Recently I made reference to the criticism Simon Leys made of a book by Maria-Antonietta Macchiocchi. He said that the most charitable interpretation that could be put on it was that it was the product of stupidity; any other interpretation must involve outright fraud on the part of the authoress.
I once made use of a rather similar argument myself, in another context and before I knew of Leys’ criticism of Macchiocchi. I had written an article just after NATO had finished bombing Serbia suggesting that its cruise missiles should be turned on the thousands of hideous modern buildings in Great Britain. I was sure that British readers would have their own suggestions as to those that stood most urgently in need of demolition, but I suggested (for a start) certain modern buildings in the otherwise beautiful town of Shrewsbury, constructed no doubt at the behest and with the connivance of corrupt town councillors.
The latter, or some of them, were outraged, and I was asked to appear on the local radio with one of them.
“Are you saying that Shrewsbury town councillors are corrupt?” he asked.
“Don’t you understand,” I said (though I may at this distance in time be paraphrasing), “that that is the charitable interpretation? We all like money, so we can all understand if the council allowed these buildings for money. But if it were for some other reason… No, no, I can’t think as badly of you as that.”
Another suitable target for demolition that I suggested in my little article, the Giffard Hotel in Worcester, should really have been called the Elena Ceausescu Hotel. This single building managed to ruin an entire city once and for all; an 18th-century terrace of houses in the vicinity of the ancient cathedral was pulled down to make way for a large, gray, concrete rectangular slab that would not have been out of place in the suburbs of Moscow. (Someone I knew rescued the wainscoting of the demolished houses, which otherwise would have been merely thrown away.)
A local newspaper ran a headline:
‘Spectator’ says bomb Worcester!
And once again I was asked onto the local radio to discuss the matter with the unfortunate manager of the Giffard Hotel.
“What you have to remember,” he said, “is that it was built in the 1960s.”
“Yes,” I replied, “that is what I am complaining of.”
“Have you ever been inside?” he asked.
“I don’t need to go inside,” I replied. “I can see it’s awful and ought to be demolished.”
“What if I gave you lunch?”
“I don’t see what lunch has to do with it,” I said.
What if I gave you lunch?: In these five words are the key to the soul of modern Great Britain, now the world leader in what might be called corruption-without-real-corruption, a typical product of Anglo-Saxon humbug and hypocrisy. The manager (poor fellow) thought that a free lunch—free to me, that is—would be sufficient for me to write that I found the Giffard Hotel to be beautiful after all, and not the architectural monstrosity that I had at first described. And he probably thought this because it had been his experience of life that everyone has his price, namely the price of a free lunch.
Freud wrote of the narcissism of small differences (when people become very similar, tiny things that distinguish them take on an exaggerated marginal importance); but he might just as well have spoken of the narcissism of small perquisites. A man who partakes of a free lunch—free to him, that is—feels during it like a conqueror, a person who has cunningly wrested an undeserved reward from a miserly world. He has triumphed briefly in the struggle for existence.
As it happens, I believe that corruption can play an important positive role in certain circumstances. Where official regulation is absurd, onerous, and obstructive, corruption cuts through it and thereby increases efficiency to many people’s advantage. It would, perhaps, be better if circumstances were otherwise, but we cannot always wait before acting until circumstances are as we should have wished them to be.
I think this week marks my fortieth anniversary as a Spectator columnist, but I’m not 100 percent certain. All I know is that I was 39 or 40 years old when the column began, and that I’ve just had my 81st birthday. Keeping a record is not my strong point, and it’s also a double-edged knife. I once planned to publish my diary, but then I stopped keeping one. I found passages in it that were in a way dishonest, written in the heat of the moment, most likely under the influence, the result being bum-clenching embarrassment. Now I don’t use any social media, certainly not Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, being a firm believer that Zuckerberg and Bezos should be locked up for life for aiding and abetting terrorism. The pair’s other crime is being much too ugly, and we all know that the ancient Greeks thought that looks were a mirror to one’s soul. We’ve all read how Zuckerberg stole the idea from two dumb WASPs, and how Bezos’ business is the business of shutting down other businesses. Forty years in the pokey for each of them would make this a better world. And, incidentally, the world would be much more super-duper if we had more of Jacob Rees-Mogg and far less of Yvette Cooper.
The idea that this Cooper woman attacked Jacob for sticking to his religious beliefs is typical of today’s political world. What balls. She belongs on a dreary sidewalk outside a shoddy nightclub selling imitation Rolex watches, not in Parliament. Otherwise London was fun. Seeing so many old friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while is a mirror in itself, wrinkles and all that. The downside of being a professional peripatetic is one loses contact with good friends. And is reminded of Father Time when one notices the ravages of age upon them. Never mind.
In London I picked up Claire Tomalin’s autobiography along with other goodies. I shop in bookstores, never by internet. The reason I wanted to read that particular opus was that her ex-hubby Nick and I happened to be near each other on the day he was killed in Quneitra, Golan Heights, Yom Kippur War, 1973. I was in a car with Peter Townsend—of Princess Margaret fame—and Jean Claude Sauer, both for Paris Match, as well as Joe Fried of the NY Daily News. Yours truly was filing twice daily for Acropolis, back then the No. 1 Athenian daily. We’d drive to the Golan twice a day from Tel Aviv in order to send stories, and on that afternoon, while Quneitra lay in total rubble, heat-seeking missiles were flying around as if it were the Glorious Twelfth. That’s when Townsend, in a way, saved our lives. He told us to turn off the car engine and get out. The veteran fighter pilot smelled something we had not. We had never heard of heat-seeking missiles back then, nor had Nick Tomalin. He did not turn off his engine and…you know the rest.
The media, knowing how to glorify its own, wrote him up as a hero following his death; the four of us knew better but, of course, said nothing. What drew my attention in her book, however, had something to do with opera. Her husband starts to beat her after she reciprocates following his unfaithfulness. He swings at her with closed fists, she ducks, and he breaks a wooden bar instead. “I thought, goodness, The Marriage of Figaro gets it exactly right: it’s fine for the Count to have affairs, but he will not allow the Countess any equivalent freedom.” Well, not exactly. First of all, ladies do not reciprocate, at least where I come from. Secondly, one does not hit a woman even with a rose, as they say in French. Thirdly, the Count suspects the Countess—who is only flirting with Cherubino—and in a great aria I used to know by heart, decides to send the youngster away to the army: “Cherubino a la riscosa per la Gloria military….” The Count does not hit the Countess, not by a long shot.
Philly Antifa, on its website here in the City of Brotherly Love, states that it is
in direct conflict with Racism, Homophobia, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Transphobia, and all the various other flavors of Fascism.
Philly Antifa are anti-authoritarians and anti-nationalist. We do not work with the state or any groups/individuals who seek to “reign us in” or otherwise control us.
That Philly Antifa won’t be reined in or controlled by law and order was shown on the evening of President Trump’s inauguration, when its members, their faces hidden as usual behind black bandannas, smashed the windows of two banks and twelve storefronts on South Street. Like its website, Philly Antifa’s Twitter account declares: “We monitor and confront fascism, racism, and oppression of all kinds in Philadelphia and around the world.” Here, then, are our new self-appointed monitors and authorities, taking it upon themselves to “confront” those whom they deem insufficiently progressive. Besides the ones listed, there are “various other flavors of fascism.” This is the language of the zealous paranoid ideologue, a person who can’t buy a pack of gum without encountering a “microaggression.”
Antifa, of course, is the product of the corrupt American academy. A proud collection of generic dunces, liars, and frauds, American colleges and universities are characterized by figures like George Ciccariello-Maher, a Drexel University professor who—having written such academic tripe as Decolonizing Dialectics—considers himself a political theorist and, of course, an activist, too. “All I want for Christmas is white genocide,” the happy half-man tweeted on Christmas Eve. Perhaps inspired by the 5,000 signatures of support he received on Change.org, in March Ciccariello-Maher (Maher being, I am told, the last name of his hairy-backed feminist wife) once again used Twitter to show all the world the emetic character of his mind: “Some guy gave up his first-class seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I’m trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul.”
Perhaps only the professor’s sycophantic graduate students have the brains to determine which is the greater testament to his theoretical eminence: his tweets or his belief that the police and ICE should be abolished. In any case, we must doubt that Boy George Ciccariello-Maher would ever have the spine to yell at any soldier, for, looking at photos of the righteous Twitterer, we see a distinctly weak, petty, low, resentment-driven nature; in other words, a typical academic in 2017. To a soldier, the professor’s poodle-like yelping would be of no more consequence than his unheard-of writing.
As in Philly, Antifa has been a menace throughout the United States this year. The so-called antiauthoritarians and allied leftists have shown themselves to be authoritarian indeed in regard to those who dare to disagree with them, diligently trying to stop universities from practicing the sins of free speech and independent thought. In August, during the “Rally Against Hate” in Berkeley, Antifa attacked a crowd of peaceful right-wing demonstrators. Antifa has injured or tried to injure police officers across the country, from Boston to St. Louis, Berkeley to Portland. Not only a force in so-called higher education, Antifa is now a presence in our secondary schools as well. American cities and institutions of learning are spending vast sums of money to contain these hypocrites, who are themselves the problem for which they pretend to be the solution.
Is there a better way? To answer this question, it is instructive to turn to Machiavelli, a great though controversial teacher. “When it is absolutely a question of the safety of one’s country,” he says in his Discourses on Livy (1531), “there must be no consideration of just or unjust, of merciful or cruel, of praiseworthy or disgraceful; instead, setting aside every scruple, one must follow to the utmost any plan that will save her life and keep her liberty.” Men and women of the world readily understand the special value of these words. By contrast, today most intellectuals are apt to be merely troubled by them and find them outrageous, scandalous, immoral, and so on. After all, Machiavelli has long been synonymous with villainy in part because his mind—like that of Hobbes, de Maistre, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, or Schmitt—is simply too penetrating for most to accept. Anyway, the Machiavellian justification for dispensing with ethical considerations is like that which justifies murder on grounds of self-defense: Both amount to protection at any cost, and with respect to the state, that is utterly necessary since providing protection is the state’s primary duty, for it is the condition of all other goods; without it, there are none, and no state itself.
Now Antifa, in both its language and its actions, has shown that it is an enemy of the state, one that claims to operate outside the law. Thus the so-called anti-fascists are themselves fascists and, as it were, enemies from within. And the problem is that although the courts may mete out the appropriate jail sentences for Antifa’s crimes, such measures do not send the necessary psychological message to Antifa as a whole. That message is this: “If you attack this state of which you are a citizen, you shall be punished swiftly and severely, and your painful regret will show you, if nothing else does, the foolishness of your conduct.” Of course, to the liberal mind, it is strange, indeed cruel, to say that Antifa essentially needs to have a lesson beaten into them, since the liberal tends to take his own pleasing sentiments and unperceived bias for the very summit of human wisdom. Nevertheless, there is a deep value in this approach, for it conveys moral fear, and to be sure, my concern here is statecraft, not winning fans. For Machiavelli, the statesman’s closest friends—in fact, the only reliable friends—are severity and fear. The reason is that because human nature is essentially wicked, in time liberal generosity and tolerance—idols to our sentimental era—inspire nothing so much as insolence and a deeper propensity to rebellion and transgression. Nor does a legal system that makes criminals pay an illusory debt to “society” (that is, an empty abstraction representing people who have no connection to the wrong itself) and that seeks to “reform” them constitute a vital psychological check against these destructive urges: Deterrence is not served by what comes after the fact.
But though the principal purpose of justice is not reform but maintaining law and order, nevertheless, however counterintuitive it may seem, subjecting criminals to physical violence would probably do more for reforming their bad inclinations and habits than incarceration. For this, precisely because it is so painful and immediate, might at least prompt an improvement in the character; on the other hand, when it comes to such reform—the ostensible goal of the liberal’s conception of justice—it’s quite unclear how anything good might result from mere incarceration.
The other evening I chaired an event in Edinburgh at which Robert Harris was introducing his splendid new novel, Munich. It’s sure to be a best-seller, deservedly, and Harris has reached a rare and enviable position in which his novels are translated even as he writes them; the German edition of Munich will be published in November, and Harris will be launching it in Munich, actually in the Führerbau, where Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini, and the French prime minister Daladier met. The last two took little part in the conference; it was a duel between Hitler and Chamberlain, and one that Chamberlain won. Not only that, but when war was for the moment averted, Chamberlain was cheered in the streets of Munich. It’s difficult for many to recognize even now that in 1938 the prospect of war seemed as frightening and terrible to the mass of the German people as it did to the British, French, and Italians.
This was still the case a year later. When war did break out in September 1939, the Berlin-based American journalist William L. Shirer remarked that there was no enthusiasm, but only apprehension, in the streets. It wasn’t like 1914 when there had been wildly enthusiastic crowds in Berlin, as indeed in Paris. In 1938–39 the horrors of the First War were too close, too vivid in memory. As for Hitler, he later said that September 1938 would have been the best time for Germany to go to war. To that extent Munich was a defeat for him; he felt cheated of the war he had wanted at the time of his choosing.
If Neville Chamberlain hadn’t gone to Munich, Hitler would have got his war then. The German General Staff thought it would take a month to defeat the Czechs and occupy Czechoslovakia; Hitler said it would take a week. He might well have been right. Meanwhile, in 1938 there was little appetite for war in either France or Britain; the British Chiefs of Staff reckoned they wouldn’t be ready for war until 1940. In 1938 the RAF had only one squadron of Spitfires—twenty planes. Over the next year 50 percent of U.K. government spending went to rearmament. 1940 was the earliest Britain could win the war in the air and prevent a German invasion.
Appeasement became very unpopular once war became inevitable. This was understandable; it was a failed policy that hadn’t prevented war and even seemed shameful. Nevertheless Chamberlain’s decision to go to Munich and negotiate with Hitler had one other important beneficial consequence: Hitler had agreed in Munich that the incorporation into the Reich of the Sudetenland, with its majority German population, was his last territorial demand in Europe. Six months later this was revealed as a lie. So, whereas in 1938 there was public reluctance in Britain to go to war to compel the Sudeten Germans to remain Czechs, in 1939 the mood was very different. War was accepted as unavoidable and the British people were united as they hadn’t been a year earlier.
Harris plays with the idea of anti-Nazi resistance to Hitler and the possibility of an army coup. There has always been talk of this, but he’s not convinced. Rightly, I think. It took five more years and the imminence of German defeat for the aristocratic opposition to spring the July plot. Before then, talk of a coup was met with the statement that Prussian generals don’t mutiny. Interviewed by the enigmatic Otto John in a British internment camp after the war, Field Marshal von Brauchitsch, Chief of the High Command in 1938, said it was all nonsense. He knew nothing about it (and he was the only man who could have given an order). The idea, he said, was madness; Hitler was “immensely popular.”
NEW YORK—I’ve decided to take a knee.
There’s been too much police brutali—
Wait a minute, is taking a knee about police brutality?
Why did Colin Kaepernick say he was taking a knee? Somebody look that up.
Okay, taking a knee is an anti-Trump thing, right?
Wait a minute, if it’s an anti-Trump thing, then Colin Kaepernick did it when Obama was president, so it would have been an anti-Obama thing. That can’t be right.
Okay, taking a knee means you’re pro–free speech, it’s to support people’s right to take a knee even if Trump says nobody should take a knee.
Or is it just to support Colin Kaepernick’s right to take a knee?
Colin Kaepernick doesn’t even play football anymore, he’s just the king of knee-taking because he did it first. So that’s not it.
By the way, “take a knee” in football used to mean “run out the clock.” We really need some other term.
Maybe taking a knee is an attempt to support Colin Kaepernick in his attempts to get back into football because racist owners are refusing to hire him.
Of course, if you’re a 49ers fan, you might take a knee to protest that game last year when Colin Kaepernick threw for a measly four yards against the Bears.
What happens if you’re a season-ticket holder at, say, MetLife Stadium and you wanna take a knee? Even if you fold the seat up and put your knee down on the concrete, you’re probably gonna have trouble squeezing down into that space and then what’s the point, you disappear if anybody around you is standing up.
Come to think of it, why don’t they ever show people in the stands taking a knee? Is it only players who take knees?
And why were players taking knees at Wembley Stadium in London? Isn’t the whole point of playing games in London to get the British to start enjoying North American football? They show up for the game and there’s this knee thing going on. And they probably wonder why they have to listen to the American anthem in the first place. It’s the ultimate “I don’t have a dog in this fight” situation.
And it wasn’t just any players, it was the Baltimore Ravens. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written for the flag that was flying over Fort McHenry, which is in Baltimore! It’s their hometown song. And actually, come to think of it, the reason we celebrate that flag from Fort McHenry is that the British had been shelling the hell out of the fort all night in the War of 1812, which was the crappy war in which they burned down the White House. We’re kinda rubbing it in their face to sing the song at all in London.
Then those same Baltimore Ravens stood up for “God Save the Queen,” which was probably confusing to some of them because it’s the same melody as “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” so there was a disorienting moment of take a knee/don’t take a knee, plus now it looks like the only reason you’re standing up is to honor the Queen, which is not right since we fought a war to get rid of the English monarch and, besides, this was our one chance to take a knee against our own monarch since George III ruled over us prior to the invention of the game of football, so dissing his family would have been a great delayed payoff in the same way that we dismantle Confederate statues after they sit there for 130 years.
Before I take my knee, though, I want to know if I’m choosing the wrong bodily gesture, since many of the NFL players on Sunday were holding hands, linking arms, and engaging in other forms of group semaphore, the meaning of which is mysterious to me. The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed out of the stadium until “The Star-Spangled Banner” was over—well, except for Alejandro Villanueva, the West Point grad who was an Army Ranger for three tours in Afghanistan; he stood on the field by himself and later apologized for not being a team player. But the Steelers gesture seems like a “cat ate my homework” ploy. “Oh, sorry, we didn’t get here in time for the national anthem.” I’m calling unsportsmanlike conduct on that one. You can’t avoid taking a knee by not making your knee available.
I would actually take a knee to protest the fact that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is such a mediocre anthem to begin with, and I’m sure most singers who have tried to do it in football stadiums would agree with me, because you always start out too high and then when you get to that high F at the end you have to either cheat or make a fool of yourself. I mean, the high F is great for anybody who has Whitney Houston pipes, because everybody gets goose bumps when you hit it, but Francis Scott Key was a sadist.
But then that brings up the question of what to do if the person who’s actually singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” wants to take a knee. This is especially hard for women since they’re already trying to walk across deep grass in high heels, and getting up and down from the take-a-knee position would be awkward and potentially embarrassing, while the only alternative—getting down on both knees—would be reminiscent of Al Jolson in blackface singing “Mammy” and so obviously inappropriate under the circumstances, assuming that the gesture has something to do with Black Lives Matter in the first place—and I’m still not totally sure that it does.
As you may have noticed, football and crime are in the news at the moment.
Some National Football League players are supporting Black Lives Matter—the anti-police, pro-rioter, anti-white, pro-Establishment movement—by boycotting the national anthem before games. The president was widely denounced for tweeting his disapproval of them.
On Monday, however, the FBI released 2016 crime statistics showing that homicides were up an extraordinary 20 percent nationally during the last two years of the Obama administration, when the former president was pushing his BLM agenda. The spike in murders tended to be concentrated in cities where BLM enjoyed its greatest triumphs, such as Baltimore and Chicago.
In other words, the ironically named Black Lives Matter has gotten several thousand additional blacks murdered by other blacks since Ferguson.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is reforming Obama’s campus sexual-assault guidelines that helped launch the University of Virginia gang-rape-on-broken-glass hoax that led to Jann Wenner announcing last week he was dumping his Rolling Stone magazine.
But almost nobody on the left or the right is willing to think about the relationship between college rape and college football.
In “The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases” in The Atlantic, Emily Yoffe wrote:
The archetypal image of the campus rapist is a rich, white fraternity athlete…. But… Black men make up only about 6 percent of college undergraduates. They are vastly overrepresented in the cases I’ve tracked.
On many campuses, a large majority of black males are there only because they were given affirmative action or an athletic scholarship. But nobody in the admission or athletic departments wants to take responsibility for the increased number of rapes their decisions are likely to cause.
American football is beloved by Americans because it is a war game in which teams defend their home turf and methodically invade their opponents’ territory. It makes for an engrossing television spectacle because most people are interested in conquest.
Pro football is, by far, America’s No. 1 spectator sport (172 million tuned in to at least part of this year’s Super Bowl), while college football enjoys an upscale fan base of civic-minded conservatives.
Blacks have come to dominate most positions in football, which reassures white conservatives of the fundamental fairness of American society. It’s difficult to believe the conventional wisdom in the press about how racist America is when the NFL is phenomenally popular despite being 68 percent black.
(But the best quarterbacks are, notwithstanding strident efforts by the media to decrease racial diversity in the pro game, mostly white.)
The broad national interest in football has served as a unifying influence in an increasingly diverse country. A huge fraction of white male conservatives, for example, have played high school football with black teammates.
White spectators like to conceive of their team’s black players as defending the homeland. The ability of black football players to play as a team on Saturday and Sunday inclines whites to be more optimistic about blacks’ potential for pro–social order than might be warranted by what they observe on Monday through Friday. And, indeed, football offers the kind of authoritarian structure under which African-Americans do best.
Moreover, football fandom serves as a way for Americans to reassure themselves of their society’s capacity for military might and lawful cooperation.
Unlike soccer, American football is a violent game, but it’s a game of extremely well-organized violence. The skill with which football teams execute complicated maneuvers has improved throughout my lifetime.
Watching football has long reassured Americans that, if we had to, we could defeat all potential foreign powers on the battlefield. Moreover, the impressive way that football teams obey their coaches as rightful authority figures cheers us that we are unlikely to go to war with ourselves.
These messages are never quite spelled out, but they are implicit in football. Accordingly, the football leagues have adopted nationalistic and military motifs as part of their pageantry.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the NFL is the only one of the North American major leagues not to have any franchises in Canada, which has its own pro football league. The NFL’s American jingoism has likely hurt its appeal abroad, where it lags the NBA, but the NFL more than makes up for it with its overwhelming popularity at home.
In reality, not that many professional football players have served in the military. In the 1970s, Pittsburgh Steeler fullback Rocky Bleier was a rare Vietnam combat veteran in the NFL, while superstar quarterback Roger Staubach had volunteered to serve at a Navy base in Vietnam between Annapolis and the Dallas Cowboys.
After 9/11, Pat Tillman, a patriotic leftist, walked away from a million-dollar-per-year NFL job to join the military. He was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. After Tillman’s death, his college teammate Jeremy Staat joined the Marines and served in Iraq.
Several players have gone the opposite route from active duty to the NFL. On Sunday, Capt. Alejandro Villanueva, the son of a Spanish officer and a West Point grad who had earned the Bronze Star serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, was the only Steeler to emerge from the locker room for the national anthem, for which he apologized on Monday.
The media encourages black players to disrespect the national anthem by kneeling during it in order to show support for the (ironically entitled) Black Lives Matter cause. This, of course, calls attention to the worst aspect of African-Americans: their tendency toward disorganized violence. Blacks commit murder at almost eight times the rate of the rest of the population.
Not surprisingly, football has its own problem with off-field violence. When you recruit huge men, two-thirds of them black, and train them for aggressiveness, it’s not surprising they frequently get in trouble. The website NFLarrest.com tracks published data on pros getting arrested.
But it’s worth noting that there is perhaps an order of magnitude more incidents that don’t make the newspapers. NFL teams employ well-connected fixers to make bad news go away:
For every incident that generates a negative headline, Wells said, 10 are handled without the public’s knowledge.
In college football, the fastest way to build a powerhouse is to recruit players of dubious character whom other coaches are leery of. Inevitably, however, this leads to scandals about sexual assaults on coeds, often involving players inviting their teammates to have their way with drunk girls after they’re finished.
A moral crusade at The New York Times typically begins with an in-depth, above-the-fold front-page story, followed days later by an editorial-page sermon. And so it goes with the story of one Michelle Jones, a black woman recently freed from prison after serving twenty years and just inducted into NYU’s doctoral program in American studies only after suffering—in the Times’ opinion—a great injustice at the hands of a renowned Ivy League institution.
Much to the liberals’ chagrin—and all within a single 24-hour time span—the pooh-bahs at Harvard not only rejected a felonious transgendered traitor who leaked hundreds of thousands of secret military records and endangered many lives, but also turned down Ms. Jones—despite the admissions recommendation of the history department—“out of concern that her background would cause a backlash among rejected applicants, conservative news outlets or parents of students.”
Her background? In 1992 she beat and starved her 4-year-old son to death; his body has never been found. She was sentenced to fifty years in prison and freed thirty years early for good behavior and a record of academic achievement.
However, despite her crime and her very early release from the penitentiary, the Times posits that Ms. Jones is the injured party in this saga, while holding Harvard administrators—and society in general—as the villains. For she is portrayed as the victim of a national obsession with “mass incarceration,” which functions as a guarantor of white supremacy by imprisoning black Americans in disproportionate numbers and reducing them to lifelong second-class citizenship status upon release.
Yet as much sympathy as the Times demonstrates for the hopes and dreams of the newly freed Ph.D. candidate, it correspondingly neglects to offer even the smallest amount of consideration for the real victim in this sordid tale: the murdered child who will never have a chance to apply to college. Now dead for 25 years, the unfortunate boy doesn’t seem to have a name. Either that or the Times saw no need to humanize him by providing the reader with such superfluous information.
Also vitally relevant, but completely absent from the Times story, is any indication of remorse on the part of Ms. Jones, or any plausible explanation of why she refuses to provide the location of the dead boy’s body, or why she was released from prison despite this. It’s hard not to conclude that her reluctance to do so can best be explained by the fear that an examination of the corpse would reveal just how severely the child was brutalized.
Nevertheless, these troubling unanswered questions seemed not to bother The New York Times or various members of the history and American-studies departments at Harvard, who were so enthusiastic to have a seemingly unrepentant child-murderer join their staff that they “took it upon themselves to type Ms. Jones’s application into Harvard’s online system since she could not.”
In the aforementioned editorial titled “A Prison Sentence Ends. But the Stigma Doesn’t,” James Forman Jr., a Yale professor and the author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, takes issue with Harvard’s decision to reject Ms. Jones and also seems to imply that even the twenty years she served for murdering her son was overly harsh and excessive: “After 50 years of prison building, more and more Americans are expressing doubts about the harsh policies that have made this country the world’s largest jailer.”
Making no distinction between violent and nonviolent crime, Forman goes on to sermonize:
People convicted of crimes often become social outcasts for life, finding it difficult or impossible to rent an apartment, get a job, adopt children, access public benefits, serve on juries or vote…. Mass incarceration and its never-ending human toll will be with us until we come to see that no crime justifies permanent civic death. N.Y.U.’s acceptance of Michelle Jones is an example of an institution leading the way toward a more forgiving nation. Harvard’s rejection of her shows just how far we still have to go.
The German word “Vernichtungskrieg” (“extermination war”) refers to a war in which there can be no negotiated peace, no truce, no détente. One side wants the other side to completely cease to exist. The best way to wage an extermination war is to convince yourself that your enemy is really the one waging the extermination war, and therefore your extermination war is totally defensive. That’s what Hitler told the German people when he announced the invasion of Russia. “Those Jewish Bolsheviks are trying to vernichtungskrieg the shit out of us, so we need to vernichtungskrieg the shit out of them first” (I may be paraphrasing here).
Closer to home, and in “the current year,” the American left has declared a war of extermination against ideas. Leftists don’t want to counter speech that is offensive to “people of color,” Muslims, and LGBT alphabet soupers; they want such speech banned. The leftist censors have managed to convince their foot soldiers that it is “us or them,” a matter of life and death. Two recent cartoons perfectly illustrate the left’s mania. The first one, by popular far-left artist Matt Lubchansky, depicts a journalist who is interviewing people at a Charlottesville-style rally. An alt-rightist tells the vainglorious journo, “Nonwhites are genetically inferior. They should be systematically rounded up and killed.” The scribe then proceeds to interview two noble antifas, who rationally explain that they are merely acting in self-defense. The journalist proves his villainy by writing objectively about “extremism” on both sides of the protest.
The takeaway? Objective reporting only serves to empower those who are actively trying to mass-murder nonwhites.
The other cartoon, by “Social Justice Ninja,” goes even further: The villain of that piece is a free-speech advocate. He’s depicted as standing in between a group of Nazis and lynchers on one side, and a group of anguished, frightened people of color on the other. The self-righteous anti-censorship jerk tells the POCs, “I don’t agree with the Nazis, but I will defend to YOUR death to protect THEIR speech.”
The takeaway? People who believe in free speech are facilitating genocide.
Free speech is the enemy. It must be stopped, or you will be killed.
In the face of such utter stupidity, what use is there in bringing up First Amendment law? Such arguments would fall on deaf ears, as these buffoons genuinely think that an army of Nazis is about to slaughter them. Pure insanity. But insanity with a purpose. Because if you go high enough on the American left-wing food chain, high above the BLM and antifa street thugs and the Salon.com screaming meemies, you’ll get to some very shrewd people who understand that there are no death camps or stormtroopers on the horizon. These liberal elites have seen the effect of anti–“hate speech” laws in Western Europe. Those laws have given establishment liberals a major advantage, because any political party that veers a little too far right finds its leaders put on trial and its websites shuttered. Two sides in a political debate cannot compete evenly if one side is free to speak honestly and brazenly while the other is forced by law to watch its words and moderate its tone. German and French left-wing politicians can say, “We want to flood the continent with Muslim refugees and put an end to white hegemony because white is evil and Christian is bad,” but politicians on the right can’t say the converse without running the risk of landing in court. That’s not a fair fight (as I write this, returns from the German federal election indicate a “strong showing”—13 percent—for the nationalist AfD party. Imagine how much stronger a showing the party might have made if it didn’t have to worry about government surveillance because of “hate speech” accusations).
One can’t blame U.S. leftists for trying to re-create that magic here. Of course, they can’t, because of that damned First Amendment. But they can do two very effective things: First, they can expand the definition of “hate speech” to include things that until recently were not considered hate at all (like opposition to gay marriage—a position previously espoused by Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton). Next, they can pressure web platforms, content delivery networks (CDNs), internet security services, and online payment transaction services to cease doing business with “hate” sites. If everyone on the right has to learn to “behave” lest they lose their ability to have a voice online, we’ll end up with something similar to the situation in Western Europe, except rather than fearing jail or fines, the right will fear being banned from the internet. The left will get exactly what it wants: a one-sided “debate” on issues like race, immigration, Islam, etc. Safe, inoffensive conservatism will be allowed (“Darn that deficit!”), but there will be fewer and fewer voices to counter the left’s extreme positions on matters of race, Islam, gender, and other “identity” issues.
If the left can’t control the debate via hate-speech laws, it can pressure private companies into keeping “offending” voices offline. And in today’s world, that’s damn near as bad as being silenced by law. In the past month, dozens of websites have been pulled or hobbled because of political speech. The left has found a strategy that is not only effective, but hard to counter. As my favorite constitutional law expert, UCLA Law School’s Eugene Volokh, explained to me in an email last week, “Generally speaking, most jurisdictions’ statutes don’t ban discrimination in public accommodation based on political ideology. If you’re an auto body shop and you don’t want to repair Communists’ cars, or Nazis’ cars, it just isn’t illegal for you to discriminate that way.”
So it’s bad news for the right. Is there a solution? Well, I think we can safely say that marching like idiots with backyard tiki torches is not it. But consider this: On the SPLC’s official list of hate organizations—the list that most of the leftist pressure groups have relied on as they try to get hate sites removed from the net—the category with the most entries is “black separatist.” Yet so far (to my knowledge) the only sites that the censors have targeted, and the only sites that have been pulled or denied service by tech companies, are white nationalist, Christian (anti-gay or anti-Jewish), or anti-Islamist. That got me thinking. Maybe the best way to counter this new vernichtungskrieg is through the courts. See, companies like Cloudflare, PayPal, Squarespace, and GoDaddy have the right to exercise a certain amount of what’s known as “viewpoint discrimination.” They absolutely can have a “no hate speech” policy. But they can’t discriminate based on race or religion. They can’t have a policy that they apply lopsidedly to one particular racial or religious group. Think of it like this: A restaurant can say “No shirt, no service,” but it can’t say “No shirt and you’re white? Fine! No shirt and you’re black? Get out.” In fact, a number of nightclubs have been sued over the past few years by black customers for enforcing their dress-code policies in a way that supposedly favors whites. A nightclub can have a dress code, but it must be applied consistently to patrons regardless of race or religion.
Race in Latin America is confusing to many Americans, who generally can’t see beyond black and white. Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores and their families from Europe have always formed a kind of local aristocracy. Their descendants were called criollos, and were considered somewhat lower in status than Iberians or other Europeans born abroad. The descendants of single European men who married native indio women formed the core of “the people,” who were subservient.
The possible combinations of different grades of European, Amerindian, and African led to a dizzying proliferation of types, all of which were named and classified according to a racial casta system. A mestizo is the historical name for a half criollo/half indio, a zambo for a half black/half indio. But these are only the better-known terms. Dozens of words for the possible combinations have existed, each with its own role, status, and class associations. There were even pictorial guides.
Racial diversity and integration are perfectly compatible with inequality and slavery—something those who celebrate America’s “nonwhite” or diverse future do not understand. In South America the casta system is no longer used so precisely, but even in our time the countries there remain racially stratified. Go to Rio de Janeiro and look in the boxes at the Teatro Municipal and you will see people as white as in France or Belgium. In Brazil, as well as in Colombia, Venezuela, and elsewhere, those classified as black unfortunately still have generally the lowest socioeconomic status. Then racism becomes based on hue, and usually the lighter you are in color, the higher you are in status.
Much is being written lately about Venezuela and its destructive socialism, but few understand or want to talk about the fact that it’s a socialism based on race and ethnicity, not Marxist theories. Hugo Chávez was proud of his distinctive look and called himself a pardo, a member of Venezuela’s oppressed mixed-race masses. The white elites of Venezuela are about 15 percent of the population and control most of the economy. Chávez’s government openly targeted them and drove the poor to racial resentment.
Conservatives, when they’ve spoken of race or ethnicity in Venezuela, have focused exclusively on “anti-Semitism.” But the government’s fulminations against Venezuela’s Jews are only part of a broader attack on European-descended Venezuelans and other “white” or “foreign” elites. It is Europeans, Spaniards, and peninsulares who are painted by the Chavistas as oppressors of Venezuela’s “real” people.
Establishment pundits don’t care to notice Venezuela’s abuse of whites as such, but American leftists are less naive and have long celebrated the racial character of Chávez’s revolution. “Set the Arabs on fire!”; “Be patriotic, kill a Turk!”—such graffiti is not found in Trump country, West Virginia, as CNN might have you believe, but in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Racial demagoguery is widespread in Latin America. Lebanese and Palestinian Christians have long ruled the economy of Honduras, and the “socialist” regime of Manuel Zelaya relied on native ethnic mobilization against the domination of these “turcos.”
In Bolivia, Evo Morales led an openly ethnic movement of the country’s native indio population. In his rhetoric he sounds like an American college professor sputtering about the evils of privilege and white “colonialism.” In his inauguration Morales declared an end to the “Spanish” and European colonial Bolivia. He has even proposed to “revert” to a pre-Columbian calendar. (The day he resurrects the sacrifices and high rites of the old religion promises to be very exciting.) The wealthy and largely Spanish-Croatian city of Santa Cruz in the east of the country is not surprisingly seeking autonomy and maybe secession.
In Brazil the situation is not so extreme, but its milder racial politics are a lot more like what you’re starting to see in the United States. Rio de Janeiro has always had slums, but the favelas popularized by movies like City of God and Elite Squad mushroomed in size in the mid–20th century. Local politicians and nabobs were in search of the famous $2-per-day wage favored by oligarchs worldwide, so they imported a population that would work twelve hours a day in the hot sun for next to no pay from Brazil’s poor northeastern provinces. In one move, Rio’s oligarchs achieved both a decline in their labor costs and the political elimination of their traditional competitor, the middle class. The remaining rich Brazilians attained a life of freedom and luxury that is difficult for Americans to imagine.
We hear a whole heapin’ hootin’ helluva lotta ’bout “hatred” these days, but hardly anyone attempts to define what that word means. A lot of people seem to want to kill others for committing hateful acts…or uttering hateful words…or possibly even thinking hateful thoughts…but if you press them to define the term, they’ll probably kill you on suspicion of committing hatred.
This is clearly an unacceptable social problem that is simultaneously problematic and, as I said, unacceptable.
Just for fun, though, I’ll play along and say hatred should be made into a crime. But on one condition—ideologues don’t get to define “hatred.” Instead, I propose a double-blind test involving a subject who’s wired to machines. With a more clinically objective approach to this Hate Problem, we will finally have a society that is able to define hatred regardless of race, religion, gender, and sexuality—and all you haters out there will have to pay the piper!
If hatred is going to be used as the go-to explanation for all manner of human verbal expression and physical actions and political motivations, we should at least pretend it’s real—and at best, let’s attempt to measure it. Since “hate” is the main modern sin and lives can be destroyed if one commits it, we would be wise to examine what this term means and how judiciously it’s applied.
If you’re going to destroy lives and smash windows and club people with baseball bats under the suspicion that they committed the unforgivable sin of “hate,” it would behoove us—as a group of people with no common interests who are still in many cases pretending to be a society—to get a legal definition of the term that is as objective as is humanly possible.
And if you’re the type of nimrod who thinks that things such as “objectivity” and “facts” are white-supremacist patriarchal constructions designed to squash anyone who’s not a cishet white male because only straight white males are even capable of hate, you will be immediately disqualified from being able to pass legal judgment on others in criminal cases involving “hate,” since your ideological blinders render you incapable of passing fair judgment.
Donald Trump is already a solid contender for the title of all-time world champion of being accused of hatred in the most hateful terms possible. I sincerely believe that if you were to take everything he’s ever said that is deemed “hateful,” then compare it to the things that are said about him on the premise that he’s hateful, any reasonable person could easily see that the Trump-haters say objectively worse things.
What’s the most heinous thing they accuse him of saying? That some illegal immigrants are rapists? OK, but it’s true. That hot women will let rich guys grab them by the pussy? Sure, but true again.
But look at what’s said about him—Orange Evil Pervert Cancer Armageddon No-Dick Daughter-Diddling Brain-Dead Hitler Monster Who Needs To Die Immediately.
Isn’t that…you know…at least a tiny bit…worse than anything he’s said?
In the quest to seek an end to “hate,” the problem is that people are neither reasonable nor objective. Their ideology is wrapped so tightly around their puny brains that it strangles out any possibility of them seeing what’s obvious to anyone who doesn’t think like they do—these little pathetic twerps just bleed with hatred.
And that’s cool with me, seriously. I’m not even saying that hatred is a necessarily bad thing; it’s all the dishonesty I have more of a problem with. I HATE it. Leftism is hatred in the name of love. So it’s hatred PLUS dishonesty. And that bugs the shit out of me. Dehumanizing or even torturing others in the service of some half-cocked idea of humanism—and somehow being able to not only justify it but to pretend that it’s noble—is about as fucked-up as it gets.
I’ve seen it so many times. There was a brief online spat I had a few years back with a tranny activist who accused me of spewing “hate speech” because I said that trannies such as Bradley Manning were delusional. Shortly thereafter, this same tranny activist told another tranny—likely an activist, too—to “CUT YOURSELF…DRINK BLEACH…DIE IN A FIRE.”
It occurred to me that if one were to, say, translate the phrases “You’re delusional” and “CUT YOURSELF…DRINK BLEACH…DIE IN FIRE” into Mandarin and read them to a random Chinese person on the streets of Beijing, my hunch is that they’d think the whole cutting and drinking bleach and dying in a fire thing would be seen as a smidgen harsher.
In an evolutionary sense, people tend to hate whatever threatens their survival, and that’s perfectly understandable. I’ve long said that “hate” is subjective and can’t be measured, and I think this is correct—up to a point. The problem is the totalitarian semantic control that some groups these days wield over what exactly constitutes “hate” and what doesn’t.
As much as I hate to get hateful here, it’s been my observation that sometimes, black people say things about white people that, you know, aren’t very nice.
Same thing goes for what some women say about men.
And what gays say about “breeders.”
And what the Talmud says about goyim.
And what the Quran says about infidels.
And what socialists say about the rich.
And what urban sophisticates say about rural “hayseeds.”