Saturday, March 17, 2018

America's Colleges and Universities Fall into Disrepute

American institutions of higher learning increasingly function within an ideological bubble. When it comes to the humanities and social sciences they have given up the pretense of teaching students and have embraced a more radical agenda. They want to produce waves of social justice warriors. The junior Red Guards who walked out of school a few days ago are now readying themselves to join the march.

Of course, professors and college presidents are so enthralled with their own great ideas that they pay no attention to how it all looks to the public at large. Increasingly, the public is looking askance at institutions that have lost their mission and have become tools of radical leftist ideologues.

Reputation matters. It matters even for institutions of higher education. As more colleges and universities close and as other schools eliminate majors that students no longer consider to be worth the time and expense, a sea change is under way. Perhaps slowly, but surely.

The Washington Times reports the story and adds some remarks about the way college presidents see their current condition:

Soaring tuition costs, degrees of dubious value and nonstop student activism have combined to bring public confidence in the ivory tower tumbling down.

Even college and university presidents acknowledge that the country is becoming disillusioned with higher education. In a recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, 51 percent of institution leaders said the 2016 election “exposed that academe is disconnected from much of American society.”

The erosion of higher education’s brand comes as no surprise to Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson. He said the public’s negative perception of academia reflects the “reality of left-wing bias disconnected from American society.”

“Particularly in the humanities and social sciences, many faculty view political activism and indoctrination as a core part of their academic mission,” said Mr. Jacobson, who runs the Legal Insurrection blog. “While they may have the academic freedom to do so, there is a price to pay for the higher educational system.”

When asked to assess which factors are responsible for the negative view of higher education, 86 percent of college and university presidents cited the perception of liberal bias on campus.

Let us be clear. The problem is not liberal bias. The problem is radical leftist bias. Liberal used to mean open minded, willing to discuss ideas freely. The current wave of campus repression is aimed at shutting down debate and discussion. And in punishing anyone who would dare offering a discordant opinion.

As for the question of preparing students for careers, the college presidents have a point:

Ninety-eight percent of college presidents said concerns about affordability and student debt are factors contributing to higher education’s image problem, and 95 percent pointed to concerns about whether college education adequately prepares students for careers.

As for their point, it ought to be clear that the more these institutions teach the art of protest and the virtue of fighting for social justice, the less their students will be prepared to work in the real world. If a student walks into a job interview with a resume filled with courses in social justice and culture warfare, in ethnic studies and the Marxist fairy tales of the Frankfurt school, any hiring officer will understand immediately that this young person has been so thoroughly deformed, mentally, that he or she will not be capable of showing the requisite loyalty to the company or even to do a creditable job. It's not just ideas that have been drummed out of them. They have also overcome their work ethic. And they certainly do not believe in any jobs that would create wealth. If the job involves redistributing wealth that someone else has earned, they might be on board. After all, it assuages the guilt they feel over their white privilege. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Dumbing America Down

Arthur Brooks is relinquishing his post as president of the American Enterprise Institute. Having led the conservative think tank for ten years he has decided that it’s time to hand over the baton.

To announce his upcoming departure he offered some thoughts on the state of American intellectual life. Obviously, it is bad. It is very bad. We all know, because we see examples of it every day, that far too many American universities have become indoctrination mills, force-feeding students with a single correct opinion, punishing or silencing those who think differently. Increasingly, media outlets have joined the dumbed-down chorus.

Of  course this is tribalism. As Andrew Sullivan pointed out:

One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you don’t actually have to think very much. All you need to know on any given subject is which side you’re on. You pick up signals from everyone around you, you slowly winnow your acquaintances to those who will reinforce your worldview, a tribal leader calls the shots, and everything slips into place. After a while, your immersion in tribal loyalty makes the activities of another tribe not just alien but close to incomprehensible. It has been noticed, for example, that primitive tribes can sometimes call their members simply “people” while describing others as some kind of alien. So the word Inuit means people, but a rival indigenous people, the Ojibwe, call them Eskimos, which, according to lore, means “eaters of raw meat.”

Obviously, this refers to those who direct the marketplace of ideas. The worlds of science and technology seem, for now, immune to the lure of tribalism. We face the spectacle of universities and even high schools teaching students how not to think, but how to emote and how to identify as a member of a tribe. Effectively, we saw evidence of it in the student protest marches against guns these last days and weeks.

