Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Unhinged, left and right

I have been meaning for days to comment on Dave Neiwert's though-provoking six-part series (the last post has the links to the first five) critiquing Michelle Malkin's book Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, but I wanted to wait until I got a copy of the book.

Having read it, I certainly agree with the main thrust of Neiwert's criticism: Unhinged is egregiously unbalanced.

Malkin sets out to prove that while conservatives are commonly stereotyped as intolerant, extreme, rabid, etc., it's really liberals who are all of the above. And she collects some good examples of left-wing nuttiness and nastiness, from conspiracy theories on the "stolen" 2004 election to kill-Bush fantasies to Cameron Diaz suggesting that voting for Bush meant voting for legalized rape to her own (Malkin's) racist and misogynist hate mail. But it's absurd for her to suggest that there is no similar nuttiness and nastiness on the right, or that conservatives "conservatives zealously police their own ranks " against extremists and conspiracy wackos. I don't recall anyone anyone "policing" unhinged right-wingers like Dan Burton, the Indiana Congressman who called Bill Clinton a "scumbag" and shot pumpkins in his back yard to prove Vince Foster was murdered. Ann Coulter, the very model of the unhinged right-winger (and assassination-joke maven), is featured in Malkin's screed only as a victim of the nasty left. Malkin has only words of praise for Rush Limbaugh, who (among other things) has compared then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to "the devil" and "Satan." The Terri Schiavo case was an appalling example of the unhinged right, but the only bad behavior Malkin notices is liberals criticizing the Randall Terry freak show outside the hospice.

So Dave Neiwert's critique, on those grounds, is entirely justified. As he says, it is deeply disingenous for Malkin to pretend that the kind of ugliness she documents on the left has no counterparts on the right, or to reduce "unhinged" right-wing behavior to a few negligible acts by a few "nutballs." And Malkin's lack of response to Neiwert's criticism is, well, telling. (I should note, by the way, that I am not a Michelle Malkin fan. I used to like some of her columns, and we met for lunch when I was in Seattle in 1999; but later on, I began to find a lot of her rhetoric increasingly ... well, unhinged, and I was particularly appalled by her defense of the Japanese-American internment.)

The problem is, while Neiwert clearly strives to be fair-minded and acknowledges that there is a lot of ugly behavior on the left, he can't resist the partisan temptation to argue that right-wing nastiness is a lot worse.

For instance, he discusses what he calls "eliminationist" rhetoric on the right -- talk, a lot of it ostensibly "humorous" but with a genuinely nasty undertone, about deporting, arresting, or killing liberals and leftists. Neiwert writes:



This is really only found on the left in the form of the "jokes" about assassinating Bush, which are indeed grotesque and worthy of real condemnation. But the left doesn't appear to harbor fantasies about wiping out all conservatives -- as the right does for liberals, commonly, frequently, and loudly.

Well, I'm not so sure about "commonly, frequently and loudly," though Neiwert does cite some pretty egregious examples from Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly (who was "joking," not so long ago, about how if SanFrancisco wants to bar military recruiters from its high schools, we should tell Al Qaeda that "every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco"). But some of the left-wing examples Malkin cites are pretty bad as well.

Thus, Garrison Keillor, of Prairie Home Companion fan, has "joked" about amending the Constitution to deny evangelical Christians the right to vote. Eric Alterman, in an Esquire interview, remarked that he wished Rush Limbaugh had gone deaf and that "the country would be better without Rush and his 20 million listeners." Arguably, "humor" about cutting off the "red states" has an "eliminationist" streak to it, as well. And Malkin documents a lot of left-wing nastiness wishing death and suffering on individual conservatives, such as Laura Ingraham when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Let's not forget the admittedly marginal Ward Churchill asserting that the capitalist pigs who died on 9/11 deserved it, and a professor at a Columbia University anti-war teach-in wishing for "a million Mogadishus" (i.e. mass slaughter of U.S. soldiers) in Iraq. And let's not forget Michael Moore's 9/11 comment: "Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California -- these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!" Okay, this is not quite the same as saying that people who voted for Bush deserved to die in a fiery conflagration (in the next line, Moore says, "Why kill them? Why kill anyone?"), but the suggestion, you have to admit, is there.

Neiwert also asserts that the left-wing ugliness documented by Malkin is something new, and primarily "reactive" to years of liberal-bashing by El Rushbo and his ilk. That's true if you want to talk about "kill Bush" rhetoric, or in-your-face, "lies and the lying liars who tell them"-type conservative-bashing.

But I think Neiwert is overlooking a lot of nastiness of a more genteel variety -- the "Republicans are evil people who want to poison the air and water, starve kids, throw Grandma out on the streets, enslave black people and kick puppies" variety. Remember the "If you elect Republicans, black churches will burn" campaign ad? Or the one in the 2000 presidential campaign in which the daughter of James Byrd Jr., the black Texas man who was deliberately dragged to his death behind a car, said she felt as if her father was killed all over again when Gov. Bush refused to sign the state’s hate crimes law? Or the "Uncle Tom" slurs directed at black affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly? Or the charge that Robert Bork would take us back to segregated lunch counters? (I am not at all a Robert Bork fan, but that was disgraceful.) There's been a lot of that stuff; I remember a 2001 a cartoon in the New York Daily News which showed Bush Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton (accused of being too friendly to polluters) mouthing the slogan, "Leave no child alive."

Here's another example where I think Dave Neiwert overlooks extremism on the left while going after (and, I think, somewhat exaggerating in this case) the right-wing variety:

Meanwhile, let's not forget the American right's newfound infatuation with Joe McCarthy. First it was Jonah Goldberg, then Ann Coulter, and now this. Pretty soon we'll hear it coming out of Sean Hannity's mouth too: "Joe McCarthy was not so hot in the way he went about doing things, but he was right."

First of all, I think Neiwert is being a bit unfair to Jonah Goldberg, who was talking about the rampant use and abuse of the term "McCarthyism" (and who called McCarthy "a lout, generally speaking"). Ann Coulter did pen an apologia for McCarthyism in her book Treason (see more on the subject here), which was widely criticized by conservatives (even David Horowitz thought she'd gone too far). As for the latest example cited by Neiwert -- well, that's kind of an interesting story (via Steve Benen at WashingtonMonthly.com).

About two months ago, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wanted to name a post office in Berkeley after a 94-year-old former city councilwoman. Rep. Steve King of Iowa accused the woman, Maudelle Shirek, of having communist ties and he led a fight to defeat Lee's measure. Accused of engaging in blatant McCarthyism, King said, "If [Lee] studied her history, she'd recognize Joe McCarthy was a great American hero."

All right, so Steve King is a jerk and an apologist for an authoritarian bully who deserves his ill repute (and who did more damage to anti-communism than he ever did to communism). But who's Maudelle Shirek? This complimentary feature on her from the San Francisco Chronicle includes this tidbit:

Her ideals have found expression not only in Berkeley but also all over the world -- in Africa, Moscow, Prague, Nicaragua and Cuba, where she dined with Fidel Castro.

So it's extremist to praise TailGunner Joe, but not extremist to hobnob with Fidel? I would suggest to Dave Neiwert that Maudelle Shirek's choice of heroes is at least as bad as Steve King's. Maybe even worse.

So what's the bottom line? There's a lot of ugliness, extremism, and "unhinged" behavior across the spectrum of American politics right now. And there is a regrettable tendency, across the spectrum, to ignore, downplay or excuse it when coming from one's own side. Michelle Malkin doesn't even try to rise above this partisanship. Dave Neiwert tries, but doesn't, in my opinion, quite succeed.


Addendum: Not to plug my old articles in every blogpost, but here's a relevant Reason column from 2003: "Bipartisan Coulterism: Who's meaner, conservatives or liberals?"

Update: For a follow-up to this post, see: Extremism, hate speech, and moral equivalency.

163 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our blogstress wrote:

"[Michelle Malkin's book] Unhinged is egregiously unbalanced."

And who, exactly, is surprised?

peter hoh said...

Here's my rule: Shit stinks no matter what asshole it comes from.

Revenant said...

What weirds me out about the term "McCarthyism" is how it has drifted from its original meaning of "falsely accusing someone of being a Communist in order to ruin their reputation". Nowadays it means "criticizing a Communist or Communist sympathizer for their beliefs and actions".

McCarthy wasn't bad because he harassed the Communist Party (which was, at the time, staffed and run by actual, real-life traitors), but because he wrongly accused so many innocent people -- people he *knew* were innocent -- of involvement in that same evil.

Cathy Young said...

And who, exactly, is surprised?

Well, not me!

But I did think I should read the book myself before making that claim.

revenant -- yeah, good point re: McCarthyism. I think that's exactly the point Jonah Goldberg was trying to make in that McCarthy column that Dave Neiwert took to be an apologia pro McCarthy.

Pinko Punko said...

"Republicans are evil people who want to poison the air and water, starve kids, throw Grandma out on the streets, enslave black people and kick puppies"
Except the puppies, where Republican policies appaer neutral, I'm not sure how this is a slur? Perhaps many people that vote republican are not evil (just concerned about meaningless issues such as gay marriage, meaningless in terms of actual effect on American society and the institution of Marriage™), but when people like Richard Pombo run the House resources committee, influence peddlers like Jack Abramoff buy and sell politicians, the President himself supports claptrap like Intelligent Design, and probably only for political gain, exactly how do these uniformly Republican policies and actions suggest that they are not any of those bad bad things? I haven't even mentioned Iraq. So who's unhinged and who's exaggerating?

Revenant said...

Except the puppies, where Republican policies appaer neutral, I'm not sure how this is a slur?

Well, there's the part where it is entirely untrue. You know -- the part between "Republicans" and "puppies"?

One could just as easily say that Democrats want to cripple the economy with useless, counterproductive regulations, impoverish Grandma by confiscating most of her wealth and forcing her into a low-paying "retirement plan", and keep blacks trapped in the state they're in by supporting programs that reward incompetence and sloth and punish success and hard work.

Or one could concede that the two groups have the same goals -- helping people -- and radically different ideas about how to accomplish those goals.

Matt Ortega said...

In all fairness, Neiwert did not have to produce a "fair and balanced" fact sheet on "unhinged" behavior across the spectrum.

His six-part series was a response to the overly slanted and distorted BOOK by Michelle Malkin. His very short look at the Right obviously is not going to be 50-50. She produced a heavy load of leftist unhinged behavior, clearing the way for his slam, not only of her piss-poor book, but also the nastiness of the Right.

I think he did an incredible job in just a few short posts. He exposed Malkin's book for the skewed perception of reality that her book purports.

In the final analysis, his posts were a RESPONSE to her abomination that was "Unhinged" and not the basis for an argument independent from her crappy book.

Steve J. said...

I would suggest to Dave Neiwert that Maudelle Shirek's choice of heroes is at least as bad as Steve King's.

I read the article and it wasn't clear to me that Shirek thinks Castro is a hero.

Hemingway also met Castro but didn't consider Fidel a hero.

Cathy Young said...

In the context of the article, I'd be surprised if Shirelle isn't pro-Castro. It's not exactly an unusual stance on the left, to this day.

Josh Jasper said...

I'm trying to remember the last time a Democratic Congressman joked about Wanting the be the instrument of genocide genocide while at church, and go laughs and applause from a Democratic audience.

But for some reason I can't seem to remember that ever happening. It's fortunate you've got dips like Ward Churchill to bandy around as the face of the left, but he was never elected to office. He's not representative of anything other than managing to get a job teaching film criticism.

Rep. Johnson, on the other hand, was elected by a large number of actual voters. He's part of the Republican leadership.

If you're going to claim Niewert's idea that the right is more unhinged than the left, and that the left engages in eliminationist rhetoric just as frequently, or even to a significant degree, try and pick someone who really represents the left.

I find it so easy to find big-league right wing Republican leaders who engage in eliminationist talk. I mean people who've made hundreds of thousands off of the right wing media machine promoting eliminationist talk. I mean high office holders. Every day there's some news or another about a prominent Republican or Fox News talking head using eliminationist talk.

If things are equal, or even near equal, you shouldn't have to stretch to find a current *actual* representative of the left or the Democrats who uses eliminationist talk.

The Navigator said...

Cathy, I think there's a bit of tension between this post and the previous one on sexual harassment. Not a contradiction, just a bit of tension.

Women should, I take it, shrug off certain comments as just jokes, right? No one should be overreacting to sexual innuendo that's clearly facetious, even if there's a minor, subtle, yet unmistakeable overtone of genuine sexual interest/aggression at the root of the remark.

But when the obviously facetious remark is "wipe 'em out" rather than "ride 'em hard," you seem to imply that such comments are beyond the pale and deserve to be condemned. [Yes, I understand the point of your post was to note that overheated rhetoric is bipartisan, not to specify the appropriate reaction to it - it's just an implication.]

Speaking as someone who detests Ann Coulter, I think I can observe that her comments about, e.g., wishing McVeigh had bombed the NYTimes, were intended as humor and not a genuine wish to see people murdered, but that nevertheless there was a real feeling of near-hatred underlying such remarks. I would think that's true of the majority of the remarks you identify - only a tiny handful, at most, strike me as genuine, heartfelt expressions of a desire to see people literally eliminated.

So, how upset should I get? Certainly we shouldn't overreact. But one might think that kidding about genocide, or something like it, is just too serious and touchy a matter to be joking about, because in the last hundred years we've seen that mass murder is a very real and frightening phenomenon that may have directly touched the lives of the people we're addressing.

But that's also true of sexual assault and rape, the things accused sexual harassers are generally joking about. (Setting aside total misunderstandings, as the "put 'em away wet" comment may have been.) So, how much of a right do the intended targets have to get upset?

Shoeless said...

cathy,

Two quite important points have been made above, and I would like to highlight them:

One, Neiwart's arguments and examples are in response to Malkin's book. It is not logical (nor fair) for you to treat them as if he intended them to stand alone as an argument. You are wistfully ignoring the degrees of difference that he is pointing out.

Second, it is that exact qualitative difference that you are quickly glossing over. The eliminationist talk on the right keeps coming from Republican politicians serving in Washington and from right-leaning national media figures. Equivalent talk from the left is coming from university professors, for goodness sakes!

You stretch uncomfortably to conflate a Keillor-type comment with a Limbaugh-type one. "Eliminationism" as Niewart has discussed it means the death or disappearance from existence of an opponent. Keillor has never advocated that--he advocated the disappearance from voting of a group. Limbaugh et al. argue for the elimination from this earth of everyone they disagree with.

I know Dave will answer you in more detail, but your Broderesque "they are all equally guilty" stance is untenable. I do admire the fact that you responded to his series.

Iain Bason said...


Let's not forget the admittedly marginal Ward Churchill asserting that the capitalist pigs who died on 9/11 deserved it


This turns out not to be true. What Ward Churchill actually said was that 9/11 was an example of chickens coming home to roost. In other words, that 9/11 was a predictable consequence of actions that the U.S. had taken. He also said that the victims were complicit in those actions. He did not say that they deserved to die.

I don't agree with Mr. Churchill, but his words have been widely and consistently misrepresented. Let's not fan the flames of hatred by perpetuating the lie.


And let's not forget Michael Moore's 9/11 comment [quote elided] Okay, this is not quite the same as saying that people who voted for Bush deserved to die in a fiery conflagration (in the next line, Moore says, "Why kill them? Why kill anyone?"), but the suggestion, you have to admit, is there.


No, I don't think it is there. I haven't followed the link, so I don't know the context, but the words that you quoted seem pretty clear to me: Moore is saying that not only were the 9/11 attacks evil, they didn't even make sense.

dswift said...

You muddied Neiwert's distinction. There is a profound difference between casting aspersions on opponents -- and urging their deaths.

"Eliminationism" is advocation and the carrying out of murder. Just the other day Rush admitted that "part of" him thinks Christian peace activist hostages should die because they asked for it. Just the other day a couple of thugs beat a Kansas prof by the roadside because the prof thinks intelligent design is a farce.

We hear this sort of "final solution" rhetoric increasingly from the right. "Liberal hunting license." Neiwert documents this. It's widespread, getting worse, and there is no equivalent rise of political sport-murder talk from the left.

The proof of Neiwert's thesis is right under our nose when we compile wacko rhetoric. The wacko left wants to take out Bush, Cheney, et al -- a dozen, tops. The wacko right wants to take out anyone and everyone who won't toe the Bush-Jesus line -- millions.

William R. Barker said...

Full disclosure: I haven't read Michelle Malkin's book and I don't intend to. Nor have I read Dave Neiwert's piece. That said...

