The Critics Respond, Part Fifty-Two (Special Double Critic Edition)

I came home from dinner this evening to find two very different recent responses to posts here on Riverside Green. The first one, shown above, was a past-the-buzzer drop-in on this month-old post about the largely unremarked-upon death of a veteran at the Capitol. The second one was in response to yesterday’s post about Chinese power and influence in this country. In addition to being longer, it was considerably better-argued.

If you will all permit me a bit of latitude, however, I’d like to address them together, because I believe there’s more to be learned by doing so.

We’ll start with “Fuck Trump”, who says that

Bitch deserved it. Play stupid games win stupid prizes. Charles Whitman, Lee Harvey Oswald and Tim McViegh were veterans too. SO FUCKING WHAT? They should be held to a HIGHER standard, not allowed to break the law because they were too fucking stupid and poor to do anything else. Fuck her and fuck you stupid trumpers. The only issue I have is that more of you fuckwits weren’t shot. Fucking dumb bitch. And fuck all of you dumb white trash, sibling fucking, mouth breathing, dipshit, fuckwit, redneck, hillbilly pieces of shit. You are all fucking SCUM. Subhuman filth and scum.

Theoretically this was posted from St. Louis, MO, although maybe he was behind 7 proxies, so who knows.

I’m embarrassed to say that my immediate mental response to this was something along the lines of, “I’m almost certainly less of a redneck than you are, I was born in New York to a third-generation family of native New Yorkers, there’s a school on the Eastern Seaboard named after my maternal great-grandfather. I breathe with my mouth closed and I’m married to a woman who was born three time zones away in a family that couldn’t have been related to mine before the founding of Rome, much less any time recently. I have a tailor on Savile Row, I’ve been published in Esquire and quoted in The Atlantic… so feel to stuff all of up that your hick ass, ya prole.”

After chewing on it for a few minutes, however, I’ve settled upon the following: I’m proud to be an adopted Ohioian and spiritual Midwesterner. I don’t particularly want to live anywhere else. If I wanted to live in Manhattan or San Jose, I could do it. There’s no zip code in the country beyond my ability to buy a home, although not all of said homes would be Instagram-worthy. Still, I’m here in rural Ohio, by choice. There are times I dislike it; that’s probably the native New Yorker in me, since the majority of native New Yorkers hate where they live, as well. It’s just that they’re still in New York.

Similarly, I’m not really a “Trumper”. I didn’t vote for him in 2016, because I thought the fix was in for Hillary and I had business travel on Election Day. If I woke up tomorrow as President, I guarantee you that very few of my executive actions and legislative efforts would mirror his. Yet the more I think about it, the more comfortable I am being called a stupid and poor Trumper. It doesn’t take a penny out of my pocket. To misquote Kipling,

No matter what happens, I have got
A Gibson R9 CC#01 Melvyn Franks
And you have not

The fact is that I would rather be lumped in with every hateful stereotype of Flyover Country than be affiliated in any way with the kind of person who thinks he’s made a legitimate point with the above post. The Midwest is filled with good people. It’s also filled with bad people. That’s the way of humanity. I’m happy to claim Ohio. And I don’t have a sister. Thanks for your response. Hope it gets you some Internet Points with your betters.

Our next comment is lengthy but worth considering in its entirety:

To take issue with some tertiary points from the top of this piece:
I’m currently completing a PhD in linguistics and rhetoric and I’ve noticed a persistent theme in Jack’s writing on contemporary attitudes about race. The premise of Jack’s arguments generally assume that there is this looming specter of Critical Race Theory poisoning everything (read: in reality, Critical Race Theory is not a unified field with some blanket, agreed-upon set of assumptions, but rather a publishing sub-discipline within the humanities in which thinkers with different ideological assumptions argue about the categories humans fairly arbitrarily create in order to distinguish themselves from each other [white/black etc] and how these categories then influence daily life on a social and especially legal level– I read a lot of stuff within this field as part of my professional research). In addition to kind of hazily and inaccurately defining what CRT actually is, Jack often implies that CRT posits race as an essentializing force– “white” = bad while “POC” = good. In fact, one of the only agreed upon premises in CRT is that precisely the opposite is true, that race is a sociological construct and we operate within this reductive mindset primarily because we were socialized into it. It’s the reason people can racially “pass” when it is advantageous– there’s no inherent biological “essence” of race. It’s just kind of a category that emerges when people have to mentally categorize and do so on the basis of appearance and proximity. This is the reason folks as disparate as the Irish and Nordic and Pict and Caucasian are all sociologically “coded” as white in modern US discourse, while people from all across the continent of Africa, and sometimes India and the Middle East are coded as “black.” Obviously, this kind of simplified categorization creates real social problems, especially in a country where for hundreds of years, skin color was almost universally correlated with legal personhood. In any case, I point this out because when Jack performatively lampoons a term like, “multiracial whiteness,” he is criticizing a definition that the majority of respected scholars in the CRT field (read: not “diversity seminar leaders” or “tiktok users”) would never use– this reductive notion he paints that “multiracial whiteness” implies that sometimes nativist people of color are borderline “possessed” by a spirit of “whiteness.” Instead, the CRT scholars are arguing that the white/black racial frame that came to dominate American social life (as European immigrant groups found it desirable to avoid the oppressive effects of being “othered” on their new continent–see Irish or Italians slowly shedding cultural affect in order to be coded as “white” and thereby find admission to the professions and polite society) is simply a socialization that most of us contact in the course our American lives, and that this social categorization (often denoted by the noun “whiteness”) has effects on all of us. It may even lead people to adopt traits they perceive as being more desirable to powerful groups, while disassociating from those with less cultural capital (again, see the Irish assimilating into whiteness, “colorism” within black communities, etc). I point this out, because when I see claims from my field being painted in misleading and inaccurate ways, it makes it harder for me to respect the rest of the argument in the piece. I find myself thinking, “did Jack intentionally misrepresent this concept from CRT in order to dunk on people he doesn’t like, or is he genuinely just not conversant with some of the terms he seems increasingly interested in writing about?”

The lazy wave-off response to this is that I’ve only mentioned CRT directly once on this website over the span of five years or so — but that’s disingenuous, because much of what I’ve discussed has some sort of foundation in CRT.

I will readily accept without question the commenter’s assertions that Critical Race Theory, as properly taught and discussed at an academic level, is not a buckshot takedown of “whiteness” but rather an umbrella discipline that seeks to understand race as a sociological construct. You could argue that Danzy Senna’s amusing novel Caucasia, with its repeated spirals down the pathways of “passing” and identity, is a sort of literary CRT touchpoint, the same way that Tropic of Cancer was an attempt to put a fictional veneer on some ideas about nihilism and enlightenment.

Furthermore, I have no doubt that were I to sit in on a 600-level CRT class taught by, and attended by, first-rate minds, I would almost certainly find myself agreeing with many of the assertions and/or disagreeing with other assertions in a manner consistent with other students of the field. In addition, I freely admit that my engagements with CRT on this website are of a practical nature, rather than an academic one. You will never point your browser at Riverside Green and read a traditional academic-style discourse on CRT, or anything else for that matter. I don’t think anybody wants to read that stuff unless it’s directly pertinent to their obtaining an advanced degree.

So let’s take a look at the central question again:

did Jack intentionally misrepresent this concept from CRT in order to dunk on people he doesn’t like, or is he genuinely just not conversant with some of the terms he seems increasingly interested in writing about?

I assure you it’s neither. Instead, I’d like to suggest that my attitude towards CRT is the same as my attitude towards any number of other academic disciplines, from nuclear physics to “social engineering”-style hacking to virus research, namely: this stuff is dangerous in almost anyone’s hands, and should be treated accordingly. I mean, there are people in university laboratories right now experimenting with everything from crack cocaine to COVID-22, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to let that stuff run free.

