When Bad Ideas Grab The Culture By The Throat: San Francisco Gives A Demonstration

In my one lucky private audience with genius and futurist Herman Kahn, he mused about how societies periodically forget important lessons of conduct that had been that absorbed by the culture over decades or even centuries. The result, he said, can be disastrous, even fatal to a civilization.

At the time he was talking about the Sixties-sparked cultural amnesia about the reasons sexual promiscuity and having children out of marriage were societal poison–forgetting THAT has worked out well, don’t you think?  Yet I have thought about Kahn’s observation a lot lately, as for the second time in my life the nation I live in appears to be suffering from a cultural nervous breakdown.

As toxic as it is, the embrace of historical airbrushing is far from the most dangerous of the  examples of this phenomenon that threaten the U.S. today, but it is one of the flagrant. Not for the first time, San Francisco is giving us a vivid demonstration of what happens when, as Herman put it, “whole cultures go stupid.” If the right lesson are learned  before it is too late, maybe the ultimate effects will be positive.

I am not optimistic.  After all, San Francisco’s peculiar version of social justice has led to a city culture that regards human feces on sidewalks and public places as acceptable. Continue reading

New Orleans’ Historical Air-Brushing Orgy

New Orleans is in the midst of completing a plan to remove four Confederate monuments from public spaces in the city. In April, city workers removed a monument to a Reconstruction-era insurrection, and last week, they dismantled a statue of Jefferson Davis. Statues of the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard will be coming down soon.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu exploited the murder of nine black churchgoers  in Charleston, South Carolina to push for historical censoring, a long-time goal of civil rights groups and progressives.  Now the city says it is weighing a new location for  the monuments so they could be “placed in their proper historical context from a dark period of American history.” The favored new location is rumored to be Hell.

There are protests, of course, and most objections are coming from the perfect advocates from perspective of the historical amnesia fans: Confederacy fans, “Lost Cause” adherents, white supremacists, and other deplorables.  Seldom has George Orwell’s quote been more relevant:

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

I’ve written so much about the efforts from the left to purge America of any memory of or honor to historical figures who do not meet its 2o17 lock-step mandate for politically correct views and statements that I hesitate to repeat myself. You can review the record here.

Still, some things bear repeating. The last time I wrote about this issue was in February, when Yale capitulated to student thought-control advocates and eliminated the name of John C. Calhoun from a residential hall.  For it isn’t just leaders of the Confederacy who are targets of this cultural self-cannibalism: it is all past leaders who were proven wrong in some respects by subsequent wisdom, experience and events, including American icons like Jefferson and Jackson.  That last post listed the rationalizations  employed by the statue-topplers and the spineless officials who capitulate to their purges , including

 The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times” 

The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.” 

The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do.”

Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”

The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

The Futility Illusion:  “If we don’t do it, somebody else will.”

The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”

The Coercion Myth: “We have no choice!”

The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”

The Unethical Precedent, or “It’s not the first time”

The Abuser’s License:  “It’s Complicated”

 The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares.”

When you can throw up twelve rationalizations, that’s more than enough to convince the average, ethically-deficient citizen, not to mention social justice warriors.

That  post concluded,

A friend, lawyer, and Democrat had chided me on Facebook for suggesting that the frenzy to make America a safe place for anyone troubled by the opinions and actions of American patriots of the past could reach as far as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and accused me of engaging in wild hyperbole. Soon thereafter, the Connecticut Democratic Party purged the names and images of Presidents Jackson and Jefferson from its annual dinner, in order to kowtow to progressive activists. In November of last year, hundreds of University of Virginia students and faculty members demanded that President Teresa Sullivan stop quoting Thomas Jefferson, because doing so “undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”…I believe it is fair to say that I was right to be alarmed, and my friend was wrong. (I’m still going to let the statue of him in my backyard stay there, though.)

The cultural ethics alarms are sounding, as the toxic combination of the ignorant, the cultural bullies and the cowardly brings the United States closer to an Orwellian society where the past is remade to suit the perceived needs of the present.  Yale’s treatment of Calhoun redoubles my conviction that I expressed last year more than once. We have to honor what deserved and deserves to be honored. If we do not, history becomes political propaganda, useful only to support current political agendas. A nation that does not  honor and respect its history has no history.

And a nation that has no history is lost.

The New York Times published separate interviews with a leading critic and a prominent supporter of the historical airbrushing in New Orleans. Continue reading

If You Know Anything About Ethics, You Don’t Even Ask These Questions, Because You Know The Answers Already

virtual reality

Darrell West, a Brookings scholar, believe it or not, queries, “What happens when virtual reality crosses into unethical territory?” It is the topic of his essay, but the question is self-answering. Virtual reality is, by definition, not real. Ethics is about determining right and wrong in reality, in interaction with real people, real consequences and real dilemmas in the real world.

West doesn’t seem to grasp that, and neither, according to him, does the playwright of a work being presented in my metaphorical back yard: Jennifer Haley, who authored “The Nether” playing at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D.C. West tells us that Haley

“…explores the troubling questions that arise when the main character known as Papa uses advanced software to create a fantasy environment where adult clients molest young children and then kill them….  Should there be limits on human fantasies involving heinous thoughts? Do fantasies that remain in the private realm of someone’s brain warrant any rules or regulations by society as a whole?  Even if the bad behavior rests solely in one individual’s private thoughts, does that thinking pose a danger to other people? For example, there is some evidence that repeated exposure to pornography is associated with harmful conduct towards women and that it legitimizes violent attitudes and behaviors. Does that evidence mean we should worry about misogynistic or violent virtual reality experiences? Will these “games” make it more acceptable for people to engage in actual harmful behaviors?”

These are not troubling questions or even difficult questions, unless one is intrigued by the Orwellian offense of “thought crime.” Here, for the edification of West, Haley, those nascent brainwashers out there who find his ethically clueless essay thought-provoking of any thought other than: “How the hell did this guy get to be called a “scholar”?, let me provide quick and reassuring answers to West’s questions: Continue reading

On “Political Correctness,” “Micro-Aggressions” And Word-Banning…

Just words

  • First, some of the Social Justice Warriors who sometimes have valuable input (but not on this issue) here decided to attack the contention that Democrats, Progressives, and their allies comprise the only side of the political spectrum that openly favors word banning to suppress thought and speech, are “Orwellian” when they do this. They must have skipped this part of “1984”in Junior High:

How is the Dictionary getting on?’ said Winston, raising his voice to overcome the noise.

‘Slowly,’ said Syme. ‘I’m on the adjectives. It’s fascinating.’

He had brightened up immediately at the mention of Newspeak. He pushed his pannikin aside, took up his hunk of bread in one delicate hand and his cheese in the other, and leaned across the table so as to be able to speak without shouting.

‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting the language into its final shape — the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words — scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.’

I wonder if “alien” was one of those words?” Continue reading

The New York Times Goes Full Orwell

ralphie_soap

Expanding on the recent alarm sounded here about the Democratic Party and progressives increasingly resorting to the tools and values of totalitarianism in order to by-pass democracy in their quest for power, I must flag today’s editorial by the New York Times, calling for the “retirement” of the word “alien.” As in all disguised efforts to indoctrinate by making opposing views impossible to express or even think, the Times uses a set of false arguments to achieve its goal, which is apparently open borders. Why does the most preeminent newspaper in the country have such a sickening and irresponsible view? I don’t know. These are the people who determine the content of the news, however. I’m not sure which would make this screed more frightening, the fact that the editors don’t recognize the methods of totalitarianism, or the fact that they do, and are embracing them.

Here, in part, is the editorial’s argument for “retiring,” as in “banning,” the word “alien,”  with my comments in bold:

Over the years, the label has struck newcomers as a quirky aspect of moving to America. Many, understandably, have also come to regard it as a loaded, disparaging word, used by those who regard immigrants as less-than-human burdens rather than as assets.

[ Straw man. Who that was not immediately condemned far and wide has ever described immigrants as less than human in the last 50 years? The Times is engaging in deceit: this editorial isn’t about “alien,” but illegal aliens—you know, the people that Donald Trump was obviously talking about and the Left and illegal alien advocates intentionally misrepresented his comments to push their agenda. As for the term “illegal immigrants,” damn rights it’s disparaging, because they are illegal, and citizens and newspaper editors ought to regard law-breakers as “burdens rather than as assets.”]
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What’s Really Wrong About The President Refusing To Say That Islamic Extremists Are Islamic Extremists

(Other than the fact that it’s ridiculous, of course.)

war_is_peace

Not THAT again…

As far as preventing terrorist organizations from destroying civilization is concerned, the proposition being repeatedly made by Republicans that “you can’t fight something if you can’t accurately describe it” is also ridiculous. Obama can call ISIS Late For Dinner if he wants to, and still take effective steps to contain the group and others. I can’t remember ever experiencing such a long and intense debate over what something should be called, unless you count the Republican insistence that water-boarding isn’t torture after decades of the United States saying otherwise  in legal documents, treaties and places where English is spoken, That, however, was obviously deceitful wordplay to get around the law, lawyering at it’s worst. This is something else…but what is it?

Yesterday, poor Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, and was asked to explain the Administration’s weird rhetorical line in the sand repeatedly. Presumably he was prepared beforehand, yet the best he could do was probably the version he came up with on Fox News, saying on the topic:

” [T]he thing I hear from leaders in the Muslim community in this country is, “ISIL is attempting to hijack my religion. Our religion is about peace and brotherhood and ISIL is attempting to hijack that from us.” And they resent that. Most victims of ISIL are, in fact, Muslims. So it seems to me that to refer to ISIL as occupying any part of the Islamic theology is playing on a — a battlefield that they would like us to be on. I think that to call them — to call them some form of Islam gives the group more dignity than it deserves, frankly.”

Wait..what? That’s it? So this is meant to, like, hurt their feelings? Why not go whole hog, and call them “Smoosh-Face Poopy-Heads,” then, or something similar? We’re officially denying what everyone knows to be true because moderate Muslims don’t like sharing a religion with the radicals, so to be nice, were speaking Fantasy rather than English? Continue reading

Of The Good Muslim, Paris, “1984”, And The Compulsion To Deny The Truth

"Now listen carefully: those aren't Muslims. Muslims are good. If someone is bad, he isn't a Muslim. Trust me. There is nothing to fear from Muslims. But FOR GOD SAKE DON"T PUBLISH THAT CARTOON OR THEY"LL %$#&! KILL YOU!!!"

“Now listen carefully: those aren’t Muslims. Muslims are good. If someone is bad, he isn’t a Muslim. Trust me. There is nothing to fear from Muslims. But FOR GOD SAKE DON”T PUBLISH THAT CARTOON OR THEY”LL %$#&! KILL YOU!!!”

Oddly, nobody is refusing to call Lassana Bathily a Muslim, perhaps because he is one, but also because he’s a good Muslim, as most are.

He is the young clerk at a Paris Kosher grocery store who saved several people by hiding them in a walk-in freezer when a gunman began shooting up the store on Yesterday. Actually, I don’t see why his religion is relevant in the least, but that is leading most news reports front and center.

The terrorists who mounted a bloody attack on the satiric publication Charlie Hebdo, however, and who did so while spouting Islamic slogans as planned revenge on cartoonists for engaging in blasphemy against Mohammed, should not be called Muslims. Why? Because they’re not good, you see. Since they’re not good, ignorant and hateful bigots in the United States will attribute their characteristics to all Muslims, and use this as an excuse to harass discriminate and persecute them.

Howard Dean, who is the left’s answer to Sarah Palin: you interview him knowing he will say something that drives conservatives nuts, immediately clarified the rules:

“You know, this is a chronic problem. I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They’re about as Muslim as I am. I mean, they have no respect for anybody else’s life, that’s not what the Koran says. …But I do not think we should accord them any particular religious respect, because I don’t think, whatever they’re claiming their motivation is, is clearly a twisted, cultish mind.”

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