Untitled, because how do you title profound stupidity?

I love Taki’s Magazine! http://takimag.com/article/white-women-gonna-white/  Their writers are brutally honest, which includes heaping, healthy doses of high fiber satire. But for proof that the very best satire need not come from the critic, but from the writer of self-important drivel, I present the following screed, which is reprinted from the article at the link. My comments in red. The harshest criticism of all came from one Moira Donegan, a profoundly unhappy-looking short-haired white lesbian whose Twitter avatar depicts a woman assaulting a man, because there’s nothing violent or sexist about that. (When you’re on the “good” side, nothing you do can possibly be bad.) Seemingly without having asked a single white woman who voted Republican this election cycle about what motivated her decisions, the close-cropped Sapphite seems certain she knows what makes them tick: “white women would rather choose the racism espoused by the Republican party than join in the moral coalition represented by men of color and other women(what are “other women”? Color? Sex confusion?).There is a battle on for the soul of America, between the peevish, racist cruelty of Trump and his supporters and a vision of inclusion, justice, and decency forwarded by an increasingly diverse coalition on the left(increasing diversity of sanity, or lack of it) Much of that battle is being waged in white women’s hearts, with the left hoping that more and more of them will break with their historical loyalty to white supremacy and embrace a kinder, more sustainable model for the future (like your avatar?)….What is wrong with white women? Why do half of them so consistently vote for Republicans, even as the Republican party morphs into a monstrously ugly organization that is increasingly indistinguishable from a hate group?(i.e. whatever group you belong to) The most likely answer seems to be that white women vote for Republicans for the same reason that white men do: because they are racist.” I couldn’t have said it better if I wanted to satirize her, which is unnecessary, given how well she demonstrates her own idiocy.

However, not to be outdone by the likes of Donegan, comes “a new academic study” (how low the bar is these days) strongly suggests that Hillary Clinton’s defeat during the 2016 election is exacerbating the mental health crisis among college students. Led by University of Miami Professor Heather Claypool, the study sought to determine if the election would impact students’ mental health and well-being. Claypool surveyed 262 students at the school before and after the 2016 election.

Students answered questions such as “I feel meaningless” and “I feel rejected,” as well as questions about their political leanings and — after the election — if they actually voted. Only 166 students had — 70 percent of them voted for Clinton. The results,  published two years later in a peer-reviewed psychology journal, found that students who supported Clinton emotionally struggled with the results of the election. The authors predicted this was likely felt among students across the nation.

“Among Clinton supporters, the more liberal they were, the more they experienced her electoral defeat as personal rejection, reporting less belonging, less meaningful existence, and worsened mood,” reported Claypool. Good, they now have an unprecedented opportunity to grow up, or off themselves. Like they say, “whatever.

Last comes a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune from Penny Peacemaker(?):

“I’m a peacemaker by nature. I identify as a liberal — someone who values not just tolerance, but acceptance; embracing others with love even when I don’t agree with them. Not anymore.

“Like many, I was shocked when a terrible bully became the “leader” of this country. It forced me to do a lot of soul searching. And I realized the rise of Donald Trump is largely my liberal, peacemaking fault. We tried too hard to be nice, civil, understanding and polite. My white privilege lulled me into the false belief that things were better and kindness was key. After two years of this inward reflection and navigating the horrors of the current administration, I freely admit I was dangerously wrong. When human rights and our very environmental well-being are under attack, there is simply no place for civility, olive branches or middle ground. We must be uncompromising when it comes to defending our fellow humans who are under attack. We must speak up and act out to protect those being persecuted. We cannot rest on the laurels of politeness. Resist! Attack!”

“Rest on the laurels of politeness?” How about this: Find someone with whom you disagree, then have a reasoned, factual, give-and-take debate. You might learn something beyond rhetoric.

 

 

Let’s Learn Our Policy Lessons From Television.

I like the newer medical shows on TV: Chicago Med, The Resident and the latest, New Amsterdam, even though it’s also the most political. Notice the absence of Grays Anatomy, which I consider a hookup show in a medical setting. All of my faves do a good job addressing issues in medicine and healthcare policy, and feature a fair amount of depth and complexity in human relations. New Amsterdam takes place in America’s oldest public hospital, inspired by the actual Bellevue Hospital in New York City, the only one in the world capable of treating Ebola patients, prisoners from Rikers Island and the president of the United States all under one roof. In such a setting, the temptation to be political is irresistible.

In the latest episode, the staff is dealing with a “chain transplant”. No, they aren’t transplanting a chain. When a patient needs a transplant, and the organs in question are not available, either from compatible family members or the national transplant registry, it is possible to set up a chain of transplants. In this case, patient #0 needed a liver transplant, and the sister of another transplant patient who was compatible volunteered to donate a part of her liver in exchange for her brother–patient #1–getting a kidney from a compatible donor who needed a part of a lung from the husband of patient 0. In other words, transplant by quid pro quo. The chain was actually six people, half donors and half patients. If any donor backed out, the chain would collapse. Needless to say, because we have an hour to kill, that happened.

Guess who saved the day? Jorge, an illegal, er unauthorized alien migrant from none other than Guatemala, the country that figures prominently in the migrant caravan so much in the news. Coincidence and timing aside, if no lesson were intended, the savior would have been from Mexico, which supplies the majority of unauthorized migrants to the United States. If it were up to me, I would love for someone like Jorge to get citizenship here. He says he was a policeman in Guatemala who was threatened because he stood up to the gangs and drug cartels, and fled for his life with his 12 year old daughter, who was suffering from lung disease, carrying her much of the way. Finally, he’s in NYC, and she needs a new lung. After the critical donor backed out of donating a kidney to her brother no less (they were estranged), the medical director of New Amsterdam approached the husband of patient 0, asking if he would still donate to the next person in the chain, with a promise they would try very hard to find a new donor for his wife. Without a guaranteed quid pro quo, he backs out too, but it turns out Jorge is a compatible donor to patient 0 for a part of his liver. There’s no quid pro quo for his daughter, since as an unauthorized migrant she isn’t eligible for a donor from the registry. As Jorge is mulling this over, the hospital director calls for volunteers from the public to donate a lung to Jorge’s daughter. Twelve complete strangers volunteer for compatibility testing. Jorge is so moved, he volunteers to donate part of his liver to patient 0, despite there being no guarantee that any of the volunteers will be compatible, or will not follow through.

Contrast the selfless, courageous Jorge with the selfish Americans who backed out of their commitment. The American donor for patient 0 was black, which will no doubt elicit a mega mea culpa from the show once BLM gets wind, or is that breaks wind. Okay, lesson received. As I said, I would love to see Jorge become a citizen. He’s my kind of guy, other than being…you know, unauthorized or undocumented or illegal. I want to offer a proposal: If a foolproof method of determining a person’s character is ever invented, we should give automatic asylum to everyone from any country who gets a high enough score, whatever that turns out to be. We want high character people here. Line up at the border, put the magic helmet on your head, if the light flashes green you’re in, if it flashes red, you’re out. Democrats like that, except make the green light blue.

I wrote a post many months ago about criteria for accepting immigrants into the United States, and nothing I have seen since has weakened my argument. So let me reiterate the principles of sensible, pragmatic membership policy: 1. Whenever a jurisdiction, be it a nation, country club or college, has a huge flow discrepancy, with scads more people wanting in than want out, there must be entrance requirements; 2. That sort of jurisdiction is obviously more of a privilege than one, say like North Korea, which would have a huge flow discrepancy in the opposite direction were it not for exit requirements (the ability to outrun a bullet); 3. The members or citizens of the privileged jurisdiction, not the supplicants, get to set entrance requirements; 4. Such requirements are always designed to enhance the desirability of the jurisdiction; 5. Therefore, no one has a right to be admitted without passing the entrance requirements; 6. Anyone who insists they have a right to be admitted, entrance requirements be damned, is the kind of person who will make the jurisdiction less desirable in the future, and is therefore violating principle #4. They are, in the immortal words of Groucho Marx, the kind of person who should never be in a club that would have them as a member. Need I add that #6 is a valid reason to keep that person out? No one could verify Jorge’s story, he might have been a cartel honcho fleeing other cartel honchos. Also left out is all the violations of US law he had to have committed knowingly in order to get from the Mexican border to NYC.

Ah, I lack compassion? Is it compassionate to destroy the quality of a desirable destination over time by allowing those fleeing a bad situation to import into the new destination problems which made the old situation a mess? I refer to the foundational problems of all failed states, corruption and larceny of the heart. Corruption is the lust for power over others and larceny is the desire to have without earning. While many of the migrants are seeking a better life, the seeking of which is a right, they don’t necessarily have the right to seek it in contravention of the laws of their country of choice. If there was an effective way to weed out the carriers of corruption and larceny, I would applaud using it. Since there isn’t, my emphasis is protecting that which makes us desirable. You may say, “you didn’t earn your American citizenship.” True, nor did I have to, and yes, it is an undeserved privilege, for which I praise God. So what?

Egotism kills.

I wish I could get more teeth in the pic!

I have never taken a “selfie”. I never will. The very idea of mugging for my camera to have a picture of me, whether solo, or with some famous person or landmark, the idea of buying an extension of my arm–a selfie stick–so I can photograph myself with a greater panorama or in the midst of some action…..it’s all too much. As with any stupid trend, especially one that entices with ego satisfaction, more and more stupid people will compete with ever more stupid stunts, until someone dies. Then the dying itself may become a trend, which is a good thing for the gene pool.

In the last six years, according to a formal study done in India, 259 people have died taking selfies. Of those deaths, researchers found the leading cause to be drowning, followed by incidents involving transportation — for example, taking a selfie in front of an oncoming train — and falling from heights. Other causes of selfie-related deaths include animals, firearms and electrocution. India has the highest number of deaths, followed by Russia, the United States and Pakistan. More than 85 percent of the victims were between the ages of 10 and 30. Like I said, good for the gene pool. I personally object to describing them as victims, since they were victimized by their own stupidity.

“What worries me the most is that it is a preventable cause of death,” said  head researcher Bansal, “Taking a toll on these many numbers just because you want a perfect selfie because you want a lot of likes, shares on Facebook, Twitter or other social media, I don’t think this is worth compromising a life for such a thing. While the number of deaths reported in the study may seem high, “Bansal said, “there could be many more cases that just haven’t been documented because of issues with reporting.” This guy is absolutely the master of understatement!

In 2018 alone, there have already been several selfie-related deaths. In May, a man in India tried to take a selfie with an injured bear and was mauled to death. Just last month, two people died in the United States in separate cases also involving selfies. On Sept. 5, an 18-year-old hiker from Jerusalem died after he fell more than 800 feet off a cliff at Yosemite National Park (what, living in Israel is not dangerous enough?). The man’s mother said he had been trying to take a selfie at the edge of Nevada Fall, a popular waterfall in the park, when he fell. Roughly two weeks later, a 32-year-old California woman met a similar fate while hiking at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan when she slipped and fell to her death after stopping at the edge of a 200-foot cliff to snap some selfies.

“One possible way to prevent selfie deaths would be ‘no selfie zones’,” Bansal said, “banning them in certain areas such as bodies of water, mountain peaks and at the top of tall buildings.” Really? If people are that stupid, they are really going to be stopped by a sign? What next, no stupidity zones? Efforts to dissuade people from taking dangerous selfies have already been attempted in multiple countries, including India, Russia and Indonesia. Three years ago, Russia launched a “Safe Selfie” campaign, which featured the slogan, “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being,” the BBC reported. Depends on how Russia defines well-being! An informational graphic with icons of “bad selfie ideas” — highlighting stick figures posing on power poles and while holding guns — was also distributed. In 2016, Mumbai declared 16 “no selfie zones” across the city following a slew of selfie-related deaths, the Guardian reported. Earlier this year, a national park in Indonesia announced it would be working to create a safe spot for photos after a hiker died taking a selfie, according to the Jakarta Post.

I have a more effective idea, inspired by Dirty Harry. The signs, posted at dangerous spots, would read, “go ahead, take a selfie, make my day, signed The Gene Pool.”

Is Larceny social justice?

Larceny is a crime involving the unlawful taking of the personal property of another person or business.” Note the terms “unlawful” and “personal property”. Why is taking of someone else’s property a crime? It was a crime ever since there have been laws, and is a crime across cultures and countries. I’m sure you could find exceptions if you tried hard enough, but suffice it to say, if someone stole your stuff you’d consider it a crime, so don’t waste my time with exceptions. It’s even a crime in communist countries, where property, especially the private kind, is sort of a dirty word. But back to my question, why is theft unlawful? I am going with the Christian perspective on this, since I believe it provides the most foundational basis for private property.

God owns everything, and he gives people the responsibilities of stewardship over, or management of property. Why? Stewardship matures us, preparing us for greater responsibilities. The Bible says that God’s people will rule over the New Earth, as they were supposed to rule over creation. We haven’t done a good job of that, but the practice of stewardship over personal property one of the ways to develop the discipline of rulership. When you were a kid, and saw a bike you really wanted, but had to save up for it, how did it feel to finally be able to buy it? how diligently you would care for it, compared to the kid whose father bought him a bike with no effort on his part. Now imagine some kid came along and stole your bike. How would you feel? How well do you think the thief would care for it? A car is a more grown up example, harder to save for, more to take care of, unless it was given to you, in which case you wouldn’t have much incentive to care for it. These simple examples illustrate how stewardship of your property helps mature you. If there were no sanctions against theft, there would be no chance of stewardship.

Protection of life and property are basic functions of government, among the main reasons government exists. So what happens when the government itself is stealing the property God has given you to steward? I don’t mean taxation per se, some level of taxation is necessary. I mean tax policy that deliberately sets those who want to keep more of the money God has allowed them to make against those who want to take more of it from them. Why do we call it greed when someone wants to keep more but not when we want to take more? The Democratic Party for most of my lifetime has been chanting the mantra about the “rich paying their fair share.” I would like definitions of “rich” and “fair share”. How much is that? The top five percent already pay fifty-seven percent of the tax load. What’s really behind that mantra are larcenous hearts. They want to raise taxes selectively on those who have money simply because they have money. They will never define fair share, the phrase is just a way to pander to larcenous hearts. Certain states, like New York, have tried that kind of larceny, and those who could afford to pay could also afford to move their capital, which creates jobs…somewhere else.

Taxation policy is not even the most insidious form of government theft. Unlimited deficit spending and inflation steal more property, in the form of purchasing power, than taxes. The science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote about it this way: “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances that permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of society, the people slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck’.” Yeah, for whom?

I could spend multiple blog posts explaining how and why government deficit spending and fiscal policy inflation steals purchasing power, and I won’t. The subject is almost too complicated to follow. What matters for my purpose is to educate on the concept of stewardship and to propose a dialogue about whether the demand for social justice is either “I want to honor God by having increased responsibility for stewardship” or “I want more of someone else’s stuff”; either God is the giver or government is the giver. If God is, there is no limit. If government is, the limit is what those who have been better stewards are willing to have taken from them.

Victim Sweepstakes and the Sisterhood of Perpetual Grievance.

Many people portray, and think of themselves as principled. Some are, and many who think they are confuse principles with ideology. The latter group are often either claiming victim status, or taking up offenses for those they consider victims.

I don’t get it. Why would anyone want to portray themselves as a victim? Obviously, there’s some kind of payoff. Grievance does have a payoff. For example, I was sorely tempted to go with the Brotherhood of Perpetual Grievance over Sisterhood. Why? I thought if I juxtapose Sisterhood and Grievance, women will come after me for implying that they are more grievance mavens than men. But if I went with brotherhood, then women would complain that I was disrespecting them in the same way as saying mankind instead of humankind or using men as a proxy for all people. Either way, they would score victim points, which is another way of saying “my feelings are important enough to take offense at any slight.”

Are you somehow better, or more deserving or heroic because your ancestor, race, gender, sexual orientation suffered discrimination? The actual sufferers have a real grievance, especially when there was no mechanism of redress, but you? In 2018 in the United States, not only are there ways to redress most grievances, there’s probably more instances of “over correction” than of unaddressed grievances. Discrimination and baseless prejudice will always exist–that’s what human beings do. Nothing stops each human being from deciding to improve their attitude, which will improve their circumstances. Not just the perception of their circumstances, but the actual circumstances.

My great grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s side suffered in Nazi concentration camps. Victor Frankl, an Austrian Jewish psychologist, survived a concentration camp. His famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. He went on to later establish a new school of existential therapy called logotherapy, based in the premise that man’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” even in the most difficult of circumstances. Frankl pointed to research indicating a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behaviors, addictions and depression. Without meaning, people fill the void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions. Or in 2018, Grievance.

Can you think of a worse circumstance than a Nazi concentration camp or Russian Gulag? Nobody escapes from such places without significant emotional scars, yet even there, deciding to find a larger purpose or meaning improves the attitude. All such horrible circumstances are operated by people, and every person, no matter how callous, responds more positively to a conciliatory attitude than a condemning attitude. Yes, there are evil people (notice I didn’t say “men”) who create evil circumstances, and sometimes you will find yourself in evil circumstances. When you do, you can find meaning and work for change, or you can be a victim. The latter choice is the state of Perpetual Grievance.

A Tale of Three Families.

There’s this upscale neighborhood, surrounded by other neighborhoods which are mixtures of more modest homes and dilapidated shacks. Within this upscale neighborhood, there’s one particular home that’s stands out. The builders looked at other homes and myriad home plans, noting the good ideas and mistakes, and the use of materials that looked impressive but didn’t have the quality to stand up to time, and they decided to build for the ages. They poured a deep and solid foundation, heeding the biblical admonition to build on the rock rather than sand. The floor joists were 2 by 6’s rather than 2 by 4’s. The roof trusses were extra thick, the roof itself of steel rather than shingle. The wiring was the highest quality solid copper, and the plumbing pipes were the best PEX and copper. The logs were treated with fire resistant coating. The resulting home not only looked good, it survived storms and fire better than it’s neighbors, providing shelter for many in times of need.

This home also has a problem, one that’s hidden. Inside the walls are termites and spiders. “Well, so what, out of sight, out of mind,” says one of the three families living in the home, the Statusquo family. They noticed the occasional termite, but ignored it. Then one day, the spiders decide to go bug shopping en masse in the living room. “Argh”, goes the arachnophobic second family living there, the Revolutionaries. “There’s no hope for this house, burn it down!” The third family living there, the Reformers, loves the home more than they hate the spiders. “Don’t burn it down”, they say, “we have too much invested in it. The foundation is solid, the roof is in great shape and the design is the envy of the neighborhood. Let’s get a thorough inspection and see what the true condition is, then we can start fixing what is wrong”, they state. “How much will that cost?” complains the status quo family. “What’s wrong with an occasional spider or termite?” “Burn baby, burn” say the Revolutionaries, “preferably with the Statusquo family in it.” “Let’s fix it up better than ever” counter the Reformers. “It is worth it.” “Too much money”, complain the Statusquos. “It’s only bugs anyway.”

So it goes. The United States was built on a firm foundation, with a Constitution informed by biblical principles, that is the envy of the world. It has been copied by other nations, but not as successfully, due to ignorance of the foundational principles. The United States is a pretty good place to live, but far from perfect, as any agglomeration of human beings will be flawed. There’s much about the United States in need of reform and improvement. Do we ignore the flaws, keep striving to make gradual improvements, or burn it down because nothing but perfection is acceptable, and gradual improvement takes too much time and wisdom? Your answer will depend on which of the three families you belong to.

