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November 18, 2020

Comments

Lots to think about here, but a couple of quick points.

First:

When I discuss this, I'm not accusing anyone of hating on anyone else.

I forget the specific context of my comment that you reference here, but suffice it to say that I'm not receiving anything anybody is saying to mean I'm hating anyone.

So please no worries there.

My general thought about racism is more or less similar to yours. Everybody or very nearly everybody partakes of it, the best single thing any of us can do about it is to try to cultivate a sense of self-awareness about it, and a lack of defensiveness if it is brought to our attention. Even if what is brought to our attention reflects a mistaken understanding of what our intent was.

The racism that dresses up in a Klan hood is easy to identify and not that hard to deal with, because it is so easy to identify. And the folks walking around in Klan hoods are generally happy to own it.

It's the other kinds that are more challenging to deal with. The racism that we partake of without being all that aware of, and the racism that is perceived when it is not even intended and may not even exist.

The issue can get more complex when the "race" involved isn't actually considered a race by those from further away.

I am put in mind of something I encountered in college (late 1960s). The Japanese American kids, before they left home, were routinely told something like "You're going to be meeting lots of different people, and that's OK. You can follow your heart. Just don't bring home any Chinese; they're inferior."

For symmetry, the Chinese American kids were told exactly the same thing, just with the roles reversed. Coming home with a white** prospective spouse was fine. Just not mixing Chinese and Japanese ancestries.

** There were few enough black kids in college that I suspect they simply weren't on the parents' radar screen. And heaven knows what they'd have said about Koreans, if the parents had thought of them.

Very thoughtful post. A couple of things:

None of this is to suggest that racism is somehow worse than classism or sexism (or vice versa), but for me, it does suggest to me that racism is what society has to deal with first, with the caveat that mileage will definitely vary.

The racism that dresses up in a Klan hood is easy to identify and not that hard to deal with, because it is so easy to identify.

I don't know what is meant by "deal with". I don't think that racism is something we can "deal with", it's done, and then we move on to sexism or classism. To me, it's really hard to consider "dealing with" Klansmen. The fact that domestic terrorists are predominantly white supremacists is something we're "dealing with", and not very well.

If we're all racists (in the sense that we all are predisposed to stereotype people, or enjoy our privilege, etc.), we should try to fight it. But we're not going to overcome it completely - it's something that we all have to fight. When we're lucky enough to have friendships that help us to think past it, that's hugely important, and probably breaks barriers.

So reading more history (that includes, and fills in the history of racism), more fiction by African-American authors, etc. is something I'm working on steadily. But if it's a focus, the exercise should be a prototype for how we consider our predispositions towards other humans (and our environment) in general. It's about learning. It's about respect. It's about I and Thou.

“ Reed's a racist insofar as he doesn't think race matters. ”

Reed is black, so this would be the self-hating type. But I don’t think he ever said or thinks this.

Here is a piece from last year.

https://newrepublic.com/article/154996/myth-class-reductionism

I also read the Harper’s piece. I don’t think it is much of a criticism to say that Reed believes he is right and that the people he criticizes are wrong.

Also, there is this notion that Obama was kept from doing things by Republicans. Of course he was, but that doesn’t mean that he was a closet leftist. He was kept from doing even “ moderate” things by McConnell to the extent that McConnell could stop him. But he was no leftist on either foreign or domestic policy and that is what Reed is criticizing him about. It is an ideological critique, but all you can see, LJ, are personalities and race.

In that second Reed piece in Donald's 11:57, I think that Reed is guilty of a bit of misrepresentation when he says that class reductionism is a myth. He acts as if the critics of race and gender blind marxism are being overly reductionist, but his own formulation of their critiques is guilty of the same sort of reductionism.

Relieving the economic burden on the lower classes will absolutely help disadvantaged groups across the board, but it will not alleviate the effects of racism, sexism, ableism, etc. that lead to many of those maldistributions.

The central problem is not one of deciding which of these different forms of oppression should be the focus of our action. The central problem is one of maintaining solidarity among the oppressed while supporting changes that remove one type of privilege from which an individual might benefit before being able to address the type of oppression that makes that individual a net loser in the overall system.

There is no one size fits all justice for the many interlocking systems of oppression we have created for ourselves. We have to iron them all out a bit at a time and be willing to suffer some temporary losses in status for the sake of solidarity.

Without solidarity we are all stuck in the Prisoner's Dilemma.

There is no one size fits all justice for the many interlocking systems of oppression we have created for ourselves. We have to iron them all out a bit at a time and be willing to suffer some temporary losses in status for the sake of solidarity.

Justice is by its nature equal or it's not justice. Its remedies are varied to address different levels and varieties of harm.

There's one way to effectively deal with racism (and the other isms). But it's slow.

First, you conclude that it's wrong. Some people will never get that far, of course. But you can expand the pool of those who do until you marginalize them.

Second, you change how you talk. That's actually pretty easy, once you decide to try.

Third, you change how you act. That can be harder, but is still generally doable. Just achieving those two makes a world of difference for those on the receiving end.

Fourth, you can try to change how you feel. For some, that can happen. For example, beloved child (grandchild) turns up with a spouse of another race/class/whatever. Who turns out to be a delight. But for other people, it can be impossible. Still, if they've managed the first three, that's enough.

Finally, and in parallel, you change how you teach the next generation. Or, if this from South Pacific is correct, just don't teach them. I had an aunt who had seriously racist views on blacks. She decided it was wrong, but could never get over them herself. However she very deliberately and carefully avoided raising her children with those views. No prejudice in sight among those kids or their children. (Feel free to argue there's still some there. Think of it like in the HIV treatment commercials: if it's no longer detectable, it won't hurt others.) So it can be done.

This is what we have seen, at warp speed, with homosexuality. Folks our age are, in many cases, unable to entirely get past the views we were raised with. But a couple generations on, most kids see it as a complete non-issue. And are a bit puzzled (not to mention disdainful) at adults who get worked up about it.

You'll never get to 100%. Just as we still have folks who are convinced the South was right, and should have won the Civil War. But you can reduce them to irrelevance . . . and try to keep them there.

if this from South Pacific

i made this one: https://youtu.be/mtYNjMZSVdc

Like I say, it's not gonna be fast. Sigh

Recasting what I say as 'so you're telling ME I'm racist' is wrong. I'm saying that WE are all racist.

