Welcome back to the Silliest Take of the Week, my weekly roundup of some of the silliest things people have said on the Internet!
Now let’s get right down to business!
I Got Nothing
Stefan Molyneux, A Tweet, Twitter, 8/5/2019
Stefan Molyneux is one of those Rightwing Internet Dipshits, and it’s probably generally better to ignore his ilk. See also Cernovich, Michael; Kelly, Jesse; Jones, Alex; Yiannopoulos, Milo; Roosh V. So I generally try not to bring these guys up too much in things like the Silliest Take of the Week Project, because their entire business model is built around generating Silly and/or Hateful Takes. Sometimes, though, one of them says something which is so profoundly confused about the world and how it works, so utterly baffling, that I have little choice. Here is such a moment, presented otherwise without comment, because I don’t think there’s anything I could possible say to make the Silliness of this Take any more evident:
It is Somehow Bernie Sanders’s Fault
Noah Berlatsky, Several Tweets, Twitter, 8/7/2019
In April of 2019, Bernie Sanders appeared in a Fox News Town Hall. On August 6, 2019, Senator Sanders also went on the Joe Rogan Experience, a podcast that people have complicated feelings about, but which is generally understood to at least be open to right-wing opinions (Joe Rogan has interviewed a few of the Rightwing Internet Dipshits I mentioned above, for instance). On August 6, 2019, a man in Dayton, Ohio, whose social media suggests a fondness for left-wing politics, shot several people outside a bar. (Last I checked there was no evidence that the shooting was politically motivated (e.g., he didn’t write a manifesto the way the guy in El Paso did), but it’s certainly true that he followed a lot of left-wing groups and thinkers, and posted from that angle on his social media.)
If you can’t see a connection between Bernie Sanders appearing on rightwing media outlets and a mass shooter, then I don’t know what to tell you, man. It’s a good thing you’re not a Writer of Takes! Your family would starve.
For Noah Berlatsky, who is a freelance Writer of Takes who has already appeared once on STOW, the connection is clear:
There’s an eternal debate in electoral politics about whether a candidate should focus on appealing to the “base,” or should try to appeal to a broader portion of the population. Sanders’s appearance on these platforms could be analyzed in the context of that debate, and it feels like there could be a meaningful discussion there. Maybe there’s something to be said about why a candidate shouldn’t appear on a platform unless he’s willing to acknowledge that that platform has legitimate ideas. I don’t honestly know, and the Silliest Take of the Week is agnostic as to election strategy.
But I really love the idea that this leftist mass shooter, who had “toxic misogynist ideas,” must necessarily have gotten them because Bernie Sanders went on Fox News. But Berlatsky’s probably right: I mean, toxic misogyny is so rare on the Internet and in popular culture! How else could this man possibly have encountered these ideas?
Also, I love that Berlatsky’s Take is that Sanders should be “accountable to the people,” but that the best way to do that is to ignore massive swaths of said people by refusing to engage with popular media.
The Silliest Take of the Week: 8/4/2019-8/10/2019
Marc A. Thiessen, “There were no ‘safe spaces’ or ‘trigger warnings’ for young people fighting in the Warsaw Uprising,” The Washington Post, 8/8/2019
Marc Thiessen went to Warsaw with his mother to join the commemoration of the Warsaw Uprising, which began 75 years ago, and in which his mother fought. During the uprising, the Polish resistance, exhibiting tremendous courage, took Warsaw back from the Nazis and fought them for 63 days, with little Allied support. Ultimately, the Nazis crushed the resistance, executed a vast number of civilians, and razed the city to the ground.
Thiessen describes the commemoration thus:
“It was remarkable to watch how young Poles embraced the nonagenarian insurgents. More than 10,000 scouts and volunteers stepped forward to help with the commemorations — pushing the aged partisans in their wheelchairs, bringing them cups of water and soaking in their stories. On Aug. 1, at exactly 5 p.m. — the ‘W’ hour, when the uprising began — the entire city came to a halt. As air raid sirens wailed, people poured onto the streets, setting off flares and car alarms, honking their horns — and chanting in unison, ‘Heroes, we will not forget you.'”
After seeing this inspiring sight, Thiessen could have written about the heroism of the Polish Home Army, or about the failure of the nearby Red Army to support the Uprising, or about the horrors of World War II in general. Instead, he wrote about why Millennials whine too much:
“American millennials have a lot of complaints about their lot in life. So here’s a question for them: When is the last time you had to walk through a sewer waist-high in human filth, choking on the toxic ammonia, yet unable to cough for fear of alerting the Nazi SS soldiers on the street above — knowing that if you did, they would open a manhole cover and toss in grenades or poison gas to kill you?
Here in Warsaw 75 years ago, teenagers did exactly that.”
Here’s a question for you, Marc: when was the last time you had to walk through a toxic sewer under Nazi fire? Is it never? I think maybe it’s never.
“In our colleges and universities, first millennials and now their Generation Z successors have demanded ’emotional safety,’ insisting on ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’ to protect them from ideas they don’t like, because they tell us that ‘words are violence.’ No, they are not. Violence is SS officers using flamethrowers to clear buildings. Violence is defenseless civilians being put in front of Nazi Panzers as human shields. During the Warsaw Uprising there were no ‘safe spaces’ — battles were literally fought house to house, room to room. There were no ‘trigger warnings’ — only Germans pulling their triggers as they executed civilians and prisoners of war lined up on street corners.”
There’s a term in Evangelical blogging circles called the “Jesus Juke,” which is when, during some anodyne conversation, a person manages to somehow bring up Jesus or faith in such a way as to showcase that person’s superior holiness. As an example: suppose you complained about breaking your arm, and then I responded with “yes, but imagine how much worse was the suffering of Christ on Golgotha.” I submit that there is a similar tactic amongst Writers of Takes with regard to World War II. Not sure what else to do? Just point out that somebody who is complaining about something isn’t literally dying in a concentration camp or storming the beach at Normandy! It’s inarguably true, and gets to make you feel smug, even though, if I might paraphrase one of the great philosophers of our age: “What the fuck does anything have to do with World War II?”
Listen, I won’t say “nobody would ever say that modern college students have it as bad as did teenagers in Warsaw in 1944,” because there is no idea so ridiculous that a college student somewhere won’t espouse it with a straight face. (This is also true of Writers of Takes). I know I sure said a lot of silly things in college. But I don’t really think very many people would argue with Thiessen that the Warsaw Uprising was harder to live through than a course at Yale. I think the vast majority of college students would agree that it was harder to be a Polish teenager in 1944 than it is to be an American teenager in 2019. So who, exactly, is Thiessen yelling at?
Just nameless “millennials,” and “now their Generation Z successors.” Does he quote anybody asking for “safe spaces” or saying that “words are violence?” No, though that doesn’t prevent him from putting those phrases in quotation marks. The millennials he is chastising are a nameless, faceless mass, a sort of lazy, entitled shoggoth that he can’t bear to look at directly, and must reference only in the most oblique of terms. They haunt his nightmares, eating avocado toast and refusing to buy houses. They plague him even when he’s with his family, complaining about Shakespeare and changing up their pronouns. All he knows about them for sure is that they don’t know enough about World War II.
That’s it for the Silliest Take of the Week, folks! Don’t forget to send me links to the Silliest Takes you find over at sillytakes [at] gmail [dot] com, and I’ll see you here next week!