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Tuesday, 28 July 2015
All Lives Matter...But Some Matter More...
Topic: Decline of the West

As a conservative, I was greatly amused when former Maryland governor and Democratic Party presidential candidate was booed and reviled for saying the following: “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.” His progressive interlocutors were indignant at O’Malley’s supposed slighting of the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, a noisy group of activists with a grudge against the police. BLM claims that the cops are racist, that they target blacks for brutal treatment while giving whites a pass. This claim is unsupported by anything in the way of facts or evidence but as the hapless O’Malley can testify, it’s propelled by a heavy charge of anger and righteous indignation. For his act of thought crime, the candidate was compelled to offer a cringing, servile apology. This couldn’t have happened to a more deserving politician: Besides being Maryland’s former governor, he’s Baltimore’s former mayor. 

The closing of the progressive mind has now gone so far as to render the statement, “all lives matter,” controversial if not inadmissible. This perhaps should surprise no one given such incidents as the Kermit Gosnell case and the scandal currently afflicting Planned Parenthood. If you were wondering why progressives are such fervent defenders of late-term and partial-birth abortion, there’s your answer: They want those baby body parts. But let’s return to BLM, which fulminates over the epidemic of police killings of blacks. 

But it’s hardly an epidemic. Recently the left-wing British newspaper, the Guardian, researched police shooting to date in the US. As of July 27, US police this year have killed 657 people, 492 of whom were armed. Of the victims, 316 were white, 172 were black and 96 were Hispanic. Per capita, therefore, blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be killed by police. But this disparity is easily accounted for by crime statistics: Blacks in America commit murder at a rate eight times that of the white rate and account for more than half of all homicide and robbery arrests. But even so a black American’s statistical probability of being killed by a cop is very low. 

In short, Black Lives Matter has no real basis for its charges of racist police brutality & etc. This is not to deny that racist cops exist or that some police killings of blacks are questionable or unjustified. But let’s be honest: BLM is blowing smoke. 

So are the BLMers just a bunch of race-baiting publicity pimps? That conclusion is tempting at a time when a creature of evil like Al Sharpton is held to be a respectable civil rights activist. But on reflection I think not. No doubt the movement has attracted some people of Sharpton’s type. On the whole, though, I believe that its righteous indignation and anger are quite sincere…though sadly displaced. 

If you (a) accept the proposition that black lives matter and (b) are able to face unpleasant facts then your indignation and anger should not be focused on the police. Certainly there are bad cops and dysfunctional police departments. But the principal killers of blacks in America are other blacks. Last weekend in Chicago there were 41 shootings including seven homicides. Most of the shooters and victims were black. As a matter of fact about 95% of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks. For young black men between the ages of 18 and 35, murder is the number-one cause of death. Over the past 35 years, almost 350,000 blacks have been killed by other blacks. 

Of course these are deeply distressing statistics. Particularly for black Americans they’re a source of sadness and shame. Black parents know in their hearts that the principal danger to their sons is presented by other black parents’ sons. Human nature being what it is any distraction from this painful reality—claims of institutional racism, white privilege, police brutality—is gratefully embraced. And the police, who by the nature of their job are so closely associated with this epidemic of murderous violence, are made to bear the responsibility for it. Denouncing the shooting of Michael Brown or the death in police custody of Freddie Grey, crying out against white privilege, etc. indirectly absolves those who are really the executioners of so many black fathers and uncles and brothers and sons. 

Black Lives Matter will earn my respect if and when it makes the transition from narrative to reality. Until that day—if it comes, which I doubt—BLM will remain part of the problem, contributing to a pervasive and deadly conspiracy of silence.

Posted by tmg110 at 11:25 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Walker!
Topic: Liberal Fascism

What is it with the Left, anyhow? I get that they don’t like conservative politicians—but this sob, via Twitter, is just plain crazy: “My grandfather, a psychologist, just walked me through similarities between Walker and Hitler. There are so many—it's terrifying.”

The Walker referred to is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, who just announced that he’s running for president. The tweeter is Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of education policy studies and sociology (!) at the University of Wisconsin.

Now before you dismiss Goldrick-Rab as some loony on the fringes of the leftie fever swamp, let me point out that such charges are nothing new. Back in 2007, former Al Gore fashion consultant Naomi Wolf published a screed purporting to show that George W. Bush was a Nazi aiming to impose fascism on America—literally. For this her comrades showered her with accolades, e.g. “Naomi Wolf 's End of America is a vivid, urgent, mandatory wake-up call that addresses momentous issues of tyranny, democracy, and survival”—this according to Blanche Wiesen Cook, biographer of Eleanor Roosevelt and distinguished professor of history, John Jay College.

But my subject here is not the loony character of Goldrick-Rab’s charge per se. No, what struck me was her appeal to Science. When the professor was called out for her tweet, here’s what she replied: “If you reread the tweet, you will see that I stated that an expert in the field—a psychoanalyst with decades of experience—compared the ‘psychological characteristics’ of the two individuals, and that I was struck by his analysis. There do appear to be commonalities.”

Now of course I can’t be sure but it’s probably safe to assume that the professor’s grandpa has never met, much less treated, either Adolf Hitler or Scott Walker—which is to say that his opinion consists of one-hundred-percent pure Grade-A baloney. But he, like his winsome granddaughter, trails a string of post-nominal initials. He has credentials! He represents Science!

You run across this sort of thing all the time with liberals, lefties and progressives. The mantle of Science is draped over the most dubious, indeed ludicrous, assertions. A hardy perennial in this garden of ideological oddities is the claim that conservatism is a form of mental illness. Two words—“studies show”—provide such scientific respectability as the partisans of the reality-based party require. And yes, I have been capitalizing “Science” deliberately, because when a leftie pronounces the word you can hear the capital “S.”

I suspect, though, that Goldrick-Rab’s devotion to empiricism and rationality stops short of the obvious. Being what she is—a postmodern academic—the professor no doubt believes that Bruce Jenner is really a woman, despite all the biological/genetic evidence to the contrary. She no doubt believes that one in five women attending college falls victim to sexual assault, despite a complete lack of evidence to that effect. A woman who believes that Adolf Hitler and Scott Walker are equivalent persons will no doubt believe anything that validates her ideology. And that, ladies and gentlemen, ain’t scientific.


Posted by tmg110 at 9:03 AM EDT
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Thursday, 9 July 2015
Immigration Turnabout?
Topic: Politics & Elections

The Conventional Wisdom states that immigration is a toxic issue for Republicans and a winning one for Democrats. Thus the angst produced by celebrity presidential candidate Donald Trump’s broadside against illegal immigration. Democrats immediately denounced him as a racist and demanded that the other GOP presidential candidates do likewise. Most did, but gingerly, for they realize that on the immigration issue, the Republican Party base largely agrees with the Donald. In the eyes of the CV, this put the GOP between a rock and a hard place: In order get the nomination, a Republican candidate must placate the base but in order to win the election he must pander to “Hispanics.”

But I wonder. Hard on the heels of the Donald’s intemperate tirade came the shocking murder in San Francisco of a young woman by an illegal immigrant with a string of felony convictions who’d been deported from the US five times. He was living in San Francisco because it’s a “sanctuary city,” i.e. a city whose government and law enforcement agencies ignore federal immigration law. The murder of Kathryn Steinle has touched off a national outcry and now suddenly it’s the Democrats who are running for cover on immigration.

Here’s the truth: However crudely and offensively the Donald may have expressed himself, he was largely correct about the lack of border security and the abject failure of the federal government to enforce existing immigration laws. When Barack Obama and his Homeland Security minions tell us that the border with Mexico is secure, they’re simply lying. The story of the San Francisco shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is proof of that: Five times deported, he managed to return to America every time. And he found a safe haven in San Francisco, whose leftie government has been raising the middle finger to federal immigration law for a quarter of a century now.

Not that the feds have covered themselves with glory. In 2014 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released—not deported but released in the United States—some 30,500 illegal immigrants with criminal records. This total included 193 with homicide convictions, 426 with sexual assault convictions, 303 with kidnapping convictions and 16,070 with convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Liberals, progressives and lefties pooh-pooh the notion that crime by illegal immigrants is a major problem. Oh, really? In the city of Los Angeles, more than 90% of outstanding homicide arrest warrants and more than 65% of outstanding felony arrest warrants name illegal immigrants. Overall, illegal immigrants commit more than 2,000 murders and 130,000 sex crimes each year. Yet merely to point out these worrisome statistics, to assert that the United States has a right to control its borders and deport undesirables, is to be branded as a racist and a xenophobe. Progressives become indignant when their patriotism is questioned but it seems to me that their defense of illegal immigration raises precisely that question.

