On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological — and claimed the debate would threaten the ‘mental safety’ of Oxford students. Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with ‘instruments’ — heaven knows what — that would allow them to disrupt proceedings.
Incredibly, Christ Church capitulated, the college’s censors living up to the modern meaning of their name by announcing that they would refuse to host the debate on the basis that it now raised ‘security and welfare issues’. So at one of the highest seats of learning on Earth, the democratic principle of free and open debate, of allowing differing opinions to slog it out in full view of discerning citizens, has been violated, and students have been rebranded as fragile creatures, overgrown children who need to be guarded against any idea that might prick their souls or challenge their prejudices.
Here is the response you must make to these liberal-left shitheads:
Dennis Prager here details recent vicious attacks upon himself and his wife, and then offers an explanation of liberal-left scumbaggery:
First, truth is a not a left-wing value (though, of course, some individuals on the left have great integrity). If you don't know that, you cannot understand the left. Truth is a conservative value (though, of course, some individuals on the right lie). From the Bolsheviks to today's left-wing, lying is normal. Not one left-wing comment or article (except for the HuffingtonPost reference to the MIT report) even dealt with the issue of the truth of the claim that one out of every five female college students is sexually assaulted/raped, or the truth of the charge that our universities are a "culture of rape."
Second, mockery, indeed cruel mockery, is the norm on the left. I urge readers to visit any of the liberal websites cited and read the comments after the articles. No significant American group hates like the left does. If you differ with them -- from global warming, to race relations, to same-sex marriage, to the extent of rape on college campuses -- they will humiliate, defame, libel and try to economically crush you.
Addendum: More liberal-left scumbaggery: New York Times publishes Darren Wilson's Address. Liberals see politics as a form of warfare, and they will do anything to win. "All's fair in love and war." When will conservatives wise up to this and learn how to fight back?
You can rely on liberals to politicize race and racialize politics. But they also excel at the racialization of crime. Victor Davis Hanson has their number in Crimes of Exactly What? He discusses a number of examples besides Ferguson. Excerpts:
Racializing crime is a serious business, because it breaks society apart along tribal lines. It is all the more dangerous when elected officials like the president and attorney general are sometimes the worst offenders, given their racialist slurs like “nation of cowards,” “punish our enemies,” and “typical white person” and cheap editorializing in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. So on their cue, are we to look at lurid fatal crimes in the news and see them not as matters of individual evil acts, but rather as collective tokens of larger racial hatred? And are we to detect some sort of state culpability that suggests shared guilt for the violence?
[. . .]
If we were to embrace the abjectly racist worldview of Eric Holder or Al Sharpton, where would the racialization of crime end? Who would decide which interracial crimes illustrated premeditated racial hatred — or criminal laxity on the part of the state — and deserved national attention? Which adjudicator could or would declare that one interracial incident was idiosyncratic without transcendent significance, but the other typical and thus representative of collective pathology?
What exactly has this country stooped to, when our officials and public figures traffic in politicizing the end of human lives? We are becoming not just a sick country, but an amoral one as well. What Ferguson wrought will not end well.
My philo cronies and I were discussing this over Sunday breakfast. Why don't leftists -- who obviously do not share the characteristic values and beliefs of Islamists -- grant what is spectacularly obvious to everyone else, namely, that radical Islam poses a grave threat to what we in the West cherish as civilization, which includes commitments to free speech, open inquiry, separation of church and state, freedom of religion, freedom to reject religion, and so on? Why do leftists either deny the threat or downplay its gravity?
Here is a quickly-composed list of ten related reasons based on my own thinking and reading and on the contributions of my table mates Peter Lupu and Mike Valle. A work in progress. The reasons are not necessarily in the order of importance. ComBox open!
1. Many leftists hold that no one really believes in the Islamic paradise. The expansionist Soviets could be kept in check by the threat of nuclear destruction because, as communists, they were atheists and mortalists for whom this world is the last stop. But the threat from radical Islam, to a conservative, is far more chilling since jihadis murder in the expectation of prolonged disportation with black-eyed virgins in a carnal post mortem paradise. For them this world is not the last stop but a way station to that garden of carnal delights they are forbidden from enjoying here and now. Most leftists, however, don't take religion seriously, and, projecting, think that no one else really does either despite what they say and pretend to believe. So leftists think that jihadis are not really motivated by the belief in paradise as pay off for detonating themselves and murdering 'infidels.' In this way they downplay the gravity of the threat.
This is a very dangerous mistake based on a very foolish sort of psychological projection! Conservatives know better than to assume that everyone shares the same values, attitudes, and goals. See Does Anyone Really Believe in the Muslim Paradise? which refers to Sam Harris's debate with anthropologist Scott Atran on this point.
2. Leftists tend to think that deep down everyone is the same and wants the same things. They think that Muslims want what most Westerners want: money, cars, big houses, creature comforts, the freedom to live and think and speak and criticize and give offense as they please, ready access to alcohol and other intoxicants, equality for women, same-sex 'marriage' . . . .
3. Leftists typically deny that there is radical evil; the bad behavior of Muslims can be explained socially, politically, and economically. The denial of the reality of evil is perhaps the deepest error of the Left.
4. Leftists tend to think any critique of Islam is an attack on Muslims and as such is sheer bigotry. But this is pure confusion. To point out the obvious, Islam is a religion, but no Muslim is a religion. Muslims are people who adhere to the religion, Islam. Got it?
When a leftist looks at a conservative he 'sees' a racist, a xenophobe, a nativist, a flag-waving, my-country-right-or-wrong jingoist, a rube who knows nothing of foreign cultures and reflexively hates the Other simply as Other. In a word, he 'sees' a bigot. So he thinks that any critique of Islam or Islamism -- if you care to distinguish them -- is motivated solely by bigotry directed at certain people. In doing this, however, the leftist confuses the worldview with its adherents. The target of conservative animus is the destructive political-religious ideology, not the people who have been brainwashed into accepting it and who know no better.
5. Some leftists think that to criticize Islam is racist. But this too is hopeless confusion. Islam is a religion, not a race. There is no race of Muslims. You might think that no liberal-leftist is so stupid as not to know that Islam is not a race. You would be wrong. See Richard Dawkins on Muslims.
6. Many leftists succumb to the Obama Fallacy: Religion is good; Islam is a religion; ergo, Islam is good; ISIS is bad; ergo, ISIS -- the premier instantiation of Islamist terror at the moment -- is not Islamic. See Obama: "ISIL is not Islamic."
7. Leftists tend to be cultural relativists. This is part of what drives the Obama Fallacy. If all cultures are equally good, then the same holds for religions: they are all equally good, and no religion can be said to be superior to any other either in terms of truth value or contribution to human flourishing. Islam is not worse that Christianity or Buddhism; it is just different, and only a bigot thinks otherwise.
But of course most leftists think that all religions are bad, equally bad. But if so, then again one cannot maintain that one is superior to another.
Leftists are also, many of them, moral relativists, though inconsistently so. They think that it is morally wrong (absolutely!) to criticize or condemn the practices of another culture (stoning of adulterers, e.g.) because each culture has its own morality that is valid for it and thus only relatively valid. The incoherence of this ought to be obvious. If morality is relative, then we in our culture have all the justification we need and could have to condemn and indeed suppress and eliminate the barbaric practices of Muslims.
9. Leftists tend to deny reality. The reality of terrorism and its source is there for all to see: not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terroists at the present time are Muslims. Deny that, and you deny reality. But 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 Juan Cole compound their willful ignorance of reality by denouncing those who speak the truth as 'Islamophobes.' That would have been like hurling the epithet 'Naziphobe' at a person who, in 1938, warned of the National Socialist threat to civilized values. "You, sir, are suffering from a phobia, an irrational fear; you need treatment, not refutation."
When a leftist hurls the 'Islamophobe!' epithet that is his way of evading rational discussion by reducing his interlocutor to someone subrational, someone suffering from cognitive dysfunction. Now how liberal and tolerant and respectful of persons is that?
10. Leftists hate conservatives because of the collapse of the USSR and the failure of communism; hence they reflexively oppose anything conservatives promote or maintain. (This was Peter Lupu's suggestion at our breakfast meeting.) So when conservatives sound the alarm, leftists go into knee-jerk oppositional mode. They willfully enter into a delusional state wherein they think, e.g., that the threat of Christian theocracy is real and imminent, but that there is nothing to fear from Islamic theocracy.
William Voegli claims that the phrase 'political correctness' 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.
I now refer you to what Bill Whittle has to say about the leftist narrative and political correctness. (HT: Monterey Tom)
Whittle refers to a man I blogged about on 30 August 2009:
The Gun-Totin' Obama Protester Was Black!
If a black man exercises his Second Amendment rights, is he really black? For liberals, the answer, apparently, is in the negative. For them, apparently, the only real black is a liberal black. Take a gander at this video clip. You will see an Obama protester with a semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, a pistol on his hip, and an ammo mag in his pocket. But the shot has been edited so that we cannot see that he is black. And you liberals have the chutzpah to tell me that the MSM does not tilt to the Left? To depict the man's color would not fit in with the leftist party line that opposition to Obama's policies has its origin in racism. Apparently, a black man who does not fit the leftist 'narrative' is not black, but a 'traitor to his race.' And the same goes, mutatis mutandis, for women who do not toe the party line.
In this clip you can see that the man is indeed black.
Here are two points that need to be made again and again in opposition to the willful moral and intellectual obtuseness of liberals and leftists.
1. Dissent is not hate. To dissent from a person's ideas and policies is not to hate the person.
2. As a corollary to #1, to dissent from the ideas and policies of a black man is not to hate the man. A fortiori, it is not to hate the man because he is black.
A lively 'conversation' about Islam. Affleck outs himself as a perfect idiot while getting slaughtered by the Maher-Harris tag team. Around 2:05 he starts to quote the Declaration of Independence (second paragraph) and the line about all men being endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and then 'corrects' himself substituting 'forefathers' for 'Creator.' Unbelievable. Does this idiot really believe that our rights come from the contingent decisions of certain fallible human beings?
Addendum 10/7: Affleck's view is not only stupid, but dangerous. But note that rejecting it leaves two options: rights come from the Creator; rights are simply part of the nature of things. What exactly the second option means, and whether it survives scrutiny, are nice questions.
Affleck is a representative instance of the HollyWeird liberal who has swallowed the leftist 'narrative' hook, line, and sinker. Pretty boy infidels like him would be among the first to have their throats cuts should the Islamists get their way. A useful idiot.
Addendum 10/8: Nicholas Kristof, another of the participants in the above-referenced 'conversation,' is also deserving of severe criticism for his mindless NYT-leftism. Dennis Prager does the job here. The column concludes:
But it was later in the dialogue that Kristof expressed the most dishonest of the left's arguments on this issue:
"The great divide is not between Islam and the rest. It's rather between the fundamentalists and the moderates in each faith."
"In each faith," Kristof?
Where, sir, are the Christian and Jewish jihadists? The only Jewish state in the world is one of the freest countries on earth, with protections for minority religions and women and homosexuals unknown anywhere in the Muslim world. And virtually every free country in the world is in the Christian world.
Presumably, these are just "ugly" facts.
This debate was valuable. Even more valuable would be if Maher and Harris came to realize that the death of Judeo-Christian values and their being supplanted by leftism is producing hundreds of millions of people who think like Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof.
Allegedly, the New Atheism has a "shocking woman problem": Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are "misogynists." Thus Amanda Marcotte in Salon. (See also Kathe Pollitt in The Nation). This appears to be the latest PC purge.
It is true that the New Atheism is male-dominated. But why? According to Marcotte,
The reason has, in recent years, become quite apparent: Many of the most prominent leaders of the New Atheism are quick to express deeply sexist ideas. Despite their supposed love of science and rationality, many of them are nearly as quick as their religious counterparts to abandon reason in order to justify regressive views about women.
One such prominent leader is Sam Harris, a man of "knee-jerk Islamophobic tendencies" who has recently "added women to the category of people he makes thoughtless generalizations about."
Let's remind ourselves that a phobia is an irrational fear. Fear of radical Islam, however, is eminently rational, especially in the light of recent events. (You may wish to consult the Christians of the Middle East on this point.) It is obvious that 'Islamophobic' and cognates are semantic bludgeons used by leftists to silence and discredit their opponents by imputing to them a sort of cognitive/affective dysfunction. It's a shabby tactic and its says a lot about them.
As for "thoughtless generalizations about women," what does Harris actually say? From his weblog:
My work is often perceived (I believe unfairly) as unpleasantly critical, angry, divisive, etc. The work of other vocal atheists (male and female) has a similar reputation. I believe that in general, men are more attracted to this style of communication than women are. Which is not to say there aren’t millions of acerbic women out there . . . . But just as we can say that men are generally taller than women, without denying that some women are taller than most men, there are psychological differences between men and women which, considered in the aggregate, might explain why “angry atheism” attracts more of the former. Some of these differences are innate; some are surely the product of culture. Nothing in my remarks was meant to suggest that women can’t think as critically as men or that they are more likely to be taken in by bad ideas. Again, I was talking about a fondness for a perceived style of religion bashing with which I and other vocal atheists are often associated.
