On being proven wrong, hopefully

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Is this Aaron David? I can correct the header if so.

    Also, there seems to be an interesting tide of anti-confederate flag going on – I’ve heard that Wal-Mart, Amazon and Etsy are all pulling CF-related stuff.

    At the risk of a sidebar, I approve of this wave, in much the same way that I approve of cartoonists continuing to doodle Mohammed after Charlie Hebdo.

    We should, to the best of our ability as a society, non-violently disincentivize those who seek to impose their view of the world through shooting sprees, in a way that makes their failure to achieve their goals evident.

    You shot up the place because you want fewer cartoons of Mohammed in the world?

    Too bad, here’s some more cartoons. You don’t get to have what you want.

    You shot up the place because you think the South should rise again, or some weird apartheid society erected to re-subjugate black people?

    Too bad, we’re pulling that flag down every place we see it. You don’t get to have what you want.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Glyph says:

      Man, how the hell did I typo “david?”


    • Avatar Pyre in reply to Glyph says:

      Add Warner Bros to that.


      Even before the shooting, during a recent car commercial where the Dukes trade in the General Lee for a new car, they conspicuously avoided showing the top of the General Lee during the commercial. After the shooting, I imagine that they just said “the hell with it”.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

      You don’t get to have what you want.

      So, if a Timothy McVeigh type blows up an IRS building as retaliation for Waco and Ruby Ridge, we should say “you don’t get what you want” and have the Federal gummint kill more citizens?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater says:

        It’s almost like you didn’t read what I wrote.

        Here, let me paste it for you again:

        “We should, to the best of our ability as a society, non-violently disincentivize”

        Not only am I explicitly saying “non-violently”, I mean to imply that “society” (not necessarily “government”) should do this.

        You know, like a cartoonist continuing to draw what his conscience compels him to in his art, or like Wal-Mart suffering a crisis of conscience (or pocketbook) and pulling Confederate flags from the shelf.

        These are, to me, equivalent response actions that symbolize a liberal, democratic society’s resolve to show that the attempted imposition of an illiberal worldview through violence will not only fail to move your cause forward; it will roll it back.

        But let’s take your Tim McVeigh example, where he was in his mind responding to an actual injustice committed by the govt.

        Even in that situation, I wouldn’t *necessarily* object to the govt. killing more citizens – as long as those citizens were criminal confederates of McVeigh’s whom we at least attempted to first apprehend and provide a fair trial for. The events McVeigh was putatively responding to were varying degrees of injustice, but his actions in response were also arguably unjust, since he incurred a lot of third-party bystanding collateral damage in his attack.

        If the govt. just started targeting random other Wacos and Ruby Ridges, then that would be unjust, whether they were doing it in response to McVeigh or not.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

          So, it’s not really “no soup for you”. It’s no soup for you if you’re gonna use violence to achieve your goals”. That is, it’s a form of punishment imposed on those folks for using violence to achieve their goals. (Really? Am I saying that right? It sounds even worse than before so I must have not gotten it right….)

          See, I’m having a problem with this “no soup for you” thing, yeah? It just strikes me as counterproductive to take down the Confederate Flag based on the premise that folks who act violently based on (in some sense) the ideals it conveys as a form of … what? … punishment?

          Taking down the Confederate Flag is justifed for a bunch of reasons which exist independent of the Charleston massacre. Lots of people have eloquently stated why – in particular, Burt’s comment below. So using the “no soup for you because your kind can’t play nice with others” as the justification strikes me as entirely misguided. The reason to take down the flag is because it’s a symbol of racism and apartheid, not because folks (well, one anyway) who believe in that symbol used violence in an attempt to achieve his goals. It should come down even without the violence ever occurring. Given that, it seems strange to me to say that the justification for taking it down is “no soup for you.” I mean, that kid is already getting no soup (he’ll be in jail for committing a crime, yeah?)Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater says:

            I disagree with the illiberal worldview of both Roof and the Hebdo shooters.

            But even if I agreed with their worldview, their use of unjust violence to further their goals is simply incompatible with a liberal democratic society, and this is a question worth addressing separately from their odious worldviews.

            They are free to use their words to try to convince people that they are correct, but the minute they shot a bunch of people whom they saw as symbolic of their oppressors, they committed an *action* which needs to be discouraged, so that others don’t think that following in their footsteps gets you what you want.

            If I commit unjust violence and then get what I want as a result of it (or at least, seem to suffer no rollbacks to my ideology), then unjust violence will be seen as an effective way to get what you want.

