Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Was the Vietnam Anti-War Movement a Fifth Column?

It wasn’t all sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. The Vietnam era counterculture was not all about self-fulfillment, self-actualization, self-realization and self-indulgence.

Student activists believed that the Vietnam War, the one that had been conducted by the Kennedy-Johnson administrations, was profoundly unjust. They believed that American military and militaristic culture was a scourge that had to be stopped. They might have believed that they were all for peace and love. They were really a fifth column, undermining the war effort from within.

They did not quite recognize that fighting against a war while their nation was engaged in it could only help the opposing force. Rarely, if ever has America seen so many of its own citizens militating against her own armed forces. Rarely, if ever have we seen such a rank disregard of patriotism and loyalty.

Now, of course, at a time when we are supposed to believe that dissent is the highest form of patriotism, our current president is leading the charge toward surrender, toward military disengagement and toward diminishing and demeaning the nation.

Be that as it may, a former Viet Cong official has just written a thank-you note to the anti-Vietnam War activists—you know, like Obama’s good friend Bill Ayers—for helping them to defeat America and South Vietnam.

In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day and President Barack Obama’s scheduled trip to Vietnam, a prominent Vietcong communist leader privately thanked American anti-war activists for helping defeat the U.S.-allied government in Vietnam in the 1970s, saying protest demonstrations throughout the United States were “extremely important in contributing to Vietnam’s victory.”

For Vietnamese guerrilla leader Madam Nguyen Thi Binh, who sent the private letter from Hanoi dated April 20, “victory” meant the communist takeover of South Vietnam. The letter addressed veteran American anti-war activists who gathered in Washington, D.C., at a May 3 reunion of radical “May Day” anti-war leaders….

In her letter, she extolled the American anti-war movement, saying it was “a key component” that advanced the communist takeover of South Vietnam.

“The Vietnamese people have great appreciation for the peace and antiwar movements in the United States and view those movements’ contribution as important in shortening the war,” she wrote and which was read to an assembled group of “May Day” anti-war activists in Washington, D.C.

As for what happened then, the Daily Caller recounts the history:

The war temporarily ended in 1973 when the Paris Peace Treaty was signed that imposed a ceasefire on all parties.

That ceasefire was abruptly broken in 1975, however, when the North Vietnamese forces launched a surprise “Spring Offensive.”

Leading the offensive were hundreds of T-54 and T-55 heavy Russian tanks that left secret sanctuaries in neighboring Cambodia and flooded into South Vietnam. Regular North Vietnamese troops spearheaded the offensive, along with guerrillas tied to the Vietcong, which also called themselves the National Liberation Front of Vietnam.

By the time the Russian tanks were about to drive into Saigon, a liberal Congress filled with anti-war lawmakers already had hamstrung their South Vietnamese allies. Congress cut military aid to Saigon by 50 percent and handcuffed the South Vietnamese military facing the communist onslaught by barring any U.S. air support or other meaningful military assistance to the government.

The offensive was relatively quick, trapping hundreds of thousands of pro-American Vietnamese troops and millions of civilians who had trusted Washington and openly supported the United States.

And then:

The defeat ultimately triggered an international humanitarian crisis where at least 800,000 Vietnamese “boat people” fled their communist conquerors. Many bravely undertook perilous journeys in small boats across the Gulf of Thailand to escape the new communist warlords. An unknown number of refugees drowned in the exodus.

After the communists defeated the South Vietnamese army, more than 1 million South Vietnamese citizens who had supported the United States were left behind and imprisoned in “re-education camps.” About 100,000 faced summary execution by the communist victors.

Whatever their lofty ideals, students at the time were oblivious to the effect their actions were having on the war effort. Their leaders, however, along with the mainstream media, were colluding with the enemy:

Bill Cowan, who was a Purple Heart Marine platoon leader in Vietnam, told TheDCNF that U.S. troops were demoralized when the U.S. media only highlighted anti-war protesters and not the heroism of many of the Vietnamese who were trying to keep their country free.

“The media fueled the anti-war movement, empowering the protestors, the North Vietnamese, and the Vietcong,” he told The DCNF.

“It was rare to have a ‘good news’ story about what was happening there,” Cowan said.

“I recall a reporter coming to interview me at the village I was living at and apologizing after she was done by saying, ‘You know, this story will probably never see the light of day. My editors will quash it because it has too many good things in here about what you guys are doing.’” Cowan told TheDCNF.

Before Prozac

Back in the day psychiatrist Peter Kramer authored a book called Listening to Prozac. In it he touted the virtues of the new antidepressant medication, going so far as suggesting that Prozac could make you a new person, could make you into something else.

Kramer seems to have allowed his enthusiasm to get the better of him. While Prozac and the other SSRIs are effective for many people, they have become overprescribed by primary care physicians to patients who have bought the hype about Prozac.

Now, Kramer is making a more modest claim. He has completed a study that has shown that Prozac is effective for patients who are deeply depressed.

In reference to crippling melancholic depression, he writes:

In much of the country, antidepressants had gained acceptance. In time, I learned to supplement talk therapy with prescribing. Nowhere did I see the volume of end-stage depression I had previously encountered, nor have I ever again. During 30-plus years of outpatient practice in Providence, R.I., none of my patients has begun with or, to my knowledge, moved on to paralyzing melancholy.

One recalls the young woman in the Netherlands who was allowed to commit suicide—that is, was put to death—because the authorities felt that her depression was intractable and permanent.

