A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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With another Fast & Furious car movie coming out, I have finally thought of something to say about the franchise’s co-star Paul Walker, who died (pretty awesomely) in 2013 when his agent crashed a brand new Porsche at 100 mph with Walker in the passenger seat.

That got me thinking: Do movie stars tend to turn into their greatest roles in real life? If so, is it nature or nurture manifesting itself?

For example, was Walker an intense car guy before the Fast & Furious movies? Or was he cast because he looks kind of like the greatest car guy movie star, Steve McQueen? (Walker looked like a nice guy version of McQueen, while Daniel Craig looks like a mean guy version of McQueen.) Audiences seem to assume that blue-eyed men are cooler under pressure, while dark-eyed men are more emotional.

Did Walker become a real life car guy due to his movie career? Or was he always a car guy on the inside?

The notion that actors sometime turn into their greatest roles comes up in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, in which a down and out Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) is living as much like a sinister Old World count as as is possible in the 1950s in a 2 bedroom bungalow in North Hollywood.

Or Robert Downey Jr., long a Hollywood byword for self-defeating inability to seize opportunities, has turned himself into a wildly successful plutocrat ever since being cast as wildly successful plutocrat Tony Stark in Iron Man.

More disturbingly, Randy Quaid, once a popular character actor with a distinguished body of work and a wide range of friends, has become in real life the conspiracy theory loon he played in Independence Day.

(This doesn’t always happen. For example, Jeff Goldblum got typecast as a scientist, but I don’t see much evidence that he has developed much interest in science. Meanwhile, Alan Alda has, to my surprise, turned himself into the public spirited advocate of science education that my theory would have predicted for Goldblum’s later years.)

So, is this a treatment effect: fans want you to roar around in Porsches so you roar around in Porsches because it makes them happy? Or is it a selection effect: the reason fans loved you in this role is because they recognized, even if you hadn’t realized it before then, that this is what you were born to do?

Screenshot 2015-04-01 20.26.08

From the New York Times

Recently, the most important thing in the world, besides strategically crucial Yemen and whether or not somebody who is 1/4th Jewish is allowed to tweet Jewish jokes, is whether wedding photographers and cake bakers in Indiana can be permitted to decline to work gay marriages for religious reasons. Speaking for his fellow members of the marginalized and oppressed everywhere, Apple CEO Tim Cook demanded that the full weight of the state be brought down upon any self-employed individuals in flyover states who pick up some extra money working weekends in June if they dare admit they are uncomfortable servicing gay weddings. Walmart has now also joined the coalition of the powerless to whip those hater small business people into line with the New Order. How dare anyone not maximize profits?


The LAPD just let me back in my house after the cops evacuated my street for four hours. Apparently, today was the day a neighbor down the block, a make-up artist for the entertainment biz, was getting evicted in a foreclosure. But he taped a note to his front door saying he’d rigged his house to blow up if he were kicked out.

That brought a whole bunch of police vehicles in a hurry. The cops cuffed him and took him away. Everybody living within 300 feet had to evacuate. The bomb squad went in and found four gasoline cans and a propane tank evidently rigged up to look like an improvised explosive device. (Afterwards, I saw the five containers out on the lawn where the detectives were doing chemical tests on the liquid contents for evidence, but I didn’t see any wiring at this point.) The cops told me the contraption turned out to be “fictitious,” but they didn’t find it a funny April Fools’ joke at all.

Cop: “What kind of neighbor was he?”

Me [Noncommittally]: “Oh, he was … okay.”

Cop: “Well, you won’t be seeing him again.”


Like I’ve been saying, the big trend of 2015, following the anti-Semitic massacres by Muslims in Europe, is that the group that dominates the contemporary mindset, ethnocentric liberal Jews, are starting to feel the pressure on the obvious logical contradictions between their sensible is-it-good-for-the-Jews ethnocentrism and their public avowals of diversity uber alles.

Today in The New Republic, there’s an article by Phoebe Maltz Bovy that is both tendentious and insightful about the Crisis of the Moment: comedy.

Anti-Jewish Jokes Don’t Get a Pass Anymore
Trevor Noah and Lena Dunham learned that lesson the hard way
By Phoebe Maltz Bovy @tweetertation

Trevor Noah

Just as the furor over Lena Dunham’s “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend?” jokes was winding down, a new controversy over Jewish jokes has begun. Trevor Noah, the newly announced replacement for “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart turns out to have tweeted some not nice things about various groups, Jews among them:

Trevor Noah ✔ @Trevornoah
Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel

The background behind Noah’s amusing #BeatsByDreidel hashtag is that NWA rapper Dr. Dre and record executive Jimmy Iovine sold their Beats by Dre headphones company to Apple, with Iovine getting the larger share of the loot. The factual problem with what Noah tweeted, however, is that I can’t find any evidence that Iovine is anything other than Italian Catholic. But, hey, it’s a tweet, not a monograph. On the other hand, it’s “controversial” not because it’s factually mistaken, but because everybody knows that, even without Iovine, Jewish music executives played an outsized role in the gangsta rap that persuaded so many impressionable young black idiots to become crack dealers. If Iovine were actually Jewish, Noah’s joke wouldn’t be better, it would be worse.

Trevor Noah ✔ @Trevornoah
Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!

Jewish comedians have been joking about their people’s mania for expensive German cars at least since the 1970s when, in my recollection, the Mercedes-Benz 450 SL convertible was the pre-eminent car in Beverly Hills. But how Jewish is Trevor Noah? Is he ethnically privileged enough to joke about Jews and German cars or not?

Whether the newly (and not so newly) uncovered tweets lean more sexist than anti-Semitic is an open question, though these are not mutually exclusive categories. Did you hear the one about how Jewish women won’t perform oral sex?

Trevor Noah ✔ @Trevornoah
Messi gets the ball and the real players try foul him, but Messi doesn’t go down easy, just like jewish chicks. #ElClasico

Noah’s joke here is that soccer legend Lionel Messi doesn’t flop as much as other players, who fall down a lot hoping to draw the ref’s whistle. Messi is admired for preferring to stay on his feet despite defensive contact and just keep playing. Why comparing Jewish women’s apparent respect for their virtue to the world’s greatest soccer player’s respect for competition rather than for fakery is supposed to be anti-Semitic is unexplained. But that’s not the point, the point is that you aren’t supposed to joke about Jews if you aren’t officially Jewish.

What surprised me wasn’t that a comedian had made anti-Jewish jokes. It was that it’s become common for Jews—and non-Jews—to express outrage over them.

In my response to the latest Dunhamgate, I connected the response to her New Yorker [set of jokes] to a growing sense that anti-Semitism is on the rise. Jeffrey Salkin had a similar take:

The heyday of Jewish comedians coincided with a sense that the Jews had, in fact, arrived. Jews felt safe. But this new wave of anti-Semitism has left Jewish nerves raw and frayed. Call us tribal, if you want—but there is something unnerving about seeing all of those silly Jewish stereotypes on display in the venerable pages of The New Yorker.

There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when Jewish humor mocked the older generation’s preoccupation with anti-Semitism. In a 1996 “Seinfeld” episode, Jerry’s Uncle Leo believes everyone who’s ever slighted him, including a chef who’s overcooked his burger, is an anti-Semite. It could, at that time, be presented as hilarious and anachronistic that a Jew would see anti-Semitism as a genuine threat. But that was nearly 20 years before Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent article in The Atlantic about the new anti-Semitism. The burden of proof now falls on those wishing to demonstrate that anti-Semitism isn’t a big deal.

