Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rep. Steve King may really have intended to refer only to "western civilization" with his unfortunate pronoun

Rep. King, under severe censure in the House of Representatives, tweeted today that he intended only “Western Civilization” to be referred to later by his pronoun “that”, as if the dash in the sentence preceded it directed.  As a factual matter, we have to give him the “benefit of the doubt” on what that statement meant. English grammar is not as precise as romance languages on using endings to show where modifiers point.  This is a Language Focus problem (watch “Paul” on YouTube).

Of course, if you are like Umair Haque, you'll go down the path of equating western civilization to "predatory capitalism." 

It’s true that the other items in the sentence (like “white supremacy”) simply had no traction at all in public discourse until after Charlottesville in August 2017.  Now, every statement and every association gets parsed for possible connection to the idea that someday slavery and segregation could really come back.  All because of one incident from a relatively small number of extremists. But it also true that the intersectional Left has focused excessively on symbols (like the monuments) or group oppression rather than on actual policy.  

The New York Times, however, offers a long list of King’s past offensive statements.  One or more of them appear to refer to demographic winter and the idea that non-white populations seem to have more children.  That may be true sometimes (especially with immigration from the southern border) but not always.  Some Asian populations (Japan) have low birth rates, and China is recovering from its one-child policy.  It all depend on the specifics.

Other statements would offend many people, especially on the political Left, and may be homophobic too, but they don’t actually call for an ethno-state. 

We seem to have a very slippery slope and it is very easy for anyone to get smeared by apparent distant connections to the worst of the alt-right.   Look at what happened to Milo.

One question on the shutdown:  isn’t it possible to transfer the Coast Guard temporarily to the Navy so that sailors can be paid?
I still find it alarming that the President, and the leaders of House and Senate, for differing political purposes, will withhold pay of some workers and sailors and keep them working in involuntary servitude. There should be litigation to stop this.

Update: Later Wednesday

Various media outlets report a lawsuit by African-American employees against GM at the Toledo, Ohio plant as a result of harassment (even nooses) from a few employees that the company did not stop. The Union plays down the issue.  

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