Friday, February 8, 2019

“Racism” – It's Time to Repudiate the Guilt

Does any sane person who pays the slightest attention to the talking heads from the television (MSNBC) and cable networks (CNN), or the news and opinion writers for the New York Times or the Washington Post believe that racism is ever going to lessen anywhere in the western world? Only a fool would bet on that particular outcome. Why? In a word: “Racism” is the gift that keeps on giving.

How did this come about?  Racism” in the 1950s was a term then with a much more precise, recognizable meaning than it has today. It was largely limited in its circulation to liberal intellectuals and academics who studied the history of slavery and contemplated racial segregation in post-WWII America. Jim Crow was in place then with segregated schools, public facilities and businesses, double standards of expectations and accountability for blacks and whites, all premised on a widespread white perception that blacks were … well, generally, less capable, less reliable, less intelligent than whites. The segregation was well entrenched (de jure in the south; de facto in the north) and blacks in America were significantly poorer, less healthy, less educated than whites as well as feeling the daily sting of the indignities, along with suffering the hostilities, mistreatment and condescension of whites.

By coincidence, the American conquerors about this time were just finishing their occupation of defeated Germany, the occupation prolonged for years because the Americans felt they needed to remain as long as it took to make sure that the German people were completely free of this nasty “superior race” nonsense they had imbibed from the Charlie Chaplain mustachioed Austrian corporal and his henchmen who had brought most of Europe to ruins. Which proved finally to be a bit embarrassing for Americans, at least for those who recalled that their soldier boys, who were sent far across the ocean to dispose of the racist Hitler and stay and teach the Die Herren und Frauen to love democracy and recite Thomas Jefferson’s “self-evident” truth, “that all men are created equal,” came over in racially segregated units. President Truman’s desegregation order for the Armed Services didn’t come until 1948. Black American soldiers fighting oversees for equality came home to segregated public facilities, lunch counters and schools.

It was judged past time for a correction in these matters, and so it would be. Beginning in the 1950s, the dismantling of segregation and the criminalization of racial discrimination was launched. With the landmark “Brown versus the Board of Education” the Federal government forcibly desegregated the public schools. By the 1960s the conscience of white America was convicted of its racial iniquities. The correction was soon at top speed with the civil rights movement leading the way, and the rest, as they say, is history. In the five decades that followed the equalizing of black and white America became “mission central” with the legislatures creating and the courts enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the areas of housing, employment, government contracting and education, including the forced bussing of school children. Massive federal aid flowed to the heavily black-populated cities like Detroit, burned down by black rioters in the middle-late 1960s. Affirmative Action and EEOC, came into being with strict compliance requirements for universities and employers to make room for members of “underrepresented” groups. Across the country schools and universities focused their pedagogy on the evils of racism, the history of slavery and segregation and the moral imperative of “equality.” Blacks moved into prominent positions in every region of American culture and life, including the American presidency, Secretary of State, Attorney General and the U.S. Supreme Court. Utterance of the “n-word” for whites became a career-killer and a ticket to social ostracism.  An entire new industry, the “diversity” industry, came into being, its employees moving into business, education and government, tasked to promote the interests and guard the feelings of officially designated victims of discrimination, and to subject the would be discriminators to programs of reeducation where they learned about “white privilege,” microaggressions and how to “celebrate diversity.”

By 2009 with Jim Crow long dead and the jubilant inauguration of America’s first black President, elected in a still majority-white country, one might be tempted to think that the “racism” that marked racially segregated America in the 1950s had been vanquished or at least diminished enough to make everyone optimistic about the future of race-relations.  Wrong!  In the last year of his Presidency (2015) Barack Obama in an interview made the following observation:

Obama: “What is also true is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives — you know, that casts a long shadow. And that's still part of our DNA that's passed on. We're not cured of it.”
Interviewer: “Racism”
Obama: “Racism. We’re not cured of it.”

What then were we to make of this “DNA” metaphor? Unfortunately, few, if any of the cognoscenti who constantly lecture Americans 24x7 on the ubiquity of “racism” and daily pounce on yet another politician or celebrity who breaks the strict rules of “Diversity-Speak,” bothered to decode the President’s remarks so that the average American might get a sense of what he was in for. They can be boiled down to: “Racism has always been the defining feature of American life and will be far into the future.” What then, we might wonder, is the “cure,” and who gets to say that it has been successful and the patient is whole and released from treatment?     

These questions expose the disingenuousness typical of Obama on the subject of race. The “our DNA” is white DNA, and the “racism” that “we’re not cured of” is “white racism” – there is no other kind in today’s America that will be countenanced. Obama chose the wrong metaphor.  His view of race is better expressed in theological terms. “Racism” is America’s “original sin.” It was, and still is, committed exclusively by white people, and no matter what metaphor you care to use, consider it a permanent fixture of American society. “We shall overcome someday.” But, sorry Pal, not today. With sin comes guilt, and white America now finds itself confronted with guilt, virtually unlimited guilt.

Guilt that comes in unlimited quantities can be a very valuable commodity for the right sort of “entrepreneurs” who know how to make it pay out in long term dividends, particularly when those dividends are of, shall we say, a material kind. Guilt makes most people feel really bad, remain highly vulnerable and willing to do things of an extreme nature to be free of it, things that may have little to do with the source of the guilt and may be highly detrimental to their self-interest and well being.

Guilt, in effect, can open the door to a form of extortion, moral extortion, if you will. When you feel guilty because you believe that you have done something harmful to someone, the person you have harmed has a moral advantage over you, so to speak. That person is the innocent party; you are the guilty party. You are in his debt. You owe him … something.  It may be an apology, change of behavior or attitude, or maybe compensation.  Relieving the guilt becomes a moral transaction and both parties (the injurer and the injured) have a responsibility to act in good faith and bring the transaction to a conclusion.    

Ah, yes, “the conclusion” and here is the rub. Atonement is the performance side of guilt – giving what you owe to the innocent party, doing what you need to do to atone for the wrong. The corollary of unlimited guilt is unlimited atonement (no conclusion), and when what you “owe” becomes unlimited the person you “owe” is no longer innocent, and you are no longer a free, accountable person making moral-spiritual restitution. You are a pawn being manipulated, being used to someone else’s advantage. Good faith has given way to exploitation. From being the sinner, you are now the sinned-against.

Unlimited guilt is what makes Obama’s “racism” a tool of moral extortion. An extortionist never says, OK, your debt is paid; your obligation is fulfilled. No, the blackmailer always comes back for more and ups the ante. “Not enough; I need more – until you are cured. I’ll let you know when that happens. Trust me.” “Racism,” however, never, ever, diminishes. Rather it becomes ever more insidious, protean, if you will, with forms and manifestations, heretofore unheard of – “systemic racism,” “economic racism,” “environmental racism,” “institutional racism,” the inventory expands almost daily. Moreover, “racism has provided the “ism” template (“sexism,” “ableism,” “homophobia,” “Islamophobia,” “transphobia”) for the rapid expansion of the diversity industry, with other large groups of the suitably injured and aggrieved, recruited to leverage new categories of guilt and make them pay dividends. 

How does the “racism” create the moral leverage that makes the extortion work so effectively?  First, it opens up a vast moral distance between the accuser and the accused. When someone denounces someone else as a “racist,” this act publicly affirms both, the accuser’s moral superiority, and the moral degeneracy of the accused. Since racism is the very worst of human pathologies, deeply embedded in the personality, the accuser by virtue of both recognizing and confronting this evil individual, gives confirmation of a moral superiority and rectitude of the highest order.  And, since the targets of racist are members of oppressed and exploited groups, the accuser’s virtue shines even brighter since he is speaking truth-to-power, he becomes a beacon of moral courage, taking a stand against bigotry and hatred. 

There is another kind of leverage that makes the extortionist demand virtually invincible. With “racism” being in one’s “DNA,” as Obama put it, the guilt is indisputable and inextinguishable. Remember, “we’re not cured of it.” No white person has ever convinced his accuser that he is not a “racist” and never will. Apologizing (Please, I am not a racist) or indignantly denying it simply ups the extortionist leverage of the term while the accused squirms like a worm on a hook. It’s a Catch 22. Once “racism’ is entrenched (“in our DNA,” “not cured”), game, set, match. This, of course, gives a lie to the rhetoric of “healing,” “reconciliation” and ultimately to “forgiveness,” cover-language used to soften and disguise the coercion and give the extortion a patina of moral legitimacy. But the accuser has no interest in reconciliation or incentive to forgive. With reconciliation, the “gift” would have to stop giving. Diversity professionals would have to find another source of employment.  Al Sharpton would not longer be called, Reverend, ” and would likely be in prison.

A turning point in American history was the 2016 Presidential election when the obsession with “racism” was raised to a level of collective hysteria with Donald Trump routinely characterized by the entire main stream media and the opposition party as another Adolf Hitler, a 21st-century, pogrom-planning fascist, broadly supported by voters (62 million people) motivated entirely by racial prejudice and hatred. The most memorable and appalling moment of the contest was Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” denunciation of Trump supporters as “racists, sexists … you name it.”

With the improbable outcome of the election the hysteria has only increased, the most recent manifestation of its ferocity the unhinged outpouring of hatred from social media sources and the hostile and dishonest coverage of the national media of an incident involving a group of white, Catholic high school boys from Covington, Kentucky (Boyd Cathey) who encountered a native American protestor in Washington D.C. The smile of one of the students, Nick Sandman, captured in a now famous photograph, was twisted by the virtue signalers into a disrespectful smirk, a kind of  racist dog-whistle, a symbol of white privilege, all the standard tropes of today’s emboldened character assassins. Reigned down upon Sandman and his fellow students was a torrent of condemnations of in the thousands via social media that included death threats, demands to publish names and addresses, appeals to have them expelled from their school, rejected from universities, and encouragement to kill them and their families. All of this from Social Justice Warriors who decry the “hatred” of Trump supporters.

So, in contemplating this grim state of affairs, we need to ask now: to where has this 60-year battle against “racism” taken us? Sadly, it has taken us to a point where it should be clear that “racism,” now saturating the commentary on every facet of American experience, is not a word that describes the behavior or personality of any particular individual.  “Racism” does not depict any state of reality. It is merely a word of condemnation to complete a ritualized chant. “You are a racist” is a performative act in an excommunication ceremony (an expulsion ritual) whereby decent, normal individuals are pronounced to be moral lepers, unfit for civilized society and cast into the darkness. Recall the conclusion of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” slur, “they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.” This expulsion ritual is now frequently and routinely conducted by a vast network of moral police who occupy positions in government, the media, education and entertainment. They target white Americans who look back and wonder why the massive, decades-long efforts of atonement for racism have only intensified black resentment and hostility, why Black Lives Matter thugs are allowed to rampage and tear down historical monuments, why blacks are still burning down the cities, why millionaire, celebrity black athletes scorn the national anthem. These targets recognize that the “racism in our DNA” is the veiled language of the extortionists who use guilt as an instrument of intimidation, domination and revenge.  The guilt must be repudiated. Whites who succumb to the accusation of “racism” are embracing a future of their own destruction.     



Friday, February 1, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does Trofim Lysensko

Lone Ranger: Hmm.... We’re surrounded by hostile Sioux Indians. Looks like we are done for, Tonto.

 Tonto:  Wadya mean, “we,” Kimosabe?

From: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. House of Representatives

To Microsoft, Google, Facebook Execs.

Dear Mr. Nadella, Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Pichai:
We are writing to you today in light of the important role that your companies play as we prepare to take comprehensive action on climate change…we were deeply disappointed to see that your companies were high-level sponsors of a conference this month in Washington D.C., known as LibertyCon, that included a session denying established science on climate change.

So, you think that a grammatical subject-matter like the rhetorical function of personal pronouns is the high end of boring and inconsequential. Well, think again, as we follow the trail of the “we” in Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s dispatch to three of the biggest Mr. Bigs in the information-tech industry.

We are writing to you ….  as we prepare to take comprehensive action …. [and] we were deeply disappointed to see that your companies…” etc.  Note the ominous direction: from “we’re just communicating with you, to we’re about to do something very important, to we’re real disappointed because it looks like you are standing in our way by supporting a bunch of reactionaries we don’t like.” Sounds pretty threatening to me, and from someone sitting in the U.S. Congress. Just who is this “we” rapping the knuckles of a Big Enchilada like Zuckerberg? Well, it’s the latest social media sensation, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who in good Commissar fashion is wielding the “moral-we,” now one of the virtue-signaling Boss-ladies in the Capital city who knows what is best for us all. It is also an up-and-coming “we” of momentum and power, a bold “we” that takes “comprehensive action” and lets the bigshots who throw their money around know that they’ve been a big disappointment.

Obama some time back set the bar very high for the effective use of the “moral-we.” From the Obama’s 2008 campaign: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Ignoring the disturbing pathological elements in this concoction, if you were hoping for some semblance of genuine humility in this young generation of “leaders,” and if arrogance, unbounded self-regard and immaturity put you off, these know-it-all “we’s” who seem to be running the show are just getting started. There will be many more suspects to fuel their deep disappointment, and they will make life miserable for anyone who fails to recognize their superior virtue and doesn’t snap to.  As Bob Dylan once sang: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

So, we stagger bewilderedly into increasingly muddled times where, for example, the ruling Triumvirate of the tech-media world will likely go wobbly to learn that they had “deeply disappointed” a twenty-nine year old Puerto Rican ex-waitress with a few weeks of seniority in the U.S. House of Representatives and a round of talk show appearances where she recently said she said she gives “zero fucks” about criticism she’s received from members of her own party. This is now how one is supposed to speak “truth to power.”

It’s beyond distressing to see someone like this taken seriously, and the works of Karl Marx, of all people, might be taped to provide some insight into this mess. Surveying his own tumultuous times, he wrote, history repeats itself, “the first as tragedy, then as farce.” This apothegm was from his essay, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. Tragedy reappears throughout the course of history as farce. The farce that Marx was contemplating was the French coup of 1851 by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, a repeat of the seizure of power by his uncle, Napoléon Bonaparte in 1799 and the tragic consequences of his despotism.

Fast forward to the present, if you will, and attempt to comprehend the unfolding of the latest tragedy-as-farce in the person of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.  An instant celebrity and the darling and future of the Democrat party, it seems, she has stepped into a starring role on the political stage as the Queen of Farce. From News Week: “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat from New York, called climate change “our World War II” and warned that the world will end in 12 years if we don’t address global warming on Monday [January 21, 2119]. During an interview Monday at the MLK Now event at Riverside Church in New York with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ocasio-Cortez argued that global warming needs to be addressed immediately to avoid the end of human existence.” 

Note, of course, the predictable scolding “if we don’t address climate change...” But this is a different “we” at work than the moral-we in her memo citied above. This is a fake one overloaded with apocalyptic hyperbole, adolescent bombast and wild hallucinations. You see, she sees herself in charge now, rescuing the world, only twelve years away from oblivion, calling the shots – the Commander in “our World War II.” And the “we” in this outpouring of mental incontinence is actually “us,” those of us who she wants to salute her, take orders, bear the cost, conform to the mountains of rules, regulations and dictates that she wants to cascade down upon us, and suffer the horrific unintended consequences that follow from the whims, fantasies and dictates of an ignoramus who has suddenly found herself with lots of power and showered with attention.

Ocasio-Cortez has with much encouragement risen quickly to become our very own Trofim Lysenko, an ambitious charlatan who led the wreckage of biological science in the Soviet Union along with the ruined lives of many distinguished scientists. Lysenko was a quack agronomist whose theory of environmentally acquired inheritance was, by the man who ran the USSR, eagerly turned into the “established science” that would be career-ending, not to mention physically hazardous, for those in the biological sciences to “deny.” “He [Lyskenko] had no postgraduate  training or higher degree, no formal claim to the title of scientist, yet he aspired to the theoretical heights from which, as he told a Pravda correspondent in 1927, practical problems could be solved by a few calculations ‘on a little old scrap of paper.’” (David Jorasky, The Lysenko Affair, University of Chicago Press, 1970, 189)  

Lysenko’s astounding success was due to his skill in bending his “scientific research” into findings that greatly pleased Stalin, whose authority in all matters of importance – art, history, music, philosophy, sociology, economics and, yes, science, was supreme and unquestionable. The science of genetics that the ignorant Lysenko overturned pointed its researchers toward conclusions that were, unfortunately for the geneticists, incompatible with Stalin’s insights into how any part of the world (social or physical) actually worked. Marx had laid the theoretical groundwork for it all: Stalin fleshed out the details and perfected its applications. Pointing out flaws in any of it, shall we say, was not a prudent decision. The real scientists who noted Lysenko’s deficiencies were also casting shadows over Stalin’s jealously guarded shield of infallibility and were dispatched to the work camps. Lysenko, with Stalin’s imprimatur, shutdown scientific debate and research in much of the life sciences, including genetics, wrecked Soviet agriculture, and put biology in the Soviet Union into a thirty-year deep freeze.

Like Lysenko, Ocasio-Cortez is a science-ignoramus (more on that below) who uses her political leverage, as we see with her memo cited above, to control what scientists get to talk about and to demonize critics. Hence the label “climate change deniers” which is intended to carry the same de-legitimizing stigmatism as “Holocaust-deniers.” “Deniers” are moral-lepers who in Stalin’s reign got shot or sent to the Gulag. In the soft-totalitarianism that now envelops us, “deniers” are shut-out of the conversations and the institutions, their careers destroyed and characters assassinated. Thus, we see Ocasio-Cortez putting the “deniers” in her cross-hairs.  “[W]e were deeply disappointed to see that your companies were high-level sponsors of a conference … that included a session denying established science on climate change.” Representative Ocasio-Cortez, like Lysenko and the CPSU bosses in earlier times, thinks she should decide who the real scientists are.

It seems to me that the obvious question Messrs Nadella, Zuckerberg and Pichai, the subjects of Ocasio-Cortez’s disappointment, should be asking themselves is: does this woman have the remotest understanding of what the “established science of climate change” is? And, does “established science” ever change? And, finally, is there some good reason she should be dictating the sponsorships of science conventions in any case? The answer to the first question is not a secret. Her formal education consists of a BA degree in economics and international relations from Boston University.  From Wikipedia here is her post-college professional experience:

After college, Ocasio-Cortez worked as a bartender in Manhattan and as a waitress in a taqueria. Her mother, meanwhile, cleaned houses and drove school buses. She launched Brook Avenue Press, a publishing firm for books that portray the Bronx in a positive light. She worked as lead educational strategist at GAGEis, Inc; for the nonprofit National Hispanic Institute (NHI), and served as NHI's Educational Director of the 2017 Northeast Collegiate World Series, a five-day long program targeted at college-bound high school students from across the United States and other countries, where she participated in a panel on Latino leadership.

It is safe to say that her knowledge and theoretical expertise in the area of “climate science” would likely rival her mastery of cardiology, cartography or civil engineering.  Would anyone trust her to design a bridge, construct a map, or read an EKG?  Given what we have seen from her so far, self-promotion seems to be her singular talent, and she shouldn’t be trusted to do much of anything. Here, sadly then is Lysenkoism, twenty-first century style, featuring a blustering, know-nothing egomaniac, threatening the end of the world, like some street-corner crackpot, demanding control over the agendas of scientific gatherings and threatening business executives. This is as about a nightmarish display of arrogance married to ignorance as one can imagine. Like all ideologues, Ocasio-Cortez’s beliefs are absolute and impregnable, only confirmation is permitted. Doubt is heresy and heretics get punished. The Stalinist in Russia shot them; the Stalinists in the U.S. smear them. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in quest of heretics is proselytizing for her religion under the guise of science. As a waitress, nobody needed to pay attention to her; as a United States Representative, with a large following, she is a very frightening woman. That she is taken seriously by so many, particularly, young people, is a signal that the bad times are getting worse. When does the farce turn into a tragedy?