A note on Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn features in a couple of the links which will appear soon in a 14th Anniversary post for this blog, but I’m not waiting for February 19th to post this bit.

This Just In!
A Cockwomble Reaches for The Hockey Stick

Steyn could use your help defending himself, and the First Amendment, against both Michael “Hokeystick” Mann and Cary “Crazy” Katz.

Punitive lawfare is a preferred weapon of the anti-freedom-of-speech elite, and Steyn is at the forefront of these fights because he wouldn’t abase himself.  Under the US justice system, the process has become the punishment.

The Mann case has dragged on for 8 years.  Katz, who definitively lost a suit he initiated against Steyn (and refuses to pay up), is a very rich guy who… well you’d have to read about what an evil looter he is, and we don’t have space here.

Support Mark Steyn.  Buy a book, a mug, a t-shirt, a CD, or, better yet join The Mark Steyn Club.

His fight is your fight.

Counter-Enlightment mobs on Twitter

Enlightenment Wars: Some Reflections on ‘Enlightenment Now,’ One Year Later

That Steven Pinker piece is rich in references, long, and thoughtful. You will certainly find some things in it to which you object.

For example, I think this sentence, “But no one would suggest that the state of the environment has improved in the past 250 years anyway — on the contrary, many of the improvements for humanity came at the expense of the planet,” is gibberish. A sop, as Pinker says later, to “the relentless fatalism of orthodox environmental journalism and activism.

In fact, allimprovements for humanity came at the expense of the planet,” so Pinker has given us an understated tautology.

At least since the failure of Eden Bank and Trust, none of the progress he documents would have been possible without drawing on the Bank of Gaia. Shall we define high environmental quality as “red in tooth and claw,” with human lives “nasty, brutish and short?” While extreme environmentalists may count humanity as a cancer*, what other environmental metric should sane humans use than human well-being?

It isn’t either/or. Caring about human well-being means we need to care about the environment, and wealthier societies are far better able to do this. We are the only species who are even capable of thinking about how our activities affect other life, but we’re likely to do little of that while starving, or suffering from deadly, preventable diseases.

Pinker more or less acknowledges this disconnect starting a paragraph later, but it doesn’t excuse that sentence.

I also think Pinker is subject to living too near the edges of the Trump Derangement Syndrome cabal, but his points about Trump all have some core validity.

Enough quibbling. A recommended read, which begins:

You wouldn’t think that a defense of reason, science, and humanism would be particularly controversial in an era in which those ideals would seem to need all the help they can get.

I guess! After this weekend’s events on the DC Mall, and the ongoing vitriolic hatred propelled by rushing to preconceived judgment.

The Enlightenment bequeathed us many things. Among them, transistors.  Leading, unfortunately, to Twitter. It’s the hair trigger of a polity in which 15 year olds receive near instant death threats for simply standing still, smiling nervously in the face of a practiced adult ‘bully for profit,’** while being vilely insulted by adult Black supremacists whose probability of being slaves would be far higher (as would everyone’s) without the Enlightenment.

Pinker describes the central Enlightenment idea these collectivists want to destroy:

“Practices that blatantly violate human freedom and dignity, like slavery, serfdom, imperialism, and caste systems, are to be condemned; all other norms and customs are incommensurable across cultures and may not be judged as superior or inferior.”

It’s Enlightenment values that proscribe and yet protect pre-Enlightenment tribal hatreds. Victims of grievance ideology can’t merely ignore the progress Pinker documents, they have to paint it as evil.

*See also, The Simon Abundance Index: A New Way to Measure Availability of Resources
“[E]very additional human being born on our planet seems to be making resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.

**No link to a GoFundMe campaign being run on his behalf, but the goal is $50,000.  Of which $380 has been pledged.  The beg:

On Friday, January 18th, 2019, Native American Vietnam War Veteran Nathan Phillips was mocked and harassed by a group of young men in “Make America Great Again” hats on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The disrespect and intimidation displayed by these young men were heartbreaking to me and many others across the country. Given the atrocious actions the U.S. has taken against Native American communities since colonization started in the Americas, this incident was a reflection of how much of that same ignorance and bigotry is still present in our society.

I know that this is a very small gesture relative to the harm that was caused by this specific incident and the many decades of history leading up to this. However, I hope that this GoFundMe campaign can make even a small difference for Mr. Phillips and his community.

Funds raised by this campaign will go directly to Mr. Phillips to use as he sees fit to aid himself and/or his community.

Nor any link to some far left site called Inquisitr:

“Now, the internet has responded by raising thousands of dollars to support Phillips and a non-profit organization he leads called Native Youth Alliance. The response was meant to put a positive spin on an ugly incident that has gained viral attention and to help the Native American activist, who was caught in the middle of the incident.”

Those are but two examples of fundraising off Nathan Phillips’ bullying.

A teaching moment for Nathan Phillips

What can we learn about masculinity from the Covington Catholic High School foofaraw? Who acted like a Man? How would we decide?

Let’s start with what it means to be a Man by revisiting a bit from an earlier post; the Feminist list of toxic masculine traits – stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression. Feminists focus solely on the negative aspects, but there are also positive behaviors associated with that list:

Stoicism. Self-control and fortitude. Overcoming adversity. The absence of whining, enabling men to work in dirty, dangerous, uncomfortable jobs.
Competitiveness. The entrepreneurial impulse. The urge to scientific curiosity. The drive to co-operate by winning within the rules.
Dominance. Negotiating skill. Drive to succeed. Good leadership.
Aggression. Protecting the weak. Response to threats.

Who demonstrated the plus side of those traits? Our competitors are Nathan Phillips, ‘Vietnam era’ Marine and long time Leftist “activist,” and Nick Sandmann, a high school student.

The focus of the SJW ire was (amazingly still is, in many cases) on Sandmann.  They want to destroy his life.

But, it was Sandmann who stood calmly while Phillips approached him, chanting and glaring, and continually beating a drum inches from Sandmann’s nose. It was Sandmann, while engaged with Phillips, who signaled to another student to knock off arguing with another protestor after that protestor had said, “Go back to Europe, you don’t belong here.”

There’s little argument that Mr. Sandmann was stoic. After an hour of filthy verbal abuse from the Black supremacists protesting on the Mall, the chaos escalated. In Mr. Phillips, Sandmann suddenly faced an even more confusing and potentially dangerous situation. He did so without complaint. He wasn’t stone faced, you could see the emotions flashing across his face when Mr. Phillips rudely challenged him, but Sandmann controlled them. Mr. Phillips claim he was trying to protect the Black supremacists is ludicrous on its face. Which bring us to competitiveness

Mr. Phillips’ game was, “I get to play the victim.  You get to play the oppressor.  1) I’m going to force you to move, or 2) make you push my drum away from your face. I win when you retreat. I get bonus points if you get physical.”

Turning away is potentially dangerous. If you ‘run,’ you look like prey. If you touch the drum, all hell is likely to break loose.  Mr. Sandmann was forced to play, but, seeking a peaceful outcome, he recognized the rules permitted a third choice. Stoic tolerance.

Dominance? Well, Nathan Phillips was obviously trying to incite Mr. Sandmann. Mr. Sandmann peacefully stood his ground despite having his personal space noisily invaded. And, he showed leadership in urging a classmate to cease an argument with one of Mr. Phillips’ fellow protestors.

Finally, aggression. Mr. Phillips was clearly the aggressor. Mr. Sandmann’s response to the threat was controlled and appropriate. Particularly for his age. His parents should be proud of him.  Mr. Sandmann’s performance under fire was exemplary.

The Man here was Mr. Sandmann. Mr. Phillips was the toxic adult.

I score it 4-0.

The Maim Scream Media™ should be ejected for the season.

Who decides what’s “fair?”

We’re from the government, we know everything, and we’re here to make international trade “fair.”

From Cafe Hayek:

First, there’s no reason to suppose that even saintly government officials possess, or could possibly obtain, the knowledge necessary to obstruct in welfare-enhancing ways their fellow-citizens’ trade with foreigners.

Second, there’s no reason to suppose that even stupendously well-informed government officials would, when obstructing their fellow-citizens’ trade, act to promote the general welfare rather than to promote the welfare of special-interest groups.

Third, there’s no reason, if government officials are to be trusted with such extensive powers as you desire, to limit the exercise of those powers only to economic change sparked by trade that crosses political borders.

RTWT

See also: A Failure to Adjust, a long, well documented, explanation of the results of assuming complete knowledge, while complaining that “better complete knowledge” would prevent the problems.

The Left pole

Steven Pinker:
“The left pole.” From where almost every Democrat politician views the world.  And every straight ticket Democrat voter is forced to view it.

Jordan Peterson:
1-Competition and co-operation. Hockey is mentioned. So are men and women.

2- “Art as a “safe space.”” Safe for who? Your political comrades?  A bunch of Leftists give perfect examples of how Stalinist art arose: In defense of censorship by tiny, ‘virtuous’ minorities.

I always thought art should be free to be transgressive. Actually, I thought that freedom was a necessity for art to flourish.

Motor City Mother

If House Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) had been speaking:

New Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Thursday vowed to take on President Trump hours after she was sworn into office, saying before a crowd of supporters, “We’re going to go in and impeach the mothef—er.”

…about her fellow female Congresscritter, Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and if she’d said brotherf***er, she might have had a better point:

As many candidates do, Omar has made her personal background an integral part of her campaign. But neither the candidate nor the reporters who covered her have shown much interest in exploring one aspect of her personal story that recently came to public attention: the fact that she is not legally married to the man she advertises as the husband and the father of her three children. In fact, she is legally married to another man—who may be her brother.

Sarsour on Sharia

Sarsour on Sharia

You can check out those details here: Brunei Adopts Islamic Sharia Law; Flogging, Amputation and Stoning to Death to be Brought in Gradually …and can decide if it’s reasonable and sensible yourself:

“Today… I place my faith in and am grateful to Allah the almighty to announce that tomorrow, Thursday May 1, 2014, will see the enforcement of Sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases,” Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in a speech.

In the first phase, fines and jail terms will be given for pregnancies outside marriage or failure to attend Friday prayers. During the second phase, which will come into effect later this year, whipping and amputation of limbs will be awarded for crimes such as theft and alcohol consumption.

Once the final phase is implemented, offenders will face the death penalty – most likely by stoning – if they insult Koran or Prophet Mohammad.

About 70 percent of the country’s 400,000-strong population is Muslim but most of the punishments under the sharia law are applicable to the non-Muslims as well.

Crimes such as adultery, propagation and practice of religions other than Islam and even failure to perform Friday prayers attract harsh punishments under the sharia law.

That’s “basics” in at least one jurisdiction, and since Islam is as much political as religious – the church and state cannot, by definition, be separated – there’s absolutely nothing to prevent these rules in ANY Sharia jurisdiction.

Even in a, shall we say… more lenient suzerainty, Sharia elevates the rule of man (and “man” is not used here in its “all humans” sense) over the rule of law. Universally to the detriment of females.

Linda Sarsour is a leader of The Women’s March.  It is puzzling that she is held up as a defender of women’s rights while defending a legal system which, in some places, calls for the death by stoning for any woman found in the company of a man other than a close family member. Sexual activity is assumed to have happened.

#MeToo takes on a whole new meaning.

Note to Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria,

As a newly elected Congressional Representative, self-described democratic socialist, open borders advocate, Medicare for all proponent, free college education supporter, BDS enthusiast, and CAGW partisan you have your work cut out for you in your new job.

I think it’s possible you’re operating under a few misconceptions that will make that job more difficult. For example:

And so I do think that right now we have this no-holds-barred, Wild West hyper-capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world, and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started, we were not a capitalist [nation], we did not operate on a capitalist economy.

Not exactly. There hasn’t been anything resembling hyper-capitalism in world history, and certainly not in the United States since about the time of Woodrow Wilson. We are far from achieving a free market system.  “Profit at any cost” is, in any case, not a charge reasonably leveled at capitalists.  But, you know this, since you have a degree in economics.  Right?

You do seem confused about what socialism is:

When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’ I think what it really means is just democratic participation in our economic dignity and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.

To me, what socialism means is to guarantee a basic level of dignity. It’s asserting the value of saying that the America we want and the America that we are proud of is one in which all children can access a dignified education. It’s one in which no person is too poor to have the medicines they need to live.

Noble sentiments, with which few would disagree, but perhaps you should pay more attention to the current example being set in Venezuela, where they’re trying out actual socialism. They’ve run out of medicine and most citizens are on the verge of starvation.  I’m not sure how your concept of dignity squares with the desperation of eating zoo animals, or prostitution for food, or surgery without anesthesia, but it’s at odds with mine.

Venezuela, where you might profitably look for evidence regarding how your intentions translate into reality, is bucking this trend:

“In 1981, the year Ronald Reagan became America’s 40th President, 44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1.90 per person per day). Last year, it was 9.6 percent. That’s a decline of 78 percent.”

…which is causally associated with the capitalist idea of free markets.

Of course, that’s what we would term “current events.” So, a little history, in case you think that the Chavez/Maduro experiment has simply had a run of temporary “bad luck*”: In 2017 (60 years after the revolution) Cubans’ average monthly salary reached a post-revolutionary all time high of 767 pesos, or $28.94 a month. That’s half of the extreme poverty line. Dignity for Cubans might be more easily achieved if fewer of them were very poor, and fewer had been driven to emigrate.  This is hard to achieve, but your ideas make it harder.

*“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

― Robert Heinlein

As you say on your website merchandise page “There is nothing radical about moral clarity.” Perhaps you should check your clarity.  Your good intentions don’t make that clarity moral.

