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Agreeing to Disagree
It's Complicated

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Defending White Privilege

A post on Civil List a couple of weeks ago caught my eye:

This is not an attack on anyone, nor directed at anyone in particular, but since bribes have been mentioned... Please for the love of god do NOT pay bribes or employ shady fixers who can "help you" do things that can't be done! They do not have some magical tramite unknown to everyone else; they know public servants and bribe them.

Your laziness is contributing to the corruption and lawlessness in someone else's country.

For YOU it may be a matter of getting a driver's license faster, getting out of paying a speeding ticket, or getting SAPASMA to hook your house up sooner, but the corruption you are helping to further is a matter of life or death for millions of Mexicans.

What's wrong with you?

Other users objected to the post's self-righteous tone: If you don't agree with my conclusions, then you are outside "the love of god." If you see the subject in a more nuanced way, "What's wrong with you?" Like so much of what passes for dialogue these days, this is virtue-signaling; I am better than you.

On one hand the Civil List post is an unobjectionable request not to further corruption. On the other hand it is an example of the mindset of "white privilege." It asserts that our actions as expats are pivotal in "a matter of life and death for millions of Mexicans." It is an elitist perspective; we can save Mexicans from their own corrupt culture.

As long as you are shielding, sheltering or acting in favor of others, you are not treating them as equals, you are telling them that they need your help. We take care of children.

I understand that the issue is complicated, that it allows for various interpretations and conclusions. I'm trying to inject some nuance into the conversation, some of that middle ground that we so desperately need.

Defending Looting

It's been shown that the vast majority of young Americans cannot find Ukraine on the map. Hell, they can't find Pennsylvania. I'm sure that a great percentage of them do not know that bread comes from wheat or that milk comes from cows. "Food comes from the supermarket, doesn't it?"

This ignorance was on display in an NPR article, an interview with the author of the book In Defense Of Looting. This article caused quite a stir on social media. So much criticism was received that NPR revised the article five days after publishing it, but the dumbness remains:

"Most stores are insured; [looting is] just hurting insurance companies on some level. It's just money. It's just property. It's not actually hurting any people."

Insurance, when it exists, covers only part of the loss. Maybe not physically, but people are hurt and badly.

"To say you're attacking your own community is to say to rioters, you don't know what you're doing. But I disagree."

Neighborhoods take multiple decades to recover from riots, if they ever do.

"So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free."

The author here asserts that looting stores is a more equitable way of distributing goods than is paying for them over the counter. This having "things for free" assumes that the goods in Target, like the food in the supermarket, magically appear on the shelves and that the big, bad capitalists mean-spiritedly choose to sell those goods instead of giving them away for free.

I am not surprised that youth, who have been educated exclusively on Critical Studies, a philosophy that denies that there are facts and objective reality, are so childish. What does surprise me is that the media promotes such foolishness. Where are the adults?

Defending the Planet

Reasonably speaking, we are not going to go backwards. We, in the developed and the developing world, are not going to use less energy. The grownups in the room understand that Californians will not tolerate rolling blackouts during record-breaking heatwaves, especially not while they are paying the highest energy rates in the nation.

That the popular face of the climate change movement is a child, Greta, is a reflection of the childishness of the climate change movement.

There is another side to the climate change crisis, another dialogue that is hard to have. This comes, not from climate change deniers, but from people who are optimistic about our ability to manage the crisis with technology. The artificial leaf is such a technology, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and using solar energy to create clean fuel.

An already existing technology, nuclear energy is a big part of the solution to climate change. Google "pro nuclear power." Last week there was a public awareness campaign to promote the use of nuclear power. Yes, I know what you are thinking. I went to those anti-nuclear rallies, too. But it's pretty safe already and it can be made much safer. Certainly it's safer than "the end of the planet in 12 years." This from the United Nations regarding the Chernobyl disaster:

"...there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations."

I repeat myself: I understand that it's complicated. I'm just trying to inject some nuance into the conversation.

Defending the Enlightenment

The Western Enlightenment freed, first the West and later the rest of the world, from dogma and superstition. The Enlightenment ideal is a rational give and take in a free atmosphere. Say what you will about cultural relativism, but the scientific and governmental basis of modernity is based on Western Enlightenment values.

John wrote, "In the beginning was the Logos." The Logos was not just God; it was a scientific, rational God.

The fall of Rome was hastened by Judeo-Christian values of tolerance and morality. This idea, to treat someone as you would like to be treated, was profoundly new and anti-Roman. Exposed to it, Roman soldiers were less and less eager to go out and slaughter Vandals or Visigoths.

The ancient Greeks understood that with increase affluence and leisure come increased self-criticism and dreams of utopia. Slavery was universal, always. England spent a lot of money (they were in debt for decades) and the United States spent a lot of blood to end it. If you don't like the world under the hegemony of the United States, wait until you see how things are under China's control. (Google "black racism in China.")

In all of this that line from the end of Pulp Fiction keeps coming to mind. You know, in the diner when Samuel Jackson has just turned the tables on Tim Roth and is pointing a gun at him across the table. Jackson is speaking slowly and methodically, with great emotion about trying to be merciful, trying to convert from the "evil man" to the "good shepherd." He says that it's not at all easy, "But I'm trying. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd."

I understand that it's complicated.


Dr David is just smart enough to know that he is not smart.

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