Worthwhile Reading

Self-censorship among scientists, for ‘prosocial’ reasons…and the harm it does.

How sculpture and ornament-making has been semi-industrialized for centuries, using a device known as a pointing machine.

Selecting government officials in China –historically and at present.

Support for using violence to suppress campus speech, broken down by college major.

The growth of anti-Israel radicalism in the Democratic Party: how much of this has been due to Obama’s attitudes and associations?

The District of Columbia has established minimum education requirements (a high school diploma is not enough) for child care workers. Is there a study that validates a significant positive correlation between such training and the quality of care provided?  (What would you guess)

Katherine Boyle argues that some people are great at judging people but not great at judging systems. Others are great at evaluating systems but not people and says that it’s very rare to meet someone who is exceptional at both.

Inspirational:  A cancellation attempt that backfired.

Teach the Children Well

Here’s the union that represents ‘educators’ responsible for teaching 600,000 Los Angeles kids, celebrating May Day in collaboration with Students for Justice in Palestine and other Left-oriented groups.

Here’s a ‘Model Curriculum’ for second grade and below:

 

And here are Girl Scouts in St Louis, teaching kids to chant ‘Free Palestine’ like zombies.  Video.

Will it be any surprise if the kids who are subject to this kind of indoctrination turn out to behave like these ‘protestors’?

And/or this UPenn crowd reacting to raw footage of the Oct 7 massacre with cries of “liar liar colonizer”? Video

Nightmare Numbers

A poll conducted Dec 13-14 among 2000 registered voters included the question:

Do you think that Jews as a class are oppressors and should be treated as oppressors or is that a false ideology?

Among respondents aged 18-24, 67% believed that Jews as a class’ are oppressors.  Note well: the questions was not about ‘Israel’ or ‘Israelis’ or ‘Zionists’, it was about Jews, plain and simple.

Michelle Tandler responded: “This is extraordinary. How did Gen Z come to believe that Jews are oppressors? Is that being taught somewhere..?”

What is being taught, pretty clearly, is that people are primarily defined by their ethnic and gender identity…there are no individuals, there are only ‘communities’ defined by these demographic categories. The more successful groups are defined as oppressors of the less-successful groups. Even the behavioral attributes required for success are viewed pejoratively; see for example  the Smithsonian on ‘whiteness’.  If values such as ‘hard work’, ‘rational thinking’, and ‘future orientation’ are considered as ‘whiteness’, then Jews ‘as a class’ certainly exemplify that attribute, regardless of the shade of any particular individual’s skin.  And if whites as a class are oppressors, then Jews as a class must be meta-oppressors.

This kind of thing clearly had its origins in academia.  As John Ellis notes at the WSJ:  “Campus antisemitism grew out of ideologies like “anticolonialism,” “anticapitalism” and “intersectionality.”..The radical left is the cause, most obviously through the one-party campuses having graduated an entire generation of young Americans indoctrinated with their ideas.”

Academia, and the K-12 schools which are repeaters of its ideologies, are of course not the only factors in this shocking rise in anti-Semitism. The rise of TikTok, with its emphasis on pre-literate modes of communication and the behavior of its algorithms–are they purposely malign toward American interests?–is surely a factor. See this comparison of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views among TikTok users and users of other platforms…see also this WSJ study of what actually shows up in the TikTok feeds of people registered as 13-year-olds.

Also–given that there are many nations–and not only Muslim ones–where anti-Semitism has been more pervasive and accepted than in the US, it is likely that the presence of large numbers of immigrants and foreign students has played a role in moving the Overton Window to a worse place: ‘Personnel is Policy.’

And, historically, societies in which people lose a sense of hope for the future, that they feel that they are facing pervasive decline, have been especially likely to be prone to anti-Semitism.  There are a lot of people in the US today who are not optimistic about either our national future or their personal futures.

While there are all these factors–and doubtless many more–behind the upsurge in anti-Semitism and the support for extreme groups such as Hamas, I believe that the ideology of Indentity Politics is the primary factor.  The prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz went so far as to say DEI is the incubator of anti-Semitism.

Read more

Weimar Germany, 1918-1933…and the USA in the Present Era

Victor Davis Hanson has published an article titled Weimar America, which begins with the line:

Something eerie, something creepy, is happening in the world—and now in America as well. 

Hanson sees some very disturbing similarities between Weimar then and the USA now.  Definitely read the whole thing.

