« What the heck is Hindrocket smoking? | Main | Eight Million Freedom Fighters »

February 01, 2005

Comments

Let me say that Republicans--all Republicans save a very few--by backing George W. Bush and refusing to clean their own house after Abu Ghraib *have* brought shame upon this country.

"all Republicans save a very few"

Prof. DeLong, I'm perhaps somewhat to the left of you and find this a harsh standard - do you think a similar statement could have been made about the let's say post-WWII Democrats at any point? About the Republicans post-Nixon pre-Iraq War?

(applause)

When Moe blew up at me, the election hadn't happened yet, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to foresee Abu Ghraib in 2000, especially since at that time Bush showed no signs of interest in foreign policy. So I would clearly have been wrong about "Republicans" then.

As for now: I think that Republicans who didn't vote for Bush (and I know some) are clearly not involved in any shame. I'd argue as well for those who sincerely believed that something else mattered more, but who took Abu Ghraib etc. seriously -- to use Katherine's example, the Republican analogs of Democrats voting for FDR after he interned the Japanese. (We can disagree later about whether the beliefs that make them the analogs of those Democrats are right; the point is that there are people who hold them in good faith.)

I do, however, think that those who don't take torture seriously, who dismiss this as a partisan issue or a concern with coddling terrorists or something, have been Bush's enablers, and that they have some share of the responsibility not for the fact that the various episodes of torture occurred in the future, but for the fact that no one at a senior level has been held accountable for them. And I think that this fact is to our shame as a country.

Ah, The Left.

It's the vagueness that does it. The Amazing Left! The perfect addition to any warblog. It can grow large enough to include the 57 million American voters who voted against George W. Bush, and shrink small enough to be represented by Ramsey Clark and Ward Churchill--in mere seconds--and according to YOUR political convenience!

For a long time I told myself, oh, they're not talking about me. But you know what? They pretty much are.

For the record: I have lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the past five years--the city where the socialist workers' association's office is right next to the Chamber of Commerce, and looks from the outside like it might be better funded. Maybe the largest city in America where Ralph Nader beat George W. Bush in 2000. I still see more Dennis Kucinich bumper stickers on cars here than Bush stickers. I go to one of those infamous liberal universities, my husband to another, and before that we spent four years at a third. Among our friends and family, Kerry voters outnumber Bush voters by maybe 20 to 1. People who have been to an antiwar protest or volunteered for a Democratic campaign outnumber Bush voters by about 5 to 1. I attend a synagogue where they use the word "heterosexism" in their sermons. I have worked mainly in non-profit summer jobs. When I'm not in Cambridge I'm most often in Park Slope. I am about as ensconced in the northeast liberal latte sipping New York Times reading yadda yadda left wing freakshow bubble as one can be.

I have never, ever, ever heard anyone say anything remotely resembling what Churchill said. I can't imagine anyone I know saying it, and I can't imagine how I would react. It is so utterly disgusting to me that I am having a hard time expressing it. Of all my family, all my friends, all my professors, all my coworkers at environmental NGOs, all my and my husband's classmates, the number I can imagine agreeing with Churchill is exactly 0.

The number of people who were evacuated from their apartment for weeks: 1. The number of people who saw it fall in person: at least 5 that I know of, probably many more than that. Families who moved out of the city: 1. Families who thought about it: a lot more than that. Average degrees of separation between us and someone who was there: 2-3. (with many potential paths. Take me: sister's coworker and coworker's fiance on Flight 11. In-laws' tenant, though he survived. Father-in-law's work aquaintance's son. Friend of family my sister babysat for.) Sisters of mine who were supposed to be on Wall Street that morning: 1. Sisters of mine who lived within a city block of an anthrax-contaminated post office: 1. Number of months it took to look at a plane, and NOT follow it with your eyes to make sure it wouldn't crash into a building: 3-9.

It's very hard to believe Reynolds doesn't know that. Certainly he used to know it.

Just to add to Katherine's post: I grew up in Cambridge MA, which is all she said it was and more. I am, heaven help us, a Harvard faculty brat. When I was nine, and watching the '68 convention, the father of the friend at whose house I was watching it said something that made it clear that he was for Humphrey, and I was amazed, since it had never occurred to me that I would ever actually meet anyone who was for someone as far right as Humphrey. Nixon voters might as well have been hippogriffs or mermen as far as I was concerned. I then went off to another Ivy for college, moved to Berkeley, then to Sweden, then to Israel, and then back to Harvard again. Since then I have been teaching in what we all know to be the liberal academy. In between I have worked in a center for abused children, and spent five years working in a battered women's shelter. I also did research for a commission headed by Olof Palme (a socialist!!!) on disarmament. I used to help my sister, who works in low-income housing and childcare, do surveys of abandoned housing in Boston for fun! My best friend, after getting her medical degree, went off and worked on a number of Native American reservations. I mean, I could go on and on. I know leftists.

And I have never heard anyone say anything like what Ward Churchill said either. Or, I take that back: I have heard of one person I know who said that, but he's in another country, and more or less mad. (He supported Pol Pot too. Not a friend of mine.) Other than that, no one at all. Ever. I also don't know anyone who hates America, for what it's worth. Or wants Zarqawi/Baathists/whoever to win. Or any of that stuff.

hilzoy, are you a member of DSA?

And is it me or do many right-wing media elite sound like some other angry right-wingers?

principal accusation against the Jews within Nazi Germany was that they were urban, intellectual, bearers of a destructive corrupting "critical spirit." The book bonfire of May 1933 was launched with Goebbels's cry: "The age of extreme Jewish intellectualism has now ended, and the success of the German revolution has again given the right of way to the German spirit." And when Goebbels officially forbade art criticism in November 1936, it was for having "typically Jewish traits of character": putting the head over the heart, the individual over the community, intellect over feeling. In the transformed thematics of latter-day fascism, the Jews no longer play the role of defiler. It is "civilization" itself.

I know it is soooo bad to do the anology, but I couldn't find the anti-critical stuff by Mussolini.

funny, the best word i can apply to Glennuendo is "fellow traveller". some people in the administration, or their high-level advisors, are to me just plain evil. Grover Norquist, for example, honestly appears to desire a country where the poor know their place. Rumsfeld, who was so sure of his poor quality intelligence that he said, re the WMD, we know where they are. yet when he sent his army to war, there weren't enough men to secure the KNOWN weapon sites.

many conservatives, including all those who post here, are as best i can tell honorable people who believe, among other things, that individual responsibility is a value which outweighs various notions of social justice, and that american exceptionalism justifies preventive warfare.

pretty clearly i think you're collectively wrong. but the posters and commenters here deserve respect from us liberals for arguing fairly and legitmately for their beliefs.

glenn, and hindrocket, and lgf, and lileks, to the extent i read their "analyses" any more, are just plain crap. they are HATERS and COWARDS, and, what's worse, they're proud of it.

one of the nice things about being in the minority is that you don't really have to worry about your fellow travellers. after all, we're out of power. Michael moore is not a friend of the president.

the lewinsky scandal, by contrast, was embarrassing and awful. how could the president have been so damn stupid? I got to own, so to speak, the lewinsky scandal.

Republicans of all stripes now get to own Abu Ghraib, WMD lies and Soc Sec reform based on lies. Yet leading republican posters seem to focus on nothing but some mythological version of the left.

i certainly don't agree with everything written at Orcinus. but i understand how he can feel that way. how much longer will the republicans with integrity, including those who post here, will include the liars, the cowards, and the thugs in their fold?

