Censorship veers between the sinister and the farcical. Perhaps it reached its apogee of farce in the trial of Penguin Books in England in 1960, which had published Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1959 and was tried the following year under the Obscene Publications Act. The prosecuting counsel, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, opened the prosecution case with a speech that added greatly to the gaiety of the nation and virtually assured the defeat of the prosecution:
Would you approve of your young sons, young daughters—because girls can read as well as boys—reading this book? Is it a book you would have lying around your own house? Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read? It is a sad fate for a man to be remembered almost exclusively for a bêtise uttered in a blaze of publicity.
This is not to say that the evidence given by literary witnesses in defense of Penguin Books was above reproach. They grossly, and I suspect knowingly, overpraised the book (in truth a very bad one from more than one point of view) because they so much wanted an end to the kind of censorship made possible by the Obscene Publications Act. For them, the end justified the means. Be that as it may, the trial successfully exposed the absurdity of such censorship in modern conditions.
A friend of mine, a bookseller whose business is entirely online, recently informed me of a form of censorship by Google that has both farcical and sinister elements. The bookseller in question is not someone who courts controversy or the limelight; if anything, he tends the opposite way. One would have thought that his business was an entirely uncontroversial one.
Algorithms, however, are unforgiving, as well as frequently stupid. He received a message saying that certain of the items he had up for sale could no longer be listed on Google platforms as they were deemed to have offensive or inappropriate content.
Offensive to whom or inappropriate to what? To read Google’s explanations puts one in mind of Byron’s famous lines on Coleridge, who, according to Byron, had taken to:
Explaining metaphysics to the nation.
I wish he would explain his explanation.
In its message to the bookseller, Google said that “Our goal is to provide the best user experience on Google.” As is so often the way with impersonal messages emanating from giant and dictatorial bureaucracies, the words used have connotation but no denotation, that is to say no meaning can actually be pinned on them, though they have a penumbra of emotional blackmail: Those who criticize or otherwise annoy us are ill persons, being opposed by definition to the “best user experience.”
The message continues, “To ensure that the ads we show to online shoppers are safe…we maintain comprehensive enforcement of the Shopping ads policies for all merchants.” What are safe advertisements, exactly? Indeed, how can an advertisement be safe? It can be untruthful or outright mendacious, though whether Google would be the best judge of that might be disputed; or it could be for dangerous products, which is surely not the same as saying that an advertisement for them is itself unsafe. Imprecision of language means either imprecision of thought, or that the employer of such language has something to hide. In either case, for a corporation as powerful as Google, this is not reassuring.
Safe is a weasel word of which Google appears to be very fond. It reiterates that it wants “everyone to have a safe and positive experience when visiting Google and its partner sites,” before warning merchants who don’t follow its policies that “we might disapprove their items” and that “when they continue to break the rules egregiously, then we may have to suspend those accounts.” Note that the decision to suspend an account is forced on Google, it is not a matter of choice on its part.
Google informs the merchants who use it that “We use automated systems to identify items that violate our policies…. We cannot disclose specific terms or details that lead to the item disapproval.” The word “cannot” is here a straightforward lie; what is meant by Google here is that it will not.
An appeal process exists, but it is utterly opaque to the person who appeals, and therefore entirely arbitrary. Of course, since Google is providing a service to the public, it can set what conditions it likes, provided they are not in violation of the law; but though all animals are equal, some animals are more equal than others, and many providers of services—shopkeepers, for example—are not permitted to discriminate as Google is free to do.
I come now to some of the reasons the bookseller’s items were “disapproved” (“dis-approved” would perhaps be a better way of putting it) by Google. Here we are entering a world that is half Kafka and half W.S. Gilbert. For example, An Act to Appoint Additional Commissioners for Granting Aid by Land Tax for Continuing Duties on Personal Estates, an act of the British Parliament in 1833, was disapproved by Google because it supposedly violated its policy on advertisement of health and beauty products and restricted pharmaceuticals.
Or again, Witchcraft in the South Sea Islands by Arthur Grimble, published in 1926, was disapproved because of “offensive or inappropriate content.” There are two possible explanations as to why this item should be regarded as offensive: First, it has a photograph of women in the Gilbert Islands naked from the waist in their dancing costume, in what used to be called grass skirts, and second, that Grimble was a colonial officer, though also a serious anthropologist who studied traditional Gilbertese culture more thoroughly than anybody else before or since.
With regard to the first objection, it cannot be argued that Gilbertese women did not dance in the costume photographed, because they did, at least before the missionaries forbade them to do so. Google’s apparent objection to the item, an objection worthy of Mrs. Grundy, puts me in mind of Mrs. Davidson, the wife Davidson, Baptist missionary to the Gilbert Islands in Somerset Maugham’s short story “Rain.” She says of the native dancing:
It’s not only immoral in itself, but it distinctly leads to immorality. However, I’m thankful to God that we stamped it out, and I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that no one has danced in our district for eight years.
Clearly, Google is at one with the Davidsons on the matter of native dancing.
The second possible objection to the item—that it was written by a colonial officer—is in effect to expunge vast swathes of past writing from sale, at least on Google platforms, presumably in the hope that they will eventually be expunged from the human record forever. It goes without saying that Google algorithms care much more for the welfare of the Gilbertese than ever did Grimble, who spent 14 years of his life in the islands and wrote a book about his experiences that sold a million copies.
These examples are no doubt more farcical than sinister, but they point to the shape of things to come, if those things have not already come.
Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book is Ramses: A Memoir, published by New English Review.
The massive news coverage of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “political stunt” of sending 50 illegal aliens to Martha’s Vineyard reminds me of the media’s “political stunt” of referring to illegals as “legal asylum-seekers.”
Number one: They broke into our country. They’re illegal aliens. Number two: All asylum claims are frauds. Every single one.
Asylum is nothing but a conveyer belt to bring the worst people on Earth to our shores. You say you turned your own country into a hellhole? Fantastic! Come right in!
No one gets asylum from a well-run country. Why would we want to admit people who have demonstrated the wisdom, foresight and diligence to produce a functioning society? Rewards await only those who’ve participated in the creation of complete disaster zones. (Just think of what these great thinkers could do for our country!)
Take the Venezuelan illegal aliens whom DeSantis sent to Martha’s Vineyard. Biden’s press secretary and human kewpie doll, Karine Jean-Pierre, repeatedly referred to the briefly loved illegals as “people who are fleeing communism, who are fleeing hardship … desperate people — people who are trying to come here because they’re fleeing communism themselves.”
How did Venezuela become communist again?
As The Martha’s Vineyard Times explained (once the illegals were safely expelled and the island fumigated), Venezuela’s “humanitarian crisis” resulted from that country’s “complicated political and socioeconomic history.”
Actually, it’s not that complicated. Poor people in Venezuela voted for it. Oh boy, did they vote for it.
The ridiculous peasant Hugo Chavez promised Venezuela’s poor that he would take vengeance on the rich — “the squalid ones” — and give their stuff to the poor. Millions of poor people responded: YESSSSS!!!
Beginning in 1998, and five times after that, the poor came out in droves to support this clown. Fist pumping! Dancing in the streets! Red shirts as far as the eye could see!
As The New York Times described it, “To the adoring, impoverished masses who catapulted him to power, Hugo Chavez Frias is El Comandante, their protector and benefactor, the bold leader who will wipe out 40 years of inequality and corruption and redirect this country’s enormous oil wealth to better their lives.”
