Thursday, July 31, 2014

Advice to Israelis: Endure the Slander

By Cliff May
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hamas wants to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. It’s been doing all it can to achieve that objective, for example launching missiles at Israel’s international airport and constructing tunnels to infiltrate terrorists into Israeli communities for the purpose of slaughtering and hostage-taking.

Israelis want to kill as few Palestinian civilians as possible. They’ve been doing all they can to achieve that – no nation under attack has ever done more. For example, they warn noncombatants of impending strikes on military targets by phoning, texting, leafleting and even dropping dummy bombs.

Palestinian civilians are being killed anyway, in large measure because Hamas has placed command posts, missile repositories and tunnel entrances in mosques, schools and hospitals. What’s more, Hamas commanders continue to use Palestinian men, women and children as human shields or, as they prefer, “martyrs.”

Surprise: The U.N., much of the media, many so-called human rights groups and large swaths public opinion, most of it on the left, condemn Israel and condone Hamas.

It’s worth pondering the origins of such perverse attitudes, and I’ll attempt to do so in a moment. But more urgent is to consider what Israelis can do about it. My answer: Very little.

If that pessimistic – or realistic – view is correct, it has policy implications. It suggests Israelis should (1) defend themselves as best they can, while degrading their enemies’ martial capabilities (in particular the missiles and tunnels) as much as possible; (2) continue scrupulously observing the laws of war despite the fact that they their enemies do not, and despite the fact that they will receive no credit for such efforts, because (3) they will know the truth about themselves and that will fortify them against the slanderers; (4) steadfastly reject proposals that would let Hamas achieve “wins” as a result of having initiated this conflict; and (5) try to drive home to Palestinians the fact that Hamas has brought them no benefits in exchange for the sacrifices it has demanded and the suffering it has inflicted.

One more recommendation: Once the current Battle of Gaza is over, Israeli officials would be well-advised to reiterate to Palestinians that if they would adopt a policy of non-belligerence (“peace” is a bridge too far) vis-à-vis Israel they would enjoy increased security, prosperity and self-rule, a foundation upon which further progress might be built.

It would be helpful if key actors within the “international community” would stop encouraging Hamas to commit war crimes. One egregious example: the UN Human Rights Council last week voted on a resolution titled “Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

What does the resolution say about Hamas’ firing missiles at passenger planes taking off and landing -- attempting to do what was done recently done over the skies of Ukraine? Not a word.

What does it say about the tunnels from which Hamas assault teams planned to emerge armed with explosives, tranquilizers and handcuffs, on a mission to murder Jews and drag others beneath the earth? Nothing.

What does it say about Hamas? The resolution does not mention Hamas.

And note that the resolution calls Gaza “occupied” despite the fact that the Israelis withdrew from that territory in 2005. As for Israel’s blockade of Gaza, that was not put into place until 2007 -- after Hamas’ violent ouster of rival Fatah from Gaza, and in response to Hamas’ continuing threats and attacks. And it’s a military blockade: Food, medicines and fuel are allowed in – even now. But Israelis have tried, not entirely successfully, to prevent the importation of missiles and other weapons. That’s it: That’s the “occupation.”

Not one Western European member of the Human Rights Council voted against this distortion of legality, morality and reality. The most they could manage was to abstain.

Only the United States – kudos to President Obama and UN Ambassador Samantha Power -- had the integrity to oppose a resolution sanctioning a democracy for defending itself and supporting an organization whose Charter calls for genocide and proclaims “death for the sake of Allah …the loftiest of wishes.” (But because the resolution passed, there will now be a multimillion dollar “investigation” – funded largely by American taxpayers.)

Finally, a word about the factors fueling anti-Israelism: Among them, indisputably, is the world’s most durable prejudice: anti-Semitism, more precisely Jew-hatred, or to use a modern construction, Judeophobia. Bias and animosity against people of color, gays and Muslims is beyond the pale in polite society. Against Jews -- not so much.

In recent days, demonstrators in a list of Western cities have targeted not just Israeli embassies but synagogues -- seven in Paris alone – as well as shops and other properties owned by Jews. In Boston, there were shouts of “Jews back to Birkenau,” and “Drop dead, you Zionazi whores.”

