Sunday, July 30, 2017

Out of Gas

Saturday, July 29, 2017

“New Atheists:” In the Doghouse With Liberals For Being Consistent Atheists

From National Review:
Organized religion’s shallowest critics made the mistake of blasting Islam along with Christianity, and the Left crucified them for it.

On Friday, it became official: The New Atheists are no longer welcome on the left. Battered, condemned, and disinvited, these godless and once-favored “public intellectuals” are now homeless, spurned by their erstwhile progressive allies.

Richard Dawkins, the famously skeptical evolutionary biologist, was the last shoe to drop. He was disinvited from a speaking engagement at Berkeley because his “comments about Islam” had “offended and hurt . . . so many people,” according to the event’s organizers.

Dawkins is in good company. His New Atheist compatriots, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, had already been expelled from the party. In both cases, insufficient deference to Islam was the proximate cause. Hitchens remained a committed socialist, but felt a war on Islamic terror and autocracy was needed. For this, he was denounced as a “neocon.” Harris is a liberal, straight and true, but drew the ire of Reza Aslan for refusing to except Islam from his broad critique of religion. “Islam is not a religion of peace,” Harris often says. In fact, he thinks it’s just the opposite. For that, everyone from Glen Greenwald to Ben Affleck has cast him as an Islamophobe and a bigot.

That means that three of the much-acclaimed “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism have been turfed from the left for extending their critique of religion to Islam. The fourth is Daniel Dennett, who also criticizes Islam. The only actual philosopher of the bunch, he is far too boring and ponderous to be noticed, let alone denounced, by anyone. In his place, one can add Bill Maher, a popularizer of New Atheism who has also been barred from Berkeley over criticism of Islam. One by one, these men have been excommunicated from the Left.

Confirmation bias deserves at least a part of the blame. The New Atheists have long harbored an irrational fear of Christianity, but Christophobia doesn’t worry the Left. Combating Islamophobia, however, is a progressive priority, and so it is noticed and addressed when it strikes.

However, the argument that the liberal obsession with Islamophobia stems from a healthy regard for the status of minorities only goes so far. As Michael Walzer, the socialist intellectual, has written in Dissent, “I frequently come across leftists who are more concerned with avoiding accusations of Islamophobia than they are with condemning Islamist zealotry.” There is a reason, after all, why many Democrats stubbornly and proudly refuse to say the words “Islamic terrorism,” preferring to speak of generalized “extremism.”

But these same people who insist that evil men have perverted Islam are usually the first to falsely bring up Timothy McVeigh as an example of a “Christian terrorist.” They present Christianity as a reflection of the actions of its evildoers (and even those who disclaim the faith). But the actions of orthodox Islamic believers, the Left suddenly maintains, are no reflection on the tenets of the peaceful Islamic faith.

Farther left, the defense of Islam becomes a defense of Islamic radicalism and intolerance. Slavoj Žižek sees in Islamism “the rage of the victims of capitalist globalization.” Judith Butler insists that “understanding Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important.”

In short, the New Atheists have won applause from the wrong side: the anti-Muslim, crusading Right. Christopher Hitchens, an endlessly entertaining writer who could give it to Saddam Hussein as good as anyone, was every right-winger’s favorite radical. Sam Harris started finding agreement with the likes of Douglas Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Rich Lowry’s defense of Harris from Ben Affleck appeared in the New York Post. Bill Maher now delights the Right as much as he infuriates it. And the Left, smelling traitors in its midst, simply cannot tolerate this sort of transgression.

But more attention is needed to the specific nature of the Left’s double standard when it comes to Islam. Why must ardent secularists from the Islamic world like Ayaan Hirsi Ali — the type of people the Left looks to for inspiration in the history of Western secularism — be deemed bigots, while Sharia-supporting conspiracy theorists like Linda Sarsour are cherished? Why has criticizing Islam caused the New Atheists to cross a red line in the progressive imagination?

These positions make no sense if one thinks of the Left as seriously secular, convinced of the need to end the reign of superstition. But American liberals profess neither the passionate skepticism of Hume nor the honest, urgent atheism of Nietzsche. They prefer to embrace a shallow, culture-war atheism instead.

