Thursday, September 23, 2021

Too Big To Fail (at a Coup)

Tell me where Adam Serwer is wrong here:
Those who attempted to subvert democracy have faced few political or legal consequences. As is typical, some rioters are facing prosecution while the elites who tried to overthrow the election through more bureaucratic or procedural means remain in good standing with their peers. The failure to impose accountability for an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order will encourage further such efforts.

Meanwhile, those rare Republicans who did stand up against this attempt to destroy American democracy are the only ones dealing with real political consequences from their party, facing primary challenges, being forced into retirement, or being stripped of their leadership positions. Republican officials who were unwilling to use their office to overturn the election results are seeing challenges from Trump devotees who will, should the opportunity arise again.

If Trump had succeeded, many of those downplaying the former president’s actions would today be rationalizing an American coup.

Not only is this right, it is inarguable. The biggest lessons from January 6 are (1) in the political sphere, elite conservatives have near-infinite layers of insulation from consequences, no matter how far they stray blitz across the line of democracy and rule of law and (2) there is no illiberal, anti-democratic, or unlawful act taken by Trump and his lackeys which -- after a two or three week cooling down period -- elite conservatives will not find it in themselves to rationalize, explain away, or contend that "Biden/Harris/Clinton did the same thing, but worse." Minor nobodies may be sacrificed here and there, but if you get big enough in the right-wing ecosystem, it is impossible to fall from grace (unless you do the truly unthinkable heresy of standing against Trump for any reason on any subject).


As of today, approximately two-thirds of Americans have received at least one COVID vaccine shot. I am, of course, one of them (fully vaccinated), and thus far George Soros' nanobots have not rewritten my genetic code to turn me into a zombie-servant of Silicon Valley (that we know of!). Maybe it's still to come.

But here's the thing for all you vaccine-resisters out there. We're down to two alternatives. Either it is the case that -- as is suggested by literally 100% of all available evidence -- the various catastrophic consequences of vaccination, up to and including becoming a mindless drone reprogrammed by Bill Gates' microchips, are not going to happen. Or, the majority of us already are 'chipped and ready to rumble, and you might as well join Team Vaccine Nanobot while the getting is good. With two thirds of America already onboard, what do you think will happen to those backing the losing horse?

Either way, get your vaccine already. It's a no-lose bet!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Breaking: UC-Berkeley Students Protest Against Allowing Israeli Politician To Speak on Campus

A petition -- launched by a UC-Berkeley student organization, and now with ~8000 signatures -- demands that the UC-Berkeley admin "take action" to prevent a former member of the Israeli Knesset from delivering a presentation on campus

While purporting to "fully support freedom of speech," the activists contend that "we stand against hateful indoctrination and explicit lies being sold to an audience at an academically sponsored event." Hence, the petition demands that the faculty member who invited the speaker be "held accountable", insisting that campus officials must take "immediate administrative action" against him and to ensure that the Israeli speaker is not given "an academic platform to spew her propaganda". "If no action is taken immediately," the petition states ominously, "we will have proof that our university does not care about its academic, intellectual, and moral standards."

Of course, such protests against permitting Israelis to speak on campuses like Berkeley perhaps does not surprise certain readers, who have heard tale of an emergent campus culture of censorial illiberalism, perhaps particularly when it comes to Israel and Israelis.

But I do wonder how many of those unsurprised readers might be a little surprised to learn that the Israeli politician in question is Haneen Zoabi,* and the student group seeking to bar her from campus is (the right-wing pro-Israel group) Tikvah. Apparently, the movement to obstruct engagement with (certain) Israeli perspectives runs deeper than we thought!

* I am, needless to say, no fan of Zoabi, and I am likewise no fan of the faculty member who invited her to campus or his assessments of who is and isn't a useful contributor to academic discourse. But my belief in academic freedom as ensuring an unqualified right for campus community members to host and engage with speakers of their choosing, free from any de jure or administrative sanction, is not tied to my personal agreement or disagreement with any given speaker. I am not an especial fan of Nir Barkat either, but I understood the attempts to shut down his talk at San Francisco State for what they were. And, to the extent the claim is that Zoabi's talk is not balanced by other academic offerings at UC-Berkeley that provide a different vantage point on Israel, that is flatly spurious -- Berkeley has one of the largest and most vibrant Israel Studies programs in the country, recently supplemented by a $10 million gift, and offers a wealth of stellar programming -- from talks to courses to study-abroad programs -- on Israel-related issues from a variety of perspectives.

(For the record, this petition is from a few years back -- I thought it looked familiar! -- but it nonetheless is illustrative of how the wheel turns on these sorts of things).