If there is only one correct opinion, then you need not question or challenge your own. You must accept the tribe’s dogmatic beliefs, unthinkingly.

Brooks expresses it thusly:

… the competition of ideas is under attack. Many would rather shut down debate than participate in it. Politicians from both parties try to discredit their opponents with name-calling and ad hominem attacks. On too many college campuses, people with the “wrong” viewpoints and ideas are unwelcome. Much of the mass media has become polarized, meaning readers and viewers on the right and left are never challenged in their conviction that the other side is made up of knaves and fools.

Part of this stance is pragmatic—no one has ever been insulted into agreement. Further, we need opposing viewpoints to challenge our own. If we’re wrong, the best way to learn it is through challenges from our friends on the other side of the issue.

Why is this awful? If you only care about knowing what you must believe in order to remain a member of  your tribe, you will lose the habit of compromise and the habit of negotiation. If you do not know how to consider different points of view on a political or cultural topic and do not know how to find common ground with an opponent and do not know to engage in the give and take of negotiation, what will you do when you are sitting around with your friends, trying to decide where to go for dinner or which movie to see? 

If you do not know how to negotiate, you will turn any disagreement into open warfare or high drama. We practice negotiation every day in our exchanges and transactions with friend and foe alike. Either you know how to do it or you do not. If you learn in college that you must never compromise or negotiate, you will be ill equipped to conduct any meaningful relationships.

Anyway, our young American intellectuals, having been disembarrassed of their ability to exercise their rational faculties have been ranting and raving about bigotry, all the while defending a bigot like Louis Farrakhan. And let’s not forget the eight year tenure of Jeremiah Wright’s protégé in the White House. Did you notice that throughout the Obama years, any criticism or even questioning of the Savior would cause you to be shunned from polite society? 

The Obama years seriously damaged Democratic debate because any criticism of Obama counted as blasphemy. Today, any praise of Trump similarly counts as blasphemy. If you were wondering why Gary Cohn resigned from the White House, perhaps the tariff policy played a part, but, if I were to speculate, I would suggest that the weight of public opinion in the higher reaches of New York society pressured him out. How did it pressure him: by telling him, his wife, his friends and family that he was colluding with Hitler. After a while, it gets to you.

Brooks makes another salient point, namely that the culture has been so completely flooded with bad ideas that they have driven out good ideas. I had not heard this before and I find it very useful. He compares it to Gresham’s law, whereby bad money drives out good, that is, people are more likely to keep bad money in circulation and to keep good money for themselves:
Another threat to the world of ideas is arguably even more insidious: mediocrity through trivialization, largely from misuse of new media. To understand this, remember Gresham’s law: “Bad money drives out good.” If one form of currency is inherently more valuable than another in circulation, the better one will be hoarded and thus disappear.

Famous academics spend big parts of their days trading insults on Twitter . Respected journalists who suppress their own biases in their formal reporting show no such restraint on social media, hurting their and their organizations’ reputations. When half-baked 280-character opinions and tiny hits of click-fueled dopamine displace one’s hard-earned training and vocation, it’s a lousy trade.

If you add this to the point about tribalism, you arrive at the conclusion that the American mind is being dumbed down.

Brooks suggests that social media competition for clicks contributes massively to this dumbing down. Clickbait must be short, pithy and shocking. It need not be reasoned or even well written. It need but engage your mind... like a train wreck. Perhaps more important, it is never really edited. 

Imagine that in the past, editors selected what was worth reading and what was worth ignoring. The role of these gatekeepers has diminished with the blogosphere and the twitterverse. Thus, the free market in ideas has become something of a free-for-all, where quality does not necessarily rise to the top. If quality involves thoughtful arguments written in pellucid prose, then the new free-for-all market makes it far more difficult to publish, if not to find such work.

Looking for an immediate stimulus, especially one that affirms your belief and that makes you feel like a member of the right tribe, does not correlate with serious thought or good writing.

Of course, it would be wonderful if the custodians of serious thought and good writing were still at working. In large part they are not. Academic intellectuals, like those Brooks refers to, have often been lured into twitter feuds, the better to express their deep feelings. It would be nice to think that these people are our best and brightest, but, given today’s academic world, they are more often been hired for their ideological conformity or to fill a diversity quota. The destitution of the American academy has produced a situation where serious thought has been exiled… to where, we would like to know?

And this impacts the world of the media and publishing. To some extent serious intellectuals are still writing and still being published. And yet, the media requires clickbait and twitter feuds to keep itself alive. Even if leftist media did not want to cover the Trump administration fairly, its readers would simply tune out. Their minds have been so completely taken over by leftist dogma that they will get literally ill if they hear a discouraging word.

And one can only wonder whether the keepers of the media flame are the best and the brightest. In the past, careers in journalism conferred high prestige. Is that any longer the case? How many young intellectuals avoid a career in an industry that seems to be like a sinking ocean liner? How many of those who do join are capable of recognizing serious thought and excellent writing? In part, they judge work by the criteria imposed by identity politics. In larger part, they do not know any better.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Wit and Wisdom of Hillary Clinton

We would all have understood if the girl just needed to get away from it all. Losing her one great chance at the brass ring, and losing to Donald Trump must have taxed her delicate psyche. After all, she made the ultimate sacrifice, she married Bill Clinton. And she stayed married to Bill Clinton. Surely, the American people owed her the presidency.

So, we would have understood if she needed a vacation. We would have been happy to see her touring India with her girlfriend. And yet, Hillary Clinton, being Hillary Clinton, could not keep her foot out of her mouth. And, she could not keep her balance while walking down a flight of stairs. That too is not surprising.

And, she cannot stop complaining about the election. Shouldn’t someone run a tape through her headphones, with the message: What difference at this point does it make?

Anyway, Hillary managed to tell an audience in India that she lost the election because Republican women are tools of the patriarchy. But, why did this make news? True believing feminists have always divided their sex according to ideological commitment. A woman who accepted feminist ideology was thinking for herself. A woman who was not doing so—and worse yet, was voting Republican—was a tool of the patriarchy.

Hillary being Hillary she could not restrain herself from offering her own back-of-the-envelope political analysis. People in diverse and advanced states voted for her. The rubes and the deplorables voted for the Donald. After all, places like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut… states that are in serious decline because of stifling taxation, voted for her. 

Meaning what exactly? True enough, New York City is filled with the very rich and the very poor. No middle ground there. Those who are in high tech or finance are holding up the city. The poor are being pushed out. New York City is a living monument to income inequality.

As is, for that matter, California. It’s the worst state for business, the worst state for taxes, the worst state for qualify of life. It has gross income inequality. Its major cities sport disgusting and dangerous homeless encampments. It is overrun by illegal immigrants who are not contributing to the state’s prosperity.

Better yet, this monument to income inequality and squalor gave Hillary the entirety of her vote advantage. The Trump campaign figured out that it did not matter how many votes they lost by in California. So, they didn’t bother to campaign there. Hillary Clinton ran up the vote and lost the election. It’s enough to restore your faith in God.

To Hillary’s mind, California is the most diverse and dynamic place in the country. In truth, it is seeing a grand exodus of businesses. Most of them are moving to places that voted for Trump. How can Hillary explain that? Don’t hold your breath. Being Hillary means never having to explain anything.

Today, we have it on the authority of the Dallas Business Journal (via Maggie’s Farm) that 9,000 businesses have debarked from California over the past seven years… mostly to Texas.

Here is the story:

Roughly 9,000 California companies moved their headquarters or diverted projects to out-of-state locations in the last seven years, and Dallas-Fort Worth has been a prime beneficiary of the Golden State’s “hostile” business environment.

That’s the conclusion of study by Joseph Vranich, a site selection consultant and president of Irvine, California-based Spectrum Location Solutions.

Of the 9,000 businesses that he estimates disinvested in California, some relocated completely while others kept their headquarters in California but targeted out-of-state locations for expansions, Vranich found. The report did not count instances of companies opening a new out-of-state facility to tap a growing market, an act unrelated to California’s business environment.

