Crossing the Rubicon

The riots have, in this blogger’s opinion, crossed a Rubicon into what might escalate into something resembling a Civil War. Yes, people say “the war is coming” with relative frequency in Right-wing circles, and up until now, said war has not come.

But look at this video and tell me that things have not changed:

https://twitter.com/_S70DD/status/1298602154438074370

For reference – because the video is muddled a bit – I will narrate what happened as best I can tell from the various videos and pictures I’ve seen. The guy on the ground with the rifle was assaulted by a guy with a skateboard, and another man with a handgun (see picture of his mangled arm and handgun here). Rifle-guy shot both. Skateboard-guy died of a chest wound, and handgun-guy had a fair chunk of his arm blown off, and ran to the police for protection. The irony of that last point should be lost on exactly no one.

A gun battle in the streets followed. Watch the whole video.

Elsewhere, another gun battle occurred at a used car dealership, in which one person was shot in the head and killed: see video here. One gun battle in the streets we might write off. Two? It’s getting a lot more difficult.

Roving gun battles in the streets between political factions is an escalation we have not seen since at least the 60s, and even then, there is, IMHO, a palpable difference. The rioters, while having some centralized targets like police stations and courthouses (which have been the targets of a ‘siege’ of sorts in Portland), are also engaging completely random targets like used car dealerships, which have nothing to do with any political motivation, save that they are there. Back in the 60s – at least from what I know of it – you had more of a counter-culture vs Establishment mindset. And while there is some of that here, there’s also a lot of essentially random looting, violence, arson, and otherwise that has no real justification – and it’s everywhere. We had it in my hometown. Any sizable city in America has probably experienced at least some of it.

We have random diners accosted in various locales, told to join the rioters in a fist salute to Black Lives Matter, or be surrounded by an angry, threatening, screaming mob. Black Lives Matter protesters roam through suburban neighborhoods demanding that homeowners give up their homes and property to the mob. Remind me just who are the fascists here?

It seems to me that we might have crossed the Rubicon, and Civil War, or something akin to it may be inevitable at this point. If true, I don’t imagine the conflict would be anything like the first war between the states – the geographic and demographic issues are more urban vs. rural than they are North vs. South. Let’s posit for a moment that Trump wins reelection. Does anybody think the violence will lessen if that eventuality happens?

What is Biden wins? I wonder if we might see an escalation there, too – some kind of emboldened strategy for revenge on the Trumpites. But of the two options, Biden probably represents less violence in the very near term – with potential for things to get more ugly should the Democrats attempt some kind of political crackdown on the Right (a possibility I think is very likely).

In any event, one blog I follow has a running “minutes to midnight” style summary of where we are on the Civil War clock. And we’re in stage 9… out of 10. With 10 being open warfare. At least according to his barometer, anyway. I don’t think he’s wrong, and if anything things have gotten worse since he wrote the last post.

Did we cross the Rubicon over the last few days? Only history will tell us for certain. But me? I think it’s very likely that we just did.

Keep your ammo dry.

The Would-Be Ottoman Sultan

President of Turkey Recep Erdogan wound up losing Istanbul in a recent vote – a significant political development for him, considering he was once the city’s mayor. To push up his failing support, he decided to convert the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, something hard-line Islamic fundamentalists have desired for some time.

The Hagia Sophia is approximately 1,500 years old, and has been variously an Orthodox, Catholic, and Islamic site of worship. Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) converted the structure to a museum in 1935. Since that time, it has been well-cared for, with careful monitoring of the structure and restoration efforts designed to keep it safe.

In Erdogan’s haste to convert it to a mosque for his political gain (in only 14 days), he has transferred responsibility for the structure, and essentially frozen out the preservation efforts and museum staff. This Twitter thread goes into many reasons why this is extremely dangerous. With the recent fire in the Notre-Dame cathedral, the threat to the structure is difficult to overstate.

My own family’s connection to the region means that this issue is somewhat nearer and dearer to me than it might be to most, but the Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest churches ever built – the first to feature a pendentive dome – and for many centuries featured the largest interior space of any structure in the world. It is an architectural marvel even today.

In his haste to convert it into a mosque for his political purposes, Erdogan is threatening the structure’s very survival.

