It is interesting to me to examine events and the reaction too them in certain contexts, such as left and right. Below is a listing I found on Facebook (h/t Christopher Buckley) which succinctly states the left’s reaction to each of the events listed:
Rioters in Baltimore: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Stomping on US flag: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Crucifix in a jar of urine: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Cartoon art display: UNPROTECTED INCENDIARY HATE
In fact, rioting is now being redefined (or at least the attempt is being made) from a criminal enterprise to a “free speech” event if a protected minority is involved. If it’s a bunch of straight white guys, they’re going to jail.
Stomping the flag and a crucifix in a jar of urine have always been defended by the left as free speech. Burn the flag – free speech. Neo-Nazi’s marching in a Jewish neighborhood – free speech. The list goes on.
However, it appears that there is a line somewhere on the left where that changes. Outrageous acts focused on offending certain groups are always free speech. Outrageous acts, of exactly the same nature but against protected groups, yeah, screw free speech, it’s hate speech. And, of course, the protected group is the “victim”. On the other side, however, the deeply offended group is told to get over it, free speech is inviolate … well, except … yeah. I’m not sure how the left keeps it straight in their tiny little heads and don’t keel over from an overdose of hypocrisy.
But then, they seem to have developed some sort of tolerance for hypocrisy over the ages – no pun intended.
Apparently the left is now involved in an attempt at ginning up speech codes, redefining words and then trying to prohibit their use because … “racism”. The latest attempt is to equate “thugs” with “n*igger”. That’s right, if you call a rioter a “thug” it’s the same as using the “n-word”.
Here’s a pretty descent response:
In ascribing racial animus to “thug,” the left is actually asserting a moral and logical vertex between “thug” and “black.” The only people who seem to be fixated on a racial undertone are the liberals. I believe the textbooks call that “projection.” Hey Democrats: not all looters are black. And you’re the only ones who seem to think otherwise.
Precisely. And here’s the point (and difference between social activism (ala MLK) and thugs):
If you looted, stole, robbed, assaulted and/or set fire to something/someone in Baltimore, you’re a thug. Torching the neighborhood pharmacy doesn’t make you a revolutionary. Stealing Air Jordans from the local shoe store is not a cry of freedom. And throwing trash cans at passersby will not release you from the bonds of – whatever bonds you believe are holding you back.
A coordinated effort to resist the increasingly militarized storm troopers employed by the government to crush the life out of liberty is social activism. Throwing a brick at tourists who made a wrong turn on the way to Inner Harbor is not.
There’s no nobility in wanton destruction. And pretending otherwise diminishes the sacrifices made by those who were actually motivated by the greater good. Looters, thieves and violent savages not only deserve no respect, attempts to suggest otherwise elevate them beyond their station at the expense of those who manage to challenge the forces of tyranny without looting the Sports Mart. Acting as if Thuggy McThuggerston pinching Pringles from the Quik-E-Mart is “sticking it to the Man” makes a mockery of those who “stuck it to the Man” without knocking over a convenience store.
The fact that the majority of those doing these things were black doesn’t change the fact that their actions were those of thugs – exactly how the context of the word has always been understood, and what race the thugs were was completely irrelevant. Anyone who does the above is a thug.
What is most abhorrent about this debacle in Baltimore is listening to the “leadership” trying to explain this behavior away.
Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young (Democrat):
It is about the pain, the hurt and the suffering of these young people. There’s no excuse for them to loot, riot, and destroy our city. I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children thugs. They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.
If they’re your “children” then you, sir, are an utter failure. They are not misdirected, they’re undirected. They’re under the influence of thugs. And they’re doing exactly what you’d expect a thug to do in such a situation. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s likely a duck. And these “children” are indeed thugs. What Mr. Young wants to do is downplay the seriousness of the rioting and looting, play it off as just the work of some “misdirected children” and absolve himself and others of responsibility. After all, kids will be kids and we need to understand their “hurt” and “suffering” as they loot drugs and burn out a CVS.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Democrat):
“I wanted to say something that was on my heart … We don’t have thugs in Baltimore. Sometimes my little anger interpreter gets the best of me,” she said. “We have a lot of kids that are acting out, a lot of people in our community that are acting out.”
