Leftist Orthodoxy: Hate the Sinner and the Sin

Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.

Saint Augustine tells us (along with Gandhi, many years later) to love the sinner, and hate the sin. Conceptually, it’s easy enough to grasp. Practically, it’s not always an easy task. Drive down the freeway during peak traffic hours and tell me how many folks drive you crazy with poor driving antics. Certainly road rage wouldn’t be so prevalent if most folks managed to live by this rule. However, making the attempt to live this way is worthy even if we cannot always live up to it.

Social Justice orthodoxy demands that we hate the sinner for the sin. Paula Deen famously used the word “nigger” after being held up at gun point, and admitted that she may have said it in other contexts at some point or another in her life. This stain is considered permanent in some sense. Once you use the word, you are forever guilty, as if the offense were like committing a felony. Your record cannot ever be expunged. Forgiveness is impossible. You will be hated forever. You are an unperson, erased like a man in a Stalin-era photograph.

A good friend of mine some folks may know as ClarkHat sent me this link: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/08/my-joe-rogan-experience/594802/

Fascinatingly, the author of the piece does not appear to have a problem with Joe Rogan himself, per se. Indeed, his opinion of Joe is high enough that most of the piece is about the author’s attempt to live likewise, and Joe’s ability to relate to the common American man. Rather, he takes issue with the fact that Joe Rogan would dare to talk with sinners, with the unpersoned. The money quote:

Joe likes Jack. He likes Milo Yiannopoulos. He likes Alex Jones. He wants you to know that he doesn’t agree with much of what they say, but he also wants you to know that off camera they’re the nicest guys. If we all have fatal flaws, this is Joe’s: his insistence on seeing value in people even when he shouldn’t, even when they’ve forfeited any right to it, even when the harm outweighs the good. It comes from a generous place, but it amounts to careless cruelty. He just won’t write people off, and then he compounds the sin by throwing them a lifeline at the moment when they least deserve it.

Once a man is unpersoned, the shunning is supposed to continue forever. You must hate the sinner, and if you do not, this itself is a form of sin. It is, in the author’s own words, Joe’s fatal flaw. Talking to the sinner is forbidden. Forgiveness of the sinner is forbidden. It does not matter if the sin was three years ago, or thirty years ago. It does not matter if the sin was a casually insensitive joke, or a Virginia governor donning blackface in a yearbook. Although we might suspect that Governor Northam may have been given some level of a temporary pass for his Democratic party allegiance. Political expediency may delay your final unpersoning, for a time. Then again, it may not. Courts of public opinion are fickle, prone to whimsy, and as cruel as any schoolyard bully. There is a reason the justice system is not put to popular vote, after all.

His invitation to Jones was indefensible, and his defense was even worse. I had assumed going in that Rogan would explain himself at the top, similar to what he’d done after booting the Jack Dorsey interview. But he didn’t. He went the other way. He promised a “fun” interview with Jones, as if it was a joyful, long-awaited reunion rather than offensive for even existing, and he assured his listeners that “you’re gonna love it.”

Even before Jones sat down, Rogan seemed unpierced by the genuine anguish that Jones had caused the parents of murdered first graders. I won’t quote anything Alex Jones said on the podcast, so just picture a walrus with a persecution complex, or a talking pile of gravel. They got the Sandy Hook stuff out of the way first—Jones evaded responsibility, Joe grumbled about the media—and then they got into what Jones was really there to talk about: aliens, suicidal grasshoppers, Chinese robot workers, that kind of thing. My breaking point was at the 21-minute mark, when Jones apologized for “ranting” and Rogan replied, “It’s okay—I want you to rant.”

Alex Jones is presumed by the author to have caused genuine anguish to the parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims. First, it bears mentioning that this claim is extremely dubious. If somebody doesn’t wish to listen to Alex Jones, he doesn’t have to. I’m not exactly in the Alex Jones fan club, and I generally avoid listening to him. Similarly, if Joe’s interview of Alex Jones starts to cause somebody distress for whatever reason, well, you can watch something else.

Similarly, the author notes that “Jones evaded responsibility.” What does this even mean? Alex Jones was not responsible for the shooting. There are many things one might conceivably pin on Alex Jones, to include those scam supplements sold under the InfoWars brand. But Sandy Hook – and the feelings of the victims and their families – isn’t one of them. To the author, however, it does not matter. Alex Jones is a sinner. He should therefore be unpersoned, and anyone who even talks to the unperson is himself guilty of a sin.

Perhaps a sin worthy of unpersoning as well.

 I’m glad, though, that the men of America have Joe Rogan to motivate and inspire and educate them in limitless ways, including how to recognize a moron. Whatever gets the job done. It might unsettle some of us that we must rely on his fans to separate the good stuff from the bad, but that’s the hard work of being a responsible adult in the modern era—knowing what you should consume and what you shouldn’t. We all need to decide for ourselves, but trust me on this one: You can skip the mushroom coffee.

In the end, the author comes around – perhaps reluctantly – to the view I took above. For this I give him some credit, for I get the general impression from his writing that this view was difficult for him. He likes Joe at some level, but he is conflicted about his status as a sinner. But he does explain that you are responsible for the content you choose to consume. Joe Rogan’s time to be unpersoned has not yet come, at least in the author’s view. For now, perhaps, the court of public opinion has not ruled against him.

Yet.

But once the you are deemed have offended the sensibilities of popular culture sufficiently, well, your time will come. There is no appeal, no forgiveness, no coming back from your unpersoning. Once a sinner, always a sinner. Once a sinner, never a real person again. You just become another caricature, a guy in a Hitler mustache, a cartoon villain, upon whom anything may be blamed, up to and including school shootings you had nothing to do with.

Hate the sinner, regardless of the sin: the new mantra of mob justice.

