Separate but Equal 2.0

Remember when “Separate but Equal” was an abhorrent racist euphemism? It used to refer to the legal doctrine, according to which racial segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted at the close of the Civil War, which guaranteed “equal protection” under the law to all citizens.

Using this doctrine, state and local governments could require that services, facilities, public accommodations, housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation be segregated by race, as long as the facilities provided to each race were “equal”.

 

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It was widely understood, though, that services and facilities offered to African Americans were almost never “equal” in any real sense. The repeal of laws that divided people by race, known as “Jim Crow” laws, was the focus of the Civil Rights movement, and in 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education formally overturned the “Separate but Equal” doctrine.

But there was still a lot of work to do. Most black people understood that the only path to their rightful place in American society was full “integration”, and that was the basis of Martin’s message. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, he notes that 100 years after the Civil War, African Americans are still  “badly crippled by the manacles of segregation”.

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Of course, Malcolm had a slightly different message, and one that resonated at least as strongly as Martin’s, that focused more on independence than integration. But everyone understood that “Separate but Equal” was not the answer, and the focus of all our collective efforts over the years was to refute it.

But, with time, the odious phrase lost its bite and actually came to represent something desirable for some young people. It’s a bit disorienting to hear black high school students advocating for segregated proms, for example, using the that very same phrase. You can’t help but feeling they haven’t read their history when you hear this.

Yesterday, I wrote about events at Evergreen State College, where white people were asked to stay away from campus for a day. Today, I’m reading that Harvard has held separate commencements for students of color. At their request.

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Everything old is new again.

Equity Action Plan

Somehow, the word “equity” has come to replace the word “equality” in the pedagogic vernacular in discussions of racism on campus. Maybe it’s because my own concerns are so far removed from those of today’s college student, but when I hear the word “equity”, I think of this now-secondary definition:

“the money value of a property or of an interest in a property in excess of claims or liens against it”

Indeed, the first definition in the online version of the Merriam Webster dictionary is now:

“justice according to natural law or right; specifically :  freedom from bias or favoritism”

It’s a little confusing to someone on the outside, but it feels a little bit like the goal of ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity to achieve has been replaced with the goal of ensuring that everyone achieves the same outcome.   And it’s not immediately obvious to the lay person what the deficiencies of the now obsolete term, “equality”, might have been.

Evergreen State College has an Equity Action Plan. It’s an impenetrable thicket of jargon, but the gist of it is that racism explains just about everything that’s wrong. It’s got different “goals” listed, including Content Goals, Process Goals, Outcome Goals, and a single Equity Goal, which is:

• Our equity goal, simply put but not simply achieved, is to substantially improve the experiences of underserved students on our campus so that we close equity gaps in student learning and student success. An “equity gap” is an unequitable difference—read “worse”— between the experiences, opportunities, and/or outcomes of underserved students. We choose “underrepresented” and “underserved” with intention, in recognition of the power of language to name the problem as one of historical exclusion from ‘the academe’ and its power and resources, eschewing language that sources the problem as the students themselves (“at risk”) or in a negative light (“minority”).

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Bruce Weinstein, a biology professor at the college, voiced his disagreement with the Plan.

The plan and the way it is being forced on the college are both deeply authoritarian, and the attempt to mandate equality of outcome is unwise in the extreme. Equality of outcome is a discredited concept, failing on both logical and historical grounds, as anyone knows who has studied the misery of the 20th century. It wouldn’t have withstood 20 minutes of reasoned discussion.

This presented traditional independent academic minds with a choice: Accept the plan and let the intellectual descendants of Critical Race Theory dictate the bounds of permissible thought to the sciences and the rest of the college, or insist on discussing the plan’s shortcomings and be branded as racists. Most of my colleagues chose the former, and the protesters are in the process of articulating the terms. I dissented and ended up teaching in the park.

Weinstein also disagreed with the “Day of Absence” at Evergreen, where all white people have been asked to stay off campus. He wrote an email protesting the event which induced accusations of racism and ignited a campus firestorm.

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This has given outlets like Breitbart apoplexy.  To be honest, the concept of asking any group to stay away does seem a little over the edge, although the idea of being on the same side as Breitbart on this or any issue is dread-inducing at best.

The Washington Times reports some of the action this way:

A video of the confrontation, captured by Mr. Vincent, shows Mr. Weinstein attempting to reason with dozens of students who routinely shout him down, curse at him and demand his resignation.

When the professor tells the students he will listen to them if they listen to him, one student responds, “We don’t care what terms you want to speak on. This is not about you. We are not speaking on terms — on terms of white privilege. This is not a discussion. You have lost that one.”

Another protester asks the professor whether he believes “black students in sciences are targeted.”

After asking for a clarification, Mr. Weinstein says, “I do not believe that anybody on our faculty, with intent, specially targets students of color.”

That remark prompts shrieks of outrage.

Weinstein, a lifelong liberal, is now literally under siege and his resignation has been demanded. In a lengthy interview on the Rubin Report, he claims that student protesters threatened to kidnap him

Equity in action at Evergreen State College. Ugh.

Screwie speaks: Multiculturalism

My cousin Screwie came over the other day with a couple of six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon to watch the Celtics get crushed by the Cavaliers. He was flipping through channels after the game and landed on an episode of “All in the Family”.

It was the one where they flashed back to the time Gloria, the budding flower-child daughter, first introduces Michael, her long-haired leftie boyfriend, to Archie, her old-school working-class father.  Archie and Michael (or “Meathead”) are left alone to get acquainted.

Archie: What kind of a name is Stivic?

Meathead: Huh?

A: Where you from?

M: Oh, uh, Chicago.

A: I mean what’s your nationality?

M: (A little baffled) I’m an American.

A: I mean, where are your people from?

M: They’re from Poland.

A: (Rolls eyes) That would make you Polish, then.

Screwie’s had three or four PBRs at this point and says. “See? See how far we’ve gone in the wrong direction? This is why I hate St. Patrick’s Day. And Columbus Day”.

“What are you babbling about?”, I politely inquire.

He explains that in 1971, forty-six short years ago, this joke was on Archie. He was unenlightened and bigoted, and wanted to impose some sort of negative stereotype on Michael for being “Polish” when Michael wasn’t Polish at all, but a proud American, indeed every bit the American that Archie was.

Archie’s impulse was to “other” the Meathead, to assert his own right as a “real” American to decide who else had the Bona Fides to join the club. This was the definition of small-mindedness at the time – the opposite of what it meant to be “progressive”. Archie didn’t understand that everyone in this country (except the indigenous peoples, the “real” Americans) was an immigrant or the child of immigrants, all aspiring to be “American”. The audience roared. Archie was an idiot.

So I say, OK cousin, but what does this have to do with St. Patrick or Columbus?

Screwie says, “Look at this recent St. Patrick’s Day parade we just had. It was the usual cast of characters from Southie, having their one big moment to assert their “superiority” by keeping others out, namely gay people. None of them were “Irish”, any more than the Meathead was “Polish”. They were all Americans, the same as you, me, Archie, and Meathead. I’ll bet you none of them has ever even been to Ireland.” Even the Boston Globe writes, “The St. Patrick’s Day parade is the embarrassment that never goes away.”

“Same with Columbus Day. Columbus stumbled onto the “new world” while trying to do something else entirely, and ‘discovered’ a continent of people who were doing just fine for ten thousand years without him. And now all the “Italians” here want to have a parade. But they’re not “Italian”, they’re American.

And their antecedents, like the Irish, Polish, and all other immigrants before them, were desperately trying to scrape a few cents together to leave whatever hell-hole they were living in to come here and be ‘Americans’. Only generations later does that old country become something to hang your hat on and brag about, no matter how horrible it really was. And how horrible would it have to be for you to want to escape it without any money, prospects, English language skills, or anything else? Pretty bad.”

“Huh”, I reply, incisively.

But now Screwie is on a roll. “The problem is this crazy idea that’s taken root called ‘Multicuturalism’. The old idea of accepting the ‘tired poor huddled masses yearning to be free’ has morphed into ‘bring all your crazy shit over here and pretend you’re still in Beirut or Guadalajara or Mogadishu or wherever.’ Don’t bother learning English or Baseball or anything else – we’ll just accommodate you no matter what because that’s just how ‘progressive’ we are. Never mind that if you keep doing what you were doing over there, pretty soon life for you will be the same over here.”

“The very thing we saw as regressive and bigoted in Archie Bunker is the thing we now celebrate – no one wants to be just an ‘American’ now like Meathead and all the other enlightened people of 1971 did.”

Screwie is an organized thinker, and likes to make lists to clarify his points. The subject of multiculturalism is no exception, and he forges ahead, opening yet another PBR.

He says,
“1) Multiculturalism is an American obsession – no one else cares about it or thinks it’s a good idea. That’s because we’re the only country founded on the principle that everyone is welcome to jump into our melting pot. It makes a big stew called ‘American culture’ from all the ingredients brought here from everywhere else. Lately, we’ve forgotten about the melting pot and have become a Tapas place, where everyone has their own identity and ‘culture’, and ‘American’ culture, if it exists, is something to scorn.

2) It’s a one-way street. When I travel to Malaysia for business, I first read “Culture Shock – Malaysia”, because I don’t want to offend anyone. When in Rome, I try to do as the Romans do.  I learn that in Malaysia you don’t shake a woman’s hand when we meet in the office, because they’re Muslims and it’s not cool. When our diplomats travel to the Arabian peninsula, the women wear head-scarves to be respectful of their culture.

But when the Malaysians or Saudis come here, the women don’t shake my hand here either (and their men don’t shake the hand of the women here, even the CEOs), and their women still wear the veil here.  No one is reading “Culture Shock – America” when they come here, hoping to fit in. We defer to their ‘culture’ when we are there, and we defer to it when they are here. No one defers to American culture.

3) Multiculturalism marginalizes and even denies American culture, even though it pervades the world. When the Iranians refer to the ‘Great Satan’, they are not talking about our politicians or our foreign policy or our Christians and Jews. They are talking about American ‘culture’, that siren song of temptation – the movies and music, sexual freedom, gender equality, consumerism, pornography, hedonism, atheism, etc. etc. All of it. It threatens them and their culture (at least they worry that it does). I’m not saying American culture is better than anyone else’s or even that it’s good. I’m saying it exists, but that when we elevate and aspire to ‘multiculturalism’, we are denying it.

4) It re-enforces identity politics and grievances and gives old prejudices sustenance. That’s what Archie was doing with Meathead, and we used to understand it as a bad thing.

Remember that news story in Cambridge the other day? The one about the high school kids on the bus that were acting up and playing their music way too loud and annoying the other passengers? They were kids being kids and being inconsiderate and annoying, as kids will be. The driver tells them to pipe down, and that’s when the story becomes ‘news’.

See the driver was Whatever-White-American and the kids were African-American. So a seventeen year old girl starts in on how this is a ‘micro-aggression’ and racism because in her ‘culture’, music and sound and blah blah blah.  Not too long ago, the kids would have said “sorry” or “fuck off, old man” or whatever, but insisting that their right to annoy others is based in their ‘culture’? And that the driver is a racist? This is what they’re now taught in school. Wow.

5) Multiculturalism perpetuates and accentuates what divides us at the expense of what unites us. Another example from school: the kids have access to video equipment so they can create stuff to be shown on their own little TV station, which other citizens of Cambridge can watch. Kinda cool.

So I’m watching this perfectly charming piece made by a girl about her neighborhood and family and what she likes about school, etc. And she says, ‘On my street, there are about half American families and half Muslim families’.  Holy shit, I think. This is a problem.

A couple of months later, the Boston Marathon bombing happened.  A little punk named Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, along with his older brother, did the crime. He went to the same high school as the video-maker girl, where he was given a college scholarship by his Cambridge neighbors, wrestled on the school team, smoked some dope, and appeared to be like any other kid. He lived just a couple of streets over from the girl who made the video in which the distinction between Americans and Muslims was casually and innocently asserted, and not corrected or edited out by any teacher. You do the math.

6) It weakens our position in foreign policy matters when our own people are hyphenated. I don’t think we’ll be going to war with Ireland any time soon, though with President Crazy-pants you never know. But if we do, should we send our Irish-American troops?  Or just our British-American ones?

Remember the Japanese internment after Pearl Harbor? It is now recognized as one of the worst things we ever did – rounding up Americans with Japanese antecedents because we couldn’t trust them to be ‘Americans’. Just when we got to the point where we realized that mistake, we are now reversing direction and glorifying and encouraging everyone to maintain their real ‘identity’, i.e membership in some group that is not ‘American’.

7) People no longer come here to be ‘American’. They come here to remain what they were, but with political stability, economic opportunity, and social equality. This cannot sustain. And it’s un-American, There. I said it.

8) If we insist on everyone’s right to maintain their own culture, we are ignoring the many areas of conflict between what we want our culture to be and what you insist yours is. Should we encourage ‘culture’ hostile to homosexuality or women’s rights? Or one that includes genital mutilation, polygamy, or honor killing? We say we want to honor the other cultures, but some other cultures are built on what we abhor, and some are downright hostile to ‘American’ culture. See point 2 above.”

By this time my head is spinning. Screwie’s a lot smarter than I am, so I never just dismiss what he rants about. But after all those PBRs, I’m not sure he really means it all, and he’s starting to slur his words a little. I figured it was time to kick him out.

Anyway, it was time to fix dinner for my house-mates, who are proud Feline-Americans.

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Only in America

The other night, at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, host Hasan Minhaj finished his remarks by saying, “Only in America can a first-generation Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president. It’s a sign to the rest of the world, it’s this amazing tradition, that even the president is not beyond the reach of the First Amendment.”

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For the first time since Reagan was in the hospital recovering from being shot, the president wasn’t there. Trump was in Harrisburg, PA, because he’s a pathetic coward and dangerously thin-skinned narcissist who can’t take a joke. And because, unlike Minhaj, he doesn’t respect the First Amendment at all, as it apparently allows people to disagree with him publicly.  He spent the evening leading chants of “Lock Her Up”, asserting that all news (except FoxNews) is fake, that coal mining jobs are coming back, that the first hundred days of his presidency were much better than anyone else’s, and so on.

But today’s blog isn’t about Trump. It’s about Asian Salad, or should I say “Asian” salad. There was an opinion piece in the Rapidly Failing New York Times (the “rapidly” is new, just added in Harrisburg!) a few days ago by author Bonnie Tsui, complaining about the casual racism of the word “Asian” in this context.

Am I taking this too seriously? The casual racism of the Asian salad stems from the idea of the exotic — who is and isn’t American is caught up wholesale in its creation. This use of “Oriental” and “Asian” is rooted in the wide-ranging, “all look same” stereotypes of Asian culture that most people don’t really perceive as being racist. It creates a kind of blind spot.

Most of the RFNYT readers who commented on the piece thought that, yes, she was taking this too seriously, though some agreed vehemently that these sorts of “micro-aggressions” must not be tolerated. Quite a few noted that it was just this sort of over-sensitivity and identity politics that invites the backlash that ultimately leads to Trump getting elected.

I don’t have a strong opinion about this controversy, except to celebrate that at least it is someone with “Asian” roots complaining here, unlike, say, the concern trolls who want Chief Wahoo banished from baseball. The minute Native Americans complain about him, as they well might, Wahoo has to go. But they haven’t yet, at least as far as I’m aware.

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But what struck me most from the “Asian Salad” article was this sentence:

“To a white audience, it reads as diverse. To actual Asian-Americans, it reads as ridiculous.”

I started thinking, is there a corollary to “Asian Americans” anywhere in Asia, or anywhere else? In other words, is there a sizeable population of second-generation “North American-Koreans” living in Seoul, say, who are offended by some local fast food joint selling American Bar-B-Q or whatever? I don’t think so.

Yes, there are pockets of American ex-pats and conscientious objectors who have established a beach-head elsewhere, but in general they attempt to assimilate and become like everyone around them. If they move to France, they aspire to become French, not to sit around Les Deux Magots complaining that they’re insulted by the American Hamburger on the menu. More likely, they’d join in the criticism of America from their new home. And if, against all odds, Le Figaro published some complaint along these lines, does anyone imagine Parisians chastising themselves for their own insensitivity?

Our country is really the only one in the world founded on the idea of accepting everyone from everywhere else, and turning them into “Americans” (again apologies to indigenous peoples here). Or letting them retain their own culture and respecting that, if they want, though you’ll be hearing from my cousin, Screwie Generis, on the subject of multiculturalism soon enough.

It’s galling to hear other people elsewhere in the world (I’m looking at you, Germany), criticizing us for racism, cultural insensitivity, and intolerance. Do we have a lot of work to do and a lot of room for improvement before every last citizen is treated as they’d like? Yes, of course.

But only in America has this goal been enshrined in the founding documents. That’s why so many people want to come here (or to escape here, if you prefer), and so few want to leave.

And if a new arrival or one of their descendants wants to point out that the rest of us are a bunch a racists for putting Asian Salad on the menu, the New York Times is ready to give them a platform to fire away. The rest of us will give it serious consideration.

 

Gummint regs

Sometimes the anti-government people actually have a good point – regulations can be stupid and costly. And sometimes the anti-PC people have a point – political correctness can go too far. And sometimes there is a really good example that shows what happens when the two meet.

The Appalachian Mountain Club maintains a string of eight “high huts” in the White Mountains, each about a day’s hike from the next, that enables you to  complete a trek across this most spectacular 56-mile length of the 2190 miles of the Appalachian Trail without going below tree line.

In 1999, the AMC wanted to rebuild its Galehead Hut, which can accommodate 38 people overnight. The hut is 3800 above sea level, and four and a half fairly difficult trail miles from the road.

Because the AMC leases the land for the huts from the U.S. Forest Service, their renovations would have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They had to provide a wheelchair ramp into the hut to comply. This and other requirements would increase the cost of the project by about $50,000, and everyone knows the AMC does not have very deep pockets.

But is it really necessary to build a wheelchair ramp to a hut that has never been visited by anyone in a wheelchair? Can’t we get an exception in this case? Yes, they were told, it’s necessary, and no, no exceptions. So, despite the loud murmur of disapproval from the fairly reasonable among us, the club went ahead and built the wheelchair ramp, which is prominently featured in the above picture.

To make the point that people confined to wheelchairs could to anything that other people could do, a wheelchair hike to Galehead was undertaken in 2000, after a year of planning. Teams of friends worked together to try to get the wheelchair hikers to the hut. There were three people in wheelchairs, two on crutches and a support team of twenty.

Some details from the above link:

Simple wooden planks proved useful in crossing broken-up sections of the trail, but a rope pulley system failed to live up to expectations. Sometimes pure grit and muscle from the entire team were still needed to power through some of the trail’s steeper sections like Jacob’s Ladder, a challenging bit of trail with large boulders and slick facing rocks two-thirds of the way up.

At one point, Gray abandoned his chair, literally hopped onto the trail and climbed the mountain backwards — using his arms, shoulders and hands to push up each stone step, while a teammate held his legs in a fabric sling.

Twelve hours later — some eight and a half hours more than it takes most able-bodied climbers — Krill and his crew arrived at the Galehead hut in the glow of the setting sun, followed by Murray, Gray, Haley and Marzouk. Cruising up the ramp, the group headed inside for Philly cheese steaks and champagne. After a day of resting sore muscles and repairing equipment, the group would head back down with the same grit and grace they exhibited on the ascent.

Here’s another account of the effort. The New York Times also published an excellent piece about the whole thing.

The “hikers” and their support teams claimed that the exercise was a great success and validated the government requirements and the cost to the AMC to build the ramp.

In fact, it proved the opposite. People confined to wheelchairs cannot climb mountains. Obviously.

Yes, if you plan for a year and get twenty people to carry you up the trail and deposit you at the doorstep of the hut, the group has succeeded at something difficult. So what? And the whole thing begs this question: if your team can carry you for 12 hours up a difficult trail, can they not also hoist you up the last 18″ onto the porch of the hut without needing a $50,000 ramp?

The NYT piece ends with this question:

Would the hut’s ramp ever really be used again? Would they ever, really, want to do this again, after all the almost-tipping and rib-bruising and grueling labor? Sure, said Mr. Krill, 29. ”Next time I can get enough people to do it with me.”

 

 

 

Lysenko echoes

Trofim Lysenko was a geneticist (of sorts) who rose to become the head  of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which was the broad network of plant and cattle breeders, academicians, and research facilities operating in the Soviet Union from 1929-1992. Lysenko and his ideas, now known as “Lysenkoism”, dominated the organization for 30 years, and led to the formal ban on teaching “Mendelist” genetics (i.e. real genetics) in the Soviet Union, which lasted until the 1960s.

According to Lysenko, acquired traits could be inherited. In other words, if you grafted a branch of a plant of one species onto a plant of another, you’d be creating a new hybrid plant whose characteristics would be passed on to its descendants. Or if you plucked the leafs off a plant, its descendants would be leafless. In other words, Lysenko was not a scientist at all.

Lysenkoism was very attractive to the Soviets because it was “politically correct”, a term invented by Lenin, meaning that it was consistent with the underlying Marxist view that heredity played a limited role in behavior, and that a new “breed” of citizen, a selfless Soviet Man, would be created as generations lived under socialism.  Lysenkoism also held promise for addressing the famines created by the Soviet collectivization of agriculture. And Lysenko himself had risen from the peasantry and developed his theories “practically”, i.e. without scientific experimentation. All good, right?

The control of politics over science got to the point where Stalin personally “corrected” Lysenko’s draft of his 1948 opening address to the Academy,  “On the Situation in Biological Science”.

Looking back from our advanced and enlightened 2017 perspective, we can see the absurdity of it all, and appreciate the harm it all did, not just to science and “truth”, but to the millions who might have been properly fed without it.

And we can easily see that the real problem was the  cult of personality around Stalin. That one individual had the power to say what was science and what wasn’t, and that lives could be destroyed by such a pronouncement, is the ultimate indictment of the totalitarian model. And when you add in the personal limitations of that individual – paranoia, insecurity, superstition, the willingness to embrace nonsense as fact – you know it will end in catastrophe.

Lucky for us we live in a democracy with checks and balances, where one man cannot determine what science is, and one man cannot silence dissenters with the stroke of a pen. We live in an open society where the scientific method is understood, even with the occasional Inconvenient Truth it reveals. Right?

Wrong, suckers!

Your new president has banned expressions from within any part of the federal government of thoughts on climate change that conflict with his own nutty mindset. And just to remind you what exactly that mindset is, here’s what he said in 2012:

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Tweets from Badlands National Park with actual facts have now been deleted by Man-baby-fiat. Of course nothing is ever actually gone from the internet once it gets there, so, for the curious, here they are:

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The Interior Department had its Twitter account shut down as well after two re-tweets regarded as unsympathetic to Trump during the inauguration. They’re back now, for the moment anyway.

Web pages about climate change, LGBT rights, civil rights and health care have disappeared from whitehouse.org. Archived Obama-era pages here.

Did we think this was possible? Could Obama or anyone else in the past have gotten away with this? Where’s Congress? Where’s the outrage? Who will say “no” to this guy? It hasn’t been a week and free speech has been happily thrown out the window.

We’ve seen the climate change denial among Republicans for years. Here’s a 2013  opinion piece from Forbes  on Lysenkoism and climate change. But it took the election of the man-baby to make all their dreams come true.

Screw facts, truth, science and the liberal elite horse they rode in on.

I agree with Trump

I agree with Hitler, too: German Shepherds are really fine dogs. The Führer and I are on the same page – it would be really cool to get a new German Shepherd puppy. Am I a bad person? (Don’t answer that.)

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Trump seems to me to be a profoundly ignorant person. A willfully ignorant person. It’s really quite shocking that someone who grew up with so many privileges and opportunities, and who has seen so much of the world in his adult life, could have taken in so little. A normal person would have to try really hard to achieve that, which is why I say he is “willfully” ignorant. Or maybe it’s related to some sort of ADD or other physical characteristic. He just can’t stay on one thing for more than a few seconds.

The net effect is, as I have pointed out many times, that Trump has no real principles. He doesn’t “believe” what he’s saying half the time because he doesn’t even know what he’s saying half the time. And then he’ll completely contradict himself, sometimes even in the same sentence, which only reinforces the notion that he doesn’t believe in anything. We’ve seen it often.

This is not to say that therefore nothing he says matters. As president, the things he says will matter very much.

This presents an interesting dilemma for the rest of us. Since, over the course of time, Trump will take every side of every issue (which is absolutely perfect for someone who wants to take credit for prescience), the law of averages suggests that sooner or later he’ll say something you actually agree with. Or, if you prefer, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

If you do agree with something that flies by on Trump’s twitter feed, it doesn’t mean you support him or think he may be an OK president. Or that he isn’t a vulgar man-baby. And it doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking the thing that Trump has now blurted out, either.

Some of the things you might be thinking are things you would have never said in the past, because you know your friends would think you were an asshole if you said them. Or just because the social contract that keeps us from screaming at each other all the time has forbidden you to say them. When Trump says them, it gives you permission to say them, too. Trump is voiding the social contract, which is why all the racists and nut-jobs on Breitbart think it’s Morning In America.

I’ll give you two quick examples of stupid things Trump said this week that I actually agree with. The first is we should cut funding of the U.N. (everyone there hates us), and the second is the we should cut aid to sub-Saharan African countries (the aid hardly ever reaches the intended recipient and usually accomplishes the opposite of what we hoped it would).

Am I a bad person? (Don’t answer that.)