There's a Bad Moon on the Rise

[We actually do not]

That eye candy du jour is from Robert Graboyes at Bastiat's Window, who discusses Antisemitism's Sharp Left Turn. He addresses is "friends on the left":

You’ve told me countless times over many years that antisemitism is almost exclusively a right-wing phenomenon, but events since October 7 indicate strongly that a far greater threat to the happiness, health, and safety of Jews comes from your left-wing allies. While Hamas was still live-streaming acts of rape, torture, mutilation, murder, kidnapping, and necrophilia on innocents; before Israel lifted a finger in response; throngs of your allies flooded streets, campuses, airwaves, and social media to rejoice. Still more of your friends hung their heads low to avoid offending the celebrants, who are vital components of your electoral base. A modest number of courageous souls on the left have sounded the alarm that when mobs cry out for the torment of Jews, the call is coming from inside the progressive house.

I’ve never disputed nor minimized your concern over right-wing antisemitism. But when I’ve offered that leftist antisemitism is as big a problem or bigger, your response has been a ballet of head-scratching, shoulder-shrugging, brow-furrowing, eye-rolling, arm-waving, face-reddening, and body-shaking—with wails of indignation.

After two months of depravity across the West, it’s obvious that the greater problem today lies on the left. Right-wing antisemitism today comes mostly in two forms: (1) off-putting remarks and irritating attitudes by otherwise normal people who have little or no particular power over Jewish lives, and (2) wild-eyed conspiracies and episodic violence by small numbers of marginal loners. Left-wing antisemitism, in sharp contrast, is highly organized and endemic among swarms of people endowed with considerable power over the daily lives of Jewish Americans.

I've tried hard to follow the Costello rule: be amused instead of disgusted. Those folks down in Cambridge seem to want to make that as hard as possible.

Also of note:

  • Don't know much geography7 Ron E. Hassner demonstrates that the college kids literally (and I mean that literally) don't know what they're talking about: From Which River to Which Sea?.

    When college students who sympathize with Palestinians chant “From the river to the sea,” do they know what they’re talking about? I hired a survey firm to poll 250 students from a variety of backgrounds across the U.S. Most said they supported the chant, some enthusiastically so (32.8%) and others to a lesser extent (53.2%).

    But only 47% of the students who embrace the slogan were able to name the river and the sea. Some of the alternative answers were the Nile and the Euphrates, the Caribbean, the Dead Sea (which is a lake) and the Atlantic. Less than a quarter of these students knew who Yasser Arafat was (12 of them, or more than 10%, thought he was the first prime minister of Israel). Asked in what decade Israelis and Palestinians had signed the Oslo Accords, more than a quarter of the chant’s supporters claimed that no such peace agreements had ever been signed. There’s no shame in being ignorant, unless one is screaming for the extermination of millions.

    I am slightly relieved that nobody said it meant from the Connecticut River to the Atlantic Ocean. I would find that personally problematic.

  • Teach your children well. The Economist reveals that One in five young Americans thinks the Holocaust is a myth.

    [myth is not as good as a mile]

    On December 5th, for over five hours, lawmakers grilled the presidents of elite universities in a congressional hearing about antisemitism on college campuses. In one of the testiest exchanges a Republican congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, asked whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” violates university rules. It is “context-dependent”, replied Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania. Clips of the exchange went viral on X, formerly Twitter. Yad Vashem, a Holocaust museum and research centre, issued a condemnation and stressed the importance of “raising awareness about the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust”.

    A new poll from YouGov/The Economist suggests that Yad Vashem has its work cut out. Young Americans—or at least the subset of them who take part in surveys—appear to be remarkably ignorant about one of modern history’s greatest crimes. Some 20% of respondents aged 18-29 think that the Holocaust is a myth, compared with 8% of those aged 30-44 (see chart). An additional 30% of young Americans said they do not know whether the Holocaust is a myth. Many respondents espouse the canard that Jews wield too much power in America: young people are nearly five times more likely to think this than are those aged 65 and older (28% versus 6%).

    I'm sure most of those kids know who Harriet Tubman was, though. There's only so much time in the school day.

  • Hey, baby, I'm your handyman. Bari Weiss has some ideas, and they couldn't be implemented soon enough: How to Really Fix American Higher Education.

    A quick thought experiment: imagine if large numbers of students and professors had marched through the campus of Penn over the past two months saying that all black people should go back to Africa and whoever remains should be subjected to genocide. Should the president of Penn defend those people merely as exercising their rights to free speech?

    I think that it would be monstrous to do so.

    Bold stand, Bari!

    You should click over and read her recommendations, though. Spoiler: Number One is something I've noticed a bunch of people calling for: End DEI. Yes!

    (I can also get behind her other advice: End Double Standards on Speech; Hire Professors Committed to the Pursuit of Truth (and Allergic to Illiberal Ideologies); and Eliminate the Ideology That Replaced Truth as Higher Education’s North Star.

    Well, almost. I don't know that "eliminate" is the right verb. I'd go with "ridicule" and "refute". Given the other remedies, that should be enough.

    And (for goodness sake) read something else, for example…

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-16 5:29 AM EDT

Social Justice Fallacies

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

I could have read this book via Portsmouth (NH) Public Library; they do a decent job of picking up books from all over the political map.

And I could have saved a few bucks by getting the Kindle version.

But instead I sprang for the hardcover, simply to put a few more shekels in Thomas Sowell's pocket. I like him that much. I still have the first Sowell book I bought, Knowledge & Decisions, purchased back in the early 1980s. (I'm too lazy to get out the tape measure to find out how much shelf space is being taken up by Sowell books. Trust me, it's a lot.)

It's a short book, 130 pages of main text. 58 pages of notes, 13 page index, and some blank pages at the end. Maybe that's unexpectedly short; the title certainly describes a vast subject range. But, as I type, Sowell is 93 years old, and I'll take what I can get.

And, truth be told, there's not a lot new here for Sowell fans; he's hitting the same themes he's played for decades, rearranged in terms of the common "fallacies" the social justice warriors employ in arguing for their schemes. A quick tour:

"Equal Chances" Fallacies: Sowell has long argued against the assumption that disparities in outcomes prove that invidious oppressive forces are at work. Not so.

Racial Fallacies: in a special case of the above, various explanations of differing statistical outcomes of different races are examined and found wanting. Sowell throws cold water on "genetic determinism", an explanation favored by "progressives" back in the day.

Chess Pieces Fallacies: Maybe it's not the best title, but it's inspired by Adam Smith's observation of the "man of system", who "seem to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board." Sowell comments:

Interior decorators arrage. Governments compel. This is not a subtle distinction.

Another Sowellian comment about one of the more popular proposals of "arranging" society:

There is no question that governments, or even local looters, can redistribute wealth to some extent.

Knowledge Fallacies: A deep Hayek-inspired dive into the "fatal conceit": that those "men of system" have all the information needed to direct social forces to their will; all they need is more power to do so. Sowell's bottom line:

Stupid people can create problems, but it often takes brilliant people to create a real catastrophe.
Words, Deeds, and Dangers: a summary of what Sowell has called the "unconstrained vision" of those crusaders for "cosmic justice" causing damage and ill-will instead. And, Sowell points out, those crusaders seem immune to pesky facts, and they bear no penalty when their well-intentioned schemes fail to work. Instead, they double down on their bad bets.

Bottom line: it's a fine, short, summary of Sowell's major lifetime themes.

Last Modified 2024-01-09 9:06 AM EDT