Tuesday, May 22, 2018

White Democrats, Race, and the Plantation



Democratic NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
with Tanya Selvaratnam

White Democrats and their sick obsession with race. When is it going to end? They can’t decide if they want to save people of color or dominate and abuse them. And either way it’s the same power-trip behind it. Our white liberals assume they are gods of some kind: saviors and/or masters. Both at the same time. It’s sick.

Me I don’t much care about the black community. And why should I? When black people succeed, I’m cheering for them. And many many black Americans have accomplished great things. It’s just not the ones who spend two-thirds of their time talking about racism racism racism.

Yes, there are particular challenges people of color face. But those who manage to recognize that, challenges or not, they still have a much better shot at a good life in the US than many other places--these are the ones who will overcome the dumb bigotry that still rears its head now and then. And they get on with life. And when they find happiness, and struggle, and build families, and succeed in work, and thumb their noses at the haters--well, I’m their fan. More power to them.

A few days ago a friend of mine wrote the following sentence in a thread: “Republicans are people who want to keep the boot on black America’s neck.” I think that’s errant nonsense. What I see is that far too many black Americans are keeping the boot on their own necks. They get up in the morning and first thing they do is put on that boot. Like it’s a necessary item of apparel. And the Democratic Party keeps telling them it is.

I’m just glad more and more black Americans are starting to realize what a sham it is. People who have better things to do than play supporting role in a sick drama. People who take that boot off and don’t look back.

(Link to article in photo.)

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

貓:來自外太空的萬惡偽動物


Stage 4

牠們盯上我了。這事今天又上演了一遍。恐怕要不了多久,我連在此大聲疾呼都辦不到了。

但,無所謂吧?反正本來就沒幾個人會聽我的勸吧?

不過,我就再拚一回好了。這是我的最後一擊— 為我千千萬萬的人類同胞。

在今天之前,我通常會用謙恭有禮的語氣間接表達我想警告各位的事,也會把重點放在相對次要的問題上:狗乎,貓乎— 孰為人類適合豢養的寵物。眾所周知,世人有「狗派」和「貓派」之分,而我先前投注了這麼多心力,就是希望能一語驚醒夢中人— 我想讓那些貓派就飼養寵物這點重新思考自己的選擇。我想助他們擺脫對自己朝夕相處的這種不潔生物,所抱持的不實妄想。

「貓是我們可愛又聰明的同伴。」他們通常會如此堅 稱。「再說,貓比狗有個性多了。」

嗯哼。吃不到法式香煎橙汁鴨胸,馬鈴薯泥也好。

「這樣吧— 」我會這麼開始。「咱們來進行一場小小 的思考實驗。要玩嗎?」

「好啊。」

「地點是你家客廳,差不多三更半夜的時候。現在,有個嗑了藥的小鬼闖了進來。就是那種癮君子急需買藥錢時,只好隨機闖入民宅洗劫的情況。這傢伙手上拿著輪胎扳手;他打算先打爆你的頭,再搜刮你家裡的現金或任何值錢的東西。好了,為了進行這項實驗,我要請你試想你養了一條狗當寵物。可以嗎?」

「沒問題。」

「告訴我,那個小鬼撲向你的時候,你的狗會怎麼 樣?」

「發瘋似的狂吠啊!」這位愛貓人士說。「我的狗會想盡辦法要咬他。」

「我想你說得沒錯。是的,想當然耳。現在呢,請你就以上情境試想一下:當你養的是貓不是狗,那你家的貓看到那名侵入者握著輪胎扳手朝你逼近時,牠會怎麼做?」

「呃......」愛貓人士一時間答不上話了。

「不確定嗎?讓我告訴你這隻貓會採取什麼行動。牠會察覺到事態的危險,於是趕緊躲到沙發後面去。對吧?」

「這個嘛......」

「等到那名侵入者把你幹掉,也拿了你的現金和信用卡一走了之— 換句話說,一切都風平浪靜了,你的貓才會從沙發後面走出來看看你的情況。接著,牠會舔舔血,再觀察一下你的模樣。片刻之後,牠就會吃起你的臉來。」

「喂,你這話就說得太過分囉!」愛貓人士通常會在這個時候出言抗議。「我的貓很愛我!我是說,如果之後都沒人來處理死者的屍體,那狗肚子餓了也會吃自己的主人啊。這種事,狗也不是做不出來的!」

「或許你說得對。不過這當中的區別就在於狗會等個兩三天,等牠真的餓到受不了才會下手— 反觀你家的貓,牠可是會在二十四小時之內就把你的臉啃得一乾二淨。我敢拍胸脯保證。而且,不管怎麼說,我的重點應該非常清楚了:你的愛貓壓根沒想過要保護你。牠就顧著躲在沙發後面,只求自己毛茸茸的小屁股可以全身而退。所以囉,從這件事看來,我們就知道貓很— ?」

「我不知道......很聰明?」

「嗯哼。史密斯幹員不也聰明得很,但這不表示我會想跟他同住一個屋簷下。」

「無論如何,你說的這件事是不可能發生的。」愛貓人士如此論斷。「而且我也無法斬釘截鐵地說我家的貓絕對不會為我挺身而出。世事難料嘛。」

「對。你的貓說不定會站出來保護你。對。」

我有時也會提出不同的情境:假設有位愛貓人士正和她家的貓在客廳裡看電視,卻不知有個女巫就在窗外徘徊,還決定把她縮成六吋大的小人。忽然之間,原本坐在沙發上,還有她家毛毛在一旁作伴的女人真的只有六吋大了。這個時候,我們的親親寶貝毛毛會怎麼做?

當然,對方通常會開始閃爍其詞,用同樣的一句 「呃......」回答我的問題。

「你這隻愛你的貓會盯著你瞧個四、五秒,或許還會有點困惑,但接下來就會使出右爪狠狠一揮,然後伸出左爪再揮,然後用下巴一頂,你的脊椎就斷了。牠就這樣擺弄你,直到牠吃完晚餐為止。不相信哦?」

「我的貓才不會幹這種事。」

「得了吧你。話說回來,狗在這種情況下又會怎麼做? 請想像一下。真的:請試圖想像一下。狗會做出非常不同的反應。狗一見自己的主人突然變得這麼小,一定會驚慌得嗚嗚直叫,尾巴也會緊張地擺動起來。牠會拚命跑來跑去,努力思考應該怎麼辦才好。換句話說,狗表現出來的行徑,就 跟一個人碰到這種情況時反應差不多。而這就是狗跟貓的差 別— 天差地別,就像狗和蜥蜴之間的差異。」

我為愛貓人士舉出這些假設性情況,也指出貓其他顯而易見的缺點(貓毛到處粘,還有貓砂盆的問題啊老天!),但說到最後,對方通常還是堅稱跟貓同居根本不是什麼邪門歪道的怪事。倒是他們掉頭走人時,大多會因為我一開始提出的這些狀況,而認定我是在無理取鬧。

愛貓愛到喪心病狂了。沒這回事?試著幫助他們解決問題,卻落得遭人反唇相譏的下場。我的話到底有沒有穿透那團團包圍他們頭部的貓咪迷霧,直達他們的腦袋呢?

但那都是過去的事了。過去不可追,重要的是現在。現在,我不會只跟愛貓人士講講道理就作罷。不,既然事關全體人類,我決定要把貓那些「真正」的真相全都公諸於世。因為總得有人跨出這一步,而且說老實話,我也看夠那一再發生於我們生活周遭的事情了。如我先前所言,我個人就在今天,又差點被這群邪惡怪物的一員給解決掉。

我當時正走在台北一條巷子裡,就離我的住處不遠。最近這幾天,我注意到有隻陌生的貓會在附近出沒;每當我出門上班,都會發現牠悄悄溜到停在路邊的車子後方,然後就 開始怒視我。一隻混雜了牛奶糖色和灰白色的小討厭鬼— 他們都管這種貓叫......斑貓?我懶得理牠,只回瞪了牠一 眼。

我應該說明一下:台北的小巷也算交通繁忙的地段,常有人騎著摩托車或速克達路經此處。孩童有時也會在這些巷子裡快速地跑來跑去。大部分的小孩能平安活到現在也算奇蹟一樁了— 不,還沒到這麼令人驚嘆的程度,畢竟仍有少部分的孩童確實因為車禍而丟了性命。

言歸正傳。當時下了班,正要回家的我走在小巷子裡, 接著便有台載著兩名年輕女子的摩托車朝我高速衝來(沒 什麼好擔心的,因為她們應該只會從我身邊飛馳而過)。豈 料這一回,那隻流浪街頭的斑貓竟決定從路邊的車下奮身一 跳,不偏不倚地撲向那兩位年輕女子。

各位覺得騎著這台摩托車的台北女孩會怎麼做?輾過這隻可憐的小貓咪?怎麼可能!她一個急轉,就把摩托車直直轉到我面前來:撞傷路人總比撞傷流浪貓好多了,不是嗎?

我及時跳開,結果一屁股跌坐在地,臉上的眼鏡也飛了出去,那摩托車上的兩個女孩則打滑了差不多十五公尺才停下。

被載的女孩一臉驚慌地跳下摩托車,趕忙跑來探視—那條臭貓。載人的那位給了我一個不置可否的微笑,並說:「抱歉。你還好吧?」

「不,我不好。」我一邊回答,一邊慢慢站起來。「第一,這是條巷子,你騎太快了。第二,照你這種騎法,兩三下就能把我送進醫院。要不是我及時跳開,現在骨頭都斷好幾根了吧。」

「好啦,對不起。你沒事就好。我的意思是,我是看到貓了,但我沒看到你。」

而她這種說法當然是說不通的— 想想我跟那隻貓大小相差多少就知道。可是,你又能指望她可以給你什麼交代?

「貓咪沒事。」另一個女孩說。她氣喘吁吁地跑回來。 我這才看到她頭上那頂 Hello Kitty 安全帽。

「呿!」我噓了一聲,然後站起來拍拍身上的灰塵,掉頭走人。

講到這裡,各位或許能從中瞧出一種日常性的交通小事 故:被嚇了一跳的貓忽然衝到街上,駕駛見狀馬上緊急轉彎, 然後就撞倒了路人。我卻不是這麼看的。不。因為這種事可不是今天才有。事情的真相很簡單:那隻貓企圖致我於死地。 牠一開始就是奉上級的命令,才會踏進我居住的社區,好伺 機奪取我的性命。是的,我今天發生的這場小小意外說穿了 就是謀殺未遂的案件。這就是為何我總算打定主意要公開手 上那些貓的相關資料。因為事情的真相必要揭露;一定得有 人拆穿牠們的西洋鏡,而且事不宜遲。

貓其實是為了占領地球,才會光臨我們這顆星球的外星 物種生命體。牠們是一種寄生物,但模仿哺乳動物的技術 已經非常成熟— 以便接近我們,這些被牠們催眠的人類宿 主。牠們在占領地球這方面也有階段性的進展。相信牠們很 快就會啟動第三階段的任務。到了那個時候,我們就連掙扎 的機會都沒有了。

. . . continued . . .

