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April 23, 2008

Comments

I'm still trying to grasp the idea that the great civil rights and feminism battles are all fought and won and we can just move on from them. When our Supreme Court recently decided that, unless a woman can find out what all her co-workers make within the first 6 months of her employment, she can't later sue when she discovers that she's systematically been paid less than men who do the same work for years and years, I'm not quite willing to grant that premise.

OCSteve -- I'm not good at much else besides nuance at this point in my life. To me, it isn't even straightforward to say, "this guy is a terrorist, plain and simple." It's a word that has been laden with far too much baggage, projection, and black-and-white thinking to be (as you put it) "plain and simple." To me, there's pretty much nothing whatsoever about human beings that's "plain and simple."

One person's, or era's, or region's terrorist is another one's freedom fighter, and plenty of people who I'm pretty sure you would call terrorists (depending on which side you were looking from) have become heads of state once the war (whichever war) was over.

People just aren't monolithic, even in the moment, never mind over the course of a long lifetime. And in the media circus that is public life today, where anything anyone says, any nuance, any shade of meaning, any complexity of motivation or emotional reality is distorted, lied about, shredded to bits and pasted back together in some dishonest way -- I probably wouldn't apologize either, no matter how I felt privately about something I had done.

"plenty of people" is a hasty exaggeration / generalization. I was just trying to say that "terrorist" is a fuzzy, perspective-constrained, and often time-limited term. Do you think anyone who takes up arms against what s/he considers to be tyranny is a terrorist, and forever?

@Xeynon - A couple of points:

I never attributed to you sympathy with the sentiment that we should hurry up and die; that was Zebra.

As much of the post-Wright-speech discussion on this blog demonstrated, there are very different understandings of the amount and steadiness of the progress on social issues (not only in eradicating anti-black racism, but in issues surrounding women, disabled people, LGBT, and onward). I believe you underestimate the reality of backlash, backsliding, and the shallowness of some kinds of progress. From your perspective, I'm probably not celebratory enough of the progress that's been made.

I have not made facile comparisons of the U.S. wars of agression in Iraq and Viet Nam. Nonetheless, to deny that imperial foreign policy is at the root of the two conflicts is to miss a pretty big piece of the picture.

Your supposed counter-example, the old-fashioned excuse for imperial war, is less of an argument against my approach than you might think. The mindset that supports our unchangingly imperial foreign policy is the same -- only the exact character of the high-minded excuse changes. American exceptionalism, the bland assumption of our right to intervene anywhere and to be taken seriously as having some well-intentioned purpose, now justifies itself as being about "democracy promotion" instead of "the civilizing mission".

That we're once again in a ruinous, unwinnable war driven by our government's lies is not evidence that I'm stuck in the sixties -- it's evidence that the country is, having quickly erased a lot of the lessons briefly learned at such a high cost.

I’m not religious in the least. So I’m not sure where you are going…

Ah. Some people are specifically pissed off that Wright said "God damn America because..." instead of saying "America is bad because...". My comment is directed to those people. It sounds like you're not one of them because the thing that pissed you off was criticizing America in general. Apologies and please ignore the misdirected comment.

JanieM: The bomb that took three of them out was intended for a dance at the NCO club at Ft. Dix. Non-commissioned officers (read blue collar, not officers) and their wives enjoying a night out. The security guard and the cops that they killed left wives and lots of kids behind. I’m working on nuance – this just doesn’t fit in…

I was just trying to say that "terrorist" is a fuzzy, perspective-constrained, and often time-limited term. Do you think anyone who takes up arms against what s/he considers to be tyranny is a terrorist, and forever?

George Washington et al= not terrorists. Even after 200+ years.

Hamas attacks against civilians=terrorism

Osama Bin Laden=terrorist.

Sure, there may be some gray area in the middle, (and you might consider Che in the middle) but blowing up members of the armed services (noncoms)at a dance with a suitcase packed with dynamite and nails? You have a problem calling that terrorism?

OCSteve -- I suspect that if we had time and leisure, we'd find out that I'm not all that far from you in how I would judge for myself what Ayers did a long time ago. I think I'm reacting more to the question of how it fits, in the big scheme of things, in relation to a current presidential campaign. Every last thing is turned into such a stupid media circus, with spin and distortion and gotchas and all the rest. That turns my stomach. Not that violence doesn't as well, truth to tell.

Thanks for the dialogue.

[...] Exactly which people should stfu?

[...]

Why?

Because it's ideological,

Ideology:
An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. The word ideology was coined by Count Antoine Destutt de Tracy in the late 18th century to define a "science of ideas." An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare Weltanschauung), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought (as opposed to mere ideation) applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.
Which part do you object to?

The bomb that took three of them out was intended for a dance at the NCO club at Ft. Dix. Non-commissioned officers (read blue collar, not officers) and their wives enjoying a night out.

Your writing communicates a sense of intense outrage at the barbarity and injustice of such senseless violence. I appreciate that and I certainly agree with it. I part ways with you when it comes to the selectivity of this outrage. There were lots of blue collar folk in Iraq who have fared a lot worse and there are tons of GOP politicians that have "close" associations with Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Feith/Pearle/etc. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but do you feel the same sense of outrage for those killings?

George Washington et al= not terrorists. Even after 200+ years.

Of course they're not terrorists. They won. If they had lost, they would have been terrorists. We've cleverly defined terrorism to be violence conducted by a non-state actor intended to effect political change. Washington et al win and become a government, so they can't be terrorists. But if they had lost...

This is a very clever game: the same actions can be either terrorism or legitimate statecraft depending on who orders them. A neat trick indeed.

Sometimes I am good at nuance. However, as regards Ayers between, say, 1970 and, oh, maybe '75, I don't feel much need for it. (I have not followed what he has said since then, so I do not propose to talk about it.)

Some of the goals of the Weather Underground were goals I agree with: e.g., ending the Vietnam war. Some not. Most groups have some goals I agree with: I'm sure that al Qaeda must say something about, say, helping the oppressed, and I'd agree with that.

Means matter, though. And the means the Weather Underground took in the service of these goals were appalling. They set bombs. After three of their members blew themselves up while planning to bomb a dance of NCOs, they used precautions to ensure that no one was hurt, but (a) their initial plans included blowing up the dance, and the people at it, and (b) precautions don't always work, and setting bombs necessarily runs the risk that people will get killed.

Moreover, their reasons for doing this were totally idiotic. By their reasons I don't mean their goals, but rather the completely mythical connection between the means they chose and any actual way of realizing those goals. I mean, supposedly, setting these bombs was going to help end the war. How, exactly? Well, that's sort of a mystery. It was going to help with the fight against worldwide oppression. Again, how? Again, a total mystery.

I don't have a problem, in general, with people being stupid. It happens. But I do think that there are some things that you don't get to do without making sure that this time, you are not being stupid -- things that you can only choose to do by accepting an obligation not to be stupid this time.

Setting bombs is one of those things. I think it's wrong under most circumstances, but when you do it without any more justification than some completely fantastic idea that by blowing up NCOs at a dance or the Marin County Courthouse or whatever, you are going to bring on the revolution, you are culpably stupid in a way you wouldn't be had you just exercised your stupidity as, say, a golf caddy.

I have no problem at all calling the Weather Underground terrorists. None.

"Fwiw, I have very little brief for significant chunks of the far left in the late 60s. (E.g., for SDS.) (Needless to say, I don't have much use for most late 60s conservatives either.) It's just that part of the reason for that is that I think they were very careless about what they thought and did, and I have no wish to emulate them."

The SDS up to the convention 0f 1969 of was most certainly not the Weatherman, and I'd contend that until that point the organization did invaluable work in organizing opposition to the Vietnam War, for civil rights, and otherwise in political education, with the lunatic nonsense largely being confined to the Maoist Progressive Labor Party (PL) groups, which overlapped with the later Revolutionary Youth Movement segment of the post-1969 period, and their sympathizers.

Do you really feel that the SDS of 1962 through 1966, 1967, and 1968, were of little use or positive value?

I certainly agree as regards what was left of SDS after the 1969 disintergration; but I don't agree as regards the earlier years.

Ditto that although I've had good friends who were Maoists, I always found their politics appalling.

(For those unclear, I was born in November, 1958, so my knowledge is just about all second and third-hand. But the topic is one I'm fairly well-read in.)

As a bit of context, incidentally, OCSteve, without making the faintest apologies for Ayers, do keep in mind that it was a time of mass riots, shootings of students by the National Guard, assassinations of Black Panther leaders, COINTELPRO, a White House convinced that revolution was imminent, mass arrests of tens of thousands of people at a time, tanks on the streets of Washington, and on and on.

But the most relevant thing is that Bill Ayers and Barack Obama have had almost nothing to do with each other, and claims otherwise are laughable: how many hours are they documented to have spent in each other's company, ever? Let alone one-on-one?

Ayers is just guilty-by-association mud.

Our misadventure in the Philippines was undertaken at a very different time, when western attitudes toward the developing world were very different, for very different motives, using very different tactics.

I find the "it was the times" defense a shaky one at the best of times; here, it should be pointed out that there was a fairly significant movement - the Anti-Imperialist League - in the US opposed to the "misadventure". (One of the leaders of the League was one of my personal heroes, Carl Schurz, who - IMO - managed to be on the right side of every major issue from 1848 to 1900.)

Gary: I did mean the late 60s. What I had in mind was, oh, '68 onwards.

"George Washington et al= not terrorists. Even after 200+ years."

You might want to take that up with the Iroquois. Not that their own wartime conduct would have been in compliance with the Geneva Convention.

"Our misadventure in the Philippines was undertaken at a very different time, when western attitudes toward the developing world were very different, for very different motives, using very different tactics. As offensive as many people find Bush today, it would be unthinkable for him to say that foreign invasions are justified because the white race is the vanguard of civilization and has a duty to conquer and civilize brown people, but that was a common view at the time of the Philippine War."

It's no longer acceptable to be so blatantly racist, but I think the feeling that we are a morally superior society and therefore have the right to invade other countries for their own good is still running strong.

In some ways we've slid backwards. I get the impression there was more of an uproar over the Philippine atrocities 100 years ago than there has been with respect to the torture scandal. They tried General Jacob Smith back then, though according to wikipedia it wasn't for ordering war crimes but for conduct not conducive to discipline.

Do you really feel that the SDS of 1962 through 1966, 1967, and 1968, were of little use or positive value?

Check it out: the Port Huron Statement, 1962.

It's kinda long, but not that long. It'll take you maybe 20 minutes to read it through.

These guys were what, 20 years old when they drafted this?

These were serious people. Good, bad, or indifferent as the paths were that they ultimately took, they were trying to figure out a good and worthwhile way to live in the world.

I'm with hilzoy. Ayers should be in jail.

But there was much, much more to the SDS and similar groups than bomb throwing.

All of which is by way of historical interest.

My understanding of the Obama-Ayers issue is that Ayers gave Obama $200, and hosted a party at which his predecessor in the state senate introduced him (Obama) to some local political types. And, oh yeah, they were both on the board of a charitable organization.

This is a scandal?

Next topic, please. Yes, I know the Republicans will try to crucify him with it, but seriously, next topic please.

Thanks -

OCSteve, please provide evidence that Ayres is trying to indoctrinate the youth of this country.

The fact that he, in looking back at what he did, is not properly remorseful does not make him a bad person today, unless you have evidence that he is actually doing something bad.

And as Gary has pointed out, to somehow or other uses Ayres to paint Obama in a bad light is absolutely ridiculous.

"I could be wrong (shocking I know) but wasn’t it his campaign manager who confirmed they were friends?"

Cite? I realize you seem to be saying you don't know, but since you have the internet right there, presumably you can either check to your satisfaction, or choose to pass on a rumor whose truth or falsity you have no idea about. I'm hoping you'll give a cite.

"Did they cross paths a few times or are they closer is the question. Ayers is well known in Chicago politics. He helped launch Obama’s political career. He participated in a couple of forums with Obama at Michelle’s invitation."

That's the thing. All that's there is that Alice Palmer used the Ayers/Dohrn residence for a party at which she announced her retirement and endorsed Obama, and Ayers was asked to be on a couple of academic panels with Obama. And they were on a board, with no evidence they ever even met in that capacity, let alone were closer.

The former wasn't Obama's choice, was decades ago, and is trivial. The panel "connection" is equally trivial; I've been on dozens and dozens of panel discussions at conventions and conferences and the like, and I'd completely repudiate endless numbers of beliefs of endless numbers of people I've been on panels with, including people I've asked to be on panels.

So what? We're not allowed to debate or engage in public discussion with people unless we either agree with them, or denounce them for what they did decades ago?

I don't think so.

If Ayers and Obama were best buddies, or partners in a two-person firm, or something like that, sure, there's be a valid complaint. But this is pure classic guilt-by-association.

Unless you have specific cites demonstrating otherwise. "Smoke" isn't a legitimate charge; it's a smear.

I get the impression there was more of an uproar over the Philippine atrocities 100 years ago than there has been with respect to the torture scandal.

More uproar not just about the atrocities but getting involved in the first place, William Jennings Bryan and Mark Twain to name two. The speech by Bryan was the day after he had secured the Democratic nomination.

"Sorry – this guy is a terrorist, plain and simple. No more and no less than McVay. He has no regrets over what he did. He gloats about it. He relishes the fact that he got away with it because the FBI screwed up the case."

What quotes are you specifically referring to, please?

"I'm with hilzoy. Ayers should be in jail."

I don't have access to any of the history books I once had, I haven't read Ayers' book, and my memory is imperfect. Ayers and Dohrn turned themselves in 1981. Did he or they do any actual bomb constructing/setting, etc., or did they just justify it? I don't know at the moment, and would welcome clarification.

Dohrn:

[...] Ms. Dohrn and Mr. Ayers had a son, Zayd, in 1977. After the birth of Malik, in 1980, they decided to surface. Ms. Dohrn pleaded guilty to the original Days of Rage charge, received three years probation and was fined $1,500. The Federal charges against Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn had already been dropped.
If Ayers and/or Dohrn did actually engage in more than rhetoric, to the point of engaging in acts that substantively contributed to the moving forward of the bombing, then certainly they syhould have been tried for that, but if they had, and been found guilty, would they have been sentenced to more than 30 years in jail, for what they did nearly forty years ago?

If so, can we also get back to talking about why there haven't been war crimes trials for Henry Kissinger, et al? Since we're not letting bygones be bygones.

A couple years ago a some of my work colleagues and i went out for drinks and got talking about our respective pasts, Turns outt this one guy had set many many bombsback in the day. in fact he had dropped too many to count. I asked him if he knew how many peoplel had died from his bombs and he said he had no idea. i asked if if he knew how many were people he intended to kill and how many were bystanders and he said he had no idea.

Contrast that with Ayers and Dohrn who, on the rare occassions that they actyually manged to get one of their bombs to go offf timed the explosions for the early hours of the moring so as to kill no one.

Ayers and Dohrn had incredibley stupid reasons for blowing up bombs. AS i understand it they thought they wre part of a revolution.

My work colleague also had an incredibly stupid reason for killing thousands of people: he was carrying out orders. The oreder were given for incredibly stupid reason: obstensively to stop the spread of Communism but really in an effort to save our natinal vanity.

If we are going to get all huffy and puffy and moralistic and judgemental about Ayers, should we also question the judgement and values of those who killed som many more people for reasons equally self=indulgent annd self-delusional?

Or maybe we should get over the sixites and worry about current problems.

If so, can we also get back to talking about why there haven't been war crimes trials for Henry Kissinger, et al?

Dude, you're giving me a woodie.

Bring it.

Thanks -

As I said earlier, I hadn't been following this story. I tried to make a more or less abstract point and did it poorly, and there were things about the story I didn't know.

Other people have done a better job of getting at what was bothering me, but instead of trying to trace through everyone's comments and say "I agree, thanks for saying it so well," I'll just follow up on Gary's question about Kissinger with another question.

If Ayers is a terrorist, what is George Bush? What are Cheney, Rice, Powell, and Rumsfeld? Et al....

What exactly is the word for them, given the number of people who have died because of their idiotic stupidity and arrogance and sureness that they knew what was best for other people?

I'm not being snarky or sarcastic, I really want to know. Given how laden with outrage and disapproval "terrorist" is, what word is adequate for these people?

If there's no particular word, nevertheless does everyone who thinks Ayers should be (or should have been in) prison think all the above-named should be right there with him? If so, that would make me feel a little better about this conversation.

Did he or they do any actual bomb constructing/setting, etc., or did they just justify it?

If we are going to get all huffy and puffy and moralistic and judgemental about Ayers, should we also question the judgement and values of those who killed som many more people for reasons equally self=indulgent annd self-delusional?

My assumption here has been that Ayers had some material connection to bomb making. If he did, IMO he should have done time. If he didn't, but just thought it was a good idea, probably not, although he wouldn't be on my Christmas card list.

My operating assumption, personally, is that there's no good reason short of an imperative need to defend yourself to blow other people up. 'Revolution' is, IMO, just not good enough. 'Stopping the spread of Communism', ditto.

I have no, zero, nada, zip problem being judgemental about that. I think it's dead wrong. IMO it's murder.

As always, YMMV.

Or maybe we should get over the sixites and worry about current problems.

OK with me.

Thanks -

I'm quite happy with the idea of Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld being in prison for war crimes. (Powell, no, unless he approved war crimes.)

As far as I know, "terrorist" means someone who uses terrorism, and terrorism is using violence against civilians to produce terror. It is not the same as using violence against military targets, with or without the possibility that civilians might be harmed. That can be bad (depending on the target, the reasons for striking it, and the relationship between the possible casualties and the target's value -- e.g., knocking out the train lines to Auschwitz would, according to me, have been OK even if it risked killing a small number of civilians.)

I do not know that Bush et al have used this tactic. If they have, I'm fine with calling them terrorists. If not, I'd prefer to stick with war criminals, given their violations of the laws of war.

If Ayers is a terrorist, what is George Bush? What are Cheney, Rice, Powell, and Rumsfeld?

As I make it out, all of the folks you named conspired to mislead the American public in order to initiate a war of aggression against a country that posed no realistic threat to the US.

Further, they all sat in a damned room and discussed the details of an interrogation regime that very likely violated US and international law.

Jail, b*tches. Sounds fine to me. Fire up the special prosecutor and lets get to work.

Thanks -

I also assumed he was connected to the bombings. He was, I think, in the Weatherman leadership, and one of the three people who was killed in the townhouse explosion was his girlfriend. If he wasn't involved, what russell said.

I also don't know that I think Ayers should be (or have been) in prison. It depends what I get to assume. As I understand it, he was not charged because of government misconduct. Since I think that government misconduct in the collection of evidence should be grounds for excluding that evidence, assuming that that was why the charges were dropped, I don't think he should be in jail. Otoh, if I get to assume that the government got evidence legitimately and made its case, then yes, I think he should have gone to jail.

I am also more than happy to drop the 60s.

Since I think that government misconduct in the collection of evidence should be grounds for excluding that evidence, assuming that that was why the charges were dropped, I don't think he should be in jail.

Actually, I agree with this. Please amend my comments above to state that, if Ayers had some material connection with bomb making, he *deserved* to have done time.

If he got off because the government failed to obey the law when making its case, that's on them. On the whole, IMO we're far better off letting a handful of the guilty go free in order to preserve the rule of law, paradoxical as that may seem at first blush.

Thanks -

An aside, prompted by the discussion of the Weathermen and domestic terrorism.

My wife is a few years older than me. She grew up in northeast OH, attended Kent State, and was there on the famous day.

Four young people were shot dead by the National Guard on a college campus. Two of them had nothing to do with any kind of political protest, they were just walking to class.

Wrong place, wrong time. Tag, you're it.

Nine others were wounded. One was permanently paralyzed.

And horrifying as that was, it was by no means the only scary or horrifying thing that happened during those years. Far from it.

Those were very, very, very hairy days. It's all history now, so we forget, but scary, dramatic, violent, intense events were astoundingly normal at the time.

I don't mind those days being done.

Thanks -

As far as I know, "terrorist" means someone who uses terrorism, and terrorism is using violence against civilians to produce terror...I do not know that Bush et al have used this tactic. If they have, I'm fine with calling them terrorists. If not, I'd prefer to stick with war criminals, given their violations of the laws of war.

Well, Bush et al. have used propaganda against civilians to produce terror, but admittedly propaganda isn't quite what is normally meant by violence. So I guess I'll have to stick with war criminals too, although I have to say I think our society lets people who only use propaganda instead of violence for these purposes off too easily.

I should say that one reason this is all on my mind is that I'm reading Rick Perlstein's new book, Nixonland. (It's very, very good.) Prompted by the book, a couple of days ago I re-watched the Weather Underground documentary, and (as happened the first time I saw it) it made me livid.

As I make it out, all of the folks you named conspired to mislead the American public in order to initiate a war of aggression against a country that posed no realistic threat to the US.

I don't think that this is the case, I think that the Congress looked at most of the available information, before AUMF, If stating what you believe given your interpretations of the available information is conspiracy, then what isn't a conspiracy?

Further, they all sat in a damned room and discussed the details of an interrogation regime that very likely violated US and international law.

a) International law, by whom? I don't think terrorists are protected under Geneva conventions, and surely our enemies are far more in violation of international law than the US.

b) I don't believe that anybody set policy that terrorists can be tortured. I think that was an effort to protect intelligence agents, who many times had to operate under different circumstances than a domestic crime, as opposed to trying to overt pending acts of terrorism.


Jail, b*tches. Sounds fine to me. Fire up the special prosecutor and lets get to work.

The left wing historically wants their political opponents to be thrown in prison or psychiatric hospitals, to be guillotined, etc. Maybe the International Criminal Court will defer action on Kim Jung Il, and Robert Mugabe to pursue the Bush Administration. You can only hope !

I too grew up in northeastern Ohio and had friends at Kent, though no one I knew was in the area where/when the shootings happened. My sister now teaches there, and on a visit a few years ago we walked over to the place where there are plaques in the pavement marking the places where the students died. It's more viscerally horrifying and sad to me now than it was then. I hate to say it, but at 20 I was too young and had too little experience of life to realize just how bad things were.

Russell, northeastern Ohio is well-populated, I know, but I wonder how many degrees of separation there are between us. I grew up in Ashtabula.... If you don't want to say more, I get that, but tell your wife hi from someone else who grew up in "northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania...the best location in the nation" -- as they used to say on the radio.

Btw: if anyone is not tired of, well, not the 60s but 1972, Perlstein has a fascinating article on the '72 elections. Excerpts:

"f you happen to find yourself listening to Conversation 62 of Tape 33 of the new Nixon documents released this summer, this is what you will hear: On Election Night 1972, Richard M. Nixon, having served George McGovern the biggest electoral college defeat in history, took a congratulatory phone call from Hubert H. Humphrey, who all but admitted he had wanted McGovern to lose, and that he had tried to keep him from winning.

It is oblique, as the wink-wink, nudge-nudge understandings of backroom politics so often are. Nixon had earlier dispatched Henry Kissinger to convey to Humphrey the (false) message that the Vietnam peace deal he would sign after the election was perfectly marvelous. On the tape, Humphrey agrees that, yes, Nixon was better for peace than McGovern. Nixon grants Humphrey absolution for having nonetheless campaigned for the Democratic nominee ("you had to fight for your man"), and Humphrey’s voice turns conspiratorial: "Well, I’ll have a talk with you some time. . . . I did what I had to do. If not, Mr. President, this whole defeat would have been blamed on me and on some of my associates." They both share a hearty laugh. (...)

Any account must consider the political exhaustion of the old Democratic order–that the bosses’ cities provided 21 percent of votes in 1960, but only 14 percent in 1968; that union members voted 66 percent for John F. Kennedy, but only 51 percent for Humphrey; that in those same years the number of students in college almost doubled. It also must consider the regulars’ moral decrepitude. AFL-CIO chief George Meany was by then a bitter old man, who told John Ehrlichman in the White House, "When I was a plumber, it never occurred to me to have niggers in the union." In 1966, he specifically gave leave to McGovern, facing a tough reelection fight in a conservative state, to vote against cloture on banning right-to-work laws. In 1971, he explicitly signed off on McGovern as an acceptable Democratic candidate, and then, in 1972, ruthlessly sabotaged him in a fit of cultural pique for turning over the Democratic Party, as Meany claimed from the dais at a Steelworkers’ convention, to "people who look like Jacks, acted like Jills, and had the odors of Johns about them." (...)

Humphrey himself, backed by Meany, ran a stupendously vicious primary campaign against McGovern in the late innings. Edmund Muskie, Scoop Jackson, and Humphrey even cast aspersions against McGovern on "Meet the Press" segments during the convention. Others were more casual–like the Catholic Missouri senator, one of the few up and comers associated with the regulars’ old order, who gave a blind quote to Evans and Novak at the height of the primary season, when McGovern looked to be clinching the nomination: "The people don’t know McGovern is for amnesty, abortion, and legalization of pot. Once Middle America–Catholic Middle America, in particular–finds this out, he’s dead."
Well, like I said, his position on abortion was the same as Nixon’s. His position on pot followed the President’s National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. And amnesty was enacted, in limited form, by Gerald Ford. And the person who cast the false aspersion, Novak has recently revealed in his memoirs, was . . . Thomas Eagleton."

Nothing like the old days to put our present squabbles in perspective.

When our Supreme Court recently decided that, unless a woman can find out what all her co-workers make within the first 6 months of her employment, she can't later sue when she discovers that she's systematically been paid less than men who do the same work for years and years, I'm not quite willing to grant that premise.

The Supreme Court decided no such thing. They decided that a plaintiff cannot bring legal action if they don't discover within the first six months that they are being discriminated against. In this case, the plaintiff was a woman, and was being discriminated against because she was a woman, but those facts are incidental to the case. This is a civil rights issue, but it's not a feminism one.

As much of the post-Wright-speech discussion on this blog demonstrated, there are very different understandings of the amount and steadiness of the progress on social issues (not only in eradicating anti-black racism, but in issues surrounding women, disabled people, LGBT, and onward). I believe you underestimate the reality of backlash, backsliding, and the shallowness of some kinds of progress.

Can you give me one example of such backsliding? Sure, there's been lots of hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing by social conservatives about changes to American society they don't like (e.g. feminism, multiculturalism), but when has the reactionary pushback against these issues ever succeeded in stuffing the genie back into the bottle? I cannot think of a single case. As recently twenty years ago, a network sitcom centered on a career-oriented single mother (Murphy Brown) was controversial. That ain't so anymore. America continues to let in immigrants by the millions each year, and even the legal ones are overwhelmingly non-WASP. Gay marriage (which would have been unthinkable in the 1960's, btw) may have been halted for the time being, but it's going to happen, because polls show that a majority of young people support it. As for racism, in the social circles I moved in the idea that something like interracial dating would be an issue was ridiculous. Granted, my cohort - college-educated northeasterners - is one of the most socially liberal in the U.S., but such liberal attitudes would have been pretty rare among any but the most radical members of the same segment of society in, say, the 1950's.

Social reactionary types are fighting a rearguard action against the progress of history, to use somebody else's phrase. It's not that they will lose, it's that they already have and just don't know it yet.


It's no longer acceptable to be so blatantly racist, but I think the feeling that we are a morally superior society and therefore have the right to invade other countries for their own good is still running strong.

Among older people, mostly. I honestly don't know a lot of people my age (including people who've served in the military) who hold such attitudes. Look at Pat Tillman, the guy that was held out as a model of patriotism to our generation by the government. Sure, he did an incredibly selfless and patriotic thing, giving up a career as an NFL player to fight in Afghanistan. But that didn't stop him from opposing the Iraq War because he thought it was an imperialistic violation of international law, or questioning the motives or ethics of his government.

In some ways we've slid backwards. I get the impression there was more of an uproar over the Philippine atrocities 100 years ago than there has been with respect to the torture scandal. They tried General Jacob Smith back then, though according to wikipedia it wasn't for ordering war crimes but for conduct not conducive to discipline.

I'm not sure I buy this (McKinley and TR, the primary boosters of the Phillipine undertaking, were both quite popular, and no leading politician of the day opposed it - not true of Bush or opposing politicians today). But even if it is true, a sense of perspective is necessary here.

In the Philippines, "atrocities" meant things like burning villages to the ground, systematically slaughtering non-combatants, including children (in Smith's case), and herding civilians into concentration camps. The torture scandal, while shameful, involves a limited number of people and torture methods that are tame by comparison, and is still such cause for outrage that it is, after all, a scandal.

Certainly, progress doesn't always move as fast as we'd like. But that's not equivalent to backsliding.

When our Supreme Court recently decided that, unless a woman can find out what all her co-workers make within the first 6 months of her employment, she can't later sue when she discovers that she's systematically been paid less than men who do the same work for years and years, I'm not quite willing to grant that premise.

The Supreme Court decided no such thing. They decided that a plaintiff cannot bring legal action if they don't discover within the first six months that they are being discriminated against. In this case, the plaintiff was a woman, and was being discriminated against because she was a woman, but those facts are incidental to the case. This is a civil rights issue, but it's not a feminism one.

