Who was it who said that one can go from the left to the right in two decades without changing a single opinion? That is pretty much what has happened to Germaine Greer, who has fallen afoul of the “trannies,” according to this essay. I’d feel sorry for her, but it is not as though she has felt much sympathy before this for anyone to the right of her.
The Problem with Banning Common Words
According to this column, English schools want to ban words like “cupcake” because it is used in a sexist way. The link is not clear on whether every use of “cupcake” will be banned or not, but if that is so, it is bound to fail. It will fail just as the attempt to ban “brown bag” for its allegedly racist connotations failed. These are terms that are in common use with other meanings, and those meanings are the main meanings, so eliminating them means switching to some other term with a similar meaning that doesn’t also have the additional, pejorative one. So, what would that be for “cupcake?” And what would it be for “brown bag?” Nothing is ever suggested. Notice that it was easy to ban the “N” word because it had no other use, but banning “brown bag” is probably not going to work, anymore than trying to ban, say, “sandwich” will work. There will be too much resistance. Anyway, there are waitresses in my part of the country who call every customer “Hon.” It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine them calling people “Cupcake.” It's really the intent and the context that makes ordinary words problematic, and banning them entirely is annoying and wrong.
The Nobel Peace Prize: We Need a Prize for Fighting the Islamists
Ever since Malala didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize a couple years back, I’ve thought the prize was a complete waste of time. (Ok, to be honest, I had thought that earlier, but her failure to get it just confirmed my view that this committee is completely clueless about the world situation.) Yes, she was awarded it a year ago, and now they have given the prize to another group that is fighting the Islamists (this time in Tunisia). But there is no guarantee that two years of good sense will continue. We really need a prize for resisting and fighting the Islamists.
The Price of Gas
Here in central Ohio, the price of gas varies considerably from place to place. Now that I am taking flying lessons, which are in Columbus, I can see the variation each time I fly. Here in Mount Vernon, for example, the price was $2.059 on Sunday night, but by Monday morning, it was $2.299. In Marengo, which is on the way to Columbus, the price was as low as $2.039, while in Columbus it had come down from $2.399 last week to $2.299.
Why the variation and why can it be cheaper here in a distant rural area than in a big city like Columbus? Shouldn’t it cost more to get the gas here than to Columbus? Yet, lately it has been more expensive in Columbus.
Soccer in Minnesota
Major League Soccer has bestowed a professional soccer team on the state of Minnesota, but to everyone’s surprise, it won’t be located in Minneapolis, but St. Paul. I can’t speak about the recent developments in the state with respect to soccer, but I was there in the 1970s when the Kicks arrived. It was the biggest political shock of my life. The people I expected to support soccer didn’t, while people I didn’t expect to support it did. In particular, the very conservative mayor of Minneapolis at that time, Charles Stenvig, was a big Kicks supporter. In fact, as far as I know, Stenvig is still, among all prominent Minnesota politicians, the most ardent soccer supporter ever. The liberals of that era did nothing for soccer, and it sounds like from what little I have read that nothing has changed. The stadium will be built, unlike those for more American sports which are publicly funded, by the team’s owner.
The other night a stray remark from a liberal gave me some insight as to why liberals and leftists think things will work out with the immigrants: “we’ve had them before, and things worked out fine.” (That is, we Americans have had them, even though the Europeans haven’t had much experience with them before.) In the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, we had lots of immigrants from countries (like Ireland and Italy) whose citizens were quite different from those Americans who were already here. But despite the fears of the xenophobes, things worked out fine. Today is no different. Just because these people are different, that doesn’t mean that things won’t turn out fine again, unless the xenophobes overwhelm our society, in which case there will be trouble. But the trouble will come from the natives and not the immigrants.
1. The obvious response to this is that at the time, we demanded that foreigners assimilate, while today, thanks to the left, we instead prefer to accommodate them. That is, either we can expect them to change or we can expect ourselves to change, and while the former worked, there is no guarantee that the latter will. Moreover, it is the left demanding that we and not the immigrants change, so they are the ones undercutting their own argument. Finally, if we are going to accommodate people who are reactionaries, then you can kiss goodbye gay marriage and feminism and legal abortion. (See this column from the other day by Glenn Reynolds.)
Among my own relations who were pressured to assimilate, my grandmother on my mother’s side was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and knew nothing but Swedish when she started school, where she was forced to learn English. My father learned German at home, but he too picked up English (probably in school). Neither spoke English with a foreign accent. Neither had any particular connection to the old country of their ancestors beyond knowing that that was where they had come from, and they lived their lives as ordinary Americans. My sister’s husband’s background shows the power of assimilation. His grandfather came from Russia and was a Marxist. His father eschewed Marxism and became a liberal, and he himself eschewed liberalism and became a libertarian. This is what happens when America is allowed to work its magic on immigrants. They see that we do things better.
