Open Thread and Link Farm, Creepy Face Swap Edition

Happy end of 2017, everybody!

  1. High School Is Too Late to Start Teaching Consent to Kids – Rewire
  2. Emergency rooms are monopolies. Patients pay the price.  – Vox
    ER “fees rose 89 percent between 2009 and 2015 — rising twice as fast as the price of outpatient health care, and four times as fast as overall health care spending.”
  3. An ex-cop from Arizona was acquitted for shooting an unarmed, sobbing man – Vox
  4. After Trent Franks, men worry if asking subordinates to bear their child is still okay – The Washington Post
  5. Focus group with Alabama voters who are sticking by Roy Moore (HBO) – YouTube
    This was from before the election, but I think still interesting slash horrifying.
  6. Trump Protesters Facing Felonies Say U.S. Wants To Criminalize The First Amendment | HuffPost
    “The government would have you believe that everyone, the hundreds of people in that section, are breaking the law simply because they didn’t get up and leave.”
  7. Letters of Note: To My Old Master
    “Jourdon’s 1865 reply to the person who enslaved his family, dictated from his home on August 7th, is everything you could wish for.”
  8. Obsessing over the deficit could further imperil those whom the tax bill leaves worst off.
    “In this interview, Stephanie Kelton, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University and former economic advisor to Bernie Sanders, explains why.”
  9. “Chain migration,” and why Donald Trump wants to end it, explained – Vox
  10. The Insane Plan to Give North Korea a ‘Bloody Nose’ | The American Conservative
  11. A Nashville Man Spent Two Decades Behind Bars. Now The Government Wants Him To Go Back. | Nashville Public Radio
    He was let out early by the Obama administration’s initiative to reduce the sentences of people in prison for crack, and by all accounts he is now a model citizen.
  12. Stash House Stings: When the Government Can Invent Crimes and Criminals | Cato @ Liberty
  13. Police Officers Should Be Trained in De-Escalation. It Works.
  14. A Pill to Make Exercise Obsolete | The New Yorker
  15. Are Soas students right to ‘decolonise’ their minds from western philosophers? | Education | The Guardian
  16. Yacob and Amo: Africa’s precursors to Locke, Hume and Kant | Aeon Essays
  17. Professors say they won’t advise students to work or study at U of Rochester
    Due to dissatisfaction with how Rochester’s administration protected a professor who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple graduate students and professors.
  18. How the discovery of extraterrestrial life would change morality | Aeon Essays
  19. Research suggests that increased pornography reduces rape – TUOC
    I think this is interesting. However, the argument that this research proves that porn reduces rape is treating correlation as causation. It could also be the case that the social changes that cause a society to decriminalize porn, also cause a reduction in rape.
  20. And after I wrote the above, I read this post in which a TUOC reader makes a similar argument (but better).
  21. ‘The Shed at Dulwich’ was London’s top-rated restaurant. Just one problem: It didn’t exist. – The Washington Post
  22. Proposed New Jersey Legislation Could Extend Voting Rights to Convicted Criminals | Observer
    If this becomes law, then NY will become the third state in which currently-incarcerated felons can vote (the other two are Maine and Vermont).
  23. Comment on “The Age of Outrage” by Jonathan Haidt – joftius – Medium
  24. Law Reviews reexamine prison gerrymandering case law | Prison Gerrymandering Project
  25. Wilfrid Laurier Exonerates Lindsay Shepherd, We Can All Move On Now – VICE
    What happened to Shepherd seems inexcusable – especially lying about student complaints when there had been none. Also, I don’t agree with the “move on now” message of the headline, exactly; this specific incident is being put to bed, but there are larger issues involved.
  26. Interesting graph of single motherhood rates and crime rates from Philip Cohen.
    The two trends, which once appeared to be moving in tandem, have seemingly diverged completely.

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66 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Creepy Face Swap Edition

  1. 1
    Michael says:

    Ok, I’m going to try and be calmer this time. In response to number#4, I’d like to reply with a link of my own:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-09/thinking-the-unthinkable-living-with-pure-obsessional-ocd/6829340
    “Rose Bretécher was 15 when she first started experiencing intrusive, repetitive thoughts that she might be a paedophile.”
    “It seemed preposterous and unjust that these thoughts were being experienced by so many millions of people and so few of them felt able to talk about it,” she says.”
    I suppose that the authors of this article might argue that they don’t mean to shame teenagers like Rose into silence. But it’s exactly the same reasoning “If you say you’re afraid you might do it, then you really do want to do it or have done it”
    If you tell people they should shame people who claim to be afraid of sexually harassing people because they’re not really hurting but merely using it as an excuse to discredit feminists, they’re going to shame EVERYONE who expresses a fear of hurting people sexually- unless you word your request VERY carefully. (And yes, I know that fear of people with violent or sexual OCD predates feminism. I’m just saying feminism isn’t helping.)

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Michael, it seems to me that you’re conflating two things that aren’t the same.

    There’s no hint in the article that either Ms. Bretecher or any of the other Pure O patients quoted ever had confusion over if it would be wrong (for example) for an adult to try to have sex with a child. They aren’t going “who can tell if it’s wrong or not?” or complaining that child protection norms and laws have made things just too confusing. They’re not saying that norms against paedophilia have made it feel like no one’s allowed to hug a child anymore. Etc, etc..

    Nor are they implying that the world would be improved if people speaking out against child molestation either shut up entirely, or altered their rhetoric to make “don’t make anyone with a Pure O fixation on being a paedophile feel bad” a more central concern.

    So I think it’s a bad analogy/conflation.

    P.S. Thanks for being calmer.

  3. 3
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#2-“They’re not saying that norms against paedophilia have made it feel like no one’s allowed to hug a child anymore.”
    From a list of symptoms:
    http://www.ocd-therapy.com/the-most-repugnant-of-repugnant-thoughts-pedophile-ocd-or-pocd/
    “Fears that you may have accidentally or unintentionally sexually abused a child (“did I change her diaper wrong?” “did I inadvertently rub up against that boy as he walked by?”)”
    And some people with OCD DO worry if they’ve done something sexual to adults without consent:
    https://childmind.org/article/ocd-sexual-obsessions/
    “Or a child might worry that he has done or will do something sexual without consent. This can be something as small as worrying that he has offended a peer by inadvertently brushing against her in a crowded hallway. Or he might be plagued with worrying that he might commit rape. He might have zero desire to actually commit rape, but the possibility that he might is terrifying to him. ”
    Do you really think that the average person can tell the difference between someone worrying about having brushed against a girl and the people the article is making fun of?

  4. 4
    Sebastian H says:

    The decolonization of philosophy quotes are almost laughable. This one especially struck me. “Do we need to be particularly critical of white philosophers, I asked Hawthorne. Yes, she replied, because “whiteness has been engaged in perpetuating forms of oppression and marginalisation and exclusion”. Does she think that all European philosophy is tainted by racism and colonialism? “Yes. There’s plenty of evidence to demonstrate this.””

    This seems like a particularly bad case of letting racialization take over everything. If you don’t know that the largest strains of Chinese philosophy perpetuated (and continue to perpetuate) oppression and marginalization and exclusion, you may be doing it wrong. The same goes for Islamic philosophers and India based ones (especially India).

    If your project is to deal with how philosophy is used to perpetuate oppression, focusing on getting other non white skin colors into the discussion isn’t going to help you unless you aggressively get rid of all the non white philosophers whose philosophy helped perpetuate oppression (and that’s going to be almost all of them). And if you’re doing that project you might as well make that the target and leave people’s skin color out of it.

  5. In the event anyone is paying attention to the unrest in Iran, this is a thoughtful and wise take: https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5a492f23e4b06d1621b9a019

  6. 6
    Ben Lehman says:

    Sebastian H:

    That would be true if philosophy programs studied non-Western philosophers to any significant extent. They don’t.

    The racist narratives inside academic philosophy are white and western, simply because the philosophers that they study are also white* and western*.

    If academic philosophy programs studied Mencius, they’d also have to study the ways that Mencius has been used to support Chinese colonialism and imperialism. But they don’t, so they don’t.

