site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of September 12, 2022

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

40
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

I'm dipping in and out of watching the live coverage of the death of the Queen of England, currently the coverage of the procession of the queen's body to the cathedral in Edinburgh, and addressing Charles as King. Peace to the woman, she's dead now, and they are no longer claiming rights to my fealty, so let them rule their own lands and good luck to them.

Now, royal coverage brings out the professional royal watchers/specialists in royal affairs for such coverage, and you have to expect an amount of bootlicking and sycophancy. But what strikes me - and maybe this is because I'm born and reared in the Republic of Ireland - is how tilted all this is towards the English audience. Right now they may have a few Scots on, but the coverage by British media is London-based, and for instance - I've heard an English live commenter burbling on as Charles' plane arrives, in an unmistakably RP accent with a posh tinge, about the Royal Standard of Scotland that is flying on the car awaiting to transport him that is "an emphasis on the descent of the king, ultimately back to King Robert the Bruce and the ancient lines of the Picts and Scots".

To which the only possible answer is: my arse it is. The name of the present royal House is Mountbatten-Windsor, because they had to change it from Battenburg due to anti-German sentiment from the First and Second World Wars. But again, this is all slanted towards an English viewership, eliding over the history between Scotland and England, and trying to pretend that no, of course all the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom are every bit as important as England.

Tell me again where he will be conducting his reign from? It's not Edinburgh, that's for sure.

As with this announcement of William now taking on the titles Charles bore: Duke of Cornwall. Prince of Wales. Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. The titles of conquered nations, assumed and folded into the English rulership. A reminder as to who is the top dog in this "United" Kingdom.

England has about ten times the population of Scotland, so I'm not seeing anything very surprising there.

Oh it's not surprising, but the unctuous attempts to cover over that this is, in effect, an English king with no ties to Scotland beyond "my great-great-great-grandfather purchased and lived in a house here which we visit at times because we like the shooting and the scenery" by evoking Robert the Bruce and the Picts fool nobody. It's the level of royal arse-licking by toadies that you have to expect at times like this one.

Literally everything on TV is unbelievably London-biased. You've not caught onto anything new. Every other region of England feels this just as keenly as the Scots and Welsh. We are not represented by London either, and programming/advertising that uses its demographics feels just as alien to us. So don't try and divide this along those lines.

The act of the union invited a penniless and embarrassed Scotland, fresh off the back of their failed attempt at colonialism, to put a Scottish King on the throne of England. To the extent that you are moaning about the provenance of the royals, that you skate over this in such a cavalier way is very revealing of the intent of this post, and the particular basket of chips on your shoulder.

As an aside, I often notice this continual reference to the German origin of the royal family comes up a lot from people who would otherwise insist that second-generation immigrants are just as British as those who can trace their lines back hundreds of years. The exception, as ever, only seems to be made for targets of personal dislike.

If Scotland is a conquered nation, a notion that it completely and totally laughable, then we should all be so lucky as to be conquered, and become the beneficiaries of millions and millions of pounds of transfer from our supposed oppressors.

The act of the union invited a penniless and embarrassed Scotland, fresh off the back of their failed attempt at colonialism, to put a Scottish King on the throne of England.

Not as I understand it - there was already a (partially-)Scottish king on the throne of England, and had been for over a century. What happened in 1707 was that the Scottish elites were bailed out financially for the Darien disaster in exchange for agreeing to merge the Scottish and English parliaments, creating a single London-based government for both countries.

failed attempt at colonialism

Ouch, right on the Darién Gap, a region tough enough to have no roads running through it to this very day? Thank you for filling in this (Darién) gap in my knowledge.

If Scotland is a conquered nation, a notion that it completely and totally laughable, then we should all be so lucky as to be conquered, and become the beneficiaries of millions and millions of pounds of transfer from our supposed oppressors.

Sure, it beats the hell out of the alternative, but receiving an influx of subsidies doesn't really do that much to dull the resentment for rule-by-outsider. Speaking as someone that originally hails from a non-city part of the American state of New York, no amount of "well ackshually New York City sends you tax dollars" reduced our dislike for having laws created for metropolis applied to our irrelevant backwater. There would have been a pretty strong consensus for rejecting the bribe if it also came with the removal of onerous legislation.

I don't know the Scotland-England political dynamics to have any idea if that maps on at all, I'm just saying that the residents of a region that receives government subsidies will not necessarily reflect on this as being a fortunate arrangement.

It does map, and it also maps onto the rest of England that isn't London, but there are a few wrinkles with the Scots that make it all the funnier.

Firstly, that the loudest online ScotNats tend to also be fierce EUrophiles, and are so mad that the UK as a whole chose to leave the EU (to which it was a net contributor) that they want to leave the UK (from which they are a net beneficiary). That the relative damage they would do to their economy would be multiples of what the UK faced when leaving the EU is never addressed.

In addition to that, ScotNats like to think of themselves as uniquely tolerant and progressive, especially in comparison to England, despite being 96% white and until recently, only having a single city accept refugees (until they were called out on it)... not that refugees want to go there anyway. Much is made of how progressive an indy Scotland would become, but the question of how this would be funded remains conspicuously unanswered by nationalists -- as over 60% of their economy depends on trade with the rest of the UK, in addition to their received welfare via the Barnett Formula.

I fully accept that it might not calm the underlying feelings, but at some point one would hope pragmatism must prevail. I don't really want a failed state next door either, to be honest.

Back her up there, sunshine. It wasn't the Act of Union that put a Scottish king on the throne, that was the Tudors failure to have a male heir that lived long enough to have kids of his own. Due to Elizabeth finally dying without issue, the nearest heir was her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England, and ruled as James VI and I, uniting the crowns of Scotland and England.

England had often warred with Scotland and constantly tried encroaching on its territory. This was a peaceful annexation, since it was England that was now the seat of monarchy for both nations. A United Kingdom did not formally come into existence, however, until 1707 despite the union of the crowns: those Acts created the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Ireland was not roped in until the Act of Union of 1801 which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Your current state of "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" came about as a result of the partition of Ireland

As for the rest of it, I don't care if they're British, German, or Martians, just so long as they acknowledge they have no right (and never had any right, save that of conquest) of claiming sovereignty over my nation. My grandmother was born a subject of Queen Victoria. I was born a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. Let Charles be king of England, and indeed Scotland and Wales (that is up to the Scots and Welsh, if ever they do gain independence, if they want the monarch to be head of state as with the Commonwealth). But he's not king of Ireland, and he damn well is not a descendant of Pictish kings. He'd have better right to claim German territories via his great-great-great-grandfather Albert; after all, the English long maintained romantic claims to territories not theirs (such as France) because a distant ancestor had been a noble there.

Is he claiming to be king of all Ireland? Did the commentator specifically make a false claim regarding the ethnicity of his ancestors?

Given that Charles isn't claiming to be king of Ireland, what are you even asking for? A public ceremony where he shouts "I'm not king of Ireland! I'm not king of Ireland!"?

