All posts filed under: Politics

Laci Green, The Matrix, and the Future of Free Speech

Earlier this week, popular YouTuber Laci Green, with almost 1.5 million subscribers, released a video entitled “Taking the Red Pill?” The “red pill,” obviously is an allusion to the famous 1999 film The Matrix, in which one of the lead characters, Morpheus, an infamous leader within the Matrix presents Neo, a hacker seeking to explore the Matrix, with two choices—taking the blue pill or the red pill. According to Morpheus, if Neo takes the blue pill, “you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” but if Neo picks the red pill, “I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Virtually everyone has seen The Matrix or has heard of the red pill meme; indeed, a Google search for red pill brings up almost 7 million results. However, what makes Green’s video particularly important and distinguishes it from the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of other banal red pill videos is the context around which Green’s red pilling has occurred. As Laci states at the very beginning of her video, …

Why We Should Stop Using the Term ‘Gender’

Likely, we’ve all noticed that within each of the two human sexes there is a range of phenotypes stretching from masculine to feminine. We have distinctly feminine men and distinctly masculine women. The precise recipe for these phenotypes remains unclear, though there seems to be some combination of genetics and in utero endocrinology at work, interacting with ecological conditions. Certainly, while cultural attitudes have played some role in suppressing or encouraging the display of these differences at various times and places, their foundation is partly biological. As soon as this is said, it must be acknowledged that this biological basis has not always had the degree of scientific evidence it does today, and there have long been people hostile to such biological explanations. The latter group were among those who latched onto the term “gender” to identify this sexual phenotypic diversity. One might ask what was wrong with the more precise “sexual phenotype diversity.” Well, certainly “gender” was shorter and catchier. What I’d suggest here, though, is that there was something more involved in this …

A Hundred Years of Communism

We must give the Bolsheviks their due. Their success in gaining power was astonishing. A ragtag gang of activists and intellectuals, they seized control of Russia in October, 1917, and defended their rule in a vicious, bloody civil war. No one can deny the force of their conviction, or the scale of their courage, or the keenness of their talents. But wielding power was a different matter. Revolutionaries dream that crops will grow out of their fire but in most cases it leaves scarred and arid earth instead. Collectivisation, with its monstrous violence and inefficiency, left millions dead in Russia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. Paranoia and persecution, all too evident in Lenin’s “cleansing” of “harmful insects” — landowners, dissidents and priests the Bolsheviks interned, starved, tortured and killed — reached its absurd apotheosis in Stalin’s purges. Stalin killed so many people in the Great Purge that it is remarkable that anyone was left to do the killing. Former comrades, artists and intellectuals, military officers, clergymen, dissidents, outcasts and normal Russian men and women were slaughtered in a …

It’s Time to Retire the Political Spectrum

American culture is dominated by the idea that politics is a contest between two philosophies that occupy opposite sides of a unidimensional spectrum. People can be placed on either the “left” side (with “liberals” or “progressives” leaning that direction), or the “right” side (with “conservatives” leaning that direction). This paradigm rules in the media, scholarship, punditry, informal conversation, social networking, and virtually every other site of political discourse. Here’s the problem: it’s completely wrong. Humans create models to simplify and impose order on experience, but the models are only valuable if they improve, rather than distort, understanding of reality. Some theories—such as the germ theory of disease—are valuable and accurate, while others—such as the ‘four humors’ theory of disease—are harmful and inaccurate. The political spectrum is one of the inaccurate and harmful models. Just as the four humors theory led doctors to bleed their patients to death in previous centuries, the political spectrum is bleeding our republic to death today in three ways. 1. Confusion The political spectrum creates confusion. It tells us, for example, …

Creationism By Another Name

Creationism is the belief that a superior being, unbound by the laws of nature, created the universe. Unsurprisingly, this belief is adopted by all sorts of religious cults; if you believe in the existence of one or more gods, the most parsimonious way to face the mystery of the origin of the universe is to attribute it to this extraordinary being. Creationism is obviously opposed to the theory of evolution, although, by virtue of the undoubted prestige of the evolutionary paradigm, and science in general, some religions are attempting to combine the two positions. They now claim, instead, that God simply created the basic conditions of the universe and life on Earth (which is usually the focus of attention). In academic environments it is very difficult to find someone who will openly and explicitly deny the principles of evolutionary theory. Professors and researchers from any scientific discipline will endorse, more or less accurately, the principles of natural selection, and everyone has a rough idea about what genes, chromosomes, and DNA are. Certainly, nobody will deny that …

Anti-Russian Hysteria, American Hypocrisy, and the Risk of Nuclear Confrontation

Marx’s statement that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” must now be reworded, in light of the new Cold War developing with Russia and that country’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections: “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farcical, potentially catastrophic, tragedy.” We are witnessing the unfolding of a drama with an undeniably Rabelaisian protagonist – President Donald Trump – a character so monstrously flawed as to be scarcely imaginable as anything other than a real-life, modern-day scion of the fictional Pantagruel, the grotesquely cruel King of the Dipsodes. Surrounding Trump are many courtiers of varying degrees of fatuity and mendacity. And since Trump’s decision to batter an airfield in Syria, a Russian ally, with Tomahawk missiles, an array of print-media pundits and cable-channel panjandrums slaving away after mammon and ratings has cheered him on. Finally, they say, he’s showing he’s not “Putin’s puppet” and is acting presidential! Though Trump himself has recently tweeted, “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time …

Denying Encryption To Terrorists Is A Fantasy

The script for responding to Western terror attacks is now so predictable that they might as well publish a schedule in the TV listings. First we get the platitudes: “praying for” the affected city, liking Facebook statuses, and projecting flags onto buildings. Next there is the denial stage, where the commentariat implore us not to make assumptions about the attacker’s motives, because for all we know this was actually the work of Buddhist monks or the National Farmers’ Union. Then comes the hand-wringing over the potential racist backlash at the hands of the unstable, knuckle-dragging public, whose desire for an anti-Muslim pogrom can only be kept in check by loudly proclaiming that Islamic terrorists are not Real Muslims. Finally, once the emotion has died down, politicians can get on with doing what they do best — demanding more control over the internet. After Khalid Masood murdered four people in London last month, Home Secretary Amber Rudd wasted no time in laying the blame at the feet of WhatsApp, insisting that secure messaging apps must not …

Camille Paglia and the Battle of the Sexes

In the opening to what I consider the most important chapter in Camille Paglia’s new book, Free Women, Free Men—Chapter 17: “The Modern Battle of the Sexes”—Paglia writes the following:  As the millennium approaches, we can look back on 200 years of women’s advance in society after the Industrial Revolution. Women all over the world are moving, country by country, into positions of power in business and politics. That progress is inevitable and unstoppable. However, as we survey personal relationships, it is clear that the sexual weather is cloudy and stormy. There is an atmosphere of tension, of suspicion, of mutual recrimination between the sexes which feminism has not helped but in fact materially worsened. How did we get to this point? What prognosis is there for the future? Unlike Paglia, who’s both a Baby Boomer and a lesbian, I’m a wife and mother who hails from Generation X. I have a daughter who’s 17 and a son who’s 14, so my investment in the question Paglia asks about the future is more personal than …

How a Culture of Outrage Is Stifling Political Satire

Trump’s presidency should be a golden age for political satire. With the White House engaged in a seemingly endless trail of controversies and absurdities, late night talk show hosts, satirical writers, sketch shows, and cartoonists are being handed some of the richest material of their careers. Unfortunately satirists must also contend with a creeping culture of outrage that is desperate to find offence. While satire is often controversial, it has become increasingly common for it to be accused of bigotry where none exists. Especially worrying is that this outrage is exacerbated by news outlets and those who work for them; people who should be able to provide context and a nuanced understanding of satire rather than contributing to the hysteria. During both the election cycle and Trump’s current administration, there has been a proliferation of images reimagining Trump and Vladimir Putin as lovers. SNL had Alec Baldwin’s Trump plant a kiss on Beck Bennett’s Putin in their last show before Americans went to the polls. A recent cover of the Economist depicts Putin and Trump facing each …

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Explains How To Combat Political Islam

What happens when we let fear, muddled thinking, ignorance, and political correctness guide us in confronting a threat to our constitutional freedoms? We lose everything. In the United States, our ability to enjoy our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness rests largely on the protection the First Amendment accords to freedom of speech and its corollary, the freedom to exercise the religion of our choice – or, of course, to profess no religion at all. It follows, then, that we should both vigorously defend the First Amendment and subject to withering criticism any challenges to it. If we begin dodging or concealing the truth about a threat to free speech, whether out of fear of appearing improper or even of knowing the consequences, we place ourselves at risk of losing our freedom of speech – and everything else we cherish in a democracy. Speech consists of words. Words and how we use them matter. So, in the annals of self-defeating political inanities, the Obama administration’s term for Islamist terrorism – “violent extremism” – stands out …