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I could not have said it better myself

(Nor, indeed, have I ever yet said it as well.)

as a law professor I try to see all sides of public and legal issues, and in my teaching and writing to present the best case for each contesting view in any dispute. Critical race theory, as actually practised in many classrooms in California and across the country, seems to me to defy any hope of defending or justifying it. Its mix of half-truths and sheer falsehoods, its stereotyping and scapegoating of entire races of people, its relentlessly divisive setting of one group against another, its visceral hostility to reasoned debate, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, and its well-documented tendency to proceed by stealth, all evoke the practices of authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes.

Those who read instapundit will already have encountered Maimon Schwarzschild’s evidence to the Orange County Board of Education, but I’m happy to give further visibility to “what oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed”. We’ve often said what we think about CRT here, but I don’t recall a paragraph that covers all the bases, touching each concisely and clearly, as well as the above. (If you do, by all means link to it in the comments – it might be good to gather several effective summaries in one place.)

The name Schwarzschild (like the name Maimon) is not that common. I wonder if Maimon is related to Karl Schwarzschild, the first man to solve Einstein’s equations. Karl computed the solution for a simple (non-rotating, uncharged) spherical mass (today, it’s famous as the basic black hole solution – ‘the Schwarzschild solution’ – but Chandrasekhar computed ‘the Chandrasekhar limit’ in the same year, to pass the time on a ship travelling from India to Britain, so Karl did not yet know a black hole was even theoretically possible). Karl did this work while serving in the Germany army, less than a year before his death during WWI. As to why Karl’s (surviving) descendants and collaterals are now to be found in the United States, not Germany, well Maimon also testified that:

My own family had personal experience of some of the totalitarian regimes in 20th century Europe, and some of the tropes and techniques of ethnic studies and critical race theory, as now practised in many US classrooms, have chilling parallels in the techniques of ideological indoctrination in the schoolrooms of those regimes.

The sacrifice of Jewish fathers like Karl for the fatherland in WWI proved a weak reed indeed for their children in WWII.

Having ancestors who fought against slavery won’t protect anyone from charges of ‘toxic whiteness’ either, any more than family experience of past racial hatred will protect Maimon from woke hatred today.

Less economy of truth, please: ‘Maths is Racist’ – no, not even this

Teacher training in Louisville, Kentucky is succumbing to the woke bandwagon of “maths is racist”. I’ve already said what I wanted to say about “maths is racist” – but I noticed a remark of a rightly-disgusted observer of this latest example. Trying to imagine how any maths lesson could be racist (since “no matter your color, religion, sex, or anything else, 2+2 will always equal 4”), she said she “would call math racist” only if the questions were like:

“Two Blacks and two Jews are walking through the street. They meet a gang of three Hitler Youth and three KKK members. If the Blacks and Jews are armed with six sticks weighing three ounces each, and the Hitler Youth and KKK are armed with six bats weighing eight ounces each, how long will it take the Hitler Youth and the KKK members to drive the Blacks and Jews out of town?”

I read that – and instantly remembered an incident from Christabel Bielenberg’s autobiography ‘The Past is Myself’. Some months into Hitler’s first year in power, she and husband Peter were dining out. At another table, three Jews were quietly finishing their meal. Six SA men strolled into the establishment. One of them spotted the Jews and loudly alerted his fellows.

“Beside me, Peter stood up. Shades of my Irish father! I know when there’s going to be a fight. I stood up too, but I was thinking: six burly-looking SA men, three not very athletic-looking Jews, Peter and me – and my state of mind would not have won the Victoria cross.”

(Nor my state of mind if I’d been there, I daresay, and I’ve faced up to worse odds than that in my time.)

Despite what Christabel had learnt from her father, there was not a fight. The sudden upstanding protest of a very nordic-looking couple gave the stormtroopers pause, the Jews were eager to leave and swiftly did so, and it all calmed down. As she sat down again, Christabel took in the body language of all the other German diners. Their poses said, as loudly as an open declaration, that, though many of them might not have positively welcomed their dining experience being enhanced with a floor-show of SA Jew-baiting – might indeed have disliked the prospect, her computation of

6 stormtroopers > 3 unathletic Jews + Peter + her

would not have been altered by the addition of any of them to that equation’s right-hand side.

