Well, I picked an interesting time to step away from blogging and get some work done… We had three major events occur in quick succession.
First off, an Islamic terrorist did something I had been warning people about for years: he used a truck to bowl over as many people as he possibly could. I used to explain to people in debates on matters of gun control that plenty of weapons were available for mass killings even supposing a gun ban could work. My usual example was that a semi-truck could be driven into a populated place, and be used to kill as many (or more) than any AR-15 could. I didn’t intend for a terrorist to take the idea seriously.
But now the question is, will the Left demand an end to the easy sales and rentals of assault trucks?
Shortly thereafter, we had Black Lives Matter inspire another ambush of police officers. This time the nutcase responsible for it was clearly a Black Lives Matter supporter, and had repeatedly posted anti-white and anti-cop slogans all over his Twitter feed. His motivations are laid bare for us to see. TheRalph dissects the man’s motivations and connections to Black Lives Matter here. One of the interesting things to note, however, is that one of the three murdered cops was black.
Remember, Black Lives only Matter if they are thugs, and if they have a long records. Black cops, of course, are fair game. So are the blacks routinely killed in urban enclaves from Chicago to DC. Those lives clearly don’t matter to the protesters.
And lastly we had an attempted coup, or at least what looked vaguely like one, attempted in Turkey. On this matter I have little to add, except to note that Tom Kratman has covered the topic much better than I could. He suspects a degree of foreknowledge on the part of Erdogan, and I cannot help but agree. As someone of Armenian ancestry, I cannot say I’m exactly in the Turkish fan club, but it must be noted that a secular Turkey under the shade of Kemalism is somewhat preferable to a radical Islamist Turkey. Especially if one considers the NATO angle.
Can you imagine being pulled in support of a radical Islamist agenda because of NATO? Erdogan has always been something of a tyrant-in-waiting, but now it appears the waiting is coming to an end, and the tyrant will soon be laid bare.
I feel bad for the Greeks. The EU has screwed them from both angles.
I had to think long and hard about tackling this particular subject, because Tom Nichols is a smart man and I often agree with what he has to say. Even in this, there are some points of agreement. I’ve long noted the dumbing down of America, most poignantly demonstrated in the under-appreciated film Idiocracy. When Tom speaks of the death of expertise, he is commenting on a phenomenon that is real, pervasive, and at least partially responsible for the mess America finds herself in. After all, if the average voter is a complete moron, should we be surprised when he votes for morons to represent him?
Yet, Tom and I got into a bit of a flame war on Twitter surrounding this issue. It started when the 911 transcripts for the Orlando shooting were released with the now-famous [omitted] redactions plastered throughout. Now, as my readers are aware, I have a very personal interest in the Orlando shooting. So I found this transcript rather insulting. Even the idiots Tom is wont to rant about are likely able to make the connections the redactions were supposed to suppress. The government wasn’t fooling anybody, but they did demonstrate just how little they think of the American people.
Even the redneck from Podunk is likely to understand that much. I suggested that they ought to release the 911 transcript without such redactions, and release any other such materials that were not classified. Daylight, I said, was the best disinfectant for terrorism. Tom vehemently disagreed with me, and framed the resulting argument as a sort of anti-intellectualism. The flame war continued for awhile, and some choice words were exchanged. I won’t get into it here, but you can view it on my Twitter account, from a couple of days ago, if you wish.
One of the things that struck me as odd, however, was that Tom explicitly trusted the intelligence community to handle this matter. He stated as much, likening my suspicion of them to desiring a random layman to pilot an airplane. Yet therein lies the problem with Tom’s argument. I trust the pilot not merely because he has credentials, but because the safety record for commercial airline travel is impeccable. You are far more likely to die driving a car, than in an airline crash.
So unless the pilot is shouting “Allahu Akbar” I have little reason to doubt him. On matters of intelligence analysis, however, we have more reason to doubt. In this specific instance, the Orlando shooting, the FBI had been watching him for some time. He had been on and off of terror watchlists. A gun store reported him as suspicious, also. The analysts categorically failed with him.
Furthermore, the Obama administration often characterizes right-wing terrorism as the grave threat which America faces. Is this a failure of intelligence, or just a failure on the part of the chief executive? I don’t know, but it’s worth investigating. Other intelligence failures abound. Everything from Benghazi, to 9/11, to the Iraq war indicate failures in intelligence.
And, apart from those failures, it’s worth noting that even if you accept the expertise of the government in these matters, that doesn’t mean you trust their motives. The airline pilot and his passengers have no conflict of interest, generally speaking. All involved desire that the plane land safely at its destination (the rare suicidal pilot being the noted exception). So, with the documented safety record of commercial airline travel being good, his credentials and expertise, and with the alignment of our interests, I am pleased to trust the pilot.
That does not mean I should trust the government experts. Their interests do not necessarily align with mine. The government has a record filled with intelligence failures. The administration is on record saying the most blatantly untrue things, be it either out of ignorance or malice (or both). So, while I am not an intelligence expert, I do have good reason not to trust them. If you hire an electrician to fix your breaker box, and after he leaves the breakers keep tripping, you know that he failed, even if you don’t necessarily know what, specifically, he did wrong.
Tom explains his view for us:
I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. By this, I do not mean the death of actual expertise, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other specialists in various fields. Rather, what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live.
This is a very bad thing. Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.
To some extent, I agree with his first statement, that there are all too many people who will think themselves knowledgeable on a thing merely because they looked it up on Wikipedia. I tire of them. I have spent much of my adult life studying Byzantine history, and I once found myself in a debate regarding the Pirenne Thesis, a theory put forth by Henri Pirenne in the 1930s regarding the then-innovative idea that it wasn’t the Germans who were responsible for the Fall of Rome, but rather the Arabs. Several of us educated on matters of Byzantine history were discussing the finer points of the thesis when a Wiki-idiot decided to butt in and explain that Wikipedia said the Roman Empire fell in 476, and Arabs didn’t come until later, so we were all wrong.
To say I wanted to throttle this person until his head popped was an understatement. It didn’t help that his proclamation was followed by the sort of Jon Stewart smugness such people are naturally inclined to. So in this, I understand and agree with Tom completely.
It is the second paragraph where Tom starts to go awry. He declares: “…and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.”
Here’s the thing, they do have a right to their opinion. If someone wants to ignore the advice of his doctor, and go get acupuncture treatment instead, that’s his right. Indeed, perhaps a little natural selection might improve the gene pool. Even the smug Wiki-idiot who interrupted our discussion on Byzantine history had a right to his opinion.
In politics, too, the problem has reached ridiculous proportions. People in political debates no longer distinguish the phrase “you’re wrong” from the phrase “you’re stupid.” To disagree is to insult. To correct another is to be a hater. And to refuse to acknowledge alternative views, no matter how fantastic or inane, is to be closed-minded.
In this, I must tell Tom that we have reached a pot, kettle, black situation. When I confronted him on his assertion about the 911 call, his approach was to frame me as being stupid for disagreeing with him. He did the very thing which he accuses others of doing. That’s okay, I still respect him. God knows I’ve gotten angry and called people morons when they didn’t deserve it, also.
Critics might dismiss all this by saying that everyone has a right to participate in the public sphere. That’s true. But every discussion must take place within limits and above a certain baseline of competence. And competence is sorely lacking in the public arena. People with strong views on going to war in other countries can barely find their own nation on a map; people who want to punish Congress for this or that law can’t name their own member of the House.
Here is where I start to peel off from what Tom is saying. He suggests that discussions must take place within certain limits. Who decides these limits? Who decides who the experts are in the first place? The Climate Change debate is a famous example where criticism is automatically shut down, because disagreement with the premise is taken to be stupidity. The sort of intellectual protectionism which Tom is suggesting here can be very easily perverted into intellectual elitism wherein alternative views are automatically dismissed because they did not originate from the properly orthodox.
There’s also that immutable problem known as “human nature.” It has a name now: it’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says, in sum, that the dumber you are, the more confident you are that you’re not actually dumb. And when you get invested in being aggressively dumb…well, the last thing you want to encounter are experts who disagree with you, and so you dismiss them in order to maintain your unreasonably high opinion of yourself. (There’s a lot of that loose on social media, especially.)
This Dunning-Kruger effect is touted widely by SJWs who, ironically, think they are smarter than they actually are. They use this notion to shut down debate. If you prove them wrong, it’s not really because they were wrong. It’s because you’re not smart enough to understand the nuance of their position. Then the Jon Stewart smugness makes its appearance, and the Wiki-idiot relishes in his imagined superiority.
No, I’m not accusing Tom of being an SJW. But he’s walking on a knife edge here. Once, in the Western world, a dreadful insult was considered worthy of a challenge to fight, often to the death. The gauntlets would be thrown, and if the challenge was not accepted, then one was considered a coward. But it was permissible for a man of high stature to ignore a man of sufficiently low stature. A great lord need not accept a challenge from a stable boy. Yet this exemption had to be used very carefully, so as to avoid the appearance of cowardice. It was better to default to accepting the challenge, unless the difference in station was demonstrably great.