Francis

p.s. i'm bitter, angry, overworked, underslept and a little crocked. but i'm also profoundly worried that too many people are so focused on the substantive solution -- be it soc sec reform or remaking the middle east -- that they have forgotten that PROCESS matters just as much in a democracy.

pps: put simply -- someday the wheel will turn.

ppps: how will republicans who post here feel about a democratic bill frist running roughshod over senatorial precedent in order to achieve the party's goal? how many conservatives here have pointed out to their elected representatives that they are setting a profoundly dangerous precedent that most certainly will be used against the republican party the next time the opportunity presents itself?

Right-Wing critiques of Liberalism:

Type: Liberalism, in the search engine.

It seems, throughout history many "Nationalist Spirit" types didn't care for Liberalism/Leftist

"how many conservatives here have pointed out to their elected representatives that they are setting a profoundly dangerous precedent that most certainly will be used against the republican party the next time the opportunity presents itself?"

fdl, are you and I going to be raising a ruckus when the wheel turns and Speaker of the House, uhh, Jesurgislac is running roughshod over Minority Leader Slart and justifying the Delayian tactics by saying it's the Democrats' turn to party?

NeoDude: Be very careful with that analogy. There are similarities between Hitler and all sorts of people, IF you overlook what made him Hitler. I imagine that he and I are similar in that we both believed that 2+2=4, for instance, and of course we're both members of the human species, and both of us like art. This is of course an extreme example; but if someone said I was like Hitler, and then said "I mean, in that you both accept basic truths of arithmetic", I would find that disingenuous.

Your example is less disingenuous, but for that reason more likely to be taken wrong. There are also various true claims of the form "Hitler attacked certain people as X, and I attack certain beings as X". (He said that Jews were not full human beings. I think that rocks are not full human beings. I am right, and the fact that Hitler made a similar attack against a different group of beings and was profoundly wrong does not change that fact.)

Likewise, I suppose there are people somewhere who have a 'corrupting spirit'. If I felt like going to the trouble of figuring out who I think this about, I might turn out to have this in common with him too. But this would overlook a lot of critical differences between us. Most notably: I do not wish to kill them. I do not wish to imprison them or deprive them of rights. I do not identify them as Jews, or as members of any other hereditary group. And I do not say that part of their problem is that they 'exalt the individual over the community'.

Now: suppose, arguendo, that some conservative somewhere makes basically the claim I have imagined myself making about someone, call that someone X, but likewise does not want to kill X, want to imprison X or deprive X of rights, identify X as a Jew or as a member of any other hereditary group, or say that part of what's wrong with X is that X exalts the individual over the community. You might argue that that conservative has something in common with Hitler. You might be right. But that would be a subtler version of the 'both you and Hitler think that 2+2=4' claim: true, but inflammatory unless you state it very clearly, since no one thinks that believing that 2+2=4 is the salient feature of Hitler. And because it's subtler, it's easier to mistake for the genuinely odious comparison.

Or, in short: you're right, you shouldn't make that comparison.

I agree that people shouldn't be tarred with every ugliness that people who sort of agree with them on a couple of economic issues.

I am however really surprised to hear from both Katherine and Hilzoy that neither has personally heard anything as shocking. I am most definitely not on the left. I went to college in one of the more conservative cities in California (which I will admit isn't saying that much). But on three completely separate occasions with three separate student leftists I have been personally (to my face)accused of being a supporter of apartheid because I don't like affirmative action--a charge so ridiculous as to be almost funny to anyone who knows me since if anything I am so race blind as to possibly overestimate the ability of people not raised as I was to ignore race. On one other occasion I was accused of being a KKK member for the same reason--a charge which is in my mind almost precisely as bad as accusing me of being a NAZI. I had a Jewish friend who was told that having supported Reagan was like voting for a government that sent 'his people' to the gas chambers. On a number of occasions I have been informed by gay acquaintances that voting for Republicans made me a collaborator, and that such people would have been shot in a war. Bush is regularly compared to Hitler--and has been since before 9-11. Fighting against capitalism and free trade was explicitly used to ratify terrorism by all sort of members of the huge anti-globalisation movement during the 1990-2001 period. The concept that such ideas are difficult to find is rather surprising to me.

NeoDude: I forgot a crucial premiss in the above, namely: Instapundit does not want to kill liberals, want to imprison liberals or deprive them of rights, identify them as Jews or as members of any other hereditary group, or say that part of what's wrong with liberals is that they exalt the individual over the community.

rilkefan: I'll be there. I am bipartisan about stuff like that.

"On a number of occasions I have been informed by gay acquaintances that voting for Republicans made me a collaborator, and that such people would have been shot in a war." Hmm, I should preview. That sentence started off with me about to share a sentiment that had been expressed by a number of gay acquaintances, but ended up reminding me of one really egregious one which is found in the second and third clauses of the sentence.

Sebastian: I was thinking of hearing liberals say, apparently with what's-his-name (I really have never heard of him, and don't want to bestow on him the effort needed to scroll up and find out his name. Ward whosis.) that 9/11 was justified. That is: I haven't heard liberals talking the way Instapundit or Prager suppose that we do, or hold the views they take to be emblematic of "the left". I have of course heard people on both sides malign their opponents in idiotic ways. (Lucky me was, in college, the only person I knew to oppose divesting from South Africa. I recall my roommate screaming at me: you just don't CARE about the children of Soweto! Blah blah blah. Later, I gave up on actually doing things with Cambridge feminists, as opposed to working in the shelter and trying to do feminist things on my own, because I had one too many people hear that I was working on Kant and accuse me of being a tool of the patriarchy. Which would have been OK, if surprising, coming from people who knew me, but these were strangers I'd never met before, who had no idea about what I was like, for better or for worse. It got tiresome.)

So yeah, that, sure. But people actually conforming to the stereotype, no.

I should say that while I gave you liberals being silly, it is of course also true that I have been told, sometimes on this very blog, that I am aiding and abetting terrorists, do not care about the sufferings of Iraqis under Saddam, and so forth. Tiresome either way. I just ran into it once too often, and out popped this post.

This is all a preamble to the following question: when people talk about "the Left", who, exactly, do they have in mind? I have no idea. And I suspect that the idea that there is something called 'the Left' which is large enough to be worth talking about is often simply a figment of the various writers' imaginations, and that they can only believe this 'Left' to be a real, significant group because they do not force themselves to identify who they are talking about more precisely.

I believe that there is an element of that, but it's not *always* the case. I'd be interested to know what you think of this post by Tim Burke, hilzoy.

"I have of course heard people on both sides malign their opponents in idiotic ways."

Ok, but let's look at the quote which caused the outrage:

As to those in the World Trade Center: Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire--the 'mighty engine of profit' to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved--and they did so both willingly and knowingly. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it."

Ward clearly sees those who support capitalism as his opponents. Really he is just maligning them in an idiotic way. The main difference between him and the gay acquaintance who was suggesting that I should be shot for voting Republican is that Ward was maligning people who were already dead rather than suggesting that I ought to be.

The concept that such ideas are difficult to find is rather surprising to me.

FWIW, I have heard such sentiments expressed... but never from American leftists short of the Communists down the street. [Europeans? That's a whole 'nother ballgame.] And when I say Communists, I mean dues-paying members of the Communist Party of the United States of America or whatever its official name is nowadays.

I know there are other wacko, fringey leftists here in Madison -- they come out of the woodwork at inopportune moments like anti-war rallies -- but you really do have to go out of your way to find them. They're simply not as common as you might think, or as common as the news reports would have you believe.

And rilkefan, if it's good enough for you and hilzoy, it's good enough for me. I'm in too.

BTW, hilzoy, is this really what you meant?

Likewise, I use 'the right' to refer to people who are clearly Republicans, and 'the center' to refer to people who are not firmly in either party. (Unless, of course, they are clearly in some party to the left of the Democrats or to the right of the Republicans.)

To Josh: this quote from your posted article...

