While Making Your Afternoon Listening Plans

Please tune in to AM1280 this afternoon from 4-6PM for a special broadcast about Critical Race Theory in Minnesota, and what you and I can do about it.

It’ll feature:

  • Kendall Qualls and Alfrieda Baldwin from “Take Charge Minnesota”
  • Catrin Wigfall from the Center of the American Experiment
  • Rebekah Hagstrom from “Education Nation”.

We’ll be having the actual conversation that the CRT crowd plays lip service to.

I’ll be moderating the discussion.

Hope you can listen in!

Way Too Good To Fact-Check

A lot of people are yukking it up over this story – yep, including me the other day. You recall it – Italian “artist” selling an “invisible sculpture” / block of air / “vacuum full of energy” for $18,000.

“The vacuum is nothing more than a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and there is nothing left, according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, that ‘nothing’ has a weight,” Garau said of the statue according to as.com. “Therefore, it has energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us.”

Italy 24 News reported that per Garau’s instructions, the sculpture must be displayed in a private home free from any obstruction, in an area that is about 5 ft. long by 5 ft. wide. Because the piece does not exist, there are no special lighting or climate requirements.

The story was, to say the least, thinly sourced, to the point where the BS meter is howling.

On the other hand? This, along with the “dumpster fire” last week in Uptown Minneapolis, is the ultimate metaphor for society today.

It’s a cube of nothing – that means whatever the viewer can conjure from it.

It’s no different than “woke”-ism. Or “Critical Race Theory” . Or “Whiteness” theory. All of them are conclusions that are left to the viewer to fill in any way they want.

Signore Garau may be a garbage artist, and a con man extraordinare – even if you assume the story isn’t a hoax (and I’m abou 50-50 – mixing wealthy Frenchmen and dubious “art” is never completely implausible.

But the metaphor he is alleged to have constructed may be the best bit of literature, or at least the best bit of (unintentional?) literary symbolism of the year.

Whether it happened or not.

Novel Concept

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:\

I missed this earlier.  Sarah Johnson has proposed a ‘race offender registry.”  The idea is that people who are racists (actual, accused or suspected) should be prohibited from living near racial minorities.  It’s based on the sex offender registry concept.  Her idea is back in the news because Ms. Johnson was accidentally injured in a drive-by shooting.  Honestly, I didn’t know they had those in England, what with guns being banned and all. 

In honor of her bravery and sacrifice, I’d like to give her concept a try.  I’d be willing to live in a community entirely made up of suspected or potential racists: White people only, no Black people at all to ensure no possibility of racism or microaggression.  I envision a large mixed-use development with housing, retail, and casual dining areas called “lunch counters.”  Our community motto will be: “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and I already have a great idea for a flag.

We’ll call it ‘Alabama.’

Joe Doakes

Watching to see the Cathy Newman-ing in 3…2…1…

Urban Progressive Privilege: In Which I Defend A Cake-Eating Private School

Around the time of the Chauvin verdict, and in the wake of the Brooklyn Center shooting, a group of students at posh Creti\-Derham Hall – a private Catholic school in Saint Paul – held a walkout.

Now, that’s fine. It’s a foreign concept to me, of course – in my day, at my high school, with its principal who’d served as a Marine fighter pilot in World War 2, it was pretty well understood a student’s place was in his damn desk. I honestly think both approaches have their merits.

Now, with Cretin-Derham Hall (henceforth CDH) which charges $14,765 a year in tuition (which, even after adjusting for inflation, is about 40% more than I spent for undergrad college at a private four-year institution), there’s the added imperative with one suspects at least a few parents, to spend more time on learning and less on the social-justice chatter one sees being substituted for “Education” in the public system.

They Doth Protest Too Much

So – was it OK for the students at CDH to walk out? That’s between the students, the faculty and the ATM machines. Er, parents.

What can not be considered OK is the alleged behavior by some of the students, as related in the Pioneer Press’s story on the subject (emphasis added by me):

As the group gathered back at the school, a student organizer used a school megaphone to lead an anti-police, “F— 12” chant, which administrators quickly sought to shut down.

