Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect: We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears

Over at PJMedia, two to three years before Donald Trump announced his candidacy, Ed Driscoll uncovered a gem on the subject of fake news, 13 to 14 years before Trump popularized the term:
[In 2002, the] late Michael Crichton coined a phrase he called "the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect," named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist:
Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.) 
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
In his speech on the prevalence of speculation in media — an idea defined by Thomas L. McDonald as "I believe everything the media tells me except for anything for which I have direct personal knowledge, which they always get wrong" — Michael Crichton goes on to say that
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I'd point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn't. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

So one problem with speculation is that it piggybacks on the Gell-Mann effect of unwarranted credibility, making the speculation look more useful than it is.

Another issue concerns the sheer volume of speculation. Sheer volume comes to imply a value which is specious. I call this the There-Must-Be-A-Pony effect, from the old joke in which a kid comes down Christmas morning, finds the room filled with horseshit, and claps his hands with delight. His astonished parents ask: why are you so happy? He says, with this much horseshit, there must be a pony.

Because we are confronted by speculation at every turn, in print, on video, on the net, in conversation, we may eventually conclude that it must have value. But it doesn't. Because no matter how many people are speculating, no matter how familiar their faces, how good their makeup and how well they are lit, no matter how many weeks they appear before us in person or in columns, it remains true that none of them knows what the future holds.

Some people secretly believe that the future can be known. They imagine two groups of people that can know the future, and therefore should be listened to. The first is pundits. Since they expound on the future all the time, they must know what they are talking about. Do they? “Brill's Content” used to track the pundit's guesses, and while one or another had an occasional winning streak, over the long haul they did no better than chance. This is what you would expect. Because nobody knows the future.

 …  Futurists don't know any more about the future than you or I. Read their magazines from a couple of years ago and you'll see an endless parade of error.

Expertise is no shield against failure to see ahead. That's why it was Thomas Watson, head of IBM, who predicted the world only needed 4 or 5 computers. That is about as wrong a prediction as it is possible to make, by a man who had every reason to be informed about what he was talking about. Not only did he fail to anticipate a trend, or a technology, he failed to understand the myriad uses to which a general purpose machine might be put.

Similarly, Paul Erlich, a brilliant academic who has devoted his entire life to ecological issues, has been wrong in nearly all his major predictions. He was wrong about diminishing resources, he was wrong about the population explosion, and he was wrong that we would lose 50% of all species by the year 2000. He devoted his life to intensely felt issues, yet he has been spectacularly wrong.


Now, this is not new information. It was Mark Twain who said,
'I've seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never came to pass."
And much of what politicians say is not so much a prediction as an attempt to make it come true. It's argument disguised as analysis. But it doesn't really persuade anybody. Because most people can see through it.

If speculation is worthless, why is there so much of it? Is it because people want it? I don't think so. I myself speculate that media has turned to speculation for media's own reasons. So now let's consider the advantages of speculation from a media standpoint.

1. It's incredibly cheap. Talk is cheap. And speculation shows are the cheapest thing you can put on television, They’re almost as cheap as running a test pattern. Speculation requires no research, no big staff. Minimal set. Just get the talking host, book the talking guests—of which there is no shortage—and you're done! Instant show. No reporters in different cities around the world, no film crews on location. No deadlines, no footage to edit, no editors...nothing! Just talk. Cheap.

2. You can't lose. Even though the speculation is correct only by chance, which means you are wrong at least 50% of the time, nobody remembers and therefore nobody cares. You are never accountable. The audience does not remember yesterday, let alone last week, or last month. Media exists in the eternal now, this minute, this crisis, this talking head, this column, this speculation.

 … And since [people] don't remember, as a speculator on media, you can't lose. Let me expand on this idea that you can't lose. It's not confined to the media. Most areas of intellectual life have discovered the virtues of speculation, and have embraced them wildly. In academia, speculation is usually dignified as theory. It's fascinating that even though the intellectual stance of the pomo deconstructionist era is against theory, particularly overarching theory, in reality what every academic wants to express is theory.

 …  In short, the understanding that so long as you speculate, you can't lose is widespread. And it is perfect for the information age, which promises a cornucopia of knowledge, but delivers a cornucopia of snake oil.

Now, nowhere is it written that the media need be accurate, or useful. They haven't been for most or recorded history. So, now they're what? What is wrong with it?

 1. Tendency to excess. The fact that it's only talk makes drama and spectacle unlikely—unless the talk becomes heated and excessive. So it becomes excessive. Not every show features the Crossfire-style food fight, but it is a tendency on all shows.

2. “Crisisization” of everything possible. Most speculation is not compelling because most events are not compelling—Gosh, I wonder what will happen to the German mark? Are they going to get their labor problems under control? This promotes the well-known media need for a crisis. Crisis in the German mark! Uh-oh! Look out! Crises unite the country, draw viewers in large numbers, and give something to speculate about. Without a crisis, the talk soon degenerates into debate about whether the refs should have used instant replay on that last football game. So there is a tendency to hype urgency and importance and be-there-now when such reactions are really not appropriate. …

3. Superficiality as a norm. Gotta go fast. Hit the high points. Speculation adds to the superficiality. That’s it, don’t you think?

4. Endless presentation of uncertainty and conflict may interfere with resolution of issues. There is some evidence that the television food fights not only don’t represent the views of most people—who are not so polarized—but they may tend to make resolution of actual disputes more difficult in the real world. At the very least, these food fights obscure the recognition that disputes are resolved every day. Compromise is much easier from relatively central positions than it is from extreme and hostile, conflicting positions: Greenpeace Spikers vs the Logging Industry.

5. The interminable chains of speculation paves the way to litigation about breast implants, hysteria over Y2K and global warming, articles in the New Yorker about currents of death, and a variety of other results that are not, by any thoughtful view, good things to happen. … The assumption that nothing can be known with certainty does have terrible consequences. As GK Chesterton said (in a somewhat different context),
“If you believe in nothing you’ll believe in anything.” 
That’s what we see today. People believe in anything.

But just in terms of the general emotional tenor of life, I often think people are nervous, jittery in this media climate of what if, what if, maybe, perhaps, could be…when there is simply no reason to feel nervous. Like a bearded nut in robes on the sidewalk proclaiming the end of the world is near, the media is just doing what makes it feel good, not reporting hard facts. We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. It's not sensible to listen to it.

