Beinart and Mandel Discuss Trump, Clinton, at JCC Manhattan

 

On Monday evening, liberal and conservative journalists Peter Beinart and Bethany Mandel, respectively, held a talk at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan prior to the first presidential debate between real estate executive Donald J. Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Over the course of the discussion, Beinart and Mandel both discussed a variety of notable moments and information about what might be the ugliest presidential election in contemporary United States history. Among them, Beinart pointed out how Clinton’s infamous “deplorables” statement and the Clinton campaign’s fumbling to disclose her pneumonia were perhaps the two lowest points of her campaign.

Mandel, whose rural upstate New York upbringing helped to shape her conservative worldview, mentioned that Trump’s appeal comes from rural whites who other candidates have neglected. She also highlighted Mozilla’s CEO losing his job due to his opposition to marriage equality as an example of the “political correctness” that many fear will affect them, and drive them to vote for Trump.

Beinart also highlighted that entertainment and politics have become increasingly intertwined in recent years, and touted the possibility that Trump was the end result of this problematic fusion.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the talk was Mandel’s mention that despite her conservative background, and despite the future of the Supreme Court laying in the balance in this election, she will vote for Clinton. Her reasoning being that she would rather have a Supreme Court that she disagrees with for at least a generation than risking the possibility of a world war, possibly involving nuclear weapons, if Trump were to be elected.

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My First Impressions of the 2016 Republican National Convention

 

The general election season got off to a rocky start on Monday as New York businessman Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, prepared to accept their nominations for president and vice president at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Unfortunately for them, things thus far have not gone as hoped.

From protests from the “Never Trump” faction of delegates and Ohio Governor John Kasich’s subtle attack on Trump’s authoritarian tendencies during the Republican Governors’ Association’s video to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s visible unhappiness during an interview, to allegations of Melania Trump plagiarizing a paragraph from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was followed by an onstage kiss between her and her husband that looked quite inauthentic, it was overall pretty hard to take the first day of the convention seriously.

The RNC so far has largely been an embarrassment. Only in the next few days will we learn whether it gets better as well as whether the nomination of Trump’s presumptive challenger and fellow New Yorker, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is any smoother.

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Jermaine Himmelstein and the 80-20 Rule

Everyone knows that New York City is a great place for people watching. Its buskers, immigrants, and various eccentric characters of local legend can enable tourists to have a truly exciting visit without requiring them to pay extra at the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.

Exciting as it may be, people watching in New York can be dangerous, as evidenced by Jermaine Himmelstein, better known as the “Free Hugs Guy,” who has a long history of violent and predatory behavior to those women who approach him for the free hugs he advertises. He made local headlines just days ago after he was arrested on Thursday for attacking and robbing a 22-year old Canadian woman after she refused to tip him for a hug. Covering the incident, The New York Times reported that Himmelstein’s mother has said her son is autistic. While his disability is not an excuse for his aggressive behavior, the Times’ reporting on it helps draw attention to the often problematic ways the media talks about mental illness and disability and violence.

Although Jermaine Himmelstein demonstrates that there are indeed people with mental disabilities and illnesses who threaten those around them, it is well-documented that such people are the minority. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, not only are no more than 5% of violent acts carried out by mentally ill people, but those with mental illnesses are ten times more likely to be victims of violence than the general population. A study carried out by the US Department of Justice from 2007 to 2009 had similar findings about people with disabilities. The findings of these studies demonstrate that Jermaine Himmelstein’s violent behavior, as well as such other prominent violent crimes carried out by those with or alleged to have mental illnesses and disabilities, such as Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman Adam Lanza. UC Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger was also widely reported to have had autism in the wake of his crime, even though the evidence for such a diagnosis was questionable at best. Regardless of whether Himmelstein, Lanza, and Rodger had mental illnesses or disabilities, the official statistics show that their actions make them part of the exception rather than the norm.

