Cal Poly faculty resolution imperils conservative events

The faculty government at California Polytechnic Institute, San Luis Obispo will vote Tuesday evening on a resolution to cap the amount the university will pay for security at speaking events at $5,000. The Cal Poly College Republicans say the bill is …

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The Racial Double Standard

Coleman Hughes, a black student at Columbia, goes there. His essay begins like this:

In the fall of 2016, I was hired to play in Rihanna’s back-up band at the MTV Video Music Awards. To my pleasant surprise, several of my friends had also gotten the call. We felt that this would be the gig of a lifetime: beautiful music, primetime TV, plus, if we were lucky, a chance to schmooze with celebrities backstage.

But as the date approached, I learned that one of my friends had been fired and replaced. The reason? He was a white Hispanic, and Rihanna’s artistic team had decided to go for an all-black aesthetic—aside from Rihanna’s steady guitarist, there would be no non-blacks on stage. Though I was disappointed on my friend’s behalf, I didn’t consider his firing as unjust at the time—and maybe it wasn’t. Is it unethical for an artist to curate the racial composition of a racially-themed performance? Perhaps; perhaps not. My personal bias leads me to favor artistic freedom, but as a society, we have yet to answer this question definitively.

One thing, however, is clear. If the races were reversed—if a black musician had been fired in order to achieve an all-white aesthetic—it would have made front page headlines. It would have been seen as an unambiguous moral infraction. The usual suspects would be outraged, calling for this event to be viewed in the context of the long history of slavery and Jim Crow in this country, and their reaction would widely be seen as justified. Public-shaming would be in order and heartfelt apologies would be made. MTV might even enact anti-bias trainings as a corrective.

Though the question seems naïve to some, it is in fact perfectly valid to ask why black people can get away with behavior that white people can’t. The progressive response to this question invariably contains some reference to history: blacks were taken from their homeland in chains, forced to work as chattel for 250 years, and then subjected to redlining, segregation, and lynchings for another century. In the face of such a brutal past, many would argue, it is simply ignorant to complain about what modern-day blacks can get away with.

Yet there we were—young black men born decades after anything that could rightly be called ‘oppression’ had ended—benefitting from a social license bequeathed to us by a history that we have only experienced through textbooks and folklore. And my white Hispanic friend (who could have had a tougher life than all of us, for all I know) paid the price. The underlying logic of using the past to justify racial double-standards in the present is rarely interrogated. What do slavery and Jim Crow have to do with modern-day blacks, who experienced neither? Do all black people have P.T.S.D from racism, as the Grammy and Emmy award-winning artist Donald Glover recently claimed? Is ancestral suffering actually transmitted to descendants? If so, how? What exactly are historical ‘ties’ made of?

Hughes goes on to lament the double standard the public applies to famous black writers. For example:

The celebrated journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates provides another example of the lower ethical standard to which black writers are held. In his #1 New York Times bestseller, Between the World and Me, Coates explained that the policemen and firemen who died on 9/11 “were not human to me,” but “menaces of nature.”1 This, it turned out, was because a friend of Coates had been killed by a black cop a few months earlier. In his recent essay collection, he doubled down on this pitiless sentiment: “When 9/11 happened, I wanted nothing to do with any kind of patriotism, with the broad national ceremony of mourning. I had no sympathy for the firefighters, and something bordering on hatred for the police officers who had died.”2 Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss—a young Jewish woman—was recently raked over the coals for tweeting, “Immigrants: They get the job done,” in praise of the Olympic ice-skater Mirai Nagasu, a second-generation Japanese-American. Accused of ‘othering’ an American citizen, Weiss came under so much fire that The Atlantic ran twoseparate pieces defending her. That The Atlantic saw it necessary to vigorously defend Weiss, but hasn’t had to lift a finger to defend Coates, whom they employ, evidences the racial double-standard at play. From a white writer, an innocuous tweet provokes histrionic invective. From a black writer, repeated expressions of unapologetic contempt for public servants who died trying to save the lives of others on September 11 are met with fawningpraise from leftwing periodicals, plus a National Book Award and a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant.

Hughes says this double standard is common in society:

But we make an exception for blacks. Indeed, what George Orwell wrote in 1945seems more apt today: “Almost any English intellectual would be scandalised by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it.” Only a black intellectual, for instance, could write an op-ed arguing that black children should not befriend white children because “[h]istory has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people,” and get it published in the New York Times in 2017. An identical piece with the races reversed would rightly be relegated to fringe white supremacist forums. In defense of such racist drivel, it won’t suffice to repeat the platitude that ‘black people can’t be racist,’ as if redefining a word changes the ethical status of the thing that the word signifies. Progressives ought not dodge the question: Why are blacks the only ethnic group routinely and openly encouraged to nurse stale grievances back to life?

Read the whole thing. It’s very, very brave. Hughes is a black undergraduate at an Ivy League university, yet he has no been afraid to say what has been unsayable. That man has guts.

By the way, his essay is not merely an exercise in whataboutism. He addresses real philosophical and moral concerns in it. He focuses on blacks, but as a general matter, if you read the mainstream press, you’ll find there’s a tendency to treat gays and other minority groups favored by liberals with kid gloves — as if they were symbols, not real people, with the same virtues and vices that everybody else has. For example, in a previous job, I observed that some liberals in the newsroom viewed local Muslims through the lens of the culture war between liberals and conservatives, and did not want to hold them to the same standard with regard to extremist rhetoric, apparently because doing so might encourage conservatives in their own biases.

Another personal example: last year, I wrote several posts about Tommy Curry, a radical black nationalist who teaches philosophy at Texas A&M (see here and here). In his written work and spoken advocacy, Curry advocates what can only be described as anti-white hatred. Don’t take my word for it; go read the blogs I wrote, which quote generously from, and link to, Curry’s own work. A white man who spoke the same way about any racial minority would never have been hired by a university — A&M hired him knowing exactly what they were getting, because he had published — and would never be retained by one after his racism became known. I linked in one of the blogs to a podcast (subtitled, “White People Are The Problem”) on which Curry was a regular guest; on that particular episode, this philosophy professor argued that white people cannot be reasonable, because they are white.

Imagine being a white student in that man’s class.

But there is a different standard for bigots from the left. The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote a long piece about the fallout from my blogs, and positioned it as Curry having suffered because he wanted to “force a conversation about race and violence” — a conversation that people didn’t want to hear. The writer — no doubt reflecting the biases of his own professional class — could not seem to grasp why people would be really offended by the unapologetic racism of Tommy Curry’s writing and speaking. This is precisely the double standard that Coleman Hughes decries. It is lucrative for radicals like Curry, Coates, and others, but a just society should hold us all to the same standard of discourse and morality. This is one aspect of the Enlightenment that I am eager to defend. It’s not only morally right, but practically, observing it it is the only way we will be able to keep the peace in a pluralistic country.

I found Hughes’s essay via Prufrock, a free daily digest that comes to you in e-mail, to which you can and should subscribe by clicking here. 

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Of Morality And Marshmallows

The Atlantic reports on a new study suggesting that the famous “marshmallow test” is unreliable as a predictor of future economic instability. Excerpt:

In the case of this new study, specifically, the failure to confirm old assumptions pointed to an important truth: that circumstances matter more in shaping children’s lives than Mischel and his colleagues seemed to appreciate.

This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.

The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

Maybe so. But might it also be the case that children raised in more affluent homes will have been taught the value of resisting their impulses? I say this because one of my own children has had a very demanding sweet tooth from earliest childhood. He is also impulsive by nature. It has taken years of effort on the part of his mother and me to train him to say no to his impulses — not only for sugar, but, as he has gotten older and started earning spending money, his enthusiasms for buying things that strike his fancy. Many times I have pondered the difficulty he is going to have managing his money if he doesn’t get this impulsiveness under control. He’s a very good kid, highly moral and responsible, but impulsiveness is his Achilles’ heel.

He’s not being raised in poverty. We are middle class people, but culturally I guess that puts us with more in common with the affluent than not. Our impulsive child has been raised in a stable household — materially and emotionally — so there are no environmental factors that nurture his impulsiveness. From an Orthodox Christian point of view, this is simply one of his passions, something he has to struggle against. I have my own particular passions (anger and gluttony). Orthodoxy teaches that life itself is a struggle to crucify the passions and order ones desires towards the will of God. There is nothing wrong in principle with wanting to eat a marshmallow, but if your reason and your will are overcome by that desire to eat a marshmallow, you are weak, and can fall into sin. The regular fasting that Orthodox Christians do is designed to train the will to desire what God desires for us, not what we desire for ourselves.

Anyway, all of that is prelude to what I want to tell you. Last night, I was at a dinner party with some friends. One of them, N., told a long story about a local carpenter she and her husband had hired to do some renovations on their house. I won’t tell the story in depth, because the story is hers to tell, and she’s a writer. The gist of the story is that N. and her husband have been working with this guy for a long time — it’s a big project — and have gotten to know him well. He’s working class, and economically quite precarious. N. said the man has become a friend, and that she and her husband have been working hard to help him stabilize his life.

N. said — again, I’m summing up, but the details are sort of breathtaking — that the carpenter’s personal life is a study in chaos. He cannot grasp that he has the power to determine future events by the choices he makes today. A sense of moral agency totally escapes him. He sees N.’s ordinary family — they have kids — and thinks that they are simply one of fate’s winners. N. talked about the extraordinary lengths she and her husband have gone to befriend and to help this man, but how ultimately it has been futile. No matter what they say to him, no matter what they do for him, he cannot get it together. And he is leaving all kinds of chaos in his wake (several wives, kids, etc.).

I told N. that my wife and I have been in the very same situation, trying to help someone just like that who had become a friend … and in the end, concluding that it was futile. I wrote about it in the past on this blog: how I had gone to my lawyer, offering to pay him to represent this impoverished friend in a particular case. Lawyer said he would take my money and meet with the friend, but that in his lengthy experience with these cases, he could tell me that I’d be wasting my money and his time, because my friend would not follow through. It’s in the nature of people who get themselves into these kinds of situations, he said, to keep doing what got them into that situation in the first place. I told him I would be willing to take that chance to help her.

Next time I saw this friend, I told her to make an appointment with Lawyer X., that he would be willing to advise her, and that I would pay the bill. She thanked me profusely, but said that wouldn’t be necessary that she had decided to … well, that she had decided to keep doing the same stupid thing that got her into this bind in the first place. The country lawyer’s practical experience in dealing with the poor was wiser than my heart-on-the-sleeve idealism. Not for the first time did I feel like a character in a Flannery O’Connor story. (My future epitaph: “Call me Azzberry”.)

At dinner last night, my friend and I dwelled on the intractability of human nature in cases like this. She said that she had to conclude that a stable family life in childhood provides psychological goods that cannot be given through any other way. There aren’t enough government programs, personal charitable efforts, or anything else to compensate adequately for a chaotic childhood. My friend was certainly not saying that we can wash our hands of the responsibility for our neighbor’s welfare, but she was concluding — accurately — that we have to recognize the limits of our ability to change the lives of others. She was also saying that her experience with the carpenter made her more fully aware of how important it is to do everything she can to give her own children a stable home life.

Notice that I’m not saying — nor did I hear her to say — “affluent” home life. My folks never had a lot of money. We were an ordinary working-class to lower-middle-class family. But the gift my mother and father gave me of an orderly, stable childhood was priceless, I now see. How did they do it? They were both imperfect people who endured their share of difficulties in marriage, caused by their own flaws, as well as a period of economic stress. My father is no longer with us to discuss the matter, but the truth is, neither one of them would have been given over to much self-reflection on the question. They were the kind of people who would have simply said, “We made a vow,” and left it at that. For them, that was reason enough to stay together — that, and they always made it clear that the needs of us kids came before their own. That was just how my folks went through life. Not to get too philosophical about it, but for them, that was the Tao.

That wouldn’t have guaranteed stability in my family’s or my late sister’s, but they gave us such a good model of how family was supposed to work. Again, I don’t want to hold my mom and dad out to have been perfect. I don’t think there are any perfect families, and certainly mine had its particular flaws, some of which had unfortunate long-term consequences. That said, I am so very grateful to my parents for holding things together, and showing my sister and me that it is possible to build that kind of life, even when you don’t have much money.

My father was the chief breadwinner in our household, and, because they were a traditional 1950s-era couple, he was the one who dictated how our financial resources would be handled. I find this interesting with relation to the Atlantic article because having grown up very poor in the Great Depression, he ought to have been shaped by the experience of inconstancy in a particular way. Remember, the Atlantic writer said:

There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity.

