We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Barking Parking Teslas

Long ago, Milton Friedman suggested the US might be better off without the Food and Drug Administration. People wrote to him saying the FDA should not be abolished but reformed so it would act differently. Friedman replied by writing a column he titled ‘Barking cats’:

What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided that it barked?” … The way the FDA now behaves, and the adverse consequences, are not an accident … but a consequence of its constitution.”

Today I chanced to hear a couple of medical professionals discuss the Tesla they have just arranged to buy, bemoaning its cost but rejoicing there would be “no more gas-guzzling trips”. Later they spoke of government policy on parking at NHS hospitals. Labour brought in the policy – which Cameron and May kept on, of course – to help save the environment by making parking at hospitals difficult (its proposers used different words) to encourage use of public transport. I learnt this policy much annoys shift-working NHS staff, who must sometimes travel in and out at hours when there is little or no public transport (or in areas that are not too salubrious). I already knew from my own friends and family that it much annoys elderly relatives visiting hospital patients – friends of mine have had to give up and go home again because an old man was not up to walking the distance from the nearest viable parking to visit an old woman, and might have had to be signed into the hospital himself if he’d tried. These Tesla-buying NHS professionals conceded that the numerous (by government policy) almost-always-empty electric-car-only spaces that adorn the limited hospital parking provided were also annoying. The man remarked that a hospital he’d recently served at really wanted to convert an available site nearby into a car park – “but knew they’d never get permission.” The woman said that if the government wanted NHS staff and patients to use public transport, they should try and ensure large hospitals were well-served by buses, but her experience was the reverse – “They need some joined-up thinking!”.

The thought flitted across my brain that greenie civil servants were not alone in needing to join up their thinking. And then I thought of Friedman, long ago, recalling his “Barking Cats” column of yet longer ago:

The error of supposing the behaviour of social organisms can be shaped at will is widespread. It is the fundamental error of most so-called reformers. … It explains why their reforms, when ostensibly achieved, so often go astray. (‘Free to Choose’)

Of course, I believe that the western world’s social organism could be shaped to respect science more and virtue-signalling AGW non-science less. So maybe I shouldn’t be too critical. Still, the BBC reported today that SUVs are outselling electric cars 37:1, “making a mockery of UK policy” so there is hope – of a kind.

Disparate-Impact Anti-Semitism

Between Momentum activists complaining that Labour is

“not helped by the fact that the BBC has a lot of Jewish journalists

and Corbyn saying the BBC

“has a bias towards saying that… Israel has a right to exist

there seems to be a feeling in Labour circles that both Jews and their concerns are over-represented in the media.

This is not the first time round for such ideas. Complaints that the Germans were “a people with severed vocal chords”, that Berlin’s major newspapers were owned and/or edited by Jews, that “23 of 29 Berlin theatre managers were Jews” that “the barristers’ room in any Berlin state court was like a Jewish club” etc., were often made in the 1920s and 30s. Nazi statistics, even in the days when the press (Jewish-owned or otherwise) could still challenge them, were usually spun toward the high side – but aimed to persuade by describing areas where everyone knew Jews far exceeded their less-than-one-percent of Germany’s population. The Nazis would not have achieved anything by claiming that too many German farmers were Jews, or too many German generals. (It was the British empire, not Germany, that produced Sir John Monash.) In many a pre-power speech that Hitler gave, e.g. to students (students voted for him at twice the average German rate), he promised merely to remedy these disparate statistics and redress the historic injustices they revealed.

That’s the trouble with disparate-impact theory. Jews have often been victims of racism. But if the mere existence of racial disparities proves racism then a glance at many a country’s economic or cultural statistics will show, according to disparate-impact theory, how much more time Jews must have spent perpetrating racism. Percentages always sum to a hundred – so, even in countries where their fraction of the population is not much higher than in pre-war Germany or even lower, any Jewish higher-than-proportion achievement necessarily accompanies some lower-than-proportion percentages of other groups. Disparate-impact theory exists precisely to crush the racist excuses offered for such racist disparities.

