Over the transom today from our reader Henry is this piece by Thomas Sowell. The points it makes are utterly simple and obvious — and utterly at odds not only with our prevailing social orthodoxy, but with the stated policies of the Obama administration, and even the recent jurisprudence of our Supreme Court.

How long can a society persist in denying the plainest and most self-evident realities? For far longer, it seems, than you would ever have thought possible, if you were an intelligent person raised at any time in history prior to the last half-century.

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The Siege of Istanbul

I’m off to Vienna later this week; it seems timely.

After the Turks were driven back from the heart of Europe, progressive modernism gradually expanded its range. The Sublime Porte’s senescence deepened — the shrinking Ottoman Empire began to be known as “the sick man of Europe” — and finally the unthinkable happened: the last of the Ottoman sultans, Mehmed VI, fled Turkey in 1922, bringing to an end an Islamic imperium that had lasted over six centuries, and that at its height stretched from Algiers to the Persian Gulf, from Budapest to the Horn of Africa, and that girdled most of the Mediterranean and all of the Black Sea. Once, Islam’s scimitars had cut a bloody path all the way to Vienna; now Europe, at least in the form of secular modernization, had taken Byzantium once again.

It was always a fragile conquest, though. Islam, even when it appears subdued, is a sullen and resentful subject that chafes and grumbles under secular rule. The ascendant empire of progressive Westernizing modernity seemed for some time, however, to be consolidating its hold on its newly conquered territory: if you look at pictures from Tehran or Kabul from the 1960’s — particularly photographs with young women in them — you might think you were looking at any European city.

But that veneer of modernity was only held in place by the pressure of power — in Iran, by the power of the U.S.-backed Shah, and in Turkey, by the power of the Kemalist military, who in the second half of the twentieth century staged repeated coups to preserve the artificial secular order against the relentless organic force of Islam.

Now it is universalist Western progressivism that is the “sick man”. It is dying of what I have called ACIDS — Acquired Cultural Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. The disease has rendered it unable to make the necessary discriminations — between food and poison, friend and foe, and Self and Other — that any living system must make in order to survive.

The collapse of empires is centripetal, and so the empire of modernity began to fail at its edges. There could never have been a secular Turkey without a strong secular West to act as the seat of empire, but now progressive Europe itself is dying of its inability to maintain its external membrane — which has led, quite naturally and predictably, to an opportunistic infection by alien pathogens.

As secular universalism dies in Europe and Turkey, it will be replaced — as we see already beginning to happen — by the older, organic order that it, for a time, so successfully overwhelmed. This weekend’s events in Turkey will mark, I think, the end of Europe’s century-long ideological occupation of what was once the heart of the Muslim world. That ideology will not even occupy Europe, I think, for much longer — though whether it will be succeeded there by a resurgent and virile identitarianism, or by exhaustion and dhimmitude, remains to be seen.

Expansion, contraction, rise and fall, back and forth — from Suleiman the Magnificent at the gates of Vienna, to miniskirts in Kabul; from Mehmet to Ataturk to Erdogan — where will the pendulum swing to now?

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When You Strike At The King…

The coup in Turkey has failed. Naturally, Mr. Erdogan is consolidating his power, and is rounding up his enemies. The fog is still thick, though.

Was it a false-flag job? Erdogan is blaming the exiled dawa jihadist Fethullah Gülen — who, from his compound in Pennsylvania, leads a large and subversive faction in Turkey. Some reports have suggested that the coup was attempted in haste because word had leaked out of an impending purge of Gülenists in the military.

Who knows? Not me. Both stories seem plausible. If I were Erdogan, and wanted to make a truly effective purge, I’d want to get public sympathy on my side, and what better way to do so than to fake a coup first, and blame it on Gülen? But the other account — that leaders of a Gülenist faction in the Turkish military got wind of a coming purge, and figured that a coup, however ill-prepared, was a better chance than waiting for the axe to fall — makes sense too.

Learn more about Mr. Gülen here.

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The Ankara Reichstag?

By now you have heard that there has been a coup attempt in Turkey. The situation is still chaotic, but it appears that in Istanbul at least, the coup is failing, with soldiers surrendering their weapons to police. President Erdogan was reported earlier to have left the country, but now we hear he is in Istanbul.

What to expect next, if the coup fails (which I think it will*): Erdogan will declare emergency powers. It would be almost without historical precedent for him not to do so. Moreover, he would be a fool not to do so, and he is not a fool. (“Never let a crisis go to waste.”)

I would not be surprised to learn that this was a false-flag operation, though of course that’s pure speculation. Erdogan, who is no secularist, once said that “democracy is like a train; you get off once you have reached your destination.” Perhaps he decided to take the express.

We live in interesting times.

*Note: why did I think, almost from the beginning, that the coup would fail? Because as far as I could tell, the rebels did not control the media quickly and completely. That suggested that they were not well-organized enough to succeed — or that the coup was never intended to succeed.

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Mr. Nice Guy

Yet another jihadi massacre in France last night. Eighty-four are dead as I write; the number will rise. What can I say that I haven’t said before?

Not to worry, though — the Huffington Post has the answer:

Yup, we’ve got ’em right where we want ’em. Some prayers, a hashtag or two, lots of flowers and candles, and maybe a visit by David Crosby or Judy Collins ought to finish this whole thing off.

What will actually happen: Fear will win, peace will lose.

I’ll say something I have said before: to allow mass immigration of Muslims is the stupidest and most irreversibly self-destructive thing that any Western nation can do.

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Some science items for today:

With race front and center in every news cycle, it’s good to be prepared for encounters with those who insist that race is “only a social construct” (many of whom also spend all their waking hours totting up accounts of how one race is doing compared to another). Readers of this blog will know that our editorial position is quite the opposite: that cultures are part of the “extended phenotype” of different human populations, and so it’s more accurate to say that societies are racial constructs, rather than the other way round. (This is because, as John Derbyshire has succinctly put it, different human groups “are bound to express different statistical patterns on any heritable traits, which would include traits of behavior, intelligence, and personality.”)

You may run into a particular, brainy subset of such people who will, in support of their belief in human universalism, produce Richard Lewontin’s famous observation that genetic markers vary more within populations than between them. This is true — but it misses the point so dramatically that the wishful generalization he erected upon it has now come to be known as Lewontin’s Fallacy. (You might also hear about Stephen Jay Gould’s antiracist tract The Mismeasure of Man, which has now been so thoroughly discredited that it is held up as a sterling example of exactly the sort of scientific bias that the book had purported to expose.)

The problem with Lewontin’s claim is that it examines only particular genetic markers, which indeed can vary broadly within groups. What it overlooks, though, is that what distinguishes populations are correlations between large numbers of markers — and when one surveys the genome more inclusively, populations are easily differentiated by these patterns of correlation. (Which is, of course, exactly what you’d expect: given the obvious differences in their phenotypes, it would be odd indeed if there weren’t a consistent way to distinguish, say, a Korean’s genome from a Dinka’s.)

Here, then, courtesy of the Unz Review, are two good items on Lewontin’s Fallacy, from Peter Frost and Razib Khan.

Perhaps the simplest argument against Lewontin’s Fallacy is to point out that if what he says is true, then it should be well-nigh impossible to determine population-group ancestry by DNA — but of course companies like 23 And Me do this very successfully, with ever-increasing precision.

Race is fluid, and like everything else in Nature it has fuzzy edges, but it is most certainly real. It is no more of a “social construct” than sex, or intelligence. But do keep in mind, as the tireless scholar hbd*chick reminds us:

there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences!

Next up, here’s a related item about genetics and parenting.

Moving on to other topics, here’s something I hadn’t heard about before: hyperuniformity. The messy boundary between order and chaos is an interesting place.

Here’s a puzzling item for you: a man with almost no brain at all. (He’s no genius, but to quote Dr. Johnson: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”)

Finally, with hat-tips to our commenter Henry, here are two items: Global E-mail Patterns Reveal “Clash of Civilizations”, and a new theory of life.

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The Problem

Scott Adams (a keen observer whom you may know as the creator of Dilbert) offers an interesting explanation as to why the Democrat-Republican dispute over gun control is so intractable:

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime.

On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense.

If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible.

But we do know that race and poverty are correlated. And we know that poverty and crime are correlated. And we know that race and political affiliation are correlated. Therefore, my team (Clinton) is more likely to use guns to shoot innocent people, whereas the other team (Trump) is more likely to use guns for sporting and defense.

That’s a gross generalization. Obviously. Your town might be totally different.

So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”

It’s a simplification, yes — but like all helpful simplifications, it picks out natural categories very effectively, and does a lot of heavy lifting. Read the rest here.

