That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, like the CIA with its history of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup where they take the elected President and prevent him from enacting his policy. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that.
– From Glenn Greenwald’s recent interview with Democracy Now
Earlier today, I posted the following tweet:
Still waiting for "the resistance" to arrive.
So far it looks like an alliance between Romper Room and Allen Dulles.
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) February 16, 2017
This observation was merely my latest twist on a theme I’ve been hammering home ever since Trump won the election. Namely, given there are so many obvious things to be concerned about when it comes to Trump (his love affair with Goldman Sachs, support of civil asset forfeiture and a statist mentality overall), why are we being manipulated into focusing all our outrage on a largely invented conspiracy theory that he is some sort of Putin stooge?
The reason is both extremely simple and extraordinarily clever. The main reason Russia is such an obsession within the fake “resistance,” is because it’s a way to demonize Trump while defending the police state apparatus. In other words, it prevents well-meaning people from taking Trump to task on issues that really matter. This way, they can simply distract with Russia noise and continue to loot and pillage society at large. It’s genius really. You create a fake yet salacious narrative and rally the gullible public around it in order to distract from real domestic problems. This way you can be “anti-Trump,” while at the same time being pro-Wall Street fraud, corporatism, war, unconstitutional spying, and the national security state. This is your “resistance” as it stands today.
For example, nobody should cheer the following, which was reported yesterday by The Daily Caller:
The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.
“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Retired Col. James Waurishuk, who spent three decades in top military intelligence posts and served at the National Security Council, said in an interview with TheDCNF. “We’ve never seen to the extent that those in the intelligence community are using intelligence apparatus and tools to be used politically against an administration official,” he said.
“The knives are out,” said Frederick Rustman, who retired after 24 years from the CIA’s Clandestine Service and was a member of its elite Senior Intelligence Service.
The intelligence community’s sprawling bureaucracy is organizing to topple the Trump presidency, Rustman charged in an interview with TheDCNF.
This is a very dangerous game to play. You open this box and there’s no closing it up again. As someone named David Hines so wisely noted on Twitter earlier today:
Problem w/ high-status endorsement of a Deep State Coup is if winning elections ain’t enough, everybody will start thinking in other terms.
— David Hines (@hradzka) February 14, 2017
Which brings me to the next question. How are so many of our fellow citizens being so easily herded into obsessing about Russia conspiracy theories, when we face so many dire, existential problems?
The useless mainstream media is obviously a key part of the problem, but there’s more. Specifically, I think what’s been going on at U.S. universities is equally destructive. Indeed, it seems the minds of our children have been stunted in a very damaging way by the people in charge of “higher education.”
To explain the extent of the problem, I want to highlight a few passages from an excellent article by social psychologist at NYU’s Stern Business School, Jonathan Haidt.
The term microaggression has swept through the academy in English speaking countries in the last two or three years. Lilienfeld (2017, this issue) has done the academy a great service in analyzing the concept and showing why it is not ready to serve as the scientific basis for new policies and programs being rolled out at many universities. In this commentary, I will extend Lilienfeld’s analysis and show why the “microaggression program” (as I’ll call the combination of theory and on-campus applications) is more damaging and less salvageable than Lilienfeld suggests. In fact, it may be the least wise idea one can find on a college campus today.
To write my first book, The Happiness Hypothesis (Haidt, 2006), I read a large number of ancient texts and extracted every psychological claim I could find. I organized ancient wisdom into 10 “great truths.” It’s hard to identify the one greatest truth of all time, but surely one of the top three most important, most generative, and most life-improving psychological insights, discovered thinkers in all major civilizations, is the importance appraisal:
The whole universe is change and life itself is but what you deem it. (Marcus Aurelius, 1964; Meditations, 4:3)
What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. (Buddha, The Dhammapada, in Mascaro, 1973)
The ancients knew that we don’t react to the world it is; we react to the world as we construct it in our own minds. They also knew that in the process of construction we are overly judgmental and outrageously hypocritical; we urgently need to reduce our moral certainty and cultivate generosity of spirit:
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? . . . You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7:3–5)
It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see one’s own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice. (Buddha, The Dhammapada)
The microaggression program teaches students the exact opposite of ancient wisdom. Microaggression training is—by definition—instruction in how to detect ever smaller specks in your neighbor’s eye. Microaggression training tells students that “life itself is exactly what you think it is—you have a direct pipeline to reality, and the person who offended you does not, so go with your feelings.” Of course, the ancients could be wrong on these points, but the empirical evidence for the importance of appraisal and the ubiquity of bias and hypocrisy is overwhelming (I review it in chapters 2 and 4 of The Happiness Hypothesis). As Lilienfeld shows, the empirical evidence supporting the utility and validity of the micro- aggression concept is minimal at best.
I think the section of Lilienfeld’s article that should most make us recoil from the microaggression program is the section on personality traits, particularly negative emotionality and the tendency to perceive oneself as a victim. These are traits—correlated with depression and anxiety disorders—that some students bring with them from high school to college. Students who score high on these traits perceive more microaggressions in ambiguous circumstances. These traits therefore bring misery and anger to the students themselves, and these negative emotions and the conflicts they engender are likely to radiate outward through the students’ social networks (Christakis & Fowler, 2009). How should colleges (and other institutions) respond to the presence of high scorers in their midst? Should they offer them cognitive behavioral therapy or moral validation? Should they hand them a copy of The Dhammapada or a microaggression training manual.
