Sometimes the employment of a single word in common use gives away an entire worldview. There was just such a usage in the headline of a story in the Guardian late last month: “How the ‘Pompey Lads’ fell into the hands of Isis.” […] The word that implied a whole worldview was “fell.” According to the headline, the young men “fell” into the hands of Isis as an apple falls passively to the ground by gravitational force. The word suggests that it could have happened to anybody, this going to Syria via Turkey to join a movement that delights in decapitation and other such activities in the name of a religion — their religion. Joining Isis is like multiple sclerosis; it’s something that just happens to people. The word “fell” denies agency to the young men, as if they had no choice in the matter. They were victims of circumstance by virtue of their membership of a minority, for minorities are by definition victims without agency.
Mick Hartley quotes Anne Applebaum on the new titan of the British left:
Jeremy Corbyn, would-be leader of the Labour party, is the latest in a long line of useful idiots. Corbyn has recommended that his Twitter followers watch the Russian propaganda channel Russia Today, which he has described as “more objective” than other channels. Never mind that Russia Today interviews actors who claim to be “witnesses” and invents stories — for example, that a Russian-speaking child was crucified by a Ukrainian.
When not describing Hamas and Hizballah as “friends” and declaring his “solidarity” with the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela, our Islington radical finds time to be a fearless supporter of taxpayer-funded homeopathy, which apparently “compliments ‘conventional’ medicine” because “they both come from organic matter.”
And Tim Blair ponders the cultural and economic powerhouse that is taxpayer-funded interpretive dance:
As Australia transitions from a mineral export-based economy to a dance-based economy, it is clearly important to make certain that the dance sector is as stable as possible. Choreographer Lucy Guerin told the [senate] hearings [into arts funding] that to do otherwise would risk us “eventually severing the future of artistic development in Australia and setting us back 30 years.” “It’s that serious,” she added, with all the gravity you’d expect from a choreographer addressing a bunch of senators.
Roger Kimball on the unacknowledged charms of Swedish multiculturalism:
In 1975, the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogeneous Sweden into a multicultural country. Forty years later the dramatic consequences of this experiment emerge: violent crime has increased by 300%. If one looks at the number of rapes, however, the increase is even worse. In 1975, 421 rapes were reported to the police; in 2014, it was 6,620. That is an increase of 1,472%.
To be clear, nobody is snaffling anybody’s cake. The cake has been getting bigger for all, including those in the rest of the top [income] decile. But whilst inequality has not risen in the nation as a whole, it has risen sharply within the upper echelons. It is not the richest ten per cent who have “pulled away from the pack.” It is the very rich who have pulled away from the rest of the top 10 per cent. It is, then, the upper-middle classes who may feel that they are having their cake scoffed. If so, it may explain why there is currently such a sense of resentment and antipathy from the wealthy (a group that includes politicians, professors, television presenters and BBC editors) towards the very rich.
And Mark Steyn on the blatherings of the Most Clever President Ever:
“Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,” says the President. You might think that Islam has been entirely irrelevant to “the fabric of our country” for its first two centuries, and you might further think that Islam, being self-segregating, tends not to weave itself into anybody’s fabric, but instead tends to unravel it - as it’s doing in, say, Copenhagen, where 500 mourners turned up for the funeral of an ISIS-supporting Jew-hating anti-free-speech murderer.
Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.
In scenario number two, you are a journeyman public health advocate picking up a nice, steady wage from the government every month. You hold lots of meetings and you go to lots of conferences. You and your colleagues developed a plan of incremental prohibition in the early 1980s and you have it all mapped out… And then something comes along that you didn’t expect. A new product that gives smokers a way to enjoy nicotine without the health risks of smoking cigarettes. You didn’t come up with the idea. The government didn’t come up with the idea. It came from the private sector, and private businesses are making money out of it. Worse still, after a few years of monitoring the market, the tobacco industry buys up a few companies and now they’re making money out of it. Sure, lots of people are giving up smoking as a result, but not in a way that was part of The Plan. Where does this leave you?
The idea that there is a… culture of hot-headed, violent-minded hatred for Muslims that could be awoken and unleashed by the next terror attack is an invention… The thing that keeps the Islamophobia panic alive is not actual violence against Muslims but the right-on politicos’ ill-founded yet deeply held view of ordinary Europeans, especially those of a working-class variety, as racist and stupid. This is the terrible irony of the Islamophobia panic: The fearers of anti-Muslim violence claim to be challenging prejudice but actually they reveal their own prejudices, their distrust of and disdain for those who come from the other side of the tracks, read different newspapers, hold different beliefs, live different lives.
