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

Sweden – “portal into the future” ?

The woke seek total victory and total defeat – which I long ago predicted they would get, albeit maybe delphically. But an interesting article in Unherd describes the latest state reached in Sweden’s dry-run of woke cancel culture as “an uneasy ceasefire”.

It started as all-out culture war.

With the benefit of hindsight, immigration now appears not as a question important in and of itself, but as a form of wedge corresponding to a very particular political moment of establishment fear and anger at parts of their own electorate.

But six years on,

While the deplorables are still mocked, there is no bite to it anymore. SD voters are no longer at risk of having their careers cancelled. In 2021, an unspoken attitude of ”don’t ask, don’t tell” prevails.

In the areas in Stockholm where most of the country’s journalists live, it is probably less awkward to openly admit to sympathising with SD on immigration than it is to proudly proclaim that Sweden is far from full and ought to take in at least a million more Afghans in the next couple of years.

How have the SD, the Swedish lovers of free speech, the heterodoxians like the article’s author, achieved this (I hear you begging me to say 🙂 )? Well, in large part at least, the article thinks they (we) haven’t. It is due to

the belated discovery that these consequences of immigration are in fact very real, and that methods of ”shaping the narrative” cannot really change material reality.

More critically, there is the realisation that nobody — certainly not middle class progressives — wants to live with those consequences at all.

It was not of course a belated discovery for Sweden’s “deplorables”, but I predict they will be treated as Edmund Burke was over two centuries ago. By the time the woke of his day were unable to avoid seeing that the French revolution was as unpleasant as Burke had predicted, they knew he was ‘already’ a enemy of it ‘anyway’ – so they dismissed him as just an accidentally-right stopped clock they could go on despising. Sweden’s deplorables will be called ‘stopped clocks’ by Sweden’s woke because they warned of danger beforehand, not after it became undeniable, just as Donald Trump is a ‘stopped clock’ to many who are falling out of love with Biden, but not with their own self-identity as clever, compassionate and politically far-sighted. The woke find forgiving deplorables for being deplorable very hard – but forgiving deplorables for being right when the woke are wrong is much harder.

Read the whole article – it will repay you.

Beware the prepared PC put-down

“But despite that [her years of experience]”, the lady said, “I still had to get re-certified. It started with an equality and diversity test, and I got the first question wrong.”

“Everyone does”, said the other lady. “They ask you what equality means and the first answer in the list is ‘Equal treatment’ but the right answer is ‘Equal outcomes’. If you question it, they tell you that if you give two women the same leaflet in English but one of them speaks English and the other speaks Farsi then that’s equal treatment but not equal outcomes.”

Many retired doctors or nurses offered to help during the pandemic, only to discover there were bureaucratic hoops to jump through before they would be allowed to do so. Arguably, this was a pity from the point of view of health in the UK, but as a man once said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste – whereas time in a crisis apparently isn’t.

The lesson I took from this conversation is that the politically correct are trained to see you coming, so have their put-downs ready. Diversity training for us commoners may include being on the receiving end of those put-downs. Diversity training for the trainers includes being ready with them.

“I prefer questions that cannot be answered to answers that cannot be questioned.” (Richard Feynman)

On the road from the culture of free speech to that of

“Shut Up”, he explained

there is a country of answers we’re being trained not to question through the use of put-downs they’re trained to use if we dare to.

Commenters are invited to report any such put-downs they’ve met, any pithy rejoinders to such would-be-conversation-ending put-downs that they know of, and of course their thoughts.

Charged with ‘aggravated misconduct’. For a tweet he made when he was 14.

Here is an extract from the report in today’s Times:

The Middlesbrough defender Marc Bola has been charged by the FA [Football Association] with aggravated misconduct for comments he made on social media when he was 14, nine years ago.

The FA has alleged that Bola, now 23, who signed for Middlesbrough from Blackpool in 2019, posted a ‘reference to sexual orientation.’ He is facing a written warning, an education course or a potential three-game ban for the post from 2012.

An FA statement read: “Middlesbrough FC’s Marc Bola has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a social media post on April 14, 2012.

If, rather than mouthing off on Twitter, the fourteen year old Bola had had the forethought to instead commit a violent crime meriting up four years imprisonment, the sentence would have been considered “spent” by now under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

This woman makes me sympathise with Governor Gavin Newsom

Not, obviously, to the extent of wanting him to escape being thrown out on his ear in the coming California gubernatorial recall election, but reading about Newsom’s “epic battle” with Cecily Myart Cruz, President of United Teachers Los Angeles, the major LA teachers’ union, gave me a soupçon of sympathy with the man.

This is how Ms Myart Cruz responded to a question from Jason McGahan of Los Angeles Magazine about children falling behind in their education while Los Angeles schools were closed during the pandemic:

“There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”

From Cecily Myart-Cruz’s Hostile Takeover of L.A.’s Public Schools by Jason McGahan.

Via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit and Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, which I shall look at again.

Came for tea, stayed for the rape: a beloved children’s classic re-analysed

They’ve come for the tiger.

“Children’s book ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’ could lead to rape and harassment’ because it reinforces gender inequality that causes violence against women, campaigner claims”, reports the Mail.

It may have delighted generations of children, but The Tiger Who Came To Tea reinforces gender inequality which causes violence against women and girls, a campaigner said yesterday.

Rachel Adamson, of Zero Tolerance, a charity working to end men’s violence against women, said Judith Kerr’s 1968 classic was ‘problematic’ because of its ‘old fashioned’ portrayal of women and family dynamics.

The book sees an uninvited tiger join a young girl and her mother for tea before eating all the food in the house, drinking everything, running the taps dry and leaving.

The girl’s father then comes home and takes her and her mother to a cafe.

Miss Adamson did not call for the book to be banned but said it could be used to ‘raise a conversation’ in nurseries.

She told BBC Radio Scotland: ‘We know that gender stereotypes are harmful and they reinforce gender inequality, and that gender inequality is the cause of violence against women and girls, such as domestic abuse, rape and sexual harassment.’

Adamson questioned the tiger’s gender and why he was not female or gender neutral.

Um… would this campaigner against violence inflicted on women and girls, whose organisation specifically defends its focus on men’s violence against women really want to see a children’s book in which the enormous, physically dominant predator who blags its way into a space which a woman and a girl had thought their own and abuses their hospitality was female or transgender?

Sigh. As the Mail article points out, Judith Kerr knew a thing or two about prejudice leading to violence. Her father was a well known German Jewish writer who had to flee with his family when the Nazis came to power and put a price on his head. They only just escaped. She wrote a lightly fictionalised account of her family’s story in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Nonetheless, she always resisted attempts to claim that the tiger was a metaphor for Nazism. It was just a big hungry but affable tiger who ate all the buns and drank all the water in the tap.

→ Continue reading: Came for tea, stayed for the rape: a beloved children’s classic re-analysed

Samizdata quote of the day

The Taliban is getting its message out on social media, too, giving live updates on its seizure of power. A man claiming to be an official representative has had an active account on Twitter since 2017 and has over 280,000 followers. He has had a lot to tweet about in recent days.

This might seem unusual, considering how censorious Twitter usually is. It has punished people for stepping out of line on numerous issues from transgenderism to Covid-19. Most infamously, it banned the sitting US president, Donald Trump, earlier this year. Even more extraordinarily, the ban largely related to Trump’s behaviour off the platform. Many months on, as the Taliban tweets freely about its progress, Trump is still banned.

Paddy Hannam

I think he needs to get out more

Specifically, out of the bubble more.

“no one saw this coming” (Dominic Raab, UK Foreign Secretary)

One of many things ‘no one’ saw was the inverse analogy with Iran sending back the hostages just as President Reagan was being inaugurated. The mullahs felt no fear of President Carter but are on record as deciding to send them home to meet incoming President Reagan from a concern that:

“he might use cowboy methods”

The very same Democrat/US-‘liberal’ election rhetoric designed to make voters think Reagan might start WWIII suggested to the mullahs that he might be dangerously unpredictable – and that Carter was a pussycat

In exactly the same way, the rhetoric they used against Donald Trump was useful to him – and very undermining to Biden’s ability to ‘deal’ with the Taliban (not that Biden had much ability they needed to undermine). Brendan O’Neill has explained how wokeness hurt the west’s Afghanistan efforts, but while Trump was in the white house there was also a counter-effect. Precisely because it was Trump’s enemies who were saying ‘he’s a crazy violent nutjob who might do anything’, the Taliban were more convinced to be wary of Trump than by Trump’s own threats alone – and more convinced they need not beware of Biden.

Did no one that Raab talked to foresee that?

I’m not picking on Raab specially. There are many MP’s I’d far sooner see gone from the Tory party, and as for the current ministers of the crown, they could all do with getting out (of the bubble) more.

Samizdata quote of the day

This was always the West’s problem in Afghanistan: it lacked faith in the very values it claimed to be delivering to that benighted country. We will liberate women from life under the burqa, Western officials said. But isn’t it ‘Islamophobic’ to criticise the burqa, or any other Islamic practice for that matter? Our elites have insisted for years that it is. We will replace your intolerant Islamist system with a civil society fashioned by clever professors, the West promised. But isn’t it judgemental and possibly a tad racist – certainly an offence against the ideology of multiculturalism – to imply that Western democracy is superior to Islamist theocracy? As one British think-tank says, in its definition of the term ‘Islamophobia’, it is wrong to suggest that Islam is in any way ‘inferior to the West’. The West’s post-9/11 bluster was continually undermined by the West’s broader descent into moral relativism. How can you assert the civilisational authority of Western values when your entire educational and university system is devoted to questioning and demeaning Western civilisation? You cannot partake in a clash of civilisations if you loathe your own civilisation.

Brendan O’Neill

A huge crack appears in the media’s narrative dam

This is nothing less than the highest circulation newspaper not just in Germany but all Europe publicly repenting their role in spreading state propaganda and fake news. This is from 28 May 2021, and yet I only heard about this today; the fact it was not front page news across the world is very revealing indeed.

(turn on translation subtitles if you do not understand German. Also, partial transcript here in English and French)

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.)

What is the payoff for producing such obviously counter-productive propaganda?

One of these links will take you to an article in today’s Times by David Charter:

“Texas stops teaching that Ku Klux Klan was morally wrong”

“Texas stops teaching that Ku Klux Klan was morally wrong”

“Texas stops teaching that Ku Klux Klan was morally wrong”

“Texas stops teaching that Ku Klux Klan was morally wrong”

Which link is it? It doesn’t matter*. You all guessed right. You had no need to actually read the article to predict with a high degree of accuracy what it would say. You had no need of a Times subscription to know that whatever Texas was doing would turn out to be something far less dramatic than the headline suggests.

I am not going to quote the article even now. Do not feel deprived. As I find increasingly often these days, the readers’ comments are better than the stuff above the line.

A commenter called Dick Marlow says,

I think that this headline is misleading.

As I understand it the State of Texas has decided that it should not enumerate in law incidents and beliefs that 99.9% of Texans accept were both wrong and repugnant. This is not the same as “stops teaching that the KKK was morally wrong” which can be interpreted as meaning the state permits teaching that the KKK was morally acceptable.

This is not what they are attempting to do. They are shifting the responsibility of identifying which unacceptable events need to be taught from the state legislature and shifting it downstream, nearer both the ISDs, parents and teachers.

But you already knew it would turn out be something like that.

Why do they do this? I cannot even say that a clickbait headline lets down a respectable article, since the unknown subeditor has merely re-phrased Mr Charter’s very first line. The Times used to be better than this. David Charter has been known to be better than this. It’s not like they’re fooling anyone: there is a veritable flood of comments saying, no, the Texas Department of Education has not decided to take a neutral position on whether the Klan was a Bad Thing.

What is the payoff for producing such obviously counter-productive propaganda?

*The important question, and the one to which you will not find the answer by hovering your mouse over the link, is which of them takes you to the cute video of a sloth in a boat.