Lewis and Snark

Recently one or two people in the comments have directed me towards a Jordan Peterson interview at the hands of Helen Lewis on behalf of GQ magazine. Joe Rogan, who’s podcast I listen to, believes Lewis does a good job of it, far better than the hapless Cathy Newman managed in her interview with Peterson. This weekend I decided to watch it, and although Lewis did indeed do a lot better than Newman, it’s still a woeful performance on her part. Here is the interview:

Something Peterson says around the halfway mark sums Lewis up. He says that when she speaks, he doesn’t learn anything about her, he just hears unoriginal, utterly predictable mantra she’s been taught to say. It’s painful to watch in places, what passes for a journalist reciting feminist dogma as if it’s incontrovertible truth. You get the impression you’re watching a spoiled, middle-class brat who thinks she has the right to reshape the world in the image of the bubble she’s been raised in.

Now Lewis is undoubtedly one of the best and brightest in her contemporary field. Like Cathy Newman, she’s a graduate of Oxford University (where else?) so on some measures she’s not thick, but I think her interview with Peterson shows being brightest in the field of modern journalism isn’t saying very much. In terms of observable intellect, the interview is like watching a pub footballer turn out in an El Clasico match. This is not necessarily a problem: Joe Rogan isn’t the brightest either, but he acknowledges it and allows his far brighter guests to speak, which is partly what makes him an excellent podcast host if not a good judge of intelligence in other people. But Lewis clearly believes she’s on an equal footing with Peterson. At around the 40:50 minute mark she confidently states the rationale behind Peterson’s remarks on behaviour in lobsters is “scientifically bollocks”. This from someone who studied English at university. The clearly irritated Peterson, a clinical psychologist, explains to her it is neuroscience 101.

Lewis, being a feminist, believes modern-day societies are organised in patriarchal hierarchies of power, whereas Petersen believes they are more akin to hierarchies of competence. It’s easy to see why the two differ so wildly in their views. In Peterson’s field you need to be competent to rise to the top, whereas in Lewis’ you don’t need to be competent at all. Lewis has looked at her own career path, and those of her peers, and assumed the whole world works like that.

She’s not the only one. James D. Watson, one of the biologists who won a Nobel prize for discovering DNA, uttered wrongthink in 2007 by suggesting ethnic groups differ in IQ levels. His subsequent ostracism forced him to sell his Nobel medal to eat, and for some reason he’s been in the news again recently. This has given progressive journalists an opportunity to condemn him all over again. Steve Sailer summed up one such attempt nicely in the tweet below:


The trouble with modern journalism, as with modern politics, is the brightest people don’t go into it any more. Unfortunately, those who do think they’re the smartest people on the planet, capable of taking on clinical psychologists and offering critiques of the scientific opinions of Nobel prize winners. And they wonder why nobody wants to pay for their output any more.

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The language of ignorance

This has to be one of the most ignorant tweets I’ve seen:

Culture and language are linked only trivially, eh? Where to even begin?

It’s funny how little the metropolitcan elites actually know about the world around them, despite their supposed global outlook.

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Video Nasties

Apparently there’s a video doing the rounds on social media showing the beheading of one of the Scandinavian girls who were murdered in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains a few days ago. Yesterday I read the tweets of people who for some unknown reason had tracked it down and watched it; all severely regretted it, with some sounding as though they’re never going to be able to get the images and screams out of their heads.

I have no idea why people would watch a video like that: if you’re an ordinary person who’s never been exposed to extreme trauma, it’s going to damage you in some way (if not, you’re probably a psychopath). I skimmed a written description of what happens in the video and that was more than enough for me: it’s horrific. It’s a rather odd world we live in where people are kicked off social media for expressing unapproved opinions, but jihadist beheading videos circulate freely.

When I was in Nigeria a video did the rounds on Facebook of two Nigerian men who’d been caught by a mob in Port Hartcourt accused of stealing laptops. They were stripped naked, beaten unconscious, and set on fire. I watched it unawares, as did a few of my colleagues. Later we discussed it, and all of us lost sleep over it. It’s why I avoided watching the video of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot to death, I knew it would damage me psychologically.

Bizarrely, reading Twitter yesterday reminded me of the YouTube phenomenon from some years back called “2 Girls 1 Cup Reactions”. 2 Girls 1 Cup was a horrific video in which two Brazilian girls did some seriously disgusting things with one another; the “reactions” videos filmed people watching it while not showing the actual video (they’re easy to find on YouTube still; the video itself is described here on Wikipedia). People literally threw up on camera while watching it, and I thought any video which makes people do that is one I want to avoid. Similarly, if people are on Twitter saying they’re still shaking hours after watching a real-life snuff film in which a young woman screams for her mother while being beheaded, it’s one I hope I die without seeing.

Finally, whereas the two women were probably a bit naive to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains alone, and their Scandinavian background probably didn’t prepare them well for the dangers in the wider world, I think it’s a bit unfair to criticise them for not expecting to encounter jihadis. Morocco is a pretty safe place, and although tourists are warned parts of the Atlas Mountains are a bit sketchy in terms of being robbed, they are nonetheless a popular destination for thousands of hikers who return unharmed. I guess the girls were more unlucky than naive, although naivety certainly played a part. I said much the same when those cyclists were murdered in Tajikistan earlier this year.

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Fake blues

I’ve previously (1, 2) covered articles written by Kate Mulvey, the 55-year old perpetually single woman who, with her 2:1 in Italian and French from the University of Kent, is just too damned smart for any man. In the comments under the most recent post, someone wrote:

She seems to have a decent enough shtick writing articles for the Mail & Telegraph designed to generate clicks from equally dysfunctional females and us folks seeking a bit of “look at the nutter” entertainment.

Probably not paid enough to live on so there is likely to be a “real” person (worth in excess of £6k) behind this unlikely and highly unappealing persona.

To which I replied:

You know, I’m rather convinced by the theory this is just an alter-ego, dreamed up for the purposes of writing articles. If that was the case, I’d be rather impressed.

I’m becoming more convinced by this theory. Yesterday a reader sent me a link to this article by the same woman:

Looking back at my mid-20s, I lived a glamorous life. A roving reporter, constant parties and a dating diary full of eligible bachelors, I was footloose and fancy free. In my 30s, the landscape started to change. Friends either got married or tightly clutched the hand of a potential husband-to-be.

So far so Mulvey.

Then nine years ago, aged 46, I met Josh through friends at a dinner party. It was an instant mutual attraction. He was a handsome banker and we lived together in his house in Barnes, South-West London.

When he proposed to me one summer in Italy, I was over the moon. I saw us enjoying a life of comfortable companionship. Just the two of us — neither of us had children.

Then, one day, just shy of my 50th birthday, after four years together, something inside me snapped. I realised that Josh was never going to commit and told him the relationship was over.

In the the first article I fisked she said she broke off a year-long relationship with a chap called Phil when she was 50. She also said she’d never been enagaged. In her second article she said she came out of a seven-year relationship “the wrong side of 50”. Then there was this from the first article:

Three months ago I went to Italy with my then boyfriend, Philip. As we were checking into the hotel, I struck up a conversation with the receptionist in Italian (just one of the five languages I speak). But while I was enjoying myself, chatting away, it became clear that Philip most certainly was not.

He shuffled from foot to foot, muttered something under his breath and rolled his eyes like a stroppy teenager.

Then in the lift he turned on me. ‘I was wondering when you were going to let me join your conversation,’ he snapped. I tried to laugh it off but I knew this was the beginning of yet another argument.

But by the second article it had changed to:

I was about to call it a day and demand my money back, when my matchmaker sent through the detail a publisher from Oxford. We met at a pub near his home.

But very quickly the debonair man who had seemed laid-back in London had morphed into a raging chauvinist in the countryside. When I started to chat to waiter in Italian, it became clear that my date was not happy. He muttered something under his breath and rolled his eyes like a stroppy teenager.

“I WAS WONDERING when you were going to let me join your conversation,” he boomed. I tried to laugh it off but clocked this was a man with a fragile ego.

Now this woman is either nuts or she’s making stuff up and her editors not fussy about consistency between one story and the next. My guess is the whole character is an author’s alter-ego designed in precisely the way my commenter described. In this latest article she’s telling us how she’s moved back in with her parents:

There is still a stigma about a grown woman living back home. Being middle-aged is hard enough. But when you are middle-aged, unmarried and living with your dad, it’s a thousand times harder.

My friends joke that I am the oldest teenager in Britain. Who can blame them? What could be sadder than a woman in advanced middle age who can’t even bring a boyfriend back for a glass of wine or — God forbid — to stay the night.

Is anyone believing a word of this?

On the plus side, I have started seeing a wonderful man, who lives down the road in Fulham.

No doubt we’ll be hearing about this imaginary man’s failings in a few months time. If someone’s paying her for this tripe I suppose it’s worth it, but I do hope she’s not using her real photo to illustrate the articles.

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Have you tried being nicer?

Once again I’m going to write about an individual, not so much to lay the boot into him but because he represents a wider phenomenon. A few weeks ago I wrote about a tweet from one Daniel Sugarman, a journalist at the Jewish Chronicle, in which he stood on the still-warm bodies of his murdered co-religionists in order to virtue-signal about Trump. Here’s the tweet in question:


Now here’s a tweet he posted yesterday:


This chap is in his twenties and while he might (for all I know) be a good journalist, there is something not quite right about a grown man who clamours for attention as if he were a teenager on Instagram. The problem is he’s not alone. So many prominent journalists and political commentators spend a good portion of their time signalling to the in-group, which usually takes the form of being rather unpleasant about somebody else. Then five minutes later they’re broadcasting to the world they’re unhappy, inviting people to say nice things about them. Natalia Antonova, Laurie Penny, and Oliver Kamm are three examples of prominent commentators who delight in making vicious, denigrating remarks about people in the process of virtue-signalling, while simultaneously using their platforms to bleat about how awfully they’ve been treated, or how unhappy and depressed they are. Cue a chorus of ultra-supportive comments – which is the entire point of course.

This is not the behaviour of functioning adults. I suspect there have always been people who act like this, but these days such behaviour gets rewarded. Indeed, it almost seems to be a requirement in what passes for modern journalism. It’s amusing that these people believe they hold the blueprint for society’s future; it’s less amusing that people actually listen to them.

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Progressive panic over Brazil

Drowned out by the anti-Trump hysteria in the wake of the synagogue massacre was yet more handwringing over another election which has gone against the establishment both local and global, this time in Brazil. Here’s how the BBC reported things:

Far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro has won a sweeping victory in Brazil’s presidential election.

The former army captain won 55.2% of the vote against 44.8% for Fernando Haddad of the left-wing Workers’ Party.

So what is it that makes Bolsonaro “far right”?

Mr Bolsonaro’s pledge to fight crime and corruption following a string of scandals have won him mass support.

Is this a bad thing?

However critics are worried by his praise of Brazil’s former dictatorship, and by his comments on race, women and homosexuality.

Ah, now we get to the heart of the matter. Anyone whose views on race, women, and homosexuality differ from those found in the social studies departments of American academia is automatically “far right”. It’s interesting that race, women, and homosexuality weren’t even major political issues for the couple of decades before 2013, when Obama had won a second term and it was safe to ramp up the identity politics. Certainly they weren’t campaign issues, and with the exception of scrapping Section 28, weren’t even on the British political landscape in any election I can remember. Now all of a sudden these are supposedly key issues on which every politician across the globe is judged. The western ruling classes are prone to hubris and arrogance, and one way this manifests itself is in the belief that the entire world shares their opinions on social issues (see here for another example).

So what’s Mr Bolsonaro supposed to have said? For that we need another BBC article:

Mr Bolsonaro has portrayed himself as the defender of a Brazil of decades past, suggesting that the country should return to the hardline tactics of the 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

Suggesting? Do we have any context here? Of course not, it’s the BBC.

He has praised this era, in which thousands of people were imprisoned and tortured, as a “glorious period”.

Note the implication that Bolsonaro praised the era because of the imprisonment and torture; the BBC does this because it is in the business of peddling fake news rather than informing people. Some people may refer to Victorian Britain as a golden age in the country’s history, but they are not praising workhouses and the Boer War concentration camps. If you look at the timeline of most countries you’ll find rapid development and expanding influence were accompanied by unsavoury practices of some sort.

“I am in favour of torture – you know that,” he said during a television appearance in 1999. “And the people are in favour of it, too.”

Wait, he said this 19 years ago? Has he said anything on the subject since? Did any Brazilian journalists ask him to clarify this statement? We can safely assume that if the BBC is quoting a statement made in 1999 he hasn’t repeated it, so what’s his position now? We don’t know because the BBC isn’t telling us.

He has pledged to reduce crime and increase security by relaxing the country’s gun laws.

“Every honest citizen, man or woman, if they want to have a weapon in their homes – depending on certain criteria – should be able to have one,” he said of his plans on Rede TV on 11 October.

More controversially, he said last year that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.

So is this what makes him far right? What about his economic and social policies (other than a pledge to reduce crime)? Or don’t they matter? Apparently not. What really matters is:

His statements on issues ranging from abortion to race, and from migration to homosexuality, have proved provocative and garnered much attention.

Meaning, he is out of whack with progressives in the west.

“I’d prefer [to see] a son of mine to die in an accident than [to be] a homosexual,” he told Playboy in a 2011 interview.

So what? Does this mean he’s going to round up gays and shoot them? Is not wanting your son to be gay an automatic disqualification to be president everywhere in the world now?

In 2016, he provoked outrage by remarking that a fellow lawmaker was not worth raping because he thought she was “very ugly” and not his “type”.

This is rather rude, but hardly disqualifying or even newsworthy outside of Brazil.

He has also described having a female child as a “weakness”, and said that he would not employ women equally because “[they] get more labour rights than men”.

Is this true? Do they get more labour rights than men? If they didn’t, I’m sure the BBC would tell us. Of course, the real issue is this:

For his supporters, Mr Bolsonaro is a politician who they say will bring much needed change to the country – a swing to the right after four elections won by the left.

For the past four years, Brazil has been consumed by a criminal investigation – known as Operation Car Wash – that has uncovered massive corruption.

The left have been in charge for years, leading to soaring crime rates and corruption on a scale impressive even by Latin American standards. The public, like their counterparts in Europe and the US, have got utterly fed up with ruling elites treating them with contempt so have finally voted for someone on the right. Cue hysterics from western progressives and media clowns about the return of fascism. Now I don’t know much about Brazilian politics and I can’t read Portuguese, so maybe this Bolsonaro chap really is Hitler and he’s about to start throwing women, gays, and minorities into concentration camps built on Copacabana Beach. But I doubt it, and we can be quite sure the BBC and their ilk know nothing about him either.

Note also the difference in reaction from western progresssives when a right wing government gets elected after years of socialist decay, and when a nasty, authoritarian left winger comes to power in Latin America. Left wing politicians and commentators cheered heartily when Hugo Chavez took over in Venezuela, and ignored the brutal suppression of the population which, carried on by his successor, has left them literally starving while the economy collapsed. And still they continue to ignore, make excuses, and justify what’s being done under the banner of socialism. But yeah, we’re supposed to worry about the rise of fascism in Brazil based on some comments made by the new president when the Nokia 8210 came out. Sorry, but I wish him the best of luck.

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Jamal Khashoggi

This story seems to be creating quite a stir:

Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government, walked into the country’s consulate in Istanbul last week to obtain some documents and has not been seen since.

His fiancée fears that he has been kidnapped or killed. The authorities in Istanbul believe he was murdered by Saudi agents. Saudi Arabia insists that he left the consulate shortly after he arrived.

So a Saudi walks into a Saudi embassy in Istanbul and doesn’t come out again. The Turkish government, led by the oh-so neutral and trustworthy Recep Erdoğan, says he’s been murdered. Sorry, why do I care?

Mr Khashoggi is a prominent journalist who has covered major stories, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden, for various Saudi news organisations.

Okay, it’s not good that journalists are being killed but Saudi Arabia has been oppressing or jailing journalists for decades. And the Turkish government complaining about the treatment of dissident journalists is a bit like the mayor of Las Vegas complaining about light pollution in upstate New York. So why the sudden fuss in the west?

He went into self-imposed exile in the US last year, and has written a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he has criticised the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ah. So he’s a darling of the US media establishment, and anti-Saudi. Now there is much to criticise Saudi Arabia for, but let’s also remember that their fiercest critics are Iran and, more recently, Turkey who are both locked in an ideological religious power struggle in the Middle East. Perhaps a little skepticism is in order here? How much of this media coverage is being paid for by state-funded lobby groups?

There’s also this:

In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy.

Between the uncertainty over the claims, the fact that it’s a squabble between competing Muslim factions in the Middle East, the untrustworthyness of everyone involved, and the journalist in question being a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, I’ve concluded I don’t really care. There are other, more worthy things to get outraged about (this, for example, especially when considered alongside this), and I don’t think either the US or UK should entangle themselves in this mess, let alone burn political capital posturing over it.

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Move over Cathy Newman, here’s Zanny Minton Beddoes

I recently discovered that the editor of The Economist was a woman by the name of Zanny Minton Beddoes who, inevitably, went to Oxford. It certainly explained their political stance regarding such things as Brexit, the election of Trump, and the European Union: it’s hard to imagine someone with that name being in touch with the common man. I bet she’s not lived outside a capital city since she was a student.

Yesterday I came across this 35 minute video of her trying to interview Steve Bannon. I say trying, because she spends half the time interrupting with little high-pitched shrieks every time Bannon says something which doesn’t align with her elitist, metropolitan worldview. Have a look for yourselves.

The lack of self-awareness of this woman is incredible, seemingly incapable of responding rationally to someone with a different opinion. It’s as if she’s watched the disastrous Cathy Newman interview with Jordan Peterson and thought her performance worthy of admiration. She’s clearly gone into the interview with the sole intent of smearing Bannon as a racist and misogynist, oblivious to what he is actually saying. It’s quickly apparent she’s way out of her depth and for all her expensive education and cut-glass accent she’s not half as smart as she thinks she is.

Several people invited by The Economist to take part in the same event declined because of Bannon’s presence, including that intellectual heavyweight Laurie Penny. The New Yorker cancelled his presence at a similar event, citing objections from right-thinking participants. Whether you agree with his policies or not, Steve Bannon is a man worth listening to; the fact establishment types such as Zanny Minton Beddoes are so terrified of him reinforces this.

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First Rohingyas, now Uighurs and Kazakhs

A year ago, after watching Sky News do a report on Rohingya muslims in Myanmar, I remarked:

The reporter appeared to be firmly in the pay of a professional lobby group hired to make their case.

Around the same time I also said:

I’ve noticed a concerted effort on the part of the mainstream media over the past few weeks to get everyone interested in the plight of the Rohingyas, a minority Muslim group in Myanmar who are being hounded by the majority ruling Buddists.

I have also noticed that nobody seems to give a shit. It might be tempting to put this down to the fact that westerners don’t generally care about brown people being killed in far-off lands with no oil underneath, but I suspect there is something else at work as well: people in the west are getting a little bit tired of hearing how Muslims are suffering.

I was reminded of the Rohingya advocacy campaign masquerading as news when I read this story, variations of which have been doing the rounds in the media for the past few weeks:

Chinese officials have pushed back against growing criticism of the detention of Muslim minorities in internment camps, claiming authorities are merely providing professional training and education.

Beijing is facing allegations of mass incarceration and repression of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang in China’s north-west. An estimated 1.1 million people have been placed in internment camps, including re-education camps where, according to former detainees and other witnesses, inmates are subjected to intense political indoctrination and abuse.

That the Chinese lock up and execute large numbers of their population is nothing new, nor is their suppression of ethnic minorities, especially those who might show loyalty to a deity other than the Communist Party of China. Ask the Tibetans how they’ve fared under Chinese rule, for example. So why the sudden fuss about Uighurs and Kazakhs?

Well, thanks to the system of zakat and Middle Eastern oil and gas revenues, there is a lot of money sloshing around the world earmarked for Islamic causes. A portion of this ends up funding terrorism, but it’s also used for things like Islamic schools, construction of mosques, charity work – and lobbying. There are countless Muslim bodies sitting in every western capital, advocating Islamic causes and interests, and some of these will be well funded. Thanks to most western governments having deep sympathies with Muslim minorities and assigning them the coveted Protected Class status, Islamic lobby groups have easy access to the propaganda organs of the ruling classes, i.e. the media. Provided they don’t go against the interests of the ruling class, e.g. by questioning why they destroyed Iraq, removed Gaddafi, and sell bombs which land on the heads of Yemenis, Muslim advocacy groups are pretty good at getting articles promoting Muslim practices and interests into the mainstream media, particularly the BBC.

So that explains why every now and then we’re suddenly bombarded with “news” reports regarding the suffering of some obscure group of Muslims on the other side of the world. But why Uighurs and Kazakhs? Well, I suspect the lobby groups are aware the British and American public are more than a little tired of hearing about problems in the Middle East or Africa, and just tune out as soon as they’re mentioned. But more likely it’s because this is a case of Muslims being oppressed by non-Muslims, and by a major power at that. Muslims generally don’t care if Muslims are oppressed by other Muslims – where is the concern for Kazakhs rotting in Kazakh jails, or Uzbeks who suffered under Islam Karimov’s rule? – but if non-Muslims are doing the oppressing they don’t like it at all (especially if there are Jews involved).

Now nobody thinks the Israelis are killing Rohingyas, but Britiain has ties to Myanmar and they were a useful lever with which to exert pro-Muslim influence over a weak and hapless May government. Get invited to Downing Street to discuss the terrible plight of the Rohingyas, and while you’re there casually mention the levels of Islamophobia hook-handed jihadists are subject to in the criminal justice system. Similarly, getting a pro-Muslim angle into any geopolitical opposition to China elevates their cause by an order of magnitude; look at the boost they received by turning the Cold War a little warmer in Afghanistan. If they can hitch themselves to a general strategy of containing China (of which criticism of human rights abuses is very much a part), money, power, and prestige beckon which can be used to exert greater influence in the west.

There’s clearly a well-funded and organised strategy being executed here, and I suspect the dullards in the media aren’t even aware they’re being played. Whether the general public are as gullible, and whether they care about Muslims in far-flung corners of the world, is another matter. What is certain is these campaigns will not have the slightest effect on the policies of the Chinese Communist Party, nor Muslims languishing behind barbed wire in the Gobi desert. This is a domestic campaign.

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