Monday, January 29, 2018

The lethal folly of calling Trump Hitler

We mustn’t forget, or forgive, the anti-Trump lobby’s Nazi comparisons

America is doing okay, isn’t it, considering it is run by a Nazi. Considering that for the past year it has been governed by a man who more closely resembles Hitler than any other living Western politician. Considering it is now borderline a fascist state in which, in the words of one British diplomat, there are ‘shades of 1933 Germany’. Twelve months into Donald Trump’s fascist experiment, one year on from his warping of the American republic with ‘fascist rhetoric’, America seems to be functioning well. The president’s political opponents haven’t been imprisoned, political debate remains free and open, no concentration camps have been opened, and the Constitution is intact. Maybe this Nazism thing isn’t so bad after all?

This is the lethal consequence of the Hitler-comparing hysteria that gripped the Western commentariat over the past year: it has demeaned the memory of the Nazi experience. It has made Nazism seem ‘not that bad’. It robs the horrors of mid-20th-century Europe of their uniqueness, their historical specificity, and makes them seem like things that happen all the time, which are always in the air, even in the free, open, peaceful air of 21st-century America. They normalise, and thus downgrade, the suffering under the Nazi tyranny. In calling Trump ‘Hitler’, these Hillary-supporting throwers of the loudest political hissy fit of modern times imagine they are landing a serious blow on Trump, but they are doing something else, too, something really bad: they are letting Hitler off the hook by misremembering him simply as a bad man, as a Trump-style blowhard, rather than as the great criminal of the 20th century whose like is found nowhere — nowhere — in America or Europe today.

It is important to remember, and to continue to criticise, the anti-Trump lobby’s reckless use of Nazi imagery and Holocaust comparisons. This cannot be allowed to pass smoothly into a history, chalked up simply as an angry outburst after their candidate lost to Trump. There’s too much at stake: historical memory, truth, reason itself. So we must look back at what happened a year ago, when Trump was inaugurated and when it became okay to throw around the f-word, even the N-word. ‘Donald Trump is a fascist’, declared a writer for the Washington Post in black and white. Even Barack Obama, in the words of one report, ‘made reference to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s’ when he said a Trump presidency would damage American democracy. Peter Westmacott, who was British ambassador to the US until 2016, said the rise of Trump had ‘shades of 1933’.

Historians cast sense and decorum to the wind in their rush to be part of the panic about the return of Nazism. Republicans, said Timothy Snyder, are like ‘1930s German conservatives’ who were overcome by the ‘radical right’ — that is, by Hitler’s Nazi movement. Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler, said Trump was working from ‘the playbook [of] Mein Kampf’. Politicians got in on the Nazi-talk. British Labour MP Dennis Skinner spoke of Trump in the same breath as ‘fascist dictators Mussolini and Hitler’. Labour’s Yvette Cooper drew a link between Trump’s ban on migration from certain Muslim-majority countries and the events of the Holocaust. As did the Guardian. It said Trump’s presidency was a ‘slap in the face’ to those who promised to learn from the Holocaust. Trump is a ‘fascist authoritarian’, said Salon. He combines the ‘bullying and threats’ that also defined the Hitler era, said another observer, as if Nazism was merely politicians being mean.

The use and abuse of the Holocaust era, the exploitation of the Nazi experience to dent Trump’s legitimacy, was widespread. It could be seen on demos against Trump, too, on which placards depicted him in a Hitler moustache or warned us against ‘a repeat of the 1930s’. On a London march, one group of people held placards showing Trump dressed like Hitler alongside the words: ‘We’re history teachers — we know how this ends.’

Let’s hope these people aren’t teaching your kids. For it is hard to think of anything more historically illiterate, and more dangerously cynical, than the casual branding of Trump as Hitler and the widespread hints over the past year — the predictions, even — that his rule would end the same way Hitler’s did: with death camps, presumably, and millions dead, and global war, and the absolute destruction of liberty, political freedom and the rule of law. None of that has happened, of course. The Hitler talk was so much steam, with observers rummaging around in history for the strongest political terms with which Trump might be branded and condemned. This has made it more difficult to see what is new and different and, yes, problematic about Trump’s administration. The unhinged Nazi talk discourages reasoned analysis in favour of chasing the cheap thrill of yelling ‘fascist!’ at someone you don’t like. It is profoundly anti-intellectual.

