Monday, August 31, 2020

When did the progressive-left become the new Right?

Michael Lumish 

It's interesting how much today's culture of the American left-wing resembles yesterday's culture of the American right-wing.

In the 1950s, the Right tended to be authoritarian. Today it is the Left that tends to be authoritarian.

In the 1950s -- leaving Buckley and the National Review aside -- the Right tended to be considerably more racist than the Left.

Today, the American Left is openly racist in the name of "anti-racism" even as it has the warm fuzzies for the most outrageously racist political movement in the world, which is political Islam.

In the 1950s, the Right was far less enamored of freedom of speech compared to the Left. Today those positions have reversed.

I cannot tell you how ridiculous and weird it is to watch left-leaning students and faculty at UCAL Berkeley rail against freedom of speech in the very home of the Freedom of Speech Movement of the early 1960s.

{Where are you Mario Savio when we need you?}

In any case, these are among the reasons that I have left the Left and the Democratic Party and am now a proud independent.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

CV-19 and the Riots: A Coincidence?

Michael Lumish 

Are the racist anti-racist and Black Lives Matter riots independent of the pandemic? This is the question of the morning. On the surface Covid-19 would seem to have little to do with alleged police brutality or "systemic racism," yet the fact of their overlapping concurrency is difficult not to notice.

While I am sure that many within the BLM community will find anti-black racism in the American response to CV-19, what I am less sure of is whether or not this urban guerilla warfare emerged independently and organically from angry young "proles" in all its unjust and vicious glory. Or is this more of a matter of the leadership, to the extent that there is leadership, not allowing a crisis to go to waste?

Is it mere coincidence that these horrendous twin phenomena developed roughly in concurrence or is it not a coincidence?

I honestly do not know the answer.

What say you?

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The "West Bank" and "Newspeak"

 Michael Lumish

Most people have no idea that the term "West Bank" is brand-spanking new in historical terms. The area has been known as Judea and Samaria (or Yehuda and Shomron in the Hebrew) and has been discussed in those terms for thousands of years.

It was only after the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan decided to erase Jewish history on historically Jewish land in the middle of the twentieth-century that suddenly the "West Bank" came into usage. Today when people use the term "West Bank" they are unknowingly expunging Jewish heritage from the very land of our ancestry.

The reason for this is obvious. 

Most of the Arab world and their progressive-left allies in places like the European Union and the Democratic Party have no intention of letting our Jewish brothers and sisters live in peace in the land of our indigeneity.

Instead, they want to hand-over the Jewish heartland to the very enemies of the Jewish people. People who sided with the Nazis during World War II and who have never ceased trying to chase the Jewish people out of our traditional homeland or, from the seventh century onward, forcing us to live as second and third-class non-citizens under the imperial boot of Sharia law.

This is why terminology is so important.

"West Bank" represents nothing so much as Orwellian "Newspeak."

Wikipedia, citing the Oxford Companion to the English Language, defines "Newspeak" as follows:

"To meet the ideological requirements of English Socialism in Oceania, the ruling English Socialist Party (Ingsoc) created Newspeak, a controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to limit the freedom of thought—personal identity, self-expression, and free will—that threatens the ideology of the régime of Big Brother and the Party, who have criminalised such concepts into thoughtcrime as contradictions of Ingsoc orthodoxy."

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Classicism is a language calling out for cancelation."

Michael Lumish

This is a brilliant piece by James Panero of the Wall St. Journal.

He argues that the primary goal of the rioters is not social justice, nor ending police brutality, but the elimination of "the classical liberal order.

It matters less the subject of the statuary to be torn down because these cry-bullies tear down the statuary of even abolitionists.

It is, rather, Western culture that is the target. It is the "white" Political Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries which gave us the Constitution of the United States, democracy, liberalism, and capitalism that is the enemy of the rioters in Portland and Oakland and Seattle and Minneapolis and New York.

They are trying to do nothing less than divide the Western world from its cultural roots grounded in the classical underpinnings of ancient Greek rationalism and the Jewish devotion to God and justice. Such values are -- among the woke-ones and the socialists and Antifa and Black Lives Matter -- the veritable font of "white privilege" and racist "white" epistemology, or "ways of thinking."

This is a fascinating read that cuts to the core.




Rioters Seek to Destroy Aesthetic Order, Too

Classicism is a language calling out for cancelation.