And of course, this racism cannot remain confined within each country. Since there are fewer Jews in the world than there are citizens of Khazakstan, disparate-impact theory makes Jews guilty of a lot of racism against Khazakhs (and almost everyone else) in Nobel prize awards. Even the evil of toxic whiteness, conveying disproportionate prosperity and prestige to caucasians, cannot quite compare statistically with Jewish disproportions, and if Jewish survivors of violent dispossession repeatedly arrived near-destitute in new places, but their descendants averaged more of such places’ increased fame and wealth than the indigenes, well, by disparate-impact theory that just proves how committed Jews must be to such racist behaviour. Don’t they understand that at some point you’ve made enough money and won enough awards – and that point is strict statistical parity with the locals.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one reason why a movement that calls you a Nazi for arguing with it so often sounds like it is taking its lines from one of Adolf’s early-30’s addresses. The political world, like the real world, is a sphere: go too far ‘fighting racism’ and you’ll meet your alleged opposites round the far side – and after that you’ll be so far gone you’re coming back.
________________________
[Nazi propaganda remarks quoted above are referenced in contemporary book ‘The House That Hitler Built’ by Stephen Roberts.]

A question about the racial experience at Harvard

A recent post looked at the hypocrisy of Harvard’s racist admissions policies. I want to look at what it teaches – not at what Harvard says but at what the actual experience it gives to its students teaches them.

1) Harvard invites students to attend a university – one of the halls of academia. By presenting itself as elite, it invites its students to think that academic ability, academic ways of thinking, are hallmarks (the hallmarks!) of an elite.

2) Having implied the importance of academic talent in overt and subtle ways, Harvard creates an artificial racial reality: it selects its asian-american students to average 140 Scholastic Aptitude Test points more that its white-american students. It selects its white-american students to average 130 SAT points more than its hispanic-american students. And it selects its african-american students to average 180 SAT points less than its hispanics, 310 SAT points less than its whites and 450 SAT points less than its asians.*

Thus Harvard gives members of each of these easily-distinguishable racial groups the routine experience of encountering a consistent, marked discrepancy between their group and other groups in precisely the area that the whole essence of being at Harvard implies is important, not just for gaining some academic degree but for being worthy to decide on politics, social mores, life in general. Day by day, the experience of being at Harvard teaches its students that, in the quality that matters, asians are typically superior, whites are typically normal, hispanics are typically inferior and blacks even more so. Harvard is a university – a pillar of academia, a place that implies academic is everything – and they chose the racial mix of their students to incarnate academic racial inequality.

3) Harvard also teaches that it is the most appalling sin, unspeakably evil and harshly-punished even when the evidence is slight or non-existent, for any student ever to refer in the slightest, most micro, most indirect way to this routinely-experienced reality that Harvard admissions has created. Students must not in any way betray that they have noticed any aspect or even distant side-effect of the artificial reality Harvard has created for them – and this of course compounds the artificiality of the Harvard reality.

So my question is: what does this experience in fact teach Harvard students?

In the early 1930s, workers in Kiev and similar cities frequently had to step over starving people and corpses in the streets as they walked to catch their trams for the daily commute, on which they could read newspaper articles about the “new, happy life” that collectivising agriculture had brought, or look at posters proclaiming “Life has become better, life has become more joyful – Stalin”. (The NKVD swiftly removed the man who, by adding a letter, changed the Russian to mean: “Life has become better, life has become more joyful – for Stalin.”) The few trustworthy reports of the time say the bizarre contrast between experienced reality and official propaganda (that one did not dare question) produced strange mental dislocations.

Harvard (thank God!) is a far lesser evil, but similar in this respect: students are immersed in an artificial reality – and then told it is a vile crime to betray the smallest symptom of having noticed it. Does anyone know anecdotes, or studies, of what the psychological effects of this are?

