I've been asking myself a question these last years. Why did we expend so much treasure to defeat the Evil Empire, the USSR? To become another, albeit lesser, evil empire, the United Socialist States of America?
From a piece both pithy and penetrating by David P. Goldman (HT: Bill Keezer):
There has been considerable hand-wringing during the past few years about “lack of diversity” in the eight public high schools [of NYC] that require written exams. Asians are 14% of the public school population, but 50% of the elite high school population (the same proportion applies to Hunter College’s free public high school). By and large the Asian entrants are the children of working-class immigrants who pay extra tuition to prepare them for the entrance exams.
The NAACP has filed a complaint against the school system demanding racial quotas. The same concern for those “left behind” motivated the open admissions program in the City University system in 1969, which nearly ruined the system until CUNY found a way to shunt the underperformers into the community college system. (See chart at bottom of page.)
The above clearly illustrates what is so deeply wrong with the liberal-left way of thinking. It is true that Asians are disproportionately represented in the best NYC high schools. But this is not anything that needs remedying. It simply reflects the fact that Asians, as a group, have different values than blacks, better study habits, and are of higher intelligence. Notice, I said as a group. That's reality. But leftists are here as elsewhere in the business of reality denial. Leftists confuse the world with the way they would like the world to be. But things are as they are regardless of human hopes and dreams and desires.
Some inequalities have come about through wrongs that ought to have been righted, and have been righted. But the inequality of Asians and blacks as regards values and study habits and intelligence has not come about though any wrongdoing. Slavery was outlawed almost 150 years ago when the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution was ratified on 6 December 1865. Jim Crow was outlawed almost 50 years ago. There is no de jure racism in the U. S. and very little de facto racism. The 'overrepresentation' of Asians is the predictable outcome of the differences between Asian and black culture, values, and innate intelligence.
By the way, one ought to be very careful with the word 'overrepresent' and its opposite. It is ambiguous as between normative and nonnormative readings. It is just a value-neutral fact that there are proportionately more Asians than blacks in the elite high schools of NYC. But it doesn't follow that this state of affairs is one that ought not be, or that it would be better if there were proportional representation.
Consider the sports analogy. Asians are 'underrepresented' on basketball teams. That is a fact. But it doesn't follow that this state of affairs is one that ought not
be, or that it would be better if there were proportional
representation. Enforced proportional representation would adversely affect the quality of basketball games.
Since we are now back to the delightful and heart-warming topic of race/ ethnicity, let's talk about Jews. They are 'overrepresented' in the chess world so much so that there is much truth to the old joke that chess is Jewish athletics. Should the government do something about this 'problem'? (This is what is called a rhetorical question.)
I once told my Jewish and Israeli friend Peter that I had never met a stupid Jew. He shot back, "Then you've never lived in Israel." The very alacrity of his comeback, however, proved (or at least provided further evidence for) my point.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I am not now, and never have been, either an Asian or a Jew or an Israeli.
Too many conservative commentators are focusing on the inessential and the peripheral. Yes, Obama is a brazen liar, a bullshitter, and a consummate Orwellian abuser of the English language. He lied when he said that those who like their plans can keep their plans, and it is obvious why he lied: the ACA probably would not have gotten through otherwise. But the important issue is not Obama and his mendacity. It is not about Obama, which is also why it is perfectly lame, besides being slanderous, for the scumbaggers on the Left to accuse opponents of the ACA of racism. The fundamental issue is the assault on individual liberty and the totalitarian expansion of the state. That assault and this expansion don't have a skin color, white, black, or mulatto.
Mark Steyn got it right back in 2009 in an NRO piece that is no longer available. (Damn you, NRO! Links to high-quality content ought to be permalinks.) Excerpts
. . . [nationalized] health
care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. That’s
its attraction for an ambitious president: It redefines the relationship between
the citizen and the state in a way that hands all the advantages to statists —
to those who believe government has a legitimate right to regulate human affairs
in every particular. [. . .]
It’s often argued that, as a
proportion of GDP, America spends more on health care than countries with
government medical systems. But, as a point of fact, “America” doesn’t
spend anything on health care: Hundreds of millions of people make hundreds of
millions of individual decisions about what they’re going to spend on health
care. Whereas up north a handful of bureaucrats determine what Canada
will spend on health care — and that’s that: Health care is a government budget
item. [. . .]
How did the health-care debate
decay to the point where we think it entirely natural for the central government
to fix a collective figure for what 300 million freeborn citizens ought to be
spending on something as basic to individual liberty as their own
Are you willing to
sell your birthright, liberty, for a mess of pottage? That's the issue.
Liberals are a strange breed of cat. They'll puke their guts out in defense of
their 'right' to abortion and their 'right' to violate every norm of decency in
pursuit of the 'artistic' expression of their precious and vacuous selves, but
when it comes to the right to be in control of the sorts of care their bodies
receive they reverse course and surrender their liberties.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of debt, I fear no bankruptcy, for Obama is my shepherd. He prepareth a table of food stamps before me, and maketh me lie down beside waters He hath cleansed and seas He hath made recede, even though the bad Republicans wisheth the earth to be burnt unto a cinder, and will not buy the electric car that is good, for it hath zero emissions, and receiveth its power from a power plant, which hath not zero emissions, but the ways of the President are mysterious.
He hath told the stubborn Israelites, evil builders of apartments, that they know not their own interests and He does, and know not what they do, when they fear the nuclear weapon of the Persians. The ways of the President are mysterious. He alloweth the Persians to get the nuclear weapon (unless He hath something up His sleeve), for He knoweth that when they behold Him they will stay their hand, and not burn the Israelites unto a cinder, as they pronounce.
Robert Paul Wolff has an answer for us. Ready? The bolding is Wolff's own and is twice-repeated:
Because Obama is Black.
Is Professor Wolff serious? I'm afraid he is. But given that the man is neither stupid nor the usual sort of left-wing moral scumbag, how could he be serious? What explains a view so plainly delusional? How account for an emotion-driven mere dismissal of the conservative position the arguments for which he will not examine? How is it that a professional philosopher, indeed a very good one, can engage in such puerile ad hominem psychologizing? Wolff himself provides an answer in a later post:
My knowledge of the beliefs and sentiments of those on the right is based entirely on things I have read or have seen on television. I have never had a conversation with a committed right-wing opponent of the Affordable Care Act, nor have I even, to the best of my knowledge, met one. You would be quite correct in inferring that I live in a left-wing bubble [called Chapel Hill -- before that, I lived in a left-wing bubble called Amherst, MA, and before that I lived in the right wing bubbles called Morningside Heights, Hyde Park, and Cambridge.] If this strikes you as disqualifying my from having an opinion, you are free to ignore the rest of this post.
First of all, what is doublethink? We turn to George Orwell's 1984 and the following quotation therefrom reproduced in Wikipedia:
The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
This official website is an excellent contemporary example of doublethink, from the State of Idaho, of all places. (One expects PeeCee doublethink and newspeak in the People's Republic of Taxachusetts and in the once Golden State of Californication, but in Idaho, with all its Mormons and gun-totin' conservatives? Holy moly, things are worse than I thought.) At the State of Idaho website we read:
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's Self Reliance Office 6/2010
What is the Self Reliance office?
The Self Reliance office is the portion of Idaho Health and Welfare where people can apply for state funded public assistance.
This is what we call an 'Orwellian' use of language. It is language perverted and destroyed so as to serve leftist ideology and make clear thinking impossible. Accordingly, one who accepts welfare via the State from productive citizens is 'self-reliant,' when in truth he is the exact opposite.
Black is white, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and reliance on others is self-reliance.
Limited government is anarchism.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness = ObamaCare. (Idiot Pelosi accurately paraphrased.)
Fiscal responsibility = fiscal irresponsibility.
Semi-automatic rifle = fully- automatic rifle.
Semi-automatic rifle used purely defensively = assault weapon.
Constitutionally-mandated border control = xenophobia.
ID requirement at polling place = disenfranchisement.
Critic of a black person's ideas = racist.
And so on. Continue the list and resolve to do your bit to resist and oppose the liberal-left scumbaggers. It is your life, liberty and happiness that are at stake.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, officials at Weber Middle School in Port Washington are worried that students are getting hurt during recess. Thus, they have instituted a ban on footballs, baseballs, lacrosse balls, or anything that might hurt someone on school grounds.
If you don't see this absurdity within the context of Right-Left struggle, you won't understand it. It is of a piece with the general wussification and infantilization of the populace promoted by leftists, the active promotion of food stamp dependency being a prime example.
you know, they are not called Food Stamps anymore. The program has been given the snappy
new label, at once both a euphemism and an acronym, SNAP: Supplemental
Nutritional Assistance Program. And it is actively promoted.
