Category Archives: Social Commentary

Trump’s Support

Clive Crook has it right:

The first theory, if it were true, would be an argument against democracy. If tens of millions of Americans are racist idiots, how do you defend the popular franchise? That isn’t a sliver of reprehensible people who’ll be safely overwhelmed when elections come around. And there’s plainly nothing, according to the first theory, you can say to change their minds. Why even go through the motions of talking and listening to those people?

This sense that democratic politics is futile if not downright dangerous now infuses the worldview of the country’s cultural and intellectual establishment. Trump is routinely accused of being authoritarian and anti-democratic, despite the fact that he won the election and, so far, has been checked at every point and has achieved almost nothing in policy terms. (He might wish he were an authoritarian, but he sure hasn’t been allowed to function as one.) Many of his critics, on the other hand, are anti-democratic in a deeper sense: They appear to believe that a little less than half the country doesn’t deserve the vote.

The second theory — the correct theory — is a terrible indictment of the Democratic Party and much of the media. Why aren’t the intelligible and legitimate opinions of that large minority given a hearing? Why must their views be bundled reflexively into packages labelled “bigotry” and “stupidity”? Why can’t this large minority of the American people be accorded something other than pity or scorn?

Those who scorn Trump’s supporters might argue that none of their opinions are in fact intelligible or legitimate. After all, don’t their views on immigration boil down to racism and white supremacy? What about their idea that the Charlottesville protesters and counter-protesters were morally the same? Or their morbid fear of change? Or the hypocrisy of their opposition to “big government,” when everybody knows that Trump-voting states such as West Virginia are the biggest net recipients of federal money? If you read the New York Times, you know they have an endless supply of stupid, evil opinions.

In fact, this automatic attribution of stupidity and bad faith is just another kind of bigotry.

Yes, and it’s the kind that gave us Trump, and will continue to do so, because they can’t help it. As Glenn notes, a key element of being a leftist is the psychic income of feeling morally superior to better, happier people than you. I just wish that we could have gotten a Trump that is just as harsh on the media and the left, but did so in a less ignorant and buffoonish manner. I could certainly do it.

New York University

This account of life there reads like something from the Soviet Union:

This is daft, certainly. Even funny, in a macabre way. But it also raises a serious point: the university experience in America is now not one that will adequately prepare students for real life. In real-life democracy, people disagree — and normally they don’t die or suffer emotional injury because of it. In normal life, there’s no reason not to like someone with whom you disagree politically. On campus, opinions are often ontology: you are what you think. But this is dangerous logic: if I hate what you think, I must hate what you are.

Who is going to want to hire these people?

[Update a few minutes later]

“American higher ed is rapidly becoming a worldwide joke. What if the high-dollar foreign students stop coming?”

[Update a couple minutes later]

This seems related: Video shows that Millennials support socialism even if it results in starvation.

Totality

Here’s the difference between 99% and 100%.

[Friday-morning update]

“I’ve always thought eclipse chasers—these people who spend thousands of dollars flying around the world to spend two minutes looking at a solar eclipse—were a little nutty. I mean, that’s a little extreme, right? If you want to see what a solar eclipse looks like, type solar eclipse into Google.”

I was wrong.”

Mass Hallucinations

Some thoughts from Scott Adams on both Trump and Obama derangement:

The first rule of communicating is that people only hear what they think you intend to say. They don’t hear what you actually say. If you think someone is a racist, you will perceive their disavowals of racism as too late and too inadequate. If you think someone is not a racist, you might see their statements as politically incorrect and nothing worse. This phenomenon is most pronounced when strong emotions are involved. The topic of racism stirs our strongest emotions. So according to everything we know about brains, we should expect the highest level of hallucinations when racism is the topic. And that is exactly what we observe.

To be clear, racism itself is very real. The hallucination is limited to seeing it under every bed and behind every couch.

It applies to anti-anti-Trump derangement, too. I don’t think that Trump is a racist, but I’m sure a lot of people imagine I do because I think he’s so terrible in many other ways.

Accuweather

Don’t use their app.

Still installing stuff on my new phone, but very carefully. I just started installing a voice recorder, but it insisted on having access to my pictures, the Internet, my location. Why? Nope.

[Update a few minutes later]

This seems sort of related: A statistics professor was banned from Google. It is looking more and more like the old libertarian argument that we have less to concern with private companies than government is getting a little threadbare when it comes to concentrations of power like this.

“Pick A Side”

Yes, definitely pick a side, but Antifa and fascism are the same side:

Partisans of “pick a side” insist that every mention of violence by both right-wing and left-wing thugs is an exercise in “whataboutism.” That is, an attempt to deflect from one’s own sins by invoking the misdeeds of the opposition. In the case of Donald Trump’s hemming and hawing over Charlottesville, that’s likely true. Asked to comment on a terrorist act by a neo-Nazi at a rally of racists and neo-Nazis who have vocally lent the sitting president their support, an invocation of “many sides” sounds an awful lot like whataboutism intended to shift blame from his friends.

But for those of us already calling out the violent bigots flaunting Nazi imagery, it’s not whataboutism to point out that an alleged alternative isn’t actually an alternative at all—it’s just another version of the same thing. As New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg tweeted from Charlottesville, “The hard left seemed as hate-filled as alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.” She later, understandably, changed “hate-filled” to “violent,” since actions are clearer and more important than motivations. And CNN’s Jake Tapper commented that “At least two journalists in Charlottesville were assaulted by people protesting the Klan/Nazi/alt-right rally.”

But is it fair to compare the violent far left in our streets to the violent far right opposing them? The left-wing antifa activists claim to be opposing the powers-that-be.

It’s certainly true that the violent right generally supports President Trump. Given that support, his hesitancy about criticizing even the most extreme Nazi imagery and lethal violence (he did call out “racist violence” two days later, then walked it back) creates the impression that, if he isn’t explicitly sympathetic to the marching morons at Charlottesville, he at least enjoys basking in the scented glow of tiki torches. If we’re balancing dangers on the great scale of suckage, that connection to the White House would seem to make the fascist right the more immediate threat.

But that doesn’t mean we have to pick a competing brand of ideological awfulness as a viable alternative to fascism. The thugs on the left have already proved themselves to be violent and intolerant. There’s no reason to favor one illiberal force over another when our country has a long history based on much different, and much better, political principles.

Yup.