Our resident Lefty troll has spent the better part of the last few days lecturing my readers on their moral inferiority. He offers no solutions, no costs, no benefits, and is quite vague on matters of policy. Rather, he hopes to play the Alinsky handbook out and see where it takes him. But in the process, he has exposed a facet of Weaponized Empathy that bears elaboration.
A few months ago, a friend of mine suffered some serious legal trouble. He was innocent of the charges levied against him, and his lawyer was confident of victory in court. Indeed, the charges were immediately lowered, and just last night I heard that his lawyer had secured evidence that ought to clear him. But, as is often the case, the punishment is the process. My friend’s legal fees were mounting. He does pretty well for himself, but while the court case was pending, his employer placed him on leave. So he was eating into savings very quickly. Things were looking grim.
A few of us got together and did some crowdfunding for him on social media. We secured enough money to pay his legal fees through small, private donations. It was enough to allow his savings to cover his day-to-day costs, and keep him afloat in what would otherwise be a very trying time. And we did so with small donations. $25 here, $50 there. It all adds up. So at no great cost to ourselves, we willingly helped him, and it worked.
Legal fees being about as ridiculous of an albatross as healthcare, one wonders why this approach isn’t championed by the morally-enlightened paragons of the political Left. With the rise of the Internet, and the power of mass media, it seems there is a great missed opportunity. When a leftist browbeats you with some sob story, and uses it as evidence as to why we need some government program, why we need higher taxes, ask him about this.
The tone of the article would have you believe that the landlord is a heartless, cruel company (or person). Why, for a mere $173, they charged this woman late fees, and now she can’t catch up! More subtly, the article is asking the question of why this woman should even have to pay rent at all. Clearly, the government should pay all of her housing expenses (it only pays most of them now). There is even a picture of the woman in her wheelchair next to her son, trying to waive down a bus to take them to the courthouse. Think about that, a reporter who knows this woman’s story is right there taking the picture, seeing this woman suffer, and can’t even be bothered to give her a ride. But the staff photographer has plenty of time for some quick Weaponized Empathy photo ops.
Yet if $173 is a mere trivial nothing, and the late fees so unimportant that the landlord should be expected to waive them away because of media outrage, where is the gofundme for this woman? And why have the journalists who exposed this terrible case not donated a few dollars themselves? You could circulate that crowdfunding link around the office of The Dallas Morning News and pay this woman’s bills for an entire year with what these people spend individually on a cup of overpriced Starbucks coffee every morning.
Some time ago, I read an article (which I can’t find at the moment – if my readers know, please reply in the comments) where some old woman wound up dying because she could not afford her electric bill. The electricity wound up getting shut off, and she froze to death in the winter. Naturally, everyone was angry at the utility company for shutting off her power. Why, the whole community was outraged at the greed of such a terrible company.
Yet where were these outraged people when she was still alive? Could they not cobble together a few dollars each to pay her bill, to see her through the rough times? No, chances are they didn’t even notice she existed. And if they did, they paid her no mind. She wasn’t their problem. She was somebody else’s problem. And when she died, they were shamed, because they let it happen. The utility company, who likely had no idea what was going on (only that they weren’t being paid), became the scapegoat for their shame, for their lack of caring for their fellow man.
The solution for such people is to outsource the responsibility of caring to someone else, namely the government. Out of sight, out of mind. They never have to mix it up with folks living at the edge. They don’t even have to bother with the time it takes to go to a gofundme link and donate a few dollars. Let the government handle it all, they say. And they account themselves our moral superiors because of this.
To them, charity is some distant, impersonal thing. Some money is taken out of their paycheck every month. Where it goes, nobody knows. But the leftist has done his duty, you see. He doesn’t have to think about his fellow man anymore. Indeed, he could write a story about a poor woman in his own community who needs a mere $173, and use his podium to lecture the public that someone else ought to cough up that money.
