History distortions for modern ideological propaganda

A twofer from down under in the Quadrant … But first a bit about the phenomena in academia.

Roger Kimball: Civilization Is History at Yale – “Great art is too ‘white, straight, European and male,’ so it’ll have to give way to the latest agitprop.” (behind WSJ paywall so see Instapundit to get the ghist.)

Roger Franklin: Aboriginal History Goes to Pot – “One of the many curious things about Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu is its dearth of references to Aboriginal pottery, evidence of which one might expect to be found in profusion.” This is an example of gross evidence that often gets shoved under the rug because it doesn’t fit the desired narrative.

“The firing of clay to produce rodent-proof containers for storing grain, as well as cooking pots and drinking vessels, is a hallmark of even the earliest agrarian settlements — settlements of exactly the sort Pascoe claims the explorers encountered.

Find pottery shards and, as archeological evidence everywhere in the world establishes, what the trowels and brushes will have uncovered is a site where former residents had progressed from paleolithic hunter-gatherers to the more settled neolithic lifestyle Pascoe insists Aborigines attained and, indeed, exceeded.

Jeremy Black: Rethinking the History and Value of Empires – “discussing empire is not simply a matter of objective assessment but also an aspect of the culture wars that are so important to the modern politics of identity. Moreover, this is the case pretty well everywhere, as most countries are one-time empires, as with Britain and Hungary, or remain empires, as with China and Russia, or have experienced imperial rule.

“The discussion of empire is generally today part of a standard anti-Western “discourse”, one that was honed by the Left before, but even more during, the Cold War from 1945 to 1989, and that is painted thickly onto the British past and the American present. From those original sins of empire comes the use of imperialism as a standard critique of “the West”, past, present and future.

This approach needs unpicking if we are to understand the past of a range of states, including Britain, Hungary and, indeed, Australia, which has been accused of being an empire in the South-West Pacific. Moreover, the use of empire as a building-block in the Left’s dominance of culture wars also requires attention.

A similar point about anachronistic judgments can be made about slavery. In practice, coercive labour systems have persisted for most and probably all of human history, just as they are now very much on display in dictatorial states such as North Korea.

Moreover, the choice repeatedly, across history and area, was not that of cruel empire versus pleasant, benign, self-governing peoples, but rather of empire versus empire.

This approach to global history is one that has to be recovered from the presentist tendency to focus on empire as a Western cause, condition and pathology.

Mark Anderson: Mitt Romney: The Dumbest Smart Person? – “The Democrats’ strategy is (or should be) clear to one and all: use the impeachment trial as the means to retake the Senate.”

“The Democrats have always known they do not have the votes to remove the president — especially not based on these weak and vague articles. The weakness of their case belies their actual strategy: retake the Senate.

How? By using the tools they always use. Innuendo. Suspicion. Accusations of “hiding” the truth. The snowballing effect of people “suddenly” convinced of the case to add even weight to the charges.

None of these tactics is new. They’ve been used in the Russia collusion hoax. They were used in the Mueller probe. They were most recently used in the Ukraine “whistleblower” rollout. (Note especially how Trump blew up their planned snowballing of “other whistleblowers” who were all going to come forward — until he released the transcript.)

The best answer is to dismiss the articles of impeachment solely on constitutional grounds. It’s simple: the merits of the case do not meet constitutional standards. That’s the vote. Do these charges rise to the level of constitutional grounds for impeachment? No.

Doing so changes the dynamics and public perception. Instead of “they’re hiding something,” it becomes “this isn’t constitutional.” The case should be scoffed at because it truly is weak.

Brock Simmons: Can’t Make This Up… New York State Is Now Mandating “Stargazing Permits” For Looking At The Sky – “So what happens when an illegal alien wants to look up at the sky, and can’t get the permit because he doesn’t have proper ID? ACLU would no doubt sue the state for millions, and the taxpayers would be on the hook for it.” This is not the Babylon Bee … (e.g. Scholars Now Believe Jesus Spent Time With Prostitutes, Tax Collectors Just To Avoid Hanging Out With Loathsome Journalists.

rbradley: Friedman on Friedman on the Carbon Tax (remembering Bob Inglis’s faux pas) – it’s about Forbes trying to establish the logical fallacy of attribution to authority posthumously to support a questionable conclusion.

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