Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Everybody Take A Deep Breath

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America’s new president-elect is bad, but he is hardly evil on a world-historical scale. Unfortunately, the hysterical media reaction to Donald Trump’s election victory leaves no room for nuance or restraint

In these fractious times, it is very difficult for those of us who fall into the “really didn’t want Donald Trump to win, but don’t consider his victory to be quite the end of civilisation” crowd to say anything, for fear of reprisal – not from Donald Trump supporters, but from certain anti-Trump activists who have taken to using a person’s level of anger at the election result as an indicator of their personal moral code or worth.

Since Trump’s unexpected victory, the strong message being transmitted by much of the left-wing post-election commentary has been that if you aren’t rending your garments, taking to the streets with burning torches, retreating to a safe space or dissolving into tears every five minutes then you must be a closeted Donald Trump supporter.

Look: I really really did not want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. This blog has been pretty clear about my estimation of Donald Trump and the low regard in which I hold the president-elect. But not every charge flung at Donald Trump by left-wing partisans deserves to stick, because some of them are major overreaches prompted by partisan fervour rather than objective accuracy. And it should be possible to point out where criticism of Donald Trump goes too far, or is flat-out wrong, without being accused of supporting the man himself.

It does nobody any good if this election causes America to fracture into three distinct factions: unapologetic pro-Trump supporters, furious anti-Trump activists and a group of pragmatists who want to make the best of a difficult situation but who have been cowed into sullen silence for failing to pick a side and express either blanket admiration or total hatred for Donald Trump. If the country is to knit back together, it is this final group which must act as the cords which bind the nation’s wounds and bridge mutual suspicion. Assailing people for neither hero-worshipping Trump nor treating him like Hitler really is not the smartest thing to do in terms of improving the toxic atmosphere in American politics.

I’m told that I cannot possibly understand what it is like to be black, disabled, Mexican, female, gay or transgender in Trump’s America. Well, okay. But I did grow up mixed race in 1990s Britain, when not everybody was super friendly toward people who are not white. Sure, I never had to fear being gunned down in the street by a policeman for walking or driving suspiciously, but as a child I have been shoved and called all the worst racial epithets one can think of. I didn’t let it scar me for life and as I’ve grown older I can probably count the total number of verbally or physically hostile interactions over the past decade on two hands, but I certainly don’t have the dreaded “white privilege”. Yet while I certainly do not look forward to Donald Trump’s presidency, I do not fear it in a physical sense.

Donald Trump is objectionable for all of the reasons that the mainstream media has (belatedly) gotten around to pointing out. He is vulgar and thin-skinned, and in a confrontational situation he will use any defining characteristic to taunt or belittle an opponent. If you are fat, Trump will harp on about how massive you are. If you are not conventionally attractive, Trump will be sure to point that fact out to everyone. And most distastefully, he will apparently do the same if you are disabled. Donald Trump is not a nice person.

But there is vast gulf between being personally repellent and representing an active physical danger to the very same people that Trump insults on Twitter, in television interviews or on stage at his rallies. And we need to recognise that fact. It should be possible to abhor Donald Trump’s mockery of a disabled journalist without making the leap of imagination that a Trump presidency will somehow lead to the state-sanctioned persecution of disabled people. It should be possible to oppose Donald Trump’s most ignorant or insulting rhetoric about racial minorities without imagining World War 2 era Japanese internment camps for black people and lawful, legal immigrants.

The point is this: if we go nuclear in every single criticism of Donald Trump, we have nowhere left to go when somebody with truly severely racist or homophobic views comes along. It is important to leave some slack in our language so that we have room left to describe true evil when it crosses our path. If we wear out our strongest warnings and our most alarmist rhetoric on somebody who has a foul mouth but no evident plans to single out American citizens for persecution, what do we do if one day there is a presidential candidate who actively refuses to associate with black, Hispanic, gay or trans people and who runs on an unabashedly Jim Crow platform?

(Furthermore, I feel compelled to note that right now it is the Social Justice, Identity Politics Left which is clamouring to bring back racial and gender segregation, and not the conventional or alt-right).

Even as I write this, I can feel some people becoming outraged and accusing me of being a Trump apologist. But Trump is terrible! Yes, he is really bad. But the momentary catharsis of accusing Donald Trump of every prejudice and evil under the sun, whether each one is deserved or not, is really not worth the additional damage which going nuclear is doing to our political discourse. At some point it might be nice to persuade some of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 to vote for somebody else in 2020. It will be much easier to engage them in dialogue if we have not first accused them of being latter-day Nazi collaborators.

If it sounds like I am rather treading on eggshells in this piece, it is because I am. Trump’s election victory has divided America, divided the world, divided families. And maybe two weeks after the election is too soon to expect the blood to have cooled and objectivity to reign. So while I struggle to put into words what I am trying to say, I encourage everybody to read this piece by Scott Alexander of the SlateStarCodex blog, who offers some excellent perspective and advice.

(Hat tip to Brendan O’Neill for bringing the piece to my attention on Facebook).

It’s a long piece of analysis, but I will quote the conclusion, which should be required reading for everyone in America (and anyone else moved to write about American politics):

Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.