—-

* That the differences are large is not open to honest dispute – which excludes many a PC commentator. Back in the 1990s, when this situation was less developed, Thomas Sowell (in e.g. “Race and Culture”) reported that the black-white discrepancy was well into the three-figure range while asian-americans had to average 50+ points above whites to have the same admission chances. Admissions discrimination against asian-americans, and for those minorities the PC like, appears to have grown since then. My figures above come from this article. The effect and its scale are clear; the precise SAT point values are debatable and vary (rather growing than diminishing) over time.

This is the country Dems wish an open border with ???

Then the coup de grace: as the Chapo sons’ forces engaged in direct combat with their own national military, kill squads went into action across Culiacán, slaughtering the families of soldiers engaged in the streets.

The report is from an (understandably!) anonymous informant, h/t instapundit, who comments,

This is getting very little coverage in the US

(The BBC covered it yesterday but it’s off their website frontpage today and searching ‘Mexico’ doesn’t find it – you have to know the story specifics to find it.)

We want a less open border with the EU, but I have to admit this kind of thing makes the Calais camp, and even Merkel’s million, look tame by comparison.

“Does Britain have free speech?”

The title is quoted from a Quillette article (h/t instapundit) inspired by the following letter to author James Flynn from Tony Roche, publishing director of Emerald, explaining their decision to drop his book:

“I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript ‘In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor’. Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. … the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. …”

In the 1930s, J.R.R.Tolkien’s publisher contacted him regarding publishing ‘The Hobbit’ in Germany. To do so, they were legally obliged to provide an assurance that Tolkien had no Jewish ancestry. Tolkien gave them two courteous letters, saying he would rather they sent the first but he acknowledged it was up to them. The first politely withheld the information. The second expressed Tolkien’s “regret” that he had “no ancestors of the gifted Jewish race”, adding that his pride in his German ancestry would be sensibly diminished if enquiries of this kind pointed to Germany’s future. (Alas, back then, all too clearly they did.) Because it is this second letter that was found in the publisher’s files, it is thought they acted on Tolkien’s request to send the first.

My pride in being British will be sensibly diminished if Emerald’s letter points to our future. My Brexit enthusiasm owes much to my knowledge that one side would let Britain become a place where Emerald could feel less concerned, while the other are determined to give them cause to feel yet more.

Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 “to champion new ideas”, according to its website. I guess you could say free speech is an old idea and banning it is the new idea – though also a very old one. Or maybe ‘champion’ doesn’t mean what I thought it did. Such pride as I ever felt in British publishers was sensibly diminished as I read that letter – and it did not cheer me to think that while the decision may reflect some cowardice or even complicity in Emerald, shocked to find an un-PC book had somehow crept into their planned list, the letter may also be factual and more honest than the activists who would prosecute.

A logical danger in PC illogic

(Normal service – i.e. prose – will be resumed promptly. I promised a follow-up poem about its being too easy to rebut the race scammers – or ‘race hustlers’ as is, I believe, the US term. Here it is.)

ADVICE TO A CAMPUS RADICAL

When true statements are uttered by those you despise,
It’s not logical (nor helpful, narrative-wise)
To shout “racist”, as if hearers will not realise
That from true factual statements do not follow lies.

Don’t unwittingly justify what you oppose,
by discarding all logic for wokeness, like those
intellectuals lacking in intellect who
‘prove’ some true facts are racist (so racism’s true?).

When exam results don’t match what you want them to,
When too few of the prize winners have the ‘right’ hue,
Do not claim that it’s racist to add two and two:
“Mathematics is racist!” says “Racism’s true”.

If school discipline policies are colour-blind
and offender percentage results in each kind
are unequal, don’t say that is racist to do:
saying “colour-blind’s racist” says “racism’s true”.

That slavery is ancient, you should not deny,
Nor that blacks sold the blacks that white traders did buy,
Nor that one culture banned it and forced others to,
Nor that these truths aren’t racist (else racism’s true).

Falsifiable claims enforced by a loud few
Do not silence the minds whose mouths dare not argue;
Best let doubters weed errors in free speech review.
Don’t say free speech is racist; free speech finds what’s true.