Recent events in the US, such as the level of sympathy for Hamas and the outbreaks of virulent anti-Semitism, seem to have taken many people (not including Hanson) by surprise. But this has been building for a long time.  Hanson’s article reminds me that in 2016, I wrote a post titled The United States of Weimar? and updated it a month later.  I’m republishing these posts here, following the page break.  Some of the links may not work anymore.

Read more

Sympathy for the Devil

Surveys show a disturbing degree of support for Hamas–and even justification of the October 7 atrocities–among younger Americans…and also, following the posting of Osama bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America’ recently on TikTok, a significant number of people–again, especially younger ones reading it for the first time–reacted favorably to his message.  Anti-Israel views among the young are significant enough that even the rather lame support of Israel offered by the Biden administration has resulted in negative poll numbers.

What is going on here?…What is driving the sympathy toward enemies of Israel and America, even ones who have clearly and provably committed horrible atrocities?

Wesley Yang, at X, said:

When we made the succession from a text based culture to a streaming one, all prior knowledge instantly evanesced, reformatting all prior culture and leaving a blank slate In the resulting brave new world children can know they are the opposite sex, mass murderers of civilians are heroes of resistance — and Osama Bin Laden is a profound and wrongly maligned truth teller. 

Anything can happen now.

I do think that the characteristics of a media type as well as its content have an influence, as McLuhan argued long ago; I’ve written about that point recently.  And it’s well known that social media algorithms tend to amplify extreme and emotion-driving points of view–and furthermore, given TikTok’s corporate parentage, it’s quite possible that there has been consciously-malign algorithmic behavior directed by the CCP.  But types of medium and editorial behavior (these algorithms do significantly mimic the role of a traditional editor) by no means the whole story; the degree of acceptance of the ideas that Hamas-is-good and Bin Laden-Wasn’t-So-Bad point to some deep problems in American education and American society.

The late Dr. David Yeagley, a Comanche Indian (traditional name ‘Bad Eagle’) and college professor, described an interaction that took place in one of his classes. (excerpted)

“LOOK, DR. YEAGLEY, I don’t see anything about my culture to be proud of. It’s all nothing. My race is just nothing.”

The girl was white. She was tall and pretty, with amber hair and brown eyes. For convenience’ sake, let’s call her “Rachel.”

I had been leading a class on social psychology, in which we discussed patriotism – what it means to be a people or a nation. The discussion had been quite lively. But when Rachel spoke, everyone fell silent.

“Look at your culture,” she said to me. “Look at American Indian tradition. Now I think that’s really great. You have something to be proud of. My culture is nothing.”

Her words disturbed and offended me in a way that I could not quite enunciate.

and

When Rachel denounced her people, she did it with the serene self-confidence of a High Priestess reciting a liturgy. She said it without fear of criticism or censure. And she received none. The other students listened in silence, their eyes moving timidly back and forth between me and Rachel, as if unsure which of us constituted a higher authority.

Yeagley saw a resemblance between Rachel and those Frenchwomen who were quick to associate with the conquering Germans…and he wondered:

Who had conquered Rachel’s people? What had led her to disrespect them? Why did she behave like a woman of a defeated tribe?

The interaction that Dr Yeagley described took place more than 20 years ago.  The individuals marinated in the intellectual climate in which the student was steeped have, in many cases, grown up to be professors or teachers inculcating a later and probably even worse version of the attitudes that she voiced.

Yeagley also cited a Cheyenne saying:  “A people is not defeated until the hearts of its women are on the ground.” I don’t have any quantitative data on gender mix, but it’s been observed that a high % of anti-Israel extremists–like those tearing down the ‘kidnapped’ posters and the three just charged with arson at an Israeli defense factory in the US–are female.  Would a wise Cheyenne advise us to be very worried?

(The Yeagely passage was cited and discussed in my 2020 post Bad Eagle’s Question)

The constant lectures about how bad our society is, how Americans are dangerous people who are on a hair trigger to attack Muslims or gay people or minorities…all of these things have surely had an effect on America’s civilizational self-confidence, especially among those who are too young to remember anything else.  As Chris Ferguson said at X:

The modern approach to US history is the equivalent of telling people to think of the worst thing they’ve ever done. Then think about it over and over, everyday, without any positivity or relief. Then, later, wonder why everyone is neurotic.

A commenter on that thread noted  that “in all the recent hoopla over identities, kids’ development of an American identity has been completely ignored.”  (emphasis added)

Read more