Monthly Archives: May 2021

Why political correctness fails

Copied from here: Why political correctness fails | The Week

 

The spike in anti-Semitic violence shows the limits of combatting bigotry with shaming

News that Jews are being attacked, both verbally and physically, on  the streets of American cities and around the world has sent me back to painful memories of  my own childhood. They are memories of bigotry, bullying, and abuse — along with  earnest efforts to combat the problem ever since.

Things have changed. But not as much as one might have hoped.

I’m Gen X, born in 1969. While growing up in southern Connecticut in the early 1980s, everyone I knew had a copy of a thin paperback book published by a division of Random House called Truly Tasteless Jokes. We’d keep it in our lockers or carry it around in our back pockets and whip it out on the fifth-grade playground during recess. The book, which sold millions of copies at the time, was divided into chapters: Jewish, WASP, Black, Hispanic, Polish, homosexual, handicapped, etc. It was a feast of stereotypes and prejudice. If you belonged to the group being mocked by one series of jokes read out loud by a peer, it was uncomfortable. But you knew that the reader would move on soon enough to another group, directing the animus elsewhere.

Fast forward a few years to high school — 9th or 10th grade. A boy from the American South who’d moved to our town a few years earlier brought a level of anti-Semitism with him that I’d never encountered. I was Jewish, but I didn’t talk about it much. I didn’t observe the sabbath, attend a synagogue or Hebrew school, or wear a yarmulke. Yet I was known as a Jew — one of a relatively small number in my high school. Which is probably why this kid decided at some point to make an example of me by yelling “Hebe!” in my face when he’d pass me in the hall. Soon a group of other kids in an overlapping circle of acquaintances took up calling me a kike.

This was nearly four decades ago. There was no official anti-bullying program at school, no school counselor on duty. The headmaster didn’t proclaim the school district was “No Place for Hate,” as the leadership of the public schools in my suburban Philadelphia neighborhood now does. It was simply understood that there were bullies out there in the world, and that it was terrible to be the target of abuse, but that this was life, and it would pass. There was nothing much to be done about it in any kind of systematic way. Boys would be boys and bigots would be bigots.

Was that an acceptable response? Probably not. I understand why well-meaning people reacted to searing experiences like mine by encouraging a new form of moral education in schools — an education that began in the late 1980s, got labeled “political correctness” by conservative critics during the early 1990s, slowly made its way through the culture over the intervening decades, and finally exploded into the “woke” revolution that began to roil workplaces during the mid-2010s and became much more pervasive after George Floyd’s murder a year ago.

The effects of this moral education can be seen all around us. It is impossible to imagine Truly Tasteless Jokes coming out from a major publishing house today, let alone it becoming a runaway bestseller that children read aloud in public. A student who hurled racist or anti-Semitic slurs at a peer would promptly be expelled from public school today, at least across wide swaths of the country. Instead of singling out members of various ethnic, racial, and religious groups for verbal and sometimes physical abuse, it’s the would-be abusers who are called out and criticized, their behavior (and the thoughts and assumptions behind the behavior) treated as shameful.

The ultimate goal of these changes has been the creation and perpetuation of a better world — one of greater equality and mutual respect, with less bigotry and cruelty.

Is this what we’ve gotten? Are we really that much closer to the goal of universal equality and respect than we were when I was in high school? In some respects, yes. It’s good that my own kids don’t carry around joke books ridiculing classmates and their families. I’m happy that (as far as I know) no one in their schools is yelling slurs in the faces of peers — and that if it happened, the student flinging the epithet would be punished.

But in other respects, we seem to be moving in the opposite direction, with movements explicitly opposed to political correctness on the rise at home and in countries around the world, and anti-Semitic attacks spreading like contagion. In response, those behind the project of moral reformation insist that efforts need to be redoubled — and that the backsliding must be blamed on a reluctance to shame the perpetrators even more aggressively. We simply need to do a better job of calling people bigots, of drawing lines and excommunicating larger numbers from the public square.

The solution to the failure of political correctness is more political correctness.
I submit this only makes sense if one assumes that the opposition we’re seeing is a function of certain people failing to get the point. Like an exterminator who falls short of eradicating an infestation and is called to return with a bigger dose of poison, or a teacher working to reach a classroom full of students struggling with learning disabilities, those leading workplace consciousness-raising sessions are doubling down on a message of moral condemnation. The presumption is that moral education is unidirectional: Teach them and they will be transformed. Discover that they haven’t learned their lessons and the solution is to teach them more of the same until they finally get it.

But there are, of course, other possibilities.

What if there are limits to how much guilt and blame people are willing to accept, especially when the transgression follows not from a specific act for which one might plausibly repent and be forgiven but from a “structure” of systemic oppression with which one is supposedly complicit simply by virtue of an inherited characteristic like skin color or gender? What if the insistence on pushing this approach is bound to trigger a defensive and resentful response that can manifest itself as anger directed at the very groups the reformers wish to help and defend?

Or what if human beings are tribal creatures who tend to divide people into groups, associating with and valorizing some, dissociating with and demonizing others? In that case, what we call bigotry might be much harder to drive out by moral education than we tend to assume, since new experiences and provocations can always reawaken it.

Think of Palestinians and those passionately committed to their cause associating Jews who have no direct connection to Israel with the actions of its government in Gaza and occupied areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank. When they act out with verbal and physical violence against Jews, it is recognized as anti-Semitic bigotry. But it’s the underlying, unjustified association — the lumping together of an American Jew walking down the street in Los Angeles with the Israeli government — that is the bigotry’s source. And yet woke activists regularly insist that white people everywhere are inherently guilty of moral transgressions against people of color simply by virtue of being white. How does that act of association differ from the one underlying pro-Palestinian violence against Jews around the world?

Or think of the way political correctness often simply changes which groups get valorized and which demonized. Back in my youth, mild-to-moderate levels of demonization among a wide range of groups was quite common, fueling the popularity of the Truly Tasteless Jokes book, which then encouraged the perpetuation of that demonization.

Today, that book would be considered beyond the pale. Yet demonization hasn’t been eliminated, even among the fully “woke.” Rather, it’s been redirected to others, with attacks aimed at individuals and groups presumed to be the perpetrators of moral crimes, including storied figures from the American past, white menwhite women.
The point isn’t at all to defend the bigotries of old or to denounce all of today’s attempts to bring about a better world. But it is to indicate that there may be limits to efforts at moral shaming — because human beings incline toward bigotry and the rendering of prejudicial judgments. Accepting this reality doesn’t mean we stop doing what we can to temper that tendency, and to mix it with as much reason and decency as we can. It just means we should do so fully aware of how intractable the task really is — and how prone it will be to generating the very backlash it seeks to avoid.

Copyright © Dennis Publishing Limited 2021. All rights reserved.

I will not be disappointed.

Friday  2015-03-27

Yesterday in shower I decided to think about things I’d like to have happen.  I settled on dreaming of having a cat: a black and white cat; playing with it, petting it, holding it, feeding it, cleaning up.

This vision has positive ramifications:  it implies I have my own apartment, and that implies I have a decent job.  My own place, my own food, my own clothes:  as far as material things are concerned, I want no more than that out of life.

Continue reading I will not be disappointed.

Guess Who’s Been Secretly Funding a Famous Climate Change–Denying Scientist?

Bookmarks:
Corrupt scienceQuestion for my followers and web-active peopleI can’t believe they did this.

Continue reading Guess Who’s Been Secretly Funding a Famous Climate Change–Denying Scientist?

Podcast – Switched

Taking pleasure in things that are bad for you.

Switched

Related:  Fareed Zakaria | The Homeless Blogger
Related: Your Body Doesn’t Lie: Amazon.com
Related: Sanpaku – Wikipedia

Music:  The Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun”

Script:

It’s the William Tell Show.  I call myself William Tell; you can call me Bill.  Thank you for including me in your world.  I hope today we’re all celebrating Liz Cheney’s keeping her leadership position in Congress.

I sat, smoking, on the kiosk outside the casino, at the intersection of Bayard and Russell Streets.  This couple pulled up in a gray SUV, and stopped to wait for the light.  They had both windows open, and they were both eating something.  Looked like ice cream sandwiches.  I said, “When they’re done, they’re going to throw that trash right out the windows.”  I wondered how I had taken such an instant dislike to them.  Maybe they had dark auras.  They had music playing, but it wasn’t loud enough for me to tell whether I liked it or not.

I said, “Maybe they’re switched.”

“Switched” refers to a state of taking pleasure in things that are bad for you.

