URLs du Jour

2021-06-29

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

I think I've previously posted a yard sign with the same words as our Amazon Product du Jour. So if you got the yard sign, you gotta get the throw pillow, right?

  • And It's Spectacular. The NR editors assure their readers: Critical Race Theory Backlash is Real.

    The intellectual roots of CRT can be found in Marxist-influenced critical theory, which began in the academia of Weimar Germany. It developed into an “intersectional” ideology at Harvard Law School in the late 1980s, through Kimberlé Crenshaw and other supporters of Professor Derrick Bell. In recent years, however, it has metastasized into the pop psychology of bestsellers such as Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility as well as pseudohistory such as the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

    CRT teaches that American ideals and institutions are mere fronts for white supremacy. It instructs its devotees to see everything through the lens of racial group identity and inherited guilt rather than treat individuals as individuals. Along with related critical gender and sexuality theories, it has increasingly colonized workplace training, journalism, and campus culture, and more recently entered the curricula of K–12 schools, where its practitioners are embraced and showered with cash by left-leaning school boards and educator groups such as the National Education Association.

    Should anyone accuse you of not knowing what CRT is, those paragraphs, translated into your own words, can disabuse them of that notion.


  • The Whole World Is Watching. Bari Weiss has a powerful article at her substack about China's digestion of Hong Kong, concentrating on the arrest of Jimmy Lai, and the shutdown of his pro-democracy paper Apple Daily: When a Free Society Becomes a Police State. RTWT, but here's an excerpt:

    Perhaps you read all of this and think the following: The Chinese Communist Party is terrible. We hear horrific stories out of China all the time. About how the CCP is carrying out a genocide against Uyghur Muslims and how it is staging videos of people pretending to be happy Uyghurs in an attempt to conceal the truth. About how it indoctrinates its people with censorship and propaganda. About how it disappears people. About how it uses cutting edge technology to spy on its own.

    Why should a newspaper closure rank among such atrocities?

    I asked that question to Mark Simon: “The Chinese Communist Party has become an expansionist party. They are interested not only in China now, but in the things around China,” he said. “And the killing of Apple Daily is really the largest blow against Hong Kong as a Western civil society.” Jimmy Lai put it this way in a 2019 interview: “What we are fighting for is the first battle of the new cold war.”

    In other words: What happens in Beijing doesn’t stay in Beijing. 

    Here I’m not just thinking of of movie stars like John Cena groveling about calling Taiwan a country; or of NBA stars like Lebron James who claim the mantle of social justice but are go mute in the face of the world’s greatest threat to human freedom; or of powerful brands like Apple and Nike that market themselves as progressive but rely on forced labor. (This past week, as Apple Daily shuttered, the CEO of Nike said: “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.”)

    Read that again: “Nike is a brand that is of China and for China.”

    [Apple Daily]

    I watch the Red Sox. I'll probably skip the All-Star Game, as I do every year. But you'll recall that Major League Baseball hurriedly moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta earlier this year because of (overblown) allegations about the voting law changes in the state of Georgia.

    And yet every MLB player wears the Nike swoosh on his jersey, an implicit thumbs-up to a company "of China and for China", a totalitarian dictatorship.

    We live in a time of athlete activism. I guess I hope that one or more ballplayers might have the guts to go out on the field with an unswooshed jersey. Cover up the swoosh with the Apple Daily logo, perhaps. (At your right, J. D. Martinez.)


  • Your Answer Probably Depends On Your View Of the Proper Citizen/State Relationship. Sean Walsh asks an interesting question: Is Government Ever Justified in the Weaponisation of Fear?. (He's a Brit, but everyting translates across the pond pretty well.)

    [Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

    The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging” Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviour (SPI-B), 22 March 2020

    The above quotation is from a Government advice paper and is quoted by Laura Dodsworth in the introduction to her excellent new book, A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic (Pinter & Martin, paperback £9.99). Dodsworth’s book is an analysis of how the Johnson administration deployed fear in service of a lockdown agenda – and of how it continues to do so.

    This is where we are: the UK is in a sort of Escher context in which the emergence of lockdown is not distinguishable from the entering of a new phase of it. How did we get here? Dodsworth offers an answer: people, when scared, are willing to embrace all manner of humiliations. And government, knowing this, will pile on the fear. Government is always like a child, attempting to see what it can get away with. Dodsworth explains why, if you like, the public declined to be the adult who pushes back. In March last year we had a chance to set the boundaries. We chose not to.

    Amazon link to A State of Fear on your right. The Kindle version is a mere $7.99.


  • Rauch Rules II: Electric Boogaloo An excerpt from Jonathan Rauch's new book The Constitution of Knowledge at Persuasion:

    When Americans think about how we find truth amid a world full of discordant viewpoints, we usually turn to a metaphor, that of the marketplace of ideas. It is a good metaphor as far as it goes, yet woefully incomplete. It conjures up an image of ideas being traded by individuals in a kind of flea market, or of disembodied ideas clashing and competing in some ethereal realm of their own. But ideas in the marketplace do not talk directly to each other, and for the most part neither do individuals. 

    Rather, our conversations are mediated through institutions like journals and newspapers and social-media platforms. They rely on a dense network of norms and rules, like truthfulness and fact-checking. They depend on the expertise of professionals, like peer reviewers and editors. The entire system rests on a foundation of values: a shared understanding that there are right and wrong ways to make knowledge. Those values and rules and institutions do for knowledge what the U.S. Constitution does for politics: They create a governing structure, forcing social contestation onto peaceful and productive pathways. And so I call them, collectively, the Constitution of Knowledge. If we want to defend that system from its many persistent attackers, we need to understand it—and its very special notion of reality.

    He makes some very good points. But…


  • Long Live the Kling. Arnold Kling is a Rauch skeptic. So check out The Best Rauch Summary.

    I am fine with Rauch’s rules for social epistemology. What bothers me about the book is the assumption that he makes implicitly–and often explicitly–that we can look to twentieth-century institutions to revive what he calls the reality-based community. He writes as if Harvard and the NYT are basically ok, and all that we need is for Google, Facebook, and Twitter to do a better job of moderating content on their platforms.

    In Rauch, you won’t find anything like what I wrote in academic corruption 1, academic corruption 2, or academic corruption 3.

    Arnold makes good points too, and I'm dubious that corporations and universities have the cojones to stand up for free expression and liberal ideals.

    Because (see above) they're all too willing to kowtow to China.


Last Modified 2021-06-29 1:42 PM EST