Boubah Barry, a Guinean immigrant and real estate student, saw a striking pair riding on his subway into Manhattan on February 19. He snapped a photo, and posted it to his Instagram page. The post was shared by the Instagram account “subwaycreatures,” and eventually /pol/ News Network attached it to a tweet this week with the message “This is the future that liberals want” as a warning about the danger posed by progressive policies. Naturally, progressives saw nothing alarming about the scene, flooded the site with defiant endorsements of diversity, and shot the meme around the Internet with the same message: This is the future that liberals want, and so there! Then the satirists, adsurdists, and apolitical got into the act—thank god—and we had this kind of thing…
and, my personal favorite, this...
1. The alt-right message of the meme is incomprehensible to the extent it isn’t ugly. What is “This is the future that liberals want” supposed to inply, in reference to that photo? Liberals want drag queens to use public transportation? Liberals want passengers who sit next to each other on subways to have nothing in common and to ignore each other? What does a radical conservative want to say by posting that meme? That we should put people like this in camps? It’s like a weird idiot test. If you say, “Friggin’ right, man–crazy libtards!”, what are you advocating, exactly?
The only rational response is, “I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, or why you think it’s significant.”
2. The progressive interpretation is only slightly better. I hate to point out the obvious, but that photo is the present, and has been for a while. I saw similar couplings when I rode the T in Boston 40 years ago. For the Left, this is mindless virtue-signaling, and as a template for a healthy society, the photo is ominous. If it showed the two diverse individuals happily chatting, that would be a cultural development to be applauded. Does anyone really think that the Muslim woman isn’t nauseated by having to sit near someone her religion would target for death? The guy in drag, meanwhile, is oblivious to the world around him thank to a preference for electronic devices over, say, life. Is that the future that liberals want? A diverse population that is completely self-absorbed and isolated, even when sitting next to each other? The liberal worship of diversity for diversity’s sake has always been bereft of a substantive rational or even an understanding of what is meant by “diversity.” Nations need strong, coherent cultures. Nations without them fail. Worshiping diversity for its own sake is like praising chaos. Inclusion? Great. Equal opportunity? Madison is applauding. Respect for all? Sure. Condemning bigotry and discrimination? Absolutely.
Claiming that a Muslim woman and a cross-dresser sitting together is any better, more desirable or more virtuous than two guys who look like Beach Boys?
3. Funny, I thought liberals were champions of women’s rights. That Muslim woman is in the process of being abused by a biased, anti-female, totalitarian religion and culture. Liberals want more such abused women in the future? As long as they sit stoically next to drag queens, that is? Why?
4. Taking pictures of strangers in public when they can be identified—yup, there’s one argument for the burka—and posting them to the web without their consent is unethical.
Don’t do that.
5. It is a sign of the culture’s canary dying in the mine that Americans are so polarized that the same meme can be widely interpreted as a condemnation and a badge of honor simultaneously.
6. The episode also bolsters the Ethics Alarms position that political memes simplify complex issues into brain-rotting idiocy that impedes productive debate. Like bumper stickers, they are short-cut arguments for those who lack the information, vocabulary and wit to make a valid argument.
Somebody tell my Facebook friends that they embarrass themselves and fall lower in my respect and estimation every time they post one.
7. The parodies, on the other hand, illustrate what’s best about America, and why the national urge to be defiant, irreverent, ironic and eccentric can be our salvation.
51 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On That “This Is The Future That Liberals Want” Meme”
Another parody I like… https://twitter.com/LawyerRogelio/status/815269639416676352
It’s funny, but untrue.
Half and half, I’d think. https://twitter.com/LawyerRogelio/status/837670313601208321
Did it escape your notice the message that the guy was making with the meme was a boycott of Trump voters as clients “until their attitude changes.”
This reads to anyone with a brain as “until they think like me.” Jack points out above:
Further than that, they are a way of using humor unethically to take cheap shots at political opponents. This one you linked is a perfect example of that.
Hopefully you weren’t endorsing the message the poster of the meme was sending, and you get the benefit of the doubt from me since you didn’t explicitly say you were.