This culture-war atheism provides “evidence,” quick and easy, to support the proposition that America is split into two camps: the intelligent, sophisticated, urbane, righteous liberals and the idiotic, gullible, backward, bigoted conservatives. The former are atheists and the latter are believers, flattering one side and bludgeoning the other. In fact, it is this type of thinking that made progressives fall in love with the New Atheists in the first place.
The author (Elliot Kaufman) goes on to dismantle some of the jejune arguments of the New Atheists, and then concludes:
New Atheism pleased the Left as long as it stuck to criticizing “God,” who was associated with the beliefs of President George W. Bush and his supporters. It was thus fun, rather than offensive, for Bill Maher to call “religion” ridiculous, because he was assumed to be talking about Christianity. Christopher Hitchens could call God a “dictator” and Heaven a “celestial North Korea,” and the Left would laugh. Berkeley students would not think to disinvite Richard Dawkins when he was saying “Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion.”

None of this New Atheist silliness bothered the Left so long as it flattered the right tribes and battered the wrong ones. It was only once the New Atheists extended their critique of religion to Islam that progressives began to turn on them. Muslims, though largely right-wing before the War on Terror, had become a “marginalized group.” Seen as the victims of Western colonialism, neoconservative aggression, and day-to-day discrimination, they became a part of the coalition of the oppressed, which is to say, they became virtuous. Islam, consequently, became a faith and tradition deserving of respect, not a “mind virus” like Christiniaty, busy infecting fools.

As such, attacks on Muslims or their faith not only appeared to be “punching down” at the innocent, but also became attacks on the left itself. The New Atheists, merely by being consistent and focusing on the most-egregious religious intolerance, in effect surrendered their sophistication and, in the Left’s eyes, joined the ranks of the bigoted, reactionary Right.

There is just one problem: We don’t want them either.
Why don’t we want them? Isn’t the enemy of my enemy my friend? While there are some exceptions (Christopher Hitchens comes to mind) most of them are shallow thinkers motivated by an irrational (indeed often bigoted) hostility toward religion. The fact that they don’t distinguish between Islam and Christianity in their hatred may be consistent, but it is not laudable.

But most off all, we Christian conservatives don’t want to be like liberals: demonizing or lionizing people on the basis of how useful they are in waging the culture wars.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Transgenderism: Emotion Trumps Fact

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Really Racist?

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Really Bad Miscalculation

Monday, July 17, 2017

Women’s March Lauds Terrorist / And So Did Marquette

Yes, these were the women with their badly knitted “pussy hats” who came out the day after the inauguration to protest Donald Trump. The organization is still in business, and tweeting. They recently tweeted this out:
Who is she? The FBI tells the story using Shakur’s real name (Chesimard):
On May 2, 1973, Chesimard, who was part of a revolutionary extremist organization known as the Black Liberation Army, and two accomplices were stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two troopers with the New Jersey State Police. At the time, Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery. Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers. One trooper was wounded and the other was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range. Chesimard fled the scene, but was subsequently apprehended. One of her accomplices was killed in the shoot-out and the other was also apprehended and remains in jail.
Of course, Marquette honored Shakur with a mural in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.

And when we publicized the mural, and the Marquette administration ordered it painting over, over 60 faculty members signed a petition protesting the action, and supporting the mural.

Lauding terrorists and cop killers is becoming mainstream on the left, and among Marquette faculty (at least in a few departments).

Update

The “Women’s March” was not the only source of support for this terrorist on her birthday. Black Lives Matter in New York lauded her: So did CNN’s Mark Lamont Hill:

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Climate Change Hysteria Going Overboard

From Jonah Goldberg in National Review:
One of the hallmarks of the “Ugly American” is the habit of thinking foreigners will understand what you’re saying if just shout it louder and louder.

The Ugly Environmentalist does something similar. He exaggerates the challenge of global warming by using ever more hysterical rhetoric, thinking that if the last doomsday prediction didn’t work, this one will.

For instance, Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist, recently said that the consequences of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord were monumental: “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees (Celsius), and raining sulfuric acid.”

