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June 12, 2009

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I only wish my own country had done as much, instead of acting like cowards.

It's kind of the default position.

But the Bermudan government defended its decision to take the Uighurs, who the U.S. feared would face torture if sent to China.

There's some terrible irony here I can't quite put my finger on...

Since 9/11/2001, directed by many Republicans and with the passive complicity of many Democrats, this nation has not acted like cowards, but has become a nation of cowards. Not all of us,but many of us have decided to live cowering in fear instead of standing up and declaring our freedom from fear.

A bunch of losers from the Middle East, basically thugs, have many Americans peeing in their pants at the mere thought of having people who were innocent of any intent to harm our country set foot on ur soil.

Bermuda and possibly Palau are displaying far more courage at this moment in time than the elected leaders and people like Limbaugh Beck or EE have shown for the past almost 8 years.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Let itr be said that I think there are many brave men and women, heck kids, in this country. It is just that very few of them are in any positions of influence or authority.

Can we visit the Uighurs in Burmuda? It might be a nice vacation.

I'm more ashamed than ever of this country of murderous cowards.

It is also interesting that the opposition party is protesting this move on the basis that it might hurt tourism, not that the Uighers are dangerous. In other words, they are concerned that too many Americans will be afraid to travel there.

They have our number.

The Bermudian opposition's suggestion that tourism might be hurt by the Uighurs being there is as divorced from reality as almost everything else that has been said about these poor souls, including the Boston radio host (on a bleeping SPORTS show, no less) who definitively called them "terrorists" on Friday morning.

For a place which earns most of its national income from american tourism, shouldn't those folks know that as a polity we have the attention span of a squirrel?

In another month not even Billrush Limbo'riley will be talking about this.

Well maybe Bill will.

Unfortunately, I think part of the reasoning is that allowing the Uighurs into the US would set them up as targets. With all of the rhetoric about releasing terrorists into your neighborhoods, the idea of retaliation is all too possible. God forbid our government or media had emphasized that these individuals were found to be not guilty of any crime. I've heard many news reports that discuss the resettlement arrangements, but none that explicitly detail the facts about the Uighurs circumstances other than they were Gitmo detainees.

Well I suppose landing them in an island paradise is one way of making amends.

Dear Hilzoy: I hope you are well.

Sorry, I disagree re the Uighurs and any other terrorists we have. The proper place for these awful persond is Guantanamo Bay. They remain illegal fighers totally undeserving of being treated either like honorable POWs (which they are not), or what the British called ODCs (Ordinary Decent Criminals).

We should have the guts to let the military tribunals decide the fate of these vile persons. Which means I disagree with Obama trying to shift them off to places like Bermuda.

Alternately (sarcastic mode on), we could fix up Alcatraz Island and reuse that prison to hold these very dangerous persons. That should warm the cockles of Nancy Pelosi's heart! (Sarcastic mode off)

Sincerely,

As I heard yesterday some GOP loudmouth (forgot which) publicly said that now Palau is out as a vacation location because of those Uighurs released there.
From the Palau(e?)an perspective the deal looks quite different: Taking a few innocent people and get $200.000.000 for it? Do you have more such deals? We would be very interested!
And another advantage: Palau is connected with Taiwan, so mainland Chinese protests/threats are irrelevant.

Sean, the Uighurs aren't terrorists. That's why the Pentagon has wanted to release them since 2003. Do you really think they'd have declared them innocent if they were terrorists? Try reading something about the Uighurs. It's not as if we haven't spent tens of thousands of words on the subject here. Try having a clue as to the facts of what you're talking about.

From Channel 4 News: Britain has told Bermuda, a UK overseas territory, it should have consulted London before accepting them and Downing Street has accused the authorities of acting beyond their powers.

Sounds like Sir Humphrey in action rather than Gordon Brown, but what the hell: I'll write my MP and tell him I'd like to hear him and other MPs say that the UK is pleased its overseas territories are welcoming these Uighers on board.

It's Refugee Week in the UK starting the 15th, so it can get tied into that, if he needs an excuse to make an Early Day Motion.

It's not directly relevant, but Fox News has made an unusual word choice when they say that Bermuda's Westminster-style parliament "...mimics the British system." "Is based on" would be better.

Unless they're confused by the fact that both the UK and Bermuda have a Prime Minister called Brown.

Neil, I think you're wrong here to blame Fox for the odd and seemingly disparaging selection of the word "mimics", because I noticed that word yesterday in a very early print story (well, print source, by internet), either a newswire or the New York Times (it isn't in one New York Times story I just now checked, but could have been in an earlier version or another story).
It's still an odd word choice, and Fox may have been eager to use it for its implications, but they probably plagiarized it rather than concocting it themselves.

"Apparently, the British government is upset"

Yes, as pointed out in The Guardian:

"it was clear that the US decision to negotiate the resettlement of the four Chinese Muslim Uighurs with Bermuda's prime minister without informing London was a blow to British claims to have a "special relationship" with Washington."

In addition,

"shadow foreign secretary William Hague has demanded an explanation from the Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

He said: "It is astonishing that an agreement of such significance between the US and Bermuda, involving the resettlement of four former terrorist suspects to a British Overseas Territory, could have taken place without a ripple reaching Whitehall.

"The UK is responsible for Bermuda's external relations, defence and security and for appointing its governor. Yet the FCO appears to have had no idea that these discussions were taking place." (BBC)

As pointed out in the Guardian article,

"This latest development follows Washington's failure to convince Britain to resettle more detainees from Guantánamo as part of Barack Obama's efforts to close the prison. British officials argue they have done enough after accepting 13 British citizens released from Guantánamo."

British officials argue they have done enough after accepting 13 British citizens released from Guantánamo

Have they hell. *sharpens pen*

To be fair to Mr. Brooks, Gary, these Uighurs are Muslims and thus are ipso facto terrorists.

The U.S. not only should have taken in the Uighurs, and all the other innocent people we've imprisoned at Guantanamo who want to live here (why they would want to live in a country that treated them as we have is another question), but we should compensate them for the wrong we have done them -- how about $1 million per year for each year of wrongful imprisonment?

Let me throw out several semi-Socratic questions and let some of the commenters chew on them.

First, let us assume that the Uighurs are indeed innocent and have been unlawfully detained at Gitmo. Why is it that the Uighurs cannot simply be repatriated to China? Why on earth would the Chinese want to hurt them?

Second, let us say that the Uighurs are indeed fearful for their safety. Does it necessarily follow that persons acquitted of a crime in Country A automatically deserve refugee status in Country A or Country B to avoid returning to Country C?

What am I missing here?

On the off chance that this is in good faith...

"Why is it that the Uighurs cannot simply be repatriated to China?"

Google "Uighur".

"Does it necessarily follow that persons acquitted of a crime in Country A automatically deserve refugee status in Country A or Country B to avoid returning to Country C?"

If I'm not mistaken we are legally prohibited, by our own laws if not international ones, from repatriating people to countries where they are likely to be tortured or killed.

Why is it that the Uighurs cannot simply be repatriated to China? Why on earth would the Chinese want to hurt them?

The Chinese have this strange habit of being very, very hard on political opponents. You may have heard something about it over the last half-century or so.

I'm still grasping to a thread of hope that the US may take some of the remaining Uighurs (if Palau doesn't take all the remaining 13).

It is still nice to know that some of these men found a happy end to their plight.

I don't think it is really accurate to characterize the American refusal to accept any of the Uighurs as cowardice.

A coward is afraid of some real (if perhaps tiny) threat and acts to avoid it. But what we had here was a complete non-threat. So it wasn't cowardice we saw in the refusal to allow them to settle in the United States, it was hysteria. Total irrational, baseless, hysteria.

Cowardice? Hysteria? Whatever happened to calling it good ol' fashioned NIMBYism?

Illinois Republican Representative Mark Kirk has traveled to China, America's largest foreign creditor, and advised the Chinese government: "don't believe the U.S. Government regarding budget issues."

What has this to do with the Uighers?

Only that there are four vacancies at Guantanamo for America's enemies who are too dangerous to be permitted entry to this country.

I nominate Rep. Kirk, ostensibly human, (from outside appearances though I suspect he has been body-snatched by an alien Obama-hating homunculus residing in what used to be the dignified fetus named Mark by his dear, sweet mother) but definitely not American, for one cell.

Arrest the traitor at the border and hold him at Guantanamo pending trial (may it pend indefinitely) and eventual execution by lethal injection, hanging, firing squad, drone-fired missile, and some Mussolini upside-down treatment.

Kirk is a fully fueled 747, headed for the U.S. Treasury Department. As mortal an enemy of this country as Osama Bin Laden.

