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Me and the General Lee

The leaders of the Civil War shouldn’t be honored, but they should be remembered.

Twenty years ago during a family reunion in Central Louisiana, my cousin shared the genealogy work he had been doing on our family. It was fascinating looking at what had been a years-long project. Through records, he was able to show this history of the Sanders family from probably not long after we came to America in chains to the present. You could see how the family moved from South Carolina to Alabama and Mississippi, finally settling in Louisiana. It was fascinating because that movement was one that took place when my ancestors were slaves. We even found a name for one of the slaveholders, a gentleman who was originally from Northern Ireland. Knowing I descended from slaves is one thing, but seeing it there in yellowed papers is quite another.

When I was a kid, one of my most favorite television shows that wasn’t a cartoon was the Dukes of Hazzard. Growing up in Michigan where my parents were autoworkers, I had to love a show about cars. Friday nights were special as I would sit and see Bo and Luke Duke try to outrun the inept and corrupt Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane and the head of Hazzard County, Boss Jefferson David Hogg. But of course, the star of the show was the General Lee, a 1969 Dodge Charger painted in blazing orange with the Confederate Flag on the roof. The horn played Dixie when it was pressed.

I share these two stories, because they are a part of me, and yet they seem so diametrically opposed to each other. Here I am, the descendant of slaves, watching a TV show in the late 1970s that could be seen as a celebration of the Confederacy. I am a walking contradiction.

In the wake of the recent ghastly gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of one counter-protester and when we finally saw our president become the cheerleader for white nationalism, there is a frantic push to get rid of any statue or plaque that might look kindly on the old Confederacy.

Mentally, I think this is a good thing. A lot of the monuments that went up around the South were placed there decades after the Civil War in order to assert who was in charge to African Americans. They are paeans to a movement that sought to break the United States apart. It could be seen as rewarding people who are nothing more than traitors.

And yet in my gut, I feel that something is off. I wonder if we are moving too fast, too quick to try to brush away the bad in our history. I wonder what effect it will have on understanding the Civil War. I wonder if all of this purging will stop with the Confederacy or will it move on to other figures in American history who owned slaves. I worry this is being done out of fear and anger and maybe a bit of punishment rather than to right past wrongs. As a Christian, I wonder if we are leaning too much on judgement and not on grace.

I wanted to write more specifically about race relations after the horror of Charlottesville, but I feel the need to address this issue and more importantly how we as Christians should deal with it. I’ve hesitated talking about it, because it’s such a fraught issue and when it comes to dealing with controversial issues, I am a bit of a coward. I really, really don’t want people yelling at me. But I am more and more bothered with how this issue is being addressed, especially by those who are in favor of removing the statues. The issues that are brought to the fore, race relations, the uses of history and even how we deal with past enemies are things that must be dealt with carefully and in a spirit of love and reconciliation. But what I am witnessing in the aftermath of Charlottesville is more about settling scores than it is about doing justice, about right thinking than it is about reconcilation.

As a rule, I’ve come to the conclusion that Confederate statues should be removed or at the very least recontexualized. I do understand that many of the statues revering Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson were not put up in the immediate years following the war, but sometimes decades following the conflict, in the early 20th century and later in the civil rights era of the 50s and 60s. I also understand why they were put up: in most cases to send a message to African Americans about who was in charge here. So I get that the statues are not placed with noble intent.

But I worry how we are going about removing statues. In some cases, it is being done in a rush with no thought other than wanting to get rid of anything that reminds people of the Confederacy. But how we remove some past vestiges is also a matter of grace. How do we extend love in this situation? How do we show ourselves as following a better way?

In 1990, America was captivated by a mini-series on of all networks, PBS. It was Ken Burns, The Civil War. By using photos and actors to supply voices to major characters, he was able to make it seem like we were right there at some of the major battles. He could have used actors to stage reenactments, but the voices alone were captivating. His look on the Civil War was far from sentimental; it was hard-edged about the causes of the war (hint: it’s slavery).

But there was something that was unique to the series, something that shows how different we are as a nation in 2017. He portrayed the people in the Confederacy as human beings, not sadistic monsters or traitors. The cause was wrong and the series is clear about that, but when it focuses on the people who made up the Confederacy, they were treated with a sense of dignity. Here’s how Matthew Cooper described this in 2015:

… at a time when the confederate flag is rightly being taken off of public buildings and put in museums — though individuals may unfurl it as they wish — it’s startling to see that the Robert E. Lee that Burns presented is a sympathetic, noble soldier, not a 19th century version of Heinrich Himmler. The narration of Mary Chesnut, a white antebellum woman whose diary runs through the film like a red skein, inspires understanding, not scorn. We hear the voices of Confederate soldiers — hungry and homesick — like their counterparts in blue.

Shelby Foote, the author of a three-volume work on the war, is a central narrator. The grandson of a Confederate, the Mississippian even looks like a gray-uniformed officer and, as the New York critic John Leonard put it in 1990, “Everything during the war seems to have happened, that afternoon, on his porch.“ Foote’s drawl and deep interest in the details of battle — Stonewall Jackson eating a peach on his horse, surrounded by corpses, saying, “God has been very kind to us this day” — made him one of the breakout celebrities of the series.

Today, I think Foote would not be so well-received. The desire to banish any praise of Confederates, even if it’s their heroism in battle, and the urge to remove all tributes to them is common now. And it’s understandable in the age of the Charleston, South Carolina, shooting, but it’s not commendable. Burns showed that there was plenty of humanity in the Southerners promoting a cause. On a much smaller scale, the German film Das Boot tells the story of Nazi sailors on a doomed submarine. Having empathy for those who fought on the wrong side of history doesn’t mean condoning the wrong side of history. Removing monuments to Confederates or no longer holding a Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, as the Iowa Democratic Party has decided to do in a fit of piety, seems more like a desire to cleanse history rather than reckon with it.

Burns understood that the tragedy of the Civil War wasn’t just the body count — 625,000 military deaths, still the largest of any American war — the mother who lost five sons, the piles of limbs, the Dachau-like skeletal cadavers at the Confederate prison in Andersonville, Georgia. The tragedy of the war is also that it was a necessary war, a conflict begun with the political objective of keeping the Union together was lifted to a higher plane as Lincoln and the North came to see that emancipation was the fight.

I think Burns exhibited a sense of grace about the project. The Confederate soldiers didn’t deserve it, but it was extended anyway. Burns sought to treat these soldiers who fought in some ways to tear the young nation apart with a sense of mercy.

I say this as an African American: we must see our enemies as humans. Yes, the Confederates’ cause was wrong, but that doesn’t mean the people who took the wrong side in the war must be discarded like trash. People have said that some of the leaders in Confederacy were old timey Nazis, going as far saying that Robert E. Lee dedicated his entire life to working against the Union. History shows that he was a loyal Union solider who made a grave mistake in choosing to side with an unholy government. But Lee still had features that people might want to emulate. Empathy, caring for the enemy, means we see our enemies as far more complex. It doesn’t ignore sin, but it does put it in context. Grace demands we treat the past with care in this case.

There is room for judgement as well. In the case of statues, it means being honest about past history and who deserves to be remembered and who doesn’t. It means looking at the different statues and learning who should have a statue and maybe who shouldn’t. Robert E. Lee has a more mixed history than you can give to Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the Klu Klux Klan. It makes sense to keep one and maybe have it in a battlefield or cemetery, and another that probably shouldn’t see the light of day. They aren’t all bad. But you have to have empathy to see that.

Why should we remove a statue? What is the good that it will do? Is it being done in a hurry to quell outrage? Is it being done after some sense of consensus and thought (and if people are Christians, prayer)? Is the desire to foster better race relations or is it to bring shame to those we don’t agree with?

From what I’ve seen in this frenzy, it feels like a desire to score points against the South instead of racial reconciliation. There is a reminder to tell people who won the war, rather than humble thankfulness of its conclusion.

I am reminded by something pastor Doug Skinner wrote in the aftermath of Charlottesville last week. He talked about how the removal of statues is only part of the solution:

As I understand it, the trigger for the violence on Saturday was the decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from the campus of the University of Virginia. This is something that is happening all over the South these days, including right here in Dallas. There is a debate brewing about the future of the Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park where Arlington Hall, a reproduction of Robert E. Lee’s ancestral home in Virginia, sits and hosts some of this city’s most fashionable weddings. The original Arlington Hall was confiscated by Abraham Lincoln to become the grounds for our National Cemetery when Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the United States Army to become the Commanding General of the Army of Virginia in the Confederacy. Trust me, there are going to be some tense debates at City Hall and some very vocal public protests along Turtle Creek about this before too long, and I get it.

I appreciate the wound that these monuments inflame. I see the offense that these memorials perpetuate. And personally I think that they more properly belong in a museum where they can be viewed and be interpreted as part of our history and not prominently displayed in a public space where their presence can be construed as some kind of lingering approval of slavery, or as some kind of latent longing for secession. But here’s what I also think, even if all the monuments go, even if all the buildings, parks, streets, and schools get renamed, we are still going to have a problem. Removing a statue and changing a name are ways of addressing the symptoms of a much deeper problem, the problem of racism. And the crucial question as I see it, is, how do we address this deeper problem? How do we put an end to racism?

Which leads me to another fear: that people will see the removal of every trace of the Confederacy as having done the job of dealing with racism. I can imagine a number of whites saying “Whew! I’m glad we got that settled.” We will look at racism as if it was just the problem of some statues and loser millennials and not a larger problem that will take decades to deal with. Removing statues is the easy part. It can make us look virtuous. The harder challenge is then tackling some of those living issues that are a result of America’s racist past: like the ongoing police brutality problem or the disparities in wealth. Dealing with changing people’s hearts takes a lot of time and is much harder than removing a statue.

But I think the rush to expunge the Confederacy from American history has another consequence: to not see American history for what it has been, a very messy endeavor, one that is far from perfect, but has values that are still worth reclaiming. In 2017, we have reduced the Civil War to being a war with good and bad guys. But in doing that, we lose learning a lot of lessons from it. As an African American, I could just limit myself to talking about the war about slavery and wanting to damn anyone involved with the Confederacy. Slavery was the factor and the Confederacy aren’t heroes, but even people on the other side are human and there are lessons to be learned.

Future Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes had this to say about the Civil War, 20 years after having served in it:

We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluble; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred convictions that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every man with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief.

Holmes was magnanimous towards his former enemies without saying their cause was just. He could see that his Southern enemies were human, just like himself, and were deserving of respect, even though they were on the wrong side.

This war over the Civil War is in many ways another way of fighting the culture wars and it shows how we view the other. Our widening political polarization means that the other side is not honorable. We can’t look at someone with another view as simply having another view. We have lost empathy towards the enemy or the other.

As I’ve said before, I do think there is a case for moving the statues to museums and battlefields, but I don’t like why we as a culture are doing this. What made the Civil War interesting is because it is so complex and so much what America is, complex and messy – just like how an African American who is aware of being descended from slaves, loved an old TV show that was the Confederacy on 4 wheels.

Thirty years ago, I went with my parents to Washington, DC. We went to Arlington and that’s when I heard about the history of Arlington, that it was the residence and grounds of one Robert Edward Lee. The guide told a story of how Lee looked out from his house to the rolling hills as he made the decision to join the Confederacy, knowing it would be the last time he would be here. And it was. The Union appropriated the property and it became Arlington National Cemetery.

I knew that Lee was on the wrong side. I was glad his side lost. But I did in that moment understand how it felt to lose something because of a choice — and I felt for this long dead Confederate.

Lincoln said at the end of his second Inaugural that the task of the nation was to come together.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Lincoln was able to see that we were more than the cartoons we sometimes hurl at each other. I wish that our modern America was more nuanced in how we viewed the past as well as the present and join in Lincoln’s endeavor.


Staff Writer

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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323 thoughts on “Me and the General Lee

  1. Nice piece Dennis. My very first reaction, mid essay in fact, was that for somethings it will always be to fast for some. There will never be a good time or pace to take down those statues. To fast for some is way overdue for others.

    I do agree that there is plenty of over simplifying people or treating them as cartoons. It would be better to move past that. Reconciliation takes two sides and if we are really going to have a reckoning with our history that will mean the Lost Cause narratives and all that goes with it needs to go in the bin. You know that if this piece gets 100 responses, maybe just 50 or 25, someone will chime in with the CW was about slavery or the monuments aren’t about glorifying the cause of the Confederacy. I read a fair amount about the CW period on line and no discussion of it ever goes without all the Lost Cause tropes.

    Nobody is trying to wipe away everything to do with the war. That is hyperbole, of which there is boat loads , about this. The battlefields, cemeteries, books, etc all will still exist as they should. That overreach on “wipign evertying away” is unhelpful at best.

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    • greg,
      Forty more years.
      You’re forgetting the annuities.

      I don’t think I’ve seen many true lost causers around here. At least none that have the “The south cannot be beat, it can only be betrayed from within.” Or maybe they’re just ignorant fools.

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  2. Man, this is good Dennis. This part probably spoke the loudest to me:

    “Which leads me to another fear: that people will see the removal of every trace of the Confederacy as having done the job of dealing with racism. I can imagine a number of whites saying “Whew! I’m glad we got that settled.” We will look at racism as if it was just the problem of some statues and loser millenials and not a larger problem that will take decades to deal with. Removing statues is the easy part. It can make us look virtuous.”

    This absolutely a manufactured issue, created by whites, to show how much they care about racial harmony. Meanwhile, our justice system incarcerates non-violent minorities at an appalling rate and keeps them in prison instead of in their communities raising their families. Where’s the collective outrage there? How about all these folks with so much time on their hands start protesting outside prisons until the government sets these men free?

    I’m just so, so tired of white people creating faux outrage over stuff that grabs headlines, while refusing to do the hard work on issues of true importance.

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    • I’ve seen plenty of POC’s protesting and pulling down statues. This is most definitely not just white people pushing this. And as someone who is in favor of pulling down those statues i am far more outraged about the prison and policing issues.

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    • This absolutely a manufactured issue, created by whites, to show how much they care about racial harmony.

      Bull. Shit.

      Citation needed, in a big way.

      As to the rest, YES. Let’s do all the things to try to make the world a better place. Including very much those. But I’d be curious in your answer to one question: what credentials, exactly, must one present to devote energy to the issue here? How many hours of other work towards equality are required?

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    • “I’m just so, so tired of white people creating faux outrage over stuff that grabs headlines, while refusing to do the hard work on issues of true importance.”

      Yes… like invented claims of faux outrage!

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      • Imagine two people…

        One is named Mike. Mike is indifferent to the statues and doesn’t protest outside prisons.
        The other protests statues and doesn’t protest outside prisons.

        Clearly, Mike is the more virtuous one we should turn to for moral guidance on issues of race and racism in society. Maybe he can remind us again how the issue is really problems with black culture.

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        • This is really uncharitable and a bit disingenuous. You have no idea what work Mike does or doesn’t do about prisons.

          Try to respond to what people say (which in this case I also feel there is plenty to object to) and not to what you presume they mean, please.

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          • With all due respect, I disagree. Mike challenged those protesting the statues, stating the legitimacy and sincerity of their views is predicated upon their involvement in other movements he deems more important. He does so while offering his own perspective on the statues, yet offers no indication of his own involvement in these other, “more important” issues. If legitimacy is staked upon the proper priorities, it only seems fair to call into question Mike’s own priorities. Now, maybe he does protest outside prisons, something he can easily make known by responding to my comment. Thing is, a long time ago Mike decided I wasn’t worthy of response regardless of the tone or content of my comments. He felt I needed a “scolding” at his hands. So, absent any reasonable expectation of a response, I made an assumption predicated on his history writing here… none of which ever mentioned involvement in protests outside prisons.

            It was Mike who introduced this particular metric for determining the sincerity and legitimacy of people’s — white people in particular — feeling on the statue issue. As such, his own measure on this metric is fair game.

            Mike gets as much charitability as he offers others. In this particular thread, he leads by calling into question the sincerity of white liberals. That’s pretty damn uncharitable.

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            • And you’ll note I called him on that uncharitableness too.

              Point being, a civil community requires a certain amount of civil behavior even toward people you don’t feel are being civil.

              It also makes your comments a lot more intelligible to people who aren’t versed in the history of the community, and more compelling to people who don’t have the same perspective of Mike’s intentions that you do.

              You know these things! You have a ton of people skills. I’m not trying to condescend. I’m just asking you to be a kinder version of yourself than you are being here. Do it out of respect for the author of the original post, who is arguing for just that, if nothing else. (Not b/c you agree with his argument, but because I assume that you, like me, have a crapload of respect for him as a writer and a person.)

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    • “This absolutely a manufactured issue, created by whites, to show how much they care about racial harmony.”

      I think you will find this is quite wrong if you talk about this issue with people in the black community. Even in the OP that you were agreeing with, Dennis noted that as far as he was concerned,

      As a rule, I’ve come to the conclusion that Confederate statues should be removed or at the very least recontexualized. I do understand that many of the statues revering Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson were not put up in the immediate years following the war, but sometimes decades following the conflict, in the early 20th century and later in the civil rights era of the 50s and 60s. I also understand why they were put up: in most cases to send a message to African Americans about who was in charge here. So I get that the statues are not placed with noble intent.

      But I worry how we are going about removing statues. [emphasis mine – tk]

      Dennis isn’t white, and he doesn’t seem to want monuments to Lee (and others) any more than I do. He wants it done in a particular legal and respectful fashion, and he clearly wants people in the present and in the past on all sides to be treated treated with grace, but from what he says in the OP Dennis isn’t really the fan of these monuments you seem to suggest with that comment that he is.

      Which isn’t surprising to me. I honestly don’t know any black people of any age who think the statues are fine. Even black people I know who reject the very idea that America in 2017 still suffers from institutional racism think the monuments should go. And to hear them tell it, their community objected to these monuments not only on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, but all the way back to the the point in time that the monuments were in fact erected. And they have been been pretty steady in belief these monuments were wrong and should be replaced ever since.

      Is it a more recent trend in history that white are beginning to agree with them? Sadly, it is. Does it get more juice because of Trump, and particularly because of what Trump said after Char’ville? Yup. Are a lot of white people who are Tweeting about this and making Facebook posts being hypocrites, and will many of them not care about hit issue in two weeks when a new bright shiny object comes along? No doubt.

