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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.)

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!

Was I gullible to believe in Tory cynicism?

Ever since Gove messed up the election of a leave leader, my confidence that the Tories would nevertheless deliver Brexit rested less on the belief that the parliamentary party contained more leavers than full-blown remoaners than on the conviction that it contained many who just wanted to win the next election. Cameron’s referendum to deal with the internal and external (UKIP) threat to Tory electoral prospects ended not as he intended, but it offered such MPs a very obvious path forward. Likewise, when May demonstrated her ability to reduce a poll-lead healthily exceeding 20% to a result just exceeding 2% (over Corbyn, of all people), my belief that the Tories would not risk another election under her leadership rested solidly on my faith in how many Tory MPs wanted first and foremost to win.

For now, it is all still to play for. Firstly, if there are as many letters written as rumoured, yet such as David Davis are still thinking about it, then Mogg’s “this week or next” remains on the table – and I quite see that the rule ensuring May a challenge-free year if she survives a vote is a very good reason for caution in the run-up to launching one. Secondly, when May’s incompetence made her dependent on the DUP for her majority, I thought it good for one reason; I now also think it good for another. Thirdly, if all else fails, reality could still prove wiser than parliament and deliver us a no-deal Brexit through their sheer inability to agree anything decisive in a timely fashion.

All that said, I am beginning to question my faith in the “focus on winning” cynicism of a sufficient majority of Tory MPs. It is one thing to think that enough Tory MPs to keep May as leader could betray their voters, their party, their principles and the most emphatic statements of their 2017 manifesto (and her leadership campaign), but it shakes me to the core to find myself wondering if they could choose the electoral death ride of May campaigning on this deal rather than follow a leaver. I’m glad that a majority of back-bench MPs seem to be interested in retaining the votes of the ‘swivel-eyed loons’ so derided by Cameron, Osborne, and now May, but just how many others would rather lose than be unfriended in SWI ?

Natalie once stated she would endure a Corbyn government rather than stay in the EU. I have always felt much sympathy for the wretched situation of Slavs who found themselves fighting for Stalin against Hitler as the only alternative to Hitler’s winning, and it is with similar feelings that I do see her point (if, that is, we could even rely on their being alternatives). However we should be able to do better than that.

Who got Hitler’s vote last month?

Vince Cable is the latest of many LibDem and Labour leaders and followers who are irrisistibly reminded of Hitler when they contemplate some Tory politician. Jeremy Corbyn is reminded of Hitler by Donald Trump, casting Theresa May in the lesser role of Neville Chamberlain at Munich. Even the odd Tory – the very odd Tory 🙂 – insists it’s the Tory leader, not the Labour leader, that reminds them of Hitler.

I think comparing our politicians to Hitler pretty meaningless when even the ones I dislike are obviously more like themselves than like him. Would it be less absurd to ask: who gets his vote? If Adolf had immigrated into Britain recently, or else was already living here, whom would he have voted for last month? Doubtless, like the rest of us, he’d have been less than delighted with either major party, but which one would he have reluctantly chosen? Let’s look at cases.

If Adolf were an immigrant: a year ago, the beeb and other media went wild over the arab girl who posted a peace-symbol selfie against the Geert Wilders rally. They quickly lost interest in the story when shown her earlier tweet – “Hitler didnt kill all the jews, he left some. So we know why he was killing them.” If she had moved to Britain last year, I think we know which party she would have voted for last month. Just as it was when the Mufti of Jerusalem praised Adolf Effendi, so it would have been last month: the common elements of disliking Jews and liking socialist methods would have made her choice easy.

