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]

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.

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

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.)

Readers’ poll: what on earth did Boris mean?

Sky News on Twitter: “Boris Johnson has suggested the world’s leading nations should support a more ‘gender-neutral and feminine’ way of post-COVID economic recovery.”

“Gender neutral and feminine”? Click on the words below* that in your opinion best match what was going through Boris’s tousled head as he said these words.

(a) Pay up, Matt, I did it.

(b) Hey, if Joe can get away with “Those RFA pilots”, I can get away with this.

(c) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Carrie.

(d) You’re looking awfully pretty today, Ursula.

*Nothing will happen when you click. But you will feel better for having expressed yourself.

Sir Keir Starmer takes the knee: a case study in the perils of seizing the moment

A year ago today, the leader of the Labour party knelt in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Here is how it was reported at the time:

The Independent: Black Lives Matter: Keir Starmer takes knee in solidarity with ‘all those opposing anti-black racism’

The Sun: ‘WE KNEEL WITH YOU’ Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer takes a knee in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protests

Sky News: George Floyd death: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer takes a knee in support of Black Lives Matter movement

Sir Keir himself, on Twitter: We kneel with all those opposing anti-Black racism. #BlackLivesMatter

The Daily Mail: Labour leader Keir Starmer ‘takes a knee’ in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters as Parliament holds a minute’s silence in memory of George Floyd

I had forgotten about Parliament as a whole holding a minute’s silence for George Floyd, yet the BBC report has that as the headline and leaves mention of Sir Keir Starmer until far down the page.

And that is the point of this post. Heaven knows, I detest the BLM movement as it actually is: an engine for manufacturing racial hatred founded by self-described “trained Marxists” whose goals are, not surprisingly, Marxist. But if you got your news from the BBC or the Guardian in June 2020, you would not have heard about all that “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family” stuff. Come to think of it, you probably still won’t have heard about it from those sources in June 2021.

It must have seemed a reasonable move at the time. The day before hitting the carpet, on June 8th 2020, Sir Keir had participated in a radio phone-in hosted by LBC’s Nick Ferrari in which he talked about the toppling of the statue of Sir Edward Colston and said,

“It shouldn’t have been done in that way, completely wrong to pull a statue down like that,” he said. “Stepping back, that statue should have been taken down a long, long time ago. We can’t, in 21st century Britain, have a slaver on a statue. A statue is there to honour people.

“That statue should have been brought down properly, with consent, and put, I would say, in a museum.”

This nuanced line had gone down rather well. Most of the callers were polite. In the press, many of the comments on his performance were favourable, even in outlets like the Mail or the Sun that are traditionally hostile to Labour.

How natural, then, to balance out that right-wing law ‘n’ order talk with a harmless gesture to show he was still on-side. Everyone else was doing it: the UK Parliament as mentioned above, a bunch of senior Democrats in the US, the Metropolitan Police in London and many others worldwide.

Yet Sir Keir kneeling is now widely seen as a political disaster. Looking at the trendlines of Sir Keir’s performance as Leader of the Opposition as measured by YouGov, “doing badly” is not much affected but “doing well” flattens out there and then, and, crucially I think, the numbers saying they “don’t know” suddenly decrease. There were quite a lot of people who started to have an opinion about Sir Keir as a potential prime minister when they saw him on his knees.

Inclusion and diversity is so 2020

“Chicago mayor’s decision to only speak to journalists of color is commendable, not racist”, writes someone in the Independent. The apparent erasure of the author’s identity was the Independent‘s doing, not mine, but they – the author – describe themselves as a Black and Native American writer who finds Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s demand to only speak with journalists of colour commendable.

On libertarian principle, I support the right of Ms Lightfoot or anyone else to refuse to associate with people of a different race, but unlike this author I disapprove of racism.

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.]

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.

Portugal has a socialist education policy

“Portugal blocks remote lessons at private schools to help state pupils”, the Times reports.

Portugal has blocked private schools from offering remote learning for at least a fortnight amid fears that more privileged children will gain an unfair advantage over their poorer counterparts after the closure of state schools.

The minority Socialist-led government of António Costa, the prime minister, had said this month that schools would remain open. However, political pressure over soaring Covid-19 infections forced it to announce last Thursday that schools would be closed from the next day.

A decree forced all schools to take a two week holiday, with the government saying that allowing private institutions to teach remotely would put state-school pupils at an unfair disadvantage.

As a commenter, “Mr N D” says, “The headline is misleading. This isn’t helping anyone at all, it’s making sure that everyone is held back.”

Resign, then.

The Times reports,

Staying neutral impossible after Black Lives Matter, says National Gallery chief

The head of the National Gallery has said the Black Lives Matters movement meant it was no longer feasible to remain politically neutral with silence now viewed as complicity.

Gabriele Finaldi told his board of trustees that in the past the museums funded directly by the government such as the National Gallery, Tate and British Museum had “refrained from making political statements”. Since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement this year “a neutral stance was no longer feasible”, he said.

He added that in the past the state-funded institutions looking after national collections would try to “respond to events through its activities”. According to minutes of a board meeting in June, Mr Finaldi then said “that the climate had changed so that silence was now perceived as being complicit”.

Perceived by whom? Why doesn’t Mr Finaldi say who these people whose perceptions matter so much are? He talks about “the climate” as if it were something external and objective but I see nothing more than the opinions of his set.

Whatever “the climate” may mean, the National Gallery is not the only public institution living in this particular climate zone:

In June of this year most of the national museums, including the Victoria & Albert, the Science Museum and the Tate, released statements supporting the aims of the Black Lives Matter movement. Widespread demonstrations had taken place after the killing of George Floyd by police in the United States.

Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum, wrote that “we are aligned with the spirit and soul of Black Lives Matter everywhere” while Sir Ian Blatchford, the director of the Science Museum, said it haunted him “that there have been too many false dawns, too many speeches and broken promises” in the battle for racial equality.

Times readers do not constitute a representative sample of the electorate, but I found it significant that out of the 194 reader comments so far I found precisely one that seemed to support Mr Finaldi, and that one might have been sarcasm.

The ultimation

The Times reports,

FTSE 100 businesses ‘must bring minorities on board’

One of Britain’s biggest institutional investors has told the 30 or more FTSE 100 companies with all-white boards that it will vote against them unless they hire an ethnic-minority director in the next 15 months.

Legal & General, which manages more than £1.2 trillion of assets on behalf of pension funds and other clients, issued the ultimatum in the past few days in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.

L&G has written to all 100 companies in the FTSE 100 as well as the US companies in the S&P 500 telling them it expects them all to have at least one director of black, Asian or other minority ethnic (Bame) origin in place by January 1, 2022.

It told them it will vote against the re-election of the company’s nomination committee chairmen if they fail to meet this target. Nomination committees are the main board panels responsible for board appointments.

L&G, which typically owns 2 or 3 per cent of almost every British blue chip, is thought to be the first big UK institution to warn explicitly it will vote against any company failing to comply.

Does Legal and General as a company have the moral right to invest as it sees fit? Absolutely. But as a commenter called David C says,

I have a pension invested with L&G. I’m taking this as an early indicator the company has fallen into woke hands, which means performance is going to suffer.

David C then spoils a good point by saying that that social diversity matters should be left to government. The L&G plan to “force” racial quotas on those companies in whom it invests by threatening to put its money elsewhere unless they comply with its wishes is preferable to the actual force-with-threat-of-jail as used by governments.

Even so, members of the board of Legal and General should remember three points:

1) They are investees as well as investors. What they do to others can be done to them, with equal legitimacy.

2) L&G say that research by McKinsey & Co shows that “more racially diverse boards make better decisions and produce better financial returns to shareholders.” In itself I can well believe that heterogeneous boards help a company avoid groupthink and hence improve profits. But when a person is hired for their skin colour it is probable – not certain, but probable – that they will not be as competent as a person hired for their competence. I admire L&G for being willing to put this oft-made claim that affirmative action helps the bottom line to very a public test.

3) Isn’t racial discrimination illegal?

I lied when I said three points. Point four is affirmative action never delivers equality. Decades of caste quotas in India and racial quotas in Malaysia have been dandy for a small sub-class of hereditary quota-fillers while entrenching the assumption that the “helped” class could not make it on their own. Point five is that, legal or not, racial discrimination is wrong.