      But don’t casually wipe aside the very real and — believe it or not, Mike — very long-standing objections blacks and other people of color feel about these monuments that directly or indirectly tied to a slave system because some white millennium on Facebook irritated you.

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      • Very true. As long as i’ve had conversations with black people about race, back to the 90’s, they have disliked the C flag and monuments. Back then it was only a dream of getting them removed, but the hatred of them was always there.

        FWIW there are plenty of us white folks who have wanted them down for years. Yeah for some it is the issue de jour. But as with everything there are always people who hop on the daily issue and some for whom the issue has been a real thing for a long time. Pointing at the shallow people doesn’t address the issue or the people who have been fighting for years.

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      • Tod,

        I linked to multiple surveys that show less than 50% of blacks want the monuments So yes, I’m sure you can find many of them that want them removed, but the polling shows it’s not an issue that they are too concerned about as an entire community. As I quoted above, the most support you will find is when you break it down not by skin color, but by political party. And that exactly matches my understanding of the subject.

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        • The poll that allows the various breakdowns shows that Democrats are fairly close to black people in their preference to remove the statues (about split or a bare majority) while Republicans are massively opposed to it.

          So if we’re taking the preferences of black people as the gold standard for what’s right and fair in this case, it doesn’t seem to me that this is a manufactured issue being driven by Democrats holding a crazy view and dragging black people along for the ride. The split seems driven mostly by the delta between Republicans from both Democrats and black people.

          If we phrased it, “Republicans are much, much more likely than black people to want to keep the statues of Confederate generals up,” I think it’s at least as illuminating, and it’s probably driven by the same explanatory variables that cause black voters to vote D with around a 90% probability. The statues are almost certainly a symptom and not a cause.

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  3. What concerns me, as you point out, is that the Rush to Purge the Sin seems to be quite enthusiastic about the Purging, and really emphasizing the Rushing, and these things are being put together in a way that makes me wonder whether we won’t see an expansive definition of Sin so that people who arrive too late for the main party can still have some fun of their own.

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    • the Rush to Purge the Sin

      But this is exactly the framing error. No one is trying to “purge” the confederacy. The reason to take down statutes–as acknowledged in the article–is to “stop celebrating” the confederacy. Which hardly seems rushed 150 years later. Although people apparently feel very strongly that this shouldn’t be done, they seem only willing to express those feelings through illogical frames (no, this isn’t enough–but it’s a step in the right direction; no, this is not some plot by white liberals to attack the south; etc. etc)

      No one objects to civil war museums, civil war battlefields, or even private display of confederate regalia (though I certainly judge those who make that choice). No one is trying to erase history (except, perhaps, those who want to continue celebrating the Nathan Bedford Forrests of the world as heroes–for what I’m sure are purely cultural reasons)

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      • Let me first state that I am just fine moving all that history to museums or memorial parks. What I think is getting at is, the general populace didn’t frankly seem to give a crap about confederate statues 5 years ago, and for the most part seemed content to not care for a long time before that. Now, rather suddenly, it’s all “Very, very important” to get them moved straight away?

        Reminds me of the urgency to pass some law ‘for the children’, or to ‘save just one life’.

        I mean, yeah, let’s get them moved. If your city council feels it’s politically safe to move things about, then yeah. If they don’t, start a petition and show them that it is. Or show them that it isn’t politically safe to not do it.

        But all this fiery urgency is what gets people to vandalize public property, or hit it with their cars, or try to attach explosives to it.

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        • I think it’s obviously correct to say that the effort has picked up steam (because it has started to succeed, and because its opponents have made their entries in the proud tradition of their parents’ generation.

          That said, if the assertion is that “let’s stop celebrating the confederacy” is somehow a new position, you’re mistaken (e.g.). If anything, it has had a trajectory more like gay rights, in that a small group has been passionate and devoted for a long time, and finally got people engaged enough to say “oh, yeah, that makes sense” and achieved significant gains.

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          • and finally got people engaged enough to say “oh, yeah, that makes sense” and achieved significant gains.

            Then it should be no problem getting petitions signed, or making their case to governing bodies, etc.

            I just want people to stop trying to destroy public or private property. That never leads anywhere good.

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            • If you look at what has been happening wrt these statues, they are being removed after a lengthy process of people raising awareness, getting petitions sighed, and local govt voting to take them down.

              The reason it all has become a ‘hot’ issue is not the people advocating removal but the vocal, but loud and frequently violent, minority opposing it. When a town or college decides to remove a statue, most normal people shrug, or at most grumble. But for these statues a bunch white supremacists show up carrying torches and long guns. And in Charlottesville they were fairly mild compared to other places. In MS officials, and even city construction workers, received so many death threats that in some cases the statues were removed at night to keep nutjobs from shooting at city workers.

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              • Again, that’s awesome, keep working the process. My concern is solely with people who take it upon themselves to deface or destroy a monument. Even if we ignore the whole, “it’s not safe for hot headed amateurs to damage heavy monuments”, the very idea that it should be A-OK for private citizens to do that just gives license to the racist who takes offense at the MLK statue, etc.

                But for these statues a bunch white supremacists show up carrying torches and long guns.

                IIRC, the original group, the ones who organized the march for the statue, who bought tiki torches, were unarmed. It was people who arrived later who were armed (not sure how much later, the timelines are pretty vague, AFAIK), and I would not be surprised to learn that members of the original protest did not later arm themselves and take part in all the crap afterwards.

                That said, flaming torches, and firearms, stretches the idea of a peaceful protest past the breaking point, especially when the police are keeping their distance.

                In MS officials, and even city construction workers, received so many death threats that in some cases the statues were removed at night to keep nutjobs from shooting at city workers.

                I had not heard this. This I would expect to get more significant coverage in the news. Torch carrying Nazis are a striking image, but actual death threats are far more serious.

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          • It has picked up steam because it allows liberals to create more opportunities for Trump to fail and because it helps white supremacists recruit fellow nutjobs to their cause. So while I’m not suggesting they colluded, it sure works out well for both parties.

            But kudos to the Left here, really. They are taking a page out of the Far Right’s playbook. Take an insignificant cultural issue, turn it into a national debate and hope it equals more votes in November. Brilliant.

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            • Yes. Clearly it’s impossible that anyone can actually be upset at all the monuments to centuries of oppression hanging around, at a time when “obeying police while black” still gets you shot and then the cops walk away scott free.

              When the sitting President of the GOP played open footsie with the white supremacists from the beginning, after decades of the GOP actively courting the racist vote.

              Jesus, I’m a pasty white man myself, but that’s a level of willful blindness I can’t actually understand.

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              • Make a serious list of the important issues facing our nation. Does ‘Confederate monuments’ make the top 50? Look, white folks with too much time on their hands can protest whatever they want. I enjoy the theater of it. But is this really the conversation you all want to have right now? North Korea shoots a missile over Japan, we have a maniac in the White House, less than 50% of African Americans think the monuments should even come down but I guess you all know what’s best for the country…

                I will never understand liberal priorities.

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                • To play Devils Advocate here:

                  There will always be 50 things more important that dealing with the past, which is how the past gets ignored for 150+ years and monuments stay put for that long.

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                      • If you think that making multiple comments venting your frustrations at the left (they are doing other things but they are definitely also doing that) – in the comments section of Dennis’ beautiful and moving post about the importance of grace and extending charity even where we don’t feel it’s deserved – is a fitting way to express your appreciation for said post …..

                        I gotta say I think you are also exhibiting a certain tone-deafness. One that’s beneath you – I think you are generally a very gentlemanly person.

                        And I say that as someone who agrees with you about the power of the paragraph you make reference to in your first comment.

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                          • That’s not what I said at all. I was talking about how he said what he wanted to say, and whether he was gracious about it, consistently with his praise of Dennis, not saying he couldn’t say it. I was nudging him to be more civil. Something that by the mission of the site and the terms of the commenting policy, we’re all expected to be.

                            Cheap sarcastic misrepresentation of what other people say is way too close to your commenting brand on this site, , and while I won’t react against you as a moderator for doing it to me here and now, I will tell you that I’m officially irritated with you for doing it so much. You sometimes have much more insightful things to say.

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                    • Which of those other things will the GOP help us implement again? Or do you just fight the big things (on which you can win in this session of congress) and then whine about the little things we can win because they aren’t the big things? (while, of course, trying in comically inept fashion to unwind the last run of big things)

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                • Mike, really and truly, there are a lot of black people trying to get these monuments pulled down. They have even done some of the pulling down. This is not just bored white people. Black people in places have been wanting these things down for years.

                  Given the prez and his policies pulling down monuments is more than can be done at the federal level. It’s not like we can unpardon Arapio.

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                  • I get that the monuments upset black people and I also get that for some of them, this is an issue they are passionate about. But I also see SO MANY white faces in these crowds when there were so few in Ferguson. And then we had the Women’s March and there was a LOT of criticism from blacks about white people, especially women, and how they aren’t there when it matters. And so the next time that whites get really outraged about something it’s over…Confederate statues? To me it signals a general tone deafness on the part of progressive whites.

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                    • To me it seems like you tritely dismissing the anger of black people at these monuments. They aren’t just upset, they feel the statues are symbolic of real oppression. Sure that’s just an emotion to, but it burns for them. Why now? Well things happen at times for all sorts of reasons. If not now, then when? Charlottesville set a fire under this idea that has been around for a while.

                      It really sounds like you are taking this issue and Dennis’ piece as just a way to take a shot a white liberals which seems to be ignoring the issues of all those marches and protests and complaints about statues. You are turning it all into bashing the group you don’t like. I think you are a person of good will but taking shots at white liberals is overlooking all the issues you have raised. Heck lots of us have wanted prison and criminal justice reform for far before it was cool.

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                      • I think Charlottesville was just a happenstance. It was an organic convergence of very evil people and very well-intentioned people. What has happened since then though, is opportunism. Look at the several polls I linked to. There isn’t some overwhelming appetite for this, even among African Americans. And this isn’t a civil rights issue like SSM, and people aren’t being injured/killed like the police shootings of a few couple ago. So yes, I’m being very cynical and questioning the motives of the people that are pushing for this. I think this is politics, plain and simple. Democrats smell a chance to make a terrible President look even more terrible.

                        I honestly don’t care if they take them down. But I do question the timing and the sincerity of many people doing this.

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                        • Another expression for opportunism is “striking when the iron is hot”.

                          Of course, how you strike is pretty damned important. Naturally, I’ve seen some very thoughtful strikes that make compelling arguments for further action, and I’ve seen way too many examples of people making an utter hash of it.

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                        • But why question the sincerity? Why assume the people, especially the POC’s, don’t really care about this? Is this the biggest issue: no of course not, but it seems to be a sincere interest of some.

                          Also that one flag has been an issue in states for a few years now. Symbolic issues relating to the Confederacy are not brand new out of the womb right now. This has been around for a few years at least. Why some issues boil over at whatever time is always a bit random. The world has always been that way. Again it’s not like we can do much to change criminal justice policy at this point. Some of the gains at the Fed level are being rolled back. I’ll bet the people who want the statues down also want lots of other things.

                          The protests and statues being pulled down seems pretty organically developed to me. I’m not seeing a lot of top down organization.

                          Yeah Trump is terrible, but why focus that anger and cynicism at the anti statue folks?

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                          • “To me it seems like you tritely dismissing the anger of black people at these monuments. They aren’t just upset, they feel the statues are symbolic of real oppression. Sure that’s just an emotion to, but it burns for them. Why now?”

                            Well, why don’t you call Sir Charles and whitesplain it to him. As he said, he hasn’t thought about those statues a day in his life. They do not bother him.

                            Where was all that seething anger and outrage at old statues during the Obama years? Other than a few folks in Tennessee wanting to move Nathan Bedford Forrest (who said blacks serving with him were the best soldiers in the Confederacy), this issue is recent.

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                    • I know you’re desperate to support your instinct that this is wrong, somehow, but you can’t say white people suck for not being in Ferguson (even if that were true) and that white people suck for supporting black people on this issue.

                      I mean, can we ask for even a smidgen of internal consistency beyond “I know there’s a reason this is evidence liberals suck”

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                      • “I know you’re desperate to support your instinct that this is wrong, somehow, but you can’t say white people suck for not being in Ferguson (even if that were true) and that white people suck for supporting black people on this issue.”

                        I don’t think they are supporting black people on this issue. And that’s my problem with it. It’s political point scoring. And no doubt, many of the people who are participating in all these silly demonstrations really think what they are doing is important. But no one is really asking them to do it and they are being manipulated by both sides here. The Left gets to knock the President for being an apologist for white supremacists and the President gets to know the Left for trying to tear down the history of the South (or whatever other kooky thing he accuses them of). And like I said, this will be passe by Christmas, but it’s annoying none-the-less.

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                        • Again, please state all requirements you need for a group of people to express their views on an easy thing we can do to take a small step forward. Or, if you actually oppose the effort, let’s hear why instead of just reasons we should dismiss the people succeeding on this one.

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                  • There is no statue of anything that isn’t opposed by some easily outraged group.

                    The MLK Jr statues have to come down because he didn’t support transgendered rights. He also ate meat. Not even Hitler ate meat.

                    The Korean War Memorial has to come down because many of the troops were biased against Asians. Fox Movietone News openly called them the G word (rhymes with Kook). The same is true of our WW-II memorials. Ever watch the era’s Bug’s Bunny cartoons about Japanese? And of course the War of 1812 was about money and trade. The Star Spangled Banner must stop waving.

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                      • It’s not a Confederacy slavery thing, it’s a Democrat slavery thing. Plenty of Southern Republicans fought against slavery and joined the Union forces, especially throughout Appalachia. There were no Republican slave owners in the South, but there were Northern Democrats who supported slavery and wanted to immediately stop the war. In New York they hacked a hundred blacks to death and burned black businesses. In Ohio, the Democrats ran a hardcore supporter of the Confederacy for Governor. And of course some of them engaged in conspiracies to overthrow state governments, leading to the Supreme Court decision Ex parte Milligan

                        The main remaining symbol of slavery isn’t the statues, it’s the Democrat party.

                        Not to be partisan or anything.

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                          • As much as I get why you’re vexed at George, and don’t believe in his sincerity, he’s not actually wrong about this one – or at least it seems like a pretty reasonable thought. So maybe cut him a break on this one thing (whether he would want it or not).

                            I mean, can you IMAGINE if the Democratic Party actually said, “You know what, we’ve done a lot of amazing work under this name and a lot of amazing people, particularly people of color and LGBTQ people, have done a huge amount to advance civil rights under this name, but it is ALSO true that there are a lot of creepy racist Democrats out there still AND it’s also true that the Democratic party in the time of the civil war was awful and full of people who owned slaves, profited from the slave trade, or just really enjoyed lynching black people. SO – f’ it, we’re changing our name to ‘whatever'”. (ie I don’t care what they call themselves)

                            Like JUST IMAGINE.

                            That would be some real freaking bravery, on a national level, and some real freaking owning your past sins and some real freaking *serious* signalling to people who don’t think either establishment party speaks for them (which includes plenty of non-Trump voters that just didn’t show up for the election because they were just that sure that no one would work on their behalf no matter what).

                            It would be freaking GREAT.

                            And if it would never in a million years fly, it’s probably worth asking ourselves as white people and as people who think the Democrats are a lot better than the alternative …. why wouldn’t it fly? Are the reasons why it wouldn’t fly actually honorable ones?

                            I feel like maybe they aren’t.

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                            • To be clear that isn’t me saying “both sides do it”

                              It’s me saying “HOW WILD AND AMAZING MIGHT THAT BE! WHAT OTHER MORE SIGNIFICANT WILD AND AMAZING CHOICES MIGHT IT INSPIRE?”

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                            • I know the history. The D’s were the bad guys back then and the R’s were on the right side of history. This bit of history has been a , imho, hacktastic line of hyper partisan trolling on the right for a while. It ignores like a whole lot of history since then and attempts to ignore where each party has gone since the middle of the 20th century.

                              It’s true facts as performtive arguing with no more purpose then just keeping the argument going. It’s not vexing at all, it’s just silly and i see no reason to give it any respect. We’re trying to have interesting conversations here and that kind of stuff i prevents thought and conversation. I disagree with Mike on this but i respect him and think he is of good will so i’m more than happy to try to have a good conversation with him.

                              On changing the name of party i really don’t know. Talk about something that would be focus grouped and massaged to find the perfect name. Should they do it? Meh. I’m not one for rebranding in general. Just the power of inertia in large organizations would make it a ginormous sell and well nigh impossible. Given they have screwed up easier things…..well i wouldn’t want to bet on them coming up with something good. The best reason not to do it is they have lots of things more important right now. If they really want a better image than better candidates and better messaging is the first priority.

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                              • I agree with you. But I also see a parallel between what you’re saying here and what Mike is saying about monuments.

                                Because, stupid revisionist hyper partisan trolling aside, LONG after the Civil War was over, as I know you are fully aware, the South (probably not only the south!) was full of KKK members and other appalling Jim Crow racists who were also Democrats. I’m sure for a lot of people in the South, people who *are not voting* even when faced with someone like Trump as the threat that could (and did) happen if they don’t, “Democrat” means Robert Byrd every bit as much as it means John Lewis.

                                I have no pragmatic belief that it could or would ever happen. Pragmatically candidates are a lot more important. Pragmatically there are easier voting blocks to sway than those who think of people like Robert Byrd when they hear “Democrat”.

                                But why waste ink on arguing with about something that actually would, if magically becoming practical, be a positive change? there are so many better things to argue about…

                                (and i’m sorry if I’m overly ebullient tonight. it’s a coping mechanism.)

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                                • I know this opens up a whole other kettle of fish but Byrd renounced the KKK and fought for things like the Civil Rights Act among other good things. If forgiveness and progress and positive change will happen having people who were wrong move into the light and fight for good is a thing we should want.

                                  Coping is always good even if it leads to excess ebuillosity.

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                                  • it is a whole other kettle of fish and I don’t actually have much against Robert Byrd in his elder-statesman years. There are many many worse examples of Democratic politicians from that era I could’ve, probably should’ve used. I think I picked Byrd because it does super frustrate me that he got to play the move-into-the-light game on easy mode while other people, people who non-coincidentally don’t happen to be from his background or with his connections, people like Fannie Lou Hamer that wore themselves OUT fighting for the good all along – without having to atone for youthful awfulness – were blocked from participation *in the Democratic party by Democrats*. During those same 60s Jim Crow era times that the statues were erected in, African Americans in Mississippi and several other states were *literally not allowed a voice in the Democratic party*.

