From Saturday Night Live: Three scientists (Scarlett Johansson, Kyle Mooney, Mikey Day) receive a shock when they debut their invention, a machine that translates for pets.
Class Warfare, Community of Fashion, Liberal Tolerance, Politics, Red State vs. Blue State, Tribalism
Scott Alexander reflects on American tribalism and the paradoxes of contemporary liberal tolerance.
The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: â€œMaster, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Tolerance Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?â€
Bodhidharma answers: â€œNone at allâ€.
The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why not.
Bodhidharma asks: â€œWell, what do you think of gay people?â€
The Emperor answers: â€œWhat do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!â€
And Bodhidharma answers: â€œThus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!â€…
Freud spoke of the narcissism of small differences, saying that â€œit is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each otherâ€. Nazis and German Jews. Northern Irish Protestants and Northern Irish Catholics. Hutus and Tutsis. South African whites and South African blacks. Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Anyone in the former Yugoslavia and anyone else in the former Yugoslavia.
So what makes an outgroup? Proximity plus small differences. If you want to know who someone in former Yugoslavia hates, donâ€™t look at the Indonesians or the Zulus or the Tibetans or anyone else distant and exotic. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are youâ€™ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward. …
The people who are actually into this sort of thing sketch out a bunch of speculative tribes and subtribes, but to make it easier, let me stick with two and a half.
The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting â€œUSA IS NUMBER ONE!!!â€, and listening to country music.
The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to â€œeverything except countryâ€.
(There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football â€œsportsballâ€, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk â€“ but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time)
I think these â€œtribesâ€ will turn out to be even stronger categories than politics. Harvard might skew 80-20 in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans, 90-10 in terms of liberals vs. conservatives, but maybe 99-1 in terms of Blues vs. Reds. …
The worst reaction Iâ€™ve ever gotten to a blog post was when I wrote about the death of Osama bin Laden. Iâ€™ve written all sorts of stuff about race and gender and politics and whatever, but that was the worst.
I didnâ€™t come out and say I was happy he was dead. But some people interpreted it that way, and there followed a bunch of comments and emails and Facebook messages about how could I possibly be happy about the death of another human being, even if he was a bad person? Everyone, even Osama, is a human being, and we should never rejoice in the death of a fellow man. One commenter came out and said:
Iâ€™m surprised at your reaction. As far as people I casually stalk on the internet (ie, LJ and Facebook), you are the first out of the â€œintelligent, reasoned and thoughtfulâ€ group to be uncomplicatedly happy about this development and not to be, say, disgusted at the reactions of the other 90% or so.
This commenter was right. Of the â€œintelligent, reasoned, and thoughtfulâ€ people I knew, the overwhelming emotion was conspicuous disgust that other people could be happy about his death. I hastily backtracked and said I wasnâ€™t happy per se, just surprised and relieved that all of this was finally behind us.
And I genuinely believed that day that I had found some unexpected good in people â€“ that everyone I knew was so humane and compassionate that they were unable to rejoice even in the death of someone who hated them and everything they stood for.
Then a few years later, Margaret Thatcher died. And on my Facebook wall â€“ made of these same â€œintelligent, reasoned, and thoughtfulâ€ people â€“ the most common response was to quote some portion of the song â€œDing Dong, The Witch Is Deadâ€. Another popular response was to link the videos of British people spontaneously throwing parties in the street, with comments like â€œI wish I was there so I could join inâ€. From this exact same group of people, not a single expression of disgust or a â€œcâ€™mon, guys, weâ€™re all human beings here.â€
I gently pointed this out at the time, and mostly got a bunch of â€œyeah, so what?â€, combined with links to an article claiming that â€œthe demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figureâ€™s death is not just misguided but dangerousâ€.
And that was when something clicked for me. …
[M]y hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if youâ€™re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isnâ€™t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists â€“ itâ€™s the Red Tribe. …
One of the best-known examples of racism is the â€œGuess Whoâ€™s Coming To Dinnerâ€ scenario where parents are scandalized about their child marrying someone of a different race. Pew has done some good work on this and found that only 23% of conservatives and 1% (!) of liberals admit they would be upset in this situation. But Pew also asked how parents would feel about their child marrying someone of a different political party. Now 30% of conservatives and 23% of liberals would get upset. Average them out, and you go from 12% upsetness rate for race to 27% upsetness rate for party â€“ more than double. Yeah, people do lie to pollsters, but a picture is starting to come together here.
(Harvard, by the way, is a tossup. There are more black students â€“ 11.5% â€“ than conservative students â€“ 10% â€“ but there are more conservative faculty than black faculty.)…
There was a big brouhaha a couple of years ago when, as it first became apparent Obama had a good shot at the Presidency, Michelle Obama said that â€œfor the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.â€
Republicans pounced on the comment, asking why she hadnâ€™t felt proud before, and she backtracked saying of course she was proud all the time and she loves America with the burning fury of a million suns and she was just saying that the Obama campaign was particularly inspiring.
As unconvincing denials go, this one was pretty far up there. But no one really held it against her. Probably most Obama voters felt vaguely the same way. I was an Obama voter, and I have proud memories of spending my Fourth of Julys as a kid debunking peopleâ€™s heartfelt emotions of patriotism. Aaron Sorkin:
[What makes America the greatest country in the world?] Itâ€™s not the greatest country in the world! Weâ€™re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, No. 4 in labor force, and No. 4 in exports. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I donâ€™t know what the f*** youâ€™re talking about.
(Another good retort is â€œWeâ€™re number one? Sure â€“ number one in incarceration rates, drone strikes, and making new parents go back to work!â€)
All of this is true, of course. But itâ€™s weird that itâ€™s such a classic interest of members of the Blue Tribe, and members of the Red Tribe never seem to bring it up.
(â€œWeâ€™re number one? Sure â€“ number one in levels of sexual degeneracy! Well, I guess probably number two, after the Netherlands, but theyâ€™re really small and shouldnâ€™t count.â€)
My hunch â€“ both the Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe, for whatever reason, identify â€œAmericaâ€ with the Red Tribe. Ask people for typically â€œAmericanâ€ things, and you end up with a very Red list of characteristics â€“ guns, religion, barbecues, American football, NASCAR, cowboys, SUVs, unrestrained capitalism.
That means the Red Tribe feels intensely patriotic about â€œtheirâ€ country, and the Blue Tribe feels like theyâ€™re living in fortified enclaves deep in hostile territory.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.
Rebecca Roache, Research Fellow and Senior Research Associate at Oxford, was moved to anger by the Conservative victory in the recent British election.
One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends â€˜likeâ€™ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends â€˜likeâ€™ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if itâ€™s just online. …
[T]he view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party thatâ€”in the name of austerityâ€”withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt than every Labour government combined, that wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and (via the TTIP) hand sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big businessâ€”to express oneâ€™s support for a political party that does these things is as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are not simply misguided views like any other; views that we can hope to change through reasoned debate (although we can try to do that). They are offensive views. They are views that lose you friends and respectâ€”and the fact that they are socially unacceptable views helps discourage people from holding (or at least expressing) them, even where reasoned debate fails. Sometimes the stick is more effective than the carrot.
For these reasons, Iâ€™m tired of reasoned debate about politicsâ€”at least for a day or two. I donâ€™t want to be friends with racists, sexists, or homophobes. And I donâ€™t want to be friends with Conservatives either.
Jonah Goldberg takes a poke at the myth of liberal tolerance.
There is a notion out there that being â€œsocially liberalâ€ means youâ€™re a libertarian at heart, a live-and-let-live sort of person who says â€œwhatever floats your boatâ€ a lot.
Alleged proof for this amusing myth (or pernicious lie; take your pick) comes in the form of liberal support for gay marriage and abortion rights, and opposition to a few things that smack of what some people call â€œtraditional values.â€
The evidence disproving this adorable story of live-and-let-live liberalism comes in the form of pretty much everything else liberals say, do, and believe.
Social liberalism is the foremost, predominant, and in many instances sole impulse for zealous regulation in this country, particularly in big cities. I love it when liberals complain about a ridiculous bit of PC nanny-statism coming out of New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., Seattle, etc. â€” â€œWhat will they do next?â€
Uh, sorry to tell you, but you are â€œthey.â€ Outside of a Law and Order script â€” or an equally implausible MSNBC diatribe about who ruined Detroit â€” conservatives have as much influence on big-city liberalism as the Knights of Malta do.
Seriously, who else do people think are behind efforts to ban big sodas or sue hairdressers for charging women more than men? Who harasses little kids for making toy guns out of sticks, Pop Tarts, or their own fingers? Who wants to regulate the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the beverages you drink? Who wants to control your thermostat? Take your guns? Your cigarettes? Heck, your candy cigarettes? Whoâ€™s in favor of speech codes on campuses and â€œhate crimeâ€ laws everywhere? Whoâ€™s in favor of free speech when it comes to taxpayer-subsidized â€œartâ€ and pornography (so long as you use a condom, if liberals get their way) but then bang their spoons on their high chairs for strict regulations when it comes to political speech? Who loves meddling, finger-wagging billionaires like Michael Bloomberg when they use state power and taxpayer money to herd, bully, and nudge people but thinks billionaires like the Koch brothers who want to shrink government are the root of all tyranny?
At the national level, who bypassed Congress to empower the EPA to regulate the atmosphere? Oh, and who pushed Obamacare on a country that didnâ€™t want it? Who defends bending the entire country â€” including religious institutions â€” into a national health-care scheme dedicated to the proposition of live and let live so long as you live the way the Department of Health and Human Services says you should?
Did legislative and bureaucratic gremlins sneak into government buildings at night and pass all of these rules and regulations while the social-liberal free-thinkers were off not judging people and refusing to harsh anybodyâ€™s mellow?
Sure, todayâ€™s liberalism does carry within it some genetic lineage to the classical liberalism â€” i.e., libertarianism â€” of J. S. Mill and John Locke. But genetic ties are overrated. After all, humans share half of our genes with bananas.
Read the whole thing.
Mark Steyn comments on some of the recent national manifestations of liberal tolerance.
Liberals take the same view as the proprietors of the Dar al-Islam: Once they hold this land, they hold it forever. Notwithstanding that those who give to the foundation are specifically giving to support breast-cancer research, Komen could not be permitted to get away with disrespecting Big Abortion. We donâ€™t want to return to the bad old days of the back alley, when a poor vulnerable person who made the mistake of stepping out of line had to be forced into the shadows and have the realities explained to them with a tire iron. Now Big Liberalismâ€™s enforcers do it on the front pages with the panjandrums of tolerance and diversity cheering them all the way. In the wake of Komenâ€™s decision, the Yale School of Public Health told the Washington Postâ€™s Sarah Kliff that its invitation to Nancy Brinker to be its commencement speaker was now â€œunder careful review.â€ Because God forbid anybody doing a masterâ€™s program at an Ivy League institution should be exposed to anyone not in full 100 percent compliance with liberal orthodoxy.
2008 Election, Liberal Tolerance, New York, The Elect, The Intelligentsia, The Left, Upper West Side
The People’s Cube documents the reaction of Manhattan Upper West Siders to the passage of a McCain Campaign march through a local street fair.
The number of middle fingers in a “progressive” crowd is directly proportional to the number of PhD degrees in the ten block radius.
via Rusty Shackleford.