It appears that we have lied so much to others and ourselves, as a society, that we cannot see what is right or wrong. In looking for root causes, we forget the simple fact: Motivation for terror (and murder) is not an excuse.
One of the consequences of abandoning a standard by which right and wrong can be judged is our increasing inability to mete out punishment that fits the crime. In fact, too often we weigh extenuating circumstances rather than guilty actions.
In the case of the Boston bombers, observers search for reasons why the attacks occurred. But the failure to view the attackers as anything other than simply guilty and judge them accordingly, is similar to the U.S. government’s attitude toward the Middle East, which often sees Israel as the major impediment to peace. There is little expectation that Israel’s enemies be held accountable, much less punished for terrorist acts, hateful rhetoric against Jews and their refusal to reciprocate Israel’s peace offerings. The irrational reasoning goes that we must work to understand why they hate and kill, not hold them accountable for hating and killing. The Tsarnaev brothers are killers. They should be punished as killers.
Well, yeah, the example here is simple. Tsarnaev is charged with murder, which is a life sentence in Mass. Let the state charge him and convict him. Moving this to a federal court increases his influence, and the trick is to not do that. Learn from the British. Get a conviction, and move him to the Yankee equivalent of the H block.
You see, the current elite cannot stop lying. Even, to themselves, and in their paper of record.
People know that the Internal Revenue Service is the conservatives’ bogeyman. It’s the agency that collects the taxes that Republicans hate so much. Some Americans see taxes as, at worst, a necessary nuisance; Republicans see them as an absolute evil. The I.R.S. is the agency that collects the wealth from “us” for the government to redistribute to “them.” As National Journal pointed out Friday, “The agency also implements much of the country’s social policy through the tax code.” We all know that anything with “social” in its name activates the conservative gag reflex.
And on the Associated Press front, it just doesn’t ring true to have Republicans standing up as defenders of the “lame-stream media.” It’s like the person with the club feigning common cause with the baby seal. People just don’t buy it.
Furthermore, Republicans have exhibited a near-pathological need to say anything, no matter how outlandish, that would invalidate the Obama presidency. This has left them with little credibility now that there may be legitimate problems. This is the story of the political party that cried “Kenyan.”
Idiots. Do they not know that RAACISM is a dog whistle for “We are lying”? As Mark Steyn points out:
Speaking at Ohio State University earlier this month, Barack Obama urged students to pay no attention to those paranoid types who “incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity.” Oddly enough, in recent days the most compelling testimony for this view of government has come from the president himself, who insists with a straight face that he had no idea that the Internal Revenue Service had spent two years targeting his political enemies until he “learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this.” Like you, all he knows is what he reads in the papers. Which is odd, because his Justice Department is bugging those same papers, so you’d think he’d at least get a bit of a heads-up. But no doubt the fact that he’s wiretapping the Associated Press was also entirely unknown to him until he read about it in the Associated Press. There is a “president of the United States” and a “government of the United States,” but, despite a certain superficial similarity in their names, they are entirely unrelated, like Beyoncé Knowles and Admiral Sir Charles Knowles. One golfs, reads the prompter, parties with Jay-Z, and guests on the Pimp with a Limp show, and the other audits you, bugs your telephone line, and leaks your confidential tax records. But they’re two completely separate sinister entities. So it’s preposterous to describe Obama as Nixonian: Beyoncé wouldn’t have given Nixon the time of day.
So our elite are acting dishonestly. The consequences of this is that they lose the ability to discern good from evil, right from wrong, beauty from ugliness. Discernment is something you need to practice, Probity is required to be wise. And the wise are left looking at a society blindly heading for a cliff.
In these times, saying what is true, even if you do it quietly, can destroy you. Consider Jason Richwine. He’s been crucified because his PhD thesis — was inconvenient. Not untrue, inconvenient. It did not fit the narrative, so let us destroy him.
Charles Murray. who is no stranger to controversy himself, (Yes, I have read the Bell Curve. It’s one of those books I make sure I own before the libraries hide it in the stacks, or pulp i ) comments…
I have a personal interest in this story because Jason Richwine was awarded a fellowship from my employer, the American Enterprise Institute, in 2008–09, and I reviewed the draft of his dissertation. A rereading of the dissertation last weekend confirmed my recollection that Richwine had meticulously assembled and analyzed the test-score data, which showed exactly what he said they showed: mean IQ-score differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, found consistently across many datasets and across time after taking factors such as language proficiency and cultural bias into account. I had disagreements then and now about his policy recommendations, but not about the empirical accuracy of his research or the scholarly integrity of the interpretations with which I disagreed.
In resigning, Dr. Richwine joins distinguished company. The most famous biologist in the world, James D. Watson, was forced to retire from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2007 because of a factually accurate remark to a British journalist about low IQ scores among African blacks. In 2006, Larry Summers, president of Harvard, had to resign after a series of attacks that began with his empirically well-informed remarks about gender differences. These are just the most visible examples of a corruption that has spread throughout American intellectual discourse: If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant.
In academia, only the tenured can safely write on these topics. Assistant professors know that their chances of getting tenure will be close to zero if they publish politically incorrect findings on climate change, homosexuality, race differences, gender differences, or renewable energy. Their chances will not be much higher if they have published anything with a distinctly conservative perspective of any sort. To borrow George Orwell’s word, they will have proved themselves to be guilty of crimethink.
Murray understates the seriousness of this. Despite quoting the resignations of two senior (and tenured) academics, he suggest that self censorship only occurs with junior academics. It does. not. The racial politics in the USA are so toxic (and the ways they measure ethnicity so antediluvian) that most people avoid the area.
To give an example, this week I was preparing slides on the epidemiology of panic disorder. The NZ Mental Health survey was set up in part to look at variations in the prevalence of common psychiatric disorders by ethnic group, of which there were three. Maori (the indigenous), Pacifika (Pacific Islanders) and NZ Other (everyone else). There are variations in the rates — among Maori only (12 month prevalence 26 per 1000) but in NZ other and Pacifika the 12 month prevalence is 17 per 1999. The group published all three rates — in three different papers. The reader has to put the facts together.
But Murray continues his argument, and in this he makes some points that we should consider.
We too seldom engage our adversaries’ arguments in good faith. Often, we don’t even bother to find out what they are, attacking instead what we want them to be. When we don’t like what someone else thinks, we troll the Internet relentlessly until we find something with which to destroy that person professionally or personally — one is as good as the other. Hollywood still does films about lonely voices standing up against evil corporations or racist sheriffs, but never about lonely voices standing up against intellectual orthodoxy.
I’m sick of it. I also have no idea how to fix it. But we can light candles. Here is what I undertake to do, and I invite you to join me: Look for opportunities to praise people with whom you disagree but who have made an argument that deserves to be taken seriously. Look for opportunities to criticize allies who have used crimethink tactics against your adversaries. Identify yourself not just with those who agree with you, but with all those who stand for something and play fair.
Now, the league of unemployable bloggers is doing their bit to help with Charles Murray’s project. But we cannot do this alone. Demand that people back up their argument with facts, and honour those who oppose you who fight fair. Because, in this time, all those who use logic are allies against the illogical spirit of this age.