Sunday, March 19, 2017
A few days back I posted on Facebook about the recent obscene provocation to come from our demented feminist avant garde. My post garnered a few comments from friends sympathetic to my disgust, but also resistance from a British atheist friend which allowed me to explain some of my thinking on the key role the Christian tradition plays in our culture. I reproduce the comment thread here, having changed the names of the participants.
Go to this LifeSiteNews piece for an an account of what went down.
My caption on the Facebook post: “Horrendous, but not surprising. These people don't know the divide they're creating.”
JOHN GREIST: This is just sick.
PAUL WILKS: If ever a group of assholes deserved a smiting . . .
GRACE LEE: Stupidity redefined.
KAREN DORN: This is appalling. I cannot fathom why so many women are choosing to speak out in such offensive, sacrilegious ways. This seems similar to the type of "speech" that is burning the American flag; there is something inherently violent about it. This will backfire. I am deeply offended and saddened that these demonstrations will only erode the diminishing options women will have, especially women of lesser means and resources.
DALE CHATWIN: Why not? Virgin birth? The concept does invite, even require, mockery. If a woman was given this blessing, then the question is why are women 2nd class citizens in most societies around the world? I am a feminist. Any woman who is not, has some pretty serious issues imo.
ERIC MADER: @Dale Chatwin: Don't be such a dull positivist vulgarian.
1) If there exists a God anything like God as understood in Western monotheism, then the virgin birth as a literal event is of course eminently possible, as are any other miracles, including the universe suddenly folding up into nothing or being rearranged on entirely new laws. As an orthodox Christian, I view miracles in this lens.
2) There are however many Christians who do not believe in the virgin birth as a literal event, who understand it as a myth, but show respect to the story itself as an ancient part of their tradition, that Christian tradition that grounds some of the most crucial elements in their present-day culture: its legal norms, its concepts of history, its notions of justice, its critique of vulgar wealth and power.
On at least this second basis you might at least recognize that in mocking Christianity you are a little like the man high up in a tree sawing away at the branch he's sitting on.
In any case you should have enough of a sense of history to understand the following: All great civilizations have risen up on myths and died when these myths fell into disrepute. You as a person wouldn't be what you are today, and your country, England, wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for Christianity. Many of the things you take for granted--the Western concept of human rights for one--arose from and because of the Judeo-Christian inheritance.
Which is to say: Westerners who think there's any virtue in mocking their own culture's religious tradition are like spoiled teenagers who scoff at their parents, the people who fed and raised and taught them. How do such kids look to you? This is where you're putting yourself with these kinds of statements.
KAREN DORN: Yes!
DALE CHATWIN: Did you mean The Vulgate? St. Jerome? I wager he would have been a laugh. Kind of bloke you'd be itching to share a pint of Guinness with.
Are you suggesting that The Life of Brian should be banned for mocking Christianity?
The Catholic Church: "Christian tradition...its critique of vulgar wealth and power." The Catholic Church is the epitome of vulgarity and obscene shows of wealth. The Vatican Bank. A church with a bank holding a minimum $8 billion. Very Christian. Jesus (or whatever his name was) would have been proud.
ERIC MADER: @Dale Chatwin. Typically, you haven't addressed a single one of my points.
DALE CHATWIN: Oh, dear. I thought I had addressed a few.
I find it difficult to take most of human history seriously, especially religious dogmas. I prefer a pinch of salt over everything.
Doesn't everyone scoff at their parents? Of course in religion, this is often terms for ostracism. Religious indoctrination begins in the home. The clothes worn, the food eaten.
I think you put too much emphasis on how tradition, both religious and secular, has formed my own personal belief system.
Anyone could write thousands of pages on what we, as a species, have learnt from history. The opposite is equally true.
The culture of monotheisms will also, given time, fall into myth.
Which points, specifically, am I missing?
DALE CHATWIN: Why shouldn't Christianity, or any other set of unsubstantiated, unproven, fanciful beliefs, be open to mockery like anything else? Are religious types that sensitive?