We need to start remembering that everybody who said that Y2K wasn't a real problem was either shouted down, or kept off the air. The same thing is true now of issues like species extinction and global warming. You never hear anyone say it's not a crisis.

 … Personally, I think we need to start turning away from media, and the data shows that we are, at least from television news. I find that whenever I lack exposure to media I am much happier, and my life feels fresher.

 …  They live in the world of MSNBC and the New York Times. And they've forgotten what real, reliable information is, and the lengths you have to go to get it. It's so much harder than just speculating.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A French Veteran of la Résistance During WW II: "Use the word Resistance only if, by misfortune, the duty to Resist were again to arise for real"

When Le Monde commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Summer of 1940, several French readers, many if not all of whom lived through the German invasion in World War II, wrote to share their memories. (Thanks for the InstLink.)

The most interesting letter is probably that of Normandy's Jacques Gindrey, who protests the abusive usage of the word "Resistance" (with a capital R) to denote all sorts of activities that didn't really call for a massive amount of courage by, say, picking up a rifle and putting one's life at risk:

" Résistance "

Résistance, avec un grand " r ", on en trouve partout, bien plus qu'en 1940-1944 ! Résistance d'un instituteur contre de nouvelles modalités d'enseignement, Résistance contre les atteintes aux droits des Roms, Résistance contre l'EPR... Nous ne sommes certainement pas plus de 20 000 survivants à avoir résisté effectivement, fusil en main (ou l'équivalent : renseignement, etc.) avant septembre 1944, et encore moins avant le débarquement du 6 juin 1944. Alors, ne mettez plus de grand " r " à votre opposition à ceci ou à cela, gardez-nous notre Résistance, et n'utilisez ce grand mot que, si par malheur, surgissait le devoir de Résister " pour de vrai " !
Jacques Gindrey Vire (Calvados)
These days, the word Resistance, with a capital R, is to be found everywhere, far more prominently than in 1940-1944! The Resistance of a teacher against new teaching methods, the Resistance against infringements on the rights of the gypsies, the Resistance against nuclear power… Today, there are certainly no more than 20 000 survivors to have effectively resisted, rifle in hand (or the equivalent: work in intelligence-gathering, etc…), prior to September 1944, and even fewer prior to the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944. So do not put a capital R on your opposition to one thing and another, leave us with our Resistance, and use that great word only if, by misfortune, the duty to Resist were again to arise for real.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The silent oppression of the consensus: The leftist politics I had held were a version of the norm, and I had done nothing more than tout the company line

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting on the floor of my sister’s living room [in Gothenburg, Sweden], babysitting her one-year-old daughter
recalls Annika Hernroth-Rothstein in National Review (tack så mycket till Instapundit).
I had just gotten back from a year in France. A few months earlier, I’d been standing in a crowded bar on Place de Clichy, celebrating my 20th birthday. I remember that night, although several bottles of bad white wine say I shouldn’t. I was surrounded by my peers, other upper-middle-class liberals who had fled to Paris to fulfill their fantasy. We had come to this historical city to live the life of songs and books and Technicolor movies. We were radicals. We were heroes. We were going to change the world.

The people with me in that bar were a random sample of the political atmosphere of Europe at the time. Militant feminists, pro-Palestinians, members of the autonomic environmentalist movement, and your run-of the-mill anti-government thugs. Having a friend who had been jailed for rioting was as necessary as a Malcolm X T-shirt and a back-pocket paperback of Catcher in the Rye. I gladly picked up that uniform, just as I picked up rocks and banners knowing that this was the ticket to ride.

Raised in a family of academics, this was a natural evolution on my part and a result of a serious political interest. I identified as an intellectual and as a political thinker with a critical mind. What I failed to acknowledge at the time was that my country was a controlled environment and that the spectrum on which political analysis took place was limited. Not unlike The Truman Show, where the choices you think you are making were already made for you long ago, and any dreams of a different fate are swiftly corrected.
I left my one-bedroom apartment in the chic slum of the 19th Arrondissement in June 2001. I was headed back to Gothenburg, Sweden, and the mass protest against the EU summit and George W. Bush. I planned to be back in time to see the first leaves fall on the Champs Elysées. Turns out, that didn’t happen.

Night fell and morning broke before I managed to get off that floor to answer my phone. On the other end I heard my boyfriend’s voice, chanting frantically:
Two more towers! Two more towers! Two more towers!
He and his friends were having a party, celebrating the attack on America. He called to invite me, and to this day I have never felt such intense shame.

During his speech on September 14, 2001, President Bush said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. Well, on that day I was introduced to who I had been and who I truly was. I saw my own place in the context of history, and how the ideas that I helped promote, the accusations I had met with silence, all had a part in shaping the world I now saw burning before me.

It wasn’t a game. I had played it, but it was never a game.

In the weeks that followed, I watched the American news with one eye, and its European counterpart with the other. It was like seeing the slow shifting of the tectonic plates, dividing the world through op-eds and analysis. On September 12, 2001, the headline of the largest Swedish newspaper read, “We Are All Americans.” A few weeks later, that beautiful creed had already been forgotten. The one time my country could side with the U.S. was when America was on its knees, but when it refused to stay down it quickly went back to the smug relativism of World War II, the icy efficiency of a country never having to fight for either ethics or its existence.
Soon enough, the narrative was clear. The end of the story had already been written: The U.S. was unjustly acting as the world police, once again. Bush was a moron and a puppet. America was killing innocent people for oil. It went on and on, and all I could think was that if I know that these things are not true, then what other lies have I accepted as truth throughout my life?

So I pulled at the thread of my ideology, and it all unraveled before me.

On September 20, I watched Bush’s address to Congress. I had heard him speak before, but on this night, I listened — and one sentence jumped out and grabbed me:
“Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”
So I asked myself if I was free. Not free in movement or by law, but free in thought and intellect. I was not, nor had I ever been. The politics I had held and protected so violently were a version of the norm, and for all my intellect and breeding I had done nothing more than tout the company line.

I left everything that year; it was like walking away from the scene of a crime. I remember thinking that it would have been easier leaving a cult — at least then there would be a welcoming, sane majority on the other side. Or if there had been a physical wall to climb and a dictator to topple, instead of the silent oppression of the consensus.

