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Elsewhere (47)

John Rosenberg on when cartoon narcissism becomes a job for life:

The time is fast approaching (if it is not already here) when a student can be admitted to a selective university largely on the basis of his or her racial or ethnic identity; major in his or her identity; go to graduate school (also aided by preferential admissions) and get a PhD in his or her identity; and have an entire academic career based on professing his or her identity, perhaps rewarded at some point with elevation to a vice presidency in charge of “diversity and inclusion” to oversee the management and expansion of university-wide programmes based on racial and ethnic identity.

Charlotte Allen on the hardships and heroism of a Women’s Studies professor: 

Lynn Comella’s research and teaching interests include media and popular culture, gender and consumer culture, sexuality studies, and ethnographic research. She is presently at work on a book project that explores the history and retail culture of women-owned sex toy stores in the United States.

Christopher Hitchens on excusing evil:

The proper task of the “public intellectual” might be conceived as the responsibility to introduce complexity into the argument: the reminder that things are very infrequently as simple as they can be made to seem. But what I learned in a highly indelible manner from the events and arguments of September 2001 was this: Never, ever ignore the obvious either. To the government and most of the people of the United States, it seemed that the country on 9/11 had been attacked in a particularly odious way (air piracy used to maximise civilian casualties) by a particularly odious group (a secretive and homicidal gang: part multinational corporation, part crime family) that was sworn to a medieval cult of death, a racist hatred of Jews, a religious frenzy against Hindus, Christians, Shia Muslims, and “unbelievers,” and the restoration of a long-vanished and despotic empire. […]

That this was an assault upon our society, whatever its ostensible capitalist and militarist “targets,” was again thought too obvious a point for a clever person to make. It became increasingly obvious, though, with every successive nihilistic attack on London, Madrid, Istanbul, Baghdad, and Bali. There was always some “intellectual,” however, to argue in each case that the policy of Tony Blair, or George Bush, or the Spanish government, was the “root cause” of the broad-daylight slaughter of civilians. Responsibility, somehow, never lay squarely with the perpetrators.

Attempts to be unobvious and therefore sophisticated – even at the cost of distortion and absurdity – are, for some, a regular indulgence. Not least among academics of a certain stripe.

And Guido Fawkes reminds us of the BBC’s Question Time programme that aired two days after the September 11 atrocities. Readers who saw that particular broadcast may, like me, have begun to register some now common themes. I’m not referring to the remarkable number of Guardianistas in the studio audience, which is pretty much a given, or the unhinged anti-American sentiment. What struck me at the time - for the first time - was the composition of the panel, which took the shape of one distressed American ambassador – being continually interrupted and jeered - and three prominent left-wingers. As human dust was still settling on Manhattan, our scrupulously impartial state broadcaster shared with the nation the full spectrum of political thought – from left to further left, with a token visiting dissenter as a fig leaf to “balance.” The BBC’s flagship political debate programme is currently edited by Nicolai Gentchev, previously an editor of Radio 4’s Today and a former contributor to such lofty publications as the International Socialism Journal and Socialist Review. Noting the political composition of Question Time panels has in recent years become an armchair sport.

As usual, feel free to add your own.



our scrupulously impartial state broadcaster shared with the nation the full spectrum of political thought – from left to further left

And we have to pay them for the privilege.

"The BBC idea of 'balance' is to invite one collectivist to deliver a series of little unchallenged speeches, after having another do the same thing for weeks."

The Unspeakable In Full Pursuit Of The Unreadable

To summarise: We have people separate from normal life who are elevated via freely-provided 'higher education' to a position of privilege and benefit who will without question support any act of lunacy and actively support efforts to reduce our society (a society that unquestioningly accommodates their own lack of productivity) to being 'corrected' by barbarians whose dogmas are hell bent on control and a desire to rediscover the stone age. At the same time the state broadcaster, who sucks on the public teat so greedily, berates the ordinary people by presenting sympathetic shows where clusters of useful idiots and the intellectually feeble gather (under bright lights and generous expenses) in order to tell they, the ordinary person foolish enough to listen and watch, that it is never the dogmatic crazies who are to blame for any excess but the innocents and the common man who must take the blame and shoulder the pain. And they must keep on paying and paying for the privilege, too.


