Monday, June 21, 2021
Ethan Hein on John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen", some observations about harmonic rhythm and all the songs that came after the original that missed that part of its rhythm
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
As work on the history of Mars Hill has gone so far there hasn't really been a history of the movement yet. Jessica Johnson's Biblical Porn is a very specific anthropological survey of one element of the church and it's well worth reading and I've reviewed it. Ironically I had two preludes and a review of Justin Dean's PR Matters. Dean's book was not exactly a history of Mars Hill but since Mars Hill was functionally the one church he had served at in a PR capacity to any lengthy degree his book was by default something of a history of Mars Hill as recounted by the former public relations/media chief. I have recommended people avoid Dale E Soden's book on religious activists in the Pacific Northwest if they wanted anything like a scholarly reference to Mars Hill. Although I have amassed books worth of material on Mars Hill over the years I have not been sure I really want to write a history of Mars Hill.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Ethan Hein on whether Lorde "ripped off" George Michael and on the inescapability of musical tropes--we can't escape musical tropes [and if we take our cues from the galant era philosophy and practice of music rather than Romanticism we won't have to]
Thursday, June 10, 2021
This is off one of Yang's earliest albums, Si Ji, that I picked up years ago. The entire album was devoted to classical guitar music by Chinese composers or composers exploring cultural themes from Chinese regions. This lovely stand-alone piece calls for a second nut, if memory serves, to be put on the fingerboard to create the timbrel effects you'll hear throughout the piece. Sadly the score for this has never been published to my knowledge but the music is worth hearing.
Freddie deBoer sounds off on what he regards as a reflexive panic of elite liberals about Trump, mentions "Republicans have always been dangerous monsters". Well, here on the West coast we don't remember Mark Hatfield as being a dangerous monster, okay
The essential point I want to make here is this: elite liberals, as a class used to comfortable and orderly lives, were massively freaked out by the election of Donald Trump, and what they have demanded in turn is not a new and better political movement but for everyone else to be freaked out too. The cries of “this is not normal!” were always quite vulgar as well as wrong - reactionary demagogues have always been a major force in American politics, thank you - and revealed a caste of people for whom political discourse had become indistinguishable from group therapy. And if you declined to participate in the yelling, even if you openly rejected Trump and his party, you were held up as a agent of Trumpism. Feel the way that we feel or you will be exiled.
Conversations about how left critics of Democrats underestimate the danger Trump represents are never really about what we might ordinarily recognize as substantive political disagreements. They are about the fact that many of those left critics refused to devolve into the primal-scream-therapy histrionics that liberal Dems themselves did. Elite liberals are not used to their worlds being shaken by political events, even after Democratic losses, and are deeply habituated to a certain sort of propriety and order in how politics operate. Republicans have always been dangerous monsters, but Trump failed to couch his bigotry in the genteel terms expected in our discourse, and this offended the Ivy League sensibilities of media and political elites. When some people within their orbit were found not to share their same fundamentally psychodramatic relationship to current events, those elites got nasty....
Wednesday, June 09, 2021
Monday, June 07, 2021
Ethan Iverson on jazz, classical music, and Mary Lou Williams' History of Jazz Tree and some thoughts about why I find Nikolai Kapustin's preludes and fugues more compelling than his piano sonatas
Alan Jacobs on an article at Current Affairs on how Dungeons & Dragons was thought of as a competing mythoi rather than some proposed mythoi vs a logoi in Christian fundamentalist doctrine
Martha Nussbaum on the Romantic legacies of the myth of authenticity and the myth of the artist as transgressive of societal norms; Justin E. H. Smith has a fairly predictable defense of "real literature" by way of invoking Zhdanovian socialist realism
...Abusers are often shielded not only by this “myth of authenticity,” but by another myth, which pervades all the performing arts, and indeed all the other arts as well. This is an age-old myth, at least as old as Romanticism. The myth is that the constraint of usual social norms and rules is bad for artists. They have to be permitted to be transgressive, to break the rules, or else their creativity will be stifled. Genius is beyond good and evil. This myth is basically false: there are many artists who are perfectly capable of maintaining a boundary between their inner freedom in the realm of creation and the way they live outside it.However, the myth is so pervasive that for many it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. An artist who sincerely believes that breaking society’s rules is necessary for success, by long habit actually becomes unable to create without transgressing. It’s revealing that the myth is overwhelmingly about male creativity, used by males for males. And it’s revealing, too, that the myth mainly concerns sexual rules. I can’t think of an artist I’ve known who believed that being creative licensed him to commit theft or burglary. It’s just a handy way, for a small number of talented men, to arrive at a conclusion so often coveted by male pride: I am above sexual laws, and other people aren’t fully real....There’s another factor: if the arts we love are to thrive, they need star power. Star power generates both ticket sales and donations. Even if we dislike star power and star influence, but just want the art we love to persist and do well, we can ill afford to get rid of the star, however badly behaved. And some people may not care so much about the health of the art, but more about making money on their investments. Hence the fact that some stars whose gifts make money for others are held to account only when they are too old and ill to make money for others any longer.