It’s bad enough to make the most fragile and anxious students quicker to take offense and more self-certain and self-righteous. But what would happen if you took a whole campus of diverse students, who arrive from all over the world with very different values and habits, and you train all of them to react with pain and anger to ever-smaller specks that they learn to see in each other’s eyes?
Indeed, it’s become clear to me that we have more or less raised at least one generation of zombies in this country, and it appears the guardians of higher education are hellbent on creating more. Zombies don’t lead, they follow — mindlessly and destructively. We can see them everywhere, on both the right and the left, as the level of dialogue descends into the gutter and we appear entirely incapable of addressing any of our real problems, let alone solving them.
Meanwhile, if you want to get a sense of where the victim mentally obsession eventually gets you, take a look at what’s currently happening at the University of California San Diego.
Chinese students are joining their peers on American campuses in getting woke. Their cause? Defending the official line of the Communist Party.
On Feb. 2, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) formally announced that the Dalai Lama would make a keynote speech at the June commencement ceremony.
The announcement triggered outrage among Chinese students who view the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as an oppressive figure threatening to divide a unified China. A group of them now plans to meet with the university chancellor to discuss the content of the upcoming speech.
The awkwardness doesn’t end there. As the aggrieved students have trumpeted their opposition, their rhetoric has borrowed elements from larger campus activist movements across the United States. The upshot: What Westerners might perceive as Communist Party orthodoxy is mingling weirdly with academia’s commitment to diversity, political correctness, and other championed ideals.
Opposition to the Dalai Lama among Chinese authorities is nothing new, of course. Less recognized in the West is that many Chinese citizens feel the same way as the government. At UCSD, the Chinese-student opposition to the invitation came instantly. Just hours after the announcement, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) issued a lengthy, Chinese-language note on WeChat saying it had communicated with the Chinese consulate about the matter.
UCSD is a place for students to cultivate their minds and enrich their knowledge. Currently, the various actions undertaken by the university have contravened the spirit of respect, tolerance, equality, and earnestness—the ethos upon which the university is built. These actions have also dampened the academic enthusiasm of Chinese students and scholars. If the university insists on acting unilaterally and inviting the Dalai Lama to give a speech at the graduation ceremony, our association vows to take further measures to firmly resist the university’s unreasonable behavior. Specific details of these measures will be outlined in our future statements.
This is not the first time that overseas Chinese students at US colleges have voiced opposition to certain campus events perceived as disrespectful to China. In 2008, hundreds gathered at the University of Washington to rally against the Dalai Lama’s acceptance of an honorary degree. But typically, criticism is couched in familiar tropes like “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people,” rather than failing to account for diversity.
“If there were an objection to the Dalai Lama speaking on campus 10 years ago, you would not have seen the objection from Chinese students being framed within the rhetoric of diversity and inclusion,” says professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom, who researches modern Chinese history at the University of California, Irvine. “There is a borrowing of rhetorical strategies.”
John Li, a UCSD student and principal member of the CSSA who requested Quartz not use his real name, says the chancellor invited a group of overseas Chinese students for a meeting on Feb. 15. According to him, the group won’t ask the chancellor to disinvite the Dalai Lama. But it will request that he “send out statements that clarify the content of Dalai Lama’s speech,” “make sure his speech has nothing to do with politics,” and “stop using words like ‘spiritual leader’ or ‘exile’” to describe the Dalai Lama.
Li, the CSSA member, says that he hasn’t engaged with any non-Chinese student in person regarding Tibetan history and the nature of the Dalai Lama’s politics. But he’s nevertheless frustrated by a lack of consideration toward the arguments his Chinese peers share on Facebook.
Yet several factors could cause Chinese overseas students to grow more vocal in expressing their opinions in matters of politics, which at times may or may not conform with views held by most Westerners.
For one thing, more overseas Chinese students are studying in the US than ever before. According to the Institute of International Education, more than 304,000 international students were attending university in the US during the 2014-2015 academic year, marking a nearly fivefold increase from a decade prior.
UCSD, along with other public universities in California and in the Midwest, has seen some of the highest uptake in admissions from Chinese international students. Data published in the fall of 2015 placed the school’s total overseas Chinese student population at 3,569—marking 10.6% of the total student population, and 55.7% of the international student population.
These students also tend to pay full tuition. Indeed, some of the complaints among Chinese students on Facebook center around how they find it unfair that that their monetary contributions to the school aren’t reflected in the choice of the speaker.
There’s also suspicion among some academics that CSSA, which represents students at UCSD and dozens of other US universities, sometimes serves as a conduit for Chinese consulates to promulgate Communist Party orthodoxy on overseas campuses. Last week, an official at the Chinese embassy in London reportedly phoned Durham University’s debate society, urging it to cancel an appearance by Anastasia Lin, a Chinese-Canadian beauty queen and vocal human rights activist. The school’s CSSA issued a statement also condemning Lin’s appearance.
In its initial statement opposing the Dalai Lama’s appearance, UCSD’s CSSA wrote that it had “been in contact with the People’s Republic of China Consulate General in Los Angeles at the earliest opportunity since the matter arose,” and “was waiting for the advice of the Consulate General.”
Li tells Quartz that this part of the letter is “a mistake.”
When the Dalai Lama receives more protest from America’s college kids than Lloyd Blankfein, you know something’s very wrong.
Still waiting on the resistance.