Stop crying wolf. God forbid, one day we might have somebody who doesn’t give speeches about how diversity makes this country great and how he wants to fight for minorities, who doesn’t pose holding a rainbow flag and state that he proudly supports transgender people, who doesn’t outperform his party among minority voters, who wasn’t the leader of the Salute to Israel Parade, and who doesn’t offer minorities major cabinet positions. And we won’t be able to call that guy an “openly white supremacist Nazi homophobe”, because we already wasted all those terms this year.

Stop talking about dog whistles. The kabbalistic similarities between “dog-whistling” and “wolf-crying” are too obvious to ignore.

Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?

[..] Stop turning everything into identity politics. The only thing the media has been able to do for the last five years is shout “IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS!” at everything, and then when the right wing finally says “Um, i…den-tity….poli-tics?” you freak out and figure that the only way they could have possibly learned that phrase is from the KKK.

Stop calling Trump voters racist. A metaphor: we have freedom of speech not because all speech is good, but because the temptation to ban speech is so great that, unless given a blanket prohibition, it would slide into universal censorship of any unpopular opinion. Likewise, I would recommend you stop calling Trump voters racist – not because none of them are, but because as soon as you give yourself that opportunity, it’s a slippery slope down to “anyone who disagrees with me on anything does so entirely out of raw seething hatred, and my entire outgroup is secret members of the KKK and so I am justified in considering them worthless human trash”. I’m not saying you’re teetering on the edge of that slope. I’m saying you’re way at the bottom, covered by dozens of feet of fallen rocks and snow. Also, I hear that accusing people of racism constantly for no reason is the best way to get them to vote for your candidate next time around. Assuming there is a next time.

My emphasis in bold. Scott Alexander concludes with this plea:

Stop centering criticism of Donald Trump around this sort of stuff, and switch to literally anything else. Here is an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, whose philosophy of governance basically boils down to “I’m going to win and not lose, details to be filled in later”, and all you can do is repeat, again and again, how he seems popular among weird Internet teenagers who post frog memes.

In the middle of an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host getting his hand on the nuclear button, your chief complaint is that in the middle of a few dozen denunciations of the KKK, he once delayed denouncing the KKK for an entire 24 hours before going back to denouncing it again. When a guy who says outright that he won’t respect elections unless he wins them does, somehow, win an election, the headlines are how he once said he didn’t like globalists which means he must be anti-Semitic.

Stop making people suicidal. Stop telling people they’re going to be killed. Stop terrifying children. Stop giving racism free advertising. Stop trying to convince Americans that all the other Americans hate them. Stop. Stop. Stop.

I have no desire to denigrate the fear and pain of anybody who is in genuine fear following Trump’s election victory. I do not take perverse joy from laughing at the terror and misery of other people. But it is my contention that much of this fear has been manufactured by various people and for various reasons – some vaguely noble, others much less so.

Frequently we hear the refrain that various identity groups “no longer feel welcome in America”. Would that include gay people, whom President Barack Obama did not consider worthy of the institution of marriage until changing public opinion (and a big helping hand from Joe Biden) caused him to shift position? Would that include illegal immigrants, whom Hillary Clinton voted to thwart with a border fence and Barack Obama deported in record numbers? Would that include black people, whom the sainted Hillary Clinton once described as “super-predators“?

Once the excitement of the election has properly died down we urgently need to separate the things which are actually concerning about Donald Trump from the frivolous dangers which exist mostly in people’s minds.

Much is (belatedly) being written about how the media failed to do a good job covering Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy in the early months. Quite right too – they chased ratings, broadcast voyeuristically lingering live coverage of his meandering speeches for entertainment rather than educational value and failed to ask tough questions or do proper investigative journalism until way too late in the process.

But the media is failing now in a different way, having overcompensated for past sins by now reporting any hysterical fear about Donald Trump, no matter how absurd or far-fetched, as though it is inherently legitimate and worthy of consideration. Take this hypersensitivity to Donald Trump’s boorish rhetoric coupled with an infantilised population who sometimes seem to prefer to act like helpless babes rather than autonomous and resilient adults, and the result is not pretty. In fact, it is downright ugly.

I am very aware that this blog post is not up to the usual standard – it probably does not “flow” as it should, and is much more a stream of consciousness than anything else. But the bottom line is this: there will be enough work to do scrutinising the Trump administration and keeping its worst excesses at bay for the next few years without also turning on each other, fellow people who opposed Trump’s candidacy.

This post will likely see me damned by those who are fully on board the Trump train as well as those implacably opposed to Donald Trump (as I was) and determined to see only evil in everything that occurs until he departs the scene. So be it. I find it very strange to be in the position of the “moderate middle” for once – somewhere I never find myself when it comes to British politics – but there we are.

I knew there was a reason why I named this blog Semi-Partisan Politics.

 

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Identity Politics Gave Us President Trump; More Identity Politics Will Not Make Things Better

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Identity politics cultists created Donald Trump, President-Elect Edition, and from much of their subsequent complaining they haven’t learned a single thing from their mistake

Blogger and polemicist Phil Hendren is in unsparing mood as he takes the identity politics Left to task for their role in provoking the alleged “whitelash” which confounded the opinion polls and made Donald Trump president-elect of the United States last Tuesday.

Hendren’s critique is worth quoting at length, as he writes:

Of course, the political earthquakes have been followed in each case with a sentimental reaction that is both odd and downright scarier than the actual earthquake. This has been coupled with a lack of self-awareness by the losing side.

Be it Brexit or Trump we’ve seen knee-jerk reactions that ponder upon whether democracy is such a great idea after all. Amazingly we have idiots screaming about fascism whilst simultaneously suggesting that something be done about the pesky plebs that voted one way or the other.

They moan about bigotry whilst suggesting that the franchise be removed from certain people who are not suitably intelligent or are too old to be trusted with a vote - call me old-fashioned but that is bigotry right there.

You listen to analysts who say they are “just reporting the data” that tell you Trump scored well with “white males without a college degree”. Has there ever been a more obvious coded dog whistle for “stupid white trash”?

The same thing happened in Britain after the Brexit vote. People started arguing that it was those with less education that voted Leave, the implication being that the stupid unenlightened were to blame.

It astounds me that, as the hand-wringing goes on, there persists, even in defeat, a complete and total contempt for some part of the electorate by the chattering class and the elite.

Don’t they get it? Do they really not see that it is precisely that attitude toward the great unwashed that has caused them to lose? Don’t they also realise that they’re witnessing the ultimate end game of their own orthodoxies?

For the past 20 years, the dominant orthodoxy in the West has revolved around the politics of Identity. We’ve been constantly reminded that humanity should be pigeonholed into groups based on race, gender, sexuality or the Other.

The elephant in the room of this orthodoxy has been the marginalisation of the considered dominant social identity, be it so-called ‘cis-gender’ (essentially a pejorative for someone who’s gender identity is in line with their biology) ; heterosexuals; or good old whitey - aka ‘the oppressor’.

Is it any wonder that these groups have reacted by taking on the clothes of Identity Politics themselves? Anyone that claims to be shocked or disgusted by this development is, to put it as bluntly as I can, a fucking idiot.

If you constantly dehumanise people by making them the sum of arbitrary labels, and then you push the view that each of these groups is structurally disadvantaged by the oppressor then you inevitably structurally disadvantage the oppressor who begins to feel, rightly or wrongly, oppressed.

It isn’t fucking rocket science.

The vote for Brexit and the vote for Trump do not represent some sort of uprising of white supremacy, or the normalisation of misogyny and racism. They represent the inevitable consequence of this misanthropic orthodoxy that has infected the chattering class, the Academy and the elites.

Did I vote for Brexit? No, I was a reluctant (and regretful) Remainer. Would I have voted for Trump? Hell no. He’s an illiberal social authoritarian that supports ridiculous left wing protectionism, but I get why people did.

Until the elite and chattering “enlightened” class begin to realise that they’ve created this. That they are to blame for it, these political earthquakes will keep on coming.

My emphasis in bold.

As an anti-Trump conservative watching the reaction to Trump’s election with amazement and concern, I am absolutely stunned by the lack of introspection and self-awareness displayed by much of the Left.

As this blog has already noted, Donald Trump supporters propelled their man to the White House largely by following the proven playbook of the leftist Social Justice Warriors, and they were able to do so because of the pervasive victimhood culture which has been nurtured and aggravated in America by a succession of cynical politicians and activists.

As Hendren rightly notes, if you atomise society into “separate but equal” identity groups based on race, gender or sexuality, you inevitably spark an arms race of perceived oppression and claims of vulnerability which far exceed the actual real oppression which may still exist. Grievance group is pitched against grievance group in the battle of public sympathy, with only one constant – that “cisgender” white men are always portrayed at the top of the Hierarchy of Oppression, always cast as the villains – whether they live in a New York condominium with gold-plated elevators or an Appalachian trailer park on the outskirts of a town being ravaged by crystal meth and heroin addiction.

I’ve warned about this before, in the context of the oppressive climate faced by young conservatives on college campuses, pointing out that it will not be long before those with conservative views tire of being bullied, censored and portrayed as “hateful” by the social justice mob which the tacit consent of spineless university administrators, and begin to use the same language of vulnerability and victimhood to elicit public sympathy for their own plight. Conservatives see other “identity groups” taking this approach and winning their battles to silence criticism and elevate themselves to a privileged, untouchable position on campus, and already we signs of some harried conservatives adopting the same approach.

So it is outside the university campus too, in wider society. Many millions of decent, non-racist and non-sexist people, often (but not exclusively) white, have been told increasingly stridently that questioning open borders or very recent new norms around gender identity and sexuality is tantamount to “hate” – that they are, in fact, bigots. Leftist identity politics cultists have increasingly deployed the nuclear option accusations of racism, sexism and homophobia against anybody who displays the slightest hesitation in embracing their worldview, leaving no way to distinguish and flag genuinely racist, sexist or homophobic opinions or actions when they occur.

And now we face the worst-case scenario, a white working class which sees other minority groups claiming vulnerability and oppression to demand sympathy and claim perks, and which has decided to think of itself as an oppressed minority group too. A very large, very powerful minority group, as it turns out.

We even get an eerily prescient prophecy that this will come to pass in a 2008 essay by Mark Schmitt in Prospect Magazine, written six months prior to the election of Barack Obama in his battle against John McCain.

Schmitt suggests:

That leaves Republicans with a single alternative, one that’s embodied in the slogan of McCain’s first general-election advertisement: “The American President Americans Are Waiting For.” It’s the politics of identity–not necessarily racial or ethnic identity but identity as an American. The blog FiveThirtyEight.com, which has been gathering all sorts of data relevant to the Electoral College vote, recently noted a fascinating demographic fact: About 7 percent of people refuse to answer the Census questions about ethnic origin and instead write in “American.” Those defiant Americans are overwhelmingly found in the states and counties that turned away from the Democratic Party in 2000 and 2004–the Appalachian belt running from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, and southern Ohio–which are also the counties where Barack Obama has done worst in the primaries.

David Frum calls explicitly for this brand of identity politics, declaring that while the Republican Party’s issue positions have evolved over the years, “there is one thing that has never changed: Republicans have always been the party of American democratic nationhood,” whereas Democrats “attract those who felt themselves in some way marginal to the American experience: … intellectuals, Catholics, Jews, blacks, feminists, gays–people who identify with the ‘pluribus’ in the nation’s motto, ‘e pluribus unum.'” In case it’s not clear, in Frum’s Latin, “pluribus” means “parasites,” and he tells us helpfully, “As the nation weakens, Democrats grow stronger.”

In Frum’s book, this ugly bit of identity politics is carefully nestled within thousands of words about policy. And this is how the code is supposed to work. The GOP’s attack on “liberals” was always an attack on people not quite like “Americans”–secular, cosmopolitan, educated, egalitarian.

[..]

Traditionally, the phrase “identity politics” has referred to the Democratic coalition’s caucuses, interest groups, and competitive claims of wrongs to be righted and rights to be granted. Identity politics on the left, according to this very conventional wisdom, opened the door to an alternative politics of national identity on the right. And yet in 2008, the Democratic presidential nomination battle between an African American and a woman has not exacerbated left identity politics but brought it to a peaceful close. Obama is not Jesse Jackson; Hillary Clinton is not former Rep. Pat Schroeder. He chose to campaign on national reconciliation, she on bread-and-butter economics and her expertise on military affairs. Whereas McCain–a man whose known positions on the war and on the economy are deeply unpopular, whose other positions are endlessly shifting, whose party and ideology are rejected–is recast entirely in terms of his biography, his honor, his character, his American-ness.

This year the Republican argument is reduced to its barest essence: Americans versus “pluribus,” unprotected by the politeness of issues or safer symbolism. Hence McCain’s slogan, the politics of the flag pin, the e-mails charging that Obama doesn’t salute the flag, and the attempt to associate him with the anti-American politics of 1968, when he was 7 years old. This, then, may be the ultimate high-stakes gamble for the party of confident risk-takers: Accept that everything else–ideas, competence, governance–is gone, and instead of trying to reconstruct it, as the books recommend, bet everything on the bare essentials of Republican identity politics, “The American President Americans Are Waiting For.”

“The American President Americans Are Waiting For”. “Make America Great Again”. Schmitt wasn’t too far off in his prediction of the winning message, albeit eight years later than originally planned.

Read the whole article if you have time – the foreshadowing is quite spooky.

This is in significant part why Donald Trump will be taking the presidential oath of office on 20th January 2017 – because the American Left succeeded in shattering American society into a fractured group of warring special interests and victim groups, claiming nearly all of them for its own side but leaving the largest – the white working class – to the Trump-led Republicans.

And still they don’t see it. Still they rail against the ignorant, inbred hicks with their backward, racist ways. Still they treat the plurality of Americans who voted for Donald Trump as stupid, unwitting enablers of fascism (at best) or actively hateful “deplorables” at worst, unaware that every further such comment only serves to prove to the white working class that they are indeed under attack, and that they were right to band together and vote based partly (even largely) on the solidarity of identity.

At some point, somebody fairly prominent on the American Left is going to have to wake up, reach this conclusion and then have the courage to stick their head above the parapet and urge their fellow travellers to stop their destructive course of action. With their hysterical anti-Trump rhetoric, the American Left not only obscure Donald Trump’s many real and tangible flaws, they actively feed the monster which they fear the most.

Now that the populist Right are catching up with the new rules of the game, playing the identity politics card is turning into something approaching Mutual Assured Destruction. Sure, you can do it, but pandering to the politics of identity is now all but guaranteed to provoke an equal and opposite reaction from those being singled out as oppressors. And whoever wins on any given day, the country is left more divided, more bitter and less able to knit back together with goodwill when it comes time to govern.

The American Left needs to step back from this madness. Now.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 44 – The Suffix “-phobic” Is Now Considered Oppressive Against People With Phobias

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The social justice movement, long ridiculous, has now disappeared so far up its own backside that it is quite simply beyond parody. These warped, self-righteous posers will weaponise anything and infantilise anyone to burnish their own right-on credentials

When faced with the latest example of SJW posturing and weaponised victimhood, one wonders just how much further these baby-faced tyrants can possibly go in policing our language and behaviour to make us conform with their ever-shifting conception of what is good and what is deplorable.

But in truth, they will never be satisfied. In SJW-land, the power and social standing of a Social Justice Warrior activist is derived entirely from “points” that they accrue defending their new orthodoxy and persecuting heretics simply trying to exercise their free speech. A diligent SJW can pick up points for riding to battle against something “offensive” written by a perfect stranger on social media, but they accrue even more kudos within their cult by accusing a fellow member(s) of heresy. We may be the usual targets, but the SJW cultists themselves must always look over their shoulders for fear of attack by an overzealous rival. The social justice / identity politics revolution loves to devour its own.

