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Challenges to the Alt-Right and Identitarians

I have followed the exploits of the alt-right and identitarianism for over a year, and its various personalities and competing ideological perspectives continue to intrigue me. In fact, I have begun work on a book about the movement to better explain its foundations and objectives to those not affiliated or familiar with it. Hopefully, more on said book this summer.

While it would be wrong to say the alt-right is a single, coherent political movement, its assorted communities have shared a few characteristics: a rejection of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness, coupled with assigning a premium to developing a European, white-centric identity within its adherents. As noted in the title of the National Policy Institute’s previous conference (“Become Who We Are”), the alt-right has been active in its pursuit of an “authentic” identity divorced from the pluralistic civic nationalism practiced in western societies.

Not everyone in the realms of the right supports this pursuit of an “authentic” ethnic identification. As the alt-right has expanded its influence, it has begun to generate challenges from conservatives and traditionalists in regards to its conception of race and identity. Chronicles Magazine, one of the bedrocks of paleo-conservative thought in America, has published a few exceptional pieces criticizing the alt-right’s racial foundations. Chilton Williamson Jr., discussing a debate between racial activists over whether Italians should be included in their “white” movement, writes:

This is why, not long after, I read with bemusement the statement on an American website that “the Italians are not really a white people.”  Not a white people?  What does that mean?  What could it mean?  The Italians are most obviously Europeans, and among the most illustrious of them to boot.  For centuries, indeed—from even before the Renaissance—Italy has been regarded as the cradle of modern European civilization.

It is no good pretending, as some leftist academics and writers do, that “race is a social construct,” which empirically and biologically it demonstrably is not.  But whiteness, at least as white nationalists imagine it, is largely an ideological construct rather than a biological one, based on a more or less arbitrary system of classification that includes Nordics, Celts, Germans, Caucasians, Aryans, and Pan-Aryans, all supposed to be genetically superior human beings.

I am reminded of a similar discussion started by Greg Johnson at Counter-Currents on whether Armenians were “white” and thus included in their movement. This type of hair-splitting in pursuit of identity feels arbitrary and inherently unconcerned with how organic communities are actually formed. While Carl Schmitt theorized that societies are created and maintained by clearly defining who is “in” said community and who is outside it as an “other,” the extreme to which white nationalists take this formation would only lead to more war and conflict between the “Europeans” they wish to unite. Schmitt argued that defining one’s enemy as something existentially different was “so that in the extreme case conflicts with [the other] are possible” (p.27). By making the “in” group ever smaller, and for reasons that are not political or social, identitarians put into action the eventual conflicts that have plagued Europe for centuries. Williamson goes on to argue:

Whiteness is one of those observable but otherwise indefinable characteristics wise men—politicians and political theorists, especially—will not examine too deeply, nor take with undue seriousness.  Whiteness indeed is not a myth or a construct, but it is in part a subjective identity.  It has to do with history, not political science, and it should not be regarded as a science, if only because there is about human beings something that science can neither understand nor explain, for the simple reason that it cannot touch it.

White nationalism further politicizes an already hyper-politicized culture dominated by mental abstractions and ideological thinking by encouraging people to accord priority to social and political concerns that are secondary or tertiary at best.  Identity politics, whether for whites or for others, is a form of narcissism that focuses the mind almost exclusively on the self and its vanities, precluding a true apprehension of society, solid intellectual activity, and a true understanding of the proper nature and limited scope of political life.

Well said, and makes clear my own reservations about any political identity rooted solely in “whiteness.” I am of European ancestry and how we define and incorporate “whiteness” into that identity is important. Having said that, those inherently corporeal aspects are far less telling of one’s culture than the actions and practices of its members. Williamson is right to recognize that constructing an identity around complexion and melanin is unadulterated vanity at the expense of intellectual contemplation.

Aaron Wolfe, also in Chronicles, takes identitarians to task for the rootlessness of their identity and movement:

The white nationalist will tell you that his point of view is in fact a natural one.  Like favors like.  White, on one hand, might be a mere checkbox on a census form, but in another sense it is an extension of the natural family.  The opposite point of view—the multicultural, multiracial, or for those who ought to know better but are craven or chicken, the “cuckservative” one—is not natural.

By white nationalist lights, then, a white man in his proper culture would see [the historical accomplishments of great] men and their achievements as belonging to him.  This is the natural disposition of the white man.  This is what it means to be rooted.

Actually, the opposite is true: White nationalism is in fact a very specific form of rootlessness, an ideology of alienation.

He elaborates on the true allure of white-nationalism as an identity:

The average temptee of identitarianism…in search of a form of therapy, a kind of topical salve for the muscle aches and sore joints that result from running in the rat race that is modern America.  He is seeking a kind of comfort, a sense of belonging and a place to belong, and he finds it, thinly, ephemerally, fleetingly in the lists of black crime statistics, the praise of past European accomplishment, the bare scientific facts about the comparative sizes of brains and genitals among the races, and the ability to post controversial, career-ending comments pseudonymously.  As he grows in his newfound faith, he seeks converts and potential fellow travelers in the outside world, looking for teachable moments in the face of tragedies and injustices that can be neatly framed in terms of anti-white, anti-European oppression.

White nationalism and identitarianism, while claiming to be authentic identities for Europeans, are but a diminished distinctiveness parceled for those lost in the modern world. By making the physical the most important element of their identity, these activists of the right construct an idealized vision of themselves and their culture that has no roots in the actual traditions with which they claim to associate. It is as real and authentic as the utopian egalitarianism they stand in opposition to. European white-identity is real, but the decidedly exclusive and limiting parameters used to measure and define it by the alt-right abridge said identity to one overly focused on the physical.

Inherently, we are forced to return to what defines a people and a culture. What defining characteristics place one within the European white identity? Nordic individuals have religious, social, economic, and political customs distinct from their Spanish and Italian brethren. Can they still be seen as belonging to a singular identity? A Coptic Egyptian and a French Catholic share countless cultural traditions and philosophical positions; should not those cultural elements make them a more authentic community than the mere shade of their complexion? More importantly, how is the communal bond between my commerce-minded, secular Flemish family with religious Slavs in Serbia more precious than the aforementioned Coptic and Catholic? On nearly all cultural fronts, they have very little in common. However, in the alt-right’s cultural calculation, they constitute a shared community due mainly to comparable skin color.

Defining “who we are,” as the NPI conference asked its participants, is imperative. Recognizing what connects us to our neighbors and finding kinship with our extended cultural family is comforting and worthwhile. Having a clearer sense of our culture, traditions and norms is also a valuable step in understanding differences and similarities with other nations and civilizations. Rather than assuming our norms regarding social, political and economic matters is the default position for all people, it can give us a richer understanding of human collaboration and community.

Yet, we must avoid the simplistic European identity crafted by the alt-right. Defining “who we are” must be grander than a base and simplistic obedience to appearance.

“We” are more than that.

 

(Image: The Chess Game, Sofonisba Anguissola)


Staff Writer
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Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular contributor at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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251 thoughts on “Challenges to the Alt-Right and Identitarians

  1. It always amazes me how many people on the Alt-Right take pride in Western culture but do not partake in any of it. They seem more likely to listen to noisy heavy metal than Western art music or Western folk music. They do not read the great works of Western literature or philosophy and denounce a lot of Western art as degenerate if it is modernist.

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    • Of course. It’s because they hate the actual culture of the West, and want to replace it with something completely different. The idea that they’re trying to construct an “‘authentic’ identity divorced from the civic nationalism practiced in western societies,” is a pretty big tell.

      Also, the whole bit where they insist that race is totally a real thing but can’t decide whether Caucasians are Caucasian is pretty funny.

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        • Heavy metal is very Western. What I meant is that a lot of White nationalists extol the virtues of Western culture over non Western culture all the time but they do not partake or even denounce some of the highest expressions of Western culture. They go for the most violent and aggressive forms of Western culture.

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          • What I meant is that a lot of White nationalists extol the virtues of Western culture over non Western culture all the time but they do not partake or even denounce some of the highest expressions of Western culture.

            that’s because you’re thinking of this in a low/middle/highbrow stacking order of culture, not how it’s going to slice amongst white nationalists. \m/

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        • Well, they aren’t just in favor of “Western culture”, but traditional, bygone “Western culture”, and then they shun the products of that supposed culture in favor of commercialized products of our contemporary, allegedly debased age.

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      • There is a tension between civic nationalism and blood identity in Western culture but when you go back to the roots of Western culture, the Greek City-States, the Roman Republic, and Ancient Israel than you will find that civic nationalism was the dominate theme. It might not necessarily be easy but there were always ways to enter into Western culture. Even the most exclusionary of the roots of Western culture, Ancient Israel, had ways that people could enter into the “Congregation of the Lord.” Universalism is any a big part of Western identity.

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  2. More importantly, how is the communal bond between my commerce-minded, secular Flemish family with religious Slavs in Serbia more precious than the aforementioned Coptic and Catholic?

    Do Serbs count as white? The belief system that inspires the alt-right considers them untermenschen.

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  3. Its also interesting to note how the entire Alt-Right excludes Jews from being White while the Social Justice Left sees Jews as being the ultimate example of white, privileged people. We can’t win.

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  4. Couldn’t you say the same thing about other “identity” groups? After all, is this ONLY a white thing? Nope.

    Perhaps, perhaps, recognition of this “a rejection of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness, ” will finally give some folks pause. Keep pushing. Keep pushing. Did you not think that there would not be a push back, a response? This is just getting started.

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    • Ask the fucking free market what it thinks about race.
      You’ll get some very interesting, surprising, and not at all expected result.

      Reality HATES heuristics, and it hates liberalism even more so (the idea that “all men are created equal” first among the list of follies)

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    • Damon:
      Couldn’t you say the same thing about other “identity” groups?

      Let’s assume, arguendo, that they’re doing the same thing as the members of other “identity” groups–the same other “identity” groups that, they claim, are unfit to participate in the same polity as they are because they somehow lack the resources[1] to fit into a civilized society. Now they want to adopt the organizing strategies and political structure of those very groups?

      This suggests to me that they’re either complete idiots or frauds. Either way, why would I somehow treat their “push back” as something to give me pause?

      [1] Frequently, they insist, these resources are genetic

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      • Either way, why would I somehow treat their “push back” as something to give me pause?

        Oh, I don’t know,”the extreme to which white nationalists take this formation would only lead to more war and conflict ” I see this as a natural response to being pushed around. Oh, you can say that these folks are finally meeting resistance to THEIR pushing, but that’s not the point. Escalation is happening. How do you think it’ll end? I’m got an idea and it’s not pretty. But you go ahead and not worry, label them as idiots, and discount them. How could that possibly go wrong?

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        • Damon:
          Oh, I don’t know,”the extreme to which white nationalists take this formation would only lead to more war and conflict ”

          Many extreme ideologies promote war and conflict. That hardly means that they have any merit as descriptions of reality.

          I see this as a natural response to being pushed around.Oh, you can say that these folks are finally meeting resistance to THEIR pushing, but that’s not the point.

          I could say that, but I won’t. What I will say is that, just because they’re acting like they’re pushed around doesn’t mean they are being pushed around. Sure, they may say as much, but given the whole “lunatics and frauds” thing mentioned above, I see no reason to care what they say.

          Escalation is happening.How do you think it’ll end?I’m got an idea and it’s not pretty.But you go ahead and not worry, label them as idiots, and discount them.How could that possibly go wrong?

          I can discount their point of view without discounting them as a threat.

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          • “I can discount their point of view without discounting them as a threat.”

            That’s not what you appeared to say when you wrote “Either way, why would I somehow treat their “push back” as something to give me pause?” Because if you really did view them as a threat, a serious one, would you not consider that your support of the current path might be worth altering just a bit, or slowing down so others can catch up? I’m not getting that impression. Nope, full on to a better brighter future. Pay no attention to that small but growing mob sharpening their knives.

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            • Damon:
              Because if you really did view them as a threat, a serious one, would you not consider that your support of the current path might be worth altering just a bit, or slowing down so others can catch up?

              No, because I assume, on the basis that their ideology is self-evidently corrupt, that they have no insight at all into what’s actually wrong.

              Maybe there are real social trends that are empowering them, but the idea that those real trends have anything at all to do with what they say is wrong with society is implausible in the extreme.

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              • You seem to be under the impression that their “wrong-ness” means they won’t be successful in recruiting more to their side. Right/wrong has nothing to do with it.

                Is “being right” what you want to be when the mob is banging on your doorstep wanting your head? Make sure “I was right”. os on your headstone.

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                • Damon:
                  You seem to be under the impression that their “wrong-ness” means they won’t be successful in recruiting more to their side.Right/wrong has nothing to do with it.

                  No, it means that their stated grievances are extremely unlikely to indicate anything about the sort of social changes that would effectively de-fang them. This means that making public policy changes to appease them solves no actual problem.

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  5. I get bemused when I read

    It is no good pretending, as some leftist academics and writers do, that “race is a social construct,” which empirically and biologically it demonstrably is not. But whiteness, at least as white nationalists imagine it, is largely an ideological construct rather than a biological one

    and

    Whiteness indeed is not a myth or a construct, but it is in part a subjective identity.

    The writers seem to be using words in a different way from what I am familiar with. In the first quote, the writer seems to be distinguishing “race” and “whiteness,” placing them in different domains. Goodness knows, discussions of race are thoroughly muddled, but in the context of American culture “race” and “whiteness” are the same discussion. As for the second quote, I am thoroughly mystified by what distinction is being made between whiteness as a “construct” and as a “subjective identity.”

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    • And, of course, the “demonstrably” empirical claim is also bullshit:

      It is important to distinguish ancestry from a taxonomic notion such as race. Ancestry is a process-based concept, a statement about an individual’s relationship to other individuals in their genealogical history; thus, it is a very personal understanding of one’s genomic heritage. Race, on the other hand, is a pattern-based concept that has led scientists and laypersons alike to draw conclusions about hierarchical organization of humans, which connect an individual to a larger preconceived geographically circumscribed or socially constructed group.

      One reason is that phylogenetic and population genetic methods do not support a priori classifications of race, as expected for an interbreeding species like Homo sapiens (11, 18). As a result, racial assumptions are not the biological guide-posts some believe them to be, as commonly defined racial groups are genetically heterogeneous and lack clear-cut genetic boundaries (10, 11).

      ~ Yudell et al. 2016 Science

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        • Yea, what are you talking about? Genetic ancestry is either being used to deal with environmental confounding in disease studies (i.e. boring statistics) or by those folks really into tracing their family trees. Where is it being used in an ominous way?

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  6. In modern American politics, there is a whole argument/school of thought about various groups that became “white.” During the late 19th/early 20th century, the new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe were not considered white in America because they were not of Anglo-Saxon stock. It is arguable about whether Nordic immigrants like Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes were considered white or not but Italians, Jews, Greeks, Serbs, Poles, etc. were not white by American standards of the late-19th and early 20th century.

    As late as the 1960s, people of Southern and Eastern European origin were still called “white ethnics” in American parlance. Starting with Nixon, the GOP began taking some of these groups from the Democratic Party (Jews being a notable exception) and the idea is that concepts of whiteness needed to expand in order to fight against the civil rights changes. So Italians went from being an outgroup to an in-group with a slight twist.

    What the alt-right seems to be doing or wants to do is reassert an Anglo-Saxon to Aryan definition of whiteness. This is probably a fool’s errand. Lee is right that it is interesting that most of these alt-right types dislike most of Western European culture even though they sing its praises. How can you have European Culture without the Italian renaissance? Or without Plato and Aristotle?

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      • Yes, always. You have to remember that the English were partially (and mainly in the case of their aristocracy) descended from the Normans who invaded from Normandy under William the Conqueror. The Normans in turn were descendants of Vikings who settled in northern France aka North Men, aka Danes and Swedes. So Englishness was intimately entangled with the Nordics from the get go.

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        • Nordics were also blonde, blue-eyed, Protestsnt, and not into beer, language and cultural retention like the Germans. The Germans were also seen as white but perceived with more suspicion because they didn’t get into temperance and really strove for language and culture retention.

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        • Recall that early in the first season Swearengen was very concerned that word would get out that his people had massacred a family of hoopleheads. This implies that said hoopleheads were considered white.

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    • and the idea is that concepts of whiteness needed to expand in order to fight against the civil rights changes.

      What changes, Saul? Nixon was never at any time in his career a crusader for segregation, negro disfranchisement, or any other portfolio of policy measures favored by James Eastland, ca. 1947. Neither was Strom Thurmond after about 1971. Nixon was a critic of court-ordered busing. Given the dog’s breakfast that Arthur Garrity et al made of inner-city school districts, maybe he understood something you don’t.

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  7. In the 1970’s, the furries were pretty much entirely isolated from each other. You had pockets here and there, I’m sure, clutching onto their copies of Fritz the Cat and the Deities and Demigods but, with the advent of the internet, these guys were not only able to find each other, but start creating content for each other, and even do some light evangelism among the normies.

    Something that would have been completely and totally shameful became into a sub-culture because these people who would never, ever, have been able to find each other were now able to create a community for themselves.

    So too with the alt-right. These are people who, once upon a time, would never have found each other and would have had to keep their impulses hidden unless they were in some of those weird enclaves in weird backward parts of the Mountain West or the Deep South.

    The internet, however…

    Anyways, Damon raises an interesting point when he says ” Did you not think that there would not be a push back, a response? This is just getting started.”

    Hegel talks about this.

    I suspect that we are, indeed, just getting started. In the short run, it probably is a good idea to conflate the legitimate criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness with white identitarianism. I think it will eventually result in some criticisms losing a lot of sting through overuse, though.

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    • Sub-cultures existed long before the Internet. Science fiction fandom, the ur sub-culture, existed since the 1930s. The first World Con happened in 1939 and there was cos-playing at this convention. I’ve seen photos. Many things we associate with fandom go back two generations before 1939 to Sherlock Holmes fans during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Fan-fiction and elaborate fan theories started before World War I. A lot of modern LGBT culture also has its origins in the 1890s. What the Internet does is make it easier to find like minded people but so did every other advance in communications technology. There were internet like chat-rooms using the telegraph during the 19th century.

      What really determines the shape and form of a subculture is geography. When I was in college and law school, it was very common for fans to express jealousy at how well-organized and elaborate Japanese fandom was compared to American fandom. Japanese fans could dress up in costume and go to Harajuku to hang and play every Sunday. There conventions were bigger and more professionally run than American ones. They had doujinshi while we had fan-fiction. The reason why Japanese fandom was so elaborate was that Japan is the size of California and a good third of the population is heavily concentrated in a few metropolitan areas that are much smaller than American ones in size. This allows for a greater concentration of fandom and the creation of a more elaborate culture. The concentration of fandom also allowed corporations to commercialize fandom in Japan earlier than America. Once fandom in America reached critical mass, commercialization occurred and fandom grew elaborate.

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      • What really determines the shape and form of a subculture is geography.

        If you want to do stuff in meatspace, sure, you need to live close enough to drive.

        The internet allows everyone to live, at least virtually, wherever they want.

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    • Jaybird: In the short run, it probably is a good idea to conflate the legitimate criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness with white identitarianism. I think it will eventually result in some criticisms losing a lot of sting through overuse, though.

      This seems bizarre. Why would it be a good idea to conflate legitimate criticism with one of the most thoroughly discredited ideologies there is, and one which is going to be axiomatically rejected by a large majority of people who don’t qualify as “white”?

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        • So shouldn’t people who agree that those criticisms are legitimate do everything possible to disassociate them from white nationalism?

          If that’s impossible, don’t the people defending “modern liberalism, egalitarianism and political correctness” kind of have a point?

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          • So shouldn’t people who agree that those criticisms are legitimate do everything possible to disassociate them from white nationalism?

            I guess it depends on which side they’re on.

            If they are people who don’t want anything to be done about the legitimate criticisms, conflating them is probably more important.

            If that’s impossible, don’t the people defending “modern liberalism, egalitarianism and political correctness” kind of have a point?

            I don’t think it’s impossible.

            Easier to get smudgy and smudge the legitimate criticisms as being necessarily tied together with white nationalism and, therefore, being necessarily illegitimate in the first place.

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            • Easier to get smudgy and smudge the legitimate criticisms as being necessarily tied together with white nationalism and, therefore, being necessarily illegitimate in the first place.

              OK, but isn’t that tying something that people who want to advance the criticisms and advocate change to address them should endeavor to avoid?

              This line of argument seems to be doing the opposite of that to me.

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              • OK, but isn’t that tying something that people who want to advance the criticisms and advocate change to address them should endeavor to avoid?

                There are probably lots of those people.

                Some of them, indeed, should endeavor to avoid tying these criticisms together.

                Others will be people who are, in fact, neo-nazis who share these same criticisms and probably don’t mind the smudging.

                But the people who don’t want to change things can very, very easily merely point out that neo-Nazis think these criticisms.

                Because it is true.

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                • Some of them, indeed, should endeavor to avoid tying these criticisms together.

                  Yeah, this is where I have a lot of problem with the line of argument that this is a “natural response” to liberals and PC police and the like pushing people around–that’s precisely the same argument the white nationalists themselves make. It’s not even plausible that it’s true–white nationalists and their ideological forebears have been arguing that for, roughly, ever, and you can’t explain a variable with a constant.

                  There may be good arguments out there. I think I can see a jumping off point from Damon’s first comment that is at least worth considering. But this line of argument is really counterproductive if you want to avoid the smudging.

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                    • I’m assuming that the goal is to convince people who don’t see serious problems with liberalism and political correctness to treat those legitimate complaints as if they are, indeed, legitimate complaints.

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                      • They either will or they won’t.

                        Some of the problems that I see are, to make an analogy, similar to seeing problems with a bridge.

                        “Hey, that isn’t going to hold.”
                        “Neo-nazis say the same thing.”
                        “Fair enough. I should have just stayed quiet, I guess.”

                        And if I’m wrong, then the neo-nazis are wrong too and so no problem.

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                          • Uh no. We had a discussion about a *specific person* – who was a white supremacist and had a history of on-line harassment – getting kicked off a publicly used private service. And the claim was that his punishment was unfair because surely some liberals somewhere were getting away with the same thing or would get away with it in the future. Which is actually lot like this discussion, in that it has gone umpteen comments about some people somewhere getting Godwin’ed for their well-intentioned arguments without offering a single example of such a thing happening. It all sounds to me like an attempt to soften the standards for certain kinds of transgressive views: there’s a lot folks out there who say things that sound very similar to neo-nazism, so we should handle their ideas with kid-gloves lest we lump them in with the people they sound very similar to.

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                            • It all sounds to me like an attempt to soften the standards for certain kinds of transgressive views: there’s a lot folks out there who say things that sound very similar to neo-nazism, so we should handle their ideas with kid-gloves lest we lump them in with the people they sound very similar to.

                              It seems like a happy medium would be addressing the views and not bothering to lump anybody in with anybody else. The ideas I’ve heard that were too much “like Hitler” or “like Neville Chamberlain” over the past few years could fill volumes, even if the actual rebuttals to those ideas couldn’t.

                              The problem is that it’s really easy to say what somebody’s argument is like and not quite as easy to say why it’s wrong.

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                              • “It seems like a happy medium would be addressing the views”

                                But a Horrible Person holds those views. If someone don’t address that horribleness then obviously they don’t care about (and are probably accepting of, and even secretly supportive of) that horribleness. It doesn’t matter what the views are; a Horrible Person holds them, so they are prima facie wrong and not worthy of address.

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                              • I disagree. Pattern recognition is an extremely useful feature. If someone is making an ordinarily racist argument but replacing “the black race” with “the black culture”, recognizing that pattern is saving me a whole lot of time in the discussion. And if I point this out and ask them to distinguish their view from the ordinarily racist view and they stomp their foot and say “I won’t play your game”, they’ve saved me even more time by demonstrating that the discussion wasn’t happening in good faith. On the other hand, if they do articulate the difference, then they’ve cleared up a host of potential criticisms that were starting to swirl in my mind. It’s win-win for everyone.

                                As I pointed out below, I think it’s a *very* good thing that the socialists took special pains to distance themselves from Mao and Stalin. Their continued emphasis that “socialism != communism” with specific distinguishing features is the reason they can now run an openly socialist candidate. The movement would have (rightfully) failed if they had instead stomped their foot, played coy, and continued to court the votes and approval of actual communists. The way you get ideas that are on the margin into the mainstream is by loudly and forcefully demonstrating that you understand the difference between what’s acceptable and what’s over the line.

                                What’s happening on the right is a bit different. The socialists were a movement *from* the fringe *into* the margin, and eventually into the mainstream. So they understood the importance of demonstrating moderation. The Trumpists are a movement that *used to be* mainstream (The Bell Curve, etc.) and has now seen the culture drift so that they are in the margin. They don’t understand why all of a sudden they have to play by the same rules as the other marginal movements, and they’re stomping their foot.

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                                  • It would bother me more if there were actual examples of it happening. I mean, if someone on the right was saying “I don’t think affirmative action is the best way to deal with systemic racism” and then Mitt Romney comes out and says “that dude doesn’t believe in systemic racism, I will never have his vote and don’t want it”. Then yeah, I would be bothered that genuine ideas are being misrepresented and shunned out of the debate. Is there an idea in the margins of the right that you think is being unfairly misrepresented by the right?

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                                • “Pattern recognition is an extremely useful feature.”

                                  Haw. Pattern recognition gave us “9/11 was an inside job”.

                                  “if I point this out and ask them to distinguish their view from the ordinarily racist view and they stomp their foot and say “I won’t play your game”…”

                                  See, this is what you think you’re doing. Maybe what you’re actually doing is hearing their objection, and replying “oh, well, that’s EXACTLY what a RACIST would say“, and they reply “why are you accusing me of being a racist?”, and you say “ah-HA, you’re refusing to engage my point, that means you must be a racist! And now I don’t have to talk to you anymore.”

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                                  • >>See, this is what you think you’re doing. Maybe what you’re actually doing is …

                                    And this is why it would help to have specific examples where folks on the margins were shunned in such a way.

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                                    • My overall issue is that I’ve seen the following things called racist on Twitter over the past few weeks:

                                      *) The suggestion that certain aspects of Muslim theology contribute to the treatment of gay people in majority Muslim countries.

                                      *) Declaring one’s intention to vote for Donald Trump.

                                      *) Doing research into genetically modified bananas that provide vitamin A to combat malnutrition. Seriously.

                                      We’ve worn out the word “racist” badly enough that nobody will notice when real racists start to take over. I think that this is a little bit what Jaybird has been alluding to with his talk of Trump being backlash.

                                      There’s a sizable group of people who hear politicians say, for example, that terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists have “nothing to do with Islam,” and they’re pretty sure that it has at least something to do with Islam. Then they see the first people who push back against that claim get painted as the second coming of Hitler, and they wonder if it isn’t time to vote for a guy like Trump who will “tell it like it is” and not be cowed by accusations of racism from a bunch of crybabies.

                                      That’s why I think that “rounding to the nearest Hitler” whenever possible is a very effective short term strategy that does a great job of cowing your opponents for a while, but it builds up problems that will need to be addressed in the longer run. At some point you’ll eventually need to explain to people what’s wrong with their ideas, not just that their ideas sound to you like ideas that we don’t have to discuss any more.

                                      As for it being a case of allowing your opponent to explain the distinction between himself and Hitler, I don’t doubt that that’s how you do it, and it can be constructive. I could see a discussion about the difference between race and culture coming out of your example. But that’s not usually how it’s done. It’s very often a mind reading game in which one side divines the “true” reason the other guy made those arguments (spoiler alert: it’s usually all about being Hitler while trying to hide that he’s Hitler), and if his reasons for making the argument aren’t pure, the argument need not be addressed.

                                      I’ll admit that some of this is just my aversion to ideas being beyond discussion. There’s something about blasphemy rules that rub me the wrong way, even if they’re applied very judiciously and their scope doesn’t creep beyond things that really do offend whichever deity wrote them.

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                                      • I think this is pretty good. However regarding the PC and push back against calling racism stuff i don’t’ think it quite gets there.

                                        For instance for several decades some on the right have screamed communism and socialism at liberals and lefties. But that hasn’t’ quite provoked the same backlash where large numbers of people are screaming about Communism to rock on as a reaction. No Bernie isn’t really an example of that push back since isnt’ calling for stalin or mao, but Sweden.

                                        It hasn’t provoked the same PCism of far out lefite views being shut down. The MSM still doesn’t want to hear about far leftie views, not matter what they are. The likely winner of the D primary is a centrist D and O isn’t any leftie.

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                                        • I don’t think Bernie Sanders is an example of that pushback either. I think the Sanders phenomenon is more a reflection of general dissatisfaction and the fact that he’s an honest, passionate guy than any ideological backlash.

                                          I do think that “socialist” is a word that lost its meaning long ago, though. To anybody my age and under, it just sounds like an empty epithet like “shill” or “cuck” rather than some coherent problematic ideology to smear somebody with. It goes straight to /dev/null whenever I hear it.

                                          My concern is that the word “racist” is going the same direction. Ten years ago, hearing somebody tell me, “That guy is a racist,” would have made me very cautious about filtering that guy’s claims and making sure he wasn’t trying anything nefarious or dishonest. Now I take it as a 50/50 chance that he’s saying something interesting and I should hear him out. This is probably not a good trend for us to continue.

                                          So I kind of backward justify my gut anti-anti-blasphemy position like this: It seems like when you bless an idea as out of bounds, people attach all sorts of other ideas to it in an attempt to make them out of bounds as well. Eventually it all floats back to the surface in one big disgusting ball, and the, “It’s out of bounds!” defense no longer works because it’s attached to clearly legitimate ideas. Better to just address ideas one at a time than to let them clump together and clog stuff up.

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                                      • — Well, being called a racist is no doubt unpleasant, given that random people on Twitter can certainly hurt one’s feelings. Likewise, when the Twitter mobs gather in sufficient numbers, they can really fuck with a person’s head. No doubt this is worth talking about. On the other hand, this seems like a property of social media more than any political side. For example, I’ve had personal friends become notable targets of #gamergate. Surely the broad right own the gaters to the same degree that the broad left owns the social justice mob.

                                        As a contrast, however, I get called things that are probably as hurtful on a fairly routine basis, face to face, on the subway by very angry people whose hatred has, to my best estimation, been flamed in recent years by a steady stream of right-wing lies. So anyway, when I see homophobia and transphobia lurking around the discourse, I beg you to consider that I might be correct. This kind of stuff is hard to keep hidden.

                                        On the specifics, I suspect we could unpack those examples and find systematic racism running through much of it. Furthermore, I believe that a person’s unwillingness to acknowledge their own role in systematic injustice is a failure of character. We should talk about this. It’s a difficult conversation, of course. The left very often does a poor job with it, especially randoms on Twitter. We throw rocks when thoughtful conversation would go better.

                                        And the banana thing — yeah that sounds pretty goofy. There is a lot of really bad post-colonial theory floating around. It leads to batshit ideas. Sorry. I don’t like that stuff either. There are some really bad failure modes these days in social justice culture.

                                        However, we can ask, is that banana theory part of the actual Democratic party platform, supported by major establishment voices, the way transphobia is stated doctrine of the Republicans and openly preached by major figures? Have crazy laws been recently passed to punish the banana crimes? As I mentioned, an execrable anti-trans law was literally passed last night in NC, in a stealth session of congress. There are dozens of similar bills pending in other states. The conservative right has, having (to a degree) thrown in the towel on gay marriage, set their sites on us.

                                        After all, they need some kind of enemy to keep the anger up, to keep the pews full, to keep the dollars flowing. Why not pick a deeply vulnerable group of people with one of the highest suicide rates? Obviously.

                                        There is plenty of bad social justice out there. I know this. I’ve lived in those spaces. It is as awful as you think.

                                        Does Clinton take part in this? Sanders? Contrastingly, have the SJ mobs produced anything actually worse than Milo Yiannopoulos and his army of aggressive and offensive clowns?

                                        The point is, a lot of “anti social justice” folks are butthurt white guys who are sad that their racist humor is now landing badly, since (it turns out) those offended are now getting a voice. These days if you drop the n-word, you might lose your radio spot.

                                        Cry me a river on that one.

                                        Dumb Twitter wars are dumb Twitter wars. But what is happening in congress and the courts? What about the unambiguous homophobia and transphobia from the Christian right, by malevolent Christian men with broadcasts networks that reach six-figure audiences nation wide, who profit from manufactured social outrage?

                                        Versus that, some jerk on Twitter? A bunch of college kids with more passion than brains?

                                        Those kids will grow up. Will the evangelicals?

                                        Get a fucking grip. Perspective.

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                                        • Personally speaking here, recognizing this is a contentious issue, I think the problem with views like those offered by TFrog is that when the term “racist” is divorced from its actual meaning and is analyzed in political-football terms used by “extremists” on “both sides” rather than taking the time to clarify when the usage is appropriate and when not, they’re actually serving the interests of the “racism accusations are baseless!” crowd.

                                          Which isn’t helpful socially or even intellectually.

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                                        • I can’t find much in this post to disagree with, but I did want to make a note on this:

                                          On the specifics, I suspect we could unpack those examples and find systematic racism running through much of it.

                                          I’m sure you’re right for some definition of “running through” but I don’t know what to do with that. As I see it, there are ideas that are reasonably held on their own but are more popular because they play well with racists, and there are ideas that don’t really hold up to scrutiny and probably wouldn’t be held by anyone in the absence of racism. I see a lot of unhelpful conflation of the two. I don’t think any of the examples I brought up are in the second category, but that’s where a lot of people go right out of the gate (disturbing side note: the person pushing the banana thing had a PhD and a professorship).

                                          The fact that other people hold your position because they’re racists doesn’t necessarily mean that your position is wrong or that you hold it because of latent racism, so having people try to take conversation in that direction right off the bat just seems to feed into the perception that racism is just a thing people with no real arguments bring up rather than a real problem.

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                                          • — Well, if I kick over enough rocks, I’m sure I can find someone with a PhD and a professorship who thinks I should be put to death according to the dictates of Leviticus. So yeah. That said, there is no denying that the contemporary academy hews left. Being a moderate liberal I’m kinda okay with this.

                                            Note, I never attended university, so all my notions of academics come from either books, movies, or anecdotes from friends. Make of that what you will.

                                            That said, for all the high minded notions of academic freedom, I know plenty of friends who are queer or minority or whatever, who felt pretty stomped on by well-positioned white male academics who acted capriciously from positions of power. So yes, there is politics. Of course there is. The people in universities are people. We are naked apes who play social games. In any case, academics was never going to be smooth sailing guided only by the highest ideals.

                                            Regarding your broader point, I’ve encountered bad faith on every side. I frequently try to have sober conversations about systematic injustice on forums I frequent, which means mostly with white, male nerd-bros. For example, given that I work in software, I’m often discussing the experiences of women in STEM. I know a fair amount about this, both from reading, from anecdotes my friends share, and from what has happened to me. But no matter how careful I try to address the topic, the STEM-bros do not want to hear it.

                                            Which really suck for the gals. Like, this comic (which you may have seen before) sums up a lot of it. But the guys dig in their heels and play the isolated demands of rigor game. Blah. It’s infuriating.

                                            These are subtle things. There will never be a perfect study.

                                            So if one day I blow a gasket and call some presumptuous nerdling a fucking sexist douchebro — well now I’m the bad guy.

                                            Which yeah, I should keep my cool 100% of the time with absolute perfection. Always and everywhere. Cuz being called a fascist is worse than a slow, withering grind that drives women from their careers.

                                            And when we present data that shows that women leave their careers in tech because of sexism, the nerds blow it off, coldly dismiss it entirely. Cuz social science is crap.

                                            These are guys who read with endless fascination the most preposterously sketchy ideas derived from shallow readings of pop articles about evo-psych. But they won’t believe a large number of women saying the same thing.

                                            These men are sexist. They refuse to talk about it.

                                            This has been going on a long time. Women are angry.

                                            I’m not black, but I get the sense that black people feel similarly. Some of them are hopping mad.

                                            I cannot even summarize how trans people feel. We deserve lives of genuine dignity, understanding, and acceptance. If that is denied to us, then what is our justified response?

                                            Angry feminists have existed for many decades. Some of them write terribly uncharitable screeds. I’ve read some. Most target men. A few target transgender women. Believe me, I myself am the target of angry, irrational people from the left.

                                            But I am not such a feminist. Frankly, unless you were so unlucky to sign up for Mary Daly’s class (or whatever), you probably won’t be exposed to that stuff much.

                                            Unless you choose to be. How many sexist-ish men have actually read Dworkin? How many have read about Dworkin, select passages and ideas that are cherry picked to be the most shocking?

                                            “Heterosexual sex is rape!” they should from the rooftops, without bothering to understand what she was trying to say.

                                            I mean, I disagree with her. But she wasn’t crazy. Taken out of context, however, she sounds crazy.

                                            (Honestly I wouldn’t bother with Dworkin. She was a long time ago.)

                                            Blah blah blah. My point is, plenty of women in tech try to engage thoughtfully with this topic, and hit the cold, thoughtless barrier of stupid and endlessly aggrieved men with power.

                                            But you’re worried about the asshole on Twitter?

                                            These men, they don’t listen to us. They don’t want to have a reasoned conversation. They cajole, cry out, avoid, and dissemble in every possible way, all while posturing as if they are following the perfect rules of rational debate, which they encountered while reading some Dawkins article or whatever. The point is, you can’t argue with a nerd.

                                            But these men, when they have some free time, can browse over to a blog written by some other male nerd, which dissects some blog post written by an angry black working class woman who is spitting mad at white people.

                                            Such a woman will perhaps make a weak argument. She is not trained in proper nerd discourse.

                                            My boss is a man. His boss is a man. His boss is a man. Up and up the chain. All white (save one South Asian somewhere high up). All cis.

                                            My governor is a man. My mayor is a man. Most cops are men. Most judges are men. Most are white. All are cis.

                                            Pick a random sample of such men and try to have an honest discussion about microagressions, or else “mansplaining” — which, when you examine the idea critically, ends up being about gendered conversational dynamics, particularly as they are shaped by our sexuality. This is a real thing. It affects women. Men aren’t always quite aware they behave this way.

                                            Or instead you can find the meanest asshole on Twitter telling every man to shut up cuz he’s “mansplaining.”

                                            Whatever. You choose who you listen to on these topics. You choose how deep you want to go. You choose how much you want to learn.

                                            How often does your boss tell you to shut up cuz you’re “mansplaining”? Who has actual power?

                                            Here is a clue: the grand flows of social power are largely invisible, in the same way a fish doesn’t know it’s wet. This is the background noise of our life. The point, if you live in harmony with this power, you don’t see it. If you live against the grain, this power is relentlessly visible to you, wielded by capricious people who see no need to understand what they are doing. They are acting “as it should be.”

                                            When a target of this power has had enough and starts throwing rocks, then you notice. If those people get a small amount of power, which they use in a way no more clumsy than how power is routinely used against them, then you definitely notice. It is on every cover. You see “thought pieces” galore.

                                            It is this: you see the world as it has been framed and presented to you by those who operate within the systems of power.

                                            Think of that next time you read about a student protest.

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                                            • Once again I can’t see much to disagree with here (as somebody in tech with a wife in tech, the comic is very good) except for the implication that the asshole being an asshole on Twitter and the asshole being an asshole in the halls of power can’t both be wrong. I don’t think I’ve said anything drawing equivalence between the two or the relative importance of them. I simply think it’s important to call out the excesses of people on my own side and not try to justify them by pointing out somebody on the other side doing something worse.

                                              It’s the same reason I cringe when I see somebody suggest that the only reason the other guy is so mad about Barack Obama is that he’s black or Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. Sure, that could be part of it and it is for a lot of people. But playing that game doesn’t do much except get people high fives among their tribe.

                                              “Are you sure you don’t just think that because you’re a bigot?” is perhaps slightly better than, “Are you sure you don’t think that because you’re a PMSing overly emotional woman?” but not a whole lot better in terms of the buttons it pushes. Both usually just lead to the reaction, “Of course not. I can list a bunch reasons why I think that because I’m a rational, thinking person and not a cartoon.”

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                                              • This has been a great discussion! I won’t add much because it’s becoming clear to me that we all want more-or-less the same outcomes and we’re just arguing over whether the response dial should be subtly more in the direction of anti-bigotry or anti-anti-bigory. I think everyone values both of these things and understands the pros and cons of going too far in either direction.

                                                One point I wanted to circle back to is whether we can look at the culture and get a sense of where the dial is. On the one hand, people with marginal views are pretty much always saying “there’s more of us than you think, and you better start recognizing us or you won’t like what comes next” and then shuffling off the mortal coil. On the other hand, sometimes they’re right. The possible inflection point right now is the rise of Trump, and the hypotheses on the table are:

                                                A) The right has been too permissive of fring-ey bigotry and hasn’t explicitly told it’s fringe elements to pound sand. Trump mainlining the bigotry didn’t repulse Republican voters because it’s not all that different from the concepts they’re used to, just said with feeling.

