Demise of Journalism Is Confirmed

Glenn Greenwald explains in his Intercept article Journalism’s New Propaganda Tool: Using “Confirmed” to Mean its Opposite.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Outlets claiming to have “confirmed” Jeffrey Goldberg’s story about Trump’s troops comments are again abusing that vital term.

The same misleading tactic is now driving the supremely dumb but all-consuming news cycle centered on whether President Trump, as first reported by the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, made disparaging comments about The Troops. Goldberg claims that “four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day” — whom the magazine refuses to name because they fear “angry tweets” — told him that Trump made these comments. Trump, as well as former aides who were present that day (including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Bolton), deny that the report is accurate.

So we have anonymous sources making claims on one side, and Trump and former aides (including Bolton, now a harsh Trump critic) insisting that the story is inaccurate. Beyond deciding whether or not to believe Goldberg’s story based on what best advances one’s political interests, how can one resolve the factual dispute? If other media outlets could confirm the original claims from Goldberg, that would obviously be a significant advancement of the story.  Other media outlets — including Associated Press and Fox News — now claim that they did exactly that: “confirmed” the Atlantic story.

But if one looks at what they actually did, at what this “confirmation” consists of, it is the opposite of what that word would mean, or should mean, in any minimally responsible sense.

AP, for instance, merely claims that “a senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press,” while Fox merely said “a former senior Trump administration official who was in France traveling with the president in November 2018 did confirm other details surrounding that trip.”

In other words, all that likely happened is that the same sources who claimed to Jeffrey Goldberg, with no evidence, that Trump said this went to other outlets and repeated the same claims — the same tactic that enabled MSNBC and CBS to claim they had “confirmed” the fundamentally false CNN story about Trump Jr. receiving advanced access to the WikiLeaks archive. Or perhaps it was different sources aligned with those original sources and sharing their agenda who repeated these claims. Given that none of the sources making these claims have the courage to identify themselves, due to their fear of mean tweets, it is impossible to know.

But whatever happened, neither AP nor Fox obtained anything resembling “confirmation.”

They just heard the same assertions that Goldberg heard, likely from the same circles if not the same people, and are now abusing the term “confirmation” to mean “unproven assertions” or “unverifiable claims” (indeed, Fox now says that “two sources who were on the trip in question with Trump refuted the main thesis of The Atlantic’s reporting”).

It should go without saying that none of this means that Trump did not utter these remarks or ones similar to them. He has made public statements in the past that are at least in the same universe as the ones reported by the Atlantic, and it is quite believable that he would have said something like this (though the absolute last person who should be trusted with anything, particularly interpreting claims from anonymous sources, is Jeffrey Goldberg, who has risen to one of the most important perches in journalism despite (or, more accurately because of) one of the most disgraceful and damaging records of spreading disinformation in service of the Pentagon and intelligence community’s agenda).

But journalism is not supposed to be grounded in whether something is “believable” or “seems like it could be true.” Its core purpose, the only thing that really makes it matter or have worth, is reporting what is true, or at least what evidence reveals. And that function is completely subverted when news outlets claim that they “confirmed” a previous report when they did nothing more than just talked to the same people who anonymously whispered the same things to them as were whispered to the original outlet.

Quite aside from this specific story about whether Trump loves The Troops, conflating the crucial journalistic concept of “confirmation” with “hearing the same idle gossip” or “unproven assertions” is a huge disservice. It is an instrument of propaganda, not reporting. And its use has repeatedly deceived rather than informed the public. Anyone who doubts that should review how it is that MSNBC and CBS both claimed to have “confirmed” a CNN report which turned out to be ludicrously and laughably false. Clearly, the term “confirmation” has lost its meaning in journalism.

School’s Back: Indoctrination Resumes

“Say what you want about the Liberal Arts, but they have found a cure for common sense.”

Walter E. Williams explains in his article Back To College, Back To Academic Brainwashing Excerpts in italics with my bolds. H/T IceCap

Parents, legislators, taxpayers, and others footing the bill for college education might be interested in just what is in store for the upcoming academic year.

Since many college classes will be online, there is a chance to witness professors indoctrinating their students in real time. So, there’s a chance that some college faculty might change their behavior. To see recent examples of campus nonsense and indoctrination, visit the Campus Reform and College Fix websites.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, warned congressional lawmakers “that Antifa is ‘winning’ and that much of academia, whether wittingly or unwittingly, is complicit in its success,” reported Campus Reform.

In his testimony before Congress Turley said:

To Antifa, people like me are the personification of the classical liberal view of free speech that perpetuates a system of oppression and abuse. I wish I could say that my view remains strongly implanted in our higher educational institutions. However, you are more likely to find public supporters for restricting free speech than you are to find defenders of free speech principles on many campuses.

The leftist bias at our colleges and universities has many harmful effects. A mathematics professor at University of California, Davis, faced considerable backlash over her opposition to the requirement for “diversity statements” from potential faculty.

Those seeking employment at the University of California, San Diego, are required to admit that “barriers” prevent women and minorities from full participation in campus life.

At American University, a history professor wrote a book calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. A Rutgers University professor said: “Watching the Iowa Caucus is a sickening display of the overrepresentation of whiteness.”

A Williams College professor has advocated the inclusion of social justice in math textbooks. Students at Wayne State University are no longer required to take a single math course to graduate; however, they may soon be required to take a diversity course.

Maybe some students will be forced into sharing the vision of Laurie Rubel, a math education professor at Brooklyn College. She says the idea of cultural neutrality in math is a “myth,” and that asking whether 2 plus 2 equals 4 “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.”

Rubel tweeted: “Y’all must know that the idea that math is objective or neutral IS A MYTH.”

Math professors and academics at other universities, including Harvard and the University of Illinois, discussed the “Eurocentric” roots of American mathematics. As for me, I would like to see the proof, in any culture, that 2 plus 2 is something other than 4.

Rutgers University’s English department chairwoman, Rebecca Walkowitz, announced changes to the department’s graduate writing program emphasizing “social justice” and “critical grammar.”

Leonydus Johnson, a speech-language pathologist and libertarian activist, says Walkowitz’s changes make the assumption that minorities cannot understand traditional and grammatically correct English speech and writing, which is “insulting, patronizing, and in itself, extremely racist.”

Then there is the nonsense taught on college campuses about white privilege. The idea of white privilege doesn’t explain why several historically marginalized groups outperform whites today.

For example, Japanese Americans suffered under the Alien Land Law of 1913 and other racist, exclusionary laws legally preventing them from owning land and property in more than a dozen American states until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

During World War II, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned. However, by 1959, the income disparity between Japanese Americans and white Americans had almost disappeared.

Today, Japanese Americans outperform white Americans by large margins in income statistics, education outcomes, and test scores, and have much lower incarceration rates.

According to Rav Arora, writing for the New York Post, several black immigrant groups such as Nigerians, Trinidadians, Tobagonians, Barbadians, and Ghanaians all “have a median household income well above the American average.”

We are left with the question whether the people handing out “white privilege” made a mistake. The other alternative is that Japanese Americans, Nigerians, Barbadians, Ghanaians, Trinidadians, and Tobagonians are really white Americans.

