An optimist says that the glass is half full.
A pessimist says that the glass is half empty.
A feminist says that the glass is raped.
(—a comment to an antifeminist video on YouTube)
Warning: This is essentially an indignant political and social rant. There is, however, some genuine and important Buddhist Dharma in the third to last paragraph of the essay.
It started like this: My friend Eline in the Netherlands sent me the link to an extraordinarily politically incorrect YouTube video by a certain Black Pigeon Speaks, in which the narrator describes how 21st-century feminism is destroying Western civilization in general, and Western Europe in particular, with plenty of reference to the fact that feminized societies are undermining their own existence by welcoming and defending millions of young Muslim men, some of whom are radical Islamists who openly despise European civilization. I’m not exactly sure why Eline sent it to me. Possibly an outrageously loud, confident voice aggressively challenging “progressive” liberalism can cause a European college girl some uncertainty. Which is a good thing by the way.
Anyway, although I didn’t agree with all of the video, I found it very interesting, and containing more truth than could possibly be accepted by the vast herd of politically correct conformists, and I was intrigued enough to investigate…and before very long I was deep down the rabbit hole, observing in fascination more and more of this kind of public rebellion against the new world order. (Some prominent names among my sources are Dave Rubin, Milo Yiannopoulis, Sargon of Akkad, Chris Ray Gun (one of my favorites), Christina Hoff Sommers, Lauren Southern, Thunderf00t (way too hostile and sarcastic for my tastes), Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, SkepTorr, Paul Joseph Watson (another favorite, so long as he talks about PC hysteria), and one called Naked Ape.) I watched many indignant anti-authoritarian reactions against so-called PC culture, and more on the European migrant crisis, which gradually ramified into such surreal realms as sexual molestation epidemics in Europe and Britain predominantly as a result of Muslim immigration (which feminized governments have attempted to cover up out of fear of appearing politically incorrect by admitting that brown-skinned Muslim men have molested European women), the “regressive left,” “victim culture,” Sam Harris’s repeated public criticisms of and warnings about Islam, and even Gamergate, a kind of scandal viewed from opposite poles by its advocates and detractors, which, from the advocates’ point of view, was largely a hostile reaction against feminized political correctness invading the world of video games. It was astonishing. I went into a kind of agitated trance, and spent many hours, three days in a row, watching more and more of this, occasionally backing up the research by reading a written article. I had no damn idea it had come to this. Although I am a Buddhist and a monk, there were times when I was more indignant and/or outraged than the ranting narrators themselves.
A few examples.
~Relatively recently some students at Yale University, including a hysterically shrieking young woman, were angrily protesting—not against US military involvement in foreign countries, not against corporatocracy, not even for fundamental civil rights, but because the administration refused to ban potentially “offensive” politically incorrect Halloween costumes on campus, out of consideration for freedom of thought and expression. Also, in another report, many students at Yale were actually engaged in activism to repeal the first amendment of the US Constitution. (The first amendment, by the way, is this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”)
~A few years ago a man in Toronto was publicly condemned and jailed for no greater crime than disagreeing with two or three feminists on Twitter, mainly over their attempts to essentially ruin the life of a young man whom they considered to be a misogynist. Although he had previously endorsed their organization, these women reacted by getting him banned from Twitter, and later from the entire Internet, awkwardly framed and falsely accused him of being a pedophile, tried to have his art (he is an artist) banned from public exposure (with some of his artwork vandalized and destroyed), and finally got him imprisoned—despite the fact that they admitted that the guy had not actually threatened them or even gone so far as to make sexist remarks. Still, they had him arrested and prosecuted for “cyberviolence,” and PC hysteria duly condemned him. (see for yourself) Recently, after a Kafkaesque legal process lasting about three years, he was finally found not guilty by a judge who was politely and “correctly” apologetic to the artist’s accusers because their evidence was insufficient. The mass media, and especially female journalists, continued to favor the feminists in this case.
