Immigration needs better arguments in its favor than “you’re all racist.”

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Here’s a short piece from last month on how a small-town mayor lost his job over trying to import Muslim refugees, over the objections of his constituents. The previously popular five-term mayor lost his reelection campaign by a whopping 17 points over this one issue.

Lest you think that local election might’ve been over something other than Muslim immigration, here is the defeated mayor himself: “As much as I said during the campaign that this was not a referendum on refugee resettlement … hindsight, looking back at it, absolutely a referendum on refugee resettlement.” Obvious parallels may be made with November 8, 2016.

The Slate piece sticks with the conventional wisdom that such sentiments are held by irredeemably racist whites. Except for the part where this small town is in Vermont, home of a presidential candidate not exactly known for his right-wing views. It never occurred to the Slate writer nor (until it was too late) the former mayor that people are sick and tired of connected elites forcing Islamic immigration on them over their objections with few arguments in their favor other than “diversity is an absolute good, because reasons” and more importantly, “all immigration opponents are racist dead-enders.”

Tell people they’re racist enough times, even if they live in one of the most reliably liberal states in the union, and they’ll finally give up, agree with you, and vote for the racist. Why not? They’re racist either way in the view of Brooklyn-based journos, right? Wasn’t Trump’s campaign just one long excuse for flyover-country white people to stick it to elites who dismiss them as racist hicks?

Here’s the hard fact: Everyone is tribal. Everyone. Including, of course, the cosmopolitans themselves. White Americans and Europeans are not more or less racist or tribal than Chinese people, or Kenyans, or Arabs. Import large numbers of South Asians to serve as workers in the UAE and guess what you get? That’s right, a huge heaping dose of good ol’ racism without a single white person in sight to blame.

Hell, the Japanese mistreat their tiny Korean minority even though they are of the same race. How do you think they’d feel about Syrian refugees? Here’s a hint: according to this WaPo piece, by Oct. 2016, Japan has accepted a grand total of six. Not six thousand. Not six hundred. Six.

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16.67% of Japan’s total Syrian refugee population is in this photo. Also, they apparently have Denny’s in Japan.

The Japanese get away with it, even though they are a developed First World nation, because they are somehow exempt from the nagging tut-tutting of the diversity/inclusivity-obsessed elites who love to lecture America and Europe. But if prime minister Shinzō Abe had forced refugees upon his hostile population in order to address Japan’s very real demographic problems and curry favor with the Davos set, he’d have been out of power just as sure as that Vermont mayor.

Tribalism is baked into our DNA. You need a lot more than “they’ll do the jobs we won’t do” and “you’re all racist” to overcome that at the polls. And we need better options on immigration than Germany’s policy vs. Japan’s. Sensible immigration plans with sensible restrictions help both parties, but you won’t have power long to implement them if your only argument for your tribalist voters is telling them, in the words of the Slate guy, they “face a choice: stay white and wither, or get diverse and grow.”

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Mass Effect: Andromeda, the base breaker

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Role-playing computer games are judged on two independent things: narrative, and gameplay. An RPG has to tell a good story, while also serving the basic functions of a video game — and the gaming studio often delegates the two realms to completely different teams. It needs good dialogue just as much as it needs good combat, and this is true whether you’re talking about Fallout, Final Fantasy, The Witcher, or any BioWare game. And the latest entry into the latter’s catalogue looks like it will serve as an absolute base breaker: unlike any Mass Effect game, unlike any BioWare game in a long time, Mass Effect: Andromeda enjoys deeply-layered, well-thought gameplay, including exploration, combat, and multiplayer — at the expense of truly unfortunate cut-scenes and story.

ME:A is not a game that will see universal acclaim once press embargoes are lifted and full reviews go online Mar. 21. It falls gravely short of the exquisite quality demanded of BioWare writing, characterization, and animation. I was honestly surprised to see its PC-version Metacritic score just barely break 75%. But on the other hand, its bread-and-butter gameplay — the shooting, the leveling, the crafting, the exploration, and notably, the multiplayer — stands taller than any other Mass Effect entry, or arguably even any BioWare product since the original Knights of the Old Republic. This game is going to divide Nerdworld more decisively than The Dark Knight Rises. Great gameplay with a forgettable story is the way of Mass Effect’s brother-from-another-mother and one of its greatest influences: the Gears of War series. And geeks are having a bit of a crisis over seeing BioWare, of all studios, putting out a game with better wham-bam action but worse storytelling than Gears of War 4. What follows is an overly long post about the game’s glaring negatives — followed by its impressive positives. Either way, most players should wait for full reviews before making any decisions.

This dissertation comes from the 10-hour PC preview.