Let’s use the discussion of “whiteness” in the comment above as an example. If my academic understanding is correct, “whiteness” means a couple of things. It’s an American (and, to some degree, colonial) concept brought about in opposition to “blackness”. In other words, you have all these European ethnic groups that are often in open conflict with each other both overseas and in the United States — but when confronted with the idea of “blackness”, these groups unconsciously band together to form “whiteness” as a sort of racist Voltron. The Englishman may have disdain for the Frenchman, the German may express open contempt for the Italian, but when confronted with the Black “other”, they will put those differences aside to some degree. Therefore, “whiteness” is inherently negative; not “negative” in the sense of “bad”, but because it just means “not a Black person”.

The second aspect of “whiteness” has to do with fundamentally European, and often specifically Anglo-Saxon, moral and practical concepts as they are expressed in America. The Smithsonian ruffled a lot of feathers when it said that “objective, rational, linear thinking,” “quantitative emphasis,” “hard work before play,” and various other values are aspects and assumptions of whiteness. A lot of people took that as either a bizarre deconstructive attack on Black people or an attempt to turn obviously positive qualities into negative qualities, presumably in service of a malicious end.

And yet… Anyone who ever worked in an Italian or Spanish factory can tell you that these “whiteness” qualities are really Northern European qualities, often heightened in their expression by the adoption of traditional Protestant ethics. When the French take their month-long summer vacances, or when the Spaniards take a nap in the afternoon, are they anywhere close to this “whiteness”? So there’s actually a bit of academic interest to be had in the study of these concepts. Our commenter mentions that the Irish were adopted into “whiteness” at some unspecified point that was certainly after the days of Bill The Butcher. This is worth studying. At what point did American Irish adopt “whiteness” — which is to say, at what point did American Irish adopt a set of German-derived values and ideals?

Alternately, why are German-Americans less into “whiteness” than German-Germans? How was it that Germans were able to build the world’s first functioning jet plane en masse in frickin’ CAVES out of FAKE MATERIALS in 1943 while they were being bombed day and night by B-17s, while the Americans, who barely saw as much as a Japanese balloon over San Francisco, couldn’t even get the lame-ass Lockheed Shooting Star into theater a year after V-E Day? I know we’ve all heard about the “Hidden Figures” movie that explains how Black women got us to the moon, but has anyone given that much thought to the fact that the entire practical space program, up to and including the moon landing, came courtesy of people who had been card-carrying members of the Nazi Party? There are about half as many German-Americans as there are German-Germans in the world, self included. Why didn’t we build the W126 560SEL?

So yeah, this field of “whiteness” is fascinating, the same way it’s fascinating to study anthrax. The problem is that once you start mailing either of these things to regular people, all hell breaks loose. The nuances of “whiteness” in the academic setting, once handed to the 110-IQ set, are immediately degraded into insanely racist and depraved fairytales where every European-American in the country has the soul of a plantation overseer and is continually thirsting for the blood and suffering of “PoC”. (PoC, of course, are the opposite of “whiteness”, which is the opposite of “black”, but not all PoC are “black”, so make of that what you will.) In the hands of certain non-whites, “whiteness” becomes a bludgeon for explicit extortion; in the hands of certain white people, “whiteness” becomes the self-flagellating potlatch by which “goodwhites” show their effortless superiority to “badwhites” like… those Trumptard redneck sister-lovers here at the controls of Riverside Green.

And thus we see the Circle of Life for Critical Race Theory: developed and studied with harmless and genuine intent by certain intellectuals, it winds up as a way for certain white people to show us all how much better they are than other, profoundly unenlightened, white people. It’s not the first academic discipline to be misused like this, or even the twentieth; the atomic bomb is a byproduct of atomic-power research, and Viagra was supposed to be some kind of heart medicine, I think.

Therefore, our commenter is precisely correct when he asserts that I have chosen to engage with the “dumbed-down” or weaponized variants of CRT rather than with the pure source of said theory, and there is a reason for that, namely: I have no beef with this, or almost any other, academic discipline. My problem is how it is used in practice to create this narrative of evil “whiteness”. That narrative is destructive, divisive, hateful, and occasionally outright evil. And while CRT is perhaps not directly responsible for the kind of vicious anti-flyover rant that opens this column, it is frequently used to provide legitimacy, shelter, and strength to the mindset that produces those rants.

In a way, the second comment considered today reminds me of all the kind-hearted young academics who say that “real socialism has never been tried”. Well, there’s a reason for that. Real socialism has never been tried because, like certain metals, it bursts into violent flame the minute it is exposed to open air. You start with the reasonable idea that “maybe it shouldn’t be legal to have a company town where you pay in company scrip” and almost immediately you’re killing everyone who wears glasses. Similarly, the pure academic discussions of Critical Race Theory are simply too useful in their perverted form to ever have a chance of remaining pure. Admit it — didn’t you get a bit sleepy-eyed when I was talking about “whiteness”? Sure you did. But nobody gets sleepy when the topic at hand is “Kill Whitey”, particularly when you get to determine exactly who Whitey is, and who he is not.

Therefore, Your Honor, I plead Not Guilty to the charge of Straw-Mannin’, because the Straw Man in this case is actually a Stay-Puf Marshmallow Man devastating the American landscape. I readily admit that I do not, and have not, and likely will not, engage in any way with the pure form of CRT as it is taught by and for the best and brightest. I hope that this does not exclude me from your reading list now, or in the future. From Flyover Country, where the sisters are hot and the necks are red, this is your humble ZX-14R-riding, flannel-shirt-wearing*, gun-totin**, McDonald’s-eatin’***, author, signing off.

* okay, it’s a Tattersall, and it was custom-made by Budd

** well, I’m really just totin’ an airsoft gun, the Krytac Vector, with MOSFET motor control and a microswitch trigger, shooting luminescent tracer BBs through an Acetech faux silencer. No actual guns toted, expressed, or implied here at Riverside Green; like Tori Amos, I believe in peace.

*** no real qualifications on this part, I eat McDonald’s all the time, it’s part of why my cholesterol count looks like a Hellcat horsepower figure

88 Replies to “The Critics Respond, Part Fifty-Two (Special Double Critic Edition)”

  1. Ark-med

    There’s an Arab saying to the effect of, “my brothers and I fight each other; my brothers and I fight my cousins. My brothers, my cousins and I fight you.”

  2. LynnG

    One has to wonder if CRT is just a way to defend lack of accimulation by the latest wave of immigrants into America largely due to the agenda of bilingual everything. At one time not so long ago elementary schools were taught in english, forms and applications were in english, business signs were in english. Now not to sound like Trans-Am driving, flannel shirt by Wrangler wearing, gun totin’ 12g by Remington, Cracker Barrel eating, sounthern red neck…. but I can remember one of my most relevant experiences related to assumulation. In undergraduate school I was driving to a conference in Houston with my then girl friend when a green and whit Chevy Impala began to follow us (note to non-southerns in the early 1990’s green and white Chevy Impalas were the vehicle of choice for Customs and Border Patrol). Well after a 8 or 10 miles he hit his lights and I pulled over. A CBP agent approached the drivers window and I asked what was the problem officer. He looked right past me and asked my girlfriend in Spanish if he could see her Green Card. Well this about to get interesting. She looked at me and said what did he say and I told her, and I ducked under the steering wheel, figuratively. She told the CBP officer that she did not speak Spanish and that she did not have a Green Card and that her family had been in Texas before there was a Texas and before there was a United States. The point being is her family had assumilated into Texan and American culture but still physically looked Spanish. Likewise Jack’s German ancestors assumilated, Irish Americans accimulated, Italian Americans accimulated…. but currently the idea is that people come to America but do not seen interested in being American…. my 2-cents worth….

  3. Dan

    The greatest joy in the printed word to me is coming across something that I already thought written more eloquently than I could previously think it. This was one of them. Bra fucking Vo jack.

    • Ken

      Same here. The concept of “white-ness” or perhaps “American White-ness” is interesting.

      At the risk of showing my naivety (or perhaps my 110 IQ!) – is this concept tied directly to skin tone?

      I ask because I have had experiences with friends who are of color; bemoaning the fact that they are referred to as “too white” by their contemporaries.

      To that end, I’ve personally interpreted this “white-ness” as: neutrality to cultural bias (dialog, clothing, etc), politeness, professionalism, common courtesy, and well, just generally being a decent functioning human in society.

      If I were to liken it to computer terms, I consider this an API. A uniform set of principals and code for which we can interact; even though our programming is quite varied.

      If that’s a bad thing, I have trouble comprehending.

      Basically, I’ve never had a problem with anyone until they’ve opened their mouth.

    • NoID

      That statement is at the same time correct and incorrect, depending on what metrics you’re using. It’s also grounds to either praise you or burn your city to the ground, depending on whether you use it to agree or disagree with people who do or do not look like you.

      So much for objective truth.

  4. John C.

    Thanks Jack, for not perforating me on a regular basis like you and Ronnie did this guy. I have to say though, I am glad he posted. It is always good to hear the other side at a higher IQ level, so we better understand what we are facing.

  5. John Van Stry

    This is what we’re up against, the decline and fall, not really all that unlike Rome when you think of it. The first poster wants us all dead because we don’t think like he does.
    The second poster thinks he just knows so much better than we do and is happy to school us on it. I’m sure he’ll be schooling us while his friend above holds our heads below the water and drowns us. All the while telling us we’re not being drowned at all, because he and his friends don’t use that definition of the word.

    Neither one of them is as smart as they think.
    Both of them want to see Rome fall and be destroyed by the visgoths. One’s just more upfront about it.
    But they’re both working towards it.

    • Keaton Lamle

      I am the second poster and am gonna go ahead and defend myself, here. The first commenter is an insane bigot and I hope to God he is never in the position of being able to drown someone (although, I’m also scared he already maybe has?) And you’re wrong about my motives. Far from rooting for some sort of decline, I like the idea of an America that lives up to its marketing material. In any case, my guess is that our backgrounds and work histories and assumptions about life aren’t all that different and we can definitely have conversations about this stuff without accusing each other of being existential threats to “the American way of life,” etc. We’re just dudes, talking.

      • John Van Stry

        You spent how many thousand words defending CRT? For which there is no defense, by claiming that everyone else is ‘wrong’?
        CRT = White Man Bad.
        I don’t care what YOU think it means, because according to the law and the government, the people who get the sayso and have the guns it’s – White Man Bad.
        Honestly, I stopped reading what you had to say after a couple hundred words, because you were just filibustering. I suspect any conversations with you would lead to the same.

        And I can assure you that our work background are most likely very different. Especially our backgrounds in life.

      • Eric L.

        You posted using your real name and face, kudos.

        I guess I don’t understand why you were interested in pursuing that degree, when you already earned one that seems useful enough for a career in writing? Is the goal to teach CRT to kids? Or are you planning on working as a mole from inside our brave new woke society to steer them to less-dangerous harbors?

        @Mr. Van Stry: “All the while telling us we’re not being drowned at all, because he and his friends don’t use that definition of the word.” had me cracking up. NewSpeak the likes of which I’ve never seen has evolved into NewActions that are far more insidious. “Suffocating? I’m not suffocating you, citizen. That’s just your white privilege shriveling up inside your chest. Now put on another mask and hold out your arm for your next injection.”

        • Keaton Lamle

          I love teaching about language and culture, and how humans negotiate meaning to get things done. The conversations I get to have with students from a variety of cultural and belief backgrounds enrich my life. And I enjoy research and publication. Those are the reasons I’ve pursued my degree: I like to teach and research in addition to just writing. Plus health insurance.

          To answer your second question, I can’t imagine many scenarios in which anybody would get to, “teach CRT to kids.” These corners of social theory typically come up as things we hit in other classes: for instance, if you’re taking a class on language and the law, you might read a couple of articles by critical race theorists who trace the ways legal personhood was explicitly predicated upon skin color in various federal court decisions well into the 20th century. Or (in my case), if I’m teaching a writing studies class in which one of the goals is to explore different ideas about how language creates culture, I might assign one reading out the 25 or 30 throughout our semester in which someone like Cornel West connects his philosophy of language origin to topics of contemporary debate.

        • yossarian

          You posted using your real name and face, kudos +1

          i sometimes worry that this site is becoming another internet echo chamber. Conversations like this one give me hope.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            Me too. Trying to think of a strategy to address this that doesn’t have the M-word involved.

      • Disinterested-Observer

        To paraphrase Gunny Hartman, Keaton is silly and he’s ignorant, but he’s got guts, and guts is enough in my beloved commentariat! Now, you ladies carry on.

  6. Peter Green

    well fuck both of these morons. I’m dying my skin green tommorrow, to avoid race classification by imbeciles like this, and stay alive once the fascist “liberals” start executing everyone they disagree with

  7. stingray65

    “I’m currently completing a PhD in linguistics and rhetoric” – you can pretty much stop reading right there because anyone who is currently completing a humanities or social science PhD has spent 4+ years being indoctrinated in pure Leftist drivel, and can look forward to a career as an adjunct instructor at some community college earning far less less money per hour than the soon to be $15 per hour McDonald’s “would you like fries with that” order clerk.

    As for CRT – it is a theory that basically ignores biology (DNA and evolution) and psychology (IQ) to argue that race is a social construct and that differences in outcome are therefore purely a matter of socialization based discrimination based on superficial appearance differences (i.e. skin color, eye shape, nose shape, head size, body shape, etc.). In contrast, DNA research (i.e. real science) is finding that traditional color based racial classifications are accurate in corresponding to racial differences in DNA, although there are also differences within racial groups that are also distinguishable which means that white Italian DNA is identifiably different than white Swedish DNA (and why West African DNA wins the 100 meter dash and East African DNA wins marathons). This should be expected by anyone who “believes science” because natural selection over hundreds of generations of habitation in very different physical environments would tend to favor certain characteristics that increase the survival and reproduction rates over those without the characteristics. One of those characteristics is IQ, which has generally been more valuable in cold places where being smart helps in surviving long winters, which is why the highest IQ races and ethnicities tend to be from places that have real winters, and the lower IQ races and ethnicities tend to be from places with relatively mild seasonal variations. Even though IQ is the most validated and tested “social construct” in the social sciences, most humanities and social science PhDs hate the concept because it so simply and cleanly explains why some groups tend to do better than others in modern economies. They greatly prefer to come up with clever theories totally divorced from real science and unbiased observation such as CRT to blame millions of innocent people for being racist, and waste billions of dollars in equity and anti-racial training and affirmative action and racial quotas that won’t change the IQ differences between racial groups, but will make everyone angry, bitter, and envious.

  8. NYCFinanceGuy

    The problem I have with CRT students, and with woke progressives in general is: they may spend lots of time analyzing and thinking about racism, but in the end their output sucks.

    Case in point: every single NYC progressive wakes up every single morning in a city where the vast majority of Blacks and Hispanics fail state assessment tests, while most whites and Asians pass them (pre-pandemic numbers – it’s probably worse now). The NYC schools are failing these kids, and yet the woke progressives seem to think that the highest priority is tearing down old statues, enforce politically correct speech, and force whites to acknowledge “privilege” rather than fix the real problems that POC face.

    In the rare moments that woke progressives even think about the failing schools, they say the problem is “school segregation”, and that the predominantly white schools need to enroll more Black and Hispanic students. The problem with this argument is that only a small percentage of the NYC schools are predominantly white – this isn’t a real solution that can positively impact the vast numbers of Black and Hispanic kids.

    It’s hard for me – or anyone – to take woke progressives seriously when they come to such ridiculous conclusions about how to fix the real, underlying problems. Without impactful results, CRT grad students are ultimately just doing years and years of mental masturbation.

    • stingray65

      The problem with CRT academics and practitioners (aka race hustlers) is that facing the truth would mean their entire field of study and income potential collapses. They want to believe that “racist” tests and “white privilege” are why black and Hispanic kids can’t get into elite schools in proportional numbers, but can’t explain how racist tests and white privilege somehow don’t effect the Asian kids who dominate the enrollment at the same schools other than to make up some “theories” about how Asians have been brainwashed into accepting the racist “white culture” of working and studying hard and following rules. They also can’t explain why 50+ years of civil rights, war on poverty, affirmative action, and racial quotas have failed to close the black-white achievement gaps other than to bring up “systemic racism” that again doesn’t seem to have any negative impact on Nigerian immigrants, or Asian immigrants and any number of other ‘colorful’ immigrant groups who have more educational and economic achievement than “privileged” whites, nor how the black-white achievement gap shrank the fastest during the Jim Crow era when “blaming the victim” was allowed and even encouraged.

      Of course the other problem with much of the CRT crowd is that they work in government, where solving problems is never a solution because then they can’t justify more spending and more staffing.

    • Dan

      Consider the possibility that the output they’re actually seeking is something other than uplifting brown people and it adds up just fine.

    • Keaton Lamle

      Though I like to vainly describe myself as politically agnostic, I suppose I shouldn’t flatter myself by trying to duck the term, “white social progressive.” And even so, I am with you on this, NYCFinance, despite my BLM march and Whole Foods cheese puffs. It does seem to me that when it comes to issues like affordable housing and systemic racism in public education, white progressives like myself are more content to engage in self-congratulatory genuflection with our yard signs than, ya know, propose practical solutions (like, say, letting go of our NIMBYism and allowing the market to operate on its incredible, pent up demand for new construction of housing within cities). I am reminded by your NYC schools example, for instance, of the fact that so many of the wealthy white people of San Francisco perform their social views while weaponizing zoning ordinances to ensure that their property values skyrocket while middle class and working class people move or become homeless. And there seldom seems to be much reflection or repentance (and worse– this spawns the kind of nihilistic “dirtbag leftists” who then want to bomb out the rich liberals who are ostensibly on their side). I don’t know much about NYC schooling policy, but I know that the news we get about it down here in Atlanta makes things sound like the city’s governance on this issue has been an unmitigated disaster during the pandemic. In any case, to your larger question of whether this all amounts to so much mental masturbation, I’m not so sure. For one thing, my colleagues in academia (I know, I’m cringing having typed this) are the people I know who are most passionate about the specific education concerns you shared here. But as to the “outputs”– I think it may be a generation or two before we can analyze the data and answer that question. It does seem like the sort of neoliberal (apologies for using such a loaded term) approach to social policy that gave us decisions like Brown v. Board (“the problem is that non-white students just need to be exposed to white students who don’t want them there, then everything will work out!”) and the progressive-in-name-only policies of NYC and SF have mostly failed. But I also see widespread discontent among those on the left with those policies. For me, it remains to be seen whether this populist energy will coalesce into something corrective and productive that ousts people like Diane Feinstein in favor of somebody better, or will congeal under the perverse incentives of American politics into something toxic and hateful like the Tea Party and Trump movement, which both found their roots in what was probably a healthy frustration with the GOP establishment. TLDR version: I hope we get the leftist version of Justin Amash out of this civil discontent, although I’m sometimes scared we will get the leftist version of Josh Hawley.

      • stingray65

        “toxic and hateful like the Tea Party and Trump movement”

        Do you mean toxic as in staying true to the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers? Do you mean toxic as in enforcing laws equally and without bias? Do you mean toxic like putting the rights and welfare of US citizens ahead of the rights and welfare of illegals and the Chinese Communist Party? Do you mean toxic as in leaving peaceful protest areas without vandalizing or looting, and cleaner than it was before the event?

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        Perhaps the great philosophe can explain how one can be “politically agnostic” while self identifying as “progressive”.

        Maybe your next academic project can be on the oikophobia of progressives formerly from backwards small towns.

        I don’t know who are worse, those who gain entry to the Elect (props to John McWhorter) by birth, or those who cravenly seek admission to prove they are better than their roots.

        • Keaton Lamle

          Ronnie, I am going to assume your first question is sincere and answer it sincerely. I consider myself agnostic in terms of partisanship, party ID, and political maneuvering, but do have fairly strong ideological preferences when it comes to championing civil liberties, maintaining a strict reading of constitutional procedures and judicial precedents, and pursuing progressive (as opposed to fixed/reactive) avenues for social and economic inclusion.

          Serious Q, though. Is it really necessary to keep personally attacking me? I have enjoyed your music writing in the past and have to say it doesn’t feel great to be repeatedly met (by someone I enjoy reading) with such intense disdain every time I try to signal that my intentions are good faith conversation here, and that I’m not some sort of insulated person who’s looking to hang anybody who doesn’t, like, work at a bar in Brooklyn.

          • Ronnie Schreiber

            I’m not some sort of insulated person who’s looking to hang anybody who doesn’t, like, work at a bar in Brooklyn.

            I’ll take your word for it but I worry that should the hanging actually start, your strongest reaction might be “Tsk, tak,” until those with the rope have you in their sights for some perceived ideological heresy.

            championing civil liberties

            How do you feel about the 2nd Amendment? Do I have the right to own an AR-15? Should their be “hate speech” limits on the 1st Amendment? Are property rights civil rights?

            maintaining a strict reading of constitutional procedures and judicial precedents

            So you agree that Texas had a strong constitutional case that Pennsylvania and some other states violated constitutional procedures and judicial precedents in weakening voter security and permitting widescale voting irregularities.

            pursuing progressive (as opposed to fixed/reactive) avenues for social and economic inclusion.

            Please give us some examples of societies where the implementation of progressive, as opposed to fixed/reactive, avenues for social and economic inclusion actually resulted in greater social and economic inclusion, greater economic and political freedom, and greater wealth for more people. I’ll wait, but I won’t hold my breath.

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Case in point: every single NYC progressive wakes up every single morning in a city where the vast majority of Blacks and Hispanics fail state assessment tests, while most whites and Asians pass them (pre-pandemic numbers – it’s probably worse now). The NYC schools are failing these kids,

      Even worse, DeBlasio and his hand picked racist school chancellor Carranza want to destroy AP courses and the magnet schools for gifted students. They are stupid enough to believe that if you put average or below average intelligence kids in AP courses it will automatically make them smarter.

      • Disinterested-Observer

        I was the stereotypical not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is kid who never really learned how to work hard. I had an internship at a company working on some cutting edge stuff when one of my advisors took me aside and said “At some point you have to fall in love with this.” He could already tell that I wasn’t going to be able to hack it. He was probably not quite as “smart” as me in terms of processing power, but he was working in the field and getting his PhD, a lofty achievement I have not come close to. Anyone who thinks that anyone can do anything with the right schooling, has no. fucking. idea. what it takes to be successful at real STEM pursuits.

  9. gtem

    Tangentially related, I doddled over to TTAC for the first time in a while to look at a Murilee junkyard post about an ’05 cavalier (a rare remaining bright spot of content over there), read through the ever-thinning comments to see an old time commenter get berated by a now-openly-woke regular for complimenting another poster on his daughter knowing how to work on her car. Also got to see Mr. Healy cramming the “election was fair and transparent” line down everyone’s throats. Frankly happy to see that place crash and burn under its new leadership. They earned it.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Holy shit, I just read that.

      Healey is just this side of deranged. Not because he’s wrong about the election — that’s anyone’s guess — but in his bizarre attempt to “settle the debate” within the electrons of a Super Bowl ad thread.

      Speaking forthrightly, Tim Healey is the kind of writer TTAC was created to lampoon and delegitimize. That site has become Tim’s Free Weekly Car Loaner Blog, and I suspect the traffic reflects that.

      • gtem

        Car loaner blog/dicey Chinese LED headlight review site. It’s really something to observe the slide into irrelevance (and corresponding drop in quality of commentariat) over the last two years or so.

