Race, politics, and the English language

By John Ruberry

Last month the Chicago Tribune’s lead columnist, John Kass, penned a column about left-wing billionaire George Soros and his funding of campaigns of Democratic prosecutors such as Cook County’s Kim Foxx–who can rightly be called soft-on-crime. Despite a state of Illinois threshold of $300, Foxx won’t prosecute accused shoplifters unless they steal merchandise worth more than $1,000. Even before this spring’s rioting and looting in Chicago, shoplifting was on the rise.

Criminals appear to be emboldened in Chicago–as the consequences for illegal activities diminish, people believe they can get away with more crimes. Think of it as the opposite of the “broken windows” theory of law enforcement. While I admit it could be a leap to equate Foxx’s permissive attitude on prosecution of crimes to an even more violent Chicago, but shootings and murders for July, 2020 were up dramatically from the previous July. Still I believe Foxx bears some of the responsibility. While the suits in the Chicago Police Department are claiming overall crime is down, I suspect shell game chicanery or something even more troubling. It could be that fewer crimes are being reported because victims believe that it won’t make a difference. The victims know, with minor crimes, Foxx won’t prosecute.

And what about more serious crimes?

In that controversial piece, Kass opined, “And in many of the violent cities, the prosecutors have delivered on their promises not to keep the violent in jail but rather to let them out.”

Kass’ column brought about a fierce backlash by the Chicago Tribune Guild, a union that Kass does not belong to, calling that piece an “odious, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros is a puppet master controlling America’s big cities.”

That column led to a demotion of sorts from Kass. After over twenty years of his column being placed on Page 2, a halcyon spot once occupied by the legendary Mike Royko, Kass’ column has been moved, by the Trib’s editor-in-chief Colin McMahon to the opinion section, in order to, in his words “maintain credibility of news coverage.” That’s not a credible statement as I’m certain there are very few people who see Kass’ work as anything but opinion.

In that column about Soros, Kass did not mention the billionaire’s faith or ethnic origin. I’m going to be more direct. Kass didn’t say in that piece that Soros is Jewish.

On his Daily Herald blog about the Kass battle, Robert Feder, a longtime media reporter, referred to him as the “Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.”

Whoah. Let me repeat that, the “Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.”

I remarked on my own blog:

Replace “white” with black and “male” with female. And of course “conservative” with liberal. Do you think if Fraud Feder wrote that about an African-American writer at the Trib who is a woman that he would have gotten away with it?

Of course he wouldn’t have.

Which reminds me of something I read in high school from George Orwell. Not Animal Farm or 1984, but his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language.

This line stands out from that classic: “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.'” Contemporary liberals, and especially leftists, reflexively label their critics as “fascists.”

I’m sure there is a Kass column over the years, none currently come to mind however, where in my opinion he was totally wrong. Any attacks on that theoretical opinion piece from me, correctly, should be on refuting his points with facts, or at least reasoned thoughts. Not, as some people might, retorting that Kass is wrong because he’s a white man, or that he benefits from “white privilege” and “systemic racism.”

Is white becoming, in Orwell’s words, “something not desirable?” Or worse, something that is inherently wrong?

Conveniently, at least for this post, Kass is of Greek descent. Much if not most of classical logic comes from the ancient Greeks. Oh, let’s say Kass is a Filipino-American. I’d still make the same points you’ll see next.

In college I took a logic course–and seriously–it may have held me back in the work force. I guess I’m too logical. There are a number of argumentative fallacies that the ancient Greeks identified, including the “fallacy of origins,” now generally called the “genetic fallacy.”

Here’s what Purdue’s Online Writing Lab offers on this subject:

Genetic Fallacy: This conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example:

The Volkswagen Beetle is an evil car because it was originally designed by Hitler’s army.

In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car. However, the two are not inherently related.

So, if the Chicago Tribune Guild wished to honestly attack Kass, they should have pointed out where they believe Kass is wrong about Soros and his funding of campaigns of Democratic prosecutors. They didn’t. They responded with another logical fallacy, the ad hominem attack, calling him anti-Semitic.

The Chicago Tribune Guild couldn’t, or was to lazy to, argue with Kass’ Soros column on its merits. Or lack of.

Feder in his blog post deemed it necessary to mention Kass’ race, gender, and political philosophy in explaining the columnist’s demotion.

That path angered me, so much so that for my Marathon Pundit post about Feder’s attack I used this headline, “Leftist Daily Herald blogger Robert Feder calls columnist John Kass ‘Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.'” Okay, I admit, I don’t know if Feder is really a leftist but such a verbal assault is something leftists do now. Apparently stung, he accused me of “faux outrage” on Twitter.

But the outrage is real.

Using one’s race, faith, lack-of-faith, ethnic background, sexual identity and the like as a means of argumentative attack is something until recently I thought was a relic of a more ignorant era, or the denizen of crude online forums. Or the weapon of drunken barroom rants.

Our society is headed the wrong way. 

And if white people are today’s bogey man tomorrow it may another group. Movements with absolutist philosophies eventually eat their own. See the French Revolution. Or the Russian Revolution.

The “cancel culture” may be coming for you.

Kass is a brave man who is not backing down, as he explained in another column last week.

While Voltaire never said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” he should have. Because it’s a noble sentiment I believe in. And no one is always right. Yep, not even me. Not John Kass either. No political philosophy has the solution to every problem. We need each other.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

1984 was supposed to be a warning not an instruction manual

George Orwell wrote 1984 as warning to his generation and to future generation, a warning against the totalitarianism that spread throughout many nations during the 1930s and 1940s.  Rather than heeding the warnings, leftists in this country seem to have embraced 1984 as an instruction manual or a playbook.  It may not be the case that they are literally using 1984 as their playbook, it is more likely that they are simply using the tried and true steps to implement their leftist policies which eventually will bring about the totalitarian society Orwell warned us about. 

The progressivism here in the United States is very similar to the other totalitarian leftist political philosophies, socialism and fascism.  The main difference is that progressivism has  a soft veneer of compassion and politeness, along with much better press agents.

All leftist political philosophies target children in an effort to implement social change, very often turning children against the older generations.  Look at how progressivism here infected colleges and universities first then grade and high schools. Compare that to this quote from Chapter 2. 

It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which The Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak —  ‘child hero’ was the phrase generally used — had overheard some compromising remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police.

Progressives here have constructed a set of beliefs which are built on many contradictions and absurdities.  If you don’t embrace these beliefs you are labeled an enemy and silenced.  AntiFa now physically attacks those who do not follow leftist beliefs and there have been many calls to imprison  individuals who do not follow along. Check out this quote from chapter 2

Like an answer, the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back to him: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette Packet — everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.

There has been a concerted effort in this country to erase our actual history and replace it with politically correct revisionist history. Doesn’t this quote from Chapter 3 remind you of that?

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.

This quote from chapter 3 reminds me of the progressive orthodoxy that is crammed down our throats by the media and other adherents to Political Correctness.

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.

Political Correctness is Newspeak.  That is abundantly clear from these two quotes from Chapter 5

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.

By 2050 — earlier, probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron — they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’

Collectivism rather than individualism is at the heart of all leftist philosophies, including progressivism.  This is captured in this quote from Chapter 7

The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering — a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons — a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting — three hundred million people all with the same face.

Progressives here have received a tremendous amount of help redefining reality through the liberal news media, infected educational system, and Hollywood, similar to this quote from Part 2 Chapter 5

In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.

This quote from Part 3 Chapter 2 reminds me so forcefully of the progressive attempt to force their world view down our throats.  Individualism is a major impediment to their world view,  Turning us into a mindless mob which embraces the twisted PC reality will be the end result of their efforts.

You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party.

Like all leftist philosophies, progressivism is all about a small body of elite gaining power over the masses.  This quote by Obrien from Section 3 Chapter 3 captures that so well.

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

All quotes are copied from this Wikiquote page.

Animal Farm is so very relevant today

I just finished rereading Animal Farm, the first time in over a couple of decades. All the time I was reading this great work I was continuously surprised by parallels between the fictional world created by George Orwell more than 70 years ago and conditions today in so many countries. There are also warning signs that these conditions could be created here. 

Animal Farm was written as a warning against the totalitarianism that had spread through many nations in the 1930s and 1940s.  Unfortunately so many have ignored the warnings and so many are keen to implement the policies that have time and again led to the totalitarianism Orwell warned against.

This quote from the pig Old Major in Chapter 1 is so reminiscent of the rhetoric used by Karl Marx and other socialists who sought to overthrow capitalism.  The rhetoric is eerily similar to that used by Bernie Sanders,  Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin.

Despite the promises of a more equal and just society made before, during, and after the revolutions that overthrow democratically elected free market societies, a cabal of elites always end up taking over and demanding special treatment, at the expense of the majority.  This is captured in this quote in Chapter 3 by Squealer, who is responding to complaints about the ruling pigs alone getting all of the milk and apples while everyone else is nearly starving..

“Comrades!” he cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.

This point is reiterated in Chapter 5

Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

In a socialist nation laws and Constitutions are changed at a whim. Democrats have done that quite often here such as this notion of our Constitution being a living document. Here is a quote from Chapter 6.

Afterwards Squealer made a round of the farm and set the animals’ minds at rest. He assured them that the resolution against engaging in trade and using money had never been passed, or even suggested. It was pure imagination, probably traceable in the beginning to lies circulated by Snowball. A few animals still felt faintly doubtful, but Squealer asked them shrewdly, “Are you certain that this is not something that you have dreamed, comrades? Have you any record of such a resolution? Is it written down anywhere?” And since it was certainly true that nothing of the kind existed in writing, the animals were satisfied that they had been mistaken.

Straw men are constantly used by leftists regimes to justify abuses.  This took place in Chapter 7.

Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball. If a window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal.

The real turning point of the novel is when nine puppies are taken from their parents and educated by the ruling elite.  These dogs were turned into a secret police and became the most ardent supporters of the ruling elite.   This has taken place over and over again in totalitarian nations and this is the type brainwashing of the youth that has been happening here on college campuses for decades and is now taking place in grade and high schools.  The dogs committed atrocities that are chronicled in the next two quotes, also from Chapter 7.  All those killed were innocent but that did not stop the indoctrinated dogs.

And so the tale of confessions and executions went on, until there was a pile of corpses lying before Napoleon’s feet and the air was heavy with the smell of blood, which had been unknown there since the expulsion of Jones.

When it was all over, the remaining animals, except for the pigs and dogs, crept away in a body. They were shaken and miserable. They did not know which was more shocking–the treachery of the animals who had leagued themselves with Snowball, or the cruel retribution they had just witnessed. In the old days there had often been scenes of bloodshed equally terrible, but it seemed to all of them that it was far worse now that it was happening among themselves. Since Jones had left the farm, until today, no animal had killed another animal.

Purges such as this are always the end result when the policies advocated by Warren and Sanders are implemented. It is just a matter of time.

This quote from Chapter 8 is a dire warning against the notion of a living Constitution.

A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered–or thought they remembered–that the Sixth Commandment decreed “No animal shall kill any other animal.” And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that the killings which had taken place did not square with this. Clover asked Benjamin to read her the Sixth Commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: “No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE.” Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals’ memory. But they saw now that the Commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was good reason for killing the traitors who had leagued themselves with Snowball.

All quotes are copied from the Animal Farm Wikiquote page because I am a lousy typist.