Did you know that when I choose who sees my posts or when I unfriend somebody on Facebook or block somebody on Twitter this does no violence to my expansive position on free speech? Do you realize that I when I use the word “violence” in the rhetorical question I just posed it is purely as a figure of speech and that speech is not actually violence? Did you know that silence is also not actually violence? On the other hand, violence can be a form of speech. Do you understand how that works?
Did you know that censoring content for adults is not the same thing as censoring content for children? That’s because the body of science in child development finds that, because of variation in imagination, sense of self, and degree of maturity in the capacity for abstraction and reason, not everything from the adult world is age-appropriate and that the regulation of childhood experience is important for normal development of children into adulthood.
In figuring out the world and their place in it, their role in the system of roles and statuses, children often pretend to be things they encounter in their environment. Children may obsess over certain thoughts. Children are easily influenced and manipulated.
Did you know that hate speech and offensive speech and other forms of objectionable speech shared in spaces containing consenting adults are covered under the doctrine of free speech? The merits of these forms of speech are a subjective matter and a commissar who determines what speech in a public space is permissible and what is not for consenting adults necessarily depends on subjective judgment backed by illegitimate force. However, there are time and place restrictions to speech, a matter that I next take up.
Suppose a progressive is giving a talk at a university and conservatives in the audience bring noisemakers and make noise sufficient to disrupt the ability of the speaker to make her points and the audience to receive them under conditions that permit maximal consideration. The disruptive conservatives in the audience are violating the free speech rights of the speaker and and the audience. Since the government is obliged to defend the free speech rights of citizens, it is entirely legitimate, and in fact a dereliction of duty to fail to do so, for the police to forcibly remove the disruptive students from the hall and arrest them for violating the civil rights of the speaker and the audience.
Here is another example. It does not violate the speech rights of a kindergarten teacher to discipline her for talking to her students about gender identity, since elementary school is not an appropriate time and place for such talk. Why is this? It is not age-appropriate; children this young are not developmentally ready for this subject matter. They are minors and cannot freely consent to receiving this information. They are a captive audience; they cannot reasonably leave if they object to this speech. There are reasons for subjecting children to speech to which they cannot consent, such as language arts, math and science, American history etc. But the teacher’s religious or other deeply-held beliefs are not germane to the classroom. Nor are sexually intimate facts about her life.
I conclude by noting that many of those who criticize restrictions on what teachers can expose children to in elementary school are the same people who object to books currently sitting on shelves in high school libraries and who, using the rhetoric of diversity, equity, and inclusion, seek to remove curriculum using historical and scientific facts they find objectionable in light of their political-ideological beliefs. as a general rule, no books should be censored. However, in the case of children, material designed to sexualize them, censorship is appropriate.
Here’s the trick that the transnationalists have played on you. They have for decades conflated culture and race to facilitate the spread of an ideology, namely cultural pluralism, what today we more commonly call multiculturalism. Cultural pluralism is an ideology useful to the normalization of transnationalism, an elite program that aims to disintegrate national cultures, dissolve the nation-state model, and dismantle the international rules-based order, the Westphalian system via the means of globalization, e.g., off-shoring and mass immigration. This end is sought to impose a global corporate state system governing world populations via technocratic methods. The program is managed by transnational corporate power and the network of governmental, nongovernmental, and quasigovernmental institutions and organizations serving its interests.
When liberals and modern conservatives push back against cultural pluralism, progressives, the professional-managerial stratum managing the technocracy, as well as representing most ideational managers across the dominant culture and educational industries, accuse critics of multiculturalism of opposition to multiracialism, an accusation that comes with the smear of racist (see Multiracialism Versus Multiculturalism). Moreover, the trick permits the progressive claim that western civilization is “white culture”—that is that western civilization was raised up by the white race to secure its interests at the expense of the interests of the nonwhite races who comprise most of the world’s population (see The Myth of White Culture). Those who oppose multiculturalism for its effect on western civilization, are portrayed as white supremacist fearful of losing racial power.
It’s a brilliant trick. At least it has worked brilliantly over the last several decades. However, the trick falls apart when one simply recognizes that culture and race are not the same things (see Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and the Problem of Conceptual Conflation and Inflation; Casual Conflation of Categories). Culture is an emergent ideational and action system composed of beliefs, customs, norms, practices, traditions, and values. Race is the construct of an ideological system called racialism or racism. The attributes of racial categories are generated from socially selected geographically and historically variable heritable phenotypic characteristics. which are falsely claimed to predict attitude, behavioral proclivity, cognitive ability, and moral aptitude. Essentially, what we call race is not more than the result of ancestry. Offspring tend to look like their parents and parents tend to select mates who look like them in part because of convenience; one would expect that mates are selected from those in one’s environment.
Culture is spatially and temporally variable—that is, there is geographical and historical variation. Some systems are better for humans than other systems (See Culture Matters: Western Exceptionalism and Socialist Possibility). One can judge the adequacy of cultural systems using objective standards. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which incorporates universal human rights, which are scientifically determinable, with science representing a transcultural and transhistorical method, is a valid and useful model. The model makes clear that racism, which constrains individual liberty, transgresses human rights, and therefore the idea should be discouraged and practices and systems operating on this idea should be dismantled and outlawed. Indeed, racism is an example of a harmful cultural system.
Crucially, racism holds that culture is a projection of race. Why are the people of one culture worse off than another culture? The racist’s answer is that this is because those worse off are racially inferior. But this is not what liberals think. Liberals are proponents and defenders of the Enlightenment, an ethical and philosophical view advancing the humanist notion of liberating individuals from the premodern institutions and tendencies that limit them. Liberals oppose backwards cultures not because they are racist but because they believe in human thriving. Liberals are critical of diversity, equity, and inclusion programming because these undermine cognitive liberty, equality, and the just and open society.
Speaking of culture and race, there is a story out to today about a Michigan teacher who used an assignment in class showing a photo of Barack Obama alongside several other animals asking which of the animals was a primate. She is now on leave and the school has posted guards around the school after receiving death threats. The assignment concerned evolution and asked, “Which of the following are primates?” As a factual matter, if students checked the box with Obama’s picture, they would be correct. Human beings are primates. However, the historic association of monkeys with black people made the exercise problematic.
Before readers have a fit about me appearing to problematize the controversy over this, know that I am a sociologist who teaches the history of racialism and show in class instances of racist illustrations from the nineteenth century to make students aware of how ideology can corrupt science, specially instances when images and diagrams were used deceitfully to convey assumptions and theories about racial hierarchies and inferiority. Please don’t lecture me as if I don’t understand why some observers would find such a classroom exercise offensive. I get it. But I am an optimist that one day we might transcend this association. And I want to make the point that I do not believe this is what this teacher intended.
Carolyn Lett, the director of diversity for the Roeper School where this incident occurred explained, “She [the teacher] had her biology hat on, but didn’t realize the awareness that she should have had culturally.” It is central to the teaching of evolution to confirm that Homo sapiens share a common ancestor with the other apes. We are in fact a species of the great apes and there is perhaps no more powerful illustration of science over ideology than having young Americans understand that they are primates. Using the popular president is sure to make the exercise memorable, especially for those who positively identify with the president. Perhaps this is what she was thinking. So this was a misfire.