That’s how my father grew up, but that same experience made him far more likely to do what he could to hedge against chaos. He talked to Ruthie and me a lot about these things, relating him to his childhood. His own father was away from home for most of my dad’s early childhood, entirely because he had to work and send money back to support his wife, children, and elderly mother, who lived in the household. That sense of vulnerability made a profound impression on my dad, who was determined that his children would not feel it, if he could help it.

Daddy wasn’t unique in that. What I can’t quite understand today is why his response to childhood poverty and insecurity was so very different from what is normal today. That is, Daddy’s response was to live as an adult in such a way that he was less vulnerable to that chaos, and in which his own children were made less vulnerable to the chaos that would have come had outside pressures broken the family apart. I’ve written many times in this space about how he had deep compassion for people who were poor and suffering victims of circumstance, but also something bordering on contempt for people who were poor and suffering, but who always blamed others, or fate, for their suffering. He would say, “You can’t do nothin’ for people like that.” This was the opinion of a man who had once been poor, and who had lived his entire life in the same community as poor people, and working with them. Kind of like that country lawyer I mentioned above.

It seems to me that aside from his personal qualities, my father was the beneficiary of a local culture that, for better or for worse, had a strong bias against people living morally disordered lives. I should add that my dad had much more hostility towards middle class and wealthy people who lived that way. “They know better,” he would say. “They don’t have an excuse.” In his case, it wasn’t so much a matter of religion — my dad wasn’t particularly observant — as it was a matter of shame and honor. The culture that shaped my father’s code said it was dishonorable for men and women to live in ways that violated its core moral code. I heard my dad say on a number of occasions, “There’s no shame in being poor,” but he also spoke with stern judgment against men who abandoned their families, people who wouldn’t work, and so forth.

That code could be harsh, but it was more realistic about life than a lot of what passes for wisdom today. I think that has a lot to do with why Jordan Peterson is so popular. He gives to young men a sense of moral agency. Peterson is not Moses coming down from the summit of Sinai, but he talks common sense to a culture that has forgotten it. There has never been a society, and never will be a society, in which somebody can live like a fool and not pay the consequences — and for that matter, inflict consequences on others. You can’t not show up for work and expect to keep your job forever. You can’t ignore your kids and expect that they will grow up to be responsible people. You can’t get loaded every weekend and wonder why your roof is falling in, and won’t fix itself. You can’t allow television and social media to raise your children, and expect that they will be good.  And so forth.

“The world doesn’t owe you a living,” my father would lecture me, usually when I hadn’t done my homework, or failed to do something I was supposed to have done. I suppose this attitude is what made my dad a natural conservative. He couldn’t stand people who were ungrateful and lazy. His basic attitude towards us kids was: I bust my ass to provide for y’all, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you waste the opportunities you’ve been given. There was a time in my life when I thought he was so square, but the older I get, the more I see that there really isn’t any other way to live. My dad was keen to help people who were down on their luck, and I see now that he allowed himself to be taken advantage of by some folks with hard-luck stories. Mostly, though, what he was eager to do was to teach people how to help themselves, and to encourage them to do so. For him, this was a matter of natural justice. A society in which people were rewarded even though they did the wrong thing, or failed to do the right thing, was not a just or good society. And doing the right thing always meant subjugating your own desires to the greater good, especially the greater good of your family.

Here’s a funny thing: a few years back, when I was working with the African-American actor Wendell Pierce on his memoir of growing up in south Louisiana, I spent some time speaking with his Uncle L.C. Edwards, the last surviving member of Wendell’s parents’ generation. Uncle L.C. was the same age as my father, and like him, had grown up in rural poverty. I loved the stories of L.C.’s parents (that is, Wendell’s grandparents): poor black farmers who weren’t educated, but who had a very strong religious ethic, and who placed enormous value on education and self-discipline as the only reliable means of self-advancement. Poverty was the enemy of both L.C. and my father, but Lloyd and his siblings also had to deal with Jim Crow. If memory serves, every one of the children of Wendell’s grandparents got educated, and escaped poverty. I’m telling you, the chapter on Papo and Mamo (the grandchildren’s name for L.C.’s parents) is worth the price of the book. Here’s a characteristic excerpt:

One Christmas evening after supper, the Edwardses went to call on their College Point neighbors, to wish them a happy holiday. The kids were startled to go into one house and to see that all that family had eaten for their Christmas meal was potatoes and grits. When they returned home, Papo told the children, “This is what I mean when I tell you it’s important to save for a rainy day. If you put your money aside now, you will have enough to eat well on Christmas.”

Given the man Papo was, if the Edwardses had any food left, he probably took it to that poor family and didn’t tell his own children for the sake of preserving their neighbors’ dignity.

His children remembered Papo as a slow talker but a deep thinker. He never made a quick decision, but acted only after prayer, deliberation, and sleeping on it. Whatever the answer was, he arrived at it through careful reason, not passion. Acting on impulse was the sure way to lose your money, in Papo’s view.

Papo worked for a time in a sugar factory and received his weekly wages in a brown packet. He had a firm rule with himself: Wait twenty-four hours before spending a penny of it. Uncle L.C. said that as a young working man, he thought his father’s rule was silly. You have the money, he figured, so why not enjoy it?

But when he got married and started a family of his own, he understood Papo’s good sense and followed the rule himself. Uncle L.C., who worked at the DuPont chemical plant, has done well through saving and investing over the years. To this day, he credits Papo for teaching him by word and example the importance of being careful with your money and not letting your passions guide your decisions.

Talking with L.C. was like speaking with a black version of my own father. Though he had long been in retirement when I met him, L.C. was always thinking of ways he could make a little money. He told me about how he would take fatherless black boys from a nearby trailer park, and try to teach them something about working to make money and to plan for the future. He told me how sorry he felt for those young men, who had no father in the home to offer them direction, or a sense of responsible manhood.

But his pity had strict limits. Like my own father, L.C. was death on those who wouldn’t work or practice self-discipline. He told me about how his own wife, a retired public schoolteacher, quit her job the very day the last of their adult children no longer needed their help paying for college. She was of a generation for whom education was the most precious thing, their ticket out of poverty and oppression. Today, though, she was worn down by students who wouldn’t work, wouldn’t behave themselves, and parents who blamed the schools and the teachers for their kids’ failures.