Meanwhile, a group of girls recorded a video taunting a police officer’s son, who stayed home from school on Monday.

Students told the Pioneer Press that at least six students of various ethnicities were suspended.

Into the fray steps a woman – a “Chicano Studies” professor at the U of M, and not only a CDH graduate, but a second generation alum – with an open letter to CDH’s administration (and, of course, all the social media) with the social justice verdict on the subject. Here’s the letter – I’ll leave it to you to read it, if you want. I’ll pullquote it in case it disappears, not that the professor (who I won’t name, because why?) wijll face any consequences for writing it.

She repeats, several times, that she was a “student of color” at CDH -but also mentions that her father also graduated from CDH, that she’s gone onto an academic career including a PhD from UC Santa Barbara and a position at the U of M teaching in a discipline ending with “…Studies”, which I present with no further comment, other than to say that if she was oppressed (as she claims repeatedly in the letter, although generally in the form of “microaggressions”), it’s not apparent from her implied curriculum vitae. Not only did someone spend an awful lot of money to send her to school – implying at least one generation cared about her education pretty profoundly – but someone did the same for her father, somehow.

Failure To Communicate

Her letter is…

…well, about what you’d expect from someone who’s a professor of anything ending in “studies”. But there are a couple of bits that:

  • Show the parlous state of higher educations today
  • Given the amount of cheerleading support the professor got on social media, show the dismal state of logic in society today.

The first part:

Your call to understand “BOTH” sides, and that “we can be politically conservative or liberal or somewhere on the broad continuum of thought AND coexist in a respectful environment built on common values,” [Bold is original] fails to understand what is currently happening in our city, state, and nation. This is not a matter of hearing each other out. This is a matter of life and death. Black people are killed by police at alarming rates

Have you noticed how often sentences that says a statement “…fails to understand” something almost inevitably deflect someone’s perfect understanding of a situation?

And what actions, that the public knows about, crossed any sort of ideological line? The protests?

No. It was the six kids that allegedly bullied the cop’s kid.

While CDH wouldn’t specifically comment on the nature of the six suspensions, the school confirmed to me that no students were suspended for protesting legitimately. Who does thjat leave? There are only so many possibilities.

So – not only is she saying there are not multiple sides of this issue, and there is not room for multiple perspectives, but that if you think there are you clearly favor killing black people; accusing people of racism for supporting a dialog about issues is bad enough.

But she’s bringing that accusation to bear to support six alleged bullies. Criticizing, not the protests, but the bullying that sprang from them, is racist!

As Dennis Prager points out, it takes an elite education something something something. I forget thje rest.

Speaking of Consequences

Later, apparently criticizing the suspension of (I’ll say it again) six kids who made a video harassing someone for being the son of a policeman, she writes (and I add empjasis):

As educators we must impede the school to prison pipeline. Taking this type of disciplinary action as opposed to teaching, listening, and engaging with these young people is not only a missed opportunity, but continues the same punitive action that this present moment is fighting against.

The professor apparently would have you believe that suspending students at a posh private school for allegedly bullying a fellow student is:

  • Going on the students criminal records
  • On a moral par with not only being killed by the police, but killed for no cause whatsoever.

The galling part about this is not that someone who teaches our kids is writing this sort of stuff with a straight face. This sort of thought would appear to be the water in which PhDs in anything ending in “…Studies” swim.

The galling part was, when someone posted the letter on a neighborhood social media page, watching the locals – it was in Highland Park – tripping over each other to compliment the writer’s wisdom. And when questioned in any way, how many of them reverted immediately to…

Because Trump.

Moral vacuity is a barrel that has no bottom to scrape in Saint Paul.

Quick Note: Any commenter that asks “So, you’re ok withj black people being summarily executed” will be blocked, forever, and urged to go pay penance for being the moral plaque on societies arteries that you are.

Another Quick Note: “What, Berg – you’re a conservative, riffing on private schools? ”

No. I’m riffing on Cretin-Derham Hall. What the Ivies are to the nation, CDH is to Saint Paul, and I don’t entirely mean that in a good way. There’s a CDH. mafia ijn this town. Which makes the professor’s letter doubly ironic; if CDH grads are “oppressed” in the Twin CIties, it’s because they’ve worked hard to feel oppressed.

Bigotry Of Bizarre Expectations

Kind of a good news, bad news situation here. But maybe not in the way you think.

A teachers union president in Washington State refers to reopening schools as a “white supremacist” initiative.

The good – or “good” – news: this is an example of the type of rhetorical, social and policy overreach one can expect when “progressives” – in this case invariably white, middle-class, and visibly “progressive” – find themselves in power. This statement – literally, “wanting your kids back in schools, and wanting some sense of stability and normalcy for their mental health, at a time when teenage suicide is exploding all over the country, is racist” is the very definition of “2+2=5” – mental health is mental illness, concern for kids is a pathology, truth is lies. (And the ability to say it without having ones own peers pelt one with rocks and garbage is Urban Progressive Privilege).

ut another way, evil – no scare quotes. Inverting moral truth and moral falsehood is as textbook a definition of venial evil as exists.

That’s the “good” news.

The bad news? About half the country, as this is written, doesn’t know any better, or just doesn’t want to think about it that hard.

Planet Of The Humans, Part 0

I spent a lot of time thinking about this scene last week:

I first started paying serious attention to politics in about 1980. Like a lot of high school kids, then and now, I was somewhere out on what would be called “the left”; I wrote a platform for North Dakota Boys State (a statewide mock government program put on by the decidedly conservative American Legion) that called for systematic redistribution of wealth, abolishing nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament, and a whole bunch of stuff that would be pretty mainstream among the Bernie Bros today.

Three years later, due to the good graces of my English professor, Dr. Jim Blake, I had re-evaluated most of my assumptions. I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, and never really looked back.

And I had no reason to. None of us did. Although the history books, all being written from the perspective of the Left, will never admit it, the two decades from 1980 to 2000 were, objectively, the last American Golden Age. I’ll squeak out an optimistic coda and add “so far”, but I’ll be honest – I haven’t been feeling it, but I’m a firm believer in acting like you want to feel, and so there is is. “So far”.

I’ll come back to that.

There’s no denying it was one of the high points of American history. We led an economic surge that brought more wealth to more people than any in history. We, as a nation, led a political surge that led to the collapse of one of the most evil regimes in history (although not the other one – so far).

Maybe it’s just the perspective of one guy’s lifetime – but I suspect you’d have to look long and hard to find a place and time when it was generally better to be a human.

Not just in material terms, but in terms of the tension between freedom and order, one of the hardest things about running a self-governing society, being in relative balance – and, more importantly, the general commitment to the system and process that kept all those moving parts in balance.

And it’s been downhill from there.

The arc from Morning in America in 1980 to last week’s skirmish at the Capitol – which, loathe as I am to come even close to Democrat chanting points, was a form of coup, not against President-Elect Biden, but against the states’ constitutional power to select electors – peaked…somewhere in the late ’90s – when one of the glories of the American system, gridlocked government, combined with a Peace Dividend brought about by the end of the Cold War (thanks, President Reagan), led to an outburst of technological, entrepreneurial and market power that brought so much wealth, and security, and general well-being, to so many people that it may have been as close to a uptopia, in some ways, as humanity can get. Because of the gridlock in government.

Somewhere between 1998 and 2005, things started to turn back south again. It’d be easy to point to the polarization of American politics, starting with the various Clinton scandals, through the fiasco of the 2000 election, the near-decade of squabbling over the War on Terror and the 2008 government-caused financial meltdown, as the cause – but it went in parallel with a lot of other changes in our nation’s political, moral and social lives that have led to their…

…I was going to say “culmination” last week at the Capitol. But of course, that’s not true. Last week’s sorry episode was, like last summer’s riots, and the social back and forth that gave us Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Trump himself, and the movements that supported them all in a way that was increasingly “un-American” (I’m still claiming a meaning for that term), and if you think that was the peak, or trough, or any sort of ending to the story, you just haven’t paid attention to 20,000 years of human nature.

So let’s not call it a culmination. Let’s call it a checkpoint, on a path that may be going up, or down, but control over which We The People need to take before the phrase “We The People” is forever relegated to the museum.

How have we gotten from the peak of Western Civilization to…this, in my adult lifetime?

Let’s talk about it.

We’ll start with President Trump, next.

But we’re damn sure not going to finish with him.

Your Lyin’ Eyes

SCENE: Mitch BERG is standing, socially distanced, in line at the Q-Fanatic Barbeque in South Minneapolis. Focused on the smell of the delicious brisket, he’s caught by surprise as Avery LIBRELLE walks in behind him.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, shhh….sure enough, it’s Avery. What’s new…

LIBRELLE: You wingnuts are paranoid. [Switches to that condescending coo-ing voice that “progressives” use as they parrot this particular chanting point] Nobody is coming for your guns.

BERG: Why do you say that?

LIBRELLE: You said the same scare tactic of Obama, and he never came for your guns.

BERG: Obama had some blue seats in red states to defend – had he let slip his inner id on guns, he’d have extincted them. Well, extincted them faster, because in a lot of America a “blue state Democrat” is a little like a “dodo bird driving an AMC Gremlin”.

LIBRELLE: So – he didn’t come for guns!

BERG: He was a lot of things, but not politically stupid.

LIBRELLE: Biden is even more centrist on the issue than Obama was. So no [switches back to the condescending coo-ing voice] Nobody’s coming for your guns.

BERG: So that’s your final answer.

LIBRELLE: Of course. Paranoid wingnut.

BERG: Got your phone handy?

LIBRELLE: I lost it. Let’s use yours.

BERG: Naturally. [Pulls up Joe Biden’s campaign site, scrolls down to paragraphs 6-10]. Go ahead and read that.

LIBRELLE: [Silently mouths the words]

BERG: Either you’re lying and he is coming for our guns, or he’s lying on his campaign website.

LIBRELLE: Well, of course he’s coming for…those guns.

BERG: So in one line, you’ve gone from [mocks the cooing tone] “nobody’s coming for your guns” to “we’re coming for the guns a bunch of people who don’t know the difference between a firing pin and a crochet needle think you don’t really need to have“. That was fast.

LIBRELLE: [Mocking tone] All right, you got me. Joe Biden’s gonna break into your house and take your guns.

BERG: So in two lines, we’ve gone from “Nobody’s taking your guns” to trying to mock me for catching in covering, badly, for your own lie.

LIBRELLE: Trump banned bump stocks.

BERG: Bad Trump. Don’t change the subject.

LIBRELLE: Hey, can you lend me ten bucks?

BERG: Why?

LIBRELLE: I need to run over and buy some spray paint to paint to paint “Meat is Murder” all over this place.

BERG: Ask them [BERG points a thumb toward unamused counter guy]

LIBRELLE: Oh, great idea. I…

But BERG has already left.

And SCENE.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part V

“You should be voting in your ‘best interests'”

You mean, the “best interests” that gave voters Camden?

Stockton?

Detroit?

Newark?

New Orleans?

Baltimore?

Saint Louis?

DC?

North Minneapolis?

The destruction on Lake Street and University Avenue?

The carnage every summer in south Chicago?

Those “best interests?”

Just wanna be clear, here.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part IV

“Check your privilege”

OK. Let’s check my privilege.

I grew up descended from people from an inhospitable place that nobody wanted to conquer and that nobody managed to enslave (or who managed to kill everyone that tried). My dominant culture has no experience of being enslaved – indeed, it abolished slavery hundreds of years before the rest of the world. It’s a “privilege” that every human in the world should have, and that I’m more than happy to share.

I grew up in a family where the parents stayed together (until we were all adults, anyway), and worked their butts off to give us a stable, loving upbringing where we were expected to grow up into productive, self-sufficient adults. My parents themselves were “privileged” with the same basic family structure, notwithstanding the Depression and World War 2.

Those are privileges I’m more than happy to spread to the whole world, and have nothing to do with my skin color.

I went to a public school system that was more concerned with teaching me to read, write, calculate, present myself, and reason than indoctrinating me in a view of society. It’s a “privilege” afford to very few these days.

I got a post-secondary education (thanks to my Mom working at the local college, with the commensurate tuition break) that focused on reason, logic and critical thought, rather than post-structural twaddle – not merely a “privilege”, but a decisive advantage in so many areas of my life.

Somewhere, I got a work ethic. I was blessed with ways to exercise it – for which I’m thankful. I’m more than happy to do my bit, and more, to make sure you get the same privilege.

I am a free person, with all the rights God endowed me, and all the responsibilities that position gives me. Freedom and responsibility are “privileges” I’ll fight to provide anyone who wants them, and against anyone who’ll deprive either of us of them.

In no case are those “privileges” zero-sum. My freedom takes nothing away from your freedom (that you’re not willing to give up, or at least pretend you’ve given up). And taking freedom away from others gives you no more; Germans, the Klan and Red Guards gained no freedom, no prosperity, no happiness from oppressing Jews, Afro-Americans or “counterrevolutionaries”; quite the opposite, in fact.

Freedom is the ultimate “privilege”. And it’s contagious, if you let it be. Try it, Sparky.

You are, of course, not referring to any of those. You are referring to the stretchy, sketchy concept of racial privilege which is in fact almost entirely a matter of class, not race, and is almost entirely an attempt to expiate White Progressive Guilt.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part III

“If You’re Not Part Of The Solution, You’re Part Of The Problem”

People who use this statement always use it incompletely. I’ll do it again, filling in and emphasiing the words that are unstated but that actually define the statement.

“If you’re not part of the solution I’m demanding, you’re part of the problem that’s in my way“.

It’s incumbent on you to convince me – everyone – that your solution isn’t worse than the problem. If you are a socialist, if your “solution” can be shown via a rational argument based in fact to be worse than the problem you see, then you’re going to have a tough time of it.

And if you use statements like “If you’re not part of the solution…”, it’s going to be even tougher, because if you knew all that rational, factual, “convincing people” stuff, you wouldn’t have to resort to such twaddle.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part II

“If You’re ‘On The Fence’, You’re Complicit”\

No. If I’m “on the fence on an issue”, then neither side has convinced me yet. “Better to be quiet and have people think you might be a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

And being considered a fool by anyone using a line like the star of today’s piece is at best irrelevant and at worst mutual.

Snappy Answers To Casual Gaslighting, Part I

“Silence is Violence”.

No. It’s not.

Silence – if you catch me silent at all – is me keeping my mouth shut while I figure out what I think, to say nothing of what I’m going to say. Your freedom of speech doesn’t give you the right to tell me what I’m going to say.

If your response to that is “there is only one thing to say”, and that’s to agree with your point of view – then most likely you’re trying to logroll and shame people into knocking off all that pesky thinking, and just acquiescing.[1] If your position is worthy, I may eventually agree with you. Not doing so, in and of itself, doesn’t make me the immoral one.

Logically, it’s Orwellian – silence is the opposite of violence. Morally, it’s worse than Orwellian.

If your response is “that’s how Germans reacted when Jews were getting hauled off” – well, there’s your opportunity to convince me that the issue we face is, actually, that clear-cut.

If it’s not? If there are some facets to the issue at hand over which reasonable people may debate?

If you were to tell a spouse or a significant other “if you’re not verbally acquiescing with my point of view, you are party to evil”, a therapist would call you an emotional abuser.

And they’d be right.

Logrolling is no substitute for a convincing argument.

Unfortunately, people using this form of logrolling, gaslighting chanting point aren’t trying to “convince”, and they’re not trying to provoke thought.