My country did not change that day, but I had to; the tectonic plates where shifting, and I decided to jump.

When I stood in that bar toasting myself, I thought I was a radical. Today, as a neocon in Sweden, I know I was wrong.

I was raised in a country where that neutrality — that indifference before right and wrong — is a badge of honor. I was taught that morality is weakness, faith is ignorance, and the concept of good and evil is cause for ridicule.

On September 11, 2001, I saw, for the first time, the difference between fear and freedom, and I vowed not to be neutral between them, ever again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The America-Bashers' Use of Symbolism on September 11

As Le Monde commemorated 911 on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, Plantu was back in his usual style, with a full page inside Le Monde Magazine bringing back 10 years of cartoons that belittle the human toll; or that suggest that Uncle Sam deserved whatever it had coming; or that compare the 2011 attacks of September 11, 2001, to Pinochet's coup d'état in Chile on
September 11, 1973.

(This causes him to make —intentionally? — a colossal whopper, saying that 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, just as 3,000 people died on September 11, 1973; in reality, 3,000 lives were lost during Pinochet's 17 years in power (not one day but close to 6,000 days) — nothing to be proud of, for sure, but facts need to be gotten right and in addition, whatever the toll is, it needs to be compared to those of neighboring régimes, like the 20,000 dead in Fidel Castro's Cuba.)

Of notice has been Plantu's tendency over the years to use the 9-11 disaster as a simile to illustrate all kinds of alleged tragedies (both in America and elsewhere), and thus diminish the importance of the American deaths on that date…

So No Pasarán is looking back at 14 years' worth of posts (six or seven, really) as well and checking out what it has been saying on the subjects so dear to the hearts of leftists everywhere.

1) Let's first take a look at the "legend", according to which,
in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the US enjoyed the heartfelt sympathy of the world, only to see this capital of goodwill frittered away by the successive faux pas of an inept and arrogant Bush administration and then definitively exhausted by the launching of an illegitimate war on Iraq in defiance of “world public opinion.”

The Legend of the Squandered Sympathy

(October 10, 2004)
John Rosenthal's Transatlantic Intelligencer article ought to be mandatory reading for anybody studying September 11 and anti-Americanism. In The Legend of the Squandered Sympathy, John Rosenthal notably mentions the cartoon that Plantu saw fit to reproduce on the weekend of the 10th anniversary.
Such was the tenor of Le Monde’s coverage, in effect, just one week after the attacks. The monotonous drone of denunciations continued as the prospect of a military strike against Afghanistan materialized in the weeks ahead, with distraught “New York Jews,” Pashtun warlords and the estranged son of the “O’Dea,” the archetypal all-American family, all chiming in to register their protest and all sounding surprisingly like “third-worldist” Parisian intellectuals – or even indeed like the publisher of Le Monde. (Among other things, the legend of the squandered sympathy occludes the fact that even while a substantial majority of Europeans polled, including in France and Germany, showed spontaneous understanding for American military actions in Afghanistan, large swaths of Europe’s socialist and social-democratic intelligentsia opposed any American military response to the 9/11 attacks whatsoever.) The “boomerang” image went on to become the favored heuristic device of Le Monde and its affiliated publications in their treatment of 9/11. Thus the first issue of the monthly Monde Diplomatique to appear following the events bore the thematic headline “Boomerang Effect” [it also has an article by Maureen Dowd]. In a pictorial variation on the same theme, a special insert in Le Monde itself featured a cartoon depicting a little wind-up Taliban doll, “Made in USA” emblazoned across its back, carrying red, white and blue explosives and circling back toward Uncle Sam.
2) Now let's take a look at the state of democracy and human rights in Chile in 1973 by looking at the (very real) similarities between the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and that of Salvador Allende

Notice the Similarities with That Other "Coup", the One That Overthrew Leftist Saint© and Martyr™ Salvador Allende?

(July 07, 2009)

In Latin America, José Piñera, armed with evidence including "the momentous Agreement of 23 August 1973 … widely unknown outside Chile", opines that because
President Allende became a tyrant when he broke his solemn oath to respect the Constitution and the Chilean laws [and because] his government [had] fomented the creation of armed militias … the origin of the Pinochet government is that of any revolutionary one, in which only the use of force was left in order to remove a tyrant [and to] "put immediate end" to these constitutional violations . It must be agreed that this was, in fact, an unequivocal call to remove by force the President who had initiated the use of force with the purpose of imposing a communist dictatorship.
…the truth demands recognition that former President Pinochet led a legitimate rebellion against tyranny and that the origin of Chile's civil war --and its victims-- lies with former President Allende and his marxist Socialist party. … The Economist said it clearly at the time: "The temporary death of democracy in Chile will be regrettable, but the blame lies clearly with Dr. Allende and those of his followers who persistently overrode the Constitution" (September 15, 1973).
Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God

Read also about Allende's purported suicide

And check out Romanticists Overlook Allende's Many Faults: Senator Ricardo Núñez Muñoz added in a NYT interview (emphasis mine) that
It’s wrong to say that the CIA, the armed forces, and the bourgeoisie alone brought down the Allende government. It’s obvious we need to admit we made critical economical and political errors that were as decisive if not more decisive
No less a figure than the president of the Partido Socialista, Núñez went on to conclude that
we know another Allende-like experiment would only be a collossal failure.
(Then again, that NYT report was back in… 2001…)

3) … isn't it true that one of the most pervasive superstitious beliefs of the ever-so-rational leftists concerns the attacks on September 11?

Isn't One of the Left's Fundamental "Rational" Beliefs About the Events of 9-11 Closely Related to Superstition? 

(Part 3 of Devotees of Science Versus Followers of Religion — Are Only the Latter to Be Taken to Task for Their Alleged Superstitions?, October 25, 2016)

How many times did we hear after 9-11 that this was America's comeuppance, its punishment, notably for what happened in Santiago on September 11, 1973? Ils l'ont bien mérité!

This is what is referred to as poetic justice. But isn't it true that you have to wonder what poetic justice means actually, and not bring it out whenever you feel that argument can serve your designs?

