America’s Autoimmune Disorder


In keeping with my earlier post about curing Rhode Island’s political ills, Jonah Goldberg’s metaphor that America has an ideological autoimmune disorder is spot on:

I loved David Brooks’s BoBos In Paradise, but its biggest flaw was in underestimating how much of the so-called bohemian-bourgeois lifestyle came pre-loaded with very political features. In 1997 Brooks wrote in The Weekly Standard that “one of the striking things about Burlington [Vermont] is that it is relatively apolitical.” I really don’t think that was true. More likely: Burlington was — and is — so uniformly liberal that even an astute observer might confuse stultifying political conformity for apoliticalness (not a word, I know, but like they said in Fast and Furious 3, you get my drift).

It’s telling that when Phil Griffin predicted MSNBC would overtake Fox News by 2014 (Stop laughing!). He said he wanted to do it by turning MSNBC into a “lifestyle” network. “It’s a mistake for us to limit ourselves to news,” he told The New Republic. Instead, he wanted to build up something he dubbed, “the MSNBC lifestyle.” This is the sort of thinking you fall into when you can’t see where politics ends and “lifestyle” — i.e., life — begins.

I’m not a big fan of generational stereotyping, but it’s fair to say that a large number of Millennials constitute the first big cohort of kids to be fully raised within this lifestyle-ized politics.

I’d add to this is that the Boomers and GenXers who taught this way of thinking to the Millennials have spouted it for so long they’ve come to believe it’s true just as fully as if they’d been raised on it themselves.  As Goldberg suggests, we’ve allowed too many of our co-culturalists to develop allergies to the sort of debate and critical thinking that is indispensable to a self-governing population.  But I’d say it’s worse than that:  Malignant progressivism attacks the very principles and preferences that allow a society to remain healthy and protect itself — from strong families to notions of property rights to freedom of speech.

From my perch in Rhode Island, where this autoimmune disorder has been coupled with the flight of any voters who figure out the problem, I don’t know if there’s a cure.  How do you turn things around when nobody with social power wants to, when those who might gain social power and grab the wheel decide it’s just more practical to leave, and when everybody else finds change impossible and keeps their heads down, hoping for a civic miracle that will allow them to keep making a living while not having to think about it all too much?

  • guest

    This is really rich coming from someone who bans anyone from their web site for even the most minor of disagreements with you

    • Justin Katz

      You’re a liar.

      • guest

        Reduced to the ol’ Ad Hominem arguments now, I see

        But that does not change the fact that YOU are just as big a repressor of speech & debate as the PC Libtards we both hate

        My political hero is Ronald Reagan — and I didn’t agree with him 100% of the time. Heck, I don’t agree with *myself* 100% of the time. So why would you expect me to agree with you 100% of the time ??

        • Justin Katz

          See, when an anonymous commenter makes vague accusations, it is that person’s fault that the only responses are general and non-specific. Based on the only available information in this thread, you are a liar. If you want something more detailed than that, have the integrity to use your name, or at least state facts that can be checked and disputed. In other words, stop acting like a cowardly progressive.

          • guest

            I tried using my RL name & home town when I posted as George from Warwick. That username was banned

            So I re·registered under a long-used handle, ShannonEntropy. That username was also banned

            Both times it occurred shortly after I posted something that disagreed with you

            The second time, it was after I stated that all-day kindergarten was a waste of money and nothing more than taxpayer-subsidized child care. Oh, and as for proof, I posted a Link that supported that view — as I often do when I know of references that back up my opinions

            Specific enough for you ??

          • Justin Katz

            Yes, that’s very helpful, because I can now tell you that I didn’t ban either of those names. In the 15 years I’ve been doing this stuff, I’ve banned very few people, and all of those I can remember, I made a specific statement in the comments of having done so.

            Sometimes spam filters catch people up (particularly if they have IP addresses that vary, as used to happen with AOL).

            What message do you get when you try to post?

          • guest

            I get “ERROR: Invalid username”

            When I try the password recovery using the email addy I registered with, I get =►

            “ERROR: There is no user registered with that email address.”

            My son-in-law is an IT specialist with a major telecommunications firm. He says that usually a web site operator will ban an IP address

            … but then the banned will just go to a library or a Wifi hotspot or use an anonymous proxy server to continue posting. But by banning a username, the banned’s “persona” is deleted, meaning they will either give up or have to post anonymously

            The latter is instantly “suspicious” & makes them look like a ‘troll’ — and the operator can then attack them for posting anonymously

            Sounds suspiciously to me like what happened here

            Believe me — nothing would make me happier than to learn that all this is just a technical glitch

          • Justin Katz

            We’re using Disqus, over which I don’t appear to have as much control as previous built-in systems gave us. (Of course, the major positive is that I don’t spend hours deleting spam every week.)
            From my end, it looks like both “George from Warwick” and “ShannonEntropy” are active accounts, although if I’m reading it correctly, they both have messages that have been automatically marked as “spam,” for some reason, although I don’t have them in my spam folder. Have you used these accounts to comment on any other sites?
            I don’t know if it’ll make any difference, but I’ve “whitelisted” both accounts, which looks like about all I can do to try to resolve the problem.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Dog Darn … it worked !!

            ♥ THANKS ,, Justin !! ♥

          • Mike678

            Can we assume that you are retracting your earlier “ban” accusations? This way we can get past the “liar” comments.

          • LiuD

            You’re still a liar…

          • ShannonEntropy

            Life is short, and truth a gem which loves the deep,
            And all things weighed in custom’s falsest scale;
            Opinion an omnipotence, whose veil
            Mantles the earth with darkness, until right
            And wrong are accidents, and men grow pale
            Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
            And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much light.

            A quote from yet another great George …
            George Gordon Lord Byron
            Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

        • helen

          Justin has always seemed to respect freedom of speech.It seems such a rare quality today and one worthy of respect. I’ve had problems posting here too because of the newer system.

    • Max

      Liar and stalker.

  • Warrington Faust

    First, I recall visiting Burlington about 10 years ago. I definitely received the impression that it was “liberal;” I did not really investigate, I just took the impression from bookstore and coffee shop names. Much as I draw an opinion from the “Blue State Coffee Shop” on Thayer street. That is more blatant than anything I recall in Burlington.

    About the discussion above. I also posted an opinion that “full day kindergarten” was taxpayer funded day care. I don’t recall even a threat of being banned.

    • Max

      Well if it means anything, it has been highly touted over on RIF in the past. Of course I’m banned from the site so it’s been a while. You can’t be anymore banned than that. LOL!

      • helen

        That’s so funny! I was banned from a big nationwide Conservative site for arguing with someone in favor of Ron Paul the last time he ran for President.
        I wouldn’t feel bad(not that you do) about getting banned from RIF(lol).

    • Mike678

      People often jump to conclusions. Best to be moderate in accusations and apologize when incorrect.. In short, be civil.

      No one is perfect, however :)

  • guest

    Just sayin’, I do find it interesting that posters that agree with Justin don’t seem to have these “technical” problems with comments disappearing.

    • Justin Katz

      Or maybe most people send me email to ask what’s going on, and we resolve the issue without the accusations.

    • Warrington Faust

      Guest, how would you know that they do not have “technical problems”? The fact that some comments appear does not prove that all comments appear. At best, it creates a rebuttable presumption.

      I don’t think calling someone a liar is properly an ad hominem attack. It attacks the truthfulness of the facts alleged, as well as the veracity of the proponent of that fact.