    Similarly, since academic philosophy programs study Bentham, they should study how Bentham worked to uphold British imperialism.

    –Ben

    * presented as and assumed to be. This gets very messy with anyone born before 1600 and particularly with the Greeks and Romans.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    @ 7:

    SO much classier than saying “Fuck off and die”, but with much the same intent.

    @25:

    Damn right there are larger issues involved. The only reason this all came out and the actions of the people who summoned her to a hearing exposed was that Ms. Shepherd had the foresight and wit to record the meeting. It seems to me likely that many other TA’s will want to avoid the entire issue so as to make sure they don’t have to go through all that. Unless, of course, some actual punishment – say, firing – is accorded to the people who put her through this.

    @9:

    Let’s say that the premise that opponents of chain migration want to control which cultures people who immigrate into the U.S. come from is correct. What’s wrong with that? Are there not cultures in the world that are quite incompatible with American culture? Is there some obligation to incorporate people from as many different cultures as possible into the U.S.? And, given that we live in a democracy, is there a majority desire to do so; and, if not, should not their representatives reflect the majority wishes?

  8. 8
    Harlequin says:

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Happy New Year!

    Ron, the question of controlling which cultures immigrate into the US, and on what basis that choice is made, is something that can be discussed.

    But it’s hard to have a discussion with people who are being deceptive. And the “chain migration” rhetoric (and that graphic) we’ve been seeing from leading Republicans – implying that family visas will lead to an ever-multiplying flood of new immigrants for every one immigrant let in – is deceptive.

  10. 10
    Ben David says:

    Thanks for the link about chain immigration.

    However, the articles I have read on the other side indicate that most green cards are awarded based on family ties – or an incredible lottery system – rather than skills or other qualifications.

    The Vox article assures the reader that family immigrants go through the same security screening as others, but does not clarify the relative weight given to the family ties vs. desired skills and other criteria.

    Still not sure what is really happening.

    And those face maps are super-creepy.

  11. 11
    Sebastian H says:

    Happy New Year!!! May we all have MUCH better ones!

    Ben Lehman, I guess I get hung up (perhaps too much) when someone uses divisive categorizations that turn out on inspection not to be required. So when someone says that we need to be particularly critical of ‘white philosophers’ there should be something particularly about the whiteness of ‘white philosophers’ that needs to be addressed. But all of the things mentioned are just characteristics of most major [no adjective needed] philosophers. There is nothing ‘white’ about philosophizing in a way which supports colonizing, (see a huge majority of the important Chinese, Indian and Islamic philosophers) racializing/exclusion (OMG especially Chinese philosophers and Indian philosophers), and marginalization (see especially a huge fraction of important Indian philosophers). If you want to talk about addressing how philosophy intersects (and often supports) colonization/racializing/exclusion/marginalization, you can and should do that. But framing it as white philosophers vs. [implicitly virtuous brown people philosophers] is completely unnecessary AND it supports the completely wrong suggestion that ‘brown people philosophers’ are better about colonization/racializing/exclusion/marginalization.

    Speaking of unnecessary racialization how about how this sentence starts “But of the major European philosophers that often dominate reading lists – such as Plato, Aristotle…” Plato and Aristotle both STRONGLY influenced Islamic and Egyptian philosophical currents and I would have sworn that there were Indian crosscurrents as well though I for the life of me can’t track that down easily right now. Locating them in the ‘whiteness’ strand or “European” as if B.C. Greece was more obviously grouped with Sweden than Egypt is just weird. If your concerns are philosophical support for things like colonization and marginalization, the only major philosopher of the typical canon who probably needs to have ‘whiteness’ directly addressed as a separate thing is Heidegger.

    I guess I’m worn down by the constant barrage of human observations that get unnecessarily framed in divisive ways. “Philosophers often make arguments which support oppression and colonization” is EXACTLY as true a statement as “White philosophers often make arguments which support oppression and colonization” is EXACTLY as true a statement as “Chinese philosophers often make arguments which support oppression and colonization”. Which to be fair to philosophers is really a lot more nuanced than just “support oppression and colonization” in most cases.

    There really are cases where the adjective “white” can do useful work, just as there really are cases where the adjective “black” can do useful work. But they are already nasty and divisive enough categorizations that we shouldn’t throw them around as an intensifier when they aren’t needed.

    Again, maybe it is just a tic that I should get over.

  12. 12
    Sebastian H says:

    Re 25, isn’t the fact that there “No formal complaint, nor informal concern relative to a Laurier policy, was registered about the screening of the video.” a problem since this non-complaint and non-concern still got Lindsay Shepherd brought into a three professor meeting to castigate her over it and the triggered Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy investigation. (Which by the way the reporting seems totally unclear on, and the President’s open letter doesn’t help me understand. If there was demonstrably no formal complaint and no informal concern, how did she get brought into the meeting with her professors and how was the Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy investigation triggered? Is this some lawyerese over ‘complaint’ and ‘concern’?)

    It seems to me that finding that she “did no wrong” does anything but put the thing to rest. It suggests that there is in fact an academic environment (at least at that university) where her actions were sufficient to trigger this whole cascade of institutional dangers to her career which by all appearances were fended off because she taped the craziness and publicized it.

    This goes back to a number of our former conversations about burdens of proof in university settings. In the US, she could have easily been out of a job over this on preponderance of the evidence (51/49% chance evidentiary level) standard or lower–and being ejected from you job over a GSVP-type policy means she would have had a huge obstacle to getting a university job anywhere in the country. But because she taped stuff and publicized it on twitter, she got an independent factfinding investigation that totally cleared her.

  13. 13
    Ben Lehman says:

    Sebastian: What?

    No.

    Again, this is a meaningless point unless and until academic philosophy takes Confucius as seriously as Plato and Zhu Xi as seriously as Descartes. Which will probably happen sometime in the next never. Academic philosophy is overwhelmingly white, and overwhelmingly western in terms of the philosophers studied. Thus, when looking critically at the people that they study, they must look critically at white, western men because there are literally no other people in the academic philosophy canon.

    Saying “but what about those (conspicuously unnamed) Indian philosophers” is a great argument for a world where, unlike this one, academic philosophers have ever studied any Indian philosophy. As it is, it’s a simple and straightforward non-sequitur.

    It is important for academic philosophers to understand that, for instance, the tendency of utilitarian reasoning to result in arguments for genocide isn’t an accident, it’s actually built into the core beliefs of utilitarianism directly, because the goal of utilitarianism in its time was the justify genocide. This is important because academic philosophers make a lot of their arguments based in utilitarian reasoning.

    There’s no particular point in talking about how the goal of Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucianism was providing a justification for the pre-existing imperial order, because there are no academic philosophers who make any of their arguments based in neo-Confucian reasoning.

    –Ben

    P.S. Please give names and examples of the Chinese and Indian philosophers you’re referencing. It’s very hard to follow you otherwise.

  14. 14
    Kate says:

    It seems to me that finding that she “did no wrong” does anything but put the thing to rest. It suggests that there is in fact an academic environment (at least at that university) where her actions were sufficient to trigger this whole cascade of institutional dangers to her career which by all appearances were fended off because she taped the craziness and publicized it.

    Absolutely. Also, Lindsay either has to either continue working with the people who set up the ridiculous kangaroo court, or find new advisors to work with. Either way, her career plans have been totally upended.

    “…being ejected from you job over a GSVP-type policy means she would have had a huge obstacle to getting a university job anywhere in the country. But because she taped stuff and publicized it on twitter, she got an independent factfinding investigation that totally cleared her.”

    I don’t know that publicizing this material and getting cleared is going to be less of an obstacle to getting a university job than being ejected over a GSVP-type policy. I would be very surprised if Lindsay manages to go on to have an academic career.

    I also wonder why they really wanted to do this to her. I find it hard to believe that it is really just about debating this video – particularly since the way she framed it was as a discussion of how the fact that we used gendered pronouns causes controversy. No matter which side of the pronoun debate you’re on, the fact that that debate wouldn’t be happening if we didn’t have gendered pronouns seems to be a pretty simple statement of fact.

  15. 15
    Ben Lehman says:

    Ron:

    Let’s say that the premise that opponents of chain migration want to control which cultures people who immigrate into the U.S. come from is correct.

    Okay.

    What’s wrong with that?

    It’s un-American.

    Are there not cultures in the world that are quite incompatible with American culture?

    In that there are people who will experience a greater or lesser degree of culture shock in American culture, sure. In that immigrants from those cultures pose a danger to Americans or America simply due to their cultural background, no.

    Is there some obligation to incorporate people from as many different cultures as possible into the U.S.?

    Yes. The 14th amendment, for starters.

    And, given that we live in a democracy, is there a majority desire to do so; and, if not, should not their representatives reflect the majority wishes?

    No. This is precisely why we have legal rights and representative governance — they give us protection against mob rule.

  16. 16
    Michael says:

    Scott Aaronson just posted a comment about why we should care about left-wing censorship in academia- it’s comment#42 here:
    https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3608#comments
    Two of his points apply to a lot of arguments in general- we naturally care about issues closer to us and there’s no requirement that everybody focus on the biggest problem in the world.

  17. 17
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Sebastian @12 –

    I don’t have access to any information that you don’t, but based on my reading of the institutional responses and the professor’s apology, I think someone made an informal complaint to the professor, and he massively over-reacted. This is implied by the wording of WL’s official response since the complaint was neither formal (which would have triggered some sort of formal response procedure), nor did it informally bring up any legitimate violation of school policy (since no school policies were violated). Now, I do think it is appropriate for a professor to follow through on an informal complaint about a TA, because ultimately the professor is responsible, as both the mentor and the person in charge of the content of the class, for the TAs actions. But I cannot fathom why he chose to do it in the way he did.

    As for burden of proof – is this any different in an academic environment than in any other professional environment in the US? If a customer at a major retailer goes to the manager and complains that a sales assistant was rude to them, and the manager decides to discipline/fire the sales assistant without an investigation, is that not considered entirely legitimate? I’m not sure why in that sort of culture you’d expect any different from academia.

  18. 18
    Kate says:

    In addition to what Ben said @15

    Are there not cultures in the world that are quite incompatible with American culture?

    People used to say that about Irish, Italians, Jews, Slavs….and so on. The bigots were wrong then, and they are still wrong now. The culture that poses the most danger to American values today is that of our own homegrown, right-wing extremists.

    Is there some obligation to incorporate people from as many different cultures as possible into the U.S.?

    People from oppressive regimes with anti-American values are often precisely those in most need of asylum (and are often privately pro-American). We also have a moral responsibility in parts of the world where U.S. actions contributed to poverty and instability.

  19. 19
    Sebastian H says:

    Ben, “Thus, when looking critically at the people that they study, they must look critically at white, western men because there are literally no other people in the academic philosophy canon.”

    Ok, but is it their whiteness that is the problem? You want to criticize the people in the canon because of the fact that their arguments support whatever it is you want to criticize. But except in very narrow circumstances it isn’t their whiteness that is the issue. It is their support for the things you want to criticize. It is absolutely true that the philosophers in the western canon are very largely white, so if you are criticizing philosophers in the western canon you will be criticizing white men. I don’t have any problem with that. But it isn’t their whiteness that is the problem, so you are just unnecessarily throwing it in as a slur if you focus on that. And if you think it is their whiteness that is the problem, like it was a racial taint or something, that shows its own set of problems–not the least of which is that whoever is making that argument has some sort of unrealistic view of important non-white philosophers.

  20. 20
    Kate says:

    From the piece Michael linked to @ 16

    Having said that, I’m certainly also worried about the erosion of Enlightenment norms within academia, or specific parts of academia: the speakers shouted down rather than debated, the classrooms taken over, the dogmatic postmodernism and blank-slatism, all the stuff Jonathan Haidt reviews in this article. This is a development for which the left, not the right, bears primary responsibility. I view it as a huge unearned gift that the “good guys” give the “bad guys.” It provides them endless outrage-fodder. It stokes their paranoid fantasies while also making us look foolish. And it lets them call us hypocrites, whose prattle about science and reason and free inquiry has been conclusively unmasked. So if Heterodox Academy is making headway against the illiberal wing of liberalism, that does seem like something I should support, regardless of any differences in emphasis.

    I really think that this is a straw man. Of course one can link to dozens of examples of unfair treatment, attempts at censorship, etc. etc. by left-leaning students and academics. One could do that if one turned a spotlight on any group composed of millions of people. Can anyone link to a study that shows a systemic problem (as opposed to anecdotes) with [edited to add such incidens of] left-wing bias in academia as a whole. My overall sense is that you might have an arguement in certain institutions (eg. Berkely) and in certain disciplines (eg. humanities and social sciences). But, I don’t see it at Univeristy of Chicago or Notre Dame. Nor do I see it in the sciences, business schools, law schools, medical schools…in short the vast majority of academia and precisely those areas that are most well funded and which actually might hold some real power outside of academia.

  21. 21
    Petar says:

    There was, once upon, a Japanese philosopher. He had a lot to say about Japanese and Westerners, and subhumans such as Russians, Indians, Chinese, etc. His writings were used to analyze the Marco Polo bridge incident, were cited to justify the invasion of Manchuria, and were very popular with the butchers of Nanking.

    Once his disciples got their just deserts, he was still the subject of study in USSR and China, for obvious reasons, and obviously not in a positive light. But somehow, Western progressives ended up a bit less well educated about him, and celebrated him quite often, despite protests from international students. Having taken part of such a protest in Boston, I am personally familiar with how “non-white means virtuous” is ingrained in some people’s mind.

    Now, I’ve left him unnamed, which I guess will make Ben Lehman take me not so seriously. But it is easy to name him. Go through Alas’ archives, and see how one of the admins here dedicated an article to him, portraying him in a very positive light. Sure, the specific topic is very well regarded by progressives, but to someone from, lets say China, it’s exactly like quoting Mein Kampf when denouncing French colonialism. Probably unintentionally, but possibly not, he used the exact dehumanizing similes and language with regard to Slavs and Han as the defendeds of slavery did vis-à-vis Africans and American Indians.

    So, I’m 100% with Sebastian here. Practically all philosophers come from positions of power. Practically all of them were influenced by their background. Thinking that white philosophers are somehow worse than any others is ignorant. That article was suggesting getting rid of Plato and Descartes, and advancing ibn Rushd in the same breath. It’s mind boggling.

    ابن رشد/Averroès/ibn Rochd de Cordoba/ibn Rushd? Sure, teach the Hell out of him, teach him to the hilt! But do not forget that his side lost at home, do not forget how he is regarded by the majority of Islamists today. To be honest I laughed out loud when I saw that he was listed among the ‘a different philosophy’ picks. In the Eastern Block, he was taught and revered alongside Descartes, and credited for bringing Plato back in the limelight. And yes, he is one of the greatest and one of the last Islamic philosophers, in my personal opinion. Just… I do not know how the West teaches philosophy, but I have trouble believing that he’s missing from “History of Western philosophy”. I’m much more willing to believe that those who would dismiss him as Averroès are the same who would revere him as ابن رشد.

    And finally, for those who want to teach Al-Ghazali rather than Averroes, and Yamazaki Ansai rather than Voltaire and the Heavenly Prince Daowu of Wei rather than Wang Fuzhi, may I say “Fuck you. Over my dead body, and I hope you have the same luck as you had in Covadonga in 922, under Vienna in 1529, and in Manchuria in 1945.”

  22. 22
    Kate says:

    If you tell people they should shame people who claim to be afraid of sexually harassing people because they’re not really hurting but merely using it as an excuse to discredit feminists, they’re going to shame EVERYONE who expresses a fear of hurting people sexually- unless you word your request VERY carefully. (And yes, I know that fear of people with violent or sexual OCD predates feminism. I’m just saying feminism isn’t helping.)