Yeah, there are kooks on the right. But come on, let's be honest, within the "mainstream" there's not much of a balance.

Take Howard Dean for example. The man is the CHAIRMAN of the DNC! Partisanship aside, who do you think better deserved the moniker "unhinged," Dean or RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman?

How about Nancy Pelosi? The woman is the elected leader of the Democrats in the House! Honestly... who comes across as more "unhinged," Pelosi or Dennis Hastert?

Listen... there are left wing Democrats and right wing Republicans, but Republican elected officials like Trent Lott (whose own conference showed him the door) and Tom DeLay (perhaps soon to follow Lott) are "normal" right wing pols, their opposite numbers being Democrats like Harry Reid and Dick Durbin.

Of course my opinion is subjective and biased, but subtracting the "normal" hacks, crooks, and idiots serving in the Senate, House, Judiciary (let's all say it together...9th Circuit")... various mayors (hmph... San Francisco...) and the like, I submit that if we're comparing the sheer number of "unhinged" elected officials... the Democrats win hands down.

a cornellian said...

"Or one could concede that the two groups have the same goals -- helping people -- and radically different ideas about how to accomplish those goals."

This is the wrong distinction, the question is who they want to help. Republican policies seem to consistantly favor the rich and big business. If this seems like a good idea see the bread and circus period of the Roman Empire, see feudal Europe, see the abuses of the turn of the centery. The left tends to favor the lower and middle classes more, if this sounds like a bad idea, see the reneissance in Europe

re the comment above mine, i'm going to cite "Justice Sunday" farse, Cunningham, the 4 or so senators attached to Abronoff, Cheney (torture is ok), the Terri Schavio fiasco, anyone who takes Dobson and his ilk as fools, Moore (the southern judge, not the film maker), and the list goes on.

As for you exact questions, Hassert.

Name reasons Dean is unhinged. He is over exuberant, but that is not what we are talking about here.

a cornellian said...

*edit

"takes Dobson and his ilk as *anything but* fools"

Synova said...

The distinction is not who either group wants to help except in the Democratic party rhetoric. Republican policies appear to favor businesses and the rich because the belief is that a vibrant economy helps the poor in real ways rather than feel good ways.

You don't have to agree that the policies will have those results. Results aren't motivation.

As for Malkin. She makes no pretext of being balanced. Nor, for that matter does Rush.

And I agree that McCarthyism is a term that should be used for the witch-hunt sort of smearing of innocent people rather than criticism of actual communist policies or heroes.

The Navigator said...

William Barker,
In re: Dean, to quote John Judis:
"February 2003. After Secretary of State Colin Powell made his case for war at the United Nations, most other leading Democrats applauded. Senator Joe Biden called Powell's case "very powerful and, I think, irrefutable." Senator John Kerry called it "compelling." Only Dean dissented. "I heard little today that leads me to believe that there is an imminent threat warranting unilateral military action by the United States against Iraq," he said.

Later that month, Dean warned that the Bush administration was preparing to invade Iraq unilaterally. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay charged that Dean "either doesn't know what he's talking about ... or he's seriously uninformed, or he's just misleading the American people and his party."



April 2003. Senator Joe Lieberman declared that the capture of Baghdad and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime vindicated his support for the invasion. "The vindication that I feel is the confidence that with Saddam gone, America's going to be a lot safer than it otherwise would have been," Lieberman said. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said that "it's a continuation of a historic, long-term trend that we stand on the right side." Once again the dissenter, Dean said, "All these folks who are crowing about their vote and the outcome are going to learn that the occupation will be very difficult." He added, "I'm not a pacifist. We've removed a horrible dictator, but the price we're going to pay is down the road."



June 2003. As reports began to surface that the Bush administration might have misled the country about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, many leading Democrats were hesitant to question the administration's probity. Biden said, "I don't think there is any doubt that the administration was right in saying that he had those weapons." Republicans dismissed any doubts. Senator George Allen asserted, "It's not a question." But Dean said, "We need a thorough look at what really happened going into Iraq. It appears to me that what the president did was make a decision to go into Iraq sometime in early 2002, or maybe even late 2001, and then try to get the justification afterward."



December 2003-January 2004. After Saddam Hussein was captured on December 14, Dean appeared to go out on the farthest of limbs. "[T]he capture of Saddam has not made America safer," Dean said. "The Iraq war diverted critical intelligence and military resources, undermined diplomatic support for our fight against terror, and created a new rallying cry for terrorist recruits." Gephardt termed Dean's statement "ludicrous." Kerry took it as "more proof that all the advisors in the world can't give Howard Dean the military and foreign-policy experience, leadership skills, or diplomatic temperament necessary to lead this country through dangerous times." Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said, "It's baffling that anyone could possibly think life under a brutal dictator who routinely tortured, raped, and imprisoned his own people is better than the freedom and democracy taking root in Iraq today."

link

Valdron said...

Speaking as a Canadian, I can say that I have no dog in this fight. But I do have a couple of problems with this blog entry.

This post seems perfectly symptomatic of a corrosive attitude that seems to pervade American thought: If everyone does it, then its all right, or at least not so bad. It appears that the self appointed 'fair minded' as in the Y Files, have endorsed a sort of moral equivalency which transcends both facts and ethics. I have no idea why this should be so, but I can only say the result is poisonous.

As I understand it, Michelle Malkin has written a dishonest book, the principle thesis of which is that the language of the left is violent and obnoxious, and the language of the right is not.

David Neiwert posted a series of responses arguing for the most part, that the language of the right is in fact violent, obnoxious and completely unrestrained. I don't think that there can be any reasonable dispute as to this. Neiwert also pointed out that the language of the right is of much greater volume, much more accepted in public discourse and generally more violent. Again, I don't think that there can be any reasonable dispute of this.

Any general survey of political discussions on both sides shows that the right is far more aggressive, far more violent in its language and that this violence and aggression takes place at higher levels.

Moreover, there is quite disturbingly, a willingness on the part of elements of the right to put this violent rhetoric into practice. In this matter, we can cite Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, the Order, the Branch Davidian, Eric Rudolf, the Anthrax Terrorists, the Brooks Brothers riot and many others. In contrast, with the exception of some vandalism at anti-globalization rallies, I can't really see any significant violence on the left, or any sort of broad acceptance of this.

This should be obvious to anyone. The problem here is that the writer has taken a bizarre moral position.

She could have condemned extremism in a judicious fashion, which would, in my view, have amounted mostly to a condemnation of the right. There's nothing political to this, its simply that on a factual basis, the right wing is leading and pushing the way.

She could have simply lowered a smack down and said that all of this is completely unacceptable and is not proper. That would have been a morally clear approach.

Instead, the author of this blog post has chosen neither path. Rather, in what seems to be a loopy attempt at 'fairness' she bends over backwards to try and claim that Ward Churchill or some anonymous blogger is equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove. She weakens her case by sloppily misrepresenting both, and particularly by misrepresenting left language in order to show that they're both the same. She ignores questions of volume, intensity, virulence and level of authority.

Thus, having reduced both sides to a creepy and nebulous equivalence, and having distorted facts and arguments on both sides, the writer takes some morally superior tone, theoretically more enlightened and above it all, while failing to assign blame or even to condemn. Instead, she holds up her hands and goes "its vile, but they both do it, so I suppose its sort of okay."

This is a cop out as pretentious as it is offensive. The writer assumes a moral pedestal to which she has no right, she sacrifices facts and logic to her muddy notion of fairness, and she conveys legitimacy to things which should not be legitimate at all.

I am reminded of Paul Krugman's complaint about the obsessive need for balance in which, if the White House were to announce that the world is flat and scientists rejected that claim, the newspapers would announce "Shape of the World: Views Differ."

I am also reminded of a recent American public affairs program which, when preparing to discuss the Holocaust, actually considered inviting a Holocaust-denier on to give 'balance.'

Therefore, while I must condemn the writer here for sacrificing her integrity and intelligence on the altar of some boneheaded notion of 'fairness', I cannot condemn her too harshly.

Her malady is all too widespread in American society.

Valdron said...

Hmmm. I'm not sure what Navigator's point is, except possibly to rebut the notion that Dean is unhinged by pointing out that he has been right all along on Iraq, where even leaders members of his own party have been wildly wrong. My view as a Canadian is that Dean seems to be condemned as a loon because he insists on telling the truth. Again, I think that tells us more about America today than it does about Dean.

Synova said...

The right is worse...

"In this matter, we can cite Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, the Order, the Branch Davidian, Eric Rudolf, the Anthrax Terrorists, the Brooks Brothers riot and many others."

The left isn't so bad...

"In contrast, with the exception of some vandalism at anti-globalization rallies, I can't really see any significant violence on the left, or any sort of broad acceptance of this."

Because, of *course*, the right broadly accepts the actions of...

"...Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, the Order, the Branch Davidian, Eric Rudolf, the Anthrax Terrorists, the Brooks Brothers riot and many others."

So... how about that "God Hates Fags" guy that shows up to soldier's funerals. What side is he representative of? His choice of protest venue mostly resembles Code Pink.

Cathy Young said...

Just wanted to thank all the commenters -- I am on deadline at the moment, but will reply ASAP.

Valdron said...

Do you have any doubt or dispute that the "God Hates Fags" guy is not an extremist right wing fundamentalist Christian, expressing his doctrine aggressively?

And frankly, prominent American right wingers, including legislators, have given this sort of behaviour cover.

Now, with all due respect, Synova, you seem to suffer from the American disease. Your point, so far as I can find one, is that right wing excesses are okay, so long as you can find or allege left wing excesses. This cuts absolutely no ice with me.

Valdron said...

To elaborate on my point on violence:

Timothy McVeigh killed lots of people. The Branch Davidian built an arsenal, planned for the apocalypse and killed people. The Anthrax terrorist killed people. Ted Kaczynski killed people. The Order killed people, robbed banks, and planned for an apocalyptic race war. No one was killed or injured in the Brooks Brothers riot in Florida, but the intent was to threaten and intimidate and this was done with impunity and without significant opposition from the police. Eric Rudolf killed people, and threatened and intimidated many more, he remained at liberty for years with the assistance of those sympathetic to his views.

With respect, do you see a pattern here?

In contrast, the most significant left wing violence has come from scattered incidents of vandalism at anti-globalization demonstrations. These incidents of vandalism appear to be restricted to breaking a few windows at places like McDonalds, spray painting graffiti, and in one peculiar case in Montreal, building a catapult to launch teddy bears. There is no death or personal injury or egregious property damage (such as bombing) occasioned here. The incidents take place as a result of fewer than a hundred and likely fewer than a dozen people at rallies in the tens of thousands.

One might compare these incidents with other sorts of incidents at similar sized gatherings, such as soccer games. One might conclude that while lefties are more violent than quilting bee enthusiasts, they are also far less violent than soccer fans.

Finally, anti-globalization events or demonstrations appear to be met with uniform condemnation, including from most prominent liberals. They are answered by heavy police presence and police tactics, and in fact, most injuries which arise from these events are the result of police handiwork.

Revenant said...

I wonder which lefty blog linked here? The Democratic partisans are coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden.

In this matter, we can cite Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, the Order, the Branch Davidian, Eric Rudolf, the Anthrax Terrorists, the Brooks Brothers riot and many others.

A few minor points:

- Ted Kaczynski is anti-left, but he is also violently anti-capitalism and pro-environmentalism. He's an anarchist, not a right-winger or a left-winger. His beliefs were completely at odds with those of every significant major and minor party in America.

- The Branch Davidians were victims of violence, not perpetrators of it. They were attacked, by the government, for buying guns. It also isn't clear how deserving they are of a "right-wing" label.

- The identity and motives of the Anthrax terrorists is unknown, so labelling them right-wing is dishonest. "Tried to kill Democrats" is not synonymous with "right-wing" -- Lee Harvey Oswald, after all, was a Communist.

- No idea what "the Order" is, besides a bad movie.

- Finally, if the so-called "Brooks Brothers 'riot'" qualifies as an act of violence, most left-wing protests count as acts of violence -- including every rally sponsored by ANSWER, and every single union picket line.

I can't really see any significant violence on the left, or any sort of broad acceptance of this.

There was rioting and vandalism at most of the WTO marches and major anti-war marches. Also, counter-protesters were beaten at several of the marches, too.

Synova said...

I dispute, valdron, that political thought (and action) has only one axis.

This simplistic view of right-left fails entirely to take into account the complexities that the "left" is supposed to be so nuanced about.

Where to anarchists fall on your single axis? How about the bank robbers and social activist "gangs" of the anti-Vietnam era? Manson was trying to bring down the "man" and spur the Negro to rise and defeat the capitalist... you get the picture. Where do those people fall?

What you see as "obvious" I see as infantile and a fantastic example of the way people see their own side in a much more favorable light than their opponents. All you had to do was mention Timothy McVeigh and the others as examples of right wing violence and state that left wing violence isn't "broadly accepted" and you've proved it.

NO ONE on the "right" views conservatism and, oh... survivalist wackos as extensions of the same thing. There is NO acceptance of the sorts of terrorist acts of McVeigh. There may be insistance on the doctrine of freedom of speech (and quite frankly that's supposed to be one the strengths of the "left" so I'm surprised that they are often so selective about what kind of speech deserves to be free) but that isn't acceptance in any way.

I can't say that I take "the American disease" as a slur of any sort. As it is, I'm a Libertarian... less anarchistic than most, but never-the-less *not* Republican. Surely a capitalist.

My view of the verbal nastiness associated with politics is that I think the protestors doth protest too much. Heck, in some countries sessions of government errupt into fist-fights on a reasonably regular basis. Rude, crude, commentary has been a standard of political conversation from the first time human beings could speak.

And quite frankly, it's difficult to be a Libertarian if you've got an overly sensative stomach.

Cathy Young said...

Rev:

Dave Neiwert (Orcinus) has linked here.

By the way, welcome, Orcinus readers. And let me reiterate once again that despite my criticism of Dave's series, I think that he did an excellent job, overall, in his critique of Malkin.

The Navigator said...

Valdron,
Yes, that was precisely my point. If William Brooks thinks that Dean is "unhinged," it's because he's been watching too much Fox News, rather than listening to what Dean actually says, which has been quite sane and sometimes prescient.

And if Mr. Brooks thinks that Tom Delay - who the GOP is presently straining to preserve as their leader, e.g. postponing the House's opening until Jan. 31 in the hope his charges will have been dismissed by then and he can return in glory - is sane and responsible in comparison to Nancy Pelosi, then he is either a fool or a resident of an alternate universe.

Valdron said...

Revenant, I am a Canadian and not a Democratic Partisan. I'm not engaging in your partisan games, I do not have a dog in your fight, I'm simply calling it as I see it.

I'm frankly puzzled by your assertion that Kaczynski (though not McVeigh) was not endorsed by any significant American political viewpoint. This seems to imply that McVeigh's views are endorsed.

You point to the personal and erratic nature of Kaczynski's views to say that he was not part of the right. This seems mischievous on your part, and somewhat dishonest. I would note that McVeigh also held personal and erratic views, particularly with regards to his service in the Gulf War. Yet I never hear anyone suggesting that McVeigh was a big lefty.

Kaczynski's personal philosphy, which he went to considerable time and effort to articulate and promote, stamp him as a form of Libertarian, which in turn places him in the provinces of right wing thought. Kaczynski was arguably a unique and nutty right wing thinker, but at the same time, there's no real argument to be made over his place on the right.

Perhaps you should know a little bit about the subject before you discuss it?

Without belabouring the issue, a few other points:

"The Order" constituted an affiliation of terrorists and gangs and supporters in the United States during the 1980's who were dedicated to the causes of right wing values, constitutional reform, white power, genocide, etc. They robbed several banks and distributed money to their ideological supporters, in exchange for which, they received shelter and aid. They also assassinated talk show host Alan Berg. They also advocated the murder of black men, particularly those sleeping with white women, as well as white women who were race traitors. They stockpiled guns and ammunition, killed people, committed crimes and were, on the whole, bad people. They planned big though - one of their plans was to take over the five states of the northwest United States and declare it a White Republic. Again, it behooves you to know a little bit about your own damned history.

