Hate Labels

Anybody who’s not on the hard left of the political spectrum has probably been called “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” “transphobic,” or something along these lines. It’s gotten to be so commonplace that conservatives have generally stopped bothering to argue about it. As the saying goes, “a ‘racist’ is someone who’s winning an argument with a leftist.” Indeed, one may have noticed a trending increase in the use of the term “white supremicist” rather than “racist.” This shows only that “racist” has lost its effect.

 

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In war, leaders seek to dehumanize the enemy, as it makes it easier for soldiers to kill them. Most people (most non-sociopaths, anyway) generally recoil in horror at the idea of killing another human being.

Hence, in the Revolutionary War, you had Yankee Doodles and Redcoats (or “lobsterbacks”). In the civil war, you had Yanks and Rebs. In World Wars I and II, you had, variously, Krauts, Frogs, Nips, etc, etc. And so it goes.

All of these names are applied so that the guy looking down the rifle sight – the guy with a conscience – can kill the enemy without morality getting in the way.

One may, as I do, find this lamentable, but it’s the way of war, and I suspect always has been, and always will be.

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With that in mind, let’s think again about some of those terms I discussed at the beginning. “Racist,” “sexist,” etc.

I grew up in the shadow of the 60s. I was born in 1966, so most of my formative years were in the 70s. At that time racism was something you saw every day. White kids would call the black kids “the n-word” on the playground. There was the Boston bussing crisis. The KKK was active. Social “scientists” were discovering the full extent of racial discrimination in hiring. When someone was called a racist or a bigot, it was usually with fairly solid justification, and it was a label very few people wanted.

The Civil Rights Movement had already won its most important victories by then, and culturally, most people – or at least most young people – had bought into the idea that people of all races should be equal. (Note that, at that time, what was meant by “being equal” was equality before the law, as well as being seen as fully human individuals with the same worth as anyone else.)

There was an emphasis on the “individual” part in those days. The idea was that you shouldn’t judge an individual based on what you think of his racial background.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the turn of the century: As real racism receded, professors of what, at the time, was known as “Black Studies” started to redefine the term.

Many of the Black/Womens/various ethnic studies departmens were created in response to student demands during the campus riots of the 60s. One can debate whether or not such departments were needed, but once created, they became an established interest group with professional leaders (at the time, college professors, later, community organizers, and the like).

The fading away of real, overt racism left them in a bind. If the problem is largely solved, why study it? And if there’s no reason to study it, then somebody is out of a job. The professional activists had to get a little creative. As the belief that one race might be superior to another died, the term “racist” got stretched. It began to morph into things like “unconscious racism,” “cultural bias,” “Institutional racism” at the like. The academy, and the network of professional activists that had grown up around it began to formulate an idea of racism that didn’t include actual racists.

But the idea of people – white people – as the driving force behind racism wouldn’t die so easily. In the absence of many actual racists, the idea of individuality was jettisoned. All black people were to be black first, and anything else second. All white people were white first, and responsible for all the impersonal, institutional and subconscious racism of all other white people. This did two things for the professional activists. 1) It gave them a “problem” which was intangable, and therefore impossible to disprove (or prove, either, but they didn’t worry so much about that), and 2) It brought them into a partnership with other disciplines where there was a Marxist bent (which was much of the humanities at the time).

And so, these “studies” departments became part of the academic Marxist machine which had been under construction since the founding of the Frankfurt School. With a broad base of support, in no small part by younger faculty who’d been influenced by these departments as students, the “studies” departments began to proliferate. “Queer Studies,” “Gender Studies,” and other studies devoted to the “oppression” of minority groups.

The approaches and perspectives may have differed, but the central message was always the same: White males have constructed a society that oppresses everyone who isn’t a white male.

Now, it’s not terribly difficult to refute a lot of this stuff, and the tenured activists know this. Thus, the critique of “whiteness” seeks to discredit such ideas as logic, evidence,  and deductive reasoning and replace them with “other ways of knowing,” which basically amounts to personal experience. (Indeed, one of the more troubling developments in academia is the rise of the so-called “auto-ethnography.” This is where one does “academic work” by writing about oneself. Don’t laugh. This is treated as serious research, and is published in peer-reviewed journals and everything.)

The Obama years fed this beast lavishly. With executive orders, regulations, and tortured interpretations of Title IX, the Marxist stronghold on the university became a stranglehold that exists to this day. And on the “academic” front, a new concept has entered the hive mind: intersectionality.

Intersectionality says that all these “isms”  and “phobias” – racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, transphobia, etc, ad nauseam, are part of mutually reinforcing system of oppression against anyone who isn’t a white male. Indeed, in some places, some of these “Studies” departments are being linked together under the rubric  of “Oppression Studies” or “Social Justice Studies”.

Regardless of the area of study, all of these departments teach that the United States is a morass of oppression. That a black person, or a gay person, or – heaven forfend – a gay black person faces a constant barrage of belittlement, rejection, and sorrow. Moreover, things we tend to think of as unambiguously good – freedom of speech, the press, religion, presumption of innocence – the various foundations of western law and civilization, are, we’re told, inventions of white people that are designed to serve and reinforce oppression.

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The idea that anyone in America is oppressed is clearly risible. Women in America may pay more for clothes, but women in Syria, say, face sexual slavery, forced marriages, genital mutilation, honor killings, and are wholly under the command of their fathers or husbands. Black people may have a tough time finding a job, but slavery still exists in the middle east, and tribal violence is rampant across Africa.

This is not to say that minority groups don’t face problems here, but to compare African Americans to, say, the Yazidi in Syria, is absolutely absurd. By global standards, what counts as “oppression” in America is little more than inconvenience.

Never the less, “oppression studies” continue to thrive, and their influence is felt far beyond their departments. A student of, say, Physics may not have much interest in far-left navel-gazing, but that student will probably be required to take some sort of “social justice” class, where he will be told that as a cisgendered, white, heterosexual male, he is an oppressor. If he dissents, he may face not only the derision of the professor and classmates, but his GPA may suffer, and he may even face disciplinary action.

If someone is oppressed, then someone else has to be the oppressor. Even if the oppressor is an impersonal system, white men, we are told, are to blame for creating that system, and therefore white men are still the oppressors, even if they personally haven’t done any oppressing.

The expected response in the classroom is that the white people will recognize and acknowledge their own unconscious isms and phobias, and will make some sort of gesture of obeisance. I’ve seen more than one post on social media that begins with something like, “I realize that as a white person, I’m coming from a very privileged place on this…”

But what if one disagrees? From what I hear, most non-conforming students just keep their heads down and mouth the platitudes until the class is over.  But those who speak up are labeled.

“White supremacist.”

“Transphobe”

“Misogynist”

And because of the idea of intersectionality, if you’re one of these things, you’re all of these things. You are, in effect, a Nazi.

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That any American who is not an actual member of a Nazi party is called a Nazi should boil the blood of every Jew in the world. The actual Nazis tried to exterminate them, and made a pretty good go of it. That anyone could convince themselves that American conservatives – nay, American non-Marxists – are of a piece with those who loaded the trains and stoked the ovens is so reprehensible that one (or at least I) can feel physical revulsion at the idea.

And yet, here we are, with Americans calling other Americans Nazis. And meaning it! We’re not talking “soup nazis” here.

According to the people doing the name calling, it’s even OK to punch “nazis”. I mean, if you’d had the chance to do violence to Hitler before he came to power, wouldn’t you have done it? Wouldn’t it have been a good thing?

It’s an interesting ethical question, but the people being targeted are not nearly Hitler. Not even remotely. In terms of moral repugnance, they don’t even approach the level of a random truck driver in the German army.

But it’s okay to punch them. It’s a good thing. It’s the right thing.

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What is this if not a dehumanization tactic? The word “Nazi” conjures an image of the worst people in history (never mind that the communists in Russia and China killed more people – we didn’t fight a shooting war with them). The leftists of today are borrowing the dehumanization of the Germans from the military of WWII, and applying it to Americans whose only crime is believing that Milo Yianopolous has as much right to speak as Elizabeth Warren.

So. Racist. Homophobe. Ableist.

Fascist. Nazi. “Literally Hitler”.

All these labels are of a piece, and they serve the same purpose. The purpose is to make it morally acceptable to hate – really HATE, on a visceral level – white people (white men especially), and anyone who pushes back against the far-left party line. And with that hate, an accepting of violence towards its objects. Hence we see people assaulted for wearing MAGA hats or Trump t-shirts. We see people maced and beaten in riots over speakers. We see an attempted (and partially successful) massacre of Republican Congressmen.

If it’s not completely obvious, this is going to lead to a very bad place. The tendency of violence is to escalate. We are beginning to see a hardening of attitudes on the right lately. “If they want a fight, we’ll give ‘em one,” seems to be a growing sentiment.

If this trend remains unchecked it’ll lead to riots at the very least, and possibly even civil war. (That term has started to pop up on Twitter a good bit lately).

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So what can we do about it?

I’d like to see this trend stop, but I’m not sure it’s possible. It may be that the forces of history and human nature will ensure that the USA will splinter in violent conflict. I sincerely hope that that’s not the case.

For my own part, what I’ve chosen to do is to take a page from the leftist playbook, and call out this behavior when I see it. To that end, I’ve coined a term for the name calling. I call it “hate labeling”. The reason that I’ve chosen this term is that it combines two things that leftists are supposedly against (but aren’t really, depending on the target) hate, and labels.

Much of the justification for targeting non-leftists is that we engage in “hate speech.” Hate is clearly bad, and I want to make it clear that what they are doing is hate-based. And people – young people in particular – don’t like being labeled.  Call a millennial “a millennial” and see what kind of reaction you get.

My hope is that the term will catch on, and any time someone gets called a “racist” or something similar, they’ll feel free to say, “Don’t put your hate labels on me.”

Will this change anything? I don’t know. My hope is that it will make at least a few of them examine what they’re doing and why. At the very least, it might give regular people a way of turning the radicals’ hate back on them.

I don’t have too much hope that this will happen. I’m just a nobody, and have zero influence. I’m hoping that someone with a little more influence likes the term and starts using it. I don’t even care if I get credit for coining it.

The Media’s Uncanny Resilience

A while back, I was fired from a job. There were politics (office type, not electoral) involved, but the ostensible reason was my failure to do something that needed to be done.

At first I was in denial about that. I thought at the time that an executive’s inflamed ego was pretty much the only cause. While I still believe that to be a large factor, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mistakes were also a factor. It was kind of painful to come to this realization. I wanted to be the victim. But I also know that if one fails to learn from these sorts of things, one can find oneself repeating the same mistakes, and I really don’t want to do that.

So in that way, I was forced (by myself really) to confront reality.

This is something the media seems unwilling to do. In emotional terms, the election of President Trump was much like a firing for the media. And with Trump relegating some big name news outlets to the back benches, well… there’s a reason “You’re fired,” is his catchphrase.

But the media is determined to put the “blame” for Trump on anyone but themselves. The Russians? Sure. White supremacists? You bet. Lousy white trash rubes in flyover country? Oh yeah! Especially them.

One thing they absolutely will NOT do is to take an honest look at their own role in the events of the past year.

I’m going to digress for a minute, but I promise it’s relevant.

A lot of people use the term “narcissist” as a colloquialism for general self-centeredness, or what, in earlier times would have been called “a swelled head”. But if you’ve ever known a person with diagnosed, clinical narcissistic personality disorder, you’ve probably seen a few remarkable things.

Though these people are often deeply unhappy, they never believe the problem is with themselves. They are unable to conceive of the idea of themselves as being any kind of problem. The problem is those other people.

See where I’m going with this?

Back in the 80s, when I was younger, and on the left, I noticed that most newspaper articles had a leftward tilt.I was not looking for bias, but I could see it. I could sense that, say, the Boston Globe, was on my side. The bias was clear, but back then, I thought it was a good thing.

There was still a veneer of objectivity, though, and they did often cover stories which were not advantageous to Democrats. I saw that change in the 90s and 2000s, though. I first started noticing the changes during the Clinton impeachment. It seemed to me that the press was spending an awful lot of time rationalizing and defending a man who, if he’d been a Republican, would have been run out of office on a rail covered in tar and feathers.

With my awareness thus heightened, for the next few years I noticed that veneer of objectivity wearing thinner and thinner. By 2001, it was so thin it was nearly transparent. The media’s shock – utter SHOCK – that Bush had beaten Gore was palpable.

Then 9-11 happened, and for a couple of months, the left, including the media, pretended that we were all “standing united”.  When they got bored with that, they went to work on George Bush.

Now… I’m not the biggest Bush fan. I think he made some major mistakes, but I found myself in the position of defending him because the way he was being portrayed bore fairly little resemblence to what I saw. I thought, and still think, that President Bush is a smart, decent man. Granted, he’s a politician, and no politician rises to the top office without wallowing in the mud some, but in that respect he seemed no worse than his peers.

Then came 2008. The veneer was completely gone, the mask was off, and the media was flat out nakedly cheerleading for Barack Obama. The halo pictures. The hagiographic articles. The fawnining over his wife, etc. etc. All the while assuring us that we were getting the real news – that the bias was a conservative myth.

They may think the rubes in flyover country are stupid, but they’re not. They could see as well as anyone else that there was a huge disconnect in the way things were being reported in the media, and the way things were when they engaged with the world. They could see the way the media’s interest in war casualties evaporated the minute Obama took office. They could see the way that the media’s complaints about Bush and the “unitary executive” did a complete 180 and how they praised Obama for his “unprecidented” creativity in getting around Congress and the courts. They could see the way the economic numbers were cooked and spun.

And so they elected Donald Trump.

What does the media do at this point? Faced with their own utter failure to see what was coming, did they start wondering if maybe they had made a mistake in being such shameless partisans? Ha! They blamed everyone and everything except themselves.

I don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot like narcissism to me.

And now we’re at the point where people are saying that the President’s criticism of the media is a Threat to the Republic. Confronted with their own failures, they’ve fallen back to a grandiose idea of their own importance, even as they publish every half baked rumor and even just straight-up make shit up.

It’s kind of amazing, actually. They have an uncanny resilience to the evidence that’s right in front of their faces.

This will be their downfall in the end. They will be replaced by leaner, faster, and, critically, more accurate sources of information. It’ll be slow, I’m sure, and noisy, but it’s already happening, and there’s nothing that can stop it. Their resilience is only in their self image. Not in their capacity for survival. Frankly, it’s a joy to watch.

 

The Memo I’d Like to See

Date: 1 Feb 2017

To: All Department of Justice Officials and Employees

From: XXXXXXX, Attorney General of the United States

Re: Going Forward

Dear Colleagues,

Beginning immediately, the Attorney General will be conducting a full audit of the Department. We will be reviewing each and every case file, and conducting interviews with each of you. You will notice that your workstations have been removed from your desks. Special appointees have removed them in advance of this audit. They will be returned as soon as we’ve archived the data on them.

We have also archived all the data on all DoJ-cell phones, smartphones and other communication devices. You may continue to use these devices, but you may find that some functions are not available. Your IT staff will have more information about this.

In the meantime, we have provided you with a tablet containing your active case files. Active cases have already been archived, and any work done on these tablets will be logged.

I understand that this is an inconvenience, however, I have every faith that you will be able to persevere through it.

Please see your supervisor to schedule a date and time for your interview. You will be asked questions in detail about active and closed cases, so please be prepared to discuss them and share the rationales for any decisions made.

I appreciate that this will be difficult and stressful, and I appreciate your understanding and cooperation. If it’s any consolation, it’s nothing compared to what your colleagues at the IRS are going through.

God Bless the United States of America.

Signed,

XXXXXXXXX

Attorney General of the United States

 

I was wrong.

I really thought Hillary had this in the bag. After the Bill-Loretta Lynch tarmac summit and Comey’s subsequent refusal to recommend charges, I though Hillary had crossed the Rubicon. I thought that she had a green light to apply whatever fraud she needed to in order to win. I thought it signaled the death of the rule of law, and of the Republic.

I am absolutely stunned by what’s happened. I’m no fan of Trump, mind you. I voted for Johnson, myself. But I am less horrified by a Trump presidency, if only because he’s going to have an adversarial media, and won’t be able to get away with as much as Hillary would have.

I don’t expect him to keep many, if any, of his campaign promises. That’s nothing personal. I don’t typically expect that from any politician. If nothing else, I hope he can put some decent people on the Supreme Court, but my hopes on that are not terribly high.

Still, I’m pretty happy that I was wrong. Now, having been wrong, let me make a couple of predictions. During the next four years, Democrats will:

  • Rediscover a respect for the rule of law (that already happened in Hillary’s concession speech and Obama’s speech today.)
  • Rediscover a respect for the separation of powers. Executive orders will suddenly be out of bounds.
  • Rediscover a liking for limited Presidential powers.
  • Rediscover a liking for Congressional investigations, independent councils, and the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Suddenly remember that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

The media will:

  • Rediscover the homeless.
  • Rediscover the labor force participation rate, and with it, a skepticism for official unemployment numbers.
  • Rediscover a self-conception that involves being a check on power.

Millennials and hard-leftists will:

  • Completely fail to recognize that calling half the country irredeemable racists and bigots might not be a winning strategy.