As a for instance, take Toyota Motors:

Japanese automaker Toyota, which is consolidating its North American headquarters in Plano over the next couple of years, is one of those companies. The company is leaving Torrance, California, and two other locations to set up shop in Plano, where it will employ 4,000.

It’s typical for companies leaving California to experience operating cost savings of 20 up to 35 percent, Vranich said. He said in an email to the Dallas Business Journal that he considers the results of the seven-year, 378-page study “astonishing.”

“I even wonder if some kind of ‘business migration history’ has been made,” Vranich wrote in his note.

While business is leaving, illegal immigrants are arriving. While the state government makes it increasingly difficult to do business, it does everything it can to retain illegal immigrants. No sanctuary for business. Sanctuary for people who have no business being there.

It’s a Hillary kind of place.

Will You Miss Rex Tillerson?

I don’t know about you, but I will not miss Rex Tillerson. By now the people who have had nothing good to say about him have come out from under their rocks to praise him… and to declare that he did not deserve to be fired by Tweet. Not one of them can resist the chance to spin a story to make Trump look bad.

Of course, we do not really know whether he was fired by Tweet. We can hypothesize that he was given the opportunity to resign and to say that he wanted to spend more time with his family. If he refused the offer, the president would have had no other option but to fire him.

By all appearances, Tillerson proved to be an incompetent manager at the State Department. Worse yet, he was pursuing his own private foreign policy, a policy that was at variance with the administration’s policy.

It is nearly impossible to understand how Tillerson thought he had the authority to do as he pleased in his work with foreign governments, but apparently he did. So much for the notion that Donald Trump is some kind of autocrat. In truth, Trump seems to allow his cabinet appointees some considerable latitude in doing their jobs. He does not allow them to go off on their own, to go rogue.

At the very least, it meant that Tillerson held Trump in contempt and did not feel any need to execute administration policy. That being the case, firing Tillerson via Tweet seems an appropriate gesture.

Tillerson had had a distinguished career as a corporate executive. Plaudits for that. He had had experience dealing with heads of state and had done so successfully. Plaudits for that too. Yet, he did not know very much about foreign policy. It was his downfall. People who do not know very much about a topic become vulnerable to the conventional wisdom. If you know nothing about a topic and want to appear to know a lot about it—otherwise, why would you be Secretary of State—you will most likely absorb the views that count as sophisticated and intelligent. When it came to policy, Tillerson was in way over his head.

Apparently, Tillerson differed with the president on numerous foreign policy issues. Worse yet, he made his disagreements public. He contradicted the president. He conducted policy with foreign governments on the basis of his views, not the president’s views.

Marc Thiessen explains that Tillerson was fired for insubordination. Especially as regards the upcoming negotiations with North Korea. Given the need to have a functioning policy shop behind the president when he negotiates with Kim Jong-un Tillerson had to go. 

He had been on the wrong page on North Korea. And he did not know enough about the issues to be of any use. He was simply mouthing the tired Obama-era views. On that issue a Mike Pompeo will be a significant upgrade. Note clearly, the issue is not merely that Pompeo thinks about these things as Trump does. Pompeo has the depth of understanding of the issues that will make him a true Secretary of State. Naturally, Democrats, accompanied by a recycled grandstanding eye surgeon, will do their best to derail the nomination. After all, they care less about the national interest than about their electoral prospects.

Thiessen offers his thesis:

Tillerson was completely out of step with Trump’s hard-line stance on North Korea, which ultimately brought Kim Jong Un to the bargaining table. Instead, Tillerson’s North Korea strategy seemed to be to beg Pyongyang for talks. Speaking at the Atlantic Council in December, Tillerson delivered this embarrassing plea: “Let’s just meet. And we can talk about the weather if you want. ... But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face? He might as well have added: Pretty please, with sugar on top?”

He adds:

By projecting weakness to Pyongyang, Tillerson was undercutting Trump’s message of strength — and thus making war more likely. The fact that Tillerson could not seem to grasp this or get on the same page as his commander in chief made his continued leadership of the State Department untenable.

As I said, Thiessen's analysis is completely plausible. But then again so is Adam Kredo's in the Washington Free Beacon. By his lights Tillerson went rogue on the Iran nuclear deal. Kredo also adds that Tillerson failed on other aspects of Mideast diplomacy, as in moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.

Kredo explains that Tillerson was running around the world trying to save the Iran nuclear deal. Trump had campaigned against it. Nearly all Republicans had declared it to be a disaster. Trump wanted out of it. Tillerson was trying to keep America in it. True, getting out of it is like getting out of a tight parking spot, but still administration policy is administration policy. On Iran, Tillerson went rogue:

The abrupt firing Tuesday of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson follows months of infighting between the State Department and White House over efforts by Tillerson to save the Iran nuclear deal and ignore President Donald Trump's demands that the agreement be fixed or completely scrapped by the United States, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

In the weeks leading up to Tillerson's departure, he had been spearheading efforts to convince European allies to agree to a range of fixes to the nuclear deal that would address Iran's ongoing ballistic missile program and continued nuclear research.

While Trump had prescribed a range of fixes that he viewed as tightening the deal's flaws, Tillerson recently caved to European pressure to walk back these demands and appease Tehran while preserving the deal, according to these sources. The Free Beacon first disclosed this tension last week in a wide-ranging report.

White House allies warned Tillerson's senior staff for weeks that efforts to save the nuclear deal and balk on Trump's key demands regarding the deal could cost Tillerson his job, a warning that became reality Tuesday when Trump fired Tillerson by tweet.

Tillerson had been warned that he was risking his job by pursuing his own private policy. Apparently, he persisted:

Other White House insiders echoed this sentiment, telling the Free Beacon that Tillerson emerged as a roadblock to Trump's foreign policy strategy.

"Tillerson was an establishment figure, like Gary Cohn, and the president seems after a year to be tiring of them," said one source with knowledge of the matter. "He wants people closer to his own views. I think Tillerson's opposition on Jerusalem was a factor: it's not just that he opposed Trump but that he predicted violent reactions that didn't happen."

"I've got to figure that made the president wonder why he needed more such advice," the source said. "Same for the JCPOA and Tillerson's view that getting out of it would be a calamity."

Apparently, Tillerson became enthralled by Obama holdovers in the State Department. He had shown public defiance to the president. And he undoubtedly refused to resign gracefully. Ergo….

Australia Welcomes African Refugees

No one seems especially to care about what happens to white South African farmers. No one except for the government of Australia.

Now that South Africa has chosen to follow the example of Zimbabwe, it is seizing the lands of white farmers… the better to redistribute the wealth. Said farmers are also being murdered… by whom, we do not know.

The Guardian has the story.

White South African farmers “deserve special attention” from Australia due to the “horrific circumstances” of land seizures and violence, Peter Dutton has said.

The home affairs minister told the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday his department was examining a range of methods to fast-track their path to Australia on humanitarian or other visa programs.

South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is pursuing legal changes to allow appropriation of farm lands without compensation for redistribution to black South Africans.

The policy has led to reports, including in the Australian media, that white farmers are being murdered at a rate of more than one per week.

“If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face,” Dutton said.

The home affairs minister noted Australia has refugee, humanitarian and other visa programs which have the “potential to help some of these people”. He said he had asked his department to look at the options “because from what I have seen they do do need help from a civilised country like ours”.

The refugees would be welcomed into Australia as persecuted refugees.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Has the Progressive Left Embraced Anti-Semitism?

The progressive left has an anti-Semitism problem. The name of the problem: Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan. Yet again, Farrakhan has spewed his usual anti-Semitic vitriol. But now, it turns out that numerous members of the Congressional Black Caucus have happily associated with the Anti-Semite in Chief. Also, leaders of the Women’s March have happily appeared in public with him, exposing the fact that this supposedly progressive movement is infested with anti-Semitism. 

Of course, anyone with a barely functioning brain would have seen the anti-Semitism in a Palestinian activist like Linda Sarsour or in a Tamika Mallory. He would easily have noted that the elevation of Louis Farrakhan complements the Obama presidency, itself led by a man who spent twenty years at the feet of hate minister and notable anti-Semite Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Throughout the Obama presidency the Democratic Party’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli base kept quiet. Farrakhan and Wright went quiet. Obama’s old friend, Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi shut up. Now, given that they no longer have to cover for Barack Hussein, they are crawling back out of the woodwork.

Even Obama’s consigliere, Valerie Jarrett has removed her mask and declared the anti-Semitic Farrakhan to be no worse than the Koch brothers. You can see the kind of mentality that went into the Obama Iran nuclear deal, the most anti-Israeli action that any American president has ever taken.

Anti-Semitism was the hidden face of the Obama presidency. Keep in mind that the Congressional Black Caucus made a point of boycotting a speech that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered to Congress. And that Obama himself treated Netanyahu with contempt.

Now, the progressive left owns anti-Semitism. And yet, in refusing to repudiate Louis Farrakhan they are saying that black Americans should not be held to the same moral standards as other Americans.

In the old days, anti-Semitism was more the domain of white rednecks railing against supposedly sneaky, rich, Eastern bankers and New York traders. Today it is the “intersectional” collection of black extremists, Palestinian nationalists, and radical feminists. They apparently feel immune from charges of anti-Semitism, on the premise that minorities cannot themselves be bigots and that leftists can loathe and single out Israel for inordinate venom, but not be anti-Semitic.

And also,

In sum, the octogenarian Farrakhan is now a mainstream identity-politics activist and an apparently integral part of the new Democratic party’s “inclusion” agenda. Why else would Representative Jim Clyburn (the third-ranking Democrat in the House) have shared a stage with him? Or why would DNC vice chairman Keith Ellison (former Nation of Islam member) shrug off his relationship to Farrakhan with the assertion, “I am telling you, no one cares.” And if one looks to the Democratic hierarchy, he’s apparently right.

We have the mind-numbing assertion that a political party whose reason for being is to fight bigotry aligning itself with one of America’s worst bigots. You should not expect intellectual consistency or intellectual honesty from such a group.

In truth, they are living in a fictional world where they are fighting for the Revolution that will overthrow the patriarchal capitalistic order. In that world, though not in the real world, Palestinians belong to the new proletariat that is fighting oppression… by Jews. That the Palestinians and the Iranian mullahs are the direct descendants of the Third Reich seems not to bother them. Within their fictional universe the real Hitler is Donald Trump.

People who think this way belong to our intelligentsia. Among them New Yorker writer, Masha Gessen. People think the world of Gessen. They pronounce her name with reverence. Why they do so is completely beyond me.

Consider her highly unimpressive recent piece about Farrakhan and the left. For Gessen Trump is Hitler, and the progressive left is the French Resistance. As you might have noticed these people do not live in the real world. Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945 and the French Resistance ceased to exist at that point. Pretending that you are living out someone else’s history does not make you a serious thinker. It makes you a serial fabulist:

When you are staring clear, unadulterated evil in the face—and a state that routinely practices political murder is certainly clear, unadulterated evil—your options crystallize. Politics begins to permeate everything, obliterating the division between public and private, but also imbuing action and speech with exhilarating meaning. Hannah Arendt wrote about this state of being in “Between Past and Future,” describing the private citizens who had become members of the French Resistance: “He who joined the Resistance found himself. ... He ceased to be in quest of himself, without mastery, in naked unsatisfaction. ... He who no longer suspected himself on insincerity, of being a carping suspicious actor of life ... could afford to go naked. In this nakedness, stripped of all masks ... they had been visited, for the first time in their lives, by an apparition of freedom.” Arendt might have been writing about Mallory, other Women’s March leaders, and many of the activists who have emerged since the election of Donald Trump. Their sense of purpose is palpable. But in the case of Mallory, it seems that what she thought of as a private, basically familial association with Farrakhan has taken on public, explicitly political meaning.

Which unadulterated evil would that be? It wouldn’t be Iran. It wouldn’t be Islamist terrorism. It wouldn’t be anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright. No, it’s Donald Trump. And apparently the vision of Trump so completely blinded Malika Mallory that she could not understand that her personal familial association with Louis Farrakhan had taken on a political meaning.

Gessen’s last statement is pure idiocy. If you function as a political leader and associated with someone who has a political influence, your actions are political. Only a fool would think otherwise. And only a fool would attempt to defend an association with a notorious anti-Semite on those grounds. Do you, as an individual, enjoy personal familial associations with public figures you know to be anti-Semitic?

Gessen is correct, however, to see politics as cooperation, not warfare.