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Obama Consoles A Grieving Nation

Absolutely shameless race-baiting and anti-gun demagoguery by Barack Obama today as he spoke in Dallas, ostensibly to mourn the racially motivated murder of five white police officers by a black assassin.

What a crabbed and venomous man he is. What a pestilence he is on the nation he despises.

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For All You Logolepts

With a hat tip to our man Mangan, here’s a little vocabulary test.

Race, Violence, and the Police

Despite more than seven years of enlightened rule by a saintly mixed-race President, race relations in America seem worse than ever. Celebrities take to the national airwaves to blame “whiteness” for all the world’s ills, and in particular for all the frustrations, disappointments, and social afflictions of everyone who isn’t white. Moreover, if you were to gather your information only from mainstream media, movies and plays, academic curricula, best-selling books, and political speeches, you would have no doubt that violence and brutality are, in overwhelming proportions, committed by whites against blacks, and especially by white policemen. The reason for this is, in the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the greatest writer of the last several centuries, that the deepest yearning of whiteness — indeed, almost the only thing that gives white people’s lives any meaning or purpose at all — is to “shatter black bodies”. (If so, it’s hard to imagine how, for example, Sweden kept itself going all those years, but with the way things are going in Sweden now, I suppose that before long the question will be moot.)

The numbers, however, tell a different story. One researcher who has taken on the thankless task of digging into them is Heather Mac Donald. A recent item at The Daily Wire summarizes some of her findings: police killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015; the percentage of white and Hispanic deaths that are caused by police is three times higher than the rate for blacks; the fact that unarmed blacks are more likely to be killed by police is due to their penchant for assaulting officers, violently resisting arrest, and the unfortunate fact that in dense, crime-ridden neighborhoods, innocent bystanders are much more likely to be hit by stray police bullets; black and Hispanic officers are more likely to shoot at black people than white officers are, and are more than three times more likely to fire their guns at a crime scene; and a police officer is eighteen times more likely to be killed by a black person than an unarmed black person is to be killed by police.

You can read the whole thing here. Read also this speech, given by Ms. Mac Donald at Hillsdale college back in April, and her February Washington Post essay on unarmed police-shooting victims.

Meanwhile, eighty-two people were shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend. Fourteen died.

Churchill said: “You must look at the facts, because they look at you.” As a nation, we have embarked on a disastrous departure from reason and wisdom — or even numerical truth — regarding race and violence. When truth becomes taboo — such as the unwelcome truths that underlie the persistent difficulties and disparities haunting race relations in America — then wisdom dies, and our stress and strife are sure to worsen.

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Comey Testifies

I watched with considerable interest James Comey’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today. The reason, of course was his recent recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for: knowingly and intentionally using a private and unsecure email server to conduct State Department business, putting classified information on it (some of which was classified at the highest level of secrecy), exposing this material to hostile actors, putting national security at risk, refusing to cooperate with the State Department’s Inspector General when his office tried to investigate, destroying thousands of emails after an inquiry was already underway (and deleting them so carefully that even the FBI’s forensic experts were unable to recover them), lying about having handed over all of her work emails, and lying about just about everything else having to do with the affair, including lying under oath. (He had some ‘splainin’ to do.)

Let me say first of all that this is an impressive man. He is obviously of high intelligence. He is poised, and he speaks very plainly. It is easy to understand why so many people hold him in such high esteem.

One of the things that he said today, many times, is that he was not interfered with in any way by anyone. If he is a liar, he is a very good one. My inclination at this point is to believe him.

Having already discussed the points Mr. Comey made in his original statement, I won’t rehash them here, except to focus on his reason for not recommending prosecution. The charge that seems most self-evidently applicable is that of gross negligence under the Espionage Act (specifically, 18 U.S. Code § 793 (f)). Director Comey made it very clear indeed that Mrs. Clinton was negligent in her handling of extremely sensitive material. There can also be no doubt that anyone in her position would know very well that there are strict protocols for handling such information — protocols that she clearly, and willfully, ignored.

So why not recommend filing criminal charges, given the facts and the law? Mr. Comey’s answer was that he could not find a clear precedent for such a prosecution.

In purely logical terms, this would make all prosecution impossible, as the first prosecution under any criminal statute is necessarily without precedent. Mr. Comey instead focused on the fact that he could not find “clear evidence” of criminal intent. This seems odd, as it is abundantly clear that Mrs. Clinton intended to create the conditions that put secure material at risk; she was offered a secure State Department email system to use for her business, and refused to do so, opting instead to use an unsecure server in her basement. Mr. Comey himself said that “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position” should have known this was wrong, and very badly so; this appears to leave us only the two conclusions that Mrs. Clinton is not a reasonable person, or that she knew it was wrong.

Which seems more likely to you, readers? That Hillary Clinton is not a reasonable person, or that she is a person who would knowingly do something wrong?

Mr. Comey also said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring this case, but since his remarks many have come forward to say they most certainly would. (See, for example, this sequence of posts by the noted Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, here, here, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/437566/director-comeys-concession-states-prosecute-negligent-homicide?target=author&tid=900151, and here.)

Why, then? If we assume (a) that Mr. Comey is a man of expert competence, (b) that he was not bribed or blackmailed by the Clintons or the Obama apparatus, and (c) that Mrs. Clinton was obviously negligent (at the very least) with her handling of sensitive material entrusted to her care, in violation of Federal law, why would he find such a tortured way to avoid dropping the hammer?

I’ve heard a lot of ideas about this, but I think the most plausible one — several people have expressed it — is that he simply did not want the FBI, and in particular James Comey, to be the one to bring about such an enormous political cataclysm, one that would deflect the course of history. Charles Krauthammer said it well, I think:

When Chief Justice John Roberts used a tortured, logic-defying argument to uphold Obamacare, he was subjected to similar accusations of bad faith. My view was that, as guardian of the Supreme Court’s public standing, he thought the issue too momentous — and the implications for the country too large — to hinge on a decision of the court. Especially after Bush v. Gore, Roberts wanted to keep the court from overturning the political branches on so monumental a piece of social legislation.

I would suggest that Comey’s thinking, whether conscious or not, was similar: He did not want the FBI director to end up as the arbiter of the 2016 presidential election. If Clinton were not a presumptive presidential nominee but simply a retired secretary of state, he might well have made a different recommendation.

Prosecuting under current circumstances would have upended and redirected an already year-long presidential-selection process. In my view, Comey didn’t want to be remembered as the man who irreversibly altered the course of American political history.

And with no guarantee that the prosecution would succeed, moreover. Imagine that scenario: You knock out of the race the most likely next president — and she ultimately gets acquitted! Imagine how Comey goes down in history under those circumstances.

I admit I’m giving Comey the benefit of the doubt. But the best way I can reconcile his reputation for integrity with the grating illogic of his Clinton decision is by presuming that he didn’t want to make history.

I don’t endorse his decision. (Nor did I Roberts’s.) But I think I understand it.

Of course, all of this depends on whether you believe Mr. Comey’s repeated assertion that he was not following orders. But if you do, the other options are few — because his recommendation is incomprehensible. (His one other comment about not recommending charges was that he bent over backward to avoid the appearance of “celebrity hunting” — but of course what he did was to give the even more toxic appearance of deference to power. What he is supposed to do, of course, is simply to enforce the law, without regard to any of that.)

One further note: it became clear in today’s testimony that Mrs. Clinton lied under oath to Congress back in October about what was on her server. Mr. Comey more or less agreed that this is so, but said he hadn’t investigated that, because Congress hadn’t asked him to. I imagine that now they will.

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You Owe Them Nothing

FBI director Comey has just given a statement on his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified email.

We read (my emphasis):

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Got that? Just to be clear, here’s what 18 U.S. Code § 793 says about negligence:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document… relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Note: “…through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody…”; “…having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust…”

On even the most charitable (and completely, utterly, laughably implausible) interpretation — that Mrs. Clinton simply had no idea she was doing anything wrong — has she not amply satisfied these criteria?

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

About what we had expected. But then:

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.

Recall that just above, Director Comey said that it was a felony to “mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way“. So why does intent matter? And even if it does, can anyone doubt that Hillary Clinton intentionally, by approving, creating, and using her own private and unsecured server, removed classified documents from their “proper place of custody”?

How do you square this circle? How can Director Comey, after laying out the criteria for prosecution, then reading us a damning litany of gross malfeasance that would have any of the rest of us clapped in irons, say that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case”? The FBI’s focus on intent is as we see above, irrelevant. The only possible explanation here is politics and power. (And as one online commenter said about Mrs. Clinton in the wake of the FBI’s account of her behavior, “only her withered husk of a soul is preventing her from bowing out of the race in shame.”)

The headlines from the usual Cathedral organs pass over the litany — in the hope that it will recede from memory — and focus on the FBI’s recommendation. Today, President Obama is out on the campaign trail with Mrs. Clinton; he left on this outing even before Mr. Comey delivered his remarks. Would he have done so if he hadn’t known what was coming?

The mask, and the gloves, are off. All pretense of rule of law, representative government, Constitutional order, and respect for the intelligence and opinions of the American people are now publicly shredded. Power is everything — and the Clintons, and the Obama DOJ, have it. They are mocking us, taunting us, jeering at us. We ask for justice and accountability — and they laugh, and snap their fingers in our faces. What are you going to do about it, American citizens?

Here’s one polemic response, posted yesterday by Kurt Schlichter. (It was also linked to by our commenter Whitewall in our previous thread.)

This is how public trust — and, as night follows day, public order — die.

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Happy Fourth!

Here we are again: Independence Day!

The future of the Republic is perhaps more uncertain than it has been at any time since the Civil War. To quote one insightful observer:

More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves in the meanwhile, though. Our annual parade here in Wellfleet was, comfortingly, just the same as always: everything a small-town Independence Day celebration ought to be.

Raise a glass to the great American experiment; let us hope it can still be saved.

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Service Notice

Things might be quiet here for the next few days — the lovely Nina and I are entertaining guests over the Independence Day weekend, and “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” will forbid my spending hours banging away at the computer.

Feel free to chat amongst yourselves, of course.

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The Stock In Each Man Is Small

“You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess that we are generally men of untaught feelings: that, instead of casting away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree; and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that the stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

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More on Brexit

Our previous post on diversity and Britain’s E.U. referendum drew comments both pro- and anti-Brexit.

One charge was that the issue was “decided by the old but it will affect the young.” Yes, the old voted Leave. They did so as a matter of duty and honor, and out of reverence for the sovereignty and institutions of their great and ancient nation. (These being utterly unknown concepts to modern youth, who know their past only insofar as they have been taught to despise it, it isn’t surprising to hear them grumble; expressing grievance is more or less all they are trained to do anyway.)

Another was that the shakeup would have negative economic consequences. Indeed it will. It is understandable that for those who imagine all the world’s people to be perfectly alike and interchangeable, and to whom the very concept of a nation as anything more than a border with an economy is an embarrassing relic of benighted times, economics would be all that matters. But there are those who see nations as the sovereign homelands of particular peoples, and as sheltered havens for the expressions of their unique and precious cultures, traditions, and folkways — and for such people, the idea of selling their children’s right of self-determination to faraway busybodies for twenty pieces of silver was never worth the gain. They took this last chance to reclaim and secure their heritage.

One commenter said: “You can’t have a world-class economy based on tourism, Marmite, and Stilton cheese.” But if that is all England has to offer, then what, exactly, are they offering the E.U.? Is the point here that England is useless and spent, incapable of producing anything that anyone wants, and so its people should be glad to exchange their self-determination for alms in their dotage? What a miserable and insulting vision of a great nation and people. Any Englishman told that this is why he should prefer remaining in the E.U. should spit in his interlocutor’s eye.

In the same comment, we read that “[i]n a globalized world, you can either have prosperity or you can try to go it alone, outside of trade blocs and multilateral groups.”

I have two responses to that. First of all, there is no reason that an emancipated U.K. can’t make trading arrangements as its people see fit — as of course they will.

Second, this comment assumes that a “globalized world” is both desirable and inevitable. It is neither, and the U.K.’s departure from the suffocating regulatory apparatus of the E.U. is a sign that globalism is crumbling. Moreover, engineers who design and troubleshoot complex systems know all too well that to-tight “coupling” is at the root of most catastrophic failures; the tight coupling of globalization makes the world system far more brittle and subject to chain-reaction disasters of every kind, from disease to terrorism to economic collapse.

But it’s really pointless to bicker about this. Your view of Brexit, like so much else, will depend on your axioms, and neither side is likely to persuade the other. As seems true of every aspect of politics today, Brexit exposed the yawning fissure between two wholly incommensurable visions of Western civilization. It is a pity that we live in such fractured times, but here we are.

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Good Diversity, Bad Diversity

Much is being made of the Brexit vote as symptomatic of a rising tide of nationalism. So it is, and so much the better. Anyone who appreciates diversity — the glorious variety of human cultures, customs, and folkways — should applaud, not condemn, the natural human yearning of every people to have a homeland in which their culture can express itself freely and organically.

Where the things that make up a culture — language, moral intuitions, history, folklore, ritual, manners, customs, and all the other idioms that make the world a diverse and interesting place — are broadly shared by a nation’s citizens, then private life and the civil society naturally flow together, social harmony and public trust increase, political faction declines, and liberty — by which I mean the perception of liberty, which is its most meaningful measure — increases. If, by contrast, every nation on earth becomes a chaotic congeries of every culture, then none of those cultures can achieve its full expression, because it collides in the public square with every other culture. What remains of public life is a ‘metaculture‘ stripped to its lowest common denominator. As more — and more alien — cultures are added to the mix, that denominator is driven lower and lower, toward our most basic animal commonalities.

If, then, you really wish to see Diversity as it should be seen, in all its splendor, let every people have a homeland! As everyone everywhere used to understand, that’s what travel is for. And when you are weary of travel, the best part is: there’s no place like home.

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Another One Bites The Dust

I was very sorry yesterday to hear that yet another New York recording studio — Manhattan Sound Recording — will be closing its doors at the end of the month.

As some of you may know, before shifting my focus to software development a few years back, I made my living as a recording engineer (a partial list of my engineering credits is here). MSR — originally Right Track, then Legacy — was always one of my two favorite “big rooms” in the city, if not the world (the other being my alma mater Power Station, which still survives under the name Avatar). I made dozens of records there. The quality of the acoustic spaces, the equipment, the technical maintenance, and the staff were always absolutely top-notch. (You can see some photos of the place here.)

My friend Dave Amlen, whose first venture was another excellent Midtown facility called Sound on Sound, merged his business with Right Track about ten years ago — at which point it was renamed Legacy — then took complete control a few years later. But the studio’s location — on West 48th Street near Times Square — has proved to be a fatal liability: there has been large-scale construction all around for years now, and the noise has made recording impossible.

Thank you, Dave, for giving us, for so many years, such outstanding facilities in which to make music. Only a studio owner who truly loves and understands the arcane craft of record-making could have given us what you did. I’m glad to hear you are planning to open another space in the next year or so, and I look forward to settling in and pushing up the faders.

Read more about MSR and its owner here.

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Independence Day!

The U.K. votes Leave. A great and ancient nation reclaims its sovereignty and its honor, with a great big middle finger to bureaucratic globalism (and some well-deserved mud in Barack Obama’s eye).

To be honest, I didn’t think they still had it in them.

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Banging Their Spoons

Time to stick a fork in, America. Today we have a sit-in in the House of Representatives. A sit-in. (Next they will hold their breaths until they die, and then we’ll be sorry!)

Maybe they should have been given a trigger warning.

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Not Bad!

Donald Trump just gave a corking good speech. Say what you will about the man — and I’d probably agree with much of it — this is invigorating stuff, and refreshing to hear. Perhaps most importantly, he has Hillary Clinton dead to rights.

Read it here.

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Pat Buchanan is a rare voice for restraint in military adventurism. In a strong essay, published yesterday, he pushes back against the idea of going to war against Syria.

A long excerpt (link added):

Some 50 State Department officials have signed a memo calling on President Obama to launch air and missile strikes on the Damascus regime of Bashar Assad.

A “judicious use of stand-off and air weapons,” they claim, “would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

In brief, to strengthen the hand of our diplomats and show we mean business, we should start bombing and killing Syrian soldiers.

Yet Syria has not attacked us. And Congress has not declared war on Syria, or authorized an attack. Where do these State hawks think President Obama gets the authority to launch a war on Syria?

Does State consider the Constitution to be purely advisory when it grants Congress the sole power to declare war? Was not waging aggressive war the principal charge against the Nazis at Nuremberg?

If U.S. bombs and missiles rain down on Damascus, to the cheers of the C-Street Pattons, what do we do if Bashar Assad’s allies Iran and Hezbollah retaliate with Benghazi-type attacks on U.S. diplomats across the Middle East? What do we do if Syrian missiles and Russian planes starting shooting down U.S. planes?

Go to war with Hezbollah, Iran and Russia?

Assume U.S. strikes break Syria’s regime and Assad falls and flees. Who fills the power vacuum in Damascus, if not the most ruthless of the terrorist forces in that country, al-Nusra and ISIS?

Should ISIS reach Damascus first, and a slaughter of Alawites and Christians ensue, would we send an American army to save them?

According to CIA Director John Brennan, ISIS is spreading and coming to Europe and America. Does it make sense then that we would launch air and missile strikes against a Syrian regime and army that is today the last line of defense between ISIS and Damascus?

Does anyone think these things through?

Wherever, across the Middle East, we have plunged in to wage war — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria — people continue to suffer and die, and we are ensnared.

Have we not fought enough wars in this Godforsaken region?

Last week, Russian planes launched air strikes on the rebels in Syria whom we have been arming and training to overthrow Assad.

Said John Kerry, “Russia needs to understand that our patience is not infinite.” But why are we arming rebels to overthrow Assad?

Who rises if he falls? Moscow’s alliance with Damascus goes back decades. Syria provides Russia with a naval base in the Mediterranean. Vladimir Putin’s support for the embattled Syrian regime in the civil war being waged against it is legal under international law.

It is our policy that appears questionable.

Where did Obama get the right to arm and train rebels to dump over the Damascus regime? Did Congress authorize this insurrection? Or is this just another CIA-National Endowment for Democracy project?

Why are we trying to bring down Assad, anyhow?

U.S. foreign policy today seems unthinking, reactive, impulsive.

Sounds correct to me. (It might not have, 13 years ago — but history has since added some new pages to its lesson-book, and I am older, wiser, and better-educated now than I was then.)

Read the whole thing here.

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Vote Leave!

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial today calling (unsurprisingly, given that it is the globalist WSJ we are talking about here) for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union.

The reasons they give are mostly to do with interests other than those of the U.K. itself:

While we hope Britain votes to remain in the European Union, the reasons have less to do with the sturdy British than with the damage an exit could do to a Europe that is failing to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

America’s interests lie in a free and prosperous Europe, and we’ve long thought this is best served with Britain as part of the European Union to balance France and Germany. The British look west across the Atlantic more than continentals, and the Brits have largely been a voice of reason in Europe’s councils.

Certainly true: by my lights, the Brits have been a voice of reason, for the most part, always and everywhere. But as the son of British expats, and as a former citizen of the Commonwealth, I want the British to do what’s best for themselves. And as an ardent supporter of every people’s wish to live in a homeland that expresses their own “extended phenotype“, and as someone with a visceral revulsion for universalist, power-centralizing, power-seeking busybodies, I welcome the prospect that Brexit would, in the WSJ’s words, “be a blow to the confidence and coherence of Europe”. “Europe”, to the WSJ, simply means the E.U., and such a “blow” to that malevolent organization would, rather, be a welcome indication of the growing confidence of the several European peoples that they have the right — nay, the duty), to their ancient heritage and folkways — to stand on their own, and to live under their own rules, rather than the suffocating authority of an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels. If Brexit were to begin a cascade of similar referenda throughout Europe, so much the better. Whether, as the WSJ points out, much of Britain’s problems have to do with local politics rather than with E.U. diktats, is immaterial; Brexit will at least open up the possibility for them to solve them, or not, as the British see fit.

(Unsurprisingly, the WSJ dismisses any concern about immigration.)

It is amusing that the WSJ begins its piece with this:

The British people go to the polls Thursday in their most important vote since they elected Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

Here, thanks to Frontpage, is Mrs. Thatcher on the topic.

Nations feel comfortable in their own nationhood. Pride enables you to do things you otherwise might not be able to do. Europe should be each group in its own national identity. Don’t try to extinguish that. If you try to push people into a mold, you’ll create resentment, and you’re creating it now.

That was in 1992. Were the great lady alive today, she’d be saying: “LEAVE!!”

The WSJ piece is behind a paywall. To read it, do this:

Open an “incognito” browser window, go to Google, and put some of the text in quotes, e.g. “the reasons have less to do with the sturdy British”. Open the WSJ link in the search results. (They’ll probably catch on to this backdoor eventually, but they haven’t yet.)

Finally, with a hat-tip to our friend David Duff, see also this piece from National Review.

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Delivering Us Bound To Our Foe

I do enjoy a good polemic, and Fred Reed’s rants are among the best. His response to the recent act of jihad in Orlando is a fine specimen.

Some excerpts:

Orlando? So what else is new? Why the excitement? I am puzzled that everyone is distraught over a perfectly ordinary act of terrorism by a perfectly ordinary Muslim terrorist. We have seen these attacks before and will see them again. They grow monotonous, like car crashes. They are as interesting as a commercial break.

Why the surprise? We know Muslims kill Christians. We know they stone adulteresses to death. We know they drive airplanes into buildings. We know they mutilate women. We know they bomb airliners. We know they destroy historic monuments. We know they kill their daughters for losing their virginity. We know they kill homosexuals. We know they make coordinated mass attacks on cities. We know they are incompatible with societies of the First World. We know they have no respect for our laws. We know they hate us.

Knowing all of this, what do we do? Why…of course! What else? We import more of them. Nothing could make more sense. Ten thousand Syrians, coming to your neighborhood. Thank you, Obama. Thank you in advance, Hillary.

More precisely, Hussein Obama imports them. A black President with Islamic roots, barely American, who dislikes white people and recruits immigrants of his two ethnicities as hard as he can. We get utterly unassimilable Somalis in Minnesota, and all the Muslims he can find. Fifty gay men have just paid the price.

… From the standpoint of a curmudgeon, to which ashen-souled tribe I belong, the events in Orlando provide the gray satisfaction of confirmation. We in our dismal trade derive no joy from unavoidable sufferings springing from the routine malice of existence—cancer, automobile wrecks, birth defects—but we thrive on the self-inflicted, on the finger-hammerings accompanied by cries of “Ouch!” We observe that Muslims are nothing but trouble anywhere, so we import Muslims. We observe that diversity is the chief source of bitter strife in the world, so we open the borders. When seeking employees, we deliberately hire people who can’t do the job. In our universities we purposely admit those who neither can nor want to learn. Then, when the obvious, the predictable, indeed the inevitable unexpectedly occurs, we insist that it really didn’t, or shouldn’t have, or wouldn’t have, or something, and do it again. In its way it is wonderfully funny.

Unless of course you are among the dead.

Not funny at all, really, to me, but perhaps I am not yet quite as ashen-souled as Mr. Reed. I will say, though, that I feel something of his “gray satisfaction” whenever the Gods Of The Copybook Headings limp up to explain it all once more — but that’s only because I can’t help hoping that finally, some day, we will learn our lesson. (I realize that may be unduly optimistic; it’s starting to look as if no amount of knuckle-rapping is going to get what’s left of this civilization to pay attention in class.)

See also this fine bit of obvious common sense from Thomas Sowell:

Is diversity our strength? Or anybody’s strength, anywhere in the world? Does Japan’s homogeneous population cause the Japanese to suffer? Have the Balkans been blessed by their heterogeneity — or does the very word “Balkanization” remind us of centuries of strife, bloodshed and unspeakable atrocities, extending into our own times? Has Europe become a safer place after importing vast numbers of people from the Middle East, with cultures hostile to the fundamental values of Western civilization?

The answers to Mr. Sowell’s questions, of course, are: no, no, no, no/yes, and no. Read the rest here.

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Returning Fire

With a hat-tip to Bill V, here’s an outstanding essay on “gun control”, written by firearms expert Larry Correia in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre a few years ago. Will it change anyone’s mind? If good sense like this doesn’t, then nothing will. Send it to your friends.

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The True Believer

I just ran across some remarks made a few years ago by globalist uplifter Ottmar Edenhofer, then co-chair of the U.N.’s IPCC Working Group III. This is hardly current, but it’s instructive enough that I thought I’d post it anyway:

So far economic growth has gone hand in hand with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. One percent growth means one percent more emissions. The historic memory of mankind remembers: In order to get rich one has to burn coal, oil or gas. And therefore, the emerging economies fear CO2 emission limits.

Right. Access to cheap, reliable, abundant, portable energy is essential for everything we have come to think of as modern life: clean water, transportation, effective medical care, economic security, productive agriculture, heating and air-conditioning, mitigation of natural disasters, and much more. It is impossible for emerging nations to lift themselves out of poverty without it.

There is no historical precedent and no region in the world that has decoupled its economic growth from emissions.

In other words: Here is something that appears to have been true, without exception, always and everywhere. Any sane person would take that as a very big hint. Not these blokes, though.

…[O]ne must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy… One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore…

Right, then. Thought so. Thank you.


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Here’s the latest from John Schindler on the Clinton email investigation. The skulduggery and conflicts of interest at the highest level of government is — well, I was about to say “astonishing”, but it really isn’t that at all. Dispiriting, at the very least.

That President Obama actually saw fit to endorse this woman, given the state of this investigation and the seriousness of the malfeasance being examined — that’s mighty dispiriting too. But this is what democracy becomes, as the culture decays.

A constitutional question: can a sitting President pardon herself? (It would obviously be an outrage, and violative of the most basic feature of the social contract, namely that a person may not be the judge in his own cause — but is it forbidden?) Imagine what will happen, both publicly and behind the scenes, if charges are brought after Mrs. Clinton is elected and inaugurated. (For that matter, imagine what’s happening behind the scenes right now.)

Monarchy’s looking better and better all the time.

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You Can’t Have Everything

Here’s the gay political gadfly Milo Yiannopolous on the Orlando atrocity (my emphasis):

“I’m not talking about Islamists. I’m not talking about terrorists. I’m not talking about radical Islam. I’m talking about mainstream Muslim culture. There are eleven Muslim countries in which I could be killed for being a homosexual. The state penalty is death. One hundred million people live in countries where the penalty for homosexuality is death. This is not radical Islam. This is mainstream Muslim society. Look what’s happening in Sweden. Look what’s happening anywhere in Germany, anywhere there are large influxes of a Muslim population. Things don’t end well for women and gays. The left has got to make a decision. Either they want female emancipation and it wants gay rights or it wants Islam. It’s got to pick.

This aired on a local CBS station. Good to see.

Also, the hornets are buzzing again for “gun control”. Here and here and here are some responses. (Just for the sake of balance, you understand.)

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The Generic Version

Here’s a video that will change the way you look at… videos that will change the way you look at things.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, Neither Let It Be Afraid

I write a lot about the desperate fix we’re in, and how we got here. I know many of you who visit here are worried and upset about it all. I understand: once you see how broken our civilization is, you can’t unsee it. It becomes very easy just to dwell on it all, and to become very alienated, bitter, and angry.

Please remember this: there is a very great deal of beauty still alive in this world; there is love and friendship and art and music and everything else that makes life worth living. All I want is to know how we got to the predicament we are in, to understand what makes for happy, harmonious and flourishing societies, and to recognize what is worth cherishing and preserving as we move forward into uncertain times. But even in these discouraging days, it’s important to focus on what’s good and right and positive, and to include as much of that in our lives as we can.

We have a choice when we look at the world: we can focus only on what is wrong, and from there it is easy to descend into fury and darkness. But who wants a life like that? Not me, and not, I think, you. Yes, pursue understanding, but also: pursue virtue. Be of good cheer, and help the people around you however you can. Pursue happiness, and good company, and love.

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Worlds In Collision

By now you’ve heard about the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The killer was a Muslim named Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, from a family of Afghan immigrants. As I write, 50 people have died (including the jihadi himself). The count will almost certainly rise, as many are gravely wounded.

Nobody should be surprised by this, and it’s hard for me to think of anything to say that shouldn’t already be obvious. The obvious is now taboo in the West, however, and so I will say a few obvious things:

Many are scurrying to make this a gun-control issue. It is not. Americans have owned guns — lots of guns — throughout the nation’s history, and gun laws were formerly far more lax than they are now. I grew up in rural western New Jersey. Everyone had guns, generally completely unsecured, yet somehow we didn’t slaughter each other. Even today, Vermont, which has almost no gun laws at all, has one of the lowest gun-homicide rates in the nation. Homicide rates have fallen for decades, even as millions and millions of guns have been added to the nation’s private collections. Subtract the gun-homicide rates among urban blacks and Hispanics, and the U.S. gun-homicide rate drops to European levels.

Moreover, the shooting in Orlando, like so many other spree killings, happened in a place where guns are already illegal. Would-be mass shooters know that when they target a “gun-free zone” they will be able to run up the body count before they are stopped. The Pulse nightclub — like Virginia Tech, or that Colorado theater — was one of these soft targets.

In a post about a year ago, I wrote this:

…as someone who has spent his adult life troubleshooting complex systems, I can say this with confidence: unless and until you understand what really causes a problem, you will never reliably fix it.

If you see a system beginning to fail, you must ask yourself: what has changed? If you are asking this about the state of Western society, and particularly American culture, one thing should be very clear: it is not access to guns.

When you alter a formerly organic and mostly homogeneous society by introducing large, and largely unassimilable, alien populations with wholly incompatible ideologies, folkways, biases, religions, axioms, customs, and tribal affinities, the effects will be disharmony, loss of social cohesion, erosion of public trust, faction, disintegration of civil society, and conflict. When one of those populations is Islamic, that conflict will almost certainly include violence and terrorism. Duh.

Am I wrong? Am I being mean to Islam? Thought experiment: Imagine what the world would be like if Islam simply did not exist. Imagine Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. Imagine Europe. Imagine Lower Manhattan. Imagine London, Brussels, Paris, Marseille. Imagine this page not existing. Imagine your airport. Imagine your daily paper. Imagine the Pulse nightclub.

Too unrealistic? OK, then: at the very least, imagine what the West might have been like without a half-century of mass Muslim immigration. Imagine Islam in Islamic countries, and Westerners in Western countries. We had that choice, and we blew it.

Taboo, taboo. I really shouldn’t be saying these things!

OK, I will say this, then: how many conflicting ideas can you hold in your head at once? Here is a tricky triad. See if you can make it all hang together:

1) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, sexual diversity in all its forms of expression.

2) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, multicultural diversity in all its forms of expression.

3) Our society should celebrate, and encourage, peace and harmony and happiness.

Like I said: tricky! This will be on the final. Don’t forget to show your work.

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Name That Blog

I’m thinking of changing the title of this blog. It seemed apt eleven years ago, when I had no idea what the focus would be, but now I’m getting tired of it.

That said, it’s just an itch at this point; maybe I will leave it alone. Comments? Suggestions?

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Trump and Curiel

I know I’m late to the game here, but I find this ginned-up outrage over Donald Trump’s comment about Judge Curiel tremendously irritating. I would chalk it all up to mere cognitive dissonance, of the sort that is essential to maintaining a modern Leftist worldview, but it is really nothing more than another salvo in a hot propaganda war. That many soi-disant conservatives have piled on makes it all the worse. I understand the natural conservative impulse for civility and decorum very well indeed — I feel it strongly myself, and Donald Trump’s habitual coarseness bothers me too — but the stakes are high here, and they are missing the real point in all of this, and choosing the wrong side.

It is a hobby-horse of the Left that race and heritage have a permanent and irresistible effect on one’s worldview. For example, the United Church of Christ — an influential mainline Protestant organization — recently published a list of “10 ways you can actively reject your white privilege.” Rule #10 says:

Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what.

That’s because you’re white. Period.

Look at the aporetic collection of propositions the Left insists on:

1) Race is purely a social construct, with no underlying reality.

2) To assume, merely because of his race, that any individual instantiates any particular cognitive or behavioral properties is racism.

3) Racism is a very great evil, perhaps the greatest evil.

4) White people are all racist: not because of any remediable beliefs or behaviors, but intrinsically and forever, because of their race.

From which it follows, of course, that:

5) White people are irremediably evil.

Much has been made of Sonia Sotomayor’s comments on diversity in the courts. In 2001, the future Justice gave a speech at the annual Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley. (Her remarks there were transcribed by the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal.) Among other things, Ms. Sotomayor said (my emphasis):

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle.

I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Included therein are the following assertions:

1) Judging is not, contrary to what we would like to imagine, impartial. Our personal differences will affect our judgment.

2) Those personal differences are due not only to our cultural embedding and affiliation, but may also be innate (or, in Ms. Sotomayor’s word, “physiological”).

3) “Wisdom” — which is what we seek above all in judges — is not an objectively existing singularity upon which all lines converge, but varies according to the innate and cultural starting-points from which one begins the process of reason.

4) A Latina judge will, in some cases, therefore reach a different conclusion from a white male.

5) That conclusion will, according to the biases, preferences, axioms, and tribal affinities of Sonia Sotomayor, be better that whatever a white male would have done.

There is also a sixth assertion, over which the official organs and supplicants of our modern liberal secular religion swooned with approval:

6) To install a Latina judge on the basis of this argument is therefore a blow against white, male hegemony, and a great leap Forward in our society’s moral progress.