So if you want to know what libertarian-leaning conservatives think on a particular issue, you go and read Ayn Rand, Barry Goldwater, Virginia Postrel and Robert A. Heinlein.

...is simply wrong IME. Not that all four aren't important voices in the conservatarian community, but you just don't find that many doctrinaire libertarians out there who adhere to a name that most non-libertarians would recognize. The last pure Randian I knew was Arthur Silber of the Light Of Reason, who has since declared himself an anarchist/minarchist (IIRC) and a sort of Randian apostate.

[This is one of the things I find endlessly frustrating about debating against libertarians: it's almost impossible to figure out what their policy positions are without a fairly exhaustive questionnaire, which means that every debate has to start at beginning every time.]

I can only conclude that your acquaintances are addlebrained from too much sun; you need to come east and north....

unless you're talking about random people on the street trying to hand you pamphlets? I mean, I'm sure if I struck up with LaRouchies or ANSWER people or 15 year old faux-anarchists or that guy who screamed curses at Bush in Union Square all last summer I could find someone who said crazy stuff, but I could also get a pretty decent right of center analogue from the people handing out religious tracts or from flipping on my local talk radio station. It's not hard to find at all...if you look for it, and actually engage those people in conversation instead of hurrying past. If you don't, not so much.

I also see quite a difference between casually tossing off that a political opponent is an apartheid supporter(and believe me, I've gotten casually accused of supporting communism) or making an idiotic (and highly unimaginative) comparison of a President and Hitler (again, I have seen similar, though it's as apt to be Stalin or Lenin or Pol Pot as Hitler when you're talking about Democrats...the federalist society ditty about Lenin and Brennan comes to mind), and saying that an actual murder victim is a "little Eichmann" who had it coming. There is a world of difference between Clarence Thomas' "Save America, Bomb Yale Law School" sign, and Ann Coulter's statement that "my only regret with Tim McVeigh is that he did not go to the New York Times Building", because Thomas' sign is clearly not serious, while Tim McVeigh actually murdered people.

"And rilkefan, if it's good enough for you and hilzoy, it's good enough for me."

Depending on the state of the SCOTUS and the country at the time, it may be too good for me...

This is one of the things I find endlessly frustrating about debating against libertarians: it's almost impossible to figure out what their policy positions are without a fairly exhaustive questionnaire, which means that every debate has to start at beginning every time.

Funny because it is true. But really, what do you expect from people who are aggresively individualistic? A large group of things they have in common?

unless you're talking about random people on the street trying to hand you pamphlets? I mean, I'm sure if I struck up with LaRouchies or ANSWER people or 15 year old faux-anarchists or that guy who screamed curses at Bush in Union Square all last summer I could find someone who said crazy stuff, but I could also get a pretty decent right of center analogue from the people handing out religious tracts or from flipping on my local talk radio station. It's not hard to find at all...if you look for it, and actually engage those people in conversation instead of hurrying past. If you don't, not so much.

???

I think I would have mentioned that. Sheesh.

I don't think telling a Jewish person that voting for Reagan was like voting for a government that would send his people to the gas chambers counts as "casually tossing off" and neither does telling me at a birthday party that I deserve to be shot as a gay Republican. But if you don't think there is a distinction I honestly don't know what to say.

Josh
Thanks for that link to Tim Burke. I would counter that point by noting this

I found some of the emails and bulletin board postings that I thought were good examples, and forwarded them with identifiers stripped off. These, commented my acquaintance, were just lunatics and fringe elements. I countered with a number of published pieces by intellectuals on the left, most notably Chomsky. He’s unrepresentative, shrugged my acquaintance.

This made me angry then and still irritates me somewhat as I think back on it. I felt this was an attack on my integrity. However, since that time, it’s become clear to me that there is a much, much deeper problem of perception involved.

At the risk of making this another thread about someone who no one seems to have read, it's relatively important to note that the background of people's opinions. How they got there rather than where they happen to be. Tim wants to take Chomsky as representative of the left, but his position in relation to the left is similar to Nader's position to the Dems. Anarch points out the elisions made with libertarians.

And I have to say, if you are hearing these arguments a lot, Seb, I would guess that you are engaging in a fair amount of knock down drag out fights. I recall Andrew Sullivan's anecdote of how they bought champagne and had a party celebrating the arrival of US nukes to Europe when he was at Oxford. If you do something like that, you may expect to attract people who say stuff like that.

" The main difference between him and the gay acquaintance who was suggesting that I should be shot for voting Republican is that Ward was maligning people who were already dead rather than suggesting that I ought to be."

Bingo. I doubt your acquaintance actually meant it, and if you had actually been shot by some radical gay activist as a collaborator, I really, really, doubt that he would have said, even several years later, that it was in any way justified. (It's possible, of course; I've never met the guy. But I've never had the misfortune of having a conversation with someone who was that big an a**hole about politics.)

For other examples of "they don't actually mean it": I don't think Fred Barnes actually would defend the Bush administration if it actually criminalized even extreme anti-Iraq-war speech.

I don't think Stephen den Beste really meant it when he said that, "when I’ve read news reports lately about some kinds of obnoxious protests, I have mused to myself, “Perhaps it’s time to issue shoot-to-kill orders to security guards.” Perhaps if some people who made grandstanding protests ended up dead, it might cause others to start really thinking about the consequences of their behavior." I don't think Glenn Reynolds actually means it when he states that "And here’s a question: Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn’t exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority — or even a large and angry minority — of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic. How far are we from that point?"

If the press actually was being censored, though, or non-violent protesters really were being shot, though, I would conclude that they DID mean it.

I should also add, I have a rough scale of depreciation of statements that goes something like this.

Anything spoken comes in a lot lower than anything written, and for written it's
blog comments

I also depreciate heavily when if there is above average volume, any sharp changes in volume, a profusion of gestures, spittle and any accompanied alcohol. YMMV

Ouch, the less than signs didn't work. Duh.

Something written and published as a book
Something written in a more time sensitive medium
front page post on a blog
a public email exchange
a private email exchange
a blog comment

Last post before I go to bed. (Note to self: reform sleep habits. Term has started.)

Josh: I basically agree with the post that you cited -- at least with its main point. I don't know how to find "typical" leftists. I do tend to think that if I don't know anyone who holds a given view -- e.g., if (as is the case) everyone I know was transfixed with horror on 9/11, and never thought for a moment that we "deserved" it -- that it can't be typical. (I am just going to leave out, for the duration, the non-American supporter of Pol Pot, who is, trust me, not representative of anything.)

I disagree with his assessment of Chomsky (great linguist, not so great writer on politics, has the sort of following that Ayn Rand might have had if she had never tried to build up an organization and never had money to build it with); ANSWER (got play only because they were holding practically the only demonstrations against the war that there were, and because sometimes people go to a demonstration because they oppose what's being demonstrated against without checking out the sponsor), postcolonial theory (big in the early 90s among lit professors, has been in eclipse for some time, AFAIK; but then, how many lit professors are there?) etc.

I was basically just offering my sense that while I am sure there are people who hold those views (or virtually any other; best I can tell there's almost no view so odd that someone, somewhere doesn't believe it), they are not standard. Also, that I think that Instapundit (for instance) trades on ambiguity about who he has in mind. I am willing to be disproved.

Sebastian: Good point. I tend to think, about conversations, that lots of people can say idiotic things, and I should wait for a trend to develop before holding things against them. (The roommate who said I didn't care about the children of Soweto was very nice, normally.) Books are different, and blog posts should be different, at least in this sense: you should be willing to stand behind what you write, and unlike conversation, you do have the opportunity to preview and revise before posting. I also tend to cut people a bit of slack on issues that affect them deeply, and that they take very personally. (Not enough slack to think that it's OK for someone to suggest that you should be shot. I think that's just out.) But there's a reason I focussed on published, or quasi-published, stuff.

Anarch: People in parties to the left of Democrats, or who waver between such parties and the Democratic party: left. (Greens. The SWP.) People in parties to the right of Republicans, or etc.: right. (Libertarians, Natural Law party, etc.) Centists: people who waver between Dem and Rep, or who are not clearly in either, where 'clearly' is construed to include, say, my relation to the Democrats, despite the fact that there are issues on which I disagree with them.

And by 'in a party' I didn't mean 'a registered member'. Independents who would obviously be Democrats if hey did: left. Etc. (Zell Miller: Republican.)

General note: what bugs me about, say, Instapundit's post is that I think that he regards his accusations against 'the Left' seriously insofar as it underwrites his view of 'the Left' generally, but not seriously in whatever sense would make him stop and think before he said such things about people. The loose way he writes suggests that he doesn't think that his accusations are that serious; the ensuing venom, by contrast, suggests that he does.

I think this is exactly the reverse of the way it should be. You should always consider the seriousness of any accusation you make before you make it. This just follows from the idea that people should be responsible, and hold themselves to standards. You should also be hesitant to draw conclusions about someone's character based on what you say (where 'hesitant' doesn't mean: never willing to no matter what, but rather: mindful of the possibility that you might have got it wrong.)

Or, in general: the point of morality is first and foremost to govern your own conduct, and only as a distant second to point fingers at other people and find them wanting. To make serious criticisms of other people's moral character without fulfilling your own obligation to speak responsibly gets things precisely backwards. IMHO.

okay, then I'm going back to the addle-brained from the sun hypothesis. And what I mean by "casually tossing off" was not that you should take it casually or that it was any less insulting, but that it was not really thought through. I don't know the circumstances obviously but--I don't think Charles really believes that Ted Kennedy's will is what prevents us from winning the war in Iraq, and I don't think that Timmy really thinks we're comparable to Walter Duranty, and I don't think that my law school acquaintance was seriously suggesting that Hillary had hidden Vince Foster's body, or that I cared more about the terrorists' rights than my family's safety, and those are all conversations where there was NOT alcohol involved. I think further that if you get into "someone said something appalling to my friend", rather than just to me, we could do this indefinitely.

hilzoy,

your point is taken.

However, it is hard to ignore the similarities, when my political theory/ideology gets maligned in similiar fashion. Accusations of treason and questions conserning my moral health are hard to ignore.

I don't think it's as simple as believeing 2+2=4. It's more like group A believes 2+2=4 is simple math, while group B believes 2+2=4 is the first step to the divine.
I could remark, "Wow, group B sure sounds like Pythagoras and his followers."

Yes, it would be more responsible to investigate fully and be intellectually fair and flesh out how group B may have very little in common with the Pythagorians (how many times do folks remind us that the NAZI were socialist...they were right-wing socialist).

But we are fed a steady diet from the right-wing media elite, that fault Liberalism/Leftist for everything, much like German Nationalist did their Liberals/Leftists. They lump all ideologies outside of the Party as lacking good German character, foriegn to the German Spirit.

And by the way...if one reads Leo Stauss long enough, one can get the feeling that his only real beef with German Nationalism was its anti-Semitism. If the Nazis could have been more inclusive, "a bigger tent" if you will, one beleives he would have joined.

anyway...I'll try to watch it.

I was radicalized by a bunch of old Zionist Labour types and LAUSD Feminists, so I can be a bit more agressive and obnoxious.

It's very odd. My recollection is, that the very first jerks to say that America had "deserved" 9/11, had "brought it on themselves", weren't anywhere near "the Left" (however "the Left" is defined): they were a pair of fundie-Christian right-wing jerks, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system. cite

It would seem, in a rational universe, that we ought to be able to agree that only a jerk would say, to people who never supported al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda's ideals/goals/principles/whatever you like, "You are responsible for this!" just because these people don't share the jerk's politics.

And we can also agree, in a rational universe, that jerks exist of all stripes and politics.

"I think further that if you get into "someone said something appalling to my friend", rather than just to me, we could do this indefinitely."

The whole point of the early posts in this thread seemed to me that we could not do this indefinitely because two people who were deeply involved in the left had never heard of such things.

And I pointed out a number of things which were said to me, and the 'sending your own people to the camps' thing was personally witnessed by me. It isn't as if I'm spouting off third-hand friend-of-a-friend-of-an-uncle stories.

Do we really think Ward meant it either? He is a university professor who clearly likes being outrageous publishing in one of the numerous university periodicals where it is highly fashionable to be anti-American. Maybe we shouldn't be offended by him either.

Do we really think Ward meant it either?

We don't really know, do we? We only have a secone hand report from Instapundit to go on. So, here goes

bio

Well, what do you know? He's a Native American, which might put some of this in context, mightn't it?

I'm sure that Ward "means" it. But as I said, if you look at where he came from to get to where he is, (which is not where most people on the Left are, Chomsky and Fisk both made unequivocal statements condemning the 9-11 attacks, right?) you might not simply take his place of employment as a metric for where he stands on the political spectrum.

if you were there I apologize. I was not there when, for example, my sister in law was asked where her horns were (she's Jewish) or my husband's roommate was disowned for his sexual orientation. And I don't say I've never heard of such things. I've heard OF them, but I have not heard them firsthand from anyone except a wacko pamphleteer or "street theater" artist, so to call them "the true face of the left" is an appalling, indefensible slur and I don't know why every weblog in creation feels compelled to link to him. I was not saying you should not be offended, simply saying that I considered what Churchill said MORE offensive.

And yes, I think it is worse to suggest that people deserved to be murdered after they actually are murdered. Do you remember the thing I wrote a while back, "Failures of Imagination"? Usually we need a certain level of abstraction & disconnect to say idiotic, offensive, indefensible things, and the fact that someone was actually murdered, or raped, or tortured is enough to cut through the bullsh*t for enough people, and when even that can't do it, then I think they are further gone.

If you can say in some abstract sense that AIDS is God's just punishment for homosexuality that's awful. If you see a human being in front of you actually go through that horror, and think or say "this is God's just punishment for homosexuality", that's worse. If you defend torture warrants based on an abstract hypthetical and maybe a 24 episode or two, that's not good. If you defend it after reading detailed accounts of what has actually happened, to possibly innocent people, that's worse. It's awful for anyone to concoct some theoretical justification of suicide bombings. It's worse for them to stand there over smoking ruins and bleeding bodies and tell themselves it was justified.

In September 11, we saw a mass murder of innocents in one of our own cities--either live or over and over again on T.V. It was as concrete, as close to home as it is possible for such a thing to be. (It was especially close to home if you're from the New York area, or to a lesser extent the D.C. or Boston areas--so it's possible that things are a little different on the West coast or in Denver. But considering how much of THE LEFT is in the northeast...) It required very little imagination to realize that such a thing could never be justified or excused, and there were very, very, very few people who were willing to try to excuse it.

Sebastian: And I pointed out a number of things which were said to me, and the 'sending your own people to the camps' thing was personally witnessed by me. It isn't as if I'm spouting off third-hand friend-of-a-friend-of-an-uncle stories.

So, since Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also said that Americans deserved 9/11 and had brought it on themselves, can we say that it's typical of "the Right"?

Hilzoy, I read your very well thought out post and pondered a response. Then I read the first farcical comment and thought my leg was being pulled but I felt I would go along with the gag, which must have been designed to bait newbies like me. Is this a genuine effort to elicit comments from the right or a BushBashFest?

For the record, here is Churchill's essay that forms the basis for his talk. Also, here is his statement on the controversy and what's currently happening now

The essay, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, was intended to make the point "that we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the consequences."

Denying that he is a "defender" of the September 11 attacks, Churchill said, he had simply been "pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned.

"I have never said that people "should" engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, 'Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable'.

This point is not new. I would point you to Camus' _Les Justes_

whenever i catch someone saying "the left" is bordering on treason, i tell them they should alert their local law enforcement at once. failing to do so would be to allow it to continue and that would make them... complicit in the crime.

I'm coming into the thread rather late, but I do have a few comments to make. The first is that, I'm going to agree with those who are pretty sure that this Churchill guy is a poseur. Rachel Corrie was willing to die for her beliefs; this Churchill fellow runs around posing for http://www.satyamag.com/apr04/churchill.html>absurd photographs.

The other thought is that I think that to some extent that one can get a rather screwed up impression of the political left because the people who shout the loudest get the most attention. This was especially acute during the anti-WTO protests and the run-up to the Iraq unpleasantness. After all, whose going to get more attention: the PTA member who happens to believe that his government not leap headlong into a foolish policy, or a rasta-Aryan (my ex-roommate's neologism to refer to white people with dredlocks) Marxist with a huge paper mache puppet?

I would maybe even be willing to cut a professor some slack. If you're in academia, the political spectrum generally runs from Marxists and Post-Colonial theorists on the left to DLC style Democrats on the extreme right. If you spend enough time in such a fishbowl, you might eventually come to the conclusion that the Marxists, and particularly the loud and stupid ones, represent the face of the left. Though I am perhaps giving Glenn Reynold's too much credit.

Your comment "I have never really understood why it matters who Michael Moore shared a box with." is the point that says it all.

Firt off, the problem was who Carter (a recognized leader of the Dem party, chose to elevate to a prominent position.

If Bush had invited a KKK clansman to sit next to him (advocating racism - but only excersising his "right" to free speech) what would have been the perception?

But when the Dem Party - elavates a contraversial anti-american using questionable data as fact.... the perception is we are being picked on and classified ans "lefties"....

You don't get it. Smooth writing and clever lines do not sway most americans who know it doesn't feel right... and thus reject what you are selling.

Gnacdak: If Bush had invited a KKK clansman to sit next to him (advocating racism - but only excersising his "right" to free speech) what would have been the perception?

You're surely not equating Michael Moore to a KKK clansman?

Kite and the tail. Hilzoy, exhibiting an absence of self awareness that only seems to appear when one discusses their political position on the spectrum, peers out into the void and wonders why one would think such things about certain pockets of liberals. Then, the tail of the kite comes wafting by in the form of her loyal commenters proving Mr. Reynolds is only responding to what he's hearing day after day, defeatist comment after coment. Thanks for the show everyone, Wednesdays are pretty dull otherwise.

This is all a preamble to the following question: when people talk about "the Left", who, exactly, do they have in mind?

Me!!!

I voted for Nader in 90 & 2000. I believe that the war in Iraq was unnecessary and just plain stupid. I also believed the same about the first Iraq war. Now that we have invaded a foreign country, it is my hope that we have another Vietnam style humiliation on our hands, not because i want to see tons of Americans die, but because if we succeed in Iraq we will attempt to do the same in Iran and get even more people killed.

As for 9/11, it's long overdue payback for all the countries whose goverment we have overthrown and where our policies have caused endless misery and death (Philipines, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia ,Chile). What goes around comes around.

PS. I truly think that the apple doesn't fall far from the three, and in this case Shrub is a good fascist like his grandfather and that most of the leadership of the Republican party are neo-fascist whose sole goal is to get power and keep it using any means possible.

Blogbuds: peers out into the void and wonders why one would think such things about certain pockets of liberals

So, in your view, "the Left" means "certain pockets of liberals"? Which pockets? Which liberals?

Then, the tail of the kite comes wafting by in the form of her loyal commenters proving Mr. Reynolds is only responding to what he's hearing day after day, defeatist comment after coment

Oh, good grief. Do respond to what people are actually saying, rather than to what you think people ought to be saying.

BTW, Hilzoy, if you ever do a button "Loyal Commenter", I'll wear it. ;-)

Then, the tail of the kite comes wafting by in the form of her loyal commenters proving Mr. Reynolds is only responding to what he's hearing day after day, defeatist comment after coment.

bbm
Anarch, Jes, rilkefan, and me (and katherine, though calling her a loyal commenter of Hilzoy is a bit odd) have commented. Like Jes, I'd be happy to have a button (or a t-shirt, for that matter). But exactly what point(s) did we make that are anyway similar to 'the 9-11 victims were like good Germans'? There is a tail here, but it ain't us...

So "Don Quijote" is opposed to the killing of innocents in other countries, but not in New York City, and that some busboy or bond trader or copy editor was just getting some "long overdue payback." Noted.

Anyway, I do my best to avoid those kind of generalizations about left and right, particularly because I get it from both sides. Because I support relatively unrestricted private gun ownership, generally lower taxes, a significantly smaller Federal government, and free-er markets, a lot of liberals tend to react to me as if I'm a country club Republican. Because I'm anti-death penatly, pro-legalization, hate the FCC, and an atheist, a lot of conservatives react to me as if I'm Abbie Hoffman. So I try to restrict my argument to the person, but more often than not fall short of the target.

liberaljaponicus: Anarch, Jes, rilkefan, and me (and katherine, though calling her a loyal commenter of Hilzoy is a bit odd) have commented.

I think calling Sebastian Holsclaw a loyal commenter of Hilzoy's is even odder. But maybe that's just me.

Jesurgislac, I am what I think you think I am.

You're Eminem?!?

Blogbuds: Jesurgislac, I am what I think you think I am.

Not being telepathic, how can I argue with that?

So "Don Quijote" is opposed to the killing of innocents in other countries, but not in New York City, and that some busboy or bond trader or copy editor was just getting some "long overdue payback." Noted.

In 1954, the CIA overthrew the Arbenz goverment in Guatemala, as a consequence of said event a civil war occurred which killed approximatly 200,000 Guatemalans. What did those people do to deserve having their goverment overthrown and a civil war unleashed upon them?

On 9/11/1970, the CIA overthrew the Allende goverment in Chile, as a consequence of said event, thousands were tortured and hundreds were disappeared. What did those people do to deserve that?

3000 thousand Americans and it's a disaster and I agree. Tens of thousands of Iraqis die and it's collateral damage, too bad shit happens.

I don't know if I'm on the left; I do notice that the people whose views I tend to agree with are usually labelled as being leftist. But I come to my views by examining my conscience and weighing it against my (limited) life-experience.

As for 9/11, it's long overdue payback for all the countries whose goverment we have overthrown and where our policies have caused endless misery and death (Philipines, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia ,Chile). What goes around comes around.

Not "long overdue payback" but inevitable karma, maybe. In the old testament sense where the sins of the fathers are visited on the children. It's wrong that innocent people were killed on 9/11. And it's wrong that they are being killed in Iraq. But its precisely the decisions of the governments and powerful entrenched interests to perpetuate injustice that enable violence. The sad thing is that it is always the innocent who suffer. The perpetrators of violence, by and large, they get away with it. The thieves, they use their stolen wealth to protect themselves. It's not them who pays. It's us, it's us.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.

You are more polite than I might be.

Wonderful post hilzoy. This should be required reading for all bloggers.

I'd bet that if I felt like it, I could probably Google around and find some obscure conservative academic who was just as vile.

You wouldn't have to google that far. We had an example right here a while ago and although quite a few sites picked up on it, noticeably absent among them was Mr. Reynolds. Not that he reads this blogs, but that story made it to quite a few of the more popular blogs and Reynolds never mentioned it as far as I know. Did anyone at the time try to paint Dr Kozloff as the true face of the right?


Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)

We Think the Price Is Worth It

I'd bet that if I felt like it, I could probably Google around and find some obscure conservative academic who was just as vile.

Done.

@ Sebastian
just an idea: do you think it possible, that being male, heterosexual and (presumably) white might play into this? Arguably the civil rights movement has been fighting "people like you" (in the loosest sense) and hence your positions might provoke extreme responses from people "to the left".
I on the other hand remember lots of borderline racist and anti-gay comments and remarks from people around me, but, given that I'm male, white and heterosexual these were not directed at me. Of course I can't tell whether these people would have said the same had I belonged to the "them" side of these remarks.
Admittedly this may be just a crackpot idea, but taking into account whether you fall into the "traditionally friendly" or "traditionally opposed" category might help explain differences in what one gets to hear.

Hilzoy,

"Who, Exactly, Is This "Left" About Which I Hear Such Strange And Dreadful Things?"

Interesting that you asked and answered your own question. I think it's safe to say that the "Left" answered, but I'm not sure you heard them. Maybe, a few people who aren't on the left posted, but the majority were on the left.

Some said:
"brought shame upon this country."

"and that they have some share of the responsibility not for the fact that the various episodes of torture occurred in the future"

Despite the fact that the people who did those things are pleading guilty.

"glenn, and hindrocket, and lgf, and lileks, to the extent i read their "analyses" any more, are just plain crap. they are HATERS and COWARDS, and, what's worse, they're proud of it."

"Republicans of all stripes now get to own Abu Ghraib, WMD lies and Soc Sec reform based on lies."

"I truly think that the apple doesn't fall far from the three, and in this case Shrub is a good fascist like his grandfather and that most of the leadership of the Republican party are neo-fascist whose sole goal is to get power and keep it using any means possible."


I could go on and on just from the posts here, but why bother. It's really quite simple, for the face of the left just read the majority of the posts here.

I'd just like to thank Professor DeLong for offering the flipside of "The Left" fallacy for our enjoyment and edification.

Smlook: It's really quite simple, for the face of the left just read the majority of the posts here.

Were you including my first comment on this thread (February 2, 2005 03:20 AM) in "the majority"?

Oh, and one more thing: I think it's just silly to claim that failure to repudiate someone in any way implies support for that person's comments. There are plenty of people across the spectrum whose remarks I don't comment on, mostly because I don't find them worthy of any sort of civil commentary. And since I've sworn off the invective for Lent, I must be in support of them, no?

Churchill did write a swell textbook on Complex Variables, though. Didn't he? I think I'd much rather review that.

Slarti: And since I've sworn off the invective for Lent

You have? I congratulate you.

Maybe, hilzoy, an attempt to answer your title question would have to start by looking at who it is that is doing the characterization of "the Left", and to what end.
It is one of the oldest tricks in the book to try to discredit one's ideological/political opponents by selective citation of extreme or offensive views, even if by a lunatic-fringe (or in the case of Ward Churchill, an individual) and then tarring the whole "other side" with those ideas (unless, of course, specifically and apologetically disavowed).
The major difference nowadays, though, is that we have an Internet and blogosphere to further distort the dialogue.
To cite Glenn Reynolds for ANYTHING is, IMO, a waste of time, since his position as some sort of major opinion maven rests solely on his running a popular blog: a blog which, despite his grandiose claims (clever cloaked as self-disparagement) exhibits, in a nutshell, every negative factor about the rise of the Internet blog as a forum for social/political opinion. In his own admission, InstaPundit is his own creation, his property, and a forum for his own opinions: not necessarily the Prof. himself all the time,but a carefully selected assortment of fellow-travellers; all diligently linked, and carefully edited, and the majority of them leading the reader round and round in a combination funhouse/echo-chamber of (usually) right-wing fulmination on whatever issue he feels like pushing.
This is no more or less typical of the blosphere as a whole (and, yes, folks, ObsidianWings IS a glaring execption) - and one of the biggest challenges for anyone not "on the Right" will have to face: how NOT to let one's ideological/political position be defined solely by the most negative stereotypes of one's opponents. Tall order; no easy answers.

Well, that was just a little device. It's been so long since I've regarded myself as a Catholic that I don't even know if Lent has begun yet.

Still, I try. I'm hoping it's contagious.

BTW, I read Instapundit daily. I don't agree with everything Glenn says, but I think Jay C.'s characterization of him is just wrong.

Glenn's anything but carefully edited.

Slartibartfast: It's been so long since I've regarded myself as a Catholic that I don't even know if Lent has begun yet.

Begins a week today - 9th February. (Not Catholic either, nor never was: I just googled for Shrove Tuesday.)

Still, I try. I'm hoping it's contagious.

It's certainly a splendid thing to give up for Lent. *grin* Though you know you're allowed to quit your Lenten fast on Sundays, so you could give us the benefit of your invective on Sundays only for the next six weeks?

Then again, maybe our arguments are proving hilzoy right. Edward nibbles at it "Did anyone at the time try to paint Dr Kozloff as the true face of the right?"
(by the way Edward, you got some serious google time with that one) Who is "anyone"? Come on Church Lady. Could - it - be - the - Press!! Why is this Churchill character even worth a second thought? There are thousands that represent each tip of both ends of the purple bell curve. The Press decides who gets their 15 minutes of fame. And nine times out of ten, all you have to do is listen to them for a minute and you quickly figure what lunatic fringe they attract. It's almost an inverse affect. The Press provides face time for entertaining individuals that espouse elements of the liberal left and tend to shy away from their mirror images on the right. (Moderates need not apply) So, then, therefore, when the public and those that like to argue to the contrary, are exposed to these rambling testimonials and their lunaticity, the pidgeonhole is defined. If the Professor Kozlov's of the world could capture more Prime Time us true moderates would garner far more respect. Well, my ADD keeps me around 200 words. D'rather talk about Buddy Holly anyway.

Slarti:
Not to want to turn this thread into an InstaBash, but:
JFTR, I read InstaPundit every day as well: Glenn Reynolds' blog was, in the pre-9/11 long-ago, my introduction to the blogosphere, and for a long time, my principal blogroll and connection to non-MSM links to many different and differing sources of opinion. Prof. Reynolds himself is obviously intelligent and articulate, and, even in my skewed opinion, not much of an "extremist" (well, except when he gets into Gun Boy mode, but never mind).
I just find it irksome that for a blogger who has made a pet project of castigating the "Mainstream Media" for their "hopeless [liberal] bias", he holds himself out (or mostly lets himself be held out) as an alternative model for dissemination of news and opinion - when what he seems to be about, and made his blog about, is not a commitment to objectivity or lack of bias, but merely a shift of bias to conform to whatever conservative cant is the current talking-point.

Markus: just an idea: do you think it possible, that being male, heterosexual and (presumably) white might play into this?

You may want to reconsider this. At least one of your assumptions is faulty.

Don Q.: Can you let me know how the dishwashers at the Windows On The World restaurant were involved in those CIA actions? Thanks.

Let me say that Republicans--all Republicans save a very few--by backing George W. Bush and refusing to clean their own house after Abu Ghraib *have* brought shame upon this country.

Quality control indeed, DeLong. Using your logic, I could just as easily say (and wrongly say, I might add) that Democrats--all Democrats save a very few--by backing Bill Clinton and refusing to clean their own house after the genocide in Rwanda *have* brought shame upon this country. You have shown yourself to be the liberal version of Dennis Prager with comments such as those.

Now that we have invaded a foreign country, it is my hope that we have another Vietnam style humiliation on our hands, not because i want to see tons of Americans die, but because if we succeed in Iraq we will attempt to do the same in Iran and get even more people killed. As for 9/11, it's long overdue payback for all the countries whose goverment we have overthrown and where our policies have caused endless misery and death (Philipines, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia ,Chile). What goes around comes around.

