Dec 10, 2015

A Response to William Saletan’s “At War with an Idea”

via TradYouth

I remember my mind being blown while reading Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene. The whole book is a masterpiece of popular science. He’s second only to Carl Sagan in his ability to make a scientifically illiterate teenager feel as if he’s standing shoulder to shoulder with brilliant men learning amazing things. He’s a prominent atheist, of course, but only because encouraging people to seek transcendence inwardly and spiritually would directly compete with his business model of profiting from the vain search for transcendence somewhere, somehow, in the material universe’s particles and processes.

Unlike the other big atheists, he’s gone on record admitting that he essentially abides and endorses Christianity’s cultural and moral framework (…almost). Furthermore, his genuine interest in critical thinking and skepticism increasingly puts him at odds with the ever more delirious and delusional Left. Even if you have no patience at all for Young Earth Creationism, you must admit it’s less preposterous than the belief that all the races are of perfectly equal intelligence and disposition, that Bruce Jenner is a truly female, and that Ahmed’s alarm clock stuffed into a suitcase was a brilliant science project. William Saletan aptly called all this science denialism endemic among the Left “Liberal Creationism” before an angry mob of them forced him to apologize.

Unlike Bill Nye or the “Black Science Guy,” Dawkins occasionally applies critical thinking to relevant social and political issues. He’s often off-base, but the effort’s clearly there. And unlike Saletan, he generally holds his ground when the SJW mob goes into hysterics. One socially relevant idea, popularly introduced by Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, is the notion of memetics, thinking about ideas in society in a manner one typically thinks in terms of biological natural selection of genes and organisms.

For me, the significance of this insight has shrunken since I was first introduced to it as an edgy atheist kid back in the nineties. Taken to its logical conclusion, it’s the height of biological reductionism. Not only would reductionists have us believe that we’re nothing more than a clump of cells with teeth and hair which only exists to replicate virally, but even that very notion is merely an emergent pattern of electrical pulses and chemical reactions which only exist to replicate virally.

Dawkins’ idea that ideas can virally replicate has been virally replicating like an actual virus in a kitschy sci-fi horror film, with a decidedly mixed impact on our understanding of the world around us. While the analogy between evolution and abstractions has genuine utility within limited contexts, memetics just as easily (…and perhaps more frequently) invite pseudo-intellectuals to go meta, evading critical analysis of the ideas themselves and the humans and societies those ideas exist within.

In Saletan’s latest, “At War With an Idea,” he ponders a frightening memetic prospect…
They’re looking for evidence that somebody somewhere directed or guided the killers, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Maybe they’ll find a connection. But the more disturbing possibility is that they won’t. Instead, it will turn out that Farook and Malik never received a suspicious package or a target assignment from abroad. What they received was an idea: Kill Americans.
Reminiscent of his cousin Sigmund, Saletan can’t help but diagnose rather than debate those who differ. Bless their hearts, all these terrorists have been haplessly infected with a mind virus that transforms its hosts into Manchurian Candidates who must “Kill Americans.” This sure does seem like some deep stuff. After all, how do you stop this “idea” from inflicting havoc without taking away everyone’s weapons and shutting it down?

Of course, the elites are actually trying to do both of these things. The reflexive response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the entire mainstream media, in one eerily united voice was that American citizens must be disarmed in order to stop the mayhem. Others are calling for prosecuting all crimethink as incitement to violence. None of them, even Saletan, seem to have stopped to consider that given the ubiquity of unregistered weaponry and the disparities in turnover rates in that weaponry, they would only be disarming themselves.

Entirely discounting political contacts who I studiously refuse to discuss weaponry with, my organic apolitical social circle includes more weapons of death than human beings. One family friend even collects cannons and medieval battle weaponry as a hobby. Nothing says Fourth of July like permanent hearing damage! Antique firearms, hunting shotguns, rifles, pistols, revolvers, samurai swords, …you name it. We got it. And I ain’t even all that country, I’ve never had an interest in firearms as a hobby or interest, and my poor marksmanship is the butt of jokes.

I don’t have the figures handy, but I’m pretty sure that’s all pretty ordinary for rural America. While I’m a true believer in the First and Second Amendment (the only two aspects of ideological Americanism worth standing for), I sort of perversely hope the Leftists keep up this terrible idea of trying to make it harder for people to access firearms. Leftists like to talk an awful lot about racial disparities in access to education, nutrition, and the interwebs. But one of the most stark racial disparities in America is in ready access to firearms.

Screwing with the Second Amendment would doubly serve to exaggerate that disparity in our favor while further alienating and radicalizing us. And when we become alienated, radicalized, and fighting mad, Saletan will surely diagnose us with some memetic condition, to be sure. To his credit, he seems to get that gun control is, objectively speaking, a non-starter.
I’m a skeptic of gun laws. The weapons used in San Bernardino were apparently purchased legally, under California’s relatively strict laws, and then modified illegally. Rounding up most of the guns in this country would be logistically impossible, and enacting mandatory registration would be an enormous political challenge.
With removal of weaponry off the table (sorta…), perhaps we can just do a thorough job of screening people to detect whether or not they’re liable to be terrorists?
To get a visa to the United States, Malik—who reportedly pledged her allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook post during Wednesday’s attack—had to go through an in-person interview, biometrics, and checks against terrorist watch lists. The review included her workplaces, travel history, and family. The process is supposed to be especially rigorous for people from extremist-infested countries such as Pakistan, where she was born. Then, to get a green card, she had to go through additional national security background checks using data from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. She passed both screenings, most recently in July. Now Pakistanis are trying to blame Saudi Arabia for radicalizing her while the Saudis claim to have no information linking her to militants.
The San Bernardino terror attack is especially problematic for the elites and their Leftist minions because the event completely unravels the narrative that they were running with, insisting that the Syrian refugees they’re attempting to bring in will be very carefully vetted to ensure that there are no radicals among them. If the Left were concerned with making sense, this would be quite a riddle for them to resolve.

Of course, the oligarchs are going to do what they’re going to do regardless of whether we’re persuaded to agree with them. The demographic engineering project our elites are engaged in completely transcends the democratic system of government which is ostensibly sovereign. The vast public spectacle presented by every prominent person in America except for Donald Trump is there to help calm the public down enough to not actively revolt while the poison pill of open borders is being forced down their throat.
But if you’re not willing to pursue some kind of gun registration or gun control, then you’re left with the psychology of the shooter. And what San Bernardino just demonstrated, in the grisliest way, is that we’re even less capable of tracking psychology than we are of tracking guns.
We’re perfectly capable of containing the “Kill Americans” meme if we’re allowed to. Instead of silly sci-fi speculation about Islamic jihad as some sort of “mind virus,” we could have an adult conversation about the who, what, when, where, and why of their terrorist acts. Who? Sunni Muslims. What? Attacks. When? Now. Where? Soft targets. Why?

Why, indeed.

As is often the case with an abusive relationship, both the perpetrator and the victim have arrived at a shared illusion warping the context of the relationship. ISIS ‘n pals insist that they’re crazed madmen who are too diabolical to be reasoned with and we’re all too eager to agree with them. There’s nothing novel about the intersection of warfare and spirituality. Whether it’s the Christian crusader, the Japanese kamikaze, or even the atheist clinging to his Enlightenment abstractions, humans tend to get a bit philosophical and metaphysical when engaging the prospect of imminent death.

Pamela Gellar, Geert Wilders, and the rest of the judaeophilic Islamophobes can join William Saletan in hinting that Islam itself is the root of the problem. Islam ultimately doesn’t belong in the West, but the problem is a tribal and political one of recent vintage with proximate causes. It’s more simple than it appears. The problem is that our government royally pissed off a specific group of people and then airlifted them into our hometowns. The solution is to stop fanning the flames over there and to stop bringing them over here.
  • Had Qaddafi not been sodomized to death by the American government,
  • Had Saddam Hussein not been gruesomely decapitated in a snuff film courtesy of the American government,
  • Had the Taliban been diplomatically rather than militarily challenged by the American government,
  • Had the American government intelligently partitioned a sovereign Sunni regime from Iraq’s carcass when it had the opportunity to do so,
…ISIS and associated networks wouldn’t have the public sympathy on the Arab street–the political oxygen–to achieve their ambitious goals.


NATO has been going around killing and causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Islamic world for decades, on behalf of the Israel Lobby, on behalf of the military-industrial complex, on behalf of the global capitalist agenda. Decades into it, the rivers of blood are finally spilling over into our own streets. I’m not asserting that American citizens deserve jihad. Plenty have it coming, to be sure, but most folks are too misinformed and misdirected to be morally accountable for what their government is doing in their name.

Islamic terrorism isn’t some irrational religious superstitious mind virus outbreak devoid of social or political context like killer bees or the H1N1 flu. That’s what William Saletan, the Jewish community, and the global capitalist oligarchs would have you believe. They want you to feel like you’re in the cult classic horror film Pontypool, where an infectious string of words causes the quiet Canadian village to descend into a maelstrom of zombie terror.

The problem is the result of stupid and evil political decisions and can be resolved with intelligent and virtuous political decisions.
So if you want to blame radical Islam, go right ahead.
Scumbag Saletan: “I’m not saying scapegoat the Islamic faith, but I’m not not saying it either. Just sayin’…”
And tell us how you’d monitor the flow of radical Islam from Syria to California.
If we had precluded Islamic and Middle Eastern immigration (not because they’re evil, mind you, but because they don’t belong here), then there would be far less radical Islam to monitor, and San Bernardino would have never happened. That’s off the table for William Saletan, of course. Jews are as partial to open borders as ticks are partial to anticoagulants. Repeat after me: White countries are for everyone! Sharply tightening visas would narrow the scope of concern. Offering financial incentives for their emigration would narrow the scope of concern. The cessation of war games and active support for Israeli aggression would even further reduce the likelihood of terrorism in California.

Of course, trying to offer genuine answers to political problems to a Jew is even less constructive than talking to a concrete wall. Concrete walls don’t try to figure out where you live and who your employer is to mercilessly hound you out of a livelihood and polite society after you try to reason with them.
And if you can’t answer that question, then ask yourself whether you love liberty so much that you’re willing to defend the right of everyone, including aspiring jihadists, to stockpile and bear unregistered arms.
Did the editor add this nonsensical closing sentence as part of Slate’s “gun control” campaign? Because Saletan vividly explained just a couple paragraphs earlier that “gun control” was both logistically and politically stupid. That’s how they operate. It doesn’t matter what the facts are or how many times you show them to be wrong. They just repeat the same things over and over again. If anybody’s a zombie infected with sinister viral ideas that have taken control of the host, it’s Saletan himself.

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