Just because I’m infallible shouldn’t mean I don’t get to correct things. I’ll just correct other people.
Just about everyone on rube book-banners
To the best of my knowledge, Maus hasn’t been banned anywhere. I believe it was removed from the curriculum (not from the library even) of just one school district in Tennessee, for dubious or petty reasons (although there were pretty good ones, such as "graphic novels are comic books puttin’ on airs"). The "controversy" is mostly the prestige press and progressive trolls who just can’t get enough of mocking people in flyover country, with an assist from the author hinting that folks in McMinn County probably are Nazis ("I moved past total bafflement to try to be tolerant of people who may possibly not be Nazis, maybe ….")
I checked my memory with a DuckDuckGo search "What really happened in Tennessee with Maus?" and found that CNN (the top hit, actually) accurately reported the curricular nexus even in its headline while every other top hit save one (a pro-Trump "there go the libs hatin’ on normal folks again" gloat) falsely referred to "ban" in the headlines.
Doomsayers on civil war
I don’t really follow Jamelle Bouie, a young, black, progressive opinion columnist at the New York Times, but Tuesday’s column decidedly caught my eye: Why We Are Not Facing the Prospect of a Second Civil War. Like many in his introduction, I’ve been worrying that we are facing civil war (a prospect that renews my near-pacifism).
He describes "the inexorable syllogism of King Cotton", and how the 1850s and the election of Lincoln threatened it all:
[T]he American South produced nearly all the world’s usable raw cotton; this cotton fueled the industrial development of the North Atlantic; therefore, the advanced economies of France, the northern United States, and Great Britain were ruled, in effect, by southern planters.” The backlash to slavery — the effort to restrain its growth and contain its spread — was an existential threat to the Southern elite.
That people fervently hate each other today matters little. The key question is
whether that hate results from the irreconcilable social and economic interests of opposing groups within the society. If it must be one way or the other, then you might have a conflict on your hands.
All of our conflicts can be compromised. There are no existential threats to anyone — only LARPing about "the end of America as we know it." We can still split differences or agree to co-exist while disagreeing.
Glad I read it, and I recommend it. It’s too abbreviated to be overwhelmingly convincing, but the arguments that we are headed for civil war have mostly been abbreviated as well. For three other "no civil war" opinions, see here, here and here
It should be clear to any reporter that a national security source who whispers not only the alleged date of a coming invasion, but the number of days of aerial bombardment and the war’s expected level of horror and bloodiness, is either yanking your chain with a fairy tale, or using you, or both. Reporters on this beat nonetheless repeated this tale over and over, as if it were patriotic duty.
Matt Taibbi (my subscription to whom soon ends)
Is Putin Winning?
What Russia got by holding a gun to the head of Ukraine for the sake of raising its security concerns to top of mind among Western interlocutors was recognition from the United States as a major military force to be reckoned with in conventional as well as nuclear arms. And there were indications in the written U.S. response to the Russian draft treaties that significant agreements could be reached on limiting war games in Europe, on controlling or banning intermediate range nuclear capable missiles in Europe, on maintaining normal channels of communication open between the military and civilian leaders on both sides. The policy of isolation, denigration of Russia and dismissal of its security interests that dated from the Bush and Obama administrations, and in which Biden himself had participated as formulator and implementer, was now abandoned so long as Russia did not in fact invade Ukraine.
Reality Minus. It’s a bit rich for David Bentley Hart to note that someone else’s book is “a much, much longer book than it has any business being” and that its author fails to be “a concise expositor of ideas.” But Hart’s critique of David Chalmers’s arguments in Reality+—arguments that lead Chalmers to deem it sensible to want to “emigrate” from the physical world to some future virtual realm—is spot on: “To prefer the comfortable shelter of a simulated environment to the mysterious, wild, prodigal beauty and sublimity of life and mind — of psychē — that exist in vital nature, or even to be able calmly to contemplate absconding to the former in the aftermath of the latter’s eclipse, seems to me worse than pitiable.”
Front Porch Republic (emphasis added)
It’s my strong feeling that the Metaverse is a dystopian horror, and it would be even if Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t into it commercially. But then I was shocked a few years ago to learn that a lot of college students thought (think?) Brave New World is a utopian novel.
Our foolish consistencies
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, brought to my mind Sunday by Ross Douthat, whose brief is more limited than Emerson’s: the foolish consistency that repeatedly plagues American law (and debases American culture), most recently in the explosion of commercial gambling and open storefront marijuana dealing.
No heart, no problem
The deep thinkers have figured a way around the unique Texas abortion law. Since it forbids abortion after a heartbeat is detected, it only applies if there’s a heart, whereas a six-week preborn child has only "a primitive tube of cardiac cells that emit electric pulses and pump blood."
So glad they explained that.
Pardon me or I’ll kill you, too
A Pakistani man sentenced to life in prison in 2019 for strangling his sister, a model on social media, was acquitted of murder Monday after his parents pardoned him under Islamic law. Waseem Azeem was arrested in 2016 after he confessed to killing Qandeel Baloch, 26, for posting what he called “shameful” pictures on Facebook. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison but his parents had sought his release. Islamic law in Pakistan allows a murder victim’s family to pardon a convicted killer.