But how exactly does one call out casual anti-Semitism in comedy? It can be tough to sort out, in part because it’s often unclear—even to a Jewish audience attuned to such things—if the joke-teller is Jewish. Lena Dunham’s half-Jewish heritage was not immediately obvious to all; that Noah is a quarter Jewish has gone largely unnoticed. Because Jews are only a quasi-visible minority, if that, it’s largely at the artist’s discretion if she is going to self-present as a Jewish performer. Humor that might not seem offensive coming from one comedian of Jewish background might seem so from another—especially if that comedian is a mixed-race South African.

It’s not clear, however, that if Noah pointed out more often that he has a Jewish grandparent that it would be okay for him to make the occasional Jewish joke. Commenter Justin suggested on iSteve:

Seems like as the number of mischlings increases, the full-Jews feel the need to crack down on them, so gentiles don’t get the idea that Jews are fair game for comedy.

As of 2015, there are a lot of Americans who are part-Jewish. It might make pragmatic sense for part-Jews to make use of privileges afforded to self-identifying Jews, such as free Birthright vacations in Israel on Sheldon Adelson’s dime.

But perhaps the great conflict of the future will be between full Jews and part Jews?

Phoebe Maltz Bovy continues:

And what to make of questionable jokes written by Jewish writers but spoken by non-Jewish TV characters? In one “Modern Family” scene, Manny is selling Christmas wrapping paper door-to-door. “Do you love Christmas?” he asks a woman. She tells him she’s Jewish, so Manny—a prepubescent Latino—responds, “Well, then, you must appreciate a good value!” And yet, the show’s co-creator is Jewish. Or consider a recent episode of “The Mindy Project,” in which Mindy Lahiri tells her boyfriend that she wants to raise their kid Jewish, even though neither of them are, “so he can get ahead in life.” Was this not offensive to the many Jews apparently in the writers’ room?

You know, when professional comedy writers feel offended by a joke, they usually try to channel their resentment into topping the other guy’s joke with something even funnier rather than into insisting the other guy shut up and submit. They’re more like Tom Brady v. Peyton Manning than Social Media Justice Warriors v. Jason Richwine or Brendan Eich.

Neither episode caused much of a stir—certainly nothing like the Dunham and Noah flaps—but perhaps they should have, regardless of the background of the writers rehashing these tired stereotypes.

“Tired stereotypes” = obvious stochastic reality.

And who—apart from Jews and their most committed allies, that is—is even going to wonder whether a show’s writers are Jewish? Anti-Semites! And they’re hardly going to object to Jews-and-money humor.

In America, the 97% of the population who aren’t either Jews or anti-Semites are pretty much intellectually disarmed by crimestop. It’s fascinating to try to list members of the 97% who kept their wits when it comes to thinking about Jewish influence in America. Off the top of my head, I can think of the obvious examples of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Richard Nixon who together in 1969 conjured up neoconservatism by deliberately exploiting the Jewish ethnocentrism revivified by the 1967 Six-Day-War to get more Jewish intellectuals to support America in the Cold War. But in the last 45 years, I can only come up with a handful of names of gentiles who haven’t been intimidated: John Updike (for his good-natured series about the Jewish novelist Bech), and …

That fact that we’re having this debate indicates that anti-Jewish humor no longer gets a pass, that it’s not hypersensitive or paranoid of Jews to complain about anti-Semitism. This, combined with a broader culture of calling out insensitivity online, has made Jews more comfortable speaking out about things that some of us had been noticing all along. There’s a parallel to Dreyfus-era France here; indeed, it’s a pattern in Jewish history.

The difference from Dreyfus-era France, however, is that the people who turned out to be wrong in the Dreyfus case then were stripped of power by the 1905 legislation. In contrast, whenever some SJW case comes a cropper in a formal process of justice, as with Ellen Pao and Haven Monahan last week, we get lectured on how the important thing is that the sins of straight white cisgendered males were exposed.

More generally, comedy is much like sports in that both are important elements of why life is better today than during, say, the Dark Ages. Our natural hostilities and aggressions have found largely non-lethal outlets in sports and comedy.

While every culture tries to control internecine violence, often by trying to lessen animus toward others, Jewish culture found an interesting alternative, as implied by Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine in his award-winning 2004 book The Jewish Century. Instead of trying, like Christianity to get people to act nicer toward the rest of the world, rabbinical Jews accepted disarmament, preventing feelings of hostility from being terribly fatal within the community. And resentment, such as of Jewish women toward Jewish men, is routed outside of the Jewish community to maintain ethnic unity, thus creating, for example, contemporary feminism.

Moreover, it’s better for everybody to sublimate anger into verbal aggression, especially in the form of humor.

Comedy has thus been an important avenue of the rise to dominance of Jews, rather like how the Victorian Anglo-Saxon genius for sports has reshaped the world in ways favorable to the English-speaking nations.

But what if the gentiles get good at comedy, too? Or, if you believe that gentiles are genetically unable to be funny, what about the proliferating numbers of only vaguely Jewish like this guy Noah?

While Obama is half black and half shy WASP, maybe somebody in the future will come along who is both part black, and thus a member of moral aristocracy of the world, as propounded in the media for generations by liberal ethnocentric Jews as a motte and bailey strategy, and part Jewish, and thus without the debilitating “Goyishe kop,” and really shake things up. Poor Trevor Noah may have unwittingly walked into embodying the greatest fear of ethnocentric liberal Jews: somebody who is both black and Jewish genetically, but isn’t obviously either loyal or frightened.

Is the important thing to compete, rather like how the British are now pretty hapless at winning world championships in the sports they invented?

Or is the important thing to win?

The funny Jews have had a good long run, but the unfunny Jews are now getting extremely concerned that things are getting out of hand, and that the future lies with Speaking Power to Truth.


From the Washington Post:

How Trevor Noah can save his tenure at ‘The Daily Show’ before it starts

By Alyssa Rosenberg, March 31 at 1:47 PM

Trevor Noah

Just a day after Trevor Noah was welcomed by some as an exciting new choice to host “The Daily Show,” the South African comedian, who is little-known in the United States, has come in for criticism as writers and fans have begun to pore over his body of work. The biggest target has been the archives of Noah’s Twitter feed, where he tried out material that targeted Jewish women, heavier women, Jews and Israel.

Not that Alyssa Rosenberg takes personally the topics of Jewish women, heavier women, Jews or Israel.

What connects the tweets that have landed Noah in hot water is less that they represent political offenses of the same magnitude than that they’re all embarrassingly awful jokes.

Alyssa Rosenberg and Michael C. Moynihan

This seems to be the emerging party line: We’re not against funny jokes, but these were unfunny jokes.

But, first, this part-black, part-Jewish, part-white gentile guy from South Africa — whom I had never heard of until yesterday — has apparently sent out thousands of tweets. I would suspect that most of them aren’t as good as the material he hones for shows he gets paid for. Tweets are usually worth about as much as you paid for them. For example, here are four consecutive tweets that Ms. Rosenberg saw fit to share with the world yesterday:

Ms. Rosenberg and Jamelle Bouie

Alyssa Rosenberg @AlyssaRosenberg · Mar 30
Culture is hard to submit to the rules of politics for the same reasons it has great power: it’s protean and unpredictable and we respect it

Alyssa Rosenberg @AlyssaRosenberg · Mar 30
We want more positive depictions of women, but we don’t want to prevent depictions of violence that are powerful commentary.

Ms. Rosenberg and Asawin Suebsaeng

Alyssa Rosenberg @AlyssaRosenberg · Mar 30
We want diversity, but we don’t want quotas because we don’t want to interfere with the creative process.

Alyssa Rosenberg @AlyssaRosenberg · Mar 30
.@Glenn__Kenny gets at something tricky about left critiques of culture: folks want things to change, but are hesitant to organize to do so.

Okay …

But let’s look at why Rosenberg feels Noah’s handful of notorious tweets are “embarrassingly awful jokes” — not because they are inept, but because they make fun of types of people she feels shouldn’t be made fun of, such as herself.

