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Ed Driscoll

God And Man At Dupont University

The Left is Slowly Devouring Itself

January 31st, 2015 - 12:55 pm

If you’ve ever wondered “What the Hell Does ‘Politically Correct’ Mean?” and would like to hear the Marxist origins of the phrase, and how it mutated into one of the catchphrases of the 1990s until today, Jesse Walker has you covered at Reason. Everyone on the right knows what it’s like to argue with someone whose been infected by the PC virus, a “word fetish,” as novelist John C. Wright dubs it, in pungent terms. “What the Leftist does in debate is utter his idiot word fetishes and slogans with the sneering hauteur of a card player displaying his trump card, or a chessmaster a checkmate,” Wright notes. “And when his nonsense does not win the debate, or even address the debate, he realized you are the OTHER, and he blames you, and insults your character, your intelligence, your education, your moral stature, your maturity, et cetera”:

When you do not return the handshake, he knows you to be the dread and dreaded OTHER, those peoples of whom he has heard but dim rumor, the non-Leftists who use that horrible thing called reason, a lamp that he hates as dearly as Gollum hates the sun.

Leftists always resort to this shift because it is the only arrow in their quiver. They do not have any reasoning to give. If they could reason, they would not be Leftists.

The Leftist must attack you. Your very existence is an affront to him, proof positive that his worldview is wrong. He has nothing to say to support his position, and he cannot shut up.

Certainly we’re seeing that played out on a national scale this month, with the crude Vietnam-era attacks from Michael Moore, Seth Rogen, Howard Dean, Bill Maher and others on the far left on Chris Kyle’s legacy due to the blockbuster success of American Sniper. These double as thinly-veiled (often not-so-thinly veiled) slurs on the rest of Red State America as well, of course, with “soft America” seething at the resurgence of “hard America,” to use Michael Barone’s phraseology from his 2004 book. How angry is soft America these days? As John Nolte noted last night at Big Hollywood, the Onion’s otherwise often enjoyable A.V. Club film and TV Website took a nasty shot this week at the owner of a small restaurant chain in Michigan who symbolically “banned” Michael Moore and Seth Rogen after their submoronic anti-American remarks. “And how does the AV Club respond to this symbolic but righteous protest? By using no fewer than 7 paragraphs to relentlessly mock the Little Guy and his business,” Nolte writes, “the saddest piece of starf**king I’ve ever come across”:

Is anyone else old enough to remember when speaking truth to and defying power was the in-thing?

When the American Left reveals who they are really for and against, it is chilling.

Know your place and shut your mouth, little man.

In one post, The AV Club revealed itself to be nothing more than a bunch of elite snobbish frat boy starf**kers at the ready to protect the wealthy and powerful against … some guy in Michigan.

Palace Guarding: The New Edgy.

However, as the PC virus spreads and metastasizes, it’s begun to devour those who carry the disease within them as well. Or as Charles Cooke writes at NRO, “The Left Realizes Too Late that Political Correctness Is a Virus, and now it’s eating their movement from within”:

Once upon a time, “political correctness” was little more than a benign left-wing version of old-church-lady tut-tutting. Today, by contrast, the designation is used to describe what has become a sprawling, unhinged, and invariably unfalsifiable conspiracy theory that can be used to dismiss anybody who violates this morning’s edition of the progressive catechism. “Gosh,” one can almost hear DeBoer and Chait asking themselves, “have we unleashed a brigade of poorly educated, parodically self-indulgent, and chronically illiberal morons into our movement, the better to destroy it from within? And, if we have, will we ever be able to rid ourselves of them?”

The answer to the latter question, one suspects, may well be “No,” for as Hollywood has taught us repeatedly over the years, it does not pay to unleash unpredictable viruses into the ecosystem — even if one gains temporarily by doing so. And make no mistake, “political correctness” is a virus — a nasty, cynical, destructive sickness that is akin in both theory and in practice to the sort of irritating malware that pushes endless streams of nonsensical dialogue windows onto your grandmother’s computer and prevents her from e-mailing her friends.

This efforts by the left to remove all who are “not of the body” as they say on Star Trek have been going on for a while — recall the intramural struggles in 2006 when the Kos Kidz tossed earnest liberal Joe Lieberman from the Democrat Party, and the equally nasty scrum in 2007 and 2008 in which the Obama supporters accused everyone of racism — starting with Hillary and Bill Clinton and their supporters. But as John Madden used to say whenever a long-struggling NFL team temporarily thrilled its fan base and finally made it to the Super Bowl, “winning is the best deodorant.” Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 papered over a lot of the cracks in the century-old coalition of self-described “Progressives.”

But once Obama revealed himself to be the tyro politician that all of his critics from Bill and Hillary on the left to John McCain and Sarah Palin on the right warned that he was in 2008, and once it was obvious that Socialist Utopia wasn’t going to be immediately reached, the left resumed its slow crack-up. 2011 saw the rise of Occupy Wall Street, which was largely a far left versus center left battle. As Cooke notes in his article, this week saw Jonathan Chait of New York magazine finally noticing that the PC movement has gotten out of hand, when it began to devour him, and he’s been as loyal a foot soldier in the attack on the rest of America as can be imagined.

As James Antle of the Daily Caller writes regarding Chait’s dilemma, “Political correctness is to empathy, mutual respect and human decency as Marxism is to compassion. Both transform noble impulses into joyless acts of ideological coercion.”

And speaking of Marx, how crazy has today’s left gotten? Take it away Jonah Goldberg, whose latest G-File is titled “China Syndrome Liberalism”:

I am kind of excited, or at least entertained, by the spectacle of watching the Left eat itself. It’s like a terrible virus escaped from a lab at Brown University and is now spreading across the country, island hopping from campus to campus and beyond (I don’t merely mix metaphors, I put them in a salad spinner). My buddy James Lileks writes about how left-wing students at Berkeley (sort of redundant, I know) are starting to turn on Marx, not because of his potted theories of the dialectic, his crude reductionism of man to homo economicus, or even the fact that he set the foundation for turning the 20th century into an abattoir. No, Marx is bad because he’s just another dead white guy. The students write in the school paper:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

First let me interject by noting that the moment anyone says to you “We are calling for an occupation of syllabi,” you can put your headphones back on and finish watching the latest episode of Gotham, because nothing that follows will be worth your time.

