Saturday Evening, 8/19/17

  1. The Status of Trump’s Agenda
  2. Theatrics
  3. Hate, the new Sex
  4. Shootout at Credibility Gap
  5. Willing to shed blood
  6. Rough apportionment of blame

1

I suggested that Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House might liberate our first orange President to “settle down to be the best single-term POTUS he can be.”

Since the prophets sometimes spoke from within trances, or at least spoke truer than they knew, I just might be a prophet, because Alan Jacobs convincingly (and with characteristic brevity) explains how the agenda is doing better than ever now:

Donald Trump’s actual agenda is to own our mindspace, so the answer to the question is Yes. Trump wants to be the face before all eyes, the name on all lips. That is all. There is nothing else, there has never been anything else, there never will be anything else. His agenda is going wonderfully, thank you so much for asking.

2

The ideology is just the furniture and props that the characters throw at each other in set-piece fights. Trade protectionism: a sofa overturned in a tantrum. A vow to fight the globalists: a box of Valtrex fired across the room in anger.

(Michael Brendan Dougherty)

It’s all starting to bring to mind this passage from the contemporary German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, describing the Weimar Republic:

Theatricality appeared to be the common denominator of all manifestations of life – from Expressionism to Marlene Dietrich’s spectacular legs in Blue Angel; from the bloody comedy of Hitler’s 1923 putsch to Brecht’s Threepenny Opera; from the impressive funeral of Rathenau to the calculated banditry of the Reichstag fire of 1933. The permanent crisis proved to be an excellent metteur en scene, one who knew how to direct quite a few memorable effects.

(Rod Dreher) Dreher has had a blog category of “Weimar America” for quite a while now, and I’ve not adopted it mostly because it’s brilliant enough that I don’t want to dilute his mark or look like a total fanboy, which I’m not. I’m a fan, to be sure, but more than that, Dreher’s constellation of issues just overlaps my own more than almost any other current blogger, even when I think he may be a bit off-key.

3

During its heyday, people in Britain and America loudly proclaimed exactly the same attitudes toward sex that their great-grandchildren now display toward hate. If you wanted to define anything as utterly beyond the pale, you just had to label it as “immoral”—in the jargon of the time, this meant “sexual”—and the vast majority of people were expected to recoil from it in horror. No political campaign back in the day, as far as I know, used the slogan PURITY TRUMPS IMMORALITY, but then political sloganeering hadn’t yet decayed into the kind of empty mouthing of buzzwords on display at present. The sentiment was certainly there.

Back in January of 2016, when I first predicted Trump’s victory, I pointed out that if you wanted to hear really over-the-top hate speech, all you had to do was listen to a group of comfortably well-to-do Americans in the bicoastal urban bubble talk about white working class Americans in the flyover states. That’s become even more true now than it was then. Take the rhetoric currently being flung by well-off Democratic voters at Trump supporters, swap out the ethnic labels for any other set you choose, and you’ll have a hard time telling it apart from the rantings of any other group of bigots.

Notice, furthermore, how this feeds into the utter fascination with which so many people on the leftward end of the political spectrum hang on Donald Trump’s every word and action. Seen through the funhouse mirror of their projected emotions, at least, he’s the equivalent of a naked couple having kinky sex right there in the middle of the street. He’s acting out their dearest fantasy, hating other people right out there in public—how can they possibly look away? In effect, they put an apostrophe into Clinton’s slogan, and made it read LOVE TRUMP’S HATE—and covertly, in the silent hours of the night, they do.

(John Michael Greer, Hate is the New Sex, H/T Rod Dreher)

4

The more leftists insist we aren’t allowed to talk about left-wing political violence, the more I’m inclined to circle back to the subject.  As a companion story to today’s item about a conservative student getting roughed up by Antifa thugs when he showed up in solidarity at an anti-Alt-Right rally, here is CNN anchor Jake Tapper refusing to look away from the hard left’s pattern of targeting journalists — developments that you’d think the entire press would be all over.

[Jake] Tapper links to Antifa’s statement “explaining” the attack, which the victim’s TV station says is a pile of outright lies (and the video above backs up their account).  One of Antifa’s claims is that they demanded the journalist stop doing his job because he didn’t have “consent” to document what was happening — accusing the news-gatherer they assaulted of perpetuating “rape culture:”

When this man ran up he was told people did not want to be filmed. He proceeded to film anyways. He was then told AGAIN that he was not to film people’s faces. He proceeded anyways. He intentionally ignored the denial of consent, still without identifying himself (though we still wouldn’t care), which was a threat to safety and should be considered in a context of perpetuating rape culture. Denial of consent by the media is still a denial of consent and is disgusting and parasitic behavior.

A journalist doing his job by filming rioters is a “threat to safety,” you see — not the rioters.  And for failing to get their “consent” for doing his job, he’s sort of like a rapist.  These people aren’t just violent liars; they’re insane violent liars.

(Guy Benson, lamenting the lack of honest coverage of Left violence against the Media — “developments that you’d think the entire press would be all over”)

Not to worry, though. The antifa laid up that “rapist” cameraman, who had the audacity of making a record of public behavior, for three days with a concussion.

When the press won’t ever report Left violence against the press, they’ve got a serious credibility problem.

5

When the enemy is seen as implacably evil, it becomes far easier to inflict evil upon them; one-dimensional enemies give us a free pass to inflict unrestrained violence upon them.

[A] second myth is no better and perhaps even more dangerous because it appears to be more even-handed and fair: that both sides are equally to blame. What today we usually term moral equivalence. If there is one thing more absurd than the notion that one side is ever completely to blame for a conflict, it is the sillier notion that blame can ever be equally apportioned …

I was a young, idealistic university student [in 1971], and also in that year there was an uprising of prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. Negotiation was tried and failed, and an exasperated Governor Rockefeller finally approved an attack. All told, 43 men lost their lives. The killings shocked most of the world, and being easily outraged in those days, I traveled up to New York City to join a demonstration against what I saw as the reckless government slaughter of the inmates and hostages. The atmosphere was tense …

[S]ome self-proclaimed Maoists in the crowd started to chant, “Kill the Pigs, Kill the Pigs” and called on the demonstrators to charge the barricade. Some demonstrators took up the call and started to push up against the barricades. I was appalled—and scared. I got into an argument with a passionate young Maoist about the tactics she was advocating, but she dismissed me for my naiveté. She explained that provoking the police was necessary to ignite the “revolution” America needed. Quoting her idol, Mao, she called on all of us to join her. If the police could be provoked into spilling some innocent blood, it was well worth it in her calculus. I angrily told her that most of the people here had come to peacefully protest the Attica killings, but she just shook her head condescendingly, turned away, and went back to urging the demonstrators to attack. I went back to the Rutgers campus later that night and wondered how anyone could be so committed to any cause that she could think spilling innocent blood justifiable.

(Joseph Mussomeli) This isn’t “out of the blue.” It connects to Charlottesville.

6

Speaking of Charlottesville, and summarizing my thoughts on the issues implied in the preceding two items, I’m going to give qualified endorsement to a kind of moral equivalence: that of the Unite the Right protesters (if that wasn’t a homogenous group, then the press really let us down by not distinguishing its sub-groups) and the SJW/Antifa portion of the counter-protesters (the press at least hints that the counter-protesters were not homogenous).

The Clergy, both of Charlottesville and from outside, were often the front line of the counter-protesters. I have heard no reports of them engaging in violence, and they were self-consciously intending nonviolence (even if, perchance, some of them didn’t live up to it).

The Antifa, in its ironic fascism, considers nonviolence a weakness it has no intent of indulging. And as the New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg truthfully Tweeted, they seemed as hate-filled as the Unite the Right manboys. She was forced later to do her mea culpas for telling such an impolitic truth, but truth it was. The Antifa wasn’t wearing masks for nothing.

Equivalence here is of analogy, not equality. I give the greater blame to the Unite the Right because they were the aggressors, itchin’ for a fight which the masked Antifa gladly provided. But I resolutely deny that the Antifa is innocent now or that it’s ever likely to be innocent.

And I think anyone who watched any of the videos knows that.

* * * * *

Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.