我怎麼知道貓是外來種?答案就在《白痴有限公司》見真彰; 還有犀牛、蝙蝠、obasans 、海豚、真英雄、台北秘史 and more. 你可以在台灣買到:

《白痴有限公司》at Books.com

at 誠品

at 金石堂

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Black Humor in Red China: Meursault’s Party Members



There’s a comic masterpiece on the loose here in Asia, a book screaming to break out of the small circle of Western expats who’ve read it. It’s titled Party Members, by the pseudonymous Arthur Meursault, and it is deadly.

This book puts to shame a lot of the satire published and hailed in Britain and the US. Meursault’s novel is a thoroughgoing kick in the teeth, a page turner that doesn’t miss a beat, by turns hilarious and brutal--the hilarity and abject brutality set in a death struggle to see which will come out on top. In fact neither wins as both manage to be so over the top.

Vis-à-vis his Western literary peers in the genre (writing on corruption and greed in London or New York) Meursault certainly benefited from his immersion in the boom-town culture of contemporary China. If there’s anything in the West as fruitful of black humor as a Communist Party bureaucracy directing a bourgeois capitalist revolution, I’m not sure what it might be. 


Meursault follows the career of an at first utterly unremarkable low-level official in the government ministry of a third-tier Chinese city. The narrative tells the tale of how he breaks out of his craven mediocrity after his penis, having had enough and able to keep silent no longer, begins to give him life lessons.

Yes, a talking penis, with its own philosophy of life. The premise, I know, sounds too predictable, or lame, or juvenile, or something--and that’s what I feared before I took up the book. Who wants to read a few hundred pages of dick jokes?

Boy was I wrong. This book just snaps and pops and sizzles along. Meursault is a sharp prose stylist and ironist; he knows how to wield understatement and offhand aside to riotous effect. Party Members is far, far from a book of dick jokes. In fact, maybe the only dick joke in it is the title. Which is a feat really: that the writer kept himself so thoroughly from succumbing to cheap humor.



I knew I was in for something very different by the time I reached the second page. I’m something of a connoisseur of beginnings, and Meursault’s opening pages are as good an instance of setting tone as I’ve come across in years.

This novel reminds one of Gogol, of his genre-changing short tales like “The Nose” and “The Overcoat”, but given the hyper-consumerist Chinese setting, it’s like Gogol blasted at rock concert volume, wrecking machines and fireworks and shouts as accompaniment. 



But does Meursault give us the real China or an overly negative version? I think the question is rather irrelevant. This is a fictional world, of course, but like all worthwhile satire it is a fiction informed by things that happen far too often in the society it depicts. Or as one reviewer on the book’s Amazon page put it: “Foreigners who have lived in China for several years, upon returning home discover that curiously, nobody really believes even the tamest tales of what happened while they were there, as if they are telling war stories at the breakfast table.”

So again: In a novel such as Party Members, it is a matter of turning up the volume, selecting and pushing certain realities so they cannot be ignored. It is not a total picture of China, but a harrowingly palpable one, enough grounded in social facts to be relevant.

Related to this (and thinking again of the novel’s breakout potential) Meursault has done an amazing job making his fictional world accessible for those who don’t know the contemporary Chinese scene. Yes, there are occasional “in jokes” and allusions, but in general, any reader who knows the rough outlines of China’s history since Mao is going to have no trouble getting into this book.

As a fellow writer of satire, Party Members held especial interest for me, as I had to deal with similar challenges of narrating grotesque metamorphoses and fantastic improbabilities in my novel A Taipei Mutt. Whether I succeeded or not is hard for me to judge, but Meursault has done brilliantly.

And so: If you appreciate black humor, political intrigue, and want to be hit with something out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate. Pick up a copy.

Eric Mader

And while you're at it, check out my Taipei Mutt. Both Meursault's novel and mine are available in print and ebook.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

白痴有限公司: 《長頸鹿》





長頸鹿是塵土加黃金攪和出來的柱子,不過此金非彼 金,而是塵糞交織的偽金。長頸鹿也是包著人造毛皮的破爛 竹搖椅。沒錯,牠們還是一對對 LV 設計的腋下拐杖,只是 價比天高,而且太長了,根本沒人拄得了這種拐杖。

長頸鹿是塞倫蓋提大草原上的超級名模。牠們只吃嫩枝和樹葉,那熱量頂多能供牠們趾高氣揚地走來走去。想見識長頸鹿不同風采的話,記得帶古柯鹼。

. . .

