Morning Ed: Society {2016.03.10.Th}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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130 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    The type of vulgar leftism displayed in the Salon article really gets to me.Report

    • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Hmmm… You didn’t read the article, huh?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I think it’s more than possible to read the article and come to the conclusion “man, this guy is one of the reasons Trump is doing so well in open primaries”.Report

        • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

          Sure, if you don’t read it.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

            Maybe two or three other people can pipe in and say “yeah, this is a somewhat alienating article” and you can tell them something similar.

            Maybe the people who haven’t read the article will be convinced that it isn’t one thereby.Report

            • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

              Well, let’s start with what you are responding to. Are you responding to Will’s characterization? Are you responding to the headline? To the first paragraph? Or are you responding to statements like,

              Fortunately, gains from past struggles give African Americans increased opportunities to expose what was previously deliberately obscured. Ta-Nehisi Coates is the best known of a new generation of black, indigenous, Hispanic and white writers, scholars and activists revealing ugly realities hidden from most of us.


              No one will dismiss Bill O’Reilly’s goofy books about Jesus or Lincoln or Patton or Reagan as irrelevant because, “oh, that was a long time ago, it’s got nothing to do with me now.” As a general proposition people appreciate that we can discover in the present important things we didn’t previously know about the past.

              Not so when it comes to race in the USA. Not for some people anyway.

              Or the positive quoting of David Brooks (a common occurrence among “vulgar leftists,” right?)?

              Dude’s a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, talking about being open about current and past racism in order to overcome it, and so far the responses here have been, “Vulgar leftism” and “This is why we have Donald Trump!”

              I’d suggest that, if you want to take either of those tacks, you at least put some work into it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                You want to make an argument about racism, then make an argument about racism.

                You want to make an argument about white people? You’re going to find yourself pointing out that, really, you were talking about racism and you can’t believe that your opponents are arguing against you.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Except that the point is about white supremacy, which isn’t just any ol’ racism.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                And in making its point about white supremacy, it keeps talking about white men.

                Motte. Bailey.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Hmm… Go back and read it again. Count the number of times it mentions white people (as opposed to white supremacy). I count one in the first paragraph (the line that has made so many here defensive), four in the second:

                And just as some whites played a part in ending slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow segregation, and South African apartheid, there is surely a role whites can play in restraining other whites in this era. Beneath the sound and fury generated by GOP presidential candidates, Fox News, website trolls, police unions and others, white people are becoming aware as never before of past and present racism.

                Which gives us two instances of white people helping, though against the “sins” of white people (the third instance), and one instances of white people becoming more aware of racism (the fourth).

                One instance of “white racism” (as opposed to the phrase “white supremacy,”), one case of white people being surprised when they learn aspects of history that have been hidden:

                Many commenters were startled to learn about a long known but rarely taught side of Woodrow Wilson. White people have a lot to be surprised about.

                And one instance including white writers among the people exposing those aspects of history:

                Ta-Nehisi Coates is the best known of a new generation of black, indigenous, Hispanic and white writers, scholars and activists revealing ugly realities hidden from most of us.

                So, it looks like he does pretty much what you want, except in the headline and that first mention of white people. But he didn’t start things in a way that doesn’t make you and Lee and others immediately defensive, so damn the whole thing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                So it started off making a bailey claim, then switched to a motte claim, and you’re wondering why I’m hung up on the bailey claim and not paying more attention to the much more reasonable motte claim?Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                I don’t see that as what’s going on. I think he says there’s a problem, it has to be stopped, and it will be stopped by increased awareness and knowledge.Report

              • Fortytwo in reply to Jaybird says:

                What does motte and bailey mean? I know the technical terms regarding medieval castles, but I’ve seen y’all use these terms politically and I have no idea what they mean. I can’t figure it out from the context either.Report

              • Chris in reply to Fortytwo says:

                Vikram laid it out in a post a while back, in which he quotes Scott Alexander:

                So the motte-and-bailey doctrine is when you make a bold, controversial statement. Then when somebody challenges you, you claim you were just making an obvious, uncontroversial statement, so you are clearly right and they are silly for challenging you. Then when the argument is over you go back to making the bold, controversial statement.


              • Anne in reply to Fortytwo says:

                @fortytwo this might help


                oops Aaron & Chris beat me to it and know how to link better than I doReport

              • Jaybird in reply to Fortytwo says:

                All y’all guys are awesome.Report

        • notme in reply to Jaybird says:

          Don’t be so hard on Chris. It’s his usual shtick. If you don’t agree with something or draw a different conclusion he just assumes that you didn’t read the article.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:

        Because everyone needs to read an article and come to the exact conclusion as you did?Report

        • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Note that when you sound exactly like notme (my initial comment to Lee was, “Hey notme! Oh wait, that’s a Lee comment?”), it’s a pretty good sign that you should probably read the article before commenting on it.

          Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s possible to disagree with the article (which argues that historical and current racism are both related and huge impediments to progress, and that it’s time to do something about it), on many grounds, but “vulgar leftism really gets to me” isn’t really doing that. That’s just gnarring and gnashing of teeth.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

            I’m pretty sure that the argument that “historical and current racism are both related and huge impediments to progress, and that it’s time to do something about it” is an argument that most folks would agree with.

            The title of the article is not “Racists must be stopped: The very future of mankind depends on it”.

            The opening of the article is not “The future of life on the planet depends on bringing the 500-year rampage of racists to a halt. For five centuries their ever more destructive weaponry has become far too common. Their widespread and better systems of exploiting other humans and nature dominate the globe.”

            I suppose you’d know that if you read the article, though.Report

            • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

              Yup, you’re responding to the headline and first paragraph. Which is what I figured.

              Even if that first paragraph is true, between damage to the environment from western industrialization, the atom bomb, and the two most destructive wars in the history of the planet, along with two of its greatest genocides (Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union), not to mention turning the world into a battleground between two western ideologies for the entirety of the second half of the last century, without even getting into wiping out the vast majority of the indigenous people of Australia and the Americas, African slavery and colonization, colonization of the Indian subcontinent, and so on. But he didn’t express it nicely, so…Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Dude, if I wrote an article that opened with “The White Man is responsible for the invention of…” and then had a list of inventions, many of which are useful in our day to day lives, how persuasive would you find the argument that the middle of the article was filled with cites to wikipedia and everything?

                My problem is *NOT* with the motte of the argument the paper is making.

                It’s with the bailey.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Let me ask you this: does suggesting that white people have been incredibly destructive for the last 500 years mean that they haven’t produced any good stuff? Does noting the former require denying the latter? So that if someone says we should stop this destructiveness, does that mean that we should also stop the good stuff?

                If you think so, then it seems the problem is with you.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                “I’m talking about black on black crime. I don’t know why you want to keep changing the subject to something else. Or do you think that crime isn’t a problem?”Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ugh. Nevermind.Report

              • notme in reply to Chris says:


                I know it’s terrible when folks won’t read the article.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                “I’m not talking about George Washington Carver! Why do you keep bringing him up???”Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                It’s not just un-nice. It does something the left often does, and is somewhat of a blind spot over there.
                Grouping. Yes grouping.
                Race, sex, age, what have you.

                It doesn’t mention a faction of white people within the greater population of white people. It doesn’t really approach it on a person by person basis. Nope. It reaches for the racist easy button. Group them and call ’em racist.

                Before I stumbled into this site, racism was something I didn’t hear much about, their were indicators in local environments where I would observe racism between various individuals and on occasion groups, but racism typically wasn’t a weekly observable thing. Culture that evolved around a self identified racial grouping was more pronounced and more observable.

                In fact the very first time I was called a racist was on this site. No one previously in the real world would have thought to do that.

                When MA was here he said I was from Stormfront, I hadn’t heard of Stormfront before so I mosied on over to see if that shoe fit. For some reason it just didn’t fit like MA suggested.

                Kim the other day talked of her people, and that got me thinking about who are my people, and interesting enough I found my people not being defined on a parameter of race.

                This led me to something I have trouble parsing. Is this site racist?Report

              • Roland Dodds in reply to Joe Sal says:

                I am sure the Salon piece makes some fair points (I only got a paragraph in) that I have heard countless times while in academia and living in the Bay Area, but I am also past the point where I want to engage in silly self-hatred for the injustices of the world. I know that I am just practicing “white-privilege,” “mansplaining,” or whatever….but I just don’t have the time or patience for that kind of thing anymore.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Roland Dodds says:

                I for one, am glad it doesn’t drag you into self-hatred and you can be you at any given time.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        I did read the article. You can make the same points better without engaging in parodies of leftism.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

      How do you figure it’s vulgar leftism? It seems like academic leftism to me, at least in terms of the class that embraces it, if not in terms of rigor. You’re not going to get blue-collar unionists signing on to this kind of thing. Not white ones, anyway.Report

    • j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I don’t know if I would call it vulgar leftism, but I read the article and I am unimpressed. There are all sorts of false equivalencies surrounding identity issues that I have no problem dismissing out of hand, the how come there’s no White Entertainment Television or if woman wanted real equality why don’t they register for the draft?

      That said, we need to come to some agreement. Either racial/gender essentialism and collective judgments are wrong or they’re OK. This is why I don’t find the whole punching up v punching down thing very persuasive. For ethical norms to be effective, they need to be applied in both directions. You can’t posit a system where it’s verboten to make collective judgments about non-whites but it’s perfectly acceptable to write an article called “White men must be stopped.” You can, but it undermines both sides of the argument. And yeah, I get that writers don’t pick their titles, but at some point you have to treat the whole as a whole.

      The other problem with the article is that it’s much more an argument in favor of progressive politics than it is about racial justice. And those two things just aren’t the same thing. This guy makes the bizzare claim that the election of Ben Carson would be a victory for white supremacist ideology. I guess it’s fine for white people to effectively call a black man an Uncle Tom so long as he has his anti-racist credentials in order. Even more outlandish, he says this:

      Now is the time to start contingency planning for intensified resistance to mass deportations of immigrants, atrocities against Muslims and extreme danger to African Americans.

      Has this guy been frozen in a cryogenic chamber since 2008?Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    One thing I’ve noticed about comic book fans is that they are very big on comic book artists getting their due. There is a strong feeling that many of the iconic artists like Jack Kirby were screwed by the studios and were really the visionaries and creators.

    This partially gets directed at Stan Lee. The other direction is at more gallery friendly artists whose work appropriated comic-book imagery like Roy Lichtenstein.

    This seems like another small version of never-ending snobs v. slobsReport

    • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Comic book fans are no different from fans of any other art form in this.
      “[Originator] never got their due because [Corporation ripped them off] and/or [Imitator/Successor stole their shtick]” is a plaint as old as time.

      And often, true.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I was just thinking about how pretty much all types of artists were getting screwed back when.

        I’ve mentioned before that R.’s dad worked with Ray Charles in the late 50s and early 60s, then branched out and managed a bunch of (mostly black) artists in R&B, jazz, and soul, up until the present day. A lot of the artists he worked with throughout the 60s and 70s, people who were working non-stop back then — touring and recording — never made any real money, and have to continue to do shows today just to get by, so he still works (though significantly less) to promote and book those artists, despite being in his mid-80s, ’cause they have to eat and they’re his friends as much as his clients. But it never stops striking me as a great injustice.Report

        • Kim in reply to Chris says:

          … is it better than writing jingles all day? Because that’s what musicians do when they want to actually make money. (Or do the video game thing…)Report

        • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

          I’m reading Miracleman for the first time – it’s a pretty legendary Alan Moore comic that was out of print for a long time due to rights wrangling, and in the interim Moore has become famously curmudgeonly in his business dealings with comics and Hollywood after being burned once too many times.

          I am assuming that due to his request, his name has been removed, and the stories are credited to “THE ORIGINAL WRITER”. Not sure if he gets paid for these or not, the man is stubborn enough to forgo the money along with the credit, if he wants to make a point.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

        Yep, see also Tesla vs EdisonReport

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:


        I largely agree. To the extent that I disagree, Roy Lichtenstein is not thief as comic book fans make him out to be. I believe he did significant transformation in many of his comic inspired works to make the paintings his own. You can see this in many of the paintings on the BBC article. Some paintings contain references to Matisse and many others aren’t from comics at all.

        In the end, I think that there is a good deal of nerd rage. Comic books are big at the box office (even if actual comic sales are in sharp decline) Yet the fans are seemingly unsatisfied because the fine art market goes for more traditional forms
        of display? I am not sure what is wanted except total domination. “It isn’t enough that we control popular movies! We need to destroy all high culture!! No more articles or exhibitions for Pierre Bonnard. Let’s have Jack Kirby studies!!”Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          ” I believe he did significant transformation in many of his comic inspired works to make the paintings his own. ”

          Yeah, he changed the panel so that the F-86 was shooting down another F-86, instead of a MiG-15. Not sure why, but it’s certainly a transformation.

          Oh, also he made it real big. That’s kind of transformative.

          “In the end, I think that there is a good deal of nerd rage. ”

          Imagine that you made something that people still talked about eighty years later.

          Imagine further that you only got paid twenty bucks for it.

          Imagine even further that when you complained, some asshole on the internet got all cutesy-snark about “nerd rage”.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to DensityDuck says:

            You are talking about one specific painting. Lichtenstein has a distinctive color scheme which relies on blue, yellow, and white. He also has a clear vision expressed through sharp lines, a zoom in vision, and a sort of way of painting in dots when you look closely.

            I think Lichtenstein has a clear voice and it is his own.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Why are you convinced that comic book artists don’t have the same distinctive color schemes, vision, way of painting, voice, etc?Report

            • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Rob Liefield has a visual style and a clear voice and it is his own.

              It’s also awful, and scary, and “her spine doesn’t bend that way!!!” wrong.Report

            • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              a zoom in vision, and a sort of way of painting in dots when you look closely

              This was kind of covered in DD’s “he made it real big” – his “dots” are a modified emulation/approximation of how 4-color ink printing in mass-produced comics actually used to be done (‘Ben Day’ dots).

              I don’t mind Lichtenstein, personally; but I can see why he irritates people.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

        Except for libertarian comics, where it’s “Originator was paid for his labor and claims rights that weren’t mentioned in the contract. Doesn’t he understand that his work only has value because of the investments made by his employer?”Report

    • Sometimes it works the other way. On the DC side of things, the real attribution battle is Batman, where the negligible artist got all the credit while the writer – and creative force – got none (until very recently).Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul Degraw: One thing I’ve noticed about comic book fans is that they are very big on comic book artists getting their due. There is a strong feeling that many of the iconic artists like Jack Kirby were screwed by the studios and were really the visionaries and creators.