How can any reasonable person be offended by what Harris is saying above? He is giving an explanation of why men are 'over-represented' among active, or as I would call them 'evangelical,' atheists. Surely it is a plausible explanation and it may even be true. Anyone with any experience of life knows that there are differences between men and women and these are reflected in different styles of communication.
There is an interesting logico-linguistic question here. Is the sentence 'Women can think as critically as men' a modal statement? Note the modal auxiliary 'can.' The sentence is grammatically modal, but is it logically modal? Does the sentence express the proposition that it is possible that women think as critically as men? Or does it express a proposition about actuality? If the latter, then it is equivalent to 'Some women think as critically as men' which does not feature any modal words. The second sentence is clearly true, especially when spelled out as 'Some women think as critically as some men.'
Later in his post, Harris reports a dialog with an offended woman. Here is part of it:
She: [. . .] What you said about women in the atheist community was totally denigrating to women and irresponsible. Women can think just as critically as men. And men can be just as nurturing as women.
Me: Of course they can! But if you think there are no differences, in the aggregate, between people who have Y chromosomes and people who don’t; if you think testosterone has no psychological effects on human minds in general; if you think we can’t say anything about the differences between two bell curves that describe whole populations of men and women, whether these differences come from biology or from culture, we’re not going to get very far in this conversation.
The irate female is indisputably in the right if she is saying that some women think just as critically as some men, and that some men are just as nurturing as some women. But then she has no dispute with Harris who would not dream of denying these truths. The following, however, are false:
1. Every woman thinks just as critically as every man. 2. Every man is just as nurturing as every woman. 3. Every woman is possibly such that she thinks as critically as every man. 4. Every man is possibly such that he is as nurturing as every woman.
I leave undecided the following two de dicto claims:
5. It is possible that every woman think as critically as every man. 6. It is possible that every man be as nurturing as every woman.
Here as elsewhere many on the Left substitute the hurling of epithets for serious discussion. Why think carefully and responsibly when you can shout: sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, racist, bigoted, Islamophobic, etc.?
One of the basic errors of the Left is the assumption that we are all equal. It is is simply not the case. Men on average are taller than women on average. That's just the way it is. Now it is good to be tall, but it is also good to be nurturing, and women on average are more nurturing than men on average. No one can responsibly be labelled a sexist or a bigot for pointing out such plain facts as these.
Leftists often compound their error with a fallacious inference. They infer that since there is no equality of outcome, then there must have been sexism, or racism, etc. at work. Non sequitur!
Finally, if atheists draw their inspiration from natural science and oppose religion as superstition, then they ought to give some thought as to how they will ground empirically and scientifically key tenets of the leftist worldview. If you say that we are all equal, with equal rights, and equal dignity, and equal value as persons, etc. what is the basis of all that? Why isn't this just residual ideological claptrap left over after the death of God and the collapse of Christianity?
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 (etymologically, throwing outward) 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. My adversay is histile out of fear; if I remove the reason for his fear, he will be pacified. 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 am referring to the Boston Marathon.
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.
Our humanities and social science departments are filled with scholars and pseudo-scholars deemed to be experts in terrorism, religion, Islamic jurisprudence, anthropology, political science, and other diverse fields, who claim that where Muslim intolerance and violence are concerned, nothing is ever what it seems. Above all, these experts claim that one can’t take Islamists and jihadists at their word: Their incessant declarations about God, paradise, martyrdom, and the evils of apostasy are nothing more than a mask concealing their real motivations. What are their real motivations [according to these experts]?
Insert here the most abject hopes and projections of secular liberalism: How would you feel if Western imperialists and their mapmakers had divided your lands, stolen your oil, and humiliated your proud culture? Devout Muslims merely want what everyone wants—political and economic security, a piece of land to call home, good schools for their children, a little leisure to enjoy the company of friends. Unfortunately, most of my fellow liberals appear to believe this. In fact, to not accept this obscurantism as a deep insight into human nature and immediately avert one’s eyes from the teachings of Islam is considered a form of bigotry.
Harris has put his finger on a mistake that too many in the West, whether you call it psychological projection or not make, namely, the mistake of assuming that everyone, deep down, cherishes the same values and has the same motivations. This mistake is one of the planks in the platform of political correctness.
And as we should have learned by now, political correctness can get you killed.
What's the reasoning behind Obama's statement? Perhaps this:
1. All religions are good. 2. Islam is a religion Ergo 3. Islam is good 4. ISIL is not good. Ergo 5. ISIL is not Islamic.
This little argument illustrates how one can reason correctly from false/dubious premises.
Are all religions good? Suppose we agree that a religion is good if its contribution to human flourishing outweighs its contribution to the opposite. Then it is not at all clear that Islam is good. For while it has improved the lives of some in some respects, on balance it has not contributed to human flourishing. It is partly responsible for the long-standing inanition of the lands it dominates and it is the major source of terrorism in the world today. It is an inferior religion, the worst of the great religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam). Schopenhauer is surely right that it is the "saddest and poorest form of theism." See article below. Its conception of the afterlife is the crudest imaginable. Its God is pure will . See Benedict's Regensburg Speech. It is a violent religion scarcely distinguishable from a violent political ideology. Its prophet was a warrior. It is impervious to any correction or enlightening or chastening from the side of philosophy. There is no real philosophy in the Muslim world to speak of. Tiny Israel in the 66 years of its existence has produced vastly more real philosophy than the whole of the Muslim world in the last 400 years.
So it is not the case that all religions are good. Some are, some are not. This is a balanced view that rejects the extremes of 'All religions are good' and 'No religions are good.'
. . . if Islam is intrinsically flawed, then the assumption that religion is basically a good thing would have to be revisited. That, in turn, might lead to a more aggressive questioning of Christianity. Accordingly, some Church leaders seem to have adopted a circle-the-wagons mentality—with Islam included as part of the wagon train. In other words, an attack on one religion is considered an attack on all: if they come for the imams, then, before you know it, they’ll be coming for the bishops. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn’t provide for the possibility that the imams will be the ones coming for the bishops.
Note that the following argument is invalid:
6. Islam is intrinsically flawed 2. Islam is a religion Ergo 7. All religions are intrinsically flawed.
So if you hold that Islam is intrnsically flawed you are not logically committed to holding that all religions are. Still, Kilpatrick's reasoning may be a correct explanation of why some want to maintain that all religions are good. Kilpatrick continues (emphasis added):
In addition to fears about the secular world declaring open season on all religions, bishops have other reasons to paint a friendly face on Islam. It’s not just the religion-is-a-good-thing narrative that’s at stake. Other, interconnected narratives could also be called into question.
One of these narratives is that immigration is a good thing that ought to be welcomed by all good Christians. Typically, opposition to immigration is presented as nothing short of sinful. [. . .]
But liberal immigration policies have had unforeseen consequences that now put (or ought to put) its proponents on the defensive. In Europe, the unintended consequences (some critics contend that they were fully intended) of mass immigration are quite sobering. It looks very much like Islam will become, in the not-so-distant future, the dominant force in many European states and in the UK as well. If this seems unlikely, keep in mind that, historically, Muslims have never needed the advantage of being a majority in order to impose their will on non-Muslim societies. And once Islamization becomes a fact, it is entirely possible that the barbarities being visited on Christians in Iraq could be visited on Christians in Europe. Or, as the archbishop of Mosul puts it, “If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”
If that ever happens, the bishops (not all of them, of course) will bear some of the responsibility for having encouraged the immigration inflow that is making Islamization a growing threat. Thus, when a Western bishop feels compelled to tell us that Islamic violence has “nothing to do with real Islam,” it’s possible that he is hoping to reassure us that the massive immigration he has endorsed is nothing to worry about and will never result in the imposition of sharia law and/or a caliphate. He’s not just defending Islam, he’s defending a policy stance with possibly ruinous consequences for the West.
Of course, presidents and prime ministers say the same sorts of things about Islam. President Obama recently assured the world that “ISIL speaks for no religion,” Prime Minister David Cameron said that the extremists “pervert the Islamic faith,” and UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond asserted that the Islamic State “goes against the most basic beliefs of Islam.” They say these things for reasons of strategy and because they also have a narrative or two to protect. In fact, the narratives are essentially the same as those held by the bishops—religion is good, diversity is our strength, and immigration is enriching.
Since they are actually involved in setting policy, the presidents, prime ministers, and party leaders bear a greater responsibility than do the bishops for the consequences when their naïve narratives are enacted into law. Still, one has to wonder why, in so many cases, the bishop’s narratives are little more than an echo of the secular-political ones. It’s more than slightly worrisome when the policy prescriptions of the bishops so often align with the policies of Obama, Cameron, and company.
Many theologians believe that the Church should have a “preferential option for the poor,” but it’s not a good sign when the bishops seem to have a preferential option for whatever narrative stance the elites are currently taking on contested issues (issues of sexual ethics excepted). It’s particularly unnerving when the narratives about Islam and immigration subscribed to by so many bishops match up with those of secular leaders whose main allegiance is to the church of political expediency.
When the formulas you fall back on are indistinguishable from those of leaders who are presiding over the decline and fall of Western civilization, it’s time for a reality check.
. . . if this pathetic piece can be believed. But it so reads like a parody of POMO rhetoric that it negates itself. The writer is an alumna of the UC Boulder Philosophy Department. One hopes that she is not representative of the sort of graduate the department 'produces.' If she is, then perhaps here is the real indictment of said department.
Wes Morriston, recently retired after 42 years of service to the department and the university, responds here.
His response is rational and fact-based. But one wonders about the efficacy of responding in such a way to a delusional screed. It is like responding rationally to someone who accuses you of being a racist for pointing out certain truths the subject matter of which is race. Recent example: Bruce Levenson's 'racist' e-mail.
More on the Boulder witch hunt in my Feminism category. Note the ambiguity of 'witch hunt.' Are witches the hunted or the hunters?
When Robert Paul Wolff strays from the 'reservation' of Good Sense and floats up to Cloud Cuckoo Land* I refer to him as 'Howlin' Wolff.' The man is quite a study, a representative specimen of the species, academic leftist. When I criticize him, there is nothing personal about it: it is the species, not this particular specimen that is the cynosure of my interest. The way to study a species is via representative specimens.
Some of Wolff's posts at The Stoned PhilosopherThe Philosopher's Stone are outstanding and I agree with them in toto. But others are just loony. And the good professor seems unaware of just how crazy and irresponsible they are. The man is 80, but not demented as far as I can tell. But he is a lifelong lefty, having first drunk the Kool-Aid at the Sunnyside Progressive School, a "red diaper operation," as he himself characterizes it.
I'm not sure you youngsters know just how hard it is for me to keep writing light, amusing things on this blog while the world around me is going to hell. There is so much to be angry about -- legitimately morally outraged -- at home and abroad that I can scarcely get through the day without encountering six or seven reasons to despair. [. . .] I am talking about genuine man-made evils . . . . Sometimes they spring from religion, such as the barbarism of ISIS or the oppression of the Palestinians. Sometimes they are rooted in bureaucratically entrenched racism, like the murder of Michael Brown. Often they are grounded in the very structure of our political economy, like the obscene inequalities of wealth and income.
1. The most outrageous and irresponsible of Wolff's claims above is that Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was murdered. We know that Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. But as Wolff knows, to kill is not the same as to murder. If A murders B, then A kills B. But if A kills B, it does not follow that A murders B. There is more to murder than killing. Murder is wrongful killing. Of course Wolff knows that. He also knows that a legal verdict of murder comes only at the end of a criminal proceeding. But unless I have missed something, Officer Wilson has yet to be even indicted. First comes the indictment, then the trial, then the verdict, then the sentence (if the defendant is found guilty). Wolff is well aware of all this too.
Wolff's groundless and inflammatory accusation is yet another illustration of the tendency of contemporary liberals and leftists to jump to the defense of the (perceived) underdog regardless of the facts of the particular case and regardless of who is right and who is wrong. It's as if the underdog occupies the high moral ground just in virue of being the underdog. It's as if the weaker of the agents party to a conflict is morally superior to the stronger just because he is the weaker. Some think that might makes right. Lefties seem to think that mightlessness makes right. Such is the moral obtuseness of leftists.
We know that Brown is a thug from the videotape of his stealing from the convenience store and his roughing up of its proprietor. Videotape has the anti-Obama property: it doesn't lie. Wolff must have seen the footage. Apparently, it didn't faze him.
Of course, I am not saying that the kid's being a thief entitled the cop to shoot him, even if the cop knew, which presumably he didn't, that the kid had stolen from the store. But if Brown initiated an altercation with the cop after the cop issued the reasonable command to get out of the street, and tried to wrest the cop's gun away from him, as some reports indicate, then everything changes. He is no longer an 'unarmed teenager' but a potentially armed assailant. But we don't know all the facts, and Wolff has no grounds for jumping to the conclusion that the shooting of the boy was wrongful. Again, that is just the typical knee-jerk leftist defense of the underdog qua underdog.
But I suppose one shouldn't be surprised by Wolff's take on the Michael Brown affair given his utterly absurd reaction to the Trayvon Martin case.
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.
2. We are told that the barbarism of ISIS springs from religion. Not from Islam, or from radical Islam, or from Islam hijacked by cynical manipulators, but from religion. All religions are the same and they are all equally bad. Beneath refutation. More Marxist Kool-Aid, or to turn the Marxist opiate trope on its head: the real dope is the Marxist dope:
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions. (Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right)
3. The oppression of the Palestinians? Again that is just reflexive, as opposed to reflective, defense of the underdog qua underdog as if the relative weakness of the Hams terrorists and the Gazans who support them justifies their atrocities and condemn's the IDF's defensive operations. But we've been over this ground before. See Why Sam Harris Doesn't Criticize Israel.
* A translation of Schopenhauer's delightful Wolkenkuckkuckheim.
Herein are enunciated a number of important truths that few these days have the courage to express. Mr. Pollack concludes:
These commonsense truths are the basis of the widely accepted idea that indigenous societies have a fundamental right to defend and preserve the cultural and demographic integrity of their homelands. Nobody in the liberal West imagines, for example, that the forcible settlement of Han Chinese in Tibet, and the ongoing displacement of traditional Tibetan culture, is conducive to the happiness of the Tibetans.
There is a curious blindness, however, on the part of the educated elites of the liberal West to acknowledge that these obvious principles, the generality of which should be entirely and uncontroversially self-evident to anyone of sound mind, might in fact apply to Western peoples and homelands. Can any person not a child or an imbecile look at, for example, Britain, Sweden, France, or the Netherlands and seriously imagine that the native people of these countries are happier (or freer) now, after decades of mass immigration of Muslims and other non-Europeans, than they were when the populations of these nations were almost exclusively British, Swedish, French, and Dutch? Can anyone even begin to think such a thing is actually true?
Via Malcolm Pollack's recent entry commenting on the Rotherham, England sex slave scandal, here are a couple of formulations of Lawrence Auster's First Law of Majority-Minority Relations in a Liberal Society:
The more egregiously any non-Western or non-white group behaves, the more evil whites are made to appear for noticing and drawing rational conclusions about that group’s bad behavior. (source)
The more troublesome, unassimilable, or dangerous a designated minority or non-Western group actually is, the more favorably it is treated. This undeserved favorable treatment of a troublesome or misbehaving group can take numerous forms, including celebrating the group, giving the group greater rights and privileges, covering up the group’s crimes and dysfunctions, attacking the group’s critics as racists, and blaming the group’s bad behavior on white racism.
For clarity and generality I would rewrite the first formulation as follows:
The more egregiously any non-Western or non-white group or individual behaves, the more whites are made to appear evil for noticing and drawing rational conclusions about that group’s or individual's bad behavior.
At Auster's site you will find many examples in illustration of his First Law. The recent Ted Robinson incident is another. The story is here:
The 49ers have suspended radio broadcaster Ted Robinson two games for comments he made regarding domestic violence on KNBR on Monday afternoon.
In discussing the controversy regarding former Ravens running back Ray Rice, Robinson said the victim, Rice’s wife, Janay, bore some of the responsibility for not speaking up after she was knocked unconscious by her then-fiancee.
“That, to me, is the saddest part of it,” Robinson said.
Robinson also said her decision to marry Rice after she was assaulted was “pathetic.”
Robinson was punished for "noticing and drawing rational conclusions" about this case. Obviously, you are pathetic if you marry a man who has knocked you unconscious. You are pathetic, foolish, and uninterested in your own long-term happiness. A man who has the power to kill you with one blow and has revealed his character by landing such a blow is obviously not a good marital prospect. As I have said many times, if you want to gamble, go right ahead and gamble with money you can afford to lose; but you are a fool if you gamble with your happiness. Besides, if you reward such a man by marrying him, you set a bad example for other women and encourage the man to do it again. One has a moral obligation not to aid and abet criminal behavior.
Suppose what I said is obvious is not obvious to you. That doesn't change the fact that Robinson has a right to express his opinion. If you have any common sense you will agree that what Robinson said is correct. Correct or not, he has a right to state his view. After all, he is a broadcaster and a commentator. (Of course, this right is not a First Amendment right; what sort of right it is would make for an interesting discussion.)
Was there anything 'racist' about what Robinson said? Obviously not. Race doesn't come into it at all. It is foolish to marry a man who pounds on you. That's true for white couples, black couples, and interracial couples. Remember Nicole Brown Simpson? O. J. pounded on her, but she stood by her man until she couldn't stand any more because she was lying in a pool of blood.
So what we have here in the Robinson incident is one more of many instances of mass race delusion.
It is a funny world. A man who claims to be white called me a racist because of my post, Self-Control and Respect for Authority. I ignored him, my policy being that scurrilous attacks from unknowns are ignored (and they are read only up to the point where the scurrilousness manifests itself). Scurrilous attacks from known cyberpunks like Brian Leiter, the academic gossip-monger, however, cannot go unanswered.
As I said, it is a funny world. The day before the attack by the unknown, Professor Laurence Thomas, Professor in the Department of Philosophy and in the Department of Political Science in the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, sent me this:
Dear Dr. Vallicella:
I write to thank you for having the courage to be ever so forthright. That is trait that I so very much admire. I do not claim that I agree with all that you say. But I do claim that I have learnt so very much as a result of reflecting upon your ideas. There is profound agreement between us is with respect to the following remarks by you:
There is no decency on the Left, no wisdom, and, increasingly, no sanity. For example, the crazy comparison of Trayvon Martin with Emmett Till. But perhaps I should put the point disjunctively: you are either crazy if you make that comparison, or moral scum. You are moral scum if you wittingly make a statement that is highly inflammatory and yet absurdly false.
Indeed, the two cases are quite unalike even if one holds that a wrong was done in each instance—a view that I unequivocally do not hold. Indeed, when I looked up the Emmett Till case, upon hearing that the Martin case was analogous to it, my very first thought was that there is simply no comparison between the two cases. And that is exactly where I continue to stand. Holding that the two cases are analogous bespeaks a horrendous level of moral depravity. There is simply no way in which the killing of Till can be characterized as self-defense by those who killed him; whereas it is manifestly obvious that it was out of self- defense that Zimmerman drew his gun and shot Martin. And the rush to characterize Zimmerman as a racist was simply stupefying given his very rich history of blacks. [Prof. Thomas is referring to Zimmerman's black ancestry. See here.]
People have noted that Zimmerman’s behavior has been more than a little erratic since the court ruling in his favor. It is stunning to me that people cannot make sense of why that is so, given the horrendous attitude of so many people who claim to be ever so committed to justice. A former student of mine recently brought to my attention your essay “Self-Control and Respect for Authority”. And once again, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Whenever I approach a police officer while I am walking, I display a simple measure of deference. That is how I behave regardless of the ethnicity of the officer. And never in my life has any police officer made the presumption that I might have committed a wrongdoing, although given my physical features there can no doubt whatsoever that I am a black person.
So I bear witness to the reality that being black is not at all a sufficient condition to raise a policeman’s concern about one’s behavior even if the police officer is white. Am I servile? Absolutely not. But having a deep, deep sense of self-respect is perfectly compatible with showing all sorts of people, including police officers a measure of respect, just as giving one’s seat to a pregnant woman who boards a crowded metro train is perfectly compatible with having a deep sense of self-respect. There is no incompatibility at all between have full measure of self-respect and yet showing others respect, be they law officers or “ordinary” citizens. I typically refer to myself as a radical conservative. Quite simply, my radical view is that acting responsibly is a gift that we give to ourselves. What is more, I hold that we should act responsibly even if we have been the victims of wrongful behavior in the past. It is utterly horrendous to hold that having been the object of wrongdoing constitutes an excuse to do what undermines one’s own sense of worth. I have gone on long enough. I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful remarks over the years. And while I have not left academia, I can indeed understand why you have done so. Be well and flourish, sir.
Recently I have been pinching myself a lot, figuratively speaking, to see if I am awake and not dreaming all the delusional race nonsense I keep hearing about. Herewith, a very recent example.
Bruce Levenson, owner of the Atlanta Hawks, sold his controlling interest in the NBA franchise because of this piece of 'racist' e-mail that he very foolishly sent in naive ignorance of the climate of the country. I excerpt the 'offensive' part, bad writing, bad punctuation and all. Emphasis added.
Regarding game ops [operations?], i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn't much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off [went on?]. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can't get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs [tickets] and they are the primary demo [demographic] for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:
-- it's 70 pct black -- the cheerleaders are black -- the music is hip hop -- at the bars it's 90 pct black -- there are few fathers and sons at the games -- we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.
Then i start looking around at other arenas. It is completely different. Even DC with its affluent black community never has more than 15 pct black audience.
Before we bought the hawks and for those couple years immediately after in an effort to make the arena look full (at the nba's urging) thousands and thousands of tickets were being giving away, predominantly in the black community, adding to the overwhelming black audience.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean [arena] back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don't know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.
Now could any reasonable person, as opposed to a person in the grip of a delusion, take offence at any of this? Of course not. Levenson is a business man who is offering an explanation of why ticket sales are low. His explanation is two-fold. First, the black crowd scares away the southern whites who are uncomfortable with being in a minority and who do not enjoy black entertainment (hip hop, all black cheerleaders) and do not want to be in a family-unfriendly environment (few fathers with sons). Second, there is a lack of affluent black fans.
Now whether or not Levenson's explanation is correct, it is surely plausible. But the main thing is that there is nothing racist about it. To report that certain whites are scared by certain blacks is to report a fact about the way those whites feel. It is not to imply that the whites are justified in feeling the way they do. Maybe they are and maybe they aren't.
The mistake that liberals (whether white or black) make is to confuse a racial explanation with a racist explanation.
It is a special case of the confusion of a racial statement (a statement whose subject-matter is race) with a racist statement. For example, the statement that blacks are 13-14% of the U. S. population is a racial statement, but not a racist statement. Capiche?
Suppose I state that men, on average, are taller than women, on average. Is that a hateful thing to say? Is it sexist or 'tallist'? Does it express a 'bias' that I need to overcome? Of course not, it is true.
Now here is another distinction that is probably wasted on a liberal. It is the distinction beween the content of an assertion and the asserting of that content. I see a man with no legs. His name is Joe Blow. I assert within earshot of Joe Blow, Joe Blow has no legs! The content of my assertion is true and unobjectionable. But my asserting of it in this context is morally objectionable and for obvious reasons. But in other contexts both the content and my asserting of it would be unobjectionable.
What is going on here? How do we explain the mass race delusion of liberals? Some possibilities:
Liberals are in general very stupid people who cannot think but only emote and associate.
Liberals are not, on average, any dumber than conservatives, but on certain topics they stupefy, or perhaps I should say enstupidate themselves consciously and willfully and in a way that makes them the just recipients of moral censure.
Liberals are not, on average, any dumber than conservatives, but on certain topics they stupefy, or perhaps I should say enstupidate themselves unconsciously -- they are infected with a PeeCee virus but are unaware of being infected.
UPDATE: A reader comments:
I don’t know if you saw it, but after the remarks came out Levenson stated that he’s not worthy of owning an NBA franchise. Now, I assume you know about the recent kerfuffle about Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers (another NBA team). He made some racial comments in a private conversation that were leaked to the broader world, and as a result was forced to sell his team.
That’s the background, and now a theory: Levenson did all of this as a trick to be forced to sell his team as profitably as possible. Because the league is forcing him to sell, they have to assure him of getting the price that an auditor deems it to be worth rather than what it would get in the real world. In other words, it may just a cynical trick to make more money/divest himself of what he perceives to be a bad investment.
The reader may have something here. Levenson's grovelling is suspicious. Businessmen in a position to buy a controlling interest in an NBA franchise tend to have big egos. One expects them to fight and not act the part of a pussy, especially when the accusations made against him are so palpably absurd.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
Radosh is rock-solid. A former lefty, he knows whereof he speaks. And of course leftists hate him mindlessly for his apostasy. Somebody ought to explore the connection between the attitudes of leftists and radical Islamists toward apostates.
In 1949, sociologist Jules Monnerot described communism as 20th century Islam. To which I add: radical Islam is the communism of the 21st century.