Allow me to give you a personal example of poetic justice. In a plane waiting on the runway one day years ago, I witnessed a passenger who loudly demanded, in no uncertain terms, to be allowed to change seats immediately. The flight attendant was busy for preparing the plane for takeoff, and to wait until the plane was in the air, but the youngish man said he could not stand crying babies, there was one a few seats behind him, and he wanted a change of seats — now. Finally, she gave in and placed him in another seat. What she hadn't realized, as the plane was preparing for takeoff, was that another baby would start crying just then — far louder and far closer to the man than the other toddler had been. And as the flight attendant walked down the aisle, she couldn't help it, she was grinning from ear to ear. As were I and all the passengers who had witnessed the exchange.

This is poetic justice. Poetic justice is not the passenger's sister happening to sit next to a crying baby five months later. Or the passenger's son missing a flight five years later. Nor is it another, totally unrelated in any fashion, passenger from the same city as the arrogant young man, albeit neither family member nor friend or acquaintance, being forced to sit next to a vomiting fatso 20 years after the fact.

For the question needs to be asked, then, who, or what, is/was behind this revenge, this poetic justice?! This is the question you are not supposed to ask! Or even think about!

Was it Osama Ben Laden?  Is there any reason to think the leader of Al Qaeda thought any better of the Chilean unbelievers than of the American unbelievers (whether the Chileans were/are Allende followers or whether they were/are Pinochet supporters or whether they were/are apolitical) and didn't treat them all as the infidel dogs the whole bunch of 'em were/are?

Besides, September 11 holds no meaning for Muslims as not only do they not live under the West's calendar year, they don't even live according to the same type of calendar, the solar year.  They live according to the shorter lunar year — meaning (besides the fact that over the course of several years [both lunar and solar, take your pick], a given month will end up falling during a totally different season), the chances for the equivalent of September 11 for 2001 (1422 for the Muslims) falling on the same day for 1973 (1393 for the Muslims) are extremely low (not 1 in 365 but 1 in 354) and indeed turn out to be, as expected, unfounded. (9-11 in the "year or our Lord" 1973 turns out to be 8-13 in the year of the Prophet 1393 for the Muslims while 9-11 of 2001 turns out to be 6-22 of 1422.)

Who, then, or what, is this entity that wished to punish America for 9-11?

I ask this of people, remember, who scoff at the existence of (a) God and of the Devil.

Is it Mother Nature? Gaia?

Alright, if Gaia and/or Mother Nature is/are so wise: answer me this: Why use Muslims in the four planes?  Why Muslim fundamentalists? Why not Chileans? Or at least Hispanics?

Why wait 28 years?  Why not bring vengeance two years later?  Or 28 minutes later? Or 28 days later?  Or 28 weeks later?  Or 28 months later?  Or 280 years later?

Why punish people in the World Trade Center, the vast majority of who probably knew little to nothing about South American history (recent or old)? 

How about this, Gaia?  Why not punish… (wait for it) General Pinochet?! That same year?  Or, if you insist on punishing Americans, why not punish… Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger?  Or, if you insist on a plane crashing in the Pentagon, why wait for 2001 instead of… 1973 or 1974?

As you can see, to call the 911 attacks the revenge, or the poetic justice, of Gaia or of Mother Nature — or even (why not?) the vengeance of God the Father as described in the Bible — doesn't make much sense when one spends some time thinking about it.

4) Finally, we have this similar post for Plantu:

The America-Bashers' Use of Symbolism on September 11

(September 12, 2005)
When confronted with the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001, it has become a tradition for some to recall another event that occurred on another September 11.

On that date, in 1973, General Pinochet overthrew Chile's President Allende.

This is supposed to make us think. Hard.

The problem with this, of course, is that there have occurred 500 September 11s in the past 500 years (to take the first round number that came to my mind), with varying occurrences on various continents, in various countries, in various regions, in various cities, in various neighborhoods, and in various personal homes around the world, and just about any one of those occurrences could have been picked to make a comparison with (and provide matter for reflection on, and some kind of metaphysical lesson for) September 11, 2001 (or September 11, 1973, for that matter).

As I have written elsewhere,
If looking down their noses, [America-bashers] ask "Do you know what other event occurred on September 11?", answer "Yes, a terrible tragedy." Pause while they nod approvingly, then add "George Washington lost the battle of Brandywine" (in 1777) or even "Brian De Palma was born on that date" (so was Ferdinand Marcos, by the way), although I'm not sure to what extent that counts as a tragedy. If they object that they are referring to something more recent and more tragic than that, agree and say "you must be talking of Hitler ordering reinforcements to Romania" (1940) or "FDR ordering any Axis ships in U.S. waters shot on sight" (1941) or even "wasn't it the first TV broadcast of a Miss America beauty contest?" (1954). How about, "that was the date (in 1962) that the Beatles recorded their first single at EMI Studios (you know, 'Love Love Me Do')".
This symbolism makes as much sense as noting with alarm that our 40th president sported three names with six letters each, supposedly marking the alleged number of the beast.

(If any association with September 11 should be made — with regards to the 2001 attacks, that is, not the 1973 coup — as several readers have pointed out to me, it would perhaps make more sense to call up the 1669 defeat of the Muslim armies besieging Vienna, bringing an end to the Ottoman advance into Europe.)

But what it all boils down to this: for symbolism to have any kind of meaning, it needs to stay close to its subject and, in my opinion, reflect on the better angels of our nature. What it should especially avoid is collective guilt, not least because that collective guilt is necessarily one-sided, i.e., used exclusively against Americans and their allies (or, historically, by any group against any group's alleged enemies).

For instance, it would probably not be too difficult to search through Chilean history and find some kind of tragedy (nation-wide or otherwise) on a September 11 that proved that the 1973 coup d'état was the Chileans' punishment for the earlier disaster (notwithstanding the fact that many believe that Pinochet's coup averted a far worse catastrophe for the country). In another example, which is actually far more coherent than simply noting a similarity of dates, many state that every setback by Bush or by a Bush ally amounts to (well-deserved) punishment for sending troops to Iraq, but because members of the Coalition of the Willing keep winning elections, this symbolism is discretely ignored. (I call this the wait, wait, wait syndrome.)

The use of symbolism says far more about those who wield it than about those the symbolism is meant to describe (and judge).

So, anyway: we know the date that Pinochet grabbed power in 1973.


But what was the date that he relinquished power?

What was the date in 1990 that Pinochet handed power back to a civilian government?

The answer is: March 11.

