Jordan Peterson

There is clearly tremendous envy wrapped up in the reactions people have to Jordan Peterson. One doesn’t have to agree with all he says to recognize this. I find him a breath of fresh and necessary air. But it’s amusing — and a bit scary — to see how silly his critics become when you mention his name. It is even more amusing to see how so many of them clearly have never actually read anything he has written or listened to anything he has said. I give as an example something that happened when a very lovely young man I know posted something positive about Peterson on Facebook recently. The bullying pile-on was swift, angry, and not remotely fact-based. Included in the comments were that Peterson was against gender equality, that he belittled transgendered people, that he said young women who get drunk and who are sexually assaulted therefore deserved it, and on and on and on.

Sheer nonsense, of course. Not one of those accusations (and the others that were made in the same thread) is true. Further, someone used as an “argument” the acceptance of “Ms.” into our culture as proof that Peterson is wrong to be concerned about compelled speech. Well, “Ms.” was never compelled. It became accepted over time naturally. No one was ever threatened with an indictment by the state for refusing “Ms.” What concerns Peterson is the state attempting to control speech, not the natural and inevitable changes that take place in a language, and I share his concern. One need only a cursory knowledge of history to know that the state forcing sudden changes in word use is bad, bad news.

Many of his critics accuse him of being “alt right,” and as “proof” they point out he has “alt right” fans. I suspect he does have some alt right fans, but he can’t much control who likes him or doesn’t like him. Just as many of his critics haven’t actually read his work, I suspect his extremist fans haven’t either. (I had similar “fans” when I had my weekly Toronto Star column, and I did not like it, but I knew it had nothing to do with what I believed.) If you read Peterson’s work or listen to him, you will see he is more of a classical liberal.

What is interesting is that what Peterson is most concerned about is the stupidity of young males – another reason the accusation that he thinks girls who get drunk deserve sexual assault or that he is anti-gender equality does not hold up (that, and the fact that he has never said any such thing). One would think his concern that young males not behave like groping idiots might appeal to people, particularly on the left, particularly those who call themselves feminists. Well, it does to some, thank goodness.

All of this is on my mind because of tonight’s Munk Debate, which I will be attending and to which I am looking forward. And here’s a good (fact-based and not oozing jealousy) take on Peterson.

Israel at 70

I just finished Martha Gellhorn’s The Face of War and am convinced she was an even better war writer than A. J. Liebling. Her essays on the Six Day War and its aftermath are not to be missed. I love this quote, and post it for the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Her neighbors oblige Israel to waste resources and time on military strength. Israelis are not fond of being warriors; they have no choice. But Israel is far more than a bulwark. It produces funny wine and good books, scientists, musicians and formers of genius. It may have the highest I.Q. per capita in the world. It is brave. It is there to stay.

Note: several Israeli friends have pointed out that Israeli wine has improved a great deal over the years. (The above quote is from 1967.) At any rate, Gellhorn is insanely perceptive about the “work” of UNRWA, among other things, and rather than go over all of that I will simply link back to a piece she wrote in the Atlantic in 1961, in which we see that where the Jews are concerned, the thinly-veiled anti-Semitism that governs much reaction to them has always been around and sadly, may never disappear. Along the same plus ca change lines, please check out James Michener’s letter to The New York Review of Books, written shortly after the Six Day War. (And no, Michener was not one of the anti-Semites in question, but rather, someone who, like Gellhorn, saw through such nonsense.)

I’ve written about this many times, of course, but it remains distressing to me that I have relatives of the “I’m not anti-Semitic, I’m just anti-Zionist” or “Zionism is racism” variety. I even have one relative who tried to calibrate by asking me to define Zionism when I pointed out that equating Zionism with racism was, in fact, anti-Semitic. It was as though she were trying to suggest there were different definitions of it and that some were indeed racist. Nonsense, of course, but to paraphrase Swift, you can’t reason someone out of a belief into which they were not reasoned in the first place.

It seems to me that for a great many people, mostly on the left, Israel’s most unpardonable offence is not only having survived 1967, but having triumphed. Israel will never be forgiven for this, in the same way the Jews will never truly be forgiven by those same people for having survived the Shoah.

It’s a shame the anti-Semites on the left can’t see Israel for what it is: the answer to millennia of systematic oppression, discrimination and state-organized mass murder. I don’t see it as an anachronism and I don’t believe for a second that those past horrors will stay in the past. (Please see the aforementioned paragraphs about many of my relatives.) I also believe that if the ideological left weren’t leading the anti-Israel charge, aligned with Hamas and Hezbollah and so many odious others, there might by now be a two-state solution. The result of this demonization of Israel is the impossibility of fair and realistic negotiations.  

I just hope Israel will never be fully abandoned, despite the attempts of ideological “progressives” to cast it as an ideological depravity or to assert that 
the very idea of a Jewish state is a crime or racist.

Pigeons

They deserve our respect:

Everything alive is essentially a mystery, and pigeons, with their extraordinary mental and ­physical powers, are more mysterious than most. They were domesticated thousands of years ago, long before chickens or ducks, which makes them the bird on Earth to which we have the longest close relationship. Pigeons matter.

If you go to my National Geographic page, and scroll through my photos, you will see a few pigeon pics. Also, a couple of previous blog posts concerning pigeons: here and here.

Dunkirk

We got around to watching “Dunkirk” a few weeks ago, and while I thought it was good, what I did not appreciate was the quote used at the end:

This film is dedicated to all those whose lives were impacted by the events at Dunkirk.

Seriously? All those? Including Hitler? His life was certainly impacted. Goebbels? Goring? Speer? Seriously? Because their lives were impacted by it, to be sure. Also, please use “affected” rather than “impacted.” Please.