The infantilizing of rioters. They’re just “kids” that are “acting out”. No, Ms. Rawlings-Blake, they’re criminals who are engaged in criminal activities which by that very definition makes them thugs. Looting beer from a store you’ve broken into isn’t “social activism”, it’s theft! And thugs are thieves.
Unfortunately she goes on:
“I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” she said.
There is NO right to “free speech” that involves the destruction of property or looting someone’s property. Those, again, are criminal activities. Those that engage in those sorts of criminal activities are and will always be identified as … thugs. So she chose to indulge the thugs at the expense of the citizens of Baltimore.
It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.
What absolute SJW drivel that is. So her priority was to protect the thugs from “cars and other things that were going on” and to ensure those who wanted to burn cars and businesses as well as loot property had the “space to do that as well”. Serve and protect the citizens of Baltimore? Nope. Serve and protect the thugs. And make excuses for them.
She needs a little dose of recall election quickly. She’s a disgrace.
But the bottom line? No, “thugs” isn’t the same as the n-word unless the n-word now means “criminal”. And no, I won’t stop calling thieves and the like thugs just because some idiot on the Baltimore City Council wants to equate it with the n-word. He and his council are failures. The mayor is a failure. And all they are trying to do, unsuccessfully I might add, is divert attention under the auspices of “damage control”.
Reading over at PJ Media I ran across this by Robert Wargas:
As Baltimore burned, the rest of us tweeted.
The riots followed a weekend in which GoFundMe shut down a fundraising page for a Christian-owned bakery that was hit with a huge fine for refusing to serve a gay wedding. GoFundMe has said its policy precludes raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The key word here is “hateful”: if you can expand or contract that word at will—which many people in this country can and do—you can accomplish anything.
Every week this country is consumed in a new distended orgy of polarized, mutual hatred, set against the backdrop of outrage mobs, race riots, shuttered businesses, scandals, Twitter-induced career ruination, gleeful smear parties, and partisan hackery.
Admit it: You’ve asked yourself where America is going, and how long it can survive the trip. Admit it.
I admit it. In fact, we’ve been talking about it for years here. The fact that it is accelerating comes as no real surprise here. Nor does it come as a surprise that we have the “leadership”, or lack thereof, in Washington DC from which we currently suffer.
In fact, Wargas points out something that Ace at Ace of Spades was wondering the other day:
[T]he New Normal has prompted Ace of Spades to ask: “Is it time to formally separate America into two or more sovereign nations?”
“No one actually seems happy in this national marriage,” writes Ace. That is sadly true.
Indeed it is. And it seems, at least to the side that loves liberty, that the anti-liberty faction in winning.
Of course, our own Dale Franks has been suggesting this may happen for years. It sort of puts you in the same shoes as generations of Christians who’ve looked at what was happening all around them and asked “are we in the “end times” as foretold in the Bible?”
Are we at the edge of seeing this 200 plus year experiment go careening off a cliff?
Who knows? In my experience, something like this has to get a lot worse than it is for that to happen. And we have to remember that we’re bombarded daily with, well, what bleeds leads.
Certainly though, bombardment or not, it is clear that we’re not “doing better” as a country in just about any category you can point too.
The question is, as in our last civil war, are there irreconcilable differences? There certainly were then and it appears there are now. How does one paper over such differences when neither side seems willing to give?
I’m not so sure “getting better” is possible anymore, or at least not possible before some major rupture once again makes it possible. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I look back at this post in 2020 and laugh at myself. But who honestly thinks they’ll be laughing in 2020?
I’m not so sure either. However, here’s a little bit of a test to see if there’s even a chance. From Elizabeth Price Foley over at Insty’s:
LORETTA LYNCH’S FIRST TEST: She’s sending two DOJ officials to Baltimore to meet with community leaders. That’s good. But the real question is: What will they do and say, once they arrive? Will they mimic Erick Holder’s DOJ, and prioritize lectures about white privilege and racism? Or will they provide a voice of calm and reason, and unequivocally condemn the random violence?
Lynch has a chance to break with the embarrassingly biased Holder past and start rebuilding trust in DOJ as a department interested in actual justice (for all). Will she take it?
Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.
And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.
About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.
Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.
Giving in to that has led to this:
And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.
The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.” Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.
