Patterico's Pontifications

5/10/2016

Nicholas Kristof: Of Course Progressives Believe In Diversity, Well, Except For “Conservative” Diversity…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:43 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Nicholas Kristof has an eye-opening piece at the New York Times titled A Confession of Liberal Intolerance. In his op-ed, he both admits to and laments an undeniable sort of discrimination at our institutions of higher learning. You’re sort of late to the party, Nicholas, but welcome anyway:

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, gays, Latinos, and Muslims at the table – er, so long as they’re not conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

Thus Kristof begins his confession. Given the recent outing of Facebook for its calculated political bias, Kristof informs us that that’s exactly where he’s been mulling this over. On Facebook. How ironic.

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

To his credit, Kristof zeroes in on the root of the problem: liberal arrogance. (I think liberal ignorance would have worked equally as well.)

He also offers findings from four different studies that demonstrate that Republican professors in the humanities and social sciences are indeed “endangered species,” and the stark contrast a black sociologist provides reveals the narrow-minded bigotry of supposed “progressives” (a term used to describe a group of people who are anything but…):

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close,”

If it’s tough being a conservative in academia, it’s even tougher if one is also an evangelical:

According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”

Kristof, who earns his bread and butter in the belly of the self-admitted liberally-biased beast, nonetheless reminds readers of all political persuasions why this particular kind of discrimination is so dangerous:

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. **My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.

**Clearly, narrow-minded bigots are limited in their capacity to feel anything but disdain for those who dare to think differently. The very definition of progressive.

–Dana

12/2/2009

Kristof Busted by Malkin

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:48 pm



She appears to have Kristof dead to rights here.

11/9/2005

Maguire Makes Kristof Squirm

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 5:08 pm



This is a very entertaining post by Tom Maguire, about Nick Kristof’s airbrushing errors and making implausible excuses for Lyin’ Joe Wilson. Read it and chuckle.

1/11/2018

Trump’s Tweet Reversal on FISA, and What It Says About His Presidency (With Bonus North Korea Discussion)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am



President Donald J. Trump woke up this morning and issued a tweet about FISA that seemed to contradict his administration’s position on an upcoming FISA vote:

What’s going on? Today the House votes on reauthorizing “Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, that permits the government to collect without a warrant from American firms, like Google and AT&T, the emails and other communications of foreigners abroad — even when they are talking to Americans.” Section 702 will certainly be reauthorized, but libertarian-minded lawmakers like Justin Amash are trying to impose a warrant requirement for such searches. The White House has consistently opposed any such amendment, with Sarah Sanders saying as recently as last night that the amendment would “would re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11.” Sanders said, in no uncertain terms: “The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment.”

And then Trump stepped into the breach with his tweet, emboldening the supporters of the amendment and undermining the clarity of his administration’s position.

Apparently somebody spoke to him, because one hour and 41 minutes later, Trump tweeted this:

That is a big Emily Litella-style climbdown. And it was obviously motivated by the intervention of someone who, unlike Trump, understood his administration’s position.

If the notion of Trump farting out an off-message policy statement and having to be walked back sounds familiar, cast your memory back to two days ago, when Trump seemed to tell Sen. Dianne Feinstein that he was for a “clean” DACA bill — a statement that Kevin McCarthy had to help Trump walk back. Trump is like a kid who might suddenly dart into traffic at any moment. You have to hold that tiny little hand tight, to keep him safe.

You don’t need Michael Wolff to tell you that Trump is a woefully uninformed man-child who stumbles around saying random things. This aspect of Trump’s character is on public display, day after day.

So what does this say about the nature of Trump’s presidency? Until we get to foreign policy, not much. It appears that, for the most part, the people around him manage to get the right thing done most of the time, despite Trump. And he obviously listens, at least sometimes. Although the FISA tweet and Feinstein DACA examples show that Trump has no grasp of what his position is supposed to be, they also show that when the correct position is explained to him (which we know happened with Feinstein and which I assume happened with FISA today), he is willing to back down from his incorrect pronouncements. True, an informed president could do more with the bully pulpit to push legislation like ObamaCare repeal. But he mostly does OK on the domestic front.

Ah, but then there’s foreign policy. There, Trump both interacts directly with other world leaders, and also makes public pronouncements on his own (“fire and fury,” anyone?). I think a lot of people assume that, hey, everything will be OK because we have folks like Mattis or McMaster around to rein Trump in. But if you believe the story in Wolff’s book (and here’s an example of a story I believe), Trump has contempt for McMaster, whom he finds “boring” because of his penchant for PowerPoints that make Trump feel like he is being lectured to by a professor. In any event, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Mattis & Co. support comments like “fire and fury” as exemplifying Nixon’s crazy man strategy. It’s still concerning that a guy whose ad libs are often this uninformed and off-message is the Voice of America.

I’m sure my concerns about all this will be met with arguments that South Korea is crediting Trump with bringing North Korea to the table for talks. Settle down, Sparky. The situation is hardly resolved yet. That’s not Trump’s fault, of course; presidents since Clinton have devoted a lot of energy to addressing North Korea, and every effort has ended in failure. It’s a problem that has no easy solution. But when I look at Trump’s aggressive pronouncements about nuclear war, a rhetorical question keeps coming to mind: when did mindless and prideful escalation ever lead to unnecessary violence?

I realize it seems we have detoured far from our original discussion about FISA, section 702, and Trump’s contradictory tweets. But in the headline I promised an analysis about the larger meaning for Trump’s presidency of having a man in the Oval Office with a grade-school-level grasp of policy details. And foreign policy in general — and North Korea in particular — are a YUUUUUGE part of that discussion.

Exit suggestion: if you’ve never seen Nick Kristof’s video from November about North Korea’s preparation for war, set aside some time to watch it. Kristof visited North Korea and interviewed government officials and people on the street — and at the end there is an interesting reveal about the way in which the officials guided the expression of opinions from the “normal citizens.” I disagree with Kristof about a lot of things — just yesterday, I was dismissing Kristof’s worry about Trump’s authoritarianism, noting that while Trump certainly talks like an authoritarian, he doesn’t really act like one. But it’s hard to watch a video like this and not be acutely aware that North Korea at least wants to send the message that it considers war with America virtually inevitable. As we cheer the slight reduction in regulations under Donald Trump, let’s give a little thought to the at least equally important issue of whether we are about to go to nuclear war with a country led by a madman.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

12/30/2017

Daughter of Communist Refugees Wonders Why Ivy League Communism Is Now Hip and Chic

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:32 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Credit where it’s due: I came across this thanks to a tweet from the often insufferable Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. This remarkable piece ran in The Harvard Crimson last month and was written by a sophomore majoring in applied mathematics (note: not some grievance-mongering studies discipline).

In 1988, my twenty-six-year-old father jumped off a train in the middle of Hungary with nothing but the clothes on his back. For the next two years, he fled an oppressive Romanian Communist regime that would kill him if they ever laid hands on him again.

My father ran from a government that beat, tortured, and brainwashed its citizens. His childhood friend disappeared after scrawling an insult about the dictator on the school bathroom wall. His neighbors starved to death from food rations designed to combat “obesity.” As the population dwindled, women were sent to the hospital every month to make sure they were getting pregnant.

My father’s escape journey eventually led him to the United States. He moved to the Midwest and married a Romanian woman who had left for America the minute the regime collapsed. Today, my parents are doctors in quiet, suburban Kansas. Both of their daughters go to Harvard. They are the lucky ones.