There is a lot of talk these days about white privilege. I don't believe I have discussed this topic before.
1. White privilege is presumably a type of privilege. What is a privilege? This is the logically prior question. To know what white privilege is we must first know what privilege is. Let's consider some definitions.
D1. A privilege is a special entitlement or immunity granted to a particular person or group of persons by the government or some other corporate entity such as a university or a church on a conditional basis.
Driving on public roads is a privilege by this definition. It is not a right one has just in virtue of being a human being or a citizen. It is a privilege the state grants on condition that one satisfy and continue to satisfy certain requirements pertaining to age, eyesight, driving skill, etc. Being a privilege, the license to drive can be revoked. By contrast, the right to life and the right to free speech are neither conditional nor granted by the government. They can't be revoked. Please don't confuse a constitutionally protected right such as the right to free speech with a right granted by the government.
Faculty members have various privileges, a franking privilege, a library privilege, along with such perquisites as an office, a carrel, secretarial help, access to an an exclusive dining facility, etc. Immunities are also privileges, e.g., the immunity to prosecution granted to a miscreant who agrees to inform on his cohorts.
Now if (D1) captures what we mean by 'privilege,' then it it is hard to see how there could be white privilege. Are there certain special entitlements and immunities that all and only whites have in virtue of being white, entitlements and immunities granted on a conditional basis by the government and revocable by said government? No. But there is black privilege by (D1). It is called affirmative action.
So if we adopt (D1) we get the curious result that there is no white privilege, but there is black privilege! Those who speak of white privilege as of something real and something to be aware of and opposed must therefore have a different definition of privilege in mind, perhaps the following:
D2. A privilege is any unearned benefit or advantage that only some people have in virtue of their identity. It needn't be granted by any corporate entity, nor need it be conditional. Aspects of identity that can afford privilege in this sense include race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, wealth, ability, or citizenship status.
People who speak of white privilege probably have something like (D2) in mind. The idea is that there are certain unearned advantages that accrue to whites just in virtue of their race, advantages that do not accrue to members of other races.
One question arises right here. What justifies the broadening of the term 'privilege' to cover any unearned benefit? If the term is used strictly, there is no white privilege. To speak of white privlege one has to engage in a semantic stretch. What justifies this stretch? Is it a legitimate stretch or a example of linguistic distortion? And what is the agenda behind it?
One thing to note about (D2) is that it leads to a proliferation of privileges. There will be as many privileges as there are unearned benefits possessed by some but not all. For example, there will be the 'privilege' of being right-handed since this is a minor advantage -- better to be right-handed than either left-handed or ambisinistrous -- and it is unearned and not possessed by everyone. And the same goes for being ambidexterous. I lack the 'privilege' of ambidexterity, being right-handed only, and so I am disadvantaged relative to the ambidexterous. But I am not as disadvantaged relative to the ambidexterous as the ambisinistrous. They are the worst off when it comes to handedness. Should they receive something like reparations for nature's niggardliness?
Now clearly all of us enjoy all sorts of unearned benefits. Tall men, of whatever race, have an unearned advantage over short men, as long as they are not too tall. In the USA at least it is better to be 6'1" rather than 4'11". (D2) therefore implies that there is a tallness privilege in some cultures. Is this a problem? Does justice demand that heights be equalized? And who will appoint and equalize the Procrustean equalizers? Or are the equalizers exempt from equalization? If so, this would be an immunity, hence a 'privilege,' a leftist privilege.
Blacks born in the post-war USA have an unearned advantage over both whites and blacks born in some other parts of the world. Blacks born into two-parent homes in the USA have an unearned advantage over blacks born into single-parent homes in the USA. Blacks born without birth defects have an unearned advantage over blacks born with birth defects. Many blacks born without birth defects have an unearned advantage over some whites born with birth defects. And so on.
If there is an advantage to being white, is this an advantage enjoyed by all whites? And if it is not shared by all whites, why should this advantage be called white privilege? Do 'poor white trash' share in white privilege? Wouldn't it be better to be born into a solid, middle-class two-parent black or Hispanic family than to be born into a 'poor white trash' family? Do rednecks and Southerners generally share in white privilege? It didn't seem to help Paula Deen very much.
What is the relation between white privilege and majority privilege? I grant that, ceteris paribus, it is better to be white than black in the USA at the present time. But how much of this advantage is due to whites' being a majority? When Hispanics become a majority in California, say, will there be talk of Hispanic privilege? Should Hispanics then start feeling guilty about their unearned advantage?
Here is an important question. Am I not entitled to my unearned benefits despite the fact that I have done nothing to earn them? My being tall is not my own doing, and I don't do much of anything besides staying alive to keep myself tall. I don't work at it in the way I work at improving my mind and work at maintaining my physical and fiscal fitness.
Suppose you are a black male born in the post-war USA into a middle-class, two-parent, loving home. You have all sorts of unearned benefits. Do you feel guilty because you have unearned benefits that a lot of 'poor white trash' lack? Should you feel guilty? Change the example slightly: you were born in London and have the unearned benefit of a British accent. You come to the States and are hired by CNN or FOX News, beating out white competitors, in large part because of that beautiful and charming accent. Do you 'check' your privilege or feel guilty about it? Does it bother you that a Southern accent is a definite disadvantage?
So those are some questions that come to mind when I think about white privilege. I'll end with a bit of analysis of an interesting quotation (from second article below):
Those of us who are white and male in the U.S. were born with significantly more chips to play the poker game of life than were people of color or women. Although our white, male status is a biological reality, the unearned benefits that our race and gender identity provides us are a social construction, that is—they are special perks granted by a white patriarchal society.
The second sentence is gibberish. Males are on average taller than females. Being tall is an unearned benefit, but surely it is no social construction. The very notion of social construction is dubious by itself. What does the phrase mean? Care to define it? It smacks of the fallacy of hypostatization. There is this entity called 'society' that constructs things? I am not saying the phrase 'social construction' cannot be given a coherent meaning; I'm just saying that I would like to know what that meaning is. Define it or drop it.
Perk? Isn't that what the coffee does -- or used to do back in the day? The word our 'professor' wants is 'perquisite.' As I suggested above, perquisites are privileges. So what the 'professor' is doing is conflating privileges with unearned benefits. That conflation needs to be either justified or dropped. We are told that these 'perks' are granted by a white patriarchal society? Smells like the fallacy of hypostatization again. Where can I find the group of people who collectvely decide to grant these special 'perks' to white people?
I could go on, but this is enough 'shovelling' for one day.
Leftists freely label poor whites as "redneck," "white trash," "trailer trash," and "hillbilly." At the same time that leftists toss around these racist and classist slurs, they are so sanctimonious they forbid anyone to pronounce the N word when reading Mark Twain aloud. President Bill Clinton's advisor James Carville succinctly summed up leftist contempt for poor whites in his memorable quote, "Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find."
[BV adds: Carville's remark was in reference to Paula Jones who had sued Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. Carville's innuendo was to the effect that Jones was a piece of 'trailer trash.']
The left's visceral hatred of poor whites overflowed like a broken sewer when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008. It would be impossible, and disturbing, to attempt to identify the single most offensive comment that leftists lobbed at Palin. One can report that attacks on Palin were so egregious that leftists themselves publicly begged that they cease; after all, they gave the left a bad name. The Reclusive Leftist blogged in 2009 that it was a "major shock" to discover "the extent to which so many self-described liberals actually despise working people." The Reclusive Leftist focuses on Vanity Fair journalist Henry Rollins. Rollins recommends that leftists "hate-fuck conservative women" and denounces Palin as a "small town hickoid" who can be bought off with a coupon to a meal at a chain restaurant.
[. . .]
6) I believe in God.
Read Marx and discover a mythology that is irreconcilable with any other narrative, including the Bible. Hang out in leftist internet environments, and you will discover a toxic bath of irrational hatred for the Judeo-Christian tradition. You will discover an alternate vocabulary in which Jesus is a "dead Jew on a stick" or a "zombie" and any belief is an arbitrary sham, the equivalent of a recently invented "flying spaghetti monster." You will discover historical revisionism that posits Nazism as a Christian denomination. You will discover a rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundation of Western Civilization and American concepts of individual rights and law. You will discover a nihilist void, the kind of vacuum of meaning that nature abhors and that, all too often, history fills with the worst totalitarian nightmares, the rough beast that slouches toward Bethlehem.
[Memo to BV: Write a series of posts exploring the common abyss of nihilism at the bottom of both militant Islam, the recent actions of Hamas being a prime instance of this, and at the bottom of leftism.]
Most of the advocates for open borders agitate from a position of criticism of the U.S. By that I mean we rarely hear La Raza activists explain why they want amnesties for millions of illegal aliens, at least in the sense of why millions have left Mexico to risk their lives to arrive in the U.S.
What is it about America that attracts patriotic Mexican nationals to abandon their own country en masse? That is not a rhetorical question, given much of the immigration debate is couched in critiques of the U.S. The pageantry of an open-borders demonstration is usually a spectacle of Mexican flags. How odd that almost no advocate ever says, “We want amnesty so that our kinsmen have a shot, as we have had a shot, at an independent judiciary, equality under the law, the rule of law, true democracy, free speech, protection of human rights, free-market capitalism, and protection of private property. For all that, millions risk their lives.” But instead there is either nothing, or a continual critique of the U.S. If we were to take a newly arrived illegal alien, and enroll him in a typical Chicano Studies course, he would logically wish to return across the border as soon as possible.
"An academic claims the Radio 4 programme’s regular discussions on soil purity and non-native species promote racial stereotypes." More proof of the willful stupidity of liberals and the alacrity with which they play the race card. (HT: London Karl)
Gardening puts me in mind of spades, as in Wittgenstein's remark, "My spade is turned." Did old Ludwig have a black servant who executed a turn? A linguistic turn perhaps, or perhaps a transcendental one?
My erudite readers will of course know that to which I allude, namely, paragraph 217 of Philosophical Investigations:
217. “How am I able to obey a rule?” – if this is not a question about causes, then it is about the justification for my following the rule in the way I do.
If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned. Then I am inclined to say: “This is simply what I do.”
I am coming reluctantly to the view that the onus probandi rests on liberals. If you self-identify as a liberal, then the burden is on you to show that you are not willfully stupid and morally obtuse.
In general, the liberal principle persists that when Arabs on the offense kill lots of Arabs it is normal, but when Jews in defense kill far fewer Arabs it is reprehensible. If Israel were weak, Hamas would do to it what ISIS is now doing to Christians, and the world would react to the rout and slaughter of the Jews with the indifference that it shows to Christians. Wait, it does that anyway.
I would add that to understand the Left you must understand that lefties typically leap to the defense of the perceived underdog regardless of what the underdog has done to deserve the treatment he receives. Right and wrong don't come into it. The relative weakness of the underdog is taken to justify his criminality while the decent people who defend themselves are urged, quite absurdly, to show restraint. The terrorist entity, Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, understands this, a fact that lends a bit of sanity to their otherwise insanely self-destructive attack on Israel. They seek the sympathy of the morally obtuse Left.
To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance, and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.
In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, Hamas’ depravity begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years which nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.
It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.
Rather than being what it began as, a “narrowly political strategy for living peacefully in a world of inexorably clashing comprehensive views of reality and the human good,” liberalism has for many become that comprehensive view of reality and the human good. Your neighbor’s ideas are no longer different. They are heretical. Liberalism could become the problem that it was intended to solve.
Left-wing bias at the NYT is nothing new, of course, but the following opening paragraph of a July 8th editorial is particularly egregious. But before I quote it, let me say that the problem is not that the editors have a point of view or even that it is a liberal-left point of view. The problem is their seeming inability, or rather unwillingness, to present a matter of controversy in a fair way. Here is the opening paragraph of Hobby Lobby's Disturbing Sequel:
The Supreme Court violated principles of religious liberty and women’s rights in last week’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which allowed owners of closely held, for-profit corporations (most companies in America) to impose their religious beliefs on workers by refusing to provide contraception coverage for employees with no co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. But for the court’s male justices, it didn’t seem to go far enough.
This is a good example of the sort of Orwellian mendacity we have come to expect from the Obama administration and its supporters in the mainstream media. War is peace. Slavery is freedom. A defense of religious liberty is a violation of religious liberty. Those who protest being forced by the government to violate their consciences and religious beliefs are imposing their religious beliefs. The Orwellian template: X, which is not Y, is Y.
Every statement in the opening paragraph of the NYT editorial is a lie. The 5-4 SCOTUS decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby defended principles of religious liberty. It did not violate any women's rights. Neither the right to an abortion nor the right to purchase any form of contraception were affected by the decision. The ACA mandate to provide contraceptives was not overturned but merely restricted so that Hobby Lobby would not be forced to provide four abortifacient contraceptives.
I won't say anything about the ridiculous insinuation in the last sentence, except that arguments don't have testicles.
