If Conservatives Want to be Heard, Stop Whining About Unfair

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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201 Responses

  1. Em Carpenter says:

    Whiny conservatives are the biggest hypocrites, since we liberals are so criticized for our sustained outrage and righteous indignation. Like I tell my snowflakey brethren, stop crying wolf. When everything is a travesty of justice, nothing is.Report

    • To your point: even the usage of “snowflake” has been so universally applied it has lost the meaning it had for a brief period. Unfairness, especially with pointing out hypocrisy does really solve anything other revealing the obvious. It is called the hypocrisy fallacy in philosophy for a reason. Certainly moral arguments it matters more, but just complaining about the other guy or the system doesn’t accomplish much.Report

  2. Murali says:

    So, are you decrying fairness as an ideal?Report

    • Not at all, but where fairness is just that, an ideal, trying to use unfairness as an operating philosophy is going to be very limiting in accomplishing something positive.Report

    • Em Carpenter in reply to Murali says:

      I don’t think that’s his point at all. Of course fairness is an ideal- though perhaps an unattainable one. Rather, I read it as a call to realize the world does not owe us fairness, so we should stop whining and work to change the things we can.Report

      • Murali in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        What do you mean the world does not owe us fairness? If you mean animals, trees, the weather or rocks then sure: Geographical features don’t owe us fairness. Other people do. To be unfair to someone is to at least prima facie treat them unjustly. ergo each of us owes it to everyone else to be fair to them. At most you have some prerogative to unfairly favour yourself and those near and dear to you. But those are exceptions to general rules about how we ought to treat others.

        Sure it may very well be true that complaining about how one has been treated unjustly/unfairly/badly is not an effective means to being treated well by others. But I file such things under the same category as the thought that minorities complaining about bigotry is not the best way to endear themselves to others/improve their lot. Things that may very well be true, but only in virtue of the pre-existing bigotry. And in most circumstances it would be a very bigoted thing to say without a lot of prefacing and disclaimers etc etc.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

          Geographical features don’t owe us fairness. Other people do.

          Whence this debt?Report

          • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

            Are all (or for that matter even most) obligations matters of debt?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

              “Split the church!”

              Anyway, instead of fighting tooth and nail over whether “owe” implies a “debt”, I’d rather rephrase and ask “whence this obligation?”Report

              • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

                What about the general injunction to treat similar cases similarly? Complaints about unfairness often boil down to complaints about similar cases receiving disparate treatment. Disagreements about whether two things are similar cases boil down to disagreements about whether X is an appropriate basis for deciding how to treat people. These questions can also be resolved by asking whether we would like to live in a world in which others who might be in a position to treat us well or badly routinely decide whether to do so on the basis of X.

                If you find yourself saying my case is different and the principle does not apply you’re not doing morality. You’re doing something else. But the power of morality is precisely that you get to say that here is this rule: It binds you as much as it binds me; with this rule you have to do what I say because I would do the same if the situation was reversed.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

                Yeah, I’m asking where that comes from.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is this a, “What makes you think ethical obligations are a thing at all?” question, or a, “What makes you think fairness is something ethical people should strive for?” question.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Well, the original phrasing was:

                “Geographical features don’t owe us fairness. Other people do.”

                I was wondering about the whole “other people owe us fairness” thing.

                It was more of a “they do?” response.Report

              • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

                Treating similar cases similarly seems like a basic requirement of reason. It is flat out inconsistent to say on the one hand that a set of features X is sufficient reason to do Y in case 1 and also on the other hand to say one doesn’t have sufficient reason to do Y when X obtains in case 2.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

                Seems strange that so many people seem capable of doing just that, then.Report

              • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

                People are of course capable of being irrational and self-serving. No one said they are robots driven to rationally obey the principles they prescribe for others. But if you want to ask why they should do Y, I’m not sure I can go anywhere beyond “because it would be irrational/immoral not to do so”.

                Just because immorality is ubiquitous doesn’t mean that it is normatively desirable.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

                I’m not sure I can go anywhere beyond “because it would be irrational/immoral not to do so”.

                I’m not certain that we would agree on what is rational.
                I’m not certain that we would agree on what is moral.

                This does not necessarily make either one of us irrational.
                Nor does it necessarily make either one of us immoral.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                “Now think of the following use of language: I send someone shopping. I give him a slip of paper marked “five red apples”. He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who opens the drawer marked “apples”; then he looks up the word “red” in a chart and finds a colour sample next to it; then he says the series of elementary number-words – I assume that he knows them by heart – up to the word “five”, and for each number-word he takes an apple of the same colour as the sample out of the drawer. — It is in this and similar ways that one operates with words. — “But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word ‘red’ and what he is to do with the word ‘five’?” — Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere. – But what is the meaning of the word “five”? – No such thing was in question here, only how the word “five” is used.”

                Explanations come to an end somewhere.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                So ethics assume a shared experience of symbols and referents?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                The idea of explaining where an ethical belief “comes from” assumes a shared experience. Explanations end, and you’re left with how people act. Including the “act” of explanation.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                And we’re back to something like this:

                Person 1: Ethical Assertion.
                Person 2: What the hell?
                Person 3: Hey, people make ethical assertions.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                “We’re back to…” ???Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                We used to be in a place where the argument would have hammered on the ethical argument and its soundness rather than on the universality of people making ethical assertions.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ahh, so when you asked where does ethical belief X “come from” what you really meant is “what’s the (sound) argument for X”?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                “What the hell is that based on?”
                “You sure seem to be making a lot of assumptions in that assertion that I’m not sure it’s safe to assume that everybody else shares. Please make them explicit.”


              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Explanations end somewhere.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Almost immediately if they beg the question.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s obviously one way to explain moral rules you disagree with.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Especially the ones that are justified by someone saying something like “it’d be immoral not to do that”. (Something that actually happened!)Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                You don’t agree with Murali that consistency is a condition on rationality?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

                There are probably smart math words for this but isn’t this like the thing with graphs where like the line can’t double back against itself because X is either one thing or another thing but it can’t be both things because it is a single thing?

                Or like how Louis CK said his conversations with his young kids often ended with him just yelling, “Because some things are and some thing aren’t and you can’t both be and not be!”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Sure, sometimes.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Murali says:

                Complaints about percieved unfairness often boil down to complaints about assumed similar cases receiving disparate treatment.

                As often as not, a claim of unfairness is in the eye of the beholder, and not in fact, unfair.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                If that’s right, then who other than each of us on our own terms determines what constitutes a *legitimate* claim of unfairness?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Disinterested third parties and objective review of the facts.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                {{You’re joking, right?}}

                “Look, I’m a Fairness Expert, OK? I’ve got degrees and everything. You have to do what I say!”Report

              • Maribou in reply to Stillwater says:

                @stillwater He didn’t say disinterested experts. Disinterested third parties. Those without a stake.

                (I’m not sure I believe in “disinterested” as an absolute, but there is a level of relative disinterest that still has a great deal of meaning despite its lack of absoluteness.)Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Maribou says:


        • Em Carpenter in reply to Murali says:

          I don’t think treating people with a minimum level of respect is the kind of “fairness” this article is talking about. Nor is it about equal treatment under the law, which is also owed to people (at least in the United States).
          I think it is more along the lines of people complaining that the way in which their tax dollars are used is “not fair”. Or that certain media outlets broadcast one point of view more than another. These things may not be fair, but there is no requirement that they be- so if you don’t like it, take action.
          It is about personal accountability and active participation.Report

          • Murali in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            When you exclude people from the category of people whose ideas are worth taking at least minimally seriously, you fail to afford them the minimal respect owed to moral agents. i.e. beings who are at least in principle capable of figuring out what they ought to do.

            Is not being afforded the basic level of respect what they mean when they complain about unfair treatment? maybe maybe not.

            Would they afford this respect others? probably not

            But is it nevertheless a legitimate complaint that they could make? Quite plausibly yes.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:


              I am not sure this is true. An op-ed space is physical real estate and of limited quality. Suppose the NY Times or Washington Post gave an op-ed column to full on white supremacist? Someone who jeeringly wrote the New Jew Times or Jew York Times? Suppose this person was filled with frothing fantasies on how minorities were going to turn all white-Americans into slaves?

              Is this a person worth putting on the op-ed page? Would you tsk tsk the readership of the Times and the Post for complaining about the inclusion of a raving nut?

              Suppose it wasn’t even this bad. Suppose it was someone who sincerely believed we are all descended from an ancient alien civilization that crashed into earth 400,000 years ago? Is that a view point worth putting in print in an august publication?

              I know there is an old joke about a liberal being so broad minded that they can’t take their own side in an argument but this is just silly.Report

              • Murali in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Two points:

                1. Do we have an actual sound argument against white supremacy or not? If its all just a power play, what grounds do we have to complain now that the white supremacists are in power?