And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.
What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.
Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:
“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”
The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.
Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.
It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”
George Will took notice of this study as well.
The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:
Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.
As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.
He goes on:
They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.
And progressivism mandates authoritarianism. It always has and it always will. The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established. One way to do that is through indoctrination. Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way. No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.
The very definition of propaganda. And indoctrination.
However, not all is lost. Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:
There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.
I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago. What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability. Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits. At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.
In a rather long Medium article, another self-identified liberal lashes out at today’s “social justice warriors” (SJW), claiming in reality, they’re social justice bullies and should cease and desist forthwith. Here’s the conclusion of the article (read the whole thing):
Let me finally be abundantly, abundantly clear (I learned this was necessary a few months back). Social justice and social justice advocacy is a good thing. To utilize one’s education to solve social ills is an admirable goal.
The version of millennial social justice advocacy that I have spoken about — one that uses Identity Politics to balkanize groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy — is not admirable. It is deplorable. It appeals to the basest of human instincts: fear and hatred. It is not an enlightened or educated position to take. History will not look kindly on this Orwellian, authoritarian pervision of social justice that has taken social media and millennials by storm over the past few years.
Those who need to hear this message will probably respond that I am 1. too privileged to understand 2. tone-policing the oppressed (and that I shouldn’t tell the oppressed how to treat their oppressors) and 3. really just a closet racist/sexist in a liberal’s clothing. I expect these responses — partially because I am so used to having seen this script play out over the last four years at NYU.
Indeed, the tactics do appeal to the basest of human instincts – “fear and hatred.” That’s by design. And, to their credit, more and more of those identifying themselves as liberal are seeing this for themselves. Not so much because they’ve figured out independently that this is bullying because they’ve thought about it. No, my guess is they’re realizing it because they’ve been subjected to it – no matter how flawless their liberal credentials are.
It only stands to reason. Think about it. As this person points out, Identity Politics “balkanize[s] groups of people, engenders hatred between groups, willingly lies to push agendas, manipulates language to provide immunity from criticism, and that publicly shames anyone who remotely speaks some sort of dissent from the overarching narrative of the orthodoxy .” And it is a part of that orthodoxy that you can’t be a credible voice for one of the groups if you aren’t an accepted member of that group. So a straight, white, male can’t be a feminist no matter how much he believes in the feminist cause. And a feminist, white female is already a racist (because she is a member of the “oppressor” race) by default and is likely to be shamed for speaking from “white privilege”. So a person is pushed into various little boxes and groups that have, depending on your race, sex, sexual orientation and “privilege”, a lot or very little legitimacy in the social justice movement.
Those we hear speaking out against all of this now are in that latter group even though they’re great advocates of social justice. They suddenly see the injustice of this movement that has stolen a step on them and now is in the process of marginalizing them. Of course, this has been the movement’s modus operendi since its inception. However, now that it is catching up “good liberals” in their trawling net, these good liberals are all for open and honest criticism and debate. They’ve decided that the SWJ’s postions are neither “enlightened or educated”. Instead it is bullying.
It’s quite a breakthrough … but only because as the circle gets smaller and tighter, those who are being excluded were once fully on board with the MO. They don’t like being excluded and the focus of that process though (read the link about the author “learning” a lesson a few months back). And while I appreciate their criticism of the MO and its effect, I trust them about as far as I can throw them. Something tells me (experience?) they only want “open and honest criticism and debate” for as long as they’re on the outside looking in.
Here’s what the Social Justice Warriors don’t understand. Discrimination is a part of individual freedom. And with that freedom to discriminate come consequences. It is like the right to free speech – you get to say what you want (other than incitement) and you get to pay the social and cultural consequences for doing so. What others don’t get to do, however, is force you to adopt their values and therefore coerce you to conform. That’s totalitarianism, not freedom.
Why force someone who disapproves of your actions to bake you a cake? Lots of other bakers would love the business. This debate has moved from inclusion to demanding that everyone adopt your values.
In a free country, bigots should have the right to be bigots. Americans should also have freedom of association.
American lawyers talk about special protection for religious freedom, and in the Hobby Lobby case the Supreme Court said you could escape onerous parts of Obamacare by paying lawyers a fortune and convincing judges that you are a closely-held corporation with religious objections. But why must you be religious to practice what you believe? This should be about individual freedom.
Of course, government must not discriminate. The worst of American racism and homophobia—slavery, segregation enforced by Jim Crow laws, bans on interracial marriage, anti-sodomy laws, etc.—was government-enforced discrimination. That was wrong, and it was right for the federal government to intervene.
But private actions are different. If I start a business with my own money, I ought to be allowed to serve only libertarians, people who wear blue shirts, whatever. It’s my business!
My customers have choices. If I am racist or anti-gay, the free market will punish me. Enough people would boycott my business that I would probably lose money quickly.
Many important points.
“In a free country, bigots have the right to be bigots.” And they’ll pay the consequences of being bigots. How? See Stossel’s last paragraph. If an owner of a business is stupid enough to exclude a portion of his customer base out of plain bigotry (“no Irish allowed”) there are likely going to be enough of his “acceptable” customers offended by him that they’ll take their business elsewhere. The consequences of his bigotry will be a loss of business, loss of profit and likely a loss of social prestige. That’s how it works in a free country.
Also in a free country, what everyone should demand is “government must not discriminate …“. The onus of non-discrimination shouldn’t be on the individual forced by government, but on government as forced by the citizens of the land.
How these got flipped is a testament to the perseverance of those who would control your life (under the false guise of freedom) and the neglect of those who thought individual freedom would last forever. Just as free speech can sometimes be ugly, so can discrimination. Social and cultural change usually take care of those who are “ugly” by making them suffer the consequences of their ugliness. We’ve seen that proven any number of times.
What we’re now seeing is a back lash against the SJWs who would use the force of government to make the unwilling comply with their values.
We simply don’t need that if we’re willing to be patient:
Even in the difficult days of Reconstruction, after the Civil War, business began to bring together whites and blacks who might not always have liked each other but who wanted the best deals. It took several years for racists to get Jim Crow passed so they could put a stop to that erosion of the old racist ways. Government helped keep racism going for several more decades.
That last sentence is the key. Jim Crow laws were a product of government! What the civil rights laws did was essentially repeal government mandated discrimination. What we don’t need is a new series of laws that mandate behavior as they did then, even if the new laws are formed with teh best of intentions, they still require the force of government to enforce. And they’ll not be enforced fairly and, as they usually do, will be used to to absurd things to people.
Elizabeth Taylor married nine times. Had she married again, should the EEOC have ordered her to marry someone from an ethnic minority?
A homophobic baker shouldn’t stop a same-sex couple from getting married. Likewise, a gay couple shouldn’t force a baker to make them a wedding cake. No one should ever force anyone to bake them a cake.
Exactly. Here’s the bottom line:
Individuals should be allowed to discriminate. I discriminate all the time. I favor people over others when I choose my friends, jobs, hobbies, clubs, religion, etc. So do you.
Correct. And in a free country that is your inherent right, consequences included.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been fascinated by the UVA/Rolling Stone “rape” debacle. And while it is clear that Rolling Stone, in general, and the author of the RS article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely specifically, broke every journalistic rule out there, there’s a deeper story here (I’ll get to RS and Erdely later).
It’s about why the story even had a chance of being published. It’s about the combination of “narrative journalism” and an ideological agenda. It was about one supporting the other without any real evidence that what had been claimed (a gang rape by fraternity members) was true or had even happened.
The story was out there before Erdely had ever inquired about it. And you have to understand that that story had largely been accepted as “the truth” by people who wanted to believe it to be so. These weren’t just students and a couple of teachers, by the way. These were very well connected people who knew exactly where to go to push their agenda. Here’s that backstory:
As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Catherine Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.
President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.
She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.
Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”
Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.
It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.
During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.
So when Erdely showed up wanting to do the rape story, she had Renda to encourage her to do this one, because both had the same agenda:
The reporter used Jackie’s story about a gang-rape to introduce readers to what she asserted was a systemic failure on the part of universities, police, and society to prevent and investigate sexual assault.
Rape culture. Rape crisis. How else does one advance such a story except finding the perfect “rape” to feature all of those things? Bingo. The prefect story. And who was more than willing to offer it? Renda.
Now some may ask, “why do you contend that advancing such a narrative was Erdely’s motive?” For one thing, she’d done it before on another “rape” story – this one in the military (another institution that is “misogynist”). And it followed a very similar pattern. The case involved a female Navy Petty Officer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Leon Wolf, doing some great research, finds that Erdley did for that case exactly what she did for the UVA case – and so did the Rolling Stone editors:
The point of this story is this: the evidence is clear all over the face of this story that Erdely – as enabled by her editors at Rolling Stone – has a serial habit of reporting rapes without conducting any more fact checking than she did of the UVA story. It is facially obvious that she did not talk to the accused rapist because there wasn’t one. There is no evidence that she talked with anyone who was present at any of the bars where Ms. Blumer drank on the night before her DUI to attempt to verify even her story about meeting the three guys. And, again: the sources who spoke to RedState were clear that Ms. Erdely made no effort to contact any member of the Naval command who was involved with the investigation to get their side of the story with respect to what manner of investigation was conducted into Ms. Blumer’s allegations or what that investigation revealed.
After an exhaustive investigation that spanned a year and a half (which Erdely and Rolling Stone ignored and/or did no research into whatsoever), no one was able to produce any evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, physical or otherwise. The alleged victim herself had no recollection of it happening, did not report it to the police who arrested her, and had a ready motive for latching on to the narrative, which is that it would have stopped or possibly prevented punishment at the hands of her military superiors and possibly prevented her from permanently losing the top secret clearance necessary to keep her job.
This was an important story for the “rape culture” agenda. It was to be the cherry on the top of the narrative that says, “college men are misogynists and serial abusers who need to be punished for their actions”. That’s why the fictitious “20%” number was invented. That’s why the DoE’s civil rights division is involved. As noted, this story shows the connection all the way to the top and the narrative that was being pushed. Erdley and Rolling Stone were heaven sent to these people and they used her just as she used them. The result was shoddy journalism of the worst stripe that apparently is standard operating procedure for Rolling Stone (I have another example of precisely the same problem with another author that I highlighted February of 2011.)
Of course, as we’ve seen, the narrative, as presented by Erdley, failed spectacularly. It not only couldn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny, it had holes in it wide enough to drive a tank through. Yet, that was precisely the narrative that had survived up until that time. Why hadn’t the school investigated it more thoroughly before accepting the story?
In December, as Erdely’s article began to collapse, Julia Horowitz, a student journalist at UVA, tried to explain why the campus newspaper had been caught flat-footed by the falsity of Jackie’s tale. She conceded that “factual inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” might exist in Erdely’s tale, but, she cautioned, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Horowitz, exponent of this horrifying view of journalism, went on to become editor-in-chief of UVA’s student newspaper. Much of the media has been quick to pillory Rolling Stone, but Horowitz’s fear of allowing facts to overwhelm the narrative would be at home in vast swaths of our media — and government and higher education, too.
Facts shouldn’t define the narrative – got that? Now you understand why an administration, a magazine reporter and editors and a student “journalist” would let a tale like the UVA rape story exist and flourish – it fit the narrative like a glove if you didn’t look to closely. And no one did – including Rolling Stone.
As to the reputations ruined and lives tarnished by all of this? Well, that’s just collateral damage in a world where the narrative is much more important that the individual. It serves the “greater good”, you see.
This is actually quite amusing to me because it is the left getting caught up in a trap of their own making. Via Powerline we learn of Laura Kipnes, a Northwestern University feminist film professor (no, really, that’s what she is) who penned a piece entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronical of Higher Education in which she had the temerity to say:
If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama . . .
But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn. . .
The question, then, is what kind of education prepares people to deal with the inevitably messy gray areas of life? Personally I’d start by promoting a less vulnerable sense of self than the one our new campus codes are peddling. Maybe I see it this way because I wasn’t educated to think that holders of institutional power were quite so fearsome, nor did the institutions themselves seem so mighty. Of course, they didn’t aspire to reach quite as deeply into our lives back then. What no one’s much saying about the efflorescence of these new policies is the degree to which they expand the power of the institutions themselves. . .
The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist. . . The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing. Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims.
Seems pretty tame to me, even though it also seems a pretty accurate description of the problem that now exists on any number of college and university campuses.
As you might imagine, to the feminist left at the college, that’s heresy. And, as if she were an Islamic apostate, she was immediately attacked. Protests erupted on the Northwestern campus, “complete with feminists aping the mattress-carrying stunt of Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University.” How dare she say what she said?!
Interestingly enough, the publication which came to Kipnes defense was none other than the bedrock of the far left – “The Nation”. It too seems to realize that enough is enough when it comes to stifling free thought:
As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.” (University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper, that he would consider it, and the students will soon be meeting with the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs to further press their case.) Jazz Stephens, one of the march’s organizers, described Kipnis’s ideas as “terrifying.” Another student told The Daily Northwestern that she was considering bringing a formal complaint because she believes that Kipnis was mocking her concerns about being triggered in a film class, concerns she’d confided privately. “I would like to see some sort of repercussions just so she understands the effect something like this has on her students and her class,” said the student, who Kipnis hadn’t named.
Kipnis could hardly have invented a response that so neatly proved her argument. . .
This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.” . . .
“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”
As a quick aside, this statement had me laughing out loud – “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious.” Yes, Ms. Kipnis, we agree – we dealt with Professor Oblivious yesterday.
Moving on though, it appears that the left is eating its own. The Nation realizes that what has happened has become “intellectually stifling”. It was a natural end state to the creeping oppression of speech codes, the “right” not to be offended and the idea that colleges should be “safe spaces” removed from the reality of the world where nasty things (and ideas apparently) can hurt you. If you don’t agree or if you wander outside the bright lines of approved speech and thought, they think nothing of subjecting the violator to everything they’re trying to avoid. Heresy is, after all, a serious matter when speaking of “religion”, and that certainly is how the devotees treat their ideology.
Steve Hayward wonders that if these attacks will actually cause the administrators at Northwestern to grow a spine and “tell the mob to sod off”. My guess? No, not yet. Don’t forget it was these university administrations that put this structure in place as well as aiding and abetting its growth. They’re hardly about to now say they were wrong to let this intellectual fascism bloom.
Another interesting perspective was found on Tumblr by Hayward. Another professor confessing his or her fears:
Personally, liberal students scare the sh*t out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
Paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.
The fact that this problem is now a monster that devours its own is probably considered an “unintended consequence”. The fact that they didn’t take into consideration that limiting speech they found “unacceptable” would come back to bite them seems to be a result of some very sloppy thinking, doesn’t it? Or was there any real thinking going on at all when they began to impose their will? And then, of course, there’s the problem of the inmates essentially running the asylum. Hayward’s hope that a spine will somehow grow among the administrators of that school is a fairly farfetched hope. There is no prior history of that so why would we expect this instance to be any different? Until the administration does act in such a manner that tells the students to “sod off”, we shouldn’t expect it at all.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show.
More subjects than one can conveniently throw a stick at … so we’ll throw several sticks.
Have you seen the latest Brookings Institute poll on Obama’s “greatness” as a President? It is interesting. They decided to poll the American Political Science Association. Their “consensus”?
First, President Obama ranks 18th overall, but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated.
Well there you go. Even a liberal leaning think tank polling liberal leaning academics can’t manage to put lipstick on a pig. 18th overall? Hilarious.
Remember we were told that Iraq was “poorly thought out” and that “armed intervention” was a mistake?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone applied the same standard to Libya? Yesterday we got to see what some of the result of that awful decision when 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS. And the White House reaction?
The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.
Can’t even get up the gumption to identify who the “Egyptians citizens” were. They weren’t beheaded for being Egyptians, folks.
We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat. We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.
Because, you know, Obama and the boys kind of broke the last government.
Meanwhile in Oregon, the Democratic governor resigns in disgrace, a victim of corruption in the “green energy” field.
It is a safe bet that Kitzhaber’s implosion has sent the rest of the nation’s Democratic governors, and even a few officeholders in Washington, scrambling to review their affairs. It is the very nature of green energy that its unprofitability ensures that it is only viable in the marketplace if it is subsidized at taxpayer expense. The political class’ favorability toward clean energy and the media’s deference to the project of green technology have created the perfect conditions where corruption can thrive.
Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer is deeply implicated in all of this. I wonder if he’ll get the “Koch brothers” treatment by the media.
You can read on when you stop laughing hysterically.
Oh, and here’s another in a long line of damning reports about ObamaCare.
On another subject, I’m old enough to remember friends crippled by polio and the “iron lung”:
“We are at a stage where people have no memory of just how dangerous pathogens used to be. There is no visceral fear of viruses and bacteria. Children in wheelchairs as a result of polio are a thing of the past because the United States has been polio free since 1979 as a result of vaccines. The only people I’ve ever met who were hobbled by damage from polio were older than me. . . . I do not expect an innumerate and unscientific public to become more trusting of medical organizations that support vaccination. In some communities herd immunity has already been lost and it will be lost in more other communities. This trend will continue until an old disease comes sweeping thru and racks up lots of damage and fatalities.”
On the other hand, the government has reported for 40 years that cholesterol was going to kill us and then, recently said, “never mind”. But they still want us to believe their science about “global warming”. That said, one small pox plague and I’d bet everything would change. Its hard to be fearful when you’ve never had to live with the results of awful afflictions like polio. I remember that being the greatest fear of many parents. Now, well, now they don’t even give it a second thought. That’s because of a vaccination, for heaven sake. Same with small pox. But then anti-vaxxers are using the same sort of science that warming alarmists do, so you shouldn’t be particularly surprised.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin (not surprisingly, Madison, WI) 30 homes were spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti. My guess is the White House would characterize the act as “a random act by some juvenile delinquents”. I’m still in awe of the spineless characterization of the victims in the Kosher Deli in Paris as some “folks” in a random incident. But then, this is the same administration that for years characterized the Ft. Hood shootings as “workplace violence”, so it really isn’t a big surprise. Back in Madison, don’t even begin to believe that the vandalism will ever be classified as a hate crime. That is reserved for favored minorities only.
Graeme Wood (read the whole thing) lays the wood to the cowardly among us who can’t find it in themselves to identify the enemy and the enemy’s foundation:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Meanwhile, at the State Department and White House …
Because, as we’ve been observing for a while, it has now become a tool by which the left finds itself the victim.
And they don’t like it.
By the way, Chait even defines it:
Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
More “radical” my rear end. Unless Chait wants himself labeled a radical leftist he’s used it any number of times (and there are plenty of those who have commented on his article that point that out). It’s how the left works. It’s a product of the left’s identity politics. It is meant to kill debate by marginalizing the opponent and thus dismiss their argument. It focuses on the facile but effective use of sex, gender, race, etc.
So now we see it being turned on leftists. And they’re whining.
In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. “All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate Change.org petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps,” Rebecca Traister wrote recently in The New Republic.
Aye, and like political activists anywhere and on any side, this army of “unpaid but widely read commenters” won’t brook any deviation from the leftist cant. Plus its much easier to be an “extremist” when you don’t have to report to anyone or have your work edited. So they expect the Chait’s of the world to toe the ideological line or be #destroyed. Liberals like Chait used to have the entire field open to only them. They had the access and the means to publish and didn’t have to be worried about being judged inadequate by some lonely leftist in Santa Barbara.
That exclusivity is gone. They’re just another voice … not even much of an agenda setter anymore. It hurts the ego a little. And then, to see yourself a victim of your own favorite device – well time to whine a little. Because what has happened is the left is constantly isolating segments of itself into little identity communities. If a man can’t speak for a woman because they’ve never been a woman and don’t understand, what in the world are feminists doing trying to pretend they understand men? Etc:
I am white and male, a fact that is certainly worth bearing in mind. I was also a student at the University of Michigan during the Jacobsen incident, and was attacked for writing an article for the campus paper defending the exhibit. If you consider this background and demographic information the very essence of my point of view, then there’s not much point in reading any further. But this pointlessness is exactly the point: Political correctness makes debate irrelevant and frequently impossible.
Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. This has led to elaborate norms and terminology within certain communities on the left.
I love it. I really do. This is so pathetic.
Kevin Williams deals with it all with one line:
Chait is stumbling, in his way, toward the realization that in political arguments intelligent adults pay attention mainly to what is being said, while fatuous children pay attention mainly to who is saying it.
And that’s really all you need to know. Sorry lefties – no exemptions for you. You birthed it and now you get to live with it.