Areopagitica Lost

The current state of the country and the current state of political and intellectual conversation depresses me in a way that it never has before. You have to understand — I’m never happy with the state of the country — that’s the inevitable fate of holding an ideological position that rarely gets any traction — I’m a classical liberal who’d like government to be dramatically smaller than it is now…

Maybe it’s paranoia but it’s been a long time since I felt the thinness of the veneer of civilization and our vulnerability to a sequence of events that might threaten not just the policy positions I might favor but the very existence of the American experiment.

The main way I’ve been dealing with this feeling of despair is to stop paying close attention. I don’t know what depresses me more — the stupidities and dishonesty and tolerance of darkness that come out of the President’s mouth or the response from those that oppose him. Given that I don’t like the President, you’d think I find the response of his enemies inspiring or important. But the responses scare me too, the naked hatred of Trump or anyone who supports or likes him. And of course, it goes way beyond Trump and politics. The same level of vitriol and anger and unreason is happening on college campuses and at the dinner table when families gather to talk about the hot-button issues of the day. Everything seems magnified.

Read the whole thing, it’s very good. Russ Roberts: The World Turned Upside Down (and what to do about it)

I agree 100% with Roberts’ intro, it feels like he wrote for me. He doesn’t mention some things that cause my angst, why “it’s different this time,” but I think he’d agree with them.

I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised at the durability of the vehement response to Donald Trump. I get that Progressives are angry and depressed, but it’s hard for me to imagine they’re more angry and depressed than I was at Barack Obama’s re-election. That was a very dark day and an excruciating 4 more years. You can examine this blog for my criticisms of Barack Obama, but you’ll find nothing like what we hear daily from CNN, MSNBC, or (?) ESPN, or from the hegemony of far left celebrity Twitterers.

I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed at the contrast in the treatment of Antifa with that of the tea party. When the tea party left one of its demonstration sites, the area was cleaner than when they arrived. No fires, little to no profanity, no smashed windows, no beaten Obama supporters. Still, the tea party people were vilified by the media and Democrats, including the charges of racism and Nazism they’ve raised lately to screaming rants. It’s not just free speech, but freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and petitioning for redress of grievances that is under attack – with the implicit support of the very press who wish to preserve their First Amendment right. Apparently, as the only remaining First Amendment right.

When Donald Trump appointee Betsy DeVos comes out in favor of due process, it’s a sexist apocalypse. When Trump rejects the Paris Climate Accord, “we’re all gonna die!” When he removes a few draconian regulations, we can see the Four Horses on the horizon. When Trump turns responsibility for Obama’s unconstitutional DACA executive order over to Congress, it’s Nazism, racism, white supremacism, patriarchal and traitorous. Dial it back people. But they can’t.

Back to Russ Roberts. Given the above, his prescription:

1-Don’t be part of the positive feedback problem. When someone yells at you on the internet or in an email or across the dinner table, turn the volume down rather than up. Don’t respond in kind to the troll. Stay calm. It’s not as much fun as yelling or humiliating your opponent with a clever insult, but it’s not worth it. It takes a toll on you and it’s bad for the state of debate. And you might actually change someone’s mind.

2-Be humble. Shakespeare had it right: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. You’re inevitably a cherry-picker, ignoring the facts and evidence that might challenge the certainty of your views. The world is a complex place. Truth is elusive. Don’t be so confident. You shouldn’t be.

3-Imagine the possibility not just that you are wrong, but that the person you disagree with could be right. Try to imagine the best version of their views and not the straw man your side is constantly portraying. Imagine that it is possible that there is some virtue on the other side. We are all human beings, flawed, a mix of good and bad.

…suffers from the fact that the center and the right have been more polite and civil than the left for decades – and see where that’s gotten us.

Donald Trump is crass, undisciplined and devoid of principle; but it is primarily the exquisite sensibilities of the intersectionality cadre who blame America for every evil that make his actual content inflammatory. They say they can identify “dog whistles” in Trump’s rhetoric, forgetting that it’s only the dog who can hear the whistle.

Is Trump complicit in this? Certainly. His comments on Mexican illegal immigrants are similar to this:

“You cannot go to a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent.”
“I mean you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guy.”
-Joe Biden

…but “that’s just Joe.” Still, Trump’s a piker compared to the rest of Democrat leadership:

“Republicans… [would] rather take pictures with black children than feed them.”
-Donna Brazile

“I’ll have those n*ggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”
-Lyndon Johnson

“[T]ypical white people,”
“clinging to their guns and religion.”
-Barack Obama

“basket of deplorables”
“You f*cking Jew b@stard.”
-Hillary Clinton

Those aren’t distant historical examples, which would be far worse (Woodrow Wilson, for example, the Progressives’ Progressive). Those aren’t dog whistles, they’re fog horns; but, on the left, nobody’s knickers got twisted. That rhetoric is how we got Trump.

As far as the hoi polloi are concerned, on one side of protest demonstrations we see a marginalized group promoting white supremacy, who have with very few exceptions been non-violent except in self defense. On the other, we see a larger group, promoting black supremacy, that uses violence regularly and indiscriminately. Criticizing the latter group either brings charges of being a “Nazi sympathizer” from mainstream Democrats, or silence, as classical liberals attempting to exercise freedom of speech are under physical attack at our nation’s universities; in collusion with university administrators and local governments who order police to “stand down.”

Which group is actually a threat to freedom? The group trying to use their right to free speech, or the group routinely using violence to shut down free speech?