ERIC MADER: Well, in fact if you go back and read my comments starting "Don't be such a . . ." I can't see how you imagine you've even addressed one of my points. Read those comments again, and then realize that your answer amounts to:
1) St. Jerome was a prude and would have been a bore to drink with (or, in another possible interpretation, would have been fun to tease over beers).
2) The Vatican Bank is corrupt.
One key thing that is preventing you from even seeing my points is that you don't understand myth in anything like a more anthropological sense. Your understanding of it is the common one (I dare say the vulgar one) as in: "People once believed the seasons were a result of Hades' rape of Persephone. Now we know that's a myth." In short, in your understanding, myths are essentially things that humanity overcomes via scientific advancements. In my understanding, this is not so, myth is still with us, and always will be. An enormous range of cultural phenomena is guided by thinking that is mythical; even the social thinking of secular, educated people is largely based on mythical constructs that can't be grounded in empirical research and in fact AREN'T grounded--but still prove decisive in culture. What is key, and in my view most dangerous, is that Enlightenment notions of reality have somehow convinced our contemporaries that their secular societies' norms are NOT grounded on myth, that they're based rather on reason and research, that their societies have largely left myth behind, and that progress means leaving more of myth behind. I say No. We have not left myth behind. We have just changed the names of the agents in our myths. Our very notions of the arc of history, of justice, of the power of reason as it relates to social reality and the universe, of progress, of human rights, etc.--all these are based on myths no less flimsy than the story of Hades and Persephone. And it will ALWAYS be so. Why? Because story and the stories we tell ourselves will always guide our group behavior. It is a fact that applies to Dawkins and Sam Harris as much as the Pope. The reason the former are shallow and the latter is not is that the former don't recognize this fact. They don't see the degree to which they're raising things discovered by empirical research to the level of guiding mythical principle. What science discovers about how the universe is structured (and it has discovered a lot) can tell us virtually nothing about existential or ethical questions. Those secularists who try to make science into a cultural guide are not practicing science any more--what they're doing is called scientism. Which is why serious philosophers, and many scientists besides, think the New Atheists are a joke and, in terms of the field of discourse the New Atheists are trying to enter, are in fact way out of their league.
So, to sum up: You still believe myth is something that is to be overcome. That's very 19th century of you. I however know that myth is something humans never overcome. You believe myth is inherently, to the extent it is believed, a negative thing. I believe we can't escape myth, that it is neither negative nor positive, but simply HUMAN, and the key is recognizing which myths show the deepest grasp of the human reality.
You write: "I think you put too much emphasis on how tradition, both religious and secular, has formed my own personal belief system." Sorry, but I think this is extremely naive. All of us, even the most skeptical, have been formed by tradition in ways we can't even fathom. That is what philosophy is for: to help us glimpse our own blind spots. In your case, even the nature and structure of your skepticism, how you see your skepticism as it relates to the relative naivety of others--even this is part of a tradition that you've internalized and modified in some ways. You say that you don't take history too seriously, that you take it with a grain of salt. Sure, but that doesn't mean you have escaped your inscription in history. To begin thinking is to think in language. To enter the realm of language is to be drawn into a lexicon of inherited concepts. End of story.
As usual, I didn't intend to type so much. I'll say one more thing. Given that you're a reader of John Gray, I'm amazed you seem so obtuse on this question of myth and how it is constitutive of culture, how it is inescapable on the social level. My point: On most of these issues, at least in terms of argument re: what myth is or how individual thinking can relate to traditions, Gray would agree with me.
Cheers. Since I took time to write all this, I hope you give it some thought.
DALE CHATWIN: That's a ten-course meal to get through . . . very French. Thanks.
A propos, I do not consider myself a New Atheist. I have no desire to proselytize one way or the other. I became an atheist long before the New Atheists took to the stage . . . long before I knew the meaning of the word atheist.
I searched for religious meaning on and off for years, but came to the conclusion that it really is all random, essentially meaningless, and misery for most of humankind. And who directs this misery? Well, humankind of course.
I believe humanity is a plague.
ERIC MADER: Bon appétit.