Moving on to memes in general, and not just political ones — they may sometimes be funny, but they encourage us to react emotionally and ignore critical examination of the issue they intend to comment on. I laugh at memes as often as anyone else, but they tend to become a de-facto standard of debate very quickly, and that is bad, period.
What we should do is offer the meme, then invite the reader to think about it critically after they’ve had their laugh. Humor is wonderful and important, but when we allow the effects of humor to reduce reasoned debate of important issues to an unwanted intrusion, which is often what memes are designed to do, they cease to be funny and become obstructions to real conversation. They tend to be a foreclosure device, estopping actual debate by virtue of the “Can’t you laugh at anything?” reproof.
How many Trump voters would want to engage the asshole who’s timeline you linked in any kind of rational debate? Zero, because this guy’s already made up his mind about all of them, regardless of their motivation for voting for Trump. How many would be persuaded to “change their attitude?” Zero. In fact, most would double down and respond in kind.
That’s not only what he’s inviting, it’s what he apparently desires. This isn’t an attempt at persuasion, it’s straightforward “othering” and virtue-signalling, which is usually what political memes are designed and intended to provoke — not rational discussion or debate. Analysis: Unethical.
So when you find that meme funny, ask yourself, “How would I feel if it were directed at me?” Even if you still found it funny, you’d also find it offensive, since it caricatures all Trump voters as racist, homophobic, etc. I guarantee that isn’t true, even though I can’t speak as a Trump voter myself. So would you be okay with being caricatured like that?
Yes, I noticed, Glenn. Thanks for asking.
I don’t believe one can “unethically” use humor.
Oh, by golly yes, I endorse the message. I have previously stated I will do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO SEE TRUMP AND FRIENDS GONE. I may be an ethics violator of the highest grade but, in this case, the ends do indeed justify the means.
The ends never, ever justify the means. Ever. You are an ethics scofflaw if this is your position, no matter how earnestly held.
The ends didn’t justify the means when the Bush Administration used torture in the name of national security, and they don’t justify the means to harm Trump no matter how much you loathe him.
I respectfully disagree, Glenn. I admit to being an ethics scofflaw on this matter. Should Trump and associates not be removed from power, whether by a coup of some kind (political or military), impeachment, or some other means, I foresee too much misery in this world should Trump continue in power, more misery than was ever attributed to Obama or George Bush, both of whom I continue to loathe (for very different reasons). Fact is, I foresee the ultimate catastrophe, and you know what that is, don’t you?
Therefore, in this particular case, the ends do justify the means.
The particular case being irrational hysteria and fear based on confirmation, bias, misinformation, ideological inflexibility and propaganda? I don’t think so. The point to democracy is to trust the people, the system, and the culture to blunder along, within the system, to the best, or at least a good, result. Nothing in our history, including Trump’s election, has disproven that theory.
Always a first time, yes?
I was interested in this comment that you made and devoted some time to think about it. I have to admit I was puzzled by it and not a little alarmed. Because what you have said here is that you are not opposed to a Coup d’Etat and some sort of military intervention. I imagine that you are not quite serious. But we need to back up a bit.
As I began to think about what you wrote, I began to ask myself what information there was available on ‘The Deep State’, a term for a hidden or somewhat obscured power structure imbedded within the establishment of a given government. I had never heard to the term until I read it in the NYTs. A ‘deep state’ government is a bureaucratic and systemic governmental structure that operates distinctly from the ‘overt’ form of government. There is a good video of a journalist Bill Moyers who interviews a man who wrote a book about the Washington ‘deep state’. That man’s name is Mike Lofgren. He writes in an essay quickly accessible by Google:
“There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.”
Now, everyone to one degree or another, from one political angle or the other, has this knowledge, or a paranoid sense, that underneath the visible form of government there is the real governing structure. That is, where the decisions about many things are really made. According to this analysis then the ruling structure are indeed corporate and military. The Left certainly knows all this. The Right — but what does the Right have to say about this? Is the Right comfortable and accepting that there is a power-block that is not answerable to visible and accountable governmental forms?