Back to Rosenberg at the Washington Post.

Mr. and Mrs. Apatow

Riffs about fat chicks are the stuff of schoolyards. Even Judd Apatow movies stick with implied shiksa humor rather than jokes about Jewish women.

Kind of like how Judd personally sticks with shiksas rather than with Jewish women.

In other words, Ms. Rosenberg says jokes about shiksas (a hostile ethnic epithet, by the way) are okay, but jokes about Jewish women are NOT.

By the way, it’s not surprising that Apatow’s gentile actress wife Leslie Mann looks great in this photo at some American Film Institute shindig, but notice how great Apatow looks, too. If Jewish women got to hold an NBA-style draft for Jewish husbands, Apatow would have been a lottery pick. The resentment Jewish women feel over this pattern of the top Jewish men marrying shiksas is one of the main drivers of many of the current manias, but you aren’t supposed to talk about that.

And at least one of Noah’s jokes about Jews and Israel — a tweet about almost accidentally hitting a Jewish kid while driving a German car — seems more like a Justine Sacco-style inept joke about anti-Semitism than an actual biased quip. (The others show even less sophistication.)

It’s rare to see an incident that unites so many constituencies in shared ire. …

No, actually, it’s depressingly common.

Ms. Rosenberg and some guy who isn’t Judd Apatow

The tweets rely on the idea that simply invoking “fat chicks” or Jewish influence is funny. …

Fortunately, out of the goodness of her heart, Ms. Rosenberg has a plan for how Noah can save his career by making it up to fat people, women, and Jews.

It’s worth remembering that the last time “The Daily Show” was the object of this much criticism, it was back in 2010 when Irin Carmon shined a spotlight on the franchise’s difficult history with female correspondents and women writers. …

At some point, he’ll have to answer to critics of those tweets and explain how he has grown as both a comedian and as the progressive political thinker he claims to be. When he does, he should pair that narrative with real action, explaining what kind of writers and correspondents he wants to surround himself with and what he hopes to learn from them. If Noah’s big selling point is that he offers a fresh perspective to the audience for “The Daily Show,” then he should demonstrate that he values the same thing in his own staff.

Hiring more women and people of color on “The Daily Show” probably won’t satisfy everyone who’s angry at Noah today and who is hitching up the bar he’ll have to clear to be a success at his new job. But more than taking back some lame jokes, it would be a substantive step toward making “The Daily Show” embody its own values.

Alyssa Rosenberg blogs about pop culture for The Washington Post’s Opinions section.

An especially underrepresented group in the media from whom Noah should definitely hire to write for The Daily Show is women of Jewishness, such as, to take a random example, Alyssa Rosenberg, who blogs about pop culture for The Washington Post’s Opinions section.


By the way, commenter Cattle Guard suggests this bumper sticker for Ms. Rosenberg.


From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard political scientist most famous for his 1995 article “Bowling Alone” about the decline of social capital, is the liberal Charles Murray.

Putnam has long benefited from being the slightly dull but ideologically respectable alternative to Murray. It helped Putnam’s career that his “Bowling Alone” article came out the year after The Bell Curve. Although less interesting or impressive than Herrnstein and Murray’s magnum opus, it was popular with Clintonian moderate liberals because it was a sort of Bell Curve Lite: a tiny bit politically incorrect, but careful not to push the envelope of acceptability too hard.

Just as Murray’s 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 was inspired by his fond look back at growing up in the culturally egalitarian small town of Newton, Iowa, Putnam’s new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, was inspired by the 50th reunion in 2009 of Putnam’s high school classmates in the little Lake Erie city of Port Clinton, Ohio.

Of course, the way you get to be the Liberal Charles Murray is not to mention Murray’s name in your latest book, despite how relevant Murray’s Coming Apart is to Putnam’s Our Kids. In fact, Our Kids would be more readable if it were pitched as a direct response to Coming Apart.

Putnam is notoriously torn between his decent skills as a quantitative social scientist and his desire to avoid trouble with anti-science progressives who vehemently denounced Murray for co-authoring The Bell Curve. In a comic 2006 episode, Putnam admitted to Financial Times columnist John Lloyd that he had socked away for a half decade the results of his huge survey of American communities while he tried to figure out how to spin its finding that ethnic diversity was disastrous.

Read the whole thing there.


Being a fact is what makes it racist. That the designated next host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, doesn’t get that cornerstone of political correctness troubles a lot of nice white liberals, no matter how many Pokemon points being born in Soweto gets him.

From the New York Times:

Comedy Central Stands Behind Trevor Noah, New ‘Daily Show’ Host, Amid Scrutiny


Within hours of the announcement that he had been named the new host of “The Daily Show,” the comedian Trevor Noah was subjected to the full scrutiny of the Internet. As potential audience members scoured his past work and social media presence for more clues to Mr. Noah, a South African comedian, they uncovered many posts on his Twitter account that they deemed offensive to women or Jews.

Comedy Central announced on Monday that Mr. Noah, 31, would succeed Jon Stewart as anchor of “The Daily Show,” its satirical late-night news program, when Mr. Stewart steps down this year. Though Mr. Noah has performed stand-up comedy around the world, he is not widely known in the United States, and he had appeared as an on-air contributor to “The Daily Show” only three times before being named as host.

On Twitter, where he has had an account since 2009 and accumulated more than two million followers, Mr. Noah often posts irreverent statements that reflect his interests in popular culture, global politics and issues of race. As with many comedians, Mr. Noah’s jokes can test the boundaries of what is socially permissible and what is in bad taste.

In several posts, Mr. Noah came across as mocking or derisive of women. In one from 2011, he writes: “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” a quote that he attributes to “fat chicks everywhere.”

In a post from last year, he quotes another Twitter user who writes, “When a woman is loved correctly, she becomes 10 times the woman she was before,” to which Mr. Noah adds: “So she gets fat?”

Mr. Noah has also posted jokes about Jews and about Israel. As he wrote in 2009, “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!”

A post from 2010 reads, “South Africans know how to recycle like israel knows how to be peaceful.”

Reacting to some of Mr. Noah’s jokes in a post for The Daily Caller, a news and opinion website based in Washington, Jamie Weinstein, a senior editor, wrote that this tweet “does seem to suggest that Noah believes Israel is an inherently belligerent country.”

Mr. Weinstein wrote that this was a potentially dangerous attitude for a new host of “The Daily Show,” adding: “Many young people don’t watch ‘The Daily Show’ just to laugh — they watch the show to get their news. The show shapes perceptions.”

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that he wished Mr. Noah well in his new position at “The Daily Show,” but cautioned him against perpetuating stereotypes. …

Mr. Foxman added: “We hope he will not cross the line from legitimate satire into offensiveness with jokes calling up anti-Semitic stereotypes and misogyny. And we hope that he and Comedy Central will make a conscious effort to ensure that ‘The Daily Show’ remains funny and irreverent without trafficking in bigoted jokes at the expense of Jews, other minorities and women.”

Like I’ve been saying, ethnocentric liberal Jews like Abe Foxman are starting to get worried that diversity isn’t necessarily good for the Jews. You bring in some African guy and maybe he hasn’t been trained as well in terms of where the landmines are as some Lutheran comedian from Minnesota.

From The Atlantic:

Trevor Noah Meets the Outrage Internet

The Daily Show protégé’s controversial tweets illustrate how some kinds of bad humor can’t survive.


Yesterday Comedy Central announced that South African comedian Trevor Noah will replace Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show beginning in December. Curious fans of the show scrambled to learn more about Noah, whose fan base is large but not concentrated in the United States. Those people found a Twitter account (with two million followers) that included multiple instances of jokes that many deemed tone-deaf and tasteless.

