Trump is making me agree with North Korea

North Korea is a tyrannical, backward mess, and suddenly I’m made to feel like their country is the sane one compared to our commander-in-chief. Here’s the full text of North Korea’s reaction to Trump’s UN speech.

The speech made by the U.S. president in his maiden address on the U.N. arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean Peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.

Shaping the general idea of what he would say, I expected he would make stereotyped, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the U.N. arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.

After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.

His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the D.P.R.K. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

As a man representing the D.P.R.K. and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the D.P.R.K.

This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump.

I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

Our madman is egging their madman on. As the country with the greater power, it is our responsibility to cool this war of words down…and our president is incapable of normal, rational diplomacy. People will die over these words at this rate.

Maybe it would have been more popular if they called it “Hate Speech Week”

Truth in advertising and all that, you know.

Milo Yiannopoulos, desperate to gather together the tattered shreds of his relevance, announced this past summer that there would be a “four day extravaganza” on the Berkeley campus that he called “Free Speech Week”. There was a preliminary list of potential speakers, including Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, James Damore, Mike Cernovich, Stephen Bannon, etc., which indicated that they were planning a total shit-show of horrible people, which certainly would test the limits of free speech. It turned out, though, they hadn’t bothered to ask most of those people, and the prospective speakers were a bit surprised to learn of it. Milo claimed to have $12 million in backing.

But the funny thing is, it doesn’t seem to be happening. It’ll still fill the need to feed the conservative persecution complex if it all falls apart, but it looks like they weren’t even seriously trying.

From the get-go, however, there have been various problems and unanswered questions, starting with the student group that was actually supposed to host “Free Speech Week.” This group, called the Berkeley Patriot, didn’t exist at all before July. Its site has five blog posts, its Facebook page shows no signs of real community and its Twitter account has 16 followers and no tweets. Both the blog and the Facebook page were started on Aug. 25 — shortly after Yiannopoulos announced he was working with this group to stage a major event on the Berkeley campus.

Despite being a tiny organization with no visible history, Berkeley Patriot had a huge ask: It not only wanted to hold events in the usual rooms offered at no charge for student events, but also wanted to rent Zellerbach Hall and Wheeler Auditorium, two of the largest venues on campus. The former of those, for instance, seats around 2,000 people and is mostly used for concerts and major performing arts events. According to the university, Berkeley Patriot was given three deadlines — Aug. 18, Aug. 25 and, finally, Sept. 15 — to sign a contract and pay the $65,000 rental fee for the two auditoriums. The students failed to do that.

Huh. Imagine that.

There is a problem lurking here with the student groups. Students get a real deal on these events: students can book any room on campus, complete with audio-visual gear, seating appropriate for 20 students to 400 students (we’re a small college, so we don’t have those 2000 seat auditoriums) at no charge. What it means is that a conservative with lots of cash can astro-turf a “student group” into existence by finding one or a few compliant students and getting them to host what is essentially a non-student event that is nominally student driven. It’s possible because universities are diverse, and there will always be far right wing students in attendance to provide an entry point. The Morris North Star, the ghastly ultra-right student paper that was here at my university for a couple of years, was a case in point: there was no organic drive to support it, it was managed by just a few students, and it got external money thrown at it…and it fell apart as soon as a few students graduated and the money bags didn’t get delivered anymore.

Milo Yiannopoulos, by the way, is a college dropout who has no connection at all to Berkeley. He’s the very definition of an outside agitator taking advantage of loopholes in college administration.

But it turns out that they — Milo and the students — were either incompetent or had a sneakier plan in mind. They aren’t going to have an official room or rooms or building for this event, so instead, they’re inviting random mobs of the kind of people who want to hear Coulter or Cernovich to show up and march around the campus. He’s nurturing this narrative that they were unjustly denied official space by Berkeley to fuel resentment. His little gang of neo-Nazis will wander around, being nasty, and when Berkeley rightfully cracks down on them, he’ll howl about persecution.

The alt-right thrives on the idea that it is being oppressed by violent leftists, a narrative that was in danger of dying out after a white supremacist killed a peaceful counter-protester and injured many others with a terrorist-style attack in Charlottesville. With his Berkeley event, Yiannopoulos has created and nurtured an atmosphere of right-wing grievance and anger — and now his gathering will happen outside, on the streets, with maximum opportunity for violent clashes between right-wing racists and counter-protesters. You might almost think that was how he designed it.

As if disrupting the work of the university is something Nazis should be allowed to do.