Ultimately, it’s fair to conclude that media coverage of the mental health of the minority of violent criminals with such illnesses and disabilities hurts the majority of people with such conditions who are not violent. Preexisting stigmas surrounding mental disabilities and illnesses make such reporting even more harmful to them. For such reasons, when someone such as Jermaine Himmelstein commits a violent crime, we all should divert our attention from their mental health or ability and focus on their actions instead.

 

Image Credits: by Andrew Savulich via New York Daily News 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 5, Militant Authoritarianism

 

In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

In the fifth post and conclusion of this series, I will focus on the militant authoritarianism present in the domestic and foreign affairs of both Ming China and the fascist states of Europe in the twentieth century.

Secret police played an important role in the administration of both fascist European countries as well as Ming China. For Mussolini’s Italy, the secret police, known as the Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism, or OVRA for short, worked to help keep Mussolini in power and combat Italian citizens opposed to him and his fascist ideology. In Nazi Germany, Gestapo played a similar role. Ming China’s secret police, the Jinyiwei, became influential following the execution of Chancellor Hu Weiyong for suspicion of conspiracy to overthrow the Hongwu Emperor.

The Jinyiwei’s rise was not the only way in which Ming China became more authoritarian following Hu’s execution. In fact, the Hongwu Emperor’s suspicions of his chancellor would lead him to completely abolish the chancellery and mandate that the responsibilities historically designated to the chancellor of China were now those of the emperor. Considering the chancellery had served as an important office in Chinese politics since at least the Spring and Autumn Period of the Eastern Zhou roughly two thousand years earlier, Hongwu’s efforts marked a greater concentration of power in the hands of the emperor of China.

In regards to foreign policy, fascist European states and Ming China both pursued aggressive expansionism. For Italy under Mussolini, this involved the conquest of Ethiopia and Albania as well as a consolidation of Italian political influence in Egypt, Libya, and Somalia with the intent of asserting Italian cultural supremacy in these places. In the case of Germany, Hitler would conquer such countries as Poland, France, Morocco, Greece, Denmark, and the Netherlands in the name of Lebensraum, or living space for the German people.

Ming Chinese expansionism stemmed  at least in part from the fact that it emerged from the rubble of the much larger Mongol Empire. This reality motivated Ming rulers to conquer territory that had been controlled by the Yuan Dynasty, but was not part of China proper. Perhaps the most notable areas the Ming conquered were on their southwestern frontier. The land they conquered there constitutes the present-day Chinese provinces of  Qinghai, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. Cooperating with indigenous Salar, Uyghur, and Hui Muslim peoples who accepted Ming rule peacefully, Yunnan was conquered and subsequently subjected to settler colonialist policies. These policies dramatically changed the demographics of the region, as these lands, which had previously been dominated by such ethnic groups as the Miao and Yao peoples, developed a Han Chinese majority. These policies would lead to several unsuccessful rebellions by the ethnic minorities in these areas, which would be defeated by the establishment of governance intended to acculturate them into Chinese society.

 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 4, Nationalism, Patriotism, Xenophobia and Racism

 

In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

This post will be dedicated to the roles of patriotism, nationalism, xenophobia, and racism in Ming China and the fascist states of twentieth century Europe.

Perhaps the most obvious examples of patriotism and nationalism that these societies had in common was the extreme glorification of their leaders. In such fascist European countries as Italy, Germany, and Spain, finding grandiose images of Mussolini, Hitler, or Franco in public places was an easy feat, and schoolchildren were required to praise them at the beginning of every school day.u

For the Ming, the imperial palace known as the Forbidden City served as a prime example of the glorification of their emperors. The Forbidden City, which was completed by the Yongle Emperor in 1420,  would feature an immense portrait of the reigning emperor in the front exterior. Every succeeding Chinese emperor until the Qing’s overthrow by the Guomindang in 1911 would have such a portrait featured there. Under communist rule, this practice has been adjusted, with a portrait of Mao Zedong taking the place of those of Ming and Qing emperors.

Racism in fascist societies, especially Nazi Germany, is well-known and well-documented, though views of racism differed from state-to-state. Under Hitler, Germany’s racial politics were rooted in the idea that some peoples were genetically and biologically inferior than others, with Northern European (Aryans) considered the “master race.” While Mussolini was also a racist, he believed that one’s race was not a product of genetics, but rather their culture. In other words, a person’s ethnicity did not matter in fascist Italy as long as they embraced Italian culture and asserted that it was superior to all other cultures.

Xenophobia in Ming China much more closely parallels Mussolini’s cultural racism than it does Hitler’s biological racism. Prior to the rise of the Ming, China was governed by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, which was deeply cosmopolitan and failed to consider that the Chinese had traditionally considered their culture superior to all others, fostering resentment from their subjects. Ming governance partially served to reinforce the traditional idea of the global supremacy of Chinese, and particularly Han Chinese, culture. However, upon overthrowing the Mongols, the Han supremacist Ming inherited a China that was more cosmopolitan than ever before. In order to address this problem, such emperors as Hongwu and Yongle applied traditional Confucian philosophy to these structural changes in order to make them compatible with their vision of a supreme Chinese culture in which one’s Chinese identity stemmed not from their ethnicity, but from their adoption of Han linguistic and cultural norms.

 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 3, Corporatist Economic Policy

 

In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

in order to demonstrate how China under the Ming Dynasty can be considered the world’s first fascist state. In the second post, I discussed patriarchy and rural values in Ming China and the fascist European states of the twentieth century. In this post, I will discuss the economic similarities between Ming China and said fascist states.

Because the economics of the fascist states of twentieth century Europe often varied in key ways from one another, it is hard to find a perfect way to describe a specific economic system as “fascist.” For this reason, the similarities between these countries and Ming China are not so obvious and must be understood in their respective historical contexts.

By defining fascist economics as “corporate,” that is to say that they benefit primarily those in power at the expense of those with less while at the same time not being truly capitalistic. This was the case with both Ming China and fascist European nations. In the case of the latter, a Social Darwinist approach to economics emerged in which wealthy businessmen were promoted while undermining working-class institutions. Although Ming China’s policies, at least early on, rejected such a view, its economy did increasingly liberalize over time in ways that are in some ways similar to, but cannot truly be compared to, capitalism. Because of some of the similarities in social Darwinist and capitalist thought, it is interesting to compare fascism’s “third way” rejection of free-market capitalism and Marxism to that of Ming China’s non-capitalist liberalism.

Ming China’s caste system also enabled a common practice that ensured that the wealthy would continue to benefit at the expense of those with less economic clout. Although merchants were the lowest caste in Ming society, their profession nonetheless enabled them to amass great amounts of wealth. The highest caste were the scholar bureaucrats who helped govern China, also known as “shi.” Members of the shi caste obtained their rank by passing an intensive exam on Confucian philosophy that any Chinese subject could take. However, caste and class did not always go hand-in-hand in Ming China. Because of this, merchants and shi would often partner with each other. For the shi, it was to learn the art of running a business from merchants in order to achieve wealth. For merchants, they wanted the shi to tutor them for the Confucian exams in order to help them improve their rank in Chinese society and achieve greater power and prestige. In this way, the wealthiest segments of Ming China would remain the most powerful at the expense of the other, less affluent, castes.

 

 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 2, Patriarchal; Rural Values

 

In my previous post, I first proposed the idea that China under the Ming Dynasty was the world’s first fascist state. I also defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

This post will be dedicated to explaining the first of these characteristics: patriarchal and rural values.

It is no secret that until no earlier than the late nineteenth century, China was among the most misogynistic societies in the world, if not the most. However, during the Ming Dynasty, this misogyny further intensified. Perhaps the most infamous example of such social trends involves the practice of foot binding, in which young girls’ feet were bound tightly to maintain their small size and break their arches for aesthetic purposes. Although this practice had existed in China for centuries prior to the rise of the Ming, it was much less common and virtually nonexistent outside of rural areas. Under the Ming, foot binding started to become mainstream in cities as well with the government’s encouragement.