It was then that I realised that something really nasty had come to town.

When the racism that calls itself anti-racism comes to your town, and you have to decide whether to stand up for Secoriea or kneel to her murderers, then you too (unless your state of mind is one that will win the Victoria cross – and maybe even if it is) will make these mental calculations – and they will be no more racist than any other kind of maths. Both racism and resisting it lie in actions, not calculations.

—-

(The above quotes from ‘The Past is Myself’ are from memory, as I do not have the book in front of me while writing this. It is well worth reading.)

Critical Race Theorist literally knows nothing

“They literally know nothing” was what Obama advisor Ben Rhodes said about the Obama-worshipping journalists he fooled into repeating his Iran-deal talking points. But those guys are left standing by Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of ‘The 1619 Project’.

“it’s also hard to look at countries that didn’t have large institutions of slavery and compare them to the United States.”

Most people noticed her statement because of the immediately following sentence:

“If you want to see the most equal multi-racial democ… — it’s not a democracy — the most equal multi-racial country in our hemisphere, it would be Cuba,” Hannah-Jones said.

She knew enough to avoid (just!) going on record as calling communist Cuba a democracy – but she did not know enough to avoid talking about “countries that didn’t have large institutions of slavery” compared to the United States.

I saw from the start that some of Nikole’s 1619 rubbish merely exposed her utter ignorance of her subject. The blacks whom the Virginians bought from a Portuguese slave trader in 1619 were treated like whites – that is, they were treated as indentured servants who after 10 years were freed, given some farm tools, pointed at a plot of land and left to get on with it. (Some of them got on so well that before mid-century they were buying white and black indentured servants themselves to work their expanding acreages.)

One could justly say these early-arriving blacks were not treated exactly like poor English whites who – unless convicted of a crime – had always chosen to sign their ten-year indenture, to pay for transport across the Atlantic and survival while they found their feet. The closer analogy is to some Scottish whites. More than one clan chief sold some clansmen on indentures across the Atlantic when funds were low, and in 1707 a leading Scottish parliamentarian informed his peers that there was no need for them to fix the disastrous financial situation by accepting the English payment and voting their own abolition – Scotland’s elite could keep their separate parliament and avoid national bankruptcy by selling enough poor Scots to the Americas instead.

When the Portuguese offered to sell black slaves, those 1619 Virginians could only buy them as ten-year-indentured servants. They were still wholly under English common law and Lord Mansfield’s 1770s ruling merely echoed a two-centuries earlier ruling of Elizabethan judges that English common law knew no such state as slavery. It took the Virginians decades to start even questioning this and almost a century to unlearn it fully. As late as the 1690s, a black man who petitioned the Virginia council that his white master had made him serve not for ten years but for twelve “contrarie to all right and justice”, was freed by their order. If Nikole had called it the 1705 project, I’d have thought she at least knew something about the actual faults of the country whose history she was travestying. Only positive statute law can override English common law’s aversion to slavery, said Lord Mansfield – and 1705 was the year the Virginia legislature completed providing it. I knew from the start that Nikole was not just lying about all that, not just indifferent to the truth of all that – she was also pretty clueless about it.

But now it emerges she knows nothing about other countries either! “Countries that didn’t have large institutions of slavery”, she says. Which countries would that be, I wonder?

– Certainly not Cuba before Columbus or Cuba after Columbus (or Cuba under communism – you have to know nothing not to know that communism always reintroduces slavery).

– Certainly not Brazil before or after the Portuguese ruled it, or after it ruled itself – Brazil was the very last new-world country to abolish the slave trade (it needed an undeclared war from the Royal Navy to persuade them) and then slavery itself (they needed a bit of persuasion there too).

– Certainly not Mexico under the Aztecs, or Peru and Chile under the Incas, or any of them under the Spaniards (the absolute Spanish King could in time announce that slavery should end without needing to consult any tedious parliaments – and his unconsulted subjects in the Americas could pay absolutely no attention and go on buying black slaves from the Portuguese).

– Certainly not any of the western sub-Saharan African states, who sold the surplus they had left after the Dahomans had celebrated their murder spectacle, the Bemba had blinded enough singers to entertain them, the various cannibal tribes had eaten their fill, etc.

