Patterico's Pontifications

2/18/2022

How Sadly Predictable and Unreadable Academic History Has Become

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:27 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Note: I thought of holding this post until Monday since Dana got an early start on the Weekend Open Thread (TGIF!), but I figured I would just post this now and get it out of the way. The story is a week old anyway, though it only came to my attention recently.

A PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania by the name of Taylor Dysart wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post last week which inadvertently demonstrates just how stultifyingly banal and mindlessly predictable modern academia has become. Ms. Dysart surveys the Canadian truckers’ protest and discovers that their grievances stem from — you won’t believe it! — white colonialism.

The convoy has surprised onlookers in the United States and Canada, both because of the explicitly racist and violent perspectives of some of the organizers and because the action seems to violate norms of Canadian “politeness.” But the convoy represents the extension of a strain of Canadian history that has long masked itself behind “peacefulness” or “unity”: settler colonialism. It is not incidental that this latest expression of white supremacy is emerging amid a public health crisis. The history of Canadian settler colonialism and public health demonstrates how both overt white-supremacist claims and seemingly more inert nationalistic claims about “unity” and “freedom” both enable and erase ongoing harm to marginalized communities.

Set aside the super lazy invocation of racism, which has really come to be defined in recent years as “anything which irks leftists.” Set aside the woke bingo card contained within her essay (buzzwords which appear include the stuff quoted above as well as “Indigenous peoples,” “genocidal,” “weaponized,” “land dispossession,” “segregation and racial hierarchy,” “Donald Trump,” and so many others). Set aide Ms. Dysart’s citation of alleged mass unmarked graves found at state schools for First Nations children in Ontario, which roiled the North American left last year and led to the dipshit Prime Minister demanding an apology from Pope Francis right up until rational people investigated and determined that the story had been grossly misreported by academic leftists and their media allies. Set aside the fact that the experts she marshals in support of her argument are all fellow progressive academics who reside in the same ideological bubble as she does. Beyond all that, the dumbest aspect of her argument is that the litany of white colonial settler sins throughout Canada’s history which Ms. Dysart so painstakingly enumerates has absolutely nothing to do with the truckers’ current grievances, despite her attempt to link them through the crazy and frankly obnoxious notion that “freedom” is a white concept which has no truck with people of color. Good lord.

I’m not surprised that this sort of piffle is being peddled by academic historians. Frankly, the discipline has been ruined by the faculty lounge crowd for some time now, and there is a reason why a set consisting of the best-selling authors in historical nonfiction and a set consisting of the leading historians in academia would have pretty much zero intersection on a Venn diagram. No doubt Ms. Dysart will eventually receive her sheepskin in full robe and tam, and will go on find some cozy sinecure at a middling university where she can indoctrinate young mushminds in her silly delirium.

But I do blame the Washington Post op-ed page editor for publishing this crap. Surely there has to be some point at which even a left-leaning editor says to him or herself, “No, this probably isn’t a good topic for yet another white privilege screed from a woke academic.” This really ought to have been just that instance, but it would seem that the WaPo is happy to champion mediocrity so long as it generally reflects the preferred progressive narrative. As Jon Levine and others have pointed out, the final submission wasn’t even properly copyedited and continues to contain a very clunky sentence that any competent editor would have caught: “The belief that one’s entitlement to freedom is a key component of White supremacy.” Perhaps not even the copyeditors at WaPo are willing to actually read Ms. Dysart’s dreck. Democracy may indeed die in darkness, as the paper is so fond of telling us, but democracy also dies in dumbness, which the Washington Post is making manifest these days.

– JVW

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:20 am



[guest post by Dana]

Getting this up early as I won’t have time later… Also, as a reminder, I post what interests me, and hope might interest you. But if these news items don’t, feel free to post the news items that interest you in the comments. Make sure to include links. Now, let’s go!

First news item

Kevin McCarthy endorses Cheney’s primary opponent:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has endorsed Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed opponent of incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming – a rare endorsement from leadership in a divisive GOP primary, and one that marks the culmination of a simmering feud between the two powerful Republicans battling over the future of their party.

The gulf between Cheney and McCarthy, summed up by Cheney:

The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy.

Second news item

Shameful:

With the Texas primary looming in less than two weeks, the Houston Chronicle…asked every Republican candidate running for Congress whether or not they believed the 2020 election was stolen or fraudulent.

Here’s what they found:

“Of the 86 with discernible stances, at least 42 have said outright that the 2020 election was stolen, called the results illegitimate or said they would have voted not to certify. Another 11 candidates have said there was enough fraud or irregularities to cast doubt on the results of the election. Just 13 said the results were legitimate.”

…Just 9% of Republicans running for Congress this year are willing to publicly state the fact that the 2020 election was free and fair. NINE percent!

And, that’s not an isolated finding. In CNN’s latest national poll, released earlier this month, 70% of Republicans said President Joe Biden’s victory was not legitimate. Another 45% of Republicans said that there was “solid evidence” to prove that fact.

Third news item

Squad goals “huge problem” to Democrats:

The hard-left politics of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and the so-called “Squad,” once a dominant theme for vast numbers of elected Democrats, is backfiring big-time on the party in power, top Democrats tell us.

…The push to defund the police, rename schools and tear down statues has created a significant obstacle to Democrats keeping control of the House, the Senate and the party’s overall image.

“It’s what we’ve been screaming about for a year,” said Matt Bennett, c0-founder of center-left Third Way, which launched Shield PAC to defend moderate Democrats.

“It’s a huge problem.”

The latest sign of the backlash was the landslide (70%+) recall this week of three San Francisco school board members…

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, told Axios: “What I’m hearing at home — and what I’m focused on — are commonsense, bipartisan solutions — from tackling grocery and gas prices, to cutting taxes and fixing our infrastructure, to investing in law enforcement and fighting crime.”

Fourth news item:

Trying to allay Democrat fears:

White House chief of staff Ron Klain promised Senate Democrats that President Biden will deliver an uplifting and inspiring State of the Union address…

Klain’s goal in addressing the Senate Democratic Caucus in person on Capitol Hill appeared to be to give lawmakers something positive to focus on instead of the president’s sagging poll numbers.

In fact, senators said there was no discussion of Biden’s weak public approval rating in battleground states that will decide in this year’s midterm elections which party will control the Senate in 2023.

Klain told senators that Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress next month will tout the president’s accomplishments from last year, which many Democrats believe are being undersold, and set a clear agenda for the rest of the year.

But the conversation, while very positive, was also very general and seemed designed not to make any big news before Biden’s moment in the national spotlight on March 1.

Some concerned centrists wanted Klain to talk about Biden’s weak poll numbers in key states, such as Pennsylvania, where an October Franklin & Marshall poll found that only 32 percent of registered voters their rated his performance as “excellent” or “good.”

…Klain didn’t touch on Biden’s poll numbers and instead tried to pump up Democrats about what he predicted would be a glowing and powerful report on the State of the Union…according to several senators who attended the meeting.

Related: Quinnipiac Poll:

Biden receives negative scores when Americans were asked about his handling of six issues…
• the Supreme Court: 40 percent approve, while 45 percent disapprove;
• the response to the coronavirus: 43 percent approve, while 53 percent disapprove;
• foreign policy: 35 percent approve, while 54 percent disapprove;
• tensions between Russia and Ukraine: 34 percent approve, while 54 percent disapprove;
• the economy: 33 percent approve, while 61 percent disapprove;
• gun violence: 24 percent approve, while 62 percent disapprove.
When it comes to the way Americans feel about Joe Biden:
• 34 percent like Joe Biden as a person and also like most of his policies;
• 21 percent like Joe Biden as a person but don’t like most of his policies;
• 4 percent don’t like Joe Biden as a person but do like most of his policies;
• 37 percent don’t like Joe Biden as a person and also don’t like most of his policies

Fifth news item

Ted Cruz’s mentor, former federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, blasts “utter madness” of Republicans’ embrace of Trump:

“For the past six years, I have watched and listened in disgust that not one single leader of ours with the moral authority, the courage and the will to stand up and say, ‘No, this is not who we are, this is not what America is and it’s not what we want to be,’ has done so.”

The final straws for Luttig were the Republican National Committee’s recent resolution that censured Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating on the Jan. 6 committee and called the insurrection “legitimate political discourse,” and Trump’s attacks on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for criticizing the RNC and of Pence for publicly stating “Trump is wrong” to say Pence could overturn the election.

Luttig elaborated by email: “This feels like a seminal moment in America when all of what the country has witnessed and endured for these years seems to be building to volcanic crescendo…. We are in political war to the death — with each other,” and “American democracy hangs in the balance.”

That more Republicans aren’t standing up to “this nonsense, this utter madness,” he said, is “the definition of failed leadership.”

Sixth news item

Before making a run for governor, maybe learn ballot requirements beforehand:

Oregon’s Democratic primary race for governor narrowed significantly Thursday, with the state Supreme Court ruling that former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof can’t run because he does not meet the state’s three-year residency requirement.

The high court upheld a January decision by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan that Kristof did not meet Oregon’s requirement that he have lived in the state since November 2019.

Seventh news item

JVW’s prediction comes true as Jeffrey Zucker’s paramour makes her exit from CNN:

[Allison] Gollust released a comment addressing her exit Tuesday night.

“WarnerMedia’s statement tonight is an attempt to retaliate against me and change the media narrative in the wake of their disastrous handling of the last two weeks,” she said. “It is deeply disappointing that after spending the past nine years defending and upholding CNN’s highest standards of journalistic integrity, I would be treated this way as I leave. But I do so with my head held high, knowing that I gave my heart and soul to working with the finest journalists in the world.”

As JVW told quipped to me: Sounds like she doesn’t plan to take this lying down, which is ironic since it would seem that she attained this position precisely through her willingness to lie down. What disgraceful people; what a disgraceful network.

Eighth news item

Bad news for BLM:

The beleaguered Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has been kicked off Amazon’s charity platform for its failure to disclose where tens of millions of dollars in donations it received nearly two years ago have ended up.

AmazonSmile, which gives a portion of eligible purchases on the online shopping site to charities, said it “had to temporarily suspend” the group today, an Amazon spokesperson told The Post.

“States have rules for nonprofits, and organizations participating in AmazonSmile need to meet those rules,” the spokesperson said. “Unfortunately this organization fell out of compliance with the rules in several states, so we’ve had to temporarily suspend them from the program until they come into compliance.”

Ninth news item

Paging President Biden:

I will witness the Games through my unique perspective as an Uyghur-American, but also as the daughter of Dr. Gulshan Abbas, a Uyghur retired doctor and peaceful public servant who spent decades caring for the members of her community until she suddenly disappeared from her home in Urumqi in 2018.

Since the day she vanished, my mother has been detained by the Chinese government in one of what it calls its “re-education camps.” But the world has come to recognize them as 21st century concentration camps.

We have not heard my mother’s voice since 2018, and despite my family’s pleas for even a simple update on her situation, we have received little to no information from the Chinese government. We do not even have proof that she is still alive. It is only hope and my fervent wishes that she will one day meet her three-year-old granddaughter that keeps me moving forward with the fight to see her freed.

My mother is not in prison because she is a criminal. She is in prison for one simple fact: The Chinese Communist Party can’t see past her ethnicity. She is in prison for the crime of being Uyghur.

The Chinese government may dismiss the accusation that it is carrying out genocide against my people and disregard international calls to close the camps and free all those detained Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. But when we know the names and stories of unjustly imprisoned individuals, the perpetrators should at the very least face intense pressure from the U.S. to release those individuals, especially the family members of the American citizens.

It’s a relatively small act for the leader of the free world to say the name Gulshan Abbas. It could change the course of my mother’s life.

Tenth news item

COVID-19 cautionary tale for US:

At the beginning of February, Denmark became the first major country to lift the last of its COVID-19 restrictions and effectively declare its part in the pandemic over.

Around the world, and especially in the United States, Denmark’s “liberation” from indoor mask mandates, vaccine passports and nightclub closures was heralded as a watershed moment — the shape of things to come. Democratic governors across the U.S. started rescinding their own mask rules a few days later.

“This marks the transition to a new era for all of us, because Denmark will once again be an open society, completely open,” said Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. “We dare to believe that we are now through the critical phase.”

Since then, however, Denmark has continued to record more COVID-19 cases per capita than nearly anywhere else in the world, and both COVID hospitalizations and deaths have shot up by about a third.

“Not looking good in Denmark,” Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Translational Institute, tweeted Sunday, sharing several charts that terminated in near-vertical upward lines. “Deaths are now 67% of peak, with a steep ascent.”

MISCELLANEOUS

No comment but definitely a smirk at these GOP candidates:

One more:

Texas GOP candidate Bianca Gracia pledged to be a “mini Marjorie Taylor Greene’ if elected to office.

Gracia, who currently serves as the president of the organization Latinos for Trump, made the comparison to the controversial Republican Georgia representative during an appearance on The McFiles podcast on Wednesday. She praised Greene as “the only one right now that’s really fighting back.”

“They don’t like her. So I might be a little mini Marjorie Taylor Greene,” she said. “I don’t know. They’re going to call me BRG.”

Have a great weekend!

–Dana


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