Sadly, say what I like about freedom of speech.
How ‘respect’ means first hearing the viewpoint of each,
And how more diverse thoughts could expand your thought’s reach,
Your thought is:   we listen, while you alone teach.

When you welcome illegals, but back of the queue
Is where you put the Copt, Venezuelan or Jew
(anti-‘Zionist’ immigrants being welcome too)
It appears that some racism’s OK by you.

Know from false ideologies, falsehood derives:
You’ll be spreading the hatred, you claiming the lives.
If you war against truths then you will evil do,
For no truth can be racist – else racism’s true.

Too Easy to Rebut the PC Ta-Nehisi / NYT

The long-suffering readers of this blog know that, like Bilbo Baggins, I occasionally inflict poetry upon you (in deference to this blog’s free speech convictions, I also allow the word ‘doggerel’ 🙂 ).

Whether this poem says anything my prose did not say, I leave to readers, but since Ta-Nehisi is being echoed by Democrat candidates, and the NYT is promising to write essay after essay “demonstrating that nearly everything that has made America exceptional grew out of slavery”, how can we avoid restating truths as they reiterate their lies? In pursuit of variety, I therefore offer as poem some thoughts mostly already expressed in prose. (If commenters know other ways of restating timeless truths to resist the fashionable lies of this time, by all means say.)

When white traders sought a profit in black endless tribal wars,
Where the winners sold the losers, pinioned in their slave collars,
Then the winners were the losers, left behind in Africa,
From the losers came the winners, free men in America.

If you thought that reparations were owed you by those you blame
Then the past you should have had, you would endeavour to reclaim –
Live with offspring of keen sellers, whence your captured forebears came,
Quit the nation that stopped buying, if you thought it owned the shame –

Since a man who claims repayment from a country where he’ll stay,
Clutching eagerly its passport (to live there, not go away),
Knows the winners don’t descend from those who won a tribal war;
He, descendant of the losers, knows he is today’s victor.

For we all have ancestors, and all have some who had it rough.
‘Fixing’ that would have no end, quite cause enough to say “Enough!”.
But to insolently claim repayment for great benefit,
When the losers are long dead, and in world terms you’re doing great,

When you say your country owes you yet remain its citizen,
Shows you don’t think you, today, inherit loss from way back then.
Better not repay your country with your self-indulgent hate,
But rejoice its negroes prosper as it is again made great.

That it is in one way too easy to rebut these idiots – that the antifa woke mob have a power in their fists and in their administrators’ and media-friends’ fraud that they do not have in their heads – prompts me to write parables and poems to make it interesting. But since we believe diversity of thought is the only diversity of value, ‘too easy’ has its dangers – those words are not just in my title for the rhyme. But that must await my next poem.

Meanwhile (reverting to prose), the whole NYT Ta-Nehisian project is like observing that in the 1850s, while a majority of free U.S. blacks were literate and literacy passed easily from them to slaves, a majority of US slaves were not literate – at a time when the large majority of the world’s people were not literate. It is only because the US population was exceptionally literate for its time that one has any basis for complaint. And southern slaveowners worried about slave literacy only because, in the exceptional US, a literate slave might read that all men were endowed with inalienable rights – and then read a map showing routes northwards – which was not a danger in the unexceptional parts of the world.

(This is another of my “Less economy of truth, please” posts – maybe I should make a tag.)

Humanitarian Combat Fatigue

Recently I had the chance to talk to someone from a boat that had been in the mediterranean rescuing migrants – not one of the PC frauds that are the final stage of the people-smuggling operation, determined to land the ‘rescued’ in Europe or not at all, but just would-be humanitarian rescuers and returners.

What I was unprepared to learn about was something that sounded a bit like combat fatigue – the kind when a man says vehemently “I don’t want to talk about it”, and two hours later can’t stop talking about it. The people-smugglers pack them in, so the engine room is always crowded – maybe with those who did not pay or promise as much as others, maybe with those who were rashly eager, boarded first and got sent below, or maybe randomly. The ventilation is never adequate, and the people-smugglers never care, so typically half are dead by the time they are intercepted. I think the man who didn’t want to talk about it and couldn’t stop talking about it had cleared one too many such scenes – or maybe several too many.