– Certainly not any of the eastern sub-Saharan African states, where the tribes raided each other and the Swahili worked for the Arabs, who found slave-raiding cheaper than slave-trading.

– Certainly not the Arab world. Historians who know what they are talking about speak of “the abolition of slavery” in the west and “the decline of slavery” (under intense western pressure) in the Arab world.

– Certainly not many other places. In 1776, Adam Smith accurately noted that slavery was almost universal, being absent only from parts of western and central Europe.

So what countries in 1619 – or a good deal later – could be giving her this problem of lacking historical “institutions of slavery” on US timescales. England? France (had serfdom for much of the period, but not slavery)? … It’s not that long a list (and it’s a bit white!). And I don’t think any of the countries she was thinking of are on it. “Ignorance is Strength”, said Orwell’s 1984. It’s certainly hers.

It’s a pity, because the real history of how the Virginians gradually retreated from a custom of freedom that they’d started with is well worth studying. And the spectacle of a community with a custom of freedom slowly losing it holds a lesson for today.

BBC quote of the pandemic

What’s changed is not the evidence – of which there is none so far to prove either scenario – but the politics. The lab-leak theory, born into an environment poisoned by disinformation, was undermined not so much by China’s denials, but by the fact it was being pumped by former US President Donald Trump.

Media organisations everywhere gave it the cold shoulder. My own attempts to look seriously at the lab-leak theory in May last year ran into long and fraught editorial discussions before it finally made it to publication.

Thus says the BBC’s China correspondent in a story linked from the BBC’s front page today. When Trump raised it, it was poisonous disinformation. Now Biden is raising it, the BBC is treating it with more respect.

What the Bashir story revealed about how far the BBC would go should not have surprised me – but did. By contrast, the only surprising thing about this revelation is that they admit it. (So give a little credit where a very little credit is due. Others in the MSM will pretend that “new evidence now indicates what only an absurdist like Trump would believe last year”, or take the even easier line, already much used with masks, of silently implying that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.)

Meanwhile, of course, ‘our’ BBC will continue to insist that just because they forge bank statements to pretend their fake news is true, that doesn’t mean that we can forge bank statements to pretend we’ve paid their licence fee. And while the beeb take the lab-leak theory seriously now that Biden does, I think that even if Biden were to come out with another gaffe-boast about having

“the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organisation in the history of US politics”

the BBC would not become a jot less derisive of Trump’s theory about that. No experience of the failure of their reporting seems to shake the BBC’s faith in its essential excellence.

The ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ is getting harder

Idea that 2+2=4 is western imperialism

In the 1970s, the BBC screened a dramatised documentary series about the fight to abolish the slave trade. Even a year of the virus limiting new series, at a time of great BBC eagerness to talk about racism, has not made them screen it again.

– I see one reason why they have not: the series displayed sleazy white slave traders and abusive white slave owners prominently, but it also showed white people eager to end the slave trade and (much worse) black people eager to continue it. One episode included the king of Dahomey’s threat: “if you do not allow me to sell you my slaves, their fate will be a great deal worse” (a very brief scene of the Dahomey murder spectacle lent meaning to his remark). After abolition was voted, it showed a white slave trader assuring the Dahomans, as a drug dealer might his suppliers, “It is one thing for parliament to pass a law …”, hinting at the Royal Navy’s long and hard campaign to enforce it.

– Only recently did I spot another reason why they would not want to show it again – the scene in which a corrupt old white slave trader warns his young colleague that “it’s more than your life’s worth” to doubt the ability of their slave-selling hosts to count very accurately the quantity of trade goods being handed over in exchange, and to assess their quality knowledgeably. The traders well knew that Africans counted two plus two as four, just as they did. Any trader who imagined that black ability to add diverged enough from white to enable an attempt to short-change them had learned otherwise long before the 1780s.

