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Jeningrad

Lest we forget, here’s a catalogue of statements about Jenin from what is laughingly called the British quality press. The writer himself goes a bit over the top, though, when he says

this misreporting was an assault on the truth on a par with the New York Times’s Walter Duranty’s infamous cover-up of the man-made famine inflicted by Stalin on millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s.

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Bigotry and scapegoating in Indiana

What happens when a black woman got stabbed to death in a small Indiana town in 1968? Just what you’d expect:

For nearly 34 years the outside world assumed that the killer was from Martinsville, with its Ku Klux Klan past, and that the police had covered up for the murderer.

Martinsville, which according to the 2000 census has 11 blacks among its 11,698 residents, became a place, as James Patterson, a black columnist with The Indianapolis Star, wrote recently, “where black folks traveling on State Road 37 know better than to stop after dark.”

Turns out it was done by another out-of-towner. For some reason the New York Times doesn’t treat the antiracist scapegoating as much of an issue, even in the aftermath of the Fortuyn murder.

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Liberal neutrality

Is liberalism politically necessary, because there’s too little agreement on basics? That’s what is said. Any attempt to enforce non-liberal views, special recognition of a particular religion for example, would be hopelessly divisive and require unacceptable coercion. Religious establishments have been in decline for a long time, and serious attempts to re-impose them today soon run into terminal difficulties, as seems to be happening even in Iran. That’s the natural consequence of better education, more communication, and greater social diversity.

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Paradox of American traditionalism

Traditionalist conservatism has an air of paradox in America. It reinterprets or rejects things often identified as American in the name of understandings people find unfamiliar. After all, many would ask, haven’t Americans always idealized science, progress, material prosperity and individual success? Aren’t we a nation of immigrants from a variety of traditions? Isn’t it freedom, equality and democracy and not ancestral ways that unite us? And if all that’s true, isn’t traditionalist conservatism a denial of everything that makes us Americans?

The tradition to which American traditionalists appeal can thus seem something more imaginary or constructed than inherited. Nonetheless, in spite of all paradox their position must be accepted, because rejecting the principle of traditional authority leads to worse difficulties. Tradition is necessary to human life. Human life is not only instinctual, it is also cultural. Culture exists only through tradition, however, and without it—without the habits, attitudes and beliefs that define particular ways of life—coherent thought and action would be impossible.

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Paradox of American traditionalism

Traditionalist conservatism has an air of paradox in America. It reinterprets or rejects things often identified as American in the name of understandings people find unfamiliar. After all, many would ask, haven’t Americans always idealized science, progress, material prosperity and individual success? Aren’t we a nation of immigrants from a variety of traditions? Isn’t it freedom, equality and democracy and not ancestral ways that unite us? And if all that’s true, isn’t traditionalist conservatism a denial of everything that makes us Americans?

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In our diversity is our strength

This whole diversity thing doesn’t seem to be working: school in uproar after girl (apparently) uses N word in conversation with friends.

The schools are crazy about more than race, of course. Consider zero-tolerance policies in general. But how can you have common sense, which is a matter of customary understandings, if you reject all such understandings, which is what “diversity” does?

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What is traditionalism?

A traditionalist is someone who accepts tradition as authoritative.

That’s not someone who believes that tradition is a good source of suggestions or an acceptable guide when no better can be had. Nor is it someone who thinks that all traditions must always be followed. It’s someone who recognizes that tradition knows more than any of us, and should be followed unless there are very good reasons to the contrary. Rejecting tradition is like a novice rejecting the advice of a master. It might be a good idea, and on occasion it might even be necessary, but it’s not something to be done lightly, especially in important matters. When you do it you’re usually wrong.

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More liberal tolerance

Tolerance triumphs everywhere, to the point that I’m afraid of boring any remaining readers if I keep on mentioning it: Stanford rejects a football coach because they don’t like his views on homosexuality, student told to support gay rights or get an “F”, and school district sued for forcing gay propaganda

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Mainstream conservatives

The basic problem of American conservatism is that it appeals to tradition while refusing to accept anything but liberty, equality and universal reason as authoritative.

The refusal is of course more apparent than real, since conservatives define themselves as such by their resistance to the logical implications of liberty and equality. Nonetheless, the unwillingness or inability of American conservatives to say what their real principles are cripples them in dealing with challenges and accounts for their inability to maintain any contested position for long.

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More liberal tolerance

Tolerance triumphs everywhere, to the point that I’m afraid of boring any remaining readers if I keep on mentioning it: Stanford rejects a football coach because they don’t like his views on homosexuality, student told to support gay rights or get an “F”, and

school district sued for forcing gay propaganda.

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Jasay’s The State online

Now online: Anthony de Jasay’s The State, one of the best libertarian books. “What would you do if you were the state?”

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Nitty gritty

It’s good bad language is being so vigorously suppressed in England: “Minister prompts race row over ‘nitty gritty’ ”.

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Another dialogue on homosexuality

Back to homosexuality! Another possible dialogue:

Alter: So what’s your problem with gays?

Ego: “Gay” covers a variety of situations.

I have something of a problem with someone habitually engaging in homosexual acts. I have more of a problem if he claims that engaging in homosexual acts is basic to what he is. And if he expects public acceptance of what he does I have a big problem.

Alter: But why should you care at all what someone does sexually?

Topics: 
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The Fortuyn case and liberal contradictions

I suppose the point should be made explicitly—the contradiction between “tolerance” and “multiculturalism” in the Fortuyn case illustrates a genuine insoluble contradiction within liberalism. There’s no “true liberalism” that can resolve it.

