Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Thomas Jefferson and the Grievance Mongers




                      
                  From the Monticello official website


Grievance = by definition: a feeling of having been treated unfairly; a reason for complaining or being unhappy with a situation; a statement in which you say you are unhappy or not satisfied with something.

We are amuck in the age of grievances, grievances of gargantuan proportions that cut vast swaths across times, places and peoples, grievances of tiny magnitude, registered these days under the heading, “micro-aggressions. The grievance mongers lie in ambush everywhere.  Grievances multiply to open up coveted space in today’s “Pantheon of Victimhood”.  Installation in the Pantheon as a certified victim means you get to wear a permanent moral halo and remain immune from criticism of any sort. You possess the “superior virtue of the oppressed”, as the philosopher Bertrand Russell put it.  New York Times columnist David Brooks recently concluded his review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book, Between the World and Me, an anti-white diatribe by an angry black man by asking himself if he, “as a white man has the moral standing to question any part of it?” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/white-america-dons-the-shroud-of-guilt/article25971483/). The answer to this absurd question is painfully obvious: David, quit writing reviews or anything else. Join a monastery. Devote yourself to good works for the poor.  Of course, you have no “moral standing”. Not because you are a white man, but because you have completely surrendered whatever slim capacity you once may have had to grasp basic facts, reason and think straight. This is the same David Brooks, by the way, who after interviewing then Presidential candidate, Barack Obama back in those halcyon days of “Hope and Change” wrote: “I remember distinctly an image of–we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant … and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” (http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/31/the-obligatory-david-brooks-really-impressed-with-obamas-pants-post/) And I’m thinking, (a) do we ever want to hear from this New York Times deep thinker again and (b) if we did, why would we take him seriously?

White guilt, like that displayed by groveling idiot-intellectuals like Brooks, gives an enormous boost of legitimacy to the blustering maestros in the thriving grievance industry, experts in the practice of the art of moral blackmail. (See my blog, The Left: Masters of Extortion)
(http://fosterspeak.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-left-masters-of-extortion.html) These guys you provoke at your own peril! They are “professionals” fermenting in the juices of resentment, always in a permanent high dudgeon, always wanting to remind you of how insensitive you are. They are the self-selected representatives of the burgeoning legions of the righteously aggrieved. They give “voice” to their feelings of being treated unfairly and their unhappiness with the raw deals that are the standard fare in America for anyone who is not a white male. They now maintain vast inventories of “micro-aggressions”, invent new ones, and make lots of demands, non-negotiable ones. 

Consider the ruminations of Desiree H. Melton, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame of Maryland University specializing in critical race theory and feminist philosophy, a fully credentialed grievance professional. She does not disappoint.

 A recent tour of Monticello aroused her critical race theory ire which then led to the appearance of “Monticello’s Whitewashed Version of History” in the Washington Post listed as an opinion piece. That the Washington Post would publish such a mindless piece of bilious, self-righteous posturing masquerading as serious thinking is evidence that for our intellectually elite gatekeepers of opinion white guilt trumps any standard of dispassionate reflection and critical insight that might be applied to the “conversations on race” they keep insisting that we have.  No connection with reality is required (David Brooks, case in point).  Equally depressing is that Ms. Melton gets paid to transmit her tendentious, resentment-laden drivel to young college students.   

For Ms. Melton, the Monticello tour was painful from the beginning as she complains that the other, “mostly white folks” on the tour were insufficiently somber. To my surprise, I was not saddened by the experience. I did, however, get angry. I was angry at the utter lack of reverence and solemnity.  Anger for grievance mongers is always the first reflex. You see, the critical race theorists of the world, like Ms. Melton, cannot comprehend why everyone else around them does not vibrate as they do with the same exquisite sense of moral outrage that comes from ruminating every waking moment on how awful it is to be a black person in America.  Reverence and solemnity among its white visitors were missing from Monticello because it did not demand it of them.” It is not clear that there is an “it” behind Monticello that can make these sorts of “demands”. Aren’t reverence and solemnity supposed to come from within? Perhaps the tour guides at Monticello are supposed to replicate the sessions of quivering, angry, uncensored, unmasking of America’s fake, whitewashed heroes that the students in her in her 101 classes at Notre Dame are subjected to. No pedestal can remain occupied. ”Why,” she asks, “does Monticello allow visitors to tour the house and then skip over its related slave sites? Why? – well, maybe because visitors to historic sites might have their own priorities, interests and perspectives that don’t quite match up with those of the angry professor.  Maybe it is because the visitors to Monticello are not (yet) political prisoners to be perp walked through the grounds, reeducated and forced to confess (Chinese, Cultural Revolution style) that American history is nothing other than the ugly story of racism and the subjugation and exploitation of black people. 

Ms. Melton’s is in a great wrath over Monticello’s supposed whitewashing of Jefferson’s slaver ownership. Did she even bother to look at the official Monticello website which gives ample considerable attention to the many aspects of slavery at Monticello? (http://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery) Included are a number of online exhibitions such as: Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello; Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty; Getting Word: African American Families of Monticello  Also, on the website there were a number of articles relating to the reality of slavery at Monticello, Jefferson and Slavery and Jefferson and Sally Hemings.  What is lacking? Reality, it seems, makes no impression on this professor-visitor. She seems determined to enjoy her anger and bitterness.  Grievance professionals are about grievances – facts do not matter.

The problem Ms. Melton opines is that white people just don’t want to face the truth. “If white people cannot accept the awful truth that one of the nation’s cherished founders held people as property, and that slavery was indeed horrific, why would they acknowledge the covert ways in which blacks are still oppressed?
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This is clearly a trick, “if-then” question. Let’s respond by turning it back around with a different “if-then” question. So:  IF black critical race theory professors are unable to grasp some simple obvious facts (a) that it makes absolutely no sense to talk about what truths white people as a single, collective race accept or do not accept because there are none, (b) that most white people do know and accept the fact that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, (c) that most white people as well as all other people would strongly aver that slavery is horrific (d) that the ancestors of many white Americans today, those particularly in the immigrant waves of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – Italians, Greeks, Jews from the Russian pale, etc. – had nothing to do with American slavery, many of whom were serfs and peons back where they came from, (e) that slave trading and ownership were not solely practiced by white people, (f) that white Christian abolitionists in England and America were primarily responsible for ending slavery in the western world,  THEN should critical race theorists, like Ms. Melton attempt to acquire a basic grasp of logic and critical thinking, study more history, work at becoming a little less censorious and self-righteous or perhaps, just find a more productive line of work?   

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why the Left Hates Guns

                                                             Image result for cold dead fingers




“President Obama says the biggest frustration of his tenure is the lack of new gun control laws.”
                              USA Today, July 24th, 2015

Unlike most of the President Obama’s declarations – “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”, for example – this one, above, is true.  You can believe him for once. Obama does not like guns and if it were in his power he would confiscate every firearm in the country down to the last BB gun, except for those carried by the Secret Service detail that protects him and his family.

Obama is a man of the left and the left hates guns more than almost anything else they remotely associate with the despised right, more than gas guzzlers, home school families, coal companies, confederate flags or pro-life protestors. Just the mention of the NRA will trigger spasms of fury and outpourings of disgust from a leftist. The NRA for them is evil incarnate. No other organization is likely more detested.

What is it about guns that make people on the left hate them so much and harbor so much contempt for those people – not so much the criminals who use them, but the ordinary, law-abiding people who insist on owning them?

Begin with the basics:  a gun is an amazing instrument of power. A ninety pound woman physically confronted by a two hundred pound man with a BMI of 25 has little power to resist his assault or aggression.  A gun in her hand completely changes the power equation.  Sans gun by virtue of his superior size and relative strength, the man can seriously injure or even kill the woman.  It happens. With the gun she can easily kill him if he attempts to harm her. This does not happen often enough. The right person in this scenario takes the ride to the morgue. His advantage-conveying, extra 110 pounds and bigger bones and muscles are nullified by the discharge from her 25 ounce Ruger.

Guns enforce power-relations which is why police and soldiers carry them. Guns also can change power-relations which is why so many people want them both for reasons legitimate and some not so much.

The left would love to confiscate all the guns in this country believing that it would end gun violence. This is a pipe dream. Criminalize the possession of something in high demand and relatively easy to produce and you will see a dramatic spike in its price because of the seller’s criminal risk. High prices attract high-risk entrepreneurs (aggressive young men usually) into the marketplace who form powerful, sophisticated crime syndicates that are (a) very competitive and hence extremely violent and (b) cater successfully to vast markets for their illegal product. The massive infusion of drugs into the U.S. with the accompanying violence dramatically illustrates how the unintended consequences of firearm confiscation, if attempted, would unfold.  Government confiscation of guns would drastically increase (criminalized) gun ownership and vastly increase gun violence, not to mention the exhaustion of law enforcement resources and the complete political alienation of large numbers of American citizens. 

