Archives for category: Propaganda

Sometimes it seems as though people no longer know what freedom of speech is. The Stanley Fish argumentation in his infamous essay against the very coherence of free speech has not increased clarity or general understanding — though I take it that was indeed what Fish was trying to provide. So I have, in a number of venues, tried to explain free speech.

Recently on Quora I have answered two questions that sketch out what I believe to be the correct formulation of the idea:

I provided the gist of my understanding in the first essay:

Remember, freedom of speech is a term of art. It does not mean “all speech is free,” or that all symbolic acts are legally justifiable. Freedom of speech is merely speech broadly construed (semiosis) that does not aggress against the rights of others to be free. It is a way of defending freedom in the realm of speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc.

We cannot (rightly) possess a right to use speech to conspire against the rights of others.

The most important point to take away is this: a right to free speech does not mean that all speech is free.

Free speech “absolutists” get this wrong all the time, for they are constantly moved by their desire for consistency and absolutism to construe all speech as free. One reason for this is that they wish to use the First Amendment in a lawyerly way, with specific words carrying the most weight. They most strongly wish to avoid philosophy, and instead use the Constitution as a magic document, and the words in it as incantations that solve all problems.

We can see how well that has turned out.

And perhaps my free speech absolutist friends are afraid of Fishian (piscine?) error, of saying that if some speech is free and other speech is not, then the demarcating line must be arbitrary.

This is just simply not the case.

So, what is the line of demarcation between speech that is protected as free and speech that is not?

Freedom itself, in the wider context.

Most importantly, free speech really only makes sense in societies that regard general freedom (liberty) as in some sense primary. Indeed, it also only makes sense — and this can be seen best when paired up with freedom of religion and especially the press and association in the First Amendment listing — in a private property rights regime.

You have the right to speak freely on your property. You have the right to speak freely on property you have hired for the occasion.

It necessarily becomes murky regarding public places. This is especially murky regarding the freedom of the press when the press is a government outfit, like Britain BBC. What is “freedom of the press” regarding a government-run medium? All speech is finite, and its purveying is done under conditions of scarcity. Everyone must ration their resources. Including newspapers and blogs as well as radio and TV networks. So when the BBC makes an editorial decision, “free speech” is problematic: which words and ideas to broadcast is a constant decision-making process, with some telling others what to say and what listeners and viewers may hear. “Freedom of speech” is perilously close to meaningless. (But is not.) Which is why minimizing government is a necessity: it obviates basic principles and places government bodies in the position of serving some people and not others.

And government is, in theory, supposed to serve all people.

Oh, why did I bring up “freedom of the press”? That is not free speech, I can hear someone protest.

But it is. “The press” is just a technological way of distributing speech beyond our local realms, outside of our properties. It is free speech with extended borderlines. But the extension must always conform — as speech alone must conform — to individual rights in society.

It might be useful to remind today’s confused connoisseurs to see these concepts in a continuum:

freedom: of thought — of speech — of press

with the most basic being on the left and going from private to public as we read right.

And the context of property rights integrates everything. Without property rights there is no freedom of any kind. For freedom depends on exit rights and exclusion rights. Which, together, make up free association, which is implied by free speech and press freedom.

And, as I noted on Quora: No one has a right to contract a hitman to murder another. You cannot absolve yourself on “free speech” grounds for that sort of criminal speech. Similarly, you may not command someone you have reason to believe will follow your orders to commit a crime, either. The common law has long held that incitement to riot and similar acts do not constitute protected speech because free.

The idea is simple: freedom as both a fact and a right requires reciprocity. Your speech cannot be defended as free speech if your speech precludes others from their free speech.

It is an old idea, reciprocity. But people still get this wrong.

Maybe it would help to compare freedom of speech and press with freedom of religion. In the United States, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from messing about in religious matters, or favoring one religion over another, ceteris paribus.

But that does not mean everything declared “religious” is protected. It may be the case that you desire to sacrifice infants and virgins to your god Ashtaroth, but let us be realistic: sacrifice of this kind abridges the rights of infants and virgins. “Religion” is no excuse for crime.

This is not so nuanced an idea that it cannot be readily understood. No? But maybe it is difficult. After all, I cannot recall anyone else make this exact formulation.

So this is what I insist upon: all these British-American concepts are terms of art, and the art should not seem to us British and American citizens at all recondite. The art is liberty. As soon as you erode liberty either by erecting a Leviathan state (of any variety) or by engaging in piecemeal criminal activity, these freedoms become incoherent.



For a long time, my skepticism about catastrophic climate change did not take the form of “it could not happen,” or “human civilization has nothing to do with changes in climate.”

My skepticism was prompted, repeatedly, by activists and scientists who kept expressing certainty where certainty could not be had; were given to ignoring and even conspiring to ignore alternative explanations of the effects witnessed; were seemingly uninterested in the reliability of climate data or in questions concerning the relevance of the data they fixed upon rather than other possible data sets.

In all this, I never doubted that terrestrial climate was changing — though I have been dubious, off an on, about the exact shape of the trend lines and whether the climate was indeed ineluctably warming.

Indeed, when activists and scientists were calling climate trends “global warming” I was calling it “climate change”; when they switched I got suspicious.

But my chief problem has been that those most concerned about climate change refused to engage in anything like a stance of curiosity in public, always eschewing the rhetoric of inquiry for the rhetoric of conclusions, especially when confronting long-term trends. The reason I have always believed that climate is changing is that I know history and have read a lot of the science of prehistory, and climate goes in cycles. What climate change scientists have been caught doing is trying to erase the Medieval Warming Period from the record and certainly from the public conversation, and have treated the Little Ice Age as if it were best not to linger over — for fear, apparently, that people might recognize it for what it was, a LITTLE ICE AGE, a very cold period from which we have been emerging for the last 200 or so years.

I used to make a big deal about those two facts: medieval warming and early modern-period cooling. But now what it impresses me most? The facts relating to the end of the last Ice Age — 11,000 years ago or so — which were catastrophic to the American megafauna and to sea levels and climate patterns worldwide. If someone is concerned about current climate change, I would expect to see a lot more interested in past climate change. The fact that I do not suggests to me that they are not really interested in climate change as a subject, but only in current trends — and even that not much. For only a rather stupid person would try to consider current phenomena without reference to past phenomena.

Every climate change activist I’ve met, and most of the scientists I have watched online and on TV, strike me as specialized and not very wise — at best. Most strike me as fools. Or knaves.

And yet, climate change may very well be an important issue. And there might be some out-of-the-box things we could do to reduce human contributions to great, worldwide alterations longterm weather events and patterns.

But as long as activists and scientists try to prove too much while restricting their focus, they will lose their battle.

This is worse than “crying wolf” when there is one. This is like “crying wolf” when it is a swarm of locusts attacking you, and standing around doing nothing but crying.



This is the golden age of clever analogies. Short “memes” get shared online, and many of them are quite good. And then there are the ones that fall apart.

Consider this effort in the Ban The Guns Sweepstakes:

I assume this “phil h” fellow invented it. And the first time I saw it, I thought, “not bad.” But the second and third and fourth time I saw it? I saw the problems.

A lot of my friends immediately objected to the condescension in the example: statists treat us like kids. Children.

But it’s worse than just that. The condescension is double: he talks of “giving” out sticks. As if what people possess were a matter of what they “receive” rather than what they work for, earn. Have by right.

But the most deceptive aspect of the meme comes in Option C: it uses a singular construction, not the plural that would parallel current debate. The gun grabbers mean to take away “all the sticks.” Not just the malefactor’s stick. But by leaving this in the singular, we are subliminally cued to understand this in a more reasonable light. Adults do take away sticks from irresponsible kids. And perhaps use the stick to swat the little malefactor on the behind. That’s nothing like what leftists really are up to. They want all the sticks taken away.

And think again about that “give” and “take away” — this language completely distorts how kids actually acquire sticks. A realistic scenario would reformulate it as “let kids find sticks and play with them” in contrast to “take away all sticks and denude the trees and parks of branches and. . . .”

The authoritarian attitude is just a part of the paternalist/maternalist Family Model of the State. It’s the wrong model, as should be obvious in this debate. And especially in this really pathetic attempt at persuasion.




Snopes makes much of the “different contexts” between Obama’s 2016 “shit show” comment and Trump’s alleged and recent “shit hole” query. Snopes somehow doesn’t make much of the fact that while there is no doubt that Obama used the language, Trump’s epithet was not merely given in private, it was divulged by his enemy, Sen. Durbin, who may have misreported it — or even lied about it. Typically, further testimony has tended to fall out along partisan lines.

0291B6E8-31A4-438F-B5CA-AB705BB7D680Also, Snopes’ “mostly false” judgment relies on the setup question, concentrating on “did the media ignore” rather than “did the media repeat the word as a horrible affront to all that is good and decent hundreds of times in one day and relentlessly ever since”?

Leftists have stumbled onto a new mantra, it appears:

shit hole shit hole
shit shit hole hole
hole shit hole shit

Now, I strongly suspect that Trump did in fact say “shit hole” re Haiti. He maybe shouldn’t have. But Durbin should not have repeated it as hearsay, and the press should not have repeated it ad nauseam as an excuse to malign the president, as malignable as he may be.

And, for the record, the Libya mission did turn out to be a shit show, and Haiti is indeed a shit hole country.

img_0742But forget for a moment the putative unacceptability of the language of these two presidential pearls. The Libya operation itself reflects badly on Obama . . . and Hillary Clinton. The exact phrasing strikes me as not nearly as interesting.

And is the near facticity of Haiti’s shit hole status really racist?

It seems like a frank (if vulgar) recognition of the dire poverty of the nation. It doesn’t mean Haitians are bad people, but it does indicate that they have not got the knack, as a group, for civilization yet.

But the fact that the Clinton Foundation exploited Haitian tragedy to do good mainly for itself, that does reflect badly on . . . Hillary Clinton!

338A95F6-C260-4AF8-88A3-37079C26C39FWho somehow managed to appear as a key player in both the shit show and the shit hole scandals. And not for saying something naughty and un-nice, but for being incompetent and perhaps even murderous and corrupt.

Great going, Hillary; great going, Democrats.

But let us get down to the bedrock issue: is Trump a “racist”? Well, he does say racist things now and then. This may be — but probably is not — one of them.

How? Well, Trump’s comment was not directed at just Haiti, but also at “El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and African countries in the temporary protected status program,” according to a competent report summary. And that is not just black people, but Latin American browns, too. Note that many, many countries with brown-and-darker skinned inhabitants were not also maligned. No mention of Botswana, Brazil, what-have-you.

img_1569The most reasonable interpretation of Trump’s query is that it pertained to the current and quite idiotic country-of-origin criterion for granting legal immigration status, and that Trump simply does not understand why America would not use an individual criteria set for granting visas and green cards and the like. And the idea that folks from countries in the very worst conditions might provide emigres with more cultural baggage for assimilation is not a crazy notion. Nor necessarily racist.

Though I know, I know: lots of immigrants from around the world, regardless of country of origin, do well here — often better than those natives who have fallen into the welfare state rut.

Of course, objecting to the phrasing of Trump’s query is not entirely unreasonable. It is “beneath the dignity of the office,” sure, but tell that to all the previous White House vulgarians, greatest of which was probably LBJ. Much of this is really about media focus. Once upon a time, journalists and news outlets ignored this kind of thing. Now they revel in it.

Especially when it is the Republicans who prove the loose tongued.

Many complaints against the query are silly, of course, or worse — school-marmy. Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen insisted that “Language like that shouldn’t be heard in locker rooms and it shouldn’t be heard in the White House.”

What a pompous, impertinent Ms. Grundy. What goes on in locker rooms is none of her shit hole business. The entitlement with which some women in power think they can legislate for men’s speech and lives is astounding,

Utah Rep. Mia Love’s lament is a bit more understandable, for her judgment was that Trump’s wording and sentiment were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.” Though that last bit is a bit much. I have read American history. I know American values. They are not lockstep prudish or high-minded, no matter how hard some folks have tried to make them so.

Besides, might not America have earned a right to some elitism? People want to come here, from all over the world. Reverse migration to Haiti, Nicaragua and other “temporary protected status” countries is not all that common.


Well, you know the answer.

Of course, it is the sign of magnanimity not to lord one’s superiority over others. Trump is not magnanimous. Surprise surprise.

But his enemies are relentless in their sanctimony. Is it possible to be more loathsomely and hubristically moralistic than the Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke? Maybe had Trump’s statement been less ambiguous, Huppke’s litany of moral challenges to the reader would be easier to take. But as it stands. . . .

Here is the nut of Huppke’s “your response will be remembered” phillipic:

Did you call out the obvious racism behind those statements? Did you acknowledge that the leader of the free world — by title, anyway — had shown himself to be a white supremacist, casually expressing his dislike of brown-skinned immigrants and preference for white European immigrants?