This manifests itself in all kinds of ways – witness the case of student union official Fran Cowling, who declared in a blaze of self-publicity that she would not share a stage with Peter Tatchell because he dared to take the side of free speech over SJW “no platform” policies designed to shut dissenting viewpoints out of university campuses. Never mind that Tatchell has done more for minority rights in a typical weekend than Cowling will likely manage her entire wretched life – Cowling cynically attempted to position herself as a better and purer cultist, and so leapfrog the many levels separating her own unscrutinised place in history and Tatchell’s far more tangible contribution.

But what if one enterprising SJW found a way to imply that nearly every other social justice cultist in the world is being inadvertently oppressive all the time, while they alone were enlightened enough to recognise the error of their ways? That SJW would then be able to claim the mantle of Most Compassionate Person, and accrue incredible kudos within that ridiculous community.

Well, it turns out that one such SJW – Denarii Monroe, writing at Everyday Feminism, the motherlode of idiotic social justice, victimhood culture nonsense – is attempting that very feat.

Monroe writes:

For years, through to today, we have named these oppressions as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, or queerphobia. Other movements use phrases such as xenophobia, fatphobia, and Islamophobia.

It’s important to put a name to the systemic structures that marginalize us and have effects on our day-to-day living. This language is essential in the fight for liberation for all marginalized groups. I remember how empowering it was to have a name for the specific experiences and needs of the bi+ (plus) community.

Naming, well, just about anything in life – a spoon, a tree, a breed of dog – allows us to identify it. And in the case of oppression, being able to identify it allows us to tackle it head-on.

Unfortunately, in our quest to do so, we have chosen language that isn’t just problematic, but downright oppressive.

And I get it. Most of us were born into this language. Whether we belong to the communities who use this language or we’re just allies, it has informed much of our experiences – how we began to understand inequality, how we talk about the discrimination we experience, and how we relate to others with similar oppression.

But Islamophobia, transphobia, and other constructions that use “-phobia” as a suffix erase the fact that “phobias” are a real thing that happen to real people. Those of us who use these terms know all too well the damage that erasure can do in the fight to achieve liberation and social equity.

Regardless of good intentions, at the end of the day, it’s not okay to build our righteous movements on the backs of other marginalized people. Further, in choosing inaccurate, inadequate language, we harm ourselves as well.

Original emphasis in bold.

In other words, using the suffix “-phobia” when describing real or imagined acts of prejudice – as in Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia – is itself “oppressive” because apparently it appropriates the language used to describe recognised phobias like claustrophobia, thus somehow erasing or denying the lived experience of claustrophobes, agoraphobes and assorted other phobics.

So according to the new draconian standard set by the Social Justice Warriors, this anti-Donald Trump meme (expressing a sentiment which they would otherwise doubtless support) is itself ableist and oppressive to those who suffer from traditional phobias:

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A year ago, this might have been regarded as an entirely legitimate form of anti-Trump protest. But so far have things moved in the space of twelve months that the cutting edge SJWs of Everyday Feminism would now regard references to “homophobia” as an unconscionable assault on the daily suffering and lived experience of people with medically recognised phobias.

Yes. To speak about Islamophobia or transphobia is now ableist – that is, oppressive towards those with disabilities – because it supposedly makes light of the “disability” of having a phobia. Denarii Monroe has essentially declared that nearly every other Social Justice Warrior, by virtue of still using the suffix “-phobia” as part of their daily activism, are in fact part of the oppressive, neo-colonialist masses. They are all part of the problem. She alone is part of the solution.

This is the social justice equivalent of the launch of HMS Dreadnought back in 1906. With the launch of the steam turbine-powered warship Dreadnought, every other battleship in every navy around the world was instantly rendered obsolete, giving the Royal Navy an immense strategic advantage and setting off a new arms race. And now, in a dismal pastiche of history over a century later, Denarii Monroe is essentially declaring that the language of every other Social Justice Warrior – people who spend their whole day festering in this fetid swamp of identity politics and weaponised victimhood – was oppressive all along, unbeknownst to them.

But why should we go to the effort of completely overturning the language that nearly all of us – not only SJWs – use to talk about prejudice and discrimination?

Phobias aren’t really something you hear much about, except as an exploitative tabloid episode on shows hosted by the likes of Maury Povich and Jerry Springer.

Like all marginalized groups, disabled folks have little representation in the media and in real-life institutions. This is reflected in how we are portrayed, talked about, and treated. Mental disabilities – from schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder to bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – are particularly notorious for being misconstrued and inaccurately and harmfully portrayed, usually just for ratings (read: money).

[..] Phobias are virtually invisible in society outside of the aforementioned daytime talk show segments.  But the fact of the matter is that we are real.

We exist. We navigate this world, to the best of our abilities, every single day. We’re on disability. We work. We find love and sex, if we desire those things. We have dreams. We struggle.

And our lived experiences and truths deserve dignity and respect, not the further erasure and trivialization that phrases like “-phobia” actively perpetuate.

