Has anyone been following this “raisin taking” case before SCOTUS? It has to do with the government literally taking a portion of a producers crop because they want to keep prices artificially high:
The forced transfer is part of a 1937 program that requires farmers to turn over a large portion of their raisin crop to the government so as to artificially reduce the amount of raisins on the market, and thereby increase the price. Essentially, the scheme is a government-enforced cartel under which producers restrict production so as to inflate prices.
And, of course, you know who loses – consumers. And producers. But note the program’s birthdate – yup, a New Deal bit of nonsense that should have long been trashed. Given how the oral arguments went yesterday before the SCOTUS, it may soon see the dumpster. The government first tried to argue that it really wasn’t a “taking”. That didn’t go well. So:
[Deputy Solicitor General Edwin] Kneedler put most of his emphasis on the argument that there is no taking because the Hornes and other raisin farmers actually benefit from the program that confiscates their raisins. In the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, the government’s argument here is that the Hornes are actually “ingrates” who should be grateful for the government’s largesse. As several justices emphasized, even if the Hornes really do benefit from the confiscation of their property, that does not change the reality that a taking has occurred. The fact that property owners benefit in some way from the taking of their property may affect the level of compensation they are owed. But it does not change the reality that a taking has occurred in the first place. Justice Samuel Alito noted that the government’s logic leads to the conclusion that there is no taking in any situation where the government seizes personal property for purposes that might potentially benefit the owners in some way.
The most important argument, and the one usually overlooked or ignored, is as follows:
If private firms tried to establish a similar program on their own, the government would bust them for a blatant violation of antitrust law.
So why is our government doing it?
The Advice Goddess (Amy Alkon) takes on “trigger warnings” and does a very credible job explaining why they and those who would impose them should be ignored:
I’ve thought this for a while. They are yet another way for people who have done nothing noteworthy to get attention and have unearned power over others.
In fact, she entitles her piece “Trigger Warnings: A Form of Covert Narcissism.” She also quotes a Kent State professor who “gets it”:
Kent University’s professor of sociology Frank Furedi claims that calls for trigger warnings are a form of “narcissism,” with a student’s desire to assert their own importance acting as more of a factor than the content they are exposed to.
In other words, it’s a form of avoidance they can lay on the person who “triggers” them.
This brings me to my favorite line in the Alkon trigger warning piece:
And as I’ve noted before: If you are so emotionally traumatized by the normal college curriculum, you do belong in an institution, but not one of “higher learning.”
The Climate Change Nazis are just not happy with “liberal democracy” because, you know, it depends on the will of the people instead of the will of the all knowing elite. Some selected passages from a piece by Mark Triffitt (Lecturer, Public Policy at University of Melbourne), and Travers McLeod, Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Melbourne:
… Specifically, the failure to tackle climate change speaks to an overall failure of our liberal democratic system…
… Successfully tackling climate change and other big policy challenges depends on making tangible the intangible crisis of liberal democracy.
It means understanding that liberal democracy’s governance machinery – and the static, siloed policy responses generated by such democracies – is no longer fit for purpose.
So, solution? (I bet you can guess):
[D]emocratic powers should be transferred to unelected bureaucrats, who would still somehow be “accountable” to parliament, despite having “staying power” beyond individual political cycles.
Or in their own words:
Granting more decision-making power to institutions independent of the government of the day, but still accountable to parliaments (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office or Infrastructure Australia). This would increase the capacity of policy planning and decision processes to have staying power beyond individual political cycles.
Yes, because when the party in power is the same party that wants whatever the bureaucracy wants, oversight is so exceptional and wonderful and our freedoms are protected to the nth degree – not! There are closet despots everywhere, and especially among the climate alarmist crowd.
And finally there is the Hill/Billy update, this one concerning a uranium deal with the Russians:
The latest installment in the ongoing saga of shady Clinton Foundation finances is a story involving a deal in which Russians took take greater control of a major U.S. uranium company, Uranium One.
The details are somewhat involved, but the gist is that because the takeover deal involved uranium, a strategic asset, it required approval from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Around the same time the deal was going through, the Clinton Foundation took millions of dollars in donations from a foundation run by the founder of Uranium One and did not disclose the transaction, in defiance of an arrangement made with the Obama administration to identify Clinton Foundation donors. In addition, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russian financial firm linked to the Kremlin for a speech in Moscow as the deal was happening. The New York Times has an extensive report, building on work from Peter Schweizer’s book about the Clinton Foundation’s foreign funding, Clinton Cash, here.
The questions raised by the story are obvious: Did the millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Bill Clinton for his speech, have any influence on Clinton’s decision as Secretary of State to approve the project?
Seriously? You have to ask that question?
The reaction to the story from team Clinton, meanwhile, does not exactly inspire confidence that the Clintons have been entirely transparent about what transpired.
For example, Fox News reporters, also drawing from Schweizer’s book, dug into various aspects of the story, and found evidence that officials from Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company Kazatomprom visited with Bill Clinton at his home in New York to inquire about a possible deal with Westinghouse, which is also involved in the nuclear energy business. When contacted about the meeting by Fox News, a Clinton Foundation spokesperson denied that the meeting had ever happened. But when Fox News produced photos of the meeting, the Clinton spokesperson changed the story and said that it had happened.
In short, Clinton’s spokesperson flatly lied about a meeting Bill Clinton had with foreign officials, and admitted the truth only when presented with evidence to the contrary.
“Flatly lied”. Or as most would put it, “business as usual”.
You may or may not remember the first Earth Day in 1970. Let’s just say the “time was ripe” given the social upheaval going on in the US. And so, a great “teach in” was conducted on April 22, 1970.
Fifth Avenue in New York City was closed to automobiles as 100,000 people joined in concerts, lectures, and street theater. More than 2,000 colleges and universities across America paused their anti-war protests to rally instead against pollution and population growth.
Yes friends, population growth was the “climate change” of the first Earth Day and with it, the usual doom and gloom:
Imminent global famine caused by the explosion of the “population bomb” was the big issue on Earth Day 1970. Then–and now–the most prominent prophet of population doom was Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. Dubbed “ecology’s angry lobbyist” by Life magazine, the gloomy Ehrlich was quoted everywhere. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” he confidently declared in an interview with then-radical journalist Peter Collier in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Ehrlich in an essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe!,” which ran in the special Earth Day issue of the radical magazine Ramparts. “By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”
All of this was announced with great certainty and, frankly, a consensus of sorts. The fact that it rested on theory and that science didn’t really support it seemed irrelevant. It was, since the war in Viet Nam was winding down, the “next great cause!” So the horrific prognostications were slung willy nilly and the press and activists ate them up.
In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
“Solid experimental and theoretical evidence”. Solid … like the hockey stick. Theoretical … like climate models. Reality – nothing like the prediction.
Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
Because, you know … “science” says so! Yet we’re awash in the stuff thanks to real science and technology. Scientific progress applied in technology is always ignored by the prognosticators of doom.
Oh and in case we have forgotten:
Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
“Present trends?” Well, thank goodness for “climate change” then, huh?
Of course not … that’s what this gloom and doom Earth Day will be all about. Check back in about 45 years to see how wrong the “consensus” is from tomorrow’s big meeting as thousands of activist use fossil fuel transportation to meet and tell us how we must quit using fossil fuel transports to save the earth.
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.
Someone named Tanya Cohen penned a paragraph that, if you understand the difference between a right and a privilege, will make you cringe in horror:
One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there. For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred. Numerous European public figures have been charged with hate crimes for implying that large-scale immigration is connected to higher crime. In fact, a politician in Sweden was prosecuted for hate crimes for posting statistics about immigrant crime on Facebook. Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe, and Europe cracks down hard on any attempts to incite hatred against Muslims. In a notable example, a woman in Austria was convicted of a hate crime for suggesting that the Islamic Prophet Muhammed was a pedophile. Recently, a man in Sweden was charged with incitement to ethnic hatred for wearing a T-shirt saying “Islam is the devil.” Nobody in Europe believes that these laws interfere with their sacred, guaranteed right to freedom of speech. Rather, these laws protect freedom of speech by ensuring that it is used responsibly and for the purposes of good.
There are so many awful things about this paragraph it is hard to know where to start. First, however, a right is something you have to ask no one’s permission to exercise. It would be fairly synonymous with “freedom”. So when you say “freedom of speech” it is something you exercise without permission.
A privilege, however, is something which is granted by some authority which defines what is or isn’t acceptable. It is something which can be withdrawn, basically by whim. What she lauds Europe for is “privilege of speech”, and she just happens to agree the speech they’re punishing is “hateful”. You have to wonder if she’d feel the same way if her opinions were labeled as hate speech (and frankly, to any freedom loving person, it is hate speech).
That’s the other thing about what she notes here – every one of her cites involves someone’s opinion. What she celebrates isn’t freedom but conformity of opinion decided by some authority. Her. And she’s fine with using the coercive power of the state to punish opinion which she and those in authority decide constitutes “hate”. Remember Hayek’s definition of freedom? “Freedom is the absence of coercion.”
“Freedom of speech” as a right means that while we may “abhor what someone says”, we will “defend unto death their right to say it”. Her interpretation of “freedom of speech” is we may “abhor what someone says” and we reserve the right to “punish them for it” if it conflicts with “proper thought” on the subject. How screwed up is that?
I can’t imagine a more dangerous idea than what this woman is presenting. It is the germ seed of totalitarianism. It is what has infested our institutions of higher learning thanks to leftist infiltration. These aren’t “progressive” ideas she’s presenting. They are as old as slavery. They are as old as dictatorship. Cohen then goes on to attempt the redefinition of “repressive”:
Consider the case of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people. In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.
Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive. Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be.
So, says Cohen, “civilized” countries have restrictive speech codes that define what is or isn’t acceptable speech and jail those who violate them. A country in which you have the right to state your opinion without censure or fear of punishment is “restrictive and repressive”. Black is white, up is down.
Apparently what she doesn’t understand about our “freedom of speech” is it is specifically identified as a ban against government doing precisely what she wants. It bans government from abridging free speech. It protects everyone from government interference and oppression. She calls specifically for government to be the instrument of punishment of speech she doesn’t like. Given her freedom hating rhetoric, we can then assume that “civilized” can be interpreted to mean “totalitarian.”
She then makes an absolutely incorrect assertion:
In Europe and Australia and the rest of the civilized world, the ultra-libertarian, free speech absolutist position is that not all offensive speech should be illegal, but that incitement to hatred should always be illegal.
No, Ms. Cohen, that is absolutely incorrect. Wrong. No.
Libertarians agree that incitement to violence isn’t a part of your right to free speech. Because, you see, libertarians believe you are free to exercise your rights as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. It is that difference that separates the free from you. Incitement to violence against another is indeed a violation of the right to free speech. Other than that, a person gets to say what they want – it is the price of freedom, a price you are unwilling to pay. Your path is the road to serfdom. Stating your own beliefs without the fear of censure or punishment, as long as you don’t try to incite violence by doing so, even though others vehemently disagree with you, is freedom of speech. There are plenty of ways for society to punish what it considers to be hate speech – just ask Westboro Baptist Church. That’s how a free country takes out its trash.
Before moving to the US to work with human rights organizations here, I grew up in Australia, which is a much more civilized and progressive country than the comparatively backwards United States, with a much deeper respect for basic human rights.
Condescending and wrong.
Qantas is ready when your are, Ms. Cohen.
A couple of economic notes and an environmental question.