Like the Ming, fascist rulers of European states in the twentieth century were also deeply misogynistic. In Italy under Mussolini, traditional gender roles were highly valued. Men were expected to be athletic and physical strength was prioritized over academic intelligence. Men who displayed any “feminine” attributes were regarded as biologically inferior to those with fewer or none. Not surprisingly, women were expected to work as housewives and avoid the public sphere.

Similar attitudes prevailed in Nazi Germany, where women were encouraged to leave the labor force and work as housewives. Due to the Nazis’ vision of the supremacy of a pure, Aryan race, German women were encouraged to only marry Nordic men and were expected to have as many children as possible. The Nazis even awarded those women who had given birth to at least four children.

The rural values of Ming China stemmed from the dynasty’s founder, Zhu Yuanzhang, also known as the Hongwu Emperor’s, peasant background. All too aware of the injustices Chinese peasants faced at the hands of the wealthy and the Confucian scholar bureaucrats that constituted the core of Imperial China’s political system, Hongwu instituted land reform intended to prevent peasants from losing their lands. He also implemented a caste system in which peasants were near the top and merchants were at the very bottom. Because merchants did not produce anything, Hongwu reasoned that their contributions to society were inferior to those of peasants, indicative of a sort of rural populism that would permeate Chinese society under the Ming.

In fascist Italy, ruralism was a product of Mussolini’s rejection of modernity in favor of tradition. The fascist ideal of a rural man was reflective of the regime’s traditionalist, anti-modernist worldview. Italian men were discouraged from relocating to metropolitan areas, as the urban lifestyle was considered emasculating.

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 1, Introduction and Defining Fascism

 

Of the world’s many great civilizations throughout history, few have generated the same amount of fascination as China. Among the reasons for Sinophilia are a history spanning over four thousand years, a rich culture and literary tradition, and a track record of great innovations in science, technology, philosophy, and many other intellectual pursuits.

Despite China’s rightful recognition for its achievements, few recognize that from 1368 until 1644, the ruling Ming Dynasty implemented what can be considered an early form of a political system that the world would not see again for several centuries. This political system, which most people would argue originated in Italy, is fascism.

Since the Second World War, the word “fascism” has developed highly negative connotations for understandable reasons, losing its original meaning in the process. In common parlance, the word is now usually used as a synonym for “authoritarian” or as an epithet to refer to political ideas or views that are at odds with those of the speaker. This colloquial definition of fascism is not the one that I will use for this series of posts. Rather, I will use a more academic definition based on characteristics of the political ideology embraced by and imposed on Italy under Benito Mussolini and such similar societies as Spain under Francisco Franco and Germany under Adolf Hitler.

By applying the commonalities of these societies to China under the Ming, I define fascism as “a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.” Each future post in this series will discuss one of these four criteria and how the political system of China under the Ming Dynasty wasn’t much different from that of many European nations in the twentieth century.

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Why I Hate Moral Relativism

As most of my veteran readers are probably aware (and all of my new readers should know,) I’m a product of the political Left. However, I am more than willing to stand by the political Right on the handful of issues on which I agree with them. For this reason, I feel it is my responsibility and obligation to attack an ideology that too much of the Left has embraced and that most of the Right, especially the religious Right, despises: moral relativism.

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, moral relativism can be defined as, “…the view that moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint…and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others.” In other words, moral relativists believe that the context behind actions, and not the actions themselves, determine their morality. In essence, while a moral absolutist could say that it is never acceptable to steal under any circumstances, a moral relativist could argue that stealing a loaf of bread to feed an impoverished family would be a moral act.

While I can see moral relativists’ points in many cases, it is also my view that the context behind actions which they use to determine morality is not a reflection of an action’s morality, but rather its necessity. Whether we like it or not, the world does not operate in a moral fashion. In every sedentary society in the world, some portion of the population is marginalized in some way. Similarly, the Soviet Union’s 1991 implosion proved that communism, despite being a morally superior ideology to capitalism in theory, is unworkable in reality. It is therefore safe to assume that despite our immense intelligence as a species, it is highly anthropocentric to say humans are a benevolent species and are anything more than apes.