Our schools and colleges are laying a guilt trip on those young people whose parents are productive, and who are raising them to become productive. What is amazing is how easily this has been done, largely just by replacing the word “achievement” with the word “privilege.”
Don’t make the mistake of judging socialism as a textbook theory but judging capitalism by its necessarily imperfect outcomes. Judge like with like. In the real world, you find me a functioning socialist country that has delivered more than a free-market alternative.
As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.
Just yesterday, the president of the United States… stood before the United Nations and heaped praise on Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a Muslim cleric who has endorsed a fatwa calling for the murder of U.S. soldiers. Yep, Bin Bayyah is Obama’s candidate of the week for the prize of being a “moderate Muslim.”
And Heather Wilhelm weeps at the suffering of “Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women,” Ms Emma Watson:
While Watson, to her credit, did give a few shout-outs to actual oppression around the globe — child brides and uneducated girls in Africa, specifically, along with an admission that “not all women have received the same rights I have” — her speech [to the U.N.] was an unfortunate reflection of the “we’re all victims,” zero-sense-of-proportion mishmash that makes up modern Western feminism. If you don’t believe me, here is what Emma Watson, Hollywood actress, actually complained about before a body of 192 member states, some which have more terrifying dictatorships than others: 1. She was called “bossy” as a child; 2. She was sexualised by the media as a young movie star; 3. Many of her girlfriends quit their sports teams because they didn’t want to grow muscles.
Now, if, for instance, Ms Watson had directly addressed the representative of each member country in which women really are treated appallingly – and listed that country’s sins in graphic detail – I’d have been more than happy to applaud. But that didn’t happen, and was never going to happen. What we got instead was a piece of flimsy theatre that we’re expected to applaud anyway. It’s the U.N., after all. But it seems to me that if you’re going to use a U.N. gathering to shame backward cultures and their various representatives – shame them into change - it’s best not to appear clownish and morally frivolous while you’re attempting it. And if you want to highlight real oppression in the world – say, women being disfigured by Muhammadan savages – it’s probably best to avoid moaning about having once been called “bossy.”*
One of the most senior members of the Turkish government sparked an outcry on Tuesday, after declaring that women should not laugh loudly in public. The deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinc, one of the co-founders of the ruling Islamic Justice and Development party (AKP), made the comment while lamenting the moral decline of modern society. “A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent,” Arinc said in a speech on Monday, in the western Bursa region for the Bayram holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. “She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times,” he added.
Mr Arinc also shares his wisdom on other matters.
He denounced the excessive use of cars, saying that if even the “river Nile was filled with petrol” there wouldn’t be enough to go around. Arinc also slammed the excessive use of mobile phones in Turkish society, with women “spending hours on the phone to swap recipes.”
Professor Lakoff uses the term ‘progressive’ freely. Now there is a framing metaphor if ever there was one. What person of goodwill could possibly be against progress, that is to say betterment of the human condition? So if you are a person in favour of progress – in short, a progressive – only the malevolent could disagree with you.
However, there is a rather large question begged here, namely ‘What is progress?’ There is rarely gain without loss, and loss can easily exceed gain. Human action has unintended and unforeseen consequences, sometimes beneficial, often not. Progress in society is not the same as progress in internet speeds… It is possible for reasonable people to disagree… Yet Professor Lakoff seems to use the term ‘progressive’ as if those he calls progressives brought about progress ex officio, as it were, merely by virtue of their self-designation. This is a form of magical thinking.
I’m reminded of the modesty of Mr George Monbiot, a man who also deploys the word ‘progressive’ as if it were a talisman, and who dismisses his political opponents as dullards struggling with “low intelligence” and racial phobias.
These posters and drawing hardly seem to be the stuff of Voltairian pamphlets. They do not renew the liberal flames in me. What should inspire one, though, is the response to them. It is alarming that our national media feels that it cannot publish a drawing of a cartoon man for fear of violent reprisals. If people are scared to show innocuous cartoons, how might they react to a novel that may provoke controversy, or to academic research that might inspire outrage? …If, indeed, Rory Bremner is scared to joke, or Grayson Perry to make art, how many commentators, novelists and scholars have allowed their thoughts to be repressed?
In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC’s producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures.” To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.
Chris Snowdon on booze, sponsorship and publicly subsidised temperance zealots:
With tiresome predictability, Alcohol Concern says this must all be done for the sake of “children.” There is, it seems, no interference into adult pastimes that cannot be justified in the name of those who are prohibited from engaging in them. For the moral busybody, all the world is a crèche.
Peter Wood ponders the bean-counting world of campus gender equity:
To be “representative of the student body,” approximately 55% of the 52 Title IX Coordinator positions should have been held by women. But in our sample, 83% are held by women. Likewise, women appear overrepresented in the staff positions of the relevant campus offices, but the level of overrepresentation was less than for the top positions (73.1 percent of the positions are held by women). Considering that the overwhelming preponderance of sexual harassment allegations are directed by women at men, the disproportion of women to men in the positions charged with interpreting and enforcing the sexual harassment rules is a legitimate concern. Are male students who are accused of sexual harassment likely to receive fair-minded treatment in these offices?
When white male President Mills pledges to press for race-based affirmative action, the right reply is this: “Well, then, sir, you must resign your post immediately and call for Bowdoin to hire a racial or ethnic minority in your place.” Keep it simple and direct. Every white male board member of the ACE should receive a message to step down. Let’s ask white male campus leaders to stand up for their own principles and do the thing they want everybody else to do. When white women acquire a disproportionate number of jobs in campus leadership, yet still call for more diversity, they, too, should be asked to withdraw. This is the logic of affirmative action, and if diversity proponents who are white follow it to its conclusion, they should relinquish their positions as soon as possible.
The University of Leipzig has voted to adopt the feminine version of the word for ‘professor’ as its default. In German, professorin refers to a female professor while professor is the male equivalent. Under the new measures, written documents will use the term Professorinnen when referring to professors in general. A footnote is to explain that male professors are also included in the description. Physics professor Dr Josef Käs suggested the change as a joke because he was becoming weary of extended discussions about gendered language. To his surprise, the university board voted in favour of the idea.
It is not true that the society in which he lived offered him no opportunity for personal betterment. Adebolajo was for a time a student at Greenwich University, graduation from which, whatever the real value of the education it offered him, would have improved his chances in the job market, especially in the public sector. But it was at the university that he encountered radical Islam, that ideology that simultaneously succours people with an existential grudge against the world and flatters their inflated and inflamed self-importance. It also successfully squares the adolescent circle: the need both to conform to a peer group and to rebel against society.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. [ *Added, via Rafi in the comments. ]
The killer of French schoolchildren and soldiers turns out to be a man called Mohammed Merah. The story can now proceed according to time-honoured tradition. Stage One: The strange compulsion to assure us that the killer is a “right wing conservative extremist,” in the words of NRO commenter ExpatAsia. […] The insistence that the killer was emblematic of an epidemic of right-wing hate sweeping the planet is, regrettably, no longer operative. Instead, the killer isn’t representative of anything at all.
So on to Stage Two: Okay, he may be called Mohammed but he’s a “lone wolf.” Sure, he says he was trained by al-Qaeda, but what does he know? Don’t worry, folks, he’s just a lone wolf like Major Hasan and Faisal Shahzad and all the other card-carrying members of the Amalgamated Union of Lone Wolves. All jihad is local. On to Stage Three: Okay, even if there are enough lone wolves around to form their own Radio City Rockette line, it’s still nothing to do with Islam. […]
And then, of course, Stage Four: The backlash that never happens. Because apparently the really bad thing about actual dead Jews is that it might lead to dead non-Jews: “French Muslims Fear Backlash After Shooting.” Likewise, after Major Hasan’s mountain of dead infidels, “Shooting Raises Fears For Muslims In US Army.” Likewise, after the London Tube slaughter, “British Muslims Fear Repercussions After Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.” Oh, no, wait, that’s a parody, though it’s hard to tell.
James Q. Wilson, America’s preeminent social scientist, has noted that until relatively recently, “politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything.” Until the 1930s, or perhaps the 1960s, there was a “legitimacy barrier” to federal government activism: When new policies were proposed, the first debate was about whether the federal government could properly act at all on the subject. Today, there is no barrier to the promiscuous multiplication of programmes, because no programme is really new. Rather, it is an extension, modification or enlargement of something government is already doing.
The vicious cycle that should worry [economic adviser, Larry] Summers is the reverse of the one he imagines. It is not government being “cut back” because of disappointments that reinforce themselves. Rather, it is government squandering its limited resources, including the resource of competence, in reckless expansions of its scope. “There has been,” Wilson writes, “a transformation of public expectations about the scope of federal action, one that has put virtually everything on Washington’s agenda and left nothing off.” Try, Wilson suggests, to think “of a human want or difficulty that is not now defined as a ‘public policy problem.’”
And related to the above, Tim Worstall on Zoe Williams and her suggested jobs of choice:
When the desirable jobs are spending other peoples’ money, reporting on spending other peoples’ money and lobbying to spend other peoples’ money, then you know that the society is fucked.