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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Roses are Red, Butterflies Are Blue

Would that look better in blue?

Try, as I just did, typing the following string into Google’s search bar:

blue butterfly face painting toxic masculinity

I come up with pages of results, all referring to one story, now circulating in media social and conventional.

It is about a kid who asked to have a blue butterfly painted on his face at some local carnival affair, and his parents refused to allow it. They had the clown paint a skull and crossbones instead.

This seemingly trivial matter has been assigned a cosmic significance. It demonstrates where “toxic masculinity” comes from. It accounts for “male violence.” All because of a painted butterfly.

Isn’t this chaos theory or something?

I think the parents might have been too controlling in refusing the blue butterfly. But I can see where they are coming from. And it has nothing to do with inculcating in small boys a love of violence. That is pure fantasy.

True, their preferred image, the pirate’s skull and crossbones, seems to imply violence. But I doubt that is the message that would be taken by a young child. The immediate associations are freedom from restraints and adventure. See the opening scene of Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” 

Too violent for boys?

Sure, elements of a pirate’s, or a cowboy’s, life involve violence. But then again, you can get violence out of a butterfly’s life too, if you know anything about Darwinian theory. A toss up, from either the kid’s or the parents’ point of view, on that score.

I find it hard to believe in any case that any parents anywhere would actually want their kids to be violent. For one thing, it would be obviously against the parents’ own interest.

Nor was the problem of the butterfly that it suggested the child was sensitive to beauty. It might be, given a certain kind of parent, but this has nothing in particular to do with sex roles. Few parents would really begrudge their son a butterfly collection, for example. An appreciation of beauty is actually built or inculcated into boys and men more than it is in women. After all, men are more likely to be attracted to beauty in a mate than are women.

No, the problem was in putting it on his face. In wanting to have the butterfly painted on his face, the boy seemed to draw attention to himself and present himself as beautiful.

Not cool. This is a privilege allowed only to girls. Girls growing up are told they are beautiful princesses; their egos are constantly stroked. Boys are not told they are handsome princes. The thought is nauseating. Describe it being done with a boy, and you assume he is being spoiled into becoming a monster.

The reality is, we are a lot tougher on boys than on girls, growing up. (And in adulthood, for that matter.) The discrimination is all on that side.

But then, there is something to be said for learning the difference between good and evil, success and failure, where your rights end and the rights of the other begin. This dos not come from constant praise.

Boys are raised to be moral.

Girls are raised to be violent if they do not get their way.

This has been socially acceptable in the past because, by the time a girl, being physically weaker, was old enough to really be a problem, she was generally someone else’s problem.

It is that attitude that should probably change.

Monday, August 21, 2017

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No Statues of Traitors?

Statue of Louis Riel in front of the Manitoba legislature.

I have now seen a new justification for tearing down Civil War memorials.

A commentator on CNN argued against the statues of Lee and other Confederate figures on the grounds that they took up arms against the US. So why on earth is public money being spend on memorials to traitors? Treason should not be commemorated.

It sounds reasonable—but. By that standard, consider what other statues must come down. In Canada, no commemorating Louis Riel, William Lyon Mackenzie, or Louis-Joseph Papineau, all of whom are honoured and mostly revered. Mackenzie’s house in Toronto is a public museum, and the tone is entirely laudatory. No memorials or commemoration of Sitting Bull, Pontiac, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and many other Indian leaders. Sound good? Also, no John Brown commemorations. He was hanged for treason.

Statue of Crazy Horse in progress.

And, then too, the only difference between Lee and Washington is that Washington's treason succeeded. Washington wanted independence from the home government in London. Lee wanted independence from the home government in Washington. Washington won; Lee lost. The only difference between Robert E. Lee and Sam Houston is that Houston won, in separating Texas from Mexico, and Lee lost, in separating Virginia from the U.S.

Is that really enough to claim such absolute moral high ground?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Dymphna Complex: A Summary

A friend of mine has told me he cannot really make head nor tail of what I am going on about with my recent postings on depression and the Dymphna Complex. He says it is all at "too high a level."