Anyway, they go on to gripe that Marx worked from the assumption that there are — or were — differences between men and women. The madman! The professor’s statement in defense of Marx, that “women give birth while men do not,” was enough to make some students flee the room, no doubt in search of a gender-neutral fainting couch. (“Don’t look at me! I’m all man” — The Couch).

This is like watching Godzilla stomp across Tokyo and your only complaint is he’s not wearing pants.

This is followed in Jonah’s G-File by the story of Mount Holyoke College cancelling their showing of Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues” because “it is demeaning to ‘women’ who have penises,” as National Review on Dead Tree (accurately) deadpans. Meanwhile Reason spots even more campus PC madness as, “CUNY Tells Profs Not to Say ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ Because That’s Offensive and Illegal-ish (It’s Not).”

Or as Jonah adds:

[W]hen you think about it, the really funny part is that we’re still hearing how we conservatives need to get control of our nutjobs and extremists before average Americans will take us seriously. I’ll tell you what: “What.” I’ll also tell you that the typical Joe on the street will find gun rights and the Tenth Amendment reasonable and mainstream long before he gets his head around the idea that The Vagina Monologues is sexist because it lacks wangs in the cast — and I don’t mean Asians.

Heh.

Recently, Robert Tracinski asked at the Federalist, “Have We Already Reached Peak Leftism?” Certainly its efforts to consume itself are one sign of that, as is the recent implosion of the New Republic and the Andrew Sullivan’s self-imposed timeout announcement this week. And somewhat related to all of the above, there’s an understandable level of exhaustion among several of the left’s key components after having to defend the Obama administration’s insanities over the past six years (seven or eight actually, counting the time that Democrat operatives with bylines like Sullivan began to actively cheerlead for him.)

As Tracinski concludes:

What I mean to suggest is not that reversion to the mean is inevitable, but that this is an opportunity. The Left’s very strength, its nearly exclusive control of key cultural institutions, is also a weakness. Holding the line on a 95 percent groupthink in academia and the arts might end up being a lot harder than disrupting the leftist orthodoxy.

That disruption can happen only if a lot of people put forth a lot of effort to make it happen. But we have a powerful factor on our side: reversion to the mean.

I hope he’s right, but I fear the left’s century-long efforts bunkering deep into the media, academia and (of course) bureaucracies from the federal down to local governments throughout America means that it will be quite sometime before it’s even temporarily morning in America again, to coin a phrase.

Life Has Become Super-Cereal

January 27th, 2015 - 12:47 pm

“Why A Fake Article Titled ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?’ Was Accepted By 17 Medical Journals,” Fast Company explains:

Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are “novel and innovative”!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are “novel and innovative”!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Shrime’s experiment, uncovering numerous bogus scientific publications that will publish anything for a buck is sort of the reverse of the experiment by an NYU physics professor named Alan D. Sokal, who in 1995, who drafted the most densely-written academic gobbledegook he could imagine, titled it “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” sent it off to a leading academic publication, who happily, cluelessly published it.

Ultimately, unless you’ve set out to publish a long form advertorial or quasi-direct response ad, if you have to pay to publishing something (beyond say, monthly badwidth charges if you host your own Website or blog, of course), you’re doing it wrong.

But two questions: Why shouldn’t Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” apply exclusively to laymen?

And doesn’t this article call out for the expert commentary of one superstar political commentator in particular?

The Theory of Moral Relativity Defined

January 24th, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Shot:

Chaser:


Shot:

Chaser:

Hangover:


Paul Johnson, call your office.
Update: “You know, Robert Conquest once wrote, ‘The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies,’ but that statement is striking a little too close to home lately.”

Heh. At Patheos, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry notes that “The chair of Germany’s Martin Heidegger Society resigned in genuine horror after some of Heidegger’s private papers were released and showed that, surprise, surprise, he was an anti-semite.”

Go figure. Or as the lunatic stage director hired by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel’s characters in Mel Brooks’ The Producers says after perusing the script for Springtime for Hitler, “Did you know, I never knew that the Third Reich meant Germany. I mean it’s just drenched with historical goodies like that!”

Here’s more from Gobry; read the whole thing:

The immense awkwardness that is Heidegger’s Nazi affiliation is always quite a thing to behold. The simple fact of the matter is that, in terms of influence and also perhaps quality, Heidegger is a giant of 20th century philosophy, and one whose influence was felt primarily on the “Left.” The fact that a man who exercised such a tremendous influence on postmodern and progressive philosophy was also a Hitler supporter obviously raises eyebrows.

Only to those who haven’t been paying attention, or who have deliberately looked away. As I said, read the whole thing. And don’t miss the quote on relativism near the end of Gobry’s article from “Benito.”

Update:Education: 2010: U. Topia: Liberals envision a perfect world, and it looks a lot like campus,” Jonah Goldberg wrote in a 2010 issue of National Review:

There’s a certain kind of elite student who takes himself very, very seriously. Raised on a suite of educational TV shows and books that insist he is the most special person in the world — studies confirm that Generation Y is the most egocentric and self-regarding generation in our history — he is away from home for the first time, enjoying his first experience of freedom from his parents. Those same parents are paying for his education, which he considers his birthright. Shelter is provided for him. Janitors and maids clean up after him. Security guards protect him. Cooks shop for him and prepare his food. The health center provides him medical care and condoms aplenty. Administrators slave away at finding new ways for him to have fun in his free time. He drinks with abandon when he wants to, and the consequences of his bacchanalia are usually somewhere between mild and nonexistent. Sex is as abundant as it is varied. If he does not espouse any noticeably conservative or Christian attitudes, his every utterance in the classroom is celebrated as a “valuable perspective.” All that is demanded of him is that he pursue his interests and, perhaps, “find himself” along the way. His ethical training amounts to a prohibition on bruising the overripe self-esteem of another person, particularly a person in good standing with the Coalition of the Oppressed (blacks, Latinos, Muslims, women, gays, lesbians, transsexuals, et al.). Such offenses are dubbed hate crimes and are punished in a style perfected in Lenin’s utopia: through the politicized psychiatry known as “sensitivity training.”

Heidegger would approve, of course. But then, he was the modern campus’s inspiration.

The Closing of the American Mind

January 20th, 2015 - 1:19 pm

“College celebrates MLK’s dream with white privilege event,” Campus Reform reports:

The all-women’s college in Massachusetts celebrated Martin Luther King Jr., Day on Monday with a two-hour interactive event on “white privilege” and what “being white means post Ferguson.”

