that they are correct.
Let us also note the phrase "killed by guns." But of course no gun has ever killed anyone. The plain truth is that people kill people and other animals often with guns, but also with box cutters, jumbo jets, and so on. Surely the good professor will grant the distinction between weapon and wielder. Weapons are morally neutral; wielders are typically not.
The question is whether it is rational to take dramatic steps to prevent another terrorist attack while taking no steps (beyond the many steps that already have been taken) to prevent further non-terrorist gun deaths, given that since 9/11 the number of gun-related non-terrorist deaths is much smaller than the number of gun-related terrorist deaths.
Wolff is maintaining that it is not rational. I say it is rational, and that Wolff's approach to the issue is not rational.
Wolff considers only the numbers of gun-related deaths while abstracting entirely from the motives of the gun-wielders and the effects that the deaths due to terror have on other people and the society at large. But this is a vicious abstraction. Terrorists aim to spread terror and disrupt civil society by slaughtering as many noncombatants as possible in unpredictable ways. They have a political agenda. Terrorism, unlike crime, is essentially political and essentially public. But the sorts of crimes that drive up the gun death numbers often occur in private and the disruption they cause is miniscule compared to that caused by terrorists.
For example, non-terrorist suicides, as opposed to suicide bombers, directly affect only themselves and almost never act from political considerations. And the same goes for mafiosi and other organized crime figures who 'whack' competitors and potential witnesses and 'rats.' The last thing they want is publicity. They are not motivated by political ideals or goals. The Lufthansa heist was about making a big score and nothing more. This holds too for ordinary criminals who kill each other and potential witnesses. And similarly for gang-bangers and drug dealers and gun-related crimes of passion. And there are the so-called 'accidental' shootings as when a careless gun owner leaves a loaded pistol where a child can find it or proceeds to clean a loaded gun.
So while the number of non-terrorist gun-related deaths of Americans is much higher over the time-frame Wolff arbitrarily chose than the number of terrorist gun-related deaths, that fact plays a minor role in any rational assessment of the threat of terrorism. Part of being rational is thinking synoptically, taking in the whole of a situation in its many aspects, and not seizing upon one aspect.
One cannot reasonably abstract from the political agenda of terrorists and the effects even a few terrorist events have on an entire society. Ask yourself: has your life changed at all since 9/11? It most certainly has if you travel by air whether domestically or internationally. Terrorists don't have to kill large numbers to attain their political goal and wreak large-scale disruption. The Tsarnaev attack on the Boston Marathon shut down the city for a few days. Same with Paris, San Bernardino, Madrid, London, etc.
There is also the obvious point that jihadis would kill millions if they could. Would they use nukes against the West if they could? Of course they would.
Why are leftists so insensitive to clear and present dangers? Why are they so eager to deflect attention from them by bringing up gun control and dubious dangers such as 'climate change'?
Here is a theory. Leftists favor losers and underdogs. Terrorists are losers and underdogs both as terrorists and as Muslims. (Not all Muslims are terrorists but almost all terrorists at the present time are Muslims.) So leftists downplay the terrorist threat. They downplay it because losers and underdogs are their clients. To them, the terrorist 'frontlash' is as nothing compared to the 'Islamophobic' backlash of the bigots, rubes, and racists of fly-over country. This helps account for why leftists downplay the terrorist threat.
But why do they try to steer the debate away from terrorism to gun control? Part of it has to be that guns and private gun ownership represent everything leftists hate such as self-reliance, individual responsibility, patriotism which they dismiss as 'jingoism,' limited government, rural people and small-town folk, and conservative attitudes which leftists perceive as racist, bigoted, xenophobic, nativist, nationalist, fascist, etc. Private gun ownership stands in the way of their totalitarian agenda. This is why they continually call for gun control when we have plenty of it already. They talk as if there is no gun control. This is because what they mean by 'gun control' is confiscation of all or almost all firearms including all semi-automatic pistols and long guns.
Of course there is much more to it than this. Leftists are anti-religion unless the religion is Islam, "the saddest and poorest form of theism," (Schopenhauer) the religion of losers and underdogs, the gang religion. As anti-religion, leftists are against God, the soul, and the freedom of the will. Not believing in freedom of the will, they don't believe in moral evil -- which is perhaps their deepest error. People are nothing but deterministic systems and products of their environment. Part of the environment is guns. Hence the repeated call to "get guns off the street"as if guns are just laying around on our highways and byways. Not believing in free agency, leftists displace agency onto inanimate non-agents such as guns. And so they think the solution is to get rid of them.
And of course this only scratches the surface. But the sun is setting and battling the Wolff Man and his bullshit has conjured up a powerful thirst in this philosopher. Time for a beer!
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 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.
Some lefty scribblers, effete and epicene, have their knickers in a knot worrying about the nativist and xenophobic 'backlash' post-Paris and post-San Bernardino. Even worse, however, is Attorney General Loretta Lynch's disgracing of herself along these lines:
Lynch addressed the Muslim Advocate’s tenth-anniversary dinner and declared that she is concerned about an “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric . . . that fear is my greatest fear.” Her greatest fear is — not terrorism — but a nonexistent Islamophobic backlash? ISIS has demonstrated that it can bring down passenger jets, strike the heart of a great Western capitol with urban assault teams, and inspire horrible carnage in California. We also know that ISIS has pledged to keep attacking the U.S. and possesses chemical weapons. Yet it’s politically incorrect speech that strikes fear into the heart of our attorney general.
To put it in the form of an understatement: Lefties are not very good at threat assessment. I should think that the 'frontlash' is far worse than any backlash that is likely to occur.
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 I say, sincerely, "The most qualified person should get the job." To a leftist that means: "People of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race."
Or suppose I describe a black malefactor as a thug. What I have 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?
Every day brings further evidence that contemporary liberals have lost their minds.
A yoga class has been cancelled at the University of Ottawa on the ground that participants are complicit in 'oppression' and 'cultural genocide.' By the way, we are talking about hatha yoga here which is essentially just stretching.
So you might think that re-labelling the course 'Stretching' would solve the problem. But no!
This is a good place to observe that stretching is an essential ingredient in a balanced physical fitness program along with aerobic exercise (walking, hiking, running, biking, etc.), anaerobic work (weight-lifting), and activities that maintain good hand-eye coordination (tennis, pickleball, etc.) The Maverick recommends a four-pronged approach.
Why is Canada such a Pee Cee place? I should think that with all that rugged country up there, those vast empty expanses, and the ass-freezing temperatures a tougher breed of cat would live there and not a bunch of pc-whipped pussies.
Another 'interesting' development is the assault on free speech. According to Pew Research, 40% of millennials think it acceptable to limit speech offensive to minorities.
Trouble is, almost anything will be found offensive by the members of some minority or other. Some blacks have shown themselves to be absurdly sensitive to the slights they imagine embedded in such words and phrases as 'niggardly,' 'denigrate,' 'black hole,' and 'watermelon.'
Some take offense at 'chink in the armor.' But if 'chink in the armor' is about Asians, then the Asians in question would have to be rather tiny to hang out interstitially in, say, a coat of mail.
Why not take offense at 'chunk'? Someone might get it into his Pee Cee head that a chunk is a fat chink.
There is no end to this madness once it gets going, which is why we sane and decent people need to mock and deride liberals every chance we get. Mockery and derision can achieve what calm reasoning cannot.
One cannot reason with those who are permanently in a state of self-colonoscopy.
Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who is running for president, is now in trouble with the politically correct for referring to Syrian terrorists as rabid dogs. The comparison is perfectly apt, and only a fool or a liberal could take offense at it. A Syrian terrorist is not 'rabid' in that he is Syrian; he is 'rabid' in that he is a terrorist.
Note the double standard involved here. Carson compares Muslim terrorists to rabid dogs. But Muslims refer to ALL Jews as the sons and daughters of pigs and monkeys. Where is the outrage of the squishy-headed libs and lefties over this, something that is objectively offensive?
But as I have said many times before, there would be nothing left of a Left made bereft of its double standards.
"An Italian man was arrested in Dublin on Sunday and charged with killing his Irish landlord and attempting to eat his heart after an argument about a game of chess." (here)
When the irascibility of the Italian collides with the pugnacity of the Irishman, look out! The above incident adds resonance to a well-known chess title, Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood, by Edward Lasker, not to be confused with Emmanuel Lasker.
Am I retailing stereotypes? Damn straight I am. If you deny that stereotypes have a fundamentum in re, then you are either stupid or a liberal, predicates which may in the end be coextensive.
Voter ID laws have been challenged because liberal Democrats deem them racist. I guess that’s because they see blacks as being incapable of acquiring some kind of government-issued identification. Interesting enough is the fact that I’ve never heard of a challenge to other ID requirements as racist, such as those: to board a plane, open a charge account, have lab work done or cash a welfare check. Since liberal Democrats only challenge legal procedures to promote ballot-box integrity, the conclusion one reaches is that they are for vote fraud prevalent in many Democrat-controlled cities.
I have been saying the above for years. But what I hadn't noticed was the following:
There is another area where the attack on ballot-box integrity goes completely unappreciated. We can examine this attack by looking at the laws governing census taking. As required by law, the U.S. Census Bureau is supposed to count all persons in the U.S. Those to be counted include citizens, legal immigrants and non-citizen long-term visitors. The law also requires that illegal immigrants be a part of the decennial census. The estimated number of illegal immigrants ranges widely from 12 million to 30 million. Official estimates put the actual number closer to 12 million.
