Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

There are Wolves, there are Sheep, and then there are Sheepdogs.

Wolves prey on the outnumbered, the weak, the unsuspecting, the vulnerable—i.e., whether the Sheep or, in a not infrequent number of cases, other Wolves who have fallen out of favor with the pack.

Wolves lack courage. They lack honor.  And Wolves care only about satisfying their own greed.

Though they are typically presented as being polar opposites, Wolves and Sheep actually share some character traits in common.  Sheep, too, tend not to be particularly courageous.  While they are not necessarily mean-spirited or even selfish, and while Sheep can be gentle and compassionate, since they value their own safety more than anything else, Sheep are prone to conform their speech and conduct to that of the herd.  They are prone to “obey orders.”

Thus, like Adolph Eichmann, to whom the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt ascribed a “curious, but quite authentic, inability to think,” Sheep too are devoid of original thought, preferring instead to trade in the banalities of whatever clichés and conventionalities happen to be in vogue at the moment.

Like Eichmann, Sheep “obey orders.” Only in the case of Sheep, the orders constitute the Zeitgeist of the majority, or what is felt to be the majority.

In the case of our contemporary political situation, the Spirit of the Times is what is usually called “Political Correctness.”

The Sheep, even when they suspect that PC notions are wrongheaded, will not dare to say so aloud.  Sheep, after all, are not daring.  And, so, PC is permitted to prevail.

The Wolves, however, are the self-appointed guardians of the PC orthodoxy, its watchdogs. The Wolves, forever salivating over the prospects of fresh blood, spare no occasion to search out deviations from their creed so as to administer as humiliating and agonizing a punishment for the heterodox as possible.

To repeat the foregoing point, Wolves and Sheep are quite similar in many respects.  Wolves run in packs because, though they will never admit it, not too far beneath the surface they are terribly afraid of being devoured by their own.  Wolves lack the self-discipline to act rightly, for righteousness often demands that one stand against the will of the Mob, the Pack or Herd.

Wolves and Sheep are two sides of the same coin.  Perhaps we need to add another character-type to this three-old taxonomy: There are Wolves, Sheep, Sheepdogs, and…Sheep-Wolves or Wolf-Sheep.

The Sheepdog, though, is of a different breed altogether.  The Sheepdog, like the Sheep, dreads trouble. He hates violence, and aims to avoid it at virtually all costs.  But unlike the Sheep, he doesn’t hate it because he fears for his own safety alone. Like the Wolf, the Sheepdog is willing to engage in violence, but unlike the Wolf, the Sheepdog will use violence if and only if it is necessary for the sake of preventing harm to innocents, whether himself or, crucially, others.

In the Sheepdog there is no arrogance.  The Sheepdog is not given to trash-talking.  His training involves the cultivation of, not just physical prowess but, what is arguably even more important, “situational awareness,” i.e. the ability to diffuse potentially violent situations before they occur.

In the world of contemporary American politics, one can distinguish the Wolves and Sheep from the Sheepdogs.  It’s also all too easy to see how the Wolves and Sheep are more like one another than either is similar to the Sheepdog: Wolves select their prey and then intimidate the Sheep into joining the attack.  The Sheep, of course, though conspicuously unenthusiastic—Sheep tend to lack enthusiasm about virtually everything—are nevertheless all too ready to pile on those who the Wolves have already maimed.  The target, after all, poses no threat at this point.

The Sheepdog, however, despises injustice. He despises alike bullies and those who never tire of ingratiating themselves to bullies. His instinct is to protect those upon whom the Wolves and their Sheep pummel, whether he likes or agrees with their prey or not, for these predatory attacks, lacking as they do all proportionality and honor, are unseemly.

When Roseanne Barr, a long-celebrated left-leaning white Jewish Hollywood actress dispatched an admittedly crude tweet identifying former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as the offspring between the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes, Roseanne was besieged by Legion, the mob of Wolves and their Sheep lackeys.  Jarrett, as it happens, is partially black.  Any ape reference vis-à-vis a black person is…“racist.”  Or so the social media mafia of Sheep, following marching orders from their Wolf bosses, wailed indignantly.