要是有人開了間肯德基炸長頸鹿快餐店,光是一隻炸長頸鹿小腿就夠四個小孩坐在一起大啃特啃了吧。

幫長頸鹿跟香蕉配種的話,應該能培育出鋪著軟毛,上頭還綴滿黃色和褐色斑點的橢圓形沙發靠枕。這玩意兒說不定挺暢銷的。




完整原詩,看《白痴有限公司》;還有犀牛、貓、obasans 、海豚、真英雄、台北秘史 and more. 你可以在台灣買到:

《白痴有限公司》at Books.com

at 誠品

at 金石堂

"Like" 我的FB粉絲頁: Eric Mader 枚德林

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

你所不知道的長頸鹿



長頸鹿是塵土加黃金攪和出來的柱子,不過此金非彼 金,而是塵糞交織的偽金。長頸鹿也是包著人造毛皮的破爛 竹搖椅。沒錯,牠們還是一對對 LV 設計的腋下拐杖,只是 價比天高,而且太長了,根本沒人拄得了這種拐杖。

長頸鹿是塞倫蓋提大草原上的超級名模。牠們只吃嫩枝和樹葉,那熱量頂多能供牠們趾高氣揚地走來走去。想見識長頸鹿不同風采的話,記得帶古柯鹼。

. . .

要是有人開了間肯德基炸長頸鹿快餐店,光是一隻炸長頸鹿小腿就夠四個小孩坐在一起大啃特啃了吧。

幫長頸鹿跟香蕉配種的話,應該能培育出鋪著軟毛,上頭還綴滿黃色和褐色斑點的橢圓形沙發靠枕。這玩意兒說不定挺暢銷的。


完整原詩,看《白痴有限公司》;還有犀牛、貓、obasans 、海豚、真英雄、台北秘史 and more. 你可以在台灣買到:

《白痴有限公司》at Books.com

at 誠品

at 金石堂

"Like" 我的FB粉絲頁: Eric Mader 枚德林

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Lying Elites, Syria, and Donald Trump



Brazen, baldfaced lying: all states engage in it when the benefit to elites are high. Russia engages in it, China, the US, Britain, France, Iran. Each has propounded brazen lies at different times in the course of its modern history, and many of these lies were eventually documented as such, to no one’s surprise.

This time, regarding the April 7th chemical weapons attack at Douma in Syria, it’s the Russians and Syrians who are likely telling something nearer the truth, while the US and its allies are lying through their teeth.

If what looks like a carefully planned, cold-blooded murder occurs in an office building, if there are no witnesses or other incriminating evidence, police inspectors tasked with solving the murder immediately begin the work of establishing who may have had a motive. Did the dead woman have a jealous ex-lover? Does someone stand to gain a huge inheritance? Was she in some bitter power struggle in the company?

This approach is just common sense. After all, people usually don’t plan murders for no reason. Having identified someone with a strong motive, police can continue their work by focusing on that person.

In the case of Syria, why is this basic approach, good enough for police, not tried? Why is it not tried by anyone? Why is it simply assumed that the Syrian government would order a chemical weapons attack that served no military purpose--and in fact, for obvious reasons, served quite the opposite? Why would the Syrian government order an attack that could only put them in the crosshairs of vastly superior enemies?

The chance that the Assad government ordered the attack in Douma is virtually nil. Everyone paying attention, from blowhard John McCain to our military brass to Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May--they all know this. The Trump Administration also knows Assad didn’t gas Douma. If the story had to go out that Assad was responsible, and if Western military action needed to follow, these had little to do with anything Assad or Russia did. Rather, our quick Western response arose from powerful forces in our own governments and corporate offices. People with vested interests in staying on the war path in the Middle East needed this story.

But if Assad didn’t commit the atrocity in Douma, you might ask, who did? Well, first of all, there is still some small doubt that there there even was a chemical weapons attack. It is possible the event was staged, a propaganda op. But let’s assume that the attack occurred. Following basic police procedure, let’s pose the question of who would benefit from such an attack. Who had a motive?

One answer is obvious. The Syrian rebels themselves. On the verge of losing the civil war, the rebels heard the US president just days earlier announce plans to withdraw America from the conflict. Given that this was the same America that had been haphazardly backing them for years, the rebels had a huge motive for finding some pretext, any pretext, to keep America involved. The only feasible way they could do this, playing Trump off against those in the US who wanted the war to continue, was to stage a chemical attack that could be blamed on Assad. Note the amazingly opportune timing of the Douma attack. It occurred just a week after Trump’s mention of plans to withdraw.

This is called, of course, a false flag event. And this one, really, it maybe wins the prize as the most glaringly obvious false flag in modern history.

But: Assuming the attack did happen, did the Syrian rebels plan and pull it off by themselves? Or did they have outside help?

That’s a rather gruesome question to be asking, one many won’t even like to pose, as it points to possible Western involvement. But how can we know the answer? At this point we can't. But if we’re looking merely at motive, again, there’s much evidence out there that Western intelligence and military elites have sought for years to find means of overthrowing the Assad government.

In any case, we need to keep our heads about us. We need to be thinking clearly. These issues are matters of life and death; and given Russia’s stake in Syria, and how the events there fit into growing Western tensions with Russia, the circle of death could potentially widen to include all of us.

To assume that Assad ordered the Douma attack is to assume that he is not merely a despot, but that he is a despot with a 41 IQ. This Assad is the same leader who managed to hold the Syrian capital during seven years of a brutal civil war. Yet he’s also enough of a moron to shoot himself in the foot, in broad daylight, with a double-barrel shotgun? Assad is on the verge of winning the war, and the biggest guns against him, those provided by the US, would soon have been gone.

For Assad, the attack in Douma makes no psychological or cognitive sense. This fact must be kept front and center, as it is one that points to a larger truth too many of us are missing. Namely: Our rivals on the world stage may be treacherous, even evil, but they are not drooling idiots. Russia is not ruled by idiots, nor is Syria. Had either state been run by utter morons, it would have been overthrown by now.

The story of the Douma attack presented in our media is predicated upon an utterly shallow, cartoonish notion of our rivals. We need to stop believing in the cartoon villains our elites present to us. Hell, even cartoon villains are smarter than Assad was--if he ordered that attack.

Breathtaking in all this was the immediacy and unanimity of the Western call for reprisals. Our corporate media, our government officials, our Congress, both sides of the aisle--all were suddenly on the same page. Assad must be shown a lesson.

How can we explain this unanimity? In corporate media, as far as I know, only one voice dared to speak plain truth: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s healhty skepticism and sanity deserves a nationwide hats off. Watch:



The very speed to verdict, the very unanimity of our elites, only suggests all the more that the story is fishy. The only organization that could have possibly provided evidence as to what happened in Douma, the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was just yesterday preparing to visit the site. Isn’t it interesting that the US, Britain and France decided to quickly pull off their strikes against Assad before the OPCW had time to investigate? If I didn’t have such respect for our elites, I’d be tempted to say that it almost looks like they didn’t really want to know what the OPCW might find.

There’s been plenty of evidence of a recent and growing Deep State push to go to war with Russia and its allies. The Skripal poisoning in London on March 4th is almost certainly part of this concerted effort. Attempting to poison Skripal and his daughter served no purpose for Putin and made no sense in terms of timing and execution. The only thing it succeeded in doing was giving Britain and her allies an opportunity to demonize the Russian government and expel diplomats.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

But if the official story on the Skripal poisoning is full of holes, our official narrative of Assad’s chemical attack is no more than one big hole. There’s no story there even to have holes. If I weren’t seeing it unfold before my eyes, I’d find it hard to believe our elites would dare pull off such a clumsy sleight of hand. How can they expect to get away with it?

Oh, wait, I know how. Our elites assume that most of their citizenry couldn’t find Syria on a map and are too busy in any case stuffing their faces with mounds of french fries and watching Dancing with the Stars to care one way or another. Sadly, in this our elites are probably right.

So why did President Trump go along with it, calling for the missile strikes? Hadn’t he just announced intentions to pull out of Syria? Hadn’t he indicated during the campaign that he wanted America involved in no more Middle-Eastern hell holes? Hadn’t he even said, bravely and I think rightly, that it would have been better if we’d allowed Saddam Hussein to remain in power and not created the horrible mess that brought the world ISIS and so much else?

Problem is, Trump is between a rock and a hard place. This month’s chemical attack at Douma, though fishy as all hell, more or less forced his hand. Inside his own government are deeply-entrenched interests that want the war in the Middle East to continue. He knew his announcement of withdrawal plans would irk these people. At the same time, he has been hounded since before even the inauguration with the absurd accusation that he is somehow a Russian puppet, a man put in office by, uh, $70,000 of Russian-bought Facebook ads. It’s laughable, I know. But keep in mind the Dancing with the Stars factor. Trump knows there are tens of millions of American voters who actually believe in Russiagate, there’s a CNN/NYT/WaPo media axis daily treating the story as legit, and there’s the Mueller investigation to boot, dragging on endlessly. So Trump had to do something.

It’s a sad fact that leading a democratic country in the age of instant information is more often a kind of ongoing improv theater performance than it is a matter of forging rational policy meant to address real problems. But a fact it is. If what we are hearing so far is correct, then Trump’s new rain of missiles on Syria will not be followed by pursuit of the insane policy of the neocons and the likes of Nancy Pelosi. America will not be seeking to actually remove the regime in Damascus. At least I pray that’s the case. Trump needed to throw something out there to appease the ravening wolves all around him, to shut them up. I’m praying he leaves it at that.

Will Russia undertake some kind of response in retaliation? They have more or less announced that they will. What might it be? A quick seizure of the Baltic States on the North Sea that used to be part of the Soviet Union? That would lead to direct Russian conflict with NATO, which, again, could lead to nuclear war. In any case, we can be sure Putin is himself feeling obliged to respond. Not to do so is to lose part of his credibility with his own people. Provided the West’s actions against Syria are limited to these strikes, however, Putin’s response may be muted.

In any case, these are not games we want to be playing. President Trump should stick to his guns on No more regime change in the Middle East. This is what he promised, and this is what the voters who put him in office demand. If Trump can't stand up to the Deep State and the neocon apologists that swarm Washington, his legacy as an outsider will be lost.

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.

Friday, April 13, 2018

More on “Dialogue” According to the Academic Left


Rod Dreher has written many a good piece on what is happening to American education under the daft and authoritarian regime of the SJWs. On April 3, he posted on “The Ideological Corruptions of Scholarship”, then immediately followed it up with a detailed letter from a young academic who decided to throw in the towel rather than conform to the SJWs’ preferred discourse and priorities.

The American Conservative, Dreher’s main outlet, also posts his articles on their Facebook page. The commentary these posts draw, unlike the often brilliant and varied commentary one finds at the original TAC posts, is often shabby and sniping and cheap. I sometimes weigh in when comments sink to a certain level of shallow. It’s depressing to see TAC’s Facebook posts used mainly as a punching bag for pint-sized pseudo-leftists.

This time, however, with the Facebook posting of the April 3 piece, one (presumably) young academic, Jessie M., weighed in at length, making the argument that Dreher’s reading of our campuses is wrongheaded, things aren’t nearly so bad, that he is, in short, cherrypicking. I ended up in dialogue with Jessie, and you’ll see, if you read on, how it ended.

I’m posting the whole thread, surnames effaced, beginning with a bit of sparring with guttersnipes. My reading of Jessie’s finale may of course be wrong, but I’ve a very strong hunch it’s not. Most people like this, I’ve come to learn, the hard way, if they had power simply to delete your comments, they’d do so. For the “safety” of the “community”, of course.

Eric Mader

Here’s how things started out in reaction to Dreher’s piece:

CHRIS M.: I can't imagine being so frightened of the world around me. If he weren't so willing to demonize others with differing views, I could almost feel bad for Dreher.

MICHAEL M.: can you please put the by-line in the post, I only click on these to play "guess who" with rod. i always win.

SHELLY R.: This article is by Dreher. I'm shocked.

ERIC MADER: Chris, Michael, and Shelly: Interesting that you even follow TAC. It looks like you only do so to dismiss Dreher's pieces offhand as "Oh, it's just business as usual in our universities" or "Rod is a bigoted alarmist." So your thesis is that he is making things up, writing up from scratch all the evidence of groupthink and ideological hate-mongering that he includes in his pieces? Yes?

And Chris, you really are a laugh: "demonize others with differing views"? That’s precisely what this piece is about. SJW groupthink is a monolithic ideology that promotes a mono-discourse, organizing constant activities and initiatives to enforce this mono-discourse and "out" anyone who might not be going along.

Oh, but wait, sorry, Dreher is just making all this up, including the lengthy quotes from people in academia who see what's happening.

Y'all are pathetic.

JESSIE M.: The problem is not that Dreher is making things up, but that he's cherry-picking evidence and not explaining any context.

Imagine you're a student at a university who regularly experiences messages that you don't belong there and you aren't as good as your peers, for some reason. This is not conducive to your education. You're put at a significant disadvantage in confidence and willingness to participate, to ask for help when needed, to explore activities and ideas outside of your comfort zone. Confidence is enormously important in most of life, and particularly in learning-- after all, everyone makes errors and fails, and we have tho pick ourselves back up.

Educators have a responsibility to seek out those reasons that affect students in such ways and to mitigate the effects, and to try to prevent the cause itself. It happens-- unsurprisingly-- that classism, racism, sexism, and other prejudices play a large role in undercutting many students at many universities. Workshops calling attention to how we treat each other, and how our treatment of each other relates to patterns in wider society, are important.

I think this *can* sometimes be too narrowly focused, but then why is the argument for these workshops to be eliminated rather than to have more of them on more topics? (And indeed, you will find workshops on masculinity and other topics Dreher notably excludes).

Universities are places for the exchange of ideas, and that requires respect of one another as equals. Sensitivity training may not be the best way to do that, but then suggest something else!! ("Get over it" demonstrably does not work, and is its own "monolithic ideology"). Dreher doesn't offer any solution, he just shits all over the one being tried right now, when it's really still too early to see how well it will work.

Jon Haidt has some really interesting stuff on this topic-- *much* better argued than Dreher. And in the interest of honesty, I'm an academic, but I wouldn't say I'm in some "groupthink" cult, at least not on this topic!

And I should add because it was such a ridiculous claim-- rejection of papers for conferences, etc. Is the NORM. That first example is utterly suspicious, and in any case is pure speculation from a resentful party. Not reliable evidence.

[I was surprised at the length of this comment, but as it was at least relevant, and civil, I replied cordially.]

ERIC MADER: Good points, Jessie. But my own reading is that 1) the SJW approach is way over the top; 2) it is illiberal (speech codes, microaggressions, etc.); 3) what the writer says in the second post about "woke" academic writing as largely conformist hackwork is true for a wide range of fields; and 4), and perhaps most importantly in the big picture, our SJW left is raising up its mirror image in the growing and ever more explicit racism of the Alt-Right, which, depending on how things play out in the coming decade, may not be something to sneeze at.

I think Dreher's and my own solution would be: 1) open discourse must not be shut down; 2) university administrations must not keep caving to gangs of student demagogues; 3) students and faculty must be able to challenge things like "the elimination of whiteness" and "toxic masculinity" as the racist and sexist discourse they are, rather than what happens at present, where a protective shield is built around these discourses, or they are framed as “progress” in campus-wide initiatives, woe to anyone who would protest.

Oh, and also: American university administrative budgets should be cut in HALF, at least, across the board, while more money and more stable employment should be given to the people who actually WORK: i.e. teachers and scholars.

MICHAEL M.: I can’t imagine my self-esteem being so fragile I had to defend Rod Dreher.

And lol @ “we just want to open the discourse” somehow you’ve missed Rod’s book on running away from all the discourse

Also I’m pretty sure half of AmCons online readership leans left, came for the anti-imperialism, and stuck around to make fun of Dreher. Go look at any of their FB posts

ERIC MADER: Yeah LOL. I'm just cringing here in low self-esteem. What a flake you are. No approach to the issues under debate, just little pop psychology jabs. You should be over at Teen Vogue posting. And in fact I reviewed Rod's book, which you haven't read.