Such accounts reinforce the impression I get from anecdotes on samizdata or elsewhere.

– Firstly, this is a commercial operation in which the people labelled ‘refugees’ are indeed really migrants but they are also more (or do I mean less?) than that. They are a commodity – a collaborating (and also pressured and deceived) commodity.

– Secondly, it is news to me if this aspect gets on the mainstream news. Is it just me (maybe it is – maybe I’ve missed watching counter-examples), or does mainstream media news consistently obscure this basic aspect of the migrant operation?

The equal oppression of the laws

“… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (14th amendment to the U.S. constitution)

Americans, especially right-wing ones, object if laws that protect them are applied unequally – if, for example, it is a crime for government emails to be held on private servers, but not when Hillary does it. But of course, right-wingers, especially American ones, believe that many laws don’t protect; they oppress. (And it is a point of honour in those who call themselves libertarians to believe that even more of the laws are like that.)

In the US, they seem to understand that these two beliefs support each other. The right dislike Obamacare – and were angry when Obama gave some Democrat constituencies waivers and deferrals when introducing it. No-one called them hypocrites for complaining about the unequal enforcement of a law they never wanted passed in the first place. Similarly, no-one seems to have missed the Logan Act during the centuries when it went unenforced, but did even the most fanatic NeverTrumper write “We should be above that” when Trump supporters pointed out that if the act was back in use then John Kerry should be prosecuted under it? Washington’s lobbyist class honours the Foreign Agents Registration Act far more in the breach than the observance, but the MSM seem keener to understate that fact than to denounce as hypocrites those right-wingers who say that now unregistered Republicans have been charged, prosecute some unregistered Democrats.

This attitude, I believe, extends to the first amendment. Legal exceptions to the first amendment (‘fighting words’, ‘clear and present danger’) are few, and the right wants it kept that way. But so long as those exceptions apply to them, the right also want them applied to any left-wing violator. They see that as defending free speech – not betraying it.

Here in Britain, by contrast, confusion reigns. Right-wing blogger Sargon of Akkad jokes about not offering violence to a left-wing politico – and the police visit him. Left-wing BBC comedian Jo Brand jokes about thowing acid rather than mikshake over Farage – and the police do not visit her. Whereupon Brendan O’Neill (who has written freedom-supporting articles in the past) writes in the Spectator (of which the same can be said) rebuking Mr Farage for suggesting that they should have.

(A PC gang once visited a pub where Nigel Farage, his wife and their children were dining, eager to cause harm. And he knows the drycleaning cost of getting mikshake off your suit. So I have a bit more sympathy for Nigel than for any other party leader, even Boris, when he yields to the temptation to wonder whether, despite Brand’s claims, it was not quite only a joke. But let us take it that it was just a joke.)

Brendan appears to be saying the true lover of free speech should not demand “the equal oppression of the laws”. Brendan wants an equal liberation from hate speech laws – Jo Brand must have the right to joke about throwing acid at Farage and Count Dankula must be free to film his dog doing a Nazi salute. I would like that too, but meanwhile,

“It is a settled rule with me to make the most of my actual situation, and not to refuse to do a proper thing because there is something else, more proper, which I am not able to do.” (Edmund Burke)

By criticising Nigel for resisting the double-standard (that Brendan also hates), Brendan implies that Farage’s demand for legal equality, not just Brand’s exploitation of left-wing privilege, is what stands in the way of that equal liberation. I think he is making a mistake – and confusing his mistake with the meaning of ‘free speech’.