Truth is not a value for the Left. Winning is what counts, by any means. They see politics as war, which is why they feel justified in their mendacity.
The quite narrow question the Supreme Court had to decide was whether closely held, for-profit corporations are persons under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act . "RFRA states that “[the] Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”3 (Ibid.)
If Hobby Lobby is forced by the government to provide abortifacients to its employees, and Hobby Lobby is a person in the eyes of the law, then the government's Affordable Care Act mandate is in violation of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. For it would substantially burden Hobby Lobby's proprietors' exercise of religion if they were forced to violate their own consciences by providing the means of what they believe to be murder to their employees. So the precise question that had to be decided was whether Hobby Lobby is a person in the eyes of the law. The question was NOT whether corporations are persons in the eyes of the law, as some benighted cmmentators seems to think.
Note also that the issue here is not constitutional but statutory: the issue has solely to do with the interpretation and application of a law, RFRA. As Alan Dershowitz explains (starting at 7:52), it has to do merely with the "construction of a statute."
In his latest NRO column, Spencer Case argues that "The feminist left is politicizing philosophy." I would add that this is but a special case of the general truth that the Left politicizes everything.
One of the purposes of this site is to combat the stupidity of Political Correctness, a stupidity that in many contemporary liberals, i.e., leftists, is willful and therefore morally censurable. The euphemism 'undocumented worker' is a good example of a PC expression. It does not require great logical acumen to see that 'undocumented worker' and 'illegal alien' are not coextensive expressions. The extension of a term is the class of things to which it applies. In the diagram below, let A be the class of illegal aliens, B the class of undocumented workers, and A^B the intersection of these two classes. All three regions in the diagram are non-empty, which shows that A and B are not coextensive, and so are not the same class. Since A and B are not the same class, 'undocumented worker' and 'illegal alien' do not have the same intension or meaning. Differing in both extension and intension, these expressions are not intersubstitutable.
To see why, note first that there are illegal aliens who are not workers since they are either petty criminals, or members of organizedcriminal gangs e.g., MS-13, some of whose members are illegal aliens, or terrorists, or too young to work, or unable to work. Note second that there are illegal aliens who have documents all right -- forged documents. Note third that there are undocumented workers who are not aliens: there are American citizens who work but without the legally requisite licenses and permits.
So the correct term is 'illegal alien.' It is descriptive and accurate and there is no reason why it should not be used.
Now will this little logical exercise convince a leftist to use language responsibly and stop obfuscating the issue? Of course not. Leftism in some of its forms is willfully embraced reality denial, and in other of its forms is a cognitive aberration, something like a mental illness, in need of therapy rather than refutation. In a longer post I would finesse the point by discussing the cognitive therapy of Stoic and neo-Stoic schools, which does include some logical refutation of unhealthy views and attitudes, but my rough-and-ready point stands: one cannot refute the sick. They need treatment and quarantine and those who go near them should employ appropriate prophylactics.
So why did I bother writing the above? Because there are people who have not yet succumbed to the PC malady and might benefit from a bit of logical prophylaxis. One can hope.
What follows is an old post from about ten years ago worth dusting off in the light of current events. If 'true' admits of degrees, what I say below is truer now than it was then. Just two of several current examples. Barack Obama, the most Left-leaning president in U. S. history, traded Bowe Bergdahl for five of the worst Gitmo terrorists. Was that a prudent thing to do? Only someone who is blind to a clear and present danger could do something so utterly irresponsible. The second example is the Iraq pullout, the effect of which, whether intended or not, is to make the whole region safe for ISIS. Anyone with his head screwed on right would have seen that coming. But not a leftist insensitive to danger. I could go on, the Southern border . . . .
Conservatives take a sober view of human nature. They admit and celebrate the human capacity for good, but cannot bring themselves to ignore the practically limitless human capacity for evil. They cannot dismiss the lessons of history, especially the awful lessons of the 20th century, the lessons of Gulag and Vernichtungslager. They know that evil is not a contingent blemish that can be isolated and removed, but has ineradicable roots reaching deep into human nature. The fantasies of Rousseau and Marx get no grip on them. Conservatives know that it is not the state, or society, or institutions that corrupt human beings, but that it is the logically antecedent corruption of human nature that makes necessary state, social, and institutional controls. The timber of humanity is inherently and irremediably crooked; it was not first warped by state, social, or institutional forces, and cannot be straightened by any modification or elimination of these forces.
I used the word 'know' a couple of times, which may sound tendentious. How do conservatives know that evil is not a contingent blemish, or that human beings are so fundamentally flawed that no human effort can usher in utopia?
They know this from experience. But although experience teaches us what is the case, and what has been the case, does it teach what must be the case? Here the lefties may have wiggle room. They can argue that failure to achieve a perfect society does not conclusively show that a perfect society cannot be achieved. This is true. But repeated failures add up to a strong inductive case. And these failures have been costly indeed. The Communists murdered an estimated 100 million in their social experiments. They did not hesitate to break eggs on a massive scale in quest of an omelet that never materialized. They threw out 'bourgeois' morality, but this did not lead to some higher morality but to utter barbarity.
I would also argue that experience can sometimes teach us what must be the case. We have a posteriori knowledge of the essential (as opposed to accidental) properties of some things. These are tough epistemological questions that I mention here only to set aside.
The main point I want to make is that the Left is insensitive to danger because of its Pollyannish view of human beings as intrinsically good. Leftists tend to downplay serious threats. They are blind to the radical evil in human nature. This attitude is betrayed by their obfuscatory use of the phrase 'Red Scare'to the very real menace the USSR posed to the USA in the 1950's and beyond. It wasn't that conservatives were scared, but that the Soviets were making threats. This is now particularly clear from the Venona decrypts, the Mitrokhin archives, and other sources. I especially recommend reading Ronald Radosh on the Rosenberg case.
The Left's insensitivity to danger is also betrayed by their attitude toward the present Islamo-terrorist threat. They just can't seem to take it seriously, as witness their incessant complaining about the dangers to civil liberties after the 9/11/01 attacks. There is something deeply perverse about their attitude. They must realize that a liberty worth wanting requires security as a precondition. See my Liberty and Security for an exfoliation of this idea. But if they grasp this, why the unreasonable and excessive harping on individual liberties in a time of national peril? Don't they understand that theliberties we all cherish are worthless to one who is being crushed beneath a pile of burning rubble? How could Katrina van den Heuvel on C-Span the other day refer to Bush's playing of the 'terror card'? Such talk is border-line delusional.
It is as if they think that conservatives want to curtail civil liberties, and have seized upon the 9/11 attacks to have an excuse to do so. In the lunatic world of the leftist a conservative is a 'fascist' -- to use their favorite term of abuse. This is absurd: it is precisely conservatives who aim to conserve civil liberties, including the politically incorrect ones such as gun rights.
Terrorists and the rogue states that sponsor them pose a very real threat to our security, and this threat must be faced and countered even if it requires a temporary abridgement of certain liberties. Thatis what happens in war time. Leftists ought to admit that it is precisely their insensitivity to the threat posed by such Islamo-terrorists as Osama bin Laden that led to the 9/11 attacks in the first place. If a proper response had been made to the 1993 World Trade Tower attack, the 2001 attack might never have occurred. We were attacked because we were perceived as weak and decadent, and we were perceived as weak and decadent because leftists in the government failed to take seriously the terrorist threat.
It must be realized that liberty without security is worthless. Genuine liberty is liberty within a stable social and political order. I may have the liberty to leave my house any time of the day or night, but such a liberty is meaningless if I get mugged the minute I step out my door. So if the Left were really serious about liberty, it would demand adequate security measures.
But, while David has never aspired to put the world right by philosophy, the world for its part has not been equally willing to let him and philosophy alone in return. Quite the reverse. His tenure of the Chair turned out to coincide with an enormous attack on philosophy, and on humanistic learning in general: an attack which has proved to be almost as successful as it was unprecedented.
This attack was begun, as everyone knows, by Marxists, in support of North Vietnam’s attempt to extend the blessings of communism to the south. The resulting Marxisation of the Faculty of Arts was by no means as complete as the resulting Marxisation of South Vietnam. But the wound inflicted on humanistic learning was a very severe one all the same. You could properly compare it to a person’s suffering third-degree burns to 35 per cent of his body.
After the defeat of America in Vietnam, the attack was renewed, amplified, and intensified, by feminists. Their attack has proved far more devastating than that of the Marxists. Lenin once said, “If we go, we shall slam the door on an empty house”; and how well this pleasant promise has been kept by the Russian Marxists, all the world now knows. It is in exactly the same spirit of insane malignancy that feminists have waged their war on humanistic learning; and their degree of success has fallen not much short of Lenin’s. Of the many hundreds of courses offered to Arts undergraduates in this university, what proportion, I wonder, are now not made culturally-destructive, as well as intellectually null, by feminist malignancy and madness? One-third? I would love to believe that the figure is so high. But I cannot believe it.
David did all that he could have done, given the limits set by his position and his personality, to repel this attack. Of course he failed; but then, no one could have succeeded. What he did achieve was a certain amount of damage-limitation. Even this was confined to the philosophy-section of the front. On the Faculty of Arts as a whole, David has had no influence at all—to put it mildly. In fact, when he spoke at a meeting of the Faculty, even on subjects unrelated to the attack, you could always have cut the atmosphere with a knife. It is a curious matter, this: the various ways inferior people have, of indirectly acknowledging the superiority of others, even where no such acknowledgment is at all intended by the inferior, or expected by the superior.
By the end of 1972, the situation in the philosophy department had become so bad that the splitting of the department into two was the only way in which philosophy at this university could be kept alive at all. In this development, David was the leading spirit, as his position and personality made it natural he should be. Of course he did not do it on his own. Pat Trifonoff’s intelligence and character made her an important agent in it. Keith Campbell’s adhesion to our side, after some hesitation, was a critical moment. But while I and certain others were only casting about for some avenue of escape, David never gave up. He battled on, and battled on again, and always exacted the best terms, however bad, that could be got from the enemies of philosophy.
The result of the split was far more happy than could have been rationally predicted at the time. In fact it was a fitting reward for David’s courage and tenacity. For the first twenty years of the new Department of Traditional and Modern Philosophy have been fertile in good philosophy, to a degree unparalleled in any similar period in this or any other Australian university. The department has also enjoyed a rare freedom from internal disharmony. As I have often said, it is the best club in the world, and to be or have been a member of it is a pleasure as well as a privilege.
There will certainly be no adequate official acknowledgment, from anyone inside the university, of what is owed to David. What could someone like the present Vice-Chancellor possibly care about the survival of humanistic learning, or even know about philosophy, or history, or literature? Anyone who did would never have got a Vice-Chancellor’s job in the first place. If there is any acknowledgment forthcoming from the Faculty of Arts, David will be able to estimate the sincerity of it well enough. It will be a case of people, who smiled as they watched him nearly drowning in the boiling surf of 1967–72, telling him how glad they were when, against all probability, he managed to make it to the beach.
But anyone who does know and care about philosophy, or does care about the survival of humanistic learning, will feel towards him something like the degree of gratitude which they ought to feel.
I have often pointed out that there is nothing liberal about contemporary 'liberals.' Kim R. Holmes' Intolerance as Illiberalism is well worth your time. Excerpt:
Hard illiberalism, however, is not the only variant. There are “soft” versions too. They often appear “liberal” and even operate inside democratic systems otherwise committed to the rule of law. But their core idea is that liberal democracy and the constitutional rule of law are insufficient to bring about absolute equality.
It is this form of illiberalism that is gaining traction in America today. It comes in many guises and varying degrees of intensity. It is a campus official countenancing “trigger warnings” and speech codes that censor free speech and suppress debate. It is a radio host shouting that he hopes employees of the National Security Agency get cancer and die. It is politicians and government officials who bend the rules, launch investigations, overturn laws, criminalize so-called “hate” speech, and stretch the meaning of the Constitution to impose their views on Americans. It is the mindset of “us versus them” that leads government officials such as New York’s governor to say that there is “no place in the state of New York” for “extreme conservatives”— by which he meant not fringe or violent groups but anyone who opposes abortion or the redefinition of marriage. And it is the idea that constitutional limits, individual rights, and even due process can be ignored in the “greater” cause of creating income equality.
These people have become not merely intolerant but fundamentally illiberal.
Illiberalism is not just about government denying people the right of free expression and equality before the law. It is also about controlling how people think and behave. It is a threat both to our democratic system of government and to the “liberal” political culture.
Leftists are not concerned with the truth, but with the 'narrative.' The latter concern is animated by the will to power, not the will to truth, a fact that explains what otherwise would be hard to explain, namely, why certain leftists are enamoured of Nietzsche. Here are the liberal narratives with respect to Bergdahl, Benghazi, IRS, Obamacare, VA, and illegal immigration. Excerpt:
For the Obama administration narrative to be accurate about the swap of five Taliban/al-Qaeda-related kingpins for Sgt. Bergdahl, we are asked to believe the following:
1. Sgt. Bergdahl was in ill health; thus the need for alacrity. Surely we will expect to see him in an enfeebled state on his return to the U.S.
2. Sgt. Bergdahl was in grave and sudden danger from his captors; thus the need for alacrity. We expect to see proof of that on his return to the U.S.
3. The five Taliban detainees will be under guard in Qatar for a year. We expect in June 2015 to know that they are still there in Qatar.
5. Sgt. Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” We expect to have confirmation of that fact once his intelligence file is released and more evidence is adduced that all of his platoon-mates were wrong (or perhaps vindictive and partisan) in stating that he voluntarily left their unit — deserted — to meet up with the Taliban.
6. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured on the “field of battle”; we expect to have confirmation that he was taken unwillingly by the enemy amid a clash of arms.
7. Sgt. Bergdahl was not a collaborator. We expect to learn confirmation of the fact that he did not disclose information to his captors.
8. Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers in his platoon are either partisan operatives or sorely misinformed, and we will shortly learn that their accounts of Bergdahl’s disappearance were erroneous.
9. The U.S. has traditionally negotiated to bring home even deserters, and did so frequently, for example, both during and after the Korean War when GIs crossed into North Korea.
I have already reported on Brian Leiter's initial unprovoked attack on me. After that 2004 attack, which I chose to ignore, he got in a jab or two which I also ignored, until just the other day when he let loose again with an unprovoked attack. Then I realized that for my own peace of mind, and to teach him a lesson, and to defend all the others, including graduate students, the untenured, and those who are tenured but do not relish the prospect of being slimed by him, that I must mount a defense.
I conclude my self-defense today.
It must be borne in mind that I never launched an unprovoked attack upon him. I am defending myself and others against his attacks. I am giving him a taste of his own medicine, or rather, poison, so that maybe some day he will see that there is no percentage in his brand of scumbaggery. Of course, one cannot appeal morally to a morally obtuse leftist for whom the end justifies the means and bourgeois morality is buncombe, a person who demonizes his opponents and whose modus operandi is the ad hominem.
It would do no good to write to him and say, "Sir, you have attacked me personally and viciously, out of the blue, even though you don't know me at all, when I have done nothing to you, and only because I hold ideas with which you disagree. Doesn't that seem morally wrong to you? Don't you believe in free speech?"
That won't work with someone bereft of moral sense. One has to make a prudential appeal to his self-interest along the lines of: keep this up, buddy, and you will diminish your own status, which is apparently the main thing that concerns you. As a status-obsessed careerist, Leiter is enslaved to the opinions of others. So he must take care that he remains well thought of, at least by those who still think well of him.
This post will respond to Leiter's latest outburst. I will try to keep this brief.
What got Leiter's goat was the following sentence from my masthead:
Selected for The Times of London's 100 Best Blogs List (15 February 2009)
You see, for Leiter I am neither "competent" nor "successful" and so do not deserve any such minor honor as the one bestowed by The Times, even if I were in 100th place. A glance at my PhilPapers page, which lists 50 or so publications in Analysis, Nous, The Monist, etc. should put the question of competence to rest. If I am incompetent, then all those referees and editors must be mighty incompetent to have given me their positive evaluations. Am I successful? Well, I got a tenure-track job right out of graduate school, was awarded tenure, and was invited to teach at Case Western Reserve University for two years as a full-time Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy. I have been awarded four National Endowment for the Humanities grants. And so on. Is that success or failure? After my stint at Case Western Reserve I decided to live the life of an independent philosopher.
It is at this point, presumably, that I went from success to failure in the eyes of the illustrious Leiter. You see, someone as spiritually vacant and given to psychological projection as Leiter cannot comprehend how anyone could not value the trappings and bagatelles, the privileges and perquisites, that he values. If one is not a professor of philosophy, he thinks, one is not a real philosopher. I wonder what Leiter would say about Spinoza and plenty of others, not to mention his hero, Nietzsche. The point is obvious. I needn't go on. Leiter is a shallow and vain man, a grasping and ambitious man, and is widely regarded with disdain in philosophical and legal circles.
At the end of his post, he relates something he got from one of his sycophants:
. . . after teaching at the University of Dayton from 1978-1991, he took a leave of absence because his wife, who teaches art education, got a job at Arizona State University. Unsurprisingly, he could not get another job, and so he simply left academia to follow his wife. The only amusing irony here is that our raving right-wing, racist lunatic appears to be basically a "house husband"!
Here is the truth. I taught at the University of Dayton from 1978 to 1989. Then I took a leave from U. D. and, having been invited, I taught as a Visiting Associate Professor Philosophy at Case Western Reserve University. Now for a long time I had dreamed of becoming an independent philosopher who could devote all his time to his philosophical and spiritual pursuits. Of course, I cannot expect a superficial climber like the Ladderman, who cannot imagine anything higher than being an academic functionary, to understand any of this.
My wife and I both had tenured positions in Ohio, in Cleveland and Dayton, respectively, the distance between the two being roughly 220 miles. So we had a long-distance marriage going for quite a number of years. The solution came when she was offered a great position at ASU. She had me make the decision, and I decided that we should move to the beautiful state of Arizona. Being a very frugal man who had saved and invested a lot of money, I decided to retire from teaching at age 41 and realize my dream. It was one of the best decisions I ever made and my life has been wonderful ever since.
Am I a racist? Of course not. The allegations of Leiter and his sycophant are pure slander. The playing of the race card is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It is a matter of public record that I owned and lived in a house in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, from 1986-1991, a city that is approximately 40% black. Interested in what someone really thinks? Look to their behavior, especially their monetary behavior.
Leiter says I called him an idiot and philosophically incompetent. Another lie on his part. My objection is a moral one: he launches vicious personal attacks on people because he disagrees wth their ideas. He does not respect the principle of toleration.
I do not consider him stupid, nor do I say that he is philosophically incompetent. I assume he is competent. My main objection to him is the he is a leftist thug who smears people because of their views. He has a right to his leftism, but not to his thuggishness.
A secondary objection, one which I would never have made had he not attacked me, is that Leiter is a status-obsessed careerist devoid of spiritual depth. Just as there is no wisdom and decency on the Left, there is no wisdom and decency in Brian Leiter. If there is, it is deeply buried. He should let it shine forth if it exists.
Addendum (9 June)
Frank Wilson at Books, Inq. writes (emphasis added):
Considering that Leiter's characteristic mode of operation is personal attack, it is rather amusing that he doesn't like such when it is directed at himself. In his latest on Bill Vallicella, he has this to say: "an obscure (and right-wing) British journalist with no knowledge of philosophy was asked to recommend 100 blogs in different areas, two of which he identified as philosophy blogs."
Well, this blog is also one of the hundred chosen, and the British journalist referred to is Bryan Appleyard, who is neither obscure nor particularly right-wing. Bryan in fact, didn't choose the 100 blogs himself. I sent Bryan an email when this blog was chosen to thank him and he wrote back that he had nothing to with the final pick. He just submitted a long list of various blogs to his editors. They looked at blogs on the list and made their choices.
So Leiter doesn't know what he's talking about. (I should have added that, from what I have observed, Bryan is quite philosophically fluent.)
I figure that in a week or so we should have the Leiter affair behind us. But there remain a number of lessons and insights to be learned from the Ladderman's bad behavior.
An Attack on Simon Critchley
Let me give you an example (supplied by a reader) of the sort of abuse in which Leiter engages. The trusted reader, an untenured philosophy professor, sent me this: "Leiter regularly attacks Simon Critchley with vitriol, as for example here (probably he was disappointed and enraged that he wasn't asked to moderate the NYT blog himself)."
Leiter describes Critchley as "a complete hack." I haven't read Critchley. But I just now found a popular piece of his in The Guardian, on Heidegger. Since I have published a half dozen articles in refereed philosophy journals on Heidegger, I know something about the German philosopher. What Critchley says here about Heidegger is accurate. 'Hack' denotes someone whose work is substandard and who works for purely mercenary reasons. So Critchley is not a hack, complete or incomplete.
Leiter's Modus Operandi
The attack on Critchley illustrates Leiter's M.O. First comes a highly disparaging label whose application to the target is dubious in the extreme. The target is a "noxious mediocrity" or a "complete hack." That's bad enough, but what makes it worse is that no evidence is provided of the applicability of the epithet. Note that I am not saying that no one is a hack, and I admit the possibility of a few complete hacks abroad in the land, though the qualifier 'complete' seriously limits the extension of the noun thus qualified. The point is that if you are going label someone in a disparaging way, then you had better provide some evidence. If I have tio explain why, then you are morally obtuse.
Finally, if the target responds in kind to the slur, Leiter acts as if an offense has been perpetrated against him.
Call it the Leiter Three-Step: trash your opponent; provide no evidence of your allegations; act offended when the opponent defends himself.
Why Leiter Feels Justified in Abusing Conservatives
There is a clue in the oft-made observation that conservatives think leftists are wrong, while leftists think conservatives are evil. Once Leiter decides that you are evil, then you are fair game: nothing you say need be objectively evaluated in terms of truth value or logical coherence. It suffices to point out that you are, say, "a crazed right-winger."
One could call it refutation by epithet. You are a sexist, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe, a homophobe, a racist, a bigot, not to mention intolerant.
Pointing out to a leftist that he is intolerant does no good. For he feels his intolerance to justified by the fact that you are evil. Surely the principle of toleration does not enjoin that we tolerate evil-doers!
My recent anti-Leiter posts may give new readers the impression that I am doing the same sort of thing he does, namely, hurling abuse and name-calling. Not so. He attacked me out of the blue in November of 2004, and I ignored him. But given his recent attack, it is time to supply the context of my recent responses to him, and to explain that I am engaged in a legitimate defense against an unprovoked series of attacks. My motive is to set the record straight, but also to defend the graduate students, the untenured, and others who fear to respond to Leiter's attacks on them.
It all started when I posted the following on the first version of MavPhil. The entry is dated 4 November 2004 and I reproduce it verbatim:
Theocracy and the Left
Nobody wants a theocracy in the U.S. except the Islamo-fascists, and they want it everywhere. The fear among some leftists that the re-election of G.W. Bush is moving us towards theocracy shows just how delusional their thinking is. The problem with leftists is not so much stupidity as their ideological fixations. The latter prevent their minds from functioning properly. They see threats that aren't there and fail to see the ones that are. They ignore the very real theocratic threat of militant Islam, all the while fabricating a Christian theocratic threat.
Hostility to religion, especially institutionalized religion, is a defining characteristic of the Left. We've known that since 1789. What is surprising, and truly bizarre, is the Left's going soft on militant Islam, the most virulent strain of religious bigotry ever to appear. It threatens all of their values. But their obsession with dissent is so great, dissent at all costs and against everything established, that they simply must denounce Bush and Co. as potential theocrats, all the while cozying up to militant Islam. Their hatred for Bush is so great that they will sacrifice their defining values just to oppose him. In their perversity, they think the enemy of their enemy is -- still their enemy.
The above post got Leiter's goat even though there is no reference to him and no link to his website. But being the sort of vain and self-centered fellow he is, he took it personally as directed against him in particular. So taking it, he replied with a personal attack on me in Paranoid Fantasies of the Right:
In keeping with my general policy of not linking to noxious mediocrities--who, experience has shown, crave any attention--I am just going to quote a posting that is interesting not because of who said it (though he purports to be a philosopher), but because of what it reveals about the right-wing mindset (it resonates with rhetoric one hears from Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and others of that slimy ilk). The author was reacting (badly, it appears) to my reference to Bush & co. as fascist theocrats. Our right-winger comments: [Leiter goes on to quote me.]
Note for starters the man's huge ego: he thinks I am responding to his post. Not so. Second, what I have to say is just "rhetoric" of the sort spewed by Sullivan, Hitchens "and others of that slimy ilk." The suggestion, of course, is that I am of the same ilk. Third, I "purport" to be a philosopher. The suggestion is that I represent myself as being a philosopher when I am not a real philosopher like Leiter. Leiter is a philosopher (in his own mind), while I merely purport to be one. We will have to consider the criteria for being a real philosopher in a separate post.
Fourth, I am one of those who "crave any attention." How could Leiter have known this? (We have never met.) I am an introvert, an INTP in the Myers-Briggs classification and such types do not "crave any attention." To the contrary. Note also how Leiter appears to be engaged in psychological projection: he most assuredly craves attention, he recognizes at some pre-conscious level that this is unacceptable and an indicator of immaturity, and so to prevent this realization on his part he projects the unacceptable attribute into others. Projection is a defense mechanism the purpose of which is to reduce anxiety. So in Leiter's view I am the one who craves attention, which is why my name cannot be mentioned or my site linked to. Having projected his craving into me, he alleviates the anxiety he subconsciously feels at being an attention whore. What's more, Leiter wouldn't want to give me what I "crave" and he wouldn't want any one to be influenced by ideas that are on Leiter's index idearum prohibitarum.
