Racism, Axiomatically

  1. Racism in any form is abhorrent.
  2. Anyone can be a racist, regardless of their own race.
  3. Racism, even when rooted in a desire to exact retribution for racism, is unjustifiable, in part because it creates a negative feedback loop that results in increasingly virulent racism.
  4. There are different kinds of racists: some are unrepentant, but others are deeply troubled by their prejudices and seek ways to repress, redress, and expunge them.
  5. To address all racism with a single response is unconstructive. The response must match the situation and the perpetrator.
  6. Racist behavior and actions can and should be regulated by law and government as a matter of protecting the fundamental rights of all.
  7. Racism itself cannot be eliminated by government action or legislation.
  8. Racism often takes insidious forms and can hide behind ostensibly non-racist or even anti-racist behavior.
  9. At the same time, projecting racism into a situation in which it does not exist is as reprehensible as ignoring racism where it does exist, if for no other reason than it undermines efforts to address and eliminate actual racism.
  10. Historically, in the United States, European-Americans have been the primary vector of racism.
  11. That does not mean, however, that only European-Americans can be racist, nor that racism today is found only among European-Americans.
  12. De-legitimizing or ignoring European-American voices in the dialogue about racism is prima facie a racist act, especially as European-Americans undergo the transition to ethnic minority status.




Ease the Hammer

For the record, I think the consumption of pork is an affront to G-d. I think abortion in most cases is morally indefensible. The smell of marijuana in a public place disgusts me. But you will never in these pages read or hear of me calling for bacon to be outlawed, for the re-criminalization of cannibis, or for the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

For all of you who would use the heavy hand of legislation to stop your neighbor from doing something that has been a part of their lives or culture, know this: there are many things that you like doing that your neighbors find objectionable, if not downright sick-making, depraved, and socially dangerous. But we do not try to legislate them out of existence. We understand that tolerance is the handmaiden of liberty.

So the next time you are tempted to show support to a law that will criminalize someone else’s lifestyle, remember: that knife can cut both ways, and it is the nature of history that the further the knife cuts one way, the further it will swing back and slice the other. Deep inside you know this, and this is why books like The Handmaid’s Tale do, and should, scare the living daylights out of any thinking liberal. Payback is an unholy bitch, and all of us would be wise to remember that fact when we are tempted to overmilk the political climate on behalf of our own ideologies.


Right vs. Left in Charlottesville

Let’s get something out of the way: Charlottesville is not about Confederate statues or Robert E. Lee or the Civil War or American history. What happened on Friday night and Saturday is about power, specifically about forcing the great mass of Americans to choose sides in a zero-sum clash between contemporary American versions of Weimar gangs.

Source: Charlottesville Was A Fight Between The Tribal Right And Tribal Left

A plague on both their houses. I choose the center, with a slight lean toward my right shoulder.

Silicon Valley’s Political Culture of Fear

Blind, an anonymous chat app, surveyed over 4,000 employees of Silicon Valley companies in the wake of Damore’s firing to see where they stood on it. Fifty-six percent of the Google employees who participated in the survey oppose Damore’s firing. True, this survey was voluntary, and is therefore scientifically meaningless, but it does make you wonder how many people within Google are upset with what was done to Damore, but who now know that they must keep their mouths shut if they want to avoid the same fate.

Source: James Damore, Diversity Martyr | The American Conservative

I will confess that there have been days when, wandering the pathways of the Google campus in Mountain View, I have felt an occasional longing to work for the company. Not anymore.

No portfolio of perks or vast larder of free snacks could ever offset the value of working someplace rather more obscure that allows me to hold my own opinions, to follow my own path, and to live without fear of being fired for my political views, however incorrect or antiquated.

There is something important happening here, and it may be the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley. How ironic that history will record that the place that grew out of free and open thought will collapse into a heap at the hand of an intellectual orthodoxy as angry as a Jihad.

Airbnb’s Pandora’s Box

For the record, I believe Airbnb has the right to decide who gets to use their service. I would never open my home or property as an Airbnb place precisely because there are all kinds of people I would not want staying in my home (like, for example, neo-Nazis, but also no doubt some people who would pass muster with Airbnb corporate). That said, the idea that a company would search out the political opinions of those wanting to buy its services and blacklist people over them is scary as hell. Where does it stop?

Source: The Airbnb Blacklist | The American Conservative

In a well-intentioned effort to do good (or, perhaps, just to pander to what it sees as its core users), Airbnb has opened a brand new Pandora’s box.

I oppose and reject without qualification the entire white-supremacist political complex that I am now dubbing the “alt-Reich,” because they have no business being legitimized as “conservatives.” They have proven themselves, as a group, to be aught more than neo-fascist thugs.

That said, Rod Dreher raises a good question: if Airbnb is allowed to refuse service to someone because of their political opinions, where does this end?

Here is another question: if a progressive believes that Airbnb is allowed to refuse service to people on the basis of their political affiliations, is the progressive’s opposition to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or, more specifically, the right of a shopkeeper to refuse to offer a service that violates his political beliefs, pure hypocrisy?