But that is not the reason I am bring up this issue. Kramer makes another striking observation that is worthy of some attention. When he did a psychiatry rotation at Harvard Medical School in the late 1970s, the department was run by a psychoanalyst. And psychoanalysts at the time did not believe in anti-depressants.

Prozac did not exist but antidepressants like Anafranil, Tofranil and MAO inhibitors were available and fairly widely prescribed.

American psychoanalysts in hospital settings refused to give them to their patients. Kramer recounts his experience:

I trained at Harvard Medical School, a center of American psychoanalysis. Antidepressants had been available since the late 1950s, but to prescribe them was considered a failure of imagination. Psychiatrists believed that the drugs robbed patients of their autonomy.

For my psychiatry rotation, I was sent to a hospital staffed by eminent psychoanalysts. The ward housed many patients like Irma. In the activity room, depleted depressives sat still, distinguishable from catatonic patients only by their hand-wringing. We offered psychotherapy. Otherwise, depression was allowed to run its course.

Today, such dereliction would be considered to be malpractice.

I note that a few years earlier I myself worked in a psychiatric clinic in France that was run by people who had trained in psychoanalysis. Who had trained with Jacques Lacan, as it happened. As long as antidepressants had been available, these psychiatrists had prescribed them. They never deprived their patients of effective treatments. And yet, they knew about the clinical ineffectiveness of psychoanalysis and did not allow anyone to offer it to a psychotic or depressed patient.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Meat Eaters Anonymous

If we want to call things by their proper names, we should understand that Veganism is a religion. Those who are burdened with guilt over the death of any living organism embrace veganism because it helps them to manage their guilt. It’s a way to embrace pure innocence.

Horrified that any living being might have died to nourish them, they believe that by eating a diet rich in grass and twigs they will become kinder and gentler creatures, so thoroughly disinclined to compete, to fight or even to defend themselves that they and their ilk will form a vanguard leading us to an age of eternal peace.

Of course, they might also be making themselves easy prey for those who still indulge the occasional rib eye, but they believe that God is on their side and that God will persuade the rest of the world to do as they do. God will kill off the meat-eaters and egg-eaters and leather-wearers.

As you know, vegan faith promotes scientific studies that demonstrate that those who eat meat develop cancer and heart disease and die. Of course, it does not show what happens to those who become so veganized that they are too weak to defend themselves.

Anyway, today is a bad day for vegans. A recent scientific study has shown that our species became more human and less ape-like when it began to eat meat, that is, animal protein. It’s nice that primates prefer fruit and vegetables, but it is less nice to see that the reason they remained chimps and monkeys was that they only ate fruit and vegetables. Without meat we would have been less intelligent and less verbal. As it happens, more meat means bigger brains.

Time Magazine reports the results of the study:

As a new study in Nature makes clear, not only did processing and eating meat come naturally to humans, it’s entirely possible that without an early diet that included generous amounts of animal protein, we wouldn’t even have become human—at least not the modern, verbal, intelligent humans we are.

It was about 2.6 million years ago that meat first became a significant part of the pre-human diet, and if Australopithecus had had a forehead to slap it would surely have done so. Being an herbivore was easy—fruits and vegetables don’t run away, after all. But they’re also not terribly calorie-dense. A better alternative were so-called underground storage organs (USOs)—root foods like beets and yams and potatoes. They pack a bigger nutritional wallop, but they’re not terribly tasty—at least not raw—and they’re very hard to chew. According to Harvard University evolutionary biologists Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, the authors of the Nature paper, proto-humans eating enough root food to stay alive would have had to go through up to 15 million “chewing cycles” a year.

Prey that has been killed and then prepared either by slicing, pounding or flaking provides a much more calorie-rich meal with much less chewing than root foods do, boosting nutrient levels overall. (Cooking, which would have made things easier still, did not come into vogue until 500,000 years ago.)

More calories, less chewing. More protein, less chewing. And we know the importance of animal proteins. After all, our first meal is milk. What could be more natural than milk? And yet, good vegans will not touch milk.

But, why does the number of chews matter?

A brain is a very nutritionally demanding organ, and if you want to grow a big one, eating at least some meat will provide you far more calories with far less effort than a meatless menu will. 

All that meat translates into more brain power. Don’t you just love evolutionary biology?

Now, throw another steak on the barbie.

Puppy Love

For those who did not quite understand why otherwise normal human beings would want to live their lives as dogs and puppies, Portland State University has held a workshop.

As the Daily Caller explains, this form of puppy love is yet another fetish for those who have been sexually desensitized by living in our new American pornotopia:

Portland State University sponsored a workshop on the “human Puppy community” — a type of sexual fetish where people identify and live their lives as dogs.

Video of the event shows an instructor telling students never to pull the tail of a human puppy because “a lot of tails are butt plugs.”

The February workshop which was held as part of the taxpayer-funded university’s annual “Sex Week,” featured two men in BDSM-style canine outfits, walking around the room on their hands and knees, growling and sniffing each other’s rear ends while their “handler” explained the ins-and-outs of their relationship.

Puppies have a social organization, a status hierarchy, but are somewhat circumspect about opening their doors to people who want to be cats, pigs and rats:

That article described how “Pup Turbo” leads a “pack, whose hierarchy includes beta and omega pups, a barking order he keeps in place with a soft touch and familial nudge.” He identifies as “Pup Turbo” on his public Facebook page, which has more than 350 followers.

In the video, one student can be heard asking if its possible to live as a “kitty” rather than a puppy. The instructor answers yes, noting he met “a pig once,” and that there’s “a rat in Seattle.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Illiberal Liberalism on Campus

I don’t why this comes as news to anyone. Everyone knows that college campuses have become hotbeds of radical thought, and that radical thinkers do not allow free expression or free speech.

Extolling radical thinkers like Martin Heidegger, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, and Alain Badiou, praising the great accomplishments of national and radical socialism, students end up behaving like Brown Shirts and Red Guards.

Some elder academics like to consider themselves to be liberal and Nicholas Kristof is still willing to call them thus, but the truth is, on campus, in many academic departments have become more about indoctrination than thought.

A few weeks ago Kristof wrote a column denouncing his “fellow progressives” for favoring every kind of diversity, except the diversity of thought. To his shock and dismay, he discovered, while reading the comments posted on the Times website, that his liberal readers disagreed entirely with what he was saying. They insisted that conservatives had no right to free speech on college campuses. And that they ought not to be allowed to speak or to teach there.

Intolerance does not seem to be quite the right word. Oppression feels better. By all appearances, liberalism is dead.

Kristof returns to the issue today:

In a column a few weeks ago, I offered “a confession of liberal intolerance,” criticizing my fellow progressives for promoting all kinds of diversity on campuses — except ideological. I argued that universities risk becoming liberal echo chambers and hostile environments for conservatives, and especially for evangelical Christians.

As I see it, we are hypocritical: We welcome people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

Readers were outraged. Kristof describes the reaction, a stunning instance of groupthink:

Almost every liberal agreed that I was dead wrong.

“You don’t diversify with idiots,” asserted the reader comment on The Times’s website that was most recommended by readers (1,099 of them). Another: Conservatives “are narrow-minded and are sure they have the right answers.”

Finally, this one recommended by readers: “I am grossly disappointed in you for this essay, Mr. Kristof. You have spent so much time in troubled places seemingly calling out misogyny and bigotry. And yet here you are, scolding and shaming progressives for not mindlessly accepting patriarchy, misogyny, complementarianism, and hateful, hateful bigotry against the LGBTQ community into the academy.”

Now, today’s so-called liberals refuse to consider opposing points of view. They are paragons of virtue and anyone who disagrees with them is vicious. They live in an echo chamber—narcissism is the other word for it—and have turned education into indoctrination.

In Kristof’s words:

But as I see it, the bigger problem is not that conservatives are infiltrating social science departments to spread hatred, but rather that liberals have turned departments into enclaves of ideological homogeneity.

Sure, there are dumb or dogmatic conservatives, just as there are dumb and dogmatic liberals. So let’s avoid those who are dumb and dogmatic, without using politics or faith as a shorthand for mental acuity.

College teaching, and all teaching for that matter manifests rank hypocrisy:

But liberals claim to be champions of inclusiveness — so why, in the academic turf that we control, aren’t we ourselves more inclusive? If we are alert to bias in other domains, why don’t we tackle our own liberal blind spot?

And yet, as the nation has policy debates, leftist academics are often left out of the conversation: because their ideas smack of ideology and have nothing to do with the real problems. Professors of economics, who are just as likely to be Republicans or Democrats, have honed their positions in the crucible of debate. They are respected as contributing to public conversation:

We desperately need academics like sociologists and anthropologists influencing American public policy on issues like poverty, yet when they are in an outer-left orbit, their wisdom often goes untapped.

In contrast, economists remain influential. I wonder if that isn’t partly because there is a critical mass of Republican economists who battle the Democratic economists and thus tether the discipline to the American mainstream.

It isn’t so difficult to understand how this happened. These campus radicals, who now hold august chairs in university departments, seem to have been hired more for their ideological commitments than for their grasp of their subjects. If they were forced to debate with people who disagreed with them, the imposture would immediately be evident to all.

Kristof is wistful about this point:

We liberals should have the self-confidence to believe that our values can triumph in a fair contest in the marketplace of ideas.

He adds:

Can’t we be a bit more self-aware when we dismiss conservatives as so cocky and narrow-minded that they should be excluded from large swaths of higher education?

Cocky? Narrow-minded? I suggest that we look in the mirror.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

When Wives Cheat

To no one’s surprise, today’s careerist feminist women are more likely to cheat on their husbands. And they are less likely to care about the consequences of their actions. After all, they have a constitutional right to sexual pleasure and they have a right to get it where they can. Isn’t that what men have always done?

In this new lifestyle, women do not care about their children. They do not care about their marriages. They care about themselves and only themselves.

For those who believe that men and women are fundamentally the same, this all poses no problem. It’s payback for all of those cheating males that women have been tolerating for millennia. For families, for children and for society at large, it almost certainly is a problem.

At the least, it’s a problem that requires some coherent thought. In reporting the story Alyssa Giacobbe suggests, in the story’s title, that women are now cheating as much as men, but with “fewer consequences.”

The judgment is belied by her opening paragraph:

Rebecca, a mother of two in a quiet New England town, must first clarify: “I myself have not had an affair,” she says. But many days she feels like she’s the only one. In the past few years, three of Rebecca’s closest friends have ended their marriages following year-to-two-year-long affairs with other men. “All three were working and traveling,” she says. “All had younger kids.” Two left home, voluntarily giving up primary custody to their exes. “We were all best friends and now barely speak,” Rebecca says. “But we run into each other at soccer … in a small circle of friends, it seems crazy. We’ve seen this happen three times!”

The crazy part, she elaborates, is not the apparent epidemic of adultery, but that it’s the women who seem to be fueling it.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that women who have affairs are likely to become so attached to their lovers that they are willing to abandon home and family for the thrill of true romantic love.

Or, should I say, for the oxytocin rush. Dare we mention that male and female sexuality are not the same? Darwinians have known this for quite some time now. For a woman an affair is rarely just a way to find pleasure or to act like a man. Almost by definition, it is more personal and must have more consequences.

Perhaps these women are having better sex. For their sakes, we certainly hope so. But, don’t they care about heir children? One has a right to be appalled to see women abandoning their children for true love. And one has a right to call these women out on their reckless behavior, their lack of concern for anyone but themselves.

To my knowledge, and perhaps this shows how sheltered I am, precious few women abandon their children… for any reason. They understand the moral responsibility they bear for bringing up their children and they take it extremely seriously. A woman who abandons her child, for love or money or whatever, is not likely to be accepted by other members of the community. Especially not by other women.

Thus, when Giacobbe mentions that these women are being shunned at soccer games, we can easily draw the conclusion that this new custom is not being well received… by sensible moral women.

The notion that cheating women are suffering fewer consequences is risible. But, why are so many women cheating today? One might ask whether women in the past have cheated as much but have been far more discreet about it… but we have no statistics upon which to base such a conclusion

As for today’s liberated and largely irresponsible women, the experts assure us that this has to do with the fact that these women are more likely to be breadwinners. And, breadwinner women are more likely to push their husbands into becoming Mr. Mom. For reasons that feminist thinkers will never understand, Ms. Breadwinner and Mr. Mom often find that they no longer desire each other. Or perhaps, that they need the odor of the illicit in order to feel any desire at all.

It might be that a man who stay home and bakes brownies is going to feel so thoroughly unmanned that he will no longer lust after his wife. It might be that he will not lust after a wife who acts like a man, who has adopted, often unconsciously, any one of a number of manly characteristics. Or, you might think that Ms. Breadwinner no longer desires the pitiable creature she has created. He is too weak and too motherly to elicit her sexual interest.

In any of these cases, the role reversal marriage, so often touted by feminists as the next stage of human evolution, is apparently devoid of desire.

But, also, in the feminist mindset, no one shows any concern for the effect that any of this is having on children. It’s the price of ideology. No one is considering how children will react to seeing their father humiliated on a daily basis. And no one, certainly not Giacobbe or her experts, much cares about what happens to these children when their mothers abandon them for the flavor-of-the-month.

In Giacobbe’s story, it’s the men who try to keep their marriage together… even after they discover that their wives have been cheating. Yet, these men are not above shaming their wives as adulteresses. Does this suggest to you that these women are really suffering less? Do they have no feelings for their children? Do they, alas, have no empathy?

She writes:

Though, increasingly, women are suffering through it less. These days, that’s the man’s job. Kara, 33, a PR exec in Texas, filed for divorce three months after her affair with the family pediatrician began. Once her construction-worker husband found out she was leaving for someone else, “the shit hit the fan,” she says, and he begged her to try to work it out (right after he texted all the parents on their son’s hockey team, which he coached, to explain why he hadn’t shown up: Sorry I didn’t make practice, he wrote. My wife’s sleeping with our kids’ doctor).

You might say that these men are fighting for their marriages. You might even imagine that they are fighting to maintain the stability of their home lives, especially to protect their children. And they are capable of shaming their wives, as Kara’s husband did, the better to show others what she really was. How many wives will now be shunning Kara… or her pediatrician?

Naturally, in Giacobbe’s story, these men are portrayed as weak. One might also say that they are the only sane, adult members of their marriages, that they alone have a sufficiently functional moral sense and that they are trying to protect their families and to promote social harmony, not social chaos and anomie.

Rape Culture in Sweden

When in doubt, blame the women. That’s what people think in that Feminist Socialist Paradise called Sweden. If women are as powerful as feminists think they are, they must be responsible for what happens to them.

Wondering why their country has become the rape capital of the Western world, Swedes set out to understand the problem. Note the difference. They did not look to solving the problem. They just wanted to understand it. It sounds like a page from the therapy culture chapbook.

The Express explained:

SWEDISH police have blamed Scandinavian teenage girls’ “Nordic alcohol culture” and Western behaviour for a steep rise in sex attacks carried out by migrants.

The damning police report, which is looking at why Sweden has the worst rates of physical and sexual violence committed against women and girls in Europe, has also excused refugees who it says “cannot handle the alcohol”.

Shockingly, the report revealed the majority of sex attack victims were under the age 15.

Police also admitted the majority of attacks have taken place in public places had been committed by migrants.

But it says refugees might not be able to “handle the alcohol” and simply feel “horny” and have “ignorance of the consequences for the girls”.

The report also warns that girls in Sweden are called “whores” and abused for “their clothes” which leaves many too scared to walk the streets.

Think about it: these devout Muslims, whose religion forbids them to consume alcohol, are drinking up a storm in Sweden. But then, they are really impious Muslims and should not be using their religion as an excuse.

Apparently, these impious young Muslims are not merely incapable of handling their liquor. They do not know how to treat women, especially hot Nordic women. For which they receive the sympathy of the Swedish police.

Inadvertently, the report shows why rape culture thrives in Sweden. The pusillanimous socialistic feminist Swedes refuse to blame those who perpetrate these crimes. They think it can all be handled through better education, because, after all, these poor refugees come from a culture that does not respect women. (As a sidelight, Angela Merkel's Germany is now attempting to solve its refugee problem by re-education. Good luck with that.)