Wire Report, page B1 of the Lafayette Journal & Courier, 2/15/22
According to mass communications theorists Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, the mass media is no good at telling people what to think but is stunningly good at telling them what to think about.
Alisa Miller, Media Makeover.
Arguably (I’m tempted to say "probably") the worst media bias is in what the media choose to report, not how they choose to report it.
No good reason to oppose this one
The only members in Congress who might not want to reform [the Electoral Count Act] are those planning its imminent exploitation to overturn the next presidential election.
J. Michael Luttig, retired U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge.
I married very young.
Spoken by British philosopher Kathleen Stock, of her marriage at age 25 to a man she met at 19.
I guess I’m living on the wrong side of the tracks, where we marry insanely young, like 23 (me) and 21 (my wife). It seems to have worked out fairly well, though.
The Census Bureau’s latest Business Formation Report found Americans are founding companies at an unprecedented rate, with the number of applications to start new businesses jumping 53 percent in 2021 from pre-pandemic levels.
The Morning Dispatch, 2/16/22.
Sympathetic to Distributist economics, I love capitalists so much that I want to see millions more of them.
Many of these new businesses will fail, no doubt, as new businesses tend to do. But I will count it as a silver lining if Covid disenthralled people of the idea that wage slavery is their only option.
R.I.P., P.J. O’Rourke
As soon as children discover that the world isn’t nice, they want to make it nicer. And wouldn’t a world where everybody shares everything be nice? Aw … kids are so tender-hearted.
"But kids are broke — so they want to make the world nicer with your money. And kids don’t have much control over things — so they want to make the world nicer through your effort. And kids are very busy being young — so it’s your time that has to be spent making the world nicer. For them. The greedy little bastards.
The late P.J. O’Rourke
How matters as much as what
Joining in the widespread hope that Roe v. Wade will be reversed this year, Hadley Arkes argues that how, and with what tropes, SCOTUS reverses will be quite important:
Imagine if the justices to were to uphold the Mississippi law and say something like the following:
The case has been amply made by now, in the settled findings of embryology, that the child in the womb has been human from its first moments, a distinct life, not merely a part of the mother’s body. The legislature in Mississippi is amply justified in extending the protections of the law over this small human being, residing for a long moment in her mother’s womb. It falls to the states to weigh the question of when it would be justified to take this human life, with the same standards of judgment that enter into gauging the justification for the taking of any other human life. And so this matter should be returned to the domain in which citizens and their legislatures are free to deliberate again on the question of how the taking of life here will be measured in their standing laws on homicide.
That reasoning is straightforward and simple. It is also strikingly different from sending the matter back to the states with these words of guidance:
The question of when human life begins, or what is to be regarded as a human life in any stage, has been a controversial matter, heatedly debated, eluding consensus, and inflaming our politics. The judges who form this Court have no clearer answer to those questions than the answers that may be supplied by the first nine names in any telephone directory. And as the locale shifts to cities and states, so too will the temper and “values” borne by those first nine names. We therefore send this matter back for people in the states to deliberate upon again—to make their own “value judgments” on when human life begins, and on when that developing life commands the obligation of the law to protect it.
Surely, these divergent approaches mark the most notable difference. The first approach invites the American people to deliberate seriously again on the question of what justifies the taking of an undeniably human life. The latter steers around any serious deliberation, for it is framed with the premise that there is no truth by which to gauge our judgments …
… The dictum “equal protection of the law” is built then into any rule of law, even if not made explicit. Some judges at the state level will construe the “equal protection of the laws” as a clear challenge to laws that place limits on abortion. For as the line will surely go: It is the most patent discrimination on the basis of sex to forbid this surgery, performed solely on women, and in certain cases desperately wanted by women.
We have seen the signs already that judges in the states will find this “right to abortion” to be implicit in their state constitutions. But the seed for a resistance may be planted if the Court sends the matter back to the states with this simple point recalled and put in place: The child in the womb has been nothing less than a human life from its first moments, and it has never been merely a part of its mother ….
I can only begin to imagine how the Blue Stack* would react to moral clarity, not procedural arcana, coming from the highest court in the land.
[* Zaid Jilani describes the "Blue Stack" thus: "The institutions successfully driving this push for ideological conformity across American life—progressive nonprofits, large portions of the news media, woke corporations, Democrats in government—can collectively be called the “blue stack,” which represents an enforcement mechanism for the ruling ideology to express hegemony over American democracy."]
The San Francisco precedent
As a matter of governance, Tuesday’s [San Francisco School Board] recall was an example of local citizens asserting local control.
As a matter of precedent, however, the recall had a greater meaning. It represented the triumph of reason over radicalism. It provided an example not of how the right can beat the left, but rather of how the left can regulate and reform the left—an example that can and should be emulated on the right.
Blue Collar and White? That Changes Everything
Damon Linker penetrates to at least a somewhat deeper meaning of the Canadian truckers’ convoy. (When protests aren’t progressive)
You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.