When government charity fails, when it breaks the human spirit, when it destroys entire communities, leftists can always point to the mean old Republicans and blame us for the suffering. All because they can’t cope with the shame that, when you get right down to it, they did nothing. All they did was watch the IRS come and take some portion of their paycheck. They did the easiest thing in the world: they threw some money at a problem and hoped that it would go away and trouble them no more.
Read the whole thing, it’s a very important point to understand. The motive is always power. If casting Rightists as Nazis will help them obtain power, they will do it. If casting them as people who like cats will do likewise, they will do that too. The point is to find a lever which moves you; to find something that that will get under your skin and force you to obey them. Francis references this point in a quote from the book:
‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ’You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore-’
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
He pulled the lever back and continued:
‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others ; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power.
O’Brien has the virtue of honesty in this scene, at least. But then, he is in a position where the truth will actually serve better than the lie, at least for that one moment. He will lie as readily, if not more so, if the lie will serve his purpose. We are currently in a time when tyrants wish to justify their rule over us in terms of our own good. We are not wise enough, you see, to govern ourselves. More and more functions and decisions must be made by the Party.
But the time will come when the O’Briens of the world will be more truthful about it. It is about power, no more, no less. Trouble is, this will only be admitted when the usefulness of the existing weapon has expired. When saying that we are governed by our supposed betters, for our own good, no longer produces a benefit, the claim will be discarded. By the time this truth is admitted, it will likely be too late to do anything about it.
When SJWs discuss oppressive power systems, they are really lamenting the fact that they have not been able to fully impose such systems of power themselves. If and when they do, the mask will come off readily.
There have, however, been a few radical Leftists who have admitted these things semi-openly when it suited their purposes. Saul Alinsky is a great example. Reading his Rules for Radicals exposes a man for whom causes are merely weapons in the pursuit of power, not articles of genuine belief. Now, true believers do exist, of course. And one difficulty a Rightist has today is separating the true believers from the power seekers. One is to be pitied, perhaps. Not the other.
As Francis points out, however, this pity of the true believer can actually be a weapon, too. Our desire to be nice to such people is used against us by the power seekers behind them. Useful idiots form a sort of ideological human shield to protect tyrants. The practice has a long history in physical warfare. Place innocents in a target likely to be bombed, and then accuse your enemy of killing civilians. This helps a tyrant gain a moral high ground position in the eyes of the mass media. We should not be surprised that in politics, a similar tactic is used.
But it is important to understand who you are dealing with, regardless. A deceiver, or the deceived? Some folks may have noticed the arrival of new Leftist detractor in the comments section of The Declination, and might be wondering why I am permitting him to air his inconsistent spew. They come from time-to-time of course. And I continue to maintain that if you do not have enemies, you’re doing something terribly wrong. But it is interesting practice in spotting the difference between the deceiver and the deceived. It is tough to say with certainty yet, but I lean toward the former in his case.
The difference is in directing your own attacks. Don’t waste time on the deceived, that is a mistake. Find and neutralize the deceiver instead. Behind every batch of gender-confused, rainbow haired crazies ranting about the oppressiveness of eating Chinese takeout is an Alinsky-like figure (or perhaps more than one) using such idiots for his own personal gain.
Weaponized Empathy has long been a topic of discussion here. Today, let’s break down a very common use of it in private circles, in debates between regular folks on social media.
The tactic looks something like this:
Conservative: I believe in [insert policy here]. Progressive: Here is a sad story about someone (or even a hypothetical someone) who would be affected by the policy. Do you want this person to suffer? Conservative: Well, no, of course not… Progressive: Well then, you shouldn’t believe in [the policy]. It’s immoral.
This is an exceptionally low bar to clear for the Progressive. No matter what political positions a person might have, at least some people, somewhere, can be found who would be negatively affected by it. If, for instance, the tax code were simplified, the poor IRS agents auditing people with a microscope for violations of their arcane system might lose their jobs. Or, perhaps some poor person somewhere might end up with slightly less from the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Clearly the Conservative then wants poor people to starve, and IRS agents to be unable to feed their families. This is, of course, a rather blatant example, but read on for a more subtle and more powerful version of the argument.
