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Charlottesville Milepost

Earlier this weekend, thousands of white men gathered in a city that within living memory was racially segregated, for the ostensible purpose of protesting the planned removal of a statute of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

They carried torches when they marched at night. The kind of torches they selected lent a touch of the ridiculous to an otherwise fearful event.

Some who were not carrying torches carried the flags: mostly the Confederate battle standard but there were also a few actual Nazi flags carried and displayed.

They chanted a Nazi slogan.

Some of the marchers carried shields and other regalia of a white nationalist group named Vanguard America.

Others found ways to display sympathies and admiration for Adolf Hitler.

Some of the protestors came in military-style dress openly carrying guns.

There was hate.

There was violence.

There was death.

President Trump — usually quick to express anger and condemn violence perpetrated by other kinds of people — was slow to respond and when he did, I found his statement … tepid.

I was not the only one unimpressed by the President’s statement.

This is not going away.

In some ways, this is not new. There have been white supremacy groups and hateful activism since Reconstruction. Such people have long incited or initiated violence, and used provocative theatrics to magnify their cultural impact beyond their relatively small numbers.

Nevertheless, this feels like these awful events in Charlottesville show that as a nation, we’ve moved past a grim cultural milepost. Not just because an innocent woman is dead, though that is surely awful enough all on its own to give all of us both fright and sorrow. But now we see that the President winks at this dangerous, violent, anti-American white nationalism. Though he can readily find ample venom for comedians and prosecutors and Muslims, he refuses to issue a full-throated condemnation of armed crowds chanting Nazi slogans and carrying the flags of two of our nation’s most formidable historic wartime enemies.

Perhaps the total number of tiki torch Nazis who converged on Charlottesville this weekend was relatively small. Leaving aside the matter that one is too many, they drew the blood of one of our fellow Americans who spoke up against them. They gathered for the purpose of advancing hate and fear, reviving the ugliest parts of our past, celebrating those who committed treason in defense of slavery, and who explicitly call for our nation to transform itself into a recapitulation of possibly the most vile and malicious regime the world has yet seen. And though we may not see hundreds of thousands of tiki torch Nazis just yet, what is different now is that for the first time in our history, the White House is run by men who wink and dog whistle their barely-concealed approval of this sort of thing.

It’s not a hard moral call to at least condemn actual Nazis. Somehow, the President can’t make himself do it. You should be livid about that.

There will be rallies and marches in communities all over the country in the coming days, events where people will gather to reclaim our national ideals of equality, inclusion, and freedom for all. I hope you go to them, as I shall. I hope fervently that they are all peaceful.

Not that I enjoy being dramatic, but these particular demonstrations are important. It is imperative that we show the world what we are really made of, that a mealy-mouthed, half-hearted “violence is bad” is not representative of the American people as a whole. The world is watching. The people who hold political power are watching. Since they will not lead us, it is incumbent upon we the citizens to make manifest our great shared moral aspirations and insist that our leaders not give in to our worst moral impulses.

See you on the streets.

 

UPDATE: 8/14/17

Here’s a statement made by President Trump today, two days after the violence and murder. I’m satisfied with its content and tone. I wish it had come from him spontaneously rather than as a result of political pressure, but I can and will have to live with the chain of events that actually happened. Better this than nothing at all, so, thank you for finally doing what was morally necessary, Mr. President.

President Trump: "Racism is evil…" (C-SPAN)

 

UPDATE: 8/15/17

And now, we’re back to a place not far where we started. It’s been made clear that Trump’s remarks above were insincere all along, and he got back to being who he really is today. Here’s the complete transcript of today’s utterly bizarre press conference. Once again, we have a President who glides over condemning Nazis, provides moral cover for those allied with them, and goes out of his way to find things of questionable veracity to criticize about the counter-protestors.


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507 thoughts on “Charlottesville Milepost

  1. The President can’t make an actual call about Nazis because he is largely sympathetic to racism and is racist himself:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/hes-one-of-them

    Here’s the passage …

    Above all else, we must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country. We love our God. We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are. So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen.

    My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

    I spent the better part of a decade training as an historian. I’m definitely pro-history. But in context, this is an explicit call-out to the white supremacist and neo-Confederate forces at the march whose calling card is celebrating Southern ‘heritage’ and America’s history as a white country. Zero ambiguity or question about that. And they heard the message. White supremacist leaders cheered Trump’s refusal to denounce them and his valorization of their movement.

    Trump’s entire history in the public eye has been associated with bigotry in one way or another. He first came to attention when Nixon sued Trump and his father for refusing to rent apartments to blacks, he called for the lynching of the later to be exonerated Central Park 5, and he jumped on the Birther train early, hard, and long. Even though Ivanka Trump married a Jewish guy, his comments on Jews are scantly better when he talks about little guys in yarmulkes counting his money.

    But we are seemingly never allowed to call Trump or his supporters racist or white supremacists because that just makes them feel bad. This is the pernicious power of racism and white supremacy. It exists. It exists wildly and through out American history in very brutal ways but it is such a horrible sin to call people on it or bring it up as a kind of tone-policing.

    Yes Stephen Miller is Jewish but he also seems to be a strange bird who decided that far-right politics was the perfect way to rebel against his liberal family and schoolmates. He is the worst kind of worm.

    The reason Trump can’t denounce it is because he supports it.

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          • Not bothering to call out white supremacy as more awful than one among equal malefactors, when its adherents are literally marching through a town with torches and breaking out of police shields meant to protect them, would be a pretty strong indicator, yes.

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            • The national socialists had a permit to march. The international socialists did not. They showed up to fight the national socialists, and boy, there was some fighting!

              What kind of person, upon finding out that an obscure event is being sponsored by armed national socialists in league with the Klan, says “As a person of color, I want to be in the middle of that!”

              Both groups were looking for things to get violent.

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              • “What kind of person, upon finding out that an obscure event is being sponsored by armed national socialists in league with the Klan, says “As a person of color, I want to be in the middle of that!””

                A brave one.

                And whether or not both groups were prepared for things to get violent, they are not morally equivalent and should not be treated as such.

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                  • The Nazi protesters had a court injunction, backed by the ACLU, supporting their right to rally at the park that had the statue of Lee. That rally was a follow up to a prior KKK rally that drew 50 Klansmen and 1000 counter-protesters. That Nazis say they’re rallying to fight against a totalitarian communist crackdown by the city, and to fight persecution. In response, communists united with black nationalists to counter the Nazi march.

                    Charlottesville’s decision to erase Civil War history has turned it into Poland. Have all the locals evacuate and nuke it from orbit, wiping out both the Nazis and the communists. Then rebuild the city.

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                    • Sorry, but the losers of a civil war don’t usually get to put up monuments to their heroes or fly the flag of the lost cause (in this case preserving their right to enslave black people). History isn’t erased by taking down a statue. Pretty sure all statutes of Stalin have been removed from the former Soviet Union, but his acts haven’t been forgotten or removed from history.

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                      • General Lee wasn’t like Hitler. He wasn’t like Stalin. He wasn’t like Saddam. Lincoln even asked him to head the Union army.

                        Washington and Lee University is named after him.

                        He wasn’t as racist as Woodrow Wilson, who rebirthed the KKK, or FDR (who stuffed Washington with people who didn’t like Jews), or JFK (who said Hitler would be remembered as a great man), or Lyndon Johnson (who opposed every Civil Rights Act but the final one), or Robert Byrd, who was a Grand Kleagle, or Hillary Clinton (who referred to black superpredators when she spoke in support of the Violent Crime Control Act).

                        Lee freed the slaves at Arlington in 1862, and the National Park Service maintains Arlington House as the Robert E Lee Memorial. They say “The Robert E. Lee Memorial honors Lee’s military and public leadership in pre- and post-Civil War America. Congress designated the memorial to recognize that ‘the desire and hope of Robert E. Lee for peace and unity within our Nation has come to pass.'”

                        One of our WW-II tanks was named after him. One of our ballistic missile submarines was named after him. Countless counties, schools, and roads are named after him.

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                          • Lee didn’t become a traitor, he stayed loyal to Virginia. Back then that’s how it worked.

                            Traitors were those Virginian’s who turned their backs on their state and served in the Union, or who worked as spies for the union.

                            One of the most prominent traitors was Union General George Thomas, who wasn’t much celebrated after the war even though he was probably the best general fielded by either side. The North regarded him as a Virginian, and the South regarded him as a traitor. He sacked an entire army at the battle of Nashville, the only time anyone pulled that off.

                            The issue of loyalty is why the North didn’t prosecute Southerners for treason after the war, and why Lee was allowed to keep his sword, etc.

                            And again, Lee was a great man, one whose military incompetence destroyed the Confederate armies, freed the slaves, and gave us the nation we have today.

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                              • No, it was secession. Unless you think about 750,000 Southerners should have been put to death.

                                Once the Southern states seceded, they no longer considered themselves part of the United States. At that point it was just a war.

                                A better case could be made for the 33 Confederate generals from northern states, but in America, you can call any state you want home.

                                The Founding Fathers were very careful about defining treason because they all committed treason against Great Britain. They wouldn’t have applied it to a case on one state dissolving the political bonds that had tied it to another state, or the Founders would all have to consider themselves traitors.

                                The Supreme Court later ruled that secession was unconstitutional, and thus the Southerns had still owed allegiance to the US, but then that’s what the war was about, a serious disagreement over that very point. Pretty hard to argue that a disagreement over a constitutional principle that wasn’t at all clear should be punishable by death.

                                And of course no Southerner was convicted of treason.

                                There was a case of a union officer who was conspiring to help the Confederacy while in federal uniform, though, and that could probably have brought a conviction.

                                The simple principle is that if there are two sides in a war, the guys on the other side aren’t committing treason, they’re fighting. Treason is more properly thought of as when a guy on your side goes to help the other side.

                                Plenty of Americans fought for Nazi Germany. Many of them wrote books about it. So far as I know, only a few were charged with treason because they’d switched sides. One defected in a P-38 and joined the SS. He surrendered in an SS uniform, but strangely got charged with desertion and ended up back in the Air Corps for a while, but then the FBI busted him for treason. He got out of prison in 1960.

                                Another example is Rudolph Salvermoser from New Jersey. He served with distinction as a Panzer gunner on the Russian front, was wounded four times, and awarded the iron cross for destroying six tanks. He also guarded Hitler at the Wolf’s Den,

                                After the war he came home and joined the US army. He was a bit worried about his wartime service for HIitler, but was told that we are a very forgiving country. So he got a top secret security clearance and eventually ended up as a big wig in the Defense Mapping Agency.

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                                • The bottom line is that Robert E. Lee sought and belatedly received a pardon for violating his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Your meandering revisionism is not going to convince anyone other than to think less of Robert E. Lee than they did before. If that is your intent, good job sir.

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                                • For some reason I can’t think of a single time I’ve seen a statue, bust, plaque, perfect attendance certificate, or beer stein with Rudolph Salvermoser’s name on it. Perhaps within the agency he made his later career in there are such honors. As a nation we may have chosen to forgive Salvermoser for his treason, and calculated that his talents could still be usefully exploited and he be offered the humanity of a second chance. Which, in my opinion, speaks very well of us indeed. But that does not mean that we HONOR him. Indeed, it’s quite likely that we prefer someone like that to have a low cultural profile.

                                  Robert E. Lee has been honored with very large, very public, and very flattering public statues in places of high distinction and honor. Even taking your evaluation of the relative honor of his actions at the time into account, loyalty to one’s state rather than to the nation at a whole is by now a thoroughly outdated concept. A prominent public statue of him today celebrates him today. Even assuming that Lee would have been thought a worthy man in the 1870’s — and it’s not clear to me that this was a consensus opinion even then — the maintenance or removal of his statue today is indicative of contemporary choices and preferences and understandings.

                                  No one is going to forget Robert E. Lee or the deeds of his life. We may, however, change our opinion of him. We’ve held him in too high of esteem for too long, IMO, which creates a second object of study — why was a man who committed treason in defense of slavery so well honored for so long by people calling themselves “patriots”? As for Lee himself, I shall look forward to seeing his statue on exhibit next to the Cross of Coronado or its equivalent — in a museum, where they both belong.

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                                  • Well then let’s rename Washington DC and Washington state because Washington was a slave owner who committed treason against the British crown. Let’s also condemn Jefferson. In fact, let’s burn the document he wrote, the Constitution, and reunite under Queen Elizabeth II’s wise leadership. But wait. The South owned slaves under King George III. We have to disown him, too, and all his descendants.

                                    Sorry, but it seems we can’t create the utopian past that suits you. We’ll just have to keep the past we’ve got, one in which Jefferson Davis faced post-war condemnation but one in which Lee didn’t.

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                                    • We may also decide that Washington and Jefferson’s good deeds outweigh their bad deeds and thus continue to honor them. Contemporary museum pieces (even at places like Mount Vernon and Monticello) do a lot less airbrushing out of their misdeeds than used to be the case. Still, the notion that the celebrated Founders’ good deeds outweighs their personal misdeeds is the general cultural consensus, I submit.

                                      One might similarly argue that Lee engaged in a combination of good deeds and bad deeds throughout his life, and left at that level, I doubt anyone would disagree with that. I agree Lee served with distinction when he was an officer in the United States Army. But as I estimate his deeds over his lifetime, his bad deeds eclipse whatever good he might have done. Indeed, after Lincoln’s election, I don’t see any good deeds on his part of any particular note, including “siding with Virginia” because Virginia was itself in the wrong. Nor do I include his post-military career as a scholar, as he deployed his considerable intelligence and scholarship in a clever but deeply cynical effort to whitewash and romanticize the great evil underlying his side of the war.

                                      The degree of his success in this cynical endeavor of revisionism is evidenced by your arguments in this page.

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                                      • Lee’s “bad deeds” are what let the Union win. He fought with courage, honor, and integrity, but that was the problem. If he wanted the South to win, he shouldn’t have fought at all. He should’ve lurked, like the French did with their “fleet in being”. By staying alive and intact, they maintained an ever present threat against the superior English fleet. They knew not to engage massively superior forces or they’d eventually lose their fleet through attrition.

                                        Lee didn’t seem to understand that. Every battle he won was a loss for the Confederacy because the Confederacy couldn’t afford to win battles. They couldn’t replace the lost men and equipment, but the North had both to spare. They should’ve fought more as irregulars, keeping their major formations as a threat to repel any major union adventures, and simply outlasted the North’s patience for an expensive war.

                                        In Lee’s place, Washington would’ve won it. Ho Chi Minh would’ve won it. Lee lost it because Lee wouldn’t eschew major engagements, and Lee wouldn’t fight dirty and unfairly enough. His fighting was about honor and victory on the battlefield instead of winning a war by exhausting the other side’s patience.

                                        Lee was an officer in an honor culture (not a dignity culture) where a general’s integrity, courage, and skill were beyond question, because to question them was an attack on his honor. Gentlemen simply didn’t do that to each other. So when they suffered setbacks, they’d blame everything except the goals, planning, conduct, and leadership of their own side. The South finished the war with basically the same lineup it started with. The North kept firing officers until it figured out which ones could win.

                                        So I would support Lee’s failures as evidence of the noble cause the South talks about. They were so set on proving their courage and honor that they ran their rebellion into a ditch. Lee is the general you want on the other side, one who is both honorable and blind. One who will fight your fight, not the fight he could make.

                                        He is the embodiment of Otter’s advice in Animal House. “No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

                                        Smashing into the Army of the Potomac time after time was that futile gesture. Then, his army destroyed, he used his commanding presence and influence to calm the South and get them to peacefully accept defeat and unification.

                                        The war was going to happen whether Lee was in charge of an army or not. He was so well regarded and dignified that the South never thought of finding a better officer. The North eventually found those better officers and they took full advantage of Lee’s flaws. But Lee was so well regarded that the South, even in defeat, didn’t question how he’d led them into a ditch.

                                        For that he deserves every statue we care to erect. Some people are magnificent in failure, and yet their conduct serves as an example to all who come after. He’s like King Richard III, the last Tudor King. The end of a lineage, the last gasp of a dying way of life. The man whose existence marks a turning point towards the future in his failure to save the past.

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                                        • I have a real hard time believing that Lee fought intending to ultimately lose. And he wasn’t just about “exhausting the other side’s patience.” He was about capturing Washington D.C. and then negotiating a peace treaty while the Confederacy held the Union’s seat of government and the Union was thrown into disarray. He came close to doing that at least twice (the Maryland Campaign and the Gettysburg Campaign). He didn’t lay down at Antietam and he didn’t roll over at Gettysburg. He fought with everything he had, as best he knew how, and he didn’t do it for the purpose of getting a bunch of boys in grey killed so that the boys in blue could ultimately win. Nor do I particularly believe that he was incompetent in either campaign, so much as outmanned and outgunned.

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                                          • That’s my point. In trying to win, he was losing. He fought with everything he had. He gave it his all. That’s why the South lost. They couldn’t afford Lee’s overwhelming victories. Lee didn’t intend to lose, but everything he did brought that outcome closer. It’s like using your star basketball players as hard as you can against a team with a very, very deep bench in a game that will go into triple overtime. It’s a losing strategy.

                                            If Lee captured Washington, the South still would have lost. Washington wasn’t a very important city, except perhaps as a captured symbol that would enrage the North. What Lee’s advances did was remind the North that the South remained a threat, that they couldn’t just conduct the war at idle, but instead had to ramp up production and crush the Southern armies.

                                            And in the longer term, the South couldn’t have survived as a viable entity. The states wouldn’t cooperate with each other, and made sure the South had no strong central government – during a war. Lee’s army was at Gettysburg looking for shoes. Southerners were starving. Even in the army, Southerners were starving. The Union took up donations of food to send to starving southerners, saying that money isn’t required because there wasn’t any food to buy down there.

                                            And the Confederate states were intent on forming foreign alliances with European powers. They would have ended up as bickering banana republics, isolated and alone. There would have been no more slave states because the Union would have just taken over any new state the South tried to form out West, and the Confederates, their armies disbanded, wouldn’t have had the cohesion to resist as a whole.

                                            And Lee was not a very good general. His trick was to get there first with the most, but against prepared positions he was as lost as anyone. He also fought with little knowledge of the terrain despite having the country’s best map maker at hand. Lee would task his map maker to map the prior battlefield instead of the upcoming one, I suppose to preserve things for posterity.

                                            In contrast, General Thomas had his map makers noting the loyalty and conditions of every house on every road he used, along with determining how many supply wagons the road could support in different kinds of weather. Thomas had the first mobile communications wagon built, came up with timed artillery barrages, and was among the first to switch to mounted infantry.

                                            He was so far ahead of the time that Grant and Sherman couldn’t figure out why he wanted so many horses for the battle of Nashville when cavalry was proving largely useless in battle. Thomas wanted horses because buses, taxis, jeeps, and armored personnel carriers hadn’t been invented yet.

                                            Where Lee understood the advantage of being first to the battlefield, throwing up head logs and hastily prepared positions, Thomas understood the even greater importance of being first to get to where your enemy is going to retreat to after you kick him down the road.

                                            Joseph E. Johnston, the commander replaced by Lee in 1862, illustrates the problem the South had. Johnston knew the South couldn’t win in a long series of major battles. Against Sherman’s approach to Atlanta, he adopted a strategy of refusing battle, looking for an opportunity to make a stand but not forcing one. He was maintaining an “army in being”. He knew that for the South to outlast the North, the South’s armies had to remain intact.

                                            But Southern pride wouldn’t let anyone agree with Johnston. They dismissed him as indecisive, and he was removed from command. In upholding their honor, making sure each rebel died a proud and glorious death on the battlefield, they were giving away the war. They didn’t have the men, the industrial capacity, or the ammunition to go toe-to-toe against vastly superior numbers. The war’s white population ratio was even more lopsided than the Soviet Union versus Nazi Germany, and the industrial disparity was vastly worse. Yet Southern pride demanded new attacks all the time. They weren’t so much defeated, as depleted, flat ran out of army in a war of attrition.

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                                            • This — that Lee fought with the intent to win, with the goal of achieving a Southern victory, but failed due to strategic and tactical mistakes both intentional because of his anachronistic notion of “honor in wartime” and unintentional because of his lack of imagination — I can accept. I’m not sure that those failures on his part deserve quite so much mangification as this, but at this point I think I’m satisfied.

                                              Because here’s where we’re at: Lee was fighting for a bad cause doomed to fail one way or another no matter what he did, acting on the basis of a bad personal intent, formulated a bad plan, and now we see that he executed his bad plan badly. Why, exactly, would anyone want to celebrate this guy?

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                                              • Well, for one, he made the war so entertaining. Lee brings the underdog quality to the whole endeavor, the little engine that could.

                                                And he brings the honor of a true Southern gentleman. He wouldn’t fight dirty. He was accepting of defeat. The country healed. If you compare that to a lot of civil wars, our casualty rate was high while it was fought, but it didn’t degenerate into 50 years of insurgency and constant kidnappings and assassinations, just Jim Crow and lynchings. We should be thankful the South took Lee as the role model, not John Wilkes Booth.

                                                But what’s interesting is that there’s a prominent Confederate general who has no old Southern statues, General James Longstreet. Critical of Lee’s leadership, Longstreet became a Republican and a race traitor who even led black soldiers against white Democrat insurrectionists, so no statues for him!

                                                His hometown first erected a small statue of him in 1998, as did Gettysburg that same year, but the Gettysburg statue is small and has been called “the troll on the pony”.

                                                The Washington Post suggested New Orleans should replace their statues of Lee and other with a statue of Longstreet, who was showing the true path forward even when Southerners would have none of it.

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                                                • George:

                                                  “Well, for one, he made the war so entertaining.”

                                                  The Civil War killed more Americans than any conflict before or since.

                                                  I think we can do without this sort of entertainment.

                                                  You and I disagree on a lot of things, but for the most part I think you at least argue your case clearly.

                                                  You need to take off the “secessionists had a legitimate gripe” glasses. Bob couldn’t get them off.

                                                  There is nothing defensible about seceding to protect your authority to own people. Everything after that, every decision after that, is based upon a deeply, morally repugnant foundation.

                                                  Robert E. Lee had many laudable characteristics. He still committed a grave and indefensible error. He deserves no place of honor, only a place where Americans can see how men with laudable characteristics can still commit gross errors that forever tarnish their legacy.

                                                  He should be an object lesson in hubris and the danger of misplaced loyalties.

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                                                  • Most Confederate apologists have gone whole-hog into the “The Civil War wasn’t about slavery” white-washing.

                                                    It’s not often the losers of a war get to write history, but they managed in this case. At least to some.

                                                    Given such apologists are generally from Confederate states, it’s often fun to send them the link to their State’s Declaration of Causes.Texas’, for instance, is basically two pages of whining about slavery, the existence of abolitionists in general, the fact that abolitionists dared run for and even achieve office in other states, and is basically “slavery” from start to finish, with a minor exception of “You also don’t pay us enough to guard against Mexico”.

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                                        • Richard III a Tudor? Oh, that’s especially rich after all your lectures on history.

                                          (BTW, while from what I can tell Lee was a very gifted tactician and generally a far above average army commander for his place and time – no Longstreet though – overall I am grateful for his general lack of strategic sense, particularly making no effort to relieve Vicksburg, which inaction probably saved a fair number of lives via shortening the war a bit).

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                      • Stalinism, Marxism, Communism, and Socialism have been abject failures time and time again. If these “isms” were so great, why aren’t Americans leaving in droves to other countries to live in these “Eden” economies”. The reality? They know they don’t work!

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                        • Because contra popular opinion, it’s not all that easy to uproot your life and just toddle off to another country. The two types of people that most easily manage this are very poor with little to lose and very well off with few barriers to movement of their capital.
                          For everyone else it’s a long and complicated process with many hurdles.

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                          • Hell, just moving 200 miles is an awful lot to ask of people. My friends and family are here. Moving 200 miles means they’re three hours away by car.

                            People I’ll miss seeing regularly, which is a major reason to stay just by itself.

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                • Uh, no. The left protests constantly, about almost everything. Whales, trees, gay rights, racist cops, big oil, Palestine, Mumia, abortion, Iraq. Making signs and paper mache puppet heads, or lighting candles, is what they do.

                  Occasionally the right would send a photographer to record the hjinks, but rarely is there a counter protest, and almost never is the counter protest larger than the size of the original protest, much less 20 or 100 times larger.

                  If the right had always been vigorously counter protesting, each person on the left would remember the hundreds of protests they’d attended as being mass violence and chaos instead of a bunch of dopey people holding hands.

                  The appearance of any significant right counter protest is recent, stemming from the videos of how violent the BLM and antifa protesters were getting. Police weren’t intervening, so it was seen as a signal to go hands on and defend people and property when no one else would. That gave the white nationalist nutcases, themselves likely a response to BLM, a forum, a platform, and an audience, so now they’re doing bizarre Nuremberg rally re-enactments.

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                • I have to agree with George here. Protesting (and counter-protesting) is much more mainstream on the Left. Most conservatives I know (myself included) see it as mostly a waste of time. If the mainstream Right staged a protest and the left didn’t show up in opposition I would be shocked. Can you say the same thing if that scenario happend in reverse? The Charlottesville stuff is a good example. A few hundred (at best) whackjobs stage a rally and thousands of mainstream liberals counter. You simply would never see the converse of that.

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                  • While I see the same tendency, I wonder about the label “mainstream liberals”. My first thought is that the left is much better represented among people who (a) feel strongly and (b) have free time — eg, college students and the young underemployed.

                    Pick a college town, as in this case, and even though school may not be in session, there are a substantial number of students (and recent graduates) who are still around. I have no statistics to back me up — and doubt that anyone does — but suspect that the counter-protesters were much more local. Certainly in the alleged assault-with-an-auto the driver was from Ohio and the deceased lived locally.

                    As more anecdata, the groups at the Bundy Ranch and Malheur Refuge didn’t draw the same sorts of counter rally.

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                  • Mike,
                    Mainstream liberals are not showing up to protests.
                    Hillary Clinton’s castoffs are being manipulated (again) to show up to protests.

                    Go ahead, ask me how I know.

                    Experiments! Now not just on the net anymore!

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              • True, Trump is well known for being thoughtful and reserved when it comes to calling out stuff he thinks is bad. His careful deliberation on whether white supremacists are worse than any other protesters are just a reflection of his general tendency toward neutrality and reconciliation.

                But seriously, whether or not Trump personally is a racist, it seems pretty clear that he knows that racists are a chunk of his reliable supporters and thinks it’s not in his best interests to call them out.

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                  • So how far do we allow a politician to go courting terrible views he doesn’t hold and still consider him an ethical guy worthy of support? At some point, are we not who we pretend to be, when the character we’re playing is the one taking all of the concrete actions?

                    Let’s go down the list of things that might be too hot to handle for a politician’s base:

                    * Gay marriage is not OK. We seem to let that one slide. Fine. Bleeding edge of progress and all.
                    * Vague nationalist xenophobia is OK.
                    * White nationalism is OK, up to marching with torches and swastikas on display.
                    * Maybe the Nazis were right.
                    * Let’s reopen the internment camps!
                    * Since the internment camps are open, we might as well start digging some mass graves for the worst ones.
                    * Eh. Let’s just wipe them all out.

                    I mean, it seems like at some point down that line, failing to take a position against one of those statements becomes not OK, even if you personally disagree with it in private, and even if it gets you votes. I can understand the hesitation to be a thought leader on gay marriage before the tides had turned, but that’s about as far as I’ll go down that line.

