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The paranoid style mainstreamed


One of the weirder ideological tics of your University of Austin types is to assume that self-censorship is bad per se, as opposed to an often useful manifestation of social pressure, that keeps plenty of crazy and insidious nonsense from getting mainstreamed.

And one thing that Donald Trump and Trumpism represent is a kind of intellectual debauchery, that attempts to overthrow any limits on what — critical caveat! — right wing maniacs such as, um, Donald Trump say in public.

For example, here’s the kind of thing that rich and powerful people of high social standing now feel free to spew across the Internet, in the name of brave truth telling:

The founder and chair of Entrata, a Silicon Slopes tech firm, has resigned his position after sending an email to a number of tech CEOs and Utah business and political leaders, claiming the COVID-19 vaccine is part of a plot by “the Jews” to exterminate people.

The remarks triggered condemnation throughout Utah’s tech community, and led to David Bateman’s resignation from the company’s board of directors after FOX 13 first reported on the email.

The email by Bateman, shared with FOX 13 by numerous sources Tuesday morning, begins with the subject line “Genocide.” Bateman confirmed to FOX 13 in text messages that he sent the email.

“I write this email knowing that many of you will think I’m crazy after reading it. I believe there is a sadistic effort underway to euthanize the American people. It’s obvious now. It’s undeniable, yet no one is doing anything. Everyone is discounting their own judgment, and dismissing their intuition,” Bateman wrote.

In the email, Bateman attacks the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and urged people not to get it. He also claims that criticism of the vaccine is being censored and international charges were going to be filed against Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“I believe the Jews are behind this. For 300 years the Jews have been trying to infiltrate the Catholic Church and place a Jew covertly at the top. It happened in 2013 with Pope Francis. I believe the pandemic and systematic extermination of billions of people will lead to an effort to consolidate all the countries in the world under a single flag with totalitarian rule. I know, it sounds bonkers. No one is reporting on it, but the Hasidic Jews in the US instituted a law for their people that they are not to be vaccinated for any reason,” he wrote in the email.

This sounds bonkers because it is bonkers — Occam’s Razor to the rescue again! — but in all fairness to our voluble American psycho Bateman (the writers really need to be trying harder) it isn’t any more bonkers than the official position of Donald Trump, and therefore for all practical purposes of the Republican party, on the 2020 election, which is that it was stolen by a cabal of globalists operating out of the same lab in China where the Wuhan virus was bioengineered with the help of Bill Gates’s money etc. etc.

In other words, florid paranoiac conspiracy theories are now simply the ordinary stuff of mainstream Republican discourse, which is why Donald Trump was elected president, and is going to be elected — or “elected” — president again.

This kind of thing appears in a slightly touched up academic form in the works of such luminaries as Amy Wax, so I was glad to see the dean of Penn’s law school trample on Wax’s First Amendment rights and totally destroy academic freedom by criticizing her in straightforward and completely appropriate terms:

The dean at one of the country’s top law schools is calling comments from a professor at the university “racist” and “anti-intellectual” after she said the influx of “Asian elites” in the US is dangerous and problematic.

Theodore Rugers, the dean at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, issued a statement Monday about comments law professor Amy Wax made during an interview on December 19 with Glenn Loury, a Brown University professor who hosts weekly conversations online about race and inequality.

“Once again, Amy Wax has, through her thoroughly anti-intellectual and racist comments denigrating Asian immigrants, underscored a fundamental tension around harmful speech at American universities,” Rugers said in an online statement.

“Like all racist generalizations, Wax’s recent comments inflict harm by perpetuating stereotypes and placing differential burdens on Asian students, faculty, and staff to carry the weight of this vitriol and bias.”

During last month’s interview, titled “Contesting American Identity,” Wax called the dominance of “Asian elite” in the United States a “danger.”

Loury countered by asking what would be wrong with “having a lot of Chinese or Indian or Korean engineers, physicians, computer scientists, and whatnot, running around here creating value, enlivening the society? I mean, I don’t see how we lose from that.”

“If you go into medical schools, you’ll see that Indians, South Asians are now rising stars in medicine, they’re sort of the new Jews, I guess you could say,” Wax, who is Jewish, said during the interview, and went on to say diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are “poisoning the scientific establishment and the medical establishment now.”

The “new Jews” are poisoning the intellectual wells? Sounds like some of them need to be thrown down them, so our country can be free (I’m so old I can remember when Borat skits were parodies, rather than nightly news reports).

All this reflects how intellectual debauchery is very much like the regular kind: Amy Wax and her ilk are the dope peddlers of fascism, paving the way for the less refined messaging that turns people like our Silicon Slopes CEO into raving street corner lunatics, although the kind that also own lots of very valuable stock options.

I eagerly await the condemnation of Ruger’s remarks by the defenders of academic freedom, who take the view that the worst thing that can happen in contemporary America is for a supervising administrator to publicly criticize a tenured faculty member. (This is exactly what happened way back in 2017, when Ruger and Larry Alexander’s dean criticized Wax and Alexander for publishing their idiotic op-ed on how the problem with America was a shortage of bourgeois values among the lesser orders).

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