Fisk of the Week: White Fragility

So I’m mostly back from my self-imposed ascetic period. I needed some time to clear my head, and politics certainly has a way of muddying the religious waters. But I feel that I can safely return to my long-winded screeds and overly-involved fisks. And my friends, we have a whopper today. In fact, this is not just a fisk, it is a comparison of two viewpoints, one interesting and one a well-spun lie. Before we get into it, I have this observation for you:

One of the more penetrating questions to a liberal is “when is my duty satisfied?” It lacks the grounding necessary to recognize a success condition. It embraces its own form of original sin, but lacks the redemption method.

Think carefully on this. Leftists generally like to, for example, push taxes higher. What rate of taxation is enough, after which they must better allocate the funds instead of asking for more? With respect to racial grievances, how many affirmative action programs, how much money, how much tireless media spin is necessary before we can say that we have satisfied the duty they ask of us? What level of involvement in Social Justice programs is enough that, when satisfied, the person can proudly state that he is not racist/sexist/whatever?

If you cheat and look in the back of the book, so to speak, you will find that the answer is nothing. Nothing will satisfy them. Nothing is ever enough. Unlike Christianity, the original sin of Liberalism can never be expunged. There is no redemption, racist.

Don’t believe me? Let’s fisk some of this.

The New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism sat down with Teaching Tolerance to discuss why working against one’s own fragility is a necessary part of white anti-racist work—and why good intentions don’t matter.

And later in the article she expands on this:

I think intentions are irrelevant. It’s nice to know you had good intentions, but the impact of what you did was harmful. And we need to let go of our intentions and attend to the impact, to focus on that.

Intentions don’t matter. That’s a good place to start, and by itself explains a great deal about Progressive political thought. In a criminal case, intentions do matter. If you intend to kill someone, that is murder, and it is worse than killing someone by accident, which may be manslaughter or negligent homicide, or some other thing. Or, if the other person intended to harm you, your killing him in turn may be justified. Intentions surely do matter. What happens in the physical world also matters, of course, but to say good intentions don’t matter is already a lie.

Well, when I coined [white fragility], the fragility part was meant to capture how little it takes to upset white people racially. For a lot of white people, the mere suggestion that being white has meaning will cause great umbrage. Certainly generalizing about white people will. Right now, me saying “white people,” as if our race had meaning, and as if I could know anything about somebody just because they’re white, will cause a lot of white people to erupt in defensiveness. And I think of it as a kind of weaponized defensiveness. Weaponized tears. Weaponized hurt feelings. And in that way, I think white fragility actually functions as a kind of white racial bullying.

Fascinatingly enough, the author tells us that white fragility is actually a form of Weaponized Empathy, in so many words. It’s interesting to note this because this is a very clear form of projection. I’ve delved a lot into Weaponized Empathy as a concept here at The Declination. I am certainly one of the originators of the term. And so it is quite fascinating to see the author of this book, and the responses in this article, using a very similar phrasing. If a white person is defensive he is, by her own words, a kind of racial bully. The tears are offensive weapons. The hurt feelings are offensive weapons. But let’s explore a little more here.

We white people make it so difficult for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable—but often unaware—racist patterns and assumptions that, most of the time, they don’t. People of color working and living in primarily white environments take home way more daily indignities and slights and microaggressions than they bother talking to us about because their experience consistently is that it’s not going to go well. In fact, they’re going to risk more punishment, not less. They’re going to now have to take care of the white person’s upset feelings. They’re going to be seen as a troublemaker. The white person is going to withdraw, defend, explain, insist it had to have been a misunderstanding.

If you make an accusation, the accused gets to have his own say in the matter. Justice is not one person making an accusation, and everyone else immediately agreeing with him and not giving the accused an opportunity to defend himself. If I make an accusation, I expect the accused to defend himself. This applies even when I know he’s in the wrong! The author implies that a person defending himself, explaining his actions, and suggesting whatever happened was a misunderstanding is not engaging in acceptable behavior. Only admission of guilt is acceptable. But let’s continue.

There’s a question that’s never failed me in this work to uncover how racism keeps reproducing itself despite all of the evidence we like to give for why it couldn’t be us. And that question isn’t, “Is this true or is this false: Was the person’s intention good or not?” We’re never going to be able to come to an agreement on intentions. You cannot prove somebody’s intentions. They might not even know their intentions. And if they weren’t good, they’re probably not going to admit that. The question I ask is, “How does this function?” The impact of the action is what is relevant.

There is an interesting omission here. Do you see it? We don’t know a person’s intentions with certainty, that is true, though this has not stopped legal proceedings from finding evidence for a motive, and for ruling on such cases. However, note that the defender’s testimony is dismissed as irrelevant because intentions cannot be proven, but thus far in the article, we have not once made similar questions of the accuser’s motives! This is extremely important, because the demand for racist activity far outstrips the supply. This is why we have seen so many hate crime hoaxes of late, including the very public Jussie Smollett affair, but also lesser “crimes” like the Mizzou poop swastika, the receipt with vague racist crap scribbled on it, and others.

A person who claims to be a victim of such an affair is, like the receipt faker, often doing it for social media attention. Posts of sympathy are many. A person makes the evening news, and maybe boosts his failing career. The media eats these affairs up! It’s crack cocaine to a journalist, and people know this. But the author of this piece doesn’t even mention the possibility of a false accusation, and hammers homes a focus on the accused.

Foundationally [we] have to change our idea of what it means to be racist. As long as you define a racist as an individual who intentionally is mean, based on race, you’re going to feel defensive. When I say you’ve been shaped by a racist system—that it is inevitable that you have racist biases and patterns and investments—you’re going to feel offended by that. You will hear it as a comment on your moral character.  You’re going to feel offended by that if you don’t change how you’re interpreting what I just said. And I would actually agree with anyone who felt offended when I say, “It is inevitable that you are racist,” if their definition of a racist is someone who means harm.

Note the first sentence. We need to change our idea (the definition) of what the word means. Here we see Progressive thought laid bare: we change the definition of a word or concept. The author is not just admitting that they do this, she is demanding that we be complicit in this change. Note the dictionary definition:

Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Note the word “directed” used here. This implies intent, especially when combined with “based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” So to be a racist, you must believe in the superiority of your own race, and direct some form of antagonism or discrimination intentionally toward a person of another race. The author is telling us to change this definition so that her entire book makes sense, because otherwise it’s a form of meaningless nonsense. For her position to be internally coherent we must change the meaning of our own language. She’s telling you this, straight up!

Change how you understand what it means to be racist, and then act on that understanding. Because if you change your understanding, but you don’t do anything different, then you’re colluding.

And now comes the threat. Change the definition, or you’re a traitor/colluder/heretic/whatever. Distilled to its most simplistic form, obey me, or I will call you a mean name. Now many Rightists will scoff and laugh at this. Don’t. Leftists use this tactic because it works on at least some people. Here’s the real weaponization. Obey, or I will apply social peer pressure to you, racist.

In fact, white people measure the value of our schools and neighborhoods by the absence of people of color.

I know exactly what a “good” school is, and I know what we’re talking about. We all know what we’re talking about when we say “good school” versus “bad school.” We use race to measure those things. And now, you take the product of that conditioning, that segregation, that narrow story, and you put that teacher in a position to socialize everyone’s children—and that is a critical piece of [the] school-to-prison pipeline.

The first portion of this bit is actually correct, to at least some degree. Let’s be more specific, however. She uses the term “people of color”, but this doesn’t really work. There are few people bothered by the presence of, say, some Japanese kids or something. Is anybody really worrying about Chinese kids, or Cuban kids? It’s not “people of color” folks worry about (and note that said Japanese, Cuban, and Chinese kids are just as worried as the white kids, if not much more so). It’s much more specific than that. It’s mostly blacks that people worry about. That is the elephant in the room here, that has both Conservatives and Liberals tied up in politically-correct tongue twisters like “people of color” and such, because they can obfuscate the truth behind the idea that people are running in fear from Chinatown or something.

Why is that? Racism? Jim Crow? Or is it rational behavior?

The statistics on black crime are staggeringly bad. And here I am using a source, The Prison Policy Initiative, that is not friendly to my political views (intentionally). People of all races – blacks included – know this. They see first-hand, in many cases, how bad majority-black schools really are. Has the author ever been to Detroit? Washington DC (outside the nice parts)? There is a wealthy black family in my neighborhood. I was told, in polite language, that they left the ghetto they grew up in for good reason. Deep down, blacks know this is true. This is after spending in Detroit schools was elevated to near the highest spending per student in the country. The supposed-racists threw a lot of money at this problem. I suppose they are still guilty, though, right?

Either the statistics are true, and blacks commit crimes at a much higher per-capita rate than any other ethnicity in America, or a lot of people are being falsely convicted. As in most of them. The latter is not very likely. Now, argue all you want on why these things are true. But do not spin this as a “people of color” thing when it clearly isn’t. It is much more specific than that. Tell me, how many of you – even Liberals who found their way here to drop me some hate mail – want to live in a majority-black neighborhood in Detroit?

I don’t call myself a white ally. I’m involved in anti-racist work, but I don’t call myself an anti-racist white. And that’s because that is for people of color to decide, whether in any given moment I’m behaving in anti-racist ways. And notice that that keeps me accountable. It’s for them to determine if in any given moment—it’s not a fixed location—I haven’t made it or arrived. …

Again she tells us that only the accuser’s perspective matters. This is a recipe for complete submission.

Read the rest if you like. But now let’s compare to another piece, this one recommended by Fr. Brendon Laroche. The title is instructive: Liberalism Is Failing Because It Rejected Orthodox Christianity. This piece is a reflection on a book The Lost History of LiberalismFull disclosure, I have not read this book, I have only read the rebuttal. But that in itself is interesting enough. Let’s begin.

A similar sense of gloom hovers over Helena Rosenblatt’s recent book, The Lost History of Liberalism. Rosenblatt presents her work as a history of those who have called themselves liberal through the centuries. More accurately described, however, it is her attempt to redefine liberalism’s founding in order to rescue it from the worrisome future toward which it seems to be headed. Liberalism was founded on commitments to duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and the other virtues that guide humanity’s use of freedom, she notes. But contemporary liberals are trading their birthright for an untenable pottage of rights talk and anarchic freedom that lacks solid grounding.

Rosenblatt foresees disaster at the end of that path, and her book is a call from within the liberal tradition to turn back. That alone is worth a cheer.

Indeed, I do welcome liberals who are willing to point out the flaws in liberalism to talk. There are flaws in conservatism, Libertarianism, and other Right-ish beliefs. I will readily admit them. Indeed, a friend of mine who is more Rightist than I am (he absolutely knows who he is) has frequently pointed out where I and others become too tribal in Rightist thinking. Certainly, it has irritated me on occasion, but he is correct to do this. That is Proverbs 27:17 at work. Also, Tom Kratman has frequently challenged my foundations as well, something I do appreciate quite sincerely. And so I do understand that it takes a certain measure to critique your own belief systems at this level. Let’s continue.

Rosenblatt’s central claim, however, is that the word “liberalism” has a strong historical connection to moral virtue. Although virtue has fallen into obscurity in contemporary liberalism, Rosenblatt argues that it needs to be recovered because it is essential to the liberal project.

I am not so certain of this. The idea of the Classical Liberal is a more Rightish thing. But again, I haven’t read her book, so I would need to see the claim in more specificity, and certainly the terms have been muddied and poorly-defined for some time, now. Nonetheless there is some kind of truth to this in the more modern sense. Liberals today are quite obsessed with signalling moral virtue. So it is possible their thought-lineage originates from a place where the moral virtue was more than just a mere signalling of tribal membership and a sort of assumed humility contest. Perhaps over time, the real moral virtue was replaced with the false one. It’s plausible, at least.