By James Panero

Wall St. Journal, Aug. 16, 2020 4:01 pm ET

It was never about Confederate monuments—that much is now clear. Statues of America’s Founding Fathers and presidents have been smashed and burned. Christian iconography has been desecrated. Monuments to Gandhi and Churchill are under threat. Even memorials of great emancipators and abolitionists—Lincoln, Grant, Frederick Douglass, Matthias Baldwin, Hans Christian Heg, John Greenleaf Whittier, the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment—have been defaced.

It might be a fool’s errand to look for the patterns of the mob. The targets are often arbitrary. But while the figures under assault have become more disparate, their solid forms have shown striking similarities. They are classical forms. Their desecration is an attack on the classical orders they represent, and in particular the classical liberal order.

This isn’t to suggest that today’s iconoclasts are dissident classicists. Nevertheless, the classical language of monuments and monumentality may remain more comprehensible to the attackers than the forgotten figures this language looks to honor. Classicism is simply a language calling out for cancellation.

Look at the many recent incidents of vandalism. Classical plinths and pedestals have been covered in spray-paint. Classical order is conflated with law and order as the classical language of art and architecture is drowned out by antipolice slogans, epithets and defilements.

In downtown Manhattan, vandals defaced the classical Municipal Building, Tweed Courthouse and Surrogate’s Court Building. New York’s radical mayor has cut the city’s antigraffiti budget as he paints his own slogans across the avenues and appoints his wife to head his task force on racial redress.

As civilization from the Renaissance forward has drawn on knowledge of the classical liberal world, the association of classical forms with an illegitimate order has long been a central tenet of antiliberal ideology. “Racism” and “whiteness” have now been added to these accusations in an attempt to undermine the country’s classical foundations. For example, “the primacy of Western (Greek, Roman) and Judeo-Christian tradition” is now considered one of the “aspects and assumptions of whiteness,” according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Similarly, earlier this year, after the Trump administration proposed a classical mandate for the design of new Federal buildings in keeping with Washington’s classical vernacular, critics denounced the style as one that “dredges up images of antebellum America.”

Those at the top were once the standard-bearers of our classical inheritance. Now they are the first to sacrifice their cultural charge in order to protect their salaries and status. “Every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute.” So George Orwell wrote in “1984.” “History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Mr. Panero is executive editor of the New Criterion, from whose September issue this article is adapted.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Democratic Socialists versus the Jewish People

Michael Lumish

The notion that one can despise Israel without despising Jews is ridiculous. Can you imagine anyone saying, "Sure, I despise Italy, but I love Italians." Everyone would immediately acknowledge the deceit in such a claim.

Not so with Israel, apparently. One can absolutely loathe the lone, sole Jewish state -- the national homeland of the Jewish people -- and, yet, still claim with a straight face to be merely "anti-Zionst," not anti-Jewish.

What progressive-left antisemitic anti-Zionists claim is that they do not dislike Jews, but merely the racist, colonialist, imperialist, militaristic, apartheid state of Israel. What gives away the deception, naturally, is that it is only Israel that is despised by western-progressives throughout the Middle East. 

Democrats and "progressives" never call for a boycott of Iran or Saudi Arabia or Syria or Libya, despite its slave trade in black Africans. Israel, in fact, is a human rights shangri-la compared to its neighbors throughout the region. Arab citizens of Israel have greater civil liberties, human freedom, and access to both education and healthcare than they do anywhere else in the region.

Yet, in the article below we read from WCBS:

"In next year's municipal elections, 35 of 51 seats in the New York City Council are “up for grabs,” but if a person vying for a seat wants the support of prominent Democratic Socialists, such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he or she must pledge, if elected, not to travel to Israel."

Furthermore, the Democratic Socialists support the movement to Boycott, Sanction, and Divest (BDS) from the Jewish state. The purpose of BDS is not to reform Israeli politics. It's purpose is the elimination of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people and has been acknowledged as such by its leadership. BDS founder, Omar Barghouti, said:

“Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

When people try to tell me that the Democratic Socialists are not racist, I can never be quite sure if they are lying to me or to themselves.

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Cultural Demise of the Left

Michael Lumish 

I come out of the Left.

I was even Green Party for a little while, back in the day. But now I am just disgusted at the dregs of the Movement. It used to be that the American Left stood for creativity, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and anti-racism.

Not any more.

Today the American Left is culturally like nothing so much as the old Republican Party from the 1950s and the 1960s. That is, they are boring, stodgy, old schoolmarms who want nothing so much as to rap you on the knuckles with a 12-inch wooden ruler.

In the 1960s young college leftists despised "in loco parentis" wherein the universities took over the role of the parent thus enforcing curfews, particularly for female dorms and sororities. But students and the counter-culture wanted nothing so much as their freedom. 

They were, in fact, social libertarians.

Today, however, the universities -- with the eager enthusiasm of the student body -- has brought back "in loco parentis" with a vengeance. You can literally drag some 19-year-old kid before the University Board of Self-Righteous Indignation for blinking at a young woman the wrong way.

And this is why some, like Dave Rubin, call the "progressive-left" the "regressive-left." It is going backwards culturally. In the name of anti-fascism, it gives us fascism. In the name of anti-racism, it gives us racism.

Were Abbie Hoffman alive today he would never stop throwing up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Social and Economic Erosion of American Cities

Michael Lumish 

It looks to me like there is going to be a significant economic shift away from certain American cities into more rural areas or to cities without the kind of progressive-left violence that we see from Antifa and the raging hypocrites in Black Lives Matter.

As the wealthy and the white-collar middle class, along with the job providers, move out of various cities like New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland, those cities will continue to deteriorate. So long as local and state officials, usually of the Democratic persuasion, continue to ignore -- or even tacitly approve of -- ideological violence in the streets, then their tax base will wither, crime and homicide rates will rise as they defund the police and the cops quit their jobs, and regular hard-working families will remove their children from what are hostile environments.

The problem is not police brutality or "systemic" racism.

The problem is a wave of ideological poison, derived from progressive-left political theory and the rise of "intersectional" ideology, out of the universities, which is grounded in racial divisiveness, resentment, and a facile hierarchy of victimhood which insists upon placing all the woes in the US on workers of European descent (aka "white people") and upon Jewish people / Zionists.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

NASA to remove offensive nicknames for planets, galaxies, and nebulae

Michael Lumish

There seems to be literally no limit to this ongoing self-righteous stupidity.

But is important to remember that all these social manifestations that have come to define recent years and that are concentrating in 2020 are not isolated events, but part of a broader cultural trend.

Whether it is rioting in the streets or toppling statuary or demanding that people use recently manufactured gendered terminology or the never-ending divisiveness of "intersectional theory" or Rutgers University Department of English deciding that standard English is no longer necessary in written assignments or the racism and violence of groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter or the failure of the Democratic Party to reign in its radicals or the desire for a borderless, and thus nation-free, world, it is all of a piece.

These are not isolated or unrelated trends, nor is it a conspiracy. It represents the culmination of societal tendencies that go back to the late 1960s but, really, all the way back to Marx. Whereas Engels and Marx divided the world merely into the proletariat and bourgeoisie duality of good guys versus bad guys, contemporary "Identity Socialism" pits everyone against everyone else within a competitive hierarchy of victimhood.

All NASA is doing, like many large institutions before them, is bowing to the child-like demands of the current "progressive" political atmosphere. If much of Congress is willing to take a knee in submission, why would we expect anything less from NASA?

Andrea Leinfelder of the Houston Chronicle tells us:

"The glowing remains of a star, blowing off its outer layers at the end of its life, is officially called planetary nebula NGC 2392. But as a nickname, it has been called the 'Eskimo Nebula.'"

Yes, I am sure that the Inuit are deeply offended.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

What would convince me to vote Republican

Sar Shalom

It is undeniable that a substantial faction of the Democratic Party is hostile to Israel. While it is important to distinguish between that faction and the Democratic Party writ large, the growth of that faction is still menacing and that faction exerts far more influence over other Democrats, including those who are generally supportive of Israel, than should be accepted. The question is what to do in response to the growth about that faction. One response is to register displeasure with the entire Democratic Party by voting Republican.

I find voting for today's Republican Party to be totally unacceptable. This is even more the case with the current leadership of the Republican Party, even with the consolation of reduced pressure over the settlements and pressure being placed on Iran. Despite what some might say, this is not an expression of blind obeisance to the Democratic Party. Indeed, if the Democrats nominate either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, I will not vote for that ticket. However, like Bret Stephens, that would not lead me to vote for Donald Trump and I would instead vote for some third-party alternative of write someone in. In other words, there is a line that the Democratic Party could cross that would induce me not to vote for it, but not to affirmatively vote for the current Republican Party.

That is to say, I will not vote for the Republican Party as it is today. That does not that there is no way that I could vote for a Republican Party. If the Niskanen Center were to take over the Republican Party, I would happily vote for that Republican Party over much of the Democratic Party, including those who are not overtly anti-Israel. One of the features of the Niskanen Center is illustrated in Niskanen Center president Jerry Taylor's essay on post-ideology:
Over and over again, [we] engaged in fierce, uncompromising debate about empirical matters that had nothing to do with [] principles or commitments. Is the Keynesian multiplier consequential? Is Thomas Piketty correct that returns to capital are greater than the rate of growth? Do tax cuts pay for themselves? [One] could take either side of those disputes without having to recant any of their principles or fundamental beliefs.
What this snippet demonstrates is that according to Taylor, more important than having any specific position on any particular topic is remaining permeable to evidence. On specific policy issues, there are many cases in which the Niskanen Center pulls back from the line which causes me to reject movement conservatism, and those who genuflect to it. However, the simple willingness to submit ideological priors to testing, when feasible, based on observable effects in the real world is what makes productive debate possible. The Democrats have certain issues where they subordinate empirical evaluation to ideology, such as assessing what the Palestinian Authority and the Iranian theocracy want. The are other issues where both parties share ideological blinders, such as evaluating China's intents. However, the conservative movement, which controls the Republican Party outside of a handful of pockets, has more such issues where ideology trumps empirical reasoning. A change in that will lead me to change how I view the Republican Party.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

How Dare You!

Michael Lumish

The only way that we can save society and the planet is through additional hatred. Thankfully the progressive-left -- the movement that I came out of with 25 years as a Democrat -- is perfecting the art. I have never seen so much productive and delicious hated.

The only way that we can make the United States a more fair and less racist place is through increasing toxic malice, particularly toward "white" people and Jews and Trump. If you haven't expressed your recommended daily requirement of hatred then you are a slacker.

It is only through hatred that we can be redeemed. It is only through street violence and mobs and riots and smashing storefronts and driving businesses out of our communities and shooting cops and defacing synagogues and setting fire to Federal Courthouses and throwing incendiary devices at law enforcement can we ever hope to create a more peaceful and fair society.

It is important to remember that those with insufficient hatred are also insufficiently moral. Only those with true hatred have any claim to ethics or morality. Only those filled with self-righteous indignation, and who are ready to use violence against total strangers in service to that self-righteous indignation, who can call themselves decent human beings.

So, in the names of justice, human decency, and humanity, get out there and burn something down. Throw a bomb. Have some fun at your neighbors' expense. They're racist, anyway.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

To Mask or Not to Mask

Michael Lumish

One of the stranger things about this exceedingly strange and ugly moment in American history is the debate over masks. Some people believe that the insistence upon wearing the mask by politicians, the media, and much of the general public is an intrusion upon the civil liberties of the individual. They often see it as a manifestation of social conformity and group-think or what you might call Lemming Culture. They also tend to doubt the utility of such medical apparel to protect anyone from this virus.

The people who insist upon the mask are merely trying to do what little they can do to not spread the virus. They are hoping that our collective mask-wearing, and the related lock-down, will save lives.

I live in Oakland, California and what I see in my little neck of the universe is maybe about an 80 percent compliance rate on the main thoroughfares. For myself, I never wear my mask on the street, but always put it on when entering one of the few retail stores that remain open. I try to balance courtesy toward others with my own personal freedom as I see my friends lose jobs and the shuttering of once active restaurants and small retail stores.

One thing that has been obvious to me since early in the CV-19 crisis is that it has three fundamental aspects: the medical, the social, and the Constitutional. What bothers me is that while there is plenty of discussion around the medical side of the issue -- which is as it should be -- there is virtually zero discussion around the social side of the lockdown which would include increased poverty, increased unemployment, increased homelessness, increased domestic violence, increased divorce, increased suicide, increased homicides and increased crime.

The medical aspect of CV-19 is clearly important for the obvious reason that people's lives are directly at stake. I would suggest that the social aspect is probably at least as important, but it is rarely discussed. Often if you so much as raise questions from the social side you are met with a wall of resistance by people who assume that you are indifferent to the sickness and deaths of others.

In that joyous spirit, I want to offer four social consequences of mask-wearing. This is not to argue against the mask. It is merely to point out aspects that should be taken into consideration. These are:

1) It makes it much harder for the cops to do their jobs... which will make Antifa and Black Lives Matter happy.

2) It makes life much more difficult for the hearing impaired who generally use lip-reading as a sort-of back-up.

3) Common sense dictates that, combined with social distancing, it will teach children to be very wary of those around them. This will not have a beneficial effect on future generations.

4) It will warp the social aspect of the college experience.

My concern is that all of these hard and fast changes to American culture will disfigure it permanently.

We shall see.

By the way, this is my mask. It's meant to indicate my horror and disgust at this entire historical moment.