Chavez basically promised to deliver the Ta-Nehisi Coates “equity” agenda that’s so popular with the Democratic Party right now. The poor believed the rich were rich because they had stolen from the poor. Chavez vowed to take it back. It was sort of a 1619 Project for Venezuela.
As promised, Chavez proceeded to seize private businesses, farms (by 2011, he’d expropriated 6 million acres of farmland) and golf resorts, telling poor people to move onto the club greens.
Anybody want asylum yet? Nope!
Between 1998 and Chavez’s death in 2013 — whereupon he was promptly replaced with his handpicked successor, President Nicolas Maduro — Venezuela’s poor voted for him over and over and over again: in 1998 (80% public approval rating his first year in office), in 2000 (winning 60% of the vote), in 2004 (59% against recalling him), in 2006 (winning 63% of the vote), in 2009 (54% voted to make him president for life) and finally in 2012 (winning 55% of the vote).
Never has any public been polled more often and returned the same resounding answer.
Well, they’re not fist-pumping anymore. Instead, Venezuela’s poor are claiming they “deserve” to access America’s generous welfare state.
Twenty years of Chavez’s Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DIE!) produced this: “a country whose economy has collapsed … malnutrition and disease are soaring [and m]illions have emigrated to escape the grind of finding enough to eat, of living without reliable electricity or tap water,” as Bloomberg News put it in 2019.
Venezuela is sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world, and the communists still couldn’t get it to work.
Who could have seen that coming??? Oh, anyone with two functioning brain cells. There were little hints, like Chavez promising his very first year in office “to follow the path of Fidel,” and describing Cuba as “a sea of happiness, social justice and true peace.”
Millions of Venezuela’s poor thought that sounded just peachy, and the rest did nothing. They act as if this 100% predictable catastrophe was a natural disaster for which they bear no responsibility.
Yeah, I definitely want these people as my fellow citizens. They’ve shown solid judgment.
Now that their own choices have wrecked their country, they demand free admission into ours. Unless they’re professional baseball players, I’m not seeing what’s in it for us.
In the kewpie doll’s press conference proclaiming that these innocent little lambs “deserve better” (than being sent to a fabulous beach resort), she cheerfully listed the great heaping portions of welfare being ladled out to Hispanics:
“[O]ur administration has delivered billions of dollars in loans to Hispanic small businesses, expanded the child tax credit to provide help to millions of families and reduce Hispanic child poverty by more than 40%, expanded access to quality healthcare to thousands of Latino families … And thanks to President Biden’s student loan debt relief program, almost half of Latino students with federal loans will see their debts forgiven.”
The Democratic Party is cribbing Chavez’s lines. And it will work, because the same people who fell for it last time will be voting for it here.
To be sure, the Venezuelan “asylum-seekers” aren’t any worse than other members of that illustrious group. If (when) they are granted asylum, these poor decision-makers will join:
— Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombers (sometimes, they’re persecuted for a reason);
— Ibragim Todashev, who, along with Tamerlan, slit the throats of three Jewish men in Boston;
— Beatrice Munyenyezi, a genocidal Rwandan, who won asylum by lying about being a victim of the genocide, rather than a perpetrator.
Those are just a few of our standout asylum grantees. To be fair, the illegal Venezuelans haven’t killed anybody yet, as far as we know. They’re more like a homeless guy who shows up on your doorstep after a lifetime of bad choices and demands that you give him your house.
Perhaps, just this once, we should defer to the wisdom of our moral betters on Martha’s Vineyard and tell the Venezuelans: We love you! Now get the hell out.
At least since the 2002 book IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, social scientists have been publishing rankings of countries by average cognitive test scores and pointing out how closely these figures correlate with gross domestic product per capita.
The mere existence of this data causes outrage among the growing numbers of science denialists, who are increasingly calling for banning all scientific research touching upon differences in cognitive capabilities among populations.
On the other hand, investors want to know these numbers because they are closely linked to national prosperity. So, I’ll present below my three-part graph of the World Bank’s “Harmonized Learning Outcomes” for 174 countries.
Two main types of cognitive exams contribute to the various lists: IQ and school achievement.
Intelligence testing has been one of psychology’s biggest success stories for the past 117 years but is much denounced by the ignorant. In contrast, school achievement exams, such as the OECD’s PISA test, are (or were) highly respectable. They even were briefly fashionable during the school reform craze of a decade ago.
National average IQ estimates typically come from intelligence test publishers who need to validate a new edition of their test in each country in which it will be sold. This requires testing it on a sample of usually a few hundred people to make sure nothing weird is going on with the new questions.
Theoretically, these two approaches could produce wildly different results: e.g., we might speculate that the Scottish Highlands and inland Finland in, say, 1500 were full of clever, high-IQ but poorly educated barbarians and backwoodsmen. But we just don’t know. (We might eventually be able to grave-rob enough skeletons from old churchyards, recover their DNA, and measure their innate educability from their genomes. But even that wouldn’t tell us about their cognitive performance in 1500.)
This could be because IQ drives school performance—an unpopular but reasonable view.
Alternatively, strong schools could make children smarter. For example, in the U.S., federal NAEP scores dropped sharply when schools switched to remote learning during the pandemic.
Both causal pathways sound plausible to me.
Or, either factor, or both, could interact with their third close correlate of national wealth. But what causes what?
For example, over the last two-thirds of a century, South Koreans have increased spectacularly in GDP per capita, average test scores, and height. Good things seem to go together, but which causes which is less obvious.
On the other hand, countries rising or falling dramatically in the rankings take decades to manifest and don’t happen all that often. Thus, interest in the triennial PISA faded over the last decade because nothing much changed in its results. PISA results would be exciting if new prime ministers could suddenly drive up test scores, but they can’t. In the real world, it’s hard to wring clickbait headlines out of Estonia finally overtaking Finland for the top spot among white countries.
One issue has been that most of the recurrent participants in the two big international school tests, PISA and TIMSS, have been more or less first-world countries. European countries tend to score within a fairly narrow band not too much wider than the margin for error. (Inevitably, there’s a lot of noise in the data: Just think about how much work is involved in giving tests in different languages.)
So, yeah, sure, test scores show that Finns on average are probably a little smarter than Serbs (but technology hero Nikola Tesla was pure Serb, so don’t get carried away by averages). Yet for most of Western Europe, whether one country outscores another tends to depend more upon the quantity and quality of its immigrants than upon slight differences between the natives.
Still, global patterns in test scores are visible: Typically, countries primarily populated by northeast Asians, such as the vastly prosperous city-state of Singapore, rank near the top, followed by European-dominated countries. (Interestingly, the obscure northeast European countries of Finland and Estonia do better on school test scores than the more famous northwest European ones.) Latin American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian countries tend to follow (with Muslim countries generally doing somewhat worse than their non-Muslim neighbors), with sub-Saharan states at the rear.
But poor countries seldom gear up for the big PISA or TIMSS tests because they are both expensive and discouraging: Thanks for proving our schoolkids aren’t as smart as the Japanese or Poles. And tell us something we didn’t already know.
Fortunately, regional tests have emerged to allow African (SACMEQ for 16 states in southern and eastern Africa and PASEC for 10 west African nations) and Latin American (LLECE) countries to compete against their neighbors on an equal footing.
And there is now the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) of basic literacy that has been administered in 65 countries.
As explained in their 2021 paper in the top science journal, Nature, “Measuring human capital using global learning data,” researchers affiliated with the World Bank have now compiled a database of what they call “harmonized learning outcomes” (HLOs: i.e., test scores) with over 2,000 data points.
By “harmonized” they mean they’ve linked scores on the famous global exams to the smaller regional ones. For example, Colombia, El Salvador, Chile, and Honduras have all taken both the worldwide TIMSS and the local LLECE in the same year, allowing the World Bank boffins to estimate how other Latin countries would have done on the TIMSS from their LLECE scores. They can then link TIMSS to PISA scores and, ultimately, put 174 countries on a single scale with 500 as the Western midpoint and 100 as the standard deviation.
It’s the same ambitious methodology applied internationally as Sean Reardon did with Stanford’s American school test database in which he takes test scores from every school district in the U.S. from the 50 different states and then uses the federal NAEP scores for each state to put all the different state tests on the same gauge.
Okay, who won? According to the World Bank, who averaged the highest scores on the various tests from 2000 through 2017?
As you’d expect, the crazy rich Singaporeans averaged 575, followed by Macau and Hong Kong. Estonia did the best among Europeans at 543, slightly ahead of Japan at 538, South Korea 537, Canada and Finland 534, Poland 530, and Ireland 521. The U.S. scored a respectable 512. (As I’ve pointed out before, our kids do pretty well relative to their demographics.)
How good is Singapore’s 575? Well, that’s 0.63 standard deviations higher than the U.S. So the median Singaporean student would score at about the 74th percentile in the U.S., which is a noticeable difference but not immense, rather like the difference between whites and Hispanics in America. On the other hand, the gaps in the normal probability distribution become bigger at the right edge of the bell curve, so Singapore has a much higher percentage of whiz kids than does the U.S.
Among black countries, Kenya’s 455, in between Serbia and Chile (and above Mexico’s 430), is impressively high for a sub-Saharan state. (Tiny, oil-rich Gabon scored slightly higher on a single data point, while Trinidad is a mixed -ace West Indian island with a substantial Asian Indian population. Likewise, Mauritius and Seychelles are mixed-race Indian Ocean nations.) Kenya took both the math and reading portions of the SAQMEQ in 2000, 2007, and 2013, and averaged between 392 and a Northern European-level 517 on the 2013 math test.
Do I believe these results? Kenya’s report looks reasonably legit, with a claimed sample size of over 5,000 distributed around the country. On the other hand, perhaps schools skimmed their best students? Even in generally honest America, Texas is notorious in testing moneyball circles for scoring high on the NAEP by encouraging its worst students to stay home on the day of the federal test.
Still, Kenya is, by African standards, a pretty nice place. I did a lot of work on African economic statistics in 1981: Kenya had a lower official per capita GDP than West African countries like Nigeria and Ivory Coast, but everything subjective that I read made Kenya sound better than West Africa. For instance, Isak Dinesen famously opened Out of Africa with the nostalgic line, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong hills,” because she recalled it fondly.
One of the largest Flynn Effects ever recorded was in the Embu district of Kenya where 7-year-olds’ IQs went up 11 points on the Raven’s test between 1984 and 1998 during a time of peace, prosperity, and rural electrification.
In the mid-ranks, Argentina averaged a poor 408, a standard deviation below the U.S. That would put the typical Argentine student at the 16th percentile in America. But in Argentina’s defense, they tend to round up more of their lousy students to take the international tests than do, say, the Mexicans (430).
Who came in last? As I’ve mentioned, we shouldn’t get too worked up over small differences in scores. But, just as it’s not surprising that first place goes to Lee Kuan Yew’s right-wing utopian Singapore, it seems like an omen that last place goes to the country with the world’s highest birth rate, Niger.
Please note that down at the bottom of the chart, the number of data points is often rather thin. For example, oil-endowed Nigeria’s disgraceful 309 stems from only a single EGRA test of second to fourth graders. So who knows where giant Nigeria would really fall? The Nigerians don’t.
Among the giga-countries, India’s 399 is based on India trying out the PISA in one northern and one southern state in 2009, bombing it, getting depressed, and never taking an international test again.
China, in contrast, has aced the PISA, blowing away even Singapore. But China only administers the test in the brightest parts of the country. The World Bank team therefore knocks China all the way down to 441, which seems too low to me, but what do I know?
The authors in Nature draw an important distinction between “schooling” and “learning.” For example, they commend Ghana, which is often considered to have the best government in West Africa, for extending primary and even secondary education to almost all children. Yet, so far, little learning seems to be going on in the classrooms of Ghana, which ranks second-to-last in test performance.
A little learning is notoriously a dangerous thing; but, increasingly in our era of science denialism, ignorance is less bliss than mandate.
David Cole is “the Antichrist” (Phil Donahue), “pure evil” (Washington Post), “as bad as Hitler, Hussein, and Arafat” (Detroit Jewish News), “a Nazi heel” (Huffington Post), “powerful and dangerous” (Yehuda Bauer), “an offense to God” (neocon coward Andrew Klavan).
This is why I rarely do podcasts; I always disappoint in person. Hosts expect GG Allin, and they get Shlomo Mintz. I never live up to my billing as a monster.
And because I’ve been called every name in the book over the course of 33 years, insults don’t faze me. Nevertheless, the invective lobbed at me last week by former Trump speechwriter and policy aide Darren Beattie struck me as particularly puerile:
I know that Cole’s ideas are just very dumb. He’s just an ugly dumb guy and I think he has a problem with drinking but I can’t say that for a fact but, just a trash individual. A petty soul, who will never be…you know, it’s just a petty soul.
Beattie, one of Trump’s most fanatical acolytes, is clearly trying to imitate Trump’s insult style, which is creepy (any adult LARPing as their hero is pathetic). But understanding why Beattie set his sights on me is instructive.
On Aug. 2 I penned a column in which I addressed the claim that January 6th participant Ray Epps is a “fed” who was in cahoots with a leftist named John Sullivan. I pointed out that none of the promoters of this claim (like Beattie) were showing the “incriminating” footage of Epps in context; the conspiracy-mongers were showing the clip isolated from what occurred beforehand. Also, the Epps/Sullivan collusion claim was based solely on, in the words of Beattie’s Revolver News, the two men “sharing the same video frame” (i.e., one still frame from a video). I made the point that Sullivan livestreamed the entire evening, and from the full video, it’s clear that Sullivan didn’t know Epps.
The withholding of context—basing a theory on one video frame while not showing the actual video—is the work of someone not interested in truth, but manipulation.
The other point I made in that Aug. 2 column was that the 1/6 Committee is, even if inadvertently, functioning as a massive “troll” on the right because it’s keeping rightists distracted, redirecting their focus away from midterm-winning issues while empowering the Trump-obsessed arm of MAGA that’s abandoned fighting for issues in favor of fighting for Trump.
And indeed, to some in MAGA, the fight has shifted from “for America” to “for Trump,” which sets up a stark contrast between supporters of DeSantis, who tend to focus on issues (immigration, crime, trannyism and CRT in schools, Covid), and Trump loyalists, who fight for a man, not a cause (to them, the man is the cause).
Which leads to a recurring theme of mine: When an activist base becomes obsessed with something that either doesn’t represent or distracts from the core concerns of the voter base, the activist base becomes a detriment. The enthusiasm of an activist base ceases to be helpful when it estranges a candidate from the concerns of key voter demographics.
I covered that in a June 28 column about dueling theories regarding swing voters: that they don’t exist (elections are decided by the enthusiasm of partisan activists—this is the “Bitecofer Theory,” named after the morbidly obese leftist pollster who codified it), and that they do (a handful of “convincible” voters can swing an election based on candidates promoting or ignoring issues of import).
Activists left and right favor the Bitecofer Theory because it favors them; if Bitecofer is correct, activists are all you need to win an election. This is why Trumpists have to believe in 2020 vote fraud. They might not know the name “Bitecofer Theory,” but they believe it with all their heart. The Bitecofer Theory dictates that Trump couldn’t have legitimately lost, because he had die-hard activists, and that guarantees victory. On the other hand, if Bitecofer’s wrong, and a small number of blue-collar white voters—say, 20,000 in a swing state—can influence an election because the guy they voted for four years earlier didn’t build the wall, installed an “immigration czar” who favors amnesty, reacted to BLM riots by ignoring white voters in favor of Platinum Plans and Soros/Kardashian decarceration, and responded to a nationwide crime wave by signing the pro-felon First Step Act, then Trump’s loss is perfectly explicable.
My point in my Aug. 2 column was that the shift among hardcore MAGAs from “fighting for issues that matter to blue-collar whites” to “fighting for Trump and elevating Trump’s problems above those of blue-collar whites” is suicidal. Which it is, if Bitecofer’s incorrect and voters matter more than activists. I made the point that while MAGAs (and of course Trump himself) are obsessed with issues that matter to Trump, DeSantis was keeping his focus on issues that matter to voters.
So here comes Beattie last week, doing an interview with some Italian nonentity, and he’s asked about that Aug. 2 column of mine. The Italian guy mangled the point of my piece—I don’t think English is his first language—but Beattie knew the column well. And he let loose with his pseudo-Trumpian insults.
Beattie condemned me for challenging his “feds did 1/6” claims (keep in mind, all I did was provide the context Beattie and Revolver didn’t), but mainly he was pissed at my take on Trump vs. DeSantis.
And here’s the funny part: In a way, regarding Trump and DeSantis, Beattie and I have no disagreement. To understand this, one needs to listen to the full audio of the interview, not the truncated transcript prepared by the Italian dude.
In an untranscribed section, Beattie states that it’s wrong to “prioritize policy” over “personality.” DeSantis is good at policy, but Trump has (in Beattie’s own words) a “cult of personality,” and Beattie feel that’s more significant. “The things that made Trump great or at least unique, it’s not the policy proposals,” but “personality.” Think about that a moment. Trump won on one of the most specific policy platforms of any candidate in my lifetime. Immigration, immigration, immigration. Beattie is saying that was irrelevant, that Trump didn’t win on policy proposals, but “feels.”
What we’re seeing here is the Bitecofer Theory in action. Whereas Trump’s 2016 immigration proposals appealed to blue-collar white swing-state voters (and still do, based on polls), Beattie dismisses the importance of that, then and now. This is exactly what I criticized several weeks ago when I recalled how, in 2016, my old comrades at Friends of Abe—Hollywood activists, not blue-collar voters—responded not to Trump’s platform, but his personality.
Beattie and I are in complete agreement that hardcore Trumpists don’t give a shit about policy. He’s quite explicit when he states (and you can see why this was left out of the transcript), “I would be willing to bet anything that if you get Trump supporters, you say, ‘Oh, Trump said this, Trump said this,’ within reasonable parameters, they would support it if Trump supported it. There’s not an ideological fixation, and Trump is a function of that.”
The dude who calls me a dumb ugly drunk actually agrees with me 100 percent! Trump’s personality cultists don’t care about issues. They aren’t fighting for issues. Trump switches from “deportations day one” to “Platinum Plan,” and they don’t care. They accepted Kushner as immigration czar, and they’d accept him again.
It’s really quite a startling admission: “If you get Trump supporters, you say, ‘Ooh, Trump said this, Trump said this,’ within reasonable parameters, they would support it if Trump supported it.”
And it’s correct.
Where Beattie and I differ is that whereas I think this is bad, he thinks it’s good. We both agree completely on the facts. Yes, Trumpists don’t care about issues; yes, the Trumpist plan for victory is to run on Trump’s personality, not issues. And apparently I’m “dumb” for thinking that’s not a good idea.
Beattie has to cling to Bitecofer’s “activists matter, not swing voters” theory for sheer self-preservation. If Bitecofer’s wrong, if elections are decided by issues that draw voters, not personality cults that draw activists, Beattie becomes irrelevant. All the MAGA Trumpists become irrelevant. And DeSantis, who is literally Mr. “Issues Over Personality,” becomes the clear choice.
Beattie must support Bitecoferism, for self-interest.
The problem is, Beattie only discusses election-winning, not governing. And why bother to discuss governing when your be-all end-all is that your guy wins, issues be damned? Beattie never considers the downside of a president whose loyalists are uninterested in policy. Beattie only focuses on Trump’s personality, because to him that’s all that matters.
He claims Trump has a strong “constitution.” Really? The guy who let his daughter and son-in-law dismantle his 2016 immigration platform? The guy who let a TV host dictate his Covid policy? Yeah, Trump has a “strong constitution”…on the campaign trail. And if that’s all you ask of him, you’ll be satisfied. But in office? He has no “constitution” for policy. Couple that with a personality cult that doesn’t care about policy, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
That’s how you get a January 6th. Not an insurrection, but an aimless group of “personality over policy” fanboys with no solidified ideas being vaguely guided by a “personality over policy” president with no solidified ideas.
One of the most well-established facts of child psychology is that minors who commit crimes typically do so in pairs. And the younger the children, the more that applies. That’s because there’s nothing more dangerous than when two people with soft brains and undeveloped ideas but tons of childlike energy and enthusiasm feed off of and empower each other.
What goes for individual children goes for groups of adults.
Well, certain groups.
Still, I’m grateful to Beattie for spelling out the choice rightists have between now and 2024: Trump, whose strength is personality, whose “personality cultists” ask nothing more from him than that, and whose activists believe that a personality cult is all it takes to win elections, vs. DeSantis, whose strength (as Beattie admits) is policy, whose followers are interested in policy over personality, and whose activists believe that swing voters exist, and the only way to move the pendulum in swing states is to directly address the issues that are of immediate concern to blue-collar whites.
Beattie foresees the coming clash. He tips his hand in the interview regarding how Trumpists plan to attack DeSantis supporters; he accuses DeSantis backers of being “weak,” “soft” cowards who only back DeSantis because they don’t want to be “canceled” or “called a racist.”
I’ll end on that. This guy thinks the left goes easy on DeSantis and his supporters.
The same left that funds MAGA primary candidates because they see them as dead meat in the general.
This left “fears” Trump but goes easy on DeSantis.
That’s Beattie’s position.
And I’m the dumb guy?
That said, after dealing with this lunacy, I do need a drink.
Just in time for the heat of the election season, a federal agency called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has announced it will no longer allow betting on political and election outcomes.
These online wagering platforms, most notably PredictIt, allow betting on all sorts of political outcomes: the odds that Republicans win the Senate in November, the odds that Joe Biden will be the next Democratic nominee for president (right now 33%) or the odds that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wins the GOP nomination in 2024 (right now 38%). You can also bet on whether a piece of legislation will pass.
These betting markets don’t always predict the right election outcomes. (Donald Trump was far from a favorite in 2016 when he beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.) But they tend to be more accurate than polls or the prognostications of Washington talking heads. Betting markets are often efficient because they price in real time the most accurate polling data, as well as day-to-day events and information (public and private) that can influence who is going to win on Election Day.
Why should anyone care about whether these markets are allowed to continue? Because they provide valuable information that can influence investment decisions. We wish it weren’t so, but given that we now have a $6 trillion annual federal budget and hyperactive federal regulators, such as Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, investors can make more informed decisions by knowing the probabilities of certain election outcomes.
The CFTC seems to discount the social benefit to these markets. The hundreds of thousands of bettors who are making the wagers and collectively “moving the line,” like a point spread on a football game, provide free information to investors, business owners, builders and so on about the future policy environment. It’s similar to using the stock market to determine the future earnings of a company.
Suppose, for example, a company is considering a major investment in an oil and gas operation. A big factor in the future profitability of that expenditure is whether Republicans will win control of Congress. If they do win, the oil and gas leases could be very valuable. If the Democrats retain control of Congress, their value could fall to zero.
We are also worried that federal regulators may want to shut down other prediction markets related to public policy outcomes. If you want to know what the odds are of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates by 75 basis points at its next meeting, a betting market (which requires people to put actual money where their mouth is) is far more predictive than what Jim Cramer of CNBC thinks.
Betting markets can also inform policymakers on the wisdom of new laws and regulations. Congress just “invested” $300 billion of taxpayer money in climate change legislation, which supporters say will lower global temperatures. Will it? A betting market on what the global temperature will be in, say, 10 years, might be far more informative than garbage-in, garbage-out computer models. If there is truly a “scientific consensus,” then all the money would flow to one side of the market. We suspect betting markets would reveal that the “consensus” isn’t so reliable. Experts are often wrong.
One of the great comparative advantages America has over nearly every other nation is highly sophisticated capital markets that allocate investment dollars to the highest-return companies and projects. Our capital markets don’t always get it right, which is why financially speculative bubbles can burst (e.g., Bitcoin).
But mostly, investors collectively make smart decisions — which has contributed mightily to the more than $100 trillion of new wealth created in the United States over the past four decades.
The CFTC apparently believes political betting markets are some kind of threat to democracy. But this kind of betting has long been allowed in Europe. The only impact of shutting down PredictIt and others here is to move the betting action overseas or underground — with less oversight and regulation. This will likely shrink the volume of betting, which only makes these markets less efficient — to everyone’s detriment.
Federal regulators should let people wager on politics and instead concentrate on rooting out real investor fraud.
To many onlookers, the recent disorder on the streets of Leicester probably looks like a bit of a black swan. Hindus and Muslims from parts of Leicester and beyond have gathered to fight each other in one of Britain’s oldest and most historical cities. The character of the young men taking part in the violence is, unsurprisingly, that of Asian descent. Apparently, the reason for the conflict, which has been going on for weeks now, is to do with the partition of India, in which Muslims and Hindus were separated into their own homelands, giving rise to a wave of devastating violence.
One thing the English have never really done, and you can see this throughout most of our history, is engage in ethnic conflict. So it’s no wonder that to most onlookers, this street violence, this mob of young angry Asian men fighting outside your local pub or nana’s house, looks like Sky News footage of some crumbling dictatorship. Ethnic conflict just isn’t very English.
However, to those paying attention, there’s no real shock here. Ethnic groups that migrate to the U.K. don’t magically change ethnicity. They don’t declare their ethnic baggage at Heathrow Airport. Their deep-rooted ethnic tensions that date back hundreds of years are brought with them to Belgrave, Tower Hamlets, Croydon, Bradford, and Rotherham.
The footage displays hordes of young men, who are all behind a cause they believe is right. They aren’t first- or second-generation immigrants, either—they are very clearly of multigenerational descent, and yet they have no problem destroying English streets where presumably their families have lived for a few decades now.
This demonstrates one of the biggest lies of multiculturalism: that immigrants become more integrated the longer they live in the West. They’ll play FIFA and watch Gogglebox and drink tea rather than cite the most radical parts of their holy books or join militias. We can see that, in Leicester, this clearly isn’t the case.
Of course, the usual suspects have come out with their apologetics. One of the most egregious offenders has been Rakib Ehsan, a man of Asian descent sitting in the centrist or center-right camp. From his cringe-inducing Twitter account with a banner image depicting multiracial hands joining together over the union flag, he tweeted this solution:
Investigate all places of worship inviting hate preachers
Crack down on ‘charities’ and ‘schools’ perpetuating sectarianism
Tougher sentences for religiously aggravated offences
Streamline the immigration & asylum system
The solutions that Rakib comes up with are entirely administrative ones that don’t actually hit at the heart of the matter. It doesn’t matter that schools are promoting “sectarianism”—a people tell their own stories to each other, and the story of the Partition is a significant one to these people. They feel they have a natural enemy and are willing to fight them.
His final point about streamlining immigration and asylum systems seems born out of ethnic interest, a desire to further increase the already massive rates of immigration to England.
Any solution Con Inc. comes up with will come out of the same liberal principles that got us into this situation in the first place and will always result in more immigration, which will result in more ethnic conflict. Rakib’s multiracial union flag is just a fantasy—there will never be peace while England’s poorest streets are filled with ethnic enemies. What can we expect when they are forced into the concrete postindustrial car parks that turned the once-proud working class of Britain into feckless consumers?
At least these young men believe in a cause, unlike so many native English lads who are lost to nihilistic consumerism, unable to comprehend fighting for something larger than themselves. It’s just a shame that they have to use another country, or what’s left of it, as their ethnic battleground.
The so-called community leaders of Leicester came in to dissuade the tensions. Elderly Hindu and Muslim men standing together solemnly, the Hindu spokesman calling for unity, stating that both groups came together to “fight the racists” and “build Leicester”—a particularly insulting point, given the fact that Leicester has so much history they accidentally dig up dead kings in its car parks.
The hollow consumerism of modern-day Britain provides absolutely nothing to hold on to for its own people, let alone people who move here. What is a third- or fourth-generation immigrant going to do when he goes to school and sees nothing but hollow modernity consuming his white classmates? What is he meant to hold on to if not his ancestral past, his religion, reinforced every day in his house, on his street, by his community?
The teacup of multiculturalism isn’t just empty—it was never full to begin with. They know it, and we know it. We can’t just make more tea and pretend it isn’t happening anymore. We must throw the teacup out.
The Week’s Most Griefing, Debriefing, and Autumn-Leafing Headlines
PRINCESS OF WHALES
Nobody’s saying Rolling Stone film critic Katie Rife is fat, but her dress size is IMAX. Nobody’s saying she’s heavy, but any theater she enters becomes an underground cinema. Nobody’s saying she’s massive, but when she walks through Hollywood the guys at Griffith Observatory yell, “Down in front!”
In fact, the only person making a big deal out of Katie Rife’s weight is Katie Rife. While all of Hollywood is cooing over Darren Aronofsky’s critical hit The Whale and the career resurgence it’s given to inoffensive Canuck Brendan Fraser, Rife simply cannot go along with the crowd (though to be fair, she’s a one-person crowd).