However, as a general problem, we might ask why the teaching of human evolution should be limited by cultural, ideological, or political hats at all. What if the teacher had used a photo of Trump instead, a man who has been compared to an orangutan? I can imagine some MAGA parents would be offended and raise objections. One wouldn’t want to put an illustration of a generic human in a worksheet with photos of other animals. Whose photo should appear? And what race should the person be? One could replace all the photos with illustrations. I wouldn’t mind if a person with phenotypic features associated with the white race were used in either case. A realistic looking computer-generated image of a generic white person perhaps. Science books have long used these phenotypic features in illustrations. As long as children learn that human beings are primates, mission accomplished.
However offended some people where, the teacher should not be punished, disciplined, retrained, or made to apologize. She is almost certain to never do this again. What evidence is there that the exercise was designed to push a racist view or advance a racist agenda? Doesn’t sound like there is any. Indeed, it is conceivable that to her mind using Barack Obama as the exemplary human being in such an exercise conveys the opposite. Perhaps the teacher should have been wearing her culture hat. She should have at least been aware given the current climate of how some would receive the exercise. But spare her cancellation.
This story reminds me a bit of the woman who was attacked for calling children swinging in a tree monkeys. Some of the children were black. If I had a nickel for every time an adult called me a monkey. Every playground I have ever played on has had monkey bars to swing on. I presume they are called this on the playgrounds in majority black neighborhoods. Whenever I watch video of a monkey the first thought that pops in my head is that I am watching a close relative.
Again, I get the sensitivity around the comparison. However, I look forward to the day when we can recognize all humans as a genus of primates without having an image provoke in our brains offensive and ideological displays from the nineteenth century racism. I also look forward to the day when calling human beings animals is understood as simply a true statement and not an attempt to degrade humans. We are, after all, animals. We are the result of natural history. There is no shame in that. Racism is so poisonous.
Update May 24: Glenn Loury published a note on his substack, “An Argument for Border Control,” that originated on his show, The Glenn Show. I direct you there for more info. But for your convenience, here’s the relevant clip:
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Remarks condemning white supremacy are easy and obvious. Any president, governor, or mayor can be counted on to condemn white supremacy. Trump did it all the time (he was constantly asked to do so in a strategy to manufacture the perception that he is a racist). Actions and systems rooted that ideology are wrong and should be punished and dismantled. Indeed, the United States has done both. Almost sixty years ago the United States abolished systems of racial segregation wherever they existed and outlawed discrimination based on race. What emerged from that experience is the near universal recognition that violence rooted in racial antipathy is contrary to the humanist values that have always resided in the heart of the American spirit.
So where was President Biden when a black nationalist ran over white people at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin? Darrell Brooks, Jr., a black man, intentionally targeted participants based on his racist beliefs. Unlike Payton Gendron’s actions, which were immediately acknowledged as domestic terrorism (Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced that Gendron’s actions are being investigated “as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism”), authorities just as quickly denied that Brooks’ actions were and the media stopped reporting the story (see Waukesha is Scheduled to be Memory Holed).
On November 22, 2021, in brief comments before discussing other matters, Biden referred to Brooks’ actions as a “horrific act of violence,” but there was nothing in his remarks about black nationalism, racism, or domestic terrorism, even though the facts known to him then clearly indicated that these were all features of the attack that had left five people dead (another person, a child, died later). In a press briefing a week later, Press Secretary Jen Psaki effectively skirted a question by Peter Doocy of Fox News asking about whether Biden was going to Waukesha, steering the conversation back to the government’s campaign to foment panic over the new wave of COVID-19 infections.
However, President Biden, the First Lady at his side, traveled to Buffalo, New York, yesterday afternoon to meet the families of the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting. In his speech, Biden described Gendron, “who massacred innocent people in the name of hateful and perverse ideology rooted in fear and racism,” “a hate-filled individual who had driven 200 miles from Binghamton, in that range, to carry out a murderous, racist rampage,” as the embodiment of “evil.” “What happened here is simple and straightforward,” Biden said. “Terrorism. Domestic terrorism. Violence inflicted in the service of hate and the vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group. A hate that, through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated and lost individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced. That’s the word. Replaced by the other. By people who don’t look like them.”
As the speech unfolded it became clear that Biden’s visit to Buffalo was an opportunity to tie the populist-nationalist movement upending the Washington establishment to the actions of a handful of extremists (yesterday’s blog, Payton Gendron, the Black Sun, and the Great Replacement Smear, anticipated this tack). Biden essentially told his audience in Buffalo before checking himself (or perhaps somebody flashed him the sign to move on) that his motivation to run for president was to hang Charlottesville 2017 like an albatross around the neck of the populist-nationalist movement. “We heard the chants—’you will not replace us’— in Charlottesville, Virginia. I wasn’t going to run, as the senator knows, again for president. When I saw those people coming out of the woods of the fields in Virginia, in Charlottesville, carrying torches, shouting, you will not replace us, accompanied by white supremacists and carrying Nazi banners, that’s when I said, ‘No, no.’ And I, honest to God, those who know me—Chuck, you know, I wasn’t going to run for certain. But I was going to be darned if I was going to let—, Anyway. I’ll get going.”
“White supremacy is a poison,” Biden told the families in Buffalo as the nation listened in. “And it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.” He implored Americans “to say as clearly and forcefully as we can that the ideology of white supremacy has no place in America.” He then picked up and ran with a slogan from the social justice movement, clearing his throat with an Obama tick: “Look, failure to saying that is going to be complicity. Silence is complicity. It’s complicity. We cannot remain silent.” Biden continued: “I call on all Americans to reject the lie, and I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit.”
In case my words at the start of this blog didn’t reach you, we must condemn white supremacy. In one sense, Biden had no choice but to go to Buffalo and make this speech. The problem is that he chose not to go to Waukesha and make this speech. The problem is that, while Biden marked the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder with a private Oval Office meeting with members of Floyd’s family (as congressional negotiators sought a deal on a bill named after Floyd aimed at reforming policing practices across the nation), we all know that Biden would never have invited the family of Tony Timpa, a white man who died in the same manner as Floyd, suffocated with a Dallas police officer’s knee on his neck, while other officers held him down, all of whom returned to active duty after seeing the criminal charges against them dropped. We all know that Democrats would never take a knee for Timpa.
It’s too easy to replace words in Biden’s speech to highlight what ought to be immediately understood as a double standard. Black nationalism is a poison, one that has been allowed to fester and grow. The ideology of black nationalism has no place in America. Yet progressives promote the ideology. By the lights of social justice, failure to condemn black nationalism is complicity in it. Black nationalism is based on a lie, the lie of systemic racism, a lie told for power, political gain, and profit. Democrats peddle the lie. They give oxygen to it. An so on. That I have to rehearse what should be obvious to everybody but isn’t speaks volumes about the moment.
It should also be obvious what lurks behind the double standard. Biden links criticism and opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism (this is what he means by attributing to his political opponents “fear”) to the actions of a white supremacist who shares the same hateful ideology as the soldiers the United States is arming in Ukraine—the same hateful ideology the United States has been weaponizing since the end of WWII when the CIA and the NSA recruited Nazis in the struggle against world communism. Yesterday, knowing full well the answer to the question, the establishment media wondered out loud, “What is Ukraine’s Azov Regiment?” This is a tactic in the strategy of organizing ignorance. Biden goes about how terrible are weapons of war serving as chief salesman of the military industry worldwide.
Biden accuses the Americans he falsely associates with racism and terrorism of not understanding America, as if understanding American means agreeing with his transnationalist ideology—or being associated with neo-Nazis. As I noted in yesterday’s blog, the establishment means to make it impossible for you to criticize mass immigration. The political function of selective condemnation of hateful ideology is strategic. We have to call it out.
Note: 10:44 am blog updated to include a recent tweet on the surrender of Azov Battalion to Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine.
As you might imagine, or maybe you saw for yourself, Twitter yesterday was a total shit storm. I’m sure we will see more of the same today. Progressives aren’t going to let a mass shooting go to waste—at least not a shooting useful to the narrative that white people are the reason we can’t have the good society (as progressives define it, anyway). The elite know that popular ignorance about the demographics of mass killing, a false consciousness the establishment media has spent decades cultivating, allows for a particular albeit fallacious narrative to be reinforced with each new mass shooting, which, in America, can be counted on occurring with frightening frequency.
The Buffalo massacre is yet another installment in what I called in a recent blog entry The Continuing Media Campaign of Disinformation about Race and Violence. The pattern is entirely predictable: mass murder committed by white men is used by progressives as an opportunity to push talking points about alleged racist police killings of black people, the smearing of Muslims as terrorists, and the problem of civilian gun ownership; whereas mass murder committed by blacks and Muslims is either censored or rationalized. To punctuate the narrative, Twitter is awash in images of the Buffalo shooter juxtaposed with images of Kyle Rittenhouse and his AR-15 or US Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky with his family (all seven of them) armed with their AR-15s or US Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado with her four sons with their AR-15s. That both the Massie and Boebert family photos were snapped in front of Christmas trees makes the campaign to bring into disrepute western civilization even more potent.
The Continuing Media Campaign of Disinformation about Race and Violence contains links to some of my many other blogs on this topic. In those blogs, I debunk the prevailing narrative in its various permutations. I show that it’s not true that most mass killing is perpetrated by white men. Indeed, over all, and this is true both proportionally and absolutely, white men are underrepresented in murder, mass or otherwise. Moreover, I show that police kill many more whites every year than members of other racial groups; the selective images of cops taking living whites perpetrators into custody instead of summarily executing them, as the cops are alleged to do in the case of black perpetrators, distort perception. But I don’t want to rehash all of that here (read the blogs). I want to focus instead on the usefulness of the Buffalo massacre in the establishment campaign to weaken nationalist sentiment as the country approaches the mid-term elections. Populist enthusiasm signals real trouble for the globalist agenda. However, the incident is most useful to these ends if a particular element of it is obscured, namely the establishment’s own support for right-wing extremism.
This is Payton Gendron. Commit this picture to memory. I will recall one of the details in a moment. Gendron shot and killed ten people at a Buffalo supermarket (Tops Friendly Market grocery) in a majority-black neighborhood. Gendron is a white supremacist. It appears from screenshots of his gun that Gendron wrote the names of Waukesha, Wisconsin parade massacre victims on the barrel (he wrote other things on the gun, as well). Waukesha was the site of a black nationalist terrorist attack last year. If you remember, Darrell Brooks, Jr., aka MathBoi Fly, drove his truck through a Christmas parade, intentionally running over participants, killing several of them, mostly old white Christians. Unlike Gendron’s actions, which were immediately acknowledged as domestic terrorism, authorities denied that Brooks’ actions were and the media stopped reporting the story (see Waukesha is Scheduled to be Memory Holed). I understand the President will travel to Buffalo. He avoided Waukesha.
Like some other white supremacists who have recently perpetrated massacres, Gendron posted a manifesto. The Gendron manifesto rehearses themes similar to these in the other manifestos. Sunday morning, The New York Times made note of it, running the headline A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P.The Times reports that the suspect in the Buffalo massacre was a proponent of “replacement theory.” The theory, according to The Times, is associated with the 2018 shooting inside a Pittsburgh synagogue (Tree of Life), in which “a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant ‘invaders’ into the United States.” The white man was Robert Gregory Bowers, who had posted to the social network Gab, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” HIAS stands for Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
The Times continues: “The next year, another white man, angry over what he called ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas,’ opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart, leaving 23 people dead, and later telling police he had sought to kill Mexicans.” That white man, Patrick Crusius, drove eleven hours to commit the slayings. Like Crusius, Gendron, also white, drove several hours from his home to perpetrate his mass murder. Police attribute to Crusius a manifesto that had ant-immigrant and white nationalist themes posted on the message board 8chan. Gab and 8chan are part of the alt-right communication network. Crusius’s manifesto cites the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand as inspiration. The Christchurch shootings, which left 51 people dead, was perpetrated by Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a white supremacist. Prior to the attack, Tarrant had also published an online manifesto. Like Gendron, Tarrant live streamed the massacre.
Having established a pattern, The Times’ article endeavors to link that pattern to populist nationalism. “By his own account, the Buffalo suspect, Payton S. Gendron, followed a lonelier path to radicalization, immersing himself in replacement theory and other kinds of racist and antisemitic content easily found on internet forums, and casting Black Americans, like Hispanic immigrants, as ’replacers’ of white Americans,” writes The Times. “Yet in recent months, versions of the same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party—spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.” Despite what sounds like a rather large crowd of conservatives, only a few are mentioned in the article. One of them is Tucker Carlson, whom I will discuss in a moment. (The Guardian casts a wider net in “Scrutiny of Republicans who embrace ‘great replacement theory’ after Buffalo massacre.”)
But before I turn to Carlson, note the framing. The problem is not an extreme and racialized version of arguments made by the critics and opponents of mass immigration who would never advocate racism let alone mass violence (or at least never have). Instead, criticism and opposition to mass immigration are framed as sanitized and stealthy expressions of white supremacy. This inversion makes it impossible to be a critic of mass immigration without also being a racist. By portraying criticism and opposition to mass immigration as “anti-immigrant” sentiment rooted in “white nationalist” ideology, the establishment in back of the policy of mass immigration stifles criticism and opposition to that policy. The tactic is analogous to an argument claiming that those who criticize the practice of abortion are responsible for abortion clinic bombings. There is no intrinsic connection between criticisms of mass immigration and multiculturalism and racist violence—or even racism.
In the blog, The “Great Replacement” as Antiracist Propaganda, I attempt to explain this separation between ideas, on the one hand, and violence, on the other. I write about the campaign against Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, the most popular voice in media presently. Carlson has become a target because of his popularity. I discuss an April 2021 dialog with Mark Steyn wherein Carlson notes that, by promoting immigration from developing countries and pushing policies of multiculturalism over assimilation, the immigration policies of the Democratic Party favor that party’s electoral hegemony over against Republican fortunes. For this rather straightforward observation, the Anti-Defamation League demanded Carlson’s firing. They didn’t get it. (I have written extensively about immigration. See Rationalizing the Border Crisis with Hysteria, Lies, and Smears.)
