Friday, July 21, 2017

It's getting ugly out there

I don’t know where I am on the political spectrum—I don’t fit anywhere on the traditional 1D left-to-right line. In the last election, I didn’t vote (Thank you God, that Trump lost Virginia anyway)—there was no major or third party candidate that could inspire me enough to walk (I’m that close) to the polling location. In fact, politics no longer interests me—and primarily I blame the misadventures of the Religious Right and their takeover of the Republican Party. Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Agee, Rick Warren—I literally blame everything wrong with politics on the likes of you—terrible developments that are either a direct result of your shenanigans or were unwelcome gifts born as reactions to your follies. You abdicated your duty, which was to preach the gospel, in a lust for power. It backfired and caused systemic damage. Shame on all of you.

But recently I have been paying attention to something interesting. The latest vicious take-no-prisoners internecine war is not between (nearly if not totally extinct) secular Republicans (where is the next Goldwater?) and the Religious Right, but between liberals/atheists and some hideous postmodern illiberal mutation available in several overlapping flavors: social justice warriors, third wave feminists, antifa, etc.

The now suddenly “how quaint” liberals/atheists, such As Dawkins, Harris, Coyne et. al.  are in a soul-war with slovenly, violent, authoritarian know-nothings. And the old-school liberals appear to be losing. And the amazing thing is that they share 99.43% of their political DNA with the group that is cannibalizing them.

Among liberals, it is really some kind of Clockwork Orange dystopian future where complete dumbasses are taking command and imposing dogma and speech patterns. Those traditional liberals disagreeing with the tiniest aspect of their orthodoxy—or of misusing terminology (the stress of making sure you know the right pronoun to use in all circumstances must be, for some, overwhelming) are Nazis, fascists, rape apologists, racists, bigots, Islamophopes, homophobes, transphobes, etc. Even though they bear no resemblance to actual Nazis, fascists, ... whatever. And,  but the way, it is considered quite acceptable to punch them, literally, because they are Nazis and who wouldn't punch a Nazi?

1984 style double-speak is the lingua franca of this group.

For example, one of the respected illiberal leaders is Linda Sarsour. She is supposedly a feminist. However, she is also a bully and an apologist for radical Islam. A feminist who argues that “it’s not so bad for women in the Islamic world”. Who argues that women (ex-Moslems!) who disagree and have the audacity to discuss misogyny in the Islamic world don’t deserve to be women and should have their vaginas taken away.

Who is this Ayaan Hirsi Ali whose vagina Sarsour wants to remove? From wikipedia:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, and former Dutch politician. She actively opposes honor violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
That's right, she's obviously an Islamophobe for opposing child marriage, honor violence, and female genital mutilation.

I don’t fully appreciate the dynamic. I think it is close to this: people like Sarsour (being gracious and stipulating for argument's sake that she is not a garden-variety charlatan milking a niche notoriety) cannot integrate ideas that, at times, are in tension. They lack this ability, crucial for critical thinking, so they simply avoid the tension by going into denial about one of the ideas. They react to an increased anti-immigration sentiment (which is certainly reasonable to oppose) by becoming apologists for the characteristics of Islam (such as misogyny) that they should also be opposing—presumably because they cannot simultaneously favor increased immigration while acknowledging negative features of Islam. They are incapable of what their smarter relatives (the traditional liberals) can handle easily—or at least successfully.

They (the illiberal mutations) claim to support free speech (which they certainly do not) while shutting down those who are guilty of hate-speech (which they get to define.) For some of us (strong free speech supporters) that would be wrong even if there was actual hate speech involved. But “hate speech” to this nascent species is, as you probably know, “speech we disagree with, or speech from anyone who has ever said, wrote, blogged, or tweeted something that is offensive to any of the in-crowd who says it is offensive.”

Case in point, Richard Dawkins. (For a fuller treatment, see Coyne's blog.)

Richard Dawkins has been disinvited from a talk he was to deliver at Berkeley. Berkeley, which birthed the free speech movement, has committed infanticide. Dawkins’ unpardonable sin: some tweets are, to someone who matters, offensive to Islam. (Dawkins is equal opportunity in his anti-religion writings. He goes after all the major religions. But only his criticism of Islam is offensive. If he had only limited his attacks to Christianity and Judaism all would be good.) 

Here is what the illiberal cowards at radio station KPFA, sponsors of the Dawkins event, wrote:
We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people. KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. 
 Doublespeak emphasis added.

This is not isolated. Across the country free speech is under attack by regressive illiberal thugs. 

Conservatives: do not treat this as a popcorn event—let’s watch the left eat its own! Instead you should be afraid. Very afraid.

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