Wealthy, White, and Divisive: the Elite on Left AND Right Are Tearing Us Apart

We now know a lot more about the polarization spiral and who is driving it. The Hidden Tribes study, published in 2018 by the UK-based group More In Common, surveyed 8,000 Americans in December 2017 and used a statistical technique to identify groups of people who had similar core beliefs. They found seven groups. The one furthest to the right they labeled the “Devoted Conservatives.” This group makes up 6% of the population. Its members are “deeply engaged with politics” and hold “strident, uncompromising views.” Devoted conservatives see themselves as the last defenders of traditional values that are under threat from the far left. This group was clearly overrepresented in the attack on the US Capitol in January 2021.The group furthest to the left were the “Progressive Activists.” This group, which makes up 8% of the population, is “highly sensitive to issues of fairness and equity, particularly with regards to race, gender and other minority group identities.” Progressive Activists talk frequently about “power structures” and how they cause and maintain inequality. They are the most active of all groups on social media. This group is clearly overrepresented in campus protests

Source: Haidt and Lukianoff: The Polarization Spiral – by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff – Persuasion

The Religion that is ‘Woke Racism’

McWhorter reminds us that, of the many professional “defenestrations” that occurred in 2020, most were carried out over Slack or Zoom, where empathy-producing mirror neurons (activated when being physically present with someone) were unavailable. Technological mediums have a way of rewiring our psyches to meet their demands: books give us bookish minds, just as television encourages us to see things televisually. It’s not surprising then, that activism inside the hive-mind of social media, which incentivizes performance and attention (virality), will invariably lead to mob justice.


“One of the pillars of third wave anti-racism is consequentialism—the idea that, because impact supersedes intent, it doesn’t matter what was meant by a statement or action, what matters is how it is received. This is common to both DiAngelo’s self-policing prescriptions and Kendi’s definition of racism, which shifts its focus from perpetrator to victim. At first, this seems like a useful re-definition that relieves us of the need to interrogate one another’s souls. But the consequentialist model is slippery. Rather than deriving claims from available evidence, modern anti-racism affirms a priori conclusions (that people are inherently racist, and that all unequal outcomes have racist origins) and then demands that the evidence be made to support them.”

Source: ‘Woke Racism’—A Review

Nature / nurture

The distinction between nature and nurture seems as impossible to justify as it is to let go. It rarely holds up in controversial cases but we keep appealing to it anyway.

Nature-nurture suggests something of the old distinction between nature and art, though Aristotle divided them primarily so that  what we knew about art could illumine things that arose from nature. We, however, don’t want art to illumine nature but to be sharply contrasted to it out of a determinist account of nature that makes it the irresistible or “hard-wired” in opposition to the social or chosen area of causes under our control. The older distinction between nature and art didn’t see nature in this determinist way nor did it see free choices – even for God – as entirely independent from the determined or necessary.

In the face of what we want to say about nature (as opposed to nurture) Aristotle and his tradition would have just spoken of a hexis or a disposition differing from other dispositions by its relative fixity. Latin Aristotelianism called this a habitus, which is within calling distance of the English habit, though a habitus includes any stable disposition to some activity, e.g. rocks have the habitus of falling, falcons of flying, drunks to drinking, extroverts to positive feelings, etc. The stability of the habit is its relevant note and not the principle of the habit in nature or nurture. Oddly, this stability seems to be what we’re driving at in the “nature-nurture” distinction, though it would be clearer and more exact for us to stop trying end the trial of nature v. nurture and just speak of a habitus. What we call a sexual orientation, for example, is clearly a habitus while the question of its principle in nature or nurture is probably both unanswerable and not-universal. In general, any habitus could also be our identity.

But if all we can agree on is that something is a habitus this leaves it an open question whether it is good or bad, which is, one supposes, what we really want to talk about in the first place.


