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Wed, 23 Jun 2021
The World for People who Think

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Democracy in America: Tocqueville and Us

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.
~Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness

Come around to my way of thinking. Don't you want to, want to get along?
~Urge Overkill, "Sister Havana"

The University of Michigan just signaled its plan to fight racism: "Over the next three years, the university will hire at least 20 faculty members with expertise in racial inequality and structural racism." The key words here are "at least"; count on more than 20. Corporations like Microsoft, Disney, and Genentech now routinely browbeat managers and employees into moral conformity by way of "diversity training." The Biden administration has reactivated "racial justice" and "equity" programs across federal agencies and at the unit level of the armed forces. The self-flagellation in such powerful American institutions only perplexes those who love their country for all it has overcome and still see it as a beacon of freedom and prosperity.

A few brave souls have decried these academic, corporate, and federal policies to the detriment of their careers. But, in response, the agents of what I call "ego-based factionalism" will simply shift the terms of the debate, change the titles of their appointees, and invade new arenas like churches, hospitals, fire departments, day-care centers, and others we've yet to imagine. The rot will intensify and spread. For every state like Florida that outlaws critical race theory, a state like Washington mandates it.


Legendary singer Nina Simone's family claims Kamala Harris 'bullied and intimidated' heiress out of estate

Kamala Harris
© Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images
The granddaughter of Nina Simone, "the high priestess of soul," said Simone's family lost control of the legendary singer's estate because Vice President Kamala Harris targeted them as attorney general of California.

RéAnna Simone Kelly tweeted on Saturday that Harris "bullied my mother in court" to the point that "my mom almost killed herself from the depression." Kelly said that Harris targeted the family with allegations of fraud and threats of imprisonment to eventually strip the family of the rights to Simone's estate.

"[The estate] was taken away from us & given to white people. Our family name was DRAGGED in the media. We get NO royalties, nothing. Wanna hold someone accountable? Ask Kamala Harris why she came for my family," Simone tweeted. "Ask her why she separated my family. Ask her why my grandmothers [sic] estate is in SHAMBLES now. Ask her why we as her family no longer own the rights to anything. Ask her why she bullied my mother in court and my mom almost killed herself from the depression."

"Ask her why my mother had a gag order put on her and can not speak on these things. Ask her why she didn't even want my mom to be able to say she was Nina Simone's daughter. Ask her why she wanted us to walk away with NOTHING," Kelly said.

Gold Seal

The mouths of babes: 9-year-old girl blasts Minnesota school board for 'political' BLM poster: 'Get the posters out of our schools'

novalee speech posters BLM school board
© Chip Baker/YouTube
Novalee, a 9-year-old girl from Minnesota, slammed her school board for displaying posters supporting BLM in the schools, violating its rule against politics in school.
A video of a nine-year-old Minnesota girl confronting her school board about the installation of Black Lives Matter posters in her school has gone viral, showing her blasting them for banning political messages in schools yet permitting the BLM posters to be posted. "You have lied to me," she charged. "Get the posters out of our schools. Courage is contagious so be courageous."

The girl, who said her name was Novalee, spoke at the Lakeville Area School Board meeting on June 8. Lakeville is a suburb of the city of Minneapolis, where George Floyd died in 2020 and where the BLM protests around the nation originated.

Novalee stated, "The other day I was walking down the hallway at Lakeview Elementary School to give a teacher a retiring gift. I looked up onto the wall and saw a BLM poster and an Amanda Gorman poster. In case you don't know who that chick is, she's some girl who did a poem at Biden's so-called inauguration. I was so mad. I was told two weeks ago at this very meeting spot: no politics in school. I believed what you said at this meeting."

Life Preserver

'Conservation' project of Tasmanian devils wipes out island's penguin population

© Eric Woehler
Little penguins - the species has been eliminated from Australia's Maria Island by introduced Tasmanian devils.
An attempt to save the Tasmanian devil by shipping an "insurance population" to a tiny Australian island has come at a "catastrophic" cost to the birdlife there, including the complete elimination of little penguins, according to BirdLife Tasmania.

Maria Island, a 116-square-kilometre island east of Tasmania, was home to 3,000 breeding pairs of little penguins around a decade ago.

Their populations have dwindled since Tasmanian devils were introduced in 2012, but according to BirdLife Tasmania, the most recent survey conducted by the parks department showed penguins had completely disappeared from the island.