                2. Ideally, I’d want to take all comers. In the real world, numbers matter. KDW’s views are the logical extension of views that half the country claims to believe in. Writing off a lone crank is one thing. Time is precious. Writing off half the country is an entirely different ballgame.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Murali says:

                Do we have an actual sound argument against white supremacy or not?

                Yes, and the utter refusal of white supremacists to acknowledge this is another reason why their ideas are not worth taking seriously.

                In the real world, numbers matter. KDW’s views are the logical extension of views that half the country claims to believe in.

                Yet that half of the country doesn’t believe this to be the case.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Murali says:

                KDW’s views are the logical extension of views that half the country claims to believe in.

                Not sure I see the reasoning here. How is capital punishment for women who’ve had an abortion (by hanging them) the “logical extension” of a pro-life position?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                How is capital punishment for women who’ve had an abortion (by hanging them) the “logical extension” of a pro-life position?

                If abortion really is murder, then it’s the 1st degree, premeditated cold blooded murder of a baby.

                We can get to the death penalty real easy from there.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Dark Matter says:

                @dark-matter There are plenty of other pro-life positions. And less flip, less smug ways of discussing this one than Williamson used, both in his tweets and on his podcast. (I know that sounds weird, that I care more about the tone police or something, but when it comes to mass executions by the state, people being flip, direct, and excitable about them frankly is a lot more scary for me than a more nuanced view that took some *care* with spelling out one’s position and why it *wouldn’t* involve mass executions by the state….)Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Maribou says:


                There are plenty of other pro-life positions.

                The bulk of the pro-life movement claims to believe
                1) Abortion is murder.
                2) Thus the current situation is tolerating genocide.
                3) This should be handled via criminal law, i.e. establish the legal theory that abortion is murder.

                And normally there’s silence on the subject of what happens to women who have abortions after it’s outlawed, and deer-in-headlights looks if the topic is raised to the typical supporter. If pressed on the subject we tend to get either “pray for them” (because that’s what police do with murderers) or “treat it as murder”. Apparently after it’s outlawed abortion will magically stop.

                The higher level pro-life people will talk about how only abortion doctors will be targeted and/or punished, but that ignores the technology for self-induced abortions exists.

                Calling for death by hanging is intellectually honest. If we go down this path then “punish the woman” is such an obvious result even Trump saw the implications.

                These laws will be ignored without strict and harsh enforcement, that’s why the job needs to be handed to the criminal law enforcement machinery. That the pro-life movement flinches away from looking at or defining what “strict and harsh enforcement” means is besides the point. Society already has established, accepted rules for what to do about 1st degree murder, genocide, and the like.

                I haven’t read Williamson’s work directly, just comments on it, however as far as I can tell; His problem is he’s being more honest and using less magic thinking than is politically correct.

                I like honest. I dislike magic thinking. If and when we decide to treat abortion like murder, I expect something a LOT closer to “hang them” than “pray for them”.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Dark Matter says:

                “The bulk of the pro-life movement claims to believe
                1) Abortion is murder.”

                What proof do you have of that statement? I disagree with it, strongly. At most, I would probably not require proof that the bulk of the pro-life movement claims to believe that abortion is manslaughter.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Maribou says:

                I would say it is more accurate to assert that the vast majority of pro-life and pro-choice people have much more nuanced and complex view than the party line would suggest.

                The idea that a fertilized ovum is a baby, or that a 8 month fetus is no more than a hangnail, are positions that I think very few people actually hold.

                As evidence I point to the polls showing strong support for choice in the first trimester, dwindling to very little in the last trimester.

                The idea that human-ness happens at some unspecified and unknowable place in between frustrates ideologues, but happens to be the position most people including myself hold.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                @chip-daniels That seems logical to me.

                I was merely trying to be as willing to accept as much of Dark Matter’s claim as I possibly could, for the sake of appreciating his position better, and that was how far I could get.

                FWIW, and I’ve probably mentioned this before, the expressed more or less mainstream moral position in Japan (the last time I checked) is that every abortion is a terrible tragedy, and also no one’s business but the mother’s. The law is stricter than that, but since exceptions are granted at a doctor’s willingness to claim things fell under such an exception, it’s essentially the legal framing as well. The Western polarized version is not the only version.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Maribou says:

                Dark Matter: “The bulk of the pro-life movement claims to believe 1) Abortion is murder.”

                @maribou What proof do you have of that statement?

                You’re the first person I’ve heard suggest they don’t believe that.





                Donald Trump abortion comments exposed the incoherence of the pro-life Right.
                The Republican Party, its presidential candidates, and all major pro-life organizations claim to believe two things about abortion. First, “unborn children” deserve the same legal protection as born children. Second, a woman who hires someone to kill her unborn child should not be punished.


                So apparently the pro-life movement wants abortion treated exactly the same as murder… except there shouldn’t be any punishment. However if they ever are successful at making a fetus a full person, the logic leads where the logic leads.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Those aren’t statistics about “the bulk” of a movement, that’s rhetoric by pundits / niche marketers. (Much like Williamson himself)

                Are you arguing that the loudest voices of the pro-life movement claim to believe that abortion is murder? And that it suits the left-slanted media to believe that most pro-life people believe that also? I don’t disagree with either of those, but they are less interesting claims.

                I’m surprised I’m the first person you’ve heard not believe that most members of the pro-life movement believe that abortion is murder; I know a lot of pro-life women, and literally none of them believe that (or would put it on a t-shirt or bumper sticker). (Many of them do believe it’s death of a human being, and that some forms of that death should be punishable as murder while others most certainly should not, but that’s a far more complicated thing.)Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Maribou says:

                Are you arguing that the loudest voices of the pro-life movement claim to believe that abortion is murder?

                If we define “the loudest voices” to be “all of the major pro-life organizations”, then yes.

                And they are to the pro-life people what the NRA is to the gun rights people, so it’s not unreasonable to think they’re more extreme. However with more than one group it’s interesting there’s no room for a less extreme group.

                And more importantly, these are the groups which are attempting to make law. Buying/advising politicians, that sort of thing.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Murali says:

              They may be capable of figuring it out, but that doesn’t mean they have plausibly come close enough to having figured it out already to be worth taking seriously.Report

              • Murali in reply to pillsy says:

                If they are capable of figuring it out, why are we somehow more certain that we are likely to have figured it out than they have? There seems to be some question begging about our moral intuitions vs theirs and somehow we’ve come to conclude that our intuitions are better than theirs. On what basis can we make this judgement. It would be viciously circular to make the judgement simply on the basis that we have this intuition. Why is it that we’re exercising our faculties of reasoning well and they’re not?Report

              • pillsy in reply to Murali says:

                If they are capable of figuring it out, why are we somehow more certain that we are likely to have figured it out than they have?

                Because (a) we don’t have a choice, and (b) believe it or not, people actually do present obviously terrible arguments for their positions all the time.

                It’s also not a matter of simply what our moral intuitions disagree with, since it is entirely possible to disregard someone who advocates for positions similar to your own because the arguments they offer are trash. If nobody has ever made you cringe because they agree with you, you probably don’t spend much time on Twitter.Report

  3. Derek Stanley says:

    I chuckle when I see this stuff. It is the pot calling the kettle black.

    Liberals do the same whining, just in different areas.
    – wealth inequality
    – opportunity inequality
    – talk show inequality
    – NRA influence
    – police bias
    – President bais
    – sexual preference bais
    – global warming
    – Russian meddling
    – Russian collusion

    and the list can go on. We all have things that we feel are very important and get frustrated when it does not seem like people care about it as much as we do. Even this article at times is complaining about conservatives complaining. Take your own advice.Report

    • Fair enough. I think there is a difference in the occasional complaint, as we all do, about topics is one thing. Constantly acting as if everything is unfair all the time for no other reason than “they” are out to get you, whoever “they” may be, is something worth decrying. Everything in moderation, of course.Report

      • Murali in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        Is it paranoia when they really are out to get you? Progressive journalists were out to get Kevin Williamson fired from the Atlantic. They did get him fired from the atlantic. And they would probably be out to get anything resembling a movement conservative fired from the atlantic. Maybe movement conservatives do deserve it, but they are not paranoid about whether progressive media types are out to get them.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Murali says:

          They would not have succeeded in other cases.

          We know this because conservatives complain about how the Left doesn’t believe that Bret Stephens, Megan McArdle, et c., deserve their high-profile platforms, and yet they have not been fired.

          The Williamson thing is, in fact, an excellent example of how being overly committed to a narrative of “unfairness” can distort one’s views [1]. Because Williamson must have been treated unfairly, many conservative commentators have decided they have to ratify advocating the death penalty for women who have abortions as a mainstream conservative position. After all, if it were an extreme, odious position, there would be no injustice, or at least the injustice would not be so keenly felt.

          [1] A hazard that extends to being over-committed to almost any narrative.Report

          • Murali in reply to pillsy says:

            A few points:

            1. Bret Stephens and Megan McArdle are hardly movement conservatives. Megan McArdle is a moderate libertarian. AFAICT Bret Stephens doesn’t even deny AGW, only the wisdom/efficacy of the standard policy solutions to it. When all is said and done, Ross Douthat may be your preferred example. But I’m sure everyone just ignores him.

            2. We’re still conceding that they are out to get conservatives, just that they don’t manage to get them most of the time. Depending on how you look at it, the win:loss ratio looks better or worse. It doesn’t say anything pretty about progressives in the media if they are out to get you but only too incompetent to actually get you.

            3. Full disclosure. I do favour the death penalty for murder and favour the long drop as a method of execution. AFAICT it seems at least as humane as the lethal injection (especially when people get creative with those chemical cocktails). Also, while I disagree with Williamson in his opinion that all abortion is murder, I do think abortion in at least the third trimester (and maybe even the second) for reasons outside of medical self-defence is murder and ought to be treated by the law as such. Williamson’s firing cut a little too close to home. I realise this admission puts me well to the right of everyone on this site with regards to this issue and hope it does not cost me too much of the good will I normally receive from everyone here.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Murali says:

              Bret Stephens and Megan McArdle are hardly movement conservatives. Megan McArdle is a moderate libertarian.

              Yet conservatives who were disgruntled over Williamson’s firing were happy to claim them as part of the movement in order to enhance the salience of Williamson’s firing, because the Left wants them fired [1]. The Left wants all sorts of things, and doesn’t usually get them from the editors of The Atlantic and similar outlets.

              So if you’re right, it’s just piles on another example of how the Right’s over-investment in the “unfair media” narrative distorts their perspective and arguments.

              It doesn’t say anything pretty about progressives in the media if they are out to get you but only too incompetent to actually get you.

              It doesn’t need to say anything pretty. The mere existence of people who would treat you in a manner you regard as unfair is not, in and of itself, evidence that you are being treated unfairly.

              Of course, arguing that having strong preferences of who is worthy of writing for high-profile opinion shops, and expressing those preferences publicly, is pretty innocuous.

              The idea that the you shouldn’t argue over what positions should be (or are) mainstream seems self-contradictory. “We can debate anything except what we can debate!”

              Williamson’s firing cut a little too close to home. I realise this admission puts me well to the right of everyone on this site with regards to this issue and hope it does not cost me too much of the good will I normally receive from everyone here.

              OK, but if, by your own admission, your position is far from the mainstream, why would you expect people who have mainstream positions regard that opinion as acceptable?

              [1] Also Bari Weiss, whose politics are obscure to me, in large measure because her work is almost as lazy and dreary as Stephens’.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:

              McArdle and Stephens are bog-standard contrarian glibertarians who never learned to evolve beyond the hottake and concern trolling liberals.

              There is value in being contrarian at times and going against the status quo but one of the problems with modern media is that we have seemingly a lot of highly compensated people who are paid to write a knee-jerk contrarianism. This doesn’t exactly broaden thought or come across as sincere. It comes across like being a smug jerk.Report

        • Thinking someone is out to get you, who cannot harm you, is not a bad working definition of paranoia. Williamson can speak for himself, and has in a WSJ piece this past weekend, as has The Atlantic both defending and questioning themselves. It affects the two parties involved, and yes broadly applied to discourse of ideologies in media it is an example of one being represented disproportionately to the other. But, and I ask this with no snark at all, so what? KDW was effectively made a martyr of the piece, and is far more recognizable and marketable now than before. The Atlantic got attention, though bad press its still eyeballs and clicks to their site. (Disclosure, I read both The Atlantic and NRO frequently so take that for what you will). In the end everyone is probably in better shape than before, let alone harmed. The Atlantic can hire and fire who they please. Williamson and any other conservative know if you are going to going swimming in those waters there are sharks, and you have to do things cleaner and better than the next guy. It isn’t fair, its just how it is. I suspect the same would be true if Townhall got a wild hair, hired Maureen Dowd, then fired her after one column when they discover her views on abortion are antithetical to theirs, saying mean things about the right, ect. The “outrage” of the left is out to get them, in this case and in my opinion, is overblown. Frankly, I left the episode respecting both The Atlantic (Not Goldberg’s waffling but allowing their own writers to publish dissent, and for audacity of trying it in the first place) and KDW more than when it began, without agreeing with or defending either.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            “Thinking someone is out to get you, who cannot harm you, is not a bad working definition of paranoia”

            But, as has been seen, they have been harmed. Loosing one’s job, being mobbed, assaulted (the professor protecting Charles Murry) or being SWATed are all things that have happened to conservatives. And being that the left are the ones asking for “safe spaces”, many other actions are now seen as harms, at least in the eyes of those causing the harms.Report

            • I was speaking directly to the KDW situation that was raised in that comment, where everyone not named Kevin D. Williamson was not harmed at all. We should stand up to all mobs, every time, regardless of their wants and causes. It is legitimate to raise the concerns of why the left, academic and otherwise, let the perception they condone such things linger, and frankly many need to answer for encouraging it. But let us not pretend there are not those on the right openly hoping to be in positions of power to do the very same thing if they are not held in checked and policed by their own. When you have folks openly rooting for civil war, what’s a few riots in the course of events to them? Its all wrong, and needs to be called as such.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                I am sorry if I have mistaken you, but “they” implies a plural. So, skipping all the rest, KDW was fired, after leaving his job. Thus real harm and damage were done.

                I agree with you that it is all wrong, this mob mentality, but parts of both sides are openly rooting for civil war and of course, they want to be in positions of power. Anything outside of that would be tantamount to destruction in their eyes.

                As you say, it is legitimate to want to stand up to the parts of the left that are encouraging problems, and by extension stand up to the parts of the right doing the same thing. But that entails recognizing that they have parts, just as the left does, worth listening to.Report

              • No need for sorry I can be inarticulate sometimes, so fault is at least half mine.
                I understand KDW was fired, and shabbily so by any measure, but the end result is he is far more known to people now than he was before, his core audience solidified if not grew, and he can take his pick of publications to go to that are right leaning, if not do his own venture. The people calling for his head MEANT him harm, but in reality-and to their credit some on the left pointed this out as it was occurring-they just turned him into a cause celeb for the right to rally around. In the end, in many ways, KDW is better off.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

              Isn’t it a bit odd to complain about an opinion writer who was fired from his job because his opinions were abhorrent to the readership?
              I mean, its not like Williamson was some office drone fired because his car had the wrong bumpersticker.

              His job, the very essence of his job, was to write opinions about politics in the service of increasing readership with the magazine. When it became clear his opinions were damaging the brand he was dropped.

              It seems similar to complaining when a celebrity who gets hired to endorse a product gets fired when he is enmeshed in scandal.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                For a different perspective on the Williamson firing this is worth a read.

                It’s too bad I’ve been silenced Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read the newspaper article about conservatives being silenced, or watch the TV show, or the 24/7 cable news outlet, or the podcast, or the Youtube channel, or the Regnery Press series of books about liberal fascism, or the website from the well funded think tank, or the magazine article, no, not that one I mean that other one, that describes the iron curtain of silence around conservative viewpoints.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                Duh… just go get a degree in it from Liberty U.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “I mean, its not like Williamson was some office drone fired because his car had the wrong bumpersticker.”

                Actually, I would say the two things are so similar as to be the same.

                The essence of his job was to write opinion pieces to make others see a new perspective. In that, his firing damaged The Atlantic brand.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

                In that, his firing damaged The Atlantic brand.

                I wonder how many people cancelled their subscriptions over Williams’s’s’s firing.

                I wonder how many new subscriptions they got.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Genuine question – I agree with your take here, but is it close enough to that of the Marriott social media guy getting fired by Marriott for liking social media posts that were anti-PRC government?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

                We are all Justine Sacco now.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Kolohe says:

                I don’t really know enough about that case to say, but maybe its worth us examining why we think it is unfair to get fired for having the wrong political opinions in the first place.

                I think most of us here would agree that when politics is wholly unrelated to your job, as a general rule your political opinions shouldn’t result in getting fired.

                But how can that be true for people whose job description is to write about politics for a magazine whose identity centers around politics?

                We can say that the Atlantic is a centrist magazine, true, but that only means that it can select writers based on what the editors view as reasonably centrist and fire someone who seems outside those bounds.

                This is what explains the unease among conservatives, in that they sense (correctly) that the boundaries of acceptable public discourse have shifted and they find themselves on the outside as a barely-tolerated minority.

                And in truth, I doubt that Kevin Williamson and most conservatives have much experience being in the minority.
                In the entire life experience the typical conservative, he and his culture were the assumed default, the Norm (Heck, his name probably is Norm!).Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Hollywood Blacklist is good again.Report

              • Rmass in reply to Jaybird says:

                That would be a lot better of an argument if their was not a conservative Bollywood setup to always make sure conservatives are paid for their opinion writing the wingnut Wurlitzer is real.

