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January 2017

Elsewhere (222)

Sohrab Ahmari on the narrowness and tedium of leftist cultural criticism: 

Culture is the whole constellation of practices, norms and institutions that help people think through big questions -- about truth, beauty and the good… The problem with identitarianism is that it… reduces all these mysteries -- the things great art and culture have grappled with for millennia -- into grievance and propaganda… Open up your social-media newsfeed, or go to nearly any cultural criticism website, and chances are you’ll spot the new philistinism right away: “Did you know that yoga is cultural appropriation?” “Your sushi restaurant is actually part of a structure of colonial oppression!” “Why the new Spider-Man movie is terrible for trans people!” And on and on. For millions of people, all thinking about culture is summed in the question: Does this affirm the feelings of the “oppressed” or not?  Nothing higher, nothing transcendent or universal.

See also the first item here. And the first item here

Jonathan Haidt shares a vision of the near future: 

The [on-campus] microaggression programme teaches students the exact opposite of ancient wisdom. Microaggression training is — by definition — instruction in how to detect ever smaller specks in your neighbour’s eye… It’s bad enough to make the most fragile and anxious students quicker to take offence and more self-certain and self-righteous. But… what will happen to a democracy as students graduate from college and demand that microaggression training be implemented in their workplaces? If you think American democracy is polarised and dysfunctional in 2016, just wait until the baby boomers have aged out of leadership positions and the country is run by a millennial elite trained at our top schools, which immersed them in a microaggression programme for four years.

Damon Linker on the crab-bucket world of intersectional identity politics:

It should be obvious that this brand of politics is profoundly poisonous. Instead of seeking to level an unjust hierarchy, mitigate its worst abuses, and foster cross-group solidarity, intersectionality merely flips the hierarchy on its head, placing the least “privileged” in the most powerful position and requiring everyone else to clamour for relative advantage in the new upside-down ranking. Those who come out on top in the struggle win their own counter-status, earning the special privilege of getting to demand that those lower in the pecking order “check their privilege.” This is a sure-fire spur to division, dissension, and resentment.

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An Alien Presence

Ned Resnikoff, senior editor of the leftwing publication ThinkProgress, encounters a tradesman:

I had a plumber over to my apartment to fix a clogged drain. He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a southern accent who seemed unperturbed by [the election] news. And while I had him in the apartment, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump.

Then things get a little odd

Friday Ephemeraren’t

As I’m still finding my footing after the holiday interlude, I’m afraid you’ll have to throw together your own pile of links and oddities in the comments. I’ll set the ball rolling with some competitive fashion, a wearable compass, assorted Hungarian fishing huts, the sturdy tape breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for, some declassified CIA maps, and a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system.

Play nicely. No biting.

Elsewhere (221)

Robert Stacy McCain on the myth of the beauty myth: 

One notices, of course, that feminists never criticise gay men for adoring male beauty, nor are lesbian preferences subject to feminist critique. No, in feminist discourse, it is only the heterosexual male’s attitudes and behaviour that are the target of this kind of “fuck your beauty standards” rhetoric.

A visual aid

Mark Bauerlein on the ideological desiccation of the humanities: 

When English turned into a practice of reading literature for signs of racism, sexism, and ideology, it lost touch with why youths pick up books in the first place, said University of Virginia Professor Rita Felski. And Duke professor Toril Moi told the Chronicle of Higher Education, “If you challenge the idea of suspicion as the only mode of reading, you are then immediately accused of being conservative in relation to those politics.

Heather Mac Donald on progressive discipline policies and subsequent delinquency: 

The idea that such street behaviour does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialisation that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behaviour. Teens who react to a perceived insult on social media by trying to shoot the offender are not likely to restrain themselves in the classroom if they feel “disrespected” by a teacher or fellow students. 

Somewhat related

Joe Concha spies an asymmetry: 

Democratic voters are almost three times as likely to have “blocked, unfriended, or stopped following someone on social media” after Donald Trump’s victory, according to a study… The survey shows considerable splits along gender lines as well. Women were “twice as likely as men to report removing people from their online social circle because of the political views they expressed online,” 18 percent to 9 percent, according to the study conducted by Daniel Cox and Robert P. Jones… Meanwhile, 5 percent of those polled said they will alter plans to spend less time with select members of their family because of their political views. This, too, showed a partisan divide: 10 percent of Democrats said they planned to avoid certain family members, and 2 percent of Republicans said they would do likewise.

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