I do not mean to be obscure.

Perhaps it will help to summarize.

1. What we call depression is usually if not always PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder): it is the lasting result of some significant experience of stress. It is shell shock.

The symptoms are the same. The same treatments work on both. The matter seems obvious.

2. In most cases, this significant experience of stress will be in childhood. It can happen otherwise, obviously, as in war, but war is a fairly rare experience. Aside from war, childhood is the most likely place for such trauma to be experienced. A child is uniquely vulnerable.

Yeats once observed that it was wrong to imagine that most children’s childhood was idyllic. For some, perhaps, but not for others. Lacking prior experience, the child does not comprehend that all things change. If things are good, he supposes they will be good forever. That is the childhood idyll. But if, on the other hand, things are bad, he supposes this too will go on forever. The child’s psyche is especially vulnerable to developing a fixed attitude of fear or despair.

3. The most likely cause of such stress or trauma in childhood is abuse by parents.

The parent is, by the nature of that relationship, all-powerful. For a number of vital years, he or she is the source and ground of being for the child. It is expecting a lot of human nature to suppose that all human adults are prepared to use this overwhelming power responsibly and in the best interest of the child. It is only too probable that some will come home to “kick” the kid, just as in cartoons a man who has had a bad day might come home and kick the dog. An individual who does not see others as fully human is going to use their children badly as a matter of course—seeing them as their possessions.

This can be so even if the child is superficially favoured. Toys can be favoured too. Are they favoured for themselves, or seen as an extension of the parent?

This explains the rapid growth in depression in the postwar era. It naturally comes with the loss of the extended, and then even the nuclear, family. When the extended family is intact, no one self-centred parent can bully or possess the child completely. There are checks and balances. When we are down to just the nuclear family, the odds for kids are worse. It is only too likely that a natural bully will have married a doormat. And they are worse again in a one-parent family, as is increasingly the norm. A lot of kids are getting used like rag dolls. A lot are dying emotionally in these trenches.

4. Such abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional. The most damaging is emotional.

We think we are aware of the problem of child abuse. But there is deliberate or accidental misdirection here. To begin with, we automatically suppose this comes from someone outside the family. Statistically, we know, this is not the case. To make it worse, there is a common lunkheaded insistence that only physical harm counts. If you don't see cigarette burns, there's nothing there. Everybody worries about spanking and about sexual abuse. 

This is rather trivial. Obviously, the psyche cares more about psychic things; which is to say, emotional blows. Messages that they are unloved, unlovable, worthless; that their position is insecure. That they do not matter. That whatever they do is wrong. 

This lack of awareness of the risks again tends to allow abusive parents carte blanche to abuse.

5. This fact, that depression is caused by abusive and selfish parenting, was clear in antiquity; we find it, for example, in all the myths. We find it in almost every fairy tale.

It has always been pretty obvious.

6. It was obvious to Freud as well, in his clinical practice, when he began to listen to depressed patients. He pointed to sexual abuse as the invariable cause of depression in his early work.

It remains, then, pretty obvious.

7. Later, Freud suppressed this theory and proposed instead the “Oedipus Complex,” which just about reversed everything. It relied on the basic premise that patients always lie. Instead of the parent abusing the child, neurosis was all about the child wanting to kill the parent.

But Freud does not really give his reasons for this reversal. The reasons he gave in private correspondence do not justify it.

This is the real mystery: why is this blindingly obvious thing being suppressed? And not just by Freud or the Freudians, either. Although the evidence has obviously been plain since antiquity, as we see in the hero legends, we have also always had widespread denial. For millennia, we had the old doctrine of the four humours. Like the psychiatry of the nineties, it wanted to insist it was all a matter of “chemical imbalance.” Depression was caused by too much "black bile" in the system.

Why has everyone been ducking the obvious explanation?

In the natural course of things, children are weak; adults are stronger. Adults will tend to stick together for their interests against children. Don't believe me? Witness the current attitude towards abortion. 

