Ethics Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

“When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well. If elites believe that the core truth of our society is a system of interlocking and oppressive power structures based around immutable characteristics like race or sex or sexual orientation, then sooner rather than later, this will be reflected in our culture at large.”

      —-Andrew Sullivan, in a New York Magazine essay titled “We All Live On Campus Now”.

Once again, blogger-turned-essayist Andrew Sullivan arrives at an accurate assessment of an ethics problem in society without being able to avoid his own biases in trying to assess where the problem came from, which would be extremely easy if he were capable of objectivity. I recommend the whole piece, though Sullivan is an infuriating truth-teller and iconoclast trapped inside an angry gay man who can’t muster  the integrity to directly criticize his sexual politics allies.  Incredibly, Sullivan substantially blames Donald Trump for the phenomenon he assails here, which is ahistorical in the extreme, bordering on delusion:

“Polarization has made this worse — because on the left, moderation now seems like a surrender to white nationalism, and because on the right, white identity politics has overwhelmed moderate conservatism. And Trump plays a critical role. His crude, bigoted version of identity politics seems to require an equal and opposite reaction. And I completely understand this impulse. Living in this period is to experience a daily, even hourly, psychological hazing from the bigot-in-chief. And when this white straight man revels in his torment of those unlike him — and does so with utter impunity among his supporters — there’s a huge temptation to respond in kind.”

Good God, Andrew, show some backbone. Trump, as can be documented and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, was the “response in kind” to the identity-based social justice movement that was weaponized and reached the point of madness under the leadership of Barack Obama. Why should anyone listen to you when you equivocate like this and make false excuses for what was spinning out of control before anyone thought Donald Trump had as good a chance of becoming President as Martin O’Malley? The University of Missouri meltdown that triggered an across-the-nation epidemic of identify politics warfare occurred in 2015. You know that, and you still write this fiction? What’s the matter with you?

Here’s what I wrote then,

This is a race-based power grab, inspired, I assume, by the success of Black Lives Matter in cowing white politicians and the media into support, obeisance and crippling white guilt. Why else would this be happening now? Missouri isn’t alone: there is a similar manufactured race crisis at Yale. There the provocation is vague and trivial—one incident is vague, and the other is trivial. Students claimed that a fraternity party was blocked at the door by a student saying “White girls only,” and the fraternity denies it. As with “Hands up! Don’t shoot!,” the white racism narrative is just presumed to be true. The second “outrage” was an e-mail from the associate master of Silliman College, one of Yale’s 12 undergraduate residential communities, that urged students not to take offense at  alloween costumes they might find insensitive. (The simple translation of this e-mail is “Oh, grow up.”) The Yale president has decided to take the less stressful route of grovelling to the protesters.

History tells us that this will spread around the country, not because campuses are suddenly racist, just as they are not suddenly filled with rapists. It will happen because activists will see an opportunity, because college administrators are weak and eager to avoid confrontation, and because the Obama administration has seeded divisiveness and racial distrust throughout the culture, the President’s primary and most destructive legacy.

What? That’s AMAZING!!! How did I do that? Am I brilliant? Am I psychic? Am I Nostrodamus? How could I predict the phenomenon Sullivan traces to Trump before Trump was even nominated? I could do it because this has nothing to do with Donald Trump, and everything to do with the full embrace of identity politics, tribalism and speech suppression in the culture cynically and disgracefully nourished by progressives, Democrats, and President Barack Obama.

There is also a gender-based power grab in full bloom, which Sullivan also tries to blame on Trump. That’s funny, because I wrote THIS in 2014...you know, before anyone thought of Donald Trump as anything more than a fading reality TV star, and when everyone just knew that Hillary Clinton would be the next President, Hallelujah!

The principles of American justice and Constitutional law give the benefit of the doubt to the accused. Sexual politics, in contrast, which is among the Democratic Party’s current weapons of choice, demand that the campus system favor the accusers, who are almost always female. That’s a recipe for injustice no matter how you look at it. And injustice is what we have.

The problem has been exacerbated, as predicted, by the Obama Administration Department of Education’s April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter , which requires colleges and universities that accept federal funds to utilize the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof when adjudicating sexual misconduct cases on campus, as opposed to a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. What this means, in essence, is that a student can be deprived of his education and be tarred as a sexual felon in an investigation, prosecution and judicial determination by those untrained in legal process and unconstrained by established standards of fairness.

I’m all in behind Andrew and any other member of the Left who comes to his or her senses and admits that progressive efforts to divide the nation into warring tribes tears at the fabric of democracy and national unity, but I will not tolerate this fake history that suddenly makes progressive opponents the villains. You did this, progressives. You were reckless, arrogant, and wrong. Don’t you dare…don’t you dare…try pointing the finger of blame at anyone but the mirror. If you do, that’s just one more reason to distrust your motives and your honesty, and there are more than enough reasons already.

Back to Andrew: when he isn’t shamelessly trying to pander to the biases of his own tribe, which hates Trump worse than death, he is perceptive and correct:

…And, sure enough, the whole concept of an individual who exists apart from group identity is slipping from the discourse. The idea of individual merit — as opposed to various forms of unearned “privilege” — is increasingly suspect. The Enlightenment principles that formed the bedrock of the American experiment — untrammeled free speech, due process, individual (rather than group) rights — are now routinely understood as mere masks for “white male” power, code words for the oppression of women and nonwhites. Any differences in outcome for various groups must always be a function of “hate,” rather than a function of nature or choice or freedom or individual agency. And anyone who questions these assertions is obviously a white supremacist himself…

The only reason this should be the case is if we think someone’s identity is more important than the argument they might want to make. And that campus orthodoxy is now the culture’s as a whole.

Well said, Andrew. Now tell your progressive pals to cut it the hell out, because this is 100% their doing, and you know it.

12 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

12 responses to “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

  1. JP

    Jack, you’re right but I also think you’re reading too much into it. It seems to me he is just saying that the right’s extreme push back (trump) resulted in the left’s extreme push back i.e. The resistance. I think he would agree with you. And as a moderate conservative I think he makes some excellent points about the GOP today, but they do not belong in the article. It is an unnecessary tangent that disrupts the flow.

    • I don’t detect any reference to “the resistance” at all.

    • No. I went last week to a conservative event w/ 2000 folks. Not one mention of white identity politics or power. There was talk of trying to get along, empowerment to vote/think w/ ones conscious, and caring for family. A black man was the headliner for crying out loud. Sullivan needs to go meet some of these dreaded monsters called Republicans or Trump voters or conservatives and learn they are simply doing their best like everyone else to be free and whole.

      I went to the event last week to see for myself. My brown self with my butch wife received not just toleration but a few hugs. When I went outside to talk to the dozen protesters to see if they wanted to talk to someone like me…a queer woman of color who also shares many values in common with the folks in that room, about five did. One woman (all protesters were white – protesting the NRA who didn’t even have representation there) went up to me and said “you’re just a token to them.” She didn’t even bother to listen, looked at me based on race and decided I was too much of an idiot to not be used.

      One protester dismissed my concerns over HRC by saying “you watch Fox news.” Again assumptions, as I certainly don’t. One woman confessed in my ear she too was prolife but afraid to say it to her friends there.

      Now tell me who discriminated more that day? Who showed kindness and tolerance? Who looked to unite rather than divide?

      Sullivan should remember the wise words of Public Enemy. Don’t believe the hype. And that goes for taking cheap shots at conservatives too.

      • adimagejim

        Good on you for experiencing this event. My biggest worry is the resistance left demonizes anyone who disagrees. If you disagree, anything in your life is fair game. That is a real threat to the foundation of our republic. Happy, but not surprised, to hear you were treated with appropriate dignity and respect.

        Justice requires an understanding of your impact on others, to blame Trump is unjust when it is demonstrably false both historically and anecdotally.

        As for Sullivan, he needs readers to live. What happens to his leftist credibility if he takes the last rational, logical step? If someone in his camp doesn’t step up soon, it will be too late. It might be already.

      • JP

        “Sullivan should remember the wise words of Public Enemy. Don’t believe the hype. And that goes for taking cheap shots at conservatives too.”

        You mean Sullivan is telling others to play nice while he isn’t playing nice? Jeez, its like he hasn’t heard of the golden rule or something like that.

  2. Other Bill

    Nice piece, Andrew. Would have been really beneficial if you’d written it, you know, thirty or so years ago, before the American academy was corrupted by this baloney and we now have people like Ben Rhoades making national policy. Colleges have been turned into indoctrination camps. It’s too late. And all the graduates are running and staffing the media. I’m beginning to think we shouldn’t trust anybody under fifty.

    • Other Bill

      And too bad none of the trustees or deans of faculty or other administrators will agree with you. They’re as corrupted as the faculties.

  3. Andrew Sullivan writes: “Look: I don’t doubt the good intentions of the new identity politics — to expand the opportunities for people previously excluded. I favor a politics that never discriminates against someone for immutable characteristics — and tries to make sure that as many people as possible feel they have access to our liberal democracy. But what we have now is far more than the liberal project of integrating minorities. It comes close to an attack on the liberal project itself. Marxism with a patina of liberalism on top is still Marxism — and it’s as hostile to the idea of a free society as white nationalism is. So if you wonder why our discourse is now so freighted with fear, why so many choose silence as the path of least resistance, or why the core concepts of a liberal society — the individual’s uniqueness, the primacy of reason, the protection of due process, an objective truth — are so besieged, this is one of the reasons.”

    Frank Kermode wrote an interesting book called ‘The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative’. Intended as a tool of literary criticism it is in fact a probing essay on ‘interpretation’ in a wide sense. Not only does a text require interpretation, and such interpretation requires an interpreter who is aware of his or herself as one interpreting, but the larger message of Kermode’s essay pointed me in the direction of ‘interpretation of reality’, and this to what I consider as the absolute task of intellect: an interpretation of my own existence. That is why —- irritatingly I grant —- I keep speaking of metaphysics and other difficult terms.

    We are forced to make an interpretation of our world. We will either do this roundly and carefully, or we will do it lazily and partially. I suggest that we have to begin to assemble facts and even this, or especially this, is not as easy as it seems. Having read Sullivan’s essay I think he is at least aware that now, today, in our present, people refuse to agree on even the most basic and in a sense ‘simple’ facts. The facts we choose to assemble, and the determination we show to insist that we have arrived at elemental and incontestable facts (bits of truth if you will), will then determine our worldview. Andrew Sullivan has performed this undertaking and he has done so under the banner of ‘American Liberalism’.

    But there are other facts to be brought out, and there is definitely other interpretive strategies, and other outcomes of interpretation, that are possible and I would suggest necessary. Yet to consider them will involve stepping out of a sort of cultural and intellectual bubble. Doing that, beginning to do that will also, I further suggest, involve one in intellectual pain as well as emotional pain: the disruption of a cherished understanding which is, if considered from a certain angle, an ‘imposition on the world’.

    Andrew Sullivan is living in an intellectual bubble. It is an edifice that is upheld by columns and girders and an ectoskeleton of sorts, but it is just as much built up and held up by ‘sentimentalism’. Therefor, to help dear Andrew I must help him to restructure his view of things; to dismantle some parts; and to begin to build a newer edifice of understanding.

    Andrew says that he ‘believes that ideas matter’, but I think he would fail to really live up to that noble position if it turned out that ideas successfully were brought to bear against some of his ‘cherished beliefs’ and, as well, those upon which he structures his own civic being and perhaps his being in many other domains. At that point I speculate that ‘ideas’ might well become too dangerous to be considered.

    He writes:

    “When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based ‘social justice’ movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well’.

    I think the poor fellow has got it significantly backwards! The broader culture is now a sort of ‘created beast’ which has been molded through an insidious project of undermining the possibility that a reasoning, upstanding, solidly-platformed individual exist, and the entire structure of the culture has participated in this, and indeed desires it and needs it. And this has come about because of corruption and the masking of truth, that is, of presenting lies and deceptions as truths and establishing false-view through PR and propaganda. Thus, in order to ‘interpret’ the present there is required an interpreter and what is happening in our present is, in essence, a battle over the act of interpretation. .

    And this is where I must begin a somewhat complex interpretation-project starting with the very terms and the Weltanschauung>/i> of Andrew himself and the ‘culture’ that has brought him forward. Richard Weaver wrote his famous and somewhat difficult book ‘Ideas Have Consequences’ and it really does seem to be true: ideas have consequences. And to analyze the present, this present, our present, and ourselves in this present, is a difficult and demanding philosophical, religious and existential project.

    What I do find interesting in his essay is that it clearly indicates that he is and that some intellectuals are beginning to consider, even if dimly and partially, what will be the necessary steps to counter-attack the cultural marxist forces. At least he sees that, sort of. But he sort of imagines that these poor children will make it to some American Liberal Help-Station and get a little remedial cup of ‘the tenets of the American Civil Religion’ and, lo and behold! be cured.

    No, that is not going to happen. Because this is a serious infection and the infection itself is serious about what it is doing and why it does it. The infection will continue as there is no substantial idea-set that can or will successfully confront it.

  4. Please fix for me the third paragraph from the bottom, only four words in italics:

    And this is where I must begin a somewhat complex interpretation-project starting with the very terms and the Weltanschauung of Andrew himself and the ‘culture’ that has brought him forward. Richard Weaver wrote his famous and somewhat difficult book ‘Ideas Have Consequences’ and it really does seem to be true: ideas have consequences. And to analyze the present, this present, our present, and ourselves in this present, is a difficult and demanding philosophical, religious and existential project.

  5. The longer progressives keep this infantile wailing up, the worse they lose the midterms.

    The fact that they believe their own propaganda will make it worse, just as it did when the polls were so wrong about Trump. They are waking the sleeping masses with this tripe, who begin to see that this could get personal real quick, regardless of who they are or who they know.

    The left deploys the politics of personal destruction on their opponents. Middle class America detests this, but have not paid attention until recently. They are paying attention now, and in ever greater numbers. Media is distrusted where the votes count, as is Hollywood and Academia.

    Now we know that the left has rigged the game for progressives from the top down. Two tiers of justice are apparent in the unaddressed criminal conduct of leftist high ups who flout the law without consequences. Hillary, Comey, Struck, and many others broke the law, and no hint of jail time or even censure from the swamp. This will not go unnoticed by middle America, who understand that progressives wanted to jail them for draining a ditch on their own property.

    The alt-right is waiting in the wings, learning how the game is played. If we the People do not prevent it, progressives are going to reap the whirlwind they have sown.

    The game will be played by progressive Alinsky methods on both sides, and no matter who wins, America loses.

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