Imagine the outrage if French Jews, in response to a terrorist attack against Israelis, were to storm a mosque in Paris, or if Italian Catholics, in response to the Islamic State’s persecution of Iraqi Christians, threw stones at Islamic worshippers in Rome.

“The world is a mess,” former secretary of state Madeleine Albright mused last weekend. Among the primary reasons: Bellicose, supremacist, jihadist ideologies, movements and regimes have arisen from within the decreasingly diverse Muslim world. Hamas is such a regime, participates in such a movement, and subscribes to such an ideology – its Charter is explicit in this regard as well.

Western nations cannot make peace with jihadists. They can attempt to appease them but doing so only serves to reinforce the impression that they are weak horses. Israelis have few options -- none of them appealing. Some, however, are worse than others, as I suspect most Israelis don’t need me to tell them.

How Many Children Will Die in Gaza?

By Kevin D. Williamson
Thursday, July 31, 2014

There is not much that is simple about the Arab–Israeli conflict, but there is one thing that is certain: The question of how many Palestinian women and children are going to die in Gaza is not going to be decided by the Israelis — it is going to be decided by Hamas.

The Jews mean to live, Hamas means to exterminate them, and there will be war until Hamas and its allies either weary of it or win it and the last Israeli Jew is dead or exiled. It is Hamas, not the Israelis, that stashes rockets and soldiers in schools and hospitals, but it is the Israelis the world expects to take account of that situation. Every creature on this Earth, from ant to gazelle, is entitled to — expected to — defend its life to the last: The Israeli Jews, practically alone among the world’s living things, are expected to make allowances for the well-being of those who are trying to exterminate them. No one lectures the antelope on restraint when the jackals come, but the Jews in the Jewish state are in the world’s judgment not entitled to what is granted every fish and insect as a matter of course.

That is one bit of strangeness, but there are a great many strange little assumptions that worm their way into our language, and our thought, when it comes to the Arab–Israeli conflict. Once a week or so, somebody will publicize a chart purporting to show the shrinkage of “Arab land” in what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories — as though Arabs did not hail from Arabia, as though they popped up out of the ground around Jerusalem like crocus blossoms. As though those Arab lands hadn’t been Turkish lands, Roman lands, Macedonian lands, Jewish lands.

As though this situation just dropped out of the sky.

Israel, as a Jewish state, is a relatively new country, having been established in 1948. But the idea of Palestine as a particular polity, much less an Arab polity, is a relatively new one, too, only 28 years older. Until the day before yesterday, the word “Palestinian” referred to Jews living in their ancestral homeland. During Roman rule, Palestine was considered a part of Syria: The prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, was subordinate to the legate of Syria, Palestine being a not especially notable outpost. (It is perhaps for this reason that no physical evidence of Pilate’s existence was unearthed until 1961.) That situation obtained for centuries; as late as the 19th century, the idea of an Arab Palestine distinct from Syria was a novel one, and one expressed in Ottoman administrative practice rather than in anything resembling a state as the term is understood. The notion of a Palestinian Arab nation dates to only a few decades before the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

The notion dates to 1920; the Palestinian Arab state as a reality never existed. The incompatible concepts of statehood obtaining in the West and in the Arab world until quite recently are in some ways the root of the dispute, as indeed they were with the early Americans’ relationships with the Indian tribes and various colonial powers’ experience in Africa. But somehow, in the modern mind, the idea that Israel sits upon what is, was, and shall always be “Arab land” is fixed.

The story of humankind is that peoples move around and bump into each other, and the results are often unpleasant. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and, after some period of time, whatever temporary situation endures comes to be considered normal. No one complains that the Celts occupied Ireland and subsumed the identities preceding them. The British came to control Palestine through war, true — and Saladin, what was he? An olive trader?

Israel’s critics often charge its defenders with intentionally conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. One wonders, though, what kind of analysis holds that the Israelis are uniquely responsible for the fate of those whom Hamas is using as human shields, while Hamas cannot be held to the same standard. The answer is: an analysis predicated on the unspoken belief that the Jewish people in the Jewish state are under a unique obligation to lie down and die.

But they do not appear ready to lie down and die. And so one thing is certain: The question of how many Palestinian women and children are going to die in Gaza is not going to be decided by the Israelis — it is going to be decided by Hamas.

Administration's Bias Against Israel Obvious

By Matt Towery
Thursday, July 31, 2014

With every word spoken and every roll of his eyes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes it clear that the Obama administration is no fan of Israel. So why is it that media will not call the White House on this major shift in American foreign policy?