* * *
UPDATE: Rod Dreher at The American Conservative, writing on the same Argentine provocation, featured some of my remarks. In the comment thread that followed, various writers argued that I was mistaken in tracing so much of the political culture of the West back to the Christian influence. The real roots of our current institutions, so the argument goes, are classical Greece and Rome. You can check the thread there, but my basic response was the following:
ERIC MADER: Some here suggest that I’m mistaken in identifying Christian tradition as a key ground of our political and legal norms. And so Forbe, above, argues that the cloth of our political culture as Westerners is woven entirely of Greek and Roman materials.
Of course I’m well aware of the classical heritage. But I would say that this pagan heritage, while decisive in providing us most of our political terminology and many of our structural norms, does not finally account for certain huge differences between us and our ancient pagan models. Especially our concept of inalienable human rights, that political doctrine that all people, regardless of class or nation, are created equal and thus embody a fundamental dignity (before the law, before the divine, etc.) that is prior to accidents of class, race or gender. It is this doctrine that allowed the Christian West finally to defeat slavery, and this that explains things like the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The classical thinkers of Greece and Rome recognized no such thing. We have it because of the Christian soil from which we’ve sprung.
The earliest statement of such a fundamental equality is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. And really, there’s nothing else like it in in the ancient world: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26-28)
Race, class and gender are to take second place to a new fundamental equality? Gee, that stuffy old Apostle was quite radical, wasn’t he? Stop the presses, Slate and Salon! Your grounding social doctrine, the very litmus test by which you judge something progressive or not, is 2,000 years old. And, sorry to inform you, it came from one of those hateful Christians.
The Enlightenment, and the American Founders in particular, merely abstracted this “one in Christ” to “one in being created by the same Creator”. And so we have our modern concept of human rights.
When Rod suggests that these Argentinian feminists are unwittingly undermining the very conceptual ground on which they stand, this is what he means. Not just the radical feminists, but the whole sick SJW crew is bent on savaging the hand that feeds them. I agree with Rod on the stupidity of it. They certainly will not like what their hardball identity politics becomes once the other side begins to practice it. Which is already happening.
Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. at Amazon.com and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
I’m white, male, heterosexual, Catholic. For most of my life I’ve been politically on the left. The virtues of tolerance and open-mindedness have always been crucial to me. I’ve had close Muslim and Buddhist friends, atheist friends, feminist friends, gay and lesbian friends, black and Asian friends. I’ve learned things from all of them.
But that was then, back in the early days. I’d like to say--back in the last century, because this new century is becoming something quite different.
The atmosphere shifted around 2010, a dark spark of some sort shot through the ether wind, and I’m somewhat ashamed I didn’t notice it when it happened. But now I get it. Because myself, now in 2017--white, male, heterosexual, Catholic--you’ve finally made it clear:
I’m the Enemy.
Sorry I didn’t realize it sooner, in 2012 say. It would have saved everybody a lot of trouble. I’m a slow learner.
For the feminists around me, our 21st-century feminists, maleness itself is the root of all evil. So although I’ve long believed women and men are equal (that quaint old 20th-century notion!) it makes no difference now. I’m guilty as charged. And always will be.
For our SJWs (“social justice warriors”, if you don’t know the term) Europe and Western cultural traditions are to be denigrated and fought at every turn. I study and cherish European culture, and the American culture that stems from it. But the important thing about Europe now is no longer its humanistic learning, its concept of rights and law, its philosophy and literature--no, it’s the abstract evil of this thing called “whiteness”. Again: I’m guilty as charged.
For the “new atheists” and the many secularist keeners who get their soundbites from them, progress means openly and loudly mocking people of faith because, well, religions are silly, backward, and outdated, especially, of course, Western religions. This crowd has been setting the tone for more and more of our young people. Well, here you find me again: Guilty as charged.
I used to value dialogue: especially dialogue with people who disagree with me. Such a thing hardly exists now. If I’m in a group with American women present, and I attempt to clarify or discuss some point, I’m “mansplaining”. Online, if I point out how Barack Obama’s pro-Wall Street, pro-corporate policies undermined his legacy, I’m “supporting white supremacists” (as I just learned today, from a friend of many years, a poet and professor actually, who informed me of this, then summarily unfriended and blocked me). Never mind that I voted for Obama twice, as my friend himself knows, never mind that I blogged for years in his favor--no, being white, I’m “racist” for daring to criticize our former president’s actual policies.
This professor friend, or ex-friend, would he unfriend black Obama critic Cornel West? I don’t know. Maybe he already has. You know: Cornel West--self-hating black man.
Then there’s the LGBT crowd, which has really changed in recent years. I was an ally of theirs in the late 1980s and 90s, even heading into this new century. I treat gays and lesbians with respect, have gay friends I openly admire, gay and lesbian writers I recognize as geniuses, but it matters nothing. If I disagree with one point on their ever-growing list of rainbow dogmas, I’m a “bigot” who must be run out of polite society, a hater who deserves to lose his career.
I know what I’m talking about here. If I were still living and teaching in the States rather than overseas (I’m an American teacher working expat) they likely could destroy my career. Which is a sad commentary on what has become of our civil liberties.
What all these so-called progressives now praise as “diversity”--sorry to break it to you, but it’s not diversity at all. It’s a dogmatic new groupthink. It’s rank authoritarianism. What they mean when they say this word, in this new climate, is something like: “Agree with us on everything, sing our praises 24/7, or you’re out. We will ruin you.”
Well, here I am. Officially Out. Guilty as charged. Bring it on.
After years of these hard-edged double standards, my old belief in tolerance and pluralism is starting to wear thin. Can you blame me? Civil discourse with these people has grown impossible. All they want to do is play identity politics, and play it as a zero sum game. Bizarrely, this has become their whole idea of the left. They haven’t learned a thing from Donald Trump’s election: why it happened; how they are implicated in it; how they are in no small part responsible for the counter-reaction their behavior has provoked.
Who’s going to tell them what they’re bringing about?
Here’s what I’d tell them, if I had any hopes they’d listen:
If it’s identity politics you want, then identity politics you’ll get.
Do you hear that? Do you understand?
I know you, and even those of you capable of getting my point, you won’t heed the warning; you won't desist from the systematic demonization of your other. And so the new century, perversely, will very likely deliver just what you're conjuring forth. Funny how that works, isn't? I think Hegel would have something to say on it.
Myself I'm saddened to the core to see dialogue die, over and over, and to be forced to write off so many friends because they can't accept actual diversity when they encounter it.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Some good vampire stories from the kids in my ZEI class E3-5A. I’ll type out Aaron’s, the best written and organized of them. I made a few small corrections as usual.
The assignment was as follows:
Hans and Gunther are now eleven years old. They are twins. They’re also vampires. They grew up in a castle in Germany, but moved to Taiwan.
Hans and Gunther’s mother wanted them to come to Taiwan because she read in Vampire News that drinking Taiwanese blood is very healthy for vampires. Now they live in a big house on Yangming Mountain and bite as many students as they can.
Hans and Gunther invited some students from ZEI to a party at their house last night. They also invited the teacher, Eric. The two vampire stayed home all day yesterday and prepared for the party.
. . . .
We gave you eight sentences. Write twenty more sentences to finish your composition. Your composition should tell
1) how the vampires prepared for the party;
2) who came to the party and what they talked about;
3) who the vampires bit and who escaped!
In the morning, Hans and Gunther prepared for the party. First, Hans hung lights on the walls. Then he cut the grass. Gunther was busy planting flowers in the garden, like lilies, tulips, roses and tree peonies. Then he set the table.
After they completed their preparation, the stood by the gate to welcome their guests. When the guests arrived, they led them to the dining room.
The party started when all the guests had arrived. They ate every kind of delicious food and talked with each other. They were talking about many kinds of topics, some people talked about their children, some people talked about the weather, and some people talked about the decorations in the vampires’ house.
After dinner, the vampires and their guests watched National Geographic Channel and brought everybody to look around the big house. When the guests were looking around the house, Nick was bitten by alligators when he was in the bathroom. (Hans and Gunther keep alligators there.) The vampire, Hans, sucked Jovia’s blood. And then Gunther cut Alan’s face with a sickle and bit Lucia with his fangs and made her become a vampire.
After the party, everybody was hurt and went back to ZEI. Some of them had become vampires and could not go home safely.
Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. at Amazon.com and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
So CPAC has cancelled Milo’s speaking invitation. Which was predictable enough. Organizers of conservative conferences have their role, Milo has his.
More troubling in my mind is that Simon & Schuster has cancelled his book deal. It’s obvious they’re afraid of backlash, but I think they will regret it. If he doesn’t burn out, Milo almost surely has a brilliant future ahead of him.
In any case, the haters are jumping around in glee. And who has haters like Milo?
I’ve been a fan since I started following him not long ago, around the time Twitter banned him. Yes, I find problems with some of his shtick, but in general I’ve been sympathetic. Such deeply paradoxical characters usually grab my attention, but this one was also managing to play a few important roles at once.
Now in fact I’m even more sympathetic. Because one brilliant blogger, Rachel Fulton Brown, has made clearer what I was responding to--namely the infectious combination in Milo of dangerous truth-telling and being utterly himself, painful contradictions and all. (I came upon this piece via Rod Dreher's blog, where a pitched battle is going on over Milo as conservative.)
Brown begins as follows:
Everybody hates a bully, or so we say. Yesterday, the national media bullied into silence a young man who had risen to fame speaking to audiences of young women and men about the lies that the grown-ups had told them for decades.
Lies about the relationship between women and men. That women don't need men. That all men are potential rapists. That women should aspire to something other than motherhood or they are wasting their lives. That women should like casual sex with strangers, hooking up just for the sake of the orgasm. That the children will be fine if their parents divorce. That abortion is morally good.
Everyone knows these are lies. The young woman who wakes up in the morning having lost her virginity to a man who isn't there and will not marry her. The young man who is tempted into exciting and transgressive sex with an older man and finds himself trapped by his desire in a lifestyle he cannot leave. The young woman who spends her most fertile years working in a career that leaves her childless at forty because she can no longer conceive and has no husband. The young man who has no ambition to work because he has no wife to care for or children to feed.
But the grown-ups tell them to shut up, not to complain. Don't they know how awful it is that women don't earn as much over the course of their lifetime as men? Don't they know that men are still the ones with all the power, even though the number of men completing higher education has continued to drop? Don't they know that nobody should be able to force a woman to bear a child she does not want, even if she did enjoy the sex by which the child was conceived?
And then a young man comes along and tells them, they were right all along. The young women wanted to be pretty, not grotesquely overweight. The young men wanted to be strong and vigorous and manly. The young women wanted babies as well as careers, and were willing to make adjustments to their ambition in order to stay home with their children. The young men wanted to be challenged to be gentlemanly and chivalrous.
"Gender roles work," the young man told them. "Feminism is cancer. Abortion is murder." And the young women and men cheered for him, because they loved him for telling the truth.
But one really must read the whole thing. Her piece only gets better. Bravissimo, Rachel!
Milo has himself explained his taped remarks that led to the book and speaking cancellations, and I think he’s being honest. His words on that taped segment moved into dangerous territory, as he has acknowledged, but I don’t think the interpretation put on them by many who only hear the clips stands up to the context Milo’s other work provides.
I trust Milo’s honesty. It’s in some ways his main salient characteristic, the very reason he is such a paradox, and surely the reason he drives our fake-ass left out of their minds.
We need Milo, more Milos, if only to help fight the authoritarian poison being pushed by SJWs and their millions of brainwashed cheerleaders. Nobody is fighting this fight as well as he has. This is his key role.
But he has another important role, though it’s hardly noticed. If it weren’t for the somewhat novel fact that this time it is a gay man taking up this persona, he’d be more easily recognized as a 21st-century version of a central Western type: the court jester, the Rabelaisian carnivalesque joker, a character like Robert Browning’s “Fra Lippo Lippi”. These characters, in their willingness to boldly embody the most troubling paradoxes--central among which the paradox that we are spiritual beings trapped in flesh--are a necessary part of any vibrant Western culture. As Catholic "with issues", Milo is playing this role, though, as I say, the fact has so far gone unnoticed.
Milo’s “dangers” are a sign of life, and compared to the dangers represented in the SJW crowd, they’re small beer.
Or in other words: Fascist my ass.
Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. at Amazon.com and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
I’m deeply disturbed by the logical ineptitude of our courts whenever the case concerns religious liberty vs. LGBT rights.