I note in the blog that Carlson anticipated the accusation that he was advancing a “white supremacist theory,” an argument originally developed as an analysis of state policies that holds that, by recruiting Arab and Muslim populations from Africa and the Middle East, elites sought to change European societies culturally and demographically to undermine organized labor and weaken nationalist sentiment, both steps in regionalizing corporate control over the masses and entrenching capitalist exploitation. In Strange Fruit, Kenan Malik uses the example of capitalist elites in France in the 1970s using Islam as a “stabilizing force” to keep “the faithful” away from “unions or revolutionary parties” (these are the words of Paul Dijoud, Minister for Immigrant Workers). Among the various tactics, the government encouraged employers to build prayer rooms to divert Muslims from militant activity (see Culture Matters: Western Exceptionalism and Socialist Possibility). Keeping newcomers away from native-born workers proved an effective strategy to disorganize the national proletariat. This is the function of diversity. In the 1950s, roughly one-third of French workers belonged to a trade union. Today, less than one in ten. This mirrors the decline in organized labor in the United States during the same period. The decline in labor density in the US follows the opening of the national borders in 1965. (See Joe Biden and the Ultimate Source of Our Strength: “an unrelenting stream of immigration, nonstop, nonstop”; also The Work of Bourgeois Hegemony in the Immigration Debate.)
Why is white supremacist theory in quotes in the above paragraph? Because Arab is an ethnicity and Muslim is a religious category (see Muslims are Not a Race. So why are Academics and Journalists Treating Them as if They Were? See also See Smearing Amy Wax and The Fallacy of Cultural Racism). The so-called replacement theory is not intrinsically a racist theory. People, as Malik points out, are culture-bearers, vessels who carry norms and values often incompatible with the culture of the region to which they are traveling (see Kenan Malik: Assimilation, Multiculturalism, and Immigration). Without vetting the new arrivals and without a comprehensive program of assimilation into culture of the host country, the country will be changed. This is why progressives portray assimilation as racist—it disrupts the work of diversity in disintegrating national identity. To be sure, some nationalists in the United States adapted the theory to explain America’s situation, which for progressives means, by way of the fallacious reasoning, that anybody who suggests elements of the theory enjoy even face validity is a white supremacist or, at the very least, white supremacist adjacent.
I asked readers in that blog to suspend reflex for a moment and think about the elite framing and our current situation rationally: “According to progressives, conservatives worry that changing the demographics of the United States in a direction indicated by past, present, and future patterns of immigration harms the electoral prospects of Republicans.” I continued to write, “Progressives put it like this: The nation will be less white and, since Republicans are the party of white people (black and brown Republicans notwithstanding), and since a white majority signals white supremacy (which is a good reason for getting rid of the white majority), the concern is by definition racist.” I then pointed out the obvious: as a factual matter, mass immigration did change and is changing Europe and the United States.
For progressives, they will say the change is for the better, which sounds like a claim that requires supporting evidence—and an invitation to disagree. But, if you disagree, then you are racist. Given progressive hegemony over the nation’s institutions, disagreeing with pro-immigration propaganda makes the disagreer appear in public as a bad person. I asked in that blog that readers to consider this: “Why are progressives always talking about the value of diversity and eagerly anticipating the time when whites are no longer the majority in America?” Fewer white people is a thing to be celebrated. Personally, I don’t care if whites are a minority (they have always been globally). In fact, I have argued many times that I would prefer we abandon the notion of whiteness—and every other racial category—altogether. But progressives can’t stop talking about race. It is everything to them. They demand we center race to yield a master theory of our circumstances. It’s the wedge they use to divide the proletariat. Therefore, in their worldview, any argument that suggests the status quo of a white majority in the West must be a racist argument. And in a world guided by antiracism, those seeking “racial justice” must actively work to transgress that status quo.
What’s clear in all this is that, to get the public to ignore the elephant in the bedroom, progressives smear conservatives as racists for expressing concern with open borders and multiculturalism by tying that concern to a white supremacist theory, the “replacement theory.” Social democrats do the same thing in Europe. I write in that blog, “The organized response to the effects mass immigration has wrought, namely the populist and nationalist movements seeking national sovereignty and cultural integrity, have been so frequently paired with so many awful labels ‘white supremacist,’ ‘white nationalist,’ ‘fascist,’ ‘Islamophobe,’ ‘nativist,’ ‘xenophobe,’ even ‘Nazi’—that now simply announcing ‘populist’ and ‘nationalist’ will do to make most audiences recoil in disgust and horror.” This smearing of populists and nationalists is dressed as “antiracism” and put at the center of the “struggle for social justice.” Antiracism is the new racism. (For a depth discussion of antiracism, see The Origin and Character of Antiracist Politics.)
With the Buffalo massacre, the corporate state finds an opportunity to ramp up anti-racist propaganda in a campaign to blunt the surge of support for the populist-nationalist element of the Republican Party in the approaching midterms. The Times ends its article with the words of Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America, a group that pursued the successful civil suit against organizers of the 2017 Charlottesville rally. Repeating the inverted frame, Spitalnick argues that the broader promotion of replacement rhetoric normalizes hate and emboldens violent extremists. “This is the inevitable result of the normalization of white supremacist Replacement Theory in all its forms,” Spitalnick said, giving the slander the oomph of a proper noun. “Tucker Carlson may lead that charge—but he’s backed by Republican elected officials and other leaders eager to amplify this deadly conspiracy.” The establishment media means to hang Gendron around the populist-nationalist neck like an albatross. This is a big lie.
Organized frenzy is very often subterfuge. Could this frame be concealing something more than the managed decline of the West? Are there other forces at work here that “normalize hate” and “embolden violent extremists”? Go back and look at the symbol on his Gendron’s vest. It’s a type of sunwheel (sonnenrad in German) called the Black Sun (Schwarze Sonne). It’s a Nazis symbol popular among Eastern European neo-Nazi groups. It was used, for example, as the insignia of the Banderists, fascists who collaborated with the Nazis during WWII. Below is a photo of a Ukrainian soldier wearing the symbol. The photo, which I have shared before, is war propaganda tweeted by NATO leveraging International Women’s Day to promote the righteousness of the Ukrainian military. The popular Ukrainian president Zelensky’s slogan “Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes” is the same slogan as that of the wartime fascists in Ukraine. The current government has adopted the slogan as the country’s national motto. (See The US is Not Provoking Russia—And Other Tall Tales.)
The Black Sun lurks behind the insignia of Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine based in Mariupol (the coastal region of the Sea of Azov). I blogged about this back in February when Russia invaded Ukraine. In addition to providing context missing in the globalist push for war, I wanted to raise consciousness about the persistent problem of fascism in Eastern Europe, which I have been talking about since the 1990s after Russ Bellant exposed the link between fascist and Nazis sympathizers and the Republican establishment behind George H. W. Bush and his associates (the neoconservatives who came to power under Bush’s son in the 2000s). The history of these links are pursued by Christopher Simpson back to the formation of the national security apparatus and regionalization of Europe and the larger project of transnationalizing capitalism under the Truman Administration. In that blog (History and Sides-Taking in the Russo-Ukrainian War), I document that, in addition to the problem of Ukrainian Nazis terrorizing ethnic Russians residing in parts of the country, NATO expansion has put the military might of the United States behind European Nazism, which now stands at Russia’s doorstep.
