Archives for category: manners

The Moon at Apogee and Perigee

I began my interest in politics with a fascination with anarchism. It was how I reacted to the discontent and horrors of the Sixties and Seventies.

This early study put me in an ideal historical context to assess all forms of radical activism. How? Because the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries may have been the least effective proselytizers of a cause in our time. They completely undermined their own dreams and ideals by engaging in “propaganda by the deed.”

Most such deeds — shootings, sabotage, bombings — amounted to anti-propaganda.

But earnestly done nevertheless.

Which brings us to the spectacle of radicals jumping off, willingly, their alleged high moral ground with stupid, indeed, utterly foolish actions (and writings) . . . allegedly for their cause.

Can I Punch Nazis?

So here we are, witnessing the lunatic Left immediately following apogee. That’s fine with me, but I guess I would prefer it if, somehow, these lunatics would break orbit and wander away from the home world.

In any case, to witness a whole movement in self-destructive behavior — committed to self-destructive behavior — is breathtaking. And it does suggest that radicalism tends to be dominated by (if not reserved for) the unhinged.

And the problem appears to be there with both Early and Late Adopters of a radical position.

twv

N.B. The photos of the Moon, above, show the sizes of the Earth’s smaller double at apogee and perigee.

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Dr Seuss WWII cartoon

Racism is and always will be a problem.

But it is not a simple problem. Some people who fight against racism are so fixated on race that they become racist through the back door. Anti-racism sees itself as the Id of the atavistic ism, but, nevertheless, Racism transforms into the Shadow of anti-racism.

Every day, it seems, I can find in my Facebook feed some outrageous bit of racist anti-racism from my friends or my friends’ friends and spouses. I have to bite my tongue, stay my typing hands. But there is more than enough of the racist anti-racism (and anti-racist anti-racism) in the major media that I can focus on the controversies there, rather than confront the absurdities among people I must get along with, but who would, were I to speak my mind, be offended at my analysis of their opinions.

First, courtesy of Townhall, the sad spectacle of “College Professor: Believing in Hard Work is White Ideology.”

Now, I know a lot of folks of darker hue (the “p.o.c.” as some say — a designation I find absurd) who work harder than me, and hold to the doctrine of hard work more resolutely than I do. And I am very white.* Not only does my most recent photo show it (see below), but 23 and Me testifies with DNA analysis. Further, based on the work and leisure habits of the white people in my valley (retirees, unemployed, barely employed, self-employed), I would say that the evidence of the “white ideology” at play in “white lives” is a little weak.

So, on an observational basis, the charge of “white ideology” seems an unjustified stereotype. We whiteys should object! Oh, we white people have so much to complain about, including the imputation of an ethic that we honor, today, mostly in the breach.

But, back to the Townhall column: “Pennsylvania State University-Brandywine professor Angela Putman recently asserted in an academic paper that the notion ‘if I work hard, I can be successful’ is merely a product of white ideology,” Timothy Mead informs us.

Angela Putman conducted a study to critique and examine “ideologies within college students’ discourse that are foundational to whiteness.” Her resulting conclusion published on Thursday was that “meritocracy”, or the belief that people should rise based on the fruits of their own labor, is a “white ideology.” In her mind, this “white ideology” is unfortunately widely accepted in academia.

But, Professor Putman argues that professors can change this “ideology” by teaching students “how racism and whiteness function in various contexts, the powerful influence of systems and institutions, and the pervasiveness of whiteness ideologies within the United States.”

Putman believes that it is somehow a bad thing to teach students personal responsibility. Emphasizing a collectivist mindset, Putman puts forth the idea that Americans are falsely “socialized to believe that we got to where we are . . . because of our own individual efforts.”

This “ideology” she says, perpetuates whiteness and racism throughout society. Once students learn more about “white ideology,” they will hopefully “resist perpetuating and reifying whiteness through their own discourse and interactions,” and challenge systemic “manifestations of racism and whiteness.”

This farrago of ill-thought-out concepts and arguments is a hornet’s nest of contradictions, of course. It might be important to show just how the author engages in a sort of performative contradiction, how she undermines her own thesis.

I will not provide the necessary vivisection, but will readily advance this thesis: the truth is probably more complicated than either the ideology she targets or the ideology she pushes. No one succeeds just by “hard work.” For one thing, it is not the difficulty that makes work valuable, and thus worthy of recompense. The difficulty of making arm-pit hair sculptures is no doubt tedious, but no one (I hope) wants such art any more than they want smegma-based cuisine.

