“Aren’t all Muslims suspect?”


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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115 Responses

  1. When a Western leader claims that the latest batch of Islamic terrorists don’t speak for Islam, he isn’t defending Muslims, he’s defending multiculturalism. He assumes that Muslims believe in multiculturalism because he does. — Daniel GreenfieldReport

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      And when a commenter make the argument that all Muslims are like the one he sees on 24 and Homeland, he’s pretty much admitting he’s never really met any.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        All Muslims believe that Allah is God (indeed, the only deity) and believe that Mohammed was Allah’s prophet.

        All Muslims believe in an interventionist deity.

        All Muslims believe that Allah speaks, when He wants to, to people.

        Which is weird because if you start saying that sort of thing about Christians, you’re making some sweeping generalizations, there.Report

      • Tod,

        I think he meant the generic “you” and is actually agreeing with what you’re saying.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @jaybird The first one is false, they believe Mohammed was his last prophet. Aside from that, similar things are as true about Muslims as they are about Christians and Jews. Replace Mohammed with Jesus or Abraham and you’re in the same ballpark.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Mo, I know some folks who don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus (nor in the resurrection of Jesus) who consider themselves “Christian”.

        I know! I tried to tell them that they weren’t but they were adamant.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Ya’ll just a bunch of heretics, iconoclasts, or some other form of deviant from the Church of St. Peter.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:


        I know Muslims that doubt that God gets involved in human activities and talk to people. I would guess that I know a lot more Muslims than you*. My point is that there’s as much diversity in Muslim beliefs as all religions of comparable size/age.

        * No offense intended, I was raised in a Muslim household see family in the middle east and went to mosque every Sunday growing upReport

      • Avatar James K says:


        I think you’re conflating what people officially believe and what they actually believe. All Christians officially believe in the divinity of Jesus, but not all Christians actually believe it. What you outlined is what all Muslims officially believe, not necessarily what all Muslims actually believe.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think it would be fair to say that the strain of “Clockmaker God” is much smaller in Islam than in Christianity or Judaism. I think this has more to do with the Liberals of the Islamic world choosing to be “too secular”, way back when “Clockmaker God” was popular. (Reform Judaism wasn’t exactly the most popular back in the day, either, but it didn’t get /as much/ backlash).Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Ya’ll just arguing about who has the best imaginary friend.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Didn’t God’s last prophet found Utah or something?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Bahai is more recent than that.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmith says:

        Mo, why would you go to mosque on Sunday when they meet on FridayReport

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @wardsmith because I had school on Friday and my parents had work. So religious school/mosque was on SundayReport

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “When a Western leader claims that the latest batch of Islamic terrorists don’t speak for Islam, he isn’t defending Muslims, he’s defending multiculturalism. He assumes that Muslims believe in multiculturalism because he does. — Daniel Greenfield”

      Your point being?Report

      • Avatar The Sanity Inspector says:

        Meaning that such myopic apologists for Islam are neither an adequate guide to nor shield from the dangers posed by radical jihadist Islam.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Never been to American, have you, Mr. Sanity Inspector. Perhaps you might start there, if you wish to learn a bit about “radical” islam.Report

  2. Avatar j r says:

    I am having a hard time processing that this is an actual Fox News broadcast and not some comedy show doing a sketch about how absurd Fox News is. I am being serious. Are you punking us?Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Note also that there is another meme circulating in the rightosphere, which is proffered in response to the drop-dead obvious claim that “this advocates discriminating against people on the basis of their religion.” The meme is: “Islam is not a religion. It is a political ideology, an ideology of conquest.”

    Again, not something that survives more than superficial contact with an actual Muslim in real life. But that’s what’s circulating.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Burt, I agree that in general the idea doesn’t survive contact with real life. The exception would be the politically-oriented right-minded Christian who internally never confuses his or her own religion with a political ideology, when in fact it is. So…. maybe they have a point.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      Neoconservatism’s a political ideology of conquest. What should we do with the neocons?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Well, if you could the current neocon to step down we’d have Biden as President, and then we’d be off to the gates of hell. I was happy when we were only bombing five countries.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “Neoconservatism’s a political ideology of conquest. What should we do with the neocons?”

        Parachutes blossom in the skies of Northern Iraq as the First Neocon WarMonger Brigade is pushed out of transport planes and thrust into battle……………………with their own skins on the line.Report

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Oh, that’s just because they’re working out that “Freedom of religion’ protects religions they don’t agree with.

      Ergo, Islam must not be a religion or else it’d be worth of respect, first amendment protection, etc.Report

    • Avatar Barry says:

      “The meme is: “Islam is not a religion. It is a political ideology, an ideology of conquest.””

      Note that the same could be said of Christianity.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Now, I do think that the profiling of American Muslims is spectacularly stupid. Out of all of the problems we’ve had with people who self-profess Muslimity, how many of them were citizens?

    Not a single one comes to mind.

    Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t any potential problems with Muslims who happen to be on American soil… but, you know what? I’d be willing to bet that the ones who would make trouble aren’t citizens.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Well, Nidal Hasan.Report

    • Avatar The Sanity Inspector says:

      We are certainly more successful than Britain and the Europeans in assimilating Muslim immigrants and accommodating their customs. But there have been quite a few home-grown holy warriors who have gone over to The Jihad; Colleen Rene LaRose, Zachary Adam Chesser, and many more over the past decade. Think of all those Somali refugees who have gone abroad to join the war.

      And before anyone starts with a round of whatabouttery, Timothy McVeigh was 20 years ago, and he was not a Christian, and no one tried to minimize or excuse his crime, the way proggs do with jihadists.Report

      • Avatar Lenoxus says:

        I’d be interested in an example of serious liberal talking-heads excusing terrorism rather than disagreeing with the response. Indeed, a much more common tactic is the opposite, to suggest parallels between Islamic extremism and neoconservatism (with respect to religious fundamentalism, violence, sexism, et.). Regardless of whether that line of argument has any merit (I don’t think it does), it’s about as far as you could get from sympathy with terrorists.Report

      • It seems worth mentioning that the two individuals you specifically referenced here would have been able to avoid almost any conceivable mode of “profiling.”

        Also….something about the zeal of the convert.

        I’d also like to see some support for the assertion that “proggs” generally minimize or excuse jihadist crimes. NOTE: There is a rather large difference between minimizing or excusing a crime and disputing the extent of the threat of future attacks by others.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        and he was not a Christian despite him never saying that he was not a Christian.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “Timothy McVeigh was 20 years ago, and he was not a Christian, and no one tried to minimize or excuse his crime, the way proggs do with jihadists.”

        Yes, he was – Christian Identity. He didn’t talk it up until afterwards.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “If you were looking for a fugitive who was a white male over 50 years old, you’re going to profile; you’re not going to look for someone who’s 21. I know there’s a delicate balance between liberty and security, but there’s no other way to do it…”

    I’m sorry, my @tod-kelly , but there is MUCH to object to in this logic.

    If we knew we were looking for a particular brown-skinned Muslim man of a given age, you could analogize it to looking for a particular light-skinned man man of a given age. But that isn’t what they are advocating. They are advocating scrutinizing every brown-skinned Muslim-y man of any age because, hey, they’re all bad anyway, right?

    That logic is awful. Hateful. Bigoted. And many, many other objectionable things.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      I dunno. We need to prevent serial killers, so let’s profile middle aged white men.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      They are performing logical sleight of hand. If you have specific information that the guy you are looking for is a white male over 50 years of age, then only looking at white males over 50 isn’t profiling. If you have no particular reason to believe that the guy is a white male over 50, but you assume that of course he is because you think that probably most perpetrators are like that, then this is profiling. The sleight of hand is taking something that inoffensive and sensible, and which isn’t profiling but has just enough similarity to profiling that people might not think about it; call it profiling; and conclude from this that all profiling is inoffensive and sensible. (The logic is flawed: the conclusion doesn’t follow even were the premise true. But we don’t get that far.)

      In fairness, I am entirely open to the possibility that the person making this argument isn’t bright enough to understand the fallacies. The answer to “stupid or evil?” is often hard to determine. Fortunately, it also doesn’t much matter, so we need not expend much effort on it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      @kazzy I think this is a good example of what Dennis is getting at in his Redskin piece.

      Is the logic poor? Absolutely. Is it bigoted? Possibly, depending on the person. Is it hateful? Maybe for certain people, but it’s doubtful.

      Stop for a moment and take the phrase you just copied — not the subtext you choose to assume is there, just the actual words on the screen. You’d be hard pressed to call those words hateful. In my younger days, I was occasionally sent to the airport to pick up some business mucky muck from the airport, and I might be told “he’s 50, balding, a little short.” I wouldn’t waste my time with asking some 21 year old guy with a back pack if he was the guy I was looking for. That wasn’t out of hate.

      What I don’t think most liberals understand is that to a lot of conservatives, the scenario I just described is exactly what “don’t profile” arguments sound like to them. And speaking as someone who agrees that we shouldn’t profile, I have to say that a lot of liberals I hear make the argument actually do sound like that.

      True story: Like most cities, Portland police occasionally release APBs to the press for suspects of particularly heinous crimes where the public might be at risk. In the 90s, the local news stations bowed to pressure from the community and ceased to give descriptions of anyone of color other than gender and approx age. The effect was getting two different kinds of bulletins. If the suspect was white, a full description including artist sketch or photo would be offered. If the suspect was not white, it would be “a male in his 30s,” even if a full description and photo or artist sketch was available.

      Because of this, I actually do have some amount of sympathy for people who buy into arguments like the one you copy-pasted. No, the logic doesn’t flow from there to where the Fox analysts were going, and yes, if people took the time to think about it they’d get there. But sometimes, when those same people have been told over and over that they are racist for not getting why the new stations can’t show a photo of a dangerous criminal they need to be on the lookout for because he isn’t white, it’s a little easier for me to see why they don’t bother taking the time.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “In my younger days, I was occasionally sent to the airport to pick up some business mucky muck from the airport, and I might be told “he’s 50, balding, a little short.” I wouldn’t waste my time with asking some 21 year old guy with a back pack if he was the guy I was looking for. That wasn’t out of hate.”