So, too, must the notion of Dunning-Kruger be used carefully, and in circumstances where the other person is clearly of far lower intelligence. Do not bring it out immediately, or use it defensively.
None of this ignorance stops people from arguing as though they are research scientists. Tackle a complex policy issue with a layman today, and you will get snippy and sophistic demands to show ever increasing amounts of “proof” or “evidence” for your case, even though the ordinary interlocutor in such debates isn’t really equipped to decide what constitutes “evidence” or to know it when it’s presented. The use of evidence is a specialized form of knowledge that takes a long time to learn, which is why articles and books are subjected to “peer review” and not to “everyone review,” but don’t tell that to someone hectoring you about the how things really work in Moscow or Beijing or Washington.
Peer review is a great theory. But in practice, there are problems with it. Like all human institutions, orthodoxy can creep in, wherein questioning the accepted narrative is considered heresy. Your peers may suppress you, even if you are completely correct. In other examples, the peers may become lazy, and accept things that are clearly false merely because they haven’t bothered to thoroughly review your work.
Now, again, I’m not saying peer review is all bad, either. Rather, I suspect Tom puts too much trust in these things. One thing that any scientifically-minded person should practice is a healthy dose of skepticism. Experts can be wrong, also. Here is a professor of Byzantine Studies who wrote an error-prone book laced with falsehoods and carelessness (her arguments torn to shreds by Dr. Kelley Ross):
Herrin returns the neglect, if not the contempt, with a certain shocking carelessness for Roman history of Late Antiquity (despite her being a professor of “Late Antique” as well as Byzantine Studies). Thus, she says:
“…and the last Roman Emperor in the West was deposed in 476, leaving a half-Vandal, half-Roman general, Stilicho, in control of Italy.” [p.13]
Unfortunately, Stilicho had been assassinated in 408. Herrin is thinking of Odoacer. Similarly, she says of the original Constantine, who was proclaimed Emperor by his father’s troops in 306, that “he was not recognized by Licinius, the senior emperor in the East” [p.4]. Again, unfortunately, Licinius was not made an Emperor until 308, and he was at that point junior to Galerius (d.311) and Maximinus II Daia (d.313).
Judith Herrin was acknowledged as a credentialed expert, subject to peer review from other historians. She was also very wrong, and you categorically did not need to be an expert to understand that.
Tom recovers himself a bit in the end, though:
But when citizens forgo their basic obligation to learn enough to actually govern themselves, and instead remain stubbornly imprisoned by their fragile egos and caged by their own sense of entitlement, experts will end up running things by default. That’s a terrible outcome for everyone.
At last we get to a point I can strongly agree with. The experts running things is a bad scenario, not a good one. The fact is, there is a strain of intellectual elitism in the West, wherein those who do not run in the proper circles are dismissed arbitrarily. The technocrats determine what is best for you, and in doing so strip you of your freedom and self-determination.
The most common excuse for their removal of your rights is that people are stupid. They are so stupid, say the elites, that they must surrender control over their lives to smarter, wiser men.
Socrates would have known them for the fools they are.
But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, it shouldn’t engender insecurity or anxiety to think that an expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours. (Because, likely, it is.)
Is that the case? What if the expert decides to lie to you? Technically, in his own mind, he is correct. But he would be using his acknowledged status as an expert to hoodwink you. Politicians do this all the time. Trust us, they say, because we’re the experts. Don’t send a regular guy to Washington, send an experienced, expert politician…
An engineer or a doctor has a much harder time hiding a lie or a mistake. For if an aeronautical engineer makes a mistake, maybe a plane crashes, and people die. When a doctor does likewise, people die. When a plumber makes a mistake, the pipe bursts and your house becomes a lake. You may not know much about plumbing, but you know that he did something wrong.
Politicians, analysts, and other government cronies can hide their mistakes. They can pass off the blame. They can lie, cheat you, steal from you, and use you. So, even supposing they are competent, you still have good reason to mistrust them and to question them.
Tom takes a parting shot:
And how do I know all this? Just who do I think I am?
Well, of course: I’m an expert.
I find this one particularly amusing. There was a book I read sometime ago called Tales of New America. There was an amusing scene in the book, wherein a very attractive, intelligent, and sophisticated man finds himself being questioned by a border control guard. The man is naturally dismissive of the guard, for what else could he be but a low-level flunky? He was fat, and plain in the face. He did not use higher, educated language.