In a speech to the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers in Moscow in 1934, Central Committee secretary Andreï Zhdanov reminded those assembled of Comrade Stalin’s recent declaration that, in the Soviet Union, writers are now “the engineers of the human soul”.
What obligations does this appellation entail? Most importantly, Zhdanov says, reality must be depicted “neither ‘scholastically’ nor lifelessly, nor simply as ‘objective reality’, but rather as reality in its revolutionary development. The truthfulness and historical exactitude of the artistic image must be linked with the task of ideological transformation, of the education of the working people in the spirit of socialism. This method in fiction and literary criticism is what we call the method of socialist realism.”
...I understand that Roth’s posthumous legacy has met with some bumps recently, and it is hard not to suppose that the biographer who was responsible for seeing to it is now being punished in a sort of twofer deal: for his own real crimes, and for his deceased subject’s crimes of imagination. I don’t have much to add to the Roth/Bailey “discourse”. I don’t really know why people read literary biographies, let alone treat their authors as persons of public interest. For years I have struggled to come up with something interesting to say about the question of “moral luck” — interesting, that is, beyond the sort of hack position-taking that one is required to engage in for, say, a “Guest Essay” in the Times. I will say that I do not support anything so simplistic as “distinguishing between the artist and the work”, since it is fairly plain to me that often the moral rottenness of the artist is constitutive of the work. This extends even to philosophy, where any honest person will concede that Martin Heidegger was not “a great philosopher” who was “also a Nazi”, and that the whole challenge of dealing with Heidegger and his legacy is to figure out how Western philosophy developed in such a way that when Nazism emerged it made sense for at least one of its greatest expositors to offer his services as a handmaiden to this ideology. It is precisely for this reason that reading and understanding Heidegger is so urgent. There is nothing “honorific” about doing this; philosophy is not a fan club, and if you are treating it as one, this is because you do not really understand what philosophy is.
I have already confessed in this space to a certain sympathy for the devil in my musical taste, and it should not be surprising to learn that this sympathy extends into literature as well. I have been through hell, aesthetically speaking. I was “brought up” on tales of lowlife criminality from Jean Genet and William S. Burroughs (another red flag, apparently), and all sorts of “hardcore shit” I won’t even bother to describe. I think I turned out alright, as did the great majority of those in my cohort of bourgeois decadent romantics.
These days I am more sensitive, and a convert to the Good. But I can’t help but think that this conversion is also a continuation, just as J.-K. Huysmans’ arch-Catholic En route completes the trilogy that begins with the satanic Là-bas, and that the journey through that valley has been a key element of my own moral education. Nor does it seem to me that the two are so easy to separate out from one another, no matter what Zhdanovism —which is also a Manicheanism— would have us believe. There is nothing more transgressive than St. Julien’s massacre of the animals, not to mention his subsequent massacre of his parents. In the end what elevates him to the status of a saint is not his anchorite retreat from the world in repentance for his sins, but rather his hallucinatory erotic tryst with a dying scabrous leper. This is something Flaubert is in part spinning out of his imagination, but if Lolita is spun out from the stories of “detectives, pimps, and prostitutes” that Zhdanov sees as populating bourgeois imperialist arts and culture, Flaubert is rather drawing on the source material of the medieval “legends of the saints” genre, notably the Genoese archbishop Jacques de Voragine’s thirteenth-century Légende dorée. Christian tradition, and the literatures it has produced, has generally been sensitive, in a way that Zhdanovism cannot be, to the fact that we human beings, qua human beings, have always been doing hardcore shit, and it is a purpose of art to lay this bare, and compel us to meditate on it...
