Reihan Salam on race


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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168 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Have you heard the Term: Colorblind Racism? These are the people who will point to the “all/most blacks are lazy” to explain how in our “bootstrapping society” black people continue to remain in the lowest class.

    This is contrary to the literature, which shows that 75% of a white person’s wealth, on average, has come about due to racist policies.

    But take this a bit farther: I do not mind if a person is racist. I mind if society is. There are millionaires with less freedom to walk San Francisco than me — because I am “white,”[ahem. i prefer spotted. more accurate.] and they are of darker hue.Report

    • Have you read this, Kim? It sounds like you may have. If not, you might want to check it out:

    • Avatar Mike says:

      The easiest way to demonstrate racism on the part of the Tea Party is to take a latino friend to a Tea Party rally and count how many of those racist assholes shout “go back to Mexico” at his back.

      You’ll never have to wonder if they are racist or not again.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        … the better one was to listen to them yelling “wetback” at the republican congressmen from texas, as he stood to speak relatively favorably towards them.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      This is contrary to the literature, which shows that 75% of a white person’s wealth, on average, has come about due to racist policies.

      No, it doesn’t.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        … what journals are you looking at to base that conclusion on? Most of an American’s wealth is tied up in housing, and a good fraction of that came from FHA loans, which have been extensively documented to have been racist up until the 1970’s. Since Americans inherit their wealth, for the most part, a good deal of wealth derives from the Homestead Act, which was quite racist in that blacks were not allowed to get free land.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          The natural interpretation of the quoted claim is that white Americans would on average have 75% less wealth if it hadn’t been for racism, which is clearly not true.

          The claim that you’re making in your follow-up comment—that 75% of white Americans’ wealth can in some way be linked to racist policies—is much weaker, and not self-evidently false.

          That said, I’m not sure it’s true that most wealth in the US is inherited. Could be, but I’d have to see evidence. And even if true, it doesn’t follow from that that a significant amount of the wealth held by white Americans could be attributed specifically to inheritances derived from the subsidy value of homestead grants.

          All that said, this is beside the point. Inheritances and home ownership aren’t what separate the middle class from the underclass.Report

          • You have a lot of blanket declarations in this thread, BB.

            Rather than ask you to substantiate them all, how about we focus on the last sentence of this post here.

            What does separate the middle class from the “underclass”?Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              I would think that the observation that many members of the middle class do not have inheritances and don’t own homes would be fairly uncontroversial. Am I wrong about that?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                If you from cradle to grave do not own a home, I think its fair to say that you do not possess enough wealth to be included in the middle class, certainly the upper middle class. I for one do not believe that the lower middle class really exists any more, with the virtual demise of union labor.

                We’ve had thirty years of zero wage inflation — I think its fair to say that people have been falling out of the middle class, and Wallmart/Family Dollar’s prospectus’ will bear me out on that one.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            the research does not support your conclusions, I believe. Sorry if I overstated the research, by the way — me being an idiot does not mean the researchers are.

            Over the course of an average grown person’s lifetime, they will have on average about four jobs (I’m pulling numbers out of my hat, actually, but they seem reasonable), and spend three years out of work before they retire involuntarily due to age discrimination.

            If you do have on average $5000 wealth, you are much less able to deal with the crisis caused by being unemployed. This is what the research shows (Bonilla-Silva got referenced upthread. read the journals he writes in).

            Brandon, wealth is primarily inherited through two methods: 1) college education and 2) buying a home. The first enables one to get a higher income (black v.s. white inequality is markedly less when you look at income, as opposed to wealth). We could do a lot better with the second (the analysis of how mortgage lenders were cheating blacks in North Carolina presaged the ultimate crisis by a few years).Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              I’m pulling numbers out of my hat, actually, but they seem reasonable

              That about sums it up, doesn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                well, if you’d like sources, i’d be glad to provide them (I note when I’m sorta bullshitting so that you can provide the sources if you’d rather trust your own research). but when you’ve got 30% unemployment on the 18-30 bracket, I kinda question the applicability of averaging…Report

        • Avatar Jib says:

          According to this:

          91.9% of all Americans inherit nothing, zip, zero. Only 1.6% receive more than $100,000

          91.9% of all Americans inherit nothing from their parents. That is a long. long way from ‘Americans inherit their wealth’. Very few Americans transfer wealth through inheritance. However, the ones that do, transfer a lot. The top 1% control 34.6% of wealth so a nice chunk of total wealth is inherited.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            The study I was referencing saw most “inheritance” coming through gifting downpayments/college tuition while the parents are still alive.
            (short: yah, you’re right. so’m I.)Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        Does this constitute discourse nowadays? How far are we from, “I know you are but what am I?” or even “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”?Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          What else is there to say in response to an unsourced and implausible claim? “Citation Needed?”Report

          • Avatar BSK says:

            Well, first off, you could at least be clever about it:

            Seriously speaking, though, simply saying, “No, it doesn’t” offers nothing. First off, it is far different from saying “citation needed”. Saying the former is to say, “I know that you are wrong.” Which is fine to say. But back it up. The latter is fine to say as well, but means something very different, namely, “I disagree with what you are saying and, as such, ask for evidence to support your claims.” You offered nothing but a, “You’re wrong,” without any evidence why the person was wrong or any direct refutation of just what was wrong. You went on to, but your initial comment seemed to be more intended to stoke the flames than to actually contribute to the conversation.Report

  2. The data shows that “among white voters being ethnocentric is associated—independent of self-described ideology and other factors—with decreased support for means-tested welfare”— even though “ethnocentrism helps to build support for social insurance programs among white Americans”. And the recent Putnam survey found that Tea Partiers are “overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do. More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today.”

    Now, we have the Tea Party, which claims to be very sad and mad about deficits and excessive government power. But they were nowhere to be found during the Bush administration. There weren’t out there protesting the Bush-era policies that created our debt, the executive’s asserted power to indefinitely detain citizens taken into custody on American soil without trial or charge, and to wiretap American citizens without a warrant, No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration’s position in Raich v. Gonzales, our misleadingly sold and incompetently prosecuted invasion and occupation of a foreign country, or deficit-spending-financed Medicare Part D (as opposed to the deficit-reducing ACA).

    I generally avoid talking about the word “racism” with white people, because it tends to make them flip out. (And/or, like Salam, come up with a definition that, actually, brings to mind Chris Rock’s explanation of when it’s ok for white people to say “ni**er”– “if it’s Christmas Eve, and it’s between 4:30 and 4:49 in the morning. If you white, and you’re on your way to Toys ‘R’ Us to get your kid the last Transformer doll, and right before you walk into Toys ‘R’ Us, some black person runs up beside you, smacks you in the head with a brick, knocks you to the ground, stomps on your face–“take that, you cracker-ass motherfucker!” Riverdances on your head–“take that, you cracker-ass motherfucker!” Takes your money, pisses on you, and runs away” then it’s OK to use that term, Rock reports, anticipating Reihan’s definition of “racism”).

    But the simple fact is that the Tea Party– aka the GOP base– has no political or ideological explanation.

    Maybe it’s pure partisanship that has these white people so agitated– maybe they’d be every bit as out of sorts were Hillary Clinton to be president right now.

    We can avoid calling the Tea/Republican Party’s motivator “racism,” but it’s inarguably accurate to call it deeply irrational tribalism.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      … deeply irrational tribalism as exploited by the propagandists. Divide and Conquer has been their strategy since the French Revolution.
      The fact that people aren’t sick of being ego-stroked, of being told “you don’t hafta suffer, someone else should suffer FOR YOU!” is a sad commentary on humanity.

      Every time someone says “Obama is a Socialist” they are whistleblowing. And everytime someone salivates at the EVIL SOCIALISTS, America dies just a little bit more.

      In the immortal words of Langston Hughes, “America never was America to me”

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Divide and Conquer has been their strategy since the French Revolution.

        What has been whose strategy?

        Obama may or may not be a socialist. I had hoped for some more neoliberal policy but he was squishy on lots of things. The thing is this. from where I’m standing, the US is far from a free-market paradise. Much of the american left would self-identify as social democrats and they would not be wrong in doing so. But “social democrat” is just another term we call moderate socialists.

        Now, socialism may have a lot of badd connotations in the US (at least some, I concede may not be deserved) However, the left should own their socialist roots. Because, once you abandon socialism and just go for pure liberalism, about the most leftwards you can go and still be distinctly liberal is Yglesias.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, I get them all confused…

          As to who “They” are… the “landed rich” — contrasted with the “self-made man,” who by in large votes Democrat (because if you take more away from all the rich people, he’s confident that he can make MORE money. because making money is easy for him). The Landed Rich (your Kochs, your current Waltons, the sons and grandsons of moneymakers) tend to be completely conservative, and focused on preserving, not creating, wealth. In this, they resemble the Planter Class of the American South, and the nobility in many other countries.Report

      • Avatar Matty says:

        “you don’t hafta suffer, someone else should suffer FOR YOU!”

        I knew there was something I didn’t like about Christianity.

        As for socialism, Obama doesn’t act like any self declared socialist I can think of but lacking a definition of what you mean by socialist I couldn’t say if actually fits or not.

        P.S Making some words in a blog comment ALL CAPS gives the impression of randomly shouting, you might want to try some other way of adding emphasis.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          … but I _meant_ it to sound like I was shouting. R.K. Mullholland had a great “for you” comic, and I was parodying that.

          Oy, ya, sorry if I offend any gentiles around here. Didn’t mean to make fun of (one of the) halfway reasonable tenets of your religion (divine cannibalism? that I’ll make fun of!).

          Socialism as a dogwhistle term is a euphemism for communist/Stalin/Lenin. Whether or not calling Obama a socialist is actually accurate is rather irrelevant. It is intended to demonize him, rather than accurately characterize his views.Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    One competing explanation is that the racism is incidental, while religion is the driving force:

    Beginning in 2006 we interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 Americans as part of our continuing research into national political attitudes, and we returned to interview many of the same people again this summer. As a result, we can look at what people told us, long before there was a Tea Party, to predict who would become a Tea Party supporter five years later…

    Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials…

    So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

    More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.


    • Avatar Kim says:

      better, if you want to do that, to point to Type A Hostility, which strongly governs people choosing cult-like religions in latter life. It is a personality thing… Authoritarianism is a strong definer of the Tea Party, imnshoReport

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Kim, I’m very intrigued by this notion. Not ready to buy it yet, but I can be convinced. Where might I look to explore this concept further?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Psych literature for Type A Hostility leading to Authoritarian religion (check out pubmed, I think it’s publically available).

          As for authoritarianism defining about half the conservatives in the country… I judge that heureustically — people who actively get upset when their President expresses uncertainty. People who like things to be Kantian black and white. People who will follow their chosen leaders into many, many incoherencies. Plus, people actively voting against their economic self-interest.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              I love how the left manipulates broad terms of social psychology to marginalize their opponents. In the real world, ’tis they who are philosophically committed to expanding the reach of the state, and thus, are the true authoritarians.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … I’m not! I’m a cheerful leftie who wants to find the sweet spot — the place where we have the least amount of gov’t that works the best and most efficiently, while upholding my values (chief amongst which is equality of opportunity: I will not concede that one must bow the knee to some G-d in order to eat.)Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                It is very attractive to look for objective evidence and research and statistics showing that everyone who disagrees with you is crazy.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Authoritarian followers are not “crazy”. If I wanted to talk about crazy, I’d be talking about CEOs, most of whom are psychopaths (large corporations, not your friend down the street, natch)Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                I’d be talking about CEOs, most of whom are psychopaths (large corporations, not your friend down the street, natch)

                Citation that most CEO are psychopaths, please.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Google sociopath CEO’s or sociopath successful. It’s fairly known that many of the same qualities of a sociopath line up with those of successful CEO’s and politicians.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:


                Googling a definition doesn’t prove shit. If Kim can’t provide a citation she can always admit she was blowing hot air and got called on it.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                It’s in the damn job description — a CEO must make the decision that creates the most profitable outcome for their shareholders.
                If that means attacking your enemies with tanks, they’ll authorize it (assuming they have the tanks, which Sony does. and uses).
                If you told a CEO that killing a “rebel leader” would allow them to make 1% more profit for their stockholders, they’d do it — and if they didn’t, they’d get their pants sued off!

                “Death by spreadsheet” mean anything to you? (n.b. I’d rather cite BlueCross/BlueShield’s internal memos rather than Moore’s movie.)

                CEOs will blackmail their employees into working for them.

