On Giving Speeches to White Supremacists

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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  1. Avatar CK MacLeod
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    This is one of those things that seems absolutely obvious in contradictory ways to the mainstream and to the excluded group. It seems absolutely obvious to just about almost everyone that White people or Euro-Americans shouldn’t be going on about how great and/or besieged White people or Euro-Americans are, just as to certain “Euro-Americans” it is absolutely obvious that they have exactly as much good reason to get together and build unity and defend their rights – including to their right to get together and build unity and defend their rights including… and so on – as any other conceivable ethnic or ethno-national or vocational or political or economic or social etc. group.

    Viewed apart from a very particular history – that also happens to be a central and defining history overshadowing our era, so impossible or not yet possible to remove from any responsible or acceptable view – this is or would be a very strange contradiction in our political culture, all the more so considering the pre-eminent role of voluntary associations in American history, in creating the reality of America, as has been recognized as fundamental at least since De Tocqueville.

    The erosion of the American post-WW2 consensus, which is in many ways fervently sought by progressive groups who see it as the basis of imperialism, interventionism, exceptionalism, and so on, and so on some more, may naturally produce, both motivate and allow or produce a space for, the return of this particular repressed orientation: At the moment that White Christian Male Straight privilege is overthrown, or to the extent that it is, the argument against White Christian Patriarchal self-assertion loses power, and becomes the basis for its resurgence or re-assertion – thus also the widely observed paradox of the Obama Era in regard to racial politics.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      C.K., are you in academia?Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to CK MacLeod
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      @ck-macleod

      There were plenty of people on the farther right who were opposed to the post-WWII consensus as well. Rick Perlstein covers this well in Before the Storm and subsequent books. Many were from the self-described Old Right and rallied around Robert Taft in 1952 instead of Eisenhower. They were second generation Midwestern Industrialists who disliked the old East Coast elite and can very much be seen in the Palin supporters of today and have largely taken over the Republican Party.

      Thought it depends on what this group means by Euro-American. Even though white American has extended to mean various white ethnic groups like the Irish, Italians, Polish, Greek, and others who largely came over during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I doubt they would be welcome at this gathering. Same with Jews who are more or less considered white Americans now as well (but not always and not always by themselves).Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @Saul DeGraw

        The Old Right and the kind of people who would have been America Firsters didn’t just disappear when the the US went to war. The Cold War then gave a large number of them sufficient reason to join in, even while taking time out to standing athwart and yell. Eventually, the split on the right became intolerable, and the Birchers and others on the far right fringe were sent into the wilderness where they would dwell alongside other radical non-conformists.

        As for how specifically EURO defines itself or its identity, I haven’t the foggiest. I suspect they devote some significant attention to the question somewhere. I don’t believe we are generally supposed to be uninterested in such details, but they can sometimes be surprising.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      The reason, @stillwater, that I said what I said and in the way that I said it (bite me, Professor), is that we are not dealing with identity politics in general, but with a particular unique problem within identity politics. The paradox, or what is frequently called a paradox, in the Obama Era was already evident in the Obama candidacy, the crowds cheering, with a lack of irony itself ironic, “Race doesn’t matter!” The country was taken to have made a symbolic gesture of some importance in favor of a “post-racial” political culture, but appears to have undergone heightened racial polarization (see comments below as well). Another version of the same paradox is that, in this culture or under this particular dynamic – of a suppressed political identity as the one proscribed identity and also the supremely problematic identity – to defeat that identity is to strengthen or reinforce it. There are parallels in Europe, though they in another way they are not so much parallels as expressions of the same historical problem.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        bite me, Professor

        You should strive for such clarity in all your writing. I’m proud to have spurred such a concise statement from you.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        I dunno CK. I’m just not seeing any paradoxes here.

        The paradox, or what is frequently called a paradox, in the Obama Era … The country was taken to have made a symbolic gesture of some importance in favor of a “post-racial” political culture, but appears to have undergone heightened racial polarization (see comments below as well).

        I dunno that that’s the case. I think the big backlashes occurred prior to 2008, the first beginning in 1865 and the second beginning in 1964. What happened after 08 was part of a continuum that began with Nixon, in my view, in which very consciously appealing to the resentment of whites became politically acceptable.

        Another version of the same paradox is that, in this culture or under this particular dynamic – of a suppressed political identity as the one proscribed identity and also the supremely problematic identity – to defeat that identity is to strengthen or reinforce it.

        I’m not sure I agree with that either. My guess is that blacks would generally agree that they are better off now than they were in 1963 or in 1865. That’s just a guess, of course, but I have a hard time believing that they’d prefer an institutional arrangement denying them the vote or allowing them to owned as property by another person. I say that tentatively since I’ve enever heard black people say they were better off as slaves. But I have heard white people say it! 🙂

        I get the dynamic in play, tho: as power accrues to one group whose goals are antithetical to the goals or values of another group, and those groups are identified by pretty trivial surface characteristics (like skin color), the group whose power has been so diminished will be motivated to not only reclaim that lost power, but perhaps even punish the group for challenging their existing power in the first place. I don’t find that paradoxical, tho. What I see is greater balance in the distribution of power over time. COnsider the women’s rights movement. Plenty of backlash, plenty of resistance in real time, plenty of success for women. Not as much as they might like, but certainly more than they had prior to (what was it?)1916, say.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        The country was taken to have made a symbolic gesture of some importance in favor of a “post-racial” political culture, but appears to have undergone heightened racial polarization

        Well, that’s the kind of confused analysis that results when people make the mistake of confusing the actions (in this case votes) of a bunch of people with “the country” doing something. Break it down to a meaningful level of analysis–the individual level–and the supposed paradox disappears entirely.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        James,

        TO defend CK on this, I actually agree with him that there is something paradoxical-like in the quest for political power which is achieved by at least perceived by the outgroup as diminishing their power. IF it were the case that as the pendulum of power swung radically between antithetical groups each of which punishes the previous power holding group to the extent they were worse off than before they attained power, then I think his argument would make sense. But as it is, in this country, white males have always held power, in the past unilaterally (as a group, and I know you hate group talk!) while more recently that power has diminished and is shared. So the paradox of identity political achievement would only be realized if white males attained power not only sufficient to put women and blacks back in their powerless places, but actually acted on that power. I don’t think that’s very likely. It’s as close to an social impossibility as anything I can imagine.

        (that isn’t to say radical oppression might not arise in other forms!)Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        @stillwater, @james-hanley

        Never made and wouldn’t seek a comparison to the ’60s, either 1860s or 1960s. The impressions to which I’m referring are widely held and somewhat well-evidenced, for instance in the shifts in polling among whites vs blacks on racially tinged questions in the present period as compared to the period before Obama took office, and also as evidence in voting patterns (which the Professor partly acknowledges then oddly discounts in relation to characterizations of the state of “the country,” in favor of “the individual level,” whatever that means).

        Or here – an observation I ran across as nearly the first item in a Google search on the topic:

        Consider one measure of polarization on the right fringe of the political spectrum. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, monitors extremism by tracking radical groups. The number of groups associated with the antigovernment “Patriot” movement increased enormously during Obama’s first term as president — by 813 percent — from 149 in 2008 to 1,360 in 2012.

        The author goes on to note a relatively small but still significant decline from the 2012 levels, but suggests that immigration politics seem likely to heighten polarization along another axis.

        http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Racial-polarization-has-grown-5980233.php

        As also already noted, Tod and Patrick’s argument reflects the same pattern, which amounts to an article of faith in some quarters on the left. In the meantime, to describe the conflict between the two parties as simply racial or, somewhat more broadly, a question of white patriarchal privilege is already to adopt a prejudicial position. From the Republican or conservative perspective, leaving aside the fringe for the moment, the argument is between the party of color-blindness (them) and the party of racial (and other) preference, racial division, race-baiting, race-hustling, and so on. I won’t try to sort out that argument here, though it probably should be noted that, from the fringe position, the process is seen as clarification, or proof of what they’ve been saying all along. On this one point, they have the same article of political faith that the center-left has.

        As for Stillwater’s observations in both of his most recent (as I write this) comments on the durability of progress, a breakdown of national consensus wouldn’t mean a reversion to pre-Civil Rights, much less pre-Civil War, politics and society. It wouldn’t be a uniform process, not if it means continued political-cultural fragmentation, even alongside efforts to enforce or synthesize national unity along other lines.The impetus to the former is hardly one-sided – as when, as I believe was discussed at this blog, the very left liberal Michael Tomasky called for, ahem, segregating the South politically. It seems that a lot of what most of us here consider or up until recently considered out-of-bounds is finding its way back into fair territory.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        If you stop trying to use “the country” as your unit of analysis, there’s no paradox at all. Some individuals thought an Obama presidency signaled a post-racial America–that’s about their expectations, what they perceived as a new characteristic of America; it’s not an actual measurement of a new characteristic of America.

        Some other individuals thought an Obama presidency signaled white doom, or some such, and reacted accordingly, and so demonstrated that the expectations of those other people were incorrect (or at least premature). There’s no paradox, or even anything paradox-like, in two different sets of people acting differently.

        The paradox only seems to be there when we look at the country as our unit of analysis, because it’s too gross a unit–it contains within it too many individually acting units to be a good unit of analysis in a case like this. Countries don’t think, don’t have expectations, don’t react to presidential elections, only people do.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to CK MacLeod
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      One of the most common ploys of the group in power is to proclaim that it has lost, or is on the verge of losing its power, thereby justifying oppressive measures in the name of “self-assertion,” or group preservation. This is at least a large part of what we see during the Obama era: a reaction not to an actual threat to power and privilege, but the use of a symbol that can be interpreted as such a threat as a means to reassert and solidify power and privilege never really in doubt.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris
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        The other side of the dynamic is that the dominant group justifies their continued oppression of outgroups as a form of justified preemptive self-defense against that outgroup ever attaining power based on the rationale that if the outgroup ever did attain power power they’d oppress the dominant group with the exact same level of prejudice.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris
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        One of the most common ploys of the group in power is to proclaim that it has lost, or is on the verge of losing its power, thereby justifying oppressive measures in the name of “self-assertion,” or group preservation.

        Thi precisely describes the rationale for the secessions that occurred before Lincoln’s inauguration.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    I was considering writing a piece about Scalise myself, but I like this perspective much better than anything I was likely to churn out.

    Of course, we must be careful to not assume that because Scalise spoke to this group, he agreed with its objectives. He’s being tagged with a weak and implicit endorsement-by-association; by speaking to the group he impliedly stated “These people [white supremacists] are people in the community whose political support I want.”

    That strikes me as a substantively different thing than the converse statement: “These people [Hindus] are NOT people in the community whose political support I want.” Which, if that was really what was being communicated by the politicians who failed to appear at the Hindu temple declarations, would be way worse in my mind than what Scalise did.

    But I don’t think we can infer the worse converse statement from failing to attend the opening of a Hindu temple. It’s easy to imagine a public official really did have other commitments at any particular time. Which doesn’t explain why they wouldn’t send a letter or a field representative or something like that, I understand.

    An absence of endorsement does not imply a disclaimer, and an absence of endorsement is not the same thing as an implicit and subsequently disclaimed endorsement, is what I’m saying.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      “These people [Hindus] are NOT people in the community whose political support I want.”

      I don’t know that anyone explicitly said that or even thought that. I have my weakly founded suspicions that they may have thought “the risks of being seen with this community outweigh any benefits I am likely to get from associating with it.” And that might have even been a correct calculation on their part.

      an absence of endorsement is not the same thing as an implicit and subsequently disclaimed endorsement

      I agree. This was meant to be a more here-are-my-personal-feelings post than it seems to have come out. The absence of endorsement is something I noticed, and is lodged as a data point in my head, however unfairly.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Regardless of Scalise’ actual beliefs, its not good form for an American politician to appear and speak at a white supremacist event, accept if doing a counter-protest type thing, from simple expediency grounds. This is especially true if your a white politician from the South. At the very least, you know that the other side is going to pounce on this if discovered.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    I don’t believe Scalise’s denials for a second. He was well aware of who David Duke was (he was a pol in Louisinana, where Duke had recently won the GOP nomination for governor), and he had been quoted only a few years before saying that the real problem with Duke was that he was unelectable. (I’d say it was that Duke was an unprentant Nazi, but potayto, potahto.) And Duke himself says that he and Scalise have had many contacts and Scalise knew that the EuroAmerericans were his group. So long as Scalise is lying about that, why should we cut him any slack?Report

  5. Avatar Patrick
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    says:

    Regardless of what Scalise knew or didn’t know, it’s an incredible sign to me that the GOP maintains him as Minority Whip.