Liberals will call it part of the social
safety net. That metaphor suggests something to keep one from falling to one's
death. But it is also a net in the sense of a fishing net, a device that
entraps and deprives of liberty. But liberals ignore this aspect of their
favorite programs. For self-reliance and the nanny state don't go
together. Since the nanny state serves the interests of liberals,
self-reliance has to be diminished. Part of the motivation of the liberal is
to help the needy. But another part is the lust for power which, to be
retained, requires plenty of clients, plenty of dependents who can be relied
upon to vote Democrat, thereby voting goodies for themselves in the short term--
and the long-term fiscal and moral solvency of the nation be damned.
opposed to all social welfare programs? No. There are those who truly need help
and cannot be helped by private charities. But I am opposed to the current,
utterly irresponsible expansion of the welfare state, and for two reasons. One
is economic: the expansion is unsustainable. The other is moral: it diminishes
and degrades and infantilizes people. "The bigger the government, the smaller
the citizen." (D. Prager)
For Dworkin, the meaning of religion consists in “two central judgments about value” that he believes religious people -- theists and some atheists -- regard as objectively true. First, “each person has an innate and inescapable responsibility to try to make his life a successful one: that means living well, accepting ethical responsibilities to oneself as well as moral responsibilities to others, not just if we happen to think this important but because it is in itself important whether we think so or not.” Second, “what we call ‘nature’ -- the universe as a whole and in all its parts -- is not just a matter of fact but is itself sublime: something of intrinsic value and wonder.”
If this is what Dworkin maintains, then his characterization of religion leaves a lot to be desired, to put it mildly. This is obviously NOT what the meaning of religion consists in on any adequate understanding of religion. Religion cannot be reduced to axiology. True, the religious will accept that there are objective values and disvalues. But such acceptance, even if necessary for being religious, is not sufficient.
All or most of the following are beliefs essential to anything that can be legitimately called a religion:
The belief that there is what William James calls an "unseen order."
(Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 53) This is a realm of absolute
reality that lies beyond the perception of the five outer senses and their
instrumental extensions. It is also inaccessible to inner sense or
introspection. It is also not a realm of mere abstracta or thought-contents.
So it lies beyond the discursive intellect. It is accessible from our side via
mystical and religious experience. An initiative from its side is not to be
ruled out in the form of revelation.
The belief that there is a supreme good for humans and that "our supreme good
lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves" to the "unseen order."
(Varieties, p. 53)
The conviction that we are morally deficient, and that this deficiency impedes
our adjustment to the unseen order. Man is in some some sense fallen from the
moral height at which he would have ready access to the unseen order. His moral
corruption, however it came about, has noetic consequences.
The conviction that our moral deficiency cannot be made sufficiently good by
our own efforts to afford us ready access to the unseen order.
The conviction that adjustment to the unseen order requires moral
The conviction that help from the side of the unseen order is available to bring
about this purification and adjustment.
The conviction that the sensible order is not plenary in point of reality or
value, that it is ontologically and axiologically derivative. It is a
manifestation or emanation or creation of the unseen order.
In a word, Dworkin's characterization leaves out Transcendence; it leaves out what is absolutely central to religion, namely, the conviction that there is a transcendent dimension, an "unseen order," (see #1 supra) and that adjustment to this order is essential to human flourishing (see #2 supra).
What Dworkin has delivered is a miserable leftist substitute for religion. Being a leftist, he of course cannot value or perhaps even understand the genuine article; but he at least could have had the intellectual honesty not to try to redefine something whose definition is tolerably clear. Berkowitz has it right:
. . . Dworkin redefines religion to conform to his progressive sensibilities. What he presents as the offering of an olive branch to believers may seem to a person of faith, with justice, as a hostile takeover attempt. The steps by which Dworkin appropriates the religious label for his own left-liberal and atheistic outlook provide a case study in how the progressive mind, under the guise of conciliation, seeks to command the moral high ground exclusively and discredit that which differs from it.
"Hostile takeover" is right. Berkowitz also perceptively notes that
Dworkin also overlooks a formidable problem latent in his sanctification of the progressive perspective. If progressivism counts as a religion, then enacting the left-liberal policy agenda would seem to represent an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment.
But of course progressivism is not a religion, but an anti-religious political ideology. Nevertheless, one can and must ask: if it is wrong for the State to impose religion on its citizens, why isn't it also wrong for the State to impose leftist ideology on its citizens as it now doing here in the USA?
Long-time reader Tony Hanson perceptively notes a contradiction in the Obama administration's attitude toward their poor minority clients:
As I read about the complexity and nightmares (or as Obama prefers, glitches) of the ACA [Affordable Care Act] marketplace roll out today, I am reminded of your posts on Voter ID. Apparently the condescension of Obama and the Dems is very selective. They think requiring poor minorities to have the wherewithal to accomplish the relatively simple task of securing an ID card is just too difficult a task for them and therefore discriminatory; at the same time the success of the new healthcare law requires them to navigate (using a computer and internet connection mostly) a rather complex system of web sites, information and rules.
And while the Feds will spend millions upon millions to provide them help, it apparently cannot provide a tiny fraction of this amount to help them get IDs (if in fact they really need this help) and thereby secure the integrity of the voting system and democracy itself.
'Selective condescension' is an apt phrase. Blacks and other minorities are thought to be too bereft of basic life skills to secure government-issued photo ID, which is free in many states, but are nonetheless expected to be computer-savvy enough to sign up for ObamaCare. But if this contradiction were pointed out to Obama or the liberals that support him, it wouldn't faze them in the least. For they care about logical consistency as little as they care about truth. For a leftist it's all about power and nothing else. They have no bourgeois scruples about truth or the rule of law. The end justifies the means.
The plain truth of the matter is that Dems oppose photo ID because they want to make polling places safe for voter fraud. This is a harsh allegation but one that is perfectly justified given the utter worthlessness of the 'arguments' brought forth against photo ID. But I have said enough about this depressing topic in ealier posts, some of which are listed below.
If one has demonstrated that one's opponent's arguments are worthless, it is legitimate to psychologize him. For motives abound where reasons are nonexistent.
I have been following your blog for years, and continue to enjoy it immensely. [I've also had the opportunity to read several of your printed works in the field, which I found to be excellent - your article on states of affairs was particularly outstanding.]
I've nothing in particular to offer, other than two anecdotes that I think you'll find amusing:
(1) I met a bona fide, genuine Marxist-Trotskyist the other day. Not much more than a boy, alas, though he had drunk the Kool-Aid in toto, e.g., dialectical materialism, Trotsky a genius, all information is propaganda, etc., etc. I engaged him for some time just for shits and giggles, until the point at which he tried to (seriously) compare slavery to the position of "the woman" within the domestic family. His view, of course, was ridiculous, backed by the flimsiest of slogans. When it became apparent that he was making little sense, he backed off by saying something to the following effect: "Well, clearly two WHITE MEN need not even be discussing this issue..." Whereupon, I was pleased to recall the Maverick Philosopher, and replied (to a slackened jaw, no less): "My friend, arguments do not have testicles."
Beautiful. (On a similar note, I took your advice a few months back and read TROTSKY: DOWNFALL OF A REVOLUTIONARY by B. Patenaude - one helluva' read.)
(2) Not so long ago, I turned a very close friend of mine - one who shares my philosophical, political and religious predilections and who teaches in the Philosophy Dept. at a private school - onto your blog. He and I occasionally swap emails concerning the content, but the following comment from him (made in relation to, I believe, the Trayvon Martin debacle) I simply had to share with you:
"If it were possible to baptize the Maverick Philosopher as my uncle, I would pay to do so."
The Left is dangerous for a number of reasons with its disregard for truth being high on the list. For the Left it is the 'narrative' that counts, the 'script,' the 'story,' whether true of false, that supports their agenda. An agenda is a list of things to do, and for an activist, Lenin's question, What is to be done? trumps the question, What is the case? Paraphrasing Karl Marx's 11th Thesis on Feuerbach, the point for a leftist is to change the world, not understand it. See here: "Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert, es kömmt drauf an, sie zu verändern." "The philosophers have only variously interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it." (my trans.)
The leftist's aim is the realization of 'progressive' ideals, and if the truth stands in the way, then so much the worse for it. Inconvenient truths are not confronted and subjected to examination; their messengers are attacked and denounced.
So when Larry Summers, then the president of Harvard University, speculated in 2005 that women might be naturally less gifted in math and science, the intense backlash contributed to his ouster.
Two years later, when famed scientist James Watson noted the low average IQ scores of sub-Saharan Africans, he was forced to resign from his lab, taking his Nobel Prize with him.
When a Harvard law student was discovered in 2010 to have suggestedin a private email that the black-white IQ gap might have a genetic component, the dean publicly condemned her amid a campus-wide outcry. Only profuse apologies seem to have saved her career.
When a leftist looks at the world, he does not see it as it is, but as he wants it to be. He sees it through the distorting lenses of his ideals. A central ideal for leftists is equality. And not in any such merely formal sense as equality under the law or equality of opportunity. The leftist aims at material equality: equality of outcome both socially and economically, equality in point of power and pelf. But the leftist goes beyond even this. He thinks that no inequalities are natural, and therefore that any inequalities that manifest themselves must be due to some form of oppression or 'racism.' But because this is demonstrably false, the leftist must demonize the messengers of such politically incorrect messages or even suggestions as that the black-white IQ gap might have a genetic component.