– The southern Confederacy thought the same. Until its death throes, it forbade enlisting a southern black as a Confederate soldier because, as one Confederate senator put it, “If blacks can make good soldiers then our whole theory of slavery is wrong.” (Perhaps also because even southern white Democrats realised that southern black desire to fight against blacks being freed was likely to be a very minority taste.) But there was one exception. Every regiment had its regimental band, which played to set the pace at the start and end of marches, used trumpets to signal commands in battle – and fought when other duties did not supervene. From its start to its end, Confederate law said any black could enlist as bandsman, with the same pay and perquisites as a white – a very rare example of formal legal equality. (Playing music requires the ability to count time. For the woke, ‘dismantling the legacy of the Confederacy’ apparently includes dismantling its realisation – shared by the Victorian composer Dvorak – that blacks often excelled in music so much as to overcome prejudice against black ability. Today, it’s ‘racist’ to value instrumental skill.)

‘Politically correct’ has meant ‘actually wrong’ ever since the first commissar explained to the first party comrade that it was neither socialist nor prudent to notice a factual error in the party line. ‘Structurally racist’ is PC’s modern companion. No longer are the woke content merely to imply (“mathematics is racist“, “punctuality is racist“, “politeness is racist“) that blacks can’t count, can’t tell the time and can only behave crudely. They’re starting to say it in words of fewer syllables.

So how does one avoid being a racist when cancel culture calls it ‘racist’ to expect any black man you meet to be able to add? First, decide which you would rather oppose: ‘structural racism’ or actual racism. If the latter, then decide whether you have the courage to do more than dislike it in the privacy of your own mind. The BBC series showed the voyage of the Zong, when the captain threw many slaves overboard to check a pandemic onboard – or was it just to convert them into insurance losses? The scene was directed to imply that some officers did not entirely like doing this – but it would not have helped anyone’s career to have refused. Only in a metaphorical sense will white intellectuals today throw overboard an off-message black colleague. Perhaps the Zong’s crew consoled themselves that, after all, it was only black people being thrown overboard. Perhaps woke whites today console themselves that, after all, as Joe Biden put it, if you don’t vote Democrat then “you ain’t black”. Besides, if

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” (George Orwell, 1984)

then clearly it is the duty of Critical Race Theory to ensure that is not granted.

This too shall pass. Years ago, the left decided that Stalin in Russia was “not real socialism”, nor Mugabe in Zimbabwe, nor Chavez in Venezuela – but only long after Orwell, and the year 1984, and the Soviet Union itself, had died. One day, the woke will decide that it is “not real anti-racism” to claim that black people have open minds on whether 2+2=4. Later still, they might decide it was “not real anti-racism”. But for now, just as it was once an insult to “the workers’ state” to mention how many workers Stalin killed, so we are still well into the period when asking how many black people were murdered in Ferguson or Minneapolis by the riots, or since the riots, is as ‘racist’ as classical music, mentioning the holocaust during a class discussion of racism, skiing, cheese, advising persons of colour to exercise, camping, quantum theory, acronyms, alfresco seating, grammar, beer, snow ploughs, evergreen trees, praising the fund-raising efforts of Captain Tom, individualism, interracialmarriage or questioning the existence of structural racism.

I had a very much longer list of increasingly bizarre things that exemplify structural racism – none of them repeated from my last list – but as I typed links to the structural racism of such innate features of the human condition as time and sleep, I reflected that the first was passing, and soon I should start doing the second.

[ADDED LATER: there’s no need to go to university to not-learn maths. Not-learning maths is coming to a school near you – if you live in Ontario. The Ontario Grade 9 curriculum’s “decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions”. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says math is “subjective” and “used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-eurocentric mathematical knowledges.” This will come as a surprise to anyone who thought that teaching the use of ‘Arabic’ (actually Hindu) numbers, plus the huge Hindu invention of the zero, is the very reverse of normalising ‘eurocentric’ Roman numerals – but I guess, to the woke, II + II = IV in any other notation is just as oppressive.]

Buy Large Mansions

1909: “Socialism … It’s a grand scheme. You work for the equal distribution of property and you start by collaring all you can and sitting on it.” P.G.Wodehouse (comic author), ‘Mike and Psmith’.

2021: “I practice Marxism by getting rich and supporting my family.” Patrisse Khan-Cullors (BLM co-founder), TV Interview

Buy Large Mansions‘ was not something I expected to see added so soon to ‘Black Lives Murdered‘, ‘Bullshit Marxist Lies‘ and other clarifications of the acronym. It was obvious from the start that Chavez and his family would become stinking rich as Venezuelans starved, that Mugabe’s wealth would grow as his country’s vanished, but usually the socialists themselves say it openly only a good many years after seizing all power, not just a few months after stealing an election.

I think it was de Toqueville who said of nineteenth-century French revolutionaries: “I had the impression they were play-acting the French revolution much more than continuing it.” The same impression led Karl Marx, echoing Hegel, to write that history happens twice: “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” In that sense, Patrisse is indeed realising Marx’s vision.

She is also embodying P.G.Wodehouse’ joke. Foreseeable, avoidable tragedy is farcical. National Socialism conquered Germany, then Europe, before being pulled down by almost all the combined strength of the remainder of the world – and that was shameful, Hannah Arendt pointed out, because it was also ridiculous. The current state of the western world is less grave (as yet), but it is already shameful – because it is already ridiculous.

Courage in Comedy

Courage is not just a virtue; it is the form of every virtue under test. For a kindness or honesty which is only kind or honest while it is safe is not very virtuous. Pontius Pilate was merciful – till it became risky. (C.S. Lewis)

It’s not just virtue that needs courage. Jokes can need a little courage too. On one of Prince Philip’s visits to Australia, a virtue-signalling politico decided he would be asked the same questions as any immigrant.

Border Official: “Do you have a criminal record?”

Prince Philip: “I had no idea it was still a requirement.”

Witty remarks need wit – and timing (the worthlessness of ‘l’esprit d’escalier’ – that clever retort you think of whle descending the starcase after the party – has been proverbial for centuries). Humour cannot survive a too-timid inner censor (“Can I really say that? Dare I really say that?”) stealing the moment.

I’m not just talking about the overt courage some jokes need. That can be very real of course. Christabel Bielenberg fell in love with a German in 1932 and married him in 1934.

‘There can’t be many weddings in which the father of the bride stops the car on the road to the church and says to his daughter, “You can still call it off.”

In the very last days of WWII in Europe, she walked into the mayor’s office in the German community where she lived and noticed that the picture of Adolf Hitler was missing from the wall. Seeing her glance, the mayor explained he had put it in the fire the day before. Christabel thought of a joke about Adolf and his picture, automatically reminded herself not to say it out loud – and then realised with delight that for the first time in many years she could say it out loud, she no longer had to think first whether everyone present was ‘safe’. In the joke, Adolf muses to his picture, “I wonder what will happen to us after the war?” The picture replies, “I don’t wonder – I know: you’ll be hung and I’ll be unhung.” The mayor, like the vast majority of Germans, had never heard it – and till the day before would not have dared laugh at it. He spent the rest of the aftenoon suddenly guffawing and murmering, “hung – unhung”. Despite everything, the new freedom to laugh seems to have been a relief to him too. He – unlike Christabel but like too many Germans – had not had the courage to remain aware of his inner censor during the Nazi years; it had become part of him.

It’s not just the comedian who needs a little courage. The audience can also use a little of it. Prince Philip once joked to a British student in China that if he stayed there too long he might acquire ‘slitty eyes’. Thinking people (people not too scared to think) know that a joke does not mean what it literally says (and that Prince Philip did not imagine that the facial features of other nationalities could be caught through proximity, like a disease). Imagine that, back in 1937, visiting a family funeral in Germany, he had told a British student there to beware staying too long lest his head become squarer. The alleged ‘squareheads’ of native Germans in the first half of the 20th century betokened the too ordered, too obedient, too constrained thoughts within them, as the alleged ‘slitty eyes’ of native Chinese in the second half betokened the deceitful propaganda of the CCP. It should not be hard to get the joke’s point – unless of course, the very idea of thinking about an ethnic slur before condemning it is too terrifying to contemplate. “Do not trust China. China is asshole.” as a chinaman in Hong Kong more recently put it.

Orwell explained that putting the mind in a politically-correct box kills a writer’s creativity. Such cowardly conformity also hurts the sense of humour – the sense of humour.

The courage to joke also helps if your position tends to make others nervous:

“I realised afterwards that all his so-called ‘gaffes’ were quite the reverse. They were masterclasses in putting people at their ease. If he’d kept the royal drawbridge up and encouraged deference, all he would have had in his 73 years as the Queen’s husband would have been a series of terrified, tongue-tied people to talk to at a thousand events. For a serious, curious, clever man, that would have been agony. What he wanted was information, and perhaps a few laughs.” (The Truth about Prince Philip’s Gaffes)

And facing your death with courage will often mean facing it with humour. When the brilliant Oxford mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah (not so long before his own death) told Prince Philip how sorry he was to hear he was standing down from official duties in late 2017, Prince Philip replied:

‘Well, I can’t stand up much longer!’

The freedom to make a joke. The freedom to take a joke. Freedoms worth tending in the garden of your mind.

The logic of absurdity

The authorities police their lockdown laws as if the virus was reliably woke and as reliably anti-Christian – as if PC protests had a mysterious immunity but a church service was sure to be a superspreader event.

In Canada, a Polish priest showed how to say ‘no’ to PC Karen and her colleagues (video) when they tried to halt an Easter service. When a London PC Karen did the same, the response was less forthright, but maybe the London Polish Christians will learn from their Canadian cousins’ example. Meanwhile, sympathisers advised the Londoners to celebrate Easter outside Batley Grammar School, since the police are loathe to obstruct religious gatherings there.

Interrupting a Polish church’s Easter Friday and Easter Sunday services in London (that appear to have been legitimate under current lockdown rules) while overlooking a “killthebill” protest in Bristol (that appears to have been as clearly in violation of them) allows an unfortunate interpretation: that PC Karens will bite the hand that feeds them and kiss the foot that kicks them; will bully those who defer to them and defer to those who bully them.

(For the benefit of non-UK readers, ‘the bill’ refers to a policing act before parliament. ‘The Bill’ – a.k.a ‘The Old Bill’ – is also a UK idiom for ‘the police’. The chosen hashtag of these protests could thus be seen as regrettable, as regards some of those involved, and unpleasantly appropriate as regards others.)

I think there are those in the police who do not like this message – but someone in authority in London thought it a great idea to invade an Easter service on the same weekend as the latest Bristol protest was being ‘light-touch’ policed.

If I’ve learnt one thing from my years of programming, it is that the computer does what you actually told it to do, not what you thought you were telling it to do. Humans are not computers – we often begin by hearing the propaganda, decoding the intent and doing that instead – but when the actual message is this obvious, it can cut through. If it cuts through to the extent of inspiring more churches to follow the example of the Canadian Polish priest, I’ll be a happy man. It could go beyond that.

Corpses to the people said,
“You’ll be racists when you’re dead.”

Death in America is acquiring new terrors.

It was already understandable if a dying Republican feared rising from their grave to vote Democrat, like a vampire harming what their life valued. (A democrat who voted “early and often” could anticipate this too, of course, but without dreading it – their undeath would echo their life.)

But now, even the politically correct must wonder what very different character they will acquire after death.

– In the 1940s, Dr Seuss author Theodor Geisel urged writers to avoid racist stereotypes, but the dead Geisel has been resurrected onto the public stage in the 2020s as a racist. His book ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ shows two visiting Africans in native African garb! What racism!!! (?) Everyone knows it is terribly racist not to portray Africans in culturally-appropriated western garb because African dress is so inferior to western, er, um, what I mean is because it’s so hurtful to remind Africans of their pre-colonial, er, well, er, that is, um, maybe I should avoid trying to explain the subtle critical race theory involved lest I travesty it – or, worse offense still, summarise it more clearly than the original.

– Sidney Poitier spent many of his 94 years defending his race – and had better cling to life because he is scheduled for resurrection as (too) white. He looked pretty black to me in ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ but Critical Race Theory makes it hard to be black enough.

– Adam Smith wrote that slavery was ‘cruel’, slaveowners ‘contemptible’ and blacks in the Americas not innately inferior to their white owners – and taught the economic superiority of free enterprise over slavery. But his grave is the resting place of an appalling racist who despicably recorded that slavery in his day was almost universal, being absent only in the British Isles and parts of western and central Europe.

I’ll let readers decide which is the worst fate – and which of Smith’s writings, Sidney’s films or Seuss’ cartoons represents the most extreme case of “Who you gonna trust? Wokeness or your lyin’ eyes.” The doctrine that you must confess racism but can never be absolved of it no longer has a “this side of death” exit clause – and it seems to be getting more inclusive. In the old song, the corpses warn the living that no matter what they do in life, they will all look like the dead when they too are dead – just as rotting and skeletal. Likewise, no matter how hard people serve the cause or cringe to it in life, when they are dead, they will all look like racists to the next generation of woke, as past generations do to the current one – because this PC war on the past, on past authors like Geisel and past actors like Poitier and past thinkers like Smith, isn’t about the past. It’s about the future – who gets to rule, and under what terms. As ‘1984’ put it:

He who controls the present controls the past.
He who controls the past controls the future.

A decade ago, Orwell would have been unpersonned for not saying ‘She or he who…’ but that wouldn’t have saved him for not saying ‘Ze who…’ today.

‘Time’ to neutralise the truth

That many men were undone by not going deep enough in roguery; as in gaming any man may be a loser who doth not play the whole game. (Henry Fielding)

The temptation to go just deep enough but not too deep is very understandable. If Hillary had won in 2016, there is much we might never have suspected, let alone known, about how she was helped. It was a great surprise to the deep state to learn they had not gone deep enough.

This time round, they went deep enough. But history teaches us that that too has its problems. When you have to go deep indeed to go deep enough, even the most determined propaganda denial may have to ‘evolve’ over time.

For example, in December 1934, Stalin arranged for Kirov, head of the communist party in Leningrad, to be assassinated – and over the next few years convicted millions for being part of the ever-expanding conspiracy accused of the murder – but the story of how it happened kept changing.

Finally, in 1938, the Soviet view took the form it was to keep until 1956: … the assassination … had been facilitated by Yagoda, head of the Soviet secret police. … This change of line, which contained elements of the truth, was designed to mask or neutralise the real version, which began to circulate in the secret police within weeks of the crime … (Robert Conquest, The Great Terror)

It’s an old propaganda technique – but a risky one – to confirm a half-truth to mask the truth.

‘Time’ magazine is taking the lead in ‘evolving’ the MSM’s election narrative. As late as a week ago, it was “baseless” to claim that 2020’s huge increase increase in vote-by-mail (“the largest source of potential voter fraud) had other suspicious characteristics. But now, the “safest election ever” was in fact “fortified” by a elite cabal.

This was not news to me, of course, but the spin may be a bit of a whiplash for some. I agree with Neo’s take: it was going to come out in time, so better for the cabal that it come out in ‘Time’; someone had to neutralise the truth. It’s the past tense of the woke Law of Merited Impossibility – not “That will never happen (and you’ll so deserve it when it does)” but “That never happened (and what a good thing it did)”. As the deep state went abruptly from not existing to being the heroes a year ago, so ‘Time’ has replaced ‘baseless” with praise of this solid base.

However if I were Joe Biden, I would rather have seen this article after more than a year in the White House than after less than a month.

All who died on the 6th supported Trump. What else do we truly know?

Truth is the daughter of time. Meanwhile, what do we actually know about the events of the 6th?

Ashli Babbitt died because she was shot. Three protestors died of medical emergencies (it happens in crowds but still …). And Brian Sicknick, a Capitol policeman, a Trump supporter and no friend to the deep state died.

[BE AWARE: truth is indeed the daughter of time. The first sentence of the next paragraph now appears to be completely incorrect – evidence of how someone cautious of the MSM can still be deeply deceived by them. Read the final paragraph of this post for summary and links to better information about Brian’s death.]

Brian died because a man threw a fire extinguisher onto a group of policemen and it struck him. (The clear video hasn’t prevented some accounts, and even more comments, confabulating tales of his being beaten to death by a frenzied mob, but you can click the link to see what actually happened – a professional-looking strike by a man who approaches from the left of the video and then as swiftly retreats when the deed is done.) Throwing a fire extinguisher is no way to kill a specific targeted person, but it is a way to inflict death or injury on a random policeman. (Four years ago, in early 2017, the rioters threw concrete blocks at the police – luckily, IIRC, no-one was killed then.)