I’m reminded of this passage from Alan Bloom’s (1987) The Closing of the American Mind: “I have seen young people, and older people too, who are good democratic liberals, lovers of peace and gentleness, struck dumb with admiration for individuals threatening or using the most terrible violence for the slightest and tawdriest of reasons. They have a sneaking suspicion that they are face to face with men of real commitment, which they themselves lack. And commitment, not truth, is believed to be what counts.

Bloom is writing about people avoiding the messy distractions of understanding their own ‘ideas,’ because “[C]commitment, not truth, is believed to be what counts.” Their rhetoric is excused by their commitment to no more than having unexamined good intentions.

Ronald Reagan had sub-human intelligence. Barry Goldwater was called a Nazi 50 years ago. The KKK is blamed on Republicans when, in fact, it was the action arm of the Democrats. Similarly, racial discrimination by the State: It was, in fact, outright eugenicists and open racists like Woodrow Wilson who reversed integration in the civil service. Even the far left editors at Vox admit this.

Culturally, we’re debating whether your biological sex is dispositive regarding bathroom facilities, while the left insists that any discussion of differences between men and women is absolutely not allowed. Facebook gave up when the number of “gender” choice check boxes available in your profile reached 58, but men and women are indistinguishable.

If you write a polite, scientifically factual memo questioning Google’s discriminatory hiring practices, you get fired. Meanwhile, Google downranks results from websites not fitting their political views.

Meanwhile, we waste blood and treasure half-heartedly defending poppy farmers in Afghanistan, because “homeland security,” while the territory you can visit in Europe is continually eroded by “no-go” zones and our courts plunk down on the side of unrestricted immigration.

And now I’m back to agreeing with the author’s intro, but you can’t remain silent in order to get along. That’s a complete oversimplification of Roberts’ advice, but it’s hard to remember that when some antifa thug is spraying spittle.

This is how you get more Trump. If that isn’t depressing, what is? Well, the thought of Hillary as President may be one thing.

@TheJuanWilliams confuses cause and effect

The evidence is not that whites oppose Obama’s policies because of his melanin content, but that blacks support those policies because of it.

Blacks are the group most hurt by 40-50 years of Democrat rule in all our major cities. Blacks are disproportionately harmed by Barack Obama’s immigration policies and support for the NEA’s anti-charter school propaganda. Black unemployment is sky high and black middle-class home ownership has fallen drastically. If the results are against blacks’ interests, what is an alternative explanation for their ongoing support of the black politicians who failed them?

Oh, and it’s deliciously ironic that Williams was fired by NPR over his ‘racial’ comments about Muslims. And he wasn’t treated very well by Vivian Schiller (former President and CEO, National Public Radio): “If you want to be a political activist, you may not also be a reporter or news analyst for NPR. His [Williams] feelings that he expressed on FOX News are really between him and his, you know, psychiatrist or his publicist.”

The whole PBS enterprise is an exercise in leftwing political activism. They just couldn’t stand the fact that Williams appeared on Fox News.

I hope Williams is on Special Report tonight and that Krauthammer is, too.

Racing for votes

For those of you unfamiliar with the damage Coleman Young (Mayor 1972-1994) did to Detroit, this Powerline post will be of interest: How Coleman Young Ruined Detroit

I also present it in support of my contention that Coleman Young’s race-baiting can be connected directly to the social milieu in which Trayvon Martin was immersed. Martin grew up in a culture Coleman Young promulgated.

And now the New York Times has a hint that the president is dipping his toes in the waters prepared for him by Young:

If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should. Income inequality will continue to rise…

Racial tensions won’t get better; they may get worse, because people will feel as if they’ve got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot. If the economy is growing, everybody feels invested.

President Obama does not want us to believe that his economic policies are the problem, and he feels compelled to hint that failure to solve them on his terms may have racial consequences. Standing alone, this comment would not be “playing the race card,” but it gives one pause when combined with his need to insert himself in the cases of Professor Henry Gates and Trayvon Martin, and his (like Young’s) war on the suburbs.

Brawley, Mangum and Martin

In the tradition of Al Sharpton’s Tawana Brawley fiasco (Brawley’s false accusation of rape), over which Alton H. Maddox, Jr. lost his law license, and the travesty of justice in the Duke Lacrosse case (false rape accusation from Crystal Gail Mangum) that cost Durham County North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong his job and his law license:

[T]he Department of Justice played a major behind-the-scenes role in organizing protests against George Zimmerman.

I guess this is what president Obama’s Administration calls “community organizing.”

Now that most people expect George Zimmerman to be exonerated in a trial that should never have taken place, you should know about the involvement of the Obama Administration. You paid for the DOJ bit, after all.

Florida taxpayers should be livid that they’ve paid for the trial.

For the record, I don’t expect Eric Holder to be disbarred.

ID This

Flying requires an ID and a State-sanctioned groping, so it’s hard to figure why casting a vote should not require you to at least identify yourself. But in Attorney General Eric Holder’s opinion showing an ID to vote is a “racial burden.” Of course, he also thinks complaints regarding his own prevarications about supplying guns to Mexican drug gangs are racist. He wants to limit you to purchasing one handgun per month, but voting more than once is not to be hindered.

Requiring ID has a history of being used to keep blacks from owning firearms. Since voting and owning a gun are Constitutional rights, Eric Holder should advocate disbanding BATFE, a clearly racist organization by his own definition.

If it’s OK to require ID and registration to buy a gun, a clearly Constitutional right, why should voters not have ID? Which is most dangerous to the Republic, flying without ID, unlicensed guns or voter fraud?