The concept comes from a book by Dr. John Diamond entitled, Your Body Doesn’t Lie.  It made quite a splash when it was first published, in 1979.  I bought my copy in 2004.

Diamond sets forth a system to identify body movements and environmental influences that strengthen or weaken the body.  It’s not scientific, in that all the measurements depend on the subjective perceptions of the practitioner.  There’s no way to design double-blind experiments.

One of his first examples pertains to honey versus sugar.  He found that a teaspoon of honey will tend to strengthen a person, but a teaspoon of refined sugar will weaken the person.  This is, of course, completely in line with all the New Age, touchy-feely political correctness of the time.

He says that one should not wear or hold any piece of metal that crosses the body’s centerline; unless the metal piece extends all the way around one’s body.  So if you wear a necklace, for example, it’s important that it be metal all the way around.

He makes a distinction between what he calls “heterolateral motion” and “homolateral motion.”  Heterolateral motion is like normal walking:  the right arm and left foot both move the same way at the same time, and vice versa.  In homolateral motion, one may have both arms moving the same way at the same time, or the right arm and right leg moving the same way at the same time.  Obviously, one of these is more natural than the other, and he insists that heterolateral motion is healthier than homolateral motion.

So, some time later, when I decided to start lifting weights, I bought dumbbells instead of barbells.  With a barbell, you’ve got this — bar of metal — that you’re holding across the centerline of your body; and you also have homolateral motion going on.  With dumbbells, you have a separate weight in each hand, and you’ll normally alternate lifting between left and right arms.

Let’s take a break.

[Commercial break]

We’re back.

I will link to a blog post that included this passage.  Quote:

Diamond sets forth that the life force passes through the body along fourteen meridians.  If a person is deficient in the life force in a specific meridian, that weakness can be communicated to others.  By a psi dynamic known as “sympathy” (He does not mention this by name.), on encountering a needy person, the naive observer will seek unwittingly to supply the other’s need.  The result is that the observer becomes deficient also in the same meridian.

Such communication can occur in  person; via appearance, as in a photograph or motion picture; or by sound of voice, whether live, recorded, or broadcast on radio or TV.

End quote  For example, the book has a chapter about an imbalance of the eyes, called sanpaku.  Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln all had it.  I myself have it.  Diamond says that gazing at the eyes in the photo of such a person, will induce weakness in the viewer.

As to music, Diamond emphatically condemns what is called the “stopped anapestic beat.”  This is basically the rhythm pattern you find in The William Tell Overture, that opens every episode of my show; only, in rock, it’s a bit slower.  It’s everywhere in rock and roll; this is basically what makes rock, rock.

Diamond said he observed dancers in a nightclub.  When healthy music is playing, he said their body movements will be heterolateral.  When unhealthy music is playing, he said their body movements switch, becoming homolateral.

As I recall, he said that The Beatles are healthy, but The Rolling Stones are unhealthy.

I recall seeing reports that the stopped anapestic beat is the exact opposite of the normal rhythms of the nervous system, so that listening to this music introduces confusion into one’s neurology.  In researching that, this past week, all the references I find lead straight back to Diamond.  The claim was widely publicized, but he’s the only one who ever made it.  There is o corroborating research by others.

What does all this tell me, in terms of practical life from day to day?  I don’t have time to micro-manage my environment.  I can’t control what music they play in Royal Farms; I can’t preoccupy myself with avoiding eye contact with people who are sanpaku.  It is enough for me to gain my strength from choosing to love the people around me.

Obviously, today we want some healthy music.  I can’t think of anything healthier than “Here comes the sun,” by the Beatles.  So, that’s it.

Dogmatism vs. pragmatism

A post from a thread at Messiah Truth where we were discussing “Embracing what is.”

This morning as I waited outside for library to open, that remark about what they give us in chapel was still on my mind.

This is a tangent, and a stretch of the forum rules, so if this post isn’t released, I’ll understand.

“The Five Old Guys” present to us two, sometimes three times a month: the third Monday, fourth Wednesday, and fifth Wednesday, if there is one.  Some months ago, for the Scripture lesson, Bro. Wayne gave us a highly redacted version of Matthew 25:31ff.  I don’t believe this text comes from J., but it’s still one of the focal passages of the GT.

Continue reading Dogmatism vs. pragmatism