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Confirmation bias and social media algorithms

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wkly47_15Slate takes an interesting deep dive into Twitter’s ranking algorithm, one that works to ensure that users see more tweets of the sort they “want” to see at the top at the expense of the kind they would not interact with. And it begs a question: why, exactly, are such sorted timelines more favored by users than a traditional non-sorted, chronological social media feed?

Twitter’s system is in the same vein as Facebook’s algorithm that has infamously turned that site into a honeycomb, where people never see or hear anything outside of their own little confirmation-biased lacunae. For instance, post your support of Trump on Zuckerberg’s site, and his machines will see to it that you will never be challenged by news that makes Trump look bad again. Trump-Putin scandal heating up again? The Trumpified Facebook user will only know about it by what sources like Breitbart tell them.

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Well, that settles that!

Twitter’s leadership, to its credit, is very conscious of what happened to their larger competitor and is trying to avoid the same pitfalls. But as Slate writer Will Oremus himself makes clear, any algorithm that favors content that users like, reply to, or repost/retweet, must therefore reinforce the echo chamber. It’s axiomatic. There is simply no way around it:

“On the other hand, the commentary it shows me about Trump’s tweets—and about politics in general—almost always comes from the left. No doubt that’s largely a function of the people I’ve chosen to follow: Most of them are liberal. Yet I’ve also taken care over the years to follow a number of pundits whose politics I disagree with… I rarely favorite or rebroadcast their tweets, or even click their links. But I do read them, and on the whole I find them indispensable.

Interestingly, Twitter’s timeline algorithm seems not to have picked up on this. For whatever reason, conservatives’ tweets virtually never seem to crack my ranked timeline or my ICYMI box.”

 

Even though unlike most people, Oremus goes out of his way to follow people he disagrees with, the algorithm still disfavors their tweets. Why? Because Oremus rarely likes, retweets, or replies to conservatives on Twitter, as opposed to the liberals who share his views. Because he mainly interacts with liberal tweets, Twitter will then show him more liberal tweets, and the echo chamber is born. Same thing happens with conservatives, who engage far more with fellow conservatives than they do the other side; their timelines inevitably become just as one-dimensional. It doesn’t matter how much Jack Dorsey tries to avoid turning his platform into Facebook — any such “more of the same” algorithm is playing by Facebook’s rules. Any such algorithm must wind up preaching to the choir, only playing the tunes they’re already humming.

And that’s exactly what people want.

People want the stories that appear to confirm what they already believe. They want to actively avoid the stories that challenge these beliefs. And not just in politics, either. How many Red Sox fans actively follow Yankees fansites?

It’s all tribal horseshit. Being liberal is more than just believing in diversity and labor rights. It’s about identifying with the liberal team. Most Trumpkins don’t go Trumpkin because they like the wall or the immigration ban. They go Trumpkin because they hate the liberal tribe. And he’s the biggest tribal warlord around who’s the avowed enemy of liberals. Who cares what his actual policy positions are? He could perform abortions in the White House, as Ann Coulter once suggested — it’s all good, as long as he skewers a few brown people or “libtards” in the process.

And because we are tribal animals, all news is propaganda. All of it. If it favors our clan, it’s gospel we’ll wolf up; if it challenges our side, we’ll run away yelling “FAKE NEWS!” because actual truth is less important measure of truth than whether it benefits our cause. We all become lawyers, pounding the table with any evidence, no matter how thin, in support of our case, and discrediting anything from the opposition. Even weather news gets filtered — reports about the unnaturally warm February this year becomes fodder to be retweeted and reposted to social media to prove your green creds, or else shouted down as enemy propaganda.

Facebook and Twitter (eagerly for the former, grudgingly for the latter) have accepted this reality of human nature, and are playing to it to grab more eyeballs and generate more clicks. This might be more dangerous for the latter’s pretensions of being a news source, but what can Jack Dorsey do about our tribal, orangutan diencephalons? Even if there were no sorting algorithms whatsoever, people’s Twitter feeds would still get slanted based just on who they follow. Oremus might go out of his way to follow conservatives that challenge his entrenched worldviews, but very few of his fellow progressives can claim likewise.

And hey, these ranking systems only get put in because they work. It’s what the consumer wants. And eventually, Dorsey has to listen more to his investors complaining about their flatlined stock than to idealists who still cling to outdated, ’90s fantasies of an “information superhighway” unpolluted by bias, propaganda or disinformation. Tweet about the Trumpkins’ echo chamber all you want — nobody outside your own will see it.

TVTropes to explain the new administration

No common theme, setting, or characterization in fiction escapes the attention of the venerable TVTropes site. Whether you are looking for an explanation of component parts of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Bride of Chucky, the Wiki-like army of geek editors has every last part nailed down.

tv-logoAnd since nobody from either side can quite figure out what the hell is going on with our new administration, why not turn to TVTropes? Starting with…

THE WHITE HOUSE: The Deadly Decadent Court. The senior, paid officials of the regime.

