Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Alternative to Black Lives Matter

Sure, I'll bite. Here's my alternative vision:

As I noted in a previous post, what the black community needs, fundamentally, is dignity. That can't come from unending dependence on the government and/or the largess of white people. That can only come from ordered liberty and a solid record of tangible achievements. How do I know this? Because that's how other minority groups in the U.S. - including African immigrants - have risen from poverty to relative prosperity.

In the past, black Americans accomplished much despite the many obstacles that were placed in their path. So the first thing I propose? Teach that history. Talk about the black people who became doctors and lawyers and successful business owners despite open racism and legal segregation -- and frankly describe precisely how that happened. Said black folk didn't feel sorry for themselves. They didn't wait for someone else to pull them up. Instead, they studied hard. They worked hard.  They confronted the unfairness of the world with their mettle and their skill.

Be honest about America's flawed history -- but whatever you do, don't tell black people that they will never succeed because the system is still stacked against them. All that does is engender feelings of resentment and helplessness. Plus, such an assertion is demonstrably false. Black Americans did and do succeed all the time regardless of their disadvantages.

Second, don't lower the bar. Raise it. Black students should be expected to meet the exact same standards other students are asked to meet. Keep standardized tests and minimum academic requirements. Get rid of quotas. And then ensure that every motivated, talented K-12 student in the black community has access to the same educational opportunities as everyone else. I believe this will involve a radical embrace of school choice, but I'm willing to discuss other serious proposals that don't involve simply throwing money at an institution - i.e., the public school system - with a documented record of failure.

Third, tear down all barriers to economic opportunity. Get rid of minimum wages for minors so teens can more easily gain work experience. (FYI: The minimum wage was originally established to protect white union members from competition from black workers. It was racist at its foundation.) Scrap out-of-control business regulations and licensing requirements so black women who want to make money braiding hair can do so without jumping through a zillion hoops.

Fourth, we must, must, must promote bourgeois values -- not just for black people, but for everyone! We should be absolutely clear that marriage is the best context in which to raise children according to every social science indicator. We must encourage saving and other financially responsible lifestyle choices. We should do whatever we can to restore social capital in our neighborhoods so that each person - white or black - will have a reliable community to lean on whenever he or she runs into trouble. And overall, we should value the ability to delay gratification and practice the traditional virtues.

Lastly, while we certainly do need to reform our urban police departments and our justice system, we also need to challenge the elements of the black subculture that encourage criminality, violence, and anti-intellectualism. My best friend in high school - who was black - was constantly accused of "acting white" because she took AP classes and edited the literary magazine. That crap is wrong. That crap must stop. The black community, internally, must ensure that their members can reach for the highest rungs without worrying that they'll be pulled back into the crab bucket by the disapproval of their fellows.

So there you have it. That's my program for black equality. Make of it what you will.


Saturday, July 4, 2020

Celebrate America. And Be Loud About It.

The United States of America is a good country.

The philosophy that animates our institutions is fundamentally sound -- and profoundly moral. Because our Founders declared at the very start that "all men are created equal" and are endowed by God with rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," we have abolished slavery, broadened the franchise, and successfully torn down many unfair barriers to success. This didn't happen all at once, it is true; it took some time for the implications of Jefferson's words to manifest in the way our laws were enforced. But if you elide the men of 1776 from our national story because, like all human beings, they were sinners and hypocrites, you will destroy that foundation that allows us to see the various -isms as evils.

And in all honesty, I suspect that's what our disloyal, ignorant radicals want to do. Why? Because despite their high-flying rhetoric about "justice" and "reparation," they don't really want to rid the world of bigotry and establish a maximally fair system. No -- they simply want to replace one sort of bigotry for another. They want to destroy our professional police forces because it's those forces that stand between them and their ability to victimize the people they perceive to be their enemies. They want to destroy the traditions of our liberal republic and our free marketplace because they hate, hate, hate that said structures (when functioning appropriately) reward industry and merit and not necessarily their bestest friends.

We should resist this insurrection with as much force as we can muster. And we can start by celebrating America's birthday as proudly and as obnoxiously as we can. Sing patriotic ditties at the top of your lungs. Launch fireworks. Feast on your favorite summer fare. And most importantly, tell the iconoclasts and terrorists in your midst to pound sand when they start whining. You are not a "white supremacist" because you're patriotic. You are, in fact, a normal, decent person.

ETA: Trump's Mount Rushmore Speech // Silent Cal's Speech on the Sesquicentennial

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Relevant Clips from Things I'm Watching This Week

All just causes must respect the rule of law. That is a central principle of our liberal order, and it must be upheld at all costs!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

What Is Love? (Reprint)

From 2015:

This post is going to be a hodgepodge. I'm trying to pull in some disparate threads I've picked up in the past week, so forgive me for thinking out loud.

First thread: I'm not only a secular teacher with special interests in STEM education and test preparation. I'm also a volunteer catechist at my local Catholic church, where I - hopefully successfully - instruct young teens and confirmandi in the fundamentals of our Faith. Last Sunday, the topic was Jesus Christ: who is He, and how can we develop a closer relationship with Him? The first segment in the curriculum encouraged the kids to share what they imagined when they thought of Jesus, and this is pretty much the response I received:

The stiff-necked contrarian in me was deeply unsatisfied. Certainly, Jesus is merciful, forgiving, and approachable for children and sinners alike. But I couldn't help thinking of that Facebook meme. You know -- the one that references Matthew 21:12?

And what about C.S. Lewis' descriptions of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia?
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
“He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
So I pulled out the Bible and tried to steer my charges in a slightly different direction. I reminded them that Jesus' forgiveness was always followed by a command to sin no more. I noted the ways in which Jesus called out the powers of his day -- and was ultimately put to death for it. And overall, I tried to paint a more virile picture of who Jesus was.

Driving home, though, I was still disturbed. Damn it: Our culture has domesticated Christ.

Second thread: Apparently, according to the scrupulously "correct," we can no longer call criminals what they are. The word "criminal," you see, "dehumanizes" people who've simply been "rendered desperate by the cruelties of capitalism."

That sound you just heard was my eyes rolling out of my skull and bouncing on the floor. I'll be typing this post by feel from now on.

But seriously: Why are we suddenly so concerned about the precious feelings of petty thieves and thugs -- and why are we so unconcerned about the feelings of their victims? I'm a Christian and do believe in the possibility of redemption even for the very worst malefactors, but as Sarah Hoyt has noted, crime victims are also human beings and also deserve our consideration:
Say, for instance, you feel sorry for a pedophile – not that any of them got involved in anything like that recently! – because after all the poor critter is confused, and didn’t choose to be this way. You let him/her go, or even encourage him/her with stuff like “it’s not your fault.”
What is going to happen? I can tell you. What is going to happen is that they’re going to hurt another or many kids.
Now the kids didn’t ask to be hurt, and they didn’t do anything to deserve it.
By encouraging/feeling sorry for one person, who can, after all, control him/herself or seek help in doing such, you were cruel to a vast number of innocents that didn’t do anything to bring this on them.
This reality should be self-evident to anyone -- particularly to people who've been preyed upon. So why this drive to discourage telling the damned truth?

Third thread: Go and read the following post, also by Sarah Hoyt:

Holding Women Back

Sarah wrote this in response to the silly claims zipping around fandom that we Sad Puppies are seeking to suppress women writers, but one passage in particular struck me as more generally applicable:
Making special prizes for good little girls because vagina and actually going so far as to argue that creations like games or books which are engaged in as ludic pursuits don’t need to be fun, but only relevant, and that you should enjoy them even if you don’t enjoy them because they’re created by women, does the reverse of what I (and a lot of others, I was not a paragon.  I’m using my experience because I lived it) did when I had the best grades and won contests DESPITE the inherent prejudice against me.  I and others like me proved women can be grown ups and can function in the adult world; these victimhood pony-riders are convincing people who by an large believe in female equality to reconsider and think that women are fragile, not so smart creatures who need easy steps and easier tests and accommodations to function.
Here, Sarah is approaching, asymptotically, what we who know a little something about education and human psychology have discovered: We are not designed to live in a friction-free universe. We require some adversity to become fully-actualized.

I'm not suggesting, of course, that we deliberately and needlessly hurt people to "toughen them up." I am suggesting, however, that I would be a failure as a teacher if I did not set the bar just a little bit higher than my students' grasp and then inspire them to jump. That's why I love Hajimete no Otsukai -- or this video, also from Japan:

High expectations beget excellence. Criticism begets improvement. What would happen to my students if I never deconstructed the weaknesses in their persuasive essays? What if I never pointed out their grammatical mistakes -- or told them their math was wrong? What if I never imposed discipline? I would inflict illiterate, innumerate brats upon the world.

This new regime of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and trophies for victimhood flies against our very nature, and it is already making lousy writers and lousy thinkers. As a writer, you must be able to accurately and sympathetically depict a full range of human personalities -- but you will not learn how to do so if you spend your entire lives avoiding people who think differently. As a supposed activist for "justice," you must understand, deeply, the potential obstacles that stand in your way, and you must know how to respond to the people who might oppose you -- skills you will not learn if your college campus is cleansed of all that is potentially disturbing to your beliefs. I know I'm a better debater because my father consistently served as my devil's advocate. Why are millennial SJW's and their older enablers so eager to deny their compatriots the same intellectual experience? A critique is not an assault. Challenge is not violence. When you assert the opposite, you foster mediocrity. You make the objects of your supposed "compassion" look somehow inferior.

Now let's try to create the tapestry: The common theme that breathes through all of this, I think, is our society's disordered definition of love. As a catechist, I repeatedly emphasize that love is wanting what is best for another person and seeking, self-sacrificially, to accomplish it. Our popular culture, however, has tamed this concept the same way it has tamed the radical, masculine Christ. Love, alas, is now simply niceness. If you love someone, says the zeitgeist, you must never cause him or her to feel shame, sorrow, frustration, or even cognitive dissonance. To elevate a man, you must wrap him in swaddling wool.

Said zeitgeist is wrong - morally and scientifically - and it should be challenged at every opportunity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Link Dump!

UC Berkeley History Professor's Open Letter Against BLM

Read the epic smack-down that took the internet by storm! Many, many excellent points are made here that deserve to be discussed.

Ban All Culture!

If you want some excellent sarcasm, you can always trust a Brit to deliver. This bit of commentary covers the row over J.K. Rowling, Faulty Towers, etc. (FYI, I'm loving that J.K. Rowling has decided she has just enough eff-off money to tell the social justice bullies to pound sand. My hero!)

We Must Stop the Great Unraveling

"There is one way to stop the unraveling: Refuse the mob. We have seen again and again that the mob comes only for those who hope to please it. And when it does, no amount of apology will save you. We stand against the mob and all its aims. We stand against the chaos and violence, the silencing of debate, the purging of heretics, the rewriting of history, and the destruction of the greatest country in the world. We will defend the most majestic achievement of humankind, the United States of America, against the most ignoble impulse in human history, to tear down that which is good."

This pretty much speaks for itself, no?

J.D. Vance: Corporate America Dividing The Country, Preventing People From Unifying

"You know, if I was a member of a political movement that stood up for working people and found myself every single time on the side of Amazon, on the side of Apple, on the side of Google, I might ask myself, if I've actually chosen the right allies, and what it says about me, but unfortunately, too many folks on the left just aren't doing that."

Yep. I think Vance hits the nail on the head here. Woke-ism is a bourgeois movement, not a movement that actually gives a damn about disadvantaged people.

Iconoclasm as a Prelude to Woke Horrors?

This is from James Lindsay's website, so it's obviously going to be an essential read.

Les Miserables

Another good discussion of today's cultural revolutionaries/woke cultists.

And before I go, just a quick Twitter thread regarding the attack on sacred art: