Hannity’s Snowflakes

Has anyone ever been called a snowflake, lol?  I came across this summary of what liberalism is all about and thought I’d share it. There are five criticisms embedded in the quote below that relate to paternalism, meritocracy, callout culture, victimhood, and microaggressions. Oh, we cannot forget how fragile we are too.  I think there is a reality to these criticisms albeit distorted a bit.

They have become accustomed to the paternalistic attitude that they must be shielded from all adversity and disappointment—a world where everyone gets a trophy and where university campuses train students to be victims rather than self-reliant, constantly on the lookout for “trigger words” and “microaggressions” that could damage their psychic serenity.  We do truly have a generation of snowflakes now. [Sean Hannity]

Do not expect a detailed analysis of anything from Sean Hannity since he has to appeal to his tribe with a specific dialogue in mind. This dialogue must be easy to digest; otherwise, he would alienate his audience.  He has to use keywords that elicit emotion in order to validate what conservatives stand for and are against.  So when the reader sees “victim” they feel a sense of contempt for the liberal which reinforces that they are against wimps who blame their problems on others.  But this misrepresents and conflates the concept of what it is to be a victim.  There is a difference between being a legitimate victim of subordination and victimhood. Victimhood is a mentality where we most likely were victims at one point of unfair treatment, but we never seemed to get over it.

Marginalized groups, such as those relating to sexuality, identity, ethnicity, and those deemed as inadequate and undesirable, are at an increased risk of being bullied and rejected (v).  When people are ridiculed and disparaged, then this affects the quality of their lives.  In fact, those that are bullied and rejected are at risk for mood disorders, depression, and anxiety.  This hostility and contempt can come from subtle insults to blatant hate speeches, which are acts of microaggression and aggression.  To encourage civil relations, political correctness attempts to shield the marginalized from bigoted speech.  Hannity mocks microaggressions by portraying them in an absurd way.  But in the process, he undermines the marginalized groups’ efforts in seeking emotional refuge.

Hannity further mentions that we are taught to be victims rather than self-reliant (i).  There is some truth to this because college campuses teach us to look for microaggressions, which are words or actions meant to inflict emotional harm on marginalized persons (iv).  When we are looking for malintent, then we will be assuming the worst and priming ourselves to react. When primed for the worst, we may misinterpret the party’s intentions or meaning of the slight.  When we get defensive, then that means we are threatened.  The other party wins.  If we can handle the slight with composure, then it will reduce their defenses and prevent conflict. In fact, the message will more likely be received than discarded.  It then becomes a choice if we want to come back with a vicious defense or handle it in a constructive way by asserting with dignity and respect that we do not appreciate undermining comments.

I have justified bullies bullying the bullies.  Although I did not endorse a militant style of politics, I came close to it.  There are a few approaches to identity politics, which is when a class of people with shared characteristics mobilize in order to increase their status. We can appeal to our shared humanity as Martin Luther King Jr. did in his speeches which unites us, or we can appeal to our tribal instincts by demonizing a shared enemy, which is divisive.  I do not claim to know which approach is more effective, but I do have some thoughts on callout culture, which conforms to the latter.  If we are going to attack people for them failing to uphold our beliefs, then we better have evidence of a consistent pattern.  Because we often can misinterpret their intentions and meaning (ii).

The only basis Hannity has for being against paternalism is that somehow our liberties are impeded when we have the state or institutions protecting us.  I have always said to libertarians with their obsession with coercion and freedom that sometimes we have to give up something to get something.  Putting aside the loss of freedom when mandates are implemented, a better question is how effective is it when colleges enforce certain social norms with an intent to protect their members?  How effective are political correctness and callout culture in obtaining their goals of reducing emotional abuse?  I just got done reading Jonathan Hadit’s book titled “The Coddling of the American Mind”, which I’m in about 50% agreement with him which I will critique in the next post.

Meritocracy is when we reward people based on their abilities.  Again, Hannity is mocking the belief in economic equality when he says that “everyone gets a trophy”, which is absurd.  Meritocracy is essential to our economic system because of the concept of incentives, which drives us to compete.  We are claiming that there needs to be a reasonable safety net for those that cannot keep up with the rest of us.  We have good reasons to believe that an equalizing force is essential.  I have already written about how meritocracy leads to social hierarchies that, although inevitable in a capitalistic society, have consequences for our health and happiness.  In fact, those that make $40,000 per year have a risk of death three times that of those that make $140,000 per year (iii).


i)  It may not make sense to contrast self-reliance to that of victimhood.  I think what Hannity is trying to say is that instead of forging ahead after an insult or criticism and taking responsibility for our end of a social interaction gone bad, we instead focus on the harm done to us.  We are not using our own emotional resources, such as our confidence that we are still worthy regardless of the slight. There is a concept known as “internal locus” which is about believing we are the sources of change and influence versus others. Having an internal locus view has been shown to decrease feelings of victimization.  Although people do influence our successes and failures, it may be a better strategy to focus on what we can change.  Despite this, the marginalizing of certain groups is a very real phenomenon.  I do not think Hannity is denying that marginalization exists but rather is saying focus on what we can change.

ii) A good example is when I argued that responsibilities to one another in a relationship often strive to be 50-50, which is a good thing, but it is best if we do not keep tabs on who did what.  The problem with becoming an “accountant” is that things will often not be 50-50 because we are not consistent in our efforts.  If we are keeping tabs, then we can become disappointed and resentful. Relationship experts believe that it is best to hold the belief that our partner is doing the best they can to meet their obligations.

Having stated this on a post, I was then attacked and shamed, which is what “callout culture” does, for being sexist because I was implying that one sex may have to do more work than the other.  But that was not my intention nor the meaning of my argument.  Although I quickly learned the rules of posting, this made me feel resentment, and it certainly did not unite me in our shared vision.

iii). See the study here and the explanation here.

iv) College campuses do not seem to distinguish between intentional microaggressions and unintentional.  It has to do with how the target feels.  I should be saying “perceived” slight because sometimes people will not mean it as an insult.  Most insults are criticisms because they find fault, but they are done with an intent to inflict harm.  That which is offensive is another route for being triggered.  When I hear someone make a misogynist comment, it is a disturbing feeling that I get.  So, first, we get offended when we hear strongly held beliefs that are contrary to our own.  I used to get very offended when people would talk about their belief in God.

Second, we can get angry when the beliefs of others threaten our own beliefs.  When I hear something that goes against my background knowledge, I find that I can get angry and irritated.  Perhaps this has to do with cognitive dissonance.  Lastly, if our beliefs ground our identity, then we should be very threatened.  For example, Christians have a lot at stake if their beliefs turn out to be false.  But that is not all because we oftentimes transfer our anger and hate to the person that holds differing beliefs.


Accountable to None

This is my chance to share what my thoughts are on the United States’ foreign policy.  What rekindled this interest is despite the necessity of condemning Russia, it comes across as hypocritical in light of what we have done and continue to do. This is not a diatribe against us but rather is posing the question of whether or not our policies, i.e., military hegemony, are effective or necessary.

I don’t claim to have the answer if our foreign policy has kept us safe, has escalated the defenses of other nations, or both.  Anyone that thinks they do, should take a look at the nuanced and complex debates within U.S. history.  But as liberals we should care about the costs of our foreign policies because it claims a lot of lives in the name of “national security” often veiled as American idealism.

The victory [WWII] now gave the US the right to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence for such purposes as we see fit, and by such means as we see fit.  Henry Luce [9]

In the past few decades, the U.S. has killed between 360,000 to 387,000 civilians due to its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan [10].  Supposedly, this is the cost others need to bear for us to assure our national security and the promotion of democratic ideals.  In going through America’s past wars and actions, there is an obvious trend of the U.S. doing whatever it wants, which is called American exceptionalism (i).  A complaint that I hear is that this is a progressive or revisionist view of history.  What they mean is that a revisionist’s account doesn’t equate American success with hegemony without considering how we achieved it.

Hegemony must respect international law and human rights; that is, it must be morally justified.  And justification is not pretense. The excuses for our foreign policies and wars have hardly changed, and the real reasons remain the same, i.e., to secure our geopolitical position (hegemony) and to promote and protect our economic interests [8] (ii).  A nationalistic account, on the other hand, is not particularly concerned about the welfare of others and appeals to our pride.  If we are nationalists who always think that we must come first, then we may prefer sources like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, or textbooks found in elementary school.

Nature of Nations

Hegemony is about being a dominant economic and military force.  The definition doesn’t stipulate if this is by prestige or force or if it is done with regard to others or ruthless.  Let us detour and see what biology says about this.  Human nature is both cooperative and competitive.  We have evolved over time to compete and cooperate in a way where dominance and the threat of force are no longer the preferred routes.  There are good reasons for this.  Instead, we cooperate and compete based on mutual benefit and positive displays (iii).  So instead of threatening others with force, we threaten one another with our status and competencies.

More succinctly, dominance, which uses the threat of force and makes us fearful, has been replaced with prestige, which uses the threat of eliciting positive attention from others and makes us feel insecure.  The older system hasn’t gone away, but our culture reinforces the use of prestige by its social norms while safeguarding against dominance through our penal institutions.  A natural question is why nations still relate to one another through dominance and the threat of force while individuals see this as a relic of the past?  This is because nations are unaccountable entities that consist of individuals with dangerous nationalistic pride.

What about international law and the people holding nations responsible for their actions?  International law has not been respected by U.S. officials.  It is used when we want to hold other countries accountable, but not us.  And the voice of the people is muted by the propaganda of right-winged media who pander to the interests of the state department while exploiting our tribal instincts.  The state department’s philosophy has always preferred dominance and the threat of force as the means for national security over diplomacy.  Although the strength that we project in national defense may deter most, it has the effect of antagonizing other groups.

Threats and Pretense

We should not be naive as there are genuine threats in the world.  Knowing what happened, for example, in China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cambodia and the Soviet Union, the U.S. had a legitimate concern with the spread of communism post WWII. Although the statism part of communism is necessary for dictators to exert their will, we cannot be sure that all forms of socialism lead to tyranny (iv).  The U.S. used propaganda, however, to demonize all socialist movements, which created a mass hysteria over communism. This lead to the U.S. encircling socialist “threats” with hundreds of military bases around the globe and supporting rightest regimes. Although we provided a justification for our hegemonic presence, we were not bringing freedom and democracy (v).

While rhetorically committed to freedom and democracy, the U.S. supported a host of repressive and dictatorial governments, including at various times, regimes in Greece, South Korea, French-controlled Vietnam (1950-54), South Vietnam (1954-75), Indonesia, Iran, Zaire, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Chile, Pakistan, and the Philippines.  The U.S. also covertly aided the overthrow of democratic governments, notably in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), and Chile (1973), each of which was replaced by a murderous rightist regime fully supported by the United States. [8]
So we were fighting the communists and bringing freedom and democracy.  Now we are fighting the terrorists and bringing freedom and democracy.  But besides West Germany and Japan, we brought instead instability and more bloodshed, while causing the Soviet Union to escalate its defenses.  We hyped the Soviet threat despite evidence to the contrary that Russia was “not motivated by Marxist ideology to aggressively take over the world.  Rather, they expressed the view that capitalism would eventually fall of its own accord [8].”  The same may be true for many Islamic terrorist groups.  In fact, Al Qaeda articulated why they waged war against us in that they despise our repressive regimes as well as our military presence within their holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Regardless if we believe or not that our dominating presence helped with national security, there were grave costs to this approach.

…at least three million Asian deaths in Southeast Asia, the wounding of millions more, the destruction of much of the Korean countryside [and three million Koreans], and the utter devastation of Vietnam, on which more bombs were dropped than on all the belligerents combined in World War II….  Bloodbaths in Indonesia, the Congo (now Zaire), Angola, Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina; the killing of thousands of peasants, students, trade unionists, priests, and nuns; the wiping out of entire villages by right-wing governments, police forces, militias, secretive death squads, many of them trained by and in the United States – these were the consequences of our cold war policy.

Law and Rhetoric

Children of Laos illustrating the devastation.

Children of Laos illustrate their attack by the U.S.[9]

If the Nazi activities represented a kind of apex to an age of inhumanity, American atrocities in Laos are clearly of a different order,” Branfman wrote.  “Not so much inhuman as a-human. The people of Na Nga and Nong Sa were not the object of anyone’s passion.  They simply weren’t considered.” [9]

The U.S. were training the Hmong to fight in a proxy war against the pro-communist Path Lao in the 1960s.  The people of Laos were also used as a means for the U.S. military to test their 2.1 million tons of explosives on.  What was interesting and egregious was that the U.S. soldiers had no animosity towards the natives and rationalized their killings as “it’s easier to lose your Hmong people than to lose Americans.”  So if we are irrelevant and insignificant, as the Hmong were, we are at risk for being manipulated and murdered by the U.S.  Furthermore, many of these bombs never detonated and hence are still destroying the Hmong population today, claiming 50,000 lives.  This shouldn’t, however, be surprising because other democratic empires, like Great Britain and Athens, were just as vicious.  In fact, there is no correlation with how democratic a nation is and their outside treatment of others.

Reagan-Bush State Department: the UN is “perfectly serviceable as an instrument of American unilateralism and indeed may be the primary mechanism through which that unilateralism will be exercised in the future.”  [2]

The intervention in Laos was obviously against international law since it was done in secrecy as were others.  The ones that we got caught for unlawful use of force include the invasion of Panama, Grenada, and Nicaragua.  As much as conservatives have undermined the United Nations, such as it being a “foolish fantasy”, there is no other mechanism for restraining nations from the use of irrational force.  The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a clear case of America bullying and manipulating everyone.  In fact, we drafted up our own resolution with ambiguous language, such as “serious consequences”, if Iraq failed to disarm.  No one, however, on the security council interpreted that as going to war.  But it did not matter if it passed or not because the US already made up their mind.

“The US-UK leaders “issued an ultimatum” to the United Nations Security Council: capitulate in twenty-four hours or we will invade Iraq and impose the regime of our choice without your meaningless seal of approval, and we will do so—crucially—whether or not Saddam Hussein and his family leave the country. Our invasion is legitimate, Bush declared, because “the United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security.” [2] (vi)

Donald Trump at one point called Howard Zinn, the revisionist historian, a propagandist which is not terribly insightful.  Because all information must come from a point of view in the hopes of changing minds.  In general, the left-winged view on national security places an emphasis on human rights and diplomacy while the right-winged view is on nationalism and the threat of force.  The U.S., however, is a self-conscious nation which means that diplomacy must be one-hundred percent self-interested and apologies are for weak nations.  When President Obama visited Laos for reparations, he failed to take responsibility for our wrongdoings, as it was just “part of war”, and neglected to to explain his intentions.  The real reason for the visit was to secure our ““Asia pivot strategy,” whose centerpiece is an expanded military presence that threatens a new arms race with China and perhaps new proxy wars [8].”


i) We are unique since we have the most democratic institutions, promote individualism, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and have gained a level of economic prosperity unrivaled.  But this idea of exceptionalism can go beyond pride and becomes hubris.  In fact, we are so special that we justify all of our wars and interferences with American mythology—”such as leaders of the free world”—but we are too self-righteous afterwards to acknowledge the damage done.  We are so special that reasonable and sound international legal principles don’t apply to us.  And, no, saying that this is the cost of war is not acknowledgement.  It is evasion.

ii) From a narrow perspective, everything the U.S. does towards national security contributes to its hegemony.  This comes from revisionist historians having high standards towards morality which includes the belief that war is almost never justified.  It is based on the principle of universality, which says that we must apply the same standards to ourselves as we do to our enemies.  But other perspectives, such as orthodox, have come up with different conclusions which never implicate the U.S. as escalating and causing conflicts.  For example, orthodox historians say that Russia was the cause of the Cold War and that the U.S. responded rationally.

The problem with a revisionist history, or any interpretive framework, is that it looks for some trends, say American hegemony, at the cost of other facts.  For example, the historian Melvyn Leffler notes that the U.S. misinterpreted and overestimated the Soviet Union’s intentions and capabilities, yet the U.S.’s intentions were earnest since they genuinely felt threatened and wanted to defend the U.S.  In other words, although there is evidence that the U.S. sought hegemony for its own sake, there is also evidence that they did this for perceived national security. There is even evidence at times that the U.S. restrained their power and acted prudent.

iii) Positive displays are the behaviors, personalities, and images that we project to elicit positive attention, value, and respect from others.  We compete to bestow value upon others which is signaled as a success when others value, accept, or respect us.

iv) I am not against other nations engaging in socialism if it means collective ownership of the means of production and property under a democratic government.  But any practical application of it has been statist; that is, the government owns the factors of production and property.  This makes the system vulnerable to dictators that can implement dangerous propaganda and policies.

v)  The evidence for this claim is based on two studies.  One study looked at interventions from  1945 to 2004, and only one “full fledged, stable democracy” developed within ten years.  Most experts agree that the process of democratization has to come from internal efforts and that imposing it usually results in “greater authoritarianism” or at best an autocracy.  The other study looked at cases from 1973 to 2005, where 42% of interventions resulted in no change, 30% resulted in less democracy, and 28% resulted in more democracy [3,6,11].  But the definition for democratization appears to be loosely based on the ability to hold free elections.

vi) I do not know if I agree with Bush here.  The security council must be more objective than Bush to determine if the use of force is for purposes of self-defense.  I would not know where to begin to understand Bush’s true intentions for going to war although it appears to be something like misdirected vengeance.  The war was worse than pre-emption as it is classified as preventive.


[1] Cheibub, Jose Antonio; Przeworski, Adam; Limongi Neto, Fernando Papaterra; Alvarez, Michael M. (1996). “What Makes Democracies Endure?”. Journal of Democracy. 7 (1): 39–55.

[2] Chomsky, Noam.  Hegemony or Survival.

[3] Hermann, Margaret G.; Kegley, Charles (1998). “The U.S. Use of Military Intervention to Promote Democracy: Evaluating the Record”. International Interactions. 24 (2): 91–114

[4] Leffler, Melvyn P.  Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism

[5] Shaprio, Ben.  Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings.  Time to Defund the United Nations.

[6]Tures, John A. “Operation Exporting Freedom: The Quest for Democratization via United States Military Operations” (PDF). Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations.

[7] The U.N. – International Human Rights Law.  International Law and Justice.

[8] United States Foreign Policy: History and Resource Guide.  Brutal Sideshows: Associated Wars in Laos and Cambodia

[9] United States Foreign Policy: History and Resource Guide.  Cold War interventionism, 1945-1990

[10] Watson Institute: International & Public Affairs

[11] Why Gun-Barrel Democracy Doesn’t Work”. Hoover Institution. Retrieved 2019-05-23.