Sunday, August 19, 2018

Is Jordan Peterson "intellectual kryptonite” to the Left?

Suzanne Fields

Jordan Peterson is a true phenomenon, a professor at the University of Toronto whose books and lectures are sold out and whose multiple videos are played and replayed on social media. Depending on whom you ask, he’s the archetypal victim or brainy hero of the polarized times when an innocent conversation between a man and a woman can explode with awesome effect and considerable collateral damage. One profiler calls him, with the exception of President Trump “perhaps the single-most loathed person by the intellectual classes in Canada and the United States.”

A Canadian who can’t vote in an American election, he fantasizes in one interview that, had he voted, he might have entered the voting booth intending to vote for Hillary Clinton only to change his mind at the last moment to vote for Donald Trump. He thinks the president might have won because in a classic choosing of the lesser evil, Americans preferred the “unscripted impulsive lies of Trump better than the conniving scripted lies of Clinton.”

Some women voted for Hillary because she was a woman and some men for Mr. Trump because he was a man running against her, but in this scenario sexual differences weren’t as crucial as how those differences were embraced by the angry campaign rhetoric, mixed with left-wing identity politics and right-wing resentment over being called a “deplorable.” This continues to tear apart attempts at intellectual dialogue on the actual differences between men and women.

Mr. Peterson’s best-selling book, “12 Rules for Life,” tells men “to stand up straight with your shoulders back,” and “accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.” He warns against getting stuck in the “unconscious paradise of childhood,” and as the stern moralist tells them to learn from Old Testament stories, beginning with Moses and those famous original 10 rules.

Jordan Peterson is not a fan of either contender of 2016. It’s the identity politics, which Hillary defends, that he loathes. He thinks identity politics corrupts the culture at a time when men, both white and not, need a strong moral doctrine to guide them through their lives and in their relationships with women. (#MeToo-ers could find illumination here, too, but they won’t.)

Political correctness perpetuates everything fraudulent about sexual nature, he teaches. The shoddy thinking of “confirmation bias,” which reinforces trendy ideas without proof or evidence, ruins everything it touches. He has particular scorn for mandated use of “gender-neutral” pronouns and refuses to use them despite academic pressure and legal pressure to do so.

Prof. Peterson is tarred for his ideas with inflammatory distortion. He is accused of sexism, racism and fascism, and it’s clear from the slurs that the left fears those ideas, beginning with an acknowledgement of the crucial and obvious biological differences between men and women, to his respect for scientific evidence, the free speech that enables debate, and his appreciation for the great books, ranging from Socrates and Solzhenitsyn to the Bible.

In the Atlantic magazine, Caitlin Flanagan argues that the left is trying to “unperson” him because he is influencing young people with intellectual “kryptonite” against identity politics, and his emphasis on how to think rather than what to think.

The young men on campus contemptuous of safe spaces with cookies and coloring books to soothe anxiety, who despair of “trigger warnings” preventing insight into the human condition, who despise rabble-rousers shouting down visiting lecturers with a different point of view, who are weary of the LGBTQ domination of discussions of morality, find the professor and others of the “intellectual dark web” of ideas refreshing. Theirs is “a parallel curriculum” to what they’re fed on campus and in the mainstream media.

Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan, among others, are bound together not through their politics, which are extremely varied, but through their collective iconoclasm and dedication to the free flow of ideas often giving voice to what many feel in their gut but haven’t found the language to express. They communicate through radio shows, podcasts, YouTube, videos, speeches and interviews with a vast audience online and in sold-out lecture halls. They talk mostly to men, but women are beginning to listen to Mr. Peterson’s common sense, too.

The left hates him and is often irrational in its opposition because it has “entered its decadent late phase, and it is deeply vulnerable,” writes Caitlin Flanagan. People who respond to Jordan Peterson aren’t looking for ideology but ideas. Amen to that.