Once a negative example is trotted out, the Progressive declares moral superiority and thus victory in the debate. Clearly he is more moral, because he wants to make sure nobody slips between the cracks, and everyone gets their fair share of… whatever.
A classic example can be found in this debate with Ron Paul, wherein the liberal moderator trots out a hypothetical person who has “a good job” but somehow has no money, decides not to buy a healthcare plan, has no existing government aid, can obtain no charitable aid, and possesses no friends willing to help him, and is experiencing an expensive health problem. What would happen, asks the liberal?
The absurdly unlikely (but theoretically possible) scenario is thus implied to be proof that we need government-managed universal healthcare.
Conservatives need to stop accepting this low bar as evidence of anything. Time after time, I’ve witnessed Conservatives argue these types of absurd positions by positing equally unlikely ways the free market or charity will cater to all such edge cases. Once dragged down to this position, victory is impossible. The best debaters may score a draw, edge case vs. edge case. Everyone else will lose, and the Progressive will trumpet his moral superiority over the evil, greedy Republican Uber-Nazis until he is blue in the face.
Ron Paul, being a very smart man and a doctor himself, argued this thing to a draw. I doubt many others could have pulled this off.
This is the wrong way to argue the point. It is, in fact, tacitly accepting that the Progressive’s position that the edge case means anything about national policy in the first place. Progressive policies, even if they are theoretically universal in scope, will also be subject to edge cases, as the Charlie Gard incident demonstrated. In fact, one essential truth about government micromanagement is that it is likely to result in more such edge cases, not less. Bureaucracies aren’t known for their intellectual flexibility. More people will fail to get the care they need, not less.
But even that isn’t quite the right way to argue the point. Leftism is demanding a sort of universalism that simply isn’t possible in any human institution. And, invariably, when the institution falls short of universal perfection, it is excoriated by the Left and used as justification for giving them (as in the Progressives themselves) more power under the excuse that they are morally superior. It is nothing more than a blatant power grab, thinly disguised as a moral argument.
This must be challenged immediately in any debate with them that goes down the edge case path. “Are you demanding perfection? That every single person receive 100% of all needed care? If so, you are a lunatic. Hard cases make bad law.”
This moves the bar up a notch. Now the Progressive must demonstrate that his system is better at a meta level, not just an individual hard case level. Weaponized Empathy can still be deployed at higher levels, but this is generally much more difficult, especially given the fact that Socialism generally produces very poor results when taken as a whole. However, expect the next rung on the Progressive argument ladder to be something along the lines of “well, Nordic Socialism is just great.”
When buying a product or service, the first question out of a man’s mouth is likely to be “how much is it?” As individuals, that question is axiomatic. So why is it that when we discuss grand political programs, the cost is so rarely discussed? And even when it is, the price is obfuscated behind layers of legalese and technicalities.
Sometime ago, I remember discussing Planned Parenthood with a liberal, and when I pointed out that my primary issue with abortion was the fact that I was paying for it with tax money, he replied that Planned Parenthood doesn’t get any money to perform abortions. This was a technicality. Planned Parenthood gets taxpayer money for all sorts of things, but comparatively little specifically earmarked for abortions.
Yet, if the government is paying for electricity, medical equipment, rent, whatever… for Planned Parenthood, but not specifically for abortions, how do we account that? It’s a sleight of hand designed to obfuscate the real price. I can make nearly any business profitable if you pay my bills. So why doesn’t that funding count in the price?
I tried to explain this to my liberal friend, and evidently failed, as he would not count any money not paid directly from the federal government (state subsidies were conveniently ignored) for a specific abortion. Thus in his mind, the fiction that government doesn’t pay for abortions remained firm and unassailable. But if the government paid me money to buy a car, and paid me money to put gas in it, are they subsidizing my travel, even if they don’t earmark it for a specific destination?