There is apparently a link between psychological projection and bullying, a link we may follow up in a separate post.
Fifth, I am a "noxious mediocrity." In one sense of the term, 'mediocre' is not a pejorative; it just means of average ability. But then we are both mediocrities in philosophy if we are held to a truly rigorous standard. Why then is one of us "noxious"? Because he is not the other? And then there is the question as to how Leiter could know that I am a mediocrity in philosophy. Has he studied any of my papers published in such journals as Analysis, Nous, Philosophy, History of Philosophy Quarterly, The Monist, Dialectica, and numerous others? Has Leiter published in any of these journals? Some of my papers are listed on my PhilPapers page.
To sum up. Leiter is a leftist ideologue first, and a philosopher second, if at all. Philosophy for him is but a means for the advancement of himself and his ideology. This explains the personal nature of his attack on me cited above. A good leftist, he seeks to destroy those who disagree with his ideas. It is all about power and it is all about winning. It is right out of Alinsky and the CP. Don't forget, PC is from the CP. You shout down your opponent; you ridicule him; but if the opponent replies in kind, then you protest that he is a hypocrite who doesn't live up to the standards he professes. Alinsky: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. Another rule of lefties: Always invoke the double standard: Treat your opponents like dirt but then protest the "sick viciousness" of a reply in kind.
I'll end with part of an e-mail from a young philosophy professor:
I hope that you are wearing Leiter's attack on you as a true badge of honor. The fact that Leiter deems you worthy of an attack post means that his grotesque, opportunistic, tyrannical mind is squirming at the fact that you are not assimilating into the proper politically correct hierarchy of contemporary academia. But this why I, and so many others, love your blog. Keep up the great work!
'Racism' and 'racist' are words used by liberals as all-purpose semantic bludgeons. Proof of this is that the terms are never defined, and so can be used in wider or narrower senses depending on the polemical and ideological purposes at hand. In common parlance 'racism' and 'racist' are pejoratives, indeed, terms of abuse. This is why it is foolish for conservatives such as John Derbyshire to describe themselves as racists while attempting to attach some non-pejorative connotation to the term. It can't be done. It would be a bit like describing oneself as as an asshole, 'but in the very best sense of the term.' 'Yeah, I'm an asshole and proud of it; we need more assholes; it's a good thing to be.' The word has no good senses, at least when applied to an entire human as opposed to an orifice thereof. For words like 'asshole,' 'child molester,' and 'racist' semantic rehabilitation is simply not in the cards. A conservative must never call himself a racist. (And I don't see how calling himself a racialist is any better.) What he must do is attack ridiculous definitions of the term, defend reasonable ones, and show how he is not a racist when the term is reasonably defined.
Let's run through some candidate definientia of 'racism':
1. The view that there are genetic or cultural differences between racial groups and that these differences have behavioral consequences.
Since this is indeed the case, (1) cannot be used to define 'racism.' The term, as I said, is pejorative: it is morally bad to be a racist. But it is not morally bad to be a truth-teller. The underlying principle here is that it can't racism if it is true. Is that not obvious?
Suppose I state that blacks are 11-13% of the U.S. population. That cannot be a racist statement for the simple reason that it is true. Nor can someone who makes such a statement be called a racist for making it. A statement whose subject matter is racial is not a racist statement. Or I inform you that blacks are more likely than whites to contract sickle-cell anemia. That too is true. But in this second example there is reference to an unpleasant truth. Even more unpleasant are those truths about the differential rates of crime as between blacks and whites. But pleasant or not, truth is truth, and there are no racist truths. (I apologize for hammering away at these platitudes, but in a Pee Cee world in which people have lost their minds, repetition of the obvious is necessary.)
2. The feeling of affinity for those of one's own racial and ethnic background.
It is entirely natural to feel more comfortable around people of one's own kind than around strangers. And of course there is nothing morally objectionable in this. No racism here.
3. The view that it is morally justifiable to put the interests of one's own race or ethnic group above those of another in situations of conflict or limited resources. This is to be understood as the analog of the view that it it morally justifiable to put the interests of oneself and one's own family, friends, and neighbors above the interests of strangers in a situation of conflict or limited resources.
There is nothing morally objectionable in his, and nothing that could be legitimately called racism.
4. The view that the genetic and cultural differences between races or ethnic groups justify genocide or slavery or the denial of political rights.
Now we arrive at an appropriate definiens of 'racism.' This is one among several legitimate ways of defining 'racism.' Racism thus defined is morally offensive in the extreme. I condemn it and you should to. I condemn all who hold this.
This is a repost, slightly redacted, from 2012 to help stem the tsunami of folderol sure to wash over us from the orifices of the mindless gun-grabbing Left in the wake of the Isla Vista rampage.
Without wanting to deny that there is a 'gun culture' in the USA, especially in the so-called red states, I would insist that the real problem is our liberal culture. Here are four characteristics of liberal culture that contribute to violence of all kinds, including gun violence.
1. Liberals tend to have a casual attitude toward crime.
It is interesting to note that Connecticut, the state in which the Newtown massacre occurred, has recently repealed the death penalty, and this after the unspeakably brutal Hayes-Komisarjevsky home invasion in the same state.
One of the strongest voices against repealing the death penalty has been Dr. William Petit Jr., the lone survivor of a 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the murders of his wife and two daughters.
The wife was raped and strangled, one of the daughters was molested and both girls were left tied to their beds as the house was set on fire.
The two men convicted of the crime, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, are currently on death row.
Anyone who cannot appreciate that a crime like this deserves the death penalty is morally obtuse. But not only are liberals morally obtuse, they are contemptibly stupid in failing to understand that one of the main reasons people buy guns is to protect themselves from the criminal element, the criminal element that liberals coddle. If liberals were serious about wanting to reduce the numbers of guns in civilian hands, they would insist on swift and sure punishment in accordance with the self-evident moral principle, "The punishment must fit the crime," which is of course not to be confused with lex talionis, "an eye for an eye." Many guns are purchased not for hunting or sport shooting but for protection against criminals. Keeping and bearing arms carries with it a grave responsibility and many if not most gun owners would rather not be so burdened. Gun ownership among women is on the upswing, and it is a safe bet that they don't want guns to shoot Bambi.
2. Liberals tend to undermine morality with their opposition to religion.
Many of us internalized the ethical norms that guide our lives via our childhood religious training. We were taught the Ten Commandments, for example. We were not just taught about them, we were taught them. We learned them by heart, and we took them to heart. This early training, far from being the child abuse that A. C. Grayling and other militant atheists think it is, had a very positive effect on us in forming our consciences and making us the basically decent human beings we are. I am not saying that moral formation is possible only within a religion; I am saying that some religions do an excellent job of transmitting and inculcating life-guiding and life-enhancing ethical standards, that moral formation outside of a religion is unlikely for the average person, and that it is nearly impossible if children are simply handed over to the pernicious influences of secular society as these influences are transmitted through television, Internet, video games, and other media. Anyone with moral sense can see that the mass media have become an open sewer in which every manner of cultural polluter is not only tolerated but promoted. Those of use who were properly educated way back when can dip into this cesspool without too much moral damage. But to deliver our children over to it is the real child abuse, pace the benighted Professor Grayling.
The shysters of the ACLU, to take one particularly egregious bunch of destructive leftists, seek to remove every vestige of our Judeo-Christian ethical traditiion from the public square. I can't begin to catalog all of their antics. But recently there was the Mojave cross incident. It is absurd that there has been any fight at all over it. The ACLU, whose radical lawyers brought the original law suit, deserve contempt and resolute opposition. Of course, I wholeheartedly endorse the initial clause of the First Amendment, to wit, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . ." But it is hate-America leftist extremism on stilts to think that the presence of that very old memorial cross on a hill in the middle of nowhere does anything to establish Christianity as the state religion. I consider anyone who believes that to be intellectually obtuse and morally repellent. One has to be highly unbalanced in his thinking to torture such extremist nonsense out of the First Amendment, while missing the plain sense of the Second Amendment, one that even SCOTUS eventually got right, namely, the the right to keep and bear arms is an individual, not a collective, right.
And then there was the business of the tiny cross on the city seal of Los Angeles, a symbol that the ACLU agitated to have removed. I could continue with the examples, and you hope I won't.
3. Liberals tend to have low standards, glorify the worthless, and fail to present exemplary human types.
Our contemporary media dreckmeisters apparently think that the purpose of art is to degrade sensibility, impede critical thinking, glorify scumbags, and rub our noses ever deeper into sex and violence. It seems obvious that the liberal fetishization of freedom of expression without constraint or sense of responsibility is part of the problem. But I can't let a certain sort of libertarian or economic conservative off the hook. Their lust for profit is also involved.
What is is that characterizes contemporary media dreck? Among other things, the incessant presentation of defective human beings as if there are more of them than there are, and as if there is nothing at all wrong with their way of life. Deviant behavior is presented as if it is mainstream and acceptable, if not desirable. And then lame justifications are provided for the presentation: 'this is what life is like now; we are simply telling it like it is.' It doesn't occur to the dreckmeisters that art might have an ennobling function.
The tendency of liberals and leftists is to think that any presentation of choice-worthy goals or admirable styles of life could only be hypocritical preaching. And to libs and lefties, nothing is worse than hypocrisy. Indeed, a good indicator of whether someone belongs to this class of the terminally benighted is whether the person obsesses over hypocrisy and thinks it the very worst thing in the world. See my category Hypocrisy for elaboration of this theme.
4. Liberals tend to deny or downplay free will, individual responsibility, and the reality of evil.
This is connected with point 2 above, leftist hostility to religion. Key to our Judeo-Christian tradition is the belief that man is made in the image and likeness of God. This image is that mysterious power in us called free will. The secular extremist assault on religion is at the same time an assault on this mysterious power, through which evil comes into the world.
This is a large topic. Suffice it to say for now that one clear indication of this denial is the bizarre liberal displacement of responsibility for crime onto inaminate objects, guns, as if the weapon, not the wielder, is the source of the evil for which the weapon can be only the instrument.
The Left's race-baiting just won't stop. Here Jay Rockefeller plays the race card against Ron Johnson in a manner so egregious that it would in the early 19th century get the Democrat scumbag challenged to a duel. There are so many recent incidents of race-baiting that the thought of laying in the links is a dreary one indeed. So I'll just remind you of the John Derbyshire case which now lies about two years in the past. Around that time I wrote the following. Very instructive, in part about NRO's need to 'go along to get along.'
In case you are not familiar with the word, 'defenestration' is from the Latin fenestra, window. Defenestration is thus the act of literally or figuratively throwing something or someone out of a window, or the state of having been ejected through such an aperture. In plain English, John Derbyshire, 'Derb,' got the boot from NRO's Rich Lowry. (Pardon the mixed metaphors.) Derb's free-lance contributions are no longer wanted there. And all because of Derb's The Talk: Nonblack Version.
Go ahead, click on the link and read the piece. If nothing else, it will hold your interest. It is also a good litmus test of your political affiliation. If it enrages you and strikes you as a racist screed, then you are a (contemporary) liberal. If you accept its advice as sound, though perhaps in need of minor qualification or correction here and there, then you are a person as sane and reasonable and moderate as your humble correspondent. If you think Derb didn't go far enough, then chances are you are an extreme right-wing crazy.
I have just read Derb's talk, very carefully, a second time. What is so offensive about it? Facts are facts. What's true is true. The criterion of truth is not agreement with liberal ideology. Consider this piece of advice:
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
That could use some qualification. If a well-dressed black, alone, were in automotive distress, I might stop to render aid. But if it were a carload of teenaged gangsta rapper types, I'd accelerate. I wouldn't want to catch a stray round in what could be termed an inverse drive-by shooting. But if you are giving advice to your kids, you might say something like the above sans qualification, in the same way you would advise them to avoid biker bars at midnight in bad parts of town without feeling the need to point out the obvious, e.g., that not every biker is a brute out to rape and pillage.
Bill Plaschke of the L. A. Timeslays into Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for statements like these:
“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another,” he said. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes we all live up to and are fearful of.”
The word 'prejudice' needs analysis. At a bare minimum, two senses of the term ought to be distinguished.
'Prejudice' could refer to blind prejudice: unreasoning, reflexive (as opposed to reflective) aversion to what is other just because it is other, or an unreasoning pro-attitude toward the familiar just because it is familiar. We should all condemn blind prejudice, or at least blind prejudice of the aversive sort. It is execrable to hate a person just because he is of a different color, for example. No doubt, but how many people do that? How many people who are averse to blacks are averse because of their skin color as opposed to their behavior patterns? Racial prejudice is not, in the main, prejudice based on skin color, but on behavior.