I don't think it's wrong. It certainly follows logically.

And I don't think that telling people they are racists is a particularly good way to get them to listen to you or look at things differently. Like it or not, it's a loaded word. You are telling them they are no better than Bull Connor or Lester Maddox, so you're going to get into arguments about definitions, rather than discussions of problems.

And I don't think that telling people they are racists is a particularly good way to get them to listen to you or look at things differently.

I think I agree with this. There are plenty of people in our country currently who embrace hatred, to a greater or lesser degree. There are others who are trying to learn, self-examine, make things better. The latter don't necessarily deserve a trophy, but maybe deserve to avoid the stigma of the word "racist". Privileged, in most cases, still applies to them [me], and we hope that's understood.

I apologise if this (by an NYT contributor called Wajahat Ali who has been reaching out to Trump voters since 2016) is not completely germane to a conversation which I have not been able to follow closely, with links etc. But it seemed to me to be worth a look, and certainly deals with issues we have discussed in this connection:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/opinion/trump-supporters.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Opinion

We cannot help people who refuse to help themselves. Mr. Trump is an extension of their id, their culture, their values, their greed. He is their defender and savior. He is their blunt instrument. He is their destructive drug of choice.

Don’t waste your time reaching out to Trump voters as I did. Instead, invest your time organizing your community, registering new voters and supporting candidates who reflect progressive values that uplift everyone, not just those who wear MAGA hats, in local and state elections. Work also to protect Americans against lies and conspiracy theories churned out by the right-wing media and political ecosystem. One step would be to continue pressuring social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to deplatform hatemongers, such as Steve Bannon, and censor disinformation. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Or, you can just watch “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix while downing your favorite pint of ice cream and call it a day.

Just as in 2016, I don’t need Trump supporters to be humiliated to feel great again. I want them to have health insurance, decent-paying jobs and security for their family. I do not want them to suffer, but I also refuse to spend any more time trying to understand and help the architects of my oppression.

you're going to get into arguments about definitions, rather than discussions of problems.

I basically agree with LJ that most folks are, in one way or other and to some degree or other, racist.

And, I agree with Bernie's point here.

Our history has made the word too loaded to be a useful lever for thinking about the issue in a reasonable way. At least in this country, probably in other places as well.

I notice that, at least in some situations, I respond to people in different ways, at least in part because of their apparent ethnic or racial heritage.

Personally, I'd call that racism, and I think it's pretty common. But I'm also fine with leaving the word out of the discussion for anything other than truly hostile and toxic cases.

If the word gets in the way, choose different words.

He is their defender and savior. He is their blunt instrument.

I find this basically and regrettably true.

With extremely rare exceptions - perhaps one person - I simply do not engage with Trump supporters on the topic of Trump.

Period.

As far as I can tell, there is no upside. There is no productive or useful conversation to have.

There are other things to talk about, I talk with them about those other things.

What do you call structural racism in order to avoid the term but still preserve the force inherent in the level of harm? I have a UC issued black belt in words and I have a hard time finding words to convey the seriousness of our racism problems that are not either unclear or that undercut the seriousness and trivialize the issue.

Which is especially frustrating when the audience we are trying to spare in this are the ones with the "Fuck Your Feelings" branded merch.

Thanks for the comments, I'll address everything as a single comment, apologies if that seems unfair. Russell agrees with my basic premise, and that's why I pointed out what seemed to be to be the unequal responses to disaffected Trump supporters vs protests that have defund the police slogans. AOC's response to the question 'what does an America with a defunded police look like' is here
https://news.yahoo.com/aoc-asked-defunding-police-her-130800430.html

he good news is that it actually doesn't take a ton of imagination.

It looks like a suburb. Affluent white communities already live in a world where the choose to fund youth, health, housing etc more than they fund police. These communities have lower crime rates not because they have more police, but bc they have more resources to support healthy society in a way that reduces crime.

When a teenager or preteen does something harmful in a suburb (I say teen bc this is often where lifelong carceral cycles begin for Black and Brown communities), White communities bend over backwards to find alternatives to incarceration for their loved ones to "protect their future," like community service or rehab or restorative measures. Why don't we treat Black and Brown people the same way? Why doesn't the criminal system care about Black teens' futures the way they care for White teens' futures? Why doesn't the news use Black people's graduation or family photos in stories the way they do when they cover White people (eg Brock Turner) who commit harmful crimes? Affluent White suburbs also design their own lives so that they walk through the world without having much interruption or interaction with police at all aside from community events and speeding tickets (and many of these communities try to reduce those, too!)

Just starting THERE would be a dramatically and radically different world than what we are experiencing now.

And it doesn't seem like radical marxist pie in the sky to me.

wj points out racial animosity between Japanese and Koreans. I didn't go there because, when racism happens to me here, I may feel it but I don't _know_ it. My Japanese is good enough to detect shifts in tone and nuance aimed towards me, but I'm not confident enough to be able to bear clear witness. And that's for me. Figuring out how it works when others are the target is a lot more difficult.

I do know that it is not a one way street. When I was in Korea, I visited Seodaemun prison
https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=268143

In the gift shop, there was a little diorama for sale that, when you assembled it, you got the scene of Ahn Jung-geun assassinating Ito Hirobumi, who was the first Japanese prime minister and was on the 1000 yen bill from 1963 to 1984 in Harbin (The Chinese, ever helpful, have opened a museum to Ahn Jung-geun there)

This seems like a whole nother level of animosity. Lost Cause people don't make and sell in gift shops dioramas of John Wilkes Booth jumping from Lincoln's box. Yet Koreans and Japanese are friends, lovers, husbands and wives.

It's also made complex by the fact that you have two groups of Koreans in Japan, ones who are supporting the South and another group that supports the North who are all Zainichi Koreans, who are those who elected to stay in Japan after the war, and who have been granted permanent residency but have chosen not to take Japanese citizenship.
http://yris.yira.org/comments/2873

And this isn't two countries with a long history of postwar exchange. University students were only allowed to travel outside Korea from 1980, and people older than 40 weren't given the privilege until 1984. Japanese could travel but that didn't happen on a large scale until after 1964 and the Olympics. Contrast that with the length of time for Irish, Italians, or other groups that were discriminated against in the US. In fact, the notion that countries outside the West should be expected to travel the same development in what is really a historical instance is another example of racism. I'm not saying the west hates Asians (you loved the walkman! And K-pop is the bomb!) I'm just saying that there's a blind spot.