Because the world is inherently immoral, people sometimes must do bad things in order to achieve good goals. For instance, the firebombing of German cities by American and British forces during World War Two was necessary to save Western European democracy from the dual evils of Nazism and Stalinism. As horrific as the bombings were for those who suffered most from them, their necessity to defeat Nazi Germany and undermine the Soviet Union’s geopolitical influence in Europe makes them necessary, understandable and perhaps even excusable, but still not moral.

Going hand-in-hand with moral relativism is its anthropological cousin known as cultural relativism. Cultural relativism teaches that one’s behavior must be understood in the context of their cultural background. While cultural relativism has value when it comes to such things as material and political cultures (the latter always having at least some degree of immorality,) it can be just as self-serving as moral relativism, and used to justify such historic and contemporary acts of barbarism as foot binding in China, sati in India, cannibalism in Papua New Guinea, female genital mutilation in Egypt, and human sacrifice in pre-Hispanic Mexico. While this school of thought originally was intended to serve as a non-ethnocentric alternative to an anthropology field that had long been dominated by imperialists, it can be argued to be just as racist, if not more so. According to Maryam Namazie, an Iranian-British human rights activist:

[Cultural relativism] is a profoundly racist phenomenon, which values and respects all cultural and religious practices, irrespective of their consequences…It asserts that the rights of people, women and girls are relative to where they are born, “their” cultures and religions. There is no right or wrong according to cultural relativists. As a result, cultural relativism supports and maintains sexual apartheid and violence against women…because it is “their culture and religion.”…

Cultural relativism doesn’t merely ignore violations ; it actually legitimizes them. Moreover, it never opposes any cultural or religious practices. Cultural relativism not only makes it unnecessary to oppose violations and lack of women’s rights, but also makes it racist and against freedom of choice to do so!

By pointing out that cultural relativism is too often used to to hold people to a lower moral standard, because of their religion or culture, Ms. Namazie demonstrates that cultural relativism can be seen as a smug, ivory tower form of racism little better, if at all better, than the pro-imperialist anthropological currents it was created to combat.

Namazie’s argument against cultural and moral relativism is further validated when one considers that in order to believe in these ideologies, one must hold different people to different moral standards or deny the existence of moral standards altogether. Such attitudes undermine the ability of law and order to prevail in a society, which while not always moral, are necessary for its survival. Furthermore, any legal system that officially holds different people to different moral standards will inevitably be ridiculously byzantine and unworkable. For these reasons, moral relativists should learn that morality and necessity are not the same thing, the world is inherently an evil place, excusing one’s bad behavior on the basis of their culture or religion is bigoted, and that no matter what we do, human societies will never be perfectly just and moral.

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Why the Illiberal Left Lost the Culture War

Over the past few years, a new strain of left-wing politics has become increasingly influential in American society, particularly among younger millennials. Though clearly a product of the left, it can hardly be considered “liberal” in the traditional sense of the word. This movement, which has become increasingly influential on college campuses and has been promoted by such social and news media outlets as Twitter, Tumblr, Gawker, Buzzfeed, Vox, Upworthy, and Everyday Feminism, focuses primarily on addressing social inequities faced by various marginalized groups such as women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community. Commendable as their efforts may be, activists within this movement have often been criticized for a variety of reasons, including the hostility of many to anyone who disagrees with them even slightly, a common tendency to manufacture controversy, and the widespread presence of open bigotry by such activists towards members of privileged groups. These criticisms, which are not necessarily without merit, have enabled critics of this “illiberal left” to pejoratively refer to them as “social justice warriors,” “white knights,” and “special snowflakes.”

Although adherents to this new left-wing movement have successfully drawn attention to many legitimate social issues, such as disproportionate police brutality against black and Hispanic Americans, the high prevalence of rape and sexual assault on American college campuses, and increased rejection of the gender binary, a number of recent developments seem to indicate that the worst components of the illiberal left have lost much of their influence, if not all of it.