                                                B) The left has been too aggressive against moderate views they disagree with, lumping them in with the extreme out of short-sighted opportunism. Now that they’re crying wolf for real on Trump, the once-powerful language of “racism” and “bigotry” no longer has any force. Lots of folks felt like they didn’t have a voice and now they do, and they’re willing to flirt with Trump’s dangerous egoism if it means that voice keeps shouting.

                                                First, is this a fair characterization of the two positions? Second, can we make some predictions about the future that will invalidate one of these positions? For example, if Trump has unusually high Democrat support in the general that would be evidence for model (B).

                                                ~~
                                                * BTW, I love this expression “It goes straight to /dev/null” and am trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my conversations without people looking at me funny.

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                                                • First, is this a fair characterization of the two positions?

                                                  I think that’s a fair characterization of the two positions, but I also don’t think that they’re mutually exclusive (or at least that one being more true makes the other less true). Stated on their own, I’d agree pretty strongly with both of them.

                                                  Second, can we make some predictions about the future that will invalidate one of these positions?

                                                  This is a very, very good way of looking at the world and I wish more people did it. As I said above, I think that both positions and they might need separate tests. Higher than average democratic support for Trump is an interesting one because I think it’s likely to happen but I’m not 100% sure what it will mean. A battle between Clinton and Trump is as likely to be seen by a lot of swing voters as a battle between insiders and outsiders as it is to be about any particular ideology. I think that’s why we have a lot of people picking both Sanders and Trump over Clinton, even though it makes almost no sense from an ideological perspective.

                                                  If I wanted to measure the effect of overheated rhetoric from the left, I’m not sure leftists defecting to the right would be a strong indicator. In fact, I don’t know what kind of broad statistics would be a good test. I’ll have to think about that.

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                                                • “The right has been too permissive of fring-ey bigotry and hasn’t explicitly told it’s fringe elements to pound sand.”

                                                  When we pointed out, in 2003, that anti-war protests always seemed to have a notable contingent of pro-Palestinian and overtly Marxist groups and a sizeable helping of “9/11 was an inside job” (along with a whole dog’s breakfast of other issues), we were told that pointing to the fringe elements of a movement was a disingenuous attempt at derailing the discussion from the actual point which was about how awful war was.

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                                    • And this is why it would help to have specific examples where folks on the margins were shunned in such a way.

                                      As of right now, culturally speaking, I think the “racist accusations are baseless!” crowd is winning the debate, mostly by attrition. They’ve just worn everyone out. It’s too much work to engage the topic, and DD is a prime example.

                                      Which I think is the goal of the exercise.

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                        • They either will or they won’t.

                          If you don’t care which they do, why say anything at all?

                          It seems kind of strange to want to make an argument, but stop short of wanting to make a convincing argument–especially when that more convincing argument is also more accurate.

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                          • If you don’t care which they do, why say anything at all?

                            There are a lot of different things to want and some of them are in conflict with each other.

                            “Um… guys? This is going to break.”
                            “Shut up and color.”
                            “Okay, fine.”
                            (time passes)
                            “Um… guys? This is seriously getting worse. I’m noticing things and they’re unpleasant.”
                            “What is wrong with you? Why would you even say that out loud? You some kind of bad person?”
                            “Sorry, I’ll get back to coloring.”
                            “You’d better.”

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      • What Jay might have meant is that methods used to previously keep white nationalism in check are no longer going to work. The Republicans might have been able to use dog whistles but they still had to use dog whistles. Trump is now using plain English rather than dog whistles.

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        • That is totally unheard of. Politicians haven’t been saying “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” since, what, 1963. And no one has been saying publicly that black people “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager” since 1987. And Pat Buchanan never said in so many words that there are too many Jews on the Supreme Court.

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          • This assumes dog whistles can only be distinguished from regular ones by hearing them with a dog’s ears. But that isn’t true even of actual dog whistles.

            If an acoustic engineer (having disassembled a whistle and examined its parts) or a veterinarian (having observed some dogs’ reaction to the whistle) declares “This object is a dog whistle”, does that make him a dog?

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          • Art Deco is half right, but he doesn’t complete the thought.

            The dog whistle analogy is just plain stupid. That’s not how dog whistles work.

            The “dog whistle” metaphor, however, is spectacularly successful in that it allows just the point that Lenoxus makes. It allows progressives to feel particularly clued in to decoding something that was never coded in the first place.

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                • I agree with you that our coded language detectors are way too sensitive, but I don’t think the purpose of coded language is secrecy. If a politician uses coded language, I think the reason is more likely to be deniability.

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            • Fred Clark had a good post on this very topic last week.

              There are true “dog whistles”, but they’re far from a majority of things described with that name. The example Clark used was when a Bush speechwriter used a phrase with a specific connotation to Evangelical Christians. To most of his audience, it was just a turn of phrase, but to a specific subset, it had greater meaning. We do things like this all the time with pop-culture in-jokes.

              There’s another class of phrases – Clark’s post used the phrase “dog farts” – as in “wasn’t me that just farted, it was the dog” – to distinguish them from “dog whistles”. They’re not coded in any way to hide the meaning, since everyone gets the subtext. They’re coded for plausible deniability if you get called on it (“I’m not a racist, praising Cam Newton’s raw instinctive athleticism was a compliment!”).

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          • OH!

            Well, to be serious for a moment, I read Damon’s clause “just getting started” as referring to “a rejection of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness”.

            Then when I said “In the short run, it probably is a good idea to conflate the legitimate criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness with white identitarianism” and your response was “White nationalism is just getting started?”, I thought that you were deliberately conflating the legitimate criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness with white identitarianism.

            Which was funny.

            Or would have been.

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            • “I read Damon’s clause “just getting started” as referring to “a rejection of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness”.” Yes, and also a general up swelling of disenfranchised folk lusting for “payback”. And by payback I mean, at the end, a pogrom where they attempt to “take back their country”.

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    • I doubt that anyone who saw the initial and then ongoing reaction to Obama’s candidacy and election (and reelection) doubted the likelihood of a backlash. Add to this that over the last two years, loud and ultimately influential social and protest movements have emerged in response to racism, to go with the amplification of previously marginalized voices by social media, and the increasing reliance on minority voters by Democrats, and that likelihood turns to inevitability.

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    • Well look, it seems to me that we’re seeing a number of things here on the right.
      There’s doubtlessly a portion of this attributable to social left overreach and excesses. Twitter mobbing pizzerias, diving for the fainting couch over microagressions etc… There’s also doubtlessly a portion of this attributable for naked sore loserism: the social right has flat out lost some huge fronts on the culture war and that stings like hell and on top of that they’re pretty keenly becoming aware they’ve been played for chumps by the right wing elite, that’s gonna need some venting. There’s probably also some of the sort of in-between stuff where the right is losing previous unfair assumptions and privileges. If you’re accustomed to those being reduced to parity sure feels like aggression.

      Now of those three things only the first one is a serious problem the left needs to fret over. The other two are basically stuff that the right has to and eventually will get over or will sort out internally. Your social lefties can’t do much about the latter two except turning the clock back and we all know that ain’t happening. Now since the overreach issue is itself kind of a two parter, one part college students being idiots and one part genuine aggrieved subgroups of minorities trying to (rightfully) be included in the protections the social left has gained, there’s a lot of caution called for in how much you try and tamp down on that. It’s a ticklish thing.

      What I’m very skeptical of is that the level of lefty overreach is anywhere enough to spur a genuine mass backlash. If you look at Obergfell, for instance, you don’t hear or see the kind of retrenchment you saw with Roe vs Wade; instead you mostly hear the former opponents bemoaning that all is lost and fretting over if any crumbs can be salvaged from the ruin. The whole gays forcing people to bake them cakes etc… thing seems to be fizzling out; mostly it doesn’t look like enough hated minorities care enough to buy cakes etc from Christians to make this a big hopping live issue. The whole overreach thing is, however a genuine issue of complaint by the Trump insurgents that the right wing elite has no problem with so it gets trumpeted and elevated and shouted from the rooftops making it seem like a bigger part of the right wing revolt than I think it really is.

      This isn’t, however, a call for complacency. If the overreach isn’t at the level where it’s a serious problem now it certainly could become that way if not watched. I’d start worrying, for instance, if the college idiocy actually managed to sustain itself anywhere not on a campus or on twitter. So far, though, I’m not seeing it.

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      • Well, there are as many different flavors of the “right” as there are of the “left” and the only thing that unites most of them with each other are the whole “the outgroup of my outgroup is my ingroup” bundling which, lemme tell ya, is no way to maintain a long-term coalition.

        Just as anti-Communists led to anti-anti-Communists (and those led to anti-anti-anti-Communists, who led to quadanti-Communists, and so on), we’re in some weird anti-anti-anti-racists vs. anti-anti-racists dynamics.

        And once you get enough antis in there, it’s got nothing to do with Communism or racism or whatever anymore.

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        • For sure, but I suspect that once you have more than one anti involved the numbers of people we’re talking about drop well below the level where they’re significant on a societal level. We’re still adjusting, I think, to the way the internet and the internet media magnifies small voices into loud ones.

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          • the numbers of people we’re talking about drop well below the level where they’re significant on a societal level

            This is where the internet makes things interesting. Changes/ideas/memes that used to take decades to make it through the culture to the normies now take months.

            Thanks to twitter, it might even take weeks now.

            The insignificant have somehow found themselves with a seriously outsized significance.

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            • For sure, but in addition to their memes racing with wildfire swiftness to cultural prominence they also gutter into ashes with wildfire swiftness replaced with yet more memes.

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              • their memes racing with wildfire swiftness to cultural prominence they also gutter into ashes with wildfire swiftness replaced with yet more memes

                My intuition is to say that this is a lot more likely to result in some weird conservatism than not due to the exhaustion of having to learn new taboos and totems every 15 minutes lest you have to deal with someone offended on behalf of some other theoretical person.

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      • Agreed. From my perspective, all the complaints about “overreach” — cuz overly zealous college students are behaving as young and passionate people have always behaved — seem just preposterous. After all, I guess I’m “overreaching” each time I take a pee in a public restroom.

        What I mean is, actually being a member of a hated minority kinda shapes my view on this. For example, I might want to get into a car and drive cross country — cuz I’m a citizen too you fuckers — and know I’ll be able to stop in any motel or roadside restaurant and be served like any other person.

        Like, we can all imagine road-trip scenarios where we stop in some diner and an evil biker gang shows up and terrorizes someone. Whatever. That shit happens in the movies.

        (Anyway I’d do better with the biker gang than a bunch of drunk, pissed off rednecks.)

        But in real life I might take a work trip to some flat and dismal southern state, and do I want to deal with these fuckers or with this fucker?

        Overreach? Give me a fucking break. The “right” is out of control with stupid hate.

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        • I know you guys are joking — and sure human waste is funny. But these are actual laws people are trying to pass. Thus it’s kind of a big deal to me. Even if something like this never makes it far in Massachusetts, I’m a US citizen. Should I be blocked from the State of Alabama cuz they hate me there? What about my sisters who live in such places?

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          • Out of curiosity, is there any non-zero number of people who disagree with you that have points that are held in something approaching good faith that should have these points addressed before they should be expected to change?

            If there aren’t, I’ll suggest that what we need to do is pass a law and wait for the bigots to die.

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            • — Well there is the “some women feel uncomfortable” line, except that line works just as well against any distinct minority who live with stigma. So that doesn’t get far.

              There is the “men will just say they’re trans” thing, which I guess might happen. On the other hand, so what? If a woman goes peeking over bathroom stalls, well at some point she should be arrested for being a “peeping Peggy.” Same for trans folks. I mean, even if it’s not a crime for cis dudes to enter the women’s room, what will their friends and family think? I dunno. Certainly trans women deserve to use the facilities without suspicion or harassment. Cis men — I dunno. I’m clearly and obviously not a cis man.

              Yes this is tricky.

              For example, in a school situation, if some boy wants to say he’s a trans girl — but he’s full of shit and just wants to use the girl’s locker room. Okay, except now he has to tell the school and take “she” pronouns and live his day-to-day as a trans girl. Is a guy going to do that just for a panty raid?

              I dunno. That sounds like a tricky situation for school administrators. On the other hand, real trans girls exist. If a kid insists they have a cross gender identity, it can be amazing to let them explore that.

              If she then acts like a freak in the bathroom, treat it as a normal discipline problem.

              Of course, how easy it will be for bigots to lie about that girl. Welcome to hell.

              I know for me to change my gender marker with social security, it required I have a doctor’s note that asserted I have a “persistent gender identity” as a woman. It wouldn’t surprise me if schools require something similar. Maybe a talk with a school-appointed psych would be enough. ‘Cept right-wing school administrators would select trans-hostile psychs.

              And the kids who cannot get their parents to cooperate — god help them. Being a queer kid can be hell.

              Sooner or later, some trans woman will do something bad in a restroom, just as from time to time a cis woman does something bad in a restroom. However, unlike any number of cis women doing shit, you will hear about this. So anyway, this hasn’t really happened yet — although there seem to be some ginned up stories that come from right-wing activists. So far nothing has been solid.

              Give it time. We’re humans, just like everyone else.

              Regarding passing a law, yeah we need stuff at the federal level. So sure. I’m all for that.

              Waiting for the bigots to die? I mean, how old are these goose-stepping motherfuckers flocking to Trump? Weren’t they supposed to start dying out after Civil Rights passed?

              I’m waiting. Please die faster you hateful fucks.

              #####

              Anyway, blah blah blah. I honestly don’t mind a few jokes, cuz sometimes you just gotta laugh. But still, it seemed like my comment was turning into nothing but jokes. Which, for me it’s pretty serious.

              That video with that redneck guy promising to kick someone’s ass if he finds her in the restroom — that fucker is real. He seems the type who would really do it, or at least terrorize the woman. That shit is actually-for-real scary.

              Which, sooner or later, I’m gonna run into a fucker like that. They’re less common in Boston, but even here they exist.

              blah

              When I transitioned, I resigned myself to the real possibility of being murdered. So yeah. If it happens, I hope it goes down fast. I don’t wanna suffer. I don’t wanna die in fear.

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              • Veronica, a question: If I were suddenly to gain magical policy powers and you were appointed spokes lady for the Trans community what would your ask be policy wise? Assume I could wave my hand and enact any local, state or federal laws and policies I choose but I have zero power over hearts/minds. What would you describe the ideal suite of Trans friendly policies to be?

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                • — All this at the federal level:

                  1. Uniform requirement that trans people be able to update gender markers on all public documents, in particular but not only birth certificates. There must be no requirements of surgery. If hormonal transition is required, then allowances must be made for medical exceptions. Not everyone is healthy enough for hormonal transition. Such people must still be afforded legal transition.

                  States must further make available one or more “non-binary/queer/fluid” type gender marker. Not everyone wishes to declare as male or female. This should be allowed.

                  (And no, I don’t know which bathroom such people should use. That’s a long conversation. I just know which bathroom I should use.)

                  These document changes must provided at low cost for needy. Gender transition cannot be a luxury for the middle class.

                  2. A requirement that insurance companies treat the standard medical and surgical interventions for gender transition as “non elective,” which is consistent with the recommendations of the AMA, the APA, and various other medical/psychological organizations.

                  The same for medicare/medicaid and so on. (I think this is already the case.)

                  3. All the expected employment non-discrimination laws, along with public accommodation laws. Obviously this should apply to public bathroom and shower facilities.

                  The shower facilities part might need to be phased in, although in practice I don’t think it would cause real harm to do it quickly. In any case, I think nearly everyone would prefer private enclosures in such facilities. Did anyone here actually enjoy common shower areas?

                  (In the end the cis will thank us.)

                  Not directly about trans people, but overlapping with some of most vulnerable:

                  4. Full decriminalization of sex work.

                  Add to this various not-laws-but-policy type things (much of this feels “state level” to me, although I’d like to see federal leadership, especially helping the dismal states keep up):

                  5. A greater emphasis on prevention and treatment for HIV among trans women. We seem to get overlooked by programs that focus on MSM. We’re different from them. Likewise, many programs that focus on female sex workers tend to be cis-normative. The latter often assume trans women are getting treated by the former. We are not.

                  6. Similarly, many standard anti-poverty efforts can help us, but often we fall through bureaucratic cracks, insofar as they can’t fit us into their gendered ideas. I think certain kinds of “mandate” efforts might help, but it is a deep problem.

                  7. Gender variant kids are particularly vulnerable to bullying. We need more specific anti-bullying programs. School should be safe for LGBT kids.

                  8. Various training programs for law enforcement, customs agents, DHS folks, about the reality of trans people. There are ways to treat us with dignity, but it must be taught.

                  I’m sure I could think of others, but these are the major things.

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                  • Thank you kindly; I very much appreciate your indulging me. I have some Trans acquaintances and some possibly Trans goddesses (long story) but no Trans friends to chat politics with except (maybe) here.

                    So looking down your list in my mind numbers 1, 5, 6, 7&8 would have basically zero overlap or impact on cis people, like they’d have to go researching to even find out these policies existed.

                    Policies 2 and 3 would have some slight impact on straight people. For #2 maybe there’d be some cost but c’mon Trans people are a really small minority so I can’t imagine it’d really impact the actuarial pools very much and #3 would be noticeable but outside of some gay buddies of mine who’d bemoan public showers vanishing I can’t imagine anyone else would be particularly exercised at the idea of private stalls. I imagine you’d end up with just some private stalls at first and a public area, it’d probably be gradual.

                    Then #4 would be highly noticeable but is simultaneously so universally applicable and salient that no one would notice it’s impact on Trans people because they’d be so busy being fascinated by the implications for cis people.

                    Now my point of my really self centered analysis of your very excellent list is that Trans people getting something near a whole loaf policy wise would just -barely- lap at the beaches of consciousness on your average cis person’s life. So ya gotta ask what the fishing fish is their problem with that? One doesn’t raise the banner and scream “social justice oppression” because someone else can shower or have medical procedures in peace.

                    And I think that’s why Trumpkins screaming about social aggression or the pants wetting right wing elite blaming their ills on mean ol’ Liberals forcing their social policies always provokes such an instinctive eye roll for me. I mean I know that it’s possible to overreach. I have gay friends who think we should go after religious tax exemptions, beat down the church doors to force inclusion in the laity, try and shred the accreditation of religious schools and that like but they’re a ravishingly small minority and there’s no appetite in the political liberal left that I see for such nonsense.

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                    • On the insurance cost, I haven’t seen the actual numbers (nor would I be able to understand them if I did), but it is said that the extra cost to my employer to add trans coverage to our insurance was less than a penny per year per employee.

                      Trans women are weirdly and preposterously well represented in software engineering, so I doubt it would be even that much population wide. People likely spend more money in their dumb political fights against us.

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                    • A few more thoughts.

                      On the anti-bullying programs, Evangelical groups reflexively oppose including LGBT under any anti-bullying umbrella, under the theory that Christian kids should be allowed to aggressively proselytize to fellow students during school. In this case “proselytize” means to aggressively threaten the LGBT kids with hell. This then gets included under “bullying” (as it should).

                      I think there is a “captive audience” issue here. In any case, it makes clear the levels of raw malice at play.

                      On communal showers, I don’t think individual showers should be mandated. Instead, I think our access to equal treatment should be mandated, which means I can use the same facilities as cis women.

                      Okay, but the reality is there is no way in hell I’m going naked in a communal space with a bunch of random cis women. Nor do I think many cis women would necessarily want me to. But it is not just me. Many people have body image issues. We want to show our bodies on our own terms, to whom we wish. Nor does everyone want to see every body.

                      In other words, my legal right to use the communal space is very different from anyone’s comfort. Private or semi-private showers obviously make this much easier.

                      My employer, for example, has an on campus fitness room, which has changing rooms with showers. In the women’s changing room, there are private stalls. (I have no idea what the men’s is like.) This is very helpful.

                      That said, if some gay culture space wants to keep the communal showers — well why the heck not. Obviously some men will not be comfortable, but that is already the case. I’m sure the other men will have a gay ol’ time (she says with a grin). No reason to stop.

                      If some trans dude wanders in, well, treat the dude with respect and dignity. He might be feeling pretty self-conscious. Which, it is a chance for each of us to be awesome to each other.

                      Anyway, I dunno. Trans men might feel very differently. Gay trans guys often get treated like shit in gay spaces. Blah.

                      #####

                      Stepping outside the normal showers discussion, a notable lesbian sex organization in an east coast city had, for a while, a policy that trans women could participate in parties, but could only be naked in certain rooms. This was done so that cis women who did not want to see naked trans women could stay in the other rooms. However, as these things go, the trans-accepting rooms were off to the side, which really left the trans women feeling pretty marginal. They would have to don garments to move freely through the space, which cis women did not have to do. Anyhow, they eventually changed the policy. Now trans women move freely. I’m sure some people felt mildly awkward at first, but over time you get used to things. Nothing bad happened.

                      The groups I participate in have always been totally trans open. Which obviously. They let me in. Being at a party where trans women move freely among cis women, doing all sorts of remarkable things — it’s a powerful thing to witness. (Too bad I’m still too uncomfortable to be so free. I’m working on it.)

                      Anyway, obviously sex parties are rather outré. But on the other hand, they are high-trust, high-intimacy spaces. Next to that showers seem a cake walk.

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              • Well, you’re stuck with the fact that the majority (perhaps even the vast majority) of folks out there have never met someone like you and so their experience of people like you is limited to what they have heard from others or, maybe, research they’ve done on their own.

                Unfortunately, the research they’ve done on their own is a lot more likely to be prurient than not.

                And, odds are, the others that they might hear from are going to be in the same situation of never having met someone like you and so only having to hear from others about you or from their own research.

                Which means that you are either stuck. You will meet thousands of people who will never have met someone like you… while you will be the first person like you that they’ve ever met.

                And you’re going to carry the load of having to be exemplary while they will be able to be just as ignorant as they’ve always been.

                I suppose it’s good that there are more and more people out there (like me, I guess) who have met someone like you before and are able to say something like “hey, wait, it’s not like that” to the ignorant people out there who only had each other (or their own research) to rely on.

                I wish the world were not this way. That said, the difference seems to be between it being hard and happening sooner and it being hard and happening later.

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                • — You realize that you come across as presumptuous, right? I mean, I know you mean well. I’m not angry or anything. But imagine explaining in tedious detail to a person who has lived for years in a wheelchair what you imagine being in a wheelchair must be like. It’s not that you’re entirely wrong. But duh. Yeah, I’m a misunderstood and hated minority. I picked up on that after the first few times someone screamed at me or assaulted me or spat on me. Or after the first few crappy news articles about gals like me. Or after the first few dozen time I “read the comments.”

                  Blah blah blah. I could go on. The point is, I fucking get it. It’s boring. People will either help or they will not help. Banal and obvious non-insights ain’t worth shit.

                  Sorry. On the whole I have a pretty favorable opinion of you as a human being. But I had to say it.

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                  • I wasn’t trying to focus on what being in a wheelchair would be like.

                    I was trying to focus on the whole “being someone who has never met someone who lived in a wheelchair” thing and imagining what it would take to get me to change my mind about the wheelchair bound.

                    In any case, I apologize for any offense. I was trying to communicate empathy.

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                    • Living in a wheelchair is one manageable thing.

                      Having substantial quantities of the people around you fail to understand that you are in fact a human being with substantial mental powers… that’s a different thing. Constantly having your friends addressed as if they were your keepers?… oyvai.

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                • Well, you’re stuck with the fact that the majority (perhaps even the vast majority) of folks out there have never met someone like you and so their experience of people like you is limited to what they have heard from others or, maybe, research they’ve done on their own.

                  Or movies and TV shows, and unfortunately the “hip trans friend” is not yet a thing.

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              • For example, in a school situation, if some boy wants to say he’s a trans girl — but he’s full of shit and just wants to use the girl’s locker room. Okay, except now he has to tell the school and take “she” pronouns and live his day-to-day as a trans girl. Is a guy going to do that just for a panty raid?

                Odd thought — if society becomes increasingly tolerant of genderfluidity (as one hopes), maybe he would consider it a small price to pay?

                Except such a society is probably also one where getting your rocks off by being in the wrong locker room could feel creepy even to the creep himself, and in an antiquated way, like putting on blackface. (“Wait a minute, I’m getting a sexual thrill from being in the other gender’s space — when did I become grandpa?”)

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                    • Compared to the social costs of forcing women to accept that people they see as men are going to come into their locker rooms and watch them take off their clothes?

                      There will be costs one way or another. Seems to me that breaking away from the notion of group bathroom facilities has less cost than the other ideas.

                      (Incidentally, I don’t consider “screw you trans people, live your biological birth gender” to be an acceptable option.)

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                      • Compared to the social costs of forcing women to accept that people they see as men are going to come into their locker rooms and watch them take off their clothes?

                        When did liberals start to care about “social costs?” They seem to be intent on using the federal courts for their social engineering and let everyone else “get over it.” Just like they did with gay marriage.

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        • Well the right stoked these fires hotter and hotter for power and profit for about a decade. Now suddenly all the seals on the furnace are melting and they’re getting devoured by their own monster. I honestly do recall wondering what it’d look like if the base of the right ever stopped caring so much about culture war stuff and started looking at the economics. Now we know but ironically they didn’t so much abandon the culture war hatreds as simply add their economic grievances onto them. So we now have this horde of people who despise their right for economic reasons but still despise the left for cultural ones. Can the American binary become a triad? I wonder how many actual souls make up what we consider the traditional libertarian economic/conservative right and I wonder if we’re looking not at a change of the game but replacement of one of the players.

          And it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than bathroom freakouts to distract the masses I think. I mean what the hell does the tiny minority of people that make up the Trans community want that’s so galling to the majority? To go to the bathroom they want and not get attacked in public? How do you gin up that much outrage on the subject?

          But yeah, I mean I am heavily sympathetic to Chait’s kvetching about PC run amok (and the fact that Freddie comes to the same place and hates himself for it suggests that on campus it’s a serious issue) but unless I see that very fragile breed of PC escape the academy hothouse and accomplish something in the real world I’m going to be viewing claims of overreach with a significant amount of skepticism.

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          • Well the right stoked these fires hotter and hotter for power and profit for about a decade. Now suddenly all the seals on the furnace are melting and they’re getting devoured by their own monster. I honestly do recall wondering what it’d look like if the base of the right ever stopped caring so much about culture war stuff and started looking at the economics.

            You all had various objects, and people resisted those objects. If the contention over school curricula or matrimonial law bothers you, you could have elected to leave both alone.

            You generally get your way via fraudulent court decrees.

            I realize you people fancy you’re the only people in the world who have any legitimate preferences, but you might work to make it a tad less obvious.

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            • Except Art, granting for the sake of argument the fraudulent canard, you and I both know that Obergfell was more a trailing indicator than a leading one. The Anti-SSM movement was sputtering on fumes well before that and even the Anti-SSM leaders flat out admit now that in terms of secular arguments to lay out in court they had nothing. They also note, truthfully, that the public in general doesn’t seem to give a flip about gays getting legally married. Do we see a post Roe v Wade anti SSM surge building? Of course we don’t. Probably because gays getting married barely effects straights at all.

              Now I understand that the whole culture war angle of the Trumpening is the preferred right wing talking point because it’s something the whole of the right can line up and hate on in happy comity but we all can see that the culture war bit is a tiny hat perched on the insurrection we’re talking about.