MICHAEL M.: Eric wow there is a lot to unpack there. But seriously nobody “viscerally hates” you or Rod, the left has just turned you into caricatures it can laugh at.

And I have to say, we really appreciate y’all playing along. I guess ironic readers are better than nothing, amirite?

ERIC MADER: Plenty of people on the left viscerally hate Rod Dreher, and in my day I've gained plenty of visceral haters too. Although I spent most of my life on the left.

I don't find the left funny anymore, and I don't even find it in any meaningful way the left. What I see is the "left".

MICHAEL M.: i think you need them to hate you otherwise you're just shrill, fragile men shouting about the death of social systems that worshiped them to ironically entertain hipsters

ERIC MADER: Uh-huh. I'm not much interested in social systems that might worship me. I'm interested in things like 1) the continued viability of Western culture, 2) averting authoritarianism, and especially 3) the truth I recognize in Christianity. But you go enjoy your hipsterdom, okay?

JESSIE M.: Eric-- I agree with you in part for many points; I put it off onto aligning myself with Haidt since my comment was already of TLDR length.

I think there are cases that have been over the top, but I've not seen any evidence that this is the NORM in how issues are handled. What happened to the Christakises at Harvard [sic] (the email about Halloween costumes which led to both her and her spouse being spat on, harassed, and eventually fired) is always the example that comes to mind. But this was as alarming to many in the university community-- this is not something "normal" on college campuses.

Likewise, with scholarship there have been cases of concern. Rebecca Tuvel published an unpopular article and received a lot of hate, even from some people within the field (philosophy), but ultimately-- and quickly-- she won out; the majority of people in the field sided with her, even if they disagreed with her position. Haidt has given some other examples of political scientists publicly condemning the work of a colleague.

One of Dreher's weaknesses when he writes on this topic is that he treats the extreme cases as the norm when they aren't-- or at least I've seen no evidence or response to them that indicate this. Moreover, he ignores how much disagreement there is in academia, and he doesn't clearly distinguish professors from administrators. These "controversial people" have defenders from the left, from their colleagues. Hell, Margaret Atwood defended her colleague in Canada who's been mistreated from the mishandling of a sexual harassment allegation. A book was recently published on a similar situation. These cases make the news because there ISN'T groupthink. (As an aside, you'll get no argument from me that admins are paid too much and teachers too little-- I think this is a much bigger problem for education, but here I'm clearly a little biased.)

If you're up for more reading, let me try to give a tempered defense of "speech codes." Speech-police, in a sense, always has occurred. If I referred to you in a way you didn't like, I'd expect and hope you'd correct me. We correct people when they don't call us by the right name, or they mispronounce it, etc. It's a basic thing of respect that we don't deliberately call someone by the wrong name or mispronounce it.

Speech codes SHOULD be unnecessary, and I think someday they will be. (I'm an optimist.) But a lot of people--even people as young as I am-- didn't grow up in a time when we were taught very well about what kinds of words, etc. are disrespectful, at least as disrespectful as calling someone by the wrong name.

As I see it, there are two main options for making the situation better. We can tell people to get over it and just deal with the disrespect that they feel. This has the benefit of some people being able to say whatever they want. It has the downside of some people clearly NOT being able to say what they want, because it will just be dismissed-- "Get over it". The other possibility is to change the social environment to put everyone on an equal footing. Microaggressions are things that really have to be learned-- they're so easy to not notice if one isn't affected by them (hence the name). And someone who makes a microaggression isn't doing anything *Seriously* wrong, in a sense, but one or two microaggressions from a wide selection of people adds up. Imagine if you went about your workweek with everyone calling you the wrong name and using the wrong gender pronoun. I would hope you'd object.

And that's what people at universities are doing; they're collectively objecting, rather than objecting to each individual microaggressor. Where I think it goes overboard is when blame & shame get involved to an unwarranted degree (as in the Christakis case). And I think you make a good point that this is tied to mirroring the alt-right, something I also oppose. But usually this stuff isn't so dramatic, and that's due in part to workshops educating people on social skills.

ERIC MADER: Much appreciate your lengthy comments, Jessie, that make a lot of excellent points I would agree with, and a few on which I wouldn't. But as I'm busy, I haven't been able to respond yet. Tomorrow, I hope. Cheers.

JESSIE M.: I look forward to your response!

ERIC MADER: Jessie M.: I'm as close to being a free-speech absolutist as a sane person can come. What I mean by this is simple: In society at large, there should be laws only against clear, unambiguous incitement to violence. Thus I think most Western countries' "hate speech" laws are noxious. And getting worse quickly. They are noxious for the three reasons that: 1) they abridge free speech; 2) hate speech is notoriously difficult to define and will always be defined in biased ways by elites; 3) suppressing speech only makes bias and hate go underground, where it will get worse.

That goes for society at large, and in my view many Western societies are failing. As for campus communities, I think your perspective that things are not as bad as the Drehers of the world imply is generally good news, though you haven't quite convinced me. For two reasons: 1) I think that since you are already on board with much of the left-liberal interpretation of society, progress, etc. (I may be wrong about this, but just a hunch)--I think that you, like many in your shoes, aren't well-positioned even to *notice* how this interpretation increasingly excludes outlier voices. Shuts them up in fact. 2) The news of campus thought-policing keeps falling heavy and quick, and it is not getting better, but rather worse.