    Just as a political observation.

    There is no upside to this, other than to appeal to the “anti-PC-police” folks, and there is an incredible downside as it feeds right into the existing, ongoing narrative about how the GOP is either at worst monumentally racist or, at best, entirely tone-deaf about minority concerns.

    Some political sins require atonement, and speechifying to white supremacists is one that nationally is going to be viewed as repugnant enough to warrant eternal sackcloth and ashes. Fair or not, them’s the breaks. Every single time Scalise says or does anything that can even be remotely construed as racially insensitive, out it gets trucked, again, for now, for ever, and always.

    Having not only put him in the #3 slot but maintaining him there says that you don’t care about that.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Patrick
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      says:

      There are political reasons not to take action on “right or wrong, we have to get rid of him because it looks bad.”

      Right now, it’s not even actually clear what happened. Scalise might have confessed to something he didn’t do.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
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        Why in the world would anybody confess to something they didn’t do?

        Therefore, he did it and we can sleep well at night knowing that he got what he deserved.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        @will-truman

        “There are political reasons not to take action on “right or wrong, we have to get rid of him because it looks bad.” Right now, it’s not even actually clear what happened. Scalise might have confessed to something he didn’t do.”

        @jaybird

        [with sarcasm] “Why in the world would anybody confess to something they didn’t do? Therefore, he did it and we can sleep well at night knowing that he got what he deserved.”

        @j-r

        “Or it says that other GOP leadership and the rank and file are still making up their minds about what to do, still assessing the facts as they come in and trying to come up with an appropriate response.

        Umm… no.

        The GOP isn’t in danger of losing yet another very winnable White House run because they have the reputation of being too hard on racists and white supremacists and too cuddly and accommodating with non-whites.

        Rightly or wrongly, the Republicans are seen by the vast preponderance of non-white voters as being hostile toward non-whites. And if they want the White House anytime soon, they may not need to win over the majority of non-white voters — but they need to win over *some*.

        Sitting and dicking around over whether or not it was a smart move promoting the guy that appears to have gone hat in hand to the people he did — in 2002 — only plays well to those GOP voters that were going to vote for anyone with the GOP tag in front of their name. For everyone else, you might as well run ads asking everyone to remember you’re that party that nominated Todd Akin.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        @tod-kelly , we don’t know that he went there “hat in hand” knowing who they were. We don’t even know that he spoke to these people at all. The guy who initially made it a story has said that he didn’t. Scalise has said that he did, but I would be surprised if even he knows. His name does not show up on the group’s press release for the event. Further, if he did speak to this group, we don’t know that he went there “hat in hand” knowing who they were.

        We don’t really know a whole lot. He could be guilty of something as minor as not knowing who he did or didn’t speak to over a decade ago. He may be guilty of taking up an offer from a neighbor to “Hey, could you speak at my group?” without doing due diligence. Or he could have known full well what he was doing.

        We don’t know. Does it matter? Or do you can the guy “right or wrong?” without regard to what actually happened and despite Rep Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) covering for him?

        If he knew what this group was up to, he needs to be tossed. If he didn’t do due dilligence… eh, I could go either way. If he didn’t even speak to the group, well I don’t think he should be tossed because something that didn’t actually happen makes the party look bad, and I don’t know that the party’s interest is served by doing so.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        I forgot to say that the reason you don’t toss the guy based on what may or may not have happened ten years ago is that you’re inviting stories and you’ve established that the truth doesn’t matter because you have to act “right or wrong.”

        I say this as a guy who was very quick and very loud about tossing Treat Lott and don’t believe anybody who knowingly spoke to CCC organizations should be allowed anywhere near leadership.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        I admit: the main reason that I think that this might actually be real is that it’s coming out *NOW* rather than, say, before an election.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Patrick
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      says:

      Or it says that other GOP leadership and the rank and file are still making up their minds about what to do, still assessing the facts as they come in and trying to come up with an appropriate response.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Patrick
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      I think @patrick and @tod-kelly may be projecting here. Maybe there are more “‘anti-PC-police’ folks,” fka “The Silent Majority,” than Patrick acknowledges or wants to acknowledge: people who are attracted to the party or side that does not always immediately surrender to demands from the PC police for proscription, or who, even if they are not actually attracted to the right’s stances and personalities, are glad it’s there to restrain the illiberal left. “Trucking out” pretexts for race-baiting Scalise (which I don’t actually think will happen much) or anyone else may tend to reinforce that inclination.

      Same on much of the rest of the social movement agenda: There’s a difference between declining to elect Akin and punishing someone else for being in his party – or between keeping Duke et al on the fringe, and punishing someone for showing possibly imperfect and [Vik edit: inadequately] comprehensive hostility to everything and everybody ever touched or addressed by Duke – or between accepting marriage equality and punishing people who don’t. If national elections are decided by identity politics, the Republicans may lose the presidency again, but there’s probably nothing they can do to win at that game. In the meantime, the inability of the left to form a politically effective majority, and to understand its predicament, including a non-negligible risk of catastrophic backlash, may be reinforced.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to CK MacLeod
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        I don’t think you’re entirely wrong to point out that I’m projecting a little here (because I am, to a degree), but I don’t think your rejoinder is right, either… or to be precise, you may very well be projecting in the opposite direction.

        What I fail to remember, all the time, and have to remind myself of, again… all the time… is that there is a sizable chunk of folks who really just don’t care about politics the way that middle-to-high information voters care about politics. This chunk is sizable enough, and a lot of the narrative politics bit just is irrelevant to how they vote, that a party can do something pretty consistently poorly from an optics standpoint and it doesn’t necessarily have a deplorable impact on the bottom line of who wins any given election.

        But I think the impact factor being what it is is tied to today’s demographics. Maybe not tomorrow’s. Fifteen-twenty years from now, it almost certainly will be… but fifteen-twenty years is a long time to forget about what happens today.

        The white vote is getting older and smaller in comparison to the minority vote, but the older factor contributes to a greater voter turnout, so that can be a sustainable trend producing electoral wins for a while… before it suddenly falls off the Earth.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        (thanks for the edit, VB!)Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        But I think the impact factor being what it is is tied to today’s demographics. Maybe not tomorrow’s. Fifteen-twenty years from now, it almost certainly will be… but fifteen-twenty years is a long time to forget about what happens today.

        Hard enough figuring out what the Democratic Party actually stands for now (beyond waiting for demographic changes to rescue them from themselves) – impossible to guess what it will stand for 15 to 20 years from now, assuming of course that it still exists and still means approximately the same thing to the political system of 2030-5: It may be that, by then, a sufficiently large number of those currently grouped with “minorities” and aligned with the party of government will be by then more concerned with defending their relative privilege against later arrivals and others, or will trend “conservative” in other ways or for reasons other than ethnic competition, or that the changes will be truly profound, stressing the Democratic coalition in other ways.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Patrick
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      says:

      correction to https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2014/12/31/on-giving-speeches-to-white-supremacists#comment-970607: “inadequately comprehensive” not just “comprehensive” in 2nd paragraph (changes the meaning)Report

  6. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    So let me get this. The guy’s a hypocrite or worse because he choose to speak at a while supremacist group event? That’s nice. Where’s the outrage when the folks on the other side, for example, send their kids to private school all the while championing public schools and how people should send their kids there?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Damon
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      No one used the term ‘hypocrite’. Well, ‘cept for you.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy
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        ok so he’s “evil” or nazi or something?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy
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        No, I think that just makes him a guy that agreed to speak to a bunch of white supremacists. Which is pretty freaking weird to most people.

        Honestly, if it were a Dem who had given a keynote at NAMBLA would you have a problem understanding people’s distaste?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @damon

        You seem to think Vikram is criticizing the guy for being hypocritical and then used that inaccurate assessment of his argument to analogize to a completely unrelated supposed hypocrisy you see practiced by “the other side”.

        Do you even know how to construct an argument?

        Vikram’s point was that people from this guy’s “side” were very careful about what group they spoke to when the group was brown practitioners of a weird religion. They seemingly thought very carefully about how that might look and opted not to address them. This guy then talks to a group of white supremacists. This suggests two likely explanations for that: brown practitioners of weird religions and other groups received greater scrutiny when it came to speaking engagement than did groups of white people, in which case maybe this guy didn’t know he was addressing white supremacists -OR- this guy did his due diligence and opted to speak to a group of white supremacists anyway.

        Sure, there are other possibilities — especially if you ignore the context that Vikram offered us — but that is sort of why Vikram offered us that context: because it really frickin’ matters!Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy
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        @tod-kelly

        “Honestly, if it were a Dem who had given a keynote at NAMBLA would you have a problem understanding people’s distaste?” Actually, I wouldn’t give a damn if he did. And seeing as I don’t give a damn about what Steve Scalise did either, I think I’m pretty consistent. Giving a damn is for the people he allegedly represents….Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy
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        @kazzy
        Let’s break this down a bit…

        Steve Scalise is a Republican from Louisiana. Are the Republicans mentioned by Vikram in his anecdote also from Louisiana? If so, I could agree there could be a pattern of behavior. If they aren’t, I don’t see any connection just because some Republican from La spoke at a gather and some OTHER Repubs didn’t come to some ceremonies at a Hindu temple.

        Maybe you can draw me a line between these two events if the politicians aren’t from La…Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @damon

        Vikram can speak to that, not me. But if you think that line doesn’t exist — that Vikran’s experience with GOPers and Hindu ceremonies do not provide context for this event — dude, that is a GREAT argument to make. I’d be inclined to agree with it!

        But you didn’t make that argument. You constructed a strawman and then made a weird BSDI sidebar.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
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        NAMBLA, hell. If Scalise had spoken to the National Action Network, he’d already be gone.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Kazzy
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        Are the Republicans mentioned by Vikram in his anecdote also from Louisiana?

        Nope, the ones in my anecdote were lower-level local folk, not D.C. politicians.

        So let me get this. The guy’s a hypocrite or worse because he choose to speak at a while supremacist group event? That’s nice.

        Um, did you see

        I do forgive Scales for his decision

        and

        Refusing a single invitation serves as very weak evidence of bigotry or small-mindedness.

        and

        this pattern reflected the decisions of only a handful of men, none of them Steve Scalise.

        Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the post as a whole may come across as critical. However, I meant to express *my feelings* of not having been given the benefit of the doubt when others who were less deserving were. I know that the basis for these feelings aren’t the result of a rigorous deduction, but I did attempt to highlight those shortcomings in the post itself.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        [Tod Kelly] “Honestly, if it were a Dem who had given a keynote at NAMBLA would you have a problem understanding people’s distaste?”

        [Damon] Actually, I wouldn’t give a damn if he did.….

        You dodged Todd’s actual question, @damon.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        Let me clarify then…Depending upon what the contents of his speech were, I could understand some folks getting peeved, but the fact that he choose to address this group of folks, no, I can’t understand that.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Weren’t people on the right upset that Romney (or was it Ryan?) addresseed the NAACP?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @kazzy No, or at least not that I ever saw at the time. They were angry that the NAACP booed him (they didn’t really*), but I don’t believe that they were upset with him for going.

        * As I recall, there was a smattering of boos in the middle when he said he would repeal the ACA, but they applauded actually him and his speech (if more politely than enthusiastically). Each side actually tried to make hay with those smatterings of recall-ACA boos, but they were a media manufactured outraged of the day.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Thanks, @tod-kelly . The more you know…Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @damon

        Depending upon what the contents of his speech were, I could understand some folks getting peeved, but the fact that he choose to address this group of folks, no, I can’t understand that.

        Can’t understand in the sense that you find it an odd system of judgment or can’t understand in that you don’t think people sometimes operate with that system of judgment?Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Damon
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      says:

      Where’s the outrage when the folks on the other side, for example, send their kids to private school all the while championing public schools and how people should send their kids there?

