The first step to a season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities.
~ Steve Schmidt, John McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign Strategist, on renouncing the Republican Party
There is nothing on face of Steve Schmidt’s tweets explaining his departure from the Republican Party that I disagree with. BUT. The renewal that Schmidt is talking about won’t begin until people like him acknowledge their own complicity in bringing about the scourge of Trumpism. No repudiation of Trump would be complete without that.
People tend to think of the Holocaust as an event, or a constant: Hitler came to power, next stop Auschwitz. This is far from historical fact, however. The Holocaust was a process, with a beginning, a middle and, if not an end, then at least a near-culmination. There was an arc that took European societies from accepting Jews as neighbors, fellow citizens and even prominent members of the community — if with a dogwhistle here and there, and occasional down-home Jew-hating talk — to wholesale slaughter, with a side serving of unbridled abuse, rape, torture and gleeful psychological sadism. It didn’t happen overnight.
The proto-Nazis spent the 1920’s spreading vicious, (literally) cartoonish anti-Semitic propaganda. Those were the Der Stürmer years. Relentlessly, the future “winners” of the German state called Jews animals, vermin, criminals, racial degenerates, ideological enemies of society. The first race laws began to be enacted in 1933. Then, in 1935, Jews, Roma and other “undesirables” were stripped of their citizenship and civil rights. Then came the pogroms. Then came the ghettos. And then the murders began. Sporadic mass executions were followed by systematic, mechanized slaughter of human beings throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.
This post was born out of my vague but unrelenting depression over the suicide of Anthony Bourdain (and the predictable Trumpist reaction to it, which I am not going to link to). I wanted to lighten the mood, so I started making a list of some “out there” foods and drinks that I’ve enjoyed (not always literally) over the course of my life.
And you know, a strange and wonderful thing happened.
Those who read my blog know I don’t have a particularly sunny disposition. I tend towards gloom and pessimism, and I absolutely abhor mental exercises meant to be inspirational and uplifting. So it came as a surprise when it occurred to me after making this list: my life has been AWESOME. I’ve been so focused on tragedy, danger, melancholy, anxiety, that I forgot, for a long time, to stop and look back and marvel at what an amazing adventure it’s been so far. I am at once overjoyed, and not a little creeped out by the fact that this unexpected ray of sunshine came into my life from such horror and sadness.
This week, the voters of Santa Clara County, California, recalled Judge Aaron Persky by a large margin. Good riddance.
In 2016, Persky presided over the trial of Brock Turner, a Stanford freshman convicted of
rape assault with the intent to commit rape and “penetration of an intoxicated woman”. The case generated a tornado of media coverage, and featured a shattering victim impact statement, an obnoxious dad and sanctimonious victim-blaming. Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail (he ultimately only served three) and three years’ probation. The sentence was widely condemned as shockingly lenient, considering the circumstances of the crime, and ultimately cost Persky his judgeship.
During the nasty, messy recall campaign Persky’s defenders have been both vocal and eloquent in their opposition. The argument of the anti-recall campaign boils down to the idea that Persky merely followed California’s sentencing guidelines, which enumerate factors relevant to considering leniency.* Another, frankly paradoxical, justification for Persky’s sentence is that the guidelines simultaneously give judges a lot of discretion in sentencing AND somehow tie judges’ hands. If you care about this case, I urge you to read not only the victim’s impact statement, but also Brock Turner’s statement and Judge Persky’s sentencing decision. Having read all those, here is where I believe Persky and his defenders went wrong:
Why are American colleges and universities so liberal? That’s one college-related question you hear right-wingers ask often. “Why are there so few conservative professors?” is another. Why are conservative viewpoints not being taught? Why are college students so “intolerant” of free speech, specifically speech that advocates white “identitarianism” and “political incorrectness”? Why are the academia such snowflakes?
Now, I could go into great detail about how conservatives actually do have a sizable (and loud) presence on college campuses, and how extreme allegations about colleges “indoctrinating” students or “teaching communism” come from people who have never set foot in the academia. But, while this is true, I want to acknowledge that at the end of the day, the academia does lean markedly left. The purpose of this entry isn’t to dispute the degree of the lean; it’s to explain why it leans left at all. So if you are a conservative and you are wondering why college students and teachers are generally hostile to conservatism, here is your multipart answer.
I’ve been hesitating to write about this incident for some time. I have a couple of guidelines for my Halloween posts that are not easy to meet: the post must be horror-themed, it must be about a true story, but it may not treat human suffering as a source of amusement. (I guess that pretty much encapsulates the problem with Halloween as such.) I therefore must apologize to my readers in advance that this post deals with an absolutely horrific death that I wouldn’t wish on my own worst enemy. If it makes any difference, the victim was a very, very bad person. Very bad. So bad, in fact, that „the Bad“ became his royal moniker. I am, of course, talking about Charles the Bad a/k/a Charles Le Mauvais(*) a/k/a Charles II, King of Navarre from 1349 to 1387.