According to an email sent out to the student body from Mount Holyoke’s Office of Student Programs and obtained by Campus Reform, the event was facilitated by Elizabeth Thompson, an area coordinator for the school’s residential life, and Jessica Avery, a Mount Holyoke student. Both Thompson and Avery are white.

Monday’s event had student attendees develop their own definition of “white privilege,” according to a student who attended the event and wished to remain anonymous.

Huh. I can remember decades ago, a prominent American stressing the vital importance of judging people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.

Say, what was his name again?

Related: “MSNBC: Bobby Jindal is ‘trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin.’”

You stay classy, Jim Crow TV.

The Closing of the British Mind

January 20th, 2015 - 12:54 pm

“Progressivism:” Where time stands still:

By 1932, a frustrated [H.G.] Wells found his superior wisdom bypassed time and again by the superior mass appeal of fascism and Communism. In a talk at Oxford provocatively titled “Liberal Fascism,” he called for liberalism to be “born again.” After his customary denunciation of parliamentary politics as an anachronism, he let out his frustrations, calling for fascist means to serve liberal ends by way of a liberal elite as “conceited” and as power-hungry as its rivals. “I suggest that you study the reinvigoration of Catholicism by Loyola,” Wells said. “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti.” It was also to Communism that “we shall have to turn—we outsiders, that is, the young people with foresight for enlightened Nazis; I am proposing that you consider the formation for a greater Communist Party; a western response to Russia.”

“The Godfather of American Liberalism,” Fred Siegel’s history of H.G. Wells as “novelist, historian, authoritarian, anticapitalist, eugenicist, and advisor to presidents,” City Journal, Spring 2009. (And yes, Wells’ speech was the inspiration for the title of a best-selling book with the same name in 2008.)

Flash-forward to November of 2014:

I spent Thanksgiving debating at the Oxford Union.

Oxford University is the most prestigious university in the world. And the Oxford Union, hosting debates since 1823, is the world’s most prestigious stage for competing ideas. These facts made what transpired all the more depressing.

The proposition debated was: “Hamas is a greater obstacle to peace than Israel.”

When first apprised of the topic, I was so certain that an error had been made that I called both my debating partner, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and Oxford to confirm it. Outside of the Muslim world and the far Left, who would even think to argue that Hamas is not the greater obstacle to peace?

Is the Oxford Union unaware that the Hamas charter calls for — indeed the raison d’être of Hamas is — the destruction of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state? Yet, the proposition lost by a vote of 190 to 130, give or take a few votes. In other words, a majority of Oxford University students voting at the Oxford Union deem Israel a greater threat than Hamas.

“Oxford and the Crisis of the University: A debate on Hamas and Israel illustrates the moral confusion that reigns on campus,” Dennis Prager, National Review Online, today.

Allan Bloom, the author of The Closing of the American Mind, and Paul Johnson, whose best-selling Modern Times begins with a treatise on “The theory of moral relativity” wouldn’t be at all surprised by the Weimar-esque mental stasis at Oxford.

Related: “CNN’s Beating Up On Jindal, But CNN Ran A Report About ‘No-Go Zones’ in London.”

Where’s the Progressive End Zone?

January 5th, 2015 - 3:13 pm

“Some years ago, after his governorship of NY, [the late Mario] Cuomo had a short-lived national radio talk show,” Maggie’s Farm reminiscences:

I phoned in once, on a whim. He was gracious, warm, and pleasant, and I was pleasant to him. I asked him what was on liberalism’s agenda. He said government needs to provide and run medical care in the US. I said “OK, what after that?” He hesitated. I said “How about government car insurance?” He said “That’s definitely something to look into.”

Then I got to my point: I asked him “At what point is the progressive agenda complete – where does it end?”  He hesitated again, then said (approx) “Government needs to assure that all Americans get what they need.” I cheerfully responded “That’s what I thought.” It went on for a brief while.

So Cuomo was basically LBJ minus the ten-gallon hat?

In a 1964 campaign rally in Providence, RI, Lyndon Johnson, standing on the hood of a car and armed with a bullhorn, summed up the Great Society for the assembled masses: “I just want to tell you this — we’re in favor of a lot of things and we’re against mighty few.”

40 years later, in the Wall Street Journal, later reprinted by the Claremont Institute, William Voegeli attempted to narrow things down a bit, and ask the same question that Cuomo was asked on his mercifully brief radio show: what’s the end game? How much control, how much regulation is enough? This of course was back in 2004, when the federal government under then-President Bush was merely gigantic, not yet leviathan:

The Democrats’ problem is not that they, like “Seinfeld,” are a show about nothing. It’s that they are a show about everything, or anything. (At one point, the Kerry-for-president Web site referred to 79 separate federal programs he wanted to create or expand.)

Ruy Teixeira says that after 2004, “the bigger question is: What do the Democrats stand for?” Here’s a better and bigger question still: What do the Democrats stand against? Tell us, if indeed it’s true, that Democrats don’t want to do for America what social democrats have done for France or Sweden. Tell us that the stacking of one government program on top of the other is going to stop, if indeed it will, well short of a public sector that absorbs half the nation’s income and extensively regulates what we do with the other half. Explain how the spirit of live-and-let-live applies, if indeed it does, to everyone equally–to people who take family, piety and patriotism seriously, not merely to people whose lives and outlooks are predicated on regarding them ironically.

Until those questions are answered, until Americans have confidence about the limits liberalism will establish and observe, it’s hard to see when the Democratic narrative will again have a happy ending.

In the time, as America continues with the aftermath of reaching what was (hopefully!) Peak Left in 2009, “unexpected” repercussions keep occurring, even to the elite leftists who forced these disasters onto the rest of us:

“Seriously: to quote Oscar Wilde’s famous witticism, you would need to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the way Harvard professors are reacting to the news that they now have deductables and out-of-pocket limits and co-pays and all the rest of it.” Plus this is fun:

A smart “Progressive” so baffled by the other side of the aisle. So very, very baffled. To borrow from one of the left’s most oft-repeated phrases they employ to avoid even a hint of doubleplusungood crimethink, “I can’t understand” why that keeps happening so…“unexpectedly.”

Update: James Taranto on Cuomo’s passing and his boosters among the far left “Village People.”