On the econ side, unemployment. The Mercatus Center explains our current unemployment situation and why the “official number” is a feel-good fantasy:
In case you missed it, the real unemployment rate is in the 11% range. Also note that before the recession, we were at around 9%. We’re certainly doing better but why they continue to publish misleading numbers on the unemployment front is a mystery … oh, politics. Never mind.
It’s better to be lied to and feel good about it than to know the truth.
Also, as a followup, the $15 minimum wage in SF and Seattle continues to take victims. While neither has fully implemented the wage at present, its enough to push business owners into making decisions which are unlikely the intended consequence of the wage raise. We told you about Borderland Books in SF. Here’s an example from Seattle:
Cascade Designs, an outdoor recreational gear manufacturing company based in Seattle, announced it is moving 100 jobs (20% of the workforce) later this year to a new plant it is leasing near Reno, Nevada. The company has offered some employees positions in Reno, but others must reapply.
Founder John Burroughs and Vice Chair David Burroughs blamed Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage, indicating it “nudged them into action.” According to the owners, Seattle’s new minimum wage would “eventually add up to a few million dollars a year.”
Once established in Reno, you may see further moves. And:
The San Francisco Eater, a local publication following the city’s restaurant scene, predicts that the impact of the $15 minimum will likely lead many restaurants to close their doors this year. Abbot’s Cellar and Luna Park, popular locally owned restaurants, already made the decision to shut down. The owners both blamed the $15 minimum wage.
What’s $15 times zero?
Finally on the enviro front, where’s the outrage? From CATO:
Nicaragua’s plan to build an Interoceanic Canal that would rival the Panama Canal could be a major environmental disaster if it goes forward. That’s the assessment of Axel Meyer and Jorge Huete-Pérez, two scientists familiar with the project, in a recent article in Nature. Disturbingly, the authors point out,
“No economic or environmental feasibility studies have yet been revealed to the public. Nicaragua has not solicited its own environmental impact assessment and will rely instead on a study commissioned by the HKND [The Hong Kong-based company that has the concession to build the canal]. The company has no obligation to reveal the results to the Nicaraguan public.”
In recent weeks we have seen similar opinions aired in the Washington Post, Wired, The Economist, and other media. In their article, Meyer and Huete-Pérez explain how the $50-billion project (more than four times Nicaragua’s GDP), would require “The excavation of hundreds of kilometres from coast to coast, traversing Lake Nicaragua, the largest drinking-water reservoir in the region, [and] will destroy around 400,000 hectares of rainforests and wetlands.” So far, the Nicaraguan government has remained mum about the environmental impact of the project. Daniel Ortega, the country’s president, only said last year that “some trees have to be removed.”
Some trees?! Where are the enviros whackos on this?
Interestingly, despite this potential massive threat to one of the most pristine environmental reservoirs in the Americas, none of the leading international environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or the Sierra Club, has issued a single statement about the Nicaragua Canal.
We know for a fact that this is not out of lack of interest in Central America. After all, some of these organizations were pretty vocal in their opposition to CAFTA. Why isn’t the Nicaragua Canal proposal commanding the attention of these international environmental groups?
Why? Because as Insty points out, “commies get a pass” on this sort of thing.
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.
Say what you will of Bill Maher (I’m not a fan), his statement about Muslims seems to have some legs:
“In his comments on his HBO show, Maher noted that too many Muslims reject the very notion of free thought and free speech, that the problem is not just ‘a few bad apples.’”
See Europe after the Mohommed cartoons and just about anywhere else concerning a little known video that Muslims found to be sacrilegious (and the US government blamed for the deaths in Benghazi). Or any of a thousand examples.
It is also something many of us believe about the left, for the most part. And good old UC Berkley has decided to prove the point. And Bill Maher is the “problem”:
In response to an announcement last week that comedian Bill Maher would speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement, an online petition started circulating Thursday that demanded that the campus rescind its invitation.
The Change.org petition was authored by ASUC Senator Marium Navid, who is backed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSA, and Khwaja Ahmed, an active MEMSA member. The petition, which urges students to boycott the decision and asks the campus to stop him from speaking, has already gathered more than 1,400 signatures as of Sunday.
Maher, a stand-up comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is best known for his often-polarizing political commentary. Recently, Maher faced some backlash after controversial remarks regarding Islam during a segment on his Oct. 6 show.
Navid claims this isn’t about free speech, it’s a matter of “campus climate”:
“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist and bigoted remarks don’t give him.”
For the most part, I agree that freedom of speech doesn’t give one the “right” to speak anywhere – that, in fact, this is an invitation to speak at a “commencement”, and that’s a privilege the university extends. Okay, got it.
But that’s not what this is about … it’s about shutting Bill Maher and those like him up. It’s about letting a certain group outside the administration of the university decide who will be awarded the privilege to speak and who won’t. And in that case, it becomes a matter of free speech, doesn’t it?
Perhaps the most ironic development, though, was on MSNBC (of all places) when an advocate for free speech on campus crossed swords with a spokesman for CAIR:
In a heated debate on MSNBC with free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper defended UC Berkeley students’ efforts to uninvite comedian Bill Maher for his comments on Islam, comparing him to the Grand Dragon of the KKK.
LUKIANOFF: The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is the more reason to hear him out. It’s an art that I feel is actually being lost on the campuses, where we should be teaching people is to at least hear people out before you to get them kicked off campus.
HOOPER: So if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK…
CAIR, of all organizations, comparing any other organization to the KKK … well, let’s leave it at “ironic” shall we?
The left’s the “useful idiot” in the attempt of organizations like CAIR to stifle any debate or criticism of Islam. And, Maher is the Grand Dragon?
Christopher Snowden writes an article that uses an example that is quite handy in defining the essence of the disease called “progressivism”. He acknowledges that “liberal” has be coopted by the left but still has enough historical cache to be useful to both sides of the philosophical divide. However, “progressive”, at least in the US, is uniquely the left’s.
Fast forward to a city soda tax under consideration in the “progressive bastion” of Berkley, CA where we find none other than little Robbie Reich (former Clinton Secretary of Labor) ensconced as Professor at UC Berkley and waxing enthusiastic about this proposed soda tax:
To see what the word progressive means today, consider the city of Berkeley, California. According to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley, it is‘the most progressive city in America’. It has also been described as a ‘liberal bastion’. How liberal is it? So liberal that it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in your own flat (sorry, ‘apartment’) and, at the city’s university, it is against the rules to chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes anywhere at all, including in the open air.
Berkeley is also seriously considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – aka a ‘soda tax’. A public vote will settle the matter next month, and, in the view of Robert Reich, ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’.
Well, yes, that’s correct. But Reich’s claim is also a very useful tool for a little word substitution to show the insidiousness (and true intent) of “progressivism”:
Consider that statement for a moment. If you didn’t know what the word ‘progressive’ meant – and you knew nothing about Berkeley – what could you infer from the context? If the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most oppressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would make sense. If words like ‘tax-hungry’, ‘anti-business’, ‘puritanical’ or ‘illiberal’ were substituted for ‘progressive’, it would still read correctly.
If, however, the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most tolerant city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would be incongruous. Words like ‘permissive’, ‘libertarian’, ‘easygoing’ and ‘broad-minded’ would also be confusing substitutes for ‘progressive’ in this context, and yet these are all adjectives that appear in the thesaurus under the word ‘liberal’. From this we might conclude either that soda taxes are not terribly liberal or that progressives are not terribly liberal. Or both.
At this point I’m chuckling because Snowden has made a very good point. Reich is all but giddy about oppression and feels it is “progressive” to champion it. Because, you know, the elite know best and hopefully have hammered those who should appreciate them and their ideas enough to vote “yes” and tax themselves.
Then there’s this:
In economics, unlike politics, the word ‘progressive’ has a fixed meaning. A progressive tax is one that takes a larger share of income from the rich than from the poor. The alternative is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich. Taxes on fizzy drinks are highly and indisputably regressive, not only because the rate of tax is the same for all income groups, but also because the poor tend to consume more of them in the first place. So while it is true that Berkeley is a bellwether city when it comes to eye-catching ‘public health’ initiatives, the adoption of punitive taxes on soft drinks would be a step towards it becoming America’s most regressive, not progressive, city in economic terms.
Oh my. Snowden then asks the question of the day:
This is what confuses us, America. If a ‘liberal bastion’ – your ‘most progressive city’ – is one in which the government effectively fines people for drinking the wrong type of soft drink, what on earth are your illiberal bastions like?
Berkley (and New York and … ).
Glad you ask.
I’m not sure how else to describe actions like this. Here’s the lede from an article about George Will being uninvited from an appearance at Scripps College:
A prominent conservative political pundit was uninvited from speaking at Scripps College, in a program designed to promote conservative views on campus, because of his conservative views.
Got that? Yes, it is terribly written, but still, you have to almost laugh at the irony. Because of his conservative views, he was uninvited from a speaking engagement that was supposed to promote conservative views.
You simply can’t make up half the stuff the left does. Apparently the trigger was a column Will wrote about campus “rape”. I put rape in scare quotes because many schools now have such a broad definition of rape that you may be at risk by simply saying “hello” to a woman who doesn’t particularly care for you. Like “racism”, rape is being radically redefined on campus and Will had the temerity to address that.
Apparently, those at the college disagree with much of what Will said in the column. And so, totally untrue to their supposed academic claims, they’ve cancelled Will:
The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program was established under the belief that “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience,” according to the Scripps College website.
That’s certainly one way to discourage “opinions with which they may not agree”, but the cancellation certainly doesn’t lead “to a better educational experience” does it? In fact it should make it clear that opinions they don’t agree with are not at all welcome at the campus. Instead of taking the opportunity to challenge Will on their own home ground, they ban him. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me then, to find out that the college also bans certain books that don’t conform to their orthodoxy. I mean, why not?
If I were considering going there, that would be a huge warning sign that I would be sure to heed.
Unless, of course, you’ve a desire for indoctrination. Then Scripps may be the place for you.
All my life, racism has been defined as you see it below. It is a “belief” that your race is superior to other races based on nothing other than racial characteristics, such as skin color.
racism [ ˈrāˌsizəm ]
1. the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
2. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Racism, then is displaying the “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism” to others of different races based on that “belief”. Makes sense. Simple. Direct to the point. Racists think they’re superior to other races because of the color of their skin.
However, as such, the definition is unacceptable to the left. For the left it fails in two particular areas. It means that, based on this definition, anyone can be a racist which means, then, it doesn’t allow them to identify and cultivate a victim class (or in this case, race) while excusing what they perceive as an oppressive race. Useless. The solution? Move the goal posts. Redefine the word so it has a more culturally useful meaning for the left. Too many people were pointing out that the definition was something that correctly identified all races as susceptible to racism. No good.
Enter academia. What better place to make this happen than by pitching an ideologically biased new definition to those impressionable students who walked their hallowed halls? Here, for instance, is how the University of Delaware defines racism:
A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.
Now the left has a useful definition. Now the oppressors are clearly identified as is the victim class. This allows them to “capture” the victim classes into their entitlement schemes. And, of course, when you load in the race baiters such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, a virtual cottage industry is created in which the discontent this sort of nonsense inspires is kept hot and fresh. With this definition, all whites are racists, have been forever and will be forever if the left has anything to do with it. This definition conveniently removes the expiration date from the definition and gives it a forever fresh date. With the first definition, it is obvious that it depended on a “belief” – a belief which could be changed. However with the second definition, that belief is relegated to irrelevancy and now, per the left, racism is only based on the color of one’s skin.
Ironic, isn’t it?