I should also note that I come from a long line of pissed off fathers. My grandfather on my father's side was none too happy that a son of his was marrying a white woman. (Strangely enough, when the daughters married white men, that was complaint) And my father-in-law, when coming to meet me at the train station with my future wife, asked her 'kono mono da' (That thing?) What I'm trying to say is that not letting your kids marry someone is not the epitome of racism, it's more like the bitter end.

About the focus on 'deal with'. I don't get the nuance sapient is adding, that 'dealing with' automatically assumes an end state where you don't have to anymore. People say they deal with addictions, with problems, with a whole wealth of things that have no fixed end point. In fact, 'deal with' is probably from the American English fascination with gambling, and relates to card games. When you stop dealing, the game is over.

The question about not calling people racists is a counter-argument, but it seems to have worked for religion, with people admitting that they are sinners or that they are not enlightened. Given the resurgence of racism that gives you things like arguing that all the votes in Detroit need to be tossed out,
https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/wayne-county-republican-canvassers-rescind-vote-result-in-circuit-court-race-reverses-warm-thursday-coming
it seems we need a little more calling out, not less.

Finally, since the comment is long enough to invoke Godwin, about 'seeing' ideologies versus my own blindness, while it's good to know that Donald sees things that I don't, he can spell McT, I'm not really sure what 'seeing' means in relation to ideology. Sarcastically, I could ask that if we could get a sketch artist to draw a picture, then maybe we could nail the perp.

But seriously, ideologies are built on foundations of what we actually see and experience. The ideology of slavery or Nazi anti-semitism wasn't simply erected on thoughts. As Richard Rubenstein notes in The Cunning of History, a key foundation of the Holocaust was making the Jews appear to be less than human. What ideology is at the heart of the IP conflict? To me, it seems to be a whole raft of them, but at the base, there is a racist foundation concerning Palestinians. If one could 'deal with' that, the ideologies that are propped up on that would have a lot harder time staying up. That's my take.

ps this was in the spam trap, so if you post something and it doesn't get up, drop a line. I'll try to keep an eye on it, but a quick line to the kitty would be helpful.

Which is especially frustrating when the audience we are trying to spare in this are the ones with the "Fuck Your Feelings" branded merch.

I have no problem with calling that crowd racist, and I no longer have an interest in sparing them (although I believe in doing what is least likely to cause them to go shoot somebody). I also have no problem acknowledging that I am a "racist" in the sense that I have not understood or acknowledged the history and the magnitude of suffering of people in the African-American community, and that I need to continue to work on it. So "racism" is a fine word for what's been happening for the past many centuries.

I won't call my friends, the ones who care about this issue and are making an effort, racist. They can decide that for themselves, and most of them are trying to do just that.

There's one way to effectively deal with racism (and the other isms). But it's slow.

I think I see a problem there.

I have a hard time finding words to convey the seriousness of our racism problems that are not either unclear or that undercut the seriousness and trivialize the issue.

Me, too. It's not a problem of "finding the right words" it's a problem of building an effective coalition that brings about the public policies we desire.

Mike the Mad Biologist repeats all the time that upwards of 20% of white Dem voters are, in fact, racist to some significant degree or another....so the problem is to find out what in god's name gets them to pull the Dem lever.

That, I do not know. But I don't believe it comes down to using the right words.

There's one way to effectively deal with racism (and the other isms). But it's slow.

I think I see a problem there.

No argument that it's a problem that it's slow. But the thing is, I don't see anything faster that has any significant chance of actually working. If you have a concrete suggestion for something that has a realistic chance of actually happening, by all means share.

Mike the Mad Biologist repeats all the time that upwards of 20% of white Dem voters are, in fact, racist to some significant degree or another....so the problem is to find out what in god's name gets them to pull the Dem lever.

Forgive me if there's a link to that earlier - don't always read everything, but it would be helpful to know what that means. This is another example of "upwards of 20% of white Dem voters are, in fact, racist to some significant degree or another" versus "we are all racists" being a problem. See what I'm saying?

But the thing is, I don't see anything faster that has any significant chance of actually working. If you have a concrete suggestion for something that has a realistic chance of actually happening, by all means share.

Fortunate for us all that the communities we have consistently oppressed have been longsuffering and patient.

Too bad we don't have that on our side where the environment is concerned.

The curve of history may bend towards justice, but if ecological collapse is running ahead of justice's schedule...

We can't keep waiting to be good until we are forced by circumstances to be good.

We can't keep waiting to be good until we are forced by circumstances to be good.

This doesn't sound like a plan.

Let's look at what's happened in presidential elections:

Al Gore ran in 2000, and the "left" derided him as a stuffed suit who sighed too much. (Okay, maybe that was a right-wing talking point but the Naderites bought it.)

2004 was a chance, but Kerry? R's and D's? Same same.

2008 and 2012, yay, but that's because we're not talking here about Congressional elections, and R sabotage.

2016? haha

So, in 2020, left/liberals get it, but we've also mobilized an insane number of monsters, more than we knew existed.

It seems weird now to be talking about fixing anything when a civil war with the real live fascists is, in fact, happening. My question is who's going to mobilize and lead for our side? Because we're way behind. I am pretty convinced that most of the people on the non-fascist side would be willing to abandon a racist society. But maybe there aren't actually enough of us.

2004 was a chance, but Kerry? R's and D's? Same same.

Oh, to clarify, this was a talking point among the left. The right? BandAids.

We can't keep waiting to be good until we are forced by circumstances to be good.

Just to be clear, I am definitely NOT advocating just waiting. Especially as I'm talking about something that's slow. All the more reason to get cracking on it.

All I'm saying is that those pining for an instantaneous miracle cure for racism are, IMHO, doomed to disappointment.

Just to be clear, I am definitely NOT advocating just waiting.

Again, good thing, because we've embarked on a civil war. How violent it will get is anyone's guess. I hope we win this cold war, but not sure that we will.

This doesn't sound like a plan.

Correct. It's not a plan. It's a person trying to come to terms with his loss of faith in the efficacy of our collective decision making systems.

We have no shortage of plans, or of approaches to trying to sell those plans to an unruly polity. But having a plan that is inadequate to the circumstances is cold comfort in a warming world.

We can't aim at pragmatic solutions. I'm not patting anyone on the back for crafting an implementable plan that creates consensus for an inadequate solution. We have to aim at transformation.

We have no shortage of plans

But still we have to pick one, and leave our existential angst behind. We can't win without a plan, without [as you mentioned] solidarity, and without discipline.

So let's find it. Since you are aware of a lot of plans, please put some out there for us to decide which one to go with. Because it's time to do this.

We have to aim at transformation.

As long as the plan aiming at transformation is a secret handshake, it's not going anywhere.

just in case, the spam trap seems to be going, so if you get caught, let me know.

Also, I'm on a business trip this weekend, so not sure about how everything will go, so please play nice.

some history for both those who push for "instantaneous change" (ah, the smell of fresh straw!) and more moderate types (in the thrall of corporate interests!-straw right back atcha'!).

Solidarity in tension is OK with me.

Forgive me if there's a link to that earlier - don't always read everything, but it would be helpful to know what that means.

No problem.

Here you go.

Thanks, bobbyp. Well worth reading.

More food for thought.

More food for thought.

Thanks for this bobbyp.

I was not aware of Fetterman before watching this. It's impossible for me to overstate how freaking right on I think this guy is. Straight up, no BS, solid.

I hope he gets a bigger platform going forward.

yeah. he's a treat.

his attitude reminds me of a lot of people i know from PA and NY. no BS indeed.

Just revisiting byomtov's restatement of the problem with "racist;" one of the defining difficulties of Web Era politics in my mind is the way that it essentially turns every forum into a public forum and allows populists and propagandists to take a statement made in a particular context to a particular group of people and pull it out of context.

Yes, it's always been done, but it was never done so easily or spread so easily, and it was never subject to so much easy manipulation and alteration.

So when someone says that a particular policy is grounded in racism and that many of the people supporting that policy are doing so for racist reasons, it's easy for someone to take that statement and misrepresent it so that it seems like a very different sort of attack.

An old friend of mine I grew up with (who is a bit of a racist and a sexist) recently got worked up over AOC saying that people need to keep track of those who were supporting Trump's bid to invalidate votes and make lists of what they said so that those people could not walk it back later. But the way that it was framed was as if that list were an Enemies List and AOC was being Stalinist.

I think what Fetterman is saying, in essence, is that we should not run from words like "racist" but should stand tall and insist on talking about the whole issue and resist the flattening and emptying out of the issues. Saying that a ban on fracking would make a lot of people's lives difficult is not a pro-or anti- fracking position. It's an acknowledgement that the problem is fraught so that people don't feel like they are being ignored even if we say that we want to move away from fracking.

what I take away from Fetterman is this:

* pretty much all of this stuff is complicated
* the focus should be on making people's lives better
* oh yeah, weed. :)

speak plainly about people's real lives. it's worth a try.

I'm getting ready for a business trip, the first time I have travelled on any public transport for longer than 15 mins since I flew in from Korea at the end of Feb. So a rather strange mix of feelings. Anyway, a link related to this

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2020/nov/20/megan-rapinoe-taking-knee-white-people-were-mad-book-extract-usa-womens-football

take care

So when someone says that a particular policy is grounded in racism and that many of the people supporting that policy are doing so for racist reasons, it's easy for someone to take that statement and misrepresent it so that it seems like a very different sort of attack.

Yes. So it seems wiser to me to say, "This policy has racially discriminatory effects. It should be changed/abandoned/whatever."

It is also useful to point out how past, undeniably racist, policies have consequences today. This is not hard. Think of housing policies, employment discrimination, underfunded and segregated schools...

This sort of thing, ISTM, is more persuasive and productive than telling people they, or the country, are racist.

BTW, Fetterman impressed me, too.

Seems relevant here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/20/opinion/immigrants-vote-election-politics.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Some background on one of the races mentioned in the NYT article Donald linked to. The Gil Cisneros/Young Kim contest that was mentioned there seems like a poor exemplar for a rightward drift amongst minority populations or a plea for not treating populations as enclaves. That district sits on a corner connecting Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernadino counties. The cities in the area all have enclave communities and areas where the business signs are predominantly in languages other than English.

The area always leaned Republican. Cisneros was a bit of a surprise in an off-year election. Kim retook the district largely by having more overlap in her enclave with other enclaves than did Cisneros, and the whites in the district tend to lean Republican as well.

I'm not saying that the article's premise is flawed, but I am saying that the NYT and their writers don't seem to understand the local dynamics. They look like they fit the curve, but they don't fit for the inferred reasons.

The split to think about there is the district/statewide split. District voting concerns can be very targeted and identity driven. Candidates for statewide races have to try for broader appeal while not antagonizing a plurality of enclaves. They should look at district level voting differences for statewide elections, not district elections.

I’m just waiting for big sur to finish updating and I’m out the door, but I just want to make a short comment. I don’t disagree with Bernie’s noticed that you can’t call people racist, but if you look at the comment thread that provoke this post, I didn’t say anything about people being racist, I simply noticed that there was an asymmetry in argumentation. I know it’s an easy thing to hide behind what you say and make a claim that I wasn’t pointing to that, but the sensitivity that that observation met with seems to be part of the problem.

Everyone please stay safe and stay well

“ I simply noticed that there was an asymmetry in argumentation”

I think this is wrong. The word “ asymmetry” is vague anyway. But one “ asymmetry is that a certain type of “ anti racist” thought gives affluent people a license to feel morally superior to much less affluent people. It’s not helpful. I also think certain forms of anti racism are themselves racist in that they reduce people to racial or ethnic categories. We argued about this last summer— labeling certain ways of thinking as “ white” as a Smithsonian exhibit apparently did was both racist and insulting to everyone of all races and ethnicities. And one reason many of us on the left were unpleasantly surprised by the election was the fact that there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as an Hispanic or Latino or LatinX vote. There is instead a very large number of people with little in common other than that they speak Spanish ( or their ancestors did) and many of them don’t see issues the way lefties thought they were supposed to. Also, as people sometimes say, politics is local.

And one reason many of us on the left were unpleasantly surprised by the election was the fact that there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as an Hispanic or Latino or LatinX vote.

Actually, the main reason there is a "Black vote" is that Republican politicians have been so diligent in making it happen. The liberal/moderate/conservative distribution among blacks isn't that different from that among whites. (And, in my observation, Hispanics actually run more conservative overall.) But if you persist in demonizing people, it's going to be harder for them to bring themselves to vote for you. Regardless of your stand on the (non-racial) issues that they care about.

And consider, just for a moment, how elections would routinely turn out if Democratic/Republican vote distributions were the same across all racial and ethnic groups. And that's before you consider how the distribution might shift if Republicans moved from reactionary to merely conservative.

And consider, just for a moment, how elections would routinely turn out if Democratic/Republican vote distributions were the same across all racial and ethnic groups.

Well, unless you consider white voters the norm, it looks as if Biden would have won by a much larger margin. Maybe 87-13 if we take Black voters as the norm.

Except that the point was that black voters aren't the norm. Their votes are skewed because they've been driven away.

You only get white voters skewed the way black voters are now if you have the GOP start demonizing them the same way. Which seems like a super low probability scenario.

It seems to me that, as always, we have a lot of eliding race, ethnicity, and culture going on.

It seems to me, having lived and taught in an extremely diverse place for many years now, that race, and ethnicity, and national origin are by no means monolithic, but that they are powerful shapers of identity and culture that complicate any effort to aim at broad appeals to values or collective myths.

Bring up a topic in a classroom full of students from diverse backgrounds and you will find that the range of opinions are pretty consistent, but that the affinities and allegiances that form around those shift with every change of topic.

But one thing that also becomes clear is that, for some topics in which race plays a strong role - especially those where people are marked and profiled and othered by race - the people who are marked by those prejudices react more strongly and bond more tightly than on the other subjects.

And none of these things are apparent if you have not lived in that environment for a while.

Trying to map that out and model it with any degree of certainty would make for a fascinating database and SQL query puzzle.

In other words, we need to think differently about the sorts of collective affinities and identities that we choose for ourselves and those that are chosen for us by others, and we need to think about which one is in play in different circumstances.

Except that the point was that black voters aren't the norm.

And a good thing, too. Trump carried the white vote by 5%. The great unwashed "un-normies" carried him to victory.

Maybe a "thank you" is in order.

Except that the point was that black voters aren't the norm. Their votes are skewed because they've been driven away.

Of course. But have Asian voters (61-39) been driven away? Mostly , if you want to talk about a group being skewed by GOP policies and politics, I think you have to consider white voters as well. Would a Republican Party more attractive to Blacks be less attractive to whites?

What I took you to be saying is that if the GOP changed that way it would have huge majorities, like the 58-41 edge those exit polls show for whites.

I'm dubious.

the GOP's policies have driven many white voters away - white voters who can't stand the racism (plus the anti-science, flag-waving, idiot-worshipping clusterfuck of nonsense) that the modern GOP proudly and loudly represents.

Would a Republican Party more attractive to Blacks be less attractive to whites?

Well, to the extent that the GOP today has become the party of racism (and reaction), probably. The racists would drift back to their natural home in the American Independent Party. It would take becoming less reactionary, and more straight conservative, to avoid a net loss of white voters.

The process of thinking this thru is a long one and requires, first of all, the willingness to reconsider positions. Arthur Ashe, a closeted black tennis professional, could not understand why women would expect more equitable pay on the pro tennis tour. (he later realized his error).

Insofar as asymmetry being vague, that's because we don't agree on what should be counted as evidence. This is not a unique problem. When corpus linguistics began, there were and continue to be a lot of arguments over what constitutes evidence. But that misses the point. An asymmetry points to a place where one should start thinking about why things are. Or at least it should.

There is ample evidence that affluent people look down on the less-affluent. I don't think anyone denies that. It's the gas that makes the engine of capitalism run. This was a recent example
https://deadline.com/2020/11/euphoria-lukas-gage-hollywood-support-after-director-disses-apartment-1234620061/

The thing is, if called on it, ideally, people will have the same reaction as the director called out did. Unfortunately, for racism, you often get a lot of post hoc reasoning for why it happens. Black while driving stops are necessary to keep crime down, they can't stop every beemer that comes down the road. Aggressive police tactics are necessary because there is a culture of crime. If there was an immediate dismissal of Defund the Police, I'm just suggesting that people recalibrate.

Simon Balto at LGM has this
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/11/policing-is-unaccountable-violence

and this
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/11/the-history-of-policing-is-an-argument-against-reform

There is a broad misconception among most of the American public, including among police themselves, that the reason police departments exist is to promote general well-being and public safety. If that were true, then reforming police would mean simply bringing them into better alignment with their fundamental purpose.

The inconvenient truth of police history in the United States, however, is that police departments were not designed to keep a generic public safe. Rather, they were meant to serve the needs of capital and to uphold racial and ethnic hierarchies. To put it differently, police were designed with power and control in mind, not generalized public safety.

Balto isn't one of the usual fire breathers there, so one may want to at least pause before issuing dismissals.

When Balto says

There is a broad misconception among most of the American public, including among police themselves, that the reason police departments exist is to promote general well-being and public safety. [emphasis added]
he pretty much explodes his own argument. If the police themselves think their mission is to promote general well-being and public safety, then reform is exactly the path forward.

If they took Balto's view of what police departments are intended for, then he might be right that reform, at least reform which didn't include 100% staff change, wouldn't work. But, as he admits, most members of police forces already have the outlook he favors. So the path to get there is reforms which make it easier for them to do that. And which removes the minority who have a different agenda.

wj - his statement does not in any way explode his argument.

Most college level teachers, including teachers at for-profit schools, think that the reason schools exist is to teach students. This is in no way contradictory to the idea that the regents at most big universities prioritize institutional budgets and bond ratings over educational quality and shape university policy accordingly, often to the detriment of the students.

Arthur Ashe, a closeted black tennis professional

Seriously? Do you have a link?

But nous, that doesn't mean you improve teaching by abolishing colleges and starting over. It means you reform them. Different processes to select regents, different financing structures, etc.

Lots of people argue that we should be trying to reorganize post-secondary education to focus more on vocational training and trade schools. That is the functional equivalent of the "defund" crowd where police are concerned.

A movement like the above for colleges and universities would see many of these institutions close. And the resultant restructuring would alter the mission of the remaining colleges and universities, and make us all rethink the role of higher education in society.

Is that a reform or is that a fundamental transformation?

Hey Janie, here you go.

https://www.tennis-prose.com/bios/arthur-ashe-challenged-billie-jean-kings-equal-prize-money-crusade/

and the beat goes on
https://arthurashe.ucla.edu/2016/03/22/gender-equality-in-tennis-1-step-forward-2-steps-back/

Raymond Moore, the CEO and tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, came under fire for comments he made during his annual state of the tournament address, in which he said that women’s professional tennis players should “go down on their knees every night and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport.” He went on to say that in his “next life” he would like to return as someone in Women’s Tennis Association, remarking, “they don’t make any decisions and they are lucky.”

lj, I wasn't questioning the bit about his change of mind about equal pay. You will notice that I didn't quote a word of that part of your comment. I quoted the bit about Ashe being "closeted."

Unless I've copmletely lost track of what "closeted" means, that suggests that you think he was gay. As far as I know, he was not, and I can't find a single source that contradicts that impression.

He died of HIV and I jumped to the wrong conclusion, I'm sure because it supported what I wanted to bring out. Thanks for the correction, I really should have double checked that.

I figured as much, at least the part about making an assumption based on how he died, but I could have been clearer in pointing it out.

Balto isn't one of the usual fire breathers there...

I'd say he and Loomis are the most left leaning of the regulars. Simon gets a lot of pushback for being a 'bernie bro' and his thoughts on police reform defunding. Loomis gets into it regularly with the commenters regarding "good libruls" and "good schools".

It would take becoming less reactionary, and more straight conservative, to avoid a net loss of white voters.

The GOP has been going down the reactionary ethnonationalist path since Reagan, and you believe there is some miracle that will get it to stop and reconsider? A concerted effort to bring sense to the party is (a.) NOT happening-it is getting worse, or have you not noticed?; and (b.) would render the party in two, and the center "sane" Republicans would go the way of the Whigs in the 1850's.

Here's a recent Balto entry on the state of current policing. Check out the comments....

Sorry, missed the back and forth before JanieM's appreciated correction. wj, what is the chater movement if not a defund education attempt? This is not to say I agree with charter schools, it's too often a cover for either grifters or people with problematic attitudes, but it seems like a similar situation.

I'd also add that in education, you have a lot of teachers who are doing the best they can despite problematic circumstances. Yet the larger forces only permit them to carve out a small area within which to try and develop their own vision. I don't want to mistake fiction for real life, but there are a slew of portrayals of cops following a similar path.

bobbyp, I don't disagree with you about Balto, but by fire-breather, I was referring more to tone than to position. Again, it may just be because some of the other front pagers are up there much more often, but that's just my impression.

FWIW, after reading lj's "closeted" description, I also went down the rabbit hole searching the net about Ashe, and was therefore curious about the use of the term. Good to see it still means what it used to mean - the changing meaning of slang terms can sometimes feel too much to keep up with.

The GOP has been going down the reactionary ethnonationalist path since Reagan, and you believe there is some miracle that will get it to stop and reconsider?

Nope. But it wasn't a prediction that they would. It was intended as a comment on what would be required to maintain their percentage of the white vote if the flat-out racists left.

what is the chater movement if not a defund education attempt?

My sense is that charter schools got started as specialized schools. Say one focused on science education or theater. (Someone with more experience feel free to correct me on that.)

Then, some folks who thought that elementary and secondary education** needed reform seized on it as easier than trying to reform an entire school system.

** Just a note that what nous and I were talking about was university education, rather than elementary and secondary where charter schools are.

https://democracyjournal.org/arguments/the-untold-history-of-charter-schools/

It's a twisty turny tale, like most things in this world unfortunately.

If you want to talk about unis, it is predicted that 1/3 of the universities in Japan will have to close because of lack of students in the next 20 years. Yet any changes are made almost impossible because of entrenched forces. So I'm pretty familiar with situations where things have to change, but there is no possibility of change because it is impossible to imagine when the current system is gone.

It would take becoming less reactionary, and more straight conservative, to avoid a net loss of white voters.

I'm curious what that would mean in terms of policies. I don't see it, because American conservatism looks intellectually bankrupt to me.

If the Republican Party abandons resentment what does it have left to appeal to voters with?

In line with wj's comments on charter schools. Yes, the early vision for charters as outlined by Shanker (president of the AFT at the time) was that they would be schools at which teachers could innovate pedagogies that better reached marginal students. It was meant to liberate teachers to help students. That never got off the ground before George Gilder and the Focus on the Family crowd grabbed hold of it as a tool for fighting against unions, evolution, and sex education, and charters shifted radically.

Then the techno-libertarians and the venture capitalists grabbed hold of the teaching reform rhetoric to engage in some "market disruption" disaster capitalism so they could sell their apps as teacher replacements.

Of course those same forces are looking at higher ed as the next market, and regents and administrators are using COVID to try to implement some of these disruptions in the name of adapting to an emergency.

Both schools and law enforcement agencies have exploited the disaster capitalism model in ways that have corroded our sense of common cause in favor of paranoid self-interest.

When all else fails, hire a consultant.

COVID is pushing the devolving of K-12 education to a higher rate. When the pandemic is over, there's going to be more empty seats in the public schools than when it started.

COVID is pushing the devolving of K-12 education to a higher rate. When the pandemic is over, there's going to be more empty seats in the public schools than when it started.

Which will further hasten the fragmentation of US society, reinforce partisanship even further, and put many more children in severe danger of abuse.

COVID is pushing the devolving of K-12 education to a higher rate. When the pandemic is over, there's going to be more empty seats in the public schools than when it started.

Covid is forcing alternatives to traditional K-12 education. But from what I am seeing and hearing from parents, there is a burning desire to get back to normal. So I wonder whether the number of "empty seats" is going to be all that large.

Just a note that what nous and I were talking about was university education, rather than elementary and secondary where charter schools are.