    How would you have people advocating for victims of sexual assault call out likely perpetrators disingenuously claiming that they are confused about where the lines are? Because, you seem to be giving us very little room to do so.
    This is exactly why people on the left developed trigger warnings. Perhaps people with these anxieties may need to avoid these conversations for their mental health, or put them off for times when they have the support to process them constructively.

  23. 23
    Petar says:

    Ampersand, why are my comments constantly marked as spam?

    Flamebait? I’d argue against that, but I would at least understand it.

  24. 24
    Ben Lehman says:

    Sebastian:

    The problems of the philosophical canon are white, male problems because they are written by white, male authors. Thus, for instance, we have to understand that Utilitarianism is authored in the context of, and in support of, British Colonialism.

    This is uniquely a white problem, because British Colonialism was run by white people, for white people, based on the principles of white supremacy.

    In some alternate universe where some other ethnic group had written the entire academic philosophical canon, we would have the problems of whatever historical atrocities that ethnic group had used their philosophy to justify and extend. But we don’t live in that universe, and it’s completely absurd to pretend that we do because you’re upset at the word “white.”

    –Ben

  25. 25
    Sebastian H says:

    Hegemony is not a white problem. Colonialism is not a white problem. Oppression is not a white problem. To assert that it is a white problem is to have some sort “magical brown people” or “pure brown people” fantasy that it not historically accurate.

    You know what culture is super racist? South Korean culture. They aren’t white. You know who else tends to be hugely racist? Japanese people. They aren’t white either, and had a whole philosophical structure to support the hegemonic, racist, and colonial structures that they wanted to build. You know who has a culture that is hugely oppressive to outsiders? Chinese people. They aren’t white. I’m not ‘upset’ at the word “white”. I’m objecting to it as non-descriptive in this context. If you are upset about how philosophies supported structures you don’t like, that’s fine. And if the ones you want to talk about are white because you want to talk about the ones the effect our culture most, that is also fine. But if you are talking about how the ideas of Plato, or Aristotle, or Kant, or Rawls were used to support the existing power structures because they were white, you’re missing the point. They did it because they were human, embedded in the power structures in which they lived and argued for and against it in that context. Chinese philosophers did the same (and weren’t white). Islamic philosophers did the same (and weren’t white). It isn’t a ‘white’ trait you are identifying.

  26. 26
    Michael says:

    @Kate#21- Simple. People with anxiety disorders usually say they don’t know where the lines are and err on the side of caution. Predators usually grab a woman’s butt and say they thought she wanted it. You call people out on the basis of their BEHAVIOR.
    People with anxiety disorders sometimes think they hit someone with their car while driving when they didn’t. Yet detectives don’t either arrest everyone who claims they hit someone with their car or let everyone who claims they hit someone go- they look at the actual EVIDENCE.
    My point is this- claiming that anyone who says that they’re confused about where the lines are is a predator is an example of the prejudice that people with anxiety disorders face. More to the point- it’s dishonest. Some kids with anxiety disorders do worry, for example, that simply accidentally brushing against a girl MIGHT BE sexual harassment. If all they hear is “People who claim they don’t know where the lines are are predators”, then they think they’re predators. But if they know that there are other kids like them with a treatable problem, then they can get help.

  27. 27
    Ben Lehman says:

    Sebastian: You seem to prefer arguing with yourself to reading my comments. Since you’re doing very well without me, I’ll leave you to it.

  28. 28
    Michael says:

    Now about the trigger warnings- avoiding a trigger can be by itself a compulsive act. So no trigger warnings aren’t the answer. Besides, sexual harassment classes are mandatory at many colleges and high schools. And it’s impossible to completely avoid discussions of sexual harassment.
    Nor am I claiming that feminist rhetoric needs to be changed. Anxiety disorders can be triggered by any discussion of morality.
    What I’m saying is this- traditionally society decided to shut up about people with OCD -people with fears of raping or sexually harassing people, intentionally or unintentionally killing people, etc. because it disturbed the normal people. And as a result countless children had to suffer thinking that they were monsters. A few of them killed themselves. But those children were not monsters.
    The idea that anxieties about hurting other people should not be mentioned in public is a toxic belief. But it’s one that articles like #4 reflect.
    I think that what many feminists are really saying is this- “People with such disorders need to be quiet because real predators claim feminism is making them afraid to say hello to a woman.” But that’s just a more sophisticated version of Sartre’s argument that one should not speak of Soviet crimes “pour ne pas désespérer billancourt”. Covering up human suffering is never the right thing to do.

  29. 29
    Ampersand says:

    Now, I’ve left him unnamed, which I guess will make Ben Lehman take me not so seriously. But it is easy to name him. Go through Alas’ archives,

    Wow, is this pointlessly obnoxious (the “I COULD name him but I won’t” bit). I can’t even imagine what you think the point of acting like this is. Please try to behave better.

    Also, I didn’t mark your comment as spam. I have no idea why WordPress marked it as spam, but it sometimes does that. In this case, my GUESS is that it associates non-Roman character sets with spam, but that’s my guess.

    When that happens, just let me know (preferably without the wounded tone), and I’ll search for it in the spam trap and fish it out. (As I did in this case).

    And if I think a comment is too obnoxious to be allowed, I’ll generally send the writer an email to let them know (although if the email address they use here is fake, or is never checked, that does no good).

  30. 30
    Kate says:

    The idea that anxieties about hurting other people should not be mentioned in public is a toxic belief.

    I don’t think these issues shouldn’t be raised in public. I think that they shouldn’t be used to silence people calling out sexual predators.

  31. 31
    desipis says:

    Ben Lehman:

    the goal of utilitarianism in its time was the justify [sic] genocide

    [Citation needed]

  32. 32
    desipis says:

    Kate:

    How would you have people advocating for victims of sexual assault call out likely perpetrators disingenuously claiming that they are confused about where the lines are?

    You have to give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of their own state of mind. By all means point out where someone has cross a line, but without evidence or completely implausible claims, it’s wrong to make claims about malicious intent.

  33. 33
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    Can I just say, I’m not sure it’s true that non-white scholars are ignored in academic philosophy? Here’s a recent article: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/why-are-hundreds-of-harvard-students-studying-ancient-chinese-philosophy/280356/

    You could argue non-western philosophy is deemphasised relative to its objective importance, but it seems wrong to say it is totally ignored.

  34. 34
    Michael says:

    @Kate#30- “I don’t think these issues shouldn’t be raised in public. I think that they shouldn’t be used to silence people calling out sexual predators.”
    I’ve NEVER heard a feminist discuss the problems of people with OCD being afraid of hurting others sexually unless someone else brought it up first.
    People with OCD are the ones being silenced here- most people think of OCD as something out of Monk and not a kid worrying about raping or killing someone.It takes something like 9 years for people with those kinds of OCD to be diagnosed because they’re afraid to tell people.

  35. 35
    RonF says:

    Ben, #15:

    In that immigrants from those cultures pose a danger to Americans or America simply due to their cultural background, no.

    There are cultures in the world that despise homosexuals to the point that they see murdering them offhand as justified; who see women who do not cover themselves from head to toe and who travel without accompaniment from a male relative as targets for rape; who see female sexuality as something to be suppressed surgically by about age 7; who hold Western civilization in contempt and have no intention of assimilating into it. France, Germany and Sweden, among other countries, are already seeing highly negative outcomes from permitting people from such cultures to immigrate freely into their countries. We don’t see it as much because so far we have had far fewer such immigrants come into the U.S. (but even so instances of FGM have been found now in New York City). It’s not clear to me why we should expect a different outcome than other Western countries have seen. Frankly, it seems to me quite contradictory for a community that emphasizes full rights for homosexuals and women to take this position.

    Yes. The 14th amendment, for starters.

    I’ve just re-read it. It talks about the rights of citizens extending to all naturalized or natural-born persons and that no one in it’s jurisdiction can be denied equal protection under the law. Given that people applying for immigration are by definition neither citizens nor in our jurisdiction it’s not at all clear to me how any of that means that the U.S. must open immigration up to people from any cultural background that exists. Can you explain? Can you cite any court decisions supporting this?

    No. This is precisely why we have legal rights and representative governance — they give us protection against mob rule.

    True. I quite agree. In the general case. But what I am looking
    for is a reason why our representatives should not follow the wishes of the majority in this particular case.

  36. 36
    Ampersand says:

    Ron –

    Do you not understand that people from (for example) Iran are actually individuals?

    Vet individuals and turn away people who approve of criminal violence – sure. But what you’re advocating is just bigotry.

    France, Germany and Sweden, among other countries, are already seeing highly negative outcomes from permitting people from such cultures to immigrate freely into their countries.

    Genuine question, because I’ve never looked into this specific question: Would you please suggest to me a link from a MAINSTREAM source that discusses evidence supporting this claim?

  37. 37
    RonF says:

    Kate #18

    People used to say that about Irish, Italians, Jews, Slavs….and so on. The bigots were wrong then, and they are still wrong now.

    Having been born part Irish in a New England town with a lot of Italians in it (some of whom are in my family) I’m aware of the history. In fact, the first ethnic slurs I learned were “mick” and “wop”. Bigots are wrong. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who wants our immigration policies to take the cultural background of applicants for immigration into account is a bigot.

    The culture that poses the most danger to American values today is that of our own homegrown, right-wing extremists.

    I think that right-wing extremists who think that violence is justified against those who do not agree with them pose a danger to American values. I’d say that it’s a far more difficult case to make that they are the most danger to them.

    People from oppressive regimes with anti-American values are often precisely those in most need of asylum (and are often privately pro-American).

    I agree that it is often in their best interests to be admitted into the U.S.; however, the purpose of immigration law is to enforce policies designed to do what’s in the best interest of the U.S., not what’s in the best interests of people who want to come into the U.S. If someone who is suffering oppression wants to come to the U.S. and assimilate into American culture, that’s one thing. Those who are so suffering but are not so willing should be directed elsewhere.

    We also have a moral responsibility in parts of the world where U.S. actions contributed to poverty and instability.

    I can see that, but let’s just say that I don’t think that my judgement of just how much U.S. actions have so contributed would agree with Noam Chomsky’s.

  38. 38
    nobody.really says:

    I largely share RonF’s view that immigration policy is a political question, amenable to a political answer. (While refugee policies are ALSO political questions, I believe the US has entered into treaties in which we make commitments to accept our fair share, so it’s a somewhat different matter.) Similarly, I’m not persuaded that would-be immigrants are covered by the 14th Amendment.

    I believe Amp is justified in arguing that immigration opponents have overstated their objections. And I believe others make justifiable claims that plenty of our current citizens would never have existed if the public had given (greater) vent to their latent racism/chauvinism in limiting past immigration. But those are political arguments, appropriate to addressing a political question.

    That said:

    France, Germany and Sweden, among other countries, are already seeing highly negative outcomes from permitting people from such cultures to immigrate freely into their countries. We don’t see it as much because so far we have had far fewer such immigrants come into the U.S. (but even so instances of FGM have been found now in New York City).

    I disfavor FGM, but I’m not persuaded that we can combat it by barring practitioners from immigrating. To the contrary, if we really wanted to limit FGM, we might want to target immigration specifically toward people who have the greatest propensity to engage in the practice, so as to get them into an environment that would be most likely to discourage it (with, for example, criminal penalties).

  39. 39
    RonF says:

    Sure, I understand that they are individuals. And if there is an effective way of examining their backgrounds prior to admission to the U.S. then fine. But that runs into some issues. Let’s take a professional from a major city in Iran. He gets checked out and admitted. Now he applies to have his nephew admitted.

    Said nephew hails from some village in the hinterlands. There are no records to be had from said village, neither educational nor law enforcement. In fact, there’s not even a way to independently confirm his birth date. How can you vet this guy? If he says that he disapproves of criminal violence, what do we have to go on besides his word?

    Genuine question, because I’ve never looked into this specific question: Would you please suggest to me a link from a MAINSTREAM source that discusses evidence supporting this claim?

    I have to jump into something right now. I’ll get you some links. BTW, what qualifies as a mainstream source? Given that publicizing such is going to neither help discredit Pres. Trump nor elect Democrats I’m not going to be able to find such reports in the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

  40. 40
    Jake Squid says:

    Given that publicizing such is going to neither help discredit Pres. Trump nor elect Democrats I’m not going to be able to find such reports in the New York Times…

    The same NYT that relentlessly hammered Clinton on emails? The same NYT that helped elect Trump? Of course they won’t report on anything that wouldn’t discredit the man they did so much to help during the last general election.

  41. 41
    Petar says:

    Now, I’ve left him unnamed, which I guess will make Ben Lehman take me not so seriously. But it is easy to name him. Go through Alas’ archives,

    Wow, is this pointlessly obnoxious (the “I COULD name him but I won’t” bit). I can’t even imagine what you think the point of acting like this is.

    There are multiple points.

    First, I found “those (conspicuously unnamed) philosophers” pointlessly obnoxious. Any familiarity with Confucianism, Shavaism, Raseśvara will tell you that hierarchy, purity, devotion(al?)ism, etc. are the pillars on which they are built. There is no need to name examples, naming exceptions would be much easier, and I did in the same post. Although those exceptions are very easily linked with Materialism and Marxist Dialectics, which is of course why I am familiar with them. Would Ben rather teach philosophical systems which advocate castes, nationalism, genocide, totalitarianism, etc? Or does he have a pocket full of philosophers whose teachings were never used to justify atrocities? Or maybe he thinks that the slaughters committed by Georgians, Indians, Japanese or Chinese do not tarnish the legacy of the philosophers, because the perpetrators were not white.

    Second, I used this to point out that horrible philosophers have been praised on this very site, and that administrators with backgrounds that should make them familiar with other cultures have been a bit too casual in promoting at least one philosopher who was beloved and co-opted by racists, imperialists, and genocidal war criminals.

    And third, Ampersand, everyone, everywhere snarks. You may agree with Ben Lehman, and think that he is justified in snarking at Sebastian, but I do not. You are the administrator, so your judgement matters, but you have chastised me for doing the exact same thing as Ben did in his last post.

    I honestly do not understand what his prescription is, when it comes to philosophy.

    Stop teaching every male white philosopher? That’s racist and sexist, even if you ignore that Arabs, Greeks, Mauritians, Hui and Slavs are not accepted as white by all.

    Teach only philosophers that are ideologically pure and have never been co-opted by bad people? The only way you will fill a syllabus is by finding a vetting committee that’s either very biased, or very ignorant. I think we have been doing a bang up job at the former already, but if you want to give the latter a go…

    Teach philosophers who outright support castes, who outright label nationalities as subhuman, who have successfully advocated for the genocide of entire ethnicities? Japan, India, China, Turkey, the Philippines, etc. do so. To be honest, I see no problem with that. Ignorance does not help anyone, and educated people should be exposed to those ways of thinking, with the appropriate critique, of course. But then you really should keep teaching Descartes and Rawls, for the same reasons.

    Basically, I do not disagree that things may need looking into, but I find the approach so far racist and ignorant. By the way, it is absolutely laughable that Ibn Rushd is always suggested as someone who should be taught, when Averroism definitely is at MIT (where I went), Claremont McKenna (where my wife teaches) and SOAS (which the linked article was concerned with) He is just referred to as Averroes as opposed to Ibn Rushd. This may be labeled as white supremacist, but I personally prefer to go by Peter rather than have Петър be butchered in a dozen creative ways. Averroes is definitely a butchery, but I have found it the best way to identify whom I mean to a Westerner. On the other hand, in my native Bulgaria, Averroes will get you blank looks, because the Arabic pronunciation is the only one used. That may have something to do with having been under Ottoman control for a while, though.

  42. 42
    Harlequin says:

    RonF:

    Let’s say that the premise that opponents of chain migration want to control which cultures people who immigrate into the U.S. come from is correct.

    From the Vox article:

    Furthermore, because the total number of immigrants coming from a particular country each year is capped, would-be immigrants from Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines end up facing even longer wait times.