                                    If it were up to me and I had a magic wand, I would probably rename the Democratic Party to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

                                    Which would just confuse the hell out of the vast majority of folks in and out of Mississippi, who wouldn’t know the history (though I bet there are a lot of people who *would*) – so it’s probably good no one has ever given me such a wand.

                                    **************

                                    tl;dr Just cause you and I know that Robert Byrd has a redemption narrative, doesn’t mean I’m wrong that many states’ Democrat organizations were still super racist and gross *across the board* even in the 60s. And that the PTB of the national Democrats at that time had zero interest whatsoever in drastically risking their power base for the sake of restoring justice to the party. They believed they needed those racists, then just as much as the GOP’s national strategy depends on them now. D’you really think Marco Rubio believes some of the weird crap he spouted during the primaries? (As it turns out their efforts at compromise *did* lose them a lot of racists – but it doesn’t change that they were more worried about losing the votes of said racists than in being just.)

                                    It’s not hyper-partisan to recognize that the Democratic party has a bad history that extends a lot further forward than the 19th century, and it’s not only the hyper-partisan Republicans who feel that way.

                                    But disaffected centrists, leftists, libertarians, random people who aren’t that into politics but would vote if they thought someone gave two cents about them, etc etc etc, don’t tend to be hypervocal in their advice about what the Democratic Party should or shouldn’t do.

                                    I’m not saying all those disaffected people are sitting around caring about relatively minor stuff like this. I’ll probably have forgotten about it myself in a week. I’m saying maybe if the Democratic Party was more invested in risking or abandoning its traditions for the sake of building coalitions, in being might-for-the-sake-of-right instead of might-for-the-sake-of-might… national voting turnouts would be a lot higher and a lot bluer.

                                    And that doing stuff as loud as a name change, with *really good messaging about why*, is a great way to tell people that your intentions are to be on their side.

                                    Heck, to some extent that particular trick worked for Republicans right? In with the Tea Party, out with the GOP. Their reasons were different, but as a messaging strategy, changing their label was pretty darned effective.

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                                      • One of the largest factors that hurts blacks now happened during the Great Depression and after WW-II, and was done by the federal government, not just Jim Crow Southerners. FDR started pushing home ownership and the construction of new property developments, and that gained even more steam for returning vets. But blacks weren’t allowed in. That was FHA policy. That was the policy of the New Deal Democrats.

                                        NPR story on it

                                        Of course NPR isn’t going to mention Republican opposition to racist federal policies because it would harsh their narrative.

                                        Here’s the rub:

                                        African-American families that were prohibited from buying homes in the suburbs in the 1940s and ’50s and even into the ’60s, by the Federal Housing Administration, gained none of the equity appreciation that whites gained. So … the Daly City development south of San Francisco or Levittown or any of the others in between across the country, those homes in the late 1940s and 1950s sold for about twice national median income. They were affordable to working-class families with an FHA or VA mortgage. African-Americans were equally able to afford those homes as whites but were prohibited from buying them. Today those homes sell for $300,000 [or] $400,000 at the minimum, six, eight times national median income. …

                                        So in 1968 we passed the Fair Housing Act that said, in effect, “OK, African-Americans, you’re now free to buy homes in Daly City or Levittown” … but it’s an empty promise because those homes are no longer affordable to the families that could’ve afforded them when whites were buying into those suburbs and gaining the equity and the wealth that followed from that.

                                        The white families sent their children to college with their home equities; they were able to take care of their parents in old age and not depend on their children. They’re able to bequeath wealth to their children. None of those advantages accrued to African-Americans, who for the most part were prohibited from buying homes in those suburbs.

                                        The biggest gap between whites and blacks is in assets. Most of those assets are real estate. The federal government herded blacks into disastrous urban housing projects but built suburban “estates” for whites. The value of the latter dramatically increased, giving whites today a huge pot of capital in a capitalist society, while blacks still have few assets because they didn’t get established in the real estate market when it had low barriers of entry.

                                        Basically, the whites were allowed to buy early stock in Apple and Amazon but blacks were only allowed to buy stock in Pets.com. The difference is that one group’s grandchildren can claim assets worth $500,000 and the other might have assets worth $15,000. This affects everything around us today.

                                        Without Wilson re-introducing and legitimizing racial segregation at the federal level, and without FDR, Truman, a Democrat Congress opposed to Eisenhower, and continued FHA policies under Kennedy and Johnson, Blacks would not be significantly poorer than whites. They wouldn’t have been more dependent on government programs. They would think the word “ghetto” was something about Jews.

                                        Activists have them talking about slavery reparations and Confederate monuments so they won’t realize who robbed them, and when, so that a discussion on blame, responsibility, and actually fixing things (which would probably see a burst of black entrepreneurs and small business owners – who would become Republicans, leading to a major rethink) will not happen.

                                        So yeah, go after Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest (who would not have screwed them over), and don’t pay any attention to what was going on in the left hand. After the Civil War, and for decades after, Southern whites and blacks were both poor as dirt. The Union burned most things to the ground. There is little capital there that would trace to modern times. A rich Southerner who kept an antebellum house and a bunch of cotton fields is, today, a farmer. He farms. He farms cotton. His daughter is plays the trumpet for the University of Alabama marching band. The regular Southerners were rednecks for generations.

                                        The blacks who moved North, getting jobs in Detroit, Chicago, and Flint, should have at some time in 60’s or 70’s been worth more than the average Southern white, and should today command a lot of family assets.

                                        That didn’t happen because the federal government made sure it didn’t happen, because the federal government was full of racist Democrats, not that there weren’t some racist Republicans, but Republicans would’ve taken a hands off approach and the markets would’ve said that a black dollar is the equal to a white dollar, just as it has with Asian Americans.

                                        Most everything in race relations today is a legacy of these decisions made between 1913 and 1968, and then the subsequent pandering, welfare policies that destroyed black families (denounced by Daniel Patrick Moynihan), race cards, and the other fallout.

                                        White privilege isn’t from skin color. It’s from Democrat policies. Democrats will denounce how whites stole Indian lands, but none of them will give their Malibu property to an Indian. None of them will give their house on Martha’s Vineyard to a black. They’d rather milk an issue than remedy a grievous wrong.

                                        Republican hands are clean on this. We can’t be accused of hypocrisy because we’ve been called racist Nazi bigots for so long that we just roll with it. Yeah. We are. But we didn’t screw black families out of all the assets they should have by now. The Democrats of course blame racism for the reason blacks are poor. The real reason is Democrats. They’ve internalized the idea that blacks are naturally poor due to white (Republican) racism, as opposed to not being allowed to accumulate wealth because of Democrat policy.

                                        Not to get all partisan or anything. The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing the problem.

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                                        • ” go after Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest (who would not have screwed them over),”

                                          , both of these men would have *kept them enslaved*. Kept them under the heel of policies that worked people to death, tore families apart, enabled massive numbers of rapes, and murdered people who tried to escape their oppression.

                                          I don’t dispute what you’re saying about the Democratic Party’s history, in fact I think you saw me agree with you above, but you need to stop insisting that the Confederacy was blameless when compared to the Democrats. The Confederacy largely *was* Democrat. You’re trying to have your rhetorical cake and eat it too, and claiming that Confederate generals would not have screwed over black people is utterly absurd.

                                          And it’s absurd in a particularly racist way that I have extremely limited tolerance for, and that fits into a pattern of such rhetorical leaps that you keep making.

                                          My patience is not infinite. If you keep doing this you will get suspended from commenting. Not for your opinions about taking down Confederate monuments, or about how the Democratic party harmed African-Americans, or for your historical tangents, but for your willingness to say whatever utterly ridiculous and offensive thing comes to mind because you find it rhetorically satisfying. I realize you might not see why it’s ridiculous and offensive, or that it’s a pattern but it is. And it’s messing up the conversation around here. Big time.

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                                        • Try reading “Black Wealth, White Wealth”
                                          And you are right, of course, about a lot of the problems being caused by the FHA.
                                          I’d far rather the liberals get hammered for actual liberal policy, rather than everyone trying to say “But they’re racist” to each other, because that turns into a circlejerk too fast.

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                                        • It is problematic to blame gov policy from 60 years ago on how your own economic standing is today. It’s fun, it’s intuitive, but there have been many other economic choices made since then which have had FAR more effect, the bulk of them personal.

                                          The most important moment in your life is always “Now”.

                                          I’m trying to teach my kids the value education (i.e. math) and give them the skills they’ll need to be functional adults. That includes money management, budgeting, not getting high, getting married and educated before having kids, etc.

                                          If they screw up on any of that it will have a far more profound effect on their lives than my family’s mishandling of the Great Depression, it will even have a more profound effect on their lives than my failed business from a few years ago.

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                                          • It wasn’t just the difference in eventual home values, it’s that they were building suburban sprawls for whites (which dramatically increased in value as cities expanded, as the early developments were in locations that are still highly desirable), they put blacks into government housing projects (aka ghettos). Those effect people’s decisions and behaviors.

                                            Then the Great Society created a welfare system that discouraged black fathers from staying in the home. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to rail about the devastating effects of that.

                                            In contrast, we had absolutely no program to help Asians, and although we had discriminated against Asians in the past (immigration restrictions, Japanese internment), today Asians earn more than whites.

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                                            • Sure, agree with all that. The Central Planners and Gov “help” have encouraged/enabled dysfunctional behavior in the name of “helping” people.

                                              I’m now on my fourth relative to NOT get married because they’re pregnant and the gov makes it worth their while to handle it that way.

                                              And the nasty thing is he’s HIGHLY functional. He walked me through the math of it, and I’m sure he’s right.

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                            • There comes a point where something is so f*****g obvious that there is no point in saying it just because some a*****e trumpets a related half-truth. Anyone who cares at all about what is true here knows what is true; anyone who doesn’t won’t be impressed by someone pointing it out.

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                              • My purpose is not to impress people. I was being somewhat playful, perhaps inappropriately, with and I was explaining to that he is this close to getting suspended from commenting in such a way that if I do suspend him, folks know exactly why. There are people here that *do* care about what is true and who would still be discombobulated by my suspending him if I don’t spell it out. Not everyone reads things the same way.

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                                • Nothing inappropriate at all. You are being very patient with George and investing a lot of pixels in engaging with him. Playfulness is always( well almost always) good.

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                  • I’m so glad those black people are pulling down a stature instead of dealing with drug abuse, aids, teen drop outs, gun violence, etc. You know, all the real problems. They can now go back home and pat themselves on the back for having fixed a real problem for their community.

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                    • it’s not either-or, . the people of color I know who do stuff like pull down statues or cheer on the pulling down of statues are *also* very involved in addressing the drug war, healthcare, education, and community safety, often by building bridges in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods, and putting their butts in seats for hours to get the work done.

                      frankly it doesn’t take all that long to plan and perform some vandalism and then go back to your greater concerns.

                      you’ve probably spent more time being irritated by it, and i’ve spent more time reading comments about it, than any given individual is spending on the actual doing of it.

                      So far anyway.

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                • It’s a symbolic step in the right direction. Opposed by people who fully understand the symbolism.

                  And, of course, statues are by their very nature symbolic.

                  Fortunately, liberals are also trying to do other things to make non-symbolic changes. You know, like health care for everyone. Guess who opposes both the symbolic and tangible steps?

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                • So it’s not your top priority, so it’s no one’s and thus a manufactured response for political purposes?

                  Cool.

                  Speaking for myself “race relations” seem a pretty big priority area, and given the aforementioned habit of being shot for “obeying a cop while black”, the disproportionate incarceration rates, the targetted voter suppression, and oh yeah the neo-Nazi’s and white supremacists the President of the United States seems fond of…

                  I think other people might rate it a bit higher.

                  But I agree. Confederate statues aren’t really a problem for most white people. It’s not celebrating the ugly history of our race in America, and standing there as a proud example of a century of Jim Crow and an America that still likes to grind the boot in.

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                • Northkorea is a nonissue. nothingburger. we could blow them to hell if we wanted to.
                  Wag the Dog, the gift that keeps on giving…
                  Northkorea.

                  We have a maniac in the white house — yes, but we planned for that when Palin was nearly president. Yawn. Call me when something important is breaking.

                  Actually, something important is breaking. Our ecosystem. But, no, everyone’s not going to bother to fix that. Because they’d rather you and I die…

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        • The “fierce urgency of now” is always a hard issue in civil rights.

          Look at 2004, when the Republicans were able to use Same-Sex Marriage bans as a wedge issue to help in their victory to the Same-Sex Marriage and Transright victories during the Obama years. That was a huge sea change. What happened was an entire generation came of voting age and that generation was much more LBGT friendly than the voting bloc 2004.

          I’m not sure that a 5 year sea change is that bad or unusual. The same thing happened in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Very little seemed to be happening and then a lot of things happened all at once. Or close to it.

          Base on a rough understanding, how the Civil War was taught has also under gone a huge sea change. Dunning school Southern apologia is gone from everywhere except the deepest portion of the South.

          I also think that the election of 45 increases the urgency because he went from dog whistles to full blown racism and now guards are up.

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      • “But this is exactly the framing error.”

        It’s not a framing error to be worried about The Terror.

        Like, if people debate the issue and decide that the monuments ought to be taken down, that’s great! That’s exactly how it’s supposed to go. Mobs engaging in violent sympathetic-magic rituals is…kind of a problem, don’t you think?

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          • As long as it’s a nonviolent protest, it’s their right.

            Now if they interfere with the actual removal, they can expect to be on the wrong side of the law.

            I mean, environmentalists do it all the time with loggers, right (although they tend not to bring firearms).

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            • There is real inconsistency with what we consider “non-violent”. White guys en masse with torches and weapons chanting Nazi slogans is non-violent.

              Black guys doing, well, damn near anything at this point are considered violent threats… justifiably shot by armed agents of the state.

              It seems convenient that most of the people making and enforcing rules about what is or is not violent, what justifies of does not justify repression by the state, are white guys.

              We can claim that letting Nazis march and prosecuting statue destroyers is right because of the prioritization around values with regards to free speech and property rights. But there must be room to question values that seem to put the physical well-being of a statue above the emotional and mental well-being of humans. Because we actually do have science that shows mental and emotional trauma in general and cumulative effects of racism in particular causes real, measurable harm in people. So we cannot pretend that speech is harmless.

              And that’s before we layer on that out emphasis on property rights — or whatever we want to call people’s “rights” as they related to public statues — are not themselves predicated on feelings. Who is harmed by the destruction of a statue? People sad to see it go? So now those feelings are worthy of state protection?

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              • There is real inconsistency with what we consider “non-violent”. White guys en masse with torches and weapons chanting Nazi slogans is non-violent.

                By what definition is any of that violent, assuming you use the commonly accepted definition of the word? Are you using the liberal dictionary?

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                • How about a human dictionary. Those evil SOBs marched around a synagogue, during Friday night services, carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans.

                  Do you seriously have a hard time seeing how that was perceived as violent, and as a genuine threat?

                  I bet if a group of antifa marched around a GOP office with torches and chanting anti-Trump slogans, you’d claim that shooting them would be a legitimate stand-your-ground defense.

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                          • So what is your point, assuming you have one? People marching maybe perceived as violent without there ever being any actual violence where as vandalizing a statute is actual violence. See, it’s simple enough for a liberal to understand.

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                            • Which, of course, is why you were so opposed to the Tamir Rice shooting. Not to, you know, get back to ‘s point or anything, but I have a pretty clear recollection of you saying black boys playing with toy guns in a park can be killed, and police officers should be lauded (or at least excused) for doing so. Gun toting Nazis, by contrast, are apparently less violent than spray paint (even when one of ’em accelerates a car into a crowd of protesters).

                              This is a particularly disheartening line of argument, even for you.

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                    • This is not liberal vs conservative or whatever it is you are.

                      I guarantee you that if a bunch of torch carrying yahoos chanting Nazi slogans marched through my neighborhood, the neighbor who still has Trump sign outside would be one of the first ones out on his porch with a rifle telling them to get out or else.

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                  • Those evil sobs marched around a synagogue, during Friday night services, carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans.

                    Do you seriously have a hard time seeing how that was perceived as violent, and as a genuine threat?

                    No, sorry, but “perceived as violent” is a contradiction. Was a drop of blood shed? Did anyone have physical contact with anyone else? Did anyone throw anything, start any fires, do anything which, AT THAT TIME, threatened to even bruise someone’s body? How about their property?

                    We can talk about threats and how “genuine” they are (I am not a lawyer but I think it needs to be specific), but if the answer to all those questions was “no”, then no matter how offensive it was, it wasn’t violent.

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                    • Right.

                      So if a crowd surrounds your church chanting that you’re evil and ought to die, as long as they don’t physically attack, you have no right to feel threatened? You wouldn’t bother calling the police because you’d see no reason for those folks to be arrested or ordered to disperse?

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                      • Sure, you have the “right” to feel threatened but you don’t necessarily have the right to call the cops and insist that the cops stop them from protesting, especially if they have all the proper permits and are peaceful.

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                        • Uh-huh. So if a group with ISIS flags marches around a church shouting ‘Death to Christians!’ the people inside have no right to call the cops, because as long as they only ‘feel’ threatened, there’s no harm and no cause for the police to intervene. Especially if the marchers have a permit.

                          Got it.

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                          • Clearly you didn’t read what I wrote. So I will simplify it for you. You can call the cops as many as you want and insist, nay demand that they disburse the crowd because your feelings are hurt. The cops are allowed to refuse if the crowd is peaceful and has the proper permits. We don’t, thank god, live in a country where folks can’t march because of someone’s feelings.

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                      • This, of course, is why there is no crime called “Assault,” only battery.

                        ‘Generally speaking, an assault is a demonstration of an unlawful intent by one person to inflict immediate injury on the person of another then present.’

                        Lowry v. Standard Oil Co. of California (1944) 63 Cal.App.2d 1, 6

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                      • Put some details on that. Did that “crowd” have to give weeks or months advance notice? If so, why am I there to listen?

                        And if they didn’t, and this isn’t a formal event but rather a mob, then sure I’d call the cops… who’d order the mob to disperse and that would be that.

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                        • The crowd in Charlottesville did not give any notice that it would be holding a night march to chant Nazi slogans at a synagogue.

                          And quite apart from that, in the context of the example I gave, are you saying that if a group gives notice that it will be harassing people attending a church, then it’s okay? The members of the church should not go to services because of the anti-Christian mob?

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                          • The crowd in Charlottesville did give any notice that it would be holding a night march to chant Nazi slogans at a synagogue.

                            Wiki says their permit was for a march to Emancipation Park. If I’m reading the map right there’s a synagogue 150 feet from the park.

                            in the context of the example I gave, are you saying that if a group gives notice that it will be harassing people going attending church, then it’s okay?

                            Define “okay”. I think it’s as vile as what the Pro-life movement does to patients at clinics, but it’s within society’s rules. Similarly we also allow that anti-gay Preacher to disrupt military funerals at whatever distance.

                            The members of the church should not go to services because of the anti-Christian mob?

                            Oh, just the ones who think they’re going to be traumatized by it. Typically a church already has half a dozen services a week so just go some other time. There WILL be church members who get all fired up and defend the faith so I’d expect attendance to be seriously up even after the ones who skip that service (maybe two thirds of a church only goes for things like Christmas or weddings and this would count).

                            Big picture, this would be a great thing for the Church. Churches need a reason to be relevant. Nazis are a cardboard character villain, they’re the perfect foil to show why the Church is Good and Needed. The Nazis openly proclaim how evil they are, the Church gets to wear the White hat… and although vile, the Nazis aren’t the threat they claim they are.

                            If we count corpses they haven’t been big in years. When they dropped the “Socialism” part of their platform and became purely a hate group they became a lot less attractive and dangerous. Nazis are losers who hang out in bars and go to prison if they become violent. Socialists destroy countries and engage in mass murder as part of their plan to build utopia.

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                      • Where was this when all those black guys were getting shot by the cops with no repercussions?

                        It depends. There are times where the police have no choice and society needs to set realistic expectations (Mike Brown, the guy who had the heart attack after resisting arrest). There are other times where we’re looking at criminal misconduct by the police, others where it’s not quite misconduct but he should still be losing his badge, and others where we simply don’t know.

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                        • I’m just going to put this right here:

                          “No, sorry, but “perceived as violent” is a contradiction. Was a drop of blood shed? Did anyone have physical contact with anyone else? Did anyone throw anything, start any fires, do anything which, AT THAT TIME, threatened to even bruise someone’s body? How about their property?”

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                          • The big difference between the two groups of encounters isn’t “the police”.

                            The difference is in one you’re asking what is permissible in a theoretical situation where violence hasn’t broken out yet; In the other, from a dataset of 3 Billion encounters a year, you’re selecting for where violence did break out, and then you’re selecting further for the worst incidents of those.

                            I’m not sure what we’re supposed to learn from that comparison.

                            If we had 3 Billion Nazi rallies (gack), we’d have violence in some. In the worst incidents we’d have miscarriages of justice including unsolved murders. I’m not sure what the reverse would be, something about when the police are supposed to use violence or something I guess.

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                              • In many of the situations discussed, the only violence that occurred was initiated and performed by the police.

                                Sure. At the same time, if I drove my car Billions of times, I’d get in accidents (hundreds of thousands?), some my fault.

                                How big and bad a problem is this? How fixable a problem is this? How expensive? What trade offs would your solution(s) require? Is your solution economically/politically/socially realistic?

                                Because it’s very easy to look at the oddities of very large data sets and proclaim they shouldn’t happen, and maybe that’s true… but it’s an imperfect world and if we go with whatever solution you want, it will STILL be an imperfect world afterwards. All we get to do is move resources around.

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                                • And in the name of not shifting the burden of my argument to you;

                                  The police kill roughly 950 people a year. If you assume 10% of those are unjust then that’s 95, which puts the problem up there with fatalities from bee attacks. If you assume 3% are unjust then we’re up there with “killed by own furniture”.

                                  I think this issue gets attention for the same reason terrorism does, we’re programmed to pay attention to people killing us even if it’s rare. But fixing it imho won’t move the needle in terms of making people’s lives much better.

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              • The fact that society is inconsistent in the ways it treats protests depending on the race/class of the protesters is only tangentially related to whether or not the protesters have a right to do it.

                The rest of your comment is a mess, especially your bit about property rights. I’ve already stated I’m fine with moving the statues to more appropriate venues. The supposed negative emotional value that some people might place upon a public work does not trump the rights of others to have and want to protect the positive emotional value they experience from it*.

                They have the right to attempt to influence the political process in motion, and the right to peacefully express their displeasure that the political process decided against them.

                And only fools and strawmen think speech is harmless. However, the harm it causes is SUBJECTIVE, and it is a very bad idea to be making public policy and law based upon subjective harm, so stop trying to use that as some kind of justification. It holds no weight with me.

                So yes, the Nazis get to march, and the antifa get to counter march.

                *This is evidenced by the fact that Frank Gehry buildings still exist, and he continues to construct more, despite the actual pain they bring to my soul.

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                • Let me ask this:
                  Why is wielding torches, carrying guns, and chanting Nazi chants an acceptable mode of expression but knocking down or defacing statues not an acceptable mode of expression?

                  I realize it may seem like the answer is obvious or I’m being intentionally obtuse, but I assure you I am not.

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                  • That which is not expressly prohibited, is allowed.

                    Is there a law against carrying torches in public? No? Perhaps there should be (fire hazard and all that), but there isn’t.

                    Is open carry legal in VA? Yes? Is it a good idea to do it at a protest. I’m gonna say no, but that is different from illegal.

                    Is chanting offensive slogans illegal? Uncouth, offensive, but clearly protected activity.

                    Is there some law that magically kicks in when all three are combined? Generally, no (although doing it while surrounding a synagogue, you could make a case for that…).

                    Is there a law against the defacement or destruction of public or private property?

                    Why yes, yes there is, numerous ones, in fact, with all manner of penalties for doing so.

                    Are there exceptions in the law for said defacement or destruction as a result of such property being offensive to someone?

                    Survey says…. no, because that way lies madness. Or, as I said somewhere else, are you ok with the local KKK chapter having a rally to tear down or vandalize MLK monuments?

                    Seriously, are you truly thinking this through, or just running on pure emotion here?

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                    • I’m not asking about the laws. I know the laws. And I’m not necessarily advocating a change to the laws.

                      What I’m saying… or trying to say at least… is that we reject restrictions on potentially harmful speech because, as you said, that harm is subjective.

                      But what harm is wrought by defacing a statue? It doesn’t physically harm a human. It might upset people… but isn’t that just subjective harm akin to the potential harm caused by speech?

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                      • So you are OK with the KKK defacing or destroying a monument to Union soldiers, or MLK, or holocaust victims?

                        All those incidents of people drawing swastikas on buildings are ‘meh’, because no real property was damaged, it’s just a bit of paint?

                        No, it matters because we don’t want people doing that kind of shit in a fit of pique, or worse.

                        Don’t like the public monument? Follow the process, get it removed. As has noted, the process does actually work.

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                        • As I said, I’m not actually advocating changing the law. Rather, I’m trying to understand the difference.

                          You are saying we don’t want people drawing Swastikas on buildings. Which I agree with!

                          But why is that different than people marching down the street with Swastikas on flags and their person?

                          I’m not saying they aren’t at all different. I’m saying what difference exists that justifies making one a criminal act and one a protected act.

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                          • “I’m saying what difference exists that justifies making one a criminal act and one a protected act.”

                            Is there some reason you insist on not getting that the content of the speech is not the issue that determines why “spraypainting a wall” is a crime and “carrying a poster” is not?

                            “why is that different than people marching down the street with Swastikas on flags and their person?”

                            Because the street is a public place.

                            If you march across my lawn with Swastikas on flags and your person, I can do you for trespassing.

                            If you march down the street with rainbow flags and pictures of two men kissing, I can’t do a damn thing about it.

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                          • To remake ‘s point, it’s not the swastika per se, it’s the fact that someone sprayed it on my property without my permission. This is the difference between some kid tagging my house, and me allowing kids to tag one wall of my house with their art. It’s a question of consent with regard to my property.

                            So yeah, as long as the banner belongs to the Nazi (he didn’t run over some counter protester and steal their banner), he can put a swastika on it and march down a public street (assuming the permits are in order, where applicable).

                            I’m not understanding why you seem to be seriously dense about this?

                            Let me try it this way: If the guy across the street from you started hanging Nazi flags and banners around his property, would you be legally or morally right to walk onto his property and tear those banners down?

                            No, you wouldn’t, not even a little bit. Not any more than if he could to you if you decided to hang rainbow or AntiFa flags on your property. You could complain to your HOA, or your local government, and see if there was a way to force him to take them down for code violations, or perhaps sue him for some kind of loss of property value.

                            But you stay the hell off his lawn.

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                            • Well, I do think it probably matters whether discussing public or private properly.

                              But the underlying assumption you both are making is that the harm wrought by speech is overwhelmed by the value of free speech while the harm wrought by defacing public monuments overwhelms the value of that particular mode of expression.

                              But you haven’t made that case. And just saying, “Freedom of speech!” and “Propery rights!” is insufficient.

                              Imagine an alien lands tomorrow and sees you arresting people for putting pain on a piece of metal while protecting a group of people tormenting others and reducing them to tears. How do you explain to the alien why that is? I want to go all the way back to the very basics here, a place you seem unwilling or unable to go. It isn’t being dense. It’s asking to examine priors and assumptions.

                              You act as if the case is obvious.

                              Physical assault? Wrong!
                              Verbal assault? Okay.
                              Monument defacing? Wrong!

                              Make the case without relying on what is; instead argue what ought to be and why.

                              And a note I’ll add re: subjective harm… so is physical pain. There are many things you can do to a person that will create physical pain yet leave no evidence, at which point we just take the word of the person that they were, indeed, harmed. Why is emotional and mental pain different?

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                              • This just keeps getting better and better. Now you want Oscar to make his argument the way you want him to make his argument since you don’t have an intelligent response for him.

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                              • No and I am going to say this again, because you are ignoring the very salient distinction:

                                The harm wrought by speech is SUBJECTIVE; the harm wrought by vandalism is OBJECTIVE. One we can clearly identify and quantify and build law & policy around, the other is frankly impossible to do that with. And yes, physical pain has an element of subjectivity to it, but we don’t craft law around how much pain you felt, we craft law around ‘was physical contact made’ & ‘is there physical damage done’ & we toss in context to help avoid unintentional contact and damage from being as bad.

                                As for emotional harm, yes, it sucks. No, it isn’t fair, but very little in life is. Don’t like it? Figure out how to verify that what a person tells you is the distilled truth about how much something actually damages them, or find an objective way to measure emotional damage that people can’t game for personal benefit, and we’ll talk. Until then, we have enough trouble with people faking physical injuries for personal benefit to be trying to hammer down emotional ones.

                                ETA :

                                There are many things you can do to a person that will create physical pain yet leave no evidence, at which point we just take the word of the person that they were, indeed, harmed.

                                No, we don’t. Please show me where we have criminal cases that operate upon the idea that physical pain is respected absent some other compelling evidence that damage happened? Such claims are carefully scrutinized and reviewed many times, and often result in nothing. And yet people still manage to game that system, just ask any workmans comp/insurance investigator.

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                                  • SO our capacity for justice is limited by our capacity to understand pain?

                                    Our capacity for justice is limited by our ability to quantify pain in an objective manner.

                                    Seriously, what exactly do you think is the end result of your claim here. If you can use a highly subjective claim of emotional pain in order to cause government to take action against another, please, PLEASE tell me what is to stop them from making a similar claim against you, or against someone who is even less able to employ a legal defense?

                                    I can just see it now, black people protesting inspires fear and emotional distress in white folks, demand that police take action to make them disperse…

                                    Oh, wait, they do that already AND YOU YELL ABOUT HOW HORRIBLE THAT IS! Are you honestly, seriously telling me that you are perfectly fine with giving such behavior a moral cover, or worse, a stronger legal one?

                                    You are seriously smarter than this Kazzy, if you allow it to work one way, it works both ways, unless you can make an overwhelming case as to why that shouldn’t be the case (something that is not clearly special pleading, which is pretty much all you’ve done during this whole thread).

                                    Sauce for the goose, my friend…

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                                    • I have a neighbor who flies the flags of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland from his porch. Sometimes he goes out in the front yard and plays bagpipes. Those are all symbols of British Imperialism, but nobody can sue, go on his lawn, or do anything of the sort.

                                      At most I could counter protest by putting sandbag emplacements on my lawn, rolling out some bronze cannon, flying a giant 15-star American flag, and playing the Star Spangled Banner all day.

                                      But in another reality we could sue for emotional distress.

                                      *waves wand*

                                      Watching the Star Wars prequels caused me great emotional distress, especially the parts with Jar Jar Binks. Want to join my class action lawsuit against George Lucas? I figure I’ll make millions.

                                      I’m also suing my city for the removal of all buildings, houses, and roads because they remind me of how we took land from the Native Americans. It’s a daily emotional assault that won’t stop until my county is returned to nature.

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                                      • Comparing the emotional distress that many African Americans feel about Confederate symbols *whether they want to engage in civil disobedience or not* to the emotional distress you either claim to feel or think it’s funny to be sarcastic about feeling re: Jar Jar Binks is more uncivil behavior on your part. Actually it goes past that into shameful behavior, IMO, and as I am a moderator, my opinion does matter.

                                        You need to start acting more generously toward people whose opinions differ from yours, in your comments, or you will be taking a break from commenting here.

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                                        • Sorry, George is making the exact same point I was making earlier, albeit more flippantly.

                                          Engaging the government to seek specific redress for the emotional distress of symbols or words (not directed at a person) is a rat hole we do not want to go down without some very careful rigging, and perhaps you trust our political class to not game the hell out of such rigging, but I don’t. No way in hell such laws don’t get turned against the most vulnerable on either side of the political aisle.

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                                          • The flippancy, and his particular way of expressing it, is 100 percent the problem. The argument is not the problem. As I already said, on balance I prefer that the law be very much not about emotional distress and intangibles, and although I wobble, overall I’m not in favor of hate speech laws (though given my wobbling I can see both sides). My arguments for that position are similar to yours.

                                            My comment was only and purely meant to communicate that I am not going to put up with George being so dismissive and snarky about actual pain *on this board*, where I do have a magic wand and we have a much higher standard for discourse than I believe society should.

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                                          • It’s a rat hole but something that needs to be explored. To use a different example than what this thread has been about, many years ago nazi’s marched in Skokie. It is was a big deal at the time. The nazi’s choose Skokie because their were Jews and concentration camp survivors there. They wanted to make a splash.

                                            I was for, and still am, the free speech side. The f’n nazi’s get to march and the protesters get to shout at them. However one thing i’ve always thought about and i’ve found to few free speech advocates really grapple with is the very real effects of speech on some people. No doubt the concentration camp survivors in Skokie didn’t just have hurt feelings or were just upset. They were likely struck with terror, nightmares of murder and death, awoke in terrified cold sweats, revived or exacerbated PTSD and more. I’m sure you see this. The Jewish side of my family and friends were not all that thrilled with my advocacy of free speech fwiw.

                                            People suffered in a significant way from the expression of the nazi’s free speech. Of course if we look at recent examples some are, to say the least, less vivid than the Skokie nazi’s. If we are to truly advocate for something like free speech we need to fully explore the negative consequences . Mostly the conservatives FSA’s just dismiss claims of hurt because they don’t respect or care for the people claiming to be hurt. They elide the hard stuff.

                                            In terms of various statues i’ll post a link below to the dedication speech for one where the speaker explicitly says the statue is meant to show how white folks will always be in charge. So while the speaker should be able to speak his swill i completely understand the hurt and it isn’t a little thing. It’s not a boo boo, it’s a symbol of past subjugation and an attempt to continue it. The confed apologists will do their normal schtick but this is the reality and it expresses something people who believe in freedom, especially freedom of speech need to reject.

                                            (2) It will keep honored and honorable, as the years roll on, the name and fame of the fathers and forefathers of our present and future dominant and ruling Southern Anglo-Saxon element, those who, “come weal, come woe,” are to mould, shape, fix, dictate, and control the destiny of the South and her people….

                                            that the white people of the South shall rule and govern the Southern states forever.”
                                            http://cwmemory.com/2017/08/26/the-work-that-confederate-monuments-continue-to-do/

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                                            • The thing about Skokie is that the speakers then incited violence, there were subsequent riots, and the head of the marchers was arrested for incitement. So… it’s not a great example IMO of a situation that was mostly about the hate speech issue. Incitement is a very well-carved-out exception to the first amendment.

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                                              • The harm existed to the Jews here though regardless of any violence. Just the march itself caused tangible harm. The overall point though is that free speech advocates should stop glossing over harm from free speech as most do. That doesn’t mean we can’t be pro free speech but the lack of listening to what others say is sort of ironic in people who put so much stock in speech.

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                                                • very much agreed that it shouldn’t be glossed over. I thought you were saying/implying that skokie was a “cleaner” example is all. otherwise i totally agree with your comment (and should’ve said so up front to be clearer).

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                                            • I’m not being dismissive of the pain*, I’m saying it is not actionable.

                                              I want to apologise to , because I do remember some very successful criminal prosecutions for what was (in hindsight) clearly purely emotional pain. Everyone remember the recovered memory abuse cases?

                                              Someone want to remind what a fantastic dumpster fire that turned out to be?

                                              I understand how seeing Nazis and racists enjoying a moment in the sun can stain the soul, I understand why people want those monuments removed to museums and what not. My sole point in this thread is that no matter how offensive the people or speech, or how just the cause, taking action against speech because of emotional distress is a non-starter**, because it absolutely will be turned against the least of us before the ink is even dry on the legislation.

                                              *Seriously, I get it, I’ve been to some anti-war rallies where the rhetoric got very ugly towards vets. It’s not to the same level as CC survivors watching Nazis march, but I get it.

                                              **I think there are some narrow limits on this, and if someone wants to talk about those limits, I’m all ears, but such limits, even if altered, have to be narrow and crystal clear.

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                                              • I don’t think you are being dismissive although others here are. It is, however, a common thing among free speech types which i’ve always found profoundly weak. Again though i’m very much on the free speech side but to often found my side wanting.