The racism is only “obvious” if all you have is race on the brain. And white supremacist? Come on.

Trump is an American supremacist. That is what is obvious. How racist is he? Probably not much more racist than he is homophobic — which is what leftists were charging him with last year … on no evidence whatsoever.

The tendency to turn one’s enemy into an utter evil monster might best be avoided. And the attempt, running throughout the left’s (and, especially, Democratic partisans’) excoriations, to turn anyone defending the president into a Deplorable? Well, it may make you feel good, but it will probably lead to your cause’s demise. Those called Deplorable will not like it, and may end up rejecting your very standards themselves.

I did not vote for Trump, nor will I if he runs again. But I do hope the Left continues this insane hysteria against Trump and all his supporters. Why?

I want them to lose. They are insufferable fools and Pharisaic posturers.

And Snopes’ pretension to objectivity? Not believable.




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The Ron Paul newsletters, in the news — again!

The following appeared on Wirkman Netizen, on January 10, 2009:

On Wolf Blitzer’s program, Ron Paul responds (link to Reason’s Hit and Run).

I haven’t watched it all yet, because it’s hard for me to stomach evasion. While I suppose it’s reasonable for people to suppose Ron’s a racist because of the horrid newsletters that went out under his name, that was never my charge. My question has been more like this: Why did you let yourself be used by racist hatemongers, and why did you let them use racist and homophobic hatred to sell your point of view?

Interestingly, the word “libertarianism” is out in front here, and Ron nicely (if improbably) says that libertarians cannot be racist. Of course they can. The libertarians who wrote his newsletters were racist.

Of course, he could say “they weren’t libertarian,” but he also denies knowing who any of them are. Improbable. He mentions the word “editor” but does not mention who the real editor of his newsletter was. And that is something he could have done, easily.

Let me repeat: I have never really believed that he was a racist. I believe he was led by his friends and mentors (Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard) into this sort of race-baiting as a quasi-legitimate way to “use” rightwingers to forward “legit” libertarian ends, courtesy of a sweet business deal (with Burt Blumert).

Or I suppose something like this could have happened:

Ron, 1989: Hey Burt, what’s all this racist crap in my newsletter?

Burt: Sorry, Ron. I had to fire a ghostwriter. It seemed OK when I first read it, but I saw that it was pretty nasty on second thought. Taken care of.

Ron: OK.

Ron, 1990: Hey Burt, what’s all this nastiness about my hero MLK about?

Burt: You like MLK? Sorry. We have evidence here in our folders that he was a commie and a pervert. I mean, I got this straight from J. Edgar Hoover and he never lied.

Ron: Burt, you should know never to trust the FBI!

Burt: Sorry, won’t happen again.

Ron, 1995: Burt, there’s more MLK bashing and nastiness and racism! What’s going on here?

Burt: Yeah, I had to fire another sub-editor. Sorry. But, on the bright side, we suckered another several thou off of the creeps on the far right!

Seems unlikely, no? Could Ron be that dumb?

Well, I just finished watching the video. Paul does what politicians do: try to change the subject. Like I said, I never really believed he was a racist. But he did go along with racists at his newsletter, and let racism go out under his name. This looks so bad, and stinks so high. In a sense, it’s worse than racism. It’s not caring about an issue enough to stick up for your own principles, and letting your friends get away with putting your name through the dreck of bigotry.

Now, we have all said terrible things. At least I have. I have even written pretty awful things. For a joke, sometimes I will say nearly anything. And that, no doubt, is how the ghosts of Paul justified at least some of what they were doing.

And, as I have insisted before, this is part of the paleolibertarian agenda: appeal to conservatives by dissing the underclass.

The paleos just didn’t understand how ugly they were being. I think they thought of themselves as being principled. I bet they argued their case for the vile speech to Ron Paul in terms of principle. And I bet Paul, blown over by the imprimatur of his favorite living economist, went along for those reasons.

It’s just a theory. But it’s the best one I can advance. It offers yet another pathetic example of someone going too far in the “school” he belongs to.

How much better would it have been for Ron Paul had he distanced himself a bit from the “Austrians.” He should have read more Coase and Posner and Friedman, and kept a more open mind. And avoided deifying Mises and treating Rothbard as Mises’ One True Prophet.

The whole cultic aspect of Mises worship comes up again, and in such a way that would surely have annoyed the great man himself.