The Branch Davidians - Were not peaceful bucolic farmers. Former members of the Branch Davidian, including rivals to David Koresh, were murdered well prior to Waco. Koresh himself was suspected of molesting children. The Branch Davidian fit all the criteria of a cult, including employing mind control tactics against its members, harvesting their money, interfering in personal lives and relationships and cutting them off from the outside world. They stockpiled large quantities of arms and ammunition and threatened their neighbors with violence. The Bureau of ATF had reasonable and probable cause to investigate the Branch Davidian and there is no issue there. The Branch Davidian responded to a police raid by murdering police officers and undertaking a protacted state of siege. While under siege, they gave voice to an apocalyptic 'end of the world' philosphy that they had previously expressed, which amounted to a license to violence. In sum, they were a pack of dangerous, violent, murderous, child-molesting lunatics who were dedicated to getting killed in pursuit of some hair brained religious mania. Its possible to challenge the Federal Governments handling of the Waco situation. But to laud the Davidians as some sort of martyrs or heroes is simply loony toons thinking, and frankly, I'm not inclined to respect that sort of nonsense.

I could go on with respect to these and other matters, but I think I've made my point.

Now, with all due respect, it helps if you do your homework before you stumble forward.

Tom Hilton said...

But I think Neiwert is overlooking a lot of nastiness of a more genteel variety -- the "Republicans are evil people who want to poison the air and water, starve kids, throw Grandma out on the streets, enslave black people and kick puppies" variety.

Yes, Democrats have often exaggerated and demonized the policies of Republicans. The thing is, Republicans were doing (at least) the same (or does the phrase 'acid, amnesty, and abortion' mean nothing to you?). It's not good, but it is politics--that is, it is within the bounds of what has been considered aceptable for both sides. So to suggest that Democrats were asking for it by being mean to Republicans (who were doing exactly the same to Democrats) is at best absurd and at worst dishonest.

The Navigator said...

My comments were addressed to William Barker, not Brooks. And just to back them up:

"Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills." –Tom DeLay, on causes of the Columbine High School massacre, 1999

"Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." –Tom DeLay, March 12, 2003

Also:
He has been a fervent critic of the EPA, which he has called the "Gestapo of government"

DeLay was accused of stirring up controversy in the wake of a series of high-profile violent crimes and death threats against judges when he said that "the men responsible [for Terri Schiavo's death] will have to answer to their behavior."

Remember, Mr. Barker: House Majority Leader! Reelected by the House GOP repeatedly!

Valdron said...

You are correct in a very limited sense, Synova, and I congratulate you on being aware that the political spectrum contains more dimensions than simple 'left/right' dichotomies.

As one example, I would propose the 'Indians Rights' movement which doesn't fit comfortably anywhere on the continuum.

Your description of Anarchism as being off the continuum is not quite accurate. Anarchism as a political theory and movement is traced back to the writings of Bakunin in the 19th century who came out of the strain of socialist utopian thinkers. Bakunin's version of anarchism advocated an abolition of the concept of property and its replacement with a sort of communal class-free paradise, which bears a great deal of resemblance to Marx's theoretical final stage of communism. The big difference was that Marx saw his ultimate communal utopia as deriving from an evolutionary social progression, and Bakunin thought we could skip all the steps and go there now. Both Marx and Bakunin and other revolutionary thinkers of the time framed their theories as criticisms of market capitalism as it existed then. So there's no question that Bakunin and Anarchism occupies a place on the extreme left.

Anarchism as a fashion statement, I make no comment upon.

As to the various sixties groups, the Weathermen, the SLA, the Black Panthers, the Manson family, you must surely acknowledge that in each of these cases, these groups were founded in very specific criticisms of the dominant culture, and that the nature of their dialectics was decidedly left wing. As a whole, these groups took as their starting points such left wing concepts as rejection of market capitalism, advocacy of civil rights and sexual liberation, acceptance of drugs, etc.

Now, you can argue for instance, that decriminalization of drugs is neither left nor right, but a separate point on the political spectrum, and I suppose you can make the same point with respect to civil rights and issues of black consciousness...

But is there a point? These issues, or opposition to these issues, tends to crystallize quickly in America on a left-right axis. To take native rights, the formal or official left may not be for the series of postions and viewpoints we identify as Indian Rights, but the official right is sure as hell against it.

And with all due respect, Libertianism is not any sort of political philosophy. It's not any kind of philosophy at all. Its a poorly thought out, thoroughly arbitrary, ball of mush not taken seriously outside the tinfoil hat crowd. The basic precept of libertarianism is the world view of a four year old child crudely transplanted into an adult. It's all "I want what I want, wahhhh." Libertarians are people in love with the notion that they can get in their car and drive wherever they want, but outraged by the idea that they might be called upon to help maintain the roads.

With all due respect, and every courtesy, please do not call yourself a Libertarian and expect to be taken seriously.

Pooh said...

Well, the comments certainly prove the post title correct.

I will say that I tend to agree that in terms of expression the right tends to be more violent while the left tends to be snide. I think violence is worse (but then, I am left leaning so of course I would say that...).

As to Cathy's original bit: though I agree with Vadron to an extent (there are qualitative differences to the tactics used by each side), I read the post slightly more generously in that whatever device each side uses, in combination they are completely poisonous to any meaningful middle-ground discussions.

If I'm a pinko, Castroist, baby-killing, proto-fascist gun-banning latte drinker and you are a knuckle-dragging, imperialist, stalinist, racist, nutbar wal-mart shopper, is there any hope that we can find common ground on anything? (Other than that the French suck, of course).

It's a vicious feedback loop that only serves to keep Malkin, Moore, Franken, Coulter, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, [pick a name], etc. in filet mignon. Of course, its easier this way because its comfortable. If we never have to engage in a rational debate of ideas, then we never have to face the uncomfortable fact that we may have been wrong about some small thing all along. (And before you answer "but that won't happen because I'm always correct", well that's just egregiously hubristic, not only unenlightened, but unenlightenable.)

Valdron said...

As an observation, I think that Synova's and Revenant's posts are enlightening in terms of how deeply rooted the problem is.

When challenged, each reaches deeply for partisanship, defending themselves with 'the other guy is bad too, so its all right for me' and then blithely accepting that such an attitude and the moral decay it represents is just 'the way it is, go figure.'

Well, listen up. It's not acceptable, and it is not inevitable. Its a choice that you make, and its neither a mature, nor an honest nor an intelligent choice.

You want some unpleasant advice: Drop the stones you seem so happy to fling at each other, and start cleaning your own houses.

Tom Hilton said...

So it's extremist to praise TailGunner Joe, but not extremist to hobnob with Fidel? I would suggest to Dave Neiwert that Maudelle Shirek's choice of heroes is at least as bad as Steve King's. Maybe even worse.

The easy way to deal with this would be to point out that under the way the House has done business for decades, this would be irrelevant; renaming post offices and the like is simply a matter of ratifying the wishes of the locals.

But I think it's worth engaging the point directly. This is one of those facile comparisons that looks reasonable on its face (Castro = Bad, McCarthy = Bad, therefore Castro = McCarthy), but is really nonsense.

I'm not a fan of Castro, or of Castro admirers. I think lefties who admire Castro (willfully) ignore the repressive nature of his rule; that's a kind of moral blindness, and it's A Bad Thing.

McCarthy, on the other hand, is known solely for his repressive actions; expressing admiration for McCarthy, as Rep. King and Anne Coulter do, is by its nature an expression of support for those actions.

In other words: admiring Castro: foolish, reprehensible, morally obtuse; admiring: McCarthy: despicable. There really is a difference that you're ignoring.

Cathy Young said...

Valdron: first of all, a word of advice... while you're making some good points, if you want to actually get people to listen to you you might want to try addressing them in a less insulting and condescending tone.

(By the way, I assume that your sweeping characterization of libertarianism is based on serious study of Milton Friedman, F.H. Hayek, contemporary libertarian analysis like The Cato Journal ... etc?)

Also: Where on God's green earth did you get the idea that I'm saying anywhere in my post that ugliness, extremism, and "unhinged" behavior are all right because they exist on both sides? Au contraire, I think it's a malignancy that poisons our political discourse by making meaningful dialogue impossible. I wrote about this problem two years ago. Actually, I think it's the conviction on each side that "the other side is worse" that spurs on this vicious cycle of political hate speech. Each side sees its own verbal aggressiveness as justified because, after all, it's only "fighting back."

So actually, I agree with your post of 4:12 p.m. That's exactly the sort of attitude I'm trying to promote.

Synova said...

But Pooh, when the right is snide it's because they are *really* actually violent and mean to take action according to their words. ;-)

It's true that the common ground can't be found when each side is calling the other names, but neither can it be found when one side calmly and oh so sophisticatedly states that their side is respresented by those who think and the other side is not.

The... liveliness... of the conversation isn't what shuts out communication. It's, for instance, declaring that libertarian ideals are taken seriously by no one. Which frankly doesn't hurt my feelings at all but I *know* beyond a shadow of a doubt that valdron is not *open* to any ideas I might express. But then I knew that before he or she made that statement because it just oooozed from his or her first post.

So where is the potential for common ground? It doesn't exist and that non existance has nothing to do with anyone's behavior and everything to do with the attitude that "all right thinking people" see the obvious truth. It is, in fact, defining the opposition as the "other". And it can be done in, oh, the most civilized of inside voices.

Valdron's responses to both of the people who disagreed with him or her was to dismiss our qualifications to have the discussion at all. What difference does it make that no one was calling anyone names?

Valdron said...

Synova, I'm not out to hurt your feelings, I'm just pointing out that Libertarian ideas are not serious. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Libertarianism has two big problems. First, there's no actual historiography for the ideas, no chain of intelligence.


There is no international libertarian movement, merely a provincial little regional know-nothing fringe in certain corners of the United States. Go anywhere but America and announce you are Libertarian, and you might as well announce yourself as a martian.

Now, this is not necessarily fatal to Libertarianism as an idea or a philosophy, but its extremely localized nature is sort of a hint that it is fundamentally a narrow and shallow thing.

This shallowness and narrowness is a recurring thing when we look at Libertarianism in the broad picture. There are no great or even modest Libertarian works of political philosophy, there are no Libertarian critiques or analysis, there is no Libertarian tradition of academic thought, no credible Libertarian academics, journals, debate, platforms, etc.

There's no particular coherent history to Libertarianism, unless you reach back to the 'know-nothing party' of the 19th and early 20th century, or to Ayn Rand's Objectivism cult. And these things do not amount to a coherent intellectual history, but instead merely to a series of eruptive bad ideas of similar character.

Now, that's speaking in broad terms, and I have no special urge to waste my time on a detailed critique of Libertarian ideas, some of which are actually sensible. So I'll continue to speak in broad terms.

For the most part, Libertarian philosophy is inconsistent, arbitrary and poorly thought out. It repeatedly fails to follow through on the consequences of its ideas, and ignores its own contradictions.

You might argue, other philosphies and religions do the same thing. But there is a difference: Religions and Cults operate on faith. Real philosophies constantly wrestle with their consequences and contradictions. Libertarians simply don't think about it a lot. Burying your head in the metaphysical sand is not to be admired.

In the end, Libertarianism is less a coherent philosophy than a fringe cult, a movement composed of two parts denial of reality, three parts selfishness and one part wishful thinking.

Ask yourself this: Why, out of all the teeming billions on this world, why out of hundreds of countries, there is no significant group of people who bother to take Libertarianism seriously, apart from a handful of white middle class types in the United States?

I'm not your enemy, I'm simply not merciful.

As for your other comments.

>Valdron's responses to both of the people who disagreed with him or her was to dismiss our qualifications to have the discussion at all.

Not true. I'm simply not going to coddle anyone. If Revenant takes issue with my characterization of the Order as agents of right wing extremist violence, and then proudly announces he has no idea what the Order is...

Am I supposed to respect his ignorance? Cater to it? Pat him on the head and smile like a parent proud that their child has piddled on the living room floor in front of company? Should I validate his right not to know what he's talking about? Should he be free of the responsibility of being informed?

I don't think so. Because I'm not touchy feely, it's not a touchy feely world, its not about feelings at all, and people who come to the table with nothing but their pride in their weenies to sustain them have earned a thorough spanking.

Revenant proves himself to be painfully uninformed about Ted Kaczynski and the Branch Davidian. Should I award him points for at least knowing those names? Should I accept his egregious errors, his ignorance his misconceptions, because he's at last brought something to the table?

Forget it. One thing I learned early on as a boxer is that you don't lead with your chin, or you'll get it popped and no one will cry for your boo boo.

I have no problem with Revenant or you. But your personal merits, or lack thereof, do not entitle anyone to step into the ring and lead with ignorance.

Reality is unkind and it is quite distinct from fantasy. Facts are very different things from feelings.

You or Revenant may feel that your own feelings, if they are sincerely held, should be respected and treated as equivalent to facts.

It just doesn't work like that.

Revenant said...

I'm frankly puzzled by your assertion that Kaczynski (though not McVeigh) was not endorsed by any significant American political viewpoint. This seems to imply that McVeigh's views are endorsed.

If that's what it implies to you, I suggest you take a course in formal logic. In any case, I didn't comment on whether the people's views were "endorsed" by the right (hint: NONE of them were endorsed by the right), but rather on whether their views could properly be described as "right-wing". McVeigh was definitely right-wing, just as Pol Pot was definitely left-wing; it does not follow that right-wingers endorse terrorism and left-wingers endorse genocide.

In any event, as you're not even an American citizen I see little reason to care what you think of our politics. Your misperceptions of our political environment do make more sense now, though.

Valdron said...

With all due respect, Ms Young, the criticisms that I have levelled at you are on target.

My essential thesis is that in pursuit of some gormless notion of fairness you've misrepresented both facts and logic to arrive at a kind of finding of equivalency, that both sides are the same. Having established that premise, you thereby justify the conduct spoken of as equivalent and therefore unsavoury but legitimate. Your last minute vault to a personal moral high horse does not save you.

Shall we consider a few choice quotes? let's:

>But I think Neiwert is overlooking a lot of nastiness of a more genteel variety -- the "Republicans are evil people who want to poison the air and water, starve kids, throw Grandma out on the streets, enslave black people and kick puppies" variety.

Hmmm. Well, that would certainly be an ugly quote if some liberal had said it. As it was, you are quoting Sean Hannity, who is not a liberal. You are quoting a conservative extremists words demonizing Liberals as intolerant and prejudiced.

This was the best you could find? Do you really think that this represents peoples positions? Attitudes? Or are you simply taking a convenient cheap shot?

I note that you've used David Niewart's name preceding the quote, but you didn't mention Sean Hannity? Were you just sloppy, or was there some effort to give the impression that this quote came from or was endorsed by Niewart? Or making the point that Niewart was giving a pass to the author of the quote, because, you know, he's soft on Liberals?

Or were you simply lazy? I'm perfectly willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on this, and ascribe it to laziness rather than any malice or dishonesty.

But what on the world gives you the idea that I should have any respect whatsoever for your laziness?

And then there is this:

>And let's not forget Michael Moore's 9/11 comment: "Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California -- these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!" Okay, this is not quite the same as saying that people who voted for Bush deserved to die in a fiery conflagration (in the next line, Moore says, "Why kill them? Why kill anyone?"), but the suggestion, you have to admit, is there.

So, let me get this straight: You deliberately misquote Michael Moore by altering his statement, dropping off lines and altering the context. Then, overcome by remorse, you admit and acknowledge that you've misquoted Moore in your next sentence, suppying additional words. Jesus H. Christ on a Crutch! Then having shamed yourself fully, you go on to utter some fooferaw about how, even though Michael Moore didn't actually say what you misquoted him as saying, you get all psychic on us, delve into Moore's inner consciousness, and allow that the 'suggestion is there.' What the hell were you thinking???

I'm sorry, but this is a sort of literary endeavour that I'm more familiar with from kidnappers cutting words out of magazines and gluing them together to make a ransom note.

And it goes on and on. At another point, you seem to draw an equivalence between Bill O'Reilly announcing in the public media his fervent wish that Islamic terrorists would kill hundreds or thousands of San Franciscans, and see as more or less on the same ground, some minor sniggering blogger cattily wishing that Rush Limbaugh went deaf... Honestly, do you really see no quanitative or qualitative difference? Do you really see these things as being on the same planet? What are you thinking?

It seems to me that your quest for equivalence leads you to egregious misstatements, you take an ant and an elephant and pretend that they are the same beast. To what end?

Then there's this gem of yours:

>Or the one in the 2000 presidential campaign in which the daughter of James Byrd Jr., the black Texas man who was deliberately dragged to his death behind a car, said she felt as if her father was killed all over again when Gov. Bush refused to sign the state’s hate crimes law?

So your point being what? That James Byrd Jr. was not black? That he was not dragged to his death behind a car? That it was not done because he was black? That it was not a hate crime? That Governor Bush refused to sign a hate crime law? That this poor woman did not advocate such a law, directly to Bush's face? That in fact she took it as a slap in the face to her father and to minorities who are victimized by hate crimes?

