• The Failure of Reality

    October 15, 2022 // 7 Comments »


    Spotify once took a run at Joe Rogan. YouTube banned Dan Bongino. Twitter permanently suspended Marjorie Taylor Greene. Twitter also famously canceled Donald Trump, and me.

    As with the suspension of Trump (and on a much, much lesser scale, me) progressives cheered the deplatformings the way public lynchings used to attract a picnicking crowd. Progressives control social media (as well as most MSM) and so day-by-day their unreal world becomes ethically more cleansed, more free of things they do not like, and with all the bad news (Hunter Biden) made to go away. The world online is the way they want it to be, with the real world held at bay behind the screen. Like living in The Villages in Florida, or maybe in the Matrix.

    It is very much the same for what we’ll call social media 3-D, things like renaming high schools or tearing down statues. Those acts are the equivalent of tweets. Nothing changes because of them, but everyone feels more righteous. Might as well send the 45 cents a day to one of those TV charities and think you are solving hunger in Africa. Or posting on Facebook something saying everyone should get vaccinated, or when gays were still performing well as victims, changing your photo to a rainbow flag.

    You see it also in the blurred lines between fiction and reality. A touchpoint for understanding Trump was the dismal novel Handmaiden’s Tale. Black empowerment? Wakanda. Economic equality is fictionalized by replacing every white person in a TV commercial with a black actor, and every other Hallmark romance with a same-sex couple. Same thing when our society over-celebrates the first transgender Jeopardy! winner, or another children’s book where the cuddly caterpillar who does good deeds is nonbinary. NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park this year featured Richard III with the lead played by a black woman, no doubt as some imagine the Bard secretly intended.

    But this detachment from reality, the appearance of action instead of action, is why progressives continue to have to “raise awareness” for the same old things over and over. In the end, nothing that happens online matters. Online is just propaganda of unknown real-world effectiveness. The left celebrates the deplatforming as ending Marjorie Taylor Greene, forgetting she is still a sitting Congresswoman. Votes count, “likes” do not. Joe Rogan talks to 11 million people a week; Neil Young, his one-time media nemesis, not so many.

    The danger of all this, as each purple haired undergrad eventually bumps into the real world and realizes they/them have been played, is it creates learned helplessness at a time when America indeed faces real problems. But I tweeted about that! I posted “I stand with ____” memes for a week! I liked Dr. Fauci’s Insta! And yet you still got the Covid, huh, bro? It’s why we regularly end up with “cosmetically diverse” institutions, rather than anything real that leads to broad social progress.

    How does learned helplessness manifest itself? We might ask why with all the emphasis on change and democracy hanging by a thread, even the most contested elections are lucky to lure half the electorate away from their screens long enough to vote. Behind the smokescreen of claims Republicans are trying to disenfranchise black voters lies the reality that the Democrats have never found a way to get their favored voters off the couch to do the one thing that might still matter. I have voted in every election I was eligible for over the last 55 years. I even voted from inside an actual war, writing off for an absentee ballot. I show my ID (and until recently, vax card) to enter a restaurant; it’s not a big hurdle at the voting booth. If the whole voting thing is not yet clear, think on the difference between the purposeless extremism of pink pussy hat cosplay versus sending three judges to the Supreme Court.

    Disreality and learned helplessness are at the heart of progressivism, an oddly self-defeating stance. If one accepts the teachings of the 1619 Project and its armed wing, BLM, blacks have been the passive victims of white racism for over 400 years, a racism which has successfully resisted the Civil War and the end of slavery, Constitutional amendments, the Civil Rights Acts, and Barack Obama. The message is pretty clear: black people can’t win. That’s supposed to inspire something? What would happen with less virtue signaling inside a closed loop and more helping people who actually need help?

    Same for the Democratic election strategy of pre-declaring all upcoming elections unfair if the other side wins. Pick your channel: the Repubs will miscount the votes, or America’s proportional representation system means one man’s vote does not count because Wyoming has two senators, or the electoral college negates the make-believe victory standard of popular vote. The end result is why bother to vote when some outside thing means your vote will not count anyway. It seems an odd way to drive a party.

    We’re in a world now where being a survivor of something and telling strangers about your trauma is a way of life. I confess a naughty pleasure in reading Huffington Post Personal stories. Most of these are anecdotal tales of victimhood, the conclusion of which is usually that life is unfair and there is not much you can do about it besides make crap on Etsy to “honor” other victims. One recent story was about how moving to Britain for free medical care turned out to be unfair because the writer’s transpartner could not get testosterone shots simply based on his declared identity. Lousy NHS! Another was about how Dry January was unfair to people in forever recovery. Lousy non-drinkers! One about a progressive woman who infiltrates a right-wing mom’s group manages to cover both personal victimhood (she felt unsafe there with her, ‘natch, self-diagnosed special needs child) and the end of democracy. The scale changes but the endpoint remains the same: all victims of unfair systems and the best we can do is whine about it on our segregated social media. It is like getting stuck in a elevator with Greta Thunberg.

    I’m not sure how you fix a country being distorted by learned helplessness, with victimhood as a virtue, and which is steadily ever more convinced the real stuff of democracy, voting, doesn’t matter. If that described a football team the game would be over before the other side even showed up. Oh, hey, sorry about the sports reference; I should have cited progressive Olympic heroes, celebrated for quitting as victims of stress instead of for their athletic accomplishments.

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy

    Rape and the Modern Belief Template

    July 3, 2021 // 4 Comments »

     

    A New York Times article  details an alleged rape from some 18 years ago, and multiple incidents of sexual harassment since experienced by the author over her long career covering professional baseball in Texas.