The bottom line is that more Americans need to pay attention to the miseducation of our youth and that miseducation is not limited to higher education.

Walter E. Williams, a columnist for The Daily Signal, is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

 

 

 

 

JimBob weighs in on “progressive” education.

 

And a final word from Dilbert:

Democracy in Peril

Yoram Hazony explains the dire situation in USA, with global implications in his essay The Challenge of Marxism at The Quillette.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

We don’t know what will happen for certain. But based on the experience of recent years, we can venture a pretty good guess. Institutional liberalism lacks the resources to contend with this threat. Liberalism is being expelled from its former strongholds, and the hegemony of liberal ideas, as we have known it since the 1960s, will end. Anti-Marxist liberals are about to find themselves in much the same situation that has characterized conservatives, nationalists, and Christians for some time now: They are about to find themselves in the opposition.

This means that some brave liberals will soon be waging war on the very institutions they so recently controlled. They will try to build up alternative educational and media platforms in the shadow of the prestigious, wealthy, powerful institutions they have lost. Meanwhile, others will continue to work in the mainstream media, universities, tech companies, philanthropies, and government bureaucracy, learning to keep their liberalism to themselves and to let their colleagues believe that they too are Marxists—just as many conservatives learned long ago how to keep their conservatism to themselves and let their colleagues believe they are liberals.

This is the new reality that is emerging. There is blood in the water and the new Marxists will not rest content with their recent victories. In America, they will press their advantage and try to seize the Democratic Party. They will seek to reduce the Republican Party to a weak imitation of their own new ideology, or to ban it outright as a racist organization. And in other democratic countries, they will attempt to imitate their successes in America. No free nation will be spared this trial. So let us not avert our eyes and tell ourselves that this curse isn’t coming for us. Because it is coming for us.

In this essay, I would like to offer some initial remarks about the new Marxist victories in America—about what has happened and what’s likely to happen next. (See article at red link above for parts I to V)

VI. The Marxist endgame and democracy’s end

The most basic thing one needs to know about a democratic regime, then, is this: You need to have at least two legitimate political parties for democracy to work. By a legitimate political party, I mean one that is recognized by its rivals as having a right to rule if it wins an election. For example, a liberal party may grant legitimacy to a conservative party (even though they don’t like them much), and in return this conservative party may grant legitimacy to a liberal party (even though they don’t like them much). Indeed, this is the way most modern democratic nations have been governed.

But legitimacy is one of those traditional political concepts that Marxist criticism is now on the verge of destroying.

From the Marxist point of view, our inherited concept of legitimacy is nothing more than an instrument the ruling classes use to perpetuate injustice and oppression. The word legitimacy takes on its true meaning only with reference to the oppressed classes or groups that the Marxist sees as the sole legitimate rulers of the nation. In other words, Marxist political theory confers legitimacy on only one political party—the party of the oppressed, whose aim is the revolutionary reconstitution of society. And this means that the Marxist political framework cannot co-exist with democratic government. Indeed, the entire purpose of democratic government, with its plurality of legitimate parties, is to avoid the violent reconstitution of society that Marxist political theory regards as the only reasonable aim of politics.

Simply put, the Marxist framework and democratic political theory are opposed to one another in principle.

A Marxist cannot grant legitimacy to liberal or conservative points of view without giving up the heart of Marxist theory, which is that these points of view are inextricably bound up with systematic injustice and must be overthrown, by violence if necessary. This is why the very idea that a dissenting opinion—one that is not “Progressive” or “Anti-Racist”—could be considered legitimate has disappeared from liberal institutions as Marxists have gained power. At first, liberals capitulated to their Marxist colleagues’ demand that conservative viewpoints be considered illegitimate (because conservatives are “authoritarian” or “fascist”). This was the dynamic that brought about the elimination of conservatives from most of the leading universities and media outlets in America.

But by the summer of 2020, this arrangement had run its course. In the United States, Marxists were now strong enough to demand that liberals fall into line on virtually any issue they considered pressing. In what were recently liberal institutions, a liberal point of view has likewise ceased to be legitimate. This is the meaning of the expulsion of liberal journalists from the New York Times and other news organisations. It is the reason that Woodrow Wilson’s name was removed from buildings at Princeton University, and for similar acts at other universities and schools. These expulsions and renamings are the equivalent of raising a Marxist flag over each university, newspaper, and corporation in turn, as the legitimacy of the old liberalism is revoked.

Until 2016, America sill had two legitimate political parties. But when Donald Trump was elected president, the talk of his being “authoritarian” or “fascist” was used to discredit the traditional liberal point of view, according to which a duly elected president, the candidate chosen by half the public through constitutional procedures, should be accorded legitimacy. Instead a “resistance” was declared, whose purpose was to delegitimize the president, those who worked with him, and those who voted for him.

I know that many liberals believe that this rejection of Trump’s legitimacy was directed only at him, personally. They believe, as a liberal friend wrote to me recently, that when this particular president is removed from office, America will be able to return to normal.

But nothing of the sort is going to happen.

The Marxists who have seized control of the means of producing and disseminating ideas in America cannot, without betraying their cause, confer legitimacy on any conservative government. And they cannot grant legitimacy to any form of liberalism that is not supine before them. This means that whatever President Trump’s electoral fortunes, the “resistance” is not going to end. It is just beginning.

With the Marxist conquest of liberal institutions, we have entered a new phase in American history (and, consequently, in the history of all democratic nations). We have entered the phase in which Marxists, having conquered the universities, the media, and major corporations, will seek to apply this model to the conquest of the political arena as a whole.

How will they do this? As in the universities and the media, they will use their presence within liberal institutions to force liberals to break the bonds of mutual legitimacy that bind them to conservatives—and therefore to two-party democracy. They will not demand the delegitimization of just President Trump, but of all conservatives. We’ve already seen this in the efforts to delegitimize the views of Senators Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, and Tim Scott, as well as the media personality Tucker Carlson and others. Then they will move on to delegitimizing liberals who treat conservative views as legitimate, such as James Bennet, Bari Weiss, and Andrew Sullivan. As was the case in the universities and media, many liberals will accommodate these Marxist tactics in the belief that by delegitimizing conservatives they can appease the Marxists and turn them into strategic allies.

But the Marxists will not be appeased because what they’re after is the conquest of liberalism itself—already happening as they persuade liberals to abandon their traditional two-party conception of political legitimacy, and with it their commitment to a democratic regime. The collapse of the bonds of mutual legitimacy that have tied liberals to conservatives in a democratic system of government will not make the liberals in question Marxists quite yet. But it will make them the supine lackeys of these Marxists, without the power to resist anything that “Progressives” and “Anti-Racists” designate as being important.

And it will get them accustomed to the coming one-party regime, in which liberals will have a splendid role to play—if they are willing to give up their liberalism.

I know that many liberals are confused, and that they still suppose there are various alternatives before them. But it isn’t true. At this point, most of the alternatives that existed a few years ago are gone. Liberals will have to choose between two alternatives: either they will submit to the Marxists, and help them bring democracy in America to an end. Or they will assemble a pro-democracy alliance with conservatives. There aren’t any other choices.