SURROGATES, UNOFFICIAL ADVISERS, WASHOUTS, and MISCELLANEOUS HANGERS-ON.

and finally, THE TRUMP CLAN ITSELF

Enjoy the next four years!

Bannon’s not exactly a Nazi. But…

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A recent Cracked post here summarizes the arguments on why punching Nazis like Richard Spencer is counter-productive. Basically, it’s like rubbing your itchy eyes when your have allergies: no matter how good it feels, it’s just making matters worse.

One big reason is that punching Spencer lets him play the victim card. Now, you may point out this seems ridiculous when the guy who’s whining about getting punched in the face also celebrated a fellow white supremacist literally murdering multiple Muslims in Quebec with this tweet:

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Which is still up on Twitter as of this writing.

… but this misses the point. You see, hypocrisy is not a bug of white supremacy and white nationalism, nor even a feature, but an absolutely critical component.

One central tenet of the Big Lie school of propaganda, beloved by both fascists and the far left, is to always accuse your enemies of that which you yourself are guilty of. For instance, fascists love to accuse others of censoring their viewpoints and trampling their First Amendment rights, despite the fact that fascists themselves instantly eliminate freedom of speech once in power. And as a corollary, they will cry to the heavens about any slight, real or imagined, suffered by themselves — but laugh and taunt when worse things happen to their enemies.

This hypocrisy exists because they feel like they deserve it. That white people deserve to get held to a better standard or, more accurately, that others deserve to be held to a worse standard. That a Nazi getting punched is worse than a Muslim getting shot because, for Spencer and other white supremacists, an innocent Muslim getting shot is on its own a moral good.

On this last part, white supremacists differ from their white nationalist cousins, and I hate that we are even having to devote energy to this ridiculous distinction, but it’s 2017 and here we are. And the two factions diverge from the same alt.right that held together until just after they helped get Trump elected.

White supremacists are today’s successors to the Klan and the Third Reich, and they are the racist boogeymen you learn of starting in grade school. There is no limit to their hate; more importantly, there is no strategy to their evil. What these guys never understood is that their nakedly evil rhetoric is precisely what keeps them on the fringes of society. Hardly anyone — not even hard-bitten Long Island Republicans or Milo-style trolls — wants to go that far.

And then we have the white nationalists, who are of course the real story of what’s going on these days. They apparently found their WS cousins useful during the campaign as shock troopers, but after Trump pulled off his win, they not-so-subtly parted ways, as evidenced by the split between Spencer and his WN counterpart, Mike Cernovich:

“There’s the alt-right [Cernovich said] which wants to do white identity politics, and then there’s people like me and Jeff [Giesea] who, we want to do nationalism without white identity politics… The alt-right’s dead.'” 

This from the guy who gladly described himself as alt-right up until he no longer needed to. Notorious Trump fanatic Bill Mitchell followed his lead, disavowing the alt-right and protesting to anyone who listens that he’s not a Nazi.

Nevertheless, the white nationalists share so many things in common with the white supremacists, that it doesn’t make sense to call them anything besides white nationalists, and not the term “economic nationalist” that’s preferred by the most powerful among their number, Steve Bannon.

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He hates this picture. Please don’t share it repeatedly on social media.

To be sure, they are smarter than the WS’s. They understand that the scary rhetoric from Spencer, Daily Stormer head Andrew Anglin, and low-level Nazis at the local bar or online forum deeply offend the average voter and are never going to make it in the mainstream. They know they have to work with existing institutions such as elections, rather than pinning their hopes on fantasies of a violent race war. And while they may be working to make America whiter, they happily utilize black allies such as Sheriff David Clarke or gay Jews such as Milo. After all, unlike WS’s, they don’t want people of different races, sexualities, or religions wiped out in a genocide. They’re quite alright with them, as long as they all live elsewhere and/or accept second-class status.

On this, our American WNs were taught well by their European peers. When Cernovich slams a WS for trying to bring up the “Jewish Question,” it’s not because he gives a damn about the Jews. It’s because he knows perfectly well that European WN parties with decades of experience such as the National Front, Sweden Democrats and UKIP only gained success by also (at least publicly) shunning such speech. They do quite well compared to Britain’s openly WS party, the BNP, which has faded to irrelevancy. Old racist hobbyhorses like the “Jewish Question” or reminiscing about lynchings are sure losers and have no place in the new politics. Nobody understands the new order better than the former (?) head of Breitbart, and Bannon knows we aren’t restarting old battles from the 1930s.