The first step is to define the mission, the ultimate goal of our actions. As anyone who has been through a home remodeling can attest, the initial vision of the finished product often must be modified to account for unexpected conditions. Usually, some kind of rot is discovered, and more advanced than anticipated, but once the project has begun, the best way is usually forward. If you quit, you may be living in a wreck. Therefore, be committed to seeing it through, before beginning it. Professionals are able to plan for both the end result and the most effective detours around the unexpected. Amateurs just lurch from ad hoc fixes to inadequate patches. Or worse, they have no attainable vision so they burn it down. I was scrolling through my Flipboard feed yesterday, and came across this headlined statement from (guess which family): “I am a peacemaker by nature. I identify as a liberal — someone who values not just tolerance, but acceptance; embracing others with love even when I don’t agree with them. Not anymore. Like many, I was shocked when a terrible bully became the ‘leader’ of this country. It forced me to do a lot of soul searching. And I realized the rise of Donald Trump is largely my liberal, peacemaking fault. We tried too hard to be nice, civil, understanding and polite. My white privilege lulled me into the false belief that things were better and kindness was key.” I responded to her by asking, “what is your plan and your platform for improving the country?” The only response I got was “the truth hurts, you Trump groupie.” I was not defending Trump, I never even mentioned him. 

Does she have a vision for the home, or a remodeling plan? If so, it certainly isn’t front and center. She went on to justify violent “resistance” if necessary, though never specified what to resist. All of her other respondents chirped in with the same sentiment, one even saying “burn, baby, burn.” That’s like the Revolutionary family saying, “we don’t care how well it’s built or that it’s the envy of the neighborhood, any spiders and termites are unacceptable! Only perfection is acceptable.” Trying to save everyone’s home, the Reformers call for a vote. The Statusquos vote to get an inspection, as long as the other families pay. The Revolutionaries, when the vote goes against them, light up the torches. The Reformers agree to pay for the inspection while trying to douse the torches.

The spiders and termites in the United States are mainly the injustices that some individuals perpetrate on others–like in any other country. We have been making progress on almost every injustice, but for the Revolutionaries, progress is the enemy of utopian perfection now. Nevertheless, there’s hardly anyone in the world who wouldn’t trade places with us. Those places who deem themselves superior to the United States still depend on us a great deal for defense (the United States accounts for over 71% of the NATO defense budget), trade and innovation. If we burn down, who will step up against tyranny? Revolutionaries flatter themselves that they are rising up because so many things are wrong. The truth is that so many things are wrong due to the spirit of rebellion.

The Narrative Protection Machine.

Booker T. Washington told this story in 1895:A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: Water, water. We die of thirst.The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: Cast down your bucket where you are.A second time, the signal, Water, send us water!went up from the distressed vessel. And was answered: Cast down your bucket where you are.A third and fourth signal for water was answered: Cast down your bucket where you are.The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River.

To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of preserving friendly relations with the southern white man who is their next door neighbor, I would say: Cast down your bucket where you are.’ Cast it down, making friends in every manly way of the people of all races, by whom you are surrounded. To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted, I would repeat what I have said to my own race: Cast down your bucket where you are.Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your fireside. Cast down your bucket among these people who have without strikes and labor wars tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, just to make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South.
This is indeed strange that Mr. Washington uses the phrase “fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant ruin…” He was a slave and the son of slaves of the south. How could he talk of fidelity and love with the white race? He was actually talking about blacks who were loyal to the South in the Civil War. What kind of counter narrative is this, that of a race traitor? I thought the other narrative, the one of enmity between the races was the only one. Just maybe, there were white individuals who did not fit the narrative and whose relationship with former slaves was that of friendship rather than enmity. In fact, popular narratives are rarely about individuals or relationships. Why not? To answer that question, we must explore the question, what is the purpose of social narratives?
Some generalizations about social narratives are mostly true: they are about behavior of groups towards other groups; they assume a cause-effect relationship between behavior of some individuals within one group and the average outcomes of another group; they use individual stories to get emotions engaged and then generalize individual stories to the group as a whole. The two most common social narratives are about either justifying the status quo or effecting social change. For the latter, the moral of the narrative is almost always about a more powerful group abusing their power to oppress a less powerful group; for the former, the lesson is usually about how the behavior of individuals in the less powerful group justifies not trusting the group as a whole. Oh yeah, the other thing about both narratives: they don’t have to be true, and often are not. An example of what I mean is an organization dedicated to crafting narratives for “human rights” activists.