        But that is still a very different scenario than what they are advocating. If you were told to pickup “Mr. Jones, Acme’s CEO” and only asked white dudes if they were Mr. Jones, THAT would be akin to the type of profiling they are pushing for. And that profile is rooted in stereotypes. And the ongoing perpetration of stereotypes in spite of evidence to the contrary — stereotypes that do active harm to an already-marginalized group of people — is wrong any way you slice it.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        @Kazzy: If you were told to pick up Mr. Jones, a Fortune 500 CEO, and you know that only 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are minorities, would it be morally wrong to only ask white dudes if they were Mr. Jones? Would it be more effective at identifying Mr. Jones than asking a random cross-section of the airport?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @kazzy Yes, I know. Which is why I described it as being poor logic.

        I think you’re missing my point, which is this: Empathy isn’t something that we should demand only travel in a single direction.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        If you were given that information and that information was verifiably true, sure, use it to your advantage. A major problem with profiling is that it is often based on misinformation.
        In what way am I indicating that empathy runs one way?

        I do wonder if we might be talking past each other because of a difference between intent and impact. I think you might be addressing the intent of the speaker of those quotes — which might very well be free of active malice, hatred, or bigotry — while I am speaking to the likely impact of their words — which lands heavily with harm, hatred, and bigotry.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @kazzy Again, I think you are missing my point.

        I’m not suggesting that you are making an argument that empathy should go only in one direction.

        I’m saying that dismissing people who don’t approach a topic in the same way that you do as ipso facto “hateful” — without bothering to take the time or effort to see where they might be coming from and instead using preconceived caricatures of them to fill in the picture — is itself non-empathetic.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Understood. Let me ask: How much engagement do I need to have with people who hold a particular view before I can describe the view itself (as opposed to the people) as hateful? I try not to be knee jerk and I generally do not dismiss people whole cloth, but I have gone ’round and ’round the profiling discussion and find that any way you slice it, it perpetuates hate. So I’m comfortable saying that quotes like the one you offer are hateful by their very nature because of the inevitable conclusion they lead to.

        I’m willing to parse those words more carefully going forward though to avoid the appearance of dismissing people or regarding them as inherently and/or intentionally hateful.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @kazzy “Let me ask: How much engagement do I need to have with people who hold a particular view before I can describe the view itself (as opposed to the people) as hateful? I try not to be knee jerk and I generally do not dismiss people whole cloth, but I have gone ’round and ’round the profiling discussion and find that any way you slice it, it perpetuates hate. So I’m comfortable saying that quotes like the one you offer are hateful by their very nature because of the inevitable conclusion they lead to.”

        Well, if you’ve made the leap from “racial profiling is wrong” to “even the individual bits of logic that are improperly lined up are themselves hateful on the basis that only bigots use them,” then I’d say that there’s probably not much reason to engage anyone. (Except perhaps to yell at them.)

        I think we are talking about different things, but I’d put it rather differently than you.

        As I said up above, I don’t think liberals are always particularly good at articulating why profiling is inherently wrong. But I do think that they are too often aces as telling anyone that disagrees with them about anything that those people are hateful bigots, and are then satisfied to leave it at that. (Hell, I think that’s pretty much BJ’s entire modus operandi.) And that has an impact that doesn’t necessarily line up with a clear line of who is and isn’t a hateful bigot.

        And don’t misunderstand — that doesn’t mean that profiling is any less wrong. It is absolutely wrong, period.

        It does mean that sometimes when liberals lose the battle for individual opinions on a controversial topic, yeah, it might well be that that the person who they didn’t convince really is a hateful bigot — but it also might be that liberals made a poor argument, lacked the tiniest degree of empathy with there person they were talking to, and lashed out at someone who simply isn’t as well informed as them simply because it felt good to do so.

        You and I might disagree as to whose fault that is.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I think I get what you’re saying. Thanks for breaking down the argument.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        @kazzy : I think you and Tod have already hashed this out. But most of the people I’ve talked to who support profiling were coming at it with the assumption that this information – the profile – was available and credible. Which is why I think their argument was rooted mostly in (flawed) logic and not in hate. I’m sure there are some people who, even after realizing that such information was not available, would continue to support profiling simply because those people deserve it (or whatever hateful thoughts). But I don’t think that’s the dominant argument.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I think as soon as the double-standard is exposed but not accounted for, you can begin to legitimately question motives. If I were to ask the above quoted whether they’d support profiling ALL middle-aged white men and they respond with, “Well, that’s different,” then we can begin to ask about what is different and if the difference is that middle-aged white guys are this and Muslims are that and it is okay to profile the latter and not the former, we’ve got textbook bigotry on our hands.

        Maybe we’re talking to different people, but that sort of broad-based profiling is exactly what I see advocated for. It is what is advocated in the quoted section (they are not discussing a specific suspect) and it was what was advocated for with racial profiling during traffic stops (wherein blacks were stopped more frequently because, hey, black people are criminals).Report

  6. Avatar Patrick says:

    There’s an old saw in the security realm that profiling only works as long as you control the fact that the folks under the profile continue to match the profile.

    Well, devout Muslims never shave their beards. All Islamic fanatics are devout Muslims. Ergo, we’re good on the beard thing.

    Until we aren’t.

    Well, we’ll profile on Muslim males under the age of thirty. That’ll work. We’ll focus our security attention on them.

    Until they get wise and start putting bombs in somebody else’s luggage.

    The Israelis profile! Why can’t we?

    Well, the Israelis profile on a behavioral profile, not a racial one. They have two major airports, not several hundred. They get nowhere near the number of man-hours of air travel time we do.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      Well, the Israelis profile on a behavioral profile, not a racial one.

      Yes and no. Everyone flying El Al goes through a mini-interview, but if you are arabic-looking that interview will be much more scrutinized a priori. If on the other hand you claim you’re Jewish, the interview also consists of a series of quiz questions about the faith: who is your rabbi, where is your temple, what do you do on the high-holidays, etc. And if, like me, you are a secular Jew and your answers to those questions are “I’m a secular Jew” then you’re almost guaranteed a special screening. I get why they do it, but I found the process to be very unpleasant and much more invasive – on a psychological level – than the ol’ Rapiscan.

      The people on these panels clearly assume that profiling isn’t going to effect them. But I really wish more Americans had the El Al experience, because I think they’d realize that being interrogated about their religious convictions every time they board a flight isn’t actually something they want for their country.Report

    • Avatar James K says:


      The economists’ term for this phenomenon is Goodhart’s Law. Ignore Goodhart’s law and you get the stagflation of the 1970s.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Profiling based on lines of communication is probably the most effective way to do it. After all, if you can’t get data from one person to another, you really can’t organize anything.

      This is why the CIA/FBI trade more in information than in “profiles.” Nobody gets whitelisted because of how they look.Report

    • Avatar The Sanity Inspector says:

      Until they get wise and start putting bombs in somebody else’s luggage.

      They’ve already done that. One Jordanian tried to blow up an El Al flight in the 1980s, by putting a bomb in his pregnant white girlfriend’s luggage.Report

  7. Fox News: Where internment is the most anti-fascist thing FDR ever did.Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      Best line on the Internet this week.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Well, some Republican governors tried to stop the internment, screaming that it was wrong, but FDR and the people in California and Washington state were adamant about it.

      The question, again, was worries about divided loyalties, since the Emperor of Japan was also regarded as a deity. One of the issues with the radical or hard-core Muslims is that they believe (and it’s beyond mere belief – they know) that Allah’s law supersedes all man-made law, and that governments that don’t uphold Allah’s law are illegitimate. This can create extreme problems with assimilation if allowed to fester, as it has in many places in Europe.

      If nothing else, we should perhaps round up all the Shias, as my Iraqi Sunni neighbors are pretty sure they’re agents of the devil. Of course the Shias think likewise.

      In any event, the Arab world is collapsing and the repercussions will be as significant as the Great War, if not more so.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        Though California Governor Culbert Olson (D) spoke out against internment.Report

      • Yes, Republicans were generally speaking a lot more likely to be the voices in the wilderness on internment, not least of them being none other than Robert Taft himself. Which makes Fox News’ praise of internment all the more staggering.

        And if there were a way to profile only for “radical” Islamists, the profiling issue would probably be a different story altogether. I think you’re reversing cause and effect in suggesting that radical Islam is what causes assimilation problems rather than that assimilation problems increase radical Islam. Otherwise, there’d be roughly as many Americans fighting for ISIS as Britons; instead, there are about 5 times as many Britons fighting for ISIS.

        In any event, the Arab world is collapsing and the repercussions will be as significant as the Great War, if not more so.

        With this, I mostly agree. I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say “as significant as the Great War,” but I wouldn’t rule that out as a possibility. Regardless, it does certainly seem to be the case that the established order in that part of the world is on the verge of collapse, if it hasn’t collapsed already, despite the counter-revolutions in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

        OT, but for the record, my strong disagreements with you aside, I’m really happy to see you back around here, George.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        And California’s Republican AG and gubernatorial successor to Olson, Earl Warren, was all in favor of internment (although later he regretted it, after he’d moved left as a Supreme Court justice).

        Please, George, you’re doing just the worst job of defending conservatives today.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Egypt is one of the first countries to destabilize because of global warming.
        No genocide… yet.Report

  8. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Yes, this is deep into creepy territory. Seriously, arguing that internment camps for Japanese people were a good policy, years after the government has apologized for it and recognized that it was unconscionable to imprison and dispossess many of their own citizens without charges or evidence? Arguing that anything done to recognize Islam in the same way we do other religions is a bad idea because a small number of Muslims are violent radicals?

    This isn’t even about security. Not having the White House recognize Muslim religious holidays has nothing to do with security. This is just bigotry, and dangerous bigotry at that.