The Whale is the tale of a morbidly obese man (played by Fraser in a fat suit) coming to terms with his mortality. But to Rife, the film gives fat people an “ugly image” (no, that’s actually the work of pork rinds and Pepsi).
Rife found the movie “triggering,” claiming it “reinforces the notion that fat people have brought their suffering upon themselves through lack of coping skills. I’m really feeling like shit after that viewing experience,” she tweeted. “There’s a scene where the main character drops a key and can’t pick it up, and PEOPLE WERE LAUGHING” (Rife’s anger is understandable; the film stole her bit).
Regarding the refusal of Fraser’s character to seek medical attention, Rife angrily pointed out “the very obvious reason why a 650lb person would avoid doctors: IT’S CALLED MEDICAL FATPHOBIA YOU ABSOLUTE PRICKS.”
Indeed, a competent doctor would simply tell a 650lb guy to “identify as skinny.”
Katie Rife: a big woman with big ideas. A critic leaving a deep, indelible imprint on the world of film, as she’s done to so many couches.
BROWNIE V. BOARD OF EDUCATION
Speaking of obesity…
Junk food is now trans. If a doughnut covered in gummi bears identifies as a vegetable, it’s a vegetable.
This is the inevitable next step in a world where a man can think himself into being a woman and every black person’s a genius by virtue of skin color.
Black genius “Dr.” Kera Nyemb-Diop runs a website dedicated to spreading the message that (and this is a direct quote) “The only foods that are bad for you are foods that contain allergens, poisons, and contaminants, or foods that are spoiled or otherwise inedible. Eat without guilt regardless of what society says.” Last week, the L.A. Unified School District’s “equity and diversity” Instagram posted one of Nimrod-Dip’s videos in which she declares that a plate of chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles is just as nutritious as a plate of vegetables.
According to Numbnuts-Derp, anyone who claims that one food is healthier than another is a literal racist, a food fascist, a Joseph Gobbles, a Lavrentiy Strawberia, a Pol Potluck. Indeed, Michelle Obama is the worst Nazi ever for her campaign to remove “unhealthy” foods from school lunches.
LAUSD removed the video and refused to answer questions regarding why it was posted in the first place. Maybe because the story, like strawberry swirl ice cream, has a twist: Turns out Nyuck-Nyuck-Dope is a paid employee of Mondolez, which manufactures…candy and snacks (including Cadbury, Toblerone, Sour Patch Kids, Chips Ahoy, and Oreos).
Yes, the second-largest school district in the U.S. allowed a paid corporate propagandist for a snack company to tell students that candy is as good for them as any other food. In theory, that should be a big story. The reason it isn’t is the same reason LAUSD posted the video: Black geniuses can’t be wrong.
That’s some meshugga-coated nutty fudge.
TURNING HE-ITES INTO SHIITES
Just as corporations are learning how to leverage black immunity from criticism to achieve undreamed-of victories (like getting a school district to declare junk food nutritious), foreign despots are exploiting the West’s tranny worship to improve their image abroad.
For example, did you know that Iran is the tranniest place on earth? A leading location for sex-change operations? It might seem counterintuitive that Iran, with its draconian measures that keep women covered head-to-toe and segregated as second-class citizens, would become a “medical tourism” hot spot for men who are dunya with their dhikr, for Imans who want to become Imams, for dudes who want their salaami replaced with a kamal toe, but it’s true.
According to the American Iranian Council, “Being transgender is not considered a violation of Iranian theocratic principles. Sex-reassignment surgery is not only legal in Iran, but Tehran is considered to be an international hub for obtaining it. The procedure’s been allowed since Ayatollah Khomeini learned of the hardships of a transwoman and issued a religious decree to legalize it in the mid-1980s.”
Actually, sounds like ol’ Khomeini got “trapped” by a shemale and in his morning-after regret decided to rationalize the whole thing as “halal.”
The Council further explains that because Farsi already uses gender-neutral pronouns, “transgender and other non-binary individuals in Iran experience a unique form of verbal inclusivity.”
And yet, as the mullahs champion trans-friendliness, women are being beaten to death for not wearing hijabs. Protests erupted throughout the country last week after a 22-year-old woman was murdered by Iran’s “morality police” for having an uncovered head.
If there’s confusion about the mullahs’ policies regarding trannies vs. their policies regarding women, there shouldn’t be. Iran’s clerics correctly understand trannyism as just another cudgel against women, another way to demean, humiliate, and erase them. It’s actually 100 percent appropriate that Iran would be pro-tranny.
Also, in a nation where male-on-male sex is punishable by death, allowing men to legally classify as women is a neat little workaround for getting some zoro up the astrian.
ATTENTION DEFICIT SPENDING
In Live and Let Die, Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga—an Idi Amin/Papa Doc Duvalier amalgam—hatches a plan to bring down the U.S.: give out free heroin nationwide, and once the entire country is hooked, foreign enemies can march in unopposed.
The only hitch in Kananga’s plan is that it’s predicated on the notion that the only thing preventing every American from doing heroin is price.
“I hope I get that raise; I’ve really wanted to get into heroin.”
“I just won the lottery! Heroin, here I come!”
Still, Kananga was on the right track, he just had the wrong drug. There’s currently a national shortage of Adderall, and the nation’s falling apart over it. Turns out Kananga shouldn’t have bothered with free heroin; he should’ve started a tinpot med school churning out doctors who prescribe cradle-to-grave psychotropics.
In a piece about how the Adderall shortage is affecting everyday Americans, Bloomberg interviewed a Chicago car salesman who can’t remember his inventory without Adderall, and a Michigan high school special ed teacher who, lacking Adderall, “spaced out” while trying to calm a student distraught over suicide (it could be argued that a teacher who needs medication to take student suicide seriously might not be cut out for the job).
And Bloomberg only scratched the tragic surface of cases of spaced-out, absent-minded, Adderall-deprived Americans. In Chicago, young blacks now have to bring itemized lists on their shoplifting sprees or they forget what to steal.
In NYC, black men have become so dazed, they’re pushing old Asian ladies onto subway tracks after the trains have left.
In L.A., an Adderall-deprived Mexican stabbed a pile of leaves and blew a rival gang member, and in San Francisco, a homeless guy became so disoriented he used a toilet.
Even doctors are not immune to Adderall withdrawal brain-fog. At Boston Children’s Hospital, a disoriented pediatrician mistakenly let a 13-year-old girl keep her breasts.
Is the Adderall shortage an accident? Or Biden’s master plan for the midterms: scramble the brains of Americans to the point where he appears competent by comparison.
ANCHOR BABY, YOU’RE AN ENRICHED MAN
In the past month alone, American’s have been enriched good and hard by illegals.
Alabama: Illegal Mexican José Paulino Pascual-Reyes carved up his girlfriend for carnitas and held her 12-year-old daughter as a sex slave.
North Carolina: Two illegal Mexicans, Alder Alfonso Marin-Sotelo and Arturo Marin-Sotelo, murdered a sheriff’s deputy.
California: Venezuelan illegal Jose Rafael Solano-Landaeta decapitated his ex-girlfriend with a sword.
New Hampshire: Honduran illegal Jose Miguel Ramirez-Vasquez stabbed a young dancer to death.
So much enrichment! And by our new class of hyphenated elites (“I say, are you attending the Pascual-Reyes cotillion? Oh, you simply must go. I hear their quesadillas will have three cheeses”).
Over in McCulloch County, Tex., local officials have decided that the violent crimes of brown illegals pale in seriousness compared with an 80-year-old white man saying “wetback.” Immigration judge Edgar Allen Amos faces an ethics probe because last week, in a private conversation, he claimed that the affluent illegals he’s been seeing in court, sporting designer clothes and using the latest high-tech gear, are “not your regular wetbacks.”
So for not calling illegals wetbacks, he now faces removal from the bench and, according to the Daily Beast, a review of “every ruling he’s made in Texas courts,” which could result in all of his deportation orders being reversed.
And while Edgar Allen shall nevermore preside over wetbacks (regular or extra-soggy), over in Bexar County, Sheriff Javier Salazar, a Democrat, has vowed to bring to justice the Florida officials who robbed his state of illegals by sending them to Martha’s Vineyard.
Salazar’s back may not be wet, but there’s water aplenty on his brain.
All of this transpired as the Census Bureau announced that Hispanics are now the largest plurality in Texas, for the first time since Mexico owned the place.
Wet back in the saddle again.
Privilege at birth displeases wannabe types, and the subject came up rather a lot last week, especially in the Land of the Depraved, where the Bagel Times regards monarchy as antidemocratic and the cause of most human ills, including the common cold, cancer, pimples, varicose veins, and even athlete’s foot. At my own alma mater, the University of Virginia, founded by the greatest of all Americans, Thomas Jefferson, some physically repellent creeps have demanded his name be taken off the beautiful neoclassical buildings he designed. The trouble is that Tom, as we called him in my college fraternity, was a bit antimonarchical himself, having sided with and advised certain colonists, starting with one named George Washington. No, the ugly ones have it in for old Tom because he was sleeping with Sally the slave and even had a couple of kids with her.
Shock, horror! Back in 1789 gents were not supposed to do that with slaves, but my excuse is that she was rather cute. What I’d like to know is what about the poor women who are, or eventually will have to endure, sleeping with those creeps who are anti-Tom, a much worse fate than Sally’s? Woke freaks are known to suffer from halitosis, tiny penises, and absolutely no regard for what women want. My suggestion is that American ladies all become lesbians and get it over with. But let’s get back to privilege, especially the white kind.
White privilege is not part of a broader neurosis, nor is it symptomatic of a larger cultural ailment of the past. It is a recent invention by lefty academics who were conceived by chimps with a dose of the clap and who use multiple colonic irrigations in order to alleviate chronic constipation. According to the constipated ones, privilege today actually means discrimination and oppression, but the Greek equivalent of Dr. Johnson, Professor Taki, writes otherwise. According to the Hellenic sage, privilege derives when somebody somewhere somehow accomplishes something others cannot, and his descendants benefit from what he did. Always according to the sage, the ones most opposed to privilege are those who have never succeeded in doing anything constructive or beneficial to others in their lives, and in general pass down nothing but grief, debt, and very bad posture. The average person endeavors to better his or her life for their children—and of course for themselves—so who are these snide, preening blowhards at the Bagel Times to blame privilege for all of society’s ills? I won’t be caught dead socializing with such people, but I can tell you what they look like: funeral directors with piles.
And yet, the Savonarolas of today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the American media in general, have decided that monarchy, aristocracy, and inheritance are obsolete and should be replaced by a repellent underclass that prides itself in its ignorance, violence, and illiteracy. Among the first to fall into line with woke bulls— about privilege are actors and TV pundits, both here in the U.K. and in the old colonies. These trained seals say things like “Privileged people have more access to quality nutrition…” Duh!
Unburdening their sins of being privileged is the latest craze in the land of the mentally deformed, a place where everyone with a mobile telephone has turned into an Oprah Winfrey, which brings me, yes, to Harry and Meghan. In the by-now-famous walkabout with the prince and princess of Wales outside Windsor Castle, I thought the Montecito duo looked like a football couple, all dolled up for a court appearance in a libel case or one of domestic violence. His suits are tight and look tighter as he swaggers like a footballer. She, on her part, don’t look so good no more at 41, the spindly ankles, the waist that has disappeared, the no-longer-cherubic countenance. Any reasonable person in possession of their senses should realize that zebras tend to change their stripes during the time of mourning, but revert to type afterward.
Never mind. Harry has been for some time now a marionette, moved around and exploited by antiwhite, anti-Brit and pro-woke forces. Embittered nonentities and crawling parasites like the Nigerian-born Uju Anya and others have finally had their day with their depraved insults of the dead Queen. Just remember if anyone from The New York Times ever approaches you. The paper is one big lie, insufferably windy and dedicated to the overthrow of everything that normal and healthy people believe in. It is anti-Christian, anti-family, antiwhite, anti-police, anti–armed forces, anti–law and order, anti–man-and-woman marriage, and on the side of everything criminal, subversive, and perverse. Don’t read it, certainly never buy it, and urge your friends to do likewise. And do not ever facilitate any hack who has anything to do with the rag. Punto e basta, as they say in the land of pasta.
Unburdening the sins of their privilege in public, as some rich halfwit females are doing in the States in order to gain brownie points, is the latest outrage of the #MeToo era. They do it at length and in public and in breathless detail, but the skin-crawling and ridiculous apologies make unapologetic f— you types like myself look like superior human beings. Privilege is good and healthy, and has given the world most of the things we take for granted. So let’s all emulate our late Queen, who—unlike a couple of her descendants—never apologized for anything in her life.
Earlier this week, I received two articles by email, one from the American right and one from the American left, each alleging that the other side wanted to subvert, or even abandon, the American Constitution.
The left alleged that the ruling by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade was but the start of an unconstitutional attempt to make abortion illegal everywhere in the United States, the right to abortion being clearly inscribed in the Constitution properly interpreted, the solution being to pack the courts with right-(that is to say left)-thinking judges.
By contrast, the right alleged that the left wants judges to make laws according to its own “liberal” principles rather than merely to interpret them, bypassing the legislative process or even oversight, thus installing a regime of judicial dictatorship.
On Roe v. Wade, I am with the Supreme Court ruling, though I am by no means as opposed to termination of pregnancies as some people. It seems obvious to me that if you can derive a right to abortion from the American Constitution, you can derive anything from it, for example a children’s right to teddy bears or an employee’s right to four weeks’ paid holiday a year at a resort of his choice. The proper aim of a constitution is not to secure all the things that people would like, but to provide a limiting framework of liberty in which laws should be made. By returning the legislation on the matter of abortion to the states, the Supreme Court was increasing the scope of democracy, not (as was dishonestly alleged) curtailing it. It remains open to believers in, or enthusiasts for, abortion to work for a properly worded constitutional amendment, granting the right they falsely claim to have found in the Constitution as it now stands; or alternatively (and more realistically) to work for changes in the laws of those states that are highly restrictive. That would be the proper way to go about it, if they believed in constitutional democracy, but they don’t: They believe instead in their own virtue and moral right to govern.
For the sake of balance (for once), let me add that I believe the gun lobby in the United States willfully misinterprets the Second Amendment. But, of course, this is irrelevant; it is much too late to do anything about gun crime in the United States by means of constitutional interpretation.
From the outsider’s point of view, what is alarming about the situation in the United States is the complete polarization of opinion, precisely at a time when opinion is the sole measure of virtue. A man can be an absolute monster, but if he proclaims the right views at sufficient volume, he remains a good man. It follows from this that a man who disagrees with me does not merely have a different opinion from mine, but is a bad person, even a very bad person. And I am told by American friends whom I trust that people of differing political standpoints can scarcely bear to be in the same room together. They tell me (so it must be true) that the left is worse in this respect than the right, and that while a young conservative is happy to date a young liberal, the reverse is not true. It can’t be long before sexual relations with a person of differing political outlook come to be regarded as a sexual perversion, indeed as the only sexual perversion, all others being but a matter of taste.
Political passion is nothing new, of course. A famous French cartoon from the era of the Dreyfus affair comes to mind. In the first picture, the hostess at an elaborately set dinner table warns her husband before the dinner party not to allow the guests to talk about the affair. In the second picture, you see the dining room in complete disarray, everything having been thrown about and smashed. The legend is simply, “They talked about it.”
Nevertheless, there seems to be something different about the present level of social hostility between people of different political outlooks, which has now become chronic. This cannot be a favorable augury for the future of a functioning democracy—or rather, for a free country (which is not quite the same thing). While a phenomenon that is more or less binary, sex, has become nonbinary, something that should be nonbinary, that is to say political opinion, has become binary. If you know a person’s opinion on one subject, you know his opinion on all, and you either clasp him to your bosom or cast him out of your sight.
Tolerance is not an a priori acceptance of how someone is, however he may be; that is indifference, not tolerance. Tolerance is behaving decently toward someone some aspect of whom one dislikes or disagrees with. I have friends with whose outlooks I strongly disagree, and which I believe to be deleterious (as they probably believe mine to be); I have friends with whose religious views I find alien to me. There is a limit to the tolerable, of course, and where that limit should be placed is a matter of judgment and no doubt of circumstance. But I do not want to live in a social world in which there are only two blocs, akin to those of the Cold War.
A lot of the rhetoric in America seems almost like the preparation for a new civil war. I do not think that it will ever take place; in the last analysis, what unites will prove stronger than what divides, especially under dire threat from the exterior.
However, my record as a social prophet is not unspotted, to say the least. I have often not seen what is coming and have often seen what is not coming. My record of failure does not prevent or even inhibit me from prognostication, however. I think we have entered a golden age of bad temper that will last some time, one of the reasons being that too many people go to university where they have learned to look at the world through ideology-tinted spectacles. There is nothing like ideology for raising the temperature of debate and eventually of avoiding debate altogether.
Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book is Ramses: A Memoir, published by New English Review.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the House of Windsor was never supposed to have been Queen of Great Britain. Her uncle David, who had taken the name Edward for his reign, was very popular and would, no doubt and in due course, have children of his own. But Edward VIII had met an American divorcée who, for various reasons, was not popular and, in due course, he abdicated. This meant Elizabeth’s father, the former King’s brother, would ascend the throne as George VI. She was now heir apparent and her world and the world in general were about to change forever.
Princess Elizabeth was 13 years old when the Second World War started in Europe. She and her younger sister Margaret Rose were happy children until the bombing of London began. Her father the King was advised to leave the capital of the British Empire and take his family to safety in Canada. He refused. Instead, he told his wife, Elizabeth, a daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, to take the children to Ottawa. She refused. So “we four” all stayed together and faced a most uncertain future. Elizabeth joined the Army at 18 years of age and worked as a truck mechanic. Many years later she met her fellow female soldiers at a garden party at Buckingham Palace and exchanged old memories as soldiers always do.
After victory against tyranny in France, in Burma, and in Italy, it was ironic that Britain was in bad shape in 1945. Food and fuel rationing was extended and people were economically and psychologically exhausted. However, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding to young naval officer Philip Mountbatten in 1947 was a happy respite from the dreariness of the postwar years; so much so that a movie, Royal Wedding, was produced by MGM Studios. Marriage brought children and a naval posting in Malta, which the Princess truly loved. But then, in 1952, George VI died of lung cancer and the “new Elizabethan Age” began.
Things were already unraveling with the Empire; India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon were now independent. America—Britain’s great ally—made it quite clear that it would not support an attempt to forestall the Empire’s demise. The new Queen’s first prime minister, Winston Churchill, bitterly resented this, but it was his successor Anthony Eden who tried to roll back time with the Suez invasion. The Queen advised against it and was ignored. It was a disaster; America condemned it, India threatened to leave the Commonwealth, the United Nations branded Britain an aggressor. And it must be remembered that this was a time when the U.N. was regarded as the great savior of humankind, long before it was seen to be what indeed it always was—a meaningless debating society composed of tired diplomats anticipating their next cocktail party.
After Suez, nothing was the same, and the Queen knew it. She tried to hold the Empire together by several royal tours of the colonies, but after the Gold Coast (Ghana) gained independence in 1957, the future was obvious. It was the Commonwealth of Nations, not the Empire, that would enhance Britain’s stature in the world.
As the decade progressed something happened that propelled the Queen’s realm to a totally unexpected prominence in modern society: popular culture.
The music was first, and then fashion. Tom Jones, followed by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, Lulu, Petula Clark, Herman’s Hermits—they appeared literally on a weekly basis into the English speaking world’s living rooms. To have lived in that period was to be aware of a global phenomenon. Actors also: Sean Connery in the James Bond franchise, Michael Caine in any script he read, Stanley Baker, Peter Ustinov, Richard Burton and Julie Andrews on Broadway in Camelot, Peter Sellers; it was as if all this talent had been stored somewhere in a dusty trunk waiting to be opened. But once opened, it solidified Britain’s place in the modern world.
Her Majesty tried to keep up, knighting Stephen Hawking and awarding the Beatles the Member of the British Empire medal. She met everyone: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, and thousands of subjects and citizens of other nations. It was her daily duty.
Meanwhile, the planet spun—the Nigerian-Biafran war, the Rhodesian crisis, the coal strikes, and, of course, Ireland. Always Ireland. It must have saddened her deeply. There was one victory and one defeat in the 1980s. The victory was the Falklands War, the defeat was named Diana; a person one courtier said was the greatest threat to the monarchy since Oliver Cromwell. For years after her death, officials viewed her sons with concern lest her mental instability manifest itself in the boys. All seemed well until last year, when TV cameras arrived at a patio in California.
But the monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II changed, she knew it had to. The challenge was to change at a steady and thoughtful pace. The Queen fought Prime Minister Tony Blair when he attempted to abolish the office of Lord Chancellor. She won. But she could not prevent the establishment of a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which is seeking to inject itself in the constitutional prerogatives of Parliament and the Monarch.
Brexit, of course, has been the greatest change in Britain for fifty years. However, despite the reporting of The New York Times, it has not led to mass privation and social unrest, and the Queen throughout the process loved her subjects and her family—the latter perhaps too much.
And when news of her passing was announced, there were tears in London and Cardiff and Aberdeen, but also in Cape Town, and Singapore, and Nassau. One of her titles was “Defender of the Faith,” and none can say she didn’t keep the faith. In fact, as Mick Jagger—Sir Michael Jagger—once said, “She’s the only woman who never let me down.”
Well said and amen.