But it does something worse than muddy the present and harm rational debate about politics today; it also ravages the past; it relativises the Nazi experience and, unwittingly no doubt, dilutes the savagery of the Holocaust through comparing that immense crime with what is simply an elected American administration many people don’t like. This might not be Holocaust denial, but it is certainly Holocaust dilution. It is Holocaust relativism. And as some historians have been pointing out since the 1970s, Holocaust relativism, the treatment of the Nazi era as just a wicked brand of politics that crops up every now and then, including now, is the foundation stone of the vile prejudices that underpin actual Holocaust denial. It ‘minimises Nazi atrocities’, as one guide to the Holocaust put it, which in turns fuels the conviction of many Jew-haters: that the Holocaust and the events that nurtured it were not that a big deal. Calm down, Jews.

This is why we cannot forget or forgive what they said about Trump — not because we need to protect Trump from insult, but because we need to protect historical memory from destruction. This is the terrible irony of the worst outbursts of anti-Trump hysteria over the past year: it presented itself as a challenge to an ascendant neo-Nazism, yet its casual, thoughtless use of the Nazi spectre promoted a history-rewriting view of the Nazi era that benefits no one except neo-Nazis.


Sex addiction IS an illness, doctors insist... but furious critics say that they're just making excuses for predators

Calls to classify sex addicts as ‘mentally ill’ have triggered a row among doctors and campaigners helping victims of predators like Harvey Weinstein.

Eleven senior specialists, in a letter to the World Psychiatric Association, are pressing for compulsive sexual behaviour to be recognised as a mental disorder in its own right.

But the proposal was last night condemned by those who fear it will allow sexual misconduct to be blamed on a medical condition. Rachel Krys, from the charity End Violence Against Women, said: ‘We absolutely object to anything that condones harmful sexual behaviour to others, mainly women.’

And Dr Harriet Garrod, a consultant psychologist from Bexhill in East Sussex, said: ‘This could allow those in question to evade full responsibility for their actions by saying they were “ill” at the time.’

There has been a fierce debate within the psychiatric community over whether compulsive sexual behaviour should be recognised as an illness.

The condition is defined as being unable to control intense sexual impulses or urges and engaging in repetitive sexual behaviour for six months or more that ‘causes marked distress or impairment’ to sufferers and those around them.

Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and golfer Tiger Woods – who had a string of extra-marital affairs – have sought treatment for so-called sex addiction at a £25,000-a-month rehab centre. But the American Psychiatric Association has refused to recognise it as an illness.

The letter to the World Psychiatric Association was signed by nearly a dozen leading lights in the profession, including Dr Valerie Voon, a neuropsychiatrist at Cambridge University.

It demands that sex addiction be included in the next edition of the International Classification Of Diseases, a ‘bible’ of recognised conditions that is used by doctors all over the world.

The letter states: ‘Growing evidence suggests compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is an important clinical problem with potentially serious consequences if left untreated.’


For once Mr Baggy Eyes has a point

Billionaire investor George Soros launched a scathing attack on tech giants at the Davos summit on Thursday, calling them monopolies that could be manipulated by authoritarians to subvert democracy.

During an annual dinner he hosts at the World Economic Forum, held this week in the Swiss alpine resort, Soros turned his sights on a host of subjects including US President Donald Trump and the speculation frenzy surrounding the bitcoin cryptocurrency.

But much of the Hungarian-born financier's ire was reserved for the tech giants of Silicon Valley who, he argued, needed to be more strictly regulated.

'Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all internet advertising revenue,' the 87-year-old told diners during a speech.

'They claim that they are merely distributors of information. The fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access.'

'The exceptional profitability of these companies is largely a function of their avoiding responsibility for — and avoiding paying for — the content on their platforms,' Soros said.

He predicted that tech giants would 'compromise themselves' to access key markets like China, creating an 'alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data rich IT monopolies.'

'This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined,' he warned.

Predicting governments would start to more heavily regulate the sector he said: 'The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position. Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered. Regulation and taxation will be their undoing.'

Soros warned that at its current rate, Facebook will run out of new users to join its platform despite it currently growing in size.

'The distinguishing feature of internet platform companies is that they are networks and they enjoy rising marginal returns; that accounts for their phenomenal growth. The network effect is truly unprecedented and transformative, but it is also unsustainable. It took Facebook eight and a half years to reach a billion users and half that time to reach the second billion. At this rate, Facebook will run out of people to convert in less than three years.'

Known for his legendarily successful currency trading, Soros dismissed bitcoin as a 'typical bubble'. But he said the cryptocurrency would likely avoid a full crash because authoritarians would still use it to make secret investments abroad.

He described Russia's Vladimir Putin as presiding over a 'mafia state' and called Trump a 'danger to the world'.

But he predicted that the US president's appeal would not last. 'I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020 or even sooner.'

But the investor's traditional Davos predictions do not always pan out.

Last year in Switzerland he warned that the stock market rally would end after Trump's election and that China's growth rate was unsustainable.

