Gunfire. Not far off either. Machine-gun shots rattling in the hills around us.
“I’m guessing that’s some land reform going on right now,” said Palmer.If We Survive, YA novel by Andrew Klavan, p. 51
In the video at the bottom, skip all the initial stuff which you may find to be a rant. He starts talking about Imagine at 37:30. He reads the existing verses, then makes up two of his own. Or, you can just read my transcription below.
“Imagine only good stuff happening
And really good stuff, too
No bad stuff, no sad stuff,
And no mad stuff too.
Imagine everyone’s happy
And they are being real nice
No one’s being super mean
And there are no fights.
“That’s just something from my heart. That’s where my heart is right now. You know, listening to this song, he covered a lot of stuff that we shouldn’t have like greed and hunger, but I’m thinkin’ … all the bad stuff. You know?”
- It’s short (189 pages, not counting index and endnotes). You can read it in a weekend.
- The author is a black man, educated at Harvard, Columbia and University of Chicago, and was a Marxist in his 20s but is no more. In the video below, you can see him give some of his story.
- Endnotes! There are gobs of endnotes citing books, Supreme Court cases, and other sources. Besides backing up the book’s claims, these are a useful source for further reading. Sowell cites his own works a lot, but we can hardly blame him considering how prolific of a writer he’s been. I now fully intend to read through his entire corpus of work.
- Amazingly quotable. I thought about posting quotes from this book this week, but was afraid I would get to posting long sections and then just the entire book. Below, I will include a quote from each of the book’s four parts … but this is minimal, as each section has many passages that are equally weighty, clever, and succinct.
- Happy Fourth of July! One of the heroes of this book is the American constitutional system: mistrust of all authority; limited government; and the rule of law, not of people. You probably can’t order Quest in time to read it on the 4th, but always remember that you heard about it in time for that holiday.
Quotations from The Quest for Cosmic Justice
From Part I, “The Quest for Cosmic Justice”:
Since “undeserved inequalities” extend beyond prejudicial decisions made by others to encompass biological differences among individuals and groups — the fact that women are usually not as large or physically strong as men, for example — and profound differences in the geographical settings in which whole races and nations have evolved culturally, not to mention individual and group differences in child-rearing practices and moral values, cosmic justice requires — or assumes — vastly more knowledge than is necessary for traditional justice. …
With justice, as with equality, the question is not whether more is better, but whether it is better at all costs. We need to consider what those who believe in the vision of cosmic justice seldom want to consider — the nature of those costs and how they change the very nature of justice itself.Quest, p. 13, 27
From Part II, “The Mirage of Equality”:
The difficulties of satisfying envy … increase exponentially when there is no unambiguous way to say that A is better off than B in whatever dimension each values. Many parents, for example, are familiar with the situation in which each child thinks that a sibling is being treated better by the parents and therefore each has envy and resentment of the other or others. Nor can an objective third party, if one could be found, necessarily be able to declare which person has the net advantage when one is more fortunate according to one array of characteristics and possessions and the other is more fortunate according to another array of characteristics and possessions. Moreover, even in cases in which a third party regards A as clearly better off than B, it does not follow that either A or B will value and weigh the particular advantages and disadvantages the same way as this third party, much less the same as each other.Quest, p. 91
From Part III, “The Tyranny of Visions”:
On issue after issue, the morally self-anointed visionaries have for centuries argued as if no honest disagreement were possible, as if those who opposed them were not merely in error but in sin. This has long been a hallmark of those with a cosmic vision of the world and of themselves as saviors of the world, whether they are saving it from war, overpopulation, capitalism, genetic degradation, environmental destruction, or whatever the crisis du jour might be. Given this exalted vision of their role by the anointed visionaries, those who disagree with them must be correspondingly degraded or demonized.Quest, p. 103
From Part IV, “The Quiet Repeal of the American Revolution”:
There is no way to specify in precise general rules, known beforehand, what might be necessary [for employers] to achieve results that would meet the standards of cosmic justice. In short, there can be no rule of law for such things and courts seeking cosmic justice can no longer strike down such laws as “void for vagueness.” These edicts do not happen to be vague, they are necessarily vague. They could not be otherwise. … For purposes of cosmic justice, discrimination must be defined by retrospective results, whether “disparate impact” or “hostile environments” or failure to provide “reasonable accommodation.” This is only one of many ways in which the quest for cosmic justice is incompatible with the rule of law.Quest, pp. 159 – 160
Happy Birthday, Prof. Sowell!
P.S. Serendipitously, after I had already written and scheduled this post, I found out that this week is Prof. Sowell’s 90th birthday! I am beyond happy that he has had such a long and prolific career. Click here for an econ blog’s birthday post about him which summarizes his thinking and makes some suggestions about how we can apply his principles of “traditional justice” (as opposed to cosmic justice) to reduce bad outcomes for black Americans.