Now, we all remember what happened in Madrid on March 11, 2004, don't we?

So what is that supposed to mean? What is that supposed to symbolize?

Somehow, we are led to believe, the wholescale murder of 3,000 people in New York and Washington would not, or might not, have occurred had a strongman with no link to (and probably wholly unknown to) the perpetrators not grabbed power on that same date 28 years earlier.

What is the wholescale murder of 191 people in Madrid supposed to mean? That it would not have occurred had that same strongman not handed power back and had he remained in power 14 years earlier?

Your guess is as good as mine…
Le Monde's 911 Commemorations

• Looking Over TV Shows Inspired by 9-11, Le Monde Discovers (Surprise!) "a Culture of Fear"

• Hubert Védrine: Castigating Bush and the Neo-Cons, Former French Foreign Minister Says that the War on Terror Should Have Been Carried Out "With Discretion"

• André Glucksmann: Bin Laden Is Gone, Not The Strategy of Radical Hatred Without Quarter

The French Will Never Forget

The Legend of the Squandered Sympathy

Friday, September 07, 2018

There’s no disputing that the bent of most colleges is toward boosting blacks and Hispanics, which makes employers justifiably skeptical about their credentials

Following last week’s Justice Department decision to join a group of Asian-Americans in a civil rights lawsuit against Harvard University the online newspaper Vox rushed to post an article from an Asian-American, Alvin Chang, who seems to enjoy getting the short end of the stick.
Thus writes Benny Huang, who (as his name implies) has Asian connections himself.
Chang’s point, if you can call it that, is that only really bad people see affirmative action as harmful. He recounts an episode during an SAT prep class in which he first encountered resentment among Asian-Americans toward discriminatory affirmative action policy.
“During a snack break, another Asian kid in the class said to me, ‘You know we have to do better than even the white kids, right?’ I had never heard affirmative action framed that way — as a ‘bonus’ for black and brown people and a ‘penalty’ for white and especially Asian people.”
Well he should have heard affirmative action described that way because that’s exactly what it is. The other fellow in his prep course was obviously a whole lot more world-wise than Chang and yet we’re supposed to see him as borderline racist.
“At the time, I didn’t understand just how pernicious it was to think about affirmative action in those terms. Not only does that frame gloss over the reasons why race-conscious policies are necessary; it’s also the first step toward arguing that all race-conscious policies are unfair.”
Yeah, it’s a slippery slope from one logical thought to another. If we start thinking about affirmative action “in those terms”—in other words, for what it really is—we might start seeing the unfairness of affirmative action in other settings too. We might start seeing it as racial discrimination. And then we wouldn’t understand why it’s, um…”necessary.”

Perhaps that’s because it isn’t necessary. It’s merely desired, mostly by a group of people who don’t believe blacks and Hispanics can make the grade without being afforded a substantial handicap.

And maybe those people have a point. Studies have indicated that whenever affirmative action programs are deep-sixed, minority enrollment drops. This is absurdly intuitive. When the admissions department stops putting its thumb on the scale for a certain race, the proportion of that race in future freshman classes will be lower. Duh.

The Michigan public university system offers a good example. Following that state’s 2006 constitutional amendment which prohibited racial discrimination (“affirmative action”), minority enrollment dropped by about 30%. To affirmative action defenders the sharp decline is proof that continued discrimination against whites and Asians is “needed.” To the rest of us it’s proof that 30% of the minority students on campus were affirmative action babies who were taking someone else’s seat.

But that’s the “pernicious” way of looking at it. It also happens to be true.

Chang’s article struggles and ultimately fails to explain why affirmative action should not be understood as a system of bonuses and penalties distributed along color lines. Instead it makes the case that Asians are being manipulated by whites, as if Asians wouldn’t and shouldn’t be upset about a system that requires them to perform substantially better than other races to gain admission to the same schools.

In this regard, Chang reminds me of the white southerners of yesteryear who insisted that “their negroes” were content until a bunch of “outside agitators” descended to stir up resentment in the black community. Asians would apparently be thrilled to be punished for their skin color if it weren’t for those outside agitators. Blame them [shouldn't they be called deplorables?], not the discrimination, for Asian discontent.

 … The question is why Asians-Americans have become the face of the [lawsuit against Harvard]. Perhaps it’s because the penalty for being born Asian is stiffer than for being born white. Another possible explanation is that white people in our society aren’t allowed to complain about anything—not about legally codified discrimination, or being assaulted, or being cursed out by a mob while studying at the library.

White plaintiffs have traditionally failed in court to make the government live up to its own nondiscrimination statutes which unambiguously prohibit racial discrimination. The fourteenth amendment bans the practice at public universities and the Civil Rights Act of 1964—that law that everyone claims to adore but no one actually follows—bans it at all universities that accept federal money.

And yet white plaintiffs have not traditionally prevailed in cases that they should have won. … Which has forced whites to come up with clever ways of pushing back against policies that deliberately screw them over. Rather than saying that they oppose affirmative action because it harms them and their children economically, whites claim to oppose it because it harms Asians and their children economically. That’s true of course, but it sounds disingenuous.

Another approach is to argue that affirmative action actually hurts black Americans.

 … Then there’s the social stigma of affirmative action. This one addresses what happens after black and Hispanic students graduate and venture out into the job market. Many report that the value of their diplomas has been degraded because potential employers believe that they received preferential treatment on account of their race. This reaction is entirely rational because black and Hispanic applicants do receive preferential treatment because of their race. And perhaps it doesn’t end there. Sympathetic professors might have been rooting for minority students to succeed, going so far as to fudge their grades in the same way that they do for athletes. There’s no disputing that the bent of most colleges is toward boosting blacks and Hispanics, which makes employers justifiably skeptical about their credentials.

The liberals’ solution to this problem is pretty straightforward. Any employer who believes that the bar has been lowered for black and Hispanic applicants—even if it really has been lowered—should be relentlessly pilloried and sued into oblivion. My solution is a little more subtle: we ought to end the perception of special treatment by ending the reality of special treatment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Latest Item on the Left's List of Pieces of Evidence Proving Racism Is… Beards

In case you were wondering what the Left has on its racist list now,
sighs Kim Hirsch on the Victory Girls Blog,
The Atlantic just let us know. It’s beards. Apparently beards have a “racially fraught history,” or something.
Even allowing for the ridiculousness of ever-expanding ludicrous examples of racism — with a touch of sarcasm, Sarah Hoyt writes "SURE [BEARDS ARE RACIST], BUT THEN AGAIN, EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS" — it still stands to reason to point out, however, as I write in a comment, that, if anything, one can actually call the Americans' (and the Britishers') fashion for beards anti-racist: from pro-Turkish and pro-Arab to pro-Islamic. (Shookhran for the link, Maggie.)

Think about it: in the American Revolution, in the Napoleonic wars, in the entire first part of the 19th century, beards seem to be rare in the Western world (Europe and North America), certainly in polite society, if not inexistent. The Founding Fathers, American presidents, and generals, kings, emperors, and armies of all nations — all, or the vast majority of them, without facial hair.

In the second part of the 19th century, whiskers (whether beards or mustaches) are ubiquitous. In the 50 years between Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, the only elected president not to have whiskers would be William McKinley (elected 1896, four years before the turn of the century and a full third of a century after the Civil War).

The "modern" propensity for beards in America, and in the West, actually predates Honest Abe and the Civil War (1861-1865), although by less than a decade.
It started with the Brits, during their experiences in the Crimean War (1853-1856) next to their (dark-skinned) Ottoman allies.  Seeing the splendid Turks with their colorful uniforms and their magnificent beards, the British, both in the military and in civilian life, started the "fashion" of letting their whiskers grow in the mid-1850s, and it spread across the Atlantic.

In a photo album of Crimean War photos, it is close to impossible to find more than a handful of allied soldiers (British, French, Ottoman, or other) who do not sport some kind of facial hair. (As it happens, the rigors of the winters at Balaclava — as bad as the Russian winter of 1812, wrote one Irish soldier — were not entirely immaterial in helping to spread the fashion.)

(Incidentally, the bloodiest European war in the 100 years between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the beginning of World War I in 1914 (the Crimean War, 1853-1856), the bloodiest war in North America of the 19th century and also of all time (the Civil War, 1861-1865), and the bloodiest war in Latin America of the 19th century and also of all time (The Paraguayan War or the War of the Triple Alliance, 1864-1870) all broke out within 10 years or so of each other…)

As it happens, Americans also took to the fashion of the French units in North Africa, resulting in several Zouave units in both armies during the War Between the States.

That's right: if anything, you can call the British and American fashion for beards:
pro-Arab (or at least pro-Ottoman) and pro-Islamic. I don't know about you, but in my book, that would happen to fall in the anti-racist department…

La police française sous l'Occupation, précieuse alliée du IIIe Reich

Les 16 et 17 juillet 1942, 9 000 policiers et gendarmes français montrent aux autorités allemandes de quoi ils sont capables lors de la rafle du Vél d'Hiv. Durant l'Occupation, du simple gardien de la paix au préfet, les fonctionnaires français vont appliquer avec zèle la politique des Allemands, devançant même parfois leurs exigences.
Dans GEO du 1 septembre 2011, Cyril Guinet nous parle de La police française sous l'Occupation, "précieuse alliée du IIIe Reich" :
Et les autres, l'immense majorité des policiers français ? Pour la plupart, ils restent en place, dans l'expectative, attendant leurs nouveaux ordres. Ceux-ci ne vont pas tarder.Concrètement, le policier de base change très vite de métier : on ne lui demande plus de régler la circulation. En revanche, il doit désormais mettre en œuvre les mesures décidées par l'Etat français, sous la pression ou non des occupants. Il apprend à confisquer les postes de radio, faire respecter le couvre-feu et appliquer les lois anti-juives du régime de Vichy, édictées à l'automne 1940. Dans le métro, il s'assure que les juifs montent bien dans le wagon de queue qui leur est réservé. Dans les commissariats, il tient des permanences pour les enregistrer...

René Bousquet … qui concentre entre ses mains la quasi-totalité de la machine policière, veut montrer aux Allemands que son administration peut être moderne et efficace. Il inaugure des écoles où sont enseignées l'identification d'un suspect de face ou de profil, les filatures, les planques... Il augmente aussi les recrutements. La police attire de nombreux chômeurs mais aussi, à partir de février 1943, tous ceux qui souhaitent éviter le STO puisque cette administration offre une dispense automatique aux personnes qui la rejoignent. Au plus fort de la collaboration, les effectifs atteignent 120 000 hommes. Du jamais vu. Dans le même temps, on compte moins de 3000 policiers allemands sur le territoire.

Cette main-d'œuvre fraîchement embauchée peut rêver de promotions rapides. Car l'époque et le contexte sont propices aux carrières fulgurantes. Si on ne s'embarrasse pas trop de scrupules et qu'on choisit le bon service, on peut facilement sauter les échelons. …

Les Groupes mobiles de réserve s'occupent des sales besognes

Le travail de police devient presque entièrement politique. Dans les rues, les enquêteurs des RG se mêlent à la population. En civil, ils font la queue devant les magasins d'alimentation, espionnant les propos anti-allemands. Déguisés en postiers, en employés du gaz ou en ouvriers, ils organisent des filatures qui durent des semaines, parfois des mois, avant de déclencher un coup de filet. …

Gare à ceux qui tentent de camoufler leur étoile jaune!

Mais c'est dans la mise en œuvre de la politique anti-juive que la police française va se montrer la plus redoutable. La machine infernale se met en branle en mai 1941.
 … Et tout le monde collabore en vue de la plus grande efficacité possible. …


A l'automne 1940, le gouvernement de Vichy procède à une légère épuration administrative, écartant les fonctionnaires qui ne collaborent pas efficacement. En avril 1941, les effectifs des polices municipales sont intégrés dans la police nationale. Ils échappent ainsi au contrôle des maires, et la police nationale devient un puissant organisme d'Etat. …


Tandis que les agents sont occupés à traquer les juifs, les résistants et les francs-maçons, criminels et délinquants ont la belle vie. Ces années comptent parmi les plus belles de la pègre française. …