If we reflect on history, the threat Nazism poses to the internal security of Russia is recognized and Russia’s actions makes sense (which is not to say that the invasion was morally correct). Indeed, in light of that history, why the US and the West are backing Ukraine becomes a pressing question. This is all connected to the expansion of NATO in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union. NATO’s raison d’état was mutual defense of Europe from the threat of world communism—and fascist and Nazis sympathizers were weaponized in that struggle. With the end of the Soviet Union, and the integration of China into the global capitalist economy, NATO should have been dismantled, its reason for existing having evaporated. Why it was not became clear when NATO bombed Serbia: NATO was a means for establishing a global military net over the whole of the Eurasian landmass. Part of the grand plan is the marginalization and eventual incorporation of the Russian people into the global system. And, of course, to secure trillions of dollars for the military-industrial complex.
Has anybody bothered to look at the map of the EU lately? Does it look familiar? Not exactly, but in the main? What country lies at its center? (Find the map before Brexit if you want to feel that the working class somewhere has made a bit of progress in pushing back against the neo-feudalist designs of the world capitalists.)
This is the white supremacy you are not supposed to consider, even though one of its representatives, wearing its insignia, murdered ten people in Buffalo, New York last Saturday. You’re supposed to consider the white supremacy that allegedly lies behind opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism (see Multiracialism Versus Multiculturalism). The Buffalo massacre should not have you thinking about Western capitalist powers enlarging corporate state power across the globe. It should instead cause you to ignore the purposes and consequences of inviting hundreds of thousands of migrants from around the world to pour across the southern border of the United States. Either pretend the invitation has no purpose or isn’t consequential or, on the positive side, is a thing to celebrate. Or you’re a racist.
There is great concern expressed in MAGA circles about surging Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette. The MAGA crowd was already troubled by Trump’s endorsement of physician Mehmet Oz in the Senate race. But they had to defer to the former president and de factor party leader. Then Barnette effectively attacked Oz and WEF favorite David McCormick during a recent televised debate, which endeared her to the populist-nationalists. The got Steve Bannon and the War Room involved. Her position on abortion, decidedly pro-life and featured in a powerful campaign ad, also garnered attention.
But MAGA is not the only group Barnette has concerned, and that is what I want to talk about in today’s blog. The establishment media is now mobilizing to undermine Barnette’s candidacy (which, for the record, I do not support). CNN ran a hit piece yesterday titled “Surging GOP candidate Kathy Barnette has long history of bigoted statements against gays and Muslims.” Reported Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck tell the CNN crowd, that the candidate “has a history of anti-Muslim and anti-gay statements.” Their reporting speaks to the hardcore of their audience: “In many tweets, Barnette also spread the false conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim.” This is sure to get a few backs up.
While she has said a lot of objectionable things about gays, CNN uses her comments on Muslims to push Islamophilia under the guise of condemning bigotry. The tone of the story is such as to suggest that her views on Islam and Muslims are worse than her antipathy towards gays. It’s not as if the things Barnette has said about Islam and especially Muslims is entirely unproblematic. For example, in the passages I will share in this blog, her rhetoric about discriminating against religious worldviews may suggest a weak understanding of freedoms of conscience and expression. However, the argument she makes regarding why it is not racist to reject Islam and, moreover, by implication, the appropriateness of objecting to this ideology, is in line with arguments I have made on Freedom and Reason. Indeed, at points, her argument sounds as if it were cribbed from my blog. This gives me a chance to reinforce my position.
“You are not a racist if you reject Islam, or if you reject Muslims, because they are not a race of people. They are a particular view. They are people that have a particular view of the world, and we have a right to discriminate against worldviews.” Again, I am uncertain of what Barnette means about discriminating against worldviews. Discrimination against citizens on the account of the ideological views they espouse is wrong. Nobody should be punished because they are a Muslim. But we should discriminate against Islamic views in the sense that we should keep strictly apart from our laws and policies the doctrines of Islam.
Moreover, as Kenan Malik has told us, humans are culture-bearers. They bring their culture with them when they migrate. Islamic extremism and fundamentalism are incompatible with American culture, representing threats to the security and, more generally, the integrity of the United States. Immigration law and policy should take into account the seriousness of those threats. Barnette is correct when she points out that there is nothing racist about anti-Islamic sentiment. Muslims do not comprise a race of people so criticism of Islam cannot fall in that category. Being a Muslim is not even an ethnic identity. Even more than Christianity, Islam is a religious ideology in the purist sense of the term, with emphasis on ideology. This point becomes clearer when we take up the next quote by Barnette.
“We discriminated against Hitler’s Nazi Germany view of the world, right? That was a worldview. That’s how he saw the world around him. And we discriminated against it. We rejected it.” Why? “Because that’s a particular view of the world that we don’t agree with.” This may be jarring given the pro-Islamic propaganda aggressively pushed by the corporate state, but it is correct analogy. Like German National Socialism, Islam is an ideology. All religion is an ideology. But not all ideology is as hateful as Nazism and Islam. Just as there is no obligation to embrace Nazism merely because it is the sincerely-held belief of some people, there is no obligation to embrace Islam. Indeed, the expectation is that the morally-upright citizen condemns Nazism, only tolerating its expression in light of First Amendment norms (and the instinct is to not even allow that). This means allowing but countering its expression with prejudice.
To put this another way, there is nothing unjust about feeling or expressing prejudice towards Nazis. To make those expressing such repugnant ideas uncomfortable and unpopular may be construed as discrimination in the sense of prejudicial treatment of a category of things. It seems this is what Barnette is saying. If there is no difference between Nazism and Islam as things of a category (of course the systems have different content but are nonetheless ideologies of similar form), that is a pernicious ideology, then Barnette has expressed bigotry only in the technical sense that she holds an obstinate attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction, i.e., she believes and is of the opinion that Islam is objectionable and that Muslims are purveyors of an objectionable view in exactly the same way it is expected of morally-upright persons to believe and express the opinion that National Socialism is objectionable and that Nazis are purveyors of an objectionable view. We often don’t think of bigotry (or chauvinism) in positive terms, but this is one meaning of bigotry. The right or wrong of it is a matter of standpoint. What is acceptable and unacceptable bigotry depends on whose goose is being cooked. We want Nazis to lose. Why not Muslims?
Barnette articulates her position cogently: “We have the right to discriminate against worldviews because all views are not morally equal. All views are not equal. So we have the right to reject it. And let me just say offhand, I reject how Muslims see the world.” I agree with this, especially in an ideology’s effects. Consider genital mutilation. One’s religion may advocate the practice. I will condemn that advocacy. I will moreover advocate laws forbidding the practice. Does that makes me anti-whatever religious doctrine seeks to and does violate the human rights of children? Sure. But it also puts me on the side of the angels. I am also right to condemn and limit within Constitutional parameters doctrines that would and do violate the human rights of gays and women. Though I struggle with this as a civil libertarian, I am sympathetic to the French ban on the hijab.
Despite holding entirely objectionable views on homosexuality, Barnette is pushing back against the extreme cultural and moral relativism of the postmodernist establishment, which in its hatred of the West, finds anti-Western ideologies laudable and especially finds a view analogous to Nazism worthy of smearing a candidate for US Senate by accusing her of bigotry in the sense of unreasonable prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group. But opposition to Islam is not unreasonable. It is, like opposition to Nazism, an entirely reasonable standpoint. Why the two ideologies are not treated the same by those in charge of the culture industry is explained by the hegemony of progressive ideology. And that’s the point of calling out CNN for its Islamophilia.
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings says she is “deeply troubled” following the news of the stop and search of a bus carrying members of the women’s lacrosse team of Delaware State University, a historically Black university, last month in Georgia. Delaware State University President Tony Allen has called for investigation, framing police action in this case as racially oppressive.