As much of the post-Wright-speech discussion on this blog demonstrated, there are very different understandings of the amount and steadiness of the progress on social issues (not only in eradicating anti-black racism, but in issues surrounding women, disabled people, LGBT, and onward). I believe you underestimate the reality of backlash, backsliding, and the shallowness of some kinds of progress.

Can you give me one example of such backsliding? Sure, there's been lots of hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing by social conservatives about changes to American society they don't like (e.g. feminism, multiculturalism), but when has the reactionary pushback against these issues ever succeeded in stuffing the genie back into the bottle? I cannot think of a single case. As recently twenty years ago, a network sitcom centered on a career-oriented single mother (Murphy Brown) was controversial. That ain't so anymore. America continues to let in immigrants by the millions each year, and even the legal ones are overwhelmingly non-WASP. Gay marriage (which would have been unthinkable in the 1960's, btw) may have been halted for the time being, but it's going to happen, because polls show that a majority of young people support it. As for racism, in the social circles I moved in the idea that something like interracial dating would be an issue was ridiculous. Granted, my cohort - college-educated northeasterners - is one of the most socially liberal in the U.S., but such liberal attitudes would have been pretty rare among any but the most radical members of the same segment of society in, say, the 1950's.

Social reactionary types are fighting a rearguard action against the progress of history, to use somebody else's phrase. It's not that they will lose, it's that they already have and just don't know it yet.


It's no longer acceptable to be so blatantly racist, but I think the feeling that we are a morally superior society and therefore have the right to invade other countries for their own good is still running strong.

Among older people, mostly. I honestly don't know a lot of people my age (including people who've served in the military) who hold such attitudes. Look at Pat Tillman, the guy that was held out as a model of patriotism to our generation by the government. Sure, he did an incredibly selfless and patriotic thing, giving up a career as an NFL player to fight in Afghanistan. But that didn't stop him from opposing the Iraq War because he thought it was an imperialistic violation of international law, or questioning the motives or ethics of his government.

In some ways we've slid backwards. I get the impression there was more of an uproar over the Philippine atrocities 100 years ago than there has been with respect to the torture scandal. They tried General Jacob Smith back then, though according to wikipedia it wasn't for ordering war crimes but for conduct not conducive to discipline.

I'm not sure I buy this (McKinley and TR, the primary boosters of the Phillipine undertaking, were both quite popular, and no leading politician of the day opposed it - not true of Bush or opposing politicians today). But even if it is true, a sense of perspective is necessary here.

In the Philippines, "atrocities" meant things like burning villages to the ground, systematically slaughtering non-combatants, including children (in Smith's case), and herding civilians into concentration camps. The torture scandal, while shameful, involves a limited number of people and torture methods that are tame by comparison, and is still such cause for outrage that it is, after all, a scandal.

Certainly, progress doesn't always move as fast as we'd like. But that's not equivalent to backsliding.

Small world, JanieM -- I grew up in Perry, and my mother and sister still live in Madison today. NEOhio represent!


The left wing historically wants their political opponents to be thrown in prison or psychiatric hospitals, to be guillotined, etc.

Is anyone else going to point out to DaveC all the examples just from the past seven years of right-wingers calling not only for liberal politicians, but for journalists, anti-war protestors and Democratic voters to be hanged for treason? No? Ok then, I'll do it.

Phil, I sincerely admire your persistence, while sincerely feeling there's not a great deal of point when its target is DaveC.

Xeynon: In this case, the plaintiff was a woman, and was being discriminated against because she was a woman, but those facts are incidental to the case. This is a civil rights issue, but it's not a feminism one.

Yeah, because it's not as if women are systematically paid less than men for doing the same work.

...oh wait.

Which part do you object to?

Oh come on Gary, I thought you were an educated guy. If you don't view ideology as inherently problematic, if you don't see that one of the major impulses behind modern philosophy from the Enlightenment, to Hegel, Marx/Engels, Nietzsche, Adorno, Habermas, Foucault, Deconstruction and gender studies has been, implicitly or explicitly, the critique of ideology - then you'll have a hard time understanding much of modern thought.

Ideology is also commonly used in political discourse, at least in my world, in the pejorative sense, as in "fiercely ideological", "hardened ideology" or "neocon ideology", denoting a doctrinaire view of the world.

Of course it might not be possible to free oneself entirely from ideology and, as I have mentioned above, critics of ideology frequently run the risk of becoming ideologues themselves, but that only makes a critical awareness of it even more important.

Yeah, because it's not as if women are systematically paid less than men for doing the same work.

...oh wait.

Women receiving less pay than men for the same work is a feminist issue, absolutely. But it's just coincidence that it was this particular type of discrimination at issue in this case. If it had been a disabled person or an old person or a black or what have you been being discriminated against, the exact same case would have come before the Supreme Court. As such, I don't find the argument that their ruling in this case is evidence of an imminent anti-feminist counterrevolution persuasive.

I don't think that this is the case...

As you wish. Good luck.

In this case, the plaintiff was a woman, and was being discriminated against because she was a woman, but those facts are incidental to the case.

Strictly speaking, this is true, but the phrase "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel" comes to mind.

Janie, my wife grew up in Stow. Her people were from Butler PA, and moved to OH during the 30's to work rubber in Akron. Most of her family is in OH now, but she still has some folks back in Butler county and thereabouts.

I'll tell her you said "hi", she'll get a kick out of it.

Thanks -

Russell -- When I was a kid, Stow was pretty much outside my horizon of awareness. But later my sister and my parents lived there for over 20 years, and I visited once or twice a year. Nice area.

Phil -- Madison and Perry, now they're more like neighbors.

Funny world. I'll stop being OT now. ;)

Speaking of Pearlstein.
I recommend his ‘divilog’ with Frum on bloggingheads.
As I remarked to Thullen, I’ve avoided the segments involving Frum, but this one turned out to be really satisfying.
Pearlstein is so wonderfully sharp and a master of his material, in a way most ‘authorities’ can only dream of.
Pearlstein looks to be 16 or so, and speaks in a squeaky voice; an apparently archetypal teen-age nerd.
But he twists Frum, the smooth, suave, confident insider, around his little finger, and squeezes the juice from him.
He knows his stuff so satisfyingly.
To his credit Frum squirms gracefully. But Pearlstein deftly spreads egg on Frum’s face and shoulders and all down his front.
Highly recommended, as they say.

"In the Philippines, "atrocities" meant things like burning villages to the ground, systematically slaughtering non-combatants, including children (in Smith's case), and herding civilians into concentration camps. The torture scandal, while shameful, involves a limited number of people and torture methods that are tame by comparison, and is still such cause for outrage that it is, after all, a scandal."

I suspect the Philippine conflict might have been worse, though I'm not sure. Burning villages to the ground is not that different from what happened to Fallujah. I don't think we systematically slaughter civilians in Iraq (with some exceptions, which aren't systematic), but there's evidence of indiscriminate firepower being used at times and the recent winter soldier hearings provided examples of the "rules of engagement" being very loose in practice. I'm guessing we won't really know much about the extent of US atrocities in Iraq (and I'm not claiming to know that they are massive in scale) for many years to come--details about the Korean War keep trickling out, 50 years after the fact.

Fallujah and much of Baghdad are run something like vast camps--I don't want to use the term "concentration camp" because that's picked up Nazi-like associations that are too extreme, but anyway, the classic methods of keeping populations under control in a guerilla war have been employed. Many thousands of innocent civilians have been tossed into prison. I don't know enough to compare the scale and intensity of torture use 100 years ago vs. now. I do know they would force water down people's throats and then jump on them 100 years ago, and in the current war on terror some people have died under interrogation. Torture should have been a major Presidential campaign issue in 2004, but it wasn't, presumably because Kerry thought it would hurt him on the patriotism (i.e., jingoism) front if he made much of it.

Overall, when I read about the Phillippines and the reaction back here in the US, and when I read about Vietnam and now as Iraq is occurring, the similarities seem greater to me than the differences, but ymmv.

"Look at Pat Tillman, the guy that was held out as a model of patriotism to our generation by the government. Sure, he did an incredibly selfless and patriotic thing, giving up a career as an NFL player to fight in Afghanistan. But that didn't stop him from opposing the Iraq War because he thought it was an imperialistic violation of international law, or questioning the motives or ethics of his government."


I'd love to think Pat Tillman was a typical young American--a Chomsky reader who nonetheless volunteered to go to war in Afghanistan (so he's not a kneejerk Chomsky follower), while also thinking that the Iraq War was criminal from the very start.

If he were typical then I don't think Obama's relationship with Rev Wright will be any problem with the younger set. I'd love to think so, but I doubt one can categorize any generation by pointing to individual examples. My own admittedly limited knowledge of 20-somethings and their politics is that they span the same political range as their elders--some are flag-waving jingoists (sometimes refighting Vietnam themselves) and some much further to the left.

My own admittedly limited knowledge of 20-somethings and their politics is that they span the same political range as their elders--some are flag-waving jingoists (sometimes refighting Vietnam themselves) and some much further to the left.

On some issues (economics or the size of government), this seems to be true. On others, the political divides are almost entirely generational. Gay marriage, for example, is not a particularly salient issue for a lot of young conservatives the way it is for older people. Even young evangelical Christians are pretty liberal on this issue. The same is largely true of issues relating to race and gender. I think patriotism is somewhere in the middle, but I don't think on the whole my generation is nearly as patriotic as those that came before us were.


Speaking as a twentysomething who's more conservative than most of the twentysomethings I know, I can say that I don't find Wright's comments particularly troubling. He sounds like a curmudgeonly and thoroughly out-of-touch old man, and while I think that a lot of the things he says are both wrong on the merits and insensitive, I don't have the same sort of visceral reaction to them that many older white people seem to. I find the idea that the fact that Wright sometimes says nutty things means that Obama himself is a cipher for 60's style militant Black Power ideology positively ludicrous. The same is true of Ayers. There are a lot of legitimate reasons for me to resist voting for Obama (his far-lefter-than-I'd-like economics, the messianic undertones of the campaign, etc.). The fact that his preacher is an old school angry black man or that he lives in the same neighborhood as some long-in-the-tooth ex-radical are not among them.