As Nathan Cofnas notes in the Weekly Standard, this is nuts. The share of the atmosphere taken up by that vile gas carbon dioxide (which just happens to sustain all plant life) is 400 parts per million. It’s been much higher than that in the past without boiling the oceans or raining acid from the sky. Cofnas also mentions that Venus is nearly 26 million miles closer to the sun, and that the share of carbon dioxide in the Venusian atmosphere is 965,000 parts per million, or about 2,412 times greater than Earth’s.

And that’s Hawking, a serious scientist (at least in his own field). Journalists, always looking for novelty and drama, can be worse. A recent New York magazine cover story on climate change assured readers that all of the previous climate-change alarmism was too tepid. Basically, by the end of the century, the living will envy the dead and much of the planet will be uninhabitable or a reenactment of a Mad Max movie.

The more you sound like some cowbell-wielding street preacher wearing a sandwich board that says “The End Is Nigh!” the more likely it is that people will ignore you. Particularly if your last few terrifying predictions didn’t pan out.

But this focus on how using scare tactics doesn’t persuade skeptics overlooks another problem. What about the people it does persuade? If you honestly believe that climate change will end all life on earth (it won’t) or lead to some dystopian hell where we use the skulls of our former friends and neighbors to collect water droplets from cacti, what policies wouldn’t you endorse to stop it?

There’s a rich school of journalistic and academic nonsense out there about how democracy may not be up to the job of fighting climate change, and why people who question climate change must be silenced by the state. It’s remarkable how many of the people who rightly recoil in horror at the idea of using, say, the war on terror to justify curtailing civil liberties have no such response when someone floats similar ideas for the war on climate change.

The environment editor for the left-wing British newspaper the Guardian, Damian Carrington, recently wrote a piece fretting about how having kids doesn’t help fight climate change. Jill Filipovic, a feminist writer, endorsed the article. “Having children is one of the worst things you can do for the planet,” she wrote on Twitter. “Have one less and conserve resources.”

I found this interestingly dumb. Filipovic is precisely one of those writers you’d expect to go ballistic if some conservative Christian opined about the reproductive choices women should make. But if it’s in the name of the environment? Let’s wag those fingers, everybody!
But is that really the point? Or worse? Could it be that the “climate change” crowd is so keen on this issue, and so given to hysterics, because deep down they want an excuse to dictate people’s lifestyles? Not only could it be, it is.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Reebok’s Faux Feminism

So Donald Trump says something nice about the figure of a French woman, and an American corporation jumps on the politically correct bandwagon to condemn it.

Except the corporation (Adidas, who make Reebok) are happy to use images of scantily clad (and nude) women in their commercials.

[WARNING: PARTIAL NUDITY]

(But is that a warning, or an enticement?)

From the Conservative Treehouse.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

More: Evergreen College as Liberal Hell Hole

The following two segments are from a meeting of the Evergreen State College Board of Trustees. They are two individuals who dissented from the leftist mob that had been terrorizing the campus.




Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that Trustees at Evergreen will be any more effective in protecting free expression on campus than Marquette trustees have been in protecting free expression at Marquette.

One reason is that the forces of intolerant political correctness speak out, and are fully willing to target and punish dissent. You can see that in the video of the full meeting, which is dominated by leftists.

What we see at Evergreen is different a bit in degree, but not in kind, from what we see at most colleges and universities. Intolerant faculty, toady administrators and feckless trustees are all to blame.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Five Clichés Used to Attack Free Speech

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Trump and Russia: Chasing Your Tail

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

They Keep Coming: Another Bogus “Hate” Incident

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Former Petersburg City Attorney Brian K. Telfair asked a city employee to buy a prepaid cellphone that he later used to make a phone call to himself — a call that Telfair told police was made by an unknown “redneck” caller who made racist threats to the mayor and two other city officials, according to court records.

The phony call led to the abrupt cancellation of a Petersburg City Council meeting in February 2016 after city officials received word that residents were upset about high water bills and other financial issues plaguing the city, according to court records related to Telfair’s pending misdemeanor criminal charge of lying to police about the supposed threat to city officials.

Court documents allege that Telfair concocted the entire episode.
Just on the face of it, one redneck in a city the size of Petersburg isn’t a huge deal. Of course, any genuine threat needs to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, but there are lots of crackpots who make threats.

