Understanding Student Mobbists

My gut reaction is that these student mobbists manage to combine snowflake fragility and lynch mob irrationalism into one perfectly poisonous cocktail.

.. I came of age in the 1980s. In that time, there was an assumption that though the roots of human society were deep in tribalism, over the past 3,000 years we have developed a system of liberal democracy that gloriously transcended it, that put reason, compassion and compromise atop violence and brute force.

.. sophisticated people in those days wanted to be seen, to use Scott Alexander’s term, as mistake theorists. Mistake theorists believe that the world is complicated and most of our troubles are caused by error and incompetence, not by malice or evil intent.

.. Mistake theorists also believe that most social problems are hard and that obvious perfect solutions are scarce. Debate is essential. You bring different perspectives and expertise to the table. You reduce passion and increase learning. Basically, we’re all physicians standing over a patient with a very complex condition and we’re trying to collectively figure out what to do.

.. The idea for decades was that racial justice would come when we reduced individual bigotry — the goal was colorblind individualism. As Nils Gilman argues in The American Interest, that ideal reached its apogee with the election of Barack Obama.

.. But Obama’s election also revealed the limits of that ideal. Now the crucial barriers to racial justice are seen not just as individual, but as structural economic structures, the incarceration crisis, the breakdown of family structure.

.. The second thing that happened was that reason, apparently, ceased to matter. Today’s young people were raised within an educational ideology that taught them that individual reason and emotion were less important than perspectivismwhat perspective you bring as a white man, a black woman, a transgender Mexican, or whatever.

These students were raised with the idea that individual reason is downstream from group identity. Then along came the 2016 election to validate that point of view! If reason and deliberation are central to democracy, how on earth did Donald Trump get elected?

.. If you were born after 1990, it’s not totally shocking that you would see public life as an inevitable war of tribe versus tribe. It’s not surprising that you would become, in Scott Alexander’s terminology, a conflict theorist, not a mistake theorist.

In the conflict theorist worldview, most public problems are caused not by errors or complexity, but by malice and oppression. The powerful few keep everyone else down. The solutions to injustice and suffering are simple and obvious: Defeat the powerful. Passion is more important than reason because the oppressed masses have to mobilize to storm the barricades. Debate is counterproductive because it dilutes passion and sows confusion. Discordant ideas are not there to inform; they are there to provide cover for oppression.

.. So I’d just ask them to take two courses. The first would be in revolutions — the French, Russian, Chinese and all the other ones that unleashed the passion of the mob in an effort to overthrow oppression — and the way they ALL wound up waist deep in blood.

The second would be in constitutionalism. We dump on lawyers, but the law is beautiful, living proof that we can rise above tribalism and force — proof that the edifice of civilizations is a great gift, which our ancestors gave their lives for.

.. Our new generation was never taught how to communicate outside it’s own tribe. And failure to learn how to do that will not bode well for their future or ours.
.. I have spent my entire adult life on college campuses, and I would say that most students do not subscribe to mobbism or tribalism. Alas, I would say apathy is far more common than protest, and that most students are unlikely to know that Christina Hoff Sommers is even speaking on campus, to have an opinion about her ideas, or to attend. I see few protests, flyers, or petitions on campus these days. Instead, I see harried students who work part-time, struggle to pay tuition, and are anxious about landing a decent job when they graduate.

The Museum of the Bible Is a Safe Space for Christian Nationalists

a recent gathering at the museum featuring speakers who intend to “transform nations” by “igniting a holy reformation in every sphere of society,”

.. “We wholeheartedly believe the Museum of the Bible represents an ‘Ark of the Covenant’ for our nation, bearing witness to his goodness,”

.. A typical museum might invite visitors to explore the multiple meanings of the Bible and the complex history of its reception in different cultures over time. But this museum is not the place for that kind of inquiry; you’re here to celebrate.

.. The museum is a safe space for Christian nationalists, and that is the key to understanding its political mission.

.. Its subtler task is to embed a certain set of assumptions in the landscape of the capital.

.. Mr. Drollinger believes that social welfare programs “have no basis in Scripture,” that Christians in government have an obligation to hire only Christians and that women should not be allowed to teach grown men.

.. He lays out his thinking in a 2013 book, “Rebuilding America: The Biblical Blueprint.”

