We haven’t done a poll in so long

Sorry. I used to post links to online polls all the time, just to mock their worthlessness, but I sort of stopped as it sunk in that people were still taking them way too seriously. Here’s one that’s sort of interesting, though: Fox News has a series of online poll questions asking what you think of Trump’s performance on various issues. And the respondents are generally hammering> him!

Did I say this was a Fox News poll? I did. It’s just really weird. The votes are in the tens of thousands right now, and it’s a landslide against Trump.

Where were these people on election day?

I get email, spam edition

I get so much spam. Because my name is on the about page for Freethoughtblogs as some kind of official leader (really, I’m not — I keep telling everyone it’s total anarchy here, with all these writers going their own way), I get all this email from commercial outfits that want free advertising — they tell me they have written an article that is just perfect for our site, and they’re willing to let me publish it for free (sometimes they even offer to pay me for the privilege). It’s often clear that they have no idea what they’re doing, they’re just looking at traffic rankings and trying to get their site injected into the stream. They’re pathetic. Like Patrick here:

Hi there,

My name is Patrick, I am the main editor at redacted.com

Hi, Patrick. Did you know that redacted.com is a shit site selling worthless or dangerous diet pills? Aren’t you a little embarrassed to be a shill for such patent garbage?

While browsing your site, I noticed you have an amazing article from this page:

https://freethoughtblogs.com/yemmynisting/2015/02/09/losing-weight-is-not-an-endorsement-or-indictment-of-another-womans-body-stop-the-fatphobia/

Yes. It’s a good post. She writes lots of interesting things, I’m glad you noticed. But did you actually read what she wrote, or, Patrick, were you just randomly requesting attention on sites that used certain keywords? It’s all about how you shouldn’t judge people based on their bodies.

My team actually just published a comprehensive article on 44 Quick Effective Weight Loss, Body Shape Exercises for Women which I think your visitors would truly appreciate and add value to your awesome article.

You can check it out here: http://redacted.com/weight-loss-body-exercises-women/

Gosh, Patrick, it looks like you didn’t even glance at Yemmy’s article. You just saw the magic phrase “losing weight” in the URL.

If you were willing to add our link to that page, I would be more than happy to share it to thousands of our social followers to help you gain some visibility in exchange.

Ummm, no. We gain nothing by shilling for your crap page. You’re not looking to help us out at all — you want to tap into our readership to get more traffic to your worthless site.

I’m doing you a favor by not posting a link, because I don’t think our readers would like you very much.

Let me know what you think and thank you for your consideration!

Cheers,

Patrick

What do I think? Fuck you, Patrick.

And then there’s Sam.

Hey PZ,

It’s disappointing to see that we have not been able to (re)connect in the last several months even after so much outreach.

We thought this would be an easy win-win considering the success we’ve seen in the past with publishers like yourself. We’ve been able to utilize the scale of our network to generate a higher ROI and much more.

If you can spare a few minutes I would appreciate knowing what your priorities are so I can reach back out should we develop new offerings that are relevant to you.

Best,

Sam

You’re disappointed, Sam? You’re trying to play the guilt card? You’ve been working so hard to be my profitable friend?

Fuck you too, Sam. Better yet, how about if you and Patrick get together and fuck each other for me.

I know, you don’t have to tell me. I’m a terrible CEO for FtB. I’m just not diplomatic at all.

That was unsurprisingly quick

Sally Yates, the acting US attorney general, announced that she would not defend Trump’s criminal executive order banning travelers from some Muslim countries.

You will not be at all surprised to learn that she has been speedily fired and replaced.

You might, however, be very surprised at how petty and unprofessional the announcement from the White House was.

yates

That sounds like it came straight from the raging, petulant sphincter of Mr Trump himself, doesn’t it? I’d sure like to see a recording of the tantrum he threw when Sally Yates demonstrated that she was a person of principle and integrity.

I hope she lands a better job soon.

Immigrants everywhere

All this talk about immigrants lately had me wondering about my European roots, so I did a little bit of digging.