I am currently translating one of the legends of the Sakha oral epic tradition known as Olonkho (I’ve written extensively about my work on this project here). A common narrative sequence in this tradition features an ogre, far more beastly than Humbert Humbert, spying on girls in the forest. The girls pee in turn, and the ogre observes to see which of them produces the urine with the most bubbles in it. This is taken to be a sign of fertility. When he determines which of the girls it is, he kidnaps her, and takes her off as his “wife”.
In the prenuptial ritual traditions of several Eurasian cultures, extending broadly from the western coast of the Black Sea all the way to the north of Lake Baikal and the Lena River basin, there is a moment where the groom’s family and friends simulate a kidnapping of the bride. The simulated quality of the ritual is generally obvious in more bourgeois and urban settings; as one moves out into the countryside, it becomes more difficult to say whether one is witnessing a sublimation, or indeed the real thing. The Olonkho motif with the ogre and the maiden is itself a more distant sublimation — correctly discerning the true monstrous nature of the men who perpetuate this tradition. It’s an evil tradition. Engineers of the human soul would wish to deal with this evil by suppression; literature, real literature, deals with it through the power of imaginative sublimation. It is dark and wrong, to speak with Moshfegh, and we understand ourselves through it. ...
We have, today, a Zhdanovshchina suited to the particularities of our times, one that promotes not so much an “engineering of souls” as a “human-resources management of souls”. The abrupt ascendancy of HR as the central organizing power of society extends far beyond literature, of course. It has certainly overtaken philosophy, the academic discipline I know best. In the middle ages philosophy was said to be the “handmaiden” [ancillaris] of theology; in the modern period it became the handmaiden of science. Today philosophy is in many respects an ancillary of human resources (as here, for example).
In literature as in philosophy, we may at least comfort ourselves with the enduring existence of the treasures of the past, to which at least for the moment our information technologies continue to provide us access.
Then again, another variation on the Zhanovschina could be guys in Paris pontificating about how nobody over the age of forty should even know who Spider-man is. Yes, well, since I had fun watching Alfred Molina play Otto Octavius I won't mind that he's reportedly coming back for the next Spider-man movie and I really hope Kathryn Hahn reprises her funny take on Doc Ock in the next Into the Spider-verse film. The paradox of Zhdanov style socialist realism as a mentality is that it can manifest as readily as a fixation in those who oppose it as those who advocate it. If we treat it as another variation in a post-Tolstoy conception that artists, if we are too admire them, should in some sense have earned that admiration, this is not that unusual or shocking. If Nabakov can draw upon pulp what's the case that pulp is off-limits? Smith doesn't take that view about Paula Abdul in contrast to opera, so why take that kind of stance in cinema and literature? What's the case for studying Nabakov rather than Hammett?
For those who don't invoke Zhdanov and socialist realism the trendier invocation is the Puritans. Or Tolstoy comes up, or maybe even Charles Ives with his sentiment that if you are not first a good spouse and/or parent then the idea of being a good artist will be hard to sustain. So, sure, I prefer, where practical, that artists, writers and musicians aspire to be humane and generous. I remember hearing a tale from my brother about a comic book discussion forum, no less, where when news about Bill Cosby's crimes began to spring up one person declared that he really, really wanted for Mr. Rogers to have actually been the guy he seemed to be on his show. Mr. Rogers is the kind of person "we" make fun of at a cultural level for being pretty square and squeaky clean. Fred Rogers would never be anyone's idea of a Byronic hero because he simply wasn't, and thank God for that (I suppose it doesn't contradict our understanding of him as a public figure to recall he was an ordained minister).