Mises was not God. Rothbard was no Muhammad. These are fallible men with some good ideas. I admire Mises more than I admire most 20th century thinkers. But that does not mean that I would be so blown over by his brightest disciples that I would let them spew hate in my name.

And, frankly, I am not all that impressive a person. Ron Paul, running for president, should have more integrity than I. He does not. That is sad. So, just as i think a person has to be in several senses better a person than I — morally, financially, intellectually — to be worth placing in the presidency of the United States, just so I can say Ron does not really deserve it.

Of course, I don’t have much evidence that any of his competitors for the position are any better. In fact, I think most are worse. I think that some political positions simply disqualify you. Warmongering without good cause, and going along with lies to support the case for war, that disqualifies most of the major candidates, leaving only Obama (perhaps) worth putting in office.

And he has a lot of other things going against him.

But, at least he probably has kept his anti-black racism under control, and not spewed racial hatred under his name for a decade or more.


Hi, I was really upset when more of these newsletters came out, since I’ve been a RP supporter for a while now (about a year). He really really really needs to understand how bad these are and come clean. Here is my take on the subject:

I liked your take on Hit&Run on what he should have said (that’s how I wound up on your blog):

“Look, I had to deal with this painful experience 12 years ago. I prayed about what to do. I stopped talking to the main person responsible, Mr. X. And those who convinced me to allow this? One is dead, and I forgave him, though never quite trusted him again. I’m afraid I still have regular dealings — though not business dealings — with the one other person who convinced me that this was the right way to go, who defended the highjacking of my newsletters. This is the most awful thing I ever did, giving up my name for others to abuse to promote ideas I believed in to people who were racists, using racist language. I repudiated this a long time ago. I made what amends I could a long time ago. My constituents forgave me. It is sad that it was brought up at this time.”

And cited it in my post, if that’s cool.

One word about how I feel about all this: crushed.

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.


* Offered in evidence of my whiteness:

Photo on 9-30-17 at 5.13 PM

“Grooming gangs” is the term that is now used to designate the pattern of organized capture and forced prostitution of girls. White girls. In Britain, anyway.

In the news, the perpetrators are identified as “Asians” — but race does not seem quite right. Which is what Tommy Robinson is most exercised about in his recent video for Rebel Media:

The sex enslavement biz itself used to be called “white slavery,” and led to the 1910 passage of the Mann Act in America, much fueled by anti-Chinese sentiment. Not “Asian,” not “Muslim” (which wasn’t even on the political radar a century ago). The effect of the Mann Act, however, was largely to prosecute American black men, often high profile, especially those with white girlfriends. The evidence for Chinese-American “white slavery” is slim.

Most historians judge it a “moral panic.”

The term “white slavery” itself interests me, and not just because Tommy Robinson, in this video, doesn’t use it. It was a way of addressing sex crimes without using terms that might offend Mrs. Grundy. It was also a way of playing off the night mind of Americans, who had, the generation before, abolished slavery, which was linked to anti-black racism. “White slavery” is thus the tables turned.

It does not take a Freud, a Jung, or an Adler to see why the panic might have set in.

Now, though, today, the “white slavery” issue has come full circle, so to speak. And not in America. For there is a wider historical context. There was indeed a widespread pattern of “white slavery.” Real. Extensive. “Systemic.”

Remember “the corsairs of the Barbary Coast”?

Muslim states, or gangs (in olden times the distinction’s a little iffy) in North Africa — in cahoots with the Ottoman Empire — enslaved Europeans for centuries up until the administration of Thomas Jefferson, who would have none of it. Taking to the seas as pirates, they captured Europeans and then Americans traveling on the high seas, holding them for ransom, when possible, selling into slavery, when necessary. But they also raided European shores to kill resisters and capture women and children and the wealthy, hauling their captives off to Africa as slaves.

This started before slavery was established by the English in America, by the way. And it might best be seen as part of the long war between Islam and the non-Muslim Everywhere Else, which began soon after Islam’s original expansion.

The raiding parties scoured the shores of France and Spain, and even England and Ireland and the Netherlands and (get this) Iceland. Yes, Iceland.

This was so devastating that for a long time the French abandoned their towns along the Mediterranean shores.

