Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

When Pat Condell and Thomas Friedman agree

We are now at a stage of convergence between Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Pat Condell of the white-walled upstairs bedroom. Note the date: 23rd of January 2015.

Pat Condell has been railing against Islam as such for the past ten years; he is a crank, he is outside mainstream media, and I am sure he has as much influence as Thomas Friedman among those inclined to be aware of existential threats. He makes acerbic videos of himself talking to the camera from his suburban home somewhere in England. He does not speak in public. You almost certainly are aware of him if you have been a reader of this site. [We know all about our readership].

Thomas Friedman writes for the New York Times on Middle-Eastern Affairs. He has authored several well-received books; he lives in a gigantic house with his rich wife, and he wields considerable influence with those who think they are important. I have heard him speak at a conference and I can assure you from direct observation that he is a pompous ass, a talented writer, and a fair barometer of American liberal opinion.

And yet, despite every possible distance in social and economic class, and religion, Thomas Friedman is now in agreement with Pat Condell. The problem is Islam, not just hard-line interpretations of it.

Friedman was commenting in the New York Times this week on President Obama’s pussy-footing around the issue, and when the Times talks tougher on Islamic jihad than the US President, then you know some important shift in public opinion is occurring.

 

When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.

After citing the administrations excuses for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Friedman writes:

This makes it sound as if the Charlie Hebdo terrorists set out to commit a random act of violent extremism and only subsequently, when they realized that they needed some justification, did they reach for Islam.

The day before, Earnest had conceded that there are lists of recent ‘examples of individuals who have cited Islam as they’ve carried out acts of violence.’ Cited Islam? According to the Earnest theory … purposeless violent extremists rummage through the scriptures of great faiths, looking for some verses to cite to support their mayhem and often happen to settle on the holy texts of Islam.”

President Obama knows better. I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community. It is coming mostly, but not exclusively, from angry young men and preachers on the fringe of the Sunni Arab and Pakistani communities in the Middle East and Europe.

I observe that the Charlie Hebdo murders have finally budged the nearly immovable liberal consensus to start talking a new language that we have being saying for years: it is jihad, stupid; it is part of a thousand four hundred year war against everything not Islamic. It is not new, it is ancient.

The violence, murders and enslavements carried out by Islamic warriors are intimately tied to a religious doctrine called Islam. Jihad is their sacrament. It is as central to Islam as baptism, communion, and burial are to ours.

The New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Marine LePen, of all people, and that she rightly called Islam a totalitarian ideology. What Geert Wilders was nearly sent to jail for, several years ago, and cost him many a trial, is now being said in the New York Times.

Let us call things by their rightful names, since the French government seems reluctant to do so. France, land of human rights and freedoms, was attacked on its own soil by a totalitarian ideology: Islamic fundamentalism. It is only by refusing to be in denial, by looking the enemy in the eye, that one can avoid conflating issues. Muslims themselves need to hear this message. They need the distinction between Islamist terrorism and their faith to be made clearly.

Yet this distinction can only be made if one is willing to identify the threat. It does our Muslim compatriots no favors to fuel suspicions and leave things unspoken. Islamist terrorism is a cancer on Islam, and Muslims themselves must fight it at our side.

LePen is still making a distinction between Islam and Islamism, but  this attempt to make of Islam a political ideology by adding the suffix “ism” is just a way that we westerners have of denoting an ideology. For the Muslim, there is no distinction between the realms of God and Caesar, for as I said before, in Islam, God is Caesar. Our attempts to analyze Islam with Christian concepts constantly get us confused.

The distinction between Islam and Islamism is a polite fiction. Sooner or later it will be dropped, because there is no distinction between them in substance. With the Charlie Hebdo murders and Boko Haram’s mass slaughters, the western world draws nearer to the moment when we get clear on the concept.

At some point a future ruler  will do the same to Mecca as the Emperor Titus and the future Emperor Tiberius did to Jerusalem in AD70: besiege it, defeat it, and carry the inhabitants off into slavery.  This will occur after the nuking of Rome by Islamic militants, or some such outrage.