The most convincing evidence was Kerry's hot-mic comment about the accuracy of Israel's "pinpoint" missile launches, which have been an effort to deter Hamas from its never-ending attacks on Israel, including its civilians. Since then his disdain for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been more camouflaged, but evident nonetheless.

Perhaps Kerry and President Obama would see things differently if a neighboring nation to the U.S. took the trouble to dig tunnels that opened up in American territory, allowing terrorists to attack the country from the inside. That is exactly what is happening in Israel. It's a nation that has long been under siege. And until recently, it has always been able to count on strong support from the U.S. government.

There is no other side to this story. It's true that Israeli rockets have sometimes missed intended targets here and there, leading to the tragic deaths of innocents. This sad inevitability has been a recurrent theme in this decades-old conflict. What apparently has changed is U.S. support for this important traditional ally in a dangerous region.

One could say that many American supporters of Israel are reaping what they've sown. Opinion polls show over and again that most Jewish Americans support Democratic candidates for the presidency and other offices, just as they have largely supported Obama. That, of course, is their right. It may be that there are other, overriding issues that they consider more important than Israel. But if a safe and strong Israel is high on their list of priorities, these voters now have a stark choice to make.

Of course we can't be too shocked with the reaction of the White House to Hamas' tunneling past the borders of Israel. The Obama administration has, in effect, opened U.S. borders to "refugees." These illegal immigrants have their own compelling stories, but their wholesale entry into this country appears to be well beyond anything contemplated under U.S. law.

Take Israel's thumbing its nose at Secretary Kerry, and throw in Russian President Putin's rogue defiance of international norms in his country's interference in Ukraine, and what is emerging is that the Obama administration has less and less respect from other nations, and little regard for our own laws.

The intent of some Republicans to pursue impeachment of President Obama is likely well-intended, but somewhat misguided. With more than two years left in Obama's presidency, an impeachment effort would trigger the same circus, and the same whipsawing of public opinion, that we witnessed in the Clinton years.

Instead Republicans should be taking their case to the American people; and in the case of Israel, the GOP should ask loyal Democratic voters if they should question that loyalty, given developments in American foreign policy. This would not be a matter of playing politics with policy, but, to the contrary, a way of influencing important policy through politics.

It's clear this administration treats Israel as a lesser equal among nation states. Were this any other nation's territory, the digging of tunnels by terrorists would meet with resolute opposition by the U.S.

Perhaps if the American people continue to put in power leaders who seem unsympathetic to the plight of Israel, then those leaders should simply have the guts to say the longstanding alliance between America and Israel is over.

If that should become the case -- diminishing what has been a true friend on the international stage to the status of an irritant -- it would be one of the gravest mistakes this nation has ever made.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Legalization by Edict

By Yuval Levin
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Many people in Washington seem to be talking about the prospect of the president unilaterally legalizing the status of several million people who entered the country illegally as though it were just another political question. But if reports about the nature of the executive action he is contemplating are right, it would be by far the most blatant and explosive provocation in the administration’s assault on the separation of powers, and could well be the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American president in peacetime.

I am more open to some form of amnesty than most people around here, I suspect, though the form I could support (as part of a deal that included more serious border control and visa enforcement) would involve legalization short of full citizenship, for reasons well articulated by Peter Skerry here. But the question of how to address the complicated problem of the status of the more than 10 million people who are in our country without legal authorization is a matter for the political system as a whole to address. That system has made several serious efforts to do so in recent years, so far without success. The most recent such effort (which resulted in a bad bill, in my view) took place while President Obama has been in the White House. He knows that as things now stand in Congress the question is not about to be resolved, and that the 2014 election is not likely to lead to its being resolved in the way he would prefer. Presumably this disappoints him. But the notion that the president can respond to a failure to get Congress to adopt his preferred course on a prominent and divisive public issue by just acting on his own as if a law he desires had been enacted has basically nothing to do with our system of government.

In one sense, the approach the president is said to be contemplating does fit into a pattern of his use of executive power. That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive. That’s how moving to compel nuns to buy contraception and abortive drugs for their employees became “they’re trying to take away your birth control.” This strategy needlessly divides the country and brings out the worst instincts of people on all sides, but it has obvious benefits for the administration and its allies. Liberals get both the substantive action and the political benefit of calling their opponents radicals and getting their supporters worked up. Obama’s legalization of millions would surely draw a response that could then be depicted as evidence of Republican hostility to immigrants, rather than of Republican hostility to illegal executive overreach that tries to make highly significant policy changes outside the bounds of our constitutional order.

But while the legalization now being talked about fits into that pattern in a sense, the sheer scope of its overreach would put it in a different category as a practical matter. That overreach is not mitigated but exacerbated by the fact that the president apparently intends to be selective: We are told he may offer effective legal amnesty to about half of the 11 or so million people who are here illegally. Which half? And why not the other? The president apparently intends to answer these questions based on criteria of his choosing, with no clear foundation in any particular statutory authorization or provision of law.

President Obama has long treated Congress with contempt, and has on many occasions taken executive actions that have bent or broken the limits of the executive’s discretion in our system. Perhaps above all, he has enforced Obamacare selectively — ignoring some clear requirements of law and conjuring up others that do not exist. These have been serious violations of his obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed, and have caused serious problems for our system of government. They will leave the next president with a lot of damage to undo. But what the administration appears to be contemplating here is of a different scale and character. It is not selective enforcement of a new statute but rather just an action outside the law, in an arena in which the president himself has said unilateral action is beyond his authority and in which there is no case for extreme urgency.

White House officials clearly understand that such a move would invite a firestorm of opposition and criticism, and they appear to see that as an advantage. Maybe they’re right that such a step and its aftermath would work to their political benefit, and maybe they’re not. But surely it would all harm the country — dividing the public and debasing our system of government. It seems like just the sort of thing that a national leader would seek to avoid, rather than work to invite. Let’s hope the reports aren’t true.

Smarter than Thou

By Charles C. W. Cooke
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Note: The following piece is adapted from an article that appeared in the July 21, 2014, issue of National Review.

‘My great fear,” Neil deGrasse Tyson told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in early June, “is that we’ve in fact been visited by intelligent aliens but they chose not to make contact, on the conclusion that there’s no sign of intelligent life on Earth.” In response to this rather standard little saw, Hayes laughed as if he had been trying marijuana for the first time.

All told, one suspects that Tyson was not including either himself or a fellow traveler such as Hayes as inhabitants of Earth, but was instead referring to everybody who is not in their coterie. That, alas, is his way. An astrophysicist and evangelist for science, Tyson currently plays three roles in our society: He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the New York Science Museum; the presenter of the hip new show Cosmos; and, most important of all perhaps — albeit through no distinct fault of his own — he is the fetish and totem of the extraordinarily puffed-up “nerd” culture that has of late started to bloom across the United States.

One part insecure hipsterism, one part unwarranted condescension, the two defining characteristics of self-professed nerds are (a) the belief that one can discover all of the secrets of human experience through differential equations and (b) the unlovely tendency to presume themselves to be smarter than everybody else in the world. Prominent examples include MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Steve Kornacki, and Chris Hayes; Vox’s Ezra Klein, Dylan Matthews, and Matt Yglesias; the sabermetrician Nate Silver; the economist Paul Krugman; the atheist Richard Dawkins; former vice president Al Gore; celebrity scientist Bill Nye; and, really, anybody who conforms to the Left’s social and moral precepts while wearing glasses and babbling about statistics.

The pose is, of course, little more than a ruse — our professional “nerds” being, like Mrs. Doubtfire, stereotypical facsimiles of the real thing. They have the patois but not the passion; the clothes but not the style; the posture but not the imprimatur. Theirs is the nerd-dom of Star Wars, not Star Trek; of Mario Kart and not World of Warcraft; of the latest X-Men movie rather than the comics themselves. A sketch from the TV show Portlandia, mocked up as a public-service announcement, makes this point brutally. After a gorgeous young woman explains at a bar that she doesn’t think her job as a model is “her thing” and instead identifies as “a nerd” who is “into video games and comic books and stuff,” a dorky-looking man gets up and confesses that he is, in fact, a “real” nerd — someone who wears glasses “to see,” who is “shy,” and who “isn’t wearing a nerd costume for Halloween” but is dressed how he lives. “I get sick with fear talking to people,” he says. “It sucks.”

