Scott Aaronson Sees the Light…sorta

From Aaron Daddy, why didn’t you blog about Trump?

I explained earlier how abysmally I think Trump comes across under the cold light of reason. But how does he look to my inner five-year-old, or my inner self-serving orangutan? Well, Trump’s campaign has attracted some noxious anti-Semites, who surely want me dead for that reason, but I see little indication that Trump himself, or most of his supporters, feel similarly. I can’t say that they’ve said or done anything to threaten me personally.

Meanwhile, many of the social-justice types who are Trump’s ideological opposites did try to destroy my life—and not because I hurt anyone, tried to hurt anyone, or said anything false, but just because I went slightly outside their Overton Window while trying to foster empathy and dialogue and articulate something true. And having spent a year and a half reading their shaming attacks, on Twitter, Tumblr, Metafilter, etc., I’m well-aware that many of them will try again to destroy me if they ever see an opportunity.

Aaron sees who the real enemy is. SJW-liberalism is a modern variant of Puritanism, with a strict code of conduct, and anyone who deviates is strictly punished through public shaming and humiliation. Being a liberal, of course, does not make you safe; it’s actually worse because SJWs control these institutions. When attacking conservative institutions and individuals, SJWs tend to go for the advertisers (Rush Limbaugh’s boss doesn’t care is Rush says mean things about someone, but will care if advertisers defect). A successful lynch mob ends with the ‘sinner’ (who is always presumed guilty and is unable to defend himself) losing his or her job and issuing a statement of contrition.

So on the purely personal level, you might say, I have a hundred times more reason to fear Amanda Marcotte than to fear Donald Trump, even though Trump might become the next Commander-in-Chief (!?), while Marcotte will never become more than a clickbait writer. And you might add: if even a nerdy academic in Cambridge, MA, who’s supported gay rights and environmentalism and Democrats his whole life, is capable of feeling a twinge of vicarious satisfaction when Trump thumbs his nose at the social-justice bullies, then how much the more might a “middle American” feel that way? Say, someone who worked his whole life to support a family, then lost his job at the plant, and who’s never experienced anything but derision, contempt, and accusations of unexamined white male privilege from university-educated coastal elites?

As with almost all presidential elections, about 95-98% of the country will vote for either the democrat or republican candidate, about half for each, give or take 5-10% (which is close to the 30% figure for Trump cited by Aaron). The person who lost his job at the plant, if he identifies as liberal, will vote for the democratic nominee (Clinton). If he identifies as conservative, he’ll vote the republican nominee (likely Trump). Although Aaron, a liberal, has awoken, many liberals will not, and have become accustomed to the lecturing about ‘white privilege’, and nothing will change their minds. Also, the vast majority of terminations are attributable to cyclical economic factors, not SJWs. Although some SJWs go after ordinary employees (an example being the site Getting Racists Fired), they tend to target higher profile people, such as professors or employees at start-ups. The bullying by SJWs will not matter much for the outcome of this election, because the phrase has still not entered the common lexicon. More effort needs to be done to spread the word about SJWs to people who don’t spend time online.

The truth is, there’s a movement that’s very effectively wielded social media to remake the public face of progressive activism—to the point where today, progressivism could strike an outside observer as being less about stopping climate change, raising the minimum wage, or investing in public transit than simply about ruining the lives of Brendan Eich and Matt Taylor and Tim Hunt and Erika Christakis and Dongle Guy and Elevator Guy and anyone else who tells the wrong joke, wears the wrong shirt, or sends the wrong email. It strikes me that this movement never understood the extent to which progressive social values were already winning, with no need for this sort of vindictiveness. It’s insisted instead on treating its vanquished culture-war enemies as shortsightedly as the Allies treated the Germans at Versailles.

Yes, and that’s why SJWS are so awful and why even many liberals don’t like them.

But OK, even if true, this is water under the bridge. The question now is: how do we make sure that the ~30% probability of a Trump takeover of American democracy goes toward 0%? I feel like, in understanding the emotional legitimacy of some of the Trump supporters’ anger, I’ve cleared a nontrivial Step One in figuring out how to counter him—but I’m still missing Steps Two and Three!

Yet, in spite of how SJWs tried to ruin his career, he still wants Trump to lose. Maybe his reasoning is, ‘If I denounce Trump, the SJWs will leave me alone,’ which obviously they won’t. Oh well…maybe this is resolved in the comments, but I’m too lazy to read through all 328 of them.

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