            So, “no soup for you because you committed unjust violence” does not have to be THE justification; but it can certainly be A justification, and a very powerful one, in terms of incentives and messaging put out by a liberal democratic society.

            “Punishment” and “incentive” are related, but slightly separate, concepts.

            “Punishment” emphasizes what we are doing to the shooters, and inherently includes ideas of serving justice for past wrongs; “incentives” is what we do not to harm the shooters or to “set the scales right”, but instead is intended to help discourage future repeats.

            Punishment looks backward; incentives look forward.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

          For what it’s worth, when I say tear it down, I mean us, not government entities (even if, for legal reasons, we might have to go through them in some cases).

          But then when I say tear it down more generally, I also mean the government.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    “But this is part of who we are,” Graham added.

    Well, it’s part of who some of you are. Last week some legislator at least implied that he doesn’t represent all of the people of his district, only those who voted for him. If this is the wave of the future, we are so screwed.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Mitt Romney has been making anti-Confederate Flag arguments since 2008 if Lee is correct.

    This does seem to be a turning point. A lot of liberals are mad that it took this tragedy but it is often tragedy that shakes people into action. This seems to be own of our flaws.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Hey, look, we could have had Harold Ford as a Senator. Wouldn’t that be fun?
      (he’s the TN democrat on record as not objecting to the confederate flag).

      … thank god his NY Sen campaign got sunk as fast as started. Well, it wasn’t God responsible if you know what I mean.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I know I’m coming in a little bit late to this discussion.

    I have been saying for years and said so even when I lived in Tennessee, that the flag in question was used as a rallying point for those engaged in a violent treason to defend slavery. I do not believe I ever have seen anything particularly noble in the iconography of the Confederacy. Not for lack of trying.

    I understand the abstract political point the secessionists made back in 1860. It wasn’t a noble aim to strive for then, and its ghosts in the modern day are little better. I never, ever understood how someone could fly that flag and call himself a “patriot.”

    I understand that there are those who argue that secession and the subsequent Civil War were really about tariffs. I have always thought that argument was not only incorrect, but actual bullshit.

    I understand that there are those who insist that Confederate soldiers, Confederate military leaders, and especially Robert E. Lee, fought with something they call “honor.” Revisionist historians, including Lee himself, have attempted to rewrite history to suggest that they were morally reluctant to embrace slavery, that slavery was somehow dying of its own accord, and that they fought instead for something else. But the Confederacy was hardwired to preserve slavery. Slavery was baked into the CSA’s constitution. Robert E. Lee was no hero. He was a military leader of remarkable ability and charisma, who intentionally chose to fight his own country so that white men could own black people.

    I’ve heard it argued that there were some free blacks who owned black slaves. I’ve heard it argued that there were some white (Irish) slaves too. I’ve heard it argued that blacks volunteered to fight for the Confederate Army. So what? Anomalies and isolated incidents, even if they could be backed up with her and historical evidence, do not change the fact that slavery was overwhelmingly white people owning black people. The legacy of that tainted “institution” continues to stain our culture, our laws, and our nation to this day.

    Taking down the battle flag from the capital of South Carolina is a fine start. But it doesn’t go far enough. @Chris wrote a post recently about the pervasiveness of Confederate iconography throughout the South. Particularly when I lived there, I found the celebration of all things Confederate, the veneration of leaders of the Confederate movement, and the claims of “pride in heritage” associated with the same to be creepy and weird. Politicians who patted Confederate apologists on the head to pander for votes have always struck me as craven, ignorant, or morally suspect.

    Let’s not stop with taking down the battle flag. Let’s go further and acknowledge the fact that men like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, intentionally and after sober deliberation, employed their considerable talents and abilities to advance a dark, dishonorable cause. Let’s stop celebrating these men by naming highways and schools and counties and cities after them. Let’s convert the monuments to the dead soldiers of the Confederacy to be cenotaphs to all the soldiers who died, and to all the slaves who endured our nation’s greatest hypocrisy.

    Germans discreetly honor the soldiers who fought for their country during both of the world wars, but they have earned the right to do so by coming to cultural grips with the evils that the regimes for which they fought perpetrated. Those Southerners who insist that they have a distinct culture and stridently give honor to their Confederate predecessors have failed to reach a similar moral reckoning. Rather, too many of them have insisted for too long on strained, elaborate apologia and sophomoric displays of spite.

    To cease to give honor is not the same thing as to dishonor. The secessionists, the slavers, the Confederates do not deserve special honors. After all, the contemporary practice of extending honor to such figures grows out of a political resistance to the federal government involving itself in enforcing our constitution’s guarantee of equality to all. There’s little defensible about that, either.

    It’s too bad that so many people have had to die in order for these facts to become clear. And it’s too bad that those people in the church group were among that number. Let us hope and pray that they are, finally, the last.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “military leader of remarkable ability”
      … that’s not Robert E. Lee. West Point only still teaches him as an example of what NOT to do.

      Longstreet on the other hand… his tactics and strategems are still quite effective.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Kim says:

        Agreed about Lee. I look at his wartime career and I see someone who is very competent: someone with ability to take a huge body of men and get them to move in a purposeful manner, and a pretty good idea of what constitutes “purposeful.” This is far, far from nothing. But it isn’t the spark of military genius. For that you need the ability to see what is possible, despite conventional wisdom. You want genius? Sherman’s March to the Sea is the purest example from that war.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Whoa. I think I need a cigarette.

      Thanks Burt. Well said.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Well said.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I have cleaned up a little bit of bad grammar in the comment with my Super Editor Powers, but have not altered its substance.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “I understand that there are those who argue that secession and the subsequent Civil War were really about tariffs. I have always thought that argument was not only incorrect, but actual bullshit.”

      Unsubtle, obvious bullshit at that. An encouraging development of recent years is an increasing willingness to speak of the Civil War as being about slavery, which is, after all, what they said at the time of secession.

      It took me a while to figure out why the “well, it was complicated…” line was so widespread for so long. The South, after it lost the war, had an obvious incentive to take this position. So did the post-Reconstruction North. Once the decision was made to let the White South back into the federal system, the position that the South had fought in defense of an evil cause was counter-productive, even if true. This is very much in the same way that the western Allies were in the 1950s frantically identifying the “good’ Nazis and rearming them. Now jump forward a century or so, and similar incentives still apply. Southerners wanted to ennoble the Lost Cause, while academics reflexively favor complex causes for great events (if only because careers can be made arguing the subtleties of these complex causes). Pretty much everyone who cared had incentives to obfuscate the matter. Except the blacks, of course, but they had been thrown under the omnibus back in 1877.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        There’s also the fact that there were, in fact, lots of causes for the Civil War. But most of those causes trace back to slavery.

        Like the economic problems the South faced, which were pressing and threatening to turn them into a backwards, poor part of the country over the long term? Competing with the industrialized North was very difficult with so much of the South’s wealth invested in, comparatively speaking, very inefficient labor they couldn’t really offload.

        So the South has real economic concerns about their current position and about events as they passed — but those economic problems were, effectively, about the growing inefficiency gap which itself was all about industry versus hand labor, wherein said hand labor wasn’t something that could be ‘fired’ (it was a capital investment) nor could it be retasked easily (educated slaves were something to avoid).

        Slavery was an anchor around the South’s economic neck, and rather than cut their losses they moved to non-economic means to keep it functioning so they didn’t have to write it off.

        Most issues were like that — at the root was slavery.

        The State’s Right’s argument is pretty hilarious, especially if you have even the most passing familiarity with the federal laws (and SCOTUS decisions) of the time — the South was happily agitating for the federal government to enforce ONE state’s laws on another, which seems to be the opposite of ‘State’s Rights’ as it’s commonly known today.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    Things that seem intractable remain intractable until, suddenly, they aren’t.

    Honecker, on the day he took office in East Berlin, predicted the wall would stand for 50 or 100 years more.

    Less then a month later, it fell.Report

  6. Avatar Chris says:

    Glad to see you coming around. I honestly wouldn’t have thought about the flag in the aftermath, even upon seeing his photos, if so many people who rightly feel like they are the targets of people like Roof didn’t, quickly and fervently demand it come down. It’s not that I want it up — I was trying to get it taken down in my school 20+ years ago — but it’s just not where my thoughts would have gone. Where mine went was to the “Southern Culture” more generally, which is just “White, and specifically exlcuding Black, Southern Culture.” Which is much broader than the flag. But I think that’s something southerners, white black and everything else, are going to have to work out among themselves. They, especially the White Southern Culture adherents (and we have them here) are going to have to make a conscious decision to let go of their particular conception and embrace a broader, more inclusive conception of “Southern,” one which will then let them claim not just the war and Forrest and Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but also blues, jazz, pretty much all of American literature, and so much of the other wonderful things that the South has produced independent of the White Southern Culture that is pretty much still in 1864.Report

  7. Avatar Chris says:

    Alabama has taken it down.

    I must admit I’m actually surprised by how happy this makes me, almost like a family member has finally stopped drinking or something.Report

  8. Avatar Pyre says:

    I’m kinda hoping that, after the TPP passes this week, we can stop talking about the Confederate flag.Report