China's growth has continued while US stocks are regularly hitting record highs.


Why men are being wrongly accused of rape

The definition of rape has become very broad

Oliver Mears (pictured) spent two years on police bail having been charged with rape. Last week, the 19-year-old Oxford student had the case against him dropped following a review of evidence. A couple of days earlier, Samson Makele’s trial was halted after his defence team found more than a dozen images of him and his accuser cuddling in bed. In December, Liam Allan, aged 22 and a law student, had his rape conviction thrown out of court when new evidence came to light. A text message from the complainant to a friend stated she had had sex with Liam, but ‘it wasn’t against my will or anything’. Scotland Yard currently has 30 rape cases under review.

Various explanations have been put forward for the spate of wrongful arrests. Most prominent is the claim that the police lack the resources needed to sift through considerable evidence. In addition, as Luke Gittos has written on spiked, the systemic failure ‘is a symptom of a police force that has been told over many years that its job is to facilitate successful prosecutions, rather than investigate objectively’.

But before a victim can be believed, before an arrest can be made, a woman must allege that she was raped. False accusations are neither new nor unique to rape cases. But the severity of the potential punishment and the damage to the accused’s reputation mean false rape accusations deserve to be taken seriously. We need to ask why these cases were brought to the police in the first place.

An easy answer is that women maliciously make false rape accusations, perhaps to cover for a consensual sexual encounter or to exact revenge against a man. But research suggests that only four per cent of cases of sexual violence reported to the UK police are found or suspected to be false, and in the majority of these cases no specific perpetrator is named. False allegations are mainly identified early and often through an admission from the complainant.

The process of going to trial and giving evidence in a rape case is not an easy option. Yes, a ‘believe the victim’ culture means women are shielded by anonymity and are dealt with sensitively in court. They can give their evidence from behind a screen, be addressed by their first name, and ask for judges to remove their wigs. But if revenge is being sought, there are surely far easier and less time-consuming ways to extract it.

A false allegation is an accusation that the complainant knows never actually occurred. But, as Professor Phil Rumney details, there may be false allegations that fall outside this definition, such as ‘non-malicious allegations from people with particular medical conditions who genuinely believe they are victims of rape or other sexual offences, but who are mistaken’. For some women, then, a false accusation may be founded upon a genuine belief that they were raped. Additionally, as Rumney points out, a person may allege rape without understanding what the legal definition of rape entails.

We are unlikely to know what drove the women making false accusations against Allan, Mears and Makele. But the #MeToo movement has brought to light a great deal of confusion around the meaning of rape. An Everyday Feminism article titled ‘How do I know if I’ve been raped?’ begins by stating: ‘There are a lot of lies out there that can make it hard to know if you were raped.’ But the difficulty of knowing whether or not you are a victim of a crime suggests the crime itself is now vaguely and subjectively defined.

Sex and relationships classes at school, university consent classes, and now the #MeToo coverage teach young women that sex without consent is rape and that consent must be preferably verbal and enthusiastic and definitely freely given and ongoing. Sex that is not accompanied by explicitly sought and given consent is rape. Unwanted sex is rape. This means that after a sexual encounter, perhaps weeks later in conversation with friends, a woman can reach the conclusion that she did not give enthusiastic and ongoing consent and was therefore raped. By this logic, neither text messages declaring enjoyment nor photos of post-coital cuddles rule out the possibility of rape.

What’s missing from the definition of rape as unwanted sex is the perpetrator’s knowledge of the absence of consent. Women – and men – might have sex when they don’t want to for all kinds of reasons: to please a partner, to sustain a relationship, or because it’s easier than saying no. But they have only been raped if they make clear to their partner that they don’t want to have sex and their partner continues regardless.

It’s possible that some false rape accusations may not be malicious but may occur when a woman is convinced she has been raped. When, subsequently, the police knock on the door of the accused, he may quite genuinely have no inkling of having done anything wrong. A man who has committed a rape would hardly be likely to have his photo taken with his victim or continue to phone and text.

Wrongful rape convictions are terrible for men who face the very real threat of imprisonment. They are also bad for women, convinced they are victims and unable to move on with their lives. To stop this, police need the resources to investigate crimes fully and we need to challenge the ‘believe the victim’ culture. But we also need to tell women that drunk sex, regretted sex and unwanted sex are not rape. For a rapist to be convicted he must know that his victim did not consent or was unable to consent to sex. Consent classes and the #MeToo movement risk presenting women as passive, fragile creatures lacking all capacity to tell men to remove wayward hands or that they do not want to have sex with them. This can only lead to more rape trials and more lives ruined in the future.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: