Ezra Klein's Entire Debate Strategy in Three Words

[TLDR: Pivot and Gaslight]

I listened to Waking Up Podcast #123 — Identity & Honesty | Sam Harris and I can't recommend it unless you want to hear two people talking past one another.

I did not know Ezra Klein very well head of listening to this podcast but I found him to be smug and evasive... and also well-rehearsed.  He barely answered anything directly but was really quick pivot and make his own tangentially related point.  And I was impressed with how little it costs to say how he just talked to so-and-so just a couple days ago any time a name was mentioned. 

Instant credibility!

Overall, I was bothered on a subconscious level by his manner of engagement and it took me a while understand the nature of the crime... to fully grasp that his entire tactic can be analogized to the following:

"I'm not an alcoholic!  If anything, you're the alcoholic!"
(me: but I don't even drink!)

Sam says Klein is operating from a notion of identity politics?  Klein says Sam is also operating on identity politics.

And... It's a pretty slick maneuver to be able to smear Murray as a racist and then to tell Sam Harris that he has a blind spot because he's an "Anti-Anti-Racist".  Seriously... WTF is that?  A false dichotomy, I think.

gas·light

/ˈɡaslīt/

verb

manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

Harris would do well not to invite gaslighters like Klein onto the show and I fully support him choosing not to talk to T. Coates for exactly the same reasons.  You can only hope to talk past a gaslighter because playing by their rules is a no-win situation.  (Heads, racist... Tails anti-anti-racist).

America Needs A Vision, Not A 12-Step Program for Racism

I found this post linked on another friend's Facebook page: Charlottesville UVA White Nationalist Rally Proves America Is Racist. Like many articles from a leftist perspective, it refers to America's fundamental character as racist.

This country was built on systemic racism
It's comforting to insist that racial hatred is not who Americans are...
So yes, racism absolutely is American...
We have a president with a long and clear history of racism: His family company was once investigated for refusing to rent property to black Americans.

The article is a condemnation of America as such on the basis that racists exist in America.  True but not particularly convincing.

It also indicates the election of president Trump as some kind of compelling evidence as if the election wasn't a reduction of the lesser of two very bad choices.  I feel the need to remind everyone that he was running against Clinton, one of the least electable and most polarizing "most-qualified" candidates the Democratic party has ever put forth.  

Sorry, I'm still not convinced that America was racist when we had two very bad choices.

Declaring America racist is a sort of declaration that the racists have already won and that we just have to admit it so that we can start to change like so many delusional alcoholics.  But only white people have to admit it apparently because they're the only delusional alcoholics.  

They need "Racists Anonymous".  The rest of us can just carry on.

Racist by What Measure?

What does it take to qualify?  An act of racism?  A dozen?  A single statue?

I don't have any criteria on which I can draw a line between a country that is racist and one that is not.  I suspect that means this is a meaningless concept designed to foist guilt and shame upon all of the people in the country until we all capitulate and submit to our Politically Correct Overseers.  Sorry, not all of us... just "white people".

Here's what I know.  The Declaration of Independence, America's philosophical document, makes to mention of an ethno-state.  It is not an identitarian document.

It declares that all mankind is equal endowed with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  There is nothing racist about it.  

What Federal, State, and Local governments do should always be held to this standard.  And the LEFT are as guilty as the RIGHT when it comes to giving up the core principles of the United States.

If the leftists want to call America Racist, they also have to accept their part of the blame for letting government run rampant in flagrant disregard to America's original principles.

None of these actions which disregard the principles diminishes the truth of them.  They are mere bits of dirt and disease in a long-lived organism with an immune system.

Mental Hygiene, An Individual Process

The article clearly thinks that delusional alcoholic racists (whites) need to confess their racism.  It's like some kind of weird alcoholics anonymous thing where in order to give up your addiction you have to confess your helplessness to it.  I don't get how that helps personally.

Here's what I see.  

Racism is a symptom sickness of the mind, but it's not the disease.  The core disease is irrationality: ideas that don't comport with reality.   Unless you're a doctor or a scientist making a study of disease, you don't make disease your primary focus.  For most of us, we merely focus on how to keep our health, which is to say, how to incorporate hygiene into our lives.

To make avoiding disease our primary focus is to give it undue attention.  The focus of every human being should be to organize one's own thinking and life so that one can thrive.

As pertains to healthy thinking, the analogy to hygiene is exact.  A good mental practice leads to clean thinking and a lack of practice leads to unclear thinking: mistaken notions, bad logic, and ideas that do not comport with reality (such as racism or any kind of supremacism).