I’m sure that went over well

Donald Trump spoke at the UN, and threatened to murder 25 million people if he doesn’t get his way.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea unless Pyongyang backs down from its nuclear challenge, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Benjamin Netanyahu liked it.

It is well past time to depose this madman.

The rest of the story…

Everywhere I turn the last day or two, someone is posting that spectacular video of a Nazi getting punched in Seattle — and really getting walloped, ending up flattened and unmoving on the sidewalk. The puncher knew what he was doing.

I approve of Nazi-punching. I know, it’s violent action, but when you’re dealing with people advocating for genocide, a little ramping up of the response is appropriate and necessary. Not whip-out-a-gun-&-shoot escalation, not run-’em-over-with-a-car execution, which is what they have done, but we can’t avoid a sock-’em-in-the-jaw response to fighting words and extreme provocation. And yes, I think it’s fair to regard parading about in Nazi gear is extreme provocation.

The Stranger also has more background on the incident.

  • Obviously, the man is wearing an armband with a Nazi swastika on it, on public transportation,
    in Ballard and center city. He’s spoiling for a confrontation.

  • He harassed a black man on the bus.

  • He was wandering around, yelling at random people — it was characterized as “Alex Jones” style yelling.

  • Other people were alarmed enough that they called the police.

  • He threw a banana at someone and called them an ape.

  • When the police arrived, nothing was done because the Nazi would not press charges, nor would anyone else complain.

It’s fair to say he was trying to provoke a reaction. He got one. I’m actually a little more troubled by this than I am by the punching:

When the man in the armband began to recover, he rolled over onto his hands and knees and reached up to someone for help, but “nobody wanted to help him,” Duff said. Soon, police officers patrolling the area arrived to the scene and the crowd dispersed.

“Everyone was so joyous,” Duff said. “It was like a bonding for the community.”

No. Don’t be joyous. Punching Nazis is an unpleasant, necessary action, not something to celebrate and bond over. Let’s take this seriously: we have a genuine problem with a subset of the citizenry advocating for racism and normalizing deportation and mass murder, and we have to take a range of actions, most of them political and social, against them…and sometimes that may involve physically subduing them. Let’s not do it because it’s fun. Do it because we want to suppress violence.

Also, boy do I miss Seattle. I need an excuse to get back there and recharge…but unfortunately it’s not going to fit into my travel plans for a while.

Classicists and atheists of the world, unite!

The alt-right have a fondness for justifying their beliefs with mangled historical references and assertions that only white people have contributed significantly to culture. The historians and classicists have noticed, and are beginning to marshal resources to fight back. So here you go, a preliminary list of articles that rebut fascist claims. The Nazi wanna-bes are going to hate it. But, as Donna Zuckerberg frankly admits, there is a danger of temptation.

The Alt-Right is hungry to learn more about the ancient world. It believes that the classics are integral to education. It is utterly convinced that classical antiquity is relevant to the world we live in today, a comfort to classicists who have spent decades worrying that the field may be sliding into irrelevance in the eyes of the public.

The next four years are going to be a very difficult time for many people. But if we’re not careful, it could be a dangerously easy time for those who study ancient Greece and Rome. Classics, supported by the worst men on the Internet, could experience a renaissance and be propelled to a position of ultimate prestige within the humanities during the Trump administration, as it was in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Classics made great again.

This is my call to arms for all classicists. No matter how white and male Classics once was, we are not that anymore. In spite of the numerous obstacles that remain, our field is now more diverse than ever, and that is something to be proud of.

These men are positioning themselves as the defenders of Western Civilization. Classicists, when you see this rhetoric, fight back. We must not allow the Alt-Right to define what Classics will mean in Trump’s America.

But she also points out what needs to be done.

It is time for Classics as a discipline to say to these men: we will not give you more fodder for your ludicrous theory that white men are morally and intellectually superior to all other races and genders. We do not support your myopic vision of “Western Civilization.” Your version of antiquity is shallow, poorly contextualized, and unnuanced. When you use the classics to support your hateful ideas, we will push back by exposing just how weak your understanding is, how much you have invested in something about which you know so little.

She also provides a specific list of actions classics experts should take, as the alt-right continues to invade and appropriate their discipline, especially in light of the fact that classics already has a problem with people who see the field as “the study of one elite white man after another”. Boy, does this resonate: this is exactly the problem we have in atheism, too. Some of these solutions apply to us.

  1. When you hear someone —be they a student, a colleague, or an amateur — say that they are interested in Classics because of “the Greek miracle” or because Classics is “the foundation of Western civilization and culture,” challenge that viewpoint respectfully but forcefully. Engage them on their assumed definitions of “foundation,” “Western,” “civilization,” and “culture.” Point out that such ideas are a slippery slope to white supremacy. Seek better reasons for studying Classics.

  2. In your scholarship, focus on the parts of antiquity that aren’t elite white men. Read and cite the work of scholars who write about race, gender, and class in the ancient world. Be open about the marginalization and bias that exists within our discipline. Model a kind of Classics that isn’t quite so congenial to the neo-Nazis of the Alt-Right.

  3. As the Alt-Right becomes more vocal and normalized, we may face pressure to frame our research and teaching in a way that will appeal to this new audience of Classics enthusiasts. Resist that pressure.

  4. Do not write content for these men. Sometimes they publish articles such as “Mate, Hate is Great! A Philosophical Defense of Misogyny”; if you are approached to contribute to such a blog, refuse and write about the incident instead.

  5. Consider coming out in support of progressive student and community movements. Classics has a long history of regressive politics, and if we are serious about social justice and activism, we must speak out.

  6. Write to professional Classics organizations, including the Society for Classical Studies, and encourage them to take a stand against these groups. Samuel Huskey has written and shared a lovely example of such a letter.

  7. If you are so inclined, engage with the classical reception that these men produce. There is a narrative blooming that you can see in that Breitbart Guide to the Alt-Right, where the writers claim, “Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.” But the Alt-Right are not “dangerously bright.” They are young men — if you’ll excuse the pun, the kids are alt-right — whose inane readings of classical texts often provide a window into their intellectual shortcomings.

  8. I am considering creating a Tumblr to document examples of Alt-Right Classics. If you are interested in contributing, contact the Eidolon team (eidolon@paideia-institute.org).

Note especially #4, which is particularly relevant given recent attempts to draft popular atheists to attend and speak at alt-right conferences. Zuckerberg’s response to that would be…don’t.


I have to add this statement from the Society for Classical Studies:

…the Society strongly supports efforts to include all groups among those who study and teach the ancient world, and to encourage understanding of antiquity by all. It vigorously and unequivocally opposes any attempt to distort the diverse realities of the Greek and Roman world by enlisting the Classics in the service of ideologies of exclusion, whether based on race, color, national origin, gender, or any other criterion. As scholars and teachers, we condemn the use of the texts, ideals, and images of the Greek and Roman world to promote racism or a view of the Classical world as the unique inheritance of a falsely-imagined and narrowly-conceived western civilization.

Anticlimax

The Mother of All Rallies took place in Washington DC yesterday. It was supposed to be a loud, proud, strong pro-Trump rally. It was a bust. About 500 people showed up.

Meanwhile, at the same time and also on the mall, fans of the Insane Clown Posse demonstrated. About 1500 of them showed up. They were there to defend their civil rights.

Gill and every other speaker at the Juggalo rally preached inclusivity with a passion that speakers at the pro-Trump rally reserved for subjects liker border security.

“We don’t care if you’re black, white, Hispanic, straight, gay, trans, fat as fuck or skinny as a broom stick,” Gill said, adding everyone is welcome to be or support Juggalos.

I can’t believe that today I’m sitting here admiring the righteousness of Juggalos, but I am. And it’s not just because I’m laughing at the Trumpkins.

What our students are learning

Atrios describes it perfectly.

Some Powerless College Students Are The Greatest Threat To Free Speech The World Has Ever Known

Anyone who has spent a bit of time around especially elite college campuses knows that while, yes, sometimes students protest right wing speakers – sometimes this is perfectly right and good and sometimes you can argue that they go too far and the heckler’s veto is rarely if ever appropriate but these things are always a bit more complicated than people make them out to be – it’s pressure from the top that tends to discourage left wing speakers from coming to campus. There are academics and activists on the campus circuit who every knows are “controversial,” quite often because of rather strong left wing views on things like war, carceral state, economics, racial issues, etc. Black “radicals,” commies, Palestinian activists, etc. Watch those pots of money mysteriously disappear if you try to put your hands in them to fund a visit by one of these speakers. To put it simply, it’s not controversial at all to advocate invading a country for lies, and then profiting handsomely off of that, but it is controversial to suggest that maybe, just maybe, when police are executing people in your communities that something more than accepting it quietly is necessary. Military and cops are good, the poor and the marginalized are suspect. And these are our liberal institutions!

Anyway, the administration and money have the power and more importantly the need to cater to power. The kids have protest. People get very upset about the kids. It’s always revealing.

We see it all the time. Armed Nazis chant racist slogans and threaten millions with death and deportation, and kill people; the police are on their side. Young people with a better sense of morality than our national leaders protest because they must, and the New York Times and other organs of the status quo get the vapors about antifa. It plays out like that over and over again. The only criticism I have of that summary is that it isn’t just the elite colleges — it goes on at state and community colleges, too.

But it is true that the richer the university, the more conservative its administration. Look at Harvard; it’s prestigious, that is so, but it’s also run by people who have been promoted for their zealotry in defending the endowment and propping up the richest people in the country. See the ethical blindness they proudly exhibit in the dismissal of Chelsea Manning:

A member of Manning’s support team challenged Elmendorf to explain why Harvard was so anxious about giving her the title of “visiting fellow” when in the same roster of this year’s fellows they had included Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s former White House press secretary, and Trump’s former presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with assaulting a reporter during the 2016 race.

They noted what they suggested was the absurdity of honouring two prominent members of a presidential campaign notorious for its bending of the truth and controversial stances on race issues in America.

Elmendorf further alienated the Manning team by responding that Spicer and Lewandowski “brought something to the table” and could teach the Harvard audience something. That, for the recipients of the phone conversation, implied that the whistleblower by contrast had nothing to contribute.

That she was regarded as less useful to educating the Harvard audience than two corrupt frauds is not surprising; what was surprising is that she got an invitation in the first place. The corrupt frauds represent Harvard values better than someone who exposed corruption in the execution of the war in Afghanistan. The crime isn’t murdering civilians, in Harvard’s eyes, it’s revealing those murders to the world.

A wee happy omen of radicalization in the correct direction, for a change

People are always complaining about those danged liberal universities, especially places like mine where we even have “liberal” in the category label. But I always wonder where they get these ideas, because in general students are here to learn, rather than push an agenda, and we keep them busy with things like math. The only exception is, that if you’d been here last year, you would have noticed our bulletin boards were flooded with student-selected Libertarian crapola…”Taxation is Theft” posters, and paeans to capitalism generously provided by right-wing think tanks. It was weird, because it wasn’t at all representative of overall campus sentiment, but was what our tiny minority of raving right-wingers were promoting (see also the Morris North Star, which seems to be happily defunct now).

This year, though, it’s a little different. I was brought up short when I passed a bulletin board and saw this posted:

Awww. The little leftist ragamuffins are getting emboldened. This makes me so happy.

It comes from an organization called crimethinc.

CrimethInc. is a rebel alliance—a decentralized network pledged to anonymous collective action—a breakout from the prisons of our age. We strive to reinvent our lives and our world according to the principles of self-determination and mutual aid.

We believe that you should be free to dispose of your limitless potential on your own terms: that no government, market, or ideology should be able to dictate what your life can be. If you agree, let’s do something about it.

Honestly, most of the noise on campuses gets made by the radical right — see also recent events at Berkeley — so it warms my heart to see that some of our students are finally waking up and making a few quiet protests. Bravo!

Say, isn’t this a prime example of “deplatforming”?

The Harvard Institute of Politics invited a number of people to be Fellows. It was the usual Wingnut Welfare event, where a collection of unqualified nincompoops who’s only reason for existence is to promote far right inanity were invited. Sean Spicer will be there. As will Joe Scarborough. And…

The roster of IOP fellows in 2017 includes Benghazi faker Jason Chaffetz, professional political thug Corey Lewandowski, professional bad liar Sean Spicer, and run-of-the-mill wingnuts Mary Katherine Ham and Guy Benson. (You should keep all these names in mind the next time you read conservative whinging about how oppressed they are. This is a nice gig here.) And, while I was contemplating what Lewandowski could possibly “impact” on students other than a seminar on how to go goon on female reporters, the really heavy shoe dropped.

The surprise was that they also invited…Chelsea Manning.

Which immediately prompted screeching from the conservatives.

Which was — unsurprisingly — effective.

“We are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow — and the perceived honor that it implies to some people — while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.

“I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation.”

Cowardly fuckers.

So…everyone, even the right wing, alt-right, Nazi centrist atheists, are all going to complain and denounce this decision?

Just remember, an invitation from the Kennedy School, which thinks Spicer, Lewandowski, and Chaffetz are worthy recipients of the ‘honor’, isn’t really an honor.