Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Not all bad behavior, even when directed at a member of a minority group, is racist

But that seems to be a reality that eludes the internet mob.

Last week, Natasha Tynes, a commuter using the Washington metropolitan area’s Metro system, tweeted a photo of an African-American woman in a Metro uniform eating on a train—something that’s not allowed. She tagged Metro’s official Twitter account in her complaint, and later, gave Metro more details to help identify the employee.

Let me be clear: What Tynes did is reprehensible. She could have very well cost this woman her job—and what’s more, she made her complaint by posting a photo of the woman without her permission on a public internet platform. As far as we know, Tynes had no knowledge about what the woman was going through, and what circumstances she was dealing with that day. (Her union has since said Metro employees typically have only 20 minutes between jobs, and she needed to travel to the next place she was slated to work.)

But none of this means Tynes was motivated by racial animosity toward this woman whose eating offense apparently angered her—yet that is the assumption that many of Tynes’ detractors are making, and the assumption that led to her book deal being canceled.

And for that, she’s been smeared as a racist.

On the book review site Goodreads, people trashed her forthcoming book as revenge, giving it the lowest rating of one star. User Kali Villa-Leblanc wrote: “Written by a disgusting human being who would take time out of her day to put a black woman’s livelihood at risk for no reason. Wouldn’t read this book if it was being given out for free. Wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who isn’t a privileged, racist, psychopath.”

User Chris Leo wrote: “This book is written by a truly evil woman who tried to get another black woman get fired for eating in Metro,” and user Vanessa said: “Natasha Tynes is a writer without empathy or humanity, a contempt at best and vicious malice for black woman at worst.”

Tynes did apologize, reportedly tweeting, “I apologize for a tweet I posted earlier today, which I have since deleted. I am truly sorry.” She later deleted her Twitter account.

Soon, her book “They Called Me Wyatt,” which had been scheduled for publication June 11, per Amazon, was canceled, with the publishing companies behind her book also accusing Tynes of racism:

If Tynes had lost her book deal for being a terrible neighbor or a humorless tattletale, fine.

But that’s not what happened—and federal lawmakers weighing in only makes this worse. Because the lesson here seems to be that any negative comment about any minority person is racist.

If that’s the standard, race relations will only get worse in our country.

Of course, make no mistake: Racism still exists in the United States. Just ask Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who delivered a powerful speech in 2016 about how he felt his skin color made him a target of police at times: “In the course of one year, I’ve been stopped seven times by law enforcement,” the South Carolina senator stated.

But there’s no contradiction between racism still existing and the conclusion that not every negative comment directed at a minority person is racist in nature.

The end of racism is stopping judging people by the color of their skin, not stopping judging people of certain races or ethnic groups entirely. It’s crucial to our American identity to judge and look at people as individuals, not fall into the trap of identity politics and tribalism.

Tynes’ critics may be celebrating now. But in the long run, they’ve hurt, not helped, race relations in the United States.


Muslim terrorist training camp found in Alabama

Authorities have discovered a second homegrown Muslim terrorist training facility owned by a terrorist organization presided over by the son of jihadist iman Siraj Ibn Wahhaj.

The FBI found the camp near Tuskegee, Alabama, and reportedly described it as containing a “makeshift military-style obstacle course.” Details are few.

Researchers at WPMI-TV, an NBC affiliate in Mobile, Alabama, uncovered the existence of the second facility after combing through legal documents and reported on it April 29 but the national media only picked up the story in recent days.

The April 29 report states:

NBC 15 News uncovered a heavily redacted court file connecting this property to an alleged terrorist training camp 1400 miles away in New Mexico. Using clues from the cryptic court filing, we found land records showing the Alabama property is owned by accused terrorist Siraj Wahhaj. The recently unsealed federal search warrant says on this two acre Tuskegee property the terror suspects built a second compound.

Researchers concluded that “the items discovered on the Macon County property mirrored those recovered in New Mexico.”