Politics is not a war; it is the coöperation of people with disparate views, needs, and interests. “The art of compromise,” distilled from Bismarck’s definition of politics as “the art of the possible, the attainable—the art of the next best,” is not the worst description.

She continues to compare Farrakhan with Vladimir Putin or perhaps the Stalinist Russian state. She implies that Farrakhan is minor league compared to Putin or Stalin:

But is compromise possible with a bigot? Can someone who won’t denounce a bigot be acceptable as the “next best”? Could one say that Mallory is just one of several leaders of an organization whose agenda speaks for itself, or is this bigotry by proxy so virulent that nothing but a purge can save the March now? In other words, is Farrakhan’s bigotry the same sort of unmitigated evil as, say, the murderous Russian state?

Gessen fears the consequences of aligning the Women’s March with Farrakhan. Otherwise, at least he’s not as bad as Stalin. More importantly, she wants to promote the war against Donald Trump, the new Satan:

The Women’s March, meanwhile, represents the hopes of millions of Americans who were mobilized by the election of Donald Trump. A giant, influential organization finds itself in the emotional state of a tiny resistance cell, holding on desperately against a hostile world. This is a symptom of a deep disease of American political life, the descent into positional warfare in which politics—the art of compromise—is no longer conceivable.

Anyway, when you have a devil, you also must have an angel. Gessen demonstrates her extreme cluelessness by saying that after Barack Obama did his best to make politics about cooperation,  Trump has turned it into partisan warfare.

In the eight years before Trump, even as Congress willfully descended into dysfunction and election campaigns turned into slugging matches fought with soundbites, President Barack Obama stubbornly stuck to the idiom of politics as coöperation. The Trump Presidency has trampled that political vestige. Now, when the Women’s March fights a Twitter war about Farrakhan, it seems that this is all there is.

Apparently, she does not understand that without the turmoil caused by Jeremiah Wright’s protégé we would not have had Donald Trump. Obama was polite and decorous, but refused to work with Republicans. He refused to cooperate with Republicans. His signature legislative triumphs, his stimulus bill and Obamacare, received zero Republican votes.

Politics cannot be about cooperation unless it stands on a foundation of unquestioned patriotism. When Obama talked down America, when he apologized for America, when he sided with America’s enemies and stood against America’s friends… he undermined national pride and love of country. He did it subtly, so that only conservatives noticed.

In hooking itself to the Obama agenda, the Democratic Party opened the door for a presidential candidate who sold out national pride. Most of his supporters did not like Trump’s demeanor, but they did love their country.

Middle East Diplomacy at the White House

For those who have been following the diplomatic chess game going on in the Middle East, the following story bears note.

The Jerusalem Post reports on a White House meeting attended by Israeli and Sunni Arab representatives:

Israeli national security officials sat around the same table on Tuesday morning with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, discussing a dire humanitarian situation unfolding in the Gaza Strip.

The summit on Gaza, called by Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law and senior adviser on Middle East peace, as well as Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, marks an unprecedented moment for Israeli diplomacy, as their dialogue with officials from Arab states is publicly recognized for the first time.

The Trump administration planned the meeting over several weeks and released a list of attendees the morning of the summit, which also included officials from Egypt, Jordan, Canada and various governments of Europe.

One notes that the meeting was organized by one Jared Kushner. For those who were wondering what first son-in-law was doing with his time, here’s a hint.

The Jerusalem Post also notes the significance of the meeting:

This is not the first time that Israeli and Arab officials have been in the same room together. Both were present at a peace conference in Madrid in 1991, and in UN ad hoc liaison committee hearings on the plight of the Palestinians. But the White House has never hosted an event of this kind, much less on the heels of releasing a plan designed to cement a burgeoning alliance between the Sunni Arab world and the Jewish state.

And also:

The meeting took place amid reports from Israel’s Channel 10 that Egypt has been hosting a series of behind-the-scenes meetings between Israeli and Saudi officials. The report has not been independently confirmed. 

I recognize that this meeting does not contain anywhere near as much drama as the other goings-on in the Trump administration, but a developing alliance between Sunni Arab states and Israel surely represents a giant step in the right direction.

Apparently, the loss of Rex Tillerson went unnoticed.