See also: Post at The Reference Frame (Prague) Klaus: a progressive victory in the US is a more serious worry than the Chinese politburo

Four Steps to Take Down a Free Society

 

Heisenberg Uncertainty Appears in Socio-Political Research

Background:  Heisenberg Uncertainty

In the sub-atomic domain of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, determined that our observations have an effect on the behavior of quanta (quantum particles).

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know simultaneously the exact position and momentum of a particle. That is, the more exactly the position is determined, the less known the momentum, and vice versa. This principle is not a statement about the limits of technology, but a fundamental limit on what can be known about a particle at any given moment. This uncertainty arises because the act of measuring affects the object being measured. The only way to measure the position of something is using light, but, on the sub-atomic scale, the interaction of the light with the object inevitably changes the object’s position and its direction of travel.

Now skip to the world of governance and the effects of regulation. A similar finding shows that the act of regulating produces reactive behavior and unintended consequences contrary to the desired outcomes. More on that later on from a previous post.

This article looks at political and social research attempts to describe the electorate’s preoccupations and preferences ahead of 2020 US Presidential voting in November.

John McLaughlin explains in his article Biased Polls Suppress Vote  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

McLaughlin noted among the 220 million eligible voters in the U.S., only around 139 million voted in 2016, which is considered the most all-time.

“Even if it goes up to 140-150 million, the polls of adults are going to be skewed against Republicans,” McLaughlin told Monday’s “Greg Kelly Reports,” especially “since President Trump gets over 90% support from Republicans.”

McLaughlin noted CNN’s poll among adults featured just 25% registered Republicans, where as around one-third of the electorate that voted in 2016 were Republicans.

He added to host Greg Kelly, it costs more to run focused polls of likely voters from actual voter registration lists.

“It’s cheaper for them to do,” in addition to being advantageous to the Democratic candidate, McLaughlin told Kelly. “They don’t have to buy a sample of voters, that campaign pollsters – whether Republican or Democrat – are going to have to do.”

Also, per McLaughlin, reporting a blowout lead ultimately can cause voter suppression, a frequent rally cry of Democrats against Republicans in election.

Politico notes that there is nothing nefarious going on to skew these polls toward Biden. But they do have the same issue the 2016 polls had: They’re not reaching all of the Trump supporters.

At the center of the issue are white voters without college degrees; in 2016, Trump earned 67% of this demographic’s support, while Democrat Hillary Clinton got just 28%. Current polls, according to Politico, are not capturing enough of this voting bloc, which unintentionally skews the results toward Biden.

My Comment:  This post was inspired by a Flynnville Train song that captures the sentiment of working class Americans alienated from the political process.  Disrespected as “deplorables” they turned out for Trump and made the difference in 2016.  Now with arbitrary pandemic restrictions and random urban rioting, these folks are even more incensed about the political elite.  Lest anyone think them inconsequential, remember that many of them get up and go to watch the most popular US spectator sport.  I refer to stock car racing, not the kneeling football or basketball athletes.

Lyrics:

IF YOU’RE HANDS ARE HURTIN’ FROM A WEEK OF WORKIN’
AND HOLDING YOUR WOMAN IS THE ONLY THING THEY’RE GOOD FOR
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF THE PRICE OF GAS IS BREAKIN’ YOUR BACK
AND THAT DRIVE TO WORK IS KILLIN’ YOUR PAYCHECK
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF YOU’RE WORRIED ‘BOUT WHERE THIS COUNTRY’S HEADED
AND YOU DON’T BELIEVE ONE POLITICIAN GETS IT

CHORUS
YOURE PREACHIN’ TO THE CHOIR
A FELLOW WORKIN’ MAN
THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF STUFF MESSED UP
CAN I GETTA AMEN
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE
CAUSE WE’RE ALL GETTING TIRED
SO GO ON BITCH AND MOAN
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR

IF THE GOOD BOOK SITS BESIDE YOUR BED
AND UNDER YOUR ROOF WE’RE STILL ONE NATION UNDER GOD
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF YOU LIKE THE CHANCE TO WRAP YOUR HANDS
ROUND THAT S.O.B. THAT HURT THAT KID ON THE EVENIN’ NEWS
YOU’RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR
IF YOU KNOW THERE AIN’T NO HERO LIKE A SOLDIER
BUT YOU HATE TO EVER HAVE TO SEND ‘EM OVER

CHORUS

IF THE GOLDEN RULE STILL MEANS SOMETHING TO YA
WELL HALLELUJAH

CHORUS

PREACHING TO THE CHOIR

Previous Post: Regulatory Backfire

An article at Financial Times explains about Energy Regulations Unintended Consequences  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Goodhart’s Law holds that “any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes”. Originally coined by the economist Charles Goodhart as a critique of the use of money supply measures to guide monetary policy, it has been adopted as a useful concept in many other fields. The general principle is that when any measure is used as a target for policy, it becomes unreliable. It is an observable phenomenon in healthcare, in financial regulation and, it seems, in energy efficiency standards.

When governments set efficiency regulations such as the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for vehicles, they are often what is called “attribute-based”, meaning that the rules take other characteristics into consideration when determining compliance. The Cafe standards, for example, vary according to the “footprint” of the vehicle: the area enclosed by its wheels. In Japan, fuel economy standards are weight-based. Like all regulations, fuel economy standards create incentives to game the system, and where attributes are important, that can mean finding ways to exploit the variations in requirements. There have long been suspicions that the footprint-based Cafe standards would encourage manufacturers to make larger cars for the US market, but a paper this week from Koichiro Ito of the University of Chicago and James Sallee of the University of California Berkeley provided the strongest evidence yet that those fears are likely to be justified.

Mr Ito and Mr Sallee looked at Japan’s experience with weight-based fuel economy standards, which changed in 2009, and concluded that “the Japanese car market has experienced a notable increase in weight in response to attribute-based regulation”. In the US, the Cafe standards create a similar pressure, but expressed in terms of size rather than weight. Mr Ito suggested that in Ford’s decision to end almost all car production in North America to focus on SUVs and trucks, “policy plays a substantial role”. It is not just that manufacturers are focusing on larger models; specific models are also getting bigger. Ford’s move, Mr Ito wrote, should be seen as an “alarm bell” warning of the flaws in the Cafe system. He suggests an alternative framework with a uniform standard and tradeable credits, as a more effective and lower-cost option. With the Trump administration now reviewing fuel economy and emissions standards, and facing challenges from California and many other states, the vehicle manufacturers appear to be in a state of confusion. An elegant idea for preserving plans for improving fuel economy while reducing the cost of compliance could be very welcome.