                N.B.: there are a few corporations this doesn’t apply to, mostly ones that have a decent charter (Costco and Google are the ones that spring to mind)


              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Could I get a cite on the Sony tanks? I’ve heard the rumor elsewhere in the last few weeks, tried some Googling, and came up empty. Both the possession and the use, if you please.

                Ditto if you have evidence that a CEO has been sued for failure to assassinate a rebel leader. (Or for failure to assassinate anyone, I’ll go easy on you.)

                And I’m still waiting on the “apple scabs cause cancer” thing. The source you provided said they were non-toxic and safe to eat, just unsightly. That’s hardly carcinogenic.

                Put these next to the weak evidence about 40-year-olds living with their parents, and you’re rapidly acquiring a reputation in my book as a fibber. One that I’d happily erase if you would source your claims a bit better.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The fact that sony builds tanks shouldn’t be under discussion. but the source for that should be sony’s prospectus, which should detail their military engagements.

                … most CEO’s don’t get sued because they are hired to be amoral and they do their job. If you want evidence of people getting sued because they are doing things that won’t lead to the most profit possible, look at how many lawsuits Google fields each year.

                Jason, you misread my source, which did provide evidence on aflatoxin’s carcinogenic properties — applescab is a surface defect, and while carcinogenic (as confirmed by my cited source, who was a noted apple researcher), is not a problem so long as you peel the fruit. Farmers ain’t about to sell you shit that’s gonna cause cancer — but they do assume you ain’t stupid.

                I cited Pew on 40-year-olds living in multigenerational houses, and they had it at 15% or so. I wouldn’t call that “fibbing” when I grabbed 20%. Now if I had said 33%, or 50%, fibbing would be more apropos…Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Kim, the fact that Sony creates tanks shouldn’t be under dsicussion because it’s so well known, or because it’s not relevant to the topic? Because if it’s the former, you and I have a different definition of “well known.” Mine includes more people, I can guarantee that.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                The fact that sony builds tanks shouldn’t be under discussion. but the source for that should be sony’s prospectus, which should detail their military engagements.

                I asked for evidence of Sony’s possession and use of tanks, and you give me this? Sorry, that’s pathetic.

                Can you understand why I’m skeptical? Here’s your last warning: Cite your source or I call BS on this one for good.

                … most CEO’s don’t get sued because they are hired to be amoral and they do their job. If you want evidence of people getting sued because they are doing things that won’t lead to the most profit possible, look at how many lawsuits Google fields each year.

                Oh, I see, a CEO has never been sued for failure to assassinate a rebel leader because they never fail to assassinate those pesky rebel leaders! Okay then — show me an assassination. Just one will do.

                Jason, you misread my source, which did provide evidence on aflatoxin’s carcinogenic properties — applescab is a surface defect, and while carcinogenic (as confirmed by my cited source, who was a noted apple researcher), is not a problem so long as you peel the fruit. Farmers ain’t about to sell you shit that’s gonna cause cancer — but they do assume you ain’t stupid.

                I’ll call BS on this one right now, with no possibility of redemption. I quote your source: although they might look unappealing to you, these apples are perfectly good for eating, tasting exactly the same and with the same texture as uninfected apples, without any toxin production at all.

                I cited Pew on 40-year-olds living in multigenerational houses, and they had it at 15% or so. I wouldn’t call that “fibbing” when I grabbed 20%. Now if I had said 33%, or 50%, fibbing would be more apropos…

                I’d call it fibbing when you use it as evidence that all of these folks are in the “underclass.” If they’re underclass, then so am I, and that’s ridiculous.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                There’s a decent case that Japan uses ordinary companies (ones you’ve heard of!) to build its Self-Defense Force (which, I might add, budgetarily funds mostly prototypes).
                Looks like howevermany tanks Sony builds, they certainly aren’t the prime supplier of them to Japan. (am I retracting what I said earlier? not really, as I heard it from reliable sources — but I’m not discounting that I misheard, and that what was actually going on was Sony installing electronics into Mitsubishi tanks — this explanation seems to fit better with my further research)Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                So Sony isn’t in the top 100 world arms dealers? And no evidence at all that they’re either building or using tanks? But you’re still not retracting what you said?

                I’m thinking someone needs to turn in her membership card to the Reality-Based Community.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Kim, you are odd, I have to say. So far in this thread, each source you’ve provided has contradicted the initial claim associated with it. So, your apple scab link shows that apple scab is not carcinogenic, or unhealthy at all, and you follow up with a link suggesting Sony doesn’t make tanks.

                Do you have any relatives named Blaise, by the way?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                do yourself a favor and read what I have to say, rather than strawmanning. I’m asking for someone to bloody well establish what people around here mean by underclass, and I listed a few “cultural differences” that might qualify. I expressed upthread a desire to hear someone who Isn’t Myself give a definition of what the middle class is (and what the underclass is, as well.)

                Using standard (old-school) definitions, I’m fairly certain I qualify as working poor, above poverty level. But then again, old-school definitions start middle class at $100,000 or so — and up.

                I don’t particularly like those definitions, so provide a different one!


                Investor reports are your friends. So too is wikipedia. I’m not citing phantom sources…Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                there you go. unblemished portions are safe to eat. you’re welcome.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:


                there you go. unblemished portions are safe to eat. you’re welcome.

                Good grief. Your original claim was “apple scabs cause cancer.” I asked you for a source, and the source you gave said “apple scabs are harmless.”

                Now you add a new source saying NOTHING either way. And that’s your evidence?

                With evidence like that, you might as well say apple scabs cause AIDS, too.

                And you have the gall to say “there you go, you’re welcome”? You should be ashamed of yourself.



                Investor reports are your friends. So too is wikipedia. I’m not citing phantom sources…

                I just read that entire investor report, and there wasn’t a damn thing in it about defense contracting of any kind. Much less about the corporation itself using tanks on anyone or anything.

                Kim, you are a liar. And worse, you’re counting on no one checking up on your lies. You seem to believe that just posting a link to something is enough to build your credibility, which sadly it isn’t.

                I’m done with you, because I can no longer trust anything you say. I urge others to treat you likewise. I wish it weren’t so. I really do. As Elias said, we could use more female commenters here, and I’m always happy to debate with liberals. Just not if they feel free to make stuff up as they go.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                I believe you mean “sociopaths,” not “psychopaths.”Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I’m told the literature doesn’t separate the terms well.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Aye, Mr. Duck. The academy’s psycho-social “studies” of their ideological enemies are simply ad homs gussied up with a veneer of scholarly legitimacy.