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

1944 : Pourquoi le général allemand épargna Paris

Par rapport à d’autres villes, la capitale est sortie quasi intacte des combats de la Libération. Pourtant, elle aurait pu payer cher sa fronde contre l’occupant. Décryptage.
Dans GEO Histoire du Vendredi 24 août 2018, Volker Saux explique pourquoi von Choltitz décida d'épargner Paris pendant les 10 jours de la libération fin 1944
Hitler n’avait aucune intention de préserver la Ville lumière, ni de la déclarer "ouverte" – c’est à dire rendue sans combats –, comme Rome en juin 1944. Le général von Choltitz, dernier gouverneur militaire du Paris occupé, reçut des ordres sans nuance, dont celui du 22 août :
"Paris est à transformer en un monceau de ruines. Le général doit défendre la ville jusqu’au dernier homme et périra s’il le faut sous les décombres." 
Pourquoi alors la capitale fut-elle épargnée ? L’explication réside d’abord chez von Choltitz lui-même, qui n’appliqua pas les ordres de son Führer. Non pas que l’homme soit porté à la mansuétude. Mais le général ne voyait pas la logique d’une telle destruction. La bataille de Normandie était perdue, les troupes allemandes se repliaient, les maigres contingents stationnés dans Paris évacuaient la ville. Ravager la capitale aurait été coûteux en vies humaines – y compris allemandes –, inutile d’un point de vue militaire et gênant pour la circulation des soldats du Reich se repliant depuis la Normandie.
Volker Saux nous apprend que le consul suédois n'était pas aussi neutre et désintéressé qu'on nous l'a présenté :

Le consul de Suède, un intérmédiaire clé

D’autres facteurs ont pu dissuader le haut-gradé allemand de passer à l’acte. Les pressions extérieures, d’abord. Celles du consul de Suède Raoul Nordling, intermédiaire clé entre von Choltitz et la Résistance, … aida à limiter la tension et les combats entre Allemands et résistants. "Francophile, de mère française et de père suédois, il avait à cœur de préserver la capitale, note Christine Levisse-Touzé, historienne et directrice du Mémorial du maréchal Leclerc à Paris. Il défendait aussi ses intérêts, puisqu’il possédait des parts dans l’entreprise de roulement à billes SKF en région parisienne – entreprise qui, par ailleurs, fournissait le Reich.
Voir aussi: Les premiers libérateurs de Paris en 1944 ne sont ni français ni américains, mais… espagnols

Monday, September 03, 2018

Les premiers libérateurs de Paris en 1944 ne sont ni français ni américains, mais… espagnols

 … le 24 août 1944, les premiers soldats de l’Armée de la Libération furent ceux de la Nueve, un bataillon composé de combattants défaits par Franco
Dans GEO Histoire du Vendredi 24 août 2018, Frédéric Granier nous apprend l’odyssée des soldats oubliés dans la libération de Paris
Reste maintenant à remporter la plus symbolique des victoires : Paris. Le 23 août 1944, la compagnie se met en route avec l’ensemble de la 2e DB. Les ordres de de Gaulle sont clairs : la première unité qui entre dans Paris doit être française. Mais Leclerc piétine en banlieue sud.

A la fin de la journée du 24, devant la difficulté de vaincre la résistance allemande, et craignant que les forces américaines ne les devancent, il ordonne à [Raymond Dronne] de pénétrer dans la capitale, avec seulement quelques blindés. Le souhait de de Gaulle est exaucé : la section qui tire les premiers coups de feu sur la place de l’Hôtel de Ville est bien française. Mais son lieutenant s’appelle Amado Granell, ex-capitaine anarchiste. 

Une plaque sera posée en leur honneur… en 2004 

L’ensemble de la 2e DB les rejoint un jour plus tard. Cependant, dans les journaux qui annoncent la libération de la capitale, le half-track "Guadalajara" est devenu le char "Le Romilly". Pour consacrer le triomphe de la résistance française, on rejette dans l’ombre l’action des valeureux combattants espagnols…

 … La fin de la guerre laisse un goût amer aux survivants : les aléas de l’Histoire ont placé Franco dans le camp de l’Ouest, celui du monde anticommuniste. Le retour de la République d’Espagne n’est guère une priorité pour la France et ses alliés… La plupart des combattants espagnols ne reverront jamais leur pays, tandis que leurs faits d’armes tomberont dans l’oubli. Il faudra attendre 2004 pour qu’une plaque en leur honneur de la Nueve soit installée sur le quai Henri-IV. Quant aux célébrations de la libération de Paris, elles commencent toujours le 25 août, jamais le 24…

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Is the Notion of Islamophobia Even Possible?

Not according to Peter O'Keefe, who writes:
Islamophobia is, by definition, impossible.

A phobia is an anxiety disorder in which the subject experiences an irrational and unreasonable fear that has no demonstrable basis in reality.

Anxiety about the intentions of Islam vis-à-vis Western society is hardly irrational or unreasonable given the constant clamoring of Islamic spokesmen for the subjugation and/or death of everyone unconvinced by its claim to being the ultimate authority about everything.

Friday, August 31, 2018

The 1944 Liberation of Paris: Ten Days that Shook la France

Eté 1944. Six mille soldats du Reich sont encore dans les murs quand l’insurrection éclate. Dix jours de combats incertains s’ensuivent, qui auraient pu se solder par un bain de sang. Retour sur ces journées mouvementées.
Dans GEO Histoire du Vendredi 24 août 2018, Frédéric Granier et Volker Saux racontent la Libération de Paris : le récit de dix jours mouvementés.
Difficile d’imaginer la Libération de la France sans les images des chars de Leclerc à la porte d’Orléans, ou celles de de Gaulle descendant les Champs-Elysées. Et pourtant, il s’en est fallu de peu pour que Paris rate le train de l’Histoire. 
"La ville n’avait plus aucune signification tactique. En dépit de sa gloire historique, Paris ne représentait qu’une tâche d’encre sur nos cartes ; il fallait l’éviter dans notre marche vers le Rhin"
raconte ainsi Omar Bradley dans ses mémoires. Au cœur de l’été 1944, l’avis de ce général américain est partagé par l’ensemble du commandement allié, pour qui la progression depuis la Normandie vers le front de l’est demeure la priorité absolue. Mais pour de Gaulle, Paris vaut bien une bataille…

Le chef de la France libre a compris que la force du symbole dépasse de très loin l’enjeu militaire. Non seulement la Ville lumière doit être prise, mais elle doit l’être par des troupes françaises ! De Gaulle s’en est soucié dès 1943, désignant le général Leclerc, chef de la 2e division blindée, pour libérer la capitale. Il a aussi fait nommer les préfets de police et de la Seine par le gouvernement provisoire d’Alger, et a chargé Alexandre Parodi de le représenter à Paris afin d’y préparer l’arrivée du Gouvernement provisoire de la République française (GPRF). Reste encore, après le Débarquement, à convaincre les Alliés d’envoyer une division française. Récit d’un été brûlant. …
Read the whole thing
"On peut estimer qu’au total la bataille de Paris se traduit sans doute par 3 400 morts et 5 500 blessés [ndlr : Allemands, FFI, forces alliées et civils confondus]", écrit Jean-François Muracciole dans son ouvrage "La Libération de Paris" (éd. Tallandier, 2013). On est très loin des hécatombes des batailles de Stalingrad ou de Berlin ! Enfin, rapportée à la puissance de l’opération Overlord (le Débarquement et la bataille de Normandie) qui s’achève au même moment, la libération de Paris n’est qu’un épiphénomène, qui pèse peu dans la défaite allemande à l’ouest. Mais la portée de l’événement est ailleurs. Dans le symbole, d’abord : les scènes de joie des Parisiens incarnent la fin du joug nazi en Europe de l’Ouest. Dans la politique, ensuite, par la victoire de la Résistance. Et par le sacre populaire de son chef, de Gaulle.
Voir aussi: Les premiers libérateurs de Paris en 1944 ne sont ni français ni américains, mais… espagnols

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Is it true that there’s no freedom of speech in France?

Alexander Boot recounts how he got censored in France:
When we met in Paris, [a charming French journalist] said she was envious of Britain, where it was still possible to express conservative views in all media.

The left, she said, had such tight control of the papers, broadcast media and publishing that many conservative books published by les Anglo-Saxons would never see the light of day in France.

As an example, she pointed at her heavily thumbed and bookmarked copy of my Democracy as a Neocon Trick, which she said was brilliant even though she disagreed with some of the points I made. The book, she lamented, ought to be widely read in France, but it would never be published.

 … Since my lovely and intelligent interviewer sounded like a run-of-the-mill British or American conservative, with a slight neo- tilt, I assumed that Radio Courtoisie was roughly in the same political band.

Anyway, the interview was recorded at the end of May and was scheduled to run today at midday, French time, and then again at midnight. I promptly told all my French friends about it, ordering them to listen on pain of death.

They all promised to do so, what with the fierce expression on my face. But, they said, they were surprised that Radio Courtoisie, which they described as ‘extreme right-wing’ and ‘pro-Poutine‘, would run my interview on that subject.

Knowing that I too am extreme right-wing to them, I was surprised. It’s all that political taxonomy, which in France is even more confused than here.

 … Late last night, my interviewer sent me an e-mail specifying the broadcast slots, and I was about to forward it to all and sundry in France. But then, seconds later, another e-mail arrived:
“I’ve just had a phone call from the Radio Courtoisie director and editor-in-chief … She has decided to cancel the broadcast because it ‘contains violent libellous accusations against Putin that could draw the ire of the Russian embassy’.”
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve been censored, but never for that reason.

For ‘violent’ though my accusations against Putin might have been, they certainly weren’t libellous – for the simple reason that they were all true.

 … So I suppose my interviewer was right when saying there’s no freedom of speech in France. I should have listened more attentively.
Read the whole thing™.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Did it ever occur to CNN that if these Muslims had not been stockpiling weapons and training children for school shootings, no one would need to be worried about “Islamophobia”?

As usual, the mainstream media is more concerned with imagined threats by (deplorable) segments of the U.S. population/of Western populations against minorities — threats that never seem to pan out — than they are about the real threats, direct or indirect, by minorities or others, against U.S./Western society.

In that perspective, Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer explains that "This is why they call CNN fake news":
Mass shootings, and they’re worried about a chimerical backlash against innocent Muslims that seldom, if ever, materializes[?!]

 … One wonders if it ever occurred to CNN that if these Muslims had not been stockpiling weapons and training children for school shootings, no one would need to be worried about “Islamophobia.”
As for Tim Brown, he goes further as he quotes part of the CNN article in a FreedomOutpost piece called CNN Is More Concerned That The New Mexico Islaimc Jihad Compound May Lead To "Racism & Islamophobia" [Than] They Are [About] What Actually Took Place There.
The Fabricating News Network, CNN, seems to be more concerned that the news around the New Mexico Islamic jihad compound where Islamists killed a young boy in an Islamic ritual and were training other young children to commit mass school shootings in their jihad effort will lead to a [rise] in racism and Islamophobia than they seem concerned over what was actually going on there and the apparent government coverup of it.

 … [CNN's] Emanuella Grinberg writes [that]
those who met [members of the black Muslim family] said they seemed friendly. A resident recalled how one of the men tenderly wiped the nose of a crying child.
 … The region’s history of welcoming outsiders has contributed to cross-cultural exchanges and a tolerant attitude that locals consider points of pride. Many are quick to distance the state’s countercultural vibe from the compound and its inhabitants, who are accused of training the children to commit mass shootings. But they also fear that the publicity around a case infused with allegations of terrorism, child abuse and faith healing might contribute to a rise in racism and Islamophobia.

 … “People come here and they want to be left alone and sometimes they do things that are unconventional,” said Malaquias “JR” Rael, whose family arrived in the Taos region in the mid-1800s. … “It can be difficult to be alarmed or judgmental, because people have been doing this kind of stuff for a long time.”
Isn't this the case in almost every single instance of Islamic jihad here in the States?  The Muslim seems normal and just like everyone else and then all at once, they go jihadi, right?

In a seperate piece, Robert Spencer adds that
The establishment media takes for granted that there is a rise of “anti-Muslim activity” in the US, … however [in Aaron Schrank's Southern California Public Radio report] … There are no examples given of the “marked increase in anti-Muslim activity,” and FBI figures show that hate crimes against Jews are much more common than hate crimes against Muslims.
But Muslim groups and Leftist groups in the US both find it useful to claim that Muslims are experiencing a wave of discrimination, harassment, and persecution in the US. This claim helps them demonize Trump and his attempt to limit immigration from jihadi hotspots, and to cast counterterror efforts in general in a bad light, because, you see, they create “hate” against Muslims. Just stay quiet and you’ll be okay.