        Take a quick gander at Jalopnik and it’s “fat femme car advice” (her credentials stemming entirely from being a Sears service writer for three years) and “two clueless gays use an adjustable wrench to teach you a brake job” or Torchinksy “fixing” his wifes junky Tiguan with parts of a milk jug and tape. Those are just the highlights in a stream of “gas cars bad” articles.

        “Dat’s Amazin’ “

        • Ronnie Schreiber

          Jason’s a decent fellow, he has talent and we share some interests, but I haven’t been to the site in years. The site has always tilted left. Ray Wert, who started Jalopnik, formerly worked for Jennifer Granholm when she was governor of Michigan. It’s fascinating just how ambitious those on the left can be.

          • ForzaAzzuro

            Wert didn’t start Jalopnik, he oversaw its fall.

            The OG Jalopnik was a Spinelli & crew joint and it was a breath of fresh air.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            It’s sadly ironic how all the original Jalopnik writers ended up taking the King’s shilling the minute it was an option. Davey and Bumbeck both ran to C/D as soon as Eddie Alterman indicated he’d accept them, while Spinelli got tied up with Jon Guzik.

            Wert ended up working for General Motors, of course, and being Mrs. Mom to a Michigan state senator.

    • stingray65

      I love how a few EV advocates dominate the dwindling commentary of TTAC “article” that is even half-way EV related with the following arguments sliced and diced in slightly different variations depending on the commentary they are “correcting”: Other automakers need to go all in on electrics like Tesla and take advantage of subsidies available to all EV manufacturers. Tesla gets no subsidies and paid back their loans early, and have an insurmountable lead in EV capability that allows them to dominate without subsidies. Anyone buying a non-EV is an idiot because EVs are so much cheaper to run and don’t require any maintenance.

      The fact that no one makes money on EVs including Tesla, or that EVs are cheaper to run because they use lightly taxed electricity instead of heavily taxed gasoline means that even Tesla is getting subsidized rarely get mentioned. I wonder what the Tesla boys will suggest when the California grid melts down from lack of investment and too much Tesla recharging during peak hours – perhaps to buy a diesel generator as a backup?

    • Dan S

      Dear lord, wtf did I just read. I especially love the “There’s no PC/woke police, and It takes away nothing for you to keep these sorts of comments to yourself. Women don’t need your approval.”

      It’s like saying the nonexistent sharia police won’t bother you as long as you behave properly in the first place. Wonder why someone would feel the need to just state that out of the blue whilst policing someone else’s speech?

    • Daniel J

      I was going to bring up Healy’s post in regards to the Unity that Bruce Springsteen is going to bring us all, but I wasn’t sure where to put it.

      I get he’s allowed to have an opinion The problem is that his opinion is based on the fact that his so called brothers and sisters in journalism haven’t done any of that in years. I’ve had to learn more about what went on in this election from far right sources doing real journalism without any left wing facts to counteract. So this is where we are.

      Even the latest TIME article admits to the “Cabal”.

      ( I think Jack posted a similar NYT archive article )

      • Daniel J


        I’d also like to add that in his piece, he refuses to admit any wrongdoing on the side of the far left. He refuses to see that the “wokesters” have no intention on unifying, either.

        I can accept a position that there are people on the far right or Trump supporters that don’t want to unify. Why can’t someone like Healy admit that there are those on the left who don’t want it either?

  10. hank chinaski

    To paraphrase Jack, who I assume was paraphrasing someone of the rapper persuasion, ‘Everybody wants to be Whitey until it’s time to do Whitey shit.’

    The louder these guys talk, the more Whitey will shift from sputtering ‘aw shucks but I’m not racist’ to ‘yeah, so what’.
    All this CRT crap is about revenge. Nothing less. The important question is ‘for what’?

  11. gtem

    “I’m currently completing a PhD in linguistics and rhetoric…”

    To borrow from our deposed president:

    “You may have more PhDs than I do, but I get more pussy than you.” *Click*

      • NYCFinanceGuy

        Hey Keaton
        I really appreciated your comment from the last post. Did you see my critique of the CRT and woke progressive crowd above? I made the comment in good faith and was wondering if you think I am off-base with it. Is there something I’m not seeing? Thanks for adding your perspective here – it takes guts.

        • Keaton Lamle

          Thanks so much! Just saw it, and completely appreciate what you’re getting at, and replied. I don’t think you are off-base at all with your concerns, although I think I probably draw more of a distinction than you do between street level “woke” discontent, and the often stupid, corporate version of those sentiments that find expression in actual policy in places like NYC and SF. In any case, I don’t wanna cannibalize my reply too much, but man it’s a breath of fresh air to run into people like you ONLINE.

      • gtem

        Well shucks, now I genuinely feel like a bit of a jerk, seeing you come into the comments and actually have a very reasonable debate, and you sound like an alright guy. My apologies, seriously.

        To your point below that I will summarize as “no, we really should talk more about race,” I will disagree there. Are race relations better off for it now than they were? Maybe it’s an ignorant high level view but it seems that (going off of popular media of the era) somewhere back in the 70s/80s we had hit a pretty good spot. Now it’s all “antagonize white people that won’t bend the knee to mobs and corporate woke sloganeering”

        The best and most genuine “diversity” I see is when I go to the junkyard and see working class black, white, and hispanic guys just getting along (loaning tools, chit chatting, whatever). None of the forced crap. Just my take on it. The recent spate of corporate efforts make me wretch.

        • Keaton Lamle

          Thanks a lot for saying that. And it’s okay, man. I can relate to throwing out a knee jerk comment online here and there. I hate that what I have experienced as a really nuanced, welcoming academic enclave (the folks I know who publish re: Critical Race Theory, or just race in America) is perceived as toxic by so many people. I see a crowd of white hipsters antagonizing restaurant patrons until they say “black lives matter,” and I understand why people feel the way they do about people like me.

          On to the point you made. You’re sort of positing here that the fact that there is racial tension at present proves that the national conversation on race has been, on balance, primarily destructive. I always love MLK’s answer to that objection:

          “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

          Now, I recognize that you will not necessarily find that persuasive, and like you, I kind of gag when I see Nike using racial justice as a platform to sell slave-made sneakers. But since you’ve been gracious enough to share your take on it, I thought I’d share my reply. And in case the above MLK quote makes it sound like I’m somehow defending the destruction of property/riots, please know that I echo the words of a Black Lives Matter organizer I recently profiled for an Atlanta news outlet when she commented upon destructive protests by saying: “No, that is wrong. You can’t work for ‘justice’ using destructive means and then expect liberation on the other end.”

          • gtem

            At this point though, what IS the “unjust plight?” The whole “white cops hunting black people” is entirely disproven by a look at the numbers. Even adjusting for population, white men are MORE likely to get shot unarmed. There just isn’t this lucrative narrative for white people getting shot/oppressed by police.

            I’ll preface this with my basic thoughts on poverty and white and black society/culture, a lot of this hypothesis borrowed from Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” but with an addition that is a massive blindspot in Mr Murray’s argument, the loss of low-skill/ decent paying jobs.

            Black America felt the sting of the loss of economic stability (read:factory closures), and the destructive consequences (read: families falling apart, lack of opportunities/bad outlook, and the drug abuse that follows), way back in the 50s/60s from what I’ve seen. Factories moved out of their original urban settings, things like urban neighborhoods built up around railroad depots and nearby industry going by the wayside as rail use decreased/re-routed. I see this in person on the East side of Indianapolis. Throw in the Great Society money that (IMO) massively de-incentivized the traditional family structure of breadwinner dad, mom raising kids. Yes I’m aware of the downsides of that arrangement with beaten wives sticking around due to dad’s provider status. Anyhow, Black America is now at a 75% out-of-wedlock births, and the stats on outlook for kids (boys especially) growing up without a father in the home is clear as day: it’s not good. Throw in the acceptance of this arrangement in mainstream Black America (“baby momma” etc), and things are a complete mess.

