Movie review

BUMPED. Update at the end.

The Rise Of Jordan Peterson

I bought this because of my interest in Jordan Peterson and because it received some good reviews as a dispassionate presentation of how a University of Toronto psychology professor suddenly became a world famous, polarizing “public intellectual.”

I was disappointed. I found it superficial and unenlightening. There are a lot of interleaved, ten second soundbites: Pro/con, “He is the ultimate father figure.”/“So, you’re anti-justice. Are you a Batman villain?” There’s a “what” to this documentary, but we are left to wonder why anyone holds such opinions.

This film doesn’t help in understanding the virality of a intellectual cultural phenom whose dozens of 2.5 hour University lectures attract ~5 million views each on YouTube. Or why an assistant professor of sociology will grade any paper mentioning Peterson with an “F;” seeming to confirm one of Peterson’s criticisms of the modern University.

Strictly as a documentary, it very nearly does manage to take no position. As an examination of Peterson’s ‘rise’ it is short on context or background.

Peterson’s objections to Bill C-16 gave him a viral blip when he publicly objected to compelled use of whimsical, invented pronouns: His corpus of prior work made him a phenomenon.

In fact, it’s the hundreds of hours of video he already had published that protected him from the SJW mob (and, until the Bill C-16 blip, was the motivation for the filmmakers to create this movie). There is no sign in this history of the patriarchal, sexist, transphobic, authoritarian, fascist thinking with which he is charged. A point which is not made evident in the film, despite a few truncated clips of his earlier work.

There’s much, much, much more explanation of Peterson’s rise in the video record preceding his tussle with the Canadian nanny-state. Peterson’s rise was propelled by the fact that he is a charismatic speaker and a powerful teacher.

The filmmakers’ attempt at even-handedness may be sincere, but the overall impression is more that Peterson promoted a free speech controversy as a way to enrich himself, not that he was risking his career. For an American audience, without a sense that freedom of speech in Canada is clinging to a cliff by one hand, the film is simply puzzling.

Supposed allies are shown expressing trepidation about Peterson’s outspokenness. This objection is to be expected from most Canadians, whose government has an uneasy relationship with freedom of speech and who are congenitally uncomfortable with controversy. See Mark Steyn, Lindsay Shepherd, etc..

And there are unanswered, factually incorrect slurs. A former supporter turned critic finds evidence of authoritarian impulses in Peterson’s collection of Soviet-era art (prominent in the movie). The reasons for this art are precisely the opposite of what is implied. If Peterson was asked for a response, it’s on the cutting room floor. Here is that response from an interview of Peterson:

[Tyler] COWEN: Let me start with a very lateral question. Why do you collect old Communist memorabilia and propaganda?

PETERSON: Well, part of it is dark comedy. Really, I spent quite a bit of time on eBay for a number of years. And I had read this article by a psychologist named James Pennebaker. He said that the past turned into history at 15 years. That’s when you start to see people commemorate events in the past. At that point, it was 2004, and I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. It’s 15 years since the Soviet Union collapsed. Maybe I can go online and see what historical memorabilia is left over.”

So I went on eBay, looking up Soviet artifacts, and I thought that was so comical because there isn’t anything more capitalistic than eBay, right? Seriously, that was completely unrestrained capitalism. And then all this Soviet-era stuff was for sale. I thought it was absolutely comical that I could buy paintings of Karl Marx discounted on the world’s most intense capitalist platform…

Some of it is intensely propagandistic, and I’m interested in that because I’m interested in propaganda… So it was interesting to surround myself with these works that were battlegrounds between art and propaganda.

Here’s a vastly better look at Jordan Peterson from the Claremont Review of Books: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon and it takes less time to read than it takes to watch the movie.

I was quite disappointed, and it caused me to wonder if those cancel culturists pressing theaters to scrub scheduled showings (that link also has a positive review, for contrast) had any idea what was in it. They couldn’t have watched it. Maybe that was just a marketing ploy by the producers.