What would have happened if today’s immigration had happened back in the 1950s? First, it wouldn’t have happened then. Second, if it had somehow happened, it would have happened very differently. There would have been strong pressure on all immigrants to assimilate. English would have been forced onto the immigrants via schools, at least, and via many other institutions. Our will to preserve our culture was strong, so any attempts to take over would have failed. Consider the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport incident of a few years ago when a Muslim taxi driver objected to a passenger’s having alcohol with her. The first step the authorities took was to ask some Muslim organization for advice. That wouldn’t have happened in the 1950s, and instead the driver would have been fired or at least reprimanded. The fatwa against Rushdie would have resulted in strong limits on any future Muslims being allowed in. All the pressure to accommodate Muslims would not have happened, and they would have been outcasts from the mainstream if they wanted to remain in their own communities, or assimilated Americans if they didn’t.
2. A second response is that just because it worked with one group of people, that doesn’t mean that it will work with everyone else. The left’s reasoning is that beginning about a century and a half ago, a largely Protestant country let in a lot of Catholics, and no harm was done (despite the fears of the xenophobes), so today a largely Christian country ought to be able to let in some Muslims with no harm being done. But even though those Catholics were not Protestant, they were still Christian, and they were also part of the Western world. Today, in what ways are Muslim immigrants like us? Nothing comes to mind other than their being human beings, so maybe Muslims are just too far removed culturally from the West to be able to make this transition. For example, was there anything like the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in the earlier phase of immigration? Did a Pope from a century ago urge Catholics in America to kill a harmless author? How about rapes? Did Catholic men believe that they were allowed to rape Protestant women because they were not Catholic or weren’t dressed the way those Catholic men thought women should be dressed? More generally, did Catholics think they could steal from non-Catholics, simply because the victims were not Catholic? Did these Catholics kill relatives who had converted away from Catholicism?
As far as I know, the answers to these and other questions is no. The only point of similarity is that those Catholics may have had an urge to turn America into a Catholic country, just as these hordes coming into the West today may have an urge to turn the West into a part of the Muslim world. But the sorts of violence those earlier immigrants engaged in actually had nothing to do with Catholicism and everything to do with the ordinary radical politics of the day. President McKinley was killed by an anarchist, and the duo of Sacco and Vanzetti were also anarchists. Catholic violence against Protestants, former Catholics, or the U.S. government seems not to have happened.
There is good reason, then, to believe that the liberal left’s answer to their critics is weak. But there is another way to look at it. While the liberal left may have an answer to critics about Muslim immigrants, there is a broader issue of whether the left should have anything to do with Muslims wherever they may be. The left today supports fundamentalist Muslims in many regions of the world, and not just in the West. It supports them in Iran (the current regime against those partaking in the Green Revolution), in Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood versus anyone to the left of them), and in many other places. It is true that it is against al-Qaida and ISIS, but not to any great degree, and leftists still regard America and Israel as far more of a problem than either of those groups.
Well, I didn’t join the left in order to support religious fundamentalists, and I’m sure many others have similar feelings, even if they are keeping silent. Moreover, there is a powerful argument against this status quo, one which Glenn Reynolds makes to some extent in the link above. That argument is that these people are generally hostile to the left. Reynolds’ point is that these people are patriarchal, and their patriarchal attitudes and habits will eventually be diffused throughout society. The same could be said regarding their homophobic and anti-secular attitudes. Finally, we already know that these people are hostile to the left because of the episode in Iran that I keep dwelling on and which leftists want to ignore, namely the butchering of leftists by Muslims in Iran after the Shah’s government was overthrown. Such an event ought to have led liberals and leftists to be, at the very least, cautious about Muslims, and if there was any doubt, the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh, and the murder of the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo should have made things very clear.
Hey, leftists, why do you want to support people who want to kill you?
An article in the Economist that we received today reports that while train service is excellent in Europe, bus service (between cities and towns) is much less so. I have traveled by train in Europe, but never by bus, except in Britain. But the article makes clear that British bus service is much better than the service in continental Europe.
Anyway, why is their bus service so poor? It’s because the trains wanted the buses regulated severely so they wouldn’t lose customers to them. But in recent years this has been changing with bus service becoming more available. Have the trains lost customers? It seems not. While the article does not reach the obvious conclusion, we have to say that Europe’s transportation system, so widely praised here in America by liberals and leftists, actually did not serve the poor very well. The poor can afford a bus ride, but not a train ride. So, Europe’s system served the middle class instead. All this promotion of mass transit never actually looked at how well it served poor people and whether they were happy with their choices. Instead, it was and is all about getting middle-class car owners to ditch their cars and opt for something less convenient, but more in line with the left’s vision for society.
I've already flown three hours this week, and that will be all, so I'm giving a flying update now. I make slow progress on low passes and landings, but this is partly because it has been so windy. Also, my instructor let slip that the plane is so light that it gets buffeted about to a greater extent than heavier planes. Sigh.
One amusing note is that learning to fly is so beyond the ordinary activities of my friends and acquaintances that a couple of them asked if I was actually flying a plane in the air. Yes, it's not a simulator; it's an actual plane in the air.
Here. Hanson suggests that liberals pledge to live up to their liberalism by, for example, not flying across the Atlantic more than once every five years (in order to reduce their carbon footprint), by sending at least one of their children to an ordinary college or university and not an elite one (in order to reduce their white privilege), and by refraining from using their IDs at airports and in other situations (since they reject the idea of requiring them for voting).
My major gripe with his list is that it applies mostly to rich liberals and not poor liberals. If I had read this when I was at my most radical (back when I was in my twenties and poor), I would have been puzzled because I was unaware that there were so many rich liberals and leftists in existence. For example, Hanson’s demand that liberals pledge not to fly across the Atlantic more than once every five years – and I would demand that they pledge not to fly at all more than once every five years – would have completely puzzled me since I didn’t get to travel by plane till I was 30, and my friends hardly ever traveled, either, so I would have wondered, Who was he talking about?
A minor gripe I have is that he refers to a bunch of California communities the connotations of whose names mean nothing to me:
One sees lots of new plastic, artificial lawns in Fresno, which has a vast aquifer, but almost none in Palo Alto and Atherton, which do not.
Is the idea that Fresno has a lot of Republicans whom one wouldn’t expect to comply with water restrictions? Or maybe it is filled with lower-middle class people who strain to afford an artificial lawn, while richer communities who could afford them refuse to purchase them? Sorry, I don’t know.
The best part is that Hanson actually alludes (in number 9) to the adjunct crisis, which I think is the greatest gift the left has ever given to the right. It is a phenomenon that the right needs to talk about constantly, especially in connection with Bernie Sanders. The idea is to say, “Look, this is what happens when liberals and leftists dominate: there is just as much exploitation as when they don’t dominate. Why, then, turn to socialism?”
See here for a powerful statement regarding the lack of a response from all the “anti-war” protesters at the bombing of a hospital on Obama’s watch. And one can also ask why no one is blaming Obama for the refugee crisis. It would be ridiculous to blame Bush, since if he were responsible, it would have happened ages ago. Of course, that kind of rational thinking is not what the anti-Bush crowd ever indulged in.
Reader Mark Spahn found this post from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. He had to waste three days listening as the judge interviewed each prospective juror, though from the comments, that seems something true in California and not other places. When I was called for jury duty, it was the lawyers who did the questioning. The prosecuting attorney got rid of me pretty quickly because he could see that I was answering questions the way the defense attorney wanted them answered. (I knew that Richard Jewell wasn’t guilty, which I guess is contrary to what most people think.) I thought this was pretty funny because I had already decided that the defendant was probably guilty. He was being accused by his teenage daughter of having molested her, and when he came into court, he treated the whole experience as a social affair, smiling and waving at friends in the courtroom. It’s not the way I expected someone faced with a serious charge to act.
An Important Column on the Refugees in Europe
Here. I have been following this issue, but not as closely as Doug Giles. This link from his article is filled with horrible stories that of course our media won’t mention.
And Whatever Happened To This Story?
Here. Turkey said it had shot down a Russian plane, which the Russians denied. The next thing I heard was that they had shot down a mere drone.
I still can’t quite do a landing, but I’m getting there. I should probably be further along than I am, but I don’t care. I don’t regard this as a race. I just want to be able to fly the plane. Meanwhile, the control tower chatter still goes by too fast for me to make it out, but at least it’s not like this!
See here. A German man who describes himself as an activist for immigrants was attacked by them late one night, for no obvious reason. He’s not the first leftist to be attacked, nor will he be the last. I’ve been saying for years that Muslims are not friends of the left, but the left refuses to believe it.
This column confirms my view that the left should be pushing to de-emphasize elite schools. An alum of Yale who volunteers to interview prospective students tells of his frustration since all these students are worthy of going to Yale, yet most will not get in. It comes down to silly things like whether the music department needs trumpeters or bassoonists. He ends by quoting a psychologist, Barry Schwartz, who has argued that one should just use a straight lottery: put the names of all those who are qualified into a hat, and those whose names are drawn get an acceptance letter.
But there is something even better than this solution: de-emphasize these schools. Yes, de-emphasize them. Minimize their importance. Downplay their role in helping people get into elite jobs by pointing out how many talented people did not go to such schools. For example, when I was in the computer industry thirty plus years ago, one of the big names was Seymour Cray, who had gone to the University of Minnesota (my own alma mater). The University of Minnesota is not an elite school, yet that is where he went. Those who believe in elite schools have to assume he’s an anomaly, though for me, this is just something typical because talent crops up in all sorts of unexpected places.
But even if those on the right are not persuaded by my argument, those on the left should be. They are the ones who should be mounting a strong campaign to de-emphasize these schools, partly because of the fact that so many people who should have gotten in aren’t getting in and partly because they are schools associated with the rich (whom the left claims to hate). Yet, they have no interest in such a campaign and seem interested merely in ensuring that the students who are chosen are diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity.
For a movement that claims to be interested in fairness, they are not doing a very good job of demanding change.