The team bus was illegally traveling in the left lane and drug dogs indicated the presence of contraband. I don’t trust these dogs. But it is fairly typical to use them during traffic stops. The officers may have lacked probable cause. Let’s find out. Those who read my blog know that I am a Bill of Rights left libertarian and it always troubles me when I hear about incidents like these. It sounds like overpolicing. On the other hand, there was something going on that day. The police had stopped several vehicles that day and on another bus they did find contraband. This usually indicates that the police received a tip.
However, the question of racial profiling is a different question. Allen expresses the prevailing narrative concerning racial profiling in today’s policing practices in dramatic terms. “The resultant feelings of disempowerment are always the aggressors’ object,” he said. This assumes that the officers—who, according to the department, did not know the race of those stopped before they were stopped—purposefully acted to produce feelings of disempowerment and, moreover, its suggests that they were racially motivated to do so. The complaint is about a “racial encounter.” Is this any encounter where detainees are black?
I have been thinking a lot about this matter over the last few years (see my July 2020 essay Policy Presuming “White Privilege” Violates Equal Protection Under the Law). I teach criminal justice courses and one of the books I use in my upper-division criminal justice process class is Epp et al.’s Pulled Over, which claims to be able to show implicit racial bias on policy stops. I have to be critical of the materials I use in the classroom and I detect a problem in this narrative regarding racial profiling. Suppose this had happened to an all-white athletic team. Whites get pulled over by the police all the time. Could they claim that race motivated the officers’ behavior? It’s possible race did play a role (racial bias works in all directions), but the claim would have to be backed by evidence. The burden would be not on the police to do an investigation to find out whether race played a factor. The burden would be on those claiming that the police racially profiled them.
For sure, the public would find a claim by a white man being racially profiled incredible. The reality is that, despite being pulled every day, whites cannot without facing great skepticism claim that the police act towards whites with racial bias. It’s almost always when the detainees are black or brown that the claim is made, and the charge is almost always made on identitarian grounds not on evidentiary ones. We see this with lethal officer-civilian encounters, which I have written about extensively on Freedom and Reason. But the standard must remain the same for everybody. If one makes a claim that racial bias played a role in a police stop, then the person making this claim shoulders the burden to show this. Identitarianism irrationally flips the burden and stands on the grounds of presumption.
Is it statistically true that blacks are disproportionately pulled over by the police? Yes. But it is also true that blacks are overrepresented in crime and are more likely to be stopped on that basis. This does not excuse the practice of investigatory stops dressed in the clothes of traffic stops, which this case may or may not have been. I am on record opposing veiled investigatory stops (this is the value of Epp et al’s book). But veiled stops are conducted across races. People are pulled over for all sorts of reasons, from the type of car they drive to the length of their hair. In any of these cases, the burden to show bias rests with those who claim to have been affected by it. The fact that blacks are disproportionately stopped is not in itself evidence of racial bias.
Have you seen this sign? I see it or a version of it all the time. I walk a lot, and the neighborhood where I live is teaming with progressives, and these are the slogans of progressivism. “Love is love” is a meaningless stab at a tautology. “Kindness is everything” is dangerous. One need not be kind to aggressors or invaders. Indeed, human survival depends on hard-headed refusal to universalize kindness. The naïve expression of humanitarianism embedded in this sentiment in turn inspires the slogan “No human is illegal,” admonishing us to remember that those who cross national borders without authorization should not be referred to as illegal aliens or immigrants; at worst they are unauthorized or undocumented. But crossing national borders without authorization is illegal, so it’s really an expression of open borders. Of course women’s rights are human rights. Women are humans. My last few blog entries on abortion rights have concerned that matter. I will direct you there. A slogan won’t do.
The weird conflation of epistemology and ontology aside, the “Science is real” slogan is at odds with belief in Black Lives Matter, since the movement is based on claims exposed as demonstrably false by the lights of science. It’s this problem that I want to address in this essay, namely the progressive claim to stand with science—to “follow the science,” as the faithful say—and the rejection of scientific claims that stand outside the political-ideological parameters of the woke progressivism. You may have noticed that, by virtue of being progressive, progressives know more than those they suspect of being something other than that—which is anybody who doesn’t chant the slogans. Woke progressivism is like a zealous religious attitude. The snobbish attitude is endemic to the progressive mindset in the same way that fundamentalist Christians know they have the scoop on the world. The rank-and-file behaves as if they are among the elect. In contrast, the man who is not progressive, whatever his background or qualifications, is a backwards neanderthal because he doesn’t rehearse the progressive lines.
One can see this in the debates around the SARS-CoV-2 virus. During the COVID-19 pandemic hysteria, my arguments, despite being science-based, were dismissed ostensibly because I am not trained in the areas progressives deem relevant. Even assuming their parameters, one would still have to claim that a PhD in any scientific field is not a fungible skill, that understanding how to think and work scientifically does not apply across domains. This reflects a poor understanding of science and scientific training. I have empirical research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. I know how to conduct and consume research. “Are you a doctor?” is the frequent question. Yes, actually, I am. And I am a scientist. To be sure, concepts and theories are abstracted from the concrete realities of the various domains, and there is something to be said for expertise, but the basic methods by which the specific is worked into the general remain the same. (See The Cynical Appeal to Expertise.)
Yet even those doctors and scientists with expertise in the areas progressives deem relevant but who also break with the prevailing narrative—that a narrative prevails and we all know what the terms of the narrative are proves the claim that progressives have captured society’s major institutions—are dismissed as crackpots and bigots, as rightwingers and reactionaries. And in both instances, there is a profound contradiction at work. In disagreements over scientific matters, when progressives cite the alleged absence of expertise of the person with whom they disagree, they at the same time disqualify themselves on the same grounds. If I cannot make a science-based claim because the subject matters pertains to a domain for which I am not specialized, then how does the person who points this out presume to make science-based claims or, for that matter, know whether I am right or wrong? How do they get to argue from the lay position yet I am disqualified even though I am a scientist? And all those doctors and scientists with expertise in the fields of epidemiology, immunology, virology, etc. who disagree with the thoroughly corporate-captured CDC, FDA, and WHO, by what lights do progressives judge them? By the edicts of the very governmental agencies the norms of science demand we subject to skeptical inquiry? How do they know who to trust? They’re progressives, that’s how, and the regulatory apparatus of the corporate state they bow down to told them what to believe.
For progressives, it’s all ideology all the time, and the ideology in play is a projection of the technocratic desire of corporate statism. They confuse science with the edicts of regulatory agencies because of their faith in Big Brother. In the end (or at least close to it), I was right about COVID-19. Why? Because I am a scientist? Sure. But, more importantly, because I am not a progressive. Progressivism is a species of ideological blindness. It makes a virtue of appeal to authority and dresses it in a degree of condescension befitting a religious attitude. “Science is real” has the same vibe as “Jesus is the way and the truth.” Indeed, progressives sound a lot like Christians. When hailing from the left, they’re practically indistinguishable. It’s as if Jesus had blue hair. This is why, if you were inclined to put a sign in your yard, the sign shared below would adequately represent the scientific humanist spirit, while at the same time pointing out the stupidity of the ideology that pretends to.