                                                I think part of the problem is winnowing down desire to remove the statues solely to distress. I could point out that lots of “F your feelings” types also shat kittens over “happy holidays”, but i won’t do that. From the link i posted these monuments are meant to show domination over POC. F that.

                                                To the different point that speech should be limited because people are affected by it i’ve already said i’m against that. We should still listen to people who claim harm, not that should change our minds on free speech but out of respect and the importance of not just speaking but listening.

                                                It would be great if the highly sensitive people who do want some speech limited based on their hurt would understand that power will be turned against that at some point.

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                                              • “because it absolutely will be turned against the least of us before the ink is even dry on the legislation.”

                                                I would argue that taking action against freedoms of expression, association, etc., is not something that will be turned against us, it’s something that has *already* been, historically, many times. Part of the reason I mostly agree about hate speech laws being a problem is that the doors it opens up are fracking terrifying even if people’s intentions are of the highest caliber.

                                                Look at Stonewall. People forget that part of what was going on there before the riot was cops beating people for, among other offenses, *wearing a single item of clothing that belonged to the “wrong” gender*. I mean, obviously that isn’t why they were beating them, but that’s why they claimed they were beating them. I don’t want to open any doors that laws like that can slip through.

                                                There are all kinds of laws that would be entirely reasonable if we could fully trust the people enacting them – but if we could fully trust the people enacting them, there’d be little need for the laws…

                                                I don’t think you were being dismissive either but there are certainly people in this discussion who were being.

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                                            • However one thing i’ve always thought about and i’ve found to few free speech advocates really grapple with is the very real effects of speech on some people… If we are to truly advocate for something like free speech we need to fully explore the negative consequences . Mostly the conservatives FSA’s just dismiss claims of hurt because they don’t respect or care for the people claiming to be hurt. They elide the hard stuff.

                                              OK. Let’s grapple with it. Let’s get into the hard stuff. Let’s add up all the instances of marginalized people harmed by other people exercising their free speech and expression rights and compare it against all the instances of marginalized people themselves exercising free speech and expression rights as the means to organize and petition for the full suite of rights promised to them. What does that ledger look like?

                                              And then let’s look at a world in which speech and expression rights were constrained and think about whether those same marginalized people are better or worse off under that reality. For every possibly good example, like post-WW2 Germany banning Nazi symbols, you have examples like Turkey banning mention of the Armenian genocide. Do we have enough evidence to say which direction will likely lead to the best outcomes? Personally, I think we do and it’s not even close.

                                              How has this become a thing? There has always been a strain of thought on the far left that the rights and civil liberties protected by liberal democracies were nothing more than bourgeois conceits meant to protect the system of exploitative capitalism. But how anyone whose age doesn’t end in “teen” can believe such a thing in 2017 is beyond me.

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                                              • Blame Canada!

                                                Kind of kidding.

                                                But honestly I think that as people see places like Canada that do have hate speech laws and do (at least in theory) have staggeringly healthier race relations than the US [personally I think those people extremely overidealize Canada but it’s not a lie that it’s better, either], they compare it to everything they wish they could heal here, and conclude that we need some hate speech laws. Maybe not quite that directly, but I think it affects the zeitgeist or something.

                                                If I could be in charge of “One Book” programs for a year I’d have everyone read Nat Hentoff.

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                                              • Yeah this is sort of the glossing over i’m talking about. First, again i’m on the free speech side. I don’t want it limited except for things like true threats, etc. So you don’t have to sell me on why it is good. I know it and believe it.

                                                I used the example of Skokie. The people who were suffering the most, who were bearing the burden of the speech were very often saying ( in a yiddish accent) “screw the nazi’s, they killed our families and now they want to march in our streets.” Free speech types explained the rationale and lots of them understood it and either said, “this is to far, this is to much” or ” you’re not the ones here and suffering. Piss off” Heck my mom patiently explained that to me and i’m sure she thought i was just a dumb teen. Of course i was that but i’m still on the free speech side. But i try not to spechify about how great it is when i’m not the one who has to deal with the dreams or the PTSD or the fear. There is a reason we value it, it is powerful. So powerful it needs to be free. But powerful things can harm.

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                                          • Exactly. To the die hard Star Wars fan, his emotional distress far surpasses Holocaust survivors, African Americans, Yazidi sex slaves, thalidomide babies, and other causes he doesn’t care about. Charles Barkley said he hasn’t thought about those statues for a single day of his life, but the Star Wars fan thinks about Jar Jar every day, and rages.

                                            Without some objective standard, emotional distress leaves us with no lines. You can’t sue someone for the emotional distress of seeing them waving a Nazi flag without also allowing the crazed fan to sue Lucas (whose main characters were Rebels, aka Confederates).

                                            From the emotional angle, the logical measure would be how much “distress” a person feels, perhaps measured by “Diane Sawyers”, a unit of public tears. By that measure, yes, an eight year old might be more distressed by something she saw on My Little Pony than John McCain did from being in a North Vietnamese prison camp.

                                            Some people freak out over anything, and some just roll with disasters with hardly a blink.

                                            My good friend is heading up to Michigan in a day or so because, within an hour, he found out that one, his mother up there was coughing up blood with stage IV lung cancer and will probably be dead in a week, and two, his wife left him and took his three daughters to Michigan. It did not phase him in the slightest. It just changed the series of tasks he has to perform.

                                            His electricity got cut off a few days ago, so this evening he had to come over here to nap, shower, and so I could show him the season finale of Game of Thrones. I gave him headphones so he could hear it. Years ago he was sitting on the front of his M1 tank and asked the gunner if the chamber was empty. It wasn’t. He got brain damage and partial deafness from the muzzle blast. He just rolled with it.

                                            The un-dead dragon worries him. His personal situation, not so much.

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                                            • You can, though, treat “Holocaust survivors, African Americans, Yazidi sex slaves, thalidomide babies, and other causes he doesn’t care about,” with more respect when you are commenting on this site.

                                              And you will. Or not, and have consequences for not.

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                                              • How am I disrespecting them? They suffered horrendous personal trauma, as have most of us.. But it’s the Star Wars fans who scream “George Lucas stole my childhood.” Talk to them. They’re really really upset.

                                                The problem is not my comments, which are mostly humorous, and I do often skip lots of back and forth over nuances to get right to where the argument is going to end up. it’s that I don’t bow to the modern dictates of victimhood culture. It’s an unstable culture that grants social status based on victimhood, and it’s spawned a scramble to fight to the top of the intersectional victim hierarchy.

                                                The members of this culture react with shock and outrage whenever that hierarchy is questioned, as if someone has committed an unpardonable sin, breached the bounds of polite discourse, committed a +6 faux pas of deplorable thought, and such people must be banished and shamed.

                                                Well, that’s not actually American culture because that culture is unstable, vicious, and frightening. They eat their own. A radical Lesbian feminist anarchist was viciously attacked by fellow anarchists for daring to suggest that maybe veganism wasn’t so pure. If we search our souls, everyone is a tragic victim whose past demands absolute and unwavering vengeance. Put all of us on a small island and you’ve got Lord of the Flies writ large.

                                                Every one of us has ancestors who had horrible things done to them. If we could pull up our pant legs and show our families scars, we all survived the USS Indianapolis.

                                                My dad joined the Army prior to Pearl Harbor. He got seven campaign stars and didn’t get home until 1947. He lived in tents that whole time. He saw a lot of death. I get no points for that because I’m not part of the victimhood culture.

                                                He got blown up in a coal mine and had to walk miles with his skin hanging in sheets. I get no “Appalachian victimhood”:points for that.

                                                My Uncle fought in the Battle of the Bulge and all the way to the end. Saw a lot of death up close. No points for that.

                                                My cousin was wrongly executed at Nuremberg for war crimes. No points there either.

                                                My family was involved in the Turner Howard feud, which killed far more people than the Hatfield and McCoys. Still no points.

                                                I got lots of death threats as an ultra Zionist Jews. No points for being Jewish these days. They’re the new Nazis or something, even though they repulsed Picket’s Charge at Cemetery Ridge.

                                                So about those vile Confederate soldiers. They were drafted, sometimes on pain of death, and forced to stand in ranks as Union artillery and rifle fire blasted them to pieces. They saw arms and legs go flying off human bodies by the thousands. They were starving, freezing, and all they saw was death, blood, and more death. They saw fields of bloated corpses, and knew who those corpses were. Black Confederate soldiers saw that too.

                                                They knew they were probably going to die, they knew their wives and children would never see them again, and they stood in ranks anyway, waiting for the Union volleys to rip their bodies apart, holding their intestines in as they heard the incredible screams of the other wounded. And they did it time and time again, for five years.

                                                Somehow all that suffering merely landed them, and their grieving families, into the far negative end of the victimhood scale. They used to be up at the top of it. Trapped by social pressure into throwing their lives away by the thousands for a doomed cause that could never win, leaving behind widows and orphans to endure unimaginable poverty because the South didn’t have any funds for things like pensions or disability payments.

                                                They not only get no respect for all that suffering, now they are despised. Jews who survived the Holocaust can relate. The far left demonizes them as well. They are the evil Zionist neocons who slaughter Palestinians and Iraqis for fun. California university students have demanded the removal of Jewish students from student offices, because they’re evil Jews.

                                                And so today Confederates are demonized as well. Wiser people who fought against them didn’t treat them with such contempt. But now, apparently, only certain approved classes of victims are protected, based on whatever fad swept through in the last two years.

                                                In recent polling, more blacks support keeping the Confederate statues than favor removing them. Those statues in part remind us of who they are, where they came from, and what they went through, and how absolutely traumatic correcting that mistake was. The statues are monuments to the trauma of the correction, and how utterly brutal and yet glorious the fight was, on both sides.

                                                Virtually everyone who erected those statues had family members who fought and died. Brothers, uncles, cousins. Just rotted corpses now, but once full of life. About a fourth of Southern males of fighting age died in the war. The units were usually locally raised. If your town lost most of your men from 18 to 30 in a single battle, would you feel some trauma about it? Do you think the whole town would mourn the fact that pretty much every young male they raised is rotting on some battlefield three states over?

                                                The same was happening in the North. Staggering casualties in a war that shouldn’t have happened, to end a wildly unjust system that should never have started, but which had to start for America to have any African Americans at all. Those African Americans, once slaves, make us who we are, because they are us and we are them, to the extent that we can’t tell where each ends and the other begins. We would be some other people, and a vastly whiter and more racist people with a much narrower worldview and much less rich history.

                                                If we smash our Confederate monuments, then let Europe smash the Holocaust memorials to appease offended Muslims, of which there is an almost infinite number. And then they’ll smash monuments to Churchill, because of his involvement with the carving up of the Ottoman Empire, and on and on, until there are no monuments left, because for every monument there is someone who can perceive themselves as an offended victim whose rights as a victim outweigh all else.

                                                That is what victimhood culture does. I know this because I’m descended from Neanderthals, driven to extinction by humans, and I demand the elimination of any depiction of Homo Sapiens.

                                                Or we could return to a dignity culture where we don’t seek offense or imagine it so we can threaten to silence someone.

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                                                • You treat them disrespectfully by throwing them around as rhetorical pawns, by being glib, by not caring who your words hurt, and by being extremely selective in choosing to whom you extend empathy. By taking rhetorical shortcuts that are only interested in scoring points and not in an ethic of care.

                                                  I have all the respect in the world for what Appalachians of every race and of mixed race have gone through. My mother in law is from Harlan County and I grew up poor and white and intermittently rural in an insulated culture that has a lot in common with Appalachia, including high expectations around honor and having lost many many young men in wars (and had many others come home and tough it out).

                                                  Believe it or don’t, I have enough points for everybody to have gone through hell and deserve to be treated with dignity. Including you. Including all kinds of people who do truly evil things, rather than just trying my patience in website comment sections.

                                                  But casting yourself as the victim of victimhood culture and attempting to out-argue me won’t change my mind and it’s not going to stop me from suspending you.

                                                  Next time it’ll be me cavalierly deleting comments that have something in them I am not ok with you saying here, or suspension, and not a lecture.

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                                                  • Holy smokes, you’re from Harlan County? I’m from Bell County.

                                                    My mom used to commute to Hazard. She’s from Appleton Wisconsin and trained at the Mayo Clinic but moved down to Middlesboro because she wanted to run things her way in a new hospital without established procedures. Her cousin married FDR’s son, though that didn’t last because all of FDR’s offspring were problematic.

                                                    You can go ahead an suspend me. I will just roll with it because I have extremely severe lifelong PTSD. It will just be a drop in the bucket. My mind makes the leaps it does because of extreme trauma, probably due to genetics where two really smart people’s genes combined, and possibly because my brother, comptroller of Cobb County Georgia who ran the audit of the F-22 program,makes Hitler look like Ghandi.

                                                    Unfortunately I spent about 30 years in an extremely high stress job, factory start ups for companies like IBM, Dell, Nieman Marcus, Ratheon, and about a hundred others.

                                                    I can guarantee you that every single person protesting a statue removal is less traumatized than I am, because I am too traumatized to make it to any statue removal not three miles away. People don’t scare me, combat doesn’t scare me. People slashing swords at my face me happy because that’s what I study. People shooting at me makes me happy. Those are my happy places. Blood and death thrown at me is my happy place. That’s where I’m comfortable.

                                                    Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t throw that at me when I dream. I have a problem solving brain, and my dreams are unsolvable problems in any domain. Every day I wake up prematurely in engineering hell. try to go back to sleep, end up in more hells, and that’s pretty much half my day.

                                                    I haven’t checked my mail in 20 years. I cannot use a phone. There are hundreds of things you don’t think about that I cannot do, because I am traumatized and my brain is wired for it. Yet everyone I know regards me as a saint and a genius, because my brain’s response to unremitting trauma is grace, beauty, and genius.

                                                    Blacks recovered from slavery or we wouldn’t still have blacks. Jews recovered from the Holocaust or they wouldn’t sill be here. I’m proud of them. I cannot match their resilience. They cannot match my suffering.

                                                    A big brain, put through trauma, is a horrible thing. The only reason that I haven’t killed myself is that, given my martial arts training and disregard for my own life, I can save a few other people if I’m there, and I can’t if I’m not here.

                                                    Note that as a person who isn’t a member of victimhood culture, this isn’t some plea to let me stay. My life would’ve been far better if I’d never been born, but I was. And since I was, I have to push back against the things that make other people, potentially happy people, suffer. I will never join the ranks of the happy people, except that the flip side to my brain wiring is that I’m happy all the time I’m not in Hell, or remembering my last trip to Hell, which is 2 to 10 hours after I wake up from Hell. I do not post from Hell, I post a couple hours after I’ve recovered from it. It is PTSD. I usually wake up panting. but fortunately not screaming. because engineering problems induce panic, but rarely screams. Audie Murphy had to sleep in a garage because of his screams. I’m not that bad.

                                                    I will pit my personal Hell against anyone on either side of the monument issue. They don’t know the meaning of trauma. They’ve never spent years afraid to walk into their own yard. I don’t respect them. I do not acknowledge their pain. They are pussies. There’s no way they are upset about events 150 years ago. They are posturing for “social justice”. I sometimes have to pee in bottles because I’m afraid to open my bathroom door because of bizarre dreams that I always remember..
                                                    .
                                                    Nobody is still, at their core, upset about events that happened 150 years ago. Nobody. Union families are not upset. Confederate families are not upset. Black families are not upset. Hipster families are not upset. Everybody is pretending to be upset for political reasons. People are finding reasons to pretend they’re upset. The people who were upset where the spouses and children of the soldiers. They were mostly over it by the 1870”s.

                                                    As someone who suffers daily trauma, the likes of which you can scarcely imagine, I will guarantee you that Civil War trauma didn’t suddenly get worse in the 2010’s.’

                                                    You are equating trauma 10 times removed to actual trauma, that someone who lost their husband and son in the war is the same as someone who never even bothered to watch Ken Burns PBS show about the war.

                                                    But go ahead and ban me. I have nothing left to lose At this point I really don’t care. Wisdom and perspective are done and buried. Fascism and Right Think is the new path.. There must be no humor. Nobody must think out of the box. Nobody must make interesting connections or draw uncomfortable parallels. Humor is dead. Irony is dead. Just kill all the Jewish comics and be done with it..

                                                    Only proper Sonoma country club views will be allowed.

                                                    Do you want to be that person in the plaid suit, to be somebody, or do you want to do something? Col John Boyd used to ask that of Air Force officers. You can be somebody, achieving rank by going with popular opinion, or you can throw away your career and make a difference. I seek to make a difference. I challenge people. i can barely leave my house, yet run to the sound of gunfire (my brain is weird like that) but I can do what I can to make people think.\

                                                    This is extremely unpopular with the powers that be. I’ve got no problems with that. A Star Trek board banned me, and then board where all he banned members eventually banned me because I never violated a singe rule, which drove the mod’s crazy. The eventually made an entire prison forum for me, and then screwed up the implementation so that I was the only person who couldn’t go there. It was a debacle and many prominent people left, and the demand to readmit me continued for about a year, none from me.

                                                    It was divisive, and they haven’t recovered. Even a far left liberal immigration lawyer from the UK left in protest, and hasn’t been seen since. Several owners resigned. It was a bloodbath. Their Alexis traffic rankings plummeted to nothing. Apparently half the people were showing up to argue with me, and the other half were showing up to watch the fireworks.

                                                    And I didn’t do a thing. I just watched the fallout of banning someone because the prompted ideas, new thoughts, pointed to connections, and decried the thought police. I did what half the people here would do in a Star Trek forum.

                                                    Now obviously that’s not going to happen here, because unlike a Star Trek fan board and derivatives thereof. everyone here is rational, and wrong think and disrespectful thoughts just don’t happen.

                                                    Everyone is working from the same script. We all agree on the basics, like the utility of forks and spoons, and really interesting, innovative thoughts just won’t come up.

                                                    Do you want to be somebody or do you want to do something? Do you want your thoughts to make a difference? If you do, you will face opposition. You will offend people, powerful people. People who will silence you for any reason that seems convenient.

                                                    You will not silence the Internet. You will not silence the revolution. You will get more Trump. You will get things unimaginably better than Trump.

                                                    You can have Maribou or you can have freedom. The freedom to say how you feel, the freedom to feel what you feel.

                                                    *As a footnote, the whole Maribou thing is funny. He misunderstood the humor in my Joe Arpaio defense where I said Arpiao has a bunch of Hispanic officers. That whole couple of paragraphs was the joke. I use a lot of absurdist humor to defang the earlier points and make them palatable. That’s why I’ll jump from the Holocaust to the Star War’s prequels. Not everyone gets the humor, but it’s so effective that after a few years on a site it gets me banned.

                                                    That is normal. I doesn’t bother me a bit. It’s how things are nowadays. Nobody is allowed to question the narrative, but questioning the narrative isn’t one of my debilitating nightmares. Getting in a firefight isn’t. I went belt fed. Getting in a sword fight isn’t, getting in knife fight isn’t. I teach that. Screwing up and shutting down Nieman Marcus, Dell, Goodyear, or IBM, while my parents watch, is. It’s an engineering thing.

                                                    And now I have to go to bed, and it’s all going to start again. Every single night. I have to bathe in hell because my problem solving brain thinks it’s duty is to present me with unsolvable engineering problems from hell. When I was young it merely presented me with people trying to kill me with rifles. I miss those days. Those were sweet.

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                                                    • “As someone who suffers daily trauma, the likes of which you can scarcely imagine”

                                                      I am very sorry for your trauma. I also suffer from lifelong PTSD, the details of which I won’t go into here except to say the cause of it started when I was about four years old, peaked in my teens, and it’s only in the last 5 years (I’m 40) that I’ve started to make some headway. I’ve seen really really dark and fucked up shit, feared for my life several times before I even hit puberty, been unable to leave my bed for days, lost days of time at a time (who knows what I did back then??) and it seems impossible and crazy to me that I *could* make any headway.

                                                      I hope that someday you get some help from someone who can make it less awful, even though I know that would still make it pretty damn awful. I think that being very intelligent and also going through hell is a shitty, shitty combination, your brain becomes a weapon against you, at least in my own experience.

                                                      I’ve taken as much time with you as I have not to use you as a stalking horse but because there is a lot of what you say that is valuable, that does spark new thoughts on this board. And of course we’re not all perfect and without flaw, here; what we strive to be is kind. And yes, respectful. It’s not an obscene word or intention.

                                                      I’m not going to insta-ban you, but if you do the thing I’m talking about again, we are going to suspend you. You can come back after that if you want, if you think you can rein in the leaps. I’d actually rather you did rein ’em in – you wouldn’t be the only person on this board that has to filter what they say for the sake of civility, and that includes me – but I reckon from what you’ve said here it probably won’t be possible.

                                                      Whatever ends up happening, I hope you find a place to express yourself as makes sense to you, and I hope you continue to find ways to make your own life meaningful even as you’d rather not be here. It’s a hard fucking road, man.

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                                                      • I’ve been watching this interaction with you and with some interest, and I would like to offer a comment to maybe build some understanding.

                                                        While I’m not always keen on George’s arguments, I don’t find his humor or flippancy offensive, because to a degree, it mirrors my own. It is, for lack of a better term, a form of Gallow’s Humor, which is one way people cope with the pain & trauma they have in life.

                                                        I don’t know if I need to go into a big long discussion as to how Gallow’s Humor works, especially when coupled to something like PTSD, but I’d ask that, at least with regard to his ‘humor’, you show some understanding. I know Gallow’s Humor hits a lot of people wrong, but it’s not meant to be dismissive, it’s a recognition of solidarity.

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                                                        • I am familiar with gallows humor. To a degree, his mirrors my own too. You really don’t need to go into a big long discussion about it, because I get it. I keep it to people who love me and have context for it, as much as I possibly can, but sometimes I fail at that. Sometimes really badly and I hurt people I care about. So I get it.

                                                          But I care a whole lot about this being a community where a wide variety of people want to come and a wide variety of people feel at home. Right now it’s not, it has a fairly precise demographic bias toward certain ways of thinking and certain sets of experiences – not every single person! but the weighting is very clear – and has made a *lot* of comments that contribute to that. Not the odd one off, or only on one subject. It’s a pattern, it’s not nearly as funny for a lot of the people he’s actually joking about, or for a lot of our writers and commenters more generally who care about people in the groups he’s joking about. (This is true whether or not he actually does care about them too.)

                                                          I personally haven’t felt comfortable commenting here because of the kinds of things George has said in response to my comments (not just anyone, but George and one or two other person) and I am far from alone. The amount of patience I’ve tried to extend to him already has a lot of understanding baked into it.

                                                          I have personal experience with PTSD, as I said. If I didn’t get it to a large degree, he’d’ve been gone the *very* first time he started talking in explicit and gruesome terms about transgender people (different topic, same problems). I would have laid down a him-or-me ultimatum at that point. And that was months ago.

                                                          I also, though, have a pretty large amount of experience with managing communities where some people don’t treat other people with respect. And being patient for too long with someone who has those problems and can’t rein them leads to much bigger problems. Problems the site as a whole has been experiencing. Problems which include people in general being nastier to each other, people leaving, people feeling like their “home” doesn’t have room for them anymore…

                                                          This will never be a “safe space” in the pejorative sense of the term and I wouldn’t want it to be. But it does need to be a safe *enough* space, not a space where a couple of people who for whatever reasons – empathizable or less so – make it hard for a large part of the community to enjoy themselves. We’re not the town square, here. I don’t have to worry about what should or shouldn’t be legal. I just have to worry about what does or doesn’t make this an acceptable place for most people to feel welcome to speak their piece, to listen to other commenters, and to engage in conversations that push their Overton windows *wider*, not to one side or another.

                                                          Part of the reason I’m being patient is that I’m also doing my best to avoid a chilling effect. I know it’s extremely disheartening when people you aren’t bothered by get booted from commenting because other people are really bothered by them. There are websites I won’t ever leave a comment on because of that. There are a few websites (left and right and not really either) I’ve been banned from for taking up for the wrong side over the years, and Jaybird makes my “banned” record look paltry.

                                                          If George ends up not being allowed to comment around here, it’ll be something that I and some of the other editors have been stressing out over on and off for months, not a callow or unsympathetic choice.

                                                          If I seemed blunt with him before it’s because I generally appreciate people being blunt with me: “This is what you’re doing, this is how I perceive it, you’ll stop or you’ll leave, I don’t care which.” I actually appreciate his describing his context more specifically, above, but as with the people I have to ask to leave my workplace and not come back a few times every year, it won’t keep me from making the decision I feel is best for the community as a whole. Not a *good* decision or one I would ideally make in an ideal world, but the best possible bad decision.

                                                          I actually think any action taken by a moderator on any comment, here or on other sites, should be the best possible bad decision. But not taking any action can be far from the best possible choice…

                                                          I hope that helps you understand where I’m coming from, even if you’re still frustrated with what you feel is a lack of understanding from me for George.

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                                                          • Fair enough, I just wanted to make sure you had that perspective.

                                                            Can you dial it back a bit? When you are on point, you are on point, and I appreciate that, even if I disagree with you.

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                                                    • I hope you don’t get banned. I place a pretty high premium on abstract thought and you bring a lot of that.

                                                      Maribou is asking for respect, the full context and background of that I am not sure of. I can see in a liberal context to someone of the right it may appear social justice like.

                                                      She has repeatedly mentioned something along the lines of keeping the quality of the content of the site up. That does have a considerable quantum of subjective value to those who frequent this site who are more of the modern liberal position. We are loosing people here.

                                                      Chip has been out for awhile, Stillwater hasn’t been around. I can’t say for sure if it was the quality/respect problem Maribou is getting at, but if it is we may do well to see what we can do to keep folks at the table discussing these things.(especially the ones we don’t agree with at all)

                                                      For a time I ask to dismiss the class/race struggle. Again it is playing on the grouping/Marxist analysis. Ignore victimism, just flat out ignore it. Ignore the whole march into the ‘bourgeois conceits’ as jr mentions above.

                                                      This engineering problem is solving itself. Kazzy above appears to be questioning the justifications of ‘rule by law’ asking to check the priors. That is a big step.

                                                      Greginak is asking that people listen to each other outside of formal law. That is a big step.

                                                      These are steps to applying the invisible hand to law.

                                                      I get a feel that your a fan of the right. The things that matter to people of the right mostly have a lot to do about individual constructs. Each person has their individual constructs, they build them, they live with them, and on occasion they choose to rearrange them. It makes each of us individually who we are.

                                                      I have a notion that rule of law is a individual construct. It is different for each of us, individually. No one will have an exact copy of someone elses rule of law. we get into problems running under the assumptions that everyones rule of law is similar/compatible enough that people by default should understand what each others rule of law is. This it turns out is a really bad assumption.

                                                      What are statues?
                                                      we have a few loose definitions of what statues represent:
                                                      1.)reminders
                                                      2.)testaments
                                                      3.)objects of power projection

                                                      The problem here for someone on the right, is what is the relationship of a persons individual constructs with these social constructs?
                                                      1.)we really don’t need a social construct to remind us of stuff that has gone well or stuff that has gone sideways
                                                      2.)we really don’t need a social construct to give testament to what society, or a individual in that society did to require testament
                                                      3.)a social construct to try to humanize, or legitimize the power of society and it’s social constructs is not useful

                                                      In those three things a statue has less value to me than a park bench. At least with the bench I can sit down and rest awhile when I need to.

                                                      Some PoC (to use the ML term) will have little subjective value in statues, much like you are referencing Charles above, others will see it as a projection of power, others as the reminder. They own there own set of individual constructs, and each of those is different.

                                                      If we are truly on the right, we should give those individual constructs some respect as we would expect some respect of others to acknowledge each of our own individual constructs. It’s not easy, it’s a one at a time thing. There is no outright claim on social objectivity of it, and I think that is where the conflict with Maribou is for you, if I’m reading correctly. The site or none of it’s moderators have the one true social objectivity to claim respect is deserved for X, but we should derive some respect if nothing else for the individual constructs of others. I’ve thought about the way Dennis mentions grace in the essay, and this is where I see it can be applied.

                                                      You seem like a pretty cool dude. It appears you have a lot of internal dynamics. I used to be that way, really crazy dreams, brain never stops. Somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming. My dreams at night slowly became fewer and eventually subsided to the point it is rare to wake up from them.

                                                      I guess it happened about the time one of my friends told me I was going to be ok. He said it may take me a year or two to slow it down and work it out, but I would be good on the other side of it. I would like to pass that forward and tell you are going to be ok. It will take some time to get to the other side of it.

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                                    • “I’m not being dismissive of the pain*, I’m saying it is not actionable.”

                                      I see that. Please see that I’m not necessarily calling to make it actionable. I’m pointing out that just because it isn’t actionable doesn’t mean it should be dismissed or ignored, which is very often the case. See: snowflake memes

                                      I think part of the issue is that “actionable” tends to be a binary. Maybe we need a wider range of actions. So we won’t outlaw Nazism or Nazi iconography, but maybe we put certain limits in place… like no surrounding a synagogue. I understand your concern about the can of worms this open and won’t pretend to have a solution. Which may very well mean it needs to remain inactionable, at least for now. Or we need to get more creative in thinking about how we can take action when emotional harm happens while still acknowledging all of the difficulties that surround that.

                                      But, in the end, much of our rules and actions are predicated upon some notion of emotional harm. Even property crimes… sure, you can say, “We can observe and measure physical damage!” But why does physical damage even matter? Because the people who own that property attach value to it and damaging it impact the value they’ve attached. The attachment of value is, at root, an emotional experience.

                                      Also, the fact that we often leave the decision to pursue crimes up to the victims also recognizes the importance of emotion. Which we’d probably agree is a good thing!

                                      It’s just weird that in one area we seem to treat emotion and emotional harm differently than in these other areas and I want to explore the assumptions and priors that underly THAT.

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                                      • Because the people who own that property attach value to it and damaging it impact the value they’ve attached. The attachment of value is, at root, an emotional experience.

                                        I’m not sure how you are using the world value. I don’t want my car stolen bc it cost x amount of money and without it I can’t get to work. It is an asset to me and adds to my net worth. That’s why folks who steal cars should be punished, not b/c the theft of the car made me so feel sad since i’ll never see it again.

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                                      • but maybe we put certain limits in place… like no surrounding a synagogue

                                        First, recognize that placing limits is, by it’s nature, causing something to be actionable, which means the limit has to be very clear, very articulate. It can not be a “I’ll know it when I see it” standard.

                                        like no surrounding a synagogue.

                                        Generalize it a bit, maybe to something like, “protests are not permitted to surround or otherwise interfere with the safe and normal ingress or egress of any private structure or peaceful public gathering”. I mean, we do this to a degree with abortion clinics, IIRC, so there is a precedent already in play. Seriously, I’m not opposed to things, but you can’t just come at it with some grand, sweeping statement about how we need to limits rights because of emotional pain. You need to articulate the conflict and demonstrate a way it can be addressed in some objective manner so that people have a reasonable chance to avoid running crosswise to it while still exercising their rights.

                                        Because the people who own that property attach value to it and damaging it impact the value they’ve attached. The attachment of value is, at root, an emotional experience.

                                        When your beloved home burns down, go ask the insurance company to compensate you for your emotional attachment value to the house, see what they say. Or if someone steals and trashes your cherry Shelby Cobra, ask the courts to compensate your for your emotional loss, let me know how that goes.

                                        We have developed methods to objectively determine values that are not dependent upon an individuals personal attachment value. Hell, we even have objective dollar values upon human lives. About the only time subjective value comes into play is Pain & Suffering judgments for civil suits, and even then the dollar amount is not up to the victim, it’s up to the judge/jury, and such awards are often overturned on appeal and vastly reduced.

                                        Yes, value has some emotional component to it. But there is a difference between the price you are willing to pay, and the price a market will bear (which is basically the price the rest of interested parties are willing to pay, averaged out), and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone willing to compensate you for your personal emotional value.

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                                        • “…but you can’t just come at it with some grand, sweeping statement about how we need to limits rights because of emotional pain…”

                                          Thing is… this is exactly what you’re doing. People have a right to freely practice their religion, right? Does permitting a mob outside a synogogue impose on that? I’d say yes. And we are going to justify that because the Nazis will be emotionally pained to take their mob up the road a bit?

                                          As Our Tod often reminds us, battles are rarely freedom vs tyranny but one set of rights in conflict with another set of rights.

                                          We’re in a framing issue here and you haven’t made the case as to why your framing should win out. Neither have I for that matter. But at least one of us is acknowledging our battle is over framing while the other contends the answer remains obvious.

                                          (Also, for the record, while our convo has been more tense than typical for us and greater tension surrounds us, I haven’t lost an ounce of respect or fondness for you throughout. I hope I’ve been able to allow you to say the same.)

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                                  • SO our capacity for justice is limited by our capacity to understand pain?

                                    I have been thinking about this question all day.

                                    Change out the word “pain” for “harm”, and I think that this is 100% true.

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                                      • Among other things, absolutely.

                                        But I was thinking about stuff like how people who have X amount of privilege cannot experience, among other things, racism, sexism, or microaggressions.

                                        Focusing more on the “our capacity to understand harm” thing.

                                        If we can hack our capacity to understand something, we can totally hack justice.

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                                        • “But I was thinking about stuff like how people who have X amount of privilege cannot experience, among other things, racism, sexism, or microaggressions.”

                                          Are you suggesting that this is true? What people believe to be true? What we might learn to be true?

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                                          • Are you suggesting that this is true? What people believe to be true? What we might learn to be true?

                                            I’m suggesting that it depends, 100%, on our understanding of harm.

                                            And if we can hack our understanding of harm, we can hack our understanding of justice.

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                                    • To use the surrounded synagogue example:

                                      The ‘bad people’ surrounding the synagogue have an individual construct that free speech is ok, anywhere, anytime.

                                      The people in the synagogue have an individual construct of what live and let live should be, and this ‘feels’ like it is violating that.

                                      This doesn’t have to involve pain or harm, but a conflict does arise between these two constructs. kazzy is talking priors, so this is before the applications of formal law.

                                      How does this subside without a negotiation of the individual constructs by the agents involved?

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                                        • I agree except for one little part. We don’t process threat or harm as a we. We process it individually. What is processed as harm or a threat of violence is completely spawn from individual constructs. It’s subjective.

                                          This is really important to what I think kazzy is saying, and I hope I am reading the mechanisms of his argument correctly.

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                                            • Each of us has differing individual constructs of what harm is, what threat is, what justice is, that brings the bigger problem to the table. Is this something that unaggregated society should be doing, instead of the aggregated population?

                                              Is ‘rule by law’ workable?
                                              If not, we are going to need a much better tool to hack justice from individual constructs. The only path I see, is doing it like we used to do it. Negotiating rule of law through individual sovereignty not through collective policy. That requires communication though and not hitting the easy button every time things get a little difficult.

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                                              • Is this something that unaggregated society should be doing, instead of the aggregated population?

                                                “Should”?

                                                Lotta assumptions in a “should”. You can see an “ought” hiding in there, if you look right.

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                                                • I think I know what your talking about there, but it could be a really important part of what we are discussing, so I would like to ask the full context between ‘should’ and ‘ought’.

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                                                  • In this case, it seems to me that “should” is, functionally, indentical to “ought”.

                                                    Which means that if we’re suddenly using phrasings about what society ought to be doing, we’d best be careful to not be subtly begging the question.

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                                                    • I usually see begging the question the same as ‘logical fallacy’.

                                                      Which I think I see where that is going.

                                                      Should implies control, but the context I’m using in what society should or should not be doing has to do with releasing control and going back to negotiating.

                                                      Otherwise I think our concept of ‘marriage’ is based on a logical fallacy, and your prediction of divorce is unavoidable.

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                                                      • Hey, just because you have a logical fallacy doesn’t mean that you didn’t reach the right conclusion anyway!

                                                        But if we’re saying that we ought to do what we ought to do because we ought to do it, on one level I agree wholeheartedly… on another level, I find myself wondering how we got to this plan right here from there.

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                                              • That requires communication though and not hitting the easy button every time things get a little difficult.

                                                This notion that subjective feelings should be the new legal standard is a good example of hitting the easy button.

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                                                • The easy button is: ‘There ought to be a law, let’s make a law’

                                                  Recognizing subjective feelings is typically part of the negotiating equilibriums of rule of law, so it has legal weight, just typically not in formal law.

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                                          • You are getting it, .

                                            If one group says, “Live and let live means I can march around your temple shouting Nazi slogans,” and another group says, “Live and let live means you absolutely cannot do that,” than it doesn’t matter if we all say we agree to live and let live because we don’t actually agree on what live and let live means. So we need to agree on that. Or at least decide on a definition and let it rule the day.