Good grief. Has any person suffering from a legitimate phobia ever been upset, outraged or “harmed” in any way by the fact that we also use the word for their condition to describe people who are prejudiced against certain groups? Of course not – just as if I were to say (as I believe) that the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is a cancer on our society, people currently suffering from cancer will not suddenly wince in pain when I hit “publish”. It would be clear to any reasonable person (thus excluding the SJWs) that the cancer I speak of is metaphorical, and entirely different from the actual disease, just as it is clear to legitimate phobia sufferers that nobody is seeking to diminish their suffering when we speak of “xenophobia” or “homophobia”.

And mark this:

The use of “-phobia” as a suffix erodes the dictionary meaning of the word, but more importantly, it is one tool that helps society forget that phobias are real phenomena that affect real people every day, some of whom, like myself and my friends, are queer and trans.

It is as though the author is laying each one of her oppressed identities before us, to add weight to her specious argument.

Queer? Check.

Trans? Check.

Phobic (and thus disabled)? Check.

This is how you win an argument in Social Justice world. Not by appealing to facts, reason or evidence but rather by pointing to your identity in terms of race, gender and sexuality, and trying to claim the highest possible position on the Hierarchy of Oppression. Denarii Monroe knows that few people will be able to outdo the triumvirate of queer, trans, and phobic. And because the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics dictates that those lower on the hierarchy must defer to those who can claim greater victimhood, Monroe has carte blanche to change the terms of discussion and literally remove words from the permitted vocabulary of other SJWs.

Monroe does, however, eventually cut to the chase:

That is to say, while fear is behind much of the oppression we face, it’s not the whole story. It’s not even the primary story. The language we use should reflect that.

When we say what we’re actually talking about, it paints a more accurate picture for our movements and our allies of our needs. It makes our goal clearer, which makes it that much easier to accomplish.

Further, “-phobia” as a suffix ultimately centers the oppressor instead of the oppressed. The language becomes about their fear instead of our struggle.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m quite tired of privileged people being the center of attention.

Ah, there it is. All of this overwrought discussion of language and oppression, when in actual fact this whole article is borne of Monroe’s jealousy that using “-phobia” as a suffix puts the emphasis on the supposedly prejudiced person when in fact it should really be on her. Monroe doesn’t want “privileged people” to be the centre of attention because she doesn’t actually want us to focus on prejudice or do anything meaningful to tackle it – rather, she wants to revel in her own victimhood and be sure that we all acknowledge it so that she remains the centre of attention.

This is a sick, warped way of looking at the world. But it is also absolutely required behaviour among Social Justice Warriors and identity politics cultists the world over, who are intent on turning daily life into one great big collective group therapy session, in which those at the top of the Hierarchy of Oppression are free to unload on those further down, blaming them for their troubles all day, every day.

Denarii Monroe didn’t get so upset that she wrote an article in Everyday Feminism because she has legitimate, heartfelt concerns that saying words like “Islamophobia” or “transphobia” actually causes mental distress to people with real phobias. She wrote the article in triumph because she found yet another way to claim that other people – people on her own side! – were inadvertently transgressing one of the key tenets of social justice. Which, even though everybody was using this language a year ago without issue or complaint, is now a tremendous issue. And as a totally (ahem) unrelated bonus, it also just so happens to give Monroe heightened status and more power over her peers.

To slightly amend something I recently wrote on the same subject:

If all of this seems ludicrous and a million miles away from doing anything which might conceivably affect or help actual black disabled people in America, you would be right. Because at its dark, festering core the Social Justice movement is not about delivering justice, equality or doing any other kind of social good. Social wrongs are merely the fuel which power the machine to perform its true purpose – controlling the language and the thinking of society in order to establish beady-eyed little zealots like Party Island Denarii Monroe as the indispensable clerisy who tell everyone else what to say and do.

Social Justice is, above everything else, about the acquisition and exercising of power. Victimhood is actively sought and eagerly weaponised by members of this Social Justice clerisy in their scramble for status amongst their peers and contemporaries. The legitimate problems and grievances of minority communities become irritating background noise, a distraction from what really matters – this finickity, juvenile, university campus parlour game in which casting oneself as the most vulnerable, oppressed but simultaneously tolerant person imaginable confers tremendous power, while the slightest slip (such as accidentally using the wrong word) can lead to immediate excommunication from the group.

Monroe concludes by lecturing us that we should immediately replace the “-phobic” suffix with the much more clunky “-antagonistic”, as in “trans-antagonistic” or presumably “Islamo-antagonistic”:

From the queer and trans communities to Muslims and fat people, that is literally our experience. Our existence and identities cause the majority culture to be hostile toward us and, as a result, we struggle against them – for our humanity, our dignity, and our liberation.

But we can never be free until we’re all free – and this includes folks with disabilities. So it’s imperative that we begin to deliberately abandon “-phobia” once and for all.

The mind boggles. I would write that the social justice movement cannot possibly lose the plot any more than it presently has, but we all know that in a week’s time I will be back with another piece about some even more outrageous claim to victimhood or demand for censorship. The world record for Most Stupid Thing Said By An SJW is now being broken almost daily.

And this is because at its dark, sulphuric heart, the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics is an arms race, in which cultists have to continually invent new vulnerabilities and injuries just to maintain their position in the social hierarchy.

SJWs have perhaps marked what is happening in Britain, where the National Union of Students decreed that university LGBT societies should no longer allow “white cis gay men” to have their own representation on diversity committees because they are not sufficiently discriminated against. Being a gay man is apparently no longer enough to command even the lowliest of positions in the Hierarchy of Oppression. So all of those SJWs only slightly higher up on the hierarchy are desperately casting around for additional traumas and vulnerabilities that they can plausibly exaggerate just to keep themselves in the game.

Social Justice is about power, plain and simple. And while its cultists may preach rainbows and unicorns and solidarity, in practice it is a brutal club to suddenly find oneself excluded from. This is why the arms race has now decreed that saying “-phobic” is oppressive, and it is why next week we will be back here, marvelling that something even more vacuous and self-indulgent has occurred.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 34 – Harvard University No Longer Prepares Students For The Real World

Harvard University - Holiday Placemat for Social Justice

Harvard University now makes it a point of pride to turn out fragile, unresilient graduates with little hope of functioning well in society

There was a time not long ago when universities used to take pride in turning out well-rounded graduates, young adults who were not only skilled in their chosen discipline but who could also hold their own in debate and ably relate to those from other walks of life or bearing different opinions.

But in 2016 it is increasingly evident that with their overwhelming focus on social justice – no longer a side issue but a common thread running through a contemporary student’s entire experience on campus and in the classroom – American universities in particular are actively harming the life prospects of their students by fostering such a therapeutic climate of social justice groupthink that the slightest intrusion of the rough real world is in some cases enough to provoke a real mental and emotional crisis.

Take this incredibly overwrought essay in the Harvard Political Review, which has apparently fallen so low that it now readily publishes weepy accounts from shellshocked students who happen to encounter hurtful words while on campus.

Student Aidan Connaughton writes:

I have heard hate speech in many situations in my life – so much so that I have become accustomed to it, even grown to expect it in some instances. Throughout middle and high school, I heard it so often that I knew the patterns, knew the lead-ins, and knew when I had to brace myself for the sting. Today, however, I did not brace myself.

“Faggot.” “Stop being a faggot.” “What is he? Some kind of faggot?” These all-too-familiar words continue to echo in my head. These are the words I have shielded myself against for years, the words I have learned to block out, coming from the people I have learned to avoid. These are the words that people use when committing hate crimes, and the words that were used for decades to oppress people just because they loved differently.

I never expected these words at lunch in Annenberg from a group of Harvard freshmen.

My guard was down, because I had forgotten what it felt like to hear these words. I know better now. I will not repeat that mistake.

Okay, so from this we can deduce that Aidan Connaughton is gay, and that he heard other students use the word “faggot” in what he felt was a derogatory way. Fair enough. As Connaughton makes clear, he has had this word directed at him from tormentors many times in his childhood, and quite understandably finds it upsetting.

But what follows is a damning indictment of how Harvard University, in a presumably well-intentioned effort to shelter people like Aidan Connaughton from ever encountering the rough and unpleasant views of the outside word so long as they are on campus, is actually retarding the ability of its students to withstand the unfair bumps and scrapes of real life. No gay person deserves to be called a faggot. But neither do young gay students deserve to be stripped of the ability to function and thrive in an imperfect world where hate and prejudice still exist.

Connaughton continues (my emphasis in bold):

Fair Harvard, the bastion of liberal values, a progressive environment where activists stand up against hate and students fight for progress in the belief that they can change the world. It is the place where workers and students unite to fight for health care, where students write plays about Black Lives Matter, where they organize rallies and marches to support survivors of sexual assault. It is the place where mental health is important and QSA is an established organization and where social justice is an integral pillar of student life. The students at Harvard have taught me how to embrace progressive movements and how to fight against administrative oppression. They have supported me, so much so that sometimes I can forget that the world outside of Johnston Gate does not care about social justice in the same homogeneous way as Harvard students. We fight against the Harvard administration to eradicate the structural oppression that continues at our school, and students may clash with each other over whether or not a classroom should be a safe space, but these disagreements seem to be more intellectual than hostile.

In other words, Harvard University is creating a very artificial environment in which their young adult students are expected to mature and grow into robust, well rounded people. By Connaughton’s own admission, the political climate on campus is so sterile and homogeneous that he is able to go for long stretches of time without encountering a contrary opinion, let alone an actively hostile one. This is a young man who has been consciously made fragile by the application of an ideology which preaches that words can cause real harm, and whose “immune system” to hearing non-affirming things has steadily atrophied in an environment where it has scarcely been needed.

And this is the result:

My little group of like-minded friends and I have frequent discussions on activism, politics, and campus issues, yet we usually come to a consensus on whatever issue we debate. I had grown so used to being understood and having my friends agree with me. I was no longer afraid to believe in social justice, the way I had been in my conservative hometown during high school. I had grown accustomed to a student body that was well informed and shared my beliefs. I thought that, at the very least, Harvard students are respectful and above making purposefully insensitive comments.

This is a young man whose idea of a debate is talking with his existing friendship circle, all of whom hold the same beliefs as him, and then (astonishingly) reaching a consensus. The only wonder is that they only “usually” come to a consensus, considering the homogenised intellectual atmosphere.

Worse still – for our democracy, at least – is Connaughton’s notion that this uniformity of thought exists because all of his fellow students are “well informed and shared [his] beliefs”. The obvious corollary to this is that anybody who does not share the worldview of Connaughton and his friends must be ignorant and wrong. There is no room in this worldview for the possibility that those who do not concur with each and every article of the Social Justice Catechism might do so from a position of honest, principled disagreement, and as the honest result of holding a different value system.

The article then builds up to the incident itself, in dramatic fashion:

But today, at table A11, as I sat down with my plate of red spiced chicken breast and broccoli, I overheard that word for the first time since leaving Colorado Springs to come to Cambridge. Two tables away, Dean Khurana was sharing a meal in Annenberg with a group of excited, overeager freshmen. But here were three Harvard students using this hate speech, laughing in their matching Harvard Men’s Lacrosse jackets, unaware that just three seats away, I was listening.

I said nothing to them. I was too shocked to think of anything to say. I held it in, reverted back to middle school, because I didn’t want to believe that I was hearing this word from one of my peers yet again – that I hadn’t left that behind.

So the word “fag” was not even addressed to Connaughton directly. While it was still undoubtedly unpleasant to hear, the suspense which builds throughout the piece makes it seem as though he was the victim of a direct homophobic diatribe, directed at him while he tried to enjoy his red spiced chicken breast (which hopefully, despite its name, was not a culturally appropriative dish). But this is not the case. Connaughton’s trauma – and this entire article – were prompted merely by overhearing the word being used in a conversation between other people.

If alarm bells are not already sounding at the evident mental fragility of this student, what follows is most concerning of all:

I thought that, at least at Harvard, we had won that battle. The culture of Harvard makes us believe that the world shares our views, and that what we believe in is right. Puncturing the bubble of liberalism at Harvard is painful, but it is as easy as hearing a single derogatory word from across the table.

This is almost childlike in its plaintive naivety. But one thing is crystal clear: the culture of Harvard University, now so fawningly tailored to the loud demands of the social justice warriors, is actively harming those who study there. For not only does pandering to the Cult of Identity Politics create a stultifying groupthink atmosphere on campus, it also encourages the utterly unrealistic belief that the rest of the world will be just as careful not to cause offence or tiptoe around any delicate sensibilities.

The most depressing thing in this case is that the student, Aidan Connaughton, is very aware that he is living in a bubble. He calls it a bubble of liberalism, which is obviously incorrect – for there is nothing liberal about maintaining an oppressive atmosphere where controversial or hurtful things can never be said. But the tragedy is that while he is aware that he is living in a bubble, he has no desire to escape and deal with the world as it really is. Living in the bubble has robbed him of the mental armour required to deal with the bumps and scrapes of life, and so rather than puncture the campus bubble and be free he seeks in vain to expand the bubble to encompass his whole world.

I don’t know how it can possibly be made clearer: social justice, identity politics and the idea of the university as a safe space are working together to gravely retard the emotional and intellectual development of today’s students – even Harvard students, who may be among the brightest minds of their generation, but many of whom will graduate incredibly ill prepared to function in the real world.

Harvard has failed Aidan Connaughton. But the failure was not that university administrators allowed a solitary hurtful phrase to be uttered within his earshot; the failure was that in their desperation to appease the demands of the social justice and identity politics movement, the university stripped away any and all of the means by which Connaughton might possibly have developed the intellectual robustness and emotional anti-fragility to deal with what could potentially be an everyday occurrence in the cold, harsh outside world.

 

Postscript: No wonder Harvard is in such a mess. This is now the declared mission of Harvard College (my emphasis in bold):

The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. We do this through our commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education.

Beginning in the classroom with exposure to new ideas, new ways of understanding, and new ways of knowing, students embark on a journey of intellectual transformation.  Through a diverse living environment, where students live with people who are studying different topics, who come from different walks of life and have evolving identities, intellectual transformation is deepened and conditions for social transformation are created.  From this we hope that students will begin to fashion their lives by gaining a sense of what they want to do with their gifts and talents, assessing their values and interests, and learning how they can best serve the world.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

 

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The Soft Bigotry Of The Left: UKIP Banned From London Gay Pride March

Pride In London - UKIP banned - Gay Pride March - 40 Year Pride Anniversary

 

When is it right and proper to ban a group of people from participating in what has traditionally been an inclusionary and proudly non-partisan public event?

The answer, according to the organisers of the Pride in London gay pride parade, is when those innocent people just happen to be affiliated to UKIP, the pariah party among Britain’s political class.

There had been rumblings that this might happen for a few days now. When it was discovered that an LGBT delegation from UKIP planned to join the march, thousands of virtue-signalling left-wing keyboard warriors took to the internet in self-righteous fury, signing a petition to have LGBT UKIP members and other sympathetic Ukippers purged from the event.

The online petition (change.org petitions now being the preferred medium for the new middle class clerisy to purge opposing thought from the public sphere) raged:

Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, clearly does not support the values of acceptance that Pride promotes, and UKIP is an inherently homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic political party.

UKIP’s inclusion in Pride has already caused public outcry and many have stated they would feel unhappy and unsafe to have a UKIP group included in Pride 2015’s march, being that they are from an organisation that inherently does not support the values of acceptance and inclusion that Pride promotes.

To their partial credit, the organisers did not back down immediately. But now it seems that the anti-UKIP heat became too much for the Pride in London organisers to withstand. So great is the level of hostility and opprobrium showered on Ukippers – as well as on those others perceived to be going too easy on Nigel Farage’s party – that the banning of UKIP from the parade was sadly inevitable.

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