In the “United States of Anxiety,” Kevin D. Williamson of NRO writes:

Liberal, open societies are always vulnerable to encroachments from illiberal forces with sufficient motivation, whether it’s the totalitarians in Pyongyang, the ones in Riyadh, or the ones in Cambridge, Mass. That’s especially true when elites lose their confidence in such liberal principles as free speech and freedom of conscience. As soon as you accept the premise that a person’s right to free speech (or a professor’s ability to conduct his class) is circumscribed by another person’s “right” not to be offended, then you have jettisoned principle entirely, and all that’s left is brute-force negotiation — a situation in which the partisans of liberty and humaneness always find themselves lamentably outnumbered. And if we’ve learned anything from the waning days of Harry Reid, during which Senate Democrats attempted to repeal the First Amendment, it is that our own elites do not have very much confidence in traditional American liberalism.

In “Collectivism and the presumption of guilt,” Red State’s John Hayward rounds up the First Lady’s then-and-now flashbacks of her 2011 trip to Target, Samuel L. Jackson’s cry of racism in the deaths of petty criminals Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the Australian “I’ll Ride With You” journalistic fable and similar stories and concludes:

What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed.  The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her.  If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology.  We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.

This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism.  The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals.  That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals.  Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things.  There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you.  There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.

This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.

And increasingly, through once-respected journalistic outlets such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Washington Post and NBC, they’re not afraid to admit it.

Asking the Important Questions

December 18th, 2014 - 10:29 am

Should All Women On Campus Be Allowed to Openly Carry A Handgun Since President Obama Claims There’s A Rape Epidemic? Are You Pro-Rape If You Want to Deny A Women Their Constitutional Right to Defend Themselves Against A Rape Culture?”

In answer to the first question, what, and actually give up being victims? In answer to the second, I’m sure if asked to Barry, Joe, Hillary, and virtually every college dean, they’d be quick to reply that hey, it’s not an epidemic-epidemic, to paraphrase Whoopi Goldberg’s defense, of you know, a rapist.

Of course, there’s an alternative approach that could be tried as well…

Update: And speaking of gun bans — in this case, toy gun bans — what could go wrong here?

More: Potemkin numbers, all the way down.

The Last Grownup at Oberlin

December 16th, 2014 - 1:19 pm

ferguson_oberlin_no_12-16-14-3

“No Exam Delay for Oberlin Students ‘Traumatized’ By Grand Jury Decisions,” Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes at Reason’s Hit & Run blog, spotting a hilarious exchange between a distaff Oberlin freshman (apologies for using that doubleplus ungood crimethink oldspeak word) and her terse, but spot-on professor, who just might be the only grownup left at Oberlin. And it gets better:

After receiving his professor’s response, the student posted the exchange publicly to Facebook, with the message: “TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”

But I don’t mean to pick too much on this student, an Oberlin freshman. This is the environment she’s inherited and set of social cues she’s learned from people who should know far better—like professors and administrators at Ivy League law schools, for a start.

 

Stephen Kruiser nominates Professor Raney as “Teacher of the Year,” but wonders how long before he’ll be experiencing the joys of President Obama’s “Funemployment:”

Look for this guy to be out of a job within the year. Dissent from the progressive orthodoxy is not tolerated.

But what I’m really waiting for is Oberlin alumnus Lena Dunham to weigh in with her take on Mr. Raney.

These Kids Today!

December 15th, 2014 - 12:03 pm

The Atlantic whines about “The Cheapest Generation: Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy:”

In 2009, Ford brought its new supermini, the Fiesta, over from Europe in a brave attempt to attract the attention of young Americans. It passed out 100 of the cars to influential bloggers for a free six-month test-drive, with just one condition: document your experience online, whether you love the Fiesta or hate it.

Young bloggers loved the car. Young drivers? Not so much. After a brief burst of excitement, in which Ford sold more than 90,000 units over 18 months, Fiesta sales plummeted. As of April 2012, they were down 30 percent from 2011.

Don’t blame Ford. The company is trying to solve a puzzle that’s bewildering every automaker in America: How do you sell cars to Millennials (a k a Generation Y)? The fact is, today’s young people simply don’t drive like their predecessors did. In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008.

In a bid to reverse these trends, General Motors has enlisted the youth-brand consultants at MTV Scratch—a corporate cousin of the TV network responsible for Jersey Shore—to give its vehicles some 20-something edge. “I don’t believe that young buyers don’t care about owning a car,” says John McFarland, GM’s 31-year-old manager of global strategic marketing. “We just think nobody truly understands them yet.” Subaru, meanwhile, is betting that it can appeal to the quirky eco-­conscious individualism that supposedly characterizes this generation. “We’re trying to get the emotional connection correct,” says Doug O’Reilly, a publicist for Subaru. Ford, for its part, continues to push heavily into social media, hoping to more closely match its marketing efforts to the channels that Millennials use and trust the most.

In 2012, Ann Althouse spotted the New York Times sneeringly dub Millenials the “The Go-Nowhere Generation” and complaining that “Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent.”

As Althouse replied, “Isn’t that what the Boomer generation told them to do? Cars are bad. They are destroying the planet. Then, when they avoid driving, we scold them for being — what? — sedentary? unambitious? incurious?!”

If they were supposed to believe that movie — “An Inconvenient Truth” — that was showed to them by one public school teacher after another, why aren’t we celebrating them now for their teeny tiny carbon footprint? Just give them a tiny room and a computer with high-speed internet, and they’ll be perfectly happy.

But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother….

Etc. etc. These kids today! Speaking of “Why Bother,” why did we boomers bother to teach them to sneer at aggressive capitalism, consumeristic acquisitiveness, and driving powerful cars if we were going to turn around and whine about their not competing vigorously enough?

Over to you, Atlantic, Vox, BuzzFeed, Gray Lady, and their ultimate boss, our semi-retired president, who began down the path to his golden Millennial-funded retirement plan with gems such as this in 2008:

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

Rolling Stone and the Myth of a Rape Epidemic

December 13th, 2014 - 2:08 pm

“The stunning news that Rolling Stone now disowns its story that claimed a female student was gang-raped at a University of Virginia (UVA) fraternity shows that the drive to root out ‘rape culture’ is spinning out of control,” Sean Collins of England’s Spiked writes. “We’re living through a full-blown panic, akin to the daycare sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s and early 1990s, with bad consequences for both women and men:”

The unravelling of the Rolling Stone article is not an isolated event, nor simply the case of one journalist’s lapse in ethics. The New York Times has highlighted cases at colleges such as Columbia and Hobart and William Smith, among others, in a similar way to Rolling Stone’s latest, focusing on the accuser’s allegations at the expense of the full picture (an enterprising journalist might revisit these stories, too). But more importantly, the UVA story is the product of a fevered atmosphere whipped up by ‘rape culture’ campaigners, an atmosphere where advocacy and emotion override fact.

Central to the myth of a rape epidemic is a statistic: that one in five women are sexually assaulted on US campuses over four years. The survey from which this statistic derives has been thoroughly debunked by Christina Hoff Sommers and others, who note, in particular, that the survey was based on a small sample (two schools) and a definition of assault so broad as to include uninvited touching and kissing, which even most respondents did not think rose to the level of an attack. In fact, according to more reliable Department of Justice data, sexual assault has fallen by more than 50 per cent in recent years, to a rate of 1.1 per 1,000 women, with similar rates on and off campus.

Found via Kate of Small Dead Animals, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist asks if by singling out Rolling Stone, and its journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely, conservatives aren’t ignoring or downplaying the bigger picture, the “widespread journalistic worship of narrative and advocacy over truth,” expected in political coverage, it’s now rampant in all facets of modern journalism, from sports to videogame magazines to (of course) radical environmentalism.

But let’s not move on entirely from examining the corruption at Rolling Stone just yet. Veteran blogger Tom Maguire senses a pattern in their reporting of campus rapes, and/or the lack thereof.

Update: As one Rolling Stone-approved artist would say, strike a pose, there’s nothing to it:

More: ”The Violent Threat Near UVA that Rolling Stone Downplayed,” as spotted by Jim Geraghty, who adds, “This is one more consequence of ‘narrative journalism’: When you set out to write the evil-fraternities story, you end up missing the serial-killer-stalks-campus story.”

Oh, that return of the primitive. Backwards ran the progress until reeled the mind:

While drunk and naked. At the Weekly Standard, James W. Ceaser of the University of Virginia charts “The Flight from Reason on Campus,” while at Harvard, you can actually see it as it jogs away. As Sonny Bunch notes in astonishment on Twitter linking to an article in yesterday’s Harvard Crimson, “This is the greatest story ever told:”

A group of about 30 students attempted to hold a silent demonstration in the first minutes of Primal Scream, a biannual naked run around Harvard Yard, early Thursday morning, inadvertently leading to a chaotic exchange of words and gestures that reversed the usual direction of the run and left many questioning the significance of the heated interaction.

The run is a College tradition in which students, at times inebriated, run naked around the Yard on the eve of the first day of exams. It usually attracts more than a hundred participants.

Protesters said that their goal was not to protest Primal Scream itself, but to hold a four-and-a-half minute period of silence before the run for Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner of New York—two unarmed black men who were killed by white police officers this summer—and to join in solidarity for people around the nation who have experienced racism. The organizers of the demonstration had posted a Facebook event describing their plans for the protest ahead of the event.

While protesters said they felt ignored and angered by the actions of Primal Scream participants, several students in the run said they could not see nor hear the protesters because of the noise and nature of the gathering, with some saying they would have participated in the protest if they had known about it in advance.

Read the whole thing; perhaps I need to update my usual line about Orwell’s 1984 being a how-to guide for the left — and remind them that neither is the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. I’d say we’ve definitely spotted the next leaders of Freedonia, but alas, these are the future leaders of us.

Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Update: Stacy McCain on “Our Oppressed Elites.” As Stanley Kurtz noted last year at NRO, “What do America’s college students want? They want to be oppressed.”

The New Barbarism: Truth Is Optional

December 13th, 2014 - 12:32 pm

Bill Whittle puts all the pieces together in Ferguson and beyond; watch the whole thing. And note this passage from about halfway through Bill’s video:

[Tawana Brawley's story] would, indeed, be horrible. If it were… you know… actually true. But it wasn’t true. Brawley made up the story to avoid a beating from her mother. Despite the fact that she named and slandered an innocent man, Assistant DA Steven Pagones (who eventually was awarded $345,000 for defamation), in 1991Legal scholar Patricia j. Williams wrote that Brawley “has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her—and even if she did it to herself.” 

We clear on that? Doctor of Jurisprudence from Harvard Law School and current law professor at Columbia University, said that Tawana Brawley — who slandered an innocent man with the most vile charges imaginable to avoid a beating from her own mother — was not the perpetrator of an unspeakable crime, but the victim of one.

These are the new barbarians. Truth doesn’t matter. Law doesn’t matter. Individual lives do not matter. All that matters is Progressive politics, Progressive intimidation and Progressive power.

Just a few days ago, Brietbart reporter John Nolte traveled to Oberlin college to look into widely-read rape allegations on the part of Progressive darling Lena Dunham. Dunham, you may remember, was called on by Barack Obama personally to help get out the youth vote. Truth Revolt’s own Ben Shapiro published a withering critique of what is nothing but infant sexual molestation which Dunham brags about in her best-seller, “Not That Kind of Girl” – allegations utterly unremarked upon by Dunham’s admirers on the Left.

After recapping Nolte’s trip to Oberlin to clear the reputation of “Barry,” Dunham’s fellow student at Oberlin whose reputation she later casually smeared in her autobiography, Whittle adds:

How did Dunham, and Brawley, and millions of other New Barbarians get this way? They were taught, that’s how. While trying to find the identity of this famed mustachioed, purple-boot wearing, Conservative Republican Racist named Barry, John Nolte spoke with Sophie Hess, manager of the on-campus radio station, about searching the records for Real Talk with Jimbo.When he explained that he was only searching for the truth, this college administrator suddenly turned cold and said, “Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant. It’s just not important if they are telling the truth.” When Nolte explained he was simply trying to clear the name of an innocent man, this Progressive Barbarian retracted her offer to search the archives and asked him to leave.

Both quotes dovetail perfectly with some of “Jackie’s” more intense supporters at the University of Virginia. As we noted yesterday, their student newspaper quoted a pair of college-age video makers who told the paper:

“I felt people were fixating on the details and quality of Rolling Stone reporting, and the fact is, whatever happened, something happened to Jackie,” Mirza said. “And even if she made up the story, things like this do happen, and there are sexual assaults that don’t get reported, so I meant to bring the focus back to Jackie. Whatever comes of this, we’re still behind her and we still think she did something brave by coming forward.”

In response, Mark Steyn wrote:

The blogger Oliver Willis thinks it’s “super dangerous” that the right is seizing on the implosion of Rolling Stone‘s story to insist that “all rape allegations can be ignored”. But isn’t it the left that’s trivializing real rape by according fake rape the same protected status? After all, if Jackie is incredibly “brave” for “coming forward” to “pull back the curtain” on something that never happened, if “gang rape” no longer requires either rape or a gang, if it is not necessary to have actually been attacked, brutalized and sexually violated in order to be a rape victim, then what’s the big deal if one has been?

Shades of 1997′s Wag the Dog, in which Dustin Hoffman’s Hollywood executive and Robert DeNiro’s Carville-esque political fixer stage a fake war in a green screen studio to salvage’s the president’s tanking poll numbers and afterwards quip:

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean [DeNiro]: Well, if Kissinger can win the Peace Prize, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find out I’d won the Preakness.

Stanley Motss [Hoffman]: Well, yes but, our guy DID bring peace.

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Yeah, but there wasn’t a war.

Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.

But then, considering how much stuff the left made up throughout the 20th century to advance their cause, why shouldn’t the new millennium begin in exactly the same fashion? Or to put it another way, “When The Legend Becomes Fact, Print The Legend.”

Related: “Lynched effigies reportedly discovered at UC Berkeley [photos].”

Flashback: “Scared America: 8 Crises and Collective Panics of the 1970s.”

Communist Propaganda Writ Small

December 13th, 2014 - 10:40 am

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

—Theodore Dalrymple, as quoted by Mark Steyn yesterday in the wake of Rolling Stone’s meltdown over its collapsing University of Virginia rape story. Along a similar line, Ann Althouse spots a New York Times columnist on Thursday drafting a column which posits, “What if every kid on every college campus was given new language — a phrase whose meaning could not be mistaken, that signaled peril for both sides, that might be more easily uttered?”

A doubleplus good rip off of George Orwell’s “Newspeak,” Althouse notes, the dumbed-down, Soviet and Nazi-inspired socialist proto-PC language spoken by the Inner and Outer Party controlling England in 1984:

His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by the two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity). Sexcrime covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication, adultery, homosexuality and other perversions, and, in addition, normal intercourse practised for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle, all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialised names to certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them. He knew what was meant by goodsex— that is to say, normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman: all else was sexcrime. In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it was heretical: beyond that point the necessary words were non-existent.

Yet another reminder that consciously or otherwise, the left views 1984 as a how-to guide, and not Orwell’s warning of wear socialism invariably leads.

Related: “‘I could cry right now’: Al Sharpton’s DC protest blasted for VIP section, threats to call security.” Hey, all violent socialist revolutions end with an Outer Party performing all the actual manual labor and an Inner Party reaping their spoils — why would Al’s be the exception?

‘Even If She Made Up The Story…’

December 12th, 2014 - 2:11 pm

So what if innocent men go to jail or have their reputations ruined, right? The important thing is “raising awareness.” Truth? Who cares about that?! Or as the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily student newspaper reports, “Student-produced video thanks Jackie for ‘pulling back the curtain’ on rape:”

Atthar Mirza and Elizabeth Ballou — second and third-year College students, respectively — released a self-made video Thursday evening thanking Jackie for telling her story and offering support for sexual assault survivors in the University community.

* * * * * * * * * * *

“I felt people were fixating on the details and quality of Rolling Stone reporting, and the fact is, whatever happened, something happened to Jackie,” Mirza said. “And even if she made up the story, things like this do happen, and there are sexual assaults that don’t get reported, so I meant to bring the focus back to Jackie. Whatever comes of this, we’re still behind her and we still think she did something brave by coming forward.”

Mirza produced the video himself using Adobe After Effects software. Ballou edited the script and provided the voice-over for the short piece. The pair met after receiving prizes for a contest held last month commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“We were eating brunch at Pigeon Hole, talking about projects we were both working on, and Rolling Stone came up because I was very angry about the Rolling Stone retraction,” Ballou said. “He said he was doing a video and asked if I wanted to look at the text and do the voice over. We met up in the media lab and I looked over the text and changed some things, and went into the recording booth and voiced.”

Beyond its echoes of the New York Times dismissing Dan Rather’s lying in 2004 as “fake but accurate,” the “Even if she made up the story” line also rhymes eerily with the story of an earlier young fabricator who was manipulated to advance Social[ist] Justice. “Sharpton acknowledged to me early on that ‘The [Tawana Brawley] story do sound like bull—t, but it don’t matter. We’re building a movement.”

In the Washington Examiner, Ashe Schow writes, “We now live in a society where the search for the truth — things like facts and evidence and true investigation — is labeled as victim-blaming and an impediment to justice:”

A society where an accuser’s word — and sometimes, a university’s made-up version of the accuser’s word — becomes gospel, and evidence provided by the accused is ignored. A society where false statistics are repeated and those who disagree are disparaged as “rape apologists.”

The conversation has become so dishonest and hysterical that policies being crafted are rewarding punishment over truth. Until common sense takes over, we are going to see a lurch toward advocacy over facts, where police and the media need to condemn anyone accused of sexual assault without any evidence.

But it has a great upside at the ballot box. And apparently the left isn’t too concerned about the environmental impact of burning huge strawmen in the process:

Update: Rolling Stone “journalist” Sabrina Erdely “Was Once Disciplined By Stephen Glass For Fabrication,” Sean Davis writes today in the Federalist.

Tom Wolfe, Malcolm Muggeridge, call your office — yet another absurd moment no satirist could make up. “But if you can, you might want to send your resume to Rolling Stone,” Davis adds.

Shattered Glass, Then and Now

December 11th, 2014 - 12:39 pm

“Too many reporters have ‘Jackies’ — politicians and causes they trust uncritically no matter what,” Mollie Hemingway writes at the Federalist, with her take on what increasingly looks like Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s media fabulism in Rolling Stone magazine, and how it bears a strong resemblance to the earlier fabulism of the New Republic’s infamous Stephen Glass from the 1990s:

Stephen Glass was a journalist at The New Republic who made up stories, or significant parts of them. Three dozen of the 41 stories he wrote for The New Republic were said to be fabricated in part or in whole, along with articles for George and Rolling Stone.

