Archive for May, 2017

on obfuscating nonsense

May 15, 2017

One of the worst things being perpetrated in this country today is the hysteria around alleged sexual danger posed to women on college campuses, under the moniker “rape culture” and directed against Western civilization and heterosexual white males.

Part of what makes it so disheartening is the way it distracts, as social justice efforts so often do, from genuine victims, such as the girl and family highlighted in this case out of Chicago.

the logical end of nonsense

May 13, 2017

So a police officer that outwardly would certainly appear to be Caucasian claims to have discovered African ancestry of 18%, and as a result has gotten harassed at work. He’s suing. Of course. The author of the linked blog post takes it as a serious suit. My first assumption was that he’s trying to make a point, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it strikes me as a Cloward-Piven approach to the nonsensical social justice overreach of the past decade. I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of this sort of thing.

on celebrity pronouncements

May 12, 2017

One of the clearest signs of degraded thinking ability in our society today is the weight given to viewpoints solely on the basis of the popularity and fame of the person who holds them. The current illustration is Jimmy Kimmel on healthcare financing. People are reduced to tears and fears that infants will be abandoned to die if the Republican Congress makes changes to Obamacare, simply on the basis that Kimmel told an emotional story about his own son’s health problems at birth, and claimed that the proposed changes in the AHCA would leave newborns like his vulnerable to not receiving care.

His few minutes of a personal anecdote unfortunately affects the thinking of Americans far more than any factual, reasoned, evidence-based discussions of the issues. The worship of celebrities and their feelings about issues makes genuine solutions far harder to achieve, as Philip Klein describes in this column, “Jimmy Kimmel is everything that’s wrong with America’s healthcare debate.

on hypocrisy

May 11, 2017

Thousands of leftists hang on every sketch John Oliver produces, waiting to repost a clip of whatever burn he’s put on his target of the week, celebrating the blow they can strike for righteous anger and promoting goodness by taking down rich, powerful oppressors. Advertisers pay his network a lot of money, which enables his network to pay him a lot of money, which he is using in exactly the way his targets do, for exactly the same purposes. I wonder if it bothers him late at night.

when feminism fails women

May 11, 2017

For whatever reason, western feminism has chosen to give Islam the privilege of being exempt from critique for its treatment of women. Women who are released from ISIS controlled areas remove their coverings emphatically; western leaders suggest western women veil themselves in solidarity with Islam.

Feminism in the West condemns much of western culture as rape culture, but passes over issues like honor killing and female genital mutilation (FGM) when occurring in Muslim societies and sub-cultures.

As is so often the case when this sort of social justice effort sets the terms of discussion, the result is great harm to individuals who might otherwise have been protected. Recently it has come out that FGM has been practiced in the United States. The physicians being arrested are from Muslim backgrounds, and their attorneys have stated they are being persecuted for religious reasons.

Yet western apologists for Islam attempt to deny any correlation. This has become the bailiwick of Reza Aslan, who has claimed FGM is related to Central African cultures, not Islam. However, as Dr. Oliver Curry has shown, there is a substantial correlation between FGM and Islam in a way that does not exist between FGM and Christianity. Addressing Aslan’s claim that FGM is a function of Central Africa rather than Islam, Dr. Curry writes what must be a phrase highly correlated with reality, “So Aslan is wrong.”


how low can they go?

May 10, 2017

Anecdotes are all the rage for proving a point (see Jimmy Kimmel on healthcare), unless they prove the opposite point the leftists want to advance, in which case they’re ridiculous. Leftists find it funny when their political opponents are being treated for cancer.

on reaping the whirlwind

May 9, 2017

I have read with some interest the travails of Dr. Rebecca Tuvel, who wrote a philosophical argument that the distinction being made between transgender identity and transracial identity (i.e., the former is widely accepted, the latter rejected) is untenable. Apparently the social media mob so familiar on Twitter and Facebook has been ferocious. All the familiar claims of violence and fear and hatred are being made against Dr. Tuvel because of her ideas.

One of her former professors, Kelly Oliver, has written an apologia for her and her essay, remarking on the hijacking of feminism. Although I am sympathetic to Dr. Tuvel’s plight, the apparent surprise at what has happened seems a bit out of place. Professor Oliver suggests calling this era of outrage-as-argument “the Trump era” since President Trump got elected, she writes, “by voicing outrage.” This seems to me to be one or two steps behind the process.

Professor Oliver observes some troubling dynamics, including the public/private split of opinion expressed. She tells of scholars who defended Dr. Tuvel in private, but were silent or sometimes even critical in public. This prompts her to write, “The question is, why did so many scholars, especially feminists, express one sentiment behind closed doors and another out in the open? Why were so many others afraid to say anything in public?”

She also makes this observation: “Part of the problem with the response to Tuvel’s article is that some seem to feel that they are the only ones who have the legitimate right to talk about certain topics. At best, this is identity politics run amok; at worst it is a turf war.”

Dr. Tuvel’s experience is quite familiar to many people in the United States who have not accepted critical orthodoxy on gender, race, economics, politics, and a host of other topics. It has been the case for several years now that dissent from critical orthodoxy on these topics is guaranteed to elicit the sort of condemnation Dr. Tuvel has experienced. An aspect of the situation is precisely what Professor Oliver has observed, that only some critically approved people can offer any view on the topic, and only the approved point of view.

This is the dynamic the Donald Trump tapped into during his campaign. What Professor Oliver sees as characteristic of society beginning sometime in 2016 has actually being going on for a couple of decades. Much of the support for Donald Trump was a reaction to this. That Professor Oliver, who holds an endowed chair in philosophy at a prestigious university, would be confronted with this dynamic close up, since it is happening to a friend and colleague, demonstrates how far along the problem is.

Professor Oliver laments, “The viciousness of the attacks was fueled by the mob mentality of Facebook. Dissenters, even those who just wanted a civil discussion of the issue, were shut down immediately or afraid to voice their opinions in public. Some who in private were sympathetic to Tuvel, felt compelled to join in the attacking mob. The thought police were in full force. . . . Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article. . . . Just this morning, I received a text from someone I respect, lamenting the cruelty on social media, but telling me she was sure she would disagree with the article and find it offensive, even though she hadn’t yet read it.”

She also asks, “If an essay written by a young feminist scholar in support of trans rights is violent and harmful, then haven’t we leveled all violence such that everything has become swept up by it, and the very notion of violence has lost its meaning?” The answer, of course, is “yes,” but this is the inevitable fruit of the course critical academia has been traveling for several decades. It’s a shame that people with the position and influence of Professor Oliver are only now seeing it, and hoping to do something about it.

on willful blindness

May 8, 2017

The rise in popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders on the left in the United States at the same time Venezuela collapses after the socialist rule of Chavez and Maduro raises the question of why abject failure in one country does not lead to learning in another. The willful blindness of the press in the United States, as helpfully illustrated in this column, goes a long way to explaining it.