Category Archive 'Niceness'

24 May 2018

Screw Nice

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When Yale President Peter Salovey caves again to some irrational demand from SJW Snowflakes, he doesn’t give in because he believes their position is correct. He surrenders because resisting would not be nice.

The Left has weaponized Niceness and routinely intimidates everyone with the threat of being excluded from the circle of the Nice People.

Thales has had it with Niceness.

Popularity and the desire to be liked are at the center of our contemporary political disasters. One of the general rules of rhetoric I’ve observed is a tendency for the nicest opinion to be preferred to the not-nice, all other things being equal. If, for instance, I were to say that most poor people in America are poor due to bad choices, and another were to say that most people in America were poor due to no fault of their own, the latter is more palatable. It is nicer. And since it is nicer, it is generally preferred by popular opinion irrespective of whether or not it is actually correct.

Socially, it is easier to lay blame on “the system” or some other non-entity than to lay blame on specific individuals. It’s not your fault, it’s the patriarchy! It’s the racists, the sexists, the privileged, the heteronormative system of oppression. Whatever. The specific ephemeral system is not important. What is important is that it is easier to lay blame there, than on the person, especially if the individual in question is yourself.

For example, it is easier to blame white racism for the problems of the black community than to blame the black community itself, irrespective of which explanation (if either) is true. So when a debate breaks out, those who want to stick white racism with the blame have the home field advantage, so to speak. An opponent will have to win by enough to outweigh the rhetorical preference for nice.

This disease has infested our thinking to such a great degree that pacifism is generally accounted as morally superior to self-defense. It is better to die yourself, than to harm the criminal, because harming the criminal would not be nice.

Whether we consciously know it or not, this thinking is everywhere, and at some level all people are aware of it. Watch almost any political debate and you will notice the person espousing a “not-nice” opinion will invariably be apologetic; after all, he is quite sorry that his opinion isn’t as nice as his opponent’s. He doesn’t want the spectators (the real arbiters of debate) to think he’s a big meanie.

Note also that the debate opponent with the “nicer” opinion will generally be quite ruthless and cruel to the not-nice debater. After all, since his opinion is not nice, it is permissible to treat him like shit in order to change his opinion into the nice. Furthermore, it exposes his not-niceness for the spectators to see, this winning the debate for the nice. This shows us that this form of rhetorical niceness is conditional. Do not harm the criminal who breaks into your house, but feel free to punch Rightists, because their not-niceness proves they are all Nazis.

This ties into Weaponized Empathy; the notion that your own good nature and desire to be seen as righteous can be turned against you with one sad picture, with one sob story. What, you don’t want to push granny off a cliff, right?

RTWT

29 Jul 2013

America the Nice

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Jay Nordlinger, in one of the most enthusiastically fulsome reviews I’ve ever read, quotes one of the characters in Mark Helprin’s new novel In Sunlight and in Shadow making a post-WWII prediction.

Humankind, or at least American-kind, will lose its edge as we produce more and more pipsqueaks and everyone gets nice. Whole generations of pipsqueaks will be so f***ing nice you won’t be able to tell a man from a woman. It will get worse and worse as people mistake nice for good. Hitler was nice, supposedly, most of the time. A lot of good that did. Luxury and prosperity breed pipsqueaks. A century from now the country won’t even be able to defend itself.”

19 Sep 2011

Ivy League Meritocracy and Niceness

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There has been a fair amount of comment in certain alumni circles about the latest Ivy League kerfuffle: Harvard University’s effort, at the beginning of this year’s Fall Term, to “encourage” freshmen to sign a kindness pledge.

Harvard’s new initiative provoked some serious criticism noting that students were likely to feel pressured to sign (as a copy of the pledge with each student’s name and a space for a signature was placed hanging in each entryway), but Harvard then apologized and retreated (being so nice, after all).

Not surprisingly, the incident produced a good deal of coverage, and some mockery.

Ross Douthat
(who attended the little school in Cambridge) responded to Virginia Postrel’s reaction in Bloomberg by explaining that there is a bit more to elite Ivy League nicey-goodiness than may be recognized by outsiders not fully acquainted with the culture and patterns of expression of this particular tribe.

[There is an] element of ruthlessness that runs through the culture of elite colleges, and… the prevailing spirit of deference and niceness is a defense mechanism and a facade — a kind of ritualized politesse, like the elaborate bowing and flowery compliments of a 17th century European court, that conceals the vaulting ambitions and furious rivalries that actually predominate on campus. (The essential ruthlessness of the meritocracy was one of the themes of my own subsequent attempt to distill the culture of elite education.) Which is why I appreciated how Postrel’s column finishes up.

    Harvard is the strongest brand in American higher education, and its identity is clear. As its students recognize, Harvard represents success. But, it seems, Harvard feels guilty about that identity and wishes it could instead (or also) represent “compassion.” These two qualities have a lot in common. They both depend on other people, either to validate success or serve as objects of compassion. And neither is intellectual.

Rochefoucauld observed that hypocrisy was the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

I suppose it would be fair to say that constant poses of kindness and compassion are the tribute, these days, that the excessively ambitious and success-obsessed pay to failure.

“My board scores and grades were infinitely better than yours. I’m going to Harvard and on to a prominent bank or law firm and seven figures annually. But I will support plenty of welfare entitlement programs for you losers down in the bad neighborhood.”

Hat tip to Frank A. Dobbs.


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