Color me speechless. This is, sadly, no different from Falwell's "we had it coming" soliloquy. I condemn that line of thinking no matter who utters it. Bin Laden didn't launch terrorist attacks on our soil because we violated international law, as Ward Churchill tried to suggest.

See, hilzoy I read smlook's and other right-winger's stuff (comparing Moore to their David Duke, talk about relativism) and my first intellectual impulse is to say, "Where have I heard stuff like this before?"

Liberalism tore down the structures that held races and peoples together, releasing the destructive drives. The result was economic chaos that led to millions of unemployed on the one side and the senseless luxury of economic jackals on the other. Liberalism destroyed the people's economic foundations, allowing the triumph of subhumans. They won the leading role in the political parties, the economy, the sciences, arts and press, hollowing out the nation from inside. The equality of all citizens, regardless of race, led to the mixing of Europeans with Jews, Negro, Mongols and so on, resulting in the decay and decline....We have seen firsthand where Marxism leads people, in Germany from 1919 to 1932, in Spain and above all in Russia. The people corrupted by Liberalism are not able to defend themselves against this Jewish-Marxist poison.

From:
Racial Policy

German democracy was always a particular playground of European liberalism. Its innate tendency towards excessive individualism was foreign to us, which lost it any connection to real political life after the war. It had nothing to do with the people. It represented not the totality of the nation, but turned into a perpetual war between interests that gradually destroyed the national and social foundations of our people's existence.

From:
Goebbels Speech at the 1933 Nuremberg Rally

Blaming Liberals for a war they should never have been involved with.

We offer the youth the freedom to develop their nation, even in the case of smaller nations. We offer them room for creative fantasy, the opportunity to transform great thoughts to reality outside the lecture hall. We offer the realization of dreams on a world scale, a common Germanic will, a common European will. We fill the spiritual vacuum left by liberalism with the magic of a worldview that draws self-confidence and meaning to life from race and the blood of one's ancestors.

From:
The Danger of Americanism

Their critique of America? To liberal, and urban!

So if they can compare Moore with Duke, then I can compare American Right-Wingers with German Right-Wingers, or American Nationalist with German Nationalist.

Using your logic, I could just as easily say (and wrongly say, I might add) that Democrats--all Democrats save a very few--by backing Bill Clinton and refusing to clean their own house after the genocide in Rwanda *have* brought shame upon this country.

Do you draw no distinction between wrongful acts committed by agents of the US Government and wrongful acts committed by foreigners that were not prevented by the US Government. (To be clear, I think we were very wrong not to intervene in Rwanda, but calling the two situations equivalent seems bizarre to me.)

I continue to believe that people like this Churchill fellow and that Coulter woman are the 5% on either side of the spectrum that sometimes manage to convince the other 45% of folks on their side that the other 45% of the other side is just like the 5% that think like Coulter or Churchill.

OW is where I go to see the 90% prove them wrong.

NeoDude: I was nice and thorough the first time. You are right to say that among the various Nazi critiques of their opponents was that they (opponents) were too liberal. You are wrong to think that it follows that people who criticize liberals are like Nazis in any but a trivial sense (see earlier arithmetic example.) Among the salient features of Nazism was advocating, and then carrying out, the murder of its opponents on the grounds that they were 'impure' and by their mere existence contaminated the German state. Unless you plan to argue that Glenn Reynolds, for instance, shares this feature, please do not make this analogy.

"If they can do X, then so can I" is an argument we should leave behind us when we graduate from second grade.

NeoDude: to be clearer, don't make the analogy here. You are of course free to think whatever you want. (As if you needed me to tell you that.)

Their critique of America? To liberal, and urban!

The left and liberalism are not synonymous. But I guess for the sake of simplicity we're all going to pretend that the left, liberals, the right and conservatives do not exist and are straw men.

Oh, please, this is all standard playbook stuff.

Right now, the GOP has some momentum; they won a 51-49 squeaker, so now the game is to rebadge that win as the leading edge of a strong historical shift. The point of this is to make the just-under-half of the country that doesn't like Bush, or, at least, liked Kerry or Nader better, feel that their political choices associate them with lunatics.

The GOP wants to consolidate the impression that the country is surging rightward, and hopefully set up a stronger majority showing in '06. Notice the constant portrayal in Reynolds' post of "the left" as an ideology whose time is past, and of leftists as mired in a lost yesterday. Clinton did the same thing, making the middle feel that voting for Bush or Dole was tantamount to putting Jerry Falwell in the white house, and rolling back the clock to the cro-magnon era. It's all very standard, and all very scripted and intentional. Repellant? Certainly. It is shockingly irresponsible for Reynolds and his ilk to associate 58 million people with the belief that 9-11 was justified, and imply that only Bush voters were angered by the attack. But surprising? Not so much.

By the way, I always find it funny to read people who talk about how Reynolds used to be better and describe him as a libertarian. Please. Reynolds' schtick is only confusing until you recognize him as a dyed-in-the-wool partisan Republican.

Jes,

My apologies. The majority of your posts are from a conservative/Republican perspective.

Does that make you feel better?

Hilzoy,

From neodude:
"So if they can compare Moore with Duke, then I can compare American Right-Wingers with German Right-Wingers, or American Nationalist with German Nationalist."

There's that face you're looking for. That's the face that lost the election.


The left and liberalism are not synonymous. But I guess for the sake of simplicity we're all going to pretend that the left, liberals, the right and conservatives do not exist and are straw men.

Not that they don't exist, but that their exact denotation is wildly unclear and shifting. Therefore, if you're going to say bad stuff about a large group of people, it's misleading and unpleasant not to define that group more accurately than 'the Left' or 'liberals'.

I have a pretty clear understanding of 'left' as a political direction -- I know who I'm to the left of, and who I'm to the right of (although even this is on a "I know it when I see it" basis).

I'm to the left of more than half the Democratic party. I've never been a member of a Stalinist, or other Communist, identified group; while I sympathize with the broad goals of most leftist gender/sexual orientation/racial-issues activists, I don't have too much trouble finding things that I can't accept or find silly in those camps; and I do very little that could be described as activism, although I believe I should do more. I don't know if that makes me part of 'the Left'.

'Liberal' is even worse. First, you run into the libertarian "we're the real liberals" argument, which while it may be historically sound is just confusing in modern terms. Second, there are two very contradictory meanings within the left side of the political spectrum: from a Republican, and generally from people without a strong sense of political vocabulary who have picked up the Republican usage, it means "far to the left within the Democratic party"; from a seriously political leftist, on the other hand, it generally means "not far enough left for me -- talks a good game, but votes with the center when you don't watch them."

This doesn't mean that these words are unacceptable or off-limits, just that it's wrong to use them as if they unambiguously (or even anywhere near unambiguously) designate a group of people.

Thanks crionna.

Sebastian, I want to apologize--I think I was expressing myself poorly in a way that made you think I was saying what people said to you wasn't so bad, or I didn't believe you. I didn't think either of those things, but I didn't phrase my posts as carefully as I could have, and they might have given that impression.

I do think that Churchill was worse, for reasons I think I finally got around to stating in the last post before this one.

I don't agree with DeLong's statements early on in the post. On the other hand, I think you are less responsible for the statements of a loony academic, or a loony talk radio host, or an overrated blowhard of a movie director, then you are for the actions of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, the undersecretaries of Defense, the White House Counsel, the Office of Legal Council, the Speaker of the House, the House Majority Leader, every Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, every Republican member of the Senate Judiciary committee, and (so far) Senators Specter, Hatch, Cornyn, Coburn, Brownback, Hutchinson, Martinez, Kyl, Gregg, Chambliss...and I'm sure to have many more names for that list by the end of the day.

And Charles, I do share some of Clinton's responsibility for Rwanda. (Well, I was too young to actually ever vote for Clinton but close enough.) However, I had no reason to anticipate it in 1992, and in 1996 and 2000 both candidates opposed doing anything in Rwanda. In 2004 my two favorite primary candidates and my party's nominee all had a different policy on intervention to stop a genocide. And there is a very big difference between sins of omission and comission.

OT--my fellow members of The Left (tm): Durbin (my future Senator Dick Durbin!) apparently gave quite a speech on the Senate floor just now. I'm off to go search the C-Span website.

Once again, Smlook, I conclude it's not worth trying to continue this conversation.

So if they can compare Moore with Duke, then I can compare American Right-Wingers with German Right-Wingers, or American Nationalist with German Nationalist.

In other words, if some of the other guys can be illogical, then so can I!

"Sebastian, I want to apologize--I think I was expressing myself poorly in a way that made you think I was saying what people said to you wasn't so bad, or I didn't believe you. I didn't think either of those things, but I didn't phrase my posts as carefully as I could have, and they might have given that impression."

No problem. If you were always perfect, we would resent you. :)

Oh, and crionna:

Your first paragraph: absolutely. The rest, I can't take any credit for.

I have a pretty clear understanding of 'left' as a political direction -- I know who I'm to the left of, and who I'm to the right of (although even this is on a "I know it when I see it" basis).

I'm going to argue, I guess, that Glenn Reynolds likely has a notion of "left" as a political direction and comments referring to the "left" apply to those people.

We can all argue about who is left and who is not; who is liberal, whatever. That's fine. But just because people have different ideological maps of politics doesn't mean you're not able to critique people on the basis of them.

Right-Wingers do share quite a bit in common. Especially, Western Right-Wingers.

I accept being compared to German Social-Democrats.

Charles says: "Democrats--all Democrats save a very few--by backing Bill Clinton and refusing to clean their own house after the genocide in Rwanda *have* brought shame upon this country."

Yes, given the way the Republican leadership and rank and file took up Rwanda as a cause, and fought furiously with the Clinton Administration, demanding intervention in Rwanda, failing only due to the Administration's firm opposition, and the lack of any Democratic Congressional support, it is entirely reasonable to praise the Republicans for their noble adherence to humanitarian interventionism, and blame America's failure in Rwanda on the Democrats.

There is no doubt that the blame goes to Democrats. Let's praise the Republicans. Could you post a link, though, Charles, to the Republican Senate Leader's inspiring speech calling for American intervention in Rwanda? Or the Republican Speaker of the House's fantastic speech echoing that call? They were great, I remember, but I'm having trouble finding the links.

I'm so glad to see the Republicans given the praise they deserve for their moral leadership in Rwanda, and the Democrats given the sole blame. That's the only possible honest description, isn't it?

Anyone who would say that blaming just the Democrats is, well, being completely dishonest, well, they must be a loony leftist, and wrong, right?

"...Color me speechless. This is, sadly...."

...a moronic troll you are responding to; why respond to a troll, Charles?

NeoDue says: "So if they can compare Moore with Duke, then I can compare American Right-Wingers with German Right-Wingers, or American Nationalist with German Nationalist."

Could I suggest making Godwin violations a violation of the posting rules?

But just because people have different ideological maps of politics doesn't mean you're not able to critique people on the basis of them.

No, but we do try to stress, here, that dismissing arguments purely because of who uttered them (and various descents into that person's personal hygiene, political affiliation, etc) isn't quite as effective as flaying that argument using fact and logic. Or at least, with something more than a token attempt at logic.

No, but we do try to stress, here, that dismissing arguments purely because of who uttered them... isn't quite as effective as flaying that argument using fact and logic.

You'll have no quarrel from me on this point.

...a moronic troll you are responding to; why respond to a troll, Charles?

Actually, Don Q is a fairly regular commentor, here, although he skates rather nearer the brink of posting rules violation than I'd like to see. So you, Gary, are in violation of a posting rule. Feel free, though, to flense Don Q using fact and logic, though, as mentioned above.

Saturn Begins Eating His Children

Speaking of Churchill and the, well arguably, true face of the Right, read this rant against O'Reilly on The Anti-Idiotarian Rottwieiler. Caution, it's not at all civil.

Love will tear us apart...

Oh, and I second Slarti...let's not call folks "moronic trolls" here please.

I'm tired, hilzoy and the gang wore me down, I give....I give...I'll stop making the analogy...sheeesh...my mind is tired.

I don't even read Misha anymore, Edward. I kind of used to be a regular, but there's only so much invective that one person can take. Isn't there?

I kind of used to be a regular, but there's only so much invective that one person can take. Isn't there?

Essentially why I stopped reading a whole spectrum of blogs (left and right). Not good for the blood pressure, you know.

I'm going to argue, I guess, that Glenn Reynolds likely has a notion of "left" as a political direction and comments referring to the "left" apply to those people.

I think I was unclear here -- when I said direction I meant it in the sense that west is a direction. Saying that India is to the west of China doesn't meaningfully identify India as "the West". You are almost certainly politically to the left of someone -- does that mean that you are a member of the Left?

We can all argue about who is left and who is not; who is liberal, whatever. That's fine. But just because people have different ideological maps of politics doesn't mean you're not able to critique people on the basis of them.

No, but it does mean that you should be clear about what map you're using. There are two (well, many more, but at least two) possible meanings of the Left. You could mean a very small group of activist academics, or you could mean everyone (or almost everyone) who votes Democratic. Reynolds' post, calling Churchill the face of the Left, is in my opinion wrong, but at least arguable/not blitheringly insane if by "the Left" he means a very small group of activist academics. If he means, by "the Left", most people who vote Democratic, he's a slanderous nutcase for claiming that Churchill represents them.

What he seems to be doing, consciously or unconsciously, is using the very narrow definition to justify his post, but then using the broad definition to smear everyone that he disagrees with politically. This is a very different thing from simply arguing at the margins about who does or doesn't fall into a reasonably well-defined group.

Yeah, I think that "radical Left" or "fringe Left" would have been a better choice (although, probably, still not perfect). Equating someone like, say, Joe Lieberman to Churchill as inadvertent fallout from an endeavor to create guilt by association is probably not what Glenn intended. I'm sure that one could find some equally guilty party on the Right and make the same sort of error. If one hasn't, already. I do believe I've been thrown in with the likes of David Duke on more than one occasion, although not so much here at OW.

Slarti: Churchill did write a swell textbook on Complex Variables, though. Didn't he? I think I'd much rather review that.

You bastard, Slarti. Of course, you knew that I'd get sidetracked the moment you uttered that sentence, so I've had to spend almost five whole minutes hunting it down! Five minutes that I could have productively spent, well, doing something!

[As a matter of fact, no, it was a different Churchill. Bastard.]

BTW, I cannot believe that after all this no-one has actually gone to the horse's mouth. I mean, Katherine put a trademark after "The Left", but did she bother to mention who had trademarked it? Of course not.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado: The Left.

[Here's one of the sequel posts, btw, that, um, fleshes out the image. There are further entries in that vein but I leave their discovery to you, gentle reader.]

No, but it does mean that you should be clear about what map you're using.

Perhaps then the ambiguity here depends on your familiarity with Reynolds. I have a good idea what map he uses from reading him for years, therefore I can guess what he's getting at. Not particularily precise - but I don't think we can expect bloggers to preface any critique of political factions with a lengthy and precise taxonomy.

If he means, by "the Left", most people who vote Democratic, he's a slanderous nutcase for claiming that Churchill represents them.

I have no reason to believe that he does.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad