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?

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What is the West?

Broadly speaking, what we call the West are the countries and peoples formed by the meeting of Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Hebrew religion. There’s a great deal of diversity within the West, but religion, ideas, art, literature, and geography set it apart from other civilizations.

Rod Dreher
Yes, They Really Do Despise Their Civilization
The American Conservative

Louis Farrakahn Likes What He Sees in Trump

“Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m looking at,” the Nation of Islam leader said.

Source: Farrakhan praises Trump for rejecting ‘Jewish’ money | TheHill

The quote that speaks volumes. First David Duke, now Louis Farrakhan. It seems that Mr. Drumpf strikes a chord with racists of all persuasions.

By the way, please tell me that I’m not the only one to notice distinct similarities between the uniform of the Fruit of Islam and that of the Nazi Brownshirts.

The Limits of “Mansplaining”

 

It is a fact universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of an opinion must be in want of a correction. Well, actually, no it isn’t, but who doesn’t love riffing on Jane Austen? The answer is: lots of people, because we’re all different and some of us haven’t even read Pride and Prejudice dozens of times, but the main point is that I’ve been performing interesting experiments in proffering my opinions and finding that some of the men out there respond on the grounds that my opinion is wrong, while theirs is right because they are convinced that their opinion is a fact, while mine is a delusion. Sometimes they also seem to think that they are in charge, of me as well of facts.

Source: “Men Explain Lolita to Me,” Rebecca Solnit, Literary Hub

I can understand Rebecca Solnit’s frustration. Even in these “modern” times, there is no shortage of men who will discount the opinion of a woman because of her gender, sometimes without even realizing that they’re doing it. Neither men nor women should hesitate to raise a flag when it happens.

At the same time, it should be apparent to the wise reader that not everything that might feel like “mansplaining” is actually a manifestation of paternalist condescension. At the risk of appearing to be “mansplaining” myself, a few commonsense points to keep in mind ere using that term:

  1. There are people – men and women – who believe they are right and you are wrong and with undisguised condescension will tell you so in no uncertain terms, even when they are so wrong that it beggars belief. 
  2. Those people can and will do so without respect to your gender, race, creed, color.
  3. The behavior pattern described above is not limited to white men. Indeed, I have been the victim of such behavior from men and women of caucasian, Asian, and African-American derivation. I have dated women – one Asian woman in particular – who treated every word that came out of my mouth as wrong, and felt the compulsion to enlighten me, the ignorant barbarian. I know for a fact that she has behaved in a like fashion to men who were older, wiser, and wealthier than I.
  4. In many cases, such behavior is rooted in arrogance. But often when we encounter such pushback, it is because we ourselves are actually wrong, and we refuse to see it.
  5. The real universal truth – apologies to Jane Austen – is that a person in public possession of an opinion must be in want of correction. To have an opinion and state it publicly is a prima facie invitation for people to either agree or disagree with you. (For proof, spend a morning looking at Facebook or Tumblr.) That they don’t agree doesn’t make them bad. It simply means they take issue with your opinion, which, however sincerely held, is probably not universal. In the words of Sergeant Hackler, “opinions are like assholes: everyone’s got one, and they all stink.” This is why blogs have comment sections.
  6. All of us need to get over the sanctity of our opinions. The beauty of free speech is that we can have our own opinions. The ugliness of free speech is that we grow so attached to them that we cling to them even when the preponderance of facts proves us wrong.
  7. Opinions may at times be supported by facts, but we confuse the two far too often.

I will grant that all of the above is apocrypha and opinion. You are cordially invited to disagree. Ms. Solnit, for her part, might well take the above as a “mansplain,” prima facie evidence that I am an anti-feminist, and then dismiss me out of hand.

“Mansplaining” happens, and when it takes place in the context of an individual rejecting the opinion of a woman out of hand, it is wrong. Yet we must acknowledge that this is a negative behavior for which white straight men cannot claim anything approaching a monopoly.

What is more, the implicit danger of a term like “mansplaining” is that it is so vague and haphazardly applied that they can undermine debate, compelling some people (straight white males) to self-censor for fear of appearing sexist, and others to dismiss out of hand the opinions of people with that same gender, race, and orientation. The indiscriminate condemnation of a white male rebuttal to the opinion of a woman or person of color “mansplaining” only serves to label every straight male opinion as illegitimate, irrelevant, or worse.

Finally, you do not win the war for civility and tolerance by fostering more incivility and discrimination. That is the line Ms. Solnit and others like her must tread with care, lest it serve only to replace old hurts with new ones.

 

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.