I knew Stephen Glass was full of it in 1997 after I read his absolutely incredible story about all the sex and crazy partying done by young Republicans at a conservative gathering called CPAC. I had been at enough conservative functions — including that one — to know that they would have been a heck of a lot more interesting if they focused on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. But in the fever dreams of Stephen Glass, they did. Here are the opening two paragraphs of the very detailed story that, it later turned out, nobody could verify:

On the fourth floor of Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel, eight young men sit facing each other on the edge of a pair of beds. They are all 20 or 21 and are enrolled in Midwestern colleges. Each is wearing a white or blue shirt with the top button unfastened, and each has his striped tie loosened. One of the young men, an Ohioan, is wearing a green and white button that reads: “Save the Males.” The minibar is open and empty little bottles of booze are scattered on the carpet. On the bed, a Gideon Bible, used earlier in the night to resolve an argument, is open to Exodus. In the bathroom, the tub is filled with ice and the remnants of three cases of Coors Light. The young men pass around a joint, counterclockwise…

Over the next hour, in a haze of beer and pot, and in between rantings about feminists, gays and political correctness, the young men hatch a plan. Seth, a meaty quarterback from a small college in Indiana, and two others will drive to a local bar. There, the three will choose the ugliest and loneliest woman they can find. “Get us a real heifer, the fatter the better, bad acne would be a bonus,” Michael shouts. He is so drunk he doesn’t know he is shouting. Seth will lure the victim, whom they call a “whale,” back to the hotel room. The five who stay behind will hide under the beds. After Seth undresses the whale, the five will jump out and shout, “We’re beaching! Whale spotted!” They will take a photograph of the unfortunate woman.

So we have eight conservative men — first names only, thank you! — who participate in a gang sexual assault after drinking beer and smoking a joint. Where have I heard this story beforesince?

Heh. As Allahpundit quipped yesterday at Hot Air, “Trust no Penn graduates from the class of 1994,” in his post titled, “Devastating: WaPo report strongly suggests Jackie made up the UVA rape story whole cloth,” he linked to the Rosetta Stone of fabulists — Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s profile of Glass and the 2003 biopic of his downfall, Shattered Glass, for her University of Pennsylvania student newspaper.

And keep reading Hemingway’s article for yet another coincidence, albeit one likely not intended by Erdely — plenty of shattered glass appears in her Rolling Stone profile of “Jackie,” which led to the beginnings of the story’s unraveling.

Related: Glenn Reynolds adds:

I’d also like to know how much coordination there was among folks at UVA — Emily Renda worked in UVA President Teresa Sullivan’s office, and on the White House “It’s On Us” campus rape group, and I believe was the one who told Erdely about Jackie’s case — and Rolling Stone, and the White House, and Sens. Gillibrand and McCaskill. Perhaps someone will ask them, or submit a FOIA request to the White House and a state FOIA to President Sullivan’s office. Conveniently, McCaskill and Gillibrand aren’t subject to FOIA, but that doesn’t stop intrepid reporters from asking them.

I’d also be interested in hearing from reporters themselves: Was the White House pushing this story?

Yes, I’d like to hear from all the president’s stenographers as well.

Empty Integrity: The New Morality

December 7th, 2014 - 2:07 pm

How is it going to work out for us all?, Jonah Goldberg asked last month in National Review on Dead Tree:

According to Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the death of God and the coming of the übermensch was going to require the new kind of inner-directed hero to become his own god. As a result, anything society did to inconvenience the heroic individual was morally suspect, a backdoor attempt by The Man to impose conformity. This is pretty much exactly what Robin Williams teaches in Dead Poets Society. But that ethos has traveled a long way from Mork. When Barack Obama was asked by a minister to define “sin,” he confidently answered that “sin” just means being “out of alignment with my values.” Taken literally, this would mean that Hannibal Lecter is being sinful when he abstains from human flesh in favor of a Waldorf salad. As you can see, when you take the modern definition of integrity all the way to the horizon, suddenly “integrity” can be understood only as a firm commitment to one’s own principles — because one’s own principles are the only legitimate principles. Heck, if you are a god, then doing what you want is God’s will.

How’s this new morality going to work out for us all? I’m reminded of the time when an entrepreneur announced he was going to release a new line of beer laced with Viagra. Some wag immediately quipped, “What could possibly go wrong?” Which is pretty much where we are today. It’s impossible to predict what Integrity 2.0 will yield — because no society in the history of Western civilization has so energetically and deliberately torn down its classical ideal and replaced it with do-it-yourself morality. But a betting man would probably wager that this won’t end well.

I suspect that before long we’ll be pining for the good old days, when, no matter how often people failed to uphold the standards of integrity, those standards actually meant something.

Or to put the above into visual terms:

Related: “Re-read that last sentence. It was written by a senior campus journalist, someone in training now to become a professional journalist. And she doesn’t think facts are of primary importance in the narrative. Only what is useful to the cause, it would appear.”

Is Our Children Learning?

December 7th, 2014 - 11:02 am

“Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.”

—Julia Horowitz, “assistant managing editor at The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia’s student newspaper,” writing in the Politico, in a piece titled “Why We Believed Jackie’s Rape Story.”

As Dave Huber of the College Fix writes, “Horowitz — in one sentence — demonstrated what is so wrong with contemporary journalism.”

But there are plenty of Democrat operatives with bylines journalists at the Politico who in their heart of hearts absolutely concur with her.

And one more for the “Is Our Children Learning?” files:

In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled.

“Columbia Law School is permitting students claiming to be impaired due to the emotional impact of recent non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner matters to postpone taking their final exams,” Paul Mirengoff writes at Power Line. 

No word yet if fainting couches for the overly vaporous will also be supplied.

Given that today is December 7th, it’s worth nothing that while we’re separated by nearly 75 years from Pearl Harbor, an attack that killed or wounded 3500 men, many of whom were about the age of the average college student, but that culture might as well have existed on another planet.

Update: “Rush Limbaugh: For too many in the media and in politics, ‘the truth is relative.’”

The MSM Gang-Raped the Truth This Week

December 6th, 2014 - 1:23 pm

The MSM rarely acquits itself well on its best days, but this week it seemed like a particularly huge implosion by the legacy media. First up, in order to advance the narrative, and get a little payback for their bosses’ shellacking in the midterms, the media had a collective frenzy over a little-known Republican operative’s Facebook page post on the decorum of the semi-retired president’s daughters. This despite the media’s own previous obsession over GWB’s daughters. (For the MSM, mankind’s collective history now begins on January 20, 2009.)

On Wednesday, Big Journalism’s John Nolte poked massive, potentially fatal holes in Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-employed actress Lena Dunham’s claim, as written in her autobiography, that she was raped at Oberlin. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

This was followed on Thursday by “Facebook Prince” Chris Hughes blowing up the venerable leftwing but usually semi-sane New Republic, and re-purposing it as another BuzzFeed/Vox /click-bait Website, resulting in almost the entire TNR senior staff resigning en masse. As Stacy McCain’s co-blogger Smitty quips, “This is another suck-is-the-new-cool call from the manor house down to the the peasants working the fields. Dig it, lackeys.”

But the real fireworks occurred yesterday, involving Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner’s almost-equally venerable ripoff of AARP Magazine. (Wait, it may be the other way around. I find the two magazines virtually interchangeable, at least based on who’s on their covers.)

As John Hinderaker wrote yesterday at Power Line on the Dunham and Rolling Stone fiascos, It’s been “A Bad Week for Rape Culture”:

The author of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, now says that it doesn’t matter so much whether “Jackie’s” story was really true. (This is a common theme among liberals these days.) The real point of the article, she says, is that the University of Virginia didn’t respond forcefully enough to the incident. But this is a transparent bait and switch. The university’s reaction was inadequate only if the story was true. If it was false, then the university over-reacted, for example by closing down the entire fraternity system. (As William S. Burroughs said in a different context, “After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.”) There are no valid lessons to be drawn from a lie.

Then we have the case of the appalling Lena Dunham. If you have no idea who she is, you are lucky. But she wrote an autobiographical memoir (at age 28, much like her idol Barack Obama, for whom she filmed a commercial in 2012) titled Not That Kind of Girl. (It’s none of my business, but since she brought it up, she does appear to be that kind of girl.) In her book, she claimed to have been “raped by a Republican” when she was a student at Oberlin. The party designation, for her, was obviously of the essence. She described her purported rapist as a fellow Oberlin student named Barry, who was a prominent Republican on campus, had a radio show and wore a mustache.

As Hinderaker notes, there is indeed a man named Barry who went to Oberlin, sans mustache and radio show. “I agree with Eugene Volokh that Barry has a good libel case against Dunham, should he choose to bring it,” he adds.

But back to Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia. As Chris Bray of the Daily Caller writes, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the story’s author, was “rape shopping,” perhaps the ultimate example of a “journalist” starting with a sensational narrative she wanted to trumpet in a big glossy national publication, and then finding the facts to support it, and failing that, pushing the truth through the Play-Dough Fun Factory to produce the desired outcome:

[Erdely was] going from campus to campus auditioning rape victims, contacting advocacy groups and asking for introductions. But the rapes she found at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn didn’t have the right narrative feel. They were just rapes, and she needed a cover-worthy rape. So she kept shopping until she found someone who would tell her a version of the story she had already decided to tell. She needed a big rape — something splashy, something with wild details and a frat house. She needed a rape that would go viral. You can’t do that with just some regular boring rape.

Bray concludes:

Meanwhile, real problems go unreported, because boooooring. Look again at how casual the discard pile is: “She talked to people at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. None of those schools felt quite right.”

Get better rapes, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn. Let’s face it: For magazine journalism, yours just aren’t colorful enough.

Jonah Goldberg of National Review took particular heat for his column, which first ran on Tuesday in the L.A. Times, for doubting the veracity of Erdely’s Rolling Stone article. In his G-File yesterday, written before Rolling Stone walked the story back, he responded to one of his critics at the L.A. Times:

First of all, we aren’t talking about “a rape allegation” we are talking about this rape allegation. Crandall is simply wrong to say I can’t “appreciate the very real fear of being chastised for reporting a rape.” Her mind-reading skills notwithstanding, I can testify here and now that I can. What Crandall and countless others, including Sabrina Erdely, her editors, and their defenders can’t appreciate is that as onerous as the stigma on rape victims may or may not be, the stigma against rapists is worse.

No, really, it’s true. There’s a well-documented tendency for known or suspected — and especially convicted — rapists to be stigmatized. They’re shunned by polite society. They have trouble finding work. They often have to register as sex offenders and — oh yeah — they very often are sent to jail for very long periods of time. And this is as it should be.

But this fact is also why I am deeply skeptical of the story. Most of the UVA students I’ve met — and I’ve met a lot — are the sorts of kids who worry a lot about their permanent records. That makes sense; UVA is a truly great school with an impressive academic culture. And so while I can certainly believe sexual assaults and rapes happen there — drunk and sober — I simply cannot believe that nine men sat around soberly and plotted a brutal gang rape that would land them all in jail for decades — never mind hinder their chances of working at Goldman Sachs! At least not as presented in Erdely’s story. Indeed, it wouldn’t just be nine men, because you can’t keep such plans a secret in a fraternity when the rape is an initiation ritual. You need to make sure all of the kids are down with committing a heinous felony. You need to make sure they all know where to wait to commit the deed. And you need to make sure no one blabs to that one guy who isn’t totally and completely down with “rape culture.” That requires conversations, lots of conversations. And lots of conversations make secrets hard to keep.

What baffles and infuriates me is that I am supposed to be pro-rape and a rape apologist because I want to get to the truth. If this story is true, these men (and, frankly, the dean) should go to jail. The whole fraternity should be prosecuted for running a criminal enterprise. Honestly, as a matter of justice I’d have no problem seeing Drew hang. Meanwhile the heroic enemies of rape and rape culture are outraged that anyone would want these men exposed and brought to justice. That’s bananas.

I understand why most of the debate in the press about the Rolling Stone piece is about journalistic ethics. That’s fine. But my complaint isn’t that she didn’t talk to the alleged rapists. My complaint — or at least my claim — is that the story isn’t true. The fact she didn’t get quotes from the alleged rapists isn’t Erdely’s crime, it’s evidence of it.

The left (sorry, I can’t call it “liberal,” and there’s nothing “Progressive” anymore about this century-old ideology) has a strange and exceedingly toxic push-pull dynamic to it. Those with keyboards and a byline have long ago exited the journalism profession, to transform themselves into “Social Justice Warriors.” Everything is a toxic hotbed of racism and sexism, from Hollywood to video games. College campuses, despite being the most left-leaning places in America outside of Bernie Sanders’ living room, are, from the SJW perspective, concentration camp-level rape factories. And if you don’t believe them, your brain is suffering from a false consciousness and needs to be “trained in a different way,” as the original Marxists first started claiming over a century ago.

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