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« Toronto is New York | Main | Fragile Popularity »

October 14, 2008

Un-PC Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards--

* The unstoppable Fjordman lists 10 reasons why the European Union should be gotten rid of.

* Some interesting sentences and observations from respectable intellectual Ian Buruma, writing about the rise of the far right in Europe:

The biggest resentment among supporters of the right-wing parties in Europe these days is reserved not so much for immigrants as for political elites that, in the opinion of many, have been governing for too long in cozy coalitions, which appear to exist chiefly to protect vested interests ... Expressions of nationalism in postwar European democracies were always tolerated in soccer stadiums, but not in public life, by these leaders. Skepticism about European unity was routinely denounced as bigotry or even a form of racism.

* What kind of sense does it make to be importing refugees who can't even begin to contend with modern life?

* Peter Schiff predicts that inflation will be at 20-30% by this time next year. "We need to replenish our savings, and the government is not letting us do that. The government is force-feeding spending down our throat," Schiff says.

* Fun facts for the day come from Heather Mac Donald:

Though second- and third-generation Hispanics make some progress over their first-generation parents, that progress starts from an extremely low base and stalls out at high school completion. High school drop-out rates -- around 50 percent -- remain steady across generations. Latinos’ grades and test scores are at the bottom of the bell curve. The very low share of college degrees earned by Latinos has not changed for more than two decades. Currently only one in ten Latinos has a college degree.

* Joseph Sobran wonders what it means to be conservative in America. It's a very good piece that I think even lefties would learn from. Well, open-minded lefties anyway.

* Thomas Woods interviews "reactionary radical" Bill Kauffman.

* "It is time for the government to do the one thing it does well: nothing at all," writes economist Jeffrey Miron. My own basic conviction about politics, FWIW: Nine times out of ten, nothing really needs to be done.



posted by Michael at October 14, 2008


Thanks for that link to Fjordman's article. I hate the EU so heartily and so viscerally that I'm rendered inarticulate by it. What do you say about a fart in an elevator?

Still, it's nice to have the reasons laid out so methodically and in such detail. Great tip, Michael.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on October 15, 2008 1:23 AM

Sir James Mackintosh (1765–1832)
QUOTATION: The commons, faithful to their system, remained in a wise and masterly inactivity.

Posted by: dearieme on October 15, 2008 7:53 AM

Buruma's observations are interesting, indeed, but only in the sense that it is "interesting" to watch someone, side-swiped by facts on the ground, try to convince himself that the Great Project is still in excellent repair, and only in need of squirt of caulking and a lick of paint.

I don't think any European angry about the unresponsiveness of the governing classes would find the content or tone of that article at all agreeable or encouraging. Imagine a letter from your Senator or Congressmen reading, "Ah, honey, I know you're angry, but you're not really angry about that bailout, or our disastrous trade regime, or unfettered immigration - you're just pouty because I'm not paying enough attention to you, aren't you sugar? Now I promise I'll make it up to you, right after I finish passing all this legislation for my lobbyist pals...uh, your own good, so there's no need to let your pretty little head be demagogued about issues we know you don't really care about."

Which is precisely the tack Buruma seems to be taking re Euro-scepticism, Islamization (oh, excuse me, "Islamization"), and immigration. If only the entrenched parties would pretend to listen to hoi polloi respectfully, and refrain from publicly attaching perjorative labels to their views, the governing classes could keep the popular discontent under control and get on with their preferred anti-democratic program. It's unthinkable that people complain about their masters' policies because they actually disagree with their masters' policies.

So when he writes, "[a]s long as people express their concerns, however distasteful to liberal ears, by votes rather than violence, democracy will not be seriously harmed", he appears to be advocating for the judicious allowance of a little steam-venting and "acting out", for the sake of "democracy" (by which he means the status quo).

"Populist" is the new "racist".

Posted by: Moira Breen on October 15, 2008 9:44 AM

Best European Union factoid: it employs a woman whose job consists of translating documents from Estonian into Maltese.

Posted by: Peter on October 15, 2008 10:40 AM

Robert -- Fun. What are some of your own pet reasons for despising the EU?

dearieme -- That's a great quote, in the grand manner. Now I'm off to find out who Sir James Mackintosh was ...

Peter -- That is a funny fact. I wonder how full of herself she is.

Moira -- Agreed completely. It's a hoot watching someone like Buruma twist himself into a pretzel trying to say what he has to say in a way that's palatable to his fellow mandarins. I couldn't live as such a sophisticate myself - it's soooooo much more fun being blunt and direct. But I do find it remarkable that *any* member of the mandarin class should go to the trouble of venturing the thought that maybe, just maybe, there's something going on here that shouldn't be dismissed, and that should maybe even be attended to semi-respectfully. Maybe it's an indicator that the door of awareness has swung open a micro-fraction of an inch. But I'm probably being pollyannish.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 15, 2008 11:14 AM

As all things must, the definition of what is PC and what is un-PC seems to be getting muddled.

I was recently contacted by a client who wanted to know if I would work on "extremely un-PC" material. Turns out, he wanted to put up a site about BAMN, a quota advocacy group. The name means "By Any Means Necessary." BAMN exists almost entirely to fight against ballot initiatives that would make racial and sexual quotas illegal.

Now, I would have thought that a quota advocacy group is as PC as you can get. Apparently, this potential client thought that this radical leftist group was challenging orthodoxy, instead of supporting it. How he figured that, I'll never know. Corporate and academic America seem to me to be in unanimous agreement that racial quotas are great, and are opposed only by vile racists.

The money was awful. I turned down the job.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 15, 2008 12:33 PM

PC is now largely a middle-class phenomenon, with speech codes being the new way to control what people say around the dinner table. It's an update of the old saws about not getting into disputes about religion or politics. Traditional American culture, where emotion is in bad taste and anger is feared (Chris White! Calling Chris White!) has now co-opted PC, draining it of its leftism, and now using it to enforce Harper Valley PTA conformity to middle-class Protestant norms.

The flip side of this is that "un-PC" now means anything that involves emotion, anything that upsets the neighbourhood bluenoses, anything that smacks of "committment" or which makes people get angry at all. Ironic, but we're back in that world, and I'm not even sure how we got there.

I do remember in Canada in 1983, a radical leftist filmmaker named Bonnie Sher Klein (Naomi's mom, actually) make an agit-prop anti-porn film called 'Not A Love Story'. It was creepy in a way that still makes me shudder how easily young, leftist "rebellious" opinion shifted INSTANTANEOUSLY from dissing anti-porn types as hopelessly repressed squares to an absolute lockstep "porn exploits women" regimen, accompanied by the inevitable denials that the newly puritanical reformed rebel had ever been anything less than full of contempt for porn.

It was as swift and seamless a transition as the speech in 1984. And as "authentic". Overnight, it changed.

That was the beginning, when leftism became a rationalization of old Puritanical impulses, when the left became thoroughly feminized, an agent of conformity and repression. Now PC is utterly conventionally bourgeois, so completely that any kind of difference is seen as Un-PC.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 15, 2008 2:02 PM

I've noticed what ST is talking about too. Nobody will ever call themselves PC, it's always someone else who is. And it's always acknowledged as bad, even by liberals, though they never attribute it to the right source.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on October 15, 2008 2:47 PM

Michael, it's not so bad. When Europeans really come together as one they can certainly produce good stuff: stuff like, um, "Volare" and, er, Abba

I'd better leave it to my hero:
“Fifteen years after the collapse of communism. I am afraid more than at the beginning of its softer (or weaker) version, of social-democratism, which has become – under different names, e.g. the welfare state or the soziale Marktwirtschaft – the dominant model of the economic and social system of current Western civilization. It is based on big and patronizing government, on extensive regulating of human behavior, and on large-scale income redistribution.”
Vaclav Klaus

Posted by: Robert Townshend on October 15, 2008 3:43 PM

The unstoppable Fjordman lists 10 reasons why the European Union should be gotten rid of.

I am as critical of European institutions as is possible to be without becoming an anarchist, but the Fjordman piece was so full of misinformation, logical gaps, and patently clear mistakes, it would take days of me life to correct them all, and said anyone interested straight.

As non-PC propagandic texts go, this one scored a clear nine on the scale of Goebbels.

Posted by: ijsbrand on October 15, 2008 4:20 PM

ijsbrand -- Good to see you visiting again. How about pointing out a few examples of Fjordman's lapses. I'm always eager to learn.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 15, 2008 4:30 PM

I dont have a problem with watchdog economists, but jeferry moron couldnt be wronger if an economics crisis came and hit him on his head.

this is what happens if you (figuratively) hire black surrogates to attack obama. They sink your debating position by talking rhetorical nonsense (instead of well articulated opinions that let you control the dialectic) and making you lose credibility with your base.

Posted by: Ramesh on October 15, 2008 5:22 PM

the moron was a printer's devil (or a freudean slip)

I'm sorry I misspelt Mr Miron's name.

Posted by: Ramesh on October 15, 2008 5:50 PM

More unPC linkage: new F. Roger Devlin "Home Economics" essay:


Posted by: anon on October 15, 2008 11:54 PM

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