Predictably, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled against Barronnelle Stutzman, the beleaguered 72-year-old florist who thought her religious liberty counted for something in America. I’ve been following this case since the beginning, and it has sickened me since the beginning. (Cf. Gay Marriage and the Bigotry of American Liberals).
Consider this element of the state’s argument against Stutzman, as reported in the CBS News piece on Stutzman’s court loss:
But the court held that her floral arrangements do not constitute protected free speech, and that providing flowers to a same-sex wedding would not serve as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
“As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism,” the opinion said.
As even a smidgin of thinking would reveal, the state is making a false parallel here. Stutzman's religious beliefs would never in any case include the tenet that Muslims or atheists cannot marry. So of course making flowers for such weddings wouldn't offend against her faith regardless of what she thought of Islam or atheism. But her faith does include a basic tenet that she has bravely refused to offend against. Namely: Marriage is by definition between man and woman.
Amazingly, the Washington Supreme Court is lacking in basic ability to distinguish between categories necessary for even understanding the case. Such inability to think in such a body can only have two explanations: it’s either a result of rank stupidity or ideological animus. It’s pretty clear which we’re dealing with here.
And consider this:
Gov. Jay Inslee lauded Thursday’s ruling, saying it was “in favor of equality for all Washingtonians.”
“By ruling that intolerance based on sexual orientation is unlawful, the Court affirmed that Washington state will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love,” Inslee said in a written statement.
Uh-huh. What in the hell is he talking about? Stutzman has never discriminated against anyone “because of who they love”. What she has done is simply refuse to make the flowers for a wedding she considers impermissible. Which is something completely different. For years she had been arranging flowers for Rob Ingersoll, the gay man suing her, all the while knowing he loved other men. In short, she never rejected the person because of what he was, but simply refused to take part in a wedding that her religion considered an offense against the meaning of marriage.
The right of the customer to be served regardless of who he is or how he lives should in the Stutzman case be recognized as secondary to the right of religious liberty: the right of the person of faith not to be compelled into actions that offend against that faith.
Shame on our courts. That our secular government, out of the blue, decided to redefine marriage does not entail that all citizens must agree on the redefinition. American laws are capable of balancing the rights of LGBT people and the rights of religious conservatives. So far, our courts have failed dismally in finding this balance.
Have some deadpan with your coffee. Check out my Idiocy, Ltd.. Dryest humor in the west.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Maybe you’ve noticed this too.
I'm fifty now, and have been on the left my whole life. I remember clearly in the '90s and early 2000s how the single most infuriating thing about debating with Republicans was that they never allowed the conversation to stay on the point under discussion. Whenever you'd get them anywhere near giving a clear answer on something, or recognizing the simple facts you'd raised, they'd quick shift to some tangential issue: "But what about . . . ?" The constant derailment was maddening.
Just this week I've realized how many hours during the past year I've fallen into discussions just like this with Democrats. I've been voting Democrat my whole life, and used to have substantive policy discussions with other Democrats around me. But for a long time now, I keep running into fellow Democrats who are almost zombielike in the mechanical way they deflect. Jittery bullshit machines. It's the same runaround I used to face with hardcore Republicans. The same nervous refusal to get anywhere near certain facts. And worst of all: it feels the same.
Which has finally convinced me of something I began to suspect around 2012. Democrats are the new Republicans. Standard issue GOP Republicans are still the old Republicans, I’d say. But Democrats are the new dumb kids on the block.
Of course now the Democratic topic du jour is the horror of Trump, of his every step and move and utterance. I agree with them on many of these things, but not all. But the key thing they still refuse to recognize: It was our own party’s choice to run Clinton that got Trump elected. It was our own party’s systematic snubbing of Bernie Sanders that led to Clinton’s win in the primaries.
As for Trump himself, putting aside the very serious flaws in his character, which may well prove fatal to his administration, the fact is he has already done three things that should immensely please the left: he summarily killed TPP, he granted union leaders a more cordial and substantive meeting than any Democratic president has given them in decades, and he signed an executive order banning his administration staff from lobbying for five years after their tenure is up.
Would Hillary have dared do any of these things? I highly doubt it. Yet each of them, looked at in itself, is a step in the right direction for American workers and government. Amazingly, on these three fronts Trump is actually to the left of Obama or Clinton.
I say I’ve voted Democrat my whole life, but I did not vote for Clinton this time. I just couldn't. The gulf has grown too vast. In fact I can hardly even talk to lifelong Dem friends about politics these days. They are unhinged. I don't see it as a symptom of fear in the face of Trump either. I see it as a new, uncanny, almost essentialist self-righteousness beyond argument. They assume they were "right", are "right" and will always be "right". Just because they are themselves.
And no, in case you were wondering, I did not vote for Trump either. But note: I do not regret not voting for Hillary. Not a bit.
What has happened to the party I long supported? I’m disgusted at the shallowness of political discussions among most Dems. Everything is identity politics and SJW cant. As for any substantive vision of America as a nation of particular people with a tradition and history, forget it. The only history they see is the history of grievances of this or that identity group. Some of those groups have real grievances, yes; others however are clearly just riding the grievance cart for all its worth. While growing shriller and more arrogant with each passing year.
And regarding the serious issues, namely the hollowing out of the working class and the corporatization of everything, it’s clearly all peripheral to them. They’re almost uniquely interested in ensuring people don’t say mean things, or offend people through “microaggressions”, or question this or that sub-doctrine of this or that SJW orthodoxy on immigration, LGBT rights, trans bathrooms, whatever. If you don’t agree with the whole list of their established doctrines, they look at you askance and immediately start calling you names.
The supposed left party in my country is no longer even on the left. It has become little more than a virtue-signaling gaggle of corporate puppets. And its full-throated adoption of neocon foreign policy makes it harder than ever to distinguish it from the original neocons around George W. Bush.
Last year much of the talk before the election centered on choosing the “lesser of two evils”. My thinking on this question hasn’t changed. Where Trump represents a kind of flailing, all-too-human evil, Clinton represents an incremental, methodical evil: the evil of a steady corporate takeover of what was once a democratic nation and is hardly so any longer.
But the corporate corruption of the Democratic Party is obvious and has been widely discussed. What hasn't been so discussed is the intellectual corruption of so many Democratic voters and media talking heads. I just don't see any hope for many of these folks. They have become machine-like in their knee-jerk reactions. This tangible shift, starting around 2012, has pushed me steadily away from this American “left”. I don’t share their social vision, I don’t share their corporate globalizing plans (as in TPP, now thankfully obsolete) and I don’t share their newfound hatred of open debate and free speech. It is this gang that poses the real authoritarian threat to our republic, more so even than Donald Trump. Which is saying something.
I am no longer with them. I am actually glad they got their asses kicked in 2016. I will not be helping them in word or vote from here on out.
Check out my book Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Let’s face it. The American left is a sick joke. I don’t even call it the left anymore. The “left” rather.
The current American left retains none of the positive aspects of the 20th-century left, but virtually all of the negative ones. It cares little about the serious social problems engendered by crony capitalism, focusing instead on the minutiae of political correctness vis-a-vis this or that clan of professional victims. It’s not so much interested in anyone’s actual rights. No, it is interested in groupthink and authority and its own ability to invent new “rights” to impose on society so as to demonstrate that authority. It is a cult, almost a new religion, of political correctness.
And worst of all, our left is now actually proud of the fact that it hates free speech. Its idea of progress--stated over and over in manifesto and university policy paper and demand list--is to ensure that every walking, breathing citizen agrees to its every ideological demand, and it will bully and silence them until they do so. It claims to champion diversity, but the only kinds of diversity it values are race or sexual preference. Diversity of thought is forbidden. Pro “diversity”, it is anti-pluralist and anti-liberal.
This left was on prominent display again last week at Berkeley, when SJW students threw a hissy fit that ended in a riot in protest against fact that Milo Yiannopoulos was going to speak there. And must of the left press gets it almost exactly wrong. Here’s David Kaye in the Guardian: "Our constitutional commitment to debate, dissent and freedom of expression is bumping up against hateful, attention-seeking speakers who rush up to, and often cross over into, incitement to violence, harassment and hatred."
