Tales From The Safe Space, Part 55 – Lena Dunham And Toxic Left Wing Call-Out Culture

Lena Dunham - social justice call out culture

The Regressive Left applauds when an overwhelmingly privileged “woke” celebrity shames and reports two off-duty service employees after taking offence at their private conversation

Lena Dunham, creator and star of the execrable television series Girls – and now seemingly a full-time social justice warrior – has form when it comes to policing both the internet and the real world for any instances of conservative thoughtcrime or failure to subscribe to the new progressive orthodoxy on various social justice issues.

To summarise: Lena Dunham was walking through the arrivals hall at JFK airport in New York when she allegedly overheard two off-duty American Airlines flight attendants having a private conversation about their views on the issue of transgenderism. During the course of this conversation, the flight attendants apparently agreed with one another that transgenderism is “gross” and that they would “never accept a trans child”.

(Note: Lena Dunham also has form when it comes to telling outright falsehoods, making her account of this supposed conversation immediately questionable).

And so naturally Lena Dunham did what any self-respecting, censorious young social justice warrior with a huge social media presence is honour-bound to do – she tweeted her shock at having heard opinions expressed which contradicted her own, shamed the unknown flight attendants and demanded that American Airlines re-educate their employees to ensure that such spontaneous acts of independent thought never again occur during the course of a private conversation between off-duty employees.

Specifically, Dunham wrote in a direct message to the airline:

“I heard two female attendants walking talking about how trans kids are a trend they’d never accept a trans child and transness is gross. I think it reflects badly on uniformed employees of your company to have that kind of dialogue going on. What if a trans teen was walking behind them? Awareness starts at home but jobs can set standards of practice. Thanks for your consideration!”

First off, this is as blatant an invasion of privacy as one can imagine. While a reasonable person might expect the possibility of being overheard while having a conversation in a public place, there is no reasonable expectation that a sanctimonious “woke” celebrity would rebroadcast their conversation – which again, took place while off duty if it even happened at all – to millions of followers on social media, contact their employer to trigger an investigation and quite possibly precipitate disciplinary action including the loss of their jobs.

Assuming that Lena Dunham isn’t simply lying again, there are multiple ways that she could have handled the situation better, rather than resorting to social media shaming combined with self-aggrandisement and virtue-signalling. The simplest option would have been for Dunham herself to intervene directly and voice her disagreement with the two flight attendants. This was a public place with very little risk of a physical altercation or any of the other reasons which might discourage direct action, so there was no good reason for Dunham not to take up the issue directly with the people allegedly involved, if she was sufficiently offended.

If Dunham lacked the courage to tackle this alleged intolerance in person (which would be a bit rich given that she co-founded Lenny, a website and newsletter almost exclusively dedicated to stridently advancing social justice issues), she could also have taken the matter up with American Airlines management staff while still at JFK airport rather than airily tweeting her allegations from the comfort of home, hours later. And if she was time-pressed and unable to do so, she could still have raised the matter privately with AA and written a more considered take on the situation once the investigation had run its course rather than tweeting about it in real time.

But of course none of these options would have been remotely satisfactory for Lena Dunham, because (more than) half the point of being a social justice warrior is the thrill of wielding power over others by policing language and behaviour, and enforcing your own worldview and etiquette onto other people. Directly confronting the people with whom she had a conflict or raising the issue privately would not have given Dunham the opportunity to flaunt her right-on credentials or display her conspicuous compassion; far better to raise the issue on social media, ostensibly so that it might serve as a “teachable moment” for other corporations and service workers (but really just to maintain her SJW credentials).

Robert Tracinski of The Federalist gets to the heart of the matter:

Saying “I overheard a conversation” but giving no specifics might prompt American Airlines to send out a general notice to its employees to watch what they say while in the terminal—which is a little unsettling in itself. But giving specific information only has one purpose: to help the airline locate, identify, and punish these specific employees for holding politically incorrect views.

It’s the hashtag #acrossfromthewinebar that sent chills down my spine. Dunham is acting like an informant working for a totalitarian police state—but boastfully, in public, on social media. With a hashtag.

Undoubtedly, someone will point out that this isn’t really totalitarianism because these are all voluntary actions by private citizens and organizations, not the government. Dunham isn’t a paid stooge of the police, but a citizen acting on her own initiative. American Airlines isn’t doing this because the government told them to, but because they’re terrified of bad press. (Which they are still going to get, but from the other side.)

Yet somehow this makes it all worse, because it implies we are being trained to internalize the ethos of the police state—and to enact it voluntarily, on our own initiative, without having to be coerced. We’re building a self-enforcing police state.

Equally concerning is the fact that Lena Dunham and her SJW colleagues feel it is in any way appropriate for corporations to take it upon themselves to “train” their employees in matters outside the skills required to successfully perform the job, particularly hot-button social issues. Whereas a decade ago one could reliably find leftists railing against the power of corporations and the supposedly unfair, coercive power balance between employer and employee, now those very same leftists are screeching that big corporations are not doing enough to indoctrinate their employees with the new social justice dogma.

Of course, vesting corporations with such power is in fact highly dangerous and quite likely unconstitutional, particularly when lawsuits start to emerge where employees allege that their employer has pressured them to violate their own conscience when it comes to matters outside the workplace. Already we see this coercive behaviour taking place in some large organisations, most recently the UK’s National Trust charity and the latest scandal to envelope Google.

Conor Friedersdorf also makes this point very eloquently in The Atlantic:

I suppose it was theoretically conceivable that Dunham’s public complaint about insensitivity by low-level staffers would prompt the multinational airline to put the offending employees—or all employees—through training in “awareness” or “love and inclusivity.” But I am doubtful that it would be a good thing, on the whole, if corporations began punishing workers for what they say off-duty, or aggressively regulating or engineering not just how employees treat colleagues and customers, but their every belief. Corporations are institutions driven by profit, not moral rectitude; many often do what is good for shareholders and bad for employees or the public. Trusting them as a reliable mechanism for positive social change is short-sighted.

Not that I presume that even earnest, right-thinking corporate altruism would necessarily bear fruit. Think of your attitudes toward trans people. Would your employer be able to fundamentally change your views, whatever they are, with  compulsory education? I suspect the very people with animus of a sort that does harm would be least likely to be swayed and most likely to double down on their beliefs.

And in response to this incident, or a rising tide of working-class people being reported to corporate employers for expressing beliefs that a lurking celebrity or journalist calls out, I can imagine the imposition of new, onerous, generally applied restrictions on where uniformed flight attendants can socialize with one another in airports, or whether uniformed retail employees are allowed a quick cell-phone conversation inside the mall while on break. Asking myself who that new regime would most harm, the answer is marginalized people; pondering who would find it easiest to navigate, the answer is creative professionals like Lena Dunham and me; we attended colleges that prepared us to navigate the elite’s social norms, and we don’t wear uniforms in public that identify our corporate bosses to eavesdropping strangers.

Ultimately this speaks to the paternalistic role that the progressive Left envisage for government and anyone else in positions of authority. First, these key institutions are to be fully captured by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, and then they are to be leveraged to enforce the same uniform dogma relating to sexuality, gender theory and everything else.

Rod Dreher has also sounded the alarm about this phenomenon:

I know a man who is a senior manager at a major corporation. He is also a Christian. Every year during Pride Month, for the past few years, the human resources department at the firm has been after employees to declare themselves “allies” of the LGBT cause. This man has never done so, because he would consider it a violation of his conscience. He is scrupulously fair in his dealings with his employees, both gay and straight, and would also consider it a violation of his conscience to discriminate in the workplace against his gay employees. He is afraid that the day will come when his refusal to declare himself on the LGBT issue will be viewed negatively within the corporation, and it will damage or end his career there.

This is not paranoia. McCarthyism did not end with McCarthy.