My father’s side of the family is hopeless. I think they came over to the Americas from England and the Netherlands in the bilge, along with the rats, and almost immediately lit out for the frontier, where ever it was, probably because they were all ruffians and scalawags who got chased out of any civilized settlement. They were immigrants, all right, but I don’t know of any reliable records. They’ve been here since the 17th century, I think, and probably up to no good.

My mother’s side is easier: all Scandinavian farmers. I knew my great grandparents with their strong accents and their house decorated with Swedish and Norwegian accents, and that’s where I learned to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Norwegian (don’t ask me now, I’ve completely forgotten).

My great grandfather, Peter Westad, was born in 1880, in Minnesota. He was American by birth! My great-great-grandfather, Jens Westad, was also born in America in 1850, also in Minnesota. It clearly took them several generations to acculturate. My great-great-grandfather, Dyre Westad, was apparently born in Norway, but that’s all I know about him.

The surprise, to me, was that it was the women who were all more recent immigrants. I guess those Norwegian bachelor farmers who were living the hard farming life in frigid Minnesota had to write off to the old country for their brides.

So, my great-grandmother, Christina Stephenson, was born in 1884 in Transtrand, Sweden, and came over to the US in her early 20s to marry Peter. I had to look up Transtrand: current population is 386, so I guess it wasn’t too great of a shock to move to northern Minnesota.

My great-great-grandmother, Marit Olsdatter, was also an import, born in Flesberg, Norway in 1849, and brought to the US to marry Jens. Flesberg seems a bit more cosmopolitan now, with a population of 2500.

I hadn’t realized what a lovely example of chain migration was in my family history, where one or a few pioneers establish a foothold and then bring in friends and family at later dates to build up a community. It’s also an example of how immigrant families adapt over time, where time is several generations.

It’s also what’s going on with families from Somalia and Syria and all those other countries our government wants to ban — which is nothing less than an effort to disrupt that pattern of chain migration which is so important to accommodating people to a new country. There’s no difference in the general pattern between a Scandinavian family in the 1850s and a Somali family in the 2000s — let ’em live and grow and they will be a productive part of the American culture.

What part of your family would have been wrecked by current policies?


I had another thought: those radical immigrants, coming in and challenging the established order, are one of the concerns of the powers-that-be. The Scandinavians had them, too, like Joel Emmanuel Hägglund from Gävle, Sweden, better known as Joe Hill. A labor activist and songwriter, he was killed by The Man in 1915.

We need more Joe Hills. Maybe they’ll come from those Muslim countries this time around.

“Identity politics” is racist code

Accusing someone of “identity politics” is the new, genteel way of calling them a “nigger lover”. I still remember being shocked into silence when I was about 15 years old, and my fervently Christian, home-schooling, John Bircher relation called me that, with a patronizing smile, after I tried to explain that no, black people are not more closely related evolutionarily to gorillas than are white people. He had pretensions to intellectualism, so I’m sure he would have loved the phrase “identity politics”. It’s excellent double-speak. Take a term that refers to a tendency to splinter into groups that favor narrower causes built around race, religion, or class, and apply it exclusively to any person who promotes a more inclusive, broader politics, one that crosses racial and sexual boundaries, the exact opposite of what the term implies. At the same time, avoid labeling what the white supremacists, the KKK, the alt-right, and the neo-Nazis do as identity politics, even though that would be far more accurate.

I was stunned and unable to respond when I was 15, but I’ve had 45 years now to think about it (l’esprit de l’escalier with a vengeance!). It’s been decades of being called a faggot, a Jew, a race traitor, and all sorts of variants of the identity politics insult, and I can confidently say now that it’s true: I am an old white heterosexual man, and I reject the politics of white heterosexual male supremacy, which is what you’re really trying to say. I don’t think my gender or race automatically make me a better human being. You think yours does, and that makes you a worse human being. It’s hard work to lift ourselves above our prejudices, and anyone who uses the phrase “identity politics” to disparage those who are trying is displaying their own lazily held biases. It’s virtue signaling to your fellow bigots.

I say this in response to a post by a well-regarded Atheist Hero, Sam Harris, A Few Thoughts on the “Muslim Ban”. The fact that he puts it in quotes is foreshadowing.

He makes it crystal clear that he detests Donald Trump — calling him “a malignant Chauncey Gardiner” is a good phrase — and that he thinks the implementation of the ban is terrible policy and inconsistent in its targets. But this is Sam at his oiliest: he is able to condemn Trump without reservation, but the ban…well, its real problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and it’s undermined by those damned liberal leftists who are unable to see the true, depraved evil of Islam, the standard Sam Harris rant. You see, the real cause of all of our problems is not the right wing and demagogues like Trump, it’s the Left and their identity politics.

However, most of what is being said in opposition to Trump’s order is thoroughly contaminated by identity politics and liberal delusion. The Left seems determined to empower the Right by continuing to lie about the problem of Islamism. As David Frum recently wrote, “When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t do.” I have been saying as much for more than a decade—and am vilified by my fellow liberals whenever I do.

Yes, Sam, you are, because we can see right through you to your conservative heart and decidedly illiberal views. That one paragraph is a perfect example.

“Identity politics” is a far right dog whistle. The only identity politics being practiced is a refusal to accept the privileges of being a white man — the only division being fomented here is between a larger vision of a united humanity and the bigotry of the status quo. It is also classic Harris to place the blame for Trump not on the people who voted for him, or the cowardly, amoral power brokers of the Republican party, or the corporatist drift of an out-of-touch Democratic party, but on the progressive, liberal people who rejected Trump and are now leading the angry opposition. It’s madness. It’s like blaming centuries of authoritarian religious oppression by the Catholic Church on those horrible atheists and pagans.

The only lying here is by Harris. He quotes David Frum — David Frum! — making the common argument that liberals can’t be true patriots, claiming that we are insufficiently zealous in being isolationist and xenophobic. There’s more to being an American than being a bigoted nativist (although, to be honest, that has historically been a significant part of being American). Liberals do not argue for the necessity of fascism to defend ourselves. It turns out that we actually think the diverse people who inhabit this country are ourselves, and what we oppose is the fascist politics of racism. The assumptions of Harris and Frum are fundamentally wrong. That we can embrace immigrants who have chosen to live in our country, whether they are Mexican or Muslim, is our patriotism, our values, our appreciation of an American identity. The America of Harris and Frum is a meaner, insular, provincial place, and that we reject their vision does not imply that we want a police state by default.

I really can’t get over the fact that he quotes David Frum to characterize liberals. Frum was a speech-writer to George W. Bush (he’s proud to have coined the Manichaean phrase “axis of evil”, which is perfectly Harrisean). He worked for the Reagan and Giuliani campaigns. He’s a neocon who supported the Iraq war. And he is the authority my “fellow liberal” Sam Harris turns to to explain liberalism? I am so unsurprised. They are very sympatico.

Then Harris says something I agree with.

It is perfectly possible—and increasingly necessary—to speak about the ideological roots of Islamism and jihadism, and even about the unique need for reform within mainstream Islam itself, without lapsing into bigotry or disregarding the suffering of refugees. Indeed, when one understands the problem for what it is, one realizes that secular Muslims, liberal Muslims, and former Muslims are among the most desirable allies to have in the West—and, indeed, such people are the primary victims of Islamist intolerance and jihadist terror in Muslim-majority countries.

Yes. I can despise Islam while at the same time recognizing that I have a moral duty to defend Muslims from oppression, violence, and discrimination. I am also able to recognize that someone identifying as Muslim has not confessed to being an Islamist on jihad. So why isn’t Liberal Sam condemning in plain English any kind of “Muslim Ban”? I can’t think of many better ways to alienate secular and liberal Muslims than making blanket prohibitions of entire nations of people from setting foot in America.

Well, I can think of one better way: we could bomb them and kill their civilians. We do that, too.

Harris, however, cannot categorically reject the Trump policy, because he favors something similar — maybe implemented with more finesse, with more carefully placed weasel words, but exactly the same in effect. So he writes a “few words” on the Muslim ban that consist of denouncements of the liberals who are out on the streets and in the airports right now protesting against this uncivil oppression. It’s telling.

Harris is not alone, however. Have you seen the latest from Steven Pinker?


Scientists’ March on Washington plan compromises its goals with anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric https://goo.gl/AVB7mR

Whoa. The March for Science is anti-science? Where does that come from?