Those of us of a certain age are likely to forget that today’s college student, likely born sometime between 1995 and 2000, has no direct experience with large-scale communism of the sort practiced in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries in the latter half of the past century. Their view of communism is skewed by countries like China and Vietnam who have blended some capitalist practices with authoritarian central government to create a system where the government picks and chooses who gets rich and how much they can keep (ironically enough, this is the same system that seems to hold a great deal of appeal to the Barack Obamas and Hillary Clintons of the world). Or else they view communism through the prism of Cuba, a small and poor island nation with catchy rhumba and mambo music and cool classic cars prowling the streets. But the author, Laura Nicolae, is here to set her schoolmates straight:

Roughly 100 million people died at the hands of the ideology my parents escaped. They cannot tell their story. We owe it to them to recognize that this ideology is not a fad, and their deaths are not a joke.

[. . .]

Walk around campus, and you’re likely to spot Ché Guevara on a few shirts and button pins. A sophomore jokes that he’s declared a secondary in “communist ideology and implementation.” The new Leftist Club on campus seeks “a modern perspective” on Marx and Lenin to “alleviate the stigma around the concept of Leftism.” An author laments in these pages that it’s too difficult to meet communists here. For many students, casually endorsing communism is a cool, edgy way to gripe about the world.

After spending four years on a campus saturated with Marxist memes and jokes about communist revolutions, my classmates will graduate with the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives.

I was in college in the very waning days of Soviet communism (the Berlin Wall came down the summer after my freshman year). Back then the campus radicals were circumspect enough not to climb aboard the broken-down Marxist-Leninist bandwagon (well, except for Van Jones who is a whole separate category of nutjob), and most of them gravitated more towards anarchism, which after all, they liked to say, was what Trotsky understood was the real future all along. But today’s college kids, not even old enough to recall very clearly the first stirrings of Islamofascism, now find old Uncle Joe Stalin to be a benign figure, just as clueless fellow travelers did a century earlier. The estimable Ms. Nicolae is having none of it:

Many in my generation have blurred the reality of communism with the illusion of utopia. I never had that luxury. Growing up, my understanding of communism was personalized; I could see its lasting impact in the faces of my family members telling stories of their past. My perspective toward the ideology is radically different because I know the people who survived it; my relatives continue to wonder about their friends who did not.

The stories of survivors paint a more vivid picture of communism than the textbooks my classmates have read. While we may never fully understand all of the atrocities that occurred under communist regimes, we can desperately try to ensure the world never repeats their mistakes. To that end, we must tell the accounts of survivors and fight the trivialization of communism’s bloody past.

There’s more, so do read the whole thing, but it does my grumpy and worried heart a world of good to know that Harvard has at least some sensible students like Laura Nicolae to counter the baneful effects of the Bernie Sanders-worshipping modern campus Marxist.

– JVW

12/8/2016

Fake News Complaints by Big Media Are Fake

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am



Your must-read for the day, if you have not read it already, is a piece by Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs titled The Necessity of Credibility. It thoroughly exposes many examples of “fake news” by Big Media — including their claims that conservatives are routinely engaged in spreading “fake news.”

The piece opens with a discussion of a topic that irritated me quite a bit recently: the pack of bleating media sheep who claimed that Trump was blatantly lying when he said that millions of people voted illegally. (The claim has not been proved, but is far from outlandish.) As Robinson explains, the Washington Post “fact-checkers” pounced, with Glenn Kessler calling Trump’s claim “bogus” and decrying Trump’s “wild allegations.”

But when people wondered where Trump got the idea that a significant percentage of people had voted illegally, the Trump transition team cited . . . a piece from the Washington Post. Whoops!

Then it got even more farcical. Now the “fact-checkers” gave four Pinocchios to the Trump camps’s claim that the piece had been in the Washington Post. How could that be, when it actually had been in the Washington Post? Because, the fact-checkers claimed, it had been in a blog hosted by the Washington Post. Never mind that the URL begins: “www.washingtonpost.com.” Never mind that, as Robinson points out, the blog’s name appears “in tiny letters beneath the ordinary full-sized Washington Post logo.”

Who are you going to believe, the fact-checkers or your lying eyes?

The Washington Post itself was the source for the Trump claim that the Washington Post claimed was bogus and alarming. Fake! And then the Washington Post tried to deny they were the source, when they had been!

Fake fake fakety fake!

The voter fraud story is indicative of a much wider problem with U.S. political media: its attempts to point out Trump’s falsehoods are consistently undermined by the media’s own lack of credibility on matters of fact. Especially with the rise of “fact-checking” websites, whose analysis is frequently shoddy and dubious, the political media contribute to the exact kind of “post-truth” atmosphere that journalists criticize Trump for furthering.

An interesting and illuminating example of this can be found in the controversy over so-called “fake news.” A few weeks after the election, a series of critics lamented the role of “fake” stories during the election cycle. A study by BuzzFeed reported that “the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets.” A number of commentators saw this as a bad sign for the future democratic governance. Andrew Smith of The Guardian suggested that the proliferation of false stories on social media was eroding the very foundations of reality. In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof solemnly concluded that “fake news is gaining ground, empowering nuts and undermining our democracy.”

But, as Robinson notes, many of the examples of “fake news” offered up by Big Media are themselves fake.

Particularly pernicious is the rise of “fact-checking” websites, which are ostensibly dedicated to promoting objective truth over eye-of-the-beholder lies, but which often simply serve as mouthpieces for centrist orthodoxies, thereby further delegitimizing the entire notion of “fact” itself. As Current Affairs has previously argued at length, websites like PolitiFact frequently disguise opinion and/or bullshit as neutral, data-based inquiry.

This happens in a couple of ways. First, such websites frequently produce meaningless statistics, such as trying to measure the percentage of a candidate’s statements that are false. PolitiFact constantly spreads its statistics about how X percent of Trump or Clinton’s statements are rated false, declining to mention the fact that this statistic is empty of any content, since the statements that are evaluated haven’t been randomly selected. The centrist biases of fact-checkers also affect their decisionmaking. Fact-checkers have, for example, insisted that it was wrong to say Hillary Clinton wanted to get rid of the 2nd Amendment. But this isn’t a “factual” dispute at all. It depends on one’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s essential meaning, something that varies based on one’s personal political values.

Robinson gives several specific examples of instances in which fact-checkers called something “false” that was literally true because of a political argument about the interpretation of the true fact. This is something I have railed about many times before. As one example among many, take Carly Fiorina’s claim that she went from secretary to CEO: admitted by the fact-checkers to be true, but deemed false by the fact-checkers because of its implications. There are an appalling number of similar “fact-checks” by these propagandists masquerading as neutral arbiters of truth.

The piece is long and chock-full of interesting anecdotes, facts, and quotes. It’s worth your time and gets the coveted read the whole thing recommendation. I’ll end the post with this quote:

Those who say Donald Trump dwells in a “post-truth” realm are not wrong. He lies a hell of a lot, and misrepresents a hell of a lot more. But in order for the “post-truth” charge to be taken seriously, one must be careful and reliable in calling out “lies.”

Amen.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

5/5/2014

‘Bring Back Our Girls’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:14 am



[guest post by Dana]

Untitled-1
#BringBackOurGirls

There is evil in this world and when it makes its insidious appearance, one offers quiet humble prayers of hope for those in need. It seems small and simple and in the big picture, likely is. But this is how it is. This is what we do, those of us who know and recognize the gift of peace we dwell in each and every day. Ours is indeed a privilege.

In mid-April, 276 school girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, as they slept in their dormitories. Their attackers lit the school on fire, herded the girls onto waiting trucks, and disappeared into the darkness of night.

The kidnapped girls ranged in age from 15 and 18 years old and haven’t been heard from since April 14. However, of the 276 kidnapped, 53 were able to escape.

Their kidnappers are an extremist Muslim group called Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language means “Western education is a sin.”

The NYT has more,

These girls, ages 15 to 18 and Christians and Muslims alike, knew the risks of seeking an education, and schools in the area had closed in March for fear of terror attacks. But this school had reopened so that the girls — the stars of their families and villages — could take their final exams. They were expected to move on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers.

Instead, they reportedly are being auctioned off for $12 each to become “wives” of militants.