Roseanne, who herself on more than one occasion—like when she posted a picture of George Zimmerman’s parents’ home address while their son was incessantly receiving death threats from enraged blacks for his (justified) killing of Trayvon Martin—has been known to assume the role of Wolf herself.  Yet for this one tweet, and despite issuing multiple apologies, this one-time Wolf now found herself at the mercy of the pack.  As she became reduced with rapid speed to a non-person, exiled from the Respectable Society that she once inhabited, Roseanne quickly discovered that the Wolves and their ever-obedient Sheep were devoid of all mercy.

The Sheepdog, though no fan personally of Roseanne, is repulsed by the relentlessness of the attack upon her, as well as the cowardice of the Mob, all of whose members—Wolves and Sheep alike—would never think to be confrontational if they knew that they could be harmed while doing so.

In other words, the Sheepdog knows that the Herd would rather ground and pound an outnumbered, defenseless white woman for her alleged “racism”—a juvenile tweet—than express outrage over the precipitous rates and truly barbaric nature of black-on-non-black criminality and violence.  The former approach is not only safe, but it provides the added benefit of allowing Wolves and Sheep to virtue-signal to one another while encouraging them to see themselves as brave Social Justice Warriors.

The latter approach, in glaring contrast, is dangerous, particularly if the critic is white (though blacks and other racial minorities who are courageous enough to call out black criminality risk much too).

Despite its hazards, and maybe in part even because of them, the Sheepdog resolves to do his part in protecting innocents by acting on the side of truth and righteousness.

Be a Sheepdog.

This is the textbook illustration of the anti-Trumpers’ strategy via Donaldus Maximus:

Months ago, they waxed hysteria over Trump’s bellicose tweets vis-a-vis North Korea, wailing that this mentally unstable American President was bringing us to the precipice of nuclear war. But Trump’s tough talk was the only talk that succeeded in making the unthinkable happen: “Little Rocket Man” agreed to meet with the president of South Korea and Trump, the first American president ever to meet with the head of North Korea.

So, Trump engages in diplomacy–which is what they always complained he couldn’t do–and they….blast him for being too diplomatic.

The strategy? Damn Trump if he does, damn him if he doesn’t.

The anti-Trump doctrine we may sum up as follows: “He’s Trump, bitch.”

And then the anti-Trumpers bitch that Maximus’s summit with Kim Jong Un accomplished “nothing.” This is such a patently sophomoric, partisan position that it doesn’t deserve a response. But I’ll respond anyhow: The very fact that this genuinely historically unprecedented summit occurred is ITSELF a tremendous gain for peace.

That the heads of North and South Korea met and shook hands recently–an event for which the South Korean president credits Trump and says he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize–is a gain in itself. Even if it all falls apart–something that, his critics’ assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, Trump MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE has conceded is possible–Donaldus still deserves massive kudos for having gotten us this far.

Only fanatical political partisanship or irrational hatred of this President can account for why there are Americans who insist upon not only marginalizing the significance of this event, but further demonize Trump for having pulled it off.

While everyone today is familiar with the language of “fake news,” most people, irrespectively of partisanship, seem to have given the concept scant attention.

“Fake News” is indeed a real phenomenon.  In fact, at least politically speaking, and particularly in the Trump era, most of the news with which Americans are besieged is Fake News.  Given its ubiquity, then, we should be clear as to what it is—and is not.

To say of an item that it is Fake News is not to say, necessarily, that it contains no truth.  Just the opposite tends to be the case: It is only and precisely because coverage of an event consists of some truth that its partisan manufacturers are able to pass it off as legitimate news.

What makes an item a species of Fake News is not that its content is untrue but, rather, that it is true only so far as it goes—which never remotely approximates the point that it needs to reach. Fake News is distinguished on account of the details that its producers edit out so as to make their stories serve their editorial interests—which is to say their political agendas.

Fake News is fake by virtue of its content, true.  But its fraudulence as news stems equally as much from the primary motivation of its purveyors.

Fake News manufacturers and distributors are not, you see, motivated by the desire to inform the public of the truth.   They are driven first and foremost by their aching desire to destroy their political opponents while simultaneously running cover for their political allies.

For sure, Fake News can contain unequivocally false claims.  Yet the presence of false claims is neither necessary nor sufficient to establish those claims as Fake News.  There are at least two reasons for this.

(1)Though a claim is substantively false, it needn’t be a lie if it was made in good faith. Even the most well-intentioned of journalists make mistakes from time to time.  Their errors, taken in themselves, should not be used as a pretext for convicting them of producing Fake News.

(2)There may not be any false propositions at all in a story, but it can still be Fake News as long as the peddler, for partisan political considerations, omits other true statements the knowledge of which would radically alter the consumer’s reading of that story.

The Age of Donald Trump has already provided us with a virtually endless supply of examples of Fake News.  As I write this, the President has just concluded a world-historic meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, a feat that no other American president ever came close to accomplishing.  Because, though, the vast majority of media talking heads and scribblers are leftist Democrats—that they prefer not to advertise their political sympathies doesn’t change the nature of those sympathies—the vast majority of journalists can’t chance recognizing Trump’s act as the historically-unprecedented, potentially world-changing event that it is.

And, so, they’ve resolved to continue doing what they always do and trash Trump.

From NBC News:

“He praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as ‘honest, direct and productive’ and lambasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as ‘dishonest.’”

This is true; but it is true only as far as it goes.  The President, apparently, did indeed make some commendatory judgments of Kim of the kind reported by NBC, and he was critical of Trudeau.  Yet, unsurprisingly, this notorious anti-Trump network lifted the President’s comments from the wildly different contexts in which he made them so as to convey the blatantly false impression that Trump intended to make categorical moral assessments of each man: Kim Jong Un good, Justin Trudeau bad.

In reality, Trump was engaging in diplomacy with Un, i.e. exactly what he flew to Singapore to do.  As for Trudeau, Trump castigated the Prime Minister of Canada for telling Trump one thing, while telling the media something other. Trump, in other words, judged, not the overall person or character of each head of state but, rather, their actions on those occasions and within those contexts within which his interactions with them transpired.

Notice, months back when Trump referred to Un as “little rocket man” and saber rattled with him via Twitter, the Fake News peddlers at NBC and elsewhere slammed the President for his bellicosity.  Now, they’re slamming him for supposedly being too diplomatic.  This most recent NBC article levels both charges:

“Just months ago, he [Trump] was threatening to unleash ‘fire and fury’ on Kim and calling the North Korean autocrat ‘little rocket man.’

“Now, he’s telling the world that Kim is a credible partner in peace talks.”

This passage is clearly meant to reinforce the leftist Democrat talking point that Trump is incoherent.

This is Fake News.

But there’s more. The article also says that Trump “publicly muses about winning a Nobel Peace Prize” and that “he’s appeared somewhat obsessed with the idea that he can forge new bonds with adversaries in North Korea, China and Russia.”

First, Trump himself never “publicly muses about winning a Nobel Peace Prize.” It is others, people like, most tellingly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who have publically expressed their belief that, for his historic efforts to in effect end the Korean War and bring peace and unity to the Korean Peninsula, Trump deserves this prize.  “President Trump should win the Noble Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” Moon Jae-in said back in April.

Obviously, the journalists at NBC didn’t want to report this inconvenient detail.  To do so would all too easily lend the impression that, judged by those most directly involved, i.e. Koreans as represented by the likes of Moon Jae-in, Trump already scored a tremendous moral victory for his critical role in bringing the governments of South and North Korea together for the purpose of realizing a new era of peace.

It is more politically advantageous for NBC to strengthen the media’s anti-Trump script by making it appear that it is an arrogant, self-delusional President alone who talks about an award to which he thinks he is entitled.

In asserting that Trump is “obsessed” with forging new relationships with such “adversaries” as North Korea, China and Russia, NBC seeks to reinforce the media-created profile of Trump as a man both mentally and morally unfit for his office: He’s not just consumed by obsessions, but with obsessions of how to make American government more compatible with the governments of some of the planet’s most infamous regimes.

Trump does want for America to co-exist peacefully with the world. Yet by NBC’s spin, it convicts itself of producing Fake News.

 

A recently conducted Dartmouth University survey supplies some invaluable insights.

According to The Dartmouth, “undergraduates were asked if learning that another student had political beliefs opposite from their own would affect a range of possible interactions with them.”  Reportedly, 42% of respondents said that they would be less likely to befriend a person if that person’s politics were contrary to their own.  Seventy percent remarked that they’d be less likely to get romantically involved with someone with differing political views.  And 30% admitted to being less likely to trust a person with an opposite political perspective.

Yet the report is quick to note that these numbers in themselves conceal “sizable political differences [.]”

Democrats, it’s reported, are far more likely than Republicans or Independents to allow their politics to affect their relationships.

“While 82 percent of respondents who identified as Democrats say they would be less likely to date someone with opposing political beliefs, only 47 percent of Independents and 42 percent of Republicans said the same.”

When it comes to potential friendships, “55 percent of Democratic respondents said opposite political views would make them less likely to befriend another student, compared to 21 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.”

Judging from these results, students who are Democrats are the most intolerant of political differences while Republican students are vastly most tolerant than Democrats and even more tolerant than Independents—a situation that is the exact opposite of the picture that the left has been painting for decades.

The survey also found that while “majorities” of respondents claimed that knowledge of the political commitments of their professors would not dissuade them from taking classes with those professors, Democratic students were less likely than Independents and Republicans to enroll in courses taught by those with differing political views.

“Democratic students express less willingness to take classes from a Republican professor (38 percent) than Republican students do to take a class taught by a Democratic professor (23 percent).”  Moreover, of the four political orientations offered in the survey—Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Socialist—the 25 percent or so of student respondents who expressed a disinclination to enroll in a course whose instructor subscribed to a political perspective at odds with their own, Republican professors were most unpopular.

“About a quarter of respondents said that knowing a professor is a Republican (26 percent) or a Socialist (23 percent) would make them more unlikely to take a class.”

To repeat, Republican professors are more unpopular than avowed socialists.

In stark contrast, only 16 percent of students suggest that they would be less likely to take a class with a known libertarian professor, and a mere 6 percent would be deterred from enrolling in a course taught by a Democrat.

The findings of the survey on the issue of free speech coheres neatly with the foregoing information.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) demoted Dartmouth this past year from a “yellow light” to a “red light.”  According to Samantha Harris, Vice-President of policy research at FIRE, it was Dartmouth’s “Acceptable Use Policy” that accounts for the demotion. Under its restrictions, “broad categories of speech, a great deal of which would be entitled to First Amendment protection at a public university,” are banned.  Despite this, the authors of the Dartmouth survey assure us that Dartmouth students do not think that free speech is under assault at their school.

However, this last verdict is revealing for what it conceals.

For starters, while 52 percent of students said that free speech is “very or somewhat secured,” 33 percent said that it is “very or somewhat threatened.”  So, a third of the student body at Dartmouth, to judge from this survey, are of the latter opinion.

Secondly, “three times as many Republicans (69 percent) think free speech is threatened than do Democrats (21 percent).”

Thirdly, immediately after reporting that Dartmouth students judge that free speech is well and good at their institution, the survey finds that answers to “a related question about freedom of self-expression paints a somewhat different picture….”(emphasis added).

And what is this picture?  “When asked about whether ‘the climate on Dartmouth’s campus prevents some people from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive,’ a large majority of respondents (81 percent) said they strongly or somewhat agree” (emphasis added).

The truth is in the details, and the details here confirm what anyone and everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock have long known.

“Republicans (94 percent), white students (86 percent), men (87 percent) and students affiliated with Greek life (86 percent) are most likely to agree that such a limit exists [on] campus speech.”

When students were asked whether it was more important for Dartmouth to foster an environment that prohibits “certain speech or expression of viewpoints that are offensive or biased against certain groups of people” or one in which “students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints, even if it means allowing speech that is offensive or biased against certain groups of people,” seven out of ten respondents opted for the latter.

Of these, though, students who are Republican (94 percent), white (71 percent), and male (84 percent) “were most likely to opt for” robust freedom of speech and expression.

It is not until the end of the report that readers are informed of one especially relevant, quite telling fact: “Dartmouth’s student body is about two-thirds Democrat (67 percent) with small minorities of Republican identifiers (19 percent) and Independents (14 percent) [.]”

In summary, the Dartmouth survey establishes the truth of three propositions:

(1)Republican students are overwhelmingly outnumbered by Democrats at Dartmouth.

(2)Republican students are far more tolerant of diverse viewpoints than Democrats at Dartmouth.

(3)Republican students value freedom of speech and expression far more than do Democrats at Dartmouth.

In a word, the Dartmouth survey confirms what many of us have long known while radically undercutting the left’s narrative concerning conservatives and Republicans as agents of intolerance.