What I find very stange, but also interesting, is that we exist under the assumption that we live in ‘The Land of the Free’ and that the people who came before us, and people now too of course, have ‘fought for our freedoms’ against the greatest evil imaginable, the Germans in Central Europe, and yet here and now in Our Present — and I suggest everyone knows this — we live in the established and constructed structure of a National Security State and ‘unaccountable power’ that is Ultra-Fascist and 100% antithetic to the values and the vision of democracy. In other words, we live within the structure of a sham, a scam, an interconnected series of lies, distortions and manipulation.
Now, is what I just said True or is it False? I want an answer. I want responsible, intelligent, ethical and educated persons to provide a clear and direct answer to this question. I want them to write about how it happens, and what happens, in a polity when ungovernable constellations of economic interests ‘engineer’ a present in which people are taught and forced (coerced) to believe a newtworrk of lies and distortions which, when they believe these things, because they are manipualed to do so, they end up with a destroyed capacity to think. There is a network of interests that all combine together to mystify, confuse, muddle and derange how a person organizes their thoughts in regard to this. And all these systems conspire to keep people in a confused state,
Now, if this is so, it leads to a few questions. People voted for Obama because they were suckered by PR campaigns of the most malicious and cynical sorts, to desire this abstract thing called ‘Hope’. But in fact, and unless I am wrong, Obama seems only to have served the established Deep State. We still have not defined the ‘deep state’ but we can say that it is a combination of power-systems: industry and corporate power, operating globally now and trans-governmentally, i.e. Internationally; a public relations machinery, a legal establishment, financial groups, and the most sophisticated public relations and also *propaganda* organizations commonly called ‘the media’.
This is ‘America’. This is what we have become. Instead of referring to some romantic fantasy with fifes and drums and Revolutionary uniforms, and democratic forms, and Mr Whats-his-name-goes-to-Washington, and the waving red white and blue … what we need to become aware of is essentially a fascistic-style corporate-government-information-public relations machinery that has real power, real influence, and molds culture and also the ideas that circulate. I mean ‘the limits of acceptable thought’.
Now, who or what is Donald Trump? Why is it that (as I have been told by some people in the material I read) this ‘deep state’ is so completely alarmed by this man? What is going on in ‘the Halls of Power’ right now? Does he really represent a democratic and popular will that if it goes forward will challenge hidden power by means of accountable power? Is he disturbing the netweord of (obviously!) anti-democratic interests who have power all sowed up, all under their control, a delicate system of apparent and invisible power which can do what the heck it likes, when it likes?
These are the answers that I want and I do not want them from a communist, Marxist, lunatic fringe, I want to hear them from conservative writers and thinkers, those who really are defending American prnciples of government in the original sense.
Now, you say that you wish for a coup. By whom? Well, what would carry out that coup would be exactly the Security State. A paramilitary power-structure with a private army, tied to the corporate and military powers, and the financial system, which in fact control the country, the ideas that are allowed to circulate, and an entire fantasy theatre which is what we see *performed* on the televisison as public spectacle.
I defy anyone to tell me that some part of what I have described here is not REALITY. And I also ask them, if they disagree, to instruct me how I must see things to see things truly.
“People voted for Obama because they were suckered by PR campaigns of the most malicious and cynical sorts, to desire this abstract thing called ‘Hope’. But in fact, and unless I am wrong, Obama seems only to have served the established Deep State.”
Exactly. I voted for Obama first term because I “hoped” he would defy the deep state. Turned out I was mistaken. Not sure of the origin of the deep state. Only that Eisenhower warned us of the militrary-industrial complex during his final address in 1961 to the American people. https://youtu.be/8y06NSBBRtY
Alizia, You’re correct… a coup would be carried out by the deep state. I believe it’s ongoing, has been ongoing for some time. When the climax comes is anyone’s guess.
My thought? I’d rather have a deep state coup than risk our country being led by the Trump gang.