There follows a lot of exposition and rebuttals of Rosenblatt’s claim, which I will skip over for purposes of this post, but do give it a read. It is important.

Continental liberals believed that republican self-rule required the people to be educated in moral and civic virtue. In fact, at least in the early years, they seem to have agreed on little else. For many years, liberalism in France and Germany was a grab bag of political projects and policies. Still, these liberals always shared a commitment to republican forms of government founded on a civic virtue inculcated in the populace. They distrusted or even opposed pure democracy as little more than mob rule (although they recognized, especially thanks to Tocqueville, the inevitability of democracy’s rise). Only virtuous citizens, they reasoned, could navigate between the extremes of reactionary royalism and radical democratic revolution. A combination of democratic institutions with the more aristocratic emphasis on virtue would ennoble democracy and prevent the return of the exhausted ancien régime.

But how are citizens to be fitted with the virtue that republican government requires? This question brings us to the second important contribution of this book, and its most curious feature. Liberals concluded that the answer to this question was religion—Christianity, to be specific. Not the Christianity of the Catholic Church, which liberals regarded as the problem; and not the Christianity of orthodox Protestants, either: they, too, had often sided against democratic forces during the French Revolution. Early liberals needed a new theology for the new man at the dawn of a new age.

Here it is worth pausing to note what happened. Titanic figures in liberalism’s history, such as Benjamin Constant, explicitly asserted that liberal forms of government would stand or fall on the success of religion’s moralizing force. For liberalism, religion became good because of its usefulness for politics and not because of its truth. Liberalism instrumentalized religion, subverting it to “higher” political purposes.

Here is where things get interesting. Note that at the end we are given the idea, by the author of the article, that Liberalism used religion in a cynical manner. Voltaire famously encapsulated this with his quotation: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” The full text of the verse it appears in is below:

If the heavens, stripped of his noble imprint,
Could ever cease to attest to his being,
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
Let the wise man announce him and kings fear him.
Kings, if you oppress me, if your eminencies disdain
The tears of the innocent that you cause to flow,
My avenger is in the heavens: learn to tremble.
Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed.

Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed. If we account him a Liberal – and I’m not sure that makes sense in a modern context, but let’s provisionally entertain the idea that Liberal thought-lineage descended from something like this for a moment – this would mean that Liberalism found Christianity useful, possibly irrespective of whether or not it was true. Why is that? And, more interestingly, why would modern Liberals abandon this notion and, quite frequently, scoff at the “stupid Sky Wizard believers” and their antiquated, and potentially racist notions?

I wonder – and this is personal speculation – if it isn’t because Christianity posits that God knows your heart. He knows if your charity is sincere, or if it is for personal status signalling. He knows your intentions. If the author of the White Fragility piece believed in a neutral arbiter who knew your heart, your true intentions, that would change things, wouldn’t it? If her intentions are bad, God knows! And if the accused racist had good intentions, He knows that too! The avenger in the heavens, as Voltaire phrased it, is ready to deliver his righteous fury.

Consider the possibility that belief in God restrained Liberals from doing too much “good” in the name of moral virtue, and shamed those who “sounded the trumpets before them” as in Matthew 6:2. A useful creed indeed!

Rosenblatt’s discernment of this remarkable turn may be the most valuable contribution of the book, yet she does not emphasize it. In fact, she discusses liberalism’s treatment of religion in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the text for the reader to assemble for herself. The upshot of these disconnected observations is that one of liberalism’s greatest successes was to domesticate Christianity, very cleverly, to make it safe for liberal politics. Instead of violently confronting Christian believers, or co-opting Christian figures (tactics that had been tried throughout history by Roman emperors, medieval kings, Enlightenment democrats, and countless others), liberalism colonized Christianity itself.

Bingo! I don’t know that modern Christianity’s essence would be all that recognizable to Christians a thousand years ago because of this colonization. Certainly many of the rituals and catechisms would be recognizable. In fact, as I study Catholicism I am surprised by how little has changed, in that respect. But step outside the trappings of the faith for a moment and look at it from a cultural perspective.

I read a piece many years ago which I tried very hard to find today, but failed. Nonetheless, perhaps a reader of mine may have more success. It was about a historian studying the Black Madonna in France. He discussed the Christianity that created it. How Christ as a baby was wise, but harsh. This wasn’t a happy child, this was the child with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Madonna was a hard woman, focused. Brave. The culture of the time was forged in dirt, grime, and war. Their Christianity was illiberal. The Madonna of later periods was soft, the baby Jesus more child-like (though never fully so). The resilience and hardness was lost. In the end, the historian, who had been contemplating conversion to Catholicism, decided he did not care much for the softer modern church, though he noted the older church might have won him over.

I don’t know how true it really is, as it was one man’s anecdote (though the style changes of the Madonna over time lends itself somewhat to his position) and in this portion I am rambling a bit. But again, it strikes me as plausible that the form of nascent Liberalism present during the Enlightenment did indeed colonize Christianity, and to some extent change its essence in some fashion.

But one group of liberals deliberately set out to remake Christianity from within by developing a radical, new theology, new interpretations of scripture, new publications, and new churches. They succeeded remarkably in gaining adherents. Instead of trying to convert people overnight from Catholicism or orthodox Protestantism to secular humanism and its “pure light of reason” (as French historian Edgar Quinet called it), political liberals used liberal Protestantism as a halfway point from which to pry Christians away from dogma.

Now I don’t know how much of this occurred in Voltaire’s time, but this is definitely true of modern Liberalism, which has overridden tradition and dogma in many churches, including some particularly noteworthy examples like openly gay bishops and pro-abortion views from some churches (here’s an example).

The novelty of the liberal approach was the way it changed the Church from within, via its theology. Today’s young Christians practice what sociologist Christian Smith has described as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” a faith whose history stretches back to the French and German thinkers of the early liberal movement. They developed a new method to bring Christianity to heel and shore up liberal politics, simultaneously.

I’ve spoken on this matter before. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a very watered down descendant of Christianity, though not really a form of Christianity itself. Consider it as an intermediate stage between fedora-equipped “brights” and skin-suited churches like the mainline Episcopalians.

They retained the parts of Christianity that spurred people to improve themselves and inculcate civic virtues, but sheared off the strong doctrinal claims that divided society and relativized the state’s authority. They wanted a religion that fitted their practical, political aims. The German Johann Semler coined the term “liberal theology” in 1774 to describe a way of reading the Bible that persuaded him (and other scholars) that Christianity’s core was moral, not dogmatic.

Here is where this piece connects to the first fisk. You see, from dogma – and my instruction in Catholicism – I have clearly-outlined duties, and there are clearly-outlined consequences for failing in them. There is a success condition, and repentance, and forgiveness. Modern Liberalism lacks all of these mechanisms. The White Fragility author talks of microaggressions as if they were grave offenses. Why? Because she lacks a success condition. She must always find new and ever more granular expressions of racism, because she has no defined success condition, nor does she appear to desire one (consciously, anyway).

The accused are guilty, and they are always guilty, and they can never not be guilty. There is no forgiveness. Repentance doesn’t matter, because your intentions don’t matter. Her desired definition for racism is, in effect, Original Sin, except lacking all of the dogmatic success conditions upon which your sins can be forgiven, and you can be made whole. She wants to define the word racism this way. But you can find similar arguments on sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc…

There is no set of duties to absolve you of the guilt. The guilt is forever, and constant, and neither your intentions (which are dismissed as irrelevant) nor your actions (you’re still subconsciously racist) absolve you.

What was designed as a political-theological project to modernize religion and moderate democratic politics has proven to be exceedingly fragile. The liberal political settlement is rapidly fraying, and its theological component has collapsed.

One can easily sympathize with Rosenblatt’s anxiety over the future of the liberal project, which once seemed so promising. However, because she overlooks the most important implications of her work, she misdiagnoses the root cause of the failure of liberalism: its rejection of the kind of Christianity on which it depends. From its earliest days, some of its strongest proponents have recognized that liberalism on its own lacks the resources to form the kind of citizens it requires.

Voltaire was wise enough to understand that, whatever his belief system really was at its core, he still needed God at some level. Humanity still needed God. Nietzsche told us that God was dead, and by implication, that it was the Enlightenment that killed Him. For one, I believe God is still there, but even independent of that thought, the first wave of the Enlightenment did not try such a deed. That was for the successors in the Liberal tradition to attempt.

And where they have succeeded, where they have stripped away the divine, removed dogma, and destroyed the success conditions upon our moral duties, they have left us with only an invented moral preening, a virtue signalling so bereft of meaning and utility it must openly rewrite our very own language to disguise its nature as futile nonsense. It features no redemption, no hope of success. Ray Bradbury warned us of the Autumn People, that they would “frenzy forth”, and now I take his meaning. They have no purpose but to signal their status, but in this they whip themselves into a frenzy. Cut those racist dreadlocks, white boy. You are guilty. We need no trial, no defense. Only the accusation ever mattered, and even there, the intent is meaningless.

One SJW explained that Elon Musk was a racist because he launched his car into space and didn’t spend the money on Flint’s water supply, as if it was his duty to attend to such matters, and not that of another, like say the duly elected government charged with the job. Why could she make such an absurd claim, and why would it stick with many Lefties? Because they have no success condition, no list of moral duties, nothing to benchmark anything against. Only accusations, which are proof of guilt, matter at all.

You, dear reader, did you donate all of your wealth to some Liberal political cause? No? You are guilty! All it takes is one accusation!

Sound your moral trumpets before you, for surely you are holier than thou, yes?

Ask a modern Liberal: “what duties must I fulfill, upon which I may be judged as having satisfied my moral responsibility?” Most will respond with vague platitudes. Save the world from Climate Change (I can’t do this, supposing their notion of what this means is even true), end racism (they told me this can categorically never happen), etc, etc… Their lack of dogma leads them to wander a twisted moral landscape with no compass, no grounding, until they are spouting absurdities about tri-gender gay 3 year olds, because somebody, somewhere, accused someone who was against it of unforgivable sin. Remember, only the accusation matters.

Liberalism disconnected with Christianity over time. And the more it did so, the more it lost that grounding. Almost none of it remains today. As such, we are all sinners – that is the one point which survived the ideological culling – but there is no redemption to be had. The guilt is forever, racist.

The misery of such an existence is hard to fathom. For the first time in a long time, I almost pity them.

The Ocasio-Cortez Amnesia Effect

Francis posted a series of links yesterday (give it at least a quick glance – the titles alone will give you the gist) and suggested that they were thematically unified. This theme is apparent to anyone with eyes to see, yet when I’ve challenged Leftists on events like these in the past, they always have a rationale for why what we all see is not true.

When Donald Trump exclaimed that his choice of fast food for the Clemson team was good American food, Paul Krugman replied with a snarky tweet saying that Burger King was owned by a Brazilian company. This received thousands of likes and retweets from Leftists who, presumably, felt that Krugman had just demonstrated how stupid Trump was.

Yet, Burger King is American food. There is nothing more American than the hamburger, especially in fast food form. When you track the ownership, Burger King’s parent company RGI is 51% owned by 3G Capital, an international investment company with two headquarters, one in Brazil, and the other in New York. Krugman thinks this somehow alters the character of the food. So, since this investment company operates partly out of Brazil, does Paul Krugman think Burger King counts as Brazilian food, then? Clearly not. It’s a lie designed to score points.

The rationalization of Krugman’s statement is a way to deny the fundamental truth. Leftists are experts at this tactic. They deny the fundamental characteristics of a thing, and embrace the ephemeral in an effort to bend political realities their way.

Trump was right, Krugman was being a pathetic stooge. A 3 year old could detect the difference.

Getting back to the list Francis provided for us, each is part of a greater whole: a sort of declaration “actually, what you see and hear isn’t true, you should believe what we say instead” espoused by the Left.

The home invader is an “unwanted house visitor.” Give me a break. This redefinition has to stop. It continues because we permit it to continue. “We” being people on the Right, often enough. We assume good motives, because we ourselves possess them, often enough. This is a mistake. The other day, I spoke of an example wherein a Leftist tried to equate the probability of political violence to that of a meteor that causes a mass extinction event.

This isn’t just being slippery with your definitions, it is being brazenly dishonest, or more charitably, incredibly idiotic.

Burger King Hamburgers aren’t American, Krugman claims, because Burger King is, through a couple levels of corporate layering, partly owned by a company that’s half-based out of another country? Lolwut?

You can’t make this stuff up.

Francis’s list encompasses some of the more ridiculous examples of this behavior, but understand this: Leftists are constantly doing this. Many times they are being more obtuse and less obvious about it. Still, it’s going on.

Michael Crichton’s Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect operates similarly. Pick a subject you are expert in (it could be anything), that you know from head-to-toe. Read news articles and watch television broadcasts about this subject. Note how utterly wrong and off-base the media is. Yet, knowing this, many still believe the media when they bloviate about something else.

A similar effect exists for this Leftist propensity of redefining things to suit their argument. And yet, the next time you encounter one, you treat him as if he’s sincere? Bad idea, folks.

I’m thinking maybe we could name this the Ocasio-Cortez Amnesia Effect. Same concept. Different group of dishonest Leftists.

If you debate Leftists, carefully examine their premises. Look at their definitions, what they consider to be the essence of a thing. Odds are, you’re going to find some redefinition going on. Once, a Leftist tried to tell me that the Confederacy was just as bad as the Third Reich, because both tried to genocide an entire race. This was news to me. Don’t sign me up for the Confederate race relations fan club, certainly. Yet they did not genocide blacks. Our intrepid Leftist began a long string of legal rambling, starting with some UN boilerplate, to suggest that genocide and slavery are really the same things.

Like Krugman, he was saying that Burger King is really a Brazilian restaurant.

This concept ties into Artificial Intelligence efforts, which have yet to deal with a very specific problem. Software may be written that is very dynamic, that can learn. You can show the software, for instance, 5,000 pictures of deciduous trees, and eventually it learns (to a reasonable level of accuracy) that which is probably a tree. But then you show it a coniferous tree, and it will not recognize it as also being a tree. Now you must show thousands of additional pictures, and tell it these are all trees. Yet, show a toddler who can barely talk a picture of one tree, and he can usually make the intellectual leap. He grasps quickly the essence of what tree is.

The AI lacks the ability to extrapolate the essence of a thing. It’s a serious challenge in software development. Leftists pretend to lack this ability in order to score points. They want you to show them 5,000 Burger King hamburgers before admitting that this is fundamentally an American food. So I am withdrawing even the charity of suggesting they are stupid. They aren’t. Toddlers can do this, and they can’t? Give me a break. They know full well what they are doing. They are pretending to the stupidity if called out on their lies.

Remember the Ocasio-Cortez Amnesia Effect. Really, I should have called it the Paul Krugman Burger Effect, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? Anyway, she does it too. They all do it.

Statistical Bullshit

One of the fascinating claims I’ve heard lobbed around political debates on social media is this: “women never lie about rape/sexual assault.” This is sometimes qualified or modified to be “women rarely lie about rape/sexual assault.” That happens most often when someone brings up something like the Duke Lacrosse case, or something like this. If challenged, the Leftist (this is claim is most common among them) will attempt to back up the statement with statistics like this bit of research conducted by Stanford. The meat of the study is that only 2% of rape accusations are proven to be false.

At first glance, this would appear to support the Leftist assertion. But it really doesn’t. First off, while I cannot verify Stanford’s claims, let’s operate under the assumption that the stats are true. Here’s another statistic you may or may be aware of. According to RAINN, out of 310 reports made to the police (i.e. accusations), only 11 cases are referred to prosecutors, and only 7 result in felony convictions. This means that only about 2% of rape/sexual assault accusations are proven true.

What does this mean, if all these stats are true? It means that 96% of rape cases are indeterminate. We don’t know if the accuser is lying, or if the accused is guilty. Neither is proven true.  Furthermore, given the fact that human memory is not infallible, and that human interpretation/perception can result in one participant believing it is a rape and the other believing it is not, there are permutations where both are speaking truthfully. There was some speculation to this effect with Kavanaugh, especially given that the alleged incident was both 36 years old, and involved copious amounts of alcohol.

In other words, the Leftists are either lying or are ignorant of the facts. Fact is, rape accusations are proven to be lies at roughly the same rate as they are proven to be true, but the vast majority are unproven either way.

That puts a different spin on the notion, doesn’t it? That means, if there is no supporting evidence, you may as well flip a coin as to whether or not the accusation is bullshit, and whether or not the accused is actually a rapist. A coin flip doesn’t support destroying a man’s reputation.

And that’s what all this is about. By claiming that rape accusations are rarely falsified, the Leftist is implying this is itself a form of evidence. The Leftist is saying, without having to actually back up the claim, that the accusation means there is now a 98% chance of the accused being a rapist. It is a tacit method of getting around the presumption of innocence.

The whole thing is flimsy rhetoric. It’s a bald-faced fallacy. The accusation doesn’t change the actual odds. Either the rape happened, or it did not. Consider also that, even if the Leftists were right about a 2% lie rate, it doesn’t take into account that humans cannot be governed by anything like the Kinetic Theory of Gasses. Asimov was wont to speculate on the possibility that such analysis was possible, that a psychohistory could be made to work. It cannot. Think about it very carefully. If you’re a woman who hates a particular man, for whatever reason, and you know that people will say only 2% of rape accusations are lies, you can intentionally and cynically use this to make the man look guilty. People are willful, and can defy the statistics whenever they choose to do so. Statistics do not govern individual actions. And even Asimov said in Foundation that psychohistory could only work if people were unaware of its application, and so could not willfully sabotage it (that happened anyway in Foundation & Empire).

Using statistics on the accuracy of accusations to determine probability of individual guilt is thus a category error to begin with. I’ve been very confused with people treating it as if this had any meaning whatsoever. Guilt or innocence is independent of accusation. People aren’t molecules in a cloud of gas. Probability and statistics has some utility with large human groups as a whole, but psychohistory does not exist, and the accuracy of the generalization does not apply to the individual in any case. These things are not hard to understand, and yet everywhere I look, people are thinking about this thing backwards.

 

Feminists, and the Motte & Bailey

Going through my old posts this morning, I was reminded of this one, from a year and a half ago: RedFems, Cenobites, and the Lament Configuration. It was probably the darkest post I’ve ever penned on The Declination. But it remains quite poignant.

Go on social media, and you will see SJWs telling us that Nazis are everywhere, that they are evil, and foul, and legion. They are in the White House, they are on Youtube, they are on Twitter, they are in Video Games. Nazis, everywhere. And so they march out into the streets, the Black Bloc, Antifascists engaging in what Tom Kratman calls a bit of political theater (not unlike Fascists once did).

But at the end of a long week of fighting the cisnormative heteropatriarchy, they come to be beaten by men dressed as Nazis, to the gritty beats of loud Industrial music in the depths of an Industrial park.

And what’s more, RadFems have come to resemble these very same Cenobites, covered in piercings, dyes, and tattoos, such that the difference between Hellraiser’s Pinhead and the average denizen of Slut Walk is minimal at best.

Radical Feminism is a death cult, both figuratively and literally. In their man-hating quest, they are, in effect, arguing for the voluntary extinction of humanity. Oh, it never starts out that way. It’ll start out in an argument about equality. It’s a traditional example of the Motte and Bailey Doctrine.

Motte: “Feminism is about equality, it is about women having the same rights as men, it is about better relations between the sexes!”

Okay, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Bailey: “Now DIE cis male scum! #KillAllMen #YesAllMen Lol @ Male Tears. Men so fragile.”

Hmmm. Maybe I don’t like this Feminism thing.

One of my favorite tech outlets, Hard[OCP], had a quick commentary on Riot Game, and some of their employees vigorously defending an event at PAX West that excluded “cis men.”

League of Legends developer Riot Games has fired at least one longtime employee for defending a PAX West event exclusive to women and “non-binary” people: systems designer Daniel Klein, who revealed he was terminated for “violating social policy,” had evidently upset his employer by calling complainants on r/leagueoflegends “manbabies” and comparing the subreddit to a “toxic landfill.” Communications associate Mattias Lehman is also out for having similar views.

It’s fascinating to note that a white man is, in essence, defending his own exclusion in the name of inclusion and diversity. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Diversity has become an idol to these people. A golden calf before which all good sense is sacrificed. It is heresy to even question the belief. No, it is worse. It is heretical to even be insufficiently enthusiastic about it.

In any event, if somebody created a male-only event, the Feminist shrieking would probably be heard even in the vacuum of space. That some individuals (probably not all of them men, either) would even critique this is considered worthy of collectively referring to them as a “toxic landfill” and as “manbabies”.

The Motte and Bailey Doctrine is a perennial favorite of the Left. A frequent detractor of mine who used to comment here on immigration matters would often explain that he wasn’t an open borders supporter. But then he argued for no restrictions on immigration, no refugee screening unless it was purely a formality, no border wall, and no deportation of illegals. It was a de facto open borders policy without having to suffer the social and political penalty of being truthful about his aims.

Motte: “We just want to be humane, and make sure these poor people are helped, and show empathy to fellows of different races and creeds.”

Okay, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Bailey: “If you support a border wall you’re a racist, whiteness so fragile, #YesAllWhitePeople. Fuck Whiteness. The future of America is brown, and you better get used to it!”

Hmmm. On second thought, no thanks.

Radical Feminism is an example of the Motte and Bailey Doctrine writ large. They want to exclude men, they want to replace men, they want to hold down men, and at its most extreme adherents want to imprison or exterminate them. They want revenge for perceived injustices to women. But even most women would find this abhorrent, and so they fortify themselves in the Motte when stating their views publicly. The Bailey is for social media and friendly media. But still, it is not difficult to find.

Go back to my first piece, though. You will find something very interesting – an observation that has stuck with me over the years. Red pill sites often refer to a concept known as “shit-testing”. A woman may periodically test a potential (or existing) mate for fitness. She might cop an attitude or be bitchy, even if you don’t really deserve it. What she really wants is confirmation that you’re not a total wuss, can stand up for yourself, and thus are worthy company for her.

This is neither good or bad. It simply is. This exists outside of manosphere context, too, in the phrase ‘testy’. Regardless, it happens, and most women I know will admit that they do this from time-to-time. It’s about as normal as men being generally boorish and staring too long at a nice pair of boobs.

What happens, though, when you fail a shit test? No, when all of society fails thousands of shit tests? What happens when women don’t just suspect, but know that most men are wusses, worthless, and completely unable to stand up to them in any way whatsoever?

I’d suspect it would look something like what we see today. Feminists running roughshod over men who aren’t even sure if they are men any longer. Wil Wheaton is their role model, instead of Conan the Barbarian.

Women on the Right generally don’t act this way, but I suspect this is because men on the Right generally aren’t sniveling wusses who, like Daniel Klein, gleefully extol the virtues of their own exclusion and abject submission. In other words, Rightist men are probably more likely to pass a shit test.