This truth-indifferent and reality-denying attitude of the leftist leaves the conservative dumbfounded. For he stands on the terra firma of a reality logically and ontologically and epistemologically antecedent to anyone's wishes and hopes and dreams. For the conservative, it is self-evident that first we have to get the world right, understand it, before any truly ameliorative praxis can commence. It is not that the conservative lacks ideals; it is rather that he believes, rightly, that they must be grounded in what is possible, where the really possible, in turn, is grounded in what is actual. (See Can What is Impossible for Us to Achieve be an Ideal for Us?) And so the conservative might reply to the activist, parodying Marx, as follows:
You lefties have only variously screwed up the world; the point, however, is to understand it so that you don't screw it up any further.
There is a paradox at the heart of the radically egalitarian position of the leftist. He wants equality, and will do anything to enforce it, including denying the truth (and in consequence reality) and violating the liberties of individuals. But to enforce equality he must possess and retain power vastly unequal to the power of those he would 'equalize.' He must go totalitarian. But then the quest for liberation ends in enslavement. This paradox is explained in Money, Power, and Equality.
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.
Now blacks have shown themselves to be absurdly sensitive to the imagined slights embedded in such words and phrases as 'niggardly,' 'black hole,' and 'watermelon.' But Asians too?
Why not take offense at 'chunk'? Someone might get it into his PeeCee 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.
Mayor Bloomberg has been slapped down by the courts once again. So not all news is bad. Malcolm Pollack in "Sugar Daddy" gets it exactly right:
The issue here is personal responsibility. Implicit in this ban is the idea that it is the proper role of the State to intervene in the choices of its citizens when the citizens themselves cannot be trusted to choose wisely. But this is nothing more or less than the State assuming the relation of a parent to a child. If it is indeed the case that certain of our citizens are so incapable of adult judgment that they must be treated as children in this regard, then for consistency’s sake they ought to be assumed to be children in other respects as well, and declared wards of the State: incompetent to vote, to enter into contractual obligations, or to assume the other rights and privileges of adulthood. [. . .]
Say 'no' to the food fascists and oppose these nanny-stating nicompoops every chance you get. The liberty you save may be your own. You many not care about sugary sodas, but there may be something you do care about, peanuts, say. "When they came for the soda, I didn't care because I didn't drink the stuff; when they came for the red meat I did nothing, being a vegetarian . . . ." You know how the rest of it should go.
"No man speaketh safely but he that is glad to hold his peace. " (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, Chapter XX.)
Excellent advice for Christian and non-Christian alike. Much misery and misfortune can be avoided by simply keeping one's mouth shut. That playful banter with your female student that you could not resist indulging in -- she construed it as sexual harrassment. You were sitting on top of the world, but now you are in a world of trouble. In this Age of Political Correctness examples are legion. To be on the safe side, a good rule of thumb is: If your speech can be misconstrued, it will be. Did you really need to make that comment, or fire off that e-mail, or send that picture of your marvellous nether endowment to a woman not your wife?
Part of the problem is Political Correctness, but another part is that people are not brought up to exercise self-control in thought, word, and deed. Both problems can be plausibly blamed on liberals. Paradoxically enough, the contemporary liberal promotes speech codes and taboos while at the same time promoting an absurd tolerance of every sort of bad behavior. The liberal 'educator' dare not tell the black kid to pull his pants up lest he be accused of a racist 'dissing' of the punk's 'culture.'
You need to give your children moral lessons and send them to schools where they will receive them. My mind drifts back to the fourth or fifth grade and the time a nun planted an image in my mind that remains. She likened the tongue to a sword capable of great damage, positioned behind two 'gates,' the teeth and the lips. Those gates are there for a reason, she explained, and the sword should come out only when it can be well deployed.
The good nun did not extend the image to the sword of flesh hanging between a man's legs. But I will. Keep your 'sword' behind the 'gates' of your pants and your undershorts until such time as it can be brought out for a good purpose.
It is a bit of a paradox: so-called 'progressives,' i.e., leftists, who routinely accuse conservatives of wanting to 'turn back the clock,' are doing precisely that on the question of race relations. They yearn for the bad old Jim Crow days of the 1950s and '60s when they had truth and right on their side and the conservatives of those days were either wrong or silent or simply uncaring. Those great civil rights battles were fought and they were won, in no small measure due to the help of whites. Necessary reforms were made. But then things changed and the civil rights movement became a hustle to be exploited for fame and profit and power by the likes of the race-baiters Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
The purpose of today's civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still, in a thousand subtle ways, victimized by white racism. This idea of victimization is an example of what I call a "poetic truth." Like poetic license, it bends the actual truth in order to put forward a larger and more essential truth—one that, of course, serves one's cause. Poetic truths succeed by casting themselves as perfectly obvious: "America is a racist nation"; "the immigration debate is driven by racism"; "Zimmerman racially stereotyped Trayvon." And we say, "Yes, of course," lest we seem to be racist. Poetic truths work by moral intimidation, not reason.
In the Zimmerman/Martin case the civil-rights establishment is fighting for the poetic truth that white animus toward blacks is still such that a black teenager—Skittles and ice tea in hand—can be shot dead simply for walking home. But actually this establishment is fighting to maintain its authority to wield poetic truth—the authority to tell the larger society how it must think about blacks, how it must respond to them, what it owes them and, then, to brook no argument.
Two comments. First, pace Steele, what he is calling a "larger and more essential truth" is better described as a brazen lie. Second, the iced tea and Skittles that the 'child' Trayvon was carrying were presumably to be added to Robitussin to concoct a drug variously known as Purple Drank, Lean, and Sizzurp. See here:
Trayvon, with his hoodie up, grabs two items from the shelves of 7-11. One is the Skittles. The other is Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. The media avoid the name of the real drink -- possibly because of the racial implications of the word "watermelon," but possibly to avoid probing the real reason for Trayon's trip.
Trayvon, in fact, had become a devotee of the druggy concoction known as "Lean," also known in southern hip-hop culture as "Sizzurp" and "Purple Drank." Lean consists of three basic ingredients -- codeine, a soft drink, and candy. If his Facebook postings are to be believed, Trayvon had been using Lean since at least June 2011.
On June 27, 2011, Trayvon asks a friend online, "unow a connect for codien?" He tells the friend that "robitussin nd soda" could make "some fire ass lean." He says, "I had it before" and that he wants "to make some more." On the night of February 26, if Brandy had some Robitussin at home, Trayvon had just bought the mixings for one "fire ass lean" cocktail.
Here is yet another example of leftist lunacy from the editors of The Nation:
The real problem is not that jurors were willing to accord Zimmerman the presumption of innocence—a bedrock of our justice system. It is that Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was never accorded the same presumption—and that so many defendants who look like him are denied this right every day.
This is just breathtakingly idiotic. First of all, it is not up to the jurors to will or not to will to accord the accused the presumption of innocence. It is required that they do so. It is one of the constitutive rules of our legal system that in a criminal proceeding such as a murder trial the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Being a constitutive rule, the presumption of innocence is not something jurors have any say about.
Second, it is the accused who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, not the victim. For it is the accused who is on trial. Zimmerman was on trial, and he was accorded the (defeasible) presumption of innocence, a presumption that was not defeated. Hence he was exonerated. Martin was not on trial, hence presumption of innocence did not come into play in his case.
Third, Martin was not the defendant in the case; Zimmerman was the defendant.
Fourth, Martin's being an unarmed teenager is irrelevant to the question whether Zimmerman acted lawfully in shooting Martin. The aptronymically appellated Charles Blow opined in a similarly moronic manner when he mentioned the 'disproportionality' of armament as between Martin and Zimmerman. Again, utterly irrelevant.
So there's the Left for you: willful stupidity, verbal obfuscation, lies, agitprop.
Addendum: Chad McIntosh, upon reading the above Nation quotation, subsumed it under what he calls the Madman Fallacy.
Robert Paul Wolff here vents "a rage that can find no appropriate expression" over "The judicially sanctioned murder of Trayvon Martin . . . ."
"Meanwhile, Zimmerman's gun will be returned to him. He would have suffered more severe punishment if he had run over a white person's dog."
What fascinates me is the depth of the disagreement between a leftist like Wolff and a conservative like me. A judicially sanctioned murder? Not at all. A clear case of self-defense, having nothing objectively to do with race, as I have made clear in earlier posts. And please note that "Stand Your Ground" was no part of the defense. The defense was a standard 'self defense' defense. Anyone who is not a leftist loon or a black race-hustler and who knows the facts and the law and followed the trial can see that George Zimmerman was justly acquitted.