The very real danger is that within a relatively short space of time, it may become impossible for people to avoid withholding their most deeply held personal and religious beliefs from their employer, precisely because people like Lena Dunham insist that corporations act as a co-equal auxiliary parent, together with the state, to both educate their employees in the ways of progressive dogma and then to secure their active participation in advancing the agenda.

If you think that this is ridiculous conservative scaremongering, just take a quick peek inside the mind of someone who occupies a senior position in the entrepreneurial-tech world:

Fortunately, Joshua McKenty’s vision of a “directory of known misogynists and racists, used to avoid hiring or contracting” would likely fall foul of the US constitution. But you can be sure that McKenty’s fellow ideologues will push in that direction as far as the law will possibly allow, given half the chance. And what of those of us who do not live in the United States under the protection of the US Constitution? What is to stop multinational firms with offices in Britain, where there is no written constitution, from demanding positive affirmation of progressive social policies from their employees?

And so what starts as just another Twitter-based hissy fit from Lena Dunham is in fact only the tip of the iceberg. It certainly doesn’t help when “woke” celebrities abuse their vast social media platforms to shame working and middle class service workers who dare to express outdated or unfashionable opinions, but that is not the real threat.

The real danger comes when corporations and private citizens no longer have to be bullied by the likes of Lena Dunham into acting as enforcers of the social justice movement, because they choose to do so willingly.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

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Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann And The Muslim Brotherhood

Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich

For some inexplicable reason, Politico invited former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to write a 2,500 word piece in support of Michele Bachmann’s witch hunts against federal workers whom she capriciously determines to have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and as a consequence represent an apparent threat to the national security of the United States.

I should let it go, I know I should. Or I could do a point-by-point rebuttal.

Here we go, from the top:

The recent assault on the National Security Five is only the most recent example of the fear our elites have about discussing and understanding radical Islamists.

Newt Gingrich, there is absolutely no way that you can define “elites” without including yourself in the group. You were one of the most powerful politicians in the country, you spent years in Washington, you were a presidential candidate and you had a $250,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. You are in no way a man of the people, get over yourself.

When an orchestrated assault is launched on the right to ask questions in an effort to stop members of Congress from even inquiring about a topic — you know the fix is in. The intensity of the attack on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as well as Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Rooney of Florida and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia is a reminder of how desperate our elites are to avoid this discussion.

Oh yes, it is the plucky brave witch-hunting Republican congressional members who are being intimidated and bullied here. Right. And again, quit it with the “elite” talk. You are our “elites” as much as anyone else.

Given all the painful things we learn about people every day and the surprises that shock even the experts (the head of the FBI anti-spy effort was a Russian spy, for example), you have to wonder why people would aggressively assert we shouldn’t ask about national security concerns.

Ah yes, let’s create a straw man argument so that we can knock it down and look clever. I don’t think that any one of the many people who condemned Bachmann’s baseless attack on Huma Abedin’s loyalty or patriotism think that we should not be concerned about national security – they just think that you need something approaching tangible evidence, or at least reasonable suspicion, before you smear someone’s character and good name.

We have replaced tough mindedness about national security with a refusal to think seriously and substituted political correctness and a “solid” assurance that people must be OK because they are “nice” and “hard working” for the systematic, intense investigations of the past.

Again, where is this coming from? Who said this? Is Newt Gingrich now just inventing fictitious people in his mind and giving them strange, subversive and cowardly views so that he has someone to argue with? Is he that bored now that his presidential aspirations have imploded in on themselves under the weight of their own moralising pomposity?

The underlying driving force behind this desperate desire to stop unpleasant questions is the elite’s fear that an honest discussion of radical Islamism will spin out of control. They fear if Americans fully understood how serious radical Islamists are, they would demand a more confrontational strategy.