I think those are pretty safe predictions, and probably a bit obvious, but I just wanted to get it on record.

The Influence of Anxiety

Things are not going well for me at the moment. A contract recently ended, and I don’t have any immediate job prospects. I’m doing a temp job that pays about half of what I need to live on. I took it so that I could go broke slower than I would have otherwise, while still looking for a job. On top of that, I had an unexpected expense that ate into my cusion significantly. The prospect of having to give up my apartment is quite real.

But I didn’t start this post to whine about that. That’s just the background. But because of my situation, I’ve been very anxious lately. I’ve had several panic attacks or near panic attacks in the past few days, despite being on medication. I’m walking around with a constant body buzz, as if I’ve had too much caffeine.

I have an explosive temper. I could attribute it to being Italian, or to having learned it from my father, but whatever the reason, when I get angry, I find it very hard to control myself. I yell. I throw things. I do NOT act out violently towards people, but god almighty, I sure do want to sometimes. Most of the time it’s not a problem. While I may have been cursed with the temper, I’ve also been blessed with a long fuse and a good deal of circumspection.

But lately, not so much. I got my friends kicked out of a bar/restaurant last night. I’ll spare you the hairy details, but it’s a place we’ve been going about once a month to play trivia for about three years. It’s because I was unable to moderate my tone when speaking to someone. I’ve been told I can be intimidating. I don’t quite understand it. Like I said, I’m not a violent person. As far as I know, I’m a teddy bear. But that’s what people tell me, and I guess I should probably believe them.

This is an effect of the anxiety. My fuse is considerably shortened. My anger and frustration are very close to the surface. I feel like an asshole, and I don’t like being an asshole. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to deploy an asshole persona if I feel I’m being mistreated and I think it’s the only way I’m going to get what I want. I just don’t like the kind of assholery that I can’t control.

I don’t really have a point to this. I just need to vent. The job market is brutal right now. Don’t believe the unemployment numbers you see on TV. I have a degree in economics. I know how those numbers are cooked.

All I know is, right now is bad time to fuck with me.

 

What I’d Say If I Were Trump

A lot’s been said about the upcoming debate. It’s out there so I won’t bother recapping it. If Hillary holds to her campaign message, it’s going to be that Trump is “unfit and dangerous.”

Here’s what Trump could say to counter that:

“Secretary Clinton wants you to believe that I’m unfit and dangerous. This is a woman who, while Secretary of State was asleep at the switch when a US Ambassador was murdered. This is a woman who set up a private, insecure email server in violation of not just the law, but any reasonable semblance of prudence. And if we buy even her most benign rationale, for her own personal convenience. This is a woman who lied repeatedly about the contents of that server. This is a woman who, when that server was under subpoena had it destroyed. This is a woman who accuses me of hating women when she is on record calling her husbands lovers ‘bimbos’ and making jokes about dragging dollar bills through trailer parks. This is a woman who defended a rapist and laughed about it. And I’m not just talking about her husband. This is a woman who orchestrated an immense pay-for-play scheme involving the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. This is a woman who asked about American lives lost overseas, ‘What difference does it make?’

“I happen to think it makes a big difference. I happen to think that our government should protect its emissaries overseas. I also happen to think that those of you who put in the work that keeps this country the economic powerhouse that it is, deserve to have the Federal Government behind you, not finding ways to get around your rights.

“Since I began this campaign people have asked me why I want to be President. Is it ego? Am I just bored? No. The answer is, I want to be President because I want to put the Federal Government behind the people of this country. And when I say ‘people’ I mean citizens, both native born and naturalized, and legal residents of this country. If a government doesn’t back its own citizens, what good is it? Under a Trump administration, the government works for you. Under a Clinton administration, the government works for the Clintons, and you only matter in so far as you can enable that. Once Mrs. Clinton doesn’t need you anymore, do you really think she’ll be working for you?

“Is this woman fit to be President? Is it safe to give her the levers of power?

“I know that my personality can be hard for some people to take. Heck, sometimes even I get sick of me. But I promise you this: whatever else I may be – bombastic, abrasive…. whatever – I am an American first, and my priorities as President will be America’s priorities. Not my own – I don’t need that – and not even necessarily the Republican Party’s.  America’s. Yours.

“And by the way, everything I’ve said here is documented on my website with links to original sources. Thank you, and God bless America and her people.”