Are you suggesting that it is somehow hateful or immoral or dirty pool to put on the table of public discussion Bush's refusal to endorse a hate crimes law?

Are you saying that this sort of thing is equivalent to Ann Coulter's call for mass murder? Rush Limbaugh demonizing Tom Daschle?

Do you have even the slightest clue?

No, you seem to be too concerned with being fair. So Right Wing transgressions must be balanced out by finding Left Wing transgressions, whether they're proportional, or sensible, whether they're even *honest*.

Your big accomplishment therefore is to muddy the waters, to fill the air with chaff, to reduce perception and judgement, evaluation and analysis to 'they all do it.'

After which you mount your moral high horse. Well, I'm sorry, no moral high ground for you. You've worked too hard to stir up the mud. You are yourself, part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Revenant, I said I was Canadian right at the beginning of my first post, but you seem to have missed that. That sort of tells us the whole story doesn't it? Sloppy, ignorant and proud of it. You do your country such a service.

Pooh said...

Meanwhile, Valdron riding nary a moral horse, condescends to tell us yanks what we're doing wrong.

Seriously though, you want us to agree that Cathy meant what you say she meant rather than what she says she meant? The only equivalence going on is here is her saying that both sides are acting badly. Collectively this is destroying any semblance of rational discourse. Exactly what purpose is served by seeking to dole out precise measures of blame, especially when this very effort drives a further wedge?

Interestingly, in blowtorching us with your own version of 'hard facts' (which, to be fair, contains more than a kernel of truth), you are engaging in just the same rhetorical brickbats you decry. You say we respond defensively when attacked, and then provoke that response by attacking. If you want us to listen you can be civil. If you don't care about our listening then you are simply talking to hear your own voice and not worth listening to - another ass braying in the yard. Welcome.

Revenant said...

Yeah, Revenant, I said I was Canadian right at the beginning of my first post, but you seem to have missed that. That sort of tells us the whole story doesn't it? Sloppy, ignorant and proud of it.

I did indeed miss your mention of being Canadian. Sloppy? Perhaps. But given your situation -- having posted amusingly innaccurate list of "right-wingers" allegedly "endorsed" by conservatives, and having displayed an impressive lack of knowledge of the country you're discussing -- I would, were I you, hesitate to refer to others as "sloppy, ignorant, and proud of it".

Valdron said...

Hi Pooh,

>Meanwhile, Valdron riding nary a moral horse,

Well, my country doesn't torture people, if that's what your driving at.

>condescends to tell us yanks what we're doing wrong.

And what's wrong with that. You yanks are fond of telling the rest of the world what its doing wrong. Isn't that why you are in Iraq and Afghanistan, reading the riot act to Syria, Egypt, France, etc.? Nothing wrong with that, except that it runs both ways... America has a legitimate right to criticize other nations. I have a legitimate right to criticize America. I have the advantage of being informed.

Now, as to what Cathy has said or has not said, I've done her the honour of quoting her. If in fact she has intended to say or intend other than what she actually said, well, she can certainly clarify. Neither you nor I have any obligation than to take her words at their face.

As for my approach, I feel no need to show bad arguments or ideas courtesy and respect. People may be entitled to courtesy, but opinions are not.

I respect your view that I'm harsh and provocative. On the other hand, I'm not the one who brayed proudly:

>- No idea what "the Order" is, besides a bad movie.

Nor pontificated on Ted Kaczynski's philosophy and politics, without apparently bothering to read anything of Mr. Kaczynski's writings or actual ideas.

Nor did I make the mistake of painting the Branch Davidians of innocent victims of a rapacious government.

Note that the person who pulled these boners has not bothered to defend the Davidians, explain the Order or discuss Mr. Kaczynski.

Instead, he's simply retreated. After first denouncing me as a Partisan Democrat and found that doesn't wash, he now dismisses me as a foreigner.

I presume he accepts his mother as an authority on something or other, but would hesitate to speculate.

Ultimately Pooh, I think your objection to me is that I'm mean. This hardly raises a ripple in American discourse of course. The real objection is that I'm smart and mean.

I'm sorry. There is an illusion by the left in America that civil discussion seems to consist of kissing ass. And there is an illusion by the right in America that civil discussion seems to consist of the left kissing the rights ass while the right takes a big poop.

I subscribe to neither illusion. I'm not very tolerant of illusions. And I'm not tolerant of fools.

So, accept my apologies, but I am what I am.

Valdron said...

>I did indeed miss your mention of being Canadian. Sloppy? Perhaps.

If not sloppy, then what? Illiterate? Lazy? I'm curious as to how you justify this lapse of yours?

>displayed an impressive lack of knowledge of the country you're discussing --

This from a man who didn't know what the Order was, hardly ancient history? Or who had no clue as to the Branch Davidians? I'm happy to say that there is amusement all around, my friend.

Cathy Young said...

First, in response to a few earlier posts.

Matt: As I've said before, I think that as a corrective to Malkin's screed, Dave Neiwert's series is excellent. And no, I certainly don't think that he had any obligation to give equal time in his series to left-wing nastiness. What I take issue with is his assertion that (1) right-wing nastiness is substantially worse and (2) left-wing nastiness is primarily reactive.

dswift: Yes, I read about Rush's ugly comments about the Christian peace activists. But you're wrong if you think it has no right-wing equivalent. Remember Markos Moulitsas' comment about how the US contractors who were killed by a mob in Fallujah got what they deserved?

iain bason: Ward Churchill referred to the victims of 9/11 as "Little Eichmanns." He has also advocated the killing of U.S. officers by enlisted men ("fragging"). So please let's not make Mr. Churchill into some kind of misunderstood martyr here.


William Barker:

Sorry, but I think Tom Delay (who, among other things, claimed that Terri Schiavo is "as alive as you or I") meets the definition of "unhinged" far more than Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi.

Josh Jasper: Whatever you think of Johnson's comments, it concerned waging war on another country (one heavily involved in sponsoring terrorism), not eliminating political opponents at home.

Shoeless: I haven't seen any examples of "eliminationist" rhetoric (again, toward domestic political opponents) coming from elected representatives, only from media figures. By the way, Dave Neiwert uses the term to encompass not only the physical destruction of political opponents but their deportation or detention. When you start talking about denying a group of people the right to vote, it seems to me that it's not that huge a leap to other measures.

Valdron: to be honest, I have better things to do with my time than to reply to your lengthy, rude and obnoxious rants. You obviously have no desire to engage in dialogue with anyone, only to impress us with your superior wisdom.

In the meantime, you show yourself to be appallingly ignorant about libertarianism, which has its antecedents in the work of non-American philosophers such as Frederic Bastiat. Free-market philosophers (basically libertarian) economists have won several Nobel Prizes for economics. Noted libertarian academics include Robert Nozick, widely viewed as one of the major philosophers of the late 20th Century.

And that's not the only instance in which you're display some serious ignorance. For instance, on the subject of Ted Kaczynski, it's clear as day that Revenant is right and you're wrong. Kaczynski's rhetoric was classic far-left environmentalism; I recall a number of people noting, when his "manifesto" was published, that some of its passages could have come straight from Al Gore's Earth in the Balance. As for the Branch Davidians, I don't really see them as fitting anywhere on a left or right spectrum. To tag them as "rigth-wing" is a bit like tagging urban gangs like the Crips and the Bloods as "left-wing."

Just looked up some information on "The Order." It was a group in the 1980s that robbed banks to finance anti-government activities. What on earth does it have to do with the right? One might as well cite the Weathermen and the Black Panthers as examples of the left. By the way, the left has a long history of advocating violent revolution, and one can still find examples of such advocacy -- e.g. Lynn Stewart, the lawyer convicted of conspiring with her terrorist clients, who openly sympathizes with the jihadists as a revolutionary movement that will overthrow American imperialism and capitalism. A marginal figure? Stewart has been treated as a heroine at antiwar rallies, and has been praised by Cindy Sheehan.

You say that my summary of a "standard" liberal view of Republicans as "evil people who want to poison the air and water, starve kids, throw Grandma out on the streets, enslave black people and kick puppies" is based on Sean Hannity's caricature, and presumably not held by any actual liberals. Well, right here in this thread, we have "pinko punko" saying that he finds this to be an accurate description of Republicans.

Re the James Byrd: If you think it's acceptable to portray Bush as lynching James Byrd all over again because he didn't sign the hate crimes law (even though, IIRC, he approved the execution of Byrd's murderers), I don't think you should be complaining about viciousness in politics.

By the way, pooh, your summary of what I was trying to say here is spot-on.

Valdron said...

That's a rather dishonest summation of the Order, don't you think, Cathy?

But then, par for the course, isn't it?

Valdron said...

And for the record, life is just too short to take Libertarianism seriously. No matter how you dress it up, its just tinfoil hat stuff and we all know it.

Steve J. said...

who do you think better deserved the moniker "unhinged," Dean or RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman?

Mehlman by several lengths:

MEHLMAN: "The NAACP unfortunately in the 2000 campaign likened the president to James Byrd, who was a racist killer in east Texas, who the president brought to justice."
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0507/17/le.01.html

1) The NAACP did not do that
2)Byrd was the victim!

Revenant said...

If not sloppy, then what? Illiterate? Lazy? I'm curious as to how you justify this lapse of yours?

As I noted, there's been plenty of sloppiness in this forum, no small part of it your own.

But the simple answer to your question is that I skimmed your post, dismissed most of it as the usual forum trolling, and replied to the bit that interested me. Lazy? Hm. "Effective time management" is perhaps the best term.

So, accept my apologies, but I am what I am.

Hm. What you appear to be is "unworthy of my further attention", and there's no need to apologize for drawing my attention to that fact.

Cathy Young said...

Valdron -- believe it or not, it was the first description of the group that I came across. After a subsequent search I found out that "The Order" was the white supremacist group that killed radio talk Alan Berg.

Well, guess what. As I recall, they were not widely known by that name. Usually there were references to "Aryan Nations," the group that "The Order" was affiliated with.

Maybe if you had taken the trouble to provide a couple of details instead of jumping to accuse people of ignorance or dishonesty, we would have been able to have a normal conversation here. But of course you're not interested in that, are you?

I notice that you didn't bother to respond to any of my other points, except to reiterate your ignorant characterization of libertarianism and to insist that you will continue to make sweeping and contemtptuous dismissals of its ideas because "life is too short" to find out anything about it.

Personally, I think life is too short to read your rants.

beAzl said...

Cathy,

How you can catalog such bad behavior on the left and right, without dwelling on which side is more evil, and still get up in the morning with a smile on your icon, is truly awe inspiring. If you are feeling politically homeless, I for one think 98% of Americans, the silent and quiet types, agree with you.

What valdron may not realize is that, at this moment in history, libertarian-minded Americans are a significant block of swing voters. Many of us (you are one of them, no?) voted one way in 2000 and the other way in 2004. I doubt very much that lawyers are taught that the best way to win a jury over to their side is to insult them. Or maybe valdron is a clever right-winger, out to make the left look bad? Who knows? Who cares?

Anyway, keep up the excellent posts.

Cathy Young said...

beAzl -- yes, you're correct.

I'll add more on this topic later, probably in another post.

Shoeless said...

Cathy,

I appreciate your response.

You've staked out your territory and you are obviously not going to budge an inch from it. There is, according to your stance, an equivalence to the nastiness (eliminationist rhetoric and acts) from both sides of the right-left divide.

It is interesting, however, that both Pooh and you also take forms of the "can't we all just get along?" position and seem more anxious to fall back on that altruism than to engage the actual argument, whose goalposts it seems you've now subtly moved several times.

But, in the end, Ward Churchill is not equal to Rush Limbaugh, because Ward Churchill doesn't have the "reach" (influence) that Rush Limbaugh does. For that matter, Garrison Keillor

(whose "deny the vote" position I most decidedly do not agree is
"not that huge a leap to other measures" because then I'm also forced to conclude that you would agree that every elected official of the Republican party who advocates that ex-felons or people without a government-issued photo-ID be denied the vote is actually not all that far from desiring their elimination)

does not have the reach that Rush Limbaugh does. I think that is a fair proxy for the whole debate you've raised.

But let's say you are correct and that the levels of "eliminationism" being advocated are fundamentally the same on both sides of the right/left divide. Now, let's do one of those fancy thought experiments: a cui bono analysis.

Which side would stand to lose more if they unilaterally "disarmed" by ratcheting back on their own level of nastiness through whatever means of "self-policing" they chose (remember this is just a thought experiment, so we don't actually have to believe there is such a mechanism)?

I maintain that the right benefits more by assuming eliminationist postures than the left does from their own.

It follows that the the left would lose less by going first in the unilateral disarmament game, but, perversely, they would lose more in the end, I think, because the right wouldnever reciprocate.

Eliminationist rhetoric is a money-maker when used by the right and a money-loser when used by the left. When Malkin and Limbaugh and Bill O-Reilly indulge, money flows in their direction. When Ward Churchill and, if you insist, Garrison Keillor do so, net money again flows towards the right.

And no, I don't have data. But do you think this conclusion is so totally foreign?

Pooh said...

Shoeless,

We can argue about who's worse, but who cares? While I tend to agree with your analysis, so what? The debate is still poisoned and will continue to be until both sides stop fallaciously ad hominizing. When you got into a fight at school, how good of a defense was "he started it?"

So if that qualifies as "can't we all get along", so be it. (and, what the hell is wrong with getting along, which implies getting things done which manifestly need doing? Underlying the point is that there are bigger fish to fry than proclaiming who is the biggest jerk between Ward Churchill, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Moore and Ann Coulter.)

Cathy Young said...

Shoeless:

You've staked out your territory and you are obviously not going to budge an inch from it.

Don't leap to conclusions. *G* I'm thinking through another post on the issue.

Cathy Young said...

And pooh, excellent point.

Shoeless said...

Pooh, I care because I'm realistic enough to recognize that "can't we all just get along" is a kindergarten stance, not an adult, real-world one.

What good does it do to be correct (after all, we should drop those stones and clean our own houses as you said) but never listened to?

So, in the real world that I live in, I would say that the left should continue to take on the Cathys who maintain falsely that the right and left are equally guilty of advocating eliminationism, because, as you say, it's not true and therefore, to not complain and not point it out and not go after those who advocate it and support it is to commit slow suicide.

Shoeless said...

That last before I saw your comment about thinking it through another time, Cathy.

And no offense intended, at any time.

Valdron said...

With all due respect to Libertarians, I really have nothing invested.

It's one of those wacky American cult things that comes out of the lunatic fringes, like the Moonies, or the John Birch society. While it may be hurtful to hear this, that's just the way it is.

No one outside the United States considers it as anything more or less than some cult-like provincial wackiness.

Libertarianism simply doesn't travel well.

Anonymous said...

Valdron, although not germane to your thesis, honesty compels us to note that there is some leftist crime against property. The obvious examples appear driven by environmentalist or animal rights issues.

Synova said...

I'd like to make a suggestion, and that is that perhaps our perceptions of the behavior of outspoken people is based more on the strength of our visceral reaction than to what they've actually said.

To take a non-political example... I was flipping past something or other and the commentator shows a clip about dogs being used for dangerous work in England, work where the dog may likely end up shot by the bad guys, and the USian commentator says how glad he is that *we* aren't doing such a cowardly thing. I don't think that was nasty, but I think it's morally vacant in an incredible way. My reaction was a gut level revulsion. I could judge the behavior of that commenter by my reaction but that would be wrong. Sure, calling people who figure a dogs life is more expendable than a human beings life "cowards" isn't very nice, but using nicer words wouldn't have changed my reaction.

No doubt some people watching were in utter agreement. I'm pretty sure they didn't react to the word "coward" as name-calling at all, even though it is.

Sure, Malkin tends to be a bit "unhinged" from time to time but the perception of just *how* unhinged probably depends quite a bit on whether an individual's reaction to _Internment_ is disagreement or nausea.

Shoeless said...

With all due respect to Libertarians, I really have nothing invested.

With all due respect, someone who did a smattering of writing once pointed out quite correctly that the more times one make this type of protest the more one's interlocutors are apt to conclude the precise opposite of what you say.

I'm now leaning towards "invested up to the chin and treading heavily." What say anyone else?

Pooh said...

Shoeless, way to willfully miss my point. I am not (and I don't think Cathy is), saying both are equally bad, I'm saying both act badly, and to a degree that both have to stop.