Nitpicks

I recently became aware of Tablet Magazine via this under-reported article: Is the Women’s March Melting Down?, which goes into lengthy, well documented detail exploring connections between The Women’s March and some closeted anti-semites. While it’s not the point of this post, to those who may have interest it’s recommended.  This sort of analysis used to be called journalism.

I subscribed to Tablet’s newsletter because of it, and was rewarded today with a profile of Jordan Peterson from May of this year: The Shocking Truth About Jordan Peterson

“Shocking” is irony, or clickbait, or both.  This is a thoughtful and balanced look at Peterson, which I highly recommend. But, I have a couple of quibbles.

Wesley Yang (the author), makes this point early in the piece:

It really does require watching a few hours of his sprawling, digressive, improvisatory lectures to reach a judgment of who Peterson is, what his motives are, and what would be the likely consequences of his ideas being adopted in the world. In fact, Peterson supports virtually nothing that wouldn’t fit comfortably into the center-left to center-right governing consensus that obtained in the last 40 years in America. How do I know this? Because there are hundreds of hours of video posted online of Peterson talking.

Here is the Achilles’ heel of the campaign to oust Jordan Peterson from the margins of respectable society: You don’t have to outsource your judgment to journalistic authorities in the age of the internet. You can see for yourself.

And that is exactly the reason attacks on Peterson have failed to destroy him. “You can see for yourself,” from decades of lectures.  I mention this because it features in later cavils.

Here are the specifics with which I take issue.

On Peterson’s rejection of gender pronouns:

[He] stated his intention to defy any prospective attempt through the force of law to compel him to adopt gender-neutral pronouns in his classroom at the University of Toronto

Um, not exactly. Those would include minutely gender-specific pronouns, potentially hundreds of them, many not neutral, and which can change on a whim.

About Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life:

That message was cleverly packaged as “self-help.”

Well, yes, it was categorized that way. But those who bought the book, precisely because they’d viewed those videos, were looking for more of:

[T]he deeper message, which lingered on the inescapability of suffering, tragedy, limitation, and loss, enjoined those consigned to such a fate, as we all are, to meet it through taking on the heaviest burden of responsibility they could bear. In other words, a message that was antithetical to the “get rich quick,” or “visualize your way to success” ethos endemic to the genre.

I think it could have been packaged as “modern philosophical musings on stoicism” and it still would have been a runaway bestseller.  Because of his video history and his viral defense of freedom of conscience, cleverness was not required.

On the repeated suggestion that Peterson is periodically immodest, immoderate and intemperate:

He speaks to journalists, even those who plainly have it in for him, in exactly the same forthright manner as he does anyone else—as if he is free to indulge any thought experiment or rhetorical gambit he likes with a willing and sympathetic interlocutor in pursuit of the truth. He has behaved abominably at times and refuses contrition or regret on principle. He is stubborn as hell…

Jordan Peterson may have already allowed himself to become too immured in the fractiousness of our time to be the figure whose intervention breaks the fever. He is a messenger whose immoderate personal conduct has worked at cross purposes to the essential moderation of his message. While his own personal following is likely to grow unabated, continuing to enrich him, the progressive consensus has immunized itself against his message—one that is fundamentally correct on certain crucial aspects of the conundrum we face—with an assist from Peterson’s own immodest tongue.

Yes, you can plausibly call Peterson’s reaction to the scurrilous attacks documented in the article immodest or intemperate, but a study of the man’s corpus of work will suggest the word “humble.” Watching the famous Cathy Newman interview will strongly suggest the word “patience,” – of a saint – in the face of great provocation.  And, yes, speaking in a consistent and forthright manner can make the press call you immoderate, even abominable. Forthright consistency is not a fault in the speaker, but of the press corps reaction and need to monetize their political views.

Was “continuing to enrich him,” necessary to our understanding?

Yes, Progressive consensus is solidified. In regard to Peterson’s message, that means it’s gone from zero degrees Celsius to zero degrees Kelvin. Progressives would never accept what he says, no matter how he said it. Consider: The left-wing ideological immunization specialists will long since have scoured the wealth of video Peterson has online for vaccine enhancers. Yang, again:

It really does require watching a few hours of his sprawling, digressive, improvisatory lectures to reach a judgment of who Peterson is, what his motives are, and what would be the likely consequences of his ideas being adopted in the world.

Well, they have watched those lectures. That they don’t publish examples of his “hateful” behavior from that long history means there aren’t any.  Still, they “see for themselves,” what isn’t there.  There are precious few attempts to even engage with his points. Half of those are insubstantive “intellectual” dismissals, assuming their premises.

Peterson’s most virulent critics employ willfully ignorant ad hominem attacks on contextually misappropriated outtakes. A point the author makes quite well.

RTWT.