“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? Continue reading
The honor of the first Comment of the Day in 2016 goes to pennagain, previously penn, who assesses the forces turning our journalistic establishment to ethics mush. It is not a pretty scenario, but well worth thinking about. He was inspired by my article about the Washington Post dropping socialist pundit Harold Meyerson in part because he wasn’t getting enough clicks. Where it stops, nobody knows.
Twelve [delivered Washington Post daily print editions in another commenter’s apartment building] down to two is about what the trend is for paper subscriptions running out, and free internet use taking over. In the short run, probably, the metro papers will all go behind the paywall while smaller ones hold out for local advertisers, but for now there is a steady drop in print and a rise in online subscriptions, with a (temporary) small increase in access to both. All news media — newspapers, television and radio — are losing ground to the fragmentation of the internet universe as it “narrowcasts” to further and further special interests. The long run is not a pleasant prospect.
In the meantime, the born-to-the-web generation has been raised on free news, as have a majority of the current readers who lost their home-delivered (now less than 400) newspapers.
My concern is that perception of news is probably down about the same (12:2) — the smaller the screen, the poorer the perception. Internet pages are awash with advertisements up and down the sides and through the middles, flashing and flickering, sounding out automatically (this is fairly recent distraction and, I think, a true impingement on privacy), not to mention the seductive invitations between paragraphs to links that frequently cut into the text itself.
In a medium where the whole story could be presented as such on one “page,” it is cut into pieces and continued-on other screens, each of which takes more and more time to load its own load of ads. More incentive for those not desperately hooked to the story to check out one of the links or the next site down the line instead of getting all the information saved for more advertising. Click.
A grand welter of celebrities ranging from Pussy Riot and Paul Krugman to Willie Nelson and Big Bird joined comic Stephen Colbert in his farewell to Comedy Central, as he prepares to step into David Letterman’s shoes and hopes to do a Jimmy Fallon as Dave’s (overdue) replacement, rather than a Conan O’Brien. Obviously the producers and Colbert sought a ridiculously diverse group symbolizing U.S. culture and whimsy, and sent out invitations far and wide. Instead, the got an overwhelmingly liberal and progressive group that may make up half of MSNBC’s total viewership, a group that would almost all have been at home on the floor of the Democratic National Convention.
Don’t blame Colbert. It was clear that ideological animus with Colbert’s almost entirely anti-conservative schtick was no bar to the option of participation. Republicans and conservatives, however, almost unanimously decided to sulk, stay home, and boycott the party. Continue reading