Comment: As with numerous other areas of science, something is seriously wrong when conservationists repeatedly cause more problems than they set out to solve; another alarming sign is that zoologists have been claiming species to be 'extinct', only for the animal to turn up later, and some times for the most comical of reasons:


Don't ban CRT. Expose it.

CRT rally
© Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
At a rally against CRT being taught in schools in Leesburg, Virginia
There's a liberal way to fight illiberalism. And it's beginning to work.

The stories in the mainstream media this past week about the broadening campaign to ban critical race theory in public schools have been fascinating — and particularly in how they describe what CRT is. Here's the Atlantic's benign summary of CRT: "recent reexaminations of the role that slavery and segregation have played in American history and the attempts to redress those historical offenses." NBC News calls it the "academic study of racism's pervasive impact." NPR calls CRT: "teaching about the effects of racism." The New York Times calls it, with a straight face, "classroom discussion of race, racism" and goes on to describe it as a "framework used to look at how racism is woven into seemingly neutral laws and institutions."

How on earth could merely teaching students about the history of racism and its pervasiveness in the United States provoke such a fuss? No wonder Charles Blow is mystified. But don't worry. The MSM have a ready explanation: the GOP needs an inflammatory issue to rile their racist base, and so this entire foofaraw is really just an astro-turfed, ginned-up partisan gambit about nothing. The MSM get particular pleasure in ridiculing parents who use the term "critical race theory" as shorthand for things that just, well, make them uncomfortable — when the parents obviously have no idea what CRT really is.

When pushed to describe it themselves, elite journalists refer to the legal theories Derrick Bell came up with, in the 1970s — obscure, esoteric and nothing really to do with high-school teaching. "If your kid is learning CRT, your kid is in law/grad school," snarked one. Marc Lamont Hill even tried to pull off some strained references to Gramsci to prove his Marxian intellectual cred, and to condescend to his opponents.

This rubric achieves several things at once. It denies that there is anything really radical or new about CRT; it flatters the half-educated; it blames the controversy entirely on Republican opportunism; and it urges all fair-minded people to defend intellectual freedom and racial sensitivity against these ugly white supremacists.

What could be more convenient?

Comment: The similarities to, and lessons of anti-Semitism might be an apt comparison.


The books are already burning

burning book
© Banning/Substack.co,/Amazon/KJN
Do you remember the names Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying? I wrote one of my earliest New York Times columns about the bravery they displayed as tenured professors — words that do not typically appear in the same sentence — at Evergreen State College.

It was 2017 and the professors, both evolutionary biologists, opposed the school's "Day of Absence," in which white students were asked to leave campus for the day. You can imagine what followed. For questioning a day of racial segregation wearing the garments of social justice, the pair was smeared as racist. Following serious threats, they left town for a time with their children, lost many of their friends, and, ultimately, resigned their jobs.

But they refused to shut up.

They started a podcast called DarkHorse, where they suggested in April 2020 that Covid-19 could have come from the lab in Wuhan — a position that made them a laughingstock among so-called experts more than a year before Jon Stewart talked about it on The Late Show.

Their willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and take on third-rail subjects has drawn them a large audience: Last month, DarkHorse had almost five million views on YouTube. But speaking freely has come with a price. The couple's two YouTube channels have each received several warnings and one official strike, which the company says was because of their advocacy of the drug ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19. Three strikes from YouTube and a channel can be deleted. According to Weinstein, that would mean the loss of "more than half of our income."

How have we gotten here? How have we gotten to the point where having conversations about important scientific and medical subjects requires such a high level of personal risk? How have we accepted a reality in which Big Tech can carry out the digital equivalent of book burnings? And why is it that so few people are speaking up against the status quo?

I can't think of a person better situated to answer these questions than Abigail Shrier, the author of today's guest essay.

Comment: Asked by guest author Shrier: 'The question is how long will decent people stand by quietly and watch it happen?' Without confrontation to increase awareness, there is no stopping the slide of humanity into a 'state of being' heretofore unrecognizable and intolerable. We are late to this game. To say nothing, to do nothing is to submit - thus programming complete. Those who see it must be the alert system to those who lag behind.


Swiss reject climate change referendum with zoomers and millennials leading the way

swizterland mountain
Swiss Reject Climate Change

Eurointelligence reports Swiss Reject Climate Change
After Switzerland dropped its negotiations with the EU, the country has now rejected a climate-protection law in a referendum. Concretely, they rejected all three parts of the law in separate votes: on CO2, on pesticides, and on drinking water.

We agree with the Swiss journalist Mathieu von Rohr that this failure is not merely important in its own right, but symptomatic for the difficulties facing Green politics in general. It is one thing for people to pretend they support the Green party, especially when it is cool to do so. It is quite another to make actual sacrifices as the Swiss were asked to do.

But what is particularly interesting about this referendum is that the strongest opposition came from young people. 60-70% of the 18-34 year old voted No in the three categories.

Each country is different, but the big yet unanswered question is whether people elsewhere would agree to make personal sacrifices for the greater good. The Swiss referendum tells us we should not take this for granted. The German elections will be the next big test.

Comment: Notice how the above article suggests that the voters in question are too selfish "to make sacrifices for the greater good" - and not making their decision based on the fact that most climate change legislation in the West is not only wrong-headed but terribly counterproductive.

Huge Shock

The referendum Failed 51-49. And it took a crushing rejection by Zoomers and millennials to do it.

Red Flag

The Strange Tale of Yeonmi Park - high-profile North Korean defector

yeonmi park
When 21-year-old North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park, made her debut on the world stage in October this year with harrowing tales of life under the repressive North Korean regime and her perilous escape to freedom, she left audiences, human rights heavyweights, and journalists in tears - some literally sobbing.

Wearing a pink, traditional Korean dress with its high waist and voluminous skirt, Park stood before the lectern at the One Young World Summit in Dublin and in between long pauses, wiping tears from her eyes and holding her hand to her mouth as she composed herself, she told of being brainwashed; of seeing executions; of starving; of the slither of light in her darkness when she watched the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, and had her mind opened to the outside world where love was possible; of having to watch her mother being raped; of burying her father on her own at just 14; and of threatening to kill herself rather than allow Mongolian soldiers to send her back to North Korea. She talked about following the stars to freedom and then ended with her signature sign off, "When I was crossing the Gobi desert, scared of dying, I thought nobody cares, but you have listened to my story. You have cared."

You'd have to have been inhuman not to be moved. But - and you're going to hear a lot of "buts" - was the story she told of her life in North Korea accurate? The more speeches and interviews I read, watch and hear Park give, the more I become aware of serious inconsistencies in her story that suggest it wasn't. Whether this matters is up to the reader to decide, but my concern is if someone with such a high profile twists their story to fit the narrative we have come to expect from North Korean defectors, our perspective of the country could become dangerously skewed. We need to have a full and truthful picture of life in North Korea if we are to help those living under its abysmally cruel regime and those who try to flee.


Iran's sole nuclear plant shuts down over unspecified 'technical fault'


FILE PHOTO: This is the first time Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of the Bushehr plant, which went online in 2011.
Iran's atomic energy body says the country's sole nuclear power plant has been temporarily shut down over a "technical fault."

"Following a technical fault at Bushehr power plant, and after a one-day notice to the Energy Ministry, the plant was temporarily shut down and taken off the power grid," the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said on its website overnight.

The agency added that the power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr will be reconnected to the national electricity network "within the next few days" after the issue is resolved.

Comment: Whilst there does appear to be a rise in fires and explosions at certain sites more generally, it's likely that some of these recurring incidents at Iran's facilities are the work of nefarious actors:

Mr. Potato

CNN's Don Lemon says Americans don't see black people as 'human beings,' proclaims US is racist

don lemon
© Paul Marotta/Getty Images
CNN anchor Don Lemon had some unfavorable remarks about the United States and Americans in a new interview. The left-wing cable TV host made a bizarre claim that Americans don't see black people as human beings, and declared that the U.S. needs to "realize just how racist it is."

Lemon gave an in-depth interview for the Washington Post Magazine's Sunday feature. Reporter Eric Easter asked Lemon, "You've suggested that Trump was the president we deserved and probably a necessary and revealing wake-up call. Do you still think that?"

Lemon responded, "Considering people's apathy to get involved in the political process, to pay attention to the political process, to go to the polls, their willingness to give so much attention to celebrity, I think that's what I meant by 'the president we deserve.'"


It's amazing how it always seems to be the undeniably successful and wealthy black people claiming America is racist. If America doesn't see Don Lemon as a person, why are they watching him as a news anchor?

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