“We are now asking for world power countries to intervene,” the desperate father of a missing 18-year-old girl, Ayesha, told me by phone. He said that the parents had given up on Nigerian government officials — “they are just saying lies” — and pleaded for international pressure on Nigeria to rescue the girls.

Clearly, as each week passes without a word from the girls, the chances of finding them, and finding them unharmed, decreases.

The fate of the rest remains a mystery. Each passing day makes it more likely that the girls have been raped, and possibly killed, in captivity. Given Boko Haram’s name, which means “Western education forbidden,” and their agenda to wipe out secular society in mostly Muslim Northern Nigeria, it’s hardly a surprise that the group locks students inside schools and sets them on fire. This, to date, is their largest mass abduction. The girls were taken into the jungle to serve as sex slaves. Yet the abduction of these girls is about much more than finding “cooks and wives.” For Boko Haram, it is about dismantling the fragile existing society by attacking its essential institutions: schools.

This video was made by Louis King, a young Nigerian Director. His hope is to bring world attention to the ongoing situation. The voice you hear is the father of one of the kidnapped girls.

It must be said: When one compares the “Ban Bossy” campaign with the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, well, there really isn’t any comparison that can be made. In fact, one seems all the more ridiculous and pathetically self-indulgent.

–Dana

UPDATE: Fox News has updated the situation after viewing a video from Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haran.

[T]he students “will remain slaves with us.” That appears a reference to the ancient jihadi custom of enslaving women captured in a holy war, who then can be used as sex slaves.

“They are slaves and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them,” he said, speaking in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria.

Shekau brushed off warnings that the abductions could be an international crime, saying in English, as if to reach his accusers in the international community: “What do you know about human rights? You’re just claiming human rights (abuses), but you don’t know what it is.”

An intermediary who has said Boko Haram is ready to negotiate ransoms for the girls also said two of the girls have died of snakebite and about 20 are ill. He said Christians among the girls have been forced to convert to Islam.

First lady Patience Jonathan fueled frustration Monday when a leader of a protest march said she ordered the arrests of two protest leaders, expressed doubts there was any kidnapping and accused the protest leaders of belonging to Boko Haram.

The first lady is also being accused of turning on protesting Nigerian women.

Mrs. Jonathan said the women “had no right to protest,” especially Nyadar, whom she identified as the deputy director of the National Directorate of Employment.

In a report on the meeting, Daily Trust newspaper quoted Mrs. Jonathan as ordering all Nigerian women to stop protesting, and threatening “should anything happen to them during protests, they should blame themselves.”

2/8/2014

Woody Allen Responds

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:24 pm



As you all probably know, one week ago Dylan Farrow went public with her story of Woody Allen’s alleged sexual assault on her:

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

Woody Allen has now responded:

TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought. We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy. The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.

I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail.

I don’t see how I can add anything to the analysis, but I thought I would create this post for y’all to discuss it.

4/1/2012

The Righteous Mind

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:38 am



[Posted by Karl]

This is generally not the opening usually seen for a Nicholas D. Kristof column:

Conservatives may not like liberals, but they seem to understand them. In contrast, many liberals find conservative voters not just wrong but also bewildering.

One academic study asked 2,000 Americans to fill out questionnaires about moral questions. In some cases, they were asked to fill them out as they thought a “typical liberal” or a “typical conservative” would respond.

Moderates and conservatives were adept at guessing how liberals would answer questions. Liberals, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal,” were least able to put themselves in the minds of their adversaries and guess how conservatives would answer.

That may not be surprising to conservatives, but — if the study is correct — it is likely shocking to so-called liberals.  One of the authors of the study, University of Virginia psychology professor Jonathan Haidt, has written a book, The Righteous Mind, from which Kristof summarizes an explanation for the disconnect:

Americans speak about values in six languages, from care to sanctity. Conservatives speak all six, but liberals are fluent in only three. And some (me included) mostly use just one, care for victims.

“Moral psychology can help to explain why the Democratic Party has had so much difficulty connecting with voters,” writes Haidt, a former liberal who says he became a centrist while writing the book.