If Adolf already lived here: twenty-five years ago, I encountered the only native Briton I’ve ever met who agreed with Hitler. In a street in Braintree, a group had gathered round a stall collecting signatures for the Maastricht Referendum Petition*. A man signed and commented that we fought Germany in WWII so why were we giving them a say in ruling us now. While others agreed, a batty old woman suddenly said, “We were on the wrong side.” The man both felt and acted utter astonishment: his step back, pointedly dropped jaw and angled-back head well-conveyed what we all felt. I expressed the “no point arguing with her” feeling I sensed in the rest of us by joking, “Clearly, opposition to the eurocrats covers a very wide range of opinion.” My ‘reward’ for saying that was to have her press a leaflet on me. It ‘explained’ that the Jews were behind everything and we needed politicians who would wield state power to stop them, not enable them (I was not persuaded 🙂 ). Twenty-five years ago, I would not have guessed Labour any more likely than Tories to be the recipient of her vote in that year’s election. Today, I’m quite sure Labour got her vote a month ago. Jeremy would deny her remark indignantly – but he and his friends have so much in common with her.

So that is my view of which party any latterday Hitler-lookalike would choose if their views echoed the ‘National’ side of Hitler’s National Socialist ideology. And the more they echoed the ‘Socialist’ side as well, the surer I am of my answer.

I’m still not sure it’s a useful question. I can doubt someone is much like Hitler in character and intent, yet think they are furthering his goals. What do commenters think?

—-

* The Maastricht Referendum Petition was organised by a group of Tory, Labour and LibDem rebels to ask parliament for a referendum on the UK joining the Maastricht treaty in the early ’90s. From memory, patrons were Margaret Thatcher for Tories, the Duke of Devonshire for LibDems and someone for Labour, and the organising MPs were Austin Mitchell for Labour, and a LibDem MP and a Tory MP whose names I have forgotten. When the petition was voted down, former Tory leader Lady Margaret Thatcher and future Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith both supported a referendum, while the Labour MPs who ‘agreed’ with them included none other than a certain Jeremy Corbyn, along with Diane Abbott, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway (but also former Labour leader Jim Callaghan). So it seems that opposition to the eurocrats did indeed then, as now, cover “a very wide range of opinion” – and I feel even more sure that Labour had the batty old woman’s vote last month (unless she’s dead; I call her a batty old woman for a reason).

FYI, some Labour backbenchers supported the referendum because they were furious that the Tory-negotiated deal included an opt-out from the EU’s ‘social clause’, i.e. some Labour MPs voted for a referendum so they could renegotiate to give yet more power to the EU (“wide range of opinion” indeed 🙂 ).

Whose gambit over Syria?

The shooting down of a Russian military aircraft, by Turkey, allegedly after it passed into a sliver of Turkish airspace during a mission over northern Syria might well be an isolated incident, like Gadaffi’s clashes with the US Navy over the Gulf of Sidra in the 1980s. For me, I hear an ironic but distorted echo of the shooting down of the Korean Air flight 007 by the Soviets in 1983, when it was 90 seconds from international airspace after passing briefly through Soviet airspace, but that was a civil flight and a clear case of Soviet mass murder.

Whatever happened may not become clear, but why it happened is for now, even murkier.

Was it a ‘gambit’, like a pawn sacrifice (the eternal lot of the military) in chess to gain a strategic advantage, a pretext to escalate the situation or to force others hands?
Was the shooting down a provocation by a resurgent Erdogan, confident in his election victory, expecting to shield from Russia behind NATO?
Was it Russian testing of Turkish resolve, or vice versa?
Did both sides hope for a crisis too good to waste?
Is Russia hoping to drive a wedge between Turkey and the rest of NATO, expecting the wetter elements to take fright and use the ‘Polish veto’ of NATO?
Is Russia hoping for a prolonged spike in the oil price to boost its economy, and distract the hard-pressed masses from their troubles and toils?
Or was it just a trigger-happy pilot?
And what would be the best outcome for the West from this tragedy?

The upshot of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris almost seems as they were 1960s KGB/GRU operations designed to sow discord within Europe and to set countries against each other and élites against the people, with Putin having dusted down an old plan and re-worked it. But is that not over-complicating matters?

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