YET MAN IS fALLEN:

A personal tale of intellectual humility – and the rewards of being open-minded (Gemma Ware, 2/29/24, The Conversation)

To Daryl Van Tongeren, the pressure to be right all the time is an “unassailably tall order”. He believes that we’re living in a moment where even when people make mistakes, apologize and say they’ve changed their minds, it isn’t good enough.


We demand perfection. Not only perfection now but also perfection in one’s past and perfection in one’s future.

Van Tongeren is a psychology researcher at Hope College in Michigan in the U.S. who conducts research into the concept of intellectual humility. He explains it as something that happens both within us – “our ability to admit and own our cognitive limitations” – and in our relationships with others. “It means being able to present my ideas or interact with someone in a way that’s nondefensive,” he says.

Overall, if somebody is intellectually humble, they are willing to be open-minded enough to revise their beliefs if presented with sufficiently strong evidence.

Because ideologies are utopian they deny humanness.

A CLASH OF IDENTITARIANS:

Stuck in the Middle with Hayek (James E. Hartley, 2/29/24, Law & Liberty)


In 1944, Friedrich Hayek wrote in “Why the Worst Get on Top” in his The Road to Serfdom:

It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative program—on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off—than on any positive task. The contrast between “we” and “they,” the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive program. […]

The stories Alberta tells are interesting, but the most important part of the book is a conversation Alberta relates with a set of prominent evangelicals who vocally oppose the Trumpian wing of evangelicalism:

We all agreed that these ideological diehards whom [David] French was describing were not a majority of the evangelical movement. There is a difference between the people who prefer the 6 p.m. hour of programming at Fox News to those of its cable rivals, and the people who marinate in right-wing misinformation all day long. That latter group, everyone estimated, was still no more than 15 or 20 percent of most church congregations they knew of. The problem is, as [Russell] Moore pointed out, “That vocal minority will always push around a timid majority. The people who care the most usually get what they want.”

It was at that moment I had an epiphany.

I am an evangelical Christian who works at a secular liberal arts college. I am thus personally acquainted with not only this new wing of evangelicals, but also with the woke academy. While the woke movement is incredibly and aggressively vocal on college campuses, it is a minority of the community. There is a very noticeable difference between the generally liberal members of the faculty and student body and the woke activists who capture all the headlines. A good estimate of the size of the latter group is 20 percent.

Looking at the American landscape, we are watching a pair of dueling religious movements consisting of a vocal minority of people using fear of their opponents as a recruitment tool. As John McWhorter documents in Woke Racism, what is happening on college campuses, the rise of what he calls “the Elect,” is not “like” a religion; it actually is a religion. “An anthropologist would see no difference between Pentecostalism and this new form of antiracism.” There is a clergy, an original sin, attempts at evangelism, an apocalyptic narrative, and ostracism of heretics. The stories in Alberta’s book have obvious parallels with this new religion on the Left. Thinking about the evangelical church, David French noted, “If [pastors in evangelical churches] had a just-as-committed twenty percent to push back on [the politicized 15 to 20 percent] the churches would be just fine. But they don’t.” The same thing is true in the academy.

The Right is the Left.

MET ONE IDENTITARIAN…:

He Hunted al-Qaeda. Now He Hunts Neo-Nazis (Feb. 27th, 2024, Free Press)


On a frigid night last February, Iraq combat veteran Kristofer Goldsmith woke to the sound of his dogs barking. He removed a gun from the safe next to his bed and crept downstairs to the kitchen of his home in suburban New York when he noticed movement just outside the glass kitchen door.

He turned to find a man in all-black tactical gear crouched behind a bush, pointing an AR-15 with a suppressor directly at him.

“I didn’t know at that moment if it was a terrorist or a cop,” Goldsmith remembers.

Goldsmith, 38, has made enough enemies that they frequently retaliate. He is the founder of Task Force Butler—an elite team of veterans who use their military expertise to take down neo-Nazi terrorists on American soil. Over the last few years, the Aryan Freedom Network (AFN) has repeatedly posted his home address online as well as photos of his family. Just this month, the FBI contacted him to say an AFN member had made a credible threat to “exterminate” his family.

That night back in February 2023, someone had called the police claiming Goldsmith had murdered his wife, and a cop had staked out his home.

Though Goldsmith managed to defuse the situation, he could have easily ended up wounded or killed. But he says it’s all in a day’s work for a neo-Nazi hunter and former Army sergeant who’s tasted his fair share of danger.

“I have a high threshold for threats,” he says with a slight grin and a shrug.

US immigration: economics vs. politics (Riley Callanan, 2/28/24, GZero)

According to a CBO study, the surge in irregular migrants seen under Joe Biden will lead to 1.7 million more workers in 2024, and will grow the economy by about $7 trillion over the next decade.

One of the reasons the Right is so anti-capitalist is that economic growth attracts immigrants. And immigrants produce more growth.

WHAT MAGA MEANS BY GREAT:

The Story Behind Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ (Liz Fields, 2/24/24, PBS: American Masters)


Abel Meeropol, a son of Russian Jewish immigrants, taught English at Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx for 17 years before turning to music and motion pictures, writing under the pen name Lewis Allan. Meeropol was very disturbed by the persistence of systemic racism in America and was motivated to write the poem “Bitter Fruit” after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of two Black teens in Indiana in 1930. The poem was published in the journal The New York Teacher in 1937, and again later published in the Marxist journal, The New Masses, before Meeropol decided to turn the poem into lyrics and set it to music.

After that, Meeropol began to perform the song at several protest rallies and venues around the city along with his wife and African American singer Laura Duncan. The song first came to Holiday’s attention when she was working at New York’s first integrated nightclub, Café Society in Greenwich Village. Holiday was hesitant at first to sing it because she didn’t want to politicize her performances, and was (rightfully) concerned about being targeted at her performances. But the positive audience responses and frequent requests for “Strange Fruit” soon prompted Holiday to close out every performance with the song. Ahead of time, the waiters would stop serving so there was a deathly silence in the room, then a spotlight would shine on Holiday’s face and she would begin to sing

MORALITY IS THE CONTROL OF EMOTION:

Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Race (ARNOLD KLING, FEB 23, 2024, In My Tribe)

In thinking about The End of Race Politics, a new book by Coleman Hughes, I came up with a description of the race debate using the metaphor of the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. I assign a stance to each of the three symbols.

Rock is individualism. Treat people as individuals, not as members of a race.

Paper is equalitarianism. Treat differences in average outcomes by race as evidence of unfairness.

Scissors is realism. Explain differences in average outcomes by race by appealing to heredity and culture.

In the game, paper covers rock, scissors cuts paper, and rock breaks scissors. Translating from the metaphor, the most compelling argument against individualism is equalitarianism. The most compelling argument against equalitarianism is realism. And the most compelling argument against realism is individualism. […]

The problem with individualism (Rock) is that people intuitively find inequality offensive. If we treat people as individuals, and the resulting outcomes are unequal by race, this will not be acceptable. The unequal outcomes will be viewed as a sign that something is wrong with our society.

The problem with equalitarianism (Paper) is that it requires people to deny, implicitly or explicitly, that average differences by race in inherited or cultural characteristics can be significant. The realists want to confront the equalitarians over this.

The problem with realism (Scissors) is that it uncages the demon of racial stereotyping and prejudice. The individualists will insist that we should pay attention to differences across individuals, not differences across races.

THE BETTER PATH:

The life and martyrdom of Malcolm X (Omar Ahmed, 2/21/24, ME Monitor)

Malcolm’s approach stood in stark contrast to the non-violent civil rights movement led by Dr Martin Luther King, who he once said was spearheading “the only revolution in which the goal is loving your enemy.” For Malcolm X, all revolutions — real revolutions — involved “bloodshed”. It goes without saying that, between the two civil rights leaders, the mainstream establishment favoured King over Malcolm. The former was perceived as more acceptable, whereas the latter was viewed as a formidable threat; someone to be feared. Nevertheless, irrespective of their methods, both were assassinated, with credible suspicions pointing towards state involvement.

In 1964, Malcolm announced his split from the NOI, after some internal disputes and scandals involving Elijah Muhammad, before undertaking a tour of the Middle East, Africa and Europe, visiting many Muslim countries in the process. He performed the Islamic pilgrimage, the Hajj, to the holy city of Makkah. Thereafter he was called El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

The unifying experience of the Hajj saw his beliefs change yet again upon joining the mainstream of the Islamic faith. He witnessed “pilgrims of all colours from all parts of this earth displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood like I’ve never seen before.” His departure from the NOI also split the organisation, with many following El-Shabazz into mainstream Islam, including none other than Elijah Muhammad’s son, Warith Deen Mohammed. The most famous African-American Muslim, if not one of the most famous people of the modern age, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, severed ties with El-Shabazz while still a member of the NOI, a decision Ali later came to regret when he too entered mainstream Islam, without the opportunity for reconciliation.

While on his travels it also became clear that Malcolm moderated some of his views and beliefs, including the segregation of blacks and whites in the US and Black Nationalism. Instead, he embraced internationalism.

THANKS, MR. STEELE:

Man accused of lying to FBI about Hunter Biden claimed he got fake information from Russian intelligence (Robert Legare, February 20, 2024, CBS News)

The man accused last week of delivering false allegations to federal investigators about Hunter Biden and President Biden’s business dealings told officials after his arrest that individuals “associated with Russian intelligence” were tied to apparent efforts to peddle a story about the first son, federal prosecutors revealed in a court filing Tuesday.

WHERE’S SHERMAN WHEN WE NEED HIM:

Donald Trump and the Lost Cause (Angie Maxwell, March 30, 2016, VQR)

Southern whiteness is not just about race. Yes, that is how it started. But as Southern whites faced the changing twentieth century, they became the “other” or foil to American identity. Each time the criticism poured in, they defined themselves in opposition to a growing pantheon of enemies. Southern whiteness expands beyond racial identity and supremacy, encapsulating rigid stances on religion, education, the role of government, the view of art, an opposition to science and expertise and immigrants and feminism, and any other topic that comes under attack. This ideological web of inseparable strands envelops a community and covers everything, and it is easily (and intentionally by Donald Trump) snagged.

The key environmental conditions (if we learn from Adler’s pattern again) that made it more likely, in the wake of such criticism, for an individual to develop an inferiority complex were poverty, lack of education, and authoritarian religion. The Southern white triptych or trap. For those of us who were born here or have spent our lives in the South, other than the sheer distinctive levels of violence, the trap remains the most painful dynamic to witness. The need to maintain white supremacy and patriarchy at all costs has, indeed, cost us almost everything. The price to maintain segregation, both legal and cultural, is limited access to and the denouncement of education. The price to maintain white economic power is the proliferation of pay-day lenders and right-to-work laws and the vilification of the “undeserving” on welfare and food stamps. The price to maintain male authority is the failure of almost all Southern states to ratify women’s suffrage in the 1920s (though they did so symbolically decades later, including Mississippi finally in 1984) or the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and 1980s (renewed efforts failed in both Virginia and Arkansas just last year) and the wholesale demonization of feminism. The price to maintain fundamentalist Christian values includes the banning of textbooks, the denigration of non-Christians and of science in general. The price is so high that Southern states rank forty-eighth and forty-ninth and fiftieth time and again on almost every measure that matters to quality of life. And those rankings serve as alarms as well, and the whole thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, an inescapable trap laid by the very folks it ensnares.

So public criticism for many white Southerners is constant and damaging and creates a defensive and extreme response that only causes more damage. In-migration to the South has diluted this community, but for many whites who self-identify as Southern, the inferiority complex is alive and well. We know from our own academic polling that whites who claim a Southern identity score significantly higher than those who do not on scales measuring racism, sexism, and fundamentalism. Whites who claim a Southern identity prove to be more decisive on public-policy issues, with significantly fewer respondents choosing a neutral or independent stance on health-care reform or gay marriage or abortion or affirmative action. In his letter to Life magazine in 1956, William Faulkner warned of this Southern white penchant for polarization. In the battle over integration, Faulkner questioned, “Where will we go, if the middle becomes untenable? If we have to vacate it in order to keep from being trampled?” They run to the right.

So George Wallace’s mantra of “You’re either for it or you’re against it” vibrates on a frequency that white Southerners recognize. It’s a team rally cry, sport-like with signs and tailgates. Even the pushed-up primary in the South was given a sports-conference moniker—SEC. Trump is the brashy, defiant, absolutist celebrity coach. The more he and his supporters are criticized, the more entrenched they become. And his fans want nothing less than a national championship.

They, of course, are not the only Americans who hear that dog whistle. Perhaps there is something to the “southernization of America” described by both Peter Applebome and John Egerton several years ago. NASCAR and country music and the spread of the Southern Baptist denomination across the country follow the American defeat of its own war in Vietnam. Whatever the reason, politicians learned over the last four decades that it is acceptable, even welcomed, to blow the dog whistles of racism and sexism and fundamentalism harder and louder in the South, and when they do the sound reverberates throughout the country. For white Southerners, the sounds are hard to distinguish; the battle for whiteness and patriarchy and church over state are compounded so fully that few can untie the knots in their own hearts and minds.

But outside of the region, in the other states that Trump has won—Illinois and Michigan and Nevada and New Hampshire—he need only strike one of these chords among voters. Maybe immigration is fueling nativism in one community, maybe the legalization of gay marriage has deeply upset another. Maybe some don’t want a female president. After all, white Southerners aren’t the only people who feel down and out or who feel discriminated against, which is clear in the simultaneous, yet separate, national rise of men’s rights movements (mostly notably in the online “Manosphere”), EEOC claims of reverse discrimination, and the belief (among 56 percent of Republicans) in a “war on Christmas.” Trump’s Southern strategy turns out to be less about geography and more about identity. And many want to go back to an America in which people like them run the show.

MAGA is just Identitarianism for white men. The Right is theb Left.

YOLO HOUR IS OVER:

Violent crime is dropping fast in the U.S. — even if Americans don’t believe it (Karen Zamora, Ari Shapiro, Courtney Dorning, 2/12/24, NPR)

“At some point in 2022 — at the end of 2022 or through 2023 — there was just a tipping point where violence started to fall and it just continued to fall,” said Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics.

In cities big and small, from both coasts, violence has dropped.

“The national picture shows that murder is falling. We have data from over 200 cities showing a 12.2% decline … in 2023 relative to 2022,” Asher said, citing his own analysis of public data. He found instances of rape, robbery and aggravated assault were all down too.

It’s just back to racial hysteria now.