All posts filed under: Politics

Free Speech and the Regressive Left — the Road Back to Reason

What’s a peeved leftist to do when ill-considered aspects of his creed so undermine his candidate’s credibility that the candidate loses the most consequential presidential election in history? Why, vent his frustration on those of his fellows who tried to set him straight! With the recent inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, progressives need to pause, take a deep breath, assess the peril facing the republic — indeed, the West as a whole, even the planet — and find a basis for common ground that will permit the formation of an effective opposition. We should recall that the White House is now more powerful than ever; Obama signed almost as many executive orders (279) as his predecessor (291). Executive overreach, pursued by presidents of both parties, seeks to thwart the constitutional checks and balances that prevent rule by fiat and, thus, the potential for tyranny. With Trump, the danger is especially acute and grows more apparent by the hour. Now is not the time for those on the left, however upset they may be, to vent and …

The Berkeley Riots and the Tyranny of the Righteous Minority

This is what happened, for the uninitiated. Donald Trump’s Brit cheerleader, self proclaimed supervillain and “dangerous faggot,” agent provocateur Milo had a talk scheduled in Berkeley, the once proud bastion of liberal thought and free speech, the place where the free speech movement and the Anti-Vietnam movement started in 1968. His speech was cancelled after volatile rioting broke out. Arguably, the last eight years under Obama, as I mentioned in an earlier column, have been the most divisive since late Nixon’s Presidency. The President’s office has not been neutral, they have actively put fuel on the fire, with absurd demands of universities to uphold Title IX over and above other considerations, such the First Amendment. What has been unfolding on U.S. campuses — no platforming, race baiting, and outright censorship — has been left to spiral out of control while all the adults in these situations seem to have completely abdicated all responsibility. Unfortunately for these radicals, however, Trump has come along and shattered their sense of power. And he has support in actual working-class America. What …

Feminism Needs to Talk About Responsibility — Not Just Rights

At the age of 47 I suffered what I now like to think of as “The Year of Living Stupidly.” Unlike Sigourney Weaver in the film that inspired me, I did not live dangerously, although there was certainly a lot of drama. That was the year I suffered my last serious crush. The man was a volunteer at an organisation I feel passionately about. He was also an artist and writer, a fellow seeker in the creative arts. He was also a schmuck, although it took me almost a year to see that. My knowledge of unruly passions, which I joyously cover in my poetry classes, did give me some insight into my condition. However, managing it outside the classroom was something else entirely. I’m bringing that year out of the darkness and into the light because it’s time for the conversation around women’s rights and responsibilities to change. It’s especially time for those of us who can claim elder feminist statesmanship to ask tough questions of younger women who are dragging bewildered men into court, all in the name of micro-regulating the sex …

Conservatives Are Politically Correct, Too

As the majority of Americans and the world at large hunkers down for a Trump presidency, many commentators have blamed his rise to power on a backlash against unchecked political correctness. Of course, those who voted for the now-45th President despite his antics are solely responsible for their decision — and will likely have a lot of explaining to do over the next four to eight years — but the criticism of political correctness among the left should not be dismissed, whether or not it really did drive people to elect the billionaire last November. The phenomenon threatens the academic environment on college campuses and may be actively harming students’ mental health. It often breeds hostility that prevents the frank discussion of important ideas like human nature, innate differences between men and women, and the role of Islam in acts of terrorism. And it fosters a divisive political climate that polarizes rather than compromises. The result, predictably, is that too many not-so-savory characters are permitted — if not outright encouraged — to relinquish their inhibitions …

Diversity for the Sake of Democracy

“Stand up if you identify as Caucasian.” The minister’s voice was solemn. I paused so that I wouldn’t be the first one standing, and then slowly rose to my feet. “Look at your community,” he said. I glanced around the auditorium obediently. The other students looked as uncomfortable as I felt, and as white. ¨Thank you,” the minister said finally. After we sat down, he went on to repeat the exercise for over an hour with different adjectives in place of “Caucasian”: black, wealthy, first-generation, socially conservative. Each time he introduced a new label, he paused so that a new group of students could stand and take note of one another. By the time he was finished, every member of Princeton University’s freshman class had been branded with a demographic. This mandatory orientation event was designed to help us appreciate our diversity as a student body during the first week of classes. But what did it really accomplish? In compressing us into isolated communities based on our race, religion or gender, the minister belittled every …

The New Trump-ian Order

It is exhausting to write similar ledes but the subject demands special attention. The world has entered a new era, a pole was switched almost overnight, and a completely different order than the one that was followed since 1945, is upon us. The best way to know what’s coming in front of us, is by having an open and skeptical mind, particularly towards the conventional wisdom which is now emanating from the mainstream commerical media. Unfortunately, the reactions in the last couple of days, and the hysteria which seems to be the natural state of Western politics is evidence enough that the “anti-Trump/anti-Brexit” liberals are now determined to take the completely wrong and ahistorical lessons from 2016. The liberal reaction of Trump’s win is one of brokenness and despair, but worse than that, it is an open season of fake expertise and fairly straightforward misrepresentation. David Frum, editor of Atlantic, tweeted that Trump is the worst President in the history of US, including those who owned slaves. Susan Hennessey, editor of Lawfare and former NSA …

Trump, NATO and the Persistent Myths of International Relations

There’s a German word, which is useful to explain what I, and other political realists felt, after Donald Trump gave his first ever interview as PEOTUS to a British newspaper. Of course, the liberal Twitterati exploded. And yes the word is, as some of you might have guessed, schadenfreude. Most of us are not Trump supporters or fans, nor do we consider Trump to be an elegant statesman or practitioner of realpolitik. But his statements were inevitable and predicatable for anyone — barring the diehard liberal ideologues. The apparent breaking point for the Twitterati was reached when Trump called Merkel’s open gate foreign policy a catastrophe, openly siding with UK against EU with regards to Brexit, and trashing NATO as a Byzantine bureaucracy, calling it “obsolete”. How dare Trump criticise the quite obviously flawed and stagnating liberal global order? The global order paid for and secured by American taxpayers, mind you, and managed by terminally incompetent technocrats, adhering to a radical universalist ideology. How dare he invite the rage of the Davos men (as Samuel …

Attack of the Offendotrons: Tyranny of the Flash Mob

It’s impossible to ignore the story of Greig Tonkins, the Taronga Park zookeeper who punched a giant roo to save his dog. However, the aftermath — where animal activists and offendotrons of various stripes mobbed him and tried to get him sacked, ultimately necessitating police involvement — was, if anything, more extraordinary. These days, it seems people will be sacked from their job — with their life and that of their family ruined — if they do something a big enough and loud enough mob doesn’t like. Somehow, we’ve decided it’s reasonable to consign people to unemployment and poverty over trivialities: how a zookeeper spends his weekends, dressing in bad taste, donations to a charity considered non-U in certain parts. Maybe it’s because tarring and feathering is illegal. We seem to have forgotten that employees are allowed to be ‘ordinary members of the public’ — people are not automatons and not the property of their employers. One of the union movement’s achievements was preventing employers from policing their employees’ extracurricular activities, as long as those activities were legal. Granted, there are …

Reassessing Cultural Divisions in the United States

If there was any doubt before, this election cycle brought home how divided the U.S. is on issues of national identity. It also brought political and cultural tensions to the surface, displayed in acts of outrage and the strident expressions of the partisans of different views. Old ways of dividing the social landscape no longer apply, and some of the events of the last few years are so bizarre it is difficult to believe, had they been scripted as a movie, the plot could have been pitched as anything other than satire even five years ago. Yet this is the world we wake up to every day. Consider arch-progressive Michael Moore’s resounding expression of the popular sentiment in support of Trump, or the fact that we now have a president-elect that was once used as a throw-away joke on the Simpsons in 2000, someone who retweets his fans’ remarks, and who campaigned in large part on his business acumen while his business life reads like the scandalous decline of a B-grade Hollywood starlet. This is …

The Blank Slateism of the Right

“What a piece of work is a man!” Hamlet exclaimed. What indeed? Something less than God. Something more than dust. But what else can be said has remained controversial. There is an idea that human nature is a “blank slate,” a tabula rasa, free of inherited content, on which education and experience leave their marks. This idea, found in the work of progressive philosophers like John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, suggests that we are wholly or mostly the products of our environments. This concept is central to left-wing belief regarding unequal societies and the almost unlimited potential of mankind if we escape what Marx and Engels called our “chains”. This belief has been extensively discredited, first by observation and now, increasingly, by science. Steven Pinker summarised the genetic and psychometric research that documents the scale of our inherited characteristics in his 2002 book The Blank Slate, which has since been updated in 2016. Some of this research is unsurprising. No one would maintain that if they had worked out more in the gym and eaten fewer hamburgers they could …