                And Kevin still getting paid he just ain’t getting paid that Centrist money.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Rmass says:

                Is it about being paid or is it about being read?Report

            • North in reply to Aaron David says:

              Meh, the right has been screeching for safe spaces for as long as there’s been a right. They just didn’t call them safe spaces and the defined areas encompassed the entire country.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                Yeah, but the left has been rioting and I Just Kant Evening for them very noticeably the last few years.Report

              • North in reply to Aaron David says:

                Yes, the right has outgrown or more like outshrunk their rioting phase now that their kooks all moved into the organized party. Had we the internets and the professional nut farmers in the 70’s to 90’s we’d have had similar results from the right.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to North says:

                The right was rioting? I don’t remember anything in last 47 years. I do remember Bernie Bros. overturning cars, the facists of Antifa smashing windows (Mayor of Berkeley a big fan!) and WHO protesting for a good 20 years now.Report

              • greginak in reply to Aaron David says:

                Do the Bundy’s count? How about the Tea Party protests at townhalls where they brought guns and shouted down speakers? If Antifa counts as bad leftie riots then the actual self proclaimed nazis/fascist/KKK/etc counts as bad rightie stuff.Report

              • Pinky in reply to greginak says:

                “the Tea Party protests at townhalls where they brought guns and shouted down speakers”

                Are you implying that guns were visible and used as threats? I don’t remember this happening. Could you provide links?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Aaron David says:

                @aaron-david I don’t know how to say this without being inflammatory, but from my perspective – the (far, kooky, violent) right doesn’t need to riot the way the (far, kooky, violent) left does – because the FKV right has already captured law enforcement in a lot of places. They can shoot the people they want to shoot with relative impunity whenever they want. So folks with those violent tendencies on *that* extreme don’t need to join antifa, etc…. they just go to cop school. Or etc. And the government itself arms them, and has been for a very very long time (eg the overly violent cops (and other people) in opposition to the civil rights movement of the 60s, eg the cops who precipitated Stonewall).

                (This is definitely not all cops, I’m not trying to hijack the conversation entirely over to police violence and the roots thereof, I’m not saying every single overzealous cop shooter votes Republican, etc. Just – there is a there there, as far as I can see. Stonewall was a riot. but it was a riot in response to pre-existing *legally sanctioned* violence at the hands of NYC cops who believed more or less what today’s far right believes, only maybe not quite as hard…)

                In a different country, 20th-century China perhaps, it’d be the FKV left who had captured law enforcement, and the FKV right who would then either riot or be subdued…

                Which is of course also not to say that no riot is ever justified, either.

                Just, if you’re wondering where the asymmetry comes from, I think I know.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                * late 20th century China.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Maribou says:

                Well, a thread hijack is our middle name!

                But seriously, where is police violence the worst, urban areas (Democrat/left run areas) or rurallia (Republican/right run areas)? Or is it worse in the conflicted Suburban hellscape?

                Are they union officers? Or unrepresented? Big government types or not? I know that the NRA is a pretty pro-police, but there are so many other things in play regarding this that I don’t think that helps too much. There are too many different people joining too many different LEO groups too give, or get, a solid answer, at least in my eyes. But one thing they do have in common is the blessing (at some level) of the gov’t they operate under.

                Darryl Gates, LAPD was sworn as chief under a Democratic mayor, and that is considered one of the worst eras of policing. NY has had mostly Democratic mayors since WWII, while the NYPD was considered quite corrupt. Or does the government of a city have any effect on policing?
                Do we think the officers dealing with Eric Grey were R’s?

                Personally, I don’t consider that the police are conservative nor republican, not when the questions above are answered. They are the force of big government. And as such, represent the will of the government in power.

                Again, the police are the government acting within the scope of the law, and when they aren’t we as citizens are expected to bring them to heel. I could be wrong, but quelling a riot is pretty much within the scope of their legal actions, no matter if we at some level agree with the rioters.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Aaron David says:

                @aaron-david *shrug*

                It’s the recent changes in the Republican party that’ve put them unequivocally on the side of the Selma and Stonewall cops, rather than the other way around, is what I read between the lines of what you are saying. (Perhaps incorrectly.) Perhaps that is true. That’s not the left/right axis I was using. (Nor do almost any antifa vote Democrat.)

                However, the Stonewall riots happened in *response* to police violence (on privately owned property, no less), the violence didn’t happen in response to the riots. I will grant that the violence was within the scope of existing law. But the Republican party was prevalent in New York State at the time, so I’d be pretty comfortable pinning the laws, particularly how people were *treated* under the law which is a separate question, on Republicans – or at least on the right, which is what I actually said, party membership not being consistent with a left-right axis over time in this country. Maybe on the cognitive dissonance between having a super-socialist, relatively progressive mayor, and how the laws of the state and more conservative entities such as the police worked, but I’d really need to put more energy into research before I went with that complicated a hypothesis. At the moment I’m leaning more toward “mayors are a figurehead, the cops are strong enough to run themselves under their own volition and have their own leanings that are essentially independent of the mayor.”

                Many of the *existing* riots also happened in response to police violence, not the other way around.

                Also I think it’s pretty hard to decide whether police violence is worse in urban or rural areas, on a per capita basis, based on my experiences having lived in both. (And obviously, by what I said above about capture being possible by either side’s FKVs, places in the middle like your *average* suburb would tend to suffer it less.)

                If you start with my assumptions, namely:
                1) In rural areas there are far fewer people to look into what the police do (so the stats are BS, just as they are in cities, I’d suspect slightly more so)
                2) People in rural areas tend to “hush things up” in my considerable experience
                3) Rural areas get far less national media attention than urban areas do
                4) many of the people who’ve been most violently treated by cops and other arms of government in the last 100 years live in rural areas at least as much as they do in cities (Native American reservations, for example)…

                I’d be hard-pressed to jump to the conclusion you seem to be leading me to. On a per capita basis.

                If you want to argue that the Democratic Party has turned a blind eye to police violence for way too long, because it’s inconvenient for them to follow through on their stated ideals… again, I’m hard-pressed to disagree…

                But if you think the folks in the right who are just like the worst of antifa don’t end up disproportionately finding succor in one or the other LEO set-up (which isn’t the same as saying “most LEO officers are this,” at all – just saying the institution is set up in such a way as to shelter those folks) … I dunno. I don’t know how to convince you of that.

                It’s more of a “what if this is as true as it feels?” than a “this is an obvious truth” situation. But I have talked to a lot of LEOs in my time, a function of working the jobs I have as much as anything, and all the ones who made me nervous about their potential to shoot people were also, independently, pretty gung-ho about the Tea Party (or further to the right than that). I obviously can’t prove that’s my experience creating my prejudice rather than the other way around… but I do believe it to be the case. Particularly since I also know plenty of cops of all stripes, political, employmentwise, etc, who don’t worry me in the least.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                Just an addendum that I thought John Lindsay was a supersocialist relatively progressive mayor b/c he was running under the Liberal Party of New York’s banner at the time… but actually in the 60s/70s they were more centrist than anything, and Lindsay was also a centrist, crossing btw repubs and democrats for reasons that are so far opaque to me.

                Oh, New York State politics, you do love to confound those of us from other lands….Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Maribou says:

                My point was simply that there is no concrete tie between conservatives and the police, certainly no concrete tie between police violence and the right. And unless I see some hardcore data, such as the percentage of police as registered Republican, amount of unlawful police activity in rural areas, something along those lines, I will stick to my guns on this.

                I also have dealt with an unusually high number of LEO’s (used to work for a company that built emergency vehicles) in a city that was quite recently in the news for police issues. Those officers were pro law and order, left-right politics had nothing to do with it from the conversations I had. It was, however, a deep blue city in a deep blue state.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Aaron David says:

                The right was rioting? I don’t remember anything in last 47 years.

                It’s rare but it happens.

                Year 2000, during the Bush v Gore stalemate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks_Brothers_riot

                Similarly one of those militia groups staged a land protest out West within the last 5 years or so which seemed pretty lawless.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Ehh, it may have called a riot, but it was anything but. Now the land protests are closer, but I would refrain from calling them that without better info.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

                A riot is what we call violence outside of legal control.
                When you control the law, there isn’t any need to riot.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “The police aren’t here to create disorder. They’re here to preserve disorder.”–Richard DaleyReport

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                A riot is what we call violence outside of legal control. When you control the law, there isn’t any need to riot.

                Donno. I can think of lots of situations where the people who control the law were/are more free to use violence outside of the law, not less. The police turn a blind eye towards their favorites (or the favored of their political masters) and those favored run amuck.Report

              • scott the mediocre in reply to Aaron David says:

                I’m not a fan of rioting given current USAian circumstances (i.e. there were/are other times and places where rioting was/is justified, if not necessarily pragmatically a good choice): you’ll get no excuses from me for the various left wing rioters (e.g. Berkeley, Seattle). I would love to see a lot more straightforward condemnation of rioting and no-platforming from the center-left (e.g. Democratic officeholders) than we have had so far, although I’m not holding my breath: the present constellations don’t augur well for it.

                OTOH, assuming that USAian politics are basically stuck being bipolar (two battling coalitions with occasional migrations of subgroups from one coalition to t’other), I still have miniscule hope for the center left, versus no hope at all for the (center?) right meaning actually-existing Republican officeholders: to the best of my knowledge no Republican officeholders and exactly one right leaning pundit (Gracy Olmstead – not exactly a household name – writing in The Federalist: may her reputation soar) took clear anti-Bundy stance when his crew were merely rejecting law and threatening mass violence*.

                *as opposed to later when it turned out Bundy was also insufficiently circumspect on race relations – evidently that was a bridge too far, as opposed to say birtherism which was clearly an excellent opening bid to get the Republican nomination.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            I think part of the paranoia among conservatives is traceable to the fact that they are not symmetrical to liberals.

            Liberals have a worldview rooted in a vision of society, that results in policy preferences; Fairness translates into the desire for increased minimum wage, socialized healthcare, and so on.

            Conservatives have a worldview rooted in identity, and a vision of society that can’t translate into policy, at least not within the acceptable bounds of America as it exists.

            As their identity group shrinks, they see themselves encircled and embattled by forces which by conservative definition are implacably hostile to their existence.

            For example, the sense of panic about immigration is due to the latent idea on the right that nonwhite people are simply incompatible with the larger white American identity.
            The idea that America can be majority nonwhite and non-Christian and also be a place of harmony and tolerance is a view held by very few conservatives.

            Just the mere fact of these other people holding power is for them, de facto oppression.Report

            • I think you are right and there is merit in the idea that conservatives are more an individual identity whereas liberal/progressives gravitate easily to a communal idea. It can go to far in a generalization though, and not all those immigrants believe the same thing. It would be a stretch to assume all immigrants are going to be “non-white, non-Christian” as people are more complex than that. The vast majority of Hispanic immigrants are at least nominally Catholic (I realize some protestant would argue the Christian as Catholic, that is another topic for another day). There is a segment of conservatives that no doubt feel the way you explain, operating out of fear and perceived issues instead of real ones. But they are not all conservatives. And the segment that thinks that way is not as large as you may think. To those that do take a strictly racial/fear based approach, your final statement is true. TReport

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                The boundaries of the group that operates primarily on the white ethnic identity is of course fuzzy and overlapping with others.

                But it definitely holds the whip hand in the conservative world now, having elected a President and controlling the conservative narrative.

                I think the vehement rejection of the 2012 autopsy recommendations, as demonstrated by Trump’s victory demonstrates that Reagan/Bush/Romney style big tent conservatism is dead and buried and white ethnic nationalism forms the core of the conservative identity.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Derek Stanley says:

      I’d take it a step further: when conservatives complain, they’re going against their ideology; when liberals complain, they’re partaking in the essence of their beliefs. Modern liberalism is a constant comparison with others in search of slights.

      I think the original article misses the point about the media, however. It’s too easy to say that everyone is biased. Good journalism requires the author to take his biases into account and try to compensate for them. It’s not unattainable.Report

  4. pillsy says:

    The problem is less conservatives complaining about unfairness (which is a common enough element of political discourse to not really be notable in and of itself), and more that they’ve created a parallel set of institutions, especially media institutions, devoted to creating and serving a market that believes conservatives are treated unfairly.

    Of course, if conservatives have parallel institutions, it starts being much less obvious what, exactly is supposed to be unfair. A major news network, one of the highest profile newspaper’s opinion sections, and any number of magazines and websites, including some that are pretty respectable (Commentary, for example), and almost all political content on the radio are explicitly serving a conservative market.

    In order to sustain the sense of unfairness, then, conservative pundits need to ultimately convince their audiences (and themselves) that their product is worse than what the “mainstream” outlets produce, while paradoxically disparaging those outlets. After all, at a certain point you’ve gotta ask, if the New York Times is so terrible, why Fox News and the Wall Street Journal aren’t satisfactory, and indeed superior, options.Report

    • I think there is a lot of truth to what you say. My concern is folks who go to a unfair argument not out of mistreatment but out of not getting their way is the gateway to self-victimizing yourself into a mark for those that are monetizing such feelings. And that business is booming. Niche marketing isn’t wrong in and of itself, but it can quickly become the self-perpetuating echo chamber it was ostensibly formed to counter.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to pillsy says:

      “In order to sustain the sense of unfairness, then, conservative pundits need to ultimately convince their audiences (and themselves) that their product is worse than what the “mainstream” outlets produce, while paradoxically disparaging those outlets.“

      When you have the audience FNC or the big talk radio guys have, you don’t get to play the underdog. Funnily enough, they are all too happy to tout their numbers.

      “The most watched show on cable! Now, we’ll tell you something NO ONE in the news is talking about.”
      When you hear that 25 times a day across 5 different platforms… it can’t actually be true.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to pillsy says:

      And they don’t feel the need to have liberals on their shows either except as straw people who agree “Event Dennis Kucininch or Zell Miller……”, shut up and get screamed at. But liberals do feel a responsibility for having diverse viewpoints as a noble goal in and of itself but maybe not to the point of Williamson.

      I suspect that a big problem for the MSM is that they are too far removed from the trenches. The fights of politics don’t really affect their lives. It is just their 9-5 job and then they go to their parties and they might all be socially friendly. In short, they live the old bipartisan dream because unlike politicians, they do live in and around Washington D.C., New York, and Boston. Matt Y and McArdle are friends out of work because they do live next to each other.

      But for the readership, these issues are more real and not abstract.Report

  5. Chip Daniels says:

    I am sensitive to cries about unfairness, so I wouldn’t frame it as one of accepting unfairness with stoic resolve.
    The claims made here as representative of conservative whining are pretty broad, but in general the complaints made about unfairness seem mostly to be the loss of privilege, an alarm that alternative voices and opinions are now given equal weight.Report

  6. Aaron David says:

    I think conservatives are a little whiney, yes.

    But on the other hand, I see a group that once prided itself on being “tolerant” and “open” doing everything it can to shove its fingers into its ears and scream La-La-La I Can’t Hear You La-La-La – and losing a lot of elections in the process.Report

    • I would agree with you, and go further than any group that goes to “I cant hear you” will quickly be marginalized for just that very reason. It’s a phenomenon that is above parties or politics-people once they shut out everything but their own thoughts get passed by.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        Above politics? Absolutely.

        It isn’t going to collapse (or marginalize) overnight though. The institutions that are the spearhead of this silencing of dissent are in many ways too powerful to just collapse. Rather they will have a long half-life, not unlike the baseline conservative institutions of the ’80’-90’s and their collapse. And (slightly off topic) that is what we are seeing in the power shifts in R’s, along with the paradigm shifts in politics in general (eg; the collapse of the Blue Wall in the midwest.)Report

        • pillsy in reply to Aaron David says:

          I am having trouble interpreting “silencing dissent” in a way that is coherent with the existence of the parallel right-wing media institutions and, for that matter, academic institutions and think tanks.Report

        • Paradigm shifts are tricky things, you have a lot of factors such as population changes, economics, regional considerations, ect. Separate conversation but the “collapse of the blue wall” is really the changing of the Democrat party to new priorities and demographics. It’s not unlike the once “solid south” that was Democrat for years is now consistently Red State territory. Things are cyclical before they are political.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            The changes you describe (Wall and South) reflect both the changing nature of both parties, thus paradigm shift. And along with African Americans shifting en masse to the Democrats are now part of the new political reality. And the Republicans/conservatives (that is slowly changing also, along with the other end of the axis) are now (circling back to your OP argument) attempting to force the left to live up to its arguments of safety and inclusiveness, albeit in a whiny way. Whether this will work remains to be seen.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    This is probably a complete tangent on your post.

    As others said above, I think fairness is an ideal to strive for because I’m a liberal. I want life to be as fair as possible. But I’m also a small-c capitalist. There is a certain kind of person on the left that disdains materialism/consumerism but this is not my kind of liberalism. I’m not a spiritual or mystical person and I am fairly certain that there is no afterlife. Hence, the goal of liberalism in my view, should be a broad-based access to material comfort and decency.

    The question though is how to square the circle. On another blog, we were discussing Cory Booker’s guaranteed job program. Someone brought up the idea of questioning the power of the 40-hour week. Why can’t people survive while only working 24 to 32 hours a week? I think this is a noble goal but I don’t know how obtainable it is without a massive razing and reorganizing of society. My job couldn’t be done in a 40-hour week. A lot of people don’t want to do that or can’t do that.

    I have friends who are smart and kind but in no way capable of surviving and thriving in private business. It is simply not their brain type. I know other people who are highly-geared towards business success and work insanely long hours at their own companies or in industries known for long days like Investment Banking and Consulting. These are people who might fly Internationally frequently (like every week or other week for work) and spend a lot of time in hotels and airport lounges. They can handle meetings in one country all day and then spend their nights doing work for their home base country on a different time zone.

    I think that neo-liberalism and more humane versions of libertarianism would like to think that you can create a world where markets create something for everyone and all can thrive. In realty, I am not so sure. California is undergoing a huge housing crisis because tech is bringing in a lot of high-paying jobs but California (for a myriad of reasons largely of our own fault) is not building enough housing. This, predictably, leads to working and middle-class types getting squeezed because why rent to a cleaner or a teacher when you can rent to someone earning mid-6 figures? So how do you create a fair world where all can thrive? Because in the end, there is no way for the social worker and/or teacher (who are necessary) to compete with the person willing to work 60-80 hour weeks in private enterprise for high money.Report

    • I think, as another put it earlier, fair remains an ideal-a noble ideal-but it when it the reverse of crying unfair at everything and anything becomes crippling to all other advancement you have a problem. There are stereotypes involved here to some extent: the right seeing the lefts idealism as unrealistically utopian while the left can see the rights (supposed) insistence on self reliance as cold-hearted and uncaring. As you point out we live in a society where many are so comfortable they question the very notion of working long and hard, whereas historically and in many parts of the world that is bare minimum to survive. I think people break out the “unfair” argument too quickly and too broadly and it stops all further conversation or discussion.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        My view is that the broad scope of left politics is hoping for a post-political utopia. All lefties from a capitalist friendly neoliberal to the most radical communalist hope for or want a world where everyone has access to basic material needs. The debate on the left is how to get there.

        I used to be in theatre but decided the starving artist lifestyle wasn’t so fun. This made me go to law school. There were some difficulties because of the recession but overall I am doing well. I can afford nice things as they say.

        There are plenty of well to do Democrats but there are also a lot of people on the left who see my decision to pursue upper-middle class comfort and respectability as the problem itself.Report

        • There is the same sentiment on the right in some quarters. What you speak of isn’t so much a political or right/left thing but a station in life thing. I know the area I grew up in, rural, small, very insular, I can have problems just having conversations with people I know, love, and grew up with but they stayed and I didn’t and now to them I’m an “other”. A lot of it is relatability, there is some jealousy when you do well and others don’t, and a few true believers such as your starving artist friends and mine who stayed “where they belonged” who will cry “sellout”. Which is fine, but those are the people who often quickly fuss about unfair.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            I think it helps to think of cultural politics as really being about aesthetics. This exists on the left and the right. When people complain about gentrification and yuppie condo buildings, it is a complaint of aesthetics. The same when Palinista and Duck Dynasty types complain about “coastal elite liberals”, it is a complaint of aesthetics.

            I think a good frame work for a lot of political discussion might as well be The Bourgeois and their Discontents.Report

            • I suppose I’m rare then that I am s content at Bar Crudo in San Fransisco as I am beside the fire on top of my WV mountain. I don’t want my hillbilly brethren (I can say that, as I is one) whining about the coastal elites anymore than I want those elites joking about marrying cousins. Aesthetics, after all, is just a nice way of putting people judge the book strickly on the cover. Maybe “othering” is far more the problem than the policy debates.Report

              • Zot in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                When the liberal elites talk about marrying cousins, they ain’t joking.
                4th cousins to be precise, in the NYC Jewish Population.Report

              • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Zot says:

                above second is not legally recognized, just not recommendedReport

              • 4 cousins aren’t even really related anymore. You share the same great-great-great-grandparents. That’s the mom and dad of your grandparents’ grandparents.Report

              • I have WV jokes for days, cousins is the least of our worries. Including basic training when Sgt Perez had everyone clap for me getting my “first pair of shoes”.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                Last I read, first cousins is fine for a single generation, maybe 2. It’s only a problem after the third or fourth generation of successive first cousins breeding.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Right. Because the real issue isn’t the socially defined first-second-third cousin thing but the degree of genetic relatedness where you get the same ancestors popping up in the tree multiple times. In a relatively small, insular population with enough cuzzin’ lovin’ those pairings start to look genetically a lot more like aunt-nephew or even sibling relationships.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                This is actually a more interesting question than just How close is too close? There was a study conducted in Iceland to investigate the relationship between reproductive fitness vs genetic relatedness. Iceland was chosen as the setting for several reasons. It’s a relatively small population by modern standards, numbering in the hundreds of thousands rather than millions, and also relatively insular with a low rate of immigration. They also have a superb genealogical database that stretches back at least a couple hundred years.

                So they graphed fertility, as measured by number of grandchildren produced by a couple, against genetic relatedness and found that the peak was just around second cousin. Now it’s sort of obvious why “too close” is problematic but less so why “too distant” should be an issue. The explanation is that it’s essentially a mismatch, a lack of harmony if you will, between physical traits that need to work together but are the result of separate genes. For example, the size of your teeth is controlled separately from the size of the jaw. At worst, these mismatches can cause serious health issues; other times it can just result in a child being “funny looking” and sexually unattractive. To be sure, there isn’t a lot of difference between first, second, and third cousins in that regard but second is the sweet spot.Report

              • General rule of thumb should be if you have to graph it to see if its ok or not, probably time to just move along.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                You’re never going unite multiple kingdoms under personal rule with that poor attitude, mister.Report

              • Zot in reply to Road Scholar says:

                Sexual attractiveness is related to the immune system. And works via “opposites attract” — it’s in fact the portion of this that mediates away from consanguinity.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Zot says:

                @zot Heck, in the tiny island I grew up on, 2nd cousin marriages were not particularly frowned upon even when my parents were getting married, in more rural areas, and not by anybody when my grandparents were. (My own parents weren’t related, at least not to 4th cousin level, who knows about grandparents, b/c that more has shifted and people wouldn’t say now…) 3rd/4th cousins were really common marriage partners. Even today, we all joke about not wanting to look too closely at our family trees… pretty sure everyone there is at least 6th cousins if not closer, and yet we intermarry most of the time.

                (Note that I went off to Colorado, via Kentucky, Michigan, and upstate NY, for my spouse ;). But from what I remember of my ecology days, really anything past 2nd cousins, especially if there are some disparate genetic inputs also coming into the system, is not going to cause anything particularly noteworthy in the genetics.)Report

              • The version of that where I’m from is everyone is related if you go back far enough, so don’t go back far enough. In the Civil War, my mothers family had two Hughes, not related, meet and marry becoming my 2x great grandparents. Makes the family lines fun to untangle. Then on my Dad side there is schism where the Catholic side kept the original spelling (at least since they changed it at Ellis Island) of our last name while the protestant converts (or heretics depending on your POV) changed it (Donelson to Donaldson). Nothing more complicated than family.Report

              • @andrew-donaldson Ha, I’ve heard that one before as well. Also have some Pointed Different Spellings marking schism in my family trees.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              I think it helps to think of cultural politics as really being about aesthetics.

              The question then becomes whether aesthetics is closer to the category of “matters of taste” or “matters of morality”.

              If it’s the former, it becomes really jarring to see all this moral language in these cultural politics arguments.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

                In an ideal world, people would see this all as matters of taste and say “live and let live.” In the real world, there are a lot of blurry lines between taste and morality whether these are real or imagined.

                I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think there is anything to differentiate between spending 500 dollars on a tattoo, a handbag, or a nice pair of shoes/pants/whatever item of clothing, or a piece of consumer tech.

                There are very few people who seemingly take this view. In fact, people will fight fiercely against it. Tattoos, Video Games/Computer toys, etc are supposed to be signs of sincerity and authenticity. A fancy pairs of shoes or a handbag is not.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                You could be donating that money to a womens’ shelter, Saul.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

                D level trolling. People who buy 500 dollars of hunting gear could be donating to the charity of their choice too.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                That’s different.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:


              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Cultural reasons.Report

              • pillsy in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The aesthetics of my in-group are reflective of just the right balance of sophistication and down-to-Earth authenticity.

                The aesthetics of my out-group are a symptom of snobbish decadence or brutish stupidity. Maybe both!Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Well, money is fungible, so that 500 being spent on anything is a net positive. If you feel better from a dinner, a pair of shoes, a tattoo, or whatever, that’s good! But no more good than charity or hunting or other conservative “things” that others feel good about.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Aaron David says:

                Money is fungible but not all multipliers are created equal.Report

    • Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think that neo-liberalism and more humane versions of libertarianism would like to think that you can create a world where markets create something for everyone and all can thrive. In realty, I am not so sure.