American culture is far less friendly to the worldview of those Depression babies like L.C. and my father. Politics and economics are complicated things. You can’t simply apply a moral code to every situation, and expect it to solve the problem. But let’s recognize this: very few Americans in 2018 are as materially poor as my dad and L.C. Edwards were when they came into this world in the 1930s. Is there anybody in America today who is poorer than a black child born to uneducated farmers living in the Deep South under American apartheid? And yet, look what they did with what they had been given! There never will be a society in which family won’t matter, and in which moral self-discipline won’t matter. 

The wealthy, and those with social connections, can absorb a lot more disorder than the less well off can, but money won’t last forever.

The world we have today is wealthier, and in some ways is better able to defray the cost of that disorder. We have more of a social safety net today than we did back then. But this world is much poorer in social capital, which is not something you can raise from Chinese bankers.

There’s a lot of brokenness in this country, and no clear way to fix it. The people my dinner companion and I were talking about last night are white. They live in Charles Murray’s fictional Fishtown. They diverge greatly from the core values and practices of stable middle-class and well-off Americans, in ways that were not true a couple of generations ago. Society has grown far more individualistic and tolerant of non-conformity. This is not entirely a bad thing! But the cost to people who don’t have a lot of social and material capital to begin with has been immense. People love to imagine that if only we brought good jobs back to America, or voted in this or that political party, then these problems would solve themselves. I don’t believe that’s true. That’s no reason not to try to improve opportunities for people, but there are no government programs or private charitable initiatives that can meaningfully compensate for the loss of a sense of moral order and purpose.

Finally, I phrase occurred to me while writing this post, a fragment from something I’d read ages ago. I googled it, and the source turned up here. Here is the excerpt I was thinking about. The writer is talking about the 1950s:

It was a more human world in that it was a sexier world, because sex was still a story. Each high school senior class had exactly one girl who got pregnant and one guy who was the father, and it was the town’s annual scandal. Either she went somewhere and had the baby and put it up for adoption, or she brought it home as a new baby sister, or the couple got married and the town topic changed. It was a stricter, tougher society, but its bruising sanctions came from ancient wisdom.

We have all had a moment when all of a sudden we looked around and thought: The world is changing, I am seeing it change. This is for me the moment when the new America began: I was at a graduation ceremony at a public high school in New Jersey. It was 1971 or 1972. One by one a stream of black-robed students walked across the stage and received their diplomas. And a pretty young girl with red hair, big under her graduation gown, walked up to receive hers. The auditorium stood up and applauded. I looked at my sister: “She’s going to have a baby.”

The girl was eight months pregnant and had had the courage to go through with her pregnancy and take her finals and finish school despite society’s disapproval.

But: Society wasn’t disapproving. It was applauding. Applause is a right and generous response for a young girl with grit and heart. And yet, in the sound of that applause I heard a wall falling, a thousand-year wall, a wall of sanctions that said: We as a society do not approve of teenaged unwed motherhood because it is not good for the child, not good for the mother and not good for us.

The old America had a delicate sense of the difference between the general (“We disapprove”) and the particular (Let’s go help her”). We had the moral self-confidence to sustain the paradox, to sustain the distance between “official” disapproval and “unofficial” succor. The old America would not have applauded the girl in the big graduation gown, but some of its individuals would have helped her not only materially but with some measure of emotional support. We don’t so much anymore. For all our tolerance and talk we don’t show much love to what used to be called girls in trouble. As we’ve gotten more open-minded we’ve gotten more closed-hearted.

Message to society: What you applaud, you encourage. And: Watch out what you celebrate.

The author of those words is Peggy Noonan. She published them in, get this, 1992. Some things have gotten better over the last 26 years. For example, when she published this, David Dinkins was mayor of her town, New York City, and the city would record just over 2,000 homicides. Know how many the city recorded last year, 25 years after the column was published? Only 290.  Progress is real!

On the other hand, I can’t get out of my head the words spoken to me by a professor at an Evangelical Christian college. Speaking about the student body, which is predominantly white, he told me that he didn’t think most of them would ever be able to form stable families. I was shocked by this.These were not kids from the blighted projects or wretched rural trailer parks. Why not? I asked.

He said, “Because they have never seen it done.”

We live in a society in which the moral code that we applaud and the people we celebrate all say: Take the marshmallow now, and don’t worry about the future. This is going to cost us.

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Teams spent record $289 million on draft picks

The woman whose claims about Bill Cosby drugging and molesting her led to the comedian’s conviction on sexual assault charges is speaking out in public for the first time. The woman whose claims about Bill Cosby drugging and molesting her led to the comedian’s conviction on sexual assault charges is speaking out in public for the first time.

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Ben Shapiro: The Suicide of Europe

On Friday, the British police arrested Tommy Robinson, founder and former leader of the English Defence League, a far-right anti-Islam group. Robinson is a controversial character, to be sure, a sort of Milo Yiannopoulos lite. His chief focus is on the threat of radical Islam, which he believes threatens the integrity of the British system.

You don’t have to like Robinson. But whatever you think of him, his arrest is absurd by any measure. You see, Robinson was arrested for standing outside a court building and reporting on a trial involving the alleged grooming of young girls for sexual assault by radical Muslims.

Now, what would be illegal about that, you ask? It turns out that Robinson was given a suspended sentence last year for filming outside another court building, where a trial for alleged gang rape by radical Muslims was taking place. He wasn’t inside the courtroom. Nonetheless, the judge believed he was somehow biasing the jurors. According to the judge, Robinson was sentenced thanks to “pejorative language which prejudges the case, and it is language and reporting … that could have had the effect of substantially derailing the trial.”

This time, Robinson was again arrested for prejudicing a case, only he wasn’t inside the court building. He was outside. And the media were originally banned from reporting on his arrest so that his trial wouldn’t be biased. In other words, Britain has now effectively banned reporting that actually mentions the Islamic nature of criminal defendants for fear of stirring up bigotry — and has banned reporting on reporting on such defendants. It’s an infinite regress of suicidal political correctness.

But at least the Europeans have their priorities straight: While it’s perfectly legal to lock up a provocateur covering a trial involving Muslims, the European Union is now considering a ban on products like cotton buds, straws and other plastics for fear of marine litter. And just as importantly, it’s now perfectly legal to kill unborn children again in Ireland, where voters — with the help of a cheering press — decided to lift the ban on abortions until the 20th week, condemning thousands of children to death.

