Althouse | category: right-wing ideology



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

The wrong masculinity.

The wrong masculinity.

The photo, the headline, and the caption say it all, don't you think? Must we go on to read this thing? I've come this far without reading it. Why are we called to loathe this man, Josh Hawley, as he "gestures toward a crowd of Donald Trump supporters"? 

Well, Josh Hawley wrote a book called "Manhood," so he's asking for it and I'll give you a little of what French has to say:
Catastrophic rhetoric is omnipresent on the right.... Traditional masculinity says that people should meet a challenge with a level head and firm convictions. Right-wing culture says that everything is an emergency, and is to be combated with relentless trolling and hyperbolic insults.... Every single perceived left-wing outrage or excess is shared far and wide. “How can you be calm?” right-wing activists demand to know. “Didn’t you see that the North Face is using drag queens in its ads?” 
Last month, my friend Jonah Goldberg wrote an important piece cataloging the sheer pettiness of the young online right. “Everywhere I look these days,” he wrote, “I see young conservatives believing they should behave like jerks.” As Jonah notes, there are those who now believe it shows “courage and strength to be coarse or bigoted.” No one should think that this hysteria is confined to online spaces, or that it ultimately remains merely petty or cruel. Hysteria plus cruelty is a recipe for violence. 
And that brings us back to Josh Hawley. For all of its faults when taken to excess, the traditional masculinity of which he claims to be a champion would demand that he stand firm against a howling mob. Rather, he saluted it with a raised fist — and then ran from it when it got too close and too unruly.... 

"It can no longer be denied"/"Free speech" is right wing.

I'm trying to read "Twitter Is a Far-Right Social Network/It can no longer be denied" by Charlie Warzel at The Atlantic.
Truth Social, a website backed in part by Donald Trump, says it encourages “an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating on the basis of political ideology.” This language is indistinguishable from the way that [Tucker] Carlson spoke of [Elon] Musk’s Twitter, arguing that “there aren’t many platforms left that allow free speech,” and that the site is “the last big one remaining in the world.” 
If it acts like a right-wing website and markets itself as a right-wing website, it just might be a right-wing website....

Warzel is hoping for the worst for Twitter, and it's a hope that we've seen since the beginning of the Musk takeover. A free speech policy will drive out the liberals and lefties, and without lefties to kick around, righties won't be happy:

A culture war is no fun if there’s no actual conflict.... Social-media platforms that cater to the right’s ideology eventually become tired and predictable—the result of the same loud people shaking their fist at digital clouds....

It's odd, isn't it? Lefties abandoned Twitter because they wanted their antagonists excluded, and now righties will leave because they want their antagonists present and actively fighting them. According to Warzel.

Is this at the core of the seeming left/right difference on the value of free speech — whether you want to say what you have to say without heckling and harassment from people who disagree with you or whether you want a feisty, real-time debate? 

"Appropriately titled 'Tightness-Looseness Across the 50 United States,' the study calculated a catalog of measures for each state..."

"... including the incidence of natural disasters, disease prevalence, residents’ levels of openness and conscientiousness, drug and alcohol use, homelessness and incarceration rates.... The South dominated the tight states: Mississippi, Alabama Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina. With two exceptions — Nevada and Hawaii — states in New England and on the West Coast were the loosest: California, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont...."

In a 2019 interview, [psychprof Michele J.] Gelfand said that 
Some groups have much stronger norms than others; they’re tight. Others have much weaker norms; they’re loose. Of course, all cultures have areas in which they are tight and loose — but cultures vary in the degree to which they emphasize norms and compliance with them. 
Cultural differences, Gelfand continued, “have a certain logic — a rationale that makes good sense,” noting that “cultures that have threats need rules to coordinate to survive (think about how incredibly coordinated Japan is in response to natural disasters). But cultures that don’t have a lot of threat can afford to be more permissive and loose.”

The researcher is choosing which things to inspect for tightness or looseness. What if you had to argue that California and Oregon were "tight"? You'd just identify some areas of ideology about which leftish folk are harshly disciplinarian. 

The tight-loose concept, Gelfand argued, is an important framework to understand the rise of President Donald Trump and other leaders in Poland, Hungary, Italy, and France, among others. The gist is this: when people perceive threat — whether real or imagined, they want strong rules and autocratic leaders to help them survive.

I'd say we need to watch out for autocrats, but if you think they're all coming from the right, you're going to get blindsided. 

My research has found that within minutes of exposing study participants to false information about terrorist incidents, overpopulation, pathogen outbreaks and natural disasters, their minds tightened. They wanted stronger rules and punishments.

"Tight" is a confusing word. It could describe orderliness and cool practicality. I think of a "tight ship." But it could imply rigidity and fear of change. Why was "tight" ever used for "drunk"? "Loose" is confusing too. Is it relaxed and creative or lazy and disorganized? I wrote that before reading this:

In her book, Gelfand writes that tightness encourages conscientiousness, social order and self-control on the plus side, along with close-mindedness, conventional thinking and cultural inertia on the minus side. Looseness, Gelfand posits, fosters tolerance, creativity and adaptability, along with such liabilities as social disorder, a lack of coordination and impulsive behavior.

So, Gelfand embraces the confusingness. We need a balance of loose and tight, apparently — like yin and yang.

Edsall poses the question:

If liberalism and conservatism have historically played a complementary role, each checking the other to constrain extremism, why are the left and right so destructively hostile to each other now, and why is the contemporary political system so polarized?

Psychprof Laura Niemi answered:

Unlike liberals, conservatives strongly endorse the binding moral values aimed at protecting groups and relationships. They judge transgressions involving personal and national betrayal, disobedience to authority, and disgusting or impure acts such as sexually or spiritually unchaste behavior, as morally relevant and wrong... [Liberals stress] caring, kindness, fairness and rights — known among scholars as “individualizing values” — while conservatives focus more on loyalty, hierarchy, deference to authority, sanctity and a higher standard of disgust, known as “binding values.”

The left supports individualism? The left goes for fairness and rights? I think that's only because you are choosing where to look and your choice is based on what you want to see. 

""Look at what they’ve done to their own people. They’re destroying family, national identity, they are abusing their children."

"Even pedophilia is announced as a normal thing in the West.... And they’re recognizing same-sex marriages.... That’s fine that they’re adults. They’ve got the right to live their life. And we always, we’re very tolerant about this in Russia. Nobody is trying to enter private lives of people, and we’re not going to do this.... However, we need to tell them, but look at the scriptures of any religion in the world. Everything is said in there. And one of the things is that family is a union of a man and a woman.... Anglican Church is planning to consider the idea of a gender-neutral God.... What can you say here? Millions of people in the West understand that they are being led to spiritual destruction."

Said Vladimir Putin, in a speech, quoted by E.J. Dionne Jr., in "Putin pitches the American right with an ungodly invocation of God" (WaPo).

200 journalists and writers release an open letter to the NYT to raise "serious concerns about editorial bias in the newspaper’s reporting on transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people.”

Hell Gate reports.
The open letter, whose signees include regular contributors to the Times and prominent writers and journalists like Ed Yong, Lucy Sante, Roxane Gay, and Rebecca Solnit, comes at a time when far-right extremist groups and their analogues in state legislatures are ramping up their attacks on trans young people....
In recent years and months, the Times has decided to play an outsized role in laundering anti-trans narratives and seeding the discourse with those narratives, publishing tens of thousands of handwringing words on trans youth—reporting that is now approvingly cited and lauded, as the letter writers note, by those who seek to ban and criminalize gender-affirming care.
Hell Gate has an interview with Jo Livingstone, "an award-winning critic and writer who helped organize the open letter."

Here's the open letter. I'll highlight what I think are important parts:
The newspaper’s editorial guidelines demand that reporters “preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias” when cultivating their sources, remaining “sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance.” Yet the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.

For example, Emily Bazelon’s article “The Battle Over Gender Therapy” uncritically used the term “patient zero” to refer to a trans child seeking gender⁠-⁠affirming care, a phrase that vilifies transness as a disease to be feared.

Are persons seeking "gender⁠-⁠affirming care" not "patients"? If they are not suffering from a condition to be feared, then why is treatment provided? Why are they not told they are fine as they are?

We discussed the Bazelon article on this blog, here

Back to the open letter:

Bazelon quoted multiple expert sources who have since expressed regret over their work’s misrepresentation. Another source, Grace Lidinksy⁠-⁠Smith, was identified as an individual person speaking about a personal choice to detransition, rather than the President of GCCAN, an activist organization that pushes junk science and partners with explicitly anti⁠-⁠trans hate groups.

In a similar case, Katie Baker’s recent feature “When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don’t Know” misframed the battle over children’s right to safely transition.

I blogged that story here.

Back to the open letter: 

The piece fails to make clear that court cases brought by parents who want schools to out their trans children are part of a legal strategy pursued by anti-trans hate groups. These groups have identified trans people as an “existential threat to society” and seek to replace the American public education system with Christian homeschooling, key context Baker did not provide to Times readers.

The natural destination of poor editorial judgment is the court of law.

I had a lot of trouble understanding that last sentence. I doubt if you would understand it without reading what comes next, but let me translate. The idea is that the NYT articles have been cited in court cases dealing with legislation about children seeking transgender treatments.

Last year, Arkansas’ attorney general filed an amicus brief in defense of Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment, for any medical provider to administer certain gender⁠-⁠affirming medical care to a minor (including puberty blockers) that diverges from their sex assigned at birth. The brief cited three different New York Times articles to justify its support of the law: Bazelon’s “The Battle Over Gender Therapy,” Azeen Ghorayshi’s “Doctors Debate Whether Trans Teens Need Therapy Before Hormones,” and Ross Douthat’s “How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War.” As recently as February 8th, 2023, attorney David Begley’s invited testimony to the Nebraska state legislature in support of a similar bill approvingly cited the Times’ reporting and relied on its reputation as the “paper of record” to justify criminalizing gender⁠-⁠affirming care....

David Begley! 

As thinkers, we are disappointed to see the New York Times follow the lead of far-right hate groups in presenting gender diversity as a new controversy warranting new, punitive legislation.

I think the NYT is showing leadership and not allowing itself to be led around by the doctrinaire left.

Puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and gender⁠-⁠affirming surgeries have been standard forms of care for cis and trans people alike for decades....

Please cite the science. Is there some idea that medical treatments, once they've gone on for a while, must be correct and above question? Obviously not.

In that view, read this: "What the world can learn from a lobotomy surgeon’s horrible mistake." That's in the Washington Post, published yesterday, written by Megan McArdle.

Back to the open letter:

You no doubt recall a time in more recent history when it was ordinary to speak of homosexuality as a disease at the American family dinner table—a norm fostered in part by the New York Times’ track record of demonizing queers through the ostensible reporting of science.

In 1963, the New York Times published a front⁠-⁠page story with the title “Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern,” which stated that homosexuals saw their own sexuality as “an inborn, incurable disease”—one that scientists, the Times announced, now thought could be “cured.”

And, now, we're in a time when doctors are providing treatments for transgender persons. What is the lesson here?  

The word “gay” started making its way into the paper. Then, in 1975, the Times published an article by Clifford Jahr about a queer cruise (the kind on a boat) featuring a “sadomasochistic fashion show.” On the urging of his shocked mother, Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger sent down the order: Stop covering these people. The Times style guide was updated to include the following dictum, which stood until 1987: “Do not use gay as a synonym for homosexual unless it appears in the formal, capitalized name of an organization or in quoted matter.”

New York Times managing editor and executive editor A. M. Rosenthal neglected to put AIDS on the front page until 1983, by which time the virus had already killed 500 New Yorkers. He withheld planned promotions from colleagues he learned on the grapevine were gay. Many of his employees feared being outed. William F. Buckley published his op-ed arguing that people with HIV/AIDS should all be forcibly tattooed in the Times. Obituaries in the Times ascribed death from HIV/AIDS to “undisclosed causes” or a “rare disorder,” and left the partners of the deceased out entirely from its record of their lives. This era of hateful rhetoric also saw the rise of the term “patient zero,” used to falsely accuse an HIV/AIDS patient of deliberately infecting others. This is the same rhetoric that transphobic policymakers recently reintroduced to the American lawmaking apparatus by quoting Emily Bazelon’s Times article.

Yes, there is some bad history there. The NYT should be on guard not to make more mistakes — either similar mistakes or new mistakes overreacting to its famous old mistakes. 

Some of us are trans, non⁠-⁠binary, or gender nonconforming, and we resent the fact that our work, but not our person, is good enough for the paper of record.

What does it mean to say the NYT rejects your "person"?  

Some of us are cis, and we have seen those we love discover and fight for their true selves, often swimming upstream against currents of bigotry and pseudoscience fomented by the kind of coverage we here protest.

I do not see where they have pointed out "bigotry and pseudoscience." Perhaps they mean that the Times articles were not "bigotry and pseudoscience," but they "fomented" "bigotry and pseudoscience" in others.

All of us daresay our stance is unremarkable, even common, and certainly not deserving of the Times’ intense scrutiny. A tiny percentage of the population is trans, and an even smaller percentage of those people face the type of conflict the Times is so intent on magnifying. There is no rapt reporting on the thousands of parents who simply love and support their children, or on the hardworking professionals at the New York Times enduring a workplace made hostile by bias—a period of forbearance that ends today.

The "period of forbearance... ends today."  That made me want to go back to the Hell Gate interview to see what, specifically, this end of forbearance would look like.

The interviewer asks: "Are y'all asking the people who signed on to, for example, agree to not contribute to the Times until there is a response? Is there anything concrete like that being planned?"

Livingstone responds that there was no agreement to do anything other than to sign the letter. She adds that "there will be more letters and more kinds of venues for nonprofits and institutions to sign on" and says, "We made a gathering space that people have just come to us, ready to support."

She concludes: 

And I am proud of and grateful for everybody who is taking a risk on their future engagement by this employer, to stand with us. So when I think about all of that bravery, I feel okay, and can take a nap.

What does a man want? A wife and children who are happy to see him at the end of the day?

Recently, Matt Walsh tweeted
All a man wants is to come home from a long day at work to a grateful wife and children who are glad to see him, and dinner cooking on the stove. This is literally all it takes to make a man happy. We are simple. Give us this and you will have given us nearly everything we need.
That prompted David French to write "Men Need Purpose More Than 'Respect'" (NYT). 

French ties Walsh's statement about the joy of family life to "the demand for respect," which, he tells us is "a hallmark of much right-wing discourse about masculinity." If it's "right-wing," most NYT readers are going to think, okay, then, it's bad, so just tell us why it is bad.

At first, French gives an answer that's like the answer I came up with when I was a teenager and my father let me know he wanted respect: "[A] demand for respect or honor should be conditioned on being respectable or honorable."

He continues:
When a man demands respect without being respectable, that often looks like domination and subordination. To elevate himself, he must belittle others.

There's a lot going on there, but French immediately changes the subject to the question whether respect is "a key to happiness and meaning." And then the bulk of the column is about veterans returning from war who are often terribly unhappy, even when the world offers them great respect and they may have a loving family.

French himself served in the military — in Iraq — and he recalls coming home to his wife and children and still feeling "bereft" and "empty." He missed his military comrades and the "very clear, decisive and delineated mission" of the military.  And: "Nothing at home was comparable to the sheer intensity of my deployment abroad."

But French doesn't say what men need is discipline and intensity and other men. He says, in his conclusion, what men need is "virtuous purpose":

Virtuous purpose is worth more than any other person’s conditional and unreliable respect. It is rooted in service and sacrifice, not entitlement. And those qualities bring a degree of meaning and joy far more important than the gifts that others — the 'grateful' spouse who cooks dinner, the implausibly reverential children — can ever offer. What we do for others is infinitely more rewarding than what we ask them to do for us.

Matt Walsh and his wife have 6 children. Why isn't creating and keeping a stable, loving home with children and a wife all the virtuous purpose a man needs? There's plenty of "service and sacrifice" there. Walsh said he worked all day and felt happy to come home to a wife and children who are glad to see him. He didn't say he needed the children to be "implausibly reverential," only gladglad to see him.

The only problem with Walsh's tweet is that it's not just simple appreciation of his own life. He generalizes the simplicity: "We are simple." The simple counter-example of mentally troubled veterans powered French's essay. We are not that simple.

And yet French ended up on his own generalization: virtuous purpose. Isn't that also a "hallmark of much right-wing discourse"?

"It’s politically weird to be a very liberal Democrat and find yourself shoved in bed with, like, the governor of Texas. Am I supposed to listen to Tucker Carlson?"

Said one parent, quoted in "When Students Change Gender Identity, and Parents Don’t Know/Educators are facing wrenching new tensions over whether they should tell parents when students socially transition at school" (NYT).
[D]ozens of parents whose children have socially transitioned at school told The Times they felt villainized by educators who seemed to think that they — not the parents — knew what was best for their children.... Although some didn’t want their children to transition at all, others said they were open to it, but felt schools forced the process to move too quickly, and that they couldn’t raise concerns without being cut out completely or having their home labeled “unsafe.”... 
One mother in California shared messages that her teenager’s teacher had sent through the school’s web portal encouraging the student to obtain medical care, housing and legal advice without the parents’ knowledge. A lawsuit filed against a school district in Wisconsin included a photo of a teacher’s flyer posted at school that stated: “If your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now.”

The top-rated comment over there — from someone called "It’s Wrong" — is:

I teach at a middle school in Bergen County, NJ. This year, the teachers in my school were specifically instructed not to tell parents if their kids start using a new name or ask to be referred to with non-sex-based pronouns or use the opposite-sex bathroom. After 15 years of never having a trans-identified kid in my classroom, I’ve had several just in the last couple of years. All were girls and all had serious mental health issues. 
I have a background in psychology. I can read and understand scientific literature. So my opinions on this issue are informed by data, not politics. I am certain that these girls’ mental health issues are the cause of their trans identities, not the effect. The number of trans-identifying kids has exploded. If trans people were simply coming out in greater numbers now because it’s now safer, we’d see kids of both sexes coming out, not mainly girls. And we’d see people of all ages coming out, not mainly teens and pre-teens. Social contagion of psychological symptoms among adolescent girls is a real phenomenon — DID and Tourette’s on TikTok today, bulimia and anorexia in the 80s and 90s, Beatlemania-style fainting in the 1960s, “hysterical” disorders of the early 20th century— all the way back to the supposed possession of the Salem witch trials.

We teachers are hiding important information about kids’ mental health from their parents. That’s wrong. Parents have a right to know. 

Second highest rated, from "Reasonable Person":

I’ve been a teacher for quite a while. Teaching has always been loosely aligned with liberal values, but I never felt like I was part of an explicit political organization until the last few years. The zeal with which school systems have pursued and advocated for left-wing identity politics no longer feels like being “supportive,” it feels like we’re being persuasive: join us, children, as we dismantle the evil systems (systemic racism! the patriarchy! the gender binary!) that your parents have wrought.

It’s frankly a little bit creepy and cultish at times, and it needs to stop.

"And so the British and US right have apparently condemned themselves to a political doom loop: savaging the progressive values of younger generations..."

"... and in doing so driving them further into the arms of the left. This bile may serve a short-term political purpose in rallying the core vote of the Tories and Republicans, but it seems that conservatives have thought little about what will happen as younger generations come of age politically and culturally. Perhaps rightwingers believed that the historic precedent of voters shifting rightwards with age would automatically assert itself, however much the young remained locked out of the prosperity their parents had enjoyed. What’s intriguing is how rightwing politicians and commentators alike have doubled down on poisonous invectives that alienate young people. Perhaps this is evidence of a fatalism: they know their fate is sealed, so nothing is to be gained from restraint."

Writes Owen Jones in "The right thrives on bullying 'snowflakes.' But who will vote for it when they grow old?" (The Guardian).

"'Fuck Biden,' 'Don't Tread on Me,' and a Wisconsin Death Trip for Our Times."

"The author knocks on the doors bearing the darkest symbols, behind which lie guns, ammo, antisemitism, antiabortion dogma—and a belief in the coming civil war."

A long article by Jeff Sharlet in Vanity Fair.


Rob called himself “pro-choice,” but that term means something different in his vernacular. He meant the choice of whether or not to murder a baby is up to you. “If you choose to do something that’s medically possible, I’m going to leave it between you and God, until it affects me in the state of readiness of my defense.” Readiness. It requires panopticon paranoia, looking for threats down every sight line. Rob looked at falling birth rates. He looked at what he considered Mexico’s invasion. He looked at what he suspected would be civil war according to a rural/urban divide—in which, even though he lived in town, he would side with the land he held outside of it. He looked at China, he noted they ended their population control program in 2021, he contemplated 1.4 billion Red Chinese divided by half and then by some factor again to account for age and thinks of hundreds of millions of Chinese wombs churning out multiple Chinese babies (in fact, the Chinese birth rate is falling) and he thought, “they’re getting ready.” For the future war. “You start prepping several generations ahead to have bodies when you lose so many bodies that you need a level of fresh bodies you never dreamed you’d have to dig into.”

This way of thinking was, he acknowledged, “macabre.” But the macabre has flowed into the mainstream....

"Even taking at face value Mr. Trump’s protestation that he knew nothing of [Nick] Fuentes, the apparent ease with which Mr. Fuentes arrived at the home of [the] former president..."

"... underscores the undisciplined, uncontrolled nature of Mr. Trump’s post-presidency just 10 days into his third campaign for the White House. A handful of Republicans, including at least one close ally of Mr. Trump’s, castigated him over meeting both Mr. Fuentes and Mr. West.... Mr. Fuentes... is best known for running a white nationalist youth organization known as America First, whose adherents call themselves groypers or the Groyper Army. In the wake of Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020, Mr. Fuentes and the groypers were involved in a series of public events supporting the former president. At a so-called 'Stop the Steal' rally in Washington in November 2020, Mr. Fuentes urged his followers to 'storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.'... On Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Fuentes led a large group of groypers to the Capitol where they rallied outside in support of Mr. Trump. The next day, Mr. Fuentes wrote on Twitter that the assault on the Capitol was 'awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.'"

Writes Maggie Haberman, in "Trump’s Latest Dinner Guest: Nick Fuentes, White Supremacist/The former president’s table for four at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday also included Kanye West, whose antisemitic statements have made him an entertainment-industry outcast" (NYT).

Haberman never explains the term "groypers," which I don't remember seeing before. There's a Wikipedia article "Groypers":

Groypers are named after a cartoon amphibian named "Groyper", which is a variant of the Internet meme Pepe the Frog. Groyper is depicted as a rotund, green, frog-like creature, often in a sitting position with its chin resting on interlocked fingers....

In 2018, a group of computer scientists studying hateful speech on Twitter observed the Groyper image being used frequently in account avatars among the accounts identified as "hateful" in their dataset.... [T]hey detected that the users were not "lone wolves" and the individuals could be identified as a community with a high network centrality....

Followers of Nick Fuentes began to be known as Groypers beginning in 2019. Fuentes' followers are also sometimes called "Nickers."...

I blogged yesterday about Trump's hard-to-believe assertion that he knew "nothing" about Fuentes, that Fuentes was just "a guest" that came along with Kanye West. I see from Haberman's article that Trump went on to make another statements.  Here it is, on Truth:

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was asking me for advice concerning some of his difficulties, in particular having to do with his business. We also discussed, to a lesser extent, politics, where I told him he should definitely not run for President, “any voters you may have should vote for TRUMP.” Anyway, we got along great, he expressed no anti-Semitism, & I appreciated all of the nice things he said about me on “Tucker Carlson.” Why wouldn’t I agree to meet? Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes.

Also, I didn’t know Nick Fuentes — just an afterthought. I guess there are Trump diehards who accept that statement, but come on? Who believes that? I guess it depends on the meaning of "know." He didn't say I've never heard of him or I didn't know anything about him. "I didn't know" him means I'd never met him personally. Completely 100% true.

But if you belief that, the assertion is utterly meaningless as an explanation for why he had dinner with him. If he knew about him, he wasn't just Ye's plus-one.

The wrong masculinity.

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