I’m quite happy to get out of the 60s as well. I’m dropping it now but I figured I should respond to specific questions. I just really think that the GOP is going to make this a big problem for Obama and he needs to be able to respond better than he has so far. YMMV.


john miller: please provide evidence that Ayres is trying to indoctrinate the youth of this country.

Article here.


Gary: What quotes are you specifically referring to, please?

“Guilty as hell, free as a bird — America is a great country”

Cite? I realize you seem to be saying you don't know, but since you have the internet right there, presumably you can either check to your satisfaction, or choose to pass on a rumor whose truth or falsity you have no idea about. I'm hoping you'll give a cite.

"Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. ... They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together."

Did he or they do any actual bomb constructing/setting, etc., or did they just justify it? I don't know at the moment, and would welcome clarification.

Don’t you have the internet right there? ;)

"I don't regret setting bombs”

Sorry about not providing links for everything, but you know how the spaminator would feel about that.

"As recently twenty years ago, a network sitcom centered on a career-oriented single mother (Murphy Brown) was controversial."

This is a seriously untrue.

Having a career-oriented single woman as the protagonist of a an American tv comedy has been a staple since That Girl, Julia, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Julia was also a single mom.)

And there were more single moms on tv than I can count. This book says: "The 1970s had 14% of the tv families run by single mothers" and that 21% were so in the 1980s. See Table 7.5. 14.1% of all tv families in the 1950s were headed by single moms. In the 1960s, it was 13.5% of all American tv families.

Murphy Brown got some controversy because the career-oriented woman decided to have a child out of wedlock. Not because she was a "single mom." That's just wrong.

It may have escaped your attention that single moms can be single moms via divorce and widowhood, rather than simply deciding to have a child.

"Social reactionary types are fighting a rearguard action against the progress of history, to use somebody else's phrase. It's not that they will lose, it's that they already have and just don't know it yet."

You seem to assume the "inevitable progression" of "progress of history" as regards your social ideas inevitably winning out.

This is not a notion terribly well-supported by history, as it happens, at least insofar as one might care about mere periods of hundreds of years at a time. Things change, and not in necessarily linear fashion, nor by any means always in a single or particular direction.

The course of history of ideas of human rights, and their implementation, is certainly not a history of inevitable "progression."

But, yeah, I do believe that you're young.

"Is anyone else going to point out to DaveC"

Is there someone who takes DaveC as a non-troll? Why?

What would be the point in "pointing out" something "to DaveC"? He announces to people what they think; input isn't part of the process, and neither is honesty.

"Oh come on Gary, I thought you were an educated guy. If you don't view ideology as inherently problematic,"

I don't. I view as problematic privileging ideology over observation, and I view wrong-headed ideologies as problematic, and I view a variety of ways ideologies have often been used as problematic, but I don't view the idea of having a set of views as problematic, no.

I do view the knee-jerk assumption that "ideologies" are inherently suspect and bad as problematic, though. It leads to all sorts of wrong-headed conclusions, such as that having no coherent view of the world is inherently virtuous, or that someone with a coherent ideology is "doctrinaire," and is therefore apt to reach wrong conclusions, and so on.

But I've only had three months of college, actually. So maybe organizing one's collection of ideas is indeed bad, and I don't have enough education to realize that.

Gary: What quotes are you specifically referring to, please?

“Guilty as hell, free as a bird — America is a great country”

I'm sorry, but where does this quote come from, and what's the cite? As in, can you give a URL to what document you are referring to, and its context?

"Sorry about not providing links for everything, but you know how the spaminator would feel about that."

Life is hard. If we can't post links, then ObWi might as well be shut down, in my view. Certainly I, at least, would have no interest in hanging out somewhere where we can't support our claims. Please give actual cites if you want to be taken seriously. Either break them into only three per comment, or put up with writing Hilzoy/Kitty to free them, or petition Hilzoy and Publius to institute a system to allow people to post links more easily, or to switch to new software, I suggest.

But if the idea is that we can just say stuff, and links are forbidden, then, hey, bye-bye, and thanks for all the fish. What would be the point of endless unverified fact-free exchanges?

OCSteve; Article here.

Thanks for the link, OCSteve.

So, a right-wing pundit thinks it's bad for high-school kids to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit" and for teachers to "be capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation."

You think social justice and liberation are bad things, OCSteve? American school children ought not to be aware of the "social and moral universe"?

Incidentally, although Stern in a throwaway line claims to prioritize teaching kids to read, another article linked to from Sol Stern's Manhattan Institute webpage is all about how terrible it is that New York City spent how much money on inner-city schools.

john miller: please provide evidence that Ayres is trying to indoctrinate the youth of this country.

Article here.

Ok. Similarly, every single person who teaches, and has ideas about justice, is "trying to indoctrinate the youth of this country."

"Indoctrination" is a nice scare-word, but teaching kids to salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegience, respect democracy, and a zillion other things are just as much "indoctrination." So what?

So we've just indicted every single teacher in America who has a notion about justice, or perhaps about politics, or who even makes any kind of suggestion about America's character as a nation at all?

Or is it just that we're supposed to be indoctrinating according to your personal preferences? Or what?

What'll we do tomorrow night, now that we've indoctrinated American kids, Brain?

Are what you're saying is that people with political views you disagree with shouldn't be allowed to teach? Or what? What am I supposed to be upset by, here?

I'm sure Ayers has plenty of ideas I wildly disagree with, but so what? Are we vetting teachers and college professors for political correctness, now? What's your point? What am I supposed to be Viewing With Alarm?

To try to speed this along, OCSteve, I see that Stern linked in that piece to this piece, which includes this: "A few years after stepping out of the shadows, Ayers reflected on his odyssey in a conversation with journalists Peter Collier and David Horowitz: 'Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country,' he exulted."

But there's no link to said conversation, or indication of when or where it took place, let alone any kind of context, let alone any kind of transcript.

"Exulted," needless to say, is a construction, presumably from Collier and Horowitz.

Horowitz, to be sure, is a flaming moron, and willing to say any looney thing about anyone he considers part of the leftist conspiracy, so I'm not apt to put much faith in anything he says that doesn't have an accompanying audio or video tape.

Do you have more specifics, though? Or are you just swallowing all these assertions as gospel?

The rest of Stern's piece seems to boil down to "Ayers has leftist ideas."

We get endless stuff like this:

[...] But now, instead of planting bombs in bathrooms, he has been planting the seeds of resistance and rebellion in America’s future teachers, who will then pass on the lessons to the students in their classrooms.

Future teachers signing up for Ayers’s course “On Urban Education” can read these exhortations from the course description on the professor’s website:

“Homelessness, crime, racism, oppression—we have the resources and knowledge to fight and overcome these things.”

“We need to look beyond our isolated situations, to define our problems globally. We cannot be child advocates . . . in Chicago or New York and ignore the web that links us with the children of India or Palestine.”

“In a truly just society there would be a greater sharing of the burden, a fairer distribution of material and human resources.”

For another course, titled “Improving Learning Environments,” Ayers proposes that teachers “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.”

Hey, me, too. I'll sign up to agree with all of those quotes.

So?

g. farber: “What would be the point of endless unverified fact-free exchanges?”

The joy of provocative barroom-like conversation without having to pay $6 a drink?

g. farber: “What would be the point of endless unverified fact-free exchanges?”

The joy of provocative barroom-like conversation without having to pay $6 a drink?

It seems fair to say that you and I tend to have different approaches to the internets, Jay.

Gary: Please give actual cites if you want to be taken seriously. Either break them into only three per comment…

Three per comment? I can’t get one through on occasion. And the issue is not so much with the particular comment, but the darned thing then blacklists me for some hours or even as much as a day. Not only is it very picky but it holds a grudge.

In any case, I was careful to provide exact quotes, which makes it easily searchable. If you copy/paste it into google you get 53 results. It’s from an interview he did with David Horowitz in 91. Oops – on preview I see you found it, and dismiss it without the tape.

On the rest… From the same article you found:

In 1997, Ayers and his mentor Maxine Greene persuaded Teachers College Press to launch a series of books on social justice teaching, with Ayers as editor and Greene serving on the editorial board (along with Rashid Khalidi, loyal supporter of the Palestinian cause and the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University). Twelve volumes have appeared so far, including one titled Teaching Science for Social Justice.

Teaching science for social justice? Let Teachers College professor Angela Calabrese Barton, the volume’s principal author, try to explain: “The marriages between capitalism and education and capitalism and science have created a foundation for science education that emphasizes corporate values at the expense of social justice and human dignity.” The alternative? “Science pedagogy framed around social justice concerns can become a medium to transform individuals, schools, communities, the environment, and science itself, in ways that promote equity and social justice. Creating a science education that is transformative implies not only how science is a political activity but also the ways in which students might see and use science and science education in ways transformative of the institutional and interpersonal power structures that play a role in their lives.” If you still can’t appreciate why it’s necessary for your child’s chemistry teacher to teach for social justice, you are probably hopelessly wedded to reason, empiricism, individual merit, and other capitalist and post-colonialist deformities.

The series doesn’t yet have a text on mathematics, but it’s sure to come, since the pedagogy for teaching social justice through math is even more fully developed than for science. One of the leading lights of the genre is Eric Gutstein, a Marxist colleague of Ayers’s at the University of Illinois and also a full-time Chicago public school math teacher. Gutstein’s new book, Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics: Toward a Pedagogy for Social Justice, combines critical pedagogy theory and real live math lessons that Gutstein piloted with his predominantly minority seventh-grade students.