As human dust was still settling on Manhattan, our scrupulously impartial state broadcaster shared with the nation the full spectrum of political thought – from left to further left

I remember that Question Time broadcast well, David.

The panel:

Paddy Ashdown (centre-left).
Tam Dalyell (far left).
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (lefty, race hustler and professional moonbat).

Because the BBC is all about 'diversity'…

Horace Dunn

Ah yes, Paddy Ashdown, Tam Dalye11, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown ... being pious and condescending on the BBC because "it's what we do".

sackcloth and ashes

'Question Time' can occasionally provide some flashes of clarity. I assume we all remember Christopher Hitchens' destruction of that hypocritical hag, Shirley Williams:


I'll miss the Hitch when he's gone.



One of Mr Hitchens’ finer moments, especially given the “sullen, resentful atmosphere” of much of the QT audience. And he deserves a glass of his favourite tipple for exposing Shirley Williams as not only morally vacuous but as the bare-faced liar she evidently is.


And the BBC still refuse to release the tape of the 911 edition of question Time.
You'd think they were ashamed of it, or something.

That doesn't seem very likely based on last night's Question Time.

10 years on and nothing has changed. The hive mind-set is unaltered.


Christopher Hitchens hits it out of the park.

I am a mathematician by trade. Mathematicians do things a certain way: they start with the absolute minimum basics -- things they are absolutely certain about -- and then carefully, meticulously work their way towards more complicated results, at all times preserving fidelity to what came before.

Mathematicians know from hard experience that when they deviate from this path, the results can quickly turn to useless mush.

And yet so many "public intellectuals" never bother considering what the basics are -- what are the facts, what do we really know? -- in their analysis. As a result, their conclusions are often absurd. And in their arrogance they don't recognize this Reductio ad absurdum for what it is, a clear indication that their thinking has gone off the rails. They simply charge ahead with their conclusions, as if nothing has gone wrong.


You'd think they were ashamed of it, or something.

This week it was David Miliband (failed Labour tool), Bonnie Greer (Guardianista), Tariq Ali (wackjob Guardianista), another lefty and… (gasp)... two non-lefties.

Only four against two – that's ten years of progress! :D



“You’d think they were ashamed of it, or something.”

All things considered, I doubt the BBC is capable of shame, not with regard to its political tendencies. It’s just doing what socialised, statist broadcasting does. It’s the nature of the beast.


@rabbit, you've kind of touched on the thing that drives me bats about lefties. As a software engineer and something of a math geek, I understand what you are saying, re:

"start with the absolute minimum basics -- things they are absolutely certain about -- and then carefully, meticulously work their way towards more complicated results".

With complex problems I start with the absurd, the zero or the infinity, and work my way back to the solution to the problem. What grates about these quasi-philosopher lefties is it's almost as if the do the exact opposite. It's as if they start from the problem space and work their way out to the absurd and simplistic extremes.


Oh, and BTW David...perhaps it's because I'm on vacation and time takes on different proportions, but that has to be one of the shortest of hiatuses (hiatusi?). I know you can't possibly be channeling Brett Farve. Should I say welcome back?

Rich Rostrom

Attempts to be unobvious and therefore sophisticated – even at the cost of distortion and absurdity – are, for some, a regular indulgence.

The appetite for the "unobvious" is damned near universal. Everybody wants to be a contrarian.

It's got to the point where the "unobvious" can become a new pseudo-orthodoxy.

For instance, it is stunningly obvious that the cause of the American Civil War was slavery. My friend Dave is a fairly well-read chap (but no academic) who is neither crazed lefty, neo-Confederate, or crank libertarian. Yet he told me that "most historians agree that it was not slavery."