                When they start “studying” the pathological narcissism of liberals and their problems with their fathers, wake me.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … you’re Jungian, or are you Freudian?
                Dude, they study the inherent problem in trying to fix depression through talk therapy (put simply: it doesn’t work nearly as well as a simple exercise regimen). That’s a sign of a science that’s at least trying to verify that they’re doing good.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Kim, you write:
                they study the inherent problem in trying to fix depression through talk therapy (put simply: it doesn’t work nearly as well as a simple exercise regimen

                False. Like Jason, I’m starting to sense a pattern.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                drop me a citation or two? you don’t get to just say “YOU’RE WRONG!” You either say I Believe you’re wrong, or you say My Metaanalysis is Better than yours.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Well Kim, you didn’t supply a meta-analysis, or anything for that matter, so I find your criticism of my not doing so strange. Then again, any call for sources from you is rather rich, eh? I fully expect you to supply one that shows the opposite of your claim now, though.

                However, for my side, you can start with this one:


                What you will find in the literature is a bit complicated, but the gist is this: cognitive and behavioral therapy for depression is fairly effective, particularly when combined with drugs, and exercise therapy has been shown, in some studies, to be somewhat effective (perhaps as effective as some forms of talk therapy by themselves), though the methodological issues with most of the exercise and depression studies make it difficult to draw firm conclusions.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Thanks! Without reading it, i’ll concede the point, based mostly on the fact that my citation’s far older than yours [had it from a guy at WPIC who I worked with.]. (will read it when I have time).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Seriously, you must be related to Blaise.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                don’t know no blaise. Kim isn’t my name, either (what? like I have to use my REAL name? ‘least I’m not using Anonymiss)Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                There is a fair amount of OK to good research on political identification and personality. I don’t think it shows anyone to be crazy, though.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                …How are we defining crazy again? I’m fairly certain that homosexuality used to be DSM worthy.
                May I conjecture that craziness, as defined by paranoia and sociopathy, would have been a strategic asset for a Dark Ages Lord? [its within this vein of thinking that I’d say Ned’s fault was being too honorable and unsuspicious.] — there’s a reason craziness tends to run within noble families: it was a survival trait for many years.
                Chris, you ought to know as well as I do that the CIA has its own pet psychologists who specialize in identifying “craziness” in other countries’ politicians (anything for an edge, amiright?).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I really haven’t the slightest idea what you’re getting on about. At least, I don’t know how it relates to what I said. I used “crazy” because it was the term used in the comment to which I was responding. If you prefer, I can also say something more specific: there is no research suggesting that political identification is associated with a recognized mental illness or disorder. Instead, the research tends to associate political identification with personality traits and cognitive styles.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                my capacity for tangents is legendary. lol.
                More to the point: there are a variety of jobs that select for mental illness (including good psychologists: they tend to want to help, but many go into that field because they had troubles themselves).Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                As a non-clinical psychologist, I can say with the certainty of way more personal experience than I’d like, that clinicals are loopy.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            People actively voting against their economic self-interest?

            That’s stupid. Surely there are no interests that are not economic!Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              … should have stated something a little bit more pointed. people actively voting against their self-interest, even when such dramatically decreases their life expectancy, quality of life, etc.
              I may vote against my own self-interest (it could happen!), but so long as I do not destroy myself nor my finances, it is still a moral decision (i do not consider altruism to the point of stupidity to be moral).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I dislike it when people think that things that are obviously matters of taste are matters of morality and vote accordingly.

                It also bugs me when people get degraded to the point where they see things that are matters of morality and confuse them for matters of taste and vote in accordance with that.

                I suspect it’s because they’ve been deceived in the good cases or that they’re actively evil in the bad ones.Report

            • Avatar Scott says:

              Interests that aren’t economic? That is unpossible! Kim should tell those folks that they better get smart and become liberals.Report

    • Avatar Steven Donegal says:

      Does it really matter that the racism is incidental? It’s still racism.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        I have a difficult time explaining the anti-immigration sentiment of the Tea Party without racism. If they were really for the free market, I would not expect them to be against immigration, because a free labor market isn’t going to stop at the nation’s borders.

        Still, getting the movement’s underlying motivations right remains important; missing the religious dimension or neglecting it means we aren’t seeing the movement for what it actually is, and we may neglect or discount aspects of its agenda incorrectly.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “I have a difficult time explaining the anti-immigration sentiment of the Tea Party without racism. If they were really for the free market, I would not expect them to be against immigration, because a free labor market isn’t going to stop at the nation’s borders.”

          What people want is for everyone to play by the rules. Exploiting immigrant labor is not playing by the rules.

          That said, if you wanted to get rid of all employee-health-and-safety standards, along with things like minimum wage–that is, have no rules–then I’m sure that most Tea Party types wouldn’t argue about that.Report

        • Avatar Art Deco says:

          Maybe the Tea Partisans do not consider a country analagous to a hotel.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            I’d believe this a lot more if I hadn’t just recently had to spend time defending George Soros not being a foreigner (and somehow working more for hungary’s best interest than America’s. somehow).
            He’s been in America, as a citizen, for longer than I’ve been alive.Report

    • Avatar Jeff says:

      Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious Fundamentalist” elected officials, approve of religious Fundamentalist leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion Fundamentalism brought into political debates.

      They don’t want “deeply religious” Muslims or Hindus, and don’t even want “deeply religious” Mormoms. Hence, Perry over Romney. Also notice the anger toward black churches (how dare they criticize us for being racist?).Report

  4. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Does he feel nostalgic for the higher marginal tax rates of the America he grew up in? For the much larger labor union share of the workforce? The threat of global nuclear war? It’s difficult for me to evade the conclusion that on an emotional level, conservative nostalgics like Boehner are primarily driven by regret at the loss of social privilege by white men.

    That’s the boring, now-formulaic counter to opposition to multiculturalism, like the desire to return to the Founding principle of limited government is really a nostalgia for slavery.


    • I take it you don’t have a rational rejoinder, then.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        There’s no rejoinder for sophistry, Mr. Ephemeral. Equating opposition to multiculturalism [and an opposition to social trends that have splintered the nuclear family, per Moynihan] to racism or a nostalgia for “the bad old days” of the threat of nuclear war is simply invalid argument.

