The Story is That We’re Ignoring the Story

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There’s a throwaway line in Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X, wherein two FBI agents who’ve been wiretapping the titular character, and are listening to him have a heartfelt conversation on the phone with his wife. One of the agents says to the other “compared to King, this guy’s a monk.”

That movie came out in 1992. Which means that, in 1992, the awareness that Martin Luther King was not a saint behind closed doors was already sufficiently out of the bag that it could be referenced in a major Hollywood film – for which the lead was nominated for an Oscar – and it would be assumed that the viewing audience would get it.

But that was 1992. In 2019, we pretend this information does not exist, and we attack the messenger naive enough to bring it to our attention.

Now, what is alleged in the article in the Spectator goes beyond mere extramarital shenanigans to include orgies and in one instance, cheering on a forcible rape. It’s lurid and sickening.

And before I go any further, let us stipulate that the article might not be true. Since the tapes themselves won’t be released until 2027, we won’t know until then whether the notes used to source the article are reflective of reality. Given that the FBI did not cover itself in glory in its treatment of King, there may indeed have been some goosing-up of the material in the notes to keep J. Edgar Hoover happy.

But then again, it might be true. The question is, what do we do about it?

We could, acknowledge the fact that those held up as heroes by the world often have feet of clay. We could allow ourselves the awareness that those of great courage are not without their flaws.

Or we could denounce this information as lies and attack the motives of those who speak it. Standard DARVO (Deny, Accuse, Reverse Victim and Offender) procedure. Which would be fine if it came from those with a vested interest in maintaining the cultus of MLK pure and unblemished – progressive policy institutes and black civil rights groups and the like.

But when its the media? That is most instructive. Witness this circle-the-wagons moment by a black feminist professor of history in the New York Times:

The #MeToo movement is the culmination of decades of agitation around the pervasive problems of sexual assault and harassment. Rich and famous sexual predators have been brought down by the courageous stories of women who are finally being believed. In this climate, Mr. Garrow seems to want his own “Me first” spotlight by getting out in front of an unsubstantiated story, but the problem is this: He presumptuously tells his version of stories of women who never themselves acknowledged being victims or survivors. We cannot put the F.B.I.’s words in their mouths and call it justice.

If in 2027 when the full F.B.I. tapes are released there is credible and corroborated evidence that a sexual assault occurred and Dr. King was somehow involved, we will have to confront that relevant and reprehensible information head-on. But we are not there.

Meanwhile, to accept highly suspicious evidence as fact and to dress it up with a litany of salacious anecdotes is to complete the job J. Edgar Hoover failed to do two generations ago, when he dedicated himself to denigrating Dr. King’s life and work. Mr. Garrow’s piece also names numerous black women, most of them dead, who were allegedly Dr. King’s willing romantic partners, delving into their private lives without their consent or any compelling reason. This is as reckless and unethical as the actions of newspaper tabloids that circulate titillating gossip to sell papers.

Everyone got that? If, when the tapes come out, this turns out to be true, then it will be true. But in the meantime, the author is a fame-hunting bastard and this is all salacious gossip.

I feel like an idiot for even asking, but where was all this devotion to truth and evidence, this distinction between non-pretatory and predatory sex, when Brett Kavanaugh was being accused? Oh, that’s right, it didn’t exist, because Brett Kavanaugh is the wrong sort of person. Martin Luther King is a Martyr for the Cause, and therefore entitled to a full and exacting defense.

The Rules are not the Rules when you’re the wrong sort. Everyone who’s the wrong sort needs to absorb this.

Anyone Who Refers to Themselves as Representing a “Community” is an Ass

Is that a Hasty Generalization or a Sweeping one? I lack the data to tell. I also don’t care that it’s illogical.

It’s how I feel, therefore it’s true.

What am I talking about?

This.

Long story, short, an author allowed internet bullies who spoke for the “community” to shame her into not publishing her book. The book in question had yet to be published. Doesn’t matter. It has been seized on, it has been denounced, it has been made to un-exist.

This is how we live now.

But but but, don’t I realize how damaging such a book could be, because it reifies this or doesn’t show proper respect to that? Don’t I realize how this book is Hitler? FOR SHAME.

