Thursday, February 27, 2014

How not to protest

There was a protest at the Portland State University campus today, while I was in class. A gentleman was on a bullhorn shouting "What do we want?" repeatedly, in reply to which the large crowd he had gathered would shout something no one in my class could understand. As I was able to find out only later, it was a show of solidarity with the professors after stalled budget negotiations between them and the administration. That would have been nice to know while the protest was in progress. For all I knew, it was a rally for the awareness of microaggressions or some similar nonsense. If you use a bullhorn, at least make sure the bullhorn carries your message, since more people will hear it clearly than will be able to hear a shouting crowd clearly. As one of my classmates asked, after about ten iterations of the chant, "What do they want?"

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A squishy liberal version of apartheid

Like many others, Hirsi Ali noticed that in the name of anti-racism European liberals were following a racist policy. When mass immigration began, they resolved to emphasize what divided rather than what united people, and to show their compassion by respecting the culture of 'the other'. Compassion sounds a fine virtue, which ordinarily leads the compassionate to help those less fortunate than themselves. In Europe, it produced indolence and indifference: a squishy liberal version of apartheid in which the authorities downplayed the genital mutilation of girls on kitchen tables and the murder of women who refused to accept arranged marriages because the women on the receiving end of the abuse were not white.
— Nick Cohen, You Can't Read This Book (London: HarperCollins, 2012),  p. 104.

Trying to pass off rational morality as an irrational hatred

When supporters of [Salman] Rushdie opposed the murder of authors, however, their ideals could not have been further from the dark fantasies of racial hatred. Islamists could call them 'Islamophobes' if they wanted, for they were indeed opposing reactionary Islamic doctrines, but they were doing so because they were liberals who wanted to show solidarity with liberals from the Muslim world, not because they were filled with an irrational loathing. When Catholic reactionaries accuse opponents of papal doctrine on contraception and abortion of 'anti-Catholicism,' and when believers in a greater Israel accuse opponents of Israeli expansion into the West Bank as anti-Semitism, they too are palming a card from the bottom of the deck. They are trying to pass off rational morality as an irrational hatred.
— Nick Cohen, You Can't Read This Book (London: HarperCollins, 2012),  p. 32-33.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

George Stuart Fullerton on mathematicians:
[C]ertainly no prudent man wishes to quarrel with that coldly rational creature the mathematician.
—George Stuart Fullerton, An Introduction to Philosophy (New York: MacMillan: 1915, p. 48).

Monday, February 17, 2014

The significance of the Milesian philosophers

George Stuart Fullerton on Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes:
[O]ne who reads for the first time the first time the few vague statements which seem to constitute the sum of their contributions to human knowledge is impelled to wonder that so much has been made of the men.

This wonder disappears, however, when one realizes that the appearance of these thinkers was really a momentous thing. For these men turned away from the poetical and mythological way of accounting for things, which had obtained up to their time, and set their faces toward Science.
—George Stuart Fullerton, An Introduction to Philosophy (New York: MacMillan: 1915, p.2).