So perhaps the GOP presidential candidates made a mistake by running for cover when Donald Trump shot off his mouth. Surely it required no very great rhetorical dexterity to chide the Donald for his choice of words while agreeing that he was calling attention to a real and serious issue. And now a practical strategy along those lines suggests itself: an all-out assault on sanctuary cities, of which there are over two hundred around the country. Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly is promoting “Kate’s Law,” a federal legislative proposal that would mandate a five-year prison sentence for any illegal who, having been deported, returns again to the United States. The law would also cut off federal funding for any city, county or state that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Now that’s a proposal that the GOP should embrace. Let Democrats and progressives defend San Francisco’s right to shield homicidal illegal immigrants.


Posted by tmg110 at 11:43 AM EDT
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Topic: Decline of the West

My ancestry is just about 90% Irish and there are people who think I should be proud of that. Thanks but no.

I suppose if I’d been born in South Boston I’d have had Irishness drummed into me. But Taunton, Massachusetts, where I grew up, was no hotbed of Irish nationalism. In my family not much was made of the Auld Sod. For the record, my father’s people, the Greggs, came to America in the 1840s—fleeing the Great Hunger, no doubt. They hailed from Ulster and were Protestants originally but somewhere along the line one of them married a Catholic girl and converted. On my mother’s side I’m only a second-generation American: Grandmother McMullen came to this country shortly after the Great War, at a time when Ireland was convulsed by civil war.

Of my family’s older generation, the one I remember most vividly is my Grandfather Gregg. Irish by blood and Catholic by religion he nevertheless had the appearance, attitudes and habits of thought of a New England Yankee. William R. Gregg was hardworking, frugal, conscious of the value of a dollar. He once said to me: “Remember, Tommy, only a certain amount of money will pass by you in your life and if you don’t reach out for it when it appears you’ll never see it again.” My grandfather possessed a Puritan respect for education and his great regret was that when he was young there had been no money to pay for college tuition.

Growing up, therefore, I never really thought of myself as anything but an American. Later on I became curious enough about my Irish ancestry to read three or four relevant books, including The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 by Cecil Woodham-Smith, a searing account of the potato famine that killed at least a million Irish peasants and drove two million more out of the country. This was enough to convince me that the smartest thing my ancestors ever did was decamp from Ireland to the Land of E Pluribus Unum. Perhaps perversely, learning about the tragic history of Ireland confirmed me in my American identity.

Now I will concede that the saga of Ireland’s long, often bloody, battle for independence is stirring and heroic. But why should I, personally, be proud of that? As Plutarch said, “It is a fine thing to be well descended but the glory belongs to our ancestors.” Anyhow, my ancestors didn’t stick around to fight for Irish independence. They came here. And I’m grateful that they did.

I suppose this constitutes a pledge of allegiance to that obsolescent concept, the American melting pot. Would that it still operated as it did for the benefit of my ancestors! But nowadays the idea of a common American identity is depreciated and we’re all encouraged to cultivate some sort of tribal identity. And it’s ironic that the doctrine of tribalism has become part of the progressive world view. Progressive praxis embodies the idea of tribalism: It divides and subdivides Americans into narrower and narrower categories based on race, ethnicity, “gender,” social and economic class, immigration status, etc. And for progressivism to advance its program, Americans have to be taught to think of themselves in such terms. Hillary Clinton babbles about “everyday Americans” (incidentally a telling characterization that betrays her real feelings about us) but her small-ball policy proposals slice and dice us into tribal groups. There is the tribe of immigrants, legal and illegal. There is the tribe of Millennials with their heavy load of student loan debt. There is the tribe of women and the tribe of homosexuals. And there is the wicked Tribe of the One Percenters that, hilariously, the Pants-Suited One has promised to topple. And in this she is of course following in the footsteps of Barack H. Obama, the most divisive president—and purposefully so—in recent American history.