Okay, so if we did have the American intelligence services do a more detailed check on Abedin and any other dark-skinned or oddly-named people that make certain Republicans uncomfortable (beyond the ones that have undoubtedly already taken place before they were allowed to assume jobs such as chief aide to the Secretary of State), one of two things happens. 1 – everyone is exonerated, and the time and effort was spent in vain, or 2 – someone does have a skeleton in their closet, and they do harbour some kind of anti-American or pro-Islamist beliefs or connections. In the unlikely event of scenario 2, what do we do? And how do we guard against others infiltrating the US government in future? Do an extra background check on anyone with a non-western surname, or anyone who went to school with someone who turned out to be crazy? Invite Michele Bachmann to use her divining rod to determine whether they are “true patriots” or not? Exactly what is the “more confrontational strategy” that you are talking about in this context, Newt?

A young John F. Kennedy wrote “Why England Slept” to try to understand how the leadership of a nation could ignore, repress and reject warnings about Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. A future JFK may write “Why Washington Slept” to explain our current period. The case of the National Security Five would be a good chapter on the desperation of the elites to avoid reality and their determination to smother any wake-up call, which might make them come to grips with Blair’s warning.

Don’t even go there, Gingrich. Don’t compare the Bachmann 5 (National Security 5 is far too generous) to John F. Kennedy. Or, indirectly, to Winston Churchill, who anticipated the dangers of Nazi Germany and was initially ridiculed for warning others.

The case of the Pakistani-American car bomber has yet another lesson for those willing to learn it. At his sentencing, Faisal Shahzad asserted, “If I’m given 1,000 lives, I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah.” He had apparently planned to build another car bomb in the next two weeks. The Pakistan Taliban had given him $15,000 and five days of explosive training just months after he became a U.S. citizen.

As Fox News reported: “The judge cut him off at one point to ask him if he had sworn allegiance to the United States when he became a citizen last year. ‘I did swear’ Shahzad answered, ‘but I did not mean it.’”

So we can’t trust the word of any Muslim because of the actions of this individual? If that is not what you are saying, what are you saying?

This long war with radical Islamists is a very different struggle. There are many nuances and long-term developments. Much of the struggle involves ideas and language alien to most American leaders and unknown even to most of the State or Defense Department professionals.

So the right or wrong adviser can be enormously powerful. Getting the right advice can be everything.

Therefore, whose advice we rely on becomes central to national security. Asking who the advisers are, what their prejudices are and what advice they give is a legitimate — indeed, essential — part of any serious national security system.

Again, where do you draw the line? Michele Bachmann’s family hold Swiss Citizenship. Should we be concerned that she may be tempted to use her position to influence US government policy in favour of Switzerland? And what should be the trigger for this investigation that Bachmann and the Bachmann 5 clearly want to see take place? Is it automatically given to every Muslim? Every Arab? How about Christian Arabs? Everyone born overseas?

[There then follows a long passage about Israel’s exclusion from an international conference on terrorism – which I happily concede was the height of foolish counterproductivity, since Israel has more experience than most in dealing with terrorism, and their exclusion rendered the conference about as valid and legitimate as the UN’s committee on human rights – but which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand]

[There then follows an even longer passage criticising the Obama administration for failing to refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, another sideshow that has nothing to do with his primary argument. Newt Gingrich was clearly stretched to find 2500 words in support of Michele Bachmann]

Another example of these legitimate questions, consider the strange case of Louay Safi.

Safi ran the Islamic Society of North America (an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas financing case) and who was himself an unindicted co-conspirator in the Sami Al-Arian terrorism case (involving Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist org). As Andy McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor in terrorism cases, explained, “So what happens? Pentagon hires him as expert to teach Islam to our troops before they deploy from Fort Hood! And now, of course, he is the leader of the [Muslim] Brotherhoods’ government-in-waiting for Syria. You just can’t make this stuff up!”

Isn’t it appropriate to ask: Who were the Muslim chaplains approved by this extremist? How did he get chosen to be in such a key position? What system of checking for extremism broke down so badly, or is so biased, that it allowed members and allies of radical Islamist organizations to play key roles in the U.S. government?

Yes! Yes, it is very appropriate! By all means! We should definitely do that, and learn the lessons from it, and ensure that vetting is stricter in future if indeed this is the case. But again, where do we stop? Assuming that radical Islam is the greatest national security threat facing America and that some kind of targetted vetting process is indeed necessary, what do we do to counter the second and third greatest national security threats, whatever they may be? What if one of the threats turns out to be anti-government militiamen, or Alaskan separatists? Do we also start getting concerned about any federal worker or member of Congress who has links, however many degrees of separation away, from such people? Are they also likely to seek to subvert US policy in secret, nefarious ways?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a serious worldwide organization dedicated to a future most Americans would find appalling. Seeking to understand its reach and its impact on the U.S. government is a legitimate, indeed essential, part of our national security process.

The National Security Five were doing their duty in asking difficult questions designed to make America safer. Their critics represent the kind of willful blindness that increasingly puts America at risk.

Fine. I don’t know a single critic of the Bachmann 5 who would disagree that the Muslim Brotherhood harbours values that are very much contrary to those of America, and that they seek to spread these values around the world, possibly through violent means. That is not the issue. The issue is whether we are going to be cowed by our fear of these people into doing something very un-American, and investigating US citizens and federal workers to establish ties to the Muslim Brotherhood based on nothing more than speculation, links of blood or friendship (as opposed to actions), or the fevered imaginations of Michele Bachmann.

If we do not want a book to describe “Why Washington Slept,” we will have to encourage elected officials to follow the advice of a later Kennedy book and exhibit “Profiles in Courage.”

Bachmann, Franks, Gohmert, Rooney and Westmoreland are showing a lot more courage than the defenders of timidity, complicity and passivity.

Please. There’s no courage on display here, just post September 11th scaredness and confusion and timidity, and a defensive lashing out at “the other” people by a group of some conservatives who are frightened of the world in which they find themselves, and who should know better.

The Bachmann 5 called out individuals by name and said that there were serious questions and concerns about their fidelity to the United States, and that consequently they should be investigated to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest in play. When pressed, they doubled down on their position. So I think we all have a right to know how this proposed new modern day Un-American Activities committee would work in the minds of Bachmann, her acolytes and her new cheerleader, Newt Gingrich.

Cantor Defends The Indefensible

michele bachmann

 

In this case “the indefensible” refers to Michele Bachmann, also known as “Minnesota Palin”.

Eric Cantor – “Young Gun”, darling of the right and sadly House Majority Leader – has come out in defence of the Bachmann Witchhunts, and her attempts to smear US government workers by drawing tortuous and far-fetched links tying them to the Muslim Brotherhood or other radical Islamist organisations. Cantor, always one to try to out-conservative his boss, House Speaker John Boehner (even Boehner denounced the actions of Bachmann and her paranoid accomplices), came out swinging in an interview for CBS and refused to criticise or moderate Bachmann’s stance.

Politico reports:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Friday defended Rep. Michele Bachmann’s questioning of a top Hillary Clinton aide’s loyalty to the United States, saying the Minnesota lawmaker’s “concern was about the security of the country.”

Ah, well now I think I understand. We can say what we like and cast any aspersions we wish about a person’s character or patriotism, so long as we do so out of a concern for the security of America.

So here’s my attempt:

Michele Bachmann is a dangerously ignorant politician. Worryingly, and despite the fact that she sits on the House Foreign Intelligence Committee, she remains as woefully unknowledgeable about foreign affairs as she is on the history of her own country. She is deliberately divisive, will stoop at nothing to stoke the fears and resentments of those equally ignorant as her for political gain, and in doing so is undermining the fabric of American society and government. Her husband and family hold Swiss citizenship. As we all know, Switzerland is a neutral country and historically has not sided with the United States in some of the most important issues and conflicts in our nation’s history. I am sure I am not the only one concerned that Bachmann’s torn loyalties between the country of her birth and that of her husband might lead her to use her prominent position to influence US government policy in favour of the Swiss and at the expense of the United States. – Samuel Hooper, 30th July 2012.

And I say this not through any personal animus, but out of a genuine concern and fear for the future safety of the United States of America. So it’s okay.

I look forward to Eric Cantor’s endorsement.