The shock of the fall of Jerusalem diverted the entire Hebraic religion away from a Temple-oriented live-animal sacrifice cult into the study of the Torah under the direction of rabbis. It is not beyond possibility that the occupation of Mecca and the destruction of the central temples of Islam will have an equivalent pacifying effect. Then again, the Jews have learned from history, and the Muslims – so far-  have not.

Nevertheless, regardless of these asides, the day of reckoning with Islam is coming.

moral diversity

Jonathan Haidt is an American social scientist. His major work is “The Righteous Mind”. It concerns the moral foundation of people’s views of politics, and everything else. His work is a must-read for people who think about why liberals (in the American sense) and conservatives differ so much. He explains himself clearly and I urge you to check out his videos. Go to youtube and enter “Jonathan Haidt” and you will be greatly  rewarded.

Haidt says there are five axes of moral difference among people, and that, by and large, liberals act on two – harm/care, and fairness/unfairness – and that conservatives act on all five of them, which include the first two and add sanctity/defilement,authority/rebellion, loyalty/treason. Haidt is one of those rare people who has argued himself from being a leftist to being a centrist by reflecting on those virtues which conservatives value, and which liberals, in general, do not.

His insight into liberals is that their obsession with harm/care – which is usually understood as equity – leads to a sacralization of victims, on the one hand, and group-based results, on the other. If one’s idea of morality is limited to that set of concerns, you will never understand centrists and  conservatives, and you will ignore other extremely important moral concerns. Worse than not understanding your compatriots, you will offend their senses of decency, justice, proportion, fairness, and sacredness. This is only one of many important insights his thinking gives rise to.

“How many of you ants want to bail out your grasshopper neighbours?” This question, he says, is the moral insight that gave birth to the Tea Party.

An example he cites to a liberal group is this: “Would you let you 14-year old daughter choose her dentist? [pause] Then why would you allow her to choose her abortionist?”

One of the issues he speaks of is the total lack of diversity within the moral framework of most liberal institutions. The liberal institutions are always talking a great deal about diversity. According to Haidt, they have no idea what diversity actually consists of. They think it means a bunch of people from sexual, religious,  ethnic or other-defined  minorities being in the same place at the same time, but all thinking and speaking exactly alike, rather like a Maoist poster where jut-jawed workers, peasants, soldiers and intelligentsia look upwards and to the right in solidarity with an identical idea, each with his fist raised in defiance of something.

What liberals fail to imagine is that morality might be broader than fairness/unfairness and harmful/not harmful, to embrace a broader set of moral considerations: sanctity, loyalty, and deference, and their opposites.

The intolerance of moral diversity is the essence of the political left. It leads to a closing of the academic mind. As to that issue, read this: How Academia’s Liberal Bias is Killing Social Science

“There is complete freedom of discussion in the Soviet Union”

A guy I know who worked in the Soviet Union for Canada in the 1970s surprized me one day when he said, in response to my comment, “On the contrary, there is complete freedom of discussion in the Soviet Union”.

What did he mean?

He said: “if you have known a guy since high school, and you are sure of him on all grounds, and you are out ice fishing on a lake, say, out of reach of microphones, then Russians have an extremely broad range of discussion, broader than here.” He intimated that Russians in such places would feel free to talk about Stalin and Hitler, the Russian Revolution, the future of communism, the United States, sex, God, Christianity, anything.

If you spoke too loudly in the wrong circumstances, you might draw attention of the secret police, and be called in for a threatening chat. You might lose your academic job. But within the boundaries of a totalitarian police state, where the compulsion was external, society itself maintained freedom of discussion. It also maintained educational standards. Communism may have wrecked social trust, the bedrock of cooperation, markets, and democracy, but it did not reach in and destroy friendships and a real but limited freedom of thought and speech.

In the same vein, Prof. Srdia Trifkovic speaks below of how the Communist system did not challenge the classical education system: grammar, logic, mathematics, essay writing, and how in consequence, the education system was less affected by cultural Marxism than it is in the West now, and how eastern European immigrants to Western Europe are succeeding because of this rigorous training in thinking.

Speaking of the absorption of political correctness by Western social elites, compared to Eastern Europeans,

The circle of people [here] who have internalized these idiocies, as a normal part of their world outlook is, I would say, much wider.

 

 

Go to minute 2:40 and thereafter for this important discussion.

Being brought up short

Those not familiar with the English language might wonder about what “being brought up short” means: having one’s moral failings being called to one’s attention. It is a painful and humiliating experience, for those with a conscience. For those without a conscience, it is just an attempt at shaming, if that.

In two different places this week, I observed institutions “brought up short”. One was Matt Ridley’s column in the Times, in which he describes three different instances in the same month of science playing fast and loose with facts to achieve political ends: attempts to ban nicotinoid-based insecticides, faking evidence for global warming, and official blathering about extreme weather. Each one of these instances either concerned faked evidence, or where no evidence existed and the institution had spoken as if it existed.

The second was the blast in the National Post this morning about the CBC, the people’s broadcaster, whose views represent the Volvo-driving classes to the exclusion of all others.

Someone recently observed that the CBC is not about Canadian programming but programming Canadians to its enlightened view of how the world should work.

Nothing in this morning’s NatPost rant is different from anything conservative bloggers have been saying for years. The only novelty is that the view was expressed in a large national newspaper. When such views leave the Financial Post editorial section for the regular editorial section, I shall be even more impressed. If such views ever show up on the Globe and Mail’s editorial pages, I shall swoon in a transport of shock.

This brings me around to an opinion I saw yesterday in Ricochet which seems to encapsulate the views of our unelected governors in the mainstream media:

Many reporters and editors loathe how aware people have become of the journalistic process. They can barely conceal their anger at having the public (largely conservatives) challenge what, when, and how they cover the news. Their sins of commission have been understood for decades, with a heavy thumb on the left side of the scale for either cultural, institutional, or ideological reasons. Lately though, the media’s sins of omission are more deadly to their reputation and future — and being called on them has the press in a white-hot fury.

When the media was a kind of hermetic priesthood, they controlled what Americans read and saw. If the Washington Post or the New York Times didn’t cover a story, you could bet it wasn’t going to be on the evening news. If they didn’t cover a story real people were interested in, they could put it down to news judgment. There was no effective recourse and nowhere else to get to the story. They know their business model is under existential threat, but they’ve practically declared war on the majority of their potential customers.

….The legacy media largely produces a product they and their friends want. “Another gushing Hillary article? Can’t WAIT!” “Gosh, what Americans really need is another story on how we’re destroying the Earth and how global warming will kill our kids.” “Is Obama a great President, or the greatest President?” Legacy reporters and editors desperately miss that power to mediate the national dialogue.

Putting it all together, I observe a decline of the values which sustain the institutions on which we depend for science, news, and justice. We are concerned about the decline of science, and we are concerned about the decline of guardian institutions generally, but we are more concerned about the decline of culture which infuses all these institutions with vain, shallow, narcissistic, amoral, atheistic  people who think they are no better than meat machines, and behave as they believe they are. This kind of decline in people makes me think Christianity has a valid point.

As Saint Leonard Cohen said

When they said: repent, repent,
I wondered what they meant.

The all-purpose excuse

I read somewhere that the word “racism” did not exist until the late 1950s. I can believe it. Now it is the universal solvent of all rational thinking, and it is especially convenient for the Left to use against regions, classes and cultures that disagree with them, and which fail to produce electoral victories. The continuing dismissal of the American South by the Democrats and their allies comes to mind.

Rick Moran writes in PJ Media.

Racism as an excuse for Democratic defeat in the South is too easy, too pat. But it has the benefit of allowing Democrats the luxury of being able to ignore the real reasons why white Southerners have so completely rejected their candidates. Liberals are apparently incapable of conducting the introspection necessary to arrive at the conclusion that their attitudes toward those they feel superior to contributes far more to their electoral defeats than some kind of nebulous racism that doesn’t exist in any greater proportion in the South than it does anywhere else in the country.