But a point raised by the woke and the social justice scene that still doesn't go away is who has defined and who gets to define what "real literature" is and what literature you have to read to get through undergraduate and graduate studies. It may be that progressive American academics are in a figurative pissing context about what should be canonical and what shouldn't be for what reasons. That the debates can happen. Smith waxed philosophical, fairly literally, but the core question went by with a hand-wave about "real literature" and sublimation and an incessant thread of comparing anyone who might wonder why this or that literary figure has been canonized is on the side of Zhdanov, the formal advocate of socialist realism.
Which brings me around to the late Nikolai Kapustin and the question of why it was that someone who was born and raised in a Soviet bloc nation that was stuck having to deal with Zhdanov style socialist realism ended up being more successful at synthesizing jazz and classical traditions in his 24 Preludes and Fugues than a bunch of Western European composers.
In almost any field anyone can make a case that bad people can have great accomplishments and we should have "grace" for them. I'm a Presbyterian so I'm not going to argue against "grace", but I'm going to ask whether the "grace" people want to talk about is common grace or prevenient grace or sanctifying grace because a lot of art-religion seems to propose that the worsts people can make the most beautiful things and that beauty is what redeems us when we consume it. There is, so to speak, no arguing against the intensity of the experience and palpable results. If the writer is an asshole but attains "art" by changing people's lives do we argue against that?
Well ... I will admit to a concern. I heard similar arguments on behalf of, oh, Mark Driscoll here in Seattle, over the span of twenty years. Maybe people will even concede Mark Driscoll is "an asshole" (I know someone who said this, literally) but he's changing lives. At one point I still thought Mars Hill was capable of making positive contributions to the Seattle scene. I changed my mind but it was not because I suddenly became progressive or particularly liberal. I have remained what is probably best described as a kind of Mark Hatfield type Republican (f that exists any longer). I concluded that the convictions I had not only didn't require me to give Mark Driscoll a pass for doing what he did but that it was also better to go find somewhere else to call church home.
I admit to being skeptical about the idea, whether on the topic of art-religion or religion-religion, that if someone just gets results that people feel/think are "sublime" that all the other stuff can be forgiven. There's room to propose that the Harvey Weinstein allegations have re-introduced the possibility of a Donatist controversy in the realm of Western art-religion. Of course for the non-religious I want to find a way to reformulate this idea in more secularly comprehensible terms, and terms that don't presuppose being immersed in Christian doctrinal debate--well, one incredibly blunt way to reformulate the observation is to ask why Hollywood waited until Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump to have its moment of reckoning with the legacies of Weinstein and Bill Clinton. If Justin E. H. Smith wanted to make an argument that had more sting he could have asked why that was but he didn't. The argument that the earnestness of the censorious from the left and the right can often turn out to be in bad faith might be something of an argument ... if Smith had made it.
If the best Smith can do is to argue that social justice types and the woke are like Zhdanov in what they want and how they want to go about it that's a long and only occasionally artful ad hominem. I'm not even exactly particularly progressive myself and I admit to not being trained in philosophy but I don't see that Smith has successfully pivoted from why philosophers can be jerks but we should study them to why writers can be jerks but we should study them. It's possible to take that as axiomatic and still regard Smith's variation as having an element of bad faith.
Saturday, June 05, 2021
Warren Throckmorton reports that Real Faith has acquired studio space in Maricopa County for 750k if we want to attempt to understand the Mark Driscoll present and future we should look at his real estate acquisition past in the MHC era
More to the point: there’s one hot area in music that gets savvy financial investors excited, and only one—old songs. And the older the better. Here are some of the largest recent deals in the music industry:
Bob Dylan sells his entire song catalog to Universal Music for an estimated $400 million
Paul Simon sells his publishing rights to Sony for $250 million
The Beach Boys sell controlling interest in their publishing, recordings and brand licenses to Iconic Artists Group for an undisclosed amount
Neil Young sells 50% of his publishing rights to the Hipgnosis investment fund for an estimated $150 million
Stevie Nicks sells 80% of her songwriting catalog to Primary Wave for an estimated $100 million)
David Crosby sells his song catalog to Iconic Artists Group for an undisclosed amount
The sad truth is that songs lose most of their market value long before the copyright expires. Almost no song is worth much after eighty years. Do you doubt me? Consider some of the hottest music acts in the US in the early 1940s—Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, etc. How much licensing income do you think their songs bring in nowadays?