            Second half of the hypothesis: this same scenario is now playing out across working class America, it’s just on a several decade delay: factory closures really ramped up across small town America after NAFTA, de-unionization and the loss of those solid “breadwinner” jobs. The same hopelessness for young people, depression and massive drug abuse, destruction of the family. All this same “baby momma” type stuff is now prevalent and more or less accepted by the white working class (of my generation anyways). The stats for out of wedlock births are now at about 50% for (working class) whites as I recall from the stats in “Coming Apart,” and that was written back in 2009ish.

            So there’s definitely BIG problems afoot, but my (naïve?) take is that it applies across the races, Black America is just further in the hole. All the BLM stuff is corporate America/politician distraction from the real problem of the state of wage stagnation and the complete hollowing out/destruction of American Working Class communities

          • gtem

            One other thought I forgot to add:

            Black American families/communities were stronger during the Jim Crow era IN SPITE of all of the very real impediments in peoples’ way: worse economic opportunities, housing, education, etc, etc. Families stuck together (out of wedlock birthrate at less than 30% in the 60s iirc), communities were strong. That to me is the lynchpin of a functioning society: Mom and Dad are together and between the two of them can provide for their kids. If the kids can complete high school, statistically they are very decently positioned to themselves find decent work, find a partner, start a family, etc.

          • Dan

            First, has nothing changed in this country since 1963? Was the peace of 2019 that we’d spent two generations rebuilding from the ashes still obnoxiously negative? That was written in and for a different world.

            Second, this “conversation on race” is only tangentially about race at all. There isn’t a wronged party or addressable present day grievances in any concrete sense beyond the martyred thug of the day. There’s only the spectre of unquantifiable, undefinable, and therefore unlimited institutional racism used as a hammer with which elite white people are knocking down the white people one rung below to ensure their own stability.

  12. Keaton Lamle


    As the original poster of comment 2 (the unnecessarily long, but non-genocidal one), I appreciate your generous, fair consideration of my points here, even if we’re probably going to come to largely different conclusions further on down the argumentative road. Shortly after posting, I likewise got the notification for the first comment you mentioned here (the pro-murder guy) and was pretty appalled, although no longer shocked. From the capital stormers in nazi cosplay to this asshole, people are off the ontological rails right now and I’m not sure what any of us can do about it, other than to be kind because a lot of people are clearly in a lot of pain. In any case, as a fellow McDonalds-eating midwesterner (well, it’s debatable whether Oklahoma counts) who now lives in a working class part of Atlanta, I just want to assure you that my original engagement wasn’t intended as some sort of “school the proles” condescension as a lot of the comment pool seems to imply. Likewise, as a non-socialist who engages on a daily basis with super generous colleagues across the ideological spectrum (I know plenty of libertarians, Buckley-type conservatives, centrist Dems, and far left folks in academia) I don’t dig the knee-jerk “don’t listen to this jackass, if he’s in the humanities, he must be a leftist shill come to drown us Trumpists” attitude that seems to dominate this comment thread, but hey, this isn’t my house and so I’m not gonna try to impose any perceptual rules, here. But it would be nice if we could all try and move towards some more generous assumptions about each other as we all try to figure out how to cooperate in a world where the general rule of human interaction has been genocide for hundreds of centuries. It’s a complicated legacy and I enjoy discussing different ways to cope.

    • Keaton Lamle

      Also, my minor pushback on Jack’s argument in this post is as follows. We can, as Jack suggests simply throw our hands up and say, “Well, people on the internet are too dumb and mean to engage empathetically with CRT, so it’s better to just keep these discussions of race out of the public sphere altogether.” That’s one option. But (and this is where we differ, I imagine) I genuinely believe this country is still largely struggling to come to terms with its history of brutal oppression, and to incorporate these facts of reality into the story it tells about itself (our fathers’ sins are being visited on our heads, here, so to speak). And I don’t think, “keeping CRT and race” off the public conversation table moves the ball further down the field in doing that work, which Nietzsche called, “making productive use of history.” Instead, I vote let’s elevate the discourse and call people out when they’re being uncharitable, or promoting “know-nothing” perspectives on race, or even coopting CRT solely to tar and feather their perceived cultural opponents. My experience is that the vast majority of people (both my extremely conservative students, and those who see themselves as on a mission to make society more progressive) are, at heart, pretty reasonable and open to discussion when you penetrate the ideological armor and remove the culture of name-calling and take their experiences seriously. I say let’s do that with each other, too.

      • Will

        Kudos for coming to the site, I think you’ll find most here appreciate different voices.

        “I genuinely believe this country is still largely struggling to come to terms with its history of brutal oppression”
        Not so sure this matters as every society known to man, has at some point “oppressed” others. Has there been wrongs? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you can do anything about or what confronting it will actually accomplish and only avoid those past mistakes for the future. I’m not so sure that CRT cares about that rather than redistributing power to those who have been “locked” out via force and decree, rather than through traditional means. Cities in which the power structure has changed through market forces (Detroit, Baltimore, New Orleans, etc…) no longer have “White” people in power, yet they have been the most corrupt and crime ridden of all the cities and some of the worst displays of police brutality until it wasn’t politically possible for them to be.

        Additionally, black education (sever declines in advanced degrees), the black family and black accomplishment has suffered since the Jim Crow era and dwindled since people think that hard-work is somehow racist. I fail to see how CRT explains the dissolution of the black nuclear family and over 50 years of “progressive” civil restructuring has in fact led to more of a decline than anything else. CRT seems to also not understand the history of oppression and that the African Kings who sold the “slaves” (people were commodities until recent modern history) were some of the richest people on earth.

      • Jack Baruth Post author

        I appreciate your continued participation here more than I can easily express, so rather than attempt to nickel-and-dime you on individual points I’m going to punt and say something like,

        “Righting the wrongs of ancient history is a luxury, and we are no longer in luxurious conditions.”

        As an example, postwar America in, say, 1948 probably could have afforded to pay nontrivial reparations to actual first-generation descendants of slaves. There would have been something admirable about that, and it might have gone a long way towards helping to build the Black middle class.

        The America of 2021 is burning the money printers out and pulling the interest lever so hard it snapped past the zero mark for T-bills. We have unemployment at historic levels and underemployment at what I suspect is the highest level in human history. The middle class is staggering from H1-B body blows while the working class watched the factories go to China. We can’t tax and spend our way to fairness; I paid just over fifty-six thousand dollars in federal income tax last year and I have no idea what was done with any of it.

        In other words, we don’t have the luxury of making ancient wrongs right by government fiat. We are essentially repeating World War II as we speak, and this time we are in the position of Germany to China’s 1941 USA, minus all the smart people and work ethic. The fact that the war is waged via container ships and viruses rather than flattops and B-29s doesn’t make it less deadly.

        I would love to see all historical wrongs fairly compensated, starting with indentured servitude for Virginian settlers and ending with whatever heroic measures are required to bring Black families up to traditional American levels of wealth and security. The problem, from my perspective, is that most of my family got off a boat within the past 110 years, we’ve all worked steadily our entire lives, we’ve all paid taxes, and if any of us got a job ahead of a minority it was via a process so deeply institutional as to be effectively invisible. Therefore, I’m more in favor of making everyone face forward and work under the same conditions towards the future.

        I realize this sounds like privilege, but consider this: the reason you’re reading this blog is because more than one university decided there was no room for white PhD students focusing on historical literature in 1995, even if they had straight As, multiple recommendations, and a history of writing for money in their teens. That bit of institutional racism put me in the street rather than in off-campus housing. The good news: the number of professors my age with my income and lifestyle is probably in the single digits. So in the long run I benefited from racial discrimination. Talk about German-American privilege: even when they won’t let us in the schools we still end up ahead of the game!

        • Mike O

          As usual, as far as I’m concerned, you are spot on. I envy your understanding and analysis of such a broad range of subjects. I find myself afraid to comment on a lot of your articles because I don’t even feel as if I’m at the same level as most of the other commentators. However, this has been bothering me for a while and this latest post has forced me to get your input. I am not trying to be ignorant and I hope I don’t appear to be a White Supremist. Here goes.

          Haven’t we kind of been paying reparations because of a government fiat in 1963?

          And hasn’t all this done is create a new slave state where essentially people are owned by the government, living in government housing which essentially, could be called a new type of p______n.

          Once again, not on your level of thinking but this has been bothering me and I would like your input.

        • Keaton Lamle

          This is a well-reasoned reply, Jack. We’re certainly not entirely on the same page re: the existential health of the US, but I think your concerns are valid and healthy. I come to this site because you often pose interesting solutions to problems as you see them (even if the commentariat regularly reminds me that I am “a fucking moron,” “a woke piece of shit,” or merely “silly and ignorant”) and I get the feeling that unlike a lot of the readership, you wouldn’t hate me simply because of the field in which I work. In any case, your experience in academia sounds awful and I hate that that happened. But you’re right: it seems to have worked out. Kudos.

    • Sigivald

      I’d just like to give a bravo to both you and Jack on this.

      (Me, I got a Philosophy degree from Portland State, and live in Portland, so I bathe in Progressive worldview whether I want to or not, and I have real training in both thinking in general, and ideas-qua-ideas, so I’m nodding my head with the academic side of what you’re saying, even if I’m not so sure I’d embrace it so much.

      [My impression is that the roots of all critical theory, racial or otherwise, are Marxian power dynamics, and that I cannot abide easily.]

      And I’m also emphatically not-a-Leftist AND not-on-the-Right, and voted for a goddamn potato wedge in November.

      Like the best parts of Jack’s reply, I can parse and understand the academic Wokery and CRT and such, and I agree with quite a few of the underlying principles and arguments, where they’re … good arguments. And there are quite a few of them.

      My critique sort of parallel’s Jack’s, in that the second they leave the best part of academia, normal people who never think about anything and operate purely on in/out-group metrics and How Something Feels turn both of those into godawful disasters; in some sense it doesn’t matter how respectable top-tier academic CRT is, if all almost anyone sees is Ibram Kendi’s distilled bullshit, which they then take as Obvious Truth Qua Truth.

      In partisan fairness, the same can be said of patriotism and religion, from the other direction, as the most obvious parallel; “thinking is hard”, “feels matter more than anything”, and “us vs. them” are universal temptations and issues, not partisan ones.)

  13. Sigivald

    On that last part, see also “punch Nazis” immediately becoming “punch anyone I’ve decided to call a Nazi”.

    (I’m very much a civil order sort of libertarian, and normally don’t think anyone should be punching anyone except in immediate defense of self or others.

    But I’m willing to let “actual Nazi wearing a swastika armband and doing a Roman salute and praisin’ Hitler” be an allowed edge-case for punching people just for proudly being what they are.

    [If we do that, though, I want people to be able to punch hammer-and-sickle-wearing Communists, too, for exactly the same reason.]

    I am not willing to let “someone I’ve decided is a Nazi because I’ve decided they’re on the same ‘side’ as policies I’ve decided are vaguely similar if I elide enough details and paint broadly enough, to something vaguely mean” be the line for “punch a stranger”.

    Because that destroys civil society entirely.

    I like civil society; it’s where I keep my stuff.)

    (Honestly, the TL;DR of all this is “these people will destroy everything to feel good about being awful to their enemies, and then lament that nobody could have seen any of the consequences coming”.)

    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Nazis can march down my street in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood and say vile things about Jews. That’s their right.

      The should know, however, that I have the right to have 12 Americans decide if I react appropriately to what I perceive as a threat to my life and property.

      Tolerance, it’s what makes a civil society possible.

  14. delow24

    Great article Jack. I have been pondering this whole CRT thing for awhile. My conclusion had been that all the low IQ midwits with the -“studies” degrees had been indoctrinated with a simplified version and sent out to weaponize the concept in companies, governments and other institutions. The power in all these low IQ people’s hands is now showing the devastating effects and will only grow more devastating as they play their part in this coming great reset thing.

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        I suppose artificially aged doesn’t offend me as much as artificially played.

        The relic’d thing is getting out of hand. After collectors started valuing vintage watches with patina, there are now companies selling brand new, relic’d watches.

  15. Rj

    The PHD candidate’s comment would be more effective if he or she wrote more clearly.

    No run-on sentences.Use punctuation every 10 words or so.

    Use active voice.

    Use paragraphs properly to order your thoughts. Put the paragraph’s main idea into its first sentence , to aid the reader’s comprehension.

    Use simple words rather than their more complex alternatives, unless there is a good reason to use the less well-known word.

    Depart from the foregoing only as necessary to avoid wooden prose.

    Your job is to make it easy for the reader to understand your thoughts, rather than to show how smart you are.

    • stingray65

      Big words and confusing sentence structures that confuse readers are often incorrectly attributed to genius beyond a normal person’s level of understanding. On the other hand, if academics wrote in easy to understand language and simple sentence structures that anyone could easily understand, almost everyone could rightly see that their observations, theories, and results are total nonsense.

    • Keaton Lamle

      Fair point, RJ. Not a lot of pristine prose from me, here. That said, I certainly have different writing practices when I’m publishing a story than when I’m dictating through my phone on a lunch break in order to argue in a comment section.

  16. One Leg at a Time

    The bass (chord) line in the intro that song is just wicked.

    Every time I hear something “new” from Tori Amos, it completely blows me away. (I’m not really surprised that I had never heard that version of the song. She’s kind of like my Lou Reed, or Frank Zappa – I don’t enjoy everything she does, but I acknowledge the brilliance.)

    Is she the last of the really great female singer / songwriters? No one else springs immediately to mind between her and the formula-created fembots, singing pop songs written by lizard people.

  17. David Sanborn

    I’m struck by the disingenuousness in your reply to the esteemed Mr. “Fuck Trump”. His fevered disgust at the traitors and violent seditionists who attempted to overthrow the election results on Jan 6th is mirrored by a vast percentage of the American public. At no point in his angry spiel does he mention ‘flyover country’ or the ‘midwest’ as objects of ridicule. It’s you, Jack who suggests this to be the case. It’s you who attempts to link his comments to regions of the country that are strongholds of regressive attitudes. Good job, atta boy.

    Ashli Babbit with her insane Qanon “Dems are cannibal pedophiles” beliefs earned her death. Had she been a BLM adherent smashing her way into the Senate I guarantee you’d write endless screeds damning her for being unamerican and perhaps a communist too. Adding to your disdain for the truth, blaming the police officer doing his duty protecting a Senate chamber still occupied with lawmakers is horrifyingly dishonest. Where he shot her, how he shot her, her gender, what the seditionists did afterward – is conjecture that’s neither germane or useful.

    Re. Critical Race theory and your flowery response of scholarly rhetoric, all I can think of is your love a few years ago of all things Harambe. You embraced that dog whistle with gusto, hell you owned it. One cannot dog whistle that loudly and still assert that they’re somehow impartial on race and above the fray, which of course means that you are a _ _ _ _ _ _.

    • Panzer

      “Traitors and violent seditionists..”

      What would you call the BLM and Antifa mobs then, who spent 6 months of last year terrorizing American streets, murdering Republicans and burning down working class people’s livelihoods?

      • Jack Baruth Post author

        “Mostly peaceful”, of course.

        I think that the samizdat secret historians of 2050 will be gobsmacked at the bizarre collective delusion practiced regarding the “CAPITOL RIOTS OMG” by the Uniparty. Our betters desperately wanted this to be a Very Big Thing, while simultaneously breathing a tremendous sigh of relief that it was not.

