Moral Inversion

pirate wires #107 // when the good is called evil, and the evil called good: hamas, noble prostitutes celebrating terrorism on social media, a modern faith of total lies, and room for hope
Mike Solana

A Clockwork Orange

A bias in favor of civilization. Saturday morning, the first thing I saw was the half-naked corpse of a girl in the back of a truck. Her legs were twisted, and limp. Two terrorists pointed down at their lifeless trophy, as if she were a slaughtered animal, one grabbed a fistful of her matted, bloody hair, and they cheered. The girl was German, I later discovered, one of an estimated 260 civilians massacred at a rave (be warned, this account from Tablet is highly disturbing). The abject horror of that festival constitutes but one, unthinkable branch of Hamas’ sprawling weekend terrorist attack in Israel. Altogether, what I witnessed was barbaric to a degree I’d never before seen: multiple apparent rapes, mutilations, men and women, including the elderly, and small children — entire families — savagely murdered, with videos uploaded to Facebook, and screaming captives dragged to Gaza. At least 11 Americans have been confirmed killed in the attacks, with more assumed captured by Hamas, which is now threatening to televise hostage executions. But as disturbing as I found the carnage, I was even less prepared for the reaction here at home. While US politicians hedged, and the New York Times framed the unprecedented horror of this attack in the “both sides” language of a coward, thousands of people actually celebrated.

Moments after the German girl’s body was desecrated, a “human rights” advocate mocked footage of festival attendees as they ran for their lives. On Twitter, ‘edgy porn star’ Mia Khalifa cheered the “freedom fighters,” hoping for better footage of the massacre, while professors across the country helpfully contextualized the necessary carnage, many of them encouraging such atrocities at home. The DSA agitated for a race war, of course — a common theme from the far left — and a self-declared Somali-American writer and influencer, last seen in the pages of Soho House Magazine encouraging “decolonization” of the west, calmly stated what we’ve all long suspected: the most cherished hope of the “justice” brigade is not a land acknowledgment, but genocide of the “colonizers” (us (definitely me, let’s be honest)). All of these tweets have gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of supporters online. Outside, in the streets of London, Sydney, New York City, San Francisco, and all over Canada Palestinian flags were raised in celebration, and further calls for genocide were joyfully issued. Partly, this was just some good old-fashioned “multiculturalism,” our enduring strength I’m told. We should definitely let more of these people into the country, and pay for them to live here. But for the most part it was something darker: Western Civilization’s tremendous moral inversion, in which evil is framed the good, good is framed the evil, and the public is expected to parrot all the clown world blasphemies in unison as if some twisted Nicene Creed.

The inversion comes from activists and academics, and then it hits the press. From there, it’s driven through government, tech, and the broader business community, where the inverted morality is enforced. It spans almost every aspect of our daily discourse, from local politics and economics to hiring practices in tech, and as it has been left unchecked for years it has naturally metastasized — we learned this weekend — to the point of “yay rape.” Critically, the moral inversion is no mere contrary position on some polarizing topic, but a deep guilting of what is obviously true, and a dedicated championing of its almost photographic negative.

Most of the inverted dogmas coursing culture at the moment feel small, unrelated, almost too silly to mention: the excruciating performance of modern art, the soul crushing contours of contemporary architecture, a morbidly obese singer on the cover of Women’s Health magazine. We have our queers for Palestine on the front lines of intersectional liberation, and straight men, by the way, must be willing to date a woman with a penis, a perfectly heterosexual behavior. Such clownish phenomena also span, to some degree, much of the last fifty years. But the proliferation of inverted moralities and truths has rapidly accelerated in an age of social media, rooting into almost every aspect of our lives. Today, we are living under a culture and popular ethics shaped almost entirely of spectacular, total lies. The signs of decay are everywhere.

I was in New York last week, where fare evasion is not only chronic, but self-righteous. Every morning I watched neckbeards hop the turnstile, then open the emergency door for crowds outside while MTA workers watched and did nothing. “This should be free!” one barista-looking oat milk maximalist cried. Public theft, we’re told, is a “justice” issue. The sentiment has been echoed by sitting congresswomen. In terms of more serious property crime, we’re told rioting should not even be hindered, let alone prosecuted. Home invasions and car break-ins? Just a normal part of urban life. In early education, advanced math is earnestly credited by Stanford professors as damaging to students, while San Francisco politicians insist more housing supply will only increase demand. On the national stage, High Priestess of Inversion Greta Thunberg tells us energy consumption — the life blood of growth — is a moral abomination. And in business? A system of explicitly racist hiring practices is the only path to combatting “systemic racism.” There are studies, I’m told. This is science. Obesity is health, fitness is fascist, and any sort of “America first” position from a candidate for the American presidency is evil beyond comprehension. Disagree? That is still technically legal. Just do it in private. “Real” freedom is impossible, remember, so long as people are free to say “bad” things on Twitter.

If you’ll permit me to briefly dip my toe back into the culture war, here is a video of famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson challenging the popular notion women should not be expected to compete against men with the argument sex is not a binary (around 43:00 for the good stuff). Sex is a spectrum, this literal scientist insists. But, then, a moral question: should biological men be permitted to physically assault biological women before a cheering crowd? No, of course not. There is nobody who saw the giant swimmer, or the male MMA fighter, towering over their female competitors, and thought “this is good, I love this.”

And yet.

Our public celebration of inverted morality is only ever eclipsed, in humiliating, demoralizing degrees, by a constant condemnation of the good, in which our heroes have been made our villains, and our villains made our heroes. Daniel Penny defended a Subway car from a deranged lunatic. He is now on trial for murder. New York’s district attorney, who is separately, in the name of preserving democratic norms, attempting to jail a presidential candidate, wants to give the good Samaritan 15 years in prison. Even where the justice system sides with what is morally correct, as with a New York bodega owner freed from charges after defending himself against a violent criminal, our media, on the wings of an activist chorus, demands “justice,” which is here defined as impunity for evil. In reference to the ruling shop clerks should be permitted not to die at the hands of murderers, the Times quotes a relative of the violent criminal: “This decision sets a dangerous precedent.” In San Francisco, supervisors have been listening. They come closer by the day to banning self-defense.

It’s not entirely clear what causes moral inversion, but the dramatic recent acceleration seems at least partly rooted in reaction to the internet. Press omission of the full truth is how America tolerated everything from Iraq to Vietnam. But social media is a rogue, chaotic portal to everything, from unhinged fantasy to the unvarnished, unmistakable, inescapable truth. Crime peaked in the early 1990s, at which point it was not only worse, but many times worse than it is today. We saw a fraction of that violence in the press. But today we hop on Twitter, and there the truth is right in front of us — especially since Musk shattered the prior order. As “criminal justice” activists can no longer hide the ugly truth, the ugly truth must be reframed. Yes, that is an open air drug market, a grown man shitting in the street in front of kids, the 25th video you’ve seen this week of a man robbing Walgreens. But crime is just a symptom of some broader, systemic injustice, which you yourself, in some ambiguous way, have caused. In fact, crime is justice.

This is a political tactic.

Moral inversion, where successfully gaslit into popular belief, is also highly corrosive of tradition, with the totality of our present inversion so overwhelming one is forced to consult the press and academics almost daily for updates to our new state religion. It is also a form of public humiliation. There is nobody who thinks sexist hiring practices, for example, will lead to a less sexist world. The point of demanding high-status CEOs parrot such belief in public is to shame them, and force submission to a relatively new political order. The rest of us are meant to watch the humiliation, fear it, and fall in line. We have seen such things before, most notably in China. The period in which such tactics proliferated is referred to as the Cultural Revolution.

But as powerful as the internet has amplified inversion, and as dangerously as the more authoritarian trends among social media executives concentrated such power throughout the Trump administration, a free and open internet is chaos — and that is corrosive of everything, from tradition to the inverted platitudes of our rotting state. The activist attempt at broad moral inversion of the terrorist attack, for example, has largely failed. By Monday afternoon, even Justin Trudeau had decided the rape parades were a bit much. The average person knows what’s right and wrong. Given enough time, in reaction to almost every warped platitude, open discussion and dissemination of video has led to popular, if yet culturally forbidden, rejection of inverted moral dogma.

Sunday, waiting for the 6 train to work, I noticed two police officers stationed at the turnstiles. It was the first I’d seen of this, or anything like it, in weeks. One by one, the cops nabbed fare evaders of every race and age and shape and creed — a beautiful display of diversity. A crowd formed to watch the citations, and first I thought they’d come to save the thieves. But then I saw that they were mostly laughing. A pair of guys turned back to me. “They should have paid,” one said. It didn’t matter how many Bay Area think pieces were written on behalf of justice for anti-social bums, almost everyone who paid their fare felt the same way I did. Public infrastructure is good, and the way we treat it is a reflection of the way we treat each other. When left to congregate in freedom, the inverted moral drama of the noble criminal is rejected by the crowd. There in the station, the state showed some small hint at reshaping in accordance with something like a real morality.

Free to challenge the moral inversion of twisted academics and activists in media, a natural sense of right and wrong appears to be emergent, and, mixed in with my daily ingestion of poison on Twitter, I have noticed signs of moral reassertion everywhere. The signs could not have come sooner. Because while the gestapo professors teach our young people the “virtue” of “decolonization,” we all just saw the praxis unfold live, in full, gruesome color, and — at least to me — it did not look pleasant. The inverted moral path has ever led to one place: mass murder. And I have frankly never been a big mass murder guy.

-SOLANA

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