A little-known incident in the early years of World War I comes to mind this morning. (Actually, most Americans know absolutely nothing about World War I, so much so that the entire conflagration, which cost nearly twenty million lives, could be called “a little-known incident.” But I digress.)
Like the deputies in Paris, [French commanding General Joseph] Joffre needed a scapegoat for the failure of the offensive and Ruffey’s conduct decided the selection; he was removed that day from command of the Third Army and replaced by General Sarrail. Invited to lunch next day with Joffre, Ruffey blamed his defeat in the Ardennes on the last-minute removal of the two reserve divisions that Joffre had transferred to the Army of Lorraine. If he had had those 40,000 fresh men and the 7th Cavalry Division, Ruffey said, he could have rolled up the enemy’s left, and “what a success for our arms we might have won!” In one of his terse and mysterious remarks, Joffre replied, “Chut, il ne faut pas le dire.” His tone of voice has been lost, and it will never be known whether he meant, “You are wrong; you must not say that,” or “You are right but we must not admit it.”
[Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August]
Given the way the war had begun for France – that is, not merely badly but disastrously, despite Joffre’s optimism about his offensive approach – the latter interpretation strikes me as the more likely one. Considering that after two and a half years in supreme command, and with the war still raging, Joffre was removed and replaced by Robert Nivelle, a little-known figure with only one major success to his credit, he had good reason not to want to discuss the details of his tenure as France’s Generalissimo.
An awful lot of people don’t want certain matters discussed in detail, with all the data neatly arranged in time series for the perusal of any interested party. I have several such matters in mind this morning. Perhaps you’ve already guessed which ones, but I’ll blather on anyway; it’s what I do.
First, from the “current events” department:
Miss Greene’s assessment is unchallengeable. Its forthrightness and clarity are another illustration of why the political Establishment wishes she would dissolve into a vapor and float away. Once again, she has said something they do not wish Us the Great Unwashed to hear or think about.
The American economy is in shambles. Nothing is working properly. Inflation is rocketing out of control. Supermarket shelves are looking rather bare. You need to take out a mortgage to purchase gasoline. Mothers are unable to find baby formula for their infants. But Ukraine!
If this isn’t an “ignore that, look over there” tactic of the first water, then I’ve never seen one. It’s the sort of thing the Soviets did repeatedly, to deflect their subjects’ attention from their domestic troubles. And Miss Greene has pinned it to the wall.
American politicians have become ever more prone to that tactic as government at all levels has swollen past its proper bounds.
Next up, a little something from the U.K.:
[Katherine Birbalsingh] has been made “social mobility commissioner” by Boris Johnson’s government, because of her demonstrated ability to attain excellent school-leaving certificate (“GCSE,” aged sixteen, and “A-Level,” aged 18) results from poor-background pupils.
But she’s got into trouble because, being a born-again conservative, she has a naïve belief in old-fashioned things such as “science,” the empirical method, “truth” and “telling the truth.”
Last month, she told the U.K. parliament’s “science and technology committee inquiry on diversity and inclusion in Stem subjects” that “physics isn’t something that girls tend to fancy. They don’t want to do it, they don’t like it” [Girls shun physics A-level as they dislike ‘hard maths’, says social mobility head, by Hannah Devlin, The Guardian, April 27, 2022].
She further told the committee that at her own school only 16% of A-level physics students were girls, which was lower than the national average of 23%. When she was asked why so few girls did A-level (which stands for “Advanced Level”) physics, despite outperforming boys at GCSE (which stands for “General Certificate of Secondary Education”), she said:
I just think they don’t like it. There’s a lot of hard maths in there that I think they would rather not do. The research generally…just says that’s a natural thing. I don’t think there’s anything external. [My emphasis].
As we will see shortly, Birbalsingh is simply telling the truth. But, as we all know, the Left hates the truth, because it contradicts their virtue-signaling equalitarian dogmas. Indeed, to make matters worse for these “All Physicists Should Be Girls” campaigners, Birbalsingh added that she was “certainly not out there campaigning” for more girls to do physics:
I don’t mind that there’s only 16%. I want them to do what they want to do.