                                            Currently, it seems, we are siding with the group saying the marching is okay. Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong. If you think it is right, make the case.

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                                            • Unless I am one of the marchers or one of the synagogue goers, why should I make the case? The conflict is between the individual constructs of the people involved.

                                              You may have 80% of the synagogue folks perfectly ok (on a individual constructs level) with people doing whatever speech is going on. In another case you may have 0% ok with what’s going on.

                                              You may have marchers/shouters that are only 10% devoted to the cause of shouting and marching for reason X.

                                              You may have marchers/shouters that are only 100% devoted to the cause of shouting and marching for reason X.

                                              Now how are these folks ever going to come to some equilibrium of best matching rule of law without negotiating or discussing the matter? Note this is prior to any creation of formal law. Note also that I am only assuming people will want to find a equilibrium of rule of law, and am fully aware that it doesn’t actually have or even need to occur.

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                                              • When you are talking people outside a building doing things that make the people inside genuinely afraid to go out the front door, I think the idea of everyone sitting down and negotiating a ‘rule of law’ seems a little absurd.

                                                Jews: We should have the right to worship in peace and come and go safely from our place of worship.

                                                Nazis: You shouldn’t be allowed to live, let alone have any rights to anything.

                                                “Rule of Law” is fine in theory, and all of this talk of constructs is lovely in the abstract. However, in practice the ‘rule of law’ in Germany in 1940 said Jews could be forced in cattle cars and sent to concentration camps. I’m not sure how one gets around that.

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                                                • I know you mean well by bringing this to the forefront. I make no illusions that rule of law will keep the ‘strong man’ at a distance. It is no secret.

                                                  The ‘strong man’ has been with us since the age of sharp sticks. Now how do we not produce the ‘strong men’ that tend to put people on cattle cars?

                                                  My proposal is to first not concentrate power, and second don’t depend on vague notions of liberal social democracy that will eventually lead to authoritarianism.

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                                                  • I did mean well, and hope it didn’t across as strident as that was not my intent. I don’t know what the answers are, but to people who have been in the minority and facing the law turned against them, indeed used to negate their human rights, the ‘rule of law’ discussion feels lacking.

                                                    I suppose I am reacting though to the sense that you are viewing this from 1000 miles up, while to me it is much closer and more immediate. (My son was recently told by kids at his school that Hitler was right and he should be in an oven. And this is along with a lot of other recent incidents of the sort).

                                                    But that probably means I should walk away from this discussion. Your very objective detached view is not one I can adopt for discussing this.

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                                                    • Shoot, Rigs describes the knife their threatening to stab him with, and thats just a wednesday. We make up only 25% of the population around here. Rule of law is a ground level thing.

                                                      If some kind of fantasy means you don’t have to engage scary people, let me know how that works out.

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                              • “I do think it probably matters whether discussing public or private properly.”

                                It’s about the only thing that matters.

                                But the underlying assumption you both are making is that the harm wrought by speech is overwhelmed by the value of free speech while the harm wrought by defacing public monuments overwhelms the value of that particular mode of expression.

                                The underlying assumption I’m making is that the harm wrought by speech is so subjective as to be indefinable, whereas the harm wrought by defacing public monuments is independent of the content of the defacement.

                                “But you haven’t made that case.”

                                The case was made for us two hundred fifty years ago by the First Amendment.

                                “Imagine an alien lands tomorrow and sees you arresting people for putting pain on a piece of metal while protecting a group of people tormenting others and reducing them to tears.”

                                That’s a really good argument that nobody should be allowed to make sad chick flicks where old women experience pain and yearning.

                                Wait I’m confused, was that what you meant to say there?

                                “How do you explain to the alien why that is? I want to go all the way back to the very basics here, a place you seem unwilling or unable to go.”

                                You seem to have trouble getting the idea that we don’t consider it a legally actionable harm that one person made another cry.

                                Like, it’s a bad thing that person did, worthy of notice and criticism, and there’s nothing wrong in pointing that act out and making decisions based on it and remembering it in future dealings.

                                But, something that there needs to be laws about? Something justifying retributive (or even preemptive) law-enforcement action? No.

                                “And a note I’ll add re: subjective harm… so is physical pain. There are many things you can do to a person that will create physical pain yet leave no evidence, at which point we just take the word of the person that they were, indeed, harmed. Why is emotional and mental pain different?”

                                It’s interesting that you give us this scenario because if there’s if there’s a claim of physical assault with no evidence of any kind, that’s called reasonable doubt and the accused party is found innocent.

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                                • “Please show me where we have criminal cases that operate upon the idea that physical pain is respected absent some other compelling evidence that damage happened.”

                                  Verbal testimony and circumstantial evidence can be treated as compelling evidence in assault cases. Particularly in child sexual assault cases.

                                  It does weaken the case and it usually results in a plea bargain, but there have definitely been convictions.

                                  I would guess that there are rape and regular physical assault cases in which the burden of evidence (threats, etc.) is so great that no *reasonable* doubt remains, and people are convicted as well.

                                  Reasonable doubt doesn’t require *physical* proof of harm for physical assaults. It just requires the case to be so compelling that the only doubts left are unreasonable ones.

                                  Emotional harm likewise might not need to require *physical* (aka empirical aka objective) proof of harm. Some things might be so *obviously* harmful, especially with compelling testimony and indirect evidence, as to erase any possibility of reasonable doubt.

                                  I don’t actually care to argue the case for hate speech laws, although I’m less against them than I was 20 years ago when I was absolutely sure the 1st amendment was just about the *only* thing America did better than Canada. I think I still think it’s better, but I’m a lot more conflicted.

                                  But still your claim about physical assault is incorrect.

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                                  • But, by your own admission, absent evidence of physical harm or some other evidence to support the claim of harm, the bar for a conviction is considerable. We don’t just take a person at their word that physical harm was done, there needs to be something more to work with.

                                    I mean, Bill Cosby seems to have caused considerable harm to a number of women, and there is still a pretty good chance he’ll never see a day in prison.

                                    There are men (and women) who cause terrible, emotional trauma to the partners and children, who never see the inside of a courtroom unless they cross that line to physical abuse, even though everyone knows they are guilty as hell.

                                    Yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceptions, and in every such exception, there is something else that investigators can try to use rather than personal testimony. And in how many cases that were successfully argued was the victim only claiming emotional harm absent some kind of associated physical harm? I’m betting that number is very small, especially if we look at how many survive appeal, because we don’t indict or convict on the say so of the victim or witness.*

                                    The bar is set high for a reason, because we remember the stories of burning witches and inquisitions and other horrible abuses of power because personal testimony was deemed enough.

                                    *Unless the victim or witness is a cop.

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                                    • Oh, I agree with your arguments on balance. It’s just that you didn’t say they were almost never convicted, you wanted Kazzy to show you where they were convicted. I was showing you where. They’re convicted precisely where it is SO obvious that guilt exists that no direct physical evidence of harm is needed. A person could conceivably feel that in general hate speech was not a thing for the criminal courts to deal with, but identify particular cases where it’s so obvious that emotional harm was done, that no direct physical evidence is needed.

                                      Much like obscenity cases, in which a community identifies subjective taboos that are perceived as so universal that no quantification is needed. Generally when something goes to court for obscenity, the argument is not that obscenity should not be a thing, but that the norms of the community are not sufficiently broached by said thing to be a true anathema, and therefore IT – that specific thing- is not obscene. This leads to some pretty egregious screw-ups, IMO, but it’s a really common thing that happens with laws, and it’s a thing that reasonable people can reasonably want to do.

                                      I was only saying your claims about what we do were off, not your claims about what we ought do…

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                                      • It strikes me that some of this could be resolved by considering where certain speech crosses a line from ‘free expression’ to intent to threaten/intimidate, or intent to traumatize.

                                        Someone who ‘only’ posts a lot of messages saying a particular woman deserves to be raped and/or murdered, but doesn’t say he intends to do it or *explicitly* urges others to, still strikes me as crossing a line even in the absence of physical evidence of harm done.

                                        At the very least, one could get a restraining order against him. And maybe that’s the way the people in Skokie should have responded. Not objecting to content of speech but showing that that speech happening in their neighborhood, around people who had lived through the consequences of similar speech in Germany, was harassment intended to traumatize (which, let’s face it, was plainly the intent of those nazis).

                                        I recognize it’s a slippery slope, and would need some very careful limits, but there are legitimate arguments for saying some speech is beyond the pale.

                                        Going back to a prior analogy up thread. If the guy across the street puts up Nazi symbols, maybe I have to live with it. But if he puts up a banner saying “[my family name] are Jews and ought to die!” I think I would be justified in calling the police.

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                                • “The underlying assumption I’m making is that the harm wrought by speech is so subjective as to be indefinable, whereas the harm wrought by defacing public monuments is independent of the content of the defacement.”

                                  Only… not. Let’s imagine the statue was removed by the city. Was it “harmed”? Many are arguing yes.

                                  The harm remains subjective. All harm is subjective.

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                                  • No, the impact of harm is subjective, harm is quantifiable.

                                    Or, to move to your earlier language, a laceration is a measurable harm (it’s a laceration, 3″ long, half an inch deep), the pain a given person feels from it is very subjective.

                                    We recognize that such a laceration will, in 99+% of the population, cause pain. How much pain and how well they tolerate it will depend on a lot of factors, many of them utterly unknowable. So we default to, “yeah, that hurts, it’s a harm, let’s work from there”.

                                    So harm is knowable, pain is understandable, but not really knowable.

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                                    • And yet somehow courts across the country can make objective determinations of such harms, and award emotional distress damages.

                                      It’s certainly harder than “I lost a hand” or “I incurred $X in hospital bills,” but we don’t therefore set it at $0 by default.

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                                      • Sure, after an objective determination of harm is made. And I think that is good, because it recognizes that not all the effects of harm are neatly quantifiable, while still requiring that some objective standard be met.

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                            • Legally? No, of course not.

                              Morally? I’m much less certain.

                              The law can’t (for good reason) distinguish between the rainbow flag and the swastika, but I sure as hell can, because I’m not the law. There’s moral value in following the law and respecting other people’s private property, but there’s also moral value in not tolerating Nazism, and maybe sometimes that will take precedence.

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                              • There’s moral value in following the law and respecting other people’s private property, but there’s also moral value in not tolerating Nazism, and maybe sometimes that will take precedence.

                                Oh, absolutely, but don’t complain when you have to deal with the police after the fact.

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                      • …It doesn’t physically harm a human. It might upset people… but isn’t that just subjective harm akin to the potential harm caused by speech?

                        When you defend the destruction of property then your argument can be used for things like burning down people’s houses while they’re not there.

                        Further, assume you pass a “subjective emotional harm” law. Is Trump a Nazi? Every member of the GOP? Anyone who runs against a Dem in seeking office? Anyone who opposes Gay rights? Anyone who suggests a rape victim might be making it up?

                        Could your law be used by a Southern 1960’s Mayor against Black Civil rights activists?

                        Can the pro-life people jump in against the Dems? Or do you envision all this only being used against your political opponents?

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                        • So the argument from your side is a slippery slope?

                          Again, I’m not advocating for changing the law. Rather, I’m arguing for laws based on principles rather than outcomes.

                          Emotional harm is real. And subjective. And ultimately underlies most of our understanding of harm. Now, we can make the case that based on the source of the harm, we are going to weigh things differently and may come to different conclusions on what to prioritize. But we need to justify those weights with something more than, “The Constitution!”

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                          • “we need to justify those weights with something more than, “The Constitution!””

                            he gave you an argument and you’re all “pffft, SLIPPERY SLOPE“, like there has never ever ever in history been a situation where someone wrote a silly, subjective, open-ended law intended to protect those poor minorities who were suffering harm and it got used to hammer minorities on behalf of the privileged.

                            “I’m arguing for laws based on principles rather than outcomes.”

                            Congratulations, you invented the “conflict minerals” provisions of the Dodd-Frank bill. Ask the Congo how that’s worked out.

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                          • Principles and ideals are a bad place to create law from, they are too squishy. Outcomes are better because they are more concrete.

                            I mean, give me any principle that you think should be a law divorced from a specific outcome, and I’ll tell you how it gets turned on it’s head in short order.

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                          • So the argument from your side is a slippery slope?… Emotional harm is real.

                            More like a cliff.

                            I know a woman who has repeatedly claimed emotional harm (and physical abuse, etc). She’s a nasty piece of work (intelligent, attractive, charismatic, and a world class actress). She’s always the “victim” in her narrative, and if you don’t ask hard questions and just stick with fuzzy emotions she’s believable. If someone in authority figures out she’s lying she moves on to the next authority and claims the previous one backed her. She’s made a lot of really nasty claims to the police/doctors/social services/etc.

                            So I’ve seen a lying dirtbag repeatedly play the “harm” card. Four centuries ago she’d have been the one giving heart wringing testimony which burned witches at the stake. Thankfully the modern police understand people deliberately lie to abuse the system for their own crass ends.

                            Nazis are very rare, people like her are extremely common. “How common”? In the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting we many times more fake “witnesses” than real ones. They were deliberately lying about the cop for the purpose of sending him to jail. Any abusable tool will be abused.

                            I gloss over the emotional harm of free speech because people lie, and the number of people who lie is far greater than the number of people traumatized by nasty words. If you find a Nazi rally offensive then don’t go.

                            My town has multiple churches, each has multiple services, I’m already willing to change my schedule based on whether there will be donuts or the weather. If there were a “X” rally outside church “Y” at time “Z” then I’d arrange to not be there just to skip the drama. If I focus on controlling my own actions and not on controlling everyone else’s, avoiding “emotional trauma” becomes much easier.

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            • Sure. Anyone can protest non-violently. I’m just wondering how on earth a few folks here are conjuring up this wave of leftist statute-destroying terrorism (I mean seriously, “the terror”?!? Liberal mobs are going to start beheading people?), when it’s the precise opposite of what’s actually, you know, happening.

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              • Because a whole bunch of statues are getting defaced in ways that suggest far left activism. It isn’t any directed effort (that I can see), but it is an inspired effort (kind of like how ISIS isn’t directing terror attacks in Europe, but they sure are happy to inspire them), and it’s one we should be actively discouraging by saying that it’s wrong, and if it so offends you, there is a process to get it removed.

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                • Before we get too hysterical about this, I would like to point out that it’s the beginning of the school year. Historically, you tend to see more graffiti and damage to statues, etc. around this time of year and it has nothing to do with ‘activism’ or ideology.

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                • it’s one we should be actively discouraging by saying that it’s wrong, and if it so offends you, there is a process to get it removed.

                  Defacing public property is a crime, and one that carries legitimate punishments. I won’t go so far as to say it’s always wrong (in a more moral fundamental sense, and IMO) but it’s clearly always a crime and anyone who does it should expect to pay whatever penalties apply.

                  Your counterpoint, however, suffers from the fact that a lot of the current opposition is TO processes that get statues removed legally. Kind of like how everyone very even handedly told black people to stay out of the streets during Ferguson protests, but also criticized all other forms of protest (up to and most definitely including the taking of a knee during the national anthem).

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                  • And what form is that opposition taking? gave some disturbing examples, but most of the opposition I see is just people loudly bellyaching and pontificating about it.

                    Which gets annoying, but that’s about it.

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                    • Well, within the last couple weeks someone got run over by a car and killed, just for starters.

                      I suspect those “disturbing examples” of death threats are actually pretty par for the course, too.

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                      • Yes, and part of the problem is that while on a local level it’s generally just a few loudmouths or bad actors, most of whom are already known to police, the issue gets broadcast to a whole national right wing audience (or worse, a whole white supremacist audience) as “OMG Look what those evil lefties are doing!!”

                        No mention of course of the year(s) long hearings and process that went into the local decision to remove the statues. Just “EVIL LEFTISTS ARE COMING FOR OUR HERITAGE!!!”

                        And then you get Charlottesville.

                        Most of the protestors there were not residents. Nearly every one of the torch-bearing Nazi wannabes was from outside the city and most of them from out of state. To some extent, ‘ooo scary lefties’ has become a trope to stir up scary righties.

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                      • Is it right to attribute all the violence and looting of the Ferguson protests to those events, or can we safely say, there were bad actors, and everyone else was just trying to be heard.

                        I mean, COME ON! Please stop making me defend racists and Nazis in order to keep consistent to my beliefs.

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                        • How is mentioning what the opposition does not an answer to your question about what form the opposition is taking?

                          If we were having civil debates in town halls, that’d be one thing. That’s not what the opposition is doing.

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                          • Again, if it was wrong of people to condemn all the Ferguson protesters for the acts of a few (and it was), then it is wrong to condemn the original Nazi protest for things it didn’t do.

                            The guy in the car was leaving the protest when he decided to go all Carmageddon. The original protest was (IIRC) all done. I don’t know that you can tie A to B like that, any more than you can tie Ferguson protests to local looting or violence that happened away from the main protest.

                            I mean, you can, but then you lose the right to complain when the other side does it to you.

                            ETA I agree with , the opposition is doing a lot of public whining about losing the debate, which is getting other people fired up in unhealthy ways, but what else is new. I’m starting to think of all this as the movement equivalent of running from the cops on an LA Freeway. Yeah, you’ll be on the news and YouTube. Congrats.

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                        • Were the protesters in Ferguson protesting for the right to engage in violence? No.

                          That alone completely distinguishes them from the Nazis.

                          I mean, sure, they have the legal right to march and be huge assholes.Go them.

                          But morally, let’s not pretend that they are doing anything but advocating for the right to commit violence on a mass scale. That does a lot to shift the calculus of blame. See also the Vice video of the various Nazi dirtbags walking around strapped to the gills and talking about how eager they were to have street fights, or the various forum posts where right-wing extremists wank themselves raw over the idea of running down protesters.

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                          • OK, I sat down and looked up the timeline of events from that weekend. I don’t consume a ton of news over weekends because I am usually busy doing family & friends time, so by the time I did get details, it was a mess. I found this, which seems to be serviceable to the goal.

                            Assuming the facts are true, I will agree that they were clearly outside what I would call a ‘peaceful protest to protect a statue’ from the get go. The timeline I had in my head was that the initial protest happened on Friday, and then it devolved into tiki torches and Nazi fest with Antifa later on. The moment they started marching on Friday (well before what it seems like their permit stated), the police should have ordered them to disperse and pulled their permit for Saturday.

                            So, I walk it back, the Nazis gave up the game at the outset, and the police seriously dropped the ball on dealing with it.

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                • “if it so offends you, there is a process to get it removed.”

                  There was a process to getting to sit at the front of the bus too – it involved doing so illegally and repeatedly.

                  If the process of getting the statues removed is so effective, why have they been standing since (totally coincidentally) the beginning of the civil rights movement?

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              • “I mean seriously, “the terror”?!? Liberal mobs are going to start beheading people?”

                I’m pretty sure that Robespierre thought he was doing the right thing for the best of reasons, and nobody would really get hurt except for a few people who deserved it anyway.

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                • Then maybe do some rudimentary research. Dude built his power base on successfully mobilizing to execute Louis XVI.

                  In any event, your speculation about the inner workings of Robespierre’s mind has nothing to do with the incoherency of the claim (which I notice no one is willing to actually defend).

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  4. The traditional “white” religious song that deals with slavery is “Amazing Grace”. A beautiful song about a terrible man who (eventually) stopped being a slave trader and (eventually) dedicated his life to theology.

    This is one of the many songs that shaped my young understanding of Christianity. An awful man who accepted the Grace of God and was saved from being a wretch. But this was the song of someone who did much sinning against people…

    When I was older, I discovered Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. An equally religious song that deals with the aftermath of having been sinned against. It’s not a song that asks for strength; on the contrary, it noted that strength had been given. The song instead asks for emancipation.

    We have too many people who understand religion through the lens of Amazing Grace who have never heard anything like Redemption song.

    So, like that, I see the statues of the Confederates. Too much Amazing Grace.

    Not enough Redemption.

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  5. Excellent post Dennis.

    Our widening political polarization means that the other side is not honorable.

    This, and your comments about grace… too many people have truly lost their understanding of these terms. And they’ve lost the ability to see people with whom they disagree as having honor, or being worthy of grace.

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  6. Excellent article. You sum up a lot of my feelings on the issue. (As a born and raised Northerner, now living in the South, I admit I’ve kept my mouth shut on this, because the “this isn’t really my culture” thing makes me feel like I shouldn’t share my opinions)

    And the comment about Ken Burns “extending grace” to these individuals he could have vilified: would that we could all “extend grace” to our ideological opponents and see them as more human and less cartoon. That’s the thing that worries me most about our culture right now: it seems to have become all too easy to “other” and dehumanize someone you disagree with….and a few steps along from dehumanization is “It’s okay to harm them, perhaps even physically.”

    (And a fistbump or a handshake or whatever from a fellow DoC!)

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    • I’ve lived most of my life in places that were neither North nor South locally. For example, much of my childhood was spent in northwest Iowa. The big event in 1861 was an Indian raid within 60 miles of where my grade school sat. If you believe the local historians, the attitude was that the War was a bad thing because it distracted the Union Army from its important job (native American genocide). Much of the population when I lived there as a kid was descended from northern Europeans who immigrated after the Civil War as part of the settler recruitment by the Great Northern Railroad. Some of my friends’ grandparents still read little newspapers in Danish or Swedish. Childhood school memories can be tricky, but my recollection is that the Civil Was was treated as an important part of US history, but was something that happened “back East”.

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      • Iowa was a free state and sent its share of troops to fight for the Union. I don’t know how this plays out in its cultural memory. There are places such as West Virginia that quite emphatically were on the Union side where the stars and bars are now seen frequently.

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        • In 1860, eastern and western Iowa were two very different places. The state sent a higher percentage of its male population off to war than any other Union state — but essentially all of that was the part of the state within 100 miles or so of the Mississippi River (the eastern third of the state). The western part was sparsely settled frontier with very different concerns. The split has continued since. Eastern Iowa was part of the extended US manufacturing belt (now the Rust Belt), but not western Iowa. Today, western Iowa is much more conservative than eastern Iowa.

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  7. I don’t buy the equating of statues with “remembering.” This is, to put it bluntly, bullshit, in the technical sense of the word. Our culture has a well understood set of tools for remembering history.

    One typical way is a sign where the event took place, with a brief account of the event. This format is neutral, though the text may not be. The format is suitable whether the event is to be celebrated or decried or merely noted.

    A public statue is something different, and we all know it. It is not there merely that we remember who he was. If it were, we would have statues of King George III and Benedict Arnold. Germany would be rife with statues of Adolf Hitler, who after all is a central figure in 20th century German history. But of course we all know that public statues aren’t merely about remembering that this person existed and did stuff. They are about honoring this person, putting him both literally and figuratively on a pedestal.

    Same with official state songs. When my governor, a member of the Party of Lincoln (and the English say Americans don’t understand irony), defends a song calling on Marylanders to rise up against the United States, declares Abraham Lincoln a tyrant, and denounces the Unites States Army as “scum,” I don’t buy his claim that this is merely about remembering history. That is not the function official state songs serve. Rather, they state ideals and aspirations. I therefore take my governor’s defense of the song to mean that he supports its ideals and aspirations. That’s why I voted for the other guy.

    Oh, and Ken Burns treating Confederates as honorable blah blah yadda yadda? This was anything but unique. It was the bog standard version of Civil War history. Burns didn’t have to search out some obscure historian to present that version. Shelby Foote was already popular and utterly mainstream. If it is startling today, it is because we are pushing back against the bullshit. It’s about time.

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    • The analogy I think of is Rommel. Rommel was a brilliant commander and by all accounts an honourable man. But he fought for an evil cause all the same. Rommel needs to be remembered by history, for good and ill, but they don’t put statues of him up in Germany and for good reason.

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      • Rommel didn’t get any statues because it just doesn’t look right when you depict a general poking out of a Panzer IV instead of astride a horse. It makes them look kind of small. But he has many busts and a beautiful memorial.

        And addressing an earlier point, New York used to have a wonderful statue of King George III, but irate idiots ripped it down in 1776 and melted it into 42,000 musket balls. Interestingly, they can still identify musket balls made from the statue because it wasn’t pure lead. But it’s due to come back this year.

        Dr. Mead said the museum would try to shake visitors out of the idea that the Revolution was “controlled, tame, elegant, done by statesmen in drawing rooms that had green tablecloths.”

        Instead, the Revolution was “populist and violent,” said R. Scott Stephenson, the vice president for collections, exhibitions and programming.

        Populist and violent, tearing down statues. Sounds familiar.

        And of course I have to link a pick of the awesome statue of Genghis Khan.

        No Civil War monument can touch that.

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          • That’s in Mongolia, a bit outside the capital. I’m not sure if any Chinese statues would’ve survived the Cultural Revolution. But when you’ve got a population of only 3 million and one of you conquered half the known world by sword, you’d better give him a statue!

            Plus, given the DNA results, half the population is probably family.

            You can question the justness of his cause (the world doesn’t have enough fresh corpses?), but he was undeniably great.

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        • fwiw, noted mostly because i think it’s interesting and not because I know anything like enough about Rommel to form an informed opinion of him other than that I wish he would’ve let his honor go and joined the Resistance, and been the better person he could’ve been (that’s not informed, to be clear, it’s emotional and wishful on my part based on a novel I read as a kid) ….

          Protestors started defacing, chiseling, protesting that Rommel memorial ages ago. here’s an article that references such activities that took place in 2011: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/was-the-desert-fox-an-honest-soldier-or-just-another-nazi-6272076.html

          Really don’t want to argue about people defacing statues of Nazis, just think it’s interesting that we have such narrow visions of whether and when people destroy statues…

          also fascinating is the recent situation where a statue of Mao was erected and then taken right back down before it was finished:
          http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/china-chairman-mao-giant-statue-henan-province-destroyed/index.html

          Statues are far less fixed than we expect them to be…

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          • Um, the Nazis killed Rommel because he was part of the plot to assassinate Hitler. That’s why he’s dead. He’d found out what was happening to the Jews and he was not okay with it. When the plot failed he knew they’d come for him, and so he said goodbye to his wife and got into the car with the Gestapo. The Nazis told the German public that a Spitfire got him.

            Try reading “The Rommel Papers“, which covers every letter he exchanged with his wife. I read it when it came out. The book’s major omission is that when it was written, it hadn’t been revealed that during his period of victories, Rommel knew every move they British were making, their supply situation, and all else because a US ambassador was relaying all the British reports to Washington using a diplomatic code that had been compromised in Rome. After that ambassador was sacked, Rommel never won another major battle.

            His replacement was Hans von Luck, a brilliant commander who had served on every front. Von Luck survived the war and Russian imprisonment and became very good friends with Steven Ambrose. Von Luck’s book, “Panzer Commander”, is a great read.

            My favorite part of it is where he relates how he and his friends went to a ski lodge after the invasion of the Sudetenland. They were celebrating the German victory but the old man who ran the lodge, a WW-I veteran, was not happy about it. They asked him why. He said “It shows that Hitler is a gambler, and gamblers gamble til they lose.” That’s the simplest summation there is.

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      • Rommel’s reputation, and the memorial with it, are not without controversy. But setting that aside, Rommel gets nothing like the hagiography that is routine with Lee. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if it were a single Lee memorial tucked off in the woods somewhere in Virginia.

        It is also worth constant repetition that Lee’s reputation is largely bullshit. Once the war was over, and especially after Reconstruction, it was in the interests of everyone who mattered (being white was a necessary but not sufficient condition for this happy condition) to build up the whole Lost Cause shtick. Kindly Marse Robert, the military genius reluctantly answering his state’s call, was a key element. That it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny was beside the point.

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      • We don’t have statues of Rommel here in the U.S. We don’t have statues of Admiral Yamamoto. We don’t have statues of Benedict Arnold. We shouldn’t have statues of Lee.

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    • In my limited experience and how I read Dennis’ post, he wasn’t saying the honorable treatment was noteworthy, he was saying the honorable treatment *combined with the very blunt refusal to condone anything about their cause or pretend it was other than evil* was unique. It’s true Foote was mainstream, but most discussions of Civil War stuff (I say from my extensive bookselling experience not from the historical background that you have) that permeated to the popular (white-dominated) culture, especially beyond the ones who like to read Foote and McGregor for pleasure – I’m not talking about the wisdom of folks like Audre Lorde here either obviously – but just “what kind of stuff sold the most to people who weren’t history geeks” had either the lens of “oh it was so hard for everybody what are you going to do mistakes were made” or (Farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr more rarely) the lens we get a lot more now than we did then, “it was awful, all those people were awful, f them all.” Honestly I lean more toward the latter myself….

      But I appreciate *immensely* hearing Dennis’ more gentle counsel and I can see where his concerns are coming from. Some of them I also share.

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  8. I think the statues need to be removed from the public square. There is a tacit understanding that is raised on a pedestal is meant to be venerated. A man on a horse cast in bronze and set in the middle of town will be assumed to be honorable. That is the history the people who put those statues up meant to convey, and it is a perversion of preserving our actual history.

    I thought this was a good piece on this:

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  9. I came away from this essay thinking two things:

    1. It’s thoughtful and honest, and therefore much appreciated.
    2. If this is the reason not to remove state-endorsed celebrations of the confederacy, it seems pretty clear that they should come down.

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    • Especially given why so many of them were put up on public land in the first place. They were a blunt statement of “You’re still second class citizens, darkies”.

      It had nothing to do with heritage, and everything to do with Jim Crow and later the endless fight against the CRA.

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  10. It was indeed a very well written and heartfelt essay. Three thumbs up!

    I will point out that many people have noted that the two big spikes in Confederate monument building occurred during times of racial strife. That’s not quite correct. The first spike peaked in 1910, well before Wilson was elected in a four-way race that shouldn’t have happened. From 1910 to 1915 the pace of monument dedications sharply and linearly declined. Wilson didn’t take office until March 1913, and his resegregation of government didn’t happen overnight. Yet the pace of Confederate monument construction plummeted to almost nothing during his first term.

    The reason is that 1910 is 50 years after 1860, and 1915 is 50 years after 1865, the war’s end. There’s a similar spike in Union monument construction, and both spikes were repeated from 1960 to 1965 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the war.

    Southerners were not monsters anymore than other men. They were honorable men who were wrong. Everybody is wrong about many things, some of them important things. It’s important to keep perspective, because after we develop vat meat and quit slaughtering cute animals for food, future generations might denounce all of us as worse than Hitler. They’ll rip all our statues down, or move them to the museums where they’ll surround them with informative plaques saying things like, “Barack Obama was President of the United States and an inhuman monster who gleefully presided over a country that slaughtered baby pig, goats, sheep, chickens, and cows. You can imagine the blood dripping from his grinning lips.” From our perspective that would be nuts. From their’s it might make emotional sense. Sure, there would be some who would say that the rest don’t understand Obama in context, but they would be denounced as carnivorous beasts who should be tortured in cages.

    What we have right now is madness, virtue signalling, and outrage by proxy.

    Related, Shelby Steel in the WSJ.

    Why the Left Can’t Let Go of Racism
    Liberals sell innocence from America’s past. If bigotry is pronounced dead, the racket is over.

    It’s behind a paywall, but I can excerpt it if you’d like. It’s quite interesting.

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  11. gregiank: It’s not like we can unpardon Arapio.

    Can we tell the Federales to be at a specific spot along the border, and then toss Arapio over it to them?

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  12. A good piece.

    My feelings are mixed. A statue is a pretty piece of stone, maybe with a message. To the extent it keeps the idea of the Confederacy alive it’s a bad thing… but there’s also the parable of Mohammad destroying 11 of 12 stone “gods”, deliberately leaving one to show how weak it was and he faced no threat.

    On the subject of where we came from: Assume a generation is 20 years. Go back a century and we have 32 ancestors (2^5). Go back two centuries and we have 2^10, or roughly 1000.

    Go back four centuries and that’s a million. Six centuries and we have a Billion ancestors in a world which had 350(ish) million people. If we include cousins and inlaws then it happens a lot quicker, thus the ad on how Jeffrey Dahmer is related to Einstein.

    Everyone comes from everyone. We all came from slaves and kings, holy men and monsters.

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  13. I’ve kind of missed most of the fun, but I’d like to share a few observations and thoughts:

    1. Loving your enemies is a severe discipline. It is hard, but it is worth it, for one’s own sake.

    2. Everything I know about how human brains work suggests that the more one tries to ignore racism, or erase it, the stronger it will be. The most effective way to combat racism is to acknowledge its effect on you and build up countermeasures. This work begins in one’s own heart. A campaign of erasure feels too much like it’s motivated by a desire to avoid the shame of the past, which would make us more vulnerable to it in the future. There will never be a time when humans do not feel the temptation to Other.

    3. Dennis, it’s clear, is fine with taking down statues, and highlights the reasons they were put up, quite adequately. It feels like many of you aren’t listening. It’s the vituperative nature of the debate that bothers me, the desire to bury Union dead at Robert Lee’s doorstep, to ruin his house and life. Our souls are being damaged by this. Dennis quotes Holmes, but Grant and Lincoln had much the same attitude toward those who fought. I would rather stand with Lincoln, Grant, and Holmes than with Montgomery Meigs.

    I too, am fine with the removal of statues. But if we forget the story of Robert E. Lee, we are doomed to repeat it.

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  14. I’m curious if people feel differently about the generalized “memorial to Confederate veterans” statues as they do about statues of Lee et al.

    There is a Confederate Veterans memorial on my county’s courthouse lawn. There was a minor kerfuffle last (? the news moves so fast now) weekend that supposedly “Anonymous” made a claim they were coming to pull the statue down, so a lot of people apparently rushed out to spend their Saturday night surrounding it to protect it. (The threat turned out to be empty, and was perhaps a hoax).

    Anyway. One of the people who stood around the statue noticed cracks in the base and now is raising funds to restore it.

    She is an African-American woman and a veteran herself, a fact some might find surprising.

    Again, as a northerner by raising (was born in W Va, which I guess didn’t exist at the time of the Civil War), I feel like I don’t have a horse in this race so I’m just staying silent on the whole Confederate Veterans issue, though I bet I know people whose great-great-grandfathers (or however many generations we have to go back now) fought.

    I suspect the fact that this is former “Indian Territory” and that we are the home to the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” (so named, I guess, because they adopted European farming habits) and that some of those individuals actually owned slaves themselves muddies the water a bit.

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    • Speaking just for myself, and I am very much a Northerner and one whose family proudly served in the Union Army in some of the bloodiest battles of the war, I see monuments to a town’s Confederate veterans as entirely different thing from monuments to individual Confederate generals.

      One is about remembering (at this point distant) family lost in a horrible conflict.

      The other is about putting seditious pro-slavery traitors on a pedestal.

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        • As the wags say, Washington fought tyranny to install democracy. Lee fought democracy to install tyranny.
          Facile, I know, but it has a nugget of truth. The reason for the treason is the issue that we – something that rhymes with issue.

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          • Washington fought tyranny to install democracy. Lee fought democracy to install tyranny.

            So Washington fought to free those that wanted to stay loyal to the Crown? Lee wanted to establish southern tyranny in the north? Wow, is my history messed up?

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        • lol. True. But AFIAK (I could certainly be wrong, and I would not put it past my Scottish relatives to have erected one one) there are no statues showing General George Washington astride a horse in public squares in Britain.

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            • Interesting. I did not know that.

              It appears it was a presented to England from Virginia in 1924, so not exactly a memorial to Washington as rebel leader, but your point is taken.

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              • During the War of 1812, British warships saluted when they passed Mt. Vernon. Washington was quite respected in Great Britain during the Revolution; in this way and perhaps this way only, Lee was like Washington, since Lee enjoyed favorable press in the NY media during the Civil War, much to the annoyance of General Grant.

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              • It was not also erected by the British, decades after the war, as a symbol of their enduring desire to continue taxing America.

                The Lee statues aren’t on battleground memorials — they’re in public squares, erected during Jim Crow as a sign of where the Southern governments stood. Specifically squarely on the ground of “Blacks have no rights”.

                Which is why, you know, certain groups of people feel pretty darn strongly about them. It’s not so much Lee personally, as the actual freaking intent of that statue. Which was, you know, a giant governmental middle finger to blacks.

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                • Yes. That too.

                  I imagine if the statue of Washington had been erected in Ireland as a statement about the benefits of rebellion, it might not have been received quite so well by most Brits…