Well, in the last generation, some fringy libertarians have claimed that the tariff was the real issue. And there was a vogue, in the early 20th century, for a quasi-Marxist "economic rivalry" explanation, pushed by Charles Beard. But it never really caught on, and was refuted by the 1960s.

Since then no serious historian has suggested any significant cause for the Civil War other than slavery.

Yet Dave confidently asserted that the historical consensus was the opposite. Why? Because he wants to have knowledge that is unobvious.



“It’s got to the point where the ‘unobvious’ can become a new pseudo-orthodoxy.”

Bingo. And it happens in part because there are so few penalties for being absurdly contrarian, even wilfully dishonest. See, for instance, Judith Butler and her credulous “teach-in” entourage. Totalitarian child murderers are, she says, “progressive… part of the global left” and so solidarity is in order. And for this she’s applauded by her fawning, witless audience. The inversion of reality is grotesque and deranged – and the “lesson” on offer is morally stupefying and pure fantasy. But does anyone here believe that Professor Butler’s distortion and misinformation will cost her anything, professionally – anything at all?

I know she’s been mocked by me, but that hardly seems sufficient as a practical remedy.


David, can't post from ipad.

Just get a "cannot accept this data" message. Any thoughts?


“Any thoughts?”

Um, reboot, try again?

(I hear a lucrative career in IT beckoning…)


Damn! Now if only this thing had a coffee cup holder.

Ted S., Catskills, NY

I'd have suggested not using an Ipad. :-p

Ted S., Catskills, NY

WTP wrote:

I know you can't possibly be channeling Brett Farve.

Are you suggesting David texted you photos of his junk? ;-)

(Then again, there is this post David put up back in April 2007: http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/04/xray_blowjobs_r.html )


Gee, Ted...forgot about that one. No, it was the other thing...

Anyway, for those who are interested in the "Attempts to be unobvious and therefore sophisticated" by our intellectual elite, please, please, please check out the article on Talking Philosophy (I'd provide the link, but I'm a rude boy and have been banned). I was elsewhere this weekend and was able to read the site. The article to which I refer addresses a story in the UK, not sure how widely known it is, involving two people having sex in an elevator. The philosopher writing the article manages to get his knickers in a twist tut-tutting about how uptight our society is, all the while overlooking/ignoring the most egregious aspect of the story. Sharia law comes up in the comments. Also Che Guevara, but I'm too dumb and ignorant on the latter to understand what the point was. I am, however, willing to learn.


the BBC’s Question Time programme that aired two days after the September 11 atrocities… As human dust was still settling on Manhattan, our scrupulously impartial state broadcaster shared with the nation the full spectrum of political thought – from left to further left


Janet Daley is on form:

"Anyone who claims that the latest fashionable wave of political hatred for the US has been provoked by the Iraq war should look at the press coverage that sprang up in the first 48 to 72 hours after the attacks. When the invasion of Afghanistan – let alone Iraq – was only a possibility on the horizon, when the death toll was climbing into the thousands, and when people here were still desperately trying to contact American friends and family, sections of the British media were already engaged in a frenzy of vitriolic retribution. The Guardian led the way, of course, with a now infamous series of comment pieces which reiterated the same vengeful theme: America had got what it deserved."

"[Seumas Milne] and his comrades (I use the word advisedly) still seem incapable of grasping what was so profoundly offensive about this coverage: it was not a matter of politics, but of basic human decency. Would they accost a widow at her husband's funeral to shout that the idiot got what was coming to him, because he had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and never taken any exercise? What sort of people behave like this? ...Then the BBC followed with an outrageous edition of Question Time, in which the audience shrieked abuse at anyone on the panel who uttered a word of sympathy for the US, and openly cheered the idea that the attacks were justified."


And judging by this week's coverage the Beeb/Guardian crowd still don't get it.



Yes, the display of moral pathology and naked schadenfreude was a moment of realisation for large numbers of people. Among them, people who hadn’t previously thought themselves particularly political. The distortions, inversions and triumphalism of so many leftist commentators, academics and comedians - and the extent of that worldview in “our” media - helped fuel the blogosphere.