But there is a point to pushing a “hard work” ethic: it encourages people to not give up, and thus makes them more likely to succeed.

And perhaps this ethic was one reason why prosperity emerged so impressively in the West, and not elsewhere.

By attacking the ethic as racist, the professor hobbles her students. And encourages laziness, entitlement, thievery. All bad things.

I wonder if the professor would dismiss my value judgment as itself racist.

Which would lead to further judgment by me. Of a very negative sort.

AngelaPutnamAlso, notice that this woman is white. Her thesis could be interpreted as an expression not merely of white guilt, but of that most dreaded of all things, “white supremacist.”

She does not believe that whites should be successful. But she does believe that whites are successful because of their characteristically “white” ideology and its most obvious consequence: hard work. She obviously believes that p.o.c. are not capable of taking to the ideology, and thus not really very capable. She has a very race-centric view of human potential. She is not a culturalist, though she no doubt pretends to be against biological determinism. But by identifying an ideology that has (obviously) led to success (or at least aided in the process) as attached to a race she accepts the notion (hardly believable, if you ask me) that the value system is not contingent to biological humanity but an efflorescence of one sub-group, she unwittingly demonstrates that she thinks whites are better than p.o.c. and that the only way to make for racial equality is to sabotage a natural advantage of white people.

I have to say, I am astounded at how racist this is.

But racism is something we have come to expect of the intersectionalist left. Did you know that Dr. Seuss was racist? Well, that has been argued, too:

Now, this is a “demented” charge, says Tucker Carlson. But as the Democrat he interviewed asserts, Seuss did draw some pretty strange and crude anti-Japanese stuff during World War II, and they are “stereotypical.” Note how Tucker responds: during wartime one should expect that kind of thing. His foil insists, strongly, no.

Now, I have seen at least one Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel World War II toon. I am not aware of any black people caricatures, but I have seen some Warner Brothers cartoons from the period that are pretty . . . bracing in their use of old-fashioned “black” stereotypes. But I side with Carlson, here, and note a feature of the cartoon at the top of this page: Hitler is also caricatured. For some reason no one complains that Geisel caricatured white people, and that he was racist against whites because he drew Hitler in a funny way.

Now, the way he caricatured the German, we are told, is appreciably different from the way he caricatured the Japanese:

Dr. Seuss drew many cartoons that, to today’s eyes, are breathtakingly racist. Check out the cartoon above. It shows an arrogant-looking Hitler next to a pig-nosed, slanted-eye caricature of a Japanese guy. The picture isn’t really a likeness of either of the men responsible for the Japanese war effort — Emperor Hirohito and General Tojo. Instead, it’s just an ugly representation of a people.

OK. Maybe. Though considering the way Hitler thought about the Japanese, a haughty Hitler is apt. But the racism could be evident. And it is certain that Seuss repented:

In 1953, Geisel visited Japan where he met and talked with its people and witnessed the horrific aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. He soon started to rethink his anti-Japanese vehemence. So he issued an apology in the only way that Dr. Seuss could.

He wrote a children’s book.

Be that as it may, not accepting a Dr. Seuss book from the First Lady (as was the case, recently, of a smug, moralistic librarian) is idiotic, of course. Even if, at one time, the “liberal” Dr. Seuss was a bit racist early on.

Having race on the brain is deranging a lot of people. But maybe it is just a bunch of people seeing how far they can push white guilt. I think what really shocks the left these days is more and more whites are saying: no more.

And that’s considered racism.

Well, if liking Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose or The Lorax or Horton Hears a Who makes us racist, what will happen is this: white Americans will accept the charge and dismiss the accusers of some sort of reverse racism, despise them for their idiotic malignity, and vote in any direction that does not include such nonsense.

So, during wartime, Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was a bit racist. Get over it, people. Carlson’s final charge is apt: the racism-mongers are moralistic scolds.

And this carries on a theme I have been writing variations on for decades: the left has become conservative. Everything I despised about conservatism as a child is on the left, today, and much worse.

If you are incensed that Dr. Seuss was racist before he became anti-racist, and dismiss him as a hack in part for that reason, there is not merely something wrong with you. There is probably something wrong with the people around you, the people you admire.

And that explains a lot about the current epoch.

twv

* Offered in evidence of my whiteness:

Photo on 9-30-17 at 5.13 PM

A friend passes on a news report she saw in Minnesota:

Third graders kneel for the national anthem at their football game, and turn their backs to the flag.

A sign of the times. The United States no longer sports even a hint of a unified nation, and the general government is approaching bankruptcy . . . if at the speed of Zeno’s arrow.

IMG_4603The coming collapse? Perhaps soon.

The people, even the youngsters, are preparing for it.

Two questions:

  • Will we mitigate the calamity of our fall?
  • Who shall be our Odoacer?

As for me, I have not changed my tune. I advise a new political movement, one with a very specific program: put the federal government into Receivership.

twv

KimJong-un-rocket-man

Trump’s “Rocket Man” epithet was of course funny.

All the non-witless agree. But there is more to the story.

Scott Adams explained on Periscope how it is funny. It really is about Trump finding the boundary of “good taste” (political etiquette; verbal rectitude) and deliberately crossing that borderline. The joke works not because it is, itself, hilarious — stand-alone it’s worth a mere chuckle — but because the quarter of the audience that expresses shock and dismay make it funny.

Two birds with one rock, man. Humor depends upon a logical catastrophe, as John Allen Paulos has explained so well. We laugh when the logic slips and our grasp on categories shifts, when something or someone in one category falls into a lower category (occasionally the reverse). In the case of “Rocket Man,” not only does a dictator get a demotion, but Trump has yet again tweaked the sensibilities of his critics.

“Something for the fans.”

In a follow-up talk, Adams notes how it proved to be more than that. Trump effectively took away one of Kim Jong-Un’s goals: the “prestige thing.” Trump’s belittling of the dictator, Adams perceptively argues, effectively took out of the negotiation room one whole issue.

“Rocket Man” became “weaponized.”

It all depends on the full frame. “A month ago, every time Rocket Man launched a new rocket, how do you think he felt?” Adams asks. “I’m gonna guess proud. Probably good for his ego. Made him feel important, made him feel like he was a big player on the world stage.”

That must be right. The dictator surely felt the bigger man because of the rocket launches, because of his threat. “Powerful. Bold. . . . his T-count went up a little bit.”

After Trump’s mocking monickerization, however, “he will feel that the entire world is laughing at him.”

Correctly feel, I might add.

Trump, Adams argues, effectively took Rocket Man’s nukes away from him in terms of honor — with a simple two words. Without touching a nuke . . . or dropping one.

I must admit, I worry about a dictator stripped of his last shred of pride. What does he have left, now, but his life? Even his power may taste like sawdust.

But there’s no doubt that the negotiation game has changed. And, short term, this may be quite advantageous to nearly everyone but Kim Jong-un. (The loss of honor will eat away at the man, though. That could be quite bad.)

Trump’s “linguistic kill shots,” as Adams dubs them, amount to something important. At first blush, this routine may seem not too much different from schoolyard taunting. But there is a difference. It is not the “slow kid” or the “ugly girl” who receives the brunt of the ribbing, the humiliation; it is not the lowly or the powerless: in most cases it is the cultural elites, the people who have cultural power, the people who have determined for decades what may or may not be said. They are the ones who take the hit.

And in the case of Rocket Man, he who took the hit is someone with outrageous, horrifying political power. A man utterly deserving of any put-down we can deliver.

In this context, the litany of complaints about Trump’s rough language seem, increasingly, to be vapid and even stupid.* Schoolmarmy.

The schoolmarms naturally object to his example. What will the kids do? Will bullying go back on the rise? Perhaps.

But they miss something. Trump’s not the bully. That’s not the right metaphor. He’s the smart-ass who mocks the principal and the teachers in the hallway and, if the jocks misbehave or abuse their power, the jocks, too.

It’s not “Truth” to Power, of course. Not exactly. Trump is saying not that the Emperor has no clothes, but that the empire’s hangers-on and petty enforcers have their flies open.

And that our biggest enemies are dicks.

Keep those pocket-rockets docked, boys, or the Donald will getcha.

twv


 

*The piling on of boos and hisses, sad-faces and disses by world leaders is just the usual bit of U.S.-bashing. It is cheap credit for the world leaders. It is pathetic.