It may seem an odd development, this progressive embrace of a new, postmodern tribalism. But the kind of centralization that progressives aim for, the aggrandizement of the administrative/bureaucratic state at the expense of democratic accountability, is facilitated by suppressing the idea of a common American identity. The great aim of progressivism is to transform free citizens of a republic into servile clients of a government colossus, and the encouragement of tribalism facilitates the process.

We should have seen this coming when the first department of black/feminist/gender/queer/whatever studies was established among the groves of academe. Like most bad ideas nowadays, postmodern tribalism is a construct of the intelligentsia—those people whose idea of enlightened pedagogy is to throw out Shakespeare because he’s meaningless to students of color or offensive to, um, students of gender.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:50 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Feel the Hate
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Did you know that Louisiana governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal is a self-hating racist who’s ashamed of his Indian ethnicity? If this seems dubious to you, don’t take my word for it: Ask a progressive.

In one of the most vile and repulsive Web posts I’ve ever seen, this very claim was advanced with the smugness typical of the self-described party of sensitivity and tolerance. But how has Bobby Jindal has sinned against progressive orthodoxy? By disregarding his skin color and mounting a full-throated defense of American exceptionalism. Such statements are of course obnoxious to progressives— every enlightened person knows that America is nothing special—but when their source is a person of color the mob scents blood.

Black Americans who happen to be conservative are familiar with this phenomenon. To be Clarence Thomas is to be reviled as a house slave, an Uncle Tom, a lawn jockey, a race traitor, etc. and so forth. Conservative women come in for the same type of treatment. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann may possess female biological characteristics but in the eyes of progressives their politics disqualify them from true womanhood. (That many of the same people who seek to gender-purge Palin and Bachmann also insist that Bruce Jenner is an honest-to-goddess woman appears to set up a contradiction in progressive practice, but that’s a topic for another blog post.) So now it’s Bobby Jindal’s turn and I can’t say I’m surprised.

The postmodern Left’s embrace of tribalism is one of the most striking political developments of our time. Bernie Sanders may go around addressing his audiences as “brothers and sisters” but that’s just a rhetorical tic. What Sanders—what the Left as a whole—demands of us today is that we obsess over our differences. This is called “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” Supposedly it fosters mutual tolerance but in practice it encourages division. What, for example, will the Left’s current jihad against the Confederate flag produce? Concord? Respect? Understanding? If that’s what you think, well, may I interest you in zinc futures?

Bobby Jindal is a thought criminal to the Left because he believes that his skin color and ethnicity are less important that his American identity. See, if he spent more time obsessing over his Indian ancestry he’d come to understand just how racist and rotten and imperialistic and generally deserving of contempt Amerikka truly is. And instead of being a self-hating racist he’d be an Amerikka-hating progressive…


Posted by tmg110 at 12:12 PM EDT
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The Bill Comes Due
Topic: Decline of the West

There are several ways of looking at last week’s Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. One is that it’s a great moment for civil rights. Another is that it signifies the continuing decline of the West. Personally, though, I prefer to dwell on its comicality.

Of course the automatic reaction to the same-sex marriage decision by almost all straight people is (in the immortal formulation of Seinfeld) “Not that there’s anything wrong with it!” Who wants to be thought insensitive or be branded as a homophobe? So folks will nod along with the claim that same-sex marriage is really no different from traditional marriage. But the fact remains that same-sex marriage will never be anything but a smudgy copy of traditional marriage, and everybody knows it.

Gay Americans are so busy emoting, waving rainbow flags, etc. that they haven’t stopped to ask themselves just what it is that the high court has proclaimed. Has it indeed conceded to them the same access to the institution of marriage that straight people enjoy? The justices may say yes but nature’s laws dictate otherwise. Marriage as traditionally defined—the union of one man and one woman—relies first and foremost on the biological support of the organism.  Here I must sin against postmodern orthodoxy by pointing out that men and women are biologically and psychologically different. But perhaps I can redeem myself in the eyes of the postmodern Left by borrowing from Kant, Hegel and Marx: The interplay of those differences—the male thesis and the female antithesis—yields the synthesis that we call marriage. Everything that is characteristic of marriage qua marriage derives from this.

