Use your inside scream

“Visitors to Japan’s amusement parks are being asked not to scream when riding roller coasters so as to help prevent spreading the coronavirus, while the limited numbers of football fans allowed into stadiums this weekend will have to support their teams without singing, clapping or waving scarves. When the Fuji-Q Highland theme park reopened on 1 June after a three-month closure due to the pandemic, it asked visitors to follow the recommendations of the amusement park association and not to shout or scream. Some customers complained it was impossible to stay quiet on rides, particularly the two-kilometre-long Fujiyama roller coaster, which reaches speeds of 130km/h and drops 70 metres at one point. Named after nearby Mount Fuji, the roller coaster was the fastest and tallest in the world when it opened in 1996. In response, the park released a video of two stony-faced senior executives riding Fujiyama without uttering a peep, urging visitors to imitate them and ‘Keep your screams inside.'” The Guardian

“The biggest change to American society over the past 50 years has been the death of the middle class. This used to be the middle-class country. It is not anymore. Most of the population has become poorer in real terms while a shrinking number of people controlling the ever expanding percentage of the wealth. That means that fewer Americans overall have a meaningful stake in society. And more are dependent. That makes the country much more volatile than it once was.These riots really shouldn’t surprise you. It is hard to know exactly who is responsible for these sad changes to America, but it is easy to see who is benefiting from them. They are the same people lecturing you about white privilege and systemic racism.This isn’t accidental. CitiBank is happy to put Black Lives Matter logos on their Instagram page precisely so you won’t ask what interest rates they are charging black people. If you really cared about the poor, you wouldn’t crush them with debt they can’t afford to. Of course if you really cared about black lives, you wouldn’t put abortion clinics in black neighborhoods but they do.” Tucker Carlson

“The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories, rather than economic equity and real justice.” Malcolm X

“It was always a given that 2020 would be a year to remember. Even so, it continues to surprise. It seems likely that June will go down as one of the pivotal months of our political era, a period when our streets, our press, and some of our major institutions were rocked by the force of progressive identity politics. Conversations over the implications of all that’s happened in recent weeks will continue for some time. One of the more active debates is whether our recent social controversies should be seen as further evidence for the advent of what the writer Wesley Yang has called a “successor ideology” that might supplant liberalism altogether.This was the conclusion of an essay on upheaval in the media from journalist Matt Taibbi. ‘The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation,’ he wrote. ‘They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.’ In another recent essay, New York’s Andrew Sullivan charged that progressives now believe ‘the liberal system is itself a form of white supremacy’ and that ‘liberalism’s core values and institutions cannot be reformed and can only be dismantled.’ Versions of this argument have been circulating for over half a decade now. In a 2015 piece, New York’s Jonathan Chait warned readers to take a series of then-recent campus controversies seriously. ‘The upsurge of political correctness is not just greasy-kid stuff, and it’s not just a bunch of weird, unfortunate events that somehow keep happening over and over,’ he wrote. ‘It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. ‘Now, it really would be quite remarkable if American students and activists had, within the space of five or so years, constructed or wandered into a real and novel alternative to the dominant political ideology of the last few centuries. But they haven’t. The tensions we’ve seen lately have been internal to liberalism for ages: between those who take the associative nature of liberal society seriously and those who are determined not to. It is the former group, the defenders of progressive identity politics, who in fact are protecting—indeed expanding—the bounds of liberalism. And it is the latter group, the reactionaries, who are most guilty of the illiberalism they claim has overtaken the American Left.” Osita Nwanevu

“In every change there will be many that suffer real or imaginary grievances, and therefore many will be disillusioned.” Dr. Johnson

‘Trigger’ meant something very different to Roy Rogers

This was the week where it became obvious that if you wear your mask or neck scarf for any length of time it will always smell like yestreday’s lunch.

Damn right I’m wearing a mask.

Real or not real I’m not taking any chances because the clouds have parted and down from high Olympus came Alan Jeffs who helped prove something I said years ago and I need to carry on to soak up all this I-told-you-so.

Even though Sasha Baron Cohen stopped by the Big Damp Woods recently his performance did not do much for me. Don’t get me wrong – I find him funny, but funny in a slapstick way – as if he hit your cherished values in the face with a pie. The difference here is that Jeffs is a sly motherfucker, sly to the point that he flirts with being a Jungian trickster.

How did he achieve this lofty status?

Last weekend he got the boog squad’s in a wad by relentless posting to social media a claim that there was going to be a massive flag burning ceremony at the Gettysburg National Military Park on the Fourth of July.

From that newspaper you don’t like –

For weeks, a mysterious figure on social media talked up plans for antifa protesters to converge on this historical site on Independence Day to burn American flags, an event that seemed at times to border on the farcical.

“Let’s get together and burn flags in protest of thugs and animals in blue,” the anonymous person behind a Facebook page called Left Behind USA wrote in mid-June. There would be antifa face paint, the person wrote, and organizers would “be giving away free small flags to children to safely throw into the fire.”

As word spread, self-proclaimed militias, bikers, skinheads and far-right groups from outside the state issued a call to action, pledging in online videos and posts to come to Gettysburg to protect the Civil War monuments and the nation’s flag from desecration. Some said they would bring firearms and use force if necessary.

On Saturday afternoon, in the hours before the flag burning was to start, they flooded in by the hundreds — heavily armed and unaware, it seemed, that the mysterious Internet poster was not who the person claimed to be.

Biographical details — some from the person’s Facebook page and others provided to The Washington Post in a series of messages — did not match official records. An image the person once posted on a profile page was a picture of a man taken by a German photographer for a stock photo service.

The episode at Gettysburg is a stark illustration of how shadowy figures on social media have stoked fears about the protests against racial injustice and excessive police force that have swept across the nation since the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.

And you really gotta give it up for Jeffs’ posters.

A few years back I made the point that what most people commonly refer to as “divisiveness” stems from the fact that we all prefer pre-fab points of view. At the time I said it was like getting an app for your phone – which app depends on which phone you have. You didn’t have to really come up with anything on your own, you just run your greasy finger around a few times and, as Mr. Vonnegut would say, “HEY Presto!” it’s all taken care of.

Got to thinking about this as the Laird of the Orange Grove sent two articles by Jason D. Hill.

In one Mr. Hill writes –

In the calls to “decolonize” course syllabi on campus colleges we see a perversion of any fight against legitimate racism. There is now momentum on college campuses to decolonize the syllabi of courses populated with canonical texts written by white (usually) male scholars, writers and thinkers. If one can indiscriminately attack and vandalize the statues of slave abolitionists, cultural heroes and fighters for racial equality like Winston Churchill, David Farragut, Matthias Baldwin, and Abraham Lincoln, then one can equally imagine the deranged amoral imagination of educators calling for course syllabi to be expunged of male white canonical figures. Nowhere can it be imagined that the moral and emancipatory vocabularies for oppression could ever have arisen from some of these canonical figures such as John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Thomas Paine, Hugo Grotius, Charles Dickens, and even Aristotle.

I myself was shocked when I received an email from my home institution apprising me of a workshop that had as one of many programs on its agenda the business of “decolonize that syllabus.” The reasoning is predicated on misguided social engineering. This is not a matter of diversifying the syllabus. It means literally divesting it of all white canonical figures who are presumed to be racist because they are white and who wrote during particular historical epochs that did not celebrate black agency. I leave aside the obvious malarkey of such reasoning which is putatively obvious and emphasize a point I have made in previous essays: our universities have ceased to be bastions of learning and have become national security threats, purveyors themselves not just of inverse racism, but educational tropes of cultural Marxism where hatred of America and the most ameliorative aspects of America’s civilization are presented as part of the systemic and endemic problem.

What we are witnessing in the ascendancy of the culture wars whether in certain segments in the streets, or, in virtually all domains of our educational systems is virulent nihilism predicated on an axis of moral and cultural relativism.

While I don’t doubt Mr. Hill’s sincerity it’s hard to miss the simple fact that he’s using the right vocabulary for someone wanting to establish his credentials as a publishable pundit. It’s less what he said than how he said it. His articles brought back a point made in 2013 about tech writers which I believe very much applies to Mr. Hill.

(Jeff) Jarvis’s two books, in contrast, are branding exercises, ritual objects of exchange, not meant to introduce new insights so much as certify that the author occupies the role of the published guru. In Public Parts, Jarvis thanks entrepreneur Seth Godin for having encouraged him to become an author, recounting how Godin told him that he would be “a fool” not to write a book, and a bigger fool if he “thought the book was the goal.” Instead, the book should “build [Jarvis’s] public reputation, which would lead to other business.” And it has done just that. While Jarvis’s first book sold reasonably well, its royalties were almost certainly dwarfed by other sources of income—he claims that he requires up to $45,000 for a speaking engagement.

Unsurprisingly, the books are neither interesting nor good. Jarvis is a technology intellectual only in the sense that he fills a particular sociological niche. Overly provocative ideas would tarnish his brand. His books repackage the technology industry’s intellectual prejudices and sell them back, all the while highlighting the author’s many influential friends and the multitudes of important people who take him seriously. Like Randall Jarrell’s President Robbins, Jarvis is so well attuned to his environment that sometimes you cannot tell which is the environment and which is Jarvis.

Supposedly Jeff Jarvis is a respected media pundit for reasons I cannot explain.

Despite expecting different outcomes, both Hill and Jeffs performed the same task.

They used all the correct words in perfect order.

If there’s anything to take away from this it really has nothing to do with the Boogers who showed up at Gettysburg. Rather it should be a cautionary tale for those people who are always trying to “own the libs.” If we are moving to not only having different points of view and radically different words to describe them then it’s going be damn near impossible to do much owning if we fail to have a shared vocabulary.

Ice cream, Fountain Drinks, Sundries, and Notions

Some desk clearing –

– At Christmas dinner Alaska Wolf said Tucker Carlson is as concerned with class as a French Marxist and the NYT has become an isolated form of information that appeals to a smaller and smaller group of people. I was going to make the point that it still serves as the conservative movement’s major irritant until I caught my self and remembered that the title of ‘Major Irritant’ has moved on to the WaPo. So, like this elders, he’s taking a victory lap for seeing that one coming. As we speak what’s been called the entertainment wing of the GOP is victorious, but how long can you coast on the various tropes, agit-prop slogans, and outrage that powers that worldview?

– A whole mess of double domes and pointy heads signed onto a letter published in Harper’s this week. Not sure what to make of it other than the elders are trying to tell the kids to get off their respective lawns.

– Also worth noting from the article by Osita Nwanevu linked above.

As such, leftists are the very last people who need to be reminded that corporate P.R. is just P.R.; press releases are not actually going to satisfy those intent on fully remaking the economy, and socialists who take the concerns motivating Black Lives Matter seriously have been among the strongest critics of what some have called the “anti-racism industry” that suggests inequality can be remedied primarily by self-help—the nicer side of the same small coin as grin-and-bear-it individualism. That realm of discourse ⁠can be challenged without belittling underrepresentation and personal indignities or denying that they can have material consequences.

As we work through what to make of the successes of progressive identity politics, we shouldn’t forget that progressive identity politics were not supposed to succeed. Not long ago, critics predicted that as legitimate as the core grievances motivating activists were, dust-ups on campus, rhetoric condemning “white supremacy,” and property destruction accompanying protests against police violence would ultimately alienate the broader public and prevent ordinary people from joining identity political causes. It is empirically plain now that these arguments were wrong and that the past several years of activism have produced a large and rapid positive shift in American public opinion. We will spend many years working through how it happened, but one factor already seems crucial: The critics of progressive identity politics were not only unpersuasive but fundamentally uninterested in persuasion. Even now, white liberals sympathetic to Black Lives Matter are disdained and mocked, and those most committed to denouncing the zealous rhetoric of progressive activists have never paused to assess the effectiveness of their own histrionics.

The failure of these critics has only deepened their sense of themselves as martyrs⁠—the last disciples of the one, true liberalism, who will be vindicated once a grand backlash against progressives finally arrives. There are good reasons to believe it won’t: Cultural antagonism on the right will continue to drive middle-of-the road Americans away, and progressive millennials and Gen-Zers will continue aging into the center of American politics and American life. But for all the positive changes we’ve seen and will continue to see in the consciousness of the American people, progressives are still far from being able to declare victory. The material work of creating a just society has barely begun.

That might explain the letter to Harper’s better than I ever could.

– The last post mentioned Matt Taibbi’s sputtering, ill-edited piece from a couple of weeks ago. This week he started a Twitter kerfuffle by coughing up his hairball once more for the Chapo Trap House podcast. In true blogging style I have not listened to the podcast which means I should be able to run out six to eight paragraphs on something about which I have no idea.

My guess?

Even spoken out loud – his thoughts come off like a tangle of wires and can be readily seized upon by any number of people.

Not that it’s been a good week for the Chapo boys as Reddit tossed ’em off the site. I tried listening to their podcast a couple of years ago, but each time I fired it up the podcast played for a few minutes and then restarted. If they said anything of note after three minutes there was no way to find out.

– This post means that I still haven’t been able to bring your PDF (Paranoid Delusion Fantasy) up to the current version nor has there been any prose on the every few decade swings in American politics. Never mind that I’m still chewing on some ideas about community and identity politics after a different email exchange with the Laird of the Orange Grove. One of these days I swear I’ll get around to all that.

Join us then, won’t you?

Gotta stop here to work on something. Our neighbor who has no end of nervous energy is attempting to set some sort of record for how many power tools one man can use in an afternoon. We’ll be returning the favor around dinner time when we point the speakers in his direction so he might be better able to hear a generous selection of Scandinavian death metal and selections from the five hours of Rammstein remixes Spotify sent out last week.

Until then practice your silent scream