Change the Story: Harnessing the power of narrative for social change

From New Tactics in Human Rights website: “People and communities use stories to understand the world and our place in it. These stories are embedded with power – the power to explain and justify the status quo as well as the power to make change imaginable and urgent. A narrative analysis of power encourages us to ask: Which stories define cultural norms? Where did these stories come from? Whose stories were ignored or erased to create these norms? And, most urgently, what new stories can we tell to help create the world we desire?”

That last sentence is self explanatory, and explains the motivation behind many social narratives. Do you want some examples? The United States expanded the definition of hate crimes to include “crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or disability” in 1969, after the gruesome murder of Matthew Shepard. The attack on Shepard was widely reported–which became the narrative–to be motivated by his homosexuality, and he became sort of a “patron saint” of homosexual victims. Recently, a book was published based on testimony from people who knew both the victim and his killers, stating the narrative was false, that the killers were fellow meth dealers who wanted it to look like a homosexual motivated crime so they could get away with stealing his meth supply. The author of the book is homosexual, and at least one of the killers was a former sex partner of Shepard. Once rumors about this book to be published started circulating, the narrative protection machine went into overdrive. All those who had a vested interest in the original Shepard narrative–his family, the foundation bearing his name, homosexual activists–condemned the new narrative, the author, his sources and anyone who tried to defend the book’s conclusion. Since the murder happened 49 years ago, the full truth is unlikely to be known. However, the author and his sources have no vested interest in making Shepard look bad, while defenders of the original narrative have built an entire legacy on it being true. Draw your own conclusions.

Another common narrative was that black quarterbacks could never get their teams to the NFL championship. How wrong that was. Doug Williams was the first, and the list includes Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, Colin Kaepernick. Warren Moon might have been the best of all, though his teams didn’t get to the championship, but he was first into the NFL Hall of Fame, and that’s not too shabby. Fortunately for football fans, the narrative protection machine was pretty feeble for that narrative, and now I get to watch DeShaun Watson, Pat Mahomes, and Dak Prescott, as well as Wilson and Newton. Another sports narrative does seem to be more true than not, whites are slower than blacks. All the top 40 yard dash NFL combine times for years have been black athletes, and the fastest players at every position, except offensive line, are black.

Women, minorities and the poor are more likely to be taken advantage of or exploited than, say, white wealthier males, and that disgusts me, but that is individual behavior. Turning it into a narrative doesn’t get more justice. There are social narratives, and narrative protection machines, and watch out for your safety and your reputation if you challenge a narrative for change. Many former status quo narratives have fallen, and rightly so. Their defenders are more the result of ignorance than vested interest. But social change narratives are more about vested interests, and therefore more aggressive in their defense. The so-called social justice warriors like to disparage status quo narratives as though they are about protecting vested interests, but logical analysis asks the question, “if a group is wealthier and more powerful, and that wealth is the result of raising the standard of the majority, as it usually is, how can the wealthy and powerful group have a vested interest in keeping everyone else poor? Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest person in the world, due to the value of his Amazon stock. But why is Amazon stock worth so much? Primarily because lots of people want it and buy it, thus bidding the price up. The more people who can afford to do that, the wealthier every owner, including Bezos, of the stock becomes. Why would they want people not to be able to afford it?

Whether it’s race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender equality or abortion, the defenders of those narratives have a lot to lose if their narratives are challenged. If you take that on, you’d better have a thick skin, a good disguise and an updated home alarm system.