Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Why I love Steve Sailer

“By contrast, political correctness struggles are all about rigging debates by ruling out opponents’ best arguments ahead of time.

Thus, an inevitable difference between sports and identity politics is that competition encourages excellence in sports, while political correctness dumbs down debate.”

“…If your group can be criticized for your stereotypical faults, you are less likely to obsess over the mote in your opponent’s eye, because you can be called out for the beam in your own. Thus, a culture of open debate leads to more civility than the current rules by which the rhetorically privileged—such as blacks, women, Jews, gays, and miscellaneous—can demonize white men qua white men without fearing verbal pushback for their own faults. Rhetorical aggression is inevitable in a culture without reciprocity.”

“By contrast, a rhetorically armed society is a polite society.”

Sailer can also be read at his regular posting site, the Unz Review.

Remember: the correct term is “climate change”

The Left – the bananarama sort anyway – are nominalists. Things are according to what they are named. A rose to them, by any other name, might be a sign of moral turpitude. Or it might be the new name we call those things formerly known as roses, but which are now called “pink exfoliated flower ovaries” on pain of apology and social exclusion.

I shall never forget a Canadian woman of this sort who corrected an American for calling them “Eskimos”. She said, with great kindness: “the preferred name we use in Canada is Inuit”. A smile of gladness spread across the face of the American leftie as she received the communion wafer of political correctness: she had a new stick with which to beat the politically incorrect back home.

So it is with the transition from  “global warming” into “climate change”. Say “global warming” and you are actually referring to a real thing (or not); say  “climate change” and , as well as showing yourself to be one of the enlightened, you have also escaped any pretence of holding a disprovable proposition. Heating up – climate change; cooling off- climate change. Floods, drought: it is all change we have caused.

The difference between weather and climate is whatever the Left says it is.

Thus this weekend’s comic pages had this gem from the usually astute Wiley Miller:

 

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“First of all,” says dad from the armchair, “the correct term is climate change, and the increasing severity of storms is all indicative of….”

“No preachy science junk on a Saturday, okay?”

Dad asks the well-behaved daughter: :How long is his anti-knowledge trend going to last?”

-“As long as there’s an Internet”.

The obvious implication, for the politically minded, is to regulate the Internet so that no facts contradictory to the dominant  man-made global warming narrative are allowed.

Just you wait my friends, this is coming to us, and its backers will not be confined to the political Left, or the Muslims, though they will lead the way in being offended.

It will not be justified on the basis of science, or knowledge, because the proponents of this sort of repression are ignorant of science and lacking in knowledge. It will be justified on the basis that some narratives are just too insensitive to be tolerated.

Remember, the correct term is climate change. Correct as in 2+2-4? Ah no! Correct as in “in conformity with the latest emanation of the anti-church of political correctness”.

The one thing I will say in favour of Islam is that, in Islam,  what is correct and incorrect does not shift weekly. It is ordained by God from the time of Mohammed’s revelations for evermore. That is why the cultural Left and Islam are on the same course, and will eventually converge. People of that sort, having developed no internal morality, and believing no internal morality is legitimate or possible,  will seek certainty and permanence in Islam’s arbitrary rules about what is correct – or incorrect (haram).

In Islam they are neither Eskimos nor Inuit; they are only kuffar, and may be treated accordingly. Islam claims to be a simple and practical guide to all of life’s problems, and its unflinching, unyielding rules are intended to avoid precisely the moral confusion which freedom allows.

With Islam, the labels are attached by the culture/religion/society rather than by personal inclination, and they never change.

So when Islamic Dad says “the correct term” for this is that, he is backed up by an entire culture, society and legal system, by force of death, if necessary, administered by one’s male relatives to general applause.

It is a Leftist’s dream come true. Stay tuned folks, this is where we are heading.

 

Egypt’s President calls it as it is

From Raymond Ibrahim, this report of President Sisi of Egypt calling for an Islamic reformation:

Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, and in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made what must be his most forceful and impassioned plea to date on the subject.

Among other things, Sisi said that the “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years” are  “antagonizing the entire world”; that it is not “possible that 1.6 billion people [reference to the world’s Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live”; and that Egypt (or the Islamic world in its entirety) “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

The relevant excerpt from Sisi’s speech follows (translation by Michele Antaki):

I am referring here to the religious clerics.   We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before.  It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

I have two observations. The first is, yes, true, and about time. Its significance is that what he says is true and that he says it at all.

The second is this. I checked all the usual anti-Islamic sites: Vlad Tepes, Front Page Mag, Jihad Watch, and Gates of Vienna, and I found no coverage of this epochal speech by mid-day Monday January 4th. Raymond Ibrahim blogged the speech on January 1st 2015.

Were all the anti-Islamicists dumb-struck? They can usually be relied upon to have pictures and text of every Islamic idiocy, criminality and act of aggression within hours of its commission, and every act of dhimmitude reported within the same time.

So why so slow to report on Sisi’s speech? Does an act of sanity on the part of an Islamic leader (or secular leader of a majority Islamic state) cause them too much distress? Or do they confer with each other until they can figure of what  “line” is to be taken?

I am reminded of the report of a tourist in France watching the young intelligentsia refuse to answer a political question at breakfast. He was waiting until the French communist newspaper, Liberation, was printed so that he knew what the line would be on the issue of the day.

Okay, you anti-Islamic bloggistas, here is your line on the Al-Sisi speech from Commander Dalwhinnie: it is hugely important!  It could signal the start of something important in the Islamic world, for which we fervently pray. Moreover, it will empower more western leaders and citizens to say aloud what is obvious about Islam at this stage of its evolution: it is a murderous creed and it is pissing everyone off.

There is only so much reality people can ignore before they emerge from their politically correct bastions to observe the obvious – and comment upon it to their equally liberal minded neighbours. This may be just such a pivotal moment.

Quite possibly the most racist thing you will read this year

Confessions of a Public Defender drew this comment from Allen West, who agreed that it described the situation of American black underclass behaviour.
By “racist” is meant “describes the behaviour observed without resort to exculpatory ruses such as blaming the situation on other people’s racism”. So in this sense, the description offered by the unnamed American public defender is not racist at all; it is merely an accurate description of the behaviour observed.

This quote is drawn from a description of the thugs who beat two girls at a cash register.

This inability to see things from someone else’s perspective helps explain why there are so many black criminals. They do not understand the pain they are inflicting on others. One of my robbery clients is a good example. He and two co-defendants walked into a small store run by two young women. All three men were wearing masks. They drew handguns and ordered the women into a back room. One man beat a girl with his gun. The second man stood over the second girl while the third man emptied the cash register. All of this was on video.

My client was the one who beat the girl. When he asked me, “What are our chances at trial?” I said, “Not so good.” He immediately got angry, raised his voice, and accused me of working with the prosecution. I asked him how he thought a jury would react to the video. “They don’t care,” he said. I told him the jury would probably feel deeply sympathetic towards these two women and would be angry at him because of how he treated them. I asked him whether he felt bad for the women he had beaten and terrorized. He told me what I suspected—what too many blacks say about the suffering of others: “What do I care? She ain’t me. She ain’t kin. Don’t even know her.”

The anonymous Public Defender concluded:

However, my experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.

I do not know the solution to this problem. I do know that it is wrong to deceive the public. Whatever solutions we seek should be based on the truth rather than what we would prefer was the truth. As for myself, I will continue do my duty to protect the rights of all who need me.

 

What makes so difficult public discussion of events, such as those that took place at Ferguson Missouri this year, is the total inability of any public figure to refer to a commonly observed but absolutely forbidden-to-mention reality of how American blacks of the underclass actually behave.

This vast and effective social prohibition makes it possible for many people to believe that the police are oppressing the black underclass, and that this is bad. Whereas, in truth, they are oppressing the black underclass barely enough to let white liberals drive to work in safety and tut-tut as they tune into National Public Radio reporting on Ferguson Missouri and police over-reaction.

It is so much easier to blame white racism, or anything handy, than to confront the reality of racial differences.

I notice the same thing with the Conservative government and global warming. They are allowed to say anything except that the phenomenon does not exist.

Whence do we get these vast and effective limits on thought and speech?

The inability to tolerate the truth is the persistent trait of the politically correct. The truth is what they insist that it is, and there is no objective standard against which to measure. In addition, there is no reason whereby to measure, there are only various “narratives” based on sex, class and power. The politically correct have abandoned faith in reason, because reason and objective standards stand in the way of their wish-fulfilment social policies. The only issue is who controls the “narrative”, in short, who shall rule.

It is by abandonment of faith in reason that we engender the social agreement to enforce the rules on what may be said and thought, that makes these prohibitions possible. There is no KGB doing this to us. It is we alone who are to blame.

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

Education in a Communist system

A few postings ago, a Serbian intellectual now living in the United States opined that the education in a communist regime was, in many instances, better than the politically correct hogwash fed to our children through unionized teachers and provincial education departments. Why is this so? It is not a trivial question.

Why, despite the obeisance they all had to make to Marxism, did Eastern European children end up with sounder fundamentals than Western kids educated in our touchy-feely system? Logic, grammar, foreign languages, mathematics, composition, rigor: those elements missing from contemporary public schools.

Reading an obituary today of Dennis O’Keeffe, written by the British libertarian Sean Gabb, I came across an answer. Sean Gabb’s wife came from Czechoslovakia, then a Soviet satellite, and her question for Professor O’Keeffe (which in the circumstances she did not ask) was the one posed above.

Dennis had been denouncing socialism in education, she told me afterwards. Yet she had received a standard socialist education in Czechoslovakia – nothing special, as she didn’t come from the privileged orders in that country—and this was vastly better than anything she had seen in England. She left school with a stock of mathematical and scientific knowledge that most undergraduates here don’t have. Including Czech, she also learnt four other languages. History and the other humanities, she admitted, were a joke; and probably the universities were far worse than ours outside the purely scientific faculties…

 

Had she asked her question—and I wish she had—I am sure Dennis would have answered it as follows. Her country before 1989 was run by East European Communists. Yes, they had all the ridiculous economics of Marxism, and the police state means of enforcing them on the people. But they shared with Marx the old Germanic respect for learning and belief in its potential for improvement. Our own lefties are just an embittered clique of anti-nomians. They retain a vaguely Marxist economics, but are untouched by the educational traditions that Marx and his East European followers unthinkingly accepted. What they deliver here is an education that sends 20 per cent of working class children illiterate into the adult world, and the other 80 per cent ignorant of history, mathematics, the natural sciences, and just about everything else worth knowing.

“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.

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.