- Real Rules for Radicals
- STEM, SCAM, and Classical Learning
- Will “We the People” step up to the plate?
- Ya shoulda won, ya jerk
- Sucking the talent out
- The masters in the Kremlin have a problem
Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.
[T]he percentage of white Republicans with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled since 1990. This shift helped Trump win the GOP nomination. During the campaign, commentators had a hard time reconciling Trump’s apparent ignorance of Christianity and his history of pro-choice and pro-gay-rights statements with his support from evangelicals. But as Notre Dame’s Geoffrey Layman noted, “Trump does best among evangelicals with one key trait: They don’t really go to church.” …
[N]on-churchgoing conservatives didn’t flock to Trump only because he articulated their despair. He also articulated their resentments. For decades, liberals have called the Christian right intolerant. When conservatives disengage from organized religion, however, they don’t become more tolerant. They become intolerant in different ways. Research shows that evangelicals who don’t regularly attend church are less hostile to gay people than those who do. But they’re more hostile to African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. In 2008, the University of Iowa’s Benjamin Knoll noted that among Catholics, mainline Protestants, and born-again Protestants, the less you attended church, the more anti-immigration you were …
Read Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari’s famous Breitbart.com essay, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right.” It contains five references to “tribe,” seven to “race,” 13 to “the west” and “western” and only one to “Christianity.” That’s no coincidence. The alt-right is ultra-conservatism for a more secular age. Its leaders like Christendom, an old-fashioned word for the West. But they’re suspicious of Christianity itself, because it crosses boundaries of blood and soil. As a college student, the alt-right leader Richard Spencer was deeply influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously hated Christianity. Radix, the journal Spencer founded, publishes articles with titles like “Why I Am a Pagan.” One essay notes that “critics of Christianity on the Alternative Right usually blame it for its universalism.”
Secularization is transforming the left, too. In 1990, according to PRRI, slightly more than half of white liberals seldom or never attended religious services. Today the proportion is 73 percent. And if conservative nonattenders fueled Trump’s revolt inside the GOP, liberal nonattenders fueled Bernie Sanders’s insurgency against Hillary Clinton: While white Democrats who went to religious services at least once a week backed Clinton by 26 points, according to an April 2016 PRRI survey, white Democrats who rarely attended services backed Sanders by 13 points.
Sanders, like Trump, appealed to secular voters because he reflected their discontent. White Democrats who are disconnected from organized religion are substantially more likely than other white Democrats to call the American dream a myth …
African Americans under the age of 30 are three times as likely to eschew a religious affiliation as African Americans over 50. This shift is crucial to understanding Black Lives Matter, a Millennial-led protest movement whose activists often take a jaundiced view of established African American religious leaders …
Critics say Black Lives Matter’s failure to employ Christian idiom undermines its ability to persuade white Americans. “The 1960s movement … had an innate respectability because our leaders often were heads of the black church,” Barbara Reynolds, a civil-rights activist and former journalist, wrote in The Washington Post. “Unfortunately, church and spirituality are not high priorities for Black Lives Matter, and the ethics of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that empowered black leaders such as King and Nelson Mandela in their successful quests to win over their oppressors are missing from this movement.”
(Peter Beinart, Breaking Faith, The Atlantic)
I’ve been reading Abp. Charles Chaput’s Strangers in a Strange Land. He segues into one chapter by recalling Saul Alinsky‘s ironic invocation of Lucifer as the original radical rebel. Then Chaput summarizes his scorn for Alinsky’s influential book (emphasis added):
[T]hecore sin of Rules for Radicals is that it’s not nearly radical enough. Rather, it’s the familiar human appetite for power dressed up in progressive-left language. And it stands in sharp contrast to the kind of true radicalism demanded by a Christian life.
And what is that “true radicalism”? Look up Jesus Christ’s Rules for Radicals.
As Rod Dreher said of the Beinart article:
Read the whole thing. It’s important. It’s a confirmation of a line Ross Douthat had a year or so ago, telling the left that if they didn’t like the Religious Right, just wait until the see the Post-Religious Right.
Amen to that.
There’s a new kid on the block. The SAT and ACT have been joined by the CLT, the Classical Learning Test. One of the founders of the Classical Learning Initiative explains why it was developed, including:
I began a SAT Prep company.