A quick search of the Web reveals that Portlandia’s writers are not the only people to have noticed the trend. “Science and ‘geeky’ subjects,” the pop-culture writer Maddox observes, “are perceived as being hip, cool and intellectual.” And so people who are, or wish to be, hip, cool, and intellectual “glom onto these labels and call themselves ‘geeks’ or ‘nerds’ every chance they get.”

Which is to say that the nerds of MSNBC and beyond are not actually nerds — with scientific training and all that it entails — but the popular kids indulging in a fad. To a person, they are attractive, accomplished, well paid, and loved, listened to, and cited by a good portion of the general public. Most of them spend their time on television speaking fluently, debating with passion, and hanging out with celebrities. They attend dinner parties and glitzy social events, and are photographed and put into the glossy magazines. They are flown first class to university commencement speeches and late-night shows and book launches. There they pay lip service to the notion that they are not wildly privileged, and then go back to their hotels to drink $16 cocktails with Bill Maher.

In this manner has a word with a formerly useful meaning been turned into a transparent humblebrag: Look at me, I’m smart. Or, more important, perhaps, Look at me and let me tell you who I am not, which is southern, politically conservative, culturally traditional, religious in some sense, patriotic, driven by principle rather than the pivot tables of Microsoft Excel, and in any way attached to the past. “Nerd” has become a calling a card — a means of conveying membership of one group and denying affiliation with another. The movement’s king, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has formal scientific training, certainly, as do the handful of others who have become celebrated by the crowd. He is a smart man who has done some important work in popularizing science. But this is not why he is useful. Instead, he is useful because he can be deployed as a cudgel and an emblem in political argument — pointed to as the sort of person who wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

“Ignorance,” a popular Tyson meme holds, “is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason. For the sake of humanity, we must be that cure.” This rather unspecific message is a call to arms, aimed at those who believe wholeheartedly they are included in the elect “we.” Thus do we see unexceptional liberal-arts students lecturing other people about things they don’t understand themselves and terming the dissenters “flat-earthers.” Thus do we see people who have never in their lives read a single academic paper clinging to the mantle of “science” as might Albert Einstein. Thus do we see residents of Brooklyn who are unable to tell you at what temperature water boils rolling their eyes at Bjørn Lomborg or Roger Pielke Jr. because he disagrees with Harry Reid on climate change. Really, the only thing in these people’s lives that is peer-reviewed are their opinions. Don’t have a Reddit account? Believe in God? Skeptical about the threat of overpopulation? Who are you, Sarah Palin?

First and foremost, then, “nerd” has become a political designation. It is no accident that the president has felt it necessary to inject himself into the game: That’s where the cool kids are. Answering a question about Obama’s cameo on Cosmos, Tyson was laconic. “That was their choice,” he told Grantland. “We didn’t ask them. We didn’t have anything to say about it. They asked us, ‘Do you mind if we intro your show?’ Can’t say no to the president. So he did.”

One wonders how easy it would have proved to say “No” to the president if he had been, say, Scott Walker. Either way, though, that Obama wished to associate himself with the project is instructive. He was launched into the limelight by precisely the sort of people who have DVR’d every episode of Cosmos and who, like the editors of Salon, see it primarily as a means by which they might tweak their ideological enemies; who, as apparently does Sean McElwee, see the world in terms of “Neil deGrasse Tyson vs. the Right (Cosmos, Christians, and the Battle for American Science)”; and who, like the folks at Vice, advise us all: “Don’t Get Neil deGrasse Tyson Started About the Un-Science-y Politicians Who Are Killing America’s Dreams.”

Obama knows this. Look back to his earlier backers and you will see a pattern. These are the people who insisted until they were blue in the face that George W. Bush was a “theocrat” eternally hostile toward “evidence,” and that, despite all information to the contrary, Attorney General Ashcroft had covered up the Spirit of Justice statue at the Department of Justice because he was a prude. These are the people who will explain to other human beings without any irony that they are part of the “reality-based community,” and who want you to know how aw-shucks excited they are to look through the new jobs numbers.