“What I know about Mendoza,” Palmer said slowly after a while, “is that he’s a petty gangster who enjoys pushing people around. I’ve already told you what I think of Cobar: a psycho killer.”
“But in his book –“
“I know,” Palmer said, lifting a hand. “But a killer who writes a book is still a killer — even if it’s a book about peace and justice. A thug with a lot of high-blown political ideas is still just a thug in the end.”
“But he’s at war with a brutal government …”
“Gangsters get in wars with each other all the time,” said Palmer. “That doesn’t make one side good and the other bad. And it doesn’t mean I have to care which bunch of bullies and thugs wins the day. You think the people in this village will be any better off when it’s Cobar’s government murdering them instead of the government they had before? The only one who’ll feel better about it is you, because you’ll think it’s all for some higher cause — fairness or justice or whatever they’re calling it nowadays. Whatever they do call it, it always translates to the same thing in the end: obey the man with the gun or he’ll kill you. The truth is, Professor, there’s only one higher cause I know of. That’s the right of every man to go his own way and spend his own money and speak his own mind and find his own salvation. You show me the side that stands for that and I’ll fight for them.”If We Survive, YA book by Andrew Klavan, pp. 218 – 219
“Colored People,” the classic song by D.C. Talk.
This is my second post about non-stereotypical hair. See my first one here.
If I were to ask you to draw an Ancient Egyptian, you would probably draw someone with gold, reddish, or dark skin, long dark eyes, and black hair. Red hair would probably not appear in your drawing. However, there has been a red-haired strain in Egyptian genetics apparently from time immemorial.
Ramses II, 90 years old when he died, was tall, thin, and by the time of his death he was stooped and had a tooth abscess. He also had red-gold hair. “Specialists who examined the strands under a microscope found that it had been dyed with henna and in all likelihood had been auburn in Ramses’ youth” (Time-Life, p. 153). Tall, thin, red-haired and hook-nosed, Ramses II does not match my mental picture of a typical Egyptian.
But he is not the only one. A number of red-haired Egyptian mummies have been found. Archaeologists used to assume that the hair was once dark and had been bleached out by the embalming process. But a recent study treated hair samples with the natron salts similar to those the Egyptians used, and found that the process did not change the color of the hair. Apparently these were actually redheads.
When I was taught Egyptian mythology in school, I was told that Seth, the villain of the story of Isis and Osiris, was red-haired. He was also Osiris’ brother. I found this intriguing, and it reminded me of the Semitic story of Jacob and Esau, who were twins one of whom was a dark-haired (?), “smooth” man, and one of whom was “hairy” and “red.”
Now I find out that Seth, as his legend later developed, was a trickster god, usually portrayed as a composite of different animals, with red hair or fur. Also, red was a symbolic color that could represent vitality or anger (no surprise there). So it’s possible that Seth was an entirely invented character and that his unusual hair color was picked to match his personality and symbolism. But, since this is an ancient origin myth, I can’t shake the possibility that there once was actually a founding pair of brothers, one of whom was dark-haired and one of whom was red. (Also, shades of the original Thor, a quick-tempered, red-haired, trickster god!)
If Red Hair is Native to Egypt, Does This Mean that Ancient Egyptians were Indo-Europeans?
It just means that, as for most people groups worldwide, their genetics were more complex than the layperson would first imagine.
The ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians has been a hugely contested topic. Their civilization is so intriguing that everyone wants to claim them. Eurocentrists have tried to claim that the Egyptians were actually “Mediterranean” (specifically the Hellenistic, European-style Mediterranean), because this supports their dogma that Europeans have been the only source of civilization and there has never been a high civilization to come out of Africa. Afrocentrists have countered by claiming the ancient Egyptians were not only not white, but were truly black, the ancestors of the modern-day sub-Saharan Africans. The world’s first high civilizations were African, and everyone else has stolen their ideas!
Both groups are wrong about the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians. Genetic studies of mummies are difficult to do, and this is truer the older the mummies are, but so far, they have concluded that Egyptians have more or less always been … Egyptian. Uniquely themselves, more closely related to the peoples of the Levant than to any others, and genetically, more or less just like the Egyptians of today.
Also, Could We Stop the Tug-of-War?
And may I just add, this is stupid, human race? Could we please (and when I say we, I mean you, human race) stop all this “I started civilization” “No, I did”?
First of all, Egypt was not the world’s first civilization. Contemporary with them, we have the Sumerians, who though they did not live in Africa were probably also black, and the little-known Balkan civilization that gave us the Vinca signs. And there are good indications that many civilizations existed just as advanced as, and prior to, these. See all my posts about The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age by Richard Rudgley.
The Afrocentrists are closer to being right than the Eurocentrists. Arthur C. Custance makes the case,
One does not think of Africa as particularly inventive. As a matter of fact, however, so many new things came from that great continent during Roman times that they had a proverb, “Ex Africa semper aliquid,” which freely translated means, “There is always something new coming out of Africa.”
It is true to say that whatever inventiveness [Indo-Europeans] have shown in the past three or four centuries has almost always resulted from stimulation from non-Indo-Europeans. Our chief glory has been the ability to improve upon and perfect the inventions of others, often to such an extent that they appear to be original developments … [I]t does not seem proper to call a people “inventive” who once in a while do invent something, but who 99% of the time merely adapt the inventions of others to new ends.Custance, Noah’s Three Sons, pp. 199, 215
That said, the idea that any one nationality can claim to have founded civilization is … stupid, human race. Human beings are really smart and civilization springs up wherever they go. Lots of people have invented civilization, many times.
(Furthermore, even if your ancestors did build the Parthenon or the Pyramids or Notre Dame, you didn’t build them personally, did you? Do you really want to start taking credit for amazing stuff that people who share your genetics did 3,000 years ago? Are you also going to take credit for all the atrocities they committed? Human race, you are too smart for this stupid idea.)
Egyptian Red Hair Makes an Appearance in The Long Guest
Nimri, the anti-hero of my novel The Long Guest, is a Cushite, who per Genesis is related to “Egypt.” Mid-novel, after being separated from his own people and dragged off on a journey over the Asia steppes, he observes some red-haired Indo-Europeans.
When I first saw that redhaired fellow I was reminded of my relative Mizra. He had red –gold hair and bright burnished skin like my own – only even more ruddy, just a shade darker than his hair. He was tall and thin, with a long thin arrogant face. Between that and his unusual coloring, he was a very striking-looking man. He used to stalk around the architects’ complex like a very god … how we all admired him, and wanted to be like him! But no one could compare to Mizra.The Long Guest, Chapter 13
The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mizraim, which is actually plural: “Egypts.” Rather than making Nimri’s relative’s name plural, I have simply called him Mizra.
Nimri never manages to tell anyone about Mizra, because he cannot yet communicate at this stage in the story. But I can tell you. In case you didn’t know, I’ll whisper it in your ear: Some Egyptians had red hair.
“Color (iwen)” Ancient Egypt: the Mythology
Custance, Arthur C. Noah’s Three Sons, The Doorway Papers series vol. 1, Zondervan, 1975. pp. 155 – 216 discuss “The [Technological] Inventiveness of the Hamitic Peoples.” Or you can read the chapter here.
“Isis: Egyptian Goddess,” Britannica.
“New Research Shows that Some Ancient Egyptians were Naturally Fair-Haired,” Ancient Origins, 2 May 2016
Perry, Philip. “Were the ancient Egyptians black or white? Scientists now know,” Big Think, June 11, 2017
Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile, by the editors of Time-Life books, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1993. p. 153 shows the red-gold hair on the mummy of Ramses II.
Schuenemann, Verena J., et. al., “Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods,” Nature.com, 30 May 2017. This is the study that the Big Think article is summarizing.
“Seth: Egyptian God,” Britannica.
Republicans couldn’t sell ice water to the damned.Andrew Klavan
Them: “This dinosaur died 112 million years ago, but its stomach contents are still so well preserved that we can examine them down to the cellular level.”
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling
— even the LORD, who is my refuge —
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD,
“I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”Ps. 91:1 – 16
So many things to notice about this psalm. For one thing, it’s one of the better-known psalms. The hymn “Under His Wings” is taken from it. And it’s worth noting that this poem portrays God as … a chicken. This is not the only place in the Bible where God is portrayed as a mother hen protecting her chicks under her wings. (Or, given the mention of the “fowler’s snare,” maybe in this poem a wild game bird is in view.) This is one example of how, though He is called He, the Old Testament God is also shown to be maternal.
Another thing that stands out to me is how the ancient Israelites felt just as helpless as we do in the face of violence, “disaster,” and the “deadly pestilence.”
One of my most vivid memories about this psalm came during an orientation activity when I had just arrived in Asia. A seasoned missionary read the entire thing to us, and then went on to tell a bunch of stories about times when he and people he knew had not been protected from various kinds of disaster.
Jesus knew this as well. Satan actually quotes this psalm to Him, “He will command His angels concerning you …” in Luke 4, to get Him to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple. Jesus does not jump.
This is a poem. It is strangely heartening to read.
Yet it doesn’t always happen this way.
Yet it is the word of God.
I don’t understand it either.