URLs du Jour

2021-07-15

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  • Feeling Nationalized Yet? Me Neither. Kevin D. Williamson writes on God's Little Lobbyists.

    Soon after he came to power, Adolf Hitler was asked whether he intended to nationalize German industry. Hitler answered that there was no need for that. “I shall nationalize the people,” he declared.

    “Which is what he did,” wrote the great historian John Lukacs, “alas, quite successfully.” Those who would try to press our society in a different and better direction — who would drag it, kicking and screaming, against its natural inclinations — have the opposite mission: not to nationalize the people, but to evangelize them. There is no avoiding the squabbles of procedural democracy, but even the most expert and ruthless squabbling is doomed to failure unless it is yoked to a real change in the minds of the American people. (The minds, not the hearts — this is a question of political thinking, not one of religious sentiment.) That is, I think, the pattern of action for American Christians who wish to be engaged with politics as Christians. But let’s not move on from Hitler and his politics just yet.

    A certain kind of glamour hangs on such monsters as Hitler. It is the same glamour that hangs on many saints and saviors. One sometimes hears a version of it from Christian apologists who take a Case for Christ-style preponderance-of-evidence approach to the Gospel: “Jesus must have performed miracles and been raised from the dead — how else to explain the devotion to this otherwise obscure exorcist from the Galilean backwaters?” But these Christians are not persuaded by shows of devotion that the emperor of Japan is the descendent of a sun goddess, that Haile Selassie was God Incarnate, or even that Idi Amin was “Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular,” to say nothing of the uncrowned king of Scotland, though many of Amin’s subjects and sycophants would have sworn to it.

    This is not Argumentum Ad Hitlerum (or Aminum); it's a reflection on how susceptible folks are to charisma, and turning that into false-god worship.

    Fortunately, my only false god is KDW.


  • About Time Somebody Nailed It. Richard K. Vedder and Amy L. Wax describe The Real Problem with Critical Race Theory.

    CRT banishes any classroom mention, let alone thoughtful discussion, of the full range of ideas about race currently articulated across the political spectrum. (The same thing is true in corporate America and at universities, where employees know better than to openly object to CRT’s rigid dogmas.) The CRT-approved story, in a nutshell, is that white racism is pervasive and accounts for all racial deficits and disparities. What is not being taught—what students are not exposed to, and not even allowed to hear—is the contrary position that persistent racial inequalities are oftentimes rooted in cultural differences and behavioral tendencies that are not all traceable to slavery or Jim Crow, and cannot all be solved by purging the vague category of “structural racism.”

    One of the central elements of the “anti-racism” creed, which conveniently allows CRT to be presented as unvarnished, unquestionable truth, is that any critique, challenge or argument against it, however grounded in evidence, history or logic, is by definition a racist expression of an oppressive system of “whiteness.” According to CRT proponents, that system must be wholly discredited, dismantled and expunged, both to achieve “racial justice” and to spare non-whites from trauma, exclusion and an “unsafe” environment.

    True. Let me point (one more time) to the official list of "Racial Justice Resources" at the University Near Here. There's no dissent allowed there, no alternate viewpoints.


  • Unfortunately Not Performed by Van McCoy & Pan's People. As revealed by Jason L. Riley at the WSJ: Critical Race Theory Is a Hustle.

    A majority of American fourth- and eighth-graders can’t read or do math at grade level, according to the Education Department. And that assessment is from 2019, before the learning losses from pandemic school closures.

    Whenever someone asks me about critical race theory, that statistic comes to mind. What’s the priority, teaching math and reading, or turning elementary schools into social-justice boot camps?

    Given that black and Hispanic students are more likely to be lagging academically, it’s a question that anyone professing to care deeply about social inequality might consider. Learning gaps manifest themselves in all kinds of ways later in life, from unemployment rates and income levels to the likelihood of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and involvement with the criminal-justice system. Our jails and prisons already have too many woke illiterates.

    Tough, but fair. A certain teacher demographic finds that a CRT-inspired curriculum is more fun to teach than the times tables. And they can delude themselves into thinking that it's ("therefore") more important.

    ("Classical reference in headline.")


  • "But Waste Was Of The Essence Of The Scheme." Randal O'Toole describes Transit's Dead End.

    Americans drove nearly 96 percent as many miles in May 2021 as in the same month in 2019, indicating a return to normalcy. Transit ridership, however, was only 42 percent of pre‐​pandemic levels, which is making transit agencies desperate to justify their future existence and the subsidies they depend on to keep running.

    Randal's example is the New York City area's transit systems. But it led me to wonder how Boston-area commuter rail (MBTA) was doing… ah, here we are. It turns out the MBTA is pretty desperate too, and last month they turned to a sycophantic media outlet, the PBS station WGBH to plead: Why You Should Care About Low MBTA Ridership Even If You Don’t Take The T.

    [Director of the advocacy group Transportation for Massachusetts Chris] Dempsey said while the total vehicles traveled in the state by car is almost back to 2019 numbers, MBTA ridership is still only a fraction of what’s normal. And, there are differences among those modes. Buses are back up to about 50% ridership, a reflection that many of those riders don't own vehicles, yet the commuter rail, which serves many white collar workers who still work from home, is still at 20% of its 2019 ridership.

    Emphasis added. Note that this is the commuter rail systems that "advocates" want to extend up to New Hampshire, including the entire state's legislative delegation to DC.


  • And It's Not Just Tim. Lee Siegel looks at Yale history prof Timothy Snyder’s Bad History.

    It was the advent of Donald Trump—mentioned no less than 100 times in Snyder’s latest book, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America—that catapulted Snyder from academic star to intellectual celebrity. Shortly after the 2016 election, he published On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, in which he warned Americans that Trump could launch a fascist revolution. The book disturbed many historians, who believed that Snyder was trafficking in alarmism. But Snyder reaped a small fortune from his prophecy, despite the gathering authoritarian gloom, establishing himself as the liberal media’s resident credentialed doomsayer. This distinguished Yale historian has become a kind of American apparatchik, validating and enforcing the elite media’s party line in such snappy articles as “How Hitler Pioneered ‘Fake News’” (New York Times), “Trump’s Big Election Lie Pushes America Toward Autocracy” (Boston Globe), and “Trump’s ‘Delay the Election’ Tweet Checks All Eight Rules for Propaganda” (Washington Post).

    I didn't like Trump either, but just as Trump fans have promoted him to some sort of minor deity, a lot of his adversaries have slung around totalitarian/fascist/etc.

    I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have made it through actual totalitarianism, a point Siegel makes about Snyder. And one we've made ourselves recently about a local academic.