Now obviously two men and two women can’t replicate this dialectical process. True, the partners may have different personalities. But biology is destiny. Though a gay man is sexually attracted to men, not women, his sex drive remains masculine, i.e. promiscuous. What, therefore, is a gay man’s rationale for marriage, particularly in his younger years? Love? Justice Anthony Kennedy seems to think so but I wonder. It seems to me more probable that the majority of male/male same-sex marriages will take place in late middle age, after the parties have sown their wild oats. For gay men same-sex marriage will turn out to be a form of sexual retirement.

Then there’s the question of children. Heather will have two mommies, Johnny will have two dads and what’s wrong with that? Nothing except that it can’t happen in the normal course of biological events. The old crack that a human being can be produced cheaply by unskilled labor doesn’t apply to same-sex marriage. If a gay married couple wants children, some third party will have to be present at the creation: a sperm donor, a surrogate mother, a fertility clinic, an adoption agency. Parenthood by committee—doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? But the main point is that same-sex parenting is expensive, as women past their peak childbearing years who want children and need similar support can attest. So don’t look for too many happy young same-sex parents in their twenties and thirties.  The kids will come later in life—much later—and there won’t be many of them. That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

These being weighty considerations, what’s so funny? Where’s the element of comedy? Well, the morrow of victory is often good for a laugh. Already, as gay Americans savor their great victory—for such it was, there’s no denying it—the worm of discontent has performed a prefatory slither. Andrew Sullivan, an early and passionate supporter of “marriage equality,” laments that society’s embrace of gays is likely to be fatal to gay culture. He has a point. In times past when gays were marginalized and discriminated against, a space existed for a distinctive gay culture and lifestyle. Being gay meant something; it gave one a certain take on things, One of the most memorable conversations I’ve ever had with a chance-met stranger was in Provincetown, Massachusetts, many years ago, in a bookstore. I was perusing a copy of John Fowles’ The Magus. Noticing this, the store clerk, a young man who was obviously if not flamboyantly gay, asked me if I’d read it. (I had.) For the next fifteen minutes we chatted amiably about Fowles and John Le Carré and Brave New World. He had some interesting things to say about the latter, e.g. how Huxley’s hedonistic dystopia was so boringly heterosexual. But it would be, wouldn’t it? I replied, and saw that he took my point.

So maybe that’s the trade-off—because there’s never any free lunch, to get you have to give. Gays are about to be reminded of the truth of this truism. They constitute a mere two or three percent of the US population and their visibility has always depended to some extent on the existence of a concept of gayness—not biological but cultural and even ideological. Probably that culture and ideology will enjoy a continued if zombie-like existence in university departments of queer studies and the like. Out here in the real world, though, it seems likely to wither away.

Gay Americans have access to the institution of marriage now, with all the uncertainties and complications thereunto appertaining. Human nature being what it is, a barrage of grumbling and bitching is certain to follow. And that makes me smile.


Posted by tmg110 at 12:00 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 1 July 2015 4:17 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Three for Three
Topic: Liberal Fascism

That characteristic progressive hat trick—malice, hypocrisy, stupidity —is well on display amid the Sturm und Drang of the Confederate flag controversy.

Can there be the slightest doubt that the progressive jihad against the Confederate flag is attempt to exploit a gruesome crime for ideological purposes? Hah! Everybody—everybody—knows that the flag had nothing whatever to do with the racism-inspired mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. But it so happened that the shooter had a Confederate flag plate on his car and that was a sufficient pretext for a political purge. Anyone who displays the Confederate flag or honors the history and heritage of the American South is henceforth to be reviled as a traitor and a racist. Malice: check.

Still, should we not concede that the hatred directed by progressives at a divisive symbol that recalls a dark chapter of American history is sincere? I think not. Progressives had a reasonable, defensible demand available to them: that the Confederate flag ought not to enjoy official recognition by government at any level: local, state or national. Black Americans, after all, have good reason to view it with detestation as a symbol of slavery, oppression and racism. Therefore its presence on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol, in the canton of the state flag of Mississippi, etc. is clearly inappropriate. Be it noted however, that progressives did not restrict themselves to that reasonable position, with which I happen to agree. No, instead we got an outburst of hatred: hysterical charges that anyone who displays the Confederate flag is a racist and a traitor, demands that the Confederate flag be erased from view and memory, vandalism directed against monuments to the Confederacy, etc. Oh, really? To that I can only say: Get back to me when you’ve burned the last Che Guevara flags and tee shirts, comrades. Hypocrisy: check.

There remains the claim that progressives have been very canny in their exploitation of the Charleston shooting to rip down a symbol beloved of conservative whites in the South. As these people represent everything that progressivism hates, was it not clever to deprive them of their flag? I’m not so sure. Northwest Indiana, where I live, is an area not particularly known for Confederate sympathies. So last Friday I was driving to the grocery story when I spotted a big black pickup truck heading in the opposite direction. Flying proudly—and, I suspect, defiantly—from its bed was the Confederate flag. It wasn’t a small one, either.

Stupidity: check.

Posted by tmg110 at 6:50 AM EDT
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Friday, 26 June 2015
The Bubble That Is Bernie
Topic: Politics & Elections

One difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is that he believes what he’s saying whereas she, probably, does not. The self-described socialist senator from Vermont has a past rooted in kooky radical politics; the former First Lady and Secretary of State abandoned her youthful radicalism decades ago. That’s why the Democratic Party base is gaga for Bernie: progressives just don’t think that Hillary is telling the truth when she pledges to “topple the one percent.” Sanders, though, they recognize as a true believer.

Yes, but just what does Bernie Sanders believe? We know who and what he hates: Republicans, the Walton family (not the TV one), the Koch brothers, hedge fund managers, China and Mexico and trade, etc. and so forth. For sure, Sanders is a good hater. And we know, in general terms at least, what he wants for America: a Scandinavian-style welfare state. To that end, he preaches all-out class warfare. As Kevin D. Williamson put it in a recent National Review article, with Sanders it’s Us versus Them—everywhere, all the time. In short, Bernie Sanders is a good hater.

And that’s the funny thing about him because his political style, his “brothers and sisters” rhetoric, his rants against trade and the Koch brothers, blah, blah, blah, is divisive in a manner that makes his stated objective impossible of achievement. Williamson points out that the Scandinavian-style welfare state is made possible (1) by a broad political consensus and a level of social conformity that from the American point of view is positively stifling and (2) the ethnic/racial homogeneity of the Scandinavian (and most European) countries. To put it another way, the political and social environment necessary for the establishment of a Scandinavian-style welfare state does not and probably cannot exist in a large, diverse country like the United States of America.

Thus the over-the-top class warfare rhetoric of Bernie Sanders, his constant bashing of corporations and the rich, his moralizing quackery, is at cross-purposes with his stated goal. The Sanders campaign is one long exercise in naming and denouncing enemies, a nonstop hymn of hate. Now of course such blather appeals to the progressives of the Democratic Party base who can’t stomach Clintonism. But the belief that it constitutes a plausible political program is, in a word, delusional. Bernie Sanders embodies a bundle of attitudes and emotions, but he has no ideas. Between his boilerplate leftie rhetoric and the Scandinavian-style heaven on earth so earnestly desired by American progressives there is no bridge. Sorry comrades, but you just can’t get there from there.

Posted by tmg110 at 7:37 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 June 2015 7:38 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Ignorance is Strength
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Recently in another Web venue I posted some comments regarding progressivism’s progressive slide into illiberalism, i.e. the renunciation of its commitment to traditional civil liberties like freedoms of speech and association. This disturbing trend manifests itself in many ways and places, from the US Congress to university campuses. Its signs and symptoms are such things as campus trigger warnings and restrictions on political speech, vicious online campaigns of denunciation and persecution aimed at people who transgress progressive orthodoxy, etc. Examples of progressive illiberalism abound and I cited a few.

For this I was denounced by an interlocutor as a purveyor of “fear and hate.”

This individual—his identity does not matter—responded to my defense of free speech in an odd way. I had cited George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” and quoted him to the effect that if freedom of speech means anything it means telling people what they don not want to hear. While professing to agree with Orwell on that point he went on to claim that Orwell had a problem with free speech. I scoffed at this, whereat my interlocutor cited another Orwell essay, “Notes on Nationalism.”

Like almost everything that Orwell wrote, “Notes on Nationalism” remains well worth reading but it certainly does not include a critique of freedom of speech. I pointed this out and was thereupon invited to participate in a “discussion” of the essay. Having already been accused of spreading “fear and hate” I felt that such a discussion would not be fruitful, and called it a day.

If anything, both “Politics and the English Language” and “Notes on Nationalism” embody a devastating critique of the mind-set that has pushed progressivism in an illiberal direction. The former deals with the corruption of language by ideology; the latter deals with the irrationality of ideological conformity. No one at all familiar with George Orwell will have difficulty imagining what he would have thought, for example, of the current jihad against the “culture of rape” on campus—a campaign based on bogus statistics and driven by mob hysteria in the style of the Two Minutes Hate. In this, as in so many other manifestations of illiberal progressivism, he would undoubtedly have recognized the spirit of Ingsoc, Newspeak and doublethink: willful ignorance reinforcing blatant dishonesty.

In exchanges of this kind with progressives, you really have to expect to be denounced at some stage as a hater, a fearmonger, a bigot, a sexist, a homophobe, a fascist, etc., etc. The name-calling usually starts when you’ve made a cogent point and once the vitriol has been flung it’s time to head for the exit. Why bother to hang around? After all, has not your interlocutor reinforced your point?

I have no doubt, incidentally, that George Orwell would find much to dislike in contemporary conservatism. But characteristically he would judge conservative principles on their merits for, as he said, no argument can be said to be refuted until it has been given a fair hearing. But this classically liberal attitude is one that illiberal progressivism not only violates in practice but rejects in principle. Fear and hate? Those are the twin pillars of a twisted, ugly ideology that falsely advertises itself as liberal, enlightened, rational and compassionate while viciously persecuting the dissenter, the heretic and the unbeliever.


Posted by tmg110 at 11:06 AM EDT
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Sunday, 21 June 2015
Strike the Confederate Colors
Topic: Decline of the West


One again, this time in connection with the racist mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, the vexing issue of the Confederate flag has reared its ugly head. On the grounds of the state capitol in Colombia the Confederate Battle Flag, also known as the ANV (Army of Northern Virginia) Battle Flag, flies near the Stars & Stripes and the state flag of South Carolina. This flag, red with a white-bordered diagonal blue cross bearing eleven stars, was adopted by the Army of Northern Virginia in 1861 because the first national flag of the CSA (Confederate States of America), the so-called Stars & Bars, too closely resembled the US flag. It was thought that amidst the smoke and confusion of battle it might be mistaken for the Stars & Stripes. Several versions of the ANV Battle Flag were produced during the war, most of them similar to the one that flies today over Colombia.


The Stars & Bars was never popular and in 1863 the CSA adopted a new national flag: white with the ANV Battle Flag as a canton. This, the so-called Stainless Banner, lasted until 1865 when, with the war nearly lost it was modified by the addition of a vertical red stripe on the fly. In the decades following the war ANV Battle Flag evolved into a potent political and cultural symbol, expressing the South’s determination to defend its identity and maintain its traditions. Among these traditions was racial segregation in the form known as Jim Crow.


Not surprisingly, black Americans regard the Confederate flag as a symbol of oppression, racism and hate. The flag’s defenders claim on the contrary that its display merely honors Southern heritage, specifically including the heroism of the soldiers of the Confederate armies. Several southern states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi—have incorporated the Confederate flag or its design elements into their state flags and there are periodic protests against this. (Georgia’s flag was recently changed for this reason.)


That slavery was the basic, fundamental cause of the Civil War is an inarguable fact. The admittedly heroic soldiers of the Confederate armies, whether they owned slaves or not, were defending what the South was pleased to call its “peculiar institution.” They were fighting, that is to say, to keep blacks in bondage and the flag under which they fought symbolized that cause. Thus American blacks have good reason to regard the Confederate flag with the same detestation that Jews would no doubt direct against a display of the flag of Nazi Germany. Still, hurt feelings are no justification for restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, of which flying a flag is an example. To outlaw the Confederate flag, to tell individual citizens and private groups that they have no right to fly or display it, would be un-American.


But the use of the Confederate flag by governments—national, state or local—is something else again. Placing an official seal of approval on a symbol that for weighty historical reasons is hateful to a segment of the citizenry is un-American also. Our country’s motto—E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one)—encapsulates a principle of national unity that is contradicted when government at any level embraces such a divisive symbol as the Confederate flag. Let private citizens do as they wish. But in Colombia and anywhere else where they fly by government permission or fiat, let the Confederate colors be hauled down.

Posted by tmg110 at 11:34 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 June 2015 11:42 AM EDT
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