Soapbox: The Safe Space Issue

UC Berkeley ‘identity’ groups protest for safe spaces, block passage to white students
The College Fix
October 25, 2016

[Stepping onto soapbox:]

Attention students of the University of California, and, by extension, students of all public institutions of higher learning across this great state:

If you need a space free from debate, from intellectual challenge, and from viewpoints that you find objectionable, I am sorry, but you have come to the wrong place.

As a California taxpayer and a UC alumnus, I am more than happy to pay my taxes to ensure that you are safe from physical harm on campus, and will not tolerate violence against you from any source as long as you do none to others or their property. I will also not tolerate racism, threats of violence, or any form of coercive pressure upon you to conform to a point of view or ethos, whether that coercion is social, physical, or academic. You have every right to expect that there is room for you to state and defend your ideas.

But I will not pay one red cent either to protect you from ideas, opinions, and images you find objectionable, or from having your ideas intellectually manhandled, disproven, and perhaps even ridiculed. You are adults, ostensibly with the discernment and maturity to handle the intellectual challenges that are an integral part of the university experience.

Neither will I support you being sheltered from poor grades, providing they come not because of the opinions you hold, but because of your failure to defend them in accordance with the accepted standards of Socratic debate. Nor will I pay to protect you from poor grades if they are the result of your failure to support your argument to the academic standards that are the foundation of a liberal education.

That is not just my selfish opinion: it is stated differently, but that’s the fine print that comes when you sign your name to your enrollment forms.

An American university is not a four-year vocational school for entitled, sheltered, pampered members of the managerial class. It is a program to inculcate in you the intellectual rigor you require to take on positions of responsibility and leadership. That program is conducted via the time-honored means of adversity, challenge, debate, growth, and learning.

So if you lack the requisite discernment and maturity, if your own opinions and self-image are so fragile that you are unable to handle intellectual challenge, may I suggest, with love and respect, that maybe you are not yet ready for a university experience, and that perhaps you should pursue a different path until such time as you are ready?

So leave.

Or, better yet, get over it. Go back to class/your dorm/the library/the coffee house. Stand up. Shout your opinions. Make yourself count. Voice your anger. Fight injustice. Go to class. Learn from your professors and your adversaries how to make your voice not just heard but persuasive. And grow.

Because you may not have noticed it, but the world is not a safe place. In fact, it is getting more dangerous by the minute. The only way you will save it is by learning – and learning early – to live in a world filled with people who think, do, and express things that you find personally execrable. More important, you will need to be able to discern between someone who comes to those believes honestly, sincerely, and thoughtfully; and those who espouse their beliefs out of fear, greed, and/or ignorance.

Hail, California, and have a nice day.

[Stepping off of soapbox.]


Is Trump a Neo-Nazi?

I had a good friend send me this article today that draws a direct line between Trump’s messaging on immigration and the rhetoric of the most notorious neo-Nazi and white supremacist websites. After reading it he asked me:

Could the candidate truly be neo Nazi and not know it? That would confirm the power of delusion and clinical megalomania… But do we really believe he’s actually unhinged?

My response was essentially this:

Without doubt, there is sufficient semblance between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, tactics, and mannerisms and those of the Adolf Hitler to trouble anyone familiar with the German elections of 1933. But pegging Trump as a neo-Nazi seems to be going a bit far. Several analysts, many even more disenchanted with Mr. Trump than I, have explained in detail why Trump is neither a fascist nor an American Schicklgruber. Instead, they say, we should see Trump as an American Marie Le Pen or Frauke Petry rather than old Adolf: they are shrill, they play to a small yet fanatical audience, and lack a Dr. Goebbels to help them.

So these nationalists are not yet a Nazi-like threat – not yet, anyway, if polling is any indication. Fourteen days before the US election it seems that the only thing that could change that anytime soon would be election fraud on an unprecedented scale.

Still, the right-wing populists are accelerants for the thuggish undercurrents that too often surface when nominally civilized societies are wracked by change. For Europe and America, Islamism is today what communism was for much of the 20th century: a force threatening to upend the social order and political institutions upon which the West is rooted. Hunting’s clash of civilizations is upon us, but it is playing out in our cities rather than across remote global geopolitical fault-lines.

That issue is real, and it terrifies people. The right is riding that fear, and addressing it in the most rodent-level manner possible. But the blame is shared. The populism of the right is abetted by the haplessness of the Left. Liberal admonishments to tolerate Islam and sympathize with the refugees are no substitute for policies that could address the real security challenges accompanying a wave of migration from West Asia or the integration of groups who live according to rules that challenge the precepts of liberal democracy.

Until the left – and in America, I mean the full spectrum from Hillary to Bernie – acknowledges the threat of Islamism to free societies even as they underscore that Islamism is not Islam, you’ll have people voting for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world who are smart enough to know better but too scared to care.

And if the left does not, and if the right continues to cleave to white supremacy and xenophobia as guiding principles, then it will fall to those of us at the center to craft a wiser path to the future.