IMG_2863The piracy on the open seas was, oddly, the reason for the Barbary Pirates’ undoing. Congress under President John Adams had paid ransoms to the pirates, but President Jefferson was not on board. He authorized (quite unconstitutionally, I think) the attack upon the “shores of Tripoli.” (The pirates’ nests were primarily in Salé, Rabat, Algiers, and Tunis.) The attack was astoundingly successful.

Tommy Robinson, in the linked video (above), links the rise in sex slavery gangs not to race — brown people against white people — but to religion . . . Islam teaching that the infidels may be killed or enslaved with impunity. Only by conversion to Islam could an infidel escape subservience of some sort, even slavery — and worse. And here is where it gets interesting. During the Barbary Pirates’ heyday, many captive Europeans converted. Many of the leaders in North Africa had remarkably light skin.

So it really isn’t about racism. Or, race is tangential to what was really going on. Muslims enthusiastically practiced slavery. Under Islam, black Africans to the south and white Europeans to the north were attacked and enslaved and traded and extorted — and funneled east. The Ottoman Empire was the hub of this market. Christian slaves were much prized.

American slavery was birthed, in part, by the Muslim slave trade. Where did all those slaves come from? It wasn’t Europeans raiding Africa. It was Europeans buying black Africans off of Muslim slave traders, in no small part. Muslims began large-scale buying and selling of African slaves six centuries before Europeans entered the odious business. And it was Muslims who continued to do so 100 years after.

Now it is “grooming gangs” that we have to worry about. Well, Brits do.

But the issue is not without controversy. For many obvious reasons.

And it might be worth Mr. Robinson’s time and attention to address the national culture issue. As far as I can tell, it is Pakistsnis who have been the main perps in the sex slavery biz. Also, it is worth addressing the thorny issue of consent: how many of these girls are enticed into prostitution? What is the interplay between threat and enticement?

Inquiring minds want to know.


You know a person isn’t serious about opposing child labor if they keep up bringing sweat shops but never mention farm work.

Traditionally, had children not worked on family farms, many families would have starved. Personally, I worked on our family farm without recompense, growing up, and also worked on other farms for money. Before I came of age. I know that this was good for me, and everyone else knows this too.

img_0056My mother grew up in the Great Depression. She was one of the family breadwinners — as a child. Only an evil person would regard this as exploitation and wrong to the point that it should have been illegal.

A close friend of mine and I both spent time picking fruit in the summers. We earned a few bucks. This was good for us, even at ages nine, ten and eleven.

Now, in the state due south of where I live, such child labor is unlawful. Or so I’m told. I do know that illegal Mexicans pick most of those crops. Progress?

Harping on sweat shops and factory work by children makes moderns feel good about themselves. It is much like imagining themselves as great opponents of slavery — despite their lack of interest in slavery rampant, today, in the Islamic world.

Harping on sweat shops and factory work by children means never having to think about context, progress, wealth creation, or even what actual conditions in most of these situations were really like. I have never met a progressive who talks about this who has read one word of the current scholarly literature on the subject. They are merely repeating stuff pushed to them by brainless high school teachers and Marxist college professors.

Every time I mention that rates of child labor were plummeting prior to child labor being regulated and then prohibited, I get blank looks or eyebrows of incredulity.

Some day these uninformed ideologues may realize that they are merely ignorant buffoons parroting dogmas of little value.

By then, though, they will have supported dozens of insane regulations and deceitful politicians.


Isn’t it by a legal fiction that the accused are, in this country, said to be “innocent until proven guilty”? The fiction is important.

Similarly, it is by dialogic fiction that you are instructed to regard 

  • your interlocutor as honest, 
  • open to new information as well as unfamiliar logic, and as 
  • earnest in a desire to resolve cognitive dissonances.

Further, in political argumentation, we assume that everybody wants everyone else to be healthy, wealthy and wise. We assume good will.

All these assumptions about arguers have been shown to be incorrect. 

Our biases have been exhaustively examined by psychologists, and our intellectual limitations demonstrated as surprisingly vast. Similarly, the glee with which people wish to harm some others puts the lie to any universal notion of good will. And, to add a twist to the knife, some of us old arguers have come to expect the most ugliness from the loudest professors of benevolence; we know that ill will is ever-present in politics and government, at least.

And yet the dialogic fiction of benevolence retains its importance. It provides the groundwork for change, and for the reciprocity that is necessary for a free society.

And it is not just “those others” who are nudged to better behavior. Even when only one person in a debate behaves according to the fiction of general good will, that person is improved.