Sorry about going back to this, but don't think that the frictionless word of e-commerce is making unis better

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/04/adjunct-professors-higher-education-thea-hunter/586168/

definitely click on the related stories

I'm curious what that would mean in terms of policies. I don't see it, because American conservatism looks intellectually bankrupt to me.

If the Republican Party abandons resentment what does it have left to appeal to voters with?

Sorry for the slow reply.

I'd say that there is a market, if you will, for a non-racist, non-reactionary, conservative party. Whether the Republican Party could ever again be that is debatable. But that's separate for the question of whether conservative policies could get votes.

Note that the intellectual bankruptcy you see is a) real, and b) far more like reactionary than conservative. But it leaves a lot of room between what our progressives here argue for and that. One where a lot of the population would be comfortable.

So what would a conservative approach look like?
1) Recognize that, while the government is a necessary part of doing some problems, (and no question there are problems that need to be addressed) it is not the ideal solution for everything.
2) When government is involved in solving problems, it is generally (although not always) preferable to have that be the government as close to the people as possible. That is, solve problems with local government if possible**, or with state government, before pulling the Federal government in.
3) Prefer that solutions to problems be incremental rather than sweeping.

You can work up policies on issues based on those. For example, take guns.
1) Yes, there is a real problem. And clearly the government is going to have to be involved. (Lack of government involvement having done nothing useful.)
2) Given how easily transportable guns are, controls are going to have to be Federal rather than local. (No offense to New York and its Sullivan Act.)
3) We can start with banning everything which isn't a handgun (with limited ammunition capacity) and isn't designed for hunting. Will that be sufficient? Probably not. But start there. And move on to those once we've got the military hardware out of private hands.

Hope that helps.

** No question, some issues are too widespread, and have impacts across too wide an area, for local solutions to be feasible. But that's some, not all.

I'd say that there is a market, if you will, for a non-racist, non-reactionary, conservative party. Whether the Republican Party could ever again be that is debatable. But that's separate for the question of whether conservative policies could get votes.

How big a market? If the Republicans can't be that party where will the votes come from?

As to the principles:

1) Recognize that, while the government is a necessary part of doing some problems, (and no question there are problems that need to be addressed) it is not the ideal solution for everything.

This sounds unobjectionable, almost anodyne, to me. But it's not a flag that many are going to rally around.

2) When government is involved in solving problems, it is generally (although not always) preferable to have that be the government as close to the people as possible. That is, solve problems with local government if possible**, or with state government, before pulling the Federal government in.

Ok, but conservatives don't really seem to believe this. We've had any number of cases where Republican state legislatures, or state officials, have overridden local ordinances. Think of anti-discrimination laws, voting procedures, etc.

(Personally, I think lots of problems require a national approach. States can't fight recessions, or wars, for that matter. Environmental issues don't respect state lines. States have a much worse record than the national government on individual rights.)

In general, it seems to me that this sort of principle is mostly an argument of convenience. If it helps someone's cause they are all for it. Otherwise maybe not.

3) Prefer that solutions to problems be incremental rather than sweeping.

Again, a decent general idea, if not one to stir souls. Still, shouldn't it really depend on the problem being addressed? The civil rights laws of the 1960's were rather sweeping, and rightfully so, for example, and we may well need sweeping policies for climate change.

Would you consider ACA to have been an incremental approach to health insurance? I would, yet it isn't much loved by conservatives.


Since we are talking about "market size" what do you think the market among conservatives would be for your approach to gun control?

Gun control in Congress?

"WASHINGTON (AP) — A firearms-toting congresswoman-elect who owns a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, has already asked Capitol Police about carrying her weapon on Capitol grounds, her office has acknowledged. If she does so, she apparently won’t be alone.

The practice is allowed for lawmakers, with some limitations, under decades-old congressional regulations. The public is barred from carrying weapons in the Capitol, its grounds and office buildings."
Gun-toting congresswoman-elect may carry Glock at Capitol: The practice is allowed for lawmakers, with some limitations, under decades-old congressional regulations

So what would a conservative approach look like?

By wj’s standard I’m a conservative. I don’t even go as far as his suggested approach on guns.

None of which surprises me, it just tells me a lot about the state of the art of political economy here in the US.

Would you consider ACA to have been an incremental approach to health insurance? I would, yet it isn't much loved by conservatives.

I would say that the ACA is exactly the kind of incremental approach I'm talking about.

I'd attribute the lack of love among "conservatives" to three things. First, a lot of folks who get lumped in with conservatives are actually libertarians. Who have a whole different philosophocal view of any government at all. Second, there are the self-styled "conservatives" who are actually reactionaries. They don't want anything at all change -- except maybe to change back to being the way they (mis)remember their childhood. And third, there are those who oppose the ACA simply because Obama** was the one who got it passed. I don't recall similar outrage when Romney implemented something similar in Massachusetts.

Contrast that with the more progressive (apologies to the progressives here if I'm misrepresenting you) approach of "Medicare for all." I can see several more incremental expansions of the ACA (starting with getting implemented across all states) which stop well short of that.

Since we are talking about "market size" what do you think the market among conservatives would be for your approach to gun control?

Happily, it's not just about those currently embracing the conservative label. I think there are a lot of "moderate" Democrats who are actually quite conservative, but put off by the nut cases currently generating a lot of noise claiming to be more-perfect-than-thou conservatives. Add them to the kinds of conservative gun enthusiasts who typified the NRA before it became a gun manufacturers' lobbying group (I'm old enough to remember when the NRA was pro gun control). You've got a pretty good sized group.

** I think you could make a pretty good case that Obama personally is the kind of conservative I'm thinking of. Which is why, I think, progressives tended to find him so frustrating. They assumed he had to be on their wavelength and he just wasn't.

I always knew Obama to be conservative. What frustrated me was not expecting him to be on a more progressive wavelength, but rather his playing the role of the bipartisan when it was clear from the outset that the GOP would paint him as a wild eyed leftist and obstruct everything on those grounds. I think he could have fought the GOP more strongly and openly for the middle ground rather than pretending that there was good faith still to be had on the other side of the aisle.

I think Obama should have drone-struck the RWNJ wing of the GOP until the rubble bounced.

Instead, he just drone-struck their sanity, and here we are.

Defund was a terrible slogan, as it communicated what is common sense only to those who already knew what it meant.

Which seems to be democratic oversight of police departments, and civilian control of police budgets.

You don’t need to agree with Balto’s analysis to recognise the arguments against current policies.
I mean this sort of crap is just its own reduction ad absurdam:

How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/11/23/how-a-deadly-police-force-ruled-a-city

And specifically on funding:
...Even after the bankruptcy, Vallejo officers were some of the highest paid in California. Tonn’s base pay during his first full year in Vallejo was a hundred thousand dollars—thirty-six thousand dollars more than he made in Galt. This didn’t account for overtime and benefits. In 2018, he made twenty-seven thousand dollars in overtime and thirty-one thousand dollars in “other pay,” and received twenty-two thousand dollars’ worth of benefits. In addition, his pension was funded with fifty-eight thousand dollars...

“ Which is why, I think, progressives tended to find him so frustrating. They assumed he had to be on their wavelength and he just wasn't.”

Depends on who you mean. I knew Obama wasn’t a far lefty back in 2008 and maybe before by listening to his language on foreign policy. Some far lefties naively thought he was one of them simply because of his background, but you just had to listen to what he said to know this was wrong. People on both the right and parts of the left had an imaginary Obama in their heads. In extreme cases it got ridiculous. There was one commenter at Jon Schwarz’s old blog who though Obama was doing his best given that if he stepped out of line the CIA would assassinate him.

He was a very moderate centrist liberal, for better or worse.

What frustrated me was not expecting him to be on a more progressive wavelength, but rather his playing the role of the bipartisan when it was clear from the outset that the GOP would paint him as a wild eyed leftist and obstruct everything on those grounds. I think he could have fought the GOP more strongly and openly for the middle ground rather than pretending that there was good faith still to be had on the other side of the aisle.

This sounds right to me. It's important to distinguish between Obama's views and his strategy.

I agree with nous that his strategy was poor, not to say naive. He should have been much more aggressive on a number of matters, especially including the stimulus.

I also agree with Donald that Obama was (is) a moderate liberal.

I agree with nous that his strategy was poor, not to say naive. He should have been much more aggressive on a number of matters, especially including the stimulus.

What was he going to do about Congress? Even in his first two years (minus the Kennedy dying, and the Franken not being seated part) when we had a trifecta, he had sh*t to deal with (like Lieberman, blegh).

I fully expect for all of this Democrat-hating and -blaming by the "left" to recur immediately. Already we see tweets....

I'm with you in spirit though! I wish we had the magical man/woman who would just get all of this done! I've suggested that the critics should run! Trouble is none of them will win. That's it right there, folks!

Let's just do what we can to win GA, then write lots of letters to our President, our Senators and our Congressmen. Let's not undermine our fragile Democratic and democratic government. Not again.

By the way, a comment of mine got lost in the wilderness. Its subject was Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. Highly recommend the book, but won't replicate the comment, in case it resurfaces.

sapient - no one said that he could have gotten anything more through than he did. But there is also the battle for the hearts and minds narrative to be fought, and that's the one to fight if the other is destined to be a stalemate. You can't tear down the master's house with the master's paradigms.

battle for the hearts and minds narrative

Loads of people can fight that battle, and they didn't/don't seem to be doing all that well. Great pontificating though!

sapient,

wrt the stimulus he may well have gotten the best deal he could. Who knows?

But it was a mistake, IMO, for him to characterize it as just the right size. It wasn't, and he should have said so.

Fine to say, "It was all I could get," but not "It was just right."


Plus, his subsequent turn to "austerity" was seriously misguided.

By wj’s standard I’m a conservative.

Always glad to welcome another moderate conservative out of the closet. ;-)

Interesting conversation about what "Obama should have done." I'd like to have a quote about "just the right size". Here's">https://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/us/politics/26talkshow.html">Here's an article I found about Larry Summers trying to sell the stimulus in the face of a Senate that was interested in filibustering it. That's the closest thing I could find.

This was just after Obama was inaugurated. Sure, he was, in his first week, busy with rhetoric about "reaching across the aisle." He was still hopeful, in that first week, that if he appeared to be a moderate, it would somehow help him. Obviously, that was never to be.

I find it silly and counterproductive to fault him for that. The stimulus passed. It saved the economy, and created a booming economy that survived most of Trump. No, it didn't solve every problem.

I learned two things from the Obama administration: 1) Republicans always deal in bad faith. 2) Democratic leaders, no matter how fragile their position, can never count on "progressives" to have their back.

Sorry. Messed up the link. It's here: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/us/politics/26talkshow.html

I learned two things from the Obama administration: 1) Republicans always deal in bad faith. 2) Democratic leaders, no matter how fragile their position, can never count on "progressives" to have their back.

I have a thought. Nust in recognition of the way various Republican state officials have dealt with the election aftermath. How about if we exert ourselves to say "Congressional Republicans always deal in bad faith."

I'd argue that it's still a tiny bit too sweeping. But it's a whole lot more accurate than including the entire party.

in recognition of the way various Republican state officials have dealt with the election aftermath. How about if we exert ourselves to say "Congressional Republicans always deal in bad faith."

Sure, wj. Some state Republicans passed the [very minimum] bar of integrity by conducting the elections without lying, cheating and stealing, which is now the norm for Congressional and Executive Branch Republicans. And it was a profile in courage for them to do so because they are being maligned by the leader of the party.

So sure, I'll definitely give kudos to them.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

The fact that their behaviour did not require more that the minimal bar of integrity in doing their jobs does not make them necessarily profiles in courage. (Even if it gets them and their families death threats. Which, in several cases, it has.) But it is sufficient to contradict accusations of "always dealing in bad faith." Which is all I'm asking.

I don't understand why moderate Democrats continue to attack progressives for wanting a better future than we can manage right now and trying to convince people that their way is better, especially when both ostensibly agree on those policy goals and when progressive politicians have consistently voted for whatever D policy could be implemented in the face of obstruction. It doesn't matter that progressive have sent money to moderate campaigns or done work to get out the vote.

They grumbled. Those bastards.

I guess hoping for more and saying so is a deep betrayal. At least that is what every DNC centrist I know has said repeatedly.

Maybe someday the DNC centrists will stop inching ever rightward and start to appreciate who has had whose backs this entire time. Looks like that's still a ways off, though.

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