      I wasn’t attempting to catalog all outrageous things or the most outrageous thing. This happens to be a contemporary story, so I wrote something about it. If you’d like something critical of the other side, perhaps go back to this post about climate change? You’ll notice that in that post too, I didn’t make sure I criticized the other side within the same post as if there were some quota that requires that each post be appear balanced.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @vikram-bath

        I’m trying to understand the connection between the two anecdotes. Is it all about how you feel? Because, to me, the two events are totally unrelated. And frankly, I’m trying to understand what is Steve’s speech, or his going to the event, needs to be forgiven…Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        Is it all about how you feel?

        Well, yes, I think it should probably stop there. I don’t think you or anyone else should try to get him to leave his spot solely based on my suspicions, the serious limitations of which I’ve acknowledged.

        I respect if you don’t feel it’s useful, but I wanted to provide some insight into what was going on in my head as one, sole non-white person when I heard about the story. There is no call to action here.

        And frankly, I’m trying to understand what is Steve’s speech, or his going to the event, needs to be forgiven…

        It doesn’t sound like anyone has access to the speech beyond the topic being “federal grant programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development”, and even that description sounds like it may have been culled from a Stormfront post rather than something that can be more directly verified.

        Regarding his going to the event, he says “It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold”. If he thinks it was a mistake, I’m not going to tell him he’s wrong.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        Vik,

        My take away is slightly different: the problem (if there is one) is that politicians reflexively deny attendance at functions of certain marginalized groups who are (presumably, and let’s assume this is true) merely advocating for inclusion in an existing community even as the appear to reflexively (supposing this is true) appear at functions of dominant groups who advocate (presumably, and let’s suppose this is true) for denying marginalized groups inclusion in that community. And they engage in each action, presumably, as you point out, out of some reflexive fear of potential backlash from their “base”.

        Lots of assumptions in there, to be sure, but that was the point I thought you were getting at.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        I think that’s a good way of putting it. Though I would personally replace the word “marginalized” with “non-traditional” to refer to the Hindu population.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    Am I the only person who thinks we don’t want to shame politicians out of speaking to the elements of our society whose views we’d like to change? All the indignation seems to attach to his having accepted the invitation to speak at all. But shouldn’t it attach, if it should, to what he might have said or not said? Had he gone to their meeting and laid out why their beliefs were wrong and that they should’t vote for him if they wouldn’t listen to him and change them, then wouldn’t we, or at least shouldn’t we, applaud? Do we believe that the way to treat those with odious beliefs is enforced ostracization – the decision to ostracize them being enforced, that is, on everyone, especially anyone seeking public approval? We want our approach to be actively discouraging and disincentivizing engagement, even critical engagement?Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      What evidence is there that he went there to challenge their views? He had spoken positively about Duke previously, it seems more likely he went there because he thought the group would support him.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to greginak
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        I’m not saying he did. But it doesn’t look to me like people are saying the problem was that he went there knowing their beliefs and spoke about HUD’s perfidies rather than challenging their beliefs. It seems like people are saying the problem is that he went there knowing their beliefs and spoke, – that he accepted their invitation at all – meaning that if he had gone there and challenged their beliefs he still should be regarded roughly as he is, or that, in any case, he’d have made close to as bad an error, or at least an error. I suppose everyone could leap to clarify that they don’t think he’d have erred if he’d done that, but it doesn’t seem to me at all that that’s what they’re currently saying. It seems to me that the problem being expressed right now is fairly clearly that he appeared in front of them at all.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
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        says:

        umm…yeah people do think its a problem he spoke to a white supremacist type group. Yup, spot on that is the issue. He can speak to who he wants to and people can criticize him for it. Just chalk it up to Great Moments in Republican Outreach to Blacks chapter 30498.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      Am I the only person who thinks we don’t want to shame politicians out of speaking to the elements of our society whose views we’d like to change?

      No, you’re not the only one. I generally think people should be held responsible for what they say, not who they say it to.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @vikram-bath and @michael-drew

        Aint the way these things work. Racism is under an informal but fairly rigorous social-political proscription or taboo, with white racism a special category unto itself. We tolerate the existence of White racist groups, but the proscription means there is nothing to say to such groups as such, in other words “politically,” for someone who wishes to retain access to the mainstream. They are beyond politics or “conventional” politics, outside the community of responsible political actors. You can devote yourself to curing them, but you can’t seek their support just like anyone else’s. They are specifically not “like anyone else.”

        To seek their support is to display indifference to the proscription or lack of understanding of its basis, placing oneself also outside the good community. The only other alternatives are to tolerate erosion of the proscription or, as we say, to proceed to “legitimize” such groups. As long as the proscription remains in effect, however, arguing in favor of legitimation or softening of the proscription will also tend to be self-disqualifying – put one at risk of falling under the same ban. You two are already taking some risk on that score. You haven’t explicitly argued in favor of legitimizing the racists – of bringing them into normal politics – but you have expressed uncertainty about their exclusion, or the necessary shape of it.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        CK, yeah, I haven’t yet figured out a good way to separate out which groups ought to be excluded from polite company and which groups we should engage with. It is a topic of interest for me though. The closest I got to attempting to answer the question was here regarding when boycotts are useful:

        You can call for the unconditional boycott of anyone and everyone you disagree with. But you shouldn’t. Be picky. Here are the guidelines I find myself following:

        1. I will only boycott a company if I would also boycott a person for doing something morally similar at their own person-scale.
        2. I will only ask others to boycott a company if I view what they are doing as unusually bad when viewed in the spectrum of current beliefs in the society. There are two reasons for this. (1) To boycott based on a belief that is widely held leads to balkanization. This is illiberal and bad for civilization. (2) Mass boycotts are unlikely to be effective if the positions held by the targets are widely held. The target will still have plenty of customers even if you and your supporters pull off a perfect boycott on your side, which you can’t.
        3. I will personally boycott anything I want, even if it isn’t unusually bad in comparison to the spectrum of beliefs in the society. There is a large class of products I don’t buy even though almost everyone else does. But I don’t call on others to boycott them. Save your mass organized boycotts for things you can get a lot of people to agree is reprehensible.

        That was in the context of the Brendan Eich fiasco at Firefox Mozilla.

        Regarding speaking to white supremacist groups, I think the important question is whether their beliefs are “unusually bad when viewed in the spectrum of current beliefs in the society”. Within his particular district in Louisiana in 2002, maybe they weren’t. Today, on a national basis, I hope they are, but I haven’t always felt that way. Way back when I was blogging on the Blog We Shall Not Speak Of, I used to write responses to stuff posted on majorityrights.com and fredoneverything.net because I felt at least some of it was intelligently written enough to be worth responding to. I haven’t done that here at OT, partly because I don’t want to attract that attention, and partly because I think maybe I should consider it an already won battle.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        As a society, we say a great deal to those groups. People only become members of them because they reject what we say. Speaking to them directly, individually, would be pointless.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @vikram-bath I didn’t know there was a Blog We Shall Not Speak Of. I hope you’ll let me know, and forgive me, if I happen to speak of it…

        Part of the political struggle over the nature and implementation of the proscription, perhaps the entirety of the struggle, is over how interested we are supposed or allowed to be in the details of the excluded belief and the background of the excluded group. Even after a bunch of unfollows over the last year, I still frequently see comments from people about Republicans or particular conservatives that, if followed consequentially, would put the latter under the ban already.

        Reference has been made on this thread to Scalise’s supposed claim, in the late ’90s, that he shared key Duke-ist ideas, without Duke’s “baggage.” The writer seemed to take the statement to mean that Scalise believed in key issue stances, but without the kitschy uniform, KKK leadership position, and racialized discourse. Others on this thread seem to take it to mean that Scalise would put on the uniform under the sheet and hood, with spittle-flecked N-words and K-words flowing out the mouth-hole, if only he were allowed to do so.

        When you throw in the “objective racism” concept, things get even more difficult. I closely followed, and even participated in, the debate that arose after Jonathan Chait scandalously suggested that conservative ideas should still be argued on their own terms even if they were thought to be or even if they really were (as Chait believed) motivated on some level by racial animus in relation to disparate impacts.

        In other words, many on the American left strongly and in my experience rather unshakably believe that the only real reason they have so much trouble advancing key elements of their agenda is racism. Furthermore, for them, since racism is taboo, and since all Republicans/Conservatives are objectively racist, Republicanism/conservatism should be taboo. They never seem to consider that this very attitude could independently and reasonably justify resistance both to the left’s agenda and as or more important to the leftists themselves.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        Very interesting puzzle you present up there, CK….Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @ck-macleod , the argument you make seems to ignore the actual business of politics and the actual purpose of white supremacist groups.

        You speak of cultural taboos, but really, the reason that most people oppose the politics of white supremacist groups is that they have really racist politics.

        Do I care that Scalise spoke to a white supremacist group in 2002? A bit, but mostly because it’s a warning flag. What I actually care about is the fact that Scalise opposed state recognition of Martin Luther King Day in a state where my ancestors suffered the evils of slavery and segregation. What I care about is that Scalise wants to effectively eliminate the first section of the 14th amendment and deny citizenship to the children of immigrants born on US soil. What I care about is that in every political matter that overtly or covertly touches upon race, Scalise seems to support the positions of those who believe that non-whites are a blight upon society, and oppose the positions that i believe in.

        It’s not that he’s wearing the wrong badge. It’s that the badge he’s wearing makes it easier to see he’s got the wrong ideas. And I’m going to be pretty skeptical of a party that puts a guy with such wrong ideas in a position of power–especially since they can see the badge he wears same as I can.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @alan-scott This kind of argument was at the center of the Chait debate I mentioned, and, come to think of it, is also at the center of the discussion you and I had last year at my blog, when I critiqued your claim, originally offered at this blog – https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2014/04/04/worldvision-mozilla-and-the-death-of-tolerance#comment-748609 – that opposition to marriage equality always finally rested on “the belief that gay people are evil or gay people are insane.”

        If you’ve already presumed that there is no principled opposition to an MLK state holiday or birthright citizenship that is not racially motivated, then, as you say, it doesn’t really matter to you very much that someone who holds or held those positions may have spoken to a white racist organization. To go any further, we would have to able to discuss all of these issues – or any one of them – non-prejudicially. You specifically would have to be willing and able to put yourself in the position of someone on the other side, someone you presume pre-judges you or people like you irrationally, and someone whom you presume to judge reciprocally. In short, to discuss these matters fully, we would have to be able to approach the question of prejudice itself non-prejudicially. Since we won’t or can’t – and have collectively decided we shouldn’t – we operate instead in the realm of taboos, at least for practical political purposes.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @ck-macleod

        I don’t think that MLK should have a holiday, but I also don’t think that Columbus should have a holiday.

        FWIW, I worked this past Columbus Day, but I will not be working this up-coming MLK Day.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @ck-macleod

        If you’ve already presumed that there is no principled opposition to an MLK state holiday or birthright citizenship that is not racially motivated, then, as you say, it doesn’t really matter to you very much that someone who holds or held those positions may have spoken to a white racist organization.

        You’re missing a step, here. I’ve not made any such presuppositions. It’s entirely possible that there are principled, non-racist reasons to oppose honoring MLK or enforcing the 14th amendment. Only, I support those things, so I’m not voting for the dude whether or not he speaks to racist groups.

        For the same reason, I have no reason to believe Rand Paul’s stance against the Civil Right Act is motivated by anything but the best intentions–and i still think he’s dead wrong.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Vikram Bath
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        If you’ve already presumed that there is no principled opposition to an MLK state holiday or birthright citizenship that is not racially motivated,

        I’m not sure that’s a presumption so much as a tentative conclusion, based on not having heard any such arguments. A few years back I wrote a post on Positive Liberty arguing that there were no good arguments against SSM. My point was that this many years into the debate the best arguments had presumably been developed, and there weren’t any. I got some pushback on that, but here, 3-5 years down the road, no better arguments have appeared. I say “tentative conclusion” because I’m always open to new arguments–I’m long past expecting to hear any, though.

        So I think you err in defining the position as “presumption,” rather than “conclusion.” The debate on MLK holiday has been going on for long enough that it ought to have produced the best possible arguments by now. On birthright citizenship, perhaps not, but I’ve yet to hear one that is persuasive; that doesn’t seem to focus on “those people,” hint at worries about the future of “our people,” and/or ignore/falsify the general benefits of immigration.

        However, I think your comment at 12:21 is very insightful. I only don’t respond in depth because I think there’s a lot of truth in it.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @alan-scott In the prior comment you wrote, “[T]he reason that most people oppose the politics of white supremacist groups is that they have really racist politics.” You then produce the MLK holiday and birthright citizenship as two examples. What you now describe is sensible as far as it goes, but, when you define positions in question as “really racist politics,” then you have excluded the “step.”