I don’t care.

I also don’t care if you have claimed, at some point in your life, to speak for a “Community”, and you don’t think that you’re an ass, and you’re offended and you hate me now.

Good.

I’m glad you’re offended.

I’m glad I wrote something that pissed you off.

Welcome to the party, pal.

Because the long slow march of shrieking cretins who have debased every part of our culture has been pissing me off for a while. I haven’t said much about it, because what’s the point? Anyone who genuinely thinks that a fantasy novel which has as a hook the enslavement of magic-users is a thought-crime deserving of rage, anyone who applauds the destruction of art for the sake of their politics, is beyond persuasion. As Joseph Mills put it, a mob has reasons that reason knows nothing of.

But the flip side of that is, it genuinely does not matter if you try to meet them halfway, or if you flip them the bird. It is not possible to avoid being offensive any longer. No matter what you do, you’re going to piss off someone.

So I’m going to.

“Community” is a word used by bullies to give their unexamined premises and tendentious conclusions the false authority of societal need. It is a word utterly ruined, which sickens my heart whenever banally uttered by a smug imbecile. It is verbal diarrhea.

It’s also a pretty funny if preciously self-aware sit-com from the last decade. I still like it, but I don’t watch it much anymore. It’s gone now, and Archer is funnier, anyway.

I speak these words as an aspiring author myself, and I speak them as one who just realized that, if The Sword gets published, I’m going to make people angry.

I can’t predict why, exactly. But I can predict I will.

Because this is the world we live in now.

So I promise this: if no agent or publishing house wants it, I’m going to set up a crowd-funded launch. If someone persuades Indiegogo or whatever site I use to shut me down, I’ll find another one. If I get nowhere that way, I’ll put together the scratch for as big a self-pub launch as I can manage. If the trolls go after me on Amazon, I’ll find another way. I’ll mimeograph the damn thing and pass copies around like samizdata (is that an inapt use of that word? I don’t care).

I will not be stopped.

Because you are evil, and you deserve to have the thing that offends you shoved in your face.

I hope I make you cry.

(Hat Tip to Larry Correia, who, if you think I’m obnoxious, is an order of magnitude rantier and more offensive.)

We Don’t Actually Want Another Civil War

A rare political post that I’m throwing up because it touches upon an area I just finished writing about.

Larry Correia takes the world’s dumbest tweet by a Congressman, and drops a hydrogen bomb of truth on it, and makes the rubble bounce.

Last week a congressman embarrassed himself on Twitter. He got into a debate about gun control, suggested a mandatory buyback—which is basically confiscation with a happy face sticker on it—and when someone told him that they would resist, he said resistance was futile because the government has nukes.

And everybody was like, wait, what?

Not a new statement. Whenever this comes up, proggies love to retort that the armed populace of the US could not possibly resist the U.S. Military. This is, sadly, a meme among them.

It’s dumb for a number of reasons, most obviously the fact that a high school senior today has never known a time when the U.S. Military has not been actively engaged against insurgents in Afghanistan, and by all accounts, we are not getting anywhere. Afghanistan is Vietnam with a lower body count (and according to some authors, we actually made some progress in Vietnam after Westmoreland left in ’68. But whatever):

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Barack Obama launched over five hundred drone strikes during his eight years in office. We’ve used Apaches (that’s the scary looking helicopter in the picture for my peacenik liberal friends), smart bombs, tanks, I don’t know how many thousand s of raids on houses and compounds, all the stuff that the lefty memes say they’re willing to do to crush the gun nut right, and we’ve spent something like 6 trillion dollars on the global war on terror so far.

And yet they’re still fighting.

Extrapolate that to the resources necessary for the U.S. Military to conquer North America, and some 20-30 million (if we go with the low estimates) of gun owners. Keep in mind that it took the better part of a century – from Fallen Timbers to Wounded Knee, for the U.S. Military to take North America from a variety of Indian nations, all of whom stepped out of the Stone Age no sooner than their first encounter with Europeans. I recently went horseback riding with some Blackfeet in Montana, and they told me that until the early 18th century, no Blackfeet had ever seen a horse. The Indians fought back with every weapon they had at their disposal, at a massive disadvantage in population and firepower, and it still took decades to defeat them. And they weren’t even unified. The Apache, Comanche, Iriquois, Dakota, etc., each fought their own individual war against the invader. And they each went down hard.

Oh, but that was when we had an emaciated army, underfunded and undermanned? Sure. But Correia reminds us not to be to sure of that high-tech, all volunteer military, to say nothing of the cops:

The problem with all those advanced weapons systems you don’t understand, but keep sticking onto memes, is guess who builds them, maintains them, and drives them?… Those drones you guys like to go on about, and barely understand? One of the contracts I worked on was maintaining the servers for them. Guess which way most military contractors vote? Duh. Though honestly, if I was still in my Evil Military Industrial Complex job when this went down, I’d just quietly embezzle and funnel millions of DOD dollars to the rebels.

This is what prompted me to come into this, as someone who just finished writing a novel that takes place in the Civil War, especially Sherman’s March: in 1861, the U.S. Military had about 16,000 men and 1,100 commissioned officers. Of those, about 20% defected and joined the Confederacy. Of the 200 West Point graduates who came out of retirement, nearly half joined the Confederacy.

How long did it take to defeat the South again? 4 years. Despite the fact that the North had over double the population, five times the railroads, and virtually all the industrial capacity. Despite the fact that of the southern population, one-third were slaves who were by definition (until the very end) banned from military service. Despite all of that, it took the advanced, industrialized, highly populated section of the country 4 years of bloody conflict to crush the agrarian, thinly populated half. And that was only because at the end those West-Point-trained Southerners honored their commitments to peace. That’s right, that was after four years of conventional warfare. The Confederates didn’t even try a guerrilla insurgency.

So how many current members of the U.S. Military are right-wing enough to have a real problem with firing on civilians in support of the abrogation of the 2nd Amendment? Wanna bet it’s higher than 20%? How many Robert E. Lees join the rebellion this time? How many Apache attack helicopters do they take with them? How many Abrams tanks?

Hell, how many nukes? Do you know where we keep all of our land-based missiles? That’s right: out in flyover country. When I was a kid, the running gag held that if Montana and the Dakotas seceded from the Union, they would instantly be the third-largest nuclear power on earth. I don’t think they have as many missiles now as they did in the 80’s. But they still have some.

How hard would it be for the governors of those states to order their respective National Guards to take over the missile silos? How many guys inside the missile silos would help them do it? And how many cities would they need to wipe out to win the war?

Two. New York and Washington. Game over.

Now, of course, it might not break down like that. War is never as clear in reality as it seems at the outset. But that’s my point. The scenario in which the 1.3 million members of the U.S. Military are going to be able to contain a guerrilla revolt by a group an order of magnitude larger than them, and within the country they draw their logistical support from?

That’s not gonna be over by Christmas.

Mencken and the New Class Conflict

I’ve had Joel Kotkin’s The New Class Conflict on my Kindle Wish List for some time. It’s dovetails with what I have long thought about the actual class structure of America for some time. I was rather pretentiously calling myself a “rebel against my class” back in college.

But I hadn’t yet found that need to hit the 1-Click button until I read the Foreword by Fred Siegel:

From roughly 1916 to 1932 the journalist-intellectual H. L. Mencken set the tone for much of American reporting by way of his thumb-sucking pieces on the American scene, collected in six volumes of his Prejudices. Most of the pieces were written from Mencken’s hometown of Baltimore, and on the unusual occasion when he traveled to observe the scene, as in his “coverage” of the famous Scopes trial, what he wrote was more a reflection of his prejudices than the events observed. Joel Kotkin is the anti-Mencken…

I must confess that I have never enjoyed the so-called Sage of Baltimore as much I have wanted to. If Mencken were not a wit, no one would read him. As it stands, few read him now; they only quote him, out of context, as a capstone to an uncharitable argument. Mencken made charity seem a dastardly, pitiably weak emotion. It is why he ultimately has nothing to say that does not smack of a schoolyard taunt.

Mencken suffered from the journalist’s ailment: a thoroughgoing blindness to anything good in the human heart. To a journalist, everything must be scandalous underneath; everything must be a lie. The Bible has to be a bloated Oriental literary fugue; democracy, a con game, marriage, a siege. That almost everyone considers these notions now and again accounts for a general demand to have them wittily expressed. This Ol’ Henry Louis supplies, with lightly sprinkled learned references to disguise the otherwise pedestrian nature of his remarks. Mencken never gave any insights you could not gain from sharing a bottle of whiskey with a barfly.
In short, sold.

His Imperial Highness Emperor Barack I, the Lightbringer, Has So Ordered

As with Putin, one has to admire the chutzpah.

And expect the Left to argue that this isn’t that big a deal. That the order only applies to those who’ve been here already. That the order only applies to those who meat the “strict conditions” of deportation relief. That deportations have been up. That no one is being granted citizenship.

All of which is true, and none of which matters. The President is here deciding what the law is, and who the law applies to.

He doesn’t get to do that.

He doesn’t get to decide what the law is. He doesn’t get to ignore the divisiveness of the issue and force Congress to act.

He is not the superior of Congress. He is its equal.

Progressives are pretending not to care about this, because Democrat.

In Austin, Apparently Things Aren’t Supposed to Cost Money.

Parks and light rail are made with hope and dreams and the fierce urgency of change, you see.

“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchin Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8500 this year.

“It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings [of “irate homeowners”]. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore.”

Um…

Homer-BlankStare-1

Okay, so…is this how things are supposed to work in your world?

  1. Vote for All the Neat Things
  2. Government builds All the Neat Things, Because it has All the Money
  3. ???????????
  4. TAXES STAY THE SAME!

Perhaps I’m being unfair. The person did say that she doesn’t mind paying taxes, so there’s obviously some awareness of the connection between public projects and the public purse. But the idea that public projects should keep pace with the tax base seems never to have occurred to her.

I should be sympathetic. I really should. This is exactly the result that people on my side of the aisle predict from the Progressive insistence on Having All the Things Now. But I’m not. Because when people on my side of the aisle make that prediction, people in Austin tell us we’re just a bunch of racist patriarchal bitterclinging ungoodthinkers, and that they, the Right Kind of People, know better.

So this silly bint can choke on her property tax bill until she figures out that when she approves a public project, she’s sending a bill to herself.

Why Government Bureaucracies are Un-Fixable

Megan McArdle gets the nature of the problem, in a very sensible article on the VA.

  1. You can’t fire government bureaucrats – especially not en masse, so matter what you do, old patterns re-emerge.
  2. Every “reform” just adds a new set of directives and rules without trimming or significantly changing the old ones.

What that means in plain English is that when you put reforms in place, you can’t just rip out the stuff that’s not working and do something different. What you’re actually reforming is the process, and because many of the current elements of the process are functionally mandated by other government rules, or court rulings, or bits of legislation that your reform effort didn’t amend, you have to layer your reform on top of the system you wanted to reform, rather than in place of it. Many of your reforms simply stack another layer of bureaucracy on top of the bureaucracy that was already causing problems. This is a problem that CEOs don’t face, unless they’re in some heavily regulated business such as banking or oil refining.

Most important, it is easier to change some parts of the system than others, and much easier to give something than to take something away. So it was relatively easy for Barack Obama to tell the VA that they had to do more to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. It seems to have been very hard to change the claims process to make it move faster or to hire more staff to help things move more quickly. The result was an even bigger backlog — and, since the reforms commanded the staff to move more patients, more quickly, the temptation to “juke the stats” to make the waiting lists appear shorter than they were.

So, while fully intending to make the VA work better, the Administration made it even worse.  And to a certain extent, this isn’t Obama’s fault. It’s not a question of having people who care more or are smarter – this is how bureaucracy functions. George W. Bush made a serious effort to make the VA work better, too. It did not.

So if every good-faith effort to fix a bureaucratic system just makes the thing more complex and counterproductive (Hi, No Child Left Behind!), what is to be done?

bureaucracy-cartoon