      I may be one of those more humane libertarians you just described (although after reading through a lot of this, not sure how good I feel about humanity).

      Would you like my opinion of your assessment?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Dave says:

        Sure go ahead. Obviously that should be “In Reality….”Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I say this with love as we share the liberal tribe even if I’m a bit more rightward in it while you’re a little more leftward in it:
          In reality (you’re welcome) some liberals say there’re all kinds of things that are important and that market/neo/liberals can’t enumerate. But they reliably can enumerate that these people or that people need X thousand dollars a year in income on the barrel-head for X dollars of this thing and Y dollar of that thing to the second decimal place exactly every second Friday on the dot. Thank you very much.

          As for California Housing? It’s the Republicanism in a nutshell. The rich minority (single family housing owners) is using the poorer minority using imaginary stories (Gentrification, Rent Control etc) to protect their own interests instead of the interests of the minority because they don’t like the two realistic solutions to the issue which are either mass public housing (mah taxes!) or permitting denser construction (mah housing values/neighborhood qualities!). Environmentalism serves the role of religious conservatism in that it’s an emergency “Look Squirrel!” button whenever they need to change the conversation.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

            I think that there are cultural issues at play. From what I can tell, everybody Baby Boomer and older has really been culturally indoctrinated with the cult of the car and the single family home. They really can’t understand why sprawl leads to higher housing costs in a “its hard to get a man to understand when his salary depends on him not understanding” way.Report

            • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

              For sure, also the grey haired enviro-hippes can’t even conceive of development being pro environment. That is unpossible man!Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                You’d think that more people in less space is good for the environment would be something easily understandable. It isn’t. Same with more public transportation and walkable urbanism is better than car culture.Report

  8. InMD says:

    I think what’s happening is less a conservative problem than it is an abandonment of belief in the possibility of good faith from anyone not fully committed to whatever particular cause/narrative/perspective. There’s no Hanlon’s razor, only ideological actors pulling strings. I do think it’s a pretty childish way to view the world though, and the point about getting involved is excellent. The fact that so many people aren’t allows the idea that enemies are manning the levers of power to flourish.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

      I think what’s happening is less a conservative problem than it is an abandonment of belief in the possibility of good faith from anyone not fully committed to whatever particular cause/narrative/perspective.

      I agree that it’s not exclusively a conservative problem. Lots of people – enough to comprise whole movements of various political stripes – see institutionalized corruption in almost *all* our establishment institutions but identify its worst excesses as originating with and localized to the “other side”. Hence, the absence of good faith for ideological opponents.Report

      • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

        There was an article Freddie DeBoer wrote years ago about this that I still think rings true. It was the first thing I read by him and I think its relevant. The official site seems to no longer work but someone reprinted it here.

        This is a piece with the most glaring lesson of the Tea Party movement: that conspiracy theorizing threatens to dominate the American right. If you assume that the default position of decent Americans is the conservative position, and you have come to see every aspect of your life as ideologically positioned, and you think that conservatives are the victims of systematic oppression– well, Obama must have a secret cadre of brownshirts waiting to board their black helicopters, health care reform must be a secret attempt at establishing totalitarianism, every Democratic victory must be the product of ACORN and Chicago politics and other impropriety.

        The whole piece is quite good and it identifies something that I think is only getting worse.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to InMD says:

      It’s the conservative pundit’s stance of being firmly anchored in the rocks of religion, Western Culture, and the traditions of The Founders that makes whining like a three-year-old so hilariously incongruous.

      And yes, Michael Cohen’s third client who somehow does real estate deal that don’t involve third parties, i am looking at you.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        To be fair, the Declaration of Independence is hella whiny.

        “Wah, King George wants us to pay for the war we started! Wah, King George is letting the Frenchy Quebec people stay all Frenchy! Wah, King George doesn’t want us to violate treaties with the Native Americans! Wah, one of King George’s governors offered some slaves their freedom!”Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

      I’m not sure whether anybody ever had good faith in the other side. See domestic Cold War politics, every liberal was a commie to many Americans. The Internet is just making things worse.Report

      • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I don’t want to idealize the past, and you’re right, that America has always had episodes of moral panic and paranoia. What I’m not sure is that the political had consumed identity quite the way it has now.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

          I think that the political always consumed identity. We are just less aware of how things felt in the past because we are looking at them through the lens of history. Most African-Americans would have always felt American politics as a way to assert the primacy of white identity. Same for Native Americans and other Americans of color. Likewise, Anglo-Protestant Americans freaked out about the immigrants from southern and eastern European damning Anglo-Protestant America to hell with their Catholicism, Judaism, radicalism, too spicy food, and beer. Politics has always been about identity.

          The few times where politics did not consume identity was because the Anglo-Protestants managed to stage a definite win for a few decades like the period between 1920 and 1945. Even than there was still a lot of moral panic about jazz, booze, and movies. Its just that one identity was so dominate, other identities had little chance to succeed.Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    Here is an interesting essay on Vox regarding how the removal or defeat of Trump from the WH won’t save American Democracy:


    The issue is seemingly that a lot of people have lost faith in the idea that American government can solve their problems (real or imagined). I would say that this loss of faith exists on the left and the right* to varying extents. The big issue here is that people normally described as neoliberals or policy wonks or globalists or technocrats don’t have any good solutions. The only thing they can offer is a shrug and say “What else can we do? Every other ideology has been tried. The only thing to do is muddle along with the current globalist order and see how things work out.” But people see this as largely just accelerating wealth and income inequality. You have the jet-settling consultants with their high-incomes and then you have stagnant wages, increased costs of living, etc for the more local.

    But the globalist defenders want to acknowledge a problem but not do anything about it at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster and I say this as someone largely supportive of free trade.’

    *Though the Democratic Party is getting bolder in their policy solutions interestingly enough with Cory Booker’s federally guaranteed jobs pilot program.Report

    • Zac Black in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It’s certainly a recipe for the grim cyberpunk future we seem to be inexorably headed toward. Increasingly anemic nation-states, massive corporate power, and a mass of just-barely-not-impoverished people ruled over by hyperwealthy and insular oligarchs…that genre seems to be looking pretty prescient as life goes on.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Zac Black says:

        With less cool stuff than the typical grim cyberpunk. Real life is going to have fewer adventures and anti-heroes to. I’m not sure how anemic nation-states are. In theory, a motivated state can really do a lot to curb massive corporate power. Countries with active state traditions like Germany, France, Israel, and the Nordic countries seem to be doing fine or fine-ish against massive corporate power. Its countries with a weak state tradition or weak states that suffer.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Zac Black says:

        @zac-black At the time it came out, a lot of people thought it essentially described the time it was about (only with cyberspace). The grand cycle of sf….Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The issue is seemingly that a lot of people have lost faith in the idea that American government can solve their problems (real or imagined).

      I can’t call it a loss of faith, because I was never a believer in the first place. But I realized a long, long time ago – around the time that I was twelve – that the government wasn’t going to solve my problems. It helped that I grew up in a place where I could see how government solutions looked up close. Either way, it was probably one of the most important realizations that I’ve ever had. I look forward to more people coming to the same.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


        Can you offer more insight into your upbringing vis-a-vis that realization?Report

        • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

          The short story is that I grew up in an area with a lot of public housing projects. As a kid, I couldn’t understand why, if they wanted to help people, did they cluster so many of these projects in one isolated area. At the time, I didn’t know the full political economy of how this came to be, but it made me wary of what government “help” looked like, at least for certain people. Later, I learned the full story and it confirmed the understanding that I had earlier come to somewhat intuitively.Report

  10. Kazzy says:

    I think a few things are going on…

    We absolutely should demand fairness from the institutions that we uniquely imbue with power and control over our lives. Basically, the government and its many arms. The justice system should be fair. The education system should be fair. Etc. Should we expect fairness? No. All those institutions are ultimately run by humans and humans aren’t perfect. Decrying any of those institutions as unfair when they are legitimately being unfair seems reasonable if not necessary.

    But everything else? Life in general? Eh. What are you gonna do? Sure, it’d be nice if they were fair. But they aren’t and won’t be. And complaining about THOSE things being unfair ain’t going to do you very good.

    I’m an early childhood educator so the way in which children come to understand fairness is a well worn path for me. This year, I am in a supervisory position and let me tell you how loud the deafness in my ears is when teachers complain of unfairness.

    I don’t care if you think something is unfair. Tell me if something is wrong. If and when the unfairness itself is wrong, then we can talk about unfairness. Otherwise, focus on the problem itself… if there even is a problem.Report

    • gabriel conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’d add to your comment @kazzy , and also suggest that calling something wrong/unfair goes a lot further if you (the generic you) can articulate or propose a solution that people can actually adopt or implement.

      I’m willing to believe, for example, that the “gig economy,” so called, is unfair in many, many ways, but I have a hard time seeing a solution that doesn’t make the problem (to the extent it is a problem) worse.

      I’m not quite ready to say one always has to be able to propose a solution in order for calling something “wrong/unfair” to have merit. And maybe many things legitimately called wrong/unfair don’t have solutions.Report

  11. Jaybird says:

    Relatedly, Shania Twain has a tweetstorm in which she apologizes for saying that she might have voted for Trump.

    Something weird is going on.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

      What strikes you as weird about that?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

        I think it’s the thing where she was heavily criticized for saying that she might have voted for Trump (not that she *DID* vote for him, but that she might have had she been able to vote) and that heavy criticism was heavy to the point where she had to apologize for saying that.

        It doesn’t strike me as *THAT* weird that a country singer might vote for the Republican in an election but Twain said that and got jumped on to the point where she felt she had to apologize.

        That’s a weird amount of heavy criticism.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

          This is a woman that was, once upon a time, singularly aloof about a guy that was as good looking as Brad Pitt, as smart as a rocket scientist, and as cool as Elvis.

          But now, Donald Trump *does* impress her much?Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

          Do we have eyes or ears on the actual criticism?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

            I am guessing that it was the social media stampede.

            See, for example, the responses to this tweet. (It is? I believe? The first tweet she made after the interview came out? I think?)Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

              Curious… first two responses I see are criticizing her for backpedaling to feminazi pressure.

              Have we seen the stampede? Or you’re guessing?

              Is it possible her publicist simply said, “Nope. Take it back.”?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                There are 570 responses to that tweet, Kazzy. The responses that you’re talking about are hours old and refer to the apology she gave.

                The criticism stampede that I’m referring to happened prior to her giving the apology.

                Scroll down. And keep scrolling down. You don’t have to read all 570 responses (who has the time?) but you should, at least, scroll until you get to at least one that gets you to wince a little.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, now I’m confused.

                Is that the criticism stampede? I don’t know how Twitter works.

                Which responses are more recent… the ones at the top or the bottom?

                ETA: Best I can tell, the responses bounce around in time. And they run the gamut.

                Maybe I *really* don’t understand Twitter but 570 mixed responses to a celebrity hardly seems like a stampede. What am I missing?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                Twitter, when it started, gave you tweets in reverse chronological order. That is, you saw the most recent at the top and then you scrolled down to get the older ones.

                They now use an algorithm to screw up your timeline and the responses to someone else’s tweets and now it’s all helter skelter and awful. I can only imagine that it’s more monetizable now because I can’t think of any other reason to mess it up that badly.

                As for the stampede, well, that was Twitter. You say that out of 500ish comments, a handful of mixed ones don’t count as a stampede. Fair enough. Does Instagram count (1200 comments)? How’s about facebook (700 comments)?

                Sure, there are a lot of “I love your songs!” mixed in with the people saying things about her personally that strike me as being likely to strike her as being really harsh. (Though, granted, I had to scroll down to read them.)

                Looking through the other posts, she seems to normally get around 50 responses per tweet, 100ish-200ish responses per Instagram post, and facebook is just a mess in general. Most of her posts don’t have enough comments to say how many comments they have. (I don’t know what that threshold is.)

                What would count as a stampede, if that wouldn’t?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                This is helpful context.

                Do celebs typically read all that? Or pay someone to?

                FWIW, a colleague on the admin team will look at a 99% positive survey rating on a given task and insist we change course for the 1% we miss. People do weird things with feedback.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                I can’t imagine that they look at the comments themselves. I’m almost certain that they have someone whose job it is to be their social media person and post the same thing to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Myspace, and God only knows what else. Maybe two someones.

                I also imagine that they have some way of getting back to their celebrity, though, and saying “hey, people really loved your little youtube video where you were singing to your dog” or “people are calling your songs white supremacist after that interview you did”.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

                So I’m wondering did Shania see or hear the actual criticisms and say, “Oh no! I must fix this!”

                Or did one of those someones say, “Ugh… Females 20-24 are upset. Say sorry to quiet them down.”

                Those feel different and we probably won’t ever know.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

          That doesn’t seem weird to me. That seems about average for a celebrity failing to criticize a Republican during my adulthood.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

      There is something happening here.
      What it is ain’t exactly clear.
      There’s a man with a gun over there…
      Holy crap he isn’t wearing pants.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Zot says:

      Why is thatan example of something liberal?Report

      • Zot in reply to Kazzy says:

        I’d say the ACLU is an example of liberals defending the right to free speech.
        Now, I’ve also seen a lot of liberals defending hate crime laws, despite the obvious infringement (see above) on free speech.Report

        • Maribou, Moderator in reply to Zot says:

          @zot It’s also seeming quite possible at this point that you are Kimmi.

          Fair warning, if I determine you are Kimmi, you’ll be in breach of your suspension, which usually leads to a permanent ban.

          So if that’s the case, I’d quit *before* that happens.

          If it isn’t, and you’re a stranger with very similar patterns, I’m sure that will become clear in time.Report

    • Maribou, Moderator in reply to Zot says:

      @zot Speaking of not-entirely-free speech, if you develop a pattern of only or almost always coming in to quick make a vague, not actually hateful but kinda dubious comment related to Jews and/or Nazis, and then leaving again, I will eventually notice that you have such a pattern, and filter you out of our discussions. I’d say I’m approximately halfway to noticing that right now.

      Just FYI at this point. But having informed you, if I do end up drawing that conclusion, I probably won’t negotiate with you first, it’ll be straight to a lengthy suspension or a ban.Report

  12. Kolohe says:

    Is Erick Erickson’s bad take on State Dinner Jambalaya whining, or is it just a conventional Erik Erickson bad take.


    • greginak in reply to Kolohe says:

      That is a weak sauce take, not really hot enough for Jambalaya. He isn’t putting enough kinds of raw meat either, just some generic “we don’t like those durn furriner” foods. Nothing really seasonal in their either. This is a more a Beanie Weenie take. But i’m guessing the Erickwife will be feeding him his Hungryman Fried Chicken Dinner tonight.Report

  13. Andrew,

    I’m in the awkward position of disagreeing with the very things I agree with in your OP. To take your last two sentences,

    If conservatives or anyone else hope to attract people to hearing them out, a fully developed sense of handling unfairness in a constructive way is key. Otherwise, it just looks childish.

    That’s all true, especially the part about hoping “to attract people to hearing” what one says. But it also sounds a little like the claim that people can raise complaints or talk about wrongs, as long as they do so “with civility,” where a putatively uncivil statement disqualifies the underlying claim.

    I think crying unfairness, etc., is a balancing act (and I also think Kazzy above does a good job at striking the balance). You’re not really saying anything different (I don’t think). But I thought I’d highlight his comment.

    I also think that you’ve done a very good job of explaining your position in the comments here. Thanks for writing this OP.Report

    • I do appreciate your thoughts and having read it. Kazzy raised a good distinction between fair and wrong that really deserves to be fleshed out in longer form. And I think that such a distinction is important when you bring in what is “civil” in addressing it. If we game out a grievance to its conclusion I think the revolver theory of life is a good application here: you only have 6 bullet of righteous anger to use from now till death-is this issue worth one of those bullets. If not, keep it civil and work within the system. We are too quick to call for burn it all down and kill all the heretics over things that do not rise to that level. Making something that is personally unfair to us into a larger issue than it warrants can be the first step on that road, so it is worth talking about and discussing. Some things call for outrage and marching in the street. But few; most of the rest just need the grunt work of advocacy, but get memes instead.Report

      • I like the revolver theory idea. I tend to believe in it.

        Also–and I realize this is not quite the same thing we’re talking about–I tend to think of most protests and in-your-face tactics to be blunt instruments, best used when the target is obvious AND when smashing the target will actually do some good.Report

        • Its a nice little rhetorical/thought device to pull out, and applicable to many things isn’t it.

          I think historically we have somewhat over-romanticized protest and their effectiveness. If we honestly look at history, what was the last protests that actually accomplished a tangible policy/law change? Has there really been one since the Civil Rights Movement? The LQBT community perhaps could claim that, although much of their progress was judicially through the courts before public opinion and laws shifted to their favor. But its a short list, if there is a list at all. The civil rights marches worked because the contrast of non-violence displayed the aggression and ugliness of those they resisted, very different from “in-your-face, smashing the target” of some today. In the new era of fundraiser-driven politics, marches and protest are as much big business as they are movements for change. All the more reason to be careful what we march for.Report

          • The most recent candidate I can think of (in the US context) was ca. 2005 when there was an immigration bill pending that some pro-immigration activists believed would be very harmful to ethnic minorities. There were pretty large demonstrations in Chicago and other cities. And the bill never passed. Those protests were effective, provided we assume the bill would have passed otherwise. (Perhaps that’s too big an assumption? I forget the specifics of the whole situation.)

            But I think your point still stands.Report