Current Events: And the Hits Keep Coming

If you’re in D.C., you’d better go see this monument in Lincoln Park while you still can.

The stupid, it burns.

I have a post on this theme going up tomorrow morning; I thought surely they’d move slow enough for people to read that first. But no.

28 thoughts on “Current Events: And the Hits Keep Coming

  1. Yeah, I’ve been seeing news about this. It’s starting to seem as if we’re not allowed to remember the Civil War even happened. We’re required to pay reparations to people who were never slaves–even if our own ancestors not only weren’t slave owners, but fought to end slavery–but we’re not allowed to remember why.

    2020. The whole year has just turned the entire world upside-down and inside-out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Technically true, but at least in my case any slave-owning is far too many generations back to be remotely relevant. _Being_ slaves… well, my grandmother was Latvian. Family lore has some nasty things to say about the Russians and Siberia. My great-grandmother–who, for reference, died in the ’60s–was born in Siberia, and the family wasn’t exactly there voluntarily.

      In any case, my family certainly had nothing to do with 1800s-era American slavery, and there’s no one left alive who was involved on either side. Demanding reparations for something that ended almost a century and a half before I was even born is just plain ridiculous.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ve heard that exact demand made, sadly. Probably the most insane being something I read about two or three weeks back–wish I could remember exactly where–about somebody demanding a reparations amount that came to more money than exists in the United States.

        I get that it was terrible. I hate the very idea of slavery. But it’s not my responsibility–it’s not even my ancestors’ responsibility–and there’s nobody alive who suffered under the American variety. Trying to erase all of it won’t help anyone. And even if people are going to demand money they’re not entitled to from people who don’t owe it, is it so much to ask for the numbers given to be physically possible?

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I will respectfully disagree. Most people may have distant (very distant, in my case) relatives who owned slaves or were slaves, but there are over 9 Billion people in the world. And billions more who have lived and died. There is no way they are all related to someone who owned or was a slave. I might be wrong, but I honestly dont think that is possible, not with the sheer number of people that live and have lived in the world.


      1. Slavery has been the norm for most of human history. Unless one is descended only from those who never lost so much as a raid and geocided everybody they fought against, it’s not possible to not have both slaves and slavers as ancestors.

        Our word for it comes from ‘Slav,’ even, we’ve got Greek mythology because the Romans enslaved so many of them as secretaries, Saint Patrick (and countless other saints) was a slave, the Aztec empire fell not because they had slaves but because they were so unusually brutal in how they mass sacrificed them and the neighbors objected, slavery is still openly practiced in many places and more quietly practiced even in the US. (not using a generous definition, there are some nasty human trafficking cases that cannot be defined as anything but slavery; with a generous definition of ‘slave,’ most human trafficking is)

        There was a push to redefine slave to mean only as practiced in the United States, but it tended to run into issues with what to call every other instance of slavery throughout history.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Here is a fairly noninflamitory, limited definition example, though with a human interest angle to put a face on it:

        Long quote:
        In 2008, Raichatou escaped slavery in the northern desert town of Menaka, heading for the relative safety of Gao. But when the MNLA took control, she fled, fearing her old Tuareg slave masters might try to recapture her.

        Anti-slavery groups say the conflict and ensuing political chaos in Mali has worsened the situation facing the 250,000 people who live in conditions of slavery in the west African state. The MNLA leadership and parts of the Ansar Dine Islamist group, which fought for control of the north last year, come from Tuareg noble families, some of whom are responsible for continuing the practice of slavery in Mali.

        Malian anti-slavery organisation Temedt has reported cases of slave masters profiting from the chaos of the past year to recapture former slaves, including at least 18 children seized from one village last September. Raichatou believes this is the fate that may have befallen her brother, Ismagir Ag Touka.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Aside from the historical point Foxfier brings up, you’re getting the math backwards. The point about “million to one odds” and similar cases of “something’s really unlikely” is that “if you just take a single sample, you’re unlikely to find it, but if you have a huge enough number of samples it’ll probably show up eventually”. And that applies here, too. The shear number of people and amount of time is actually what makes it more likely that, if you go far enough back, you will find both at least one slave, and at least one slave owner, in every currently living person’s ancestry, just because of how large that ancestry gets once you go back enough generations.

        Tho on a related point, I notice that those in favor of “reparations” entirely miss a third category: those whose ancestors were actively working to rescue slaves and/or free them. Because that would also throw off their argument, and really muddle the waters. My farthest back non-native ancestor in the USA was kidnapped in Scotland, and sold into indentured servitude (slavery with an exit clause) over here in the US, and later members of the family bought slaves expressly to free them without breaking the law (since they were Quakers and thought slavery was bad but also thought breaking the law was bad if you could avoid it). That gives me ancestors in all three categories, technically (even if they only count as slave owners because they did actually buy the slaves before releasing them).

        Liked by 2 people

      4. *Nod* Heh – we might be distantly related. Or at least by creed. My family on one side was Quakers and did the same, you can find the records in various wills for young slaves specifically listed as not to be freed until their 21st birthday. Because if they were freed before then, someone else could legally enslave them again. Sad but true.


      5. There’s another way you need to look at the math.

        To start with, you make an assumption about average length of time for a generation. 15-35 can be argued, and 20 is round for our purpose.

        200 years would be ten generations. How many ancestors is that, approximately, alive of the right generation 200 years ago? Well, you have two parents, so one generation is 2^1=2. Ten generations is 2^10=1024, which is approximately a thousand.

        Now, humans are never completely exogamous, so that about a thousand theoretical ancestors is not only different people, and it could easily be fewer than a thousand.

        Go back 2000 years, as a short hand for 100 generations, and think about those numbers. Think about what the total world population would be at the time. Perhaps you and I are not related in that many generations, but there is a decent chance we are if neither of us is from a population that was strictly isolated. And Tokugawa Japan, was not so strictly isolated from the rest of the world, because there would have been a few descendants of Sengoku era Portuguese wandering around.

        There are only two possible ways for modern humans to not be descended from both slaves and slave owners. Possibility A is some combination of either a recent invention of slavery, or a truly stable polity that can keep slaves and slave owners as strictly seperate castes that cannot intermarry. A is definitely not true. Slavery is well attested more than two thousand years ago, and has a decent chance of being much older. Polities are not exactly known for lasting thousands of years, or have that much real power over actual sexual activity. Possibility B is that the Earth was recently created, and that the people ‘living’ on earth at the time of that creation were not actually related, despite what the genetic evidence suggests. For possibility B, I would suggest looking into the evidence for genetic bottlenecking in various periods of human ancestral prehistory.

        Yes, more recent stuff is of more notable psychological importance. But if you accept one cut off period for ‘offenses beyond this point no longer count’, you grant some grounds for your opposition to argue for a cut off point that favors their arguments. Forex, six years as a cut off point. That’s a period I selected because cutting things off there lets me make the argument that I am unfairly oppressed. Or six seconds ago.

        This leaves two arguments. One, you can never avoid guilt for anything done by any ancestor. But, the amount of ancestral guilt easily covers a capital charge for everyone, and there is a chance that caste slavery can be defended as a deserved penalty for ancestral loss of a war. Second, that guilt is not heritable, and each person much be judged on their own actions and choices, without bringing ancestry into the matter. I’ve spent time partly persuaded of the first, but in my experience the second is more consistent with a happy, functional life.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. …That’s not how the math works. See Foxfier and Ashley.

        For example, someone crunched the DNA and the numbers and found the vast majority of males currently alive in China are related to Genghis Khan.


      7. Expanding on the bit about Temujin, we can trace lines of male ancestry by Y chromosomes, and female ancestry by Mitochondria. So there are a bunch of historical high status males to whom a lot of ancestry in a group can be traced.

        Forex, I think the Irish think that one of theirs was Niall of the nine lives.

        That is the story behind the claim of Thomas Jefferson fathering children with a slave. The genes actually point to one of eight Jefferson males alive at the time, and another of the eight is a very plausible candidate.

        What I was touching on, there are a couple of points in prehistory, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years ago, where the genetic traces of the male and female lines indicate very few living at the time. Now, that doesn’t actually mean that so few were actually alive, there probably had to be more, but their male and female lineage genes were not by chance preserved. That still leaves us pretty sure of some near extinctions.

        Anyway, last time I saw a citation, it was estimated that no two living humans are more distantly related than fifty something degree.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. The genes actually point to one of eight Jefferson males alive at the time, and another of the eight is a very plausible candidate.

        What seriously pisses me off about that situation is that the one instance with the strongest situational support– the kid conceived while Sally was in France– his descendants do not have any relation to the Jefferson men.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I haven’t been spending a lot of time at pleasant levels of irritation.

    I follow an original story called Wizard of the Flower Blades at honyakusite dot wordpress dot com. One of several stories, updated on a rotation. Wizard is a VRMMO incarnation isekai, fantasy world, all that jazz.

    Before the current activist push, the past two updates of WFB had a guy come in bitching about the author’s choice to build a world with slavery, and the main character’s lack of persistent engagement with the issue.

    Even before that, I had grown tired enough of bitching about slavery in Isekai and other fictional worlds to start generating ideas that are partly a pissed off response. (Okay, the standard generic fantasy decision to do magical slave runes or a magical slave brand are a little interesting. People assume those when they want slavery in a magical world, and do not want to consider the issue of slave rebellions. The implications raise questions, because ‘how does that even work?’ To really prevent rebellions, you would need something that either punishes covert rebellion, or compels obedience even for hidden actions. Any magical capability to accomplish that sort of thing has implications that are rarely dived into very deeply. Impossible governments, or economic behavior we’ve never seen in the real world.)

    Beyond that, I’m contrarian, and have some very hetrodox political and philosophical views. When someone tries to coerce a political action from me, especially on the basis of shared orthodox views, I get snarly. And inventive.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I am still disgusted that there are folks arrogant enough to say “my feelings as a modern American who identifies as African American are more relevant than the actions and informed choices of actual slaves from whom I claim moral authority”.

    Because that is what the mob attack on this statue is.

    I’d say it’s like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum, but two year olds have more sense.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. In some ways, I think that’s probably part of the problem: “Those people back then did things, and had things done to them, and everyone knows that. But what have _I_ done, that I could truly be proud of? What have I personally had done to me, that isn’t done to others? All I can do if I want to feel special, is to lay claim to stuff from the past, and pretend it’s my own.” Obviously there’s more to it than just that, but I do wonder if part of the reason this catches on so thoroughly is because of that feeling of having nothing special of their own, but the lack of will to actually be special. Like a mirror of the problem rich kids frequently have, when they’re treated as special because of their family and wealth without having actually done anything for it themselves, and while being protected from what they’d need to do to actually achieve similar feats to those their ancestors did to earn their fortunes.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If you add in the stripping away of a major defense from that– the idea that everyone has been given a great gift, of which they are not worthy, BUT they can take steps to improve that by trying to become more worthy of it, which includes trying to raise others up…..

        Yeah, I think you’ve hit a major point, there.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I have to shake my head, because I’ve had so much stuff happen to me that was personally horrible but which also happens to plenty of other people… and all I want is enough peace and quiet to dig myself out of someone else’s hole. I’ve never wanted to smash up other people’s property. It just… doesn’t compute.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. When you think poorly of yourself compared to others, there’s two options: build yourself up so you don’t have to be ashamed of the comparison, or tear others down so you can feel “at least they’re worse”. I hadn’t made that further connection when I posted earlier, but, most things with people have multiple factors anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Slightly different angle for me.

        Discussion today on yesterday’s ATH comment about careers prescribed to various people, how that prescription can result in misery, etc…

        Remember about a week or two ago Sunday when I hit “Yeah, I’ve loved talking about this stuff for years, but I’m sick of it now”? That was a difficult day, and one for introspection.

        I realized that for all the emotional energy I spend, I have very few investments. There is not a whole lot that I’m living for, not really enough that I make sure to eat and sleep regularly all the time.

        I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve let myself believe that I was not really going to improve my life for the better by working at it.

        I know what that helped me become. Times when I was angry, unhappy, and looking to inflict it on anyone I could manage to persuade myself was a legitimate target.

        So suggesting that certain mindsets and choices of goal are harmful is not mere tactical advantage if people choose to act on my words. It is because of experience I have with poison eating me away inside.

        Forex, my belief that it can be profoundly damaging to mislead people into underestimating the cost and difficultly of accomplishing a specific thing. (Trying to ease people through more fundamental material may not actually help them with more advanced material. Some things need persistence, and that can be more difficult to learn late in life.)

        It helped that I had the perspective that the world was not out to get me, and that some of my outcomes were inside my control. It did not help that I attributed my not getting stuff done to incompetence and poor character, and spent my unproductive times steeping in self-hatred.

        The experience of carrying around less rage once I got my life a little less screwed up was a lesson. The experience of becoming more emotionally healthy as I sought to learn to treat people with the respect they deserved was a lesson. Drifting in and out from the place of extreme rage was many lessons.

        I think some of the most important lessons may have come from love.

        “To geek is to love” –FoxFier

        It has done me immense good to be exposed to geeks sharing their love for their given subjects, especially when I share the interest. It has reminded me of truth, beauty and goodness. The ones trying to make their business on that love inspired me to continue my own business efforts based in a strong love, even after I became convinced that I had screwed it up beyond repair. That will to continue meant that I had something to carry me once I fixed my health just enough to start making forward motions again. Which decreased my unhappiness enough to get more work done, and spend more time and energy on finding better ways to take care of myself.

        Anyway, I’d thought about linking to @baseballcranks essay on NRO, which betrays a level of research into history that can only have come from a level of love for some element of history. I’ve read more than one of his pieces over the years, and he is pretty good at maintaining a certain level of reasoned calm. If he has wrestled with the poisons I have, and we all have difficulties, he has learned ways of controlling his presentation that I have not, yet.

        I am aware that I have been very blessed, that I’ve not lived through things as difficult as many have. Beyond the people in my cohort who have had challenges that would have destroyed me, I know very well that I’ve had an extremely soft life compared to my parent’s generation, much less my grandparents. Beyond that, I could list historical periods worse than I experienced for hours, that I probably would not have survived, much less accomplished what little I have. Before I get to prehistory.

        I have a hard time forgiving people who deliberately break themselves*. I have a hard time forgiving people who don’t try to fix themselves. But the folks who knowingly told the people in the previous comments to do things that broke them, and led them away from fixing themselves, those folks I may never find it in myself to forgive.

        *And this is speaking as someone who thinks of certain specific types of insanity as being worth deliberately developing to accomplish a goal. Even after recognizing some of those attempts as as mistakes.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I think this is a good philosophy in regards to the statues and historical legacy of controversial figures from US history.

    Jon Meacham does feel that Andrew Jackson, for instance, is someone whose legacy is worth preserving with a monument, though he certainly has some black marks in regards to his actions towards native Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I defend Truman and Jackson precisely because I think that the critiques are bankrupt and probably malicious.

      I had an extensive list of often ignored factors with regard to Truman dropping the bomb on Japan when I first drafted a response last night. My impression is that many modern thinkers in Germany and Japan are wholly unaware that the US had broken Purple, the Japanese diplomatic cipher, were secretly reading the Japanese diplomatic communications, and were forming conclusions based on that. One item, of between six and twelve items.

      Complaints of “wouldn’t it be better if they just lived in peace” carry the assumption that living in peace was possible. That assumption is not always valid.

      The way I evaluate the morality of foreign policy acts is in line with my childhood conclusion that the Romans were entirely morally justified in exterminating the population of Carthage after the Third Punic War. Repeated wars with a population or government or a population making clear that its current culture will not permit peace, are to me warning signs that peaceful coexistence is not right now a legitimate goal.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The thing that really is strange about Jackson is that he actually was the kind of guy who thinks tribally and acts globally. I mean, he was in the American Revolution, and a POW, before he could have driven a car today. He was a typical Border Scots/English guy, except for being born in America, and he acted in a way that would have been comprehensible to any medieval. (Right up to ignoring the Supreme Court and distrusting national banks.)

    And frankly, the tribes understood him very well, and vice versa. Didn’t necessarily like him, unless they were members of the tribes friendly to him and his. Then they liked him a lot, and vice versa.

    Jackson defended the honor of women and particularly his wife, held slaves and emancipated slaves, and raised an orphaned and abandoned Creek Indian baby as his own son. (He became a lawyer, btw.)

    He was a walking pile of contradictions, but only if you try to see him as a modern American. As a man from the back country or from a Scottish/English Border clan, he makes perfect sense.

    Liked by 3 people

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