The guard books him quickly, after discovering the man’s illegal activities. The sophisticated man is confused and angry. The guard explains that, while he didn’t have the money to go to a good school or the good looks to garner a high station in life, that didn’t mean he was stupid or uneducated. Intelligent people are everywhere, and often where you least expect them.
After all, does anyone expect a club DJ to be an expert in Byzantine history? Probably not…
Be careful about underestimating people, Tom.
Many years ago, I wrote a short story about the fading of the rational world, and its replacement with the mystical. It wasn’t very well written, and to some extent I still think I am lousy at writing fiction. But the premise was a fascinating one. I would like to revisit it someday.
Anyway, the concept was that, long after a nuclear war, knowledge of the rational world was failing, becoming piecemeal and quasi-mystical. And that the universe itself bent to this notion, that humanity’s collective experience was sufficient to change the natural laws of the universe. In simple terms, the Earth was becoming a magical place. The protagonists were on a mission to find the nearly-completed spacecraft from a pre-war colonization project.
They leave just in time, escaping a fantastical Earth into the “rational” universe. When their descendants return to Earth, generations later, they find no evidence humans had ever been there at all. The two worlds — the fantastical and the rational — had split off and become inaccessible to one another. It was a play on the nature of subjectivity versus objectivity, of Free Will and Fatalism.
In any event, the recent terror attacks reminded me of this old story, and a fundamental problem at the core of how we view Islam, terror, and the war we are fighting against both. This is a war in which you have already been drafted. The enemy always gets a vote…
People say “not all Muslims” and “Islam is a religion of peace.” They prattle on about the peaceful, moderate Muslims. They will tell you of Muslim friends, or Muslim coworkers, and how great they are. The fact is, they aren’t wrong. Such Muslims exist, presumably in large numbers, even. On the other side, we discuss how terror attacks are, almost invariably, perpetrated by Muslims. The question is not if another Muslim terror attack will happen, it is merely when, and how many bodies will be produced. We talk about history, how violent Jihad destroyed the old Roman world, how Islam has perpetually had bloody borders and genocidal madmen at the fore. The fact is, this is true too.
You see, the problem isn’t the deity. The problem is the priests.
Theoretically, Allah is one and the same with the God of Moses and the father of Jesus Christ. Oh, certainly there are differences (the divinity of Christ being a big one). But still, we are supposedly worshiping the same entity, right? Why, then, all the hate between the intellectual descendants of Abraham? For one, Mohammed as illustrated in the Quran and, more appropriately, the Hadiths, was a violent, megalomaniac of a warlord.
Robert Spencer, of course, wonders if a warlord named Mohammed even existed in the first place. The Hadiths are not attested before the beginning of the eighth century. The Quran only partially so, and with clear transcription errors. We cannot know with certainty who Mohammed was, what he did, or if anything written about him is true at all. In simple terms, the leaders of the Islamic world could have fabricated him out of whole cloth, or twisted him to fit an agenda of their own making. We wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Regardless of the existence or non-existence of Mohammed himself, the word of his priests, the religious leaders of Islam, is clear: conquest and subjugation in the name of Islam. This is not a religion of peace, as is assumed, but a religion of submission — the denial of the Thomist notion of Free Will.
Perhaps, if they chose to, the priesthood of Islam, such that it is, could interpret it differently. But it steadfastly refuses to do so. And when one or another rogue reformer in the Islamic world suggests they ought to (see the Bahais and the Ahmadis) the rest of Islam tries to murder them.
The problem isn’t the people. The problem is the priests.
Imagine if nearly every Christian churchman was an intellectual disciple of the Westboro Baptists. That’s the reality of the Islamic world. Whether or not the man herding goats in the Sudan is our enemy is irrelevant. He has no power. His opinion of us is meaningless. Moderate Islam, such that exists, has no voice, no power.
And in the Muslim world, like the fantastical setting of my short story, subjective experience is reality. When a warrior loses a battle, he thinks his loss is punishment. He was insufficiently devout. He must dedicate himself more to Allah, such that next time God will grant that his bullets fly true and smite the unbelievers. So the imam comes, and tells him to follow the example of Islam set forth in the Hadiths. Then the Great Satan will be beaten.
The Thomist notion of God, that of a being who set the universe into motion, willed it into being, and then left it to unfold, is completely foreign to Islam. There is no Free Will in Islam, save for the choice to submit or die.