      This partially gets directed at Stan Lee.

      This is somewhat complicated by the “Marvel Method” which put a lot of the mid-stage writing duties on the artist as well. Jack Kirby was often drawing a twenty or thirty page comic based on a one-page story description from Lee–that means he was creating the shape of the story and the interactions between the characters.Report

  3. Will Truman says:

    Clearly I should have added that second sentence that I couldn’t figure out the wording to, which basically said “The article itself isn’t actually that bad, but man: Salon.”Report

  4. dhex says:

    if it didn’t have that headline no one would have clicked on it. same with will’s packaging. you gotta make stuff interesting.

    now if you’re willing to click on a salon link, that’s between you, your therapist, and your clergy. no one can help that. but packaging matters; despite my deep dislike of the no just no formulation, i hadda see what was what. and now i’ll never sleep again. that’s on me. it was clearly communicated that something unpleasant was going to be unveiled, much like seeing “” in the hover details of a link, and i chose to click anyway.

    packaging matters. now i’m gonna go cry.Report

  5. Richard Hershberger says:

    On lying: That second link doesn’t impress me. If the person doesn’t give a simple answer to what you think is a simple yes or no question, it might be because he is lying. It also might be because the question isn’t as simple as you think. And I know people who have a verbal tic of beginning sentences with “Well,…” Informal speech is filled with various place holders and space fillers. These are not indications of lying.

    The first link is better, especially the part about cognitive overload. Doing traffic accident cases there is a lot of he-said, she-said. Who had the red light, and who the green? You would think that these would be tough to crack on the plaintiff’s side, what with having the burden of proof. It turns out that most people can’t construct a good lie with consistent surrounding details. Probe around the primary lie in cross examination and it rapidly becomes obvious that they got nothing. This doesn’t work with a good, smart liar. He will do his world-building ahead of time and come in prepared. But most people aren’t that good.Report

    • Reformed Republican in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      It also might be because the question isn’t as simple as you think.

      I very rarely answer a yes or no question with a simple yes or no. People will ask a question with what they think is a yes or no answer, when often the answer is some variation of “it depends.” They assume certain conditions. When answering, I will qualify my answer to make clear what conditions I am assuming, so they can be sure our assumptions match up.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      I would imagine, also, that the ability to handle a high cognitive load correlates negatively with causing accidents.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:


      I find that defense counsel are straight up easy at lying to me. The most common lie is that they are talking to the partners about an issue. I check with the partners and the partners always say “No. I haven’t heard from defense.”Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Lawyers lying is a different matter from parties lying. Lawyers have more training.

        We in personal injury have the advantage that defense counsel frequently is the insurance carrier’s staff counsel. They are overworked and understaffed, paid straight salary, and have nothing to prove. Their greatest goal in life is to make this case go away. They would rather settle sooner rather than later, would rather settle later than go to trial, and if it goes to trial they want to get it over with. They don’t want to engage in stupid discovery pissing matches, because they don’t have the time or support staff for that crap. They don’t want to appeal a verdict, but that take a huge amount of their time. I love dealing with staff counsel.

        Outside counsel is another matter. Their incentives are to bill every fraction of an hour that the insurance carrier will pay. I generally assume that they will be higher maintenance because of this. And while many of them are fine to deal with, acting perfectly professional, you get the occasional one who thinks (sometimes correctly) that the way to impress the adjuster (and thereby get more work in the future) is to go into rabid dog mode. Those guys are a total pain in the ass to deal with. I know: I worked for one of them for three years. Were I a better person I would not have enjoyed quite so much reading the Court of Appeals opinion when they upheld his disbarment.Report

  6. Marchmaine says:

    I read the articles on Lying (just in case Chris is wondering {but then maybe I didn’t} 🙂 )… mostly out of professional curiosity. Obviously we all deal with lying, and certain professions have vary particular burdens in that area – like the FBI and Sales Reps, because the most notorious and prolific liars are criminals and buyers.

    Many years ago I was given one nugget of wisdom from a PhD in Math who had become a software sales rep – and was old when software was young – he told me that our job was to “get to the truth.” We might not like the answers we get, but you can only survive and do good business deals (which is how you survive) if you can get to the truth of why a buyer is buying. One would think this would be easy… but you the consumer keep getting in the way – because you are a lying liar. And you are terribad at it. And that’s ok, my job isn’t to expose your lies with an inquisitorial, “Aha!” (at least, not out-loud), but to help you navigate the unsustainable web of conflicting directives, unclear priorities, impossible deliverables, and budgets that don’t match any of the above. No wonder you’re such liars… everyone you deal with is lying to you. Except me, the Sales Rep.

    The first article struck me as a relationship article – interpersonal lying is very different than professional lying. The FBI article was decent, like card-players looking for tells… what I found interesting though, was how most people are reading the article thinking how they will trap their dishonest sales rep… when I’m using exactly the FBI tactics on you. Some of you have probably been in this situation:

    Buyer: Does your product/service do A
    Rep: Yes, our A is really good with it you can…
    Buyer: Yes or no is all I want.
    Rep: Ok, got it.
    Buyer: Do you do B?
    Rep: Yes
    Buyer: Do you do C?
    Rep: No, that’s an interesting question why is C important to you? Many of our customers find that A solves problem X
    Buyer: Well, er… LIES.

    The funny thing is, I know that my product does A, B and D and my competitor does B, C and D. Where A and C are (sometimes) different ways of solving problem X. If you were honest with yourself, and your project’s goals and budget you would quickly isolate the value props for A vs. C and what Problem X really represents. But, you don’t do that.

    Alas, an actual meeting intervenes… so I’ll stop here and collect any “This sales-rep at band-camp once made me do x” objections later (if anyone cares).Report

    • Kim in reply to Marchmaine says:

      The one tell you absolutely can’t fake is the Arabic Rug Merchant trick: Pupil dilation.
      If you’re playing against someone who’s good enough to measure it well, you better hope you can play that too…
      (note: against actual rug merchants, your better bet is to explain to them that you know quality when you see it — and of course you’re interested, but they’d better give you a good deal anyway, because you know what a good deal is).Report

  7. Chip Daniels says:

    The Salon article falls into the pit of self centeredness, displaying the very problem it decries.
    The sins of the colonial Europeans were not any more extraordinary than the other historical empires, anymore than our acheivements.
    Seeing other cultures and ethnicities clearly requires seeing ourselves clearly.
    We really are not the center of the universe, and we really aren’t the prime mover.

    Even more importantly, the author views history thru the lens of judgment and blame, rendering summary judgment of guilt as if it matters.

    It doesnt. The lesson of history isn’t that Woodrow Wilson was racist, but how do we learn from the failings of the past and apply them to the present.Report

    • Chris in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      What is extraordinary about the sins of Europeans is their scale, spanning as they did 6 continents, impacting pretty much every single person on the planet, and continuing to do so to some extent to the present day (in the form of destruction of the environment, continued projection of force, and the historical residue of forced relocation, social and economic marginalization, forced political divisions, etc., along with continued institutional and individual racism).Report

      • North in reply to Chris says:

        Sure, but is that not simply an accident of history more than anything else? Setting aside some of the geography is destiny implications of Guns Germs and Steel etc… is there any reason to think that if Africans or Chinese or Arabs or American First Nations people had developed globe spanning technology, administrative techniques and superior armaments as the Europeans did that they wouldn’t have embarked on an era of global conquest, subjugation, colonization and looting? The histories of those cultures and peoples don’t seem to suggest that; we are, after all, the lot of us human.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

          See the Ottoman Empire and latter Japan and to an extent Egypt. The Ottoman Empire was conquering large chunks of Europe and the Middle East and ruling over it in a colonial manner in the same way the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French were dominating the New World and at the same time to.

          When the Japanese managed to modernize themselves during the 19th century, they quickly embarked on building a colonial empire of their own in Asia. When Egypt briefly managed to modernize itself during the 19th century under the Mohammed Ali dynasty, they started embarking on foreign adventures in the Sudan.Report

        • Chris in reply to North says:

          No, there isn’t, and I don’t think the claim is — and it certainly shouldn’t be — that white people are inherently more evil than any other people. The question is rather one of historical and current power, domination, and destructiveness.

          The article in question, which is quite poorly written, to be sure, is basically saying that we shouldn’t whitewash, pardon the pun, that history, because it is important for understanding the world today, and how to change it for the better.Report

          • North in reply to Chris says:

            Well sure, but basically all the heat in this thread is being generated by the articles poor writing, specifically the authors extremely bad choice of phrasing. The title and first paragraph pretty starkly implies that, never mind colonialism or racism etc… that whiteness itself was somehow to blame. So in that choice the author pretty much utterly defeated themselves unless their goal was to indulge in banner rallying for an extremely niche group on the left and provoke reactions ranging from indifferent dismissal to eye rolling contempt to spittle flying outrage from everyone else.Report

            • Chris in reply to North says:

              Eh, I don’t read it that way. Hell, I agree with the first paragraph, and I’m pretty damn white. I just don’t bring any essentialism into it, so it doesn’t make me feel like a bad person simply because I’m white.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                Do you think the authors frame work was based in non-essentialism?

                Not being snarky here, just sometimes you and I see things at 180.