What’s this? A distinct, measurable difference between the intellectual proclivities of the sexes? This cannot be! Or at least this cannot be said where others can hear. Research and empirical data cannot be allowed to contradict The Narrative! Please read the whole article, Gentle Reader; it’s most definitely worth your time.
The U.K. is at least as deeply mired in the “indistinguishability of the sexes” canard as are we here in the “colonies.” England’s leading lights cannot and will not abide anyone who dares to speak against it. Miss Birbalsingh had better watch her back.
Finally for this morning, we have a report about our mainstream media’s aversion to facts about racial violence:
In 2020, I [former Thomson Reuters director of data science Zac Kriegman] started to witness the spread of a new ideology inside the company. On our internal collaboration platform, the Hub, people would post about “the self-indulgent tears of white women” and the danger of “White Privilege glasses.” They’d share articles with titles like “Seeing White,” “Habits of Whiteness” and “How to Be a Better White Person.” There was fervent and vocal support for Black Lives Matter at every level of the company. No one challenged the racial essentialism or the groupthink.
This concerned me. I had been following the academic research on BLM for years (for example, here, here, here and here), and I had come to the conclusion that the claim upon which the whole movement rested—that police more readily shoot black people—was false.
The data was unequivocal. It showed that, if anything, police were slightly less likely to use lethal force against black suspects than white ones.
Statistics from the most complete database of police shootings (compiled by The Washington Post) indicate that, over the last five years, police have fatally shot 39 percent more unarmed whites than blacks. Because there are roughly six times as many white Americans as black Americans, that figure should be closer to 600 percent, BLM activists (and their allies in legacy media) insist. The fact that it’s not—that there’s more than a 500-percentage point gap between reality and expectation—is, they say, evidence of the bias of police departments across the United States.
But it’s more complicated than that. Police are authorized to use lethal force only when they believe a suspect poses a grave danger of harming others. So, when it comes to measuring cops’ racial attitudes, it’s important that we compare apples and apples: Black suspects who pose a grave danger and white suspects who do the same.
Unfortunately, we don’t have reliable data on the racial makeup of dangerous suspects, but we do have a good proxy: The number of people in each group who murder police officers.
According to calculations (published by Patrick Frey, Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County) based on FBI data, black Americans account for 37 percent of those who murder police officers, and 34 percent of the unarmed suspects killed by police. Meanwhile, whites make up 42.7 percent of cop killers and 42 percent of the unarmed suspects shot by police—meaning whites are killed by police at a 7 percent higher rate than blacks.
Yet another clearly observed and recorded fact. But it’s unspeakable! You could undermine the whole Black Lives Matter movement with such data – and you know how our circulation depends upon that! So Thomson Reuters “had to” terminate Kriegman — for wrongthink with a sound factual basis.
It doesn’t get any balder than that, Gentle Reader.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Katherine Birbalsingh, and Zac Kriegman are all under fire for daring to say what must not be said. They’ve challenged pieties to the consternation of the priests in the pulpits:
One cannot challenge the pieties of a society without provoking condemnation or ostracism. To question a piety, even along its margins, is to ask to be thrown out of the church. This is an absolute that applies to all peoples and times….
Pieties have their dangers. The unquestioned belief, in late 17th Century France, that Catholics were morally superior to Huguenots allowed Louis XIV to revoke the Edict of Nantes, the decree of religious tolerance for the Protestant minority. The resulting mass emigration of Huguenots to Belgium weakened France severely, as the Huguenots were among the most industrious and educated persons of northern France. Indeed, part of the Catholic animosity toward them was that they worked on Sundays, and thus had a competitive edge over Catholics in business and commerce.
If we are in thrall to a piety contrary to the actual facts of our society, we are in danger too. The question is only of degree.
But the data are available to anyone who dares to look and to see. The Emperor has no clothes. Must a young child, an indisputable innocent, be the one to say it? Would it have to be a little black girl, to insulate her against shouts of racism and sexism? Or has the time come for all of us, young and old, black and white, male and female, to proclaim from the rooftops that we are being systematically denied some of the most important facts of our day?
Facts that are not frankly faced have a habit of stabbing us in the back. – Sir Harold Bowden