2 stars anyway, because I learned more about his parents and his family via of the access Peterson granted.

**************

Update: March 10th, 2020
I’ve watched a Q&A with the filmmakers arranged by Columbia University (the filmmakers have established a presence on thinkspot, Peterson’s Patreon replacement), wherein they explained how they approached the filming. And where they answered some of my objections. I was impressed with their commitment to truth. I withdraw my suspicion of ‘marketing ploy.’

I can be persuaded by speech to change my speech.

So. I re-read the favorable review at Quillette. I watched the film again. I’m changing my rating.

If your expectations are informed by some knowledge of Peterson: That the pronoun controversy only triggered ‘The Rise,’ and that that ‘Rise’ would have been a two-day wonder, and only in Canada, and flaming out in a dog-pile of SJW hatred except for the preexisting, deep background of his lectures – then the movie is well worth watching for the peek into his life and family.

I’ll give it 4 stars on that basis.

Jordan Peterson was always the guy who would calmly expose Cathy Newman. We just would never have known it but for Bill C-16.

John Kerry, belatedly, proven right

Qasem Soleimani, deceased commander of the Quds Force (Iran’s amalgam of the CIA and Navy Seals), a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – designated as a terrorist organization last year – has a long history of conducting war against the United States.

He helped plan the attack on our Benghazi diplomatic facilities. He armed dozens of militia groups enabling them to kill hundreds of Americans. He was responsible for the Dec. 27th attack near Kirkuk that killed an American contractor. He organized the recent attack on the American embassy (i.e., American soil) in Baghdad by Quds Force proxy Kata’ib Hezbollah; who raised their flags on its walls.

He had been sanctioned by the previous administration in 2011:
Flashback: Obama Sanctioned Soleimani for Attempted Terror Attack in Washington, DC

“Under Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, Soleimani was to be removed from international sanctions after eight years, though then-Secretary of State John Kerry promised that sanctions against Soleimani would be in place “forever.””

Now, John Kerry is right. If not about the sanctions he was thinking about.

Soleimani was traveling when he died after a very short illness.

Our Maim Scream Media is describing Soleimani as a “revered figure” and a “war hero.” One Progressive wag suggested Soleimani’s demise was like the killing of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Captain America “all in one.”

This person was referring to the sentiments of Iranians, most of whom, au contraire, are glad the asshole is in pieces. Still, I can’t help but consider that promoting such concern over a terrorist is like the Confederate press favorably noting the North’s mourning of Lincoln’s assassination, the British press happily detailing celebrations of Washington’s victories, and the Red Skull posting excerpts of Captain America’s eulogy on his blog.

So, the parallel with the American press is accurate.

They make fun of me, too

Business Insider has a glacial news day. Still needs clicks.

This was published the day after Speaker Pelosi said she had asked the six Democrat committee chairmen investigating Trump to draft articles of impeachment:
Trump’s salt and pepper shakers tower over everyone else’s. Obama, Bush, and Clinton used the same size shakers as their guests.

You’d think they could have saved the salt and pepper jokes for later, in case Biden and Kamala end up as nominees. And they shouldn’t even attempt competition with the Babylon Bee.

In addition to the extended headline – clearly intended to compare Trump unfavorably to Obama, Bush, and Clinton – BI speculates that “it could also be another power move, alongside his fierce handshakes and bulky suits.”

And nothing about eating dogs, mispronouncing nuclear, or creative uses for cigars. Sad.

They can’t even perpetrate a hit job properly. They couldn’t find anybody to interview who’d contend larger salt and pepper shakers are compensation for the size of Trump’s penis? Couldn’t somehow extrapolate to a dinner of fried chicken, collard greens and watermelon for Texas Rep Al Green? And where was Pamela Karlan when she was needed for more hysterical riffing on Baron’s name?

I admit I feel sympathetic to the President. I have, at bare minimum, two similar quirks. These two are not exhaustive, they just come to mind immediately and unbidden.

1- My wife and I own some high quality, yet everyday, stainless-steel-ware she favors. From a purely visual esthetic standpoint, she’s right. Functionally, not so much.

This is the default guest silverware (sorry, everyone), unless we trust them enough to bring out the actual silverware AND we’re having a State dinner. This happens rarely anymore.

I vastly prefer a set of older, cheaper, thinner, more utilitarian eating utensils. These are kept in a separate drawer from the ‘good’ everyday cutlery. To demonstrate, I suppose, that when I reach into ‘that drawer’ my Philistine tastes do not represent the refinement of the rest of the household. That would be my wife.

Oh, there are jokes and chuckles from the rest of the family about it, too. When they gather to eat my turkey, for example, it’s been unaccountably described as ‘baby silverware,’ though most humans under the age of twelve can’t even lift the ‘good’ set, nor fit a supposed teaspoon in their mouth if they did manage it.

This, even though I keep my silence when they reach for the grinder containing pink Himalayan ‘sea salt.’

2- If I get a pepper shaker (usually this is in a restaurant, since I know which domestic pepper dispensers actually dispense) that delivers only a few flakes every minute even with violent shaking, I unscrew the top so I can get a heaping teaspoon or so on my cottage cheese before the Universe succumbs to entropy.

As a guest at someone’s home, I carefully consider my relationship to my hosts, but unscrewing the top in such cases is not unheard of. I have a reputation for it.

IAC. You might, if you were BI, speculate that I prefer thinner eating utensils because I’m trying to demonstrate humility to my guests, or that I use a lot of pepper as a power tripping display of my macho masculine toxicity. Or, that we couldn’t afford a whole set of the ‘good’ kind.

Well, BI would be wrong. I don’t like my wife’s favored silverware because it’s very handle heavy, tending to balance poorly on the edge of a plate. To get it to balance, the handle has to be shoved into the mashed potatoes, and the business end of the tablespoon is just slightly too wide to be effective at the speed with which I wish to engage my piehole.

As to pepper… on some foods I just like what many consider an overdose. Cottage cheese, for example, is pretty bland and, to my lingual papillae it has some mysterious property that neutralizes the taste of pepper. You need a lot.

I can’t speak to Trump’s fierce handshakes or, necessarily, to bulky suits. I find the dominance handshake pathetic, and I wouldn’t notice whether a suit was bulky. The ‘necessarily’ because I have owned suits which fashion neutral, friendly male observers have described as “horse blankets.” I do not dispute this comparison. In fact, I rather liked it.

President Trump may have similar reasons for his salt and pepper shakers, his hair style, and his skin tone. So? Let’s impeach him.

The only surprise? Green and Castro didn’t blame Russia

Barack Obama was elected President despite a significant black racism controversy.

Hillary Clinton came within a hair’s breadth of becoming President, and is still adored by a significant portion of the Democrat electorate. This adoration lingers in the interminable attempt to impeach President Trump.

One might expect Democrats to point to these facts as evidence that, 1) the Democratic party has abandoned its legacy of Klansmen and Jim Crow and, 2) if Hillary’s near miss is not enough to dispel charges of misogyny, there’s the party’s unequivocal devotion to the pieties of Planned Parenthood.

One would be disappointed.

Now come Rep. Al Green (D., Tex.) and Julian Castro, Democratic Presidential candidate, Obama’s former Secretary of HUD, and rumored VP pick for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Green and Castro find racism and misogyny in their fellow congresscritters and in the Democrat base, respectively.

Dem Rep Laments Absence of Black Impeachment Witnesses

Green said that if he was wrong about the racial composition of the witnesses, he would apologize. “But if the committee is wrong, if the Congress is wrong, what will it do?”

Well, given the Dems impeachment theater performance to date you might first ask, “Wrong about what?” But, the seriousness of an impeachment is not Rep. Green’s issue. His question is about witness DNA, of which he can’t quite be sure.

He hedges his bet on “racial composition” because he can’t be certain if the ‘one drop‘ rule includes any of the three Progressive law professors tasked by Jerry Nadler (D., NY), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to express their naked partisan opinions that Trump should be impeached, because reasons… and that he shouldn’t have named his son Barron, because Barons made King John sign the Magna Carta… or something. Or, who knows, maybe one of these Profs secretly identifies as black and Green doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of that Twitter storm.

Mr. Castro, on the other hand, does not directly accuse his own party, but he does go after the Democrat propaganda machine.

Mr. Castro’s party, you may remember, is that whose DNC suppressed a male socialist anti-semite (how times have changed) in favor of a female habitual liar, who in 1992 mounted a campaign to label women her husband seduced or raped as a ‘Bimbo Eruption.’ That same ‘likeable enough’ cattle futures profiteer the Dems superdelegate conspiracy somehow failed to nominate over a black man in 2008.

No, Mr. Castro blames the press for forcing probable Democrat primary voters to disfavor Kamala Harris. If I were cynical, I’d say he’s just pandering to her meager constituency in a desperate attempt to get on the Dec. 19th debate stage, for which she had qualified and he has not. Julian Castro and MSNBC Agree: Media Held Kamala Harris to a Different Standard

Mr. Castro has not been held to any standard, because he’s irrelevant.

It’s true, though, that there is a different standard. It’s just temporarily out of favor. It’s the the one the press applied to Barack Obama. That same press that depicted Obama as a leg tingling, “lightworker,” “perfectly creased pant,” haloed on the cover of Time, Newsweek and The Rolling Stone. That press did more than treat Barack Obama with kid gloves.

While the press did circle the wagons to defend Obama’s association with the Rev. Wright, they were forced to report it – and some thought it might derail Obama’s candidacy. Of course, their insurance plan then was Hillary – not Comey, McCabe, Clapper, Brennan, Strzok, and Page.

Now they have only Bloomberg as backup to Warren or Biden. I’d be nervous, too.

That Obama’s candidacy wasn’t ended by the Wright racism story is due in part to his facile tongue; in part to an utter lack of MSM curiosity about his sealed academic record and why, during his tenure as Harvard Law Review President, he never published an article; and in part to the noted fawning adulation.

How the press treated Obama was indeed better than they treated Harris, whom they treated nowhere near as badly as any Republican. And, in the beginning, Harris didn’t get off too badly:
Joy Reid, MSNBC host: The name I’m hearing now — there was a sheet of people, sort of survey, of prominent women in politics. Number one name of the person that’s on people’s minds, Kamala Harris.

Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC host: The politician she reminded me of most then was Barack Obama. Kamala Harris is now running for president. And she is one of the top tier candidates.

Chris Matthews, MSNBC host: There’s a new challenger to Trump and she is drawing huge crowds, Senator Kamala Harris of California kicked off her campaign this week and surrounded by — look at that crowd. Trump must be envious as hell.

Squandered that. Harris was flawed, unprepared and had a dysfunctional campaign organization. That those facts formed part of the reportage on Harris’ performance is not a different standard unless compared to the tongue bath the press gave Obama. Democrat Primary voters were not polling/donating well enough to keep her in the race, and it’s Democrat Committee members who selected the witnesses of the wrong ‘racial composition.’

If the Dems are sniffing about for diversity, you might think that would include Taiwanese Christians or Samoan-American Hindus who also come equipped with fresh ideas. You’d be wrong. MSNBC Contributor: ‘Yang and Gabbard Don’t Represent the Democratic Party’s Minority Base’ The implication? Only blacks count as diverse. Until the Hispanic Castro drops out of the race, anyway.

Neither Yang nor Gabbard carry the baggage of having slept* their way into elective office, nor Harris’ corrupt prosecutorial history. It’s Gabbard’s Dem debate zinger on that latter, for which Harris was, as usual, unprepared, that marked the beginning of the Harris campaign’s demise.

This article from the San Luis Obispo Tribune, indicates her campaign was in trouble from the beginning, and because of her actions, not her race or sex.
Can Kamala Harris withstand the scrutiny of a presidential campaign?

And, finally, a quote from that last link one might apply to the Democrat’s impeachment show trial. I found it quite amusing. Someone should read it to Schiff and Nadler.

“My entire career has been focused on our system of justice. It is one of the hallmarks of our system of democracy,” said Harris. “And it becomes weak when people interfere with that system for a political purpose. And no one — in particular right now when there are so Americans that are so distrustful of their government and its leaders and institutions — no one should give the American public any reason to question their integrity or the integrity of our system of justice.”

*At the very beginning of her political career, with a very powerful Democrat 30 years her senior, who bore little resemblance to say, Denzel Washington.

And contra Castro, See the Wapo defense of Harris here.

Deplorable has already been used up

The New York Times spent two years collaborating with the Democrats in trying to convince everyone that Donald Trump conspired with Russia. What can they do now, noses still raw from rubbing in the abject failure of their attempted coup? Take direction from the drove of Democrat presidential candidates; who are moving directly to a different way of trashing America to get at Trump: Fanning racial division.

Assisting in that effort, the Pink Lady is embarking on a project to convince Americans that the United States was founded on slavery, with side shots at capitalism. The Time’s effort is called the 1619 project, after the 400th anniversary of the first slave imported to the US. Which they will refer to as The Founding.
JOHN KASS: Robert Mueller crushed their dreams, so Democrats pivot to race.

After withering Twitter criticism over a headline above a story on Trump’s remarks after the recent back-to-back mass shootings, the Times changed the headline from ‘Trump urges unity vs racism’ to ‘Assailing Hate But Not Guns.’ This sent the newsroom into a navel gazing downward morale spiral. Not because of the change, but because someone could have lacked sufficient wokeness to sully the Times propaganda goals by posting the first headline at all. They had a staff meeting to discuss it.

The truly amazing leaked transcript of that meeting is up at Slate. Should you wish to give them a click, remove the ‘x’ at the end of that otherwise broken link. I include just one example of the discussion about the NYT pre-election plans.

Baquet is executive editor Dean Baquet. The exchange is prompted by an earlier question/answer (I paraphrase), “Why don’t we call Trump a racist more often?” The answer was, “There are more subtle and powerful ways to call him a racist.”

Staffer: Hello, I have another question about racism. I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country. And I think particularly as we are launching a 1619 Project, I feel like that’s going to open us up to even more criticism from people who are like, “OK, well you’re saying this, and you’re producing this big project about this. But are you guys actually considering this in your daily reporting?”

Baquet: You know, it’s interesting, the argument you just made, to go back to the use of the word racist. I didn’t agree with all of this from [NPR’s] Keith Woods, [but] …his argument, which is pretty provocative, boils down to this: Pretty much everything is racist. His view is that a huge percentage of American conversation is racist, so why isolate this one comment from Donald Trump? His argument is that he could cite things that people say in their everyday lives that we don’t characterize that way, which is always interesting. You know, I don’t know how to answer that, other than I do think that that race has always played a huge part in the American story.

And I do think that race and understanding of race should be a part of how we cover the American story. Sometimes news organizations sort of forget that in the moment. But of course it should be. I mean, one reason we all signed off on the 1619 Project and made it so ambitious and expansive was to teach our readers to think a little bit more like that. Race in the next year—and I think this is, to be frank, what I would hope you come away from this discussion with—race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only African Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.”

So, a staffer asks if the NYT marching orders are, “When writing a story about anything, first and foremost consider how you can include racism as a fundamental characteristic of the United States.” And Baquet says, yes, but don’t be too obvious about it.

They act like this is a new idea, but I’m so old I can remember when they told us the words “Chicago,” and “golf” were racist.

Anyway, you will be hearing this a lot in the next year(s). So, here are two articles debunking the 1619 project that may assist you in refuting the histrionic flurry of statism and race baiting sure to come from Progressives with whom you may be trapped in an elevator.

Slavery Did Not Make America Rich
The Anti-Capitalist Ideology of Slavery