This is how the West dies: with a tut-tut, not with a bang. The same civilization that sees it as a fundamental right to kill a child in the womb thinks it is utterly out of bounds to film outside a trial involving the abuse of children, so long as the defendants are radical Muslims. The Europeans have elevated the right to not be offended above the right to life; they’ve elevated the right to not be offended above the right to free speech, all in the name of some utopian vision of a society without standards.

Discarding those standards was supposed to make Europeans more free; it was supposed to allow Europeans to feel more comfortable. But the sad truth is that no society exists without certain standards and Europe has a new standard: enforcement of its “tolerance” via jail sentence, combined with tolerance of multiculturalism that sees tolerance itself as a Trojan horse. The notion of individual rights sprang from European soil. Now they’re beginning to die there.

PHOTO: Ben Shapiro speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Is it Possible to Know Goodness without European History?

It’s an often repeated and battled about question for young people, and those young of mind. “Is it possible to be good without God?” And its various iterations.

Here Judeo-Boomer Dennis Prager demonstrates his 115 IQ with an infographic worthy of a Jordan Peterson debate. By the way, if you intend to start a YouTube channel, I suggest you watch as much PragerU as you can. His audience is mostly boomers, the content is easy to parrot, and if you are young, female, and remotely good looking you’ll get both the beta bucks and the boomertards who publicly claim they wish their daughters had role models like you, while watching for the YouTube alert to hope they can add something new to the yank bank.

And If you want to seem edgy forget Patreon and go MakerSupport (which is a good site, by the way, without sarcasm). For a conservative, MakerSupport it will make you seem too edgy for Patreon. If you want to be more mainstream, Patreon is safe as is pretty much everything else deplatforming the real right these days. Hell even Candace “I found Reagan on the road to Damascus” Owens got a public apology from Jack Dorsey for calling her “far-right”.

Here is the answer from a non-militant nearly life-long atheist: Yes. Yes, you can be good without God; yes, even if God does not exist, murder is (still) wrong.

I was an atheist for 37ish years and I was, for the most part, a pretty good person. This is typically a Prager-tier question to atheists in a futile display of boomer-autism to convince young people who have rejected by stench if not logic and history the contemporary religious scene that passes for “Judeo-Christianity.”

Most of my former fellow atheists were atheists because they didn’t like Christianity. I don’t blame them. I don’t like it either. I grew up around Evangelicals who genuinely believed things (frequent but not universal among them) such as:

  1. Scientists are lying about the age of the Earth, the Great Flood, the discovery of certain archaeological sites whose existence would conclusively prove not only the Bible but the Evangelical version. Some Evangelicals believe that dinosaurs were put there by the devil to confuse man.
  2. Scientists lie about stuff all the time, I trained in Geophysics as an undergrad and once had a professor tell me to pretend a mountain didn’t exist so my gravity data would match up with the model we were using. Think about that the next time Bill Nye talks about “climate change models”.
  3. Jews are God’s chosen people and the reason they keep getting kicked out of — well, everywhere they’ve ever been — is because of anti-semitism. I’ve heard Evangelicucks say “Jews are God’s barometer for evil. If someone like Hitler hates God’s chosen people, he hates, God and therefore goodness.” That’s some Hagee-tier rationalization going on there guys. Even if you believe Jews are God’s chosenites, does it follow that it’s always the other guys fault you get kicked out? If a woman goes on 109 dates with 109 guys and no one calls her back, the common denominator is her.
  4. Complex eschatology such as dispensationalism, millennialism, pre-millennial/post-millennial dispensationalism, the two witnesses being stuck down in Jerusalem, and “Biblical prophecy” coming to fulfillment in our lifetimes because Izrul, as John Hagee pronounces it.

Have some of Pastor Hagee at his absolute most Judeo-Boomer:

They really believe this stuff. He is not a fringe nut among American Christians.

In reality the primary cause of the rise of secularism among the west isn’t any goofy belief though, or iron clad paradox seen on Reddit or a logical presentation of science YouTube Skeptic.™ It’s the fact that the churches don’t actually mean anything anymore. Churches are not a home for strength and men you respect. They are the home of the concessionist. They are the place you go for warm feelings of childhood.

In their desire to shield their children (and let’s just be honest here, many of these Christian men, raised in the church and on the internet, are rather uncomfortable with physical sex as well) from “the world” they have constructed a sterile cultural bubble where Christians cannot survive.

When gay marriage was legalized in the US several years ago, one of my best friends, a devout memeer of his Baptist Church, and a layman who often helped out with things needing to be done, turned to me — the secular, single man, who enjoys amusing my married friends with disturbing stories of debauchery — turned to me and said, “I told pastor, that if he wanted to marry a gay couple in our church, I’d stand by him. I’d be proud to have a gay family member.”

Christians today lead nothing, they follow Caesar. They follow, and have followed for a very long time, because they are afraid of “the world” which does not belong to God. In fact, many of my Christian friends like to blame Hollywood, or the MSM, or celebrities, or politicians, academia, really anything they can, for the problems facing the country and the west.

They’ll blame everyone but the one group responsible: themselves.

In the 1970s Christian boomers retreated from the culture and left it to young Marxist culture-makers to bastardize and darken everything good about American and European culture. The fruits of those seeds were reaped in the 90s when The Ellen Show aired TV’s first lesbian kiss, when women began appearing in combat roles in action films, when the zeitgeist turned to feminism as cool. I remember watching MTV play women artists back to back to back to back all weekend one time to prove to radio programmers you could make money off female artists.

As if women had never sung before. But in the 90s my generation witnessed as our classmates: historical illiteracy and professional oppression were the parents of a little mulatto baby named Social “historical oppression” Justice. She has an even more temperamental brother coming of age called “Corporate Social Responsibility” watch out for that ingrate. He’s what happens when HR gets a Six-Sigma black belt.

Back to the question of goodness. We today debate goodness and morality not as if they were subjective. But as if they were a figment of the imagination of Descartes’ demon. Pascal’s Wager once made sense because the worldview of the people to whom he was speaking knew the difference between love and happiness. Today, we seem to have two categories of words related to morality: words that make GoodFeels and words that make BadFeels.