Whatever happened to the notion that ignorance of the law is no excuse?

It’s like what happens in our country when members of minority groups commit crimes and the commentariat rushes out to blame it all on guns or on poverty or on white police officers. Rarely, if ever to they blame it on the criminals. In the national conversation about crime, here as in Sweden, criminals are not held accountable and are not treated like criminals.

Surely, this attitude toward crime does not promote good behavior.

In America, of course, the criminal justice still functions and does punish many of those who perpetrate such crimes. And yet, the national conversation has been trying to persuade everyone that they are not really responsible and need to be released from prison as soon as possible. After all, Democrats need the votes.

Speaking of Sweden and of how much this feminist country respects women, if it allows its women to be raped with impunity does not respect women very much either. As I have often noted, in this multicultural socialist paradise people are willing to sacrifice their wives, mothers and daughters to the predations of Muslim men. Being neo-pagan multiculturalists they are down with human sacrifice.

It’s time for Sweden and the other socialist feminists in Europe to wake up and punish men who rape women. These men should be prosecuted, imprisoned and deported. It’s long past time for them to figure out that the open-arms refugee policy is a suicide pact.

Friday, May 27, 2016

When Liberal Policies Fail

For some reason or other, we expect that the Supreme Court will solve the problem of affirmative action. Some people actually believe that when the Court definitively approves affirmative action, racial animus will end and people who on the lower end of the achievement scale will magically rise to its higher ranks.

Those who believe in court mandates or who believe that you can legislate reality have been having a difficult time wrapping their minds around the failure of affirmative action. Today’s student activism-- mindless, pointless and radical at the same time-- is but a symptom of a policy failure.

Affirmative action policies are the contrary of meritocracy. In a true meritocracy, everyone is judged by his merits. In traditional Chinese meritocracy—the Chinese seem to have invented the idea many centuries ago—everyone has the right to take the same qualifying exam, whether for entrance into schools of higher learning or into the class of mandarins.

Those who come out on top come out on top. Those who don’t, don’t. No one judged by anything other than his ability to answer the questions on the test.

It’s fair, don’t you think?

With affirmative action, it does not matter if everyone has taken the same test. If the outcomes seem skewed in favor of members of one group, the test must be rigged. By these thinkers, equality only exists when the outcomes are proportionate to the racial or ethnic mix of the test takers. If everyone has been telling you, has been pounding into  you, that you are just as good as everyone else, then disparate test results can only be a sign that the tests are rigged.

In New York’s Stuyvesant High School, where admission is based on test scores, 70% of the students are Chinese or Asian, 20% are white and the rest are African-American or Hispanic.

This all defies the convictions of those who believe in equality. By their lights, all inequality is based on bigotry and oppression. If everyone is equal in all ways, then inequality is a sign of injustice. It does not cross the mind of these social justice warriors that some people work harder than others, that some people have more aptitude for certain subjects than others, that some people live in more stable homes and communities.

And it certainly does not cross their minds that they ought to gain more than the most superficial understand of what the word equality means.

For them, it’s all bigotry all the time. It’s almost as though they believe that the system is rigged against them, to the point where they can never succeed, no matter what. This is not the kind of thinking that will motivate you to excel.

Evidently, a culture that values meritocracy is not at all the same as a culture that plays on identity politics.

David Brooks explained the difference this morning:

The identity politics the students have produced inverts the values of the meritocracy. The meritocracy is striving toward excellence; identity politics is deeply egalitarian. The meritocracy measures you by how much you’ve accomplished; identity politics measures you by how much you’ve been oppressed. In the meritocracy your right to be heard is earned through long learning and quality insight; in identity politics your right to be heard is earned by your experience of discrimination. The meritocracy places tremendous emphasis on individual agency; identity politics argues that agency is limited within a system of oppression.

The current wave of identity politics shows that affirmative action has failed. It has failed even more miserably since our great nation, in a spasm of righteousness, decided in 2008 to make the presidency an affirmative action job.

As social experiments go, the presidency of Barack Obama has been a major failure. It could have convinced minority group members to work harder to compete in the world and even to reject the false promises that were being offered by affirmative action. In truth, it did just the opposite. It made them even more embittered.

If Barack Obama could not succeed and could not improve the lot of black Americans, that could only mean that the racism and corruption of the system was far worse than they had imagined. In place of cosmetic fixes, the new radicals wanted to destroy the entire system, to bring down America.

No one seemed to notice that the more you think about bigotry, the more you dedicate your mind to finding it and fighting it, the less you will be working to improve yourself and to rise up in the meritocratic ranks.

Nathan Heller identified the role of Obama in a recent New Yorker article:

When they were eleven or twelve, Barack Obama was elected President, and people hailed this as a national-historic moment that changed everything. “That’s the bill of goods they’ve been sold,” Romano explains. “And, as they get older, they go, ‘This is crap! It’s not true!’ ” They saw the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice. And, at schools like Oberlin, they noticed that the warm abstractions of liberalism weren’t connecting with the way things operated on the ground.

Ah, yes, “the warm abstractions of liberalism.” The students who have been admitted to schools by affirmative action have been recipients of the good feelings, the warm empathy of liberals. They have been told that they are just as good as everyone else, and that, given the right environment they would excel like everyone else. Do these students, being the objects of a grand social experiment in idealistic liberalism, realize that these liberals who receive their votes have been lying to them?

Certainly, warm and cuddly liberals do not quite understand what has gone wrong. Heller explains their special problem:

Such reports flummoxed many people who had always thought of themselves as devout liberals. Wasn’t free self-expression the whole point of social progressivism? Wasn’t liberal academe a way for ideas, good and bad, to be subjected to enlightened reason? Generations of professors and students imagined the university to be a temple for productive challenge and perpetually questioned certainties. Now, some feared, schools were being reimagined as safe spaces for coddled youths and the self-defined, untested truths that they held dear. Disorientingly, too, none of the disputes followed normal ideological divides: both the activists and their opponents were multicultural, educated, and true of heart. At some point, it seemed, the American left on campus stopped being able to hear itself think.

Heller was explicitly writing about Oberlin College. He selected well because Oberlin has been a laboratory for diversity.

He explained:

A school like Oberlin, which prides itself on being the first to have regularly admitted women and black students, explicitly values diversity. But it’s also supposed to lift students out of their circumstances, diminishing difference. Under a previous ideal, one that drew on terms such as “affirmative action,” students like Eosphoros and Bautista would have been made to feel lucky just to be in school. Today, they are told that they belong there, but they also must take on an extracurricular responsibility: doing the work of diversity. They move their lives to rural Ohio and perform their identities, whatever that might mean. They bear out the school’s vision. In exchange, they’re groomed for old-school entry into the liberal upper middle class. An irony surrounds the whole endeavor, and a lot of students seemed to see it.

As it happens, these students have no respect for authority and believe that the least harsh word is a crime. One professor was dismayed by the fact that today’s students cannot even make eye contact. To my mind, this is an excellent observation and a damning indictment. These students are far from being ready to assume adult responsibilities. They are still cry babies, running to Mommy and Daddy at the first slight:

Copeland has taught at Oberlin since the nineteen-seventies. He was puzzled by many things about today’s students—“They do not make eye contact! They do not look into your motherfucking eyes!”—but what galled him most was their apparent eagerness to go over their professors’ heads. In the late fall of 2014, during rehearsals for a play he was coördinating, he spoke sharply to a student: a misfire not of language, he says, but of tone. The student ran out of the room. Copeland says that he wanted to smooth ruffled feathers and keep the production on track, so he agreed to meet with the student and his department chair. At the meeting, the student asked that he leave the room, and she and the department head spoke alone for about half an hour.

Of course, as Shelby Steele has been pointing for decades now, once you have different admissions standards for different ethnic groups, anyone who belongs to a disadvantaged group is assumed to have received an unfair preference. Even if said student could have gotten in on his merits, affirmative action policies stigmatize him. Thus, other students do not treat him as one of the group, but as a special case, someone who has not earned his way by merit.

Heller rendered the experience of one black woman:

Jasmine Adams, a senior and a member of the black-student union, Abusua, is talking about arriving at Oberlin.

“It was, like, one day I was at college having fun, and the next day someone called me the N-word, and I had no avenue,” she says. She has on a red flannel button-down shirt, open over a tank top. There’s a crisp red kerchief around her head, knotted above a pair of hip blue-and-brown-tortoised glasses. “My parents don’t have the funds to drive to Oberlin when I’m crying and ready to self-harm. The only way that I can facilitate those conversations is to advocate for myself. That in itself makes me a part of a social-justice climate.”

For Adams, everything is about race. After all, it’s one subject where she has a superior knowledge and more experience. Unfortunately, this narrows her focus and causes her to refuse to learn about anything else. Identify people by race and they come to think that that is all they are.

In Heller’s words:

“We’re asking to be reflected in our education,” Adams cuts in. “I literally am so tired of learning about Marx, when he did not include race in his discussion of the market!” She shrugs incredulously. “As a person who plans on returning to my community, I don’t want to assimilate into middle-class values. I’m going home, back to the ’hood of Chicago, to be exactly who I was before I came to Oberlin.”

Black students often end up thinking that they have been conned. It would be nice if they understood that they have been conned by well-meaning liberals, but that is perhaps too much to expect.

In Heller’s words:

But at Oberlin a number of students seem to want to run away. More than a few have told me that they are leaving Oberlin, or about to leave Oberlin, or thinking about leaving Oberlin—and this at one of the country’s most resource-rich, student-focussed schools. (“Many students say things,” Krislov tells me.) A number of them, especially less privileged students such as Adams and Eosphoros, speak of higher education as a con sold to them on phony premises.

And also:

Carey, like Bautista, went to élite schools on scholarships; she says that, for her, the past few years have been about “unlearning” most of what she had been taught. She put together the symposium without support from the college, in part because she thinks that higher education, being a tool of capitalism, can’t be redeemed. Instead, her goal these days is to help people like her survive college and get on with their lives. “There’s been a shift from explicit racism to implicit racism,” she says. “It’s still racism. But now you’re criticized for complaining about it, because you’re allowed to go to college: ‘What are you complaining about? There’s a black President!’ 

This is what happens when a policy fails.

Becoming a Dog

The last time I heard a woman call a man a “dog,” she did not mean it as a compliment.

Now, in yet another sign of the decline and fall of Western civilization-- in particular, of the Anglo-Saxon branch-- British television has done an expose on men who believe that they are dogs, who dress up like dogs, who walk on all fours, who bark like dogs, but who are, alas, vegetarians.

And, why not? If you can be whatever gender you want to be; if you can change your gender based on your belief and impose that belief on everyone else; why not become a dog or a cat or a goat.

[For the record, a woman in Norway considers herself to have been born into the wrong species. In her case, as in the case of the transgendered, God made a mistake. She is really a cat. The trouble is: she cannot catch mice.]

Is it all any different from bronyhood. You recall the brony contingent. Having discovered that many girls love a story called My Little Pony, groups of men have taken to dressing up as ponies. The call themselves bronies and get together in congresses. They do not, I have reason to believe, think of themselves as real ponies. I wrote about this absurdity several years back. Link here.

At least Gregor Samsa had the good sense to be metamorphosed into a giant and verminous insect… involuntarily, however.

Just in case you were having trouble adjusting to men who think they are women and women who think they are men and people who think they are neither, soon our government will issue an executive directive explaining that if Tom thinks he is a dog, you must treat him like a dog. Or, to be fair, like a puppy. Treating people like dogs does not sound quite so felicitous.

Anyway, here is what’s coming around the bend, from The Guardian, where they take this stuffy utterly seriously. Don’t you know that they are simply testing the strength of your conviction, your ability to believe anything whatever. If you buy into it you have shown that you have completely taken leave of reality and thus have become a complete fanatic.

Keep in mind, if you don’t believe this, you are a bigot. And if  you think that these people, including the journalists, are not serious, you do not see what is going on around you:

It’s easy to laugh at a grown man in a rubber dog suit chewing on a squeaky toy. Maybe too easy, in fact, because to laugh is to dismiss it, denigrate it – ignore the fact that many of us have found comfort and joy in pretending to be animals at some point in our lives.

Secret Life of the Human Pups is a sympathetic look at the world of pup play, a movement that grew out of the BDSM community and has exploded in the last 15 years as the internet made it easier to reach out to likeminded people. While the pup community is a broad church, human pups tend to be male, gay, have an interest in dressing in leather, wear dog-like hoods, enjoy tactile interactions like stomach rubbing or ear tickling, play with toys, eat out of bowls and are often in a relationship with their human “handlers”.

In the documentary, we see Tom, AKA Spot, take part in the Mr Puppy Europe competition in Antwerp, a mix of beauty pageant, talent show and Crufts; David, AKA Bootbrush, talk to camera in a leather dog mask; two pups walk through London pretending to wee on lampposts to raise awareness of their identity; and lots of men jumping up for “treats”, barking and wagging their mechanical tails.

When I speak to Tom, he is keen to point out that puppy play is about more than just outfits and surface-level power games: it’s about being given licence to behave in a way that feels natural, even primal. “You’re not worrying about money, or food, or work,” says Tom, who works as an engineer in a theatre. “It’s just the chance to enjoy each other’s company on a very simple level.”

It’s easy to laugh at this, but don’t you dare. If you refuse to accept these people for what they really are, the thought police will come and get you.

If perchance they do, here is a solution. Tell them that you are invisible. Tell them that since you believe you are invisible, you are invisible. If they can see you, they are bigots. If they touch you they are bigots. They should be condemned for failing to accept you for what you really are.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Am Not My Muslim Brother's Keeper

Now, repeat after me:

I am not at fault.

I am not to blame.

I am not responsible for the behavior of other people. Other people have a right to fail. They have a right to accept responsibility for their failures. They have a right to evade responsibilities for their failures. None of it is my fault.

To put it another way:

I am not my Muslim brother’s keeper.

As the Western world becomes mired in guilt over the condition of the Muslim world, Daniel Greenfield offers a useful corrective. I trust that Greenfield would accept that the West and America have often, with good and not-so-good intentions, meddled in Muslim affairs. For the most part, the results have not been very constructive.

This being the case, Muslims are still responsible for their own behavior, for their own dysfunctional political and economic systems. If you want to guilt trip the West for failing to save Muslims from themselves, you are welcome to do so.

Yet, by setting down the facts of the matter, Greenfield exposes the failed reasoning that has infected Western elites. These elites fail to address the realities of the problems in the Muslim world because they are mired in their own guilt: for colonialism, for imperialism, for misguided adventures, for capitalism, for Israel, for ideal-driven wars. This is to say: anyone whose success makes Muslims look bad by comparison is at fault.

Note the narcissism running beneath the surface of these supposedly noble ideas: if we are at fault, we do not only owe the Muslim world recompense—perhaps by sacrificing a few more Swedish women to their predations—but we grant ourselves—and only ourselves-- the power and the authority to change things. This necessarily implies that Muslims lack that power and authority. 

Writing in crisp prose—the better to draw attention to the facts—Greenfield lays out the issues, or, should I say, the trouble with Islam. One can easily see the correlation between his view and David Goldman’s notion that Islam is a failing and dying civilization, one that has lost out in the marketplace where civilizations and cultures compete:

In Greenfield’s words:

The vast majority of civil wars over the last ten years have taken place in Muslim countries. Muslim countries are also some of the poorest in the world. And Muslim countries also have high birth rates.

Combine violence and poverty with a population boom and you get a permanent migration crisis.

No matter what happens in Syria or Libya next year, that permanent migration crisis isn’t going away.

Later, he will say that the only way that the West can reasonably deal with the crisis will be to close its doors and to build walls.

Muslim countries have failed miserably in economic competition:

The Muslim world is expanding unsustainably. In the Middle East and Asia, Muslims tend to underperform their non-Muslim neighbors both educationally and economically. Oil is the only asset that gave Muslims any advantage and in the age of fracking, its value is a lot shakier than it used to be.

And also,

Muslim countries with lower literacy rates, especially for women, are never going to be economic winners at any trade that doesn’t come gushing out of the ground. Nor will unstable dictatorships ever be able to provide social mobility or access to the good life. At best they’ll hand out subsidies for bread.

The Muslim world has no prospects for getting any better. The Arab Spring was a Western delusion.

Growing populations divided along tribal and religious lines are competing for a limited amount of land, power and wealth. Countries without a future are set to double in size.

Evidently, the people in these cultures do not have what we call a work ethic. In the absence of such an ethic they see only one path out of their economic decline: take what others have earned:

There are only two solutions; war or migration.

Either you fight and take what you want at home. Or you go abroad and take what you want there.

Some blame it all on the Iraq War. After all, it is politically expedient for anyone on the left to do so. Greenfield responds:

Let’s assume that the Iraq War had never happened. How would a religiously and ethnically divided Iraq have managed its growth from 13 million in the eighties to 30 million around the Iraq War to 76 million in 2050?

The answer is a bloody civil war followed by genocide, ethnic cleansing and migration.

The two possible solutions: extortion or invasion:

Plan A for getting money out of the West is creating a crisis that will force it to intervene. That can mean anything from starting a war to aiding terrorists that threaten the West. Muslim countries keep shooting themselves in the foot so that Westerners will rush over to kiss the booboo and make it better.

Plan B is to move to Europe.

And Plan B is a great plan. It’s the only real economic plan that works. At least until the West runs out of native and naïve Westerners who foot the bill for all the migrants, refugees and outright settlers.

For thousands of dollars, a Middle Eastern Muslim can pay to be smuggled into Europe. It’s a small investment with a big payoff. Even the lowest tier welfare benefits in Sweden are higher than the average salary in a typical Muslim migrant nation. And Muslim migrants are extremely attuned to the payoffs. It’s why they clamor to go to Germany or Sweden, not Greece or Slovakia. And it’s why they insist on big cities with an existing Muslim social welfare infrastructure, not some rural village.

Large loans will be repaid as the new migrants begin sending their new welfare benefits back home. Many will be officially unemployed even while unofficially making money through everything from slave labor to organized crime. European authorities will blame their failure to participate in the job market on racism rather than acknowledging that they exist within the confines of an alternate economy.

It’s not only individuals or families who can pursue Plan B. Turkey wants to join the European Union. It’s one solution for an Islamist populist economy built on piles of debt. The EU has a choice between dealing with the stream of migrants from Turkey moving to Europe. Or all of Turkey moving into Europe.

Greenfield concludes that we are not guilty. And we are not responsible for the dysfunction that is destroying the Muslim world:

The West did not create Muslim dysfunction. And it is not responsible for it. Instead the dysfunction of the Muslim world keeps dragging the West in. Every Western attempt to ameliorate it, from humanitarian aid to peacekeeping operations, only opens up the West to take the blame for Islamic dysfunction.

Muslim civil wars will continue even if the West never intervenes in them because their part of the world is fundamentally unstable. These conflicts will lead to the displacement of millions of people. But even without violence, economic opportunism alone will drive millions to the West. And those millions carry with them the dysfunction of their culture that will make them a burden and a threat.

As for the airy-fairy notion—most recently proposed by the government of Angela Merkel—that the West needs to do more to help refugees assimilate, Greenfield rejects it:

If Muslims can’t reconcile their conflicts at home, what makes us think that they will reconcile them in Europe? Instead of resolving their problems through migration, they only export them to new shores. The same outbursts of Islamic violence, xenophobia, economic malaise and unsustainable growth follow them across seas and oceans, across continents and countries. Distance is no answer. Travel is no cure.

Forget about It

I offered the same opinion myself in my book The Last Psychoanalyst, so I find David Rieff’s argument very persuasive. So much so that I have posted about it before.

In his new book, In Praise of Forgetting, Rieff essays to free us from the notion, made famous by George Santayana, that if we forget the past we are condemned to repeat it. By implication, if we remember the past we are freed from the curse that would make us repeat it.

Beyond the fact, as Rieff argues, that our memory of the past is mostly mythmaking, it is also true, as I have argued, that the past never really repeats itself in exactly the same way. Thus, being preoccupied with the past must in fact blind you to the present.

Generations of psychotherapists, from various schools of psychotherapy, have happily sold the notion that recovering or reinterpreting or reconstructing the past will free you from its burdens. The truth, however, is that getting mired in the past is more likely to make you dysfunctional in the present. It will blind you to the specific details of today’s reality and make the situation more difficult to deal with.

Besides, just because have figured out how not to make the same mistake again in no way prevents you from making a different, even worse mistake. Knowing what not to do does not tell you what to do.

In the meantime, a few words from Rieff:

I truly don’t understand—I’m not being disingenuous or rhetorical—I don’t understand how people got it into their heads that [knowing about] the crimes of the past provides some kind of prophylactic against crimes committed in the present. I see literally no basis for that. I think this is an exercise in mass wishful thinking. If we’re talking about intervention, if the idea is if there’s a genocide and if you remember the genocides of the past you’ll know to intervene in the present—that’s very nice, but in fact we don’t really know how to intervene. We don’t know what to do! The one time we’ve actually intervened in modern times on that basis, after in 2005 the UN passed this Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which in very limited and specific cases authorized international intervention to stop mass atrocities and genocide and such things, was Libya [in 2011]. It seems to me that intervention there made things exponentially worse, as I think even a lot of the people who supported it at the time would now admit. And nobody knows what to do with Syria.