P.S. It figures that Obsidian Wings would have a troll attack by imposters using commentator's handles at precisely the time when I (rather not divulge why at the moment) am in the position of using my work computer and a friend's computer to resume commenting here.

This is me as sure as John Lennon's original middle name was Winston, and Mickey Mantle's knees were all-too human.

I don't know how urls work and please don't explain it to me, but I know who I am.

BIG upside for Bermuda: Guys like Sean & wingnut loons wont vacation there any more, out of fear for thier sorry lives. When it becomes known you can visit Bermuda & not run into the Seans of this country, MORE Yanks will want to go!
Lets send some to other countries we'd like to keep free of Sean et al! We'd be doing them (&us) a favor.....
yup, win/win.....

"If I'm not mistaken we are legally prohibited, by our own laws if not international ones, from repatriating people to countries where they are likely to be tortured or killed."-
Unless its the Reagan administration and the country is
El Salvador.....

Well, I waited a few hours for answers and so far the liberals have won. I left conservatives a hole big enough to drive a rhetorical truck through and no one picked up on it.

Russell, the first question was definitely rhetorical. I don’t know if you consider that in good faith or not.

The second question I quite honestly did not know. I will take you at your word until I learn differently.

Phil, I am well aware that the Chinese are “very, very hard” on their political opponents. What you didn’t answer was *why* the Chinese consider the Uighurs political opponents. Are the Uighurs just trying to get along with everyone and the Chinese are harassing them? Or are the Uighurs killing people, blowing things up, etc.? I seem to remember something that happened just before the Olympics last summer. What was that all about?

The bottom line is that the Chinese would like to have a little chat with them because the Chinese view them as terrorists and a threat to Chinese stability. Just because a person is innocent of one crime doesn’t mean that person is necessarily innocent of *every* crime. Look at O.J. Simpson. I know that a number of commenters hate him because they think he murdered an upper-middle class white man and woman, but bear with me. He was acquitted by a jury of his peers for that murder. Yet years later, he was convicted of some bizarre robbery attempt in Las Vegas. Innocent in L.A., guilty in Las Vegas.

Here is where I think the refugee argument breaks down. I think the Chinese have a right to investigate. I could be mistaken, but didn’t one of the abortion clinic bombers flee to France a few years back? The French extradited him back to America, did they not? He hadn’t done anything wrong in France, but we still had the right to try him. Let’s fill out the analogy a bit. Let us say that he is first arrested in France, then is tried and acquitted. Are you telling me that the French should give him refugee status just because they screwed up?

This is the kind of argument that provides ammunition for devotees of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck. You want them freed from Gitmo? Okay, I think you’ve got a point. You won’t repatriate them? Now, I have to question your motivation.

One thing is for sure, we’ll need that $200 million to pay back the Chinese if they call in their debts.

Frodo: Phil, I am well aware that the Chinese are “very, very hard” on their political opponents. What you didn’t answer was *why* the Chinese consider the Uighurs political opponents.

Because they don't like their religion and they don't like their separatism. You can read more about this here and here.

The bottom line is that the Chinese would like to have a little chat with them because the Chinese view them as terrorists and a threat to Chinese stability.

Yes, they do. Not just these particular Uighars in Gitmo, either. Thousands of Uighars in China are viewed as threats to Chinese stability, much as Tibetans are, for much the same reason: "stability", in China, means conforming to what the state wants. And Human Rights Watch has been covering this for quite a while.

FYI. HTH. HAND.

Jesurgislac, should we have let the South secede from the Union and keep enslaving millions of people? Should Todd and Sarah Palin’s friends be allowed to take Alaska out of the Union? Is separatism always a good thing?

As for freedom of religion, well that is an important point. But the Southerners thought that the Bible gave them the right to own slaves. China has traditionally had a problem with oppressing women and the Chinese government is trying to give them more opportunity. Are the Uighurs?

Jesurgislac, should we have let the South secede from the Union and keep enslaving millions of people?

Should "we" have let Belgium secede from the Netherlands? Or Norway secede from Sweden? Or Iceland secede from Denmark? Or indeed, should we have let those thirteen colonies on the east coast of North America secede from the United Kingdom?

For USians without knowledge of history or geography outside their own country, "secession" may mean only one thing. But the world is wider than the US, though the notion that secession is invariably evil, wrong, bad, and evil is certainly one supported by the Chinese government - they claimed Tibet in 1951 on the grounds that it had no right to secede from China in 1912. A BBC Q&A

FYI: being part of an independence movement does not make you necessarily an evil person or a terrorist.