Of course, as Thomas Sowell pointed out in his brilliant book, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as the Basis of Social Policy, [the title says it all], in order to come to grips with reality the liberal – I use that in the American sense of ‘Leftist’ – would have to change their conception of themselves, and that would be impossibly humiliating.

Cultural wars are so desperate because they are not simply about the merits and demerits of particular policies. They are about the anointed’s whole conception of themselves – about whether they are in the heady role of the vanguard or in the pathetic role of pretentious and self-infatuated people. [p.250]

Because differential rectitude is pivotal to the vision of the anointed, opponents must be shown to be not merely mistaken but morally lacking….This denigration or demonizing of those opposed to their views not only has the desired effect of discrediting the opposition but also has the unintended effect of cutting off the path of retreat from positions which become progressive;ly less tenable with the passage of time and the accumulation of discordant evidence….

For the anointed, it is desperately important to win, not simply because they believe that one policy or set of beliefs is better for society, but because their whole sense of themselves is at stake. [p.252]

The first obligation of the conservative is to know that one can be wholly wrong: emotionally, intellectually, morally. It keeps one humble. It prevents the development of the feeling of being anointed to govern one’s lessers.

I also think that Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed should be on every thinking person’s bookshelf, along with Burke’s Reflections on the Late Revolution in France and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.

Even the New York Times cannot quite like Hillary Clinton

Hillary is proclaimed from the centre of the Democratic Party as the next President. Maybe she will be. After Obama, even Al Gore night be an improvement – and I know that is a stretch for me and for you, dear readers.

Yet the article on her in the New York Times  this weekend makes clear that she has a powerful temper (who of that rank does not?) that she uses to preclude discussion of necessary policy alternatives. The use of the leader’s bad temper to prevent discussion of policy alternatives is the great sin in politics. Always remind yourself of Talleyrand’s dictum: “Worse than a crime, it was a mistake” as your guide to understanding the political point of view.

I do not mind her loyalty to Bill; he is a swine but he is my kind of swine: self indulgent, and consequently ill-disciplined, but he brought welfare reform (stopping the subsidies to black illegitimate births) and balanced the budget. Broadly he left the United States a better place (pace those who have rational objections).

I do not mind if she goes both ways sexually, either, as long as she gets along with the other sex in politics. She first also not be the wife of a President to be gay; recall Elanor Roosevelt’s affair with the journalist Lorena Hickock.

My objection to Hillary is that she is not the emollient centrist she is being portrayed as, but rather an imperious leftist who cannot tolerate political argument, even from within her own party and her own staff. This is not a good sign. At a time when the United States desperately needs a centrist reformer, able to get along with the other side, we may find in Hillary a leader with all the instincts of Louis XIV: rigid, bigoted, imperious, and prone to catastrophic wars.

New Republic down the tubes

The economic woes of the print magazine business have claimed the leading liberal magazine of the United States, the New Republic.

The letter [of resignation]  comes one day after a shakeup that saw the resignation of top editor Franklin Foer and veteran literary editor Leon Wieseltier, both of whom resigned due to differences of vision with Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012. On Friday morning, more than two dozen of the magazine’s senior and contributing editors quit the magazine en masse in protest.

Another software billionaire takes on a dying print institution. 31 year years old! I assume he may have some sense at that age; I think Alexander the Great died at 34.

The former senior editors of the The New Republic wrote in protest as follows:

“The New Republic is a kind of public trust,” they continued. “That is something all its previous owners and publishers understood and respected. The legacy has now been trashed, the trust violated. It is a sad irony that at this perilous moment, with a reactionary variant of conservatism in the ascendancy, liberalism’s central journal should be scuttled with flagrant and frivolous abandon. The promise of American life has been dealt a lamentable blow.”

The curious part of the statement is that “a reactionary variant of conservatism is in the ascendancy”. Who knew? I see no signs of it. Creeping colonization both physical and ideational by Islam, drowning of the US in Central American peasant influx, declining educational standards, exemption of American blacks from normal moral standards, deliberate anti-white, anti-male and anti-christian alliances of the Left everywhere you look: is this the ascendancy of a reactionary version of conservatism? Some ascendancy! some conservatism!

The nauseating moral swamp of black and liberal reaction to Ferguson

No one over sixteen has failed to have had a negative interaction with police.

Here are instances from my life:

Your bicycle has just been stolen and you flag down a cop car. You cross the street to approach the car and the idiot chides you for crossing the street against a traffic light, or something. Then they tell you your stolen bike is their business, and don’t go looking for it. They do nothing but give you a number where you can reach a kindly old retired cop who handles stolen bicycle complaints. They do nothing effective.

You are a teenager on your way to your friend’s house. The cop stops you, you get into the cop car at his command and he proceeds to intimidate you for daring to be in that part of town at night. The entire proceeding is just a cop being a thug.

Your house has been thoroughly robbed. On the cop’s second look through your house, the improperly stored firearm -according to our draconian firearms control law –  is discovered in its hiding place. They take the rifle and never give it back. You have to hire lawyers to defend yourself. You make it clear to the prosecutor that there will be plenty of newspaper coverage of the fact that your door was broken down, your house robbed, and the homeowner is in more trouble than the thief who stole $20,000 worth of stuff in several trips, who has got away clean.

So do not accuse me of being soft on the constabulary. Like most of the human species, there is a strong case for eliminating the half of them with IQs below 100. But with what portion of the human species would we begin, in that case?

Yet even after a lifetime of not always happy interactions with these authoritarian twenty-five year-olds and older self-satisfied uniformed idiots, I still think they have a difficult, rough job to do.

Fred Reed has a great insight into the life of a cop at the Unz Review, called Notes from the Drains. It should be read by all who fulminate about police brutality and shooting. It describes the life of a normal well-motivated cop.

With time, your views on police brutality will become ambivalent, or not ambivalent. You will see the pretty blonde rape victim, fifteen, about due for her first prom, screaming and screaming and screaming, sobbing and choking, while the med tech tries to get a sedative into her arm. And you will hear the cop next to you, hand clenching hard on his night stick, say in cold fury, “I hope the sonofabitch resists arrest.” Yeah, you may find yourself thinking, yeah. Social theories are nice. The streets are not theoretical.

And you will find that the perps are almost always black. If you are a good liberal, you won’t like this, but after three months on the street you will not have the faintest doubt. If you are a suburban conservative out of Reader’s Digest, you will be surprised at the starkness of the racial delineation.

All cops know this. They know better than to say it. This can be tricky for black cops, especially if former military who believe in law and order.

You will find that there are white cops who knock blacks around, who humiliate them. You will think it wrong, and so will many of your fellows, but you will decide not to turn them in. You have twenty more years on the streets with them. You will discover that black cops exist who also mistreat blacks, and this will confuse you.

A more statistical approach is found in the City Journal this week. After showing that the number of citizen interactions with police has been going down in the past decade

 …another series of Justice Department surveys,… ask Americans whether they have been victimized by crime. Those who say yes are then asked to identify the race of their attacker. In a 2008 survey, 58 percent of violent crime victims of identified the perpetrators as white, and 23 percent as black. That compares with a national population 74 percent white and 12 percent black. (After 2008, questions about the race of offenders disappear from the victimization data on the FBI’s website.) Police frequently point to this survey and others like it to explain that stop rates and arrest rates are higher for minorities because crime rates are higher in minority areas. Victims disproportionately identify perpetrators as minority.

The real indicator would be a significant dissimilarity between the incident rate, the arrest rate, the prosecution rate and the conviction rate. Dissimilarities would indicate that too many arrest were being made, or prosecutions initiated, relative to convictions. But there are not. Blacks fill American jails, and North American Indians fill Canadian jails, disproportionately to their presence in the population, because they engage in crime disproportionately to the population.

The notion that the thug who attacked the store owner in Ferguson, punched the cop in the police car, escaped, and charged back at the cop is some kind of innocent: it revolts me. The attempt by Obama and his more revolting – if that is possible – Attorney General Holder  to divert moral judgment from the American black propensity to commit crime disproportionately to other ethnicities, and blame police, makes me ill.

It starts to make Stuff Black People don’t like look like a description of facts. Actually, it is all factual, just the selection of facts is biased.

Fred reed again, explaining the speed with which cops must make lethal decisions:

If you shoot, and the object turns out to be a cell phone, “White cop shoots unarmed teen.” If you don’t shoot, and it turns out to be a gun, your wife gets to explain why daddy isn’t’ coming back. Ever.

Cops understand this. Delicate Ivy flowers in the peat moss of the Washington Post do not.

Let’s drop the “You are a cop” narrative. Instead, let’s try an experiment. In your living room, no adrenaline, no darkness, no danger, I will turn my back on you, holding in front of me in one hand a Day-Glo yellow plastic banana and, in the other, a realistic plastic pistol. You, in calm, perfectly safe circumstances, will point a “pistol” at me. Your finger will do fine. I will turn as fast as I can with one or the other in my hand. You have to shoot or not.

You will find, no matter how many times we try the experiment, that I can turn and fire (if I turn with the gun) before you can decide whether I have a gun or a Day-Glo banana. Try it in a dark alley.

Nuff said.

 

 

 

A delicious, if fatal, irony

American Thinker posts a piece called Black Crime Claims life of Apologist for Black Crime. It appears the Chris Ruenzel, a propagandist for the Southern Poverty Law Center, was a long standing author of theories of “white privilege”, the theory whereby whites are responsible for black crime, or deserve it when they are attacked by blacks. He was killed in Oakland recently by black people.

Psychologist Martin Newburn commented on the liberal belief system that perpetuates their delusional thinking about black crime.

“Some liberals, most of which are ego-soaked, look for ways to support their self-perceived importance so they champion imaginary causes for that purpose,” Newburn said.  “They are adult-children who feel free to construct fantasies about their greatness. Their narcissism in part functions to blind them to inconvenient realities. So to compensate, they idealize the targets of their misdirected and pathological ‘caring.’”

The enablers are just as guilty as the predators. More Newburn:

“They perpetuate misery by defending the indefensible such as widespread black predation and other crimes. It causes too much cognitive dissonance and confusion, and it doesn’t comport with their imagined status as a great liberator and defender of their chosen imagined, downtrodden group.”

Today, Newburn is an adjunct professor of psychology at Lake Superior State University. But for the last 30 years, he toiled in Michigan courts and prisons as a forensic/clinical psychologist.  That’s a long time watching white liberals trying to ignore, deny and condone black mob violence and black criminality.

“Reality will only disrupt their fantasies as all-knowing and all-protecting avengers. Maturity is sometimes defined as when a person ends illusions in their thinking, and accepts reality, no matter how distasteful. I apply that same definition to the grounded, peaceful, law-abiding, sane, and stable.

“Over the years I’ve examined and found a trait of sociopath in most liberals. They have this sadistic gratification in creating or fomenting social chaos and conflicts, then, presenting themselves as ‘above it all,’ they arrive to fix the problem they themselves caused or perpetuated. Think of it as mental illness.  A Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, but on a very large scale.”

Ruenzel is hardly the first enabler of black violence to believe he was exempt from it, as urban pioneers are finding throughout the country.

Munchausen by Proxy syndrome is described as:

Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP or MBP) is a behaviour pattern in which a caregiver fabricates, exaggerates, or induces health problems in those who are in their care.[1] With deception at its core, this behaviour is an elusive, potentially lethal, and frequently misunderstood form of child abuse[2] or medical neglect[3] that has been difficult to define, detect, and confirm.