He'd have better right to claim German territories via his great-great-great-grandfather Albert; after all, the English long maintained romantic claims to territories not theirs (such as France) because a distant ancestor had been a noble there.

King Charles III is actually one of the many descendants of Brian Boru. If we're going by descent, he may actually (I don't know much about royal lineages) have more of a claim to Ireland than he does the Pictish lands.

The Hanovers are also descendants of Elizabeth Stuart -- the line from there to the ancient Scottish Kings is (ironically) at least as direct as to the Anglo-Saxons -- it's the (French) Normans that were mostly cut out by the failure of the Tudors to reproduce.

You missed a juicy detail: the house was called Saxe-Coburg und Gotha which became extra awkward when the German Empire was running a bomber called a Gotha that was bombing london. So they made up Windsor.

Yeah, all the jokes about them being German do have a point. They are much more of a mixed bag than "can trace his descent back to the Picts". His father was a member of the deposed Greek royal family and considered himself Danish. Because royalty has to marry royalty, most of the royal houses of Europe have intermarried over the centuries. There isn't a 'pure' British or Dutch or Spanish lineage, there is just the legal justification for why X is heir to the throne.

Horrible Histories has the right of it.

Advocacy for marginalized European identities can be in a bit of an awkward position, as the most-aligned general philosophical current available to tap into to advocate for the rights of marginalized identities tends to be really universalist. I think a majority of people (at least outside Scotland - and absolutely not counting you, if you are Deiseach as I think you are) who would express concern about Scottish underrepresentation might also have a hard time defining "Scot" as anything other than "person who happens to live in Scotland," at which point the whole thing would seem pretty arbitrary.

In Hasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush With Public Money: New York’s Hasidic Jewish religious schools have benefited from $1 billion in government funding in the last four years but are unaccountable to outside oversight.

The New York Times has an expose on how ultra-orthodox Jews in NYC are funneling billions in public money for use in their yeshivas. Students are barely taught how to read and write in English (as an example, one couldn't spell "America") and the state requirements are effectively optional or used as a study hall.

The schools appear to be operating in violation of state laws that guarantee children an adequate education. Even so, The Times found, the Hasidic boys’ schools have found ways of tapping into enormous sums of government money, collecting more than $1 billion in the past four years alone.

Only nine schools in the state had less than 1 percent of students testing at grade level in 2019, the last year for which full data was available. All of them were Hasidic boys’ schools.

The boys’ schools cram in secular studies only after a full day of religious lessons. Most offer reading and math just four days a week, often for 90 minutes a day, and only for children between the ages of 8 and 12. Some discourage further secular study at home. “No English books whatsoever,” one school’s rule book warns.

Their leaders, the grand rabbis, wield significant power, and breaking the rules they set can carry serious consequences. That point was underscored by the more than 50 current Hasidic community members who spoke to The Times only on condition of anonymity, for fear of being exiled and barred from seeing family and friends.

Another former teacher provided hundreds of pages of work sheets from the past five years that showed that 12-year-olds — in their last year of English instruction — could not spell words like “cold” and “America.”

Tax dollars are not supposed to go toward religious education. But public agencies pay private schools to comply with government mandates and manage social services. Hasidic boys’ yeshivas, like other private schools, access dozens of such programs, collecting money that subsidizes their theological curriculum. The Times identified dozens of federal, state and local programs and analyzed how much they have given to yeshivas, looking most closely at the last year before the pandemic. The analysis showed that New York’s Hasidic boys’ schools received more than $375 million from the government in that period [...] they appear to get more government funding on average than other private schools in the state, including other religious schools, the analysis found. The city voucher program that helps low-income families pay for child care now sends nearly a third of its total assistance to Hasidic neighborhoods

This might come as a shock to those who have no experience with Williamsburg, Monroe, Kiryas Joel, or Monsey in the NY tristate area. There is what can be described as a Hasidic Jewish mafia, that violates norms and laws to obtain hegemony, while siphoning resources from the surrounding communities. Towns are genuinely afraid of encroachment by the Hasids, because they move in en masse and quickly obtain town leadership positions and school board positions. They usually vote to reduce all extra funding, like extra-curricular funding for public schools, because their children only attend yeshivas. They label their homes as temples and don't legally marry their wives to reduce their taxes. Towns in subjected areas will purposely reduce sidewalks or veto funding for sidewalks in order to deter Hasids from moving in. Usually they will have a non-Hasidic lawyers go door to door asking to buy property with cash. They are involved in coordinated welfare schemes yet somehow get sweetheart plea deals of no jail time. Kiryas Joel was once the poorest place in all of America, and yet they have their own private security force that follows non-Hasids in SUVs if you drive through their estates, they have an enormous temple and their own state-funded maternity clinic on site and are able to obtain a unique 30 million dollar water aqueduct project.

I'm happy that the NYT is doing solid journalism on this. I kind of gripe with portraying the young as victims and bringing up the Holocaust, but it is what it is. In my mind, the Hasidic power structure is a legitimate problem that needs to be made sense of, because if there is all this corruption at just 200k members, well, in 60 years it will be 1,600,000. They will comprise a majority of America's Jewish community in a few decades.

Jewish ghettos and disenfranchisement has never, to my knowledge, happened in the USA the way it did in Europe. Open to being proven wrong, but I don’t think it has.

In my mind, the Hasidic power structure is a legitimate problem that needs to be made sense of, because if there is all this corruption at just 200k members, well, in 60 years it will be 1,600,000. They will comprise a majority of America's Jewish community in a few decades.

Corruption? My mother once told me she could never make sense of antisemitism. Every time she asked someone, who expressed an anti-Jewish sentiment, what their beef was, they'd come back with a variation on "they're too in-groupy". To which she'd say "instead of dissing them, why don't you learn from them?"

You're telling me, that not only is there a community successfully resisting the influence of the modern techno-dystopia, but that they're well-disciplined, vibrant, and growing... and you're telling me I'm supposed to be upset???

Why don't you tell me if they have a Paypal, I want to send them money.

Hate the game, not the player? Also, my mom grew up in a time when expressing patriotism was still encouraged, rather than looked down upon.

What’s the name of this game that I’m supposed to hate and stop playing?

Then stop being a white gentile.

Yes, it's corruption. The Hassidic communities (or at least their relation to welfare and government) are basically the answer to the question "What happens if you take a welfare system designed for the utterly dysfunctional, helped along with slightly-above-average social workers, and set upon it a highly intelligent and organized group whose claim to fame is rules-lawyering God?"

I'd watch that sitcom!

To call it corruption, I'd have to see the current regime as legitimate, and at this point, I can't. Maybe there's a more honorable way to escape Leviathan, I guess I do feel more sympathy for the Amish than the Hasids, but I don't feel like I'm in a position to lecture them.

If the laws are poorly written enough that they can be so easily gamed, I don't see how you can blame the minority of a minority of a minority that learned to exploit the system. It's not as if the ultra-orthodox wrote this stuff.

the laws are written with a general assumption of people not being hyper ingroup focused. they figured out that if you outbreed everyone else, do your best to get everyone else to move out, and vote as a block in a democracy, you can live off their tax dollars. that's perfectly blameworthy.

Indeed. There's a reason we call some moves "unsportsmanlike", even if they are entirely allowed within the rules of a proverbial game.

And people tell me that Maurice Samuel is not 100% correct...

the laws are written with a general assumption of people not being hyper ingroup focused.

1: Are they?

2: If they are, isn't that really stupid?

3: How is it a minority's fault that majority politicians are so naive to the world they would assume for the purposes of a law that people don't have ingroups?

The laws are written with extremely unintelligent people in mind as the clients. Writing them in a way to exclude some of these communities would be the same as eliminating them.

I think if non-Hasids tried to copy their playbook, the government would crush them, using every trick in the book, including mass media propaganda campaigns. The Hasids are special because they are run like a fascist micro-nation, yet they have the appearance of the caricature victim of fascism, and play off of religious protections. It's a confluence of factors that allow the Hasids to occupy their uniquely powerful position. I cannot imagine Christians getting away with anything like this, for instance, and it's remarkable that for all the discussion on fascism and religious extremist, no one is overly concerned with a religiously extremist fascist micro-nation in the Big Apple. The Amish, which is the closest Christian equivalent I can think of, do not utilize as much social resources as the Hasids, and are also in the middle of nowhere.

I cannot imagine Christians getting away with anything like this

Yeah, neither can I, but I don't see how that's the fault of Hasids, nor do I see what good is supposed to come out crushing their community. Their culture isn't my cup of tea, and I also have more sympathy for the Amish, but the Hasids are at least Human which is more than I can say for what the regime has in store for us.

it's not 'crushing their community' to stop letting them live off a system that was never meant for their situation.

I don't believe that. This is clearly aimed at disrupting their community, and plenty of people are "living off the system" and they're not using it "how it was meant", can't say I often see the NYT complaining about that.

the Hasids are at least Human which is more than I can say for what the regime has in store for us.

Fearing genocide or dehumanization from "the regime"? You mean Biden and Congressional Dems?

Partisan politics? You insult me.

Okay. Which regime does not consider which people human?

Well, first of all, you misunderstood me. I didn't say the regime does not consider us human, I meant that the plans they have in store for us are inhumane. This is contrasted with the Hasids, who I think are extremely weird, but I consider their lifestyle humane.

As to who has inhumane plans for us... I mean, the whole western world seems pretty set on sticking us into the metaverse, putting us under total surveillance, feeding us bugs, etc.

This is a low quality comment. Please do less of these.

Specifically it is very "boo outgroup" without supporting evidence. And you are not speaking very plainly.

Oh dear... Look, speaking plainly would result in going on a several paragraph long rant about the relationship of the common people to the people in power, it would be off-topic and didn't feel appropriate. And "boo outgroup" will be hard to avoid, when I essentially believe we are under hostile occupation.

Long effort comments are ok, and in fact encouraged. Next time go on the rant. Otherwise don't comment at all. We have rules of engagement here. Earnestly believing that you can break the rules of engagement is not an acceptable reason for breaking them.

it's remarkable that for all the discussion on fascism and religious extremist, no one is overly concerned with a religiously extremist fascist micro-nation in the Big Apple.

...what, apart from the New York Times, in this very article upon discussion?

A single article for an issue that has been blazing for much more than a decade, does not qualify as "overly concerned", when the article focuses on the victimhood of the defecting group. The actual instantiation of a religiously extremist fascist micro-nation does not command one one-thousandth of the attention in mass media as would be expected. The article is largely free from language implication religious extremism and fascism. This is a far cry from the dramatizations of "Christian nationalism" that Biden et al want you to be concerned about.

Well, yes, but this "single article" is a hitpiece in the New York Times. This is Zeus throwing his thunderbolt. This is the new popular consensus written right in front of us. As single articles (that aren't breaking news) go, this is about as consequential as they get.

True, and I do hope the NYT continues this investigative path. All props to the NYT for this great piece.

Simple Googling found more than a few mainstream media articles about problems in Hasidic schools from years past. Here's Newsweek writing about child abuse. NYT has also written about child abuse, as well. Here's CNN about a specific case. Another New York mag, generally about the yeshivas. The Guardian about the issue in UK. I found some other articles that were paywalled well enough that I'm not linking them, including loads by Jewish magazines.

Of course, if your specific concern is whether it's specifically labelled as fascism and religious extremism, I don't believe the word fascism is used, at least - but it's hardly like New York Times has been the first to discuss the issue of Hasidic schools.

There are fundamentalist LDS groups that seem to be pretty similar to the Hasidim, including not officially marrying to avoid taxes and collect additional benefits and using lots of welfare. They are generally located in the middle of nowhere, and there have been efforts to stop them, but as far as I can tell these are mostly limited to prosecution on the basis of serious crimes (like child rape) which I think the Hasidim avoid. Mainline mormons and the mainline LDS church seem to be at best ambivalent about these efforts, and sometimes oppose them. There are some other legal issues that might also apply to the Hasidic communities (like misuse of public funds and effectively having a privatized religious police force) but they might also be better at staying on the "maybe legal" side.

See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-Day_Saints#Short_Creek_raid and the sections immediately below.

The FLDS practices statutory rape as a religious doctrine. They largely get away with this(although Texas has prosecuted a few of their leaders for not marrying their underaged baby mamas), and from a blue tribe perspective they’re fascist Christian microstate. From a red tribe perspective they’re an untrustworthy, heretical, and occasionally murderous cult.

The other major Mormon fundamentalist group, the apostolic United brethren, colours significantly more inside the lines and avoids underaged marriage.

Well, a race to be as ingroupy as possible would be seeking a destination of tribal-warfare all-against-all that I, at least, would prefer to avoid. There's an optimum to be sought somewhere between the two extremes of "pure, featureless, universalism" and "raw, violent, tribalism." Would be nice to have some obvious description of what exactly that point would be, but I don't have one at this moment.

I didn't quote the conversation verbatim, there was an implication there that it's "positive tribalism" we're talking about. Things like "looking out for your own" rather than screwing over the outgroup.

Under conditions of serious scarcity those overlap enough to be functionally indistinguishable.

Well, we're not quite there yet.

Experience in recent years leads me to believe we've got less cushion than I'd like.

But yes, cooperation between otherwise self-interested groups is still the dominant survival strategy.

I have never heard of this. Honestly this deserves its own post or an email to the NYT. Very alarming.

You're telling me, that not only is there a community successfully resisting the influence of the modern techno-dystopia, but that they're well-disciplined, vibrant, and growing... and you're telling me I'm supposed to be upset???

If ISIS were doing the same thing, would you or would you not be upset about it?

I hardly think it's a stretch of the imagination to say that most people do not believe you need to jump to the complete opposite end of the spectrum in terms of "adopting the modern secular techno lifestyle/culture" to avoid a bad outcome.

ISIS in particular are a bit extreme with their beheadings, suicide attacks, and all. I did, however, warm up to generic radical Muslims recently.

If ISIS were doing the same thing, would you or would you not be upset about it?

Not the OP, but that description could also apply to the Amish, and FWIW I don't think that many "English" have a big beef with them...

That is because the Amish are in Lancaster County (and a lot of other places, mostly rural), not New York City. The haredi in Lakewood, NJ and Kiryas Joel, NY do annoy the other locals (as do the Amish where they live, for that matter, though it's usually about buggy accidents rather than schooling). But while those may get (and have gotten) a mention in the New York Times, being in New York City helps with the in-depth hit pieces.

That's irrelevant. The point I'm making, as stated in my previous post, is that just because a group rejects what the OP thinks is a dystopia doesn't mean they are somehow a good group. There are different and important reasons for rejecting both the "techno-dystopia" and the Islamic State.

how ultra-orthodox Jews in NYC are funneling billions in public money for use in their yeshivas. Students are barely taught how to read and write in English

There may be something here, but let's frame this in comparative terms. How is this different from regular public schools? And do the educational outcomes at the end of this produce bad societal results? For instance, is there a lot of welfare usage, violent crime etc. in ultra-orthodox circles?

It's much worse than regular public schools according to the article. However, the zero pass rate seems suspicious, and perhaps they are deliberately blowing the test to avoid demonstrating whatever the real extent of the issue is.

For instance, is there a lot of welfare usage, violent crime etc. in ultra-orthodox circles?

Yes, but it's organized welfare usage and violent crime.

That's the interesting thing. Once you've assumed an extremely high level of coordination in the group you're examining, then you CANNOT assume that the outcomes you're seeing are 'natural' and accurate, because it would be relatively trivial for a highly coordinated group to game a test to produce a particular outcome for outsiders.

I could absolutely see it being simply known wisdom among Yeshiva students that you bomb all the state tests. Perhaps this is to camouflage the students who genuinely aren't learning the material or is itself a coordination mechanism (students who don't bomb the test are looked on with suspicion?) but there's no reason to assume they aren't aware that this test is producing signals that outsiders can see, and thus manipulating it (like everything else in the process) to their own ends.

The NYTimes piece suggests that Hasidic schools do have worse outcomes on the 12-year-old reading and math tests than most low-income public schools. Hasidic schools counter that their students do better in (voluntary) high-school-aged tests, though it's not clear that those are much more representative. A lot of the rest of the numbers and arguments seem to be pulled or supplied from this YAFFED report, although they're a single-issue non-profit focused on this issue.

That said, the breadth of the difference looks wonky enough that I'd like to see the actual measurements, especially since I can't find any mandatory testing for private schools in New York or NYC specifically, and that the numbers don't make sense -- YAFFED repeatedly highlights the breadth and importance of this topic, with tens of thousands of students effected, and... I can't see how that matches with a total of 12 boy's schools, especially given the Hasidic preference for tiny classrooms. A different YAFFED report looks like it found low scores in a NYC-specific subset, but the numbers there don't look to match either. That report points to NYSED, which seems to love 40+MB Access or Excel files (why?!), and doesn't seem to cover non-charter private schools anyway.

EDIT: actually, the extent that this doesn't seem to match the internals of the NYSED researcher files worries me a lot about its general accuracy.

In terms of broader results: Hasadic communities have high poverty and welfare usage, but low reported rates of violent crime (although there's some controversy about how much domestic violence is not reported).

I suppose that could depend on what you consider a "bad societal result" but I would say yes, definitely.

There is a lot welfare usage and active abuse, like the comment you replied to mentions in the bottom. There probably isn't a lot of "public" violent crime like gang murders (although I did find a report of a dynastic struggle in Jerusalem that lead to street brawls). However, I expect there's quite a lot of abuse that goes unreported and/or unresolved because, like with most cults, any such problems are swept under the rug or "handled" internally and victims (especially young or female victims, or victims of anyone with social power) are expected to not make waves for the sake of community cohesion. See e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haredi_Judaism#Controversies or search Google for something like "Hasidim and domestic violence."

In addition, members are typically made completely dependent on the community, and made to believe that any contact with people outside the community will make them unclean (like with the Roma or FLDS) so any violations of norms can be punished with shunning which is obviously legal but devastating. As with these others groups, even members who would like to leave may struggle to do so because they have no relevant skills, poor English, no outside family or friends, etc.

There presumably is a lot of indoctrination into a very regressive religious world view (what else are they going to do in a religious school that doesn't teach basic English) which leads to conflicts with the outside world, such as Hasidic men refusing to sit next to women on airplanes.

One could argue that, given how academically inclined Jews typically are, a failure to teach basic English and Math is much more damning of the Yeshivas than of urban public schools.

Yes, how dare they be free to practice their dumb religion? This is America.

Did you mean to reply to someone else? I can't imagine how that's a reasonable reply to what I wrote.

There has to be a difference between "trying and failing to teach reading in English" and "refusing to teach English at all".

I don't see a functional difference that society should care about. Either we're ok with public money going to private enterprises because we don't want poor kids going hungry, or we are so enraged by a pack of religious nutters who figured out how to game the system that we are not.

Personally I don't really care which, but I find the sudden surge of interest when the religious scammers are jewish to be depressingly predictable. This article could have been written about any charter school in the country. The NYT is publishing it, and we're arguing about it because the position of jewish people in the progressive stack is in question.

To be clear, I don’t mind state resources going to catholic or Mormon or evangelical or Islamic schools separate from the local public school in large part because almost all catholic, evangelical, Mormon, and Islamic households have at least one working adult.

Generational welfare scammers shouldn’t get catered to by the state, even if it doesn’t cost any more than sending them to public schools. If I had my way, the kids of these communities would get bussed to inner city public schools with high percentages of households on welfare until the community boosted its male employment rate to match the surrounding community.

I'm fine with fixing the welfare laws to prohibit lifelong moochers in the vast majority of cases. I'm fine with banning public funds from going to religious schools.

I don't think it's logical to construct a just-so scenario that lands exclusively on one out of thousands of religious groups. Seems really specific.

That's true, though in turn it raises a few awkward questions. One of the possible explanations for a bunch of 'schools' that have very long classroom hours and culturally-encouraged out-of-classroom study, yet get these test results is that they're learning to read, write, and do math in another language.

((You can find the ELA and math questions online.))

Hasidim are underrepresented among violent criminals, true, but their welfare use is the literal highest in the nation- in part because they refuse to undertake any secular education whatsoever and do not do any secular work.

I’m not saying ‘send cps into them, force their kids to attend public schools, break their culture wide open’, but we can easily stop paying the bills for their lifestyle and expect them to support themselves. I’m sure they have the wherewithal to support themselves at least to the extent of, say, rural Mississippi.

I understand that this happens as lot in Israel too, and fuels a lot of Israeli unhappiness towards the Hasidics (who also refuse to perform the military service that is mandatory for Israelis because it "violates their religious tenets."

No successful society tolerates parasites and freeloaders in their midst. The reason the West is failing is because our leaders are gutless people-pleasers who lack the moral culture to persecute any minorities who behave this way, for fear that they'll be accused of bigotry.

The hasidim are protected and accommodated largely for political purposes; ‘avoiding the appearance of bigotry’ has nothing to do with it. They live in high concentrations and vote as a block, that’s why.

That kind of highly-polarised tribalism is a very dangerous game to play. In the short-term, it gets your group what they want, but in the long-term it fuels lots of resentment towards them. This kind of heavily-polarized tribal mindset is the reason that the Jews have been driven out of almost every country they took up residence in. It was only until WW2 - when Jews learned the costs of these cultural traits and adapted their society to be more multicultural and less insular - that their worldwide persecution stopped. And I think that if the Jews ever went back to their insular pre-WW2 attitudes (with the "us against them" mentality that many non-Jews find so distasteful), it would very quickly become socially acceptable to persecute them again.

Like I said, nobody likes freeloaders. You can't be part of a nation while prioritizing tribal loyalties over national identity. This kind of mindset is rightfully viewed as disloyalty at best, and treason at worst. In other words, if you are an American Jew, then you're American first and Jewish second. If you can't handle that - if you view your Jewish identity as more important than your American identity - then you don't deserve American citizenship. Likewise, if the Hasidic Israelis view themselves as Hasidics first and Israelis second, then they don't deserve Israeli citizenship.

Given the way polarization is shaking out in American society, Hasidic people are distinctly small potatoes in the tribalism issue.

I'm going to take something completely unintended from this article and ask:

Hasn't the official narrative for the past couple decades been that the reason schools in the U.S. underperform is due to lack of funding?

And thus, shouldn't the suggested solution to Yeshivas underperforming state requirements be to give them more money?

I could swear that the argument regarding, e.g. Baltimore, St. Louis, and yes, New York was that there was simply a large gap between how much money the schools needed and how much they actually received.

Perhaps it is fair to peek into how that money is being spent and closely examining the type and quality of instruction being provided to judge the value of such spending?

I'm not trying to make any larger point with this besides noting how interesting it is that the NYT takes up a story which tacitly admits that funding is, itself, not the end-all be-all for improving education outcomes, as the state tends to measure such outcomes.

If the fear is that organized groups with goals orthogonal to those expected of the school system may be seizing too much control and funneling that money towards priorities other than education on the topics society generally considers important, then we can certainly open this debate up to other groups with similar power.

Hasn't the official narrative for the past couple decades been that the reason schools in the U.S. underperform is due to lack of funding?

Yeah, but it's always been a ridiculous lie. The United States outspends almost every country in the world. The failures of American schools (such that they exist, I would argue that the failures are more with the local demographic stock than with the schools themselves) cannot plausibly be explained by funding at schools that are spending more than Germany, Japan, or our neighbor to the north.

I'm not trying to make any larger point with this besides noting how interesting it is that the NYT takes up a story which tacitly admits that funding is, itself, not the end-all be-all for improving education outcomes, as the state tends to measure such outcomes.

The good news for the NYT and the larger narrative regarding education spending is that no one really bothers to maintain much continuity of analysis between these points. Even better for narrative maintenance is that anyone who notices that Americans actually do very well on PISA testing relative to similar demographic groups (suggesting that there isn't much of a problem with the schools) can be countered with rhetoric around how this demonstrates that schools are racist.

Indeed.

The other narrative killer is when you disaggregate the U.S. so that outcomes across the nation are not squished together and smeared across the entire country as if it represents the performance of every state and city and town.

I have gotten extremely tired of the tactic of lumping in every single state's statistics to create a single metric and then pretending this somehow accurately depicts the state of the union as a whole.

Yeah, but it's always been a ridiculous lie. The United States outspends almost every country in the world. The failures of American schools (such that they exist, I would argue that the failures are more with the local demographic stock than with the schools themselves) cannot plausibly be explained by funding at schools that are spending more than Germany, Japan, or our neighbor to the north.

There's some serious slight of hand going on here where your link (by default) only shows US spending on tertiary education but the rest of your comment uses 'school' to mean primary+secondary education. If you instead look at primary and secondary education costs and use % of GDP, the US is just above the middle of the group.

I don't see a toggle for displaying the desired data in the direct link, I assumed people would be able to look at those pretty easily.

I am strongly against using percent of GDP rather than PPP or nominal dollars. The education sector isn't entitled to a fixed percentage of the overall economy.

The education sector isn't entitled to a fixed percentage of the overall economy.

No, but to the extent it provides services via humans rather than automation, it is subject to Baumol's cost disease. Ironically, the education you can afford in a country where most talented would-be-educators don't have any better options may be greater, at the same adjusted dollars-per-student price, than the education you can afford in a country where that education really pays off in other sectors of the economy. GDP isn't a good unit against which to compare this, but neither are dollars adjusted by a PPP basket which weighs mass-produced consumer goods along with skilled man-hours.

On the other hand, that's about as much of a steelman as I can come up with before noticing that the education sector may be to blame for this themselves. "Students work on computers at their own pace, teachers are on hand to work with students who are having problems the automated lessons can't handle" was how a few of my best classes were handled, experimentally, decades ago, and it's a tragedy that the closest most kids can get today is "Make a Khan Academy account, then hope you have time for it on top of whatever superannuated one-size-fits-all busywork your teachers assign instead". I'm not sure what happened over those decades, but I don't think that whole "software" thing turned out to be just a fad in the rest of the economy, so I have a suspicion that the possibility of teaching more students better even with fewer teachers was treated as a threat to unionized teachers rather than an opportunity for the kids.

Somewhat unrelated, but I was watching Vinesauce last night, and he was playing a few of those JumpStart games by Knowledge Adventure. The Kindergarten game (yes, seriously, I'm going somewhere with this) got me thinking: could people ever really trust software to educate their kids? Edutainment games are one thing; but serious educational programs, software, and websites have developed to the point that they can serve as legit building blocks for getting through at least public school. I understand that at the undergrad level and beyond, anyone who might hire you for a cushy job expects a prestigious credential that digital services can't offer, but if we pretend that doesn't exist, what happens then? Could software (have) eat(en) the education world so thoroughly that the way we teach children would be radically different?

For some anecdata, in undergrad, I had to take two algebra classes, and both of those relied heavily on a mixture of hardware (a "clicker" device) and Pearson's testing website. The second one was practically an online course (something my college offered) that I still had to physically show up for (though few of my classmates did).

Using percentage of GDP makes sense in certain circumstances, such as when your trying to analyze the burden the spending puts on the economy but I agree it makes less sense when your comparing national education spending to see who spends more, or when you considering whether spending is increasing over time and how rapid the increase is.

Hasn't the official narrative for the past couple decades been that the reason schools in the U.S. underperform is due to lack of funding?

I don't think the argument has ever been "all schools everywhere that are underperforming need funds", it's "all public schools...".

Fair.

I mean to say, the general, reflexive response to pointing out that a given school (usually public) is underperforming compared to expectations is "they need more money!"

Schools that aren't underperforming are usually just not considered in the question at all.

Yes, I understand the general form of the argument you are making. But I don't think it's nearly as contradictory as you make it out to be if you admit what I'm saying is fair. The underlying assumption is that the school is not a private religious school run by a community that refuses to work and instead leeches from welfare.

And if we admit that how a school is run is actually very impactful on student outcomes, we can frame the debate in terms other than whether funding is sufficient. Which normally the NYT seems reluctant to do. Yet here they try to imply that the schools in question gets too much money despite failing to produce results. Stripped of context, this sounds like a conservative talking point!

That's the leap I'm willing to make. I think poorly runs schools are poorly run schools, regardless of being private, public, religious or secular. I don't necessarily agree with all the metrics the state uses to determine education outcomes, but basic literacy seems like a fair one. I don't think religious schools are somehow worse at producing literate students, nor that disparate outcomes are attributable to them being religious schools.

However, I think it is completely and utterly fair to say that if a school is performing poorly, then the first step towards a solution should be examining why it is poorly run, and holding those who are in charge of it accountable. Then one should examine if the school is adequately funded and whether increasing funds would be likely to help.

Because throwing more money at a poorly-run school seems like an obvious way to set said money on fire for no real improvement. Dis-functional systems don't magically improve merely by adding more funds.

In short, if we assume that the Yeshivas are failing to educate their students in important subjects, I DO NOT see why we should assume the reasons for this are somehow inherently different than if a public school likewise fails at the task. Which many of them do.

Why should Yeshivas be singled out as if they present a unique problem? Note, I'm not claiming that the NYT shouldn't publish stories about this issue, I'm questioning the framing.

However, I think it is completely and utterly fair to say that if a school is performing poorly, then the first step towards a solution should be examining why it is poorly run, and holding those who are in charge of it accountable. Then one should examine if the school is adequately funded and whether increasing funds would be likely to help.

No disagreement here.

In short, if we assume that the Yeshivas are failing to educate their students in important subjects, I DO NOT see why we should assume the reasons for this are somehow inherently different than if a public school likewise fails at the task.

As other commenters have mentioned, Hasidic Jews are an insular community who are politically organized to give little and take lots. They appear to actively disdain and prevent their community members from seeking employment and instead just study religion all day. They very much violate the unspoken assumption that a school is trying to make a better American citizen (loosely defined as that is) who will not take from the public more than necessary. I'd say that's deserving of higher scrutiny.

As other commenters have mentioned, Hasidic Jews are an insular community who are politically organized to give little and take lots.

They very much violate the unspoken assumption that a school is trying to make a better American citizen (loosely defined as that is) who will not take from the public more than necessary. I'd say that's deserving of higher scrutiny.

I'm amenable to this argument.

But explain to me why this same line of thinking wouldn't apply to Teachers' Unions. Especially if we swap in 'woke' ideological teachings for religion in this instance.

https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/how-teachers-unions-are-influencing-decisions-on-school-reopenings/2020/12

https://nypost.com/2021/07/04/teachers-union-vows-to-fight-back-against-critical-race-theory-critics/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2022-election/teachers-union-wants-democrats-fight-back-republican-crt-attacks-rcna38001

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/teachers-ohios-largest-school-district-go-strike-2-days-start-new-scho-rcna44239

...Because there's no religious defense being offered? For all that you want to claim hypocrisy about this, there's a big difference between "a public school that is run to spread controversial messaging to kids as truth" and "a privately run religious school which actively tells you to not do more than study religion all day".

Moreover, you seem to think that I would support the teachers unions but not the Hasidic Jews. You shouldn't assume that about me when I haven't said anything about it.

More comments

They very much violate the unspoken assumption that a school is trying to make a better American citizen

Then public schools are worse. The Hasids are just scamming America, not trying to train its executioners.

Alright, but that's just grounds to fix all of them, not declare that what the Hasids do doesn't matter.

Edit: Also, that's an incendiary and divisive way of speaking about them. They have a different view on what makes someone a better citizen, and would describe you as trying to bring back a reactionary and bigoted government. Neither your accusation nor theirs is conducive to the discussion.

More comments

This comment and your other one:

Yes, how dare they be free to practice their dumb religion? This is America.

Are low quality.

I see you participating heavily in this discussion and some of your other comments are better contributions.

But there are some rule violations. Please try to support controversial arguments with evidence. Speak plainly and without sarcasm. Do not be antagonistic or inflammatory.

I’ve been under the impression that the “moar funding!” angle has been less popular since Bush 2. Partly due to the stellar reception of No Child Left Behind and partly due to the recession. But then I’ve also been out of public school for long enough that it may have passed me by. Aannnnnd I’m down here in a part of Texas where the property taxes completely define school mappings. So take anything I say with a grain of salt.

Hasn't the official narrative for the past couple decades been that the reason schools in the U.S. underperform is due to lack of funding?

Yes. And that despite the fact that a massive increase in school spending in staffing per pupil, failed to do anything noticeably in terms of increasing educational achievement. - https://www.cato.org/blog/obama-vs-romney-public-school-jobs (old data now but it shows a decades long trend).

Later that spending increase slowed, and in some places even had short term reversals, but still generally kept an upward trend (and again I'm talking about real per pupil spending so ts not inflation or more students causing the increase).

It keeps on saying "public money" but what does this actually mean?

Finally I find it

Tax dollars are not supposed to go toward religious education. But public agencies pay private schools to comply with government mandates and manage social services. Hasidic boys’ yeshivas, like other private schools, access dozens of such programs, collecting money that subsidizes their theological curriculum.

The details are vague, I expect on purpose. The NYT can surely clear this up but are not so they deserve no bonus points for confusion.

It feels like the government wants to make sure kids have enough to eat, so they pay schools money to do stuff like free school breakfast. And we call this "public funding."

The schools serving the very poorest children will simultaneously have the most "public funding" as well as the worst scores.

At that point the article should never have been written.

Tax dollars are not supposed to go toward religious education.

That's a line that caught my attention, because I recall there being a very recent Supreme Court decision saying that that principle mustn't be taken too far. Indeed: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1088_dbfi.pdf

I remember reading a story about how in a certain area, the kids were declared to be special needs and that they would be sent to a school for children with such disabilities, and it was set up that way, but it was a yeshiva. They got public funding for special needs education and funnelled it to religious education in order to bypass laws about that. And the objections are not "they are getting public funding for special projects like other schools", but that "they get onto school boards and get voted in to be the majority members, then they start diverting all the funding to their yeshivas and stripping out funding for the secular schools". You're right that the NYT has to prove this happens, but you're not representing the story correctly with "this article should never have been written, this is just the same as funding for free meals for underprivileged kids".

This is a very touchy subject, because it's very easy to make a mis-step and fall right into stereotypes about 'the Jews'. But I think it's evident that the Hasidim are, in effect, what would be called a cult elsewhere and that even within Judaism they're on an extreme edge. They do think of the outside world, the Gentiles, as foreigners and strangers among whom they live, and so despoiling them is permissible because it's the spoils of Egypt.

the Hasidim are, in effect, what would be called a cult elsewhere

I give you the Rogan Formulation:

1: In a cult, it's run by one guy who knows the whole thing is bullshit.

2: In a religion, that guy died.

It feels like the government wants to make sure kids have enough to eat

Of course not. Americans are free to elect pro wrestlers or turn their libraries into sleeping quarters for the homeless, but the stated purpose of the library is still providing access to books. And feeding children isn't the point of education. Education is, i.e. ensuring at the minimum that children learn basic skills needed to navigate the broader society (like, literally read signs, understand arithmetic, handle elementary instructions, speak the common tongue – do things only a foreign premodern peasant thrown into the middle of Manhattan won't be able to). This is a very low bar and, if the NYT is to be trusted (which I guess they can be, here – authors seem to be sincerely distressed with the kneecapped condition of their kin), it is not reached, leaving kids helpless and forced to depend on the unaccountable and overbearing religious community.

So the outrage is legitimate: this is defrauding the state.

the point of education

This is a more complicated issue than it might appear.

American schools serve a complicated role as an educator, babysitter, and social service.

Some of that falls under “necessary skills” in terms of socialization and, in theory, physical fitness. Other parts are more vaguely prosocial, keeping children at desks instead of selling hypothetical drugs. And there is a surprisingly broad category of benefits to parents, especially if they are not part of a traditional household. The single mother or the dual-income couple is better able to participate in the economy.

Feeding children is mainly in the middle category, It is a reasonably means tested and selective way to keep the poorest from starving. But it also helps compensate for poor or overcrowded households, reducing their food costs. And, even more tenuously, the program is supposed to maintain nutrition with obvious benefits to society.

So, even though it is barely coupled to the creation of educated citizens, school food programs serve a number of widely accepted social roles.

Towns in subjected areas will purposely reduce sidewalks or veto funding for sidewalks in order to deter Hasids from moving in.

I'm not sure if I'm being thick here but what's the relationship between sidewalks and Hasidis?

They prefer walkable neighborhoods and on the Sabbath they can’t drive. They can be driven on the Sabbath but they need someone out of the community to do the driving, so it’s a hassle to move into a town with no sidewalks.

In Hasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush With Public Money

Among the array of Holocaust literature that was required reading throughout public school, one of the worst was surely The Chosen. Although it took place in New York and the Holocaust was only part of the backdrop.

The novel explores the dialectic between Jewish Chosenness and Jewish secular achievement in the form of the Hasidic versus Modern Orthodoxy. Danny is a Hasidic boy being groomed to succeed his father as Rabbi. But he has photographic memory and secretly wants to pursue a career in Freudian psychiatry. Danny pursues secular studies at the library under his father's nose. Reuven is a Modern Orthodox Jewish boy whose father wants him to have a career in academia, but Reuven wants to be a rabbi. For Potok, the resolution is of course a synthesis where Danny achieves his academic goals while maintaining his orthodoxy and Reuven achieves Talmudic enlightenment or something.

But even at the time, what stood out was how poor behavior from the Hasidic was portrayed sympathetically although it was in violation of all the other principles we were supposed to be learning as children. Dogmatic, authoritarian, insular, abusive... Danny's rabbi father raises him in silence, only talking to him when they study Talmud together- because of Auschwitz, or something.

Hasidic power structure is a legitimate problem that needs to be made sense of

Americans are deeply incapable of grasping Jewish power structures. This is due in large part to the lessons they have been taught as children, like in The Chosen, where are are made to sympathize and valorize the worst elements of a cultural tradition as implicit penance for the Holocaust.

We strongly discourage low-effort one-liners, emojis, and links to memes. Don't do this. Make your point with words and complete sentences.

If you seriously believe this, isn’t this extremely counterproductive? What are you going to get out of making those potential Von Neumanns into 1.6 child average secular adults? Isn’t it much better to let them continue with their extreme multiplication rates so in a couple generations we have 20 Von Neumanns instead of 1.

Just the firstborn son. A side tap to siphon off some of that beneficial HBD.

Students are barely taught how to read and write in English (as an example, one couldn't spell "America") and the state requirements are effectively optional or used as a study hall.

So they're performing about as well as the rest of New York then?

Lame jokes aside, New York has the second lowest literacy rate of any state in the US, behind California. Rough a quarter of all New York adults are (functionally illiterate), though this depends on how one defines illiteracy. Focusing on the Hasidic Jews at this point seems remarkably short sighted, when much of the rest of the education system in New York is performing just as poorly, and state education funding to public schools is similarly siphoned away to administrators and DEI enforcers and all other sorts non-educational processes.

Maybe if the public school system in New York was more functional there would be a leg to stand on. Obviously, there is a cultural ethno-religious element to the Hasidic Jewish education that is not present in the public school system needs that should be addressed (although... woke influence on the education system does have some eerie similarities). But it's hard to single them out for change while so much of the rest of the public education system is just as, if not more, dysfunctional. At least self-isolation of the Hasidic Jews means their poor educational outcomes don't have wider negative social consequences as public schools do.

Anyone who finds this interesting and wants to hear one of the best radio segments ever recorded, may I recommend this wild ride:

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/534/a-not-so-simple-majority

This was very interesting, thank you.

A yet another New York story about the ultra-Orthodox goes into my collection (previous entries: The New York Post: I was a Hasidic Jew – but I broke free, New Yorker: When One Parent Leaves a Hasidic Community, What Happens to the Kids? and bonus entry Vice: The Child-Rape Assembly Line).

What's always fascinating about traditionalist Jews is that they're not doing anything special or clever, all the secret sauce apparently lies in the execution and commitment to the cause. What is novel here? Strict patriarchy and gerontocracy, meritocracy where it matters (rabbis are smart and also fiercely loyal to the tribe), rewarding cooperation and association with cooperators, punishing defectors and non-punishers (with an eye to long-term pruning of bad branches: denying marriage prospects to non-compliant individuals), guarding against infohazards, sieged fortress doctrine to bring out maximum ingroup sentiment, willingness to sacrifice opportunity for your principles and forgo temptations for long-term (reproductive) gain, cozying up to local authorities and making use of acquired resources until your group grows enough that you can boss those authorities around, exploitation of politically expedient memes, playing the victim; and or course perfect coordination like voting in bloc, with blind trust in the judgement of your tribal hereditary elite. If it takes that much today to stop young Ashkenazim from using TikTok, the Rabbis will do that much. They take their mission as stewards of the group seriously.

(By the way: «Grand Rabbi» sounds like Archbishop or something, but that's basically a clan leader, a dynastic head priest; I wonder if Americans comprehend just how alien those people's livestyles are. They are not represented at all by your favorite blogger, or some funny nerdy STEM professor from a sitcom, running in the morning to the BART station, half-eaten bagel in hand. It's not a matter of degree, not an issue of extremist outliers, nothing like some beautiful exotic superstitions your gf's granny from Hawaii knows: they really are living like old Qahals, by strict Mafia-type laws enforced with more consistency than your state laws, omerta and all. But I digress).