The paper is The Economics of Attribute-Based Regulation: Theory and Evidence from Fuel-Economy Standards Koichiro Ito, James M. Sallee NBER Working Paper No. 20500.  The authors explain:

An attribute-based regulation is a regulation that aims to change one characteristic of a product related to the externality (the “targeted characteristic”), but which takes some other characteristic (the “secondary attribute”) into consideration when determining compliance. For example, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States recently adopted attribute-basing. Figure 1 shows that the new policy mandates a fuel-economy target that is a downward-sloping function of vehicle “footprint”—the square area trapped by a rectangle drawn to connect the vehicle’s tires.  Under this schedule, firms that make larger vehicles are allowed to have lower fuel economy. This has the potential benefit of harmonizing marginal costs of regulatory compliance across firms, but it also creates a distortionary incentive for automakers to manipulate vehicle footprint.

Attribute-basing is used in a variety of important economic policies. Fuel-economy regulations are attribute-based in China, Europe, Japan and the United States, which are the world’s four largest car markets. Energy efficiency standards for appliances, which allow larger products to consume more energy, are attribute-based all over the world. Regulations such as the Clean Air Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Affordable Care Act are attribute-based because they exempt some firms based on size. In all of these examples, attribute-basing is designed to provide a weaker regulation for products or firms that will find compliance more difficult.

Summary from Heritage Foundation study Fuel Economy Standards Are a Costly Mistake Excerpt with my bolds.

The CAFE standards are not only an extremely inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emission but will also have a variety of unintended consequences.

For example, the post-2010 standards apply lower mileage requirements to vehicles with larger footprints. Thus, Whitefoot and Skerlos argued that there is an incentive to increase the size of vehicles.

Data from the first few years under the new standard confirm that the average footprint, weight, and horsepower of cars and trucks have indeed all increased since 2008, even as carbon emissions fell, reflecting the distorted incentives.

Manufacturers have found work-arounds to thwart the intent of the regulations. For example, the standards raised the price of large cars, such as station wagons, relative to light trucks. As a result, automakers created a new type of light truck—the sport utility vehicle (SUV)—which was covered by the lower standard and had low gas mileage but met consumers’ needs. Other automakers have simply chosen to miss the thresholds and pay fines on a sliding scale.

Another well-known flaw in CAFE standards is the “rebound effect.” When consumers are forced to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, the cost per mile falls (since their cars use less gas) and they drive more. This offsets part of the fuel economy gain and adds congestion and road repair costs. Similarly, the rising price of new vehicles causes consumers to delay upgrades, leaving older vehicles on the road longer.

In addition, the higher purchase price of cars under a stricter CAFE standard is likely to force millions of households out of the new-car market altogether. Many households face credit constraints when borrowing money to purchase a car. David Wagner, Paulina Nusinovich, and Esteban Plaza-Jennings used Bureau of Labor Statistics data and typical finance industry debt-service-to-income ratios and estimated that 3.1 million to 14.9 million households would not have enough credit to purchase a new car under the 2025 CAFE standards.[34] This impact would fall disproportionately on poorer households and force the use of older cars with higher maintenance costs and with fuel economy that is generally lower than that of new cars.

CAFE standards may also have redistributed corporate profits to foreign automakers and away from Ford, General Motors (GM), and Chrysler (the Big Three), because foreign-headquartered firms tend to specialize in vehicles that are favored under the new standards.[35] 

Conclusion

CAFE standards are costly, inefficient, and ineffective regulations. They severely limit consumers’ ability to make their own choices concerning safety, comfort, affordability, and efficiency. Originally based on the belief that consumers undervalued fuel economy, the standards have morphed into climate control mandates. Under any justification, regulation gives the desires of government regulators precedence over those of the Americans who actually pay for the cars. Since the regulators undervalue the well-being of American consumers, the policy outcomes are predictably harmful.

 

 

Resisting the PC “Karens”

In the social media it has become common to refer to someone who scolds or punishes you for your behavior as “Karen being Karen.” It started with a stereotype of arrogant entitled white women who put down others lacking their privileged refinement. Since the return of the BLM movement many are using the label for a racist tone dismissive of white people generally.

Leaving aside the racist connotation, I am focusing on the Karen role of enforcing politically correct behavior. For example, consider the recent Central Park incident in which a woman called Amy Cooper called the cops on a black man called Christian Cooper (no relation) and claimed that he was harassing her when in truth he was reprimanding her for letting her dog off its leash in a part of the park where you’re not meant to do that. Amy behaved badly in this incident. But as Robert A George argued in the New York Daily News: ‘[Christian] is the “Karen” in this encounter, deciding to enforce park rules unilaterally and to punish “intransigence” ruthlessly.’ Amy Cooper’s life has been shattered by this Karen-shaming incident: she lost her job and her dog.

Regardless of racial or gender identity, the “Karenness Quality” is this self-righteous public shaming of others for not behaving according to Karen’s Rules. For example, note the flip-flop of the mayor of Olympia, Washington. She was fine with the Black Lives Matter protests that followed George Floyd’s death in police custody. But that was until vandals damaged her home, according to reports. Changing her mind about the BLM protests when she was damaged personally, Mayor Cheryl Selby of Olympia now refers to the protests as “domestic terrorism,” according to The Olympian. “I’m really trying to process this,” Selby told the newspaper Saturday, after the rioters’ Friday night spree left her front door and porch covered with spray-painted messages. “It’s like domestic terrorism. It’s unfair.”

Karenism has this moral purity abstracted from personal experience with the hardships involved. Karen exemplar Marie Antoinette famously responded to the plight of breadless peasants with her “Let them eat cake.”

Karens are having a field day with The Wu Flu pandemania, such that I am in violation just for referring to the Chinese origin of this contagion. The media weaponizing the virus fear factor triggers the inner Karens to confront, denounce and denigrate others as threats to personal health and well being. You can see it when in a store, another customer scolds you for not wearing your mask properly, or going the wrong direction in the aisle. Or when Governor Karen Cuomo of NY denounces Florida or Georgia for their policies, while his state sets records for Wu Flu deaths per million.

There are various ways of responding to the Karens of this world. Comedian Steve Martin was famous for his reply to PC critics.

When the scolding is related to trivial procedural details, it’s appropriate to respond with: “Whatever.”

Then there’s Jimbob’s approach which involves switching the context to expose the absurdity of Karen’s challenge.

The Victim Song

In the 1990s bluesman R.L. Burnside performed his song composed entirely of words he heard blaming others to avoid looking in the mirror.

R. L. Burnside 1926-2005

Four Steps to Take Down a Free Society

Update at end:  July 23, 2020 China Takes the Lead

The process is under way most obviously in the USA, but also in Europe, Australia and elsewhere. Scott McKay helpfully writes at American Spectator Four Stages of Marxist Takeover: The Accuracy of Yuri Bezmenov. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The journalist and Soviet defector long ago pegged the current left-wing moment.

But it’s also important to understand that the revolution taking place in America is not yet a “kinetic” one. That may come soon, or it may not. The battle taking place presently is a war of information — or disinformation, as the case may be.

And the revolution is a Marxist revolution. You should make no mistake about that. The groups fomenting it, the intellectuals promoting it, and the money financing it are all quite open about who they are.

This playbook was written long ago. If you think that Bernie Sanders or Kshama Sawant or Alicia Garza are smart enough to dream up a plan for taking down the greatest society the world has ever known, you are out of touch with reality. The only way they could have been as effective as they have so far is to follow somebody else’s plan. Which they are doing.

