The scandal involving French presidential candidate Francois Fillon seems well-timed to fuel the fevered imaginings of conspiracy theorists:
Most people believe in conspiracy theories because they want to do so rather than because the evidence compels belief. Again, this brings the slight consolation that events are under human control, even if that control is malign. And, of course, the conspiracy theorist thinks he has penetrated appearances to reach into the reality of things, which makes him superior to those who have not.
The politically correct became enraged yet again recently when a judge observed that drunk women make themselves more vulnerable to rapists:
Everyone accepts that it is no excuse for a burglar that a house’s front door has been left open; moreover, a householder has a perfect right to leave his front door open if he so wishes. But equally no one would say that a householder who does not want to be burgled acts prudently if he insists upon exercising his perfect right (a much more perfect right than that to get drunk in public) to leave his front door open.
If you read only one Dalrymple piece this week, I recommend it be this one in City Journal: the story of two English football players charged with rape for engaging in seemingly consensual intercourse with a young woman. Though Dalrymple finds their prosecution absurd, he eloquently indicts almost every individual and group involved, from the principals to the various public institutions to the commentators.
Dalrymple’s definition of political correctness as “communist propaganda writ small” has been widely quoted across the Internet. In Taki’s Magazine, he expands on the idea:
For the greater political correctness’ violation of common sense, the better—at least if its goal is power over men’s minds and conduct. In this sense it is like Communist propaganda of old: The greater the disparity between the claims of that propaganda and the everyday experience of those at whom it was directed, the greater the humiliation suffered by the latter, especially when they were obliged to repeat it, thus destroying their ability to resist, even in the secret corners of their heart. That is why the politically correct insist that everyone uses their language: Unlike what the press is supposed to do, the politically correct speak power to truth.
In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple takes an American professor to task in the harshest way one can criticize an academic these days: he simply quotes the man’s own writing (below)…
Antiracist writing assessment ecologies explicitly pay close attention to the relationships that make up the ecology, relationships among people, discourses, judgments, artifacts created and circulated. They ask students to reflect upon them, negotiate them, and construct them. Antiracist writing assessment ecologies also self-consciously (re)produce power arrangements in order to examine and perhaps change them. When designing an antiracist writing ecology, a teacher can focus students’ attention on a few of the ecological elements…which inter-are. This means addressing others, such as power relations and the ecological places where students problematize their existential assessment situations.
The British Medical Journal has been asking doctors they profile to describe themselves in three words. Dalrymple’s reaction:
One had the depressing feeling that the [interviewees] had been given, and accepted, a buzzword generator of self-praise: no one demurred, no one was, for example, bad-tempered, mean-spirited or egoistic. There wasn’t even a gossip among them, let alone a writer of poison-pen letters. Perhaps they were all of the things that they said they were, but one could not help wishing that it was someone else who said it of them; moreover, they made ditch-water seem like champagne.
This piece in Taki’s Magazine argues for the avoidance of exaggeration in our language:
Intemperance of expression is the enemy of distinctions in meaning.
Also note the important point on the use of the word “resistance” by the left vis-a-vis President Trump:
…as if the United States had instantaneously turned into a land where it was dangerous to express a contrary opinion to that of the president’s, as if opponents were being rounded up and put in camps, as if it required singular bravery to express dislike or even disgust for him. I suspect that, in parts of the country at least, and among a certain kind of people, it would have required more moral courage to admit that you voted for him than to compare him to Bluebeard or Genghis Khan.
The word resistance is indicative of self-congratulation and grandiosity, and must be rather galling for those for whom the choice to submit or resist is or ever was a question of life and death. Opposition is a normal and salutary process in a civilized polity, accepted by politicians even if, in his heart, no one in power really likes to be opposed; resistance is something else altogether.
This review of the Netflix series The Crown briefly reverses the view toward the viewers themselves…
…what human beings set up as the dream of perfection they want also to pull down to their own level. We exalt only to humiliate; pedestals are erected to be stood on by feet of clay. Our gods and goddesses live on an Olympus in which sordid intrigue flourishes, ambition overcomes principle, and unhappiness is as much the lot of the gods as it is of lesser beings.
…and offers an important corrective to the image of the royal family that prevails, at least among us rebel colonists west of the Atlantic:
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, who has reigned since 1953 as Elizabeth II, was thrust into the role of heir to the throne at the age of 10, and that of monarch at age 26, all without choice, consultation, or personal inclination. She was reared to be a function incarnate. Her wishes counted for nothing, except in the most trivial matters. Supremely unfree, bound to obey dictates of the government that acted in her name, Elizabeth was nonetheless grovelled to as if she were the most fearsome dictator.
Imbued with an iron sense of duty by an adored father who died at a comparatively early age,…she was obliged repeatedly to make emollient speeches and appear always to be deeply interested in the dullest of dignitaries. The highest standard of living in the world was probably insufficient recompense for the sacrifice—that of herself as an individual human being—that she had to make.
In Salisbury Review Dalrymple expands on his recent conversation about college students with a taxi driver:
I asked him what the town was like, whether – for example – it was quiet.
‘When the students are away,’ he said.
‘And when they’re here?’
‘Are they nice, the students?’
‘They’re evil bastards.’
‘They can’t all be like that,’ I said.
‘About seventy per cent of them.’
In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple comments on Meryl Streep’s recent imposition of her political opinions on the rest of us. He mentions his irritation at the attention given to actors’ opinions and the adolescent nature of President-elect Trump’s reply, and then points out a superior source of commentary: taxi drivers…
I was once in Singapore trying to catch a taxi. You cannot just hail a taxi on the street in Singapore, you have to go to a taxi stand. This I did, but still no taxi would stop for me. The taxis swept past me as if I did not exist. Then someone came and hailed a taxi about two feet to my right. A taxi stopped immediately and took him. Was this some kind of discrimination, in the politically correct sense of the word? No: When I stood two feet to the right of where I had been standing, a taxi stopped for me immediately.
I told the driver of my experience and he, Chinese without a great deal of English, replied, “Singapore velly, velly law.”
Have you read anything in the Financial Times, or any other serious newspaper, that so succinctly and accurately sums up a country or society?
Take another example, more recent. I was in an English university town where I took a taxi from the station to the university. We fell to talking, the driver and I, and to keep our conversation going I asked him whether the students were nice.
“No,” he said, “they’re evil bastards.”
This judgment was so spontaneous, so deeply felt, and so obviously the fruit of what sociologists call lived experience, that it could only have been true.