I would much rather live in a Britain where neither Sargon nor Jo had a visit from the police – but I don’t. I’d criticise Farage if I thought Jo Brand dissapproved the police visiting Sargon – but I don’t (this pertinent hint merely confirms things I’ve heard her say). Unequal enforcement of the hate speech laws has been an essential part of maintaining them from the start. You don’t fight them by protecting that inequality. Free speech means the state shall not control what we may say. The state has yet more control when it does not just ban speech but bans it arbitrarily. So when people try to end that arbitrariness, they may not be failing to “disagree with what you say but defend your right to say it”, as Brendan claims; they may be defending free speech.

For clarity, let me illustrate with an example programme. Imagine (but don’t hold your breath for it) that PM Boris (radicalised by how he’s been treated, and heading a party purified by defections, internal deselections and/or external Brexit Party rivals) announces a bill to roll back the attack on free speech (e.g. repeal every such law since 9/11). However, he also announces that, while this bill slowly works its way towards the royal assent, his government, to protect equality before the law, will prosecute a backlog of unlawfully-suppressed cases from those years – remarks that were ever so woke, but were also hate speech as defined by the equitably-phrased laws, uttered by people who had also demanded the laws punish far less hateful remarks of their opponents.

– To Brendan (I would guess if I had only the Spectator article as my guide), these prosecutions would be no better than evil revenge, discrediting the cause and making the return of laws against ‘hate’ speech more likely.

– To me, they would be a good way of educating the public about what was wrong with those laws, and also a way to make the left think twice about reimposing them the moment they got back in power. But, beyond these tactical points, they would also uphold the principle of equality before the law.

We will not lack for mind-broadening frenemies to defend even after tolerating ‘equality before the law’ arguments against the loudest “I can say it but you can’t” enforcers of the double-standard. The woker-than-thou of today love purging the woke of yesterday – they will supply.

Equality before the law is good in itself. Demanding equality of oppression before the law is a way to expose a dishonest process. Think carefully before judging it a betrayal of our war against the hate speech laws’ evil goal, rather than a way – that can be both honest in itself and effective – of waging it.

The inclusiveness of ‘You didn’t build that’

“You didn’t build that” (Obama)

If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Prisoner then you’ve seen Portmeiron, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ Italianate architectural fantasy on the Llyn peninsula in Wales. In politics, Sir Clough was sometimes less of an individual than in architecture – he could echo the fashionable leftisms of his set.

One day, the state noticed what he was achieving at Portmeiron and ‘gave’ it protected status. After that, anybody who wanted to do any more building there had to satisfy the bureaucrats. “I was rather surprised”, said Sir Clough, “to discover that ‘anybody’ included me.”

Recently, Nancy Bass Wyden, wife of Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat), had a similar experience in De Blasio’s New York. I wonder if she was similarly surprised when all her democratic party connections and all the 11,000 signatures on her petition against it did not prevent De Blasio adding one more bureau to the list of those who get to tell the increasingly-titular owner of the Landmarks bookstore what she can and cannot do. (And if you think none of these bureaucrats would notice if Landmarks ever seemed overeager to push an off-message book then I have a bridge in De Blasio’s New York that you can ‘own’ every bit as much as Nancy owns Landmarks.)

Ayn Rand’s architect hero in The Fountainhead has one solution for what to do when the state steals your building – blow it up – but I’ve always found that a bit negative. Trump has, I suppose, at least ensured that whatever excuse they ‘trump up’ to attack his buildings, it won’t be by declaring them much loved landmarks that must be preserved. But I’ve yet to think of a general solution. Buildings, alas, cannot vote with their feet.

Don’t let them have a double standard about their double standards

Recently, the Daily Mail told me what the Guardian chose not to – research in the tapes made by the FBI of Martin Luther King suggest they were more embarrassing than just those impertinent recordings of a man when intimate with his wife that the narrative assured us was all they were.

Of the truth or falsity of these new claims I will say nothing. Truth is the daughter of time, and I think it wise to keep an open mind for at least a little more time. The point of this post is different.

