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E-Pluribus | December 22, 2022
Despite the threats, 2022 was an off year for autocracy; a new class of beneficiaries of affirmative action; and free speech for all.
Note: E-Pluribus will return on Tuesday, December 27. Happy Holidays to you and yours!
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Jonah Goldberg: Authoritarianism’s Bad Year
In an end of year Winners & Losers list, Jonah Goldberg writes at The Dispatch that authoritarians would largely find themselves in the latter category. While authoritarianism is not remotely on its last legs, some of its main practitioners (Russia, China, Iran) are limping into 2023.
[J]ust last month, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance issued a report concluding that democracy is in decline while authoritarianism is deepening. Freedom House cataloged “The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule” back in February. “The global order is nearing a tipping point,” the nonprofit declared, “and if democracy’s defenders do not work together to help guarantee freedom for all people, the authoritarian model will prevail.” A Pew study of global attitudes concluded in May: “As democratic nations have wrestled with economic, social and geopolitical upheaval in recent years, the future of liberal democracy has come into question.”
I don’t dispute any of that, with one caveat: The future of liberal democracy is pretty much always an open question, because liberal democracy is always under threat from the authoritarian temptation. Authoritarianism comes naturally to humans, while liberalism has to be taught—and fought for. Whenever liberal democratic capitalism seems to stumble—which is often—authoritarianism suddenly seems like a viable alternative (I wrote a whole book about this).
Sadly, authoritarianism can sound appealing in the abstract, but people tend not to like it when they actually experience it. And while it often works very well for the authoritarians themselves—Vladimir Putin may, in fact, be the world’s richest man—it fails for the average citizen.
People need to see the failures. As Edmund Burke said, “Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”
But it isn’t failure per se that undermines authoritarianism. Every system is flawed, every government makes mistakes. It is the inability to admit and remedy mistakes that is authoritarianism’s Achilles’ heel.
Read it all.
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Dave Seminara: Straight White Males Strongly Encouraged Not to Apply
While the Supreme Court considers a possible sunset on race-based affirmative action in the U.S., Dave Seminara at City Journal says LGBT-based affirmative action is on the rise, not just here but worldwide.
The trend [job preferences for members of the LGBT-community] is visible on the HR pages of corporations and governmental institutions, at increasingly well-attended LGBT job fairs and summits, and in job listings on mainstream and gay job websites. The Mayo Clinic, for example, “strongly encourages” job applications from gay housekeeping assistants, gay orthopedic hand surgeons, gay transplant pulmonologists, and gay door attendants, among many other jobs seemingly unrelated to sexual orientation. Overtly liberal employers—the ACLU, for example—are more specific in encouraging or discouraging various tribes in their ads. A recent ad for a receptionist job appealed to “Black people, Indigenous people, people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people; women; people with disabilities, protected veterans, and formerly incarcerated individuals”—all “strongly encouraged to apply.” The March for Our Lives includes most of the usual groups (except veterans) in its job-vacancy statement but also throws “young people” into the mix. So grumpy old straight white men need not apply, apparently.
The influential Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the country’s largest LGBT rights lobbying group, describes the community it serves as a “protected class” in its most recent corporate equality index (CEI)—and the group deserves much credit for making it so. HRC’s 2022 report stresses the need for “diverse talent acquisition” and claims that a record-breaking 842 companies jumped through all the required hoops, including providing benefits for transgender reassignment procedures, to obtain a perfect 100 percent rating in the CEI.
Nearly half of all CEI-rated businesses attended an LGBT-specific recruiting event or industry function, including the industry’s preeminent one: the 2022 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, a three-day affair that included 5,300 delegates from 48 countries. The event included leadership workshops on the “Benefits of Transgender Inclusion Training at the National Security Agency,” the hardships of being asexual or aromantic in the workplace, Brazilian lesbians in tech, parenting while bisexual, leadership lessons from drag performers, and trans and nonbinary storytelling, among other topics.
Read it all here.
Ted Rall: Can’t Both Sides Back Free Speech?
Political Cartoonist Ted Rall, self proclaimed leftie, thinks there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around when it comes to the free-speech-for-me-but-not-for-thee mentality. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Rall calls out “liberal-leaning media organizations” for only caring about censorship when it’s happening to them.
Twitter and other social-media companies have deplatformed numerous figures on the right, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, InfoWars host Alex Jones and of course Donald Trump—as well as such Trump advisers as Roger Stone and Steve Bannon. Twitter has used algorithms to shadow-ban conservatives, and tens of thousands of anti-vaxxers and QAnon adherents lost their Twitter accounts. Documents released by Mr. Musk show that Twitter executives worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to censor jokes about the 2020 election under the guise of combating “misinformation.”
You can’t remain silent while others are getting censored, and then expect sympathy when it happens to you. But that’s what liberal-leaning media organizations are doing.
[ . . . ]
I’m a leftie who’s been vaccinated six times. But I support free speech, so I don’t think social or traditional media ought to quash anti-vaxxers. I publicly opposed campaigns to boycott Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers and cancel Ann Coulter, who has said nasty things about me. The only thing more dangerous than nutty cults like QAnon is censoring nutty cults like QAnon and pushing them underground.
Read the whole thing.
Perhaps DEI advocates should consider replacing what the “E” stands for from "equity” to “empathy.” Via the Washington Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium:
It’s the Taliban just being the Taliban, but Afghanistan’s slide back into the Dark Ages remains disturbing nonetheless:
And finally, the big story in Philly these days (OK, besides the 13-1 Eagles) is longtime news anchor Jim Gardner’s retirement (on a personal note, I grew up in South Jersey watching Action News nightly). Gardner had a message about freedom of the press as he said his farewells: