Archives for category: Twitter
A doctored photo of Hitler, by the way.
He was not holding a Bible in the original photo.

The willingness — actually, eagerness — to equate Trump with Hitler is amusing. Folks have a fantasy life far stronger than their waking life rationality. Hollywood twitterers like Debra Messing, especially.

That being said, all political leaders have a little Hitler in them. The Führerprinzip is one entelechy among several. Trick is: don’t allow the Inner Hitler to dominate. And the other trick is: do not set up situations where our leaders feel compelled to let out their Inner Hitlers.

One of those situations is mass street violence.

Don’t be idiots, “protesters”! Only you can turn Trump into Hitler.

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When you are in a cult, its dogmas seem like Truth and its rites seem Profound.

Outside it? They seem stupid: full of falsity and triviality and gaucherie.

Human beings aren’t handling modernist secularism very well. So the postmodern response has been to replace religion (which educated folks generally think quite stupid) with politics.

But not just any politics — a cultish, ludicrous statism, swapping nearly every feature of the west’s dominant religion, Christianity, with some brummagem analog. But it has obvious spiritual consequences, as it must, it exhibiting itself in the acolyte as a personal and quite strident commitment to an ideology with enough internal contradictions to make the doctrine of the Trinity the very acme of Aristotelian clarity,

Libertarians have been talking about this for years. Calling statism a religion and progressivism a cult is something my friends and I have been doing since . . . well, how long, exactly? Decades, for me, since I first walked into a rented house in north Portland, Oregon, and was greeted by Tonie Nathan, the first woman to receive an Electoral College vote, rogue as it was, and introduced me around to the very smart people milling about talking about the complexities of the simple system of natural liberty.

Regardless of who makes the case, Michael Tracey or a myriad libertarians, the charge sticks.

But this is not exactly a happy judgment. Replacing God with the State and Sin with Racism has sad aspects. The saddest may be that self-righteousness has not been replaced, but doubled down upon.

Or, worse yet, group-righteousness. You can see it in the glare of the eyes as refracted in the spittle on the lips of people who, just a week before, screamed at us heathens for not wearing masks.

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The leftist definition of fascism — corporate take-over and tyranny — has been enacted not by self-professed fascists, or the Alt-Right, or Donald J. Trump, but by leftists themselves.

For years leftists told libertarians that corporate power could be suppressive, oppressive, tyrannical. Libertarians scoffed. Demanded evidence.

So leftists provided that evidence: they developed major social media (with a little help from the alphabet soup of U.S. “intelligence” agencies) and then used their leverage to censor information, inquiry and opinions that run counter to their narrative and party line. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter now routinely censor opinions on the coronavirus they (and the World Health Organization) don’t like. And more.

They proved their point. They became the oppressors they warned us about.

Libertarians lost the argument, and are doubly unhappy about it: they were proven wrong and they are oppressed. But leftists? Their win must be . . . bittersweet. I mean, to win by losing: by becoming the very thing you most hate!

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You see the most obvious typo: “by” when “buy” was meant.

Imagine a religion without beliefs, sans credo, but based upon mere suspicion.

Now consider environmentalism, the ideology in which what should be at best suspicions are held religiously as points of dogma.

Now, briefly to reïterate my long-standing position: anthropogenic global warming sure seems plausible. But that is mere suspicion. Beyond this suspicion, the “science” is all over the map. Sea levels have been rising steadily as measured on east and west coasts of North America since 1850 — long before the great releases of greenhouse gases from modern civilization. And if you look at reliable U.S. temperatures for the last 150 years, it is not at all evident that a general warming has occurred.

So, while there is room for suspicion regarding current and future climatic shifts of possible catastrophic proportions, there is not yet grounds for anything close to certainty.

Yet the dogma on the environmentalist left is clear.

How must we appraise this? Well, as always with religious people, it is by their fruits we shall know them. If they say our coasts are going to be under water in a few years — unless (of course) we act immediately in a massive and transformative way — then you would expect environmentalists to flock to the uplands. It sure is obvious that the “proper” transformative policies they demand are not being adopted.

Because environmentalists are not heading for the hills, I do not believe they really believe in their catastrophe scenarios. They are playing at belief.

Not as suspicion, but as fantasy.

I suspect they do this the better to hate on those who doubt. It is a proven “winning” religious strategy.

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A cove in Cape Disappointment.

“The world began to crumble,” wrote Ricky Gervais, “when feelings started overruling facts.”

This was on Twitter, of course, so we are not getting deep historical analysis, here. The point of the statement is not, really, to define the precise turning point towards our civilization’s decline. It was more rhetorical, a way of asserting objectivity as a foundational issue for civilized life. Further, Gervais (@rickygervais) is a comedian, so no matter how earnest he may be in expressing this thought, a reasonable person might have cause to wonder: maybe he was trolling. You know, to get a bite from an ideologue, thus setting up a joke.

Simon Jenkins (@SimonJenkins1) bit. “So are you like, a full-on right winger now?” Jenkins tweeted on the same day, August 5. “Because you must know the kinds of people this phrasing aligns you with.”

To be generous, we should identify the key to his inquiry in that word “phrasing.” Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) likes to say “facts don’t care about your feelings.” That is his phrasing of the idea. And I have heard others of an alleged rightwing viewpoint say similar things. With similar phrasings. So that is probably what triggered Mr. Jenkins. How awful of Gervais to have reasserted the hoary fact/value dichotomy in a Shapirovian way . . . and not like this: “The world began to crumble when our sense of reality was determined by axiological preferences rather than ontic persistence.” 

Of course Gervais would say no such thing. He’s a stand-up philosopher, not an academic one.

In any case, queried by Jenkins as to his disloyalty to leftist buzzwords and bugaboos, Gervais snapped back:

“I’m also a vegetarian. You know, like Hitler.”

Spot on. Hilarious. 

And Gervais’s retort got to the heart of where Jenkins went wrong — and where the left generally goes wrong.

Jenkins noticed that it is not uncommon to challenge leftists, these days, with the fact/value distinction in terms of fact/feeling, and when Gervais made the same critique without an explicit target, Jenkins assumed that Gervais was making an anti-leftist point. Or, much the same thing, he was worried that Gervais had succumbed to the temptation to join The Dark Side of the Force.

Gervais went on to remind his Twitter followers that he has opposed people typically thought of as “on the right” for running afoul of fact/feeling dichotomy. He is a notorious atheist, for example, and uses the lack of evidence for a Deity, and the scads of facts in support of evolution, as “facts” that trump religious folks’ hankerings — feelings, preferences — for God. 

Now, Gervais did slightly err in his longer response. Jenkins did ask a question, not conclude. But that mistake is no biggie, since even the suspicion of right-wingedness was lame. What Mr. Jenkins exhibits is hyper-sensitivity to his ideology, loyalty to his ideological group, which can be seen in a deep suspicion of anyone who won’t perform the precise pronunciations of his tribe’s shibboleths, or who dares echo the shibboleths of the other side.

It is pathetic.

It is typical of the marginalizer mindset, in which managing who is and is not in the in-group is always of paramount interest. More, anyway, than asserting a principle to live by.

For surely the principle of deciding questions of fact on the basis of reason and evidence rather than one’s fantasies and mental comfort is not partisan. I remember when anyone could make that appeal.

But because of a “phrasing,” one leftist derailed his mind.

This little exchange typifies how bad things are getting, culturally. Sure. But it is funny, how witless left-moralists have become. They cannot see the funny (and thus have ruined late-night chat shows) because they are picking at moral purity as defined not by their religion but by their political ideology. They cannot let themselves have a moraline-free moment — just the sort of stance I used to see among cultural conservatives in my youth. In this case, a follower of a comedian saw a principle in terms of party or ideological tribe rather than in epistemic terms. He immediately became defensive — thus adding weight to the common critique of modern leftism, that it is plagued by mushy, touchy-feely sentiment and soft-mindedness.

For his part, Mr. Jenkins was reflective about his “recent encounter” with Gervais. What is it, he asks, about dealing with famous people on Twitter? “Post something, get asked about it, then instead of engaging, let your droves of flying monkeys post waves of snarky gifs in your honor. A really one-sided platform.”

Well, it is a strange platform. I do not much care for it. (I think this blog automatically sends notices to my @wirkman Twitter account, though.) It is no place to engage in deep philosophical discussions.

But Jenkins, in this case, did not find himself unfairly snarked at, flying monkeys or no. At least by Gervais, whose actual engagement was all the engagement Jenkins’ query required.

I merely note it in passing. In case someone somewhere was at all confused about it. And also to put a name to a not uncommon skirmish in the culture wars.

twv

Stelter’s tweet is rather like Cain’s reply when asked where Abel was. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Well, Cain’s rhetorical question implies a truth: we are not our brothers’ keepers. But that was hardly the point, was it? Cain had murdered his brother. Cain used his rhetorical expression of a truth to conceal a crime. He had made himself the keeper, so the tale goes, of his brother’s corpse.

Just so, Brian Stelter — I would be tempted to call him the most witless man on television, except that he is on CNN and he is way down the line of nincompoopery — expresses a truth: one faked victimization event does not negate any other real crimes of a similar variety. But that is hardly the point, is it?

The reason we stick pols’ and journos’ noses into this foul fraud is that they fell for the hoax without questioning it — indeed, they fell all over themselves touting its cultural importance, as yet another example of their political opponents’ evil natures. When discovering that their celebrated cause was indeed a hoax — that their honored victim was a liar — they should have expressed shame, made an apology. Not a defensive excuse.

What the event revealed was that they, the major media and cultural and political elite, are themselves bigoted, racist and evil. Not their opponents.

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SarahSilverman


It may be the Age of Trump Tweets, but we can still count on the tribals of Hollywood to package hedonistic uplift as moralism. No matter how tasteless or pointless it may seem.

And from comedians? They can always pretend it is irony. Sarah Silverman, for example:

Sarah Silverman

Did Ms. Silverman say that to Harvey Weinstein?

The statement was made apropos of nothing as far as I can tell.

I know, I know: take a joke. Let it go. But I do think I understand Silverman’s shtick: say things so outrageously inappropriate the better to twist discomfort into laughter. Unfortunately, when she gets earnest-and-weird we never really know, do we? Her earnest breaches of manners and good taste seem indistinguishable from her ironic breaches of same. She can always proffer plausible deniability.

She always has cover. Her support of Bernie Sanders could have been one big jest, I suppose. It makes a kind of sense, since otherwise it was so senseless.

But during the Downfall of Harvey, it is hard not to read in some bizarre contexts to goofy-but-standard Hollywood sex-positive propaganda. And, come to think of it,* her oh-so-meta rape jape in The Aristocrats now takes on an even heavier, more disturbing tone than it seemed at first (deep) blush.

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* No, just don’t.