'Prejudice' could also mean 'prejudgment.' Although blind aversive prejudice is bad, prejudgment is generally good. We cannot begin our cognitive lives anew at every instant. We rely upon the 'sedimentation' of past exerience. Changing the metaphor, we can think of prejudgments as distillations from experience. The first time I 'serve' my cats whisky they are curious. After that, they cannot be tempted to come near a shot glass of Jim Beam. They distill from their unpleasant olfactory experiences a well-grounded prejudice against the products of the distillery.
My prejudgments about rattlesnakes are in place and have been for a long time. I don't need to learn about them afresh at each new encounter with one. I do not treat each new one encountered as a 'unique individual,' whatever that might mean. Prejudgments are not blind, but experience-based, and they are mostly true. The adult mind is not a tabula rasa. What experience has written, she retains, and that's all to the good.
So there is good prejudice and there is bad prejudice. The teenager thinks his father prejudiced in the bad sense when he warns the son not to go into certain parts of town after dark. Later the son learns that the old man was not such a bigot after all: the father's prejudice was not blind but had a fundamentum in re.
But if you stay away from certain parts of town are you not 'discriminating' against them? Well of course, but not all discrimination is bad. Everybody discriminates. Liberals are especially discriminating. The typical Scottsdale liberal would not be caught dead supping in some of the Apache Junction dives I have been found in. Liberals discriminate in all sorts of ways. That's why Scottsdale is Scottsdale and not Apache Junction.
Is the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' as marriage discriminatory? Of course! But not all discrimination is bad. Indeed, some is morally obligatory. We discriminate against felons when we disallow their possession of firearms. Will you argue against that on the ground that it is discriminatory? If not, then you cannot cogently argue against the refusal to recognize same-sex 'marriage' on the ground that it is discriminatory. You need a better argument. And what would that be?
'Profiling,' like 'prejudice' and 'discrimination,' has come to acquire a wholly negative connotation. Unjustly. What's wrong with profiling? We all do it, and we are justified in doing it. Consider criminal profiling.
It is obvious that only certain kinds of people commit certain kinds of crimes. Suppose a rape has occurred at the corner of Fifth and Vermouth. Two males are moving away from the crime scene. One, the slower moving of the two, is a Jewish gentleman, 80 years of age, with a chess set under one arm and a copy of Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed under the other. The other fellow, a vigorous twenty-year-old, is running from the scene.
Who is more likely to have committed the rape? If you can't answer this question, then you lack common sense. But just to spell it out for you liberals: octogenarians are not known for their sexual prowess: the geezer is lucky if he can get it up for a three-minute romp. Add chess playing and an interest in Maimonides and you have one harmless dude.
Or let's say you are walking down a street in Mesa, Arizona. On one side of the street you spy some fresh-faced Mormon youths, dressed in their 1950s attire, looking like little Romneys, exiting a Bible studies class. On the other side of the street, Hells (no apostrophe!) Angels are coming out of their club house. Which side of the street would you feel safer on? On which side will your concealed semi-auto .45 be more likely to see some use?
Do you struggle over this question?
The problem is not so much that liberals are stupid, as that they have allowed themselves to be stupefied by that cognitive aberration known as political correctness.
Their brains are addled by the equality fetish: everybody is equal, they think, in every way. So the vigorous 20-year-old is not more likely than the old man to have committed the rape. The Mormon and the Hells Angel are equally law-abiding. And the twenty-something Egyptian Muslim is no more likely to be a terrorist than the Mormon matron from Salt Lake City.
Getting back to Mark Cuban, what he is quoted as saying above makes perfect sense. His prejudices are reasonable prejudgments.
If you walk like a thug, and talk like a thug, and dress like a thug, and are plastered with tattoos and facial hardware like a thug, then don't be surprised if people give you a wide berth.
It is the willful self-enstupidation of liberals that unfits them for the appreciation of such commonsensical points as I have just reiterated.
Go Kirsten! Kirsten Powers has it all: beauty, brains, and the female equivalent of that which I was about to refer to using a word I decided not to use. I think I'm in love. And she stands up to Bill O'Reilly displaying grace under pressure when the pugnacious Irishman becomes obnoxious. She's smarter than O'Reilly and she knows it. Bill does too. But hats off to O'Reilly for giving the young whippersnappers a forum and for speaking truth to power lo these many years. He is an inspiring profile in civil courage.
"Speaking truth to power" is a lefty phrase that we need to co-opt. Leftards use the phrase even when they have power. You see, for a lefty, having power is supposedly bad and so they have to pretend that they don't have it even when they do. It's like money in that respect. They like to posture that they are anti-Establishment when they are the Establishment, and that they are dissenting when they are spouting and toeing the party line. They also think they somehow own dissent as if conservatives are somehow barred by the very meaning of the word from dissenting.
In any case, Miss Powers really hits the nail on the head in her column: Here is some of it and it ought to anger you with a righteous anger:
Don't bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as "a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully" and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a "psychotic mass murderer" and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.
The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women's studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus' "free speech zone" (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla's Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn't, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.
Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here.
As the mob gleefully destroys people's lives, its members haven't stopped to ask themselves a basic question: What happens when they come for me? If history is any guide, that's how these things usually end.
One of the books I am reading is Joachim Fest's Not I: Memories of a German Childhood (orig. publ. in German in 2006 by Rowohlt, tr. Martin Chalmers, New York, Other Press, 2013).
The title alludes to Mark 14:29: "But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I."
WSJ review by T. J. Reed here. I reproduce a sizeable chunk of it in case it ends up behind a pay wall:
The [Fest] family lives under a shadow. Their dissent is no secret. Father had been a member of the Reichsbanner, the organization in which his Catholic Centre Party had joined with liberals and Social Democrats to defend the republic against Communists and Nazis. It's not every school headmaster who gets involved in street fights and comes home bloody, as Johannes Fest did. But after 1933 he was a headmaster no longer, suspended indefinitely by the new political masters. The family's status and income were lost, their lives transformed. Grandfather had to come out of retirement to earn a bit for them. Father never worked again. The Nazis did try to cajole him back into teaching, since any observable dissent was bad publicity. They even offered accelerated promotion if he would outwardly conform. He remained firm.
Family tension became palpable. Mother, bearing the brunt of straitened family circumstances, asks Father if he might not compromise. Weren't lies always the resort of the "little people"? He replies: "We aren't little people." It is one of the maxims that guided the conduct of Fest's father and a few friends. (The title of his son's memoir comes from a Gospel passage that he would often quote, Peter promising Jesus: "Even if all others fall away—not I.") There were some Germans who made sure that they were carrying something in both hands when they went out into the street, the only plausible ground for not giving the required "Heil Hitler" salute to anyone they met. But Fest's father goes out resolutely empty-handed.
"Keep your head down," Johannes [father of Joachim] told his family, "but don't let it make you smaller." Young Joachim didn't always listen. A classmate reports him for carving a Hitler caricature on his desk. (He has been scribbling them on surfaces all over town.) As a consequence, he is removed from the school; his brothers too. The episode is just one instance of an independence akin to his father's.
The friends of the Fests—they now became former friends—and many neighbors and acquaintances fell by the wayside, even without being keen Nazis. Only one of the 12 families in the apartment block was in the party. The rest merely went along as things changed, drifting deeper into acquiescence, making excuses even as stable social and political structures fell apart in the name of a new "people's community." The Nazis, after all, were formally the legitimate government, however brutal their conduct of affairs—from the realm of international diplomacy to the arbitrary laws that replaced justice down to the small changes in everyday life, the swindles and favoritism of party members.
By recording these small changes, Joachim Fest creates a picture of how the one-party state operated on an intimate level, and exerted its unbreakable grip. It recalls the bleak account of incremental misery in Victor Klemperer's diaries of the period. A woman sees a Jewish-looking man in the street not wearing a star, pursues and denounces him. There are first rumors and then reliable evidence of atrocities.
Anti-Semitism had considerably more popular resonance than many other Nazi policies, such as the campaign for "Lebensraum" in the east. How many Germans would have wanted to up sticks and resettle somewhere on the vast Russian plains? As for Jewish Germans themselves, even after Kristallnacht there were those who waited for the Nazi "phase" to pass. Their trust in a culture that had produced Kant, Goethe, Schiller, Lessing and Beethoven, a culture into which they felt they had assimilated, meant that they delayed escape too long.
But was it German culture that produced Kant, Goethe, et al.? Or was it the Graeco-Roman and Judeo-Christian culture that had its sources in Athens and Jerusalem? That is one question. A second question is whether talk of production is anywhere near adequate, whether any culture could produce such geniuses as opposed merely to providing a fertile soil in which they developed themselves.
A third question is whether we are not now drifting toward a totalitarian unculture in which the slightest deviations from politically correct modes of thought and speech bring down drastic punishments on those who think they can speak their minds in private and in public without fear of reprisal from illiberal 'liberals.'
In the Orwellian world of the leftist loon, black is white, so black privilege, which exists, becomes white privilege, which doesn't.
But there is no point in serious discussion with delusional leftards, so the best course of action is mockery and derision either in the moderate style of Kurt Schlichter or the take-no-prisoners style of Jim Goad.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am not now and never have been a redneck or a Southerner and I don't agree with everything Goad says. But I am heartily sick of lying liberal scum and their endless race-baiting, double-standards, and preternatural dumbassery.
A liberal is the kind of person who would extend the right to vote to felons but will not grant the right to life to the unborn. How 'liberal' is that? How 'inclusive'? How respectful of 'diversity'?
Should felons be allowed to vote? The conservative answers with alacrity. "Of course not. Why should those who cannot order their own lives prudently be allowed to have a say in the ordering of society?"
Hendrik makes no mention of the crime, the victim, and her horrible death. Instead, typical leftist that he is, he invests his interest in the perceived underdog without any consideration of why the dirty dog is in his inferior position. Hitchens puts the emphasis where it belongs. Hendrik:
The classic justifications for the death penalty have not changed much over the centuries. There is retribution—an eye for an eye, a life for a life. There is deterrence—this is what awaits you if you transgress. And there is awe—a graphic demonstration of the ultimate power of the state.
No talk of justice, but a shabby suggestion that the principle that the punishment must fit the crime is to be interpreted as a narrow lex talionis injunction, as if the death penalty is in every case like the barbarity of gouging out the eye of the eye-gouger.
There is also something curious about leftists, who are totalitarians from the ground up, the top down, and from side to side, worrying about the ultimate power of the state. These are same moral cretins who want to use the power of the state to force florists and caterers to violate their consciences.
Anyone who doesn't see the moral necessity of the death penalty in certain carefully circumscribed cases, anyone who thinks that it is always and everywhere and in principle immoral, is morally obtuse.
[Senator Joseph] McCarthy in the 1950s became infamous for smearing his opponents with lurid allegations that he could not prove, while questioning their patriotism. Reid has brought back to the Senate that exact same McCarthy style of six decades ago -- and trumped it.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Reid libeled candidate Mitt Romney with the unsubstantiated and later-refuted charge that Romney was a tax cheat. "The word's out that he [Romney] hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years," Reid said.
Later, when asked for proof, Reid offered a pathetic rejoinder: "I have had a number of people tell me that." One wonders how many names were on Reid's McCarthyite "tell" list -- were there, as McCarthy used to bluster, 205 names, or perhaps just 57?
When asked again to document the slur, Reid echoed McCarthy perfectly: "The burden should be on him. He's the one I've alleged has not paid any taxes."
Call this the Reid Principle: The maker of scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations is presumed veracious. The burden of rebutting the charges is borne by the victim of the smear.
Reid's behavior in this and in other cases makes it clear that Democrats see politics as a form of warfare. Conservatives need to wise up.
On Easter Sunday, it is only fitting that the reliably despicable Ross Douthat should once again rise from the dead with an incoherently dreadful column on Piketty. I will not try to summarize it. As Aristotle observed [I think], shit has no form, and hence cannot easily be apprehended by reason. You may read it for yourself. I take Douthat's column as a good sign, a harbinger of Spring. When the rats on the sinking ship of capitalism pause in their scramble down the hawsers to acknowledge the reemergence of Marx from the dustbin of history [how's that for a mixed metaphor?], there is hope on this annual celebration of resurrection.
Note that Wolff does not address the content of Douthat's essay, though he does have the decency to link to it. What he does is portray Douthat as a reliably despicable zombie and rat, a shill for capitalism, who has penned an incoherently dreadful column, a piece of shit beneath the apprehension of reason.
Well thank you Professor Wolff for this wonderful Easter Sunday illustration of the Central Axiom and for reminding us once again of how dangerous you leftists are, and, indirectly, how important our Second Amendment rights are.