Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Lose the Fight Against ISIS

The image above may be the most egregious blunder the west has committed in the fight against the Islamic state. We can look forward to it being used in ISIS propaganda.

Today, protesters took the "draw Mohammad" day on the road, and gathered around a Mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. This in itself is not much to fret about. It's long past time for Islam as a religion to grow up and accept that all things, including and particularly religion, are subject to criticism.

Accusing the protest organizers of bigotry is not a sufficient response to this criticism. So it's not about that either.

But one need not be a pacifistic hippie peace activist to recognize the foolishness of gathering around a Mosque while brandishing weapons.

If ISIS were -- and they surely were -- hoping for the west to grant them some sense of legitimate grievance they could recruit off the back of, this is it. Among those Muslims to whom the idea of beheading someone for not being a Muslim, for for being the "wrong kind" of Muslim, ISIS needed no help recruiting. Among those legitimately fear genuine oppression in the west, who needed to be given a legitimate grievance in order to join up with ISIS, there could have been no greater boon than the sight of armed Americans surrounding an Arizona mosque.

If any ISIS sympathizers remained within that particular Mosque -- a Mosque that had been frequented by those responsible for the Garland, Texas shooting -- literally nothing could spur them to more radical action than the sight of armed men outside of their own Mosque.

Now, ISIS' call to "Jihad" can more easily be perceived as legitimate, or even justified. Islamic doctrine holds that Jihad may only be waged against "unbelievers" who fight against them, and in the way they fight against them.

Those are two very important boxes that would-be ISIS fighters, be them in Arizona, the United States, the west at large or even in the Middle East, can now check off. They can now refer to attacks on the west as "Jihad" with a closer semblance to legitimacy than ever before. The idea that Muslims in western lands are oppressed now has a very powerful propaganda image to back it up.

This was literally the worst blunder the protesters could have managed.

Protesters defended the presence of weapons at their protest by pointing out to ISIS calls for violence against the protesters. Fortunately, no ISIS fighters, actual or aspiring, turned up at the event. No shots were fired.

All this being said, it's not reasonable to pretend there was no threat of attack. It's not reasonable to suggest that protesters should not have taken steps to protect themselves against such attack. But there were better ways to do it than openly carrying semi-automatic rifles.

They could have done what Pamela Gellar did in Garland, TX and hired armed security to protect them. Failing that, they could at least have kept in mind that Arizona is a concealed carry state, and not carried weapons openly.

Of course that would have denied some of these neckbeards the thrill of playing soldier, patrolling a perimeter on US soil.

Certainly, ISIS propaganda could have still complained about weapons present, but those complaints are less potent without the image of them.

So these Arizona protesters may congratulate themselves for one thing: they handed ISIS a propaganda coup the likes of which they could only have imagined.

Good job, boneheads.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Joss Whedon Didn't Understand Social Justice Warriors

Joss Whedon must have thought himself very clever. Very clever, indeed.

See, Whedon was a man with a problem: most of the media properties he ever created or adapted had deeply conservative ideas at their core.

But he so desperately wanted to be one of who he thought the cool kids were. So he had to find a way to masquerade as a leftist. So first he made a video suggesting that electing Mitt Romney as President of the United States would result in a zombie apocalypse. (That there have been numerous violent outbreaks which roughly resemble the zombie apocalypse under Barack Obama simply reveals how insightful Whedon's leftist bleatings have been... not very.)

This wasn't enough. So Whedon decided to cozy up to who he -- with his epic lack of insight -- thought was the coolest kid of all: Anita Sarkeesian. He would masquerade as a feminist social justice warrior, even though nearly everything in nearly anything he ever produced was bound to disgust your average SJdub.

For a while, things were good. He helped Sarkeesian -- who despite having establishment feminists pushing her very hard down people's throats, is something of a nonentity within the media which she criticizes -- raise her profile. She at least seemed to be helping him evade criticism for the distinctly-non-social-justicey nature of his work.