In the weeks and months afterwards, it became clear that a significant number of people in positions of trust and influence were ambivalent towards, even titillated by, the thought of America (and Britain, and the West generally) being “humbled,” broken and dragged to its knees. The nature, methods and ultimate ambitions of those doing the “humbling” didn’t seem to matter, or were simply lied about. (Dozens of Guardian articles illustrate this delusion and willingness to lie.)

Many of those who’d forgotten the 70s and 8os, or who were too young to have experienced them, suddenly saw just how vile leftist thinking can be, and how far into our institutions its assumptions reached, and still reach. Ten years on, the Guardian is still digging the same hole, as is the BBC. Seumas Milne – Stalin groupie and fellator of jihadis – tells us he’s proud of his efforts to misinform. It seems foolish to imagine that such people will ever rethink their prejudices or abandon dishonesty and unrealism as tactics.

That’s who they are. That’s what they do.

Horace Dunn

David, just in case you were a bit short of leftie hypocrisy this week, here's that expensively educated member of the Euro-elite, Caroline Lucas:

"How can a Cabinet Minister whose experience of life is Eton, Oxford and a series of well-paid City jobs lay down the law on how we could prevent further riots - and expect to be listened to?"

The whole piece is worth a read as it gives us a special insight into our Prime Minister's thinking. "That," says Lucas, with the rhetorical flair for which she is celebrated the length and breadth of Brighton and Hove, "is Cameron's vision".

So, what is Cameron's vision? Well, it involves denying justice to the working classes through the use of heavy policing, cctv and denial of benefits. In ghettoes. I'm not making this up, by the way. You can read the daft bint here:




Ah, the stunningly dense Caroline Lucas, another would-be overlord - beloved by the BBC – who wants to “realign” our minds to comply with hers. When not excusing anti-Semitic vandalism and disdaining what people actually want and wish to pay for, this authoritarian elf tells us that homeopathy should be available on the NHS. Ms Lucas also seems to believe that her degree in women’s romantic poetry equips her to hold forth on global economics – a subject of which she displays a laughable ignorance. (See Tim Worstall’s blog for some bewildering examples.)

You have to wonder if the Milnes, Buntings and Lucases of the world will ever look back on their lives and grasp just how absurd they’ve been, and that what they wanted, what they lied for, was either fatuous or morally disgusting.


One response (in the comments) to Janet Daley's piece expresses a fear of Islam that the BBC/Guardian (they are now interchangeable, sadly) would be loathe to publish. They want to fight racism (especially that towards Muslims) at all costs, even if a point of view is not racist, but they feel might inflame racism.

But there remains the feeling that a religion - which we want to respect as such - has become a focal point for forces that do not recognise the values that we hold dear. It's the old problem with multiculturalism with which we are familiar. The commenter giving this view is 'mattbayleaf' and here is an excerpt:

"You do not seem to understand that if you fill America with Moslems, even if many are good and decent people, your freedom and democracy will gradually be eroded and you will eventually come under attack. Islam is a theocracy. Its followers have an obligation to their faith. Some of the passages in the Koran are open to interpretation. Some believe that they have a duty to treat anyone who is not Moslem as a second class citizen. You are inviting in a system of apartheid into your country without realizing it. A hundred mosques have sprung up in New York and you see that as a triumph of the Constitution and the American Way !"

This openness to interpretation in the Koran and Islamic teaching seems to be the cause of a lot of trouble, to my eye. Here is some more from mattbayleaf:

"There was a demonstration yesterday in Grosvenor Square by a hundred members of a radical Islamic group who were protesting against America. There were chants of “Down Down USA” with women wearing black hijabs and men holding placards which said “Islam Will Dominate The world”, “Muslims Rise Defend Islam”, and “Establish Islamic Emirates”. At one stage an American flag was burnt. The story was shown on Sky News for a while in the afternoon but most of the coverage was on the memorial services in London and New York."

I wonder, did the BBC show this? They were very busy asking whether Muslims have been 'demonized' after 9/11 when I looked at BBC1.

sackcloth and ashes

When it comes to Seumas Milne, his basic argument is that 'Americans deserved what happened on 9/11 because of their country's foreign policy'.

If that is the case, could it be said that any unrepentant Stalinist who has a habit of excusing Communism could legitimately be killed by a victim of said ideology? So, for example, would it be legitimate for an Afghan to assassinate a British journalist who had belonged to the 'Straight Left' faction of the CPGB - which, amongst other things, supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 (which led to the deaths of 1m Afghans and the destitution of 5m more)?

I'm just asking, Seumas.


You have to wonder if the Milnes, Buntings and Lucases of the world will ever look back on their lives and grasp just how absurd they’ve been

Short answer: no. Haven't you seen Seumas's mad staring eyes? He looks like someone who's got voices in his head.



“He looks like someone who’s got voices in his head.”

He does look and sound rather disturbed. I think it’s the combination of the eyes, the bad haircut and the very slight lisp. And of course the fact that he’s impervious to correction. Nothing you or I could say or show or prove would impede his dogmatism. Nothing at all.

When he and Joseph Harker ran the Guardian’s comment pages, my impression was one of ideological mania. It was literally impossible to correct their prejudices, no matter what evidence was brought to bear. There were certain points of view and certain facts they just wouldn’t allow inside their heads. Mao gave the people “job security” and Stalin was to be admired for his “genuine idealism.” As a freelancer I’d never encountered that kind of lunatic rigidity at any other national newspaper.

[ Added: ]


“I’m just asking, Seumas.”

Ah, but you won’t persuade Milne with your imperialist NeoCon logic. Given the endless contradictions in Milne’s arguments and his imperviousness to correction, one has to consider other, non-rational motives. As I said in one of my first posts,

Like many other refugees from the Communist Party of Great Britain, Milne may be vicariously titillated by the revolutionary intent of Islamic fundamentalism. Though one has to wonder how contempt for pluralism and free speech along with the theological mandate of arbitrary murder have become such obvious causes for a “progressive” newspaper. Granted, the Brotherhood shares with much of the left a hatred of U.S. ‘imperialism,’ which is allegedly the cause of all evil in the world. Though, again, I’m not sure how these anti-imperial credentials sit with the slogan that still adorns the Brotherhood’s literature and website: “Islam will dominate the world.” Guardian readers are, however, spared such troublesome details. It’s not entirely obvious whether these omissions are a result of Milne’s ignorance, or of some deeper sympathy with delusional bigots.

And it seems to me Milne has defended and sanitised Islamic totalitarianism not just because it overlaps with his own reactionary political urges – but also because he relates quite strongly to how those people think. I suspect there’s some psychological affinity. He seems to share with them a kind of inflexible monomania, a need for never-ending grievance and a Total Ideological Explanation. Hence the communism.

He’s a believer and so are they.


There is a psycho/sexual titilation evident In these hard left ideologues when it comes to discussions of violence.

I've seen their eyes light up with glee as they talk about the insurgency, or Che Guevara, or Maoist guerrillas, or even the horrors of the shining Path. Sometimes I think the desire to rebuild society from the ground up after the revolution is just a very thin excuse to have the destruction of the revolution in the first place.

I'd call it the Baader-Meinhof complex, but the names already taken.

sackcloth and ashes

The irony about Milne and his line on radical Islamism is that whenever adherents of the latter get into power (e.g. Iran in 1979) one of the first things they do is massacre the Communists. So I think his instincts and those like him are basically suicidal. I just wish he wasn't expecting society as a whole to enthusiastically join him in his demise.


Again and again the Hampstead 'revolutionaries' have shown themselves to be racist. They privately despise their Islamist allies-of-convenience, and believe they will be able to outmanoeuvre them after the destruction of the capitalists and zionists. They are so confident in their own intellectual superiority. They see the Islamists as stupid natives, there to be used for a noble end, then discarded.

A massive tactical mistake. (see SWP and STW 'coalition').



“Sometimes I think the desire to rebuild society from the ground up after the revolution is just a very thin excuse to have the destruction of the revolution in the first place.”

Hold that thought.

If you look at people like Milne (or the totalitarian wannabes that Milne and co have flattered and employed), we’re not looking at people who just honestly disagree with us, based on different facts and different experiences. His position isn’t one that’s held in good faith and could therefore be changed by new information. It’s not like debating the minimum wage or what the most equitable levels of taxation might be. And it’s telling to watch how dishonestly Milne addresses his critics, insofar as he ever does. Given this tendency and Milne’s history in general, I don’t think it’s about facts or reality. I think we’re looking at someone with certain, rather unpleasant psychological needs.

sackcloth and ashes

'They privately despise their Islamist allies-of-convenience, and believe they will be able to outmanoeuvre them after the destruction of the capitalists and zionists'.

This being the very thesis of SWP 'intellectual' Chris Harman. When he died on stage at some hatefest in Cairo in November 2009 he had seen this fine concept fall flat on its arse with the RESPECT fiasco.


It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.


"I think we’re looking at someone with certain, rather unpleasant psychological needs"

If you've ever had the displeasure of spending any significant time amongst leftists, you'll get the distinct feeling that he's the rule rather than the exception in this. And surprisingly, some leftists are even willing to admit the fact themselves:


Horace Dunn

“Sometimes I think the desire to rebuild society from the ground up after the revolution is just a very thin excuse to have the destruction of the revolution in the first place.”

Hmmm. I'm not so sure. This is all about vanity. Milne and others like him want to *appear* as though they would relish a revolution. They want to show us all that they have seen through, and despise, our own society and culture, because this shows how anti-racist they are. They are sophisticated, you see, and so decent and fair-minded that they'll always fight for the underdog, even when the underdog is perceived as a danger by our (less sophisticated) society in general. The message is, "behold my goodness". And they want to *appear* dangerous and edgy (which is just laughable coming from someone who works for the Guardian, but no-one said that self-awareness is their strong suit) like their beloved "Che". Vanity, do you see?

But I don't think that these Hampstead lefties would genuinely embrace any kind of upheaval. If you suppose for one moment that they'd be willing to surrendour one atom of the privilege and wealth that they enjoy, then you don't know the London left-wing establishment. Oh no. The "revolution" is just a fantasy for these people, a kind of dungeon-and-dragons game for self-regarding, overindulged smart-arses.


I do sometimes naievely wonder if a crash course in what revolutions are actually like would be helpful to those people who wish for one. So here's one, compiled off the cuff:

a) Revolutions are somewhat unpredictable, to say the least. Your hero-with-scruples leading the revolution is likely to be overthrown at any moment by less scrupulous former allies who want power,

b) in unstable political situations, you tend to have to kill any outstanding claimants to the throne/political rivals. You weren't planning it that way, but in the event the instability and danger to yourself forced you into that course of action,

c) giving power to the people in this way is dangerous because what they then do with that power may not equate exactly to the socialist's dreamily utopian view of the un-shackled proletariat's ethical sophistication. A good Marxist or revolutionary will then (of course) think of an explanation for this*, if he's still alive.

d) he will then conclude that he and he alone is needed to guide people to the correct way of life. To do all this he needs control of the army and then some rather stringent measures to keep order. There are economic problems too, all of a sudden, and more ensuing social unrest. This business of running a country is HARD! People just won't behave. So he hires more police, more informants...

..and we're down the same old path again.

Revolution just comes down to the most ruthless and politically savvy person rising to the top. In other words business as usual in politics, with 100 times more violence, and less equality and personal freedom at the end of it.

I guess Laurie Penny and the other loons won't understand this until they've seen it happen, though...

* the true Marxist state hadn't been implemented yet, so there were still inequalities to be ironed out. Hence any unfortunate behaviour.


Socialism is a bit like burning humans alive at the end of the 'Wicker Man' film. It's unpleasant and doesn't work, but they have to keep on doing it because one day it just might.

The button in 'Lost' springs to mind as well.

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