It apparently comes from “identity politics”, which in this case, means the March for Science openly invites diversity. Here’s the horrible hard-left compromising rhetoric of that web page:

In the past days, scientists have voiced concern over many issues – gag orders for government science agencies, funding freezes, and reversing science based policies. We recognize that these changes will differently and disproportionately affect minority scientists, science advocates, and the global communities impacted by these changes in American policies. Addressing these issues is imperative in understanding how recent developments will affect all people – not simply the most privileged among us. We take seriously your concerns that for this march to be meaningful, we must centralize diversity of the march’s organizers at all levels of planning. Diversity must also be reflected in the march itself —both through the mission statement and those who participate.

We hear you, and thank you for your criticism. At the March for Science, we are committed to centralizing, highlighting, standing in solidarity with, and acting as accomplices with black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, indigenous, non-Christian, women, people with disabilities, poor, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans, non-binary, agender, and intersex scientists and science advocates. We must work to make science available to everyone and encouraging individuals of all backgrounds to pursue science careers, especially in advanced degrees and positions. A diverse group of scientists produces increasingly diverse research, which broadens, strengthens, and enriches scientific inquiry, and therefore, our understanding of the world.

That’s what Pinker considers anti-science: a statement that clearly declares their intent not to discriminate. He might want to check out the NIH policies on inclusion — it’s even more thorough. I guess the NIH is anti-science.

Or perhaps he should wag an angry finger at those damned SJWs at the NSF and NASA. Totally PC. Must be anti-science. Thinking that people with disabilities, or uteruses, or too much melanin in their skin, should actually be respected for their skills is such a deplorable hard left position to take.

The March for Science also includes a blatant example of identity politics.

Who can participate:

Anyone who values science. That’s the only requirement.

Yep. Maybe that’s what annoyed Pinker. A refusal to discriminate on the basis of racial or other identity is “identity politics” to bigots.

Flood the phone lines

The situation is outrageous — we have so many conflicts with our government right now, all thanks to the mob of ghastly Republicans that have abandoned all moral authority and are supporting our capitol’s resident incompetent thug. What can we do?

Here’s one easy solution: use the 5 calls service right now. Go to that site, enter your zip code, and it lists a collection of progressive liberal causes that are under assault right now, lists the phone numbers of your representatives, and prompts you through a quick phone call to register your position. It’s simple. My wife and I just sat down and fired off a bunch of phone messages to Klobuchar and Franken (and tried to get through to our representative, Collin Peterson, but his voice mail is clogged with calls).

You can do it. Do it. Do it NOOOOOW.

You don’t like phoning strangers? I don’t blame you. I have phone anxiety, too. Another thing you can do is donate to good causes — the ACLU is a great choice right now. Minnesotans: here’s a directory of racial equality resources. Donate to CAIR, or the ADL, or the Hmong Resource Center, the Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota. Or if you’d rather, here are some LGBTQ and allied organizations. Help ’em out if you can.

And don’t forget to stand up and march in protest when the opportunities come around.

I’m an EX-Lutheran. Do I still have to register?

Uh-oh. I agree with this. Lutherans are a terrible people who have inflicted much pain and suffering on others in their history, and if we’re going to start discriminating against people for their religion, it’s a fine place to start.

lutheranregistry

But…but…I was brought up as a Lutheran. I’ve since renounced the faith, but my driver’s license does say “Minnesøda”, and I’ve got Scandinavian grandma stories to tell, and I know a few Ole & Lena jokes, and I might be able to remember a verse or two of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. This is probably enough to indict me, especially since our country’s new Muslim ban doesn’t give a flying goddamn about what people think, but just makes sweeping prohibitions based on country of origin.

I also probably belong on the list because hot dish and weak church coffee are enough to inspire me to contemplate revolution already.

I was worried for a moment that I’d also have to be on the atheist registry, but the ongoing alignment of that philosophy with neocon principles might actually counterbalance the Lutheran entanglement. Unless it’s an SJW Atheist registry, then I’ll be doubly damned.

How has your weekend been so far?

Mine hasn’t been so great. I’ve mainly been watching my country collapse around me.

This is all going to end in a bloody revolution, isn’t it?