Perhaps the first nail in the illiberal left’s coffin took place following the Charlie Hebdo shooting on January 7, 2015, when two French Muslim brothers forcibly entered the satirical newspaper’s headquarters and shot, killed, and injured dozens. The brothers’ sole motivation was retaliation against the publication for displaying cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on their cover.

Although most people condemned the acts of senseless violence, a vocal segment of the illiberal left, including Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, placed greater blame on the murdered cartoonists, arguing that satire should always “punch up”and never “punch down.” The idea behind this is that satire should serve to challenge the status quo, but never to attack marginalized populations.

A close look at Charlie Hebdo’s leanings serves to discredit these claims of the periodical “punching down.” The paper has a strongly left-wing, anti-racist political slant. It is also staunchly secular, and has a history of using distasteful cartoons to criticize morally questionable values and practices espoused by various religions, including Christianity and Judaism along with Islam. While it is wrong to judge people based on what they look like (racism), there is nothing wrong with judging people based on how they behave. Because religion can greatly shape a person’s behavior for better or worse, there is nothing wrong with criticizing interpretations which justify harming people. Based on these facts, it is clear that the cartoons that inspired the shooting weren’t so much an attack on French Muslims as they were a criticism of Islam.

Taking these facts into account, it is my view that by demanding the cartoons be censured, the illiberal left were the real Islamophobes in this incident, as their view implies that Muslims are incapable of responding to perceived aggressions and slights against their faith nonviolently. That is not to say that Muslims do not have the right to take offense to these cartoons (they do). However, murder is not an acceptable way to express offense. Had the shooters boycotted the paper or picketed in front of its offices, they would have been better able to garner sympathy from all people. Furthermore, common sense dictates that anyone who would consider an irreverent cartoon as bad as or worse than murder has their priorities completely wrong and would do well to have their heads checked.

More recent developments have also greatly hurt the illiberal left, especially on college campuses where they have more influence. In higher education, they have called for “trigger warnings” (an appropriation of accommodations for people with PTSD now primarily used to censor any academic content that could make anyone uncomfortable for virtually any reason,) the punishment of students who commit “microagressions” (unconscious and/or unintentional acts of discrimination, such as touching a black woman’s hair or talking to a developmentally disabled person in a condescending, sing-song tone of voice,) and the dis-invitations of speakers with views that run counter to large swaths of student bodies. On September 15, President Barack Obama openly advocated for less oversensitivity on college campuses, pointing out that efforts to curtail free speech undermined the ability of students to engage in meaningful dialogue with one another and learn from each other. As an icon of the American Left, Obama’s opposition to the efforts of the illiberal left to curb free speech on college campuses surely undermined their ability to do so.

While Obama’s opposition to the illiberal left’s extreme “political correctness” was instrumental in helping to defeat them, he is hardly the first prominent figure to speak out against this tool. In June, Jerry Seinfeld, arguably the most well-respected comedian alive, said in an ESPN interview that the new culture of political correctness was bad for comedy. While other comedians, such as Chris Rock and the late George Carlin, had expressed the same sentiment years earlier, Seinfeld’s opposition to the illiberal left paved the way for an even greater number of comics to speak out against it, including Bill Maher and Dave Chappelle. This widespread opposition to the “new political correctness”among so many comedians suggests that the efforts of the illiberal left were effectively, if not intentionally, stripping American society of one of the greatest things that can bring people together: laughter.

As distasteful as many of the illiberal left’s views may be, there are some things that they are absolutely right about. There ought to be greater awareness of privilege and power as well as greater efforts to address needs specific to members of various marginalized groups. However, censoring free speech is not the way to go by it. “Stunning and Brave,” the season premier of the nineteenth season of South Park, manages to lampoon the authoritarianism of the illiberal left while offering better solutions to the legitimate problems they seek to combat. Rather than demonizing people in positions of institutional power or punishing those who offend members of marginalized groups without malicious intent, such incidents should be used to foster dialogue so that both parties involved can learn from each other, an idea which at least in my eyes is more reasonable, humane, and perhaps most importantly, effective.

 

 

 

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