Kirsten Powers: The Age Of Un-Enlightenment

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When people are afraid to express their opinions because they’ve seen other people treated as deviants deserving of public shaming or worse, they will be less likely to speak freely

The following is an edited excerpt from Kirsten Powers’ new book, The Silencing.

The illiberal left isn’t just ruining reputations and lives with their campaigns of delegitimization and disparagement. They are harming all of society by silencing important debates, denying people the right to draw their own conclusions, and derailing reporting and research that is important to our understanding of the world. They are robbing culture of the diversity of thought that is so central to learning and discovery.

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“Open-minded inquiry into the problems of the Black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed,” Haidt said. “Only in the last few years have sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along.”

 — Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt

It’s sadly ironic that so many of the illiberal left view themselves as rational, intellectual, fact-based thinkers and yet have fully embraced a dogmatic form of un-enlightenment. Deviating from lefty ideology is equated to heresy and academic inquiry is too often secondary to ideological agendas.

[Jason L. Riley: Will Liberals Ever Forgive Daniel Patrick Moynihan for Being Right?]

The illiberal left insert ideologically driven statistics into the media and academic bloodstream and then accuse anyone who questions them of silencingdiabolical motives. When researchers make discoveries supporting the wrong ideological conclusion, the character assassination and intimidation begin.

[Order Kirsten Powers book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” from Amazon.com]

In a 2011 speech, then-University of Virginia social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who describes himself politically as a “liberal turned centrist,” explained, “If a group circles around sacred values, they’ll evolve into a tribal-moral community. They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.”

“Sacralizing distorts thinking. Sacred values bind teams together, and then blind them to the truth. That’s fine if you are a religious community… but this is not fine for scientists.”

The illiberal left likes to accuse conservatives and religious people of doing this, but ignores the central role it plays in their own determination to reinforce their ideological beliefs. Haidt pointed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was labeled a racist for a 1965 report he produced as assistant secretary of Labor in the Kennedy administration.

[Read more here, at The Daily Caller]

The report rang alarm bells about the rise of unmarried parenthood among African Americans, and called for government policies to address the issue. “Open-minded inquiry into the problems of the Black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed,” Haidt said. “Only in the last few years have sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along. Sacralizing distorts thinking. Sacred values bind teams together, and then blind them to the truth. That’s fine if you are a religious community… but this is not fine for scientists.”

“We are hurting ourselves when we deprive ourselves of critics, of people who are as committed to science as we are, but who ask different questions, and make different background assumptions.”

Haidt believes that the fact that conservatives are underrepresented by “a ratio of two or three hundred to one” in social psychology “is evidence that we are a tribal moral community that actively discourages conservatives from entering.” Allowing for more diversity of ideological thought would lead to “better science and freer thinking,” concluded Haidt. This argument doesn’t just apply to academia. It applies to any facet of society where non-liberal views are deemed out of bounds. Read the rest of this entry »


Landmark Legal Case: Unemployed Gender Studies Major Sues ‘The Patriarchy’

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The suit seeks $2 million in compensation and $139 million in punitive damages, which together equal $1 from every adult man in America.

An unemployed gender studies major from Eugene, Ore. sued “The Patriarchy” today in federal court for refusing to give her a job.

In a 25-page brief, attorneys for Sarah Miller-Jones, 24, argue that gender discrimination from the patriarchy has prevented their client from finding gainful employment since she graduated from university three years ago.

“It is outrageous that the patriarchy refuses to offer our client a decent career. She has applied for over 20 positions in the recording, publishing and television industries and has been rejected every single time.”

The suit seeks $2 million in compensation and $139 million in punitive damages, which together equal $1 from every adult man in America.

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“Despite the fact that Ms. Miller-Jones graduated with a 2.8 GPA from the prestigious University of Oregon, she has been unable to find a job fitting her qualifications,” the document reads.

“We all know that terms like ‘no experience’ and ‘lack of relevant education’ are codewords the patriarchy uses to keep keep women in their place. But Ms. Miller-Jones refuses to be a housewife or a nurse. She deserves a real job.”

“Ms. Miller-Jones has been on unemployment benefits for 18 months. And despite extensive coursework in Zambian feminist hip-hop she has only received six job offers — all of which were for entry-level call center and health care positions.

“It is outrageous that the patriarchy refuses to offer our client a decent career. She has applied for over 20 positions in the recording, publishing and television industries and has been rejected every single time.

“Despite extensive coursework in Zambian feminist hip-hop she has only received six job offers — all of which were for entry-level call center and health care positions.”

“We all know that terms like ‘no experience’ and ‘lack of relevant education’ are codewords the patriarchy uses to keep keep women in their place. But Ms. Miller-Jones refuses to be a housewife or a nurse. She deserves a real job.”

Millions of young Americans who recently graduated from university are finding themselves working in jobs below their educational level. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Department of Labor’s Big Fat Lie

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None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. 

Jim Clifton writes: Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

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“There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

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“And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory.”

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this. Read the rest of this entry »


NYTimes Fingers Pornography as Source of Employment Declines

NYTpornNumbrsNYT’CATHERINE RAMPELL writes: The pornography industry, long accustomed to being a scapegoat for the country’s moral ills, is now being blamed for America’s economic failings, too.

Employment in the motion picture and sound recording industries plunged in August, for a loss of 22,200 jobs. It was the sector with the biggest losses last month, and also represented the largest monthly decline since the Labor Department started keeping track of jobs in the industry in 1990.

Some have attributed the job losses to the X-rated film industry. After an H.I.V. scare, the industry temporarily shut down around the time that the Labor Department conducts its monthly survey.

It sounds like a plausible theory, but there are a few reasons to be skeptical.

First, the numbers are volatile from month to month, and for some reason have gotten more so in recent years. So the decline could just be noise. Read the rest of this entry »