        • Avatar Kim says:

          jeet yet? yinz ain’t knowin’ more about multiculturalism dan dat bloke from new york, are ya? Lessn’ you think a Coke means a Pepsi… And if you can tell the difference between a pierogie and a philly cheesesteak, then maybe you get to talk about multiculturalism — while eating a po’ boy an’ some collard greens.

          Now that I have effectively rejoined against the contemporary myth that multiculturalism is a new phenomenon… (I’ll quote Chomsky if you don’t shut it).

          The concept of the nuclear family is also a new one, created by free land (homestead act and the FHA). Tch. It’s a policy created by racism, pure and simple (why else would we have driven the Indians off their land).

          I would in fact like to hear your explanation as to why the nuclear family (circa the 1950’s) should be considered the ideal. In my opinion, it is too fragile, too prone to leaving children without enough support, and entirely too exclusionary [herein, we think that your nuclear family does not happily include the asexual nor the homosexual].

          There is precious little evidence that Rome fell when they sent their sons off to war, yet most Romans were raised in a single parent household.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            why else would we have driven the Indians off their land?

            Technically, we were acting in our own economic self-interest.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            Take it up with the Moynihan Report, Kim. You’re entitled to your opinion, and so is John Boehner. One of you is wrong.

            In either case, opposition to multiculturalism is not a nostalgia for the threat of nuclear war. One idiocy at a time, Yglasias’ for the moment.Report

            • Thanks as always for raising the discourse, Tom.

              I don’t know where we’d be without epithets, followed-up by refusals to engage, leading to a beautiful close with yet more name-calling.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                My rejoinder is quite clear, Elias. I’ll say it for the third time: opposition to multiculturalism is not a nostalgia for the threat of nuclear war, or segregation or any of that stuff.

                You want to defend Yglasias’ fundamentally invalid argument, go ahead and try. Engage. But it’s you who just ad hommed me, not the other way around, sir. It’s your game that needs cleaning up, not mine.


              • Avatar Kim says:

                no, it is the artificial creation of enemies where there are none. Booga Booga! When you artificially create non-humans out of humans, and are nostalgic in the process, can we be blamed for thinking that you are nostalgic for a more Kantian universe, one where Nazis are TEH EVULZ?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “no, it is the artificial creation of enemies where there are none. Booga Booga! ”

                The irony is as thick as molasses.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                do you believe that we are at war with “wetbacks”? That most people “infiltrating our borders” would like to become normal american citizens? Do you believe that it is appropriate and civil to intimidate people into not voting with displays of guns and asking to see their papers, despite no legal basis for doing so?

                … ya, maybe we no talky bout same people. but some of the people on the right are artificially making bad guyz out of immigrants.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “some people” are always doing something, aren’t they? If we just get rid of those “some people” we’d be happy, joyous and free.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … and what do you suggest we do with the bullies? [100% serious question here. foreman’s out with the unions — that’s where we used ta stick ’em]Report

            • Avatar Jeff says:

              “You’re entitled to your opinion, and so is John Boehner. One of you is wrong.”

              Oddsmakers put it at 100-1 on Boehner, based on past obsverations.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            > It’s a policy created by racism, pure and
            > simple (why else would we have driven
            > the Indians off their land).

            Because we had guns and agriculture, and they didn’t have guns and (with a couple of notable exceptions) didn’t raise crops.

            The Hopi and Comanche and Creek and Salish could have all been white-and-blue-eyed as a Finlander, they still would have been screwed by treaty, shot and herded to marginal land.

            Sure, latent racist tendencies made that easier to execute (fear of the other), but humans are quite capable of screwing their brethren just because they’re there.Report

            • I’m not sure any examination of social and political attitudes towards the Native Americans in the America of the frontier/expansion period could rightly describe the racism as “latent.”

              The point that it’s always an unfortunate mixture of both ideology and self-interest is absolutely true, though.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                You gain better insight by noting that the racism was varied in tone and hue, and that certain populations seemed more of the “live and get along” variety than others. Pennsylvania makes the best example of the contrasting cultures on the European side, everything from Borderlander massacres to Quaker hippiness.Report

              • Oh, sure. I just meant within the context of those who would be doing the ethnic cleansing/plundering in the scenario you brought up. Manifest Destiny and all that jazz wasn’t defined by “latent” bigotry.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Fair enough.

                I argue that the bigotry was unnecessary (latent was poor word choice, I’ll grant). A contributory factor, certainly. But in and of itself, neither necessary nor sufficient.

                They had stuff. They were other. They were (relatively) weak, technologically. Somebody else wanted the stuff, and had the guns, and there was no authority in the West to prevent it.

                This is colonialism, but it’s also migratory humanism, and that predates colonialism by a long stretch… with basically the same behavior patterns.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            There is precious little evidence that Rome fell when they sent their sons off to war, yet most Romans were raised in a single parent household.

            Indeed, there is a viable theory that Rome fell when the Romans stopped sending their sons off to war and sent surrogates and mercenaries in their places.

            My understanding is that the notion of the nuclear family was meant as a contrast to the model of an extended family, in which a common household is made of several generations of people, their siblings and some cousins, and sometimes fosters. The size of a household is driven at least as much by economics as it is by culture, personal preference, or the happenstance of life events like illnesses and deaths, divorce and remarriage.Report

        • There’s nothing here about “multiculturalism”. That came from inside your head, not from anything that anyone else was talking about.

          The post was saying, “what are conservatives like John Boehner thinking about when he says that his America is being ‘snuffed out’? It was a time of much higher federal income tax levels, and, also, segregation.”

          The proper conservative talking point is, “oh, it has nothing to do with race! We don’t even know that race exists in America! It just has to do with [gay characters on sitcoms, or foulmouthed vituperative bloggers ruining our discourse, or increased belief in evolution, or whatever].”

          Instead, you’ve opted to go with, “oh, the nostalgia is all about race.”

          Which is an interesting strategy on your part, but not one that reflects particularly well on you, or the movement you’re ostensibly trying to defend.Report

    • Avatar BSK says:

      Yes, but in holding a desire to return to the founding principal of limited government, there is something explicitly for which they are longing. What are the Tea Partiers longing for? Clearly not the economic or political policies! So what is it? The music? The cars? The fashion?Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        I don’t know what “they” are longing for, but some of us who support limited government are looking forward to a dynamic future, not the stagnant, ultimately-conservative, reactionary, fight to maintain statism. In the history of domination and freedom, domination has always relied on a powerful ruling elite, while freedom longs to move forward in dynamic progress, unshackled from the grasp of the few who seek to control the many — but that’s just me, and people like me of all colors.Report

        • Avatar BSK says:

          That is all well and good, Mike, and I would stand by you in this. But, are you a Tea Partier nostalgic for the 50s? With all due respect, the goal here is to ferret out what people who are nostalgic for the 50s are really longing for. If you are not one of those people (and I am not one of those people myself), then what we long for isn’t particularly relevant to this conversation.

          Now, if you are a Tea Partier who is not nostalgic for the 50s but otherwise identifies with the movement, I’m curious what aspects of the movement you identify with and how you feel about affiliating yourself with people who are nostalgic for an era so different from what you strive for.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Can you show me a Tea Party statement that wants America to return to the 50s — this is something that has been spun into a fact. I don’t know of any party platform that calls for a return to the past — and what is also being spun is anyone who wants to limit government and stop spending is thrown under the TP umbrella and associated with radical, racist goobers. If the Tea party or any other group or individual wants to apply time-tested principles to government, this doesn’t mean they want to return to a racist past — that’s a Big Ass leap.Report

  5. Avatar BSK says:


    Can you define “multiculturalism” as you are using it? I ask because the cultures that are being opposed seem very carefully chosen…Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      BSK, we’re talking about a very general sentiment of nostalgia, which I began to flesh out [nuclear family, etc.]. I’m not sure I’m in the mood with Kim and Elias immediately down my throat before unpacking this. Such uncooperative [hostile] inquiry is just too much fishing work, man and leads nofishingwhere.

      My central point is that this general nostalgia is not a nostalgia for nuclear war, segregation, and all that crappy stuff. It’s an invalid argument, and a cheap trick.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        > My central point is that this general
        > nostalgia is not a nostalgia for nuclear
        > war, segregation, and all that
        > crappy stuff.

        Well, sure. That stands to reason. Nostalgia is pretty much by definition remember the good parts about the good old days while glossing over the bad parts about the hey they weren’t so good good old days.

        Nostalgia is a fishing bad way to approach public policy. It’s loaded with confirmation bias and observer error, by definition.

        You want to make fun of people for being nostalgic, that’s what you make fun of them for, right?

        Of course, trying to correct for the bias by pointing out how some of those good things were inexorably tied to some of those bad things is probably a much more constructive approach.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      There are two kinds of multiculturalism that I see being argued for “in the real world”.

      1) Ethnic food is good, ethnic music is good, ethnic holidays are good (ethnic holidays that involve booze are better), ethnic costumes are good, ethnic religions are fine within reason… basically, anything that would show up at Epcot (your country) is fine. There are a great many things that are non-negotiable if you wish to integrate into our culture, however, and you don’t get to even *TRY* to change them.

      2) We can’t judge other cultures. Men throwing acid into the face of women, girls being denied education, removal of the fun mommy parts while leaving only the baby parts… all that stuff is stuff that we can’t judge because our culture does bad stuff too.

      I’m a fan of #1, myself. We can hammer out the non-negotiables, if you’d like. Heck, we do every few years at the ballot box. (My problem with the latter is that you hear a surprisingly large subset of the people who publicly make such argument mocking, for example, southern accents… which makes me suspect that the argument is a tactic rather than representative of an actual belief.)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I’m of the opinion that we can judge other cultures… but only by looking a little deeper than just pasting a Kantian “that’s bad” because “my culture doesn’t do that” onto other cultures.

        I’m further of the opinion that many rightists employ projection to a distressing degree… “The Muslims are going to take over America and institute Sharia Law” when the Dominionists are trying to institute a Christian version. They literally seem unable to understand that other people might not think the way they do.
        [witness the kookabura about Soros’ “citizen of the world” remark. How different is that from I am a Berliner? — or Reagan’s Tear down that wall?]Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Do you really hear people arguing for the second though? Okay, let me rephrase that- outside of college students, do you really hear people arguing for the second?Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Also, assuming that there are these adult people who argue, “we can’t really judge female circumcision since our culture has obnoxious Axe Body Spray ads”, and depending on where you live, there might really be- do you think that any of their reluctance to say, “Holy shit female circumcision is a barbaric practice!” comes from having other people respond too many times with, “Yeah, I absolutely agree! So, why are you opposed to invading and liberating them?”Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            do you think that any of their reluctance to say, “Holy shit female circumcision is a barbaric practice!” comes from having other people respond too many times with, “Yeah, I absolutely agree! So, why are you opposed to invading and liberating them?”

            Since Obama got elected? That motivation seems to have disappeared… but maybe it’s because the Right has rediscovered isolationism/non-interventionism.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Imagine, if you will, a thread about… oh, I dunno… honor killing.

          I post a post to the front and talk about a foundation in Great Britain that is dedicated to fighting the scourge of honor killings there. I come up with any number of really juicy stories. So-and-so murdered by her brother after she dates a white guy at Oxford. Such-and-such killed by her father for talking with a white guy (they weren’t even dating, he later told The Sun in an interview, she and I were just talking about The Bend It Like Beckham movie!).

          Easily imagined, right?

          Now imagine this: As the first comment I leave for my own post, I could say “this post is an experiment… I want to see if anybody leaves a comment that points out that domestic violence happens in the US too.”

          Given all that:

          How long do you think it would take for someone to leave a comment that points out that domestic violence happens in the US too?

          I’m guessing an hour.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Do I get bonus points if I reference Amish and Shunning?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Did you see that?

              Tell me that you just saw that.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I think she was making a funny, Jay.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                First there is a mountain.
                Then there is no mountain.
                Then there is.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                You should have posted a video.


              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Tangent: Is “Kim” a she? I have no gender association with this commentor.

                I bet Jaybird’s experiment would yield an unironic result in about the ten-minute frame, if it was a front page post. Certainly less than an hour.

                Definitely if we had an influx of readers from elsewhere.Report

              • And thus the enduring debate over whether people on the internet say/think stupid things would finally be resolved.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Once again: My comment was written in response to a direct question.Report

              • Just b’in your b’s, J.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                hmph. Guess it shows that male is the default around here. (and that I’ve been watching my tongue, as you aren’t calling me a teenaged boy). Considering I started posting around here about being a fem who read y’all’s stuff, I think you have your answer.Report

              • (We desperately need more female commenters, imo.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Didn’t make the correlation.

                I didn’t say I defaulted to thinking of you as male, remember. I know a few Kims of the not-Jung-Il vein, and I know a few Kims of the Kimberly vein. So unless you threw out gender-associated pronouns describing yourself, I just don’t presume to know.

                Well, that and I know more than one guy who goes on the Internet as a female, and vice-versa.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I would never have thought that a Korean would use their last name as a moniker. They have about nine last names in the country — it’s not very distinctive. [learned about this while working on medical records.]Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “Tangent: Is “Kim” a she? I have no gender association with this commentor.”

                As I wrote before, writing styles are sort of like finger prints. That’s all I’m saying. But, the bottom line is I don’t care. Commenters like “Kim” aren’t interested in open debate — they come to represent the oppressed. Bless them, for they seek justice.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Can’t I be both? I do wish to represent the oppressed, in some degree, via citing contemporary research. That isn’t to say that I’m not interested in kibbitzing about what “middle class” means, or about who are the Real Victims in a Multicultural Age [think southron rednecks gotta point about bein’ the only people it’s still acceptable to make fun of.]Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            So did you post this? Or are you saying you want to post it and see what happens? Cause we could run the experiment, and bet on it if you’d like. I do think someone would probably make that comment about domestic violence in the US. I also think within the same hour you’d get at least one comment saying, “The ‘religion of peace’ indeed! Yeah, right!” Maybe I can bet a dollar on one and you can bet a dollar on the other.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Oh, I know that people would post the “religion of peace” argument. Without a doubt.

              I was addressing your question of “Okay, let me rephrase that- outside of college students, do you really hear people arguing for the second?”

              I think that my post answered that question pretty affirmatively, yes?Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I think so. Maybe I’m too optimistic. When someone asks what are people like? I usually think of what they say and do in the off-line world and really that probably just applies to the handful of people I know.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In the off-line world, I consistently find myself surrounded by conversations about The Broncos, Our Nobel Laureate President, or movies like “The Help”.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … lucky you. I find myself in conversations about Hines Ward’s dancing, and the price of random electronics, or why they don’t have automatic checkouts at wallmart.

                [online, the millionaires they talk about how to get the most Costco samples in the least amount of time, and when it’s best to show up for least checkout line.]Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                (uh-oh… this is how every single “Freaky Friday” movie started)Report

      • I think you’re right; I also think multiculturalism has in essence nothing to do with this conversation. As best I can tell, Tom seems to think African Americans are holders of a culture so different from (his? ours? whose? unknown) as to rightly have their behavior viewed through the multicultural prism.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          an’ dat’s why I’m makin’ fun of him. Cause I like me some collard greens, and some pole beans — and so too did my mother in law, who was white, and lived in the mountains, where blacks were discriminated against.
          he’s being a goober (and if you’ve read any linguistics about Ebonics, you’ll know just why I chose that term).Report

        • Avatar KenB says:

          I don’t understand this comment. Isn’t the whole point of multiculturalism to honor the cultural differences within a society and fight against homogenization? Aren’t all the “ethnic studies” departments typically grouped under the “multiculturalism” umbrella? People on the Left talk about african-american culture, chinese-american culture, etc., all the time.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Southern rednecks don’t count, though, because they’s the anti-culture nostalgics hoping that the good ol’ days will return and we can all be right with Gawd.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              … this is why I liked Obama’s means-tested Affirmative Action. “southern hillbillies” have been hurt by discrimination and inability to get education, if not just as much as black folks have, at least enough to get SOME help!

              Southern Hillbillies also have the interesting tendency to absorb other cultures into their own, and “white-ize” people. They’re quite capable of creating a “white society” by sheer force of will — look at Jim Webb’s family if you don’t believe me. (and that’s why that Macaca thing played so well, Jim Webb played up “guest right” and “I spoke for this man”)Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            Yes, but we only want the EPCOT version of other cultures, the ones where people from other parts of the world have charming traditions, colorful traditional garb, big friendly smiles all over their faces, and interesting food to sample. We don’t want to see them oppressing their minorities or disfavored groups. We don’t want to see them inflicting pain on others for any reason or passing on versions of morality that vary significantly from our own to their children or refusing to accept our superior and benevolent Western technological rationalism. Real multiculturalism would mean tolerating things we don’t like.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          Kim’s using Ebonics. Way to raise the level of discourse, Elias.

          Had I been permitted to proceed at the adult level—in which you’re clearly disinterested—about what this nostalgia really means [and not Yglasias’ caricature of it], I would have used the Moynihan Report as a jumpoff point to the social pathologies that have infected all races. They called him racist, too, you know. The song remains the same.

          My use of “multiculturalism” here was not about Cinco de Mayo becoming more popular than St. Patrick’s Day. It’s about the nullification of long-standing American cultural and social norms, to the point that they are not considered just obsolete, but risible.

          But fine, Elias. Let the infantile ebonics riffs stand because your ideology agrees with Kim’s. But no more puffing about the level of discourse.


          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            Misogyny, racism, child abuse, and genocide all used to be part of American social and cultural norms. Thankfully, they’re considered risible today.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Not cultural norms, Mr. Ewiak, as much as phenomena common to every other culture on earth as well. Human phenomena, we would say, and minimized most by culture here in the West, less thoroughly in other cultures of the world even today.

              There’s an astonishing lack of clarity and perspective hereabouts today. Must be the August heat.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Are you familiar with the borderlanders? In America, they practiced child abandonment, wife-stealing, feuding, beating children to death, all while being part of your treasured Western Culture.

                Contrast this with the Quakers, who were generally good folk (aka didn’t practice incest, among other things we’ll ascribe to the Borderlanders), believed in fiscal discipline, and even got along decent with the Indians.

                Cultural norms in Colonial America varied widely, and the trait continues to this day. (if you look up the difference between a Southern Lawyer and a northern one, you’ll see the difference right quick!).Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            TVD, I am not an expert at AAVE, and I do not pretend to speak in that dialect. I do however collect various dialectal usages, and used several within that post and the one above.

            And you’re still a goober.

            Longstanding American Cultural and Societal Norms:
            1) Like Women being subservient to Men? Because that hasn’t been the case in the Jewish subculture, either in the old country or the new.
            2) Like Incest? That has been a consistent cultural modifier of the Borderlanders in the old country and the new.
            3) Nuclear Family? Something that was hardly present in the old country, and in general not present in large portions of America pre 1900 (link posted above).
            4) Alcoholism? there was a reason for prohibition – men would drink, and their wimmen and children would starve.
            5) Fiscal Responsibility? see alcoholism above.

            This should be FUN!Report

          • Avatar BSK says:

            But, TVD, why is the nullification of those norms and values always see as caused by “other” cultures. Maybe our own culture is changing from within? Yes, as new people and new cultures come, there is going to eventually be a shifting in the center. Which way it goes depends on those people, those cultures, and, most importantly, our response to them. But that is only part of the reason for change. A lot of the change happens from within. And to scapegoat others under the guise of opposing multiculturalism is unfair and wrong.

            For instance, one of the arguments put forth with regards to the breakdown of the nuclear family has to do with LGBTQ folk. My experience has been that LGBTQ in this country get, by far, their greatest support from white Americans (as compared to African-Americans, hispanics, immigrants, etc.). Now, a response to that might be, “Yea, but they are getting their support from a SUBculture that is distinct from what the dominant culture has been and, thus, being accommodating to that is embracing multiculturalism.” However, that essentially posits that anyone who doesn’t adhere to the cultural norms as they were X years ago is a member of a separate and distinct culture. Which basically makes progress impossible if one opposes multiculturalism. Throw in the fact that, as others have pointed out, these cultural norms themselves are the result of progress (in the sense that they have come about over time and have not always been) and that many cultural norms were set when groups were explicitly forbade from participating in the setting of norms, and you see just how problematic this line of thinking gets to be.Report

            • Avatar BSK says:

              To summarize, if your argument is that everyone who supports or practices norms and values other than those the Tea Partiers or whomever are nostalgic for are promoting multiculturalism, you are defining the “battle” in such a way that only you can win. Which renders the whole conversations useless.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Pretty much useless, BSK. I was simply clarifying that nostalgia isn’t racism.

                I have attempted to expand my use of “multiculturalism” in the American context, which isn’t the same as Europe’s. The “culture” war is indeed largely internal, the extant social order and conventions vs. the counterculture’s rejection of them.

                In the end, most any defense of convention is bound to fail. I fully expect to lose, not win. Every status quo falls in its own time, to be replaced by something either better or worse: progress, tyranny, or anarchy.

                The historical record is quite mixed.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                But your evidence of nostalgia =/= racism was that nostalgia may be grounded in an opposition to multiculturalism. When I push you on exactly what the cultures are that are being opposed, you call my statement useless? Jeez man, even for you, that’s bad.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                BSK, since I have clarified my meaning but you have not engaged it, both our time is better spent elsewhere.

                I don’t know what happened to you. We used to have very productive discussions, where each would read the other charitably and discuss cooperatively, not adversarially. Must be the new environs. A shame, BSK.

                I don’t see how a fellow like yourself would have any trouble seeing where I’m going with this, if the Moynihan Report is my starting point, as I said it was.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                Where did you define multiculturalism? Again, you seem to insist on playing this game where you simply refuse to be explicit in your dealings. I don’t know why, but it gets in the way of any potentially meaningful discourse.Report

              • Avatar BSK says:

                I’ve done a bit of amateurish research on the Moynihan Report (if looking it up on Wikipedia suffices as such). Honestly, I’m having trouble seeing how it connects to the issue of the nostalgia of Tea Partiers. I’m trying to follow the bouncing ball, but every time I think I have it, it seems to bounce in a new direction.

                Your argument seems to be that the nostalgia is rooted in a longing for a time when certain social norms and values dominated. Included among these were the strength of the nuclear family. You adhere to the theories put forth by Moynihan that the struggles in the black community have to do with a departure from the nuclear family, which you believe has spread beyond the black community into other groups. Do I have that right?Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        Jaybird, I’m late on this, but hope you see my response.

        Let’s suppose you wrote that article. I would agree and support you in an endeavor to end the practice of mercy killing. What I would not do is support you or anyone else who attempts to make the leap from saying, “Mercy killing is wrong. Some Muslims believe it to be a tenet of their faith. Those who adhere to this faith should be denounced,” to saying, “See? Islam and all its followers are bad and want to kill women.” Now, I don’t think you’d make this leap. But how long before you think we see that in the posts? Probably a lot quicker than the post you theorized about.

        I am not one for cultural relativism. Some things are objectively wrong and bad, no matter who is doing them. Denouncing these things is right. Denouncing the people who do these things is right. Denouncing the ideology that people adhere to when they do these things is right. But such denouncement ought to be done with a scalpel, not a chainsaw.

        My hunch is that the people who might make the posts you speak of (and I very well may be one of them), often do so to point out the hypocrisy in the chainsaw approach. People say, “See? Some Muslims use honor killings thus all Muslims and Islam itself is wrong.” When someone says, “Well, some people here in America beat their wives. Does that mean all Americans are wife beaters and that America is bad?” they are not necessarily attempting to equate the two acts. Often, they are attempting to say, “The ultimate logic you apply when discussing the other could just as easily be applied to us. If we would object when it is done to us, we should refrain upon doing it to others.”

        But I’m sure you get all that. And, yes, there are crazies who would say, “We have no right to tell others what to do. Freedom of religion and blah blah blah” or “Let’s not talk about female circumcision over there when we have parents giving kids bad haircuts here!” But these are crazies. And should be regarded, or disregarded, as such. Fortunately and unfortunately, they are a local minority. Just as the people who want to lump all Muslims (or blacks or Jews or hispanics or immigrants or foreigners or whatever) together because of the actions of an identifiable few.

        I also think there is another form of multiculturalism that doesn’t fit into your two categories, which is the one I ideally subscribe. It is generally founded upon the idea that we are all served by expanding ourselves. Not only does research show we are less likely to submit to the darker sides of human nature (e.g., tribalism) if we have first hand experiences with the other “tribes”, but our lives are generally enriched when we are exposed to new and different things. All cultures should be honored, respected, and encouraged to bring the positive aspects of their worldviews and customs. Likewise, all cultures should be open to hearing criticism on the practices that others might find problematic. In the end, each may choose what they take or reject, from their own cultures and those of others. But at least a free exchange of ideas, a communal respect for others, as individuals and as members of a group, are what I think about when I think about multiculturalism.Report

  6. Avatar Scott says:

    Last night I was listening to NPR last night when they interviewed Julian Bond about the MLK memorial and the second question was about the Tea Party being racist. What is so pathetic about the left is that instead of trying to understand why folks are pissed they just ascribe everyone’s motives to racism so they can just write them off.Report