September 7, 2005

Bill Whittle, Dangerous Loon or Emasculated Liar?

I finally got around to reading the loooong essay about the New Orleans anarchy by TV writer Bill Whittle, which Instapundit is pushing as the moderate, sensible alternative to extremists like, oh, say, me.

Whittle says you can divide the world up into two kinds of people, or "tribes:"

-- The liberal "Pinks" who only care about emotion, like that awful Sean Penn:

"The Pink Tribe is all about feeling good: feeling good about

-- The conservative "Greys," like, oh, say, Bill Whittle:

"This is a Tribe where emotion is repressed because Emotion Clouds Judgment. This is the world of Quadratic Equations and Stress Risers and Loads Torsional, Compressive and Tensile, a place where Reality Can Ruin Your Best Day, the place where Murphy mercilessly picks off the Weak and the Incompetent, where the Speed Limit is 186,282.36 miles per second, where every bridge has a Failure Load and levees come in 50 year, 100 year and 1000 Year Flood Flavors."

Yet, Mr. Unemotional Rationality, Mr. Moderate Mainstream, is soon babbling about how he'd like to murder people who disagree with his ideology:

Let’s not talk about Black and White tribes… I know too many pathetic, hateful, racists and more decent, capable and kind people of both colors for that to make any sense at all. Do you not? Do you not know corrupt, ignorant, violent people, both black and white, to cure you of this elementary idiocy? Have you not met and talked and laughed with people who were funny, decent, upright, honest and honorable of every shade so that the very idea of racial politics should just seem like a desperate and divisive and just plain evil tactic to hold power?

If such a thing is not self-evident to you, please get off my property. Right now. I should tell you I own a gun and I know how to use it. I assure you that the pleasure I would take in shooting you would be temporary, minimal, and deeply regretted later.

So, what is his highly scientific worldview anyway?

I believe that the human animal – the raw material of our physical bodies – is essentially interchangeable. By this I mean that I could take the children of Fallujah and turn them all into Astronauts, convert Jewish babies into fanatical, mass-murdering SS guards, and shake a generation of the poorest Voodoo-worshippers in Haiti into a cadre of top-flight nuclear physicists, chemical engineers and computer scientists.

You may recognize this as just a regurgitation of the notorious blank slate boast of John Watson, the founder in the 1920's of the now discredited school of behaviorist psychology, that if he were given an infant at random, he could train him:

''to become any type of specialist I might select -- doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors.''

Watson was a fool to say that 80 years ago, and we know even more now.

And Whittle's version is more idiotic than Watson's: " I could take the children of Fallujah and turn them all into Astronauts." Whittle sure couldn't have turned me into an astronaut. No matter how totalitarian an upbringing he would have subjected me to, my poor reflexes, bad eyesight, inability to follow complex directions, slow decision-making, excessive size, and fear of heights would have left me a washout on day one of Flight School.

Whittle claims he could " shake a generation of the poorest Voodoo-worshippers in Haiti into a cadre of top-flight nuclear physicists, chemical engineers and computer scientists." But, in the real world, top-flight scientists and engineers can't reliably raise their own kids to be top-flight scientists and engineers. Francis Galton quantified regression toward the mean between father and son way back in the Victorian era.

Mr. Skeptical Empiricism continues:

Race has nothing to do with this – precisely nothing... Human hearts are indistinguishable and interchangeable. Anyone who claims otherwise is, without further argument or statements necessary, a complete God-damned idiot.

Well, that settles that!

Look, if you took Whittle literally, you'd think he was a dangerous loon, talking about shooting people who disagree with him and raising innocent children the way B.F. Skinner raised pigeons. But, it's clear he's just flapping his gums. He's simply spouting nonsense that he knows full well is nonsense because he's terrified of the Politically Correct Thought Police. As Theodore Dalrymple said:

" When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to cooperate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."

A friend points out:

"Make no mistake that Whittle's been Pinked - even his description of those no-good Pinks (i.e. pacifist liberals), and heroic Greys (i.e. militarist conservatives) shows that a *real* Grey wouldn't make claims about "interchangeable hearts" and voodoo engineers. But this sounds exactly like something those "Pinks" would say, according to his description. Everything about this reflects Whittle's anger at being neutered."

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


R2Parmly said...

Bill's point wasn't that EVERYONE had EXACTLY the same abilities, only that race had nothing to do with it. IE not everyone in Fallujah can be an astronaut - some of them might be like you - but their being Arab would have nothing to do with it.

On the other hand, you might have commented on the white-man's-burden mindset inherent in calling the children of Fallujah the polar opposites of astronauts (we all know that Iraqis are savages who just don't appreciate what our boys are doing for them, a thinly veiled racism that shines through in a number of Whittle's posts).

Or you could have commented on the smug, patronizing attitude of saying that the "pink" tribe (which encapsulates whoever he says it does) are lovable but stupid animals who should simply stay in the background, shut up, and "let the men handle this one".

Or, on the utter narcissism and detachment from reality that leads a sheltered, upper middle class yuppie who has never been in uniform, anywhere near a war zone or exposed in any way to the ugly side of life, considering himself a bona fide "grey".

In short, I don't agree with all of your conclusions, but I do agree that Whittle is a lying, delusional sack of horse manure. Since people outside of the far-right blogosphere rarely know of or comment on him, I thank you for providing me with one of the few articles on the internet that take him down a peg.

Anonymous said...

Bill Whittle spreads a social psychological message of brainwashing to the masses. Anyone who has wisdom will see right through this guys methods. He is anti american and anti human rights. He is a plague that needs to be silenced before he ruins peoples lives.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, back up your allegations. Bill Whittle is anti-American because he supports the constitution? Anti-human rights because he doesn't like racism? Make your case. "He is a plague that needs to be silenced.." Way to support that first amendment. Rights for Me, but not for Thee...Sieg Heil! Bill Whittle would be the first person to stand up for your right to express your opinion. Listen a little more closely. Perhaps he's not the one doing the brainwashing.

Anonymous said...

Rusty, I can't vouch for the guy above you but Whittle has a dodgy habit of lying about gun control in dangerous areas.

Watch his video from a few days ago if you haven't seen it (Detroit, New Orleans and Honduras all have lax gun laws).

shermbush said...

In classic fashion Sailer misses Whittle's message. Whether deliberate or unintentional is a mute point. Lib's just have no sound rebuttle other than attack and demean the messenger.

John Reb said...

Whittle's "blank slate" ideology = Liberalism = Boomer conservatism = propaganda of the (((managerial state))). When it's orcs come to Mugabe you, be sure to cry out, "But I'm not a racist!" That'll give them a big laugh.