Both tolerance and multiculturalism say that one system of habit and attitude is as good as another. What happens though when two systems, say Islam and flamboyant homosexuality, conflict? Tolerance says that the tolerant system—the one that doesn’t care about what other people do—wins. So in tolerant Holland, homosexuality wins because those who wish can abstain, and Islam loses because it insists its standards apply even to those who reject it.

But what is tolerant about insistence on indifference to what other people do as a moral principle? If Dutch tolerance insists that Islam—a system of life that has satisfied hundreds of millions for centuries—transform itself for the benefit of a few homosexuals, how can it call itself tolerant? It’s not, in any ultimate sense. As Fortuyn suggested, Dutch tolerance is only the demand of a particular culture that (like Islamic culture) insists that those who live under its rule toe whatever lines it draws.

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America as ill-founded

If America was not well founded, what then? Not that it is a bad country, or an unworthy object of loyalty, or that an American should not look upon its history as his own. A country has to be mostly good to exist at all, and if it has problems we owe it the concern we owe a family with problems.

What it means is that there is a serious flaw in the organization of its national life. Our first duty is to recognize the flaw, our second to do what we can about it. Recognizing a problem in the Founding does change our attitude toward the men and principles traditionally taken as authoritative in our national life. We can still view Washington, Jefferson, Madison and the others as admirable men who made a permanent contribution to American and world politics. We simply can’t view them and what they did as final authority. We must see their limitations.

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Fortuyn lives on …

So Fortuyn’s party is gaining, and even suing other politicians under Holland’s hate-crime laws for inciting his assassination, tra-la! Meanwhile, it appears that in addition to his other oddities he was openly pro-pedophilia, not that it mattered to anyone of consequence over there.

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Dialogue on “homophobia”

Back to homosexuality! Another possible dialogue:

Alter: So what’s your problem with gays?

Ego: “Gay” covers a variety of situations.

I have something of a problem with someone habitually engaging in homosexual acts. I have more of a problem if he claims that engaging in homosexual acts is basic to what he is. And if he expects public acceptance of what he does I have a big problem.

Alter: But why should you care at all what someone does sexually?

Ego: Sex is basic to our emotional life and our relationships to others. Why shouldn’t someone’s relation to sex affect how I feel about him? Also, we’re social, so we care what other people are like.

Suppose it were racism or pedophilia instead of homosexuality. Would you feel a little queasy if someone were a racist pedophile? If he thought that was central to what he is? If he proclaimed it openly and demanded that others accept it?

Alter: You can’t be serious. Racism and pedophilia are sick, and they hurt people. Homosexuality is just an orientation, no sicker than any other, and it hurts no-one.

Ego: There are people who say the same about racism and pedophilia. They’re just orientations, after all, and whether they’re sick or hurt people depends on how they fit into the general scheme of human life.

Racism by itself doesn’t affect anyone other than the racist. Someone might use the N word or be obsessed with Nazi memorabilia and never hurt anybody. There are reputable scholars who claim pedophilia can be good for you. And there was a recent play, The Vagina Monologues, that showed the statutory rape of a 13 year old girl as a good thing, and everyone thought it was great.

Alter: So how does homosexulity hurt the “general scheme of human life,” as you call it?

Ego: Basically, it’s radical rejection of the whole system of habit and feeling that defines what men and women are and what their relations should be. That system is necessary for life in society to be tolerable. It follows that to reject it is wrong, and we should respond to it as we respond to something wrong. Read my questions and answers on sexual morality if you want a more extended argument.

Alter: I think you’re sick.

Ego: Fine, you feel about homophobia the way I feel about homosexuality. Who has the right attitude depends on who has the better understanding of human nature and society. Most people and most serious thinkers have agreed with me. If you respect other people you’ll consider our arguments seriously. That’s all I ask.

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Was America well-founded?

How did we get where we are in America today? Was it in the cards from the beginning? Right-wingers sometimes argue about whether America was well-founded. It’s very awkward of course if it wasn’t, but the question must be considered soberly.

The strongest argument that it was not is that the supreme political power the Founders established was based on contract, with no real appeal to any law higher than human purposes. The problem with putting the federal government on that basis that is that whatever principle is authoritative in the highest political community eventually becomes authoritative in all things. The highest community has ultimate responsibility for ensuring peace and so must be able to demand a loyalty that overrides all others. Concretely, it runs the army and must be able to insist that men die for it. To do so it must claim that the principle it stands for is the highest principle.

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More on the Dutch tolerance Nazis

The Dutch tolerance Nazis strike again. And again. And again.

A friend refers me to this compilation of non-discrimination legislation in the Netherlands. As the law is written, it appears that you can get jugged for six months for sending someone almost any serious work on man, God or the world as a birthday present because you think it’s a great book. (The present was unsolicited, you didn’t send it simply to give factual information, and it’s likely to contain statements “offensive to a group of persons on the grounds of their race, religion, or personal beliefs, or their hetero- or homosexual orientation.”)

Also note that “discrimination” includes any form of distinction that may lead to the result that the exercise on an equal basis of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any area of social life is harmed. It’s hard to think of any form of different treatment that wouldn’t constitute discrimination under this standard. So if you say publicly that men and women, boys and girls, heterosexuality and homosexuality, should be differently treated in any way at all then you’re apparently inciting discrimination and can get jailed for a year.

This is totalitarian. How come no-one says so?

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Internet and community

Who will the cultural winners be in the age of the Internet?

It seems to undermine centralization, so it may make “social justice” less of a threat. On the other hand, it puts everybody and everything in immediate touch and so puts everything somewhat on a par, with exchange (that is, money) and arbitrary choice the organizing principles.

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