Bannon knows that now, it isn’t about oppressing minorities. It’s instead about privileging members of the majority. It isn’t coming down hard on opponents of the regime. It’s about unfairly enriching friends of the regime. It isn’t about actively hating women. It’s about only looking after the interests of men. By at least papering over the virulent hate that defines the WS movement, the WN’s message becomes acceptable to a large percentage of regular mainstream people and their quite valid concerns about open-borders immigration and the selfishness of our current ruling class, concerns which Bannon correctly observes are only addressed by political movements resembling his own.

But though they quite loudly split from their WS cousins soon after the election, they are still cut from the same stuff. After all, just a few months ago, the two flavors of fascism were working together, hand in glove. They agree on most of the big issues, after all: that America and Europe should be mostly white; that all of Islam, and not just the radicals like ISIS, constitute a grave enemy; that women should again become chattel, concerned only with Kinder, Küche, Kirche; and that they hate the liberal globalists so badly that any strategy, no matter how ethically wrong, is fair game — and that includes the Big Lie.

Thus, we have a Trump White House that most definitely does not believe in the Golden Rule or turning the cheek, but that your enemies should be hurting far worse than you are, or else you’re doing it wrong. Or as Trump himself said, “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it.”

Steve Bannon is not going to throw people in ovens or otherwise revive the Third Reich, as much as the WS wants it and as much as some alarmists fear it. But not because of any moral reason. It’s because the Third Reich lost, and if there’s one thing that Trump and Bannon believe in, it’s winning.

And he knows pointless oppression against blacks or Jews is counterproductive and would soon get his protegé impeached. But Muslims? Only the Left seems to care about them these days, and keeping Left and Right at each other’s throat is just an added bonus to oppressing a people that Bannon truly despises. Keeping Left and Right fighting each other while the ruling class does what it wants was a favored trick of Bush 43 and Obama, and Bannon wasted no time appropriating it.

Read Breitbart articles, especially pre-Trump archives (but post- Bannon taking over after the founder’s death), to get a good appreciation of what’s in store for the country. Breitbart is not the Daily Stormer and Bannon is not a Nazi. But he’s coming from the same zip code, at least, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Sick Sad World: the alt.right didn’t just make up the concept of “cuck”

sick-sad-worldNobody except Trump himself got more outsized coverage than the alt.right and its rogues’ gallery this past election. Hardly a news cycle went by without Milo, Mike Cernovich, Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor, or the anon troll army getting coverage due to one outrage or another. And, we all got to hear endlessly about their favorite insult: “cuck,” a term synonymous with the old white-supremacist term of “race-traitor,” meaning someone insufficiently racist or unwilling to oppress minorities.

The term “cuck” sprang from the fevered, paranoid mind of the racist white man and his ultimate fear: getting cheated on, or cuckolded, by a black man. Read enough of their online ramblings and you’ll note how much they obsess with the imagery of this in their insults of liberals, “normies,” and even each other. The fear of being cuckolded is near-universal among men, of course; male-dominated forums and social media channels, especially those of the alt.right, took this fear and amplified it by an order of magnitude. It was only natural that their insult “cuck” (and the related “cuckservative”) would bubble to the surface once the alt.right’s media coverage really took off in the fall of 2015. What I never saw explored by the media, though, was just how this weird cuckold fear took off to begin with, or what it represents about this men.

Except, no, they never invented it to begin with. Which, apparently, everyone but poor old sheltered me already knew. From this article posted in 2010:

This isn’t like swinging, and it’s not a threesome. Cuckolded men (aka “cucks”) only observe their wives’ infidelities, they don’t participate. And that’s why they find it a turn-on: They’re left out, looking on as the woman they love climaxes with a better man than them. It’s a form of psychological sadomasochism.

Dig down further and, paydirt:

But there’s also a somewhat uncomfortable racial angle to cuckolding. Cruise the galleries at cuckolding Web sites and you’ll see the same dynamic again and again: white husband, white wife, African-American other man. In cuck slang, these black men are dubbed “mandingos” or “bulls.”

So that explains that. All the word means is that Richard Spencer just reads more of Dan Savage’s column than I do.

It’s so hard to wrap my mind around how prevalent fetish culture and Rule 36 really are. It’s sort of like the difference between knowing what “one trillion dollars” means, and truly comprehending one trillion. It’s not a realm that I’ve ever entered, and I’ve never had a serious relationship with any girl who expressed any sort of interest, either. If you’ve only rarely been exposed to any sort of fetish IRL, it’s just not something that comes instinctively.

It says something about the porn-ified culture of ours that such concepts as cucking have become as natural topics of conversation as the weather — and it’s apparently not something we can pin on the alt.right, either. This all points to some deeper change in our culture, and not one I find all that welcome.

2016 Final Thoughts

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  • We’ve all seen all the “worst year ever” tweets and Facebook posts, and have maybe written more than a few ourselves. Know who really had one of the worst 2016’s? Huma Abedin. Just think. She started off the year as the next president’s right-hand woman, soon to have more influence than even Valerie Jarrett, and ended the year out of office, with no influence, no job other than with the withering, obsolescent Clinton Foundation; a laughingstock of an estranged husband that many believe gave Comey the ammunition to throw the election to Trump; a host of Dem insiders eager to blame her for the loss, rather than the idiotic campaign chairman John Podesta who allowed his email account to be phished, thus proving the maxim of men getting the credit and women getting the blame; the taint of being the female Sid Blumenthal only without Blumenthal’s vast resources to fall back on. I used to think of her as one of David Icke’s lizard people, but now it’s clear she may have been the only non-lizard-person in Hillary’s inner circle.
  • Trump gets a headstart to forming his expected autocratic kleptocracy via a compliant GOP Congress who will accede to his every whim. Sure, there are a few upstarts like Justin Amash who will protest, but they will soon find themselves outcasts in their own party. Other former #NeverTrumpers such as Ben Sasse quickly and quietly fell back into formation. And these fine Senators will rubber-stamp whichever obedient lapdog Trump will pick for the Supreme Court. And finally, the 2018 election map looks even more grim for the Democrats — and that’s even before the expected Putin- and Chavez-esque coopting of the election process that will be in place by then. America has finally established one of the necessary conditions for its destruction: one-party rule.
  • putin-strategyI expect the final dissolution of the United States to come via an Article V Convention. Basically, once convened, this national convention, backed by mirror state conventions in all 50 states, can alter the Constitution any way it pleases — or tear it up entirely. Putin, whose ultimate goal is revenge on the country he saw triumph over his beloved Soviet Union in 1991, is currently betting on a series of state secessions. He is funding both #CalExit and #Texit, but he’ll soon find these sputtering out with nowhere to go. The Article V Convention, however, has long been the goal of the far right to remake (i.e., destroy) the United States and purging it of dissident voices. Trump, of course, will need little urging to sign on to this. Conventional conservatives will help boost the process in Congress and state legislators, thinking they can control and guide the populist Trumpists who will really be in change. The Left, which has been pro-Russia and anti-America since the 1960s, will gladly sign on regardless; they mirror the strategy of German Communists circa 1932. It’s easy to see why Putin is currently thinking in terms of breakaway states: that is precisely what happened to the USSR in 1991. But once someone briefs him on the American Constitution and the Article V convention, he’ll shift strategies. Trumpists, of course, actually boast of taking orders from Moscow these days and will gladly accept the help. I talk more about that sort of convention here.
  • We’re seeing a similar thing happen to the EU, only with them, the secessionist strategy will be their undoing, beginning with Britain. Far-right, populist parties that now openly side with Trump surge in most countries. They are also fueled by the massive Islamic immigration crisis — and they are correct when they accuse the Establishment of encouraging ever-more Islamic immigration at the expense of secular-Western civilization. People like Le Pen are not lying about their enemies. The Establishment really is degenerate and failing, which is why our politics are so revolutionary all over these days. I’ve said it before: it’s best to think of political revolutions less as the radicals overpowering the Establishment and more of the Establishment being too weak, incompetent, selfish, and/or short-sighted to survive. Suicide, not homicide. After all, there are always people ready to light the torches and march on the palace. They can only succeed when the palace is too weak to fight back. The Russian Revolution, the French, the Iranian, the Chinese, the National Socialist — all took over from decrepit, incompetent Establishments that really did deserve to go, even if what came immediately after was worse. The same may be said of the West.
  • And the alt.right is not entirely wrong when they accuse our doomed Establishment of actively wanting to phase out white populations. I do see it all the time with coastal liberals, such as with the tweets of Buzzfeed writers. I don’t want to say much more about this because I don’t want to actually throw in with the Nazis, and to be honest, I personally have serious problems with white people because they have problems with me. I’ve never really been accepted by any white person, ever — starting with my own father. Black, Hispanic, and Persian people, however, never really had a problem with me or my eccentric mannerisms. One Dominican girl described me as “crazy enough that nobody will mess with you” on the streets of the Bronx, which was a hell of a compliment. White people, meanwhile, place enormous stock on the power and the joys of social exclusion. My white program director in residency was obsessed with destroying my career because I acted different. I never had white friends in grade school, only people of color. So much of white society is about expelling those who are different, mocking them, making them feel different, which is simply an alien concept for, say, black culture. (Would a complete weirdo like Kanye West have had even an ounce of his success if he were white?) But anyway. Rossalyn Warren, a more pure Establishment avatar than the combined boardrooms of Goldman Sachs and the New York Times Company, would love to see a brown America — just as long as they don’t live in her neighborhood. The alt.right is correct in this. As for me, unlike your typical Buzzfeed writer, I most definitely want people of color in my neighborhood. Have I mentioned that I live in Washington Heights?
  • Whatever the mess, we will survive. There will be the war, yes, but there will also be the post-war period. Never forget this, no matter how bad it gets.