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      • Well, given that its already deeply entrenched itself in colleges (especially public ones) is bad enough. Whaever we say about private institutions, we expect state institutions to be more neutral. The almost gleefully vicious leftism in the social sciences (viz the diagnosis of conservatism as a mental health disorder) is, I think, a worrisome phenomenon.

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          • I recall a couple dumb papers being released about this kind of thing. Basically it’s all variations of “conservative minds are borked this way, while liberal minds are wonderfully open this other way.” Blah blah blah. No one denies that liberal/progressive thought has better penetration in the academy. It doesn’t bother me much.

            Speaking as someone who is actually in the DSM, Murali is being histrionic.

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            • George Lakoff? Yeah, it’s a shame when someone with real ability and credentials in a fascinating area of academia (professor of Linguistics at Berkeley) decides to become a professional wanker. Joh Yoo is another one (alas, my poor alma mater.) The crap he writes as a right-wing columnist displays as much knowledge of the law as a Sean Hannity rant.

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            • The only actual data I’ve seen with any traction are some of the things referenced here.

              Beneath the layers of pop psychology, it basically boils down to “conservatives react more viscerally (e.g. with a disgust reaction) than liberals do to being presented with things they don’t like”, and “conservatives tend to have a negative reaction when presented with new information, and liberals tend positive”.

              Or in other words, conservatives react like they’re conservative and liberals react like they’re liberal.

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      • For your readership here, your quotation of articles in Chronicles (paid circulation about 12,000) about people who manage to be less consequential than the staff of the Rockford Institute, is a point of departure for a discussion of ordinary political disputes.

        You might ask yourself why it is that when you people start talking about Jared Taylor, et al you end up free associating about Richard Nixon or Ted Cruz. Hint: it has absolutely nothing to do with anything Nixon or Cruz ever advocated or practiced.

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        • I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t see much of a link between Spencer/Taylor and Nixon/Cruz. Different strands of thought as far as I can see.

          Radical ideas are simply more interesting than that run-a-day rat race of politics. If the ideas discussed here really are so outside of the realm of the right you identify with, it shouldn’t bother you much that some nerds are sitting around discussing those fringe groups. I sure don’t get my panties in a knot when right wing websites jump on the commie groups that appear at left-wing rallies.

          As for circulation numbers, the same can be said of National Review (and has been mentioned by Trump and fans). That doesn’t mean that magazine does not have influence and sway over portions of political community. Heck, trotskyite groups have always been tiny in size here in the US, but some of them have had significant impact on the development of political ideas/actions (at least when compared to the size of their rosters).

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          • No, National Review has a circulation which exceeds that of Chronicles by a factor of about 13. Electorally, the conventional right typified by National Review exceeds in its dimensions the dissident sorts typified by Chronicles by a factor of about 8, and the popular analogue to Chonicles tends to be much more libertarian in its inclinations. There is no popular analogue to Jared Taylor’s crew. They’re hobbyists.

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  8. Do people serious think the alt-right et al will seriously ever have poltical power in America or in any part of it? That is, in a way that distinguishes itself from the subtle or not so so subtle racism that American poltics has exhibited since American poltics started?

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      • But like Mike S said elsewhere, they’re not particulalry new. How virulent can a virus be that’s already been in the body poltic for the entirety of its existence?

        It’s the flip side of not being past racism. We’re not past racism, so I’m not really concerned about a minority of a minority that thinks we can or should turn back the clock to the 1920s. You can’t get there from here.

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        • What’s particularly new is the internet and its ability to match people up with each other.

          It ain’t just commies and libertarians using this stuff now.

          And, of course, how the alt-right isn’t merely composed of white identitarianism but some fairly interesting criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness but I suppose that that’s besides the point.

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          • Are the deep and serious thinkers on the alt-right trying to distinguish themselves from the racists? Because, it’s like John Lennon sang:

            If you go around sounding exactly like David Duke
            You ain’t gonna look like you’re much but a racist kook

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            • Imagine someone supporting Bernie. A Berniebro, let’s say.
              Imagine someone else finding out that this Berniebro calls himself a Marxist.
              Imagine this someone else demanding that our Berniebro denounce Lenin, Mao, and the Holodomor.

              Or, I suppose, merely expecting our Berniebro to distinguish himself from the other folks who have called themselves Marxists in the past (and, yes, in the present).

              To answer your question, as far as I can tell, their attitude is something to the effect of “Instead of addressing my ideas, you’re playing a goddamn game in trying to make me sing a goddamn song and I know from experience that we’re going to end up with you calling me a racist anyway. I ain’t gonna play your game and I ain’t gonna sing your song.”

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              • The analogy isn’t that one of your supporters calls himself a Marxist, it’s that your oft-stated belief is that the Gulag was a good thing and we need one ourselves, and that if you don’t think we need concentration camps too you’re a squish.

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                • And if we keep conflating a rejection of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness with the argument that the holocaust didn’t happen but it should have, then it’s likely that someone in the conversation will eventually tire of the game of “deal with this argument that you haven’t rejected yet… now deal with this one… now deal with this one…” instead of discussing the criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness.

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              • Right, and that response would be an epic overreaction. I’ve had this conversation with Marxists. If anything they are eager to clear the air and distance themselves from communism. Here‘s a profile I just read this morning where the editor of Jacobin goes out of his way to distinguish his vision from Mao and Stalin. It’s not difficult. And if the guy had instead stomped his foot and said “I won’t play your game” it would have been counterproductive to the very cause he’s espousing. I just don’t understand this victimhood about distancing yourself from people who share similar guiding principles to yours.

                Actually, I think the analogy you’re looking for is asking a Muslim to distance themselves from terrorism. That is a demand based on appearance – you look like those guys, and you both call your God Allah, so show me you don’t support murder. Demands based on similar appearance are obviously different than demands based on shared guiding principles (as a counter-example, there’s nothing wrong with asking a Salafi jihadist to distance themselves from terrorism). So people with similar *ideas* to white supremacists are wrapping themselves around the victimhood of *appearance*-based discrimination. Which makes me more convinced that this is about lowering the expectations for a certain set of transgressive ideas and not about furthering dialog.

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                • Which makes me more convinced that this is about lowering the expectations for a certain set of transgressive ideas and not about furthering dialog.

                  If we agree that there is no need to discuss transgressive ideas due to how they are transgressive, no problem.

                  They didn’t kill Cassandra quickly enough, if you ask me.

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                  • I’m not sure where you’re getting that. This thread has been about how people whose ideas sound like white-supremacy should not have to do things that people whose ideas sound like Maoism voluntarily do all the time. Out of everyone here only you have claimed that certain topics of discussion should be off limits because they’ll likely lead to a person “tiring of the game”.

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                    • Out of everyone here only you have claimed that certain topics of discussion should be off limits because they’ll likely lead to a person “tiring of the game”.

                      Oh, is that what I’m doing?

                      Sorry. I’ll stop.

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                      • Another victim of liberal fascism! Or, I don’t know, you could actually substantiate your views. When someone says “here are things I don’t understand about your positions, here are some counter-examples” it’s honestly quite weird to respond with “stop telling me to shut up!”.

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                        • I don’t see “that idea is transgressive!” as a counter-argument.

                          “That idea is wrong” is a counter-argument. “Your conclusions rely rather heavily on a lot of slippery slopes” is a counter-argument.

                          “If you want to criticize modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness, I’m going to have to ask you to denounce the 1488 crowd first”, eh.

                          Sure. I denounce them.

                          “DENOUNCE THEM HARDER! MAKE ME BELIEVE IT!”

                          Eh.

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                          • At this point I have no idea what you’re talking about, which usually means I’ve been unclear. Let me restate my position:

                            You are arguing that people whose transgressive ideas are similar to white-supremacy are asked to denounce white-supremacy. You are further implying that this is bad: because it makes them less likely to engage in the debate and less likely that real flaws in society will be identified (this is the point of the bridge analogy, right? that it’s a bad thing if the bridge collapses). I am arguing that these people are not being asked to do anything different from other people (Marxists) who have transgressive views that sound similar to rejected ideas (Maosim). That, in fact, Marxists eagerly distance themselves from Maoists because it is good for their cause and for the dialog to do so. My counterpoint is that this is not an attempt to improve the discourse and find cracks in the bridge, but an attempt to set a softer standard for one type of transgressive idea (the non-Marxist type).

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                            • It’s more that I am arguing that there are serious criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness. I am acknowledging that some of these serious criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness are shared by white supremacists and other very, very bad people.

                              I am also saying that a very, very good way to not address these criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness is to point out that some of these criticisms are shared by white supremacists and other very, very bad people. This turns the topic into white supremacists and the other very, very bad people rather than the criticisms.

                              And I merely pointed out that there are people who are going to be sick of being asked to change the subject away from the criticism to the topic of the white supremacists and the other very, very bad people.

                              I suppose I could add a bit about how, in practice, this will be turned into a discussion of how anyone who is willing to acknowledge these criticisms as existing independently of white supremacy will be challenged about whether they ought to be arguing about white supremacy to the point where it’s bad if they want to stop arguing even about their criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness in the first place in order to do so.

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                              • I am also saying that a very, very good way to not address these criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness is to point out that some of these criticisms are shared by white supremacists and other very, very bad people. This turns the topic into white supremacists and the other very, very bad people rather than the criticisms.

                                And I’ve provided examples – both in personal conversations and in the Jacobin article – where this didn’t happen. The challenge did not lead to a discussion of the rejected idea. In fact did the opposite: it cleared the air, allowed for a more focused conversation, and eventually furthered the goals of the person being challenged.

                                A: “Imagine if Marxists were challenged about the holodomor”
                                B: “Marxists *do* get challenged about it, they are happy to reject it, and that leads to better discourse. Why should the anti-PC folks get special treatment?”
                                A: “So you think we shouldn’t discuss transgressive ideas, eh? I guess I’ll shut up then”

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                                • What if I found an example of some liberal type somewhere mockingly saying something like “Our standard rule is that liberals must perform a ritual denunciation of Stalin before anything they say can be taken seriously. Denouncing Saul Alinsky and Jimmy Carter can’t hurt either.”

                                  Would that demonstrate anything other than “both sides do it”? Would it do a good job of pointing out that the tactic of “before I listen to you, please talk about this other topic” is a fairly obvious rhetorical tactic?

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                                  • >>“before I listen to you, please talk about this other topic”

                                    Is that what we’re talking about? Because I don’t actually see how that would work outside of a thought experiment. I was under the impression we were discussing the tactic of “you said you believe X, that sounds a lot like X’ that those bad people believe, will you distinguish X from X’?” which is the example you provided with the Berniebro.

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                                      • Jaybird,

                                        If you’re saying that white supremacy, racism and bigotry may be on the rise and viewed as tolerable political expressions in our new reality, I don’t think (just guessing here) trizz would disagree.

                                        So I’m curious: what do you think he’s not aware of that this mini-thread is still alive? What’s the key point he’s missing? I’ve been reading along and can’t figure out what the disagreement between you two actually is.

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                                          • Hmmm. If that’s your point, I admit I’m unable to see that it’s relevant – causally, analytically, anyotherly.

                                            It’s a game that takes place at about four meta-levels above reality. I mean, sure, you can argue that liberals imposing ideologically self-serving litmus tests on conservative’s otherwise perfectly defensible beliefs is what’s driving neoreactionary sentiments. But I think that’s not only wrong, I think it trivializes neoreactionary views in ways they’d be utterly offended by. :)

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                                            • Well, going back into the start of the comments for this, it started with the whole issue of how, in my estimation, the alt-right has some seriously virulent (in the memetic sense of the word) beliefs. When asked how much effort they’re putting into distancing themselves from white supremacists, I pointed out that they’re not making much effort to.

                                              Which then turned into a discussion of whether or not it’s reasonable to expect them to do so.

                                              If we want to get back to the object level, I’d say that Trump Himself is a manifestation of too many folks being asked to recite the Nicene Creed once too many times.

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                                              • — There surely is an aspect of Trumpism that says, “Well, if I am damned for this small thing I may as well go all the way.” Sure. But so what? Saying abrasive, crass things is abrasive and crass, and I haven’t seen any gruop more perpetually butthurt than the dudebros made sad that people aren’t laughing at their racist jokes.

                                                Which, it is one thing to talk about the disaffected white working class. It is another to talk about the assholes who call me “tranny” on the subway.

                                                Which is all to say, there are non-horrible people willing to talk about this. For example, this.

                                                So far as I can see, Trumpism represents the worst of us. His world seems to be a collection of terrible people who should speak loudly so we can know who they are and avoid them.

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                                                • Which I think gets to trizzlor’s point: that viewing those beliefs as anything other than transgressive accords them a legitimacy they don’t deserve.

                                                  I mean, the people who hold those beliefs deserve recognition – and therefore legitimacy – insofar as they are part of the democratic process (if we restrict our discussion of these issues to the political). Which is a problem democracy doesn’t have a solution for, (other than the courts…).

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                                                  • Which I think gets to trizzlor’s point: that viewing those beliefs as anything other than transgressive accords them a legitimacy they don’t deserve.

                                                    Or at the very least it’s reasonable to ask them to distinguish their views from those that are outright beyond the pale. It’s good for democracy because it keeps a check between the alt and the genuinely amoral. And it’s good for the alt thinkers themselves because their argument is not misinterpreted and can be taken seriously.

                                                    I’ll grant Jaybird that a lot of people *feel* like they’ve been unfairly lumped in with white-supremacists, but I’ve yet to see any convincing evidence that this lumping is happening egregiously or unfairly, or what specific things the rest of us should do about it. Millions of people think they’re victims of anti-Christian discrimination because the store clerk says “Happy Holidays” now, too.

