The Long View 2002-08-22: Omens of the Last Days

John made a couple of interesting points here. First, American privilege in the world probably isn't what you think it is. In the case cited here, we use our control of the global financial system to force Swiss banks and German corporations to comply with our demands regarding Holocaust reparations. A more recent example would probably be the way we force international banks to follow American standards of accounting, no matter where they do business, under the guise of preventing money laundering.

I'm sure this is all meant well, and probably polls well with the American public when it can be bothered to notice, but that very sense of self-righteousness probably annoys the victims of our bullying all the more.

Second, John predicted that if the slavery reparations movement in the United States ever passed the laugh test, it would envenom national politics for decades. In the last 13 years, the reparations movement hasn't really made much headway. As John noted, if we were to apply the purported principles of the movement in an impartial legal fashion, as Americans are very good at doing, no institution would be safe. You can suspect that the movement gets strung along for precisely this reason: it is seen as socially useful to hold together one of the major coalitions in domestic politics, but it cannot be allowed to succeed because it would destroy everything.

As it turns out, identity politics has managed to envenom national politics, but not in precisely this way. 2014 saw a major victory for the Left in the Culture Wars. Since then, the victors have wandered the country finishing off the wounded survivors of the other side. In particular, social media has found new role in stirring up digital mobs to demand the heads of various dissenters. There is a certain element of randomness in this. If you follow the Twitter feeds of the most vigorous activists, you will see plenty of denunciations hurled. Some of the stick. Most of them don't. However, there is a growing cottage industry in sniffing out dissenters from the new orthodoxy.

John also mocks the New York Times. It is pretty easy to pick on the Times. As the American paper of record, it has the biggest profile and most prestige. However, it also hires the best reporters and writers, so if you know how to read the articles, you can find out a lot. However, that usually means wading through an eye-glazing lede and some paragraphs that ensure the narrative remains uncomplicated before the writer's conscience kicks in and the actual facts start to come up.

However, it is also tempting to see the paper of record as occasionally willing to shape the narrative a bit. A good example would be the aptly named clusterfake surrounding the University of Virginia. In this case, the Times kept pushing the story even after it started to fall apart under critical scrutiny, but it was seemingly too good to pass up.

Omens of the Last Days
Am I the only person who thought it a little odd that there was a two-headed baby on the frontpage of the Sunday New York Times of August 18? It was not precisely a two headed baby, but two otherwise healthy twins, joined by the tops of their heads. They are in Dallas to see whether doctors can figure out a way to separate them. God speed to them and their parents, but why was it necessary to put such a picture on the frontpage of any newspaper, even below the fold? When tabloids run pictures of alien babies, they at least use fake pictures. We hope.
Though oblivious of the prodigies on its own frontpage, that same Sunday Times ran an essay, in Section Four, entitled "Fever Dreams: When Reality Feels Like a Sci Fi Movie." What chiefly got the editors exercised was the flurry, well, the deluge of stories from around the world about unusually heavy rains and consequent flooding. There have in fact been a lot of floods in recent weeks, from Galveston to the Yangtze. Still, the record for alarming environmental stories was probably set in 1988, a ferociously hot year when it seemed as if all the major forests in the world were burning down simultaneously. I am told that you needed a shortwave radio to really appreciate it, however.
Speaking of obliviousness at the Times, I can only concur with the assessment of the Weekly Standard that, on certain topics, the Times has given up reporting actual events and simply reports what the editors wished had happened. The Weekly Standard is particularly upset with the Times's pseudo journalism about the Bush Administration and Iraq, though the list of issues on which the Times is living in an alternative universe could be easily expanded.
There was a Philip Dick story in which something like this happened. In that story, the Times is a wholly automated operation that survives an interplanetary war with Earth's own colonies. When a war crimes commission lands, it feeds them a carefully doctored account of what happened. In our world, the Times's characteristic distortions are becoming so predictable that you really could write an algorithm for them.
In addition to Fire, Flood, and the Great Deception, another mark of the Endtimes conspicuous today is Locusts, which these days take the form of Lawyers. These creatures corralled hundreds of the relatives of the victims of 911 and persuaded them to file a class action suit in federal court against everyone and every thing associated with Saudi Arabia, or at least that large subset of Saudi persons and things with conspicuously deep pockets. Because of a typo, the suit was originally for 100 trillion dollars. This was corrected to a trillion, not that it makes a difference.
This is precisely what we do not have courts for. You really don't want to live in a world in which foreign policy is conducted through litigation, or the threat of it. That is one of the things wrong with the world court. The immediate problem is that the court system of the United States is now hospitable to such suits, often backed by political lobbies. The latter often have enough clout to make it impossible for foreign companies to do business in the United States unless they pay what in effect is protection money. In the matter of Holocaust-related claims, for instance, the treatment of German companies, and especially of Swiss banks, has been nothing less than an outrage. Americans often wonder what Europeans mean when they talk about the United States throwing its weight around. They mean this.
The woes we have considered so far were only the beginning of evils, however. Now the Crawling Chaos itself is upon us, in the form of the Reparations Movement. Though it has been in preparation for some time, a campaign to introduce it to a wider public launched over the weekend. Law suits are to follow. Allegedly, this has something to do with slavery, but unfortunately I went to law school, so I have never been able to understand the rationale.
I do understand that the Movement is a huge, stinking scam, the sorry terminus of the Civil Rights Movement, and that anyone who supports it is a fool or a crook. The Reparations Movement could envenom politics in the United States for decades, should the day ever come when it can pass the laugh test. Happily, though, even the liberal media gave relatively light coverage to the public roll-out, perhaps in part because of the viciousness of the remarks made at some of the reparations rallies.
On that encouraging note, we should look up, for salvation is at hand: the Silly Season stories will end, and we may yet live to see the New Dispensation of September.

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