There is a video interview from a long time ago that you should see if you haven’t already seen it. It’s one of those things that many of our readers may have seen years ago and then forgot about — but all of a sudden it’s incredibly relevant again. The interview dates back to 1984, and it was conducted by the author, filmmaker, and John Birch Society gadfly G. Edward Griffin with a Soviet defector and former KGB operative named Yuri Bezmenov. (Below is a synopsis video)

Forget about Griffin’s background. He was something of an Alex Jones of his time, and he’s still around in his dotage, obsessing about things that cost him his relevance. It’s Bezmenov who matters. The Russian was involved at relatively high levels as a propagandist par excellence before leaving the USSR for Canada, and he laid out in excruciating detail the process by which a free society might be brought to collapse.

Khrushchev and the Soviets weren’t just bragging. What he was talking about was an entire system of Marxist indoctrination and takeover they had perfected and executed in country after country during the 20th century. Eastern Europe. North Korea. North Vietnam, then all of Vietnam. Cuba. Nicaragua. Later, Venezuela. Various African countries, including South Africa, the communist bloom of which has only recently come to pass. Some of those countries went communist because the Soviets rolled the tanks in; most went communist because the pre-communist society collapsed for various reasons. All went communist after they had been infiltrated with Marxist revolutionaries.

The point being that there was a template in place for how to penetrate a society with Marxist ideals and implode it so that the revolutionaries would control the ruins.

Bezmenov, whose father was a high-ranking Soviet military official and who was trained to be an elite KGB overseas operative, was taught the template and put to work in India attempting to infiltrate that country and bring it into the Warsaw Pact. He also worked at the Soviet RIA Novosti news organization, editing and planting propaganda materials into foreign media. The man knew exactly what he was talking about when he outlined how a Marxist revolution might bring America down without firing a shot, just as Khrushchev had predicted.

Bezmenov warned us in 1984 that a free society collapses in four stages, and the first is demoralization.

What he meant by demoralization is a process by which students in schools controlled by disciples of leftist thought would be indoctrinated into a set of values and beliefs foreign to those of the American tradition. Bezmenov said, in 1984, mind you, that this would happen when the 1960s and 1970s student radicals began to control the educational institutions, and their project would be to throw out traditional Judeo-Christian morality, classical education, and American patriotism. Is there any doubt this has happened?

Our young people are the least patriotic in our nation’s history, and the most ignorant of the cultural, intellectual, and ideological patrimony of which they are heirs.

It’s even worse than that, because the cultural Marxist project not just in our schools but in our media and entertainment institutions has poisoned those against the country. Remember when the NFL was an escape from politics? Remember when the movies Hollywood made extolled American values and made viewers feel good about their country?  When was the last time you saw anything from American education or corporate media that made you feel good about your country?

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What’s the second step? Destabilization.

Bezmenov describes that as a rapid decline in the structure of a society — its economy, its military, its international relations. We’ve discussed in this space the unquestionable impetus on the part of Democrats to keep the economy as hamstrung as possible with COVID-19 shutdowns, and those continue despite a precipitous decline in death rates as testing ramps up across the country. It’s clear the virus is no longer a significant threat to the health of Americans who don’t already have serious medical issues, and yet COVID hysteria is increasing, rather than decreasing. Just Wednesday the Ivy League shut down all its sporting events planned for the fall semester, an absurd decision that is nonetheless likely to be copied by other universities dominated by leftist political activists (the Big Ten, ACC, and SEC are all in various stages of planning conference-only schedules this fall, which makes no sense whatsoever).

The virus is the perfect platform by which to impose the economic destabilization the Left has wanted all along.

No, that isn’t a conspiracy theory. They’re telling you it’s what they’re after. Do you believe Ilhan Omar was off-script when she suggested dismantling America’s economy as a system of oppression earlier this week? Ilhan Omar, who paid a political consultant $900,000 in fees last year, money that came from somewhere, isn’t smart enough to say these things without having the script written for her. She’s being trotted out to introduce them because she’s already radioactive and a lightning rod for criticism, and also because she’s (1) black, (2) Muslim, and (3) an immigrant, and even an illegal one. To criticize her statements as cracked bears the signature not of incisive reasoning but rather racism. So when other Democrats join her call you are no longer allowed to object.

That’s destabilization. They’re fully engaged in it, whether you believe they’ve been successful or not. But ask Mark McCloskey, for example, whether or not he thinks it’s outlandish to suggest the American order has been destabilized. McCloskey told Tucker Carlson that after the police told him they couldn’t protect him after the incident where he and his wife used guns to protect their property from a mob of Black Lives Matter trespassers, he called around to private security firms for help and was given advice to get out of his house and let the mob do what they would. Does that sound like a stable society to you?

The third stage is crisis, the catalyzing event that builds on the first two stages to bring on the change the revolutionaries are looking for.

Looking for a crisis? Take your pick. We barely even remember the fact that we just had only the third presidential impeachment in American history half a year ago, a constitutional crisis that was wholly and completely manufactured directly out of thin air. We progressed immediately from that to COVID-19, which was unquestionably a manufactured crisis — not that the virus itself isn’t deadly to a certain portion of the population, but if you think the panic and destruction it’s caused doesn’t smack of manufacture then it’s clear you’ve been demoralized.

And then the George Floyd riots and the paroxysms of violence and virtue-signaling those have brought on, complete with the current campaign to bowdlerize American history and culture in an increasingly indiscriminate fashion. That’s a crisis, everybody, and it’s a completely manufactured one. The speed of the cultural collapse that followed Floyd’s death — when the legal system moved very swiftly against the police officers responsible for it — makes it undeniable this was planned and only needed a catalyst.

What’s the fourth stage? Normalization. As in, a “new normal.”

The statues and monuments are gone, the ball games are out, or at least you aren’t allowed in the stadium to watch them (and you’ve got to watch them on TV interspersed with commercial spots and in-game messaging pushing whatever memes and narratives the ESPNs and NBCs of the world and their Madison Avenue partners wish to implant in your mind), the schools have purged American history and culture, the Universal Basic Income checks have replaced your job, which you can’t do because the small business where you used to work has gone under thanks to the virus.

And Biden is president. For a little while, until it’s clear he’s incapacitated per the 25th Amendment, and then somebody else that you didn’t vote for is in charge of the country.

Out goes Kerensky. In comes … who knows what?

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Let’s hope your confidence none of this can happen is well-placed. Let’s hope Bezmenov was a crank like people think G. Edward Griffin is.

But just to be sure, let’s make damned sure Biden and the Democrats take an historic beating in November. We don’t want to find out what’s behind the curtain in Biden’s basement. Too many nasty things are already peeking out at us from there.

Update July 23, 2020: China Takes the Lead

Of course the leading proponent of this geopolitical strategy is China, and they are effectively applying it to the USA. Brian Kennedy writes in his book:

China’s goal is demoralizing the United States to the point where America believes that further resistance is futile.” They can’t succeed without the help of America’s elite.