    It follows a now near-template structure: something terrible may have taken place many years ago, long past any statute of limitations. No physical evidence remains, and there never were any witnesses. The writer kept this to herself all this time (variant: once told her close friends but no one else) but now wants to “help bring about systemic change” by making a media event of it. She never explains how her article will contribute to systemic change, or what that change is beside perhaps “less sex crimes,” something pretty much everyone already agrees on. She demands you “believe her” in lieu of proof of both the incident and evidence of the connection to something systemic (did we use this term in this way before 2021?) and condemns you if you don’t.

    Since these stories follow a template, there are some boilerplate things I need to attend to. I’m aware this is not a subject we’re allowed to talk about in a critical way. It is politically taboo, so more of your woke friends will praise you for knee-jerk reactions to this than thoughtful consideration. I am of course in no way condoning rape. Of course people unfairly use their power.

    And even though I am a non-woman I understand violence. I’ve been the victim of (non-sexual) violent crime. I know what it is like to feel unsafe. Pain is universal. As a victim I want vengeance, mean and horrible. If I could see my assailants run over by a bus I would prefer that to a judicial process that might fail. But as a citizen I have higher goals. That’s the difference between what I am writing here and the genre of victim stories which infuse progressive media.

     

    The NYT author follows the progressive victim template to a T in dropping enough hints as to her assailant that an inside baseball audience can likely make a good guess, but chooses not to name him, just as she chose not to report any of this to law enforcement or the team he played for years before. She wants change, she wants justice, but she wants it 2021-style, imploring the reader to “believe” her, scolding the men (of course) in her life who don’t believe her, and wanting to fully deny her alleged rapist any chance to defend himself. She wants no chance someone will file a defamation suit against her. She wants a one-sided argument, supported only by the new-found righteousness of 2021 that her word because she is a woman negates the rule of law and is enough to condemn someone. She won’t name him because that would trigger a fully accounting and she only wants her side printed in the New York Times. Like her assailant, no fair fight.

    Are you now knee jerking in large part agreement? Try it in a different context, a thought experiment. I implore you to believe my boss of 20 years ago stole money out of my wallet. I choose not to name her and thus disallow her the chance to explain, defend herself, or add to a narrative I’m telling you is true or else. No he said/she said if there is no he named. But I’ll drop enough hints that my old office mates know who I’m talking about now that she is in a senior position, and I’ll cite examples of not believing victims as my full justification. If you don’t buy this, you’re dismissed as a misogynist, racist, victim shamer, whatever, no further discussion allowed. The response to denying victim rights in the past is to deny the accused rights today.

    Back in the template, the author explains why she did not report her alleged rape. “I choose not to name him because it would only open me up to the possibility of having dirt thrown on my reputation.” She follows up with “I knew that if I told anyone what happened that it would ruin my career. I was 22 with no track record, and at that time — nearly two decades ago — most people in baseball would have rallied to protect the athlete.” She wraps herself in “believe me” to avoid the much harder path an actual rule-based society demands; that accusations are insufficient, all people have rights, including the right to due process and a fair hearing in court or inside Human Resources. She goes on to cite her view of the unfairness of due process as justification for bypassing the process for what one imagines she thinks is street justice journalism-style. She demands everything based on “believe me” and mocks those who would “believe him.”

    (Bonus Belief Rules: We will never talk about Tara Reade, who credibly accused Joe Biden of sexual assault. We will refer to any accusations against Biden in a jocular fashion, Old  “Touchy Feely” Joe, can’t help himself, same way we sigh and giggle when grandpa passes gas at the dinner table.)

    Let’s go back to our thought experiment and my old boss, the one I claim stole money out of my wallet years ago. Would you shake your head in sad agreement that I was justified in not revealing anything, calling the cops, or going to HR because in a self-serving way I wanted to further my own career more than getting justice and avoid the problems of her defending herself against my accusation? That I buried the crime to get ahead, indeed did get ahead, and now 20 years want it both ways, victimhood points in the New York Times, perhaps a book deal or a Tina Fey mini-series, maybe a chance to smear without consequences someone I just don’t like, and still benefit from the career success I enjoyed for shutting up?

    What if I told you my boss went on to steal (I’m told…) money from other subordinates’ wallets, that I wasn’t the first or only victim? Would you agree I really had no choice and made a righteous decision to let her slide? That by benefiting from my decision to remain silent I may have harmed others who fell victim over the years but I’m still your hero in 2021? See how your emotions change when you’re convinced the crime is less personal and the victim (white, male) less deserving? Even as I implore you to believe me in my self-serving confession after explaining to you my self-serving silence?

    If any of this sounds familiar it is, because this playbook has been run against non-progressive men again and again these last few years. Accusations, made by the right kind of victim, are as useful as verdicts to a partisan press wanting voters to believe the president is a spy, violated arcane election funding laws, or out and out is simply an actual criminal rapist. The technique reached its nadir with a picture perfect accuser (a woman reanimated out of a horcrux from Hillary herself) demanding to be believed no matter that exculpatory evidence overwhelmed her testimony, weaponized to try to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court.

    And if any of that sounds familiar it is, because in 2021 “belief” in something you already want to agree with has replaced critical thinking. A series of events is presented which are more or less true but incompletely rendered — blacks have been enslaved in America since 1619, kids learn more about Gettysburg than Tulsa — and then they are presented as causation for a modern problem. So it was because of Dutch explorers owning slaves in 1619 in what would not be America for another 150 years cops today shoot black perps. The link isn’t proven, it likely does not even exist, but believe it. Arguments, ranging from Twitter-class nutholes to considered academic thinking are dismissed with memes and insults. And you can always count on the New York Times to help out!

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy