Conor Friedersdorf Is No One’s Friend

Looks harmless doesn’t he?

Over the weekend Conor Friedersdorf wrote this extremely verbose long form piece (which thankfully will only be read by perhaps 1% of America) on why the Atlantic was wrong to fire Kevin Williamson, the “Hang ’em High” messiah of anti-abortion RW fanatics.

I really have to quit Ken White @popehat– he keeps exposing me to horrific crapology like this.   Friedersdorf is the perfect examplar of what is wrong with the right.  Just because Allahpundit, Patterico, Iowahawk, Frum, Will, Douthat, etc have run from Trump like scalded cats doesn’t absolve them from partial responsibility for Trump’s election.  Neither does it make them your friends.  In its purest form this kind of “tolerance” of RW eumemes leads to what I call the Ann Coulter argument: that abortion doctors get murdered because liberals have left anti-abortionists with no other recourse than murder.  This also the core argument (although much diluted with the “milk of human kindness”) of Alice Dreger, NA Christakis, Jon Haidt, Scott Alexander and David Brooks.

For years the rightist intelligentsia has been pandering to the GOP base– whispering sweet nothings into their ears like, you are entitled to your own beliefs, and all ideas are created equal while all facts are not.  Friedersdorf proposes the new mantra of the soi-disant moderates– even if RW ideology is pure unmitigated and dangerous crap, it deserves respect.  What we are seeing, in congress at least as a microcosm, is the breakdown of normative democracy.   I wrote about it here, Constitutional Hardball and the Calculus of Selfishness.  The last time socio-cultural norms broke down in this country we had a civil war.

Now I do not know what will happen– perhaps a civil war, perhaps a putsch by the minority party, or even a scifi separation into Jesusland and the Rim States— but I can tell you what will never happen– a return to a 90% white electorate.  There are a lot of reasons for this including cultural evolution and demographic evolution and social physics and advancing technology.  But the rightist intellectuals have simply never had the nads to explain this inexorable and intransigent fact to their base.  IPOF, they are stone-cowards terrified of the very humans they claim to represent.  I think it shows a profound lack of respect for their base.  Or maybe just deep pragmatism– that Red/Blue Brain Hypothesis is true and redbrains are just less intelligent.

Welcome to the Campus Wars

Commodore Perry opens Japan to American trade by force.

I keep saying– this isnt really about free speech.  This is about opening the brutal marketplace of excellent ideas (aka academe) to conservative sales pitches.  Is selling stuff covered under free speech?  Milo and Coulter, MacDonald and Murray and Spencer are not academics — they are paid shills for conservative “think tanks”.  The correlation of educational attainment and liberal voting patterns is the single most significant fallout from the 2016 election.  The GOP is shriven of its intellectual capital, and the global science marches this weekend were basically anti-Trump marches.  If conservatism can’t establish a beachhead in blue academe, its pretty much all over but the crying.

Useful idiots like Alice Dreger and Jonathan Haidt are all for letting conservative ideas enter the debate.  They remind me of chinese mandarins and japanese shoguns tittering and smirking behind their fans at the hairy smelly uncouth barbarians at the gate.  They shouldn’t be so sure that intellectually non-competitive conservative ideas cant gain traction when backed by the big guns of nationalism and capitalism.

After, hubris and confirmation bias are the main reasons we wound up with Trump.