Part of yesterday's harvest (long and varied)

Andrew Sullivan has been disinvited from writing for New York Magazine. From his remarkably sanguine farewell column:

[M]aybe it’s worth pointing out that “conservative” in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November.

It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated. And that’s fine. We have freedom of association in this country, and if the mainstream media want to cut ties with even moderate anti-Trump conservatives, because they won’t bend the knee to critical theory’s version of reality, that’s their prerogative.

Andrew Sullivan: See You Next Friday

Whatever you call it, “it” is currently trying to “cancel” Steven Pinker.

[W]hether I agree with anything Pinker says — whether any of us do, really — is beside the point. What struck me most, reading about the coordinated attack on his integrity, is something Pinker said in his own defense.

“I have a mind-set that the world is a complex place we are trying to understand,” he said. “There is an inherent value to free speech, because no one knows the solution to problems a priori.”

That’s such a familiar sentiment, I thought. Where have I heard it before?

And then I remembered: Oh, right, it’s what we used to call liberalism.

Liberals are supposed to believe that the freedom to dissent is an essential part of a functioning democracy. More points of view lead to a better grasp of complex problems. Liberals believe that the price of that freedom is the tolerance of ideas we may find self-evidently wrong, or even odious.

Matt Bai, Call it the cultural left. Do not call it liberal. (The Washington Post).

I was particularly struck by one change that seems, at first glance, wildly out of place in a document that is decidedly unwoke: “The Departments propose to make clear,” the new rule states, “that pernicious cultural stereotypes have no place in the adjudication of applications for asylum … Accordingly, the proposed rule would bar consideration of evidence promoting cultural stereotypes of countries or individuals.”

The President has infamously derided Mexican immigrants as murderers and rapists and banned citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. So, why is his administration suddenly desperate to stop people from stereotyping other cultures?

The answer has to do with the role that “evidence promoting cultural stereotypes” might play when adjudicating an application for asylum. For example, a large number of Russian citizens are openly anti-gay. The law only goes so far in criminalizing homosexuality but significant numbers of gays and lesbians have been blackmailed or physically attacked. How, under these circumstances, could a refugee from Russia convince an asylum adjudicator that he or she was in genuine danger without saying anything that would “promote cultural stereotypes” by implying that a significant number of Russians are homophobic?

The most talented and experienced lawyers might be able to walk this tightrope. But the vast majority of asylum seekers don’t have access to formal representation and are supposed to make their cases unassisted. The likelihood that an asylum seeker might present his case in an imperfectly sensitive manner while pleading for his life is rather high—if he even knew that he wasn’t allowed to say anything that could be construed as promoting cultural stereotypes in the first place.

The cynicism of this ploy is hard to beat. Though the proposed regulation co-opts the language of the social justice left, its effect is to facilitate the delivery of apostates, dissidents, sexual minorities, and women back into the hands of the people who are trying to kill them.

Make no mistake: The fault lies squarely with the Trump administration. Its attempt to deport the most vulnerable people from illiberal societies in the name of combating “pernicious stereotypes” is a perfect encapsulation of its trolling approach to governance. This is the dynamic Jean-Paul Sartre describes in Anti-Semite and Jew: “They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves.”

Leon Kraiem, Social Injustice Warriors (Persuasion)

I’m kind of a Russophile, so I’m biased against his example, but I don’t have a better explanation for the “unwoke” language.

In August, 2005, Rolling Stone sent me to cover a freak show. In a small Pennsylvania town called Dover, residents contrived to insert a sentence about teaching “intelligent design” into the curriculum, and fought for its right to do so in an extravagantly-covered trial in the “big city” capital of Harrisburg.

Fifteen years later, America is a thousand Dovers, and the press response is silence. This time it’s not a few Podunk school boards under assault by junk science and crackpot theologies, but Princeton University, the New York Times, the Smithsonian, and a hundred other institutions.

When the absurdity factor rocketed past Dover levels this week, the nation’s leading press organs barely commented, much less laughed. Doing so would have meant opening the floodgates on a story most everyone in media sees but no one is allowed to comment upon: that the political right and left in America have traded villainous cultural pathologies. Things we once despised about the right have been amplified a thousand-fold on the flip.

Today Matt Yglesias signing a group letter with Noam Chomsky is considered threatening. Moreover a lot less than booking a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit can get you in the soup – a headline, a retweet, even likes are costing people jobs …

The notion that such bugbears as as time, data, and the written word are racist has caught fire across the United States in the last few weeks, igniting calls for an end to virtually every form of quantitative evaluation in hiring and admissions, including many that were designed specifically to combat racism … What to make of the campaign to end blind auditions for musical positions, which the New York Philharmonic began holding in the early seventies in response to complaints of discrimination?

Before blind auditions, women made up less than 6 percent of orchestras; today they’re half of the New York Philharmonic. But because the change did not achieve similar results with Black and Hispanic musicians, the blind audition must now be “altered to take into fuller account artists’ backgrounds and experiences.”

At Princeton, the situation was even more bizarre. On July 4th, hundreds of faculty members and staff at Princeton University signed a group letter calling for radical changes.

Some demands seem reasonable, like requests to remedy University-wide underrepresentation among faculty members of color. Much of the rest of the letter read like someone drunk-tweeting their way through a Critical Theory seminar …

The Princeton letter didn’t make much news until a Classics professor named Joshua Katz wrote a public “Declaration of Independence” from the letter. Playing the same role as the Dover science teacher who feebly warned that teaching Intelligent Design would put the district at odds with a long list of Supreme Court decisions, Katz said it boggled his mind that anyone could ask for compensation “perks” based on race, especially for “extraordinarily privileged people already, let me point out: Princeton professors.”

Matt Taibbi, The Left is Now the Right

The AP explains why it is capitalizing “black” but not “white” when referring to people’s “race.”

There was clear desire and reason to capitalize Black. Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world.

Nonsense. What do a Christian Kenyan, a Muslim Nigerian, a Rwandan Tutsi, an Ethiopian Jew living in Israel, an African-American of partial Native American and European heritage, and an Afro-Brazilian of mixed Portuguese and African descent have in common, culturally and historically? The correct answer is nothing. The only thing they have in common is ancestral roots in Africa, and dark skin.

David Bernstein, Do “People Who Are Black Have Strong Historical and Cultural Commonalities” Regardless of Where They are from and Where They Live? (

Thank you, Professor Bernstein. Someone needed to say that. Too many of our elites are insane, others mute and terrified to name it. In a saner age, the AP’s excuse would have been seen for the crude racism it is.

[C.S.] Lewis offers this observation:

It looks to me … as though we shall have to set about becoming true Pagans if only as a preliminary to becoming Christians. … For (in a sense) all that Christianity adds to Paganism is the cure. It confirms the old belief that in this universe we are up against Living Power: that there is a real Right and that we have failed to obey it: that existence is beautiful and terrifying. It adds a wonder of which Paganism had not distinctly heard—that the Mighty One has come down to help us, to remove our guilt, to reconcile us.

The disenchanted, secularized Christianity of the modern world, moves about in a world of things, empty and inert. The only “forces” that seem to garner any regard are those mysterious “market forces” that seem to guide the fortunes of the world. The world has become a commodity, measured by its usefulness for business. Of all the religions that have ever existed on the planet, it is perhaps the least attractive in the end. Its collapse will quickly follow (or even precede) the collapse of the present economic system – something likely at some point in the future. The growing number of “nones” represent not the collapse of Christianity, but the inadequacy of secularized Christianity.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, Praying God Within Us

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the creator.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgement of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim
In obedience to the Angels,
In the service of the Archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of Holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun
Brilliance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s host to secure me
against snares of devils
against temptations of vices
against inclinations of nature
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me and these evils
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of heathenry,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.

Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Thrones,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator.

Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of the Lord
Salvation is of Christ
May thy salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

(Via Fr. Stephen Freeman, Praying God Within Us)

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