Saturday, March 16, 2019


I've been assuming that the right-wing habit of offering "thoughts and prayers" after every mass slaughter has been thoroughly discredited, as a clear attempt to shut down debate. But at the Daily Wire, Andrew Klavan responds to the New Zealand mosque massacre by defending the practice:
When tragedy or atrocity strikes — as it just did with the mosque shootings in New Zealand — thoughts and prayers are not just an expression of compassion. They are, more importantly and more wisely, an expression of humility and helplessness. They are a way of saying: “There is nothing we can do in the face of this wickedness but we stand in solidarity with the victims and ask God to comfort their families in their sorrow.”

Almost every other reaction is absurd. To suggest you have the solution to the eternal problem of evil in the form of addressing your pet peeve or of blaming and attacking your political opponents is disgraceful. It is to use the bodies of the slain for a soap box. It degrades you and insults the victims.
So according to Klavan, unless you have a plan for eliminating all the evil in the universe, there's nothing you can do about any societal problem. You can't, for instance, change the gun laws (which succeeded in reducing violence when Australia did it in 1996; New Zealand's prime minister now vows that her country's gun laws will change). You can't call out a global culture of white supremacists, or online communities where no one would dream of alerting the authorities after a credible announcement by a community member that he's about to commit an act of terrorist violence. You just have to shrug and whimper, in a state of "humility and helplessness."

And please note that Klavan himself is "us[ing] the bodies of the slain for a soap box" while criticizing others for the same offense.
It is likewise absurd to extrapolate from the murderer’s philosophy in order to condemn philosophies that may have something in common with it.
Klavan is obviously upset that his own strain of Islamophobic conservatism, which he shares with the president of the United States, is being blamed for the killings in New Zealand. I think it's an oversimplification to say flatly that Donald Trump was the inspiration for the massacre. The Southern Poverty Law Center has an excellent rundown on the shooter's likely influences, a number of which are unfamiliar to the general public.

On the other hand, when nearly every conservative in America is arguing that there's no daylight between the ideologies of Democratic progressives and Nicolas Maduro, I don't want to hear a conservative complain that right-wing belief systems are being unfairly conflated.
The clown who opened fire on the New Zealand mosques released a social media statement praising white supremacy, Chinese Communism, fascism, climate change alarmism and who knows what else. I find all these philosophies ridiculous and even dangerous. It’s therefore tempting to me to blame them for the actions of this unholy jackass. But that’s nonsense.
Calling Brenton Tarrant a "clown" is an insult to the dead and wounded, for whom Tarrant's actions were no joke; Klavan would never use that word in reference to a violent Islamiscist. In his manifesto, Tarrant praised the Chinese government (not Communism per se) for unstated but obvious reasons: China is not a diverse nation, and China brutalizes its Muslim minority. Tarrant's "climate change alarmism" is one of few aspects of his manifesto that's not morally repugnant. But as anyone who's read the manifesto knows, all of this is tangential -- the core of Tarrant's belief system is ethnic separatism. When Klavan and others on the right raise these incidental points in Tarrant's manifesto, they're trying to distract you from the central message.
We all have ideas and opinions but murderers should not be allowed to become part of our conversation.
But murder was one of Tarrant's key ideas. It's an idea that has to be part of the conversation, because there are people in our society who believe that the presence of Muslims in majority-white nations is an existential threat to which the only proper response is violence. I think the presence of these people in our society is a massive problem. Demanding that we not talk about them is an effort to distract attention from those who don't share their goals but do share their rage, including Klavan himself and the president.
We do not have to talk about any of these things today.
This is a variation on "Now is not the time..." -- the standard conservative response to any talk of gun control after a mass murder.
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously wrote: “Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.” In the face of evil and unimaginable suffering, there is nothing wrong with having nothing to say. All we can do is feel for the victims and appeal to that great Heart of Righteousness we trust will triumph at the end of time.

My thoughts and prayers.
That's Klavan is sanctimonious mode. Here's Klavan last fall:

The Daily Wire published a video today called “Leftese Dictionary: J is for Jihad.” The video is part of a series that Klavan has dedicated to deriding the way liberals idealize concepts like diversity, intersectionality, and equality.... [T]o Klavan, the only thing Jihad means is “killing and raping people.”

“A proper reading of the Quran reveals that Jihad is a spiritual struggle during which a Muslim attempts to rise to a higher plane of consciousness by slaughtering unbelievers, raping their women, taking over their civilizations, and persecuting and oppressing them until they’re all dead. Thus, to oppose Jihad is to thwart the spiritual development of a religious believer,” Klavan says in the video....

Klavan concluded, “So really, when you think about it, it’s Jews and Christians who are the evil ones, and Muslims who are nice except for the whole Jihad slaughtering and raping people thing, which is very spiritual for the Muslim. For everyone else, it’s just being killed and raped, also known as Jihad.”
"In the face of evil and unimaginable suffering, there is nothing wrong with having nothing to say," Klavan writes now. But apparently this applies only when those responsible for the mass suffering are white.

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