That’s how it’s done

It made me laugh to see Jason Kessler, organizer of the Charlottesville hate march, get heckled so fiercely he had to run away.

Even better is watching the memorials to traitors come down.

It’s classic. Remember how everyone cheered when the statues of Lenin and Stalin were toppled, or the gleeful destruction of Saddam’s monuments? Only difference is that these Confederates were the losers who should never have had statues put up in the first place.

Tucker Carlson, xenophobic bigot and dumbass

I’m incapable of watching Tucker Carlson — it’s not just the dumb things he says, but that face he makes when someone he disagrees with says something smarter than he is. The knitted brows, the slightly parted lips, he looks like a yokel trying to puzzle out whether he likes this strange new experience, although he’s pretty sure he doesn’t.

But fortunately, some people do suffer through his shows to figure out what he’s doing, and it’s not pretty. It’s pure white supremacist bullshit, although he cunningly avoids coming right out and saying it. Instead of saying the 14 words, he just cusses out immigrants of all kinds and praises Western Culture, whatever that is.

The last few seconds are ironic. On this one issue, Bill O’Reilly was slightly better than Tucker Carlson (which is not to say that on other issues, he wasn’t worse). The Fox News audience is invariably drawn towards the very worst people.

Where’s my magical truth detector? I’m sure it’s somewhere in my lab.

Last week, Mary Beard was getting sneered at because she agreed that the Roman Empire was ethnically diverse, and that — gasp, shock horror — there were brown people living in ancient Britain. She’s still getting sneered at, of course, because one thing racists really hate is being told their prejudices aren’t empirical facts. But at least the silly contretemps stirred up some excellent responses.

Jennifer Raff summarizes the complexities of ancient DNA analysis, and also makes an important point: it takes a village. There isn’t one unambiguous perfect path to the Truth™.

Framing this issue as a debate between hard science and fuzzy humanities is simply nonsense. Reconstructing the past is a multidisciplinary effort, and I can’t think of a single geneticist who wouldn’t candidly admit to many limitations in our approaches. To get around these limitations, and to improve the collection and interpretation of our data, we work closely with collaborators in other disciplines: archaeologists, linguists, osteologists, specialists in stable isotope analysis, and yes, even historians. Perhaps instead of fussing about whether cartoon characters conform to our beliefs about how the ancient world should have been, our energies would be better spent in learning more about how it actually was.

Yes. One of the hallmarks of the current round of Nazi pseudoscience is their claim of far more certainty than we actually have, and insistence that genetics and molecular biology, which they don’t understand, offer perfect clarity on race. The only perfect clarity we have is that it’s a complicated muddle.

Massimo Pigliucci goes after the philosophy behind these biases, and offers a good explanation of scientism.

It’s a good thing Mr. Taleb was being polite, I hate to imagine what he’s like when he’s not. Of course, so far as I know, he is no rocket scientist either, and he also operates under a “structural bias.” We all do, there is plenty of empirical evidence (not to mention good philosophy of science, but of course that’s just part of the humanities, which lack intellectual rigor anyway) that everyone is affected by personal cognitive biases. Moreover, any organized enterprise — not just the academic study of history, but also the practice of statistics, or population genetics, or whatever — is affected by structural constraints and biases. That’s just another way of saying that no human being, or organized group of human beings, has access to a god’s eye view of the world. All we have is a number of perspectives to compare. Which is a major reason, as articulated by philosopher Helen Longino, to work toward increasing diversity in the sciences: many individually biased points of view enter into dialogue with each other, yielding a less (but still) biased outcome.

The mistake of scientism is to elevate scientific knowledge and data crunching to a level of certainty and competence they most definitely do not have, while at the same time dismissing every other approach as obsolete nonsense. But human knowledge and understanding are not zero sum games. On the contrary, they work best when we expand, rather than artificially or ideologically limit, our methods and sources of evidence. The scientistic game is foolish not just because it is incoherent (what statistical, empirical evidence do we have that scientism works? What does that even mean??), but because it is dangerously self-serving. It makes a promise on behalf of science that science cannot possibly maintain. And this in the midst of an already strongly anti-intellectual climate where half of the American public, for instance, rejects the very notion of global warming and does not believe in the theory of evolution.

It really bugs me to see prominent people spreading a cartoon version of what science is — whether it’s Pinker to now, Taleb — and continued progress in science demands that we explore multiple perspectives on the evidence, and try our best to shake ourselves out of our comfortable biases.

Ignorance is a powerful force

Charles Pierce is dismayed and despairing. But at least we know who to blame: the guilty parties have been proudly engaged in driving the country into the gutter for decades.

Every Republican who ever played footsie with the militias out west owns this bloodshed.

Every Republican who ever spoke to, or was honored by, the Council of Conservative Citizens and/or the League of the South owns this bloodshed.

Every Republican administration that ever went out of its way to hire Pat Buchanan, and every TV executive who ever cut him a check, and every Republican who voted for him in 1992, and everyone who ever has pretended his views differed substantially from the ones in the streets this weekend, owns this bloodshed.

Every Republican president—actually, there’s only one—who began a campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to talk about states rights, and who sent his attorney general into court to fight for tax exemptions for segregated academies, owns this bloodshed.

Every Republican politician who followed the late Lee Atwater into the woods in search of poisoned treasure owns this bloodshed.

Every conservative journalist who saw this happening and who encouraged it, or ignored it, or pretended that it wasn’t happening, owns this bloodshed.

The modern conservative movement—born of the Goldwater campaign, nurtured by millions of dollars from corporations and rightwing sugar daddies, sold day after day on millions of radios and on its own TV network—shoved the Republican Party right where it was dying to go anyway. These were institutions whose job it was to isolate this encroaching dementia from afflicting our politics in general.

Last November, we saw the culmination of four decades of the Republican Party trying to have it both ways, profiting from the darkest forces in American culture while maintaining a respectable cosmetic distance. On Saturday, we saw the culmination of the election that produced. At least, I’m praying this is the culmination. But I’m not sure about anything anymore.

All true. But what disturbs me most is this: our enemies are idiots.

We feared the tyrannical despot with vast armies at his disposal; the cunning wormtongue who undermines strong leadership. Who knew it would be a swarm of lice with the brains of 8 year olds, nattering inanely for the “lulz”, going “kek, kek” with a cartoon frog as their symbol?

I read the Daily Stormer article titled Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut*. Worse, I read the comments. My estimation of the intelligence of that crowd plummeted astonishingly, given that I had no high impression of them in the first place. I may have overestimated them in my comparison with 8 year olds — the pettiness, the viciousness, the amazing arrogance of these people patting themselves on the back for their “cleverness” and “wit” in going to great lengths to smear this woman they didn’t know, and who found villainy in the most innocent bits of information they could find (they dug up a photo of her with a black man — rage flared instantly) were appalling.

Stupidity, ignorance, and bigotry are the forces that are tearing apart the Republic.


*Not linking to it, obviously. One: Andrew Anglin doesn’t need the attention. Two: the Daily Stormer is currently featuring a front page splat from Anonymous, claiming they’ve taken it down (strangely, Anonymous says they haven’t). And three: GoDaddy, not the most progressive of hosting services, has finally had enough and announced that they are terminating their contract, and it’s going to be gone in 24 hours.

It isn’t just the South

His name was Henry Towne. He was a second cousin on my father’s side; he was always cheerful and laughing, and was the life of every party. He was also a fanatical John Bircher, and his house always had signs outside: “US OUT OF THE UN!”, and various such slogans. I felt sorry for his kids, because he set up a school for his fellow far right conservatives, yanked them out of the public schools, and I hardly ever saw them again.

I name him now because I didn’t when I was a kid. When I was about ten years old, he took me aside, knowing that I was already a science nerd, and he showed me some flyers he was handing out. It included a cartoon of a gorilla, with a list of characteristics they shared with Negroes: Black. Thick curly hair. Thick lips. Yellow teeth. Emotional. Violent. Criminal. I had black friends at school, but they looked nothing like that. I was a science nerd, and I knew enough about gorillas to know that they were nothing like that. Every thing in that flyer was a damnable lie, and I knew it.

And that asshole looked at me and said, smugly, “Well, what do you think of that?” And I looked at him, my mind racing, tangled up with politeness and the respect I’m supposed to give my elders, and I mumbled something vaguely affirmative, and he let me go.

I’ve been ashamed of myself for about half a century for that. I knew he was a dishonest bigot even as a child, and I said nothing. The last time I saw him was at my father’s funeral, almost 25 years ago, and again I said nothing, not about his racism, not about his ignorant political views, not about his abuse of his children’s educations, nothing. I just avoided him. He told some nice stories about when my father was a boy. I just sat quietly to the side, seething, torn between avoiding a spectacle at the funeral and wanting to grab him by the scruff of the neck and ask him how many poisonous lies he’d told this week, before throwing him out the door.

I didn’t. I’m ashamed of that, too.

This was in Kent, Washington, a fine suburban city in a thoroughly Northern state. My parents, fortunately, never expressed such odious views to me, but I had other relatives and friends who used all kinds of slurs casually; Henry Towne was just the worst of them. And he was so nice and polite about it! He could cheerfully, and in flawless, grammatical English, tell you the most vicious nonsense about any of your neighbors who weren’t sufficiently white, in his estimation.

Now I live in another fine Northern state, one with an excellent progressive reputation, and here is one of my neighbors, living just a few blocks away.

He has both a Confederate and American flag hanging in his garage. His truck has a sticker that says “God Bless America”.

There is a cancer at the heart of our country, and there it is, proudly displayed. My cousin, and this person, knew that they could express their bigotry with confidence, and no one would call them on it.

The scumbag who murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville is from Ohio. Richard Spencer was born in Boston. Milo Yiannopoulos is British. Tim Gionet, better known as “BakedAlaska”, is from Alaska. Mike Cernovich is from Illinois. Alex Jones is from Texas, so at least that one hate-filled loon is a Southerner. This bigotry is not a purely Southern phenomenon, it’s everywhere in America. We’re all of us complicit in white racism.

It is time to root it out.

Inmates, asylum, yadda yadda yadda

I do believe I said something about that cultural marxism lunacy that’s been floating about in the far right fever swamp for several years. Now would you believe Charles Pierce has found an astonishingly incoherent policy statement that reads like it came straight out of that swamp?

Culturally conditioned to limit responses to such attacks as yet another round in the on-going drone from diversity and multicultural malcontents, these broadsides are discounted as political correctness run amuck. However, political correctness is a weapon against reason and critical thinking. This weapon functions as the enforcement mechanism of diversity narratives that seek to implement cultural Marxism. Candidate Trump’s rhetoric in the campaign not only cut through the Marxist narrative, he did so in ways that were viscerally comprehensible to a voting bloc that then made candidate Trump the president; making that bloc self-aware in the process. President Trump is either the candidate he ran as, or he is nothing. Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction. For this cabal, Trump must be destroyed. Far from politics as usual, this is a political warfare effort that seeks the destruction of a sitting president. Since Trump took office, the situation has intensified to crisis level proportions. For those engaged in the effort, especially those from within the “deep state” or permanent government apparatus, this raises clear Title 18 (legal) concerns.

Academia has served as a principle counter-state node for some time and remains a key conduit for creating future adherents to cultural Marxist narratives and their derivative worldview. The Deep State – The successful outcome of cultural Marxism is a bureaucratic state beholden to no one, certainly not the American people. With no rule of law considerations outside those that further deep state power, the deep state truly becomes, as Hegel advocated, god bestriding the earth. Global Corporatists & Bankers – Exploitation of populations, unfettered by national protections and notions of personal morality and piety. Democratic Leadership – The democratic leadership has been a counter-state enabler that executes, sustains, and protects cultural Marxist programs of action and facilitates the relentless expansion of the deep state. Republican Leadership – More afraid of being accused of being called a racist, sexist, homophobe or lslamophobe than of failing to enforce their oaths to “support and defend the Constitution,” the Republican Establishment accepts and enforces cultural Marxist memes within its own sphere of operations. In doing so, knowingly or not, it becomes an agent of that.

Pure madness. Except this doesn’t come from some fringe nutter on Twitter. It’s from a guy named Rich Higgins, who was serving on the National Security Council. The conspiracy theorists have taken over the state.

Goddamn fascist cowards

A car driven by our craven American Nazis was intentionally driven into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville today.

There has been lots of violence by raging Nazis this weekend — Nazis who chant anti-semitic slogans, “Blood and Soil”, and “Heil Trump”.

Let this be a lesson to every city, every where: when white supremacists announce their intention to riot in your town, shut the fuckers down. Don’t send out the police to corral the antifa protesters and shelter the fascist marchers — use them to throw these awful, disgraceful people out and defend your citizenry.

Unless, of course, you suspect the police sympathize more with the racist cowards. Which may be the case.

Never give Nazis an inch

The KKK, the alt-right, white supremacists, and unabashed Nazis have all converged on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, treacherous defender of slavery, from a local park. They marched with torches through the city last night.

We can at least appreciate this moment of linguistic simplification: KKK, alt-right, white supremacist, and Nazi all refer to exactly the same thing, one united collection of deplorable bigots, and we should likewise unite to oppose them all. No more Nazis. Shun them, scorn them, punch them in the face. Tear down their monuments, trash their flags, fire them from their jobs.