Andy Ngo said it did not look like Antifa to him. He was in England at the time, not Washington DC, so is working from videos of the event, but he has a great deal of experience of what Antifa in Portland look like. Michael Yon says in this video that it looked like standard Antifa false flag agent-provocateur tactics to him. He was there outside the Capitol and he has seen Antifa in Portland (and has seen many protests around the world). Michael Waller, another eyewitness, is very sure he saw agent-provocateurs, and that some were Antifa false flags – and is not so sure about others. The impeachers and the MSM remain in denial but gradually others – even the FBI – are deciding that the crowd listening to Trump’s split infinitive (“to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”) were not first on the scene at the Capitol.

One thing seems clear. The US right believe in the second amendment – and in their right to shoot second, to shoot back. If last Wednesday had been a coup attempt, the shooting of Ashli would have been met with return fire. This was no coup attempt. Whatever the first-at-the-Capitol group intended, it was not that.

One thing is not yet clear to me. Who were they, really, and what was their goal? It is horrible to think that Brian Sicknick may have been killed by someone from the side he sympathised with. It is horrible – and dangerously consoling – to think he was killed by an enemy activist wearing a reversed Trump hat.

– On the one hand, the collusion investigation in the first two years of Trump’s presidency and the impeachement a year ago were both deep state operations. Both were designed to deflect and delay they themselves being investigated (for the FISA warrants / Fusion GPS stuff, for Biden’s exploiting US aid to get the investigator of his son’s employer fired). This could just be third time round – a false flag operation to enable a riot-justified impeachment to drown out discussion of election fraud.

– On the other hand, more than once since the election, I’ve seen posts note that people are so angry about the steal that ‘someone on our side’ might do something violent. In November 2012, Republicans felt disappointed but not cheated – everyone could see there had been some vote fraud but they could also see that Obama won anyway. It’s different now. Throwing a fire extinguisher onto a bunch of cops facing away from you, not at some politicians or deep staters, doesn’t fit my idea of what that anger would prompt, but in such volatile situations all sorts of things can happen, so who really knows. Remember also that pollsters before the election sometimes asked not, “Will you be voting for Trump?”, but ,”Will your neighbour be voting for Trump?”, knowing that cancel culture meant the latter question gave a more accurate answer to the former. The idea of political violence in the US is ugly. So is the idea of a blatantly stolen election being supinely endured. Did some people think these neighbours could become violent?

We may know more in time, but, as Natalie points out, we cannot trust the MSM to report whatever does not suit them. Meanwhile we must live in interestingly uncertain times.

[CORRECTION (February 2021): I was made aware the day after I wrote this post that the fire extinguisher incident may have had nothing to do with Brian’s death. This has since been admitted so widely that I feel I should alert any late-coming readers to the fact. It appears that an extinguisher was thrown at some police by one man, but it seems this did not cause death, and Brian’s death is looking more like another medical emergency death. It also appears to have happened after the Capitol protest was over and in another location.]

That’s Niall Ferguson, not Neil Ferguson

North American academia is in the grip of a hideous mania, a cross between the early-modern witch craze and Mao’s Cultural Revolution, in which implacable zealots conduct grotesque show trials, innocent individuals have their reputations, careers and sanity destroyed, and everyone else cowers, terrified that they will be next to be ‘canceled’. (Niall Ferguson, blurb from Quillette book, ‘Panics and Persecutions’).

Now let’s be accurate here. The millions of victims of Mao’s cultural revolution had a very high tendency to end up dead. In early-modern England, you were vastly less likely to be suspected of being a witch, and suspected witches had far better odds: 60% of English witch trials ended in acquittal, and in fully half of those that convicted, the penalty was not death (and those statistics include the notorious brief episode of Matthew Hopkins under the puritans during the civil war, without which they would be noticeable less lethal still). But even an English witch faced greater physical danger than the modern western ‘cancelled’. Who was more cancelled than Mark Judge, but he is still alive and even earning money – washing dishes.

In short, Niall Ferguson’s comparisons, like Neil Ferguson’s pandemic models, exaggerate. What Niall describes is a vile change from academia a few decades ago (politically one-sided though that already was), but it could yet be very much worse – and maybe one day will be if we neglect Edmund Burke’s wise warning:

The only thing necessary for the victory of evil men is that good men do nothing.