Such peaceful, moderate Muslims that exist are Muslims who, like many Christians, are not particularly devout. They do not think about the Quran constantly, or follow the example of Mohammed in the Hadiths. But there is guilt for this, just as there is guilt for the Catholic who rarely attends mass, or the Jew who becomes a secularist. So, on occasion, a previously “moderate” Muslim will find his calling in the exhortations of a radical imam, telling him that he must be more Muslim.
The problem isn’t the prophet. The problem is the priests.
The war between Islam and everybody else predates the founding of the religion. It predates Christianity, Rome, and probably all of written history. The conflict is an ancient one, rooted in the battle between the Fatalists and those who believe in Free Will. It is Freedom against Slavery. Sovereignty versus Submission. Islam clothed itself in the uniform of the Fatalists. It was not the first to do so, and certainly not the last (Marxists wear the uniform, likewise).
From this, you can understand the underpinnings which bind the Social Justice Warriors and Militant Marxists with the Radical Islamists: all believe history has already been written. Everything is predetermined, and everything is predicated on devotion to the cause. The priests, of course, determine precisely what devotion means. They virtue signal, they “educate” their followers on what Allah — or the historical dialectic — desires of them, that they might find Paradise.
In the West, we have a priesthood, also. But this isn’t a priesthood who answers the call of Christ. The priesthood of Marx can be found in the media talking heads, in the ivory towers of academia. Remember, insufficient devotion to Marxism is cause for expulsion. You are a heretic. Or, if you are a right-wing Christian, you are an infidel. Like in Islam, it is permissible to do whatever they want to you.
The problem isn’t bigotry. The problem is the media.
Behind all of this, the Marxists and the Islamists both believe in a sort of subjective utopia, that their devotion is alone sufficient to change the world, to bend reality itself, to change the very laws of the universe. The Muslim fighter believes that Allah will bend the bullet’s path, and smite the infidel. The Social Justice Warrior believes that humanity contains an infinite number of genders, but that race doesn’t exist (it’s a social construct). The Dialectic shall change the very biological nature of mankind himself.
Neitzsche’s ubermensch was really just a fat genderqueer lesbian wolfkin with a cornucopia of mental illnesses. The worst mass murderers in ISIS-controlled Syria are paragons of devotion to Allah, model citizens of the new Caliphate. Both are freedom fighters against the terrifyingly bigoted Christian oppressors of the world.
The problem isn’t Free Will. The problem is Fatalism.
If Free Will doesn’t exist, then there is no point to anything. That is the path to Nihilism, the path to genocide, the path to every ill which humanity has ever conceived of. For, in the end, Fatalism tells you that nothing is really your fault. You have no will. You are a victim of history, a soldier of Allah, a vessel for another power that is not-you. And not-you did the thing.
It is the shifting of blame away from self, it is the destruction of self, the annihilation of purpose. And then, once this terrifying self-destruction has taken place, the priesthood of your Fatalistic belief system of choice will remake you in their chosen image. (How can you have chosen Allah or Marx if you have no Free Will? Answer that one SJWs).
The priests make of you what they will. You are now a vessel for someone else’s beliefs, a tool wiped clean for another’s purpose, a purpose that is not your own. The priest sleeps well at night saying to himself “I didn’t kill anybody, my slave did.” And the slave sleeps well at night thinking “I didn’t kill anybody, I followed my master’s orders.” Yet the killing happened.
That is how the person saying “not all Muslims” and the person saying “Islam is the problem” can be simultaneously correct. Everybody involved thinks there is no choice. The SJW thinks terrorism is just something that happens, like a natural disaster, an act of a God they don’t believe exists. Then they will light a candle and pray to a deity they don’t believe exists either. Hearts will be chalked onto sidewalks, messages of love and peace displayed in empty ritual, as if, like in my story, the very thought will somehow change the fabric of the universe. At least the Christian believes there is probably a God at the other end of the line. The SJW believes nothing exists, yet conducts the ritual anyway, filling some deep-seated human need.
This, in a world without choice, where oppressor and victim are preordained, where original sin is heaped upon a white baby, because somebody who looked vaguely similar once did something evil. But the chosen of God, or Marx, or whatever… they are free of sin. Paradise is for them.
Just as, half a world away, Muslims will cheer the deaths of infidels and those they see as sexual deviants. It will be seen, as with all such things, as the divine wrath of Allah. The terrorist was merely the vessel through which Allah’s will was carried to the Great Satan. The chickens come home to roost. Paradise is coming. The Caliphate will be real, merely because they think it so.
In the world of Fatalism, the problem is always the priests.
Of course, whether or not the priests believe their own material is another topic altogether.
Ronald Reagan once explained the difference between a recession and a depression thusly:
“Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”
I take a similar view of the war against Islamic terror. Terrorism is when you hear on the news that somebody died, that some restaurant got blown up, or a building was destroyed, or dozens died… in some distant place. When 9/11 happened, I lived in California. It was a sad and terrible thing, but it was distant. I didn’t know any of the victims. It was all so far away.
This weekend, I didn’t hear of the terrorist attack in Orlando from the news. I didn’t see it on TV, or hear about it on the radio. I heard about it from friends who knew people in the venue. I was, that very night, right as the shooting was happened, DJing at a gay club in Tampa.
Yes, I’m a Conservative Christian guy, but I’ve DJed for the gay community for many years. They pay well, and they like my music. And they have been very good for my music career. The owner of the club I was spinning at Saturday night is well connected with the staff at Pulse. And many of the gays who were in the club that night were from Orlando.
Thankfully, the ones I account among my friends were in Tampa, there to listen to me spin and do their thing, so they were not slaughtered by an Islamic terrorist madman. Who would have thought that my music could save lives?
I know the club in Orlando well enough, and while I have not worked there, I worked at a number of clubs in the area (including the old Firestone club — not very far away from there). I know people who go to Pulse, and it’s entirely possible that I may have, at some time or another, met some of the actual victims.
In other words, the terrorism that was once a distant thing — something that happened to people in Paris, or New York — is now very local, it has reached my own circle of friends, coworkers, and fellow DJs.
My Facebook wall was, the following morning, plastered with people trying to figure out if their friends were safe or among the dead. It’s very surreal to see that.
It’s even more surreal to know that it could have been me. If our intrepid terrorist had been in the Tampa area instead of Orlando, it probably would have been the club I was spinning at that would have been hit. Crazy to think, isn’t it?
Am I going to have to start carrying when I go DJing in Ybor City? Usually I don’t — the bouncers know me, and nobody screws with the hired help in Ybor, not unless they have a death wish. But terrorists don’t seem to care.
So I will modify Ronald Reagan’s quote thusly:
Terrorism is when you hear about the attack on the news. War is when you hear about it from friends and family.
Yes, my friends, we are in a war with the Islamic world. Oh, I know not all of them are bad people, or our enemies. But neither was every German a Nazi, or the majority of Germans bad people. World War II still happened.
The reason the war seems different to us is because it is different. The war we are fighting today isn’t articulated so easily as a line on a map someplace. It is not accounted for in terms of war material; not in numbers of tanks, bombs, or warships.
The currency of this war is fear. It is a battle being waged at a psychological and moral level. It is fought between ideologies, not nation-states. William S. Lind calls it “fourth generation warfare.” I’m only an amateur in matters of military history, but the point is an apt one. There is something very different about the war we fight today, but it is no less a war for that.
I now have to legitimately wonder if DJing a gay club is putting my life at risk for Islamic terror. Am I a target? I was talking to one of the club’s frequent patrons yesterday, one who is recognized well enough to be able to use the back door. The discussion went right away to whether or not it would be advisable to pack heat, now, regardless of legality. I make no recommendations on that note, but it does make you wonder.
The war has come to my circle of friends. It has entered my personal world.
How soon before it enters yours?
Previously, I discussed how Progressives believe in magic. This is not entirely a new concept. Tom Kratman mentioned it earlier, but it wasn’t until I started seeing all the childish, ineffective, kumbaya-like behavior from people in Brussels that it all came together for me.
However, the previous post targeted positive magic. Progressives would hug each other, change their profile pictures, and draw symbols in chalk on the streets. They would denounce racism-sexism-homophobia, display all the proper goodthink, and express solidarity. Spells such as these, of course, would banish terrorism, hate, Islamic violence, and a host of other ills to the netherworld and bring forth the Progressive Utopia of love-peace-understanding.
Magic incantations to banish terrorism to the netherworld.
Progressives also believe in Dark Magic, however. Emory University students needed counseling, expressed fear and pain, after someone wrote “Trump 2016” in chalk on a park bench. Why? Because if chalk symbols can banish terrorism, something the Progressives obviously must believe, then naturally different chalk symbols could summon it.
I imagine they believe the symbols written on the park bench could summon the Great and Powerful Hairpiece himself, and a host of Nazi Demons to walk across the face of the Earth. Naturally, a host of Nazi Demons would be worthy of counseling, at the very least, I suppose.
Write Trump 2016 on a park bench, and you will open up a portal to evil Nazi Demons.
Free speech worries them because such freedoms mean that Evil Conservatives could counter their Good Magic with Dark Magic. When Al Sharpton comes out and says White Man is the Devil, it is, of course, a spell that, like the Native American Ghost Dance, will make the Evil White Racists go away for all time. Maybe the spell has to be repeated a few times before the Progressive Utopia can come into existence, but there it is. No counter-spell can be permitted to undo this great and wondrous magic.
So censorship and hate speech laws are required to muzzle the mouths of the Dark Wizards, in the same vein that those of us in the real world don’t want our neighbors having nuclear bombs. I suppose if we’re going to keep this line of thinking, Vox Day is the One Who Must Not Be Named, the great Lord Voldemort himself (is Scalzi supposed to be Harry Potter then, I wonder?). Vox, of course, has embraced this image of his status as a magical Dark Wizard, able to battle the SJW hordes and harm them with his words alone. He even calls himself the Supreme Dark Lord.
But I digress. The point of all this is to note that Progressives believe in the physicality of speech, its ability to cause direct and meaningful harm simply by existing. This is, in a very literal sense, a belief in magic.
I’ve said it before, and I will repeat again, I’m no Donald Trump fan. At the same time, Trump banners do not scare me, Trump 2016 in chalk is not able to walk up and punch me in the face. Counselling is not required when I see his name in the media. His words are not magic.
Even if we concede that words can hurt feelings, they require your consent in order to do so. You must agree to read the words, or listen to the speech. Then you must agree to care about the words read and heard. Lastly, having agreed to care about them, you must agree to be offended by them, to allow them to hurt you.
The magic is all in your head. But, then, that should be obvious to anyone with a functional brain cell.
To summarize, no Progressives, writing a pro-Trump message on a park bench will not summon the Hitlerite Hordes to conquer the Earth and kick your dog. And, of course, neither will ISIS spontaneously agree to a message of love-peace-understanding because some college-age nit is vacationing in Belgium on the public dime, and drawing peace signs in the middle of the street while the drum circles and bad violinists peddle their crap on the sidewalk.
Virtue signalling is a form of Progressive magic, the thought that wasting time chanting and drawing chalk art on the driveway like a 3 year old will somehow banish the demons that afflict your society back to the Hellfires from whence they came. It is a belief in the supernatural sans God, that merely thinking something changes your reality, that all of reality is subjective, bending to the whims of your personal feelings at this particular moment.
Terrorist attacks deserve more than a bunch of people drawing hearts on the sidewalk, or putting flowers on some street corner. But meaningless gestures are all that the Establishment, Ivory Tower elites have left to a society more or less banned from doing anything that is actually effective. Discussing Islam and Weaponized Empathy critically is, of course, racist (this despite the fact that Islam is a religion and political ideology, not a race). They spread this hashtag “#BXLove” as if the ISIS-sponsored terrorists give a rat’s ass whether some effeminate Belgians make heart symbols with their hands and offer “love and support” to whomever needs it. To me, love and support means, perhaps, loaning me some ammo when I’m low.
“We are one” they say. As if ISIS wants to be one with any of us. They want us dead, and our possessions and lands in the hands of a world Caliphate.
If a terrorist attack resulted in the death of one of my loved ones, I would not be looking for love and support of the magical Progressive variety. I would be digging for my rifle and ammo cans. I would desire justice, vengeance even (they aren’t the same thing, but nevermind that). I would want to even the score.
But these people just sit around and cry, or pat each other on the back for holding candlelight vigils and putting flags on their Facebook profile pictures. Je Suis Charlie, they say, except that two weeks later it is all forgotten and nobody cares anymore. Meanwhile, those of us with even a cursory understanding of history are just waiting for the next Islamic terrorist attack. The question is always when, where, and how many bodies. We never ask if another Islamic terrorist attack will happen. That is as certain as the rising sun, if rather less predictable and regular in its schedule.
HuffPo shows us violinists playing in the streets, sad songs dedicated to the memory of victims neither the player or the crowd knew or cared one whit about yesterday. People hold each other, crying their crocodile tears, because a journalist is nearby, his camera there to chronicle the sadness, the hope, the solidarity and peace-love-understanding of the virtue signalers.
Look at me, says the subject of the camera, I’m sad because I’m supposed to be, because the TV told me to be sad, and come here, and hold candles.
Of course, the talking heads of the media Establishment are there to tell us that the terrorists did not represent Islam, that Islam is a religion of love-peace-understanding, and that the massive influx of Islamic refugees, of course, has nothing to do with anything. All of us mean-people-racists are, of course, ignored as the Right-wing bigots we are tarred as. So nothing changes. Refugees will pile into Europe, America will refuse to secure its own borders, and Progressives will hold their candles, crying because somebody told them that was the right thing to do.
Orwell told us of the Two-Minutes Hate. Today we have a new variation: Two-Minutes Love. It’s supposed to make all the bad boogeymen go away, banished by the power of solidarity, hashtags, and heart symbols written in chalk.
Progressives are, in simple terms, believers in magic. Magical chalk dust will banish Islamic terror from their shores. Chants and candles will extinguish 1,500 years of conflict. Virtue signalling will effectively replace soldiers, bombs, and bullets as the chief defenders of Western civilization. Except that they don’t even believe in that anymore. At some level, Progressives believe the West deserves exactly what it’s getting. If only, says the Progressive, the anti-Islamic bigots weren’t around, this wouldn’t happen anymore.
One Turkish fellow I debated declared that the attacks were revenge for actions of Western countries in the Middle East. I suppose he meant the Iraq war, or perhaps the war in the Afghanistan. In any event, he wasn’t clear. I countered by pointing out that the Persian and Byzantine Empires didn’t do anything to the Muslims (indeed, the Byzantines may have actually sheltered them for a time). Yet the Muslims attacked and subjugated all of one, and most of the other.
Our intrepid Turkish gentleman explained that it was “a long time ago.” Sure it was. But the modern media still has a rage boner for the Crusades, so why not go back that far? There is an easier explanation for all of this, one that doesn’t require cherry-picking from history or religious texts: we can believe ISIS and other Islamic terror groups when they say they want to kill the infidel, or make him pay the jizya, take his women, and establish a global Caliphate.
Will lighting the Eiffel Tower in solidarity with Belgium accomplish anything effective against that sort of thing?
But doing nothing and pretending to be important is the hallmark of Progressivism. After all, magic chalk dust will solve everything, right? And war, as they say, never solved anything at all, right? Justin Trudeau explains this ass-backwards thinking for us:
Progressive thinking in a nutshell.
The corollary to this in Progressive parlance would be that if you hug random people in the streets in front of a television camera, you win. It doesn’t matter if the hugger, or the huggee, was in any way tied to the attack. Nobody on the nightly news needs to have lost anyone, or been affected in any way whatsoever. All that matters is if you stand in “solidarity” and chant the right words.
One particular graphic making the rounds on Instagram tells us that Belgians need to “be strong” in the face of the attacks.
Being strong might mean killing your enemies. But not for these people. For them it means crying, and hugging, and posing for pictures.
Progressives wouldn’t know strength even if it blew up in their faces. Which, of course, it actually did in this particular instance. Say what you will about Islamic terrorism, but its practitioners have more strength than its victims.
HuffPo tells us that all this activity on the part of Progressives is how to properly “fight back” against your enemies. If Hitler were alive today, and invading Europe, his panzer divisions would be met not with inept British and French forces, but with crowds holding signs denouncing bigotry, and the trifecta of racism-sexism-homophobia. Dive bombers would fly above crying Progressives standing in solidarity with the dead bodies surrounding them.
They would continue to chant their magical chants, draw their childish “art” on the streets in chalk, seeking to banish the demon Hitlerites back to the nether-realm from whence they came. “It’s time to fight back,” HuffPo would tell us, “mobilize the divisions of the gender-confused otherkin, the purple-haired manhaters, the effeminate men unable to even conceive of holding a weapon in defense of their own lives.”
And then when the Hitlerites conquered the Earth, the remains of the Progressive movement would gather in the ruined, bombed-out town square and hold their candles to mourn the dead, still hoping their magic would work, like the Native American Ghost Dance movement. Dance in the center as the armed Cavalry surrounds you, and chant until the White Man disappears forever. After all, it worked well for the Native Americans, right?
Just replace Hitler with Islamic terror above, and you’ll understand what’s really going on here. And just as the Ghost Dance failed to reverse the conquest of North America by European colonists, so will the Magical Vigils of the Progressives fail to slow the tide of Islamic conquest in Europe. To quote one of the few TV shows I’ve enjoyed in the last decade or so: “all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”