The final word on identity politics and 2016

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After Nov. 8, there have been a lot, and I mean a LOT of hot takes on which to blame for that election outcome: what some see as the virulent racism of virtually all white people, just looking for an excuse to keep women and minorities down; or the sneering, woker-than-thou political correctness of people who say “all whites are racist” triggering a backlash?

sign-guyBernie Sanders even went on record leaning towards the latter. This is actually no surprise — we all know which way he goes on the social justice vs. socialism spectrum. But is he right?

Michelle Goldberg put up some closing arguments that, I think, represent the last, best answers we’ll get to this debate. Yes, the social justice warriors have much to answer for; on the other hand, there really are plenty of racial, gender, LGBT issues that need addressing, issues that Trump voters might be less than entirely understanding of, even if they aren’t burning crosses in their spare time.

Here’s one great paragraph out of many:

“Campus leftists who formerly disdained free speech will learn its absolute importance when faced with a regime that attacks protesters, the media, and dissenting artists. [Something I’ve ranted about plenty of times — they never stop to think what happens if it’s a conservative defining “hate speech.” -FC] Perhaps progressive activists, newly aware of how many Americans reject their intellectual priors, will stop responding to clumsy questions with a sneering, “It’s not my job to educate you.” I’d like to see the language of privilege jettisoned altogether in favor of civil rights or equal justice, since the number of people who want to see their own privilege dismantled is vanishingly small. Maybe Everyday Feminism, the website that encompasses everything insufferable about social justice culture, will finally be revealed as an elaborate right-wing psy-ops campaign.”

It is the job of the Democrats to look after the disadvantaged, and boy have they royally screwed the pooch. With their preening and strutting about oh, look how inclusive I am, they arrogantly assumed that flyover-country whites would be shamed into voting for their candidates — never even entertaining the notion that such voters would rather tell our professional tut-tutters to go screw themselves.

But at the same time, as Goldberg notes, many Trump voters go further than understandable contempt of SJWs. They do not see any point to racial, gender or LGBT rights whatsoever. Old-fashioned, FDR-style politics simply assume the white male is the center of the universe, and many working class whites mourn its passing. Trump, along with the GOP Congress, will only be looking after the interests of the rich while the lives of these workers will get only more miserable over the next four years, but they just don’t care — they voted Trump specifically because they do not want to throw in with black people, feminists, gay people, or them thar’ city folks who don’t share their values.

If the Democrats want to see any point to their continued existence, they cannot surrender on the minority rights that really are so important for so many people. I do not foresee too many challenges to racist voter suppression laws coming from Trump, the Ryan/McConnell congress, or our next Supreme Court nominee, after all. Yet, they must also turn their backs on the SJWs with their odious moral hectoring and thought policing that’s worse than anything the religious right ever came up with. Maybe the 2020 candidate can speak plainly: I’m fighting for people of color, women, and LGBT people not in order to tell you how great and pure of a person I am, or because diverse city life is somehow better than rural Iowa life, or to pour Syrian refugees into your small town while at the same time calling you racist for resenting it. I’m fighting for the underprivileged because it’s simply the right thing to do.

They still want to control your thoughts.

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The Establishment is in full retreat — at least in the political sphere.

The shocking passage of Brexit led to the fall of David Cameron’s government. Marine Le Pen and her National Front continue to grow in influence in France. Similar movements grow in Austria, Italy, Finland, even Sweden, that beating heart of open-borders liberal globalism. And, of course, you may have heard about the recent elections in America.

The reason: our Establishment rulers simply suck at their jobs. And their subjects know it. This is why this is happening. As with most populist revolutions — French, Russian, Iranian, Chinese, National Socialist, and so forth — what comes after the fall of the old regime will be even worse. Trump and his Trumpkins just want to make their own crude new Establishment, no less controlling than the last one. But that does not alter the fact that the old regimes before each revolution, including our current one, had become too decadent, too incompetent, too out of touch, too selfish, and really did deserve to get kicked off the stage of world history.

And despite the drubbing they’re getting at the polls across the globe, our elites, our Davos set, our ruling class have learned nothing.