~In 2014 a scientist succeeded in landing a space probe on the surface of a comet. This is the first time anything like this has ever been accomplished. At some sort of interview he was wearing a garish bowling shirt that a female friend had made for him—presumably wearing it because he was celebrating the highpoint of his entire career and was feeling jubilant and silly; and a news article covering the interview had this for a headline: “I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing.” I am sorry to say that the man submitted to PC authoritarianism and made a public apology, immediately after which he broke down into tears, still on camera. His scientific achievement was contemptuously dismissed in favor of bashing the fact that he wore a shirt with cartoon pictures of sexy women on it. The event has been called the Shirt Storm.
~Also in 2014 a young woman entered a police station (apparently in America), stealthily came up behind a police officer sitting quietly at his desk, and assaulted him with a knife, apparently intending to cut his throat, with him receiving injury to his neck before finally subduing her (while she was obviously trying to stab him), and all of this was captured on video. An open and shut case of assault with a deadly weapon, right? Wrong! She was found not guilty after the jury deliberated for less than two hours. And why? Because she is female. See for yourself, if you consider this too far-fetched to be believed. (here)
~Feminists have begun requesting that people no longer clap at public functions but should just wave their hands around (called “Jazz hands”), because the loud noise of applause may be “triggering” to some (presumably female, presumably emotionally fragile) members of the audience. In fact, feminists are attempting to ban just about anything that anyone could conceivably use as an excuse to be triggered or offended—except to white men, whose feelings are dismissed with utter contempt, often with unconcealed hostility.
~Certain liberal feminists have started a campaign of “Storming Wikipedia” by injecting feminist ideology into science articles. One example I saw involved an article on sexual dimorphism, a biological tendency in some species for males and females to have markedly different anatomical features, as is the case in lions, chickens, bees, and human beings. The Wiki article states, as an example, that women have 40-60% less upper body strength than men, and elsewhere states that even men who do not exercise regularly have significantly greater physical strength than female athletes, on average. These statements were backed up by references to well-known scientific journals. Within the same article is found a statement that greater male upper body strength is merely a cultural artifact caused by males being encouraged to exercise more than females. This statement referenced a feminist article, based more upon feminist ideology than upon empirical science. (I just rechecked, and this statement has now been removed, which is understandable, as it is pseudoscience.) In fact it is a common tenet of feminism that there are absolutely no inherent psychological differences between men and women, that all such differences are the artificial result of an oppressive patriarchy. Thus, presumably, the fact that more men fix machinery for a living or fish for crabs in the Bering Sea is due to sexist oppression. Some obviously wish to believe that this alleged gender sameness is true of most physical differences also.
~Not only are some high school and college students required to take Gender Studies classes, which are of course classes in neo-liberal feminism, many male students are now required to attend classes on how NOT to be rapists, let alone sexists, going with the feminist tenet that all men are potential rapists, and must be carefully reprogrammed to prevent this. “Rape” nowadays may include consensual sex with both parties being drunk, after which the woman regrets what happened, a man refusing to have sex with a woman, or even a man speaking to a woman without her previous consent.
~It has become very common for people to assert that only men can be sexist and only white people can be racist, thereby flinging the door wide open to hostile bigotry on the part of everyone else. Due to the newly embraced concept of “microaggression,” even for a white person to deny being racist is racist, for someone to ask where an immigrant is from is racist, for someone to acknowledge unpleasant facts about the violence and discrimination against women in traditional Islam is racist, for a man to disagree with a woman about anything at all is sexist, and even for him to show obvious consideration for her, as by letting her take his seat on a crowded bus, is offensive sexist microaggression. Yet high-profile feminists can propose that all men should be killed or put in concentration camps, or threaten men with physical injury, and public opinion will take her side, with no negative consequences.
~I could go on and on and on, since this kind of stuff is not only firing indignant commentary from a new breed of “cultural libertarians” fighting against the hostile, repressive authoritarianism of political correctness thought police, but it is flooding mainstream media as well (although the latter often are endorsing it). But I will add one more which is especially poignant for me because it concerns my old alma mater, Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. According to an article in The Daily Beast, students at WWU calling themselves the Assembly for Power and Liberation are demanding a kind of Orwellian extremist liberal junta on campus. Here are some excerpts from the article:
Activists are demanding the creation of a new college dedicated to social justice activism, a student committee to police offensive speech, and culturally segregated living arrangements at the school….Students have the right to push for robust changes to campus conditions, of course. But if administrators care about free speech at all, they will ignore these calls to create an almost cartoonishly autocratic liberal thought police on campus….Activists have also demanded the creation of an Office for Social Transformation, which would employ 15 students—young Robespierres in training—for the purposes of monitoring “racist, anti-black, transphobic, cissexist, misogynistic, ableist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and otherwise oppressive behavior on campus.” (Anti-Semitism, one notes, is curiously omitted.) These students will be granted terrifying powers to discipline faculty members who commit microaggressions. Professors—even tenured professors—can and will be placed under investigation if they are accused of maintaining insufficiently safe spaces within their classrooms. These measures are hailed as “progressive” by the activists—because what could be more progressive than committees of liberal extremists conducting thoughtcrime investigations?…it seems like the idea is to turn the campus into a zone of liberal ideological conformity from which there is no escape….At the heart of this effort lies a bizarrely totalitarian ideology: Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime. If they persist in this wrongness, they are perpetuating violence, activists will claim. The list of demands ends with a lengthy denunciation of WWU’s marginalization of “hxstorically oppressed students.” The misspelling is intentional: “hxstory,” I presume, was judged to be more PC than “history,” which is gendered, triggering, and perhaps violent. It’s easy for me to laugh at these clumsy attempts to make language obey the dictates of political correctness—but I laugh from a position of relative safety, since I am not a WWU professor.
I ask you: How is this different from 20th-century Marxist radicalism? Two ways in which it is similar is that it is outrageously unrealistic, rejecting and attempting to ban even empirical truth if it challenges the ideology, and that it is bound to fail horrendously after inevitably resulting in a great deal of oppression, violence, and misery. A primary difference is that instead of physical violence and terrorism as means of compulsion for acceptance of the system, intolerant radicals usually rely on media bias, complaints to the police, attempts at ruining the antagonist’s career by getting him discredited and fired, deluges of hostile comments on social media, and of course the human sheeplike conformity with whatever is in fashion.
This is no longer a fringe movement, but has gone stark raving mainstream, taking over the media, university campuses, and even some European governments. It is nightmarishly surreal to me, just freaking insane. How can the West have come to this? Whatever became of freedom? (face palm)
The PC thought police, a.k.a. Social Justice Warriors or SJW, a.k.a. “crybullies,” are apparently incapable or totally unwilling to see that their preferred form of political correctness is itself sexist, racist, hateful, hypocritical, and stooping to such Orwellian props as thought control and doublethink. They say they’re opposed to sexual discrimination and then cook up new PC words like “mansplain,” which is a derogatory term for explaining things the way a stereotypical man supposedly does it. Even to claim that all men should be killed is considered acceptable, although the opposite (that all women should be killed) would elicit screams of bloody murder—unless maybe Muslims say it, in which case to criticize it would be deemed racist. Recently feminists were rallying to ban Father’s Day in America, based partly on claims that men and fathers are useless. This is all quite acceptable, apparently, yet even publicly to disagree with a woman (as happened in Canada) can land a man in jail. But pointing this out is useless.
One interesting phenomenon is that some liberals and conservatives are joining forces, declaring a new polarity in Western politics: cultural libertarians vs. repressive authoritarians, which seems primarily to imply freedom of thought and expression vs. politically correct thought and feeling control. And it appears that finally, over the past few years, some people (mostly men, but also including many women) have had enough of the insanity and are standing against it, often in a state of outraged indignation. But at this stage in the game, the champions of liberty are the underdogs.
two cultural libertarians (Lauren and Milo)
peacefully holding up a sign at a feminist “slutwalk,”
with a hostile feminist trying to take it away from them
(shortly after this the two heretics were ejected by the police)
I am really sorry about this whole situation. Maybe it's just that I’m just getting old, but the Western world seems to be going profoundly, self-destructively pathological. I used to consider myself to be more liberal than otherwise, but I feel like the outrageous foolishness and hypocrisy I have seen coming from the “progressive” left is shoving me toward the right. If I were to remain in America, which I probably won’t, then I might even vote for a Republican president for the first time in my life. This is actually an increasingly common phenomenon, with even many young people being driven away from liberalism in utter disgust, if not horror. A more extrem(ist) example is the speed at which neo-Nazi and other ultra-right organizations are growing in Europe recently, as the cluelessly naive liberal feminist politicians are incapable of not driving their countries into cultural and political suicide.
There is one very fortunate aspect to this dismal situation, however, and that is the colossal weakness of the new dominating force. It is not only an ideology based largely upon easily debunked myths, rhetoric, name-calling, and irrational wishful thinking, thereby lacking a sufficient foundation in truth, but more importantly it is also based upon spinelessness and pathological emotional dysfunction. From the looks of it, all that will be necessary is for those fighting back to clap their hands loudly and many of these emotional weaklings will be triggered into having meltdowns. They seemingly can be traumatized by a dropping hat. As you may notice from my language, this whole situation has me somewhat exasperated. It’s enough to make me want to punch a metrosexual.
So, I should cool down a little and inject some Dharma. This is, after all, an ostensibly Buddhist blog. Therefore I point out here that the central point of political correctness hysteria, its moral nucleus, is practically the opposite of Dharma. It is based on the colossal lie that one’s own unhappiness is not one’s own responsibility, and that one should therefore blame somebody else for it. If you say or do something that triggers me, regardless of what it is or what your intentions are, then you are causing me suffering and victimizing me, and you must be stopped—that’s essentially the idea. Your rights end where my feelings begin. And apparently this attitude is creating the victim culture which is justifying people’s resentment, self-pity, emotional instability, and misery, discouraging them from accepting responsibility for their own happiness and unhappiness, resulting in such nonsense as microaggression, in which the supposed aggressor is totally oblivious to just how hurtful he really is. He may even have the best of intentions (like offering his seat on a crowded bus), but he must be stopped because some chronically miserable, foolish malcontent may be offended by it. And evidence does indicate that, ironically, modern Western women are more unhappy now than they were fifty years ago, i.e. more unhappy than they were before they attained the privileges they now enjoy, which in many cases far exceed the privileges of the venomously hated white male. The first and second Noble Truths of Buddhism are totally ignored, even by many who consider themselves to be Buddhists.
Furthermore, unfortunately perhaps, the liberal left is the group in the West which primarily favors Buddhism, especially in its form of Vipassana. Consequently, much of the aforementioned political correctness mania is inextricably mixed up with what is casually called “Dharma.” (Spirit Rock reportedly having an image of Buddha and an image of the mythological Tantric goddess Tara on the main altar, for the sake of PC gender equality, is a case in point.) I have recently been informed that there is an American Buddhist organization called Against the Stream, which on its website declares itself dedicated to “rebellion against the system”; but I admit to being very skeptical. For one thing, they claim to derive the ethical standards of their teaching staff from the policies of Spirit Rock! Also, they have one of their largest centers in San Francisco! It may be that the “system” they are rebelling against is that of the racist misogynistic homophobic patriarchy. Or maybe they used to be genuine freedom-loving rebels, but then became popular and conformed to the liberal mainstream. I suppose I am fortunate that within the realm of traditional Theravadin monasticism almost the only symptom of PC mania that I am exposed to is, occasionally, the greater respect that quasi-bhikkhunis receive over the male bhikkhu oppressors among many Western liberals.
So…I am a dinosaur. Oh, wait—I saw on one YouTube video that some school policies have determined the word “dinosaur” unacceptable because it may be offensive to believers in creationism. So I’m a caveman then, and I don’t give a shit whether “caveman” is polite or not. Society has become so freaking insane that I suppose it’s good that I’m giving up and going back to my cave at the edge of a traditional Buddhist culture. Life here is like watching the decline and fall of the Roman Empire all over again. History repeats itself. (Angela Merkel over there in Germany is like the new Valens Augustus, welcoming a huge population of migrant Goths into the Empire. Here in America we are watching the rise of Elagabalus.) But if libertarians, true lovers of liberty and individual rights, ever start becoming Buddhists in large numbers, I may have to come back. And if there is anyone out there who is really rebelling against the increasingly insane system, may they please let me know how I can help with it.
“I wholly disapprove of what you say—and will defend to the death your right to say it.” —attributed to Voltaire, although maybe he didn’t really say it
Appendix: A Select List of Outrageous YouTube Videos