Weekend Reflections: Distorted Views

There is no point in trying to explain any of this, but perhaps by placing it all out there in some semblance of order, a coherent picture will emerge in someone’s mind — preferably not the picture that keeps trying to form in my mind as I look at all of it.

Donald Trump summarily canceled sanctions his own administration had leveled against North Korea just the day before. Since no one in the administration expected this — otherwise, the sanctions would never have made it through the policy discussion phase in the first place — the onus of explaining Trump’s foolishness fell on official White House spokes-yo-yo Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 

Sanders’ explanation: “President Trump likes Chairman Kim.” 

The nominal leader of the free world (“nominal” as in every single word of that unofficial title is a big fat lie) just overruled himself — a president’s administration being, after all, the president’s agents — because he personally likes and (as he has repeatedly told everyone) trusts “Chairman Kim,” i.e., the fat little monster who leads the most deranged and immoral prison camp nation currently existing on the face of the Earth.

“Trump is remarkable,” to quote one of Trump’s starry-eyed fan girls, Mark Levin, speaking just yesterday in a different context. That name, Mark Levin, might ring a bell, since someone else by the same name once wrote a bestselling book called Liberty and Tyranny — and the book took the side of liberty, in case you were wondering. (More on Levin’s Trump groupiedom in a future installment of As the Stomach Turns.)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has, to no one’s surprise, come out in support of New Zealand’s radical new gun control legislation. As if New Zealand’s domestic policy were a suitable issue for comment and assessment by a freshman (freshperson?) congressgirl from the United States. As if there were a progressive anywhere on planet Earth today who would not confiscate all weapons from every law-abiding citizen in every nation tomorrow if he or she thought she or he could get away with it.

“This is what leadership looks like,” the twit Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Twitter, speaking of Prime Minister Ardern’s unthinking rush to disarm her own population because one man lost his marbles and killed some people.

Well, I suppose it is. It is also what tyranny looks like. And what cowardice looks like. And what unprincipled, disproportionate, misguided overreaction looks like. And what Hillary Clinton’s White House would have looked like.

Before anyone shouts, “Hey, Daren, I thought you were one of those NeverTrumpers who pooh-poohed the “But Hillary” argument, let me just say for the record: Yes I am. Lest anyone forget, Donald Trump has been to the left of Barack Obama on actual practical gun policy thus far in his presidency, and it was Trump, not Hillary, who said, regarding people alleged to be mentally unfit to own firearms, “Take the guns away first, go through due process second.” In other words, Trump is more progressive on this issue than the advocates of the current rash of “red flag laws” spreading through the U.S. at the state level.

Jordon Peterson, self-help psychology professor du jour, has just had his bestselling book, “12 Rules for Life,” pulled from the shelves by New Zealand’s biggest bookseller. The reason? He once posed for a picture with a fan who was wearing a T-shirt with an anti-Islam message on it. 

A T-shirt some fan wore in a personal photo with Peterson taken at a public appearance is somehow evidence that Peterson is an “Islamophobe”? And being associated with some anonymous “Islamophobe” in the most accidental way makes one a public danger, or even a public enemy? A man — in this case an extremely popular university professor from an elite university — is to be prevented from giving advice on organizing your life because he once appeared in a photograph with someone wearing a T-shirt that allegedly promoted an intolerant point of view? A T-shirt?

Okay, then, progressive sensitivity-mongers, I have a question for you. What about all those tens of thousands of people wearing Che Guevara T-shirts on university campuses all over the world — including, I would guess, in New Zealand? Islamophobia, insofar as it is a thing that actually exists (it isn’t), is a mental attitude, a point of view — arguably an uncivil or illiberal point of view, but merely a way of thinking. Che Guevara was an actual merciless totalitarian murderer, an avowed and defiant Stalinist, a bloodthirsty sadist. 

Personally, I don’t think anti-Islam T-shirts have any redeeming value, and I would prefer if you didn’t wear one around me. But when I see Che Guevara T-shirts on university students, I have to tell myself that the wearer is just an ignorant kid following a fad, because the alternative explanation would be a legitimate cause for serious concern. T-shirts glamorizing the policy and practice of shooting political opponents in cold blood are a bit of an affront to my sensibilities, if I may say so. Yes, even more of an affront than criticizing a religion, which, it seems to me, falls within the legitimate purview of freedom of thought and expression. I know that’s a bit old-fashioned of me, but there you are.

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