Both citizens and non-citizens are included in the census and thus affect apportionment counts. Counting illegals in the census undermines one of the fundamental principles of representative democracy — namely, that every citizen-voter has an equal voice. Through the decennial census-based process of apportionment, states with large numbers of illegal immigrants, such as California and Texas, unconstitutionally gain additional members in the U.S. House of Representatives thereby robbing the citizen-voters in other states of their rightful representation.
It has been over fifty years now since the landmark civil rights and welfare legislation of the 1960s, an example of which is the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But blacks are still not doing very well. Why? There is an explanation below the fold. But I must issue a 'trigger warning' to the PC-whipped. The opinions of the author may cause grave psychic distress. If you venture below you and you alone accept full responsibility for your distress. DO NOT go there if you identify as liberal, leftist, progressive, socialist, Maoist, as politically correct or (what may be the same thing) if you are opposed to free inquiry, open discussion, free speech, and intellectual honesty.
Arthur C. Brooks deplores the lack of ideological diversity and the prevalence of 'groupthink' in academia in an October 30th NYT editorial entitled "Academia's Rejection of Diversity." He is of course right to do so. But this is nothing new as any conservative will tell you. And we don't need studies to know about it, which is not to say that studies are not of some slight use in persuading doubters.
What I would take issue with, though, is Brooks' apparently unqualified belief that "being around people [ideologically] unlike ourselves makes us [intellectually] better people . . . ." I have added, charitably I should think, a couple of qualifiers in brackets.
Interaction with ideological opponents can be fruitful, and sometimes is. That goes without saying.
But I think it is very easy to overestimate the value of interactions with people with fundamentally different views. It is a mistake to think that more and more 'conversations' will lead to amicable agreements and mutual understanding. This mistake is based on the false assumption that there is still common ground on which to hold these 'conversations.'
I say we need fewer 'conversations' and more voluntary separation. In many situations we need the political equivalent of divorce. In marriage as in politics the bitter tensions born of irreconcilable differences are relieved by divorce, not by attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable. Let's consider some examples. In each of these cases it is difficult to see what common ground the parties to the dispute occupy.
1. Suppose you hold the utterly abhorrent view that it is a justifiable use of state power to force a florist or a caterer to violate his conscience by providing services at, say, a same-sex 'marriage' ceremony.
2. Or you hold the appalling and ridiculous view that demanding photo ID at polling places disenfranchises those would-be voters who lack such ID.
3. Or you refuse to admit a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.
4. Or you maintain the absurd thesis that global warming is the greatest threat to humanity at the present time. (Obama)
6. Or, showing utter contempt for facts, you insist that Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was an 'unarmed black teenager' shot down like a dog in cold blood without justification of any sort by the racist cop, Darren Wilson.
7. Or you compare Ferguson and Baltimore as if they are relevantly similar. (Hillary Clinton)
8. Or you mendaciously elide distinctions crucial in the gun debate such as that between semi-auto and full-auto. (Dianne Feinstein)
9. Or you systematically deploy double standards. President Obama, for example, refuses to use 'Islamic' in connection with the Islamic State or 'Muslim' in connection with Muslim terrorists. But he has no problem with pinning the deeds of crusaders and inquisitors on Christians.
10. Or you mendaciously engage in self-serving anachronism, for example, comparing current Muslim atrocities with Christian ones long in the past.
11. Or you routinely slander your opponents with such epithets as 'racist,' 'sexist,' etc.
12. Or you make up words whose sole purpose is to serve as semantic bludgeons and cast doubt on the sanity of your opponents. You know full well that a phobia is an irrational fear, but you insist on labeling those who oppose homosexual practices as 'phobic' when you know that their opposition is in most cases rationally grounded and not based in fear, let alone irrational fear.
13. Or you bandy the neologism 'Islamophobia' as a semantic bludgeon when it is plain that fear of radical Islam is entirely rational. In general, you engage in linguistic mischief whenever it serves your agenda thereby showing contempt for the languages you mutilate.
14. Or you take the side of underdogs qua underdogs without giving any thought as to whether or not these underdogs are in any measure responsible for their status or their misery by their crimes. You apparently think that weakness justifies.
15. Or you label abortion a 'reproductive right' or a 'women's health issue' thus begging the question of its moral acceptability.
On each of these points and many others I could write a book demolishing the hard Left position that underlies the points and that dominates the universities, the mainstream media, the courts, and our current government. So what's to discuss? What conceivable motive could a conservative have to enter into debates with people who, from a conservative point of view, are willfully wrongheaded and demonstrably mistaken? There are open questions that need discussing, but the above aren't among them.
Robert Paul Wolff over at The Philosopher's Stoneopines:
Ben Carson may just be the most thoroughly despicable person to make a run for the presidency in modern times. So I take particular pleasure in the third quarter financial report that revealed that the good doctor spent 57% of the money he raised -- raising money. I think while he has devoted himself to uttering ugly, contemptible things in his soft, soothing voice someone has been taking him for a ride. I hope his deeply religious supporters appreciate the fact that their dollars are being spent searching for dollars [and running up impressive tabs at expensive eateries -- but that is another story.] Actually, since his biggest fans are faithful attendees at Christian services, they are probably used to this. (Emphasis added.)
Professor Wolff is not just some two-bit blogger, but an accomplished philosopher who has written some good books. But then he posts scurrilous, slanderous stuff like the above. (And this is just one example.)
What explains the Left's hatred of conservative blacks, a hatred so intense that it unhinges otherwise rational people like Wolff? Comments are enabled. I'm interested in your theories.
How is it that if a conservative argues against the ideas or policies of a black leftist such as Obama he is immediately labelled a racist, while if a leftist like Wolff viciously and personally attacks a black conservative while ignoring the content of his remarks, he escapes the charge of racism?
Remove the question mark from the above caption and you have the title for a New York Timeseditorial for 16 October. Here are the first three paragraphs with my comments interspersed:
Lawmakers in Washington and around the country are in an uproar over what they derisively call “sanctuary cities.” These are jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, or try in other ways to protect unauthorized immigrants from unjust deportation.
"Derisively call"? Here is a well-known leftist tactic. Words and phrases that have long been in use, have clear meanings, are descriptive rather than emotive, and are therefore innocuous, are given such labels as 'derisive,' 'insulting,' demeaning,' 'racist,' and so on. 'Anchor baby,' 'illegal alien,' and 'Obamacare' are three examples that come immediately to mind. As for 'anchor baby,' Alan Colmes recently opined on The O'Reilly Factor that it is demeaning because it likens the babies of illegal border crossers to weights that place a burden on American society. I kid you not. That's what our boy said. But the term implies no such thing. Anchor babies are so-called because, if you will permit me to change the metaphor, they provide a foothold in the U.S. for their illegal alien parents. This is because, on current law, anyone born within the boundaries of the U. S. is automatically a citizen of the U. S. Now whether this is or ought to be an entailment of Section 1 of Amendment XIV of the U.S. Constitution is an important question, but not one for the present occasion.
Notice in the second sentence of the first paragraph the phrase "unjust deportation." If you will excuse the expression in this context, it takes cojones to call unjust the lawful deportation of illegal aliens. Cojones or chutzpah, one.
The Senate is voting Tuesday on a bill from David Vitter of Louisiana to punish these cities by denying them federal law-enforcement funds. The House passed its version [hyperlink suppressed] in July. North Carolina’s Legislature has passed a bill forbidding sanctuary policies. Lawmakers in Michigan and Texas are seeking similar laws.
This a distortion of Vitter's proposal. The truth: "Vitter’s legislation would withhold certain federal funding from sanctuary states or cities that fail to comply with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued detainer requests for illegal aliens." (Emphasis added)
These laws are a false fix for a concocted problem. They are based on the lie, now infecting the Republican presidential campaign, that all unauthorized immigrants are dangerous criminals who must be subdued by extraordinary means.
It takes unmitigated gall to claim that your opponents are lying, when you are lying. I'd like to know who among Republicans has claimed that ALL illegal aliens are dangerous criminals. So who is slandering whom here?
At this point I stopped reading. Three paragraphs, four howlers: first a trade-mark leftist act of linguistic obfuscation, then an outright lie, then a distortion of the truth, then another outright lie.
But of course few if any contemporary liberals will agree with what I have just written. This leads us beyond this particular issue to a strange, ominous, and yet fascinating development in American life which of course has been long in the making: we can't agree on much of anything any more. We are, unbelievably, arguing over what really are beneath discussion, over issues that ought to be non-issues. And every year it gets worse. Suing gun manufacturers? Aussie-style gun confiscation? No photo ID at polling places? Sanctuary cities? Social Security benefits for illegal aliens?
Now you can perhaps understand why I often refer to contemporary liberals as morally and intellectually obtuse. There is really nothing reasonably to debate on these and many other, not all, current hot topics. Those who think otherwise and are willing to use the power of the State to enforce their crazy and deleterious ideas are making a very strong argument, nolens volens, for Second Amendment rights.
Here is what Dr. Ben Carson said about guns and the Holocaust: "The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."
For this and other observations Carson is coming under vicious attack from the Left. What follows is Dennis Prager's commentary:
Those comments were actually labeled anti-Semitic.
Now, while "greatly diminished" is debatable, the general view strikes me as simple common sense: Why wouldn't it have been a good thing if many Jews in 1930s Europe had had weapons? Of course it would not have prevented the Holocaust, but it might have saved some lives; and just as important, it would have enabled armed Jews to die fighting rather than to die unarmed and with no ability to fight. If Jews in Europe had been asked, "Would you like to be armed when the Nazis come to round you up?" what do Carson's critics think the great majority of European Jews would have answered? Indeed, what would the critics themselves answer?
No normal person thinks that armed Jews would have prevented the Holocaust (nor did Carson make such a claim). But no normal person should think that it would have not have been a good thing if many European Jews had weapons. The hallowed Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began with the Jews in the Ghetto possessing a total of 10 handguns. Imagine if they had a thousand.
In The Washington Post, David Kopel of the Cato Institute, who teaches Advanced Constitutional Law at the University Denver Sturm College of Law, cited the diaries of Jews who died in the Warsaw Ghetto. They expressed unalloyed joy at being able to kill some of their Nazi tormentors, and deep regret about not having been armed and been able to fight back sooner than they did.
But even if one believes that Carson and Kopel are wrong, how could one characterize Carson's comments as "anti-Semitic" or "blaming the victims [the Jews]"? How could one label statements expressing the wish that the Jews of the Holocaust had been armed "anti-Semitic"? Yet, among others, a contributing editor to the Forward, a leading Jewish newspaper, wrote that these remarks were "profoundly anti-Semitic, immoral and disgusting." And Carson was attacked by prominent Jews in Time and by the Anti-Defamation League.
The left is in full-blown smear-Carson mode. He is, after all, the left's worst nightmare -- a black Republican who is brilliant, kind and widely admired, including by many blacks.
It is a rule of left-wing life that black Republicans must have their names and reputations destroyed. The left knows that if blacks do not vote overwhelmingly Democrat, Democrats cannot win a national election. (Emphasis added.)
So, the smearing of Dr. Ben Carson has just begun.
2. Schools. Most liberals oppose charter schools, support teachers’ unions, and encourage generous immigration, legal and illegal. To further diversity in the schools, create easier integration, and to nullify the insidiousness of white privilege, each liberal should pledge, “I will put at least one of my children in an inner-city public school, or in a school where the white enrollment is in a minority.” What better way to acculturate a young elite to the new world around him? Could not the Obama children attend a D.C. public school?
3. Guns. Gun control is an iconic liberal issue, specifically limitations on handguns and concealed weapons. Too many guns in too many places supposedly encourage violent crime. Again, what better way to make a statement than by having all liberal celebrities, business people, and politicians take the following pledge: “I will pledge that no one in my security detail will ever carry a concealed firearm of any sort”? Surely the pope, of all people, did not need armed guards, with lethal concealed weapons, surrounding his pope-mobile?
4. Illegal Immigration. Liberals support the idea of unlimited immigration, legal or not. But the key for successful upward mobility for newly arrived immigrants, attested in nearly all studies, is integration and acculturation with American citizens. Therefore the following pledge seems ideal for any supporter of open borders: “I will socialize weekly with at least one illegal immigrant, whether inviting him to a sporting event, dinner, or recreational activity.” Were one upscale family to adopt an immigrant family from south of the border, the latter’s health care, legal, education, economic, and culture challenges might be alleviated. There are plenty of empty and mostly unused guest houses behind estates in Malibu and Santa Monica, and very few shelters for new arrivals: why not combine need and idleness — and help the helpless?
5. Sanctuary Cities. Most liberals support sanctuary cities and the idea of open borders, including the right of cities to nullify federal law. Why not pledge, “I will swear support for all American cities that choose to nullify any federal laws that they find oppressive and somehow contrary to the idea of America”? When a cattleman shoots a wolf, and a county sheriff guffaws and claims “that’s a federal problem, not mine,” then we will have come full circle to the sort of disasters that occur in San Francisco.
6. Diversity. “White privilege” and “black lives matters” are slogans that resonate with liberals. Both could be reified with a simple pledge: “I will live in a neighborhood in which at least one of my immediate neighbors is a non-white household.” In addition, why not eliminate the idea of a gated community altogether? Why send not-so-coded signals that the Other is not wanted? (Could not the Obama administration put a $1,000,000 luxury tax on each of a community’s exclusionary gates?)
Having been accused by liberal scum of being a 'racist' for speaking the truth as I see it, let me point out that before moving to Arizona I bought and lived in a house in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a community which at the time was about 60% white and 40% black. What a 'racist' thing to do! If you want to know what people really think, you don't look to their words, but to their actions, in particular their actions regarding money. The liberals Hanson excoriates are precisely those hypocrites who, while mouthing their bien pensant feel-good rhetoric, hide in lily-white gated communities, send their children to elite private schools, and think that gun ownership is only for them and their guards.
7. Voting Laws. For liberals, driver’s license IDs are unnecessary for registration or even showing up at the polls to vote. Why, then, not cement that pledge by sanctifying the uselessness of such IDs in everyday life? “As proof of solidarity, I pledge that I will not use my own driver’s license ID either during any commercial purchase or at the airport security line — both being far more important than mere voting.”
9. The University. The university is a bastion of liberalism and therefore must reflect such progressive values. “I pledge to support no university whose rate of increase in annual tuition exceeds the rate of inflation or that pays different wages to different categories of professor for the exact same class taught.” Why not boycott Harvard or Berkeley, given that their part-time policies make Wal-Mart’s look enlightened?
If you have been following the news you will have noticed that Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who is running for president, is coming under especially vicious attack from the Left. His being black does not protect him for he is a conservative. GQ Magazine is now running a piece with the title "Fuck Ben Carson." Viciousness on the Left is nothing new of course, but the intensity seem to be increasing. What explains leftist scumbaggery?
One reason that leftists are vicious is that they take to heart Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals #13:
RULE 13: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
Study Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals if you want to understand the tactics of the Obama administration, the Democrat Party, and the Left generally.
So Alinsky begins by telling readers what a radical is. He is not a reformer of the system but its would-be destroyer. This is something that conservatives have a very hard time understanding.Conservatives in my experience are all together too decent, too civilized to match up adequately, at least in the initital stages of the battle, with their adversaries. They are too prone to give them the benefit of the doubt. Radicals can't really want to destroy a society that is democratic and liberal and has brought wealth and prosperity to so many. Oh yes they can. That is in fact the essence of what it means to be a radical -- to be willing to destroy the values, structures and institutions that sustain the society we live in. Marx himself famously cited Alinsky's first rebel (using another of his names -- Mephistopheles): "Everything that exists deserves to perish."
This is why ACORN activists for example have such contempt for the election process, why they are so willing to commit fraud. Because just as Lucifer didn't believe in God's kingdom, so the radicals who run ACORN don't believe in the democratic system. To them it's a fraud -- an instrument of the ruling class, or as Alinsky prefers to call it, the Haves. If the electoral system doesn't serve all of us, but is only an instrument of the Haves then election fraud is justified, is a means of creating a system that serves the Have-Nots -- social justice. Until conservatives begin to understand exactly how dishonest radicals are -- dishonest in their core -- it is going to be very hard to defend the system that is under attack. For radicals the noble end -- creating a new heaven on earth -- justifies any means. And if one actually believed it was possible to create heaven on earth who would not willingly destroy any system hitherto created by human beings?
If you are a conservative, don't talk like a liberal! I've made this point before but it bears repeating. We conservatives should never acquiesce in the Left's acts of linguistic vandalism. Battles in the culture war are often lost and won on linguistic ground. So we ought to oppose resolutely the Left's attempts at linguistic corruption.
A phobia is a fear, but not every fear is a phobia. A phobia is an irrational fear. One who argues against the morality of homosexual practices, or gives reasons for opposing same-sex marriage is precisely -- presenting arguments, and not expressing any phobia. The arguments may or may not be cogent. But they are expressive of reason, and are intended to appeal to the reason of one's interlocutor. To dismiss them as an expression of a phobia show a lack of respect for reason and for the persons who proffer the arguments.
There are former meat-eaters who can make an impressive case against the eating of meat. Suppose that, instead of addressing their arguments, one denounces the former carnivores as 'carniphobes.' Can you see what is wrong with that? These people have a reasoned position. Their reasoning may be more or less cogent, their premises more or less disputable. But the one thing they are not doing is expressing an irrational fear of eating meat. Many of them like the stuff and dead meat inspires no fear in them whatsoever.
The point should be obvious: 'homophobia' is just as objectionable as 'carniphobia.' People who use words like these are attempting to close off debate, to bury a legitimate issue beneath a crapload of PeeCee jargon. So it is not just that 'homophobe' and 'homophobia' are question-begging epithets; they are question-burying epithets.
And of course 'Islamophobia' and cognates are other prime examples. Once again, a phobia is an irrational fear. But fear of radical Islam is not at all irrational. You are a dolt if you use these terms, and a double dolt if you are a conservative.
Why does language matter? Because clear thinking matters, and language is the medium of thought.
Why does clear thinking matter? Because clear thinking is truth-conducive.
Why does truth matter? Because living according to the truth is conducive to human flourishing.
My argument against the use of these and related terms is simple and straighforward. A phobia, by definition, is an irrational fear. (Every phobia is a fear, but not every fear is a phobia, because not every fear is irrational.) Therefore, one who calls a critic of the doctrines of Islam or of the practices of its adherents an Islamophobe is implying that the critic is in the grip of an irrational fear, and therefore irrational. This amounts to a refusal to confront and engage the content of his assertions and arguments.
This is not to say that there are no people with an irrational fear of Muslims or of Islam. But by the same token there are people with an irrational fear of firearms.
Suppose a defender of gun rights were to label anyone and everyone a hoplophobe who in any way argues for more gun control. Would you, dear liberal, object? I am sure you would. You would point out that a phobia is an irrational fear, and that your fear is quite rational. You would say that you fear the consequences of more and more guns in the hands of more and more people, some of them mentally unstable, some of them criminally inclined, some of them just careless.
You, dear liberal, would insist that your claims and arguments deserve to be confronted and engaged and not dismissed. You would be offended if a conservative or a libertarian were to dismiss you as a hoplophobe thereby implying that you are beneath the level of rational discourse.
So now, dear liberal, you perhaps understand why you ought to avoid 'Islamophobia' and its variants except in those few instances where they are legitimately applied.
Reader Jacques spots an error of mine in a recent entry and goes on to make points with which I agree:
In your recent post on "sloppy liberal thinking about equality" you seem to be thinking a little sloppily yourself. (No offense! I admire your philosophical writing and I've learned a lot from your blog.)
You say that equality of opportunity is necessary but not sufficient for equality of outcomes, but in fact it's neither sufficient nor necessary. It is clearly possible to have unequal opportunities, in pretty much any sense that we can give to that term, and equal outcomes. In fact the denial of equal opportunity might often be necessary for equal outcomes. If many As are criminals and very few Bs are, the only way to equalize the outcomes for As and Bs with respect to incarceration (for example) will be to deny them equal opportunities. Maybe we give Bs many more opportunities to shape up than we give to As, for example. Or maybe we sentence As more harshly than Bs for the same offences.
Or imagine a more extreme scenario: all As but no Bs are competent philosophers. Universities might then arrange to have 'equal outcomes' for As and Bs with respect to admission to graduate studies in philosophy only by making their 'opportunities' grossly unequal in relevant respects. For example, they might choose to set absurdly high standards for any A who seeks admission to a graduate program while setting absurdly low standards for any B, thus ensuring that exactly equal numbers of As and Bs are admitted. Or they might choose to introduce new criteria for admission which have no systematic relationship to anyone's interest or ability in philosophy, but which can be expected to be met by most Bs and only a few As. (Perhaps almost all Bs are left-handed or good at Scrabble, and these traits are very rare among As. The universities declare that being a left-handed Scrabble player contributes something vital and deep and vibrant to the philosophical culture, and that, therefore, those who can enrich the culture in this respect, just by being who they are, and that, therefore, they should always be preferred to other candidates in relation to whom they are 'relatively equal' in other respects.)
Of course, this is pretty much how 'equal outcomes' are achieved, or approximated, in our actual society under the rule of Leftism. Since people and groups are in fact radically unequal in their abilities and interests and in pretty much every way that matters, the desired equality of outcomes must always be achieved by denying opportunities to some people and creating special opportunities for others. This is how 'affirmative action' works, for example. If the relevant 'opportunities' were really equal, there would be far fewer women and racial minorities in philosophy than there are at present. And usually it's quite obvious that women, for example, are being hired or promoted on the basis of qualifications or achievements that would not count for much if they were men. (Not to suggest, of course, that no or few women are capable or competent philosophers; the point is that if they are their capabilities and competence are almost always rated far more highly than they would be if they were men.) Women and minorities are routinely given a kind of 'opportunity' that is denied to others: the opportunity to have their achievements and abilities assessed under less demanding standards.
Consider first a parallel question: Could I support a Christian for president? Yes, other things being equal, but not if he or she is a theocrat. Why not? Because theocracy is incompatible with the principles, values, and founding documents of the United States of America.
Similarly, I could easily support a Muslim such as Zuhdi Jasser for president (were he to run) because he is not a theocrat or a supporter of Sharia. To be precise: Jasser's being a Muslim would not count for me as a reason not to support him, even though I might have other reasons not to support him, for example, unelectability.
When Dr. Ben Carson said he could not support a Muslim for president what he meant was that he could not support a Muslim who advocated Sharia. That was clear to the charitable among us right from the outset. But he later clarified his remarks so that even the uncharitable could not fail to understand him.
Some dismissed this clarification as 'backtracking.' To 'backtrack,' however, is to say something different from what one originally said. Carson did not 'backtrack'; he clarified his original meaning.
Nevertheless, CAIR has absurdly demanded that Carson withdraw from the presidential race.
Is there anything here for reasonable people to discuss? No. Then why is this story still in the news? Because as a nation we are losing our collective mind.
It's like Ferguson. What's to discuss? Nothing. We know the facts of the case. Michael Brown was not gunned down by a racist cop seeking to commit murder under the cover of law. Brown brought about his own demise. On the night of his death he stole from a convenience store, assaulted the proprietor, refused to obey a legitimate command from police officer Darren Wilson, but instead tried to wrest the officer's weapon from him. He acted immorally, illegally, and very imprudently. He alone is responsible for his death.
So there is nothing here for reasonable and morally decent people to discuss. But we are forced to discuss it because of the lies told about Ferguson by the Left. The truth does not matter to leftists; what matters is the 'empowering' narrative. A narrative is a story, and a story needn't be true to be a good story, an 'empowering' story, a story useful for the promotion of the Left's destructive agenda.
Another pseudo-issue that deserves no discussion except to combat the lies and distortions of the Left: photo ID at polling places.
Equality of opportunity is one thing, equality of outcome quite another. The former is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of the latter. Yet many liberals think that any lack of equality of outcome for a given group argues an antecedent lack of equality of opportunity for that group. This is a non sequitur of the following form:
P is necessary for Q
~Q is sufficient for ~P.
This is an invalid argument form since it is easy to find substitutions for ‘P’ and ‘Q’ that make the premise true and the conclusion false. For example, being a citizen is necessary to be eligible to vote; ergo, not being eligible to vote is sufficient to show that one is not a citizen. The conclusion is false, since there might be some other factor that disqualifies one from voting such as being a felon, or being under age. Similarly, an unequal outcome is not sufficient to show discrimination or unequal opportunity for the simple reason that there might be some other factor that explains the unequal outcome, such as a lack of competitiveness, an inability to defer gratification, or a lack of ability.
According to "The Black Book of Communism," between 1959 and the late 1990s, more than 100,000 (out of about 10 million) Cubans spent time in the island's gulag. Between 15,000 and 19,000 were shot. One of the first was a young boy in Che Guevara's unit who had stolen a little food. As for quality of life, it has declined compared with its neighbors. In 1958, Cuba had one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Today, as the liberal New Republic describes it:
"The buildings in Havana are literally crumbling, many of them held upright by two-by-fours. Even the cleanest bathrooms are fetid, as if the country's infrastructural bowels might collectively evacuate at any minute.
"Poverty in Cuba is severe in terms of access to physical commodities, especially in rural areas. Farmers struggle, and many women depend on prostitution to make a living. Citizens have few material possessions and lead simpler lives with few luxuries and far more limited political freedom."
This left-leaning pope (who failed to stand up for the Cuban dissidents who were arrested when attempting to attend a mass he was conducting) and our left-leaning president have attributed Cuba's total failure to the U.S.
It's critically important to care about the poor -- but if those who claim to care for the poor and the oppressed stand with the oppressors, what are we to conclude?
Much is made of Pope Francis' Argentine origins -- the fact that the only kind of capitalism he's experienced is of the crony variety. Maybe. But Pope Francis is a man of the world, and the whole world still struggles to shake off a delusion -- namely, that leftists who preach redistribution can help the poor.
Has this pope or Obama taken a moment to see what Hugo Chavez's socialist/populist Venezuela has become? Chavez and his successor (like Castro, like Lenin, like Mao) promised huge redistribution from the rich to the poor. There have indeed been new programs for the poor, but the economy has been destroyed. The leader of the opposition was just thrown in jail. Meanwhile, the shops have run out of flour, oil, toilet paper and other basics.
If you want moral credit for caring about the poor, when, oh when, do you ever have to take responsibility for what happens to the poor when leftists take over?
We know what actually lifts people out of poverty: property rights, the rule of law, free markets. Not only do those things deliver the fundamentals that people need to keep body and soul together, but they accomplish this feat without a single arrest, persecution or show trial.
Monday’s violence [at the West Indian American Day Parade] also should provide advance warning that the New York City Council’s plan to decriminalize such quality-of-life laws as public drinking and public urination is a recipe for disaster. The decriminalization agenda in New York and nationally is driven by the specious claim that enforcing the law unfairly targets blacks and subjects them to draconian penalties. The parade toll shows the opposite: the best way to save black lives is to enforce the law.
This suggests a polemical definition of 'liberal': a person who never met a standard he didn't want to erode. You have to be pretty far gone to think that public intoxication and public urination are acceptable behaviors, and are you not a racist if you think that blacks cannot be held to minimal standards of public behavior?
If reasonable laws unfairly target blacks, do laws against armed robbery unfairly target males inasmuch as males as a group are much more likely to commit such a crime than females?
Suppose someone said that the latter laws are 'anti-male' because they 'target' males rather than females. You'd say the person is an idiot, right? You would explain to the fool that, of course, anti-armed-robbery laws have a 'disproportionate impact' on males because -- wait for it -- males, as a group, are much more aggressive than females, as a group, and much more likely to commit murder, armed robbery, rape, and other dastardly deeds.
To understand the Left you must never forget that truth is not a leftist value. Living proof: Obama and Hillary.
Leftists, like Islamists, feel justified in engaging in any form of mendacity so long as it promotes their agenda. And of course the agenda, the list of what is to be done (to cop a line from V.I. Lenin), is of paramount importance since, as Karl Marx himself wrote, "The philosophers have variously interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it." (11th Thesis on Feuerbach). The 'glorious' end justifies the shabby means.
As for Islamists, their doctrine in support of deception is called taqiyya.
Islamism is the communism of the 21st century.
You should not take at face value anything any contemporary liberal says. Always assume they are lying and then look into it. Obama, of course, is the poster boy for the endlessly repeated big brazen lie. It is right out of the commie playbook. "If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan."
Victor Davis Hanson argues that this is just another of a series of silly slogans fated to perish of its own inanity and be forgotten. He gives it a year.
Meanwhile lawlessness rises as Heather MacDonald documents.
Part of the problem, of course, is the refusal to hold the Black Lives Matter crowd and their leftist enablers to account.
All lives matter. It follows that black lives matter, including the lives of the peaceful, law-abiding, hard-working black residents of Ferguson, Missouri. And because these black lives matter, it matters that laws be enforced. All reasonable laws from traffic laws to laws against looting and arson.
As if to prove once again that that there is no coward like a university administrator, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, after having said in an e-mail to students that all lives matter, has retracted her statement and apologized.
Horribile dictu. And yet another proof that the universities of the land, most of them, have turned into leftist seminaries and hothouses of political correctness. And yet another example of abdication of authority by those in positions of authority.
And so I pinch myself once again. Am I awake? Or is this all a bad dream? Could this stuff really be happening?
Memo to President McCartney: grow a pair, or the female equivalent thereof. You don't apologize for speaking the truth; you stand up for the truth and fight back against the the foolish know-nothings whom you are supposed to be 'educating.'
A more recent case is that of Martin O'Malley who after proclaiming the self-evident "All lives matter" apologized for his 'insensitivity' to people who parade around chanting "Pigs in a blanket! Fry 'em like bacon!"
Disgusting. Pathetic. Never apologize to scumbags and thugs. Never grovel before evil doers.
In the absence of a practical alternative to the capitalist system, the [Marxist] revolutionary project is a nihilism--the will to destroy existing societies without an idea of what to do next.
The persistence of the revolutionary illusion without the revolutionary fact has given rise to what should properly be called a neo-communist movement--one that has learned nothing from the failures of Communism but has not abandoned the cause itself. Neo-communist radicals add new dimensions of oppression to the Marxist model, like racism and "sexism." But it is the same Marxist model that divides the world into oppressors and oppressed, identifies capitalism as the root cause of global problems, and regards the United States as the global system's guardian-in-chief. Consequently, like the Communist perspective it has replaced, the contemporary radical outlook opposes America's wars and opposes America's peace. All that really distinguishes this neo-communist perspective from its Communist predecessor is its ad-hoc attitude towards the revolutionary future, and the nihilistic agenda that follows.
As an expression of its nihilism, the contemporary left defines and organizes itself as a movement against rather than for. Its components may claim to be creating egalitarian futures in which racism, "sexism" and corporate dominance no longer exist and in which "social justice" prevails. But unlike Communists, the neo-coms are not committed to even a rudimentary blueprint as to what such an order might be. It is this lack of programmatic consensus that leads some leftists to deny that there even is a "left," and makes it possible for a fragmented coalition of neo-coms--including anarchists, eco-radicals, radical feminists, "queer" revolutionaries, Maoists, Stalinists, and vaguely defined "progressives"-to operate side by side in improbable coalitions like the antiwar movement. It is why they can do so in ways that benefit such anti-egalitarian allies and regimes as Islamic radicals and the Baathist, fascist state of Iraq.
David Horowitz, The Black Book of the American Left, Vol II: Progressives (2013): pp.28-29
What kind of country do we live in where law-abiding businesses are fined, threatened and demonized for refusing to bake gay wedding cakes, but barbaric baby butchers are hailed by feminists, Hollywood and a president who asked God to "bless" them?
God help us.
In Obama's Amerika, the state, among whose legitimate functions are the protection of life, liberty, and property, sanctions and profits from the taking of the lives of the unborn while violating the liberty of those who refuse, as a matter of conscience, to be complicit in ceremonies to which they have moral objections.
Brendan Eich resigned as the chief executive of Mozilla, a company he helped found, after gay rights activists launched a boycott against the company for placing him in a senior position. Eich's sin? More than five years earlier, he donated $1,000 to the campaign for California's Proposition 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in the state. It didn't matter that he'd explicitly assured employees that he would treat them fairly, regardless of their sexual orientation. What mattered was that Eich (like the 7 million people who voted in favor of Prop 8) had made himself a heretic by coming down on the wrong side of an issue on which error had now become impermissible.
Liberals indulged in a wildly overwrought reaction to the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, with seasoned journalists likening the plaintiffs to the Pakistani Taliban, and countless others taking to social media to denounce a government-sanctioned theocratic assault on women's health — all because some women working for corporations that are "closely held" by religiously conservative owners might have to pay out of pocket for certain forms of freely available contraception (as, one presumes, they currently do for toothpaste). Apparently many liberals, including the Senate Democrats who seem poised to gut the decision, consider it self-evident that these women face a far greater burden than the conservative owners, who would be forced by the government to violate their religious beliefs. One highly intelligent commentator, inadvertently confessing his incapacity to think beyond the confines of liberal dogma, described the religious objection as "trivial" and "so abstract and attenuated it's hard to even explain what it is."
Beyond the Beltway, related expressions of liberal dogmatism have led a Harvard undergraduate to suggest that academic freedom shouldn't apply to the handful of conservatives on campus — because their views foster and justify "oppression." In a like-minded column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, a professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania argued that religious colleges should be denied accreditation — because accrediting them "confers legitimacy on institutions that systematically undermine the most fundamental purposes of higher education," one of which is to pursue "skeptical and unfettered" (read: dogmatically liberal and secular) inquiry.
I read John D.Caputo years ago, in the late '70s, in connection with work I was doing on Heidegger. I read a couple of his early Heidegger articles and a couple of his books. One of them, The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought, is in my library. Caputo seemed worth reading at the time. But he appears to have gone off the deep end. This from a New York TimesOpinionator interview entitled "Looking White in the Face":
John D. Caputo: “White” is of the utmost relevance to philosophy, and postmodern theory helps us to see why. I was once criticized for using the expression “true north.” It reflected my Nordo-centrism, my critic said, and my insensitivity to people who live in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, no such thing had ever crossed my mind, but that points to the problem. We tend to say “we” and to assume who “we” are, which once simply meant “we white male Euro-Christians.”
Postmodern theory tries to interrupt that expression at every stop, to put every word in scare quotes, to put our own presuppositions into question, to make us worry about the murderousness of “we,” and so to get in the habit of asking, “we, who?” I think that what modern philosophers call “pure” reason — the Cartesian ego cogito and Kant’s transcendental consciousness — is a white male Euro-Christian construction.
White is not “neutral.” “Pure” reason is lily white, as if white is not a color or is closest to the purity of the sun, and everything else is “colored.” Purification is a name for terror and deportation, and “white” is a thick, dense, potent cultural signifier that is closely linked to rationalism and colonialism. What is not white is not rational. So white is philosophically relevant and needs to be philosophically critiqued — it affects what we mean by “reason” — and “we” white philosophers cannot ignore it.
This is truly depressing stuff. It illustrates the rarefied, pseudo-intellectual stupidity to which leftist intellectuals routinely succumb, and the level to which humanities departments in our universities have sunk. We speak of 'true North' in distinction from 'magnetic North,' which is what a compass needle points to. The difference in location between the two is called declination and must be taken into account for accurate navigation. The phrase 'true North' has nothing to do with Nordo-centrism or insensitivity to those who live in the Southern Hemisphere. It is just a physical fact that compass needles track magnetic North, and that magnetic North is not the same as true North.
I feel as if I should apologize for pointing out something so obvious, but in the lunatic precincts of the postmodern, the obvious gets no respect. Does Caputo perhaps imagine that the Earth and its magnetic properties are social constructs? I hope not. One wonders what is going on in his head. Perhaps he is afraid of hurting the feelings of people who live in the Southern Hemisphere by his use of 'true North.' But for them to take offense at that phrase would be like a black person taking offense at 'black hole,' which, mirabile dictu, has actually happened. The phrase is from cosmology. Roughly, a black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing can escape including no form of electromagnetic radiation such as light. Black holes have nothing to do with people of African-American descent or with black whores: 'hos' in black street idiom. And this is the case even when 'black hole' is used metaphorically to refer to, say, a windowless office.
It is the same with 'true North.' If used literally, it does not mean that the North is 'true' and the South 'false' or any such nonsense. And the same goes for the phrase used metaphorically.
People with basic common sense know that there is such a thing as taking inappropriate offense and that one should not cater to the whims of the absurdly sensitive. In this connection I remind you of the case of the poor schlep who lost his job because of his use of the perfectly innocuous English word 'niggardly,' which, of course, has nothing to do with 'nigger.' By the way, I just mentioned the word 'nigger'; I did not use it. I said something about the word; I did not apply it to anyone. (Is your typical Continental philosopher aware of the use-mention distinction?)
