Triumph of the Shrill
“Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sick, alter your brain—even kill neurons—and shorten your life.”-Professor Lisa Barrett, Northeastern University
“SPEECH IS VIOLENCE!”-UC Berkeley students protesting Ben Shapiro
“We are a carload of teenage girls going to the beach, it is going to get disgusting!”-Lee Russell
Inside Higher Ed recently ran a piece by Colleen Flaherty entitled “Poli-Sci for the Trump Era,” in which various academics lamented their inability to understand “Trump’s America”—in other words, America. These otherwise very bright and accomplished people don’t even have the most basic frame of reference with respect to the bedrock of the country they live in, so immersed in the Cult-Marx bubble of the academy as they are. The “gun people” are mere abstractions out in the country, their rural environs only ever experienced en route to a vacation home. What’s more, they’re completely sheltered from the “multi-cultural” neighborhoods and areas the open borders immigration policies they advocate for create, areas that are, quite frankly, borderline unlivable (if you’ve ever been woken up by a rooster at five in the morning within city limits you know exactly what I’m talking about). The craft cocktail set move effortlessly from one gentrified neighborhood to another, or from the confines of the campus out to the suburbs, and never have to interact with either group of people their policies effectively pit against each other.
Flaherty’s article, if nothing else, shows how laughably out of touch these people are. One of the key points of the article was the need to “contextualize” Trump’s “rise” by looking at the Latin American political climate. Aside from the fact that they’re demographically about thirty years early, that certainly would’ve helped contextualize the Obama presidency and its rampant corruption, but if anything, President Trump’s victory was intensely, and uniquely, American. You’d know that if you ever deviated from your itinerary of symposiums and workshops and dinner parties, if you ever interacted with the average folks that service your car, or collect your trash, or drive cross-country to deliver produce to your local Whole Foods. Donald Trump’s populist movement doesn’t require an understanding of Latin America; it requires an understanding of America. The vast majority of people who’ve ever had to do real manual labor, or scrounge for tips, or punch a clock to get paid a pittance are going to hew to the conservative side of the spectrum given the often volatile nature of menial employment and the work ethic required to earn a living without turning to the government for hand-outs. I say this not to insult anyone, but if academics had to collect garbage or lay concrete for even a limited amount of time, say one summer between classes, they would have a far greater understanding of life for most Americans, and hence the appeal of Donald Trump, than any amount of secondary research into the banana republics of Latin America.
Flaherty’s piece links to an abstract by five academics—three from Cornell and one each from Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins—regarding the “unique threat to democracy at the present moment,” which is depressingly un-self-aware. So we have this paradox where academics are at once utterly oblivious to the psychology of their fellow countrymen, yet they are hyper-aware, if not telekinetic, regarding their motivations, the most central of which, it would seem, is race-oriented.
There is perhaps no more emblematic sign of our times than the Poop Swastika.
We’ve seen the pictures. We’ve seen the shit on the door handle. We’ve seen the University of Missouri’s not-at-all-overblown reaction to what many on the Right believe was either a hoax (such as Breitbart.com, described as “itself a sort of editorial poop swastika” by the now-defunct Gawker) or a scatological gag, but it’s rapidly becoming apparent that this kind of Hate is turning into an epidemic. Earlier this year, another fecal swastika was found on the wall of a gender-neutral bathroom (this CANNOT be a coincidence) at the Rhode Island School of Design; campus safety officials initially believed the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Dharmic symbol of good fortune might constitute a hate crime. The local NBC affiliate reported that this was just the latest in “a string of incidents with feces.” Media Matters posited that, “The anti-Semitic and possibly anti-LGBTQ incident came during a continuing national surge in anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes.”
Steven Hayward wonders: “Isn’t this an anti-Semitic hate crime? Which would make it rather odd, since anti-Semitism is officially sanctioned on so many college campuses today and is an accepted faction on the left. Did Jewish students at Missouri join the protests?” The university’s Title IX office noted that the swastika may have been intended, “To offend and threaten a larger population of our campus community in addition to Jewish students.” The protests at the University of Missouri were meant to be centered on the demands and grievances of “students of color,” so I’m a little confused as to what, exactly, the swastika means to them outside of the seven blacks killed in German concentration camps (or close to .000001% the percentage of Jews killed; or the number of blacks killed by other blacks over the weekend in Chicago).
Alex Johnson helpfully points out: “For some reason, people thought [the poop swastika] was aimed directly at black people and that someone had to pay for this act (my emphasis).” A student—Jonathan Butler—went on hunger strike (who said irony died in the Nineties?) to protest that the university president resign due to the systemic and institutional racism on campus, begging the question what, exactly, could the university president have done about the creative display? For good measure, Butler threw himself on to the president’s car and claimed to have been targeted by the president because of his race. Prior to either of the scatological swastikas, the Legion of Black Collegians on the University of Missouri campus asked an intoxicated white student to leave their event stage, alleging that at some point during his removal the student said, “These niggers are getting aggressive with me” (I have on good authority he said, “This aggression is triggering me,” but I don’t let facts convolute the narrative); add these incidents together with the “racist bananas” at American University, the noose/shoelace at Michigan State University, the racial epithet graffiti at Eastern Michigan University, the Yale Halloween costume e-mail, the Items for Transformative Justice protest at Dartmouth, the Day of Absence fiasco at Evergreen State, the “heated and physical” exchange between a campus police officer and a Latinx Ivy League Conference attendee at Brown University, and so many others, and it is clear we still have so far to go to combat the systemic racism plaguing our institutions of higher learning and our society at large.
Or maybe it’s a gross manifestation of something much different. Judge Macklin Fleming saw this coming all the way back in 1969 in response to Yale University’s decision to establish a racial quota for each incoming class:
The faculty can talk around the clock about disadvantaged background, and it can excuse inferior performance because of poverty, environment, inadequate cultural tradition, lack of educational opportunity, etc. The fact remains that black and white students will be exposed to each other under circumstances in which demonstrated intellectual superiority rests with the whites… No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression. This is likely to take two forms. First, agitation to change the environment from one in which they are unable to compete to one in which they can. Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities which have only an indirect relationship to legal training. Second, it seems probable that this group will seek personal satisfaction and public recognition by aggressive conduct, which, although ostensibly directed at external injustices and problems, will in fact be primarily motivated by the psychological needs of the members of the group to overcome feelings of inferiority caused by lack of success in their studies. Since the common denominator of the group of students with lower qualifications is one of race this aggressive expression will undoubtedly take the form of racial demands–the employment of faculty on the basis of race, a marking system based on race, the establishment of a black curriculum and a black law journal, an increase in black financial aid, and a rule against expulsion of black students who fail to satisfy minimum academic standards.
An Inferiority Complex is defined as: The lack of self-worth, a doubt and uncertainty about oneself, and feelings of not measuring up to standards. It is often subconscious, and is thought to drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, sometimes marked by extremely aggressive behavior in compensation. A superiority complex is an attitude of superiority that conceals actual feelings of inferiority and failure by grossly over-compensating.
Jonathan Haidt notes: “And so the experiment continues, and it is likely to continue for many more decades unless the Supreme Court intervenes. Black students are (at least in some ways) the victims of the experiment. And in response to their legitimate anger, universities will now intensify their commitment to the experiment.” I’m not sure how legitimate their anger is, but it’s understandable. Nevertheless, we’re already beginning to witness this intensification with the massive concessions universities like Brown and Missouri have made to their vocal and chronically underachieving minorities. This should give us pause. Douglas Murray writes that there is a particular “definition of hate-crime which allows the victim (real or perceived) to be the arbiter of whether an offence has been committed. This privilege allows a list of people who believe they have been ‘trolled’ or ‘abused’ online over their ‘race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity’ to be arbiters as well as reporters of any and all such crimes. It is worth considering where this can end up.”
In any case there are real reasons for the achievement gap and our incessant attempts to rectify nature are only making things worse. The idea that egalitarianism is going to “fix” what ails the black and brown communities is utter fiction. In the 1920s, a number of American blacks took Soviet propaganda at face value and re-located to the USSR in order to escape segregation and systemic racism in America and find their own workers’ paradise. What did they actually find? Says Sean Braswell:
Comintern approved a $300,000 fund for propaganda purposes in Black America, and key African-American leaders and communist sympathizers were invited to Russia to be wooed by Lenin and other Soviet officials inside the Kremlin. One of those trained in Moscow was Lovett Fort-Whiteman, a Harlem bellman turned political activist whom Time magazine called “the Reddest of the Blacks.” (Fort-Whiteman would die in a Siberian gulag in 1939.) Others swayed by the charismatic Lenin included the Black poet Claude McKay. “If the exploited poor whites of the South could ever transform themselves into making common cause with the persecuted and plundered Negroes,” wrote McKay when he returned home, “the situation would be very similar to that of Soviet Russia today.”
The situation in many African states is, indeed, very similar to the Soviet Russia of Claude McKay’s day (rampant corruption, food shortages, executions, etc.), though far from trying to establish common cause and working in tandem to better their respective countries, the blacks have decided the best course of action is persecuting the few remaining whites. Former South African president Jacob Zuma came out in support of confiscating white-owned property without compensation, and even went on to publicly sing a song about killing whites. The situation has accelerated since with a constitutional amendment legalizing white land expropriations. South Africa’s leadership is in thrall to socialism, much like their neighbors to the north, Zimbabwe, whose former leader, Robert Mugabe, forced a medical team to lop off part of his penis after a cancerous tumor was discovered there. The noted polygamist and his exaggerated rubber prosthesis decided, “We will not prosecute killers of white farmers.”
Like an African dictator, the would-be Leftist arbiter gets to be judge, jury, and executioner, enforcing subjective social justice by diktat. Compromise, like dialogue, is rendered impossible by this fundamentally unreasonable ideology. To the Left, everyone to the right of Hitler is Hitler. This kind of rhetoric is going to continue to embolden the fringes and further polarize our discourse. In the American context, our spectrum looks something like a door-stop: the further right you go, the smaller the desired government. So no, someone like myself is not Hitler, sorry to disappoint, and neo-fascists claiming to represent the American Right are using a European paradigm, not an American one.
The ability to engage in peaceable dialogue with people we disagree with is fundamental to our liberty, and affirming our views central to our sense of individual identity. Political spectrum quibbling aside, what the Left is doing is extraordinarily insidious. Their obsession with the collective, with “inter-sectional identities,” is sacrificing freedom and individuality at the altar of an ideology that patently refuses to engage with the world as it is, but instead seeks to re-make the world in its own image. If millions of eggs need to be cracked to make this particular rotten omelet, so be it.