I am generally skeptical of pseudo-science trotted out in the service of politics.  Liberals who are usually quick to discount scientific (especially biological) explanations for phenomena inconvenient to their ideology are much more flexible in trotting out “studies” to paint the right as racist neanderthals.  Kristof veers near this territory in his column, but it’s not clear that Haidt buys all the implications ideologues draw from such studies.  Indeed, the NYT book review from William Saletan suggests Haidt does not think much of much psycho-punditry himself:

The usual argument of these psycho-­pundits is that conservative politicians manipulate voters’ neural roots — playing on our craving for authority, for example — to trick people into voting against their interests. But Haidt treats electoral success as a kind of evolutionary fitness test. He figures that if voters like Republican messages, there’s something in Republican messages worth liking. He chides psychologists who try to “explain away” conservatism, treating it as a pathology. Conservatism thrives because it fits how people think, and that’s what validates it. Workers who vote Republican aren’t fools. In Haidt’s words, they’re “voting for their moral interests.”

I plan on reading the book and expect I may disagree with chunks of it.  For example, Saletan says the book is short on solutions for ideological segregation, but one suggestion is to attack gerrymandering.  That may sound good to a psychologist, but political scientists have not found gerrymandering to be an important cause of political polarization.  If people like me do not read the book, who will?  Liberals are probably more likely to ignore it.  They will be reading less objective, less scientific twaddle on the subject from Chris Mooney, which even Kevin Drum doesn’t buy (As someone on Twitter whose name I didn’t get permission to use noted, Mooney might consider that he is the exact sort that has caused more educated conservatives to become skeptical of scientists).

–Karl

10/3/2011

Occupy Wall Street: Full of Sound and Fury

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:38 am



[Posted by Karl]

A slice of the establishment media is increasingly taken with comparing Occupy Wall Street — the two-week old protest against “banksters” and corporate tycoons — with the revolutionary protests of the “Arab Spring.”  James Joyner correctly observes what an insult that is to the protesters who (however problematic some of them may be) risked death to overturn repressive dictatorships.  Indeed, the comparison is doubly insulting to the intelligence of the reader, given that those making it generally support Team Obama, which is run and funded by said banksters and would be the dictatorship in this scenario.  The people floating the metaphor do not expect or hope for a revolution.  And the metaphor crumbles even further on close examination.

Nicholas Kristof explains the metaphor:

I tweeted that the protest reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and that raised eyebrows. True, no bullets are whizzing around, and the movement won’t unseat any dictators. But there is the same cohort of alienated young people, and the same savvy use of Twitter and other social media to recruit more participants. Most of all, there’s a similar tide of youthful frustration with a political and economic system that protesters regard as broken, corrupt, unresponsive and unaccountable.

However, there is no tide — at least not one unique to American youths.  To be sure, the youth vote continues to lean left in general, but Democrats have lost about half their edge with young voters to the GOP since 2008.  Indeed, the GOP now has an advantage with white youths, suggesting that the youth vote is following the same trends we see in the electorate as a whole.  Moreover, the most recent dKos/SEIU poll — which ought to harbor no bias against the left — asked, “Which of the following statements best describes your opinion on the United States’ current economic situation: corporate greed helped lead to the current crisis and these practices need to be reined in to fix our economy, OR now is not the time to constrict corporations while we are trying to get our economy back on track?”  The overall split was 57/37; the split for 18-29 year olds was 52/42.

In short, Occupy Wall Street does not appear to reflect any particular revolutionary sentiment among the American youth vote.  As for the segment of the youth vote attracted to the protests, what are they going to do?  Vote for Obama, as Kristof and his fellow travelers in the media almost certainly will?  The hipster demographic is already disillusioned with The One.  Write in someone like Ralph Nader or Bernie Sanders?  Stay home with their bongs?  The left-leaning media is having its fantasy moment here, but the primary beneficiary of Occupy Wall Street is probably the GOP.

–Karl

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