Then Avengers Age of Ultron dropped, and Whedon began to receive harassment and threats over Twitter. But not from #Gamergate, who he liked to being like the KKK. Rather, it was all from the SJdub allies he had attempted to cultivate by associating with Sarkeesian.

This included Sarkeesian's producer and writer, Johathon McIntosh, whose attack on Age of Ultron contained eye-roll-inducing phrases such as "toxic hegemonic masculinity."

Somewhere Whedon is reading McIntosh's tweets and declaring "curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

Not-at-all-ironically, The Mary Sue -- a website typically obsessed with online harassment -- simply declined to recognize the virulent harassment of Whedon by radical feminists, who themselves did not understand the film.

(It was his own fault, really, Whedon had the gross misfortune to be born without a vagina, so of course TMS will ignore harassment of him by toxic radical feminists.)

The complaint of the toxic radical feminists in question was that the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen) described herself as a "monster" after explaining how she was sterilized as part of her assassin training. (The detail that she was sterilized so that having a family would never distract her from being a killing machine somehow managed to elude them.)

Some demanded to know who permitted Whedon to write the Widow character. I can only presume they would have preferred she remain fertile so she could go on to have, like, a hundred abortions.

It's not Whedon's fault that he was targeted for concentrated harassment by toxic radical feminists. That's the fault of those targeting him. But it is his fault that he deluded himself about his place in the grand scheme of what passes for toxic radical feminist "thought."

In future he'll know better.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Democracy Watch Has Jumped the Shark

So, this happened.

Democracy Watch has officially joined the political hysteria over government advertising.

I suspect that someone in the Auditor General's office is going to find their email-writing campaign a little confusing. They describe their letters as "calling on the Auditor General to audit Conservative ads, and on PM Harper to stop them."

That's rather amusing. The Auditor General has no power to investigate Conservative ads, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has no reason to stop them.

Then you read the rest of the page in question and discover that what they're actually complaining about is "the Harper Conservatives’ government advertising that is propaganda for the Conservative Party."


Now, I don't recall Democracy Watch complaining when the Liberal Party was in power and they spent $111 million on ads in a single year... this after the Liberal Party was caught red-handed stealing from one of its government own advertising programs, the sponsorship scandal.

One of the revelations from the Gomery Inquiry was that, aside from the blatantly-stolen monies, the sponsorship program was administered in such a way as to help Liberal Party candidates get elected in Quebec.

The problem was so bad that then-Finance Minister Ralph Goodale -- who learned so little from the sponsorship scandal that he simply refused to investigate the Income Trusts leak -- felt compelled to defend government advertising in this document.

That document contains the following statement:

"The government of Canada has a duty to tell its citizens about its initiatives, decisions and priorities. Government organizations advertise to inform Canadians and non-Canadians about their rights and responsibilities, government policies, programs, services and initiatives, or about dangers and risks to public health, safety or the environment."

The amusing thing is that Goodale wasn't wrong when he wrote this. But that was 2004. He and his party are wrong today when he objects to government advertising for this purpose, simply because it's no longer to their advantage.

With all the benefits the Economic Action Plan -- which is, by the way, a government program -- offers Canadians, it's unsurprising that the Liberal Party would prefer that Canadians not know about it. It undermines their entire "economic program" advertised to date.

So the Liberals are doing what the Liberals have always done: they're attempting to poison the well. It's a little strange that an allegedly pro-democracy group like Democracy Watch is working with them to try to undermine this vital link of information between the government of Canada and the citizens of Canada.

Unless, of course, Democracy Watch is no longer a pro-democracy group, and has simply become a partisan organization.

In other words, they've jumped the shark. As has the Liberal Party.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Real Rape Culture on Campus, Part Two

 If colleges and universities produce the next wave of a society's leaders, the next wave of toxic radfem's leaders are going to be an amazing ineffectual bunch.

Just how ineffectual are the next generation of toxic radical feminism's leaders going to be? Well, they're going to be so busy insisting that ideas that conflict with their own are "harming" them that they may find themselves far too busy to formulate, define, and defend their own ideas.

For a quick example of this, check out the toxic radfem backlash against a scheduled speech by Christina Hoff-Sommers at Oberlin College.

Apparently radical feminists on the Oberlin campus have taken the impending presence of Hoff-Sommers as some sort of existential threat. They're literally declaring that Hoff-Sommers being permitted to speak on the Oberlin campus is going to "harm" them.

What's Hoff-Sommers going to do that's so dangerous to radical feminists? She's going to give a factual discussion about rape on campus.

One thing has become clear, particularly in recent weeks: the factual foundation of the so-called campus rape epidemic was shaky from the get-go, and the facts of the matter demonstrate that, in fact, there is no such thing as a campus rape epidemic.

That's what seems to be so threatening to these ideologues. After all, they've made out like bandits under the shadow of the campus rape panic, and they intend to keep doing so, so much so that they've congealed into an online mob to try to shame or rhetorically-intimidate event organizers into not permitting Hoff-Sommers to set so much as a foot on campus.

The most sobering thing about it is that all of this is happening in the wake of the University of Virginia rape hoax -- a rape hoax in which toxic radfem transformed into a literally violent mob which may have succeeded not in bringing down a fraternity chapter falsely accused of rape, but Rolling Stone magazine.

These are people who apparently stopped to ponder nothing, question nothing, learn nothing.

This is the real rape culture on campus: an ideological movement that is not above using force and coercion to attain gratification -- as literal a definition of rape as there can be. The difference is that the real rape culture on campus, unlike the fictional (yes, fictional) rape culture on campus, is that the rape culture that is toxic radfem is non-sexual in nature.

But it's a rape culture no less. And unlike the fictional (I say again: yes, fictional) rape culture demanding unfettered access to women's bodies, the real rape culture demands unfettered and exclusive access to people's minds. Or else.

And so I say to the following people on Oberlin college campus -- to Lydia Smith, Sarah MacFadden, Juliana Feline, Stevie Anne, Madalyn Berg, and all the other proponents of the real rape culture on Oberlin College's campus -- no means no. And don't you forget it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Culture Fights Back Against Cultural Marxism

First it was My Little Pony. Now it's Degrassi. Social justice warriors are certain to not be amused.

The internet reached a fever pitch recently when the season 5 premier episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic -- a cartoon show ostensibly for girls, yet enjoyed by many men -- turned its guns on extreme social justice ideologies. In particular, Cultural Marxism.

In the episode, the main characters travel to a village where the residents have surrendered their "cutie marks" (emblems on their flanks representing their special talents and powers) in the name of friendship. The idea, the main characters are told, is that nobody -- or nopony as the show's lexicon seems to hold -- can maintain a friendship unless they're equal in all things. So in the places of their "cutie marks" they all sport an equal symbol.

The villagers -- who all live in bland identical minimalist houses -- aren't as happy as they try to seem. With each villager stripped of their special talents, pretty much everything in the village is mediocre. For one thing, the muffins are terrible.

Fans of Derpy Hooves will understand the significance. 

There's more afoot than there may seem. By the end of the episode it becomes clear that the episode's villain is really only out for herself. Her crusade against "cutie marks" and insistence that everyone be "equal" seems to be for the sake of gaining power for herself, nothing more.

I don't imagine that this episode will be very popular in daycares where children are forced to build identical LEGO houses so one child can build a better house than any other child.

So there's one blow up the gut of social justice warriors. Now, courtesy of Degrassi, comes another.
Batten down the hatchets, social justice warriors. It's not going to be smooth sailing from here on out.

Long a staple of Canadian television, it's hard to find a cultural property more socially progressive than Degrassi. It was among the first television programs to sympathetically tackle such subjects as HIV, disability, teen pregnancy, mental illness, homosexuality... far too many to name. All of this beginning in the 1980s.

Now the show is going to take a swipe at the concept of "safe spaces," -- the idea that social interactions must be strictly regulated in order to facilitate the comfort of specific groups -- and  not in a way that social justice warriors are going to enjoy. Judging from the above trailer, it doesn't look like the kids are down with this at all.

With a social justice ideologue holding the reins of power at their school as principle, it looks as if the kids are going to react quite poorly to the invasion of stifling, freedom-killing social justice ideology into their school. Some look like they're going to push back. Hard.

My Little Pony is incredibly popular among children. Degrassi's current home is on youth culture juggernaut MTV.

Social justice warriors have apparently managed to earn themselves some very powerful cultural adversaries.

Welcome to Degrassi, social justice warriors. Hope your Cultural Marxist ideologies (don't) survive the experience.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hillary Clinton & The Hipster Vote

Hipsters ruin everything.

I think this is more than just a truism, it's an indisputable fact. Right now western culture has become a wasteland of things that hipsters have ruined. What passes for rock music foremost amongst it.

So hipsters, with their insatiable taste for anything and everything ironic, could certainly manage to ruin the 2016 Presidential election.

Elect a woman President who, as Secretary of State, left an American Ambassador to die? What could explain any prospect of such a thing other than irony?

It's enough to lead a person to presume that hipsters suffer from a supreme lack of self-respect. It explains the glasses, really. But just how little self-respect do hipsters have? Enough to elect a Clinton President? Consider what hipsters have grown up "knowing" about the Clintons:
"Blister in the Sun." Violent Femmes. 2000.

Essentially, the music video for this song -- which was originally written in 1983, but re-recorded in 2000 for the film Grosse Pointe Blank, not Weekend at Bernie's 3 (sorry idiots of the internet) -- holds that Socks was essentially the brains of the Clinton family.

Yes, Socks. The Clinton family cat was the only member of the Clinton family worth assassinating.

That's what hipsters have grown up being taught about the Clintons by staples of hipster culture.

So do hipsters have the dearth of self-respect necessary to cast their ballot in favour of a woman who, in the eyes of their culture, paled in importance comparatively to an adopted stray cat?

It can't all be about the irony. If hipsters want to do something really ironic, they could always vote Rand Paul for President.

Just imagine how Gordon Gano would respond to that.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How Modernity Fell Out of Favour With "Social Justice"

In part one of this series, I explored the nature and the ongoing crisis of modernity. The crisis took the form of the conflict between camps referred to as the revolution (who preferred to rely upon empirical evidence) and the counter-revolution (who preferred to rely upon dogmas and doctrines).

The conflict could never be permanently resolved. Periodic detentes were achieved through a mediating force: Cartesian reason. But those detentes were few and far between. I refer to the ongoing process of attempting to mediate between the two Cartesian modernity.

Cartesian modernity was a successful enough project that for centuries it prevented Europe from completely destroying itself.

But as fate would have it, Cartesian modernity -- and with it, objective reason as its central mediating force -- would fall out of favour with powerful ideologues.

Why did this happen?

It happened when ideologues linked Renaissance-era modernity to imperialism and Eurocentrism. The world was quickly changing.  The old world, so to speak, was stumbling upon new ones, and discovering new ways to assert itself in others. As Hardt and Negri explain:

"The internal conflict of European modernity was also reflected simultaneously on a global scale as an external conflict. The development of Renaissance thought coincided both with the European discovery of the Americas and with the beginnings of European dominance over the rest of the world. Europe had discovered its outside. 'If the period of the Renaissance marks a qualitative break in the history of humanity,' writes Samir Amin, 'it is precisely because, from that time on, Europeans become conscious of the idea that the conquest of the world by their civilization is henceforth a possible objective ... From this moment on, and not before, Eurocentrism crystallizes.'"

European incursions into Asia, Africa and the Americas opened new fronts on which the philosophical adherents of the revolution and the counter-revolution could compete.

While the resources and the infrastructure of the revolution (universities, primarily) were immobile, the prime resources of the counter-revolution were not. The counter-revolution could send missionaries and militant forces into these lands and obtain relatively-instant gratification. Universities of the European standard didn't exactly sprout from the soil overnight.

But even as the counter-revolution gained an edge on these fronts, it appropriated reason, or at least what it could pass off as reason. In order to do this it had to appropriate many of the tools of the revolution.

The counter-revolution asserted that European domination over these lands was justified by the technological superiority and (what they deemed to be) intellectual superiority of European modernity.

So missionaries carried Bibles into the depths of Africa, Asia and the Americas. But instead of simply lecturing about Christianity, as European priests had with their flocks, missionaries taught their flocks how to read for themselves. In time, the Bible was even translated into those languages.

This was an under-appreciated lesson that the counter-revolution had taken away from the Renaissance. The refusal of the Catholic Church to permit the Bible to be translated into languages other than Latin -- which only the clergy spoke -- had opened a front within Christianity which turned far more ugly than perhaps anyone could have expected, with rivers of blood flowing.

This was just one way in which the counter-revolution appropriated the methods of the revolution. In short, the counter-revolution cloaked itself in the form of Cartesian modernity. And it was under this guise that it spread itself across the globe while the revolution remained rooted mostly in Europe.

It's with this in mind that perhaps it's easy for people such as Hardt and Negri to mistake the counter-revolution for Cartesian modernity itself. But make no mistake about it. For the counter-revolution, Cartesian Modernity very much was a problem. Even Hardt and Negri have it as such:

"On the one hand, Renaissance humanism initiated a revolutionary notion of human equality,of singularity and community, cooperation and multitude, that resonated with forces and desires extending horizontally across the globe,redoubled by the discovery of other populations and territories. On the other hand, however, the same counter-revolutionary power that sought to control the constituent and subversive forces within Europe also began to realize the possibility and necessity of subordinating other populations to European domination. Eurocentrism was born as a reaction to the potentiality of a new found human equality; it was the counter-revolution on a global scale."

Interestingly enough, this belief in "new found human equality" is the preserve of neither the revolution nor the counter-revolution. but rather the result of Cartesian reason.

Contrary to what one may be tempted to think, it wasn't a result of mediation of the two sides' views. In both revolution and counter-revolution can be found the seeds of Eurocentrism. For the counter-revolution, the lands into which Europeans had incurred were full of heathens, not yet uplifted by Christianity. For the revolution, (most of) these lands were filled with technologically- and scientifically-deficient peoples. In each case, the conclusion was that Europeans were superior,

A mediation between these views obviously does not produce a belief in the essential equality of humankind. Rather, this belief was a spontaneous product of Cartesian reason, but one that would require centuries before it would convincingly take hold.

The position of the counter-revolution was clearly rooted in subjective and self-serving thought. It could have been based on nothing else. But it's not difficult to look at the comparative states of these civilizations and see how one could presume the conclusion of European superiority was based on objective reason.

Speaking strictly for myself, I don't believe that presumption would fail the tests of virtue epistemics, particularly virtue reliabalism. It's my personal opinion that the locus of the conclusion of European superiority was as much, if more so, internal as it was external. In short: ego. It's not at all difficult to understand how someone may have made the comparison between the civilizations and simply wanted to conclude they were superior.

But the appropriation of Cartesian reason for the purpose of drawing this conclusion has, in the minds of many, linked it indivisibly to Eurocentrism and by extension to imperialism.

People who subscribe to social justice ideologies don't care for imperialism very much.

So they were confronted by the need for tools not tainted by Eurocentrism and imperialism. They stumbled upon a rather curious alternative: subjective reason. Thusly, postmodernity was born.

They found that subjective reason had advantages that objective reason did not. Objective reason required that one reason strictly according to empirical evidence -- material evidence which could be observed. But many of the arguments that the champions of postmodernity wished to make could not be made on the basis of empirical evidence, or at least not on empirical evidence alone.

To do this they would colonize the primary intellectual infrastructure of the revolution: the academy. And in doing so they would create entire new fields of study with loose evidentiary standards, and effectively non-existent tools of internal inquiry.