      • David Sanborn

        Panzer, your whataboutism is grotesque & dishonest. You’re justifying the seditionists who murdered Officer Brian Sicknick with brutal blows from American & Trump flagpoles and bear spray by saying, in effect, BUT THE BLM ANTIFA TERRORISTS GOT TO DO IT …

        Meanwhile, the VAST majority of domestic terrorism over 2020 was (drumroll) white supremacist in origin. Boogaloo and Proud Boys doing everything in their power to turn otherwise peaceful BLM marches into embarrassing acts of mayhem. I’m sure if you only watch FOX that you didn’t know that.
        Need more links? My bookmarks are brimming with them.

        Meanwhile, EVERY SINGLE SEDITIONIST ARRESTED for Jan 6th terrorism was a Trump cultist.

        So that we remain on topic, portraying the Trump cultist’s well-earned death breaching the Senate chamber as “the murder of a veteran” is wildly wrong. Stop pretending otherwise.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          Come on man!

          Bad enough to narcopost here but haven’t you heard? Sicknick wasn’t murdered.

          • David Sanborn

            Being brutally kicked and beaten with flag poles while choking on bear spray didn’t kill him? What did?

            Are you insane? No, worse. You’re a historical revisionist, same as those who airbrushed Stalin’s critic’s out of photos. You knew as you typed your dishonest rebuttal that you’re treading on the truth, but you still did it.

            I was “friends” with a guy who had the nerve to claim that James Alex Fields Jr. didn’t kill Heather Heyer with his car at the Charlottesville “Unite The Right” protest, he asserted she would’ve survived had she not been overweight, thus it was a ‘natural death’ by heart attack. We used to wrench on projects together but after I angrily waved a wrench in his face following that exchange he knew he was worthless to me.

            Don’t be that guy Jack. This isn’t a debate, this is clearly about what we all saw and know to be true.

          • Jack Baruth Post author

            If you’re waving wrenches at real-life friends about people you don’t know, never met, and can’t be certain about, I want to wholeheartedly and non-rhetorically suggest that you consider an alternative path. That’s a great way to find yourself unexpectedly breathing through a hole in your lung. This person was your friend. What did you gain from your violent, aggressive action? You didn’t bring Heather Heyer back and you didn’t convince anyone regarding the merit of your arguments.

            Let’s take these issues one at a time. These are the facts regarding Officer Sicknick:

            * All the early reports were false, some of them deliberately false and some of them accidentally so.
            * The New York Times was aware of problems with their report almost immediately ( but they conveniently delayed corrections until after the impeachment trial, perhaps because Sicknick’s death was so critical to the case. (Or maybe not. Maybe the Times was pro-Trump and just wanted to wait for other reasons.)
            * Sicknick was not struck with a fire extinguisher. He had no evidence of blunt force trauma.
            * It’s not even certain that he was “bear sprayed”. The officer in the bear spray video hasn’t been identified as Sicknick.
            * Sicknick described himself as healthy and fine to his family after he went off shift.
            * His cause of death has not been publicized.

            All of the above is about as factual as we can get at this moment. You may not like all of it. It may not fit your narrative — namely, that Trump raised the Nazi flag, told 50,000 people to kill cops, and somehow the record from that altercation ended up being Cops 1, Moms 1. But it’s correct.

            As far as Heather Heyer goes, I wasn’t on the scene and I don’t know why she died. The Challenger was supposedly doing 25mph. Almost three dozen people were struck. One of them died. I have no idea if she happened to be struck in the deadliest manner or whether she died from obesity-related concerns after the fact. In 1988 I was struck nose-on by a lumber truck, traveling approx. 50mph, and then crushed beneath the wheels. Three years later I won an Expert-level BMX race. But I was strong, healthy, and height/weight appropriate. But I also know of people who were just as healthy who died from falling in the tub.

            The common thread to me here seems to be that you have an emotional connection to situations that don’t involve you. Do yourself a favor. Reconnect with your friends and family. Stop letting this claptrap crusade against mostly imaginary enemies define you.

            And again, whatever your “six-letter word” is, it’s probably not welcome here. Please be civil.


          • David Sanborn

            Brian Sicknick was murdered by Trump cultists. No I didn’t claim that he was struck by a fire extinguisher. There’s video of a police officer, likely Sicknick being dragged into the crowd, beaten and bear maced. Other media outlets state it’s Sicknick but the WaPo defers on that point. Then later (mystifyingly for you apparently), he died. It’s a murder investigation in case you didn’t know.

            The WaPo writes “U.S. Capitol Police in a statement Jan. 8 said that Sicknick died “due to injuries sustained while on duty.”. You’re trying VERY HARD to revise his murder as … well gosh I don’t know! He died after being beaten and choked with chemical irritants of … a broken heart? Halitosis? What fiction do you wish me to believe?

            Here’s a happy-fun-time video of two officers getting beaten by a crowd of Trump terrorists:
            Other officers had an eye gouged out & suffered brain traumas:
            This Capitol Police Officer had to beg the Trump terrorists to not shoot him with his own goddam gun:
            Or crushed in a doorway while their gas mask is yanked off:

            These are your fellow Trump supporters – who you failed to condemn.

            As to your first point, if any “friend” of mine aligns with NAZIS – that’s it. Line crossed. I have standards. Defending fascists might come easily to you, not me. I don’t often wave my wrench in anger, but when I do it means a door has shut.

            You wrote “The common thread to me here seems to be that you have an emotional connection to situations that don’t involve you” – said the guy who writes constantly on political topics. Hypocrisy much? It very much involves me – your people were trying to overthrow the election! Unlike you, I care about situations I’m not precisely in the center of. FFS, I’d have been part of the German resistance, I’d have sat at the Woolworths lunch counter with the Black civil rights leaders, I’d have fought with the Union to end slavery. Wash, rinse, repeat.

            Again – my fundamental point remains: you actually spent time and effort eulogizing dead Qanon Trump insurrectionist Ashli Babbit. To reiterate, a person so insane as to believe Dems are pedophile baby cannibals – so stunningly moronic she broke into Congress – while in session – and attempted to smash through the door of the Senate while our goddam election was being certified – leading you to opine at length on how the officer who shot her probably shouldn’t have. Yet you failed to show outrage that a mob of traitors were literally beating and/or murdering police with American flags.

            Jan 6th was a horrifying day and that’s on people like you for enabling a sociopath. I had a sharecropper grandfather who told me a sobering story that’s stuck with me: he had a dog that occasionally killed livestock despite his attempts to stop it. So he devised a grotesque plan: firmly tie the corpse to the dog and leave it there for weeks while it rotted. That cured the dog’s murderous tendencies. I’m going to tie you and your party to the rotting corpse of Trumpism and never let you forget what your party did lest you lot do it again.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      It’s never a great idea to immediately strawman someone after accusing them of strawmanning someone else.

      Can you explain, in terms a sane person might understand, why Harambe is a “dog whistle”? Or is it one that only you can hear?

      Also, any further attempts to refer to the “n-word” with six blanks will get you a free Saturn rocket ride off this side. Here at Riverside Green, we don’t approve of that word, no matter how thoroughly you Wheel-Of-Fortune it.

      • Panzer

        ‘Harambe’ is a dog whistle to the left because it was correctly pointed out at the time that since the mother of the child who climbed into his enclosure was black and also a local government employee, neither of the child’s parents would be facing child negligence prosecution.
        Needless to say, such a luxury would not have been extended to working class white parents from WV…

      • David Sanborn

        Of all the 6 letter words in our language, why the F do you immediately think I am accusing you of being a N-word? That’s mind-bogglingly S T _ P _ D considering how generally S M _ R T you usually are.

        Well … except when you’re defending the death of a Trump cultist smashing her way into the Senate chambers while a vote certification is taking place. That’s pretty goddam not-smart.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I want to give everyone a fair shake and let them speak… it is not always rewarding.

        • David Sanborn

          Whoops, my bad, didn’t realize after a month has passed on whitewashing a Trump insurrection that it becomes irrelevant. I didn’t get the memo.

          Go back to living life haha whatever TF that means and I will continue tying the corpse of Trumpism to those who refuse to renounce it.


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