.. The “institution of the state” is “an avenger of wrath,” he explains, and its “God-given responsibility” is “to moralize a fallen world through the use of force.”

.. participants in his groups, however, aren’t just anybody. They include Mike Pompeo, the director of the C.I.A.; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Vice President Mike Pence; Betsy DeVos

.. the message that national unity can be achieved only through a religious “awakening” and allegiance to conservative Christianity.

.. to inspire confidence in the absolute authority and reliability of the Bible.”

.. When Steve Green, the museum’s founder and the president of the Hobby Lobby crafts chain, formed the museum’s parent organization in 2010, he informed the I.R.S.

.. the location of this museum was an act of symbolic and practical genius. If you’re going to build a Christian nation, this is where you start.

 

Kick Against the Pricks

It turns out that in the tallest skyscrapers and plushest hotels of the most advanced economies, many high-profile men have been acting the part of feudal lords, demanding droit du seigneur from their vassals, the vassals in this case being their female employees and others wishing entry into their fiefdoms. Evidently there’s been a covert system of taxation on female advancement in the work world, with the unluckier among us obligated to render not just the usual fealty demanded by overweening bosses but varying degrees of sexual homage too, from ego-stroking and fluffing (which is gross enough), to being grabbed and groped, to the expectation of silence about full-on rape.

.. historians have written extensively on the importance of gossip and its venues, such as coffeehouses, in fomenting previous revolutions

.. Every revolution has its weapons of choice—once it was muskets and guillotines, this time around it’s “sharing” and media exposure. It wasn’t heads that were rolling, it was careers: contracts yanked, deals canceled, agents quitting, e-mail accounts shuttered.

.. When the Times recently compiled the names of twenty-four prominent men accused of sexual harassment, it did rather bring to mind the spectacle of heads on a pike in a public square

.. If recent events tell us anything, it’s that power is a social agreement, not a stable entity. The despots had power because they did things that were socially valued and profitable, but the terms of the agreement can shift abruptly.

.. Social upheavals like the current one—chaotic and improvised, yet destined—happen when certain echelons retract their consent to existing conditions and make new demands. Gramsci calls it “war of position.” Toppling power isn’t about storming the Bastille these days, it’s about changing the way people talk and think. If our upheavals come dressed in different garb, creating a crisis of authority for those in power is still how the world changes.

.. But speaking of unlikely agents, that one of the more significant battlefield wins recently was achieved by a former Miss America, Gretchen Carlson, is tough for those who’d prefer their feminist victories to come from women with better feminist credentials.

.. Unfortunately you won’t learn any of this from Be Fierce—you don’t get $20 million without a nondisclosure agreement.

.. It’s from Sherman we learn that Carlson secretly recorded her meetings with Ailes on her phone for a year and a half—including his remark that the two of them should have had sex long ago to resolve their differences, spoken sometime before she was fired (after an eleven-year stint as a newscaster) and sometime after she lodged complaints about the climate of sexism at Fox, for which Ailes labeled her a “man hater” and demoted her.

.. The less job security you have, the worse it is; fast food workers are especially vulnerable.

.. Women who come forward are likely to be passed over for promotions and good assignments, or find their jobs mysteriously eliminated.

.. On rare occasions when a boss-harasser is actually fired, the woman who brought him down often gets treated like a leper by his allies. The majority of those who report harassment end up in different jobs, which makes it understandable that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 70 percent of women who are harassed don’t report it.

.. Have a plan before you go to HR or you’ll find your options predetermined; you may have a mandatory arbitration clause in your employment contract you don’t know about

.. Trump himself boasts of barging into dressing rooms in the Miss Teen USA contest to gape at unclothed teenage girls. Upon purchasing the Miss USA franchise, he says, he “made the heels higher and the bathing suits smaller.”

.. The “idealized pedestal” Miss America gets put on is itself a form of disempowerment, Carlson eventually came to realize. True, and if you flip to your local Fox affiliate, you’ll see the same compliant femininity distilled to its purest iteration. Like beauty contestants, the women of Fox are hired on the basis of looks, then laminated into near mannequins.

.. The point is that the way Ailes expected “his” women to dress makes clear the role they were expected to play: receptacles

.. If those who signed on had difficulty speaking out about harassment in the workplace because they felt shame regarding the trade-offs they’d made—and many have said that they did—shame is what women are meant to feel in this equation.

