The Feminist Iconoclast

Though Camille Paglia is an unwavering Nietzschean, every person even marginally libertarian or conservative should appreciate the personality of this bizarre iconoclast.

Source: The Mencken of Feminism | The American Conservative

I find myself disagreeing with Paglia more often that not, but I love having my beliefs challenged by someone who appears to be intellectually honest and arrayed so stubbornly against the conformism that pervades the American political scene.

 

The New Power Elite

Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson, and the Republican party were not blindsided by opposition to RFRA by gay rights activists. What knocked them back were major corporations, such as Apple, Walmart, and Angie’s List, and organizations such as the NCAA that denounced the law, in many cases announcing boycotts of Indiana.

Source: The Power Elite by Patrick J. Deneen | Articles | First Things

Patrick Deneen

Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen writes powerfully in First Things about the defeat of the RFRA, viewed by most on the Left as legalized bigotry; by most on the Right as an essential defense of the rights of small business owners; and by most of us on the Center-Right as a well-intentioned but probably redundant law that would create more problems than it would solve.

Deneen’s primary point, though, is not a defense of the RFRA (though he makes one later in the article that will do nothing to sway the bill’s critics or fence-sitters like me). It is, rather, to point out that the response to the bill may have shed the first public light on a new elite coalition in the US between corporate America and social libertarians. It is a compelling proposition, but one that needs more evidence than the RFRA to support it.

Our view at the Pacific Bull Moose is rather more nuanced. It is not whether corporations are aligned with Republican causes and candidates. They are. Neither is it that corporations are aligned with Democratic causes and candidates. They are that as well.

Our view is that corporations align themselves to whichever political party or movement offers the the most lucrative commercial prospects. And this is exactly the problem with handing political power to commercial interests: it makes them a political power center that serves a small elite group and is answerable to no one, all while operating in a manner that serves the interests only of themselves, and not the nation as a whole.

Their alignment on both sided of the political spectrum means that it is impossible to align against corporate interests merely by choosing a political side. Their power must be fought on an issue-by-issue, election-by-election basis.

Deneen makes the point that America is devolving into a nation “where the powerful will govern completely over the powerless, where the rich dictate terms to the poor, where the strong are unleashed from the old restraints of culture and place, where libertarian indifference—whether in respect to economic inequality or morals—is inscribed into the national fabric, and where the unburdened, hedonic human will reign ascendant.”

That is a sentiment that should resonate with Americans of every political stripe. And it should frighten us all.

Censorship Can’t Cure Racism

Why laws against hate speech may be counterproductive:

France has put real teeth into laws that punish offensive speech. Yet according to the Anti-Defamation League, 37% of the French harbor anti-Semitic opinions. In the U.S. — which, thanks to the First Amendment, has never banned Holocaust denial or hateful speech — that number is 9%, among the lowest in the world. While this comparison can’t capture all the differences between the two nations, it strongly suggests that punishing expression is no real cure for bigotry, and refusing to punish hateful speech does not lead inevitably to its spread.

Source: Censorship can’t cure racism of Oklahoma frat: Column

Call me crazy, but I’m Jewish and a Zionist, and I’d rather have bands of Palestinian students roving U.S. campuses and spewing anti-Semitic hatred publicly than give up my right to free speech that would allow me to defeat and marginalize them in open, public debate.

Yale and the Apotheosis of Infantile Leftism

“Free speech is all well and good, apparently, when the speaker is a bigoted lunatic from a “marginalized” group; not so good when the person in question is a Yale professor advocating for her students’ freedom to choose a Halloween costume.”

Source: Where Are The Adults at Yale? – Tablet Magazine

Read James Kirchick’s article. It is not perfect – he tries to make too many points at once – but he manages to make many that are worth positing.

First, that there are better ways to handle hateful speech, much less moderate arguments from a “well-meaning child developmental psychologist,” than plead for safe-rooms and the elimination of opposing voices on campus. He did so when he was a student, engaging in open debate without calling for institutional retribution against the individual (or the campus groups that sponsored him) who attacked both his identity and him personally.

Second, that any parallels between what is happening at Yale and the campus uprisings of the 1960s is superficial at best. Five decades ago the demand was for student empowerment and the freedom of speech on campus; now students are demanding protection from emotional pain and the end to free and open debate.

Third, that the current issue at Yale is the natural evolution of an identity politics that has devolved to ” ‘grievance mongering,’ which holds that the relative virtue of an argument is directly proportional to the professed ‘marginalization’ of its proponent,” and that whatever the virtues of such thinking may be, it is inimical to the goals of a liberal education.

Fourth, that the condemnation of such behavior comes not just from conservative old white men, but from acknowledged liberals like President Barack Obama.

And finally, that a university is not and should not be a democracy. It is, rather, an environment run by leading educators with the advice and input of students and primarily for the benefit of those students. Thanks to the efforts of the student movement of the 1960s, those being educated have a vote in the way a university is run. But they do not be pandered to and allowed to run rampant over the operation of the university, if for no other reason than their short-term desires are often at odds with the long-term interests of the university and the wider community it serves.

 

Greg Lukianoff: The New Yorker is wrong about Free Speech

“It’s because The New Yorker has a history of publishing great articles like Packer’s that I was so disappointed to read Kelefa Sanneh’s article, “The Hell You Say,” in the August 10 edition of the magazine. In the article, Sanneh likens free speech advocates (like me, I assume) to “gun nuts,” claims that campus speech codes have mostly been repealed (which is completely false), then bizarrely questions if people can believe in a diversity of belief. Those of us who are big fans of the concept of pluralism found the latter particularly mystifying.”

Source: A Dozen Things ‘The New Yorker’ Gets Wrong about Free Speech (And Why It Matters) | Greg Lukianoff

Read both Sanneh’s article and Lukianoff’s rebuttal. At the very least, Sanneh makes good points badly.

American Incompatibility

“Alasdair Macintyre is right,” he said. “It’s like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion.” What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.

via After Obergefell, Revisiting Prof. Kingsfield | The American Conservative.

I don’t consider myself to be on the far right of the American political spectrum. If anything, I’m one or two campsites to the right of the American center line.

But I spend my life worrying about exactly what MacIntyre and Rod Dreher are talking about. America is increasingly two countries, and we aren’t spending enough time weaving the connective fabric to hold the two together and draw them closer.

Compromise is a singularly American virtue. It is time we all rediscovered it before it is too late.

It’s On

Quote

What John Lennon poetically wished for, an end of biblical religion, the progressives will now openly declare. The platform they are nearly at, and will be at soon, is to remove all tax breaks, and to criminalize all non-private religious expression and practice on the basis of debased “public-reason test” thinking. It’s on.

Carl Eric Scott
via ‘Your Frame Is Too Small’
Rod Dreher
The American Conservative
April 30, 2015

Krugman’s Problem: Naked Partisanship

Knowledge Isn’t Power”
Paul Krugman

NYTimes.com
February 23, 2015

Paul Krugman has written a thoughtful piece about the link between education and inequality in The New York Times. I do not agree with all of it, but his core point – that educational reform is no panacea for the issue of growing inequality – is well taken.

A friend of mine from the Left wondered why his op/ed wasn’t being given more attention. I told her it was simple: Krugman held his audience right up until the end, when he said:

It’s not hard to imagine a truly serious effort to make America less unequal. But given the determination of one major party to move policy in exactly the opposite direction, advocating such an effort makes you sound partisan. Hence the desire to see the whole thing as an education problem instead. But we should recognize that popular evasion for what it is: a deeply unserious fantasy.

There is no reason to turn this discussion into a GOP-bash, but Krugman apparently cannot resist. Problem one is that he is wrong: support for corporate tax holidays, corporate welfare, and and a tax-free Wall Street demonstrably extends deep into the ranks of both parties on Capitol Hill – rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.

But the larger problem is Krugman’s desire to define the policy discussion in partisan terms. Turning honest debates about policy into opportunities to score partisan points does neither the debate nor the country any service. It forecloses opportunities to build bi-partisan coalitions around policy. And that is important: history has proven that we do not solve problems in America by giving one party or another dominance over government. We solve problems by forging debates and policies that rise above partisanship and engage the nation as a whole.

I have met Paul Krugman, and find him both intelligent and personable. It is a pity he finds it more important to employ his thinking as a means to divide the nation rather than to appeal for a debate about policy that transcends ideological squabbling. By doing so, he has made himself part of the problem, not part of the solution.