A big component of the various populist uprisings is social media. After all, it’s not like the National Front could ever get positive coverage in the normal French media. So, Le Pen, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump rely on their followers (and paid trolls) sharing memes, news, half-truths, outright disinformation, whatever it takes, to their friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Neutral voters may get their interest piqued by such shares, follow the rabbit hole to anti-establishment websites, and soon find themselves converted.

monitoring

Unauthorized meme detected in sector K-492! Deploy the explainer drones now!

The Establishment notices this, and tellingly: They blame Facebook and other platforms for allowing such speech and not controlling their users. This top-down view of how the world works is precisely what got them in trouble to begin with — that our insular coastal elites are actually smart and wise enough to know what’s best, and that you rubes out in Ohio will always get yourselves in trouble without the gentle guiding hand of Matt Yglesias to control your thinking.

For instance, it is Facebook that drew the ire of Buzzfeed today for letting their fellow Establishmentarians down. Ryan Broderick, who’s been with Buzzfeed for years and has shown up on shows such as the Today Show, blames pro-Trump Facebook memes not on the people who create them, but on Mark Zuckerberg for allowing them to happen.

“But their memes have appeal and the most viral ones go mainstream,” Broderick writes. “Their Facebook pages get bigger. Algorithms identify that a user likes one particular page and suggest others, creating an echo-chamber effect that can lead to some pretty scary places.”

In other words, it’s Facebook’s fault for its industry-standard “similar things you may like” algorithm not steering its users like cattle away from anti-establishment content. As if a typical Breitbart pro-Trump propaganda piece should then be matched with a Vox explainer and a page where you can donate to the Hillary campaign to get wayward thought criminals back on the reservation.

Broderick then includes this astonishing paragraph:

orwell

Thought control. He is talking about flat-out thought control.

My own opinion of Trump and his alt.right trolls may be readily surmised with a brief perusal of this blog. But at the same time, I know exactly where the anti-establishment rage that propelled him into office is coming from. It’s from university presidents treating themselves to ever-more-extravagant salaries and bonuses while tuition continues to outpace inflation. It’s about the university’s education quality continuing to erode in favor of establishment interests such as political correctness, the cult of diversity, and, often, the football team. (The latter because it’s not like having a strong English Lit curriculum is something that lends itself to bragging rights for members of the Board of Regents.)

It’s about feckless politicians and their cheerleaders in the NYC and London-based media pushing for ever-more immigration — and without any arguments as to why, other than calling all immigration opponents racist. It’s about said immigrants competing for working class jobs while the elite still live in majority-white neighborhoods with majority-white schools, all while tut-tutting about just how much more diverse and inclusive they are than you hicks in flyover country. It’s about the global economy increasingly benefiting the top 0.1% — mere one-percenters are pikers these days — while everyone else’s buying power seems to stagnate. It’s about blue-collar jobs getting outsourced to Mexico while the company executives still retain their plush corner offices, and writers for both the New York Times and National Review saying that’s just how the world works. It’s about plum jobs such as NBC News reporting gigs going to Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton purely on account of their parentage, while young plebians without the last names or without the connections can never break out. It’s about the Democratic Party floating trial balloons for Chelsea for Congress mere days after her mother’s crushing defeat, proving they’re trying for a repeat of 2016 in 2018.

And yes, it’s about the media elite believing, despite all evidence, that they know what’s best for you people. It’s about John Oliver and Amy Schumer and the above Ryan Broderick and Vox’s Ezra Klein actually believing more in the system than in the people who are failed daily by the system. And when the people go anti-establishment? It’s the system’s own fault for allowing improper meme-sharing!

You have to buy into the party orthodoxy hook, line, and sinker to even be considered for a position with Buzzfeed or some other NYC or London media outfit, or for a late-night comedy gig. And that’s on top of the connections and Ivy League degree required to even get an interview. It’s why John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Steven Colbert are all basically interchangeable. It’s why the staffers of Buzzfeed are so politically in lockstep with one another that even Bolsheviks have to be impressed. They’ve created this echo chamber, with the writers of the sites and the shows writing more for each other than their actual readers or viewers, seeing each other all the time on the L-train, never rubbing shoulders with Trump voters other than with the occasional Jane Goodall-esque, “Trump Voters in the Mist” piece looking at them like a different species. It’s no surprise that Broderick’s answer for Trump voters’ thoughtcrimes is the same one that Buzzfeed itself relies on for its employees: enforced ideological conformity. Unfortunately for Broderick, though: his editor Ben Smith can’t fire John Q. MAGA out in Iowa for wearing the wrong red hat. Therefore, his proposed solution is “safeguards” — quite the Orwellian word — for those that pursue Trump memes, or who are in his word, “radicalized.”

Broderick uses this word “radicalized” intentionally. There are already rules and procedures with social media companies to deal with ISIS and other terrorists who attempt to use their services. It would take little effort to expand these rules to include followers of Trump or Le Pen too, right? Buzzfeed can’t fire these voters from their jobs for their political heresies — so perhaps they can shame Zuckerberg to fire, or at least shadowban, them off Facebook instead.

The coastal media elite’s prescription after the Hillary loss is more of the same. I won’t ever like the clown fascism of the Trump Administration or the nonzero chance Cheeto Jesus will get us in a nuclear war because the Chinese president said something mean on Twitter. But I do like snotty, conformist writers in Brooklyn and London with breathtakingly easy lives and parents paying for their rent getting their metaphorical teeth kicked in. It’s just a shame they learned absolutely nothing from the experience.

No, not all games have to be a murder simulator.

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So, in other November 2016 news…

A recent piece by a gaming developer argues forcefully for the potential market for games not focused on killing and mayhem — “murder simulators,” as she calls them — and more on games focused on interactions and nurturing. Brie Code (how about that for a programmer’s last name; reminds me of the surgical resident I once knew with the last name Blades) boasts a resume that includes work on such slaughterfests as Company of Heroes and the Assassin’s Creed series, so she’s hardly coming at this as an outsider.

“Three years ago, for the first time, my friends who don’t like video games started to ask about video games,” Code says. “This was very exciting for me – I thought maybe I would finally be able to share the thing I love with the people I love. Spoiler: I was wrong. They didn’t become gamers after they played the games I recommended.”

dishonored-2-death

Why can’t you ever just talk it out, Corvo?

She goes on to recount how the gun- or sword-play of all the usual big titles like Skyrim turned them off. Even Journey, a seemingly innocent game with nary a dragon or assault rifle in sight, got the thumbs-down due to the presence of a snake out to get the heroine. But Code did notice something — one of her friends had had a major emotional investment in her relationship with an NPC in Skyrim, having to quit the game after that character got killed, as tends to happen in the land of the Seven Holds.

“Kristina said to me through her tears that she didn’t realize that you could develop an emotional attachment to a character in a video game. She didn’t realize that you could create your character and exist as a version of yourself in a world full of characters whom you care about. I had never realized that she didn’t know this, because I knew this so deeply.”

The problem is that there are so few gaming franchises where you can explore this without somebody trying to shoot you or a monster trying to eat your face. A retort to Code’s article soon showed us why.

“The walking simulator side believes games should focus on storytelling and have social justice messages, while the murder simulator group thinks games should be enjoyable to play,” sneers Kyle Foley for the conservative Heat Street site. “What Code is arguing is that games need to be more “compassionate” in order to be less boring, but she could not be more wrong.”

He goes on to talk about the mayhem he dials up in Grand Theft Auto V as an example of fun. And I personally agree! GTA, and other slaughterhouse franchises like Elder Scrolls, Gears of War, and Warframe sure are fun to us guys. So are strategy games, the vast majority of which boil down to some version of playing war like young boys do with toy soldiers.

What do most young girls play?

Yes, many girls do enjoy the online killfests despite the rampant “tits or gtfo” sexism of your typical gaming chat lobby. But plenty more don’t, as Code was writing about. Is there a potential market for such consumers? Game development is a capitalist enterprise — wouldn’t a studio seek to expand its customer base by going after Code’s blood-adverse friends?

Foley argues no, that only boy games are fun and no girl games could succeed, which is an argument instantly refuted by just four letters: S I M S.

the-sims-4-1

Oh. Well, it’s not like this franchise would generate interest for any DLC packs, though.

You see, while stereotypical boys play War, what many young girls play is House, and Electronic Arts owes much of its revenue to a breakout home simulator currently on its fourth iteration. No other major (what the industry calls “AAA”) franchise comes close to attracting Sims gamers, instead throwing everything they’ve got at boy-tastic interests: either killing or sports.

And considering how EA is, as usual, mismanaging its star franchise into the ground, couldn’t a competitor step up? I’m not talking about some indie Steam Greenlight thing. I’m talking about UbiSoft putting together the resources to launch a AAA competitor to bring in female gamers who are about as interested in Assassin’s Creed as I am in crocheting.

crochet-granny

Because I do NOT want to step onto the Crochet Cartel’s turf.

“Video games are not boring, they just aren’t for everyone,” Foley concludes. If you were an UbiSoft executive, would you be content with that? Movie studio execs sure aren’t!

And besides, some male gamers would probably enjoy taking a break from exploding skulls to play something a bit more constructive. There really is more potential to gaming than coming up with new techniques to bring someone’s HP bar to zero. But too many developers, and male writers, cannot even comprehend it.