Muslim couple are denied Swiss citizenship because they refuse to shake hands with members of the opposite sex

The Swiss city of Lausanne has blocked a Muslim couple's bid to become Swiss nationals over their refusal to shake hands with members of the opposite sex.

The municipality refused to grant the couple's citizenship application due to 'their lack of respect for gender equality' Lausanne mayor Gregoire Junod said.

He said a municipal commission had questioned the couple several months ago to determine if they met the criteria for citizenship, but had determined in the ruling made public Friday that they missed the mark on integration.

He did not to divulge the couple's nationalities or other identifying details, but said they 'did not shake hands with people of the opposite sex.'

They also 'showed great difficulty in answering questions asked by people of the opposite sex,' he said.

Some devout Muslims argue that Islam does not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex, with the exception of certain immediate family members.

Junod pointed out that freedom of belief and religion is enshrined in the laws of the Canton of Vaud, which encompasses Lausanne, but 'religious practice does not fall outside the law,' he stressed.

His vice-mayor, Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand, who was on the three-member commission that questioned the couple described himself as  'very satisfied with the decision' to deny the couple's application. 'The constitution and equality between men and women prevails over bigotry,' he said.

The couple now has 30 days to appeal the decision.

This is not the first time refused handshakes have stirred tensions in Switzerland.

In 2016, there was national uproar over revelations that a middle school in the north of the country had allowed two Syrian brothers not to shake their teachers' hands after they complained that doing so was counter to their religious beliefs if the teacher was a woman.

This ran counter to a deeply entrenched Swiss tradition of students shaking their teacher's hands as a sign of respect, and amid the outcry regional authorities quickly overruled the school's decision.

Yesterday, a Muslim woman won a discrimination case in Sweden after she was rejected during a job interview for refusing to shake the hand of the interviewer.

Farah Alhajeh, 24, had been invited to interview for a job as an interpreter in Uppsala in May, 2016.

Upon arrival she told the male interviewer that she did not want to shake his hand, citing religious rules of her faith.

Instead, she greeted him by placing a hand over her heart, as is common among Muslims of similar persuasion.

She told the Swedish Labour Court that the interviewer, an executive at the company, had become red in the face and told her: 'Here, everyone must shake hands'. Ms Alhajeh claims she was then frogmarched out of the office and told the interview was over.

'As soon as I got into the lift I started crying,' she told SVT.  'It had never happened to me before - it didn't feel good at all. It was awful'. She told the broadcaster she had then decided to report the company to Sweden's Discrimination Ombudsman, who took her case to court.


Can poetry survive outrage culture?

A poet has been hauled over the coals for a pretty inoffensive poem.

In the age of online outrage we need publishers to have the courage to stand by the pieces they choose to publish and not abandon writers to the social-media mob. Sadly, few seem up to the challenge.

The Nation magazine recently issued an apology for a poem it published in July called ‘How-To’ by the poet Anders Carlson-Wee. Carlson-Wee is a white man who wrote the poem in so-called black vernacular. It is meant to be from the perspective of a homeless person begging for money.

The poem caused a storm on social media, where it was labelled ‘ableist’ (he used the word ‘crippled’) and the poet was accused of donning ‘blackface’. The two poetry editors at the Nation who first accepted the poem for publication, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, completely backed away from the work and published an apology, which they posted above Carlson-Wee’s poem. They said they had made ‘a serious mistake’, were sorry ‘for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem’, and planned to ‘earn the trust back’ of their readers. You would think they were talking about crimes against humanity.

When you actually read the poem, it seems fairly innocuous. It is pretty clear Carlson-Wee was not trying to caricature or demean anybody in any way. If anything, it comes across as an attempt to be kind and empathetic. Which makes the over-the-top apology by the two editors look even more ridiculous.