Source: Nature / nurture | Just Thomism

And Then, There’s Free Speech for Me and Not Thee as well…

It is important that we maintain content neutral approaches to such free speech controversies. We have previously discussed the concern that academics are allowed (correctly) to voice extreme views on social justice and police misconduct, but that there is less tolerance for the voicing of opposing views on such subjects.  There were analogous controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of such a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There was also such an incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor. Some intolerant statements against students are deemed free speech while others are deemed hate speech or the basis for university action. There is a lack of consistency or uniformity in these actions which turn on the specific groups left aggrieved by out-of-school comments.  There is also a tolerance of faculty and students tearing down fliers and stopping the speech of conservatives.  Indeed, even faculty who assaulted pro-life advocates was supported by faculty and lionized for her activism.

Source: Texas History Professor Fired For Criticizing Mike Pence Files First Amendment Challenge – JONATHAN TURLEY

Free Speech for Thee but Not For Me?

We have previously discussed the worrisome signs of a rising generation of censors in the country as leaders and writers embrace censorship and blacklisting.  New polls show that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech.  Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence. A prior poll shows roughly half of the public supporting not just corporate censorship but government censorship of anything deemed “misinformation.”


Source: Christopher Newport Professor Under Fire Over Her Criticism of Superman’s New Identity as a Bisexual – JONATHAN TURLEY

EEOC Updates Guidance On Religious Objections To COVID Vaccine

L.2. Does an employer have to accept an employee’s assertion of a religious objection to a COVID-19 vaccination at face value?  May the employer ask for additional information? (10/25/21)

Generally, under Title VII, an employer should assume that a request for religious accommodation is based on sincerely held religious beliefs.  However, if an employer has an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, the employer would be justified in making a limited factual inquiry and seeking additional supporting information.  An employee who fails to cooperate with an employer’s reasonable request for verification of the sincerity or religious nature of a professed belief risks losing any subsequent claim that the employer improperly denied an accommodation.  See generally Section 12-IV.A.2: Religious Discrimination.

The definition of “religion” under Title VII protects nontraditional religious beliefs that may be unfamiliar to employers.  While the employer should not assume that a request is invalid simply because it is based on unfamiliar religious beliefs, employees may be asked to explain the religious nature of their belief and should not assume that the employer already knows or understands it.  By contrast, Title VII does not protect social, political, or economic views, or personal preferences.  Section 12-I.A.1: Religious Discrimination (definition of religion).  Thus, objections to COVID-19 vaccination that are based on social, political, or personal preferences, or on nonreligious concerns about the possible effects of the vaccine, do not qualify as “religious beliefs” under Title VII.

The sincerity of an employee’s stated religious beliefs also is not usually in dispute.  The employee’s sincerity in holding a religious belief is “largely a matter of individual credibility.”  Section 12-I.A.2: Religious Discrimination (credibility and sincerity).  Factors that – either alone or in combination – might undermine an employee’s credibility include:  whether the employee has acted in a manner inconsistent with the professed belief (although employees need not be scrupulous in their observance); whether the accommodation sought is a particularly desirable benefit that is likely to be sought for nonreligious reasons; whether the timing of the request renders it suspect (e.g., it follows an earlier request by the employee for the same benefit for secular reasons); and whether the employer otherwise has reason to believe the accommodation is not sought for religious reasons.

The employer may ask for an explanation of how the employee’s religious belief conflicts with the employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.  Although prior inconsistent conduct is relevant to the question of sincerity, an individual’s beliefs – or degree of adherence – may change over time and, therefore, an employee’s newly adopted or inconsistently observed practices may nevertheless be sincerely held.  An employer should not assume that an employee is insincere simply because some of the employee’s practices deviate from the commonly followed tenets of the employee’s religion, or because the employee adheres to some common practices but not others.  No one factor or consideration is determinative, and employers should evaluate religious objections on an individual basis.

When an employee’s objection to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement is not religious in nature, or is not sincerely held, Title VII does not require the employer to provide an exception to the vaccination requirement as a religious accommodation.


Source: What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Attacking the Man or the Symbol?