There is outcry, across social media and on most news sites today. The Atlantic staff writer Spencer Kornhaber and senior editor James Hamblin discuss.

Hamblin: Are these jokes real or some kind of performance-art parody?

Kornhaber: That would be nice, if it turned out to be a parody of some sort. I guess. But it’d have to have been started back in 2009, which would make for a pretty long-running conspiracy. The first thing that strikes me about these tweets is just how inept they are as attempts at humor. They didn’t make me chuckle guiltily. They just made me embarrassed for him. Right?

Hamblin: Most of these are old, from four to five years ago, so maybe it was just his racism/sexism/anti-Semitic phase?

Kornhaber: Yeah, it’s interesting to look at the timestamps. His more recent controversial tweets are, at least, attempts at jokes, not just repeating old stereotypes. The Bruce Jenner one from last month—not exactly enlightened but, meh, fine. #BeatsByDreidel in May of 2014 indulges some not-s0-helpful thoughts about Jews controlling the world, but actually is almost a punchline, at least. The older stuff is just such a fascinating glimpse at what makes bad humor bad—the idea that you’re doing something exciting by saying something offensive, when really you’re just outing yourself as a deeply unoriginal thinker who has a tragically commonplace obsession with Jews. Or you’re outing yourself as the stereotype of a frat-bro when it comes to attitudes toward women. You have a little bit of a standup background, Jim.

“A little bit of a standup background” = Jim thought he was funny, but, it turned out, audiences disagreed.

What do you make of this stuff?

Hamblin: Even trying to take them in good faith, I hate these jokes, but it’s probably good that there’s blowback now, so Noah and everyone at The Daily Show can be better in the future. So without implying that historical precedent is a defense of bigotry, look at Bob Hope. He was beloved in the 1950s, but most of his comedy doesn’t hold up today at all. From 1970:

You know, a new movement–a new movement has appeared on the American scene. First women’s liberation demanded the rights of women. Then the hardhats demanded the rights of men. And now gay liberation is demanding the rights of–whatever they are.

Pause for laughter. Richard Zoglin argues in his biography that Hope was just a relic of vaudeville, where he got his start, which involved a lot of blackface and one-liners about the incompetence of women—the kinds of jokes that are not jokes at all really, just gags that rely on a high hat to tell people when to laugh.

Hope was adored in his prime, but then his misogyny fell out of style, and his fans and the industry largely disowned him. Things are still getting better, but the root of a lot of comedy today comes from broad generalizations about people. It’s cool to be able to spot behavioral trends and call them out, but doing it along racial and gender lines is, to use your favorite word, almost always in some way problematic.

Can’t we all just make jokes about the marketing of Pop Tarts and the people who deny that humans are producing carbon that is changing the climate in terrible ways? Or, sorry, about that logic, not those people. Even though they are all ugly people. Taking the high ground in terms of subjects that deserve to be made fun of—e.g. not obese women or the Jewish people as a whole—is coming in style so hard, which is cool. Not just Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, but even Seth Meyers is taking on stuff like Indiana’s “religious freedom” law in a five-minute rant on civil-rights laws. So many white dudes in suits at desks making important commentary-jokes. Johnny Carson would not have done that.

Kornhaber: Yeah, it’s good to keep the broader comedy context in mind. (Also, step off, I challenge you to find me ever using the word “problematic” in earnest.) As Roxane Gay pointed out on Twitter, lots and lots of beloved comics have said dicey things, made identity jokes, etc. Jon Stewart himself often walked the line on The Daily Show. So singling out Noah—a comedian who, blessedly, is of a different background than those who usually take up late-night host spots—doesn’t help anyone. Like I said, his Jew/women tweets come from a common phenomenon: the mistaken belief that saying something wrongheaded is the same as saying something transgressive. The best comics, from Dave Chappelle to Stephen Colbert to Tina Fey, talk about identity in original ways, making the joke be on the larger culture and not on the individual group.–

Yeah, right … Did anybody watch the last four years of Fey’s 30 Rock?

As for Chappelle, he started out making fun of black people for black audiences because that’s what blacks find funny — blacks. Then he transferred his act to national audiences on TV, and a bunch of white facilitators assured him that white people were only laughing at his jokes about black people in a meta-fashion, they were laughing at white stereotypes about blacks, or something. So reassured, he went on making fun of black people until a blue collar white stagehand laughed in a really not-meta fashion at one of his jokes about black people, at which point he realized his white handlers had been lying to him, he had a mental breakdown, and walked out on his $25 million per year contract.

Hamblin: So what’s to be done here? Nothing? Is comedy going to just get forcibly higher brow until every late-night show is tackling net neutrality and hiring investigative journalists as writers?

Kornhaber: He should explain the thinking behind some of those jokes and whether he still holds to that thinking. He should probably offer an apology. More important, though, would be a vow from him to try harder—to be more creative, more insightful, funnier. Because insight, something that a program like The Daily Show prides itself on offering, doesn’t jibe with perpetuating racism or sexism, which are, at core, stupid belief systems. I don’t want more sanitized humor; I just want humor that gets how funny the world actually is.


From the Hollywood Reporter, here’s yet another example of a major trend of 2015: an ethnocentric Jewish liberal in the media getting worried about trends that he has played a role in bringing about:

Harvey Weinstein Urges Jews to Take on Anti-Semites: “Kick These Guys in the Ass”

11:49 PM PDT 3/24/2015 by Scott Feinberg, Tina Daunt

“We’re gonna have to get as organized as the mafia,” the mogul told the audience at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s national tribute dinner, where he was introduced by friend and competitor Jeffrey Katzenberg as “a really nice Jewish boy.”

Like I said in my Taki’s Magazine article about the growth of the anti-Israeli BDS movement on California campuses — “Are Jews Losing Control of the Media?” — ethnocentric liberal Jews are on the fault line in 2015.

Their public ideology of Diversity and Immigration Uber Alles has never combined terribly logically with their Jewish ethnocentrism, but the contradiction wasn’t a big deal when all that mattered was guilt-tripping nice white gentiles into not noticing. But now that America and Europe are filling up with immigrants from non-guilt cultures, many of them traditionally anti-Semitic, and some of them fanatically anti-Israel, the future looks more worrisome.

“We better stand up and kick these guys in the ass,” movie mogul Harvey Weinstein said about present-day anti-Semites as he accepted the Humanitarian Award at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s National Tribute Dinner on Tuesday night at the Beverly Hilton. “We’re gonna have to get as organized as the mafia,” he continued. “We just can’t take it anymore [from] these crazy bastards.” …

Weinstein, 63, then went off-script to speak about his father, who was a sergeant stationed in Cairo during World War II. The elder Weinstein aided the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF before Israel was a state) and later taught his sons about anti-Semitism. Weinstein emphasized his concern about anti-Semitism around the world, which Wiesenthal Center studies indicate is at its highest levels since the end of World War II.

“I’m upset when I read The Atlantic Monthly’s headline that says, ‘Should the Jews leave Europe?’ — a resounding ‘no’ on my end — and [New York Times columnist] David Brooks today talking about how to combat anti-Semitism,” Weinstein said. “It’s like, here we go again, we’re right back where we were [before the Holocaust]. And the lessons of the past are we better stand up and kick these guys in the ass.”

The co-head of The Weinstein Company continued, “I think it’s time that we, as Jews, get together with the Muslims who are honorable and peaceful — but we [also] have to go and protect ourselves. We have to build, once again, back into the breach. There’s a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s book The Sirens of Titan and it always was the motto of Miramax and now The Weinstein Company. It says, ‘Good can triumph over evil if the angels are as organized as the mafia.’ That’s how we built our company! And, unfortunately, we [Jews] are gonna have to get as organized as the mafia. We just can’t take it anymore. We just can’t take these things. There’s gotta be a way to fight back.”

“While we must be understanding of our Arab brothers and our Islamic brothers,” he added, “we also have to understand that these crazy bastards [Arab and Islamic extremists] are also killing their own — they’re killing neighbors, they’re killing people from all sorts of different races. And, unlike World War II, when we didn’t act right away and we paid the price, we better start acting now. Trust me, I’m the last guy who wants to do anything about it, but I realize if we don’t, we will perish. We can’t allow the bad guys to win. So, as they say in The Godfather, ‘back to the mattresses,’ and back to the idea that we will not ever forget what happened to us.”

I had never heard the phrase “back to the mattresses” before and figured Weinstein was getting it confused with the wrestling phrase “take it to the mat.” But, no, it’s an old Italian figure of speech for going to war with a rival clan or region. Here’s Tom Hanks explaining “go to the mattresses” to Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail:”

Actually, don’t watch this. I’d forgotten how lame this movie is.

[Actor Christoph] Waltz handled the actual presentation of Weinstein’s award. Calling Weinstein a man with “a heart of gold,” Waltz pointed out that the honoree has handled the distribution of a great number of films connected to Jews, Nazis and/or the Holocaust — not just Basterds, but also The Truce, Life Is Beautiful, The Reader, Sarah’s Key, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Imitation Game and the upcoming Woman in Gold. (He then introduced a clip from Woman in Gold — a film about an elderly Jewish woman seeking the return of artwork stolen from her family by Nazis — which opens next week.) …

This year’s gathering took on a particular somber tone in the wake of the ongoing unrest in the Middle East. …

Tuesday’s gala featured the surprise announcement that an additional $50 million has been raised toward construction of a sprawling Museum of Tolerance complex in Jerusalem.

Katzenberg said the $50 million includes “a gift of $26 million — the largest gift in the history of the Simon Wiesenthal Center — from Dawn Arnall to name the building in memory of her late husband, Roland,” the billionaire businessman and former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and L.A.’s Museum of Tolerance were co-founded by the late subprime mortgage robber baron Roland Arnall, who got extra rich talking Latino immigrants into taking on high interest mortgages they couldn’t afford. I give Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide and Kerry Killinger of Washington Mutual a lot of grief, but they were really quality businessmen who were slowly seduced over to the dark side by their greed, their ambition, and modern America’s diversity mindset. In contrast, Arnall, as far as I can tell, was a pirate, the worst of the worst in making subprime mortgages into a national catastrophe.

The other bequests include “a gift of $10 million from the world-renowned philanthropist and chairman of the Milken Institute, along with his wife, Michael and Lori Milken” … The building will be surrounded by the Tikkun Olam Garden of approximately 24,000 square feet …

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with more than 400,000 member families in the United States. Its Museum of Tolerance on Pico Blvd. hosts more than 350,000 people annually, including 130,000 students. Its “Tools for Tolerance” programs have been the recipients of many awards, including the United Nations Peace and Tolerance Award. The museum also is a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and part of their Immigration and Civil Rights Network Southwest Region Immigration Training Project.

So you can see the dilemma. Much of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s money originated in Roland Arnall tricking immigrant peons into ruinous loans (Arnall’s Ameriquest got fined $250,000,000 by state attorneys general, even while Congress was approving his nomination as ambassador), so immigration is good because it brings in Fresh Meat; but immigration into Europe is getting Jews murdered, so immigration is bad for the Jews.

This is hardly an insoluble dilemma, but it is disquieting to ethnocentric Jewish liberals in the media, few of whom had thought analytically about immigration before 2015. With their “huddled masses” schmaltz they’d largely succeeded in demonizing skepticism about immigration, shifting the Overton Window so far that sensible thinking about immigration security seems like Hitlerism to today’s youth of color.

But maybe media moguls have gone a little too far in hate-mongering against immigration restrictionists? Perhaps it would be more prudent to hedge their bets, to diversify their portfolios so that if it turns out that immigration needs to be restricted, they’ll have somebody to deal with.

You can see the problem in France after the anti-Semitic massacres in January, where ethnocentric liberal Jewish journalists, like Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic article cited by Weinstein, have had to make Strange New Respect pilgrimages to Marine Le Pen because the National Front is the only party that has dared to have practical policy proposals.

Anyway, Harvey’s demand that Jews “are gonna have to get as organized as the mafia” reminds me of the year when the mafia got as organized as the Anti-Defamation League. From Wikipedia:

The Italian-American Civil Rights League was formed as a political group in and around New York City in the early 1970s. Its stated goal was to combat pejorative stereotypes about Italian-Americans.

The group began as the Italian American Anti-Defamation League on April 30, 1970, when approximately 30 Italian-Americans, led by Joseph Colombo, picketed the Manhattan headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They were there to protest the recent arrest of Colombo’s son, Joseph Colombo Jr., on a charge of conspiracy to melt down old U.S. silver coins … Prior to this, the senior Colombo had complained of unfair harassment of him and his family by various federal law-enforcement authorities, who alleged that Colombo was the boss of one of New York City’s five Mafia families — a charge he repeatedly denied.

The 30 demonstrators who appeared at the FBI building were joined by others in successive days, and ultimately their number grew to more than 5,000. The group then adopted the name “Italian-American Civil Rights League” after Colombo’s attorney, Barry Slotnick, had suggested it. …

Within two months, the organization claimed 45,000 dues-paying members, and held a large rally in Columbus Circle on June 28, 1970. The league gained further momentum when Frank Sinatra held a benefit concert in its honor at Madison Square Garden in November of that year.

The group then turned its attention to what it perceived as cultural slights against Italian-Americans, using boycott threats to force Alka-Seltzer and The Ford Motor Company to withdraw television commercials the league objected to, and also got United States Attorney General John Mitchell to order the United States Justice Department to stop using the word “Mafia” in official documents and press releases. The league also secured an agreement from Al Ruddy, the producer of The Godfather, to omit the terms “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” from the film’s dialogue, and succeeded in having Macy’s stop selling a board game called The Godfather Game. The IACRL boycotted the Ford Motor Company because of its sponsorship of the television show The F.B.I. and its negative references to Italian-Americans as gangsters. Alka Seltzer was boycotted for its “Dat’s a Spicy Meatball” ad campaign. …

Do watch this. It’s as good as you remember.

On June 28, 1971, the league held another rally in Columbus Circle. At the rally, Colombo was shot three times in the head by a man who was then immediately shot and killed himself; the blast left Colombo in a coma from which he would never recover (he died on May 22, 1978). Theories abounded as to the motive for the shooting; the most commonly held belief was that other Mafia bosses in New York ordered the hit because they did not like the media attention Colombo and the group were receiving. The organization, at that time believed to number more than 100,000, had effectively disappeared within a year after the shooting.


From the NYT:

Prosecutors Scrutinize Minority Borrowers‘ Auto Loans

Minority borrowers were once starved for credit through redlining — banks’ refusal to provide mortgages in their communities.

Now the booming auto industry has turned that historic wrong on its head, government authorities say, singling out minority borrowers and extending them the costliest car loans, a development that threatens to exacerbate the economic distress in some black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

The practice, known as reverse-redlining, is presenting new challenges for government authorities trying to shield the most vulnerable Americans from predatory lending. Prosecutors from the Justice Department and top officials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are grappling with how to root out the practice in a fractured industry, where some of the least regulated players, the auto dealers, wield the most power and where virtually no national data exists to quantify the problem.

“In every facet of the auto lending market, combating discrimination is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division,” Vanita Gupta, acting assistant attorney general for the division, said in an interview. Ms. Gupta joined the Justice Department in October from the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was deputy legal director and headed its Center for Justice.

That reminds me. What exactly is the ACLU up to these days? You used to hear about it all the time, but now it seems to maintain a much lower profile. It seems to now be on the side of government, as Ms. Gupta’s career path suggests.

The latest push against auto dealers comes as previous efforts aimed solely at lenders have faced challenges, including intense resistance from the industry. One prominent action taken by the federal authorities against a large lender, Ally Financial, has been fraught with complications.

More than a year ago, Ally agreed to pay $80 million to auto buyers as part of a broader settlement over accusations that it charged minority customers higher interest rates. But none of that money has been paid out, according to several people briefed on the settlement.

One reason for the delay, the people said, is that federal authorities have found it complicated to determine which Ally customers are minorities who might have suffered harm. Before sending out the checks, the regulators wanted to make sure that none were sent to white borrowers, the people said. Another wrinkle is that information about the settlement is being sent in six languages.

So, it’s illegal to trick an innumerate illegal alien into an exploitive loan, but it’s okay to trick an innumerate white American citizen into the same loan? Perhaps we should experiment instead with this crazy idea called the equal protection of the law?

… Neither auto dealers nor lenders are required to collect information about a borrower’s race or ethnicity. The mortgage market is different. After the redlining scandals in housing, Congress in 1975 passed the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, which required lenders to detail their mortgage lending by race, ethnicity and ZIP code.

Tino pointed out the giant federal online database of mortgages by race/ethnicity to me in 2008, which demonstrated that the Housing Bubble / Bust was intimately tied to massive expansion in lending to Hispanics.

Faced with a dearth of data in auto lending, the government authorities created a method that analyzes borrowers’ surnames and addresses to determine their race.

That’s like what race/history/evolution notes does with the Forbes 400.

… Using proxies in their auto lending investigation into Ally, the federal authorities calculated that roughly 235,000 minority borrowers paid higher interest rates than white ones from April 2011 to December 2013. …

Part of the problem in the eyes of the federal authorities, the people said, is “dealer markups,” in which dealers tack additional interest onto a borrower’s loan. The markups can be used, the people said, to charge minority borrowers higher rates than white ones with similar credit profiles.

Logically, Eric Holder’s Justice Department is arguing that car dealers are charging white customers less out of the goodness of their hearts, because, after all, car dealers are famously nice and unmaterialistic.

… At some dealerships, the Justice Department is taking aim at discriminatory practices that go beyond markups.

In February, the department resolved a case against two dealerships in Charlotte, N.C., for intentionally targeting African-American borrowers with unfair and predatory practices in the financing of used-car purchases.

To lure the borrowers, the department said, the dealerships were situated in overwhelmingly African-American neighborhoods.

That reminds me that in both Chicago and Los Angeles, I’ve been discriminated against in Toyota dealerships. I’ve several times been ignored by salesmen who don’t want to deal with an intelligent-looking white guy who no doubt has looked up on the Internet what the dealer’s cost of the car is.


Former Our Person in Moscow Masha Gessen has published her book on the Tsarnaev Brothers, the Chechen wild men who murdered all those people in Boston.

Michiko Kakutani reviews The Brothers in the New York Times and finds it pretty useless.

But, at least we get to see a new publicity shot of Masha.


From the NYT:

Review: ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ Delves Into Infamy in the Age of Social Media
MARCH 29, 2015


[Jon Ronson's] overall point is something we already understand: Public shaming in the age of social media has the kind of power that no form of shaming ever had before. …

Less well-known, really shocking parts of the book tell of two guys making dumb jokes at a conference for tech developers. One of them made a nerdy, techy joke with sexual overtones, at which point a woman in front of him stood up, turned around and took his picture. She posted it on Twitter and was very proud of herself. (“Yesterday the future of programming was on the line and I made myself heard.”) He lost his job. He posted an apology that included the fact that he had three children to support, and the woman demanded that he remove that information. Who suffered more? He was out of work; she remained smug; but she became subject to vicious sexual comments on the web bulletin board 4chan/b/. …

So what does he learn? That even the toughest advocates of old-fashioned shaming techniques think their tactics pale beside social media. And that social media has made people afraid, Mr. Ronson thinks, to speak freely, lest they inadvertently become targets for some crazy reason. Its anonymity magnifies groupthink, and it lets us forget one victim as we move on to the next.

By Jon Ronson
290 pages. Riverhead Books. $27.95.


By Pete Townshend, Black Sea, and iSteve:

“Lie Generation”

People try to put us d-down,
Just because we’re safe and sound.
Things they do look microaggressive.
I’d better lie to sound progressive.

This is Lie Generation,
This is Lie Generation, maybe?

Why don’t we all alert the Dean
That cisgenders’ views are just too obscene?
I will not debate, you privileged primate,
I’m just talkin’ ’bout our campus climate.

This is Lie Generation,
This is Lie Generation, maybe?

Straight white males hurt our comfort zone,
So we’ll break your collarbone.
Words you say are so insensitive;
College can’t be argumentative.

This is Lie Generation,
This is Lie Generation, maybe?

Talkin’ ’bout Lie Generation
Squawkin’ ’bout evil Caucasian
Talkin’ ’bout Latin and Asian
Squawkin’ ’bout ‘gression equation
Talkin’ ’bout race conversation
Squawkin’ ’bout white male narration

Talking ’bout Lie Generation …

Suggestions from anyone with an actual sense of rhythm would be appreciated. Here are the original lyrics.


A week ago, the NYT ran an opinion piece by Judith Shulevitz making fun of the “safe space” movement on college campuses

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas

… keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?

Only a few of the students want stronger anti-hate-speech codes. Mostly they ask for things like mandatory training sessions and stricter enforcement of existing rules. Still, it’s disconcerting to see students clamor for a kind of intrusive supervision that would have outraged students a few generations ago. But those were hardier souls. Now students’ needs are anticipated by a small army of service professionals — mental health counselors, student-life deans and the like. This new bureaucracy may be exacerbating students’ “self-infantilization,” as Judith Shapiro, the former president of Barnard College, suggested in an essay for Inside Higher Ed.

This week the NYT ran eight letters in response. Here’s one that I thought at first had to be a prank because it’s such a perfect piece of Obama Era demagoguery:

To the Editor:

Judith Shulevitz’s article about safe spaces on college campuses is a direct assault on my generation and what we find important. My generation has embraced the ideas of safe spaces and safe language. Without these, many victims of trauma or discrimination would be excluded from campus discussions that seek to cultivate and strengthen campus intellectual life. Truly open-minded intellectual growth desperately needs the participation of these groups.

Not all ideas are created equal. Some ought to be unreservedly condemned; consideration of such ideas is not at all helpful in bolstering campus intellectual life. The current generation of college students has denied validity to the failed ideas of the past. We have embraced the knowledge and empathy of the present. We are shaping the wisdom of the future.

Stony Brook, N.Y.

The writer is a senior at Stony Brook University.

Watch your back, Uncle Tim Wise, there’s a new sheriff in town: Andrew Meerwarth. That letter is pretty awesome even if, as it appears, young Mr. Meerwarth is sadly sincere.

Anyway, this just shows that the White Male Menace will never go away. Just as we have brogrammers, now we have a bropagandist. Some white guy can be a total true believer in Multicult propaganda, and still make the Unprivileged look bad by being better at extruding Diversity Demagoguery than they are.

Also, here’s an updating of the 1965 song “Lie Generation” by The Whom.


Screenshot 2015-03-29 22.06.58

Shutterstock.com is a vendor of stock photos for editorial purposes. You can search their vast library of copyrighted pictures, find the one you want, and pay them to get the image without the “Shutterstock” watermark.

A friend points out that if you go to Shutterstock.com and search for “American family,” the top choices are all black families. Above is a screenshot of the top 15, but they go on like this for hundreds and hundreds of pictures of black families. After a couple of hundred black (or mixed race) families (most of them fairly light-skinned), there is finally a picture of a white guy and his Asian wife and Eurasian baby.

I presumed that this was some kind of technical search glitch caused by the phrase “African American.” But Shutterstock lets you refine your search to just one ethnicity, so if you specify “Caucasian (white)” and search for “American family” you get … pretty much the same thing: overwhelmingly black. Not until the 19th photo do you get a picture of an all white family. So I don’t know what’s going on.


From the New York Times:

Jeb Bush and Scott Walker Point G.O.P. to Contrary Paths

HUDSON, N.H. — As Jeb Bush mingled with Hispanic workers on a company tour a few weeks ago on his first trip here as an all-but-declared candidate for president, he was able to guess the region in Colombia where one woman was born just from hearing her accent.

That night, he told Republicans that their party had to “go out and reach out to people of every walk of life, not with a divisive message but one that is unifying.” …

The first votes of the primary season will not be cast until the Iowa caucuses next February, but Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, and Mr. Walker are fast becoming the most prominent exponents of two dueling visions of how the Republican Party can retake the White House in 2016 — by extending its reach, or by energizing more of the sorts of people who have sided with Republicans in the past.

The two men share many policy positions, but offer strikingly divergent messages and are pursuing very different electoral strategies. And their political approaches seem inextricably linked to their biographies.

Mr. Bush, a privileged scion who married a Mexican woman and boasts of being bicultural, reflects his polyglot adopted hometown, Miami, and state. He is telling Republicans, in effect, that they must accept a changing country: that the path to the presidency will be found through appealing to voters who may not look like them, and with a standard-bearer whose state and immediate family resemble tomorrow’s America.

Which, coincidentally enough, can be ruled over by a fourth Bush, George P.


From FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:

Ithaca College’s Microaggressions Bill Labels Students ‘Oppressors’ for ‘Belittling’ Speech
By Will Creeley March 26, 2015

Early last week, the Ithaca College Student Government Association passed a resolution to create an anonymous, online system for students to report “microaggressions” on campus. FIRE has closely monitored the bill’s progress, as its language presents obvious problems for freedom of expression at the private New York college.

First, the measure resolves to create a “school-wide online system to report microaggressions”—but does not define the term “microaggressions.”

This glaring lack of clarity is deeply troubling. Without a stable understanding of what a microaggression is or is not, students run the risk of being reported for speech that crosses an invisible line, drawn by and known only to the offended listener.

Well, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Of course, the inherent subjectivity of microaggressions is an even bigger problem, and the squirrely elasticity of the term makes the lack of clear definition all but unavoidable. One student’s microaggression is another’s earnest attempt to discuss different life experiences. The chill on student speech would be severe. In fact, chilling speech appears to be the point; as one supporter of the bill told The Ithacan student newspaper, “Just like any other resolution that we want to pass with microaggression and diversity in the institution, what it does is it helps to make people think a little more before they do or say something.”

If the bill had included a definition, the threat to free expression would likely be clearer still. In an interview with The Ithaca Voice, one of the bill’s authors defined microaggressions as “statements by a person from a privileged group that belittles or isolates a member of an unprivileged group, as it relates to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more.” This is an unequivocal attempt to police speech, and it only prompts more questions: What groups are privileged or unprivileged? Who decides? What makes a statement “belittling” or “isolating”? Who decides? What other class statuses might make a student a member of an unprivileged group? Who decides?

Surprisingly, in practice there’s not all that much uncertainty over Victimization Pokemon Points, since the unspoken but apparent engine is anti-Core Americanism.

1. The less you are like, say, George Washington, the more points you have.

2. Further, the benefit of the doubt goes to those asserting victim status. For example, Barack Obama might seem to have a lot in common with George Washington in terms of power and privilege, what with both of them being Presidents and all. But the President had the good sense to assert his blackness, so he gets to be an official victim while some unemployed white guy in West Virginia is just a loser.

3. Moreover, the more power and privilege a self-identified victim has, the less you’d better publicly doubt his Pokemon Points.

Again, the inescapable subjectivity of the term means that student expression is only as safe as the most sensitive student on campus allows it to be, however unreasonable his or her determination.

… The resolution further states that “the system will be set up to not identify individuals who choose to report by name but will note the demographics of people who report and the demographics of oppressors based on a coding system.” As explained by one of the bill’s authors, the bill would record the “gender, race, age and school within the college and year of both the person reporting the microaggression and the person being reported.”

In other words, the class status of student speakers (“oppressors”) who are deemed to have “belittled” or “isolated” a student member of an “unprivileged group” would be recorded. Presumably, the reporting student would be empowered to determine the oppressor’s gender, race, and age …

The Ithacan reports that the sponsors’ desire to go further by requiring that the names of the “oppressors” be recorded, too, was quelled only by “possible legal barriers.” Apparently, those barriers are currently being reviewed by college lawyers. Publicly labelling a student an “oppressor” solely on the basis of an anonymous report about speech that caused subjective offense? What could possibly go wrong?

FIRE, which is complaining about this microaggressions initiative, was founded in 1999 by civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate, age 72, and U. Penn intellectual history professor Alan Charles Kors, 71.

Professor Kors, who specializes in the Enlightenment, is, despite his Bugs Bunny accent, perhaps the technically best lecturer of all the many fine lecturers whose tapes are published by the Teaching Company. He’s a master at pacing and clarifying his lectures so that you can follow his complex ideas while driving or doing housework. I’ve listened to his series of lectures on Voltaire while commuting on the freeway and I never had to hit rewind, even after changing lanes.

Kors and Silverglate are representative of a once powerful tradition of Jewish civil libertarianism that felt that it was good for the Jews that universal rules of freedom of expression applied to everybody. Jazz critic Nat Hentoff, now 89, is another example. (Here’s Hentoff interviewing martyred Jewish comic Lenny Bruce.) A society in which people are not formally punished for being verbally aggressive seemed like it would be good for the Jews.

In recent decades, however, Who? Whom? thinking has become more popular. Why put up with a lot of guff when you have the power and privilege to award yourself plenty of Victimization Pokemon Points? Instead of a Single Standard, why not have a Double Standard? A Single Standard was appealing in Lenny Bruce’s day, but in Jon Stewart’s day, it’s more fun to ruin the career of Rick Sanchez for pointing out that Stewart isn’t a minority victim.

But successful as that has been in the short run, in the long run, will that kind of thinking be good for the Jews? Or will aggressive newcomers, like those University of California student politicians, use the Jewish tendency toward verbal aggressiveness to take down the current top dogs, using the widespread distaste for Israel in the rest of the world as an opening wedge for dislodging American Jews from their positions of power and privilege?

Perhaps the Kors-Silverglate-Hentoff theory of a Single Standard of liberty and objective fairness might be more prudent for Jews in the long run?


For years, I had been pointing out that two world-beating sectors of the American economy, Silicon Valley and Hollywood, paid relatively little attention to the panoply of anti-discrimination regulations that weigh down the performance of America’s less globally competitive sectors, such as Detroit.

Recently, however, the Eye of Sauron has finally turned in the direction of Silicon Valley, with glances at Hollywood, too. In the New York Times, reporter / feminist crusader Claire Cain Miller explains that what Silicon Valley needs to cure it of its disease of entrepreneurial men innovating rapidly is lots of stifling bureaucracy. Silicon Valley needs to become more like Detroit.

What Silicon Valley Learned From the Kleiner Perkins Case
MARCH 27, 2015
Claire Cain Miller

Kleiner Perkins’s victory Friday in the gender discrimination part of the lawsuit brought by Ellen Pao could be seen as an affirmation of the Silicon Valley old boys club. But venture capitalists said that the trial had already put the tech industry on notice: It can no longer operate as a band of outsiders, often oblivious to rules that govern the modern workplace — even if that has been a key to its success.

Silicon Valley has always prided itself on doing business differently. Forget bureaucracy and the traditions of bigger, older companies, the thinking goes. Instead, wear jeans to work, bring your dog, don’t ask permission to try something new, and embrace failure. That nimble approach has helped create more world-changing ideas and wealth than any other industry in recent years.

But it can have a flip side — a sometimes blatant disregard for the policies that apply to big businesses, whether it’s obeying regulations, paying taxes or treating employees fairly. The broad themes of the trial extended far beyond Silicon Valley’s casual workplaces.

Just as Anita Hill once helped shine a light on overt sexual harassment, Ms. Pao, in suing Kleiner Perkins, may do the same for subtle sexism. The trial was riveting in part because many women could relate to the slights described on the witness stand, like men interrupting women in meetings or assuming they were too preoccupied for a big role because they had children. …

Yet as heretical as it might sound in Silicon Valley, bureaucracy serves a purpose. Studies have found that women generally perform better in companies with more formal processes, and that women in science have better prospects for employment at start-ups that are more bureaucratic. …

If tech companies want to remain a band of risk-taking, fast-moving outsiders, the biggest risk they could take might be hiring more women and then creating company cultures where they can succeed.

Let’s make Silicon Valley more like General Motors and make Hollywood more like the Los Angeles Unified School District. What could possibly go wrong with our balance of trade?


Psychiatrist Scott Alexander, who blogs at SlateStarCodex.com, attends a psychiatry conference:

I managed to take some notes about what’s going on in the wider psychiatric world, including:

– The newest breakthrough in ensuring schizophrenic people take their medication (a hard problem!) is bundling the pills with an ingestible computer chip that transmits data from the patient’s stomach. It’s a bold plan, somewhat complicated by the fact that one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia is the paranoid fear that somebody has implanted a chip in your body to monitor you. Can you imagine being a schizophrenic guy who has to explain to your new doctor that your old doctor put computer chips in your pills to monitor you? Yikes. …

– The same team is working on a smartphone app to detect schizophrenic relapses. The system uses GPS to monitor location, accelerometer to detect movements, and microphone to check tone of voice and speaking pattern, then throws it into a machine learning system that tries to differentiate psychotic from normal behavior (for example, psychotic people might speak faster, or rock back and forth a lot). Again, interesting idea. But again, one of the most common paranoid schizophrenic delusions is that their electronic devices are monitoring everything they do.

If you make every one of a psychotic person’s delusions come true, such that they no longer have any beliefs that do not correspond to reality, does that technically mean you’ve cured them?

Utah Data Center: Curing paranoid schizophrenics of their delusions since May 2014


From the NYT:

Amanda Knox Acquitted of 2007 Murder by Italy’s Highest Court

It turns out that the real killer was … the black street criminal. What kind of Law & Order episode would that be? Dick Wolf made a fortune putting on countless “Law & Order” episodes in which the killer turned out not to be the Rudy Guede-like thug, like most of the time in real life, but actually an affluent white person. Life would be so much more entertaining if well-to-do, good-looking white people like Amanda Knox, Haven Monahan, and John Doer were going around murdering, raping, and discriminating all the time.

So, we need a new term: Great White Defendant Privilege. The definition of Great White Defendant Privilege is that when the wheels of the justice system finally get done grinding, it often turns out that the Great White Defendant tried and convicted in the press didn’t actually do it (or, as in the case of the Night of Broken Glass fraternity gang rape at UVA, didn’t actually exist), and the justice system lets them go just because they are innocent (or nonexistent).

I’m not very good at spreading memes, but one that I’ve had a tiny bit of success with is getting people to remember Tom Wolfe’s riff on Captain Ahab’s obsession in Moby Dick: “the hunt for the Great White Defendant.” Because I refer to it so much because it’s so useful for describing things that seem like news but turn out not to b), I posted the full length version of the passage from Wolfe’s 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities here during the George Zimmerman whoop-tee-doo. But here’s a more tightly edited version:

An assistant D.A. in Major Offenses has started calling [D.A.] Abe Weiss “Captain Ahab,” and now they all did. Weiss was notorious in his obsession for publicity, even among a breed, the district attorney, that was publicity-mad by nature. …

Every assistant D.A. in the Bronx … shared Captain Ahab’s mania for the Great White Defendant. For a start, it was not pleasant to go through life telling yourself, “What I do for a living is, I pack blacks and Latins off to jail.” …

It wasn’t that it was morally wrong … It was that it was in bad taste. So it made the boys uneasy, this eternal prosecution of the blacks and Latins. …

Not that they weren’t guilty. … But the poor bastards behind the wire mesh barely deserved the term criminal if by criminal you had in mind the romantic notion of someone who has a goal and seeks to achieve it through some desperate way outside the law. No, they were simple-minded incompetents, most of them, and they did unbelievably stupid, vile things. …

The press couldn’t even see these cases. It was just poor people killing poor people. …

Captain Ahab wasn’t so ridiculous, after all. Press coverage! Ray and Jimmy could laugh all they wanted, but Weiss had made sure the entire city knew his name. Weiss had an election coming up, and the Bronx was 70 percent black and Latin, and he was going to make sure the name Abe Weiss was pumped out to them on every channel that existed. He might not do much else, but he was going to do that.

Commenter Martin observes:

Off topic, but I couldn’t help but notice while watching last night’s [NCAA basketball] game between undefeated No. 1 seed Kentucky and No. 5 seed West Virginia that it was a rare test case for your debate with Malcolm Gladwell about whether the full court press is really an underutilized weapon for underdogs to win at basketball.

The origin of Gladwell’s most recent bestseller David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants was his 2009 New Yorker article “How David Beats Goliath:
When underdogs break the rules.” Gladwell organized his long article around the theme that the way for less talented basketball teams to win is to use the full court press (playing defense the entire length of the floor rather than just within 30 feet of the basket you are defending). Martin goes on:

Gladwell’s theory hasn’t been tested often because coaches don’t believe it. Underdogs think that pressing against a team with more speed, skill, and size (like Calipari’s future NBAers at Kentucky) is a good way to get your mug shot in the bottom of a poster.

When John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won ten NCAA titles in 1964-1975 they full court pressed much of the time because they were Goliath, and it’s rational for Goliath to maximize the sample size of athletic incidents in each game to reduce the other’s team’s chance to win by luck.

But Bob Huggins’ solid West Virginia squad (nicknamed “Press Virginia”) had used the full court press all year on almost every possession. It was the only way they knew how to play and they had just ridden it into the Sweet 16 against a decent Maryland team. As senior West Virginia guard Juwan Staten said about the press before the Kentucky game, “Why wouldn’t it (work)?” “We’ve been playing this way all year, we’ve had success against everybody no matter what style or what type of players they have. That’s the only way we play and it’s just up to us to make it work.”

So, what happened yesterday in this empirical test of the basketball theories of Malcolm Gladwell v. John Wooden?

Kentucky 78 – West Virginia 39

My vague impression from flipping through it in the book store is that Gladwell’s David and Goliath book actually left out the full court press advice, presumably because the Internet response to the full court press idea in his magazine article had been so withering.

So, say not the struggle nought availeth!

In general, David and Goliath seemed humbler than Gladwell’s earlier bestsellers. It seemed to be more explicitly inspirational rather than pretend empirical-analytical. Gladwell is a good storyteller, so it’s reasonable for him to make money off a collection of stories that underdogs could use to psych themselves up by remembering vivid cases of underdogs winning. You just shouldn’t rely on Malcolm Gladwell to tell you how to beat the overdog.

It seems like David Brooks is also moving in the direction of being mostly an inspirational rather than an analytical writer.

Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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