Sadly, Carlson-Wee also issued an apology on Twitter, which read like a confession at a North Korean showtrial. I have sympathy for him. If you’re not used to dealing with conflict, being attacked by an angry crowd on Twitter can be quite disorientating. He seems a gentle soul who truly meant well, and someone who is probably particularly sensitive to accusations of bigotry. His apology indicates how deeply his faith in his own work has been shaken, showing how much free expression can be hampered by the vitriol of social media.

People should be free to write from whatever perspective they like. And, crucially, they also need to be able to rely on their publishers to defend their work, or at least their decision to publish it. Grace Schulman, a former Nation poetry editor, argued this very point in the New York Times, in response to the ‘How-To’ furore:

‘During the 35 years that I edited poetry for the Nation magazine… some poems, and some critical views, enraged our readers and drove them to drop their subscriptions. But never did we apologise for a poem we published. We saw it as part of our job to provoke our readers – a mission we took especially seriously in serving the magazine’s absolute devotion to a free press.’

Art of any kind should have the freedom to be outrageous and shocking; it doesn’t always have to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. But in the case of the ‘How-To’ saga, the least disturbing thing about it was the actual poem itself.


‘People want to feel safe’: Nigel Farage warns of ‘disconnect’ in Australian immigration debate

THE man dubbed “Mr Brexit” will meet with “senior Australian political figures” next month as he warns of a similar upheaval Down Under if mainstream politicians don’t address concerns over immigration.

Nigel Farage said while Australia may not have the same “cause célèbre for fundamental change in direction” as Brexit, the record low primary vote for the major parties and rise of minor parties showed the populist revolution sweeping the western world was “already affecting your country”.

The former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party and Member of the European Parliament played a major role in the 2016 vote to leave the European Union and is a close friend of US President Donald Trump.

Speaking hours after Sudanese migrant Salih Khater allegedly drove a Ford Fiesta into cyclists and pedestrians on Westminster Bridge outside London’s Houses of Parliament in a suspected terrorist attack, Mr Farage said people “want to feel safer”.

“What we do know is there are nearly 700 active investigations into potential terrorist groups (in the UK),” he said. “Europe has got a problem. The truth of it is you wouldn’t want to start from here.”

He said through European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy in 2015 of “saying anyone that wants to come can come”, Europe had “imported an awful lot of people who wish that civilisation harm”.

“We’re in a very tough place,” he said. “Where do we go from here? Well number one is a massively increased security bill, a change in many ways to how we live. Look at London, we’ve now built walls on our bridges to protect people walking over them.”

But he said it was important to engage with the broader Muslim community. “There are some people who want to sort of go to war with the entire religion of Islam, and I’ve always argued strongly against that,” he said.

“I’m all for us defending our way of life, the only warning I give is that if we appear to be embarking on a religious war, that would be a mistake.”

Former UK Foreign Secretary and leadership hopeful Boris Johnson sparked controversy last week by saying Muslim women wearing the full face veil looked like “bank robbers” and “letter boxes”.

Mr Farage, who defended the comments, said it was encouraging that “a lot of Muslim scholars and commentators have now put their heads up and said, this is not in Koranic law, it’s not doing us any good”.

He said Australia had been “slightly insulated by geography” from the global political shift reflected in the election of Mr Trump and the rise of populist governments like Italy’s Five Star-Northern League coalition.

“But you’re still very much part of the western world,” he said.

“Your political class are tempted by the new global order, just as the Americans, British and the Europeans have been. I think the message really is number one, understand what’s happened.

“Understand that Brexit, Trump and (Italian deputy leader Matteo) Salvini are not one-off flashes in the pan, they’re actually part of a big, fundamental societal change that is taking place, and understand that those changes could happen in Australia, too.

“The internet has given people terrific empowerment to make change if they feel the established order is not representing them. So I would say to Australia, don’t think this can’t happen to you, because it can.”

Mr Farage said it was about whether people felt the political class in the capital cities were representing their “thoughts, hopes and aspirations”.

“What the change in the Australian voting pattern is suggesting is that there are people in Australia feeling the same thing too,” he said. “The mainstream can of course stop the rise of smaller parties, if they’re more in tune and more connected with ordinary folks.”

The Brexit vote “would not have happened without the immigration issue” and there was a “very similar disconnect” between the political class and the public in Australia on the topic, he said.

Successive polls have revealed a growing unease with Australia’s record high immigration intake. A survey last year by the Australian Population Research Institute found 74 per cent of voters said the country does not need more people.

A Newspoll earlier this year revealed 56 per cent of voters believe the existing immigration cap of 190,000 a year is too high, and an Essential Media poll found 64 per cent believe the level of immigration over the past 10 years has been too high.

In 2016-17, net overseas migration to the country came in at 262,500 people, 27.3 per cent higher than the previous year. Australia’s population surged past the 25 million milestone at 11:01pm on August 7, sparking fresh calls to ease the strain on Sydney and Melbourne.

“I find it fascinating that even in a country like yours, which many of us up here hold in high regard because its points-based system and all the rest of it, that even there it’s this disconnect,” he said.

“You’ve had your terrorist attacks, you’ve had your problems that have occurred down there. People want to feel safer, they want to feel that the people coming into the country are going to pretty much absorb themselves within the existing culture.”

He partly blamed the media for the growing discontent.

“People’s faith in the mainstream media is collapsing — take CNN, since their non-stop, 18-month battle to get rid of President Trump, their ratings have fallen off a cliff,” he said.

“People are voting with their feet when it comes to newspapers, radio and TV, and I think there is this perception that big business, big media, big politics, they’re all in it together.”

Asked whether he had an opinion on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Farage said he didn’t “want to get drawn into individuals within Australian politics”.

“All I would say is that I was very disappointed during the referendum that so many Australian political figures seemed to argue that the UK should stay part of the European Union when clearly the freeing of the UK from the EU should be a very good thing for Australian and UK relations,” he said.

In the lead-up to the June 23, 2016 referendum, both Mr Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten said they would prefer the UK to stay part of the EU. After the Brexit vote, Mr Turnbull “consoled” outgoing UK leader David Cameron.

Former PM Tony Abbott bucked the conservative trend and supported the Remain side, but after the poll appeared to backflip, telling a London audience he was “quietly thrilled that the British people have resolved to claim back their country”.

“I found it extraordinary how all the global politicians, Australia included, got behind this, ‘Let’s keep the EU, let’s keep the global order’,” Mr Farage said.

“But it’s happened, and whilst Mrs May is not doing the job very well, the prospects for our two nations with Brexit are much better than they’ve been for decades.”

It’s generally thought the chances of a free-trade deal between Australia and the UK after March 29, 2019 would be better under a so-called “hard Brexit” as opposed to a “soft Brexit”, in which the UK effectively remains a member of the EU in all but name.

“An independent UK is able to choose its own friends,” Mr Farage said.

“We’re able to strike our own trade deals, we’re able to form our own relationships. I think for many of us who are big Commonwealth supporters, which I very much am, the last few decades have been very frustrating.

“We’ve watched the UK getting ever closer to the European political project to the detriment of our global relationships. I’m optimistic, I think we can do trade deals together, there can be a new kind of renaissance, if you like, of the English-speaking peoples of the world.”

Mr Farage would not reveal which politicians he planned to meet on his tour of Australia next month, where he will speak at a series of events billed as an “entertaining evening with Nigel Farage”. He said we wanted to meet fisherman Rex Hunt and cricketer Dennis Lillee.

“They’re my great Australian heroes,” he said.

“All I can say at this stage is there are some quite senior Australian political figures that I will be meeting on my trip, but I can’t disclose those names right at the moment,” he said.

“But clearly there are figures in Australian politics I do look up to from previous times. I thought John Howard was a remarkable man who I’ve had the privilege to meet, but in terms of current day-to-day politics I want to be slightly careful.”



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


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