                    So from context, I’m going to put you down as being OK with “White nationalism and Nazi flags are OK” as long as it’s just for votes and as long as we can give him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t believe it deep down. Is that about right?

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                    • Notice when the questions get tough, people like scatter.

                      Having scrolled through this train wreck of a comments section, I almost can’t believe some of what I’m reading, not in the “OMG offended” sort of way, but rather the why the hell aren’t certain people getting new assholes ripped into them sort of way.

                      I guess that’s the curse of the commenting policy, not that we envisioned it as a safe space for assholes but oh well.

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                    • So how far do we allow a politician to go courting terrible views he doesn’t hold and still consider him an ethical guy worthy of support?

                      I don’t know. I suppose that it is up to each person to decide for themselves. BTW, I don’t remember Obama denouncing the Nation of Islam and rejecting their support. But i understand if some folks have a double standard.

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            • Are you trying to make the President sound like a leader on issues of discrimination because you actually believe in him, or is this just you playing defense for your team while the liberals go on offense for theirs? I seriously would like to know. You seem pretty reasonable at times, but then you do this Right vs. Left stuff and I can’t figure out if you have your own thoughts or just stick to the party line.

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          • So if he lets folks in, he’s not much of a racist. As far as the Central Park Five, did he call for them to be hung b/c he thought they were guilty of b/c they were black? It makes a difference.

            When he printed a newpaper ad calling them for them to be hung, he posssibly thought them guilty.

            Not that there was any real reason to think they were guilty to start with…a bunch of dumbass 14, 15, and 16 year olds were interrogated long enough, without a lawyer, to be tricked into writing a confession. (Actually, one of them _didn’t_ because his mother showed up first, and so the police just basically claimed he confessed verbally. No one is sure if this is true or not, just like no one has any idea how much the others understood what they were signing.) There was no physical evidence at all except they had been seen vaguely walking in a direction where they would have possibly run into the victim the other way.

            Their confessions all were extremely different accounts of the events of the night, from who attacked her first, who undressed her, which particular people raped her, what weapons were used. They were clearly entirely made out of lies, by teenagers who are writing down something they have been told is their only way out of a 14 hour nightmare of interrogation where they were denied food, water, and not informed of their right to a lawyer, or, hell, their parents! (And probably actually denied those rights. The police don’t record, so we have no idea what the boys were told.)

            And, this being a rape, there was of course DNA evidence…that matched none of them. And, weirdly, there was only one set of DNA evidence, which is odd when five people presumably raped her?

            The entire conviction was _extremely_ shoddy to start with. Like, it is the textbook bad confession conviction to end all bad textbook convictions. It is the example of bad confessions that should be taught in schools.

            But, hey, maybe Trump believed it at the time. Plenty of New Yorkers did. And he probably didn’t have all the fakes.

            And, before we wander down the rabbit hole of figuring out if this is still a reasonable thing to think, that maybe they were forced into a confession but really did have something to do with it…I will pointed out they were cleared when a convicted murderer and rapist voluntarily confessed to the crime and that confession was proved correct by the DNA evidence, so it’s not like it’s some obscure technicality…there is basically no way they were guilty.

            So, does Trump still believe they were guilty?

            Well…sometimes?

            He’s said’ The Central Park Five documentary was a one sided piece of garbage that didn’t explain the horrific crimes of these young men while in park.’ Which seems to imply he thinks they committed some other crimes…the problem is, there’s nothing really horrible else that happened around that time.

            OTOH, you have this:

            “They admitted they were guilty,” Trump said this week in a statement to CNN’s Miguel Marquez. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

            http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/06/politics/reality-check-donald-trump-central-park-5/

            …so much evidence against them? Again, the ‘evidence’ against them is ‘seen walking vaguely in the correct direction by some other kids’.

            But, see, here is where, while other people think this shows Trump is extremely racist…I don’t think so.

            I think the original ad is, perhaps, based out of racial fear, okay. But a lot of people were racist about this entire thing and said basically the same thing. And that was in the 80s. I’ve always seen him as more classist than racist, so maybe it’s more that.

            And I think why he’s still committing to is partially his narcissistic personality disorder causing inability to admit that anything he’s ever done is wrong, and/or his incredibly restricted cogitative abilities.

            He is basically too stupid to conclude ‘Wait, maybe if you put children in a room for hours and have adults yell at them, they will write down whatever stories they are told’. Hell, he probably has never even seriously looked at the case.

            But if the idea that they might be guilty does occasionally manage to percolate though his brain, his brain immediately shut down with a FATAL ERROR: TRUMP CANNOT BE WRONG ON SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE ARE CORRECT ABOUT, THIS WOULD MAKE TRUMP LESSER HUMAN! and reboots.

            I’m kinda done with ascribing negative motives to Trump. Trump is too stupid and crazy to properly be thought of as a fully sentient human being.

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          • notme,
            Yeah, and let me show you the court cases that prove that the color green makes you a fucking racist.
            There’s one from Connecticut about housing discrimination, and another from North Carolina.
            Class action, you know?
            Can’t charge blacks a LIAR rate, not when you take a white with equivalent credit and give him a lower rate…

            It’s all in the green, man.
            (Veriditas need not apply)

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  2. I think it is important to recognize that white women are also complicit in this. There were (fewer) white women among the marching white supremacists as well…. I realize “thousands of white men (and maybe a few dozen white women)” would’ve been a much weaker sentence, but white supremacy is so often presented as gendered and it’s really not (many of those men have supportive female partners cheering them on, whether or not those women were out in the streets).

    I’ve been trying to be careful, around this potential topic, to say “white people” or “white nationalists” rather than “white men”, because white women don’t get a free pass here. Most of the guys in white hoods back in the day had an equally hateful wife at home. Just because their (usually overlapping) beliefs on gender mean that most white supremacist women are less visible doesn’t mean they are less of a problem.

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    • Has anyone done an official estimate of how many protesters were actually there? Burt says “thousands” but I keep seeing hundreds which is more consistent with what it looks like in the pictures. Just an example:

      On Friday night, hundreds of white nationalists carrying torches and chanting “white lives matter,” “you will not replace us,” and the Nazi-associated phrase “blood and soil” marched near a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the grounds of the University of Virginia, and were met by counterprotesters.

      http://abcnews.go.com/US/unite-rally-virginia-sparks-counterprotests-state-emergency/story?id=49176243

      I’m not trying to nitpick but I think the details matter.

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      • I read estimates of between 1,500 to 2,000 demonstrators ostensibly marching in support of preserving the Lee statue. The photograph of the tiki torch Nazis gathered around the statue the night before is obviously no more than 200 or so.

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    • I concede the point. In my defense, nearly all of the visual and print media illustrates men, not women, doing the most outrageous things and the resulting impression is that there may be a handful of women in there but it’s mainly white men. In some of the videos embedded above, there are women dressed in quasi-military outfits carrying rifles to be “security” for the event.

      But again, I take the point, and I’ve no desire to strip these women of their agency and, in this case, culpability for provoking violence and advocating Nazism.

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  3. Marching against the national socialists in Charlottesville where the international socialists. In a prior thread someone linked the crash pics posted by communists, who in their Twitter feeds were calling each other “comrade”, the same term used by the national socialists.

    Everyone who attended was looking to cause trouble, and the city’s normal residents should have been evacuated so the marches could be nuked from orbit, lowering the country’s crime rate.

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      • I would engage them in conversation, as my cousin was executed at Nuremberg. One time I was at a bar and met Rudolf Hess’s nephew. We connected because we were both related to war criminals, and he told me a very interesting story about running into a couple of Nazi hunters in South America. The old couple had walked into a very crowded restaurant and he offered them some chairs at his table. He pulled a chair out for them and introduced himself and they froze. Then they peppered him with questions for a while and the wife said to the man, in Dutch, which they didn’t think he spoke, that he was fine.

        My approach with Nazis would be to ask them about Nazi economics. “Socialism? Really?” I’m pretty sure I’d be far more knowledgeable about the Nazi party than they are. These modern ones are a mix of ignorant racist thugs, but they might include some people who otherwise would just be considered a nationalist, much like parties in Eastern Europe who don’t want to get overrun.

        Most Nazis weren’t bad people, they were just committed to cleansing Europe and part of Asia of people they deemed inferior, along with anyone who questioned their right and wisdom, and of course people who slacked off or made Nazi jokes, or who didn’t give 100% to stopping the invading Allies, or who had physical or mental defects, or who colluded with enemies of the state, or who committed petty crimes, or who didn’t cooperate, or who were just in the wrong place, or who were profiteering or hoarding.

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          • Real, active Nazis predate me. My cousin was one, and my uncle captured a whole SS platoon in an abortion of a mission to capture a town. My dad also met tons of them. Pretty much everyone who fought in Europe, or who lived in Europe, met lots of Nazis. They were part of a huge and very popular leftist movement.

            Tons of people in Charlotte got to meet modern American Nazis. They can’t be that bad or the police would’ve intervened over the two hours of back-and-forth violence in the streets, and we wouldn’t have so many videos of Nazis arguing with people. Most came armed and not a single person was shot. That means they’re still reachable.

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            • No one was shot, that’s true.

              Someone got run over with a car. She’s now dead. It was a Nazi behind the wheel who (apparently) killed her, not an antifa. We’ve got video of that. I embedded a picture of that happening in the OP. There was video of it happening available too, but I judged that too graphic. Shouldn’t be a great trouble to find it if you really want to see it.

              We’ve also got video of lots of fistfights. Some of them show Nazis throwing the first punches. Others show antifas throwing the first punches. I included one of those in the OP (and it looks to me like in that video, it’s the antifas who escalated into violence first).

              It’s also true that the police were slow to intervene. That doesn’t mean, though, that they made the right call in doing so. Indeed, again within the OP, I’ve included explicit criticism of the police and the civil authorities for not doing more to keep order than they did.

              So I don’t think it’s fair to say “It couldn’t have really been that bad.” A woman is dead. For her family and the other people who love her, yes, it was that bad.

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              • There were fistfights in which someone from one side threw the first punch, and fistfights in which someone from the other side threw the first punch.

                I suspect who threw the first punch is kind of irrelevant in those cases, because for the most part, if the person on one side had had just a tiny bit more restraint, then the shouting would simply have gone on 30 seconds more, and the person on the other side would have thrown the first punch instead. There was going to be a fist fight either way.

                Thing with fist fights is, mostly people come away from them with a few bruises and scraped knuckles. I’m relatively uhorrified by that.

                There was also a man surrounded, beaten with steel pipes and kicked while he was down. No prizes for guessing which side committed that particular act.

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              • After a couple of hours of violent street fights, with over a dozen people ending up in the hospital, there are people on both sides who might pop. A man was already shot at an antifa rally in Washington. A Bernie bro shot up a congressional baseball practice, wounding many. The police should follow established procedures to keep opposing groups from directly and violently confronting each other.

                Down in Greensboro, where I worked for about a year, the KKK and Nazis came together in 1979 to fight a march by the Communists, who said the KKK people should be beaten. The Greensboro police didn’t intervene. Five people were killed and eleven wounded in the ensuing mayhem. Lawsuits flew. The police and the city were found liable.

                Greensboro Massacre

                The police should use great caution when their Democrat mayors are picking favorite sides in a street war, thinking they’re resisting Trump. No matter who gets killed, they’re letting it happen.

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                • Murder Two seems like a good call by the prosecutor here, and it’ll be interesting to see if the defense tries to offer up some sort of diminished mental capacity (partial) defense. (Standard caveat about my not holding a Virginia license to know all the fine wrinkles of Virginia law.)

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            • George,
              They’re about two generations older than you. That’s still within working memory.

              Do I need to tell you about the Jew who worked with Nazis to smuggle stuff into and out of East Germany? Cause I know that guy. (And his contact the Nazi wasn’t exactly… political about it. Definitely not about the whole Jewish Question).

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        • In other words, most Nazis weren’t bad people, except when they were doing Nazi things.

          I don’t think you’re going to get a guy who thinks it’s a good idea to wear a T-shirt with a Hitler quote on its back, chanting “Blood and Soil!” and “Jews won’t replace us!” to go sit down and talk about the macroeconomic effects of governmental intervention in critical resource-producing industries. For one thing, Starbucks is not likely to allow him to openly carry his long gun in the shop, as that sort of thing tends to freak out the baristas.

          Then you have to confront the daunting fact that an economics-based argument is very likely not the reason this fellow has chosen the Nazi path in the first place. I mean, I suppose it’s possible, but come on.

          There is, of course, a time and a place for thoughtful dialogue. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t spend so much time and effort helping this blog keep its doors open. When there is a literal torchlit Nazi rally going on, one-on-one intellectual dialogue isn’t going to be an effective tool, and the target audience for your attempts at persuasion isn’t going to be the Nazis themselves, since at that point they’re unpersuadable.

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  4. I worry that by treating the types of buffoons that 20 years ago got paraded on the Jerry Springer show for laughs as a threat far outside their numbers, popularity, or electoral significance justify we’re creating a kind of al-Qaeda effect. Instead of rolling our eyes at the freak show and removing the statue as planned we’ve sent in CNN with breathless coverage and a megaphone. The worst outcome would be swelling their numbers by creating cause for fools and alienated people who want to lash out, and for whom the details of their professed ideology an afterthought.

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      • You’re incorrect on the facts. There have been periodic white supremacist marches and other protests in this country for years, most of which are as small as they are dumb. You can google “1990’s kkk rallies” and find lots of news articles. There’s also of course Skokie back in 1977. You can see pictures here at this retrospective on the court case:

        http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-neo-nazi-skokie-march-flashback-perspec-0312-20170310-story.html

        The neo-nazis were a lot more clean cut back then but the numbers I don’t think were much different.

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        • 1) That’s an interesting article.
          2) 1975 is not 20 years ago, it’s 40.
          3) The government didn’t treat the Skokie march as risible, the minute people got violent and deviated from their permits the leader was arrested for inciting mob action.
          4) The Skokieans don’t appear to have shown up armed.
          5) 300 people in a city the size of Chicago is *different* from 500 people in a town the size of Charlottesville (latest population is 46,597). One is a drop of poo in an ocean, the other is a clunker in a bathtub.

          I remember there being neo-nazi rallies by the handfuls in the 90s too, but they were both *smaller* and *less violent*.

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          • I mentioned the 90s as well, my point was that these things have been going on for a long time. Doesn’t make it good, does mean we need perspective. Like with Skokie, it sounds like there have been arrests in Charlottesville, including of the murder suspect. I’m also not sure I buy your numbers logic. We are still talking about very insignificant numbers of people.

            I’d have to look into the argument that these are more violent than past events. I’m open to the possibility that they are but haven’t seen any evidence making the case.

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            • I’m saying the 90s (or maybe the early 2000s) were the low point of a V shape. You responded by rementioning the 90s and citing an incident from 20 years previous to the 90s. I have perspective, I’m just seeing us on a different point of the fulcrum (ie well past it) than you are.

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      • Twenty-five years ago I was living in Louisiana for the David Duke election. Perhaps my experiences are more extreme than others, but I’ve never seen anything remotely close to that possibility that a NAZI would be elected to a major office. Everything else seems like defining discrimination down.

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        • During the run up to the Iraq War, David Duke was recruiting heavily among the anti-war protesters and the Indy Media crowds. One of the big anti-war sites had servers named DavidDuke1 and DavidDuke2. They were pushing the line that the war was being led by neocons (all Jews) in support of Zionism, and that common people had to fight against the Jewish war mongers and profiteers.

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        • 30 years before *that*, many elected Southern politicians, sheriffs, etc., were KKK members. 30 years before that FDR thought it was fine to throw 120,000 Japanese-Americans into camps for having the wrong ancestors. My feeling for a couple of years now is that we collectively thought David Duke was a last gasp and that whole awfulness was actually about as far along one side of the V as we are up the other side now. I’m not saying it can’t be stopped, just that it’s not “defining discrimination down” to start freaking out.

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        • After reading some of the comments here, I would like amend my remarks. David Duke’s not a NAZI. I meant to say he is a neo-NAZI or NAZIphile.

          There are no actual NAZIs in the U.S., a broad-based political party with its own paramilitary wing that advocates anti-democratic, anti-semetic, and military revanchism that has broad, majority support of the people.

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            • The inability to denounce white supremacists is staggering.

              Bush Jr, Bush Senior, McCain, Romney, Reagan, Dole –wouldn’t have hesitated an instant. It never would have occurred to them to do so.

              The GOP has fallen far…

              It’s 2017, and this crap would have been appalling in 1965. And that’s not even getting into the neo-Nazis, which should get reflexive denouncement from any breathing politician since the 1930s.

              I literally cannot think of any reason for Trump to keep weaseling on either group that doesn’t either boil down to “Mental illness” or “Fellow traveler”.

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              • The reason is that Obama fueled the rise of the white supremacists by constantly denigrating white people. The whole Nazi worldview is based on nefarious forces and legal unfairness aimed at your group. You can’t long have identity politics for some people without it spreading to everyone else. By constantly attacking white people, white people are being turned into an identity group. Attacking them even more isn’t the solution, it’s the cause of the problem.

                The organizer of the Unite the Right rally was apparently an Obama supporter until November. He was also involved with Occupy Wall Street, who are probably the closest this country has had to actual Nazis, though they had no idea of it. The Charlottesville Mad Max driver came of age under the Obama Administration, and that’s also when he became a Nazi, years prior to the rise of Trump. His mother had to call 911 on him three times, once for attacking her with a knife.

                Trump needs to strongly denounce both sides. Both sides. We have Nazis fighting fascists, anarchists, and communists in the streets, just like Germany in the 1920’s. Some of the Nazis will probably get attacked and killed by red activists, and then they’ll have their Kütemeyer.

                Trump wants us to come together as Americans and reject the radicals on both sides. Both sides. And there were two sides, both armed. The press wants us to pick a side. To denounce the Nazis without denouncing the anarchists, communists, and antifa forces who are far more numerous and far more violent.

                Certainly Romney or McCain would have denounced the Nazis without hesitation, but that’s because they’re knee-jerk politicians who don’t look ahead.

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                • Out of morbid curiosity how did Obama denigrate white people? There must be some fiery speeches you can quote or policies you can point to? The only thing I can imagine you’d quote might be his God and Guns comment but that was directed at the socialcons which the active and dominant wing of the GOP at large in Charlotte clearly isn’t part of.

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                  • You didn’t build that. Acted stupidly. Trayvon could have been my son. Act of workplace violence. Whites need to understand that racism didn’t go away after Jim Crow.

                    2015 American values survey. 25% of Americans said there was a lot of discrimination against… whites. 45% of the Tea Party answered that way, along with 36% of Republicans and 16% of Democrats.

                    From Slate:

                    The Obama era didn’t herald a post-racial America as much as it did a racialized one, where millions of whites were hyperaware of and newly anxious about their racial status. For example, during a Marco Rubio rally before the New Hampshire primary in February, I spoke to a voter who, in her way, gave voice to this hyperawareness. “I think he’s divided this country in many ways,” said Lori, an older white woman, of Obama. “I know in a lot of places in America there’s a divide in color … like, when I walk up to someone in the stores”—she looked at me to emphasize what she means—“I feel that they’re wondering if I like them. … I didn’t feel that before. I was accepting of everyone, and I hate that he brought that.”

                    And here’s a 2013 paper Slate linked, The Return of Old Fashioned Racism to White Americans’ Partisan Preferences in the Early Obama Era (pdf)

                    It begins:

                    Old fashioned racism (OFR) was unrelated to white Americans’ partisan preferences throughout the post-civil rights era. This study argues OFR could return to white partisanship following decades of dormancy because of Obama’s presidency.

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                    • It seems like there’s an important difference between the statements, “Some white people felt denigrated,” and, “Obama denigrated white people.”

                      I’m having a very hard time drawing a straight line from “You didn’t build that,” to something like, “Suck it, whitey,” without deciding that the person drawing that line is the one with the issue. Simply put, it starts to sound like Obama was “denigrating white people” just by being Obama.

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                    • So basically a bunch of statements that were merely offensive to non-racially related right wing sensibilities and then were spun into being anti white by Fox and Right Wing commentators? I sort of expected as much but was half wondering if you had anything more, well, concrete to give an example of. Do you personally interpret those comments that way? Do you honestly think Obama’s comments that you cited were anti-white?

                      Of course the white racialists can say “It’s not what he said or intended that matters, it’s who he is, how we interpret it and how we feel about it that matters.” which puts them right in the same boat as the intersectional progressive far left that they scorn so fiercely. That is mildly amusing.

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            • The problem is that when you ask what people would do if “actual Nazis were going to march in your town,” you had better be precise with your definition. Do you mean some friendless reject living in his basement, enjoying the multiplier factor of internet exchange and notoriety? Or you actually talking about actual people with power? Do you mean the thirty percent or so that approve of Trump? Actual NAZIs should be killed. Attention trolls should be ignored. And OT should ban the troll who keeps calling one of its contributors/editors a NAZI-enabler.

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              • Damon,
                Well, that was some of them. not the ones the Bushes were around, mostly. (They had multiple programs).
                The former nazi my friend the jew worked with was useful in smuggling information (and probably other stuff) into and out of East Germany. (As is not surprising, he always “knew a guy”)

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    • Yet millions of voted for Trump. Not as many as HRC but tens of millions did. The reasons for voting for anyone are complicated.

      Some voting is pure partisanship. But there should be a point where moral agency kicks in. Trump flirted and outright associates with racists, white nationalists, and their rhetoric. At what point are Trump voters responsible for yesterday? I don’t think the hundreds that showed up yesterday would be as emboldened if HRC was President. Trump emboldens the racists.

      We seem to treat Republicans as if they are free of agency.

      Also racism operates on a spectrum. You are right that the rally was small but there are millionans who could agree with the rhetoric but not to the point of extreme rhetoric.

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      • The people who voted for him do have agency and I think there’s a lot of worthy ridicule to be dished out (I’ll be laying some on my dad later this evening). The same can be said for the right wing media outlets that turned him into a politician.

        What scares me is losing perspective in comforting myths about who we are really up against. The parallels arent exact but it reminds me of the conservatives who had their own comforting myths about Obama being in league with Saul Alinsky inspired terrorists or the New Black Panthers keeping people from voting. The country collectively went through it with Islamic terrorism after 9/11.

        In a group of 300 million you can find plenty of people with out there and downright crazy beliefs. Maybe the Trump presidency has emboldebed some nutty people (no one seems to have hard evidence of that). What we shouldn’t do is mistake them as the cause of our various policy failures and other social and political problems.

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        • That does make sense to me, but the comforting myth I’m afraid of is that these people are just a few nuts that don’t really make a difference. That would be *super*-comforting to me because it would mean just going back to ignoring them and going about my normal business of trying to be as locally kind and helpful and politically involved as I can manage, secure in the belief that they’re NOT actually going to start taking over cities and reigning down vigilante and/or state-sponsored violence like they did (most recently) during the Civil Rights movement.

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          • I do understand why people are upset by it and I don’t at all want to appear as though I don’t sympathize with those who are afraid. The images are very disturbing and its exacerbated by our mass media culture that profits on fear and panic. Its when things like this happen that I think its most important to try to stay grounded in reason.

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    • Yep. The press and the counter-protesters are giving the Nazis and Klansmen a huge recruiting platform. The current high-profile and popularity is a reaction to the massive antifa, BLM, and Mexican nationalist riots that ran through the election campaign.

      The left’s normal leadership couldn’t reign in the riots and protests because they were grass roots and being organized on social media, where the youth were competing for status and leadership by seeing who could be the most extreme and violent. This brought up an odd law of protest movements, where the leadership is driven by the logic that it’s better to do something horrifying and become the leader of a failed shrinking group than to be a powerless nobody in a successful, growing group. Better to be the commander of a platoon than a corporal in a battalion.

      Anyway, the images of those protests, especially in California, angered all sorts of folks who decided to get organized to fight them, and the same platoon logic kicked in. At this point the alt-right are basically trolling, knowing the counter-protesters will take the bait. The night-time tiki-torch gathering, an obvious nod to Nuremberg rallies, couldn’t be more blatant.

      Now the left is looking for blood payback, so the next protest-counter protest is guaranteed to result in spectacular fireworks. Events are being driven by people on both sides who have an IQ of about 85, but on the bright side, we can reflect back on the 2008 election and give thanks for all the racial healing!

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    • I think this is a really good point i.e. the Al Qadea effect… I’ll try to sit on the fence here and point out that both sides are guilty of this. The Right sees terrorists everywhere and the Left says they are over-reacting. Meanwhile, liberals are grossly exaggerating the threat of white supremacists in America, and the Right dismisses their fears.

      I tend to come down on the side of us all being a little more brave and a little less afraid of everything.

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        • How many serious people are calling for an AQ-effect? We want the President to denounce Nazi/racist inspired violence and terrorism. That’s very different than the Islamiphobia that arose post-9/11.

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          • The simple act of calling it terrorism is telling. It’s not. It’s some seriously terrible people having a very insignificant rally that turned very ugly.

            I’m also curious about the motivations for asking the President to denounce it. Let’s say he did…forcefully. He said exactly what President Obama would have said. Would you feel better? Would the Left think a little better of him?

            I’m not defending Trump as much as I am calling out the concern trolling here. The President is awful. I’ll give you that. But when you all make demands, isn’t it really just creating another opportunity for him to fail? I mean, I’ve had terrible bosses in the past. At a certain point I demand nothing of them because it serves no purpose other than to watch them fail me again. The President has already proved he isn’t a leader. He’s already proved he will endorse the Alt-Right with his silence. What more are you trying to prove here?

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              • Indeed. Like, fucking seriously — an angry, radicalized white man deliberately driving his car into a crowd to express his politicized anger is absolutely terrorism.

                Utterly and completely a central example of the term, minus one factor, the absence of brown skin.

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              • Are they empowered because he didn’t denounce them, or because you all are pointing it out?

                Yes. Someone is dead. A tragedy. One person losing control of their temper and doing something horrible. How does that change things from 5 minutes beforehand?

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                • “One person losing control of their temper and doing something horrible. ”

                  One person *in the middle of a riot deliberately sparked off by people espousing white supremacy* *driving their car into a crowd*, Mike. We’re not talking about a random dude going off in the corner store here. Why on earth do you think he just “lost control of his temper”???? Those folks went there ready to be violent, to commit terroristic acts, and then *he was violent* as he had been egged on and prepared and *led* to be by folks like Richard Spencer. The “he just snapped” narrative is really out of alignment with the facts.

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                  • I think it fits pretty well. There’s no evidence he planned even fifteen minutes in advance, or however long it took him to walk to his car. He may have even thought it up when he was already driving through town. We’ll know more as the investigation proceeds.

                    But the police were stood down and just allowed the armed protesters and counter protesters to go at it for hours, verbally and physically, without trying to separate them. The mobs were beating each other with sticks, spraying each other with pepper spray, and the antifa people were hurling rocks, cans filled with concrete, and bottles filled with urine. Antifa and the communists came to fight, and came in huge numbers.

                    If you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of people engaged in such a fight, and just one of them gets mad enough to really pop, you’re going to have a disaster. Fortunately nobody was shot, unlike when Republican congressmen have baseball practice, but one paralegal was killed and many others are in critical condition.

                    Nor did the right plan terrorism, or else they wouldn’t have used a goober in a Challenger. The Klan has protests in Charlottesville all the time. They were there several times before, including last year. This time antifa came to stop them, and the antifa’s online statements of intended violence are what caused the mayor to try an rescind the permit for the Lee protest. A judge struck that down, so both groups went ahead with their plans.

