Thanksgiving Day 2016

  1. In the Gnostic Dream world
  2. History doesn’t repeat, but …
  3. Nationalisms
  4. There oughta be a law
  5. How privacy gets lost

Secondary Things

1

In the “Gnostic dream world,” as Eric Vogelin once put it, “non-recognition of reality is the first principle.” Critics who persist in drawing attention to reality must be discredited or silenced. Otherwise, the Gnostic fantasy world crumbles.

Soviet authorities silenced dissenters with late-night knocks on the door. In the U.S., the tool of choice is weaponized civil rights. Critics of the transgender ideology are are denounced as bigots — guilty of the only sin left in our post-Christian world. In this way, the transgender movement’s true believers end reasoned debate, seize the high moral ground, and clear the stage for heart-tugging anecdotes of suffering and suicide, which they use to win sympathy and public support. At the same time, by claiming the mantle of civil rights, they enlist the power of the state to impose a political and cultural agenda.

Today, transgender advocates are creating a Potemkin Village — build on hormones, surgery, and chest-binders — to solidify the illusion on which their magical reality is based. By demanding that others employ “preferred pronouns,” they pervert language, using it not to communicate truth, but to advance their program — they hallmark of propaganda.

The transgender crusade may also provoke a counter-attack from feminists. For decades, feminism has held that girls tend to play with dolls and boys with trucks not because of in-born biological traits, but because of oppressive social norms. To cobble together a case for transgender rights, LGBT activists have been required to maintain the opposite: that a boy’s desire to play with dolls—or dance like Beyoncé—proves he is a “girl trapped in a boy’s body.” Feminists may increasingly object to this claim because it undermines their project. Are hard-charging professional women really “men” trapped in women’s bodies?

(Katherine Kersten, Transgender Conformity — likely paywall until December or January)

The stereotypes implicit in claims such as a man saying “I feel like a woman” are obvious. I’m inclined to say that stereotypes invariably reflect some truth, however distorted the reflection may be, so that’s not so much an argument against transgender ideology as it is against the feminist dogmas of my lifetime.

The stronger argument against transgender ideology is that gnostic mind-body dualism is a false anthropology, and that a woman trapped in a man’s body (or vice-versa) is an oxymoron since the gender dysphoric man is not separate from his male body.

I hesitate to go further than that, but here goes anyway (shoot it down if I’m all wet): the gender dysphoric man may be “effeminate” in the sense of displaying many stereotypically female behaviors, attitudes, gestures, etc., but is still very much a man. Ditto for the gender dysphoric woman, who likely was what we called a “tomboy” growing up. Take it from someone who’s less than muy macho.

Why not simply acknowledge, in other words, that men and women can exhibit traits stereotypically associated with the opposite sex without being really, deep down inside, a member of the opposite sex, or of some ineffable intersex thingy?

Unless, that is, it’s all about stuff like this:

“LGBT groups have created a celebrity culture for these [trans] kids,” she notes, adding,

OutFront Minnesota gives awards for being the Rosa Parks of your school, trying to change its policies and culture. How tempting it can be to step into this world—overnight, you can become an amazing, famous civil rights hero!

Is there a special place in hell for the likes of OutFront Minnesota?

(Yes, I’m generally aware of marginal cases of ambiguous genitalia and genetic anomalies — which may or may not coincide with gender confusion. But we have orders of magnitude more entirely subjective claims of transgenderism than cases with objective indicia of problems.)

Tertiary Things

2

Data point:  275 or so attended a white supremacist gathering in Washington DC after the Trump election.

Names are important. That’s why inaccurate phrases and euphemisms such as “death tax” or “partial birth abortion” or “right to life” are chosen by their constituencies.

“Alt-right” sounds like an FM radio station. Harmless. But when a meeting ends in a Hitler salute, the only correct term is neo-Nazi. This is hate speech. Please stop normalizing it.

MICHAEL O. CAMPBELL

Kirkland, Wash.

(New York Times letter to the editor)

I don’t expect the New York Times to draw any distinction between alt-right and white supremacist, as it would like to marginalize all the alt-right as white supremacist.

Fuller context: 275 is fewer than one-in-a-million Americans, 0.0000859%, 275/320,000,000 — assuming they were all Americans and not just anglophone humans identifying as white. (Hmmm. I wonder what 23 and Me would have to say about their identity?) The gathering was planned before the election as a way of organizing, but grabbed at Donald Trump’s coattails as it gave them a chance to say “Hail, Trump!” and do extended-arm salutes for the cameras.

<Godwin’s Law>The power of a small group was famously underestimated in Weimar Germany,</Godwin’s Law> but I’m not losing sleep over this over-hyped gathering of hellions.

It’s probably failsons and other signs of Weimar America that should bother us. They may be our home-grown version of tens of millions of young Chinese men, artifacts of the mashup of “one-child policy” and sex-selection abortion, for whom there are no young Chinese women. One tried and true method of reducing surplus male populations is war. There’s no tried and true remedy for failsons, but we may be the generation to see what they bring.

Remember: history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.

3

President elect Trump’s buddy Steve Bannon says he’s not a white nationalist but an economic nationalist. I believe him.

But I’m reminded, and remind you, that “nationalist” is almost as problematic as “white nationalist.” (Bret Stephens objects to economic nationalism on such different grounds that perhaps the whole significance of “nationalism” is unclear.)

The chance of eradicating nationalism is essentially zero, but it makes me reconsider the virtue of patriotically declining to vote for either party’s nationalist vision.

4

It’s wildly unconstitutional today and for the immediate future, of course — but down the road, in a world of Trump-picked Supreme Court nominees confirmed by a Republican Senate presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, who was one of the country’s leading anti-abortion governors, it’s possible to envision such a measure being upheld.

(Linda Greenhouse, New York Times)

So is the constitution going to change if something “wildly unconstitutional today” might be upheld if this election has consequences? Or is the court going to shirk its duty by upholding something that remains unconstitutional? Or is the court today forbidding something on which the constitutional is silent, and that Supreme Court overreach is what Greenhouse means by “wildly unconstitutional today”?

From there, Greenhouse goes on to imply that there’s something unconstitutional about different states having different laws (“separate but equal” is her tendentious motif).

There are some legal topics Linda Greenhouse shouldn’t be allowed to cover as she has repeatedly shown herself incapable of coherence on them.

5

This is how privacy gets lost.

A review appeared on Facebook or Twitter about 5 must-have Chrome browser extensions. The first one, called “Honey,” pops up at checkout on any e-commerce site and offers coupon codes and better prices on your purchase. The reviewer insisted he saved money almost every time he bought on the internet. It was the only one of five that sounded helpful to me.

I hastened to add it, but “It can read and change all your data on websites you visit.” Hmmm. They do an admirable job of trying to suss out that summary if you follow up.

I haven’t decided yet whether to take the bait. I’ve probably accepted similar terms innumerable times, entirely unread.

UPDATE: What could possibly go wrong? They’re just going to save me money and enhance my experience.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.