SL 797

Estate sales opened up in New Jersey finally, so I’m taking the day off from writing to indulge in my more lucrative side hustle. I’m going to buy stacks and stacks of books today. Just some links before I run out the door with a purse of cash and a drowsy Jonah, who has been enlisted as my roadie.

Apt. 11D was popular with my good friends at The Washington Post opinion section this month. Helaine Olen linked to us in an article about the demise of Urban Baby blog. And Dan Drezner mentioned us in his June virus diary. Thanks, guys!

Lots of drama this week about the Letter in Harper’s about Cancel Culture. Matt Yglesias from Vox got dragged into some interoffice drama over it, so there was drama within drama. Honestly, I’m getting rather annoyed with both sides of the debate. Just be nice to each other, people. And don’t retweet videos of people being assholes or get them fired. It’s not cool.

Want another take on opening schools in the fall? Here’s an interview with Emily Oster in Politico.

I hope to be back later this afternoon.

27 thoughts on “SL 797

  1. “And don’t retweet videos of people being assholes or get them fired. It’s not cool.”

    Really? Well, I wouldn’t retweet them (but given my 5 followers, it probably wouldn’t spread anything if I did). But, I am personally shocked at how some people appear to be behaving.

    My kiddos school (and, of course, not the school, but social media from individuals within the school, which is closed) has exploded with retweeting of videos of [some] minors behaving very badly, rape jokes, racist diatribes, and reports of assaults #metoos. There’s now screenshots of a spreadsheet listing individual students (like the media men spreadsheet), but with actual children listed.

    I don’t approve of the explosion (and have a suspicion that it started because of internal friend drama –that is individuals who were in the group engaging in the bad behavior decided to out people). But, it’s not going to stop. And it’s going to affect lives. Being able to permanently store the behavior means that it will follow the individuals who engage. I feel bad for the kids and am glad that mine is not a part.


  2. I’m not sure what it means to be “annoyed at both sides.” Even-handed between those who advocate canceling political opponents and those who advocate civil dialogue? And urging both sides to be nice to each other? You can’t be nice to people and cancel them at the same time.


    1. Ah yes, and I take the other side, which is to ask what civil discourse the powerful signatories are being prevented from pursuing. One can complain about abstract civility, but it is the right of an individual to decide who they will listen to or whose books they will buy or who they will hire, based on the views they pursue and express.

      And you are doing exactly what the letter purports to oppose — suggesting that there is one side. Which issues we think there is only one side to (say, for me, one is that enslavement is an unacceptable human practice) is precisely what is being debated in this issue.

      Quoting, NK Jemisin, “Just catching up with this Harpers nonsense. I see why they didn’t name names — because their argument only works in abstract. The moment you cite specifics, you realize they’re supporting mass dehumanization, historical revisionism, and any number of fascist principles.”


      1. bj said, “Quoting, NK Jemisin, “Just catching up with this Harpers nonsense. I see why they didn’t name names — because their argument only works in abstract. The moment you cite specifics, you realize they’re supporting mass dehumanization, historical revisionism, and any number of fascist principles.””

        Noam Chomsky is doing that?



      2. “..they’re supporting mass dehumanization, historical revisionism, and any number of fascist principles.”..” My view is, people get to do that. The cure for bad speech is speech back. Not the new Lysenkoism we see before usl


  3. bj,

    What do you think of the situation where the respected Democratic data guy was fired after retweeting a tweet summary of a study by a black Princeton scholar that said that violent protests during the Civil Rights era hurt Democratic vote share?

    How does that fit into your rubric of “supporting mass dehumanization, historical revisionism, and any number of fascist principles”?

    Shor’s tweet said, “Post-MLK-assasination race riots reduced Democratic vote share in surrounding counties by 2%, which was enough to tip the 1968 election to Nixon. Non-violent protests *increase* Dem vote, mainly by encouraging warm elite discourse and media coverage.”


      1. What I mean is, are you asserting that Shor is a fascist and that only a fascist could want to suggest that Shor’s ought to be able to engage with scholarly work in his field?

        In the end, if Omar Wasow’s work is correct, lefties are shooting themselves in the face by trying to suppress it.


  4. Well, I guess there are two points of view on whether Alison Stanger should have been beaten up so that she ended up in the emergency room. Perhaps if you don’t want to listen to what someone has to say, you have the right to express that by physically assaulting them. Having been appropriately chastened, I’ll have to think about which side of that question I’m on.


    1. I did not say there are two sides to anyone being beaten up. They did, and you, perhaps, by suggesting that there is civil discourse to every idea.


      1. Well, FWIW, if someone wants to endorse beating up Alison Stanger, I would not suggest that they should be fired, though I would certainly disagree. But your comrades do think that anyone who reads aloud “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” should be fired, don’t they? I guess that letter is an expression of Fascist principles, eh?


      2. Content matters, that’s the point. The most recent discussion I stumbled on on the letter was a discussion of the firing of Neff the writer for Tucker Carlson after his pseudonymous comments on racist sites were uncovered. Different people draw different lines, for what someone should be fired for and who makes that decision.

        I believe many people would feel it appropriate to fire a colleague if they advocated the beating of another member of the faculty, even if you don’t.


      3. bj, did you mean “context matters”?

        I’ll bite on the UCLA prof thing. y81 is as usual exaggerating what happened, which must be some sort of way lawyers are taught to argue? Weird.

        “But your comrades do think that anyone who reads aloud “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” should be fired, don’t they? I guess that letter is an expression of Fascist principles, eh? ”

        That is not at all what the issue is about. The issue is not about LfaBJ but about Peris’ insistence on saying the n-word in full. Furthermore, he refused to stop doing it when his students asked. No one thinks LfaBJ is a fascist text unless you want to go nutpicking.

        1. Professors, especially non-white professors, should not say the n-word in full. Being “unable to” is not a restriction except in the most superficial way. When a person says “the n-word” in a specific context, then everyone knows damn well what is meant.
        2. Not respecting students’ needs is a very very problematic and unprofessional practice for a college professor. What you do in a case like this (where you are reading something, read the n-word out loud, and get pushback) is to drop it, then raise the issue again in less emotional circumstances. That is when you “teach the conflict,” so to say. It is well worth discussing the circumstances under which the n-word should be used in a classroom, but it should be a community discussion and not something imposed by authority. The issue of free speech and its limits is important, but not right then, right there in the middle of another type of discussion. We can talk about these issues when students feel safe. If we don’t, then what we have is some sort of theater surrounding the professor and their needs instead of encouraging everyone to learn. Believe me, I can make students feel uncomfortable when I have to, but in a safe context. I don’t throw my students off the side of a boat in the middle of the Atlantic and tell them to learn to swim right that second.


      4. Thank you Wendy. I’ve seen several disingenuous folks on the internet posting things like “Now we can’t read MLK?” We know that there are historic texts that contain slurs and there are appropriate ways to handle that in the classroom. It is perfectly acceptable to investigate an incident alleging that this was not handled appropriately.


      5. We have moved quite a rhetorical distance, from “mass dehumanization, historical revisionism, and any number of fascist principles” to “[in]appropriate ways to handle that in the classroom.” Apparently, to a certain cast of leftist mind, those two offenses are morally equivalent, or at least both of them merit “cancellation.”


      6. Funnily enough, Bari Weiss got her start attacking and attempting to silence professors, and at that time, those on the left were (wo)manning the barricades so support the right of professors to speak freely in the classroom, even if it made students uncomfortable. I think we all know that the leftist academics in this thread demanding Prof. Peris’s head would have had no problem with Columbia professors’ “failing to respect [Jewish] students’ needs.” See the far from unbiased link below, which does however give further links for those who don’t get enough self-righteous, narcissistic political commentary from the current internet.


      7. Bari Weiss’ letter is worth thinking about in this context

        Actually, I don’t think it is worth thinking about or even worth much of anything at all. Instead it is more of her self-serving drivel.

        Ah Bari Weiss. Supposed brave iconoclast and teller of truths. Except, that she is not. She is a self-serving hypocrite who wants to be able to say whatever she wants on any platform she wants without being criticized for it but not extend the same courtesy to others. I don’t have much time for that former pornography producer turned Brazilian expat that y81 cites bit here is the money quote from that article:

        The New York Times is allowing one of its columnists to masquerade as a stalwart defender of campus free speech and academic pluralism while utterly ignoring, and allowing her to falsely deny, her own long history in trying to stigmatize and punish professors who criticized Israel, to the point where the NYCLU stepped in and denounced her campaign as a dangerous threat to academic freedom.

        Bari Weiss is exhibit A in the rebuttal to the ‘cancel culture’ argument that is being made, which is that this is not an argument about whether it is legitimate to “cancel” and “deplatform” people but rather just who is being “cancelled.” Who, whom.

        And what, exactly, are her grievances in her supposedly brave letter? That she has colleagues who hate her and want her out? Maybe, although they at least criticize her *internally* rather than dragging her on twitter the way she does them. (Odd, that she claims that twitter is the problem when she resorts to it so often to stick her own knives in.) That the New York Times does not unconditionally give her the keys to the car and allow her to write what she wants, how she wants?

        Donne moi un break.


  5. I got the following advertising insert from Hometown U.

    Someone is selling a safety care package for college students consisting of the following for a total of $29.99:

    –2 reusable, machine-washable face masks
    –2 oz. hand sanitizer
    –2 pack alcohol wipes
    –one safety door opener (!)
    –2 pairs of nitrile safety gloves.

    The mind boggles at the probability of a campus full college freshmen all carefully using their no-touch door openers.


    1. And, potentially, even more mind boggling to believe that safety/hygiene/distancing will be followed in K-12 schools.

      I still think the sharing of air will be the real problem.


  6. Graham Allison is about twenty years younger than I thought he was. I saw his byline and was surprised that he was still writing.


  7. I don’t know if this is in the thread yet, but TX’s Governor Abbot is being reprimanded by a handful of county-level Republicans:

    There are also problems with enforcement of the statewide mask order (which counties with a low number of COVID cases are allowed to opt out of):

    “In Montgomery County, which has a population of over 600,000 and has reported more than 2,700 coronavirus cases so far, the sheriff’s office said July 3 that it would not take action on the mask rule.” “This order includes specific language prohibiting law enforcement from detaining, arresting, or confining to jail as a means to enforce the order,” the agency wrote in a press release. “This language strips law enforcement of the necessary tools to enforce compliance with the law.””

    That’s hard to argue with.

    “The press release added that the department would only respond to calls about violations of the order if they are from an “authorized supervisor representative of the business” that is reporting a person who refuses to leave the property.”

    That seems reasonable.

    “In a statement the next day, Gillespie County Sheriff Buddy Mills made a similar declaration. He also said his deputies would not be required to wear face masks on duty because it could put them at a disadvantage during a physical confrontation. Citing recent protests over police brutality, he said he wanted the deputies to be able to clearly communicate their intentions when interacting with citizens.”

    That’s also hard to argue with. I know we’ve all probably had recent experiences with muffled communication, and the police would be especially anxious to be able to communicate clearly.

    I continue to see high-90s mask compliance locally, but I really only go to the grocery store.


    1. The police used bullhorns at all the demonstrations I’ve attended. Unfortunately a lot had black tape over their badges. Ugh.


  8. I am so worried. I was hoping that the positives wouldn’t go up in the most populous states and then I was hoping that the hospitalizations wouldn’t go up and then I was hoping that the deaths wouldn’t go up. But, they are all going up. I’m estimating a 5 week lag after the positives go up to deaths. Really hard for people to make all the connections. Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California look really bad and other places are seeing increases that are problematic unless we see a turn.

    Ed Yong (science writer, The Atlantic) was on Christiane Amanpour saying that he has no confidence that the US, which failed to acquire and distribute adequate protective gear for health care workers will manage the logistics of a vaccine. What then? Those who are hunkering down again (LA & San Diego announced remote instruction for the fall). We just can’t do this forever.


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