Frodo Potter: China has traditionally had a problem with oppressing women and the Chinese government is trying to give them more opportunity. Are the Uighurs?

Good question. Are the Uighur women being offered more opportunity by their men or by the Chinese government? You may find this of interest:

One example torture which is not criminalized and rarely prosecuted in the PRC is forced abortion. In particular relation to the Uyghurs, forced abortion is used as a tactic of maintaining and even decreasing the population size. Since 1984, the PRC has carried out a coercive birth control and forced sterilization policies amongst the Uyghurs. Since then, under the pretext of ensuring a steady growth in “minority population”, “improving the quality of minorities”, and “eliminating economic inequalities”, the PRC has launched a series of extensive birth control and forced sterilization campaigns all over Eastern Turkestan targeting Uyghur women. Officially, the one child policy only applies to the ethnic nationalities with a population of over 10 million in PRC. With a population of 8.6 million, the Uyghur are regarded as a “minority nationality” in their land and are in theory not subject to the provisions of family planning legislation in PRC. But in practice, the birth control and sterilization policies have been actively promoted and encouraged by the PRC government in the towns and villages of Eastern Turkestan. Clearly such policies are not only discriminatory, but also inflict severe suffering – both mental and physical – upon the victims. Thus far, little action can be taken by Uyghur women as the system for complaints and remedies is also heavily discriminatory and those who do press charges or complain usually face imprisonment with elevated chances of being tortured when incarcerated.
(report for the consideration of the Committee against Torture in advance of their session on the fourth periodic report to the Committee of the People’s Republic of China, 3 – 21 November 2008)

Frodo Potter: As for freedom of religion, well that is an important point.

Glad to hear you acknowledge that:

The authorities maintain tight control over mosques and religious clergy, intervening in the appointment of local imams, stationing police within and outside mosques, and closely monitoring all religious activities. Government employees in the XUAR, including teachers, police officers, state enterprise workers and civil servants risk losing their jobs if they engage in religious activity. The Chinese authorities have also put many obstacles in the way of Uighurs attempting to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, which is a requirement for all practising Muslims. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter mosques or to receive any sort of religious education. Many young Uighurs are afraid that if they do enter a mosque, or are found to be praying at home, they will be expelled from school.

Many also report that it is only on Fridays, the most important prayer day of the week for Muslims, that schools force students to stay at school for lunch in order to prevent them from going home to pray. Amnesty International report: Uighur Ethnic Identity Under Threat in China (pdf)

Dear Phil: incorrect. I have only Muslims illegally fighting or attacking US forces as likely to be terrorists.

Sincerely,

Dear Gary: Thank you for your comments. If the Uighurs are indeed innocent of being terrorists, I would have no objection to them being released. But, I would far prefer to let the military tribunal system make that decision. That, in my opinion, would have been more orderly and less tainted by even the appearance of political calculation on Obama's part.

Sincerely,

Warren, fair point if it wasn't Fox. I'm not too hard on the word mimic as it would have been partially true back when the Westminster-style parliaments were being set up. Now though, the Bermuda parliament sounds as though it has developed all kinds of interesting differences. While I'm here:

The bottom line is that the Chinese would like to have a little chat with them because the Chinese view them as terrorists and a threat to Chinese stability. Just because a person is innocent of one crime doesn’t mean that person is necessarily innocent of *every* crime.

I think the Chinese have a right to investigate. I could be mistaken, but didn’t one of the abortion clinic bombers flee to France a few years back? The French extradited him back to America, did they not? He hadn’t done anything wrong in France, but we still had the right to try him.

To extend the analogy, let's have a look at the Chinese arrest warrant and evidence to see how solid their case seems. Then let's consider if they're likely to give the accused a fair trial. And of course we should think about if they're going to be tortured if sent back. I'm pretty sure the French did all those things before extraditing anyone to the US, under the same or similar treaties.

should we have let the South secede from the Union and keep enslaving millions of people?

Yes, of course.

Should Todd and Sarah Palin’s friends be allowed to take Alaska out of the Union?

Alaskans should be allowed to decide the rules under which they are governed.

Is separatism always a good thing?

A government that isn't accepted by the governed is immoral. A government that is accepted by the governed at least has the logical possibility of being moral.