    If I thought that these people had any good faith whatsoever, I’d recommend that the way to examine one’s views on racial profiling is to consider whether they’d support the government treating all conservatives and libertarians as threats because one right-wing radical committed an act of terrorism (as has happened before). The problem with all too much of conservatism today is that they don’t oppose government overreach at all, provided it’s directed at people who aren’t like them.

    These people’s ideas aren’t being spewed by a fringe like the BNP. They’re being put out, without any criticism, by America’s major conservative news network. This is the kind of thing that makes the United States scary. These people are one step away – if that – from recommending concentration camps.Report

    • Avatar James K says:


      The only part I take issue with is the “today” part of conservatism today. Consider that the Dixiecrats only started up their catchcry of “States’ Rights” when the federal government stopped imposing their chosen agenda (like the Fugitve Slave Act) and started to do things they didn’t approve of. The intellectual descendants of those very hypocrites now control the Republican Party.

      The Republicans are the party of small government rhetoric, not the party of small government.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Actually no, the intellectual and biological descendants of the Dixiecrats still vote for the party of Jefferson Davis. Did you guys have a complete turnover up North, because there wasn’t any shift down south until the 1990’s.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        George, please, that’s utter nonsense.

        The south began to shift Republican with Strom Thurmond following the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Although most southern politicians remained Dixiecrats at that time, that was largely for historical/cultural and pragmatic reasons.

        Culturally, the south is a traditionalist political culture, which meant in part that older politicians generally weren’t challenged by younger politicians in their party, and so the southern political leaders were generally older, and more closely connected to the history of southern treason (just kidding, I support the right of secession). They had grandparents who’d fought in the war, even parents who’d experienced the immediate aftermath. For them, the party of Lincoln was still too much to stomach, even as they began to hate their own party.

        Pragmatically, seniority still ruled in Congress, and by seniority the Dixiecrats held a lot of committee chairs, but only so long as they remained in the majority party. Any one who switched would lose their chairmanship. And the Democrats held the majority in the House from 1955-1995, the longest stretch of single party dominance in either of the houses in over a century. But during that period they supported Nixon and Reagan over their own party–Reagan had a working majority in Congress, although not a formal party majority. And when the Republicans took the majority in the House–led by a southern Republican who, like Dixiecrats, was a social conservative, and wisely offered the Dixiecrats the chance to keep their chairmanships, they accepted and shifted en masse, but this formal, de jure, party shift only ratified the functional, de facto, shift that had been on-going for 3 decades.

        The southern Republican party today is the home of the Dixiecrats and their descendants, and the shift was a process that ran from 1964-1995. No amount of hand waving can obscure that reality.

        And, yes, it did have effects up north as well. The Dixiecrat shift into the GOP strengthened the hand of the GOP’s anti-government social conservative wing, which has driven moderates out of the party. The old Yankee liberal Republicans are a rare breed these days, and my two hands aren’t enough to count all the former Republicans I know who’ve left the party.

        And this has resulted in the greater polarization of D.C. politics. In the old says, Dixiecrats could talk to conservative Republicans, and northern Dems could talk to Yankee Republicans–both parties being divided meant there were more inter-party linkages. Back in those days, staff people mingled at parties, and could even switch between parties they worked for (so long as they didn’t do it too much). Today, mixers tend to be one-party only, and the moment a young Capitol Hill staffer announces their party affiliation, they’re bound to it by an absolute wall of rejection on the part of the other party.

        If we had a party-list proportional system, this polarization might work well, because the upside is that it does make each party more internally, ideologically, coherent. But we don’t have that, and in a system where we vote for the individual rather than the party, I don’t think it’s healthy, because we have no functional way to discipline the parties. We can’t throw “them” out, we can only throw out our own representative, and usually folks are satisfied with their own representative even while dissatisfied with their representative’s party. That’s a recipe for parties not being accountable, and in such a case I think two parties that overlap a lot is an important constraining factor.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Can I stand up and yell, “Wooh! Wooh!” now?

        Eff it. I’m going to do it anyway.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        Thank-you, @james-hanley , for that coherent account. Serious kudos.Report

      • James,

        With your permission, I might bookmark this comment and offer it to anyone who brings up that old saw you demolish here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I’m not sure you need my permission, but it’s kind of you to ask, and I certainly have no objections to you doing so.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I’ve bookmarked it without his permission. He’s just gonna have to live with me using it. 😉Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        It’s like he’s some kind of, I dunno, political scientist or something.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        The trouble is, the party switching in the South didn’t happen in the 1960’s, when civil rights was a big issue. It didn’t happen in the 1970’s, when the only notable switchers (national office) were Trent Lott, Bob Barr, and Elizabeth Dole. A few did switch later, mostly due to national security and other issues, such as Condoleeza Rice and Jean Kirkpatrick, who switched in 1982 and 1985, but by and large, not many notable politicians ever switched, and those that were Democrats prior to the 1990s just retired or died off, as did their supporters, since the average white voter from the Democrat segregated South simply died (although many are probably still voting D).Report

      • George,

        James explicitly addressed that point.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Well, what he didn’t address, and tried to perpetuate, is the myth that the Dixiecrats were the ones who switched. Aside from Strom Thurmond (who hooked up with a black girl), they are the ones who refused to switch and kept voting for the DNC, while more and more whites who’d never cared for segregation and had just voted Democrat out of regional loyalty or family history went ahead and jumped ship. The first defectors were the upper-class businessmen and professionals who’d always wanted to hire black workers but were afraid they’d lose all their white customers. That slowly continued as the South became more and more industrialized and technology oriented, supplemented by the drawing of large numbers of Republicans from elsewhere to the warmer climate, along with the massive federal contracting centers in the space industry. Those who still haven’t switched are generally union members who don’t want open competition from black workers and older rednecks who can’t tell you exactly why they vote Democrat, just that their family would never ever vote for a Republican.Report

      • Avatar Lenoxus says:

        Although I’m a liberal Democrat, I like it when conservative Republicans insist the parties never changed and go on about the Democrats being the party of slavers, the KKK, and segregation. In principle, it means they’re consciously embracing an anti-Confederate, anti-segregationist self-identity, and this might influence them to try outdoing modern Democrats on anti-racism, rather than clinging to meek defenses of racists.

        I want there to be a Southern Republican presidential candidate who routinely burns Confederate flags, saying “Take that, Democrats! The South should never have tangled with you.” Also, a Democrat should do the same thing, without the anti-Democrat language. And I’d like a yacht.

        I suppose that some conservatives could resolve the apparent contradictions by saying that the 1964 Civil Rights Act basically fixed everything; hence whenever Democrats afterwards talk about the continuing problem of systemic or cultural racism, they’re guilty of overcorrection, anti-white bias, and cynical anti-black condescension. “Democratic plantation” and all that. Ick.Report

      • @george-turner This seems very ahistorical. I think we can concede that most Dixiecrat politicians remained Democrats for quite some time, as @james-hanley discusses. It’s even possible, perhaps likely, that the first Southern White Democrats to vote Republican were anti-segregationist business owners. However, it’s silly to suggest that these were what flipped the South from Democrat to Republican – if anything, this group was voting Republican before 1964.

        But it was only in 1964 that there was a massive shift in southern voting patterns. In a single election, the South went from being a region where a Republican Presidential candidate hadn’t won more than a single state since the Hayes-Tilden election to being a region where it went almost entirely to a Republican even as every other state in the country, save the Republican’s home state, supported the Democrat by a wide margin.

        This of course was just four months after the passage of the CRA, and the Republican candidate in question, whatever his decency in many other respects, was amongst those who opposed the CRA, while the Democratic candidate spearheaded its passage. The Republican candidate’s opposition to the CRA then became a significant campaign issue, although not necessarily something he was pushing.

        In 1960, Nixon received 73,000 votes in Mississippi, Kennedy 108,000, and the Dixiecrat unpledged elector campaign received 116,000. In 1964, Goldwater received 356,000 votes in Mississippi while Johnson received only 52,000. Georgia went from being 458,000-274,000 in favor of the Democratic candidate in 1960 to being 616,000-522,000 in favor of the Republican. Indeed, Goldwater roughly doubled or more Nixon’s vote total in every single state in the Deep South, and improved upon Nixon’s vote total in every single state in the Confederacy (though in some cases, Johnson improved upon Kennedy’s performance in those states by an even greater margin).

        Voter turnout across the South increased significantly despite the likely landslide for Johnson (compared with the narrow 1960 election), but especially in the Deep South, even as it stayed roughly the same or even decreased in the rest of the country. Hell, voter turnout in Alabama even increased by about 20% despite the fact that Johnson wasn’t even on the ballot.

        The low turnout in the South despite the competitiveness of the 1960 election was obviously a function of the fact that both parties’ candidates supported the CRA, and the sudden huge increase in turnout, the overwhelming majority of which went to Goldwater, can only be explained by Goldwater’s opposition to the CRA.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Between 1965 and 2009, 22 members of the House of Representatives switched parties while in office. 14 of those 22 were southern Dems who became Republican (15 if we count Oklahoma as southern)–that’s an awfully large percentage combining one region with one direction of change (and no southern Representative has switched from GOP to Dem). These switchers include SC’s Albert Watson, a segregationist and supporter of Strom Thurmond; Tom Robinson of AR, “closely identified with the Boll Weevils”; Nathan Deal of GA, who sponsored legislation to prevent children of illegal aliens, born in the U.S., from gaining citizenship, not exactly a liberal policy; Greg Laughlin of TX, identified as a conservative Democrat; Billy Tauzin of LA, who “felt shut out” by liberals in the Dem party, and who claimed when he switched that conservatives were no longer welcome in the Dem Party”; Mike Parker, considered conservative even by southern Dem standards, who didn’t endorse his own party’s southern(ish) Dem presidential candidate (Clinton) and voted “present” in the 1995 Speaker of the House election instead of voting for his party’s candidate (Dick Gephardt); Virgil Goode of VA, who first switched to Independent, then Republican, and then (after he was out of Congress) to the ultra-conservative Constitution Party–he opposed Keith Ellison being sworn in using the Koran, and worried that more Muslims might be elected to Congress, as well as complaining about immigration from non-European countries; Ralph Hall of TX, who called himself “”an old-time Conservative Democrat.”

        On the Senate side, there was of course Strom Thurmond; Harry Byrd of VA, who as a state legislator engineered a program of resistance to integration; Richard Shelby of AB, a boll weevil. No other southern Senators have switched parties: period.

        Finally, you might want to ponder why, if the Dixiecrat crowd still votes Dem, and it was their opponents who moved to the GOP, why southern blacks–who initially were all Republicans because that was the party of Lincoln–now vote solidly Democratic instead of Republican? Is it because they’re Dixiecrats? Is it because they like being in a party with Dixiecrat-type folks?Report

      • I thought Byrd remained a Dem. Did he go GOP and then back to Dem again?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        different Byrd. The one you’re thinking of is Robert Byrd, from West by god VirginiaReport

      • And now that I’ve refreshed…..Kim is correcting me…and she’s right.

        I need to take a long, hard look at myself.

        (((slinks away, head down in remorse and shame)))Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I thought Byrd remained a Dem. Did he go GOP and then back to Dem again?

        To everything there is a season, but that would’ve been ridiculous.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        The appeal of Goldwater was that he uttered the phrase “state’s rights”. He could’ve been a black man and Southern Whites would’ve chose him over Johnson, despite Johnson having voted against every single civil rights bill to come up during his Senate career, until the last one.

        After Democrats had their big “transformation”, coming out against racism after a history of race-based human slavery, Jim Crow, barring blacks from federal employment (under Wilson), and segregation, did any of the Southern Democrat politicians who led such efforts get thrown out of office? Nope. They went completely unpunished until they eventually retired, because Johnson gave the blacks enough welfare to get them to switch parties, as he infamously went on and on about.

        Meanwhile, the racist Democrats in the North, who’d been accepting of Southern Democrats for a hundred years and who’d spent their time building ghettos for black Southern arrivals, kept right on building monstrosities like Cabrini Green, rewarding their pals with lucrative contracts to build all new roach-infested slums. They’re still at it in places like Chicago.

        What happened, over time, is that while Southern Democrats were conservative, like Democrats in other vast rural areas, the Democrat party became dominated by urban liberal interests, alienating old constituencies. Even today, in a strongly liberal state like California, there is a sea of red with blue cities. The Democrats lost the South because they couldn’t hold the Southern cities once they became the urban liberal party of Boston, Berkeley, Chicago, and Detroit.

        In the past decade conservative Democrats have been purged (see Joe Lieberman), and luminaries like Sam Nunn are long gone. That was intentional, because the numerous Blue Dog Democrats who survived 1994 were later targeted in primaries by coalitions of progressives, anti-war groups, and what-not. A few elections ago the House and Senate used to be filled with them, so they limited their membership to 20 percent of total Democrat seats to keep from getting watered down. After several internal purges and defeats, there are only 15 left.Report

  9. Avatar James K says:

    The thing that makes this look like racism to me is that the commentators are glossing over an important question: What does a Muslim look like? Islam is a belief set – believing it doesn’t cause you to develop a crescent-shaped birthmark on your forehead or anything.

    The world’s largest majority-Muslim nation is Indonesia, but somehow I don’t think the Fox pundits were thinking of South-East Asia when they were talking about profiling Muslims. That’s one of the problems here, they’re not talking about profiling Muslims, they’re talking about profiling Middle-Easterners wihtout really acknowledging the difference.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Are you kidding? The DoD won’t accept any Dell computers made in Indonesia because of security risks. Military Dells have to come from the US or Ireland.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        The DoD is a funny place.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        The DoD won’t accept Dell computers made in Indonesia? So they don’t buy Dell desktops any more? Dell no longer has manufacturing facilities in the U.S. aimed at desktops, except the leftover acquisition bits from Alienware.

        If this is, or was, true, this is probably not law, but a now-outdated policy, and it’s probably because some bright boy got the idea to lobby on behalf of American/Irish manufacturing in an area where the WTO won’t come down on them like a bag of bricks for imposing tariffs.

        All Dell machines everywhere have Intel chips. Those chips are manufactured in China, Ireland, and the U.S., but they’re assembled and tested in Malaysia, Israel, China, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and the U.S. I would bet you a dollar that nobody tracks provenance of every chip that goes into every machine. The Dell OpenManage software runs on almost every Dell machine regardless of where it’s manufactured and that software project had outsourced components.

        Shorter: I don’t think this was a security decision. It was security theater.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Nothing could fix the dreaded Capacitor Plague.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Actually there was a good reason. It turns out that at the same time the DoD was prohibiting computer purchases from certain countries, the NSA was inserting modified (pre-hacked) chips into Dell and other computers that were being shipped to people they wanted to spy on. They preferred to do this right on the assembly line, but also had a deal where Fed Ex or UPS would take shipments from the factory to the customer and divert them for special post-assembly processing. They couldn’t accept the risk that the Chinese would be doing exactly the same thing to computers being shipped to the DoD.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        They couldn’t accept the risk that the Chinese would be doing exactly the same thing to computers being shipped to the DoD.

        Except if you look at the whole supply chain, the Chinese can still do precisely that, given that a substantial chunk of the processors go through part of their build cycle somewhere other than the U.S. or Ireland.

        Not to mention the fact that we spy on NATO countries and they spy on us, so there’s no real reason to presuppose that Ireland is any safer than any other country.Report

    • Avatar Lenoxus says:

      Zakaria makes some excellent points. Sometimes I like to fantasize about conservatives turning around on immigration by making outreach and acceptance into an all-American “let’s beat Europe” thing. Sadly, the xenophobia is stronger than the nationalism on this one.Report

  10. NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

    It’s interesting how casual anti-asian racism rationalizations are also allowed on a major cable news network. Can you imagine if someone said that say, Jim Crow was legitimate for whatever reason and that we should model some new set of laws on it? That person would (or at least SHOULD) be removed from hosting duties and their panelists never invited back. I mean, is this really all that different from what Derbyshire was saying about racial realism?

    It’s disgusting.Report

    • @nobakimoto

      Sadly, I can imagine someone saying not that, but something a lot like that, in certain situations. Maybe not with no pushback, but with too little pushback. It would probably be something along the lines of, “well, everyone was happier when people kept with their own kind. Those laws might have been a little extreme, but they were just a reflection of reality.”

      Fortunately, I don’t have any examples. Just that I can imagine it being said.

      Not to say that anti-Asian racism isn’t a thing, too, and in its own way probably a little more publicly accepted, especially when we’re talking about West Asians.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto says:

        The sad reality right now is that you’re more likely to get suspended from a media gig for calling Roger Goodell a liar than you are for defending one of the most inarguably fascistic things done by the US government in the last century.Report

      • To be fair, my understanding is that Korematsu hasn’t been officially overturned. Not that I’m happy about that (if I’m right).

        I remember at a bar sometime in 2005 or so, and talking with a neo-con guy who was defending the Gitmo imprisonments, and part of his defense was “well, that’s what we did to the Japanese during World War II.” Even though the analogy doesn’t hold precisely, it’s very hard to argue with someone who endorses that kind of logic.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Buck v. Bell is still on the books, as are Wickard and Kelo.Report

      • Buck v. Bell is on a par with Korematsu. But in my opinion, Wickard and Kelo, whatever one’s views of them aren’t.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Korematsu hasn’t been officially overturned.

        Yes, but only because there’s been no similar case that would create an opportunity to overturn. Which is good, in that it means our government hasn’t done that particular shit since.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:


      If you all were more scrutable, we wouldn’t have to profile.

      (Too soon?)Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      Can you imagine if someone said that say, Jim Crow was legitimate for whatever reason and that we should model some new set of laws on it?

      Yes. Yes I can.Report

  11. Avatar George Turner says:

    Here’s a Fox episode to complain about.

    Daily Mail story about Fox talking about Major Mariam Al Mansouri, who led the UAE fighter squadrons in her block 60 F-16 (the US Air Force doesn’t even have those) against ISIS.

    When you’re wildly more sexist than the air force of the United Arab Emirates, you’ve set some kind of record.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Wow. Had not seen this.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      I think it’s interesting that one day The Five is talking about how all Muslims are suspect, and the next day many of the same people are talking – extremely boorishly – about how great it is that an Arab woman is sockin it to ’em. Basically, it seems to me like The Five is meant to be sort of a re-enactment of the political debates going on at the local pub right around last call, where everyone’s had enough suds to start generalizing. It’s that time when people start talking about how enough is enough, after all, and we need to really start smashing the state like they used to; or how maybe Cuba is dictatorship but at least they’re not wage slaves like us Americans; etc. etc. I’ve never seen this conversation from the conservative side, but it seems to get into the territory of internment camps aren’t all that bad when you got a war to fight and what if we drop some hot babes with machine guns into the middle east to really freak out the Muslims. Which is all well and good for the bros down at Harry’s who sleep it off and are non the wiser, but it’s a shame that there’s a network news channel that devotes several hours a day to re-enacting this stuff.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        completely ignoring the fact that it is absolutely Islamic for women to fight in the military. Even the most literal of reads of the Koran concludes “women should be fighting in the military.” That’s why they’re in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and in many other military forces in the region.Report

  12. Avatar Kolohe says:

    We should have been profiling on September 12, 2001. Let’s take a trip down memory lane here. The last American war we won, we put Japanese Americans in internment camps… so yeah, I think profiling would be at least a good start.

    By the way, I don’t remember us putting Grenadians in camps. And if Fox thinks we didn’t win that one, they need to take it up with Clint Eastwood.Report

  13. Avatar Barry says:

    George Turner September 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm
    “The appeal of Goldwater was that he uttered the phrase “state’s rights”. He could’ve been a black man and Southern Whites would’ve chose him over Johnson, despite Johnson having voted against every single civil rights bill to come up during his Senate career, until the last one”

    First, ‘state’s rights’ means ‘slavery and white supremacy’. Second, you find me a black man who got southern white votes in that time frame.Report