Thursday, December 20, 2018

A New York State of Mindlessness

Congress shall pass no law… those are the opening words to the First Amendment to the Constitution. They guarantee us freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press… and so on. In the course of history the amendment’s scope was expanded to include state and local governments. Now, no legislature is allowed to pass laws inhibiting our freedom of expression.

And yet, there’s more to freedom than government interference. Organized private groups now routinely try to shut down television shows, as in Tucker Carlson’s show. They do it by pressuring advertisers into boycotting the show. They cannot be said to be restricting speech, but their action aims at the same goal.

Freedom of expression was supposed to produce a functioning marketplace of ideas. By the free trade in ideas, Justice Holmes argued, we could arrive at the truth. This means that no one opinion was likely to contain the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Different opinions contain aspects of the truth. Only through vigorous exchange of ideas would we arrive at a point of view that comprises the best in all sides, but also that joins us together through a process that resembles a negotiated compromise.

These thoughts wafted through my mind while reading two accounts of life in New York City today. I have had occasion to remark that New York is a city full of free thinkers, all of whom think exactly the same thing. How right I was. The urge to impose opinions on others has now gotten completely out of control. Narrow minded and bigoted New Yorkers, especially those of the leftist persuasion, refuse to listen to the least word that might call their deeply held beliefs into question. They are so enamored of their idols that they feel compelled to demonize anyone who might dare utter a discouraging word. Today, these paragons of illiteracy enforce their viewpoints, but not through legislative action. They enforce by social means, by shunning, by ostracising, by shutting down, by expelling from polite society.

It is nightmarish for a young writer who writes in Quillette under a pseudonym, Lester Berg. He cannot even write in his own name, lest he be relegated to complete pariah status in the New York literary world. And it is just as nightmarish for therapist Pamela Garber, a young woman who lives in the world of psycho professionals and who finds them to be narrow minded bigots… an unthinking band of fanatics who are an embarrassment to themselves and their professions. (Both of these articles were linked by Maggie’s Farm).

So, consider their experiences as somewhat typical of New Yorkers trying to navigate their way through a world defined by pure hatred of Donald Trump. And hatred of everyone who ever has a good thing to say about Trump.

Here are a few slices of everyday life for New Yorkers who fail to toe the party line. By the way, as you are thinking how good it is to live in a free country, and how bad it would be to live in a country like China where they censor political opinions, I defy you to show me how these incidents manifest a freedom to speak your mind without fear of negative consequences.

Berg opens with an anecdote:

An author I’ll call Daniel, who’d solicited my critical feedback in the past, sold his novel to a top publisher, earning a huge advance. I was happy for him, and he was kind enough to thank me in the book’s acknowledgements. But the novel didn’t sell well. And Daniel found a way to blame the bad numbers on Trump’s presidency.

“I hate every Republican, good or bad, with every fibre of my being,” he declared to the world. Trump’s supporters, he said, were all “soulless troglodytes.”

Since Berg is a Russian immigrant, his friend Daniel naturally despises him too… because Russians handed the election to Donald Trump:

“I think Russians have been at the root of our discord for years,” Daniel announced at one point. “I think they own the government and the NRA.…They are the true enemy…Seriously, #russia, fuck you.” Caught up in these negative reveries, he would lapse into Swiftian absurdism, declaring at one point, “I hope we deport every single one of you motherfuckers back to Russia where you’ll live in gulags.” Eventually, Twitter deleted Daniel’s account after he allegedly posted threatening tweets against other users.

A woman, daughter of a novelist, supposedly a member of a more sophisticated class, hated Berg for being Russian. No bigotry there:

the daughter of a renowned American novelist told me to “honestly fuck off. Go translate media monitoring kits for Trump… How did you all get into our country? Jesus Christ…You are a great reason why we need immigration reform now.”

Trump’s enemies are far more fully consumed by hatred than are Trump’s supporters:

But because of what I do for a living, and who my friends are, I’ve learned that Trump’s enemies can be every bit as Manichean and hysterical as Trump’s supporters. As with a massive gas giant orbiting a smaller body, the gravitational field of Trump’s symbolic presence has come to draw in the petty grievances, career anxieties and existential dread of a whole generation of intellectuals. I hate my boss: Fuck Trump! My spouse hates me: Fuck Trump! No one will buy my book: Fuck Trump! Please, I want somebody to love me: Fuck Trump! Here, at last, was somebody we could freely hate more that we hate each other or ourselves.

The New York left, especially the intelligentsia, has simply lost its ability to think:

As shown by the arc of my relationship with Jamie—and the many other Jamies who populate the New York writing scene—Trump is as much a symptom as a cause. His appearance in American politics coincides with a larger trend on the left that now serves to elevate every form of personal disappointment into a symptom of “systemic” abuse. The result hasn’t just been that my erstwhile friends are afflicted with debilitating persecution complexes: It also has destroyed their ability to exercise independent thought. For free thought requires the free use of language, which is impossible when smart people like Jamie or Daniel are required to push the round peg of art and creation into the square hole of political sloganeering.

And, it is not just Trump. Berg lost a girlfriend because he has said something nice about… you guessed it… Camille Paglia.

I also have parted ways with my long-time girlfriend, who got swept up in these same currents, and who once literally wept in my presence because I had made a flattering reference to Camille Paglia.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Paglia is, if anything, a denizen of the left. She happens to think for herself and she manifests intellectual integrity. For that she has become persona non grata in New York intellectual circles.

Anyway, therapist Pamela Garber has had similar experiences. Beginning with the way that her planned marriage was aborted by a fiance who thought that Trump was Hitler:

He [the ex-fiance] then said the president is guilty of genocide for what he is "doing" to the caravan people. I said I see it differently but that I am sympathetic and heartbroken still over Elián González and that having to face Janet Reno in the middle of the night was pretty cruel. He then said we are not a match, that people like me are destroying the world – but wished me luck and then said, "Lord help us" before hanging up on me.

Garber finds a similar reaction in the psycho world and among family members:

"I question your ability to have true empathy," says the fellow therapist at a workshop.
"Oh, it's because you lived in Texas that time with your aunt as a child," says my grandmother's cousin, a doctor, sounding as if she discovered the cause of my unfortunate diagnosis.

"Check, please," says the divorced guy I sat down with at a coffee shop.

The last comes from an aborted date… aborted when she mentions that she is a Trump supporter.

Another date is as thoroughly lacking in good manners and congeniality:

"I don't understand how you can call yourself an American and still support what this man is doing," says another date. "I think you need to remember who Adolf Hitler was," says my very ex-date, a psychologist in private practice. That one made the rhythm stop as I looked at this person sitting across from me. I regained my composure enough to respond as follows: "When you make a comparison between two people, it helps when the people have a significant, legitimate commonality. Do you, as an educated, employed person, see factual commonality?"

He replied, "You're an awful Jew and a disappointment to your people."

That’s right, Donald Trump is one of the best friends Israel has had in the White House, and if you say the least good word about him you are an awful Jew. When Barack Obama undermined Israel and funded terrorists who want to destroy it, he was a great friend to the Jewish people.

It’s a New York State of Mind… gone completely off the rails.


whitney said...

I think this is very astute of Pamela Garber

"My next insight: If the Trump-haters are playing the role of the angry parents, then President Trump is the Identified Patient. If our country is a family, then President Trump is the scapegoated teen who prompted all the issues to come to light."

sestamibi said...

What was both especially pathetic and ominous was the assault by Antifa on the Metropolitan Republican Club's HQ in Manhattan. This in a city with 6-1 Democrat voter registration edge, a progressive far-left mayor, not one GOP US rep in Congress next year, only one GOP state senator (where there once were one from each borough), and only three GOP members of the city council. One wonders what these people fear.

Leo G said...

And in more news from the big apple -

I cannot even comment on this :(

trigger warning said...

"there’s more to freedom than government interference"

There certainly is, as Carlson and many other conservatives know. In fact, the absurdly named Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary is known simply as BAMN - by any means necessary. Gang of Vicious Lackwits would be more descriptive.

Solzhenitsyn nailed it:

"[H]ow we burned in the [gulag] camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?"

These stump-toothed, knuckledragging BAMN thugs need a good dose of their own bamn medicine.

Sam L. said...


"It’s a New York State of Mind… gone completely off the rails." Yet, they really WANT to railroad the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

The therapist was a bit wierd to tell a man right off the bat that she loves Donald Trump. Who talks politics the minute they meet someone? She might strike men as too intense and that's the real problem.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Good try... but in today's dating scene young people ask about political affiliation and beliefs off the top...when they are not asking about STDs and favorite sex positions. If you are not part of that world, you would not imagine what goes on.

Walt said...

Agreeing with Stuart, but it's not just in sexy situations or just among the Young People. Get introduced to a stranger at any NYC dinner party and the third thing out of their mouth is likely to be a harsh crack about Trump or Republicans in general --not infrequently on the Hitler note--on the understanding that everyone will, of course, agree. Since you're not considering ending the night in bed with this person, let alone sizing them up for eventual marriage, and since you don't want to bust up a friend's party, an evasive answer or a quick trip for more ice in your drink (or the sudden need to phone your agent/babysitter/mother/dentist) is usually the answer. But not on a first date where you'd have to speak up because it's not gonna work anyway. Long way of saying, it was more likely that the guy, not the woman, was the first to get political.

Johann Amadeus Metesky said...

She's Jewish and single? How old is she? Probably too young for me. Oh well.

DocVinny said...

I had an interesting conversation with someone I had thought of as a close friend right before the 2016 election.

"Hi. My boyfriend says I can't be friends with you because you support Trump"

(How many things can you find wrong with that statement?)

I answered "oh well. I'm sorry. I guess we can't be friends then."

She shot back "What? You'd give up or our friendshfor Donald Trump? I can't believe it!"

And they was the last time I spoke with her. There was no room for discussion, sharing ideas, or comparison of the values of the candidates.

My circle of friends had gotten smaller, but the overall quality has improved.. And no, not all of them are trump supporters.