It’s no coincidence that former Council member (now Assemblyman) Charles Barron, who began the campaign to remove the Jefferson statue twenty years ago, is among the most antisemitic figures in city politics. An ally of the New Black Panther Party, Barron has asserted that the “real” Semites are black and accused Israel of “genocide.” Even if he’s not targeting Levy specifically, Barron is an undisguised enemy of the pluralistic patriotism that Jefferson articulated and Levy did so much to promote. Barron doesn’t want the statue moved, “contextualized” or supplemented by other likenesses. He wants it destroyed.

The question for Assemblyman Barron and everyone else who made removal of the statue their cause celèbre is: By destroying the statue, do you mean to attack the man or the symbol? Do you mean to attack his slave-holding, or his striving for a free and democratic republic? Sometimes, it’s hard to be sure.

Jefferson’s far from the first statue to fall, and it won’t be the last. But the plaster and bronze of which they’re composed isn’t the most important thing. What matters is the fate of the ideas in that Declaration in Jefferson’s hand. The ones that Lincoln described as “an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times,” and “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” That’s what Uriah Levy saw in Jefferson and what we should continue to honor today.


Source: What We Lose When We Lose Thomas Jefferson – by Samuel Goldman – Common Sense with Bari Weiss

Moral Triviality for the “Win”?

There are a lot of problems on the international stage these days and what the State Department decided to highlight today does not exactly inspire confidence they are up to the challenge.

Since today is allegedly International Pronouns Day and the State Department tweeted, “we share why many people list pronouns on their email and social media profiles” with a link from the agency’s “platform for communicating compelling stories that spark discussion & debate on important topics about U.S. policy and culture.”

Read more here: ‘Is This a Joke?’: What the State Department Is Focused on Today Amid Multiple Crises

What Is Courage?


From Bari Weiss:

Courage means, first off, the unqualified rejection of lies. Do not speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. And do not genially accept the lies told to you. If possible, be vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. Courage can be contagious, and your example may serve as a means of transmission.

When you’re told that traits such as industriousness and punctuality are the legacy of white supremacy, don’t hesitate to reject it. When you’re told that statues of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are offensive, explain that they are national heroes. When you’re told that “nothing has changed” in this country for minorities, don’t dishonor the memory of civil-rights pioneers by agreeing. And when you’re told that America was founded in order to perpetuate slavery, don’t take part in rewriting the country’s history.

America is imperfect. I always knew it, as we all do—and the past few years have rocked my faith like no others in my lifetime. But America and we Americans are far from irredeemable.

Read the rest: We Got Here Because of Cowardice. We Get Out With Courage

Transgender’s Connection with Pornography

I am a parent of female child who has Rapid Onset of Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). This is a new phenomenon where a child, who was perfectly happy in his or her body until right around puberty, suddenly announces that he or she is the opposite sex. In the case of my daughter, when she developed this condition, she threw away all of her feminine clothes, cut her hair super short, refused to go out in public without a chest binder and stopped shaving her legs. And, of course, she came up with a new male-sounding name and insisted that everyone use it, along with the associated male pronouns.

With ROGD, from the parent perspective, the change is abrupt and without warning – thus the term “rapid”—but that term is somewhat deceiving.  ROGD doesn’t quite pop up out of nowhere despite how it might initially appear, nor does the body incongruence of gender dysphoria spring up organically as the gender ideologues proclaim. It is not something that the ROGD child always felt. And the trans identity is not something that child determines on her own.  Rather, it is carefully manufactured and cultivated on the internet and in peer groups, like a tended-to plant. The pretty pot is placed out; the dirt is added; the seeds are implanted; water is carefully poured; and the pot is placed in the sunshine, so that it can grow stronger and bigger until, eventually, and tragically, the child who was happy in her body is no longer recognizable, and not just by sight. Her personality changes to be sullen, combative and disengaged. She is no longer jovial or interested in much of anything unless it related to being trans.

Read more: Transgender’s Connection with Pornography: It’s Undeniable – Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT)