Bernie 2: Immigration Boogaloo

Okay, we need to talk about Bernie Sanders’s recent comments on immigration, and specifically how they counter the most common left-wing apologetic for his campaign. The usual defense of Bernie from otherwise jaded leftists is something like, “Sure, he’s no Eugene Debs, but you can’t deny that he’s popularizing socialism and helping point the American left in a more radical direction!” Sanders’s statements about immigration, though, provide pretty provocative evidence that (a) he’s not popularizing socialism, just redefining it, and (b) if he’s really moving the left in any sort of direction, it’s toward a familiar populist dead-end. The key thing to understand is that Bernie’s anti-immigration position isn’t some conservative aberration in his politics. It’s either a natural outgrowth of what could very well be Sanders’s deep-seated neoliberalism, or it’s a key element of his explicitly nationalist brand of pseudo-socialism. Or it’s some combination of the two. In any case, Sanders is someone the left should be wary of. Continue reading

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On the Cascadian Megadeathquake

I’d like to talk a little bit about that recent New Yorker piece about how screwed Seattle and Portland are going to be when the next earthquake along the Cascadian subduction zone hits. According to the article, seismologists predict an extended, magnitude ~9.0 earthquake that will extend from northern California to southern British Columbia. Stephen Peterson, my friendly neighborhood skeptic, has already written a pretty thorough point-by-point response to the piece, but I have a couple points to raise myself. Continue reading

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This Political Correctness Is Makin’ Me Thirsty!

Jerry Seinfeld piped up a couple weeks ago with some complaints about “political correctness,” which were widely hailed as groundbreaking because apparently it’s still 1997. Seinfeld’s main target was college students. He noted that a lot of his comedian friends tell him to stay away from colleges because the audiences are “so PC.” The stakes are high for Seinfeld and other comics because, as Seinfeld has said elsewhere, if people get offended now, they don’t just complain––they try to ruin your career. In the wake of that recent Vox article by “Edward Schlosser,” Seinfeld’s comments have a sort of cultural resonance, and this means that the term “political correctness” has, I’m sorry to say, burst back into the national vernacular. Continue reading

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Can Bernie Sanders Succeed? No. I Do Not Think He Can.

Bernie Sanders has garnered a lot of enthusiasm among socialists (and even some anarchists, from what I’ve seen) over the past few months, and I still can’t figure out why. There’s a clear reason for socialists not to be thrilled about Bernie Sanders’s presidential run. It’s not that Sanders’s campaign is doomed to failure (although it is). It’s not that electoral politics isn’t a viable avenue for radical, systemic change (although it isn’t). It’s that, simply put, Bernie Sanders is not a socialist. Continue reading

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The Passion of Edward Schlosser: Why “Liberal Students” Aren’t the Problem

Don’t you hate how America’s universities have curdled into cesspools of liberal, “politically correct” groupthink? Edward Schlosser (a pseudonym) knows how you feel––and he’s a liberal! In his recent Vox article entitled “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me,” Professor Schlosser explains the problem with higher education. Time was that a professor could rebut student complaints, but now, student complaints are accepted as gospel. This is because kids these days no longer levy complaints based on professors’ actions, but based on how professors affect their emotional states. Since emotional claims can’t be debated, they’re more likely to be taken seriously, and professors are more likely to be penalized. This creates an environment in which professors opt not to teach controversial material for fear of getting student complaints and losing their jobs. The source of this problem? Liberal students have started buying into a “totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice.” It seems that, not content with ruining video games, the SJWs have moved on to academia. Continue reading

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Thinking Movement Mobilization With Brother Jed

Last week, my campus got a visit from Campus Ministries’ own Brother Jed, an elderly traveling preacher who enjoys telling college students that they’re going to hell. He and a couple of his lackeys come our way every spring to spread the Good News in the most inflammatory, sexist, and homophobic way possible. They set up with signs saying things like “You Deserve Hell,” and they deliver fire-and-brimstone sermons, replete with dubious anecdotes about their own personal salvations. Brother Jed in particular likes to recount his days as a drug-abusing tomcat who lived on “a hippie commune,” before he got saved in his early thirties. His story is proof, he maintains, that Jesus can save even the most recalcitrant of sinners. He insists that he’s converted thousands through his missionary work. Continue reading

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Homophobic Counterframing and Liberal Assimilation

The mainstream LGBT movement in the United States has historically advanced modest, legal demands (e.g. anti-discrimination laws, same-sex marriage, inclusion in the military) under a “civil rights” frame. LGBT people are citizens of this country too, the argument goes, and they therefore deserve to be included in all the same institutions as straight and cis people. Any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is a Fourteenth Amendment violation. This civil rights frame has been pretty effective in achieving basic legal concessions. Recognizing this, the homophobic right has responded by adopting a similar civil rights frame to justify the continued institutionalization of their bigotry. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity isn’t a Fourteenth Amendment violation, but a First Amendment right. The nightmarish Religious Freedom Act recently passed in Indiana provides an excellent example. When a fundamentalist shop owner refuses service to the Lavender Menace, she is simply exercising her right to religious expression, and no one can say boo. Continue reading

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