But it isn’t Planned Parenthood that is the real subject of this post. You see, cost is ignored for pretty much everything in the liberal world. There is no limit to the amount of spending that is seen as appropriate.
When a charity asks me to donate money, the question is often “how much?” And not just how much money they want from me, though that is important as well, but how much money is actually spent on the mission of the charity, versus administrative overhead.
Yet with government spending, the question of how much is only ever answered with more. How much taxpayer funding do you need for welfare? More. How much is needed for paying school teachers? More. How much is needed for social services? More. How much taxpayer money do you need, period? More.
However much the government is taking today, it always wants more. And furthermore, the political Left is dedicated to guilt shaming you, via Weaponized Empathy, if you should disagree with them. How many Muslim refugees should be accepted by various Western countries around the world? More. Never is it a specific number, fixed and immutable, after which we might account our duty to human rights and dignity properly satisfied. Always it is more.
Slavery reparations work in a similar manner. Ta-Nehisi Coates argued for reparations some time ago in The Atlantic. And again, no cost figure is given, only vague references to a lot, and interest accrued over the years (as if this were a debt, from one individual to another). What Coates wants, and what many Black Lives Matter folks want, is a blank check to draw upon forever. Or, put more simply, they want more. Coates compares slavery reparations to German reparations to the Jews, but without the realization that many victims of Nazi depredations, and their immediate relatives, were still alive. So were many perpetrators. No slaves or slave owners live today.
Even so, Germany should not be expected to pay reparations forever, in some indeterminate amount. Rather, an amount was settled upon, paid, and the thing was done. “How much?” Asked Germany. “This much,” replied the actual victims.
One gets the sense that Black Lives Matter wants money and preferential treatment in perpetuity.
One amusing example is the cost of cars in Denmark. They suffer a 180% car tax. Did you buy a $10,000 car? Be prepared to spent $28,000 on it. A 180% tax, apparently, might be enough for somebody. Here in the United States, liberals salivate over the time when they can do likewise in America. Back when I lived in California for a while in the early 2000s, I remember when the sitting governor was ousted by Arnold “the governator” Schwarzenegger, partly because of rolling blackouts and a demand for higher energy prices, along with a proposed car registration tax that would hit $1,000 or more for some models. That, apparently, was too much even for liberal California at the time, and Gray Davis got the boot. Jerry Brown’s proposals are much more modest by comparison, though still obviously heading in that direction.
But make no mistake, the love of northern European Socialism among contemporary liberals means they would like to do the same. It is merely a case of too many folks in America asking how much. So they can’t get away with it just yet. Still, if you ask them to provide a number of what is ideal for them, they never do. Always, the answer is more.
Let’s look at it from a more fundamental angle. We are told that we have it too good. Maybe it’s our white privilege showing, or perhaps male privilege, or straight privilege. Whatever. So we need to give up some portion of our wealth, our careers, and some of the benefits we’ve accrued in life.
Okay. I disagree with all that. But, even supposing I were to agree, what’s the bill? How much do you require?
I’ve never received a satisfactory answer to that question. What percentage of my income is demanded? More. How much of my assets must I forfeit? More. How much should I give up from my business and my career? More. I even ask Leftists, on occasion, to just give me an ideal average tax rate. How much should American citizens, as a whole, and on average, give up to the government? More. Never have I once received a reply that says “this is the tax rate that we want, then we’ll leave you alone.”
Thing is, the more argument is remarkably persuasive to many, because it eliminates the need for the Marxist to conduct a cost benefit analysis. We don’t need to know how many poor people were helped by a welfare program, nor do we need to know much it cost. All we need to know is whether more people were helped by it. And even the most wasteful and ludicrous of government programs will help someone, somewhere, who can be trotted out as a sad story. You hear this argument from the political Left all the time. “If it only helps one person…” Sure. I could go distribute millions from the treasury to random people in the street, and it would meet that minimal standard. But is this smart from a cost benefit standpoint? Probably not…
Weaponized Empathy comes into play here. If you oppose said welfare program, you must want the people involved to die, or to starve, or whatever. If you say no more, you’re a greedy, self-centered Capitalist asshole.