We could argue about Ms. Sotomayor’s assertions on their merits. (I certainly agree with some of them myself.) We like to imagine that the judiciary is impartial and wholly rational; that it is, as in John Roberts’ words, just an umpire calling balls and strikes strictly according to the law. But Ms. Sotomayor is right: there can never be a universal definition of “wise”. (I’ll note, in passing, that this piece of meta-wisdom probably comes as close to universality as it’s possible to get.) She is also right, I think, that “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences… our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.” Indeed, her stated opinions lead quite naturally — perhaps inexorably — to a conclusion that I’ve expressed before in these pages: the conclusion that, rather than race being a social construct, societies are racial constructs.

If Ms. Sotomayor is right, then the extent to which it is possible for judicial wisdom to harmonize with ambient cultural wisdom depends, quite obviously, on the unity of the culture itself. As the culture fragments and disintegrates, a necessary consequence is that the judiciary increasingly becomes a battleground-by-proxy for the factions, tensions, and incompatible worldviews that divide the nation as a whole. The West is very far along, now, in that mortiferous sequence.

All that Donald Trump has done here is to take up Ms. Sotomayor’s principles and to apply them consistently to Judge Curiel. Why, then, is Ms. Sotomayor celebrated, and Mr. Trump reviled? Given Mr. Curiel’s tribal and political sympathies — of which he has made no secret — it is entirely reasonable to think that he would have profound antipathy to a presidential candidate who has spoken so frankly against the very causes that Judge Curiel so actively supports.

Mr. Trump is a blunt man; it seems often that he has no unexpressed thoughts, which is hardly an asset in a statesman. But he is also, in his way, a man of sharp discernment (can one be both blunt and sharp at the same time?), and his disregard of bien-pensant fictions, and his willingness to express unsayable truths, are the basis of his broad appeal. Mr. Trump might easily have found less controversial ways to approach Judge Curiel’s almost certain bias in the case against him, and his remarks have alienated many Republicans who might otherwise have supported him. But his brazen disregard for taboo will almost certainly increase the passion of those who support him as a disruptor of the sclerotic political and cultural status quo.

I’m fond of quoting George Orwell. Here’s another:

In times of universal deceit, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act.

Sadly, we live in such times.

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After the Storm

A brisk cold front blew through the Outer Cape late this afternoon, with dark clouds and heavy rain. As the front went past, just before sunset, the sky opened up on the western horizon, out over Cape Cod Bay. I went out to have a look.

The first thing I saw was a magnificent double rainbow. The sun was low in the sky, and so the rainbow made a mighty arc that seemed to stretch most of the way to the zenith. (No comment from you science geeks; I already know that the primary arc of a rainbow is at 42° from the antisolar point.) It was so big, though, that I couldn’t get it all at once with the camera in my phone.

My first stop was Powers Landing, on Wellfleet Harbor. Here’s the center of that rainbow’s arc:


Read More »

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Goodbye, Columbus

Cambridge, Massachusetts, today joined the list of communities that have renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

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Pleasant Dreams

A shocking story from USA Today.

In Mala Fide

Here’s a good summary of the Clinton email skulduggery.

Can we have an indictment, please? That convention’s getting closer and closer, and I want my whisky.

Round Up The Usual Suspects

Yesterday a friend sent me a link to an item about race over at the Huffington Post. The post is an interview of David Livingstone Smith, a professor of philosophy from the University of New England. The title of the piece is Race Delusion: Lies That Divide Us, so you know where it’s going right up front.

Professor Smith’s argument consists of making a perfunctory nod to the reality of human diversity — then setting up an enormous straw-man, knocking it down, and using a continuum fallacy to deny the existence of race.

First the nod:

The idea that races are invented will probably sound crazy to a lot of people. They’ll think of it as a silly idea that only an academic who’s out of touch with the real world could come up with. Surely, there are visible features such as skin color, hair texture, facial morphology, and body build that set the races apart from one another!

It would be foolish to pretend that there aren’t obvious biological differences between human beings and that these differences are tied to certain geographical regions. If you’re a light-skinned person with blue eyes you very probably had lots of ancestors from northern Europe, and if you’re a dark-skinned person with tightly curled dark hair you very probably had lots of ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa. Nobody worth listening to denies these facts about human diversity…

Except some sweet-toothed Scotsmen, I suppose. But there you are, that’s out of the way: there are heritable human traits, and long-separated human populations differ in those traits.

Now for the straw-man:

Phenotypic diversity is a fact, but race is a theory. It’s what we call a folk-theory. It’s a way of trying to explain human diversity by positing that there are a small number of “pure” types (races) of human beings—black, white, etc. According to the folk-theory, everyone is either a member of one of these pure types or a mixture of them.

Got that? When anyone speaks of racial differences, what they mean is that there are a few (five or so, I guess) monolithic and sharply defined races, that we can think of as five genetic “knobs”. So black people have the “Negroid” knob set to 10, and the “Caucasian”, “Asian”, “Amerindian”, and “Australoid” knobs all set to zero. Barack Obama and Beyoncé have at least two knobs turned up, and maybe some people have all five.

It’s a folk-theory! (For racist folks.) Professor Smith isn’t having any of it, though, and neither should you:

This theory of race is false, for all sorts of reasons.

And so it is. We agree. The problem, though, is that pretty much nobody — very certainly nobody in the HBD or “race-realism” community — ever said such a thing. It is an absurdly simplistic caricature of the variation of human groups.

Racial differences are not, of course, a matter of five or so knobs. What distinguishes different human groups is their average position in a vast polygenetic space, with thousands of individual variables. It is the large-scale clustering of particular combinations of these variables in this multidimensional gene-space that distinguishes what we conveniently call “races”, but we can identify, and parse, these differences at many levels of granularity. (Our ability to do so is accelerating rapidly.)

As bad as this is, it gets worse:

We seem to assume that every member of a race shares some deep characteristic or “essence” that is unique to that race—something “in the blood” or in the genes that’s innate, unchangeable, and inherited biologically from one’s parents.

Here Professor Smith says that the “folk-theory” he’s up against also includes a belief in complete uniformity within races: so that whatever trait you pick, “every member” of the given race will instantiate it identically. This is an even easier target, of course; all you’d need to refute it, even for “folk-theory” folks, is a single black who doesn’t have rhythm, or an Oriental who isn’t inscrutable. But again it’s just a silly straw-man; the reality is that what varies between groups is the statistical distribution of heritable traits. (Seven-foot-tall Dinkas are far commoner than seven-foot-tall Inuits, but that doesn’t mean that they tower over them.)

So, down goes the straw-man:

The notion that there are racial essences doesn’t have a shred of scientific support. In fact, it’s totally incompatible with what science tells us about human variability.


It’s pure fiction, but it’s a fiction that’s stubbornly rooted in our ordinary ways of thinking.

Well, not in Professor Smith’s way of thinking, of course, and not in mine, nor that of anyone else I know. Just “ours”.

I promised you a continuum fallacy. Here it is:

…the biological traits that are conventionally associated with race—like skin color—vary continuously across geographical regions. Imagine taking a slow train from equatorial Africa to Scandinavia. As you travel north, the skin color of the people that you see lightens gradually. So any line that you choose to draw between so-called white people and so-called black people is bound to be arbitrary.

As is any line we draw between children and grownups, hot and cold, good and bad, tall and short — or wisdom and rubbish. And of course, being all of one species, and with the distributions of alleles in a given population being determined by local selection pressure, we would expect that there would be gradual transitions between them. (See this post of my own from long ago.) But Professor Smith is saying that because there aren’t sharp boundaries, all differences between human groups are nugatory.

The very same consideration applies to all the other “racialized” traits as well.

And what might those be? Let’s review:

It would be foolish to pretend that there aren’t obvious biological differences between human beings and that these differences are tied to certain geographical regions. If you’re a light-skinned person with blue eyes you very probably had lots of ancestors from northern Europe, and if you’re a dark-skinned person with tightly curled dark hair you very probably had lots of ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa. Nobody worth listening to denies these facts about human diversity…

Why are the only traits Professor Smith mentions as heritable and diverse related to appearance? Nearly all human traits, including cognitive and behavioral ones, are highly heritable, which means that those supremely important qualities, too, will be differently distributed in different groups. Care must be taken, though, that this should never even cross the reader’s mind — and so, to illustrate human variability, all we may speak of are superficial variations in appearance: the color of our eyes and skin, and the curliness of our hair.

This, then, is the current condition of intellectual discourse on human biodiversity. It is a hugely important topic, with enormous ethical and social ramifications that, for everyone’s sake, we should all care about examining carefully and getting right. But to sweep reality under the rug like this is worse than unhelpful, and this article is little more than crimestop.

Read the whole thing here.

Related: the “motte-and-bailey” style of argument. Here.

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It Can Happen Here

In San Jose last night, supporters of Donald Trump were assaulted by an angry mob as they left a campaign rally.

Nobody should be surprised by this. It is all a perfectly conformant and predictable manifestation of the West’s rapidly advancing social and political disease. It will continue to get worse, probably much more quickly than all but the most pessimistic of us would expect.

As I wrote a year ago:

All of the erosive forces at work here — demographic displacement by poorly assimilated immigrants, low birthrates among cognitive elites, multiculturalism, galloping secularism, centralization of Federal power at the expense of local government, anti-traditionalism, hedonistic apathy, instutionalized disparagement of America’s history, mission, cultural heritage, and mythos, and behind it all the universal acid of radical doubt that is the “poison pill” of the Enlightenment itself — all of these things attack and corrode the horizontal ligatures of American civil society, leaving behind only an atomized population with no binding affinities save their vertical dependence upon a Federal leviathan that is, increasingly, the source of all guidance and blessings.

What this means is that as these forces do their work, they weaken at every point our society’s structural integrity — even as the disintegrative influences, particularly the destructive action of demographic replacement, intensify. It follows naturally, then, that the pace of decay accelerates.

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The Death of Culture

A German newspaper editor, Anna Sauerbrey, posted a chilling opinion piece in the New York Times the other day. It illustrates with depressing clarity a recurring theme of this blog: the necessarily destructive effect of multiculturalism upon human societies. Her piece begins:

In Germany, a big question is back on the table: What is German — and how German do you have to be to belong to Germany? With the arrival in 2015 of 1.1 million refugees and migrants, it’s an important issue. But rather than having a reasoned debate, the extremists have already taken control. For a disturbing number of Germans, the answer is culture, including religion.

That’s the message coming out of the Alternative for Germany, an upstart right-wing party that has drawn double-digit support in recent state-level elections.

There’s certainly no doubt about her stance: despite the government having managed to settle 1.1 million Muslim “refugees and migrants” in a single year (the equivalent of importing 4 million to the U.S.), the “extremists”, with their “upstart party”, have “already taken control”. Well, I say, if they’ve taken control, they’re doing a pretty lousy job of it.

Modern Western multiculturalism depends upon the elevation of two axioms to sacred principles. One is the belief in human universality, which entails a fortiori the belief that all culture is contingent and transferable. The other is that equality is the greatest social good. They go well together: a belief in universality implies that inequalities are necessarily a matter of historical happenstance or malevolent human agency, and therefore remediable.

Readers will know that our editorial position favors neither of these axioms, and views culture not as something that falls from the sky onto whatever human population happens to be passing underneath, but as the “extended phenotypes” of various human groups. As I wrote in an earlier post:

The idea is a simple one: a biological organism has both a genotype, which is the sum of its genetic information, and a phenotype, which is the physical result of the expression of the genotype — the term “phenotype” usually being understood to refer to the organism’s body. [Richard] Dawkins’s fertile insight was that the phenotype extends beyond the body, into the wider world.

For example: a beaver has a beaver genome. This expresses itself in the usual beavery way: big front teeth, webby feet, and a broad, flat tail. But the “extended” phenotype is much more than that: it consists of felled trees, a dam, a lodge, and a pond. In this view, that pond is as much a part of the beaver’s gene-expression as its teeth. Bird’s nests, spiderwebs, and honeycombs — things in the world that themselves contain no genetic information — are as much a manifestation of genomes as wings and stingers.

In H. sapiens, the social animal par excellence, the extended phenotype quite naturally includes culture. And just as we see variation among subspecies for, say, bowerbird nests, we should expect to see that long-isolated human populations, whose genomes have been subject to widely varying selection pressures throughout their history, will create different, often very different, cultures — cultures as distinct as their physical appearance. And so we do.

Ms. Sauerbrey explicitly rejects and denies this view:

Anti-Muslim sentiment is just one element in the party’s fairly coherent, nativist concept of national culture. The preamble to its program promises to preserve “our occidental and Christian culture, our nation’s historical and cultural identity, and an independent German nation of the German people.” The party refers to German culture as the “einheimische Kultur” — native culture — and describes the German nation as “a cultural unit” under threat from immigrant cultures. Its program for the state election in Baden-Württemberg in March stated: “Germany’s cultural foundation is being smashed by immigration.”

For many liberals and centrist conservatives, culture is defined as the ways a person or group does things. For the Alternative for Germany, it is much more — a natural fact, the core of a person or group’s essence, a thing, not a set of practices.

The lines are very clearly drawn here: for Ms. Sauerbrey, culture is not, and clearly must not be, a “natural fact” — an expression of any essential qualities shared by a people of common ancestry. If that were so, it would mean that the people themselves were not identical to all other people — and so would violate the axiom of universality. Because this axiom is, in the West’s secular religion, now a sacred principle, it means that anyone who denies it is promoting heresy, and is therefore an enemy and an existential threat.

Consider everything that Ms. Sauerbrey — a German! — must reject in order to hold this view. Look at the towering edifice of German culture, and the conspicuous particularities of the German people throughout history. Can she really believe that all of that might just as likely have sprung from Dinkas, or Eskimos? Such is the power of religion.

In our post Culture and Metaculture, we quoted Leszek Kolakowski on the impossibility of synergistic polycultural fusion. Kolakowski began by quoting this passage from Toynbee:

Our own descendants are not going to be just Western, like ourselves. They are going to be heirs of Confucius and Lao-Tze as well as Socrates, Plato, and Plotinus; heirs of Gautama Buddha as well as Deutreo-Isaiah and Jesus Christ; heirs of Zarathustra and Muhammed as well as Elijah and Elishah and Peter and Paul; heirs of Shankara and Ramanujah as well as Clement and Origines; heirs of the Cappadocian Fathers of the Orthodox Church as well as our African Augustine and our Umbrian Benedict; heirs of ibn Khaldun as well as Bossuet; and heirs, if still wallowing in the Sebonian bog of politics, of Lenin and Gandhi and Sun Yat-Sen as well as Cromwell and George Washington.

He replied:

In a trivial sense we are already the heirs of these men, in that we live in a world they all helped to shape; but Toynbee clearly has in mind a heritage in a stronger sense, a positive continuity of ideas. But in order that our descendants may be heirs in this sense, we must admit that everything that makes the values and ideals of these people incompatible today will lose its significance; and then, far from having them all as our spiritual ancestors, we will have no one at all.

The difference between Catholics and Protestants could conceivably vanish, but then Bossuet and Cromwell will not so much become synthesized by our descendants as vanish altogether, losing what was specific and essential to each, and heritage will have no discernable meaning. It is, similarly, difficult to imagine how someone who values spiritual liberty might one day consider himself the heir of Lenin or Mohammed. We can imagine the question of liberty losing all significance in some future society that is perfectly totalitarian and accepted as such by its members; but in that case our descendants will indeed be the heirs of Lenin, but not of George Washington. In short, to imagine our grandchildren combining all these conflicting traditions into one harmonious whole, being at once theists, pantheists, and atheists, advocates of liberalism and totalitarianism, enthusiasts of violence and enemies of violence, is to imagine them inhabiting a world lying not only far outside the scope of our imagination and prophetic gifts but also beyond the possibility of any tradition whatsoever; which means that they will be barbarians in the strictest sense.

To create the new metaculture, muticulturalism cannot not add cultures together, due to the points of contradiction and conflict that are, in turn, manifestations of the innate differences of the peoples whose cultures they are. Instead, it can only proceed subtractively, by stripping away particularities, until it finds commonality at some baser level — and as more peoples and cultures are added to the mix, more and more must be pared away. Among the first things to go are the natural cohesion and public trust that organic cultures enjoy; these natural assets must be replaced prosthetically, by an act of power imposed from above. That this artificial, top-down structure in turn creates new inequalities even as it scrapes away familiar liberties must simply be tolerated as the price we pay for our salvation. Ms. Sauerbrey acknowledges all of this:

Asked in 2000 what he thought went into German Leitkultur, [Christian Democratic Party member Friedrich] Merz pointed to the Constitution and to women’s rights. But it’s no use making refugees swear an oath on women’s rights. Germans won’t control what they think. But Germany can help them understand the laws protecting women’s rights — and reinforce them.

She might more plainly have said:

“These people will never fit in with us naturally, as we Germans organically and effortlessly fit in with each other. They don’t think like us! But we can force them to obey our law, rather than their own instincts, affinities, aversions, traditions, moral principles, ancient folkways, and religious doctrine. That should work just as well, right?”

In her last paragraph, the author says:

A modern nation state cannot be built on an ontological notion of who belongs and who does not, whether it’s outright ethnic or pseudo-cultural.

To which I reply: why not?

Note here that Ms. Sauerbrey cannot even manage to say “cultural”. We have got to the point now in the decomposition of the West where even the idea of an actually existing culture is offensive: because its particularity is an intolerable heresy, the whole of German culture — Beethoven, Bach, Schiller, Goethe, Luther, Heine, Kant, Gauss, Liebniz, Wagner, Kepler, Hegel, and all the rest of it — can no longer even be permitted to be real, and so it must be seen as a “pseudo-culture”. What an enormous, and catastrophic, delusion.

Read the whole thing here.

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Creative Destruction

Here’s a question for abortion absolutists:

A woman wishes to write a book about abortion. In order to give her work perspective and authenticity, she decides to become pregnant in order to experience an abortion herself. Being of independent means, she will pay all of the medical expenses.

Is there anything morally wrong with what she plans to do? If so, why?

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You Are a Slow Learner, Winston

From the mail, yesterday:



Not quite what the Framers had in mind, I think.

Service Notice, and Open Thread 15

We have house-guests this holiday weekend, and it would be unsociable of me to roost at the computer. Back next week. The floor is yours, if you like.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Ah, what a lovely morning.

Why? Well, it’s a balmy spring day here in the Outer Cape, where the air is fresh and fragrant, the little birds are singing, and the trees are stretching their new leaves in the golden May sunshine.

Even better, though, a new report from the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General makes it abundantly clear that Hillary Clinton violated the Federal Records Act in her handling of sensitive email. And it was just a couple of days ago that we learned that over just the last two years, Mrs. Clinton has soaked her corporate cronies for twenty-one million dollars in “speaking fees”, i.e. baksheesh paid up front for an interest in her Presidency.

Over at the Observer, Austin Bay comments on the OIG report, here.

Readers may recall that I made a wager last year with our erstwhile “progressive” gadfly The One-Eyed Man, in which I staked a good bottle of whisky on the proposition that Hillary Clinton would not only never be President, but wouldn’t even be the Democratic nominee. I’ll confess that I’ve been a little edgy about this lately; I hadn’t expected that the Dems would field such a thin field of candidates, and I’d thought that pretty much anyone with a pulse (or even just a soul) could knock this rasping succubus off the ticket. But now, with all of this, and with Mr. Trump running even (or better) with Mrs. Clinton in the polls, hope springs anew.

Meanwhile, over breakfast I spotted this fine post about “World War T” over at Social Matter. (The author is allegedly one “Hadley Bishop”, but as the mathematician John Bernoulli exclaimed upon seeing Newton’s anonymous solution to the “brachistochrone problem”, we “recognize the lion by his paw”.) More on that topic shortly, I think.

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Something is Happening Here, But You Don’t Know What It Is

Well, maybe some mainstream conservatives are actually beginning to. Here, for instance, is Rod Dreher, rising from the fainting couch (h/t to Porter):

The media have soft-pedaled this thing, but when it gets right down to it, all the diversity rhetoric in the world is not going to matter when a man recognizes that in voting Democratic for president, he is voting for a party that wants to send mentally disturbed males into his daughter’s locker room, and call it justice.

Eventually, the provocations of Social Justice Warriors, especially when they are race-based, is [sic] going to empower the militant whites, especially those drawn to pagan masculinity, and they are going to do what the rest of us would not do: Fight. This, because the best — that is, those who want peace, civility, and tolerance — lack all conviction to defend the conditions under which we can have those things against their enemies… White liberal middle-class society and many bourgeois conservatives have demonized within themselves, collectively and individually, the instinct that would have given them the strength to fight civilization’s enemies on the Left and on the Right.

Eventually? Welcome to the future, Rod. It’s just starting now.

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“Cucked by Zuck”

An entertaining item by Milo Yiannopoulis, here.

My own feeling about this: Facebook can do what it likes, and anyone on the Right who expects fair treatment from Mark Zuckerberg is a fool.

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Paul Gottfried’s Latest

Paul Gottfried has a new book out. I’ve mentioned Professor Gottfried here before (in particular, I strongly recommend his books Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy and After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State); his latest is called Fascism: The Career of a Concept.

The word “fascism” has become little more that a polemic catchall used by liberals to refer to whatever ideas they detect to their right; Gottfried makes clear that in his opinion the term now has “no meaning at the political and journalistic level.”

But is fascism, rightly understood, a creature of the Left or the Right? Pace Jonah Goldberg, as well as everyone on the Left, the question is not a simple one, and one of Gottfried’s aims in this book is to make a close examination of the points of contact that the various forms of fascism have had with both Left and Right. He also seeks to explain why fascism is so broadly reviled in the modern West, while Communism, which killed more people in the last century than fascist movements (and vastly more than the holotypic Italian Fascists ever did) still enjoys such a warm reception.

I’ve just begun reading it. Gottfried’s books are, perhaps, a little demanding for the lay reader who isn’t accustomed to this sort of scholarly material, but they are always rich in insight and detail, and for those of you who are interested in understanding how the modern world came to be in such a pickle, they are very helpful indeed.

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Retweeted today by Christina Hoff Sommers:


We’ll Tweet Again; Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know Venn

Bernie Sanders has suggested that Hillary Clinton is unqualified for the Presidency. As you might imagine, I didn’t need much persuading, but after seeing this tweet, I’d say the case is closed:


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This Sceptical Doubt…

While taking a three-mile constitutional this afternoon (we of the American Right never, of course, forget the importance of constitutionals), I had a listen to John Derbyshire’s latest Radio Derb podcast. It was a particularly good one, with fine segments on immigration, automation, and social engineering. You can listen to it here, or read it here.

One theme that Mr. Derbyshire touched on was what he calls “The Bathroom Wars” (and which others have called “World War T”). (I’ve hardly written about this one at all, although of course I have opinions about it that are consistent with this website’s overarching editorial themes. It’s all just so fatiguing sometimes.)

Derb had this to say:

I’m still having trouble taking this seriously. How on earth did we get to the point where restroom usage is a major national issue?

This looks to me like another case of Thinking Too Much. A lot of life, including social life, goes much better if you don’t think about it too much.

That used to be — until, I mean, the week before last — that used to be how we coped with public restrooms. If you were a guy, you went to the guys’ room; if a gal, to the gals’ room. If you were honestly confused about your sex, you went to whichever room your presence in would be less likely to cause comment and fuss. The amount of brainpower, of cognitive energy, you put into the matter of bathroom-going was very close to zero.

Obvious guys did not go into the girls’ room, or vice versa, because it would have been gross bad manners to do so. A person who insisted on doing so would cause pointless trouble and ill feeling. If he or she was doggedly persistent, or made a habit of barging into the other sex’s restroom, the authorities might intervene with a prosecution for some catchall misdemeanor like “disturbing the peace” or “causing a public nuisance.” This practically never happened though. Mostly people just minded their manners.

That was a rule-governed society, a society in which there were right and wrong ways to behave. Most people most of the time behaved the right way, out of consideration for others and the desire for a life not daily roiled by unnecessary commotion. The rules came first, and most of us followed them without thinking — from habit, and unspoken social understandings. Laws were just a backstop, for dealing with the occasional antisocial delinquent.

Now that’s all turning around. Rules count for less and less; everything has to be overseen by the federal Department of Justice.

This is the legalistic despotism foreseen by de Tocqueville two hundred years ago, in which federal power, quote, “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate,” end quote.

Very well said, I think. And readers may recognize the Tocqueville quote, which I’ve cited here myself a few times. Here’s a larger excerpt of that passage, from Chapter VI of Democracy in America:

I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything that ever before existed in the world; our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression that will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it; the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

In Derb’s transcript is a link to an essay of his from 2003 called The Importance of Not Thinking Too Much, which touches upon another of this blog’s themes: that one of the bequests of the Enlightenment upon the people of the West was the “universal acid” of radical doubt. Derb quotes one of the Enlightenment’s heaviest hitters, David Hume:

This sceptical doubt … is a malady, which can never be radically cur’d, but must return upon us every moment, however we may chace it away … Carelessness and in-attention alone can afford us any remedy. For this reason I rely entirely upon them…

At the time Hume wrote this, his ideas were a drop of acid in an ocean of tradition and common sense. Things are very different now. I don’t think he and his colleagues could really have imagined what they were unleashing upon the world.

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