At no time is the juxtaposition between the claim and the reality more clear than during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which ritzy and opulent celebration of wealth, influence, and power the nation’s smarter progressive class has taken to labeling the “Nerd Prom.” It is clear why people who believe themselves to be providing a voice for the powerless and who routinely lecture the rest of us about the evils of income inequality would wish to reduce in stature a party that would have made Trimalchio blush: It is devastating to their image. Just as Hillary Clinton has noticed of late that her extraordinary wealth and ostentatious lifestyle conflict with her populist mien, the New Class recognizes the danger that its private behavior poses to its public credibility. There is, naturally, something a little off about selected members of the Fifth Estate yukking it up with those whom they have been charged with scrutinizing — all while rappers and movie stars enjoy castles of champagne and show off their million-dollar dresses. And so the optics must be addressed and the nomenclature of an uncelebrated group cynically appropriated. We’re not the ruling class, the message goes. We’re just geeks. We’re not the powerful; we’re the outcasts. This isn’t a big old shindig; it’s science. Look, Neil deGrasse Tyson is standing in the Roosevelt Room!

* * *

Ironically enough, what Tyson and his acolytes have ended up doing is blurring the lines between politics, scholarship, and culture — thereby damaging all three. Tyson himself has expressed bemusement that “entertainment reporters” have been so interested in him. “What does it mean,” he asked, “that Seth MacFarlane, who’s best known for his fart jokes — what does it mean that he’s executive producing” Cosmos? Well, what it means is that, professionally, Tyson has hit the jackpot. Actual science is slow, unsexy, and assiduously neutral — and it carries about it almost nothing that would interest either the hipsters of Ann Arbor or the Kardashian-soaked titillaters over at E!

Politics pretending to be science, on the other hand, is current, and it is chic.

It’s useful, too. For all of the hype, much of the fadlike fetishization of “Big Data” is merely the latest repackaging of old and tired progressive ideas about who in our society should enjoy the most political power. Outside of our laboratories, “it’s just science!” is typically a dodge — a bullying tactic designed to hide a crushingly boring orthodox progressivism behind the veil of dispassionate empiricism and to pretend that Hayek’s observation that even the smartest of central planners can never have the information they would need to centrally plan was obviated by the invention of the computer. If politics should be determined by pragmatism, and the pragmatists are all on the left . . . well, you do the math.

All over the Internet, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s face is presented next to words that he may or may not have spoken. “Other than being a scientist,” he says in one image, “I’m not any other kind of -ist. These -ists and -isms are philosophies; they’re philosophical portfolios that people attach themselves to and then the philosophy does the thinking for you instead of you doing the thinking yourself.” Translation: All of my political and moral judgments are original, unlike those of the rubes who subscribe to ideologies, philosophies, and religious frameworks. My worldview is driven only by the data.

This is nonsense. Progressives not only believe all sorts of unscientific things — that Medicaid, the VA, and Head Start work; that school choice does not; that abortion carries with it few important medical questions; that GM crops make the world worse; that one can attribute every hurricane, wildfire, and heat wave to “climate change”; that it’s feasible that renewable energy will take over from fossil fuels anytime soon — but also do their level best to block investigation into any area that they consider too delicate. You’ll note that the typical objections to the likes of Charles Murray and Paul McHugh aren’t scientific at all, but amount to asking lamely why anybody would say something so mean.

Still, even were they paragons of inquiry, the instinct would remain insidious. The scientific process is an incredible thing, but it provides us with information rather than with ready-made political or moral judgments. Anyone who privileges one value over another (liberty over security, property rights over redistribution) is by definition indulging an “-ism.” Anyone who believes that the Declaration of Independence contains “self-evident truths” is signing on to an “ideology.” Anyone who goes to bat for any form of legal or material equality is expressing the end results of a philosophy.

Perhaps the greatest trick the Left ever managed to play was to successfully sell the ancient and ubiquitous ideas of collectivism, lightly checked political power, and a permanent technocratic class as being “new,” and the radical notions of individual liberty, limited government, and distributed power as being “reactionary.” A century ago, Woodrow Wilson complained that the checks and balances instituted by the Founders were outdated because they had been contrived before the telephone was invented. Now, we are to be liberated by the microchip and the Large Hadron Collider, and we are to have our progress assured by ostensibly disinterested analysts. I would recommend that we not fall for it. Our technology may be sparkling and our scientists may be the best in the world, but our politics are as they ever were. Marie Antoinette is no more welcome in America if she dresses up in a Battlestar Galactica uniform and self-deprecatingly joins Tumblr. Sorry, America. Science is important. But these are not the nerds you’re looking for.