(Fun fact… 1961 is the only year, past or future, that can be read upside down or right side up and be the same.)
I was only partially correct as far as past and future. Go here for your instruction regarding 1961. Very cool. http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0518/p18s04-hfes.html
I have concluded the two of you — now I see! — are agents for Russia and this ‘1961’ business has to do with drop-off or pick-up signal for the transmission of secret data for god-only-knows what ends.
The best I can come up with, as a respnse to a reference to a Deep State, is to see that our society(ies) and the mechanisms that dominate them are vast, complex and machine-like. They are set in motion and cannot simply be stopped in a moment’s notice.
If there is a sort of para-governmental power-structure I would suppose that it exists of necessaity. If this is true it indicates that it is really Power that functions and determines things. This is and has been of course my base-perspective.
If this is so, then it is in the interest of this ‘machine’ (as it were) to present an image of itself as being thus-and-such. But in fact it is not really that at all. It is something else.
The more that we come to undersdtand that, the less we see ourselves as being in genuine political relationship to the State. At that point, I think, we either 1) adopt the ‘patriotic’ act and simply srve the State and its interests, which are also our interests insofar as we are complicit, or 2) more or less drop out of relationship to the State and take up other, maybe more local, maybe more spiritual and internal, relationships.
The political machine, in this sense, drives well-meaning and conscious persons out of it and invites in corrupt, two-faced and lying persons who serve in duplicity. If you are not duplicitious, you cannot be there.
‘Good men’ therefor take up other pursuits.
Numerology perhaps? 😉
I’m thinking we got bad mojo all around. https://youtu.be/Ia02SBrGkdw
The ends never justify the means, however the means will often corrupt the ends.
What does this even mean?
If the means are already corrupt though the end is “virtuous”, that’s precisely why we say the ends never justify the means.
If the means aren’t corrupt, then the ends justify themselves if they are “virtuous” or they undermine themselves if they aren’t.
I think the meaning is quite simple. Corrupt means will all was lead to corrupt ends. In other words the means all was have an influence on the ends. .
I think the conjunction “however” throughe off. Had you said “because”, I think the meaning would be plainly clear. It seems like you were setting off a contrast between the terms when the terms are actually mutually supporting.
I think “because” makes the meaning clear. Thanks/
Jack – Were I a conservative, the meme would mean liberals and progressives see a future where veiled Muslim women and drag queens are everywhere, completely accepted, without question. At its very simplest, that is probably a better take on the alt-right view since memes are not supposed to require a lot of thought.
As a moderate liberal, I’d say that’s about right.
And, of course, those veiled Muslim women and drag queens = BAD for the country and society.
Memes obliterate thought.
Worse, they are designed **specifically to inhibit thought**, and discourage those inclined to comment with critical reasoning. See my comment above.
“Memes are an avenue toward catharsis.”
So is hitting yourself in the mouth with a hammer. Still stupid and misleading
So are bowel movements.
(Sorry; couldn’t resist).
Technical correction, she’s wearing a niqab not a burka, burkas cover the eyes,
And a thought. Short skirt weren’t designed for lavaballing, one really needs to choose bettween the short skirt and sitting with legs spread. (sitting with legs spread on crowded public transit is a jerk-assed move.)
They are all burkas to me.
Jack, tell me how you really feel.
I other words, on a scale of 0 to 1000, with Susan B Anthony rated somewhere around 995, a niqab gets 6 points and a burka gets 5…
Isn’t that posture referred to as “manspreading?”
Off point, don’t you think? Think!
Not a great reply, but my favorite sSubway joke: A priest takes the only seat available and finds himself sitting next to a dirty, smelly apparently homeless person. After the priest cannot stand it any longer, he posits to the smelly guy: “Cleaniness is next to Godliness. – William Shakespear.” The homeless guys’ perfect response was: “Fuck you. -Tennessee Williams.”
Hetergeneity is highly overrated — especially in today’s ugly world. This is today, not tomorrow, and not some utopian goal. Learn your history; know your culture. This is totally ridiculous.
I was nodding along until this:
Does anyone really think that the Muslim woman isn’t nauseated by having to sit near someone her religion would target for death?
I think it’s likely that, given the woman’s extremely conservative dress, that she is a religious fundamentalist and therefore your conclusion about her being “nauseous” is correct. But I can’t say for certain. I wonder if the same conclusion would be drawn if the woman next to the drag queen were dressed like a Christian fundamentalist–long denim skirt, long pulled back hair, etc. of course then we might be able to see more expression which would also help us.
And of course the clause “her religion would target for death” overshoots the mark and is far too broad. Some in her religion would target this woman for death. Too many, in fact, and too many in power in countries with Muslim majorities. But unless the picture was snapped moments before this woman attacked the drag queen, I don’t think it’s fair to state that “her religion would target for death.” It’s too generalized a statement, and it’s an unhelpful generalization when communicating with an audience.
The guy in drag, meanwhile, is oblivious to the world around him thank to a preference for electronic devices over, say, life.
This also seems like an assumption based only on this still moment in time. Granted, that is often how analysis of photography works. But maybe the two were chatting before the drag queen decided to look at her phone for a moment, and that’s when the pic was taken? We don’t have enough info to judge either of them as people, only as artistic subjects. And you’re right that the seeming lack of consent in being artistic subjects adds another ethical problem here, so I’m not even sure it’s fair to judge them as that.
That Muslim woman is in the process of being abused by a biased, anti-female, totalitarian religion and culture
Again, you can’t know that. A nikab in and of itself is not evidence of abuse.
Some in her religion would target this woman for death
I should have said “person” here–I’m not sure how they identify, but they look like a drag queen to me, and they often still identify with male pronouns.
Isn’t this a major problem? “Some in her [prehistoric] religion would target this woman for death.” If American Muslims cannot deal with the incredible variety of human experience and behavior in the United States, then they just shouldn’t come here. Muslim parents killing their children for non-Muslim behavior; a general call to murder of all non-Muslins because they do not adhere to the true teaching of Muhammed? Who needs it? We have enough problems here: what we don’t need is a constant “harp” that most Muslims are peace-loving, despite all their sacred teaching to the contrary.
An ugly thought. But there it is; As soon as the “majority Muslins” speak as one voice against jihad and their treatment of their women, perhaps I’ll listen.
Isn’t this a major problem? “Some in her [prehistoric] religion would target this woman for death.”
Of course it’s a problem. How is making unwarranted accusations about seemingly innocent people a solution?
If American Muslims cannot deal with the incredible variety of human experience and behavior in the United States, then they just shouldn’t come here.
It seems to me this woman is dealing with it just fine. What is your evidence that the majority of American Muslims can’t deal with this?
Muslim parents killing their children for non-Muslim behavior; a general call to murder of all non-Muslins because they do not adhere to the true teaching of Muhammed?
This is incredibly rare in America.
Who needs it? We have enough problems here: what we don’t need is a constant “harp” that most Muslims are peace-loving, despite all their sacred teaching to the contrary.
An ugly thought. But there it is; As soon as the “majority Muslins” speak as one voice against jihad and their treatment of their women, perhaps I’ll listen.
You have no idea what the majority of Muslims are saying now, and you won’t be able to know until you listen.
An Aussie friend of mine uses ‘freakshow on wheels’ to describe the ultra-weird sex-strange. So: ‘Some in her religion would target this freakshow on wheels for death’ is an expressive option. Admittedly not very politically correct….
I kind of like the pic of the two lions getting married at the football stadium. I do wonder however which caterer would bake the wedding cake.
Clearly a highly paid chef who could make a delicious antelope pie — with just enough toothpicks to make a multi-tierd extravaganza, Guess the antelope would have to be raw, however. Perfect for the lions, tho — but perhaps a secondary delicacy would be offered for, say, the hyena guests.
Elizabeth, you have missed your true calling: Celebrity chef.
It’s Simba and Nala, not Simba and Scar!
When do we get to talk about Obama’s wiretapping Trump Tower? (I don’t mean here, Jack. Just start a new topic so I can explode my face.)
Not sure how to parse that. Maybe ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang?
Anyone who bases his or her opinions on memes are scary to say the least. Seek facts, think out of the box, and make independent decisions while ignoring influence from biased memes and reports.
Probably no wiretapping going on but Obama with Valery Jarrett’s help wants to save his legacy, whatever it is. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4271412/Obama-confidante-Valerie-Jarrett-moves-Kaloroma-home.html
Jack wrote: “I hate to point out the obvious, but that photo is the present, and has been for a while. I saw similar couplings when I rode the T in Boston 40 years ago. For the Left, this is mindless virtue-signaling, and as a template for a healthy society, the photo is ominous. If it showed the two diverse individuals happily chatting, that would be a cultural development to be applauded. Does anyone really think that the Muslim woman isn’t nauseated by having to sit near someone her religion would target for death? The guy in drag, meanwhile, is oblivious to the world around him thank to a preference for electronic devices over, say, life. Is that the future that liberals want? A diverse population that is completely self-absorbed and isolated, even when sitting next to each other? The liberal worship of diversity for diversity’s sake has always been bereft of a substantive rational or even an understanding of what is meant by “diversity.” Nations need strong, coherent cultures. Nations without them fail. Worshiping diversity for its own sake is like praising chaos. Inclusion? Great. Equal opportunity? Madison is applauding. Respect for all? Sure. Condemning bigotry and discrimination? Absolutel”
What you have written here is not far from a sane and grounded Alt-Right position, just FYI. But I assume that you have a rather biased view of the Alt-Right as many do. But the AR is not one thing and not one monolithic opinion. It is, if its origin is considered, a European philosophy movement that arose alongside the French Left revolts of the 1960s. It has a reactive side, that is true, but it is not classically Right nor really of the Right Reaction set. That is where Alain de Benoit got started. There it is known as the <Nouvelle Droite, the New Right.
The Alt-Right would, of necessity, link back to the resistance movements which put up struggle against the French Radicals if its ultimate roots were to be explored, and in this sense there is a parallel today with the Extreme Left demonstrating that they will take things to extremes and feel justified in doing so and being opposed by a right and conservative faction.
The conversation that could be opened up through the study or the photograph of the Muslim woman and the ridiculous homosexual man, is really a fruitful one. What is most distressing about ‘liberals’ (a too-general word but what can one do?) is that they somehow arrive at a place where such fateful contrasts do not mean anything. Since nothing except perhaps ‘equality’ really means much to them a culture made up of hundreds or thousands of meaningless ‘shells’ is a sign of progress for them. ”Diversity’ is their strange and perverse term …
And yet, at a very real point, it certainly does make a great deal of difference if a culture allows for, and encourages, a boy or a man to parade himself around in drag, and of course it matters to have and to self-accept such a deviant life-style and set of choices. This really and truly does matter, and it will all have (and is having now) all manner of different consequences. See Camille Paglia and her ideas on sexual deviancy in decadent phases of culture.
Why he has been made to feel that there is nothing wrong with his carrying-on is, in fact, a problem that can be discussed, yet it can’t, not in a thought-controlled environment where it is called ‘hate-speech’. I mean, that case can be made. It cannot be made, of course, in a coerced, politically-correcified thought-environment by people who cannot openly say what they really thing and feel.
Similarly, a case could be made that there is no place at all, not really, nor should there be a place for whatever religious point-of-view that woman has. Not in the culture that I would wish to create. Simply put, she should not have been let in in the first place. And of course that would be a manifestation of an operative cultural value.
There should definitely be, and of course there is, a place and a nation (region) for that person and those people, and in that place they can and do build the sort of culture they want to, with all its restrictions and also the freedoms that such restrictions offer. It is not so much unlike the Judaism I grew up in in fact.
Thus, al Alt-Right and open-minded philosophical and socilogical conversation on the contrast in that photo could be had, and it would be a good conversation.
Sexual Personae is a good book. I was surprised to read it and find some common ground with a feminist.