But by all means keep pointing fingers, you will certainly be listened to(/sarcasm). Interesting that you should describe my stance as that of a young child, since the underlying point is that partisans of both wings are acting in a juvenile fashion. Sure maybe someone should be suspended longer, but we still can't put on the school play tommorow without everyone present.

Do you feel better having knocked down my straw-effigy?

Shoeless said...

It's one of those wacky American cult things that comes out of the lunatic fringes, like the Moonies, or the John Birch society. While it may be hurtful to hear this, that's just the way it is.

This from our good Canadian friend reminds me of something that happened to me recently.

I was, as I am wont to do, playing Texas Holdem' and I was just having a bad time of it with the guy across the table from me. Every hand I show down with what I thought was the winner, and every time he'd throw down a better hand. And each time, he look at me with a wee wince and say "sorry."

I'd have a pair, he had two pair, I had two pair, he had trips, I had a full house and he comes up with 4 queens!

Didn't matter what I'd have, he'd do me one better and then apologize with that look of faux compassion.

And then comes the hand where I look at my hole cards and I've got the big boys, the pocket rockets, two aces. And the flop comes down with their twins and I've got four of these bad boys and I know this time I'm the one whose going to have to be "sorry."

And I bet all in and I throw down those demons and start to rake em up and he sheepishly turns over his straight flush and says "sorry."

So I shot him.

[/satire]

Shoeless said...

Pooh,

How about I acknowledge being condescending while you acknowledge I also said you were correct, even if I continue to disagree with what you want us to do with your wisdom?

How about you also go back and review EVERYTHING Cathy has said in THIS THREAD and tell me where she isn't claiming equivalency.

Not you, but she certainly has.

Is that a full-bodied enough target, then?

Shoeless said...

In addition, how about I apologize for having been condescending and offending you.

I do apologize.

Pooh said...

Fair enough. We could start our own thread: Unhinged, left and center.

Shoeless said...

We could start our own thread: Unhinged, left and center.

LOL, true! It probably could apply to me alone, unhinged, left and center.

BTW, my little poker satire above is, obviously, eliminationist rhetoric. So, I am not advancing the bar by much, if at all.

Can I apply for the Coulter/O'Reilly/Limbaugh "jus' kiddin' with that hate speech" pass?

Revenant said...

So, in the real world that I live in, I would say that the left should continue to take on the Cathys who maintain falsely that the right and left are equally guilty of advocating eliminationism

I assume you mean the American right and left? Because while I'm not sure who is more rhetorically guilty, it seems worth pointing out that, at the international left, body count of left-wing genocide and wars is several times higher than that of right-wing genocide and wars.

Within the United States itself, there is no significant eliminationist rhetoric on either side. Counting which side is more guilty of it is silly for two reasons -- first, because neither side is, as a side, guilty of it (as such sentiments are a part of neither side's core ideology and are not tolerated by the leaders of either side), and secondly because it inevitably bogs down into arguments about which people in which contexts qualify as "significant".

Pooh said...

He slow-rolled you with a SF? He deserved to be shot...

Shoeless said...

I assume you mean the American right and left?

Yes. What else have we been discussing but that?

Within the United States itself, there is no significant eliminationist rhetoric on either side.

That's a loaded statement, but you are going to use "significant" as your out and I'm not going to let you get away with it. There most certainly is this type of rhetoric.

You may be unfamiliar with Niewart's work, which is what started this whole kerfluffle, but a central thesis of his is that hate speech starts on the fringes and if it is unchallenged, it becomes more acceptable in the peoples' eyes, and it begins to bleed/move towards being acceptable in wider and wider circles.

He has traced the arc of what is considered "acceptable speech" from fringe groups on the right towards more and more "mainstream" adherents. You need to understand: I don't really think the O'Reilly's, the Limbaughs, the Coulters, the Malkin's actually believe in eliminating groups of people they disagree with. I cannot peer into their souls, but I do not believe that is actually how they think. But I do know this...they have found it acceptable to talk as if they feel that way. And after it became acceptable, it became convenient. And then it became profitable.

Seven years ago, can you imagine Bill O'Reilly actually saying on a TV show that an entire American city should be attacked and its citizens killed? Well, now it's seven years later and he has done exactly that. He may not mean it, he may have indeed been joking (it was not a very persuasive joke), but he said it and I believe he wanted a least some people to think he meant it. And as Niewart point out, more and more people are inclined to think he did mean it and to act on it. Is he responsible for their actions if they go out and plant a bomb in front of an abortion clinic or a mosque? Legally, of course, no. Morally, well that gets tougher and tougher to absolve someone like O'Reilly.

Counting which side is more guilty of it is silly for two reasons -- first, because neither side is, as a side, guilty of it (as such sentiments are a part of neither side's core ideology and are not tolerated by the leaders of either side), and secondly because it inevitably bogs down into arguments about which people in which contexts qualify as "significant".

It's silly, I agree, but it's because you don't like the outcome of an honest analysis.

I agree that "eliminationism" is not a core value of either side, but I maintain it has been seeping, by lack of effective challenge, into the outer consciousness of the right's thinking. I disagree that discussions of which people can be considered "significant" sinners are necessarily unfruitful.

There is much to be gained from not staying quiet on this. There is the world to lose by being silent.

Shoeless said...

Pooh said...

He slow-rolled you with a SF? He deserved to be shot...


Now if I could only get the DA to see it that way. Are you a lawyer by any chance?

Anonymous said...

This false equivalence just up and screamed at me, like a rabid moonbat;

"So it's extremist to praise TailGunner Joe, but not extremist to hobnob with Fidel?"

Huh? Hobnob (i.e. meet) = Praise?

Lady, what is wrong with you?

Cathy Young said...

anonymous, if you see no moral problems with being Fidel Castro's dinner guest and if you think that Maudelle Shirek met with Castro while regarding him as an evil dictator, that's your problem.

Is anyone really going to deny that there exists a significant Castro-worshipping contingent on the left? Geez, Damien Cave did a piece about it in The Washington Monthly (hardly a right-wing rag) a couple of years ago. Get a clue.

Pooh said...

Shoeless,

Sadly yes, but I got nothin for you on this one...

Shoeless said...

Cathy,

Thank you for the link to your earlier article, which I had not read before. It is well-written. And I agree with your response to Anon.

I am interested, it is more than two years later, and you are making much the same complaint about both sides playing mean, sometimes one more than the other, but always within hailing distance of each other.

But you really haven't offered a solution. Other than saying "come on, guys, play nice" you haven't done anything. I'm actually asking you to use the extra two years you've had to think about this to lay out a plan, you can call it a 3-point or 4-point or however-many-point plan, but it would be nice to see some specifics, and no wrist-twisted platitudes.

Perhaps in that new post you were contemplating? It would be of more use to me than actually getting you to acknowledge a substantive difference between the two sides' bad talk. I'm just enough like Pooh to say I'd actually prefer a real solution to more of the same from either side. I also think you'd find Niewart agreeing.

Shoeless said...

Pooh, thanks all the same. The jury voted for acquittal, from the jury box, before either side opened.

When the prosecution protested, "But your Honor, we haven't even had opening arguments," the Judge replied, "Your point being?"

He, the jury and I all had a good laugh about that. Frontier law, frontier justice. That's Ohio for you.

Pooh said...

Shoeless,

Try this for a start. It won't do much for the blowhard-talking head types, but they take some of their cues from the behavior of the pols anyway.

Shoeless said...

Good link, Pooh. I agree with Ornstein.

I know my local congresscritter personally, and often see them locally on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays, not to mention the weekend.

The only day of the week I never see the person is Wednesday.

Conclusions?

(Of course, wags would say that the less our congresscritters are in session, the better, but I agree with Ornstein, and, apparently, you that more time spent in proximity to each other and not just with we the constituents would make for more civility out of necessity.)

Got any more?

Pooh said...

I'm partial to "question time" or something thereabouts. (Of course that could lead to grandstanding, but my thought is it would like bad to moderates of all stripes to beat up on somebody who was attempting to be, at the least, civil.)

Of course, another possible solution would be the emergence of a bona-fide middle of the road 3rd party. Which presents interesting issues, as bipolar systems are inherently more stable than multipolar. I'm haven't thought it through enough to say whether that would be a net positve or not. It would certainly allow people on outlet if they become too disgusted with the lunatic fringe of one party or the other. Where is a social conservative who can't stand the far-far-right to go? And vice versa.

Anonymous said...

"if you think that Maudelle Shirek met with Castro while regarding him as an evil dictator, that's your problem."

Are those the only options? Praise him, or consider him an evil dictator? Isn't dialogue better than either? I don't know what was in Ms Shirek's mind, and if you think you do, that's your problem.

dubiousraves said...

There really is no equivalency, despite occasional leftwing silliness. Ask yourself this:

Who on the left is the equivalent of?:

-- Neo-nazi white supremacists
-- Rush Limbaugh
-- Sean Hannity
-- Jerry Falwell
-- Pat Robertson
-- Ann Coulter
-- James Dobson
-- Michael Savage
-- Dick Cheney
-- John Bolton
-- Tom Coburn
-- William Bennett
-- Kenneth Tomlinson
-- Creationists
-- Intelligent Design proponents

Etc. Etc.

Revenant said...

That's a loaded statement, but you are going to use "significant" as your out and I'm not going to let you get away with it.

Pardon me, but it was the "the right is more evil" side of this argument that first brought up "significance" by complaining that people like Ward Churchill weren't the equal of a Limbaugh or a Coulter. You can't have it both ways.

He has traced the arc of what is considered "acceptable speech" from fringe groups on the right towards more and more "mainstream" adherents

If I had a dollar for every left-winger who "proved" that the right was worse and every right-winger who "proved" that the left was worse, it would add up to almost enough money to pay me to care.

Revenant said...

Who on the left is the equivalent of?:
-- Neo-nazi white supremacists
-- Rush Limbaugh
-- Sean Hannity
-- Jerry Falwell
-- Pat Robertson
-- Ann Coulter
-- James Dobson
-- Michael Savage
-- Dick Cheney
-- John Bolton
-- Tom Coburn
-- William Bennett
-- Kenneth Tomlinson


Oooh, a matching game! I want to play.

-- The Nation of Islam and MECHA.
-- Michael Moore
-- James Carville
-- Louis Farakhan
-- Al Sharpton
-- Ted Rall
-- George Soros
-- Bill Maher
-- Al Gore
-- Madeleine Albright
-- Ted Kennedy
-- Janet Reno
-- Arthur Sulzberger

For the last bit:
Creationists
Intelligent Design proponents

Those are the same thing. The left-wing equivalents would be anti-GM activists, as well as feminists who claim there are no inherent gender-based mental traits in humans.

Pooh said...

If I had a dollar for every left-winger who "proved" that the right was worse and every right-winger who "proved" that the left was worse, it would add up to almost enough money to pay me to care.

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I'm coming to this late, but as a Canadian with no dog in your fight either, I wanted to point out that Valdron is clearly suffering from the Canadian disease: the national inferiority complex that leads to everyone in this country adopting a smug "we are all so morally/intellectually/socially superior to those rubes in the States." You may think Valdron is being uncommonly rude, pretentious, and elitist, but I assure you that for a Canadian talking to Americans, s/he is about par for the course.

~DogRiverDan

dubiousraves said...

Nice try revenant. Lemme break it down for ya:

-- -- The Nation of Islam and MECHA.
Organizations or marginal influence that support the advancement of black and latinos, and that do not call for the murder or expulsion of the entire white race.
-- Michael Moore
Critic of the Bush admin who exposes corporate motivations behind the war effort and exposes chickenhawk hypocrisy.
-- James Carville
Loudmouth dem operative.
-- Louis Farakhan
See first item. Has insulted jews.
-- Al Sharpton
Harmless huckster and shill for Republican kingmakers.
-- Ted Rall
Borderline offensive cartoonist running in weekly rags.
-- George Soros
Big Money supporter of Dem causes.
-- Bill Maher
Caustic mainstream left comic and satirist.
-- Al Gore
Standard-issue pol.
-- Madeleine Albright
Standard-issue pol.
-- Ted Kennedy
Reliable liberal.
-- Janet Reno
Ineffectual DA, responsible for Ken Starr.
-- Arthur Sulzberger
Publisher of mainstream newspaper that pushed phony evidence for iraq war.

Now to the other list:
-- Neo-nazi white supremacists
Call for killing or deporting non-whites and jews.
-- Rush Limbaugh
Believes torture of prisoners is just harmless letting off steam. Lies daily to audience of millions.
-- Sean Hannity
Doesn't believe Kerry fought in vietnam. Lies daily to audience of millions.
-- Jerry Falwell
Believe gays responsible for 9/11.
-- Pat Robertson
Ditto, and says god will abandon town that voted out creationists on schoolboard.
-- Ann Coulter
Calls for execution of liberals and muslims.
-- James Dobson
Hates all gays.
-- Michael Savage
Equates Clinton book with Mein Kampf, believes illegal immigrants shit all over America.
-- Dick Cheney
"Last throes," "never met John Edwards," "Iraq has nukes."
-- John Bolton
Mocks agency he represents; ignored N. Korea nuke buildup.
-- Tom Coburn
Senator who believes abortion doctors should be executed.
-- William Bennett
Former official who thinks blacks responsible for crime.
-- Kenneth Tomlinson
Tried to force Wall St. Journal editorial page on PBS.

OK, your turn. Be specific, now.

Cathy Young said...

Yeah, well -- I assume that if we were talking about a conservative who had dinner with Pinochet, we wouldn't be seeing the same questions.

By the way, not to make this about Maudelle Shirek, but according to this history of Berkeley in the 1970s (see this chapter, Shirek was one of the leaders of the campaign of Communist Party candidate Mark Allen for the Berkeley City Council.

Which is actually, kind of, party of my point. Because if we're talking about the acceptability of extremism, let's talk about the fact that a lot of liberals don't regard Communist Party affiliation as something shameful.

Cathy Young said...

David, I don't really have the time to play the matching game, but if you see the Nation of Islam as an innocuous group that calls for the advancement of black people, you're, um, not offering a very reality-based viewpoint here.

Check out some Farrakhan quotes here and here.

The Nation of Islam is characterized as a "hate group" by the Anti-Defamation League.

Synova said...

-- John Bolton
Mocks agency he represents; ignored N. Korea nuke buildup.

Just a nit... John Bolton doesn't represent the UN, he represents the US.

Reading the list was interesting though... It's amazing how influential all the righties are and how you've uplayed their views while downplaying the lefties influence and moderating their views... I mean, com'on, Ted Rall is only borderline offensive? How do you figure? Because he doesn't offend *you*?

I was going to say about the elimination "thing". I think it really comes down to what a person wants to think that the other side believes.

Take the issue of banning military recruiters from schools... is it hoping for people to die to point out, no matter how badly, that some one needs to serve in order to keep us safe from the bad guys out there and that, essentially, those people have every intention of continuing to take advantage of the safety provided them by the military even while they try to keep the military from getting the recruits that it needs. Is this fair? Why should people unwilling to contribute to their own safety be kept safe?

Pooh said...

Synova,

Take the issue of banning military recruiters from schools... is it hoping for people to die to point out, no matter how badly, that some one needs to serve in order to keep us safe from the bad guys out there and that, essentially, those people have every intention of continuing to take advantage of the safety provided them by the military even while they try to keep the military from getting the recruits that it needs. Is this fair? Why should people unwilling to contribute to their own safety be kept safe?

Huh? I'm sure you have a point to make, I just can't really tell what. If you are arguing that supporting FAIR in FAIR v. Rumsfeld is 'eliminationist rhetoric' then you are strecthing well past the breaking point. If that's not your point please clarify.

David, interesting lists. Who cares?

Cathy Young said...

I think what Synova means is that when O'Reilly made his "we're going to tell Al Qaeda every city is off-limits except San Francisco" comment, he was not calling for the extermination of San Franciscans so much as making the point that if you're not going to support the military, don't ask for its protection.

And I do think that was his point, though of course he chose a horrible way to make it.

Synova said...

I can't stand to watch O'Reilly, actually. Like Rush, it's not always what he says but how he always says it.

But yes, I was talking about high schools.

Having served, I find the implication that those who may enlist are dupes who need protection from their own free will to be personally insulting. Among other things.

Revenant said...

Nice try revenant. Lemme break it down for ya:

[completely subjective analysis, snipped]

You could have just said "I like left-wingers better" and saved yourself a lot of typing. :)

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, well -- I assume that if we were talking about a conservative who had dinner with Pinochet, we wouldn't be seeing the same questions."

Exactly. We don't. Pinochet's pals get a free pass.