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                                                    • Well, given current events, we can ask: To what extent are people entitled to not have their cultures changed overly much?

                                                      To what extent are people entitled to tell immigrants “no, we don’t have to change… *YOU* have to change”?

                                                      To what extent are immigrants entitled to tell their new countries “You know what? No. *YOU* change.”?

                                                      How far into this conversation do you think we could get before the importance of communicating one’s own anti-colonialist bona fides would show up?

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                                                      • Well, I gave examples where I feel it’s appropriate to pause the conversation and make sure we’re all on the same page. Are those examples unrepresentative of the alt-right? Do you think such a pause would get in the way of figuring out if the bridge has cracks? To me it seems useful to – at some point in the conversation – figure out if the person I’m talking to thinks black bridges are inherently more likely to have cracks due to their nature (or if they’re parroting extensions of this view).

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                                                        • And I gave examples of the questions that I feel will quickly lead to people having to explain that they aren’t racist.

                                                          My questions are representative of the alt-right as well.

                                                          And, yes, neo-nazis ask these questions too.

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                                                          • I’ve lost track of what your thesis is and how these hypothetical conversations are supposed to confirm that thesis. Can I imagine these conversations going badly? Sure. Is that evidence that they routinely go badly in the way that you claim they do or that we should act differently? I don’t think so, and it’s not even clear to me what our alternative behavior would be.

                                                            FWIW, my thesis is: it’s good for everyone to ask Marxists to denounce Maoism; here is an example where it’s good for everyone (including the Marxists themselves). The same is true for the alt-right; here are some examples where the alt-right should be asked to denounce white-supremacy.

                                                            What would lead me to reconsider is evidence that this kind of lumping is routinely pushing well-intended people out of the conversation and that it is not pushing ill-intentioned people out of the conversation.

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                                                            • My suspicion is that well-intended people are being pushed into sympathy for ill-intentioned people and my evidence for that is Trump.

                                                              And we’re still in the place where I think he’ll get elected (and it won’t be close) and, I presume, you’re in the place where you see him getting not only stomped but swinging Senate to Hillary and doing great damage to the Republican foothold in the House).

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                                                              • Yeah, I think we’re about as different in our views on this as can be.

                                                                My pet theory is that Trump arose because we didn’t have *enough* pauses in the conversation: reasonable people talked about young thugs wilding in the streets; or the affirmative action president; or Islam death-cultism, or the hard truths about differences in IQ between ethnicities … and nobody made the record scratch. Any attempts at push-back were written off as PC or, worse, race hustling for profit. This is evidenced by how long it took for the conservative media to actually start calling out Trump for his egregious statements instead of pretending that he’s just like Obama. Even now – after David Duke, after “Islam hates us” – the GOP still can’t bring itself to call Trump a bigot. It’s hard-wired into their psyche that calling a white man a bigot is playing the race card. So I can’t get behind the idea that there’s too much tone-policing on the right because I don’t see *any* tone-policing on the right.

                                                                As for Trump being a harbinger of doom. He’s getting one third of one third of the electorate; about equal to the percent of the population that still believes interracial marriage is repulsive. I don’t believe a rejection of interracial marriage is imminent and I don’t believe Trump is ascendent. Come November we can come back to this comment and I’ll eat my hat.

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                                                                • So I can’t get behind the idea that there’s too much tone-policing on the right because I don’t see *any* tone-policing on the right.

                                                                  You don’t see any?
                                                                  Not counting the #nevertrump movement, what about the whole “Islam is a religion of Peace” thing that Bushitler and Rommelney kept chanting? How’s about the whole illegal immigration is an “act of love” discussion from Jeb (or the full-throated support for immigration reform from the entire Club-For-Growth wing of the Republican Party)?

                                                                  I’m sure that there are more examples that would show up if I used the Google and someone who actually identified as Republican might be able to come up with several more without having to use the Google at all.

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                                                                  • Go read the NRO special issue Against Trump. Not a single essay calls him out as bigoted, it’s all about how he’s a crypto-liberal that won’t actually do the things he claims he’ll do. That’s #NeverTrump – an attack on Trump being untrustworthy.

                                                                    Yes, Bush was a passionated defender of Islam and the base hated him for it. Where is that now? After Bush, the right turned “religion of peace” into an ironic headline for terrorist attacks. Again, is there a single instance where a conservative makes insinuations about Islam and is rebuked by the GOP? Go read the Miami debate transcript. Rubio’s is asked to comment on “Islam hates us” and talks about nice Muslims he’s met – does not condemn Trump; Cruz is asked about killing terrorist families and says he won’t do it, immediately pivoting to how Obama should stop lecturing us on Islamophobia – not even a hint of condemnation.

                                                                    Are there instances where a conservative attacks Mexican immigrants and is rebuked by the GOP? Saying “Well I’m for immigration” is not the same thing as saying “That guy’s attack on immigration is bigoted”. I’m talking about actual instances of “DENOUNCE THEM HARDER! MAKE ME BELIEVE IT!”.

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                                                                      • You started off saying that people were being routinely forced to condemn white supremacy before having the chance to voice their ideas. And the examples of this are … #NeverTrump which claims Trump is too liberal, and a heterodox immigration policy? Seriously?

                                                                        Is there a Sister Souljah moment on the right? Where a prominent conservative says “these people are too far right for us, their followers are wrong, and we don’t want their vote”? Where is this epidemic of alt-righties being forced to denounce white supremacy?

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                                                                        • Oh, why isn’t there tone policing of the alt-right?

                                                                          Because the alt-right is a handful of nuts on the intertubes who have little, if any, audience among freaking anybody apart from people who live on the ‘net.

                                                                          Furries have a higher profile. *DIAPER* furries have a higher profile.

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                                                                          • Well – and this is an honest question – where does this kind of Nicean Creed swearing happen then? Where are ordinary folks feeling the pinch of political correctness? I don’t see their political leaders doing it – every conservative denunciation of Trump is followed by “but of course his voters have legitimate grievances”. I can’t imagine it’s happening in their churches and community centers. To be fair, they’re getting it from their president, who gives speeches in Mosques and says “that’s not who we are” type stuff. Okay. Where else?

                                                                            As pillsy said in the beginning of the thread, there is always someone who claims that they’re being forced out of the conversation. Not so long ago, the rallying cry for these folks was the requirement to “press 1 for English” – that is, the mere recognition of other cultures besides their own. What evidence is there that this isn’t just more of that?

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                                                                            • Where are ordinary folks feeling the pinch of political correctness?

                                                                              Well, in recent years, the big example is the whole “gay wedding cake” thing (quickly followed by the pizzeria thing).

                                                                              I imagine that the whole protests happening on college campuses gives a bit of apprehension as well.

                                                                              This implied attitude of “you *WILL* get in line”. Sure, it’s not like this effects the backwaters of the places that nobody cares about or ever goes, but, for various reasons, there’s still this fear that the culture is changing, you don’t have a say, and if you disagree with this, you are a bigot.

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                                                                              • …there’s still this fear that the culture is changing, you don’t have a say, and if you disagree with this, you are a bigot.

                                                                                Welp, I mean, in the case of LGBT stuff, words have meaning.

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                                                                                  • Well yeah, it’s usually pretty clear who is bigotted against me. I mean, as a feminist and a social justice liberal, I am prepared to talk about “structural” forms that oppression takes. Which, for example, it is pretty easy to show how many underlying cultural beliefs manifest as sexism. But when I talk about bigotry against trans people, the bigots are seldom shy about their beliefs. This is not subtle. It is not merely structural. These are people who hate me, who are eager to exclude me from civic life, and who are willing to hurt me to do so.

                                                                                    This is happening right now. We’re not reading a history book and praising the courage and dignity of MLK. North Carolina slammed through an anti-trans bill last night. They rushed it to the gov and he signed it. This just happened.

                                                                                    I have fiends there. They are … not okay.

                                                                                    The Republicans are my enemy. They hate me. They willing to spend their political clout to hurt me. This is unambiguous and undeniable truth.

                                                                                    If in the 60’s you supported a segregationist candidate, you had zero deniability. You placed zero value on the dignity of black people. Such people earned the scorn they have received. Today if you vote for those allied to social conservatives, then you hate me. Scorn will come, because we are people with hearts that love and you can’t crush that. Our stories will get heard.

                                                                                    My point, the haters earn their scorn. Help ensure they receive it. The lives of good people depend on it.

                                                                                    I’m not sure what this says about Trumpism. That’s a whole different mess.

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                                                                                    • Well, there are a couple of things that are vaguely related.

                                                                                      The thing where people who believe more or less the same things as their parents and grandparents did are being called names that their parents or grandparents weren’t.

                                                                                      The more recent phenomenon where the somewhat enlightened and progressive positions of the past are now seen as similar to extremely bigoted positions. (“Gender is socially constructed, it has nothing to do with biology.”)

                                                                                      And the general response of disagreement is that there is one correct opinion and people who push back are bigots.

                                                                                      This is probably most frustrating for the people in the latter group who are used to getting kudos for calling people who disagree with them bigots.

                                                                                      And, of top of that, there is the whole “moderate” thing where the people who want change, just SLOWLY are being accused of being the enemy (see, also, King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail).

                                                                                      There’s a lot of dialog that isn’t happening. The dialog that is happening isn’t particularly rewarding.

                                                                                      Trumpism? The rewards are there.

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                                                                                      • — The Stonewall Riots were in 1969. These people have had plenty of time to get used to LGBT people. Even more, stories about Christine Jorgensen hit the press in the early ’50s, and her gender transition was the most widely reported story for quite a while — don’t quote me but for over a few years she was the single most popular subject. The media coverage, in relative terms, eclipsed that of Jenner. The fascination with trans women has never really fallen away. We are a constant topic of tabloid nonsense or cis people with weird preoccupations about sex — plus “good liberals” who find us to be a lovely accessory to their tolerance.

                                                                                        My point is, people have had plenty of time to come to terms with our existence. They have agency. They have made choices, which shapes their own thoughts and the thoughts of others. This moral weight lands entirely on them and in no way on me.

                                                                                        They have stubbornly clung to hate. It’s hate. Just hate. Nothing but hate. There is literally no excuse.

                                                                                        You might say, “But what about the rest of the discourse, all the “structural this and that” stuff? What about that conversation?”

                                                                                        I dunno. We can certainly talk about that. I do think that racism and sexism are structural. But that is not what is happening here. The Republican platform is not, “Let us accept LGBT people as full citizens deserving full access to civic life, but at the same time can we discuss the harmful ways our opponents talk about structural issues.”

                                                                                        I might even agree with them. There are many unhelpful ways that structural issues are discussed. On the other hand, they exist. We’re gonna talk about them.

                                                                                        Keep in mind, I’m a centrist liberal with many friends who are more radically aligned. This is a frequent topic for me. It is also a very difficult topic.

                                                                                        But that is not the manifest political reality right now. In other words, you are ignoring the fact that the Republicans don’t want to have this conversation at all. Instead, they are throwing their power behind nakedly oppressive laws.

                                                                                        This is not symmetrical. It is not nearly symmetrical. It has been a one-sided hellhole of disgusting hate for many decades — and actually centuries and millennia if you want to unpack stuff. But for LGBT stuff we can maybe look to the founding of Mattachine in 1950. That was the beginning of an organized push toward gay liberation.

                                                                                        Are enemies are completely wrong. They have always been wrong. They are deeply and horribly wrong, in fact morally repugnant. The one correct response to the current Republican party is naked disgust, just as one should have been disgusted by Jim Crow and segregation.

                                                                                        The point is, insofar as they suffer, they suffer because they are bigots. Insofar as we suffer, we suffer because they are bigots. It is that simple.

                                                                                        MLK’s letter was dead-on correct. It is the “fierce urgency of now.” My life is now and I want to live it with dignity. My friend in North Carolina is alive now, and she is young and struggling and does not need this. You might dislike unpleasant conversations about structural social issues, but she is facing the cruel power of the state, backed by large communities of bigots.

                                                                                        You are precisely MLK’s “white moderate.” Stop doing that. His words were correct. Every moment this fight continues is a deep injustice.

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                                                                                        • Begin with an impassioned speech about abstract concepts like justice, move into concrete examples of injustice, conclude by talking about me personally.

                                                                                          We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ…

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                                                                              • Okay, these are definitely examples where the culture is shifting in potentially frightening ways. But if there’s a single idea that I’m trying to articulate, it’s that there is a huge difference between “I’m being silenced” and “I’m seeing the culture change in ways I don’t like”. “I’m being silenced” means certain ideas are not being given a fair hearing, which is bad because we want diversity. But “I’m seeing the culture change” means these ideas are being given a fair hearing, and it’s just that more and more people are disagreeing with them. It’s the difference between “I’m being asked to press 1 for English” and “I’m being forced to stop speaking English”. I see is very little of the latter in your examples.

                                                                                As veronica d pointed out, there are actual demographics that get *physically* silenced, in that the law does not protect them from discrimination. They are not Trump voters. You could argue, for example, that the Birchers were silenced when their party said “we don’t want your vote”. But that’s not happening to the anti gay-marriage folks. Their party still totally supports the one-man-one-woman viewpoint, and passionately proclaims their right to express it. Same goes for “black culture of dependence” folks, or the “Islam is a death cult” folks, all of whom are either actively supported or at grudgingly tolerated by their institutions. “I can no longer discriminate against X in the marketplace” is not an example of being forced to recite the Nicene Creed, as far as I understood the analogy.

                                                                                Now, these people *do* get called out on the left. But, is that what you were referring to as “being silenced”? Having fierce opposition in the *other* political party? Let’s flip the board around: I’m a generic liberal and I see the rise of Trump, who compares liberals to fascists and commies trying to destroy America. I see big rallies in his support where my liberal friends get assaulted. Would it be reasonable for me to conclude that my views have been silenced? Would it be reasonable for me to say that, because of Trump, you should be really careful about lumping my fringy ideas together with communists? Isn’t this exactly the kind of coddling and soft bigotry of low expectations that we’re supposed to be against.

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                                                                                  • Well, is there a way to distinguish between “Recite the Nicene Creed or else we’ll shun you” and “We’ve listened to your ideas, we don’t agree, recite the Nicene Creed or else we’ll shun you”?

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                                                                                      • You can only torture the metaphor only so far… shunning works as a corrective to a very small minority that recognizes the authority of the shunners.

                                                                                        Shunning a nearly equal number of co-auctors (I’m on a Rufus kick) might end in bloodshed.

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                                                                                          • Sure, but this is where things go full-circle… self-sorting works pretty well with decentralized polities. Self-sorting where each group has to grab control of the central polity to guarantee their “way” – and to protect their peeps still left on the other side of the sort – that’s going to escalate tensions.

                                                                                            We might all live better together if we could decentralize and allow our neighbors to live awful dissolute lives.

                                                                                            But, I’ve already seen this argument on the internet:
                                                                                            1. Decentralization
                                                                                            2. ???
                                                                                            3. Slavery

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                                                                                • “But “I’m seeing the culture change” means these ideas are being given a fair hearing, and it’s just that more and more people are disagreeing with them. ”

                                                                                  Just because the culture is changing doesn’t mean that it’s more and more people disagreeing with them.

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                                                                                • What level of escalation would you approve your faction take in response to control being moved away from your moral alignments? Not saying it will, but if it surpasses civil war with the other faction are you still in it beyond that point of escalation.
                                                                                  What is your commitment to see your faction ‘win’?

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                                                                                    • I didn’t say that at all, but if you want to justify your commitment to the ‘generic liberal faction of america’ with it, be my guest. We could speak of american ghettos, this sure as hell ain’t Warsaw.

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                                                                                          • That depends on whether democratic institutions are still functioning for the aggrieved party. I think people have a responsibility to redress their grievances through the democratic process, but can resort to violence if that process ceases to be democratic. And ceasing to be democratic doesn’t mean “we keep losing elections”, it means “we’re being kept from the ballot box by force” or “we are being systematically denied equal treatment under the law”. As an example (because this is how my mind works) I think of places where innocent black folk are being killed by representatives of the state, those representatives systematically go unpunished, and the standard avenues of appeal have been exhausted. That’s not to say that violence will lead to the desired outcome, but that it is morally justified as a form of self defense.

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                                                                                            • Agreed. For trans people, violence would be a very unproductive and unhelpful response. Instead we should use civil disobedience.

                                                                                              Which of course means we get arrested.

                                                                                              Which means that law enforcement in southern states will have control of our bodies, away from cameras.

                                                                                              Which means WE WILL BE RAPED.

                                                                                              Please understand that. Police officers often rape transgender women.

                                                                                              Am I prepared to be potentially raped for my civil rights? (Just typing that sentence made me tear up. Am I?)

                                                                                              (Being white and having money might shield me from this. It might not. I’ve never been in a southern jail before.)

                                                                                              Elsewhere (not to pick on him) is worried about the Nicene Creed and mild bigots feeling sad cuz I call them names, and I am deciding should I fly to North Carolina to stand with my sisters, and resign myself to potential rape.

                                                                                              Cuz if I go there I’m using the women’s room.

                                                                                              So should I use violence instead? Would it work? Will democracy fail us? Will the courts?

                                                                                              Bigotry is a thing in itself. Hate is a thing in itself. Political speech is not abstract. Instead, it refers to concrete things. Don’t forget the truth on the ground.

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                                                                                              • Elsewhere (not to pick on him) Jaybird is worried about the Nicene Creed and mild bigots feeling sad cuz I call them names, and I am deciding should I fly to North Carolina to stand with my sisters, and resign myself to potential rape.

                                                                                                Actually, my concerns with the Nicene Creed being made to be said are part of a slippery slope argument. There is turf to be found beneath the whole “you have to say it and make me believe it!” imposition.

                                                                                                But if people don’t believe that the X is happening, then the argument of “X then Y then Z” doesn’t really work.

                                                                                                Getting to “Okay, maybe X is happening… but so what? X *SHOULD* happen!” is progress.

                                                                                                At which point I point out that “If X, Then Y” and we can argue about whether I’m saying that Y should happen, whether I think that Y is a good thing, so on and forth.

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                                                                                • As veronica d pointed out, there are actual demographics that get *physically* silenced, in that the law does not protect them from discrimination.

                                                                                  “*physically* silenced” What on earth does that mean in English?

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                                                                                        • Definitely left out some important details. Like, what were the other two charges? Why were staff suspicious of prostitution, several people coming and going or what? Why sue the hotel for what the police did? The hotel didn’t detain anyone.

                                                                                          Finally, how does this have anything to do with race or gender when the other person wasn’t detained at all, even though they were black and transgender too? Answer, nothing. Frivolous lawsuit.

                                                                                          I read the comments with the article and saw this one. It was good so I thought I’d copy it.

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                                                                                        • Finding it hard to say this woman was “silenced”. Perhaps you call being in jail silenced? I don’t. I call it being in jail. It doesn’t appear they put here in the general male pop where she likely would have been a significant risk of violence.

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                                                                                          • Okay so … Trump voters complaining about political correctness = chilling effect, change the discourse! trans-woman jailed for eight days = whatever, she’s lucky she wasn’t put in genpop.

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                                                                                              • Well that was the context. My point is that there’s a spectrum of silencing which includes: (a) being arrested when you stay at a hotel simply because of what you represent; (b) being rejected by your party because of the views you espouse; (c) seeing students on campus protest against some of the things you believe. Being in each of these categories confers different privileges and responsibilities.

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                                                                                                  • Oh for fuck’s sake, she was never charged for prostitution and the charges for carrying hormone pills without a prescription – for which she sat in jail fir eight days – were dropped. How do you even begin to defend this kind of treatment?

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                                                                                                    • I don’t often respond to Damon, but the woman was not a sex worker. I am not a sex worker. I’ve never even been tempted to do sex work. That said, many men assume I am. I get harassed for it. I get rudely propositioned and have to extricate myself from situations from men who think I am a sex worker, and thus treat me as disposable. This is dangerous and scary. I have yet to be harassed by police, but then, the Boston PD has a pretty good track record on LGBT stuff, which means we’re only abysmal and not freakishly terrible. For a time, merely carrying condoms was considered sufficient evidence in NYC to be arrested for sex work.

                                                                                                      I carry condoms.

                                                                                                      Everyone please look on this person and judge his character. As I said elsewhere, bigots have earned their scorn. Let us ensure they collect.

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                                                                                                  • Trizz keeps using the word “silencing” but it really doesn’t seem like the proper use of the word. I can’t understand how someone can confuse being arrested with being “silenced?”

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                                                                                                    • Gotta agree. I can’t see how it was unclear, @veronica-d even if my subsequent posts on the matter was less clear. Damn thinking faster than I can type.

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                                                                                                      • Well, I’ll let you in on a big secret: none of the references to “silencing” in this discussion have actually been about physically shutting someone’s mouth. Not a single one! Jaybird is talking about folks worried that if they say the wrong thing (“I have some qualms about the PC culture”) someone will call them a racist. Veronica is talking about folks worried that if they say the wrong thing (“My ID says MALE but I identify as a woman”) they’ll get arrested on trumped-up charges and spend a week in jail. I was talking about the Birchers losing political recognition. That’s what we’re talking about here, and you’re free to join.

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                                                                                                        • Jaybird is talking about folks worried that if they say the wrong thing (“I have some qualms about the PC culture”) someone will call them a racist

                                                                                                          No, my worries are that people will eventually stop caring that they’re being called racist.

                                                                                                          But we didn’t get to the point where we agreed on enough premises to get to where we’d see that that was something that follows, could happen, or would be a worse thing than people getting their fee-fees hurt that they got called a waycist.

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                                                                                                        • I have no intention of joining this convo. I made a statement that being arrested wasn’t silencing, posting to your link about the trans gals getting arrested. You apparently didn’t understand it, and I spent the last day trying to make clear to you what I said while actually doing work. Given you post i’m responding to, we agree. No need to join in a convo that we but concur on. Peace out.

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                                                    • Or at the very least it’s reasonable to ask them to distinguish their views from those that are outright beyond the pale.

                                                      Yes, of course. Which has been you’re point all along. I simply meant that the presumption held against certain types of views is that they require some minimal justification or an exlanatory account rendering judgments regarding the content less severe than they appear at first glance.

                                                      Also, I wanna say to you guys – trizz, Jaybird, Veronica Dire (whose comments continue to amaze me) – that this is one of the best threads I’ve ever read here at the OT.* Or anywhere. The entire topic you folks are engaging is very difficult to talk about – at least it is for me – and filled with important nuance.

                                                      So thanks.

                                                      *ETA: by that I mean something mostly subjective (I mean, you guys are all great writers and thinkers and all…): it was personally edifying

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                                                • For what it’s worth, I’m not particularly bothered by Trump (though I suspect that he will get elected).

                                                  The guy who comes *AFTER* Trump? He scares the ever-living shit out of me.

                                                  But to the point, “but so what?”

                                                  I suspect that there has been some preference falsification going on. When/if things snap back, they’ll snap back harder the more falsification that had been going on.

                                                  Trump is a manifestation of it snapping back. I’m somewhat hopeful that Trump lets off a good amount of the tension that I suspect exists. Because, as I said, the guy who comes after Trump is the guy to be terrified of.

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                                      • As a whole? I wouldn’t even know how to estimate this. Perhaps specific examples would be helpful. I think of the following as instances where I would want the person to distinguish their views from those of white-supremacists:

                                        * Blacks have a culture of violence and dependence which largely explains black poverty and crime.
                                        * Barack Obama is an affirmative-action president, achieving nothing of significance in his life that wasn’t handed to him.
                                        * Most Mexican immigrants are naturally inclined towards criminality and rape, some are good people.
                                        * Islam is a death cult and there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim.
                                        * As a white person, it is prudent to avoid contact with blacks as much as possible. If you see a black man with car trouble by the side of the road, think twice before helping them.
                                        * Neoconservatives are a fifth column in the US who will pick Israel over America.

                                        I’ve seen each these statements, or variations on them, published in mainstream conservative press. Do you think it would be bad for the discourse to ask a person making such a statement to distinguish themselves from white supremacists?

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                                      • I think you’re lumping three very different things together.

                                        Criticizing “political correctness” is so common that it falls just short of ubiquitous. I find such criticisms tend to be silly and annoying, with a strong tendency towards the self-refuting, but the people who have most annoyed me with them are nothing like white supremacists.

                                        “Modern liberalism”, sure, there’s more overlap, but there still isn’t a ton of signal there if you mean “modern liberalism” in the sense of broadly capitalist societies coupled with welfare states and liberal democratic forms of government.

                                        Criticism of egalitarianism, though, seems to overlap a lot more heavily.

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                              • Jaybird:
                                I am also saying that a very, very good way to not address these criticisms of modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and political correctness is to point out that some of these criticisms are shared by white supremacists and other very, very bad people. This turns the topic into white supremacists and the other very, very bad people rather than the criticisms.

                                But it’s also a way (good or not) to limit the scope and reach of the white supremacists. For many people[1], maintaining strong norms against white supremacists, and maintaining strong norms against forming coalitions with white supremacists are both very important goals. On the other hand, the likelihood that white supremacists[2] have come up with worthwhile criticisms of modern society is very low.

                                So of course a lot of people are going to reply like that. Why shouldn’t they?

                                [1] I.e., the ones who aren’t white, or have friends and family members who aren’t white, or belong to any of the other long list of targets of neo-Nazi wrath.

                                [2] That is, people in the grip of a completely corrupt ideology that prevents them from dealing reasonably with the most basic questions of fact.

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                                • In the short term, I agree with you 100%.

                                  In the long term, I suspect that it will give unwarranted credibility to these white supremacists when the bridge breaks.

                                  But I say that as someone who thinks the bridge has some serious structural problems.

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                                    • I give you another one. Hitler was right that Commies were no good very bad dudes, but because of Hitler, the Soviet Union got a second life in the 20th century, and the world lacked the intellectual and moral capacity to defeat Communism until almost two generations after Hitler’s downfall.

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                                      • Communism ain’t dead yet.

                                        And as far as the Soviet Union goes, it wasn’t “defeated”, it collapsed under it’s own weight. Facilitated of course by Brzezinski’s Afghan Trap.

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                                      • Good points, both.

                                        But Communism is one of those things that seems to be able to spring back up over and over again. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that we’ve got another USSR (perhaps with a different name, though) before I’m dead and in the ground.

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                                          • I should have put “Communism” in scare quotes.

                                            The EU will come a lot closer to instituting some form of Marxist Happy Fun Society than the USSR ever did.

                                            I’m more suspicious that Mother Russia will once again find itself surrounded with satellites that see the tradeoffs of being a satellite as being better than being part of, say, the European Union.

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                                            • The thing about Russia is … it survives. Regardless of the government – and I think that a cynical Russian (which means all of them) might say despite the government – there’s something essential there that’s functionally eternal. I think that Putin has an understanding of it, but he’s not really in control of it – it’s bigger than he is. Fifty years from now, there will still be a Russia, possibly with a slightly different set of its traditional satellites orbiting closer to it, when Putin is just another guy on the “alternating bald/not-bald autocrats” list.

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    • The short answer to the question is no. But to get to that answer you have to start with the recognition that the ideas of the alt-right (white supremacy most notably) have always been the ideas of those who hold political power.

      You get to the no when you realize that as soon as an idea used to support the historical power structure begins to reveal itself fully, that’s a pretty good clue that present power structure has moved on to a new set of ideas. It’s like baby names. You want to know if Heather is a WASP or white trash? Find out what year she was born.

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