    So, in other words, “chain migration” and restricting the country of origin of immigrants are two separate issues. The latter would change the distribution of country of origin for immigrants, the former only changes which people from those countries are eligible to immigrate. If you want to talk about changing the country of origin of immigrants, you need to talk about employment visas in addition to family visas.

    Also, maybe it’s just that I’m just getting old, but I can remember a time in the distant past where RonF liked to tell us that Republicans were only concerned about illegal immigration, and any implications they were against legal immigration was a smear by the left.

  43. 43
    RonF says:

    From The Volokh Conspiracy, a discussion of an interesting new law in California:

    On Monday, January 1st, a new California law will go into effect designed to give undocumented immigrants some protections from federal immigration enforcement. The new law, called the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, includes the following new text:

    (a) Except as otherwise required by federal law, an employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not provide voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter any nonpublic areas of a place of labor. This section does not apply if the immigration enforcement agent provides a judicial warrant. . . .

    (c) This section shall not preclude an employer or person acting on behalf of an employer from taking the immigration enforcement agent to a nonpublic area, where employees are not present, for the purpose of verifying whether the immigration enforcement agent has a judicial warrant, provided no consent to search nonpublic areas is given in the process.

    Because “[t]he authority to control immigration . . . is vested solely in the Federal Government,” Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 42 (1915), California is ordering employers not to consent to federal immigration officers. Under the statute, an employer that voluntarily consents to a federal immigration inspection is subject to a civil fine. Another part of the same new statute enacts a new section of the labor code, Section 90.2, requiring California employers to notify employees ahead of time if federal immigration agents are coming to check employees’ employment eligibility.

    But wait, can a state interfere with federal immigration enforcement like that?

    The rest of the article sums up to “I don’t know, here’s some surrounding context.”

    The State of California believes that it can punish private citizens who voluntarily cooperate with a Federal law enforcement agent. Seems an odd concept to me. Is there a First Amendment violation there? Is there a Supremacy Clause violation there? Some interesting discussion in the comments.

  44. 44
    RonF says:

    Harlequin:

    Also, maybe it’s just that I’m just getting old, but I can remember a time in the distant past where RonF liked to tell us that Republicans were only concerned about illegal immigration, and any implications they were against legal immigration was a smear by the left.

    Actually, what I said in the comment so linked was:

    Being against people entering this country illegally != being against immigration. The conflation of the two in a deliberate fashion by the left is why it’s immorality and dishonesty on this issue is clear to me.

    Which is not the same thing, is it? And being against people entering this country whose culture strongly biases them against American values and who do not appear to be willing to assimilate into them also != being against immigration.

    Now, how the Feds can properly measure such bias and will is a fairly debatable question. But to reiterate, what is there in the 14th Amendment (or elsewhere) that prevents the Federal government from attempting to do so? And why should there be a moral barrier to doing so?

  45. 45
    Ampersand says:

    Petar:

    I didn’t have a problem with the snark against Ben – the ” which I guess will make Ben Lehman take me not so seriously” bit. That was well within ordinary Alas level of snark (which I’d prefer to be lower, frankly, but oh well). That’s why I specified that my objection was to your “I won’t even name who I’m talking about” bullshit – to indicate I was talking about that specifically, not about the snark.

    I know a LOT less about this stuff than you or Ben, and appreciate being able to do things like google who you’re talking about, so I can follow the conversation better. Please write as if you’re actually interested in communicating with me and other people who may not be as educated in this area as you are, instead of writing like your goal is to score points and show off how clever you are. I’m not saying you have to explain every little thing, but refusing to mention the name of the writer you’re talking about isn’t just not explaining as you go along; it’s purposely, gratuitously being obscure.

    Also, the next time you criticize a specific post someone made here, include a link or don’t mention it at all. The next time you want to criticize what a poster here wrote, mention the poster by name or don’t do it at all. This is necessary for basic intellectual accountability.

  46. I don’t know why Petar did not name me as the person who wrote the post he’s referring to. I wrote favorably about some passages in Kakuzo Okakura’s The Book of Tea. I knew nothing else about Okakura but what I’d read in that book. Then Sebastian informed me, and a couple of other people in the thread as well, that Okakura was a fascist.

    (Edited to remove some snark.)

  47. 47
    Ampersand says:

    BTW, what qualifies as a mainstream source? Given that publicizing such is going to neither help discredit Pres. Trump nor elect Democrats I’m not going to be able to find such reports in the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

    You sound like a conspiracy theorist. It’s objectively obvious that all those sources heavily reported on stories that hurt Hilary Clinton (and by hurting Clinton, helped Trump). The Times, for instance, covered the email scandal more than any other story in the last election cycle, including in front-page above-the-fold stories. Why did they cover that story more than any other, if their goal was to help the Democrats?

    But I’d agree that The Wall Street Journal – the news section, not the op-ed section – is a legitimate source. (Do you also consider them part of the conspiracy?) Or even Fox News print (not TV) – again, in a news article, not an op-ed piece. (Surely you don’t consider Fox part of the conspiracy?) Or Foreign Policy.

    [Edited to reduce the snark factor. I apologize, Ron.]

  48. 48
    Sebastian H says:

    Richard, just to be clear, that was a different Sebastian. I commented here in the early 2000s and then stopped for a long while. When I came back I didn’t realize there was another Sebastian, which caused some confusion. Which is why I’m Sebastian H now.

    Ben Lehman you write “You seem to prefer arguing with yourself to reading my comments. Since you’re doing very well without me, I’ll leave you to it.”

    The problem I’m having is that I can’t understand where you think our disagreement is, and since you refuse to explain yourself I have to grope around at what you’re alluding to. You apparently take affront to that which I can’t help if you refuse to articulate where you think we disagree.

    To recap: I’m aware of the fact that most of the philosophers studied in the West are white, and male.

    Most of them also had two eyes, four limbs, a head, limbs, a heart, a brain, a nose, fingers, toes, knees, a spleen, kidneys, fingernails, eyelashes, tendons, mitochondria, DNA, RNA, gut bacteria, and fat cells.

    For the most part, we don’t need to bother listing all of things unless we think it going to add to the discussion in some useful way. In the context of philosophers supporting oppression of out groups, or creating justifications for ‘more civilized people’ to conquer ‘less civilized people’, the adjective ‘white’ does not add anything to the discussion.

    By way of analogy, a lot of the time I see people who disagree with the Supreme Court rulings of Clarence Thomas go out of their way to mention that he is black when that has no bearing on the discussion. The adjective ‘black’ is not germane to why he rules that the commerce clause is more limited than other judges want to. The adjective ‘black’ serves to smuggle in some subtext about him without explicitly identifying it. (I would guess there is some idea that he is a race traitor for being a conservative or something. Or maybe that he is too stupid to be a real Supreme Court Justice–i.e. that he was an affirmative action hire). In any case, most of the time you want to usefully talk a decision by Clarence Thomas, the label “black” is unhelpful. It doesn’t helpfully distinguish why he does things differently than “white” Supreme Court Justices. As far as I’m concerned, ‘race’ is a category that mostly exists to hurt people. As such we shouldn’t contribute to the dynamic of making it more important than it really is. Now, because it is a made up category to hurt people, when it is used to hurt people it ends up being really important. So I’m not saying that if we just stop talking about it everything is fine. But I’m saying we should talk about it only when it is vital to talk about it.

    So back to the philosophers. If we want to talk about how two-eyed philosophers use their arguments to support nasty things we can certainly do that. But we can just say ‘philosophers’ and get the exact same information across.

    The thing about civilizations is that they have often decided to oppress people, and often reached for reasons to conquer people. The Japanese did it, Koreans did it, people in India did it, Europeans have done it, the Incas did it, the Aztecs did it, various Islamic peoples did it, the Chinese did it. There is literally nothing specifically ‘white’ about that. So when shorthand that into ‘white philosophers’, you are introducing a completely unnecessary adjective. Worse you’re introducing it in such a way that strengthens the unnecessary construct of ‘race’.

    If you want to argue that the canon is neglecting important views, just do so. And if those important views come from white or non-white philosophers, so be it. But a lack of brown philosophers does not explain why the canon ends up having arguments that support the idea of oppressing someone who is ‘other’ enough. Non-white philosophers did that all the time.