“You said no to helping poor people with more of your money? Wow. I just can’t even… how could you hate poor people that much? White privilege strikes again.”
There is a classification of human that doesn’t understand price, and always demands more. Yes, that’s right: the toddler. And toddlers are gifted at using empathy against you. When I say no, my son will pout, and sniffle, and try to make me feel bad for denying him. Of course, it doesn’t work on me. I just let him cry all he wants in the corner until the noise gets unbearable, in which case he gets a timeout or a spanking, depending on the severity of the tantrum. My wife is somewhat more susceptible to his charms, however. But even her tolerance is limited, and when it is exceeded, her punishments are probably a grade worse than mine.
Just because he wants some $100 toy, doesn’t mean he’ll get it. Just because he wants more cake (no amount of cake is enough for a toddler, as far as I can tell), doesn’t mean he’ll get it. And to be fair to him, the lessons are starting to take. The tantrums are growing fewer, and he’s starting to get it. But Marxists never really get it. Maybe they just weren’t spanked enough as kids, I don’t know.
But like the parent who says “time out” when the demands grow overly emotional, perhaps we need to start treating any attempt to use the more argument as the childish demand that it truly is. If a man can’t even be bothered to do a proper cost benefit analysis and present a bill, in other words if he can’t say this much is needed, then that man is not presenting a serious argument, no matter how many appeals he makes to morality, emotions, or helping the poor, oppressed people of wherever.
Instead, he’s making a toddler argument, and if it is illegal to spank him until he screams, then the least we can do as American voters is give that political toddler a proper timeout. Go sit in the corner, liberals, until you can learn that policies have costs, more is not a valid price, and “it’s not fair” is not a useful argument.
After all, even my two year old is starting to figure out that much.
Weaponized Empathy is a topic I keep bringing up here at The Declination. It is an insidious weapon, both pervasive and subtle. The weapon preys upon your better nature, twisting your better instincts in the service of another.
Guilt-tripping is the best way I can describe it. You are made to feel guilty and remorse for things you have not done. A white man might be made to feel guilty for slavery in the United States, despite having never owned slaves, nor having countenanced slavery in any form. He might be called a Nazi for being vaguely Right-of-center, despite his ancestors having participated in the liberation of Jews from Nazi Germany.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh-off-the-boat Romanian immigrant. You’re white, so you’re privileged. Therefore, also, you are guilty. The Left tells us not to be prejudiced, that is to say to prejudge a person. Yet they ascribe guilt, a literal form of judgment, onto people they don’t know.
Then they say that you should feel guilty. Perhaps today you should feel guilty for being white, and tomorrow all men should feel guilty for having penises. And the day after, straight people should feel guilty for not being homosexual. And so on…
Guilt. I’m tired of it, folks. Pardon my French, but it’s all horseshit. Commensurate with Right-wing philosophy in general if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time. But the reverse is also true. If you haven’t done the crime, then you should not do the time.
In other words, I’m done with that sort of thing. I don’t care if folks on the Left think I’m some kind of cold-hearted, heretical bastard, a blasphemer of the religion of political correctness.
I wasn’t originally going to comment on the attack. After all, there are too many Islamic terror attacks these days for one blogger to ever hope to cover them all (and isn’t that a sad state of affairs?). But one thing compelled me to do so.
You see, like the picture of the Syrian boy who drowned, there is a horrifying picture floating around the Internet right now of an 11 year old girl who was, quite literally torn to pieces by the terror attack. Pieces of her are scattered all over the road, a leg here, a leg there, guts strewn all over the road.
I’m absolutely not going to post it on my blog, because my readers are likely to lose the contents of their stomachs if they see it. But I’ve seen it, and so have many others. You can probably find it for yourself with a little Google-fu. I did, however, verify the photo with local landmarks, and the position of the covered bodies in the photographs the press has released. So it’s not a fake (there have been weaponized fake pics floating around social media all too often lately).
It is, by an order of magnitude, a more powerful picture than the dead Syrian boy.
So why haven’t you seen even a semi-censored/pixelated version of this picture? Is it because it is too gruesome? Doubtful. Certainly if that were true, they could have at least posted an alternate angle.
No, the gruesome death of Ebba Akerlund doesn’t fit the pro-Islam, pro-migrant narrative. They could weaponize the photo, if they chose to, but they don’t want to. So why are pictures of Syrian children weaponized, and Swedish children not? It’s not rocket science, obviously.
This could have been worldwide news, at a level that would dwarf the dead Syrian boy, or the affair with United Airlines. But only a few outlets are even carrying her story at all.
It’s enough to make one sick, almost as sick as someone who saw the picture in question.
As for the media, I’d appreciate it if you stopped wasting my time, trying to sell Islam to the West like some kind of used car salesman decked out in 70s plaid, trying desperately to clear his lot of lemons. I’m not buying, okay?
So if you’ve been paying attention to my recent posts on Weaponized Empathy, you may have noticed this guy Merkur, who has a very irritating debate style. The essence of it is that I am biased, and isn’t it interesting that I post things that confirm my bias? Maybe I ought to go read some books about bias so that I can see the refugee situation in a much better light. Or something to that effect. It’s all there if you want to read it yourself, though it’s probably more fun to have a root canal. I was being kind of foolish to permit this sort of Kafka-esque framing on my blog, and suffice it to say I won’t be allowing it in the future.
Well, this guy has been a periodic thorn in my side for a while now, but I always got a strange vibe from him. Why is someone spending so much time trying to lecture me about this? He’s far more persistent than the usual Lefties who come here.
This is him. He’s of Albanian extraction, which explains his pro-Islam stance. But that’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected, but perhaps I ought to have known, is that he literally works for the UN.
Currently engaged with MSB and the UN as a Snr Information Managment Officer within MENA region Mr Merkur Beqiri is an Independent Consultant with a range of projects delivered in the fields of Information Management…
And here’s a real gem:
In the past 20 years, Mr Beqiri has worked for or with Public sector (Education, Health, Municipal services, Cadastral Agency), Private Sector (BI, BS, ERP, CAD, PM), Humaitarian/Emergency Sector (IM/GIS for UNHCR, OCHA, FAO, WHO, NRC, IRD) and Development Sector (SD & BS for SOROS, World Bank) in Europe…
I never would have figured I’d attract a troll with this kind of Leftist pedigree. But there you have it, folks. Remember your SJWs Always Lie. SJWs always project. Well, Merkur is projecting his own biases in favor of the UN, Soros, Islam, and a host of transnational Progressive organizations.
Suffice it to say, he will no longer be permitted to comment here. I don’t need UN information managers spewing their bullshit on my platform. He can buy his own podium.
Update: Merkur denies it, but I’m pretty confident in my chain of evidence. That evidence is based on his IP address originating from Serbia (and it’s consistent, so he failed to use Tor or anything like it). There are, after all, very few ardent, public, UN and Islam defenders in Serbia these days (Kosovo excepted, of course). The name “Merkur” is also Albanian. That narrowed the range down to a reasonable, searchable number of people. He claimed to have worked for a number of charity organizations, and inputting those, plus the fact that he was an Albanian in Serbia, led me to this Merkur Beqiri fellow. His Social Media accounts were filled with pro-refugee, pro-migrant stuff, written in a very similar style. That he had the same name made it pretty much a slam dunk. The only way the chain would be broken is if he did not, in fact, work for the charities he claimed, in which case he’d be a liar and could be safely dismissed on that basis. Or, of course, if he didn’t actually live in Serbia, and somehow had an IP address originating from there. That seems rather unlikely, though.
Anyway, he’s consumed enough of everyone’s time. On to the next topic!