The purveyors of POMO need to be reminded that thinking is not association of ideas: if you associate 'niggardly' with 'nigger,' that is your problem and no basis for an argument to the conclusion that a user of 'niggardly' is a racist.
Should we question our presuppositions? Of course. That is essential to the philosophical enterprise. But one ought to do this without absurd exaggerations ("the murderousness of 'we' ") and double standards. I say we ought to question our presuppositions. Who am I referring to with my use of 'we'? To those of us who aspire to be reasonable and to seek the truth. I am afraid I don't see the "murderousness" of that. And I don't see how a white person is barred from referring to rational truth-seekers by his use of 'we' just because he or she is a white person.
Now to our title question. Is pure reason a white male Euro-Christian construction? This is just nonsense and is really beneath refutation. But given the sorry state of things, refutation is needed. Caputo is alluding to Kant's 1781 (2nd ed. 1787) Critique of Pure Reason. And Caputo must know that for Kant 'pure' means: free of empirical elements (CPR B 3) and that pure reason is the faculty that "contains the principles whereby we know anything absolutely a priori." (CPR A 11 B 24) This has nothing to do with racial purity.
Caputo is here instantiating the role of Continental mush-head: he is not thinking but engaging in argument by association, which is not argument at all, any more than another Continental favorite, argument by incantation, is argument at all.
But it is worse than this because Caputo is engaged in a sort of philosophical smear job. Here we have a great philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who is undertaking to evaluate the cognitive 'reach' of pure reason. His project is to assess the capacity of reason unaided by sensory input to secure knowledge in special metaphysics (metaphysica specialis) whose main objects are God, the soul, and the world as a whole. Corresponding to these objects are the highest concerns of humanity: God, freedom, and immortality.
And what does Caputo do? He conflates the purity that Kant speaks of with racial purity and then goes on to associate, scurrilously and irresponsibly, pure reason with "terror and deportation" and "colonialism." This of course is right out of the cultural Marxist's playbook.
For a leftist, anything a reasonable person says is 'code' for something else. The leftist cannot take anything at face value as meaning what it obviously means. He is out to debunk and deconstruct and unmask. As cultural Marxists, they are out to cut through 'false consciousness' and 'bourgeois ideology.' Theirs is the hermeneutics of suspicion. So 'pure reason' cannot mean what Kant says it means; it has to mean something else: it is a "cultural signifier" for terror and deportation and what all else. Or if I speak of truth and of seeking truth, then my use of 'truth' really signifies power and white privilege and what all else.
And when I refute the POMO nonsense and show that it is self-contradictory, that too cannot be taken at face-value as meaning what it manifestly means and showing what it manifestly shows; it has to be 'deconstructed' as masking some sort of power play or re-affirmation of 'white privilege.'
Is Caputo trying to convince us of certain truths? Then he presupposes truth, in which case truth cannot be a social construct. It is not that there are no social constructs; the point is that not everything can be. Truth, for example. Who constructs it? White males collectively? But if this is so, then that is the case beyond all constructions, in which case truth cannot be a white male construction or a construction by any person or persons. Truth is absolute by its very nature.
Could reason be a social construct? When Caputo tries to convince us of something he appeals to our reason to convince us of what he takes to be reasonable and true. He gives arguments and adduces various considerations. He makes assertions that purport to be true. (And, of course, in purporting to be true, they purport to be objectively and absolutely true, which is to say: not merely true for me or for us or for this social class or that historical epoch.) But how can Caputo, who is a white male who enjoys all sorts of perquisites and privileges, appeal to reason if reason is a white male Euro-Christian construct?
Of course, it may be that Caputo has no intention of appealing to reason. It could be that his POMO verbiage is nothing but obfuscatory rhetoric that masks a bid for power for him and his ilk. I prefer not to believe this, if possible; I met the man once and he seemed like a decent human being.
Is Caputo appealing to a 'true reason' that is not a white male Euro-Christian construct? But he can't do this by his own constructivist, relativist principles. For then he would have to put a different construct in its place, say reason as a black female Afro-Islamic construct. But then he won't be able to convince us or himself of anything rationally. For that different construct would just be another contingent, unbinding framework. If there is a 'true reason,' then it cannot be any sort of contingent human construct vriable across races andf sexes, regions and religions.
The problem, very simply, is that if reason is culturally or racially or in any way relative, then there is no such thing as reason. Reason is like truth in this respect. Truth is absolute by its very nature; talk of relative truth is nonsense. Similarly, reason is normative and impartially adjudicative by its very nature. Talk of reason as reflective of class interests or racial biases is nonsense. So either there is no reason or it is not a social construct. And if it is not a social construct, then of course it is not a white male Euro-Christian construct.
"Your country's PC crap has come to my home town!"
I am sorry to hear that, but I would point out that it is not my country's PC crap, but the PC crap of the hate-America leftists who are destroying a great country. And yes, they do hate America because America is an idea before all else and these slanderous race-baiters hate the principles that articulate the idea.
Both are destructive of the past. Examples aplenty in the news. “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” (George Orwell) Quotation found here.
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.
Thomas Sowell on 'micro-aggression.' Two examples of 'micro-aggression':
If you just sit in a room where all the people are white, you are considered to be guilty of "micro-aggression" against people who are not white, who will supposedly feel uncomfortable when they enter such a room.
At UCLA, a professor who changed the capitalization of the word "indigenous" to lower case in a student's dissertation was accused of "micro-aggression," apparently because he preferred to follow the University of Chicago Manual of Style, rather than the student's attempt to enhance the importance of being indigenous.
Next stop: The Twilight Zone. Sowell's analysis:
The concept of "micro-aggression" is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be "hate speech," instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas. To accuse people of aggression for not marching in lockstep with political correctness is to set the stage for justifying real aggression against them.
This tactic reaches far beyond academia and far beyond the United States. France's Jean-Paul Sartre has been credited -- if that is the word -- with calling social conditions he didn't like "violence," as a prelude to justifying real violence as a response to those conditions. Sartre's American imitators have used the same verbal tactic to justify ghetto riots.
Word games are just one of the ways of silencing politically incorrect ideas, instead of debating them. Demands that various conservative organizations be forced to reveal the names of their donors are another way of silencing ideas by intimidating people who facilitate the spread of those ideas. Whatever the rationale for wanting those names, the implicit threat is retaliation.
This same tactic was used, decades ago, by Southern segregationists who tried to force black civil rights organizations to reveal the names of their donors, in a situation where retaliation might have included violence as well as economic losses.
In a sense, the political left's attempts to silence ideas they cannot, or will not, debate are a confession of intellectual bankruptcy. But this is just one of the left's ever-increasing restrictions on other people's freedom to live their lives as they see fit, rather than as their betters tell them.
Current attempts by the Obama administration to force low-income housing to be built in middle class and upscale communities are on a par with forcing people to buy the kind of health insurance the government wants them to buy -- ObamaCare -- rather than leaving them free to buy whatever suits their own situation and preferences.
The left is not necessarily aiming at totalitarianism. But their know-it-all mindset leads repeatedly and pervasively in that direction, even if by small steps, each of which might be called "micro-totalitarianism."
Centuries ago Voltaire said that “to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” I now offer you Pollack’s Principle of Privilege:
To learn where privilege lies, simply see how people choose to identify themselves.
Once upon a time, people of mixed race did everything they could to “pass” as white. No longer. The mulatto Barack Obama ostentatiously identifies himself as black, while pallid Elizabeth Warren listed herself in the legal and academic community as a “Native American”.
Another sign of this inversion of privilege is that membership in groups considering themselves ‘oppressed’ is as tightly restricted as an exclusive country-club, and for the same reasons. No sooner had the news about Ms. Dolezal came out than she was denounced as a scurrilous pretender to victimhood. But people only defend what has value. In a right-side-up world, no sane person would ever bother fighting to keep others from seeking low status — but they will do whatever it takes to wall off their privileges against unqualified pretenders.
J. Christian Adams ends his piece on the Dolezal caper as follows:
Race is the fuel that runs the modern progressive agenda. It’s 24-7 race. Race is the weapon for the great transformation, for plunking Section 8 housing in wealthy residential areas, for undermining law enforcement and for transforming election laws.
It’s time that Americans start shaming those who would divide us.
Unfortunately, the race baiters who would divide us are shameless and thus impervious to shaming. Nixon could be shamed. But Hillary Milhous Clinton?
Is Dolezal perhaps a trans-racial mulatto? White in reality, black in her mind? Or white in the actual world, but black in some merely possible world? Another example might be George Zimmerman: Hispanic in reality, white in the febrile, race-obsessed, politically correct imagination of the NYT.
I have been saying it for years and every day supplies more evidence that I was and am right: there is nothing so ridiculous, devoid of common sense, bereft of wisdom, insane, or morally obnoxious that some contemporary liberal (leftist) won't jump to embrace.
University of California professors instructed not to say "America is the land of opportunity.' A list of 'microaggressions' is supplied.
Another 'liberal' assault on free speech: Principal loses job for defending McKinney cop.
Both. Here is a liberal professor, writing (not very well) under a pseudonym (of course!) who says he or she is terrified of his or her liberal students. But he or she does make a good point when he or she points to the consumerist mentality that prevails among students. That's been in place for a long time now and is one of the reasons I gave up a tenured position in 1991.
One of the phrases one increasingly hears these days is 'comfort zone.' I humbly suggest that if you are not prepared to leave said zone on a regular basis you will never really live.
One needs stress to grow, mentally, physically, and in every way. Stress is not to be had in a 'safe space.'
Glaubt es mir! – das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heißt: gefährlich leben!For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! (Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, sec. 283, tr. Walter Kaufmann)
There is a website by the name of The Philosophers' Cocoon. You read that right: cocoon. On the masthead: "A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers."
Years ago I answered a reader's e-mail on line, providing his full name. The topic was technical and non-political. A while back he contacted me because he wanted his name removed from an arcane post buried deep in my archives. I did so. But then he started worrying about his name's occurrence in the ComBox . . . .
Now I sympathize with the young and unestablished. We live in nasty, illiberal times. I've made mine, so it requires no great courage to speak the truth under my real name. But it requires some, and more need to 'man up' and 'woman up' to confront the fascist scum on the Left. There is such a thing as civil courage without the exercise of which by large numbers we are done for as a free republic. Click on the link for another example of a reader who requested that his name be removed from my weblog.
And if you are unfamiliar with the disgusting Laura Kipnis affair, bang on this. Dreher's piece ends ominously.
UPDATE: A nationally known conservative college professor, a man who is well into his career, and protected by tenure, just wrote to say “it’s worse than you think,” then sent evidence. He said this has definitely had a chilling effect on the lectures he gives, for fear of triggering a Little Empress or Emperor, who will set out to ruin his academic life. I’m not going to quote his post, because I want to protect him and his position on his campus. But he adds:
If I had to do it over again, I would have never, ever entered academia. I cringe when I think of the few young, ambitious, and bright conservatives who are entering the academy now who have no idea of how even uttering their viewpoints will be turned against them to destroy them.
A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers. - See more at: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/#sthash.d68YIgKt.dpuf
A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers. - See more at: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/#sthash.d68YIgKt.dpuf
A safe and supportive forum for early-career philosophers. - See more at: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/#sthash.d68YIgKt.dpuf
Professor of Government Charles Kesler in the Spring 2015Claremont Review of Books laments that "The culture of free discussion and debate is declining, and with it liberty, on and off the campus." He is right to be offended by the new culture of 'trigger warnings' and 'microaggressions,' but I wonder if his analysis is quite right.
What’s behind the decline? There are many factors, but among the most influential is that dead-end of modern philosophy called postmodernism, which has had two baneful effects. By teaching that reason is impotent—that it can’t arrive at any objective knowledge of truth, beauty, and justice because there is nothing “out there” to be known—postmodernism turns the university into an arena for will to power. All values are relative, so there is no point in discussing whether the most powerful values are true, just, or good. The crucial thing is that they are the most powerful, and can be played as trumps: do not offend me, or you will be in trouble. If we say it’s racist, then it’s racist. Don’t waste our time trying to ask, But what is racism?
Second, postmodernism devotes itself to what Richard Rorty called “language games.” For professors, especially, this is the most exquisite form of will to power, “a royal road to social change,” as Todd Gitlin (the rare lefty professor at Columbia who defends free speech) observes. So freshman girls became “women,” slaves turned into “enslaved persons,” “marriage” had to be opened to “same-sex” spouses, and so forth. Naming or renaming bespeaks power, and for decades we have seen this power rippling through American society. Now even sexual assault and rape are whatever the dogmatic leftists on and off campus say they are.
No truth, then no way things are; power decides
Kesler's analysis is largely correct, but it could use a bit of nuancing and as I like to say exfoliation (unwrapping). First of all, if there is no truth, then there is nothing to be known. And if there is neither knowledge nor truth, then there is no one 'way things are.' There is no cosmos in the Greek sense. Nothing (e.g., marriage) has a nature or essence. That paves the way for the Nietzschean view that, at ontological bottom, "The world is the Will to Power and nothing besides!" We too, as parts of the world, are then nothing more than competing centers of power-acquisition and power-maintenance. Power rules!
This is incoherent of course, but it won't stop it from being believed by leftists. It should be obvious that logical consistency cannot be a value for someone for whom truth is not a value. This is because logical consistency is defined in terms of truth: a set of propositions is consistent if and only if its members can all be true, and inconsistent otherwise.
Don't confuse the epistemological and the ontological
To think clearly about this, however, one must not confuse the epistemological and the ontological. If Nietzsche is right in his ontological claim, and there is no determinate and knowable reality, then there is nothing for us, or anyone, to know. But if we are incapable of knowing anything, or limited in what we can know, it does not follow that there is no determinate and knowable reality. Of course, we are capable of knowing some things, and not just such 'Cartesian' deliverances as that I seem to see a coyote now; we know that there are coyotes and that we sometimes see them and that they will eat damn near anything, etc. (These are evident truths, albeit not self-evident in the manner of a 'Cartesian' deliverance.) Although we know some things, we are fallible and reason in us is weak and limited. We make mistakes, become confused, and to make it worse our cognitive faculties are regularly suborned by base desires, wishful thinking, and what-not.
Fallibilism and objectivism
It is important not to confuse the question of the fallibility of our cognitive faculties, including reason in us, with the question whether there is truth. A fallibilist is not a truth-denier. One can be -- it is logically consistent to be -- both a fallibilist and an upholder of (objective) truth. What's more, one ought to be both a fallibilist about some (not all) classes of propositions, and an upholder of the existence of (objective) truth. Indeed, if one is a fallibilist, one who admits that we sometimes go wrong in matters of knowledge and belief, then then one must also admit that we sometimes go right, which is to say that fallibilism presupposes the objectivity of truth.
Just as a fallibilist is not a truth-denier, a truth-affirmer is not an infallibilist or 'dogmatist' in one sense of this word. To maintain that there is objective truth is not to maintain that one is in possession of it. One of the sources of the view that truth is subjective or relative is aversion to dogmatic people and dogmatic claims.
One cannot be a liberal (in the good old sense!) without being tolerant, and thus a fallibilist, and if the latter, then an absolutist about truth, and hence not a PC-whipped leftist!
And now we notice a very interesting and important point. To be a liberal in the old sense (a paleo-liberal) is, first and foremost, to value toleration. Toleration is the touchstone of classical liberalism. (Morris Raphael Cohen) But why should we be tolerant of (some of) the beliefs and (some of) the behaviors of others? Because we cannot responsibly claim to know, with respect to certain topics, what is true and what ought to be done/left undone. Liberalism (in the good old sense!) requires toleration, and toleration requires fallibilism. But if we can go wrong, we can go right, and so fallibilism presupposes and thus entails the existence of objective truth. A good old liberal must be an absolutist about truth and hence cannot be a PC-whipped lefty.
Examples. Why tolerate atheists? Because we don't know that God exists. Why tolerate theists? Because we don't know that God does not exist. And so on through the entire range of Big Questions. But toleration has limits. Should we tolerate Muslim fanatics such as the Taliban or ISIS terrorists? Of course not. For they reject the very principle of toleration. That's an easy case. More difficult: should we tolerate public Holocaust denial via speeches and publications? Why should we? Why should we tolerate people who lie, blatantly, about matters of known fact and in so doing contribute to a climate in which Jews are more likely to be oppressed and murdered? Isn't the whole purpose of free speech to help us discover and disseminate the truth? How can the right to free speech be twisted into a right to lie? But there is a counter-argument to this, which is why this is not an easy case. I haven't the space to make the case.
Getting back to the radical Muslims who reject the very principle of toleration, they have a reason to reject it: they think they know the answers to the Big Questions that we in the West usually have the intellectual honesty to admit we do not know the answers to. Suppose Islam, or their interpretation thereof, really does provide all the correct answers to the Big Questions. They would then be justified in imposing their doctrine and way of life on us, and for our own eternal good. But they are epistemological primitives who are unaware of their own fallibility and the fallibility of their prophet and their Book and all the rest. The dogmatic and fanatical tendencies of religion in the West were chastened by the Greek philosophers and later by the philosophers of the Enlightenment. First Athens took Jerusalem to task, and then Koenigsberg did the same. Unfortunately, there has never been anything like an Enlightenment in the Islamic world; hence they know no check on their dogmatism and fanaticism.
Defending the university against leftists and Islamists
The university rests on two main pillars. One has inscribed on it these propositions: There is truth; we can know some of it; knowing truth contributes to human flourishing and is thus a value. The other pillar bears witness to the truth that we are fallible in our judgements. Two pillars, then: Absolute truth and Fallibilism. No liberal (good sense!) education without both.
The commitment to the existence of absolute truth is common to both pillars, and it is this common commitment that is attacked by both leftists and Islamists. It is clear how leftists attack it by trying to eliminate truth in favor of power. That this eliminativism is utterly incoherent and self-refuting doesn't bother these power freaks because they do not believe in or value truth, which is implied by any commitment to logical consistency, as argued above. (Of course, some are just unaware that they are inconsistent, and others are just evil.)
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.)
The subterranean link
Here is perhaps the deepest connection between the decidedly strange bedfellows, leftism and Islamism: both deny the absoluteness of truth and both make it subservient to power.
I caught a segment of Sean Hannity's show the other night during which a 'conversation' transpired over the recent spike in violence in Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. At 2:06, Adam Jackson, activist and CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, begins a rap replete with the usual leftist jargon: systemic inequality, structural racism, etc.
What struck me was Hannity's failure to deal with ideas at the level of ideas, in this instance, his failure to question the very idea of structural racism. That is what he should have done. He should have cut off the leftist rap with some pointed questions: Just what is this structural or systemic or institutional racism you leftists are always talking about? Care to define these phrases? Can you provide a nice clear example for the audience? Is it evidence of 'structural racism' that the enforcement of the law has a 'disparate impact' on blacks? And while you are at it, tell us what exactly racism is supposed to be. Is it racist for a white cop to enforce the law in a black community? How can you speak of institutional racism when the institutions of our society have been reformed so as to help blacks and other minorities in all sorts of ways via Affirmative Action, federally-mandated desegregation, and the like?
But Hannity posed none of these questions. Typical conservative that he is, he is not at home on the plane of ideas and abstractions where one must do battle with leftist obfuscation. Conservatives are often non-intellectual when they are not anti-intellectual. I am talking about conservatives 'in the trenches' of ordinary life and the mass media, not about conservative intellectuals who are intellectual enough but whose influence is limited. The ordinary conservative, uncomfortable with ideas, gravitates toward particulars, the actual facts of the Freddie Gray case, the Michael Brown case, the Trayvon Martin case. That is all to the good of course. When one considers what actually happened the night Michael Brown lost his life one sees that there was nothing racist, let alone structurally racist, about Officer Darren Wilson's behavior.
But it is not enough to bring the leftist back to the hard ground of actual fact; one must also puncture his ideological balloons. When the leftist starts gassing off about 'disparate impact,' you must rudely point out that blacks are disproportionately incarcerated because they disproportionately commit crimes. The 'disparate impact' of law enforcement is not evidence of racism 'structural' or otherwise; it is evidence of disproportionate criminality among blacks. Why won't leftists admit what is obvious? Because they labor under the conceit that we are all equal. Now here is a another Big Idea that your typical conservative is not equipped to discuss.
Another example of conservative cluelessness is Bill O'Reilly. He often points out that we live in a capitalist country. It's true, more or less. But citing a fact does not amount to a justification of the fact. What O'Reilly appears to be incapable of doing is providing arguments, including moral arguments, in favor of capitalism. That is what is needed in the face of libs and lefties who, when told that we live in a capitalist country, will respond, "Well then, let's change it!"
But having a nasty streak of anti-intellectualism in him, O'Reilly would probably dismiss such arguments as mere 'theory' in his Joe Sixpack sense of the term.
Conservatives, by and large, are doers not thinkers, builders, not scribblers. They are at home on the terra firma of the concrete particular but at sea in the realm of abstraction. The know in their dumb inarticulate way that killing infants is a moral outrage but they cannot argue it out with sophistication and nuance in a manner to command the respect of their opponents. And that's a serious problem.
They know that there is something deeply wrong with same-sex 'marriage,' but they cannot explain what it is. George W. Bush, a well-meaning, earnest fellow whose countenance puts me in mind of that of Alfred E. Neuman, could only get the length of: "Marriage is between a man and a woman."
That's right, but it is a bare assertion. Sometimes bare assertions are justified, but one must know how to counter those who consider them gratuitous assertions. What is gratuitously asserted may be gratuitously denied without breach of logical propriety, a maxim long enshrined in the Latin tag Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. So one reasonably demands arguments from those who make assertions. Arguments are supposed to move us beyond mere assertions and counter-assertions.
Could G. W. Bush present a reasoned defense of traditional marriage, or rather, just plain marriage, against the leftist innovators? If he could he never to my knowledge supplied any evidence that he could.
And then there is Romney. He lost to Obama in part because he could not articulate a compelling vision while Obama could. Obama, a feckless fool with no understanding of reality, and no desire to understand it, is a great bullshitter & blather-mouth who was able to sell his destructive leftist vision. Romney had nothing to counter him with. It it not enough to be in close contact with the hard particulars of gnarly reality; you have to be able to operate in the aether of ideas.
For a conservative there is a defeasible presumption in favor of traditional beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. The conservative is of course right in holding to this presumption. But if he is to prevail, he must know how to defend it against its enemies.
To beat the Left we must out-argue them in the ivory towers and out-slug them in the trenches. Since by Converse Clausewitz politics is war conducted by other means, the trench-fighters need to employ the same tactics that lefties do: slanders, lies, smears, name-calling, shout-downs, pie-throwing, mockery, derision. The good old Alinsky tactics. And now I hand off to Robert Spencer commenting on Andrew Breitbart.
Politics is war and war is ugly. We could avoid a lot of this nastiness if we adopted federalism and voluntary Balkanization. But that is not likely to happen: the totalitarian Left won't allow it. So I predict things are going to get hot in the coming years. The summer of 2015 should prove to be positively 'toasty' in major urban centers as the destructive ideas of the Left lead to ever more violence.
But liberal fools such as the aptronymically appellated Charles Blow will be safe in their upper-class enclaves.
When macro-aggression is no more, when wrongs have been righted and justice has been promoted and protected to the extent that it can be by government, it is then that leftists invent micro-aggression to keep themselves in business and assure themselves of an ever-expanding clientele of victims and losers.
I am reading an article on some arcane topic such as counterfactual conditionals when I encounter a ungrammatical use of 'they' to avoid the supposedly radioactive 'he.' I groan: not another PC-whipped leftist! I am distracted from the content of the article by the political correctness of the author. As I have said more than once, PC comes from the CP, and what commies, and leftists generally, attempt to do is to inject politics into every aspect of life. It is in keeping with their totalitarian agenda.
If you complain that I am injecting politics into this post, I will say that I am merely combating and undoing the mischief of leftists. It is analogous to nonviolent people using violence to defend themselves and their way of life against the violent. We conservatives who want the political kept in its place and who are temperamentally disinclined to be political activists must become somewhat active to undo the damage caused by leftist totalitarians.
By the way, there is nothing sexist about standard English; the view that it is is a leftist doctrine that one is free to reject. It is after all a debatable point. Do you really think that the question whether man is basically good is the question whether males are basically good? If you replace 'he' with 'she,' then you tacitly concede that both can be used gender-neutrally. But then what becomes of your objection to 'he'?
You are of course free to disagree with what I just wrote, and you are free to write as you please. I defend your right to free speech. Do you defend mine? I understand your point of view though I don't agree with it. I can oppose you without abusing you though I may abuse you from time to time to give you a tase taste of your own medicine should you abuse me. Call me a 'sexist' for using standard English and I may return the compliment by calling you a 'destructive PC-whipped leftist.'
It's all for your own good.
Here's a modest proposal. Let's view the whole thing as a free speech issue. Don't harass me for using standard English and I won't mock you for your silly innovations. We contemporary conservatives are tolerant. I fear that you contemporary liberals are not. Prove me wrong.
It's a funny world in which conservatives are the new liberals, and liberals are the new . . . .
This entry from over five years ago stands up well and is worth re-posting. Slightly improved, typos removed, infelicities smoothed. It originally saw the light of the 'sphere on 24 March 2010. As usual the MavPhil doctrine of abrogation is in effect: later posts abrogate earlier ones.
The qualifier 'conservative' borders on pleonasm: there is is scarcely any talk radio in the U.S. worth mentioning that is not conservative. This is part of the reason the Left hates the conservative variety so much. They hate it because of its content, and they hate it because they are incapable of competing with it: their own attempts such as Air America have failed miserably. And so, projecting their own hatred, they label conservative talk 'hate radio.'
In a 22 March op-ed piece in the NYT, Bob Herbert, commenting on the G.O.P., writes, "This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry."
I find that vile outburst fascinating. There is no insanity, hatred, or bigotry in any of the conservative talk jocks to whom I listen: Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager or Michael Medved. There is instead common sense, humanity, excellent advice, warnings against extremism, deep life wisdom, facts, arguments, and a reasonably high level of discourse. Of the six I have mentioned, Prager and Medved are the best, a fact reflected in their large audiences. Don't you liberals fancy yourselves open-minded? Then open your ears!
So what is it about Herbert and people of his ilk that causes them to react routinely in such delusional fashion?
It is a long story, of course, but part of it is that lefties confuse dissent with hate. They don't seem to realize that if I dissent from your view, it doesn't follow that I hate you. It's actually a double confusion. There is first the confusion of dissent with hate, and then the confusion of persons and propositions. If I dissent from your proposition, it does not follow that I hate your proposition; and a fortiori it doesn't follow that I hate the person who advances the proposition. This double confusion goes hand in hand with the strange notion that the Left owns dissent, which I duly refute in a substantial post.
I leave you with a quotation from David Horowitz, Left Illusions: An Intellectual Odyssey (Spence, 2003), p. 273, emphasis added:
The image of the right that the left has concocted -- authoritarian, reactionary, bigoted, mean-spirited -- is an absurd caricature that has no relation to modern conservatism or to the reality of the people I have come to know in my decade-long movement along the political spectrum -- or to the way I see myself. Except for a lunatic fringe, American conservatism is not about "blood and soil" nostalgia or conspiracy paranoia, which figure so largely in imaginations that call themselves "liberal," but are anything but. Modern American conservatism is a reform movement that seeks to reinvent free markets and limited government and to restore somewhat traditional values. Philosophically, conservatism is more accurately seen as a species of liberalism itself -- and would be more often described in this way were it not for the hegemony the left exerts in the political culture and its appropriation of the term "liberal" to obscure its radical agenda.
One more thing. You can see from Herbert's picture that he is black. So now I will be called a racist for exposing his outburst. That is right out of the Left's playbook: if a conservative disagrees with you on any issue, or proffers any sort of criticism, then you heap abuse on him. He's a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a 'homophobe,' a bigot, a religious zealot . . . .