The TV station reports it “found tires, trash, children’s toys and respirators,” adding the FBI “believes the group spent at least several weeks here.”

Federal authorities appear to have made the Alabama connection with this group back in December 2017 when Siraj Wahhaj crashed his 2004 Ford Explorer on 1-65 in rural Chilton County, Alabama about an hour and a half away from the compound. The FBI says there were five guns in that car, a bullet-proof vest, and a bag of ammunition. Investigators say Wahhaj and a friend were allowed to remove the firearms from the Explorer into a box truck. They told police they were going camping 1,400 miles away in New Mexico. Eight months later, the desert compound was raided.

In March a federal grand jury in New Mexico indicted five Muslims who, among other things, allegedly trained children to carry out spree killings, formally charging them with terrorism-related offenses, conspiracy to commit murder, and kidnapping.

The defendants, all in their mid-thirties to early forties, are Jany Leveille, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhanah Wahhaj, and Lucas Morton. Leveille reportedly used to work at Imam Wahhaj’s terrorist-linked mosque, Masjid At-Taqwa, in Brooklyn, New York. All five co-conspirators are related by blood or marriage.

The quintet was arrested after authorities found 11 hungry, filthy children living in squalid conditions in a makeshift militant training compound in Amalia, Taos County, a remote part of New Mexico, during a raid by local police on Aug. 3, 2018. The children were being trained to commit school shootings, according to court documents. The remains of a three-year-old disabled boy, since identified as the son of defendant Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, were discovered on the property which was filled with weapons. The indictment accused the defendants of kidnapping the special-needs boy and transporting him from Georgia to New Mexico. The defendants were previously indicted on weapons and conspiracy charges on Aug. 31, 2018.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s father of the same name is a notorious Muslim holy man. Wahhaj Sr. was close to Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” who orchestrated the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 that left seven people (including an unborn baby) dead. Imam Wahhaj testified as a character witness for the sheikh, calling him a “respected scholar ... bold ... [and] a strong preacher of Islam,” and that he felt honored to have hosted Rahman at his mosque, according to Discover The Networks.

Imam Wahhaj used to be a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) national advisory board. He offered an opening prayer at an event called “Jumah at the DNC” at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and has been called the spiritual adviser of jihad sympathizer and Bernie Sanders supporter Linda Sarsour. The openly anti-Semitic Sarsour sits on the board of the Women’s March organization and openly admits membership in America’s largest Marxist group, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The terrorist cell’s religious inspiration has been identified as Leveille, who is Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s wife and an illegal alien from Haiti.

According to FBI Special Agent Travis Taylor, Leveille depicted herself to children at the armed camp as a kind of prophet and claimed she was receiving divine messages from the “Angel Gabriel.” It is a tenet of Islam that Gabriel, an archangel, dictated the Koran to Muhammad.

Leveille and her husband “sought to recruit and train persons, including minor children, to be prepared to engage in jihad and train an army of jihad and to die as martyrs,” Taylor previously testified.

Leveille’s husband allegedly trained the children in the camp in military techniques, including the use of firearms and rapid reloading. He also reportedly told the children that “jihad” means killing non-Muslims.

The investigation in Alabama apparently continues.


Political Correctness Is Destroying Philadelphia

When most Americans think of Philadelphia—although probably fewer today than ever before, given the low level of history education in American schools—they probably think of the founding of the United States, the Liberty Bell, and the city’s nickname, the City of Brotherly Love.

Having been to Philadelphia at least 20 times, I am among the many Americans who have warm feelings toward America’s founding city. My daily radio show has a large and enthusiastic listener base there, and I have a son who lives nearby.

So, it is with no joy that I write about the transformation of Philadelphia into something far removed from the principles of the country it helped birth. Philadelphia’s leading institutions—such as the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Flyers—provide depressing evidence.

We’ll begin with the Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania, one of the country’s Ivy League colleges. When Harvard professor Steven Pinker, a liberal and an atheist, recently described American universities as a “laughingstock,” he could have been referring specifically to the University of Pennsylvania, which, among other Philadelphia institutions, is committed to dismantling American and Western civilization.

For decades, a portrait of William Shakespeare, the greatest English-language playwright who ever lived and the most widely read playwright in the world, hung over the main staircase of Fisher-Bennett Hall, home to Penn’s English department.

Given Shakespeare’s stature as an English-language writer, what other writer would an English department so honor? But that question only makes sense to those who believe that excellence should dictate what writer’s portrait should hang in a university English department.

The idea that excellence is all that matters in assessing artists is fundamental to Western civilization and is a primary reason for its ascent. It took a long time for humanity to transcend ethnic, racial, tribal, and economic criteria for assessing art.

But the English department at the University of Pennsylvania, dominated as it is by those who equate Western civilization with “white supremacy” (aka leftists), voted to remove the Shakespeare portrait.

As reported in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university’s student newspaper, “The English Department voted to relocate and replace the portrait … in order to represent a more diverse range of writers, according to an emailed statement from [Department Chair Jed] Esty, who declined to be interviewed.”

A few years later, in December 2016, students took down the portrait.

In its place they put up a portrait of Audre Lorde, a black feminist lesbian poet who died in 1992.

Equally nihilistic is a story out of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. On Aug. 9, 2017, tenured Penn Law professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego School of Law professor Larry Alexander co-authored an opinion piece titled “Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.”

Its thesis was that the rejection of American bourgeois middle-class culture is the primary reason for most social ills in America today:

[American] culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

Within a few weeks, a petition was signed by 4,000 people calling for Wax’s dismissal, and the dean of Penn Law, Ted Ruger, wrote an op-ed in The Daily Pennsylvanian, ostensibly about Charlottesville but really about Wax, in which he implied her views were “divisive, even noxious.”

Most significantly, he wrote, “It is important that I state my own personal view that as a scholar and educator I reject emphatically any claim that a single cultural tradition is better than all others” (referring to Wax’s position that those bourgeois values are superior values).

After hundreds of her colleagues demanded Wax be fired, Ruger forbade her from teaching any first-year required courses at Penn Law.

Now to the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the world’s greatest. The orchestra recently received more than 500 applications for the position of assistant conductor.

According to my Philly sources, the four finalists included only one male (a black male, for the record), despite the fact that males make up the overwhelming majority of orchestra conductors in the world and therefore the overwhelming majority of the applicants for the Philadelphia Orchestra position.

There is little reason to believe that, as talented as they may be, the four were chosen on the basis of artistic excellence alone. The orchestra’s gifted conductor, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, has declared this the year of the woman conductor and the year of the woman composer.

Most musicians are on the left, but Nezet-Seguin makes it more obvious than most. In a recent concert, the Philadelphia Orchestra featured the premiere of Philadelphia Voices, “a political rant put to musical garbage,” as some Philadelphians associated with the orchestra described it to me.

In the fifth movement, named “My House Is Full of Black People,” the black teen narrator chants: “The county is full of black people/ All wanting to be heard/ While old white men draw lines on maps/ To shut all of them up.” Later in the movement, he yells, “If you would all just f—ing listen!”

And this year, the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team removed the statue of American singer Kate Smith that the team had erected in 1987. Her rendition of “God Bless America” was played at every Flyers home game since 9/11, and she herself sang it for the Flyers in the 1970s.

But last month, the team learned that Smith had sung a song with racist lyrics—“That’s Why Darkies Were Born”—in 1931. That Paul Robeson, the great black singer—and enthusiastic supporter of Josef Stalin—also recorded the song doesn’t matter. To the Flyers (and New York Yankees), Smith’s whiteness undid all the good she did for America.

Will Philadelphia next remove the Liberty Bell? After all, it was commissioned by slave owners and inscribed with a verse from the Bible.


John Stuart Mill warned of the coming ‘social tyranny’ that is taking root on social media

In John Stuart Mill’s magnum opus, On Liberty, which provides one of the most compelling defenses of free speech in human history, the philosopher warned how a tyranny of the majority could impose censorship that would be “more formidable” than even governmental censorship and that it could “enslav[e] the soul” with little room for escape. Mill said, “Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of prevailing opinion and feeling…” Are we in danger of a social tyranny on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, where members of the community are being singled out and silenced because they hold unpopular views?

Mill wrote, “[W]hen society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannising are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

Are we in danger of a social tyranny on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, where members of the community are being singled out and silenced because they hold unpopular views?

A recent example that has garnered a lot of attention recently has been actor James Woods being suspended from Twitter. Woods’ apparent crime? He paraphrased Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous response to Oliver Wendell Holmes’ criticism of Plato in 1875, where he warned against crossing giants: “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

Woods’ iteration was in reaction to the outcome of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. That, after three years of investigation by intelligence agencies, the Justice Department and eventually, Mueller, no coordination or conspiracy by President Donald Trump, his campaign or any American with Russia was found.

Woods wrote in April, “If you try to kill the King, you better not miss. #HangThemAll.”

For the duration of the Russia collusion investigation, critics of the President have routinely gone on social media to pronounce that Trump was guilty of treason, a capital crime. The #TrumpTreason hashtag remains a popular locale to call the President a traitor.

It turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, who hired via law firm Perkins Coie Fusion GPS and former British spy Christopher Steele to pen the allegations that Trump and his campaign were Russian agents who had coordinated the hack of the DNC and publishing the emails on Wikileaks.

But, apparently, if you suggest that those who pursued the false investigation of Trump were guilty of treason and should be punished accordingly, that can be a bannable or suspendable offense on Twitter. The #Treason hashtag includes a lot of posts like that, but also goes in the opposite direction and similarly declare the President a traitor.

The question is not whether or not treason should be punished by death, for it clearly is under federal law, 18 U.S. Code § 2381, which states “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death…”

So, if you declare that somebody is a traitor of the U.S., you are at least implying they should be executed. Let’s be clear. It is a capital crime. Woods was explicit. He thought the investigation into Trump, based on concocted evidence, was treason and should be punished accordingly. But, so what?

If somebody reacts to a murder and there is a prosecution, and that person were to take to social media advocating the death penalty for that capital crime, is that an incitement to violence, or a call for the rule of law to be vindicated? Or, what if somebody advocates for a war to be declared by Congress on a country in another instance, mindful that thousands or millions of people could die?

The point is it’s all pretty subjective. As noted above, it is extremely common in political discourse for opponents to accuse each other of being traitors. It happens a lot. Even if you think Woods was over the top, it does not seem to rise to any level that would merit a suspension on a social media platform. But that’s exactly what happened here.

If anything, that’s pretty tame in comparison to some of the stuff you see online that doesn’t get banned.

In a statement to the Daily Wire, Woods said, “Twitter demanded that I rescind my tweet paraphrasing Emerson. It now seems they have chosen to delete that tweet from my account without my permission. Until free speech is allowed on Twitter, I will not be permitted to participate in our democracy with my voice.”

This is just one example, but it underscores the point that even though Woods had more than 2 million followers on Twitter that took years to build, utter the wrong words and that can come all crashing down. Your business and access to your fans can be cut off.

It is censorship, no question.

To be clear, it is not be censorship by the government. Twitter is a private institution and is not bound by the First Amendment. But it is censorship all the same. And it is not something society has to take lying down.

Now, the White House is getting into gear and urging Americans to document instances where their voices are being silence on social media at http://whitehouse.gov/techbias. The website states, “SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear ‘violations’ of user policies. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.”

The reach of social media is undeniable. A Pew report found 68 percent of adult Americans use Facebook, or over 170 million. 24 percent use Twitter, or about 61 million. The ease of access on our phones and computers has made social media a go-to source for politicians, political parties, pundits, actors, companies and just about everybody to speak their mind.

In every way possible, social media is the “marketplace of ideas” that Mill and others championed. But now it is not upholding the spirit of free speech. Mill wrote, “Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own.”

Mill added, “There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism.” The question for Mill and us today is where that limit is and ought to be placed. Mill called it “the principal question of human affairs.”

Mill laid out his principle, which was that “the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

Now, terms of service on social media platforms like Twitter certainly forbid imminent threats of violence, but they also tend to forbid wishing for physical or other serious harm on others, as well. So, in the Woods example, calling for traitors to be hanged or executed — even though that is a potential punishment for treason under the law — seems like it might run afoul of the terms of use. On the other hand the terms of service that Woods supposedly violated say that the threat must be directed at an “individual or group of people.” “#HangThemAll” may not be explicit enough to warrant a violation. It does not really pose any specific or imminent harm to anyone.

But let me add that even if Woods had said a specific individual, one of the persons who investigated Trump, for example, was guilty of treason and should be tried in a court of law, convicted and punished to the fullest extent allowable, which is death, I do not think it would merit a banning. For nowhere in such an example is he calling for people to take matters into their own hands and is instead calling for due process, even if the reading of the law is not necessarily correct.

If a line needs to be drawn, I’d suggest a specific and/or imminent threat of violence would be a permissible threshold to prevent harm unto others, such as outlined in the Supreme Court decision, Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which the advocacy “is likely to incite or produce such action.”

This may not be something government regulation under our system could really touch upon under the First Amendment. Private institutions like social media platforms need to police themselves. But in their dominant market positions, they have an additional responsibility to society to find, in Mill’s words, the limit of “legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence,” for that limit is “indispensable to a good condition of human affairs.”

And even then, we should be mindful that in politics, words can get heated sometimes. In the marketplace of ideas, sometimes comments will get deleted, and not at all consistently, and if it is unwarranted, individuals in that marketplace will respond.

Mill’s antidote was discussion. Perhaps instead of deleting Woods’ tweet, somebody should have debated with it, and said erroneous prosecutions are not treasonous per se, even against a sitting President. And then those who thought it was traitorous could respond, and there’d be a debate. No harm there.

If on the other hand, we move toward more censorship of political voices, there will certainly be more calls for regulation, especially if the push seems to be aimed toward a one-party system. In April 2018, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey retweeted an article by Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira that called our political discourse a “new civil war,” with Leyden and Teixeira writing, “America can’t afford more political paralysis. One side or the other must win. This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot. But it is a fundamental conflict between two worldviews that must be resolved in short order.”

It called for “Democratic One-Party Rule” in the U.S. as a means of reconciling the nation’s challenges and implementing the progressive agenda.

Dorsey called it a “great read.”

Is that the direction social media is moving now, to silence its political opponents? To create one-party rule? Sounds pretty undemocratic. One-party rule is the tyranny of a majority or a minority, but it does not condone dissent.

These platforms may want to come up with an industry standard that airs on the side of discussion and is more consistent. It’s easier to enforce freedom of speech than it is to effectively monitor billions of communications for fouls. User tools allow individuals to mute others already and allow groups and pages to monitor and remove objectionable communications on their own platforms.

Republics, at their core, are fragile things. To survive, the freedom from political violence must be maintained. It is not something I personally endorse. Nor do I think the power of law should be used for political ends to go after political opponents. But I acknowledge that such factionalism is an implication of free speech, and I’d rather have free speech with factions and its calls for political prosecutions or accusations of treason than a regime of censorship that seeks to police it.

James Madison wrote of this in the Federalist No. 10, “There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests. It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”

Madison continued, “The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government.”

So, too must the freedom from being silenced be maintained. Facebook and Twitter will not cure us of faction, and if that is their intent, they should stop providing platforms to anyone for what they might do with it.

There’s a good balance here and banning “#HangThemAll” may not be it.

So, let’s try free speech. Debate is the solution. As Mill wrote, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”



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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