The loathing of the left for guns in part comes from their jealousy of power. Guns are highly-charged symbols as well as practical instruments of power, and power, they believe, belongs exclusively to them. This is not just about what guns can do.  It is about what they symbolize – individualism, independence and self-sufficiency – for the collectivist, regulation-loving, control-obsessed left, anathemas.  

The thinking on the left goes something like this: because we are compassionate, smart, right-thinking and destined by the progressive march of history to eradicate – pick your evil – racism, sexism, homophobia, imperialism, global warming, we and we alone deserve power.  If not us, who?  And, whatever we must do to get it and keep it is fine because above all else we are well-intentioned and virtuous and if we are not in charge, then it’s, well, “the other”, the corrupt and morally benighted people who oppose us  – racist, bigoted, greedy, stupid, indifferent to the plight of the poor and unfortunate.  Leftists neither practice nor believe in loyal opposition: for the opposition they have only contempt.

Gun ownership confers power and thus just the suggestion that people might legitimately arm themselves constitutes an encroachment on the left’s perceived prerogative and arouses their jealousy and outrage.  People, they groan, do not neeeeeed guns! They know what people need and don’t need and are clearly annoyed that the unenlightened rubes who live outside of the civilized regions of Manhattan, San Francisco, Washington, DC and Madison, Wisconsin cannot grasp this obvious truth.  

Self-defense, they sneeringly dismiss as a legitimate reason to own a gun – that is what the State is for.  Try not to choke on the hypocrisy.  They are protected 24x7 by armed secret service personnel (Obama and his family) or live in safe, posh suburbs with expensive, sophisticated security systems and reliable, predicable police protection. But for those “folks” for whom they have so much compassion and about whom they know so little, those folks who have to worry about the muggers, rapists, wife-batterers, drug peddlers and strung out junkies who populate their neighborhoods? Well, they are supposed to cherish how virtuous they will feel without those awful guns they don’t need and hope a cop might show up before someone in the family gets raped or murdered. We all know that there are large sections of some of the cities in the U.S. (governed by anti-gun Democrat politicians) where the police reluctantly go. The State is quite selective in the protection it provides for its citizens. The “State” for the “ruled-over” is a useless abstraction and the pervasive cynicism and skepticism now aimed at those who operate it are completely justified.  These “public servants” enjoy all of the perks of their offices that the rest of us only envy. (“Last Friday, [Hillary] Clinton flew to Bergdorf Goodman in New York, where the stylist at the salon gives $600 haircuts. The department store was locked down for her.” http://thehill.com/opinion/ab-stoddard/249734-ab-stoddard-clinton-must-be-joking) Our political class betters make onerous rules for their inferiors to live under, but not for themselves. At election time these vultures descend from their comfortable, lofty perches to perform tedious rituals of pretending to care when what they really want is just more power and the advantages and privileges that come with it.

The animosity of the left for guns is also about the special kind of snobbery they indulge that relates to the work they do and the way they live. They tend to work in the realm of ideas and at activities intended to influence the thinking and actions of others.  They teach in schools and universities, run media outlets and newspapers, manage and administer organizations, market and sell products, process paper in government offices. Some of them are “grievance specialists” at universities and other organizations, professional busybodies and scolds who operate under the rubric of “diversity”, a code word that permits them to hector and bully whomever they please. These types don’t change the oil in their own cars, fix things they own when they break down, make or grow anything they use or consume.  They pay “other people” to do things like this, and they mostly look down on them.  These “other people” tend to like guns. They live and think conservatively and work at jobs such as policemen, firemen, mechanics, truck drivers, construction workers and run small businesses. They hunt, fish, bowl, fix their own cars, go to church, take care of their grandparents, join the military and do many other things that offend the sensibilities of the left.  For the Prius-driving, inequality-obsessed Sociology professor who campaigned for Obama, the gun-toting policeman he loathes and execrates in his 101 classes could not respond quickly enough to his summons when he thinks a burglar might be near.    

The left will never relinquish their hostility toward gun owners and never abandon their efforts at gun control.  “Gun control” is a euphemism, an essential piece of the larger picture that defines the essence of the left and what they aspire to, complete control of others. Because they believe themselves to be uniquely entitled to order and manage the lives of everybody, they observe no restraints of honesty or fair play. Be assured, they will relentlessly intrude themselves into every corner of our lives so as to make the rest of us into what they think we should be, pale, inferior imitations of themselves.  Guns are a huge obstacle to this goal. Viva the cold dead fingers!