They don't do anything their ancestors didn't do in Russian Empire shtetls and European ghettos. This is how they have been surviving – and attracting hate – for centuries, sans minor details like voting, and their dress code looking more quixotic now, a frozen snapshot from 18th century. If we are to trust Romans and Greeks, this is how ancient Jews have been living even in the pre-Christian era. In some ways the Hasidim have become more archaic, almost desperately LARPing as old school Orthodox; but in most ways they're being true to the general mold of the tradition.

If the society has «evolved» in any sense except purely technological, why are their tricks so effective? Why is it so easy to exploit? This reminds me of Wyclif's great series on Universal Cultural Takeover:

Bryan Caplan:

Given a choice, young people choose Western consumerism, gender norms, and entertainment. Anti-Western governments from Beijing to Tehran know this this to be true: Without draconian censorship and social regulation, “Westoxification” will win.

How’s that story working out in Tel Aviv?

Ultra-Orthodox Judaism is not a one-off. As Eric Kaufmann points out in _Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? r_eligious cultures which haven’t been “eaten by the demon” are doing fine.

In all parts of the world, fundamentalist fertility exceeds moderate religious fertility, which in turn outpaces secular fertility.

Sometimes explicitly, self-consciously so. Some of the most extreme fundamentalist groups eschew conversion in favour of reproduction. They have quit persuading people on to their ark, and are getting ready to float.

Anyway. Ethics of nakedly particularist rules-lawyering aside, are they unhappy? The NYT authors are certainly very opposed to the continuation of their lifestyle, because it's, well, not explicitly geared towards what we recognize as self-actualization (I don't believe they worry all that much about subverting local politics or the funding issue). And sure enough, there's plenty of abuse in that community. But are they neurotic? Wracked by climate fears and anti-racist remorse? Invested into the Culture War, frothing at the mouth about Beijing Biden or Trump, Pizzagate and COVID? What do they think about their brothers secular/Reform Jews, or about Gentiles for that matter? I recall they think the latter are soulless murderers (to the extent that staying with one in an isolated space is inherently dangerous), and Reformers are lost souls who are almost as bad. They probably feel immensely greater disgust towards modern innovations like trans rights than the staunchest reactionary here (those of them who are allowed and willing to expose themselves to the Chaos of external society, the courageous vanguard). So, do they want to be rescued?

One additional issue is the existence of AI. We have many pundits and thinkers discussing the dangers of automation, the loss of meaning that for now comes with hard work. That's a very Christian, even Protestant idea. This group, if no other, will make the transition just fine. They do not like to work, they try to work as little as possible, their religion promises them liberation from work at the end of history as reward for millenia of piousness and fulfilling mitzvot, they find meaning in their family, tribe and praising their God, and that'll be only easier to do with universal basic income. If the AI deity offers it to them, they'll gladly welcome the opportunity to multiply and prosper.

These days, that's worth something. I would like other groups to take notes.

There is plenty of things "impressive" with what Hasidim manage to uphold in both Israel and the West. The main problem is that they are simply one group out of many, and if everyone (or even some significant number of groups) behaved like this we would very soon have societal collapse and descend into tribal warfare. They are a truly insignificant minority in America and rest of the West, but Israel is already waking up to this problem.

But are they neurotic? Wracked by climate fears and anti-racist remorse? Invested into the Culture War, frothing at the mouth about Beijing Biden or Trump, Pizzagate and COVID?

The Orthodox life might look idyllic from the outside, but it is not spared angst and trauma, angst that might look silly to the outsiders, but is deadly serious for the insiders.

for example: "Is the water I was drinking all my life really, really kosher? What if I accidentally swallowed some tiny bug?"

https://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/07/nyregion/the-waters-fine-but-is-it-kosher.html

https://gothamist.com/food/nycs-tap-water-clean-but-filled-with-crustaceans

https://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-news/nyc-water/

I realise I'm a little late to the party, but I want to talk about Tolkien and RoP.

One of the themes of Lord of the Rings is the idea that the smallest, the humblest person can change the destiny of the world, and become a hero. The Hobbits represent small, humble, ordinary people. They don’t lust for power or fame, or aspire to do great deeds. Thus the Ring can’t corrupt them in the way that it would corrupt Boromir or Galadriel, although it can make them covet it as a possession. We see this when Sam willingly gives it back to Frodo, even though we have seen others kill for it having been exposed to it for far shorter periods. Bilbo manages to give it up, after having owned it and been subjected to its influence for 60 years, and Frodo manages to bear it right into the heart of Mt Doom, with the Ring fighting him all the way.

The Ring works by tempting its owners, offering them ways to get what they desire most. The Wizards want to make the world a better place. The Elves want to stop the decay of the world. Men desire power and the ability to defeat their enemies. Dwarves desire treasure. All of them want something they don’t already have, therefore the Ring has something to work with, something to offer them. While Hobbits are content creatures: “But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet and good tilled earth. For all Hobbits share a love of all things that grow. And yes, no doubt to others, our ways seem quaint. But today of all days, it is brought home to me it is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

Galadriel was never some paladin of light. She is the ultimate redemption arc. Someone who had many of the same flaws as Sauron, but who came back. Sauron had a chance for redemption, but couldn't follow through due to his pride. Like Galadriel he was told to come back to Valinor. He didn't want to leave his powerbase or his pride behind however. The character who some consider to be the ultimate hero of the tale, who gets the last scene is not Aragorn the King or an immortal elf. It's the family man with scars, who lost his friend, and who comes home to his family and does the best he can.

It seems Amazon Studios never bothered to understand when they decided they'll make Galadriel a sort of "girlboss" claiming to save the world but with the writers' focus being on her path to glory like most woke cape blockbusters these days. Given how literarily significant Tolkien is world over, its so bizarre that they'd try to pick apart his legacy and crap all over him. Within my reading circle in India, LOTR is a favourite. The supposed racism doesn't even register. The last RoP trailer in regional languages here also got ratio'd on YouTube. I don't know what Amazon was thinking. They said this is the most expensive show ever and that the future of the studio itself relies on its success, and yet they decide to check the woke quotas instead of giving Tolkien fans what they want. Did they really just not expect this level of blowback? Its so unfathomable to me that the answer is that simple, could it be something else?

They said this is the most expensive show ever and that the future of the studio itself relies on its success, and yet they decide to check the woke quotas instead of giving Tolkien fans what they want. Did they really just not expect this level of blowback? Its so unfathomable to me that the answer is that simple, could it be something else?

I saw this video on reddit today that explains the phenomenon as "parasitic storytelling" and I've only watched it once, but I'm inclined to agree:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=gFxu3Q71NvE

Basically, the problem would be that people responsible for these shows care first and foremost about using a brand to subvert and attack what they see as some kind of oppressive status quo, and they tend to see the world through surface-level stereotypes.

It is just the left's version of Christian Movies. Quality, plot, hero's journey, none of that is as important as The Message.