Ask an atheist if it’s possible to be “Good without God” and you’ll usually get snark, or if the atheist is out of college, an eye-roll and an “of course it is: is am good.”

But rather than ask the basic question “Good without God” why not ask a question that rebukes Descartes’ demonic scenario which can only be answered by the very Enlightened cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). And do not apply Pascal’s Wager to people who would rather take ten dollars today than twenty tomorrow. Just watch this regular blonde woman say she would change her opinion on weather preference for $55 US!

Religion today is fungible. It means little because it is a social club one joins to get ahead in life or to have people like yourself with whom to associate. It has no moral foundation.

But it once did.

So rather than address the tired question, “Can you be good without God,” ask, “Is it possible to know if another person is good without a socially agreed upon set of values?”

In more elegant terms: If one claims, “Man can be good without God” simply reply, “But how would you know if he is good without the reality of asking such a question in the shadow of more than a thousand years of European Civilization?”

Read more from Amerika…

How to travel the world with 2 little kids: Teach them that every step counts

Raj Gill

Raj Gill

Quitting your job and selling your house and all of your possessions to travel the world is something many people find themselves daydreaming about when they feel their lives have fallen into a state of predictable motion. A fair number of rather reasonable arguments typically dissuade most people from pursuing the notion.

But the feeling of being an alien in a foreign land is intoxicating. I often thought of leaving California behind and breaking with my routine to embrace the unknown and in so doing becoming an alien to everything, including myself. The fire continued to rage in my mind, and when I spoke to my partner about it, I learned that the same fire burned inside her as well. Within two months, we sold our house, all of our belongings, quit our jobs and bought four one way tickets to Australia; two adults and two children.

I felt embarrassed telling my friends and family about our decision and worried that it would make me seem irresponsible. The idea of leaving a great job and uprooting our family was met with as much judgmental condemnation as one would get for choosing to drink or gamble with abandon. I avoided speaking of our intentions again until we were just about to board a plane that would take us away from California. I updated my status online that described our exodus, and with 40-liter backpacks strapped on our respective backs, our three-year-old boy gripping tightly to my hand and our five-year-old boy gripping tightly to my partner’s, we boarded the plane and never looked back.

We spent the summer in Australia, surfing Bondi Beach, walking Graffiti Alley in Melbourne and sunbathing along the Sunshine Coast. After three months, we had exhausted the amount of time we were permitted on our Australian visas. With summer transitioning to fall, we set our sights on New Zealand.

Much of our time in our previous life was spent losing ourselves in Yosemite and Lassen National Parks or trail running the Marin Headlands and Point Reyes. We often hiked through the pine forests of Tahoe or the redwood forests nestled behind the Mendocino coastline. We made a pact before the trip that this particular quality of our lives would travel along with us, and we did just what most outdoor adventurers would do upon landing in Nelson airport: salivated at the thought of conquering the great tracks of New Zealand’s South Island.

Our first hike with the boys began with exploring a pocket of nestled beauty called the Abel Tasman, located on the northeast coastline of the South Island. We took a water taxi that dropped us off on a small exposed sandbar in an estuary that existed for only a few hours, expanding as quickly as the tide receded into the Tasman Bay and disappearing upon its return. We ferried the boys across one at a time on our backs, moving slowly through the surprisingly crisp, knee-deep water that bridged the exposed and isolated raft of yellow sand to the thin Tasman coastline.

We approached this tramp with our boys with a sink or swim attitude, wholly accepting our punishment of having to carry them on our backs should they not rise to the challenge. Our parenting style had always differed from those in the community we left a few months prior. We allow them to fall and scrape their knees, to make their own mistakes, to concede defeat in the face of a valiant effort. We pushed them to try before they could accept their own presumed limitations. My partner and I controlled the wind that passed across their boughs in a manner meant to strengthen their branches but not break them. They would, more often than not, surprise themselves upon rising up and working through their own challenges.

We assumed the 22-kilometer hike would be a pretty strong gust, but to our surprise, we found that the adults were trying to keep pace with the boys. We were evidently the weak links in the chain. Was it their center of gravity that made tramping come more easily to them or the efficiencies of their metabolic engine that constantly turns over calories for energy like a Ferrari turns petrol into horsepower? Their enthusiasm and seemingly endless supply of energy that remained, even after concluding the day-long tramp with burgers at The Fat Tui, motivated us to tramp progressively longer and more difficult terrain. Soon we felt confident in our plan of tramping across New Zealand with our sights set on accomplishing an expert-level overnight hike up Mt. Robert to the Angelus Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park.
* * *
I peered across the shifter to my partner and said, “There’s only one direction we can go and that’s forward.” We were all alone on the one-way road that hugged Mount Robert. Just ahead of us, the gravel gave way to mud, stretching a quarter mile ahead of us. I scanned ahead and saw that the first half of the road had a forgiving upward slope, but then a handful of orange traffic cones were scattered in front of a section of road that appeared to go vertical. I slammed the shifter into first gear, revved the engine of the rented Honda Fit and held my breath until we reached the other side. My quads were on fire from riding the clutch while lifting my body above my seat to be able to see the road. When we summited past the cones and fell back onto level and graveled road, I turned to my partner and saw her hands wrapped white knuckled around the “Oh Shit Handle” that had been previously dangling freely just above her head.

“It wasn’t that bad,” I said as her dilated pupils relaxed and her eyes rolled in that special way that lets me know I have no idea what I am talking about.

After we parked, we collected our gear and tried to focus on the moment instead of on what lay ahead of us: 24 kilometers over 36 hours. We moved quickly through the small section of beech forest that separated the car park and the start of the aptly named Pinchgut Track. A thick canopy of beech trees retained the water in the air, humidifying the organic plumes of earthy aromatics emanating from the detritus scattered across the forest floor. Microbeads of water sat atop green carpets of moss blanketing the decaying stumps and fallen branches lining the trail.

Exposed tree roots snagged the boys’ boots more times than I could count. My shoulder ached from having to reach my arm out quickly and grip whatever fabric I could to prevent the boys from falling flat on their faces several times, so I called an impromptu family meeting. My partner and I established a rule that we have repeated on every hike since and have now woven into the philosophy we teach the boys: Every step matters, every step is important, every step counts, and how you take that step directly affects the outcome of how you move forward towards the next one. A rock is a rock, whether it’s in the car park, on the trail, in a river crossing or on top of a mountain, but the consequences of tripping over it can vary depending on the circumstance, from insignificant to deadly.

The mid-morning sun began to penetrate the canopy ahead of us, revealing the exposed path leading us to the start of the serial switchbacks that would carry us up 800 meters over 90 minutes. Under our boots, soft earth turned into coarse and dry gravel. The flora transitioned from green ferns to mountain wildflowers and the clear blue sky stretched out towards infinity overhead. Purple and red foxgloves began to fill the empty spaces along the trail.

As we made our ascent, Lake Rotoiti’s blue expanse beckoned us, offering up its cold and crisp waters to rinse the sweat off our skin and resolve the dryness in our throats. My muscles began to burn again. The day hikers that had passed us expanded their distance, while the ones we had previously passed were reducing it. This expansion and contraction between the groups persisted, and in this way, we all accordioned our way up the mountain.

We reached the start of the Robert Ridge Track with another shift in climate and terrain. The wind gusts were strong atop the ridge, and with our guts pinched from the switchbacks, the cold and crisp alpine air cooled us down while also taking some of the weight off our tired legs as it pushed against our backs. We reached the Relax Shelter and exchanged pleasantries with day hikers taking a break before heading back down Paddy’s Track on the opposite side of the ridge. Children on the ridge, we grew to learn, were an unusual sight, given the reactions we received. Responses were split between admiring the boys’ courage (and our patience) and skeptical optimism.

We split from the group and continued along the ridge, not knowing that that would be the last time we would see another hiker while on the ridge. After a few hours, the trail grew narrow and slowly began to recede into the mountain beneath us. The sky continued to reflect the blue from Lake Rotoiti; however, quickly shifting light grey clouds could be seen swirling further up the ridge, waiting for our arrival. We were approaching the Julius Summit, nearly 1,800 meters above sea level, when a drop in pressure and temperature caused the water in the air to suddenly condense all around us. We stopped and became mesmerized at witnessing the birth of a cloud. A wisp of white candy floss suddenly materialized from nothing, swirling in a funnel created by two disparate pressures colliding in a moment. The nascent tuft of white air released and drifted like a leaf trapped in a whirlpool, fixed in constant motion, until its mass grew large enough to be ejected from the turbulent air.

After stopping for lunch to let rain pass ahead, we pressed on. The clouds gathered and dispersed for several kilometers, occasionally releasing their contents upon us but never enough to hinder our momentum. We summited the mountain and found being positioned above everything around us, including the clouds, allowed the trail markers to be easily visible as we scanned ahead. The ridge began to slope downward and our legs felt the relief of not having to work as hard; however, the recent rains made our descent more difficult than previously presumed.

Over the next kilometer, I realized the risk my partner and I took in bringing the boys on the tramp. I accepted my punishment by moving a few meters ahead, releasing my pack from my back, then returning back to the boys in order to ferry them one at a time across the difficult and dangerous terrain, only to collect my pack and start all over again at the next sign of apparent risk. We moved in this way until we reached an expansive scree field that buried several trail markers in its path. I turned to my partner and we discussed the risks of moving forward or turning back. Having already experienced the difficult terrain as I ferried the boys down the wet cliffside, I was worried how much more difficult it would be to repeat it while working against gravity. On the other hand, the terrain ahead of us was unknown, offering a variety of unknown possibilities. “A rock is a rock,” we reminded ourselves.

This fractured landscape wouldn’t let me move ahead and ferry the boys across it as I had before. We had to move slowly, as a unit, across the scree field, lifting the boys to rocks they couldn’t climb onto and holding their hands as they jumped down from ones they could. To the boys, it was fun to rock climb. But we had not come across another human since we started on the ridge. The boys didn’t realize that if something happened, a response would not be immediate, but we did. To compound our worry, the sun seemed to drop faster across the horizon than our descent on the cliff, and should another scree field lie further ahead on our path, we would have to cross it in the dark.

The mantra that we established at the start of our tramp carried us across without incident. We breathed a sigh of relief and silently hoped that we wouldn’t need to cross another scree field on our path to the hut. The boys, on the other hand, were excited at the prospect of scrambling across another. In the end, we ended up going past several more, and fortunately they were only a few meters across. We didn’t hesitate when we scanned ahead to find boulders had collapsed the trail ahead of us; we were still riding off the adrenaline from having successfully traversed what ended up to be the longest and most difficult scree field on the ridge. We discovered that this irregular trail — solid ground with sections of scree intermixed — carried a rhythm in its terrain. We glided swiftly across the wet rock and loose gravel as our steps harmonized to it, moving back up the ridge and arriving at the top of the valley as twilight fell across our shoulders.

When the boys asked how much further until we arrived to the hut, I lied. “It’s just passed the next trail marker,” I replied, buying us a few hundred meters of silence before they asked again. “I meant to say past the next trail marker . . . or the one after that,” I said, all the while, secretly wishing that my non-answer was true. My stalling wouldn’t last, and their motivation could dissipate when they realized I had no idea how much further until we arrived at the hut.

We tramped with the clouds above our heads and below our feet, and fortunately, everything at eye level was clear, albeit damp. We stopped as a gust of wind pushed us off the trail, and after allowing it to pass, we stepped back onto the ridge and saw that the wind pushed the clouds away from the valley to the east, exposing a series of ponds spread across the mountain. It was getting darker. Although it was becoming more difficult to see the worry on my partner’s face, I could feel it radiate off of her body. What was even more troubling was the sudden awareness of the boys’ silence; there were no more questions about when we would arrive, no brotherly banter, just silence and their pace had slowed.

The boys were tired and needed to take a break. The weight on my shoulders grew heavier. The air was transitioning from dark blue to purple, and I knew that taking a break would all but ensure we would be tramping in the dark. I sprinted into the fog to scout ahead, leaving my pack behind.

I returned in a few short minutes with a smile from ear to ear. I threw my pack over one shoulder and instructed the boys to get up and muster as much courage and energy as they could because the hut was in the valley just below us. A hundred or so meters ahead of us was the trail that led down into the valley. As we sprinted towards the branch, the sky opened up, basking us in a light that had previously fallen beneath the top of the alpine ridge. The air quickly transitioned from purple to blue carried by strands of yellow that shimmered off Lake Angelus and poured over the edges of the hills that bordered the valley. We ran to the edge of the ridge and peered down over the valley below; the momentary silence was broken by laughter coming from the boys.

“Every step counts,” I said, as we broke from the ridge and moved down the loose gravel trail that would lead us to shelter.

Tired, hungry and cold, but filled with relief, we slowed our pace, knowing there was nothing more to worry about beyond securing a bunk space. I looked up and saw the yellow lights growing bigger and brighter the closer we got to the hut. The light began to leak from the windows and illuminate the porch, then the wire boot brush on the ground next to the steps to the deck, then the last few meters of the trail. The dark receded to reveal a dozen smiling faces watching our every step as we drew closer to them. I heard the people clapping as the yellow light illuminated the face of my youngest and then his brother. The boys stopped, unsure of what was happening, and looked back at us with both confusion and surprise in their smiles.
* * *
The next morning, we joined a table of fellow hikers for breakfast. The boys spoke of their courage across the wet scree and informed the table of our mantra, “Every step counts.” Over the course of the next half hour, the hut began to empty. Our brief respite needed to come to an end.

We took the track down the mountainside, winding back and forth across several arteries flowing with water; our socks that had dried overnight were drenched within the first kilometer. We followed the water through mud and marshland, ferrying the boys across rushing streams and carrying them over my head across waist deep rivers until the path brought us to the edge of the beech forest that we started from. The forest canopy brought respite from an unrelenting midday sun but blanketed the remainder of the trail in a persistent twilight.

As we passed another kilometer deeper into the forest, the temperature began to drop and the boys began asking how much longer again. Our youngest was becoming more vocal with his narrative of the status of his body and mind. We encouraged them to keep moving by distracting them with topics in mammalian and plant biology, zoology, philosophy and English. This worked for a spell, until the discussion began to grow exponentially more complex with every “but why?”

I could hear whimpers from our youngest. I stopped to lean down and asked him if he was OK, if he needed to be picked up. He said he did, that his legs hurt, but he thought he would be able to continue on if he only had his “Buggies” — two ladybug snuggle toys he has slept with every night of his life. We carried our sleeping bags, food and water on our backs; “Buggies” had been deemed nonessential and remained behind in the car.

Before starting the hike, my partner and I agreed that if the boys could no longer go on of their own free will, we would accommodate their needs, either by picking them up or ending the tramp and turning back around. We wanted them to hit their wall, feel their boughs creak and bend, and let them decide for themselves. My son brought something different to the table: a quid pro quo. I wondered how far he would be willing to take it. We decided that my eldest and I would sprint ahead until we reach the car, drop our gear off and retrieve the Buggies to motivate him to finish the tramp.

I reminded my eldest son of our mantra: “Every step counts.” We took a deep breath and started sprinting up the trail while my partner kept a walking pace with our youngest. We ran two kilometers up through the forest, jumping over rocks and exposed roots that crossed our path, until reaching the car park and finding leaf litter blanketing our rental car. I threw my pack in the trunk and opened the back door, finding Buggies next to a half-eaten leftover carrot cake in the rear cup holder. I grabbed Buggies, stole a bite of cake and handed the rest to my son. “Don’t tell your brother we ate his cake.”

We ran down the path, two plush ladybugs in hand, and I trusted my eldest to keep his own pace as I began to sprint back to meet the others. Only a kilometer away from the car park, my youngest son dropped my partner’s hand and began screaming and crying with joy while running towards his long lost friends. After he settled down, he kept repeating, “I can do this now, I can do this now.” He squeezed one bug in each hand and picked up his pace as he started to move up the path. The three of us continued, collecting our eldest son along the way. The boys fell silent; they were focused on finishing now. My partner and I were silent too, astonished at the resolve our boys displayed. We reached the car park and turned back towards the forest, sharing a collective sigh of relief and pride. With little fanfare, we returned to the car, dropped it in gear and slowly drove past the head of the trail we had conquered, the momentary silence broken by a voice from the backseat: “Hey, where’s my cake?”

Read more from Salon.com…

Almost all species on Earth today came into being at about the same time, scientific study declares

What David Thaler of the University of Basel in Switzerland said about a scientific study he co-authored — and that was just published by journal Human Evolution — underscores how shocking his findings were even to him.

“This conclusion is very surprising,” he told Agence France-Presse, “and I fought against it as hard as I could.”

What’s so surprising?

Thaler and his co-author Mark Stoeckle of the Rockefeller University in New York discovered that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being at roughly the same time — 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, AFP reported.

In other words, 90 percent of animal life — genetically speaking — is about the same age, the outlet noted.

Furthermore, the pair’s study turns on its head the long-held notion that species with large populations spread over the globe — again, humans, for example — will become more genetically diverse over time, AFP said.

But Stoeckle told the outlet that’s not the case, noting that animal genetic diversity is generally “about the same.”

It’s all in DNA ‘barcodes’

The scientists analyzed DNA “barcodes” across 100,000 species and found a sign that showed almost all animals emerged about the same time as humans, AFP reported.

More from the outlet:

What they saw was a lack of variation in so-called “neutral” mutations, which are the slight changes in DNA across generations that neither help nor hurt an individual’s chances of survival.

In other words, they were irrelevant in terms of the natural and sexual drivers of evolution.

How similar or not these “neutral” mutations are to each other is like tree rings — they reveal the approximate age of a species.

Which brings us back to our question: why did the overwhelming majority of species in existence today emerge at about the same time?

Some theories are offered (but not the one you’re probably thinking)

Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment at the Rockefeller University, told AFP that environmental trauma is one possibility.

“Viruses, ice ages, successful new competitors, loss of prey — all these may cause periods when the population of an animal drops sharply,” he told the outlet in reference to the study. “In these periods, it is easier for a genetic innovation to sweep the population and contribute to the emergence of a new species.”

Stoeckle offered to AFP that “the simplest interpretation is that life is always evolving. It is more likely that — at all times in evolution — the animals alive at that point arose relatively recently.”

More from the outlet:

In this view, a species only lasts a certain amount of time before it either evolves into something new or goes extinct.

And yet — another unexpected finding from the study — species have very clear genetic boundaries, and there’s nothing much in between.

“If individuals are stars, then species are galaxies,” said Thaler. “They are compact clusters in the vastness of empty sequence space.”

The absence of “in-between” species is something that also perplexed Darwin, he said.

Read more from The Blaze…