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                • It takes some very, very charitable assumptions to chalk that up to “losing control of their temper.”

                  Trump doesn’t have to denounce the Nazis specifically if he doesn’t want to, or doesn’t feel like it’s the right thing to do.

                  And we can judge quite a bit, I believe, that he didn’t see any reason to do so.

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                  • Well, first off you have a twenty-year old who self-Nazified in high school. That right there says he’s got a few screws loose. He was probably reading quite a bit about Hitler, watching Youtube videos (Hitler was a GREAT speaker), and getting pretty set in the belief that will is everything. Will and strength, blood and iron, self-sacrifice, etc. Basically, taking bold action. The kid was also a fan of the Waffen-SS, which in the early days was all about reckless attack.

                    Spend about two hours threatening that kid, taunting him, and throwing things at him and his new friends, and you’ve got one torqued up kid burning to strike a blow, make a mark, teach a lesson, wipe out his enemies, the evil communists, Jews, and mud races.

                    And he’s got a Dodge Challenger, the honey badger of cars.

                    Obviously not a whole lot of planning went into the attack or he’d have borrowed or stolen some other loser’s car with blacked out windows, crashed into a bunch of people, peeled out of there, and dumped the busted up stolen vehicle. Given the lack of a police presence, he could have gotten away with it.

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            • Mike Dwyer: I’m also curious about the motivations for asking the President to denounce it. Let’s say he did…forcefully. He said exactly what President Obama would have said. Would you feel better? Would the Left think a little better of him?

              Why does that even matter? This is a serious national matter, and usually when things get elevated to this level, it’s historically gotten the attention of the President of the United States and he’s said what needed said.

              Even if it does matter, have you stopped to think that maybe people are asking because they have absolutely no faith he’ll do the right thing?

              People asking him to do anything isn’t going to create an opportunity to fail. Trump does that brilliantly on his own.

              It’s almost comical that we’re having this conversation.

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              • The real tragedy here is Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch turning into excitable leftists. Thank God cooler heads like Seb Gorka and Steve Bannon prevailed.

                (By the way, did everyone see Mike Pence’s Tweet that, yes, Nazis are bad, but the real problem is people being mean to Trump? Trump is the biggest snowflake in the history of the world. He makes whiny two-year-olds look like Marine drill sergeants.)

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              • “Even if it does matter, have you stopped to think that maybe people are asking because they have absolutely no faith he’ll do the right thing?”

                Those are exactly my thoughts. If you have no expectation that someone will do the right thing A) Why would you ask and B) What do you hope to get out of the exercise?

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                • Umm… when its the g-d president of the united states, the answers are: (1) because this stuff matters; and (2) because maybe he’ll get better, but also because it increases the odds that he’s temporary.

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                • Mike,
                  DUDE! We might get him to call Putin a “Son of A Whore”!
                  We might get world war III!
                  (Or, more seriously — assuming Donald Trump is not a DC Comic Book Villain — we might get some good propaganda to solidify the leftist base with “how awful is this guy? he’s a joke”)

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            • I’m also curious about the motivations for asking the President to denounce it.

              I’m not usually a fan of the “he failed to shout condemnations hard enough” game, but Donald Trump forcefully condemns a half dozen things before breakfast every day, totally unprompted. Allies, TV shows, fellow politicians. He’s not shy about it. But given every opportunity, and even asked point blank, he has done everything he can to weasel out of saying that the crowd of white supremacists who voted for him are bad.

              I don’t think that means he’s a white supremacist. I don’t think he feels that strongly about the issue because it doesn’t matter to him. I think it reflects badly on him because he’s clearly willing to sell out even a minor gesture at decent American behavior to hold on to the support of some of his die hard fans.

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              • I agree on both your points – given his fondness for condemning things his lack of condemnation is telling in a way it wouldn’t be if we were talking about a President like Calvin Coolidge who avoiding making public pronouncements of nay kind.

                And I think his attitude is more likely a kind of transnational nihilism than any actual sympathy for white supremacists, not that that’s a defence.

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                • And here’s the desired effect. Here’s the Stormfront live blog response to Trump’s statements:

                  Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

                  He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!

                  So he implied the antifa are haters.

                  There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

                  He said he loves us all.

                  Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

                  No condemnation at all.

                  When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

                  Really, really good.

                  God bless him.

                  So the statements had the desired effect: Giving some amount of cover to his “respectable” supporters to defend him on this while making sure he kept the loyalty of the white supremacist voting bloc.

                  Would Trump have dodged the question, “How much does Rosie O’Donnell suck?”

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              • Even when he had an already weaselly statement (condemning the violence, but not actual Nazism or white supremacy) he literally couldn’t do it. He ad-libbed in the “many sides” thing to weaken it further.

                That was pure Trump, shining through.

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                • Last time I checked, there was violence from both sides. I know you and others here would like to portray the right as those mean folks and the left is pure as snow but it just isn’t so. Both sides acted inexcusably.

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                  • That’s true. Both sides did commit violence.

                    Both sides probably do a lot of things we could talk about. But only one side was pushing white supremacy and waving Nazi flags.

                    This is why I’m bothered by all the talk about violence over everything else. Skirmishes break out at political rallies and demonstrations all the time and while it’s inexcusable, people acting in bad faith use that as a distraction from what the protests were really about.

                    Here’s what the protests were really about: One side was pushing in favor of naked racism and hate and the other side was pushing back. Any attempt at finding something that “both sides” are guilty of is just a clumsy attempt to distract from that fact.

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                      • So at its core, it really was all just a mundane disagreement about whether we should move some molecules from one place to another, and symbolism like Nazi flags and chants are all just people reading too much into it?

                        I mean, it’s just the usual Nazi flag thing that shows up all the time at every public event, right? Statues in parks, water rates, school bonds, etc. Just the usual stuff with Nazi symbolism and nothing racially charged at all.

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                        • I think you’re mostly right, but it’s worth looking at why this might not seem totally clear cut, even to people analyzing it in good faith. I agree that you don’t get to go goosestepping around with the flag of Nazi Germany then say your message isn’t related to the things Nazi Germany stood for. They have to own that and any equivocation is pathetic and helps prove what cowards they are.

                          What confuses this is that it happened in a college town where the protest culture is now heavily intermingled with the intersectionaly cult. We don’t really know what the counter protesters stood for. To the extent its opposing racism and the ideology of the Third Reich they should be applauded. To the extent its related to intersectionality one side really isn’t much better than the other in this context. They both share the same assumptions about race, their preferred heirarchies are just different. In that regard I can’t think of two groups more deserving of each other.

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                          • During the Third Reich, there were Nazis, who believed Jews were genetically inferior, and anti-Nazis, who believed the Jews were being persecuted by Nazis. In short, both groups believed that Jews and non-Jews were unequal, that some sort of racial hierarchy was at play in the nation of Germany. How can either side possibly have more merit than the other?

                            I hope my snark there was clear enough. To say “they both share the same assumptions about race, their preferred heirarchies are just different” is practically an argument from wordplay. You are free to disagree with intersectionalists, but don’t pretend they are in remotely the same ballpark as racists.

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                          • So why do you suppose the purpose “got lost” in a rally over this particular issue and not some other one? Not, say, a pro-life rally or an anti-war rally or something else? Cosmic coincidence? Antifa false flags?

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                    • I was a poly sci major in college so my education says they are part of the “right” whether I agree with them or not. I’m not trying to make a no true Scotsman argument. I will say I don’t agree with them just to set the record straight. Does that make you feel better?

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              • I think this assessment is probably right but I also hate political gotcha, and I see it played by the Left a LOT. This feels pretty much the same. When you think someone is that terrible, if you truly expect them to not be terrible it either means a high degree of naivety or you’re hiding your intentions. I guess I’m a cynic when I think it’s mostly the latter for the liberals that are acting so hurt by this.

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                • My sense is that’s true, but it could be true for a couple of reasons. One might be that the callout culture is more deeply embedded in the culture of the left, and one might be that politicians on the right spend a lot more time trying not to offend their extremist wings, so it’s a more useful tool for liberals. My guess is that it’s a combination of the two, and there is some value in pinning down exactly what a politician’s message is.

                  To take an example from the opposite wing, I think it was useful and illuminating to watch Jill Stein thrash around to avoid saying, “vaccines don’t cause autism” because she knew perfectly well that a chunk of her voting bloc is kooks who wouldn’t like the correct answer. Instead of being a clear-headed leader, she chose to pander to them as long as she could, and getting her to state clearly what she believed on a black-and-white issue showed her true colors.

                  It seems like, “Are Nazi protesters worthy of at least as much condemnation as Rosie O’Donnel or the New York Times?” is one of those softball questions that should be a nothingburger, and if you’re having trouble answering it clearly under direct pressure, I think we should all think carefully about why. In this case, it was a useful exercise because it exposed something fairly unseemly in Trump’s nature that many of his supporters are having a hard time spinning. In so far as what it exposed is true, it’s good for everybody.

                  The type of condemnation gotcha that I don’t approve of is complaints that POTUS didn’t prioritize your condemnation the way you wanted (“Waah, he’s talking about some other issue and he didn’t make a statement about the thing I think is important soon enough!”), not the inability to respond to a point blank, “Do you think Nazis are bad?”

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              • Denouncing Nazis and out-right white supremacists is like…easy mode for a politician.

                It’s the most no-brainer move in politics.

                Unless, of course, you have sympathies for that ideology or want their vote. In which case you’re either one yourself, or you’re happy to promote their views in return for their votes — in which case, you might as well be one.

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              • I think the main issue for me is that I gave up on the idea of a President Trump that wasn’t terrible about 6.5 months ago. So I expect absolutely zero from him other than to try not to start World War 3. Him commenting on this in any way, good or bad, doesn’t move the needle for me at all.

                On the other hand, I’m sure the previous 4 presidents would have said the right thing. I think they were usually good in these moments. And I would have been okay with hearing from any of them.

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                • I think it’s important that this stuff keeps coming out because, while it doesn’t move the needle for you or me, there are a lot of people who still don’t seem to have clear picture of who Donald Trump is. Some people need a pile of irrefutable evidence before they’ll even start to consider that they might have missed something.

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                • Glad to know you’re officially too cool to give a crap about politics.

                  Unfortunately, they still matter to a lot of people’s lives. Whether or not you “gave up.” I hope Trump stops pushing for WWIII. I also hope that people who need healthcare can still afford insurance. I hope that people who need the government’s help to eat do not go hungry. I hope that people who don’t need tax breaks are not given any (particularly on the backs of the previous two groups). Etc. Etc. So even though I–like you–don’t expect a good presidency out of Trump, it doesn’t mean I’m going to check out.

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            • The simple act of calling it terrorism is telling. It’s not. It’s some seriously terrible people having a very insignificant rally that turned very ugly.

              has this exactly right. It is violence designed to scare others, which is what terrorism actually is. It also uses the same exact method routinely called terrorism when seriously terrible people who happen to have brown skin do it.

              As to the balance of your point, the problem is that Trump encourages this kind of stuff. He routinely called for violence during the campaign, encouraged police brutality as recently as this month, and has a troubling tendency to do things that sure look like support for the blood-and-soil crowd. Had he used this as an opportunity to counter that last point, it would–in fact–have caused me to think a little better of him. Instead, it confirms my judgment of him.

              Finally, you seem to gloss over the key difference between reaction to this and reaction to islamic terrorists. The left does not say we must love/accept/tolerate islamic terrorists, but instead suggests that not all members of the islamic faith are terrorists, and that it is valuable to distinguish between the groups. The right tends to disagree. Here, the left is not calling for all white christians to be treated as nazis, but is simply saying we should reject and censor the actual nazis. The right, writ large, seems to be saying much the same thing (though we’ll see what happens next). The president and his apologists, however, not so much.

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          • He’s been doing that for well over a year. Campaigning against racist violence is what got him elected.

            2015 story from the Daily Wire: Violent Racial Protests Will Help Elect Trump

            In Cleveland Trump said:

            “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country…I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end: Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”

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      • Mike,
        The right would like us to believe that nuns breaking onto Oak Ridge is evidence of terrorism.
        We do have a terrorist problem in America. It’s homegrown, and you can’t tell me where it is, because you’ve never heard of it. But there are places in America where if folks don’t like you, they burn your house down (wood’s cheap).

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  5. The most recent similar thing that I can think of is Dylann Roof murdering nine people in a church.

    I’m not sure how important the rallies and marches that followed that (horrible) event were.

    I’m not sure how important the rallies and marches that will follow this (horrible) event will be.

    Which is not to say that I know what *WILL* work. I don’t. I have no idea how this gets turned around.

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    • Back in 1998, Benjamin Smith went on a multi-state killing spree, trying to drive-by kill a dozen different representatives of mud races, killing two, wounding ten, and missing nine. This was all to stoke racial tensions. And then the leader of his “World Church of the Creator” had a federal judge’s husband and mother killed (or I think he tried to have the “probable Jew” murdered, but only her family was home at the time)

      So far these types of killing don’t appear to provoke the cycle of violent recriminations that create the sought-after race war. Maybe this time things will be different if the focus is on Trump.

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    • Which is not to say that I know what *WILL* work. I don’t. I have no idea how this gets turned around.

      I don’t think anyone does, with certainty. I do, however, think lots of us know things that *WON’T* work (pretending this is normal, pretending both sides are equally responsible, pretending the value of nazi views is debatable, etc.)

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  6. Burt, I have to disagree with this:

    “…for the first time in our history, the White House is run by men who wink and dog whistle their barely-concealed approval of this sort of thing.”

    Read up on Woodrow Wilson. This has happened before.

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  7. notme:
    I call bull shit. If trump is a racist then why did he open his golf clubs to backs and Jews?

    Because it’s pretty much unacceptable in this day and age not to do so. Big Tweet loves money and profit above all else.

    While I’m not sure whether he’s a racist or just plays one for his base, it doesn’t really matter. He clearly courted white nationalists during his campaign and benefitted from their votes. I said during the run-up to the election that he was setting loose dark forces that would not easily be repressed after November. The last few months have shown that statement to be true.

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    • Trump’s the one that made such discrimination unacceptable. Palm Beach had no problems locking blacks and Jews out of the upper tiers. Trump went to court time and time again to change that.

      Obama’s administration was blatantly anti-Jewish, pro-Palestinian. He also weaponized black anger. The dark forces had already been unleashed long before Trump threw his hat in the ring. Trump campaigned on bringing everybody together. He had tons of blacks and Hispanics and gays on stage with him. He decried the way the Democrats had divided Americans by race, class, and gender. Hillary, on the other hand, called Republicans irredeemable bigots, a basket of deplorables, continuing that they were “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”

      Some of what drove Trump’s support was a reaction to that, and a reaction to BLM burning down whole neighborhoods while police were stood down, and Mexicans destroying police cars and attacking people while, again, the police were stood down.

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      • @george-turner
        …BLM burning down whole neighborhoods while police were stood down, and Mexicans destroying police cars and attacking people while, again, the police were stood down.

        Can you please produce the slightest cite for this?

        Not even proof, just literally two sources that claims those two events happens.

        (And I’ve fairly confused as to how you are going to find a group of ‘Mexicans’ doing anything in America, but whatever.)

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          • You think Ferguson had the police officers stood down? Are you a complete lunatic?

            The very first day of the unrest, in fact *before* the unrest, Ferguson assembled 150 police in riot gear. That day, thirty people were arrested.

            As I have mentioned before, Ferguson police were actually ordered by the courts to stop tear gassing people faster than they could follow orders to disperse. That’s literally a matter of public record.

            There is no possible understanding of the universe in which Ferguson officers were ‘stood down’ while they arrested and illegally (and legally) tear gassed people!

            Do you want to try again with the claim: ‘BLM burning down whole neighborhoods while police were stood down‘ Because Ferguson does not work.

            Meanwhile, at the San Jose rally, there was several minutes where protesters attacked cars where no police happened to be. So there were no police. But they were not, in any sense, ‘stood down’, they just weren’t expecting trouble there so weren’t at that location for a bit.

            After that point, the police continued to try to regain control of the situation until they did. It admittedly took a while, but that was not because of anyone ‘standing down’.

            Please note that temporarily retreating and falling back to a better position because they are under attack is not the same as being ‘stood down’.

            It’s especially odd to claim the police were stood down while the protesters attacked police cars. The police stood down but left their cars? In reality, the protesters, of course, attacked _occupied_ police cars.

            Being stood down is when the police are given orders to not do anything. Either from the highers up at the police, or from some other part of the government. That is what ‘stood down’ means. That is the phrase you used, repeatedly.

            It is what actually happened at Charlottesville, as far as anyone can tell. The police just stood passively by.

            So let’s just simplify this: Please present a single protest or rally or riot by the left, any of them at all, where people were out control, committing violence and property damage…and the police didn’t immediately start attempting to regain control, but instead were ordered to stand aside and let it play out.

            A. Single. One.

            Well, before Charlottesville. (Assuming you want to assume anti-Nazis are ‘the left’.)

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            • Ferguson burned, while the massive police presence watched, not wanting to provoke things. We watched it burn on TV. As you mention, they were ordered by the courts to stop using tear gas. Ferguson burned.

              And as for your challenge, that would be almost all of the protests against Trump.

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              • During any point that ‘Fergasuon burned’, the police were out, en mass, arresting people, and attempting to disperse people. And often crossed legal lines while doing so. This is not some sort of debatable thing. We have records of how many police officers there were, and we have records of arrests.

                They were on high alert the entire time, in fact, as I’ve pointed out, they brought in over a hundred officers from another precinct and had everyone in riot gear yelling at people and closing down streets before any general ‘unrest’ happened. (I.e., their behavior helped start the problems.)

                Are you asserting the police were ‘ordered to stand down’ because they didn’t do anything about the fires?

                The police are not, in fact, supposed to do anything about a building on fire except possibly keep people away.

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      • If you say and do bad things but deep down, you know they’re wrong, what does that say about you other than that you know better?

        If an otherwise nonviolent kid robs a liquor store for the approval of his peers, do you give him a pass because he’s just pretending to be a thug?

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        • This isn’t the best analogy — Trump hasn’t really done anything obviously racist*. It’s more like some friends of his robbed a liquor store and he found out about it but still hung out with them. That doesn’t make him a criminal but it does suggest that he’s not too bothered by it.

          *leaving aside things like the immigration policies he advocates, which some folks insist are driven by racism but which aren’t necessarily so.

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