Only in the States is membership in the Communist Party considered shameful. You have no idea how weird the rest of the world thinks the US is.

Cathy Young said...

Only in the States is membership in the Communist Party considered shameful. You have no idea how weird the rest of the world thinks the US is.

Well, if that's true, so much the worse for the rest of the world, considering that communism was, in terms of sheer numbers, the 20th Century's most murderous ideology.

You might want to check out the book Koba the Dread, by British writer Martin Amis, for a good discussion of the topic. Amis has a good deal to say about the morally bankrupt attitude of so-called progressives who think there's nothing shameful about communist affiliations.

(By the way, you might keep in mind that the Communist Party USA was not like the "Eurocommunist" parties of, say, France and Italy, which repudicated the Soviet model decades ago; it was a fully owned and operated subsidiary of the Soviet regime.)

Anonymous said...

Ms Young, my family suffered enormously under the Soviet regime, so no lectures needed. You are once again making false equivalences, i.e. "membership in the Communist Party"="Condoning all things done in the name of Communism". My personal view is that Communism is a wonderful idea that is horribly naive about human nature. Like Libertarianism in it's various forms. Unlike modern US Republicanism, however, the ideology itself is not inherently evil.

Anonymous said...

My bad. I should not have used the word "Republican" in the last post. I was groping for whatever word describes the "ideology" which drives the Bush Administration.

My apologies to real Republicans.

Anonymous said...

DogRiverDan is essentially correct. Valdron says "Speaking as a Canadian, I can say that I have no dog in this fight."

There are indeed Canadians who care not a whit, and there are Canadians who define themselves by a vicious anti-Americanism. Making the claim that a Canadian is automatically disinterested is, um, disingenuous.

The rest of Valdron's posts should be read with that in mind.

RGT

Synova said...

The "right" certainly does get criticized for making the friendly with oppressive foreign leaders. Though usually that's our president holding hands with the Saudi fella or something. (Which seems a bit like his job after all.)

Davide Duke just went over and visited someone or other who opposes Israel. But he gets criticized from *everyone*. What conservative equivalent is there to all the trendy lefties hanging out with Castro?

Anonymous said...

RGT and DogRiverDan; also speaking as a Canadian, I'd like to make the following points;

1) Most Canadians I know are neither disinterested nor viciously anti-American. Unless by "viciously anti-American" you mean "critical".

2) One tries, but it is hard not to be smug living next door to the USA. Really, if they weren't so dangerous, we'd be laughing. Politely.

3) "The Left" in the USA corresponds to the centre-right just about anywhere else, while "The Right" corresponds to those poor people walking down the road screaming obscenities.

4) Sure, there are Canadians who have a national inferiority complex. These are the (mostly male) people who think George Bush really is a macho, manly man.

Cathy Young said...

Anonymous (9:40 and 10:32 a.m.):

A "noble" ideology that ignores human nature is evil, because it's going to seek to remake human nature by force in order to achieve its "noble" goals (and all in the absolute conviction that it's doing something noble).

In any case, we are not talking about allegiance to some abstract communist ideal. We're talking about a left-wing activist who had a friendly dinner with a real-life Fidel Castro and made friendly visits to a number of Soviet-bloc countries prior to the collapse of communism.

If you think such politics should not be stigmatized -- well, again, that's your problem.

It's interesting that we're discussing left-wing extremism on this thread, and here you are saying that the ideology of the Bush White House is more evil than communism. That's pretty "unhinged" if you ask me. But that's just me, of course.

Anonymous said...

Synova, just out of curiosity, what do you know of Castro or the regime he overturned? I'm not saying he's a good guy (there's a wonderful film called "Before Night Falls" that touches on some of his awfulness), but one gets the feeling that he is a bit over-demonized in The States.

Untrendy liberal

Anonymous said...

Ms Young, I don't think any ideals which strive to better our condition should be stigmatized, no matter which part of the political spectrum they come from. They should certainly be exposed, and learnt from, by the crucible of history, as Soviet and Maoist Communism have been.

I did not say, nor would I say, that the Bush Admin is more evil than historic communist regimes. I was discussing the ideals that each is powered by. Stalin and Mao were evil, but their supposed ideological father, Marx, was not. When you view the last 5 years in the USA - Iraq, the environment, tax breaks to the rich, torture, exposing CIA agents, and so much more - can you doubt that there is a malignant ideology at work here? Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Cathy Young said...

Actually, as far as I know, Marx was in favor of revolutionary violence (such as the Reign of Terror in France).

The fact that every attempt to implement Marxist ideology has resulted in tyranny and bloodshed ought to tell us something.

As for the Bush administration: in a democratic society, there are legitimate disagreements about the best tax and environmental policies. By defining one side as "evil," you are illustrating, precisely, the problem that we're talking about: political demonization.

As for torture, I have been very critical of the Bush administration's stance on this issue. However, I recognize that when society is faced with extraordinary danger, governments will sometimes do immoral things in the belief that these actions are needed to protect public safety. In my view, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was at least as great a human rights violation as the Bush administration's policies with regard to detainees (in fact, I'd say worse, since internment orders knowingly lumped a few guilty people with a mass of innocent ones). That doesn't mean I'd call FDR "evil."

Anonymous said...

Marx favoured revolutionary violence? So did Benjamin Franklin.

Your third paragraph is telling - "in a democratic society, there are legitimate disagreements about the best tax and environmental policies". What is legitimate about promoting tax cuts to the rich while saying the poor will benefit? What is legitimate about flying in the face of science to undercut education ("Intelligent Design") and environmental/climate concerns? These were, on the face of it, cynical ploys to benefit big business. Just as WMD was a cynical ploy to initiate a war of opportunity. No, that may not stand up in a court of law just yet, but puhlease...

As for torture, the rightwing response is often "well, these are bad guys". We know that that is not true in all cases, and with the secrecy of this administration, we will probably never know how many innocents have been jailed, tortured and possibly killed, along with some real "bad folks" as GWB would say.

We all do evil things. Few people seem to base their professions on them. I don't define one side as evil; it speaks for itself, if one is only prepared to look and listen.

Revenant said...

Only in the States is membership in the Communist Party considered shameful

It's no different than membership in the Nazi party -- except, of course, inasmuch the Nazis killed, enslaved, and tortured far fewer people. Praising a Communist is no different from praising a Klansman.

Valdron said...

>In any case, we are not talking about allegiance to some abstract communist ideal. We're talking about a left-wing activist who had a friendly dinner with a real-life Fidel Castro and made friendly visits to a number of Soviet-bloc countries prior to the collapse of communism.

Well, you certainly have a point there, Ms Young. I just wonder if it cuts both ways.

For instance, what if I told you about a Republican Government Official who made a special trip to Iraq to hang out with Saddam Hussein in the 80's? What if this government official was so thrilled to be hanging with Saddam that he posed for pictures shaking Saddam's hand and grinning? What if this was taking place around the same time that Saddam was invading another country? What if this was taking place around the time that Saddam was being accused of, and actually was, dropping nerve gas and mustard gas on his opposing country, and upon his own Kurdish countrymen. What if this happy visit was taking place while Saddam's secret police assassinated dissidents in third countries in Europe and England, and while his own country had torture chambers and rape rooms.

Would we be prepared to stigmatize this government official (Don Rumsfeld)?

And frankly, I got a laugh out of the 'Anti-Americanism' thing. I'm not anti-American. I love America, I respect it. It ain't quite Canada, but its a pretty good place.

What I am is anti-dishonesty, and anti-wingnuttery. So I can see how certain people might have problems.

I find it very amusing that the response to criticism has been to attack and dismiss the critic as a foreigner, rather than to try and figure out whether the criticism has merit.

Anonymous said...

Revenant, I don't praise communists, I feel sorry for them. Most of them are people with an honest sense of justice for all, who at worst can be labelled "misguided". You can't blame them all for Stalin, any more than you can blame all Christians for the Inquisition.

To join the Nazi Party, you've got to be a pretty horrible person to begin with.

The fact that you can't/won't see this says a lot about you, and America.

L. Ron Halfelven said...

As Eliza Doolittle almost said, the difference between a Western Communist and a Western Nazi isn't how he behaves-- it's how he's treated.

Anonymous said...

Paul, thank you for illustrating my point. The one about American ignorance, to be specific.

Cathy Young said...

anonymous: how interesting that your response to everyone who disagrees with your rosy view of communists is to call them ignorant or to say that their comments "say a lot about them" or about Americans.

I suspect that Robert Conquest, the outstanding British historian, would agree with Paul and not with you.

valdron: am I proud of the past U.S. association with Hussein? No. In any case, I have no affection for Rumsfeld, and I hope that his days as Secretary of Defense are done. Unfortunately, the practice of politics in real life often involves associating with some unsavory characters as "the lesser of two evils." Churchill and Roosevelt rubbed elbows with Stalin during World War II because he was our ally against Hitler. Clinton befriended multiple murderer Yassir Arafat in the hope of achieving peace in the Middle East. Sometimes those compromises are worth it, sometimes they're not.

Your problem is that while you lecture us from your high horse, you see evils on one side only.

Anonymous said...

Ms Young. What have I written that betrays a "rosy" view of Communism? My grandfather spent 10 years in a Soviet Gulag. He survived it, briefly. No roses here.

However, someone equating Communist Party members with Nazis is not disagreeing with my "rosy" view. It is ignorant. You grew up in the USSR. Was the average communist you met comparable to your average Nazi?

The great thing about historians is that, like economists, you can always find one who agrees with you.

You insist on misrepresenting what I have written. I can only conclude that you don't want to address anything substantial.

Cathy Young said...

anonymous (and by the way, would you consider signing your post? any kind of handle or nickname will do, even initials -- I just find it annoying to address people as "anonymous"):

When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, "the average communist" was just a person who joined the Communist Party for career advancement and held no communist beliefs.

The point I'm making is that American communists willingly and knowingly supported a state that had killed millions. I don't care if they did it in the name of a "noble" ideology or not.

However, I am very sorry about your grandfather's experience, which was shared by both of my paternal grandparents.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sorry for the anonymity. Name is Rob.

Funny thing about having family in the Old Country. Most were/are rabidly anti-Soviet, which usually (sadly) translated to anti-Russian. Some were Party faithful. When I visited (soon after the Soviet collapse), family dinners were interesting to say the least.

Ironically, the truest believer of the lot had grown up in Siberia, where her father was imprisoned, and her mother had her health ruined. She was (since deceased) a lovely person, and thoroughly indoctrinated. I can't help but see the same sort of wilful suspension of disbelief that I saw in her, apparent in Bush supporters today. And no, I'm not comparing Bush to Stalin. But I do resent anyone comparing my cousin to a Nazi.

Rob

Pooh said...

Anon and Cathy, I don't think you are talking about the same things. I think anon is asking whether the average German NS in pre WWII times was any worse than the avertage Soviet Party Member pre 1989.

I'm ignorant of American history on this point, but can a distinction be made between an American communist and an member of the American Communist Party?

Maybe its a lack of my own understanding, but it seems to me that joining the self desrcibing as a "Nazi" of any stripe save for soup neccesarily implies advancement of white power ideas through violent means, while having communist leanings does not imply the same with regards to Leninist/Stalinist methods? Or am I conflating communism and socialism?

And as a final question, how did we get here? I can't even see where we started...

Valdron said...

Ahhh, so it was all right to deal with Saddam Hussein when he was gassing Kurds, starting wars, invading countries, assassinating people in foreign countries and torturing... when he was America's ally? Or at least, when your country were selling him stuff? It was all about the fight against communism? So, you had to get in bed with the butcher?

Charming.

Let me offer another hypothetical. Suppose that there was an American, not in the government, but solidly in the right wing. A past contender in Republican primaries, bona fide media and political and business and religious credentials as a right winger.

Suppose this guy decided to get in bed with Charles Taylor the butcher of Liberia, and suppose he got in bed with Mobutu Sese Seko the kleptocratic mass murdering tyrant of Zaire. Suppose he had extensive business dealings with these guys, as well as personal friendliness.

Would you feel that this person deserved a stigma just like the lefty who met with Fidel Castro? Would this be a better or worse stigma?

Or would this be another situation where you figured that its just being a good American to hold your nose?

Here's how I figure it. Castro is a dictator pure and simple. End of the day, he's just another cheap thug holding onto power. And in that, he's no better or worse than any other cheap thug.

But then, Saddam Hussein was a cheap thug, no better or worse for holding onto power than any other cheap thug. And Don Rumsfeld, and in fact, your Presidents Reagan and Bush saw fit to kiss his ass.

Augusto Pinochet? Cheap thug. But your country liked him too. Leopoldo Galtieri? Cheap thug. Ayatollah Khomeini? Cheap thug. Mobutu Sese Seko? Cheap thug. Suharto? Thug. Taylor? Thug. Stroessner? Thug.

Now, you may say, well, some thugs are better than others. But where is the difference? What makes Pinochet better than Castro. Pinochet murdered thousands of people, women were raped with dogs in his torture chambers, his caravan of death roved the country taking helpless people out of jails and prisons and throwing them out of helicopters, his soldiers threw gasoline on children and lit them on fire for laughs, his men broke a musicians hands before executing him, when confronted with the torture of a priest, Pinochet said "of course we had to torture him, how else will we get a confession." Pinochet made the rich of Chile richer, at the expense of the poor and middle class. His economic miracle was largely fictional. Many people were much worse off for his rule, literacy, health care and old age security declined. Like all corrupt dictators, it turns out that he enriched himself secretly. He even murdered political opponents and American citizens in the streets of Washington DC.

I find it hard to find some way in which he is obviously better than Castro. In many ways, such as providing for literacy, health care, standards of living, Pinochet is arguably much worse.

But your country liked Pinochet, and disliked Castro.

Frankly, I think anyone who ever shook hands with Augusto Pinochet should bear a stigma.

Now, that's not a high horse. That's simple morality.

Circumstance may force us from time to time to deal with the devil, to ally with the lesser of two evils. But that lesser of two evils was never Augusto Pinochet, or Saddam Hussein or Ayatollah Khomeini, or Charles Taylor, Galtieri or whoever. Now maybe its because they were 'our guys', but that's not good enough. Or maybe it was just easier to deal with them, and that, frankly, is not good enough.

Morality is not a jacket you can pick up and take off. You can't condemn Castro for his excesses and simultaneously lick Pinochet's balls. You can't defend Pinochet and have any credibility in condemning Castro.

At the end of the day, there is good and there is evil, and when you get down on your knees and unzip evil's fly... well, don't expect a round of applause.

Cathy Young said...

Valdron: no, I didn't say it was all right. Go and re-read my post.

I'm no defender of Pinochet, who was a murdering thug and a thief to boot. However, there is very little question that Chile under Pinochet fared far better economically than Cuba under Castro. After an initial period of brutal repression, Pinochet's Chile also had a lot more political freedom compared to Castro's Cuba, including opposition parties. In 1988 Pinochet was voted out by a plebiscite. By contrast, every small measure of liberalization under Castro has been followed by a new wave of arrests and repression.

So if we have to choose between those two evils, I'd say that Pinochet was the lesser one.

And by the way, Saddam was not our ally against Communism (as I recall, he was a major Soviet client), but against Iranian fundamentalism.

Incidentally, in view of the consistently rude and insulting nature of your posts, you are no longer welcome to post here.

Anonymous said...

Pooh and Ms Young,

We did seem to rather drift from the theme of Ms Young's post, so I'll wrap up with the point of my ramblings.

There is indeed angry rhetoric from both sides. As I see it, a lot of the volume from the mainstream right (Limbaugh et al) is either misleading or downright untrue. And, again as I see it, a lot of the volume from the left is simply outrage at the excesses of the administration. To equate the two serves the right nicely.

My use of the phrase "American ignorance" was not polite, but consider this; why did (indeed, do) so many Americans believe there was a link between 9/11 and Saddam? How did the Swift Boat vets gain so much credibility? I don't think history will be kind to the gullibility of so many people, or to the role played by the media in all this. It will certainly vilify this administration.

All that said, I appreciate the exchange.

Rob

Cathy Young said...

Rob:

There is indeed angry rhetoric from both sides. As I see it, a lot of the volume from the mainstream right (Limbaugh et al) is either misleading or downright untrue. And, again as I see it, a lot of the volume from the left is simply outrage at the excesses of the administration. To equate the two serves the right nicely.

Of course, the right is asserting that it's the left that's much, much worse. Ultimately, I don't think anyone (any ideologue, at least) wants to merely congratulate themselves on not being worse than the other side. They all want to believe they're better.

I've followed a lot of stories over the years and I don't think that either the left or the right have a monopoly on lying or distorting facts.

For instance, check out this article at a site which, as far as I can tell, is genuinely nonpartisan:

http://www.factcheck.org/article358.html

Anyway, key phrase: as I see it.

I know a lot of sincere, well-meaning, intelligent people on the right who think it's just the opposite: that right-wing nastiness is only a reaction to liberal excesses.

Do you think that, perhaps, your view is biased by your own political preferences?

(And by the way, I'm not claiming to be some sort of Olympian looking down on all this from my perch of total objectivity. Partly, I think my view is shaped by the fact that in terms of ideology I dislike the right and the left almost equally at this point. But partly -- I do at least try, honestly, to be at least as critical of my own side [when I have one] as of the other side.)

Philip said...

In the context of the article, I'd be surprised if Shirelle isn't pro-Castro. It's not exactly an unusual stance on the left, to this day.

Yeah, in my day-to-day life as a ordinary liberal, y'know, the kind that has a 9-to-5 job, I meet SO MANY other liberals who admire Castro. No, wait, I meet approximately NONE. Who cares if Oliver Stone and Kevin Costner love Castro? That doesn't make Castro admiration "not unusual", unless you think most liberals live in Hollywood.

Cathy Young said...

Shirek is not a regular liberal holding a 9-to-5 job. She's a career far-left activist who at one point led the city council campaign of a Communist Party USA candidate. You know a lot of liberals with 9-to-5 jobs who've campaign for CP candidates?

Philip said...

Oh yes, and one more thing. Can Ms. Young please point me to one similarly "eliminationist" comment made by a liberal/leftist/Democrat of comparably high stature as this one from George H. W. Bush:

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

Can you come up with even one comment from another recent President that comes anywhere close?

Oh wait, there was another Bush who said "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."

So I can find comments by two members of the same family that tell me that I'm a unpatriotic second-class non-citizen of my own country, just because I don't agree with them. Please, Ms. Young, point me to similarly disgusting comments from high-ranking Democrats. Then please tell me again how eliminationist rhetoric is just as mainstream on the left as on the right.

Philip said...

Shirek is not a regular liberal holding a 9-to-5 job.

Exactly my point, she's not a regular liberal holding a 9-5 job, and none of the other Castro admirers you mention in your article were either. Yet you claim it's "not unusual" on the left.

On the other hand, I can go to my place of work and find you several Republican voters who think homosexuals are dangerous degenerates who should be put in institutions.

Anonymous said...

Cathy,

I am by nature and nurture, a liberal. However, I had no axe to grind with American politics until after the 2000 election. Going into it, I thought Bush and Gore were slightly different versions of the same animal. Believe it or not, from the outside (I'm in Canada), there has never seemed that much difference between your two main parties. Over the last 5 years I have become increasingly dismayed by the administration, based mostly on what they say, and what they do. Apart from the aspects I disagree with (liberal vs conservative), there is the dissonance between what they say, and what they do. Over, and over again. I don't even see this as primarily liberal vs conservative (nor do an increasing number of conservatives). It is primarily the awfulness and incompetence of the ruling group.

Are Democrats disingenuous about prewar intelligence? Yes, to some extent, but there are those who voted to give Bush the go-ahead who have admitted it was their mistake. Good for them. One aspect that isn't given much attention is the attitude of the Democrats in the Senate who gave their vote. John Kerry gave a speech in the Senate which made quite clear that his vote was contingent on Bush doing everything in his power to finish WMD inspections (wish I had a link), and only go to war as a last resort. Bush betrayed that trust (which I thought was misplaced at the time).

Finally, I don't have a particularly high opinion of the Democratic Party, apart from a few individuals. But failing any wake-up from reasonable people on the right (and there are some of those, too), there is no other source of opposition.

Rob

Cathy Young said...

Re Shirek: Sorry, I should have stated more clearly that I meant the far left.

As for your other comments: I have written about anti-atheist bigotry myself, so I agree with you there. But I'm not sure why we're dragging a stupid comment George H.W. Bush made in 1987 into this (particularly since Dave Neiwert discusses "eliminationist rhetoric" as a recent trend on the right). George W. Bush, in fact, has very clearly stated that "If you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship."

As for the "you're either with us or against us in the war on terror," you're taking that comment egregiously out of context.

Here's what Bush actually said:

And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

He was not saying that any American who doesn't support our policies with regard to terrorism should be seen as pro-terrorist. He was talking about nations that support or harbor terrorists.

Moreover, this was in a speech a few days after 9/11, for Pete's sake. I would wager you that the "applause" after that line came from Democrats as well as Republicans.

Oh, and if you want some rhetoric from high-ranking Democrats ... how about this from Howard Dean:

Speaking about election reform, he said it is unconscionable for voters to have to stand in lengthy lines at polling places given the demands of work and family. "Republicans," he said, "I guess can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

Or this, also from Dean:

"This is a struggle between good and evil and we're the good?"


Or maybe it's not "eliminationist rhetoric" if you think it's true?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: John Kerry gave a speech in the Senate which made quite clear that his vote was contingent on Bush doing everything in his power to finish WMD inspections (wish I had a link), and only go to war as a last resort. Bush betrayed that trust (which I thought was misplaced at the time).

Except that to actually DO WMD inspections without Saddam's incessant interference, we'd have had to basically occupy the country, since Saddam --- who, apparently, had no WMD --- decided that stonewalling and blocking access to sites in violation of the ceasefire was suitable.

Phillip: On the other hand, I can go to my place of work and find you several Republican voters who think homosexuals are dangerous degenerates who should be put in institutions.

Funny, I live in the Bible Belt. I'm quite conservative. I don't know a single person who believes that.

Also Phillip: Please, Ms. Young, point me to similarly disgusting comments from high-ranking Democrats. Then please tell me again how eliminationist rhetoric is just as mainstream on the left as on the right.

I didn't see Republicans advocating secession when Clinton won the WH. I didn't see too many books about assassinating Clinton.

Who cares if Oliver Stone and Kevin Costner love Castro?

So, James Dobson is "influential", but Hollywood stars are not?

why did (indeed, do) so many Americans believe there was a link between 9/11 and Saddam? How did the Swift Boat vets gain so much credibility? I don't think history will be kind to the gullibility of so many people, or to the role played by the media in all this. It will certainly vilify this administration.

Except you can't really point to a single occasion where Bush said Saddam was behind 9/11.

As for the Swift Vets --- Kerry already had to change his autobiography about being in Cambodia simply because they mentioned the problems.

Believe it or not, the swift boats in Vietnam didn't go out ALONE. They had SEVERAL boats going out together. So, even if you're not one guy's particular boat, you can be quite aware of what he does since you're right with him regularly.

Valdron: Ahhh, so it was all right to deal with Saddam Hussein when he was gassing Kurds

We actually cut off support of Saddam before anybody else.

Just saying.

But then, Saddam Hussein was a cheap thug, no better or worse for holding onto power than any other cheap thug. And Don Rumsfeld, and in fact, your Presidents Reagan and Bush saw fit to kiss his ass.

"Kiss his ass"?

Not quite.

They used him and Iran against each other in a desire to see both armies kill each other off. Let the wicked destroy the wicked.

Many people were much worse off for his rule, literacy, health care and old age security declined. Like all corrupt dictators, it turns out that he enriched himself secretly.

You are aware that Cubans TODAY are fed worse than Cuban SLAVES were in 1862, right?

In any attempt to justify Castro's reign is moral equivalence at its most evil.

Castro imprisons ALL opposition. He quarantines AIDS patients and leaves them to die. He engages in torture --- and not the "torture" the US "engages" in, but actual torture.

It's odd that you can't find a conservative who will say a good word about Nazism or Fascism --- but far too many leftists won't outright condemn the unspeakable, unparalleled evil of Communism.

Communism only killed, what, 80-100M people last century?

-=Mike

thecobrasnose said...

The original intention of the post was to decry Michelle Malkin's manifestly unfair book. I would propose that few would open something entitled "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild" expecting fairness, balance, or moderation. Neither would a reasonable type buy "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" with the expectation that a thoughtful critique of Air America must be in there somewhere.

But while I have definitely thrown my lot in with one of the (at least) two despicable, eliminationist, mass-murdering endorsing political parties discussed above, and can’t claim to have been consistently civil in my description of those who do not share my political philosophy, the tendency to judge liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans by the very worst and most intemperate of their numbers seems unhelpful to say the least. It’s not just a wallow, it’s a wallow that distorts actual debate of policy which never has and never will include, “how many Christians/ Atheists/ Environmentalist/ etc. shall we slaughter today?”

I don’t mean to tar every participant in this thread, because there has been thoughtful discussion. But a lot of it has been an example of precisely the nutty rhetoric that Cathy decries in the first place. Surely the irony is lost on no one.

David Neiwert said...

Cathy:

I'll have more of a response to your post on my blog, but I did want to comment on the remarks comparing the Nazi Party to the Communist Party, including during the 1930s and '40s, when they were truly comparable, not to mention somewhat viable political entities. (The American Nazis who have followed since have been substantially reduced to the fringe ala George Lincoln Rockwell, while the American Communist Party lingered well into the 1950s as operating somewhat within the mainstream.)

I have no brief for either. I was raised as a consistently ardent anti-Communist, and have in my adulthood become a similarly ardent opponent of fascism. But there are important distinctions between them. So, just to compare what we know about them as historical entities:

The American Nazi Party's program called for the elimination of Jews and the complete subservience of nonwhite races. And its members were explicitly aligned with and fully supportive of the Hitler regime.

The American Communist Party uniformly urged a program involving the proletariat seizing the means of capital and freeing the workers (naive rhetoric, perhaps, but also hopefully idealistic), and there was an ongoing debate about the Party's commitment to and involvement with the Soviet regime (though we now know that in fact the Party was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviets ... rather like the Bund, the Silver Shirts and the America Firsters were for the Nazis).

The Nazis attracted the country's most thuggish and violent, Klanlike elements.

The Communists attracted intellectuals and artists.

Though both supported regimes that killed millions, suggesting they were comparable, really, is disingenuous. Because the motives and mindsets of those who joined them were worlds apart.

It's like saying there are no differences between first-degree murder and manslaughter. Both produce a dead person.

But we do make a distinction based on their motivations, and it is not a fine one. I think the same kind of distinction holds regarding American Communists and American Nazis.

Anonymous said...

The American Communist Party uniformly urged a program involving the proletariat seizing the means of capital and freeing the workers (naive rhetoric, perhaps, but also hopefully idealistic), and there was an ongoing debate about the Party's commitment to and involvement with the Soviet regime (though we now know that in fact the Party was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviets ... rather like the Bund, the Silver Shirts and the America Firsters were for the Nazis).

So, what you're saying is that there WAS no debate about Soviet involvement since it was there.

And it is immaterial why people do evil. Terrorists believe they are saving people from themselves.

Hardly makes their actions OK.

The Nazis attracted the country's most thuggish and violent, Klanlike elements.

The Communists attracted intellectuals and artists.


So both attracted blind morons? Kudos to both of them.

A thug and an artist who both subscribe to evil views of life aren't appreciably different. In many ways, the Communists were worse because they were more willing to completely obscure what they wanted.

It's like saying there are no differences between first-degree murder and manslaughter. Both produce a dead person.

But we do make a distinction based on their motivations, and it is not a fine one. I think the same kind of distinction holds regarding American Communists and American Nazis.


A mindset where anybody who isn't part of a political party is not worthy of rights, as Communists did, is every inch as evil as one that believes that anybody who is part of a religion is not worthy of rights.

That you don't see the similarity is quite disheartening.
-=Mike

William R. Barker said...

I agree with Pooh: The French Suck!

(*GRIN*)

The other day, back when there were "only" 71 or so comments, I wrote a lengthy response to the responses to my original comment, previewed it, and then... accidentally deleted it! (*UGH*) Anyway... just a few quick points:

To Pinko Punko - Republicans LOVE puppies! (*SMILE*)

To Cornellian - The Roman Empire? Feudal Europe? Going a bit far afield, aren't you? (*GRIN*) (I guess the Dems were the plebs and later the peasants?) (*WINK*)

To Navigator - Great cut and paste job! (*SMILE*) Seriously... good debating technique!

To Valdron - (1) You wrote, "As I understand it, Michelle Malkin has written a dishonest book..." You see... here's the problem... while you may be right, you're bashing the book and the author without having read it. I admitted that I hadn't read it and therefore didn't comment on the book itself. (2) Timothy McVeigh? Ted Kaczynski? The Order? The Branch Davidians? Eric Rudolf? The Anthrax Terrorists? The Brooks Brothers riot??? (*SCRATCHING HEAD*) Are you TRYING to make my point for me about how many on the left simply seem to be "unhinged?"

To Navigator - "... either a fool or a resident of an alternate universe." Me? (*SMIRK*) Tsk, tsk, tsk... reduced to name-calling. (*SMIRK*) Oh... and thanks for finally realizing that I'm Mr. BARKER and not "Mr. Brooks." (*SMILE*)

Back to Valdron - "Anarchism as a fashion statement." (*SCRATCHING HEAD*) On a more serious note, you really don't understand libertarian theory at all.

To Synova - Yep... it is hard to find common ground when one side calmly and oh so sophisticatedly states that their side is respresented by those who think and the other side is not. (*SMILE*) To generalize... liberals do seem to gravitate towards condescendion. (sp?)

To Cathy - Hmm... you really think DeLay is more "unhinged" than Dean or Pelosi. Interesting! One point confuses me, though. If on the torture thread you claim that even monsters are "human" and deserve to be treated as human, why would you come down so hard on DeLay believing that Terri Schiavo was as alive as you or I? If you get around to reading this post, please consider my question for a moment and reply.

To Steve J - You can find "nutty" quotes from pretty much anyone who has a paper trail. Fair enough quoting Mehlman though! (*GRIN*) If I have time maybe I'll come up with a few Dean doozies to counter. (*SMILE*)

To David Rubien - I think the moment you put "Neo-Nazi White Supremacists" in the same category with "Rush Limbaugh" you lost those of us on the "hinged" side of the debate. (*SMIRK*)

* Notice when Revenant replied in kind he didn't put "Shining Path" or the equivilant on his list alongside Michael Moore? See... that's the difference between opinionated and "hinged" as opposed to partisanly UNHINGED.

To DogRiverDan - I love Canada! Ottaway is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Quebec City - even with the pseudo-Frenchies (*GRIN*) - is another winner! I like Toronto... Montreal is o.k.... I'm looking forward to the day I get to travel to the Canadian West! Ya know... Canadians and Americans may argue like brothers and cousins, but when it comes right down to it, that's what we are - "family."

To Cathy (again!) - Just out of curiousity... do you think if Pinochet had never been born his country would have been better off or worse off for his absence?

To Paul Zrimsek - Excellent post! Short and to the point!

To Cobranose - Now see... you're a great example of "hinged!" (*GRIN*)

I tell ya, kids... some of the comments people post... ya just have to laugh! That said... it's a real kudo to Cathy how many truly bright and well-informed people of all political and ideological strips contribute to The Y Files.

BILL

beAzl said...

David Neiwert,

You write:


The Nazis attracted the country's most thuggish and violent, Klanlike elements.

The Communists attracted intellectuals and artists.

Though both supported regimes that killed millions, suggesting they were comparable, really, is disingenuous. Because the motives and mindsets of those who joined them were worlds apart.


Okay, stage right is a group of white guys with 3rd grade educations, spouting Nazi rhetoric - kill all blacks, kill all non-Christians, in a country where a majority of the Republican dominated Supreme Court said it’s okay to grant explicit preferences to African-Americans for the next 25 years, and in a world where no nation on earth currently follows their ideology.

Stage left is a group of brilliant writers and nuclear physicists who are so in love with their communist ideology, that they are capable of writing and believing extremely convincing reasons why the west has been duped to believe North Korea is so bad, that China would ever sell weapons to al Qaeda, etc


Assuming you don't want to be incinerated, which side deserves more jeers, and cause for concern? How about if we accept Cathy’s generous offer, and consider them both at least in the same league?

mythago said...

Of course, the right is asserting that it's the left that's much, much worse. Ultimately, I don't think anyone (any ideologue, at least) wants to merely congratulate themselves on not being worse than the other side. They all want to believe they're better.

Cathy, another dimension I don't think has been addressed here is that the right has painted itself as the group pushing greater morality, old-fashioned virtues, and has associated itself with Christianity. So conveniently forgetting those claimed virtues when it's handy to do so adds an extra layer of jerkdom. (Would Jesus have told anyone to beat up liberals with a baseball bat?)

Pooh said...

I may be repeating myself (again), but I think all this argument about who is worse is tangential. It doesn't matter, objectively, which side is worse. What matters is that there are plenty of people on both sides who allow their side to be charicatured as "unhinged" in one way or another. So people subjectively feel that they can't or don't have to engage with those of differing viewpoints.

To make an animal kingdom analogy, commentators should have a symbiotic relationship with politics, whereas too often now they have a parasitic relationship.

Anonymous said...

Mike, where do you get your info from? Rush Limbaugh? I guess it's not the WHO. Maybe they're just Commie symps.

www.who.int/countries/en

USA

Total population: 294,043,000
GDP per capita (Intl $, 2002): 36,056
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 75.0/80.0
Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2002): 67.2/71.3
Child mortality m/f (per 1000): 9/7
Adult mortality m/f (per 1000): 139/82
Total health expenditure per capita (Intl $, 2002): 5,274
Total health expenditure as % of GDP (2002): 14.6
Figures are for 2003 unless indicated. Source: The world health report 2005

Cuba

Total population: 11,300,000
GDP per capita (Intl $, 2002): 3,166
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 75.0/79.0
Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2002): 67.1/69.5
Child mortality m/f (per 1000): 8/6
Adult mortality m/f (per 1000): 137/87
Total health expenditure per capita (Intl $, 2002): 236
Total health expenditure as % of GDP (2002): 7.5
Figures are for 2003 unless indicated. Source: The world health report 2005

Note, this is more of a condemnation of how the US treats it's people, than a paean to Cuba.

Rob

Cathy Young said...

To Dave Neiwert: If communism was able to attract smarter and more sophisticated people to what was in essence a totalitarian and murderous ideology, doesn't that, in a way, make it more dangerous?

I will grant you that communist ideology had a certain outward "idealism" that could attract a better caliber of people than Nazism. However, for a very long time, Western communists knew that they were supporting a regime that was ruthlessly suppressing dissent and killing people in large numbers. They offered a variety of "can't make an omelette without breaking the eggs" excuses for it.

Rob, re Cuban infant mortality stats: a direct comparison between Cuba and the US in this respect is somewhat misleading, because extremely low-weigt, premature births are not counted as live births in Cuba (and many other countries), while they are in the US. Here are a couple of articles with more info on this:

Lessons from Cuba on Infant Mortality

Cuba vs the US on infant mortality

Anonymous said...

Cathy,

Fair enough. Where is your comment about Mike's

"You are aware that Cubans TODAY are fed worse than Cuban SLAVES were in 1862, right?"

Or is this obviously true? Maybe you could then provide the source. It does seem that you address the questions for which you *want* to give answers for.

On Dave's point (with which I agree); if we are to stigmatize superficially attractive philosophies which result in mass murder and suffering, shouldn't we ban Christianity?

Rob

Pooh said...

Rob, that's just silly. As a counterpoint (given you went all 1860s first) John Brown was a mass murderer. We should therefore have banned abolitionism. Really, yours is the kind of ludicrous statement which allows the "moonbat" epithet to have some traction. Even if it was meant in jest.

beAzl said...

David,

Rereading your post, my question to you was way off the mark, and I apologize. I see now your response is related to a discussion that must have taken place of how to judge an American who supported Nazism during WWII, vs an American who supported communism during the cold war. I missed the part of the debate where that must have been discussed, and thought you were referring to a different debate entirely.

Apologies again.

Anonymous said...

Pooh,

Of course it's silly. But it is logically consistent with the kind of hyperbole that flies around about people who sincerely hold communist beliefs, and compares them to Nazis. That was the point of the comment. Actually, "silly" is far too weak a term. Maybe I should have stuck a [a modest proposal] tag on it.

Rob

Cathy Young said...

Rob: I replied to you about infant mortality comparisons because I happen to have looked into this subject and had the info ready.

As for Mike's nutrtional comparison to slaves in 1862: I have no idea where it comes from, and it sure smells funny to me. I would like Mike to provide the link if he can.

And by the way, yes, in a thread that's now 142 posts long, I'm not going to be able to reply to every post (particularly since I was busy working on a new blogpost yesterday). There are other posters here who've raised points I'd like to reply to as well, but I haven't as yet had a chance.

As for Christianity vs Communism: I think the comparison is off-base for several reasons.

1. Christianity is a spiritual belief, not a belief in a system of government. Its core message is about achieving salvation in the next world, not building a perfect society in this one. It's possible to be a Christian and reject all the organized Christian religions. Yes, theoretically it's also possible to be a Communist and reject all the actual communist regimes that have been existed, but a belief in communism nonetheless requires an aspiration to build "real communism" somewhere (and based on previous experience, we know what the results are likely to be). On the other hand, being a Christian does not require belief in any political or collective social action at all.

2. There have been many Christian societies in the world, only a minority of which used Christian ideology as a rationale for murder and repression. Every single Communist society that has ever existed has used Communist ideology as a rational for murder and repression.

3. Christianity developed in a world that had no modern notions of human rights. Overall, I would say, it was socially a force for good. (For instance, against the backdrop of women's status in the early European societies -- among the Franks, the Goths, etc. -- the Catholic Church was actually a champion of women's rights; it played a major role in curbing the practice of forced marriages, for instance.) While there were some major religion-driven atrocities such as mass slaughter of heretics (the Cathars, for instance), similar atrocities were common in the world of that time for non-religious reasons -- e.g., in wars of conquest.

By contrast, Communism (like Nazism) arose in the post-Enlightenment West, and represented a MAJOR regression to barbarism.

Let me also reiterate that in this discussion, I was not talking about people who believe in some abstract ideal of communism, but about Communists who supported the Soviet regime.

I will grant you, and Dave, that the outward trappings of communist ideology (all that talk of peace, equality, championing the oppressed, etc. etc.) gave those people (compared to Nazis) a way to support a murderous regime and remain high-minded about it. I don't see that as a good thing.

Floyd said...

Comparing American health statistics with Cuban health statistics is silly, because the Cuban statistics are whatever Castro and his minions decided that they should be.

Remember when it was confidently asserted that the Soviet Union had a large growing economy and would someday pass the United States in size?

Anonymous said...

Cathy,

Your points are well-taken and appreciated. I was not trying to bash Christianity so much as to point out that any ideology can be perverted, no matter how benign it's origin or content.

I thought, however, that Communism arose as a response to barbarism. The barbarism that was Tsarist Russia (barbaric to the vast majority anyway), and early corporatism. Of course, we know the Bolsheviks quickly reverted to what they had presumably fought against.

Anyway, a Just Society would not fear Communism, any more than it should fear fundamentalism.

Rob

Floyd said...

I thought, however, that Communism arose as a response to barbarism. The barbarism that was Tsarist Russia (barbaric to the vast majority anyway), and early corporatism. Of course, we know the Bolsheviks quickly reverted to what they had presumably fought against.

The Communists did not overthrow the Tsar. They overthrew a democratic government that had overthrown the Tsar.

Communism did not arise as a response to Tsarist Russia; indeed, Marx believed that Russia was too backwards to be revolutionary.

Anyway, a Just Society would not fear Communism, any more than it should fear fundamentalism.

Any society, just or not, should fear Communism for the same reason that it fears Naziism.

William R. Barker said...

Mythago writes:

Cathy, another dimension I don't think has been addressed here is that the right has painted itself as the group pushing greater morality, old-fashioned virtues, and has associated itself with Christianity.

----------------------------------

WRB replies:

Hmm... have you ever heard of Liberation Theology, Mythago? (Rhetorical question... of course you have.)

I wouldn't exactly call mainstream American Protestantism "conservative" (as in Republican leaning), would you? Heck... even the American Catholic Church (regardless of dictates from Rome) can hardly be termed "conservative" if by conservative you mean supporting and voting overwhelmingly for the Republicans.

Would you have referred to the anti-slavery movement (in large part religiously driven both here and in Great Britain) as a "conservative" movement? How about American Civil Rights organizations led by and supported by Christian clerics and their flocks?

Yeah... there's a Christian Right. There's also a Christian Left. Finally... there's a Christian middle and Christians all over the political and ideological spectrum.

BILL

Anonymous said...

Mike, where do you get your info from? Rush Limbaugh? I guess it's not the WHO. Maybe they're just Commie symps.
Seemed to miss the wole nutrition thing.

Fair enough.

From Fidel Castro y La Revolucion Cubana by Montaner, Carlos Alberto (1984):

Food rations in 1862 for Cuban slaves:
Meat: 8 oz
Rice: 4 oz
Starches: 16 oz
Beans: 4 oz

Castro government food ration since 1962:
Meat: 2 oz
Rice: 3 oz
Starches: 6.5 oz
Beans: 1 oz.

Note, this is more of a condemnation of how the US treats it's people, than a paean to Cuba.

I'm not sure you'd REALLY want the US to treat you the way you'd be treated in Cuba.

If you criticize Castro, you tend to have problems. Criticize, say, Pres. Bush? Not so much.
-=Mike

mythago said...

WRB, you read my comment rather oddly. I didn't say that all Christians are conservative. I said that unhinged right-wingers of the type Cathy describes associate themselves with Christianity--not that Christianity associates itself with them. Or, indeed, that they are actual Christians. (Jesus had much to say about those who claim to be God's people but never do anything Godly.)

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Thanks for the source, and I apologize for my sarcasm. That is a very interesting comparison, but given the WHO numbers it seems rather odd. Can you provide a bit more context? I presume these are daily rations, but is either (or both) the total personal intake for the day?

Having looked a bit at who Montaner is, I would need a bit more than an excerpt from his book.

Check out this article by him;

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-11_8_05_CM.html

You may agree with it totally, but not too many liberals would be impressed by lines like

"The Left today is nothing but circus and street violence."

My final comment had nothing to do with Cuba. A country as rich as the USA should have much better statistics than it does.

Rob

Kiva said...

The point I'm making is that American communists willingly and knowingly supported a state that had killed millions. I don't care if they did it in the name of a "noble" ideology or not.

Just to confirm --

Nobody here supports the United States, right?

Because, fuck, there's a great example of a nation that killed millions.

Or do we just conveniently forget about the Great American Genocides since, hey, they're just Indians [sic]?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the source, and I apologize for my sarcasm. That is a very interesting comparison, but given the WHO numbers it seems rather odd. Can you provide a bit more context? I presume these are daily rations, but is either (or both) the total personal intake for the day?

Well, obviously, it's nih impossible to nail down figures on the black market. But those were the official government numbers back in 1984 --- and, odds are, the numbers are significantly lower now as Cuba has lost its Soviet backing financially.

I'm stunned the WHO never has studied this to any degree --- or that ANYBODY outside of this one book (which was brutally hard to find for a paper I wrote in college) has really studied the topic.

Having looked a bit at who Montaner is, I would need a bit more than an excerpt from his book.

Check out this article by him;

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-11_8_05_CM.html

You may agree with it totally, but not too many liberals would be impressed by lines like

"The Left today is nothing but circus and street violence."


No argument it's inflammatory. However, a lot of people who suffered under Communism have more than a little disdain for people who do not seem to fully understand what capitalism provides as opposed to Socialism or Communism. And as he pointed out, he's watched as Latin America has become quite noticeably less democratic in the last 10 years, which is disconcerting.

It'd be, for me, questioning an elderly black person's visceral disdain for the KKK. Even if they're non-entities today, what they did in the past is unlikely to be forgotten by the victims.

Just an example of what that article you posted mentioned --- why in the world is Che Guevera on T-shirts, considering the unmitigated evil and viciousness of the man? When people discuss evil, why is Hitler's name mentioned significantly more than Stalin? Why did some in Berkeley get upset over a book that pointed out how evil Mao was.

And Latin America's move AWAY from democracy, which is very much in effect, is a potentially huge problem in the future that we'll ignore here until the problem becomes quite difficult to deal with.

And he is correct --- Chile should be THE example Latin America follows. It's a shame it is not.

My final comment had nothing to do with Cuba. A country as rich as the USA should have much better statistics than it does.

The USA, by and large, will do more work to try and save very immature babies, which will increase the infant mortality rate.

Also, from what I've studied of this in the past, there are some nice accounting gimmicks elsewhere to lower their numbers.

-=Mike

Anonymous said...

Just to confirm --

Nobody here supports the United States, right?

Because, fuck, there's a great example of a nation that killed millions.

Or do we just conveniently forget about the Great American Genocides since, hey, they're just Indians [sic]?


Considering that the knowledge of the passage of diseases was pretty weak when we first came here --- the mass slaughter of the natives that disease caused can hardly be called intentional.
-=Mike

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed this thread is still going!

Mike, we are obviously coming from VERY different worldviews, but let's agree on a few things. Stalin and Mao - evil m**********rs. They were sociopaths who were given a leg up by the attractiveness of Communism to a lot of very badly-off people.

"However, a lot of people who suffered under Communism have more than a little disdain for people who do not seem to fully understand what capitalism provides as opposed to Socialism or Communism".

It's too bad we rarely hear from the poor of Cuba about comparing Castro to Batista. I'm not assuming I'd know who would fare better, but it would be nice to know what they thought, those who have lived under both.

Maybe you missed an earlier part of this thread, but my family (parents, grandparents) suffered a lot under the Soviets. I hate to break this to you, but Stalinism, Maoism and any other ism you can name, are no more indictments of Communism than the Inquisition is an indictment of Christianity.

BTW, do you consider Canada Socialist (many Americans do)? Can you point out a few of the Evils in my adopted country that I am not aware of?

Lastly, Mike;

"Considering that the knowledge of the passage of diseases was pretty weak when we first came here --- the mass slaughter of the natives that disease caused can hardly be called intentional."

Please man, read a bit more history. Sure, a lot of deaths were caused by exposure to unfamiliar diseases, but there was plenty of genocide going on (from English, Spanish, Portuguese and later, Americans).

Rob

Aleph said...

Happy New Year from another loyal Orcinus reader,

Sorry I'm a little late coming in to this thread, but I couldn't let slip some earlier comments of Cathy's. Specifically, on Dec 11th she quoted Howard Dean and then characterized what he said as "eliminationist rhetoric". Quoting Cathy quoting Dean:


Speaking about election reform, he said it is unconscionable for voters to have to stand in lengthy lines at polling places given the demands of work and family. "Republicans," he said, "I guess can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."

Or this, also from Dean:

"This is a struggle between good and evil and we're the good?"

Or maybe it's not "eliminationist rhetoric" if you think it's true?


----

I really don't see how either of these quotes is even remotely "eliminationist rhetoric".

The first quote criticizes republicans, but it does not in any way advocate any kind of retribution, much less suggest that they should be "eliminated", in even the vaguest sense of the term.

The second quote merely questions be black and white rhetoric of the Bush administration. How is his questioning "eliminationist rhetoric"?

Here is what I would consider eliminationist rhetoric (and the kind I gather David Neiwert was speaking about in original article which was the inspiration for this thread):

----


Rush Limbaugh ("between 14 and 20 million listeners per week, making it the largest radio talk show audience in the United States"):
:


"Wouldn't it be great if anybody who speaks out against this country, to kick them out of the country? Anybody that threatens this country, kick 'em out. We'd get rid of Michael Moore, we'd get rid of half the Democratic Party if we would just import that law. That would be fabulous. The Supreme Court ought to look into this. Absolutely brilliant idea out there."


-----


Ann Coulter ("bestselling author"):


"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."



"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."

"I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo."

-----

Michael Savage (reaching over eight million listeners on 377 stations throughout the United States, [and who's] three New York Times bestsellers"):


"Right now, even people sitting on the fence would like George Bush to drop a nuclear weapon on an Arab country. They don't even care which one it would be... They want this war over with, and they want it ended like the war against Japan. They'd like Big Boy dropped on one of the little cities over there. They don't care where. They don't **care** any more."



"Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people"


-----
-----

Please tell me how the above in any way compares in eliminationism to Dean's contention that


"Republicans," he said, "I guess can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."


or


"This is a struggle between good and evil and we're the good?"


?

----

By deliberately conflating Dean with the likes of Limbaugh, Coulter, and Savage you are doing us all a great disservice. Which is a shame, since you otherwise speak quite eloquently in opposition of totalitarianism.

This talent could, I humbly suggest, be better put to use in exposing the totalitarian strains in the present administration and their supporters (which are dangerously many) than in attacking the likes of Dean, who (as far as I know) has never even remotely approached the kind of eliminationism which is a literal threat to us all.

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