The key, then, is to recognize the Motte & Bailey when it occurs, and to tear down the Bailey, and pay very close attention to the Motte, in case it spawns another Bailey in its place or retakes its previous position. It also means being unafraid to challenge the protestations of women, or other various “oppressed” groups, even if you pay a social penalty for the same.

Leftist politics in general is all about the Motte and Bailey, these days. Using oppressed/minority status as a way to deflect criticism away from the Bailey and toward the stronger Motte is a tactic that has paid dividends for them, despite its fundamentally dishonest nature. It’s also a shit test, and if the West doesn’t pass the shit test… more barbaric societies will.

Put another way, deprived of positive masculinity, women will seek out the negative, barbaric variety over sniveling wusses and ‘my gender is an Oscar Mayer hot dog’ folks. And we can’t blame them for this. After all, what would men do if the only options were ugly hags who hated men, and hot – but dangerous – uncivilized barbarian women? The result would be much the same, I think. It should be noted that Feminism may eventually accomplish that, too. It certainly has multiplied the number of man-hating ugly hags, in any event.

The Myth of Equality

This post just kind of popped into my head this afternoon after some rather hefty reading. There is an absolutely immense misunderstanding of the concept of equality, and it infects every level of our society down to the educational cartoons for preschoolers, or reaching as high as the summit of world political power.

Equality in humans categorically and completely does not exist. Nor can it ever exist. It is an utter impossibility short of every single human being being an identical clone of every other, with identical experiences and memories. In short, impossible.

Humans are not equally tall, or equally beautiful, equally good or equally evil. They do not possess the same intelligence, the same ambitions, the same passions or the same desires. They do not have the same wants, the same memories, or the same experiences.

This has created two concepts that should be mutually exclusive. The “special snowflake” syndrome, and the myth that equality is not only possible, but desirable too. The SJW will spout some boilerplate about diversity and everyone being special, and then relate it to absolute equality. Consider a catchphrase in the “body positive” movement. “All bodies are beautiful.”

No. They aren’t. The implication is that if a woman is skinny, obese, tall, short, curvy or otherwise, she is equally attractive as every other woman. Reduced to a logical construct, they are saying “difference = same.” It is nonsense. Word salad. It means absolutely nothing, save for an intense desire for people to feel equal when they are not equal, and for politeness to be determined by how much you go along with their delusions.

SJWs are obsessed with this contradiction. It infects every level of their thinking. Yes, they may acknowledge indirectly, people are different. But if you say this out loud you are a racist/sexist/whatever. Or if you imply that the differences are anything but superficial, you are rude. Impolite. Politically incorrect.

It is ridiculous, and it stems from a misinterpretation (probably deliberate on the part of outright Marxists) of two concepts that are fundamental to Western civilization: equality before the law and equality before God. Yes, like it or not, Social Justice is like a Christian heresy, stripped of God, stripped of the divine, and shaped into an ugly, evil parody.

Let’s look at the Declaration of Independence for a moment:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Did the founders mean that all men are the same? That “all bodies are beautiful”, metaphorically speaking? No. The context of this was within an implied legal framework of basic rights. All men have equal rights granted by God, and a government is unjust if it seeks to deprive a man of these God-given rights. Among these rights are life (I’m not allowed to murder you), liberty (I’m not allowed to compel you by force to do my bidding), and the pursuit of happiness (you can try to find it – whether or not you get it is up to you).

This level of equality is both the basis for a legal framework limiting the power of government, and a reference to the fact that we all have souls; that God may judge them. God, being omniscient, can be an absolute neutral arbiter of justice, having all the facts, and thus may treat us with absolute equality. No man could ever do this, though justice is often better served by man at least making a passing attempt at neutrality (hence the concept of justice being blind).

This has absolutely no bearing on whether or not people are equally beautiful, smart, tall, short, talented, good, evil, or anything else. Equality of those types is not only impossible, any attempt to force them into being (still impossible to achieve) will, in turn, violate the God-given rights referenced in the Declaration of Independence.

Yet for some reason even admitting that you notice differences in people beyond the superficial (and even that, sometimes) is considered beyond the taboo, the most rude and evil a man can possibly be. “What, you don’t think I’m equally hot as the woman voted sexiest woman of the world? YOU SEXIST! ALL BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL!”

This extends to wordplay all the time. Use of the word “retarded” has been banned by polite society even when used as a biological description. Indeed, the manuals themselves have been altered to remove the word. Instead we use a variety of stealth codewords for the same thing. He is “special” or “touched”. Yet those, too, have now absorbed the meaning of “retarded”. Shall we ban them, too? Or, perhaps, can we stop with this nonsense? We don’t have to pretend a retarded person is equally intelligent as a non-retarded person. It simply isn’t so.

None of this, and I reiterate in bold letters, none of thishas any implication whatsoever on your value before God, the value of your soul, the worth of your being. No man is fit to judge these things. Only God may do so. A retarded man is no more or less valuable before God than I am. This is because God knows all, God can judge us accordingly.

But beyond that, there is no equality. You, dear reader, may be smarter than I, or not. You may be better looking, or less attractive. You may be taller, shorter, more emotional or more rational. You may be stronger or weaker, faster or slower. We are not equal, and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that. That is as it should be. That is how we were meant to be.

Pretending otherwise changes nothing about who we are, and the notion that we must pretend in order to be polite, and that impoliteness is worthy of political purging from society is pure evil. It is so evil that, so far as I know, widespread adoption of this behavior almost always results in heaps of dead bodies. Whenever people are not only encouraged to lie, both to themselves and to the world, but made to lie by force, it categorically must result in mass graves.

For how shall you compel the honest man to lie, if not through threat of death? And how is he supposed to believe you are sincere about dealing death if you have not dealt it before? After all, you have already demonstrated that you are a liar.

Beyond all this, SJWs expect you to finish the Orwellian conclusion that 2+2=5. That smart is stupid, that tall is short, and that all bodies are equally beautiful. Their whole heretical religion is based on the premise of seemingly-polite, nonsensical lies.

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