Re: speech codes and microaggressions on campus--and I think this may offer a good example of how you aren't noticing something essential--I agree that in campus communities, including especially classrooms, it would be entirely inappropriate and basically breaking the social contract for a professor or student to use the n-word to refer to another student. If a student in class were to say to another, "Yeah, that's just your n***** attitude talking”--then I think we have a serious problem and the basic social contract that allows civil discussion to continue has been broken. So: Speech codes of one sort or another are appropriate in corporate or classroom settings. But as for gender pronouns, any rules regarding gender pronouns, and as for nannying student populations on this absurd thing called microaggressions, I totally disagree with you.

Why should there be campus regulations forbidding someone from using racial epithets in campus settings but NOT regulations on gender pronouns? The answer is obvious. If a woman student describes herself as a "Mexican" and someone else calls her a "wetback", what they are doing is employing an insult instead of the perfectly correct and noncontroversial term. But if someone tells me his preferred gender pronoun is "xe", and I happen to believe strongly that 1) there is no such gender as xe, 2) the phenomenon of newly invented gender pronouns is a species of cultural decay I don't want to abet, and 3) the person before me is clearly male--in this case, it is *not* an insult for me to say "Sorry, I only use *he* and *she* and will use *he* to refer to you." It is not an insult because *he* is not in itself an insulting word. When I refuse to use these novel gender pronouns, I am not intending to insult anyone, I am merely insisting that *my* usage of English will express my own interpretation of the world. On this, I agree with Jordan Peterson. Since there is a sizable percentage of people who do not subscribe to the recent gender-queering interpretation of reality, for the state or universities to force people to use the language preferred by gender ideologists is authoritarian.

Yes, “xe" will feel offended. That's not my concern and it shouldn't be the concern of university administrations. There are lots of things said on American campuses that offend me, but I’m not calling for people to be censored or for their language use to be policed to conform to *my* preferred interpretation of reality.

On microaggressions, I am also very old school. As in: "So, you are tired of people asking where you are from? So what? You can live with it." Or: "So, you are tired of people referring to your beautiful curly African hair? Give me a effing break. Grow up and lean to accept others' way of making small talk." That this discourse on "microaggressions" even began is a sign of how pathetic our campuses have become.

I’m a Western man living in Asia, in a big city, I've lived here for twenty years, and not a day goes by without me getting at least three or four "microaggressions". "Where are you from?" "What are you doing here?" "Oh, you can speak Chinese!" "Isn't it hard for you to live here?" "I know you people don't like this kind of food." "This heat must be worse with so much hair on your body." Literally. But I'm not upset by it because these are people who are TALKING TO ME--i.e. trying to communicate in ways that break the ice, in ways that, for the sillier of them, show me they haven't given a thought to how OFTEN Westerners in Asia must be asked these same damn questions over and over and over, in my case thousands of times. "Do you have a Taiwanese girlfriend?" I get asked that question by men at least a few times a month. Literally. But still, I'm NEVER going to complain about such "microaggressions", because I see that when humans are racially or ethnically different from each other, they use that difference as a stepping stone to communication.

I agree with you that it is better to practice mutual listening and understanding as carefully as we can. But in the case of alternative gender pronouns and microaggressions, we are *not* dealing with mutual listening and understanding. With the former, we are dealing with the imposition of a certain sexual anthropology, one I and many other people reject utterly. With the latter, we are dealing with crybaby minority groups who want to be proud of their minority status while simultaneously ensuring that nobody ever brings it up in ways they might find boring or annoying. Crybabies who want to have their cake and eat it too and then yell at the baker because he ain't woke enough.

As a rather traditionalist Christian keenly interested in furthering and defending what is good in Western culture, and as a supporter of free speech, I can assure you that I would likely not be able to hold down a job on an American campus at present. I might make efforts to get along, but I still wouldn't survive. Because I've got too much of a mouth on me. If I were to see a group of BLM students carrying a poster that denigrated that abstract thing they call "whiteness", I would consider it my right to challenge it aloud.

"Oh, yeah. So whiteness is a problem?" I'd ask.

"Yes! THE problem," they'd say.

"Well, what about the serious problem of blackness?" I'd ask ironically.

I ask you honesty: If any young professor on your campus were to do that, even in ironic tit for tat, wouldn't there be an uproar? Wouldn't he or she have made a virtually fatal mistake that, if caught on cell phone, would bring down the roof upon his/her head? If so, your campus doesn't enough respect freedom of discourse for me.

Looking forward to hearing any reply you may have. Cheers.

[No reply. Four days later I posted the following;]

ERIC MADER: Well, Jessie M., I read your TLDR comments, and replied in detail. You too busy, or am I to understand it's the usual reason I'm getting crickets here?

[Two days later:]

ERIC MADER: Jessie M.: After your lengthy comments about making space for different voices, your decision to drop this dialogue cold, leaving only crickets, only demonstrates my point. Congratulations.

[And so ends yet another dialogue on “dialogue” according to the left.]

Have some deadpan with your coffee. Check out Idiocy, Ltd. Dryest humor in the west.