As I began to immerse myself in the SAT, I was shocked to discover how much the test had changed since I graduated from high school in 2000. The most salient aspects of the SAT that I remembered had disappeared. The infamous analogies had been replaced with reading passages that were often politically charged and almost always championed the views of the political left … As a former teacher, I understood that tests don’t just evaluate – they teach. Tests are inherently pedagogical …
As a college counselor, I had several experiences working with students who initially wanted to attend a small liberal arts college. However, after taking the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, these students would get flooded with junk mail from large state universities. Their names and contact information had been sold on the open market, and the colleges with the best marketing machines would end up getting the students. Sometimes the junk mail would include a personal letter from a college admissions representative, and often the student would end up committing to a large research university instead of a small liberal arts college.
These students’ decisions not to attend a liberal arts college was often compounded by input from parents who would tell me, “my son (or daughter) will need a job after college – and the future is in STEM.” STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has been a buzz word in education for the past several years. The CLT loves math and science, but serious people recognize that STEM is not simply about math and science. David Wagner, co-founder and CEO of the Classic Learning Test, spent more than a decade in the health care industry before co-founding the CLT. Mr. Wagner has drawn attention to the lobbying efforts of big pharmaceutical companies who seek to undercut their own product development costs by having research universities do it for them. This is one of the origins of the STEM propaganda narrative, which is now being pushed by both the SAT and ACT. The STEM narrative asserts that most of the good jobs in the future will come from STEM majors. This claim contradicts the consistent insight of many of America’s top business leaders who see the liberal arts as the future. Steve Jobs once said that “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” In a recent interview, billionaire Mark Cuban echoed the same viewpoint, stating his belief that in a decade, there will be a greater job market demand for students with liberal arts majors than students with programming or engineering majors.
Nonetheless, many liberal arts colleges are suffering a downturn in enrollment as students continue to flock to large research universities. The CLT hopes to change this reality …
Every college to date that has taken the time to do a thorough review of the CLT has adopted it as a third option. It is the only college admissions test offered which is not aligned with common core standards and it is the only test that has retained elements of a true aptitude test. In fact, Hillsdale College, after an extensive six-month review of the CLT, noted that as an aptitude test, the CLT was “superior.” To the extent that the CLT is an achievement test, it measures mastery of better content. Rather than relying on meaningless texts that nobody would read if he or she was not taking a standardized test, the CLT puts students in front of the greatest thinkers in the history of Western thought. By creating a new standard that is distinctly Western and drawn from the richness of our intellectual heritage, the CLT hopes to encourage secondary schools to return to teaching the great classics.
(Jeremy Tate — emphasis added)
I won’t even pretend to be neutral. I’m very enthusiastic about CLT, as about Classical learning generally, and pleased to learn that guys with the business chops of Steve Jobs and Mark Cuban see that STEM may be SCAM.
As for Corporate America propagandizing for STEM, the better to outsource R&D on the cheap, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was.
Really, my tombstone should read “Darn! Just when I almost had this figured out!”
On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump did “solemnly swear . . . [to] faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,” and to “to the best of [his] ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Constitution that Trump swore to preserve contains many limits on his own power—including the Take Care Clause of Article II, which commands that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
But can it be seriously believed that Trump does anything “faithfully”? That he even understands the ideas embodied in the Constitution, let alone that fidelity to its text and spirit—and to the project it embodies—have purchase in his mind? …
Consider the evidence, keeping in mind that this excludes Trump’s statements on the campaign trail and that we’re only talking about a mere seven weeks.
This list goes on, and on, and on …
And perhaps most threatening of all, there’s the lying: the constant, unyielding, numbing fire hose of complete and utter bullshit—some of it barely intelligible—that engulfs Trump and everyone around him in a suffocating, disorienting haze that blurs the boundaries of truth and all but eviscerates the very notion.
It may be difficult to describe the precise “high crimes and misdemeanors” inside Trump’s melting pot of abuse that already warrant Trump’s removal from office by the Senate following impeachment by the House. And it could be challenging to fit his obviously bizarre and rash conduct into conventional notions of inability (in the 25th Amendment sense). Nonetheless, this bill of particulars speaks to a point worth recalling: the Constitution affords the President broad power, and in exchange demands that he “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
In subtle ways, this command affects our whole constitutional structure …
Ultimately, if the President will not “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” then that obligation falls on “We the People,” who established this nation in the first place and remain the ultimate pillar of its Constitution.