From Robert Curry’s review: The Chinese are confident that America has grown corrupt, and that its political, financial, and cultural elites are in near-complete sympathy with the globalist project of an interdependent world, with the P.R.C. [the People’s Republic of China] at its head.

I have a story from my own life that illustrates Kennedy’s point. Recalling what it was like before the pandemic panic took total control of American life will help to set the stage. Back then, the media, the celebrities, and the politicians had not yet mastered the talking points of the COVID-19 narrative. During one of those early days, a local radio news personality announced with great excitement that she had secured an interview with a prominent epidemiologist from the most prestigious university in our region. After thanking the professor profusely for granting the interview, the reporter asked the obvious question, the one that was on my mind at that time: “What is the difference between this flu and the Spanish flu of 1918?”

The professor was greatly offended by the question. She admonished the reporter never to use the term “Spanish” with regard to the flu of 1918 and never to use the word “Chinese” with regard to the flu of 2020. The professor simply would not answer the question and, for that matter, she would not address any other question having to do with epidemiology. She confined herself to scolding and reeducating the reporter, making it clear to the reporter and her listeners what was and what was not politically correct to say about the virus.

It was an astonishing performance. The professor did not speak as an epidemiologist; instead, she spoke as a globalist. When she said, in effect, “Don’t you ever call this flu that came from China ‘Chinese,’” she was acting as a spokesperson for the ideology of globalism.

See also: Patriotism Vs. Multiculturalism

Kneeling to Experts Not Advisable

Taking an opinion “under advisement” means seriously considering it but retaining the independence to weigh it against other considerations.  Charles Lipson explains the importance of not bowing to expert recommendations in his article Reopening Schools and the Limits of Expertise.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The last thing you want to hear from your brain surgeon (aside from “Oops”) is “Wow, I’ve always wanted to do one of these.” You’ll feel a lot better hearing, “I’ve done 30 operations like this over the past month and published several articles about them.”

Expertise like that is essential for brain surgery, building rockets, constructing skyscrapers, and much, much more. Our modern world is built upon it. We need such expert advice as we decide whether to open schools this fall, and we should turn to educators, physicians, and economists to get it. But ultimately we, as citizens and the local officials we elect, should make the choices. These are not technical decisions but political ones that incorporate technical issues and projections.

We should hold our representatives, not the experts, responsible for the choices they make.

When we listen to experts, we should remember Clint Eastwood’s comment in “Magnum Force”: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Even the best authorities have them, and one, ironically, is that they seldom admit them, even to themselves. It is important for us both to appreciate expert advice and to recognize its limits every time we’re told to “be quiet and do what they say.” We should listen, think it over, and then make our own decisions as citizens, parents, teachers, business owners, workers, retirees — and voters.

The best way to understand why we need experts but also why we need to weigh their advice, not swallow it whole and uncooked, is to consider this illustration: Should we build a hydroelectric dam in a beautiful valley? If we construct it, we certainly need the best engineers and construction workers. We need engineering firms to project the cost and economists to project the price of its energy and potable water. Their expertise is essential.

But they cannot tell us whether it is wise to destroy California’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to build that dam. The world’s top experts on wildlife conservation and regional economic growth cannot give us the definitive answer, either. They would give us, at best, different answers, reflecting their different expertise. The conservationist would tell us it is a terrible idea to destroy such beautiful, irreplaceable habitat and kill endangered species. The economist would tell us we need the energy and fresh water if Northern California is to grow. What no economist could have predicted, decades ago, is that the entire world’s income would vastly increase because of technological advances from Silicon Valley, which had the resources needed to grow.

The hydroelectric example illustrates a more general point: complex questions involve experts in multiple fields, but there is no supra-expert to aggregate their differing advice. Even if we assume all experts within a field give similar advice, who can aggregate it across fields? No one. There is no “expert of experts.” In the example of the hydroelectric dam, the policy decision depends on how much we weigh conservation versus growth and how well we can predict future options and alternatives, such as the price of solar power or prospective growth from Palo Alto to San Jose.

Sorting out the answers is ultimately a question for voters and their representatives, not for experts in hydroelectric engineering, wildlife conservation, or regional economics. We need the best advice, but only we, as citizens, can weigh it and make a final decision. In a representative democracy, we elect officials to make those decisions. If democracy is to work, we must hold them accountable. One criticism of the growing regulatory state is that it is impossible to hold the decision makers accountable. Some of that criticism should be directed at legislators, who avoid responsibility by writing vague laws and then off-loading hard decisions onto bureaucrats and judges.

We should be especially skeptical when experts predict distant outcomes.

Their record is none too impressive. We should be skeptical, too, when laws and regulations set one definitive criterion, such as preserving the endangered snail darter, at the expense of all other considerations. That might be the best decision, or it might not, but it is ultimately a political choice. Right now, federal judges have awarded themselves extensive — and unilateral — power to make it.

These problems, which combine technical expertise and political judgment, are essential to understanding our dilemmas about reopening K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Epidemiologists are saying, “Resuming in-person instruction too soon could spread the disease. Although children are at low risk, they will bring it home to parents and grandparents.” Pediatricians, by contrast, say it is important for children’s overall health to get them back in school. Online learning is not very effective, they say, and losing a year’s classroom instruction and socialization will be extremely harmful. Economists focus on different issues, such as parents who cannot return to full-time employment because they must care for children at home. That constraint is especially harmful to one-parent households and low-income, hourly workers, whose children also have less access to computers and fast internet connections. Notice that these experts are not the self-interested voices of interest groups such as teachers’ unions or small businesses. They are specialists in economics, education, and public health. Each has its own “silo of expertise.” Each silo produces a different answer because its experts focus on their own subset of issues and weigh them most heavily.

As we listen to these experts, we need to remember that even the best, most disinterested advice has its limitations. Reopening schools, like other big policy questions, involves multiple silos and hundreds of moving parts. It is impossible to predict what all those parts will do, how much weight to give each one, or what effects they might have, now and in the distant future. It was only from trial-and-error that we learned how inadequate online instruction really is. We entered this massive national experiment with some optimism and trudge forward with pessimism.

We should be humble about what we still don’t know.

Our success in reopening schools and businesses depends on things we cannot know with certainty. How quickly will our biotechnology companies discover effective therapeutics and vaccines? How quickly will the American population develop “herd immunity?” How soon will customers return, en masse, to shopping malls, indoor dining, and cross-country travel?

Predicting the secondary and tertiary effects of policy choices is especially hard.

Keeping businesses closed, for instance, sharply reduces local tax revenues, which probably means reducing essential services such as garbage collection and local policing. Those cuts harm public health and safety. But how much? No expert is smart enough to predict all these knock-on effects, much less aggregate them and give an overall conclusion. As it happens, experts are no better at predicting these effects than well-informed laymen. The main difference, according to studies, is that experts are more confident in their (often-wrong) predictions.

The point here is not that experts are irrelevant. We need them, and we need to pay attention to their data, logic, and conclusions. But we also need to remember that

  • Even the best current knowledge has its limits, and
  • There are no “supra-experts” to weigh the best advice from different fields and aggregate them to reach the “definitive” answer.

Sorting out this expert advice is not a technological question. It is a political one. Mayors, governors, and school boards across the country understand that crucial point as they decide whether to open schools this fall for in-person instruction. The voters understand it, too. They should listen to the experts, see what other jurisdictions decide, and check out their varied results. Then, they should walk into the voting booth and hold their representatives to account.

Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he founded the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security.

Teachers Beware Your Cultural Revolution Turning on You

The protests in city streets of developed countries are coordinated and led by Social Justice Warriors indoctrinated in Western academies of higher education, after elementary school slanted teaching. If neo-Marxist progressive post-moderns take pride in this as accomplishing their agenda, consider what happened in China’s cultural revolution in the 1960s and is repeating itself in 2020.

Background:

It all started in China with educational reform implemented by teachers and administrators. That history is summarized in an article China’s Cultural Revolution: Reforms in the Education System at UK Essays. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The implementation of educational reforms was carried out via a decentralized process, as most schools were placed under local management. In fact each school had its own “Revolution in Education’ Committee responsible not only for implementing reforms but also for part of the planning process within its own institution.”[7] So it would seem that local experimentation within the general framework of the new educational policies was encouraged. Experimentation was seen as necessary primarily because of the emphasis on adopting flexible methods to meet the diverse needs of different schools and regions. We will identify below the major guidelines regarding the implementation of the educational reforms, as well as describe some of the different ways the reforms were implemented.

In order to elevate the “political consciousness” of the students, the curriculum was heavily stocked with political education courses. The major texts used were drawn from the works of Mao. Aside from increasing the number of political course, other courses also drew upon Mao’s thoughts to explain various approaches to the analysis of whatever phenomenon was involved.[8] This reliance on Mao’s thoughts was essentially the concept of “putting politics in command of knowledge.” At the same time, “revolutionary mass criticism” and “class struggles” were actively promoted to bring into sharp relief the various contradictions in society from a more personal perspective. The principal means of linking theory and practice in the educational process were to make production labor a major part of the students’ curriculum and to direct research to meet local needs. These methods were based on the concept of “practical training,” although their implementation in China seems to have gone far beyond that practiced by other countries.

What Happened to the Educators

The fate of the teachers is revealed in research conducted by Youqin Wang In her paper Student Attacks Against Teachers: The Revolution of 1966. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The author investigated the so-called “Red August” of 1966, the start of large-scale violent persecution during China’s Cultural Revolution. She interviewed hundreds of teachers and students from ninety-six schools and reviewed all available written materials. This article provides a detailed description of how educators were insulted, tortured, and even killed by their students. Mobilized as members of a new youth organization named “Red Guards,” the students attacked the educators for being “capitalist intellectuals.” In those schools, twenty-seven educators were murdered; more committed suicide subsequent to torture. Cruel oppression silenced resistance. Stories about bloody campus persecutions were too politically sensitive following the Cultural Revolution, so have heretofore received scant attention in the historical narrative. As the author shows, given the high regard China has traditionally held for education, the brutalizing of educators in China was an unprecedented act. The objective of this article is to reveal the texture and significance of this underreported and underappreciated part of China’s history.

Not only were the stories of violence not reported by the media at the time of their occurrence, but thirteen years later, in 1979, with the repudiation of the Cultural Revolution reaching the highest circles of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese media only cautiously began to mention the victims as a way of “restoring” their reputation. This sort of publicity was limited to a small number of purged high-ranking cadres, victimized celebrities, and a few ordinary people who were considered “heroes” or “heroines” for resisting the “Gang of Four” (四人幫). The teachers who were victimized in 1966 were not so much as mentioned. None of the three published general histories of the Cultural Revolution (printed in 1986, 1988, and 1995 respectively) covers the brutality against teachers in the summer of 1966.

In general, the brutality of students in colleges and in elementary schools was not as severe as in middle schools, but it was nevertheless serious. At Beijing University, hundreds of people on the “labor reform team of ox-ghosts and snake-demons” were forced to clean the campus with irregularly shaved heads, while wearing boards with their name and title (such as “member of the black gang” or “reactionary academic authority”) around their necks and receiving gratuitous insults from many students who came to “learn revolutionary experiences from Beijing University.”

On August 24, 1966, the Red Guards of the Middle School attached to Qinghua University transported truckloads of Red Guards from twelve middle schools to Qinghua campus, where they beat the administrators and professors. After several persons at the Department of Electronic Engineering were beaten, their blood stained the ground. Someone marked a circle around the blood and wrote “dog blood.” That day Red Guards ordered those on the “ox-ghost and snake-demon team,” under the lashes of whip, kicks, and punches, to pull down a white marble monument which was built in 1905 to commemorate the founding of the school. That night, all school-level cadres at both the university and the attached middle school were detained in the Science Building, and there in a small room, a beating was inflicted upon each of them. No one escaped without serious injury.

Even kindergarten teachers could not escape the violence. Some teachers of Beijing Zhongshan Gongyuan Kindergarten and several kindergartens in Beijing’s Dongcheng District (東城區) were denounced and beaten in the Zhongshan Concert Pavilion; there, students from middle schools beat them and shaved their heads

The “working groups” organized sessions to expose and to criticize teachers and divided all teachers into four categories: good, fair, those with serious errors, and anti-party/anti-socialist “rightists” (右派份子). For example, the working group at the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University led an “exposing and denouncing meeting” against vice-principal Bian Zhongyun on June 21 at which all students attended. According to the working group’s record of July 3, 1966, the group put two out of six leading cadres of this school into category IV (the worst one), two in category III, and two in category II. Some teachers, unable to bear the pressure and insults, committed suicide.

When their parents were denounced by the new student organizations, the Red Guards fell victim to the movement that they had started. However, the decline of the original Red Guards did not mean the end of the philosophy of violent attacks. On the contrary, the massive violent persecution that the Red Guards promoted in the so-called “Red August” (紅八月) period of 1966 continued in the following years. In late 1966 and 1967, students in the mass organizations that had dominant status during that period physically attacked the “capitalistroaders with powerful positions in the party.” For example, students beat Peng Dehuai (彭德 懷), the former defense minister, at the “struggle meeting” in Beijing in July of 1967. Two of Peng’s ribs were broken during the beating.47

On June 18, 1968, at Beijing University, about two hundred teachers and cadres, who had been imprisoned on campus for months, were beaten and tortured in very brutal ways during a school-wide action. This date was chosen to celebrate the violent event that had occurred two years previous, on June 18 of 1966, mentioned twice above. In the attack of June 18, 1968, more educators were beaten more viciously than in the previous attack of June 18, 1966. From 1966 to 1968, it was in part this increasing violent persecution that fueled enthusiasm for the Cultural Revolution.

Cultural Tyranny Continues in 2020 China

The present direction in China is not encouraging as reported at Reuters(Beijing) by Huizhong Wu In echo of Mao era, China’s schools in book-cleansing drive. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

As schools reopened in China after the COVID-19 outbreak, they have thrown themselves into a nationwide exercise to remove books deemed politically incorrect, deepening Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push to instill patriotism and ideological purity in the education system.

A directive from the Ministry of Education last October called on elementary and middle schools to clear out books from their libraries including “illegal” and “inappropriate” works. Now teachers have removed books from schools in at least 30 of mainland China’s 33 provinces and municipalities, according to a Reuters review of social media posts, publicly available school and local government documents, and interviews with teachers.

From western Gansu province to Shanghai, the review of publicly announced measures pointed to books being cleared by the hundreds of thousands.

Censorship in China has been intensifying under Xi, but analysts say this is the first national campaign aimed at libraries in decades. It comes as government employees in Hong Kong last week removed books by pro-democracy activists from public libraries to see whether they violate a new national security law.

“This is the first movement targeted at libraries since the Cultural Revolution,” said Wu Qiang, a political analyst based in Beijing and former political science lecturer at Tsinghua University. In the late 1960s, zealous teenagers driven by Mao Zedong carried out a nationwide campaign targeting libraries and destroying or burning what they could get their hands on, as part of a wider destruction of traditional culture.

My Comment

An old Soviet joke has an university professor of history addressing his students at the end of the term. “Regarding the final exam, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that all the the questions are the same as last year. The bad news: Some of the correct answers have changed.”

The story was shared among the proles as an example of the slogan of the times: The future is certain; only the past keeps changing. I never thought we’d see such thought control appearing in Western democracies in the 21st century. But here it is, demonstrated by the 1619 project promoted by the New York Times, former newspaper of record in the USA. Further the Red Guard, now wearing Black, are roaming and destroying monuments honoring heroes of the past, who though flawed paved the way for our freedoms and prosperity. People guilty of wrongthink are insulted, their reputations denigrated and driven from their livelihoods, just a shade from beatings and murders.

Of course there are differences in 2020 USA from 1966 China. The charismatic Mao called the shots for the purge of dissenters in China, while the woke leadership is more diffuse and hides behind names like “Sunrise Movement.”. “Black Lives Matter,” and “Anti-Fascists.” Clearly the media are broadcasting the “Resistance” playbook, but the directors and financiers are in the shadows. The slow-moving coup is reaching a crescendo, but the citizenry still have a choice to be heard.

Footnote: Summary from the UK Essay at the top

While the drastic educational reform measures have given peasants opportunities to attain basic education in rural areas, as well as agricultural production and political gains, it naturally came with lasting negative impacts that promoted many post-modernist’s critiques. In the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, values like collaboration, diligence, modesty, and respect for elders and teachers were discarded as a result of the purge of the old Chinese cultures and traditions. Many have failed to retain the virtues during the revolution. Second, due to political struggle and line drawn between working classes and intellectuals, as well as political and violent nature of the social revolution, substantial innocent teachers and professionals were subjected to personal attacks and humiliation, some even executed. Third, specific strategies of the reformed curriculum and examination system proved to be misguided and wasted the schooling of many young people. The disconnection between academic achievement and students’ future career, the emphasis on political correctness over academic achievement, and the neglecting of theory learning and over-emphasis on hands-on experiences were all examples of poor decisions. Fourth, the Cultural Revolution both liberated students and dominated them. It liberated students and people because it opened their eyes to the inequality existing in education and society; However, it imposed political control and dominated them because it did not allow real democratic, independent and critical thinking ability.[12] As Freire (1970) put it, “If teachers help students from oppressed communities to read the word but do not also teach them to read the world, students might become literate in a technical sense but will remain passive objects of history rather than active subjects.”

See Also Modern Educayshun

Bari Weiss Resigns from NYT

For a thorough understanding of what is wrong with US media, read this resignation letter by Bari Weiss. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Dear A.G.,

It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times.

I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.

I was honored to be part of that effort, led by James Bennet. I am proud of my work as a writer and as an editor. Among those I helped bring to our pages: the Venezuelan dissident Wuilly Arteaga; the Iranian chess champion Dorsa Derakhshani; and the Hong Kong Christian democrat Derek Lam. Also: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, Zaina Arafat, Elna Baker, Rachael Denhollander, Matti Friedman, Nick Gillespie, Heather Heying, Randall Kennedy, Julius Krein, Monica Lewinsky, Glenn Loury, Jesse Singal, Ali Soufan, Chloe Valdary, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Wesley Yang, and many others.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned.

Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.

There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong.

I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage.

Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.

Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.

It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed “fell short of our standards.” We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it “failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history.” But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati.

The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? Perhaps because they believe the ultimate goal is righteous. Perhaps because they believe that they will be granted protection if they nod along as the coin of our realm—language—is degraded in service to an ever-shifting laundry list of right causes. Perhaps because there are millions of unemployed people in this country and they feel lucky to have a job in a contracting industry.

Or perhaps it is because they know that, nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the “new McCarthyism” that has taken root at the paper of record.

All this bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

For these young writers and editors, there is one consolation. As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere. I hear from these people every day. “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal,” you said a few years ago. I couldn’t agree more. America is a great country that deserves a great newspaper.

None of this means that some of the most talented journalists in the world don’t still labor for this newspaper. They do, which is what makes the illiberal environment especially heartbreaking. I will be, as ever, a dedicated reader of their work. But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them.

Sincerely,

Bari

Addendum:  Some more words of wisdom from Jason Whitlock (he’s on the left)

The theory driving the importance of a “a free press” is that journalists will deliver truthful information to the public and the public will make good decisions based on that information.

Feed the public social media-friendly, clickbait narrative lies disguised as racial-justice truth and you provoke the kind of unrest currently sweeping this nation. Media black lies matter. They agitate old wounds, sow discord and distrust, undermine patriotism and prevent us from addressing real problems.

The annual murder of thousands of black men is a legitimate problem. Social media has us fixated on the annual murder of a half dozen. Black lies matter, especially when they’re used to conceal a political agenda detached from the advancement of freedom.

Journalists should not be political partisans. We’re supposed to be arbiters and discoverers of truth. Nothing in Sen. Hawley’s email should’ve triggered Wojnarowski. Nothing in Woj’s two-word rebuke should’ve triggered other journalists to support him.

Under the pretense of resisting the Trump presidency, journalists joined the mob and dropped their ethics. We became everything we accuse the president of being. Rude, emotional, arrogant, irrational, dishonest, vain, racist, elitist and obsessed with our social media feeds.

There is no lie we won’t tell in pursuit of smearing President Trump. The Resistance acts as religion, washing away the sins of its congregants and labeling non-believers as heathens unworthy of America’s kingdom.

But President Trump is merely a smokescreen, a beard justifying the mob’s dismantling of truth and destruction of freedom. The enemies of the American way use the Orange Man as bait for the abandonment of our founding values, principles and pillars —Jesus and Journalism, the belief in the liberating power of truth.

In rejecting those values, we also must reject and demonize the founders of this country. Their flaws nullify their truths, good works and all the documents they created that led to a level of freedom envied by the world. The revision of history and establishment of a new worldview requires an evisceration of the historymakers who valued religion and a search for truth above all else.