I am in complete support of women’s access to abortion services, but what difference does it make to somebody who believes abortion is murder whether the fetus is the product of incest or rape over against other pregnancy causes? We don’t kill children because their parents are related or because the father is a rapist. You don’t punish children for the crimes of others. The fetus is a child in the eyes of those who believe abortion is murder. The only reasonable exception given this premise is life of the mother, since then killing the fetus is analogous to self-defense.
Complaints from those who support women’s access to abortion services over arguments that conceptualize life as beginning at the moment of conception of fertilization as well as the question of viability are also ineffective in this debate. Really, if one is being honest, one must grant that life at conception. Fertilization is the conception of a new human life. That’s biology. As for viability, suppose the fetus is viable at fifteen weeks, are authorities going to ask the woman seeking an abortion to undergo surgery to safely remove the fetus so it can grow in some other incubator artificial or living?
The only viable argument for abortion is from liberty—appeal to the rights to bodily autonomy, personal sovereignty, and medical privacy. The woman doesn’t want to have the fetus inside her. That is the only criterion that matters. She needs no justification except that it is her body and therefore her choice. She can have something living in her body removed if she wants. To stop her from removing a fetus is to deprive her of fundamental rights to life, liberty, and property. That’s tyranny. Her choice is none of your business. Stop being such a busybody.
“But doesn’t the fetus have those rights, too?” Does the person breaking into my house? Does the person trying to enslave me? Each have their rights inviolate until they violate the rights of others. My rights supersede theirs because they have no right to break into my house or enslave me (police with warrants and the judge who sentences me to hard labor have neither broken into my house nor enslaved me). Likewise, nobody has the right to use my body to sustain the life of another. It is an unjust interference with my liberty. You cannot have my kidney. It’s mine. I will decide what happens to it. This is true for every other part of my body.
How can it be, then, that the state can force her to sustain with her body the life of another person? A woman has the same rights that I have as a man. You cannot use her uterus to sustain the life of another person any more than you can use my kidney for this purpose (or any other). This would make women uniquely subjects of the state. It’s not only tyranny but discrimination on the basis of sex.
Currently, some 800,000 people have end-stage kidney disease, requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival. There are more than 50 thousands deaths every year from nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis, making kidney disease the tenth leading cause of death in America. Think of the lives saved if the state were to commandeer the healthy kidneys of Americans, most of whom have two healthy kidneys yet only need one. That most Americans would register outraged if the state were to announce such a life-saving program, yet many cannot muster the same outrage when it comes to the bodily autonomy of women, reveals a deep-seated patriarchal reflex. The desire in action reduces women to second-class status, making women objects of other people’s designs and purposes. It represents the supreme objectification of women.
I don’t want to hear conservatives talk about individual liberty if they’re not prepared to defend the clearest instantiation of it. If you support restricting abortion, then your liberty talk is in bad faith. Spare us your hypocrisy.
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Afternoon note (same day): Protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices is profoundly authoritarian. I hear the incitement to violence against the judges—“If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you.” An independent judiciary is one of the pillars of a free and rational society. It’s an expression of proto-fascistic mentality to attempt to intimidate judges into voting your politics or sharing your argument.
There is a vast difference between protesting the White House, Congress, or the Supreme Court and showing up at the homes of politicians and judges in a threatening manner. Every person has a right to be secure from the mob and to live a quiet, private existence. A judge’s home is not a legitimate site of protest any more than a woman’s body is a legitimate site of state control.
Where is the Biden Administration on this outrage? Jen Psaki says the president “strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest. But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety.” Words are not enough—especially not these words: “I think the president’s view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness from many, many people across this country about what they saw in that leaked document. We obviously want people’s privacy to be respected. We want people to protest peacefully if they want to protest. That is certainly what the president’s view would be.” Sounds more like encouragement and sympathy that condemnation.
Perhaps the national guard should be deployed around the homes of justices and the mob physically removed by police from these neighborhoods. Public safety suggests it. For sure this is stupid politics. Democratic strategist Paul Begala nails it when he says, “This is wrong, stupid, potentially dangerous, and politically counterproductive.” Exactly.
I recently asked friends on Facebook to reflect on who has always been consistent on the question of bodily autonomy and medical privacy. Because Facebook continually punishes me for the content of my posts by lowering them in the news feed (at least they tell me they’re doing it; Twitter just shadow bans), it took a while before somebody asked me who I was asking them to remember. The answer, of course is me. I am the person who has been consistent on the question of bodily autonomy and medial privacy. I say this not to pat myself on the back, but to isolate one of the core problems in today’s politics: the abandonment of principle for partisanship in the rhetoric of left versus right.
The person who asked about who I was talking about remarked that “it’s odd how the same people who felt wearing a mask during a pandemic was tyrannical overreach by the gubment but forcing a women to carry a child she does not want is perfectly fine.” He is an extreme partisan on the side of the Democratic Party who frequently mocks conservatives by portraying them as hicks. He suggested that “if men could bare [sic] children those same people would me amassing with weapons to attack SCOTUS or congress.” I responded snarkily: “Just like the people who oppose restrictions on abortion were okay with forcing people to wear masks, locking down society, and mandatory vaccination.” He liked that comment because he had missed the point.
Alas, my provocation failed. I wanted somebody to scold me for drawing an equivalency between abortion and the COVID-19 pandemic. The equivalency is undeniable. The counterargument I anticipate is the argument that proves the point. “Masks and vaccines save lives. You don’t have the right to appeal to bodily autonomy and medical privacy when you could be carrying a virus that may sicken and even kill others.” I’m not imagining this line of attack. We heard this from progressives for months. Well, what does abortion do? If the state can force people to wear masks, quarantine, and receive mRNA injections to save lives, then does it not follow that the state can force people to carry a fetus to term? Preventing abortions save lives. The fetus is alive. There’s no getting around that. The fetus is a member of our species. It only has yet to be born. The question of life, viability, etc., is beside the point.
Please don’t forget—or if you don’t know my stance, read by blog—I support a woman’s right to be free from the practice of forced childbearing. I support this right on the same grounds that I support a woman’s right to free from the practice of forced vaccination. The death of a fetus or a grandmother is not as important as the liberty of the mother and granddaughter. I work from principle and the same principle operates beneath both actions. Abortion isn’t the right. Abortion is an instantiation of the right in question. The right is freedom from state tyranny. The demand is the defense of life, liberty, and property—our lives, our liberty, and property in self. Think of all those who were killed because they tried to deny the life, liberty, and property of others. Those weren’t murders.
I told my Facebook friend that the sides have been misspecified. By that I meant that the partisan divide, the way politics is articulated, force the same contradiction on both sides, where the principle of liberty is corrupted by ideology. The right wants the state to force people to give birth to save lives. The left wants the state to force people to receive mRNA injections to save lives. Yet, almost for sure, failing to force women to carry a fetus to term costs lives. The source of the contradiction is failure to obey principe. If principle is the consideration, then the sides are these: either the state strictly controls our bodies and our liberties for the sake of others, which is a perverse form of humanitarianism (a culture of masochism), or bodily autonomy and medical privacy are excluded from state control except where the state defends and upholds those rights. The sides are authoritarianism versus libertarianism.
Partisan politics confuses the matter even more with the recklessly deployment of the word “democracy.” The Washington Post runs the headline “In draft abortion ruling, Democrats see a court at odds with democracy.” That’s a weird take, since one of the primary arguments against Roe v Wade is that it circumvents the will of the people in those states who have voted to end or restrict the practice of abortion; a majority in support of abortion rights in New York is not a majority opposed to abortion rights in Mississippi. In fact, Roe was at odds with democracy when it was handed down.
That is, in fact, the conservative’s argument and it’s profoundly hypocritical in light of the constant rhetoric from that side about how the United States is a republic not a democracy. Conservatives do want democracy, conceptualized in its worst form as majoritarian, to determine not only whether women have to carry a fetus to term, but whether gays have access to the institution of marriage. But these are not things society should ever subject to majority rule, as they are rights, and rights are for individuals to determine, not the collective. The collective is only obligated to defend rights. Reproductive freedom is not a matter of majority rule any more than slavery is. It’s not even an analogy.
One last thing. If there is no right to privacy, as we have heard conservatives say concerning the basis of Roe (see my recent blog on the problems with the 1973 decision), then on what principle does the Fourth Amendment rest? “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” If there were no right to privacy assumed in that amendment, then why would there be any problem with the state arbitrarily violating the security of my person, house, papers, and effects? Violation of personal security in the manner described in the amendment necessarily presumes privacy.
Politico is reporting that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v Wade (1973), as well as Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992), according to a draft majority opinion, penned by Justice Samuel Alito, circulated inside the court and obtained by Politico. That this is (to my knowledge) the first Supreme Court decision ever leaked to the press is a central issue that must be taken up by the government. How it was leaked is an interesting question; why it was leaked and who leaked it even more so.
However, I knew Roe was doomed and that its demise was just over the horizon. I told my wife and my mother only a month ago that the Supreme Court would soon overthrow Roe. I have been feeling this in my bones for a long time. In May 2007, in a short blog, Judging the Religious, I write, “If one day the Supreme Court is dominated by Catholics, we will be justified in worrying about reproductive freedom in America.” However, it was not only the composition of the Court that spelled the precedent’s demise. Roe was doomed from the beginning because Roe was a bad decision—not because it legalized abortion, but because it is bad law.
Why is Roe a bad decision? “Roe isn’t really about the woman’s choice, is it?” late associate justice to the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsberg told the University of Chicago Law School in May 2013. “It’s about the doctor’s freedom to practice.” She characterized it this way: “it wasn’t woman-centered, it was physician-centered.” In an earlier New York University lecture in 1992 Ginsberg argued that Roe should have focused on a Texas law that “intolerably shackled a woman’s autonomy” by permitting abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger.
“Suppose the Court had stopped there,” Ginsberg said in 1992, “rightly declaring unconstitutional the most extreme brand of law in the nation, and had not gone on, as the Court did in Roe, to fashion a regime blanketing the subject, a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force.” “Would there have been the twenty-year controversy we have witnessed, reflected most recently in the Supreme Court’s splintered decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey?” she wondered rhetorically. “A less encompassing Roe,” she answered herself, “might have served to reduce rather than to fuel controversy.”
In its ruling, penned by associate justice Harry Blackmun, the Court held that a set of Texas laws concerning abortion violated the constitutional right of privacy, which Blackmun held to be implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” However, the Court rejected Jane Roe’s assertion of an absolute right to terminate pregnancy in any manner and at any time. It instead attempted to balance a right of privacy with state interests in regulating abortion. In its attempt at compromise between right and power, the Court constructed an arbitrary set of rules and imposed them on every state, thereby dooming Roe to failure in the long run.
I have always found it strange that that the court avoided appealing to the rights to liberty and property explicit in the Fourteenth Amendment and instead appealed to the right to privacy, which, while necessarily assumed by the Constitution (for example, the Fourth Amendment only works if privacy is the underlying principle), does not appear in the text of the amendment in question. My view is that the Court should have accepted Roe’s assertion. Liberty demands that a human beings cannot be forced to sustain the life of another human being with his own organs. How can you be free under those conditions?
Moreover, property in ones body, which is the foundation of the property right, repels the power of the state to use ones property for whatever arbitrary ends it seeks. What possibly could be the justification for commandeering the woman’s body to use as an incubator? As I have argued elsewhere, does this not represent the essence of tyranny? This isn’t about running a railway through the middle of your estate. This is about running the railway through your body.
Politically, the pending decision may function as a monkey wrench thrown into the populist takeover of the Republican Party. The populists were well on their way to dominating the 2022 midterm elections and continuing their transformation of establishment politics. The ruling should motivate progressives to get out the vote, with the effect of slowing the Republican advance. At the same time, violent protests, which are highly likely (we’re already seeing the signs) may work against Democrats in the midterms.
Woke progressivism also alienates Americans with its incessant and irrational focus on identity. We are already hearing a lot about how the composition of the Supreme Court, being majority male, tells us something about how Roe gets overturned. Yet the Supreme Court that established the Roe precedent was all male. We should remember that those who abolished slavery were all males. All white males. Brown v Board of Education. All male. All white. The 1964 Civil Rights Act? Out of 535 congresspersons, there was a grand total of fourteen women in Congress in 1964. There were only five black congressmen in 1964. Oh, and associate justice Amy Coney Barrett is female.
What matters is not skin color, chromosomes, or gonads, but ideas. We don’t need restrictive moralism from either the right or the left. We don’t needs an overbearing administrative state. American politics require a radical course correction. Libertarianism must take its place at the heart of American politics. We must return to our liberal roots.
Remember, when the United States was founded, most states continued to operate under the English common law right to abortion, which permitted the termination of a pregnancy before fetal movement (quickening). Laws criminalizing abortion did not appear until the late 1800s. Abortion is a fundamental right stretching back millennia. Remember also that, before Roe, abortion was legal in several states and will likely continue to be legal after Roe is overturned.
Our struggle is to extend to each citizen regardless of the state in which they reside access to what should be understood as a fundamental personal right. To do this, we must reclaim an authentic politics of human freedom and begin again.
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Note (5/4/2022): I am not disparaging my Catholic friends. I am drawing upon an understanding of Catholic ideology. If you understand Catholicism, then you can probably understand what I’m saying. There is a lot of history behind my prediction.
Until the emergence of the New Right in the 1970s, which was a reaction to overbearing progressivism and concomitant suffocation of liberal values by Democratic Party ideology, Protestants didn’t much care about abortion. Certainly not in any organized way. Catholic side-switching fused other conservative tendencies to give right populism cachet in the Republican Party, which Southerners found attractive in the post-Civil Rights period. Progressivism crushed populism on the left and American became deeply polarized along cultural lines. Democrats abandoned the working class and individualism, as well as embraced neoliberalism (having already embraced globalism), and millions of working people gravitated to the conservative movement. The end of Roe is ultimately the consequence of woke progressivism clearing the path for conservative Catholicism to replace liberal Protestantism and secular Judaism on the Court.
I’m no oracle. I have gotten things wrong, but not very often. And this one I saw coming from miles away. My predictive ability has to do with a methodology of maximal objectivity. That methodology depends on a perspective rooted in secular humanist and left-libertarianism. These elements comprise a standpoint that’s resistant to the corrupting effects of partisan political-ideology (albeit, political-ideology still constrains me). This standpoint is why I alienate Democrats and Republicans alike. They don’t know what I am. That’s okay. Just look at my record.