Of Curmudgeonly Interest This Week – 5 March 2017

I’ve got quite a few for you, this week: Keysar Trad, the inconvenient face of Islam in Australia. Clive James being an inconvenient conservative. Academics waking up to the fact that there is something rotten in the ivory towers, and Sam Harris waking up to the fact the left is rotten. Rebel Media taking a stand against Milo, and Mother Jones standing up for Trump. And more!

Muslims moan: Why Keysar Trad? Why?

A timely article, considering that Trad has been making headlines again with his statements regarding Koranic justification for domestic violence. Because, while the author might complain that “Trad represents himself as speaking on behalf of Islam and Muslims,” the inconvenient fact that the author chooses not to address is that, as the elected head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, itself “the national umbrella organisation for Australian Muslims representing Islam and Muslims at a national and international level”, it is Australia’s Muslims (or their representative organisations, anyway) who are choosing Trad to represent them.

Of course, this is not to say that all of Australia’s Muslims chose Trad, or that he represents the views of all Australian Muslims, any more than any particular Prime Minister represents the views of all Australians. But it does mean that Trad represents the views of enough of Australia’s Muslims that he has been chosen to represent them. In fact, Trad’s apparent standing in the Muslim community, rather than “shaky” as Hussein asserts, raises some thorny problems: if, as the elected representative of Australia’s Muslims, Trad represents a “socially conservative” rather than “moderate” version of Islam, then that seems to suggests that the “moderate” Islam of which Hussein apparently approves may not in fact represent the majority of Australia’s Muslims at all.

Finally, for all that Hussein complains about Trad’s views on, say, polygamy or homosexuality (and, of course, reaches for the predictable tu quoque fallacy vis-a-vis Christianity), she assiduously avoids the germane point: what does the Koran actually say?

As in the most recent Trad controversy, regarding wife-beating, the fact remains that, no matter how the apologists try and spin it, Trad was in fact accurately representing the Koran.


Don’t blame the west

“Blame the West” didn’t make it onto Laura McNally’s list of of Eight arguments we use to excuse terrorism, but here, Clive James takes that particular sophistry apart in an article that’s just as relevant today as it was in 2002. Guardian readers’ heads must surelyhave exploded on reading this.


The threat from within

The ivory tower dwellers are finally waking up to the monoculture and ugly groupthink that so many of them have been cultivating for the last fifty years. In the UK, the Adam Smith Institute has found that 80% of academics skew to the left. This bias, as they show, cannot be smugly hand-waved away as some function of intelligence (political allegiance among the top 5% IQ is split 50/50, similarly to the general population). Not only does this leave academia severely out of touch with the general public – especially the working-class whom left-wing academics so often piously profess to share allegiance with – it engenders a stultifying groupthink that too often leaves patently crazy ideas unchallenged, and foments such ugly intolerance as seen at Berkeley, Missouri, and other places.


This is how the left will die – Sam Harris

Hate!- 2 the Ranting Griffin

For someone who calls his podcast “waking up”, Sam is awfully slow to wake up to the fact that the left is already flatlining. The left is increasingly fetishising violence and has long fetishised authoritarian, repressive theocracy, with its infantile devotion to Islam. Anyone with half an ounce of critical thinking let the left leave them behind as it careened off into Crazy Town, long ago.

Related to this, in a timely rant, 2Griffin rails against the tide of hate and fetishised violence overwhelming political discourse. Shoe on head likewise pleads for this madness to end before forces that can’t be stopped get unleashed. Remember what Mister Senor Love Daddy said, folks.


I like Milo, but this time he’s wrong

A rational and clear argument. It’s good to see someone who’s not reflexively just circling the tribal wagons and defending “their guy”, right or wrong. Whether you agree with Jay Fayza or not – and I actually think he’s got some pretty good arguments here, even if I don’t agree with everything he says – it’s absolutely imperative that people who’re willing to stand up to groupthink are supported, not attacked. That’s what critical thinking is all about, folks – it doesn’t just mean criticising the people you don’t like.


No, Hitler was not democratically elected

Anyone who has read, for instance, Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,ought to be well aware that the Nazis were anything but “democratically elected”. Leaving aside that Weimar Germany was scarcely a democracy as we’d recognise it today, between colluding with a parallel state in the army, the violent intimidation of their opponents, and the assiduous machinations of the many anti-Weimar plotters like Schleicher, Papen and others, the Nazis’ road to power was paved by scarcely anything resembling a modern democracy.

But one really must begin to wonder at Simon Schama’s credibility as an historian. His claim that “democracy often brings fascists to power” doesn’t seem to be substantiated by the historical record at all. Fascists? Often? Where is his evidence for this extraordinary claim? How many fascists were ever democratically elected?

Mussolini’s Fascists, for instance, were installed via the controversial 1924 Italian elections, violent intimidation and the Acerbo Law – hardly a model of democracy.

In Spain and Portugal, Fascist regimes were installed or achieved power by coup d’etat.

The Nazis, as per Brendan O’Neill’s recent article regarding proper use of the word, were not even fascists, properly considered: they were National Socialists. Even so, as this article shows, they were not democratically elected.

So it’s not looking good for Schama’s claim at all.


How Social Justice Warriors Are Creating An Entire Generation Of Fascists

Both an excellent and an extremely silly article. After 1800 words cataloguing just how SJWs are in fact exactly the sort of bullying, authoritarian thugs that Orwell concluded most people commonly associate with the word “fascist”, Goldberg instead lamely concludes that it’s not really the SJWs who are the fascists, after all, but some “far-right” boogey-man he claims they might end up provoking … eventually.

There are none so blind, as they say …


We Should Practice Truth in Statistics, Even When It Hurts

This is extraordinarily good journalism from Mother Jones. As Drum says, while almost every mainstream journalist and everyone on the left ignored the usual ambiguities of Trump’s public speaking style in order to straw-man him, and pretend he was making up a fake terrorist attack again, it’s most likely Trump was referring to something else – in this case a Tucker Carlson report on immigrant crime in Sweden, which indeed aired the night before.

In which case, as Drum says, the proper response of good journalists shouldn’t be to mock away the president’s remarks, but to investigate – and to report the truth, even when it rubs up against the journalists’ preferred narrative.

Which, to his credit, is exactly what Drum does here.

This is good journalism. Full credit to Mother Jones for publishing this.

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