                I tried to replace ‘white’ with ‘authoritative’ and it works to about halfway through then it stops working in specifics.Report

              • Chris in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Yeah, because the specifics are, in fact, white, but I don’t see any essentialism. The fact that Europeans did the things he’s talking about is, unless you’re a “race realist,” largely an accident of history and geography, one that continues to have effects on power structures today. The last part of that is what I take to be his point, but I don’t see anything in which he implies that only white people could do that or that it has something to do with their whiteness.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                I guess the problem I’m having here is how to address racism without invoking essentialism.

                I mean we can abstract the meaning of racism to different shades of nothingness, but then the author would basically written an article about nothing. If that is his intent then fine, but from the cheap seats it looks like he’s trying to make a point about a specific group.Report

              • Chris in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Pretty simply: We point out that a largely socially constructed group, defined by arbitrary cultural and geographical boundaries, has oppressed other groups based on skin color, religion, place of origin, etc. We don’t have to say, “Being from these places makes one do this,” we just say, “People from this place have tended to do this.”

                My son was asking me the other day whether I thought ISIS was evil. After saying, briefly, that I didn’t believe in evil, I said that even if there were such a thing, the people who comprise ISIS are, by and large, capable of not doing it, and even of doing good, and therefore I don’t think they are evil, even if I think they are, by and large, horrible human beings actuality.

                This is how racism works absent essentialism: sure, Europeans didn’t have to conquer the native people of the Americas or Australia and systematically destroy their civilizations (aided greatly by disease, of course); they didn’t have to exploit the people of India, to the point of famine in many cases; they didn’t have to enslave people of Western Africa; they didn’t have to colonize much of Africa and marginalize native Aficans. They could have done things differently in all of those situations, and nothing about whiteness made them do otherwise. The same is true of us: in every case we can treat people with different skin color or religion or national origin equally or not, and how we choose has nothing to do with any racial essence of which we might partake.

                This doesn’t mean that some choices are, given our sociocultural past and present, more difficult than others. The same goes for many members of ISIS, I’m sure. But it is not something inherent in us that causes us to make the bad, easy ones.

                Since the article in question pretty explicitly says that the problem is largely ignorance, and it is a problem that white people are and can continue to play a role in alleviating, I’m not sure how anyone gets essentialism out of it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                Ooooo! Is this where I get to point out that the issue is a cultural one, not a racial one, and it just so happens that white folks seem to embody and/or favor an inferior culture with regards to racism?Report

              • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

                Yes, this is a prefect time and place to say exactly that.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                Wahoo! Okay… here goes…

                It isn’t that white people are naturally racist. It’s just that white, European culture seems flawed with regards to broader societal expectations to not be racist. And if they want to get along with this broader society, they need to abandon this not-inherently-flawed-but-deeply-incompatible-with-our-culture practice.

                HOW’D I DO?!Report

              • greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

                I don’t’ think its reasonable to single out “white european” culture as having this flaw. It seems like a widespread, as in people do this around the world, kind of thing. In the US it is certainly people of white euro decent who have had the power to cause problems and some are struggling with accepting history and correcting present problems. But tribalism is a human thing.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to greginak says:


                I was being sarcastic. Sorry. Mocking the argument often employed by racists trying to hide their racism.

                “I don’t think black people are inferior! It’s just that their culture is the problem!”Report

              • greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

                Ahh…i see. Dumb internet for not having a sarcasm font. Good work then.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to Kazzy says:

                I suppose I’m idly interested to know if it be your thesis that there are no systematic social problems in and among the black population, or if you fancy that the statement is incoherent because normative judgments are impossible, or if you fancy the social problems are someone else’s fault (which would certainly suggest you find someone else’s culture problematic).Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Art Deco says:

                There are systemic social problems in American society.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to greginak says:

                It’s not a white thing, it’s a human thing. Looking askance at the Other is natural for us as humans – we’ve always been (a) born pattern-matching machines who recognize and categorize trends even when they don’t actually exist, (b) in a Hobbesean struggle of all-against-all where the Other is literally trying to steal your children’s birthright. All cultures that we read about expanded at the expense of their neighbors because if they didn’t they became cultures we don’t read about after their neighbors did the expanding.

                Back within our society, getting out of this cycle would require those on the high-power side of the dynamic – which is, for better or worse, in this society, largely white and largely male – to move beyond listening to that ancient voice. It’s the power dynamic that turns prejudice, which again is not a white thing, but a human thing, into racism, which is its institutional expression.

                It’s not because we’re particularly bad – by no measure are we – but because any such badness has special consequences in this societal context.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                Maybe I’m thinking of essentialism in a different context. How are you defining it?Report

              • Chris in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Essentialism is the belief that entities (people, objects, abstract categories even) have a set of necessary and sufficient features that make them what they are, and that to some degree (in combination with inessential characteristics, accidents) determine the way they interact with everything else.

                In this case, racial essentialism says that there are inherent features about the races that make them a certain way.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                Here I go getting long winded, it isn’t a claim on how the world works, just how I see it from from my position. The definition I was using wasn’t very good. It was using parameters where you were using features. Another separate definition was using attributes which is probably the better term. To cast a broad net at this, I will group all three terms together, Feature, Attribute, Parameter (FAP). This should likely capture the original ‘essence’ of things to identifiable and function.

                The framework of the article are based around four things:
                1. A identifiable group
                2. A identifiable group behavior
                3. A assumed defect
                4. A proposed solution to the defect

                Why all this pivots around essentialism:
                1a. To identify a group typically requires FAP, (in this case ‘white’)so this begins in essentialism.
                2a. The behavior needs to be identified, so again we are working with FAP defining the behavior(in this case with references in history, along with the behaviors of the present) .
                3a. The assumed defect/behavior of racism requires FAP to define it, and again to assign it to a particular group.
                4a. In the end the author identifies himself as part of the group that is defective and lays the framework for ‘another world’ where the implication is a world with a group that is not defective.

                I don’t see how it can be proposed that essentialism isn’t part of any piece or the whole of the issue. I suppose one could invoke non-essentialism but from where I stand it looks like it erases the entire purpose.Report

              • Chris in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Hmm.. While it is undeniable that he has grouped people together based on features and attributes (and parameters, though I’m not sure what you mean by that), all that he has suggested is inherent and immutable in those groups is a history and its attendant power dynamics. He’s quite clear that he believes the sorts of behaviors he’s talking about are mutable, in fact. So I’m not clear how this could be any sort of essentialism. It’s explicitly the opposite.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                I think if his solution is successful that he would desire the new normal as being unchanging/unmutable. The ‘another world’ he references.

                Maybe we are talking past each other in the timeline. The behavior is mutable to get it to the desired form. After that, the desire is to keep it in the end state of being non-defective.Report

              • Chris in reply to Joe Sal says:

                I think he simply wants to create a world in which those of us who are not directly affected by racism are able to recognize it, both in history and the present, and can therefore work towards eliminating it.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Chris says:

                Well he probably should have led with that, and you did a better job in one sentence than he did in the entire article.Report

              • Chris in reply to Chris says:

                Well, I’m a genius so…


              • Fortytwo in reply to Chris says:

                Evil exists. Full stop. Grouping ethnicities is a fool’s game. As Bob Marley said “many more will have to suffer”. We are all human, and a large part of humanity is to take from others. I have no doubt that any ethnic group would oppress others just as Europeans have done given the technology. There is a gulf of understanding between any two individuals more than any ethnic experience holding us together.
                Evil exists by humans hurting other humans. It can be as simple as cheating on your wife or as complex as an entire nation deciding that some people don’t matter. We all feel and hurt alone.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Joe Sal says:

                Couldn’t we define the most easily identifiable behaviors that promote, perpetuate, or manifest racism and challenge those who practice, enable, or neglect their duty to prevent them to cease?

                Then we move on to the slightly less easily identifiable behaviors. So on and so forth.

                In way, this is the path we have been taking. Thinking exclusively about America, we have eliminated many forms of racism. As we get deeper into the less easily identifiable form of racism, there is naturally going to be disagreement and this is where constructive dialogue would be really helpful.

                If it just so happens that most of the people who practice, enable, or neglect their duty to prevent racism are white… well, so be it. We need not malign them with guilt or draw-and-quarter them as these behaviors do not happen absent context. But they shouldn’t get a pass for their continued presence.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Kazzy says:

                I think the behaviors would have a lot to do with oppression and coercion. While it may be useful (or not) to a degree to talk of these things in the context of race, why wouldn’t we be addressing the behaviors of agents of authority toward all people?Report

          • j r in reply to Chris says:

            Saying that the article is poorly written is an understatement. It could have used the substantial time and energy of a good editor. Given that it was published on Salon and Alternet, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it started out more reasonable and was edited to be a polemic. There are some people that are never going to buy the argument that the author is trying to make. You’re probably not going to get the median Breitbart reader to think seriously about white supremacy, but certainly it’s not that hard to write something on the topic with which the folks here could agree.

            The other more serious problem is that this article comes across less as a serious meditation on white supremacy and more an exercise in “I’m one of the good ones.” And that’s never a good look. Maybe this guy has spent his life working for the cause of civil rights and racial justice. I applaud that. This article, however, ain’t that.Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Chris says:

        If the subject is settlement colonization in the 1500 to 1800 time period, then it is racist not to include the Chinese, who in absolute numbers settled as many people in colonies as any of the European powers of that time. More broadly, settlement colonization at more moderate levels (comparable to the Dutch and French) was occurring in the Balkans by the Ottoman Turks.Report

        • Chris in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Sure, I don’t see anyone arguing otherwise.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to PD Shaw says:

          China and Russia get away with a lot because people seem to make this weird exception for land-based continuous empires compared to maritime empires like the American empires of different European countries.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to LeeEsq says:

            And the Chinese in particular because there’s this idea that the whole “turning inward” thing with e.g. Zheng He wasn’t largely restricted to trade and that business as usual wasn’t going on pretty much everywhere else.Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I agree with this. The foremost purpose of history is to learn about the past, not to provide self-congratulatory morality stories.

      This article (and the linked pieces) remind me of Lost Cause buffs who point to something like a racist joke told by Abraham Lincoln (at least by today’s standards), and then spin a story about what Lincoln was really all about. Occam’s razor be damned.

      I learned in high school that Wilson fired blacks from the White House and praised a Birth of a Nation. I don’t know what millennials are taught, but if they are going to focus their limited time on labeling Wilson and all his works racist, like the League of Nation idea, they are not going to know much history.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to PD Shaw says:

        Seeing history as simple morality plays, actually leads directly to racial essentialism.

        Someone reads a story of the Holocaust and concludes that Germans are an especially evil people; then reads a personal account of a Palestinian and decides that Jews are the evil ones.

        It’s all of a piece, of reducing people down so as to comfortably render a verdict. It strips away the agency and complexity of other people and makes a real conversation more difficult.Report

        • Chris in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I wonder who’s seeing history as “simple morality plays,” the person saying that we should not leave out parts of our history because they’re uncomfortable to us, or the person up in arms because he or she believes that so arguing is beyond the pale?Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to Chris says:

            The person leaving out large parts of history is the one arguing that the League of Nations was a product of Wilson’s personal mission of white imperialism.* He is omitting the fact that the League was a highly debated subject both nationally and internationally by a host of actors, and of course, the U.S. didn’t join, which raises a lot of questions about the point of this at all.

            * “Wilson’s League of Nations was an instrument of imperial conquest. It was meant to make the world safe for white supremacy, not democracy.” (Wasserman)Report

            • Chris in reply to PD Shaw says:

              a.) Wilson was of course a champion of the League of Nations
              b.) The imperialism part is almost certainly referring to the Permanent Mandates Commission, which was, you know, imperialist. It is, in fact, one of the reasons the U.S. ultimately rejected the League.Report

              • PD Shaw in reply to Chris says:

                Since Wilson was willing to accept the Senate reservation on mandates (which merely required Congressional consent to them), this was not the reason that the League was rejected, nor advocated by Wilson.Report

  8. Damon says:

    Bethany Mandel: I started reading the Daily Beast article, and frankly, couldn’t finnish it. Why? “Having practiced at a New Jersey firing range, she prefers a revolver to a pistol because “my aim is far better,” she says.” Christ, a revolver IS a pistol. Did they mean semi-auto? They can’t even get their facts correct. But she bought a 22 magnum? Oh yeah, that’s going to put someone down.

    As to the issue at hand, well, I’ve seen as worse on the other side. That’s the state of our republic.

    Mankind’s greatest enemy: Yawn. “Attack me with everything you have”

    Lies: Most of my life I’ve lived in the “Land of Is”. It’s required for my work. Never give an auditor an open ended answer.Report

    • Joe Sal in reply to Damon says:

      An aside on the 22 magnum:
      They are similar to a 5.7x28mm round, have a velocity in the 2000fps range. At close proximity, using a barrel length over 26″ and the correct ammo they can penetrate through light body armor and produce a lethal wound cavity.Report

      • Damon in reply to Joe Sal says:

        Oh no doubt, but she got a 22 magnum revolver. A quick search check suggested that it wasn’t even as good as a .380. I’m not sure even what’s the point unless it’s to brandish it and scare someone.Report

        • Alan Scott in reply to Damon says:

          or, failing that, to shoot them for reasons that don’t have to be reliably lethal in order to be effective.

          I mean, I suppose I’d rather get shot with a 22 magnum than a high-caliber rifle. But I’d rather not be shot at all than get shot with a 22.Report

  9. Troublesome Frog says:

    I’m trying to figure out a way to have my ashes surreptitiously added to the coffee grounds in Starbucks Coffee shops.Report

  10. Breitbart vs. The Federalist. It’s like when the Cowboys play the Patriots: hard to have a rooting interest.Report

    • j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      How about female journalist vs racist misogynist trolls?

      You never seem to have a hard time deciding when the target is someone who shares your political and ideological preferences. I guess that sympathy is for the ingroup.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

        It’s just hard to have any sympathy for someone who would buy such a wimpy gun.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

        Well, one the one hand she’s getting messages about how filthy Jews like her shouldn’t be allowed to live, no one cares about her c**t kids, and how she should die bitch die.

        On the other hand, she writes for The Federalist (and evidently chose the wrong gun).Report

        • I’m not seeing exactly what Breitbart’s guilt is here. Did they make death threats? Did they encourage death threats? Did they say anything explicitly anti-Semitic? (Which would be odd, considering that Breitbart himself was Jewish.) Or did they criticize her harshly whereupon a Twitter mob did what Twitter mobs do?

          Should Twitter suspend Breitbart’s account?Report