(Laurence H. Tribe at the new Take Care legal blog) It’s depressing when the (relatively) conservative side is full of bullshit. That’s usually truer of the relatively liberal side, but you really have to go far left to find minds as empty as the one in the Oval Office these days.
Five judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agree that (1) Donald Trump’s original “travel ban” should not have been stricken down and (2) Donald Trump is a creepy unamerican bully:
The five appeals court judges wrote that they believed the court should have deferred to the administration on the executive order, citing Supreme Court precedents on immigration and national security.
But then, at the end of the 29-page dissenting opinion, Bybee, joined by Judges Alex Kozinski, Consuelo M. Callahan, Carlos T. Bea and Sandra S. Ikuta, wrote an unusual aside, saying he wished “to comment on the public discourse that has surrounded these proceedings …” He went on:
Even as I dissent from our decision not to vacate the panel’s flawed opinion, I have the greatest respect for my colleagues. The personal attacks on the distinguished district judge and our colleagues were out of bounds of civic and persuasive discourse — particularly when they came from the parties.
It does no credit to the arguments of the parties to impugn the motives or the competence of the members of this court; ad hominem attacks are not a substitute for effective advocacy. Such personal attacks treat the court as though it were merely a political forum in which bargaining, compromise and even intimidation are acceptable principles. The courts of law must be more than that, or we are not governed by law at all.”
Coming from Bybee, the statement had particular significance. He was head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush and signed the so-called “Torture Memos” in 2002 permitting “enhanced interrogation” techniques on detainees.
Another 9th Circuit judge, this one concurring with the majority’s refusal to rehear the case, appeared to be referencing Trump as well. “I am proud to be a part of this court and a judicial system that is independent and courageous,” wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt, “and that vigorously protects the constitutional rights of all, regardless of the source of any efforts to weaken or diminish them.”
Do note, cherry-pickers of the world, that this was a dissent. The first travel ban remains stricken down.
Experts have warned for years now that our rates of geographic mobility have fallen to troubling lows. Given that some areas have unemployment rates around 2 percent and others many times that, this lack of movement may mean joblessness for those who could otherwise work.
But from the community’s perspective, mobility can be a problem. The economist Matthew Kahn has shown that in Appalachia, for instance, the highly skilled are much likelier to leave not just their hometowns but also the region as a whole. This is the classic “brain drain” problem: Those who are able to leave very often do.
The brain drain also encourages a uniquely modern form of cultural detachment. Eventually, the young people who’ve moved out marry — typically to partners with similar economic prospects. They raise children in increasingly segregated neighborhoods, giving rise to something the conservative scholar Charles Murray calls “super ZIPs.” These super ZIPs are veritable bastions of opportunity and optimism, places where divorce and joblessness are rare.
As one of my college professors recently told me about higher education, “The sociological role we play is to suck talent out of small towns and redistribute it to big cities.” There have always been regional and class inequalities in our society, but the data tells us that we’re living through a unique period of segregation.
(J.D. Vance, Why I’m Moving Home)
In the Soviet Union, where I arrived in 1980 as a reporter … [t]he February Revolution, in which the monarchy gave way to the provisional government, was considered a “democratic bourgeois” sideshow to the Great October Socialist Revolution that opened the way for a “new era in the history of humanity.” The October Revolution, Nov. 7 (Oct. 25 in the Julian calendar), the day on which the provisional government was overthrown, was the national holiday, marked with military displays on Red Square under massive portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin.
Now that the new era in the history of humanity is over, the masters in the Kremlin have a problem. As The Times’s Neil MacFarquhar reported from Moscow, neither the February nor the October Revolution fits comfortably into President Vladimir Putin’s view of himself or Russian history. Popular uprisings in Ukraine and Georgia have made him wary of any revolution, and neither the ouster of the Orthodox czar in February nor the victory of Lenin in October fit into Mr. Putin’s preferred narrative of continuous Russian greatness and importance. It’s not easy rewriting history to create a new Russian identity out of the contradictory narratives of czarism, Bolshevism and the post-Communist travails.
But then no nation that has experienced revolution can ever cease poring over its causes, myths and lessons.
(Serge Schmemann, The Russian Revolution Then and Now)
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“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)