Sarah Einselen at The Roys Report--Mike Brisk (who manages Robert Morris' office at Gateway) stated Morris doesn't provide oversight for Driscoll's church and hasn't for some time
Robert Morris also was the first to give Driscoll a platform after Driscoll resigned in 2014 from Mars Hill Church in Seattle for a pattern of “arrogance” and . Just days after Driscoll’s resignation, Morris to speak at a Gateway Church conference, urging attendees not to believe everything they read on the internet.
However, Mike Brisky, who manages Morris’s office at Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, told that Morris doesn’t provide oversight for Driscoll’s church, and hasn’t for some time.
Friday, June 04, 2021
revisiting Mark Driscoll's resignation from the presidency of Acts 29 and withdrawal from the Gospel Coalition
Thursday, June 03, 2021
Chad Freese mentioned Driscoll claimed to have tripled his litigation fund to approximately $10 million, which naturally invites a question as to why Driscoll would have one (revisiting that civil RICO suit)
Tuesday, June 01, 2021
Dear Driscoll site has gone up, from what has been reported a bunch of things that happened in the Mars Hill years are unsurprisingly still happening at The Trinity Church
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Mark Driscoll's spectrums of trust past and present (2011 and 2021), and the barnyard animals of ministry from Confessions of a Reformission Rev, 2006
Julie Roys has lately reported that there is a “spectrum of trust” code at The Trinity Church (as attested by former volunteer security director of the church Chad Freese):
On April 7, Freese said Mark Driscoll pulled the entire staff into a “training session.” Driscoll then reportedly drew his “spectrum of trust” on a dry-erase board, rating people’s loyalty from 0 to 10 to determine their access to Driscoll’s family.
Warren Throckmorton has also noted the spectrum of trust.
As extensive as Roys’ report is, there are more stories to tell. She mentions shunning, but there are more stories of families being shunned because they are not sufficiently loyal to Mark Driscoll. Roys introduces us to the very culty phrase “spectrum of trust.” The higher you are on the spectrum of trust, the more the Driscolls trust you and the more access to them you have. Sadly, if you not high on that spectrum, you may drag your family members down a notch or two. Ranking people in terms of their loyalty to the dear leader is a characteristic of a mind control group. An extension of that is shunning family members over loyalty to the dear leader.
That is certainly possible but rather than confirm or contest the statement about The Trinity Church being a mind control group I want, instead, to highlight that for those of us who were at Mars Hill or even those of us who left Mars Hill but kept tabs on Mark Driscoll’s prolific blogging at The Gospel Coalition and the Acts 29 blogs that the idea of a “spectrum of trust” isn’t the least bit new.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Warren Throckmorton has started a postcards from Phoenix series about The Trinity Church, the first from former security director/volunteer Chad Freese on whether a PI was consulted and addressing at whose initiative the consultation was made, reviewing Driscoll's history of firing elders at MHC in `07 where everything seemed mediated by proxies
The first one is complex in that it was triggered by a report from an anonymous witness to a recent spirited conversation between Grace Driscoll and another woman after women’s Bible study group. The argument was centered around a woman leaving the church amidst the current upheaval and controversies at The Trinity Church.
As a part of the argument, Grace Driscoll reportedly alleged that former director of security Chad Freese hired the private investigator who surveilled the Manuele family (see here and here for details). The implication was that the church shouldn’t be held responsible for this since Freese did it. This caught my attention for a couple of reasons. One, it demonstrates that recent news reporting is being followed widely in the church. Two, I wondered if there was any truth to the allegation that Chad Freese both instigated the hiring of the PI and then later complained about it.
Freddie deBoer has a criticism of the left for how people can default all forms of racism to being the responsibility of whites when Japanese imperialism and African American anti-Asian racial violence need to be kept in mind
Several times in my life I have gotten into a fight with other members of the anti-imperialist left over a question that I would not ordinarily consider a question: was Japan an imperial power?
I felt (and feel) that there was not much to debate. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Japan engaged in what would be seen, in any European context, as straightforwardly imperialist behavior. They developed a militaristic and nationalistic ruling philosophy at home and used this as justification for an aggressive and expansionistic foreign policy, conquering and annexing vast swaths of territory, plundering these places for resources and treasure, and setting up puppet governments or out-and-out imposing foreign rule. Nobody, including the people I debated this question with, disputes these basic historical facts. One would think that would be sufficient to settle the question.
Ah, but the Japanese are not white. And for many people I have known in the anti-imperialist left, all historical crimes, especially imperialism, are assumed to be the product of white people and their actions, however many mental hoops you have to jump through to get to that point. You may rush to say that this is an exaggeration, but no. I know people who will unapologetically tell you that there is no such thing as a historical crime conducted by people of color that they are themselves ultimately morally responsible for. I wish I could do a better job of summarizing how this plays out with the example of Japan for you, but I’ve always found the basic claim so ad hoc and bizarre that I genuinely don’t think I can do it justice. The arguments as I understand them include the idea that British and other European actions in China provoked Chinese behavior that in turn provoked Japan’s behavior which we called imperialism, that Japan’s expansionism can be excused because they suffered from land and resource constraints other expansionistic powers did not, that Japan would never have thought to engage in these behaviors if they hadn’t seen the European example first…. One way or another, all roads lead to a world where white people were responsible for Japanese rulers ordering invasion after invasion, slaughtering local populations, and raping local women, where the Japanese committed war crimes and yet were blameless. Blameless - and thus powerless.
This is, on the face of it, anti-white ideology - all of the bad stuff in the world happens as a direct result of white actions, white power. Yet I have always felt that there’s something else going on in these debates. I suspect that placing all of the blame for historical crimes on white people is strangely comforting for white leftists: it advances a vision of the world where only white people matter. It says that the sun rises and sets with white people. It suggests that white people wrote history. It assures white people that, no matter what else is true, they are the masters of the world. That all of this is framed in terms of judgment against the abstraction “white people” is incidental. I think if you could strip people down to their most naked self-interest and ask them, “would you be willing to take all the blame, if it meant you got all the power?,” most would say yes. And of course in this narrative people of color are sad little extras, unable even to commit injustice, manipulated across the chessboard by the omnipotent white masters whose interests they can’t even begin to oppose. All of this to score meaningless political points in debates about inequality and injustice. ...
Thematically connected to John McWhorter's recent writings, I am not sure McWhorter and deBoer are reading each other's work. That in left and progressive discourse the default assumption seems to be that systemic racism certainly exists and particularly that it defaults to whiteness is something that isn't hard to look up, else deBoer wouldn't have written the above. I am, however, reminded of an awkward moment from my younger days at my paternal grandma's place on a reservation, hearing Dad inveigh against migrant Mexican agricultural workers as job-stealing rapists. My grandmother sternly rebuked him and said she was disappointed he would talk about migrant workers in those terms. I was in a sleeping bag trying to get to sleep without any success so I heard the conversation and, well, it has obviously stuck with me decades later. Hearing my American Indian dad rant about Mexican migrant workers as job-stealing rapists opened my ears to how Native Americans could harbor racist animus against Mexican or Mexican American people.
deBoer's piece is lengthy and he goes on to highlight that the left has been unwilling to consider the possibility (or extent) to which anti-Asian racist violence in recent times may have been promulgated in African American communities.
Consider this “study” out of the University of Michigan. The authors launched it with great fanfare, particularly claiming that this report debunks the idea that Black men have committed many of the anti-Asian crimes that have been so much in the news lately. How did they arrive at this conclusion? By defining what counts as a hate incident in utterly absurd ways. The report aggregates statements the researchers consider racist with actual violent incidents, leading to (for example) a gross equivalence between the vicious beating of an elderly Asian man with a cruise line refusing to serve those with passports from China and Macau. Of the 184 listed incidents, 55 are just Trump saying his usual looney anti-China shit! This is not what anyone means when they talk about the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Why would they undertake this absurd project? Well, this dishonest aggregation allows them to release headline numbers that show that Black men are responsible for a low percentage of the incidents. They presumably felt the need to do this because, if you have kept up with this news, it certainly seems that a disproportionate number of these incidents (the actual violent attacks) have been committed by Black men. Now they have a mendacious pseudo-study that liberals will be citing until the end of time.
That many of these attacks seem to be committed by Black assailants should be addressed with considerable sensitivity, especially because “seem” is a key word there. An actual, rigorous study that was not a piece of agitprop masquerading as social science would be very useful in this regard. Certainly there is the potential for the fickle ways of local media to influence how we perceive these trends. If it is the case that Black men are disproportionately committing these crimes, that too requires sensitivity and sobriety to discuss. The influence of socioeconomic conditions and other exogenous factors are relevant and important when considering such things. But the current progressive position, which is that we simply must not arrive at the empirical conclusion that Black men are disproportionately responsible for the anti-Asian attacks, is not just a refusal to countenance what might be an uncomfortable reality. It’s an insult to the vast majority of Black Americans who have never assaulted anyone at all. To absolve the Black men who may have committed some of these attacks is to deny the agency and moral behavior of those who have not....
John McWhorter has announced his forthcoming book Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America
The mendacity, the numbness to truth, is especially appalling coming along with the denial of science in their positions on climate change and so much else. The Republicans embrace The Big Lie, and to many it’s symptomatic of their being America’s main civic problem.
However, future historians will not see it that way. We live in an era of flabbergasting, shameless lie-mongering on both sides of the political aisle. On the left, this is especially clear in how baldly antiscientific the Elect left is, which is part of why their penchant for labelling their opponents “racists” is so dire – they make the rest of us pretend not to value science along with them.
It isn’t always clear how antithetical to scientific reasoning this fashionable “antiracist” thinking is. Its adherents express themselves with a handy kit of 20 or so fancy words, often with very particular meanings (equity, social justice), often have PhDs, and are culturally associated with enclaves of the educated such as universities, college towns, and cafes.
However, in the grand scheme of things, The Elect reason like Trofim Lysenko and for analogous reasons. Lysenko perverted the scientific endeavor under Stalin, dismissing the tenets of Darwinism and Mendelian genetics because they allowed too much of a role to individual actors, contrary to the focus of Communist ideology on history being shaped by grand, impersonal currents. Scientific research of a great many kinds was shattered in the Soviet Union for decades, and crop yields went down because of Lysenko’s insistence on crackpot notions of agricultural science.
* * *
Take the idea that microaggressions are a grinding problem for black Americans, exerting significant psychological damage upon us, and motivating claims that black students ought be exempt from certain scholastic demands as well as that entire programs and schools should be transformed into Antiracism Academies. A prime motivation of this, reported endlessly, is to relieve black people of the eternal harm that microaggressions condition....
Our racial “reckoning” could use a reckoning about the term systemic racism. It is often used with an implication, a resonance, a tacit assumption, that to question is unthinkable. Uttered by a certain kind of person, often with a hint of emphasis or an eyeroll, we are to assume that the argumentation behind it has been long accomplished; the heavy lifting was taken care of long ago and we can now just decide what we’re going to do about this “racism” so clearly in our faces.
The problem is that this heavy lifting has not occurred. This usage of systemic racism is more rhetorical bludgeon than a simple term of reference. For all of the pungent redolence of the word racism in general when uttered by a certain kind of person, complete with the inherent threat to whites that they are racists to have anything to say but Amen, we must learn to listen past this theatrical aspect of the word and think for ourselves.
When we do, we see that all discrepancies between white and black are not due to “racism” of any kind, and that in many cases it is therefore senseless, and likely anti-black, to seek to undo the discrepancy – i.e. force “equity” – by tearing down the tasks, rules, or expectations involved in whatever the inequality manifests itself in. We must get past the idea that where black Americans are concerned, sociology is applesauce-easy. Black history is as complex as any history, and not just in the complexities of racism. Black history has been just plain complex.
And as you might guess, I dwell here on but one example. I could go on – and have, and will.