  49. Thanks for that clarification, Sebastian. Also, this piece on what’s going on in Iran is worth reading: Hard-Liners and Reformers Tapped Iranians’ Ire. Now, Both Are Protest Targets. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/world/middleeast/iran-protests-khamenei.html

  50. 50
    RonF says:

    Well, just as a start here’s a report from Newsweek about how immigrants from mostly failed or failing Middle Eastern and North African states have caused a rise in violent crime in Germany.

    A Germany university found that a 10.4 percent increase in violent crime was linked to an influx of migrants into the country’s southern region.

    The increase in crime took place in 2015 and 2016 at the height of the European migration crisis, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel ignored E.U. rules and allowed an open-door policy for migrants entering the state from war-torn Syria.

  51. Ron,

    There’s no link.

  52. 52
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    @Ron: The conclusion of the study specifically states that the best solution is preventing refugee communities from becoming “criminalised”, not excluding refugees.

  53. 53
    Ampersand says:

    Richard:
    Here’s a link to the Newsweek article I infer Ron was referring to.

    Ron:

    1) That study – despite the obvious ways that a single academic study not even available in English is a minor story – was reported on in mainstream news sources like Reuters, ABC news, AP, the BBC – and, for that matter, Newsweek. Doesn’t this contradict your earlier claim that facts about migrants and crime in Germany, because they “neither help discredit Pres. Trump nor elect Democrats,” would never be reported in the mainstream press?

    More generally, what evidence would make you reconsider your belief (if I understand you correctly) that the mainstream media would never report on legitimate news if that news did not help Democrats and/or hurt Trump?

    2) Unfortunately, the study itself isn’t available in English, that I can find. But more detailed reports mention details that the Newsweek article omitted. First of all, contrary to what you’re arguing, the study found that greater legal acceptance of refugees was correlated with lower likelihood of committing crime.

    …migrants with little hope of being giving asylum in Germany were much more likely to commit violent crime than those from war zones like Syria whose asylum was guaranteed.

    “Anyone who as a war refugee regards their chances of staying in Germany as good, will endeavour not to jeopardise those prospects by criminal offences,” the authors of the study said, quoted by Die Welt newspaper.

    Reuters news agency quoted criminology expert and study author Christian Pfeiffer as saying: “The situation is completely different for those who find out as soon as they arrive that they are totally undesirable here. No chance of working, of staying here.”

    3) The study authors also attributed the difference to demographic factors. The refugees groups with elevated crime levels are disproportionately male and young – which is to say, the group that commits the most crime in virtually all cultures. If you took a group of young white American men and made them flee to a country where they couldn’t immediately be integrated, they’d also have elevated crime levels compared to the general population, because young men everywhere are more likely to commit crimes than a general population.

    4) The researchers also believe that having women in a society mitigates the young-male effect to some degree – and the lack of women means the lack of that mitigation. For this reason, they say their study shows the need for family reunification policies.

    “The lack of women is having a negative impact everywhere,“ says criminologist Pfeiffer. This shortage increases the risk that young men will orient themselves “towards masculinity norms that legitimize violence,“ the study states. Pfeiffer thus considers the idea of family reunification to be “not so dumb.“

    (My own overly-nutshelled take is that this is probably correct, but I don’t believe that this is an essential biological trait of all men; it is, however, a trait of men-in-general, and one that could be mitigated or changed if boys were raised differently.)

    RT (a Russian news source) is not a a news source I’d trust on their own. But their story in this case accords with other news agencies’ stories, and so seems accurate.

    Another problem lies in the fact that refugees and asylum seekers are mostly accommodated in overcrowded shelters, where young men have to spend their time in large groups consisting only of their male peers. Such situation leads to these men being increasingly “guided by the masculinity norms that legitimize violence,” the study found.

    “Women have a civilizing influence,” Pfeiffer said, explaining that the study showed that male refugees who arrive in Germany with a family or at least a wife, a mother or a sister, are much more law-abiding. “The lack of women is having a negative impact everywhere,” he added, calling for enhancing the family reunification process.

    He also advocated for new legislation that would set clear criteria for acquiring citizenship. “That would create a strong incentive for refugees and migrants to take effort to fulfil these citizenship criteria,”

    5) The study authors also attributed part of the rise in reported crime to the greater likelihood of a crime being reported to police if the person who commits the crime is a migrant.

    6) It’s also important to realize that this study isn’t the final word, and other studies have found contrary results. Those studies aren’t the final words, either; but this isn’t climate change. There isn’t a clear-cut scientific consensus yet, as far as I can tell.

  54. 54
    Elusis says:

    I believe also, Amp, that that same study or a similar one concluded that the violent crime being committed was almost entirely *by migrants on other migrants* – in other words, with little opportunity to leave their refugee camps, few if any chances for meaningful work or education, and very few resources stretched among many traumatized people in need in a place where there is very little in terms of resources to help keep social order, the camps create a perfect situation for some residents, largely young males (who themselves are traumatized, recall), to rob, extort, bully/harass, and otherwise harm others in the camps who are more vulnerable. So not only is family reunification important, but more opportunities for work and education, for integration with and inculcation into the larger culture, and for trauma-informed care to help support recovery from the horrors of war.

  55. Thanks, Amp, for the link, and thanks for that very thorough summary and critique of what Ron seemed to be suggesting.

  56. 56
    RonF says:

    I saw a story about Conservative Hispanic Writer Jon Del Arroz Banned from Worldcon Sci-Fi Convention wherein various accusations are made. I read through it. But one always has to ask “What is NOT being said here?” and figured I should ask around here what your take on it is.

  57. 57
    Mandolin says:

    He’s kind of a mini Beale, and has been harassing people a lot, including threats. I think he thinks it’s the best way to get publicity. I mean, he’s not wrong; I wouldn’t know his name if he weren’t being a jerk at people.

    I think most predators know no ideology, really. I think they usually use whatever’s convenient. They parasite onto any community and suck its blood. I could list some “liberal” ones who’ve deservedly lost contracts and positions. Sometimes they get to fly under the radar longer.

    Abusive people will use anything good to be abusive. It’s frustrating and I don’t think there’s any way for social structures to completely insulate against it. We could probably do a better job, though. I know I could.

  58. 58
    Ampersand says:

    To add to what Rachel said, and to forstall some “show me a link!” responses, here are links to two of the things Arroz has done which (I suspect) informed Worldcon’s decision. I’m not claiming these are the worse or the only things; they are just the two things I happened to have links for (because I was reading about this yesterday and haven’t yet closed all the tabs):

    1) JDA is a self-confessed troll – as in, he literally organizes his followers to go harass other science fiction writers.

    2) And he publicly stated his intention to go to a private author-only area of Worldcon with a body cam on so he could record things. Although Arroz said it’s for self-defense, given his past behavior, it seems likely that he’s hoping to get video that can be used out-of-context for harassment purposes.

    How would guests that Arroz has organized harassment campaigns against feel about attending a con that he has a membership at? How comfortable will other authors feel knowing that someone may be videotaping them in private areas hoping to find ammo to use in an politicized internet harassment campaign?

    Even if he had done nothing else at all – and, as Rachel said, he’s done other ugly things – these two things would more than justify disinviting Arroz.

    See also: Adam Troy Castro on the “I’m going to wear a body cam” thing.

  59. 59
    Ampersand says:

    Also, Arroz had a weird interaction with a con in California last year. They switched to a policy of not inviting the same authors as guests every year, so they could have more space for more authors – so, for instance, instead of being invited every year, authors would be invited every three out of four years.

    This is not an unknown or strange policy. For instance, TCAF, a comics con I’ve attended a few times, has a “you can’t have a table here two years in a row” policy, so that more cartoonists can go to TCAF.

    They explained this to Arroz, and told him he’d be invited back in 2018, but not in 2017. He responded by going public, accusing the con of discriminating against him because he’s a conservative, and generally trying to make life as hard for the con organizers as possible.

    Is this the worse thing he’s ever done? No. If I were a con organizer, would this make me hesitate to ever invite Arroz? Hell yes. Is this a reason to take his claims of being discriminated against because he’s a conservative, with a grain of salt? Again, yes.

  60. 60
    Kate says:

    Bigots are wrong. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who wants our immigration policies to take the cultural background of applicants for immigration into account is a bigot.

    I disagree.

    I think that right-wing extremists who think that violence is justified against those who do not agree with them pose a danger to American values. I’d say that it’s a far more difficult case to make that they are the most danger to them.

    I’ve linked to these stats before. Right wing extremists in the U.S. commit more acts of terrorism than any other group. Islamic terrorists have a higher body count, because of a few outlier incidents, like the Pulse nighclub shooting. However, right wing extremists also have the potential to change the system from within through their votes. That makes them more dangerous in a different way.

  61. 61
    desipis says:

    Kate:

    Right wing extremists in the U.S. commit more acts of terrorism than any other group.

    Sure, using these numbers there’s a 2:1 ratio of right-wing terrorists to Islamic terrorists. However, going by population there’s roughly 40:1 ratio of right-wing supporters to Muslims. This means that if you only take these high level statistics into account, Muslims are roughly 20 times more likely to commit terrorist attacks that people with right-wing beliefs.

    Of course, as long as there are practical ways to vet individuals, these sorts of statistics shouldn’t really play much of a role in immigration decisions.

  62. 62
    Harlequin says:

    And being against people entering this country whose culture strongly biases them against American values and who do not appear to be willing to assimilate into them also != being against immigration.

    I think “wanting to reduce immigration that is currently legal” is, indeed, being against immigration (especially when your reduction is based on country-of-origin discrimination). Which is why I guess I was so surprised that you were arguing in its favor, since in the past you’ve been so specific about describing yourself as anti-illegal immigration in particular and not anti-immigration more broadly.

    Also, now we’re revoking decade-plus citizenship from naturalized citizens based on errors made by USCIS. Now, if USCIS had properly checked their fingerprint records, they might not have been granted citizenship in the first place; but also, had they been informed, they might have been able to take steps to mitigate the problem at the time. Still, this is a scary precedent; I’ve been talking to some of my friends who are naturalized citizens and who are frightened, because this means that even gaining citizenship can be taken away from you later–now, if you’re an immigrant here, you can never feel secure.

  63. 63
    Gracchi says:

    @Harlequin

    That is a relative, rather than an objective definition, though. So such a statement is only valid in a specific context and such a statement can become invalid if the world changes, but the person doesn’t.

    For example, if one believes that X is the right amount of migration and migration changes from more than X to less than X, the person would become pro-immigration by your definition, despite never changing their preferences.

  64. 64
    Ben Lehman says:

    I wrote this in response to Elusis’s comment on the White Lies thread, but it’s really a tangent so I’m going to stick it in the open thread:

    It’s worth noting that just because there are people who use tone as a red herring does not mean that tone is meaningless. It seems reasonable — even likely — that there are groups of unreasonable people who are put off by various tones of communication and groups of reasonable people who are also put off by various tones of communication.

    To take an example where I’m on the receiving end of the prejudice, let’s imagine two example tones of communication about anti-Semitism, one aggressive “you fucking ignorant shithead” and one conciliatory “I understand that you might not have meant that, but you’re invoking some very old anti-semitic tropes…”

    In a given discussant population, I think it’s not unreasonable to expect that the following groups will all exist:

    1) Unpersuadable anti-Semites, which is to say, anti-Semites who are not going to be convinced by the discussion under any circumstances.
    1a) Unpersuadable anti-Semites who are attracted to discussions with conciliatory tone, which they take for weakness.
    1b) Unpersuadable anti-Semites who are attracted to discussions with aggressive tone, which they take as invitation to cruelty.
    1c) Unpersuadable anti-Semites who just simply do not care about the tone.

    2) Persuadable anti-Semites, which is to say, people who hold some anti-Semitic beliefs but whose anti-Semitic beliefs but those beliefs may be shifted by the discussion.
    2a) Persuadable anti-Semites who are further entrenched by an aggressive tone, and/or somewhat persuaded by a conciliatory one.
    2b) Persuadable anti-Semites who are further entrenched by a conciliatory tone, and/or somewhat jostled by an aggressive one.
    2c) As above, don’t care about tone.

    3) Alienatable allies, who are generally not anti-Semites but can be alienated from the cause of Jewish rights by being treated poorly.
    3a) Alienatable allies who will be put off by an aggressive tone, or entrenched and affirmed by a conciliatory one.
    3b) Alienatable allies who will be put off by a conciliatory tone, and/or entrenched or affirmed by a aggressive one. (This category seems weird but I posit it definitely does exist in small numbers — largely in the form of people who are kept in line by fear of being called out, and to a lesser degree people who are deeply attached to the “angry minority” role and insist that minorities continue to play that for their entertainment.)
    3c) As above, don’t care about tone.

    4) Jews and staunch allies, who are not going to have their minds changed by this conversation, but might not participate in it.
    4a) Those of us who are more likely to participate in a conversation that has a conciliatory tone or generally respectful one, and/or made uncomfortable or upset by an aggressive one.
    4b) Those of us who are more likely to participate in a conversation that has an aggressive or hostile tone, and/or made uncomfortable or upset by an aggressive one.
    4c) Those of us who don’t care about tone.

    It seems reasonable to me that, for a public audience, all of these groups exist in various forms.

    It seems to me that the claim that tone simply doesn’t matter ignores the existence of most of these groups (particularly 2a, 2b, 3a, and 3b, but even unpersuadable people count — ideally we’d like to have as few conversations with unpersuadable anti-Semites as possible, and of course our own participation and emotional state is also important.)

    When we try to justify our behavior with “tone doesn’t matter,” there is an impulse to write off persuadable enemies as hopeless, and alienatable allies as “fake allies.” But I don’t think either of these things is true. And I think writing off any potentially persuadable people as insincere and thus worthless is a bad road. Ultimately, as a minority group in a democracy*, our well-being depends the good will of others, which is going to include a lot of people who are somewhat on the fence about us.

    Which groups you care to approach, which groups are more common in the audience of the current discussion, what approaches you feel morally able to take, all of these things also matter when thinking about what tone to write in.

    I’m not trying to make a claim that a specific tone is necessary — I actually think it’s extremely contextual and complex, and I’m not going to offer a blanket judgement about one way always being superior. But to say tone doesn’t matter, simply because some unpersuadable people invoke tone insincerely, seems deeply misguided.

    * This is not to imply that minority groups have it better in non-democratic systems. In that case, we generally rely on the goodwill of a particular ruler, which has historically a far worse track record than democracy.

  65. 65
    Sebastian H says:

    “When we try to justify our behavior with “tone doesn’t matter,” there is an impulse to write off persuadable enemies as hopeless, and alienatable allies as “fake allies.” But I don’t think either of these things is true. And I think writing off any potentially persuadable people as insincere and thus worthless is a bad road. Ultimately, as a minority group in a democracy*, our well-being depends the good will of others, which is going to include a lot of people who are somewhat on the fence about us. ”

    Yes, I think this is exactly right. Being right is almost never enough by itself.

  66. 66
    Harlequin says:

    That is a relative, rather than an objective definition, though. So such a statement is only valid in a specific context and such a statement can become invalid if the world changes, but the person doesn’t.

    Yes, that was intentional. The conversation we’re having here about immigration is in the context of modern US politics; if that context changes, the labels ought to change, too. If public opinion changed enough that we increased immigration by a factor of ten, I think it would be representative of reality for a person who favored the old immigration numbers to be anti-legal immigration as it existed in that society, just as favoring current immigration numbers would become radical if US opinion shifted far enough that we closed the borders. (I mean, those shifts would be gradual or contested or both–I’m speaking of a time far enough removed from the change that things have settled into a new status quo.) For sure, the most anti-immigrant position would be closed borders, and the most pro-immigrant completely open borders and perhaps aid for new immigrants; but I think it’s appropriate to tie the crossover point to current opinion and practice.

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