Like Ayers, Gutstein reveres Paolo Freire. He approvingly quotes Freire’s dictum that “there neither is, nor has ever been, an educational practice in zero space-time—neutral in the sense of being committed only to preponderantly abstract, intangible ideas.” Gutstein takes this to mean that since all education is political, leftist math teachers who care about the oppressed have a right, indeed a duty, to use a pedagogy that, in Freire’s words, “does not conceal—in fact, which proclaims—its own political character.”

Accordingly, Gutstein has relentlessly politicized his math classes for years, claiming that this approach has improved his students’ math skills while making them more aware of the injustices built in to capitalist society. One lesson, for example, presents charts showing the U.S. income distribution, aiming to get the students to understand the concept of percentages and fractions, while simultaneously showing them how much wealth is concentrated at the top in an economic system that mainly benefits the superrich. After the class does the mathematical calculations, Gutstein asks: “How does all this make you feel?” He triumphantly reports that 19 of 21 students described wealth distribution in America as “bad,” “unfair,” or “shocking,” and he proudly quotes the comments of a child named Rosa: “Well I see that all the wealth in the United States is mostly the wealth of a couple people not the whole nation.”

Now I don’t know about you, but when I pay my school taxes I expect the money to go towards teaching kids math and science in math and science class – not leftist talking points. I stand by using the term indoctrination for this. But then I guess I’m “hopelessly wedded to reason, empiricism, individual merit, and other capitalist and post-colonialist deformities”.

Are we vetting teachers and college professors for political correctness, now?

Apparently. Again, same article:

In a sworn legal document, Head recounted that when his professor showed the class a videotape purporting to reveal institutional racism against immigrants, he responded by suggesting that most immigrants actually came here because they realized they would be better off, including benefiting from healthier race relations. Professor Kress responded that anyone holding such opinions was clearly “unfit to teach.” Head further infuriated the professor by suggesting that the class be allowed to read black social scientists like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams to provide some intellectual balance on the issues of race and education.

After turning down Kress’s offer to reeducate him on these issues personally, Head received an F for the class, even though a grade below B for a student who has completed all assignments is almost as rare in ed schools as serious intellectual debate. The school wouldn’t let Head enroll in the student teaching class, and so, for the time being, it has blocked him from getting his teaching certificate. After exhausting his appeals to the university, he filed suit earlier this year, charging that the school was applying a political litmus test to become a teacher and had violated his First Amendment rights.

OCSteve: I'm still a bit confused. WHAT exactly, did Wright say, that was so offensive?

I've scrutinized the entire sermon and really can't find anything offensive. There's a few things I disagree with, and a number of things that seem rhetorical exagerattions -- but ones I don't see as offensive, even without stopping to consider what a black man who lived through the 60s is going think about life.

So what part did you find offensive and why?

Regarding links, I have never, ever had a problem putting links in comments. But I do that a great deal less frequently than Gary does.

Which does nothing to reduce Gary's frustration, but I don't think it's everyone that's having this problem.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I pay my school taxes I expect the money to go towards teaching kids math and science in math and science class – not leftist talking points.

Among those "leftist talking points" in the US is the fact that evolution is an accepted scientific theory which cannot become unacceptable without rolling back the biological sciences to the early 19th century.

Among the true conservative positions is that children ought to be taught that evolution is "just a theory", and that there are other, competing theories. You will find other conservative positions here, opposition to which is typed as "leftist talking points".

In fact, given the current state of conservativism, my guess is that a civics class which covers the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in thorough detail, is going to be classed in this Sol's eyes as a set of "leftist talking points" - teaching children to understand that when Bush bloviates about warrantless wiretapping, he is confessing to committing an impeachable offense.

After all, why should kids who go to high school learn what their rights are? Isn't the concept of basic rights just another "leftist talking point"? True conservatives support kidnapping and torture on the government's say so: it's a mere "leftist talking point" that argues for due process.

OSCteve, I have no opinion about whether or not the student in your example was actually a victim of rampant political bias or not. However I do have an opinion about the text yu have presnted; it is clearly written from a highly ideological perspective. note all the sacrastic cant:If you still can’t appreciate why it’s necessary for your child’s chemistry teacher to teach for social justice, you are probably hopelessly wedded to reason, empiricism, individual merit, and other capitalist and post-colonialist deformities. Etc, etc,

And why on earth shouldn't a math taecher use real life examples to teach the reading of charts? You would have a point if the information in the charts was untrue. However it is not a leftwing talking point that the richer are getting richer in the country and the rest are getting poorer. it's a fact. An uncomfortable fact for capitalist ideologs, but a fact nethertheless.

Horowitz is a notoriouus exaggerator and he thesis about leftwing indoctrination of students has been debunked over and over. In an educationalsystem as vast as our you can fid examples of every kind of behavior. Arizona , for example tried to pass a state law tht would protect religious fanatic students from being taught geoplogy that controdicted their interpetation of the Bible in stae university geoplogy classes. Oh no!vast right wing conspiracy to indoctriate students in Arizona state schools!
No just an outbreak of idiocy. Horowitz uses the odd outbreak of leftist idiocy here and thehr to promote his long term goal of pushing rightwing idiocy onto the schools. He isn't a very good source of information .

Wonkie: Horowitz was the source for the guilty and free as a bird quote. The articles are by Sol Stern. Given that he is a strong supporter of vouchers he won’t be any more popular here. ;)

For the record (responding to Jes too) I disapprove equally of ID or anything else Republicans would like to do to meddle with what kids are taught.

Morat20: So what part did you find offensive and why?

I’m not happy with God Damn America, but the big one would be that we created AIDS to wipe out people of color. That’s one of those conspiracy theories that have been around for many years. I think it’s highly irresponsible for a man in his position to promote it.

Horowitz is a demonstrably unreliable witness. He's never given up the "by any means" style of politics he held to in his Maoist-Trotskyite days, he's only changed targets. He's been caught outright manufacturing quotes time and again, and misrepresenting wildly ones that aren't pure fabrication. I'm not sure there's anyone prominent on the left who's so completely willing to ignore the truth in the alleged pursuit of virtue, but if you imagine anyone on the left as such a liar, OCSteve, then Horowitz is his or her mirror on the right.

Seriously, it's to the point where I don't take his assertion that something is so as adding the slightest probability to its being as he reports it to be. If anything, the odds are good that it is not as he reports, in some important regard.

I can dig up some citations to this if you'd like to skim a bit further on it.

I’m not happy with God Damn America, but the big one would be that we created AIDS to wipe out people of color.

I am entirely unable to find any actual direct quote from Wright about AIDS. I have found of course a good many right-wing sites claiming that he said "The government invented the AIDS virus as a means of genocide" but none actually giving a transcript of the sermon with that quote in context.

Have you? Can you link? (Transcript rather than Youtube vid, please.)

Morat20: To clarify, not only is the concept repulsive, but spreading that theory does real harm to blacks:

"It's a huge barrier to HIV prevention in black communities," Wilson said. "There's an issue around conspiracy theory and urban myths. Thus we have an epidemic raging out of control, and African Americans are being disproportionately impacted in every single sense."

"The whole notion of conspiracy theories and misinformation . . . removes personal responsibility," Wilson said. "If there is this boogeyman, people say, 'Why should I use condoms? Why should I use clean needles?' And if I'm an organization, 'Why should I bother with educating my folks?' The syphilis study was real, but it happened 40 years ago, and holding on to it is killing us."

Actually, there is a reason not to use real-life examples. but since it only showed up in today's NYT, no one being quoted here could have known about it:

"In the experiment, the college students learned a simple but unfamiliar mathematical system, essentially a set of rules. Some learned the system through purely abstract symbols, and others learned it through concrete examples like combining liquids in measuring cups and tennis balls in a container.

Then the students were tested on a different situation — what they were told was a children’s game — that used the same math. “We told students you can use the knowledge you just acquired to figure out these rules of the game,” Dr. Kaminski said.

The students who learned the math abstractly did well with figuring out the rules of the game. Those who had learned through examples using measuring cups or tennis balls performed little better than might be expected if they were simply guessing. Students who were presented the abstract symbols after the concrete examples did better than those who learned only through cups or balls, but not as well as those who learned only the abstract symbols.

The problem with the real-world examples, Dr. Kaminski said, was that they obscured the underlying math, and students were not able to transfer their knowledge to new problems.

“They tend to remember the superficial, the two trains passing in the night,” Dr. Kaminski said. “It’s really a problem of our attention getting pulled to superficial information.”

The researchers said they had experimental evidence showing a similar effect with 11-year-old children. The findings run counter to what Dr. Kaminski said was a “pervasive assumption” among math educators that concrete examples help more children better understand math."

It would probably just be stirring to note that there's better circumstantial evidence for AIDS having been created or at least spread through government efforts than is for Iraq's culpability in any way for 9/11.

(I don't believe it's so, but the US has gone to war and done other terrible things on flimsier evidence.)

And again, OCSteve; Where did you read the sermon transcript in which Jeremiah Wright - who, as I understand it, is an advocate of safe sex and involved in his church's program for free condom distribution, no nutbar conspiracy theorist like the kooks the White House currently pays to promote their rightist talking points to schoolchildren - actually said that AIDS was a virus invented by the US government?

To be clear, OCSteve, according to this the US federal government has spent 11 years promoting abstinence-only sex education programs, at a cost of more than $1.3 billion, which have done more than any other government action to spread STDS including HIV, and increase the rate of unwanted underage pregnancies in the US>

Yet many pundits who had no problem supporting the Bush administration and have never said anything critical of abstinence-only sex education programs, appear to be making up crap about what Jeremiah Wright said about HIV/AIDS. (I infer this from the lack of direct quotes and links in any of the websites I've seen referring to this.)

Whatever Wright said, it could not have caused 1% of the damage 11 years of federally-funded abstinence-only sex education has caused. Yet you're attacking Wright, with a venom I do not recall your ever using towards the Bush administration for its promotion of the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

Why's that?

Jes: Where did you read the sermon transcript

I haven’t seen a transcript of the full sermon no. But if he didn’t really say that then you have a scoop because no one else (even Obama) seems to be disputing that he said it.

Yet you're attacking Wright, with a venom I do not recall your ever using towards the Bush administration for its promotion of the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

Venom? Really? I mean I don’t feel particularly venomous right now…

I found the remark to be repulsive. I find the administrations abstinence only approach to sex education programs to be stupid and ineffective and dangerous – so yeah that’s repulsive as well. And in the past I’ve consistently agreed with you on that point.

Oh yes, he said it -- as part of a list of government lies. Given he ALSO promotes safe sex and his church deals with condom distribution, I have a hard time thinking he's makign the problem worse.

And after Tuskegee, I can at least UNDERSTAND how he could believe it.

So that's it, then? You're offended over the fact that he thinks HIV is part of a government conspiracy? A position Obama rather obviously does NOT share?

Seriously, OCSteve, there's not a single politician -- probably not a single PERSON -- in the United States that does not have a friend, associate, or colleague who believes something like that.

Heck, if you have even a single black friend -- 50/50 chance right there he's got his doubts about the government's role in the cocaine trade, or HIV.

Congatulations. Obama is just like us. What do you want from him on this? Making it clear that he doesn't believe it isn't enough?

Should he formally renounce and reject him? Cast him out in the darkness? Maybe in Latin?

What IS the winning formula, because I've got some friends whose views I'm sure you'd find offensive, and if I ever run for office I want to know how to throw them under the bus properly.

hilzoy, I don't think that what you quoted is really analogous to what was mentioned, teaching kids about graphs and percentages using a chart showing income distribution. Presumably that teaching is still being done using abstract symbols - mathematical operators, etc. - and not by, say, measuring out bits of string and comparing them. If you just offered up an identical chart with nothing but number values, the task would be taught the same way.

But if he didn’t really say that then you have a scoop because no one else (even Obama) seems to be disputing that he said it.

Said what? Seriously: I have no doubt that Wright said something about the US government and its role in helping to spread AIDS. So have a hell of a lot of people, and justly so.

I have not yet seen any direct quotes from Wright that assert that the US government devised the AIDS virus to wipe out black Americans. Not, at least, any on websites I would regard as reliable sources.

Morat, what exactly did Wright say and when did he say it and what was the context? You seem to have more information about this than OCSteve does...

Wright's statements about America deserving 9/11 as a kind of blowback

Let's get rid of this lie: They weren't his statements -- he was quoting a Republican.

re Wright, I see that the North Carolina Republican Party's definition of Freedom of Religion is "a churcjh we approve of" and Freedom of Association is "anyone we approve of". Because some Democrats support Obama, they're running ads associating them with the "detestable" Reverend Wright. (I wish the Dems would run ads featuring Coulter and Robertson. Doubt they will, though.)

Morat: You asked me and I responded. Jes thinks I’m venomous, your comment reads like I had just said “I can’t support Obama because of Wright.”

Let’s back up a little. Before the normal off topic stuff, all I said was this:

I have no problem with Obama being elected – I’d really like to see it. But Wright's comments were offense. Ayers is a real problem. Some of his wife’s comments have been offensive to me. Some of his comments have been offensive to me. He’s had a bad couple of weeks and his inexperience is showing. I can say these things with no racism involved. I can point these things out and still hope he gets elected.

It was in response to publius’s contention that “older white people” feel the controversy more due to some bitterly venomous backlash to the civil rights era.

I suppose I should have just said WTF? and left it at that. I tried to make the point that one could be offended by some of these things with no racism involved. I wasn’t offended because I want to go back to the good old days of Jim Crow. I was offended because some of it was offensive to me. I understand that others see it as no big deal. In the end it doesn’t change my opinion of the man and I hope he gets elected.

Sometimes us old farts just get cranky.

Sometimes us old farts just get cranky.

You know, I've never thought of you as an old fart, OCSteve.

Were you including yourself with Jeremiah Wright (born 1941)? Or do you feel that while you're entitled to be "cranky", he isn't?

Jes: You know, I've never thought of you as an old fart

Me neither, although certain muscles and long ago broken bones would beg to differ. Wright is older than me by a couple of decades, and I’m at the far end of what could be called a boomer.

Or do you feel that while you're entitled to be "cranky", he isn't?

Not at all. But I have no influence over hundreds (thousands?) of other people. He can be cranky all he likes. I can take offense when he says dumb stuff all I like.

Shorter me: Thou shall not criticize the OBAMA on anything, lest thee thyself wish to be criticized as a racist b*stard.

Screw that. I like the guy, but I’m going to say what I think.

He’s running on his judgment. That certainly opens the door to criticize his judgment… Or one would think…

You know, I've never thought of you as an old fart, OCSteve.

Were you including yourself with Jeremiah Wright (born 1941)? Or do you feel that while you're entitled to be "cranky", he isn't?

I'm all in favor of tormenting and abusing OCSteve for his many many many personal failings, but this has gone beyond parody. Jes, can you please go torture a small animal or something? Because watching you try to do the online equivalent just got very dull.

But I have no influence over hundreds (thousands?) of other people.

So the problem is that Wright is better at rhetoric than you are?

Shorter me: Thou shall not criticize the OBAMA on anything, lest thee thyself wish to be criticized as a racist b*stard.

Well, so far, you're criticizing Obama because he hasn't managed to repudiate either Ayers or Wright to your satisfaction.

Like Morat, I'm wondering what he has to do. Grovel? Squirm? Beg for approval? What does a black guy who has black friends who have said things that offend white people have to do to make clear to white people that he's not his friends?

Heck, if you have even a single black friend -- 50/50 chance right there he's got his doubts about the government's role in the cocaine trade, or HIV.

Except that it was ultimately proven that in fact there was US involvement in the cocaine trade. How much involvement is unknown and, alas, likely unknowable; but the HIV theories are, sadly, not without real-world precedent.

[Consider also the CIA's involvement in the Laotian heroin trade. Again, precedent aplenty.]

I don't think the HIV theories are true, of course, but that's another matter. And given how the band played on, I find it colorable -- though not necessarily convincing -- that the government's reaction to HIV was muted due to its concentration in "undesirable" communities.

Washington et al win and become a government, so they can't be terrorists. But if they had lost...

Washington's treatment of the enemy and civilians was exemplary to my knowledge. He didnt' target British civilians and bomb them, or fire a broadside into a military ball.

You might want to take that up with the Iroquois. Not that their own wartime conduct would have been in compliance with the Geneva Convention.

Washington respected the Native Americans and the half-king was on his side, wasn't he? Awful that I read His Excellency not that long ago and don't remember.


Are what you're saying is that people with political views you disagree with shouldn't be allowed to teach? Or what? What am I supposed to be upset by, here?

No, but apparently the school of thought engendered by Ayers thinks that way Sol Stern has a longer article (than the one referenced by OCSteve above) here that goes further into Ayer's philosophy of education. Read into it about the case of Steve Head and decide for yourself. I couldn't find much update on Head's case (no pun intended).

And I still have no idea why we look to a person like Ayers on how to teach our children.

And how about his wife, who, I believe, thought the Manson murders were justified. And she teaches lawschool. (crim law, I wonder?)

Check it out: the Port Huron Statement, 1962.

Uh, yeah, but weren't most of those formative SDS people proud communists? I mean, Tom Hayden was a Pol Pot fan. I hear the Soviet constitution read quite well, BTW.

OCSteve, I understand your concern, but that article has no objectivity to it. Look at the examples, the use of descriptive terminology. Hell, the article comes from a site that Giuliani thinks is great.

That tells you all you need to know.

And BTW, teaching science aas having meaning beyond formulasd and how science can be used to better the world, not only through chemistry but through some sense of social justice.

But then some people think there is no reason to teach ethics in a business school.

And I just read the original article you linked to (Since I was reading from the bottom up I found the other link first) same site, same agenda.

Based upon the language used I could say that Stern wants to produce a group od children that don't think for themselves or others, that he wants something similar to the Hitler Youth. It would have as much legitimacy.

By the way, the UIC education program is considered one of the best in the country.

What Stern is objecting to is that there are techcers who don't accept his narrow view of how to teach children.

hilzoy: I just read that NYT article today as well, and it's absolutely fascinating. I'm not entirely sure what it means -- that is, I'm not entirely sure how the rules of an artificial game relate to the more functional methods to be learned (particularly in the realm of algebra) -- but it sure means something. Alas, I'm getting out of the education business so I guess I won't have the chance to find out.

"Alas, I'm getting out of the education business so I guess I won't have the chance to find out."

Are you getting into another business?, he inquired nosily.

It's interesting that for learning rules for second language, it seems that the exact opposite holds, in that people who learn abstract rules are often not able to communicate very well and it is only after learning how those rules are related to the real world that communicative ability begins to flower. The general understanding of Second Language Acquisition is that attempts to simply teach grammatical rules rather than present real world analogues ends up with the students crashing and burning. Possibly the difference is that math rules are, for the most part, exception less and grammatical rules are full of holes.

Are you getting into another business?, he inquired nosily.

Indeed! I have just been offered a position as a software developer which -- after a decent interval -- I shall accept. For a quintupling of my present salary. So I'm ok with that. (:

I think experience shows that in math teaching both the abstract way and the example way should be used because the transfer trouble exists in both directions.
Children have to learn both to apply the abstract rules to real problems and to be able to "extract" the abstract principles from the examples.

If 22 2/3 chicken lay 45 1/2 eggs in 5 1/4 days how many eggs do 15 3/5 chicken lay in 6 1/3 days?
Here the problem is to find the abstract structure, so it can be universally applied.
Children are known to be confused easily, if the chicken and eggs are replaced by old ladies and knitted socks.

What is the beverage can that for a given volume uses up the least amount of material?
Here the problem is to find out which abstract model can be applied for this special problem.

The other direction many have problems with is how purely abstract things like logarithms work and how they are relevant to "real" things (how can one multiply a number 2.34 with itself?).

OCSteve: Let me walk it back a bit, and come at it from a different angle. I really had a somewhat different point than Jes.

Basically put -- EVERY politician (probably every person EVER) will have, at minimum, some form of occasional contact with offensive views.

You probably work for, or have worked with, a virulent racist -- now, or in years past. You've undoubtably got a friend or two, or relative, who makes your eyes roll on occasion but you put up with because other than the fact that he/she's a moron on Subject X, they're not bad people everywhere else. Or heck, maybe they're just a form of family.

The only difference between me (For the record: Two severely racist cousins and at least one out-right homophobe through business dealings) and you, and someone like Obama, is that neither of US are having teams of trained professionals digging through everyone we've ever met, interacted with, and worked with, and playign the game of "Let's make Morat/OCSteve grovel and repudiate these people. Even though we know OCSteve/Morat does not share whatever views makes them noxious to us."

I'm sick of that game, OCSteve. Why aren't you?

What does playing that game change? Do you honestly think Obama is sympathetic to the idea of domestic terrorism, even a minimal-casualty approach? Do you think he was a Weatherman sympathizer at the age of ten?

What does this ritual of denouncing people you barely know, repudiating people simply because they said something nice about you once, or did something bad back when you were a kid, actually change?

That's the nub of it to me. That's the bit I don't get. It's the part of me that was cheering at Obama's exasperated "You want me to reject AND denounce Farakhan? Fine, I denounce and reject him. Are we done with this stupidity yet?" response to Hillary Clinton.

It's a stupid game, OCSteve. It doesn't tell you squat about Obama. It's a pointless bit of ritual slander that, for some reason, has become accepted politics in the last 40 years.

So, I guess what I want to know is -- why do you want Obama to thoroughly reject Ayers or Wright or whoever the bad man of the week is? What will the act of rejecting him convince you of?

Why do you see it as anything put pointless Kabuki theater?

I'm all in favor of tormenting and abusing OCSteve for his many many many personal failings…

Thanks Turb. That got a genuine belly laugh out of me. For real. ;)


Jes: Well, so far, you're criticizing Obama because he hasn't managed to repudiate either Ayers or Wright to your satisfaction.

So far, I’m criticizing Ayers and Wright and saying it does not change my opinion of Obama. I’m saying that if Obama wants to run on his judgment, then he better be prepared to have his judgment questioned. I’m saying Obama better address it better than he has or he is going to get his ass handed to him.


john miller: That tells you all you need to know.

That’s valid of course. But what sites can I link that are going to be judged as impartial around here? Nothing that supports my viewpoint, that’s for sure. If you don’t like the source or the tone, what about what is reported? It can all be independently verified, or not. If I read that Ayers worked with Maxine Greene to “launch a series of books on social justice teaching” that is either true or it is not, no matter where I link it. When I read something like that, I assume it is either true or that the author is making a laughable claim that would be debunked in 30 seconds flat. On the rest concerning Ayers, you all can tell me how bad David Horowitz is or more productively, show me one instance where Ayers ever repudiated his actions.

[You is not “you” personally here John – I respect you immensely. This was just the one more comment on this same angle that I’ve heard a lot of lately. And truth be told, I’m probably going off on you about it because I think you’ll take it OK. Which is really kind of dumb for me to do that, as I like you and value what you have to say.]

Uh, yeah, but weren't most of those formative SDS people proud communists?

I don't know.

To inject a bit of reality here, I think it's worth nothing that "communist" as a label covers everything from the horrors of Stalin's gulags to the cultural criticism of someone like John Berger. It includes the careful, insightful thought of social critics like Marcuse, Adorno, and Habermas. It includes the radical pacifism, non-violence, and religiously inspired social activism of somebody like Dorothy Day.

Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot would happily send you along with a million others to a brutal, anonymous death.

Berger would help you see a painting in a way that you'd never thought of before.

Marcuse, Adorno, and Habermas would help you understand the interconnections between power, culture, human dignity, and freedom.

Dorothy Day would make you dinner and give you a bed to sleep in.

They're not all the same.

"Communist" is not the same as "evil totalitarian dictator". I'm not a communist, because I don't hold with a materialist understanding of history or human nature, but I can hear, understand, and respect the insights that a communist analysis has to offer.

As a good friend of mine says, "Eat the meat and spit out the bones". Words to live by.

Plus, you know, before we congratulate ourselves on the triumph of capitalism (odd that it's never presented as the "triumph of democracy"), let's see if we survive this brand new century.

It's four bags of rice per customer at WalMart these days. Check that out, right here in the good old USA. Maybe we'll all be asking Brick Oven Bill for his squirrel recipes before we're through.

Thanks -

I can probably trump just about anyone in the "eek, relatives" department, much as I'd rather not. I mean, how many people not related to me can possibly have an uncle of whom Wikipedia writes: "Over the years he has expressed at least some level of support for leaders such as Joseph Stalin[1], Mao Zedong[1], Enver Hoxha[1] and Pol Pot[1]."?

One of many reasons I will never run for office.

For the record, whatever I might think of his views (and I leave you to guess where on the spectrum between *shudders* and "you must be mad" those thoughts fall), I would not be happy having to renounce him.

Oh, and Anarch: congrats. ;)

hilzoy, why do you always beat me to it?

Anarch, -ahem- as usual I second hilzoy. Welcome to my world.

Indeed! I have just been offered a position as a software developer which -- after a decent interval -- I shall accept.

Strength is irrelevant.
Prepare to be assimilated.
Resistance is futile.

Welcome to the dark side!!

Thanks -

Maybe we'll all be asking Brick Oven Bill for his squirrel recipes before we're through.

I think it's the Canada Geese that we should be eating. They poop all over the place, and there's that Canada bit, too.

Washington's treatment of the enemy and civilians was exemplary to my knowledge. He didnt' target British civilians and bomb them, or fire a broadside into a military ball.

I'm working from the following definition of terrorism, taken from thie FBI report: Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “...the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85)

There are lots of definitions and one can quibble over terms, but I think that one is a reasonable starting point. So, was Washington a terrorist? I'd argue that he was a major leader in a terrorist movement. That movement launched an insurrection against its lawful government. Insurrections are usually considered to be unlawful. And they do tend to involve force and violence. And a good bit of that violence was directed towards coercing or intimidating loyalists by threatening their persons and property. Do you think loyalists during the war were well treated? What exactly do you imagine were the consequences for loyalists who were found to be providing intelligence to His Majesty's Army?

Sure, Washington was an amazing man. But being a terrorist involves more than bombing military dances. Wars, especially insurgencies, are not pleasant affairs. They are brutal exercises in domination and control of civilian populations by means of violence and threats of violence. The American Revolution was no different in that regard.

Welcome indeed Anarch. Is it just me, or do lawyers and software engineers constitute 90% of the commenters here?

Anarch: For a quintupling of my present salary.

Knowing that I may make 4 times more doing what I do than what a person such as you make teaching our best and brightest, I may just fold my hand and call it a day. There are way too many jokers in play…

Morat20: You probably work for, or have worked with, a virulent racist -- now, or in years past.

I would not say virulent as he kept it on the down low, but yes.

Do you honestly think Obama is sympathetic to the idea of domestic terrorism, even a minimal-casualty approach? Do you think he was a Weatherman sympathizer at the age of ten?

Not at all. I just think that the GOP will clean his clock if he doesn’t get his crap all in one bag.

…why do you want Obama to thoroughly reject Ayers or Wright or whoever the bad man of the week is? What will the act of rejecting him convince you of?

I guess at one time I used to preface all comments like the ones in this thread by saying “as an ex-GOP-warmonger-etc member of the VRWC here is how I think the Republicans are thinking / will think / will do about this. I guess I thought most folks got used to that and I didn’t always have to do that.

I like Obama. I hope he wins. The way he is going the last couple of weeks the GOP is going to hand him his ass. He’s raising money McCain can only dream of. He is inspiring. I want to see him win. And he is going to get his ass kicked if he doesn’t get it together real quick.

Is it just me, or do lawyers and software engineers constitute 90% of the commenters here?

I think it's lawyers, software engineers, and academics, who also are now or have at some point been in a band.

And Gary!

Thanks -

High School marching band member, might not be an exact match.

I was going to note earlier today that there seem to be a lot of software folks around here. I'm not a software engineer...more like a technically oriented jack of all trades who started programming so long ago that not only did you not need a degree, but one of my early employers wondered if my work was going to involve doing things to the computer with a screwdriver. (No. I leave the screwdriving to other people.)

I don't write code any more, I plan and analyze and write specs for other programmers to code. I also do a lot of testing and writing and editing, but that topic belongs on the other thread where Jes and others were writing earlier today about wages, job descriptions, and gender.

I was a flute player in my high school marching band for a year, accompanied the choir on the piano for the rest of high school (and the newly singing masses at Masses after Vatican II), and played the fiddle in a contra dance band for a few years in my 40's.

I also occasionally teach linguistics as a sabbatical replacement.

Software, music, academics, even a dilettante's interest in the law...gee, I may fit in better here than I do in the real world.

;)

JanieM: …gee, I may fit in better here than I do in the real world.

I suspect that many of us do. ;)

As to fitting in – well, I’m here… They seem to take all kinds here, which is about 1000% more than I can say for most other places on the web. ;)

"Washington respected the Native Americans and the half-king was on his side, wasn't he? Awful that I read His Excellency not that long ago and don't remember."

The issue was whether Washington used terrorist tactics during the Revolution. The answer is yes, though I suppose it depends on what you consider to be terrorism. Scroll on down the link and you can read Washington's orders regarding how to handle them at that point.

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