On top of that, the sort of person who is chronically selfish and out for themselves is the sort of person who will abuse their children, and see them as possessions. Exactly the same sort of person is likely to achieve power over others in the wider world, because it is what they want, and because they will be ruthless to obtain it. Therefore, calling out child abusers within the family, and calling out the parents of the depressed, is going to involve making implicit accusations against some powerful forces. 

There is a reason why Satan is called "the prince of this world."

For n additional reason, it is congenitally difficult for the emotionally abused child to directly blame and condemn the guilty parent. He or she has been raised in the foundational belief that the parent is wonderful, that what they think is all important, and that all failings are their own. That is a hard cycle to break. It is a leap into the void.

Therefore, just possibly, the issue of child abuse and of depression is the fundamental issue of all psychology, and at the same time the fundamental issue for sociology. 

It is also, I suspect, the key to the story of Jesus of Nazareth. He called to himself the children, and he called to himself those who mourn. Go through the Beatitudes; they read like a diagnostic manual for depression. And he placed the blame, pretty directly: check out his parallel condemnations of the Pharisees.

Interestingly, the Buddha too said his message was fundamentally for those who mourn. The first Noble Truth was that all existence is “dukkha.” “Dukkha,” sometimes rendered “ill-being,” or “suffering,” translates fairly well as “depression.” It is those who experience it as so who are ready to enter on the path.

Which brings us to the most important point. Fixing blame for depression is one thing, and it is an important thing. It is an important part of the cure, surely, for depressives to see through what their parents have done. It is the tragedy of Oedipus that he cannot.

But the Buddha and Jesus point to it, as do many artists.

Broadly, this is escape into the life of the mind. Contemplation of the true reality of things, far from the madding crowd.

It is the life of the monk, the nun, the philosopher, the (true) scholar, the (true) artist.

This is the door through which the fairy godmother appears: God knows his own, and they know him.

There is an additional factor that should be mentioned here: given a selfish parent, it is the exceptionally talented child, the strong, the smart, the beautiful, who will be most abused. They are the greatest threat to the parent (and, not incidentally, to any other egotistic people they may encounter later on in life). Hence the striking association of depression with both genius and, as Aristotle pointed out, heroes. And, in every fairy tale, with girls of great beauty.

And the Jews. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Art for Politics' Sake

The height of trite: Whenever government puts out something on the arts, it must be illustrated by people dancing. This is from the home page of the PCHA. Art, by contrast, will strive for something fresh and surprising. 

The insanity continues to spread. Now all seventeen appointed members of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities have resigned in protest against Trump’s even-handed response to the rioting in Charlottesville.

To be fair, these were all Obama appointees, and so may be primarily political hacks. But still—there is something very wrong when every appointed member of the committee on Arts and Humanities is actually opposed to Arts and Humanities.

Maybe this demonstrates the wisdom of the common people in electing Trump. It shows the depravity of the artistic elite. “The Treason of the Intellectuals,” it has been called by one French author. Those in charge in the Arts and Humanities not only no longer believe in either the Arts or the Humanities—they openly and eagerly want to tear them both down.

Here is the full joint resignation letter, with commentary interposed:

Dear Mr. President:
Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville.

[You know something evil is afoot when there is an obvious lie in the first sentence. Trump condemned these groups in a press conference, even before the incident in which someone got killed. He has arguably been a lot better than his immediate predecessor in condemning terrorism.]

The false equivalencies you push cannot stand. The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions.

[Did any of these guys condemn the hate? Are they prepared to even now? Have they, and will they, condemn Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and La Raza? If, on the other hand, they are adamant in condemning only “white” people, or white males, or cis white males—they are the hate.]

We are members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The Committee was created in 1982 under President Reagan to advise the White House on cultural issues.

[This looks deceitful—the current members have nothing to do with President Reagan, but were appointed by Obama. They looak as though they are trying to make it appear they do. So much for their moral character.]

We were hopeful that continuing to serve in the PCAH would allow us to focus on the important work the committee does with your federal partners and the private sector to address, initiate, and support key policies and programs in the arts and humanities for all Americans.

[And how exactly is Trump interfering with their doing this? No, clearly, these resigning members of the committee are doing this, not Trump, allowing their politics to come before their stated jobs, and then blaming Trump for it. Lie once, and you will lie about everything.]

Effective immediately, please accept our resignation from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. 
Elevating any group that threatens and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, orientation, background, or identity is un-American.

[Indeed it is. And that is just what these committee members are doing. But note that term, “un-American.” It is an interesting term. What might it imply?]

We have fought slavery, segregation, and internment.

[No, I wager you have not. You merely benefit from that fight. You are trying to take credit for the good deeds and hard choices and sacrifices of others. This again reveals your moral character, and it is not attractive to look at.]

We must learn from our rich and often painful history. The unified fabric of America is made by patriotic individuals from backgrounds as vast as the nation is strong. In our service to the American people,

[More cringeworthy self-congratulation. One wildly imagines the American people might be capable of, and prefer, speaking for themselves. Like in electing their president, say.]

we have experienced this first-hand as we traveled and built the Turnaround Arts education program, now in many urban and rural schools across the country from Florida to Wisconsin. 
Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion.

[No, it is not. First off, art is not about “Speaking truth to power.” This is insisting that art must be subservient to, and serve, politics. This is a fundamentally anti-art position. Nor is art about “inclusion.” Neither museums, galleries, nor literary publications accept all comers. Just the reverse: It would be truer to say that art is about exclusion. Good art is the rejection of bad art, and of all the humdrum and humbug in the world. These people actually have no sense of what art is.]

The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both.

[Trump has attacked neither—neither inclusion nor a free press; whether or not either has to do with art. (And neither really does.) The left, however, with their “hate speech” and “political correctness,” and open hostility to “cis white males” has.

This is one of the main pillars of Trump’s appeal to his constituency: the fight for a free press and freedom of speech. Perhaps the main one.

Racists call anti-racists racists, and themselves anti-racists. Fascists call anti-Fascists Fascists, and themselves anti-Fascists. If you want to do something you know is wrong, the first instinct is to call it the opposite of what it is. You love your children by aborting them. Freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. After all, you work for the Ministry of Truth.]

You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding.

[Morality, in other words, means giving more money to bureaucrats. Or, as Jesus called them, Pharisees. Bureaucrats are not the poor, and they are not the artists.

Note that it was not Trump that threatened nuclear war, It was Kim Jong Un. Once you have walked through the wonderland mirror, everything is presented as its opposite.]

The Administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Act, and attacked our brave trans service members.

[Never mind the arguments for or against each of these policy decisions; never mind even if what they say is literally true, as of course it is not. This is to chain the arts and humanities arbitrarily to specific policy decisions. To do so is obviously against the interests of the arts and humanities. It is to enslave and then destroy them for your political purposes.]

You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women & children from our great country.

[Another outright lie. Trump has never proposed banning “refugee women and children” from the US. Unless perhaps they mean to suggest that it is immoral to deny automatic entry to any woman or child who claims to be a refugee. In which case, besides being profoundly harmful to the US, this policy would be sexist in the extreme. Only women, and not men?

Trump has never called for anything more than a temporary ban on allowing Muslims into the country. But, even if he had proposed a permanent and total ban, even this would have been a perfectly defensible position. Nobody has an inherent right to immigrate, and no country believes they do. Countries, as voluntary associations, have a right to choose to exclude as well as include when deciding their membership. How they treat citizens—members – is a different issue. Some grounds for discrimination might yet be frivolous, but surely not religion. Religion means values, and shared values are fundamental to the ability of any society to succeed.]

This does not unify the nation we all love.

[I think the charge of dividing the nation falls heavily on those who have been pushing “identity politics” for generations. That would be the left. If these folks are against identity politics, why have they been silent for so long? And they are still pushing division and identity politics here and now. They demand that Trump condemn only one side in a riot with two sides, both using violence. What could be more divisive?]

We know the importance of open and free dialogue through our work in the cultural diplomacy realm, most recently with the first-ever US Government arts and culture delegation to Cuba, a country without the same First Amendment protections we enjoy here.

[I thought they were in favour of First Amendment principles. They just said they were. Shouldn’t this mean condemning Cuba? Sequitur, meet non. I expected those with backgrounds in the Humanities would have some command of basic logic.]

Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed.

[This is an assertion without any visible argument or evidence. It immediately follows what seems to be a demand for closer ties with Cuba. How empty can rhetoric get?]

Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.

[Again, this is just employing prejudicial language. They offer no examples of “hateful rhetoric,” only the assertion. Yeah, and your mother is ugly!]

We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

[Interesting. They seem to be using this as if to pull rank. Are they unaware that the President also takes such an oath? They seem to be implying he does not. Nor do they explain how resigning from an arts advisory council supports or defends the US Constitution--even if Trump were somehow violating it. If he were, the recourse would be to the Supreme Court.]

Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values.

[Again, a bit of prejudicial language. Without argument or evidence, at least none apparent here, they are simply asserting that Trump believes in “supremacy” (presumably they mean “white supremacy,” because the word “supremacy” here without a modifier is nonsensical. Anyone with a background in the Humanities ought to understand this much English), discrimination (presumably they mean “racial discrimination”; same problem), and “vitriol.” Maybe Trump believes in vitriol. He should; there is obviously a place for vitriol. Presumably the authors of this letter also believe in vitriol, since they are employing it themselves.

Making them, in their own terms, “not American.”

But then, they also clearly imply there is something wrong with that. Isn’t this the height of nativism? If there is something wrong with being “not American,” what does this say about immigrants? Are they so utterly lacking in self-awareness as not to see this?]

We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.

How is that for claiming the moral high ground? They are declaring themselves “better” in some vague but absolute moral sense. In morality, saying it is always the obvious substitute for doing it.

And, the first letters of each paragraph in the letter, together, spell the word “resist.” Just in case you imagined this was all non-partisan and disinterested.

The final and most important irony is that at the event which initiated this resignation, one side had assembled in support of art and the humanities, and the other side was adamantly opposed to them. We cannot honestly know what else the “alt-right” side believed in; they were not permitted to speak. But one thing we do know with certainty: they were there to protest pulling down a public art installation commemorating American history. There you have it: Art and the Humanities, as they intersect with public life. The one thing we can know for certain about the other side—some have called them the “alt-left,” but we really have no better idea who they were and what they thought—is that they approved this pulling down of monuments.

Trump tried to be neutral. But guess which side his Arts and Humanities Commission falls down on?

They are working against exactly what they were appointed to protect.

On one issue, then, they were right. They absolutely ought to all have resigned.

One hopes Trump will appoint some people who actually like the Arts and Humanities. Or at least know something about them.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reactions to Charlottesville

Desecration of the corpse of Mussolini
Everybody’s talking about the Charlottesville riots.

Many, even most, claim that Trump was wrong to blame both sides. I think the arguments I have heard for this claim are not tenable.

When Ted Nugent repeated the obvious point that both sides were being violent, and both deserved condemnation, he was interrupted with the question, “Would you have said that had the driver of the car that rammed the crowd been a Muslim terrorist?”

I would. Here’s the comparable scenario: Muslims gather for a rally somewhere—say Charlottesville. Somewhere they are a minority. Perhaps they chant anti-”Infidel” slogans; perhaps not. They carry bats and so forth, no doubt; that is ominous. A group of anti-Muslim protesters quickly gather in the same place, armed and determined to break up that rally. Fighting breaks out.

Some Muslim rams the opposing crowd with a car.

This is very different from a terrorist attack, and I would just as readily say there was blame on both sides, about equally – apart from one specific act of apparent murder, for which one individual is presumably responsible.

Chris Cuomo on CNN asks, “but can’t you see that these statues are deeply upsetting to a group of your fellow citizens”? Paul Krugman asks, “Would we feel okay about statues in Germany celebrating Rommel?”

Answer: there actually are statues of Rommel in Germany, I am told, and nobody has seen a problem. Why not? There are carefully tended grave sites throughout northern France commemorating German war dead from WWII. A man who risks or sacrifices his life deserves respect, regardless of which side he fought for. It is disgusting and cowardly to kick an opponent after he is down, defeated and dead. As Churchill himself said publicly when he heard of the murder of Mussolini; and he used that word, “cowardly.” There is nothing admirable in it.

But then too, even the initial premise is false. It is a false moral equivalence to compare the Confederacy to Nazi Germany. For a number of reasons:

First, Hitler invaded and sought to conquer foreign lands who had not declared war on him: Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, the USSR. The Confederacy invaded no one, and sought only to achieve self-government. They were the invaded party.

Second, slavery is not comparable to genocide. Both are moral evils, but the one is vastly more evil than the other. It was entirely possible for good men to believe that slavery was actually of benefit to the enslaved Africans; that they had it better than their compatriots back in Africa, and were learning from the supposed tutelage. Nobody in good conscience could believe that genocide was in the interests of the Jews.

Third, Nazi Germany was relatively unique in its policy of racial genocide. There are other historical examples, but probably none so systematic and obvious as Nazi Germany. By contrast, the Confederacy was one of many states, in its day, that practiced slavery. Slavery was still legal throughout South and Central America, throughout Africa, throughout the Muslim world, and throughout the Far East. It was its abolition in the US North that was the exception. So it is discriminatory to single out the Confederacy for special condemnation here. They were worse than the Northerners; they were better than most others. If we are going to wipe out all traces of the history of the Confederacy for this, we are going to have to wipe out most of the world’s history. This would be a true crime against humanity.

Am I not promoting hate groups here? Weren't these guys white supremacists?

Perhaps. The problem is, we will never know. They have been so characterized by others. But the counter-protesters managed to prevent them from being allowed to speak for themselves. So all we have to go on is the word of their enemies. Given the circumstances, it is only sane and proper to give them the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, even if they were white supremacists or neo-Nazis, they have the same right as anyone to assemble and to speak, and that right was denied them.

Some American blacks are quite upset over the issue. But they are responsible for their own feelings. Nobody else owes something to them for this reason. Fair comparison: I am myself of mostly Irish ancestry. I surely have a similar reason to get upset at any references to Churchill, Peel, Wellington, the Union Jack, the Queen, or the British connection in Canada.

Do I? Good lord, no. Doesn’t it obviously seem absurd?

To do so would be, in the first place, grotesquely self-centred and self-important. In the second, it would be racist—it would be the sort of “blood guilt” that long justified pogroms against the Jews. It would be ignoring the many good deeds of the British—such as ending the worldwide slave trade, or opening up Canada and Australia to Irish settlement.

And it would above all be utterly childish. To react in such a way is to say as much as that you cannot handle adult life and adult responsibility. You need to be taken care of—by someone, anyone.

Great message to be promoting, guys. Be careful what you wish.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fascists Always Call Themselves Anti-Fascists. Racists Always Call Themselves Anti-Racists

"Not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Over the last couple of days, people have been coming out and declaring themselves against “racism.”

The problem is, they are not really against racism. They are for it. To the terrible crime of racism, they are adding the terrible crime of lying about it, muddying the waters for those of us who are genuinely opposed to it.

Because when they say they are against racism, what they actually mean is that they are against the groups who assembled in Charlottesville recently to protest taking down the Robert E. Lee statue.

At least some of these groups practiced “white identity politics,” agreed. And white identity politics is racism. Fair enough.

But then, so is “black identity politics.” So is Black Lives Matter. So is “Hispanic identity politics.” So is La Raza. So is Muslim identity politics. So is “CAIR.” And on and on.

So what is racist is to protest against one, and not the others. That is saying that “whites” should not have the same rights as “blacks,” or “Hispanics,” or Muslims. And that is the real racism.

You actually hear statements like “only whites can be racists.” And “all whites are racist.” That is about as racist as a statement can be. An identifiable group of people are all being held guilty of something because of the colour of their skin.

I know what the response to my argument here will be: that racism has to do with power, and so, since straight white males have all the power in current North American society, only they can be racist.

There is a kernel of truth in there. Racism becomes truly dangerous only when exercised by political power—by the government. Individuals are, and ought to be, free to have their differing opinions. Including individuals freely associating in groups.

But who has that political power?

The clearest proof is, who do the laws favour? Whose statues, say, are the government authorities currently tearing down?

How many laws require “affirmative action” for straight white males? How much government money is being publicly put into programs specifically for whites, and white males? What are the laws about bequeathing scholarship endowments for white males, as contrasted to blacks, women, or Hispanics?

In other words, by the obvious test, the clear and present danger right now is racism/sexism against white males, not against blacks, Hispanics, or Muslims.

But, you may say, whites are the majority. Only minorities need protection.

In a democracy, it is true, the majority can run roughshod over a minority. This is a constant danger in a democracy; which is why we have checks and balances against it. Any despised minority can be scapegoated and brutalized by a democratic majority.

Now, guess who is a minority? Straight white males. The doctrine of “intersectionality” has conveniently and seemingly consciously parsed it all so that everyone else is separated off, leaving a minority that can be safely scapegoated. This is no different than had the target been blacks, or Jews, or Freemasons, or gypsies, or “the one percent”: you define your enemy as a minority, and then you can go after them.

Ah, you will object, but this particular minority has a disproportionate amount of financial and political power. So they are still getting more than their fair share.

Fine. Exactly the same argument could be, and was, used, against the Jews in Nazi Germany. They were better off and better educated, on the whole, than other Germans. One could not, then, by definition, be anti-Semitic, right? The Nazis were not racists, right? Only Jews could be racists?

The current rampant and growing racism and sexism against straight white males follows the familiar parabola of racism everywhere. The racists always begin by identifying themselves as the “oppressed”; they are just getting their own back. The Nazis said the Germans to have been viciously oppressed in the Versailles Peace Treaty, at the hands of the international Jews. Mussolini deffined Italy as a “proletarian nation” oppressed by the “plutocracies.” Before the Civil War, the Confederates, with reason, considered themselves an oppressed minority within the Union, being repeatedly pushed around by the more populous and wealthier north. After that war, the KKK considered themselves a purely defensive movement to defend poor Southerners oppressed by the northern carpetbaggers. In apartheid South Africa, the Boers considered themselves to have been oppressed by the British who came in, conquered, and put them in concentration camps. And wanted to throw them to the mercies of the fierce, oppressive Zulus.

This is all simply prejudice and racism as the game has always been played.

There is only one way to end discrimination: you stop discriminating.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

North Korea Calls off Their Guam Attack

It is not surprising that North Korea has now backed down from its threat to fire a missile at Guam. To do so would have been idiotic. In the first place, it is unlikely North Korea really could land a missile anywhere near Guam, and trying to do so would just demonstrate their incapacity. In the second, trying to do so would give the US justification for hitting North Korea without Chinese intervention.

So why did Kim Jong Un make such a stupid threat in the first place? Because North Korea has been trained to do it. Danegeld. They threaten war, fire some artillery, test-fire a missile, and the US and Japan rush to the negotiating table and offer them something to stop. And so far, the US has been stupid enough to fall for it every time.

It looks like Trump called their bluff. Say what you will; he knows how to negotiate.

Will the Norks now still persist with their nuclear programme? Perhaps not. What is in it for them, if the cannot use it for ransom purposes? After all, no matter what, if North Korea goes nuclear against anyone, they get wiped out.

Not that we are justified in being sanguine about it all. They can still sell technology to others to whom it might be more useful...