The problem? The left has no “constitutional commitment to debate, dissent and freedom of expression". Kaye’s piece goes on, predictably, to blame the victims: Milo and those conservative students who wanted him to speak, and some of whom were seriously beaten by left protesters.
“Hateful, attention-seeking speakers”? “[Crossing] over into incitement to violence”? That is a description in this instance of the protesters, Mr. Kaye, not the conservatives who criticize those protesters.
University campuses are regularly visited by hateful speakers, employ hateful professors and are rocked by hateful gangs of students. But hateful as they are, and provocative as their speech might get sometimes, they are almost never called out as hateful and their comments are never called "harassment" or "incitement". Why not? Because these groups target, mock, or “call for action” against 1) men; 2) white people; 3) Christians. It’s not hate or harassment if you’re target isn’t one of the protected identities beloved of our SJW left.
I have spent plenty of time in these milieus, and the hatred that motivates these people is palpable. Yes, most of them do not call for actual violence in their pronouncements, but they do everything they can to shut up or ruin the careers of anyone who does not repeat their mantras. That this is true in our universities is depressing, but not surprising. But it is growing almost equally true in the corporate world.
Milo has never to my knowledge encouraged his admirers to engage in violence, but he has encouraged them to engage in scorn and laughter, neither of which (sorry kids) are "hate speech”. Scorn and laughter are elements of ridicule, and they fit with biting criticism, a necessary part in any democratic society. Ridicule or criticism is in fact what scorn and laughter ARE called when they come from the left. When Milo employs them, however, suddenly it is “hate speech”, and he must be shut up or shouted down or, if a lot of those Berkeley students had their way, beaten to death.
Let's be clear: Milo doesn’t consider black people, or transsexuals, or whatever group of people ridiculous or deserving of mockery per se. He doesn’t consider people ridiculous because of what they are. This is obvious to anyone who takes the time to listen to even a couple of his talks. Rather, what Milo seeks to ridicule are the hypocritical ways different groups politicize what they are through the playbook of our current left politics.
In America we have plenty of hard-edged satirists. One of them, a brilliant satirist on the liberal left, was Jon Stewart. Stewart employed the same arsenal of tropes and tricks used by Milo to make great fun of and throw scorn at: 1) political conservatives; 2) southern people; 3) rural people; 4) religious conservatives. But America called Stewart's work "comedy" or "satire", not "incitement" or "hate speech".
The lesson is: If you are on the left and point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of the left's favorite punching bags (southern whites, rural folks, Christians) it is “comedy”. If you are on the right and point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of left-wing campus ideologues, you are "inciting violence", "harassing", etc.
Our universities are in dire need of reform. It’s getting more obvious by the year. Universities must provide space for speakers or students or professors to speak their minds as long as they do not call for violence. But our campus administrations, fearful of the ire of the student left, functions by a glaring double standard. They do not apply the same standards to speakers on the left as it does to speakers on the right.
University administrations should enact strict policies ASAP that make it clear that protesting visiting speakers is any student’s right, but disrupting their talks or shutting down their talks through mass bullying is censorship and will not be tolerated. Campus police need to start monitoring events and protests and identifying those who seek to disrupt and censor in this way. I’m thinking: One strike and you’re warned, two strikes and you’re expelled.
In fact I'm not optimistic. Most American universities already are going out of their way to implement authoritarian speech codes so as to make everyone feel "welcome" and "safe". This is a grave mistake. University must be a place where young adults debate, where they are challenged out of their comfort zones and shaken out of their preconceived notions. University is not a place where students come to be coddled and celebrated.
It is time to stand up strong against this debased political movement that calls itself the left. Respect for open debate and free speech must be re-established in our public square and especially on our campuses. We need to recognize that free speech is not valuable when it protects popular opinions, but becomes valuable when it protects marginal opinions from being censored. Milo’s talks are well within the bounds of protected free speech. Universities that cannot protect his right to address students who invite him have failed in their most basic mission: to foster open debate between competing social or political views.
Pick up a copy of my collection Idiocy, Ltd. today, deadpan humor so dry it will make your eyes sting, your hair fall out, and paint peel from your walls.