.. The convenience of misogyny is that men are spared from hating themselves because they have women to hate instead.

.. You want to know when to tell someone to shut up and when to jump out of a moving car.

This would also involve the ability to distinguish between force and power.

.. Those who didn’t buy into it seem to have fared better. The actress Lupita Nyong’o recalled several encounters with Weinstein in an essay for The New York Times. When he trotted out his familiar moves, she refused to play the expected role: when he asked to give her a massage, she turned the tables and gave him one instead, consciously putting herself in control of the situation. When he tried taking off his pants, she walked to the door, not giving him the satisfaction of seeming intimidated. And he backed down. She seems to have understood that Weinstein may have had power over her career, but he didn’t have power over her, and making that distinction gave her more options for negotiating a bad situation.

.. Anthony Weiner has been the public face of the sexual tic for some years now: a man of demonstrable intelligence under the sway of a compulsion so intellectually disabling that after a string of previous life-wrecking exposures, he still allowed himself to be set up once again, this time by a fifteen-year-old. Anyone could have seen from ten miles away that it was a frame—anyone but Weiner, that is. (The girl later said she was trying to influence the course of the 2016 presidential election, which she probably did—James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails after seizing Weiner’s computer once his new friend turned him in.)

.. feminist Dorothy Dinnerstein’s The Mermaid and the Minotaur (1976): the problem for men is that they had mothers.

.. Mother-dominated child-rearing, thought Dinnerstein, is the reason behind men’s loathing of women and everything culturally inscribed as female

.. men can’t give up ruling the world until women cease to have a monopoly on ruling childhood. To push Dinnerstein’s speculations to an even gloomier place: do mothers take out on their sons the abuses they themselves have suffered at the hands of men?

..  Online feminism is itself a playground of bullying and viperishness, most of it under the banner of rectitude.

 

Tillerson’s fall could turn State into a hawk’s nest

The centerboard of this administration’s foreign policy team will remain Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, still steady in balancing competing views. But there will be a lot more sail aloft, adding speed and also danger. The changes will likely be seen as a signal of greater U.S. willingness to use force, which will increase anxieties at home and abroad about possible conflict with North Korea and Iran.

.. Mike Pompeo, the feisty and politically ambitious CIA director who is likely headed to State, is the un-Tillerson. He’s flamboyant where Tillerson is guarded, sharp and sometimes snarky where Tillerson is reticent. He’s a far better communicator than Tillerson, and he’ll probably do better conveying to Congress, the public and U.S. allies his version of diplomacy than does Tillerson, whose dislike for his job is palpable.
 
.. The atmospherics will be a more activist, hawkish, extroverted U.S. foreign policy. Pompeo is good at the things Tillerson isn’t.

.. Mattis and Tillerson have been joined at the hip on most policy issues, especially North Korea. They presented a formidable united front in the Situation Room; the power axis may now shift a bit, because of the chemistry between Trump and Pompeo.

.. Pompeo has been aggressively developing covert options for North Korea, but he probably agrees with Tillerson that there is no “silver bullet” for solving this problem.

.. Tillerson’s plan to convene in Canada a meeting of the “sending states,” the 15 U.S. allies that sent troops to fight North Korea in 1950 under a U.N. Security Council resolution. Mattis was the first to endorse this idea publicly, and he still backs it strongly.

.. The wild card in the new team is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), reputed to be the president’s choice to replace Pompeo as CIA director. Cotton has played an outsize policy role in recent months, especially in shaping Iran strategy. He cultivates the image of a hard man, lanky, laconic and Arkansas-tough. Like Pompeo, he combines book smarts with a high tolerance for risk. Pyongyang and Tehran should be worried. This team has not been selected to manage compromise.

.. U.S. allies will probably be worried, too. Tillerson was liked and trusted by key allies and seen as a check on Trump’s impulsiveness.

.. Most successful CIA directors quickly learn how much they don’t know; humility is part of the job description, along with boldness.

.. In the early months of the Trump administration, the Mattis-Tillerson alliance led many analysts to say that the “adults” were in charge of foreign policy, and that their influence checked the tweet-happy president. Trump hated that formulation. Now he’ll have a new team, one that is tuned more closely to his pitch.