Sean, I think Phil must have been confused because you wrote "I disagree re the Uighurs and any other terrorists we have. The proper place for these awful persons is Guantanamo Bay. They remain illegal fighters"

And, as I presume you are fully aware, the Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay never fought US forces. I mean, you wouldn't be making these kind of sweeping claims about people without being aware that, if these people are "illegal fighters", the only illegal resistance movement that they have been identified as part of, is the East Turkestan resistance, fighting against the government of China. (And the evidence that they actually took part in fighting in China is ... minimal, I think.)

Do you believe the US ought to imprison all enemies of China in Guantanamo Bay? Frodo Potter upthread asserted that the US ought to treat the enemies of China as the enemies of the US because the US owes China $200 million: is that the position you're taking, that people who fight the Chinese government are "awful persons" who ought to be in prison camps?

Sean M. Brooks: the Bush administration already cleared them. Likewise, a court saw the evidence, classified and unclassified, and ordered their release. I'm not sure why a military tribunal would be necessary in addition to that.

Jesurgislac and NeilW, thank you for your comments. I will try to post a substantive reply tomorrow.

Jesurgislac, I do want to clear up my remark about the $200 million. That was a snarky, throwaway line and I wish I had left it off the comment. That amount of money won’t even begin to cover the debt and we all know it. So, I guess in a way I am thanking you for calling me on my snark.

As to lastWord, you do indeed have the last word, because I am at a loss for words. I can only hope you do not have any African-American friends.


My reply to lastWord would have been better phrased as this: You do indeed have the last word, because I am at a loss for words. I can only hope you do not have any African-American friends. They deserve better than a racist like you.

Dear Hilzoy: Thanks for your note.

Then I have no objection to these Uighurs being released. But, instead of paying Bermuda to take them, why not simpply send them on a plane to say, Cairo?

Sincerely,

Dear Jesurgislac: I'm corrected by you and Hilzoy. I too hastily assumed these Uighurs had been captured by US forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan. And the latter, with its border on China, might have been a likely8 place for Jihadists from Chinese Turkestan to have been captured.

Sincerely,

Lastword,

A government that isn't accepted by the governed is immoral.

In two southern states - Missisippi and South Carolina - slaves constituted a majority of the population in 1860. In several others they were 40% or more of the population.

Do you think that the government of these states can reasonably be considered to have been "accepted by the governed?"

Dear Bernard: Just a quick note.

Well, I would say the slaves of the ante-bellum states of Mississippi and South Carolina at least TACITLY accepted those governments--if only because most of them probably either could not or did not imagine any alternatives.

After all, as the late Poul Anderson wrote to me in one of his letters, most people DO accept their governtments, no matter how rotten they are. Because the only other alternative might be chaos and anarchy.

We seem to be seeing something similar in Iran just now. I suspect whatever support the hideous Shia theocracy still has is because many Iranians dread the prospect of anarchy and collapse.

Sincerely,

It has been seriously dicussed since the Civil War, whether a secession (accepted by the North) would not have worked better in the long run. One camp assumes that slavery would have remained up to the present day, the other that the South would have abolished it sooner or later and maybe without the poisoned climate resulting from the forced abolition. I am in no position to make a sound judgement on that. It seems that the jury will be out on that forever.

Sean, you might consider the possibility that rather than fearing "anarchy" the slaves of the antebellum South feared all the well-organized white guys with guns. I'm not sure that the people living in fear amounts to their giving their tacit consent.

and Re your 10:41 that we should fly the Uighur detainees to Cairo: In what possible way does this make sense? Why are they Egypt's responsibility - just because they are Muslims, or something? How do they clear Egyptian customs, and who helps them rebuild their shattered lives? Bermuda and Palau may be weird choices, but at least they agreed to take these schmoes. As long as you're going to propose something like this, why not go the full Khalid El Masri and leave them penniless and bewildered by the side of some desolate road in some country that is not the land of their citizenship nor the land where they were seized, and where they don't speak the language?

Sean: I too hastily assumed these Uighurs had been captured by US forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Your country has been holding these people captive for so many years, and you have never bothered to acquaint yourself with the - publicly-available information - that the vast majority of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay were sold to the US for a bounty? Afghans could be sold as "Taliban fighters": foreigners could be sold as "al-Qaeda fighters". Bush's claims that they were all "taken on the battlefield" had been shown to be false for many years now - and the more we find out about the captives in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Airbase and Iraq, the more we find that most of them are either rightfully PoWs (Afghans or Iraqis fighting against invaders in their own country) or else just kidnap victims sold to the US for the bounty - including quite a few Afghans.

It is not illegal for anyone to take up arms against enemy forces invading their country: whether Afghans fighting the US in Afghanistan, or Iraqis fighting the US in Iraq. It is and was and remains unlawful for the US to run camps like Guantanamo Bay or Bagram Airbase or indeed Camp Bucca - or any of the other prison camps in Iraq - where they hold people without any of the due process required of them. Whether or not these people have taken up arms against US forces, which - I say again - was never illegal for them to do.

It does puzzle me. I know people who believe this out of partisan committment, they simply don't want to know that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush crew were consistently lying: I know people who just reacted out of ignorant bigotry, anyone - especially Muslims - who had been accused and jailed must be guilty. Those two groups overlap, of course.

But: why did you assume? Why, in the years since Guantanamo Bay first opened, did it never occur to you to go look up the background of the prisoners whom your government was holding without the legal process they were due? Surely you couldn't have been completely unaware that the US's right to hold them under such circumstances has been disputed pretty much since the camp was built - did it never once occur to you to wonder why and go look stuff up to find out?

"Here is where I think the refugee argument breaks down."

Refugee? I think the word is "prisoner".

Is separatism always a good thing?

I'm torn on the issue of separatism. Of course I sympathize with oppressed minorities and sometimes secession is the only way to ensure them, on the other hand I fear a world where every ethnic group demands their own state, so that at the end of this century we might have ~300 nations as opposed to the ~200 we have now, which would increase the potential for conflict. Also, you always have other minorities living within the area of the oppressed minority and its terribly hard to accommodate their interests while at the same time using ethnic identity as the main reason for statehood, which is why there's always a danger of ethnic cleansing in these cases.

The above is of course only at the most tangentially related to the fate of the Uighurs that have been held at Guantanamo.

"Is separatism always a good thing?"

No. Is it always a bad thing? No.

"Jesurgislac, should we have let the South secede from the Union and keep enslaving millions of people? "

Do the Uighurs plan to enslave millions of people?

More relevant questions might be:

Have the Uighurs we hold actually committed any crime, anywhere?

Were all of the Uighurs we hold actually residents of China in the first place? Uighurs live all over central Asia.

What is the basis for any claim China might make for demanding their repatriation?

Should China's record of violating the civil rights of political dissenters be considered when evaluating their demand to repatriate the Uighurs?

Does any obligation we might have to honor whatever claim China presents trump our obligation to make folks we've held, without cause, for years, whole?

Sean,

I don't think that we are using the word "accepted" the same way. You say the slaves may have accepted their government because they could not imagine alternatives. Well, I doubt that. The government did try to keep them illiterate, but even so it's bizarre to think that they weren't aware of other possible arrangements. Slaves did run away, after all.

Those who did accept it more probably did so out of a sense that attempts to change things would be dangerous and futile. In other words, it was not acceptance in the sense of consent but resignation in the face of coercion.

If I hand over money to a robber, you may argue that I "accepted" the robber's claim, because otherwise the robber would harm me. That's hardly the same as handing over money to a merchant in an ordinary transaction. Only in the latter case can I be said to have truly accepted the other party's claim to be paid.

"Well, I would say the slaves of the ante-bellum states of Mississippi and South Carolina at least TACITLY accepted those governments"

Not to be piling on Sean, but I'd like to second Bernard's comment on this.

In the absence of choice or any kind of meaningful agency, the most that "accept" can mean is something resembling resignation. It can't mean "accept" in the sense of "recognize as legitimate", which is what I think Bernard intended.

If I hand over money to a robber, you may argue that I "accepted" the robber's claim, because otherwise the robber would harm me. That's hardly the same as handing over money to a merchant in an ordinary transaction. Only in the latter case can I be said to have truly accepted the other party's claim to be paid.

Then it is hard to see how any government can be considered as being accepted by its people since under any functioning government taking steps to remove it from power using methods that it does not officially sanction means that you risk imprisonment or death.

What happens to Americans who commit illegal acts to overthrow their government? Do Americans accept their government?

under any functioning government taking steps to remove it from power using methods that it does not officially sanction means that you risk imprisonment or death.

Which is why governments that are consented to generally allow peaceful attempts to remove those in power, to object to government actions, and to change the laws and even the underlying structure - the Constitution in the case of the US.

Having a democratic government that sometmes does things you don't like is not the same as being a slave, no matter how broad you try to make your definitions.

What happens to Americans who commit illegal acts to overthrow their government? Do Americans accept their government?

This is getting silly. Are you seriously arguing that the majority of Americans only accept the government because they are afraid of being imprisoned or killed otherwise? Is that how you yourself spend your days, wishing to be free of the tyrannical regime in Washington (and wherever your state capital is), but fearful of expressing this wish aloud?

If so, I am sorry for you, and wish you a happier time in whatever magical kingdom you manage to migrate to.

If not - please quit making silly analogies.

Dear Bernard and Russell. Thanks for your comments.

I hope you don't mind me addressing this note to both of you. You both touch on the same topics, so I thought this is the most convenient way to respond.

Please note I said ONLY that MOST slaves in ante-bellum Mississippi/South Carolina probably accepted the gov'ts of those states "tacitly." I did not intend to include either runaway slaves or slaves who managed to purchase their manumission (as I think a few were able to do)as part of the large majority who "accepted", in various ways, their lot.

And, by "tacitly" I meant a slave in those states circa 1859 probably did not imagine the situation changing any time soon. Again, that does not apply to the small minority who were NOT willing to be "resigned."

So, I think Bernard overlooked what I THOUGHT were the obvious implications of my use of "most." And I think Russell is correct to say that "resignation" is a better term than "tacitly."

And when I unwittingly started this philogical debate, my thought was that "most" (again, please note that term)slaves were illiterate farm hands more concerned about the weather, crops, the moods of their staw boss or overseer, etc., than philosophical arguments.

Sincerely, Sean

And when I unwittingly started this philogical debate, my thought was that "most" (again, please note that term)slaves were illiterate farm hands more concerned about the weather, crops, the moods of their straw boss or overseer, etc., than philosophical arguments.

...philosophical arguments?

You think that a slave would think slavery and freedom were philosophical arguments?

I did not intend to include either runaway slaves or slaves who managed to purchase their manumission (as I think a few were able to do)as part of the large majority who "accepted", in various ways, their lot.

Assuming that because a slave hasn't run away that means she or he has "tacitly accepted" that they will always be a slave and regard freedom as merely a "philosophical argument" is the argument of slaveowners trying to justify themselves.

It's the same argument that's used, with only a little variation, to justify mistreating any illiterate and severely exploited group: they don't know enough to want any different.

"We can't reason from our feelings to those of this class of persons."

Dear Sean M. Brooks,

None of us are intimately familiar with the specifics of every item that may make the news on a given day. As adults, we develop shortcuts to help us process new scenarios whose specifics are unfamiliar. Maybe we recall a previous scenario that seems somewhat similar and we think of a person or a source of information who we recall was insightful about that previous scenario. Before doing all of the research necessary to familiarize ourselves with the specifics of this news item, we may first check to see if that insightful person has insights on this new, current scenario. If they do, and if their insights seem reasonable to us, we may conclude that we have a workable (albeit imperfect) handle on the new scenario also, and don't need to conduct extensive research into the specifics. Listening to voices whose track record we trust in these situations is quite human, and can be a valuable time saver.

Clearly, your comments on this topic did not demonstrate intimate familiarity. My question to you, then, is what person or persons' views on the Uighurs at Gitmo did you reference, that allowed you to feel comfortable pronouncing the following judgement upon these men?

"I disagree re the Uighurs and any other terrorists we have. The proper place for these awful persond is Guantanamo Bay. They remain illegal fighers totally undeserving of being treated either like honorable POWs (which they are not), or what the British called ODCs (Ordinary Decent Criminals).
We should have the guts to let the military tribunals decide the fate of these vile persons."

Sincerely,

Dear CMatt: I've already conceded I spoke too hastily about the Uighurs. Some, like Hilzoy, have convinced me it was right to release the Uighurs.

Sincerely,

Sean, I'd rather you answered the question (I think CMatt's question is better than mine, so I'd like to associate myself with it.)

Note to self: try *hard* to vacation in Bermuda the next time our family is looking for a warm-weather vacation.

I think it is wonderful that Bermuda stepped up, and there is absolutely no reason that they should fear a negative impact on their tourism industry. There should be more than enough people who care about civil liberties and justice to make up for the foolish cowawrds who are spooked by this brave and noble gesture.

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Whatnot


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