        My own view is that most Americans oppose “white supremacist groups” – period – regardless of whether or not “white supremacist politics” at any given time happens to coincide with their own views. Most white supremacist groups and fellow travelers will, for example, be anti-interventionist. Many will be protectionist. Most will be anti-Wall Street. Many of the groups we’re calling white supremacist hotly deny that they are supremacist at all: They claim not to be in favor of one race ruling over another, but in favor of separation, and so may even end up supporting Black Nationalism and Zionism – for some of the same reasons or that supporters of those movements prefer them over mainstream Civil Rights and liberal Jewish organizations. Modern political environmentalism and the ecological critique of capitalism was in large part an offspring of radical right thought and activism.

        If it was just a matter of issue positions, there’d be excellent reasons for many on the left to work with and form coalitions with them. Occasionally, mainstream politicians of all types find themselves doing so despite themselves – speaking with or to them or their members, employing them or their members, and so on – just as, on the other side, any reasonably active anti-war or peace activist in America, for generations, will sooner or later discover that he or she has been working with one or another revolutionary communist group, in past decades with groups funded in whole or part by the Soviet Union.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @james-hanley

        One problem with most of these debates is the slippage between a general position – “no good reason to oppose SSM,” perhaps – and a particular realization of that position, yielding “possible reasons to oppose particular SSM legislation, jurisprudence, or actions and attitudes associated with the pro-SSM movement.”

        We may always be balancing equities, never reaching a conclusion on an idea. We support and accept the MLK Holiday, and resist re-opening the discussion, because it serves whatever practical purposes: So, not because the theory of state holidays for progressive saints has been or can be proven correct or not because the argument that MLK deserves civil canonization in all places in the US has been or can be proven correct in the abstract.

        On birthright citizenship, we have the problem for the presumption of its sanctity that “jus soli” is recognized today only in a small minority of countries, typically in relatively low-population density ones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli So, the U.S. and Australia are or were historically in need of more people, at least from the perspective of those favoring “development.” Native Americans and Aborigines, and those today who can be found indicting the American genocide, which latter especially in North America was a predictable and inexorable by-product of mass immigration of our energetic foreparents, may have a different or contradictory idea.

        Palestinians and friends also had a very different idea about the benefits of immigration in the land of present day Israel. There may be no abstract, absolutely right, case-closed or case-tentatively-closed answer as to whether Jews should have been welcomed to the Holy Land in large numbers, since the predictable by-product was the displacement of Palestinian Arabs, just as the founding of a Palestinian state or the return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes tends to envision and realistically imply displacement of Jewish families – thousands of settler children born on the West Bank, for example. At the founding of the state of Israel, and at each phase of its develoment,there was a balancing of equities whose justice will look very different depending on whom you consult or on how you define the topic.

        You yourself, Professor, may have a completely consistent set of preferences and positions on these matters, but in the rest of the world one person’s valuable immigrant is often another person’s invader, and concerns about the fate of “our people” vs. “those people” are taken not only to be completely legitimate, but as the bases of any kind of meaningful legitimacy at all.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Vikram Bath
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        concerns about the fate of “our people” vs. “those people” are taken not only to be completely legitimate, but as the bases of any kind of meaningful legitimacy at all.

        As generally disdainful of tribalism as I normally am, if I thought the “our people” arguments in the U.S. actually encompassed all Americans, I’d be more accepting of them.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        if I thought the “our people” arguments in the U.S. actually encompassed all Americans, I’d be more accepting of them.

        May be hopeless, since what would “actually encompass all Americans” is the point of contention.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Vikram Bath
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        says:

        @ck-macleod

        When I lived in San Francisco, everyone complained about illegal Mexicans and Chinese. The construction industry was chock full of illegal Irish, but nobody seemed to worry about that. On the plus side, nobody seemed to worry about all the illegal Filipinos, either. Bigotry works in mysterious ways.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
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    I’m reminded of when Michael Moore would open bank accounts in the name of horribly themed faux organizations (Satan Worshippers Society; Nazis of America) and send campaign contributions via check to conservative politicians. He’d then “out” those who accepted them in his book.

    I guess I got the point… Ideally, a politician would reject a contribution from an objectionable organization. But that assumes the checks weren’t just rubber stamped by an intern.

    But this seems to go further. Should politcians reject support or votes from objectionable groups/individuals? If so, how?

    I’d want to know more about the purpose of his presence/address. Was he seeking their support? Was he attempting to educate them on a particular topic? Did he want a formal association with them? The “why” of his visit matters to me, though I recognize some might (perhaps rightly) feel it doesn’t; addressing a group of white supremacists is wrong, full stop.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      I’d want to know more about the purpose of his presence/address.

      Mike Schilling included a Scalise quote up thread regarding David Duke, sharing his vision, and criticizing him for being unelectable. It’s up there somewhere. Not decisive evidence, but what is?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        I have not read the entire thread. Thanks, @stillwater .

        I am still curious about my broader question. Suppose, unsolicited, EURO came out in favor of Pol X and would bloc vote for him/her. How should he/she respond? If they are the difference in his/her winning, does that mean anything? Would it taint his/her election?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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        I think you should work on those questions, kazzy, come up with a comprehensive answer coherently balancing all the competing principles in play, and publish it. You’d be famous by the next Friday. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @stillwater

        Inherent in any question I ask should be a “FUCK IF I KNOW!”

        I only ask questions I don’t know the answer to because I’m arrogant enough to think I know the answer to most.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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        @kazzy The argument in favor of Scalise being a Dukie or looking for Dukie votes are that:
        a) He was there, and even in the most benign explanation it’s because of a friend-neighbor who is a Dukie.
        b) He was one of only a handful of state legislators to vote against MLK day.
        c) A quote from three years earlier, wherein he says he shares some of Duke’s values, before Duke became a complete pariah (but after it should have been clear that Duke was not “misunderstood”).

        The argument against is:
        a) He may not have known what EURO was (and may not have even gone there to speak to EURO).
        b) He has been vouched for by Louisiana’s sole black (Democratic) congressman.
        c) Longtime critics of Duke, at least one black and one white, are saying that Scalise is “not that guy”, so to speak.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        To answer your question, you may have to accept their votes, but at minimum you do not court their votes or (knowingly) lend then any support. More sudstantively, you express your disagreement where you disagree with them or more.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @will-truman

        What would we say of a Pol who explicitly asked them not to vote for him? Brave? Foolish? Both?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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        Depends on what they’re running for, what they have to lose by potentially losing those votes.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Let’s take this further, @will-truman (and thanks for indulging my query here!)…

        Imagine a candidate… a phenomenal candidate who will single-handedly turn around the country if elected. BUT, he doesn’t enjoy widespread support. The Neo-Nazis of America come out in full support of him and promise to bloc vote for him UNLESS he tells them not to. Their numbers are such that he will win the election and usher in world peace. Should he reject their votes?

        If the answer is that he shouldn’t… is that different than him actively courting their votes and achieving the same outcome (world peace and absolutely zero placating to the Neo-Nazis)? Why or why not?

        Basically, we’re getting into means/ends territory here.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        @kazzy Yeah. Ends/means. Also, staring into the abyss. You’re not far from talking about one view of George Wallace’s political trajectory. A moderate-to-liberal judge and lawyer determines that he cannot win without the segregationist vote. Becomes an icon of segregationism. Tries to backtrack later in his career and goes out of his way to give minorities a seat in government. But will always be remembered by the votes he pursued along the way, and the things he did to get those votes.

        In a TV show I once watched, a president (or his people, more precisely, as he didn’t know) stole an election through voter fraud. They felt they had to because he was such a great man that the country needed him. In a way, I think that’s actually more palatable (even if the candidate knows) than what we’re talking about. You can leave fraud behind, and keep it distant, a lot easier than you can leave your supporters behind. It inescapably becomes a part of your career.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Stillwater
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        @kazzy , the thing is, a politician courts votes primarily through the promise of political support, or at very least the affirmation of shared political goals.

        If our hypothetical candidate tells the neo-nazis that he’ll support their agenda, we can pretty clearly agree that that’s a bad thing. If he claims that he and the neo-nazis have the same political goals, then that’s a bad thing unless they are some unusually nice neo-nazis. If he’s not giving them support and doesn’t share their goals, then why the hell are the neo-nazis voting for him other than the fact that it makes for a convenient example?Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Should politcians reject support or votes from objectionable groups/individuals? If so, how?

      This is a particularly interesting question, because you can approach it from all sorts of different angles, so the “should” part needs to be sussed out a bit more.

      Given that campaign support is something that can be exposed to the public, I can imagine that a politician that wants to *not* have his or her campaign donors or supporters become part of the political narrative will take steps to adequately distance themselves from those supporters. What steps those are and how they do it is important, to them at least.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick
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        says:

        That is what I think Michael Moore was trying to do. “Hey! Look! This evil Republican took money from the Puppy Killers Association of Freeport!” Only, the checks were for rather small amounts ($50) and the candidate almost surely never actually saw them. I think a few were returned but most were accepted. Of course, he was doing this back in the 90’s I think and we are in a different era now. And that was a prank. Were a *real* organization to formally back, support, or endorse a major candidate, it’d be interesting to see how that played out.Report

  9. Avatar DensityDuck
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    says:

    So do we accept that he wasn’t actually there to speak to EURO, or are we assuming that the Slate article is lying bullshit because racism?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to DensityDuck
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      says:

      Read above. The consensus seems to be that the Slate article is wrong.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        @will-truman Don’t see a consensus at all. To my knowledge Scalise hasn’t commented on it, preferring instead to let the controversy fade is my guess.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        I was referring to the consensus here. Which itself may not be accurate. I said it was plausible, but no one seemed to agree with me (because, I assume, Scalise himself said he spoke to the group) and the conversation has operated on that basis. (Which it probably should have all along, to be fair, since that’s the basis from which Vikram wrote his post on.)Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I thought the Slate account was plausible. That’s why I linked it, and why I suggested we should proceed under the assumption we don’t know the truth. I haven’t seen anything yet to change my mind, and I think there are political reasons that might adequately explain a) why he would admit what he admitted in the way that he admitted it, without having nailed down the truth of it, and b) why he wouldn’t return to the subject to amend the record.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        I concur, though I don’t think the argument has gained a whole lot of traction. (Due in part, I think, to the framing of the initial post.)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        @will-truman

        The difficulty is that the Slate article quotes one guy, and what that guy says is different from what Scalise has admitted to. CK is right that we really don’t know, but to the extent we’re inclined to lean one way or the other, I’m not sure why we’d lean toward what non-Scalise says rather than what Scalise says.

        On the other hand, it was two+ decades ago, and we have contemporaneous figures who are non-Dukies saying he’s not that kind of guy. That, I think, should carry more weight in how we judge the guy today.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley

        I’m not sure why we’d lean toward what non-Scalise says rather than what Scalise says.

        That’s easy! Because Scalise, unlike non-Scalise (actually two of ’em), is a professional politician, and his lips or virtual lips were moving.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        On the other hand, non-Scalise, a long-time close associate of David Duke, should be given the benefit of the doubt. Sure he should.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Not sure whether the reporting on Scalise here is more new than recycled old and already discussed, but, just for the record, this article – which mainly is about the history of Duke and company in Louisiana – quotes near its end an NYT report on one supposed conference attendee saying Scalise spoke to EURO on EURO-ish themes:

        Knight is now telling news outlets that he invited Scalise to speak at a neighborhood association that happened to be meeting in the same hotel.

        Veteran Louisiana journalist Jeremy Alford, writing in the New York Times, quoted a person at the EURO conference who said that Scalise did in fact speak there on “how America was founded on Christian principles, Christian men who founded this country and…how we’re getting away from that.”

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/03/the-louisiana-nazis-who-courted-steve-scalise.htmlReport

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Will Truman
        Ignored
        says:

        Just to state my view for completeness:
        If he didn’t actually attend the thing, then this post doesn’t make a lot of sense. When I originally composed this, I wasn’t aware that there was a question about whether he actually gave the speech he apologized for giving.

        I agree with CK that there may be reasons for apologizing reflexively assuming that if he was being asked the question, the questioner must have checked it all out.

        It’s a really unusual twist for this type of story.Report

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