Wolff ought to be proud of a judicial system that permits a fair trial in these politically correct times. But instead he is in a rage. What would be outrageous would have been a 'guilty' verdict.
Was the blogger at Philosopher's Stone a stoned philosopher when he wrote the above nonsense? I am afraid not. And that is what is deeply disturbing and yet fascinating. What explains such insanity in a man who can write books as good as The Autonomy of Reason and In Defense of Anarchism?
Does the good professor have a problem with Zimmerman's gun being returned to him after he has been cleared of all charges? Apparently. But why? It's his property. But then Wolff is a Marxist . . . .
It is sad to see how many fine minds have been destroyed by the drug of leftism.
One of my persistent themes is that conservatives must not talk like liberals, thereby acquiescing in the linguistic hijacking that liberals routinely practice, and putting themselves at a disadvantage in the process. Conservatives must insist on standard English and refuse to validate the Left's question-begging epithets. Only the foolish conservative repeats such words and phrases as 'homophobe,' 'Islamophobe,' and 'social justice.'
For example, if you employ 'homophobe' and cognates, then you are acquiescing in the false notion that opposition to homosexual practices (which is consistent with respecting homosexual people) is grounded in an irrational fear, when the opposition is not based in fear, let alone in an irrational fear.
So I was slightly annoyed to see that Peter Wehner in a recent otherwise excellent Commentary piece used 'racial profiling.' I've heard other conservatives use it as well.
As I argued yesterday, there is no such thing as racial profiling. Now I add the following.
Why say that Trayvon Martin was racially profiled by Zimmerman when you could just as well say that he was gender profiled or age profiled or behavior profiled? Old black females walking down the street are not a problem. But young black males cutting across yards peering into windows can be a big problem.
Zimmerman profiled Martin for sure, and he was justified in doing so. We all profile all the time. But he didn't racially profile him any more than he age or gender or behaviorally or sartorially profiled him. (Martin wore a 'hoodie' and he had the hood pulled up thereby hiding part of his face.)
As I said yesterday,
Race is an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. A profile cannot consist of just one characteristic. I can profile you, but it makes no sense racially to profile you. Apparel is an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. I can profile you, but it makes no sense sartorially to profile you.
[. . .]
There is no such thing as racial profiling. The phrase is pure obfuscation manufactured by liberals to forward their destructive agenda. The leftist script requires that race be injected into everything. Hence 'profiling' becomes 'racial profiling.' If you are a conservative and you use the phrase, you are foolish, as foolish as if you were to use the phrase 'social justice.' Social justice is not justice. But that's a separate post.
One of the tactics of leftists is to manipulate and misuse language for their own purposes. Thus they make up words and phrases and hijack existing ones. 'Racial profiling' is an example of the former. It is a meaningless phrase apart from its use as a semantic bludgeon. Race is an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. A profile cannot consist of just one characteristic. I can profile you, but it makes no sense racially to profile you. Apparel is an element in a profile; it cannot be a profile. I can profile you, but it makes no sense sartorially to profile you.
Let's think about this.
I profile you if I subsume you under a profile. A profile is a list of several descriptors. You fit the profile if you satisfy all or most of the descriptors. Here is an example of a profile:
1. Race: black 2. Age: 16-21 years 3. Sex: male 4. Apparel: wearing a hoodie, with the hood pulled up over the head 5. Demeanor: sullen, alienated 6. Behavior: walking aimlessly, trespassing, cutting across yards, looking into windows and garages, hostile and disrespectful when questioned; uses racial epithets such as 'creepy-assed cracker.' 7. Physical condition: robust, muscular 8. Location: place where numerous burglaries and home invasions had occurred, the perpetrators being black 9. Resident status: not a resident.
Now suppose I spot someone who fits the above profile. Would I have reason to be suspicious of him? Of course. But that's not my point. My point is that I have not racially profiled the individual; I have profiled him, with race being one element in the profile.
Blacks are more criminally prone than whites.* But that fact means little by itself. It becomes important only in conjunction with the other characteristics. An 80-year-old black female is no threat to anyone. But someone who fits all or most of the above descriptors is someone I am justified in being suspicious of.
There is no such thing as racial profiling. The phrase is pure obfuscation manufactured by liberals to forward their destructive agenda. The leftist script requires that race be injected into everything. Hence 'profiling' becomes 'racial profiling.' If you are a conservative and you use the phrase, you are foolish, as foolish as if you were to use the phrase 'social justice.' Social justice is not justice. But that's a separate post.
Addendum. There is also the liberal-left tendency to drop qualifiers. Thus 'male' in 'male chauvinism' is dropped, and 'chauvinism' comes to mean male chauvinism, which is precisely what it doesn't mean. So one can expect the following to happen. 'Racial' in 'racial profiling' will be dropped, and 'profiling' will come to mean racial profiling, which, in reality, means nothing.
Any candid debate on race and criminality in this country would have to start with the fact that blacks commit an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes. African-Americans constitute about 13% of the population, yet between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the U.S. The black arrest rate for most offenses—including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes—is typically two to three times their representation in the population. [. . .]
"High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination," wrote the late Harvard Law professor William Stuntz in "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice." "The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans—and of African American control of city governments."
The significance of the Zimmerman trial is that it is emblematic of the deep and ever-deepening racial divide in this country despite the successes of the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s and the increasing participation of blacks in all institutions of our society, a participation culminating in the election of a black president in 2008 and his re-election in 2012. Deeper than the racial divide, however, is the left-right divide with the latter fueling the former. I call it 'planetary' because it is as if conservatives and leftists have no common ground and inhabit different planets.
Let's look at two examples.
On Sunday morning, in a short post entitled Justice Denied, Robert Paul Wolff writes, "I awoke this morning to learn that the Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman. Is there anyone on the face of the earth who believes that, had the race of Zimmerman and Martin been reversed, the verdict would have been the same?"
Despite the foolishness of what he posted on Sunday morning, Professor Wolff is not some two-bit cyberpunk with a blog. I used to have a high opinion of him, on the basis of two books of his I read. One of them is The Autonomy of Reason: A Commentary on Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Harper & Row, 1973). The flyleaf of my copy bears the annotation, "I first read this book in the fall of 1980. It is an excellent study!" I was teaching a graduate seminar on Kant and found Wolff's book extremely useful. The other book I have read is his In Defense of Anarchism which I also found impressive. In November of 2009 I wrote three long entries about the anarchism book. They can be found in my Anarchism category.
Now in what sense was justice denied? The state's case against Zimmerman was so weak as to be nonexistent. So justice was served by his acquittal. Had Zimmerman been found guilty of second-degree murder, that would have been the height of injustice. That ought to be perfectly obvious to anyone who followed the trial. So justice was not denied to Zimmerman. He was justly treated.
If Wolff means anything, he means that justice was denied to Trayvon Martin. But if that is what he means, then he doesn't understand the purpose of a criminal trial. The purpose of a criminal proceeding is not to secure justice for the victim. If that were the purpose, then every defendant would have to be found guilty. For in every acquittal there is no justice for the victim, or victims as in the O. J. Simpson case.
A criminal trial can issue in the correct result whether or not justice is achieved for the victim. If the correct result is an acquittal, then of course there is no justice for the victim in that trial. But if the correct result is a conviction, then there is, per accidens, justice for the victim in that trial. The main point, however, is that a criminal trial is not about seeking justice for the victim, but about making sure that the accused is not wrongly convicted.
The glory of our system of justice is the (defeasible) presumption of innocence: the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This presumption of innocence puts the burden of proof in a criminal trial where it belongs, on the state. The prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; the defense is under no obligation to prove that the defendant is innocent. In a criminal proceeding all the defense has to do is raise a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused.
It is of course deeply unfortunate that Trayvon Martin died young of a gunshot wound. But he brought about that result himself by recklessly attacking a man who then, naturally, defended himself against Martin's deadly attack using deadly force. Zimmerman did nothing legally impermissible.
I wonder if Wolff thinks that Martin would have received justice if Zimmerman had been wrongly convicted. I hope not. Again, the crucial point here is that the purpose of a murder trial is not to secure justice for the victim, but to see if the accused is first of all a killer, and then whether he is a murderer. There is no doubt that Zimmerman killed Martin. The question is whether or not the killing was legally justifiable. And indeed it was found to be legally justifiable.
If Zimmerman had been black and Martin Hispanic would the verdict have been the same? Yes. Why not? O. J. Simpson is black and the two people he slaughtered (Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson) were white, and yet O. J. was acquitted.
My second example is Roger L. Simon. He thinks, as I do, that Zimmerman should never have been charged. But he goes a step further when he writes:
Congratulations to the jury for not acceding to this tremendous pressure and delivering the only conceivable honest verdict. This case should never have been brought to trial. It was, quite literally, the first American Stalinist “show trial.” There was, virtually, no evidence to convict George Zimmerman. It was a great day for justice that this travesty was finally brought to a halt.
We all know Al Sharpton, the execrable race baiter of Tawana Brawley and Crown Heights, agitated publicly for this trial more than anyone else. But he most likely would not have succeeded had it not been for Obama’s tacit support. As far as I know this is unprecedented in our history (a president involving himself in a trial of this nature).
Looks like we have a nice little 'conversation' about race going here. Too bad the conversants live on different planets.
Liberals support separation of church and state, and so do I. But they have no problem with using the coercive power of the state to impose leftist ideology. Now leftism is not a religion, pace Dennis Prager (see article below), but it is very much like one, and if you can see what is wrong with allowing contentious theological doctrines to drive politics, then you ought to be able to see what is wrong with allowing the highly contentious ideological commitments of leftism to drive politics, most of which revolve around the leftist trinity (Prager) of race, gender, and class. If "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ," as per the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, then it ought to make no law that establishes the quasi-religion of leftism.
This is a large topic, and I have a substantial post in the works. But for today, just one example of what I am getting at.
It is a tenet of contemporary liberalism that opposition to same-sex 'marriage' is 'discriminatory' and that opponents of it are 'bigots.' Now this is both obtuse and slanderous. But liberals have a right to their opinions, even if it is to be wished that they would give some thought to the corresponding obligation to form correct opinions. Be that as it may, liberals have a right to their benighted views, and we ought to tolerate them. After all, we too are liberals in a much older, and a defensible, sense: we believe in toleration, open inquiry, free speech, individual liberty, etc. And we are liberal and self-critical enough to countenance the possibility that perhaps we are the benighted ones.
But toleration has limits.
What we ought not tolerate is the sort of coercion of the individual by the state that we find in the case of the Washington State florist who refused to sell floral arrangements to be used at a same-sex 'marriage' ceremony. This woman has no animus against gays, and had sold flowers to the homosexual couple. But she was not about to violate her own conscience by providing flowers for a same-sex event. As a result she was sued by the Washington State attorney general, and then by the ACLU.
Now do you see what is wrong with that? The state says to the individual: you have a right to your religious and philosophical beliefs, but only so long as you keep them to yourself and don't allow them to be expressed in your relations with your fellow citizens. You may believe what you want in the privacy of your own mind, but you may not translate your beliefs into social or political action. But we are free to translate our leftist 'theology' into rules and regulations that diminish your liberty. What then becomes of the "free exercise of religion" spoken of in the First Amendment? It is out the window. The totalitarian state has taken one more step in its assault on the liberty of the individual.
The totalitarian state of the contemporary liberal says to the individual: you have no right to live your beliefs unless we allow you to; but we have every right to impose our leftist beliefs on you and force you to live as we see fit.
Here are some home truths that cannot be repeated too often:
We are not the property of the state.
Our rights and liberties do not come from the state, but are logically antecedent to it, inscribed as they are in the very nature of things.
We do not have to justify our keeping of what is ours; the state has to justify its taking.
. . . I have had a strained relationship with a long-time black friend who really thinks that opposition to Barack Obama is racially based. Beyond the personal level, I despise the tactic of dividing people in this country and capitalizing on the fact that some people love to nurture grievances derived from vicarious experiences. It always been a goal of the Left to make people hate not only their countries but their whole civilization. After all, how can you get someone to kill his father unless can get that man first to hate his father?
Well Tom, perhaps you ought to drop this guy as a friend. How can you be friends with someone who willfully believes something so plainly false, not to mention divisive and deeply offensive to those who have argued carefully and dispassionately against Obama's policies?
Anyone who thinks that opposition to Obama's policies derives from racial animus is delusional, on this point if not in general.
But assuming you value or need his friendship, then perhaps you ought to sit your friend down and very gently explain to him the distinction between a person and the policies he advocates. Explain that we conservatives are opposed to the policies of Obama, not the man. While we are not happy that a leftist is in the White House, we are very happy that a black man is there even though he is only half-black: it gives the lie to the oft-repeated leftist slander that the U. S. is institutionally racist.
But I predict that you will not get anywhere with your friend, not because he is black, but because he is a liberal.
You're right: the grievances many blacks love to nurture derive from vicarious experiences. They themselves have not experienced slavery or even Jim Crow. On the contrary, they have profited from the wonderful opportunities this country offers. But, having listened to race-baiters such as Brother Jesse and Brother Al, they think that the way forward for them is the via negativa of grievance-mongering when the latter is one of the marks of a loser and is sure to make them worse off than they are now.
Apparently, racist, sexist or homophobic words themselves do not necessarily earn any rebuke. Nor is the race or gender of the speaker always a clue to the degree of outrage that follows.
Instead, the perceived ideology of the perpetrator is what matters most. Maher and Letterman, being good liberals, could hardly be crude sexists. But when the conservative Limbaugh uses similar terms, it must be a window into his dark heart.
It's apparently OK for whites or blacks to slur conservative Clarence Thomas in racist terms. Saying anything similar of the late liberal Justice Thurgood Marshall would have been blasphemous.
In short, we are dealing not with actual word crimes, but with supposed thought crimes.
The liberal media and popular culture have become our self-appointed thought police. Politics determines whether hate speech is a reflection of real hate or just an inadvertent slip, a risqué joke or an anguished reaction to years of oppression.
Suppose a florist refuses to provide flowers for a Ku Klux Klan event, or a caterer refuses to cater a neo-Nazi gathering. Suppose the refusal is a principled one grounded in opposition to the respective ideologies. Would you say that the purveyors of the services in question would have the right to refuse service, and that the State would have no right to force the purveyors to provide their services?
Yes you would. Well, it is no different if a florist refuses on grounds of principle to sell flowers to be used in a same-sex ceremony. She has the right to refuse, and the State has no right to compel the florist to violate her conscience.
There is no relevant difference between these cases. Opposition to same-sex marriage is grounded in principle. For some these principles are religious, for others purely philosophical, and for still others a mixture of both.
People had better wake up. Day by day we are losing our liberties to the fascists of the totalitarian Left.
William Voegli claims that the phrase first entered the American vocabulary in 1991. I don't know about that, but I do know that the concept is much older: PC derives from the CP, as I explain in Dorothy Healey on Political Correctness.
Home-schooling is illegal in Germany. So, "In 2008, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike left Germany with their five children and came to the United States asking for refugee status as an oppressed minority."
So they left Germany to seek asylum in Left-Fascist Amerika. There is a touch of irony here. Well, we are not as far gone as the "land of poets and thinkers." (Heinrich Heine) Not yet, leastways.
The reason for the disallowance of home schooling is that the powers that be don't want the formation of "parallel societies" (Parallelgesellschaften). That's a real knee-slapper given the green light to Muslim immigration and the Islamization of Germany. No "parallel societies" unless they are politically correct parallel societies.
The Pee Cee, you see, are 'inclusive.' Even unto their own extermination. The Germans seem especially PC-whipped.
It is perhaps not irrelevant that the Romeikes are Christians. Nor that ". . . one of the oldest universities in Germany inaugurated the country's first taxpayer-funded department of Islamic theology. The Center for Islamic Theology at the University of Tübingen is the first of four planned Islamic university centers in Germany." (Ibid.)
Read about the Romeikes here. It turns out that their request for asylum was denied.
The Recent Referrers list pointed me to this old Feser post that links to a similar protest of mine. Excerpt:
At least the PC “non-sexist” stuff is not entirely the fault of copy editors, however. Many publishers of academic books and journals insist on this “inclusive language” nonsense, and it is an outrage. It is bad enough that one has to listen to PC-whipped academics at colloquia and the like gratuitously inserting “she” into their talks and comments wherever they can so as to prove their feminist bona fides. At least there one can just roll one’s eyes, say a quick prayer for the poor soul, and move on to the refreshments. But to have this ideological use of language foisted upon one by an editor is no more defensible than a requirement that all submissions reflect (say) a commitment to direct reference theory or four-dimensionalist metaphysics.
Ed outdid himself with the coinage 'PC-whipped.' I trust my astute readers will understand to which similar expression he is alluding.
Peter Berkowitz has an excellent column under an awful title: Tenets of Liberal Education Underpin Government Abuses. (I am assuming, perhaps wrongly, that Berkowitz chose the title.) The problem is not liberal education. The problem is the hijacking of liberal education by leftists, and the PoMo Prez who is a product of left-hijacked educational institutions. Excerpt:
The administration’s misleading of the public reflects a teaching that is common to much literary theory, sociology, anthropology, political theory, and legal theory on college campuses today: Knowledge is socially constructed, and therefore the narrative is all.
The very word 'narrative' should raise eyebrows and and set off your LBD (leftist bullshit detector). A narrative is a story, and stories needn't be true. Talk of narratives is a way of suppressing the crucial question: But is it true?
Knowledge is socially transmitted, but not socially constructed. The very notion is incoherent.
mid-15c., "plot where plants are raised from seeds," from Latin seminarium "plant nursery," figuratively, "breeding ground," from seminarius "of seed," from semen (genitive seminis) "seed" (see semen). Meaning "school for training priests" first recorded 1580s; commonly used for any school (especially academies for young ladies) from 1580s to 1930s. Seminarian "seminary student" is attested from 1580s.
The universities today are places where the seeds of leftism are planted in skulls full of mush.
I said a few entries back that liberals lack common sense. Here is further proof, as if further proof is needed:
This week, the Los Angeles Unified School District—the second-largest in the nation—decided to end the practice of suspending or expelling students for "willful defiance," starting this fall. District officials said the practice disproportionately affects minority students' education and leads to more disciplinary problems for students down the line.
Both the policy and the justification for it are insane. That the policy is crazy is self-evident to anyone of sound mind. The justification too is completely crack-brained. It assumes that the only reason minority students are disproportionately affected by the old expulsion rule is because they are unjustly discriminated against on the basis of their skin color. But that is obviously false: the minorities are disproportionately affected and 'overrepresented' among the ones expelled because they are disproportionately trouble-causing. It is not their skin color, but their bad behavior that explains why they get expelled and suspended more often.
Liberals cannot see this because they are blinded by their politically correct notion that all groups are equal in every respect and so differential outcomes have to be chalked up to racism. Too many liberals are willfully stupid people in willful defiance of common sense and we ought to expel them from the precincts of the reasonable before they do any more damage to educational institutions.
Contemporary liberals have something like the opposite of the Midas Touch. Everything King Midas touched turned to gold. Everything a liberal touches turns to dreck.
What is to be done about the threat of radical Islam? After explaining the problem, Pat Buchanan gives his answer:
How do we deal with this irreconcilable conflict between a secular West and a resurgent Islam?
First, as it is our presence in their world that enrages so many, we should end our interventions, shut down the empire and let Muslim rulers deal with Muslim radicals.
Second, we need a moratorium on immigration from the Islamic world. Inevitably, some of the young we bring in, like the Tsarnaevs, will yield to radicalization and seek to strike a blow for Islam against us.
What benefit do we derive as a people to justify the risks we take by opening up America to mass migration from a world aflame with hatred and hostility over race, ethnicity, culture, history and faith?
Why are we bringing all of the world's quarrelsome minorities, and all the world's quarrels with them, into our home?
What we saw in Boston was the dark side of diversity.
Buchanan is right. We will never be able to teach the backward denizens of these God-forsaken regions how to live. And certainly not by invasion and bombing. Besides, what moral authority do we have at this point? We are a country in dangerous fiscal, political, and moral decline. The owl of Minerva is about to spread her wings. We will have our hands full keeping ourselves afloat for a few more years. Until we wise up and shape up, a moratorium on immigration from Muslim lands is only common sense.
Common sense, however, is precisely what liberals lack. So I fear things will have to get much worse before they get better.
If blacks make up 12% of the student population, then blacks ought to make up 12% of school expulsions. Fair is fair. Discrimination on the basis of skin color is wrong. But in Clark County, Nevada, in 2009-2010 black student expulsions were at 43% of the student population. So Clark County is racist. Blacks are being targeted just because of their skin color.
How could anyone resist such cogent reasoning?
It is shocking but true: minority students are overrepresented in expulsions and suspensions.
Any morally decent person should be able to appreciate that justice demands that minority students be represented proportionately.
We were talking of Hawking. I said 'black hole.' You heard 'black ho' and took offense . . . . Is that my problem?
Do you really want to maintain that something is offensive just in virtue of someone's taking it to be offensive? Do you really think that there is no call for a distinction between the objectively offensive and the merely subjectively offensive?
If you are that preternaturally deficient in intellect, then I am offended, deeply and personally offended.
Critical thinking is not necessarily opposed to the status quo. To criticize is not to oppose, but to sift, to assess, to assay, to evaluate. The etymology of krinein suggests as much. A critical thinker may well end up supporting the existing state of things in this or that respect. It is a fallacy of the Left to think that any supporter of any aspect of the status quo is an 'apologist' for it in some pejorative sense of this term. After all, some aspects of the status quo may be very good indeed, and others may be unimprovable without making things worse in other respects.
The notion that critical thinking entails opposition to the status quo presumably has its roots in the nihilism of the Left. Leftists are often incapable of appreciating what actually exists because they measure it against a standard that does not exist, and that in many cases cannot exist. It is the leftist Nowhere Man who judges the topos quo from the vantage point of utopia. There is no place like utopia, of course, but only because utopia is no place at all.
Just as leftists do not own dissent, they are not the sole proprietors of a critical attitude. Kritische Theorie as used by members of the Frankfurt School is a tendentious and self-serving expression.
The paradoxes of liberal morality were on glaring display last week. The Obama administration OK’d the sale of “Plan B” post-coital emergency contraception over the counter without prescription (or parental consent) to girls as young as 15. At the same time, the City Council moved a step closer to banning anyone under the age of 21 from buying cigarettes (the legal age is now 18).
Holy smoke! (Or as my boyhood pal Joe Odegaard used to say, fumus sanctus!)
The church of liberalism must have its demon, and his name is 'tobacco.'
For more on the antics of the 'tobacco wackos,' see my Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms category. There is plenty there to get you libruls 'up in arms.'
I have found that it is dangerous to assume that others are essentially like oneself.
Psychologists speak of projection. As I understand it, it involves projecting into others one's own attitudes, beliefs, motivations, fears, emotions, desires, values, and the like. It is classified as a defense mechanism. To avoid confronting an unsavory attitude or trait in oneself, one projects it into another. Suppose one is stingy, considers stinginess an undesirable trait, but doesn't want to own up to one's stinginess. As a defense against the admission of one's own stinginess, one projects it into others. "I'm not stingy; you're stingy!"
I once had a superficial colleague who published a lot. He was motivated more by a neurotic need to advance himself socially and economically, a need based in low self-esteem, rather than by a drive to get at the truth or make a contribution to his subject. He was at some level aware that his motives were less than noble. Once, when he found out that I had published an article, he told me that my motive was to see my name in print. It was a classic case of projection: he could not understand me except as being driven by the same paltry motives that drove him. By projecting his motives into me, he warded off the awareness of their presence in him, or else excused their presence in him on the spurious ground that everyone has the same paltry motivations.
Most of the definitions of projection I have read imply that it is only undesirable attitudes, beliefs and the like that are the contents of acts of projection. But it seems to me that the notion of projection could and perhaps should be widened to include desirable ones as well.
The desire for peace and social harmony, for example, is obviously good. But it too can be the content of an act of psychological projection. A pacifist, for example, may assume that others deep down are really like he is: peace-loving to such an extent as to avoid war at all costs. A pacifist might reason as follows: since everyone deep down wants peace, and abhors war, if I throw down my weapon, my adversary will do likewise. By unilaterally disarming, I show my good will, and he will reciprocate. But if you throw down your weapon before Hitler, he will take that precisely as justification for killing you: since might makes right on his neo-Thrasymachian scheme, you have shown by your pacific deed that you are unfit for the struggle for existence and therefore deserve to die, and indeed must die to keep from polluting the gene pool.
Projection in cases like these can be dangerous. One oftens hears the sentiment expressed that we human beings are at bottom all the same and all want the same things. Not so! You and I may want
Harmony and understanding Sympathy and trust abounding No more falsehoods or derisions Golden living dreams of visions Mystic crystal revelation And the mind's true liberation
as expressed in that characteristic '60s song, Aquarius, but others have belligerence and bellicosity hard-wired into them. They like fighting and dominating and they only come alive when they are bashing your skull in either literally or figuratively. People are not the same and it is a big mistake to think otherwise and project your decency into them.
I'll say it again: people are not the same. We are not 'equal.' Or do you consider yourself the moral equal of Chechen Muslim ingrates who come to our shores, exploit our hospitality, go on welfare, rip us off, and then detonate explosives at the finish line of a great American event that celebrates life and self-reliance?
I said that the psychologists classify projection as a defense mechanism. But how could the projection of good traits count as a defense mechanism? Well, suppose that by engaging in such projections one defends oneself against the painful realization that the people in the world are much worse than one would have liked to believe. Many of us have a strong psychological need to see good in other people, and this can give rise to illusions. There is good and evil in each person, and one must train oneself to accurately discern how much of each is present in each person one encounters.
One mistake I have made, more than once, is to assume that since I value truth above many other things, others do as well. But there are plenty of people who do not value truth at all, or else assign it a rather low priority. There are many, for example, who value human feelings over truth. Truth is nothing to them; feelings everything. That makes no sense to me; to me it is self-evident that, although both are values (to be precise: things that ought to be valued), truth is a higher value, if not the highest value. But reality forces me to accept that others hold to the opposite value-prioritization. It is folly to project one's own values into others.
There are other people for whom truth counts for nothing, but power for everything. They interpret every type of interpersonal transaction as a power struggle. Thus if you calmly try to persuade such a person of the truth of some proposition by appealing to facts and reasoning correctly from them, he will interpret that as nothing but an attempt to dominate him psychologically. Such people are utterly blind to the value of truth and to the fact that truth can sometimes be attained by dialectical means. They project their own lust for power into everyone else interpreting everything that is manifestly not a power-move as latently a power-move.
There are plenty of leftists like this. Taking their cue from Nietzsche, they assume that everything is power at bottom. Die Welt ist der Wille zur Macht und nichts anders! "The world is the will to power and nothing besides!" Supported by this assumption, they set out to unmask (deconstruct) phenomena that manifestly are not power-driven, for example, attempts to state what is the case. Power-mad themselves, these leftists project lust for power into everyone and everything. It is a curious pars pro toto fallacy: one takes a phenomenon one finds in oneself, lust for power, and then interprets everything else in terms of it. The idea might be worth exploring that Nietzsche's doctrine of the Will to Power arose by projection. He saw the lust for power within himself and excused its presence there by projecting it outward thus transforming a psychological peculiarity into a fundamental trait of beings qua beings.
You say I'm psychologizing. True enough. But false views are legitimately psychologized. It would be the genetic fallacy to dismiss as false a proposition just because it arose from a need or serves a need or results from projection. But once a proposition has been shown to be false, it is legitimate to inquire into the genesis of the belief.
I was about to write an entry on Rushdie's recent NYT op-ed, but Radosh has done the job and has done it well. Excerpt:
A good example of the old moral equivalence was to equate the Gulag in the Soviet Union, in which hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, starved to death and executed in massive frame-ups, with McCarthyism in the United States. During the so-called McCarthy era, relatively few were imprisoned or lost their livelihoods, and many actually guilty of being actual Soviet agents portrayed themselves as innocents accused because of their political views. Yet the Left in America argued both were the same.
That was indeed the position the Left took back in the days before the the USSR collapsed. It shows as clearly as anything the delusional, reality-denying, character of liberal-left 'thought.' The same delusional cast of mind is betrayed by those who will not recognize the unique threat to civilization posed by radical Islam.
What is at the root of moral equivalentism? Perhaps it is an upshot of the Left's radical utopianism. Utopia, etymologically, is nowhere. The leftist is a Nowhere Man who adopts the View from Nowhere. If you ascend high enough in the sky, earthly differences blur and vanish. When you attain unto Cloud Cuckoo Land (Wolkenskukuheim), all is the same: FDR's America and Hitler's Germany, the USA and the Evil Empire, Christian 'terrorism' and Muslim terrorism.
"He's a real nowhere man, living in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans, for nobody."
"He's as blind as he can be, just sees what he wants to see . . . ."
In the nine years I have been blogging I have been careful to distinguish between Islam and radical Islam (militant Islam, Islamism, Islamofascism, etc.) I can't say I have had any really good reason for this charitableness on my part. Perhaps it is that I just didn't want to believe that 'moderate Muslim' is as much an oxymoron as 'moderate Nazi.'
In "Calling Islam 'Islam'," Bosch Fawstin argues against distinguishing between Islam and radical Islam (militant Islam, fundamentalist Islam, etc.) But if one doesn't make this distinction, and radical Islam is the enemy, then Islam is the enemy. This seems to have the unpalatable consequence that 1.5 billion Muslims are the enemy. Surely that is false. As I understand Fawstin, he avoids this inference by distinguishing between Muslims who take Islam seriously and those who don't. Actually, he makes a tripartite distinction among Muslims who take Islam seriously, and are a grave existential threat to us; Muslims who do not take Islam seriously and are a threat to us only insofar as they refuse to condemn the radicals; and Muslims who, unlike the second group, practice Islam, but an 'enlightened' Islam. This third group, however, is empty. According to Fawstin, "There’s no separate ideology apart from Islam that’s being practiced by these Muslims in name only, there’s no such thing as 'Western Islam'."
If Fawstin is right, then to speak of Islam having being 'hijacked' by radicals makes as little sense as to speak of National Socialism as having been hijacked by radicals. Islam and Nazism are radical and militant and murderous by their very nature: there are no moderate forms. If you are Muslim or a Nazi then you are a radical since these ideologies admit of no moderate forms; if you are not a radical Muslim or Nazi, then you are not a Muslim or a Nazi at all.
Whether or not you agree with Fawstin's parsing of the terminology, the radicals do pose a real threat both 'explosive' (as in the Boston Marathon bombing) and 'subversive' (as in the building of the ground zero mosque). Curiously, in the case of GZM, the site of the subversion is the same as the site of one of the main 'explosions.'
In Terrorism and Other Religions, Cole argues that "Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions." Although we conservatives don't think all that highly of Bill Maher, we cheered when he pointed out the obvious, namely, that Islam, and Islam alone at the present time, is the faith whose doctrines drive most of the world's terrorism, and that the Left's moral equivalency 'argument' is "bullshit" to employ Maher's terminus technicus. Why should pointing out what is plainly true get Maher labeled a bigot by Cole?
So I thought I must be missing something and that I needed to be set straight by Professor Cole. So I read his piece carefully numerous times. Cole's main argument is that, while people of "European Christian heritage" killed over 100 million people in the 20th century, Muslims have killed only about two million during that same period. But what does this show? Does it show that Islamic doctrine does not drive most of the world's terrorism at the present time? Of course not.
That is precisely the issue given that Cole is contesting what "the bigot" Maher claimed. What Cole has given us is a text-book example of ignoratio elenchi. This is an informal fallacy of reasoning committed by a person who launches into the refutation of some thesis that is other than the one being forwarded by the dialectical opponent. If the thesis is that Muslims who take Islam seriously are the cause of most of the world's terrorism at the present time, this thesis cannot be refuted by pointing out that people of "European Christian heritage" have killed more people than Muslims. For this is simply irrelevant to the issue in dispute. (I note en passant that this is why ignoratio elenchi is classifed as a fallacy of relevance.)
Someone born and raised in a Christian land can be called a Christian. But it doesn't follow that such a person is a Christian in anything more than a sociological sense. In this loose and external sense the author of The Anti-Christ was a Christian. Nietzsche was raised in a Christian home in a Christian land by a father, Karl Ludwig Nietzsche, who was a Lutheran pastor. Similarly, Hitler was a Christian. And Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, was a Muslim. But were Ataturk's actions guided and inspired by Islamic doctrine? As little as Hitler's actions were guided and inspired by the Sermon on the Mount. Here is a list of some of Ataturk's anti-Islamic actions.
Having exposed the fundamental fallacy in Cole's article, there is no need to go through the rest of his distortions such as the one about the Zionist terrorists during the time of the British Mandate.
Why do leftists deny reality? A good part of the answer is that they deny it because reality does not fit their scheme. Leftists confuse the world with their view of the world. In their view of the world, people are all equal and religions are all equal -- equally good or equally bad depending on the stripe of the leftist. They want it to be that way and so they fool themselves into thinking that it is that way. Moral equivalency reigns. If you point out that Muhammad Atta was an Islamic terrorist, they shoot back that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian terrorist -- willfully ignoring the crucial difference that the murderous actions of the former derive from Islamic/Islamist doctrine whereas the actions of the latter do not derive from Christian doctrine.
And then these leftists like Cole compound their willful ignorance of reality by denouncing those who speak the truth as 'Islamophobes.'
That would have been like hurling the epithet 'Nazi-phobe' at a person who, in 1938, warned of the National Socialist threat to civilized values.
What follows is the whole of Victor Davis Hanson's Promiscuous Prudes with a bit of commentary.
More than 500 people were murdered in Chicago last year. Yet Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel still found time to berate the fast food franchise Chick-fil-A for not sharing "Chicago values" -- apparently because its founder does not approve of gay marriage.
[A case of what I call misplaced moral enthusiasm. Emanuel's view is particularly offensive because conservative opposition to gay 'marriage' is principled and rationally argued. It does not derive from bigotry or 'homophobia.']
Two states have legalized marijuana, with more to come. Yet social taboos against tobacco smoking make it nearly impossible to light up a cigarette in public places. Marijuana, like alcohol, causes far greater short-term impairment than does nicotine. But legal cigarette smoking is now seen as a corporate-sponsored, uncool and dirty habit that leads to long-term health costs for society at large -- in a way homegrown, hip and mostly illegal pot smoking apparently does not.
[The church of liberalism must have its demon, and his name is tobacco. (See Cigarettes, Rationality, and Hitchens.) There is also the absurdity, not mentioned by Hanson, that tobacco use is demonized while drinking alcohol is widely accepted. Ask yourself: how many auto accidents have been caused by people under abnd because of the influence of nicotine? More or less than the number of such accidents caused by people under the influence of alcohol? The question answers itself. Now repeat the question substituting 'marijuana' for 'alcohol.' Marijuana use impairs driving skills. Nicotine use enhances concentration and alertness. Liberals have a knee-jerk hatred of corporations. When big corporations market dope will the lefties change their tune?]
Graphic language, nudity and sex are now commonplace in movies and on cable television. At the same time, there is now almost no tolerance for casual and slang banter in the media or the workplace. A boss who calls an employee "honey" might face accusations of fostering a hostile work environment, yet a television producer whose program shows an 18-year-old having sex does not. Many colleges offer courses on lurid themes from masturbation to prostitution, even as campus sexual-harassment suits over hurtful language are at an all-time high.
[There is also the double-standard: you can get away with calling a Jew a 'kike' but not a black 'nigger.' Why is 'nigger' more offensive than 'kike'? Why is 'So-and-so is nigger-rich' more offensive than 'I got a great deal; I jewed him down to $150'? You may recall Jesse Jackson's reference to New York as 'himey town.' But what if someone referred to Detroit as 'nigger town'?
In a blog post on the difference between 'asshole' and 'honkey,' a philosophy professor who wrote a book entitled Assholes starts off, "Here I mean not only 'honkey,' but any pejorative term directed toward a particular group of people ('honkey' and whites; 'wop' and Italians; 'kike' and Jews; 'chink' and Chinese people; 'limeys' and Irish people; 'n—-r' and Afro-Americans).
Notice how the PC prof refuses to write out 'nigger,' but has no qualms about 'wop,' 'kike,' and 'chink.'
As a philosophy teacher he ought to be aware of the distinction between use and mention. He is talking about those words, not applying them to people. Why then is he so squeamish about writing out the word 'nigger'?]
A federal judge in New York recently ruled that the so-called morning-after birth control pill must be made available to all "women" regardless of age or parental consent, and without a prescription. The judge determined that it was unfair for those under 16 to be denied access to such emergency contraceptives. But if vast numbers of girls younger than 16 need after-sex options to prevent unwanted pregnancies, will there be a flood of statutory rape charges lodged against older teenagers who had such consensual relations with younger girls?
Our schizophrenic morality also affects the military. When America was a far more traditional society, few seemed to care that Gen. Dwight Eisenhower carried on an unusual relationship at the front in Normandy with his young female chauffeur, Kay Summersby. As the Third Army chased the Germans across France, Gen. George S. Patton was not discreet about his female liaisons. Contrast that live-and-let-live attitude of a supposedly uptight society with our own hip culture's tabloid interest in Gen. David Petraeus' career-ending affair with Paula Broadwell, or in the private emails of Gen. John Allen.
What explains these contradictions in our wide-open but prudish society?
Decades after the rise of feminism, popular culture still seems confused by it. If women should be able to approach sexuality like men, does it follow that commentary about sex should follow the same gender-neutral rules? Yet wearing provocative or inappropriate clothing is often considered less offensive than remarking upon it. Calling a near-nude Madonna onstage a "hussy" or "tart" would be considered crudity in a way that her mock crucifixion and simulated sex acts are not.
Criminal sexual activity is sometimes not as professionally injurious as politically incorrect thoughts about sex and gender. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer -- found to have hired prostitutes on a number of occasions during his time in office -- was given a CNN news show despite the scandal. But when former Miss California Carrie Prejean was asked in the Miss USA Pageant whether she endorsed gay marriage, she said no -- and thereby earned nearly as much popular condemnation for her candid defense of traditional marriage as Spitzer had for his purchased affairs.
Critics were outraged that talk-show host Rush Limbaugh grossly insulted birth-control activist Sandra Fluke. Amid the attention, Fluke was canonized for her position that federal health-care plans should pay for the contraceptive costs of all women.
Yet in comparison to Fluke's well-publicized victimhood, there has been a veritable news blackout for the trial of the macabre Dr. Kermit Gosnell, charged with killing and mutilating in gruesome fashion seven babies during a long career of conducting sometimes illegal late-term abortions. Had Gosnell's aborted victims been canines instead of humans -- compare the minimal coverage of the Gosnell trial with the widespread media condemnation of dog-killing quarterback Michael Vick -- perhaps the doctor's mayhem likewise would have been front-page news outside of Philadelphia.
Modern society also resorts to empty, symbolic moral action when it cannot deal with real problems. So-called assault weapons account for less than 1 percent of gun deaths in America. But the country whips itself into a frenzy to ban them, apparently to prove that at least it can do something -- without wading into the polarized racial and class controversies of going after illegal urban handguns, the real source of the nation's high gun-related body count.
Not since the late-19th-century juxtaposition of the Wild West with the Victorian East has popular morality been so unbridled and yet so uptight.
In short, we have become a nation of promiscuous prudes.
Here is a particularly egregious example of a liberal straw man argument. In a New Yorker piece, Margaret Talbot writes:
As a nation, we’re a little vague on what the Second Amendment’s protections of a citizen militia mean for gun ownership today. The N.R.A. insists that they mean virtually unlimited access to firearms for every American. . . .
Note the weasel word 'virtually' that pseudo-qualifies Talbot's falsehood, and allows her to pass it off with a show of plausibility. Or is Talbot flat out lying? A lie is not the same as a falsehood, the difference being the intention to deceive which is necessary for an utterance to count as a lie. I am not in a position to peer into Talbot's soul, so I hesitate to impute a lie to her. But if she is not lying, then she is ignorant, indeed culpably ignorant since on a minimal understanding of journalistic ethics one ought to become informed of the positions of an outfit such as the N.R.A. before confidently reporting on them.
How does the Straw Man fallacy come into this? The fallacy is committed when one (mis)represents one's opponent as holding a position he does not in fact hold and then attacking the position he does not hold. So Talbot falsely represents the N. R. A. has advocating the nonexistent right of all Americans, including felons, the mentally unstable, and the underaged, to keep and bear all types of firearms. Having set up the strawman, Talbot then earnestly argues against it.
I exposed another example the other day when I refuted the Wolff-Obama "You didn't build that!" argument.
A third example is the liberal complaint that conservatives are anti-government, as if advocating limited government makes one anti-government. Such a willful misrepresentation speaks volumes about the moral character of the ones who make it.
Well, if you are 'Islamophobic,' then, given that a phobia is an irrational fear, you have an irrational fear of Islam or of certain Muslims. Is that really what you want to say? Do you really want to announce to the world that you are proud to have a phobia? I should think that fear of radical Islam and of those who promote radical Islam, whether Muslims or non-Muslim leftists, is entirely rational.
But I know what you mean. My suggestion is that you say what you mean.
'Islamophobic,' like 'homophobic,' is a coinage of liberals/leftists. It is their word. It is foolish for a conservative to use it. If you are a conservative, why are you talking like a liberal? Why are you allowing them to frame the debate in terms they have invented for their own advantage? Is that not foolish? You should insist on standard, ideologically-neutral language.
Compare 'social justice.' That is leftist code. Why then does Bill O'Reilly use it? Because, like too many conservatives, he is not good at properly articulating and properly defending conservative positions.
Liberals, whose love of political correctness gets the better of their intellects, typically object to the phrase 'illegal alien.' But why? Are these people not in our country illegally, as the result of breaking laws? And are they not aliens, people from another country?
"But you are labelling them!" Yes, of course. Label we must if we are not to lose our minds entirely. 'Feral cat' is a label. Do you propose that we not distinguish between feral and non-feral cats? Do you distinguish between the positive and the negative terminals on your car battery? You'd better! But 'positive terminal' and 'negative terminal' are labels.
Label we must. There is no getting around it if we are to think at all. There is a political outfit that calls itself 'No Labels.' But that too is a label. Those who eschew all labels label themselves 'idiots.'
Related to this is the injunction, 'Never generalize!' which is itself a generalization. Label we must and generalize we must. Making distinctions and labelling them, and constructing sound generalizations on their basis are activities essential to, thought not exhaustive of, the life of the intellect.
Liberals also object to 'illegal immigrant.' In fact, the AP has banned the phrase. But given that there are both legal and illegal immigrants, 'illegal immigrant' is a useful label. There is nothing derogatory about it. It is a descriptive term like 'hypertensive' or 'diabetic.'
One consideration adduced at the AP site is that actions are illegal, not persons. But suppose your doctor tells you that you are diabetic, and you protest, "Doc, not only are you labelling me, you are forgetting that diabetes is a medical condition and that no person is a medical condition." The good doctor would then have to explain that a diabetic is a person who has diabetes. Similarly, an illegal immigrant is one who is in the country illegally. There is the act of illegally crossing the border, but there is also the state of being here illegally.
Plain talk is an excellent antidote to liberal nonsense. When a liberal or a leftist misuses a word in an intellectually dishonest attempt at forwarding his agenda, a right-thinking person ought to protest. Whether you protest or not, you must not acquiesce in their pernicious misuse of language. Or, as I have said more than once in these pages,
If you are a conservative, don't talk like a liberal!
Bear in mind that many of the battles of the culture war are fought, won, and lost on linguistic ground. If we let our opponents destroy the common language in which alone reasonable debate can be conducted, then much more is lost than these particular debates. The liberal-left misuse of language is fueled by their determination to win politically at all costs and by any means, including linguistic hijacking.