There is no racial input into mental hygiene.  Every person of every race has to figure this out or pay the price, which is to act from bad ideas that don't comport with reality.

There is no way to prevent a person who is unwilling to be responsible for his/her own thinking from holding bad ideas.  The final arbiter is each person him or herself.  And thus, individual responsibility is a fundamental moral requirement of mental hygiene.

Vision vs. Virtue Signaling 

Here's the bottom line.  

Calling America Racist isn't going to change my behavior (or the behavior of anyone who is already rational) because I'm already doing the hard work of clear thinking.  (And, in any case, as I'm not white, the article already excluded me.)

Calling America Racist won't affect the actions of any supremacists (no matter what the color or ethnicity) because they are not moved by reason or facts as far as I can tell.  And they will certainly not be moved by poorly supported arguments of the wrong variety.

So let's be real okay?   The only thing the author of the cited article is achieving by calling America Racist is virtue signaling.  Like masturbating, virtue signaling is designed to feel good without achieving very much.

Dear Author: Grow the fuck up.

Wanna lead America to a better place?  Start with a vision that stands for all time like the principles in the Declaration for Independence.


This is America: All of mankind is equal under the law, endowed with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments are instituted among men to protect these rights.

Observations on Resentment

This morning after reading a vague emotional post by a woman who has decided to write off white women...

Two friends and I set up a rule — no more white women for 2017. We are not accepting friend requests online or in real life. We don’t have the energy required to vet people and then wait for the other shoe to drop.

Can't help but muse that people who truly develop self-esteem can't get this upset by not being seen by others. People who establish good boundaries are not subject to surprises by who she thought other people were.

You cannot base your self-esteem on accidents of your birth. Your race. Your height. How good looking you think you are.

Neither can you base your self-esteem on your relationships. The people who try this always end up resentful and bitter. (And, apparently, more than a bit racist.)

I suspect the most important thing to your self esteem that you can do is to look at the world and decide what you're going to try to be. Then do it. Then check in and ask yourself how it's going.

It is my prediction that people who are intentional and rational harbor fewer resentments toward others. There are probably fewer incidents of misplaced trust as well. When you begin with the idea that no one else owes you anything, every kindness is a gift rather than an expectation. The people in whom you take pleasure are enjoyable for their own sake for as long as those interactions last.

What is the relationship between expectation and resentment? What is the relationship between ideas about moral duty and expectation? How is it that people you barely know can "betray" you so badly you are "waiting for shoes to drop"? What would happen if you just accepted people the way that they were and interacted more with the ones you sincerely enjoy without trying to change the ones you enjoy less?

These are all questions of attitude. And they are worth muddling through for a person who seeks to understand themselves and spend more time acting out of self-worthiness than resentment of others.

That's a worthy goal isn't it? To spend more time acting out of your self-worthiness. Sounds good, anyway.

Choose: A Joint Search for Mutually Satisfactory Solutions OR A War of Wills and Ego

However you might feel about the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and the larger movement, I think we can widely agree that "no parent should ever have to explain to their kids how to talk to the police so that they don't become an innocent victim someday".

If we put together all of the people that agree with that assessment, it is my opinion that we would have a clear majority in America.

Yet, much of the language that I see in the discussion of this is expressed in the language of a war of wills. Those-of-us-who-do chant the hashtag will continue to do so defiantly until those-of-us-who-do-not all give in. Or something...

We don't really know what the end game is. We don't know why we're arguing. All we know is we are labelling more and more people racist. (Once upon a time you actually had to do something against someone to be racist. Now all you have to do is take a nuanced position.)

I'll hazard a guess on the endgame if we continue down that road. A war of wills turns into a war of ego. No one likes to give in and they remember it in resentment when they do. (Yes, this is nearly verbatim from "Getting Past No." Wisdom doesn't have to be original... just true.)

The time for a program of awareness has come and gone. The people who care to be aware have overwhelming evidence that something strange is going on and it's going to be hard work to change it. The time is now ripe for a shift from awareness toward the joint search for mutually satisfactory solutions.

We need ideas. Specific ones. Ones that condemn neither Black Americans or Police Officers as being inherently wrong or at fault. Ones that don't attack white people for having been born white. Ones that don't condemn people who mean well but aren't sure what to do.

Condemning is cheap, lazy, and seductive. Do you have it within you to propose instead?

With specific proposals, we can leverage that majority that I think exists. We can name specific action. We can lead.

None of us chose this situation. No human being would. But it is in the nature of life as human that we must rise to take responsibility for things that are "not our fault".