We should not be surprised by this move, though. Erdogan has, for some time, acted in a manner reminiscent of an Ottoman Sultan. And with the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism more broadly, the Hagia Sophia’s days as a museum were probably numbered anyway. But the haste in which Erdogan is pushing this conversion, there is serious risk to its very survival. Consider things like electric lighting – obviously retrofitted in an ancient structure like the Hagia Sophia – and the Islamic preference for carpets. Consider the extreme age of the masonry work and the many earthquakes the structure has survive previously (albeit while receiving some damage).

The way Erdogan is going about this, he is freezing out the secular preservationists. If we have another Notre-Dame situation… well, I don’t want to think about it. I really don’t.

Turkey once made one of the strongest attempts to secularize an Islamic country, and for a time they succeeded more than most. But those days are over. Do we really want a Neo-Ottoman Empire in NATO?

I doubt he’d show any more care or attention to NATO and his treaty obligations than he has to the Hagia Sophia.

In any event, Islamic Twitter is celebrating, talking about covering up or chiseling away the ancient Byzantine mosaics (they regard empresses depicted in these mosaics as prostitutes) and erasing the structure’s Christian heritage. There are equally impressive mosques in the city today – built in a style mirroring the Hagia Sophia (the Süleymaniye Mosque and Blue Mosque in particular). This is not really about worship so much as it is about showing the world the power of Islam.

The reality is, the Turks have possession of it, and I can no more stop them than the Muslims can stop Christians from worshiping in the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (though that does not stop SJW-like demands for it to be given over to the Muslims). But if the thing is to be done, care should at least be taken for its preservation (something the Spanish have attended to well enough for the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba). But it’s not about obtaining a site of worship or preserving a historical structure – not for Erdogan and his cronies.

It’s about a statement of power.

July 4th – America on Borrowed Time

Normally, roundabout this time of year, folks would be BBQing, waving some flags around, and shooting off some fireworks with friends and family. And to be fair, my readers are more likely than not to be doing exactly that. This is true for a good portion of middle America, even so.

It is unclear if it is true for most of America, though.

CNN and the Democrat party both delivered condemnations of Mt. Rushmore in alignment with the protests going on there, and there has been noise on social media to attend to its removal. Proposals ranged from those who wished to give it to the Lakota to do what they wish, to those who wanted to publicly blow it up. The reasoning, of course, is that there were two slave owners on the monument, and four white men. That Lincoln freed the slaves no longer means anything – something I explained to those who wanted to torch the Confederate monuments some time ago.

At this point, I doubt Mt. Rushmore will survive much longer. Trump appears to still support it, given his rally there. But given the Democrats’ position on it, I doubt it would long survive a Democrat administration:

There are various reasons supplied for why the monument must go. It was Native American land (but so was all of North America at one time – is it the intention of the Left for anyone with European ancestry to leave?). Two of them were slave-owners (though Washington provided for the freedom of his slaves). They are four straight white males. Etc… Some of the reasons may even carry some validity – I’m not going to sit here and worship at the altar of these men. They were men, and thus possessed good and bad traits, both. Good Americans, yes, but still men – with all the flaws that go along with it.

Rather, I ask where this motivation comes from. What is the end goal?

In my opinion, the end goal is the erasure of the United States of America. It is to transform America into something else, something Leftists presumably believe to be better, but which has little in common with the America we know. The media, though condemning Mt. Rushmore rather obviously in pieces and clips like this one from CNN, falls short of outright claiming July 4th to be racist. But it comes close in pieces like How Black Lives Matter Transformed the Fourth of July. Likely, the full-scale denunciation of Independence Day will come later. In 2016 CNN reported favorably on Mt. Rushmore when Bernie Sanders went to visit it. Now that Trump is there, the monument must go. So perhaps we have roundabout four years before calls to replace July 4th with Juneteenth begin to be heard in volume (they are already on social media).

In my most recent article, I speculated on the obsession with ever-smaller injustices on the part of the Progressive Left. A few of my readers wondered if, perhaps, I was not giving too much credit to the Left in assuming good faith. And to be fair, I think that the useful idiot side of Social Justice may be acting in a sort of perverted good faith. But the media? No. This became obvious to me when they repeatedly denounced wearing face masks, then explained that if you did not wear a mask, you wanted granny to die of the ‘rona. Or when CNN repeatedly trashed Trump for believing that some medication was going to help with coronavirus, and then a month or so later, reported that the medication in fact did help.

There is certainly no good faith on the part of the media.

So far, the political Right has been ineffectual in stopping this latest wave of anti-American sentiment, and the Progressive Left has moved faster than I’ve ever seen the move in my lifetime. We went from debating Confederate statues to people pulling down statues across the nation – and not just of Confederates, but general Grant, Abraham Lincoln, and other abolitionists. This was never about the Confederates. Rather, the Confederate monuments were the dam holding back this wave, and once the dam failed…

…well, here we are.

Enjoy Independence Day, my friends. America appears to be on borrowed time, though, and it is unclear how many more years will pass before this, too, is cancelled by pop culture. And when Independence Day goes, what will remain of America?

The Diminishing Returns of Social Justice

Have you ever been cleaning your house, sweeping the floor or vacuuming the carpet, and after hours of work, you put away your vacuum, hang up your broom, and chillax with a beer…

…and then you see it. A crumb that somehow missed the dustpan. A dust bunny the vacuum failed to suck up. A smudge on the baseboards that you just did not see until you put everything away.

What do you do?

Well, if you’re OCD about these things, as I can be sometimes, perhaps you break out all of your cleaning gear again, and go to town on the smudge, hit the floors one more time, and go through the whole process all over. Or maybe you just get up, and physically pick up the speck, or rub the smudge on the baseboard with your shirt. I’ve done that, too.

You return to your now-lukewarm beer. You got the speck this time. No more smudges. It’s time to relax after a job well done. And then you see it. Another speck of dirt… You sigh. But you’re not getting up again. No way.

This sort of thing applies to almost every corner of life. If you’re a car guy (as I also am), the small scratches and paint chips you accumulate on your daily driver can drive you nuts.

Social Justice operates like this.

If we imagine the various ills of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the myriad of other -isms and -phobias decried by the Progressives as a messy room, we can see how ending Jim Crow, passing the 19th amendment, and passing the Civil Rights Act might be seen as cleaning that room.

And the specks of dirt left in the room after we’ve cracked open that beer are the microaggressions, the privileges, and the various imperfections in the ‘level playing field’ that feature prominently in political discourse.

In many ways, I think the political Right has made a mistake in trying to say these privileges, microaggressions, and other such things do not exist. Instead, I wonder if the better approach is to point out that the carpet will never be entirely free of dirt particles. Your baseboards will never be perfect. You can break out the cleaning gear again and again, and only succeeded in rubbing the paint off the baseboards in your obsession to have perfect cleanliness.

Oftentimes there are relatively obvious things that can be done to address very blatant inequalities. Certainly, eliminating government-enforced segregation was a big one. And perhaps police reform is urgently needed in a lot of places. But after a while, you reach diminishing returns in the quest for perfection. How has affirmative action worked out?

Adam Corolla gave the example of how he wanted to become an LA firefighter, and had to wait years – in the process giving up on this desire – because he was white, and continually shuffled to the bottom of the stack. Somebody rubbed the paint off the baseboards. Even if being white is probably still a net gain in some situations, it is also a net negative in others. Imagine being the white kid trying out for the basketball team.

Intersectional privileges, in Social Justice parlance, are essentially infinite in nature anyway. That is to say each person will have a personal collection of advantages and disadvantages based on various attributes. What is gained by privilege A is lost by privilege B, and so on. I recall a debate on Twitter back in the Gamergate days, where an SJW ranted on about blue-eyed privilege. Theoretically, sure, maybe having blue eyes statistically means a 1% more likely chance of some good thing happening. But my brown eyes have never bothered me. And it is difficult to see what my brother’s blue eyes really bought him in life.

These privileges are specks of dirt on the carpet. And in some cases, a good pass with the vacuum will eliminate the worst and most visible effects – especially when those privileges are mandated by a hostile government.

But the SJWs do not know when to stop, crack open a beer, and just live with it. They keep scrubbing until the paint is gone. They keep vacuuming until the carpet is torn up. Knuckles bloody, beer expired, and angry, they just keep going.

A white woman in a kimono must be cancelled.

The Golden Girls with that mud mask stuff on is blackface, get rid of it.

To hell with Aunt Jemima syrup.

Tear down the emancipation monument.

All because there’s a speck somewhere.

When called out on this behavior, they point to the speck of dirt and say “see! Look! Racism still exists!”

Yes, it does. You’re never going to get rid of it all. Start from the assumption that humanity is a flawed creature, that individuals are full of biases you will never rid them of entirely, and that some in-group preference is unavoidable. Start from the assumption that every human has advantages and disadvantages in life, and you will not be able to level them all. There will always be a smudge or a speck.

At a certain point, crack open your beer and chill, damnit.

A different way of looking at it is defining what clean means to you. Does a clean country mean that no incidents of racism will occur? No. Does it mean there will be no monuments that offend anyone? No. Does a clean country mean every demographic permutation or ‘group privilege’ situation will be equally represented in everything? No.

Also, given that there are nearly an infinite number of potential overlapping privileges, what makes this particular speck you’re focusing on so much more important than the others?

Feminists gloss over atrociously bad male suicide rates and workplace deaths. Why is #metoo so much more important than men killing themselves, or dying in workplace accidents? It’s not so much that I want to obsess over the “men kill themselves” speck of dirt on the carpet. Rather, why is THIS speck so much more worthy of obsession than THAT speck. It’s subjective and emotionally driven. White privilege is a problem when it confers advantages over some other demographic group. But when the white kid is picked last for the basketball team, or Adam Carolla can’t even get an interview for the firefighter job he wanted, nobody cares about Non-white privilege.

Even if we conceded that, net-net, White privilege outweighed Non-white privilege (and I’m not so sure it does – SJWs tend to focus on the advantages of one and the disadvantages of the other with little balancing in the reverse direction), is the return on investment really worth it?

How much is complete fairness worth?

In Harrison Bergeron, it was worth bringing all of society down to the lowest common denominator. Is that what we want?

And let’s assume we finally figure out this one privilege in the infinite Social Justice Pantheon of privileges. Great! Only a near-infinite number more to go. What’s next? Height privilege? Blue-eye privilege?

Or maybe it’s male privilege, which is one I really find laughable. Progressives often focus on higher overall pay for men. Or the fact that women are often valued for their looks. The second one his kind of hilarious, because in many ways being valued for appearance is an advantage if you’re an even modestly attractive woman. This is a card most men can never play. It’s not in their privilege deck at all.

I ran a poll on Twitter – and let’s be clear, Twitter polls are for fun only, don’t take this as serious business – and 91.5% of folks rated “hot girl privilege” as higher than male, white, and straight privileges. Again, very biased sample set.

But if we ran that same poll out in the world and got real statistical data out of it, can anyone imagine hot girl privilege losing? I can’t. Can you?

Of course, like the others, there are disadvantages too, even there. A hot girl probably has to deal with a lot more creepers and internet stalkers than some random dude-bro.

The main point I’m trying to make here, is that SJWs and Progressives tend to be very arbitrary when it comes to selecting which privileges to be worried about, and furthermore, they tend to be very arbitrary when describing them, selecting only the disadvantages of one and the advantages of the other with little thought to a balanced comparison.

And they can never stop cleaning. There is never a point where something is good enough. The house is never clean. Nobody can ever relax, crack open a beer, and chill. Social anxiety must continue forever. Never stop cleaning. No peace.

But also, that privileges, microaggressions, and other Social Justice talking points do exist in some fashion. Saying they do not gives SJWs leverage in the argument. The speck of dirt on the carpet is real. It’s there.

It’s just that I’m not getting up from the couch second time over one speck of dirt. Oftentimes, it is not anywhere near as important or dramatic as they claim. I’m not going scrub the baseboards until the paint peels off for a tiny smudge. The ROI isn’t there.

I’ll keep a clean house, mind you. But we’re never going to have perfection. And eventually, people just need to stop, live with it, and get on with their lives.

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