But the politically correct narrative that says America is awash with anti-black racists makes any racist incident seem particularly important. This, of course, provides a huge incentive to manipulate politics by producing bogus incidents.

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Monday, July 03, 2017

How Low Can You Go

GLENN MCCOY © Belleville News-Democrat. Dist. By UNIVERSAL UCLICK. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, July 01, 2017

Driving Your Adversaries Crazy: More Anti-Trump Media Blunders

First, the supposed “17 agencies” of the U.S. government who agreed that the Russians had interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
The New York Times and Associated Press this week quietly issued major retractions in stories concerning alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

For months, Democrats have tried to connect President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to Russia’s alleged interference in last year’s election. The most prominent narrative has accused Trump of “collusion” with the Russians, although no concrete evidence has proved the claims correct.

One of the other prominent claims, one touted by many Democrats, has been to say all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia attempted to interfere in the election.

Last Sunday, the Times ran a report titled, “Trump’s Deflections and Denials on Russia Frustrate Even His Allies,” and claimed that “all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community” had confirmed Russia orchestrated cyberattacks to interfere in the election.

The Associated Press made similar claims in stories on April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29.

Losing 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even made the claim during a debate last October and fact-checking website PolitiFact ruled Clinton’s claim to be completely true.

However, as fate would have it, not all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies made that claim nor had they confirmed it. In fact, only four agencies did: the CIA, the FBI, the NSA and the office of the director of national intelligence.

That fact forced the Times and the AP to issue retractions and corrections.

The Times wrote in a correction on Thursday: “A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

While the AP wrote in a similar correction on Friday: “In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies – the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency – and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.”
Trump reacted to all this by asking:


The Meeting That Didn’t Happen

From Brietbart:
A Breitbart News investigation has led to the correction by the Associated Press–which originally resisted–of the fake news it printed as deeper questions of responsibility, accountability, and journalistic ethics consume the AP heading into Fourth of July weekend.

This time, the Associated Press invented an imaginary meeting between EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, and then alleged that some kind of impropriety happened as a result.

Under the headline “EPA chief met with Dow CEO before deciding on pesticide ban,” the AP’s Michael Biesecker alleged that some super-secret covert meeting occurred between Pruitt and Liveris—and that awful things came as a result of that meeting.

The problem with Biesecker’s piece, which ran over the Associated Press wires on Wednesday evening, is that as Breitbart News has confirmed from both sides: No meeting ever occurred, despite one appearing on Pruitt’s schedule. Sure, both were at the conference and briefly shook hands when introduced, but they never had a “meeting” because of scheduling conflicts.

“Administrator Scott Pruitt did not meet privately with Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow,” Liz Bowman, the EPA’s spokeswoman, told Breitbart News. “The AP article is inaccurate and misleading. Despite multiple attempts to provide the Associated Press with the facts, this article has not been corrected.”

Lies? Fake News?

So we have an out and out epidemic of bogus stories from the Mainstream Media, all tending to discredit the election of Donald Trump and his Administration. We have documented more here and here.

Is this “fake news?”

The concept was invented by the liberal media during the 2016 election season to claim that fake news was responsible for the election of Donald Trump. And it was deployed to attack all conservative media.

But soon enough the tables were turned and conservatives, along with Trump himself, flung that epithet at the Mainstream Media.

Poetic justice.

But genuine fake news is stories that are known to be false by the people who write them. They are intentional frauds, in other words. Classic example: the story that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump.

In fact, what we have from the Mainstream Media is not intentional lies but rather a radical lowering of journalistic standards, fueled by the loathing media people feel toward Trump. Since they so badly want stories reflecting badly on Trump to be true, they fail to show the skepticism and careful sourcing good journalism requires.

And of course, Trump’s excoriation of the media simply reinforces the loathing, and leads to more journalistic blunders, which gives Trump more material which which to attack the media.

It could be seen as a brilliant strategy on Trump’s part to discredit his critics. Except we don’t think the terms “Donald Trump” and “strategy” fit together. Trump is not Machiavelli. In terms of strategizing, he’s not even your average cribbage player. But when he pops off, it drives his adversaries crazy.

That is a political asset. It’s not the one we’d most like to see in a president, but it’s not a trivial one.

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Media: Then and Now