Although it’s been old news for years (these stories may revive it), there was a time when the narrative was very invested in assuring us that Robert Kennedy signed off on this bugging in all innocence. Poor Bobby just thought the bugging would prove that Dr King was not a communist sympathiser, and so discredit the racially-motivated rumours. How upset he was to realise – too late, alas – that racist J Edgar Hoover had used it otherwise. Like ex-KKK member the ultra-liberal senator Byrd, and that other Kennedy after his belatedly-reported car accident, Bobby got the absolution that all get who get with the PC programme.

Meanwhile, on the other side of this ledger, Dr King is now accused of joining the elite in enjoying the 60s sexual revolution in 1964, a few years before it was announced to us commoners – and, much more seriously, of being the accomplice in a rape. That is, it is claimed that very hard credible evidence exists of Dr King’s doing more determined and greater evil than Justice Kavanaugh was accused of doing without a shred of credible evidence.

Reacting to this, some have asked

Should we change the name on every school, park, and boulevard across the nation named after him as if he were the inverse of Robert E. Lee

Others quote a commenter to one of the early reports urging that when statues and street names are threatened by the PC, the name of Dr King can be mentioned

NOT in the spirit of “Whataboutism”, but in order to remind them that there is no incompatibility between celebrating the achievements of people in the past and acknowledging that those people had – as we all do – major flaws.

(“major flaws” reminded me of Laurie’s enraged “Rape is a ‘moral lapse’ !” response to the comedian’s – arguably lesser, as we eventually discover – guilt in Watchmen.)

To be fair, other names besides General Lee are being bandied about. Of Jefferson at least, there is both contemporary accusation (“He sold the offspring of his lusts at the block to swell his profits”, said Hamilton) and some later evidence (I do not know if the “him or his brother” aspect of the DNA evidence has been fully resolved); did Jefferson “tremble for my country when I think that God is just, that his justice will not sleep forever” because he had memories of which he was not proud? Of some others, we know only that on the old south’s plantations (where white control was strongest) between 1% and 2% of the babies born were of mixed race, which is one guide to the probabilities on either side of any debate about a given insufficiently-known individual. No doubt some master-slave sex was consensual – in a sense. Though the old south did not equal an Arab harem’s ability to give its occupants no alternatives and compelling motives, one does not have to OD on PC and MeToo to see what could be said about the limits of that sense – but one does have to OD on them not to see that the absence or presence of overt refusal and misery on the part of the woman says something important about the character of the man. If the tapes only showed Dr King anticipating the fashionable left-wing mores of the later 60s with women (over whom he had authority) who were overtly consensual, former admirers would not call it ‘nauseating’.

Of General Lee, I long ago said that I admired his character, but was glad his cause lost. Of Dr King (if this prove true) I will one day say that I’m glad his cause won but do not admire him – very much the reverse. And I will indeed not mention him with General Lee in any spirit of what-about-ism – because there would be a great gulf fixed between the characters of the two men. King would indeed be an inverse of Lee – inverse in cause and inverse in character, and those two the inverses of each other. Let’s have no new double-standard, like an adversity-qualified SAT score, about what makes a decent human being.

Or, as powerline remarks in passing,

For what it is worth, however, I think that American heroes like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant and Ronald Reagan were of far higher moral character than King.

Me too!

Resisting ethnic prejudice by other means

Germany resists islamophobia. German law seeks to purge the public domain of such offensive views.

Germany also resists anti-semitism. The German government’s anti-semitism commissioner has warned Jews to avoid being Jewish in public.

The BBC sees the German far right behind the rise in anti-semitism that prompted the commissioner’s advice. Is it just me or are they ignoring a rival explanation?

Also, is it just me, or is the German method for resisting anti-semitism rather different from the German method for resisting islamophobia – so different, in fact, that their advice to Jews resembles what their law demands of ‘islamophobes’: become invisible in the public domain lest you cause offence?

I wrote a poem about this a while back.

Do please feel free to say that it’s just me and there is really nothing more to see here. After all, I expect that’s what the German government’s anti-semitism commissioner would say – but he might be only obeying orders, or only obeying the anti-islamophobia law.